5 ways when in manila changed my life

Right after my stint in Candy CoC ’12, I had what I jokingly called the quarter-life crisis. I was 18 years old and unfulfilled, so I tried filling my schedule with co-curricular activities, While I did get to meet great friends and efficient co-workers, I felt busy but bored. I still didn’t find the fulfillment I needed.

I then tried joining WhenInManila.com, a community blog now with almost 400 contributors and ten million views a day. My first feature came out November 2013. I became a Senior Columnist nine months after joining. Just three months ago, I also started working as a Senior Features Editor. Altogether, I’ve been with WhenInManila.com for roughly 30 months only, but I can hardly believe how drastically it has changed my life.

I took a break from my work for WhenInManila.com today and listed five out of the many ways joining WhenInManila.com changed my life.

5 Ways Joining WhenInManila.com Changed My Life

5.) It taught me to be braver.

I have a perennial tendency to overthink. And because of all the worst-case scenarios I constantly played in my head, I had a lot of inhibitions and doubts. But through WIM, I took more risks. There were small risks like “casually” approaching my idol while waiting in line for some cookies, giving away calling cards to people thrice my age during networking events, or begging for concert tickets to watch the #RedTourMNL.

But there were also bigger risks like speaking out on a controversial issue, approaching a brand for a partnership, saying yes to a job despite the heavy load in school, or owning up to unethical practices and apologizing to the rightfully offended readers.

When I look back, I can’t believe how great many milestones I experienced through the kindness and the faith of others. Many times, the breakthroughs I so desperately wanted were just a question away. I just needed to be brave enough ask.

Everytime I ask, I open the door for rejection and even judgment. But I also open the door for limitless possibilities. My experiences in WIM taught me that it’s often worth the risk.


4.) I met friends and mentors whom I now cherish. <3

Perhaps one of the reasons why I became so much braver is the team that surrounded me. My mentors like Vince Golangco and Anj Rodriguez are REALLY busy. But they’ve consistently been patient in guiding me. This includes the technical side, the strategic side, and even the personal side–like being unable to sleep at 2am because of all the haters and the negative feedback. When faced with haters, it’s always so assuring to know that there are people behind you who believe in you and will stand up for you if they have to–but will also let you know where you went wrong and how you could improve.

There are also many events in WIM, and ALL of the meetings are fun! The members of the community have regular meet-ups, often merging both work and play. Like-minded contributors meet over foodie features, snapping each other’s outfits, or traveling out of Metro Manila.

I met new friends who I now get to work with more regularly. One of my favorite lines in the Holstee Manifesto is, “Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them.” The saying means so much more to me now that I’m part of the WIM community.


3.) It rebranded my idea of what a student should be.

My grades in school mean a lot to me. I don’t need a cliché lecture about how grades don’t define you, because I know that they don’t. Call me a conformist, but I hate being late for class and for deadlines. I hate slacking off. I just think that I have the privilege of actually being in a course that I wholeheartedly chose, and I’m being taught by brilliant professors. My parents, who I know were worried for me, still gave me the option to choose a course that I like. Not all of my high school friends were given the same freedom. (Some stereotypes about the Chinoy parents are true.) 😉 I want to maximize my college experience by being immersed in the lessons and actually enjoying them.

But even in a course I like, not having a co-curricular activity made me bored. I thought they’d distract me from my academics, but the opposite turned out to be true.

I’m about to enter my fourth year in college, and when I look back, and I notice how the semester where I had the lowest grades– the semester when I was least invested in my classes–was the same semester when I was not writing for WIM or Candy. I realized that when I had a creative outlet, a co-curricular activity I was so in love with, then I became more focused. I was more energetic and fulfilled when I was working AND studying. We could never really compartmentalize our lives, so when I was doing something I enjoyed, it affected other aspects of my life, too.

My grades were highest during the semester when I took an extra role as Senior Features Editor. Again, grades don’t really fully encompass how you are as a student, but I think it was during this sem when I enjoyed and learned from my classes the most.

Through WIM, I learned that co-curricular activities and academics go well together, as long as you choose what you love to do instead of filling up your schedule just for the sake of “doing something.”


2.) It amplified my voice.

WIM has exponentially sped up the learning process. Vince Golangco, the founder and editor-in-chief of WIM, is REALLY generous when it comes to sharing what he know to the people that he mentors. Anj is also really patient with explaining how not to be a complete idiot when using WordPress. There were countless tricks of the trade that I learned within the 30 months! And because WIM already had a big audience before I joined, some of the stories I shared reached millions of people immediately.

On one hand, this is fulfilling. It opens doors to less known stories about Chinese-Filipinos and social enterprises–two topics I think should be talked about more. Seeing millions of hits in articles I write about these topics gives me an irreplaceable kind of high I don’t get elsewhere.

