The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott

It’s been a while since I last grabbed a book and had this burning desire to write down my overflowing thoughts after turning the last page. The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott has changed this for me.

 

I’ve always been a goner when it comes to very relatable stories especially those that talks about forgiveness, second chances and fresh start in life. Maybe because I myself had a taste of the sweetness of redemption. These stories are very close to my heart.

 

In this book, the first thing I truly appreciated is how human the characters are. They are realistic and relatable human beings; typical young adults living a typical challenging life; or probably not the typical life for their age, but this story genuinely portrayed how ghost of the past or life in general can mess up one’s current state of being regardless of how old or young they are.

 

This relays the life story of Beckett and Zelda. A life story that is complemented by romance and on how they affect and been affected by the people around them.

 

Forgiveness from other people is attainable when asked with the purest of heart, but forgiveness towards oneself is often the hardest to practice. This book is a great reminder of how powerful “self-forgiveness” is.

 

I just love how the story unfolded, and how the side characters in Beck and Zelda’s lives displayed different angles of life, love and second chances. Such an amazing book!

Featured at Freelancing Ph

just wanna share this blog post:

Looking Past the Screen: An Interview with Rhea Guntalilib

 

it’s an honor to be interviewed by Ms. Cath Quiambao, and be featured in their blog. 🙂

Loving My Job at Simply Accessible… Sooo Much

When I finished school, there’s only one thing in my wish list when it comes to my career. I simply want a job that would make me happy; a job that would make me feel that I’m worth something, and of course, I wouldn’t be a hypocrite, I need a good paying job.

 

My first few years as a career person, I must say that it didn’t’ turn out as I expected. In fact, it turned out to be the opposite. The only thing fulfilled by my first job is the good pay. Apart from that, there’s nothing else. I’m just blessed to have awesome colleagues, but the growth that I deeply thirst, I never achieved it. 4 years and running, but I’m still at the junior and learning level. So imagine what that did to my self-esteem.

 

In that timeframe, I’m confident to say that I can’t throw all the blame to myself, not even to the company and my employers. I poured out all my efforts, exhausted my resources, the company have done their part as well, but I guess, circumstances (my blindness in particular) have caused all the restraints in my career growth. It’s very annoying and very frustrating that I can’t function simply because the tools they use are not accessible and not compatible with my screen reading software.

 

Fortunately for me, those struggles that I faced pushed my limits. I was so depressed and frustrated, but I used it as my motivation to look for other ways on how to redeem myself once again – and that is how I got involved into the beautiful world of digital accessibility. I experienced firsthand how horrible it is to be controlled by these accessibility barriers. From then on, I kept on searching for ways on how to promote my advocacy for digital accessibility. Fortunately, along my trek, I found a job opportunity that is related to accessibility testing.

 

I met the CEO of Simply Accessible Inc. we went through the typical hiring process, and luckily I got in! (I’m so happy). I’m working for the company as an Accessibility Tester for 5 months now and counting, and I can say that this past 5 months has been very joyful and very fulfilling for me.

 

I may not yet be a permanent employee for Simply Accessible, just a contractor, and my working hours are still limited to few hours per day, but the level of productivity that I am feeling is constantly growing each day. When it comes to the tools we use in Simply Accessible, almost everything is compatible with my screen reader. It may have minor glitches, but it doesn’t affect my ability to accomplish my tasks. In fact, through Simply Accessible, I can feel my self-confidence getting pumped up once again. I can feel my worth. I know how my work accomplishment contributes to the growth and productivity of the team. My contribution is relatively small as compared to the efforts of my teammates, but it really feels good that what I’m doing is being put into good use.

 

I’m just so grateful that I found this company, and hopefully they’ll let me continue to work for them until I finally become a full-time permanent employee.

Basic Python Programming Training for the Blind

Last October 17 to 21, I facilitated a basic Python programming course to 6 visually impaired participants. This training is in partnership with ATRIEV and Microsoft’s youth spark project. The training was held at ATRIEV training center at Quezon city.

 

I have been conducting different trainings for the past several years, but this one is a little different. This is my first time to teach programming. It’s very challenging because I can only teach the syntax, but I can never teach how my students would think. After all, programming is all about diskarte.

 

In spite of all the struggles, I’m happy that we were able to carry out all the lessons in that short period of time. We discussed the fundamentals of programming – the 3 basic programming constructs. Simple programs were also solved by the trainees.

 

It was a refreshing experience for me. It always feels good to share the skills and knowledge that I have to my fellow blind people.

