Pride No More

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Our pride, our Kia Pride.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” – Anonymous

“The power to surprise.” – Kia

Today we have to let go of our pride. Well at least just our 1998 GTX Kia Pride, anyway. After having it for 3 years, 10 months and 27 days we decided to let go of it for  reasons I hope I could write about it soon. Fingers crossed. Like any old car owner, we had our own share of ups and downs with it. It was a driving guinea pig for me and my wife.

Here are some of the things we both experienced and learned from our blue jalopy:

  1. We’ve had a couple of encounters with the “third” kind–the tricycles. The second one was the bloodiest and needless to say costliest. We’ve learned a couple of lessons from that experience. Lesson 1: check, check, & check before making a turn. Lesson 2: Power steering makes sense. Lesson 3: Professional drivers must accompany student drivers all the time. If it weren’t for this mistake, we could have claimed insurance. Lesson 4: Tricycles doesn’t have shatter proof windshields or seat belts even. Lesson 5: Have a decent clothing even on short trips. At least you look good while in the Emergency Room.
  2. I realized I need not have a Subaru, Citroen or a Ford Focus and neither should I be somewhere in a dirt nor a snow track to experience rally. I got that adrenaline rush with my wife on the wheel and just somewhere in Alabang when she banked hard at high speed. That one scared the sh*t out of me.
  3. My wife learned that Kia Prides are 4X4‘s in disguise when she made the front wheels climb up a parking wheel stop and if it weren’t for the tree in front of it, the rear wheels could have crossed it as well. At this point I’m starting to think she might do well not only in rally driving but 4X4 jungle challenges as well. Hmm.
  4. Anything could happen. Who would have thought that a house door panel will end up on top of a car? Not me but it did. A wooden door being sold just along the road side unfortunately got loose from the workers’ grip and slammed right in front of the passenger’s A pillar. Now, every time I hear the F1 racing’s host say ”…and Hamilton, shuts the door on Alonso…” I have some sort of idea how it feels.
  5. Cheap MP3 players could damage. Please email me for details (cpn05@yahoo.com) as this is a long story. I should have thrown it out the first time it skipped.
  6. And related to number 5, electrical smoke smells nasty and so it really pays to have a fire extinguisher inside your car.
  7. We once played Starksy and Hutch. We witnessed an accident involving a motorcycle rider who went under a dump truck. Upon seeing that there’s no way I can revive the victim, I decided to chase the erring driver. During the high-speed (as I’d like to believe, it makes a good blog post) chase I drove while my wife was on the phone calling the police. Despite the seriousness of the problem at that time, I actually imagined putting up a blinking police light (too much TV?) while initiating the chase. In the end the escaping driver was apprehended. Lesson learned: It does pay to have the police’s contact numbers in your cellphone. You never know when you need one.

Even with those (mis)misadventures, the comfort we had with this car still obviously outnumbered the discomfort, thanks to regular maintenance. We’ve been to places with it, at our own pace, and in our own time. It was even with us during most of our domestic and international travels, at least ust until Park N Fly.

So just this morning, I gave Wild dog its one last car wash with us, cleaned the interiors and readied every thing for the next owner. And a couple of car honks later it signaled its departure from our home. We will miss her.

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Actions Vs Ideals

I was in a Leadership Enhancement Program yesterday and from start until the end of the whole session this notice was projected along with the MS Powerpoint presentations. “The lamp has reached the end of its usable life. Please replace the lamp.” Ti abi. Has our company ventured into subliminal conditioning? Is there a deeper meaning in that message? Well, it’s for us to find out I guess. Anyway, we had a rather interesting day.

During the first half we had a segment with an American and I was quite surprised when he frankly butted in when a participant was trying to highlight a point by saying “I think this is a cultural thing with us Filipinos.” The expat answered, “Actually, it’s not just you Filipinos who have this problem.”

