Showing posts from January, 2006

Alan, Pico, Rohinton, Jane, Fyodor and Ninotchka...Here's hoping the names ring a bell.

My post recommending (actually, pathetically begging) readers to please pick up a copy of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King generated three reactions. The first one essentially asked to borrow a copy of the book (yes of course, Jerome, but fall in line), the other two hemmed and hawed and in general asked for a summary of the book and wanted to know what other books I would recommend as must read.

I’m sorry but I will not do a summary of The Once and Future King – it is best read on one’s own; it is an experience that can not be replicated vicariously. Besides, who doesn’t know the story of King Arthur? But I am happy to oblige the second request mainly because I have about 20 minutes to write a blog today and writing about books (though not necessarily about what the books say) is something I can do with my eyes closed. So, what other books do I recommend as must read, aside from T. H. White’s The Once And Future King?

There’s Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams. This is a book…

Tales From A Parallel Universe

I feel that I was living in a parallel universe this weekend.

My date with Pyromaniacs

Saturday afternoon, I drove over to Quezon City to join in an "atang" ceremony to welcome the coming of the lunar new year. A friend, who runs the company for a Chinese couple, has been holding the
ceremony for five years now and wanted me to come over and experience the annual tradition. So off I went. I was a bit surprised to
see everyone was wearing red - in our company, we wear red to honor the boss (who happens to be Chinese too) on his birthday, but I didn't know wearing red on Chinese new year was also obligatory.

The ceremony essentially involved offering "lucky" food to the gods, lighting incense sticks (they could not agree on how many sticks should be lighted) and bowing three times in every direction possible, burning pieces of paper, and feasting. The pieces of paper were individually rolled and had individual printing on them - golden inscriptions, silver marks, even…

Pick it up please

I picked up some books at Frontpage yesterday and spent the whole night curled up in bed re-reading T. H. White's The Once and Future King. I knew it was a futile attempt, but I had this uncontrollable urge to finish the book in one sitting. I first read it when I was in high school and was hopelessly hooked to it. For most of my high school life, T. H. White was my hero, my idol, my god. I saw the book carelessly thrown in with a bunch of books that is best characterized as its derivatives - the Narnia books, Dune, Tolkien, etc. It hurt me deeply that no one was picking up the book. I wanted to give a lecture right there and then about how this book is far more superior than the Harry Potter series, or perhaps even the Tolkien books.

But sadly, such is the power of advertising. Bestselling status is determined not by the actual value of a book, but by how well-crafted the advertising campaign is. Case in point: Harry Potter. Before you start sharpening your axes, let me s…

Bliss, Pure Bliss...

Now I know what my definition of a truly good life is. I lived it from 8:00 am to about 5:00 pm today. As part of this year’s book purchasing committee at the College where I teach, I had the very enviable job of picking books that would be added to the country’s leading learning resource center (in other words, library). Along with 10 other academics, I visited a warehouse and a bookstore where we were allowed to wander aimlessly, pick books that struck our fancy, and choose which ones the College should buy. The fact that I wasn’t paying the tab (and the budget was very, very generous) was pure bliss. For once, I was able to pick books whose price tags approximated my weekly payroll without guilt or pangs of withdrawal.

What’s the big deal, you ask. Well, for someone who exhibits withdrawal symptoms when he doesn’t get to visit a library or a bookstore in a week’s time, nothing is more fulfilling and more pleasurable than buying books. Picking up a book, then scanning through …

Woodstock Meets Ragnarok Again...

"Let me share with you my observation about our new breed of employees. Gone are the days when employees will take on every opportunity to shine. Gone are days when additional responsibilities are taken as a chance to advance one's career. In the industry I am in right now, people work not because they need too but because they choose too. Employees (in the call center industry) are very specific in terms of what they should do. It's a dilemma, but I foresee that this is how it is going to be for awhile. With the sudden growth in the industry, the competition for talents is very stiff, its employees market now. And applicants are demanding the strangest things on earth."

The above is a real posting in one of the email groups I subscribe to. It's actually a common lament among HRM managers today and while I have spoken up in the past about the topic, I chose to keep my peace this time around. I figured someone else might just take up the cudgels for the current gen…

This Is So Sick..It Made Me Laugh

While trawling the blogs out there, I came across this blog that featured lots of funny stuff (although it took some time to load because of its graphics). I don't know who this blogger is, but he sure sounds fun. He says he is a TRISEXUAL - and defined it as someone who will try anything sexual (and not necessarily just once). Hmmm... Anyway, I have filched this entry from his blog because I am so tired today the nerve connections between my fingers and my brain must have short-circuited. For more funny stuff, please visit Lester's blog.