But there’s also a downside to it. Eventually, I developed one of my biggest fears which I rarely share to others. My fear of spreading socially irrelevant stories paralyzed me from writing. There came a time when I questioned the relevance and the ethics behind every paragraph I wrote, and nothing was good enough. I felt so trapped and paralyzed, I almost cried after staring at the blinking cursor for what felt like forever. :))

I think the lessons I learned from that ordeal deserves an entirely new post. But if I were to summarize it, I’d say that WIM is an extremely powerful vehicle. And if there’s an advocacy or a message you feel strongly about, it’s so fulfilling everytime a worthwhile message about that advocacy reaches millions of readers instantly.


1.) It disproved one of my biggest childhood fears.

I stumbled upon an essay I wrote when I was in Grade 6. It was a reminder to my older self not to let go of my childhood dreams. It’s so easy to say that when you are THAT young (and still a bit easy to say it when I’m THIS young). But I know financial and societal pressures often push us to take another route. Reading that old essay made me realize that even as a child, I was scared of choosing a career path that would force me to let go of the things I’m passionate about.

In my favorite commencement speech, Jim Carrey said:

So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality…You could fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”

There was a time when I actually considered switching to a more “practical” career. And then WIM came along. With all the opportunities and career breakthroughs WIM gave me, I’m certain that yes, we could actually earn and carve out careers while doing something we enjoy. That truth will always keep me reassured and excited.

To learn about how to be a Contributor for WhenInManila.com, click here!

I also wrote about the things I learned from Vince Golangco here.



16 Comments on 5 Ways Joining WhenInManila.com Changed My Life

    • Rebecca Lee
      July 20, 2015 at 7:55 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks so much, Bianca! You’ll always be one of my role models. Congratulations on graduating with flying colors! <3

  1. Kristel
    July 22, 2015 at 12:31 am (2 years ago)

    I’ve landed jobs, met clients, and got to learn blogging skills through When In Manila! We really need one big get-together to meet all our team mates! 🙂

  2. Clarisse
    July 29, 2015 at 9:09 pm (2 years ago)

    This inspired me a lot. I really want to contribute to wim, i just dont really know what article to wrte and when should i start. 😭

    • Rebecca Lee
      August 3, 2015 at 11:58 am (2 years ago)

      Hi, Clarisse. 🙂 Thank you! What about your favorite restaurant or your favorite local brand? I felt the same way when I was about to apply. I was super indecisive! But I would have missed out on so much if I hadn’t applied, so please do! <3

  3. Sam
    August 5, 2015 at 8:48 am (2 years ago)

    “But there’s also a downside to it. Eventually, I developed one of my biggest fears which I rarely share to others. My fear of spreading socially irrelevant stories paralyzed me from writing. There came a time when I questioned the relevance and the ethics behind every paragraph I wrote, and nothing was good enough. I felt so trapped and paralyzed, I almost cried after staring at the blinking cursor for what felt like forever. :))”

    THIS SO MUCH. Hahahaha I’m so glad I’m not the only one!! But like you said, sometimes it all boils down to not overthinking, and you’re right– WIM IS a powerful vehicle. Used for good, it can definitely reach the right audience.

    Go go go Becky!! 🙂

    • Rebecca Lee
      August 8, 2015 at 4:52 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you, Sam! <3 Let's sit down together and plan collabs and projects for WIM! 🙂

  4. jen
    October 13, 2015 at 5:19 am (2 years ago)

    I wish I was living the life like you when I was at your age, well I know it’s not yet the end of the road for me to pursue what I really love doing.

    God bless! =)

    • Rebecca Lee
      July 2, 2016 at 12:25 am (1 year ago)

      HI, Jen! 🙂 It definitely isn’t too late. Thanks for reading this and for commenting! I hope you’re doing well and pursuing what you love doing.

  5. Maye
    June 28, 2016 at 6:23 am (1 year ago)

    I really want to contribute to wim but I don’t know where to start. I’m afraid to start. I feel like every time I’ll start writing about something, it will be a failure. But after reading this, I think I found enough courage to start doing what I love the most without reprimanding myself of possible rejections. Thank you Rebecca! Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration. 🙂

    • Rebecca Lee
      June 28, 2016 at 6:33 am (1 year ago)

      Hi, Maye! Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you enjoy the WIM experience as much as I did. 🙂

  6. Bea
    May 28, 2017 at 7:31 am (7 months ago)

    Hi! Thanks so much for this article! Inspired me to write more. And I even saw you in one of Jolly’s events. I took some notes and the apps you used for writing and designing. Thanks so much and hoping that you’ll become more successful!!

    • Rebecca Lee
      May 28, 2017 at 7:39 am (7 months ago)

      Thank you so much, Bea! 🙂 I really appreciate it. I hope the tips were able to help you. <3


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