Friday, May 30, 2008

A Certain dream and A certain Reality

According to Forbes Magazine online, Hind Hariri is the youngest woman billionaire in the world with a net worth of roughly 1.1 Billion Dollars. She is the daughter of the slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. She then inherited her family's giant construction, media and banking holdings. She is only 24 making her the youngest woman billionaire in the world and the second youngest billionaire by record.

Unfortunately, I'm also 24 and probably the oldest independent professional, who still secretly balances her steady source of income with vigilance in the hopes that she would get to pay bills on time, buy daily food and occasionally reward herself with minimal sources of recreation. Until then she holds her breath until next pay day comes. It's a miracle if she's been able to save a total of 10% of her monthly pay. Clearly, I am not a Forbes example.

I sincerely thought it was that easy. I graduate. I get a job and would vow to save every penny of my earnings until I could buy a suitable condo unit at 22, get a car at 23 and start up my business to earn my millions before 27. Hopefully by 40's I'd get to retire and be an active philanthropist. Assessing now, there's a grim possibility of depending on charity.

I do set specific deadlines in achieving my goal. But I passed all my target dates without accomplishing one. No condo unit yet at 22, no SUV at 23. Crossing my fingers, I hope something happens when I reach 27. Maybe I'm just being hard on myself. Blame it on the quarter-life crisis and the way my generation is programmed nowadays. Blame it on the availability of jobs and availability of temptations to spend resources on fashion, travel and certain hobbies. But still there is no excuse. We just have to try harder because I must admit that my generation or my contemporaries have easy access on generating money. Everything's revolutionary and people are equally innovative and competitive, but avenues on where to spend it on is also at every corner, rising, more tempting than ever . We're young, we're able, we're equipped, we buy.

But sometimes it's just not enough. I thought that I could be financially stable by the age of 25 at least, but I think I have to push my deadline to 30's. That's why reading about the young billionaires like Hind Hariri makes me cringe with envy. But it's false to blame her for being more...nay...greatly advantaged than her other brilliant contemporaries. It's also not nice to cringe with the thought that she wouldn't have to work a single day in her financially powerful life. And it's kind of stupid to blame her for still being able to create billions despite her already inherited income because by the age of 24 she is her company's director. Some are just born so damn lucky. If I were to borrow Sharon Stone's principality, maybe it's good karma.

The point is I can't help but feel a little bit wishful and dream that I was in her shoes. That I would get to spend for whatever I'd want without miserably budgeting to wait for the next payday. Who wouldn't want to be able to spend good money on vacations, hobbies and securities at your whim, while working for a kickass company in which you are trying to be an effective big boss? Whoever says no to that is a hypocrite. And I'm not saying that money is the end of all problems. I just think that it's much easier to be able to live and do more stuff without being limited by budget constraints. These young billionaires still find reason and time to work because they'd always want to do something fulfilling and with sense; only that they do not worry about their paydays. They are more focused on their goals and sense of fulfillment that they hold large creative and risky reigns that, us, normal peeps cannot afford to have. That is a totally big difference.

While some fortunate self-made billionaires achieve their respective personal goals and primarily achieve self-fulfillment while multiplying their billions on the side, others like me still have to work a little bit harder with the hopes of achieving even slightest fraction of financial power and luckily find self fulfillment on the side. Priorities are very opposite.

Some may have been self made, others may have been lucky enough to follow the footsteps of Warren Buffet in their early 20's, and others maybe just like me, thankful that at least we still get a chance to dream and still live another day to try harder. There maybe tons of things and activities that may be limited within our financial grasps, that we have to accept, but dreaming and trying to make it into a reality would never cost a single penny.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Guide to Coke confusion

Who doesn't drink Coke nowadays? Even for a sip?

Kids, teens, adults and grannies belong to the market.

Diabetics, who naturally should avoid coke because of its high sugar content, can also drink it.

People watching their weight can guiltlessly drink Coke.

It was this close of an alternative to water, but bottled tea drinks, juices and fitness drinks are giving it something to be threatened about. What does Coke do? They constantly revolutionize to keep up with the times and to adjust to their market's silent sentiments.

But I'm harboring mixed feelings about it. I'm a little bit overwhelmed, confused, annoyed and amused about this whole variant repackaging thing. Coke's been exploring, experimenting and launching different variants of Coke that I wouldn't be surprised one day that there's a Coke made especially for babies.

Originally, there's the Coke, the classic one, bottled and canned in Crimson Red.

For the diabetics and weight watchers there's Diet Coke or now known as Coke Light. The packaging is silvery, sleek and very feminine. It is more targeted on women; and studies show that men and teens identify more with Pepsi Max (a competitor of Coke, also a Pepsi sugarfree variant), which is packaged in a very sporty way. Coke Light now strengthens its position more than ever by being endorsed by none other than Independent-Fashionista woman Icon, Sarah Jessica Parker.

After a semi-confusion on Diet Coke or now known as Coke Light (I have to get used to the change), there are other experimental variants all for the love of flavors. In this country at least we had Coca-Cola Vanilla, Coca-Cola with Lemon and Coca-Cola Cherry. Globally, Coca Cola has also launched Coca-Cola with Lime, Coca-Cola with Raspberry, Coca-Cola Black and Coca Cola with Orange (UK). And I'm not going to start the different breakdowns of these flavors (Diet Coca Cola Vanilla, Black Cherry Vanilla etc.)

After the flavors and variant takes, Pepsi Co with its Pepsi Max jousted Coca-Cola's take on sugarfree drinks. Coca-Cola's answer to the rising threat was the infamous Coke Zero that walks hand in hand with its sister Coke Light. Coke Zero not only boasts to be sugarfree, but it retains closely the taste of the classic Coke formula without the calories. But Coke Zero is more positioned to attract Pepsi Max's consumers, which are men, active teens and yuppies.

Remarkably, Coke now is better positioned more than ever. They have all different types of Coke for different folks. They have fruity variants, sugar free variants and of course the classic. But they are soon to launch more than the already gamut of Coke variants globally. It started already in developed countries and this will leave you either amused or annoyed.

