December 31, 2009

Good times

It’s almost closing time for year 2009. I’d love to review my year that was, but I don’t think I have the mental and emotional fortitude for that.

Offhand, let me say that is it’s been an extremely tough year for most of us.

Life, however, has ways of balancing things to tolerable levels, especially during the past two months.

***

I’ve always associated November with birthdays. There seem to be a lot of cool people celebrating their birthdays this month – including my wife haha.

Joan and I celebrated her birthday at Enchanted Kingdom. It was her first time to visit EK, and it was something we’ve been trying to do since our friends Cez and Euge gave us EK tickets as wedding gifts.

That visit was far from ideal, though. At the entrance, we were advised by staffs that there were already an estimated three thousand guests inside the park.

Weeew! (Note to self: when planning an EK outing, check ahead if there are scheduled, massive group tours like the one by the DepEd that day.)

Anyway, good thing Joan’s more of a Grand Carousel, Rialto, Log Jam, Science Fair, and Magic Show type – she’s more than happy to forego the mind-blowing rides like Anchors Away and Flying Fiesta (the Space Shuttle was still out of commission at that time).

Such a fun place. It deserves another visit.

***

It's been almost a decade since we last saw couple Cez and Euge. These are old friends that go waaaay back.

Their visit was unplanned, and their time to meet up with friends so limited. Thanks to the impeccable planning and gimmick ideas from our former sempai James, we went boating and shot at each other in a paintball showdown at La Mesa Ecopark, played badminton somewhere in Kalayaan Ave., danced to Jill’s 80’s music at The Fort, got together with more old friends over scrumptious seafood feast at Dampa Metrowalk, and bumped cars at Fun Ranch, Libis.

It’s amazing how the fun never changed with old friends, even after all these years.

Scratch that. It did change.

I believe it got better.

I wish I can say the same to my driving and navigation skills. Har har!

***

Avatar wasn’t in my list of to-watch movies. It had minimal fanfare with promotions and shared only the barest of details in its trailers.

This is going to be just like Surrogates, I thought.

It was, but the idea was taken to a level that captured one of my deepest fascinations – role-playing in a different world.

I was not expecting it, but I enjoyed the entire 166 minutes of it.

***

Speaking of avatars, it was over a year ago when I first mentioned in this blog the clan in Perfect World where my most active and longest-surviving avatar belongs to -- Sanctius.

Since then, like any other, Sanctius went through changes typical of a group: new officers get drafted, relationships change, and members come and go.

Life goes on.

There were times, however, when the changes were a tad too big – big enough to make a perennial in-game lurker like myself wonder, “What the heck is happening?”

Lots of goodbyes and letters of resignation were posted in the forum. Members that I’ve come to know as the clan’s brain, heart, muscle, and teeth (oh the last one I love and fear at the same time. *shudder* You know who you are haha!) became more scarce from the clan chat, if not entirely gone from the list of members.

But change is good. It’s what gives us butterflies, sabi nga nila.

And what splendid butterflies the next-gen Sanctius officers turned out to be. While it crushed my heart to see Master Raz, Mama Gem, Maharet, Alamar, and others before them relinquish their posts, the clan is, without a doubt, in good hands.

By October 2009, demands of work prompted me to formally inform the clan of my intention to take my in-game lurker status to the next level – hibernation.

Sometime end of November, however, something wonderful happened.

More than the Territorial Wars and the new Elemental Faeries, something in PW slowly pulled me out of hibernation.

It started when an all-star cast of Sanctius officers and high-level members dragged my sorry ass through the Mahayana and Treasure Grotto quests, and eventually pushing me to level 80 (finally).

That moment reminded me of my old aspiration for playing the game in the first place: I want to be just like them *starry-eyed*. So strong, so cool, and so helpful.

Then suddenly the clan chat had that familiar "sound" again. People who've either left the clan or were inactive for so long are coming back! And along this slew of homecomings, our Marshall and his beloved decided to stay.

Things are looking good -- the familiar voices are back, with new ones that are making the Sanctius clan chat livelier than ever.

Like what Maharet said, "It's just like the old times."

Yup. Good times.


Happy New Year to all!

November 14, 2009

Release

Our neighbors had their occasional street party again last night. They set up a tent that occupied over half of the street in front of our house, and settled down to play cards, eat, and drink.

It's their "advance" party. The real celebration would be sometime today.

Anyway, last night's party was relatively quiet.

At 4am this morning, however, I was awaken by loud voices.

They're at it again, locked in heated discussion over some moral issue that has something to do with freedom to express one's opinion. I heard passionate screams like "Tang#@*! Opinyon ko ito, kaya huwag ninyong masabi-sabing mali ako, mga g@%$!", and "Mga ul*^! Magsama-sama na kayong makikitid ang mga utak!"

