a golden pot at the end of the rainbow...

Posted by Analyse at 6:10 PM

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I'm just overwhelmed by the way people react to one's actions and achievements, to different situations, etc. Different folks with different strokes. In a conversation, especially in heated topics such as politics, work environment, work attitude, and the likes, everybody here is interested to know my opinion as I'm a product of a different country, thus a different culture and different views. Before I stress out my opinion though, I warn them that I might step on their feet and hit their sensitive egos. It's a pity that French people, especially those who haven't travelled yet or those who stay firm on what they believe in, see France, their country, differently as I do.

There are so many things here that they could be proud of, not counting their superb patrimony, their fascinating history and their rich culture. Their social security is the best in Europe. But of course, for that to function well, they have to pay a lot - which of course doesn't please to most. But hey, at least they know and see where their money goes. Everything here is accessible to all class of society, be it in education, medical benefits, etc.

Here are some facts:

- Each opening of the school year, every family receives a certain amount destined to buy school stuffs for the kids.
- The government gives financial allocations to families, in pro rata of their total monthly income. If they've got no income, the government is there to help.
- If you need a nanny for your baby, the government helps.
- Education is almost free. They just have to pay a very cheap entrance / miscellaneous fee and they're in. in addition to that, there are a lot of scholarship grants available for everybody. Plus the fact that the government, generous as it is, gives a lodging allowance for students.
- Almost all of the medical and dental expenses are reimbursable.
- The company where they work gives a share on your taxes..(this, on the other hand weighs too heavy on the shoulder of the companies that most of them tends to delocalise their production in countries where manpower is less expensive)
- And a lot more...

Of course, in return, they have to slash down their salary to almost 35% (for singles) for the government plus an exorbitant 19.6% VAT for each purchase (5.5% for basic necessities such as food, etc).

Talking about work cultures, few personal experiences have shaken me which made me realize how different my culture is compared to my adoptive country. As I'm currently working in the same company where I worked when I was in the Philippines and now that I'm here in France, I could blatantly check certain differences.

Situation 1: Philippines. I was the fourth person in our department to be hired, the only mademoiselle in the group. My first contact with my workplace is in a layout. It was actually under construction when I arrived so all I could visit is the drawing of the workshop. I was one of the pioneers, I wrote the first procedures, established work methods, set up the process, created a working culture. After a month of survival in a workshop that doesn't exist and trying to negotiate with all the suppliers all around the globe to have everything in place on time: my Filipino boss told me 'you lack initiative'! Wow, what a comment.

Situation 2: France. I actually started here as a trainee, in line with my post-graduate study. After 5 months, they called me up proposing a permanent position in the company. Who am I to decline such proposal considering that it's my dream job? What do you expect, I of course hastily grab the opportunity. Barely after 4 months, my H+4 (4th level hierarchy) requested to meet me to personally welcome me in the group and convey his complements for a job well done. Wow, what a complement. After 7 months of working with them, here again my immediate boss asking for a rendez-vous. He wants to meet me for my annual interview with an exceptional objective: to raise my salary! Would you believe that?

I can't help myself but smile. I work just the same but I get totally opposing feedbacks. Of course I did get a raise in the phils - coming from my French bosses. I'm not the kind who generalizes things, so ill just say that I unluckily had a one-of-a-kind boss who dealt with people in a very stiff manner. Let's just say, I was under Martial Law :)...anyway, im out of it now and enjoying what life could offer...

Saving the world of NEMO...

Posted by Analyse at 6:32 PM

Monday, September 20, 2004

As laurent is a diving addict, we always make it a point that when we are in the Philippines, we should at least do some of these water stuffs. Our favourite place is of course, palawan, at dos palmas, where we did a lot of ocean kayak and snorkelling. This is a place to behold for those who love this activity. It's a wonderland down there. The varieties of corals and sea animals in all their colours and forms are real delicatessens to the eyes.

My diving baptism was in Puerto Galera - yeah people, I have this PADI certificate issued from a 12-meter dive in Monkey beach dive site. That was fun! The thing is, you get to approach the corals and swim with the fishes. But personally, I hate this sensation of being compressed so I still prefer snorkelling. Funny because one not-very-windy afternoon, Laurent and I decided to take a look of the corals just infront of the resort where we stayed. Little did we know that there was low-tide that particular afternoon. So as we go farther, the sea level started to go down. My big belly started to touch the corals, and there was even this sea animal which attacked me because I was getting very close to there hide-out. Of course we cannot get into our feet to go back to the shore, so we crawled carefully so as not to destroy the corals. Well, we arrived at the resort safe and sound with a lot of bruises of course. But that was part of the fun.

