The Best Group of People You Could Ask For

It was our last day here in London, and I didn’t really have any plans after waking up. Some people went to do some more sightseeing, some went to shop, but I just stayed in the hotel and grabbed some food and hung out with Ashley and Kaity.

The next thing you know, it’s dinner time with the group. We had a really nice dinner at an Italian restaurant, and we give out our gifts that we stealthily bought, for Ingrid and Regina, the best mentors we could ask for on the trip. We all raised our glasses and cheered, for it was the end of our trip.

I thought that was gonna be the end of the night, but boy, was I wrong. All of us minus the profs went out to a club — mind you, I have never been to a club before. I was never a party person, nor am I a very outgoing one, either. But this was the greatest time of my life. Great dance music with friends, which relationships that I’ve been able to build more in this trip, and bright lights; what more could you ask for a great night out?

This trip has been such a blast for me. I came into the trip on a sour note with all the personal things that have happened to me in the past months, and I can feel like I am such a different person now. I don’t feel this heavy weight on my body as much, and I have more great friendships and network than I started. I experienced way more than what I can muster myself to do on a daily basis, and I will cherish these moments forever. Thank you to everyone that has been a part in making this trip happen. Thank you to my everyone who went on this trip, because you guys are the MVP, and made this trip really enjoyable for me.

Self-Reflection (Hackathon)

I had my doubts in working with this project at the hackathon because of how close the topic of depression is to me: I have experienced depression in the past, and more recently, too. In the end, this event was such a great learning experience and pushed my boundaries and helped me grow.

The first day started with briefings, meeting our respective group members, and learning more about depression. Big Radical, the development studio that hosted this event, also gave us great insights on depression and on the tools that we can consider for the project. My team consisted of a couple of researchers, a digital program lead, and three graphic designers: Steven, Reggie, and myself.

During the insight stage, I was reading through the stages and symptoms of depression; and looking back, I can see myself going through the same moments in my depressed times. It was self-reflective and reading about it didn’t make me feel lonelier, instead it made me feel better. All I can see from that graph is that there are different ways and times we can help people with depression.

After understanding more about depression, we head straight to coming up with ideas. This was probably where most of our time and work was put into, since it took a lot of back and forth between all the members to agree on a solid idea — and be on the same page. We were supposed to come up with a team name, which didn’t happen; but at least by the end of the day, we came out with a pretty solid idea.

The second day was like a really long work day. We had to work on prototyping the idea/app itself. We had some small changes and additions to the app/idea that needed to be worked on. What I disliked from our group, however, was the fact that one person kept insisting on focusing on the language and features of the app when we need to be focusing on other things. It seemed like she doesn’t get the fun or basic idea of what makes our app appealing. We must’ve spent a couple of hours in total arguing from both days — a couple hours which would have been more valuable in discussing the underlying idea instead of the finer details. We also had to work on presenting the idea to everyone at the event, and will be judged.

We were the last to present our ideas, and we came up with the name Cyan Wolves just two hours before the event ended, which to me was kinda meh. The awards were given out to everyone, and then the judges announced Altru to be the winner. Then it was photo time! And then it was time to leave. I was really sad and happy: sad that the event is coming to an end, and happy that I got to go to this wonderful event.

I am really happy and thankful for the opportunity to meet and work with different people, and therefore growing as a person for the better. I learnt so much in just these two days. I learnt that a good leader is really crucial in how productive the team can be. I learnt that I am not the best, still, at trying to express my thoughts and ideas. I also learnt that I cannot be as passive of a person in these discussion and debate situations. When compared to working alone, working with other people is much harder, but it is really fun, collaborative, exciting, and very informative on human behavior. We learn so much from each other, and from situations that are out of our comfort zones. What I noticed also is that design thinking is very helpful in almost all situations, especially when trying to come up with a more tangible idea.

I would definitely do these sorts of events again in the future. They really bring out the best of people, and help us as a group and community grow.

Mind Your Ps and Kews

The whole time I was at the Kew Gardens, I was just thinking of how much my mom would be able to stay the whole day walking around and taking pictures. She loves observing different floras and would always get giddy and excited seeing new and pretty ones.

The botanical art museum has a lot of botanical paintings from all around the world, and more interestingly, Indonesia. I needed to take a moment to sit down in the botanical art museum when I looked at the titan arum watercolor painting. The life-sized painting was really beautiful and even though it’s one of those weird, monstrous carnivorous plants, I appreciate the beauty of it.

