December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

and a Happy New Year to all!

A month before Christmas, I again spent days after agonizing days of designing the official postcard for the organization I work with.

It's not that I am running out of ideas, but creativity was so hard to come by when you're swamped with a hundred other things to worry about.

This year's SWS postcard underwent the most toxic process of revisions I've ever had since I volunteered to do this annual tradition, and all those effort doesn't even show in the final product.

But the whole process reminded me of the things to be thankful for, and ultimately the postcard carried the question that sums up all we've been wanting to say (or rather, ask):

What is the best Christmas gift you have ever received?

Here's what our kababayans answered.

Mine's the gift of life and love.

And just recently... forgiveness.

The year 2008 has been one that makes us appreciate every little blessing that comes our way. Every single lull in between problems, every little good thing -- is a gift that makes up the many best gifts this year.

What's yours?

Wishing everyone a safe, happy, and healthy year ahead.

December 17, 2008

Left wide open

For some time now, I've been contemplating about incorporating a forum to the website of the organization I work for. But each time I'm at the brink of giving it a go, I remember the words I've read from a moderator in one of the forums I subscribe to:

"However well you moderate a forum, this is a tool that leaves you wide open."

I don't think I'm ready.

***

We've all heard it before: sharing means opening up. This is nothing different from the daily interactions we have with everyone.

A coping mechanism, a need-to-know information, or simply to let others understand one better -- whatever the purpose for doing so, if done without malice, sharing is intended for something beneficial.

Of course, whatever happens after the information has been shared is something outside of everyone's control. How easily can one turn an information into a weapon, intentional or otherwise?

...

...

So, shoe throwing is the highest form of contempt in the Arab world.

Let's see... A "shoe" was thrown at me today. It represents everything that I despise, something very few knew of.

Though intended as a jest, the throw was direct and precise.

Unfortunately, unlike Bush, I wasn't able to duck.

I was wide open.

Bull's eye.

So funny... The irony of it all. ^ ^

First time for everything, I guess.

December 05, 2008

Love the drama

I've been wearing smart casuals/semi formal for three straight days now. This is unusual considering our workplace requires us to be in smart casuals only twice a week.

My extra day of looking a bit less of an NGO staffer this week was because of an interview appointment for a TV network that got re-scheduled.

This morning it finally pushed through.

When I entered the studio where the interview was going to be conducted, I was like "Whoa!" O_o

I won't tell exactly what the theme is just yet. The producer immediately explained the reason for the studio setup, how the interview will proceed, and what the overall tone will be.

"We have to make it more interesting for the people."

I agree. I do hope a little drama would make surveys and numbers a little more palatable to the viewing public.

We'll find out sometime before New Year.

Cheers!

December 04, 2008

Emotion

If one of the keys to effective fighting is unpredictability, then Metro Manila motorists make good fighters had driving been a form of sparring.

First, they never let their intentions known. Making the move is the primary concern. Announcing this move by signal would be purely optional.

Sure, make that turn. Signal only when you've come millimeters away from leaving a dent in someone else's fender.

Another thing that makes Metro drivers effective sparring partners: they show no emotion.

Show it, you lose.

***

Controlling emotion.

I used to believe I learned much of this precious skill at the workplace.

Over a decade of meeting different people in different circumstances lead me to believe that somehow I would have earned myself a decent amount of skill over this domain.

But no.

Life still has been blessing me with people who show me how little I know, and how much more I have to learn, about controlling emotion.

The mask that I so proudly wield seem so puny compared to the kind of walls these extraordinary people could deploy.

I have to sit for an entire hour staring at nothing to take it all these lessons in, and even that won't be enough to realize how far I still have to go.

A day at a time. Just take careful note of every word and every act, and from them build that wall.

Because the mask can only conceal, but not protect.

Oh, so emo. ^^

December 02, 2008

The disease lives on

If I remember correctly, my first taste of the disease was Live AIDS 9, when Adrian invited me to watch this annual musical-comedy series by UP SAMASKOM.

I got hooked. Watching Live AIDS has then become a staple annual activity that Joan and I look forward to, even if we've been missing it a lot in the recent years.

Thanks to a colleague and former housemate, Ai, and her sis Aims, we were able to watch Live AIDS Silver: The UP Centennial Edition last Sunday at the UP Theater.

Except for the schedule (which is typically slotted somewhere 1st-2nd quarter of the year) and the bigger stage (they brought in an Ikot jeep onstage), nothing has changed -- the production still bursts with that energy, sound, and color that are distinctively SAMASKOM.

And since it's the University's centennial celebration, the theme mostly revolved around the good and bad of being an Isko and being in UP.

Anyway, I just wonder what the 5-year old kid, seated near the front row, thought when he saw the re-enactment of the Oblation Run. Haha!

I was left wishing for more biting lines on the government and other contemporary issues, but nonetheless the whole production refreshed that old UP pride in me.

Congrats, SAMASKOM, for another darn good show!

November 29, 2008

Burden

The funny thing about growing up the youngest and the most sickly offspring is that, after having been subjected to so much care and attention from so many people, there'll be a time when you promise to never ever be a burden to anyone anymore.

There may be those who find this kind of attention addicting, but not me.

I made that promise when I was in high school, after surviving the most fatal illness I incurred so far. It started with something very simple, "I promise to keep myself healthy," but it worked: I became less of a burden to anyone.

Age complicates a lot of things, and keeping this promise has involved more than just not having anyone give you a sponge bath.

Though many times I have faltered, the promise still and will always stand.

I just want to try to always leave something better behind, for anyone.

***

My officemates made the decision a lot easier. Judging by the frustrated looks in their faces after watching Twilight, I knew I have to watch the movie first before reading the books.

I’m more into increasing margin of satisfaction.

***

After completing this year's business survey, I was eager to see for myself just how bad corruption is for two of the relatively more problematic government agencies: the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

My experience in getting a vehicle clearance from the Traffic Management Group (TMG) was just an indication why the public gave poor sincerity ratings to PNP.

Two out of the three fees that you will be asked to pay will not have an official receipt. One of those two you have to give because the macro-etching staff will insist that they are not getting paid by PNP at all, while the other is an optional fee to cut transaction process from three days to two hours.

And this office is a mini-blackhole – if you pay something, make sure that it’s in the exact amount, or you’ll never see your “sukli” finding their way back to you.

Dealing with LTO, on the other hand, was a refreshing surprise, thanks to their little office where I had the transfer of ownership for our old AUV processed.

The LTO Camp Aguinaldo Extension office, in my opinion, is a beautiful work in progress towards cultivating a culture of counter-corruption in government. There was not a single shady character going the compound around asking people what they want or what they need to do – they talk only when you ask them.

In every bulletin board, you’d find posters saying, “We do not tolerate fixers”. Very re-assuring. It intrigues me, however, why the Inspectors stationed at the office entrance have to put on dark sunglasses every time they evaluate your documents.

I have no complains about corruption in this little office.

But I do hate how the relatively older staffs would whip out their mobile phones and take their sweet time composing SMS while the queue gets longer.

November 19, 2008

First night

Tonight is the first night after so many that I would be ending my day in a, more or less, normal way.

By normal I mean any or all of the following: fetch my wife after work and go home together, have dinner together, watch the evening news, workout a bit, catch up on reading, go online and greet some people, blog a little, log-on to my favorite online game and say hi to in-game friends, and/or sleep on a real bed.

