Friday, August 15, 2008

22 and counting

Hi guys! You’re cordially invited to my advanced birthday celebration tomorrow at Lamesa Grill in SM Northwing, 7:00 PM. Please don’t spread the word. Limited seats only.

I’m now officially and irrevocably 22 years old. And unlike before when you really had to torture me before I would admit I’m older, this time I calmly handled with poise what others would consider as tragedy. As a matter of fact, I welcomed my birthday as soon as the clock struck twelve. I celebrated my birthday a day in advance. Instead of 08/09/08, I celebrated it on 08/08/08 – not that I’m superstitious. But it was the perfect day to celebrate, what with the UP Cebu Cookout rocking at the UP Cebu Grounds. The few chosen guests who were close friends, my brother, and his girlfriend and soon-to-be-wife were all available that day. And that was a Friday. What more could the birthday girl ask for?

I chose to celebrate my birthday through a nice dinner. Celebrating it on a beach with family and friends seemed impossible with the erratic schedules my call center friends follow, so dinner was the next best thing. I chose Lamesa Grill on impulse because I started “planning” 5 days before my actual birthday. But I knew I made the right decision when we checked out the place. I totally fell in love with it! The shell lamps that give a soft glimmer to the dark night were a beauty. The bamboo blinds and the wooden fixtures that adorned the place gave it a Filipino accent. I certainly didn’t mind having to trade the beach for a place such as that. It’s a pity I didn’t take more pictures of the place but I swear on my knees, everyone should try it out. The food is fantastic. The service is superb. The crew kept asking if we enjoyed the food and if we needed anything else. Actually, their customer relations skills were excellent, even short of them spoon feeding us. It’s a bit pricey but it is just lovely.

You be the judge if we committed gluttony that night. Our table was laden with pinatayong manok, pork belly, lad apahap kinulob (a kind of fish – don’t ask me further, we ordered it because Mark was recovering from skin allergy), sinigang na salmon head, mixed seafood ala gambas, seafood rice, leche flan, and buko macapuno rumble. But is this gluttony? We were just enjoying good food. I would have wanted to take pictures of all the stuff we ate that night but I didn’t want to look like a total nerd, going around the table and taking pictures of every dish served.

The crew of Lamesa Grill found out that it was my birthday celebration so they embarrassed – I mean, surprised me by singing a rather loud Happy Birthday song and gave me a cassava cake with a candle on top. Awww, that was really sweet. Joining me that night were Mark, Arrah, April, my brother Amiel, and his girlfriend Michelle. I have also invited Phrixel but due to last minute work delays, he wasn’t able to catch up. I honestly wanted to invite my blockmates Noreen, Krishna, Ivy, Delna, Yarry, and the others but my budget was not so accommodating. I owe you something guys. I’ll make up for it someday.

After dinner, we headed to UP Cebu to party. It was the annual UP Cebu Cookout but what made it extra special is that it was the Centennial Cookout. I enjoyed the performances and though there were areas that could be improved, it was all in all a great Cookout.
At the UP Grounds, I fell in love with Refrain (everybody did, too – or all the girls did) and saw my old friends and schoolmates in UP. I spent most of the time talking, actually. And while I ignored the pasimple hints that I should give a treat, they were nice enough to greet me at 12m.n.

The main attraction of the event was the performance of Manila-based Slapshock. While they performed and everybody flocked near the stage, my friends and I kept talking while one even slept! Pasaway. And in the middle of their performance, the sleeping Jason Baguia woke up and told us he was going home. Okay, I thought that was enough for the day. It was 2AM and I myself could barely keep my eyes open. I decided to go home, too. I still have to work the next day.

Though tired and sleepy, I had to stay awake for one more ceremony before dozing off: opening my gifts. Much love and thank you to Mark and Arrah who surprised me with presents. Mark even tried to throw off suspicion by telling me through text that the traffic was almost impossible to deal with and that he had no time to pick up a present for me. But when he showed up at the restaurant, he was carrying this Blue Magic paper bag. Mark gave me a very cute pink teddy bear named Monina. It smelled nice too. I had to keep it in the closet because I’m pretty sure if it stays on my bed, the pink color would magically turn grey after quite some time. Arrah gave me an original cd of my latest obsession – Daughtry! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I loved it.