Perks of Working From Home

It has been a year already since I started working from home. It’s not a choice, but something that I wont deny choosing if the option is presented. Come on! Who would not want the perks of this kind of work set up? No daily commutes, not obligated to dress up, not forced to be up early, no transportation and food allowance and above all, you get to spend more time with your family. Who would not want that?

 

First, let me share how I ended up in this work set up. I’ve been working in the telecommunications industry for almost 4 years now (4 years on May 1 to be exact). I used to be one of those typical employees who goes with the hustles and bustles of a typical crazy city life. The absence of my sight never stopped me from blending-in to that crazy jungle in Ayala. Buwis-buhay ika nga, just to go to and from the office. The only diference is that I have a sighted guide; my sidekick as they say, who basically helps me move around. So as you guessed, without her, it’s pretty much impossible for me to navigate the city by myself. Why? Well, sad to say but I live in a city where it’s suicidal for a blind person to take the risk to travel without a sighted guide (I’m not antagonizing metro Manila, I’m simply stating facts). And that’s what happened to me, my sighted guide needed to venture into greener pastures and I was left with no other choice but to go home in the province… jobless…  (or so I thought). I’m just so blessed that the company where I’m employed allowed me to work from home while looking for a replacement.

 

Now, the big “BUT” comes in. what used to be a piece of cake turned out to be one helluvah pain in the butt. Finding a replacement is no longer as easy as it used to be. You see, sabihin na nating I live in a province na late-bloomer. Urbanization has just kickstarted. Fastfood chains, grocery stores, restaurants, malls and other medium-sized businesses popped-out like mushrooms so that meant countless job opportunities became available. Add up the big Australian mining companies who were granted mining permits here in our province. These companies built-up sites, and they offered jobs to the locals in the barrios. With all the newly opened job opportunities, it became nearly impossible to find a qualified sighted guide. I can’t blame them. If I were in their shoe, why on earth would I choose to work in Manila and be away from my family when good paying jobs are readily available here in our place, right? So to cut the story short, I wasn’t able to find a replacement since then.

 

I would not deny the perks I get in working from home (especially in my condition). First and foremost, I’m a very family oriented person. I value every single second that I get to spend with my family. Another thing, and I guess the most important is I’m no longer putting my safety on the line. In roughly 3 long years of commuting, I had several experiences that if not by the grace of God, I’m probably dead by now (hahaha). Kidding and exaggeration aside, I’ve had my own fair-share of life-threatening moments during the rush hours.

 

To share a few, well the MRT and LRT experience alone. For all those who tasted the morning and evening craziness in MRT3 and LRT!, I guess explanation is already out of the picture. But for the sake of story telling, there goes those times where my foot nearly slipped inside the gap between the train and the platform. Andiyan yung pilit pinuputol yung kapit ko sa sighted guide ko (walang PWD PWD, walang buntis, walang senior citizen) pag rush hour, bahala ka sa buhay mo. Because even sa areas  reserved for PWDS, elderly and pregnant women are always jam-packed. Or I guess, dagdag factor kasi yung hindi halatang blind ako, that’s why. I can’t forget that one incident in LRT1, people are pushing us around then I needed to strap my sandals kasi the lock came off. I bent down, I was pushed sa dami ng tao then I accidentally hit my face sa isang metal platform. I went to the office with a bleeding lip. Thankfully hindi natanggal ngipin ko. And the most unforgettable? Dahil nga rush hour, mas madidisgrasya ka pag babagal-bagal ka, at yun na nga, I fell down sa stairs ng LRT. Talk about bruises overload.

 

As for the busses. Hmmm. Where do I even begin? For those who ride the bus in EDSA or especially in Gil Puyat, ika nga, kung hindi ka makikipaghabulan, hindi ka makakarating ng opisina on time. Andiyan ang nabitawan na ako ng guide ko while riding the bus kasi naman, kailangan mong sumakay kahit umaandar ang bus. That happened as well while riding a jeepney from Ayala. The good thing naman in all these experiences, I realized na yes, super duper dami ang walang pakielam sa mundo, but there are still those helpful souls naman  pala out there who would pause to help kahit pa sobra silang nagmamadali (ratio is, 1:5. Hahaha) etc… etc… etc… sobrang dami pang horror stories sap ag-commute.

