Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Amazing Women Makeovers

Not necessarily knowledgeable or interested in posting fashion articles here, as I am failing in that department as well, but I have to post this one.

I applaud women undergoing big transformations! It shows how courageous and innately beautiful a woman should be. Women, after years of fulfilling life's ever demanding expectations in all aspects, deserve to get back and surprise the world yet again.

This remarkable AOL link shows unbelievable makeovers done to women who are in their late 30's and early 40's. The makeover results were to die-for. I felt sheepish knowing I'm not giving justice to my age. Maybe it's time for me to do some little bit of work in the fashion department as well.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Art of Blind Dating

I initiated and participated in a blind date last Saturday. I did not do this on my own though, I had equal help from my boyfriend who made the date possible by bringing his share of the bargain. He brought his photographer friend and business partner and I brought my close college friend. At first, after getting approval from the 'girl' the previous night, we realized that it's best if we start it off as a group date, rather than 'setting them' up alone. I was merciful.

So after a few text, confirmations and discussions, the date was set to take its course on Saturday night. On the said night, Mitch and I arrived earlier at this arranged quaint Italian place in Fort Strip, Taguig. Tracy picked Caffe Puccinni, and we gladly obliged. The blind dates have arrived, exchanged pleasantries and introductions. I looked at my watch to mark when the awkwardness would start, and the game started at 9:15.

Musing, I know I particularly feel uneasy and uncomfortable in social situations. Most especially in awkward social situations that involved risks and a lot of social art to make it work, which is blind dating. Plus the fact that I was hungry that night when I misunderstood that it was supposed to be an after-dinner thing rather than a dinner-thing.

For the first few minutes the table's plagued with silence. The dates were assessing each other by throwing basic conversations as you would do in any normal interview set in a relaxed casual scenario. Bad part is the 'girl' is a recruitment specialist, so she knows how to do the whole "probing and anchoring" thing. (that's c/o accenture, I know a thing or two about probing)

But after ordering a bottle of red wine, and engaging in a few laughs, we started to act as if we're old college friends. It must be the wine or just a waft of positive personality exchanges. The night suddenly began to be colorful. The blind dates weren't 'shy' anymore. They initiated conversations and made Mitch and I mere supporters. The first red bottle of wine was followed with another red bottle of wine and we didn't realize we were exchanging already gay jokes and boy bastos jokes at 2 am. Finally, the waitress asked for our final order, and we got the cue from there.

The 'boy' offered to take the 'girl' home and the 'girl' approved. After saying goodbye at 3 am, I looked at Mitch and told him "Good job" and he replied "You too." We both rated that the date was a success.

But in this art of blind dating, moves are much more calculated and crucial compared to those who already know each other and decided to date. In blind dates, since your knowledge about how the person looks or what he's like is practically zero, the first date would often than not veer towards the physical assessment first and some personality assessment. If physically they are attracted, then spending the night would be more encouraging. After that the initial exposure to each others' personality it would usher a 'would-be' series of dates to ensue. But what if the girl liked the first date, liked to know more about the guy, and the guy doesn't call back. The girl then has her answer. Or what if the guy likes the girl, asks her out on a date, but the girl wouldn't approve and hook up a very weird excuse to be busy? Then the guy would know his stand. So the second date, would equally be more important in their 'budding' interaction. It's an investment and job interview rolled up in one complicated sleeve of relationship.

One also has to consider that blind dates are also not for everyone, especially like me because of the presence of a "motive." A person doesn't go out on a blind date to find FRIENDS right? Well, eventually making "friends" is a form of consolation, but blind dates have an initial ROMANTIC goal to the people involved. There's already a motive to begin with, and that encourages more room to be pretentious. I might be pessimistic about it, but I'm happy to know that some situations prove me wrong like the blind date I went with last Saturday. I'm relieved to know that they went out the following evening, alone.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Day

Earth Day celebration starts at April 16 to April 22nd. It aims to make people aware of the importance of Mother Earth to our existence. It also aims remind us to appreciate, care and solve the ongoing earth issues plaguing our planet.

But unfortunately few people know that it's Earth day, well based from my experience at least. This type of world-dated celebration could be easily bypassed by a modern fellow that really do not notice the difference of any celebration if he finds himself going to work on that day. What a shame.

