How do I bring back the spark in my relationship

Q: partner and I have been together for about seven years now, and so far, time and experience have proven that we make a great team. You know those cliches about being one half of a whole, completing each other, and all that stuff? That would be us. She makes up for my blind spots and vice versa. I like to think that we have a strong relationship…except lately, I can’t help but feel like everything’s started to become routine. There’s no excitement anymore, no romance. We’re both busy with our careers, and even our date nights are starting to feel like logistical exercises, or even tedious negotiations. Last night, I realized that we hadn’t even been affectionate with each other for a full month—we mostly talked about bills and her little sister’s 18th birthday. I’m afraid this could lead to a breakup, and I really don’t want that. How do I get back the spark we used to have?

A: I’d like to preface this by saying that, seven years is a very long time and the fact that you’ve lasted that long so far is, I believe, a testament to the kind of faith you’re capable of putting in this relationship. That’s a good thing—it tells me that you think what you have with her is worth fighting for. And believe me, you’ll have to fight for it. I’m willing to bet that when you guys were starting out, everything felt exciting and new. You must have spent a lot of time paying attention to each other and discovering things together. You probably even went out of your way to do that, though I’m pretty sure it didn’t feel like that for you at the time. And then you settled into life as a couple. Suddenly, excitement doesn’t come as easily anymore and it feels like, it takes more effort, right? News flash: it doesn’t, typically. What it takes to bring vibrancy back is a change in perspective.

You see, relationships are more like a fire. Once it catches on the kindling, it can bloom pretty quickly despite the added responsibilities of being in a serious relationship and the need to be practical in areas that were used to be occupied by dreaminess and the fulfillment of romantic fantasies. At the very beginning of your love affair, you were likely focused on getting that fire going, feeding it regularly with dates and new experiences and insights into each other’s personality. And then, once you have that flame burning merrily…you left it alone because you thought your job was done. You have a happily-ever-after situation after all. Roll those romantic movie credits.

Except the job isn’t really done. You need to make sure that fire is fed. It can’t burn forever on its own. You can’t leave it alone and expect it to keep going, without you helping it along. And it really doesn’t take as much work as you think it will. All the hard work happened at the beginning when you were trying to turn a spark into a flame. Sustaining it is much easier. Of course, since you’re the one who’s noticed the stagnation, it’s up to you to take the first step.

Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture at all. It can be as simple as a Post-It Note on her nightstand or sneaking her favorite chocolate bar into her lunchbox. You can hold her hand while she complains about the stuff happening at her job or things going wrong for her sister. Or you can send her a completely inappropriate joke while she’s working if that’s her jam.

There is also the option to experience things for the first time with her, such as boarding a cruise at Manila Bay, heading to the Mind Museum, visiting her old tambayans, or anything that she has been wanting to experience or revisit for the longest time but couldn’t. The key here is putting some focus back into your relationship, and getting back to the traits that drew you both to one another before things took a turn for the super serious.

The best part about this whole thing is that you’ve gotten to know each other fairly well by now, and you have a better idea of what could make her happy. And this doesn’t mean you need to stick to the boring old classics either—I’m sure you guys can extrapolate possible new adventures with each other based on the adventures you’ve had before. Ultimately, the enemy of your relationship is ignoring the fire you started. Pay attention. Keep stoking. And don’t forget the wood.

Fair Play

Ang routine na okay sa akin is work in the morning, ‘pag dating sa hapon, play golf, do boxing, play badminton. ‘Pag dating ng dinner, family time naman,” shares Edwin Arce, Vice President for Marketing of Arce Dairy, the local name behind delectable ice cream formulation that remains unchanged by time. Edwin’s ideal routine is within his reach and some may feel envious of him. However, before he perfected this routine, he had to work while studying and gave up his dreams of pursuing sports as a career. Arce’s family empire stayed in business because of their sacrifices and hard work in protecting what the first generation worked for, and Edwin is part of the force behind it today.

The birth of gourmet-style ice cream Tracing back to Arce Dairy’s roots as the top carabao’s milk supplier to prominent homes, it was transformed by Doña Carmen into an ice cream made by natural ingredients—which led to the birth of Selecta ice cream. In the 1990’s, the family sold Selecta but opted out to bring back Arce’s orginal recipe as Arce Dairy. Arce family’s first generation started out with a carabao farm wherein Don Ramon, Manuel L. Quezon’s secretary, catered the farm fresh milk to the congress.

