Category Archives: Print

Home 101: Don’t Get Burned

One firefighter lists the do’s and don’ts to fire safety
originally published in Good Housekeeping, April 2004, page 112

When it comes to fires, this year got off to a blazing start: the first 15 days of 2004 saw Metro Manila suffering a succession of fires, mostly in residential areas.

Most fires are caused by negligence, such as leaving burning candles or plugged-in appliances unattended. Prevention, says Chuck Chua, president and fire chief of the San Andres Volunteer Fire brigade, is still key. He offers advice on staying fire-free.

  1. Have a fire exit. When designing and building your home, make sure it conforms to fire and building codes. Is there a fire escape or a window exit? your window may be barred but make sure the grills have an access point with the padlock key hung nearby.
  2. Have a plan. Establish an escape route, a meeting point, and a roll call or buddy system. To remain effective, conduct a fire drill to familiarize your family on the fastest and safest ways out.
  3. Prepare an emergency bag. Keep important documents (like passports, land titles, bank papers, etc.) in a yellow or orange carry-all. If you must evacuate, the bright-colored bag can be easily spotted and carried out.
  4. Regularly check and maintain electrical wirings, as well as LPG tanks, stoves and stove valves — the last three in order to prevent gas leaks.
  5. Post emergency numbers beside each of your telephones at home to make it easy to report a blaze. When calling in, give the exact location of the fire, your complete address and the nearest corner or any landmarks.

Of course, a fire could still break out despite your best precautions. What should you do if you get caught in one?
Don’t panic is Chua’s first rule. Just calmly follow the procedure you and your family have agreed on. More valuable tips from Chua:

  • Evacuate immediately. Make sure to alert everybody by shouting “Fire!”
  • Watch where you go. Before opening a door, check for heat using the back of your palm. If the knob is cool enough to touch, it’s safe to open. If the corridor is starting to fill with smoke, crawl out to the nearest exit. The space between the floor and the smoke offers some breathable air. Use a piece of cloth to cover your nose and mouth to keep you from inhaling the smoke.
  • If the door is hot to the touch, do not open it — the fire may already be on the other side. use a wet towel or blanket to block the base of the door and bar any smoke. Stay near the windows and scream or do whatever it takes to call the attention of firefighters and rescuers.
  • Just leave your things. When you have successfully escaped a burning house, do not return for anything. Lives are top priority, not material things.
  • Do a head count. In case a family member is missing, inform the firefighters as soon as they arrive, explain in detail the ins and outs of your house, and let the firefighters do their job.

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The San Andres Manila Volunteer Fire Brigade is a member of the Association of Volunteer Fire Chiefs and Firefighters of the  Philippines, Inc. Their hotline, open 24/7, is 16-0-16.

Market Yourself for an International Career

published in Girlfriend magazine, August 2008, pp.32-35

Here’s how to tailor your resume for international headhunters – and how to see through scams.

Whether you’re a fresh grad or an old-timer in the workforce looking for greener pastures, there’s a big chance that you’ll scan the classifieds and online job postings, only to sigh over the slim pickings. What now? Why not train your eyes abroad – go overseas!

“The advantage of the international job market is that they are not as restrictive as local hiring when it comes to, say, gender or age”, according to Vanessa dela Cruz, an HR officer in the finance sector. “As long as the applicant have the competencies and skills for the job, hiring managers would consider the candidate as a potential hire.”

But given the highly competitive jobmarket, how can one’s resume would be noticed amidst the sea of equally-qualified applications?

WRITING THE EFFECTIVE RESUME

For one, study the job you’re applying for. “Highlight your ‘job fit’ to the position you’re applying for. Tailor your resume in such a way that your skills will closely match the requirements of the job vacancy”, dela Cruz advised.

In his book “The Elements of Resume Style”, professional career coach Scott Bennet advises applicants to streamline their resumes to catch and keep a hiring manager’s attention. “…the most effective communicators…create brief resumes. The ability to communicate effectively is prized by every employer. Show employers you possess this skill by ‘writing short’. Candidates who ‘write long’ reveal (1) an inability to organize and convey complex information quickly and (2) disrespect for the reader’s time.” A maximum of two pages is all it should take. “As a hiring officer, short but concise is preferred”, as dela Cruz puts it.

