Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vacation 101: Mother*Pack*ing Task

12:48 am in my clock.

2 hours ago I just got home from work. I had my last conference call for the week while my mind was flying elsewhere on how to accomplish my most dreaded task for every vacation, which is packing.

I loathe packing. I loathe thinking of what to bring, which clothes I would have to consider for a specific time and place. It's better if I have an ironed out itinerary, but usually itineraries with my family aren't followed. So, I tend to bring an extra of this, an extra of that just to be on the safe side. Before I know it, my suitcase is already bulging. Obviously my wardrobe is not that flexible.

Transferring essential things from one bag to another is another draining task. You have to make sure every document is with you while you pack your wits for another day.

As I type it's already 1 am and I have technically 1.5 hours of sleep before I prepare to leave for the airport. Why am I even blogging in the first place? Ah yes, I just had to search Adam Lambert's performance in YOUTUBE. I was supposed to watch the TV replay at 11 pm, but I had other more "important" things to accomplish...like packing.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Facebook Rules: Do not be de-friended.

Like carrying ourselves in public, we are bounded by certain etiquette or rules of moral normalcy. Just as we are not expected to flaunt everything that may be viewed as offensive, extremely annoying and (pathetic), this also applies in social networking sites. Believe it or not social networking sites is another avenue for interaction in this day and age. Everyone at least has one site that they can fully express themselves in various ways. Gone were the days when emails and chatrooms were the only vehicles for online interaction. Social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, Multiply and even customized personal blogs are efficient ways of reaching out to the majority of net users now. Since the scope and the gravity of these sites are so important and so destructive, do not be surprised if there are subtle rules and etiquette to educate us what we should or should not be doing.

Take Facebook for example. I have yet to meet a person who doesn't desire or have any facebook account. Even I am considered joining the site very late. I found Facebook, just like how others have been building it up, to be more interactive and more true to networking. I found more friends there from god-knows-where effortlessly. I can do games and quizzes and publish it for my friends to know about me. I have a customized profile to provide background about my current status: Personal or professional. I can play with my friends, chat with them, send emails and share photos. And just like how the real person wants drama, I can post a shout out and comment on other people's shout outs. Facebook is not only an effective social networking site, but it brilliantly kills time as well.

Since everything that you need to know about the person is in Facebook, there is less reason to meet up in real life and just gossip. Everyone already knows about a person's updates that conversations in the real world are already tailored in reference to Facebook information. Believe it or not, it saves us time speculating and being in the dark. That is why whatever information you put there is something that could build you or destroy you. And just like in the real life, we don't need another annoying avenue for unwanted drama and attention.

For those with social networking sites especially the powerful Facbook, here are the TOP 10 etiquette rules published by TIME.COM. You might want to read them and avoid being hated. Disregard them if you do not care at all.


1. Stop taking quizzes. Nobody cares what literary time period you are.

Guilty with this. I love taking quizzes. I take quizzes especially to kill time and entertain myself. I may not see it as scientific and some quizzes in Facebook are utterly pointless, but I am aware of that. I just have the knack of sharing with other people what top things I love to eat, bring along and places to visit. With this, I get to learn more about the likes of my friends. It's not that bad at all. It's informative fantasy at its finest.

2. IF you sync your Twitter account to Facebook so that you fill others' newsfeeds with constant stream of mundane updates and references to people with little @ symbols before their names, be prepared for people to befriend you.

I don't have a Twitter account, so I couldn't quite relate to this. But I could look at this in the shout outs angle. There are just Facebook addicts that create shout outs and news feeds every five minutes like their emotions and lives shift that easily. "I'm feeling down" after five minutes "Saw a rainbow and felt happy." Uhhh....right. Some people are just damn trying hard to be interesting and effortlessly stay annoying at the same time. The problem with this is, it might reach a time when people might get sick and tired of knowing every little detail that is happening in your life in every five minutes. Instead of attracting positive attention, people would be forced to skip you.

3. Don't Friend someone You don't actually know.

In short, do not POLLUTE your FACEBOOK. This also applies in not accepting every single invitation of people you do not really want to be associated with. Just imagine that in the real world, we are literally exposed to people we randomly meet. Most of the times it's beyond our control, but Facebook gives us another chance to customize and limit our contacts to people we really care for. It really shouldn't be a big deal if I don't accept. It's a choice and an invitation and invitations get declined everytime. I pat myself for being true. And this is also a reminder for people to use real names and not adapt screen names that do not really ring a bell.


4. If you must friend someone you don't actually know, include a message explaining why you are doing so: "Hi I'm your cousin's roommate"

If you're going to be pathetic and desperate just save the person you are inviting the trouble from figuring out where you came from. And if the person stays true to rule Number 3, your pathetic efforts will be in vain.

5. Actually, don't even find yourself in Rule Number 4.

6. Don't invite people to events if they don't live in your city.

This might apply in the Western part of the hemisphere, but this is perfectly fine in the Philippines. The country is relatively smaller hence people are more "connected."

7. Do not expect people to join your "cause."

Death, political movements and new information may drive invitations to causes. It's okay to ask if they're interested, but it's always a personal decision and everyone has the right to decline.

8. Make sure that photos are rotated in the proper direction.

Very true. Since photos are automatically shared with your friends, it saves them the time bending their necks trying to figure out those magnificent shots.

9. A call for Lost Cell Numbers is tricky

Poor you that you lost your phone, but Facebook is not a roll call to post your numbers. It's too risky.

10. Cryptic status about your mental state: "Rachel is trying hard.." "Rachel wishes things to be different." "Rachel is starting over."

Uhh...okay, provide more comprehensive information please. It's bad to leave people guessing and speculating all the time. It doesn't sound intriguing. It sounds bordering from vagueness to loneliness.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Snickering Mother Nature

It's one of those Saturday bed weathers again. It's raining so hard that I had to increase the volume of the television. I'm watching Charmed reruns and it has resulted to a mime show. It's so dark that it makes me forget that I've already just woken up as I find myself slowly drifting into sleep. Although by this time, we don't have to think of any stupid excuses to skip work because for most of us, Saturday is a non-working day. Technically is the term. I have to do work on a Saturday, minimal work that is. I have to drive all the way to the office and do some minor work that requires 15 minutes of my time. I have remote access though, but it seems it's not working at this point. It's raining hard, it's a weekend and my remote access is not working therefore technically "skipping" work is a most probable option. The organization cannot demand this on me on these given circumstances.

Enough about work though. That is not the reason why I wrote in the first place. I wanted to write about my bewilderment of this gloomy weather in...APRIL! All these times I was preparing for a scorching summer where the asphalt roads would release steamed heat that makes you want to carry a water sprinkler and squirt water on the road and hear it fizzle. I was preparing for waking up in the mornings desperately needing a shower because I would find myself waking up on own pile of sweaty clothes. But for the past week, everything I expected turned out to be just a bunch of expectations.

When I was in Boracay, the argued summer capital of the Philippines, it was raining. The sea was not calm at all. There was wind and the aura was definitely gloomy. Instead of shake people were getting coffees. The strong heat of the sun that supposed to be the default weather was replaced with occasional drizzle, cloudy disposition and sometimes thunder. You think this is odd, imagine using an umbrella while walking in the shores of Boracay.

This is not a normal summer. If ever it would rain during summers it would only take a day at the most, and it's not in powerful intensity. Summer is expected to be dry and hot, permitting people to roam about. Storms and low pressure areas aren't expected to come up in the news. Normally weekends spent at home would be torture if you're not on airconditioning. I could understand most people's frustrations with this quasi weather though because summer is the actual time that groups plan for an event, get togethers or trips. Weekends of summers are definitely crucial as most grand plans take place at this time. But as I peek from my window, I wouldn't be surprised if most trips are canceled today. People would even be forced to impose some minor to major adjustments to their plans. Some might be cursing the weather right now.

All of the brewing animosity is understandable after all. It is not that people cannot live without the heat and sun, but it's that they hate their plans getting affected by not having the much needed heat and sun. No one ever prepared us to hear thunders and depend on rain schedules to plan for our summer vacations. Being a tropical country, this weather change is not very cooperative with the programmed mindset.

