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Darell Macatangay: A Life of Passion at Microsoft Part II

← continued from Part I

Darell says, however, that he finds the pressure from working for Microsoft fascinating. “Anything that we do will affect millions of people around the world,” he goes on. He thinks of Microsoft as a programmer’s Mecca and a place where great minds meet to brew the next generation of software.

“Even after almost seven years in Microsoft, I am still amazed to meet and work with people who have shipped the products that we know and love like Outlook, Word, Excel, MS Project and, of course, Sharepoint.”

What sort of people does he work with at the company, though? “I work with the best and the brightest in the tech industry,” he proudly says. There is also a decidedly international flavour to the company. “I get to work with people from different parts of the world with different backgrounds. Currently, I have an American, a Chinese, an Egyptian and a West African who directly report to me.”

From the mix of nationalities, Darell learns so much more than technology. “It is very nice to learn different cultures from working with these folks,” he says. Then, inevitably, Filipino pride kicks in! “I think we Filipinos are the most hardworking, though! I wish that we have more Pinoys in Microsoft. We are definitely outnumbered by Indians and Europeans here!”

So what is the work environment like at this programmer’s Mecca? “It is a pretty casual environment where people go to work in shorts and flip-flops,” Darell paints a picture of a place that hones creativity and self-expression. “I even see some guys in kilts sometimes. Whatever makes one comfortable!”

He continues, “We have a bunch of activities for employees like soccer, softball and others that take place during work hours. Yes, during work hours! We have X-box, foosball and pool tables lying around.” To think that there are actually companies which firewall off Facebook! Some people just do not have a clue.

Moreover, employees have their own work hours. At the end of the day, though, everyone is judged in terms of output. “What matters is what we deliver and that is how our performance is measured by,” Darell says. That is why, despite the informal atmosphere, he adds that at Microsoft, the environment is also very competitive.

Darell is Batangueño born and bred. He is the son of Edgardo Macatangay and the former Dativa Dimacuha. He has two sisters in Lea Angela and Lucia Francisca; and a younger brother in Edgar Patrick.

He is married to the former Maribelle Desipeda, who is from the same high school class that he was. “She was the songbird of the batch who effortlessly belted out the Regine Velasquez songs,” Darell recalls. “I had been noticing her a lot but was too shy to approach her. By some miracle, I sat next to her during a college entrance test. I asked a common friend to introduce us.”

And the rest, as a worn-out cliché goes, has been history. The two have been married for eleven years and have two sons: 9-year old Derek Matthew and 3-year old Ruiz Benigno.

The small family lives in Redmond, which is a suburb of the city of Seattle. It rains a lot, Darell admits; but mostly light drizzles on and off throughout the day. The summers, he says, are however excellent. “We average about 70° to 80°F while the rest of the country is in the scorching hundreds.” The winters are not bad, either; with on average just a week’s worth of snow scattered all throughout the season.

Although he and his wife are already American citizens, Darell says that they will always remain Filipino at heart. “I make sure that Filipino values are instilled in my kids especially these three: pag-galang sa matatandâ (respect for elders), pagsisikap (effort) and pagpapahalaga (valuing things),” he proudly says. “Here, things are easily replaced. I keep telling my boys stories about how I used to clean my toys just so I could keep them for as long as I could. I also tell them about the unfortunate kids in the Philippines who also wish that they have toys but cannot afford them.”

It has been eight years since he was last in the Philippines, so Darell says he totally misses the country. “I miss lomi and goto and pancit tikyano of Batangas (City),” he says. I miss my family and friends. Here, people are always busy at work or doing house chores. People are always on the move. That is why I miss tambay (hanging out).”

Although Darell has travelled across the United States and has also been to Hong Kong and Beijing, he remains fiercely proud of the beauty of the Philippines. “I’ve been to Boracay and Cebu; and they are heavenly!” he beams. “I make it a point to highlight this to my co-workers at Microsoft.”

He gets frustrated because the media always seem to highlight nothing but the bad things about the Philippines. “We are always depicted as a poor, underdeveloped country; and worse, as one in turmoil.”

Perhaps, at a latter time when work is not as demanding of his time as it is now, Darell will travel a lot more. “I have always wanted to visit Germany because of its engineering and Japan for its technology,” he confesses. But there are other things on the bucket list as well: open his own business; see the Seven Wonders of the World; run a marathon; scuba dive; sky dive; and one day own a big bike.

For the moment, aside from coding, photography remains a hobby and a passion. “I’ve been interested in the art since I was in high school,” he says. “Believe it or not, I still have my fully manual film SLR camera! Presently, I am a member of Photographers@Microsoft, a virtual group where members share their passion for photography. I am proud to say that one of my photos was chosen from literally thousands of entries for the 2012 Annual Photobook that will be out this September.”

Still on the right side of middle age, Darell feels that he still has so much to achieve both personally and professionally. He thinks of himself as a goal-oriented person who has given 110% of himself in every task that he has ever taken on. He says that he is having the time of his life at Microsoft, with which he hopes to stay for a long time. “Good pay, good people, good career-path,” he sums everything up.

One goal, however, remains firm in his mind. “To go back to the Philippines and savour the joys of living very close to my immediate family so my kids can see their lolo and lola, aunts and uncles more often. This is one of the downsides of living here in the States. Yes, it is financially and professionally rewarding; but at the expense of being on the other side of the world.”

Family, after all, is what gives Darell ultimate joy. “I can spend the whole day with the family just goofing around them. Even as simple as hanging out, playing video games or watching a movie over popcorn is so satisfying knowing that these memories will be with them (his two boys) for a lifetime. I always tell my wife that what matters most are the experiences and the memories that the kids have because these can endure time, not the material stuff.”

Darell’s life, thus, has been all about passion: passion for a wife he loves and boys he adores; passion for a company that he finds great joy and pride to work for; and even for the art of photography which he continues to sustain as a hobby despite the hectic world of work in a top corporation.

“I am a firm believer that Passion is the fuel for success. It sparks hard work, focus and sweat. I believe that the most successful people who ever lived would not have achieved so much unless they were passionate about their craft. Once you follow your passion, you can never go wrong.”

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