There, I said it.

Dear readers, are you sick of clicking on this URL, only to be welcomed with another ad-like post on the blog? You're not alone darling; I am fed up with myself as well. In Singlish terms, "I see my blog see until I also du lan." The point of this site is to stand out, not to look like the gazillions of generic blogs out there on the internet.

Question: Is this blog still worthy to uphold the many award-winning titles from the past?
Honestly, even I don't know anymore. Someone give me back my spark!

My Professional Writing lecturer explained in class today - blogs, to him, are an oxymoron. Why? Because blogs are personal diaries meant to be kept in the darkest of corners, never to be seen by the eyes of another. But look what it morphed into. An attention-grabbing space disguised as a private one on the surface.

A client of mine did a random poll with individuals who had no idea I existed, seeking for their first impressions of iisjong.com. More than half of them commented that Jong, you need more personal content! I loved your own touch but there were so few of them sandwiched in between ads after ads... Ain't nobody got any attention span for that!


The results weren't surprising; I was prepared for it since I was fully aware that I am not in my best form right now. The thing is, I am extremely overwhelmed with new things going on in my private life that I barely have any time to blog properly anymore. I have many ideas I would love to share on this space, but where can I find the time to curate them all? When I actually do blog, it's usually because I'm rushing out the post to meet a client's dateline. Behind this account lie many already long outdated pictures, only missing the words, on cue to post.

I've cut down a lot on exclusive invitations already, even the regular ones and the ones that pay well. But as much as I can't stand my blog being terrorised by the name of others, I have to apologise because I can't not have ads. Here's my side of the story:

1) It is good money.

I'm not going to mention numbers here, but I can easily earn more than what I'm making after a month of part-time work with social media postings alone.

Extra cash in the pockets for something I enjoy doing, would you say no?

2) PR.

As a communications student, contacts in this field are very valuable to me when I look for a job in the future. Since I've pretty much decided that I want to slog my life working in the PR industry, I must of course show my good side to the people in PR agencies who create the opportunities for me. Who knows whether one of them will be my future supervisor right? And if I constantly reject them, what will they think of me? Why will they still want to keep me in the loop?

In order to build a relationship, would you say no?

3) The glitzy front.

I constantly have bloggers asking me: "Do you have the email to do this ad?" Non-bloggers will drool in envy whenever bloggers have freebies; sometimes we're even getting paid for it. Admit it, people WILL assume that you are not cool or famous enough if you don't show them that there are people interested to front you for their brand, which is not always the case. Blogs, in my opinion, have sadly evolved into an item of showoff. As much as I want out, this blog is my portfolio for point 2.

So to look good in front of people, would you say no?

I can go on, but this post is looking lengthy. I don't know how many eyeballs are still surviving at this point. All in all, I will control the flow definitely, but you won't see an ad-less page anytime soon. This is life - you can't stand it but you'll still have to clench your teeth and move on. What to do?

You know iisjong.com, but don't think that you know the whole story. All the opinions above are my own. These are thoughts at 5am on insomnia Thursday (technically it's already Friday, but it's not the next day until I sleep and wake up) (actually I have insomnia everyday). It's a food for thought for readers to better understand the mechanics going on behind; you don't have to take me too seriously.
I won a short trip to Seoul that was sponsored by Samsung in December 2012. The rest of the pictures that I took were in the Samsung Galaxy camera that the Samsung people instructed me to use during my time there, but I never got to see the pictures again after I got back.

I visited the Namsangol Hanok Village during the free day I had there. It was the only place I took pictures of with my lousy mobile phone camera. Wanted to share my experience with y'all in case any of you are thinking of making a trip down.

Is it worth the visit?

If you want to immerse yourself in the traditional Korean culture by learning more, then yes. I thoroughly enjoyed observing the the magnificent colours and architectures. Best part? Entry is F-R-E-E! If you're not into things of the past, then you might want to give this a miss as it will bore you out for sure. The place is rather huge therefore lots of walking will be required.

Also known as "A Village of Traditional Houses in the Namsan Valley", this hanok village is a collection of 5 different hanoks (traditional Korean houses) from the Joseon dynasty. Each hanok was rebuilt to represent various social classes, ranking from the peasants to the high government officials to the king.

Other than appreciating the beauty of the houses, I enjoyed playing the traditional games! There were also lots of souvenirs to buy back home. Activities are an array on the weekends, mark that down on your trip itinerary if you were to visit.

