At Work On Christmas

I’m now officially one of the Grinches. After 13 years of landing a job, last night was the first time I reported to work on a Christmas Eve. Normally during this time of the year, I’d either be in Bacolod or Batangas celebrating Christmas with my family. But change would happen and this year that big change came. My new job function left me no choice but to stand by it and be at work. Technically, to be a role model. Ahem.

So yesterday afternoon I had mixed emotions coming to work. I was excited for this first time event in my profession; and at the same time I was uneasy and sad that I’d be celebrating my Christmas eve without my wife or family with me but with my peers and people instead.

When I arrived at our plant I was surprised that it was relatively festive. The sight of employees with bags of gifts added to the holiday atmosphere. The smiles and greetings were unwavering and infectious. Whatever the reasons for the jolly characters were, I knew I’m surrounded by good aura for the rest of the graveyard shift.

Everything went the usual way just like any ordinary day when work kicked in. I was actually thinking I could be a nurse, a pilot, a fireman, a security guard or a doctor on call or any other personnel who is expected to work even during the holidays. I felt like I’m not missing a big event or a love one anymore. Well, not yet.

Break time came and a special dinner for all the manufacturing employees was served. The special meal was accented even more by a special dinner table setting. We’d be eating with candlelight. So by this time I was becoming even more convinced that working that night won’t be a big beal. I was even starting to enjoy it. The presence of the lechon worked like a charm.

Right after dinner, I was back on my desk doing routine tasks when I heard someone mentioned, ”Sir Christmas na po (Sir it’s Christmas already).” That’s when I glanced at the wall clock to see that it has just struck midnight. The greetings around the production line competed with the humming equipment and audible alarms. I returned the merry wishes but caught myself faking a smile. I suddenly felt sad. I felt a lump in my throat. I tried to contain myself. In a snap of a finger I missed everyone at home.

Probably this experience will stay with me until the next year. The feeling of having to choose between work and being with my loved ones would be a big dilemma. Something’s got to give. And whoever said before that “Work is just a slice of life, it’s not the whole pizza” is mostly someone who can afford to sacrifice that slice. Unfortunately I don’t have the pleasure of doing so. When that day comes I’d be the happiest.

 

Advertisements

Car-less Guy’s Random Thoughts

“An empty mind is a devil’s workshop” — Anonymous

Frankly, having without a car made me a bit uneasy especially now that the Christmas season is coming in fast. I miss going to the malls with my wife not worrying if we’re going to squeeze our butts in just to get seated in the jeepney for being the last two to get in. I miss the gift-buying activity not wondering how and where we’d place all the shopping bags. I miss going home late coming from a good movie. I miss getting stuck in traffic with me on the wheel and not having to think if my nose has clogged due to smog, smoke and dust whichever comes first or all of it combined. I miss waking up a bit late and not worrying that I’ll miss the bus to work. I miss the freedom a car gives me.

To shake off self pity I tried keeping my mind busy while being a passenger on a bus, in a jeepney or a friend’s car. With defensive driving out of my worries, my thoughts have wandered more. I became observant of other things I can’t see or think of while behind the wheel. I became more keen with what is outside the vehicle’s window. During these unproductive moments random thoughts settle in my head.

Why would charity parties intended to benefit the hungry street children are in lavish settings with overpriced food and normally attended by botoxed personalities. Can’t these people just give right away to charity? Or do they really need the TV and photo coverage to make it happen?

Why does a billboard going to Tagaytay show Inteligent Auto Paint Shop. Does its owner have good explanation behind the name? Is it humor, a play on words, an honest mistake, or an uninteligent slip?

Why would management of Coolmaster Airconditioing Expert allow its employees to be packed out in the open at the back of a wobbly pickup truck under a high noon heat. (We were on our way to a Christmas party and the sight of it drained away my holiday mood.)

Why would an official municipal vehicle with the words Responsableng Taong Bayan (responsible people of the community) illegally park along  Muntinlupa‘s road.