What was being discussed then was about taking full responsibility when problems arise. I guess he hit the nail on the head with that answer. I learned from him that even other people from other culture in our multinational network would instinctively point their fingers to others to save face. The lack of ownership seems common. And that’s one of the reasons I’m always awed when Japanese (mostly during the feudal period) would commit harakiri when they know that they are a dishonor either to their family or organization. Bloody yet graceful exit. Come to think of it, isn’t it time we include a tantō inside our factory? I bet though that most likely it will stay pristine.

Another part of the program that amazes me most was when all of us were grouped into seven. Each team was to gather from each member his/her idea of a strong leader and then for each group to create a hypothetical person bearing those ideal characters.

After several minutes of brainstorming and discussion, the result was surprising. The common thing that most participants want is a leader who is a firm and tough individual. I almost blurted “but we have that one here in our organization!” It was a result both surprising and sad as it seems to show that we fail to match our acts to reach our ideals.

We want a leader who is firm and tough, yet we get offended when he takes over.

We want great roads and infrastructures, yet we don’t pay our taxes completely.

We want clean surrounding, yet we spit and throw our trashes anywhere.

We want road courtesy, yet we drive just like how the other damn drivers drive.

We want health, yet we fail to do something about it.

We want jobs, yet we don’t do it properly.

Everything we do on a daily basis, basic or complex, entails responsibility. Most of the time we need to make a conscious effort to do it well so that at the end of the day we get to go home, kiss our wife (and kids), have a beer, go to bed and be honest with ourselves that today we did something that matches the one we have been dreaming of to happen.

Wanted: Evil Employees

Out of boredom last week I convinced myself, though  carless, to try watching a movie alone as I haven’t done this for a long while. After a hearty lunch of Wendy’s Bacon Cheeseburger, which I noticed by the way that its bacons are getting shorter and shorter every time I buy one, I picked Resident Evil Apocalypse out of the other three movies in SM Dasma’s homey cinema to spend my day off.

In the movie, Alice is portrayed as just among several “Alices” bioengineered by the infamous Umbrella Corp whose employees are now living several hundred feet under a vast deserted dried land. On the surface are hundreds of undead aimlessly walking and waiting for any human they can bite and infect.

After appreciating the fact that the movie started with Alice (Milla Jovovich) laying butt-naked and wet in the shower, I sooner got bored with it. I always knew that I start to hate a movie when I catch myself in deep thought while watching it. Some people would consider it a good sign but not me. I watched The Bourne Ultimatum last time and I was just plainly immersed in it despite the Hollywood boo-boos, it entertained me nevertheless.

I drifted away from this Resident Evil movie when something about its hi-tech underground headquarters caught my attention. In there are blinking red, green and white consoles, most likely computers that would humble even today’s Quad Cores, and a totally clean meeting rooms and lab. So what’s wrong with it then? Let me tell you.

Did anyone ever wonder where the technicians, janitors, laundry personnel and chefs are in that setting? Do bad guys in that corporation still need these employees to keep their covert operations running on a day to day basis? And do these bad guys require evil-minded employees as well?

Just imagine finding these classified ads:

“Umbrella Corporation wants you:

Engineers. Qualification: Must possess a degree in BS Computer Engineering or equivalent. Experience with an evil empire preferred.

 Chefs. Qualification: Must have cooked for Bin Laden. He/she should expect finding mutant mice running around the kitchen (if the evil lab technicians had a snafu).

Janitors. Qualification: Had experienced cleaning lots of blood. May perform some jobs with morgue personnel. And other than general trash, he may have to deal with disposing dead bodies. May be assigned to dispose non-performing Alices (I’d like this job).

Laundry Personnel. Qualification: Experienced washing blood-stained tuxedos. Must be able to press it properly in preparation for a spic-and- span evil officer’s meeting.

Barbers. Qualification: Must have good control of scissors and blades. Possible promotion to hit squad personnel if cutting is found precise.”

I’m also wondering if Payroll and HR is appropriate. Hmm, an aggrieved evil employee? Not applicable I guess.

So there goes, whatever empire or corporation we are all in, it still needs the blue-collar employees. Every one is still essential to an organization–from the managers to the grass root level. These suave, clean-shaved evil guys who attend meetings in suit and tie won’t even exist without the low-level employees.