Presents or no presents, I loved every minute of my birthday celebration. Despite sleeping late, I am thankful I still woke up just in time the next day to prepare myself for work. My officemates never found out it was my birthday until I told them late afternoon. But that’s a different story.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reunion and Retreat

Call it perfect timing that two of my batch mates and dear friends came to Cebu for a visit within two months. One of them, Athea, left the country six years ago when her whole family migrated to Alaska. Raissa, on the other hand, moved to Iloilo while we were still in first year high school.

I don’t know how it is with other batches but ours is a closely-knit one. Blame it on the numbers and the years we spent fighting and caring for each other. We were probably 45 when we graduated. Roughly 90% received a Loyalty Award, which means we’ve been together since we were still peeing in our pants. To date, we occasionally meet to eat out, catch up with other batch mates who aren’t Cebu-based, drink from dusk ‘til dawn, sing to our hearts’ desire, talk nonstop excitedly, and simply relish each other’s company. And those are exactly what we did when Athea and Raissa dropped by.

To sum it all up, I had fun. Who wouldn’t? I guess this text message from, coincidentally a batch mate gives the exact reason why: Your college friends know who you are. But your high school friends know why.

In less than a month, I’m turning 22. Like all my other birthdays in the past, I look forward to it with much anticipation, anxiety, sureness, and uncertainty. Unlike my last birthday however, I felt that I lived most if not all, my 21st year living it – taking life as it comes and never being too busy to miss a lunch date with a good friend or just laze around on a Sunday morning enjoying coffee. I’ve experienced being overly stressed out in the past that there wasn’t just time for me to steal for myself or for my family. Perhaps that was one of the main reasons why I felt like I’ve lived for so long in this world. And I don’t want that to happen. Life is too short to not live it the way it should be lived.

So, as I was saying, it’s going to be my birthday in a few weeks. I must have a little hangover from the hospital because I’m eager to make an escape during my special day. Right now, I’m dreaming of the beach or the mountains with food, music, and friends. But as much as I would like it to be the reality, I can only drool over it. Apparently, the hospital experience dug a hole into my resources. And unfortunately, my birthday falls on a work day. What else is there to say but, “Let’s wait and see.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Slow down, you’re going too fast

For the second time in five years, I was admitted at a hospital in Cebu. The diagnosis: classical dengue fever. For once, I was relieved that the cause of my latest distress in life was a blood-sucking Aedes aegypti and not because I couldn’t keep myself from chomping down contaminated food. The first time I was ever admitted at the hospital was when I was a freshie in college. I was admitted due to typhoid fever. Then on the summer before my senior year, I got mild amoebiasis (and nearly got hospitalized). Geez, bacteria love me so much they find a way to invade my system through the food I eat.

Anyway, what’s more important is that I’m well now and back to work after six days of bed rest, fluids, and anti-inflammatory pills (for the rashes). Although I feel a little bad of having to leave work for a couple of days, I somehow felt that it was a welcome respite for me. I’m not glad that I got sick. But boy was I glad to have taken a break from work. Some of my friends who visited me at the hospital actually envied me and would gladly take my place at the hospital bed. But well, I wouldn’t give up my slot either. Except for the incessant poking of needles in my arm to draw blood samples, everything else made me feel like I’m on vacation. Kudos to the hospital and its staff! If only the hospital was tucked somewhere in the mountains or near the beach, it would have been the perfect escape.

On a more serious note, being confined at the hospital gave me a good time for contemplation and reflection. I couldn’t help it, you know. My bosses were really understanding enough not to pester me with work and would rather check whether I was fine. So I had all the time mostly to myself. And I wondered what could have I possibly done this time to be in this situation. The answer: none. I certainly didn’t want to be bitten by a dengue-carrying mosquito in the first place and I could have gotten it in a lot of possible places – the boarding house, the office, the mall… But among all the people in all those places, it chose to bite me. Why me, I asked. Perhaps, I needed a little jolt.

