Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Gastroscopy

Tomorrow morning, December 1, I will begin the day by being sedated and having some instrument rammed down my throat (gently I hope) so they can poke at my guts and see what is causing this persistent pain that I have been feeling for some days now. I was actually rushed to the Tagaytay General Hospital Sunday night because the darn pain just wouldnt go away despite doses of h2bloc, buscopan, pain killers, maalox, kremil s, etc. In fact I suspect the pain was caused by some chemical revolution happening inside my stomach - the medicines must have argued and debated about who should do the work and couldnt arrive at a mutually agreed upon decision. Thus the pain.

Anyway, the Tagaytay General Hospital, surprisingly, was clean and efficient. Along the way, I was actually dreading the thought of having to share the emergency room with people screaming in pain or kids flailing around with missing - ehem - how shall i say this delicately - parts. And of course, I was quite ready psychologically to battle it out with uncaring medical personnel. I have heard many horrendous stories about nurses in public hospitals who think of patients as statistics and not as people with feelings. But to my great relief, the hospital was quite organized, the nurses and doctors were solicitous, the attendants were not clumsy, etc. If it were not for the simple fact that I was in pain, the experience would have been generally pleasant.

I wish I can say the same of the way patients are treated at the doctors' clinics at the Makati Medical Center. Let me make this clear, I am referring to treatment and consultation at the doctors' offices - not at the MMC emergency room or when confined in the hospital. I have been at the emergency room of MMC many times (easiest and most convenient way to get a check up!) and the attention one gets there is still the best - although of course they charge you scandalous rates for everything - for a tiny cotton bud they charge 20 pesos (I kid you not!). I have also been confined there - and I would say it is not an altogether terribly unpleasant experience. One has to be really twisted to enjoy confinement in a hospital.

But try seeing a specialist - any one - along the corridors of MMC's medical- powers- that- be and see if your patience is not tested to its limits.

First, I still have to catch a doctor that is there on the hours he or she is supposed to be there. They post their consultation hours on the door - but I guess they are mere suggestions or guidelines because like I said, I still have to catch a single doctor in MMC who sticks to the hours. Take my gastro specialist (the guy who will have the privilege of seeing what my insides look like) - his consultation hours is from 10am to 12noon everyday. And it is on first-come first-served basis, meaning that unless your family name is Macapagal-Arroyo or Zobel de Ayala, he sees you in the order in which you arrive in his clinic. I was there at 9:45 hoping that I will be one of the first patients to be examined and that I could hie off to my lunch appointment with lots of time to spare. No cigar. It turns out there are more proactive people than me - they showed up a lot earlier, because I was number 8 on the list. And by 10am, the list reach about 25 patients already. (Yes, you may do the math as well - how much that guy makes in a day!)

Guess what time the good doctor arrived? 11:20am. Whew.

How can doctors make sound diagnoses if they are pressured by the fact that 300 other patients are impatiently waiting in line?

Anyway. I hope everything goes well tomorrow. Pray for me please.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Victory at last

Yes, yes, yes…I am gloating. Yes, I am ecstatic. Yes, I am very, very jubilant and is very close to hugging everyone in sight. In fact, I think I did hug everyone inside the hall this afternoon when the last ballot was tallied and the results were announced.

My team, the GOLD TEAM won practically all seats in the 2005 elections of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines held yesterday. The only post that was won by the other party was that of Secretary, which was won by a mere one vote (210-211). This post could have been won by our candidate had there been no spoiled ballots – and there were many.

If this sounds like I am making a big deal out of the victory, it is because it is a big deal to us! Having lost the PMAP elections in the last many years, the victory yesterday was not only sweet vindication (almost a landslide!); it was triumph of a good cause. It was also proof that pure intentions and a campaign conducted fairly and without malice can still win even in the Philippines where elections are always an occasion for mudslinging and character assassination.

Anyway, if you are wondering why I haven’t been making regular entries to this blog in the last two weeks - . there’s the answer. I was busy campaigning.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Hotel From Hell

I haven't been able to make up my mind about this and I know the jury is still out on this one as well: are Pinoys really born whiners or are we by nature used to suffering that we tend to accept things as they are even if we really shouldn’t? Some people I know complain at the least provocation - they whine and rant over anything real or imagined. But I also know that there are many Pinoys who just seethe privately and let go a number of things on occasions when they should stand up and assert their rights.

