Fix the Road to Tagaytay First!

I’m beginning to appreciate nationalism especially after Ondoy struck the country. I’m proud that a lot of people extended their helping hands to the unprecedented number of unfortunate individuals who are devastated by the typhoon. And the video with Apl. De. Ap is one of those that helped somehow uplift the spirit of unity and hope within each Filipino.

While I appreciate the efforts that our Department of Tourism has made to tap one of Black Eyed Peas member to promote our country, I cannot seem to stop my head from shaking almost like our car’s bobhead whenever I drive by the 20-kilometer stretch of the Aguinaldo highway on my way to and from school. It makes me always think if foreigners wonder what is worth their while in Tagaytay that they have to suffer the bumpy ride going there which is made worse by occasional traffic.

Yes, you read it right—occasional. For some good reason, my recent trips have been shortened by about half of what it used to take. If what I heard from my drinking buddies are correct, then the opening of the newly built road somewhere in Bacoor did decongest traffic flow. I have travelled several times this week and volume of vehicles is not the main cause of traffic anymore but rather the existence of the ever cratered-roads—potholed is a weak adjective.

But do not rejoice yet, you Cavite politicians—you know who you are. Before you smile and raise a toast for having at least one blog site appreciate your Molino road project, you’re wrong.  This project has been long overdue and you still have more things to do and patching up those craters of Aguinaldo Highway with thin layer of asphalt is not one of those. If you want to impress our foreign tourists, fix the road to Tagaytay first.

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Another sad news for the tourism industry that I read today is about a couple of deadly crimes that occurred during the opening of the Masskara festival in Bacolod. What makes this news more disappointing is the fact that this actually isn’t the first time.

During every Masskara festival, the Bacolod plaza is basically a vast beer garden (among the other daily activities such as street dancing, etc.) and it therefore means one thing—lots of people are drunk, supposedly in the name of merrymaking, and they mingle with the sober public. When this happens, it’s like an accident or, more aptly, a crime waiting to happen.

It’s frustrating that Bacolod City’s public officials always fail to put controls to its annual event. To make it more frustrating, a large police station is just right in front of the Bacolod City plaza where the center of activity is. I don’t know what’s keeping them from ensuring a safe and a truly festive environment for both locals and tourists. So unless they get their acts together, they should expect only one mask expression in 2010—a pouty—and they can just forget about being called the City of Smiles. Ti abi.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Hope I can watch the ANC forum’s replay of its recent interview with the four presidentiables.)

What The Foos Is All About

What do you do when you have really nothing more to do? The dreaded question that I had to ask myself today. I finally got tired of staring at the interactive online training and as much as I’d like to attend an instructor-led session, most of it has reached its walk-in participants limit. Now,  I was among those left inside our cold gray cubicles facing chances of catching colds, boredom, carpal tunnel syndrome or drowsiness at the very least.

There must be something else out there that would keep me occupied until the end of our working hours. Well, I checked and re-checked emails; refilled my coffee mug for the nth time; got myself exhausted with cubicle hopping with the hope of getting someone to talk to; and have listened to every Journey mp3 songs in my laptop’s hard drive. If I have to repeat the whole process again I’d be so damned and lonely. The long line of cubicles in my area is so empty that someone opening a trash can several columns away can be easily heard.

As desperation sinks in while I sit in my ergo chair watching my wrist- watch’s second hand tick by, it was when I heard the most redeeming invitation of the day. “Cris, laro tayo foosball.” Hmm, the last word sounds familiar yet so foreign. But who cares, when there’s no more work to do what else is next? Yes, play is next.

