‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly

 

“Don’t be afraid to be weak Don’t be too proud to be strong

Just look into your heart my friend

That will be the return to yourself” – Enigma. Return to Innocence

The ‘ber’ months begin once more and September sets the holiday mood. Different ages react differently to this transition however. For most adult this is the start of expenses pouring in as everything seems to get listed in the needs section of the budget list. The wants list becomes empty for the time being. For most children, however, this is just the season to be jolly. Period.

I could still remember my excitement as a kid when our calendar flips to September. It was as if the calendar would play the song Santa Claus is coming to town on cue. The Santa Claus I would soon discover as ordinary adults who get restless when the ‘ber’ months arrive. Twenty years later, I would become one of them.

It feels like it was only a couple days ago when someone reminded me to start buying gifts to avoid the rush. Just like any broken vinyl record the thought of Christmas shopping skips and repeats. Sadly, the rush doesn’t skip. It just repeats. It intensifies even. The farthest I can remember panicking at this level was since I started having my own pay check–now I wonder if paydays be celebrated or cursed. My wife and I normally kid each other usually around every January to start buying Christmas trees and gifts. But before I know it, the ‘ber’ months are here again.

Now we’re staring at November. The mall sales are getting more frequent. The bonuses are coming in (or shall I say passing through). The yuletide songs are as common as jeepney noise.  The dreaded traffic worsens.  The horrifying thought of the inaanaks knocking at the front door getting realized as December nears. It’s funny but now when someone says “Christmas is just around the corner” this to me is like a windtalker’s code that someone is out to get me.

So have I become the Grinch? During this season most adults are anyhow. Well it must be the cycle of life. Some call it karma. The act gets repeated but the recipients change. If before I was thankfully receiving crisp bills, now I’m…I’m not giving one. Beside, the crisp bills now are of less value. Hehe. Every time I’m in this situation I think of an old Filipino song (by Asin) with the following lyrics:

Itanong mo sa mga bata (Ask the children)

Ano ang kanilang nakikita (What they see)

Sa buhay na hawak nila (In the life they have)

Masdan mo ang mga bata (Observe the children)

Sila ang tunay na pinagpala (They are the lucky ones)

Kaya dapat nating pahalagahan (We should appreciate them)

Dapat din kayang kainggitan? (Shouldn’t we envy them)

Although this is not a Christmas song, this describes how having the innocence matters. It’s about taking the simple meaning of the season for what it is. Children love Christmas for Santa Claus. (If they love it for Christ’s birth, the better of course. But that’s where our adult explanation comes into play and that’s another topic worthy of a long discussion.) So if only us adults could see this significance even just during December, then I think this is only when we could wholeheartedly join the children in saying, “’tis the season to be jolly.”

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Hello Wifey, This poem is for you…

Being you…

Enhances my identity

Being caring…

Makes me appreciate your presence more

Being patient…

Teaches me to be one.

Being understanding…

Encourages me to know compassion.

Being funny…

Just tickles my funny bone.

Being strong…

Makes me stay as one.

Being loving…

Makes me love you more.

Being a late greeter…

Gives me the excuse to write this one bad poem. Happy Birthday!

I love you!

***

This is a poem for wifey’s 2007 birthday which I hurriedly composed since I’ve been busy at work packing precious processors instead of packing a birthday gift.

The Chain Game

 

I’ve always talked about the benefits we’ve been getting with the continuous improvement of how we communicate with one another through the Internet and computers. Everything from the basics to the complex things we do years ago has evolved though along with it comes its own pros and cons. The split-second rate of how we get in contact with each other has greatly affected the exchange of information and reactions. To the gullible this is a life changing moment.

Let’s talk  about seemingly innocent emails that ask you to forward it to others. Like an unending terrorist threat, this one affects everyone. No one is free from it. It is how you deal with it that makes the difference. I really don’t why these emails exist. Maybe these were circulated in good faith, to inspire, to motivate or to spread good news. Or could it be plain prank? So have you got one recently? Did you forward or did you delete?