Coca-Cola has announced the release of Diet Coca Cola Plus. The plus includes vitamins and minerals like B3 (Nicotinic Acid/Niacin), which blocks breakdown of fats causing the decrease in free fatty acids in the blood. Vitamin B6, which is a co-factor in many reactions of amino acid metabolism. Vitamin B12, which is an important vitamin for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. The reason behind why Coca-Cola chose these particular vitamins, I have no idea. But it's clear that they want to create a sugar less, calorie less drink induced with vitamins for health conscious drinkers. It is by far a record standing option for the normal pop. I've also heard that Starbucks will soon globally offer vitamin induced coffee in their franchises, but that's a different story.

As if the world is not complicated enough. But for the normal consumer, it really takes time and effort to taste variants and identify to the created market subgroups. What Coke is doing is extreme market segmentation and revolution. It's not anymore Coke versus any other brand, it's Coke versus the brand itself. The consumers are subdivided into Classic Coke drinkers to Coke Zero Drinkers, Coke Light Drinkers, Coke Light Plus Drinkers or specialty Fruity Coke Drinkers. Coca-Cola gives more excuses and reasons to drink Coke. There are some people who buy Coca Cola only for their better tasting Coke Zero or there are other Coke drinkers who have switched to Coke Vanilla or Coke Lime because they just love the unique cola taste. There are others who avoid Classic Coke at all costs, but swears to Coke Zero.

With all these options and variants, there's no other way to explain the confusion and annoyance of some; and the amusement and excitement of others. It takes a lot of getting used to the changes and additions, but the market has been pretty warm to whatever Coca Cola experiments on. And usually if it doesn't work, Coca Cola immediately gets the point. With their recently vitamin induced soda, it serves high speculation for a drink that's been lashed for their bad nutrition content. It awaits judgment and I can't wait to taste it personally and hear other what other experts think about it, because until then I'm still sticking to water and to my occasional Coke Zeroes.

Rumored Pregnancy and Kids Talk

I was just recently informed by my past colleagues (thru texts) that since my two close ex-housemates are 'blessed' by recently being pregnant, there's a rumor apparently circulating that I'm the latest edition to the pregnancy bandwagon.

Hilarious. Atrocious. Nonsensical.

Really, haven't you known me yet? I'm not the mother-material type. Newsflash, I don't exactly find kids cute. I take them for what they are, innocent delicate tykes, but I don't go "goo-gaga" over them. They're babies, white, bald, clueless and sheepish. I see them everywhere. There's a surplus of it in this country. I may release a genuine smile or two when i feel the kid's vulnerability and he looks damn hilariously scared out of his wits. That's why to those who keep on sending me chain emails suffocated with baby pictures to prove whatever message there is, then I suggest you to skip me from the email list. I also do believe that even though I am a woman, I do not have those motherly instincts. I protect and try my best to nurture on my own comfortable terms. I am not a baby fan, but damn right I'm a human being. Morality overwhelms everything. But still, I don't do hardcore nurturing stuff with kids. It'll leave me in a psycho-coma for weeks. But I do try to make up nurturing credits with some people, which means if treating my younger 11ish brother to expensive foodtrips, a trip to the bookstore, occasional malling and baby sitting (You stay out of my way, don't do stupid stuff, and I'll let you use the computer) could be considered motherly activities then I think I'm not hopeless after all..

That's why when I learned about the rumor of my pregnancy, I got a little bit icky. Now, I know someone from my past might have seen me somewhere and figured out I've gotten that FAT, which naturally gave birth to the rumor. For the record, these baggy-supposed-evidence was due to voluntarily being unemployed and vacationing for 7 months straight, after which Christmas and February season came. I admit now, the the rumor is the last straw. It's time to do a little bit of exercise.

But before that, I grabbed and finished two books last weekend that made me realize that I'm not that evil after all. The two books that I've recently read was about a boy named Dave Pelzer, and his ghastly life in the hands of his evil, monster-crazy Mother. The first book, the CHILD CALLED IT, recounts his story ages 4-8 yrs old living and enduring his mother's torture every single day. In the first book, it was graphically described, in the eyes of a young boy, how his mother tortured him. The book didn't lack of various examples. There were eating of dog poop, exposure to chemicals while cleaning the bathroom, deprivation of food for days, physical beating, emotional bantering, psychological warfare and living in most inhumane circumstances. You would think Harry Potter, living in the cupboard, living with his ghastly aunt uncle and bully cousin, is a hundred times better than David. You would be amazed how this wounded kid survived something that could only exist in anyone's imagination. He has suffered tremendously that there was a point in time that I, as a reader, just wished him dead to achieve his peace. But of course, most of the time I wished the mother was dead.

The Second book is also about David Pelzer's life after he was rescued by his teachers and social workers. At first you would feel his triumph as he survived and be given the chance to start his life at the age of 8, but it's anything but easy. He may not be within his mother's grasp and eating dog poop but this is where he rediscovers himself and bombards himself with questions at the height of his puberty. Now that's equally tormenting. Surviving emotional and psychological horrors of high school and puberty is bad enough, what more if one has a prejudiced history and a weak family background to boot. David Pelzer, coming from a traumatized situation and entering in the adolescent stages, was less equipped and grounded than normal kids. He was thoroughly confused in relationships, his existence and his purpose. Given his inexperience with interaction and basic logical skills, he made uncalculated risks and stupid mistakes in order to satiate what he's been missing his whole life. The second book recounts his story in the eyes of a 11-17 year old kid.

Dave Pelzer's story is an awakening. It slaps you in the face. It also makes you wonder how powerful a human spirit is to endure all the sufferings and come out of it in such a way that you're redeemed and honored. I must admit it's kind of depressing. You could feel the the blood around your heart boil as you imagine yourself tormenting his mother for doing nasty things to him. It makes you want to contribute and just pull out kids who suffer from their households. In reality, it's futile with all the bureaucracies and faulty systems. But David Pelzer really made a big difference by making people more aware of their actions toward kids and informing others that there's always a way out of that dark tunnel. His book is not for melodramatic consumption. It's for awareness and revelation of what a child goes through in danger's arms. It lengthens understanding and patience as one views sacrifices and hardship in the eyes of a kid.

