Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Water Bearer

I noticed that a lot of bloggers are either celebrating or announcing their birthdays this month or next month. My daughter and I happens to have our birthdays a day apart and right in the middle of January 20 and February 18. If your birth anniversary falls between these dates, then you are an Aquarian. Before you say anything, I want to make it clear that I don’t believe in horoscopes, as if our destiny is written in the stars. But I do believe that heavenly bodies, just like lunar tides, affect the mental and physical state of each one of us. Each zodiac sign is assign a dominant planet and considered by astrologers to be our “peak” (active, prolific what ever) when that planet is in alignment with its designated sign. Astrologers also believe that individuals have either “high” or “low” zodiac signs. For example, you are a “low” Aquarian if you are born between the dates I mentioned above yet possesses characteristic which are “un-Aquarian”. Maybe, your “real” sign is either a Capricorn or a Pisces. On the other hand, you are a “high” Aquarian if you manifest most of the characteristics below:

Positive Traits:Strong-willed, original, innovative, inventive, observant, unprejudiced, objective, idealistic, humane, sociable, loyal to friends, free-spirited, independent, individualistic, intelligent, curious and seeks mental challenge.
Negative Traits:Detached or aloof, impersonal, opinionated, stubborn, rebellious, conceited, does not share inner feelings and unwillingness to abide with rules or authority.
Quirks:Unpredictable, eccentric and unconventional.
It was said that Aquarian traits personifies humanity.

The Age of AquariusSome historians attached significance to zodiac signs. They believed human history is a cycle of events that keeps repeating itself, where each stage or “Age” is an unavoidable episode of human unmaking. They said this cycle has been going on for the last 3,000 years of human history, and believed, we are now in the middle of the Age of Aquarius. The Age of Aquarius is said to be of “enlightenment”. During this period, discoveries, inventions and ideas prosper and it will last for 280 years. Science will break the bondage of religion and its child, technology, will help humankind for better or for worst, good or bad.

Come to think of it, I find some truth in this postulation. A lot of discoveries were made, a lot of inventions were built and a lot of ideas were formulated in the last part of the 19th until the end of the 20th century. Electricity was discovered, computers were invented and humans made footprints on the moon. In the political front, we experimented with fascism and communism. Music and arts were radicalized and a lot of individuals with innovative ideas were born within these centuries. Slavery is a thing of the past and we learn to see the person and not the color of the skin. We learn to accept differences. Cultures and languages are no longer barriers. Little by little, inch by inch, we are getting there. It may take another cycle or more, but eventually all humans will be Aquarians.

To end this, allow me to be nostalgic and listen to this song of the ‘60s.

I dedicate this song to all bloggers who at one time in their life was a flower child.
Peace Man!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Tag and an Award

Four days ago, I got a tag from my new friend, Ms. Loida of 2L3B. The game’s rules are I’ve got to devolves 7 random things about myself and pass the tag to 7 blogger friends. Recently, I was also a recipient of another award from Ms. Jo of Wits and Nuts. Its rules are almost similar to the tag. I have to share 10 random honest things about myself and pass the award to 7 bloggers I deemed deserving. I’ve decided to write a single post to all of these to save time and avoid redundancy.

My Award
“Honest Scrap Awards are bestowed by bloggers to fellow bloggers whose blog contents or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.”

Thanks again Ms. Jo for believing and supporting my madness. This is her reason why I’m one of her beneficiary:
BlogusVox – His entries are always a witty read. And the cartoons are the best!

Here are the rules, recipient have to agree to, before accepting this award:
“When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to said person so everyone knows he or she is real.”
“Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have 7 friends. Show the 7 random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with “Honest Weblog.” Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon. List at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!”