Naturally people started asking if summer has ended its streak, limiting its duration for only a month. The only popular and trusted weather forecasting body in the country still declared that we're still in the summer season no matter how it contradicts to what you see outside your windows. They declared this a couple of days ago. In the news, they mentioned that they were still expecting the dreaded summer heat to come back, but if the gloomy weather seems to transcend past a week to two weeks to a couple of random days, they would probably have to rule out that summer has indeed ended. In short, there goes your summer vacation. If you haven't begun yet, well plan early next year.

There was even a rumor that Cagayan experienced an "icy" weather during this season. Is this what they're telling us about the climate change? The product of men's gradual destruction of the environment? In fact, we shouldn't be surprised at all. Beneath the canceled trips lies a bigger picture. It's a small price to pay really for what we've actually done. If summer now is reduced to a month, who are we to complain to but amongst ourselves?

By this time, the rain has stopped and as I looked out again, the sun creeps in as if nothing happened.

It's weird, but I feel Mother Nature is snickering at us right now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cream Based Afternoon

After picking up my boyfriend's brother at the airport, together with his girlfriend and another couple, we all decided to have a simple "merienda" after. Since it was raining the whole afternoon, we decided to stop by the supermarket and buy ingredients for a carbo-tuna pasta dinner initiated by the frustrated chef Nikkon Villajuan, who is also my neighbor. After dropping them off at his house, I headed off towards the bank and had a quick appointment with my dermatologist. It seems my allergy's warming up again and my skin is in very bad condition.

I expected these two particular skin setbacks to happen to me during and after my Boracay trip. It never fails. For some reason, the sand particles and the saltwater would trigger some allergic reaction in my skin especially in my legs and face. For three years of going there, I've learned how to balance the sand and water exposures so as not to put my vacation in vain. It's pathetic when you see most of your friends swimming and enjoying the beach as if nature intended to, whereas I am always stuck in a beach mat struggling with my allergic medicines and playing a tug of war in my head. Despite the hassles and limitations, I've learned to manage this particular part in my life.

Although for my recent trip last week, a lot of new things happened that I am really grateful for. We did Island Hopping, Mitch and I at least maximized the entire day, we ate lots of seafoods, and we did one of those ATV tours. We were proactive and we were always under the sun. It explains the sunburn and some minor allergic reactions that I encountered, but it wasn't much of a big deal. It couldn't be helped. Enjoying my vacation is more important than bearable skin irritations. As the trip sailed in smoothly, I was also sure that my skin was adjusting to the new environment, the new water that I wash with my face, the humidity and everything else that have contributed to the slow itching, blemishing and blotching. I wasn't a bit surprised to have pimples appearing like a comeback in groups nor was I having a bitch fit when my skin was as rough and uneven as a rock. I knew that I couldn't do anything about it and the more I worried, the more I wouldn't have enjoyed my trip. Therefore, I avoided mirrors and just put sunblock to minimize the damage. I also know that my allergic reactions also needed some medical attention. I knew that as soon as I get settled in Manila, I will have my usual trip and medical routine with my dermatologist.

This afternoon, drenched and soaked, I went to my dermatologist and bought the usual wallet-whopping medications to treat my skin "unpleasantries." I bought an acne gel, kojic treatment soap, placenta cream, bleaching cream, steroid cream and anti-fungal cream. All the other creams anyone could think of. After that, I bought a sugarfree Mango Cream Cake to even out the bad vibes with good vibes from Red Ribbon.

Transition from Vacation

Aside from packing and budgeting, transitioning is one of the worst parts of a vacation. It's the transition to reality from which you were forced to "vacate" in the first place.

In terms of going back to reality, I really don't mind diving into work again. I missed bits and parts of it on the third day. I missed the structure. I missed the schedule and I missed the small convenient things that I learned to love like fast internet, air conditioned hallways and constant shield from the sun. For some sick reason, I even missed the fast food chains near our office. Even if it is so, one cannot deny that the body and the mind can easily adjust to vacation unlike the other way around. Once the clogged up gray view is replaced by natural's green and blue hues the body responds by easing up. Once the pollution, smog and hurried noise are replaced by whispers of the wind, splashes of water, and laughter of people you meet who are already enjoying the good vibes, then before the senses try to analyze it, transition has gracefully taken place.

Now, imagine that the other way around. One word. Harder.

It has always been a challenge of mine to transition back to work from a very good vacation. It's bad enough that I missed out on meetings and emails, but my mind is always lagged at least until I can fully register that I'm back where I'm supposed to be, which takes an entire day of laziness. My room, the night before my flight, silently absorbed my excitement. Now, my room represents what it's always been. My simple sanctuary. Calm and the point where vacation always seems to start.

Call this another dramatic form of withdrawal. Rehabilitation from vacation is something that happens in the mind and sometimes I need all the help I can get. One full day of rest. One foot spa treatment, a dermatologist appointment and to regulate my sleep or diet. I even have to get my groove back with writing. Transition isn't something that is hurried, so what's the rush? I'm still enjoying letting go of something fantastic.

Bottomline, I didn't go to work. And the clincher is, I'm still sick from the very bad weather, which I will narrate on my next post.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm back to Reality

I am officially back from Boracay. Vacation is finally over. After 5 hours of delay, a very bad weather, nursing a bad case of tonsilitis, and being rerouted to an entirely different airport, 1.5 hours away from the original one, I can now say that I'm finally home. The first thing that I did when I got home was to see Harvey. The sucker did miss me after all.

Second, I had a HOT shower and got rid of all the rain water, soot, dirt and sweat from a grueling afternoon. Then, I unpacked. After I've gotten everything ready I went to my computer to upload some pictures.

I immediately felt tired and sleepy after 5 minutes. I just had to finish transferring the files from my memory stick to the computer. The upload and arrangement will have to be done tomorrow because at this point...I just cannot.

Since my whole family (except my dad) is going to Cebu tomorrow, I have to fix and recharge the camera. Blast it. One more chore to accomplish before I sleep.

Just wrote a blog to sign off.

Later.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Then we Came to the End

Then we came to the end . This is not a hint to end this blog, but it is the title of my first summer vacation book. I've read excerpts of this book last year in Fully Booked Bonificio High Street while waiting for Mitch to arrive. I remember on that day I was not in the mood for waiting and walking. So, I entered Fully Booked to surround myself with my favorite comfort and distraction. Books. I clearly remembered this book was featured at the new releases section and I randomly grabbed it because the font and the color are intriguing. Not that post-its randomly dazzle me, but there's something about the title of course. Then I took a vacant seat. Call it a reader's or a woman's intuition, but I read the first chapter and began savoring the humor and words. I didn't realize I was actually waiting for someone as time easily passed by until unfortunately Mitch burst my reading bubble. We were in a hurry at that time so I vowed myself to purchase this book when the next opportunity comes, but when I did go back a couple of weeks later, this book was out of stock. With so many events and backlogs, this book completely skipped my mind.




A few months later and two weeks before my Boracay trip, I found myself in Powerbooks itching to find my Boracay Book. That material should be very interesting and preferably "lighter" than the usual ones I read. I want it to complement my vacation. I want a book that would humor me and that would share insights that I can easily relate to.

I was shifting from one aisle to another in Powerbooks Greenbelt and almost resigned to the fact that I should just search a book in my library, but with a glimpse of a second, the yellow covered book near the entrance took my attention. I made sure it was the same book in my mind by browsing through the first chapter. Same humor. Same book; and without any hesitations, I bought it.

For the past week I was itching to read it, but I reserved the book for looming Boracay vacation. When it was time to pack, I put the book in my bag first then came my pocket money. I began reading it from cover to cover on the plane and on the beach while my friends were busy doing their photo shoots.

I remember that exactly last year in Boracay I had fun with Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami, now this novel by Joshua Ferris has great promises as well. The first chapter, which is about dynamic people dealing with layoffs, is narrated and described in such a comic and real sense. It was not your typically happy start, but real enough for me to relate to. From then on, it's satire and wackiest moments that would leave you to confront your own office demons and laughing at that.

The true Zestair Experience

I will admit it first that I like tradition. I've always liked comfort zones and I always patronize what is already reliable to me. It takes a strong feeling,bravery and the need for me to stick to alternatives. For example, I don't shop that often and whenever I do, I always know which stores to go to. If I want comfort, I go immediately to reliable restaurants that serve my most favorite comfort foods. If there is something that I have to spend for and with tons of risk involved, I always go to the traditionally reliable ones. This also goes for airlines.

