Checking Your Phone While Someone is Talking to You – IRL

“Sorry, what were you saying again?”

It’s even worse when someone checks back into the “physical world” and introduces a NEW topic based on the virtual message they got and completely ditches what you were previously talking about.

Do you say “Hey that wasn’t what we were talking about!” or just go with the flow and completely forget about it?

I’m not hating on those who do this because I’ve done this countless of times myself. I’ve been both the “ignor-er” and the “ignor-ee.” Either the person I’m talking to all of a sudden gets a text message or a tweet and I’m left talking to myself or I’m the one checking out of the conversation to do the same.

Is this the new normal now? Or do you still consider this type of behavior rude?


Check this restaurant out – it gives you a 5% discount if you DON’T use your phone in their restaurant.


How My Friend Found His iPhone in Antipolo Because of the Find My iPhone App

I get a call from my friend. Let’s call him Blad. He tells me he can’t remember what happened last night and that he lost his iPhone.

I’m sorry I tell him. “Maybe next time you should wear a lanyard.”

Half an hour later, Blad sends me a Google Maps link to something. He says his phone is still turned on, that he tracked it using the Find My iPhone app, that it’s somewhere in Antipolo and the best part: that I should help him find it before the phone’s battery dies.

I laugh at the ridiculousness of this idea. There is no way in hell we can find that.

Blad is Filipino-American but unfortunately can’t speak a lick of Filipino other than “Nasaan yung CR.” Obviously, I can’t let him try to find it by himself so I decide to help him. I also call another friend, EJ, and ask if he wants to help out. EJ says yes. We all agree to meet up at the McDonald’s in Katipunan.

We head out excited but also feeling like dumbasses. Blad is sure now, thanks to another friend who was in the cab with him, that he left it there. On our way to wherever his iPhone is, I ask them about our plan. Turns out we don’t have any. Maybe we should look for a cab parked there and ask for the driver?

What if it’s a warehouse and it’s a trap and their plan is to kidnap us? Naaah. We have two bowling balls in the trunk which we could use as a projectile. We’re safe.

We finally get to where the iPhone’s location is.

It’s a Saturday morning so no one’s really outside except for someone hanging clothes. We didn’t spot any cabs.

Great. Now what?

EJ comes up with a brilliant idea: let’s knock on all the doors and ask if someone came in at 3AM and found an iPhone!

Sounds time-consuming but we’re already here so sure, let’s do it!

After our 3rd door, we decide that it’s not a brilliant idea after all. Whoever we were asking would just end up asking someone else in the house so this method was too slow.

We go back to the guard house (we entered the subdivision without him noticing us) and ask the guard for help. Maybe he can show us his log book?

He says he will need to call the president of the subdivision association. We tell both of them the story and how the phone is still turned on and that it’s here somewhere.

Ang galing pala niyan! Hindi talaga pwedeng manakaw!”, exclaims the subdivision president. He then looks at my iPhone (I signed in using Blad’s account so we can track it there) and says “Pwede pa bang i-zoom yan?

I zoom it in, he looks at it with squinting eyes and says that’s not their subdivision. The dot is in that area behind it.

We see it from where we’re standing and it’s a shantytown.

The subdivision president insists that it’s safe but that we should go in there with a Barangay Tanod just in case. We figured it’d be a waste of time if we back out now so we soldier on.

A guy comes in riding a bike, he’s our guy says the guard. We follow him into the shantytown area as he goes to another Tanod’s house. We tell our story again but this time surrounded by 20 other people, half of which are shirtless men. They pass around my phone, talking amongst themselves how crazy it is that we can track it.

At this point, we were getting slightly scared. What if they start getting mad at us for accusing them? We look at each other thinking we should probably head back.

Then another shirtless man approaches us.

Anong hinahanap?

iPhone daw brad. Ganito oh.

Nasa akin yan.”

In my head I’m like WTH just happened. Blad overhears this and asks me, “Did he just say he doesn’t have it?” I give him my straight face and tell him to follow the shirtless guy.