Untouched by time Fast forward today, 84 years later, the third generation is now in charge—and quality in their products prevails. “It’s quality always. Hindi namin pwedeng i-sacrifice yung quality for the price. So, what we do, when we make ice cream, we only use first class ingredients,” boasts Edwin. “Maybe yung iba they just add fruit [flavorings]—kami we don’t. Kunwari mango, dudurugin mo yung mango gagawin mong ice cream. Kunwari macapuno, kakayurin mo yung macapuno lalagay mo sa ice cream.” In the age of multimedia platforms, shying away from advertising could led to the death of your business. However, it’s a different story when the products speak for itself. “It’s all about quality ice cream. Kaya up to now we are still here. Even if we don’t advertise,” reveals the VP for Marketing.

Journey to winning Edwin grew up with ice cream regularly served in his plate. Thus, he is no stranger to how premium quality dairy is produced. Unlike his business-minded father, he is sports-minded. Thus, when he was younger, he dreamt of pursuing sports. It was safe to say that he was on the right track as he was juggling three sports in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) representing San Beda College (now San Beda University); namely basketball, football, and track and field. “Sobrang hilig ko sa sports, pero ang daddy ko pinigilan ako,” Edwin confesses. “Kailangan namin ng kasama sa negosyo. Bakit ka magtatatakbo dyan? Ano kukunin mo gold medal?” his father said. At an early age, the third generation Arce learned how to manage his time. He would work in the morning to extend a helping hand to the family empire, then attend school in the afternoon until the sun sets. Evaluating his life today, Edwin’s obedience to his father seemed to have favored him, “It’s good that I followed my dad. Kasi kung ‘di ko siguro sinunod, [‘di ko alam kung] ano ako ngayon.

Mixing work and play To Edwin the secret to living a good life is balance: enjoy your work, and then play. “Mauubos ka ‘pag puro trabaho. ‘Pag puro naman laro, mauubos ka rin,” he claims. Alongside his position in the family business, he plays golf, badminton and boxing, and drives his motorcycle after going to the office in the morning. He recently retired from playing polo to answer his family’s clamor. However, he justifies this as is his means to save his sanity. He sometimes thinks of turning off his phone to maximize his “me time,” but he opts not to as he might miss something big. He was forced to learn to mix business with pleasure. He admits that he is a big spender for his toys, yet, on the opposite, is thrifty when eating out, ‘“Pag dating sa mga laruan ko, I spend. Halimbawa, kotse, motor, yung mga sports ko, I spend. Pero kunwari sasabihin mo, ‘kain tayo dito.’” He abruptly replies, “’Wag na dyan ang mahal naman dyan.” “Kumbaga jinu-justify mo yung gusto mo. Tapos yung ayaw mo, ‘de mahal yan.’” His love for big bikes started at a young age in their farm. At 14 years of age, he found his love for driving cars. He even used his creativity to build his own motor cross track utilizing the equipment they had in the farm. The relationship with motorcycles built during his childhood faded when he had a girlfriend and later on got married. In 2016, it was reignited as his friends invited him to ride again. He bought a small bike because he wanted to get it at a cheap price, but ended up buying the bigger ones after, outlasting his purpose to save money. His advice to those who will buy their toys: “Bili ka na ng pinakamaganda.” If you’re just starting out in the game, he suggests that you buy a smaller one which is lighter to practice with. When asked what he gets from riding his toys he quickly answered: “Happy [ako] dun.” To him, it’s a form of escape or a therapy to be with himself and to be himself. “You, the road, tapos your mind is with you,” he describes. “Hindi yung lagi kang may iniitindi. Umaalis ka don. Pumupunta ka sa kung sino [ay] ikaw. Minsan nag mo-motor ako mag-isa. Iikot lang ako. Halimbawa pupunta akong Pampanga. Para lang masaya.” He even admits spending P1.4 million for a motorcycle. “If you like it, mura lang sayo,” he explains. However, he still sets limits in spending. Everything is planned and organized to a certain budget. “Ang gagawin ko magdadala ako ng cash para ‘pag naubos, tapos na. Ako in-organize ko lahat. Pina-plano ko lahat,” he shared. “Kung pwede lang planu-hin ko lahat pati mangyayare sa mga anak ko. Kaya lang yung [mga] Millennials ayaw sumunod, may sarili silang plano,” he jokingly added. To Edwin, spending money is his stress reliever. He tags it as the “nicest thing on earth.” But he does save money first. “Nung buhay pa mommy and daddy ko, nagbibigay sila ng pera. Ang ginagawa ko tinatabi ko. Kumbaga for the rainy days. So mamaya, ‘di ko alam ang laki na pala ng natabi ko. So, ‘pag dating ko ng spending na, ang dali ko na kumuha kasi ang dami ko na pala natabi.” When it comes to his own hard-earned money though, he is more strategic in terms of spending, “[Pero] yung pinagtrabahuhan mo ang sakit gastusin. So, if you’re working, mas responsible enough ka, hindi mo itatapon.

