A Week of Everything But Work

This must be the longest week I ever had. This week felt like it was 24 X 7 plus 1. I don’t exactly know if so many things have happened or it’s just so much time has slipped by.  Either way it’s a shame that both of it have been mostly done in front of the IBM’s flat LCD and inside the cold gray cube.

That’s the problem when there is imbalance between time and tasks. It is during these conditions that nothing productive gets done:

Condition 1: Having less (or the feeling of it) time but with multiple tasks is confusing or alarming.

Condition 2: Having more time but with little or no task on queue at all is just pathetic. If you ask me, I prefer Condition 1.

Since being idle nowadays is as predictable as sunset, this is when having an initiative and a bit of creativeness sets one person one step ahead of the other. It also helps to do at least a short time planning just to preserve self-worth on a daily basis. It’s just what I’ve done so fa, so far.

The good thing is that in spite of lull in workloads, the resources at work remain abundant. It’s both a good a good and a bad thing, like staring at an apple in the Garden of Eden while wondering if God will ever snooze–the temptation to cross the fine line is always there.

For starters, the internet connection is always on (and to mention that it’s way faster than outside) and the printers are functional and readily full of papers. Now if that doesn’t get your mind immediately full of wild ideas, then something is wrong with you. I know that google-heads are green with envy by now.

Times like this good judgment and work ethics come handy. In my case I try to kill time by taking online training. I likewise try to be involved in activities that the company offers.

Skillsoft Books24X7

I have never appreciated the availability of this site more than now. Although I’ve used it years before for my researches and book references when I continued my schooling, since weeks ago I started using it again. This week my usage got more frequent than ever.

My search for MBA tags brought me to results other than books. I find that there are online courses, learning guides and assessments available. What made it even more interesting was that I’ve read and learned about lots of good stuffs with regards to writing. I’m excited to share it soon as this was once my problem when I made my thesis – or I just didn’t have enough time to research then.

Financial readiness seminar

I can’t exactly remember when I attended this one but I was once again among those inside the packed training room. It was estimated that there were at least 300 attendees who listened to the Colayco foundation’s Executive Director, Mr. Bengco. He spoke a lot of things which half I dismissed and half I noted. Part of the things I got so interested about was when he discussed about ways to get rich. It contained only five key items. The crowd’s excitement of knowing what the five ways are immediately died down when most of us realized that the first four isn’t just possible.

Inherit it.

Marry it.

Steal it.

Win it.

Earn it.

A reminder of a bedtime story

There’s a problem  with forgetting very basic bedtime stories–you become a recipient of the moral lesson it teaches. The story of the rabbit and the turtle stung me this time.

It happened during our company’s Smashing Couples badminton match. After I saw the line up where my partner and I were included, I had high hopes that we do have the chance to reach the finals. What inspired me more was when I learned who will be our first match. “We’ve beaten these guys before, we can do it again,” I confidently said to my partner.

The high ego was short-lived. After piling up some points ahead on the first set our opponents consistently capitalized on our unforced errors and soon enough confidence was on their side. The first set reached deuce but the next set was crushing to the rabbits.

I came out of the badminton tournament with the line “and the moral of the story is…” echoing in my mind. Damn turtles. Hahaha. Just kidding.

Congrats Richmond and Arlene.

Everything that flies and crashes

This is another anticipated week for the flying community. Even if I won’t be able to attend the 13th Philippine Hot Air Balloonfest I know that hundreds of people are either already at Clark or just on their way enjoying the SCTEX drive.

Unfortunately, while everyone at Clark enjoys the breathtaking sight of balloons, skydivers, airplane exhibitions, and everything that flies, two places abroad experienced separate plane crashes. One was in Buffalo, New York that claimed 50 lives when a commuter plane went down, initially due to icing, hitting one house. Another plane crash landed at a London airport which thankfully just had minor injuries to its passengers.

It’s a pity that Capt. Sully’s heroic Hudson River landing a couple of weeks ago is negated by two succeeding crashes. It could be disappointing if further investigation on these accidents would point to poor maintenance as the root cause and it could even be more disappointing if it was due to recession. It’s a stretch, but hey, it’s not that unlikely.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Role Models Do Get Tired

The current situation at work as caused by the declining and imminent depletion of products to be delivered is undoubtedly testing each and everyone from the lowest rank and file up to the upper levels of management.

What I find more frustrating than the thought of eventually losing our jobs in few more months is the fact that no matter how I set my mind to make the most of my time, it’s only father time that is so available. After a couple of hours from the start of the working day, there’s no more work to be done no matter how I look for it.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to figure out what others might be doing as well after staring at the empty Outlook inbox. It is as if email doesn’t exist anymore. Whether people agree or not, this isn’t the workplace aura I used to know in my 12 years here. I can now really say that gone are the days when the cubes are buzzing with activity, when keyboards are tapped because of white papers to finish and not of multiple internet chat mates; when phone lines are loaded because of virtual meetings and not because someone is selling anything but company products; when people forget lunch because of deadlines and not because they have dozed off due to inactivity; and when managers are going to the cubes to check if everyone is on track and not because he’s got nothing to do as well.