Here are 10 things about myself:
1. I used to drink a lot. In my younger days, I could consume a case of beer in one setting, of course given plenty of time (about 8 to 9 hours). I’ve changed since I got married. Now a day, you’ll consider me what people called a “social drinker”, if there’s anything to drink around here.
2. I begin my day with a mug of coffee and a cigarette. Things aren’t seems complete or right if I can’t have those two first.
3. I wanted to take up Fine Arts but my Dad won’t support my schooling if I don’t tow the family line and become an engineer, just like him. Until now, I still speculate if he was right.
4. I used to smoke a pack and a half of Marlboro “Red” per day. But with my wife’s incessant nagging, I changed my brand to “Ultra Light” (less tar) and limit it to 6 sticks (honest) a day.
5. I like everything in symmetry. I don’t feel at ease when I see things out of balance or if it’s not on its proper place. I have this urge to straighten up or organize, even if it’s not my personal things.
6. I like books, especially if it pertains to science, economic, history or ideas of great individuals. But there are two books which I always read without tiring: Broca’s Brain by Carl Sagan and The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
7. I like cartoons. I have a collection of full length cartoon movies and watched it together with my daughter.
8. I do my drawings or write my articles at home when everybody’s asleep. I’m living with an almost 4 year old Art Director who gives me pointers on what color to use in my drawings. I’m also married to a relative of Laguardia who instruct me what to write or not to write in my blog.
9. My daughter calls me Daddy, but she thinks I’m her playmate, servant and all year round Santa Claus.
10. I love food. I may be stingy on material things, especially when it comes to my wife’s taste in clothes, but never on food. I like to go on a “food-adventure” and try delicacies I’ve never tasted before.

I pass this award, wither they’ll like it or not, to the following bloggers:
1. Sheng of Anything goes – her new blog is really awesome. The header is simple but very elegant.
2. RJ of Chook Mindersquill – I like his write up, very informative, about his adventure/misadventure down under
3. Panaderos of A Man of My Town – his new site is really good. You got to visit and read his posts to know its well thought.
4. Mimi of Sleepless in K.L. - Her photos are excellent, her travels are informative and her parental experience gives me pointers.
5. Nebz of Isla de Nebz – I understand his melodramatic experiences in the Kingdom at the same time it amuses me.
6. donG of Eskapo – his travels all over the Philippines and the photos he takes never stop to amaze me.
7. bw of The Warped Zone – this is one blogger whose line of thought, as I observed in his posts, is in parallel with mine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I’m Relieved His Stepping Down

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. - Warren G. Bennis

The fortnight ago, David Letterman made some remarks about Bush’s farewell speech. He commented “We all know how we feel about this”, much to the audience laughter and applause. David and his audience’s sentiment are understandable. Recently in BBC, a program called “Intelligence Square” debated about Bush’s achievement as president. Before the debate, poll showed “cons” at 60%, after the debate, it increased to 63%. That only proved, in that discussion at least, that Bush is the worst American president in the past 50 years.

Personally, I don’t like him from the very start. To me, he personifies a rich man’s son spoiled brat attitude, taking the easy road from education to social standing by relying on his father’s wealth and connection. His lop-sided smile and “I-don’t-care-what-people-think-of-my-stupid-remarks” approach irritates me. Looking from afar, I saw most of his local and international decisions either ill advised or self serving. His overall administration didn’t fair well either. That’s what you get when you surround yourself with “political appointees” (persons you owe favor) and people with personal agenda.

Some will think, “What has that got to do with me?” For starter, since Spain lost the war and sold our islands to the Americans, our governmental policies, domestic or international, and economic survival are tied up with the empire. We don’t move until the man at the top nods his head. So if the top honcho can’t make up his mind, we at the bottom are in deep trouble. Fortunately, by design or just pure luck, somebody has the “bright” idea to export our labor to other countries. Remittances from these workers cushioned the impact of the Asian economic meltdown of the 90’s. Hopefully it will do the same in this present crisis.