For me, it was a natural roadblock. Unexpected, sometimes unwanted but almost always desperately needed. You see, most of the time we want to take full control of our life – driving it at topmost speed and making the most out of the little time we are given. And that’s not bad. It’s just that sometimes, we get so caught up with our job and our everyday struggles that we tend to miss the very little but very important details in life that actually matter – family, friends, love, and even life itself. In other words, it is simply life’s way of saying, “Slow down, you’re going too fast.” Life must have, at first, tried to warn me about it but I didn’t listen or I was too busy to even hear what it was saying. So it deliberately stepped on the brakes so I would stop. Stop and breathe. Stop and savor every single moment. Stop. And start all over again.

So today, I am back at the wheel, coursing through uncharted paths. I make right turns and sometimes bump into the wrong ones. Sometimes, I drive back. Sometimes, I speed up. But I’m fervently hoping this time, I’ll know when I need to stop.

Monday, June 16, 2008

meme from Tim

A friend from college Tim tagged me for a meme. So as a courtesy to the friend I haven’t seen for a long time, I’m involving myself in the tradition of answering it and passing it on to others.

If you are to leave an important memory, what would that be? You can answer the question either by posting a picture, a video, writing a poem or whatever you think would best describe the memory that you want to share.

A family picture taken three years ago, this picture was taken by my trusty Nikon manual SLR (single lens reflex) camera at our living room in Leyte after attending Mass on New Year’s Day. I was the photographer. I had everyone positioned, adjusted the aperture and the shutter speed, and set the timer. Then I rushed to my place and put on my biggest smile.

Like Tim, I am often stricken with nostalgia especially now that I am living on my own alone and at my own expense. My brother Amiel just moved out last week to live with his pregnant girlfriend and soon-to-be wife. My parents are in Leyte. My other brother Jake and his family are also in Leyte but in a different house. I just miss those days when we are all living in one house together, even if it means quarreling like cats and mice with my brothers. It would feel nice to see everybody you love after a stressful day at work and eat dinner together as one big family. But right now, I just have to accept that this is the way it’s supposed to be. It would give each and everyone of us the space to grow and the opportunity to be better and more responsible persons.

Copy the entire list and add your name below the person who tagged you. Then tag at least 5 friends (But you can tag as many as you like) and visit their blog to let them know you tagged them.

Bloggers who shared their important memories 1.) Kaptyurd 2.) and so I am 3.) Princess Vien 4.) Princess Bela 5.) Our Journey to Life 6.) My Planet Purple 7.) Women Xplore 8.) Crazy, Happy Arevalos 9.) MEComposing 10.) Hope This Helps You 11.) Raising Riel 12.) Chismis Today 13.) Dakilang Nomad 14.) Bits of Chocolate 15.) Add your site here…

I'm tagging Noreen , Inez , and Francis . (Pasaway! I’m passing it on to three people only.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Do cats get claustrophobic too?

I have an uncanny knack of making feral cats my pets, especially if they exhibit outward signs of human sociability. I always pounce on that weakness. For instance, my first-ever pet cat Clovis was a wild cat which I slowly lured to domestication by appealing to its voracious appetite. The others that followed were drawn by basically the same motivation. But not Dr. Jinx.

Or maybe he was when our friendship started. The memory of our first meeting was lost in the blurry of my college years. All I remember was that as soon as I stepped on the topmost rung of the staircase that leads to the door of my boarding house, he sprinted towards me, meowing like crazy, and rubbed his white and orange head against my legs. I was a bit taken aback by his aggressiveness. Never have I encountered such behavior unless the cat and I are already friends, which we weren’t. But ever the diplomatic person who will not thwack any unfamiliar cat’s butt, I sweetly said hello. I could not remember if I shared some leftovers that night but my brief greeting further goaded him to come near me. The next day, he was at his antics again and this time, he was clever enough to get ahead of me in entering the room. Up to the present, I wrestle with him at the door as he futilely attempts to bypass my towering frame. I think his goal in life is to just set his furry paws in our cozy room.

