Showing posts from October, 2005

Going bonkers with banking

Yesterday, I was standing in line at this bank in Emerald Avenue and could not help but feel sad that banks do encourage people to transact their business with their machines. There were only two tellers and there were about 60 of us waiting and seething and ready to explode any minute. Sometimes I do wonder what it is about Filipinos that make us take everything in stride silently and calmly - even rude and undeserved customer treatment.

I was in Grade Six when I opened my first savings account. Every Monday, I would set aside a few pesos from my weekly baon and come recess time, I would walk the two blocks to the bank that was "subok na matibay, subok na matatag" to entrust my money to a very pretty and smiling teller seated behind a marble-finished counter.

The banks of my childhood were institutions that commanded one's awe and respect. One never doubted their stability. It was unthinkable to imagine bankers as anything but paragons of virtue whose main job was to safe…


If anyone out there needs one more proof that globalization is here, I suggest he or she goes around Metro Manila’s exclusive villages and malls this weekend. Of course, it is easier to simply go into a Pinoy-bashing mode and say that the Halloween frenzy is more a result of the Filipino’s inherent copycat tendencies. But I prefer to ascribe it to globalization – we now celebrate Halloween in Metro Manila because it is no longer a Western thingy – it is now celebrated across the world. Blame it on CNN, blame it on expats, blame it on movies.

So come Saturday, expect kids in costumes to flock to the malls with their orange plastic pumpkin bags. Expect them to holler "crick or creak" or variations thereof to the store personnel in exchange for some cheap candies the total value of which will not even come close to 1/10th of the parking fee their parents have to fork up for the visit to the mall. Forget the cost of the costumes, forget the fact that the whole family will have to…

Advanced Math

I now know the import of those oft-repeated admonition: tatanda ka din.

When I was young - I mean younger - and foolish, I admit I scoffed at these words. Oh sure, at the back of my mind I know that that is an irreversible fact of life - everyone ages. But when one is at the pink of health and full of vim, cholesterol counts and all that stuff were things incomprehensible and irrelevant. They could very well be asteroids orbiting another solar system in a distant galaxy, you know they are there but they just do not concern you.

And then wham! I hit the threshold age and a few weeks later, I am pacing outside some doctor's clinic waiting for the results of all kinds of tests. Within a span of two weeks, I was poked at, my insides peered at, my blood analyzed, etc, etc. I never realized there was this variety of tests available. And by golly, whoever thought of these tests must have been trained by the Nazi doctors during the Holocaust.

All of a sudden, I am counting cholestero…

Why I write

Someone emailed asking how long it takes me to write entries to this blog. The quick answer is, I don't have that much time to spare so I make do with whatever time I have which is often not much. Sometimes I can dash off a piece in 10, maybe 20 minutes; or the entire given time I can sit in front of the pc online. Sometimes, the entry I am currently writing sits as a screensaver in my pc at work, something that I return to every now and then and whenever I can snatch time from the thousand and one things that ordinary work drones like me have to do, until it assumes some form fit for publishing.

I do wish I have the luxury of brooding over and delicately crafting the entries. But I know that if I do that, very few entries would ever get past my often harsh critical eye.

I fancy myself a writer (blush). That's the worn-out excuse I give whenever I am asked why I bother. I try to be better at it - and someday, I hope I can do or be that. My fondest dream is to be able to save eno…

Long Hair

It happened again today.

I bumped into someone I haven't seen in a while and voila! she took it upon herself to comment about my long hair and asked if I am allowed to wear it long. I have grown used to it already - including unsolicited comments about how to take care of my hair, how to make sure one does not have tangles, etc. Just an aside: why do some people think it is okay to make comments about another person's appearance as a greeting? For example: uy taba mo ngayon ha..or di bagay suot mo. Ehhhhh?

I still get slightly annoyed when people suggest that I should not have long hair at all because it does not look professional. Excuse me?

Women can have long hair, but men can't? Women can cut and style their hair very short like those of men, but men can not have long hair? Where is it written that men should have short hairs? Even Jesus Christ and most of the prophets did have long hair.

For the record, I have highly personal reasons (and they are valid!) for wea…

Faded silver screens

While having a spirited conversation about movies with a friend, we hit upon a sudden and sad realization. Not only are moviehouses getting smaller and smaller (and the cost of movie tickets rising in reverse proportion, the smaller the movie house becomes, the more expensive the price of tickets), the old movie houses are decaying and giving way to…of all possible options… churches! I don’t mean that the movie houses are being demolished to give rise to the construction of a new church. No, no, it is more literal – the movie houses themselves are converted into places of worship.

