Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Season Greetings

I’m busy but that doesn’t mean I forgot. I would like to thank you all for your untiring visit even when my posts are declining lately.

To my long time and new blog friends;

Abou, ardyey, atticus, , A-Z-E-L, bertN, bing, bw, chris, Dong Ho, ever, Francesca, gandarynako, HalfCrazy, isladenebz, Ka Rolly, katcarneo, kcatwoman, keith, Lawstude, Lee,Life Moto, Lord CM, mightydacz, Ms. Jo, Ms. Loida, Mimi, NoBenta, Nortehanon, pamy215, Panaderos, prinsesamusang, RJ, R-yo, Sardonyx, sheng, theonoski, The Nomadic Pinoy, The Pope, Thoughtskoto, Trosp, YaNaH, yellow bells, 7thstranger.

And to those who commented;

aira, annalyn, AJ, Diamond R, Diana, eRLyN, Fickle Cattle, iresh, Jules, kulas,mommy ek, Mayet, MK, Pinky, Reymos, siyetehan, SLY, world news


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Busy December

I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done. - Buddha

You may have noticed that my posts have been dwindling lately. It’s been a while since I sat down and compose something and I have so much in my mind but my work takes priority. The good news is I finally finished converting those blasted DOS programs to Windows. With “testing” a much lesser work load on my part, perhaps I’ll get some extra time to blog again and catch up on some lost time. But my work isn’t the only thing that took most of my time. We transferred to another flat.

In a way we feel lucky. We wanted this flat for so long. Its former tenants are Bea’s godparents. Since their family is getting larger (3 kids), they opt to get a much bigger place and offered this to us. Of course my wife didn’t think twice and readily accepted it. The flat is smaller compared to our previous house. It’s a one bedroom, one living room and one bathroom flat. But it got a 2m x 4m kitchen, far bigger than our old one which can accommodate only one person at a time. Besides, the rent is much cheaper, the place is near my daughter’s school and I don’t have to wake up early to avoid those blasted traffic jam.

Moving from one flat to another is the most exhausting thing one can experience. Cleaning, fixing and re-painting are not only time consuming but budget depleting as well. The body pain began on the day the “movers” arrive. They’ll haul all your belongings and just dump it to any vacant space on your new flat. Since I’m the only “man of the house”, it’s up to me to carry everything, re-arrange, push and shove those heavy appliances and furniture to its proper place. My only “pakonswelo de bo-bo” is at the end of the day, my wife always have that trusted Omega pain killer in hand to rub on my back and legs. But still a lot to be done before we can say the place is “home”.

And now comes Christmas knocking on our doorstep and we haven’t bought gifts yet. MARAMI KAMING INA-ANAK!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Class Reunion

Never go to your high school reunion pregnant or they will think that is all you have done since you graduated. – Erma Bombeck

I like to observe. I’m content on standing in an inconspicuous corner, watching things around and trying to analyze every action and reaction. Of all things observable, what fascinate me most are human behavior. Take for example a class reunion. It is interesting to note that a lot could be learned by attending one.

What is the purpose of a class reunion? Why do we invent an occasion to celebrate something that happened some twenty or so years ago? I eliminate “to-rekindle-long-lost-friendship” because one will find ways to keep in touch with real friends, reunion or no reunion. For starter, one factor is “curiosity”; one wants to know how others faired on their personal battle for economic survival. Another is “contact”. It is always to your advantage if you knew people from different professions or classmates working in different government agencies. And the vainest of all the traits, to satisfy ones ego; to let the world know that you finally arrived, that you finally made it.

None of the factors I mentioned above categorize my motive. I go home every year so I’m up to date on every thing that interests me. When ambiguity is removed, curiosity fades away. My job is so specialize that I doubt if knowing what their field of expertise or where they are working helps me in anyway. And lastly, a simple man who enjoys life’s simple things does not possess a huge ego nor need to satiate it.

But why will I attend if I have the chance? I’d like to see someone who barely spoke to me or knew if I ever existed suddenly talk to me like I’m a long lost friend. I’d like to see the class bully became the most amiable guy in the room. I’d like to see the quietest guy in class commanders the microphone and won’t let go until he sang all the songs in the karaoke. I’d like to see my classmate who looks like Rio Locsin then if she looks like Rio Locsin now. I’d like to see the fellow who walks and wears rubber sandals to school arrives in an SUV. I’d like to see what I perceived before is the exact opposite of what I see now.