I got this airlines specification from my father. Ever since I was a kid traveling to Cebu for every single year, my father would always book flights and he would always book it with PAL. I've been accustomed to its service and I am still alive aren't I? PAL for quite some time has monopolized the domestic flights and they have built their reputation to be the country's flag carrier. Being a flag carrier with more experience to boot, they do not fool around. They're reliable and they're trusted. Until of course other players tried to take some market share. Cebu Pacific entered the waves, yet they have had misfortunes in their earlier years. This,together with trying to break the public loyalty to the already trusted giant airline carrier PAL ,gave hardships to Cebu Pacific. My father wouldn't even consider flying Cebu Pacific. Even now he's still loyal. I've gotten that from him until I learned how to explore and break free from the monopoly.

I've tried Cebu Pacific when I was already working. Apparently they've developed a campaign that hits practical travelers like me. Their rates and Go-Lite fares encouraged people to travel. They re-opened the public's perceptions on how to see air travel in a different light. For a few years running, they've led expansions due to strong demand. They've began to collect steam and with the continuous flights, their reliable reputation is being developed. Now they're flying to more local destinations and international destinations in attractive rates. They've started acquiring new units and they've clinched the top spot for domestic sales. Now people have two major choices for air travel.

When the competition seems healthier more minor players entered the scene. With various Philippine destinations opening up, more people have begun to travel. With other demands on this highly consumer life, a good value for their money is always a main consideration. Small airplanes and jets to smaller airports in unusual destinations gave birth to minor players like SEAIR and ASIAN SPIRIT. With the trend of popular destinations on the rise like CATICLAN and PALAWAN, Cebu Pacific joined the bandwagon. Tight competition also further led to a new acquisition, which product is ZESTAIR today.

Since it's a new "airline" company, it's normal to speculate. We don't immediately jump the wagon that easily. With the airplane's convenience and operations, it also needs to generate utmost trust from consumers. Without losing any time to bigger competitors, they immediately joined the same Price-drop campaigns to entice people to travel and look for more options for cheaper rates even if they only start as an alternative. And being the less popular and less experienced, they had to fend off numerous airline jokes as well. Being a budget carrier, they too have lots to prove.

For my Boracay trip this year, we hunted for the cheapest rates in the season. Cebu Pacific and PAL have relatively higher rates and thus we checked ZESTAIR. Fortunately we chanced upon a promo that they offered which slashed off rates compared to Cebu Pacific's and PAL's. Before the actual booking, a certain part of me speculated. I hesitated, actually. I have not tried ZESTAIR before and I'm not that ignorant with the airline jokes. I may be comfortable with planes, but security and comfort are things that I really have to consider. I may be practical, but I am more willing to pay for my security. But I figured to end the intrigue and finally experience a totally new airline company for a change, also the price for me is a driving factor. When some of my office mates knew that I booked a flight, they reminded me to give them a full feedback on what it was like flying with Zestair, with a comic gash here and there to text them if I reach the plane alive. Har-Har I said.

This morning, Mitch and I with two of our other friends prepared for our first Zestair experience. Sad to say for newbie haters and paranoids, our Zestair experience, from the plane, facilities and landing were excellent.


1. AIRPORT

Zestair planes are stationed in the Domestic Terminal 1. It may be an old airport, but the whole check-in and waiting lounge were too huge for only one airline company to operate. Since Cebu Pacific operates in the new Naia airport and PAL has their own terminal, Zestair has the original domestic airport all to themselves. No hassles, no market noise, just one big and breezy terminal.



2. THE RIDE

The plane, despite that it is powered by a propeller based engine, is relatively new, well at least the interior. No cheap material and scotch tapes. We found out about this because of the smell, the paint and the upholstery. Although, expect that the plane is smaller than the usual Airbus. It only has a double seat for each side and it could be pretty cramped for a jet setter. The plane's vibration and engine sound are more distinguished than normal jet planes, but this is not charged to Zestair's incompetency. It happens in all propeller powered planes anyways. Aside from the sound, the functionality of the plane is solid and the ride is smooth. Not to mention, this is the only domestic plane that I've ridden most recently that offers newspapers and a choice between sealed water and juice for refreshments. The juice is Zest-O of course.


3. THE LANDING


I don't know if it was because of the pilot, but this particular landing is one of the most smooth landings I have ever experienced.

All in all, ZESTAIR is a budget airline that really delivers. It has broken down the false stigma and turned the inexperience upside down. They have impressed me with their service starting from the airport terminal to reaching our destination. We got to our destination on time and I have no complaints whatsoever. Zestair might even give Cebu Pacific and PAL a run for their money. This is definitely a worth it, confident experience.

To book for cheaper rates or to look for other airline options, try Zestair. It could be your alternative, your much better choice and a new unforgettable experience on what real flying should be all about.


Officially on Vacation

I am officially on vacation. It started at 3:30 am today when I was picked up by my friends and as soon as I finished the little battle with my parents..victoriously. I thought they were going to ground me out of not being able to share in depth details of my trip earlier than expected, but good thing they are understanding and somewhat forgiving.

Our group's flight schedules compared to the previous years are quite racy now. Except for sharing the flight with Mitch and the Lycan-Vampire duo SR and Jane, others booked different flight schedules with different airlines. Apparently this is clearly a product of lack of coordination and other reasons brought by their respective careers. Nevertheless, I was quite happy to know that Mitch and I will be sharing the earliest flight of Zestair to Caticlan with two of our friends.

An hour and a half later, here we are, finally settled in our rooms relishing past memories and preparing for exciting moments to come on these default Philippine Summer destination. The same shops and restaurants are still there. The sand is still powdery, the ambiance is still laid back and the opportunity to devour different kinds of food while sun bathing or hibernating in your airconditioned room remind you the good things in life. We walk the same paths. We see the same things, yet there's a calming and exciting effect to it.

I have to slap myself to realize that finally I'm on vacation.

Others ask me why I am surfing and blogging when I should have left my mini netbook at home and be disconnected to reality? But blogging in whatever form is relaxing. Blogging with a cool fruit shake, with a vast view of crystal blue waters, with powdery sand tickling your feet on a hot and beautiful day, is even better!




*First arrivals: Jane, SR Me and Mitch on Zestair's earliest flight.
Nikkon and Kat on Zestair's second flight. A shot enjoying a lechon kawali and salpicao breakfast at Smokes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One more day

I'm done counting and raving. I can already smell the vacation come to me so I'm just going to sit and wait. One more day and I'll finally get my vacation.

This is not actually a dream vacation. It is a regular "thing" that I have with friends. The place is not new to me and more or less I know what to expect when I get there. I shouldn't even be this excited. But I badly need this vacation so much that I really couldn't care less where it will be. As long as I can sleep, eat and not think for modern man's trivialities on jobs, responsibilities and concerns, then I would be extremely happy.

For Boracay, I know it would be crowded. I might even bump into people I might know and be forced to engage in small talk. I've accepted the fact that Boracay is not so much as a quiet getaway. It's still loaded with people and loaded with activities. In fact, I like boracay for the very unusual reasons.

I just like the accessibility of food and the ability to just live like you don't have work, you don't have responsibilities, you don't have bills and you don't ever have to go back to Manila. My basic concerns comprise of "what to eat, what time to roam around and what time to wake up."

I can't wait to look at nature at its fullest and be away from buildings for a change. I want to read in a relaxing atmosphere with my favorite drink beside me. I want to spend time with my loved one and friends in a different location. Nightlife isn't even much of my concern, but it's hard to neglect that in Boracay. Might as well enjoy it with my friends only having to walk to the hotel to retire and no parents disapproving of the self-imposed curfew that lasts until breakfast time.

Also with my personality, I'm not much of a fan with crowds or large gathering, but in Boracay everyone seems to be on good vibes, like a drug or gas that is circulated in every lungs of those who walk on its prisra

Monday, April 13, 2009

Disheartening

As much as how we hate our lives sometimes, there are still things that never fail to remind us to be thankful. Among the things that I am thankful for is a job, a source of income, not only for myself, but for my family. Bestowing us good financial sense also helps in a way. With the global crisis and the uncertainties in life, nobody has a slightest idea on what would happen in the future. Sure, we wish everything would work out fine. Some of us are not even aiming for the stars, but just for everything to be fine in all aspects of our lives.