Until now I still get those on my inbox and most of it were neither from susiexxx@horny.com nor from pass2survive@faithinme.net but from my friends. And it always surprises me every time when one who has been sending me pornographic pictures (not that I entertain these types) would later send me an email requesting me to pass on to every contacts I have a slide show with the Immaculate Concepcion’s picture on it just because some celebrity died after ignoring it. Ti abi. I believe in change and conversion, but this does not count.

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One of those that got through my inbox.

The reasons behind such instantaneous forwarding requests–pass this to 5 people in 30 seconds and you’ll see your life change–in my opinion may be the following:

Very shallow faith. Ever wondered if someone from the heavens did actually track if you send the religious email to everyone.

Lack of simple logic. Who in his right mind from Microsoft or Intel will give you $10000 cash or the latest computer just by forwarding an email.

Getting even. “Damn, I got scared with that. Might as well send it to others”.

10 GPBS office internet connection. Kung sabagay, why not. Can relate?

I’m not a quick deleter and I normally read emails especially if it does come from the people I know. I’m not even saying that all chain letters are bad. Most of it actually makes sense. So what I always do is to read the mail and if I think it is good enough, I “share” it to my friends but without the part that I know might get someone anxious or scared thinking that he’s just been asked by someone from the high heavens to pass it to others or get ran over by a truck on his next trip to work; OR that perhaps a CEO from Nokia is shaking his head for a recipient’s stupidity of passing off a good deal by ignoring the request to forward the enticing free N90 email to friends. Well, that’s not me.

Wait. I just got an email from Paris Hilton. Hey, that’s indecent proposal but it just needs me to forward to 3 friends in 10 seconds.

“Dear Mo, Mojo and Andi, please forward this to picture and you’ll get the time of your life…..”

 

Jim’s Country

The internet always fascinates me. Gone are the days when one has to travel far, endure a long queue and rub sweaty faces and armpits just to get near a celebrity to brush elbows with them or, if one gets lucky enough, exchange ideas with them. If that happens, usually it won’t even last for several awkward minutes. Nowadays, to get close to the famous would need only a couple of type away.

I got Jim’s site from my wife’s links. She’s a fan of the singer. From then on I return every now and then to read his posts and I discover more about him than reading from the Song Hits magazines or any other newspapers. His site showcases his talents, ideas, spirituality, fantasies and even his temperament, that is if you can read between the lines. Sometimes though it is just too obvious.

Last night right there was anger in his post. Something that I’ve been also frustrated at for several days already. As I browse through it I find that his frustrations (and evil wishes) are just like any other Filipinos. And the thing about it is that he could care less, let the issue die a natural death and enjoy his comfy Australian residence. But nationalism probably does go beyond borders.

Jim is one of those who actively participated in the EDSA 1 revolution. He also composed Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo as the theme for the post-EDSA 1 Filipino. It would be safe to say he is an idealist. So I do understand where he is coming from. The succession of events that have been going on lately appears like the Filipinos have forgotten again. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the current situation would escalate once again to make the people call for reforms, for a President to step down, for a snap election to happen. Again.  Maybe sooner we would be calling the gods to cast fire unto the Philippines. If we don’t get our acts together, we’ll get it sooner than soon.

It’s interesting that even a man like Jim, who may have stuffed his walk-in closet with awards and accomplishments (or even cash) still gives a damn about what is happening to his country, our country. I wish that someone from the millions of Filipinos would step up as a leader of great integrity and courage to face and eradicate the TRAPOs that seems to multiply in numbers every election.

Tomorrow is barangay election day. Let’s see what happens next.

 

Masskara: Interesting New Things (Part 2 of 2)

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“So many beers, So little time.” – Me

Kari sa Bacolod, dala maskara.” — Masskara Festival

I never thought that coming back to Bacolod during the Masskara festival would bring such a new experience even for me. Regardless of our 3-day stay, the vacation was not only fun but educational as well. Sounds like something from Knowledge TV? Well, sort of. This trip made me learn new things.

A local song for the street dance? I don’t know if it’s just plain LSS or if it was forced deeper in my ear canals by the giant speakers located all over the Bacolod City plaza. But this year’s music I realized is Ilonggo but in modern version. It was all foreign festive or pop songs in past. I don’t know the origin of this local song but I know that we used to sing it way back in my elementary days: ”may ga-labaylabay na aso, utot ni Celso (A smoke passed by, it was Celso’s gas).” Don’t worry, that’s our wrecked lyrics. The original one is decent. Celso was a  classmate.