What should go in a resume? Opening it is the header: your full name, your address, your contact details such as land line number, mobile number and email address. When drafting your resume for an overseas employer, remember the following:

    • Omit academic degrees (eg., MBA, MD, MFA, PhD) from your name on the resume. Your identity and training a two different things. Plus, this kind of information is more appropriate under the ‘Education’ section; avoid duplication.
    • Make sure you have an appropriate email address. Really now, do you think your application would be taken seriously if your email address is something like “lusciousgeisha@email.com”?
    • Make sure that your phone numbers include the correct area code. For Manila, add the prefix +632. Those in the provinces can look up their area code from their local telephone service provider.

THE THIGH BONE CONNECTS TO THE KNEE BONE…
The best way to sell your skills and experience is to draft your resume in an easy-to-read yet professional format. Your resume can broken down into sections: Education, Work Experience, Software Skills, Language Skills.
For a new graduate, or have recently completed graduate school, and you have little relevant work experience, the Education section comes first. Those who finished an MBA, masteral or doctoral degree are required to indicate his grade point average (GPA) on the resume.

Under Work Experience, indicate the starting month and year and the ending month and year of each work entry. Exclude bullets; instead, write three to six action statements in a paragraph as a position description or blurb per position.
The Software Skills section conveys your ability to use and navigate computer systems. List the operating systems you use (e.g., Windows, MAC OS, Linux), office applications (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, FrontPage, Firefox) and programming languages (e.g., C++, Java, HTML) when applicable.

Fluency in a language other than English and Filipino is another plus. List down the languages you can read, speak and write and specify your degree of fluency in each.

Include the Memberships section only if your membership helps you build skills relevant to an employer, or it effectively showcases your marketable skills.

For the Personal Information section, in the U.S., listing one’s age, height and weight (unless applying for an acting, modeling, physical education or law enforcement job), hobbies, interests, health and marital or parental status on a resume is generally a waste of the reader’s time, and may be seen – depending on the organization’s culture – as inappropriate, irrelevant, silly or of no interest. Your resume is not an autobiography.

The References statement can be excluded, as employers will ask for this separately.

FORMATTING AND PRESENTATION

To ensure that you set the right tone for your document, use the proper elements to showcase it with.

Paper – plain white paper is the way to go. It conveys both professionalism and credibility. Bookpaper 120gms. is good for starters.

  1. Ink – print your resume in black; any other color, and you risk not being taken seriously by employers.
  2. Margins – set all margins (left, right, top and bottom) to one inch. This will make your paper look neater, and make it stand out of the stack.
  3. Font – for better response, choose a serif font (such as Times New Roman); according to research done by advertising experts, these types of fonts are easier for readers to understand and thus generate more responses than sans serif or flat fonts (such as Arial).
    • To maintain a crisp, organized look, use no more than two font sizes. Use one size for your name (14 to 18 point), and another for the rest (11 to 12 point).
    • Boldface, italics, all caps, underlining – use boldface only on your name and the section headings. Italics can be applied to Latin honors (eg., cum laude) and other foreign phrases, and to names of publications, such as your school paper.
  4. Never use all caps, as many readers could construe this as rude (ie., the written equivalent of shouting), as well as underlining, as this could distract the reader from other parts of your resume.

Finally, before sending off your resume, make sure to proofread it and clean up any typos you find. Don’t rely on the built-in spell-checker of your program, as it is not an editor.

Dela Cruz reminds applicants, “An impressive comrehensive resume is one tool to land at least an interview; but in this growing job market, its really difficult to send just one application to one company. Better to send to all vacancies you feel you have the capacity to perform at your best..parang raffle, the more entries, the more chances of winning!”

SIDEBAR: DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RESUME AND CURRICULUM VITAE

A resume is not a curriculum vitae (CV). A CV is generally used by academics and is longer than a resume. It includes detailed chronologies of presentations, publications, monographs/journals, field, teaching, and research experiences, and can run many pages. The sheer length and detail of a CV makes it inappropriate for a resume.