Of all the things that keep man's life revolving, career is something that I hold pretty dear. I see everyday as an opportunity for me to find my true calling. Everyday is a reminder for me to excel in everything I do and be productive. The presence of career steers me from things that I don't need. Career helps me grow as a person and it is my identified battlefield. That is why stories of its failure, regret and unfortunate circumstances just dishearten me the most.


Jonathan Steinberg, 53, a former marketing executive, has been out of work for more than two years. With a résumé that includes an undergraduate degree from Yale and an M.B.A. from New York University, he had a career on a steady upward progression. His most recent position was senior vice president for communications and marketing at a large organization for the care of the elderly, where he was paid about $170,000 a year. But after applying for more than 100 jobs and getting few responses, he is now exploring work as a paralegal or a teacher. He believes that his age and experience make for slim odds of landing even a junior-level marketing position at this point.(NYT)


I hate to see this happen to people, most especially to experienced and well deserving professionals in their respective industries. This ultimately kills and gnaws the spirit. It's not anymore an isolated case. They have become part of a glaring statistic; and their stories have become a point of reference for us, who are still surviving in our careers, to always find reasons to be thankful.

The Powerbooks Fan Page Contest


Look what I've got in my Multiply mail:











Congratulations to the winners of our Powerbooks Fan Page contest! We enjoyed the posts so much that we decided to add 2 more winners to the list.

Kaye Layson
Don Eleazar Balboa
Noria P. Adam-Lim
Srbaj Dinong
Minette Ilagan-Ame

Powerbooks Marketing will send you a message via your Facebook account on how you can claim your prizes.

Thank you to everyone who posted in our Fan Page thread. We had a great time reading the posts you all made. Your unique experiences and heartwarming tales have indeed sparked all sorts of emotions--from excitement and anticipation to relaxation and relief. We hope you'll continue joining Powerbooks' promos and contests! Watch out for the next one!




Gosh I felt like I won a major lotto draw! I don't usually join contests and whenever I do I hardly win at all so you could just imagine my delight. Seriously, I feel ecstatic at this moment. My whole family thought that I won something monetary the way I jumped up and down, but I told them it's way better than that. I called up Mitch and texted some friends as well. I'm such in a mood to boast. I won from one of the stores that nurtured me as a person! Powerbooks and I will always have THAT connection! I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but hell, I won!

Secretly, I hope the prize would be a continuous supply of books for at least one year, but who am I kidding, right? Just the mere fact that I won is really a prize in itself! Consider me a very happy kid!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

To Wax or not to Wax

In an unforgiving hot Sunday Easter afternoon, I accompanied my two lady friends to a waxing salon. Well, what do you know, times have changed indeed. Beauty and wellness centers like spas and different kinds of salon for all body parts are mushrooming like crazy. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of my weakest departments. The only salon that I go to is a hair salon; and shamefully I only visit it once in a blue moon, which is another term for once a year for hair trimming. Well, sometimes I go for major haircuts like what I did last year when I chopped my long hair to a bob. Enduring the salon is not enough though. A couple of my friends were even shocked when they found out that I don't have a regular salon and I don't have a regular hairstylist. It was like I missed out something life altering. After that sudden revelation, I asked my mom and my sister if they have regular hairstylists. My mom said yes while sister said she has two. One main and one fall back. Gosh, well at that time I felt abandoned by not being told about this very pertinent information. Nevertheless, I didn't mind. I go to whatever salon that is convenient and cheap.

So salons now are not only concentrated to hair. It has gone to a generic term. In this day and age, salons are specialized and you have to know these things. There are nail salons, foot salons and waxing salons. So when my two lady friends invited me to go with them to a waxing salon that another lady friend of ours recommended, I decided to go because it was hot and I didn't have anything planned to do. Also, I was curious about this waxing salon people are raving about. At least I can say to myself that I've been there once.

One of my lady friends has already experienced waxing, and by waxing I mean Brazilian Waxing. When she was trying to convince me to take the plunge last week, I researched it on the net and got to know more about it. Apparently, Brazilian waxing is a waxing treatment you do right down "there" in your organ so to speak. It rids your entire pubic area of hair in a fast and effective way while promoting smooth hair re-growth and maintenance. And just like taking your hair from its roots, expect it to hurt like hell.

I'm not really a complete moron when it comes to waxing, although I've never tried it. I was regularly accompanying my best friend since our college days when she would get her legs waxed. I got to see the whole process of putting hot wax, laying some strips and with a quick motion stripping the hair off. She would wince and react and I was just there to support her and count the minutes left. I've thought about it before. Even at those times, when my skin allergies were not yet highly sensitized, I knew I would have a major problem when it comes to severe hair and skin treatments. Apparently, skin is my more hazardous and weakest organ. I get red maps easily and I would have severe skin inflammation when something painful is done to it. That's why visiting dermatologists and facials were not exactly something that I did on a regular basis. Again it's more of like a once in a blue moon thing. As usual, I never did it even if she encouraged me because of my skin issues, although I like going with her and watching the whole process. It even occurred to me that I might like seeing people get tortured because of vanity.

Years later I still result to my safest and usual mode of "hair treatment." I am still surviving and living life as I see fit until last year in which I suffered from an intense skin eruption or an immunological disease called Urticaria or hives. The first week that I began itching like hell in concentrated areas like my back, my two arms and my two legs, I thought I was in deep trouble. The itching was unbearable and it occurred every night. There were small circular eruptions in my skin like weird goosebumps and I couldn't concentrate with anything even if my life depended on it. I've never been allergic to food before, except for peanuts, and remembering those times, I've never done anything unusual. I thought the itch would go away in a week but it got worse. My mom and I eventually went to a dermatologist and did some random skin test. The doctor diagnosed me for having a severe urticaria and later on prescribed me medicines that comprise of expensive itch tablets, anti-allergy medicines, creams, steroids and sleeping pills. In one visit I was able to cash out almost 10K that mostly went to medications. I quickly called my best friend, the same friend that I accompanied to waxing salons, to tell her of my plight. She is a doctor and she quite felt sorry for me when she found out. She knew that this condition is a pain in the ass.

My dermatologist even recommended me to go to an immunologist to make sure that I'm not specifically allergic to something. According to my immunologist, Urticaria is 50% caused by a known allergic reaction to food, cloth, substance or contact and 50% is caused by something genetically made up. I even told him that my whole family is not as sensitive as I am and I've never been diagnosed allergic to something else except for peanut and Ibuprofen which I avoid. But he reasoned out that being sensitized with a skin disease like this does not require perfect timing and cause. It just happens when I encounter something that would trigger it and most of the times I wouldn't be able to pin point what it would be. That is the worse part. My body could react with an Urticaria if one day, out of the blue, I'm triggered with something as minor as a change in temperature or as major as eating a certain food or contact with a certain particle. This also means I would be walking on eggshells from now on and I am strictly recommended to bring medications with me whenever I travel. Experts say that I would never know when it would hit me and not being able to treat it immediately would cause other major complications.

So for the time being I would avoid hot places like saunas or hot springs. I would always eat seafood in moderation and it took time for me to get used to not using loofa and wear clothing that promotes intense friction. In my trips, I always make sure to put medicine as a top priority in my must-have list. Creams and soaps must also be hypo-allergenic. I also avoid having a direct contact with the sun for too long. And did I even mention that I get paranoid on the slightest itch sensation that I get?

Therefore my lifestyle would not permit me to do anything severe to my skin. This includes waxing. Even if I'm highly interested with the good reviews of waxing, I get paranoid. I don't want to accidentally find a way to trigger my Urticaria. My lady friends have been proclaiming that waxing is convenient and a summer activity. Even though it's painful they said, I only have to experience it once to say that it's worth it. I hear them. Good thing is that I can condition myself to disregard the pain factor. The bad thing is I cannot turn off my paranoia.

I've asked my doctor if I can go through waxing because I'm already convinced by my lady friends. Apparently she discouraged it because my skin is highly sensitive and any treatment that goes beyond the skin, like snatching the hair from its follicles (waxing to us) might trigger my Urticaria or worse a disease known as Folliculitis. She said to not take the risk. With my vacation looming, the last thing that I would need is a skin attack. I don't want to go through the experience anymore because I know what it would cause me. A broken wallet, an itchy skin, a chronically bad temperament and a destroyed vacation.