Dear Husband:

I'm writing you this letter to tell you that I'm leaving you for good. I've been a good woman to you for seven years and I have nothing to show for it. These last two weeks have been hell.

Your boss called to tell me that you had quit your job today and that was the last straw.

Last week, you came home and didn't notice that I had gotten my hair and nails done, cooked your favorite meal and even wore a brand new negl…

An alternative career...Or not

I just came from a new gig - as motivational/inspirational speaker at a sales/marketing rally for brokers/dealers of a major real estate company (was tempted to write another slash there, but resisted the urge). Until today, I never really fancied myself as a rah!-rah! kind of trainer or speaker - I thought I was more of the let's-reflect- share-and-try-to-be-profound facilitator. But a friend in need is a friend who threatens - so I was coerced into accepting the gig, all for the love of saving friends from deep shit.

Aside from my natural aversion to doing rah-rah-siz-boom-bah, my beef with being inspirational speaker in these sales rallies is the time element. You are given 30 minutes, perhaps 45 minutes, 1 hour tops if you are lucky - to do your thing. Within that span of time you are supposed to rouse them from sleep and make them do cartwheels while shrieking Kill The Competition!!! Tough job. At least that was what I though I was supposed to do.

But I figured, why be l…

Short hair again

After almost three years, I finally had it with itchy face, bad hair days, triple shampoo and conditioner expense, etc., etc. So yesterday, right after the Pacquiao-Morales fight, I marched into the neighborhood "beauty saloon" (for men and women, the sign said), bravely resisted all kinds of offers for all sorts of expensive things one can do to one's hair and insisted on a haircut.

"Sir, rebond?! Cheap lang!"
No thanks, just a haircut.

"Sayang naman your long hair. Maybe we can just trim it, layer it, and then relax."
No thanks, just a haircut please.

"Maybe we can cut it tapos we can wax it to make it shine."
No thanks, just a haircut pretty please.

"Hot oil na lang sir, tapos pedicure na at foot spa na din kayo."
No thanks, just a haircut and an axe and a shotgun please.

After 30 minutes, the long tresses were gone, and I could see my big wide ugly face again- fat deposits and all. Unfortunately, the hair style did not come anywhere clo…

Pacman mania

Unlesss you have totally given up on Filipinos and have decided that there is absolutely no hope whatsoever for the Philippines and its countrymen, you could not have missed the greatest spectacle this country has ever seen since The Estrada Impeachment Trial. The roads were practically empty and when the TV coverage of the fight started, you could hear every television set in the neighborhood tuned in.

What a fight it truly was. Am no great boxing fan but I was suddenly an expert on the game contributing my own two-cents worth into the very heated and animated blow by blow commentary in my household. Everytime PacMan would score a hit, the whole neighborhood would be in uproar. The last time I heard something similar (but not quite close) was many years ago when Jaworski was still playing for Ginebra and a championship match was on.

What a great moment to be Filipino again!

I wasn't surprised that immediately after everyone it seemed had something to say on the matter (yes, includin…

Joke Time

A mother and daughter were coasting along EDSA and got stuck in traffic in front of that giant billboard of clothing store Folded & Hung. The mother says out loud - that store should be closed down for using a description of the male organ as its name. Silence. And then the daughter quips: folded?

Oh no, not again!

We are just halfway through the first month of the new year and yet the extreme torture of seeing our elected officials make fools of themselves on TV has already begun in earnest. Arrrgh!!!!!!!! It's enough to make one seriously consider leaving this country for good except that what our elected officials do create animosity for us wherever we go.

Yesterday, the senators who are still smarting from the threat of being rendered obsolete due to the charter change movement, took turns denouncing the US government for not giving up custody of the four US servicemen accused of raping a Filipina at Subic. Many of them actually called for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement, even if it means losing millions of dollars worth of aid from dear old Uncle Sam. "Our sovereignty and our national pride is not for sale" the feisty Lady Miriam intoned, I mean shrieked.

I would like to advice the good senators to please give up whatever reality-altering medication they are takin…

It's unfair!

I finally summoned the courage to call up a friend and inquire about the health of someone I love very dearly. She has had cancer in the last five years and has gone through several cycles of chemotherapy. The cancer has come back - again, and more virulently this time. There was more sad, deppressing news. But she is hanging out there although our common friend says she seems resigned and ready to let go, with dignity.

This is painful news. This friend - a former boss and mentor actually - plucked me from nowhere and guided my personal growth and professional development through nine years and through three companies.