I may not be the best, perky future mom there is. I don't even know if I'll ever be one. I still may not act naturally with kids as they are really seriously not my favorites. But most definitely I know my responsibility. I can be an advocate to their cause. I may not show it by gushing over and being in close proximity with them in the event I'd make it an entire awkward space, but protecting their rights, providing avenues for them to grow and constantly supporting them in resources and respectable attention are things that I know I could do well.

I'm not entirely hopeless, you know. I can be useful to kids, especially those who really need my help. I could even make Dave Pelzer proud for influencing me to understand kids further and find angles I could appreciate. I have a young brother and I swear I can relate with him more at some certain planes of discussion than any adult I know. Also, he knows that I may not be the ideal older sister. I am actually quite the pestering opposite. But he well knows I'll fight for any of his causes. Most people are lucky. I can say I'm one of those and I'm damn thankful because I know for a fact that I was once a kid too, and I could just as easily be in the shoes of David Pelzer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Days in Stock Exchange

For the past two days I've went against my usual routine. I was out of the office on a company training, which meant influx of messages in inbox. This equally translates to tons of work when I get back. But there's practically nothing to complain about. Catered meals and overflowing coffee's better than working or pretending to work. Except that the topic is all about Stocks.

Stocks immediately registered images of commodity in financial market, shares, Tom Hank's 80's movie, wall street guys in white shirts and ties, Ticker boards, company names, trading floor, phones, shouting, stress and stockbrokers in a den, that's what stocks is all about. But surprisingly, it's not that primitive anymore. Almost everything has already been automated. There's no more shouting as trade happens in the big electric board, silently, suddenly. The aura of sophistication and corporate elite envelope the whole area. As I walked the carpeted floors, I felt that it's a place that could give someone the creeps, and on others, thrill and excitement. This is where it all happens. This is where stocks rise to make thousands of people richer or poorer. This is where jubilation and depression happens at initial stages of win or lose. For me, this is where I become catatonic and vulnerable to massive mood swings.

You see, I have a couple of prejudices in my life and one of it is my feeling towards math or anything finance related. I can do simple math and simple money logic, but anything beyond that is complex to me. I have no interest and heart for computing. I like the generation, steady flow and management of money, although the nitty gritty stuff I tend to keep at bay. I'm not good with manipulating money through computation and certainly I didn't earn any professional degree to play around with the figures. That's why when I learned that I was going to be training about stocks, I was close to panicking.

I'm not going to recount the details that left my brain cells dry, but pretty much we discussed essential things when dealing with stocks. We had the usual introduction and history, regulations seminar, lectures on IPO and enlisting (just in case we would want to enlist our future company), managing and acquiring shares, fundamental analysis and technical analysis (Graphs etc.). There were times wherein my mind drifted into space and imagined the whole boardroom filled with shareholders as I am their chairwoman. There were also times when I'm looking at the speakers oozing with skill and knowledge, that soon, given my billion-worth company, I would hire their services and let them compute the EV/IBITDA. Damn, and let it be done with it. I am late for my lunch with Warren Buffet!

But seriously, at the end, I did gain some useful stuff and insight. I can say I'm not an ignoramus anymore with stocks. I know a bit. In fact I kept a couple of contact numbers and notes. But if there's anything important I gained with those past two days was my interest to invest. I may not have mastered or completely learned the various computation in the fundamental analysis. Nor am I an expert in graphs or technical analysis, but the strategies, gut feel and will to engage in stocks are something learned individually and doesn't take much of a PHD. If there's anything to be gained from this seminar is the heightened interest to invest, and I believe I'm going to score an A on that!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Movie 101: Indiana Jones Pt. 4

I had a wonderful night, enjoyed an early dinner at Pepper Lunch (again) after which I watched the much-anticipated movie, the fourth installment of Indiana Jones.

But first, I have to write something that you guys wouldn't probably believe.

Here it goes.

I have never actually watched ANY Indiana Jones film, except this Crystal Skull. I'm an 80's kid, passable for a movie lover, but for some reason my childhood missed out on this one. And I have no idea, why.

Whenever I say this particular information of my life, people at first couldn't believe it. Afterwards the pitiful look sinks in. They feel kind of sorry for me. Knowing that almost everyone in my generation has watched at least one Indiana Jones movie makes me feel kind of pathetic. Where the hell was I?

But don't get me wrong. I'm not really an Indiana Jones ignoramus. I know how he looks like, all khaki, with his hat, with his whip and with a McGyver meets the jungle get-up. I'm also quite familiar on how an Indiana Jones movie goes along. It's all a cat-and mouse adventure chase loaded with breathtaking sequences. I'm also quite familiar that Indiana Jones is played by no other than Harisson Ford. Although I automatically register Harisson Ford for playing the modern normal joe characters trapped in some actioned-pack conspiracy (watch The accidental tourist, fugitive, 7 days and 7 nights). And who could ever mistake that original musical score that was used in a couple of commercials? (I think one was with Ovaltine)

Kingdom of Crystal Skull showcases what Indiana Jones is known to do. Escape in invisible circumstances with breathtaking action sequences that Spielberg is known to pull off. Watching the movie, watching Indiana Jones for the first time, made me appreciate what the hero is all about. There was no more character development for the protagonist since it's expected that all the character developments were already exhaustively depicted in the previous movies, which everyone is aware of except me.