So, I was just in content to go to this popular waxing salon and learned more about the delicate waxing process. I was also amused witnessing my friends go through pain for vanity, which I'm shamefully amused at. I know I have yet to experience it myself to totally understand what this new beauty treatment is all about, but as you all know I have more things to worry about.

The dog named BO

President Obama promised something to his daughters during the exhausting US presidential elections. As a strong motivation against pressure and time off from his family, he promised his kids that he will give them a dog regardless if he wins or not. And now that he is the President of a powerful and currently hot-seated country in the world, every move the first family makes is magnified and given considerable global attention. From clothes, from schools, from habits and even with regards to pets.

Meet the 'first family's dog,' a Portuguese Water Dog that the first daughters named Bo. The dog is given to the Obama's as a gift by Sen. Ted Kennedy. Before making the adoption official, there were reportedly secret meetings to get the girls and the first family acquainted. This is not an issue in the White House. Americans by nature love dogs and previous first families have had their own share of pets brought during their reign like beagles and hounds. This is not much of a big adjustment. But since they are the first family and probably the most influential and watched family in the world, things like these get magnetized and publicized.



Portuguese Water dogs in a nutshell is called "Portie" for short and their main jobs are to herd fish into fishermen's nets, to retrieve broken nets and acts as couriers. They resemble standard Poodles and are made to be very excellent companions. They are by nature obedient, intelligent and loyal. Seen as a perfect companion to the first daughters, probably its breed would sky rocket in the breeders' hit chart.

In local news, Harvey Elizander, my Jack Russell Terrier puppy is looking for a suitable mate. I'm having a hard time looking for one as this is not also a popular breed here in the Philippines. Well, like Bo, he is also a great companion, intelligent, very charming with people and very playful. He doesnt' require much grooming, but compared to the aspect of obedience, I think Bo has an upper hand. If Harvey was their dog I bet he would always be one of White House's main news because of his countless mischief and shenanigans, but I'm sure he will be so loved just the same.


Book Crossover Project: Finally

On a black Saturday, I went to work. I left my room looking like a minefield and specifically told everyone at our house to stay away from it and fight their urge to pick up some books scattered on the floor and pile them in stacks. To save them the emotion, I left a note not to open the door. I explained that I was able to do a preliminary inventory the evening before and their scattered disposition has a meaning and a purpose.

In short, I just want to get away from my room. For two days I've been clogged by a dust-infested and visually disgusting looking room that I'm sure being stuck in it another day would leave me sick. So, my recluse is at the office where air conditioning is free and I can get to relax by doing my familiar routine.

I got at the office at 10 am and met some office mates there who have nothing better to do on a Saturday. Malls are to open during lunch time and apparently almost everyone was anticipating that. I opened my fountain of emails and before I knew it it was already lunch time. While my colleagues were thinking of where to have lunch in Greenbelt, I was listing stuff that I needed to buy for my project and for my upcoming Boracay trip. I figured I wouldn't have enough time and energy to shop for the remaining days that I have, so I decided to do those errands right after lunch.

My colleagues and I had lunch at Recipes in Greenbelt and as usual the General's Chicken, Crispy Tilapia and the Gising-Gising didn't fail us. Accompanied by ice-cold bottomless iced tea on a scorching day was like a glimpse to our own impending vacations. We finished at around 2 in the afternoon and I parted ways with them.

I went to the department stores, drug stores and dropped by Havaiianas store to get my own flip flops that I've been eyeing for quite some time. After swiping for four times in my credit card, I tried to repress the computations while I kept my credit card tucked at my bag's small compartment. I am almost a thousand pesos over budget, therefore it's strictly cash until further notice. In the middle of the VERY last shopping expedition for medicines, toiletries and slippers, I went home and did some errand.

By around past 5, I was able to get back to the office. Fortunately, I just went back to log out and turn off my laptop as my other colleague who was there was able to manage the very manageable work load. By the time I got there, they were already planning to watch a movie, as I planned to go home and finally face the INEVITABLE.

On my way home, my mother texted that we were to attend the anticipated mass at 8 pm in our village parish. With still an hour to spare, I went to SM Bicutan, a nearby mall in our village, to check if they have affordable book stands and dividers I could use in my Book Crossover Project. But I couldn't find anything that I liked, so I just went to the department store and bought clips and bands. With no further business left, I headed straight to the church where I met my family.

Now, that mass was something else. It lasted for three hours. Although the ceremony was interesting and very Easter-intensive with the candles and stuff, it was freakingly HOT. My siblings didn't realize that it was going to be that long. We were all starving and it didn't help that the air was humid and sticky. But as the Lord said, "Sacrifice." Well, I thanked god for giving us brilliant minds. We have magnificently exercised Mind over Matter.

After the celebration at 11 pm, my sister was already on a rampage for food. My parents decided to stop by Mini Stop and buy some chicken and a 35 bucks lasagna. When we got there, I saw my Sun Valley Friends parked in my other friend's house. They tried to call me, but I could only wave to them as I was so hungry! I went to the kitchen, played with Harvey for a bit, and ate meatballs, crabs in sauce and chicken! When I finished at 11:45, I went out for a quick walk to my friends before finally locking myself in my room to get down to business.

I went back to the house at 12:15 am and started to finish my inventory.

By 2:00 am, I was done with my inventory and remembered I have a couple of things lacking in my shelf. The plastic cover on the shelves are not yet installed and I am still missing dividers for proper categorization. I was contemplating until 2:30 when sleep started to bug me. I firmly decided there and then to just put the books as orderly as I can to finally clean up my room and to finally put my books in their preliminary storage. It's not anymore reasonable to be OC at that time.

For another hour, I climbed up the metal ladder a dozen times trying to arrange books and put them on the section that I intended. It wasn't as 'OC' as I expected, but I had to do it with the limited time and resources that I have. I wouldn't let them be scattered on the floor for another day and my target to get them relocated was Easter. So, I finished my goal and at the same time was able to clean up my room.

By 4 am. I was asleep.

I woke up at 11 am and managed to fix minor stuff discarded in my room. Now, it's totally squeaky clean except of course with my laptop, it's wires and a few bags on the desk. I commissioned Ate Ne to put some plastic covers in each book section when I go on a vacation or whenever she is free for this month. She obliged as she was impressed that she came upon a very clean room this morning. Come end of April or beginning of May, I would have to buy those book dividers and properly categorize the books as I wanted it in the first place. But now, I couldn't complain, this would have to do and it's by far very agreeable to say the least.

When my brother peeked in my room to see if I drowned at my own mess, he was surprised to see that the books he painstakingly brought the other day were already stacked in the shelves. He couldn't figure out how I was able to fit them all in the book shelf or how I did "manual labor." Looking at it from the book shelf, my collection isn't intimidating, but when he climbed up the ladder and took a peek, he saw that the book section has three layers/rows per section. He said it was an optical illusion and that he couldn't believe I was able to finish it for Easter. He stepped out mind boggled as I patted myself for a job well done. Now, I am back to regular programming.



*Before, initial stages. I won't show the chaos pictures anymore. It's far disgusting

*AFTER. This sight is heavenly. Looking at it for the first time, I couldn't believe everything fit! But as my brother said, it was an optical illusion. Just don't go up the ladder and peek!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Crossover Project: Phase 2 Update

Until I get this project finished, I would have to keep on posting updates as a reminder of my online progress. This might irritate some readers as it would definitely irritate me that's why I am overly motivated to finish this.

Apparently, my room is still like a minefield. Books are stacked in random orders. I have to zigzag my way towards the bed and be enveloped with floating dust while I sleep. At the doorstep, my room is an ugly sight to behold.

I initially planned to work this through after lunch until tonight, but certain plans came up. Mitch and I had a quick early dinner at Shakey's, which is miraculously open in Magallanes. We initially intended to just chill at Starbucks for a late afternoon coffee, but decided to have our usual mojo-pizza dinner instead. I also ordered for the same stuff at home to feed my online-gaming siblings as a form of sacrifice and goodwill.

After dinner we went home and I got a visit from Bags and Ian together with their aggressive but cutie Mini-pinscher named Deedee (Doggy Dee for short). I was excited to bring Harvey out because they will be each other's playmates. We prepared for a mini-ruckus as these two dogs are highly active and playful. Apparently, it wasn't a perfect timing at all. Deedee is in HEAT and Harvey has been lustful for the past couple of weeks. Their play turned into a "virginity threat" on Deedee leaving her stressed and more aggressive towards Harvey. A mini-pinscher and a JRT combination is not suitable for any audience therefore their tete-a-tete was cut short. Ian decided to bring Deedee home as some of our friends from the village stopped over.