Wow. Such passion.

It must have felt wonderful for them to scream their minds out in the middle of the street for all their neighbors to hear.

A very satisfying release.

***

My officemate, Mike, had his envy-worthy, shiny long hair cut after five years.

No wonder he went home early yesterday: he wasn't kidding when he said he was getting a haircut.

And now he's traded his old looks that vary from sleek pony-tail or twisted bun, to a neat semi-kalbo.

After five long years.

What a change. And I can only imagine how light his head must feel right now.

***

Right now I'm blogging and doing a paper here at Burger King, Glorietta 4 in Makati, while waiting for Joan to finish her meeting with a friend.

It's a nice change of scenery for me. Plus I love their new mini-burgers, and the free wi-fi.

November 13, 2009

Found

Aside from my own (oops haha), there are a few names that I regularly search over the internet for news and updates.

And even fewer names that I search every now and then, for over five years now, with hopes of somehow getting an idea how these people are doing.

Tonight there's one name off that list, thanks to FB.

The nickname used is different, but the face in the gray photo belongs to a person I used to know so well.

***

Back in high school, every batch's natural enemy/rival would either be the immediate upper batch, or the immediate lower batch, or both.

This rivalry, of course, is just there as it is every batch's struggle to gain prestige. Matters of the heart, however, usually ignore this.

Thanks to a tip at fezbook, I had a glimpse of what went on at the lovefront in the batch below us.

Haha! Memories.

November 10, 2009

Disconnected

I opened Facebook this afternoon and found today's "God wants you to know" message as follows:

"You're chasing in the wrong field. What you are looking for is inside of you, not 'out there'. Take a few days off to become quiet and look within, and you will find it."

Usually I am the one giving this sort of advice. Funny how it sounded so right for me at this very moment.

Good heavens... It wasn't like this a year ago.

No questions here, though. I should know that I am exactly where I am by my choice and mine alone -- however bungled up they may be.

Still... sadness.

Sigh. I feel so tired all of a sudden.

I need that quiet time.

***

Our prayers and sincerest condolences to our friend Euge and the rest of the Abitang family on the passing of his father last November 9.

I only have good (and most of the time, funny) memories of Sir Eugenio on the few times I've spent time with them (including the time I spent an extra day at their home in Banga during a flashflood).

God bless, Sir.

November 06, 2009

For the soul

Feel-good moments are extremely hard to come by these days, and oftentimes it takes too much effort to snatch measly bits and pieces of it.

So much effort that, at times, you end up wondering if it’s worth it at all.

Anyway, the last I remember – the one that didn’t require effort at all – would be the time I turned 34.

Yes, I love it when I get another year older. It means another year overdue of the age I believe my original lifespan would have been. (That would be 30, thanks to a recurring dream I used to have.)

This year wasn’t so different from the last one, and maybe from the three others before that: I was again in the office at the first hour of my birthday.

However, the people surrounding me in those first few hours had always been the ones that define the moment – always different, always wonderful.

The Techies and all who brought the videoke to its breaking point (tsk tsk haha!) never failed to cheer things up. And thanks Anne and Sergey for bringing me to the KMS party –

I had fun, guys. Thank you.

And for the past three years, the best part of the day would always be coming home to Joan. ^^

***

We’re used to calamities. During the early parts of my childhood spent in Metro Manila, I had my share of riding rubber tubes and wading through deep floods in Pandacan. When my family moved to Aklan, I had my taste of mind-blowing super-typhoons and freaky flashfloods.

But I only have good memories in all those experiences – playing with classmates in the floods after classes were suspended, gathering fruits from fallen trees around the town, standing in the beach wearing a crash helmet while waiting for the gust of wind to lift me off the ground (it never happened, though, maybe my body was too streamlined to achieve liftoff), breathing lungfulls of cool, crisp, leaf-scented air after the storm, and spending another day or two at a friend’s house while waiting for the roads to be clear of floods.

Back then, there were no fears of leptospirosis, no mudslides, no murderous floods or mudfloods, and barely are there scenes of people crying on their rooftops, or running or swimming for their lives, or people begging for help and mercy on national TV.

Either I was brain-dead back then, or something is really wrong today.

***

Every morning since typhoons Ondong and Pepeng, I listen to the radio on my way to work, and get snatches of feel-good moments from news of people helping others, sometimes in the most unique way – boxes of condoms and contraceptive pills donated to evacuation centers were the least I expected to hear.

But hey, just keep the help coming.

And everywhere in Facebook, blogs, and online news, there are people reaching out a helping hand.

Cheers to you all!

Of course, one has to endure all the bad in majority of the news to get these bits of feel-good ones. It’s all about being selective.

