Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!


I celebrate with all of you the blessings of this season. There is hope, there is joy ,and there is love in the world because Jesus our Savior is born. I put my trust in His Holy name. All the tragedies of 2009 are nothing compared to His love, and He can heal all things and all peoples.

May we experience this hope, this joy, and this love, today and everyday. Merry Christmas to one and all!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Luigi Plays Jump!

I can only play the first 11 chords of this song. Luigi heard his dad playing it and learned it on his own. He was asked to perform during the Christmas program of his school, Centro Montessori.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuloy na Tuloy pa rin ang Pasko

I watched the Philippine Madrigal Singers at the Philamlife Lobby for Christmas Treats, a one-hour concert for the benefit of streetkids. I think the message of this song is very apt for Filipinos.

Tuloy na Tuloy pa rin ang Pasko

Apo Hiking Society


O bakit kaya tuwing Pasko ay
dumarating na
ang bawa't isa'y para bang
namomroblema
hindi mo alam ang regalong ibibigay
ngayong kay hirap na nitong ating buhay

Meron pa kayang caroling at noche buena
kung tayo naman ay kapos at wala nang pera
nakakahiya kung muling pagtaguan mo
ang 'yong mga inaanak sa araw ng Pasko.

[refrain]
♫♬♩♪
Ngunit kahit na anong mangyari
ang pag-ibig sana'y maghari
sapat nang si Hesus ang kasama mo
tuloy na tuloy pa rin ang Pasko

Mabuti pa nga ang Pasko noong isang taon
sa ating hapag mayroong keso de bola't hamon
baka sa gipit, Happy New Year mapo-postpone
at ang hamon ay mauuwi sa bagoong

[refrain]
Ngunit kahit na anong mangyari
ang pag-ibig sana'y maghari
sapat nang si Hesus ang kasama mo
tuloy na tuloy pa rin ang Pasko

(Instrumental)

♫♬♩♪

[refrain]
Ngunit kahit na anong mangyari
ang pag-ibig sana'y maghari
sapat nang si Hesus ang kasama mo
tuloy na tuloy parin ang pasko

[coda]
Tuloy na tuloy pa rin (Tuloy na tuloy pa rin)
tuloy na tuloy pa rin (Tuloy na tuloy pa rin)
tuloy na tuloy pa rin ang Pasko
tuloy na tuloy pa rin ang Pasko ♫♬♩♪


video

Monday, December 7, 2009

Not in Vain

I couldn't have said it better.




If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

-- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Heart


I know there are better things to do on a Sunday, on a Sunday morning, on the first Sunday on Advent at that. I will get to those in a while.

For now, I want to share something that people with a lot of time on their hands have done.

First, the flowchart. Study it closely. Prepared by this blogger.


And now, the literal version of the video. I'm rehearsing for the upcoming Christmas parties. Wonder if I'll get 100 if I use these lyrics. Haha.

Monday, November 23, 2009

For All the Lives You Lead

An advertisement for a cellular phone struck me when I saw it because of its claims of superior multitasking capabilities. As an eternally restless kid, I thrive on carrying multiple roles that require results in rapid succession.

One time, I was eerily reminded of the ad. It happened on a Saturday morning, which was not my sharpest time of the day and of the week. I had to attend a seminar at the law school, and I was specifically told to wear business attire as my picture will be taken for the Faculty ID card. So I took out my favorite power suit, blow-dried my hair, and carefully applied makeup.

I always store workout clothes in the car just in case Nike the goddess of fitness decides to descend upon me and motivate me to do some rounds in UP campus. Workout clothes, Skechers walking shoes, check. Check.

I was going to meet my friends at Mr. Jones after the seminar so I packed casual weekend clothes as well. I was going on my first round of Christmas bazaars so I packed my updated 2009 Gift List too.

I also keep a spare pair of flip-flops in the car for floods, pedicures, and other eventualities.

I zoomed from Quezon City to Makati and miraculously made it on time. When I got to the Lyceum parking area, I stopped the car, and as had been my practice since ruining two perfect leather shoes early this year due to driving, reached for my black pumps to replace my Crocs. To my shock, my shoe bag was not where it was supposed to be. It was inside the bag containing my Saturday shopping clothes. Both bags were, unbelievably left in my bedroom.

In my haste and confusion, I arrived in business attire from head to… above the foot. I pictured myself entering the august halls of the LPU library, with my colleagues admiring my corporate appropriateness, eyeing me from head to… Crocs! I panicked. I contacted all my friends in the general Makati area, and at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, I knew I must have deprived some of their beauty sleep. I needed office shoes that would fit my feet and my outfit, and I repeatedly banged my head (lightly) on the car window for my stupidity. All the Crocs, Skechers, and Havaianas in the world could not fill my need at the moment.

Finally one of my BFFs woke up and generously offered to lend me a shirt (for later) and the requisite shoes. Thank God she’s almost my size. I would have worn a size 7.0 if that was the only pair available. I had to drive to Taguig to fetch the loaned goods, however, and thus missed the first part of the seminar. My priorities showed, but shoes complete the outfit!

Later, I credited this confusion to my desire to lead many lives. I had two jobs and three phones, two home computers and an office computer, multiple email addresses and blogs, a virtual life and a real life. I realized that I had to pull myself together and be consistent, since perfection was obviously unattainable.

A high – profile lawyer told me a couple of days later that she left her heels at home and was grateful she had left her weekend shopping shoes in the car, and that they happened to be black. The shoes went well with her suit and I complimented her for it. I did not tell her of my similar, in fact worse, experience. But I had to smile that I was not alone in making that mistake. The only problem is: she’s about thirty (30) years older than me.

I therefore conclude that this multitasking thing is speeding up my aging process. I had better get grounded and organized. Soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Does Your Teacher Teach?

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” - William Arthur Ward

I start teaching on Monday.

There is a feeling of gratitude for I take this as a wonderful opportunity to share something of value to the next generation of lawyers. But there is also some trepidation. What if they need more than I can give?

I decide to put these fears at the back of my head, and concentrate on the task at hand. I will give my best, and leave the rest to God. Yes, I admit, that I am a bit excited to formally and finally be a teacher. Like my parents before me. My aunts. My siblings. My very own teachers.

The subject assigned to me is so benign, but my students are in for a surprise. I will make them work hard for their grade, in the hope that they will become better legal researchers and lawyers in the future.

So watch out for Ella's Classroom Experiences. They are bound to be anything but boring. :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Away Message

I know. I know. I haven't blogged in a while. It's not that there's nothing to write. I just haven't got the right mood for it these days. Feel free to browse the archives here and in my older blog.

Blogger's brain is elsewhere. Let's hope it rejoins this body soon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blind-Sided

There are times when you are in the mood for a fight. As long as it's a good fight. Like a car accident, for example, with an irresponsible bus driver and a drunk bus operator as the objects of your wrath. You sit in the rain, wait for your adversaries, argue with all your might, and get what you want. You then go home exhausted but fulfilled, because your concept of justice had prevailed. You fought for your rights, and you won.

Then there are times when you are preoccupied with thoughts of saving the world, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and doing your job when BAM! Your car gets hit and the other driver starts blaming you and takes advantage of your confusion. You are led to believe that it was just a scratch, that no harm was done, and that since both of you were at fault - something you could have easily disproved had you been so inclined - you would be better off leaving the scene of collision to pay for your own injuries.

You then go home to find out that there were a couple of dents, not just an ugly scrape. Your father starts asking questions but you are not prepared to say that you had met another road accident just as you still suffered from the trauma of the previous one. You sit in silence and ignore the dents and the scratches and seethe inside.

Life happens. You can take the car to the shop quarterly and try to be the best defensive driver but there will be times when you will be a victim of other people's stupidity.

You can plan your day, your week, your month, and your year down to the details of your wardrobe and accessories, but you will never be prepared for all eventualities. There is no insurance that covers everything.

You can be the best friend any person could have, treat people with respect, conduct yourself with honesty and integrity, yet BAM! Life can and will still surprise you. You can fight each battle and lose all your blood, or you can just walk away with your dents, scratches, and tears, and pay for the consequences of others' actions. And you will keep your head held high. Others who cheat and hurt, deliberately or carelessly, will get what they deserve in time.

C'est la vie.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

i carry your heart with me

This wowed me. Why reinvent the wheel?


I carry your heart with me
e.e. cummings


I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
my heart) I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
I fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet ) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Resilient Filipino



(Please press PLAY and read while video loads)

I have been trained to be strong in times of distress and calamity, to focus on what I can do rather than on my feelings or reactions to the situations around me. Well, I have been trying to be strong since Saturday, but I can't hold back my tears anymore.

I weep because of the tragedy brought about by the typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines, the increasing number of confirmed deaths, the stories I hear from the traumatized survivors who have barely escaped from the flood, and the overwhelming destruction to real and personal property. It happened to people close to me. As one TV announcer said, every Filipino was either directly hit by the flood or knew someone who suffered from it.

Yesterday, I wept during my prayer time, asking God who among our leaders failed us. I badly wanted anybody who had been negligent in any way in their duties however small, or who had pocketed public funds meant for the upgrading of facilities that could have saved more lives and property, to be held responsible and to be penalized. I cried, but I knew that anger would not solve the mounting problems being highlighted by this event - ranging from erosion to garbage disposal to disaster preparedness.

Today, I wept because of the goodness of the Filipino, and our resilience. We are no strangers to disaster, as I have personally witnessed how we have stood up after every storm. I have survived the flooding of 1988 (we slept in our school), the earthquake of 1990 (we held classes in makeshift classrooms after our school building was condemned), and the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 (the roof of our house in Olongapo fell because of the ashfall). Mt. Pinatubo, in particular, led to something beautiful, for I heard that it had become a must-see natural resort, and I plan to visit it one day.

What triggered my emotions tonight was this information I got from an FB friend, who also reposted it from someone else:

Caught on TV- Man rescued in a rubberboat asked, "28 na ba ngayon?" Cameraman: "Opo, 28." Man somberly replied, "Birthday ko na pala." Rescuers who were paddling hard turned to him in surprise before slowly singing, "Ha...ppy.. birth..day... to you..." Even in the midst of devastation the Filipino spirit never ceases to acknowledge and celebrate the gift of life.

I wept for our people who, in the midst of tragedy, could still break into smile and wave when they saw TV cameras; who, while watching floodwaters rising last Saturday, danced and jumped in the rain; who, after losing everything to the flood, still could joke that their TV had become an aquarium; who, while waiting for their rescuers atop their roof, could still eat litson manok and count themselves blessed as others had nothing to eat for days; and the stories continue.

I wept because we had become so used to disaster and tragedy that we simply find comfort in humor, in food, and in music; instead of wanting more, or demanding what was due to us.

On the news and all over the Internet, there were many stories of real-life heroes: those who lost their lives after saving many other lives; those who gave out of their bounty; and those who gave out of their need. So much love was being poured; and it felt like one big family effort to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick, and bury the dead.

Of course, there were evil spirits as well that had triggered text scammers to pretend to be Ondoy victims, looters to take advantage of the lowered defenses of people, and campaign managers to discredit and doubt the generosity of their political opponents by spreading ugly rumors through every channel possible. These untimely, uncalled-for, and unbelievable actions should be flushed out together with the floodwaters. I choose to believe that even while there are still some who do not listen to their conscience and continue polluting and abusing the environment, and renege on their duties as public servants by considering their own welfare above those of the people whom they serve, that there still many more who respond to the call to give whatever they could to a people in need, once more.

There was news of that judge on jetski in Palmera IV, Quezon City, who rescued many neighbors and led people in prayer. Then there was the highly-applauded young man who saved several people and animals, but who died while in action. We heard about that actor who helped and refused to be recognized for his efforts. And there was a report about that famous TV personality/singer who made sandwiches and distributed them herself.

Even those seemingly in need also gave out of the generosity of their hearts, and because of their deep gratitude at being saved, like that poor government employee who showed up to help others, even if he himself suffered the wrath of Ondoy's flood, and that child who gave up his toys and wanted to make sure that the children in the evacuation centers got them.

There is still much to be learned, seen, and written because of this ongoing tragedy and triumph of the Filipino. The job of picking up the pieces and starting over is more difficult given the financial, emotional, and psychological issues that surround a disaster of this magnitude, but one thing is certain: we can weather this storm. We have been through a lot, and we have the means and the tenacity to survive this one.

My prayer though is for every Filipino to wake up one day to terrific good news, whatever that may be; to know how it is to thrive instead of just survive; and to personally see for themselves the fulfillment of the promise as symbolized by the rainbow after the rain.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Shameless Plug for Jollibee :)

I passed by Jollibee before going home to claim some freebies courtesy of my BPI Credit Card (ayan may free advertisement pa ng aking paboritong fastfood at paboritong bangko, Proudly Pinoy). I meant to eat something on the way home as I had anticipated that the rains would cause streets to be congested all the way to QC. I was right.

I was snacking on the regular fries while waiting for a taxi outside Robinsons Place Manila, my newest hangout due to its proximity to my office, when a man, who must have grown old begging, held out his palm to me. I stopped chewing mid-fry and handed him the packet of fries that still had a good amount of potato left. The man eyed my Jollibee bag and said, "Tinapay!" (Bread!). I shook my head and said, "Para po sa anak ko ito" (This is for my child).

I didn't know what came over me. I didn't have any children. What I had was pasalubong for my parents and my balikbayan aunt, and I guess I was looking for gratitude in the man's eyes. I didn't see any. Then he said, "Barya na lang" (Give me coins then). The lady standing on the taxi lane before me interrupted and said, "Manong, binigyan ka na nga ng pagkain eh" (Brother, she already gave you food). The man walked away, sad.

I was saddened by that incident, without knowing that I would later on give the Double Yum with TLC in my bag to someone else: the cab driver.

The Taxi Lane was not moving, and irate shoppers were picking on the mall security guard for allowing people who did not fall in line to get the cabs that refused to stop in front of the designated space. I already had enough bad experiences with cabbies to know that I might have to wait for an hour in that kind of situation. So I did what I had to do. I called my regular cab company, Reno, the garage of which was just five minutes away from my house. They never refused passengers who wanted to get to Don Antonio, as that was their home base as well. I was at ease with their drivers, since they knew that I knew where they worked and could thus report any undesirable behavior.

Anyway.

I waited for ten minutes in front of the Padre Faura exit of the mall, away from the taxi lane so as to avoid having to "fight" for my cab, and when I saw the plate number I was given on the phone, I hailed the cab, and the driver saw me. It was a rainy night and the end of a very long work week. Before I could get in, a man (in black) also hailed the cabbie. I saw the driver motion with his left hand that he was answering a client's call and was not available. As I was taking my seat, I heard a loud thud and immediately saw another man (in white), apparently the companion of the one who hailed the taxi after I did, violently hit the hood of the taxi with his bare hands.

Man-in-white shouted to the driver, "Pulis ako!", and proceeded to hurl expletives at the driver. I gathered that he thought the driver was just being picky, so I attempted to talk to him and explained that I called the taxi company and he was just fetching me as scheduled. Man-in-white refused to even acknowledge my existence. He looked drunk. He then twisted the radio antenna of the car, and the driver protested. They had a heated argument, and man-in-black intervened. He closed the door of the cab, but man-in-white opened it again, all the time shouting expletives at the driver, who was regally defending himself.

Eventually we were out of danger. Or so I thought. The driver could not get over what happened, and made a U-turn to drive directly in front of the men-in-uniform, but a mall security guard stopped him, thinking his passenger (who was me) was alighting, and asked if he could let the "man from Immigration" ride the cab. The driver asked the guard for the man-in-white's name, but at this time said man already flashed the dirty finger to the driver, and they exchanged another round of obscene four-letter words.

Now, I had had a rough week. Month. Year. I was in a car accident last week. The day after, my vertigo struck as the cab driver wound his merciless way around the streets of Manila. Worse, I could not contribute much towards the hosting of my aunt from the States as I got sick with the flu over the weekend. My work was stressful enough for ten people, and I had all the stress-related symptoms ever invented. I was just diagnosed yesterday as having Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) or being in the pre-diabetic stage, and was given medication, and was studying a new diet and exercise plan more suited to my situation. Two weeks ago, I kept a close friend of mine company after her car accident. I had yet to see my first government paycheck for this position. The actual list of whines is much longer. You get the point.

My natural reaction would have been to panic at the scene played in front of me. But I could not afford to panic. I tried to calm the driver down and to dissuade him from courting disaster. He kept saying he could get any policeman dismissed from the service, as he had done so in the past, when his rights were similarly trampled upon. This man, he said, was not even a real policeman! He was not afraid! His taxi company would defend him! He had a witness: me! He had a defender: Tulfo!

I had to agree with him that he did nothing wrong and to utter other words of assurance that he was victimized by a government employee who was on a power trip. I then reminded him to flag down his meter because he had completely forgotten it, so engrossed was he on thoughts of revenge. We had a very long discussion as traffic was bad (usual Friday rainy night stuff), and to cheer him up, I offered him a Jollibee yumburger.

He unwrapped the juicy burger and quickly bit into it while he was driving. He said that he didn't realize that the incident had left him hungry. At last, I heaved a sigh of relief. It was only then that I ate my favorite Jollibee hotdog, which I had been wanting to sink my teeth into ever since leaving the mall.

It was a scene straight out of a Jollibee commercial. Comfort food. Pampalamig ng ulo. Pag may karapatan, ipaglaban mo. Mag-Jollibee muna tayo. (Sorry, there simply is no appropriate translation for that.)

I got home safely and paid the driver the usual fare, even though the taxi meter showed a much lower amount, since our drive from Faura to Quiapo was not registered. I still had a Jolly hotdog and a Cheesy Bacon Mushroom to share with my family. I wasn't able to tell them about my eventful night because they were engrossed with the last episode of Tayong Dalawa. Yes, this entry is so Pinoy!

Tomorrow, or sometime this weekend, I will write about two office outfit disasters that eventually turned into blessings. Safety pins and shawls are involved. ;)

By the way, I am not getting paid for this by Jollibee. But if the people behind it chance upon this blog, a two-piece Chickenjoy meal will do. For me. For cabbie (I can get his name from the company). For man-in-black. Even for man-in-white (Cabbie is going to research his identity). Might change his ways, who knows.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shaken, But Not Stirred

Since I can't sleep anyway, I might as well write.

I got hit by a bus. The car I was driving, I mean. I'm fine, and the car will be fine after repair, but it was another harrowing experience.

Is it just me, or have bus drivers, especially those plying the Fairview-Manila route, worsened in their blatant ignorance of all traffic rules and regulations? I must have been thinking of them too much and getting affected by their snake-like driving from Commonwealth to Taft Ave. that one night, I just found my car being slowly hit by a bus.

It was a rainy night, and rush hour traffic was moving slowly. I knew I was sticking to my lane, however narrow it was due to the inexistent lane division on that part of Quezon Ave., when all of a sudden I felt the collision, and to my utter horror, the bus driver did not stop. It only meant that he did not notice that he was already about to run over an entire car. He was oblivious to my car's blaring horn. He only stopped the bus when he heard a loud, scraping sound, and I don't know, maybe his passengers who had better eyesight and awareness of their surroundings noticed what he was doing.

I was all alone, and no matter my 10 years of practice, I still could not compose a single lawyer-like sentence to defend my rights. The driver, his conductor, and ten million other uzi (Pinoy term for people who like to ogle during the oddest and most inappropriate times, like accidents) proceeded to my side of the car. Driver insisted that it was my fault, because, if he had been the one at fault, I would have suffered greater injury. Then he asked me to move my car because his passengers were being inconvenienced. I felt my blood rising.

I should have thanked him for doing a Chavit! (Chavit Singson is the notorious "state witness" who told on his ex-friend Erap, thus starting his impeachment case, and who recently told the media that his lover and her new bf were lucky that he only hurt them and did not have them killed, after he caught them in the act of making love). Oh, thank you bus driver, that I only suffered that injury!

I told him instead that it the vehicles should not be moved until the police officer had had the chance to inspect the scene and make a sketch of the collision. Well, maybe in not that clear a manner, for I was in distress and close to tears. I willed myself not to cry in anger and frustration. I had to think.

It was hard to think. I could not focus. It was dark, it was raining, and I had been in that situation before, but for some reason - tiredness, maybe, or panic - I could not think straight. After a couple of minutes of quick prayer, I told myself that I had to pull myself together. I called up my family and friends to ask for help. I was so helpless and alone and I needed a lawyer, a policeman, a family member, and a friend.

I got what I wanted. They all came at the same time. The traffic police came first, and he was very efficient. I trusted him on instinct, and he was nice to me. I don't think it had anything to do with where I worked. He must have seen that it was the bus driver's fault and I was the victim, for he walked me through the entire ordeal and made me feel safe, that everything was going to be alright.

My brother was in a meeting, but he sent my sister-in-law, who immediately took photos and assured me with her presence. I wanted to cry when I saw her, but stopped myself again. She accompanied me to the police station, and only left when my friend, the lawyer, arrived.

My lawyer was no stranger to car accidents, having herself been in one last week, where I played the role of lawyer. She was the calm one while I tried to control my anger, and came up with a wise strategy that solved my problem for the night. She advised that we aim for a cash settlement outright. The policemen were very, very helpful. They did their job well without a single centavo from any of the parties. There is hope for this country. Goodness still exists underneath the rough exterior of people.

After a long, restless wait, the bus company operator arrived and the dreaded negotiation began. I tried to recall everything I had learned about those situations, but no concept or idea came to mind. That was what TSP was there for. She assisted me when I began arguing with the obviously drunk operator. The policemen let us come up with an agreement before they came in. They too were surprised that the owner/operator paid in cold cash, although his hands were shaking while he was counting the money.

This experience woke me up to many things, but one thing I know, is that when trials hit one after another, instead of complaining, I should be grateful, that God provides the means to triumph over them one by one. Worst things could have happened, my parents said when I related the story. I could have been hurt. My nephew asked his mom to tell me that he was glad that I was not hurt and that he loved me. I had wonderful friends who were praying for me and who offered help even though they could not be physically present.

Ironically, it's the bus operator's statement that summarized the experience. "Nobody is perfect on the road," he said. That's right. I realized that if accidents happen, as they sometimes do, there are much more things to be grateful for. As I told a friend when he asked me how I was after the accident, "I'm shaken, but not stirred." It was a bad thing to happen, but good things came out of it.

I close with the psalm for today that I read this morning before going to work:

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart in the company and assembly of the just. Great are the works of the LORD, exquisite in all their delights. (Ps. 111, 1-2)

For what can I say? He answered all my prayers tonight. I will sleep with that comforting thought. I will bring the car to the talyer this weekend. No driving for me for a few days.

Will also pray if it's time to move.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Unplanned Three-Day Weekend

It was announced only last Friday that Monday, September 7, would be a holiday in honor of the departed head of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). As such, I had made no plans to drive out of town, even though I had been wanting to go to either Subic or Tagaytay for a brief break from the city life.

Due to a prolonged wait for my initial salary (I work for the government; this is normal), I had been avoiding unnecessary expenses so even short-term plans were out of the question. Add to that my proximity to the central temple of the INC, where all the traffic was, and I was trapped for three days within my corner of the world.

Coming from an exhausting week, for just driving to and from work was a major event for me, and I had failed to walk around UP campus due to heavy rains, I had a slow Saturday. I woke up at 7 a.m. but was back in bed immediately after, and was awakened at 2 p.m. by my grumbling stomach. I had wanted to indulge in one of my favorite chores - doing the laundry - but typhoon Labuyo had prevented me from doing so. So I looked around my room for things to clean. I started with my shoes, then moved to my shoe rack, which was made of canvas and thus needed hand-washing; then took out all my makeup sponges and brushes. Unsatisfied, I went to my mother's dresser and cleaned all her makeup brushes as well. Whenever I use soap and water to clean something, I feel cleaner inside. This may be an obsessive-compulsive disorder developing. Who knows.

I stared at the work I brought home and said to myself that I needed a break from all that. So out came the DVDs I borrowed from a friend. I went on a movie marathon in my room. This was followed by my FRIENDS boxed set, which really had me laughing until late into the night. All by myself. My real-life friends were texting about several things - a choir practice, a spa visit, a walk (in the rain?), but anything that was going to be held to the right of Commonwealth Ave., I said No to. No way was I driving through the sea of cars and people.

Sunday was my duty day as Lector, so I did that, followed by other duties in the parish. I had lunch with my parents and got invited to a choir member's birthday celebration, to the left of Commonwealth. I slept again all afternoon and then went to the party. I sang videoke and had a score of 2.0. Out of a possible 100. That was a broken machine, everyone could tell. My highest score was 77. Highest score before I left was 94. Suffice to say that I went home frustrated.

Monday, I worked slowly, as my mind was still at rest. I finally did some laundry, although the sun still had not come out. I watched more Friends episodes. I repaired some clothes whose buttons were either missing or loosened. I tried to read a book but both books in my current reading list were heavyweights, and I had to put them down for they were causing me to get depressed too much.

I tried a little writing but my uncooperative mind refused to budge. Then I attended another birthday party, had some wine and coffee, and stimulating conversation. Then it was time to go home. And three days had passed.

Tomorrow is the start of another work week. I hope to be productive, and to have less rough roads than last week.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Voter's Voice

These are very interesting times. The icon of Philippine democracy has died, but in her passing a country of passionate people has awakened.

Perhaps it is pre-election year, that is why everything is heightened. Politicians are everywhere, adding color to every major religious gathering in the country - from the blessing of the humongous El Shaddai building, to the Central Temple of the INC where the remains of their leader lie in state currently, to historic restaurants where shifts in the tectonic plates of political ambition have taken shape repeatedly.

I am a voter, and my vote is up for grabs to the best bidder. I will not accept money or any promise of position or power for my vote; instead, I will give my vote to he or she who will stand to fulfill everything that is taught the children in school.

That is, if they still teach children about honesty being the best policy (and not just a standard slumbook or Facebook answer to "what is your motto?"); if they still teach in Admin Law that "a public office is a public trust"; if they still hammer to history students the details of how a peaceful revolution that a united Filipino people put up won against a 20-year dictatorship (I am told by young friends that their knowledge of the EDSA revolution is vague and blurred); and how our parents promised that they will never let anyone squander our riches and curtail our freedom again.

So much has happened since my student days. I grew up and then learned to grow deaf to the nonstop exposés in the Senate that only seemed to indicate that in lieu of the crony-concentrated corruption during the Marcos era, people power only opened the floodgates of the national treasury to greed that permeated every level of government.

I stopped voting at some point. I forget when. I stopped caring. All politicians started to look alike to me. I decided to look away from the headlines and refrain from taking part in the battles waged there. I paid my taxes, worked in government, served in church, but I left it to others more inclined to fight head-on. I went to Edsa twice to topple undesirable presidents. After a while it became a futile exercise, a game of jumping from the frying pan into the fire, and I refused to be used anymore.

There are others like me, who pray for a better tomorrow for our country but feel they are so ordinary and actually have also become too jaded to really believe in genuine and lasting change.

But Cory died, and while mourning for her, my tears, and probably those from those who belong to the undecided, apathetic sector like me, awoke the hope that has been buried in me for a leadership that shows quiet dignity, simple bravery, and humble integrity.

Will history be kinder to us Filipinos now that we are hoping again, opening our hearts again, wearing yellow again? I do not know much about Noynoy Aquino, at least not to the extent that I would normally vote for him to the highest position of the land. BUT. I cannot deny that there seems to be divine interference in the turn of events. Ambitious people who have been jockeying, lobbying, and parading years into the elections were faced with true people power, and heard once more the voice of a people who have long suffered repeatedly under the abusive hands of a succession of disappointing leaders. Plans have to be radically changed now. Dreams have to be realigned.

The choice I want to make when I vote next year is a clear one - black or white, Ginebra or Tanduay, Spandau Ballet or Duran Duran - like in my younger days, KBL or UNIDO PDP Laban - red and blue, or yellow and green. All the other insignificant colors have to fade. All the other inferior choices have to give way.

It is my generation's time to shine. I have held back hope, and I have hidden my vote for so long. Next year, I want to confidently cast it. And I am praying really hard that the one whom I will vote for will not waste it.

I am a voter, and my vote is up "for sale" to the highest, mightiest, worthiest bidder.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Ideas That Have Not (Yet) Seen Print

Since my last post, I had wanted to write about:

  1. The Cory magic, and how I observed the week of mourning for her. I have some shots from the queue outside Manila Cathedral. Never found the time to write that piece.
  2. The beauty of the City of Manila and how I want to clean it up. (I even have a blog title: My Giant Feather-Duster).
  3. The presidentiables and the state of Philippine politics.
  4. The worsening traffic problem and the undisciplined drivers of Metro Manila.
  5. The things we learned in school that have yet to be applied in real life.
  6. The moves to change the name of my alma mater, Manila Science High School, to Cory Aquino Science High School (CASHS?). We love Cory, but we love our name too. I'm looking for a way to talk to Mayor Lim. If you have suggestions and connections, do let me know. Thanks.
My thoughts are too scattered at the moment. I wrote this list down so I won't forget my ideas. If I don't get to write them, ask me and I'll share my thoughts with you when we see each other. Over coffee. Preferably at some beautiful place like Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio, or Bag o' Beans in Tagaytay.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

First Day High

It took me a week to blog about this because these past few days have been among the busiest of my life. Yes, The Obiter Master got even busier, if that was even possible.

Anyway, the truth has to be told. Especially when the truth is this eventful.

As a student, I was big on the first day of school every year. My parents could not afford to buy five children new stuff all the time, but I made sure that my shoes were shined, my pencils were sharpened, my hair was tied, and that I was the picture of the perfect student, so I could make a good impression on my teachers and classmates, and to set the tone for the rest of the year.

That excitement had diminished through the years, especially when I started working. I had entered many workplaces with wrinkled clothes and dated hairstyles on my first day, so focused was I on the "work at hand", and finding all the effort required to meet my standard of perfection too exhausting.

I went back to my old ways for this job, as I got more comfortable under my own skin and at the prodding of good friends who remembered me when I was neater and more confident. As I needed to make it work in my new work, I slowly planned everything and psyched myself mentally, spiritually, and physically for the task at hand. That meant wearing crisp office attire, sporting a low-maintenance hairstyle, and putting my best foot forward.

I was not able to sleep the night before my first day at the Supreme Court. With too little sleep, I finally got up and brewed some coffee. I had my prayer time and wrote (using a pen) on my journal. I ate adobo and rice for breakfast, and braved the rain to drive from Commonwealth Ave. to Taft Ave.

Only it took me three hours to get to the office. It had rained all throughout the weekend before that, and traffic was bumper to bumper. I increasingly grew anxious during that long drive that could have taken me to Subic, and kept texting my officemates. I wanted to make a good impression on my first day, to be in by 8 a.m. with a smile on my perky face. Instead, mourners for Tita Cory clogged the roads leading to Manila, and I was late.

I parked at the nearby mall and steeled myself for the long walk to the office. I didn't realize that the guards would not allow me to exit through the mall. I was encouraged to take the ramp. The wind was blowing so hard by the time I got out of the parking lot, and my little umbrella, which I got free from Watson's, got turned inside out. My new shoes did not have enough friction for the slippery road. I missed my Crocs so badly that morning. A couple of workers sitting outside the parking lot commented, "Miss, sira ang payong mo (Miss, your umbrella is broken)," and I ignored the urge to retort, "Really, you think?!"

I got disoriented and believe it or not, could not find my way to Faura. I asked for directions and the people were not so helpful, as if Padre Faura, on which stood the Supreme Court, the Philippine General Hospital, and a whole lot of other famous landmarks, suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. Finally, I saw something that I thought I would never ride again - a pedicab! I hailed it and asked the driver (more like pedaler, if there is such a word) if he could take me to Faura. He said yes. Note how he lied.

A few minutes had passed, and I could not see clearly because of the plastic covering around the pedicab that shielded passengers from the rain. I had a sinking feeling that the pedaler did not know where he was going, for he kept pausing to look at street signs. Finally he stopped to ask for directions, and true enough, the man pointed to the opposite direction.

I complained and complained but the pedaler did not reply. I realized that he could not hear me through the rain and the wind and that ugly plastic rainproof shield all around me. I felt like The Girl in the Plastic Bubble.

I recognized Padre Faura and shouted out directions to the Court. I wanted to strangle the pedaler when I got off. It took him FIFTEEN minutes from Pedro Gil to Faura, on a pedicab. Can anyone beat that? I told him to memorize Faura as he was in the pedicab business. He just smiled and charged me Php30.00, the equivalent of my whole day's parking fee at the nearby Robinson's Mall.

I shook the rain from my clothes, hand-combed my hair, and entered the gate. I could not pause to admire the cobblestone steps, the imposing columns, and the life-sized statues of former SC Chief Justices. I was very late already. When I entered the elevator, I noticed something. My new linen blouse had an ugly stain on the right arm, and it would not go away despite my furious rubbing with alcogel. I must have gotten it while I staggered against the wind and walked close to the walls for protection.

So there I was on the morning of my first day, with disheveled hair, wet shoes, stained blouse, and pounding heart, the latest employee to enter the chamber to offer the Republic of the Philippines my personal best, which of course was always far less than perfect.

The rest of the day went better. My boss welcomed me with a smile and two thick folders to work on. I found lunch mates immediately. I went to work, got a migraine, and drove for another two and a half hours going home. I could barely move by the time I got home and fell asleep immediately when my head hit my pillow.

Sometimes, things do not go as planned. Tomorrow is another Monday, another first day, another exciting day. I have resolved to plan less. It's a new resolution. I plan to break it again tomorrow.

I cannot sleep again.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I Had Coffee with Cory


My generation can sing "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" from memory. We can boast that we were able to enter Malacanang to gawk at Imelda's shoe and perfume collection; that we joined the authentic People Power Revolution; that our parents voted for Ninoy Aquino's widow, Mrs. Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, during the 1986 snap Presidential elections; and that we attended mass at Sto. Domingo celebrated by Cardinal Sin just to get a glimpse of her privileged daughter, Kris Aquino. Probably the latter is not something to boast about, really.

My generation is in mourning today, for former President Cory Aquino, Tita Cory to all of us, has passed away.

After 20 years of Marcos dictatorship, Mrs. Aquino represented at the time all of our hopes and dreams as a people. She was the David pitted against Goliath, and willingly sacrificed her private life to become a revolutionary President, Time's Woman of the Year, the Mother of Philippine Democracy, and now, the Saint of People Power.

She was not perfect. She had a family to take care of, controversial properties and unsatisfied employees just like everyone else. She had a daughter who broke her heart several times, a product of recessive genes probably, for I wonder how a heroic father and a saintly mother could produce such a character. But this is not about Kris.

Mrs. Aquino united the Philippines and brought out the best in each of us. Her actual resume, which the Shoe Lady mistakenly summarized into one word, "housewife", awed everyone, me included. She studied French and Math in college, and was a brilliant student. She willingly sold some of her inherited properties to finance her husband Ninoy's campaigns. She was the widow everyone tried to emulate. From pate-making to flower-painting, her skills went beyond leading bloodless revolutions and impressing the U.S. Congress.

I was in grade school when the EDSA Revolution happened, the event that saw Hollywood stars using the "L" sign, that stood for "Laban" ("Fight!) rather than "Loser" during our time, and swathed the country in yellow. I watched her much-applauded (live, not canned) speech before the U.S. Congress, barely a few months into her presidency. Mrs. Aquino had a natural rapport with her audience. She knew what to emphasize to whatever crowd she was addressing, and her sincerity and wit shone through. She could inject humor even in the most ironic situations. I always applauded her speeches, even when she was already retired and just making her appearances to lead the country against her erring predecessors.

When I was a senior in high school, one of my batchmates appeared on a TV show with her, and she was impressed by him. She asked him where he went to school, and he said, Manila Science High School. Then she, President, Heroine, Mother, visited our little school! Oh, how we shined the floors and rehearsed our songs. It was our single most important high school memory, even eclipsing the J-S Prom. She went even further to invite all 318 of us, including our teachers, to Malacanang Palace, for lunch. We walked slowly on the carpeted floors, stared at the chandeliers, and marveled at the food. We even got a souvenir each - a yellow mug that simply said, "I Had Coffee with Cory". Most of us have kept that mug.

"Write to me", Tita Cory told our batch. "Even after my term ends, I want to hear from you, I want to know what you have become, and what you are doing for our country," she said, although not exactly in those words. So I did write to her, and asked one of my uncles, her Times Street neighbor, to give it to her. I told her that I had become a lawyer and that she had inspired me to love my country and to put others first above my personal comfort. She did not reply, but it was enough for me that I had written it.

What has the country become after those golden days of Philippine democracy? What has become of that batch from Manila Science High School? What has become of me, whose ideas of freedom, democracy, and service were shaped by the legacy left behind by former Sen. Ninoy Aquino and his widow, former Pres. Cory Aquino?

The years have not been all that kind to us. We Filipinos have kept on repeating EDSA, as if its formula could again transform us into the world's bastion of democracy. Our high school batch has gone our different ways (although this year, efforts to support our alma mater have materialized). And I, I have become more jaded as the years have gone by.

Just as in life she had inspired us to do our best, Mrs. Aquino in her death reminds us to safeguard our freedom, to speak the truth, to live in faith, and to love unconditionally.

What will happen to the Philippines after she's gone? I end this tribute with some words from "As Time Goes By", allegedly one of her favorite songs, which we performed in Malacanang Palace (I was part of the Senior Choir) during our historic Coffee with Cory:


It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.

Rest in peace, Tita Cory, President. Mother. Hero.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Smooth Talker


There and not there
In the space where I thought I had met you,
I have found a pebble.
All my love reduced to a pebble.
Unlike some people, I refuse to talk to a pebble.

Sometimes I see shadows moving,
hear voices whispering,
and think, My rescuers have come.
With tools and spectacles, they study the pebble,
which I insist is not mine, and they leave.

I have memories in chaos.
Words, songs, scenes, moments:
All mishandled; best forgotten.
I look for recognition, and ask
If you have left the key with me.

You made me see beyond this space and time,
Challenged me to reach,
Encouraged me to leap,
And left me in the air.
I should not be so surprised.

With teetering faith and questions upon questions,
I walk back and forth.
Your pebble is a smooth pendant I hang on my neck,
A rock weighing me down,
The universe outside of me.

I am at once a feeling being,
Exposed for the world to see,
And I am free.
What can a pebble do to me?
Nothing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My New Aura ;)

Restlessness got to me and I did what any girl would do under the circumstances I was in:  I got a new haircut.

Haircuts, for most men, are done regularly, with much the same results.  They go to the same barber and pay the same amount of money for the same cut and  give the same tip each and every trip.  It is a matter of routine; a habit instilled even while they were still in school.

For women, on the other hand, it is a totally different story.  We have regular neighborhood salons for the basic snip done every two months, if we're being good; or whenever our mood, schedule, or budget would allow it.  We have the "splurge salons" (see my review of Shunji Matsuo Hair Studio on my Multiply site here) where we go to pamper ourselves to get that movie-star gorgeous feeling afterwards.  And then we have the "stylists' salons" that we go to when we want something radical, new, fresh, and unique.

After a week of poring through books that left me dissatisfied; changing bed sheets that did not help with my sleepless nights; avoiding people and questions I did not want to face; I decided that I had to avoid officially going crazy, and did something about it.  I am satisfied with the results.  Happiness; for this week, this month, or even this year, is not even the goal.  Survival and satisfaction would do.

I got one of the senior stylists at Aura Salon (Katipunan Ave., QC - highly recommended by the Sikat na Girls) to give me a new 'do.  I complained about my once-straight, now wavy hair; the over-layering committed by my neighborhood haircutter; and my aversion to the daily blowdry that had left my hair brittle and dull.  He got to work.  Initially, he was just going to cut off two inches.  I looked in the mirror and decided I want more.  I described what I wanted.  A shape that would fit my face, neat ends all around, and the requisite low-maintenance style.  He nodded his head and cut some more, with precision that I admired.

He ended up cutting off six inches of hair.  After he was done, I felt as if six tons had been lifted off my head.  I thanked him, paid, gave my tip to him and to the shampoo-blowdry girl, and floated to my car.

I was happy until I realized it was ten minutes until three, my car was coded and had to be brought  home soon, and my mother was calling because my father was panicking (since I was still not home and the MMDA might catch me).  My parents forget that I'm a thirty-something lawyer.  All the time. 

I have to pack, finish some documents for my father, attend mass and Bible Study, and get beauty sleep for an early flight tomorrow.  I took forty-five minutes for a haircut just to be able to breathe.  I think it was worth it.

I'll have some pics taken in Singapore.  You be the judge.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just Say No

I'm like a two-year old with my new favorite word: No. 

I say "No" now even to good things from good people to make up for all the "No's" I should have said since I learned how to say "Yes".

It has surprised some people that I can say No. Yes, I can. I just chose not to before because I thought that was the right thing to do. In saying No now, I'm saying Yes to myself.

I am not talking about drugs, alcohol, or any of those heavy stuff that I have
and will always say No to. Well, alcohol probably to a certain extent, is okay. But this is not about the Seven Deadly Sins or anything like that. This is also not about work. Of course at work, as long as it's part of the penumbra of my job description, I should do it. I don't mind.

These No's I'm now saying refer to the mundane things that people take for granted. I'm now saying Yes to my heart, to my soul, to my conscience, and it means more time to think, 
to breathe, to rest, and to sleep.  

For the longest time I have been a people-pleaser, and it did not help that I had the stuff to pull it off. And it 
amazes me now that supposedly shy people can really be pushy when 
demanding me to do things. "You do it; you're good at it." I have come to hate those words.

But before, I thought it was my God-given duty to play the piano, to sing, to write, to speak, to listen, to organize, to entertain, to pay, to type, to call, to text, to lead, to 
understand, to give, to wait, etc. I also thought it was the most loving thing to do.

So I feel guilty when I say No. I really do. I feel bad. I berate myself. I wonder if I'm worth anything at all, just because I said No.

Lately I've noticed how other people say No without even explaining why, and how 
they get away with it. I want to be able to do that. It's been done to me countless times. "You do it Ella, because nobody else will."

That's not true. Nobody else will do it because I've been asked, expected, or required to do it. And I've always tried to give my best when I say Yes.

I will end by re-posting something that I uploaded to my Facebook account. The PostSecret entry says it all.



Friday, July 10, 2009

We only part to meet again.

From www.quotegarden.com:

Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends. ~Richard Bach


We only part to meet again. ~John Gay


Man's feelings are always purest and most glowing in the hour of meeting and of farewell. ~Jean Paul Richter


Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need to know of hell. ~Emily Dickinson, "Parting"


Why does it take a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye? ~Author Unknown


Gone - flitted away,
Taken the stars from the night and the sun
From the day!
Gone, and a cloud in my heart.
~Alfred Tennyson


Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. ~Charles M. Schulz


Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. ~Henry David Thoreau


How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie


Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I'll miss you
Until we meet again!
~Author Unknown


The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning. ~Ivy Baker Priest


Absence from whom we love is worse than death, and frustrates hope severer than despair. ~William Cowper


Excuse me, then! you know my heart;
But dearest friends, alas! must part.
~John Gay


To die and part is a less evil; but to part and live, there, there is the torment. ~George Lansdowne


May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand. ~Irish Blessing


Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you.
~Dale Evans


No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth. ~Robert Southey


Can miles truly separate you from friends.... If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there? ~Richard Bach


Be well, do good work, and keep in touch. ~Garrison Keillor


What shall I do with all the days and hours
That must be counted ere I see thy face?
How shall I charm the interval that lowers
Between this time and that sweet time of grace?
~Frances Anne Kemble


Not to understand a treasure's worth till time has stole away the slighted good, is cause of half the poverty we feel, and makes the world the wilderness it is. ~William Cowper


She went her unremembering way,
She went and left in me
The pang of all the partings gone,
And partings yet to be.
~Francis Thompson


Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~George Eliot


Love is missing someone whenever you're apart, but somehow feeling warm inside because you're close in heart. ~Kay Knudsen


The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected. ~Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook


You and I will meet again
When we're least expecting it
One day in some far off place
I will recognize your face
I won't say goodbye my friend
For you and I will meet again
~Tom Petty


Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again. ~William Shakespeare


In the hope to meet
Shortly again, and make our absence sweet.
~Ben Jonson


Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same. ~Flavia Weedn, Forever, © Flavia.com


So sweetly she bade me adieu,
I thought that she bade me return.
~William Shenstone


But fate ordains that dearest friends must part. ~Edward Young


Love reckons hours for months, and days for years; and every little absence is an age. ~John Dryden


Where is the good in goodbye? ~Meredith Willson, The Music Man


Distance of time and place generally cure what they seem to aggravate; and taking leave of our friends resembles taking leave of the world, of which it has been said, that it is not death, but dying, which is terrible. ~Henry Fielding


As the presence of those we love is as a double life, so absence, in its anxious longing and sense of vacancy, is as a foretaste of death. ~Anna Brownell Jameson


Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would I'd never leave. ~A.A. Milne


As contraries are known by contraries, so is the delight of presence best known by the torments of absence. ~Alcibiades


May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
~Irish Blessing


Good-byes breed a sort of distaste for whomever you say good-bye to; this hurts, you feel, this must not happen again. ~Elizabeth Bowen


May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!
~Irish Blessing


May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.
~Irish Blessing


Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire. ~Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld, translated from French


Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven. ~Tryon Edwards


Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. ~Kahlil Gibran


Farewell, my sister, fare thee well.
The elements be kind to thee, and make
Thy spirits all of comfort: fare thee well.
~William Shakespeare


A man never knows how to say goodbye; a woman never knows when to say it. ~Helen Rowland


The return makes one love the farewell. ~Alfred De Musset


You're searching...
For things that don't exist; I mean beginnings.
Ends and beginnings - there are no such things.
There are only middles.
~Robert Frost, Mountain Interval, "In the Home Stretch"


Fare thee well! and if for ever,
Still for ever, fare thee well.
~Lord Byron


May you have warm words on a cool evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door. ~Irish Toast


If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden. ~Attributed to Claudia Ghandi


Ye flowers that drop, forsaken by the spring,
Ye birds that, left by summer, cease to sing,
Ye trees that fade, when Autumn heats remove,
Say, is not absence death to those who love?
~Alexander Pope


The best things said come last. People will talk for hours saying nothing much and then linger at the door with words that come with a rush from the heart. ~Alan Alda


May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day.
May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.
May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that's always blue.
And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.
~Irish Blessing


That bitter word, which closed all earthly friendships and finished every feast of love farewell! ~Robert Pollok


One kind kiss before we part,
Drop a tear, and bid adieu;
Though we sever, my fond heart
Till we meet shall pant for you.
~Robert Dodsley


The joy of meeting pays the pangs of absence; else who could bear it? ~Nicholas Rowe


Adieu! I have too grieved a heart to take a tedious leave. ~William Shakespeare


A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.
~Irish Blessing


Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see,
My heart untravelled, fondly turns to thee;
Still to my brother turns, with ceaseless pain,
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain.
~Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller


If I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me? ~Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant, "Free Bird," One More From the Road, 1973, performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd


Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending. ~Lazurus Long


May brooks and trees and singing hills
Join in the chorus too,
And every gentle wind that blows
Send happiness to you.
~Irish Blessing


I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. ~Gilda Radner


Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart. ~Washington Irving


Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been -
A sound which makes us linger; - yet - farewell!
~Lord Byron


Goodbye, goodbye, I hate the word. Solitude has long since turned brown and withered, sitting bitter in my mouth and heavy in my veins. ~R.M. Grenon


Missing someone gets easier every day because even though it's one day further from the last time you saw each other, it's one day closer to the next time you will. ~Author Unknown


Farewell!
For in that word - that fatal word - howe'er
We promise - hope - believe - there breathes despair.
~Lord Byron


Let's not unman each other - part at once;
All farewells should be sudden, when forever,
Else they make an eternity of moments,
And clog the last sad sands of life with tears.
~Lord Byron


A goodbye isn't painful unless you're never going to say hello again. ~Author Unknown


A chord, stronger or weaker, is snapped asunder in every parting, and time's busy fingers are not practiced in re-splicing broken ties. Meet again you may; will it be in the same way? With the same sympathies? With the same sentiments? Will the souls, hurrying on in diverse paths, unite once more, as if the interval had been a dream? Rarely, rarely! ~Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton


Never part without loving words to think of during your absence. It may be that you will not meet again in this life. ~Jean Paul Richter


Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. ~Theodor Seuss Geisel, attributed

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July List

Wish and To Do List (for the days in-between):

1. Retreat
2. Spa - gift certificate: check!
3. Facial
4. Travel - Singapore: check!
5. Shopping money (notice the lack of check)
6. Finish course outline
7. Update myself on the course
8. Organize my songs on iTunes
9. Play music
10. Sleep
11. Organize old photos into albums
12. Update wardrobe for the Court
13. Submit all requirements
14. Take up gardening
15. Finally, buy that camera and that iPhone.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sheer Lack of Professional Care

My two-year old Nokia E65 began showing signs of old age, so I decided to take it to the Nokia Professional Care Center in Tomas Morato, QC, for some much-needed Phone TLC.

Over the years, my family and I have partonized this Care Center as it was nearest to our place and was definitely away from the madding mall crowd.

I went on a weekday, after work. There were about five people ahead of me. I was given a number and asked to register my contact information and specific phone concerns to a computer. "Wow, high-tech," I thought.

When my number was called, I went to one of the booths to talk to a customer service person. I assumed that she had all my phone complaints down pat, after all, I typed them all down and the computer screen was right in front of her. She asked me what I needed, and I assumed this was just SOP.

I told her that I needed to change my cellphone's cover. She inspected the phone and told me that it also had a "rough slide". She was not smiling, and I could sense that she wanted to get the session over and done with so she could proceed to the next customer. I had other questions about my office-issued Nokia phone. She abruptly said, "That part is out of stock, ma'am." I asked when it would be available. She shrugged and gave me a look that to me meant, "I don't know and I don't care." I told myself it was almost time for the shop to close and she was probably tired.

She made bullet-point notes on my Job Order form based on our conversation. I asked her to call me first to give me the quotation for any repairs needed. I also asked when my phone would be ready. She said to ask for the status the next day. I inquired if they had a service phone and she again stared at me as if I asked something out of the ordinary. She said the repair could take weeks. And again, the look that told me, "Live with it."

I tried calling the next day but both lines were busy. And the next. And the next. I waited for any message from them, but nothing came. Finally, after four days, I was able to get through. I gave the one who answered the phone my Job Order No., thinking that she would be able to answer my inquiries based on their high-tech computerized system.

I was made to wait for two, maybe three minutes, and I was tempted to put down the phone and get back to work. The girl finally returned to the line and informed me about the price quotation. I asked her if that covered the part I wanted replaced only, or if it included the repair for the "rough slide".

"Wait lang po, Ma'am, I will ask." More minutes passed. Upon her return, she said the price quoted covered everything, BUT she had to inform me that the parts they needed for the "rough slide" were not available. I asked when they would be available. I was already irritated. She was not sure how to respond and had to ask someone else for every question I had. What was the purpose of the computerized client registration and Job Order system again? I asked her to place the order for the parts immediately. I doubt now if she did.

I also specifically asked if I could have the phone back the next day, as it had my complete phonebook, and if they could just replace the function keys, which was the subject of my original complaint. I was not complaining about the "rough slide", really. She said I could pull out the phone and I could try calling other branches if they had the parts I needed.

When I got there to retrieve my phone a week later, as the shop was really out of the way, I was given a number and asked to register. I said, "I've already registered. Can't you just pull out my file?"

I asked that because in our office, we refrain from asking clients questions repeatedly, as all their information was already in our Client File, viewable by a few clicks of our computer mouse. This avoids wasting our clients' precious time.

I mean, come on, Nokia, people pay thousands of pesos for your phones. The least you could provide us is TRUE PROFESSIONAL CARE. Tell me what's so professional about this. Read below what else went on. I know I have friends in Nokia. Maybe the fault lies in this particular Care Center. But right now, where I am, it reflects on the brand.

I reluctantly re-registered on their (now low-tech) computer and handed my job Order to the guy who went inside, presumably to locate my phone. A customer service rep saw me lingering and asked what I needed. I said a guy already took my form and I was claiming my phone.

Without asking for my name, customer number, or Job order no., this girl (the one I spoke with last time, just my luck), asked me to sit down. She went inside for about five minutes, and returned with a phone and some forms. She was typing away when I noticed that the phone she had in her hand was NOT my phone. I told her so.

She asked, as if this happened all the time, "Ma'am, what is your name?" I tried to control my voice, as I felt my blood rising upon hearing this. I gave my name and asked her to get my phone.

She returned with the phone, which was in the same state as when I had left it two weeks ago. I asked her why they had not replaced the function keys. She gave me a bewildered look. I said, "I phoned and the girl who answered told me that you could replace it." It turned out, after verifying with her colleagues, that the girl who answered the phone did not bother to check that the only spare part available was already assigned to another customer.

The girl on the customer service desk returned, without smiling, without apologies, and informed me that I had to wait for the replacement part to be ordered. I wanted to ask, "From where? Finland?" but stopped myself. I bet they did not know when the part would be available either.

Instead I asked to have my phone back, told her that I was extremely dissatisfied with their service, that they had to get their act together, that they wasted my time, and that I was NEVER coming back to their service center.

As I was seething during the drive home, I wondered if they deliberately made cellphone repair inconvenient to force clients to buy a new phone. Well in my case they only succeeded in making me lose interest in their products. I was in the business of customer service for the past two years, and with the way the staff of Nokia Professional Care Center handled themselves during my past two visits, I doubted if they were professional, or if they even cared.

After this experience, it just became clearer: that after using that brand for more than a decade, I have had enough. My next phone will no longer be a Nokia.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dreams and Cockroaches

I took a power nap and had a dream about a bottle of cockroaches. I woke up not so refreshed and wondered what it could have meant, as I had not seen a cockroach recently.

I looked it up.

Cockroaches

Seeing and at times just thinking about cockroaches makes a person feel squeamish and repulsed. When dreaming about these dreaded insects, the unconscious mind may be hinting to the dreamer that he needs to reevaluate and reassess a major part of his life. There is never just one roach; thus, the areas of life that need cleansing and renewal may be deep and wide. The negativity or contamination that is represented by the roaches may affect a great deal of your life. Thus, this may be a call to clean your psychological, emotional, and spiritual self. (Also, examine your motives!) On a less dramatic note, cockroaches in our dreams may be associated with food and uncleanliness, so don't leave the dishes for tomorrow!



Source: Dream Lover Incorporated, http://www.dreamloverinc.com

There you go.

Aw, Shut Up.

I do not watch a lot of movies anymore. This is a quote from the script of one of my all-time favorites, Jerry Maguire.

JERRY

This used to be my specialty. I
was good in a living room. Send
me in there, I'll do it alone. And
now I just... I don't know... but
on what was supposed to be the
happiest night of my business
life, it wasn't complete, wasn't
nearly close to being in the same
vicinity as complete, because I
couldn't share it with you. I
couldn't hear your voice, or laugh
about it with you. I missed my
wife. We live in a cynical world,
and we work in a business of tough
competitors, so try not to laugh --

(directly)

I love you. You complete me.

DOROTHY
Aw, shut up. You had me at hello.

If only we could write out our life's lines and the people in our lives said the right words back.

No, there are no scripts in real life. Only mindless chatter.

If only we could say, Shut up. And look as gorgeous as Renee Zelwegger.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Things I Don't Get v. 2009

This is me being real.

Things I Don't Get v. 2009

  1. Why PAG-ASA predicted a super typhoon that is three hours late already, and why Storm Signal No. 2 was prematurely raised today, thus costing students another school day.  Not that they are complaining.  I just wish PAG-ASA would be more accurate and more consistent.
  2. Why MMDA or whoever is in charge assigns people to clean flyovers during rush hour.  I pass through Commonwealth Ave. everyday at about 8 a.m., and motorists have to slow down to avoid side-swiping the street sweepers and/or their big brooms.  Precious minutes are lost easily.  I can imagine people in a meeting somewhere, so used to doing things as they have been doing for decades.  Let's try to consider the safety of the workers, and the schedule of the commuters.  
  3. Why, for that matter, road repairs are not done off-rush hour so as to avoid delaying working people.  I've blogged about this before.  It irritates me no end to find that the cause of traffic jams is a group of workers painting the (Libis-Katipunan) underpass.  I don't care if it costs more to pay workers the night-shift differential.  Productivity is a greater value, and a stress-avoider (for people like me, most likely).
  4. Why little local politicians have the gall to splash their faces on all manner of banners and streamers.  Happy Father's Day from Mayor's Son-in-Law So and So.  Puhlllease.  Feed the hungry, get my vote.
  5. Why a lot of Pinoys ignore pedestrian overpasses and lanes, and choose to cross where they shouldn't, and have expressions of glee and excitement as they jaywalk.  Are they cats that they have nine lives?  Do they trust that all cars, buses, and jeeps will have proper brakes?  
  6. Why some drivers feel the need for speed at inappropriate times and places.  One morning, I saw a gasoline truck speeding at about 80 kph from the QC Elliptical Road going to Commonwealth, cutting across several lanes (swerving is more like it), and I caught a glimpse of the driver.  He looked thrilled to have all vehicles avoid his truck - the one that says FLAMMABLE - so early in the morning.  I wanted to revoke his license.  What was that man on that morning?!
  7. Why some radio DJs are given shows at all, when they have the capacity to churn out useless information, or worse, promote the wrong concepts to the youth.  I don't find their morning shows funny.  I believe in their freedom to express, and in my freedom to tune out.  I find myself saying often, "Stop talking.  Play music!"
  8. Why a nation of intelligent people still elects inept leaders.  I am not a social scientist, so I count on those who know how to teach the next generation how to use their heads.
There is more where that came from, but that's enough ranting for now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Arriving at the Next Step

What can I write now that I haven't already written during the past six years of this and my other blog's existence? I have been through trials and triumphs, challenges and victories, and all these things have been documented. But since God is good to me repeatedly, it is almost a disservice to Him not to speak of His goodness again and again.

Let me introduce my latest blessing by saying that each journey is different, and the way God has moved in my life cannot but affect others around me. Even if my decisions have made some people sad, it will only be for the short-term, and in the future they will be much better off and will meet new people who will fulfill my current roles so much better.

I write about my journey to share how it has been for me, as there were whispered prayers to God that have been answered in the specific way I asked Him to. Now isn't He grand? I thought I was meant to suffer, but the sufferings I endured turned out to have a limit, and one day I found myself free to go and to move on with my life, hopefully wiser from all that I have gone through.

The journey of finding the next step in one's career is not always easy; in fact in my case it has been a constant search for my place under the sun. I have done new things and met new challenges I would not have welcomed, were it not for God's clear instructions to stay where I was and to continue giving my best, even if I doubted whether my best was ever going to be good enough for the demands of my job.

I had a constant feeling of being inadequate, and longed to be measured in terms of the things I was good at - writing, for example - rather than things I was constantly groping in the dark about. Although results did turn out well eventually and I somehow got into the groove of the business, part of me was undeniably yearning for a life I thought I had turned my back on - my life as a lawyer.

After a lot of soul-searching, I asked God to let a job land on my lap. I had no time to job-hunt, and I had no desire to shift careers again. I did not know how things would end up, and I must have bored my friends to death with my constant complaints about my inefficiencies and frustrations at work. I have angels for friends, for they waited with me, and gave sound advice. I was in a good place, and I had to stay put until a better, concrete offer came along.

One day an old friend asked me to give the Court another try. I was closed to the idea because I was not sure how something I had already left behind would be my future. It was fun while it lasted, I thought. The Court was located in Manila, which I associated with flash floods and bad drivers. My friend encouraged me to pray about it, because I had constantly been talking dreamily about my life as a court attorney, and how I wanted to write for a living again. But I was familiar with Padre Faura, having studied in Manila Science High School for four years, and Manila, well I lived there for 15 years. I was coming home to Manila (remember a few posts ago, I posted the song)? I was coming home to the Court.

I went home and discussed it with my parents. My mother got excited, because according to her, my father brought it up just a week before, how he would be happy if I would go back to being Court Attorney. I asked my father what he thought, and he lifted up both hands in jubilation. I was surprised at his reaction, for my father was not prone to outward expressions of emotion. He said, "I have been praying for this for a very long time now!" He said he would be so much at peace knowing I worked for the Supreme Court and would even be open to the possibility of me becoming a judge someday. I told them I was almost tempted not to get the job because it made them too happy. It was a startling contrast to the time I insisted on resigning from the Sandiganbayan to work for Lingkod full-time as a volunteer staffer. That did not sit well with them, at all, but I had to do it, for my heart was so in it. It was the calling for me at that time.

Things moved fast after that. I talked to my old boss, and my current boss, two women I admired greatly. We worked out a plan and a schedule. It made a lot of people very happy, but I was the happiest of all. It was just time to move, and I had God's full blessing. Nothing was sweeter than that knowledge, not even the approving cheers of all my (burdened) friends. I did not have to apply; for the offer had been standing for some time now. I would not have to shift careers or to adjust in a major way, for this was my prior life. I had done my share of serving God full-time, and obeying Him to the letter, and it was time to be happy again.

Life is continuing to fall into place day by day. I am at a time of harvest again. The seasons of life do come, and I am glad I waited for the Lord to move before moving, for in His time, everything is in beautiful blossom, and they will all bear good fruit.

I will have time to rest soon before the new job starts. I am happy to be surrounded by such supportive family and friends. My colleagues whom I will leave behind are also very supportive of my decision. They probably can't wait for the despedidas and the parties as well.