We lasted until 11:30 in the evening as our group played or "fooled" Harvey as our last activity. Unfortunately, I had to close down our house from visitors and be the kill joy as I am because I have so any stuff waiting to be arranged in my room. I need progress at least before I sleep and I have to prioritize my responsibility as a book collector rather than as a host. So I technically, yet subtly kicked them out.

By 11:45 I'm back in my room and did some inventory for at least an hour. As expected, I wasn't able to put some books in the shelf yet. My eyes are leaving me to sleep. I just have to be in content with the 1/4 inventory I have achieved and deal with sleeping in dust and towers surrounding my bed. It's a punishment and a sacrifice at the same time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Book Crossover Project: Phase 2 Update

Thank goodness for this netbook and wi-fi. Now I can get to take "surf" breaks in my room in the middle of doing my own "penance." As a way of reflecting and cleaning out clutter in my life, it was about time for me to do the chore that I have been tasked to do six months ago. This is my way of doing sacrifice, reflection and reorganization.

As I type, I look at the tower of books yet to be organized and recorded in my newly devised book database. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right and so far so good. I'm on the right track. It seems I have also been a source of delight and irritation to some. If my siblings want to entertain themselves by looking at the mess I've made, they just go into my room and snicker. As far as I'm concerned, they are underestimating me in this feat. Also, my time with Harvey and Mitch have also been compromised for this day. I can already sense a pinch of irritation, but my boys will understand.

With the paid services of my brother, I was able to transfer the books to my room in less than an hour. I've initially sorted the books according to its genre as fast as I could to move on to a more detailed categorization. Before making this blog, I made an elementary MS-Access and Excel database to record all the books in my possession. I did this once, manually with a log book and an access file in my old Presario laptop. But my laptop crashed and my log book is shamelessly outdated. So I have to do everything from scratch.




Oh gosh, my back hurts and I'm on my way to allergy heaven with all the dust from books. I can't wait to just lay in an airconditioned room, with some banana shake and hamburger on the side. Fast foward to Boracay please! Sigh. But as a sacrifice, I'm not complaining. I'm merely releasing a statement.

Ho well, back to work...then take a shower.

Book Crossover Project: Phase 1 Complete

We transferred to our new house situated across the street November 28th of last year. We should've transferred a little bit earlier than that, but we had to allot more time to detach ourselves from our old house and avoid the impending chore of moving our stuff. No matter how weird our situation may be, there are a lot of advantages in moving to a new location just across the street without pressure and without added stress.

Last November when I started sleeping at our new house, I still kept my clothes at the old house and still did my bathroom business there. All the stuff in the new house are immaculately clean and new, I didn't want to ruin it. Every morning, I had to tread my way in pajamas just to get my clothes for work. Sometimes, some stuff that I thought I had in my new room were still in the old house. In short, I've become slightly unorganized.

Christmas came and New Year came, practically my room was still bare. I only bought a black IKEA lampshade as my only accessory. I have a couple of new books on the desk, my bags, my shoes and my clothes, which I gradually transferred, cleanly kept in my cabinets. But apart from that, my room lacked life and character. The guest room even looked cozier and edgy than mine.

After the holidays, I decided to finally allot some time to fix my room. I mentally took note of picture frames that I wanted to buy and put up. I also reminded myself of the glaring mountain of books I left at the other house, which are slowly collecting dust. But work became pretty hectic that domestic matters were put on the very end of the back seat. My parents weren't complaining that I've began to relish my workaholic days, but they were complaining how my room pathetically looked and how much "junk" I left at the old house. I told them, my weekend is always allotted at focusing on something else that I feel are more important. The only way that I could finally do it was to file for at least a day of vacation leave.

That was what I did last Friday and it worked. March 27th I took a leave from work only to fix my room. I got the first phase of book transferring done in the morning and I was able to go to Makati and shop for plastic covers after which I watched a movie with friends. Not entirely the list of activities that I planned to do with my entire day, but nevertheless it was productive. The important thing is, I got my plan in motion and I was able to transfer the first wave of books to our new house.

Doing that made me realize a couple of things:

1. I NEED EXERCISE

I believe I badly need to exercise because I quickly get tired and burned out on simple tasks like this. Books might be heavy, but the fact that my arms always hurt and I would always feel faint at a short distance of walking made me totally pathetic. I was not doing it as fast as I could and I would immediately get cranky and lose my cool. I was not singing a tune while doing this.

2. DISADVANTAGES

A lot of people say that it's more stress-free transferring from one house to the other when its proximity is very near (just across) and that you are not pressured by anyone to move. True. We didn't hire any overhaul company to transfer our stuff anymore. We weren't pressured to just transfer everything just because we're running out of time and we're playing overhaul companies by the hour. We transfer stuff at our own pace. Some men who were still working at that time helped us transfer boxes from the other house with utmost convenience.

Although the advantages are there, there is also a psychological disadvantage to the picture. With the convenience and accessibility, I wasn't able to prioritize the transfer. I felt I could do it anytime I want so I began focusing on other activities in my life. That is cool, but only that I wasn't able to do it until March. And by the time I was doing it, I was completely alone.

3. TRANSFER IS NOTHING, SORTING IS A DIFFERENT THING

Last March 27, it took me half day to transfer wave 1 books from our old house to the new. I didn't care if they were not categorized yet. I just put them all in the box to be taken to the other house. That was the primary goal. This morning, I did that too on my last wave of books, only that I used a luggage with wheels for convenience. Right now, our parking area resembles a Book Fair bazaar and my room resembles a wizard's quarters where books are on the floor, on my desk, on my drawer and soon will be on my bed once I get the other books upstairs.

After the painstaking physical labor of transferring my books, I took a break and immediately figured out the next game plan. Phase 2 involves sorting, which is the "hell part." I have to sort books according to their genre. Sorting, compared to transferring, is more work. It involves auditing and making sure every book is plastic covered before finally storing it in my new shelf. I have to do an electronic encoding of books to make sure that I "finally" maintain a more sophisticated database. Based from my initial scanning, I'm more or less missing 50 books and I hope I find it today or I'll would have to do the inevitable. Release a bitch fit.


Well, I was supposed to go to work today, but due to some bad condition and looming domestic responsibility, I decided to take a "break" and knock myself out organizing my books once and for all. It took me more or less 6 months to finally start this, and I would finish it in less than a month's time. *Hopefully*




*Phase 1 (Transferring)
Wave 1 (Books on ground shelf)
Update: Done on Phase 1 with a total of 3 more waves.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Thing Called Pride

I am guilty of one of the seven deadly sins, which is PRIDE.

My pride is so huge and sometimes so unreasonable that I'd rather eat dirt than lose it for something clearly more important. A lot of people get in trouble by not letting go of their pride and I'm one of them. My pride hurts people I love and when uncontrolled, hurts me as well and clouds my perceptions. But for more than 24 years of living, I've never let it go.

I quite understand the importance of it though. Whenever I am faced with uncertainties or faced with greatest odds, I feel I could surpass them as long as I cling on to my pride. It is one of my most powerful shields on getting on with my life independently, efficiently and positively.

“I have a new client, a laid-off lawyer, who’s commuting in every day — to his Starbucks,” said Robert C. Chope, a professor of counseling at San Francisco State University and president of the employment division of the American Counseling Association. “He gets dressed up, meets with colleagues, networks; he calls it his Western White House. I have encouraged him to keep his routine.”

The fine art of keeping up appearances may seem shallow and deceitful, the very embodiment of denial. But many psychologists beg to differ.

To the extent that it sustains good habits and reflects personal pride, they say, this kind of play-acting can be an extremely effective social strategy, especially in uncertain times.(NYT)

When I resigned from a good position in a global company two years ago, people were dismayed. Others who do not even know what I was going through thought that I regretted it. Without any immediate plans, I would have easily fallen into the trap of despair and feeling of unworthiness. With nothing better to do but idle time on my hands being unproductive might have made me feel useless and wasteful. But I never reached that part.