I don’t think I’m alone in my feeling towards this present American administration. I believe a pretty high percentage of Filipinos also feel the same. Americans know this or else their ambassador in the Philippines won’t bother do a PR and go all the way dancing the “boom-tarat-tarat” in that noon time show, much to the delight of viewers and its egotistical host. It doesn’t take that much to know where to tickle Pinoys, isn’t it?

Even with this temporary setback, I still believe US of A is the best example of democracy. Where else can you find a country with a white majority, elects a black person with a funny name to the highest position of the land? I hope what ever he does, keeps in mind the welfare of the majority. Because wither you believe me or not, his decision will affect us in someway.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Lesson in Humility

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. - Carl Sagan

We’re driving one early morning and have to pass by a road construction. A gap was excavated perpendicular to the street and steel planks were put to cover the opening, wide enough for two vehicles to pass thru. Cars were queuing on both side of the traffic when suddenly a car appeared on my passenger side. Inched his way to insert him self in the line. I blow my horn to warn him of a collision and he relented. But that’s not the end of it. After we passed the construction, that very same car came abreast me, horn blowing and the teenage driver was giving me the finger. I just look at him but didn’t react. Reason dictates I have more important priorities than to engage on his antics. I have to consider my family is with me and I’m in a foreign land where logic is not the norm. If that same incident happened some twenty or so years back, may paglalagyan kami.

I’m what you’ll consider a “hot-head” in my younger days. My fist was quick to settle any quarrel or perceived affront. But most of the troubles I got into wasn’t of my making but that of my “barkadas”. I was a “bad boy” enough that my wife’s relatives were dismayed when they heard I was their niece’s fiancĂ©e. They were even in disbelief when they found out I’m an engineer and working abroad. First impression always last. I guess they’d think I’ll end up to nothing.

My temperament mellowed as I grow older. Reading books in philosophy and science gave me understanding about human nature. Visiting and working in foreign lands taught me humility and different cultures. It is not tolerance, as what most people advocates, that create a harmonious environment. You may tolerate another person’s behavior, but deep inside prejudice still exist. “Humility” and “acceptance” are the seeds of co-existence and the nutrient needed for these to grow is “understanding”. Understanding that no two people are alike. Understanding that no two cultures are the same. Understanding that our arrogance, wealth and power are inconsequential in the vastness of the universe.

If only people understand and heed what Carl Sagan said here...

It’s a universal appeal to the human specie. Part of that message is one of humility and understanding. If we learn to be humble and understand one another, then perhaps, nobody got hurt in that VGCC incident. No lives lost on insignificant quarrel at road traffics. No clash on religious differences and no ugly wars like the one we are witnessing in the Middle East.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Isang Masalimuot Na Karanasan

Foreword : This letter was forwarded to me by my brother R and also by my good friend F. Although we hear only one side of the story (that of the victim), I think there is a grain of truth in it, considering it was written by a co-worker and not by the involved party.

Sa lahat na Manggagawang Pilipino,

Nais ko lamang i-share sa inyo ang isang pangyayari na nawa maging kapulutan natin ng aral at maging silbing paalala sa atin habang nandito tayo sa Gitnang Silangan lalo na sa bansang ito.

Ito po ang story:
Meron po kaming kasamahan sa grupo na nagtatrabaho sa KIKA dun po sa Riyadh Gallery Mall (Geant Galleria). Minsan ay merong babaeng customer na nabitiwan nito ang kanyang bag at kumalat sa selling area ang mga gamit nito. Dahil po likas sa ating mga Pilipino na matulungin, nakita po ng kabayang ito at dagliang tinulungan ang babae. Pero di po alam ng kabayang ito na sa pag magandang loob niya ay magiging masalimoot ang magiging Pasko at Bagong Taon niya.

Dahil, pagkatapos niyang tinulungan ang babae, nag complain ito sa Customer Service na nawawala daw ang kanyang pera na worth SR3,500. at ang pinagbibintangan ay ang kawawang kabayan na nagmamagandang loob lamang.