Years ago, this setting is unimaginable. Someone getting idle is as taboo as committing mortal sin. But now, even the best have their own share of work void. It’s unavoidable but on the next days ahead those people I look up to will have lots of slack. I have come to accept it now that role models do get tired.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Kids Do Say the Darndest Things

whencominghome.jpg

I remember several years ago, one of the TV programs I enjoy the most is the one hosted by Bill Cosby, Kids Say the Darndest Things. Several American kids appear as guest and are all seated side by side in front of the camera with the comedian host and they are asked about their opinions on mostly adult matters. The answers are often funny and sometimes so interesting that I’d wonder how at that early age they would have had learned such things. Well, I’m hearing the kids speak once again, this time they’re thinking out loud about the recession.

This morning during our staff meeting our boss started with the usual ice breaker when he flashed through the electronic projector someone else’s doodling. Soon after the bulb warmed up, the intensity of the projection revealed a comics strip personally drawn by his daughter who was just a 3rd grader.

The strip has six frames of colorful drawings telling a short story of their family and their plans during this recession period. Surprisingly, the innocence of his small kid did not fail to capture what has been blasted on TV over and over again in the news reports since our company’s closure was delivered to all of its Philippine manufacturing plant’s employees. His kid even drew a close resemblance of the company’s logo.

Although this is my first time to see a kid’s personal expression of what is currently going on, this isn’t my first time to hear stories coming from colleagues and friends about what their young children said when they learned that their mom or dad will be out of work in the next few months.

One peer told us that when she called her parents to inform them about the retrenchment her young son grabbed the phone and blurted, ”Lola, mawawalan na ng trabaho si mommy at daddy, tulungan mo po kami ha (grandma, mommy and daddy will lose their jobs, please help us)!”

Another heard a different tone from his children, “Tehey, lagi na kaming makakapaglaro kay daddy (We will be able to play a lot with daddy now)!” This joyful welcome of the bad news must have been the most common I’ve heard from other co-employees’ stories. And I can’t blame their kids, really.

Intel’s working environment is so competitive that raising the bar to be at par if not exceed the level of performance (and indicators) of the rest of Intel plants worldwide requires each of its employees to be at their best almost all the time. And to be able to meet that expectation, every employee is at least expected to be at work and leave work on schedule. During the busy years, rendering overtime was often a must. Unfortunately, this is when someone at every employee’s home is deprioritized or worse, ignored – kids. Some will say wives, but that’s a different story.

Therefore it’s really not that impossible if during this recession and global financial crisis, while every parent is worrying about almost everything, there will be innocent kids smiling and rejoicing that sooner or later this year they’ll be one happy family again with their jobless mom or dad just around them ready for 24X7 playtimes.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Abundance Inside

Intel has been (or still is) a very good company, no doubt. And despite the stressful situation that everyone is currently into, most employees will still agree that Intel Philippines has tried as much as possible to show how each one of us has been so valuable that our personal or career development is one of the priorities.

This was once again proven when today the good people from our employees services (ES) group arranged another Beyond the Cube session. This is a series of sessions wherein external corporate speakers are invited to talk to the employees on different topics which Intel thinks is of interest to the majority–one good way to break routines and let the employees hear great thoughts from the world outside of our cube (or manufacturing floor). Although I’ve heard about this program before, this is my first time to attend such.

Today the speaker is Pido Aguilar Jr. who at first got most of my colleagues worried about what might happen during the talks when we saw him pass by in a weird-looking garb which I told them reminds me of a Video Zonkers episode. We almost cancelled attending the session, but then again the thought of spending another five more hours doing absolutely nothing in front of our laptops convinced us to check the session out. We eventually signed up and settled in the session room with full of anticipation and anxiety. To my surprise, I found the room packed.

Mr. Pido started the session trying to be candid probably to loosen up the attendees as he may have sensed that most are expecting that this session better be good. By around 10 AM, he opened up by saying something like, “I don’t need you to believe me…but all I’m asking is for you to open your mind during this 2-hour session.” The session went on.

Interestingly, Mr. Pido soon got everyone’s attention as the session went interactive with the activities that got the attendees’ participation. Every now and then, the room bursts into a belly-busting laughter as he amused everyone with his funny expressions, humorous examples and other anecdotes which filled the room with smiling yet attentive audiences.

In this session, Mr. Pido shared seven ways to attract and radiate abundance which he said comes from within everyone’s self.

