Santa At Ascension

Being Santa Claus

by Roland Andrei T. Carada

I was still in school when I met a real live Santa Claus. Michael Allan Hamlin (MAH) went to our Parish Gift Giving in full Santa regalia. Imagine this tall American, decked in what was probably the hottest Santa costume of all time, in the sweltering heat of Manila. When MAH went out to that court, the kids went wild. Like me, this was probably the first time they ever saw Santa Claus for real.

My First Real Santa

Boy were those big shoes to fill.

You see, I never once imagined that I would get to play Santa. But that fateful day came when a colleague playfully asked me if I wanted to be Santa for the My Dream in a Shoebox Pamasko sa Mga Bata. My answer? “Seryoso ka ba!?!?” Turns out she was just joking. But it got me thinking. And being the impulsive Andrei you all know and love, I went over to her and I said yes.

So I told my mom. And knowing my mom, because I’m a Carada, you have to be EXTRA. She sent forth her ever resourceful EA Ate Dana who found two awesome Santa Costumes just in time for Christmas.

My mom then hand-stitched and repaired them so they fit just right. She even made a belt out of velcro and this stretchy cloth that wraps around perfectly.

It’s amazing the effect of a wig, a fake beard, and bright red pajamas can do. The kids looked at me with this look of genuine awe and wonder. It’s Santa Claus come to life! Kids came up to make mano and gave me high fives. There was a kid who hugged me for five minutes straight!


My First Foray As SabtaWith MDIAS VolunteersWith TeamAsia

Last December 29 was my last day as Santa. And as the kids were being lined up for the obligatory picture taking, at around the tenth group or so, I found myself silently weeping. It was overwhelming to feel that much love. Good thing I was under all that fake hair and nobody noticed. But suffice it to say, I was genuinely touched.

Santa At Ascension

In any case, as I stow away my Santa costume, all I feel is this sense of gratitude that I was able to contribute a small part in this. I guess that’s what TeamAsia teaches you. We always pride ourselves in creating next level experiences – because at the end of the day, that experience can touch people’s lives.

Dressing up as Santa Claus is small in the grand scheme of things but you never know the effect it will have on the children who saw you. Maybe a decade from now, one of those kids will dress up as Santa Claus and reflect on this just as I am doing now.

Here’s to more next level experiences this year. Cheers!

TeamAsia Pop-up!

Making TeamAsia POP!

I do not look the part but I have already been working for well over a decade and a half. TeamAsia is the latest stop in this crazy adventure I have been on since I graduated from college.

When I got here, the first thing I noticed was the culture. You felt it in the air. It animated the way people spoke and interacted with each other. Even though the backgrounds are as diverse as in any organization, there is a palpable sense of a singleness, a unity that you just cannot define. It makes the word “team” in TeamAsia more real somehow.

The question is: what makes TeamAsia tick?

Read our feature from BusinessWorld SparkUp! About Pop-Up! here: Staying Alive – Employee Engagement in 2028.


“A culture is strong when people work with each other for each other. A culture is weak when people work against each other for themselves.” – Simon Sinek defines employee engagement as how much employees are emotionally committed to the organization and to the organization’s goals. Employee engagement is important because of how it affects the bottomline – reports that companies that have engaged employees experience at least an 8.6 percent increase in profits.

That same employee engagement is important to creating the culture we have in TeamAsia. When employees put an emotional investment into their organization, it leads to a smoothing of egos; a unity of ideas; a single language that pervades each and everyone on the team.

A big part of why TeamAsia’s employee engagement is so pervasive is also because of its engagement activities. If we pride ourselves in bringing next-level experiences, it should be fitting that we also bring next-level employee engagement.

Enter TeamAsia Pop-Up!


Work Stops, Everybody Pops

Here at TeamAsia, we have our own employee engagement tradition which we call Pop-Up! Every month we set aside a few hours for meaningful activities with the whole team.

My first Pop-up! happened just a few days from my first day in TeamAsia – the annual TeamAsia GeTAway (note the use of TA in our activities which stands for TeamAsia). For the following month, we all stopped working for a few hours to do some spring cleaning and create something wonderful from all the things we accumulated over the years.

Just last month we had our special Halloween Pop-up! called TAkot. We all dressed up in our musical Themed Halloween costumes presented a twist to happily ever after.

The Experience Department

The Creatives Department

The Marketing and Accounts Department

These activities have an impact on the people that participate in it. For Justin and Chiara, two of our newest members on the digital team, TAkot definitely left an impression. “TAkot was a reminder that at the end of the day, people need to experience life even in the workplace,” says Justin. Chiara notes that TAkot was a great opportunity to get to know her new officemates better.

This concept has been a hit for TeamAsia, garnering it two Quill awards for Employee Engagement.


The Digital/IT Web Teams

In all my years working, I have always believed that the deepest bonds are formed on the proverbial battlefield. It is not the stress that forms that bond, it is the moments in between that create stronger relationships.