***

Natural selection.

Here’s a term stuck in my head recently. Life is all about making choices, and from those choices or decisions arise the fate of not just your own but those of others.

If a team of multi-tasking individuals was given one project too many, each one of these individuals will autonomously exercise a selection process determining which among their many tasks they will prioritize.

And which to sacrifice.

Ultimately, the collective choices of these individuals will determine the fate of a project.

I know now how it feels like to lose every spare tire, every lifeboat, and all reserve fuel needed to finish a project within the deadline.

Sigh. First time for everything. But hopefully never again.

***

This is it.

What can I say?

When it comes to what he does, Michael is perfection.

***

I’m finding it so hard to resist these cute and satisfyingly lethal little characters.

Luna Online by Run Up Interactive Corp. is slowly becoming my worst nightmare – an addiction. It’s been feeding my love for “hybrid” characters.

Gaah! Please let this not be the Ragnarok-type of addiction, or it will ruin my life. Haha!





My first duel -- what a rush (especially if you've won haha)!

August 06, 2009

Paalam, Pres. Cory

Joan and I stood under the rain for hours at the South Superhighway yesterday to see President Corazon Aquino's final journey.

Neither of us were personally present at the People Power revolution in 1986 -- we were both in fifth grade in the provinces when it happened.

The sheer crowd of masses yesterday, however, gave me a certain sensation: if this isn't People Power, nothing else could come close.

But there were no angry shouts of protests. There was no trace of violence in the people's faces.

There were only love, gratitude, and admiration.

Farewell, Pres. Cory.


Some more photos of this brief moment here.

August 02, 2009

Happiness and well-being

Salamat, President Cory Aquino.

July 16-23, Florence, Italy. My presentation at the 9th Conference of the International Society of Quality of Life Studies was about satisfaction with democracy and quality of life in the Philippines.

It was scheduled at 8:30 am, and apparently it’s a time that most of the conference participants find difficult to attend. It was hard for me to wake up early too. The Italian summer nights are so short – it’s there where I first wore sunglasses at 8pm, and the sun still rises at 6am.

Few participants made it to my talk. Thanks to four of my colleagues in SWS (the five of us were the only Filipinos out of over 300 participants) and those of my co-presenters’ from mainland China, Singapore, and London, the beautiful, ancient dungeon that was converted into a classroom didn’t look so empty and lonely.

It was a 20-minute talk, which I find too short if one is to discuss over 50 years of Philippine history as a nation. So I breezed through the highlights of the country’s experience with democracy.

I placed special emphasis on 1986 – President Cory, People Power, and restoration of democracy. The regular study of democracy, subjective well-being, and public opinion in the Philippines became possible as certain liberties such as elections and freedom of speech were re-established after 13 years of dictatorship.

So how’s democracy doing so far? Unfortunately, the democracy that President Cory re-established eventually gave birth to a new breed of corruption. But while we are sick of it, the idea of democracy is something we, as a people, are not ready to abandon.

There’s always hope. We’ll see how democracy plays come Elections 2010.

****

July 16-27, Florence, Pisa, Rome, and the Vatican, Italy. There’s extra happiness everywhere.

It’s in every local beer I occasionally had during lunch and dinner. Nothing compared to my all-time favorite San Mig Pale Pilsen, but their delightfully potent 4.5% to 5% alcohol buzz took away all my pre-presentation jitters.

It’s in the lovely scooters that dominate the narrow, cobbled streets of Florence. Here, these pocket rockets look so pristine and classy, far from the ones we see in the treacherous streets of Manila.

It’s in all those delish pasta, pizza, Mediterranean foods, and gelato! Yum!

It’s in all the beautiful sights, artwork, pieces of history, and symbols of faith that used to be just pictures. To see them, touch them, walk through them, breathe them, climb them, do all sorts of poses next to them, and pray before them was a wonderful experience.

It’s in that very rare chance to run into someone whom you haven’t seen for more than ten years, in a place that you least expect it. In case you’re reading this, Van, it’s good to see you again. Mukhang pinakyaw n’yo yung nasa souvenir shop ng St. Peter’s basilica haha!

It’s in every little chance to see something good. The ice-cold water that comes from every fountain scattered around Rome, the amazed looks from locals and tourists alike every time I deploy my handy-dandy extendable camera monopod, and that nice feeling of not hearing a single car horn during the entire visit.

I had some share of unpleasantries, but not enough to deserve mention in this blog.

****

Well-being. Happiness. All subjective concepts that can be gauged by equally subjective measures.

President Cory ushered in a way of life that has been giving legitimacy to the kind of democracy we know now. This democracy has evolved – it’s crazy, and we’re not afraid to let the democratic institutions know how much we’re dissatisfied with them. But like an old car that has served us through the years, we don't see this particular democracy as something that needs to be replaced.