Why is it when majority is anticipating to travel by air during this Christmas season is also when Discovery Channel and National Geographic show programs such as Air Crash Investigation and Air Disasters. Either people from these shows hate Christmas travel or own a stock in the shipping industry. Out of curiosity searched Wikipedia and the result? December is not the highest among the statistics. At least not among the top three. (Data were extracted and tabulated using excel’s countif formula and sorted from lowest to highest.) Whew!

aircraft20incidents_zpsg6ujg5xr

Lastly, I don’t get it why the brandy I’ve been drinking since I bought it has kept me awake. I guess it’s about time I check the fine print on its label. I’d be damned if it contains caffeine. But then again my subconscious must be working on something else and wants me to stay up late. Something I should be thinking more with Christmas day only three days to go.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone especially to you wifey. I really miss you!!

Golf for Me?

I couldn’t agree more when DJ Mo Twister asked the question on radio if golfers should be considered athletes. I hate the game just the same. Who in his right mind would hit a small white ball to make it fly so far away and just to follow it where it falls right after and to repeat the whole process over and over again. Yes, golfers alone.

I’d like to make a point with a list why  I dislike this game.

  1. Golf for me is just a rich man’s pastime. The equipment set can be a minimum wage earner’s one month pay.
  2. I agree that golf courses are an environmental wreck. Don’t be fooled by the greenery and lakes around it. As far as I know, it takes more water just to maintain the grasses.
  3. I have this prejudice that most golfers are snobs.
  4. I find it boring.

But tonight I caught myself staring at the ongoing PGA tour. If it’s a rerun, I don’t care. It now appears once again that never generalize still proves to be right.

Just outside the badminton court where we frequent recently is a golf driving range. So while cooling down right after an intense racket game the whacking sound of the iron hitting the balls got my attention. I looked closer at what was happening and for some reason it was somewhat hypnotic.

What fascinated me firstly was how the white dimpled balls can go and accelerate higher as if something was pulling it upwards and drop it as far as 200 meters. The form likewise looks intriguing as the instructor keeps on telling his student to always do a follow through right after every hit.

I’ve seen golf games on TV before but this time I discovered it more technical. The way a player swings the iron; the design and technology behind the equipment; the way each golf club affects the flight and range of the ball; and of course the design of each golf course. Now I wonder if the day would come when I’d be able to whack at least one golf ball in the driving range. Remember? Rich man’s game. Wake up.

By the way, I was drinking brandy while watching the tour on TV. So I don’t know if it must be the alcohol or the idea of whacking something that got me to appreciate the game in the first place. Whatever it is, I’m starting to love this game.

Step In Their Shoes

 We call them stupid, litterbugs, lazy, morons, dumb, a**hole and any other names that may not be even found in the dictionary. Sometimes we call them just insensitive. But aren’t we? This week is one of the stressful weeks for me. Stress that comes from all sort of factors that even I wonder if I should be caring about it in the first place.

There’s the pressure from work that is a mixture of delivery and people management. People who seem not to work and don’t understand what is expected from them.

There’s the tricycle driver who drives like as if there’s no tomorrow and would be so willing to include you in their death wish.

There’s the jeepney driver who would intentionally park in front of a No Park Zone to spend time to wait for passengers despite knowingly causing a traffic jam right behind them. And the irony of it all is that it is in front of a traffic police or enforcer who looks like they have the worst case of cataract that blinds them of an ongoing violation.

There’s the homeowner who refuses to pay his dues because he feels that he is not obligated to do so and who would sometimes reason out that he has problems with finances but you’d find him smoking packs of cigarettes a day and would see his house lit brightly with Christmas lights and decors.

There’s the loan processor who doesn’t seem to extend a bit of customer care by giving advice to the applicant that his car loan application is sitting stagnant in his inbox for quite some time due to the lack of one simple signature.

And there are the street scavengers who would open up garbage bags and throw away its content in search of recyclables and never even caring to fix it back thus creating an eye sore in the process.

Sheesh. The list goes on.