The reason why I got into thinking about this is because this week, I found myself in a supposedly swank hotel in Lapu Lapu City in Cebu. I was billeted in the hotel by my client (I was there for a consulting business). The hotel is rather new - one of those late additions to an area that is seeing a major growth spurt. It is located a few meters away from the gate of an export processing zone. Proof of the fact (at least one) was the fact that the hotel swarmed with local celebrities while I was there. I had breakfast (no, we were not on the same table, but we were close enough to throw pancakes at each other had the urge to indulge in a food fight struck us) with Richard Gomez, Raymart Santiago, Joey Marquez, Janna Victoria, etc. They were in Cebu to shoot an episode of their TV gag show and they were staying in the same hotel I was in.

This place was the pits. The suite I was in had a kitchen, living room, etc., that were merely for show. The stove wasn’t working, the microwave did not have the right adaptor plug, a table lamp had no bulb, and the bathroom was filthy. The floor of the room was made of pebbles - what they thought would pass for style - was uncomfortable and worst, sticky with whatever it was all previous occupants must have splashed on it. I am just getting started here. The curtains, when I tried to draw them, reminded me of a dirt road in summer when an automobile would pass through it.

But I grinned and beat it. I should have complained, after all, my clients were paying good money for my stay.

But I have heard enough urban myths about waiters spitting on food and room attendants not replacing soiled linens to spite guests.

On my first night, I ordered room service for dinner. The food arrived after two hours. I asked for water. It did not arrive. I had to go down to the convenience store at the ground floor to buy bottled water to avoid creating a scene. But yes I should have complained. Maybe I was too tired to argue. Or I was preoccupied by my lectures.

Whatever.

But my check out experience takes the cake for the worst customer service. I reserved a vehicle for 1:30 pm, which I figured would give me one and a half hour time to peruse the small shops at the airport (I know those shops charge triple the price at Carbon Market, but who wants to go to Carbon for three coin purses?). At 1:45, they still haven't been able to figure out my room bill, which was crazy because my client had a corporate account with the hotel and had strict instructions to charge everything to them. Finally at 2pm, I was frantic since my flight was at 3pm. This was when I started to give them advice laced with vitriol.

Meantime, the vehicle I reserved was waiting for me at the driveway. Just when I was about to leave, the front office manager came swooping down the lane asking the driver if there was space for her guests as they needed to get a ride to the airport as well. She was told that I reserved the vehicle, but she did not even look at me; she merely insisted that her "guests" ride with me. Thereupon, three people got into the vehicle meant to seat five people. Time was really clicking away at this point and visions of me getting stranded at the airport began to swim in my mind. We were loading luggage when another two passengers arrived. At this point, I was ready to protest but when you have barely 50 minutes before take off and the check out counter is still a good 20 minutes away, you make the supreme effort not to tempt the fates any further.

Then the driver started rearranging the luggage to make space for one passenger. It turns out this was going to be my seat. I took a deep breath and looked at my watch - forty-five minutes to go - not enough time to argue or hail a cab. So I just gave the driver a look that could kill on the spot and said loudly that I wished I had taken a taxi instead and climbed aboard and took my seat behind the car sandwiched between luggage and boxes. Darn it, I should have raised a ruckus right there and then.

Until now, I am still thinking about it - why, why, why did I take all that? Why do we simply take undeserved treatment instead of asserting ourselves?

Proud to be Bisaya

Discrimination and bigotry exists in various forms. I have been at the receiving end of it many times. No, I have not been denied entry into some country because of the color of my skin, although I do have this nagging suspicion that every single time I line up in front of an immigration counter in some country, the immigration guy subjects me to more critical appraisal. This is why I do bother to dress up when going abroad.

The kind of discrimination I get subjected to every once in a while is courtesy of my Visayan accent. Yup, I am from the Visayas; stamped, certified, authentic Bisaya. Thanks to a grandmother who forced me to speak English at a very young age, my accent is not as pronounced as some of my friends who get most of their long e's and their short e's confused. But sometimes, it does slip out unconsciously since I do think in my mother tongue.

But I don't get it why Tagalogs find this funny. I mean, we don't find it funny when European people speak English with their distinct accent. Maybe it is true, we Filipinos are harder on each other. We are a tough people to please.

I used to find it embarrassing when someone begins to snicker at my accent. Today, I find it utterly uncouth. And yes, I have on many times put to task some people for making fun of the Bisayan accent. I do it because quite frankly, I am sick of being criticized for my accent by someone who can not even distinguish a verb from an adverb and who can't get through five sentences without committing atrocious grammatical mistakes. I have put my repartee down pat - and my close friends have even gotten some of them memorized and have on many occasions beaten me to the draw.