I Smile. I couldn’t agree more when he said that by having a truthful smile at the start of the day does attract and sets what one’s day will be like. He said, “Try smiling then at the same time say that you hate someone.” I followed. It cannot be done. Unless, you’re that character from the movie Psycho.

I LIVE in the PRESENT! If you keep on thinking about the past, you miss to live the present. If you keep on thinking about the future is just as harmful. The first is a “has been” while the second may not even come at all. So living in the present may indeed by the sanest thing we can do right now.

I ALWAYS express THANKS! This one consumed 40 minutes of the session when Mr. Pido made everyone think of and say one reason what they’re thankful for today. It may be because of a person, thing, event, etc. as long as they think is worth thanking for. The mic went from one attendee to the other and it’s interesting to hear everyone’s piece. This he said is proof that there’s just so much for us to be thankful for if you really think about it. There was even who said that he’s thankful that Intel (Philippines) is closing. Remember the saying “When one door closes, the other one opens”?

I REMEMBER: Nothing lasts! I was expecting that this one only refers to the bad things just so to give hope to everyone that at the end of every trial is a resolution. I was wrong, however, and I’m glad I learned why. According to Mr. Pido, this applies to both the good and bad things in our life. He said that by also remembering that good things don’t last we get to appreciate and cherish it more. Now, the ad line “Offer is good while supply lasts” just made more sense.

I CHOOSE to be POSITIVE! Mr. Pido said that even if you forgot or was forced to be negative at one point even after committing to be positive, the key here is to get back on track ASAP and choose to be positive again. I immediately related this to my driving. Since this year I said that I can do better with regards to my driving temperament. So far, I still got to honk at someone else but I’m quite sure that it has gotten less and lesser lately. Maybe if I lose the car after being unemployed it will be zero. No question about it. Ti abi.

I LET GO, I LET GOD. Everyone in the room was asked by Mr. Pido, “Why do you think God can’t be God?” There was a couple of silent moments, then he answered it himself. “That’s because you don’t let him be!” Most of the time we have been so full of energy, motivation, enthusiasm or eagerness to solve our problems that we do forget that these are after all part of God’s plan for us. So next time, let’s pause for awhile and instead consult with God if what we’re planning to do is aligned with his so that we don’t get frustrated in the end.

YES, I MOVE ON! This is one phrase with two key points. First is the word YES which affirms our willingness to face the challenge. Second are the words I MOVE ON which complements our affirmation. And if you take a look at it, both will work as our one big commitment to transition to the next part of our lives and/or career.

During the start of the session, Mr. Pido Aguilar Jr. asked every attendee in the room one favor: To bring home and share whatever we have learned and believed may be significant to others as well. There was a chorus of “Yes, I will” So I’m now sticking to that promise which I silently whispered in the midst of a jam-packed room and in front of the man in the weird-looking garb.

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Pido Aguilar Jr. may  be  contacted  thru  telefax  number  (02)725- 749. His email adds are: abundancecorp@gmail.com & abundancecorp@yahoo.com .

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Get Over It, Move Forward

I’m quite sure that at one point of every person’s life there was a time when he’s so desperate and frustrated that he could’ve called it quits. I for one had several of those dire situations when life seems to have had crumbled and that the feeling of not being able to get out of it is so overwhelming. Believe me these ranges from the trivial such as just a quarrel with a sibling to the gravest such as getting into a car accident. And believe me, during these times I just wish I was never born at all. Whether one is a firm believer of God ( or Allah or any other divine being) or not, during these times calling them for help may be the only rational thing to do.

One thing that I always put in mind is that every after trial I had or would have, there is always the hope that I would get over it soon. Change and transition as they call it. Consider being in a break up. That situation is change. Getting over with it is transition. It does not matter if recovery happens right after or several months later but the day would likely come when you’d be able to smile all about it.

Now that I’m just waiting to be among the most “in” person this year of recession, I’m getting more excited than scared or worried. I can’t wait to see what is waiting for me (and my family) until the end of 2009. But what I know that someday, I’ll be out there with my kid (or kids) and wife facing the golden sunset with beer in hand while enjoying the splashing waves and the smell of the salty air.

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Resilient pinoys

If there’s one word that I hated the most when it comes to describing the pinoys, it’s the word resilient.  I believe that this is the most abused or overused by journalists or even inspirational speakers especially when used during times of crisis. I hate reading or hearing, what might be already cliché: The Filipinos will get over it. The Filipinos are resilient people like bamboos that sway wherever the wind blows.

That doubt is about to be changed.

What I find remarkable with how most of the Intel Philippines folks (or Intelllites) accepted each bad news that have come in rapid succession in less than a year, is that the transition period seems to be as quick as a snap of a finger. There may have been hundreds of tears shed every after forums where grim updates about the site were heard but believe me that these are the same people who can be seen smiling the very next day.