It just needs fixing.

When I went to Italy, I refused to be a tourist, but instead be a guest. With Joan’s help, I tried to learn some of the basic etiquette in this locality: I kept my voice down when speaking in Filipino or English, I greet shop and restaurant owners and staffs in Italian, never starting a conversation directly in English, and I try to be mindful where I point and shoot my camera.

The returns are subtle but measurable, and worth every bit of the effort --

A lovely smile, or an extra scoop of my favorite nocciola gelato.

You'll find more photos of my visit to Italy here. Ciao!

July 27, 2009

Space and time

… two unforgiving elements that seemed to have overwhelmingly ruled my life over the past two months.

As of blog time, it’s my eleventh and last day in Italy -- the longest and farthest I’ve spent away from home since I got married. Had my heart been a tad weaker, the separation anxiety pains I had before I left would have killed me.

But the good thing is that my travel home will begin two hours from now. Very soon those eleven days won’t mean much except for their wonderful memories.

I’ll be home soon.

Goodness. What have I been doing this July?

So many things to tell, but so little time. Will get back to that later. Right now it’s time to pack up for the long trip home.

Ciao!

***

Another piece of my generation's history became yet another memory.

Rest in peace, MJ.

The recent days have been so full of him – news, tributes, documentary specials – that it seems he is more alive now than he has ever been before he made his announcement of a comeback concert.

He is defying boundaries, again: neither black nor white, neither man nor woman, neither dead nor alive.

***

Some weeks ago, Joan and I went out with her Dubai-based relatives to inspect some model condominium units and houses in Makati and in Carmona, Cavite.

These "show units" were supposed to feature the best that the company has to offer when it comes to themes and space usage. If they were meant to dazzle, it worked -- on me, at least.

Looking back, however, there was something different about those model units. Most of them have glass walls.

Thus the illusion of space.

I wonder if these model units would still be as appealing once the glass walls were replaced by “real” walls.

***

Finding a little piece of nature in Metro Manila is always a treat.

The La Mesa Ecopark has picnic grounds, swimming pools, fitness trails, butterfly farm, boating and biking areas, a mini-jungle, and even facilities for wall-climbing, rappelling, and zip-lining. We tried the last one for a few seconds of thrill.

The place is huge. It’s hard to imagine something like that could be in Quezon City. With the right eye, the La Mesa Ecopark provides endless possibilities for nature photo shoots.

What a nice way to use space.

June 27, 2009

Over-react

As of blog time, I’m still feeling weak after a stressful day.

Writer’s block, inexplicable negative aura in the workplace, and now fluctuating cellphone signal wiped out my already depleted emotional reserves.

I’m used to the first two, they happen on a regular basis. The third one caught me off-guard today.

When you can’t reach someone who was trying to contact you just seconds ago, the mind could conjure the worse possible scenario.

Did the phone lose power? Maybe. Or was it turned off? Is the person okay? Is there an emergency?

When these questions go unanswered in the first sixty seconds, I’ll be a whirlwind in the next three minutes.

Mercifully, the signal came back after several agonizing minutes. Within that time I have dialed five numbers -- three of which did not answer, while the other referred me to the fifth person, who also came up blank.

Panic. It doesn’t happen to me often, but what an unpleasant feeling it is.

I have a tendency to over-react, it seems. In the end, I realize I have too many unfounded worries, leading to unnecessary drama. So sorry about that.

I’m glad everything’s okay.

June 03, 2009

Unfamiliar

What a month May was!

Just when I was giving up on my hopes of getting some summer sun and sand, along came two invitations – one from Joan’s office and one from my mother – that gave me my quota of sunburn for this year.

Last month also felt to me like Life just handed out a generous serving of lessons about myself and others.

Some lessons were old, most were unfamiliar.

All were welcome.

***

I joined Joan’s office outing to Adventure Beach at Subic last May 16. Having met her officemates only a few times in the past, my initial impression was that this was going to be a small-group affair.

The day before, however, the attendance was confirmed at an impressive forty plus persons, including kids.

With a group this big and without any reservation, the plan had to be simple: get to Subic as early as humanely possible (meaning, without waking up at 4am), and secure a spot.

Driving through Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) with the speedometer stuck at 40 kph wasn’t a very relaxing experience, but it did help a bit with our schedule: by sticking with whichever vehicle was going faster, we arrived at Subic early enough to secure two front-beach cottages at Adventure Beach.

The CA people was a crowd so different from any I’ve been with – maybe because the CA people themselves comprise only half of the group, while the rest consist of family, relatives, children, spouses, and friends.

