Today’s Wish: See a Garbage Truck

I can’t recall a daydream that I have ever wished to see a garbage truck. Not. One. Daydream. I’ve wished to see celebrities. It happened. I’ve wished to see America. It happened. I’ve wished to go to the moon. This one remains to be seen. But so does our garbage truck.

Today we turn one year in our new address and we’ve only seen the garbage truck once. Yes, just once and it stopped by to pick up our trash just because we offered to pay for it. It didn’t show up again after that. So what happens to one year of trash? Everything goes up in smoke.

An ironic statement from someone very particular of sorting and recycling stuffs. But that’s how we’ve been doing it for the whole year however opposed we are to burning garbage in our backyard at the expense of the environment and right under the risk of our son’s asthma being triggered because of the smell of smoke. 

The metal drum I converted last year into an incinerator is already beginning to crumble so it should be about time to get another. I can make a new one, it should be easy especially now that I have my own power cutting tool. Yet I decided to give our barangay another chance. I’ve dropped by the office last week to inquire when the garbage truck really passes. They said Monday. Today is Monday.

So here I am for the first time in my entire life so full of anticipation to see if that garbage truck still exists. I’m keeping all fingers crossed, toes included, that today I get to see a week of trash taken by our barangay’s sanitation department or whatever it’s called locally. When you see white smoke though, it means only one thing: the truck misses and we start burning our trashes once more. Next step? A visit to another complaints desk.

***

One of things that fascinated me while in the US is seeing in person the modern sanitation equipment at work. One sunny but cold morning the motorized street sweeper made its regular pass on the neighborhood’s court. My in-law said it is just to keep off dirt that could turn into sludge and clog the drains. Too bad Marcus didn’t see everything but it would have made him remember those cartoon shows. Well, Call of Duty was more important that day.

A day or so later came the huge green garbage truck. No other personnel with it but the driver. It performed a seemingly well rehearsed stop beside each covered plastic bins of each house, picked them up using a hydraulic claw, dumped its contents at the back of the truck, returned the empty bins in front of the fenceless yards, and left the court without any fuss. All in a day’s work.

***

Image above is a derivative of William Warby’s Smoke Plume as seen on Flickr’s Creative Commons. Truck is from Google. Driver is Marcus’ Spongebob.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (So this is one year.)

Trash, Trash, Trash

It’s not every time that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Sometimes trash is just trash that needs to be disposed, ideally, properly but this will only happen if and when the right options are there. At the very least, there should be regular garbage collection or a nearby recycling facility. So what if none of these are present. How does one dispose trash?

Proper trash disposal continues to be one of the main concerns where we are at right now. We are close to our second month in our new address but so far we only had a visit from the local government’s garbage collector and that was only after we agreed to pay them. The last time we saw the little garbage truck was more than a month ago.  We live in a compound with my in-laws and I learned from them that the garbage truck only picks up the trash of gated subdivisions located nearby while residences situated along the way are left on their own. The good news is that I haven’t seen any trash bag on the road sides but I haven’t checked the nearby creek just because I don’t want to. I just know what to expect.

So there was no big surprise when I saw this video on Facebook of a man carelessly throwing garbage bags from a bridge—on broad daylight. It was the sight I hate to see but it was a reaffirmation of what could be happening in most places where people are deprived of proper and regular garbage collection. From what I have heard some families do pay a mangangalakal (individuals who collect recyclable materials) to dispose their trash which usually ends up somewhere but the garbage landfill.

Image from Facebook.

I am very particular about how I dispose trash. I make it a habit to sort recyclables and non-recyclables. Back in our old residence, our garbage footprint had been the lowest relative to our neighbors of the same family size. In fact, there would be  times when the garbage truck would miss to pick up ours and they would return the next week with the trash bin still not overflowing. Sadly, we cannot and do not have the same control anymore.