BEYOND THE RESUME: OTHER SKILLS REQUIRED
According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), workers’ qualifications must now include knowledge and appreciation of cultural values of the destination countries aside from language proficiency. The overseas labor market is becoming complex as it is now requiring specialized competencies for certain occupations. Depending on the position and the destination country, some of these qualifications include cultural adaptability, skills training, computer training, elderly and pet care, and a basic knowledge of the local culture, laws and racial sensitivities.

SIDEBAR: CLICK FOR A JOB ABROAD
To maximize your job search, it pays to broaden the parameters of the hunt. In today’s fast-paced, wired world, going online can pay off with more leads than by limiting your search in the classifieds of the broadsheets. Some of the popular job search engines include:

    1. JobStreet.com – sign up for a free account, then tailor your search by the country of your choice. Countries supported include those in Southeast Asia such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong,
    2. JobsDB.com – also offers a free account, as well as access to job listings abroad such as Southeast Asian countries.
    3. Workabroad.ph – It is an overseas job portal that is also a Philippine manpower pooling site for the top recruitment agencies in the Philippines accredited by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

SIDEBAR: HOW TO SPOT ILLEGAL RECRUITERS

Working abroad involves a series of procedures to follow. You have to secure a passport and work visa, prepare application forms and other documents to support your application describing the employment, your reason for travel, and your financial status, undergo a medical examination by a Department of Health-accredited clinic or hospital and participate in a pre-departure orientation seminar.
Given how costly and time-consuming the process is, some applicants wishing to fast-track their application turn to immigration consultants that promise immediate departure. Unfortunately, most of the applicants just end up being victimized by illegal recruiters. To avoid becoming victims, here are additional information and tips from the POEA:

HOW TO IDENTIFY AN ILLEGAL RECRUITER

    • Immediately asks for a placement fee or any corresponding payment without issuing a receipt
    • Promises a speedy departure to another country
    • Requires immediate medical examination or training even if there is still no ready employer or contract
    • Transacts business with applicants at public places like restaurants, malls, etc. and not at the office of a licensed agency
    • Conducts house-to-house recruitment of applicants
    • Does not give enough information about the job being applied for
    • Claims that there is a direct employer and the applicants do not have to pass through POEA
    • Promises a speedy departure of the applicant using a tourist or visit visa
    • Does not have any employment contract or work visa to present
    • Introduces self to be an employee of a licensed recruitment agency but does not have any ID
    • Introduces self to be connected to a travel agency or training center
    • Encourages applicants to gather more applicants to speed up departure
    • Does not give enough correct information about himself such as complete name or address
    • Promises to send documents to POEA for processing (especially in the case of EPS-Korea)
    • Encourages you by saying that he has sent one or more applicants already using a tourist visa

MODUS OPERANDI OF ILLEGAL RECRUITERS

    • Escort Services – Undocumented workers are escorted at the airport or any international exit to evade checkpoints set to check on the documents of workers.
    • Tourist/Worker Scheme – Workers leave the country purportedly as tourists but in reality is being deployed as workers abroad.
    • Assumed Identity – Workers particularly minors are deployed abroad under an assumed identity.
    • Direct Hiring – Workers are hired by foreign employers without the intervention of licensed recruitment agencies and are deployed undocumented and without protection.
    • Trainee Worker Scheme – Hired workers are deployed allegedly not for employment but for training purposes only and will return to sending company after training.
    • Backdoor Points Scheme – Workers are sent abroad not through regular exit channels like airports but are deployed usually through cargo ships.
    • Tie-Up System – Unlicensed recruiters with foreign principals who are usually in the blacklist use the name and offices of licensed recruiters in their illegal activity.
    • Visa Assistance/Consultancy Scheme – Firms that offer services including the pairing of workers with foreign employers and promising applicants immigrant visas but are in reality engaged in the recruitment business.
    • Blind Ads Scheme – Workers are enticed to apply and send cash payments addressed to a Postal Office Box without the worker having the opportunity to communicate personally with the recruiter.