Anyway, it was a fun day. I never realized Joan is such a strong rower at kayak. We could have gotten far off shore had it not been for the rumors among resort staffs earlier that a shark was sighted nearby. *shudder*

We unwittingly made a scene when I dropped off the kayak to dive. From the cottages where Joan’s officemates were watching, they thought we were having a fight, and that Joan threw me off the kayak and left me behind. Haha!

At least they know now that I have an addiction to swimming and skin diving.

We have a few more photos shared here.

***

When my brother and I arrived at Kalibo airport last May 23, we noticed another plane with an unfamiliar logo. We were told later that it was an international airline.

Wow! Kalibo has international flights na nga pala. I hope they’re screening passengers for Influenza A (H1N1).

Anyway, we went home to Batan to give support to our mother as she turns over leadership of the Batan Youth Circle (BYC) to the next set of officers during its 50th Anniversary.

It was an evening event, so my brother and I had time to visit a nearby beach resort for a swim.

On our way to the beach, I was reminded of how popular my brother is despite his long absence from our hometown. Among us siblings, he had the most years spent in this town, and has earned quite a reputation for himself. Like our mother, he is unmistakably a true-bloodied Batangnon.

The 50th Anniversary of the BYC celebration was a night of many firsts.

For the organization, it saw a fruitful year under the leadership of its first lady President. From what the locals are saying, it was also the first time a BYC anniversary had that much attendance.

The rest are the many things I am learning about my mother and my brother for the first time – the changes in my brother, and still the many stories about my mother that I’m hearing for the first time.

All good stuffs.

Some photos from that weekend are shared here.

***

I always seek out and embrace the unfamiliar, learning as much as I can about others and myself.

But at times I get reckless, ignoring the warnings in my head as well as from those who know better. At times I end up revealing too much of my self, exposing things that I myself am unfamiliar with.

Emotionally unguarded.

This is what I am.

But hey, you learn something everyday. Cheers!

May 02, 2009

Unaware

Had it not for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)), I wouldn't have noticed I was driving faster than I usually do in EDSA.

The reason: the speedometer got stuck at 40 kph.

My peripheral vision of the dashboard was unconsciously telling my brain to tell my foot to push down on the accelerator.

But when you're going faster than the last southbound MRT running full-speed in between stations, you can be sure you're hitting anywhere over 60 kph.

Too fast for my usual pace in the usually crowded EDSA.

The busted speedometer has since been quietly messing with my head, subtly bringing out the monster driver in me.

I better get it fixed before it's too late. Haha!

***

Watching myself in any form of audio-visual recording always creeps me out.

The voice pitch is too high, the posture too... weird, and the person looking so different from the one I see in the mirror.

To some extent, even photos have the same effect. I recently browsed through our pre-nuptial photos, as well as other old photos (oh the memories!) again, and felt that same eerie feeling.

Sometimes it really does take a third person's perspective to know some little known facts about yourself.

It's the same for the way we act. At least once in your life, someone will tell you what you need to know about yourself.

Bless the Simons in all of us.

***

It’s been raining over the past month, but none seem to compare to the one that came late last week.

This one arrived with such refreshing force that it made the air a lot more breathable and a whole lot lighter that I couldn’t help but smile – however toxic the days have been, and will be in the months to come.

It was the rain that I’ve been waiting for. The one I look forward to feeling again.

Please be here soon.

***

I’m again enjoying that delightfully scary feeling of uncertainty in today’s Pacquiao-Hatton fight.

After watching the pre-fight documentary, “Pacquiao-Hatton 24/7” – which was superbly done, by the way – I’m convinced it’s going to be everyone’s fight.


As of blog time, I just heard over the radio the surprising win of Pacquiao. Just two rounds.

Moral lesson?

None for the boxers. They are both great fighters.


Only for their trainors...


Less talk, more work.

Mabuhay!

April 09, 2009

Bubble

Making bubbles is quite simple: just mix a soapy solution, then use a ring or tube to blow nice bubbles of different sizes.

As a kid, for me these bubbles were magic and happiness that live on till the last of them burst into nothingness.

When I learned that by mixing crushed gumamela leaves into the solution will extend the bubbles' lifespan twice or thrice longer than usual, I considered it nothing less than a miracle.

A little more time of happiness. A few more seconds of magic.

Thanks to a simple ingredient.

***

Not many are born into a life of magic. For most, everyday life can be uneventful, if not plain boring.

But every single one of us has ways of trying to make sense of this existence, to find meaning.

To find magic.

At times, we have to fight for it.

And just like bubbles, all will have to come to an end.

But with some effort and life's simple ingredients, we make it last.

Beyond nothingness.

