Fair-Weather Values

Today’s welcoming bright morning sun seems to have little or no help at all to keep the bleak news from coming out of The Philippine Star news- paper into our breakfast table. Today’s headline: US Recession Looms. And what follows in the next articles and pages are just as frustrating if not scary.

“Layoffs spreading across corporate America”,”RP flunks US think tank’s corruption indicator, loses new funds”.

Switching to CNN didn’t help fan out the negativity either. It just brought more stories about people expected to be jobless and horrible stories of starvation and hopelessness in Zimbabwe. These somehow gave me some guilt while we eat breakfast in front of the TV and with me silently counting off another Sunday of being employed. How self-centered can I get when other people faces far more serious problem than I currently have.

Several more minutes of scanning the paper and watching the news, I realized how still lucky I am — to have brewed coffee, fresh hot pan de sal and another perfect omelet courtesy of wifey. I can imagine, during that very same moment, someone in the USA is being evicted out of his hard-earned home for not being able to pay it; some people in Zimbabwe are thinking where they’re going to get potable water in the next few hours or worse, others might even just die trying to find one, literally.

Well that’s just how sad the reality is nowadays. Being jobless is the “IN” thing. Starvation is inevitable. Bankruptcy is as frequent as before. In short, let’s face it, the world is in crisis.

And being in such predicament, I can’t help but wonder if my personal values would remain as is. The dilemma roaming inside my head just can’t be ignored.

Would I still have the same morals?

Would I still continue with my advocacies such as anti-piracy and environmentalism?

Would I still strive to do my best to drive with courtesy in mind?

Would I still continue to use the pedestrian lane?

Would I still refuse to bribe cops and government employees?

These are few questions that have lately come into consideration. Someone said before that during the worse situations our true character comes out. And so with this I will commit that I’m standing by with what I value most. The answer therefore to some of the questions I have will be yes.

Yes, I will continue…

…To respect my parents and elders. I will still be around to look after them. I will call them as often as I can even if that means that I have to stop sending nonsense SMS to friends to save on prepaid load.

…To respect and be courteous and rational in treating cashiers, janitors, saleslady, waiters, drivers and other blue-collared employees who offer their services to me. Who knows, I might be working with them soon.

…To say no to piracy no matter how hard the urge to buy these things in the name of saving (at the expense of other people).

…To be courteous on the road. And avoid, or at least try not to, honking my horn unnecessarily. (This is another topic deserving another blog entry. I can see wifey smiling.)

…To cross the road using the pedestrian lane even if I’m in a hurry for a job interview.

…To reject the temptation to deal with any form of fixers even if this means delaying the start-up of my small business.

Right now it may be easier said than done. But also right now, I’m saying it out loud as my commitment. As much as I hate fair-weather friends, I hate having fair-weather values.

How about you?

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Playing With God

I was born with a very pious mother and I can very well remember how much we’ve been taught about religion. I was in a catholic school from elementary to high school and praying has been way of life. From my mother at home to the nuns and brothers at school, the reminder “Thou shall not use God’s name in vain” echoes all the time.

It may sound blasphemous to most devout catholic but I think that always considering God as a very serious god could sometimes ruin our relationship with him. How many times have we heard and have seen people (including myself) get so upset with unfavorable events and immediately point the blame to God. Most get so uptight in situations– no matter how minor – wherein we feel that God is testing us if we can maintain a resolute faith despite facing trials at some point of our lives.

But have we really ever wondered if God tried playing with us? Yes, just like having a known strict parent who for no reason at all grabs one of your toys and just try to be really playful with you. Well, I do wonder right now.

It started yesterday afternoon when I decided to wash our car after I saw that chances of having rain was nil. I did the washing in a very diligent manner and I wiped the car dry just short of getting it polished and shined. I was tired and sweaty when I finished the whole thing and was so proud of what I accomplished. About an hour later, however, rain poured hard like a bad joke coming from the heavens.

After a couple of seconds of being offended, I ended smiling. Why? Because I had this funny imagination that God must have been staring down at me and was observing me the whole time I was washing the car. I feel like he was trying to have some light moments with me to break the series of serious yet silent “discussions” with him for the past several days already.

That short and witty moment got me thinking until I went to sleep late that night. It added another “What if God…” questions in my mind. It opened a new mindset of how God communicates to us. I think that sometimes it may help a lot if we view God in a different perspective from what we’ve been taught about him. Maybe, just maybe, sometimes to make his presence known he sets aside being a serious God. And sometimes we need to consider that he may be trying to reach out to us in a lighter way. This way, it eases the burden we are experiencing and we begin to communicate with him more candidly and thus creating a more effective way of discussion – in the form of prayer, of course.

