Sunday, September 28, 2008

Justified Drinking

A friend of mine, whom I haven't seen in a very very long time, just texted me that he is getting drunk with Beer. Okay, he never drinks beer. I've never shared a drinking session with him. He has always been the coffee, artsy fartsy kind of guy, but no...he's getting drunk and his text was "partylike." Weird, but heck, he deserves it. After having finished the last bar exam today all hell should break loose. All those months of studying, being isolated from almost everything (but your books and self); and not to mention the nerve wracking future on that piece of paper, will surely leave an average person to bits and pieces. I don't care what he drinks. As long as he's having fun and being wild from all those repressed and pressurized shit he's been dealing with for the past few months, then it's good enough for me.

I told him we could get drunk as well. Only not to specify the specific drink. It could be drunk with conversation and some cappuccinos. For today, let those bar examiners get wild however and whenever they can!

Gadgets to my Dad

My brother is glued to his PSP ever since he clutched it. His Playstation and Xbox units, as far as we're concerned, have transformed to junk displays. My dad even tries to connect almost all his mischievous acts, poor academic performance and hideous conduct to PSP. He always scolds him about it only to find himself bringing another one home.

It wasn't by choice. His credit card earned it for him. Now my dad asks us: "Where's my PSP?" as if it's really his. But he mentioned that it could be carried around for movie watching. Great, he'd want us to download those Chuck Norris movies again. I thought we already escaped that torture when he bought an IPOD Video.

The Astra Zeneca Ad by DT, Ria Aquino and Mitch Bautista

Cheers to Mitch Bautista, DT Photographers and Ria Aquino (MUA) for pulling off a brilliant photo shoot.

Their Ad for Astra Zeneca is currently printed in Manila Bulletin's Classified Ads section today!

What can I say? I'm just exceedingly glad and proud for my babe! Great work, everyone!

Blogless, Wackyless Weekend

Points to consider

If this blog has no updates for the entire day it might be a result of either or a combination of these three main factors:

  1. Me being surprisingly mobile. (slumber party, teambuilding whatchamacallit, camping chuvaness, travel tralala)
  2. No internet connection or poor internet connection.
  3. Computer's completely whacked
  4. Internet connection and unit are present yet site is restricted and no proxy is made available.
Starting Friday night until this morning, it was a combination of four.

I spent Friday night as a house guest in the newly renovated Bagui Residence in Rosemallow.

Early morning, the entire Saturday, I was mobile(and freaking sleepless) with Mitch at far in Banawe QC.

Saturday night ended up taking power naps in the Bautista residence after a good helping of Spicy Tuna Pasta.

Reaching my home sweet home last night, I woke up to a dead computer. Stress 101, only to find out that the AVR ended its life, but leaving the computer completely unharmed. Having gotten a new AVR, which will soon be replaced by UPS, I find myself back to blogging.

But nothing particularly extravagant happened. I ate at Tomato Grill in Banawe, which I like. I trotted my ass with Mitch going to photogear shops as I shamelessly tried to regain my sleep in the sofas there. We were supposed to go to Chicane, but due to unforeseen events, didn't. Couldn't care less. Then our plan shifted to watching Eagle Eye, yet lack of sleep made us settle with Chris Farley's Ninja movie in HBO instead. Disappointed, but sleep was a priority.

Nothing wacky to report, but I feel I've only gained back my strength just now.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Guess who's THE MAD HATTER?

Oh my HEART! And you thought Sweeney Todd is going to be their last film together?!

Three Words. THE MAD HATTER.

Combining the artistically eccentric film making of Tim Burton with the eccentrically powerful and classic performance of Johnny Depp, would surely bring Alice and Wonderland to its full potential! I can smell and envision how this movie is going to be like. Fully incorporating the same factors I’ve seen in Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas, Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and Sleepy Hallow, would surely make this metaphorical and popular story with a touch of eerie and avant garde brand.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp first worked in Edward Scissorhands in 1990’s and they have built the longest, strongest, complimentary and most effective Director-Actor partnerships in Hollywood! If an artist has a muse, Burton definitely found one in um…Johnny Depp.

Whatever project Tim Burton decides to make there will always be a role perfect for Johnny Depp. It’s more than enough representation of more than five movies to know that their collaboration is effortless and effective. They make films like attending regular conventions! They make movies whenever they feel like it, whenever they have time, whenever they come up with a brilliant idea and whenever they need each other for a creative boost!

And it’s about time they picked Alice in Wonderland, which is a part of my freaking childhood and is still an active part of my adult life! You have no idea! I still have my overused vcd ready for viewing at home, and I think I have another copy in my laptop backpack (Together with Sleeping Beauty, 1970’s Charlie and Chocolate Factory, Three Men and a Baby) whenever I’m at the coffee shop doodling around. I cannot count the times I’ve watched it in Coffee Bean Greenbelt in my “dark ages” complete with head gear.

I cannot wait! Counting!

*Other notes:
One of my favorite parts of the animated film and book chapters would be the The Tea Party and of course the pesky twins, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. But I just had to make sure that the twins will be in the movie, since they only appear on “Through the Looking Glass” book two of the Adventures of Alice. Good thing the production team decided to combine the books and take cue from other film versions to incorporate everything to “Alice in Wonderland.”

*Mia Wasikowska will play Alice and Matt Lucas will play Tweedledee and Tweedledum. I can’t wait to see who will play the QUEEN, and the walrus, and the carpenter, and the dodo, and the lizard, and the ever “HIGH” caterpillar, and the rabbit……..

*I heard that Lewis Caroll was “high” making this story. I wouldn’t be surprised though. I think it served its purpose.

*Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Walrus and the Carpenter)

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright --
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done --
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying over head --
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."

The eldest Oyster looked at him.
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head --
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat --
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more --
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing-wax --
Of cabbages -- and kings --
And why the sea is boiling hot --
And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed --
Now if you're ready Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue,
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said
"Do you admire the view?

"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf --
I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"

"I weep for you," the Walrus said.
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size.
Holding his pocket handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter.
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none --
And that was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.'

We lost...and?

And so the rivalry continues and I think it won’t ever die down.

Yeah we lost the UAAP Season 71 Basketball League...over Ateneo. Double Crap. But a Lasallian’s life gracefully goes on. Ateneans might have a good lineup this year (And fairly good looking players), but Basketball is basketball. It’s not just the only aspect of “institutional quality.” I specifically don’t mind giving way, I mean, for a change? We don’t have anything else to prove anyways, and we’re so mature and saturated with the sweetness of victory. We have so many things to offer to just be completely ridiculed. One thing, we are never going to be that obvious when we’re hungry. Seriously.

Well, this post is not about my brilliant school, that’s DLSU, and the time I’ve blissfully spent in its state of the art buildings. I’m not going to magnify how I survived the horrendous curriculum and the intense pressure of a Lasallian’s life. I’m not even going to bash the other school just to feel better. What for? I’m already proud of my school anyways and whatever specific area do we need to prove? We excel in special fields and produce the best accountants, business thinkers, engineers and computer experts. We also have strong liberal arts, science and education curriculum. And...contrary to popular Atenean beliefs, we’re not apathetic. For the record, we’re fast paced movers and we are taught in an environment to make up our own minds. We are competitive, but we do not rely on the name. We rely on results. We’re not hogged down by the intense school spirit just to fight the other school. For us, there’s really no need to. It’s already understated. At least that’s how I felt when I was in La Salle and that’s how I still feel up to now. So I don’t really mind if I’m surrounded by Ateneans in a room, or if they bash my school in front of me. I’ll defend it however I can in a way a Lasallian is taught to do. Observe the potential nitwits for entertainment, point out the objectives and be practical not to engage in word-shit brawls because it’s a waste of time and resources. Learn from a Lasallian about managing time, alienation and metropolitan pressure, then some can start brilliantly talking.