I've done most of the abovementioned, so far.

After this blog, I'll log-on to Perfect World and greet my clanmates, who are probably the happiest people in this side of the virtual world right now after winning our very first Territorial War.

Congratulations, Sanctius!

To the forty-three brave souls who were online last Sunday evening to make this dream come true, I salute you all!

The stories they shared about their victory made me envious that I wasn't with them at the battlefront. That Sunday evening was their first night in a place we can really call our own.

So where was I last Sunday evening?

Like in many nights before tonight, I was working late. In some nights, I was sleeping next to the laptop, dreaming about the numbers that need to be put into words. There were nights when I end and start the day wearing the same clothes, either in front of the computer or on a portable mattress laid on the office floor.

Anyone who've worked for a self-sustained NGO with a certain advocacy would know that a big paycheck is the last thing you'll get from all this hard work. You do this for something else entirely.

Fatigue does wonders to the mind. I had a dream during an overtime work at the office. It tells of a rabbit running careless and free in the jungle, with the cold night wind caressing its feet. Morning breaks and the jungle returns to the way it is -- a jungle.

Dreams can be such great reminders of reality.

Caffeine is still running thick through my veins. It's unlikely that sleep will come soon.

But no worries.

A real bed is just waiting beside me.

October 31, 2008

The shoe box

It started with a plastic syringe, still sealed in its sterile packaging.

I remember buying it from Mercury Philcoa in the middle of the night for something it was not meant for. I bought it so I could feed a kitten found near Sunrise Cottage.

But I never got to use it. The kitten died the next morning.

Next to the syringe was a logo patch, taken from the gi I used to wear. It has a sort of yin-yang with a red circle in the center. Funny how I never paid attention to its design back when I was still wearing it.

Stuffed among the seemingly random items was a plastic bag with pieces of torn paper, already discolored and soggy from humidity. I wonder if I could still put them together and see the sketches again.

There were more.

Amazing how much an old shoe box can hold.

October 27, 2008

YM call, clan EB, hot springs, and trees

Two Saturdays ago, thanks to an unusually fast internet connection and a good headset, I was able to call two friends abroad via YM.

It’s been years since we last talked so I couldn’t help but be fascinated with the sound of their voices during the first few minutes of our conversation.

For a while, they sounded different -- perhaps as different as we have changed through the years. I'm sure I must have sounded differently to them, too, at first.

But as the hours passed by and the laughter came wave after wave (my tummy still ache from the cramp), everything sounded the way it was years ago -- back when we were still having this sort of conversation on a daily basis.

It was great talking you again, C and E! Sure beats chatting. ^^

photo courtesy of www.sanctius.tkTwo Sundays ago, I met with my Perfect World clanmates at the LU! Live at World Trade Center.

It was my first time to personally meet the people I get to know in-game, and it was... strangely fun! I wished I didn't have to leave the meeting so soon, but family duties come first.

Last Thursday, the office held its teambuilding session at the Sentosa Elenita Resort in Laguna. This nice private resort has everything tired pollsters like us need: hot fountains, hot pools, videoke machine, nice rooms, and great food.

After the little teambuilding and RnR, we took a quick tour at UP Los Baños, and I finally get to hug the famous Fertility Tree. Weee!

More about this soon at the unofficial Techie blog.


The Fertility Tree!

October 06, 2008

Cheers to Pinoy gamers!

Joan and I were supposed to do groceries at the Mall of Asia (MOA) last Saturday, but ended up watching two gaming events by the country's most popular online game publishers.

Level Up! held its Road to LU Live at MOA's Music Hall, and we were just in time to watch the Philippine Ragnarok Championship finals.

It was an exhilarating race-to-three match between the country's best pRO teams: the Bozanian Beast Fighter and the Renegade. The Bozas won straight three to none.

All of the rounds were intense -- with all the new MMORPGs (massively multiplayer role-playing games) that came out in the past five or six years, I believe Ragnarok still has the fastest pace and the most complex teamplay tactics.

The loudest yells and cheers came from what was apparently the favorite (and maybe the most lethal) move during battles -- the monk's Extremity Fist, also my personal favorite.

The Bozas will represent the Philippines in the coming Ragnarok World Championships at the Level Up! Live in October 18-19, to be held at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.

At the other side of MOA, at the SMX Convention Center, E-Games was holding its RAN Global Tournament 2008. We caught the last two matches between Malaysia vs. Hong Kong, and Malaysia vs. Philippines.

The Philippine team, Terminator, emerged as champions. Malaysia and Hong Kong came first and second runner-ups, respectively.

Congratulations to teams Bozanian Beast Fighters and Terminator. Go Philippines!

It was a great day for the Philippine gaming community.

***

E-Games had a sort of mini-quest for the guests: have your card signed by ten of their selected Game Masters, and you get a chance to win some cool items.

This reminded me of my undergrad days when I was applying for a student org. I was a bit skeptical about the whole thing, seeing that there were clearly more than ten GMs milling around the convention center, some even within the restricted area.

So I had two questions for the organizers at the booth:

Me: (in Tagalog) Are you sure these signatory GMs are wearing the prescribed GM uniform?

Staff: Yes.

Me: And none of them are stationed or hanging around the restricted area?

Staff: Yes.

Me: Sigurado kayo, ha?

Staff: Opo, sigurado po yun.

Okay, so make that three questions.

It was easy enough to find and meet the nine GMs. These fine-looking young men and women are very nice and friendly.

I had trouble looking for the last one, GM Drone. None of his fellow GMs and organizers seem to know where he was exactly. I was getting a lot of "Nandoon lang po yata siya," and "Nandyan lang po siya," and I was getting a bit impatient.

Before the final match between Philippines and Malaysia began, another GM informed me that this GM Drone was wearing a blue jacket, not the prescribed black and gold jacket with big GM letters at the back.

Just great! In a major, international event like this, this GM has the audacity to break the rules. If he was planning to not wear that GM uniform (it was a really cool jacket, by the way) and if he intended to make himself scarce at the latter part of the event, he should not have agreed to have his name in the sig card.

I was not the only person looking for this GM Drone. There was a group of late-comers who entered the hall just for the final match. Our hopes of getting some of the goodies from the loot booth were in the hands of this hard-to-find GM.

After the awarding ceremonies, I made a final attempt by breaking through the security line towards a large crowd of people wearing the GM jacket.

"GM Drone? (Looks around) Naka-blue jacket po siya. Teka... (asks the GM next to him) Si Drone, pare? Sorry Sir, nandyan lang po siya."

The crowd of GM were making their way to the VIP area, where the winners were gathered to lounge. I literally pulled one of the organizers from the crowd to ask her where GM Drone was.

"Sorry Sir. Wala na po siya."

And so five other guys and myself left the hall empty-handed. We joked half-heartedly that we'd include GM Drone in our hitlist in-game Ran online, but there's no doubt it was a really frustrating experience.

Good thing the Philippines won, otherwise, GM Drone would have pretty much ruined my day.

September 29, 2008

Reveal

The management of this Malate mall should review the admission price of their relatively older cinemas. Despite the shabby appearance, they charge the same admission as the newer and fresher cinemas of Glorietta and Greenbelt.

But I can forget the old seats, the poor airconditioning, and the dusty-looking walls and ceilings if the cinema is featuring one of the biggest collaborations in recent movie history.