He goes inside his house. And then comes back outside and shows us a phone.

Turns out he did have it!

Apparently, he was the guy that cleaned the taxi cab where Blad’s phone was left. The shirtless man explains that he didn’t touch it, didn’t know what to do with it but that if someone looked for it, he’d return it. We thank him for his honesty.

From this experience, I can tell you that the Find My iPhone feature actually works. So if you have an iPhone, make sure you enable it.

It’s not foolproof though. If someone finds your phone and turns it off, you’re SOL.

How do I know this?

Well after we found Blad’s phone, a couple weeks later…

He loses it again.

This time the person turns the device off. We couldn’t track it.

So no, Blad did not live happily ever after.

He’s stuck with an Android now. Bummer. Should’ve gotten a lanyard. :)


My Friends Don’t Care About Tech. Or Startups.

I’m not saying my friends still use typewriters or that they ask me “how to enroll on Twitter” – it’s just that they don’t have the same level of interest in it as some of my startup/tech enthusiast (virtual) friends do. By that I mean, if Jeff Bezos announced tomorrow that he’s leaving Amazon or that the Smart or even Globe LTE launch isn’t actually happening, none of them would bat an eyelash. It’s like me finding out about Snooki’s pregnancy. Who’s Snooki? Bahaha.

But yes, I bring this up because this topic seems to have been following me around for a couple of days now. Last Thursday, I met up with Paul Rivera of Kalibrr (will do a separate post on his team soon) and we were talking about how difficult it is for Filipinos to embrace startups. Here, you either become a lawyer or a doctor. Okay, so you may have had more options (accountant, engineer) but you know what I mean. Starting your own business isn’t usually encouraged (unless you come from an entrepreneurial Filipino-Chinese family).

“It’s not stable.”

“How long will that business last?”

“What about your future?”

Then yesterday, I attended Peter Cauton’s Juan Great Leap event and they were basically saying the same thing but this time added things like lack of investors, the startup community being small, the government not being supportive, etc.

This may be obvious to some but seriously, there are times when it becomes so easy to get trapped in this bubble I will call the “TechCrunch bubble” (maybe I read that somewhere, don’t accuse me of plagiarizing!). It’s when you think everyone and her grandma is using Path or is upset that Twitter is being such a bully because it’s all the tech sites talk about (and your favorite Twitter client is in danger).

At work, we talk about it. On Twitter, we tweet about it. We read it on blogs and tech news sites.

For those who are also in this bubble, it’s easy to forget that the rest of the Philippines doesn’t care what will happen on September 12, much less care about the crazy people working for or on a tech startup.

Oh yes. They exist.


Those Newsletter Subscription Popups? They Work.

This is a classic example of how just because you think you know almost everything about what you’re doing, doesn’t mean you can tell other people who you think  don’t know as much as you do, to shut it. After all, how can they know any better, right?

It’s embarrassing but this was me.

True Story

See, with all the webinars, white papers, articles, and case studies I’ve read on email marketing, I seemed to have been so convinced that I was a semi-expert (expert level would be if I charged people to let me talk about it) on this subject. It’s easy to get caught in this state of absurd arrogance knowing that not a lot of people (at least in the Philippines) invest time in doing the same thing.

One day, a team member asked me, “Now that we have our newsletter set up, maybe we should have a popup screen asking people to subscribe?”

Within just 5 seconds, I looked like this:

Oh dear. I was quickly coming up with ridiculous reasons as to why we cannot possibly do that. What have I turned into! My teammate had the WTF look. “Yeah! WTF?”, I asked myself.

It was a humbling experience. More than humbling, it was mortifying.

“Why can’t we at least TRY it?” was the next line I heard.

I was so full of myself thinking I’ve read it all that I didn’t even think that those case studies and best practices might not necessarily apply to our company! (A mistake I think all of us at one point also made. Bah. Look at me trying to drag everyone into this.)

I changed my rage face to something more amiable.