Anyway, since it has been his habit to hang out in our room, I let him indulge in this desire every once in a while. In fact, I let him sleep there. And so far, he hasn’t chewed on my toes or peed on my shoes yet so it’s fine with me. One day, while I was watching a movie from the computer, a small rat tiptoed across the computer table right in front of me. I wanted to scream but the image of the rat jumping at me and landing right into my mouth shut me up. As I found out later from my brother, the rat George has been disturbing us for quite some time. (Yes, my brother and I name our mammal friends. The only creatures I don’t give names are cockroaches because one, they’re the grossest things on earth. Two, they’re not mammals. And lastly, they’re not our friends.) I decided it was payback time. I let Dr. Jinx inside the room and waited. I was about to drift off to slumber when I heard a crash. (By the way, I named the cat Dr. Jinx because I feel that our electric fan is at the brink of extinction every time he roughly brushes his head against it, as if he really plans to jinx it up.) Sure enough, George’s tail was wiggling like a lollipop outside Dr. Jinx’s mouth. Eeewww. Well, at least I’m happy and Dr. Jinx is happy. That’s all that matters. And I thought that was the end of the Georges.

One night, I was stripped down at the bathroom ready for a ritual evening bath, humming to my heart’s content when a George lurking somewhere popped its small pointed head and ran around the bathroom in squares. I instinctively jumped on the toilet seat and my soft humming evolved to natural screaming. I got dressed quickly, locked the bathroom door behind me, and called on Dr. Jinx for help. For some weird reason, Dr. Jinx was scared of the bathroom. No matter how many times I tried to shove him towards it, he would always find a way to evade the damn bathroom. Unmoved, I dragged him to the bathroom and locked him inside. As soon as I closed the door, Dr. Jinx started whimpering! Jinxie, find George and eat him alive, I pleaded through the door. The whimpering continued. Then I heard a scratch. I thought he finally caught George. Imagine my astonishment when I opened the bathroom door and saw Dr. Jinx, not on the floor but at the top of the thin laundry line wobbling for dear life with wide eyes. I could not imagine how he got up there, considering that the laundry line was way over my head. Being trapped in a bathroom seemed to pump some adrenaline into the poor cat. Seriously, are cats capable of getting claustrophobia? Anyway, I got Dr. Jinx out of the bathroom and forcefully shooed George out. (while shrieking, of course) The moment George skittered on the room premises, Dr. Jinx grabbed him and chomped him down. But the whole ordeal left indelible memories on Dr. Jinx’s system. After that night, he never dared go anywhere near the bathroom door and would rather lie down at the bottom of the double-decked bed near my shoes. No George has been pestering us since then and I’m almost looking forward to meeting another George. Why? Well, he might be the key to finding out another one of Dr. Jinx’s well-kept secrets.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Are you the perfect Pinay?

“Paglaki ko, gusto ko malaki suso ko…kasi yan po ang maganda at hinahangaan.” (When I grow up, I want my breasts to be big because that is what is beautiful and admired.)

My jaw dropped, nearly down to my knees. Although I did not hear the child say it herself, it was both a shocking and an enlightening piece of statement for me, for the host, and for the guest. I watched an episode of Media in Focus on ANC two weeks ago. Hosted by Luchi Cruz-Valdez, she talked about “The Perfect Pinay” with several guests from the media, most notably Emily Abrera, the incumbent Chairman Emeritus of advertising agency McCann Erickson Philippines. Abrera related to Valdez the results of a research they did on little kids aged five to seven. They asked the kids a lot of questions, one of which was what they want to be when they grow up. That was when a young girl dropped the bomb at their feet.

What the little girl said was not even close to what she should have answered but it definitely gave us an inkling as to how advertising has corrupted the most innocent of minds. We are raising a generation that is heavily exposed to mass media advertising. Television, print, radio, and the web all carry different kinds of messages that a young person absorbs, consciously or unconsciously each day. Due to the recurring nature of mass media, messages are reinforced, causing people to believe in them after several constant repetitions.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but in reality, people generally have a common notion of what is beautiful and what is not. One of my teachers used to joke around saying, “If you don’t have good self-esteem, don’t look at the magazines. You’ll only get frustrated.” The beautiful image, the image of a “perfect Pinay” always presented by media is one who is fair-skinned, slim, booby, and flawless. No wonder people spend billions and billions of money on liposuction, breast enhancements, whitening products, and slimming pills just to fit the high standards of beauty that media has set. What the people don’t know and we probably never will is how much enhancement is being done behind the glamorous commercials and photo shoots. We will never know, for instance, how much of the pictures we see on the glossies are edited with photoshop or how the models were positioned against the camera to hide the wrong curves. So you see, the very industry that tries to promote the concept of a “perfect Pinay” is struggling to meet the standards of beauty, as well.