Another favourite spot is Anilao in Batangas. The access is not that agreeable but it's worth it. The corals, I think are better than in Puerto Galera. The only disadvantage is that, there's nothing to do at night unlike in Puerto Galera.

We were in the Philippines last December but we were not able to go to other places because it was also the wedding of my kuya. So we decided to stay in my town, in Sta Cruz, north of Zambales. Honestly speaking, I don't really know what my town could offer to tourists such as Laurent. For me, nothing is spectacular in this area. But for him, it's a totally different scenario. He loves my parent's place because it's very natural, the rice fields just at the back of our house, the trees around, even the little boy next door fascinates him. Once we were at the beach and there was this Danish guy who offered us a snorkelling session anytime we want, Laurent readily said yes. Wow, that's what he was looking for...

corals in bloom..

We went near the Balaki Island where we did a 3-hr snorkel. Wow, I didn't know that we still have some corals down there after we suffered from massive and irresponsible dynamite fishing years back. (I assure you, this kind of fishing still exists, I was hearing bombs while snorkelling...hope this will totally stop asap). When we had enough of the fishes, we did boating around up to Putipot Island and had a drink with some of the bakasyonistas there. That was cool!

one of the magnific sights underwater..

On second thought, there's something interesting to do in my place...a hidden secret, a secret paradise...

journées européennes du patrimoine

Posted by Analyse at 8:27 PM

Saturday, September 18, 2004

this weekend is like an open-house here in dijon. everything is open to visitors for free: universities, museums, city hall, everything! it's the europian patrimony day. in exposition is dijon's liberation from german (nazi) occupation way back 1940 - 1945. it's very interesting to see those pictures of the past, making you re-live the history and have a feel of it.

on the same weekend is the braderie here in dijon..yep, weekend sale! it's just so sad that shopping is not at all my stuff. i hate checking and searching with all those varieties and choices...i prefer buying something which i already saw somewhere, so i just have to search for this particular product..no hassles...so dont be surprised if you see me with the same clothing as that of the manequin infront of the shop...yeah, that's how lazy i am...

ill try to bring a camera tomorrow and grab some shots so you could get a snap of dijon too..

work pressures

Posted by Analyse at 5:57 PM

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I wasn't able to sleep last night...

Yesterday was the presentation of previous and future activities, targets and results of our big bosses. Naturally, most of the people are there. One of my colleagues purposely bumped into me to ask me some technical stuffs about my project. He was actually at a lost because one of the raw materials I listed did not correspond to the reference (each product has its own code). Oh my, I took all those references from a colleague and I even rechecked it from our procurement agent, so why the difference? My mind started to panic that I didn't understand a thing about the presentation, the main reason why I was at that meeting.

While I was supposedly listening to the presentation, my mind was actually calculating all the investment losses if ever the company where I forwarded this list bought another chemical. If ever, I am in a big s...t!!

For history, I spent 7 weeks in the Philippines for my first project, and take note, I went back to France once. The project has been 4 months running, and all these times, there was always somebody from Global Engineering (where I work) staying on site to insure the process. That translates to plane business class tickets, train tickets, taxi fares, hotel expenses, everything! All expenses paid of course. For 4 months, this project has been consuming loads of electricity, treated water, chemicals, manpower, and don't forget the non-stop brainstorming with the project group to optimise the process. Loads of investments. And still, the problem is still there!

Everybody involved in the project is analysing, trying to solve the problem. And when this colleague asked me this question, it's like I was convicted of something. I began to doubt myself thinking my credibility is at risk right now. For info, I just started working. I sent a quick email to the Philippines inquiring about the quality of chemicals they're currently using. And since there's this time difference, the answer will be the day after, if they have time of course.

My evening has been shattered into pieces. I cannot think, I panic!

This morning, first thing i did was to read my email, praying that there will be something from the phils. And yes, there's one! The chemical they're using is the right one. What a relief!

Whew...I should be more careful next time. In fact, it's only in Europe that we use the reference code, so even if I added it on my file, Asia will never use it. Luckily!