Moments later I found myself in front of the table with a recessed center and small plastic red and blue men appearing at first to be skewered to stainless rods and with its handles protruding on each sides of the table. I was elbow to elbow with another colleague while we try to push, pull and twist the rods to flick some miniature white soccer ball against those from the other team. I was the slowest but I think I was the happiest player that time. It was my first time to play with the most popular table in our company nowadays—the foosball table.

foos
(Image from Flickr)

The foosball table was introduced last year and was first placed in one of the activity rooms along with the billiards table. Since then, several employees have filled their curiosity and have even snuck out during work hours just to play it. It didn’t take long for them to get hooked and when management noticed about the missing headcount inside the production floor, it was later transferred in front of the canteen area to deter employees from just hanging around. Even then, it didn’t fail to attract more fans. Consequently, it got an infamous reputation from most managers—I was one back then.

After watching the expert players intently as before and having played two games (despite being terrible and awkward) already, I now know why it has such following. I discovered that it isn’t like just any child’s play that one aimlessly hits the ball until it passes the stiff goalie. This game requires strategy between partners. It likewise involves skillful ball handling, which to my surprise my partner and our opponent possess. Today I become a fan of this game.

My realization about enjoying this game may be too late already. But with the current business condition wherein work has significantly slowed down and we’ve got nothing more than time, I guess I’ll be seeing a lot of those skewered plastic men in the next days ahead. I still have less than two more months to go and I might as well enjoy it and spend some time learning the back and wrist-breaking game of foosball. If only I could patiently wait behind the long queue of eager players.

Picture credit: Pedro Moura Pinheiro

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Intel Philippines in the News

On Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009, the heart-breaking news spread like wild fire. The corporation has finally decided to cease its manufacturing operation in the Philippines. First it was just known by the Intel employees gathered in the recreational center, then a leak spread online that same day. Although some bits of info seems to be hazy, it was one news that sent even non-Intel people wondering if it was one big bad dream.

Then of course just after less than 24 hours of withholding the news about the Cavite site’s closure, the employees finally saw their corporate affairs representative confirm the news on TV. It was a signal that the confidentiality policy regarding this once brewing event ends. The online community soon got even busier and exchanges went back and forth. The major media networks sent their news teams lurking and stalking the company’s campus to get first hand scoop among the employees. Intel Philippines that day became the center of discussions on top of other recession related news.

The rumors that Intel Philippines will be closing down became apparent just less than a year when the big bosses dropped the first news on April 2, 2008 when they announced that the building in Cavite is structurally unstable and that this is just the main reason why they actually consider transferring operations somewhere in Laguna. And to prove that there is indeed a plan, Intel Philippines had setup a small group of transfer team to assess the new site and keeps giving updates about it every now and then. Sadly, despite the high hopes it has brought upon most employees and the thought that there will be a couple more years of extending its operation in the Philippines, the employees in the end weren’t meant to be there. It became their white elephant—it does not exist.

I never knew how it would exactly feel like to be related directly to the news on TV until Thursday. For years, it has been one of my guilty pleasures just to be home and be settled in front of the TV after a long day’s work while I watch the day’s events unfold. I’d always remind myself how lucky I am just to be a mere viewer and not being involved in any of the headlines. Now everything changed when the days are already counting down when I’d just be home for a week, for a month. Hopefully, not for a year. Ti abi.

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Mood: 5/10 Honks!

Gone Fishing

Two years ago my wife bought me a Shimano fishing rod and reel for my birthday. Thanks to my friend Mike who influenced and got me somewhat hooked on this hobby. For some reason,  however, there was a long gap after I acquired my own set. But this year seems the season again.

So finally I was out fishing once more. My fourth this year at the same place in succession. The timing have been on my favor after Mike resigned from our company which allowed him to adapt to my day-offs and set our fishing trips.

Just 10 kilometers away from home is a fishing venue called Fishers’ Farm Resort which is also a quite decent place for an outing event in the heart of Dasmariñas, Cavite. The resort offers swimming, horseback riding, and of course, fishing. Although, we’ve had days when fishes don’t seem to take the bait, we still prefer hanging out here as foods and drinks bought outside are allowed. Fees are very affordable as well.

Today we’ve got all the reasons to go fishing: Roman came back from Canada for a couple of weeks vacation, Mike will be leaving for the US sometime next month, Manny’s birthday tomorrow; and lastly, Manny, Jhun and I are just taking time to relax and clear our heads from the looming closure of our company.

the fishing gang
Disclaimer: None of the fish were shot using the airsoft rifle.