Well, I personally believe this is one of the most important celebrations compared to the other noted celebrations we know. Unlike celebrating those lives of the dead, Earth day celebrates what still has yet to be saved.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Alternative to State of Emergency: Food

I read an article at Manila Times today that talks about government's alternative plan to ease the tension of citizens regarding the looming food shortage. Or as they say if there ever really is a food shortage. (UH-HUH)

Instead of declaring a STATE of EMERGENCY, they plan alternatively to flood the market with basic commodities such as rice and flour. This move will prove to speculators that we really don't have any food shortage, y'all. In fact in bringing tons of rice and flour supplies now that would.... what...last for 2-3 months time?! There's something wrong about that. I'm not complacent about this alternative move at all.

Flour has gone expensive even before rice did. I still remember early last year there's been a debate on the radio regarding the increase in the pricing of PANDESAL. Well, it's just inevitable that aside from flour, cereals and rice would soon follow the trend.

Attaching is a quote from the report: "“The demand for flour is at four million bags a month, and according to the inventory submitted by the Philippine Association of Flour Millers, [we] have more than 10 million bags,” he said. A bag of flour weighs 25 kilograms." (Manilatimes)

But what the hell are they trying to prove this time? Fatten us up like pigs and kill us with inflation and starvation later? What they need to present are methods that the majority would approve of, something that really makes the food production sustainable. They should need to present and assure that certain technological advancements and agricultural development would spur the continuous flow of production. Or they should need to assure that they have grown strong trade ties with alternative exporters, and numbers keep coming in. Numbers and statistics of continuous growth are something we look for, not the sudden influx of basic commodities!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Food Shortage captures global attention

Don't panic.

UN calls for an emergency food summit early in June.

The Head of United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization urged all world leaders to attend a an "emergency" summit to discuss and seek for long-term solutions with regards to the global food shortage.

Locally, we are being pressed by high oil prices and high prices on basic commodities like rice. If UN has an emergency food summit, well our Household also had our own emergency food summit. My mother, who's in charge of the hardcore accounting and shopping shared that before a sack of sinandomeng rice would just cost at around 1,400-1500 pesos, but as soon as the crisis hit the fan, she ended up paying for 2,000++ pesos for a sack. With just a couple of male species and one diabetic in our household, we're really not dependent on rice. But still, it calls for attention. We would experiment now on mixing food viands with mashed or baked potatoes, which I'm looking forward to, or develop our skills with cooking pasta. Yes, we'd still cook rice, but in smaller quantities now. It may result to healthy and positive effects, just as long as rice is still an option and not a form of deprivation. We're all willing to adjust.

And I hope the bigger players should adjust as well. Government should be able to set their priorities straight, take politicking aside, and work with other nations to improve trade ties and invest in other technologies. Officials should be able to look into the agricultural budget and invest in people who could manipulate technologies and apply new methods in producing food given the limited agricultural lands.

According to Kandeh Yumkella, Head of UN's Industrial Development Organization, more than half of the world's population will live in urban areas in 2030. This means more lands would be transformed into residential areas, which is an indirect call that we should manage our population well. As basic economics have taught us, growth of population is measured geographically while the increase of food supply is measured arithmetically. It's a cycle that we cannot get ourselves into. Right now, we need land to produce food. We cannot feed more people by using more lands to provide shelter for them, while we juggle environmental whiplash, high prices in basic commodities and political instability. Controlling massive increase in population helps, people. Health and Education officials should be able to double their efforts in reaching out to citizens who might have no idea on the terms 'effective family planning.' Addressing this would hit two birds with one stone, to educate and to help alleviate the food crisis.

Also, since people are open to long-term solutions, food officials and businessmen are already looking into how supermarkets deliver and present food to the market. There might be a technology out there that can be used and can be taken advantaged of. Restaurant owners should also find ways to adjust and offer choices to their consumers . A "half a cup of rice" selection in some leading fast food chains is, I think, already being done.

While officials, experts and simple agriculturalists are finding ways to ease the global food tension, as citizens we should also do our part. Let us not result to PANIC BUYING. It would just tip the scales against us. It would just result to a much higher price than we can afford. Let us just be conscientious and creative on finding ways to ease our dependence with cereals and rice. Noodles, pasta, potatoes, bread and...admittedly vegetables are available options.

This issue has already shifted into a global concern that requires global and collective response. It's not only happening in unfortunate areas anymore. It's already happening to majority. We may have an excuse to not totally bawl over high oil prices, since most of there are more options to ease transportation costs. But higher costs of FOOD is a different issue. We all need suitable food to survive. It's a non-negotiable commodity that should always be made accessible. It's funny how we are now going back to basics. I would have assumed since we've already entered urbanization, these things should be at least the leastof our problems, but now it's the focus of every nation, every organization and apparently every household in the world.

*Newsource: Manilatimes.net

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What Emotional Bantering does to me

I was irritated this morning due to some unforeseen emotional bantering that made me feel irritated, disgusted and downright moody.