Crap we lost, but sometimes too much of everything is bad. Carry on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So much for Autism Test

I chanced upon this link for an Autism Test in one of the regular blogs that I read. Yes, you read that right. It’s an Autism Test.

Usually harmless and sometimes stupid tests are composed of personality tests, girly tests (the ones you find in cosmopolitan magazines), and some random social tests. Other tests concentrating in IQ are just plain intimidating and academic, but whoever hasn’t taken one should at least, um, take once in his lifetime. It’s a thing or two a person should at least know about himself.

Anyways, probably someone who made this isn’t seriously considering it to be a credible reference. I mean, it’s Autism. It’s not a laughing matter. It needs in depth scientific psychoanalysis. Most probably this might be ranging from a joke to an ill attempt to provide a pro-bono testing site for those who are just damn curious to know. The latter includes me. So if ever you'll take this one, don't get overstressed if you find yourself autistic.

So I took my time and lo and behold, according to this test I’m 2 points away from being seriously autistic. I doubt if most people who know me would be surprised anyways. But seriously, I’m not. I was just bored.

Another Literary Agenda: Mr. Wallace

In a section of NY Times that usually houses articles about books, novels, culture, writers, artists, I chanced upon one that left me intrigued like how a bookish collector and voracious reader would be intrigued. Usually, reactions to articles vary, from none to slightly intrigued to highly intrigued that would make me rush to the bookstores and buy. I’m currently in a slightly intrigued stage, which is pretty much impressive.

For some weird reason, I want to read one of his works next, soon I would hope. His works promised in depth examination of his generation, culture and complexities of human emotions.

A versatile writer of seemingly bottomless energy, Mr. Wallace was a maximalist, exhibiting in his work a huge, even manic curiosity — about the physical world, about the much larger universe of human feelings and about the complexity of living in America at the end of the 20th century. He wrote long books, complete with reflective and often hilariously self-conscious footnotes, and he wrote long sentences, with the playfulness of a master punctuater and the inventiveness of a genius grammarian. Critics often noted that he was not only an experimenter and a showoff, but also a God-fearing moralist with a fierce honesty in confronting the existence of contradiction.

I told you, intriguing. Hopefully I’m worthy reading his works.

One reason I think I cannot be an MD

One most important reason why I think I couldn’t and shouldn’t be a doctor is because I don’t have the required people skills. Most do not actually consider this as a factor for medical practitioners. Who needs people skills in a medical field or in an operating table? But it matters most especially to patients. In the medical field where people are the usual clients, sentimentalities and feelings are involved. We are not machines and medical practitioners may face instances of empathizing or in depth emotional interaction with patients. This is where I will, hands down, fail.

I don’t empathize that much, and if ever I do it drains me out. I mostly fail in human interactions in the first place. While I was studying briefly at AIM (Asian Institute of Management), I had a class on Organizational Development. We did an experiment, the Myers-Brigg Test, to know my real personality and to which profession I belong to. It turned out, I lacked in the Feeling trait versus the thinking trait. Plus, I rely more on “calculated” intuition rather than scientific detailing, two most important facets of personality a doctor must have. According to the test, a medical professional should be able to meet high demands on the Sensory part (Details, scientific data) while being able to integrate well on the aspect of Feeling (Caring for a patient, engaging in interactions etc.). Apparently I scored very low on the feeling part and mostly I rely on my calculated intuition rather than memorized data. In the end my agreeable result came up. According to the test, I could be better off as a librarian, a researcher or some professional that requires knowledge process management preferably in an isolated environment.

Medical practitioners for me are people in between. We expect them to be good with what they do, scientifically. Their mind should always be working and vigilant with data gathering and medical interpretations. Yet, at the same time, we expect them to be nice, caring and soothing. Their mantra shouldn’t just be limited to eliminating or curing an ailment. They should also be caring and soothing in the process. They should consider the patient’s feelings, emotional concerns and psychological whiplash, aside from just interpreting medical data.

Maybe that’s the real reason why this profession is hard. You can’t blame if medical practitioners shield themselves up to properly do their job. Being faced with human concerns is so draining. It might take a lot of painstaking years to study and manage medical science, but it takes a lifetime to practice it. They might have had it rough balancing these two aspects, but as a patient, I wouldn’t have it otherwise.

I think majority of the medical practitioners from Biotechs to Doctors I’ve consulted with, exhibited a certain level of care for me even for a little percent. However I had some medical practitioners, who “almost” have the same personality as mine. It’s not advisable for which I will expound on. Based from experience, I prefer my doctors to be people in between.

Doctors that I’ve consulted with (Majority) are of course focused on fixing whatever’s wrong with me, but at the same time they make sure I am more comfortable in the process. Most nurses, biotechnicians, doctors and specialists, who administered my general check-ups, emergency cases, specialist consultations and minor surgeries, are worthy of my praise just because I’m a really difficult patient. When I go to the hospital for any reason I get quite nervous, but I don’t whine and fidget. I do worse. I blab and ask. I ask them about questions to distract myself. I would share with them what I read on the net, which they would usually dispute and laugh. I would ask them about the specific procedures they would do to me. I tell them my own medical interpretation and observations. Somehow these medical practitioners would gladly oblige, and they haven’t answered me with a condescending and irritated tone, whereas if I were doctor I’d do the opposite. Sometimes they would talk to me and answer back while doing their job that involves a lot of concentration. These medical practitioners mind you, unlike any other professionals, have less room for mistakes. When they put an I.V. in me, they don’t do trial and error. When they prescribe something for me, they know it’s best for my condition since my money and my health are involved. They show they care, and they take time to understand my feelings and concerns outside the medical field.

However, there are doctors, a couple whom I’ve consulted with that are just pain in the ass. It made me wonder why they even chose to be in this field in the first place? I had a male dentist near our village and he traumatized me with his heavy hands, intense drilling and grouchy attitude. I’ve always liked dentists, but he successfully traumatized me. He didn’t as much made his hands lighter and it’s like he’s taking care of a mouth of a drugged dog. How I wish I were the dog, at least I’m drugged. I had to always tell him that it hurts like hell but he just told me to: “Tiisin mo nalang para mabilis tayong matapos.” I would’ve preferred it if he encouraged me and made me feel brave or something. I would’ve preferred it if he took a break or do some necessary improvements with his method. But no, he answered me like he was damn bored and irritated. He didn’t even mention my name nor asked me once if his procedure hurt. He is heartless, mechanical and it’s as if he is the best in his field to be arrogant. He might probably have the same knowledge and skills compared to my previous dentist, but his attitude suck. So, he received the lowest of the low for me and I never bothered to consult with him ever again. Unfortunately he still has his unappealing clinic in front of our village. And whenever I pass by, I often think how I would love to drill some sense into his cranium.