***

I am officially saying goodbye to my Nikon Coolpix 2100, which accounts for over 90% of all the photos I've taken since 2004.

Last week I went hunting for my next camera, and thanks to Joan's proficiency with web browsing using her cellphone, she gave me crucial info for my last minute decision.

I now have a Sony Cyber-shot W170 in my bag.

The new camera came in just the right time. If I play my cards right, I'm up for a major travel a few months from now.

Wish me luck.

March 17, 2009

Amazed

Boredom.

I have secretly dreaded this word since I took on a bit of mentoring role at work. I must have seen one too many colleague complaining of boredom just before they filed their resignation.

But it occurred to me that I owe a lot to boredom: it was what spurred me to look for other things to do within the organization, eventually creating a new group (even if it’s a one-man group haha) and another slash in my job title.

And thanks to boredom, I realized that if I say it repeatedly with that certain tone, my favorite name for a girl sounds like that of a porn star’s if coupled with my surname.

Darn. Haha!

Who’s afraid of boredom? After all, it’s what makes us human and not plain automatons.

***

Not so long ago, matters about virtual online gaming life crossing over the real one were usually limited to light topics like this one:

You know you’ve been playing too much MMORPG when…
- You think you can teleport or warp to get home after work.
- You start referring to your clothes and belongings as equipment.
- You challenge someone "PVP na lang" instead of "suntukan na lang".
- You yell “pa heal!” when you get hurt and "pa buff!" when you're tired.
- Your answering machine message says "AFK".
- You give your family a guild or clan name.
- You hit a cat with your car and you go back to see if there were any item drops.
- You sit down on the ground when you’re tired.

The online community has gone a long way since then. Right now I’m watching a channel on TV which features events and activities of one of the country’s leading game publishers. Amazing how the country's top gamers have been elevated to celebrity status, and online gaming has taken on a real, breathing, and dynamic lifestyle.

So real that it’s found its way to the local courts.

Thanks to my wife and her friends in the legal circle, I recently heard an account of a gamer complaining to a city prosecutor about his online character getting hacked and stripped of all its valuable equipment.

By sheer coincidence, on that same day I received a text message from our PerfectWorld clan marshall informing us that one of our officers was victimized by a hacker.

The clan officers recorded the in-game conversation between the hacker and our clan members through a series of screenshots as the hacker took control of our officer’s character.

It was eerie reading how our officer struggled to regain control of his character – two different persons with totally different ways of speaking (or typing, to be more accurate) alternately emerging from just one character.

It was like watching an exorcism in progress, and it was enough to send a certain chill down my spine.

The hacker got away with valuables and rare in-game items that took a lot of hard work, long hours, and, of course, real money to acquire.

There are people out there who can really pull off this sort of heist, and I doubt there are enough legal and institutional measures in place to catch them.

***

I’ve been asking too many whys lately – from the latest development in the “Nicole”–Daniel Smith saga, to how I feel, think, and react to certain aspects of life.

Resolving the latter on my own is easy, but my lifelong (adult life, that is) habit of approaching any research question by triangulation compels me to seek answers from others.

I may, at times, get tired of reality, but I doubt if I will ever lose this wonder. Believe it or not, it takes so little to amaze me – so little that I sometimes ask myself, “Where in the freakin’ world have I been?”

I’m just grateful I’m blessed to have met more evolved versions of myself, people who’ve been there and done that, and good folks who have the patience to listen to my questions and bear my naïveté.

Thank you.



Omg... so emo. Again. Haha!

March 06, 2009

Sadness

What a sad day this turned out to be.

The only Pinoy rap artist that I listen to passed away.

Later, one of the Techies texted me that she is resigning, effective in two weeks.

Sigh...

March 01, 2009

Closer to reality

"Killer".

Many may have learned this game in grade school -- during recess, lunch break, in the schoolbus, or in any crowd that has run out of anything else to do.

The game's rules are quite simple: the roles of a killer (the one who gets all the fun), a police (the one who stops the fun by catching the killer), a doctor (the one who keeps the fun going by reviving the murdered players, unless he himself gets killed), a judge (the one who, if still alive after the killer has been caught, gets to have fun punishing the killer), and as many civilians (just meat for the killer, and for the doctor's reviving pleasure) as needed will be raffled to players. The act of killing or reviving would be by a pre-agreed gesture, usually by winking or kindat.

There are many variations of this rule, but from grade school up to just a few days ago, I have always played the version where the killer could never kill the police.

Last Friday, my officemates and I played this game at Pork Barrel, and I was introduced to a rather different set of rules: a) the police can be killed; and b) the police can make the "arrest" only if s/he catches the killer in the act of killing others.

The new rules made a world of difference. No longer can the police boldly stare at anyone, wait for that fateful killer wink, then make the arrest -- s/he is as easy a target as anyone else.