Tumawag ng Security Guard, at nagkaroon ng investigation at sa maikling salita, ang suggestion sa kabayan ay bayaran na lang nag babae para daw di na magsuplong sa Police. At dahil sa laki ng amount compared sa suweldo ng kabayan ay humingi ito ng tulong sa mga kababayan natin at dagli-ang napunuan ang SR3,500.00 para wala ng problema. Ang lahat po ay nag-ambag ambag para malikum ang SR3,500.

Akala namin ay dito na magtatapos ang issue, pero kahapon aming pong nalaman na ang kabayan ay pauuwiin ng kumpanya nila dahil sa paratang na nagnakaw, at dahil sa mabilis na pagkabayad ng alleged nawawalang SR3,500 ay nagduda ng husto ang kanilang kumpanya na siya nga ang kumuha ng nawawalang pera daw ng babaeng customer.

Mahirap pong isipin kung anong merong ugali o katwiran ang mga taong ito. Malinaw na ang kabayan natin ay biktima ng panloloko at sa pagmagandang loob nito na tumulong ay naging cost ito ng kanyang trabaho dahil naging work termination ang reward niya.
Dahil dito, let us be reminded ng ating PDOS, na sa anumang pagkakataon kahit mabuti ang ating intention ay huwag tayong mag extend ng anumang tulong lalong lalo na sa mga katutubo o sa ibang lahi. Laban man ito sa ating kinagisnan kagandahan asal, pananalig, paniniwala o kultura pero isaalang-alang din natin ang atin kapakanan, lalo na kung ang nasasangkot ay hindi natin kalahi. Alalahanin natin we are in a stranged country with stranged cultures. . . Kaya po pag may nakita tayong nalaglag na gamit lalo na sa babae saang Mall o Shopping Center man hayaan natin sila. At nawa ito’y maging babala sa ating lahat.

Happy New Year po.

Best Regards,

Ramil Prava Tabligan

Not everything in this country is bread and honey. It’s sad that it happened to somebody who only has nothing in mind but good intention. This is also the reason why we are reluctant to help road accident victims. “Good Samaritans” gets in trouble and blamed for their death if victims dies while on their hands.

It is disturbing and it doesn’t sit well on our psyche, because Filipinos are “likas na matulungin”. We got that trait from our “bayanihan” mentality.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Thank You, Shok’ran and Maraming Salamat

I would like to give my deepest appreciation to the organizers and judges of the recently concluded Top 10 Pinoy Expats Blog Award for making The Sandbox No.1 in the region (Middle East) and No.3 among the Top 10 Filipino Expats and OFW Bloggers of the year.

Of course I won’t be in this position if not for those readers who gave their confidence and support by voting this blog. For me, words can’t say enough how much I feel. A “Thank you” may suffice, but believe me, behind those two simple words a huge gratitude is swelling to get out and embrace you.

According to this, I was an over-all finalist because of the following:
No.3 – in Voting/Popularity Category
No.2 – in Blog Content Category

Judges picks:
Voted 4 times to the top 10
Picked twice as the No.2 best blog.
and comments:
"I like his quirky way of writing." 
“It is one of the most insightful and truly OFW blog especially the cartoons he himself make. " 
"Expresses OFW emotions (and exert) effort to keep alive Filipino identity admirable."
The organizers even have this to say:
“Blogusvox! Congrats! Grabe, do you know na pag may technorati at alexa and social bookmarkings ka, baka no. 2 ka?” 
 Unfortunately I don’t subscribe to those sites. Being a newbie, I’m not conceited enough to know my ranking in the bloggers’ world.Also, I would like to congratulate all those who made it especially my blogpals: ever of Pamatay Homesick (No.5), Mimi of Sleepless in KL (No.7) and caryn of Sari Saring Kulay (No.8).

Being one of the newest members of the blog community to enter the contest and reached the finals is like winning the “Rookie of the Year” award. Again, thank you very much!