Then I went back to my desk and started looking at possible solutions and if they really did work.

I found Padiact, met Claudiu Murariu, their wonderful and very helpful co-founder, and the rest is history. We installed it on our site and almost a year later, we’re now at 10k subscribers. We were and still are, seeing about 2-3% conversion rates each month. What a waste it would have been if I insisted that I knew everything.


Lesson Learned

My newsletter popup story might not work for your company or for your website but what I can guarantee you that will always work is this: having team members who are brave enough to call you out, to experiment, and to make sure that it’s not just your business that is growing, but also yourselves.


Claudine Barretto, Raymart Santiago, and Now Blair Carabuena: How Social Media Makes Us All Contestants on MTV’s Boiling Points

If you never went through that period in your life when MTV was still the popular time suck and not 9gag, here’s a quick recap of what that show was all about:

Boiling Points was a prank reality TV show way back in the early 2000s where random people (including Stefani Germanotta before she became Lady Gaga) were subjected to extremely annoying situations. The goal was to basically exhibit ginormous amounts of self-restraint and not give in and lose your cool. If you could stand being in that situation for 2-20 minutes (the boiling point), you’d get $100. If you couldn’t keep your cool, well, sucks for you. No $100.

Fast forward to 2012 and we apparently have our own version of it. In fact, we might just have 3 of the most famous Filipino contestants of the year. Losing $100 cannot be compared to having viral YouTube videos of themselves in attack mode.

Case #1: Guy Loses Cool Over Traffic Rules, Goes Crazy on Enforcer

Case #2: Celebrity Couple Loses Cool Over Luggage Issues and Paparazzi

The main difference between actual Boiling Points contestants and these more recent participants is that the latter resorted to the hell-naw-oh-no-you-diint of the interwebs: violence. And boy did they feel its wrath.

Social media is strange. You can suddenly become a semi-famous fashion blogger or suddenly have your personal number and home address passed around so people can send you hate messages.

If you’re one of those rare people who never gets mad, good for you. For the rest of us, it’s always good to know that one outrageously disrespectful act can get you to lose your job, embarrass your family and friends and be the internet’s most-hated person… until they find a replacement.

The next time you encounter someone really really annoying (in public at least), imagine yourself on camera being watched by a couple hundred people.

Because you just might be.

That thought should give you enough willpower to… check yoself before you wreck yoself.


Peanutubo Interviews: The Filipino iOS Game Developer Behind Streetfood Tycoon

This interview has also been posted on the TrafficDito blog.

We’ve been following Streetfood Tycoon ever since we discovered it from Janette Toral of DigitalFilipino. From that day, we’ve seen it get featured on several blogs, written about in newspapers and even featured on TV shows. Whoever says SF Tycoon isn’t a success is (pea)nuts.



What’s cooler than media attention? Downloads! And Streetfood Tycoon now has 320,000 of them! That isht be cray yo. At one point, it was also the #1 strategy game, the #1 family game, and #3 on the overall app store ranking for the Philippines. And this game was created by a Filipino.

Of course, the next question we had was, “Which startup or company is behind this?”

KuyiMobile (yes, that’s the answer just in case you also have the same question) is a name some of us have become familiar with especially with SF Tycoon’s popularity. What really blew us away was this: did you know that it’s basically a one-man team?

A true entrepreneur, Erick Garayblas founded KuyiMobile 3 years ago.

He keeps a blog for curious people like us if you want to learn more about his game developing adventures. BUT, if you want to know how a day in the life of an independent Filipino game developer goes or what his “theme song” is, read on.

For Philippine startups and all you budding entrepreneurs, this interview is for you!

1. How does your typical day look like? Can you walk us through a day in the life of Mr. Erick Garayblas?

My typical day starts at 10am. Brunch for 15 minutes before I turn on my computer and start work. I work in front of the computer at 2 hour intervals and take 1 hour breaks in between to save my back and eyes. My breaks are usually spent jotting down notes or sketching ideas—which translates to work too. I take a break at around 3pm either to take a nap (Team Batugan FTW!) or chat/spend quality time with my 2 lovely girls—my wife and daughter. I resume work around 8pm and work until the wee hours of the morning (1-2am). I make sure that weekends are spent w/ family though sometimes I cheat.