There was also one incident where I was rushed to Makati Med because of my allergies. It was one of my serious allergy attacks to date. I was wheezing, which was a bad sign. My eyes bulged like an abnormal guppy that you couldn’t see any white area of my eyes anymore. It was far worse than the normal allergy attacks I’ve had because my eyes, at that time, were really bulged that the flesh was so red and it looked like it could explode any minute. When I went to the emergency room, patients who were suffering from something else forgot their concerns and just looked at me. Gape is a better term. Nurses and receptionists assisted me like an old woman when I can still practically move. I was seated there, wheezing, when a mature specialist was called from the other floor. When he saw me, he was enraged that I wasn’t attended to and they just asked me a couple of questions. He told the young residents that the way my eyes looked, it were likely to explode and could cause complications in my eye veins. I was wheezing as the allergic reactions were already trying to block my air passage. I was immediately put into a nebulizer, injected me a couple of drugs while I was transferred to the nearby bed. That kind and aggressive doctor talked to my parents while I was feeling groggy on the corner. Suddenly, there was a relatively young resident, dressed in blue, who went to my area and inserted a couple of drugs in my veins. The next vision I saw was more than 6 people were gathered around me, talking and pointing specific areas in my eyes as I tried to clinch my yellow Giordano shirt. Heartless fools. I felt like a guinea pig. Do they sincerely think that I’m too groggy to hear them? A couple laughed and apparently expressed their rants about the doctor. I bet one of them was scolded. I couldn’t react or even utter a word. Shame. I just fell asleep.

I understand that we all have different personalities and we have varying ways of coping up with interactions. I can even tell that some are not naturally friendly, yet they make an effort to smile, entertain questions and check themselves against the feelings of the patient. They treat patients not as mere flesh that needs to be healed, but a human being with emotions about something medical or life threatening. Yes they may be experts in science and facts. They are specialized and they do know something essential that most of us do not know. They are respected professionals who cure, ensure and maintain the quality of health to properly live. Yet they must also consider that a lot of progress or health improvements come from an intense or spirited individual. If doctors are mere mechanical creations and couldn’t care less of what people feel, then they should be deduced as “body mechanics” and not “medical practitioners.” Understanding it now, a lot of medical matters may concern science but a bulk of it also concerns psychological and emotional well being. There might be a lot of medical equipment and computers to cure ailments, provide analysis and provide research, but having doctors to talk to and consult with could never be replaced by mere machines. I just hope most doctors understand that fact.

And besides, I bet if those grouchy, emotion-less and non-caring practitioners had me for their doctor, I think they would have experienced hell. It’s enough that I am the anti-social, eq degenerate and grouchy type. And thank god I didn’t take medicine. If places were switched, I think I’d be a perfect “bad example” for this blog; that much I know from a patient's point of view.

Article on Doctors

Me...on Food Consciousness...Believe it.

I might as well say what I’m up to right now partly to convince myself and rescue me from denial. For the past few months I’ve been eating stuff that, as a woman, I should never eat in excess! What Vicki Belo would always say, HUGE servings of “Bread, rice, pasta, desserts” go straight to your hips. Well for me, it went to every possible nook in my body. I’m seeing and feeling the effects already and amazingly some people actually take time to remind me of the obvious.It took me this long to be conscious of “what” I eat given the fact that I'm on my pre-humanoid planet stage.

I’m not going to lie when I say that I’m starting to know what being food conscious is like, but I still don’t classify myself as “dieting” though. I’m still not following any specific food schedule. I don’t do calorie counts or anything drastic. I’m not forcing myself to eat foods that are essentially good and boring for me if I don’t want. There’s still a big factor in consumer satisfaction. What I have now are choices and varieties of food. For now, I don’t just eat what’s there immediately. I still manage to go through the choosing process.

One example of this is when I go to Fish and Co. restaurant. I’d usually order Fish and Chips (Fried fish fillet) with Fries/Chips as side order. I don’t go through alternatives especially if I’m damn hungry. But with all this food consciousness, the next time I’d go there, I’ll most probably get a grilled fish and pilaf rice. It’s something that I would still eat yet at the same time I’m not depriving myself of anything. It’s just “healthier.”Please, I’m still not at the point of ordering plain salad for a meal.

When I go to the Dessert Bazaar, I still get desserts, but I don’t get normal sized cupcakes for now. What I get are those midget versions, plus I can eat to at least 3 different flavors of cupcakes. Remember, it's a bazaar so there are midget free tastes everywhere.

When drinks are involved, instead of iced tea and lemonade, I’d go for Pineapple Orange Juice or Pineapple juice, which I do love. See? Whatever I do, I still eat. I eat foods that I like but are healthier for me. I don’t go as much as “Deprive” and limit myself to diet foods like oats, vegetables and fruits. I know this sounds simple and comical to intensive dieters out there, but this is a big step for me.

Last night it put me to the test, and I can quite say I’m proud of myself. From my office in Makati I went to Fort to wait for Mitch. I bought him a quick dinner in Jollibee since we will be on the road to fetch his mom in his tita’s house in QC. I bought him some take out whereas I went to Chowking and ate an order of pork siomai and a guiltless ice cream cone for dessert. While waiting for Mitch, his mom called and told us to have dinner there. Great. Knowing that his mom cooks magnificently, I’m not going to be surprised if her clan is a mix of culinary experts.

So we went to his Tita’s house and I got to meet his mom’s relatives and cousins. Aside from new acquaintances, a feast was waiting for us. I think the table was so full that we had to manage squeezing our huge plates, which are inviting. Dishes range from fish dish, chili con carne dish, KFC fried chicken, banana walnut loaves, revel bars, some hotdogs and of course rice. I knew at that point I was in deep trouble since I felt that I had more than enough space in my tummy to eat dinner. While Mitch and the rest of his family ate full course meals, I only got a serving of the fish dish, managed to skip rice, had a yummy slice of banana walnut (Without the walnuts) and a taste of some KFC chicken meat. After that, I still figured I had enough tummy space so I drank 2 glasses of water instead.

With a managed stomach, I was still able to choose what I ate last night. Well, originally, I shouldn’t have, but it was an invitation that I cannot refuse. Good thing I didn’t because the food was yummy and I’ve proven I can make this work. Hopefully my stomach gets used to it and doesn’t badger me for some greasy goodness. If there’s a moment I should slip, I would find it more acceptable and understandable on Christmas. Until then, I’m forcing myself to face choices, healthier ones.

Explanation on current Blogging Scheme

Don’t misunderstand the skipped dates of non-blogging. I do blog everyday. I just have my posts saved in my hard drive since I can’t manipulate my own blog in the office. (Security churva)

The plan is whenever I have an idea, I’ll blog about it in a few minutes, save the file, and before I leave I’ll just send it to my personal email. At home I can just access it and conveniently paste it in my blog (like what I'm doing right now). It’s effortless and productive still.


Since almost every night, I don’t have enough time and energy to turn on the computer and blog (er…copy and paste), I might as well just flood my site on a much clearer night (like tonight) with all the posts that were left egging on my email.

The objective is as long as I get to write or blog.

Numerati. Interesting.

Managing workers is tough. It’s not as mechanical as managing computers, processes and reports. It’s never going to be easy. When you want to manage people, the person who is doing it should rely on fostering good relationship, sound instincts and people skills. Aside from the daily operational deliverables, major stress comes from relating with difficult people, managing their growth and direction.

But according to this interesting article that I’ve read, written by an HR consultant, there’s this mathematical scheme popularly known as “numerati” in managing employees. This method eliminates all other unnecessary, often grueling procedures in people management and focuses on the factual/mathematical solutions that make the whole people management convenient and accurate.

Baker says IBM’s “numerati” scheme is ambitious. This is how it works: “Picture an IBM manager who gets an assignment to send a team of five to set up a call center in Manila.”

“She sits down at the computer and fills out a form. It’s almost like booking a vacation online. She puts in the dates and clicks on menus to describe the job and skills needed. Perhaps she stipulates the ideal budget range.”

“The results come back, recommending a particular team. All the skills are represented. Maybe three of the five people have a history of working together smoothly. They all have passports and live near airports with direct flights to Manila. One of them even speaks Tagalog.”