Every single day in those "dark days" I went out. I immersed myself in a working environment. I tried to blend in. I hang out at Greenbelt in Coffee Bean, with my old laptop and turn the small corner in the coffee shop into my office. I surfed, I blogged, I researched and I answered my emails. By 5 in the afternoon, when most of the professionals are on their way home, I pack up, meet Mitch and go home as well. People might have thought that what I was doing was pointless. For them, I was wasting money and I was wasting time, but the point is I felt I was not wasting anything at all. In those days that I got to meet people in my "coffee shop office" and stayed there until I went home, made days quicker and time immaculately passed by. I enjoyed that particular phase in my life so much that it didn't dawn on me that I was doing something unusual unless it was being pointed out to me. If they would ask me why I always choose to join the commercial crowd when clearly I don't belong there anymore, I would always tell them because I still feel that I belong regardless if I have a job or not. I'm the last person to sulk at home, count cobwebs and let my restless mind consume me. Pride keeps me finding reasons to be busy and face unusual circumstances normally. I guess immersing myself in a the busiest capital, as if I'm still working, helped a lot. I'd rather let people see me weird than being regretful and sulking.

Before I didn't quite understand why I do the things that I do, but now I know. Pride doesn't promote anyone to make-believe that they're someone else; rather pride shields us from dragging ourselves to become that person we truly dread. There's a big reason why pride is created and should be in a way, valued. It shields us through the rough times and it fuels us to forge on. Now, pride isn't such a bad thing after all, in good dozes that is.

Good exit, Scott McIntyre

I'm not a fan of sob stories most especially if it's used out of context just to get high TV ratings. I really get irked when less fortunate people are suddenly put on a spotlight with full sad music background while the host urges them to spill every horrendous feeling imaginable while in front of audience who are watching, brazing themselves for an actual sobbing. I know shows have to get the attention of its viewers and a sorry story with a real-life drama could never be better. It puts the audience into a sympathetic and sometimes relieved mood that it's not them on the television. The next thing you know, the show's ratings shoots up and they are branded to be the show ideal for less fortunate to rant out their emotions. The audience have not learned anything they don't know. The person on TV just increased humiliation to themselves by sobbing in front of a million audience and the show is just a one big giant balloon of nationwide retreat that we don't really need.

But alas, some viewers are just totally affected by the sob stories and cry whereas I feel the opposite. I don't normally cry and but instead I get irritated. I'm irritated that I have to witness drama at it's finest without any hopes of fruitful resolutions. And I'm also irritated for being put in a horrible position of either sympathizing or feeling bad about the whole thing, and since I'm not exactly the "cheerio" type you could just imagine the burden I'd feel. We have our own sob stories to tell and keep to ourselves. We don't need to hear more people have a take on it.

With how I see things differently people automatically think that I don't have a heart and that I wallow on other people's misfortunes. Well, that's plainly stupid. I don't wallow on misfortunes and get miserable. Most importantly, I do have a heart but there's a fairly different way of squeezing it, that public sob stories and howling do not.

Contrary to popular belief and perception, I do get soft. But the deal is that I get more touched by people who fight, who don't cry and clearly smile underneath the obvious hurt and confusion they feel. I get touched by people who project they are optimistic against odds that made them less fortunate. It hits me the most when they provide inspiration when I least expect it and not desperation as a means of reaching out. I get emotional when I learn things that they shouldn't be teaching me in the first place. I go through the painful self-discovery and shame of what I've become compared to these people who have major hurdles, but still tend to come above the odds.

That's why when I found out this morning that American Idol contestant Scott McIntyre was voted out I knew I had to watch his last stint. After work, I went home, had dinner and watched the most recent episode. Aside from his recognizable musical talent and his infectious good humor, he is importantly an inspiration. Blind as he is, he was able to enter American Idol on his own, play instruments wonderfully, perform in a global stage without asking for sympathy only for him to compete fairly and simply be recognized as an artist.



Sure, he was able to capture the hearts of many because of his pure and kind spirit, not to mention, he is cute and very talented. But we also know that he deserved honesty and that is what he got. I do appreciate that the judges were able to do their jobs and give credit to what is due. I am not expecting the judges to save him, although I know that they want to. But if they did, we know deep in our hearts that it wouldn't be fair to the other contestants, to the viewers and most especially to him. It would defeat his mere reason for joining the competition.

When his name was finally announced as the most recent AI contestant to be voted off, I couldn't look. His face is so pure and very candid. There was no question that he was hurt, but I wouldn't have it any other way.. He was judged as an artist and he deserved no less than the truth. It wouldn't be fair to the other contestants especially to him if he was saved out of sympathy. That is why I was teary eyed when I watched him perform his last. Like all his performances, he gave it all without any regret. He deserved to be recognized for his talents and effort

Looking back there will always be a substantial reason for him to be there. It's not because of sympathy and it's not entirely because of his musical capabilities, but because he served as a constant inspiration that even guys like him with disadvantages that would leave anyone in despair, know how to fight fairly, gracefully, and in however way come out like a true winner.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Confess: Music Edition

I have a couple of things to confess (share):

1. TEAM ADAM

I'm not really a die hard fan of American Idol. I don't go out of my way to watch it, although I have considerable knowledge of what happens in the show. Mostly my knowledge comes from gossips and tidbits from officemates. It all changed until I liked this particular contestant with the name of: "fan"


Adam Lambert

I saw how he performed "I can't get no Satisfaction" in the earlier rounds. I was impressed. Then I saw him perform "Black and White." That was when I became a solid fan. I really don't care what happens to the other contestants. I don't even know their names to begin with. I only watch American Idol because of him.

Seriously, he can transform any song and make it into his own original piece. He can belt ballads, do an emo-rock number and still manages to tone down on selective songs. He is a creative and a bankable musician. Whenever he performs, he turns the place like it was his very own concert.

Yeah, it's understated that he sings well, even better than some lady singers I know. There is no question that his voice is amazing and he has a great ear. Not only that, he exudes charm and connects well with audience. Pure music. Pure performance. Ego is non-existent. He is very humble and did I even mention handsome?!

Rumors are flying out that he is gay. So what? He is androgynous up to this point and as long as he continues to perform great music, who cares about gender? He is a certified artist and I can't wait for him to release an album! I'm definitely buying!

2. GAGA over LADY GAGA

I seldom single out singers/artist. My song choices are eclectic and I'm not the type to focus my attention on someone. I'm the type who buys records because of the songs and not generally because of the artist. I've made mistakes in the past and now I know better. But who would have thought that I would like the music of Lady Gaga?



I've never liked an unusual looking artist before. I do not like artists who over-package themselves to the point that the packaging overwhelms the musician. A lot of pop artists tend to fall that dreaded path. Like Lady Gaga, sporting a blond hair/wig, performs without pants and exudes uniqueness and "funkiness" is certainly not my type. But surprisingly I like her. She has a voice and her songs are enticing. I don't mind hearing (or dancing) to some of her singles. She has her own brand of making songs, probably just like Adam Lambert. They do not lose their style amidst the expectations of people. They can focus on their kick-ass respective brands of music, but can do ballads on the side. They create good music without losing their identity in the process. Have you ever heard the ballad version of her pop dance hit "Pokerface?" If she ever decides to come here, I'm definitely watching her concert!


These two artists represent what music is all about. In spite of their appearance, aura and unique packaging, they bring what's the most essential thing as an artist: their versatility and immense artistry in music. They, for me, are the real deals.






http://riosoriano07.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/adam-lambert-01-2009-03-10.jpg
http://images.starpulse.com/Photos/Previews/Lady-Gaga-music-03.jpg

Monday, April 6, 2009

That's why They call in Circles

Working on a holiday is a certified bummer-experience. Therefore if you go through the heroic act of yuppies, be sure to reward yourself. Apparently for me, it came in the form of a succulent, posh and well-trusted Circles buffet in one of the top hotels in the country.

Mind you, I intentionally didn't have breakfast as a means of preparation, but nothing could prepare me for the succulent main courses of steaks, chicken, fish, beef and pork dishes ranging from Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Filipino, American and Italian cuisines. But before you go to the main course, you have to pass by the appetizers. Fresh sushi, sashimis, cheese, bread, cold cuts and err...salad. The dishes are predictable, but the freshness, presentation and the overall taste are satisfying.