What I just don’t like about this whole distorted image of beauty is its effect on a child, like the child who was the inspiration for this article. Children are still at their formative years, trying to establish their own identity – trying to establish the kind of person they want to be. Exposing them to the image of beauty like the one currently projected by mainstream media will affect the way they want their own image to be. I wonder if in the future, we’ll see more people looking like they just popped out of a magazine. Even so, this view of beauty is so superficial I think God would complain that this is not the way He envisioned beauty to be. For such a deep word such as that being equated to merely being white, slim, booby, and flawless – oh my, we have a LOT of serious work to do.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Miley Cyrus brouhaha

It’s not one of those art versus pornography debates. Posing bareback while clutching a piece of silk cloth to cover the rest of her body, 15-year-old teen icon Miley Cyrus is a far cry from the sweet and innocent character she plays in Disney channel’s top-rating Hannah Montana. Since 2006, Cyrus has been hitting the boob tube with her portrayal of ordinary girl-next-door Miley Stewart who has a secret life of a pop star in the person of Hannah Montana. The show was an instant blockbuster, thrusting Cyrus further into the limelight. Last year, Forbes named her as one of the top 20 earners under 25 and today, she has earned two multi-platinum records. But along with her rise to fame comes an expected price: a bout of controversies.

In her case, all of them were controversial photos that spread through the internet. There are pictures of Cyrus sharing what seems to be licorice with a female friend, causing rumors of her being a lesbian. Then there are pictures of her wearing underwear with pouting, seductive lips. There are also pictures of her and her boyfriend kissing. The most recent addition to her growing collection of controversial photos was the bareback one that Vanity Fair released, stirring the sensibilities of a culture that witnessed similar precedents. Parents were a bit shocked and grew concerned of their little girls aged 12 to 18, who adore and emulate Cyrus short of kissing her toes. Will Cyrus continue to be a “good” role model? Will she follow the career trajectory of former teen stars Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears?

I started watching Hannah Montana last year and I enjoyed the show for its wholesome and comical nature, which makes it very lovable indeed. Had I been younger, I would have worshipped Cyrus like a goddess. However, I’m way over my teen years and all this hullabaloo over one photo doesn’t affect me at all. In fact, I love the photo. Very artistic and beautiful. Question is, do teenagers think the same way?

After the controversy broke out, I decided to watch Hannah Montana a little more closely. Like most people, the young can easily fall into the trap of thinking that the actress in real life is the same person they see and adore on television. They forget that they are two different persons existing in two different worlds of television and reality. It doesn’t help that the character’s name Miley is the real life actress’ name and the father of the character is played by her real life dad Billy Ray Cyrus. How can we tell the difference between the Miley on TV and the Miley in reality?

I may never know the real Miley Cyrus – the one without the lights, the camera, and the heavy makeup. If the Vanity Fair issue gave away a part of who she really is, I certainly don’t mind. After all, she is 15 and counting. We cannot hold her back from growing up into a more mature person. Whoever she is, I will still love the Miley on TV. If she graduates from her teenybopper role and start taking on more mature characters, well, that’s a different story.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My little piece of paradise

So far, it has been one literal hell of a summer. Paranoid over coming down with heat stroke and dehydration, I have put into practice all the scientific and the unorthodox ways of coping with too much heat. That includes guzzling more than a dozen glasses of water per day, cutting my hair short, opening all windows in our living room, putting the air conditioning unit to maximum level, sweeping the floor of my bedroom every after 3 or 4 hours (I feel the room getting hotter when it’s messy. And if my parents are lucky, I would include their room in my cleaning agenda for the day.), wearing sunglasses inside the house, occasionally popping my head inside the freezer, and a whole lot more. Trust me, if the heat goes on longer, I swear I’m going to go nuts.

At times like these, all I really want is to be in this place – a little piece of paradise on earth.