At the Olivarez Shopping Complex in Binan, for example, the moviehouses have become churches of the “Ang Dating Daan” community – yup, that’s the group best remembered for being spoofed by Brother Pete in Bubble Gang. And it is the same everywhere else – from Luzon to Mindanao. At first blush, I think it is ingenious – a movie house after all is as good a stage as any auditorium – the seating has been c…

Davao in my mind

There are places that stand out from memory; places that you tuck away in a special place in the deep recesses of your mind and revisit every now and then with fondness and yearning. Davao City is one such place to me.

I spent a significant part of my growing years here. This is where the very first traumatic experience in my life happened – a fire that engulfed the whole neighborhood and forced thousands of families to flee like stampeding animals caught in a wildfire. That fire(which happened at midnight) decimated everything on its path – houses, playground, memories; and forcibly, prematurely, and tragically separated a barkada of young boys. To this day, there are times when I wonder what happened to the rest of my childhood friends. (So, in the off chance that they are reading this – Jun and Michael Barriga, Noli and Tonton, etc – I hope you guys are doing well. Email and call me sometime). After that fire, my family packed up and went back to our roots in Leyte.

I did visit Davao…


Some things in this life are so wonderful, they can command awe and take our breath away. But everything in this life is also finite - everything comes to an end eventually. Sad, very sad, but such is life.
And so, there come a time when we ask, even of Shakespeare, even of Kurosawa, even of Picasso - is this all? There comes a time when you ask even of a supposedly perfect relationship - what's more?

This week, something that used to be so beautiful and wonderful finally came to an end. There were no fireworks, no soap opera hysterics, not even a drop of tear. It was as amicable and, well, natural, as dawn breaking into day. No screeching stops, no recriminations; simply an enlightened dialogue between two adults who reached a crossroad and decided to take separate paths. Was it a fitting finale to an almost eight year relationship? I do not know. But how does one determine how a relationship should end?

Funny but I have been humming that song from Tell Me On A Sunday ("don’t w…

Animal Talk

There are cat lovers and there are dog lovers.
I know some people who are cat people - they have no patience for the slobbering, unabashed affection, and eternal enthusiasm of dogs. They prefer the aloofness, the royal carriage, and the prim and proper demeanor of cats. On the other hand, I know a lot of dog people, the kind who prefer the perky, loyal, frisky, and the action that dogs provide.

I am both. I have a cat and a dog. My current dog is a huge black labrador named Altus. Don't ask why that is his name - when I got him he was already "baptized" and registered. Fluffy the cat is a white pusakal (pusang kalye). I really do not know what her original name is - she moved into my old house and decided to adopt all of us. Fluffy was the name given to her by a friend of mine.

If there is any doubt about the distinctiveness of the characteristics and traits of cats and dogs, they are obliterated beyond doubt by Altus and Fluffy.

Fluffy thinks she is the owner of the house. …


Someone actually emailed me to inquire why there has been no recent posting on this blog. I did not realize that aside from the sum total of three people who I know read this blog regularly and simply as fodder for their daily exchange of emails, I did not realize there were other people who have actually found their way somewhere in cyberspace to this spot.
The answer is trite and outworn. I wish it was something dramatic or unusual - but sadly, it is the old, worn out excuse: been so busy lately. And since I have started shamelessly trundling out cliches, I might as well add one more. Yes, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.
I have also been travelling lately and had no easy access to the internet. Having been used to clicking on my own laptop and zapping through the internet in the privacy of my own room (or office), I never realized how inconvenient and uncomfortable it is working in an internet cafĂ©. I am one of those people who just can't help feeling a bit self-co…


Someone once said that time is relative - it is too fast for those who are having fun and too slow for those who are extremely bored. For someone like me who is currently living in a hotel (temporarily, and only because it is covered by a training consulting contract), time is careening out of control everytime I log on to the hotel's wifi connection. They charge 1,000 more than what it would cost for me to walk five blocks to the internet cafes.

But when you have sessions all day, walking ten minutes to find reasonably-priced internet connection is a luxury.

Right now, the time says I have less than two minutes and a window keeps cropping up to remind me. Darn.

Anyway. I sure hope to get back to blogging more regularly when I get back to manila.

Teaching Blues Part 2

In the Philippines, teaching is considered the noblest profession, and rightly so, I think. Teaching is not something that one can take on as a job; anyone who does so is either a fool or a masochist because by no stretch of imagination can the financial rewards match the efforts that go into it. Teaching has to be more than just a job. It must be a passion, a consuming preoccupation, a calling perhaps.