Interesting, huh? In this way, nothing’s getting bypassed. Every option relies on the person’s capabilities, skills and factual strengths to be maximized and chosen in such a mathematical way that is accurate and well devised. The truth is, the result is just a form of recommendation and not the only proposed solution. The personnel manager still has to be the one to do the weighing if the solution presented is effective or not. The point here is that the most accurate data is presented based on the system’s calculation thus eliminating clutter. It makes us, humans, tower above computers and be more efficient as well. Personnel managers are still essentially managers. They are still the ones who would eventually decide.

Woman from the Elevator

*This blog should've been posted last Friday.

I wasn’t able to post anything last night because I was too busy talking to my cousin and looking for my future “Harvey.” I would explain Harvey’s would-be existence soon, after I get a hold of him. If I can’t find a suitable “Harvey” I’d probably have a “Temis” or a “Tart.” It doesn’t make any sense now so…anyways, this post is the end of all worries for the past couple of days. So far so good. The news is less jaded now. As far as I know no one else is filing for bankruptcy. Our Regional heads flew in from all parts of the globe to reassure our company’s steadfast growth. My dad said that my insurance company is stronger and independent more than ever, according to his inside information. AIG has been rescued by the Federal Government. My cousin is apparently coping up with stress and gracefully living with us now. I feel that I’m this close to holding my Harvey; and most especially it’s Payday today. Thank god. I’ve been eating from my savings for the past two months that I'm slowly being a candidate to file for bankruptcy.

As soon as I parked my car in an almost deserted lot, like 6:30 AM, I went to the canteen had my usual hefty breakfast and read the remaining chapters of Ghost by Alan Lightman. After a few hours realizing that I should be at work, I took the elevator and went back to my office. Before reaching my floor, I stopped at one level while a 40ish-50ish lady with a short hair wearing a blue city-service uniform entered. I’m not really familiar with what they should be properly called. I hear most people call them ATE or Manang. Some call them in first name basis. While some sosyaleras plainly call them “janitress.” But I think they’re more than mere janitress. They’re more like a universal corporate mothers focused on keeping our lives in the office manageable. I’m sure most companies now, especially global corporations, outsource services like these. They come to work daily just like any of us, managing whatever floor that is assigned to them. Their main tasks involve managing the pantries, washing mountains of mugs and plates, cleaning the pantry tables, making coffee and making sure the pantry inventory is updated. They also maintain comfort rooms keeping it clean and well stocked. And most of the times, they make rounds at the floor attending to every person’s needs whenever they request for things like trash disposal, tissues etc. or logistics concerns. They’re all around. They’re employed. They’re efficient and they’re phenomenal.

It is no wonder, with how they work with a pleasant demeanor, everyone on the floor knows and loves them. Staff, analysts to VPS and Regional heads share jokes with them once in a while. Some (including me) abuse their kindness sometimes by leaving our mugs filthy and finding it neatly stacked and cleaned at the pantry the following morning. A newbie might as well get cozy and familiar with them. As far as I see it, you may not know all the VPS of different departments on your floor, but you sure would know who these magnificent city service ladies and men are.

So the funny incident was, when I saw this 40ish to 50ish lady entering the elevator, my heart just plummeted. I can’t explain why exactly. I’m really not the type of person to care with other people’s business anyways. I know we all have different professions and it doesn’t matter to me what people do. As long as we’re gainfully employed, then we deserve all the respect and understanding in the world. But how come I feel so slightly drawn to this lady? She comes in with a bag of tissues in her hand. She enters the elevator full of professionals going to their respective floors. She comes alone sheepishly and projects the feeling of inferiority towards us. She keeps looking down and fiddling with her plastic bag. Right there I knew why. She could be someone’s mother, auntie, grandmother, and her face is so nurturing that even MY kind of heart could break. At that moment I wanted to strike a conversation with her. Hug her and pay homage to her. Damn it! I even felt I wanted to give her my sweldo! What is wrong with me? These moments come rare, but it's true that I'd most likely fall hard for grown ups who have lived their lives yet chose to work with their uniform, doing the things they’re not supposed to do. I’m sure they needed the money. Who doesn’t? But comparing myself to this woman, this woman just wanted a good and simple life. That’s what she’s trying to do, whereas I would like bigger things like thousands of promotions and recognitions. She doesn’t care if people look down on her for doing what she does. I don’t even know if they have promotions. But I feel she deserves something more.

In the elevator, I still looked at her and wanted to throw her a smile. I’m feeling such a complete nutcase that she might think I’m crazy. I even thought that I might offend her when she wouldn’t want me to feel this way. As far as the whole world’s concerned, what she’s doing is respectable and honorable. But I can’t help it. There’s something about her when I saw her face and aura. I imagined her at her own home, taking care of her own house, wearing her comfortable “day dress." But who am I to say that she’s not capable of doing that while working here? Actually, thinking about it now, while I was having breakfast at the cafeteria this morning, I saw a neatly dressed waiter, same age as the woman who came in the elevator, cleaning up some tables. He does it meticulously and efficiently without any traces of disgust. This day, my first pay day I realized, is a reflection of sorts.

The whole time in the elevator I’m looking at her and wanted to slap myself for being such and idiot. I wanted to hug her and somehow be with her. If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not adopted, so it must be just a natural feeling. Maybe God has pulled massive strings in my heart. But before I could do anything, I reached my floor. I went out and slightly glanced at her. She was still looking at her plastic bag, but nevertheless I threw a smile. As long as she’s happy, I’m sure it’s enough to shield her from whatever doubts that may land her head.

I went to my desk and saw my colleague. Without hesitation, I shared with him my experience. I wanted to ask if he was familiar of the city-service woman whom I saw. He confirmed based on my description. While I was telling him my reflection, finding the tendency to cry, he just looked at me as if I’ve lost my marbles. But he listened and helped ease out my isolation. After that, I went to the pantry and got some coffee. Maybe caffeine may take out these morning blues, but it didn’t. I just feel honored to have seen her. God knows what my damn feelings are. Maybe he could explain it to me one of these days. He knows that I just want to make sure that the men and women who wear those uniforms, doing stuff that we are lazy to do and finding the happiness to enjoy their lives are shielded by the knowledge that they are highly respected, loved and cared for. We may be too busy to express it. Some are even too scared and sheepish to reach out, but they deserve more. I just pray to God that whatever things or recognitions that we couldn’t be able to give in this world, will be presented upon them in His kingdom.

*I pledge from now on that I’ll clean my mug and probably leave a jar of chocolates on my desk for them to get. But God knows it’s not enough. I think I should do more.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Advertise hard. Silence is not advisable.

I read once in a very informative blog that whatever happens, any big corporation facing turbulent times, should not stop investing in advertising. With all the financial pandemonium that's been going on for the past few days, some institutions survived, some barely survived and some tread down to history. In fact, most of us felt we didn't know how bad it was. We all just went with the flow, reading news and making our own analysis and actions. It seems no one from the damaged fence is making a clear and convincing banner of hope.

I was having lunch with Kegler last Friday and we kept talking about the crisis. He is well informed with the movements as I think I am since we tread the same industry waters. We agreed on the perception of how rumors and silence to it may shift the destiny of companies. No matter how stable the company is when a rumor hits, that institution might end up in shambles. Investors, us, being more cautious right now, would not have enough time to study and drill through analysis. It's expected that if rumors and uncertainties are in the air, we bail out. It's simple as that. It's natural and it's expected.

This is where strong advertisement comes in.