The questions now linger: What if God wants to play with us? How do we deal with it? Will our short temper flare? What if a divine clean joke may be what we need to improve our relationship with the one we’ve always known as God? Are you game?

***

I got a forwarded email from one friend today that required me to forward it to 10 persons. Guess what it is? If you answered spam, give yourself a pat on the back. It reminded me of my Chain Game blog.

***

The frequently used words for me lately are God, jobs, baby, food, money and yes, also “words.” So I’m once again amused to find out when I saw that Monday’s AWAD (A. Word. A. Day) had this:

epeolatry – noun: (ep-i-OL-uh-tree) The worship of words.

I’m imagining someone kneeling in front of the word, WORD. Now that’s just weird. But weirder was Tuesday’s AWAD entry:

univocalic – noun: (yoo-niv-uh-KAL-ik) A piece of writing that uses only one of the vowels.

adjective: Using only one vowel.

And also included in that daily mail is this: “CONTEST: Imagine you are a headline writer for a newspaper back in the days when metal type was used. You have run out of all but one of the vowels in the large type size that is used for the headline. What univocalic can you come up with? Email your univocalic news headlines (real or made-up) to (words at wordsmith.org). Selected entries will be featured in the weekly compilation AWADmail and the best entry will win an autographed copy of my latest book DORD. Deadline is Friday Oct 17”

I was so eager to try my hands on this contest and I was surprised how easy it can get. Here are some of my own headline creations for each vowel:

A.

Man And Angst = War.

E.

Sheep Herd Entered Cells. Press’ News Went Berserk.

I.

City Inn Hid Tiny Mic. Irks Indy Kid.

O.

Moon Got Odd. Only Old Owls Hoot.

U.

Gypsy’s Hut Shuts. Urn Put Up.

Oh, before I forget. I sent one of the made-up headlines above. I want that DORD book. So please make your own headline in case you want it too. Do not copy.

***

 

There’s a Word for it

Words don’t come easy

I’ve been one of the subscribers of wordsmith.org and its recent theme has been quite interesting. Last week is about words that surprisingly refer to something you thought never existed. The words are so new that even MS Word 2007 does not recognize it, hence the red crooked line underneath it when typed. Here’s a couple:

hypergelast – noun: (hy-PUHR-ji-last) One who laughs excessively (like me?)

skeuomorph – noun: (SKYOO-uh-morf) A design feature copied from a similar artifact in another material, even when not functionally necessary. For example, the click sound of a shutter in an analog camera that is now reproduced in a digital camera by playing a sound clip.

serein – noun: (suh-RAN [the second syllable is nasal]) Fine rain falling from an apparently cloudless sky, typically observed after sunset.

This week’s theme is getting more interesting – Words about words, it’s like work about work, which reminds me…

Working for the unemployed

I learned some time last week that there are actually jobs that cater to the unemployed or soon-to-be unemployed. Now how cool is that job especially now that the U. S. economy is on a rapid decline. And out of my wild thoughts, I came up with some other jobs that may thrive during this economic slump:

  1. Psychologists (or shrink) that help people recover from one career transition to
  2. Lawyers who assist to employees’
  3. Plastic products They range from cling wraps, bubble packs, and to other packing materials intended to safe keep machines in warehouses. I believe they also make hard hats.
  4. Paper Do termination papers and envelopes sound familiar? Yes they make those.
  5. Paracetamol These days to come will surely be headache days.
  6. Bloggers. You know what I mean, right?
  7. Hobby and Sports shops. With some severance pays coming in just like winning lotto, new unemployed persons will come in throngs to check what’s for them to kill time while on a job hunt. Hmm. I think I need new badminton rackets this time.

Last Smashing Tournament

Smashing! At least I’d like to believe so but it wasn’t the case. Last week, we joined what seems to be the last badminton tournament for our company. No wonder most were smashing their way to victory. It was pent up energies turned into whipping racket hits.

I had my own reserved energies supposedly to be unleashed during the game but my partner and I fell short of expectations and got smashed instead. We’ve been playing for quite some time but not as partners in men’s doubles game and to mention that we’re placed in level B (reasons, excuses). Additionally, I paid the price for my 3-week layoff from badminton. We just did not have the chemistry; we did not have the play; and we got in the zone too late to win a game. Don’t get me wrong though, as surprisingly we enjoyed the later part of the matches despite losing twice in a row. Next time we will do better. We promised to play under the bum team. Is 365 days of practice, enough?