This is a person who was so health conscious - she worked out everyday, ran regularly, did not smoke, did not drink, practiced meditation, etc., etc. Her only vice, as far as I know, was clothes; not jewelry, not shoes, not bags. Just clothes. And, oh, ballroom dancing, which when you come to think about it, is also a form of exercise. And yet she got cancer.

I know many p…

Bhutan over Lunch (and merienda)

Since last Monday, I have been conducting a training program for a group of Bhutanese at one of the buildings in Makati. It's not really the first time that I have shared the same room with Bhutanese people, but it is the first time that I have spent three days (so far, tomorrow will be day 4) with them exclusively as the whole training group is composed mainly of Bhutanese.

I have always been interested in the countries at the Himalayas, particularly Tibet and Bhutan. I don't know why, but Nepal and the rest do not intrigue me. India, of course, will always mystify me. I think I can live in India. So what do I know about Bhutan so far?

The King (Jigme Wangchuk) has four wives - and the four are sisters (as in siblings). He married the eldest daughter and then proceeded to marry the rest of the package as well. All in all he has 12 children among the four queens. Bhutanese people love their king so much they think he is the world's most handsome man (I kid you not! I actuall…

Dating daan vs INC

I know I have been harping on this for some time now but I just can not help it. Everytime I watch the TV, or read the papers, I can not help but feel this urge to shout at whoever is pontificating: "that's just your opinion, that doesn't necessarily mean that is the most brilliant solution!" But sadly, in this country, most people who have access to the media think so highly of themselves, they think their drool is holy water.

People in this country do not disagree. They demolish the other side either through obfuscation, intimidation, or by simply overwhelming the other side through whatever means possible including, yes, flooding the surrounding area with saliva.

Last night I was coasting through the channels of Destiny cable and noticed that there were two channels of the INC sect. Both shows featured attacks on Ely Soriano of Ang Dating Daan fame (or infamy, whichever part of the fence you are perching in). I must say that if we are to go by the detailedness and t…

The Sinulog On TV

Being proudly Bisaya, I always make it a point to watch the Sinulog extravaganza on television every time I couldn't go to Cebu for the festival. Unfortunately, only Channel 4 (National Broadcasting Network) covers the festival -- and to point out the painfully obvious, NBN isn't CNN. All right, am sorry, that's not a fair expectation. And thus today, the TV in my room was tuned in to the station although I was merely watching passively. One has to be a masochist to be able to watch the coverage from start to finish.

Whoever picks the people who serve as "hosts" or commentators or annotators of the Sinulog needs to be sent to a basic TV course asap! These people, did not know what they were doing, had godawful grammar, and were simply not teleginec. I had to fight the urge to change channels everytime they came on board. For example: "The sinulog of course, also celebrates the arrival of Magellan hundreds of centuries ago - in fact, centuries of centuries ago…

Surreal but real

The title is not original - it comes from that Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts movie. It came to mind today while I was having lunch while the television at the pantry was on. The one million question on Game Ka Na Ba was what is paraskevidekatriaphobia and the contestant lost. Answer: fear of Friday the 13th. Is it just coincidence that they had to ask the question on a Friday, the 13th? Surreal. I don't know if it is surreal that the contestant could not decipher the gobbledygook. I mean, treskaidekaphobia, which I think is a more "popular" fear is the fear of the number 13. But well, what is more surreal that having someone like Kris Aquino on lunchtime TV hollering "may tama ka!!" with relish.

Other recent surreal events:

Last night on the way to school, I was driving along Zapote Street leisurely until I turned right on a side street towards Pasong Tamo. Since middle of this year, many of the side streets of Makati have been designated one-way streets for …

Hello World!!

Whew! When I started this blog September of 2005, I only had one objective in mind - to keep a journal of my thoughts and rants and raves and hang ups and whatever. I never imagined that it would be read by others, or that it would become some kind of a newsletter about myself, or that it would encourage others to blog as well. I also was not, at that time, aware of the extent to which blogging has become a phenomenon.

What do you know. I have started receiving emails from long lost friends and former students who comment on my blog for the day (or week). Some have referred their own blogs or other blogs that they like. Thus, I have started to expand my blog community by visiting other blogs and clicking on their links. And what a huge community of bloggers it is out there!

I am truly amazed at how generous people can be. There are blogs that offer all kinds of advice - from cooking recipes to techno gadgets, to books, to music. And I discovered that many columnists actually ma…
Photo from the Krocodile Bar reunion of sorts with former
students last Saturday. Photo courtesy of JT.

