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!

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!

Layoffs Around the World

Last night I was checking WordPress after wondering if there are others like me who wrote about layoffs during this recession period. After clicking my layoff tag, the answer became clear—there’s just a lot of us. Here are the URLs that I’ve visited and some excerpts of their blog. (The last two aren’t from authors who directly experienced it but still the reason I captured them is because the emotions and the message are so well written despite being brief. Please check them out.)

http://opentosuggestions.wordpress.comLes, Oklahoma

When I pulled up to the house tonight, my wife met me at the curbside with a smile and helped me carry my 3 boxes in eco-friendly Walmart bags into the house. We’re a team in everything we do. It’s great to have her by my side. I go to bed tonight ready to meet tomorrow.

http://gotlaidoff.wordpress.comAnonymous,  San Francisco

was just laid off from Accenture, and I have to admit I felt betrayed. The emotions you go through are similar to the grieving process, except depres- sion comes first. I was determined not to dwell on it for too long, so I booked it to Vegas. Yup, good old fashioned denial was what I needed to keep my wits about the situation. When I got back, I was angry, but that got me to stage four in the grieving process- bargaining.

http://passingperiod.wordpress.comJacksonhmills

I’m mad that I was laid off, and I think it’s a shitty situation, but I’m not going to cry a river. In fact, I didn’t give anyone the benefit of seeing any tears. You know, except for a few people on the street, when it finally hit me.

I worked at the company for 19 months. I assumed my job was safe because I was busy. In hindsight, the work I was doing was not up to par of someone with four years’ experience copywriting

http://chipdesignart.wordpress.comFrom a chip design engineer

how do i get busy, and what i do today, how do i spend my time?

Do i partition a day to cry, get depressed, eat and sleep or i schedule in a different way…

Huge transition when my outlook calendar gets overlapped to no entry in my calendar… what next??

http://sensoryreplays.wordpress.comRob, Middle East

four of my co-workers just got removed from our rig crew, they were sent to our base camp in dammam this morning without any advance notice and i really am not sure what the personnel department will decide for them, either they get transferred to another rig or sent straight to the house. it’s just saddening.

http://careeradventure.wordpress.comKristi Daeda

Everywhere you go nowadays, it seems someone has lost their job. Your brother, your cousin, your dry cleaner’s daughter… The bright side for the unemployed? The stigma of job loss is dissolving. Chances are if someone hasn’t experienced it personally, they’ve either known someone, or watched competent peers go through it in their own companies.

***

This morning after waking up from a long night sleep due to a sudden headache – probably due to reading about layoffs or the hot choco I had before dinner – I read a reply coming from Les (the first blogger):

Crisn

It’s like were all sailing along on the same ship, but it’s hairy because we’re sailing in low water. I’m finding it helpful to think of all humankind as a big family, all in this together. As far as I’ve seen in my 52 years, everything eventually works out. Most of us manage to still keep a roof over our heads and have food to put in our mouths. We at least cover the basics. We may not always get what we want, but that’s a lesson so many of us, including myself, still need to learn anyway. I hope you stay employed through these thin waters. However, If you run aground, come back here and we’ll help each other get through these hard times.   Les

That’s just well said and my point exactly why I think that keeping our network open during these hard times is a good idea so we can express what we think, help other people in some ways and show that indeed no man is an island.

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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.

***

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!

Dead Employees Walking

In the death rows of the prison cells they call the inmates dead man walking. This is because the people inside this part of the penitentiary walls are those whose cases have been heard and judged. Consequently, they are sentenced to death and from then they are basically dead. Thus seeing them around until judgment day is like seeing a dead man walking.

Right now, there’s no better analogy but that of a dead man walking for the situations that some of our colleagues have faced already—after ending employment by the end of 2008 – and those that were able to hold on to their jobs this year. I was one of those who were supposed to wake up jobless on January 1, but for some stroke of luck I got extended.

I reported back to work after being hired for an engineering position from a supervisory position. I’ve never felt so good and excited in my career transition than this. But on top of it, I did not discount the fact that with the recession effects knocking on everyone’s door, the possibility of being sentenced to the jobless row isn’t far behind. The problem, however, is that that possibility seems to come too soon.

Yesterday, my observations of our manager’s manner of reporting to work confirmed my fears. I usually arrive at the parking lot almost during the same time when he does and I have even told some of my peers that our expat manager prefers to alight far from the main building and takes a walk from there. Lately though, I see him getting out of his service van at the nearest spot to the lobby doors. It appears that he’s saving on steps, or if not, saving on some energy. I told my peers, “He must be into something, and it doesn’t look good…let’s worry more if I see him report to work in pajamas.” The email blast yesterday addressed to all employees was the final nail to the coffin.

Just more than four hours from now, everyone at work will gather at the indoor basketball court for a forum. The last time I was at a basketball court for a forum with my previous employer  I got paid and laid off. Ti abi. Let’s wait this time.

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Mood: 7/10 Honks!

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!