The next day of the tournament was better. My partner played again, this time in mixed doubles game. They played well enough that they scored a couple of points higher than the other team by the middle of the first game. Unfortunately, game pressure took its toll and both committed more errors as the game progresses. Another loss.

badmintonflight
Level A flight?

The second game was another story. They soon find their coordination and won. Not bad.  I was their self-proclaimed coach. Hahaha.

Noli
“Insider” badminton player.

The Rain and the Road

Several days this week have been rainy and each time presents random memories.

Baptismal by Rain

Thursday. I commuted to work on my motorcycle. Unfortunately, when I headed back home the sky went dark and the threat of rain became a reality–my first time to get caught in the rain while on a motorcycle. I was almost soaked midway of my trip and the laptop in my backpack forced me to seek shelter. While waiting for the rain to stop, I had flashbacks of days when times like this doesn’t matter. As long as we’re with our bikes, sunny days and rainy days seem to be just the same. I miss the carefree days when we’d be racing in the rain and bunny-hopping puddles oblivious to the dangers such as riding without a helmet or any other body protection. Back then it was just our bikes and us, no worries.

freestyle days
Good old bike days.

Star Tollway

Friday was another rainy road trip. After dropping by work earlier than usual and then driving to Sto. Tomas, Batangas to meet my brother-in-law and his wife for an urgent and stressful meeting, I decided it was the perfect time and reason to hit the long road again to relax. Thanks to the scarcity of the road signs and markers in the Star Toll way, I missed the exit to Lipa  which made me decide to go straight towards Batangas City as the rest of Star Toll way’s well-paved highway made me achieve 120 KPH with almost no effort at all.

star tollway
This is noontime.

The long and fast drive sent me back to a mixture of memories and imagination. I began to remember Kuala Lumpur’s road wherein Mercedes Benz and compact cars are as ubiquitous as our Jeepneys. I also recalled my dream-like trip from Wisconsin to Madison which until now I can’t believe I was there for a moment in my life.  This also reminded me of disaster movies. The whole horizon was covered with thin nimbus clouds that it was easy to forget it was just noontime then.

After lunch in SM Batangas, we started our way back home around 4 PM. The drive turned out not to be uneventful. We had a near miss when some guy placed an improvised spike on the middle of Star Toll way. Good thing I noticed him doing something fishy and I remembered from motoring forum threads that this modus operandi is being done by some vulcanizing guys to get customers. I was doing 100 KPH and had that spike punctured our tire, some funeral homes will for sure profit from that a**hole’s enterprising scheme.

Sta. Rosa Exit

highway works
Believe it or not, this is South Luzon Expressway.

That Friday wasn’t meant to be SSDD. After dropping Noel and Lani back in Sto. Tomas, my wife and I took another route home to Cavite. I’ve had enough of bad roads and I won’t mind another long drive. So we took the Sta. Rosa exit instead of Carmona. This route has been in construction for a couple of months already and even to those familiar with it may find it dangerous especially at night.

Carmona road
Segment of Carmona Road. Road repair almost invisible at night. Beware.

But all’s not so dark and gloomy. Somewhere in the middle of our trip while tuned in to Magic 89.9′s Friday Magic program, I heard a familiar name greeted by another familiar name. Hahaha. It was my wife who sent an SMS greeting for me over the radio. She’s done it several times in the past which still surprises me every time.

The last time we passed the Sta. Rosa route was more than a year ago and we still have our cute Kia Pride that time. Nothing has changed so far but at least it’s better than keeping my eye open for road under repair signs (or the lack of it) in Carmona. An obvious improvement though is noticeable right after we reached Tagaytay. Now, large portions of the road have a dividing line between two lanes. Years ago, one has to drive with wide eyes open and lights in full beam to survive. At least, some of our public works officials finally(!) acted on this problem. I’m just wondering though who (or how many) got into an accident for this to happen. I just hope he’s a politician.

 

In Pursuit of Happyness, Live…

I’m watching In Pursuit of Happyness right now and this is my second time after we watched it in the big screen months ago. I have a list of movie favorites that I’d love watching over and over again but this one is not among those. Funny though that this time I’m paying attention.