If you need more information about the village, visit this useful guide that I referred to: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264116

Read about my trip to South Korea here: http://www.iisjong.com/search/label/south%20korea





Meet my out-of-this-world hair colour. I loved the vibrant pop of colours so much, I even went on to touch up the month after so that I could have them stay on my hair a little longer.

I've had people calling me anime, k-pop star, unreal, peacock, parrot.... Oh, you know what I mean. Hahaha!

Actually I wanted to go full green this time, but was afraid that I would end up looking like a seaweed. Ryo, my hairstylist, also didn't quite recommend it. Instead, he mixed green with blue!

But more of the blue.

Of course I still have my fears and all, but luckily for me the turquoise outcome left many beaming in jealously.

With turquoise as the main colour, Ryo experimented with colours by adding on purple and pink colours hidden underneath. Thankfully, everything looked almost too gorgeous together and thus, another piece of art form was created.

I remember someone pointing at me and telling his friends: "Wah, swag" later that day.

Yeah, it is the swaggest indeed! ;)

Follow Ryo on Instagram here: http://instagram.com/ryocleo

View all my posts on CLEO Hair and Make here:

CLEO Hair & Make ♥
6 Eu Tong Sen Street, The Central Mall
#04-89A/92
Singapore 059817
Tel: 6338 5250
So, I was one of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to attend a Learning Journey with NTUC recently! I want to share a compelling and inspiring story I'd heard with you guys.


I met Jamil (24), a Security Officer turned Supervisor, on the NTUC Learning Journey. His stories totally captivated me as he shared his experiences. Jamil had joined the industry as a security officer back in 2011, and he has since been promoted to a Supervisor. He manages a team of three security officers in the day and another three in the night at a condominium. He is also an NTUC union member.

What was shocking about his story was his very close brush with death during a road accident. Half his skull cracked and he was super-lucky to be alive. His injury was so serious that he was bedridden and could not work for six months!

It was a tough struggle dealing with the long list of hospital bills. On top of that, he has to raise his 6 children with a pay that's not spectacular. During the months of his absence because of his inability to work, his company kept his position and supported him wherever practicable. The union, too, helped Jamil and his family with their household expenses through vouchers.

Life's by no means easy on him, but his optimism and perseverance not to give in to the lemons that life has dealt him with are what led him to the Supervisor role he is today. He is looking forward to learning and earning more so as to better improve himself for the sake of his family. It is nice to see him eager to work hard for his future!

As a Singaporean, what about this country are you the most proud of?


Many of you may relate to the food, the diversity of races, maybe even the expanding economic growth. As for myself, I am thankful that Singapore is a safe haven! It is a blessing to live and grow in this country known for being one of the safest in the world. I can leave my phone on the table in public with no worries, walk along the streets at night yet still be fine.

One group of people I have to credit and thank for safety in Singapore are the security officers.


A security officer's job is to protect, but many times they play a whole lot of other roles (customer service, counsellors, GPS... Yup I am guilty for having been a part in their unofficial jobs).

There are an estimated 33,000 active security officers in Singapore, yet it has been difficult to recruit and retain people in this profession due to how the public perceives the security officer's job as a lowly appreciated AND lowly paid one. This is despite the fact that some 70,000 have actually been trained to become security officers. Today, the industry is grappling with a 25% shortage, which translates into some 10,000 positions. This number is expected to grow too.

That doesn't seem shocking actually, considering the challenges security officers face never seem to cease.



THE PROBLEMS

1) Public Perception
Admit it – security officers are considered to be one of the bottom-tiered jobs in Singapore. In today's advanced society, who is willing to take up this job which is perceived to be low-paid and low-skilled? Security officers are often seen as slackers because people automatically assume that they don't do much.

2) Low Pay
The median basic pay of a security officer is reported to be between $700-$800, say whaaaaaat!? Even after working 12 hours a day and 6 days a week, the median gross is only $1,550. And unlike many of you who constantly complain about how little year-end bonus you're getting, they have none of that.

3) Cheap Outsourcing
Out-sourcing involves many companies fighting for that 1 contract from the client. Many security officers work for the security companies. So when the company fights for contracts from clients, they have the tendency to lower their quotes in order to be awarded the security service contract. In turn, wages are being pushed down altogether. In a way, out-sourcing has become synonymous with cheap-sourcing. How do you expect the security officers' salaries to go up if every year, their companies just continue to bid for contracts at the same price or even lower?

