i’m moving on

•October 22, 2009 • 8 Comments

Hm, I can’t believe it’s almost a month since I last posted an entry here. Busy? You could say that again. One of my teammates went on a week-long vacation so I had to back up for her. Then the weeks after were filled with meetings and calls and issues… Ha! Di bale. By December, I’ll be on vacation for three weeks! Revenge is so sweet. 🙂

What is it exactly that I do? I work for a relocation company.

As a matter of course, big companies have offices in different countries. Most of the time, they need to move people  for several reasons: to train people, to utilize a person’s expertise, to assist in setting up a new office or project, to fill up a position which cannot be filled by a local, or it may be a company strategy. Sometimes, it may just only be because the person requested for the transfer.

Once a transfer has been approved by the company, they seek our services to coordinate the entire move. We manage the person’s work permit application, shipment of household goods, homesearch in the receiving country, school search if they have children and if education is supported by the company, tax consultation, arranging hotel or serviced apartment stay if needed, language lessons and cultural awareness trainings. Basically, we try to address most of the needs of the transferee and his/her family as they move. We coordinate everything so that the transferee could focus more on his/her work and productivity is not negatively affected even during the relocation process.

In short, we absorb other people’s stress.
the_office_by_katarzyna_z

Just to be clear, I don’t do the legwork. The way this is set up, we have   vendors for each of those services we provide. We have     an immigration consultant, a contact from a shipping company, a tax   consultant etc. Most of the time, the transferees also liaise with these     people directly. But our role is to oversee the entire process to ensure      that everyone does their work accurately and on time and to make sure  that the transferee’s needs are communicated to the right people and    these needs are addressed.

In short, we can be mean slave drivers. 🙂

It may not be that difficult to arrange one move. You just need to check with the different contacts once in a while, follow-up here and there, make sure that the documents or information needed by one party is given to the other, or handle some last-minute changes at times. But try to manage 30-50 moves at any one time at different stages. And even if you’ve completed one move, the number is still replenished because transfers are always initiated. Add to that the ongoing services if it is part of the contract with the client (such services include monitoring the validity of the person’s work permit, taking care of housing and school payments, reimbursing expenses that are supported by the company, or helping them if they have housing issues).

Then of course, while doing all of these, you have the company’s relocation guidelines or policies to implement. As much as we want to give all that the transferee needs, there are still rules to follow. So you have to balance the needs of the transferee against the company’s resources, what it considers reasonable, and what it has decided to be the extent of its support.

It is an interesting job. As they say, each move is unique. Each transferee has unique needs. So aside from learning more about the countries where the transferees are moving from and to, this job enables a person to interact with different people, from all nationalities and backgrounds, from new managers to senior company officers.  You begin to see what things are most important to most people.

But it can be really exhausting – mentally, emotionally and physically. On a bad day, you’ll get different complaints, hear a lot of dissatisfaction, encounter problems that you and the vendors have not foreseen and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t please the client.  And if you become careless, it can cost the transferee something really big. They don’t get a house on time, they can’t find a house they like, they are moving to the assignment location but their children still have not been enrolled and no school can accommodate them, the country does not recognize the partner as the transferee’s dependent, the assignee got the wrong work permit, he/she needs to vacate the house tomorrow and you were only told today…. Most of the time, I dread reading the emails or answering the phone.

But there are also some people who make it all worthwhile.  There are transferees who really express their gratitude and they go to different lengths to make sure that your efforts are recognized. They don’t consider you as a mere assistant or a slave, but they also treat you with respect and as an equal. Some transferees remember us during the holidays. They send gifts, send a greeting, invite you to lunch or dinner, send you pictures of their family or ask their children to call you tita. But this kind of transferee can be rare.  Most of the time, they just see the process as a series of transactions.

It can be very processed-based, but in the end, this work is all about people. That’s what I have to remind myself everyday. These people are undergoing what is said to be one of the most stressful events that can happen in one’s life. They are uprooting themselves and their families to go to somewhere unfamiliar. Well yeah, it doesn’t hurt that they have big salaries and generous company benefits. But still, it’s a big change.

relocate home

So we have to be very careful, very sensitive and very, very, very patient.

Hm, easy to say, but most of the time, so hard to do. Wait ’til I tell you stories about the transferees I manage. 🙂

*photo credits: Katarzyna-z, Relocation 911

unbelievable

•September 28, 2009 • 4 Comments

” rescuers plucked bodies from muddy floodwaters and scrambled to save drenched survivors on rooftops ”

” dumping 455 millimeters of rain in 24 hours, Ondoy surpassed the amount of rain (200-250 mm) unleashed by the catastrophic Hurricane “Katrina” in the southern parts of the United States on Aug. 29-31, 2005 ”

” some areas of the metropolis under up to 20 feet of water ”

” heaviest rainfall on Metro Manila in more than four decades ”

” the current was strong and we were nearly swept away. We held onto a rope… for dear life. I kept thinking this couldn’t happen to me, not in Manila ”

” for some, help never came ”

” people from all persuasions and class, total strangers, neighbors who were previously nodding acquaintances, businessmen from big corporations to the lowly sari-sari store are generously lending a helping hand to the less fortunate victims of Ondoy”


For all those who lost their lives

For all those who lost a loved one

For all those who lost their homes

For all those who lost their life’s earnings

For all those who lost their sense of security

For all those who lost the last vestiges of their trust in the government

For all those who lost everything, something, anything


I know that no words could take away the anguish, the sense of loss and the trauma you are feeling right now. But know that my prayers are always with you.