That single purposeful voice in TeamAsia leads to us taking that next step in making brands more engaging. That energy makes us all bright and shiny and renews our commitment to taking brands to the next level of experience.

Read all about our latest Pop-up! here: Staying Alive – Employee Engagement in 2028.

TAkot 2018: Happily Never After

TeamAsia TAkot

All Dressed Up And Ready To Scare

October 31, 2018, Alabang. Yesterday afternoon’s TAkot 2018 was a riot!

Every last Wednesday of the month, TeamAsia celebrates Pop Up, a beloved employee engagement activity where everyone stops work to get together for a few hours of fun, fellowship and camaraderie. It is also a time when birthday celebrants are greeted, and friends break bread (though it was barbecue, noodles and doughnuts yesterday). New employees are welcomed, but first, they have to either perform a talent or butt-spell their name, a hilarious exercise that has everyone cheering them on.

The most awaited of these monthly Pop Ups is Halloween. This time around, we moved Pop Up to Tuesday as many of our employees will be traveling to the provinces today to celebrate Undas, the Filipinos’ way of honoring their dead by visiting the cemeteries and coming together as families to pray and remember loved ones that have gone ahead.

Happily Never After was this year’s theme for TAkot. A twist on musicals that end happily and make everyone believe life is dandy, the theme had everyone thinking creatively of a different and unexpected ending for Halloween. One where you witness something terrifying and unnerving, and you are lucky enough to escape and tell the tale.

Five departments competed in the quest: Creatives with The Lion King, Digital/IT and Web with Moana, Marketing and Accounts with The Wizard of Oz, Experience with Trolls, and Content with The Little Mermaid. With imaginative minds and creative juices working overdrive, the TeamAsians delighted us with their productions, and made my job as judge difficult. Luckily there were other judges to spread the work around.

The Creative folks danced with abandon, representing the animal kingdom rejoicing the birth of the Lion King, when suddenly they removed their animal costumes and turned into zombies dancing to Michael Jackson’s Bad.

Starting with a video clip from Moana where she saves the island from devastation, the Digital/IT and Web boys danced to their own ditty of “mag walis, mag-bunot, mag-laba, mag-sampay” as their fitting welcome to the triumphant Moana, ably played by Chiara, who they then kill as “women are not allowed on their island.” Undertones of gender bias, but happily, we have our first female team member in what for the longest time was an exclusive male domain.

Pam’s baby Coco adorably dressed as a princess troll stole the scene from the Experience Department’s performance. Coco didn’t even cry when she was taken from her “dying” Mama Troll Queen’s arms and given to the Troll King as sacrifice. Abi Bibat ably led the group in singing.

Lynda surprised everyone with her singing for the Wizard of Oz, as the unlikely group of friends, Enzo as the Scarecrow, Joyce as the Tin Man, Erika as the Cowardly Lion, and Patrick as Dorothy hop-skipped their way through the Land of Oz. Aire as the Wicked Witch of the North and Denise as the Wizard herself completed the cast of characters. And when Erika the Lion received her badge of courage and stopped being cowardly, she pounced on Dorothy and killed her, then gave away Dorothy’s heart to the Tin Man and her brains to the Scarecrow. It was indeed a surprise ending, and a hilarious performance.

Content’s Little Mermaid’s story addressed the environmental crisis, weaving in undertones of the ocean’s desecration by the massive garbage and plastic being thrown into the sea. As Johanna, alias Ariel, sang longingly of exchanging her fishtail for feet so she could explore the earth, the other content staff swam, or rather bobbed, around. There was Luigi as a seahorse, Tony as a starfish, BeaF as an octopus, Ana as Nemo. Vince told the story, while the other team members served as extras or production staff; throwing the garbage and blowing bubbles in the air. Intent on achieving her dream, Ariel goes to Ursula, devilishly played and sang by Axl, complete with sidekicks Flotsam and Jetsam. Ariel gets her wish, while Ursula is caught by a fisherman. And once on dry land, hungry Ariel decides to stop by a kiosk to buy takoyaki, a popular Japanese street food made of octopus balls. Goodbye Ursula! A deadly twist indeed, reminding us that the garbage we throw out into the sea, end up in the seafood that we consume. Hats off to Elton, the master storyteller and scriptwriter!

After the performances, we headed off to the pantry to get food, while the young ones went around to collect goodies. It was heartwarming to see the little sons and daughters of our staff having fun and playing in TeamAsia.

And we all had fun dressing up! Bea was the evil queen holding a box with a heart, while I dressed up as Esmeralda of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The night before, Bea asked me to make her a crown for her outfit, and I remembered all those halloweens past when my children were young and we dressed up in outrageous costumes.

Soon it was time for butt-spell. We had a record number of butt-spells this time, with BVernie of Content doing it so fluidly it must have been cursive! Bea then announced the winners of the competition: Content bagged the first prize, followed by MAD and Creatives.

Takot 2018 was definitely a blast, an occasion for TeamAsians to unleash their creativity while having fun. I look forward to what our Pop Up team can come up with for the next one.