2. Before launching your apps, do you set goals for things like number of downloads? Did you have something like this for SF Tycoon?

I usually set a goal for number of downloads when it comes to paid apps. For Streetfood Tycoon though, it was my first free-to-play game that took advantage of IAP so I honestly have no idea. To quote Manny Pacquiao: Now I know. :)

3. What was the most difficult part in building SF Tycoon? Why?

The most difficult part was the last 10% (or last few weeks). I guess everybody feels the same way when finishing a project—the last part is usually the hardest and takes the longest to accomplish. A lot of small issues come up, you get burned out, suddenly life becomes redundant, you get too excited and just want to get it out the door.

4. Can you share with us the most inspiring comment you’ve received from a player?

There have been a lot of inspiring comments/reviews for Streetfood Tycoon and I honestly can’t single out any but I would like to note that the support I received especially from our kababayans have been so overwhelming. THANK YOU SO MUCH! :)

5. If you were to name the top 3 things Filipino game developers should have to succeed, what would they be?

Creativity, determination and patience. One needs to have a creative mind in order to come up with the most wicked ideas. Determination will make sure you finish what you started and patience is required in order to overcome the biggest obstacles.

6. Aside from Kuyi Mobile, are there other app developers or teams (even in non-game categories) here in the Philippines that we should look out for?

I know only a few—the TrafficDito team, Yves (@doblezeta) of Giroapps and Ramon (@filjedi) of Numlock Solutions. These guys are fantastic! :)

7. What are your thoughts on work-life balance?

Funny you mentioned this. Since last year, I set out to have one ultimate goal—to have 4-hour workweeks, as inspired by Timothry Ferriss’ book. Not that I don’t enjoy what I do but I would love to do other non-computer-related stuff in the future as well. I would love to get back to comics illustration, sports, giving summer art classes to kids and hopefully make my own children’s book someday as well as find more time to cook. Yes, cook.

8. Do you have someone who you look up to? Who is s/he? Why?

None in particular. There are companies that inspire me though—Apple, Valve, Twitter and small (but successful) indie teams like Imangi Studios (Temple Run), Lima Sky (Doodle Jump), Nimblebit (Tiny Tower) and Rovio (Angry Birds). If you look up the stories of these guys, it’s just amazing and truly inspiring.

9. What’s next for KuyiMobile? Are we seeing even more addicting games in the coming months?

Definitely more games. I can see myself doing this until my eyes can’t read anymore or my hands are too old to type. I’m currently working on improving an old game of mine called “Jump Rope”, a huge update for Streetfood Tycoon (for all the avid players!), the Android port, and I plan to move to a new game right after, hopefully by August. I’m also planning to work on my first non-game app, if my schedule allows it.

10. On a lighter note, if a song were to play when you enter a room, what would it be?

Staying Alive by the Bee Gees. This is also my ringtone. :P

Streetfood Tycoon is Erick’s 8th app in the 3 years since KuyiMobile so really (and I don’t want to be Captain Obvious here), success doesn’t happen overnight. His 8th product might be your 10th, 23rd, or for us… maybe 2nd? HA! Now that would be THE dream. If Erick was able to do it, why can’t we all?

Now for those still wondering what Streetfood Tycoon is, (first of all, where have you been?) it’s an addicting iPhone game based on the very Filipino concept of owning a street food cart and selling (no surprise here) street food items like kwek-kwek, fishballs and french fries. AppsManila wrote a good review on it that you can check out.

I hope you had fun reading his answers! Do you know of any other local entrepreneurs we can bug?


The Philippines’ Obsession Over Fair Skin: On Nuffnang and Its SkinWhite Promo

I was catching up on news/blog posts the other night when I saw this post from Nuffnang. They’re giving away tickets to the exclusive screening of Snow White and the Huntsman.