May God bring you comfort, strength, peace in the midst of this chaos, hope.


With God, we shall overcome.


* quotes used above are from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS CBN news.

Sonnet XVII

•September 15, 2009 • 2 Comments

I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

— Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII —

bits and pieces 09.06.09

•September 6, 2009 • 1 Comment

When was the last time you did something for the first time? *

Mine would have to be two weeks ago, when I finally got to try riding a ferris wheel.  Not so exciting for most people probably, but hey,  I waited 24 years for this! I dreaded doing this because I’m an eeny weeny bit afraid of heights. Ok, a lot. All possible worst-case scenarios seem to run through my mind which makes the experience all the
more terrifying.

But when one of my friends (whom I’ve been begging to visit me) finally came here and wanted to try the Flyer, I thought it was a perfect time to try something new, something different.  So, I threw all fear and caution to the wind and dragged my feet aboard.

No regrets. 🙂

flyer

* I got this question from Noringai‘s blog.

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Have you heard of the PostSecret blog?

The site defines itself as an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.  You’d be amazed at the secrets being spilled.  Anonymity is such an empowering thing isn’t it?

Here’s the link in case you are interested: PostSecret

And if you are feeling generous, I’d be happy to receive a PostSecret book too. 🙂

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In Amando Doronilla’s inquirer article last Friday, he talked about the Baguio centennial celebration and how unfortunate it is that there’s probably not much to celebrate.   His last few sentences summed up everyone’s sentiment. “They (people of Baguio) didn’t go out in the streets to celebrate. They didn’t find anything visible to celebrate. They went back to nostalgia.”

Sad.

And it makes me feel all the more outraged about that issue with the Baguio Convention Center Forest Park. That’s simply idiotic.

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dating_pools

Interesting analysis from xkcd.com. 🙂

goodbyes

•August 2, 2009 • 6 Comments

Life is short. This is such a cliche, but a truth nevertheless.  And this whole week seemed to make that all too clear and real for me.

I just received news the other day that one of my high school friends passed away last Thursday.  She was diagnosed with acute myelomonocytic leukemia last May.  Yes, it was just last May.  Yes, the illness progressed that fast.  The leukemia was already far too serious when tests confirmed the disease.  At the same time, for different reasons, she was not able to get as adequate or as advanced treatment as what was probably needed and not as soon as she should have undergone it.

Honestly, after high school, we weren’t able to get in touch that much – just a few texts here and there, get-togethers once or twice a year, a couple of emails every now and then. When we learned about what happened, the batch got together and helped in any way we could.

Maybe, it was really just time to let go…

She is, was and will always be a dear friend.

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You know what the other scary thing is?  It was also last May when another friend from high school passed way.  Yes, it was another friend.  She died from cancer.

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Imagine  both of these happening in less than a year.   Two of my high school friends.  They haven’t even reached 25 years old.

something unexpected

•July 27, 2009 • 12 Comments

Talk about doing something unconventional on your wedding day…

JK Wedding Entrance Dance

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Who would have thought that the maroons will be able to finally score a win, and surprisingly, against the eagles?

This definitely made my day.

Coming into the new UAAP season with what is probably the worst stats ever (sorry naman!), this win is deemed to be the first big upset of the season.  And with such a boost to the the team’s morale, I am ever hopeful that things will only go better from here. I would have loved to watch that game live.  Hay. 🙂

Here’s the Inquirer’s story about it: Lowly Maroons Topple Eagles

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Do you like surprises or are you the type of person who feels too embarrassed when caught unawares and then pushed into the limelight?

Me?  I like surprises.  No, scratch that. I love surprises.  I love all the secrecy, the effort thrown into keeping things hush-hush, the reactions a surprise elicits, the crazy ideas…  It takes a lot of effort to surprise someone so when I am at the receiving end,  I feel special, honored that other people would take the time to prepare such a thing for me.

Other people take it differently.  There was one poster from the Experience Project who said that he doesn’t like surprises because it can be “too overwhelming”.  He said, “I experience things more intensely than most people, and so what seems “fun” and “pleasant” to many turns out to feel “horribly overwhelming” when it happens to me. ” Interesting reason, isn’t it?  Maybe some people are really just hypersensitive.  Or they feel discomfort or fear when things become a little awkward. Or maybe they just know when a surprise is coming so that kind of ruins the whole thing.

What about you?  🙂

peeechurs :)

•July 22, 2009 • 17 Comments

Here are more pictures from our Phuket vacation. 🙂

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look at the difference in terms of the water’s depth. amazing no?

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ang saya! and it didn’t rain! 🙂

and the best part of it all is that I got to share this experience with the best, most wonderful people I know. 🙂  thank you Lord!

phuket