As much as I hate to I have resorted to another approach. It’s the lesser evil than throwing garbage into the creek but an evil nevertheless. Our son Marcus has asthma condition and very prone to getting sick once exposed to smoke and other airborne irritants so burning trash was never an option but we really have no choice. I already fabricated an incinerator barrel and we have been using it for weeks already. It was effective though I know that this isn’t right and shouldn’t stay long term. I am planning to talk to an officer of the local government to help us but I have been indirectly advised that for now this could be a futile attempt. Politics, I get it but there is hope. I heard that the incoming administration has solid waste management as one of its top priorities. I am crossing my fingers that this will materialize but until then our garbage dilemma remains.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Marcus is still sleeping. He’s getting better after one week.)

Got Lego from Shell This Year?

Christmas 2015 is different for those who have been fans of Lego toys from Shell gas stations. Yes, that is because Lego broke its ties last year with the giant Shell Corp. after constant pressure from groups especially Greenpeace International against its Artic drilling activities. It was a big victory for the environment but at the same time a sad loss for us parents who get our chance to buy cheaper genuine Lego toys after filling up.

Legos block Shell’s Arctic drilling. (Image from The Guardian)

It’s not entirely true though for our son.

Well, naughty or nice, Marcus got one this December from Santa Claus. It’s from the Santa Claus who bought the stuffs last year and waited for the right moment when he runs out of idea on what to give next. And it happened.

Yesterday, Santa skipped our home, or didn’t get the opportunity to sneak his way to Marcus’ red sock, so this morning he makes up for it with an F12 Berlinetta.

A Lambo from Petron, a Ferrari from Shell.

I don’t know if Santa still has more left but I heard Mrs. Claus said there’s one more. Let’s see what Marcus gets in the next days.

***

There is good news. Shell Corp. eventually pulled out its Arctic drilling activities after realizing there is no long term potential in the area or probably after encountering radical Santa’s elves who got annoyed by the noise and threatened a lifetime of zero gifts for the sons and daughters of all Shell employees. Now we wonder if we will soon see the return of Lego-Shell partnership. Make the answer ‘yes’ please.

Legos from Shell in 2016?
Happening again in 2016?

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (The building game begins tomorrow. This isn’t Minecraft this time but it could like a villager’s house.)

Driving Conditions We Have Come To Accept?

Image by Marcus’ dad.

Every day as I drive home I realize that there are conditions that we must have already accepted as the norm. At some point in the past these got so much attention most in the form of promises and grandstanding of politicians, and rants from the general public and the media. But as time passes focus on these issues have gone cold.

For example, dark streets. For more than three years I have been driving through the same dark inner roads and highways. On these roads I have witnessed countless accidents that could have been avoided had these places been well-lit. It bothers me to think that lives and limbs would be wasted soon unless the concerned government agencies start getting their acts together. There are already cheap solar street lighting so it makes me wonder what keeps our officials from installing them.

Then there are also the potholes. Years ago, each time I hear an exposé about substandard road projects I hoped and believed that change will start to happen soon–that roads will stay paved for long. But it was being naive because change was temporary. What appeared to be worthy projects have once again ended in the hands of corrupt contractors. Our roads are back to its sorry state.

Then we have the existence of smoke belchers. These vehicles, usually trucks and jeepneys, continue to pollute and to make driving a lot more difficult. Just imagine the challenge I experience almost daily as I make my way through pitch-black, zigzagged, and potholed road while following a slow-moving truck spewing a screen of thick black smoke. Oh, before I forget, this part of my trip is uphill. Whatever happened to the clean air act?

I don’t know when another campaign to eradicate these problems will kick in once more. Maybe soon but maybe not. Or, maybe when these hazardous road conditions claim the life of someone famous. Until then it looks like these are just things that we must accept and live with.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (My body clock is American, time zone is Asian.)

Love Earth, Wear Dirty Jeans

What I don’t do for my jeans saves the planet. If you don’t know what I am talking about, then it is time for you to read Mashable’s article about CEO of Levi’s earth-friendly advice–do not wash your jeans. Yes, you got that right. Do not wash your jeans!

This is the second time I have read an article that encourages what I have been doing all along. Few weeks back, Yahoo! also featured tips on how to extend the life of fabric simply by washing it less often than most of us are used to. In that same article, it mentions freezing the clothing to kill germs rather than the usual laundry. I nearly tried it the last time had I found a ziplock bag where my jeans would fit as except for an almost untouched pint of ice cream, a partially filled ice cube tray, and a small bag of hotdogs, our freezer could accommodate such experiment–yup, it’s that empty.