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My uncle who’s also into fishing passed away this week. Other than the fact that I was saddened by his sudden death, I was also shocked as I’ve been considering going back to his place sometime this year for a change of fishing experience: on a bangka and in the middle of the sea.

His death made me think that we are like fishes in the sea while God is the fisherman. Only he knows when he’ll take us while we spend our time wiggling our tails and fins while clueless of the bait. It takes just a snap and we’re gone, hanging by the hook, twitching helplessly in resistance and then facing the inevitable death. Sometimes he may have to catch and release though if he sees we are not yet fit to be taken–that’s being given the second chance.

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The day will come when I’ll be fishing for jobs. I’m crossing my fingers that when the time comes for me to cast the bait, some employer will find it alluring to catch it. And hopefully, I’ll be fit and quick enough to reel it in.

Car’s One Week Log

It’s been a week since we got Mary and it was one whole week of a new experience.

Day 1. I got Mary after being covert for two days. Just like in the movies or TV shows. Now I know how it feels like to show a brand new car key to a wife.

Day 2. Got no choice but to do the dreaded task–paper works for the car in a government office. This is where one has to endure long queues for almost a day and later on pay a ridiculous amount of tax. To be fair with Trece Marteres municipality it has improved a lot, at least from the outside, since my last visit. I was able to park Mary in a well designated parking lot and spent some time waiting on a bench on a brick-paved sidewalk.

Day 3. It rained. It’s her first acid rain bath. I was supposed to go back to Honda Alabang to give the papers I processed yesterday but it can wait. Mas masarap matulog while it’s gloomy and raining outside.

By afternoon, my wife and I were able to go back to La Salette to attend an anticipated mass. The last time we were there we took the bus and ended having brunch in Tagaytay’s Pancake house. Not bad. But having Mary is better.

Day 4. Mary went to work with me for the 1st time. Now it knows where the funds to pay her are coming from.

Day 5. I woke up late from a neighbor’s welcome party. Do I need to mention I had a couple of beers that night? Anyway, it’s one of the benefits of having a car. I made it to work without much ado.

After work, the secrecy I’m keeping about the actual car that I got was eventually blown when some of my colleagues coaxed me to take her for a ride. Funny but her first trip with them was going to a wake. Ti abi. A beginning and an End?

How did she perform on the rough asphalt road? Let me answer with what my colleague said. ”Parang nasa eroplano (just like on an airplane).”

Day 6. Left work late because of an unexpected serious discussion with one of my people. The least of my worries this time is missing the shuttle bus.

honda-city-back
Nice rear.

Day 7. My day-off after a tiring week at work and in our village (issues, issues, issues).

After breakfast came my 1st intimate session with Mary–her first car wash. I just realized that because of her size she’s harder to wash than our previous compact Kia.

Shiny and clean, I went to Honda Alabang to submit the loan papers and to get Mary a remote alarm. The dealership’s lounge was good but what more if I was waiting in Prestige Cars’? Don’t push it.

The alarm was fitted after almost two hours. It cost me Php 5.7K—a 0.9% cost for security. Not bad.

I got a not so good news before leaving though. I still won’t have my license plates until at least February. I left Honda a bit depressed that I won’t be able to meet my sis at the airport next Tuesday. It was actually the reason why I chose my license plate number to travel on Tuesdays. I’m hoping that we will see each other next time and hopefully not after another sabbatical.

By lunch time I was on my way to Batangas to pick up wifey. Construction of the SLEX has gone until its end in Calamba. Hopefully, once it gets done it would be comparable with Kuala Lumpur’s road. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but somewhere in my brain lobes shouts ”asa ka pa.

Well that was our one week together. I feel like we’ve been through thick or thin already. I’m praying that in the coming days, months and years we’ll have, most of it will be fun. Take note of the words I’m praying.