Advertise strong and advertise like there's no tomorrow. It's the only way to reach out to clients. Despite the turbulent times the company has to at least calm the public and reach out in a swift and effective way they should already know how. It is through good advertisements, press releases and broad sheet interviews that could strengthen them and buy them their safety and trust from the public.

This morning, I chanced upon this article in NY Times of Vikram Pandit, Citigroup's CEO. He discussed the global bank's standing. He seems pretty optimistic about the giant. It's not like I don't know. He's been sending emails to Citibankers all over the world, but nothing beats a a public strong article. Better than advertisement really.

In this case, silence is a deadly choice.

Read Interview here.

Unexpected Girl Bonding

I am still recuperating from a lot of things last night. Aside from a bruised credit card, I'm recovering from an intense dinner and a coffee session. I honestly feel that whatever I gobbled last night aren't fully digested until now. I'm going to skip breakfast and depending on my bloated feeling, I might also skip lunch. It's that bad.

Nevertheless, I had a surprisingly good time with my sister and my cousin Den who will be staying with us indefinitely. Yahoo! So a generous spirit possessed me to treat them with some shoes and dinner at Fort. Thanks to Fridays, we got ourselves some free coffee and dessert at Coffee Bean.

We discussed memories and praised how OK we turned out to be. No one's mentally damaged, psychologically impossible or anything worse than that. They both agreed early on that they have already adjusted to my sometimes alarming-weirdness, until now I still take the reign.

We were supposed to be good girls watching over our diet, but we broke all the diet rules. Hence, the recuperation from the guilt trip. While Danielle has an innate ability to burn fat effortlessly, Karla and I will just expand to being humanoid planets. Ugh. Carry on.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Traffic.Parking.Dinner.Window Shopping.

Erk I noticed that I have two days of non-posting when in fact I have 4 posts "egging" in my office hard drive. Blast. Due to many system testings yesterday I forgot to send those posts to my private email. Anyways, that would just have to wait next week. I couldn't replicate the same hard-biting words that I randomly collected to make a post about the rescue of AIG, a woman in the elevator and a thing called marriage. And anyways those posts are not time bound so they could perfectly fit for next week.

Moving on, I suffered from an intense traffic from my office in Makati to Serendra Fort last night. It took me 40 minutes to get there and another 20 minutes to search and wait for that perfect parking spot. By the time I got to Conti's (with my legs shaking) to meet Mitch, Paolo and Pia, I was so damn hungry. Mitch's food and my sumptuous baked salmon were waiting for us, cold. Paolo and Pia already had their fill, while Mitch, knowing him, is about to reach maximum stress limit and starvation. I sat down, briefly appreciated the visuals, said my pleasantries and dug in. I think I wasn't able to speak that much and I consumed the dish 10 minutes tops. I savored every bite, yet it just went straight and fluidly to my stomach. I finished everything, the rice, the whole salmon...EVERYTHING.

While Mitch and I were strolling along Boni high, of course we went to Crumpler store, a must-have visit. I swear, they (with Paolo) keep on looking at Crumpler bags everytime we are at Boni High. It's crazy. It's like a part of his prerequisite to live. He just has to get in, chat with the personnel, examine the bags and get out. Same cycle continues even though he knows he couldn't just buy random stuff that are displayed. Actually, he never buys when I'm with him, although there's one freaky time that I caught him pulling out his credit card. I intervened of course. The staff already knows him so well and they just indulge this "Crumpler Fit," this sort of "man obsession with bags."

After Crumpler thank God we went to some Gadget stuff where all small and cute laptops are displayed. He has been brainwashing me ever since to switch to these mini gadgets which, according to him, matches my personality and needs. He tried to nestle the thought in me when I was still perfectly loyal to my heavy "arsenal" laptop, which he calls a Desktop whenever he has to carry it. I am still loyal to that laptop, it's just that I'm beginning to suffer from back pains as well. Maybe it's time to switch and make my old laptop a house laptop (doesn't make sense, right?). Thinking about it, I've become fully ecstatic about these little gadget creations that my face lights up for him to see. Last night, he kept mumbling that "he's in deep trouble." Don't worry my dear, not tonight, I could wait till Christmas. Harhar

After that Gadget trip, we went to Dimensione! I saw the Christmas Trees Chuvaness is blogging about for 5K. It's tall and colorful, pretty much okay, but I'm not sure with the glossy paper leaves it has. It's not so appealing to me in that aspect. So, I transfered my attention to the sofas and kitchen wares. I've noticed now that I have a partial inclination to roam around for stuff to bring to our new house (my dad's). Recently, like for this year, I've found my interests in shopping at department stores' house section, Ace Hardware, Blims, Dimensione, and Ikea would be next. Is it a sign that I should buy my own space now? Gosh, the thought electrifies me and drains my nerves! I would have to work like an ant, then! I even laughed at the thought that if ever I would get to buy stuff for my "Quasi future home with Mitch" (In Gazillion years, don't worry), I'll be the approver and overseer of things. He'd just be there to nod and flip his hand for participation approval. I'll just have to supply him with sugarfree doughnuts to keep him in a happy and stable mood though. Future and Knowledgeable Conniving 101, JOY!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sequel to the Finance Drama

I don’t know about you, but I think I couldn’t digest my bagel this morning. I was reading the financial news about the heated financial corporation meltdown in Wall Street. After Lehman and Merrill Lynch’s fates were concluded, the wolves or the reporters are now waiting at the main office entrance of AIG in New York. I don’t think they’re looking for a specific person to interview. I think they’re trying to take shots and comments from AIG employees leaving the building. They’re probably doing an eerie montage as a precedent for the “dreaded” things to come…like bankruptcy.

Lehman, Merrill Lynch and now AIG? Although I’m concerned about the world’s financial industries in general, because that’s where I’m at right now, I know it’s already gone personal when alarm hits AIG. Damn it! AIG is one of the largest insurance Companies based in New York. But biggest, oldest and most respected do not really matter now, huh? American Insurance Group or the parent company of PHILAM LIFE here in the Philippines is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy. Lord, help me! I may not be a certified graduate of commerce, and I may not be an expert to explain nor fully understand the nitty gritty details that go behind the financial stage, but I do follow economic newsletters and broadsheets to keep me afloat somehow. I may not see the micro side and the whole arguments on derivatives, stocks and trading, but I react as a part of the public and the investor community.

Some of my savings, well…most of it, I have invested in this upgraded personal insurance that I got when I was 20 years old, using my own hard earned money. I’m paying it semi-annually for five years and I only have 1 more year to go before I just wait for it to mature. I’ve been a very responsible client and I pay on time. I’m the investor who really doesn’t mind not having enough Current or Savings money in my bank account as long as I dispose my money in insurance, something that could really secure my future. AT the current moment, I’m still building up my finances from scratch after a year of study and hiatus while spending on bigger things like necessities, parties and such. It’s hard and I take these things seriously. Ever since 19 years old, I’ve never asked my parents for anything. I pretty much spend on my own needs. I may not be that proud on my current savings now, but I’m happy I’ve invested in insurance, being independent enough to spend for my own lifestyle, necessities and luxuries, and still manage to survive no matter how financially bruised I am. But please, having AIG on the brink of bankruptcy, is something I’m not quite prepared to handle.

I may be missing salient points here or I might be making an investor’s frantic reaction, but I can’t help but express my worries since AIG is the parent company of Philamlife Insurance, my insurance. I called my mom and told her my story and expressed how I wanted to safeguard my money. My mom told me that Philamlife is the biggest, most stable insurance company in the Philippines and I shouldn’t make rash decisions that would make me end up in the losing end. I’m just being paranoid, as usual. But, the layman and normal JOE syndrome constantly nudge me. I may be making an uneducated and uninformed analysis, but sometimes, as humans, we tend to worry and make our needs and options as primitive as can be. Protect your resources, protect your future.