Righteous Kill features Robert de Niro and Al Pacino -- two of my favorite actors who have in their disposal the finest devils I've seen in the movies.

These men played their roles flawlessly. De Niro as Turk was the transparent, angry, and righteous devil all throughout, while Pacino the cool yet sinister and more dangerous Rooster, playing the good guy until he reveals Mr. Hyde in the end.

Yet another great movie to remind us that appearance can be deceiving.

***

Sometimes it takes time for questions to be answered, if at all such questions deserve this oh-so-ideal conclusion.

Perhaps triggered by paranoia over my hereditary tendencies, lately I've been keeping a watchful eye at my memory.

I seem to be forgetting a lot of things in the past. While I still could remember the What, it's the Why that seems to be fading so quickly.

So now I have been asking... again.

And the marvelous thing about this is that it somehow reveals more than what you knew before. Subjected to a different kind of light, the past could bring forth a whole new perspective.

Some things really do take time.

And though whatever I learn or understand now may not even be a fraction of the so-called truth, I am forever grateful to all who've taken time out to answer my questions.

September 24, 2008

Happy birthday, Mamidir!

You have a hundred and one nicknames for your children -- all calls of endearment -- but you need only to call us by our real names to tell us that it's time to behave.

You're the first ambidextrous person I've known. At night when I refuse to sleep, you'd tell me "Pagod na ang kanang kamay ko sa kapapalo, pero ang kaliwang kamay ko, hindi pa." And when you do dish out physical punishment, your other hand would be ready to soothe the pain.

You gave me most of my right brain, inspiring most of what I am now when it comes to art, music, writing, and understanding human nature. We're forever proud and grateful of every little bit of what we're continuously learning from you.

You have always let us fly on our own wings, and yet remain the strongest force that binds the family together.

We love you, Mami dearest! Happy birthday and God bless!

September 17, 2008

Gut feel

The other day I left my desk for a few minutes and when I got back, my phone has two missed calls and a text message.

It was from my sister. I initially suspected something urgent -- for her to call me twice within barely five minutes was a bit unusual.

Her text message, however, contained her usual "Hi! How are you? How's Joan? Ingat lagi..." and so on.

I got another miscall from her while I was traveling home, and finally got to talk to her when I was about to sleep.

She had a rather disturbing dream about me, she said, and was just checking on how I am doing. No amount of prodding, however, could make her tell me exactly what she dreamed about.

Yesterday, I got another miscall from her. But no text message, and no follow-up calls.

She is making me nervous.

***

Have you ever felt that weird sensation where the world around you, or the cosmos-whatever, has conspired to let you in on something, and you just can't figure out what it is?

My sister's calls -- as well as the other small, seemingly random and idle signs here and there within the past month -- seem to sum up to a bigger picture.

Either I'm not good with reading the signs, or I'm too scared to see what they really are.

September 07, 2008

Snatches of happiness

The pace at work momentarily slowed down last Friday with the client's handshake at the end of my two-hour presentation, wrapping up the last of the projects I'm involved with for this quarter.

I've been looking forward to that feeling -- a light, cool sensation (and light-headedness due to lack of sleep) that filled me up little by little as I walked out of the heavily-guarded building in Makati and made my way back to the office in Quezon City via jeepney and mass transit.

Contact with the hustling and bustling masses during Friday weekend rush shook away the toxic residue of work, and by the time I reached my desk, the feeling was complete.

There's time again for the simple joys in life. At least, until Monday.

So I took the small bag under my desk, changed to my running outfit and went out to do something I haven't done in years: jog around UP Campus.

I charted a course that covered my most memorable areas: Krus na Ligas, Hardin ng Bougainvilla and Hardin ng Rosas, Math Building, NIGS, College of Science, the “Sunrise Cottage”, Marine Institute, the playground at Executive House, the UP Printing Press, Quezon Hall (Oblation), the Lagoon, Faculty Center, Palma Hall, Main Libe, the Sunken Garden, Grandstand and Vinzon’s Hall, UP Arcade, UP Chapel, the Shopping Center, Area 2, the Kalayaan, Sanggumay, Yakal, and Molave Residence Halls, UP Film Center, UP Theater, the Track Oval, the DMST/Vanguard Building, Ylanan Road, and finally UP-CMC.

It was the ultimate treat. Amid the flood of memories and pain of protesting muscles, I was reminded of my recent thoughts this past month.

I turned 33 last August 29, and for the third consecutive year, I spent my birthday at work. By spending I mean every hour and minute of it. In 2006 and 2007, I was out on fieldwork, and in both years I celebrated my birthday in the provinces with colleagues.

This year was no different – I woke up, worked, celebrated, and ended my birthday in the vicinity of the workplace.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that I have been used to celebrating my birthdays alone and away from family. The last time there was a family member present was on my 21st birthday, when my mother happened to be in Manila for a conference (back then she gave me the most unusual present for my age – a toy robot).

Anyway, there were a lot more reasons for me to be happy.

This year my birthday fell on the same day the office held its annual general assembly. It turned out to be a blast -- free food and booze for all, courtesy of the office, with videoke on the side. It was nice to see the new staffs share a little bit more of themselves when it was their turn to sing.

Thanks to my wife, another group was celebrating and giving thanks for my birthday with a simple salo-salo somewhere in Manila.

Birthday greetings came, on the day and days after, from people who mattered to me more than they would probably realize.

I had my first taste of Perfect World territorial wars (TW) yesterday. It lasted only for 15 minutes, and we lost to the defending clan. But now that the clan had its first taste of the TW adrenaline rush, I'm sure it won't be long before we'll be invading another territory.

I had a good chat with friends just recently, and was reminded of the simple joys that seem to have gone hibernating in my life.

And finally, yet another pleasant surprise when I get to chat with my sister in Liverpool for the first time. Hurray to YM and webcam!

Hurray to life's simple joys.

***

When I first saw Transformers Animated (TFA), I readily thought it would be tough to come up with a toy line for this series.

How will this series look, and transform, as toys?

I was never convinced until the first batch of TFA toys hit the shelves of Toy Kingdom in Ayala.

I was so impressed I took home Blackarachnia, and soon I'll add Prowl to my collection.

August 29, 2008

33!

































Okay, that's enough Garfield for today. No nightmares for me tonight, too tired to have one.

Cheers to another year. ^^

Thank you to my neighbors here for the greetings:

Cez, that text greeting of yours was right on the dot... 12:02 AM! Galing!

Dyoonet, for that friendster note.

and Raindir, for the offline ym greetings.

Thank you, thank you!

August 14, 2008

Wear blue, will lose

I was hoping the Beijing Olympics will erase the Onyok Velasco stigma some years ago, and restore my faith in boxing as an Olympic event.

But unlike swimming, judo, and weightlifting, which kept me wide-eyed in awe, concentration, and admiration, watching boxing got me so frustrated and had me shouting "WTF!" more than I usually do during the daily morning rush drive to work.

I've caught portions of two boxing matches (I couldn't bring myself to watch till the end), where Canada and Australia (?) suffered the worst kind of defeat: "outclassed", 20++-to-zero, "one-way-street", "what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here" kind of defeat.

Both losers have something in common: they wore blue, and their scores simply refused to move up despite delivering visibly solid hits.

Since then, I refused to watch the boxing events.