Okay so that sounds fine. A contest. Cool.

Oh but what is this I see? To join the contest, you need to write a blog entry with this specific title: “SkinWhite and Nuffnang bring you Snow White and the Huntsman.”

As I was reading this, my reaction was, “No way.” Little did I know I’d keep saying that throughout the blog post.

Turns out, not only do you need to use that specific title, you also need to answer this silly question “How does SkinWhite give you that beautiful blush white skin that your prince charming can’t resist?” It doesn’t end there, you also need to blog about the darn “syncrowhite action that works in FOUR ways!”

I promised myself I will look into this over the weekend. So today, I googled the required blog title to see if people are actually participating in this thing.

Holy mother of mindless marketing.

I looked at their blog post’s comments section and saw that there are 38 comments, most of them linking to their blogs; some asking why they haven’t received their confirmation emails. It looks like Nuffnang can only accept 100 entries. If they reach their goal, that would give us at least one hundred blog posts on the same exact topic.

Great idea? I disagree.

  1. Bloggers Can Think for Themselves
  2. At least I’d like to think that. I’ve met a couple of bloggers and they’re smart. They’re creative and they’re hardworking. Isn’t this an insult to their creativity by forcing them to use specific titles and include content (e.g. syncrowhite) they would not otherwise write about? Do they think bloggers are not capable of coming up with their own blog titles that it is given to them in verbatim?

    Won’t they also feel like they’re being taken advantage of? Clearly, SkinWhite just wants them to write about their product. Who cares what they think? Here’s what they need to write.

    If a blogger, one who really wants good content for his readers (not freebies from companies), saw this contest, would he participate?

  3. More Content Junk, Less Thinking
  4. If Nuffnang and SkinWhite get what they want, then the interwebz will have 100++ blog posts with the same title, same content, same links. Of course this promotes SkinWhite but does this promote quality content? You know, content that bloggers actually think and care about?

    I went through the first 2 SERPs to be sure that I have an idea of what types of content they’re getting. A lot of them were just literally following instructions. I’d be lying though if I said I didn’t spot some good ones. I found about 4 “almost genuine” blog entries. I say almost because of my reason number 3.

  5. Bloggers Lose Their Readers’ Trust
  6. Now that I know about this contest, if I read a blog post that talks about SkinWhite, will I say, “Oh wow SkinWhite must really be effective!” or will I say “This was a contest entry. Hmm. I’m not sure this is true.”

    Why is she writing this post? Why does it look so advertising-y? Why does she suddenly know all about the syncrowhite action that works in four ways? Oh okay. She wants to win movie tickets to see Snow White and the Huntsman. Hmm.

    Do I lose trust in the brand? Maybe, but in this case, I don’t really care about SkinWhite. If I wanted to try it because of these blog entries, I will. If I like it, then maybe I’ll get more. If I find that it sucks, then I won’t buy it again. Simple.

    The blogger though, loses credibility points. I read other people’s blogs to learn about different perspectives; not to read contest entries.

    Is this the type of blogging environment Nuffnang wants to promote?

BONUS: Seriously, what’s wrong with not being fair-skinned?

This weekend, yet another whitening product is getting flak for their most recent commercial:

SkinWhite in this campaign does the same thing albeit not as ridiculous as Block and White. It basically tells me that the only time a “prince charming” will like me is if I have “beautiful blush white skin.”

What are we? 12? Is this Disney country? Who wants “princes”??? This is why women have fairy tale worlds, referring to men as princes (because they think they’re princesses).

Why would you want to be a princess anyway?

In the real (non-Disney) world, princesses usually couldn’t choose their prince. That choice was made by their parents in order to form alliances between countries. I’m pretty sure King Daddy and Queen Mommy didn’t care whether he was Prince Charming, Prince Douchebag, or Prince Dumbass. Once married, the princess was then expected to obey all her prince’s commands.

Come on ladies, does that sound fun to you?


