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.