Benedict Isles

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I listen to this song on full volume now, and I’m suddenly soaring through time, being transported six years back on the day we brought him to his final resting place.

His name was Daniel. Daniel Lescano.

It was a sunny day in Los Banos, Laguna, our hometown. The final rites took place in a small chapel near their house. I was surprised at how big the crowd was. People had to wait under the sun, some were gathered in groups to share and hear stories and testimonies of how he fared in life, how his short journey touched the lives of his family and friends, how he lived as a Christian son of God. The rites and services seemed like forever. We felt like we were waiting for something we’re not actually waiting for. It was one of the saddest days of my life, and I could not believe how in death, he was still able to make it like a spectacle, how he was able to keep the event somewhat light, somewhat jovial. I could not believe that in death, he was still able to warm our hearts and make us feel like he was just there cracking jokes and executing his famous dance moves with us.

That’s Daniel. A funny chunky guy who’d never run out of antics and dance moves and epic fail punchlines. He was our clown and jester, an oftentimes idiot boy who’d never fail to make us laugh so hard. But he was a different kind of person in the individual level. I got close to him when I had to stay with my sister in an apartment room in UPLB. I was still in high school then, and most of the time, I’d be alone at night. Daniel would suddenly come knocking on the door bugging the hell out of my peaceful rest. We’d hang out in Carabao Park and watch college girls walk by. He’d invite me to have dinner in their house. He’d ask me to do his assignments (even his younger brother’s assignments for Christ’s sake). He even made me write a love letter using my own handwriting what the fuck was that? He was the craziest boy I encountered in my younger years. Good times.

This song I embedded above was played in Edric’s car as we joined the parade of love and support for Daniel in his last day on earth. The bass was so loud and powerful, it felt like the windows and the windshield were shaking. The song was playing so loud, the noontime daylight was blinding, but it was the darkest and coldest 4 minutes I’ve ever had. It felt surreal, I felt so weak and powerless as a human being. And it got into me: how life is so abrupt. So sudden. So unfair. So short and limiting. Two weeks before that we were just hanging around in Carabao Park one night. He even wanted to have a couple of drinks, but Edric and I turned him down. I never knew it was supposed to be our last hurrah.

That halo drawing has already been there long before he passed away. This was first year high school. Too bad Daniel and I don't have any photo together.

That halo drawing has already been there long before he passed away. This was first year high school. Too bad Daniel and I don’t have any photo together.

I miss you, Daniboy, my man. Keep the angels laughing in heaven. Guide me by day. Guard me at night.

Seems like yesterday we used to rock the show
I laced the track, you locked the flow
So far from hanging on the block for dough
Notorious, they got to know that
Life ain’t always what it seem to be (uh-uh)
Words can’t express what you mean to me
Even though you’re gone, we still a team
Through your family, I’ll fulfill your dream (that’s right)
In the future, can’t wait to see
If you open up the gates for me
Reminisce some time, the night they took my friend (uh-huh)
Try to black it out, but it plays again
When it’s real, feelings hard to conceal
Cant imagine all the pain I feel
Give anything to hear half your breath (half your breath)
I know you still living your life, after death

This is Day 3 of my 30-Day Blog Challenge: A song that reminds you of something sad.

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I was single back then, newly recovering from a broken heart and from a long series of weekly night-outs with my best buddies Edric, Ian and friends. I figured it’s time I get a real, decent job after months of living on irregular income. Enough of hungover mornings wondering how I was able to go home the night before. Enough of wasted time and money constantly applying for a call center job when in the end I’d back out and just turn down the offer. In short, enough of being a bum. It’s time I get a real job where I can use and hone my skills. And where I’d have an entirely new environment to grow and start my career with.
I signed my first ever employment contract at Baich Group of Companies. And I never regret having done so. Here’s why:

I learned to believe in love and fate again.

I wish it wasn’t that cheesy, but it’s true. Baich Group consists of Printsonalities, Written in Ink, Purple Tag and The Wedding Lounge. These companies are owned by spouses Alvin and Chiw Bailon, reputable entrepreneurs in the Philippine wedding industry. First month into the job, I spent most of my time at work reading articles in wedding sites, watching JMag and Bob Nicolas wedding films, and of course knowing and living the company story altogether. I drowned myself in stories of destinies and happy endings, and then I found myself slowly becoming a believer once again. It was pretty cool being in a business serving people making happy memories. Maybe it was fate’s way of showing me that with love, life can’t be that bad after all.

I learned how to write like a girl.

Well, obviously, this post is an example. I was hired in Baich Group as their first and only in-house writer, with my services shared across the four companies. Primarily, though, our efforts were focused on building Printsonalities’ new website and company blog. I had to learn how to write fragrantly and elegantly at the same time to be consistent with the brand that only foreigners, celebrities and socialites can afford. I wrote invite descriptions like this up to blog articles such as this, and until now it still amazes me how I have fleshed out such amounts of cheese.

It was a happy and pleasant working environment.

That’s what really got me when I came in for the first interview up to the final interview with the owners themselves. The office was just so light and welcoming. You’d easily feel at home and you’d feel like everyone’s happy. It’s just consistent with the brand, that if I was a customer back then, I’d never think twice getting their services. That’s just how Sir Alvin, Ma’am Chiw and Ma’am Noky managed the companies back then (I’m sure until now.).

Speaking of management, management was impressive.

I had a hands-on/eye-witness experience in the business development and marketing side of the companies. It was very humbling to sit in meetings with the Executive team and the whole marketing team. I was impressed at how they practice democracy and dynamism in the company, giving ownership and responsibility to each of the members of the team. It taught me the importance of making your employees happy. It showed me the value of trusting people who work with you for the same goals. It was like a real family with Sir Alvin and Ma’am Chiw as our parents and Ma’am Noky as our Aunt.