PS: after the meeting, there was this 'drinking' session so participants could exchange ideas, comment on the presentation, or just have a drink and go tale-telling with some colleagues...i missed this one!

our new hide-away

Posted by Analyse at 9:59 PM

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

just signed! whew, this is our new hiding place. after long days of searching, we finally found something which corresponds to what we really like, something that reflects our personality, something which we could be proud of, something which combines convenience and functionality...something which we could call our own...our home.

our new hide away..

front view..

it will be a big change for us, surely. we started thinking about bringing our personal touch on this new place, and this personal touch entails hardwork, imaginability..and don't forget creativity...and of course, another budget. i've been browsing on some sites where i could get an idea of interior designs, but honestly, i still havent made up my mind. i'm torn between asian or europian design. our appartment has long been asian, from indonesian paintings to thai handicrafts, and yes, some stuffs from china too. any suggestions?

i have a little garden too. will i really indulge myself into gardening? i guess im more into that than cleaning the whole house, that will freak me out!!!

this is my little garden view from the terrace where i will grow potatoes :)

oh well, i guess im a little too excited to move in and start painting the house red and have a party! ...

dealing with finances..

Posted by Analyse at 6:08 PM

Monday, September 13, 2004

now that we already found our dream house, our financing scheme should be reviewed accordingly. never had i took a real close-look on how my salary should be divided into such and such expenses. last week, i was infront of my computer trying to balance my finances, budget what should be budgeted, and try to allocate excess salaries into something which will create value to my money. yes, the investment phase is not yet over. we are at the moment staying in a small appartment with a minimum of stuffs which suffice us in our everyday lives. moving to a bigger house obliges us to furnish it with at least, for the start, a minimum of stuffs to fill it and make it look, well, a house.

after a head-aching afternoon trying to stretch out what is unstretchable, i finally came up with this:


  • 21% - goes to taxes which covers medical / dental insurance, unemployment insurance, retirement, and other stuffs i pay that i dont even understand or know what. but anyway, an equivalent of 46% of my salary is added by the company as a supplement to these insurances. they call them patronal charges. oh, i cannot rant more in terms of social security. i know i'm covered and i see where my taxes go.
  • 3.6% - goes to land tax.
  • 2.4% - goes to housing tax.
  • 35.7% - goes to mortgage. that hurts!


  • 14.3% - goes to everyday expenses, from groceries to gasolines.
  • 7.1% - goes to my personal expenses. yes, sometimes i do shopping too. this one i guess will be considerably lowered as other priorities will come shortly after we move to the new house.

wow, that's already a soaring 84.1% of my salary! im thinking about investing and try my luck in stock markets while im not yet taxed on my revenu. yes brothers, since i just started working, i wont be paying tax on my revenu for one year. but after a year, 14.3% of my salary will equally go to tax. oh well, isnt that what they call pushing up to the limits? i still have 0.6% of my salary left, and yet, i havent included emergency expenses which is very important. i really need to squeeze more that bloody variable cost to get even with my finances.

oh well, life starts...

learning and growing...little by little.

Posted by Analyse at 1:26 PM

Friday, September 10, 2004

It's been 3 years now (last 23 august to be exact) that I strive, struggle and enjoy all blows of life in a foreign land and the learning process is not yet over. The most difficult part - learning their language - has been a great challenge but it's just a part of the adventure. Learning it was difficult, capturing it was another story, knowing it and being able to understand and engage in a conversation was a turning point. Living in another country without learning their language is for me, a waste of time. You will never know, appreciate and enter into ones culture without this weapon.

One thing I learned and really appreciated just this morning, on my way to a meeting in Paris, is that I could actually pay the taxi with my visa debit/credit card. Isn't that great? It was my first time to try it so I'm quite overwhelmed. To be frank, I forgot to take some cash with me (I normally don't have any cash with me as I always pay with my card or check, yes France I guess is the #1 user of microchips which I think is convenient), and to be more frank, once I got my feet into the train station at Dijon, I also forgot to withdraw some cash. But hey, I left my place at 6am, and I tell you, I was still on my clouds. And worst, when I arrived at the train station in Paris, I again forgot to withdraw. Am I having an Alzheimer here?

So I asked the taxi driver to drop me off somewhere where I could take some cash. To my relief, he told me I could pay him with my visa. So I thought ok, but I still have to take some cash for my next taxi, and he again told me that I should reserve a taxi and precise beforehand that it will be a card payment. Yeah, alright, I finally understood it :) kulit ko!

Oh well, little things like that facilitate life. Good to know. Actually, for my last two arrivals here in France, twice I arrived without any euro in my pocket? And twice have I searched for an ATM machine inside the airport with the luggage, the jetlag and all...I swear, it wasn't funny. Little did I know that I could eventually pay with my card. Oh well, innocence is sweet, but ignorance kills!!!