After all there’s a bright side to this disappointing movie. Now I’m inspired. It now appears that there are still lots of jobs around. Only if I can find that newspaper with Umbrella Corporation’s classified ads. Probably an evil newspaper boy is out with it.

 

Are you the Man of Steal?

(Blog originally intended for my alma mater’s blog site.)

I was thinking of a better title for this blog and I remember a high school classmate whom we tagged as “Man of Steal.” Not that he’s a professional thief, but it’s just that he had this annoying habit of not returning things he borrowed or worse, keeping small petty stuff that our classmates possessed and valued—such as David Pomeranz cassette tapes (yes tapes!), books, etc.

I’m quite sure we’ve had our share of petty thievery way, way back in the past. We’ve sneaked into our nanay‘s wallet to fund our Masskara escapades. We’ve kept extra resistors from the lab to support our home-made audio amplifiers and boosters. We’ve raided the stock room to pick extra welding rods for our bike’s frame. And we’ve, intentionally or unintentionally, grabbed one lumpia or burger from Claire without shedding a single centavo.

Those who are guilty, please raise your hands. Wait, I can’t type one-handed.

Mr. Genito’s reminder prior to our last OJT still stays fresh in my mind, ”INDI pagkuhaon maski bato sa inyo ulobrahan (DO NOT take even a single rock from within your company).” I will always remember that briefing every time I’d see gravel in the parking lot and would ask myself, ”Maski ini? (Even this?)”, ”Oo, maski ina! (Yes, even that!)”, my good side will respond immediately.

As the technology around us gets more advanced than it was before—and becomes affordable to almost everyone—another form of stealing gets so rampant and so common that one wouldn’t know that he has actually participated in it. Even those with the best of intentions, regardless of social status, religion, or profession are victims. Even friends.

This is film piracy. Once again I’m guilty as charged. But that was more than eight years ago. I remember the last bootleg copy I bought was Tom Hank’s Cast Away which I got from one of the malls in Alabang. That day, I also grabbed some beer, pulutan, and then went home so eager to watch it with my wife. Sadly, I almost crushed our VCD player in disgust when in the middle of the movie it started pixelating and ruined our night altogether. And that was it, I had enough.

I guess it was one of my wake-up calls to end the illicit practice once and for all. And as if trying to justify my life-changing decision, I read the papers, watched the news and attended company-supported training sessions related to this. It was then when I became more aware of things such as Intellectual Property and Copyright laws.

Of course, everyone knew how costly (some may find it even ridiculous and stupid) it is to stop buying pirated products nowadays. It’s the reason my Core 2 Duo still has the genuine Windows ‘98 OS in it and until now the dual core processor is concentrating its power on the free solitaire game—dasig gid eh (very quick), if you will ask.

Since then, my wife and I also started saving to buy the CDs and DVDs that we like. If the budget isn’t available we’d content ourselves to listening to our favorite music over the radio and watching movies on the cable channels or in the cinemas.

Although feeling good about doing the right thing, I’ve kept mum about it. Pushing this anti-piracy advocacy in front of most people I know would either get me booted out of my circle of friends or get raised eyebrows at the very least. (I even discovered that one high position expat got a whole shelf of “Quiapo” DVDs in his home. It’s disappointing and frustrating.)

Until now I still wonder if there will come a time when the government and other concerned organization will eradicate or significantly lessen this illegal trade that’s been killing almost the whole industry—even food, toys, books, textiles and other consumer products in the market are affected. Wishful thinking? If and when that time comes, I’ll be one proud man.

And by the way, if after reading this one might wonder if I’m the OMB chairman, Edu Manzano, I wish but I’m definitely not. I’m just one concerned individual hoping to influence at least one. Yes, at least one who might influence another.

So are you the Man of Steal or not?

Rio and Gino

 “The owner doesn’t pick the car, the car picks its owner” – Transformers, The Movie

This week Rio and Gino captured my attention. Rio is good. Gino is bad.

My recent promotion gave us hope to start considering a new car. So last week, despite my nagging headache and pouring monsoon rain, we dropped by the car showrooms near our place. I never knew that the idea of picking a prospective car would be more exciting than I imagined. Nope these are not Jeremy Clarkson’s favorites, but new cars nonetheless.