But the movie incorporates all the essential things to successfully create an entertaining adventure chase with the usual web-engulfed tombs and lush jungle locations. This is also the first time I've actually seen Cate Blanchett display some combat skills. I should say I'm impressed, but does she really have to be Dr. Spalko? Is this another Pepper-Potts kind of thing? Sure she spells evil, but I think she deserves more than that. I guess she was also curious with enough time on her hands. But I have to hand it to her, she makes the gray jumpsuit look so sexy, not to mention, sporting a bob that's a trend now. She puts so much truth to her Ukrainian character that you have to remind yourself that this woman actually played Elizabeth, the queen of England, and in truth she's an Australian. Meanwhile, the next movie star, Shia LeBouf, plays the tough teenage guy who seeks the help of Indiana Jones. Except for his fun-combing scenes, I don't feel him quite selling the tough version. I prefer to see him more of an effective apprentice, who scrambles a lot, than a kid playing to be tough, smooth and surviving at the end of the day. Harisson Ford as always still looks sexy. You just have to excuse and push his age aside. It doesn't stop him from throwing some punches here and there and selling his "pressured-in-some-sort-of-situation face." But I must say, seeing him play the professor versus seeing him clad in his Indiana Jones getup is a world of difference. From grandpa to dad. Ha-ha

Watching the movie is entertainment round the clock. Sure, there were some sentimental scenes and lines here and there, but it's forgivable. The cool action scenes will make up for it. It's a movie that gives less room for expectations because what else can you expect from Indiana Jones, right? The reactions of people are quite favorable, but I wouldn't be able to compare if it is the best Indiana Movie installment, since this is my first to date. I'd better buy some collectors' dvd and catch up.

All in all, Indiana Jones is very fast paced film. It is entertaining and kind of fun to watch when you want to pass the time. It's a sort of action eye candy. Some of my friends even coined the term "authentically indiana." Whatever that means, I guess it stuck to the feel of the franchise, together with the actor, the plot, the costume and the director. It's a good effort for a comeback. And if it's good enough for the rest, then it's good enough for me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book 101: The Red Magician

My recently ordered books just arrived two days ago. Much to my mother's dismay, it equally results to added unaccommodated relics of interest or kalat. And since a friend of mine just recently wanted to borrow specific titles, the need to arrange and catalog my book collection was imminent. Upon dusting a few books in one pile, I saw an old, yellow-paged thin book at the corner. I grabbed the book and was trying to remember where I actually bought it. I was quite sure I haven't read it and tried to skim through the pages. The next thing I knew I was in my bed, my dusting was put to a halt, and I began reading this interesting novel about The Red Magician, an award winning book by Lisa Goldstein.

The book follows the relationship of Voros and Kicsi at the start of their first encounter in Kicsi's small Hungarian Village. The story kicked off when the village's influential Rabbi threw a curse at the village school that teaches Hebrew, which may influence the youth negatively. In the event of the ongoing curse, a wandering traveler, with a distinctive red hair arrived in the small village and was accepted by Kicsi's family as a guest. Voros, they found out, had been to different places. He has an aura of wisdom, care and mysticism, which attracted the young Kicsi to him. In truth, he is a powerful magician who can battle evil, counter illusions and foresee the future. Voros, in the event of his stay, displayed his magical skills when there was a quick confrontation with the Rabbi's curse. He then garnered a reputation for being a powerful magician. His reason for being in the village was later on revealed when he warned people of an impending doom. He warned the people to flee the village and move to safer western lands. The Rabbi, being the leader of the congregation, contested him and forced him to leave.

Kicsi, being drawn to Voros, acted as his ally and friend. But when Voros was forced to retreat by the Rabbi, Kicsi was distraught and concentrated on looking for signs to see him again. But that was the time of Pre-Holocaust. In a few years, Nazi soldiers arrived at their village and forced them to leave their village and be taken to separate camps. This is what Voros was warning them about. The people went through the whole Holocaust regime wherein they were separated from their families, taken to extermination camps and concentration camps, stripped off their belongings, some executed and some were taken as slaves. They were constantly starved to death and drained of hope for liberation. All seems lost for Kicsi when Voros re-entered into her life together with the aid of American and Britain troops, which marks the end of the Nazi regime. Together, they help each others' causes. Voros is helping Kicsi recover physically and spiritually by instilling the importance of life to her. While Kicsi helps Voros to finally end his battle with the Rabbi, who hunts him down to avenge their village's annihilation.

This particular story highlights the human spirit against possibly the worst thing that has happened in our world's history, which is the Holocaust. It is a simple story of facing defeat, challenges and learning how to fight and live again. Aside from the context of magic and fantasy , the story makes one realize that no matter how painful and challenging life is, human beings are very resilient. The red magician represents hope and constant voice to listen to aid. He also represents the fight for life and retribution of past mistakes. Kicsi, already robbed of her family and loved ones, slowly picks up the pieces and saves herself from welcoming death to end all sufferings.

It's a heartfelt simple story recommended to be read by youngsters.

After finishing the book, I must say that it had a sudden effect on me. I went online and "wikied" information about the Holocaust. I must say the information, written in historical detail, was appalling. I have briefly seen a couple of Holocaust movies and books, but I ended up not thoroughly finishing it because it always ends up upsetting me. I couldn't reconcile how a "genocidal state" before thought of actually exterminating Jewish people as if they were insects. I cannot believe that it went on and accounted almost 11 million lives all over Europe. It's quite upsetting that every single arm of bureaucracy of that state fueled the genocide. Medical experiments done to children and inmates, distinguishing extermination camps to concentration camps, designed starvation, public executions and all types of abuses were recorded in history. I couldn't even bear to look at the historical pictures.

But just like Kicsi, the story shows that there is no room for sulking and revenge. What is best for everyone is to move on and surrender retribution to proper and legal procedures. Pain and history go hand in hand, but it could serve as an advantage to will it as a remembrance of lessons to treasure life and celebrate the resilient spirit of human beings.