Now that a CEO has spoken about this earth-friendly idea once more, regardless if it some sort of hype for a material and process that require less water to manufacture a pair of Levi’s jeans, my excitement to get my pants dirty for the love of the environment is becoming stronger. I am no stranger to this, in fact there was once a time when I have kept my Levi’s–I can afford one back in ’96–unwashed and continued to wear it to work for more than a month. (I now recall that it was also when Shaggy’s Boombastic became the catchy commercial jingle of Levi’s.)

Today, while I cannot accomplish same duration of an unwashed jeans, I still make it a point to wear my pants more than once. There’s just this feeling of guilt whenever I throw a pair of pants to the laundry bin worn only for a day. Maybe because I am aware of the decreasing water levels in our dams or just maybe because I would avoid laundry if I can help it. Whatever the reasons are, I now feel that wearing dirty jeans is one of my many contributions to save mother earth.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Will skip gym just to write this post.)

Henry Hates Joyce

I think I shall never see

A sad poem about a parking lot made by Mr. Sy.

A parking lot whose chilly basement is pressed

Against Baguio’s once abundant pine tree crest.

A parking lot that looks at the mall all day;

And waits for cars of shoppers who pay.

A parking lot that covers people in Summer wear;

A nest of evicted bird species in its lair.

Upon its concrete levels Baguio’s cold has lain;

Insensitive of the dead forest’s pain.

Poems are made by fools like me

But only greedy men can uproot hundreds of pine tree.

***

Credit: Poem derived from ‘Trees’ by Joyce Kilmer.

Photo derived from http://www.freephotosbank.com

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Monday and WE are home.)

Knock, knock!

Contrary to my goal, again, I’m failing in my goal to fill my need to write more posts and Marcus has a lot to do with it. For wifey and me, parenting lately has been a lot crazier than before. Don’t get me wrong, despite nerve-wracking moments with an active 3-year old we seem to spend more enjoyable times as we witness his rapid development and antics that come along with it. Nowadays, our one and only boy….

…has become more articulate than ever. Other than saying our names clearer, he can now say Manny Pacquiao.

…can recognize Toyotas and Pajeros and other car brands. He can just spot Hondas before. (When he was more than a year old, he screams whenever he sees wheels.)

…has transitioned from nursery rhymes to more mature music. He used to just like GTO from the movie RV and lately he surprised me when he showed to me that he can dance to Top Gun’s Danger Zone and Mighty Wings. He also goes ballistic when he hears Party Anthem and Moves Like Jagger.

…continues to impress us with his pace in learning to use cellphones, computers and home theater. (Thankfully, he has not figured out why his favorite cartoon show doesn’t appear however he press the TV’s channel button. Yes, I locked it.)

…seems to start understanding that littering trash will result to flood and that whenever he sees some of the Sendong video footage, he’ll look for his clothes and tell us to donate them. (This one makes us feel so proud.)

Well, this is just a knock knock and I have to cut this short because sooner or later, he’ll be up and ready again to keep our day busy…and stressful…and fun. Parenting is exciting, isn’t it?

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Thankful to be home.)

There is Beauty in Trash Talk

The recent typhoon Mina (international name Nanmadol) has exposed once again the ever stinky truth our country has to face—waste management. In Baguio, several people, including innocent children, perished when heap of trash buried them after heavy rainfall triggered a landslide.

Sadly, this isn’t the first incident here in the Philippines wherein piles of garbage has caused death or injury. Several years ago the infamous Payatas tragedy took the lives of more than 200 people living near this open dumpsite. It was a wakeup call for those who survived and it sent an alarm to the government officials who acted, however late, to address this problem. Since then open dumpsites were outlawed. Or so we thought.

Now that this unfortunate news is all over the headlines, people begin to ask the same old questions. Who should be blamed for all these? The ordinary Juan De La Cruzes who on their way home would toss their fast food packaging anywhere they feel like it? The government officials who fail to implement the law? Or should this be again considered as an act of God—a reason that has been so overused by people who would try to cover their own insensitivities, carelessness or incompetence.