This picture was taken on Black Saturday last Holy Week. Our clan was capping off the weeklong reunion, as we always do, on a small resort in Barili, Cebu. While the others were busy cooking food, eating, playing volleyball or mahjong, swimming, and singing (courtesy of the very trusty karaoke machine), I wandered off for a while and surveyed the beach. There, I found my place.

It was a shady spot where I could feel the soft billowing of the cool breeze, hear the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks, and watch the blue sea stretching out to forever. I couldn’t resist the urge to bask in a glorious moment like that. I took my towel, spread it out like a mat, and sat cross-legged with a book, a pen, and a little notebook on my lap. I plugged some good music to my ears, drowning the sound of merrymaking in the background. Then, I got lost. Lost in all the beauty unfolding before me. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, slowly, painstakingly…like I was never going to breathe again. In my mind, I devoured the richness of life and pondered on the splendor of nature, making me realize I’m so lucky to be alive – to be able to see and feel how everything around me lives as well. It was, truly, a magical moment.

I would have stayed there the whole afternoon but you all know how our relatives are – always asking what we are up to. Turned out, while I was lost in my own world, the people from the real world were looking for me. Soon, I was tapped back to the present with them approaching and asking me, “What are you doing?” I just smiled and said, “Nothing.” Then I winked at them. If only they knew where I’ve been to.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Goodbye, Captain

I vividly recall the day Captain came into my life. The midday sun was scorching hot and we were in my high school Science laboratory working on some experiment. My classmate Christian arrived with a backpack, the main zipper of which was slightly open. Out popped the head of the cutest dog I have ever seen! He was a plump little Japanese spitz with white and brown fur. My classmates and I squealed in delight. I have been pestering my classmates to give me a pup of my own and on that day, my wish was granted.

When I first brought him to our house, he was a quiet little fella. He didn’t know where to go or what to do so he just followed me around. I sat on the floor beside him. After a few seconds, he gently put his head on my lap and slept. Such a sweet dog. Of course, he was a pain in the neck at times. Few days after, he became very hyperactive that he chewed on our carpet and crashed on my stuffed toys. That was just the beginning of his craziness. Months later, he would chase my cats and knock over our neighbors’ flower pots.

I remember how he used to hate my cats because he was jealous of them. Whenever my attention was focused on the cats, he would whimper loudly. But later on, he befriended the cats and even went as far as playfully biting their tails. (I suspect it was some sort of revenge)

Despite all that, Captain was my best friend. It didn’t matter to him whether I was the best or the worst master. He gives me a look of assurance telling me that no matter what happens, he will always back me up. At times when I am down in the dumps, all I really need to do is to sit down in silence. His presence would be comforting enough. Sometimes, I even feel guilty for leaving him when I had to study in college. But whenever I get back home, he would still be the same Captain I left behind – mischievous, playful, and loyal. Sadly, today, no faithful comrade would be standing by the door to meet me.

I miss stroking his fur behind his ear. I miss giving him a bath. I miss changing the water on his bowl. I miss purposely tickling his ear with a piece of dry leaf. I miss cuddling him with all my might. I miss him jumping at me whenever I arrive after how many months of being in school. Above all, I just miss him. But then again, he might be in a better place now.

Goodbye Captain, my Captain, I’m still missing you…

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cebuano music at its best

It has been over a month since the 28th Cebu Popular Music Festival but I still keep playing the songs over and over in my mind that I swear I don’t know when the last song(s) syndrome would end. I’m probably in awe because early this month, I ransacked music stores for a copy of the album. I finally found it in the music section of Metro Ayala. Anyway, I got the chance to hear and appreciate each song and I was awed not only by the entries but also by the arrangement of each piece. I rarely buy original albums because they cost a fortune for someone like me who’s used to coaxing friends into copying the songs or taking it the cheaper way – buy them from the streets. But since the album was locally produced and I couldn’t get a copy from my cousin Japril, (who by the way is the main reason why I even bothered to look for the album as she is one of the interpreters) I took the risk and shelved some of my savings that’s more than enough to buy myself a McDonald’s burger meal or a slice of Red Ribbon Chocolate Marjolaine. But upon hearing all those tracks in the album, I’d say it was all worth it.