Also, the killer can now wipe out everyone -- a perfect kill, as I would call it.

I admit that cops are not invulnerable the way the game has treated them for as long as I can remember. At least, that night, I played an old game that suddenly took a wide step towards reality.

A part of me, though, would also see that night as a case of misplaced empowerment.

Anyway, our little Friday group is still in a quest to fine-tune this game.

***

The late night news flashed a report about a man getting mugged by a group of minors. The TV crew even caught on camera the group of youngster casually jogging away from the man they've just robbed and beaten to a bloody pulp.

The disturbing part was how the barangay official officials admitted that such incidents have been the modus operandi of youngsters in their area, and that these kids, being minors, usually go scott-free.

A certain law has empowered kids like them. Unfortunately, the same law may make it hard for the poor, beaten man to find justice.

***

We don't allow misplaced power. We either bestow it, or willingly place ourselves in its embrace. Those who rightfully have it also have a responsibility, like what good ol' Uncle Ben always say.

***
I had too much Coke tonight.

Next time I will really carry antihistamines with me, so I could enjoy as much crabs and shrimps as I used to.

Cheers!

February 26, 2009

Old and new

The kids at our street looked like they were about to play tumbang-preso – they were holding thick, adult-size rubber slippers. But when they started throwing them wildly at their target – a plastic water bottle – and hitting the parked cars instead, I was convinced that their game was nothing like tumbang preso.

Another group was gathered at the other side of the street, holding what looked like trumpo. But just like the other group, there was no rule, much more precision, with the way these kids were playing. In their hands, the traditional trumpo soon became dangerous projectiles that wreaked havoc to properties and even posed threats of injury to passers-by.

So, this is how our native games have evolved.

How sad. And scary.

At least now I know where the small scratches and dents at our gate are coming from.

***

Speaking of evolution, I have recently earned two new titles at the office by virtue of the changes I went through.

I owe the first title to my age, which is naturally beyond any debate, while the second nickname I earned by the change in my office lifestyle.

Oh well. Good or bad, change is how you make of it.

***

Here I go again.

Three things I think I'm starting to get addicted to:

ZX Online. Though not as compelling as Perfect World when it comes to storyline and overall gameplay (plus the characters are not as customizable), ZX Online totally spoils the player with its auto-pathing feature. It’s Man-Nature Combo is also a blessing for AFK (away from keyboard) players like myself.

Facebook. Need I explain? Okay... Dungeons and Dragons Tiny Adventures! Haha! ^^

Crispy bacon liempo, and all the good feelings that go with it at Tomato Kick along Maginhawa Street, Teacher’s Village, Diliman.

Cheers!

February 16, 2009

Transparency

If there's one game I totally suck at, it would be poker.

My face has been wired to show too much emotion -- all the time, more than what's intended and appropriate.

It follows that for a face to be such a dead give-away, the brain behind it has to be as equally inept in keeping information to itself.

I've been thankful for the tall blue dividers surrounding my work area -- just staying behind them has saved me and others a lot of trouble.

The words I utter and write, however, are a different matter. Haha!

I feel blessed for having just enough facility to express myself, but I feel cursed for my skills in gatekeeping.

Over three decades, and still a work in progress at something so basic. Pur pur pur.

***

(an entry from Samahang Walang Sabado...)

I'd love to think that there's always a reason when things don't go as planned. It may not always be better than what's intended, but a good reason nonetheless.

When the much-awaited Puerto Gallera Techies trip failed to launch a few weeks ago despite careful planning, I was ready to believe there's a good reason why we're missing the chance to enjoy a relaxing weekend at the beach before the heart-attack pace of the year begins.

Thanks to the fun-loving souls who refused to let that Friday night pass by without something to make up for the lost Galera getaway, we ended up in Pork Barrel along Kalayaan Avenue.

The place may not have the sun, sand, and sea we long for, but it has good-looking service crew, nice drinking ambiance, and, as far as I know, the cheapest beer in that part of Sikatuna Village.

And for that few moments of transparency, I say the sun, sand, and sea can wait.

I'm sure we'll get that dream getaway, soon. Cheers!

February 01, 2009

Trivial

My steady diet of Reader's Digest in my entire adult life has supplied me with bits and pieces of facts, both big and small. Thanks to this, I'm drawn to perspectives that sometimes border on trivial -- if not utterly useless.

January has been a crazy, crazy month. I've heard of so many cases of emotions running too high, irregular monthly periods (my wife included), and people getting way too sentimental (myself included).

There are better and more sound explanations to all these, of course. A friend of mine, for instance, pointed to how people affect each other in certain ways that eventually lead to a certain reaction.