The next time I visit the gardens, I would like to have a picnic here under the shade by the rose gardens — eating sandwiches, feeling the nice spring breeze, and enjoy the view and scent of the roses.


I never really understood high fashion whenever I see it on TV or online in a video, but after this exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum, I finally got it. The Balenciaga exhibit at the V&A highlighted Christobal Balenciaga’s designs; and being able to see fashion design in a different context — in an art exhibit — provides a different perspective to appreciate it.

What really struck me was the voluminous pink dress that really stood out from the rest of the black dresses in that section. I really want to just put it on and start playing around and flap the sleeves around. I was really inspired by how many people in the fashion design industry was inspired by Balenciaga and his design principles of using materials and simple shapes — and his boldness to design avant garde garments. I would definitely like to take the methods and concepts that fashion designers use in their sketches to apply it to mine.



We had two things planned today: the Design Museum and going to the theater to see Wicked. We went to see the California: Design and Freedom exhibition at the Design Museum. Having the opportunity to see technological advances and history of design in an exhibition was really awesome and really helpful in understanding the design culture in California and US.

Wicked was AH-MAZIIING. The set of the entire play was well-made and detailed. The acting, vocal performances — everything — were just great. Galinda was my favorite character. I am very grateful and enlightened now that I get to learn all about musical theaater, to see an auditorium, to see the actual play itself, and to see how everything unfolds together. I will cherish the memory forever, and I will go to more musical shows, if I can.

I consider myself uncultured on culture — of design, technology, and theater performance. After today, at least I can say I’m a bit more cultured.

The Golden Nugget

June 6, 2017

Lady Gaga. I met Lady Gaga — well, her wax statue, at least.

I thought Madame Tussaud’s wax museum was going to be not weird, but I was horribly mistaken. The wax statues were really creepy. It felt like looking at a lifeless life-size  life-like dolls. The museum did a great job with providing a lot of different experiences for their audience with interactivity and such, but their way-finding system was really terrible and doesn’t stand out as one of the strongest that we’ve seen.

Afterwards, we went to the British Museum; and it was huuuuuge. The British Museum reminds me of the Met in NYC. The architecture and way-finding system seems very similar. Some of the exhibits that I was excited to see were the Hokusai pieces and Asian art. As I was finishing listening on a small lecture about the early art of Hokusai and the history of Japanese wooden block printing, I looked to the right. There was an orange textile piece that was part of the Japanese gallery. The intricate details of the etchings and the reflectiveness of the gold threads really caught my attention; and something about that specific piece of cloth was just really captivating. We visited the American Pop Art exhibition afterwards and saw some pieces by Rauschenberg, Warhol, Jasper Johns, and more.

Overall, the day was really great, but another really tiring day for me.

Humor and Design

The thing that I noticed the most today, besides all the tourist attractions, foods, and terrible weather, was that all our tour guides today were all funny and entertaining. They were all different in their approach with humor. Our first tour guide used banter and interaction with the audience to make us laugh. The tour guide on the boat was very flat and dry on the delivery, but the timing on the punchline was spot on. By this point, the group has split and I got into the bus with a group of people and this one was very relatable because it was mundane and referential.

Humor and design are similar in a few ways: they both carry a message and work because they take the context into account; they both make or break the experience for the audience if they cannot understand what’s being presented to them; and, they can bring a new perspective and angle in a given situation. I don’t know — just my two cents.

Keeping a Sketchy Journal

It started off as just getting back into the groove of writing and doing some hand-lettering, then I decided I’m going to start recording and responding to what I was about to see and experience for the blog as doodles in my sketchbook. Since this is our first day in London, there was little of hardcore art and design exploration for me. If you’re interested in knowing what these mundane doodles meant, then keep on reading.

The latest episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” was on my mind when I was waiting at the airport, which led me to drawing one of the contestant’s signature make-up look. I was also drawing a person’s portrait in the waiting room. I poorly drew a batik pattern on a lady’s shirt on the customs queue line. The ‘EAT.’ type was a restaurant chain that we passed by a couple of times in the taxi on the way to the airport. We passed by the Big Ben and some street signs in the taxi to the hotel. “Catfish” was on MTV when I was waiting to meet the group for dinner. And lastly, I drew a quick rendition of my outfit of the day (OOTD), which consists of my shirt and shoes for our group dinner. At the end of the day, I am still very much confused whether we should be walking on the left or right side as a pedestrian.