Unfortunately my vacation won’t coincide with our class reunion. Other wise you’ll see me in an inconspicuous corner, watching things and trying to analyze every action and reaction.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Horror Stories and Other Creepy Shows

I was fascinated with horror stories. When I was a child, after dinner, we’ll gather around the radio (we don’t have TV then) to catch our favorite program “Gabi Ng Lagim”. I’m hooked to it that I’d even set aside a portion of my allowance just to spend on renting “Lagim” and “Lamor” komiks. As my taste became “sophisticated”, I’m no longer easily frightened that I switched on to watching shows that tweak my mind like “The Twilight Zone”, “X-Files” and later on “Fringe”.

But what makes a successful scary movie? I use to cower at Christopher Lee’s Dracula series. I was scared stiff with “The Exorcist” and “Alien” made me jumped from my seat. I think these films got its desired effect (to me at least) because they pioneered the “technique” on how to scare viewers. Back then, werewolves and vampires are the “scary stuff”. Today they are the main characters of a love story. Linda Blair’s character spewing green stuff and turning her head 360 degrees was awesomely frightening then but would look funny now. The “Alien” monster might not be new but the psychological effect of being alone in outer space with a drooling metallic monster as a bunk mate really scattered my wits.

Newer horror films became popular but failed to impress me. I was amused with “The Grudge” and “The Ring” and sneered while watching “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Final Destination”. The first one looks like a “kabuki” actor whose face was dip in a bowl of flour. The other looks like an escape contortionist from an asylum. The third was a family of psychotic retards while the last one was an exercise in physics on how to kill a guy in a sophisticated but cumbersome way (the writer was probable a McGyver fan).

Viewer’s taste today leans more on “realism”. “The Blair Witch Project” was a success because it was done like a “documentary”. Its predecessors like “The Paranormal Activity” did it differently but with the same technique. Subtlety suggesting that what they are viewing is real.

It all depends on the viewer really. I enjoyed watching “Poltergeist” and Freddy’s antics but was terrified of Jason. But here is my list of what makes a horror film funny:

1. The killer is waiting for you in the next corner even though his walking with a limp and you are running away from him.
2. Something nasty is going to happen every time a cello solo starts to play.
3. The victim trips on nothing while being pursued by the killer.
4. The room or house has all the indication of unpleasantness yet the victim insists on entering it.
5. All the characters are dumb in a horror movie. Only luck saves them, if any survives.
6. The window, stay away from the window, dummy!
7. The door key or car key won’t fit if the guy is in a hurry to escape.
8. The car won’t start (this never fail).
9. The girl in a flimsy negligee goes out of the patio to look up the moon in a cold windy night (a sure way to attract rapists, serial killers and vampires).

I hope you enjoyed you Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Masons, Andres and the RH Bill

True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness -Albert Einstein

My father is a Mason. He is one of the original founding members of the first Masonic Lodge in my hometown. And like their brethrens of old, they too are frowned upon by the church. In fact, they were once threatened with excommunication because they are Catholics - free-thinking Catholics.

Many among you wonder why the church discourages its flocks to join one of the oldest, if not the oldest, fraternity ever founded. Secret rituals and usage of symbolism begot rumors that it practices witchcraft, pagan worship and anti-Christian in nature. These gossips were spread by no other than the church itself.

Their animosity goes a long way back in the 12th century when the Pope, with the connivance of the king of France, ordered the massacre of the Knights Templar. Its leader tortured and burned at the stake, allegedly because they were heretics and indulged in wizardry. All these accusations were false. It was just a pretext. Some historians suggested the real reason was that the “Holy See” wants something the Templar possesses. An artifact which when exposed to the entire Christendom will destroy the very foundation of the Catholic Church (shade of Da Vinci Code, isn’t it). The king, on the other hand, just wants to possess their wealth but both didn’t succeed to get what they want. I think some sectors within the church still believe those secrets were passed on to the Masons. To commemorate them, “junior” Masons are called DeMolays in honor of Jacques de Molay; the last Grandmaster of the Knights Templar.

Masons also played a part during the Philippine revolution. Bonifacio, a mason, copied some of its rituals to recruit revolutionaries. Even the Masonic handshake was introduced to know if one is a fellow “Katipunero”. History told us that the church also played a role in exposing Bonifacio’s secret society. They have succeeded in brainwashing its congregation of anything not sanctioned by the church was a sin that a wife, afraid to burn in hell for eternity, confessed her husband’s revolutionary activity to a friar.