So today, while on a day off I keep reflecting what must have gone wrong for me to suffer such stress. I can’t find any reason except that I too have been busy or that I could have been too self-centered or that I just lack  empathy.

Merriam-Webster defines empathy as”noun, the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”

Ouch! I never knew Merriam-Webster could inflict such slap in the face. I only experience such guilt during mass’ homilies. Understanding. Being aware of. Being sensitive to. Such words played in mind just as caffeine would do to my bloodstream. It kept me awake, restless and uneasy.

Well, I have come up to some realization on my stress list. There must be a reason for each.

Just imagine not having eaten for quite a while and the only hope you’ve got is to pick and sell items at the junk shop in order for you to take your first meal after a couple of days. And with the other man inside the bus hating you just because you to failed to keep the street clean.

Imagine if you have to juggle payroll, separation payments and loan applications. Some want their last pay and another one badly wants a new car.

Imagine if you have got a really sick kid at home and the only way to buy those medicines is to work double time by either driving a tricycle or a jeepney and optimize its capacity even with the risk of getting apprehended by a police officer. And one of your passengers is just thinking of traffic laws and having to get to the mall to kill time.

Sometimes the world would be such better place if we stop thinking just all about us. Sometimes we need to understand why people act the way they do. With this we might be able to extend our help or at least lessen a bit of our expectations and in effect lessen the stresses in our lives. Sometimes we just have to step in their shoes.

****

P.S. I just can’t find any reason why a homeowner won’t pay their dues when in fact they are getting the benefits of the village funds. Ti abi.

 

Like Writers and Photographers

“…I remember coming home a few days after EDSA 1 and playing it on the piano without interruption, and completing this five minute song in an unbelievable two minutes. How was that possible, if the song takes five minutes to sing…” – Jim Paredes

Athletes call it the playing the zone. It is the level where most play their best games and the performance continues as soon as they get into it and ends until they tire themselves out. Similarly, this applies to everything we do, day in and day out. There are times when we spontaneously do something without even having to think about it, when everything just seems fluid. Even doing a simple household chore has its own zone.

This must be why all of a sudden there’s that void of well-composed photos on my multiply.com network. Just a few months back there was a barrage of spectacular pictures coming from my online buddies but lately it seems no one has posted much or not one has shot anything worthy to be considered photography. Hopefully, their pricey Canon SLRs aren’t sitting in a corner, collecting molds and dusts.

This is also true with bloggers and reviewers. I miss the days when I’d read write ups so nice that I’d wonder if the man behind the harmony of words are pro incognito or just plain individuals like me who don’t have the bucks to purchase expensive cameras and therefore decided to write instead. While creativity is involved, this is what sets the two hobbies or pastimes apart. Photography enthusiasts need at least a high-end SLR while all bloggers need is just an intangible idea.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed some of my previous (more than a year ago) posts and some made me smile and pat myself on the back, while some not so much. My only consolation is that my blog traffic isn’t so high thereby reaching only a few unlucky individuals. Having no proofreader or editor is my ultimate alibi.

But I still remember the times when I’d write better (as far as I’m concerned),  when I’d feel like I’m immersed in the zone. These are when a favorite music either plays in the background or just inside my head. I think the rhythm does something with the composition especially if it goes with the emotions behind the idea that is set at that very moment. My keyboard becomes the piano sans  the melody.

Even the people I admire and envy for having been gifted enough to possess such wonderful talents in both literature and photography, such as Jim Paredes and James Deakin don’t come free from blunders. I’ve read and seen some of their works and I can’t help but think “Hey, this isn’t them” or “Did they really do this?” But then, these are busy guys and the pressure of the deadlines sometimes affects the outcome.

With Christmas season getting nearer each day, work activities piling up, vacations to consider, parties to attend to are all joining our already chaotic schedule, I still hope that people could still find time to focus and be in the zone. Let those great articles come  back again and let those lenses capture the beauty of everyday life.