*Pic sources:

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Make-Up Breakfast Treat

I was busy erasing some files in my digicam when I saw pictures I have randomly (and secretly) taken last weekend. Pekekek, apparently in a spontaneous happy mood, informed me last Saturday night to set the alarm and wake up at 6:30ish the following morning. Obviously, I objected being a not-so-morning person. 6:30 is practically still considered dawn for me. I asked what's the catch. Well, he just wanted to treat me to a delightful breakfast to make up his numerous weekday absences....and go with him to Greenbelt to pick up Kristine (his name for his beloved phone) from a repair job. (Yeah..) Would I say no to this, you think?

You're right. NOT!

I set my alarm at 6:30, and it worked. I did wake up at 6:30, but ended up calling Pekekek at around 7:15. By 7:45, I was ready.

We could've eaten at Sinangag Express in Better Living, but since it's a treat, we're setting the bar higher. If you're going to Makati, the possible choices would be Pancake House, McDonald's and Jollibee (obviously out), Coffee Bean, Dome, Pancake House? Pancake House? We had limited choices. Where else can you possible find a good breakfast restaurant with reasonable price?

As choices were drained, we were about to head to Pancake House Greenbelt or Flapjacks when Pekekek made a quick turn at Don Bosco Makati. His face lightened up as if he remembered something. And that idea was admittedly a kick-ass one. He took me to Amici Don Bosco.

At first, I didn't think that they serve breakfast, but being welcomed by Amici's complete staff, we started to settle in. Their breakfast menu has limited choices, but equally tempting. They serve a complete meal for less than 160 and that's with coffee. After nursing my optional paralysis, I ordered the ham and mushroom omelet with Italian Sausage while Pekekek ordered the ham and cheese omelet version. While waiting for our orders, we read the fresh Sunday newspapers, acting like an old couple enjoying breakfast after attending the 6 AM mass, which is mostly the set up in Amici when we were there.

In fairness, I'd have to say that Pekekek made a daring and right choice. Praise to his memory for remembering the place and setting up a great Sunday Morning.

As we got stuffed, happy and ready to go. I paused as I remembered something. Of course, I can't leave the place without getting their yummy, authentic gelato.
Make-up time accomplished with flying colors.

*Amici is located in Don Bosco Makati.

Add: 1299 Don Bosco School, Arnaiz Ave. cor Chino Roces Ave.
Tel: 818-4444
Hours: 7 am - 9 pm (Mondays to Sundays)
Cuisine: Authentic Italian (Yummy!) With gelato
Price: Very reasonable, way cheaper than Italianni's
* They also have a Tomas Morato Branch
* MOA Branch
*Also according to, if you have ran out of parking spaces inside Don Bosco(esp. in weekday lunch/dinner time), you can avail of the free parking lot at Waltermart for a minimum of 300 pesos total bill in Amici.

Congratulations, David Cook

As if it's not massively announced to the world that there's a new American Idol in town. One of the Davids, the older, David Cook, 25 years old bartender-musician in Missouri, captivated the hearts of millions as he conquered the pressure and expectations of the globally intense talent reality game show popularized in America. As his name was announced, a sudden rush of relief and surprise, were written in his face as he willingly accepted gracious victory against the crowd favorite, David Archuleta. But there's no sour nor bitter note to the ending as both Davids are deserving of the title and both are really talented musicians.

David Cook is the power vocal rocker type that is more like Chad Kruger of Nickelback. He is very versatile in interpreting songs in different genres. He is extremely talented, natural and has a great voice prowess. David Archuleta in the meanwhile has powerful vocals as he reminds you of quintessential balladeer of his generation. Like David Cook, he puts emotions and soul to any song and puts a heartfelt experience for the crowd to enjoy.

Both Davids are masters of their own genre. David Cook is the more daring, rocker, older brother version of the Archuleta's sublime, ballad and Grobanistic singing. Just like what Simon said, you couldn't really care less who wins at the end as both are very much deserving, talented and equally nice boys to boot.

But with a whopping 96 million voters, David Cook had a 12 million advantage over David Archuleta, who has always been noted to be a judge-viewer favorite.

It was quite surprising because I'm not really what you would call an American Idol fan. I'm aware that it happens, but just occasionally catches an episode or two. But I've never been familiar with the whole roster, frankly, couldn't care less. But in this season, I do believe I was tuned in to the show's developments. Probably because my brother and I watch it and constantly bet on our picks that made me equally competitive as the finalists. Last weekend, my brother and I had a bet on who's going to be the next idol. Eventhough we both admire the two Davids, we wanted Cook to win because of his star-like quality and his versatility. But for the sake of competition, I voted for Archuleta. But still, we were still clueless of what will happen.

On the first night, Archuleta got many praises for his performances as Cook only got a lukewarm review. Then I thought I had won, even though I personally prefer Cook. But the morning after, my mom texted me that I lost and I owe a Crepe to my brother. Yehey for Cook that he won, but Boo-Hoo for me, because I owe someone a good crepe.

This is probably the most competitive American Idol in history. Both are masters of their own genre. Both are equally good looking and deserving, yet someone came above and it's always a surprise.

Another favorite number of mine in the show was Carly Smithson and Michael John's performance. They're fiery and also talented! Kudos to them! I also wished David Noriega was invited to perform, but I guess there's limited time involved. If Mr. Vasquez was able to perform, how come not Noriega?! Blast!

Anyways, congratulations to both Davids! They deserve it! It was a sweet ending! And most especially congratulations to David Cook.

PS: Is it just me? Is he always on eyeliner make-up? Just interested to know.


More Meralco news

I've just read that Meralco owes 10 billion worth of refund to their consumers. I've also read that there is a need for more audit and investigative accounting procedures needed to identify and sort out "fishing" activities allegedly done by this giant power provider.

What is it also that I read that GSIS spokeswoman, Atty. Elamparo, accused Meralco officials to have been committing forgery by using their employees' signature from their own time cards. That's just plain elementary sickening! For those employees, please do speak up and verify.

Meralco should open their books now and get it over with. Clear their name or be accountable for all the billions of corrupted money from us, consumers!

Just like former NEDA secretary Neri said, "they are accountable for being a publicly listed company and a PUBLIC UTILITY company."

What a whole accounting, legal and media mess, and this is ran by a private entity! What a stain to our business nature.