However subtle it may seem, it all comes down to one thing, power; the capability to control masses and subject it to its will. Have you noticed why our “simbahan” and “munisipyo” sits side by side in most towns around the Philippines? It’s because the government and religious order, during the Spanish rule, shares power. Co-equal in disposing their will upon its citizenry. The church was powerful enough that it assassinated even the Gobernador-Heneral when the latter tried to curtail its authority.

In my opinion, the reason why the church resists the passing of the RH bill is because they want to preserve the present “status quo” of the majority of Filipino families. Claiming pharmaceutical companies are behind the bill is flimsy and hypocritical. They themselves are major stockholders of banks and corporations around the world. In the long run, the RH bill will open up opportunity for the betterment of Filipino families. It allows them to “plan” their offspring and raise their children properly including a better education.

An educated society has citizens who have minds of their own. They don’t need “spiritual guidance” to choose what is good or bad for them. In a way, it delegates the church into a mere ceremonial entity and perhaps someday into obscurity.

“Ignorance is bliss” so they say. The truth is - it is a religious weapon.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I'm A Filipino, A People, Just Like You

This post was forwarded to me by a friend. I know how each one of us felt the shame and frustration of the recent event in our homeland. Perhaps this letter may somehow find our lost dignity or at least help us to move on.  All I’m saying is may they open their hearts and give us a chance, as a nation, to amend the failures created by a few misguided individuals. We are not what some think we are as a people. - BlogusVox

After the August 23 hostage drama, there is just too much negativity about and against the Filipino.

“It is difficult to be a Filipino these days”, says a friend who works in Hongkong. “Nakakahiya tayo”, “Only in the Philippines” were some of the comments lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles received in her Facebook. There is this email supposedly written by a Dutch married to a Filipina, with 2 kids, making a litany of the supposed stupidity or idiocy of Filipinos in general. There was also this statement by Fermi Wong, founder of Unison
HongKong, where she said – “Filipino maids have a very low status in our city”. Then there is this article from a certain Daniel Wagner of Huffington Post, wherein he said he sees nothing good in our country’s future.

Clearly, the hostage crisis has spawned another crisis – a crisis of faith in the Filipino, one that exists in the minds of a significant number of Filipinos and some quarters in the world.

 It is important for us Filipinos to take stock of ourselves as a people, of who we truly are as a people. It is important that we remind ourselves who the Filipino really is, before our young children believe all this negativity that they hear and read about the Filipino.

We have to protect and defend the Filipino in each one of us.

The August 23 hostage fiasco is now part of us as Filipinos, it being part now of our country’s and world’s history. But that is not all that there is to the Filipino. Yes, we accept it as a failure on our part, a disappointment to Hong Kong, China and to the whole world.

But there is so much more about the Filipino.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Hitler and his Nazi had killed more than 6 million Jews in Europe. But in 1939, when the Jews and their families were fleeing Europe at a time when several countries refused to open their doors to them, our Philippines did the highly risky and the unlikely –thru President Manuel L. Quezon, we opened our country’s doors and our nation’s heart to the fleeing and persecuted Jews. Eventually, some 1,200 Jews and their families made it to Manila. Last 21 June 2010, or 70 years later, the first ever monument honoring Quezon and the Filipino nation for this “open door policy” was inaugurated on Israeli soil, at the 65-hectare Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon LeZion, Israel.

The Filipino heart is one of history’s biggest, one of the world’s rare jewels, and one of humanity’s greatest treasures.

In 2007, Baldomero M. Olivera, a Filipino, was chosen and awarded as the Scientist for the Year 2007 by Harvard University Foundation, for his work in neurotoxins which is produced by venomous cone snails commonly found in the tropical waters of Philippines. Olivera is a distinguished professor of biology at University of Utah, USA. The Scientist for the Year 2007 award was given to him in recognition to his outstanding contribution to science, particularly to molecular biology and groundbreaking work with conotoxins. The research conducted by Olivera’s group became the basis for the production of commercial drug called Prialt (generic name – Ziconotide), which is considered more effective than morphine and does not result in addiction.

The Filipino mind is one of the world’s best, one of humanity’s great assets.