We dropped by Toyota first and inside I noticed that the saleslady was attractive…err, the cars I mean. Unfortunately, the car model we are looking for wasn’t on display as the sales agent said that we actually dropped by just a day ahead of its launching date. So instead we were given a catalog and an invitation for the next day’s unveiling event. (We weren’t able to attend it.)

Our next stop was Kia. From outside the glass door, I peered at the red shiny car but with my mind playing images of the Top Gear’s hosts sneering at it. Then someone from the poorly lit office led us in for us to take a closer look at the Korean underdog.

It was then that we were introduced to and greeted by Rio—Kia’s 2007 subcompact model. (I learned later that it is this year’s COTY for its category). Upon closer look and subsequent discussion with the sales agent we realized that it is within the price range of Toyota Vios’ base model. What make it standout from its Toyota counterpart are its features–power locks, windows and yes, the engine. Based on these, it seems like it could give the Japanese manufacturer a run for their money. Well, it looks like Kia’s “The Power to Surprise” tagline is proving itself true.

A couple of days after that, I received an unexpected invitation to test drive it. And of course, I’m not that foolish to let such opportunity slip away. I was so excited that I arranged for it to be done first thing on a Tuesday morning. On that day, I arrived on time for the test drive and learned that I’ll be driving a silver automatic Rio. Actually, any color will do for me, but the red one on display would have been better.

Since it was my first time to drive an automatic transmission car, I had a couple of minutes familiarizing myself with its gear shift and getting used to the weird feeling that one pedal is missing. The rest after that went smoothly. The car performed great on rough roads and executed an almost seamless acceleration. It was sweet.

The drive ended at their factory as the dealer was kind enough to let me see the other color schemes and likewise try out the manual models. I think they’re really considering me as a potential buyer. I hope the same way too. Fingers crossed.

***

If Rio completed my week, Gino ruined it. My wife and I went south the other night to de-stress ourselves, have a beer, a pizza, and a bit of bonding time away from work and our humid home.

In Tagaytay, we were able to fulfill our long-time curiosity to see and feel how it is to be inside Café Lupe–a bar just a couple of steps away from Starbucks Coffee. It wasn’t that bad, but I’d rather go next time to Cowboy Barn in Robinson’s Dasma. The ambiance there is better and the band we’ve seen so far didn’t disappoint us. But that’s another story.

After a couple of hours inside the bar we checked out the view outside. One thing that amazes me most of the time I’m there is that I rarely get bored looking at the Taal lake from that vantage point be it on a sunny day, gloomy day, starry and/or moonlit night. Any condition has its own fascination to offer. Ah, life’s simple pleasures.

Unfortunately, these natural wonders are lately threatened by the irresponsible acts of man. Take for example Gino who happens to afford a Starbucks cappuccino but didn’t have the manners to throw his cup in a trash bin after enjoying his caffeine load. Grrr. Tado.

Well did I meet the man face to face? Nope. But the unlucky cup which my wife accidentally stepped upon while on threading on the gravel has his name written on it (too much CSI?). I’m now thinking, how many Ginos out there are making this irritating mistake? I know the answer and it’s a depressing thought.

If I’d be chosen to perform environmental vigilante jobs, I’d be happy to oblige and get those other Ginos out of this wonderful planet. (Evil smile). Dear lord, let there be more Rios and less Ginos, please.

Blog’s 1st Year

 

I can’t believe that a year has passed since I started writing and blogging. It was Aug 30, 2006 when I first got myself out of the couch, turned the TV off and approached my then lowly but dependable PC and started composing my Rockstar post. The result was actually surprising. I wrote one that actually made me pat myself on the back even with the uncertainty that grammatical errors could exist and await for one keen grammar Nazi’s eye or any smart elementary kid to take notice.

But there’s always something for encouragement to just do it. As if by coincidence our Daily Quote calendar has this for Aug 30: “A life spent making mistakes is not only honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing – George Bernard Shaw”. So timely, so appropriate. One more reason to make mistakes, or in this case, write blogs. I smiled and nodded when I read it. This calendar was given to me by my wife.