"I suppose that makes you feel you are a better person" is one of the icy remarks I make when someone begins to mimic my accent. "I can speak English and Bisaya and Tagalog - can you?" is another. Believe me, many have learned their lesson and have since stopped making fun of the Bisayan accent.

What people do not get is that many Bisaya are far more conversant in English than in Tagalog. Our mother tongues have certain peculiarities that have conditioned our tongues to pronounce certain vowels a particular way. Why is that funny?

I was in Cebu recently to give a lecture to a group of highly accomplished and highly intelligent people. The interaction was truly stimulating and the participants were highly articulate even if yes, their long e's and short e's got seriously entwined many times. But we were among ourselves and we understood each other perfectly. Many of them have proved intellectual superiority over other races, and yes, they too have been at the receiving end of patronizing and disparaging comments on account of their accents. Go figure.

Anyway, I just wanted to put it on record that yes I speak with an accent and I am proud of it. It is no reason to be embarrassed and I do think that anyone who thinks otherwise has more reason to be embarrased.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dumbledore is not dead

The movie is opening tomorrow and as expected, there is this air of excitement that is almost palpable hanging around diehard Potter fans. No you won't find me in the moviehouses tomorrow. Yes I did read all the HP books and found them quite interesting; but I am not going to risk life and limb for bragging rights ("I watched it na!!!" yeah right, as if that means one's IQ has improved a notch higher by being first in line at the ticke counter). But go ahead and watch it asap if you think your whole mental health and self esteem hangs on watching the movie before everyone else.

The witches and wizards I know have also been all agog over this website (www.dumbledoreisnotdead.com). Okay, okay, in the interest of fairness, those who have not read HP6 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) should not read any further as what follows contain spoilers. Yes, in that book, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore gets killed in the end by Severus Snape, Potions professor at Hogwarts. When I read the book, I couldnt help but notice that there were a number of clues left rather obviously about his imminent return - but I must admit that I felt a little sad that he had to go. I mean must everyone with affection for HP get killed in that series? I have this thing for the jilted and Harry gets his heart broken many times in the series.

But is Dumbledore really dead? I don't think so. But I am amazed that there are people who have studied the question with the same enthusiasm and level of effort as say, the search for the Holy Grail or the lost continent. Well, we all have our own poisons.

I will end here as I know that you are dying to get to the site. Go! And be converted.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Woooshhhhhhhhh

This is going to be a quick one. Just one to check in and just in case anyone is actually wondering what has happened.

The last few days have been really hectic for me. I havent been able to set aside time to write anything for this blog. Oh sure, I did a lot of writing - for work and for others. I even completed a documentation project, a brochure for a campaign, some campaign letters, a concept paper for a national conference, etc. But darn it, it is difficult to mix business with pleasure.

Anyway, on the way back from lunch today, I got to thinking about what it is that makes us slaves to time and pressure and work? From a purely personal viewpoint, here are some of the things I came up with. In no particular order, of course.

1. Failure to say NO. I wish I said no many times in the last three weeks. The only reason why I am up to my neck in work is because I am doing things others should be doing.

2. Being distracted. Many times in the last few weeks, I have not been able to do serious work on several occasions because a good TV show or movie was on, or because I entertained a phone call, or I travelled all the way to Cavite to attend a party that lasted a good part of a whole day.

3. Not prioritizing important things over urgent things. Yup, the classic "it was urgent" justification was on top of my excuses for the week. Darn.

4. Procrastination. Many of the stuff I have to finish today has been sitting on my desk for a good month already - I should have gotten to them last month when I had the time. As it is, I have to cram all of them in because they have to be done or else.

5. Not getting help. Many of the things am doing should have been delegated to others.

And so on.

I know, I know... all these are pretty lame excuses for a blog. But just wanted to write something. There. Pelt me with tomatoes, please.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hallow-weaned

So what did you do during the long weekend?

October 30, Saturday night (the official halloween party night in Manila, never mind if it is a day early for halloween - you know how it is in our culture, we prioritize convenience before meaning) I was in six places. No, no, not at the same time.

First I met up with some friends from school for early dinner (6:30 pm) at Quezon City. We had this really great food at my favorite restaurant (Uno). What I like about Uno is that in this place, food takes centerstage - the place is so devoid of clutter and decor. The walls are painted dark, there are hardly anything hanging, and the tablecloth is a simple white cloth. People come here to eat good food, not show off. And the food is always goooood. While I have nothing against themed restaurants (from ethnic to avant garde), sometimes one can not help but think that one is paying for the decor and the ambience than for the food. Goodness, if I wanted ambience, I would wangle an invitation from really rich people for me to hang out in their homes. I go to restaurants to eat, not to get distracted by their decor; but come to think of it, maybe that is the reason for the overall clutter in most restaurants: to take away your attention from the food?