Winning mindset “While you’re young, gawin mo na lahat,” he tells young, aspiring entrepreneurs. He assures that there is no regret in missing out on the fun. You will reap what you sow in the end, “Matuwa ka kung marami kang trabaho. Magpasalamat ka kung marami kang trabaho.” He adds, “Habang bata pa kayo gawin niyo na lahat ng trabaho. Once you come to my age, you want to enjoy the fruits of what you did.” For Edwin, there is only two options. “If you don’t like your job, get out. If you love your job, do it right.

A like for a peso

Following counts and likes have turned into a new form of gauge on people’s worth which translates to actual monetary values. Influencers are now being paid in amounts depending on their follower count, something not even showbiz firmly quantified before. With the advent of digital age, through various technological advances like smartphones, also came the inception of social media presence. Social media is computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. Users engage with social media via computers, tablets, or smartphones with web-based software or web applications, often utilizing it for messaging.

Nowadays, it is almost impossible to meet someone who does not own any social media account—be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. In fact, it has permeated our lives so much, that using social media is already a part of our daily routine. People spend a number of hours in a day just to share mundane matters to their deepest thoughts. The ideas they then share generate likes and boost their follower counts.

Along with the interjection of social media in our lives was the obsession of people on their following counts and likes. To some, the numbers and figures that make up one’s likes and following count is tantamount to their worth as a person. People scramble to get the most likes and followers. We have become a culture that is fixated with updating Facebook statuses, uploading Instagram stories, or sending tweets.

Ironically, social media has made us anti-social beings. Despite those negative bits, this culture also breeds a positive repercussion to society. One’s standing in likes and follower counts can actually be commensurate to a monetary value that can be a source of one’s income. The 21st century has brought both opportunities and challenges in our global, boundless world. As such, companies need to continually stay up to date on technology, customers, and social media. For instance, marketers must truly engage with customers, embrace technology, and be informed about the opportunities of social media.

Marketing with the use of social media essentially consists of taking advantage of follower counts in order to gain more publicity and customer reach. In this sense, the brands get to advertise their products to a much more active audience measured through the online reactions such as likes. Normally, these corporations get an already existing social media account with a large following to do the posting for them. These social media accounts, maybe those of the celebrities or those of people who has a lot of followers, are called “influencers.”

An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his/her audience. This individual has a following on a particular niche, which involves active engagement; and the size of the following depends on the size of the niche.

Influencers on social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a particular topic. They make regular posts about topics on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic engaged people who pay close attention to their content.

Brands love social media influencers because they can create trends and encourage their followers to buy products they promote which translate sales, then profit for them. In return, these social media creators get paid in proportion to the amount of likes or exposure they were able to get for the product. An influencer shares, “Basically, we do our thing, brands approach us to take a photo or talk about their product/service/campaign, and post about it on our social media and we leave it all to our audience (who is the brand’s target consumer).

Instagram is the main platform because this is where these personalities-turned-influencers, and consumers are mostly at. This is where brands can purely direct people’s attention to their product through photos or videos, and hopefully get them to consume with the aid of the influencer’s personality, content, and/or creativity.

The proliferation of influencers begs to answer these questions: Are influencers positive or negative inclusions to society? Could their standing in life being broadcast all over social media be detrimental to how people think their lives should be?