Hay, People never learn to take hint from other monkey-business doers who have met their doom due to their own scams. Meralco, please come out and and get your answers together because the headlines are really upsetting.

P.S. Is Celine Lopez even related to these Lopezes? Just trying to connect the trend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

100th POST! Yehey


I've just marked my 100th post for this blog! I've be
en keeping this blog alive since late 2007. It seems I have more time, more access in my hands right now.

This blog is not perfect, but it's my own and I'm happy to say it's a working progress.
Thanks for reading!

Happy Blogging!


Price Paranoia Rants

Ack! What's happening? I'm staring at a USD 130 Per Barrel headline, when I was just blogging a few weeks ago or at least 2 months ago that we were just experiencing a USD 120 barrel high.

Unbelievable! Never in my wildest dreams would I see it consistently climbing this high. I couldn't even bear to find enjoyment in driving anymore. What the hell is happening? Are we really running out of oil? Is this just a market bullcrap? Or I wish it's just a nightmare.

Market has been paranoid if there's enough oil inventories in the US. So with this price increase, basic law of economics, one would assume that there's a deficit. Demand for global consumption of all cannot be met.

But if some people are just paranoid on their rising gas bills, some are paranoid of a looming trade/price war or a political war when it comes to dealing with OPEC countries. In some reports, they're saying that OPEC companies fail to budge and give in the supply to match the demand for oil. Continuous meetings, political 'beggings' to these oil magnet countries are present in an attempt to cool down the prices, but OPEC will not announce any decision until the September meet. How very convenient? Now, they seem to be enjoying people leaning and depending on their shoulders.

To put into perspective, Eric Wittenauer, analyst of Wachovia Securities, said that "growing tensions between Washington and Tehran's looming, fueling paranoia of war. Washington in the meanwhile passed a bill on Tuesday authorizing a federal government to sue OPEC in US courts over alleged price fixing, in the latest swipe at the cartel over skyrocketing prices." (Manliatimes)

Meanwhile in the Philippines, people are still clamoring for prices of oil to cool down, together with the prices of everything else, if we get super lucky. It seems it's falling on deaf ears. Oh, and by the way, I just heard, the flag down jeepney ride was just raised from 7.50 pesos to 8 pesos this week.

Worst thing that could happen? Probably the war.
What I think could actually happen for the next couple of days? Well, the usual. Sudden bouts of paranoia. Indigestion. Frustration etc.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One of those men topics

In this day and age when accessibility and promotion of cosmetic surgery are welcome, different types of enhancement in a woman's body are already accepted and comfortably discussed. Boob jobs. Butts jobs. Face jobs, name it. Even transsexuals seem to join the bandwagon. All of them have achieved a certain level of normality. So, is penis enlargement any different?

I've seen penis enhancers in cable commercials before. It comes in pills, workout videos and some vibrating machines that make you wonder if it really does do the work. We have to face the fact that penis enlargement may not be as popular as boob enhancement though. But the concept and the reasons behind these two gender-defining cosmetic jobs are the same. It's for added sexual pleasure and to boost attractiveness to the opposite sex or same sex for that matter..

But I've got a lot of questions...I mean a lot....

First, the operation involves cutting of the ligament connecting the penis to the pelvis. And to achieve girth (width), certain fatty implants from lower abdomen and ribs are used. Just a question, does the operation require the penis to be erect? If yes, well, is it possible to hold it in that position in a few hours? Or if not, well how could know...test it if it's a success or not? Do they have to come back after three weeks, watch a video with a ruler, or submit a feedback form filled up by their sexual partner?

Second, healing process involves bruising, swelling, no sex (of any kind) and no intense walking activities for at least 3 weeks. Healing, it's a given. Bruising, yes sure. No sex, well...what's 3 weeks..think long-term. No intense walking activities, well, just don't make it look so obvious or people would think you're suffering from hemorrhoids. And I'm sure they have to endure wearing some sort of bandage-brief.

Third, possible effects may be scarring and infection. Unfortunately, it doesn't effect sensitivity. Can you imagine if it did? Should the sensitivity factor be more considered than just added length?

Fourth, claim to fame is at least a half an inch or an inch additional length. But according to a report in Manila Standard. "However, a research conducted by St. Peter’s Andrology Centre and Institute of Urology in London from September 1998 to January 2005 of 42 men who received penile enlargement surgery found that only 70 percent of the patients were dissatisfied with the outcome of surgery. These subjects reported embarrassment and anxiety when changing in front of others as well as disappointment due to unrealistic expectations. Dr. Tica notes that a patient needs to undergo a test to check if he is psychologically balanced."

Bottomline is to just be realistic, choose a reputable doctor, and be mentally stable.

Lastly, cost is at 100,000 pesos. For half an inch?!!!

Really now, would that incur so much difference? It's insane. Like any other cosmetic enhancements or surgeries, this is plain vanity. But who cares, it's not your money anyway, it's not your penis either that's on the operating table. Who knows, maybe that half an inch may be a mile of curing ones insecurities and achieving optimal pleasure for the partner right? Well, analyzing it, penis enhancement isn't bad at all. It boosts confidence and erases insecurity plus you're doing the 'giving' to your partner. You cure yourself and you offer pleasure to others. Wow.

And by the way, men seldom disclose their whatever-insecurity about their manhood. I mean, pretty much, they're comfortable at building it up as it is. So I wonder, men, who actually ponder going under this procedure, must really feel....small, unless they're a big porn star wannabe. But then again, I find this all too fascinating.

Are you burned out?

Burned out. What a wonderful phrase! It means you need VACA! Like what’s seen in the cartoon, I think this term should be dealt with utmost seriousness and care. Because it happens. It’s not an excuse to be dramatic ( I just wish it was). It happened to me and it could happen to anyone. Anyone who has been working, initially loved and exerted so much for their jobs or careers or whatever professional term it’s called, has a tendency to get burned out. Some have miraculously avoided it. Some overcame it. Some are recuperating still. And some are realizing it when it’s already too late.