 

I must admit though, in everything that I have experienced during those times, I really saw the goodness of God kasi He never placed me in situations na may mga masasama talagang tao and help is always available pag kailangan ko. At sa lahat ng nakakalokang experiences na yan, nothing really damaging ang nangyari sa akin. Thank you, Lord!

 

Lastly, my pocket is much happier this time. (wootwoot!!! Hahaha) I can finally say that I have my savings. Kasi naman… before, because I’m sustaining a sighted guide, everything is times two; from food, transportation allowance and all other expenses. To top it off, I’m paying my rent and my bills and of course, the salary of my sighted guide. And oh, let’s not forget the cost of living in Metro Manila especially in Makati. So yeah, it’s only now that i am truly enjoying and sharing my financial blessings with my family (at its fullest).

 

In a more personal aspect, my heart, my mind and my whole being has been recharged. (liko tayo ng konti) At the height of Billy Crawford’s break up with Nikki Gil, we we’re watching this episode of The Buzz where Billy was insanely crying and he mentioned leaving the country to go home to his family because he needed to heal himself. I’m guilty that I’m one of those who found it “OA” and I’m also guilty that I’m one of those who thought of it as pautot lang to escape from his monsters that time. However, for the past year, I may not have realized it instantly, but apparently, I needed the same thing. Last year, I was at a very devastating state in my life. I felt so drained, my self-esteem, self-worth, my self-confidence are all  spiraling down. It’s only now that i realized how exhausted I was that time. All the bottled up emotions took its toll on me; all the heartaches that I kept, all the hurts and discriminations and basically all the crap that I’m going throughback then. It ate up all of me.

 

God knew what He did. What happened between me and my guide was actually a blessing in disguise, not just for me but for her as well. And the best part of all of it? This time that I had with my family for the past year truly healed me. The time spent with my bestfriends helped me big time. I needed those bonding moments in order to unleash myself again. I’m not saying that I’m perfectly well, but I’m in a better place compared last year. Now, I can say that I’m ready to face the world once again (medyo OA. hahaha). I felt revived, recharged, energized or whatever you may want to call it.

 

I’m still actively scouting for a sighted guide, but honest to goodness? If I have it my way, I wouldn’t fake it and say that I want to go back to my old routine. But yeah, life is not about what we want, it should be balanced with what is needed, and I fully acknowledge the fact that I need to work at kasama na dun ang pag-embrace ng situation na kakambal ng trabaho ko. Yes, of course this set up has its downside as well (but let’s save that for next time), but in terms of convenience and practicality, this works best for me. If time comes that I really need to go back, if God wills, I believe he’ll give me the strength once again to face that kind of lifestyle and if it is in His will, He will surely give me a new sighted guide. For now though, I’m enjoying this work set up while I still can. A big thank you as well for technology for making this work set up possible. Big clap clap to whoever invented virtual private networks. Wink wink and of course, for my workmates, my superiors… for understanding. Big thank you. 🙂

The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon (book review)

Oookkaaayyy! So I have been so caught up with this book that it got me out of bed at 5 in the morning… on a Sunday… just to write this down because this book is so freaking good! I’m talking about “The Law of Moses” by Amy Harmon. A little overkill probably, but this book gave a handful of realizations.

 

First and perhaps the most monumental, I realized that I’m really getting old! I’m usually fascinated with out-of-this-world book genres such as “The Virgin Romance Novelist” by Meagan Quinn. I adore those light-hearted books such as that one. No serious drama and filled with humor. That’s the very reason why I’m drawn to my all-time favorite books – Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Night Huntress and the Dark Hunter series because these books are so magical that they have this intense power of pulling you out from reality and taking you into a different world. This book however has made me appreciate the different facades of this very abstract and complicated concept called life. I’m positive that  if I read such book few years back, I’d find it too conventional and heavy-dramatic for my own good rather than be fascinated and simply be in awe the way I do right now.

 

I regard this book as a perfect combination of all different genres all rolled into one. Paranormal romance is indeed dominant, but this is as well a story of love and lost, life and death, pain and healing. This story is combined as well with thriller, suspense and drama.

 

They say that this book is about a second chance romance, yes it is, but I guess it’s more appropriate to say that this is about second chance in general; second chance in romantic love, second chance in broken family relationships, second chance for friendship, and even a second shot with fate and destiny.