But don’t worry. If you’re thinking that I’m hyperventilating now, making a few phone calls and harassing my agent to pull out something. I’m not. I’m still pretty much incorporating things objectively and trying to soak up whatever information I could gather from financial colleagues, broad sheets, economic newsletters and seasoned financial experts. I may be worried and being too primitive to protect my resources right now, but I’m still in full control to learn and understand what’s happening before I result to rash decisions. In fact, I’m not deciding anything. I’m just studying and letting the big guys, the guys who certainly know more about this than I do, handle it. Because they might be CEO’s, executives and full blown experts in the technical and macro side of it, but they’re human and they know what these investments mean to us normal people (I sincerely hope so). And I’m pretty much sure, that they have investments as well. So, I’ll just be silent, let them be, and pray I get my investment back, with profit, please! (What does this mean for YOU) AIG)

Mugged Memories

I had a very interesting conversation over lunch with a couple of colleagues today. It was I who initiated a very sensitive topic, and it ended up in fits of laughter, dread and anxiety. Three different women, from three different places in three different walks of life, had at one point been put into a life threatening situation. We have either been mugged, kidnapped and held at gun point.

The conversation started when I was vocally expressing my distress for my cousin who is currently in the middle of a crucial situation. She is seeking refuge in our house. As soon as I heard the whole story, I knew I couldn’t bear summing up the same courage she exhibited on a crisis situation. If it was me, I would’ve gone immediately to therapy. She is still very vulnerable. She was all alone in her house while she managed to witness an unfortunate activity that might earn others tickets to the asylum. She has every reason now to fear for her life as evil minded bastards are trying to look for her. I won’t go into details since this is yet most recent. But I tried to reassure her that she doesn’t have any reason to worry anymore since she is in a safe place. We would do all our best to protect her. But how sure am I with these things when once, even on a safe and unassuming place, I had an eye to eye contact with a gun?

I always thought that my personality and my outlook made me immune to these syndicated bastards. Whenever I publicly expose myself, I always seem to project a scary bitch persona who wouldn’t go down without a fight. My hands are heavy and I walk with a very aggressive stride, which some people assume a product of arrogance. I only carry big bags full of my treasured books. It would take ages for those culprits to get what they are looking for. My phones are not updated to the latest model and I don’t carry a reputable wallet with me, just a coin purse and a card holder. I’m pretty much a challenge.

I thought I would traverse the world unscathed. Although there was one incident my new Ericsson phone was effortlessly pulled from my bag when I was at the 50% off sale in BAYO Glorietta. I was the willing victim then because I was busy reading at the cornerr while waiting for my sister to finish her shopping. IT was over crowded and I wasn’t vigilant with my surroundings. Until today, I don’t count that as life threatening. But it would count as my stupidest experience ever. Stupid for being at that sale, stupid for actually drowning my sorrows on the police headquarters all afternoon and stupid for not taking care of my bag.

However, my life threatening moment happened last year or late 2006. Mitch, AJ, Anton and I are eating in this authentic Japanese place in Kamagong Makati. As we were waiting for our food, people started to come in the restaurant. As soon as this semi-affluent family entered, there were two mean bastards (born by a wandering devil bitch dog), who entered, took their posts and flashed their guns at us. We, being seated and unarmed, couldn’t do anything. Since we were seated at the far corner, I slid my bag and my car keys under the air conditioning machine before locking my eyes on the gun flashed towards us. Mitch and Anton’s wallets were taken and the rest of the crowd was mugged. I was hyperventilating as tears uncontrollably fell. Mitch was comforting me, but I didn’t think nor feel anything else. I just wanted to ram the sizzling plate to the guy’s ass and put wasabi in their eyes. They finally left after a few minutes of amateur seize, rode their getaway motorcycle, and I bawled like a baby.

The two girls, whom I was having lunch with today, also told their stories. Jessica told us how she was mugged face to face and slapped in the head by the culprit while she was trying to hide her brand new cell phone. Clarice in the meantime took the cake as she witnessed consecutive kidnappings of some members of her family in their own provincial home, twice. Being the only Chinese in their community, her family was the sole target. All of us at some point saw the gun and felt that day was to be our last.

There are so many injustices in this world that sometimes, as humans, we cannot help but find ourselves in situations that we THINK we would only see or hear in movies. Some people who have not experienced being mugged or saying hello to a gun might find such human reactions to be too dramatic and unnecessary for their taste. I was one of those, but already having experienced the product of these society scumbags, it’s one of the rarest times that I’ve proven myself wrong. Here are some of them:

  1. Before, I thought when you’re faced in this situation, you should try your best to scream, retaliate, outmaneuver or at least DO something.
    • Good luck on this one. Based on my experience, my friends’ and the experiences of my mom who was mugged a thousand times in front of me, this hardly happens at the ideal moment. Usually, it's even unadvised to retaliate. Screaming and pleading may come after a few seconds or even a few minutes when you're too shocked to do anything brilliant for your safety, especially if there’s a life threatening device pointed at you. In Outmaneuvering, this needs a sharp and strong presence of mind. This requires a person to undergo quick planning and flawless execution. If not, this could ultimately trigger the scumbag to actually to go for the kill. Retaliating, the method I thought I am most likely do, also needs a strong presence of mind. To be able to retaliate successfully one should be able to assess if the “fight” would be fair. If you’re being mugged on the street by a man just a little bigger than your size, without any gun but just a sharp object, and you have the advantage of angle and an umbrella for a weapon, then this is more than a fair fight. Once you’ve truly assessed your advantage, use it to the maximum level and nail the scumbag. Otherwise, if you’re not a defense guru, nor Batman, just leave retaliation to retain your life.

  1. Before I used to think it’s fairly stupid for a person to just freeze there and be catatonic.
    • Wrong. My cousin, who witnessed something drastic, couldn’t move a single step from where she was even though she could’ve hidden or did something useful. Her mind wants her to move, but transmitting the message to her body is blocked due to intense shock and mental arrest. I for one couldn’t stand up, do something, nor think of something else when I saw the gun being waved at us. I just literally FROZE. It’s natural and it happens to the best of us.

  1. Before I thought nobody needs added drama
    • Goodness, I thought wrongly did I? I’m not the type who would usually result to crying, most especially in a crisis situation. I get angry, but I never imagine myself being wimpy. But no…I did cry…to be accurate I bawled my eyes out. Eventhough I did not scandalize and hyperventilate in public, I didn’t realize that tears were already falling down my cheeks rapidly. I didn’t notice that I was having difficulty in breathing. It’s like my body and mind were on haywire. Shock, disbelief and intense fear for your life make your system malfunction. I understand it now. It’s not drama. It’s how some of our bodies emulate shock.