The Filipino is capable of greatness, of making great sacrifices for the greater good of the least of our people. Josette Biyo is an example of this. Biyo has masteral and doctoral degress from one of the top universities in the Philippines, the De La Salle University (Taft, Manila), where she used to teach rich college students and was paid well for it. But Dr Biyo left all that and all the glamour of Manila, and chose to teach in a far-away public school in a rural area in the province, receiving the salary of less than US$ 300 a month. When asked why she did that, she replied “but who will teach our children?” In recognition of the rarity of her kind, the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States honoured Dr Biyo a very rare honor by naming a small and new-discovered planet in our galaxy as “Biyo”.

The Filipino is one of humanity’s best examples on the greatness of human spirit!

Efren Penaflorida was born to a father who worked as a tricycle driver and a mother who worked as laundrywoman. Through sheer determination and the help of other people, Penaflorida finished college. In 1997, Penaflorida and his friends formed a group that made pushcarts (kariton) and loaded them with books, pens, crayons, blackboard, clothes, jugs of water, and a Philippine flag. Then he and his group would go to the public cemetery, market and garbage dump sites in Cavite City – to teach street children with reading, math, basic literacy skills and values, to save them from illegal drugs and prevent them from joining gangs. Penaflorida and his group have been doing this for more than a decade. Last year, Penaflorida was chosen and awarded as CNN Hero for 2009.

Efren Penaflorida is one of the great human beings alive today. And he is a Filipino!

Nestor Suplico is yet another example of the Filipino’s nobility of spirit. Suplico was a taxi driver In New York. On 17 July 2004, Suplico drove 43 miles from New York City to Connecticut, USA to return the US$80,000 worth of jewelry (rare black pearls) to his passenger who forgot it at the back seat of his taxi. When his passenger offered to give him a reward, Suplico even refused the reward. He just asked to be reimbursed for his taxi fuel for his travel to Connecticut. At the time, Suplico was just earning $80 a day as a taxi driver. What do you call that? That’s honesty in its purest sense. That is decency most sublime. And it occurred in New York, the Big Apple City, where all kinds of snakes and sinners abound, and a place where, according to American novelist Sydney Sheldon – angels no longer descend. No wonder all New York newspapers called him “New York’s Most Honest Taxi Driver”. The New York City Government also held a ceremony to officially acknowledge his noble deed. The Philippine Senate passed a Resolution for giving honors to the Filipino people and our country.

In Singapore, Filipina Marites Perez-Galam, 33, a mother of four, found a wallet in a public toilet near the restaurant where she works as the head waitress containing 16,000 Singaporean dollars (US $11,000). Maritess immediately handed the wallet to the restaurant manager of Imperial Herbal restaurant where she worked located in Vivo City Mall. The manager in turn reported the lost money to the mall’s management. It took the Indonesian woman less than two hours to claim her lost wallet intended for her son’s ear surgery that she and her husband saved for the medical treatment. Maritess refused the reward offered by the grateful owner and said it was the right thing to do.

The Filipina, in features and physical beauty, is one of the world’s most beautiful creatures! Look at this list; Gemma Cruz became the first Filipina to win Miss International in 1964; Gloria Diaz won as Miss Universe in 1969; Aurora Pijuan won Miss International in 1970; Margie Moran won Miss Universe in 1973; Evangeline Pascual was 1st runner up in Miss World 1974; Melanie Marquez was Miss International in 1979; Ruffa Gutierrez was 2nd runner up in Miss World 1993; Charlene Gonzalez was Miss Universe finalist in 1994; Mirriam Quiambao was Miss Universe 1st runner up in 1999; and last week, Venus Raj was 4th runner up in Miss Universe pageant.

I can cite more great Filipinos like Ramon Magsaysay, Ninoy Aquino, Leah Salonga, Manny Pacquaio, Paeng Nepomuceno, Tony Meloto, Joey Velasco, Juan Luna and Jose Rizal. For truly, there are many more great Filipinos who define who we are as a people and as a nation, each one of them is part of each one of us, for they are Filipinos like us, for they are part of our history as a people.

What we see and hear of the Filipino today is not all that there is about the Filipino. I believe that the Filipino is higher and greater than all these that we see and hear about the Filipino. God has a beautiful story for us as a people. And the story that we see today is but a fleeting portion of that beautiful story that is yet to fully unfold before the eyes of our world.

So let’s rise as one people. Let’s pick up the pieces. Let’s ask for understanding and forgiveness for our failure. Let us also ask for space and time to correct our mistakes, so we can improve our system.