Missed List (Part 1)

Today, is the birthday of my daughter, and well, there is just something about birthdays that tug at the hearstrings of our lives (fade in Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler On The Roof, fade out). There. I just acknowledged I am...old. And growing older by the minute (and yes, Jerome, you do not have to rub it in any further).

Anyway, I have been thinking about some of the things I truly miss, or have missed last year.

First, what I missed...

1. Any of the movies of the 2005 Film Festival. Forgive me, Direk Joel and Mother Lily, I can not empathize with your cause. Besides, I have given up on Direk Joel after that over-emote bit at FPJ's necrological service (he did it again on TV in over-emote mode, voice breaking..."ka-ta-ru-ngan!"). I do have this soft spot for Mother Lily partly because I was with Solidbank for seven years - and she was a diehard fan of the bank ("Akin lahat issue tseke Solidbank kasi hindi talbug, swerte.") and mostly because I find her an interes…

Visting IRC...Again

Where was I?

As I was saying, there was a point in time, not very long ago (ehem), when I lived to chat. I would log on to the net (and the IRC) upon getting home, and chat with friends and strangers until dawn. And at work the following day (technically speaking, later is more appropriate as those were days when I averaged 4-5 hours of sleep), I would cyberloaf shamelessly - as in chat while working, or at least while going through the motions of working.

I would meet up for lunch with friends (yes, my friends from the irc - we had regular lunches to talk about, what else, but life on and the people in the IRC and the channels we hibernated in), and then go back to work (and the IRC). After a hard day's work (chatting 80% and working 20%), we (and this means the IRC pals still) would meet up at SM Mega Mall for dinner, or bowling, or sing along, or whatever. And then it was time to go home...and chat again.

It was crazy. And looking back, I still can not believe the extent to …

Visiting IRC

All right, I admit it, there was a point in time (seemed like ages ago) when I lived some semblance of a life in the virtual world of the information superhighway (the internet to those uninitiated). I have no idea why I was addicted to chatting in the net and all my training in pyschology could not explain why a supposedly normal, social, intelligent (ehem) person would prefer to interact with other people under the cloak of anonymity. Oh, I did have some theories (who doesn't - everyone fancies himself to be a psychiatrist, or at the very least, a talk show host!), but nothing I could hope to win a Pulitzer for.

There was comfort to be had in being able to put one's feet up and exchanging ideas with other people from any part of the world while eating like a pig in one's pajamas. One can bully, submit, purr, moan, impress, beg, dominate and be anyone one wanted to be. But eventually, eyeballs became the order of the day and boy, oh boy, were they truly an experience beyon…

Just Another Saturday Evening...

If this is going to sound like an entry to a diary, I beg your indulgence.

I was reading the weekend paper very leisurely when I got a text on my cell. It was from a family friend, bearing tragic news. A childhood friend of mine who was blessed with a second chance in love (her previous marriage got annulled the other year and then she got caught up in a whirlwind romance that ended at the altar last year) and a second chance to be a mother again (she became pregnant immediately and was due to deliver within the second week of January 2006) gave birth to a stillborn baby boy.

Very tragic indeed. The little boy, named Theodore Lorenzo, has been dead inside her mom's womb for 24 hours already. It was another case of cord coil -- while he twisted and twisted inside his mom, the umbilical cord got caught around his little neck and then around his left leg. So he literally strangled himself with every movement.

It is truly sad that while technology enabled all of us to view pictures and v…

Noli Me Tangere 2: Touch it not

I am one of those people who have more than three copies of this Rizal book. The first one was inherited from some relatives who bought the book because it was required reading in College. I remember it was lying around in the house when I was in grade school and so I started reading it then. This is probably cliche - but this book did have a profound effect on me and probably helps explain my decidedly leftist orientation early in life. The second copy of the book was bought on a whim - it was a new translation by this Locsin matriarch. And then one day I came across a version of the book that featured a really arresting book cover: it was of a billboard on EDSA that screamed something controversial (I do not recall the exact sentence now) so I bought that one too. But I do admit that it has been almost four years since I last reread the book. I plan to reread it soon.

And so, when I read in the papers that there was an updated version of the book entitled "Noli Me Tangere …

20 Truths

Everyday I receive all kinds of emails from all kinds of people out there. Some are truly worth reading - you open them, read, and then finish it with a feeling of gratefulness for whoever invented email. There are of course emails that make you think of email as some kind of a curse.

But I have learned to take all these in stride. Yes, including those emails that promise you 2 more inches (you know where), threatens mayhem unless you forward it to 200 others, etc. etc.