Since this is like reporting a news live from the scene, I’m taking notes as much as I can and will feed it as soon as possible just like our national news (ABS-CBN and GMA alike) reports trivial things such a fallen motorcycle rider in North Luzon Expressway as if people down in Mindanao cares.

“You’re live in 1, 2….” Good evening, here are some fascinating facts I captured anew from this movie re-run in HBO:

  1. The main character’s name is Chris (played by WillSmith) like mine.
  2. He has a Rubik’s Cube and solved it after several minutes with a potential employer inside the taxi Well, I hate to brag but I can do better. Hahaha. So I’m now considering writing in my resume, the following:

Other Skills:

  • Can write
  • Can solve the Rubik’s Cube in 3 minutes or less
  1. He is jobless. Hmm. Not me…yet.
  2. DOS (I noticed that office computers have the green screen) is the “IN” thing then, just like Windows Vista is today.
  3. Sometimes, using the words probably and possibly might have a different To prove this I checked my trusted sources, MS Word’s synonym feature and www.m-w.com. The former shows that possibly is synonymous with probably. M-W.com however clearly defines that the two are somehow different from one another. Note to self: I will probably find a job soon–all fingers and toes crossed.
  4. Chris’ son inspired him to strive more. TBD, for (Trivia: Real life father and son, Will and Jaden Smith played the role of father and son in this movie.)

In the end, Chris’ pursuit of happyness came true. After all his hard work, embarrassment and perseverance, he founded the Gardner Rich and had a stake at a multi-million dollar company.

By the way, Chris ended as a broker…

 

Riding With Journey

On my way out from work this afternoon I noticed weather wasn’t so motorcycle-friendly. Dark clouds dominated the skyline, rain poured hard, road was soaked. Times like this I appreciate the fact that I got a car to drive. So I was thinking then, what would be a great driving music to go along with the wet ride home? Lo and behold, some Rock ‘n Roll CD, Journey: Revelation.

Journey
Filipinos, buy the original please! (Photo: music.aol.com)

We bought this album last week and I have played it right after to figure out if it was worth it. Then this afternoon’s gloomy weather made the perfect setting for me to listen to it more again. The cool and humid breeze completed the nostalgia.

The steadfast steering wheel of the Honda seems to vanish right out of my grip all of a sudden. The illuminated dashboard gauges began to blur and faded all the way. The feeling of firmly seated in the driver’s seat and the security of the seat belt gone as well. I cared less every minute the Journey CD plays as if giving in to an unforeseen force.

With each track of the CD playing one after the other, I found myself inside a rather boxy vehicle with both of my hands holding the bar on top of my head. I can feel the blaring of the 15-inch speakers located right under my upholstered seat and with its heavy bass thumping and the high treble trying to cope up while some rock band send spine-chilling riffs. The black lights inside made the white shirts around me glow like some magic tricks thus enhancing the out-of-this-world sensation. I tried to peek out to check where on earth I’m currently at and I soon realized that the speeding vehicle has its windows wide open. Another head movement and I can see that its rear door is likewise ajar like those in airplanes with skydivers waiting for the red light to go green. Turning my gaze in front, I see a long-haired driver carelessly enjoying the music while speeding past sugarcane-filled trucks. So where was I exactly? Well, in a jeepney and I’m in tattered jeans, faded shirt and a pair of scuffed Chuck Taylor shoes.

College days once again.

And that’s the effect this Journey CD has on me. The classic rhythm of guitars, drums and keyboards blasted me right back to the past. The vocals this time though isn’t from the band’s original vocalist anymore. It’s now Arnel Pineda, a pure Filipino talent who despite small, relative to the other band members, has such powerful voice well comparable to the original vocalist, Steve Perry.

Arnel’s rendition of most of the original Journey songs is almost on point. And hearing those I would call melodic shriek made me wonder if the myth that tight leather pants do make Rock ‘n Rollers achieve that impossible pitch could be true. Go figure.

After listening to almost everything over and over again, I could conclude that Arnel did a really good job in his first album with Journey. Except for Open Arms (CD 2 track 9) which in my opinion is a disappointment because I actually don’t know if Arnel tried to impose his own singing style in this song by deviating to what was done by Steve. If he did, well, I just don’t like it or maybe I’ll get used to it soon. Anyway, before the Pineda fans start throwing thrash emails, I’d like to say that of all the 23 songs in the album (CD 1 and 2 combined), this is the only song that I’m having second thoughts listening to again. Other than this, the rest are just perfect for those who love the classic Rock ‘n Roll feel.