There is this place at the CCP complex (an Italian restaurant). They have one of the greatest view in the world--Manila Bay lang naman. But on their walls are plastered hundreds of paintings of what passes off for the Manila Bay sunset - as in wall to wall collage of oranges and yellows and reds all screaming "this place has a great view of the Manila bay sunset." What were they thinking??? Anyway, one can take comfort in the fact that some people are obviously unacquainted with the words "subtlety" and "moderation" but what really got my gall the first and so far only time I was there was that many of the paintings are so devoid of artistry. Think Grade 1 art class where you were forced to do a literal interpretation of a sunset. It sure looks like they were in a hurry to fill up space and just picked any one who could hold a brush to a canvass.

I had to rush to another dinner party with some relatives (yeah, yeah...relatives have this annoying habit of competing for attention on really busy days). Why do relatives always assume that you need to be stuffed to the gills? Titas and Titos brought out the usual fare - yeah...greasy Spanish dishes with lots of tomato sauce and potatoes. Anyway, I picked on my food until it was reasonably okay to say goodbye.

Then I had to rush to Greenbelt 4 for dessert. Yeah. I really did not need any, but that was the appointment with another set of friends (this time peers from the academe) - have dinner somewhere, then meet up for dessert at Bizu. Now, Bizu is this restaurant that must be on top of the picketing list of the Diabetic Society of the Philippines. This place struck out the word "diet" from its dictionary. There's only one word to describe the cakes and pastries and other sinful delights they offer: decadent. I had a private tiramisu (supposedly good for one, but 4 of us shared it) and green tea. I actually wanted coffee, but I thought I needed something to assuage my guilt. So green tea it was. Yes, I also dip lechon in vats of vinegar with garlic in it to kill the cholesterol. We all have to deal with our guilt complexes in our own way.

Then it was off to destination number 4: Temple Bar in gb4. The kids at school had this fundraising thing in this bar (when I was in college, we sold newspapers and had raffles for fund raising; today the kids plunked in 60k for the bar guarantee and watched the gate for the suckers who paid P250 for the entrance). Anyway, part of the fun was watching a succession of bands play their original songs as well as covers. These were kids from school. But by the reaction of the crowd, you would think they were U2 or Red Hot Chili Peppers. Boy, were they...amateurs. At one point, I had to whisper to the Dean of our School that it was my fondest wish that night that the five instruments being played would at one point converge on the same note and pitch. But what the heck, these were our kids - I mean our college students, they could have played Bohemian Rhapsody like it was that really, truly, absolutely annoying Zombie song, we still would have applauded like crazy.

Just a note on the bar's concept. I am not Buddhist, but I have great respect for them. Temple bar has this giant image of Buddha right smack on the middle of the bar as if keeping watch at everything that happens there. I hope the owners truly have respect for that image and that they did not put it there simply for ambience. Otherwise, I see a picketline coming in the near future. Thank God Buddhists are not as hypocritical as the Catholics. If that was an image of Jesus Christ, the manangs would already have countless epileptic seizures.

At midnight, I had to rush to Malate to watch over my own kids who were in this bar. The teenager was going to participate in this marathon dance showdown. It wasnt a contest or anything - just kids being allowed to show off their talents. Hmmm...the teenager did not do so bad, in fact, I would think that he was one of the top 3 better dancers. No kidding.

The last stop was for adults only.

The Story of A Vision

In the beginning was The Vision….…and then came The Assumptions…and The Assumptions were without Form.. and The Vision was without Substance.

The workers said to their supervisors: "It is crap, and it stinks."

And the supervisors said to their managers: "It is a pail of dung, and it has a strong smell"

And the managers went to their Assistant Vice Presidents and said to them: "It is a vessel of Fertilizer, and none may abide its' Strength."

And the Assistant Vice Presidents went to the Vice Presidents and said: "It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very Strong."

And the Vice Presidents went to their Executives and said to them:

"It promotes growth, and it is very Powerful."

And the Executives went to the President, and said to him: "This powerful new Vision will actively promote the growth and efficiency of our departments and the company overall."

The President looked upon the Vision and saw that it was Good.

And the Vision became Reality.