To all of you my fellow Filipinos, let’s keep on building the Filipino great and respectable in the eyes of our world – one story, two stories, three stories at a time – by your story, by my story, by your child’s story, by your story of excellence at work, by another Filipino’s honesty in dealing with others, by another Pinoy’s example of extreme sacrifice, by the faith in God we Filipinos are known for.

Every Filipino, wherever he or she maybe in the world today, is part of the solution. Each one of us is part of the answer. Every one of us is part of the hope we seek for our country. The Filipino will not become a world-class citizen unless we are able to build a world-class homeland in our Philippines.

We are a beautiful people. Let no one in the world take that beauty away from you. Let no one in the world take away that beauty away from any of your children! We just have to learn – very soon – to build a beautiful country for ourselves, with an honest and competent government in our midst.

Mga kababayan, after reading this, I ask you to do two things.

First, defend and protect the Filipino whenever you can, especially among your children. Fight all this negativity about the Filipino that is circulating in many parts of the world. Let us not allow this single incident define who the Filipino is, and who we are as a people. And second, demand for good leadership and good government from our leaders. Question both their actions and inaction; expose the follies of their policies and decisions. The only way we can perfect our system is by engaging it. The only way we can solve our problem, is by facing it, head on.

We are all builders of the beauty and greatness of the Filipino. We are the architects of our nation’s success.

To all the people of HK and China, especially the relatives of the victims, my family and I deeply mourn with the loss of your loved ones. Every life is precious. My family and I humbly ask for your understanding and forgiveness.

Maita G. Magalong
Margarita St., Zone 1,
Barrio Obrero, Iloilo 5000
Telephone No. (0063-33)335-0220

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Knowing What You Say

Usually when we buy something we prefer to talk to Filipino salesmen. Not only do we assume an element of trust co-existing between “kabayan”, it also saves us in spending some of that precious and sometimes limited English vocabulary.

Ah ah ah, don’t start accusing me now of trashing our ability to speak “English”. I’m basing my observation specifically on some of our professionals here in the Middle East. I heard Pinoy nurses talked in our adapted tongue but can’t differentiate a particle from a preposition and when to use “to”, “for” and “from” in a sentence. I squirmed when reading reports coming from Pinoy field engineers. Yes, in all capacity, we are good in our job. But communication, logging daily task and submitting progress reports are also part of it. We should also be effective in this area. The reason why I’m sometimes dismayed and reluctant to claim English as our second language. If you think my remarks are incorrect, how come a recent report in TFC encourages our “professionals” to join the Toast Master’s Club in the Kingdom? But we’re going astray here. This is not about our grammatically incorrect English but about some incidents regarding some salesmen who don’t know what they are saying.

Interacting with customers in supermarket is easier. Usually, customers either asked only for an item’s price or where it is located. But if you’re working in an electronic or car accessories department, you should know your product as well or you’ll get in trouble if the customer is a “tech-savvy” himself.

Recently, a colleague went to SACO to buy a carburetor cleaner for his “vintage” car and his conversation with the salesman goes like this:

Colleague: Kabayan, meron ba kayong carburetor cleaner?
Salesman : Anong klase po ang kotse nyo, 4-engine ba?
Colleague: Oo (assuming he meant “4-stroke-cycle-engine”).
Salesman: Ito po ang maire-recommend ko sa inyo. Magaling po na panlinis yan.
Colleague: Pag ito ba ang ginamit ko, lilipad ang kotse ko?

(Airplanes and sea vessels may have multiple engines but I never seen a car to have more than one.)

Two days ago, I went to Jareer Bookstore to scout for a modem stick. Unlike other modem stick that comes with a “built-in” SIM card, I’m looking for one which is interchangeable. This way I have an option of replacing it and can still use the modem even in the Philippines. I approach one Filipino salesman and without blinking an eye, he began his litany of BS about what the product can do. Since I got nowhere else to go, I pretend to be an ignoramus on the subject and indulge him:

Me : Kabayan, ano ba ang specification sa pag gamit nito?
Salesman : Meron na hong laman yan na 1 gig. Pag na ubos na, bumili lang kayo ng pre-paid card. 100 riyals po ang halaga.
Me : So, allowed akong mag download up to 1 gigabyte na data?
Salesman : Hinde 1 gigabyte, 1 gigahertz po. Hinde rin po kayo mag da-download. Meron na pong laman yan at nauubos yan habang gumagamit kayo ng “web”.
Me : 1 gigahertz ang “speed” ng modem na ‘to?
Salesman : Hindi po, yan ang laman ng SIM card. (Looking at me like I’m a hopeless case, he gave me a documentation of the product). Para mas maintindihan nyo, basahin nyo po ito.