One of the Haters

Don’t you just hate it? This is the title of Lester Dizon’s article two days ago in the Motoring section of Philstar.com. Most of the time I visit this site to check reviews of places to go, people behind the motoring scenes, and of course test drive reports from the stereotyped Korean vehicles to the dream cars such as the BMWs and Subarus–most of the time I’d wonder who happens to afford such luxury in this third world country. Hopefully, none of them are politicians.

Anyway, when I read this one yesterday, I can’t help but share it. (If by any chance this reaches the original author, please advise if you want this blog modified or removed)

“Don’tyou just hate it when you get stuck in rush hour traffic and see some MMDA traffic enforcers just chatting at their posts and the only thing they could do to direct traffic is to lazily wave their hands?

Don’tyou hate it more when, to cope with the spiraling fuel prices, you trade your mid-sized sedan for a sub-compact car only to find that they consume the same amount of fuel because of the heavy traffic?

Don’tyou hate it even more when, to cope with the spiraling fuel prices and to get through the heavy traffic, you trade your car for a motorcycle only to get stuck in a traffic gridlock caused by floods and a sudden downpour at a time when you didn’t bring your raincoat because PAGASA predicted good weather?

Don’tyou just hate it when some driving schools seemingly teach their stu- dents the wrong driving habits like driving slowly on the fast lane and park- ing against the flow of traffic among other traffic violations?

Don’tyou hate it even more when most of the instructors of these driving schools aren’t even certified and that their students contribute to the grow- ing number of discourteous and undisciplined drivers on the road today? Don’t you just hate it when jeepneys, FX taxis and tricycles use the corner of a busy intersection as their terminals and block traffic for more than a kilometer?

Don’tyou hate it more when these jeepneys, FX taxis and tricycles use that corner as their terminal and cause traffic under the watchful eye of an MMDA, police or a local traffic enforcer? Don’t you just hate it when heavily-tinted vehicles with the number “8” on their front plates, which are reserved for congressmen, bully their way through traffic using their sirens, the unauthorized use of which in vehicles other than ambulances, fire trucks and police cars in an emergency has been declared unlawful by the Presi- dent in an Executive Order? Don’t you hate it even more that some of these heavily-tinted vehicles with sirens and the number “8” on their front plates are not actually driven or ridden by congressmen but by their immediate families, their staff or by cronies, who act as if they were the ones elected to public office?

Don’tyou hate it even more when Congress needed to “remind” the LTO through a press conference about the unauthorized use of these number “8” plates and the apprehension of drivers using these official plates instead of purging their ranks of abusive congressmen, congressional personnel, family members and cronies?

Don’tyou just hate it when a government VIP convoy consisting of a heavily-tinted vehicle with flashing lights and sirens, two back-up vehicles filled with armed goons and a couple of motorcycle police escorts bully their way through traffic and violate all known traffic laws that they were sworn to protect and obey?

Don’tyou hate it even more when this bullying VIP convoy is merely escort- ing an abusive government official or a crony to his luxurious home, which was funded from the corrupted taxes of the road users they bullied along the way, just so they can get through the heavy traffic that they caused with their graft and ineptness anyway?

Don’t you hate it even more when these road projects are merely repairs or repaving of existing roads and not the design and construction of new ones to alleviate the worsening traffic in the metropolis and the slow traffic flow around the country, which is choking trade, commerce and the national economy?

Don’t you just hate it when Thailand and Vietnam had licked most of their traffic problems with the construction of new roads or multi-tiered highways and are on the road to economic strength while we couldn’t even get our anomalous road repairs done right?

Don’t you hate it more when Singapore and Malaysia are implementing plans to combat the greenhouse effect of air pollution while the bright boys at MMDA are cutting down healthy trees, which can help minimize air pollution, because these plants “interfere” with the overhead electrical wires and cables?”

Well Mr. Dizon, include me as one of the haters. And of course your article awakened some more personal hatred.