But while we try to find answers, for the nth time, to these seemingly hopeless questions, it is nice to know that there are still others whose minds are open and who still continue to seek solutions. For example, there is the beautiful and famous Anne Curtis Smith who openly declared on twitter (@annecurtissmith) her intent to use her popularity in an attempt to revive or improve the waste management awareness campaign. How far it will go, I don’t know but with her appeal and capability to influence others, I would like to believe that her advocacy will improve the way most of us take care of our environment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I really wouldn’t want to see this happen again.

For now, indulge me. I can’t let this moment pass without letting the world know that I had a short discussion with this lovely actress.

Seconds of fame brought by mere mention of my name by Anne Curtis Smith.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Happy kind of sleepy.)

Christmas In All Perspectives

Just as Christmas brings a lot of emotions, activities, gifts, spiritual enlightenment and almost all other sort of things that the past eleven months failed to have, I realized that it would be a pity if one just look at one aspect of this yuletide season. When we consider everything there’s always the chance to see both the good and bad. We’d appreciate the good, learn and move on from the bad.

The lyrics from the song Santa Claus is coming to town “He sees you when you’re sleepin‘, he knows when your awake, he knows if you been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake…” is a good reminder that December is the perfect time to check if we’ve been good or bad all right. Sadly, while some of us are reflecting if we have been good or bad, the latter still continues to be around during this time of the year and sadder than that, it may even occur in the midst of our holiday preparations despite good intentions.

Like some doctors say “I have a bad news and a good news, which one would you like to hear first?” I’d say, give me the bad news first.

Bad news

Road traffic. Everyone has experienced this I’m sure. Whether in a public transport or in the comforts air-conditioned car this scenario is inescapable—unless you’re one of those shameless politicians. It’s during this traffic jams that each driver’s (and some passengers) temperament and courtesy is tested. Often times this is when all yuletide cheers seem to just vanish into thin air. And more alarming lately are drunk driving incidents. These drivers for sure won’t get any more Jack Daniels from Santa.

Long queues. As if after driving from a long tiring trip to the mall isn’t enough, there are more jams waiting inside the shopping areas. Once again, this is when and where courtesies and patience are put to the test. Observing any long queue, one will most likely chance upon someone with Christmas gifts seen smiling at the end of the line but ends up like Grinches when they reach the cashier.

Trashes. I was so glad when I read from the Philippine Star about a reminder coming from Greenpeace (if I’m not mistaken) for everyone to put the environment in mind when planning for their respective Christmas parties. Remember: reuse and recycle. It also won’t hurt to use some common sense when disposing garbage properly. Let’s not piss Santa Claus so much that we’ll soon find our own trashes stuffed inside our yuletide socks instead of gifts.

Recession season. As the rest of the people are anticipating a merry Christmas and a happy new year, others are bracing for the impact of the economic slump which has affected the U. S. Its effect has rippled through the rest of the world already and one of the unavoidable outcomes is the number of layoffs by corporations from all industries. One of the giant employers affected by such is Intel and as a matter of fact several of my colleagues and friends will be jobless by next year (I myself almost lost my own but thankfully I made a U-turn after I applied and got hired for a vacant position). There’s nothing more I can do now but hope their transition and recovery would be quick.

Whew! The list can go on. Does this mean Santa will have lots of checking to do and will have lesser recipients this year? Anyway, I’m not wasting more precious time so this time let me tell the good news.

Good news

Time to give. This is I guess is the key to enjoy the Christmas season. Actually it’s the main reason why there’s Christmas to be celebrated after all. Remember the bible verse “For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son”? And do you still remember the Three Kings who endured a long and dangerous trip to pay baby Jesus a visit in the manger? These all show that the essence of this season is all about giving.  It’s all about sharing. No more, no less.

On my part, especially for this year’s holiday season, the presence of our baby boy must have an effect on how I give gifts. My long standing plan to go green by reusing what I have at home and to put some creativity to good use finally came true. Last year, I started saving the comic sections of the dailies as I see it as a good alternative for Christmas wrappers. I also pay extra attention to tips on TV, newspapers, or magazines that may put some personal touch to the way we give. And so this year, I have already given a couple that I’m proud of.