It stated that I’m allowed 1GB of data download or 1 month of use, which ever comes first, before re-charging using a pre-paid card that I can buy in any Mobily outlet.

He was right. A pre-paid card cost 100 riyals.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

PEBA 2010

PEBA is now open for submission of your entries for the year 2010. So if you missed last year’s contest or didn’t make it to the Top 10, now is the time to try your luck again.

This year’s theme is “Strengthening the OFW Families: Stronger Homes for a Stronger Nation” but to my understanding, unlike last year, an essay is not required when submitting your entry.

So let’s support the only Pinoy Blog Contest dedicated to OFWs and expatriates around the world. More power to its organizers and may it be a success. Good luck!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Promises and Apprehensions

I witnessed the inauguration of our new president. I saw the hope and aspiration in the faces of our people, believing that this president have the determination and the firmness to change our nation for the better. But Noynoy himself admits that he can’t do this without the cooperation from the citizenry. In other words, we should do our part, our responsibility how ever small or insignificant it may be, if we are to fulfill our collective vision.

Our government, any government, will never succeed without the collaboration of the governed. The expectation and dreams are there and perhaps the willpower to succeed too. But do we have “unity” or even “cooperation” to realize this? Regionalist or clannish cultures are “ugly” traits we can’t seem to shake off; the reason why I’m being pessimistic. And this trait manifested itself in our recently concluded election.

Our “kabalen” in the 2nd district voted overwhelmingly in favor of the former president because she pampered them with government projects, disregarding what she did in her 9 years in power. Not to mention the scandals created by her or her immediate family, they also over looked alleged anomalous transactions of her administration and human right violations under her watch. Our “kabalen” put her in congress without thinking if she was just using them as a stepping stone in her ambition to return back to power. And all of these became clear when her first act as a representative was to, unashamedly, call for a constitutional convention; the key to open up her bid in becoming the prime minister. Maybe our “kabalen” didn’t saw this coming or perhaps they don’t care. She maybe the devil, but she is “their” devil.

A good example of regionalism is the “solid north”. Geographical location and limited resources are factors that bond them. It is their strength and I admire them for that. Therefore, it is no surprise when a certain political family enjoys their constituent’s support and monopolizes the gubernatorial and congressional post of the province. They took care of them when they were on the helm of power. What dismayed me is the seemingly short memory of the rest of us that enables a scion of this family to take a national post; a seat in the Senate.

Perhaps the majority of the electorates weren’t born or too young to remember the “dark years”. But being a Martial Law “baby”, I witnessed the excesses of these conjugal dictators and their cronies. And no one has the ability to project such ostentatious display of grandeur than the matriarch of this family, taking no notice or concern that the rest of the nation wallows in poverty.

Remember, these families have tasted power before. For them, it’s like an adrenaline rush. They will not stop until power is in their hands. Be wary of their patriotic rhetoric and nationalistic concerns. They are now “testing the waters”, so to speak, sizing up when is it time for them to return.

Be vigilant.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Conversation with Bea

Children are wonderful chatting companions. Sometimes they talk like adults. Their words surprise you and often make you ponder. Sometime they made no sense at all but still it amuses and entertains us. Here are some dialogues with my daughter.

Every time I fetch Bea from school I always ask her what she did that day.
Me: What did your teacher said today?
Bea: Bea, sit down!
Me: Besides that, what else did she say?
Bea: Bea, keep quite!

I make it a point to instill her to practice our Pilipino traits.
Me: Bea, nag-lunch ka na?
Bea: Finish na.
Me: Finish na “po”. Always put “po”. Again; Bea kumain ka na?
Bea: Yes Daddy po!

She once asked me if we could own a pet.
Bea: Daddy, buy tayo puppy?
Me: Meron na tayong dog, di ba si Petchay (my Dad’s watchdog back home).
Bea: No. Big si Petchay. Puppy lang para small.
Me: Why do you want a puppy?
Bea: Para rich.