It's easy for anyone to get their message across to me, as long as they follow civilized steps. I might not agree with what they're conveying but I listen. However, there are methods in which I identify as dealbreakers in communicating with me. Here are some:

1. Do not appeal to me through crying out your frustrations in the hopes that I'd feel guilty and realize things that you think I should have realized in the first place.

2. Never appeal to me by forcing tears to come out of your eyes and recounting the times you've cried over my past mistakes. And how tired you have become.

3. Do not shout at me to get your point across.

4. Do not think you know everything about me, when the main reason why you're angry is because you don't know why I'm being the way I am. Actually, there is nothing wrong with being who I am. For all you know it, it's your nerves that are making everything a big bogus issue.

5. Do not use your life to threaten me to change.

6. Do not ambush me with emotional bantering, especially early in the morning, when my day's about to start.
Things like these make me irritated. Whatever point it is, it would not reach me. I would immediately clam up and use my last remaining efforts to attempt teleportation. Yes, teleport, no matter how futile and impossible it may seem.

Certain emotional displays like that, for me, lack sincerity. It's a foul appeal to rectify your cause. It's not fair to me and it's not uplifting to the other party either. Reflections would be clouded by pain, disgust and irritation. Nothing fruitful could be achieved at that given start.

I am a human being. I'm not what you would call rebellious, and most definitely I'm not the one who'd lack sensibility. I may not display or project any emotions, but I sure know how to achieve change, positive change, through positive results and not through power tripping and definitely not through emotional bantering.

Now I doubt if I still remember whatever's been said awhile ago. All I see is a bubble of irritation and hate that I'm trying hard to deflate.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fear for the Future musing

Curse the high oil prices! We've been suffering from the continuous tug and false hopes that prices would eventually wane down. But for the past couple of months now starting 2007, the prices have gone anywhere but down. As a motorist myself, I cannot begin to recount the added costs of gas. Cars now, if you're under a tight budget, have already elevated into a luxury transportation not to be taken for granted.

Before, cruising around wherever you please, was always a welcome activity. Now we unconsciously instill Strategic Driving that is ensured to save gas. Families cutting down travel time. Families opting for economy-type cars. Now it's not a matter of status. It's a matter of survival.

All in all, certain methods are encouraged to cut costs in basic energy commodities. But looking back years before we even reached the millennium, we were energy hungry and very much capable and flexible enough to acquire and consume energy as we please. Life's long lessons about environment and economies have not taught us hard to prevent such dependence and escalation in oil. We are still suffering, worse than ever.

There are lots of factors and lots of reports why Oil prices have gone haywire. The US economy's looming recession has injected to the oil's inflation. It's funny, how US has been guzzling down oil as if it was water before. Now it's getting the better of them, amidst one of their major anchors in economic slowdowns like the mortgage/housing crisis. The effects of oil for them might have been widely analyzed and publicized, but it's no question that the Oil Crisis is a global issue that needs global solution.

OPEC countries, filthy rich countries, who supply oil to the world may have all the cards right now. They can call the shots. And apparently, they would not increase exports. That leaves all of us dependent, scrambling for other resources, which we could have done way back when we were still flexible enough to take advantage of energy. Now it's too late. Now we are pressured to look for other resources more than ever, while nursing the burden of inflation of basic commodities. It's an unfortunate decision, yet we deserve it somehow. According to the latest report, oil prices in New York climbed to 106 per barrel already. All we could ever expect is to prepare for a slight trickle of increase in our local gas station.

Aside from high energy prices, now we are experiencing yet again a major global issue. Food Shortage.

Here in the Asia Pacific, in the Philippines at least, headlines on Rice Shortage have been leaking through press. It has bothered people and we are made to accept the fact that after oil, we have food to figure out. Poor agricultural plans and reforms, high subsidies, dependence on rice imports and the ever changing attitude of climate (due to environmental effects) account for this "rice shortage."

Now this is not to be taken lightly. We're talking about food this time, a basic necessity that overlaps any energy or oil necessity. It would be much harder to control food than to control transportation expenditures.

According to some reports in Asia Pacific, some other countries that are established exporters of rice, have been experiencing shortages themselves. Like Vietnam, the second highest exporter of rice, has been limiting and decreasing their rice exports. It's a case of every man for himself...in this case, every country.

Regrets. Regrets. Things that we should have considered before, when these issues were not yet issues, now begin to haunt us.

Whatever happened to alternative energy? Massive bio-fuel implementation?
Whatever happened to agriculture reforms? Or whatever happened to poor agricultural land planning? Have we all made lands to mini-suburbs without improving rice method productions?