Yeah I know that’s not really something new. To say that Cebuanos are musically gifted is like emphasizing a point that has already been underscored because a lot of artists who came from Cebu and other parts in Visayas and Mindanao are making it big in the industry. What amazes me is that the quality of the music is at par with those created in Manila. Musically speaking, we are ready to create and develop our own music industry right here in the south. But a greater and a more important question is: are we, the public, ready for it?

Personally, I am ready for it even if I was not exactly a fan of the language. Before, I would balk at the thought of reading something in Cebuano because I couldn’t understand the words. Even as a kid, I favored the English language in subtle ways. In the face of danger with a snake wriggling its tail at my feet, I could have shouted, “Bitin! Bitin!” Instead, I screamed, “Snake! Snake!” I was about five years old then. And when I talk in my sleep, my nanny would tell me in the morning I was speaking in English the whole time. But seeing how extremely talented our musicians, singers, and composers are and hearing how rich and sweet the Cebuano language sounds in a song, I’d say I’m looking forward to hearing more songs that would reflect our culture and our nature as a people. And it’s safe to say that I’ve changed my perspective about the language.

But there’s more to preparation than just appreciating the language. That’s just the first step. The next crucial step would involve asking ourselves how far we will go to support the industry. Because the music industry, as in any other industry, would still rely on financial returns. It may survive but it could struggle against people’s reluctance to buy the albums and the preference as well to buy the original copy than the pirated version. (Ouch, did something just hit me or what?) Well, that’s something to mull about. As for me, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

bicentennial man teaches social science

Flipping across channels on a Sunday night, I came across Bicentennial Man. The first few scenes seemed familiar but halfway through, I realized I haven’t watched the whole movie so I put down the remote control and watched it until the end. Bicentennial Man was played by the very talented Robin Williams, who happens to be one of my favorite actors of all time. The story was set in a futuristic era where robots coexist with humans. Williams plays a robot named Andrew. He was sent to a family, who treated him well as if he really was part of it. Then the unthinkable happened. Andrew started to acquire human emotions and intelligence. I doubt if that is technologically possible but anyway, this entry isn’t a review of the movie. There was one scene in the movie that keeps playing again and again in my mind.

It was the scene where Andrew’s master discovered that he had a potential. Andrew used to help around the house. Andrew’s master told him at that moment that he will no longer work and will just focus on reading and studying – which of course was one of the factors as to why he became a really smart robot. That scene reminded me of my social science class where my teacher Sir Mike asked us what we noticed about the kids in a milk commercial that promises to spawn “gifted” children. If you drink that milk, your child could have an IQ so high your kid can be a pianist, violinist, math whiz, or a chess champ. Impressive huh. So if a ratty kid from the street drinks that milk, will he have more chances of becoming any of those above? Well, the thing with that milk commercial, it portrays kids from well-off families.

If we watch the commercial closely, these kids are well-dressed, educated, and can spend all the time in the world focusing on becoming who they want to be because their parents can back them up. In contrast, the kid from the street does not have all the luxury and lives each day finding food for himself and his family so they can eat and survive. Translate that to psychology and we come face to face with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which states that physiological needs come first before self-fulfillment. Of course, how would you expect a kid to pursue his talents with an empty stomach?

I’m not saying that underprivileged kids are doomed because a lot of people have proven that they can rise above the odds with patience and a lot of hard work. In the end, what matters more is how we cope with our respective situations. I just hope they know that.

Monday, January 28, 2008

sinfully sweet

Now this is supposed to look yummy. It's a Chocolate Marjolaine cake from Red Ribbon I indulged in last week when we stopped over at Ayala Mall before going home from training. It was really delicious but somehow in the picture, it looks kind of weird and when I showed the picture to my brother, he wasn't at all interested. (Said the cake doesn't look appetizing enough for him.) The lighting is a little bad. But while tinkering with the computer and all the wonders you can do with Picture Manager, I managed to make it more interesting.

Now this looks more tempting. Agree? Yum. Yum. Yum!

Friday, January 18, 2008

chopsuey for New Year

I didn’t exactly have chopsuey on New Year’s Eve.

I had pansit, sweet and sour fish fillet, beef, and lechon so small we suspected it was a Chihuahua in disguise. But my experiences during the months before the year ended were bursting with a variety of fun moments and bittersweet realizations that it seemed I just swallowed a whole bowl of chopsuey!