Posted by Analyse at 3:48 PM

Sunday, September 05, 2004

one good thing about europe is its diversity. you could visit one country to another without any problem, provided you have the schengen visa. what i like in this kind of adventure is observing different culture as they unfold infront of your eyes. one myth about europian, as ive heard it is that, women from the north are as hot as the men from the south. well, did i really saw that??? i was always wondering if france is considered north or south...as ive said it's the crossroad between the two regions.

we once visited the north and i particularly liked brugge, the venice of the north. it's refreshing there, and almost everybody speaks either english or french. isnt that a bonus!

typical house in brugge..can i find the same in dijon? Posted by Hello

this is one of the sites there, my favorite place. where you could have your sandwitch and have siesta at the same time. :)

one of my precious moments.. Posted by Hello

bye for now..

common interests vs differences

Posted by Analyse at 3:42 PM

Saturday, September 04, 2004

in a relationship, having something in common is a must: points of view, interests, beliefs, etc. that saves the ship from shrinking in times of storms. differences, on the other hand, adds up to the spicies of life. it definitely makes life more exciting. it creates some kind of mystery in a couple that keeps them on a 'search mode' for life. one challenge is to convert some of these differences into a common interest.

hiking is one of those 'common interests' we share with gusto. the difference is that he does it for sports, among others of course. and me, i do it for photography, of course, among others :). we also love having our siesta in the middle of mother nature, with the fresh wind, and the lovely scenery, all natural, no artificial flavors, ika nga.

one of the highest peak i climbed so far.. Posted by Hello

differences? we have a lot! he loves water, i hate it. in fact, kayak is his first love, a dangerous sport at that. every year, he organizes a sportive weekend where we go out with our colleagues for them to have a feel of what wild water is all about. i once tried rafting and it was a blast! an experience! and honestly, i loved it.

most of the people that go out with us have this apprehension of fear. but everybody goes home with a great souvenir - that is, the sensation of fear and fulfillment.

while im reading, laurent's on his kayak gliding.. Posted by Hello

well, im just proud of him when he's on his kayak suit...

les vacanciers

Posted by Analyse at 11:40 AM

les vacanciers Posted by Hello

this was last year..one of my favorite pix..far from problems, far from stress. i love the french coast, but then, i find it hard to submerge myself into the water, too cold, brrrrrr!

summer vacation is a must for europians. everybody's out. traffic jam everywhere as france is the crossroad for all the northern europians who who like to spend their vacation in the south..under the sun of course! spain, south of france, portugal.

i particularly like the south, because there's a lot of variety you could get there. from the mountains to the seas (and yes, the ocean for many). normally, we do hike early in the morning up to late afternoon, then do a bit of swimming to finish the day (as if i know :). restos of course, pour la route, to savour the regional products, faits à la maison.

well...i guess ill need another vacation now...

looking for a new 'chez nous'

Posted by Analyse at 5:56 PM

Friday, September 03, 2004

It's been more than 4 months now that we decided to find a new place for us. something we could call 'our home'. and it's been a 4-long-month of biking around the area, asking people around for possible houses to be sold, talking to agents, talking to proprietors, visiting potential houses to buy...and it starts to tire us up. i just hope we will not be fed up to the point that we buy something we don't really like just to finish the process.

yesterday, we saw something which pleased 'us'. yes, normally, it's him or me, but never 'us'. the problem is, it's quite expensive. well, we could still stretch out our budget...which means to say no new car in the coming 2 years, no other investments, etc.

the good thing about this process is that we learn not only the procedure of this and that (loans, laws, etc) we also discover each other. yes, it's been almost 5 years now that we 'know' each other, and 3 years of being together without really knowing each other. i mean little details like he doesnt like that and she prefers that one thing.

one thing i've learned about him: he pays a lot of attention to prestige, to what other people might think about him, the 'standing'. oh well, i never knew him that way before. he was always the kind of guy who doesn't really care about those kinds of details...but not with his house. oh well, good to know.

one thing about me, to be fair, is that i don't want to stay far from the town center. with our kind of job where we're always bound to travels, which means that most of the time, i will be obliged to stay alone. summer time, yes, but not during winter. it's agreable to be able to go out and be with the world without taking the car. well, for me, it is.

well, more to come on our quest in finding our new nest...ciao!