Don’t you just hate it when you hear that Vietnam and Malaysia’s economy is growing while some of the senators are trying to become either CSIs (by doing investigations, most of it fruitless) or hotel wreckers instead of enticing investors for the benefit of every Filipino?

Don’t you just hate it even more when these countries pose a threat to your job as your company builds more factories there while the one they have here in the Philippines gets ignored?

Don’t you just hate it when you’ve been reading the motoring section religiously when in fact you don’t even own a car yet?

Don’t you hate it even more that because of the bickering of these politicians, your chance of owning a car gets slimmer and slimmer?

Patience, patience, patience my friend.

Circus Now Showing on TV

“A nation that forgets its past is doomed to repeat it.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“Ang hindi marunong tumingin sa pinanggalingan hindi makararating sa paroroonan.” – JR

I was coming from our last graveyard shift this week and upon waking up from a 4-hour deep slumber courtesy of the rain and cold weather, I switched on the TV and was surprised by what I saw. I must still be dreaming. Did the cable channel provider changed programming?  Am I on the History channel? Did my remote control conk out?

While trying to make senses of what’s on the tube, the Live caption on the side of the screen made me realize that what I’m watching is indeed happening real time. Standing in front of the camera is Sen. Trillanes flanked by some personnel, a priest who became famous for running, and a lady thanking the media for their perseverance to stay despite the tear gas bombardment–she doesn’t have to say that, these guys will stay like leeches even if a bomb is about to explode.

This scene greeted me from my wonderful siesta like a post-sleep nightmare. Here we go again. Fill in the blanks: EDSA (type number here).

Besides being pissed by what is actually happening hundreds of kilometers from where I am, I recalled of a then angry Jim Paredes’ post Equal Right to Lawlessness on his blog site wherein I placed the commented: “Jim, so what’s next? Edsa 4?”

 Just like Neo who suspects that a déjà vu occurs when someone is tweaking the Matrix, me thinks that someone out there is calmly running his fingers through the rim of a rum glass, massaging his bearded chin just as this event progresses and most likely while doing a revision of his master plan–conspiracy theories entertain me.

I hate to say this but it looks like we are a bunch of people with 64kb memory–we forget too soon.

***

I’m tired of seeing on TV a cliche of events that would humble even the plot of the telenovelas:

  1. People get angry at the President
  2. TRAPOs gather
  3. People + TRAPOs oust the President
  4. TRAPOs hug and attend mass with bishops.
  5. New President
  6. (Repeat # 1 if necessary)

Only in the Philippines.”

Why?

This is because I am now concluding that behind this Trillanes character is a bigger group (or individuals) so eager to topple the current regime so that they can serve the Filipino people. After all, I believe that this senator (sadly, yes) is a coward and should have never been voted in the first place. But again, we tend to forget.

If we rewind what this ex-soldier and coup-plotter has done, we will see that he’s cowered in hotels to make his point–or the lack of it–known to everyone. (I think it is about time that all hotels run a memorandum to close its doors once they see this man coming in.) So far I could not recall that he’s made a good impression for Philippine hotel economy.

Of course to prove that Trillanes is mainly out there to stir the Edsa spirit, tagging along with him are a number of characters to summon the majority–the so called masses–of the short-minded Filipinos and a bunch of media newscasters willing once again to insult if not to challenge the intellect of the resilient pinoys. Interestingly, Jim Paredes has a blog about it also: 23 tools to brainwash and influence people through mass media:

 

  1. Repetition is key. Repeat important messages as often as possible.

  2. Repetition is key.

  3. Repetition is key.

  4. Bypass rationality by any means People don’t need logic to accept information. Belief is emotional. Always remember: WAR=PEACE.

  5. Remember –- two half-truths make up a whole truth….

So yes, repetition is the key. We all know that tiny drops of water will eventually make an impression on a hard stone. Unfortunately, this is being used for the wrong objective.

So while I’m a few hours away from my birthday, I might as well grab the opportunity to entertain myself with the circus on TV. Who knows, the next time I click on the boob tube a new clown is already out there to serve our beloved nation. Mabuhay!