That’s the result if you allow your kids to watch ET and they saw Paris Hilton and company whose fashion statement includes a Chihuahua. Not only that, I find Boy Abunda and his TV programs tacky but I heard my daughter blurt out phrases like “Ay, ano ba yan?” or “Ikaw talaga, oo” while watching TFC. Bakyang-bakya ang dating ng anak ko!

But Bea is popular among her teachers and peers at school (she won the “Most Friendly” award, twice in a row). In fact, she’s on a first name basis with the principal and the security guard manning the gate. She got this ability to remember names and once acted as host to her two teachers.

Bea: Teacher Ruby (her former teacher in Kinder I), come here, please.
Teacher Ruby: What is it Bea?
Bea: Teacher Ruby, this is my teacher, Teacher Anna (her teacher in Kinder II)

The two teachers gamely shook hands while laughing. And this is not an isolated incident. If I fetch her and she happens to be with a classmate, she’ll readily introduce us to each other. I find this uncanny since we never taught her to be this “diplomatic” nor did I saw this kind of attitude from other children her age or on much older kids. She will go to such extent as to make new pupils comfortable, like that new classmate; a transferee from the Philippines.

Bea: Hellooow, I’m Bea. What’s your name?
New classmate (looking towards her mother): Ma, di man ko kasabot sa iya.

Even teachers are surprise by her manner that they asked my wife if we came from a “political” family. But not everyone likes Bea’s sunny disposition. She once came crying to her teacher telling one of her classmates pinched her. It’s because the classmate doesn’t like to be called by her first name, a name adapted by her parents from a princess character of an animated movie. Bea keeps calling her by that name and the other child misconstrued it as taunting.

In fairness, I don’t blame the kid. I too would get grouchy and mad if my parents named me “Shrek”.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Ladies and gentlemen, meet the winners!

Atticus, of Tales of a Backpacker, is a confessed bum. Quit her job, packed her things and her camera to pursue her dream: backpacking across Europe and Asia.

Sheng, of Anything Goes, is the lady blogger from Gen-San. Proof-reader by profession and studying to be a lawyer, she juggles her time between work, education and taking care of her hubby and two lovely kids.

Gals, I sent copies of your caricature to your email address. Again, thank you all!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

And The Answer Is… And The Winners Are…

To all well wishers, commenters and just plain lurkers, I thank you for your untiring visits. To those who didn’t get the answer or too lazy to even try solving the puzzle, here’s the solution:

From my comment page, you’ll think that ever of Pamatay Homesick was the first commenter to get the answer right. That’s what I thought too until I opened my email’s inbox and read this:

The email came from atticus of Tales of a Backpacker. And if you looked at the email’s date and time stamp, she was clearly the first to solve the puzzle.

For the second slot, I gathered all the correct answers (sorted in order of comment) and they are:

1. ever of Pamatay Homesick
2. sheng of Anything goes…
3. Ms.Jo of Wits and Nuts
4. Pope of Palipasan

Using a small program I made, I called Random Generator, the result of the raffle and the winner is… (drum roll) number 2!!

Congratulations to atticus and sheng.

I thank those who participated and to those who didn’t make it, better luck next time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

2nd Anniversary Special

I should have done this last April when my blog turned another year old. But because I was on vacation and busy doing other things beside blogging, it was delayed for a month.

Anyway, would you like to see yourself in cartoon form, like my picture in the sidebar? All you have to do is solve this puzzle.

Hint: The truth lies underneath ("pick" the image to enlarge).

As simple as that. Cut-off time will be 4 days from today. I’ll gather all the correct answers and pick the winner by using a simple random program. The lucky winner may send his/her picture to my email address ( And please include a sentence or two, telling me something about yourself (like your profession or hobby). Just to make the cartoon look interesting.

Good luck!

Just to be fair, I'll pick two winners. The first commenter to solved it will take one slot. And the rest who also guessed correctly will be raffled in my random program and will get the last slot.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our Hectic Summer Vacation (Part II)

Not all our vacation was spent on shopping, complaining about airline policy and the sweltering summer heat. To get them off my back, I agreed to my wife’s suggestion to enroll our daughter on a ballet class. I’m not expecting she’ll dance like Lisa Macuja. But it’s a good way to spend her extra energy. Besides, I don’t like my wife and daughter bothering me while I attend on some matters regarding my parents’ estate.

As usual, my wife took photos. She wants to document every stage of my daughter’s formative years.