Sharing with you an article I read this morning in AOL, Signs that you are Burned out on a Job. It’s funny, on my way to work with my dad this morning, he asked me if he could just entirely quit his job because he’s had enough. He just wants to fully retire, which he has been planning um…10 years ago, ever since the idea erupted. He said he doesn’t feel passionate about his work anymore. The harmony in his office with his colleagues and friends is not present. He doesn’t even know why he gets up every morning and manages to sit there in his office, attend meetings, talk to people, make transactions when he clearly knows he’s not happy. If not only for security, preparations and money, he would’ve flown to his hometown right now, enjoying his house by the beach being away from it all. Is it another one of his midlife crisis or just a typical burnout? For me, that’s a perfect example of being burned out. Only that, he like most, realized it too late to prevent it. I mean, hello, he’s already 54 and he’s been planning to retire 10 years ago, but he’s still there…chugging until the last flicker goes out. I don’t want to see him exhaust that last spark. That would be scary.

I’ve had major burn out moments since 19 years old, coupled with crazy schedules, towering deliverables and clash of people’s personalities. I started rough and I could vividly remember the horrors. Friday always seemed to be a glorious miracle of life and Sunday, having dinner with the family after mass, felt like The it’s the Last Supper. In the mornings, you couldn’t eat breakfast because your stomach’s full of butterflies that feed on deadlines and the thought of people you’re not excited to bump into. The hectic metropolitan setting doesn’t help uplift the ambiance as you enter the cramped up elevator silently listening to the hard thumping of your heart. You enter the battlefield and couldn’t wait for the sun to set. When you go home, looking yourself at the mirror, you’d honestly think that Stresstabs were invented because of you.

Sounds familiar?

There are different reasons for being burned out. There are also different approaches to acknowledging and coping with it, but the symptoms are the same. According to Dr. Todd Dewett, author of the book “Leadership Redefined,” being burned out doesn’t happen overnight. It usually involves in tiny little chunks that make it hard to distinguish if you’re just having dramatic stressful moments or actually already in the process of burning out. Backed up by Jim Bouchard, author of “Dynamic Concepts of Personal Power.” He said that “most people will experience temporary periods of burnout or imbalance.” It doesn’t take a genius to know that continuous and long imbalance can be dangerous to ones health, relationships with other people and can sabotage your job.”

I know a couple of friends who are trapped in the professional world doing things that they know they don’t want to do, but can’t seem to think of anything else to pay for their bills. Been there. I know a couple of friends who know that their fluctuating schedules, working conditions and deliverables seem to regularly compromise their time with their families, loved ones and well beings. Been there. I also know some whose life revolves around the toxicity of work just because their personalities crave for it, neglecting other aspects of their lives, which results to massive imbalance and adherence to temporary remedies. Been there. I also know some are not lucky enough to work with encouraging and positive people, conducive working environment and sufficient compensation. Been there. But how do you know if these things have already affected your balance? How would you know that these reasons have burned you out?

According to AOL, there are symptoms to look into to know if one is burned out: (Continuous)

1. Your professional relationships don’t matter anymore

True. Almost everyone I know seem to view this as the make or break deal. Others hate their jobs, their offices even their bosses, but still seem to find the strength from their coworkers. People can stay in a grumpy work environment as long as good professional relationship stands. That’s why if you’re not comfortable with the people anymore, or you find them literally not uplifting your tired and confused situation, then there’s really something wrong with it already.

2. Quality of work isn’t what it used to.
Very very true. It happened to me at the latter parts of being burned out. I’m not interested with my work anymore. I’m just forcing myself to get up and work everyday. It reflected in my quality of output. It was mediocre, dull and sometimes inaccurate. I really couldn’t care less anymore. As long as I pass it on time and go home, that’s good enough for me.

3. You’re not goal-oriented anymore

In connection to symptom number 2, you just couldn’t care less. You pass mediocre work not to impress anyone. Promotion is not a big deal for you anymore. Your goals have become reduced to mundane issues of life. There’s no bigger picture than deciding what you’ll have for lunch. Everything else becomes so comfortable and so boring.

If you feel these top three symptoms, all at the same time in such convincing degrees, well I guess you’re already in the process of burning out. Do not wait for it to consume you or put you on a professional coma. Do something about it. Get a long vacation. Talk to your management and reinstate your goals. Concentrate on your work and leave it after 5:30 and spend quality time with your friends. Or else…make that dreaded change. Resign.

Monday, May 19, 2008

RCBC Robbery Rant


I’ve heard of robbery stories ever since I was little. It’s a regular in news channels. I’ve also accepted the fact that sometimes we couldn’t do anything about it, no matter how we prevent it. We are left to just pray that it wouldn’t happen to us personally, and if ever it will, to have our lives spared and act sensibly on trying times. Robberies have many fueling reasons behind it, I’m sure. But nothing beats the drive to soothe monetary desperation. Robberies, especially bank robberies, target on tangible items or currencies of value. But robberies, in a more tolerable perspective, need not involve the destruction of lives.

I was reading a newspaper last night, at around 10ish, when GMA 7 issued a newsflash stating that the crucial witness to the heinous RCBC Robbery, in Cabuyao Laguna, already died, adding up the death toll to 10.

There goes the only one witness, crushing the hopes of the few. But seriously who can blame his spirit? How can he have possibly survived the shot at the temple? It would take time, and taking time to solve problems in this country, is something that we’re already masters of. I know almost everyone must have been praying for a miracle, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

And for some who don’t know what the hell I am talking about, well consider yourselves obliviously lucky to be far away from these types of dangers and gruesome information that would make your blood boil and your heart crunch.

For a brief recount, RCBC branch in Cabuyao, Laugna was robbed Friday Morning, March 16, 2008 at the earliest time the doors opened for their regular transaction. A total of 8 RCBC employees were killed and this included the helpless janitor. They were all lined up and bullet wounds depict that it was done in “execution style” (at head area-gunpoint). The chief of Police in the area, Moises Pagaduan, received a phone call at 9:20 am from the administration office of Laguna Industrial Science Park to report probably one of the bloodiest and gruesome bank robberies in Philippine history.