This one I got today - and somehow, it just arrived at the right time. I have been having difficulty sleeping in the last four days on account of a disturbing pain in my stomach (read my previous postings on gastroscopy). A doctor friend advised me to give it a few more days and then see a doctor as this may be induced by the holidays food intake.

But well, this gave me some comfort.

1. Faith is the ability to not panic.

2. If you worry, you didn't pray. If you pray, don't worry.

3. As a child of God, prayer is …

Shoot the messenger!

Watching the news on TV and reading the newspapers used to be enlightening experiences. I remember up until about two years ago, I would always make it a point to watch the news before going to bed at night (of course, it was a practical thing to do then because the news was always on at 10pm; unlike today when the late night newscast is on at the ungodly hour of 12:30 am or sometimes 1:00 am, depending on how heavy the commercial load of the TV station is). I still read the newspaper at breakfast, although quite frankly, I think my newspaper is one of the reason why I have hyperacidity.

Today, reading the newspaper and watching the news on TV are almost always unpleasant experiences. It is not just because the news is often bad, or gross, or both; but because more often than not, the treatment and reportage borders on sensationalizing, editorializing, and the titillating. I am sure the media people are ready with their standard defense: do not shoot the messenger. In other words…

MRT blues

The car was covered by the color-coding thingie (why they insist on calling the scheme "color-coding" when colors do not have anything to do with it is beyond me) and since I was on leave from work, I did not have to wake up early to beat the 7am deadline for using Metro Manila's streets. But I had a 6pm meeting at Pasig City, so naturally, I had to commute. I thought that since classes have not started yet, taking the MRT was a better alternative. I mean, the MRT does not get stuck in traffic, it is generally clean, etc., etc.. So what the heck, I took the train at Vito Cruz, got off at Taft/EDSA and prepared to transfer to the MRT line to get to Shaw Boulevard.

The ride was smooth and fast. The trains were efficient and clean. The passengers were well-behaved. So what went wrong?

If anyone out there needs a clear example of how government agencies do poorly in serving ordinary people, I suggest they go to the EDSA/Taft station of the MRT. This is the start of the …

Desperate housewives

Got home late last night from a quiet intimate dinner with three lady friends. A friend wanted to show me the pad she is currently crashing in and I guess a New Year is as good an excuse as any. So she invited me and just for the heck of it, another common friend, and voila, a night of sharing intimacies over red wine, grapes, and kiat kiat.

I do not know if this bodes well for the new year - but boy, did I learn so much about their lives in four hours. Halfway through, I couldn't help but confess that I thought Desperate Housewives was far too twisted to be real; what I didn't realize is that truth is truly stranger than fiction. These ladies had lives that were not just soap opera material - they were grander that the standard soap opera.

No wonder many people could empathize with the real-life TV fare that the major networks seem to be up to. They not only mirror reality - it is reality. When the man in the street says that what they see on TV happens in real life as well, th…

My First New Year's List

Happy New Year!

After brunch today, I resolved to sit down and make a list. It just occurred to me that I really need to (as in seriously need to) reassess where I am in the larger scheme of things.

In the last seven years, I have been in career limbo mainly out of a sense of loyalty; I need to reassess this vis-à-vis larger career plans and practical considerations. Had I not gotten stuck where I am, I would probably be earning double my current rate and probably driving around in a new car. But then again, I probably would not have been able to teach and indulge in my other passion which is mentoring young people. Anyway.

In the last few months, my body has been showing signs of serious malfunctioning. I have this constant pain in my right elbow which I ascribe to some kind of carpal tunnel syndrome (it hurts after I spend some time in front of the PC). My hypertension has been relatively low and stable (110/90) in the last three months although it can be argued that that’s becaus…

Au Revoir 2005

As I write this, the clock on the wall says it is barely 45 minutes before the changing of the year. Already, the air is thick with gunpowder, my lungs are asphyxiating from the pollution, and my ears are beginning to go deaf. In these conditions, it is truly a wonder anyone actually lives to see the changing of the year.

Traditions are truly difficult to let go. Every year, the health department makes frantic appeals to people to please, please…do not explode firecrackers. The media does that too – they even go as far as show gory footages of appendages being sewn up, blood squirting all over, and people screaming in agony. But then again, they also show (and probably devote more time to) how the business is doing in Bocaue (the lines were very long, it was shown on TV that it was bumper to bumper traffic out there) and even does interviews of buyers and sellers (one buyer was shown on cam buying 20grand worth of fireworks, whew!). Talk about conflicting messages. Ano ba talag…