The first one was when I was cramming for gift ideas for my father’s 75th birthday. After combing SM Bacolod, back and forth, I bought a small cheap plastic Ace Hardware tool box, a silver ribbon and a birthday card from National Bookstore. At home, I wrote in the card and placed some “Ninoy” bills inside the tool box and sealed it off with a lovely ribbon with the help of my wife—presto, a unique gift indeed. Goodbye boring red envelope.

How to wrap a book, Book in a bottle
Book in bottle.

The second one was a gift for our team’s Christmas party. Wondering how I’d hide any hint that it is a book, I arrived at the idea of putting it inside an empty 6-liter PET bottle. Then I stuffed shredded newspapers and wrapped the clear bottle with another newspaper. In the end it appeared more like a bomb than a harmless gift. Well, at least she got what she put in her wish list.

Tonight, we’ll have our own simple exchange gift giving at home. It will be just my wife, our 8-month old boy and myself. I don’t know if they’d like what I did, but then again as the cliché goes, “it’s the thought that counts.” Hahaha. Looks like a good excuse for having crappy gifts and wraps.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Our first Christmas family pic
Our family is now complete.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

A Week of Interviews (Part 1)

It is a fact and a cliché that time flies so fast. And so today I was surprised to see that the last time I did a blog was on August 31 and fifteen days after that, I’m still wondering what I’ve been thru since then. Now I’m in the middle of the much awaited months for us Pinoys–the BER months. And being the 15th which is the payday for most employees, I can just imagine the throng of people in the mall, in the clubs, and those in the beer bars—all likely enjoying at least a couple of Christmassy tunes in the process.

In spite of losing track of my activities, the freshest memory that still lingers in my mind are the things that we did last week. In work terms, work week 37. Last week, my wife and I underwent a couple of separate exciting interviews amid my untimely colds that was made worse by the enduring rainy week. But having prepared for these interviews for so long, not to mention that the stakes are high, we proceeded undeterred.

The first one was in the US embassy in Manila. It was actually my wife’s idea to try our luck in getting a US Visa (tourist). Although, I’ve been thru this before for my week-long Wisconsin training trip, I was a bit pessimistic in acquiring a new one as I’ve seen a couple of times the disappointment it gave my parents upon every denial in their quest to visit my sister abroad. Lately though, according to wifey, a lot of her peers got theirs without much ado. And true indeed, after a couple of anxiety-filled hours inside the embassy, our visa application got approved as well. My wife went out of the hallway skipping like a kid promised with a weekend beach picnic. “I feel like I’ve just won the American Idol audition”, she quipped. Well, that probably puts me in William Hung’s shoes when he got the record deal. (What made it greater was that our Visa expires in 2018 but the news today regarding the end of validity of the green passport by 2010 looks trouble to me.)

One thing that my wife and I are totally in synch with is that both of us agree with rewarding ourselves with every success that we had; more often than not, we love food treats. And this time we dropped by MOA (Mall of Asia) looking for something new. Then we saw Cheesecake Etc. Inc. It is a small (approx. seats 10-15 person) restaurant but with cozy feel to it. Obviously, we ordered a couple of cheesecakes and coffee to match it. What we got were lovely shaped treats plus great plate decoration. Price was also fair. I recommend this place as an alternative to Starbucks.

Walle

After satisfying our sweet tooth, we headed to the cinemas just in time to catch the movie Wall-E. It was time to feed our craving for comic relief.

Like any other Disney movie we’ve seen, this movie didn’t fail us. The scenes in the movie despite being subtle and comical packs a serious message of what our (humans) future awaits if we lose the awareness on our environmental obligations. It also sends a strong warning to everyone who tends to entrust our lives to technology with the belief that it is there to give us convenience. Convenience that if not controlled will eventually produce more bad than good effects in the end. Does garbage problem and obesity sound familiar? If there’s an animated counterpart to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth movie, this is it. This is a must see movie for both young and old alike. (I love this one so much that I can’t wait to get its DVD.)

(to be contintued…)