Just now RP's Harry Tanamor lost to Ghana. "Outboxed", says the commentator.

And the color he's wearing?

Blue.

I wonder if the judges around the boxing ring had their eyes checked.

The overall color of the ring -- its canvass, ropes, etc. -- is shades of blue.

Thus the fighter wearing blue uniform and blue gloves would tend to melt in the background, while the one in red would stand out, majestic and powerful -- so powerful that a simple swing could look like a freakin' Mike Tyson punch.

That's just a theory. Maybe the Olympics Committee should consider this, as well as the rules they use.

August 05, 2008

Past a certain threshold

While it's true that electronic gaming is close to my heart -- the grade I had for my undergraduate thesis on that topic would be some proof to that -- I was not, am not, nor will ever be, good at it.

I would classify myself somewhere in the "casual gamer" or "play-when-it's-free-during- absolutely-free-time" category, opposite the "hardcore gamers" and "hobbyists" at the other end of the scale.

In my recent visits to the online world, I think I crossed another threshold that may be worth noting (more for my own benefit).

My first mention of Perfect World (PW) in this blog was six months ago. Back then I was already feeling the first signs of boredom due to the somewhat repetitive scenarios and increasingly slow development at higher stages typical of MMORPGs.

Until my online character passed a certain level when something in the game’s system kicks in.

PW has a certain scheme that assures players, after reaching a certain level, a daily supply of that precious experience and soul points, thus allowing us to level-up with minimal effort.

Gain points without breaking a sweat? And with every level comes new scenarios, new stories, better things to do?

It was a sweet deal for casual players like myself who sorely lack internet connection speed and the time to go online.

And so... the game stayed in my hard disk.

This scheme proved to be beneficial. After several months, during occasional insomnia attacks, my online character managed to reach level 60.

Reaching 60 in PW opened up a lot of things. Most significant of which, in my opinion, would be getting invitations from relatively more established and more organized Clans.

It was a refreshing change. Such Clans have recruiting officers who usually know how to politely reply to my typical response, "Thanks, but sorry I'm not very active," when my character gets invited. And they usually do so in correct English or Filipino, and (thank goodness) with correct spelling.

Over three months ago, I had an invitation from a clan officer who was more earnest and persuasive than anyone before.

And so I joined, and became the Clan's resident "lurker/AFK (away from keyboard)" member (I'm such a useless member, I know). Being a healer class, when time allows it, I try to do support and "ambulance" duties.

But certain pressures stirred within (I was afraid of this): I want to keep up with everyone. I wish I could be as good as the rest, if not better. Most of all, I wish I could do more for the clan (I can't help it -- they're such a helpful and jolly crowd. Though tuning in to their chats sometimes drive me nuts).

Someday, maybe...

After passing another threshold.

I don't think I'd be moving anywhere in the gamers' scale soon.

***
The Beijing Olympics on TV...

I was left in awe by the deluge of ads celebrating the Olympic spirit -- images of human power, pain, joy, fun, and victory.

Simply inspiring.

July 30, 2008

Tick-tock...

The President's 8th State of the Nation Address was applauded 102 or 104 times, according to reports, of which the loudest was allegedly on the President's statement, "Texting is a way of life. I asked the telecoms to cut the cost of messages between networks. They responded. It is now down to 50 centavos."

But reports later on pointed out that this price cut in text messaging is only up to October 2008.

A promo? In the SONA?

See poster and print ads for details?

Oh well, just text away, then, and hope it becomes permanent.

There are much, much more crucial matters than this.

***

A silent countdown has begun in my head. It's again that time of the year.

This alarm goes off around a month before I turn a year older, and I tend to start seeing and doing things a little differently.

The changes are too small to notice. Nevertheless, I feel that a month from now, these small changes will be my very own birthday surprise for myself.

***

Yet another item in my list of never-to-do-again in driving.

I know it's foolish to think our eight-year old AUV is some sort of an amphibious vehicle capable of going through the flooded streets of Manila last July 16, at the height of Typhoon Helen.

But somehow I did (blame it on that very important deadline at work), and I'm still thanking my lucky stars I didn't get stuck at España Avenue that morning. I don't know if I could ever get over the shame if that happened.

I have to admit, though, it was satisfying to see the disappointment in the faces of the Tulak Boys following me through the flood, waiting for my ride to stall, drown, or something.

Not today, guys.

Then again, maybe it's a matter of time before my luck runs out.

*Knock on wood*

***

Very soon my friends will find out if legends can be broken.

Ohoho! This will be fun!

Goodluck!


Tick-tock... ^^

July 28, 2008

Cheers and praise

While over a month has passed since Typhoon Frank and public attention to news has shifted to other matters, relief and rehabilitation of Aklan would take much, much longer.

Aklan still needs help more than ever. Please visit BULIG AKLAN, BANGON AKLAN! and "An Open Letter for Help" from Gov. Carlito Marquez for the ways how we could help and the things needed, such as:
1. Safe drinking water
2. Food/Canned goods
3. Rice
4. Noodles
5. Medicines
6. Clothes
7. Shoes/Slippers
8. Sleeping Mats
9. Blankets
10. Towels
11. Katol or insect repellant
12. Candles and matches
13. Soap, shampoo, tooth paste & tooth brush
14. Old toys
15. Books

In the meantime, it’s never too early to say thanks to the good things that came our way.

Cheers to all who generously gave their time and resources to help rebuild the lives affected by Typhoon Frank.

Praise to the many online residents who reached out and helped bring attention and aid to Aklan, among them, to name a few, fellow Aklanons Cheryl Joy (American Living, Filipina Thinking), who carried on with what she started despite almost giving up blogging, Joanne Tupas-Parsons of Kids Ahoy and the people behind Akeanon ag Proud, who’re up and running and organizing from the very start, and our friend Cez (Vanilla Caramel), who's got a longer list of those who helped (plus a good serving of happy, happy news).

Again, there are many others who made every post, every forwarded email, every bulletin, etc, count. Cheers to you all!

***

Speaking of cheers and praise, it’s been a while since I’ve watched a movie that had people standing and clapping in the end (I can’t even remember what movie it was).

Two of the last three movies I’ve seen this month had that effect on people.

The first one even had some people quietly singing and dancing in their seats from the start.

Mamma Mia! the film is a real treat for my generation (ubo-ubo). It's good ole’ ABBA music wrapped in a feel-good comedy about restless hearts, finding peace with yourself and the one you love, and that elusive fountain of Aphrodite.

Thanks to this movie, I'm adding ABBA songs to my list of driving music. Heehee!

The second movie is as dark and gloomy as Mamma Mia! is light and bubbly -- and the applause from moviegoers was just as loud and long.

Maybe the sheer complexity of his thought-provoking script, coupled by the fact that he's played by a late actor that has been showered with much accolades by his peers, made the Joker of The Dark Knight one of the most cerebral characters I've watched (mababaw lang ako eh).


One thing is for sure: at the end of the movie, people are applauding and talking more about Joker than Batman.

***

A few hours from now, the President will deliver her 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Let's see how many times her audience at Batasang Pambansa will applaud this year.

Let's listen up...

June 30, 2008

Searching the bad for something good

Still tuned in to post-Typhoon Frank updates in Aklan at Cheryl's blog.