I think it was on my fifth plate that I started to feel strange. I felt somehow paralyzed, weak and "stoned." I laughed at stupid things and while I was asking for the waiter to get me coffee, the water in my mouth actually spilled out. There were moments that I felt that I would eventually throw up or worse, pass out. My sister was on the look out for embarrassing moments as we cleaned our plates and stayed on until the buffet officially closes.






By the time we got out of the hotel, it was already merienda time (3 pm) and going to Glorietta was like a massive hurdle to both of us. On our way to meet our dad, we went inside stores pretending to look around only to be able to sit and relax. People that came across us might have thought we got drunk way too early.

I figured that's why they called it Circles. It would either make you represent the shape or make you loony at the same time. Too much shapes in buffets are temporarily "out" until further notice.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Legalize Marijuana? Might as well aim for the next galaxy

At the same time, there is an enormous potential windfall in the taxation of marijuana. It is estimated that pot is the largest cash crop in California, with annual revenues approaching $14 billion. A 10% pot tax would yield $1.4 billion in California alone. And that's probably a fraction of the revenues that would be available — and of the economic impact, with thousands of new jobs in agriculture, packaging, marketing and advertising. A veritable marijuana economic-stimulus package! (TIME.COM)

I am no expert in marijuana but it's been consumed since prehistory. It's a form of drug and naturally it's prohibited unless you want to be stoned to death or in modern terms, be imprisoned.

I've seen friends do it out of fun. And personally, comparing it to alcohol, I prefer the company of stoned out friends to drunk friends. Well, that must say a lot.

XSA is back, but XNK is...

My sister crashed XSA two months ago. XSA is her fuel-saver Honda City car, which everyone loves to drive especially at those times when gas reached 60PHP per litter. The other cars were voluntarily "impounded" due to its reputation to shamelessly guzzle gas.

Unfortunately this year, one February night after work, I went home with the sight of my sister's swollen lips with small splatters of blood on her face while my dad was in Skyway trying to settle one of the major car accidents in our family's history. Apparently, XSA's front half was smashed into the concrete of a toll booth plus incurring damages inflicted to another car, owned by my sister's school mate. After that, it was insurance hell from then on and we had to survive losing XSA for two months.

So we relied on my pseudo-car XNK to take over.

XNK is our Mazda Tribute that was a "supposed" gift from my father last 2005. XNK is a good drive, powerful and very comfortable only that it guzzles gas. With my meager earnings at the start of my career, I would only ge to use it during the weekends because I couldn't afford it. Since day one since I started working, I never asked any monetary support from my parents. Pride was more valuable to me that gas so I seldom used XNK. My mother, being a cheapskate, seldom uses it as well. It has just become an alternative. But in times when XSA was in rehab, we relied heavily on XNK and we became more "attached" to it.

Unlike XSA that has been into any minor-major accident imaginable (care of my sister) XNK was never in accident prone. The two major accidents of XNK caused damage to others and not to itself. I once hit a white dog, more of like a wolf, on a rainy day. As much as I wanted to help the dog, it ran and disappeared. I sincerely hope it's still alive though. Lastly, I accidentally reversed on a small car on my way to Dianne Tiongco's house in Christmas of 2007. With that, I wasn't able to deliver my gift because it quickly deflated my driving spirit. I should be happy in a way becuase I knew it could've been worse. XNK didn't have any major damages, but Kia's hood was slighly "smashed" as expected. I paid 1,500 bucks to the Kia owner and thank the heavens XNK is still in good shape and had no reasons to go to into rehab.

But in this year starting last February to the first week of April, XSA had to be repaired. At least my sister picked a perfect timing. As the gas prices went down, it was just the perfect time for us to use XNK. We've become more comfortable and accustomed to it that I myself miss driving it. We have already adjusted to temporarily losing XSA when surprisingly one April day it was parked with its glistening paint for a happy reunion.

But our happiness was slightly shattered when XNK had a major accident when I was being dropped on my way to work three days ago. I was not the one driving and the road-wrecker-annoying-driver of ours was at fault. He bumped into a truck and XNK's left eye was deformed. I was flaring mad. I knew it was bound to happen with his infamous driving skills. After two days, with the same driver, a motor bike hit its sides. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

My dad was frustrated as I was infuriated. I couldn't stop but caress XNK's deformed features. I was really mad until I calmed it down a notch. They knew that if I were to own my very own car, I would never ever let my sister nor that "brilliant" driver of ours to use itif it's the last thing I'd ever do.





But ho well, now that XSA is back, XNK will have the chance to slightly rest for a bit and enter rehab soon. I guess we're not really lucky with cars now.

Fast and the Furious 4

I took a leave last Friday from work to arrange my books. It was a very known agenda and people who knew me know better not to bother me in those crucial times. In my case, it's no laughing matter. Half of my day was spent dusting and making sure that all the books listed in my old-school log book are there. True enough, by lunch I was already tired and extremely hungry. I decided to take a break, have lunch with my family in Makati and buy additional plastic covers as well.

During the afternoon, I went to Landmark to scout more additional resort wear. I still need to fully unwind. I bought about three rolls of plastic covers and quickly went to Powerbooks Greenbelt to pick up the book I ordered for my Boracay-reading. The specific book that I ordered was We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. The first time I read this was at Fully Booked while waiting for Mitch. I read the first chapters and instantly fell in love with the humor and writing style. At that time, Mitch was already waiting for me outside as we were in a hurry to attend an event. I dropped the book and decided to come back for it the following weekend, but it was gone. They had to order stocks until I completely forgot about it. With the upcoming Boracay trip in sight, I need to bring a reliable book. Last year it was Haruki Murakami's Elephant Vanishes, now it's Joshua Ferris' We came to the End. I'm even more excited!

After buying the book, Mitch called me that the SV guys and girls are shopping in Glorietta. Soon, my dear friend Bags told me to catch up with them who were searching for swimsuits. I did go to Rustan's, had an opportunity to sit there and unwind as Mitch arrived.

The group decided to watch Fast and the Furious 4 that happens to be in its first weekend. Knowing Mitch, that is his kind of movie. I'm not much of a car fan myself. I wasn't planning to watch Fast and the Furious 4, but at that time I couldn't care less. I figured I liked the first movie enough anyways. I soon found out that this fourth installment would bring back the original cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster. Even so, I didn't nurse high expectations from it. Besides, it's the fourth installment. What other things do they have to offer to its viewers? I'm sure plot is not a major consideration here, but this movie will be all about action scenes and orgasmic car close ups for car enthusiasts.

The theater was jampacked to say the least. Everyone is on a Fast and the Furious hype. After the brilliant trailers, the movie's first scene already glued us on the "oil-highjack robbery" initiated by Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz played by the on-screen couple Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. I say, what an intro! It posed great promises as the car chase scene and stunts were impressive. But of course it had to be over the top somehow with the car screeching, fire, air suspension and the twist and turns. The very muscular, appealing and all-business Dominic Toretto is driving with his gigantic biceps with his Tomb Raider, sexy lady love Letty Ortiz.




After the murder of a main cast, enters the law enforcers represented by the all-American Boy Brian O Connor, played by Paul Walker, who shares a special bond with Dominic Toretto and his sister, the hot Mia, played by Jordana Brewster. It's Fast and the Furious all over again with the same major cast, minor depth of plot, impressive and stuffed car chase scenes and totally new bad guys.

If you liked Fast and the Furious 1 then you'll definitely like the improved action sequences in this movie. You have to take note of the car chase scenes in the desert. All the cars forming a V-line with the scene shot on bird's eye view. It was like reliving Lord of the Rings scene where Arwen is chased by the Nazgul. Only you would have to replace the screeching of the Nazguls with the screeching of tires and engines, and the horses are replaced with mod muscle cars.

The plot centers on revenge while taking out the real bad guys. Do not expect it to be thorough. The plot isn't really what you paid for anyways. What you want is to be taken on a ride and that is what the movie does. For those who want to venture out of the ordinary, it would be a quick escape. For those who want to appreciate cars more, watching this may be a great opportunity to do so. And for those who have short attention spans and who are car enthusiasts to begin with, prepare to see cars being blown up and screech to oblivion. This movie does what it does best, take you in for a ride.

PS: I like Vin Diesel even in the first movie. But in this movie, I am infatuated. Well done.
And also that night, I dreamt of him playing Panthro in the much anticipated movie The Thundercats. I really hope he does.