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I had my first international trip when I was in college way back in the year 2012, and the first country that I have visited was Hong Kong. My love for travel grew ever since and my heart always pounds with excitement whenever I’m headed to the airport – even if I really don’t have flights that day or my sole purpose was just to fetch my relatives who came from either a domestic or international destination.

I turned a new leaf after graduation. At first, It felt like I was in the middle of crossroads. I’m pretty sure I am not the only person who felt that way. I know I have big dreams but I really don’t know what to do next. But fortunately, due to the investment of time and effort I did while I was a student, where I became a Microsoft Student Partner for three long years, a big opportunity came.

The Microsoft Student Partners (MSP) is a worldwide recognizable program by Microsoft Corporation that aims to sponsor students majoring in disciplines related to technology. I became a Microsoft Student Partner in the year 2012 brought about by my passion in blogging about tech. As an MSP, I was then the Microsoft’s ambassador for my alma mater, Treston International College.

My life as an MSP went from commuting and braving the urban Manila traffic from our humble home in Imus, Cavite to my college in Taguig at approximately 6 hours a day (that’s about 3 hours per way throughout completing my five years in college) while maintaining my scholarship to help my family and doing extra-curricular activities for my alma mater, which I thought would help me grow as an individual.

Commuting Days: Ayala MRT Station

Commuting Days: Ayala MRT Station

Whenever I am free on weekends or after school, I represent Microsoft Philippines in different colleges and universities in the country to deliver and ignite discussions on the latest Microsoft technologies. This voluntary work has improved my skills in public speaking and socializing with different people.

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Braving the Urban Jungle: Makati City, Philippines

The program was also my way to achieve my dreams of visiting different places not only in the Philippines but in different parts of the world. How can I not forget the time when I was chosen to represent the Philippines in the Microsoft Student Partners Global Summit during the year 2014 at the headquarters of Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington due to the dedication that I have given for the past years as a Microsoft Student Partner. It was surely an important highlight of my life.

Furthermore, that year also, I was given the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award even though I was still a student (I was the second student in history to achieve Microsoft Student Partners – Most Valuable Professional Status in the Philippines) due to the technical contributions in the community. The year 2014 is such a year full of surreal moments and personal milestones for me.

Overall, the years that I have invested with Microsoft as a student was a byproduct of my dreams to be part of a world’s renowned tech giant and a little bit of uncertainty as a student. All I know back then was that I’m afraid to graduate after taking a five-year bachelors degree and eventually become unemployed.

But with the guidance that I have received over the years from my family, peers and the Almighty God, I was blessed that I did not wait too long for work after graduation since a role at Microsoft Philippines was opened up for me under the Consumer Channels Group of the subsidiary weeks before I graduated.

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Lovely View from Microsoft Philippines Office in 6750 Ayala Avenue

Well at first I never thought I’d have the opportunity to travel again when I start working, but I was wrong. My first and current role at Microsoft Philippines is entitled Partner Technology Advisor / Microsoft Tech Evangelist where my duties involved working with the local partners of Microsoft Philippines primarily on the operational side, train their respective teams and keep them up to date about the products of Microsoft. It’s exciting to be finally involved in real business operations with my dream company.

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The Heart of the Business District of Makati

I didn’t realize that the scope of my work involved working directly with partners not only in NCR but also in Visayas and Mindanao with a little surprise of International business trips. Hence, made me a frequent traveler through the countless business trips I’ve had ever since.

Now that another year is about to end, join me as I look back to my top memorable business trips, retrospect and determine what else could I have done to make my experience with partners more worthwhile and seamless as it used to be.

Partner Engagements: How It Went

Device Demo for Partners

Doing a Device Demo for Partners at the Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City

I bring a lot of stuff with me, most especially when I have presentations to partners. My life is so wire-y that when you invade the bag that I brought during my previous talk in Bonifacio Global City (pictured above), you’ll discover clutter of laptop chargers with devices in it. This has been my routine ever since even though I am travelling out of town, may it be a business trip to Cebu or Zamboanga.

Business Trips from Manila to Cebu to Zamboanga

Business Trips from Manila to Cebu to Zamboanga

Whenever I have presentations to attend to, I just use a big waterproof backpack that’s good enough to place everything in (with my clothes at times during out of town business trips for a couple of days), but I find it not ideal for business related events due to the design and the lack of compartments on the inside. Sometimes a colleague even joked about my business trip since my backpack looked like I am going for an island hopping. Funny but true.

 Partner Engagements: How It Should Be

Waiting for Flight: Zamboanga International Airport

Waiting for Flight at Zamboanga International Airport

Having a lot of things to bring with you could be most of the time hassle for your part. If your bag doesn’t have compartments on the outside, you will find it hard to get something important in just a snap. This happens all the time with me when I use that big scuba-like bag during my  business trips. At the airport, I find it really hard to get things scanned by the entrance or pre-boarding gates.

There’s this incident once at the Ninoy International Airport 3, I brought a condenser mic with me and they thought it’s something else. So I had to get it all the way from the bottom part of the bag and I didn’t realize I have to pull everything out. To avoid this hassle, I think I need to consider looking for different options. Here’s what I could get from Urbanize.

Urbanize Business Series II

Urbanize Business Series II

This is the Urbanize Business Series II. I fell in love when I saw this for the first time. This bag is a perfect replacement for the one that I currently use due to its design that looks neat and professional (It is water-repellent too). Its size is ideal for my business trips may it be within Metro Manila or out of town for a couple of days.