Venues and mechanics for sending help to Aklan are compiled and updated here: http://akeanonagproud.multiply.com/journal/item/2/WHATS_NEXT_BULIG_AKLAN_BANGON_AKLAN

Thank you for all the help, and here's hoping more find their way to Aklan soon.

***

When I spoke to my mother yesterday morning, Sunday, she was all set to travel and visit the rest of the Aklan to document the extent of Typhoon Frank's damage. Whatever she finds will be added to the report DepEd and the rest of the concerned agencies are preparing.

To release more funds for Aklan, I hope.

Been gathering photos of the damages left by the typhoon, and found a lot from municipalities that apparently suffered more.

For the rest of the 17 municipalities where news and photos are somewhat scarce, I really hope that no news is good news..

***
And for something really good.

Mabuhay ka, Manny Pacquiao!

This country could use every bit of good news these days, and Pacquiao's victory is just the sort that could soothe our tired and weary soul as a people.

Now if only the politicians surrounding him could just stay hidden from the cameras long enough for me to enjoy that genuine, feel good moment.

Let's have that moment, shall we?

...

Ok, moment's gone. On with life.

Cheers!

June 27, 2008

Some Typhoon Frank updates from Aklan

*edit (re-posting)...

Re-posting from http://kidsahoy.multiply.com/journal/item/89/:

Here's AN ONGOING RELIEF OPERATIONS ORGANIZED BY A GROUP OF CONCERNED AKLANONS & PRIVATE CITIZENS headed by Michelle Martelino Yu.

KEEP YOUR DONATIONS COMING EVERYONE!

You may send bulk contributions in kind directly to

Villamor Airbase Base Operation
c/o Maj. Pascua tel. 8546701

The parcels properly packed and addressed as follows:
c/o Cong. Allen S. Quimpo , Kalibo, Aklan

and labeled according to classification (Food, Medicines, Clothing etc.) with their declared weight and intended recipient (ex. Kalibo, Aklan).

If necessary we can also arrange for pick up at designated collection points for delivery to Villamor Air Base; in this case please advise the team beforehand.

Michelle Yu
Attorney-at- Law
Project Head, Relief Operations in Aklan
231 Langka Drive, Ayala Alabang Village ,
Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila 1700
Tel./Fax 8429225; Cellphone: 09177962310
email: michellemartelinoyu@yahoo.com
multiply: http://michellemartelinoyu.multiply.com/journal/item/27


***


It was a bit frustrating to not see much news coverage about Aklan at the height of Typhoon Frank. But after reading some detailed accounts from a fellow Aklanon, Cheryl Joy, in her blog, and from people who posted their comments there, I guess it was then logistically impossible for media to carry out sustained news about what's happening there. The local media themselves were rendered almost helpless as most facilities were severely damaged.

I only had one small experience, way back in the late part of 1990, of how the geography of Kalibo react to rain and flood: a few hours of heavy rain is enough to soak Kalibo with flood from nearby municipalities. Sometimes, the rain need not even be in Kalibo for it to get flooded.

Kalibo is a perfect catch-basin, and that small rain made me spend two days in my friend's house in Banga to wait for the flood to subside.

But with a typhoon like Typhoon Frank...

Yesterday I called my mother (thank goodness for car mobile charger!). It was disturbing to hear the same details as what Cheryl Joy has shared.

Right now, my mother has to travel to Roxas City in search of a photo processing shop so she could have the pictures developed, as well as coordinate with DepEd Capiz. She's been working closely with concerned agencies and they're putting together a situational report for an upcoming meeting with the President.

My in-laws, however, said the electricity in Roxas City is still too feeble and could only power lights -- not enough output yet to power an establishment. I hope the more-established shops there have their own generators. Otherwise my mother would have to go for Iloilo.

I dare not quote the figures yet, but whatever is in that report has, more or less, been slowly coming out in the news. There is little doubt, however, that this is one of the worst disasters that struck the province of Aklan.

If you wish to help, in addition to the details above, you can also contact Atty. Selwyn Ibarreta, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Board Member, Aklan, at 0919-8094588 (this is from Donna in one of her comments in Cheryl Joy's blog).

I'll add whatever info I could get. Take care everyone!

June 26, 2008

Sentimental?

When Joan showed me the newspaper ad about Circuit City's trade-in promo for old gaming consoles, I thought "finally, I can dispose of my old PSOne".

I've been drooling over PSP for quite some time now, and the trade-in would bring the price down by up to Php2.5K (or about $56 as of today's exchange rate).

Not a bad price for a 5++-year old PSOne, 'no?

It got better when I called up the shop, and learned that the trade-in will also accept just the console itself. Yes! I get to keep the controllers!

So I went through my boxes (most are still unpacked since we moved in last November) and got my dusty but still working PSOne, together with my stash of over 20 game titles, half of which I don't recall playing at all.

I was all set for the trade-in, and I was already imagining the feel of the sleek console in my hand (like I sometimes do when I see others playing in the train during rush hours).

But yesterday, as I was standing next to the Circuit City stall in Robinson's Place Malate, something snapped.

Joan and I went home with the old PSOne still in my bag.

Sentimental? Maybe. Blame it on Final Fantasy VIII.

Last night I hooked up the PSOne, loaded a precious saved game file of the final battle (the dusty memory card works!), pulverized Ultimecia, and watched the movie ending that made me fall in love with RPG (role-playing game).

FF VIII can also be played in Windows, but I don't think I could ever make the characters as well-build and well-equipped as they are in my PSOne, saved in the memory card over five years ago.

Yup, that PSOne is going to stay in my shelf. The PSP can wait.

June 24, 2008

Stormstruck

I could hear the wind in the background as I spoke with my mother on the cellphone last Saturday.

Typhoon Frank (Fengshen) has just taken out a portion of the roof of our old family house in Aklan, and the flood water has reached the sacks of rice in the storage.

My mother and her kasambahays has taken refuge in the living room, the strongest part of the house.

"It's almost like Undang, anak..." she told me before we ended the call. She had to conserve her cellphone battery -- no one knows how long the blackout will last.

That had me worried.

The name Undang has become legendary among Aklanons and Capiznons old enough to remember the devastation it brought upon the island of Panay.

According to this, Typhoon Undang (Agnes), which occurred from Nov. 3 to 6, 1984, had a maximum recorded wind speed of 230 kph, with death toll reaching over 800 and damage estimated at P1.9B.

Before I came upon these figures, I only know Undang the way I remember it as a child.

It was one night and one day of strong wind, rain, and flood. The house was badly damaged at the first onslaught -- most of the windows broke, the kitchen roof collapsed, and the old mango tree in our backyard got uprooted and hit the side of the house, damaging the wall and one of the main pillars.

With the entire house at risk of collapsing, we had to open the rest of the windows and the main doors to let lessen the wind's impact.

And so for one night and one day, my brother, sister, and I, wearing helmets and thick jackets, watched the full fury of the storm through the open doors and windows.

And what a scene it was. We saw a person getting lifted off the ground and thrown back by the wind. Coconut trees were twisting themselves neatly onto each other like pilipit (a native delicacy). And the wind played on and on like a symphony.

It was surreal. Almost beautiful -- because we never felt scared at that time. Maybe because we were too young to care about just how grave the situation was. When Undang passed, for us kids back then, the whole town became a wonderful playground of fallen trees, and the air was so cold and had the crisp scent like that of freshly cut grass.