4) Shortage of Manpower
As mentioned previously, the supply does not meet the demand in this industry. And this shortage in numbers will only keep growing. It is a vicious cycle, you know. Since there's a severe shortage and new people are not entering the industry, the existing pool of security officers will have to work longer and longer hours to meet the demand, but with very little adjustment to their base pay due to the practice of cheap-sourcing. With the super-long hours and low basic pay, all the more people don't want to join the industry.

5) Looooong Working Hours
According to the Singapore Yearbook of Manpower Statistics, 2014, the security and investigation industry is currently placed at the highest level of average weekly OT hours worked per employee across all industries! Security officers are usually required to clock in 12 hours a day, 6 times a week. That means that they can easily work for 95 hours of OT per month, when the limit is 72 hours monthly under the Employment Act. Seriously overworked and underpaid. Just imagine... these poor security officers are awake for 14 hours in a day. One hour in the morning to get ready for work, put in 12 hours of work, and then one hour to get home and sleep. Repeat this six days in a week. I don't know about you, but it sounds mighty scary to me!

The next time you complain about not having enough time and money, think again. With prices on the rise - just not the money in the bank - who would be willing to plunge into this pool of uncertainty?


Mooted by NTUC, the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is a way to help lower income workers be better appreciated. I have special interests in this topic because of friends whose parents belong to that group of workers.

The PWM came into full effect for the cleaning sector in September 2014, and it was very much welcomed by the workers in the cleaning sector. NTUC has also lobbied for the PWM to be implemented for the security sector, yet another industry that has long suffered from the ill effects of cheap-sourcing like the cleaning sector, and where the workers' wages have been suppressed for years.




WHAT IS PROGRESSIVE WAGE MODEL (PWM)?


Check out the diagram above to have a rough idea what the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the security sector is about.

Still confused? Well, here are some FAQs on the five-level Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the security sector which will be fully in place from 2016.

Q: Is the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) like minimum wage?
A: Nooooo...! Although there will be a base salary of $1,100, which works out to at least $300 per month for the security officers, this is NOT the minimum wage model.

With minimum wage, the same security officer may still be earning $1,100 for the next five years. But with Progressive Wage Model (PWM), as they upgrade their job skills and improve productivity, they move up the salary scale.

NTUC's Progressive Wage Model (PWM) goes beyond minimum wage because the security officers will be placed on a career ladder which offers them training to upgrade their skills. With better skills, they can progress to the next level and earn more.

Q: What makes up the Progressive Wage Model (PWM)?
A: There are four key components and NTUC refers to them as 'ladders'. These are: (1) Salary progression, (2) Skills upgrading, (3) Career advancement, and (4) Productivity improvements.

Q: So, what is the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) to the security officers?
A: It's a wage model that benefits these lower-income security officers and help them progress throughout their working lives.

What!?!? Still confused? Haha, then just watch this video!




Even though the changes brought about by the implementation of the Progressive Wage Model for the security sector may not be something huge or even notable to us, it is extremely important to the people working in the security sector. Hopefully through the help of the labour movement and also through us, the people, these unsung heroes will be better appreciated by the society because we know we can't do without them working hard for us in the shadows.
Ricciotti at The Riverwalk celebrated it's 10th anniversary with a spanking new epicurean concept and a specially curated menu! Along the way, they have expanded and opened its second restaurant at China Square Central. Serving authentic Italian cuisine, Ricciotti is the place to head to when you're looking for quality Italian gourmet food and pastries in Singapore at affordable prices.

Ricciotti Riverwalk also debuted their charity initiative, Food For Good - another reason to celebrate! They will partner Crozzborderz, an innovative IT-based platform that promotes several charity projects for different NGOs, in this venture to help the less fortunate.

If you dine at Ricciotti, you will notice on your receipt that a percentage of your bill will be donated to a group of charity organizations.

Without further ado, here's what you can expect from the new menu that's specially curated by their Executive Chef, Gero Dimaria!

For appetizers, we started off with the Carpaccio Di Polpo. Made of sliced octopus, lemon and fennel, this is perfect to kickstart your appetite for more! Next was the Asparagi Alla Griglia, consisting of grilled asparagus and parma ham. We also had the Nizzarda Salad that's made of mesclun, fresh tuna loin, quail eggs, green beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, anchovies topped with sherry dressing. The taste was fresh and I found myself reaching out for more.