HOW TO AVOID ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT

    • Do not apply at recruitment agencies not licensed by POEA.
    • Do not deal with licensed agencies without job orders.
    • Do not deal with any person who is not an authorized representative of a licensed agency.
    • Do not transact business outside the registered address of the agency. If recruitment is conducted in the province, check if the agency has a provincial recruitment authority.
    • Do not pay more than the allowed placement fee. It should be equivalent to one month salary, exclusive of documentation and processing costs.
    • Do not pay any placement fee unless you have a valid employment contract and an official receipt.
    • Do not be enticed by ads or brochures requiring you to reply to a post office (P. O.) box, and to enclose payment for processing of papers.
    • Do not deal with training centers and travel agencies, which promise overseas employment.
    • Do not accept a tourist visa.
    • Do not deal with fixers.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM

For violations of recruitment laws and rules and regulations by any recruitment agency such as overcharging of placement fee, premature collection of placement fee, misrepresentation, withholding of travel documents, failure to deploy without valid reason, failure to reimburse documentation expenses when deployment did not take place without the worker’s fault, and substitution and alteration of employment contract, you may file administrative cases at: the Legal Assistance Division, Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch, 4th Floor, POEA Building. You may also file your complaints at the nearest POEA/DOLE regional office and NBI/PNP headquarters in your area.

Pretty Young Thing

cover story for Girlfriend magazine, August 2008, pp.56-59

Jodi Sta. Maria-Lacson is among the new generation of cool young moms, juggling work, life, play and family like a pro and looking damn good while she’s at it.

She beguiled us as Lia Buenavista in “Pangako sa ‘yo”, caught our eye in her portrayal of George in “Tabing Ilog”, and showcased her charm and dramatic flair in films such as “Jologs,” “Bagong Buwan”, “Birhen ng Manaoag” and “Noon at Ngayon”. Yet behind the doe-eye beauty lies a practical, no-nonsense air that is refreshing for its honesty and directness. Meet Jodi Chrissie Sta.Maria-Lacson, actress from the Star Magic stable of ABS-CBN.

NO CLOTHES HORSE

This writer arrived at the venue exactly on time, yet was still beaten from the early-bird award by the actress herself. Already seated before the make-up artist, she exudes a serene air amidst the bustle of pre-shoot preparations. Her son, Thirdy, romped about, under the watchful eye of his mom and yaya.

When asked for shopping tips, she exclaimed “Shopping?!?!” before breaking out into peals of laughter. “Naku, I’m not into shopping talaga. Di ako mahilig dun.”

But when prodded, she admitted ”I buy what I need for work, but for porma, I always wear pants, blouse, slippers. Kasi i have a hard time putting on (clothes), kung anong fashionable or stylish, kasi I’m used to jeans.”

“What I do, I bring all my clothes sa set then they mix and match and they tell me ‘O, you wear this and ganyan.’ Pero yung ako lang mag-isa, effort ito for me”, she said. “Besides, I get my clothes from my sponsors.”

But when it comes to comfort, this lady has specific likes. “Sa sandals, basta wala lang straps sa likod, walang masakit.”

When it comes to her son, “pag nasa mall ako, asahan mo, you’ll see me in the baby section. Clothes, toys ‘di masyado ‘coz ang dami na rin kasi e. Yung first birthday niya, I asked for diapers and milk lang for my kid.”

A LOW MAINTENANCE GAL

Her easy, practical ways is also mirrored in her minimalist beauty routine. “I buy lang what I need; kung hindi naman kailangan, I really don’t spend. Favorite brands ko? MAC, Shu Uemura, The Body Shop. Nice yung brushes ng Body Shop, kasi they’re not too expensive pero super-soft ang bristles nila”, she explained.

“There’s also this product I’m endorsing, it’s called Hype. It’s a local brand. Yung soap niya, yun ang ginagamit ko pang lather sa face, then I use exfoliating gloves every other day. Sa skin care, Hype lotion. For shampoo, Pantene.”

Warming up on the topic, Jodi reveals her preference for Art Deco makeup remover. “I wash my face with soap and water, then Hype facial cream. Kasi to begin with, ‘di oily yung face ko.” The make-up artist concurred, “maganda yung skin niya”.