Yesterday my mother texted me some updates: a few old windows were broken, portions of the roof got ripped off, parts of the house are rain and flood-damaged, the old mango tree got uprooted (again), the town plaza and main streets are blocked by fallen trees.

The town of Kalibo suffered more because of the flooding.

News are still coming in, and apparently the destruction left by Typhoon Frank in Iloilo and Capiz are more severe. And many are still missing from the capsized Sulpicio Lines ferry near Romblon (related news here).

Here's praying that help reaches those who need it the soonest.

June 18, 2008

What's happening?

When Joan and I chose The Happening over The Incredible Hulk last week (she likes Mark Wahlberg more than Edward Norton), we knew we're in for another brain-rubbing rollercoaster ride typical of films by M. Night Shyamalan.

And true enough, halfway through the film till the end, we were wide-eyed in utter disbelief and silently asking "What the **** is happening?!"

It's not about the story, however. While it has the quality of creatively weaving common, everyday elements into bizaare, chilling scenarios, the movie pretty much revealed its plot early on and ushers the viewers almost gently into a grinding conclusion (there was no BAM! moment, unlike The Sixth Sense or, to some extent, The Village).

What caught us off-guard was that The Happening left a very petty detail hanging, literally.

What in the world is that microphone doing there?

Maybe 20th Century Fox Manila office got the unedited version of the movie. Otherwise, that microphone hanging over the actors' heads during some of the movie's conversation scenes was either a simple post-production mishap that their editors chose to ignore, or a cinematic ploy aimed at pulling a fast one to leave the viewers wondering.

I don't know.

***

Happy Fathers' Day! My father will also be celebrating his birthday this month.

So cheers to the man who taught me much of life's lesson by how he is living his.

Happy, happy birthday, Dad.

June 12, 2008

Everybody loves kung fu fighting!

My wife had to nudge me several times throughout this movie because I was laughing too hard and a bit too loudly.

I couldn't help it. Nacho Libre was still fresh in my memory, and the similarities between Po the panda and the luchador Nacho somehow doubled the laugh-factor of Kung Fu Panda (the brief shot of the clenched butt really did it for me).

***

One of my former martial arts orgmate, who I haven't heard from for quite some time, made his presence felt by sharing a video of his first arnis tournament held recently in his province.

I feel happy for him because he just had what he aptly described as his "second wind" for martial arts (Way to go, JC!) -- something I have been wanting too for myself.

May 23, 2008

My Lakbayan grade is C+!

I got this from Cath. ^ ^


My Lakbayan grade is C+! (Note: Mostly work-related trips)

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

May 22, 2008

Dreaming of bike lanes

With oil price on its relentless rise and the minimum jeepney fare now at Php8.00, it's sad to know that a perfectly functional bicycle is just gathering dust in the garage instead of being ridden to and from work, like what I used to do when I was still in Quezon City (Diliman, to be exact).

It's almost two years year since I moved to Makati City, and I still haven't figured out the safest bike route to QC, if such a thing exist in the first place.

Then again, maybe it's out there, if only I have the guts to take the bike out and brave the streets of Makati.

Presidential aspirant MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando was able to do it in Marikina. I wonder what's keeping MMDA from pushing through with the bicycle lanes for the rest of the metro? Real bicycle lanes, that is, and not like the ones in Quezon City and Manila -- a sign that says "bicycle lane" and white lines along the road do not really give cyclists much protection from other vehicles (a whole freakin' lot of them, with nasty drivers behind the wheel).

***

It was in Hanoi, Vietnam seven years ago where I saw how bicycles and motorcycles could be objects of beauty and romance in people's daily lives.

Hanoi streets are overflowing with bicycles and motorcycles. They are everywhere, and people use them in almost every imaginable way. Bikes in Hanoi are kings of the road! Four-wheel motor vehicles are the minority.

People there do not ride furiously like most cyclists and motorists do here in Metro Manila. They are relaxed, sometimes in deep thought, or casually talking with fellow bikers, or in heated arguments complete with shouting and hand gestures, or in tender conversation.

The last one was a joy to see: couples riding side by side, holding hands and moving in perfect sync. This would be probably be one of the most romantic sights I'll ever see (but sadly, I had no camera with me then, so no photos).

Biking in Metro Manila does not evoke images of romantic couples in tender moments. It conjures images of bloody riders laying on the curb. The evening news would attest to how dangerous the metro streets are for bikers.

Despite the poverty, sometimes I feel the Metro Manila streets have too many 4-wheel motor vehicles already. It seems we are so attached to the car culture that no other commodity could emphasize the gap between the rich and the poor more than the car. Not even the house.

Our own neighbor, for instance, has a Mitsubishi Delica and a 19-something Mitsubishi Lancer (plus two motorcycles), but no garage for all these.

I guess it follows that in the practice of market research in this country, the usual measures of socio-economic class put a heavy premium on the ownership of 4-wheel motor vehicles.

I hope structures like that of Hanoi's or any bicycle-friendly society materialize in Metro Manila. And when that day comes, I pray that I would still be fit to ride a bike.

May 16, 2008

Running on empty

I have an idea now of what it feels like to run low on fuel right smack in the middle of an expressway.

Your eyes strain to look as far ahead as possible for any sign of structure that resembles a gas station while praying hard that the next curve would bring you out of the lonely stretch of nothingness and back into civilization…

But the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) is as new as it gets – nothing but a lonely stretch of smooth, unadulterated concrete road. It could be a sort of heaven for speedsters who have plenty of fuel to burn.

But a speedster I am not, and plenty of fuel I don’t have.

And there’s not a single structure yet in SCTEX that resembles a gas station, and every curve seems to bring forth yet another expanse of that smooth, unadulterated concrete, stretching as far as the straining eyes can see.

Your eyes keep snatching panicked glances at the fuel gauge. You turn off the aircon and partly open the windows. But even in the rush of wind, cold sweat breaks out, and you start seeking comfort in the feel of your mobile phone in your pocket as the road signs flash the remaining distance in agonizingly long intervals…


Subic 53…


42…


23…


18…




It all started when an officemate told me that it takes only an hour and a half at most to reach Subic from the office if we take the SCTEx.

I should have asked what speed could make that kind of travel time.

And so when the office needed us to go to Subic yesterday, my colleague and I – both newbies to the SCTEx – confidently left the office an hour and a half before our appointment.

The foolishness of our decision dawned on me when I saw the distance we have to travel as we enter the expressway.

If we are to make it there on time, we have to be averaging at least 120 kph!

This got me worried. I haven’t pushed our old AUV to those speeds before, but it held together at 120kph. It did show signs of stress if I try bringing it to 130kph (this calls for a visit to the mechanic).

Nevertheless, it solved our need for speed.

Amid the flurry of activities at the office, however, I forgot to fill up on fuel. We’ve entered the expressway with barely half a tank!

I hope I would never have to experience that kind of feeling again.



8...


2...


Subic 500m…


Reduce speed… Stop at the tollway…


You start breathing normally again, whisper words of gratitude to your vehicle, and thank the high heavens for that 5-something liter of reserve fuel.


We were *cough cough* minutes late. But that’s because we got lost a bit in the streets of Subic.

In addition to the obvious ones, I learned a lesson that next time you ask for estimated length of travel time, make sure you’re not talking to a freakin’ race car driver. Haha! ^^

Anyway, it was a happy, busy, tiring day. Subic has changed (improved) a lot. I hope they maintain the discipline and the trees.