My wife. Two words that I’ve been including in most of my blogs either consciously or unconsciously . Well it’s no wonder, she’s the one who inspired and encouraged me to try writing. As far as I know, she is the leader of my few readers who visit my blogspot every now and then. My Technorati rank will attest to that – Rank: 3,915,745 . Ti abi.

The Ship is Sinking

 

After almost a week of rainfall due to tropical storm Chedeng I was amazed to see the sun once more yesterday. So instead of settling on my seat and trying to get some sleep while on the bus to work, I opened the curtains and tried to savor the afternoon sun.

I was anticipating an interesting ride all the way and was already imagining a beautiful sunset on the horizon. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Even if it did, I didn’t notice it anyway. My daydream unfortunately turned neither to fantasy nor something romantic. The sun rays instead opened my eyes to a depressing sight just a couple of meters from departure at the bus stop until I eventually got to work.

It was actually not the first time that I’ve been pondering on the state of our country every time I’m on my way to work. But yesterday I had a handful. Sadly, a handful of bad observations that made me ask the endless whys.

At the first intersection the lights turned red. I saw the pedestrian overpass’ construction is almost coming to its completion. And just while I was about to ask the cliché “will it ever be used?” a familiar ambulance siren grabbed my attention. Well, someone must be hurt. “God bless him,” I softly uttered as I usually do every time I hear one coming. The wish though was gone too soon. It wasn’t an ambulance but it was coming from scooter rider who sped by and turned left ignoring the red light and the police nearby. What’s more depressing, the police didn’t even made a fuss about it. Not even a radio call for help or an obvious effort to apprehend the erring driver. But then again, he may not even have a radio (or the balls to do so) at all. Speaking of being ill-equipped.

A couple of kilometers after the trip resumed, a colorful bunch of things came into view outside my window. I would really have wished it were blooming flowers yet not. It was a pile of plastic bags and trash irresponsibly tossed and accumulated on one corner of the road. Is poverty a good reason for this insensitive act? I just don’t think so.

I thought I was uncontrollably shaking my head in disgust when I realized it was actually the bus bouncing and weaving left and right of the road to avoid the potholes. Damn. One week of rain made all these? Blame it on the rain then? Milli Vanilli would have said it but not me. I’ve been honestly paying taxes and I know where and when some of it should be spent. Most likely somewhere out there, some politicians and/or contractors must be happily drinking booze and probably counting kickbacks. Screw the road. Cheers!

If it weren’t for the seat belt and the person beside me the preceding event would have sent me into a yoga stance right then and there. Now where is my golden sun? It’s getting dark outside. Figuratively and literally. As if all those weren’t enough, we got stuck in traffic. Another intersection maybe? Breathe in, breathe out. Stay calm. But it’s not. Just outside I saw several public jeepneys on the opposite lane idling and vying for passengers unmindful of the long queue of other vehicles behind them. So why is our lane stuck too? That’s because another mindless driver felt smart enough to counterflow. And surprisingly he isn’t a jeepney driver. He’s driving a shining Honda. He’s smartly dressed. I rest my case.

The sky outside was overcast when we reached the front gate of our campus. Despite the poor lighting the worsening condition of the facilities didn’t escape my eye. In photography, enthusiasts use filters and lenses to capture what they want to achieve. My eye and mind yesterday was like that. Only I didn’t do that on purpose. It was as if I have a “bad” filter that was meant to see…well, “bad” things. Paints are peeling off, roofs are rusting, and the once regularly well-trimmed lawn has weeds coming out from everywhere.

The people themselves changed a lot since then. I can count the people who got off the bus with enthusiasm to work for yet another day. The contractors around are working with incomplete PPEs. And a lot of bad sentiments are present anywhere I go. Something is just so wrong. Something must be done.

I got into some discussion with my co-workers about this and there was one phrase mentioned that struck me the most. “The boat is sinking”. Probably it is. Sadly, I’m in it. I’m sending an SOS.