Let me start with the more serious part of this entry. Several months have passed since my last post. The last post I wrote was about my current occupation of answering calls from people at the other side of the globe. Well, I still do now. The only difference before and now is that I’m getting the hang of it – to the point that if my customer gets irate, I get irate too. Hahaha! Not that I advise it. I mean, we’re supposed to “care” for our customers. But when people get mad, their overwhelming emotions cloud their judgment and they say a lot of things irrelevant to the issue. I just want to give them a taste of their own medicine, so either I answer back or channel my anger in more subtle ways like putting them on hold longer. Newbies, you shouldn’t be reading this. Anyway, the good thing is I have fulfilled my end of the contract. But to be honest about it, I’m not only relieved. I’m anxious as well. Why? Because that means I have to face another crossroad: What next and where to? If there is one good thing about this current job, it is that it made me realize that you have to find a job that you’re really passionate about because you spend almost all your day working. If you’re unhappy about your job, you’re going to be unhappy for most of the day…and logically, for most of your life! Been there. Still am there. So if it all boils down to passion, what am I passionate about?

“I have decided to avoid employment in mainstream media because I do not want to be caught in a situation where I have to compromise my ethical values. The media is one of those places where you can most likely trade your ideals for money. I’d rather be employed in a corporation, whose nature is admittedly profit-oriented than be employed in a media institution, whose nature is also profit-oriented, hiding under the guise of public service. I was once fooled into thinking that if I become a part of mainstream media, I could affect people’s lives and fight for what is true. Well, that is partly correct. But it happens if and only if it will not collide with the personal interests of the media owners. Otherwise, it is best to shut up if you don’t want to be fired. At least in a private company, I know clearly what I am working for. No icing on the cake. No false guises. Just… reality. And just what I want at this point in my life…”

Shortly after I graduated, I boldly made a statement about being employed in mainstream media. Looking back, I realized that the way I wrote it, I gave the impression that it is media per se that I’m trying to avoid. But what I was only trying to avoid is the kind of inner conflict I’ve dealt with as a Mass Communication student. I thought that by getting away from the field I’ve been in for four years would mean getting away from all the conflict. But now, 6 months later and with more gray hairs on my head, I realized it’s not where you are – whether you’re in media or you’re in a corporation – that matters. Wherever you are, you will always and continually encounter struggles within and beyond yourself. Struggles that test you how far your principles and your personal values can go. But these are actually little details of life that make you scream and fight. And in the end, they make a stronger person out of you. It’s quite interesting, looking back at all these and wondering why I wasn’t able to see the grain of truth hidden behind all these. But then again, now that I’m already out in the real world, the hallowed halls of my school can no longer shelter me from causing myself further trouble. Whereas before, my teachers could just warn me of impending dangers ahead, now I have to steer the wheel and explore it all on my own while picking up my lessons along the way. It’s tough but it’s inevitable. Well, this is life, as what they all say…

I don’t want to turn this post into a melodrama of sorts so let’s get to the fun part. Whoopee! I’ve always been a fun-loving person. With all the unnecessary stress we get from our job, three of my batch mates and currently my colleagues in the call center industry, and I decided to go out after the last shift of the week before the year ended – probably to ward the stress and bad luck for the coming year. Mark, Jeiko, Raine, and I went knocking pins and pulling each other’s leg at SM Bowling Center. Then our childhood kept haunting us back that we couldn’t resist a ride in bumper cars. I guess what was a little embarrassing was that our competitors were little kids but we didn’t care and just stepped hard on the pedal, trying to avoid bumping into each other and the kids. We watched a movie next, ate pizza, and to top the big event… tadaaaa… karaoke galore with the drinks on the side! We sang and drank and danced to our hearts’ delight. We even wanted to go bar-hopping after that but the beer had already taken its toll so we decided to end the night with an after-drink dinner instead.

The Power Four at Yellow Cab

Strike! (Please don't embarrass me...)

I'm innocent! I was just singing and you accuse me of...drinking?!?

That’s just about it. Not exactly ending the year with a bang but lessons were learned and friends were made. So I’m just contented about it. The new year has come and I’m wondering what’s in store for me. I can’t wait to find out.