Upon reaching the scene of the crime, they saw the tables were disarrayed, bodies lined up, guards missing and the Mitsubishi color silver gray XHS 341, owned by one of the employees, were used as a getaway car. All security videos successfully destroyed. Most importantly, they found the relationship manager, Isagani Pastor, at that time still fighting for his life. But unfortunately, the closest eye witness died last night.

So now, a total of 9 RCBC employees and 1 RCBC client were killed in the bank robbery. This sends out a deafening alarm to the region. It sends a continuous threat to thousands of bank branches all over the Philippines. And most especially, it again shakes up citizens to reevaluate security measures and vigilance in situations like these.

Right now, certain sketches, information from remaining witnesses (outside the bank), are the main hopes of capturing these infidels that you’d want to mentally flay alive. Seriously I want to flay them alive. Dip them in my imaginary artificial volcano boiling of hot magma. I couldn’t help but feel angry with the system and express my sorrow and frustrations to the shocked families of the fatalities. I’m sure no one in that bank deserved that kind of treatment. Robbing a bank, destroying its fixed assets, draining its money, is one thing, but murdering people (esp. in execution style) is something gravely sickening and unacceptable. Of course, at some circumstances some robbers have also taken lives, but it’s usually a rarity that wered faced in certain circumstances. Whatever happened in RCBC is a bank robbery plus a firing squad making the branch a trigger happy murdering fort, which had helpless people as its targets.

Investigators are finding the possible loopholes to the security systems. Driving a car without a plate number. Thorough background investigation of guards on duty. Bank location and bank security have all been taken in consideration. But like I said, no matter how thorough the system may be, people, depending on their mental severity, would still find ways to test it. Those who robbed and murdered RCBC are not any different from murderers in Johanessburg, South Africa. They’ve made a sorrow choice in their sorry little lives. The act was premeditated. It earned them a ticket to lethal injection and hell, chronologically. I seriously hope they get caught and undergo a public trial and execution. That would be sweet.

But kidding, or not kidding aside, I hope this makes people appreciate their lives more. This situation could happen to anyone. It could happen to any bank. Therefore this incident opens up ways be vigilant at all trying times. I also hope this serves as a wake up call to heighten up bank securities, or any security system (tech or not) of public establishments. After all, in situations like these, all we can ever do is to prevent it in anyway we possibly can; and pray that our lives do not hang in the in guilty hands.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bad Burma

I read a very upsetting news today.

It seems that the UN aid workers are being banned by the Burma(union or Myanmar) junta in providing basic necessities and medical aid to the devastating victims of the most recent cyclone, that took lives of more than 25,000 and risking the lives of 1.5 million locals.

Personally, I find it very frustrating to know that there are some certain government or state that values political interests more than taking care of its people, especially fighting calamities that rob people of lives and basic necessities to live.

The world is complicated with its political division, that is a given. But if there's an endangerment of lives due to natural or inflicted causes, I think certain sovereign rules should be bent. It's not a disloyalty to your nationality, it's a form of accountability to humans.

Placing Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who leads the National Democratic Party, is placed under house arrest by the military regime. There are continuous and various reported human rights abuse incidents done by the military, and condoning of illegal industries are just some of the things they have to explain and atone for. But blocking access to global help is something they should be ashamed of, greatly. Honestly that's just plain stupid. They've messed up their priorities. Why don't they look at the people, whose only concern is to live. Children and elderly are exposed to devastating circumstances that may encourage diseases and even death.

There must be something done with this government. Not only do they block aid, but isn't there irresponsibility in the beginning for the authorities failed to warn of the impending cyclone, as reported in the Burma might not be welcoming to the global community, but officials are not that smart either, which could be their loophole in keeping in tact their dangerous concept of sovereignty.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

To get through the day

I think I'm going broke. I'm under recession as well. I'm doing some random excel reports one minute, then later on realized I'm already calculating my finances. I'm particularly calculating the amount I would have to withdraw for this weekend to pay my credit card bills, to pay for my planned weekend leisure activities, and of course to pay for my food treat to my siblings and cousin, who happenened to fly from Cebu for this summer.

Funny thing is, I've always been good with money. I'm not good at making them the way I'm supposed to, but I'm good at keeping them at bay. I'm frugal. I'm practical. Probably I would have to thank my SHOPPING trait for never gaining strength in my personality, or my fashion radar for being weak at picking up signals. I'm what you would call a SIMPLE SPENDER. Yes, I indulge in food here and there, but that's practically excused. I merely spend 400 bucks a meal at good restaurants twice in one week and that's at most.

But calculating my present cash at my ATM account and what I currently have now, I think I'm this close to filing for bankruptcy. And I'm not being dramatic like others who like to demonstrate that they're getting broke just to feel good about themselves at the end. I do not need that. I only need to eat good food to feel better. Over procrastinating and getting so pessimistic about money are not my idea of a good power trip.

Thinking about it now, there are certain factors that might have affecting this looming personal financial crisis. Maybe I wasn't able to recuperate from my previous Boracay trip. The past payday was just designated for my credit card bills, but still. What went wrong? Did I go overboard this time? With what?

Ah yes, I had to treat people, my two siblings are on their summer vacations (Which is about to end in exactly a month,thank god) and I happen to be the one working and financing their needs. Also, my cousin flew in from Cebu two weeks ago and added to the financial joyride. What did we do basically? Renting badminton courts at 250 Pesos an hour, eating out..eating out...eating out?

If you would summarize everything my money just paid for intangible stuff, which is food. Come to think of it, I never bought anything tangible. I did not invest in anything whether it may be stocks or purchases. Nothing. Just good food, great company and satisfying pleasures for others.

Come to think of it, I might be going broke now, but looking back, I had fun and feel that it's worth it.

Now, I suddenly felt better.