This bag features a lot of compartments on the inside that I can neatly store packed things along with me and utilize the outside pockets to get something in a snap, say my travel itinerary or coins while commuting. It also has laptop and tablet compartment which would let me store devices accordingly and get it without pulling anything else. Above all, this travel companion fits perfectly in the airplane’s overhead cabin that I can just simply go out of the airport after deplaning and reach the location of my next business meeting instantly.

 International Business Trips: How It Went

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Touchdown, Taipei!

This year, I had the chance to do business trips not only within the Philippines, but also in different parts of Asia. The first one was in Vietnam (last April), and the other one was in Taipei (last September) for about a week. During those trips, I’ve been consistent in bringing One backpack for important stuff and a big luggage for clothes.

Team Philippines checking in! #GoForGreatness16

A video posted by Gab Villanueva (@gabbvillanueva) on



But the problem with my backpack is that yes, it may be used for roaming around however it looks odd due to its size. Speaking of mobility while catching flights, I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced going to a café before going to the boarding area not only because you want to grab a coffee, but you want to charge your devices so that you’ll get enough battery life ’til you reach your final destination. But the problem is that cafés at airports are too crowded and power outlets at these cafés are limited.  To be honest, I’ve been a slave of my smartphone’s battery since I had to do this most of the time before boarding.

International Business Trips: How It Should Be

Lost in Taipei

Lost in Taipei

Investing in a great backpack will surely make your trips even more convenient and secure (convenience and security isn’t only found on Windows 10 nowadays, lol). It’s good to know that Urbanize offer a wide variety of products other than its own. Another bag that caught my attention was the Pacsafe Slingsafe LX300, which I classify as not your average backpack.

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Pacsafe Slingsafe LX300 Anti-Theft Backpack

Why did I say so? well Pacsafe is a brand known for creating theft safe bags. This model in particular has 6 security features to suit a busy urban lifestyle. The straps, lock security hooks, and smart zipper security helps protect against bag snatchers and pickpockets while an RFIDsafe pocket helps deter attempts at identity theft, which means the identity of my passport and credit cards won’t be replicated with this technology when I place them in these pockets.

Pacsafe Slingsafe LX300 Anti-Theft Backpack in Gray

Pacsafe Slingsafe LX300 Anti-Theft Backpack in Gray

Bag slashers often like to target outside fabric panels of bags (front, bottom or side), which cause valuables to fall out and into the palm of their hands. This bag however, has lightweight slashguards built into (and concealed in) the most commonly vulnerable areas of the bag, protecting your gear from a quick slash-and-run theft.

I can now imagine how my future business trips would be like when I explore places while carrying my things in this one. The Pacsafe Slingsafe LX300 doesn’t compromise style and is available in three versatile colours, Red, Gray and Black.

Ideal long flights isn’t only about having a bag that will let you carry anywhere safely. Nowadays, it’s all about being mobile and being always connected. With the right power bank brand, you will no longer have to look for power outlets since one of America’s leading brand Anker, known for their trusted power banks and other accessories are now being carried and sold in Urbanize stores.

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Anker PowerCore 13000 with Quick Charge

I’ve had power banks (some are generic) in the past that says its 13,000 mAh that promises it can be used to charge four smartphones but in reality, it isn’t. After purchasing an Anker Powerbank, I’ve never been this happy while on the go.

Anker PowerCore 13000 with Quick Charge Capability

It truly lives up to its name, the Anker PowerCore 13000 with Quick Charge charges compatible devices 80% faster than the conventional chargers. What’s good with this one is that it’s only as small as a credit card and can get me four complete charges of my iPhone 6S without any fail.

Moving Towards the Year 2017

I feel so blessed to be able to visit and explore the beauty of the Philippines and other places in Asia this year. Even though we’re busy most of the time at work, I have realized that it’s not enough to just work, that it is also important to have a work – life balance in all that you do. I may have been deployed to different places this year but I also make it to the point that after doing business engagements as part of work, I relax by means of exploring the cities I’m currently at.

As we move towards the year 2017, the I experiences I’ve had in 2016 will surely be used for an even better version of myself in braving everyday urban life challenges and of course wiser future travels, may it be business related or leisure. It’s good to see that with Urbanize, you can get companions that’s worth every cent you pay to bring with you anywhere and utilize for safer, more productive and more convenient travel experiences.

Urbanize is located in the following locations:

  • Gateway Mall, 3/F Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City (02) 911-0721
  • Shangri-la Plaza, 5/F East Wing, Edsa corner Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City (02) 470-3559
  • U.P. Town Center, 2/F Ph1B , Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Diliman Quezon City (02) 720-9791
  • Solenad Nuvali, Ground Floor GFR-10  Building D, Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna,(049) 258-0827
  • Glorietta 3, 2/F, Ayala Center, Ayala Avenue cor. Pasay Road, Makati Avenue and EDSA, Makati City
  • Uptown Mall BGC, 3/F Uptown Place Mall, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (02) 802-9988
  • Alabang Town Center, 2nd Level New Wing Alabang Town Center Zapote, Alabang (02) 807-1772
  • Serin, 1F-46 , Aguinaldo Highway, Brgy. Maharlika East, Tagaytay City, Cavite (046) 554-0306
  • The District Imus, Ground Floor Unit 149, Aguinaldo Highway cor. Daang Hari Road, Brgy. Anabu 2 – D, Cavite, (046) 543-5530
  • Kiss & Fly, Departure Level, NAIA Terminal 3, Pasay

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