But nooo! I have to blame the sun and the moon and their combined gravitational pull for all these emotional and physiological joyride.

I'm not entirely proud of it: using trivial facts as answers to almost everything when the truth for every action and reaction just lie within me -- waiting for me to reach in and acknowledge it.

I would, in my good time.

But then again, maybe I already have.

Oh well.

January 17, 2009

Break

It's been a while since I browsed a certain directory in my computer. This one houses my unfinished art gifts, scanned sketches, snapshots, and drafts of blog entries about things I wish I had more time to think and write about...

Like trusting your instincts.

Yesterday I was invited by some of my officemates to have dinner at Sarah's.

In my dictionary, the word Sarah's could mean any or all of the following: liquor, pulutan, relaxation, conversation, fun, and/or refuge.

It readily occurred to me that someone needed a drink, and later on learned that it was to soothe a broken heart.

The person in need of soothing was not the one who invited me.

I hesitated. My instinct told me that for this level of emotional sharing, someone like me -- the most senior in terms of rank at work (and, technically, age. haha!) -- would create a certain degree of awkwardness in the group.

But heaven knows I needed to unwind, too, so I got selfish and tagged along.

What followed was a delightful display of my theory proving itself: some people find it difficult to step out of the office walls, even just for an evening.

I had a good time. I always do every time I visit Sarah's, regardless of the company.

It got much better for my officemates -- after I left.

I was right.

Sorry guys. That's five hours I kept you from unbridled emotional sharing and fun. ^^'

January 08, 2009

Last days of 2008 (part 1)

Thoughts captured by my Tungsten TX that gallantly stayed powered up during the long holiday break, even without its charger and USB cable. What a dependable little gadget.


The days leading to Christmas were, as usual, toxic at the workplace.

It has always felt like we have to earn our vacation, and considering the length of the holiday break ahead and the deadlines that await us, it’s going to take a lot of work to earn this one.

But I was able to keep my flight schedule intact this time, thanks to everyone’s hard work (I believe we share the same plans of spending a worry-free vacation), and Joan, who booked our flights early on in September.

My sincerest thanks to the two new members of Techies who made our lives easier beginning second half of the year: Anne, for doing most -- if not all -- of the hard work in the project that is legendary for driving any Techie to the brink; and Liz, for taking some of the tech-related stuffs off my hands.

And thanks to Mae and Liz for the last two media releases of 2008 -- it felt good seeing the stories at the frontpage of newspapers that manage to reach our rural hometown.

Looking back at a not-so-good news...

The segment of the year-end report by a TV network featuring my discussion on one of the regular political survey findings of SWS was taken out by producer. About a week before the airing, she wrote me an email informing me about the omission, and apologizing for the inconvenience.

After three postponements in the taping (and the extra days I have to wear smart casuals haha), that 30-minute interview will never see the light of day. *sigh*

I'm just glad I haven't told my mother about the interview. She's got the most active "text life" I've ever seen for someone of her age -- she could spread the word to hundreds and hundreds of teachers and friends across the region in no time. *shudder*

Anyway, at least the public didn’t have to see my haggard face on TV. No amount of studio make-up could conceal the fatigue in my horrible mug back then.

I wasn’t the only one running short on spirit and temper – the pressure of deadlines was eating away at our reserves (pitpitan ng bayag, ‘ika nga), slowly dashing out my hopes of the Techies redeeming its glory at the Christmas Party Presentation Contest. Finding the time and the right mood (yes, mood!) for us to rehearse for the contest was almost impossible.

It’s been years since the Techies won the coveted title of being Champions in the Christmas Party Presentation Contest, with 2007 seeing our worst defeat by far: we ended in seventh place, out of seven competing groups.

Oh, the humiliation!

But my prayers were answered when somehow the Techies pulled off a decent number on the night of December 18, and ended up in second place, besting six other groups.

We’re not the champions, but it was more than I wished for. THANK YOU.

Thanks to this year’s Mas-Mas Committee –Anne, Ched, Liz, Micko, and Pierre – for putting together the party. Here’s wishing you all a fruitful and fulfilling time with the station.

Thanks to our surprise judges, Ate Ana and Diana. The outcome of the contest reminded me of what the competition was like when I joined the station waaay back: more than just dazzle, a presentation has to have substance.

And thanks to everyone for such a wonderful year, and for the equally great way to end it! The Best Costume award may have eluded me again, but at least I know better now than to choose a sidekick/bestfriend character to cosplay. Sanosuke Sagara is a fascinating character and definitely one of my favorites, but cosplaying someone who is barely known among the typical NGO crowd (trust me, I surveyed) was just not worth the trouble.

Next time, I'll stick to someone classic, maybe someone like Son Goku.

Cheers!