 

What truly stood out for me in the story is the strength in both the characters of Moses and Georgia. They are strong as a couple, but strong as individual persons as well. Another thing is the friendship of Moses and Tag. I have always been a fan of books that showcases solid friendships. Lastly, and the thing I love most is on how the author creatively portrayed the essence of forgiveness at its deepest. It did not only show reconciliation, but it focused on the love and healing that transpired behind genuine forgiveness. On the flip side, the other side of the coin has been shown as well. If forgiveness heals and liberates, this book also showed that lack of it could lead to misery and destruction. And before i forget, I was also endeared to the 5-G’s of Georgia. It kind of reminded me of my grandmother. One of the many things that she constantly drills into us is to count at least 5 blessings we had for the whole day, and then to say a word of gratitude for those blessings. I think this has been our grandma’s way of teaching us the attitude of gratitude.

 

Amy Harmon did not only gain my admiration, but she gained my utmost respect. I am convinced that whatever values that have been demonstrated in the book mirrors her personal good values. This book reflects faith in God, love for family, loyalty to friends, forgiveness, gratitude, respect to others and above all is love and respect to one’s self.

 

Now I perfectly understand what the fuzz is all about; the countless book recommendations and the very positive reviews. This book made me reflect and made me realize things.

 

If a person colored your back with deceit, you’ll always find yourself second guessing that thin line between the words “genuine” and “reverse psychology”. These two after all are same faces made up of two different colors.

 

It’s not an issue of trust. It’s a natural reaction when people choose to turn a blind eye and pretend that all is well rather than face the fact that they’ve messed up. True enough, forgiveness can be given even if it was never asked; however, asking for it is essential for it to be forgotten.

 

Genuine love, as they say, is having the capacity to forgive even in the absence of an apology, same banana, genuine love is… at any cost, if you messed up, you’ll say sorry; you’ll choose honesty and humility regardless of what would be at risk.

WEB ACCESSIBILITY – An Advocacy, A Bridge to Better Opportunities for People with Disabilities

If I tell you that I am blind, yet I can use a computer, I can code programs and I can browse the internet. Would you believe me?

 

Chances are, this could be the very first time that you heard about blind people using technology. Or maybe not, yet you remain one of those people who are very curious as to how is it possible. To fill in the blanks, here is a short demonstration on how a blind person uses a computer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FYO6jL7uDQ

 

Now that you know that people with disabilities; the blind in this case, could navigate the web, it is only but proper to open your eyes as well to web users like me. It wouldn’t hurt to be a little curious as to how you, as web developers and designers, could actually contribute in making our web navigating experience easier and more enjoyable.

 

The ultimate key for us to unlock the wonders of the World Wide Web is through a concept called “WEB ACCESSIBILITY”. In its easiest sense, web accessibility simply tells you to design your websites in a way that people with disabilities could perfectly browse the web.

 

At this point, you are probably asking, “so what if the web becomes accessible to people with special needs?” or “what does web accessibility has to do with it?” here’s another short video to answer those questions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9PWviXRe48

 

In case I piqued your interest (which I hope I did), you could read more about web accessibility in this page:

https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php

and you could as well take a look at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0:

http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

 

Thanks for reading this and for patiently watching my videos. As I mentioned in the video above, this is an advocacy and as they say “if opportunities do not come… make one” so this is what I am doing, I’m trying to create opportunities. So for more information and inquiries here’s my contact details:

Email and Facebook account: rheaguntalilib@gmail.com

 

Please pass this on to all your friends and colleagues in the ICT industry most particularly to web developers.

 

Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre (book review)

Since I can’t seem to find the right words to describe this book, let me simply draw a mental image of how this Cole-Summer romance made me feel.

 

Being angsty aside, let’s just say that I have been constantly wearing a heavy heart for the past days. Good mood is going downhill, and dearest Ms. Tantrum is enjoying the limelight. In short, I’m depressed and wanted a sweet escape, so I grab a book, prayed to all the Gods up there that I’ll pick a good one, and drown myself into the story. That, my dear friends, is how I felt before I flipped the very first page of this book.

 

Upon reaching the last chapter, the last paragraph, the last word… I still have that heavy heart, but in a very different reason – I am freaking sad that the story has ended because it made me so freaking happy! For the record, this is my first time to touch hands with a plot without a major conflict. Is it a bad thing? No! Does it make the story boring? Definitely not! The light hearted nature of this story is the very reason why my bad mood/depression/tantrum popped out of the picture. The happiness brought by this book is very contagious.

 

Last but not the least, Cocky and its relationship with Cole is definitely the cream of the crop for me. It’s hilarious, but it’s super-duper cute! Apart from the fact that this book is intelligently written, I guess the word refreshing is the best adjective for this very adorable love story.