I found my one true love.

..that is online marketing and SEO. I owe it to them all. To Sir Anton Sheker, our SEO consultant who worked with us building Printsonalities, Arnel Tirones, who practiced SEO and web development with me, and of course to Sir Alvin and Ma’am Chiw. I may have abruptly left the company then, but working with you guys was fateful for me. Yours is an avenue where people can grow, where happy occasions are gloriously celebrated and where people find their true path (at least for me). I remember you telling me during my final interview that you were praying for someone for that particular role. I may have not been the one God used to answer those prayers, but you were definitely the instruments He used to answer mine. You contributed greatly to where I am now and where I want to be, and I’ll forever be grateful to you.
This is Day 2 of my 30-Day Blog Challenge: Describe your first job.

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More than half of my birthday month is over, and I’m launching this site. I registered this domain name almost two years ago, but I’ve never had the courage to make it live up until now. There are so many things happening at the moment, so much on my plate that I’m not really sure if I can pull this thing off. I could not even faithfully update my CBTL “Brew Your Best Year” planner on a daily basis. Even though I love my job, I feel like my work drains so much of my energy. I know I’ve been doing great things, and I can see the results of our team’s efforts since Day 1, but my boss is right, I just need to put more structure in everything. Same goes with my life, with how I spend each and every day of it. Because I know deep inside that I can do more, I can be more. And my work doesn’t really have to drain me.
And I figured, I just need a routine, something that can challenge me, on top of the challenges at work and in my own venture. So here, I’m voluntarily signing up for a 30-day blog challenge. The first writing prompt asks me: What do you look forward to this year?
In our company’s first town hall meeting last January, Pedro Baliza, one of our founders, said, “This year is the year for making things happen. 2014 is the year to make it or break it, but this year is the best year to start working for your dreams.” When he spoke these words, I was believing in him with all my heart, nodding my head and clinching my fists so hard wanting to punch somebody in the face. Because I knew I am about to make things happen. I bet my soul for it, and this is all I’m looking forward to.
Making these things happen. One at a time.

1. Win the comparison race with

I just renewed my contract with Nova Founders for six more months to primarily oversee the team’s digital marketing operations for It is one of the startup companies under CompareAsia Group led by ex-Rocket Internet guys who have built dozens of successful Internet ventures across Europe and Southeast Asia. We aim to help Filipinos save time and money by providing them information that can help them make sound financial decisions. I can see the need for this in our country, and I’m glad that we’re further improving our product and exploring different opportunities to be the most complete and the most comprehensive price comparison platform. A lot still has to be done, but working with a group of talented people, I’m sure we can win this. I told my boss I can’t go without seeing our venture smash all competitors, so I signed, ready to eat them all alive.
By the way, we are hiring! We currently need: Business Analyst, Testers (could be fresh graduates ready to jump in testing with the option of working on development as well), Business Intelligence Consultant, PHP Engineers (Junior and Senior) and Web Developers (Junior and Senior). Feel free to contact me, and let’s make it happen!

2. Take charge of my finances

Twelve hours a day I read, write, and edit materials about personal finance. I harvest and target keywords all about financial products and basic financial management. I think it’s just fateful that I’m in this venture so I’d have no choice but to really really really start hitting my own financial goals as I preach. And my first goal is to settle all liabilities. I’ve had the chance to tick this off my list last year, but I failed to do so. Now, by hook or by crook, this year, I won’t have any minuses in my portfolio. That’s when I can start working on more and more assets and start building for my future. I just have to activate all income-generating channels that are just within my reach, and I’m sure I’m making it happen!

3. Launch my own venture, Scale it up

One of these channels I’m talking about is my brainchild, my own venture that I’m sure is gonna take off this year. It was January when I met these guys who have the same fire and passion as me, the first ones to hear my top secret business idea that I’ve been conceiving for over two years now. I was hesitant at first. They have the capacity, network and resources; they could have eaten me up alive. I was afraid to divulge my million dollar idea. But then we met. And ten minutes talking to this one hotshot Chinese guy, it’s game on. I have partners. I sold the idea. And we’re making it happen this year.
I know that anyone from the Internet startup scene would just laugh at me if they read that I’m calling myself an Internet entrepreneur or technopreneur. It’s laughable, I know, considering that I still have a lot to learn to be a full-fledged one, and it’s not a term you can just tag yourself. But it’s just my own way of programming my mind to control reality. It’s my way of striving to actually make it happen.

4. Sponsor my brother’s college education

I need someone I can really trust to be with me in this path. I’m not a hardcore full-stack developer or software engineer to build my own product from nothing. But soon, I want someone by my side trustworthy enough and skillful and talented enough to make my dreams happen, to be my builder while I’m the architect. I want to sponsor my second youngest brother, Joseph, to pursue his college degree on Information and Technology (IT). He’s the one who at three years old was enumerating to me the parts of the skeletal system. He had to stop this academic year, but I aim to sponsor his education this coming June. I will make it happen.

5. Enjoy life, Meet new awesome people, Go to places

It’s more like the popular #100HappyDays some of you are so engrossed in these days. I want something like that for the rest of the year, but I look forward to being consciously and generally happy about each and every day not having to deliberately find or create something to make me happy. At the end of the day it just boils down to being thankful for what’s happening in my life and for the opportunities that unfold day by day. Let’s make LIFE happen!

This is Day 1 of my 30-Day Blog Challenge.

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