  1. Before I used to TRY to understand the scumbags’ point of view. I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be interested in getting them executed to the highest level. They should be punished, true, but I never imagined something brutally done. It usually depends on the damage done to a person.
  • Try selling that. Seriously, especially after you have just found yourself in an incident, the urge to kill and get back are so strong. I, for a moment’s worth, turned my mind into a murderer. I imagined things I would like to do with the scumbags if I get their asses. Whipping them alive, flaying them alive? NO, CORRECTION. I’ll…
    • put a hot metal rod in their asses, stick it out of their mouths, put them horizontally on an open fire, roll them like lechon, while I season them by putting wasabi liquid drops in their eyes, dress them with acid to burn their bodies, whip them continuously while drizzling them with salt and vinegar. Putting hot wax in their head and pulling their hair off. Have hyenas lick his feet while they savor their upcoming meal. Well, something to that extent
    • Exceptions are of course those who have saintly spirit. They’re unbelievable few.
Naturally we want everything to turn out safely and that no one gets hurt in the end (except for the goons of course). As much as we'd want to get even and retaliate, there are some things that are worth considering. And if you doubt human reactions, it's not drama, it's natural and real. I just hope those who wouldn't believe this will never have to find out for themselves. And I hope those scumbags throw themselves in a pit of toxins before exposing their identities to me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I just had a dinner date with Mitch and his mom and BOY did we talk about the American Financial CRISIS! Actually just his mom and I. Yikes. It's been the topic of discussion at the office and our mighty CEO even sent us an email reassuring our status as...survivors or trying to wouldn't really know these days. I'm still feeling the BUZZ here. Read this to know what I'm talking about.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Financial Soap Opera

I have been following my own version of “an intense, fast paced soap opera.” It has the same or higher level of excitement, intense storyline, has gigantic and magical proportions, has a global audience, and most importantly it’s not make believe. Whatever’s happening, bad twists and good ones are real. Trust Wallstreet to stage its own show and it would leave the world gasping for breath.

I was first exposed to this popular “street” when I was in grade school, watching some popular 1980’s flicks about the things that happen in Wallstreet. Because of its popularity, Hollywood even managed to make a film self-titled plainly as Wallstreet starred by Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. But I like Trading Places, Working girl and Bonfire of Vanities better. Later on, I began to read to Susan Howatch’s novel “The Rich are different.”

When I was a child, when I hear the word Wallstreet, the words that I would immediately think off are: Complicated, rich, men, business, suits, New York, Tom Hanks. Actually, most of these words that I’ve associated are true. It’s in New York and it houses the global and powerful corporations, garnering its term as the financial powerhouse of the world. According to history, it’s the first permanent house of the New York Stock exchange as it evolved into a geographic community of global and financial corporations. A company has never really reached the highest financial status, if not one representation, is housed in this popular “community.”

Some of the drivers of this community are the global financial corporations that we highly respect like Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan etc. These are giants that are experts in making money and sustaining money. NO one knows investments and money like they do, but the recent and ongoing financial crisis fueled by the credit crunch and sub prime disaster made, the once invincible community, fall down on their knees and hold on to each other. Their blows, wounds and demise shook the whole financial world and changed people’s lives globally. It is quite alarming since these financial corporations, where we entrust our money with, should be strong firms secured with capital and not institutions filing for bankruptcy.

But just like any Soap operas, certain evils come to destroy the protagonists while certain twists and turns tend to make viewers gasping. Some are victims and some emerge as White Knights that play heroes to the story. Just like this new chapter that will go down to history today. “Stunning Fall for Main Street’s Brokerage Firm” reported by NY Times tells the story of Merrill Lynch, the American nation’s largest brokerage firm and a global financial name as it surrenders to Bank of America for USD 50.3 Billion in Stock. John A. Thain, CEO of Merrill Lynch, decided to sell after billions of losses.

In some points, one should be happy as it was salvaged and acquired by BOA, yet employees of Merrill Lynch, most of whom are not yet sure if they are going to be absorbed by the new plantilla of BOA, feel sad because Merrill Lynch has always been independent and powerful. It was a soap opera of sorts since the people have always stood by the pillars of hope. A company as powerful and big as Merrill Lynch, which even “surpassed USD 1 trillion in client assets under management in 1990’s,” has always steered clear from being deathly. They tried their very best to keep afloat and fight back despite billions of losses. Top executives even managed to attend recent town hall meetings to address the concerns of employees, and told them that Merrill Lynch’s capital base was stable and assets were being managed. They even set a brighter vision for 2009. Little did they know that the company wouldn’t even reach Christmas.

The twists and turns, the fall of a giant and the surge of emotions bested the usual soap operas. This is primetime and real time as it gets. Aside from some employees losing their jobs, there’s also a sense of failure and hurt for the company. Sometimes it’s not just about the money, but affiliations as well.

Aside from Merrill Lynch however, the skies are not opening up for Lehman Brothers, another company, far worse than Merrill Lynch, which was looking for their White Knight last weekend. No one came; and they ended up facing an agonizing death with a capital B for Bankruptcy. The 158 year old Investment bank, once a powerhouse and the most respected, now gears for liquidation.

Every company in Wallstreet is tightening their belts and playing the “wait and see game.” Compared to what I’ve watched in past movies before, Wallstreet is not that glorious as it used to. Although, like in any other soap operas, the protagonists will always come out with a vengeance and ultimately achieve a sweeter victory in the end. Like in soap operas, no matter how desperate the situation might be, there is always hope and some drastic turn around. Wall Street as a real Soap opera of our times? Highly Possible.

Remembering my Eerie Experience

I’ve already finished two chapters of Alan Lightman’s Ghost this morning, as I finished my French toast and bacon; nothing beats a promising book to start the morning of the first day of the work week. David, the protagonist, talks about his unbelievable encounter with a ghost. IN this chapter, he is veering on disbelief that such things could happen, as he struggles to have a clearer grasp of his sensibilities. He tried to write, evaluate his senses and insert logic at something illogical. He wants to put the “moment” on the shelf because things like these if not, either make one who experiences it, crazy because he can't understand it. Or make him sound and look crazy, when he cannot confide and seek help from sane people.

In the first chapter, I already saw myself in David in so many ways that made it easier to understand his views. But moving onto the second chapter, it gets freaky how he fits my own representation.

The first time he saw a ghost, he became uneasy and tried to push the idea aside. He tried to use logic and reevaluated his faculties. He kept reminding himself that he has always been a man of sense and facts. He is not “suggestible.” He registers everything that’s backed up with sense and logic. Apparently ghosts are not one of them. I am probably the same. If ever I saw a ghost, really saw one face to face, and not like a passing light in peripheral vision, I would also try my best to reassess my senses like what David did. I’d probably exhaust my mind looking for loopholes or loose screws. I’d test my mind as far as I can just to see that I still have my faculties with me. Here are the tests I’d probably administer on myself:

  1. I’d probably recite the 12 Olympian gods and goddesses, both their Roman and Greek Names. I’d throw in another 5 minor gods, and the names of 9 Muses. If I can’t do that, I’m probably screwed.
  2. I’d type 90 words per minute in a QWERTY keyboard. If I go below that, I’m definitely screwed.
  3. I’ll list down all the passwords, SSS number, TIN number, phone numbers and all pertinent numbers relating to my existence.
  4. I’ll recite and list down datawarehousing and project management methodologies I’ve had worth 3 years of experience.
  5. I’ll write down important quotes I’ve read in my lifetime. If I can’t get five, complete with details: name of the book, author and the character who said it, then I’m DEFINITELY..definitely screwed.
  6. I’ll list down all the pertinent places in my house where I keep all my collections. Scattered books at the computer table, any table, TVs, Orocans and bed. Anime videos individually packed, anime cards, albums etc, notes etc.
  7. I’ll probably make one coherent blog post about something relevant. If I can’t go past 1 paragraph, consider me mentally handicapped.
  8. I’ll try to have a meaningful or not-so meaningful conversation with Mitch, Je, Rosella and Tim David and let them evaluate if I’m losing it already.
  9. To test my mind and body coordination skills, I SHOULD be able to beat JD at Tekken 5…effortlessly by using Julia Chang.
  10. I should be able to drive my car, without getting into any kind of accidents, to places I love going. Being there, I should be able to be immersed in the crowd without getting hurt or lost.

