Monday, April 28, 2008

About Small Talks and Trivial Conversation

It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much. -Yogi Berra

Yesterday, my family and I went to the dentist. Not because we need to but to avail of their promo. Free dental cleaning for company employees and their family (yeah, typical pinoy, mahilig sa libre).

While the orthodontist was cleaning my teeth of plaque and nicotine, she started asking me personal questions. How old am I? Is that my wife waiting outside? How old is my daughter? Luckily all her questions could be answered by hand gestures and facial expressions, but I’m not comfortable. Then she began to chat with her assistant, talking about a co-worker with an “attitude”, as if I’m not there listening. That makes me even more uncomfortable. Akala ko tuloy nasa beauty parlor ako, instead of a dental clinic.

Just like my suking barbershop employing a pair of kabayans. One has a habit of chatting to his customer, from mundane to private topics; the other one cut your hair silently. Both are good in their profession but I always select the latter. I go there to have a haircut not to get acquainted with anybody.

Similarly in my hometown, two “manicuristas” do home service job. My wife is fond of one. In addition to the manicure and pedicure, she’s also updated on the latest local “news”. The other one have a physical handicap: she’s born deaf and mute. Since I pay for the service, it’s obvious who do our finger and toe nails.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. There’s nothing wrong in striking a conversation provided that you don’t make the other person feel uncomfortable. I can handle small talks with a stranger as long as it revolves around politics, the weather or the company we worked for like “Okay ba magpasahod ang kompanya nyo?” But it annoys me when the topic becomes personal as in “Magkano ba ang suweldo mo?” Some people just don’t know the word tact.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Do we need an M.A. to work in the M.E.?

I can’t give you a brain, but I can give you a diploma – L. Frank Baum

An article I read in Ms. Connie Veneration’s blog about “package” thesis and other projects being sold in cyberspace made me think. It’s pathetic to imagine when students go to that extent to acquire a diploma. “Hilaw” (visayan for unripe) is the term I use for these graduates.

Even here, hilaw “professional” proliferates. We have our share of “engineers”, “doctors” and “nurses”. In fact a co-worker, a hardware engineer, is one. He got his computer background from a trade school that offers a three-month training program. But what he lack in academic, he compensate with research, self-study and an eagerness to learn. These also holds true with other pinoys I know. Ang lalakas nang loob kumuha nang assignment they barely know. But they do their homework. Mag susunog nang kilay para hindi mapahiya sa bossing.

Before we judge our fellow kabayans for faking their way to a better life, try to see what other nationalities are doing. When it comes to mass-produced diplomas and certificates, nobody can beat a particular South Asian country. They have resumes that read like a novella, backup by diplomas and certificates as thick as an inch. Their forgers make C.M. Recto looks like a talipapa.

To cite an example, we had a company driver who heard about an opening in another project. He went on vacation for a month. When he came back his loaded with documents affirming that his a certified microwave technician. He admitted to us the diploma and certificates are fakes, but the government authentication is real. Their government knows but sanctioned it anyway. Talking about “mafia” in governments, their government is “the mafia”. What is worst, these are the same people who gets promoted rapidly, dahil ang lalakas sumipsip. When it comes to first impression, hindi kapani-paniwala ang pinoy dahil hindi naka-kurbata.

I’ve got my prejudices, but I’ve been here long enough to know that when it comes to technical aspect of jobs, these workers are rejects in their country, ask any kabayan. What scares me is when a member of my family gets sick and encounters these “professionals” in clinics and hospitals. I just cross my fingers and hope we don’t meet one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Crisis? What crisis?

O, you see. Walang shortage no! Mahal nga lang!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ginintuang Tsenelas

I have a problem with the blatant celebrity exhibitionism that happens in this business and being sold purely as a brand. - Jason Patric

It’s difficult to shop for children’s wear. My daughter is tall and large for her age and not enough selection to choose from.

We’re cruising idly one weekend when we passed by a store which sells footwear. Carrying my daughter, I went inside to look around and I saw this purple rubber sandal. It’s soft, has fancy design and it fits my daughter’s foot perfectly. I took it and went directly to the cashier. I nearly flip when it registered 55 riyals. I rub my eyes thinking I’m having “double vision” but it remained five – five. I’m too embarrassed to complain or return it since a lot of people behind me are waiting on queue. I grudgingly paid for it and went back to the car. Anak nang tinapa, nong maliit pa ako nag kasya na ako sa “Dragon” at “Spartan” na tsenelas ah.

Later on at home, when some friends came to visit. I overhear somebody commenting “Uy si Bea naka-Havana”. What? Cuba has this kind of product? I thought they only export sugar and cigars. My wife whispered “its Havaiana not Havana. Na bingi kana naman. Sikat at mahal sa atin yan”. Havaiana, Havana, banana, I know. I nearly have a heart attack when I paid for it.

That sandals na pinapang-bahay lang nang anak ko won’t fit her in 6 or 7 months. Call me kuripot, but I’m not that kind of person who buys designer what-ever just to be “in fashion”. I’ll buy expensive stuff I like (within my budget of course) as long as I’m buying quality and not some famous over-valued brand name.

One thing for sure, when my daughter out-grows it, ilalagay ko yan sa escaparate. Besides some knick-knocks I considered valuable.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bubukol Yan!

Letting out steam is good for your health. Here’s how I redirect my anger and frustrations.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Name Calling

What's in a name? A rose by any other name is still thorny.

Overheard between two “kabayan” inside a supermarket. “O, nakabili ka na ba nang Colgate?”, “Hindi eh, walang Close-up na may kasamang toothbrush”.

I don't find that odd or amusing. During my college days, in one of our sem-break, my friends and I went to a fishpond in Calauag, Quezon. We found ourselves scratching our heads because of the local lingo. But we catch-on quickly. We knew then that Mobil is tabo, Coleman is lantern and “ispot” is what they call a flashlight. My Manila-based friends where amused but I consider that rational. I don’t know why they called a flashlight “ispot”. But in my father’s hometown my lola uses Caltex to take a bath and Petromax to light their house in the evening. My lolo rides a Yamaha to his farm and uses Kubota to flow his field.

This practice is not even confined in the provinces. In urban areas you still hear people say Xerox for photocopy, Kodak for pictures or Cutex for nail polish. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, as long as we understand each other.

We Filipinos think that calling an object by a brand name is a pinoy “thing”. What most of us don’t know is that it’s a universal phenomenon. Just ask the different nationalities in your workplace. You’ll be amazed that Europeans and Americans are one of its prolific users.

Say, this whachamacallit, is this called thing-ala-jig?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Precious

Good things happen to those who wait.

I’ve seen my parents’ sacrifices so they could provide the best things they could muster to prepare their children in facing the real world. I thus made it a point to secure my “needs” first before I start my own family. That’s why I married late in life.

Ang mahirap, hindi ka-agad kami na biyaya-an nang supling. Kahit namuti na ang nguso nang kabiyak ko sa kahahalik sa ina-alikabok na rebolto ng mga santong nakatago sa kasulok-sulokan nang simbahan sa Quiapo.

It paid off after five years, several consultations and an ample sum from our savings. We finally got our little angel. She just turned three last February.

It's all worth it. I can't put a price tag to the joy she gave us each day.