An influencer posits, “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think we are a negative inclusion. We help entrepreneurs big or small. We make things, ideas, goals, whether it’s personal or marketing-related, happen. No matter how much some people complain about how better life is without social media, it’s already there. We just have to learn how to utilize it. It creates many opportunities. At the end of the day, where there is people and their attention is, business, advertising even politics will be there.”

Accordingly, he added that influencers are also more than what we see them, “It’s way more than that. Personally, I don’t want my creativity and authenticity being limited by campaign briefs and I don’t work with brands that I will not actually use or believe in because I will eventually feel guilty posting about it. I just hope people will know the difference. Being an influencer is not the “dream,” it’s just part of the process of becoming your own brand for your own business.”

Local Heroes

TNC

TNC is arguably the most popular Pinoy Dota 2 team, and for good reason. The team is easily the most decorated Philippine-based organization, with championships in international Dota tournaments such as WESG. TNC is also a fixture in Major Dota tournaments, with the team qualifying for most of the big Valve-sponsored events, including The International (TI). While the team has a ton of achievements, one TNC milestone, still, stands above the rest, and that is TI 2016. Prior to that, no Pinoy team was able to qualify for the said biggest Dota tourney every year, aside from Mineski during the very first TI back in 2011. But in 2016, TNC not only qualified for the main event, but even defeated tournament favorites OG in an exciting three-game series that is considered as one of the biggest upsets in Dota 2 history. While the team went on to drop their next series against tournament runner-up Digital Chaos, the fairy-tale run cemented TNC’s status as one of the top teams of Southeast Asia (SEA)—and the world. Following that TI stint, TNC proved that their performance was no fluke. The team became a proud bearer of the Philippine flag in various tournaments across the world, including the next two Internationals. While the team saw major roster changes over the years, with only Carlo “Kuku” Palad remaining from the International 2016 roster, the team still plays the same entertaining and aggressive “Pinoy Dota” style that Filipino Dota fans have known and loved. Plus, they have also gained enough DPC points to qualify for this year’s TI.

MINESKI

Mineski is a household name in the Philippines for two reasons: (1) the ubiquitous internet/gaming cafe franchise, and (2) the Dota team. Mineski is one of the longest-standing Dota organizations in the game’s history, with the team’s start dating back to the early days of Dota 1. During the first Dota 2 International back in 2011, Mineski made a splash in the Playoffs after a rough group stage. During the main stage, Mineski defeated OK.Nirvana.CN, a Chinese team with experienced pros such as Wang “Banana” Jiao and “Yao” Zhengzheng. After the tournament though, Mineski wasn’t able to reach the same heights as their TI 2011 run; that was until the second half of 2017. In the period after The International 2017, the team had a major roster shuffle as they acquired veteran SEA players Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung and Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang. Alongside Pinoy player Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr., the team had a massive tournament run, winning Major tourney such as PGL Open Bucharest and the Dota 2 Asia Championship 2018. Following their impressive 2018 run, the team had another shuffle, adding Damien “kpii” Chok of Newbee, as well as Pinoy fan-favorite Ryan “Bimbo” Jay Qui. With the team’s current roster which includes two Pinoy veterans, the team has placed itself as one of the teams to beat in SEA.

FNATIC

Fnatic isn’t exactly a Filipino team, after all, the organization is headquartered in London. But it is still a team that is close to the hearts of Pinoy Dota 2 fans, and that is because of the squad’s star player Djardel “DJ” Mampusti. In 2015, Fnatic’s Dota squad changed from a European roster to a Southeast Asian one; this team had four Malaysian pros and one Pinoy player in DJ. Following this shuffle, Fnatic quickly became the dominant team in Southeast Asia, thanks in large part to DJ’s skill as the team’s support player. Fnatic’s success wasn’t just limited to the region though. The team placed 5th-6th in the Shanghai and Manila Majors, culminating in a massive International 2016 run. During that, the team finished 4th overall, winning a whopping USD $1,453,932 in prizes. Fnatic and DJ’s 4th place at TI 2016 still stands as the highest placement ever achieved by a Pinoy Dota 2 player in the Internationals. Much like other teams though, Fnatic went through roster changes after; and while the next couple of iterations of Fnatic featured a wide range of players, DJ was the constant. This current season, DJ is joined by another Pinoy pro in Azel “Abed” Yusop, and poised to make another deep run in The Internationals 2019. After all, they are the first SEA team to qualify for the tournament.

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