As for an exercise regimen, she confesses to having none. “Di ako nag gi-gym. I guess its because I’m blessed with good genes. Pero pang-karpintero ako pag kumain, makanin ako at ‘di ma-ulam”, she giggled.

JODI ABOUT TOWN

A peek inside Jodi’s bag reveals a clutch of daily neccesities she considers she cannot do without. “Number one is my cellphone, as its my way to communicate with my son and husband, and sa mga angels sa house. And then, my lip balm, ‘coz lagi, every single day of my life, dry ang lips ko. Lagi siyang nagka-crack, so must-have ko yan sa bag, ‘di pwedeng wala. Wallet. I have a novena, a small prayer book given to me by Jomari Yllana. Nagpapalit-palit man ako ng bag, laging kasama yang prayer book na yan. And I find time to pray with it, kahit minsan sa car ko, or while waiting for my turn to tape”, she said.

A PSP player also makes an occasional appearance, for those times she needs to while away the hours in between takes.

AT HOME WITH JODI

Outside of work, Jodi says she likes to live an unfettered lifestyle, without typical celebrity trappings of a wild and reckless nightlife. ” “Sa house lang ako, kasi hindi ako mahilig pumunta ng mall para mag-shopping, dahil unang una, hindi ako mahilig mag-shopping”, she reiterated. “Ang relaxation ko lang is yung my time with my son, when we go to the zoo or sa mall, that’s it.”

Currently, the family is enjoying bonding time with her latest purchase: a karaoke machine. “Ay, everybody loves singing! My favorite song? ‘Bring Me to Life’ by Evanescence, as well as any song by the Carpenters”, she laughingly said.

When their house was being constructed, Jodi was in charge of furnishing it, “from the big appliances down to the kubyertos, ako ang personal na namili (ng gamit).”

“I looked for a trusted name when I made my purchases. Ang hirap pa minsan, sa sobra ating makatipid, minsan, yung quality naman ang nagsa-suffer. So I don’t want that naman na, mura nga, tapos, bili ka ng bili. Example, for my cooktop, bibili ako ng brand na kilala for cooktops. I ask around, I do research. At saka, may budget ako. I have to find a cooktop na maganda yug quality pero durable siya, maganda yung performance niya, and within the budget”, she explained.

REAL LIFE ROLE OF PRACTICAL MOTHER

Jodi today is a far cry from the Jodi of yesteryears. Prior to her marriage to Panfilo “Pampi” Lacson Jr., she admitted to being a party girl. “I used to go out a lot talaga. Kahit every week or every other day yung party, present. May bagong bukas na bar, bagong bukas na club, expect me there, present.”

But motherhood bought about a 360-degree change. “When I had my son, wala, nag-iba na, I’m not into those na. I’d rather go home; now, parang nai-ingayan na ako, unlike before. Now, deretso uwi, minsan I’d think, ‘shucks, sana matapos na taping, I miss my son, I wanna be with my family na.”

As a first time mother, Jodi shares a couple of tips that she found invaluable. “Number one is patience. Kasi, di mo maituturo kung anong dapat mong gawin. Walang manual ang babies; when it comes to raising your child, pakiramdaman lang, kasi what may work for one may not work for this baby.”

“And, enjoy your kid while they’re still young. Yun ang turo sa akin ng mother ko, kasi pag lumaki na yan, may kanya-kanyang barkada, diyan mo mami-miss. Yung parang, ‘sana humahabol ka pa sa akin, yung laging naka-dikit sa akin’, ganun.”

A WORK IN PROGRESS

Currently, Jodi is slated to come out in “Sisa”, an independent film. “I’m also doing a soap, a teleserye with ABS-CBN, pero we’ll start taping pa lang in July. And there are two movies lined-up, so, medyo busy”, she revealed.

Make-up over, Jodi pauses to pick up her son, hugging him close as he babbles on about the camera. He asks his mother for her wedding ring; she hands it over to the excited child, tenderly warning him, ‘o, take care not to throw it, or else lagot tayo kay daddy.”

Wife, mother, actress, and more. In her own distinctive way, Jodi Sta.Maria-Lacson may very well personify the new face of the modern Filipino woman.