If I can’t pass that test, it’s either I’m recovering from a shock or I’ve gone crazy.

In truth, I really wouldn’t know how I would react if I see a ghost. Actually, I think I saw one before although it was on peripheral vision. At that time, I didn’t actually think it was a ghost since the image is exactly like Margie’s, my housemate. I just realized it then when we arrived at work and I tried to confirm why she came room hopping after taking a bath. I was confirming if she was holding a sort of prank for Morty, our other housemate, who sleeps at the other room where she came from. Here’s the story:

Roughly two years ago, I shared a 2 bedroom apartment in Cubao with 6 housemates. We had different shifts then, so we seldom felt that the apartment was crowded. There was one time when I had to cover the project shift with Margie and Annie. At that time we were only three in the house since Morty, MJ and Sam were still at work. So at around 9 pm, we started to get a bath and dress up. Margie went first. I went second and Annie went last.

I am usually the Speedy Gonzales in the bathroom. I don’t have any rituals, and I don’t daydream nor sing, especially on a work day. I just go inside and do mechanical bathroom activities like Soap, shampoo, scrub, rinse, the whole routine. I finish way ahead than an average woman. Margie and Annie roughly stay inside the bathroom for an average of 30 minutes, and that’s already speeding it, while I stay 15 minutes tops. So it’s not a surprise whenever I crawl back to my room to dress up, the one who went in first has just chosen which clothes to wear.

So one night, with my hair dripping and head slightly focusing on the steps, on my top peripheral vision, I saw a petite figure, most definitely a woman, rushing from Morty’s room to ours. I instantly looked up. So, at that point, I wasn’t really making any “suggestions.” Being stuck in the middle of the stairs with only a towel on with my hair dripping wet, while I was thinking of possible research cases that would harass me, were hardly a conducive time, place nor situation to be “imagining” ghosts.

When I reached the top of the stairs, I went inside my room and saw Margie halfway done with dressing up. Since I was too immersed with work, I didn’t bother to ask what she was doing in Morty’s room and to vocally state my amazement on how she got dressed so quickly. Since it was a product of peripheral vision, I couldn’t exactly defend myself if she was indeed dawned with a towel or she was already halfway dressed. We went to work, still thinking about my cases, and never mentioning that peculiar incident to anyone. Honestly, I thought it wasn’t that alarming.

During our break, on the same day, I was googling on my computer and casually asked what Margie was doing in Morty’s room. If ever there was a prank, Morty should have already known at that time since he’s already at home. I was bored and too jaded with too many research cases and was hoping Margie could provide some sort of entertainment. She looked at me, similarly jaded, and asked what the hell I was talking about. I repeated myself and asked her what she was doing in Morty’s room after she took a bath. She just looked at me, with creased eyebrows, and said she didn’t go to Morty’s room, and most definitely she didn’t plant any prank. Then I began to tell her my “supposed” sighting. Margie, who is more traditional, was mildly bothered and reverted to her superstitious beliefs. I for one was annoyed because I didn’t want to believe that I saw a ghost, yet I know I saw something and my senses never fail me. She asked a couple of times if I was imagining things, like what happens in the movie. I told her that I wasn’t. I saw it in peripheral vision, the fact that I have successfully performed my task for the today and can still spell peripheral, are enough to convince her that I’m not crazy. I saw something. And if ever my personality precedes me that I like imagining things, well, I imagine things when I want to or allow myself to, and not out at random and after taking a bath.

In a few hours’ time, the story leaked out on the floor and the next day, it was known that our newly furnished apartment is haunted. Thank god Margie didn’t freak out, since it was her shape that I saw, yet she believes it more than I do. They say it wasn’t really a ghost, but a doppelganger, a spirit who copies people’s Physicalities. They’re supposed to be bad omen or even depicting death. Well, assessing it now, Margie and I have moved out of the apartment and changed career paths and still in a way successful more than ever. I guess an illogical sighting can not be supported by an irrational thinking.

That’s my most personal experience with a “ghost” so far. I have scary dreams, illogical dreams that some people can’t handle, yet I haven’t seen any lady in white or anything like that in the real world. Our maid, some friends, and my other aunties from province say that they see spirits sometimes. I just shrug and take their experience as it is.

So if the question is still left hanging on that fateful night, yes I saw something. I’m sure of it and I’m sure of my senses. But what I’m not sure is whether it was a ghost, a doppelganger or some light trick. It’s different if I saw it face to face, which could give me enough time to study. What I sensed was something swift and peripheral so it opens up to many interpretations.

Truth be told, I’m not an excited individual when it comes to ghosts. Although at some point, I agree that spirits or ghosts do exist. With the number of people who claim they saw these spirits, it’s hard to just discount their findings and conclude at least a quarter of this population is crazy. Let them be the gifted ones who saw what they needed to see. It takes a lot of effort reconciling the illogical in a world that is steaming with sense. So probably I’ll just let them be and respect their experiences. What really matters in the end are what we believe in and which ones we are ready to stand by no matter how illogical it appears to be. Besides, an illogical explanation is better than no attempt to explain at all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

29th Manila International Book Fair


Yahoo just sums it all up. I'm tired and wasted, yet my spirit is soaring. Today was a dry run to the upcoming Christmas Bazaars. Today, I went to the 29th INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR!

After lunch I got ready and found the perfect flat and most comfy pair of shoes I could find because I knew that it was going to be a part of my agenda's success. I didn't offer my parents some added explanation, because they knew better to treat this day as SACRED day. I got my car keys, drove straight to Mitch's house and off we went to SMX Convention Center at around 2 pm.

The traffic was crazy in Edsa, yet I'm very much like a kid emanating good vibes. I was excited as hell because I'll be surrounded by almost 300 stalls of publishers and commercial bookstores under one freaking huge warehouse. If you can't relate, imagine a SHOE expo with discounted prices.

I can still remember the books I bought from the past Expos when they still held it at World Trade Center. I got an interesting compilation of Filipino essays, freshly printed for 300 bucks. I got cookbooks and novels also just below 1000 bucks. The feeling has always been priceless.

So upon parking at the open lot fronting SMX, Nikkon joined us as we trotted towards the convention center. I started to feel instant separation because I didn't notice them huddling at the other side thinking of other activities besides going inside the book fair. Mitch out of his love and "obligation" was selfless to go with me even though it was torture for him. Nikkon, out of boredom, thankfully found a friend in Mitch. They finally decided to accompany me to the nearest ATM center before finally bidding me farewell to enjoy my book fair alone. I even tried to persuade them for the sake of literary appreciation and advocacy, yet they're deaf to my pleas. Suit yourself, I say. I'm heading for adventure.

I waent back to SMX and paid the 10 pesos entrance fee at the lobby. I surrendered myself to the crowd, smell of pages and books, and hundreds of stalls waiting to be visited. For the first few minutes, I took pictures. But after that, I dumped my camera and devoted my time to TREASURE HUNTING.

I wasn't shopping for anything specific. I have a few titles in mind, but I wasn't strictly looking for them. In these certain events, I surrender to the moment. I know that once I get out of the fair, I've already spent my budget and more. So it was a no rush and a no pressure event. I just picked what my mind and heart dictated.

Hours literally trickled down without my knowledge. Basing it from experience, finding that perfect book in a fair as big as this, is like finding a needle in a haystack. But it doesn't matter as long as you nurse that passion for books. It's often a comforting experience, and sometimes rewarding if you find your treasure. I did. Mission is more than accomplished.