5 Tips When Applying for a Job

I may not be part of an official HR department but I do help our small company find the right people for our team. I’ve seen thousands of resumes over the past few years that I’ve been tempted to create a blog like Clients from Hell only this time, for applicants.

A lot of fresh grads will now be looking for jobs (unless they’re still in Boracay) while those who have been with their respective companies for a year now can pretty much tell if they want to quit or stay. I figured it’s a good idea to go over what I commonly find in applicants’ resumes/interviews and come up with a tip-list post on it.

Here’s my list on what job applicants need to do before sending that resume or going to that job interview:

  1. Google your own name.
  2. Very very important.

    I’ve found hate blog posts about a candidate, old and unflattering YouTube videos, and embarrassing status messages on Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter from simply googling their names. You can have the best resume and answers to our follow-up questions but if we find that you love bashing other people or (gasp) your current employer on your social networking accounts… yeah.

    If you google your own name and find a significant number of unflattering links or images, it’s time to reflect. After that, read up on reputation management or SEO. Here’s a quick read from Tony Ahn on how he removed a client’s pictures from Google Image Search.

  3. If the job ad says you need to answer questions and/or include your transcript of records, do it. Don’t think so highly of yourself that you think you can get away with not following directions.
  4. This was an applicant’s actual cover letter:


    I know that I have to do certain things for this application (according to the Jobstreet post) but I’m not gonna do it. Because I go straight to the point and I know that I have the passion, the skills and the wit for this job. And I can kick all of your asses on Call of Duty. Check out my resume. Passion and learning are my game.

    I’m not sure whether it’s laziness or overconfidence that I spot here.

  5. Double check your resume.
  6. Unless you’re applying to become a flight attendant or model, you do not need to include your height and weight on your resume. I also don’t know why we Filipinos like adding our religion in there as I’m not exactly sure how valuable that is to an employer. Also, I don’t think we need to know that you were awarded Best Student when you were in… first grade.

    Here’s an example:

    Primary: ******** Catholic School
    Grade 4 – 6 (March 2002 – June 1999)
    Best in Reading CEM Test
    Top 2 – grade 5
    Top 10 – grade 6

  7. Re-read your cover letter and/or answers to your potential employer’s questions 3, 4, even 5 times.
  8. Basic writing rules. Use capital I if you’re talking about yourself in the first person. If you include “i love writing” in there, I’m not sure I will believe it. Don’t forget your punctuation marks. I’ve seen tons of responses that don’t use periods or commas. Don’t use “PLS” as substitute for “please.” That tells us you’re lazy and that you don’t think spelling is important.

    Some examples (all in verbatim):

    As a newly graduate i was attracted on the written or posted on your site in, i feel that in this company boredness is not an option to employees but enjoyment in the environment of the workplace is a must.

    i am not expecting to be hired actually LOL :)) i just wanna answer the questions you posted in you’re ad because that’s the funkiest job advertisement iv’e even seen dude! nice job by the way.

    I suppose we can ignore the second one as s/he did mention that s/he isn’t expecting to be hired. This young woman though who writes about eating her mom (!), seems pretty scary!

  9. Be professional during your interview.
  10. You’d think this is something everyone should know by now…

    Don’t cover your mouth when talking. Don’t do the hand-on-chin face when something is being explained to you. We had someone look like this while we were talking about what his job responsibilities would be:

    It’s okay to be nervous, it’s not okay to slouch. It’s okay to take your time when answering questions, it’s not okay to make your interviewer wait because you’re on your mobile phone talking to someone.

    If you can’t show up for whatever reason, tell your interviewer ahead of time. We had one interviewee who made us wait 15 minutes and when I called said interviewee, he sounded like he was making an excuse and told us he forgot to say he can’t make it. And he was laughing (the “hehehe” type)! That’s just rude. Just because you’ve decided you’re no longer interested in the job, doesn’t mean you can waste other people’s time.

There you have it! If you have any more tips, feel free to add to what I have. Funny job interview experiences welcome too!