However, I think that the real essence of nobility needs to be defined because I fear that some people equate the nobility that goes with teaching with simple dogged persistence and patience without taking into account the quality of the output. Thus, we have in our midst today tens of thousands of public school teachers who have been bestowed the honorific designation of belonging to the noblest profession simply for having been able to stand and drool in front of a classroom in some god-forsaken public school in the last twenty years.

Please do not get me wrong. I do not look down on p…


One clothing item that I really hope found more favor among men in the Philippine setting is the use of the shawl. All around other parts of Asia, men wear shawls – and they are the best fashion accessory: they are convenient, handy, and generally inexpensive. In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Tibet, Nepal, India, Pakistan, etc., men wear shawls all the time. Men from Arab countries like Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and rest of the stan-suffixed countries from Afghanistan to Kyrgystan wear them too. And these shawls are transformed into belts, blankets, headgear, bags, trousers, device for carrying children – practically anything.

When I am in these countries, I end up buying shawls and wearing them too. They are just so much better at keeping one’s self warm than jackets. Shawls can be easily adjusted and wrapped around any part of your girth and appendages. And then you can fold them into small squares that do not take up so much space in your bag or even in your pock…

Yosi Kadiri

Last week I was passively watching Pinoy Big Brother on television and was absolutely floored down by the antics of a person suffering from a major case of withdrawal symptoms! To induce some excitement into the generally boring dynamics in Big Brother’s house, cigarettes were banned for a day and Uma (the guy whose gender has been speculated about like it was a major factor in the determination of the national GDP), the chain-smoking guy consequently (not naturally) went berserk.

Interesting aside: for some strange reason, the show made a big deal out of justifying the smoking ban. They made such a big thing out of cleaning the environment and yada yada yada. All these eventually fell flat as it became obvious that only one house occupant was emotionally affected. The rest went about their business as if not being allowed to smoke was the most normal thing in the world. Thus, they changed the rules - only this guy was not allowed to smoke which further heightened the withdrawal symp…

Craving for chickenjoy

I am writing this blog from the Novotel Hotel in the mountains of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. It is a rainy day here, and last week, I was informed that heavy rains caused major flash floods that inundated the area where the night market is so there is not much activity there (hint, hint for friends and family who expect pasalubong). Chiang Mai probably gets as many tourists as the whole Philippines does in a year – that is how popular it is. The plane that I took from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was one of more than 10 flights a day, and it wasn’t a small plane – it was a 747 – a huge bird!

Anyway, what is so special about this place? Many people liken it to Baguio City, which is a major insult - to Baguio City. What nonsense – Baguio is ten times more beautiful than Chiang Mai. There are no pine trees here, and it is not even half as cold and mysterious as our mist-filled City of Pines. But it sure has a lot of tourist attractions – from elephant farms, to orchid and butterfly …

4Rs: Be Ready, Have Respect, Know your Rights, Practice Responsibility

Having been reared in a family of educators, I grew up exposed to teaching models and jargon. In fact, modesty aside, I knew who Piaget was at a very early age since my grandfather who was a district supervisor would talk about him endlessly. One of the earliest models that stuck to my mind was the 3Rs, which meant Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. I thought it was clever the way the concepts were reduced to R’s although I also thought it was a bad acronym.

I just came from a session where psycho-socio-cultural aspects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, particularly among adolescents, were discussed and analyzed. The emerging consensus was that governments alone, or religions alone, can not save the younger generation from HIV/AIDS. In fact, both governments and religions have been noted to have been largely unsuccessful in managing risky sexual behaviors though generations. If religions and their moral codes work so well in the first place, then maybe we would not be where we are right…

Let Luli Be

Today, I got another email that almost made me regurgitate the chicken breast I was devouring for late lunch. The email, which I understand has been going around various email groups (I got mine from two email groups and the return path listed a host of more email groups!) was purportedly written by a certain William "Willy" Santiago.

Pardon me, but who is Mr. Santiago? I do not mean this question in a camp and condescending sort of way; I certainly do not have my eyebrows raised at the moment. It is a genuinely sincere question. I do not know who Mr. William Santiago is, and perhaps it is my fault that we do not breathe the same air. But is it too much to ask that if one feels he has enough authority, not to mention only the best intentions, to dispense supposedly good advice that is broadcast to all Filipinos and his dog and cat, shouldn't he at least provide some information about the chair he is perched in?

For those of you who are blessed not to be at the receiving …