My favourite out of the lot was the Polenta Herb Fries. It's fried polenta mixed with herbs and truffle mushroom sauce. You can eat it with or without the sauce, it's fine! I am a fan of truffles, thus it explains my love. But I think what stole the show was the Panzerotti. It looks like curry puff on the outside, but in reality it's actually pizza dough stuffed with chef's creation! This took me by surprise, and it's so cheesy I love it!

For pasta, we had the Gnocchi Al Gorgonzola. It didn't look appealing to me on the first sight, but this dish made of spinach gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese bombed my taste buds. I don't even like spinach, but the taste of cheese overpowers it at first bite! Then, we had the Risotto Al Frutti Di Mare, which is arborio rice with seafood. The rissotto was in the perfect form of stickiness and the sauce complemented well with the elements around. The seafood was plump and fresh, just the way I love it!

We also had the Linguine Al Granchio, made of crab meat, chilli and tomato cream.

On to the main courses was Cod Fillet. It's basically cod fillet topped with thyme, sundried tomatoes and sauteed spinach. Everyone constantly reached out for the Grilled Pork Ribs, made of pork ribs, mixed salad and potatoes.

But the crowd favourite was the Chicken Skewers. This colourful dish consists of chicken, mild spice, herbs, vegetables with chickpea dip and served with pizza bread. The chicken was tender and well grilled, and talk about convenience on a stick!

What is Italian food without pizza, right? Spot on - we were served the Porcini E Scamorza Pizza. There's porcini mushrooms and cow's milk cheese!

Another favourite dish of mine - the Al Tartufo Pizza. With black truffles, quail eggs and mushrooms, it's not difficult to guess why?

What's a meal without desserts! We were salivating over the Soffiatto - Italian style dark chocolate molten cake with stracciatella gelato. Yes, the chocolate flows out! Perfect warm and cold dessert after a long day.

We couldn't get enough of pizzas so we were treated to the Canella Sweet Pizza. This is foodporn made of cinnamon sugar with mascarpone and raisins. It hit the right notes although it can be a bit sweet.

The must-have Italian dessert, Tiramisu. Made of classic Italian recipe with mascarpone cream, espresso and lady finger, every sinful bite will leave you wanting more.

To end the wonderful meal, we topped it off with the Carrot Cake. I think it's difficult to please all when it comes to carrot cake, but this one's bite-sized and moist, made with cinnamon and walnuts, topped with frosting. It's perfect for the ladies who just want a small piece!

At Ricciotti, they believe in coming together over food, art and music. You will find world-renowned Italian artist Kezia Terracciano's works around the restaurant. I had the privilege to have met him that day! Do look out for the many art installations that Ricciotti has scheduled to exhibit at the restaurant.

Ricciotti Riverwalk
20 Upper Circular Road
#B1-49/50, The Riverwalk
Singapore 058416
Tel: (65) 6533 9060
Opens daily: 10am to 11pm
It's been 3 months since I've incorporated SingTel's latest mobile plan called the Easy Mobile into my life. I clearly remember the first time I got hold of it for a review, I never imagined myself to like this plan so much! It was more so since I wasn't a SingTel user at that point of time, just wanted to give it a shot for comparison purposes to see if it was worth it.

SingTel has also announced the winners who submitted their creative and innovative tweaks on the Tweakboard! Thanks for taking part. You can check out whether you're a winner here:
http://info.singtel.com/personal/easymobile/tweakboard

Now that I am in control of what I feel suits my lifestyle best, gone are the days I get screamed at for bursting my Talktime and Mobile Data yet again month after month! My current plan saw me paying the many SMSes that I don't use much anymore.... With the Easy Mobile plan, I am paying and giving the attention to the areas I'm more concerned about. And everything is done solely online!


I cannot stress enough how the My SingTel app proved to be a life saver as it helped me in being more aware of my usage on the phone. I found myself clicking on the app every other day! It is super convenient, one click and I gain the access to everything on my mobile plan.

I have to admit to being pretty upset that I'll have to return the phone (with the mobile plan) I borrowed from SingTel in a few days time... It was fun while it lasted!

If you haven't been catching up, here are the previous posts on my experience with the Easy Mobile Plan:

For more information, visit: