To SOPA OR not to SOPA

These four intriguing letters seem to be the recent buzz in social media and the internet as a whole but to be honest, other than knowing that SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act, I haven’t had that much knowledge why it’s getting the attention of more and more people. From my half-baked understanding SOPA is meant to put some sort of control over online content and exchanges and the proliferation of materials that some authorities think violate the intellectual property rights of people who claim ownership on things such as music, software, and books just to name a few. And based on this alone, as expected of me, I may be leaning on the side of those who support SOPA. So far, I’m yet to see someone on my Twitter timeline who has the same opinion as mine – other than the very people who want this implemented.

Today, Wikipedia.org joins the growing number of people who are against SOPA (and the complementary PIPA or Protect Intellectual Property Act bill) – in a couple of hours it will black out its whole website to protest SOPA. Recently, there have been strong calls for subscribers to pull out of GoDaddy.com (which incidentally is my domain host) after it declared its support to the controversial bills.

So where do I stand in this issue? Anyone who has been lurking/reading my blog posts probably knows the answer. I am anti-piracy. I try hard to be one even if it has costs me to miss on learning new software, catching up on new movies, and possessing a copy of the latest hit music. And yes, my advocacy and commitment to this has made people, especially my friends, scratch their heads in disbelief.

But perhaps people who are against SOPA and PIPA have a valid reason behind their outcry and so I think I will have to step back a bit and learn what these are before I declare a hundred percent support to whatever I believe in (or will believe in next). In the next few weeks I’ll try to absorb as much knowledge as possible and see if there’s a rational explanation why one will have the right to use (AND SHARE) something that is not his (or hers) or something that he did not pay for. Let’s see.

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Mood: 4/10 Honks! (I think I’m having fever. Good reason for grammatical errors.)


Practicality = Piracy?

Piracy

On my way to work yesterday, the discussion over the radio got me so immersed into it that I had to maintain the minimum focus required to drive safely. And how can I not, the condition was perfect: nice summer sun, tuned in to Magic 89.9 FM’s morning show with Mo, Mojo and Grace Lee, and they’re talking about my favorite topic—piracy.

I have a love-hate relationship with this radio show. But more often than not, I tune in to this station as I find this lively trio a great companion especially when driving alone and sleepy. Some people call or classify such show as talk radio because most the time there’s incessant blabbing about almost everything under the sun. And when I say everything, it really does mean almost everything. Thus, making the show as one of, if not the only, the most controversial morning shows.

The most dominant character among them is Mo who’s not only a fast talker but is likewise full of ideas that some of it are out of this world, downright offending and some are just not even fit to be discussed during a morning show wherein every mom, dad, uncle, aunt and other mature individuals may be listening and may be with kids at the same time. I’ve heard him discuss about premarital sex, religion, politics, lesbianism and other taboo stuffs, and of course, piracy.

So yesterday was no exemption. The moment I heard him mention the word piracy, I slowed down and listened – the group’s discussion and their exchanges with the callers were interesting albeit I find some of it just irritating. As usual.

Mo was once again defending and reiterating his stand that although he doesn’t directly promote piracy on his radio show, he sees a lot of advantage and benefit out of it other than the obvious difference in price between the licensed and the bootleg. One of the things he pointed out is about the movie industry. According to him, because of piracy which started several years ago, the original films have become available in the Philippines almost at the same time when it is released from its country of origin.

According to him, years ago it would take one film to reach the Philippines almost a couple of months after Hollywood, for example, releases it to cinemas in the US. And this is where piracy comes in handy. Most probably while the film is rolling somewhere in the US, some unscrupulous cinema insider or viewer is recording a copy of the film and immediately distributes it to their contacts inside or outside of the country. Now these contacts sell the film’s copy to people who are so eager to watch it. So when the time comes for the original film to be shown in theaters, the revenue flops. Of course, who wants to pay and watch a re-run?  Simple reasoning, yet rude and yet practical. And this, according to Mo, is when producers eventually learn and realize that they need to compete or lose their market share to illegal distributors. At this point of the argument, I caught myself nodding in conformity.

Another case that Mo presented or re-presented (as I heard about it a couple of times already) is about computer software piracy. He believes that it is the only way for poor nations, like ours, and its people to compete and put them at par with the rest of the world when it comes to computer literacy. Although, I agree with the need to compete, I don’t however agree with how it is achieved by piracy.

As much as I hated it, Mo’s point got me thinking. Quite frankly, I’ve been pondering lately if I’m cursed for knowing that piracy is stealing. Often times some people, like most of my friends, see it as plain practicality and the need to learn about one software is one good justification to get hold of its bootleg counterpart. I’m not saying that these people are bad. I might say though that they are misinformed or have chosen to keep a blind eye about it.

As I end my driving until I got out of Intel’s parking lot, my mind was occupied with so many questions just from the 20 minutes I spent listening to the radio.

So am I not being practical then?

Am I stupid to believe that I shouldn’t be buying any of these bootleg stuffs? Or am I now alone in this belief or advocacy?

Will my next employer reject me because I did not learn as much software as I can because I don’t have the guts to buy a pirated copy?

Am I going to be left behind then in the end? Do I have to steal to learn?

Is it a good thing that while I teach my boy about good manners and right conduct, he’s watching a pirated educational DVD?

Do I need to seek professional advice to get over with my firm stand against it?

Maybe I’ll think all about it. Although I’m still hoping that in the end my answers will still be a big NO unless they change the law against it. And hopefully whatever the reasons are why most people continue to patronize pirated products, I still hope (or is wish?) that soon enough the fight against piracy will win because I really believe that behind those cheap illegal goods that some of us enjoy others are suffering just because of it.

***

Photo credit: vikrameb

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Bad Mini

As one way of saving electricity, I’ve been surfing the web for a couple of days already instead of watching the early morning programs and news on TV. This way I also get to use only one electric fan while being inside our bedroom to watch until when our baby wakes up. So lately I’ve been a fan of ZDnet.com updates. And today’s ZDnet’s email feed caught my full attention.

Just like any other employees in our company, I was among those who are considering buying a laptop after we return our company-issued laptops when work is finally (and totally) over in a few more months. It must be some sort of a denial thing or just the thought of not having anything to tinker with while passing time during the layoff period, but whatever the reason is having one inanimate yet reliable companion during this time will be somehow a relief – just in case talking to your spouse and playtime with your children seems routine (read: boring) already. Hehehe. And that inan- imate companion I’m referring to is the mini-laptop or netbook as others prefer to call it.

So among the “filler” activities I’ve done lately to keep me from dozing off in front of my laptop is to check out what might be a good replacement for it. Well isn’t it like talking to your wife upfront and saying that you have someone to replace her already? Just a weird thought. Anyway, after read- ing about the technical specs, the product features and comparing physical design of each available minis, I’ve set my eyes on the attractive HP Mini. Of course, I’ve sneaked during our mall times just to see the actual items in several stores and I’ve read personal reviews (thru blogs) about each al- ready. During all these, my choice of having the HP Mini 1000 got stronger and stronger. Not until this morning.

The ZDnet article: Who’s got the top 10-inch netbook? hit me like a frantic cry of a baby. I got alarmed especially since this review comes from a reliable person who is affiliated to ZDnet.com. Here are some of the excerpts:

…Laptop Magazine has just posted a roundup of the latest 10-inch net- books310. They tested six netbooks including the Acer Aspire One 10- inch311, Asus Eee PC 1000HE, HP Mini 1000, Lenovo IdeaPad S10, MSI Wind U120 and Samsung NC10. Prices range from around $350 for most models to around $450 for the Samsung NC10…

…All of them were able to handle “standard-resolution video, multitask, video-conference and even play World of Warcraft (at low frame rates) reasonably well.” The HP Mini 1000 lagged behind on few tests because it has slower, 4,200rpm hard drive (the rest have 5,400rpm drives), but it basically boils down to design and battery life…

…The HP Mini 1000 and IdeaPad S10 have three-cell batteries, landing them at the bottom of the pile with less than 3 hours of life. The rest have six-cell batteries that lasted anywhere from 4.5 hours (MSI Wind U120 and Acer Aspire One) to more than 7 hours (Asus Eee PC 1000HE)…

…The overall winners were the Asus Eee PC 1000HE and the Acer Aspire One–two brands that already dominate the netbook category. The big surprise? The popular HP Mini came in dead last. Sure, the keyboard is great, but the slow hard drive, fewer ports, and a 3-cell battery are big minuses. Both the HP Mini and the MSI Wind are in sore need of updates…

Ouch! The writer from ZDnet ended his review like a boxer’s knockout punch. He hit the HP Mini several times that its recovery seems like next to impossible. Now I’m dumbfounded as well. I feel like all my efforts in search of my future laptop have been in vain. I would have to have to find those PC stores handouts that my ever supporting wife collected while she follows right behind me as I sneak and secretly drool through the attractive computer shops. Ti abi.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Starting to Hate Pioneer AV

I rarely rant in this blog because one rule I stick to when I write (and even in emails) is that I shouldn’t do it whenever I’m angry. I’ve read anger clouds the mind and so I try to avoid writing in such condition because this is when posts become badly composed, grammatical errors occur, the messages don’t make sense, and the readers or recipients get irritated as well. Today, I can’t help it.

This is actually an update to my recent post. I got my Pioneer EV51DVD component back and to my utter dismay it got worse. After whispering some expletives and trying be composed while in front of our wide-eyed boy—who was wondering what on earth I’m doing behind our entertainment rack, I sent an email to Pioneer Philippines technical service headquarters. And here’s what I wrote:

This is to report a problem I just had with your service center – 21st Century Electronics & Service Center – in Bacoor, Cavite. Last Monday, I brought my EV51DVD unit (w/o the speakers) to the said place due to a distorted/humming center speaker. By the afternoon, I came back as agreed so I can check what the status is. The personnel said then that the amplifier might have to be replaced and that they will try to check if the part is available. I was advised that I should call the next day to check again.

Yesterday, I called back and was informed that it is already ok and that I can claim it ASAP. I asked what they find wrong in it and explained that they discovered that it only needs a capacitor replacement which they have already done.

Today, I eagerly went back to get my unit expecting that it has been fixed. I brought along with me only the center speaker for testing since it was the only speaker in question. The technician of course connected it to the unit and showed me that it is playing music already – I was really thankful that time. I paid Php 900 ($19) for the labor and Php 100 ($2) for the capacitor and then left.

However, after I arrived home and excitedly reconnected the unit to the other speakers, I discovered that something wrong was done with it. When I tried the “Test Tone” feature of the unit, I was surprised that the center speaker doesn’t emit a sound when the system displays “C.” And I got more dismayed when it sounded together with the right surround speaker.

I tried to ignore it thinking that it may not be that significant. So I tried playing a DVD (original) to check if it plays just as good as before – when we bought it. That’s when I learned further that both the left and right speakers’ sound has degraded as well no matter what pre-equalizer setting I use. The vocals (dialogue) from the movie weren’t as good either — it sounded muffled. In short, the unit I got back was a total disappointment as it has gotten worse than before. My suspicion right now is that they could have tapped the output of the center speaker to the right surround speaker. I also suspect that what’s inside my unit right now aren’t its original amplifier ICs as well. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

I’m really frustrated and feel betrayed. Tomorrow or anytime this week, I’ll go back to that service center to have it fixed (they gave me two months warranty which I hope they will honor). But right now this email is sent to you for your corrective action. I’m asking you to do your investigation as well so that this won’t happen to any other customers like me who might go there in good faith just to get a service not expected from a good brand like Pioneer.

After looking at and reading the above email again, I somehow feel glad that at least it appears tactful enough. I don’t know though if I’ll feel embarrassed about it tomorrow and curse myself for letting out a rant online which I always despise.

How about you? Do you think I did my best to contain my rant? Let me know.

***

When I said “from a good brand like Pioneer” I actually lied. I think this is my last Pioneer. I had two succeeding bad experiences with it and probably I’ll consider other brands. I’m considering the following based on stories from friends and peers: Philips, Samsung and Sony. I guess I’ll just have to pick those with slim speaker or I can “invest” in good home theaters instead. Ti abi, don’t we just love this thing called consumerism.

***

Pioneer
My search leads to my own blog.

 

Funny.  I’m trying to look for an image of the EV51DVD but my yahoo search led me to my own blog. Hahaha.

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Mood:5/10 Honks!

 

 

Pioneer AV: Sound of Silence

Today, I decided to have our four-year old Pioneer EV51DVD fixed at a service center after its center speaker’s sound distorted all of a sudden several weeks ago. I was supposed to claim it by the afternoon but the news when I returned wasn’t that good–it may take two more months to wait for the amplifier IC to be delivered in case they can’t get an available part from their main Philippine office.

Since our little boy recently had this fondness of his Little Einstein CDs, a day without seeing his favorite puppets would mean only one thing: a tantrum-filled day. And so we decided to look for a cheap temporary DVD player only. Soon enough I found myself inside SM Dasma appliance center’s Pioneer booth looking at one DVD player unit. Then I remembered that the last one we had was also a Pioneer which its 3-CD player mechanism jammed and rendered the rest of it useless. Now, isn’t this the time to consider other brands?

I have to admit though that what keeps me from buying a Pioneer is because the sound quality is significantly different from the others like Sony. Likewise, I like the design of Pioneer which doesn’t exaggerate anything but instead keeps a balance between every part of the audio system. But this may not be the case nowadays – or so I hope.

No offense but I’ve been telling my wife that other A/V brands remind me of choices of Filipino OFWs especially those coming from the Middle East. That’s because I’ve seen from friends (and friends’ friends) when I was in grade school that their Dads (or other OFW relatives) would bring A/V components with extra large speakers that look as if they are setting up a baylehan (public dance area) inside their own house. If there’s one perfect thing to be estranged with your neighbors, this is it.

Now every time we window shop inside the appliance centers, the sight of the A/V systems with huge speakers still reminds me of my friends and their neighbors that might have hated them for the deafening music played all day, probably with the assumption that the their neighbors are into the same music genre or that everyone in the next household is awake just like them. Ti abi.

Tomorrow, I’ll be calling back to check if the amplifier IC is available. I’m hoping that there will be a replacement part or I might have to violate what I learned from a couple of financial planning seminars concerning one of the pitfalls of a consumer–using a credit card to buy a new player and incurring a bad debt in the process. And just in case this happens, I’m putting all the blame to Pioneer. Hahaha.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

A Week of Everything But Work

This must be the longest week I ever had. This week felt like it was 24 X 7 plus 1. I don’t exactly know if so many things have happened or it’s just so much time has slipped by.  Either way it’s a shame that both of it have been mostly done in front of the IBM’s flat LCD and inside the cold gray cube.

That’s the problem when there is imbalance between time and tasks. It is during these conditions that nothing productive gets done:

Condition 1: Having less (or the feeling of it) time but with multiple tasks is confusing or alarming.

Condition 2: Having more time but with little or no task on queue at all is just pathetic. If you ask me, I prefer Condition 1.

Since being idle nowadays is as predictable as sunset, this is when having an initiative and a bit of creativeness sets one person one step ahead of the other. It also helps to do at least a short time planning just to preserve self-worth on a daily basis. It’s just what I’ve done so fa, so far.

The good thing is that in spite of lull in workloads, the resources at work remain abundant. It’s both a good a good and a bad thing, like staring at an apple in the Garden of Eden while wondering if God will ever snooze–the temptation to cross the fine line is always there.

For starters, the internet connection is always on (and to mention that it’s way faster than outside) and the printers are functional and readily full of papers. Now if that doesn’t get your mind immediately full of wild ideas, then something is wrong with you. I know that google-heads are green with envy by now.

Times like this good judgment and work ethics come handy. In my case I try to kill time by taking online training. I likewise try to be involved in activities that the company offers.

Skillsoft Books24X7

I have never appreciated the availability of this site more than now. Although I’ve used it years before for my researches and book references when I continued my schooling, since weeks ago I started using it again. This week my usage got more frequent than ever.

My search for MBA tags brought me to results other than books. I find that there are online courses, learning guides and assessments available. What made it even more interesting was that I’ve read and learned about lots of good stuffs with regards to writing. I’m excited to share it soon as this was once my problem when I made my thesis – or I just didn’t have enough time to research then.

Financial readiness seminar

I can’t exactly remember when I attended this one but I was once again among those inside the packed training room. It was estimated that there were at least 300 attendees who listened to the Colayco foundation’s Executive Director, Mr. Bengco. He spoke a lot of things which half I dismissed and half I noted. Part of the things I got so interested about was when he discussed about ways to get rich. It contained only five key items. The crowd’s excitement of knowing what the five ways are immediately died down when most of us realized that the first four isn’t just possible.

Inherit it.

Marry it.

Steal it.

Win it.

Earn it.

A reminder of a bedtime story

There’s a problem  with forgetting very basic bedtime stories–you become a recipient of the moral lesson it teaches. The story of the rabbit and the turtle stung me this time.

It happened during our company’s Smashing Couples badminton match. After I saw the line up where my partner and I were included, I had high hopes that we do have the chance to reach the finals. What inspired me more was when I learned who will be our first match. “We’ve beaten these guys before, we can do it again,” I confidently said to my partner.

The high ego was short-lived. After piling up some points ahead on the first set our opponents consistently capitalized on our unforced errors and soon enough confidence was on their side. The first set reached deuce but the next set was crushing to the rabbits.

I came out of the badminton tournament with the line “and the moral of the story is…” echoing in my mind. Damn turtles. Hahaha. Just kidding.

Congrats Richmond and Arlene.

Everything that flies and crashes

This is another anticipated week for the flying community. Even if I won’t be able to attend the 13th Philippine Hot Air Balloonfest I know that hundreds of people are either already at Clark or just on their way enjoying the SCTEX drive.

Unfortunately, while everyone at Clark enjoys the breathtaking sight of balloons, skydivers, airplane exhibitions, and everything that flies, two places abroad experienced separate plane crashes. One was in Buffalo, New York that claimed 50 lives when a commuter plane went down, initially due to icing, hitting one house. Another plane crash landed at a London airport which thankfully just had minor injuries to its passengers.

It’s a pity that Capt. Sully’s heroic Hudson River landing a couple of weeks ago is negated by two succeeding crashes. It could be disappointing if further investigation on these accidents would point to poor maintenance as the root cause and it could even be more disappointing if it was due to recession. It’s a stretch, but hey, it’s not that unlikely.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

I’ve got some weird things running in my gray matter since the start of the year. And last week everything seems to have happened in topsy-turvy manner or as what I sometimes describe things in the production floor as chopsuey—just a mixture of different things. There was anxiety, there was hope, and then there’s despair.

And today the emotional intensity has gone up and one thing that made me think less or control it rather than it controlling me was the anticipation that things are about to happen. It’s not matter of IF but it’s just a matter of WHEN. It’s like running out of brakes and just bracing for impact while each second is a countdown of the imminent worst case scenario.

Last week I was mulling over the topic of death once again while killing time (pardon the pun). I was asking myself when was the first time I realized how death of a loved one must be like. And then I remembered, it was way back in my elementary days.

It was one lazy summer 1984 afternoon. The flickering rays of the sun passed the swaying ipil-ipil leaves in our front yard. I was about to enjoy my mandatory siesta when a familiar voice called. ”Mahampang na kami siguro (it must be playtime already),” I thought. But as I rush out of the door, a rather sullen look greeted me. It was my classmate and friend,  Jonathan. “Cris, patay na si mama (mom is dead),” he said.

I still remember feeling confused, not knowing what to make out of it. I can’t remember the exact discussions that followed but I remember us just sitting in the yard and with me listening while he tells stories about his mom. At a very young age I witnessed funerals of my own relatives but I have never been closed to understanding until that memorable afternoon that with death comes inevitable grief. It’s how one handles it that makes the difference.

Then just two days ago, I received an email with an urgent subject: Emergency Appeal! I read the message and it’s from someone in Africa. I shrugged it off as a scam but verified it anyhow through my college yahoogroups. Just as expected, my inbox was soon flooded with replies confirming what I thought it to be. But one replied out of topic and only addressed to me. It was from Jonathan.

class 84
Our elementary class.

We’ve had some lengthy email exchanges since then and I find it weird that everything has been so mixed up but yet still appears to be in harmony as every dot gets connected in the end. Weirder is the fact that I’ve been holding to a clipping from this Sunday’s newspaper with a story from Francis Kong’s “Tragedy into blessing” article.

Year’s ago in Scotland, the Clark family had a dream. The Clarks had worked and saved, making plans for their nine children and themselves to travel to the United States. It had taken years, but they had finally saved enough money and had gotten passports and reservations for the whole family on a new liner to the United States. The entire family was filled with anticipation and excitement about their new life. However, seven days be- fore their departure, the youngest son was bitten by a dog. The doctor sewed up the boy but hung a yellow sheet on the Clarks’ front door. Because of the possibility of rabies, they were being quarantined for 14 days. The family’s dreams were dashed. They would not be able to make the trip to America as they had planned. The father, filled with disappointment and anger, stomped to the dock to watch the ship leave.

The father shed tears of disappointment and cursed both his son and God for their misfortune.

Five days later, the tragic news spread throughout Scotland – the mighty Titanic had sunk. The Clark family was to have been on that ship. When Mr. Clark heard the news, he hugged his son and thanked him for saving the family. He thanked God for saving their lives and turning what he had felt was a tragedy into a blessing.

The story was made even more meaningful when bad news struck yesterday.  God must indeed have plans for us and now, I’d like to believe it more. Few weeks or months from now, I’ll be missing things in the production floor. No more chopsuey. No more turning back.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks!

Filipino Game Shows: Deal or No Deal?

One thing I have to contend with during vacation is giving up from time to time to my wife’s favorite TV shows. I don’t know what attracts her and other Filipinos from watching it but despite the seemingly lack of substance or excitement from these local channels’ programming, these shows nevertheless garner a large percentage of the viewing public if the surveys are to be trusted. For most pinoys, lunch and dinner times aren’t complete without these.

There’s the ever repeating plots of the telenovelas where the characters (and their nationality) and settings changes but not the story; the local game shows that breed more ignorance rather than educate the masses; and of course, there’s the national news reports that dwell mostly on the repetitive political turmoil, killings of the hoodlums (thieves, drug pushers, kidnappers, etc.), endless motorcycle riders accidents and any other reports that one would find in a tabloid instead of a reputable newspaper. Sometimes, I believe that these local networks insert subliminal messages in between their TV shows that possess the viewing public.

As much as I hate to admit it, however, I’m starting to appreciate (cue OMG) a couple of what I then consider as mababaw entertainment. A couple I can now name are Pilipinas Game Ka Na Ba and Deal or No Deal. But please, SWS and ABS-CBN don’t count me in yet as I’m still picky of the episodes. I know you can do better than what you currently have.

I recently learned (from wifey) that Game Ka Na Ba is doing a fairly strict screening of its participants. It looks like there’s truth to it since I saw that the trivia questions require a bit of thinking to answer it. Or is it just me? I’m now wondering if to be considered intelligent someone like me needs to add the knowledge on trivial matters in Filipino current events, celebrity news and history. Am I doomed for not caring about all these stuffs? Because frankly speaking, the last time I had an interest in such was way back when I was in school.

In Deal or No Deal, I seem to enjoy its recent episodes. Not only that I wish I’d get a million this way, but I’m amused to see how different people deals with the game banker’s offer. Although this is one game of luck, it cannot be taken lightly. Some kind of analysis had to be done under several pressure factors: family and friends, the studio audience, the looks and firm smiles of the lovely girls holding the cases, the show’s host, and the banker. Without any doubt, above all these, there’s time pressure to beat. In the end it’s not about getting the case containing the one million pesos figure, but it’s all about how you analyze your chance of winning once you decide against the banker’s offer if it’s a deal or no deal.

***

Relax my anti-Filipino game/TV show friends (you know who you are), this blog is not a prelude to patronizing all the local networks’ broadcast. This is just an acknowledgement that there is indeed something to learn from if you look at it from another point of view. Just remember, one key here is not immediately giving up when you see Kris Aquino shout the words, “Deal or No Deal.” You’ll get over with it soon. Hahaha. But if you’re asking if I’m watching telenovelas tonight, forget it. I’m a solid no. Unless….

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Christmas In All Perspectives

Just as Christmas brings a lot of emotions, activities, gifts, spiritual enlightenment and almost all other sort of things that the past eleven months failed to have, I realized that it would be a pity if one just look at one aspect of this yuletide season. When we consider everything there’s always the chance to see both the good and bad. We’d appreciate the good, learn and move on from the bad.

The lyrics from the song Santa Claus is coming to town “He sees you when you’re sleepin‘, he knows when your awake, he knows if you been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake…” is a good reminder that December is the perfect time to check if we’ve been good or bad all right. Sadly, while some of us are reflecting if we have been good or bad, the latter still continues to be around during this time of the year and sadder than that, it may even occur in the midst of our holiday preparations despite good intentions.

Like some doctors say “I have a bad news and a good news, which one would you like to hear first?” I’d say, give me the bad news first.

Bad news

Road traffic. Everyone has experienced this I’m sure. Whether in a public transport or in the comforts air-conditioned car this scenario is inescapable—unless you’re one of those shameless politicians. It’s during this traffic jams that each driver’s (and some passengers) temperament and courtesy is tested. Often times this is when all yuletide cheers seem to just vanish into thin air. And more alarming lately are drunk driving incidents. These drivers for sure won’t get any more Jack Daniels from Santa.

Long queues. As if after driving from a long tiring trip to the mall isn’t enough, there are more jams waiting inside the shopping areas. Once again, this is when and where courtesies and patience are put to the test. Observing any long queue, one will most likely chance upon someone with Christmas gifts seen smiling at the end of the line but ends up like Grinches when they reach the cashier.

Trashes. I was so glad when I read from the Philippine Star about a reminder coming from Greenpeace (if I’m not mistaken) for everyone to put the environment in mind when planning for their respective Christmas parties. Remember: reuse and recycle. It also won’t hurt to use some common sense when disposing garbage properly. Let’s not piss Santa Claus so much that we’ll soon find our own trashes stuffed inside our yuletide socks instead of gifts.

Recession season. As the rest of the people are anticipating a merry Christmas and a happy new year, others are bracing for the impact of the economic slump which has affected the U. S. Its effect has rippled through the rest of the world already and one of the unavoidable outcomes is the number of layoffs by corporations from all industries. One of the giant employers affected by such is Intel and as a matter of fact several of my colleagues and friends will be jobless by next year (I myself almost lost my own but thankfully I made a U-turn after I applied and got hired for a vacant position). There’s nothing more I can do now but hope their transition and recovery would be quick.

Whew! The list can go on. Does this mean Santa will have lots of checking to do and will have lesser recipients this year? Anyway, I’m not wasting more precious time so this time let me tell the good news.

Good news

Time to give. This is I guess is the key to enjoy the Christmas season. Actually it’s the main reason why there’s Christmas to be celebrated after all. Remember the bible verse “For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son”? And do you still remember the Three Kings who endured a long and dangerous trip to pay baby Jesus a visit in the manger? These all show that the essence of this season is all about giving.  It’s all about sharing. No more, no less.

On my part, especially for this year’s holiday season, the presence of our baby boy must have an effect on how I give gifts. My long standing plan to go green by reusing what I have at home and to put some creativity to good use finally came true. Last year, I started saving the comic sections of the dailies as I see it as a good alternative for Christmas wrappers. I also pay extra attention to tips on TV, newspapers, or magazines that may put some personal touch to the way we give. And so this year, I have already given a couple that I’m proud of.

The first one was when I was cramming for gift ideas for my father’s 75th birthday. After combing SM Bacolod, back and forth, I bought a small cheap plastic Ace Hardware tool box, a silver ribbon and a birthday card from National Bookstore. At home, I wrote in the card and placed some “Ninoy” bills inside the tool box and sealed it off with a lovely ribbon with the help of my wife—presto, a unique gift indeed. Goodbye boring red envelope.

How to wrap a book, Book in a bottle
Book in bottle.

The second one was a gift for our team’s Christmas party. Wondering how I’d hide any hint that it is a book, I arrived at the idea of putting it inside an empty 6-liter PET bottle. Then I stuffed shredded newspapers and wrapped the clear bottle with another newspaper. In the end it appeared more like a bomb than a harmless gift. Well, at least she got what she put in her wish list.

Tonight, we’ll have our own simple exchange gift giving at home. It will be just my wife, our 8-month old boy and myself. I don’t know if they’d like what I did, but then again as the cliché goes, “it’s the thought that counts.” Hahaha. Looks like a good excuse for having crappy gifts and wraps.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Our first Christmas family pic
Our family is now complete.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

Filipino Pride

This is another time I will deviate from my blog rule of not jumping to the bandwagon. I’m so sure that after watching the boxing match between the Golden Boy and the Pacman, the internet is abuzz with the result of the recently concluded match. I can count right now things that boxing enthusiasts might be doing at this very moment—there are just two.

Some might still be reeling from the unbelievable (yet, predictable somehow) ending of the De La Hoya and Pacquiao fight. Mexicans in general I’m sure are disappointed that another of their boxing hero has fallen into the hands of the Filipino sensation and needless to say, most Filipinos are celebrating another victory that our homegrown hero, Manny Pacquiao, has once again stood against all odds and let his hands do the talking inside the famous MGM arena.

On the other hand, there might be another good thing that I’m quite sure of is that whatever camp one is in, and either one is celebrating or lamenting, the chances of being with a beer and a couple of friends to be with is just high. Unfortunately, I’m in no position to be in that kind of scenario right now. I wouldn’t trade any celebration besides one at home with my wife and baby and watch the fight live on TV courtesy of our Barzaga friends – Congressman Pidi and Mayor Jenny.

Efforts by Barzaga
Another “effort” from our Congressman, Pidi and wife, Mayor Jenny Barzaga.

I realized that this is the second time in a row I’ve enjoyed watching live boxing feed (last one was between Pacquiao and Morales) and both of which were sponsored by these friends. I can’t seem to think what to make out of it  except to enjoy the free live feed, as the efforts of our friends don’t actually come free after all. I know for a fact that to watch this match live means that some sort of amount of money had to be shed. And that money might have been spared at the expense of our town’s road improvement and/or maintenance. It’s pathetic, but then again who knows Dasmarinas will produce more Filipino pride whom our baby will be cheering for when he eventually gets to appreciate the sports of boxing.

So while I can’t have any influence yet on how our town’s budget is spent, I just might as well enjoy what is presently being celebrated by millions of Filipinos worldwide. Manny, you’re the man! You’re indeed aFilipino pride.

Small boxing fan
Big and small boxing fans (Taken just before the Golden Boy called it quits.)

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Mood: 1/10 Honks!

Postscript: It’s a coincidence, but I clicked my mouse to Arnel Pineda’s album in my My Music folder while drafting this blog. I’m thankful, that there’s another Filipino pride other than Manny. Lastly, another one I can think of right now is another singer Charice Pempengco (did I get the spelling right?). At least, I got three on my list. Ti abi.