***

Speaking of race cars, Speed Racer was surprisingly entertaining. I guess it’s my natural reaction to works of the Wachowski Brothers.

May 14, 2008

Coping with a smile

Here's one of the most sought after commodities around here for the past quarter.

With prices of basic commodities on the rise, just how bleak is the people's economic well-being these days?

Updating our quarterly poverty report gave me that sinking feeling as the nation's poor went down another notch in lowering their living standards to cope up with these hard times.

And looks like things are expected to get even worse, as Dr. Benjamin Diokno points out.

But, of course, it's been in our collective genes to smile amid dire times. The month of May is fiesta season, and with help from these 2-kilo NFA rice packs, maybe there would be enough food to go around during the merriment.

Cheers!

May 08, 2008

Multiplying

Oh my! Yet another online account and site for me. I do hope Multiply's cross-posting features make this a little less complicated.

I've been thinking about having this account since my photo-savvy friends and officemates started uploading really, really, really, reeaaally good-looking photos here, but life kept moving on before I could.

Anyway, my cousin-in-law's arrival from abroad for her first major vacation off work inspired me to create this account.

So there. In just five minutes.

Cheers!

May 06, 2008

Iron Man

I've been waiting for this movie! I should write something about it.

Let's see...

Why oh why did he not smash to the ground when his flight system got all iced up?

That's about it.

Anyway, Downey's a great pick for Tony Stark. I don't know if he went after the role of Iron Man as earnestly as Nicholas Cage reportedly did for GhostRider, but I couldn't think of a better actor to play the genius visionary, ladies' man, and nutcase Stark.

Iron Man was one of the most influential comic characters of my childhood (wait, did I not say in my previous post that I was comatose?) simply because he's human (plus cool technology), and it took work and pain to be who he is (same reason why I like Batman, though this came much later, when gloom and secrecy began to sound so appealing to me).

The movie did a good job of showing all those work and pain, but never to a point where you start feeling sorry for all the bumps and bruises -- the movie's element of comedy made sure of that (the rocket boots testing part was the best).

I've been making a survey of those who've watched Iron Man. How many of you stayed on and watched until the end of the credits?

So far, 4 out of 4 did not.

Amazing.

(Promotional Iron Man photo from Wikipedia)

May 04, 2008

Summit of the roses

It has been in the works for the past six months, and finally pushed through when my sister and her family arrived from UK last month.

The family reunion was originally scheduled after my wedding in 2006, but my sister was four months pregnant then. A wise move, I guess. Given the agenda, this reunion needs us all to be physically and emotionally prepared.

I’ve steeled myself for this event. And true enough, the month of April saw me using up the most number of leave credits in just a month, and spending the most number of hours driving.

And that was just the “physical” part.

Anyway, we kick-started with the birthday celebration of my niece, Ally, at Jollibee Calamba.

Kids these days amaze me to no end, showing an EQ and IQ levels I never had when I was their age (I was in coma during my entire childhood, and regained consciousness only when I entered high school).

Ally has grown so much since she walked the aisle as our flower girl in our wedding. At four years old, speaking with a Liverpool accent (“Hullo Teehtow … Am fo’ yees old.”), she behaves like a little lady and is a very caring big sister to 19-month Ayla.

Ally did momentarily lose her lady-like demeanor and reverted to being a child when Jollibee the mascot walked into the party.

This phenomenal Pinoy icon has this uncanny way of getting into children’s hearts. Ally, usually very cautious and quiet with everyone, gave him a hug at first sight! Unbelievable! (I’ll never get that effect on kids. Haha!)

Adults can’t help loving the Jollibee, too, especially when he started shaking to the tune of The Papaya Song and Itaktak Mo. Whoever was inside the costume is extremely athletic and one hell of a dancer. This mascot did hand stands, backflips, and one-hand push-ups. Plus it dished out moves that reminded me of Streetboys and Sexbombs combined.

We thought of going to one of Batangas’ beaches, but decided it would be a tad too risky for Ayla and Ally. So we went to Villa Victorina, a subdivision in Lipa City that has a nice, private clubhouse.

Despite the sunblock, the UK-grown kids cooked nicely under the sun in just minutes. They loved every moment of it, and protested quietly when their parents fished them out the water. (Just silent tears, no wailing. How behaved can these kids get?) My sister can only sigh and wish they never have to go back to Liverpool.

Moments like this make me more appreciative of where I am. This country is still a beautiful place, if you just have the right frame of mind and perspective.

The highlights of the reunion for me was on the third week, when all five members of our little family sit together at the end of the day to discuss what needs to be done to redress pressing family issues – past, present, and future.

This was the first time the in-laws witnessed what my mother and I call the “summit of the roses”.

My brother-in-law observed how formal we address each other. I explained that this is how we really are all the time, having lived apart for most of our lives, and he’s about to see why we postponed the original schedule in 2006.

This was where emotional fortitude came into play.

I have been waiting for that meeting, for that moment. Finally, it was the moment when secrets were revealed by the right persons, and the burdens now be collectively borne by everyone.

While some issues were far from resolved, I left the meeting table feeling a bit lighter.


My sister and her husband took a little time off parenting and went to visit us in Makati, with the grandparents left behind in Calamba to babysit. We spent an evening at San Mig by the Bay at the Mall of Asia.

Being the farthest flung member of the family, my sister was still in disbelief over some of the things she learned during the “summit”, so I filled her in with more details over beer, sisig, and live band music at Padi’s Point.


My sister and her family are now back in Liverpool, and the rest of the family have, more or less, resumed normal lives – apart, as usual. No one knows yet when the next “summit” will be.

Ah… family. ^^

April 29, 2008

...

I got starstruck.

Almost.

I never thought controversial personalities would have this effect on me.

Sigh.

Today I've been to the darkest, scariest, and steepest basement parking space I've ever encountered.

Thank goodness for 2.5 diesel engine.

No wonder the building tenants call it "The Abyss".

It's been a good day. Stressful, but good. And I still don't make any sense.

Much have happened this month, but work still doesn't give enough elbow room to blog about it.

Right now I just want to say thank you.

April 08, 2008

Lessons from the chicken farm

While it's true that conversations are usually more engaging when both parties share a lot of commonalities, having nothing in common does not necessarily mean the end of lively talks.

Learning from listening is as engaging as exchanging shared ideas. This is one of the many aspects that make interviewing a wonderful experience.

This is the usual scenario every time my father-in-law drops by to visit -- we interview, he shares, we learn.


Some time ago he mentioned an unfamiliar Capiz term: tanghag. It popped up when we were talking about how to build garbage bins from scrap metal and chicken nests from coconut leaves (or nigo).

Tanghag is how the elders call hens that have no chick-raising aptitude.

This breed of irresponsible hens could not maintain quality incubation, resulting to dismal egg-hatching ratio. The chicks that luckily get to be hatched are usually left to fend for themselves.

So to be called a tanghag is not a good thing.


Another chicken-related concept came from my brother just last weekend during our visit in Batangas. Listening to him over shots of Gran Matador and green mangoes for pulutan beats any marketing workshop I could think of.

With over fifteen years experience in sales and brand management, it became second-nature for him to apply his marketing strategies to his poultry business.