Maybe our priorities change over time, but I believe there are certain priorities that should escape the top list. Energy and food are a couple of them.

And also, brace yourself. Last night, I was watching Discovery Channel, and found out that the station will be airing a special documentary show about the shortage of safe potable drinking water. I sigh.

What's next? Air per Bubble?

I fear for my generation. I fear for my younger brothers' generation. I fear for the generation that have not been born yet.

Let's say we have alternatives already, isn't it probable that it would just cover us for a few decades and cause problems for us in the future? We are known to do the bandage remedy when everything's worse already. It's an endless cycle to create and search for better alternatives. But what can we do? We're caught up in this race against nature, hunger and inconvenience.

Sometimes I wish all people might harbor this fear. Maybe that's all we need to turn around what's happening in the world. It might make us more sensible and more practical. It might make us lose the drama and insensitivity to the world. It might make us more sustainable.

Sadly, that's what some of us have been doing since ages, but majority turn a blind eye. Well I think it's about time that we do our own sacrifices. But unless if you don't have fear, these things should not affect you at all. In that case, you shouldn't have read this entry after all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The 48 Laws of Power

I am currently reading Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power. Started reading it when I flew to Boracay. When I first read it, the environment around me is pleasing and chill, whereas the material in my hands is gripping, sinister and brutally honest about how to wield, manipulate and look for one of the major things that we'd want...POWER.

Never had I known that acquiring and maintaining power seem to be such hard work, yet the methods are quite not alien to us humans. It's a matter of reminding us how to work out the things we already know to our advantage. We use people. We use situations to rise above everything.

Such a great literary treat. I can't wait to finish it...and APPLY IT!

Cebu Pacific..it's time everyone flies..exactly WHEN?

It's great that Cebu Pacific gives us options. It has more flights with cheaper rates.

More flights + Cheaper rates. What more could anyone ask for? Very enticing right? It's definiely worth a try.

Ever since I was a kid, I've always been a loyal PAL passenger. I've just began to acquire Cebu Pacific's services on my personal trips on local destinations last year because of its friendlier rates. But nevertheless I suffered setbacks upon setbacks upon setbacks.

Last year, my boyfriend and I bought a round trip domestic ticket at Cebu Pacific for the Manila-Kalibo destinations. Our rates were cheap all right, due to a couple of miss and hit on online bookings. Aside from the fact that the manila airport terminal was chaotic, compared to the hassle free and modern infrastructure of PAL, everything seemed to be just bearable.

However, on our return trip from Kalibo to Manila, we were in a surprise of our lives. My boyfriend and I got stranded in the cramped Kalibo airport for more than 2 hours, waiting for our flight to Manila. Our friends who had acquired SEAIR's services in Caticlan had a much later flight, but got to Manila way ahead of us. We were cranky. We were stuck in the middle of the heated day. We were hungry.

Things like these are expected to happen, yes. Not everything's foolproof. But how unfortunate that it has to happen on my first trip via Cebu Pacific. No matter how cranky we were at the time we still understood that maybe we were the unlucky ones. Good thing the airline provided a set of CHOWKING meal for us. Until now I'd wish they would've given us a lauriat.

In the Year 2008, my friends and I again looked forward to our Boracay Trip. But this time it's going to be different. Cebu Pacific has announced last year that they would gain access to Caticlan by buying special ATR aircrafts that can be allowed to fly directly to the small airport. To save us from the hassle of traveling from Kalibo to Caticlan, and to not get psychologically tortured to ride other budget airlines such as SEAIR and Asian Spirit, we booked our flight as early as December of 2007.

March 28, 2008:

We boarded the new Cebu Pacific ATR aircraft from Manila Domestic airport to Caticlan Port at 6 am. The aircraft was obviously new. One could smell the seats, touch the sides and still feel the smoothness of the paint. Our flight to Caticlan was flawless.

March 29, 2008:

We started receiving text messages that our flight to Manila's rescheduled from 11 to 11:30 then to 12:35. Actually, we've been receiving text messages even before we left for Caticlan. But we took it lightly, it must have been a technical issue on the Cebu Pacific's part...as long as we're informed and the flight's not rescheduled in the wee hours in the morning, then we're still amiable passengers.

March 30, 2008:

While we were having breakfast at the terrace we heard a very angry man on the phone on the resort premises. He was apparently mad as hell at some agent for booking them in a much later flight, which he wouldn't be able to accept. He used all kinds of threat and possibly made the agent's dignity about the size of an amoeba. That was the time we got worried. My boyfriend and I secured the last text message we got from Cebu Pacific. Apparently at that time, there were no other changes or cancellations.