And the recent download on Wednesday, Jan 21, wasn’t an exception. A couple of hours later and two more days after the closure of the manufacturing operation of Intel Philippines was announced, most of the people at the canteen are already occupied with videoke . Others watched the DVD movies played on two separate TV’s for everyone in the cafeteria to see. Others lined up to play foosball. The rest just seem to get back to their own routine as if nothing happened. It may be temporary, it may even be even be pretentious, but whatever that is just shows that Filipinos can indeed be resilient enough to deal with any situations no matter how dire.

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Domino effect

It’s no wonder that the closure of the Intel site in Gen. Trias, Cavite became one of the headlines of the week and that several thousands of people got worried about it. That is because when Intel stops its operation here in the Philippines the export industry will feel its loss. Frankly, I don’t know the exact figures but Intel contributes to billions of pesos in export which makes it one of the top exporters in the electronics sector. This of course translates to jobs other than the permanent employees.

Many other people work for Intel Philippines. There are the vendors and suppliers who handle everything that Intel needs. They are the people from the cafeteria, the janitorial personnel, facilities maintenance, field service engineers, health services providers, and insurance agencies just to name a few. And like Intel employees, they too will be out of work soon.

There’s not much to do right now to dampen the effect of the recession but to just keep all hopes up and remember that this will all come to past. So to all Filipinos, especially to my fellow Intellites, let’s pray and hope that we’ll get over with all of this soon and be able to laugh or smile all about it.

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Mood: 4/10 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!

I’ve got some weird things running in my gray matter since the start of the year. And last week everything seems to have happened in topsy-turvy manner or as what I sometimes describe things in the production floor as chopsuey—just a mixture of different things. There was anxiety, there was hope, and then there’s despair.

And today the emotional intensity has gone up and one thing that made me think less or control it rather than it controlling me was the anticipation that things are about to happen. It’s not matter of IF but it’s just a matter of WHEN. It’s like running out of brakes and just bracing for impact while each second is a countdown of the imminent worst case scenario.

Last week I was mulling over the topic of death once again while killing time (pardon the pun). I was asking myself when was the first time I realized how death of a loved one must be like. And then I remembered, it was way back in my elementary days.

It was one lazy summer 1984 afternoon. The flickering rays of the sun passed the swaying ipil-ipil leaves in our front yard. I was about to enjoy my mandatory siesta when a familiar voice called. ”Mahampang na kami siguro (it must be playtime already),” I thought. But as I rush out of the door, a rather sullen look greeted me. It was my classmate and friend,  Jonathan. “Cris, patay na si mama (mom is dead),” he said.

I still remember feeling confused, not knowing what to make out of it. I can’t remember the exact discussions that followed but I remember us just sitting in the yard and with me listening while he tells stories about his mom. At a very young age I witnessed funerals of my own relatives but I have never been closed to understanding until that memorable afternoon that with death comes inevitable grief. It’s how one handles it that makes the difference.

Then just two days ago, I received an email with an urgent subject: Emergency Appeal! I read the message and it’s from someone in Africa. I shrugged it off as a scam but verified it anyhow through my college yahoogroups. Just as expected, my inbox was soon flooded with replies confirming what I thought it to be. But one replied out of topic and only addressed to me. It was from Jonathan.

class 84
Our elementary class.

We’ve had some lengthy email exchanges since then and I find it weird that everything has been so mixed up but yet still appears to be in harmony as every dot gets connected in the end. Weirder is the fact that I’ve been holding to a clipping from this Sunday’s newspaper with a story from Francis Kong’s “Tragedy into blessing” article.

Year’s ago in Scotland, the Clark family had a dream. The Clarks had worked and saved, making plans for their nine children and themselves to travel to the United States. It had taken years, but they had finally saved enough money and had gotten passports and reservations for the whole family on a new liner to the United States. The entire family was filled with anticipation and excitement about their new life. However, seven days be- fore their departure, the youngest son was bitten by a dog. The doctor sewed up the boy but hung a yellow sheet on the Clarks’ front door. Because of the possibility of rabies, they were being quarantined for 14 days. The family’s dreams were dashed. They would not be able to make the trip to America as they had planned. The father, filled with disappointment and anger, stomped to the dock to watch the ship leave.

The father shed tears of disappointment and cursed both his son and God for their misfortune.

Five days later, the tragic news spread throughout Scotland – the mighty Titanic had sunk. The Clark family was to have been on that ship. When Mr. Clark heard the news, he hugged his son and thanked him for saving the family. He thanked God for saving their lives and turning what he had felt was a tragedy into a blessing.

The story was made even more meaningful when bad news struck yesterday.  God must indeed have plans for us and now, I’d like to believe it more. Few weeks or months from now, I’ll be missing things in the production floor. No more chopsuey. No more turning back.

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Mood: 5/10 Honks!