Nesting is what my brother and his colleagues call the tactic of quietly introducing a product and observing how it will affect the market. Incubation could take as long as needed and, at the right time, they hatch or fast-track it.

"Boom! (with punching action for emphasis) Kuha mo ang market!"

(Why am I getting the image of that parasitic alien -- from the movie Alien -- bursting out of some unfortunate host's chest? It must be the brandy.)

I love listening to these passionate and inspiring people. Someday I hope to record their stories for our family's next generation.

***

I'm not a big fan of brandy, but I think I got converted by Gran Matador.

No hangover!

Sweet.

April 04, 2008

Reality unlimited

My two-year old nephew loves to watch television THIS close. Tsk tsk. Not good for the eyes. No no no.

I heard the rumors about the Australian blogger who’s been revealing alleged secrets about some well-known Philippine personalities way before I saw ABS-CBN Gigi Grande’s interview with the blogger himself, Mr. Brian Gorrell.

I decided to take a look at the blog yesterday, and half an hour of browsing the entries and comments left me a bit dizzy.

Whew! Talk about waging war on an entirely different level – the kind that needed only one bullet to be fired for an exponentially widespread effect. The feedback mechanism of this medium makes it even more potent.

How you see and what you do with the all the info is, as always, entirely up to you.

***

Sigh. Ramiele Malubay sang her final song for AI.

Sadness.

Oh well, that’s one less TV show from my ever-changing watchlist.

April 02, 2008

Pizza and ice cream

They are symbols for many things at the workplace: a birthday bash, a job well done, a peace offering, an incentive to clean up the place, or simply a soothing balm for weary souls during lull moments in between stressful days.

They are witness to unforgettable lines, jokes corny enough to get one remembered for a long, long time, and small talks that lead to big plans and even bigger gimmicks.

Lately they heralded yet another change in the workplace as another Techie will soon move on to a new path in life and career.

Change is good. Without it, there would be no butterflies. Cheers!

Cheers to pizza! And ice cream! And pancit! And the simple joys they bring.

***

Here’s a good idea amid the looming rice crisis: half-rice policy (related news here).

I hope fast-food outlets and restaurants can pull this off. It’s been done for softdrinks, shampoos, toothpastes, and other commodities subscribing to the concept of “tingi” (retail at smaller quantities), so it’s about time they do it for rice.

March 25, 2008

Finding the good

Recently I have been blessed with nice people.

Last month, people from Hungduan, Banaue worked together to get back my wedding ring after I lost it there during a two-day visit.

Last night, a commuter found my cellphone inside a tricycle in Sikatuna Village and returned it to the office.

I admit that, in both occasions, I lost hope of getting those items back.

For the wedding ring, I readily assumed that the chances of finding it in the vast schoolground of a rural barangay in Banaue -- much more find its way back to me in Manila -- would be as slim as getting interviewed in one of SWS' national surveys (the chances of winning the jackpot in the lotto is much bigger). Reporting it to SitMo seemed a proper thing to do at that time, but all the while my hopes were at the minimal.

My expectation of getting back my cellphone was even lower.

Neither I nor my officemate could remember the body number of the tricycle we rode yesterday, but just the same, I told the Vice-Chairman of Philcoa TODA (Tricycle Operators and Drivers' Association) about my missing cellphone.

When I got home to Makati, I dialed my cell number, fully expecting the succeeding rings to be cut off or be ignored. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a kind, almost apologetic, voice at the other end.

"Hello? Sorry pasahero lang ako dito sa tricycle at nakita ko itong cellphone dito. Alam nyo po ba kung saan ko ito pwede isauli?" (Sorry I'm just a passenger in this tricycle and found this cellphone here. Would you know where I could return it to?)

Holy swet! Another miracle!!

I already lost two mobile phones in my lifetime (through no ones fault but my own), and both experiences were extremely unpleasant. Whoever got the first one is still using it to this day (too cheap to buy a new SIM card, that creep), while the other one sent stupid sex jokes to random contacts in the address book for almost a month before it finally stopped. My goodness!

And so this passenger gave me another reason to have faith in mankind. I'll meet her sometime this week to personally thank her. ^^

***

Silver linings typically comprise the smaller part of the big picture. Behind each pleasant story I shared above are tales that make life a little less brighter than we would have wanted it.

After the people of Banaue returned my wedding ring, I had it re-sized for a better fit, while Joan had both her engagement and wedding rings cleaned.

Though I'm not a very trusting person, I was not raised to be overly suspicious. We've had a good relationship with the company that provided our rings, and I was under the impression that "re-sizing" only involves "shrinking" the size, and cleaning is just "cleaning".

I definitely never thought it would involve "shaving off" layers of metal.

Now my ring has a better fit, but it's thinner and much lighter. Too thin and too light, for a simple re-sizing and cleaning job. Even Joan's rings do not feel as heavy now.

I'll file a formal complain to the company's quality control. I wish we weighed the rings before we had them cleaned, for evidence.

Sigh.

Yesterday when I lost my cellphone, I searched the Philcoa terminal for any representative of their TODA, and met their Vice-Chairperson Dante. He took note of the details, but without any helpful info about the tricycle or the driver, he told me there's no hope of getting the phone back.

"Ser, 'wag ka sanang magagalit pero kung ikaw ang drayber at may nakita kang cellphone na de-kamera, isu-surender nyo po ba 'to sa akin?" (Sir, I hope you won't get mad, but if you're the driver and found a cellphone with camera, would you surrender it to me?)

When I got home to Makati last night, my sister in Liverpool called and told me that buglars broke into their home and got away with a considerable amount of cash, jewelries, and personal belongings.

But the incident will not stop their plans of going home next month, plus their insurance has kicked in to put their minds at ease just a little bit.

Life's a struggle to find that silver lining. If you look hard enough, there's always a reason to smile at the end of the day.

A blessed and happy Easter to all!

March 14, 2008

My prrrreciousssss....

... is back!

My wedding ring got lost on the night of February 9, at the school grounds of Hapao Elementary School during a cultural show organized by SitMo.

It was handed back to me this morning by Jun, a staff from the Office of the Mayor of Hungduan.

Thanks to Weng of SitMo, who chanced upon my blog on February 20, and called up Hapao Elementary School.

As it turned out, a Grade Six pupil found it, but they didn't know where to return it until Weng spoke with the Principal. From then on, Weng facilitated the ring's transport all the way from Ifugao to Quezon City, with the help of Grace and Jun from the Office of the Mayor, Hungduan.

To Weng, Nilo, Vlad, Grace, Jun, all of SitMo team, the Principal of Hapao Elementary School, and the Grade Six pupil who found my ring...

Maraming salamat sa inyo!

***

This incident with my wedding ring reminded of how coordinated and cooperative the people of Hungduan are. It wasn't obvious at first, when we arrived there on Day One.

It only became apparent to me when we were on our way home.

As we left Hungduan, we passed by not one, not two, but three drunk men along the way. One thing was common -- they all look peaceful. Intoxicated, yes, but all with contented looks on their faces, quietly (and wobbly) finding their way home after a long day.

We pointed this out to Nilo, who then explained that the day before, a liquor ban was imposed in consideration of the visitors.

No wonder there was not a single "eksenang inuman" around the town during our visit.

A show of efficient local governance working in small, subtle ways.

'Ala lang. ^ ^