IN a few hours or so, some of our friends who were also scheduled at Cebu Pacific on the same day, yet with a different time, got a text message that their flight for March 31 was cancelled...period. They didn't receive any other flight details or flight reschedules. Something's definitely wrong.

March 31st 2008

We went to Caticlan port eager to go home to Manila. As far as we were concerned at that time, our flight was moved, but not cancelled. We didn't receive any other text information or calls.

We got to the airport and saw people at the waiting area looking glum. We went to the already harassed Cebu Pacific Crew and presented our E-ticket. The ladies who assisted us were whispering and started fumbling with their computers.

Karen (Agent): Um, Sir, Ma'am, according to the system, you're flight to Manila Flight 598 is non-existent.

Translation = Flight's been canceled

Oh god, traveling all the way from our Boracay Resort to Caticlan only to be informed that our flight was already "non-existent" was not a funny joke when it's almost 31++ degrees outside.

We released our disappointment and anger to the agents. We tried calling people. I tried calling my friend who also got stranded in Boracay to possibly assist =in booking us another room. I tried calling my mother to inform them why their daughter might not come home on that day; and to inform them that no..I am not eloping. I also texted an officemate to inform them of my flight rehash.

What the hell just happened? How come some flights of Cebu Pacific were not cancelled, but some flights were branded "non-existent." What happened to our last December 2007 booking? Why weren't we properly notified? Is there a way to know how they might have prioritized other people? HOw come we are still the unlucky ones.

We later found out that we cannot be accommodated by Cebu Pacific via Caticlan for the whole week; also we were chance passengers for Asian Spirit.

After musing around and wasted the whole day, we knew our options. It's either we travel to Kalibo to take a chance flight to ride Cebu Pacific (Keyword: Chance) or just fly via Asian Spirit in Caticlan.

Well, some of our friends opted for the Kalibo flight, but some of my friends and I saved us from the hassle of further traveling on a cranky state, and took the Asian Spirit Jet just to get back to Manila.

Asian Spirit, gracious for them, accommodated us with speed, efficiency and security. The plane was not bad at all. The body was secure. The landing was flawless. We rode on their jet, 6 seats to each row of more or less 15. Our flight was fast. Our flight was smooth. Plus we have complimentary juice to go with it.

So much for the Cebu Pacific options.

We might not know what really happened in the whole Cebu Pacific Mix up. They only told us that they had to bump off flights because of security reasons. According to my traveler colleague...it was BS! Also, according to my conversation with other airline executives and a travel blogger colleague of mine, Cebu Pacific has been notorious for delaying and bumping off flights. One main reason is that Cebu Pacific's might have been inefficiently utilizing their planes and air time. They don't usually allot allowances on the time of their departure and arrival, probably to save costs and ironically, time. Another probable reason of this mayhem, particularly in Caticlan, was that they actually lacked the needed ATR aircrafts to accommodate clients, which means they've OVERBOOKED. According to a source, some of the ordered ATR aircrafts have not arrived yet. Unfortunate for us, some flights just had to be sacrificed. Thank goodness for the Caticlan carrier veterans like Asian Spirit or Seair to cushion the blow.

Luckily, some were compensated by being offered free roundtrip domestic tickets. Also, some accommadations will be reimbursed or already paid for by the airline. But bottomline is that it was a great inconvenience. It's a reflection of incompetence. It's a reflection of past mistakes gone haywire. Whatever their methodology is on booking or how they operate their airline business, they should always make sure that everything is close to foolproof. Time is of the essence and a day is still a day. Resources are still resources. Plan B is always welcome, but it should also be working for the clients' convenience and not the other way around.
If this is what I would 'regularly' get for cheap air rates or flights, well I think it's about time that I should study more about my options.

I'm Back!

It's April 2nd and I'm back!

For weeks of hiatus last March, I've finally gotten my groove to blogging again.

So many things happened in such a pressed time. I went to Boracay. Got bumped off my flight. Suffered a swimsuit purchase dilemma. Went overboard with my expenses. I answered rumors that I'm about to marry. I was regularized. Had a humble salary increase. Had another job offer, which is beyond me. Got momentarily depressed about my situation. Suffered mild paranoia attacks from my father, and had mild attacks of skin allergies. Started reading a new book.

It was a pretty busy and colorful month and now, fresh from early summer vacation, I am back with my routine. I have my Coffee and Toasted bagel with me, and I'm good to go. Better than staying at home and steaming in the worse summer heat.

More relevant issues and musings to come, but for now...I'm just glad to be back!