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Masskara is pronounced as MASSkara rather than massKARA. I must have been too focused in getting drunk when I was in college that I failed to learn about this simple fact. I even never knew that it was only 28 years ago when the first Masskara festival was celebrated which dawned on me that I may have indeed attended the 1st street parade. I still recall which street I was watching it and what mask my parents bought for me. I was a smiling devil then. Ti abi, a Christian in a devil’s mask.

The Club category street parade had several participants with its members on scooters. Gone are the days when BMX and mountain bikes can be seen parading and performing–or did we miss it? I like what it used to be as the sight of motorized vehicles dominating the parade is not only noisy but polluting as well.

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Bacolod now has its own SM mall. At last. Just barely a year old and built in the reclamation area, it is now home not only to mall goers but of course a job source for almost 6,000 Bacolod employees. This is only one of several new companies (another famous one is Teletech, a BPO company) that have started doing business there. Hopefully other manufacturing corporations get enticed as well. I might consider working there when that happens.

Lastly, and the most significant I’d say, I can now enjoy a shower at home without having to fetch water. For so many years the shower head in our bathroom serves as a mere decoration. We take a bath using kabo. Since we transferred sometime in 1980, on good days I’ll be pumping water from our well, on bad days I would have to fetch a couple of blocks from home. And the water fetching happens daily. No ifs or buts. This routine went on even until my last year at home before I worked in Manila. So before we left home for our trip back to Cavite, I enjoyed my shower just like those in soap commercials. Sorry Greenpeace, I cherished the moment.

So now, although I’m back working, back to reality, I’m now looking forward to being in Bacolod again for the Christmas season. I’m just hoping that next time my online reservations will be better, weather will be great, more polite taxi drivers, fewer litterbugs and that Cebu Pacific’s baggage receiving area will at least have a conveyor belt–automated or not. Ti abi.

***

Masskara: Against All Odds (Part I)

Masskara 2007, street dance

After 13 years of hiatus from celebrating my home city’s festival, I got the opportunity to be in one again. This time I’m married. So just this Wednesday, my wife and I finally made our planned celebration trip come true against all odds.

This year we made several online transaction blunders. The first one was when we bought the ticket for our F1 Sepang trip. I was so eager then to save on the tickets shipping charges that I smartly picked the option of claiming the tickets at the race circuit only to find out that the distribution is a month prior to the race. If only that’s a bus away would have made sense but then it’s somewhere in Malaysia. I learned my lessons.

Yet the excitement of buying online seems to have gotten the best of me twice in a row. It happened again when she saw a very good deal from Cebu Pacific in February. It’s an opportunity to pay only Php 1 ($45, tax not included) for a one-way plane ticket. So off we go again with the power of the mighty mouse. After several scrolls and double clicks, we grabbed a very good deal. Or so we thought.

A month and a half before the October event, I filed for a scheduled vacation leave and was proudly telling my colleagues about the cheap trip we’re about to have.

I was excitedly reading my e-ticket print-outs when I noticed the departure details:

                  Oct 18 2007 Bacolod

                  Oct 21 2007 Manila

Finding it hard to believe the reality and severity of the situation I re-opened the email notice from the airline and there it was. I made a mistake with the transaction again: Right departure date, wrong place. It’s the costliest mistake I did this year so far. The Sepang transaction was discovered a couple of minutes after confirmation so at least I just spent a couple of long distance calls and a good ticket agent was able to change the ticket details. This last one cost us Php 5000 which is like almost paying the regular fare.

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Perfect shirt at this moment.

Odds number two is not having a car on the day of our departure. No big deal really but just a bit uncomfortable as we’ve gotten used to driving until Park ‘N Fly. This one just required some change in mindset and some packing techniques–traveling light. But it could have been the cause of my lower back to ache while on the bus.

We finally arrived in Bacolod by lunch time after a smooth flight but with me having an awful lower back pain. So part of the itinerary that afternoon was to look for a manughilot. Luckily, we found one. It’s funny but the last thing on my mind during this vacation is to be massaged on a busy side walk somewhere in Bacolod.

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A massage somewhere along the streets in Bacolod.

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.