My personal favorites in this album are: Never Walk Away, Let It Take You Back, Only the Young, and of course, Faithfully. I love this last song a lot that it had me clicking on the disk player’s repeat track button several times while hopelessly trying to sing along with it in the confines of our car and probably to the ire of the Wisconsin football team bobhead. Poor guy it’s been bouncing up in down, front and back that I snapped out of my in-the-jeepney-ride nostalgia.

Tomorrow, it might rain again; I might have to cover bobhead with a hanky this time for my full uninterrupted journey with Journey back to the past.

 

Itsy Bitsy Sunday

There are so many things going on inside my head that posting tid bits of info would be best for today. So before I dig into the fridge and search what’s for lunch, here we go.

Short term and long term plans

As I’m finally counting down to the inevitable bumhood, I now have the following plans:

Short term:

  1. Prep up the sofa for employment
  2. Polish the remotes (TV, audio, aircon).
  3. Upgrade the PC
  4. Blog, blog, and blog.

Long term:

  1. Learn, learn, and learn how to raise a kid.
  2. Fix the leak in the roof.
  3. Find a job.

***

Writer’s cramp

While reading my favorite newspaper, The Philippine Star, I can’t help but notice that Francis J. Kong and Bum D. Tenorio, Jr. just posted email clippings for most of their articles. These two are among the daily’s writers whose articles I usually read before the others. Sometimes, however, it intrigues me to see them cut and paste forwarded emails as if just to make the required word count and get paid for it. Is this their workaround to writer’s cramp?

***

Philippine F1, anyone?

The recent F1 Singapore which is F1′s first night race shut my hopes for the Philippines to get significant publicity over our Asian neighbors. Well, I’d like to help raise this bid to conquer the F1 scene like nobody has done before. Why not have the first real live F1 street race in the Philippines. This time there would be no modification on the roads or clearing up of vehicles on the streets. Imagine how these F1 cars perform against our buses, jeepneys, some mad motorcycle drivers and our suicidal jaywalkers.

Paging FIA, interested? Oh by the way, no more G. H. Mumm ceremony, let’s use San Miguel Grande beer at the podium.

***

Misery loves company

There are days I would ponder if who else got problems besides me. Here are some of the people and their problems they’re facing right now.

George Bush: America’s economy. If this doesn’t make one stutter, what will?

Benjie de Lara: A 6-year-old boy with a fourth stage cancer. Want to help? Contact his mother Elenita at 09293289591 or donate thru the Star’s Operation Damayan. Call 527-7901 and look for Millet Dioso.

Filipino veterans: They’re not getting their pensions. I assume that one American congressman’s grandfather might have been in hand to hand combat with a Filipino during the Filipino-American war.

Senator Manny Villar: Questionable double funding for a C5 project. So what’s new? I think he can handle that.

Chinese milk manufacturers: Does Melamine rings a bell? And count me in as one of those angry at this SNAFU. Now I’d have to think twice before I eat my favorite White Rabbit candy. At least the female cows in China are free from breast suction gadgets for the meantime. The male cows I know are now smiling broadly. Mooooo.

Fat policemen: The new PNP chief Jesus Versoza is out to revive fitness consciousness to these pugad baboy characters. Any tremors on the next few weeks won’t come from below. Its origin will most likely be from PNP camps around the nation.

Philippine Olympians: Most of the officials are staying put especially Aventajado who is running for another term as the Philippine Olympic Committee’s chairman. Where was he when our athletes went down on bended knees during the recent Beijing Olympics? I bet Aventajado was beside the Chinese team during the awarding thinking that these are our tsinoy delegates.

Jessica Zafra: Her laptop keyboard is filled with cat fur. I’d like this to be my problem.

Tanya T. Lara: Sunburn while in Manhattan. Let this one also be mine.

Obama and McCain: Waiting game for the U. S. presidential seat.

Kimi Raikkonen: Hated the rain. Hated the night race. My wife still likes him though. Is this a sign that I should block all Kimi tags and searches in our computer? Damn, she’s got her own laptop.

Tingting Cojuangco: Freaking out over wrinkles and Alzheimer’s.

Lucy Torres-Gomez: Misses having dates with Richard Gomez. Hmm.

Hagar: Helga

Archie: Veronica and Betty

Mr. Wilson: Dennis theMenace

Hey, I must have skipped the other sections and got stuck in the Philstar’s comic section. The last three people I posted with problems are comic characters. Sorry about that. Time to have lunch.