Original Content from:

Handog TeamAsia

Isinulat ni: Neil Dominic De Luna, Graphic Artist

Noong Hulyo, dumayo kami sa Haven for Children para isagawa ang Pop Up Gives Back, ang programang pang-CSR ng TeamAsia. Ito ay ginaganap taun-taon upang maibalik ang mga biyayang ipinagkaloob sa kanila ng Maykapal at makatulong din sa mga nangangailangan.

Naghanda ng masasayang palaro ang TeamAsia at naghandog din ito ng mga makakain para mapagsaluhan ng bawat isa pagkatapos ng mga kasiyahan. Matapos ang mga inihandang gawain at pakain, nagbahagi ng isang makabuluhang pananalita ang presidente ng TeamAsia na si Monette Iturralde-Hamlin. Pinaalalahanan niya ang mga bata na huwag susuko at magpatuloy sa laban ng buhay.

Unang beses kong makadalo sa Pop Up Gives Back at sobrang saya at makabuluhan ito dahil nakita ko ang ngiti at saya ng mga bata sa mga mukha nila.

Naging bahagi ako ng palaro, nakisama sa mga bata, at nakipagkilala sa kanila. May ilang pilyo ngunit masiyahin, at meron din namang mga tahimik at ‘di makabasag pinggan ngunit game na game parin.

Naging makabuluhan ang buhay ng mga oras na iyon, dahil madalang dumating ang pagkakataon na makakapagpasaya ng ibang tao sa ganong paraan. Iba yung pakiramdam na nakikita mong ngumingiti sila dahil sa’yo. Para sa akin, mas masarap makapagpasaya kumpara sa ikaw lang yung masaya at tumatawa, dahil binibigyan ka rin nito ng ginhawang ‘di mo matatamasa mula sa materyal na mga bagay. Sa bawat sulyap ko sa kanila, mas naghahangad akong makatulong pa sa iba.  Mas nabigyan nito ng apoy ‘yung nagbabaga kong kagustuhan na maglaan ng panahon na tumulong at makapagpabago ng buhay ng ibang tao.

Ganap na kagalakan ang nadama ko noong araw na iyon ngunit mas namayani yung mga tanong na umikot sa aking ulo kung bakit, ano, at paano. Sa ngayon, ang importante ay may nag-aaruga sa kanila at nasa mabuting kamay sila.

Silipin sa ilalim ang mga litratong nakuha ng TeamAsia mula sa programa:

Handog TeamAsia 1

Ang Creatives, Marketing, Accounts, at Experience Team bago magsimula ang laro

Handog TeamAsia 2

Si Patrick,Meynard, ako, at si Emerson

Handog TeamAsia 3

Si Camille, Mazee, Clah, Rai, Kris, at Shane

Handog TeamAsia 4

Si Meynard at ako, dala ang mga premyo sa laro

Handog TeamAsia 5

Si Anna na ipinapaliwanag ang mga panuntunan ng laro

Handog TeamAsia 6

Si Florence, Steph, at si Dezza Superstar

Handog TeamAsia 7

Ang Content team

Handog TeamAsia 8

Sobrang tuwang tuwa yung mga bata habang naglalaro kami

Handog TeamAsia 9

Nagdala rin kami ng pagkain para sa mga bata

Handog TeamAsia 10

Ang TeamAsia family kasama si Jollibee, ang beeda ng salo-salo





TeamAsia invades Conceptrum!

By: Koji Arsua, Senior Editorial Associate

Let’s play a game. Given the three situations, which one would you rather be in and what would you do? Would you rather be wrongly accused of a crime and you have to prove your innocence, find the backup power source that will paralyze a town before time runs out, or to look for a psycho killer responsible for your friend’s disappearance?


Through Conceptrum in BF Homes, TeamAsians were able to experience all of these fictional scenarios by going through a series of mission-based game rooms. We were able to test out our investigative skills. And boy, was it fun!


Conceptrum has three rooms: Framed, where we had to go through several challenges to prove that we did not commit a crime that was being blamed on us; Blackout, which sent us on a mission to locate the power source before the town is enveloped by darkness brought on by power failure; and Deranged, where we raced against time while looking for a psychotic criminal who abducted our friend.


We were divided into six groups, where we tried one of the rooms. I was assigned as team leader for the second group for Deranged. Sadly, we were not able to complete the challenge and only managed to solve 85% of the puzzle. We ran out of time when we were trying to figure out the code for a locked box. It was so hard that none of the groups completed 100%!


AC Esguerra, Florence Joy Dela Cruz, and Monica Borja’s groups scored the highest with 90% for Blackout, Deranged, and Blackout, respectively.
Check out some of our photos below!

Pop Up Concentrum

Groups 4, 5, and 6 before we entered the game rooms. The atmosphere was a mix of nervousness and excitement because we didn’t know what to expect (especially in Deranged)


Team 6 after the Deranged challenge


Group 1 after the Framed challenge