The class includes callisthenic and stretching exercises. But being over-weight, her teachers have to assist her in some of their work-outs.

Ballet supposes to teach children balance and poise. But losing extra two pounds in three weeks of class did her good.

To escape the summer heat, I made it a point to go somewhere during weekends to cool-off. Our usual destinations are the beach and swimming pools.

At Hawili beach with some cousins.

At Sampaguita compound (Precious Moments) with friends.

At a local hotel swimming pool.

Before we returned back, we went to Tagaytay with some friends from Riyadh.
We spent the whole day visiting all its scenic places. Actually the scenic views are the same. It’s all overlooking Taal Lake.

My daughter’s first horse back riding. She wasn’t afraid at all unlike other kids her age. In fact she enjoyed the ride, squealing in excitement all the way.

Well, so much for my vacation. Back to reality and will resume regular programming on my next post.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Hectic Summer Vacation (PAL-MALL Blues)

It was a long hot summer but a short vacation, in my assessment at least. It seems like yesterday I was packing and checking our baggage and travel documents. And in a snap, I’m sitting in front of my computer trying to summarize what I did in my 35 days of absence.

For sure, my wife and daughter have a swell time. Bea enjoyed it very much that she wants to stay in the Philippines nalang while wifey, I think, went to almost all the malls shopping until her feet hurts. She even made a last minute (hour?) side trip to MOA on the day of our departure back here.

Malls are basically alike in terms of products and entertainment offered. What makes them unique from one another is their architectural “set-up” and ambiance. Of the 2 or 3 malls I went to or tag along, Trinoma is the least “shopping-friendly” for first-timers like me. Unlike other malls which have maps that show which stores at what level and a big arrow that says “YOU ARE HERE”, Trinoma didn’t bother to put one. Atticus was right. You’ll get lost in that mall easily if you don’t have a GPS unit. I had to ask several security guards before I could meet my family in our rendezvous point. Don’t ask why but I hate to ask for direction.

We could buy all the things we need in one huge mall like MOA or Ayala Center in Makati where several malls are clustered together. But it took my wife four days and half a dozen malls to complete the items we need. Perhaps some items are cheaper in other stores but I find the difference negligible if compared to time wasted traveling from one mall to another. Not to mention the physical stress of carrying those blasted plastic bags. And if that isn’t enough, I find cashiers annoying when they keep asking if I have an “advantage” every time I pay for a merchandize. A negative response will surely elicit an “Ay sayang, hinde nyo ma-avail”. Advantage in what? Ma-avail ang ano? But I didn’t bother to ask those questions.

All these goods we bought surely put us in trouble with PAL. We choose PAL when we went home for the sole purpose of availing on their domestic connecting flight benefit. You see, international flight baggage is carried over on your domestic flight if you fly PAL in both flights regardless if the maximum weight allowed in domestic flights is only 20 kilos/person. But since our international flight’s ETA is one hour after the last domestic flight schedule to our hometown, our domestic flight was booked one day after we arrive. The problem starts when ground crew at the check-in counter won’t honor our connecting flight because it was booked the following day. They have this notion that domestic connecting flights should be in the same day as our international flight. I had to lodge my complain to their manager before they relented. The question is; what if that happened to another OFW who doesn’t have the tenacity, poorly informed or too meek to complain?

Another thing; we’re allowed 35 kilos/person in our flight from Riyadh to Manila. Logic dictates that the same benefit should also be applied in our return trip. But no, they only give 20 kilos/person (25 kilos max) on our return trip. Alangan namang iwan namin yung bagahe naming espesyal na daing at saba na saging. Fortunately, one passenger doesn’t have a baggage except for a hand-carried backpack and the check-in personnel was kind enough. He transferred our excess baggage to that person’s ticket. To that kindly personnel and fellow traveler, I give my deepest thank you.

Enough of my rants. Next time I’ll post good things naman about our vacation with matching pictures of course.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Buhay Buhangin (Sn 39)

Guys and gals, this is my last post for this month. I need some rest and will be gone for 30 days. See you in May. Tata!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Earth Hour! Jo-join Kami!

Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works. – Carl Sagan

A couple of days ago a commenter invited me to join and spread the word regarding our inter-galactic ship named “IGS Earth”. It’s a “green” project; educating us, not only of our limited energy resources, but pushing as well the understanding of the delicate balance of nature, conservation and recycling. To “celebrate” it or mark its “awareness”, Earth Hour was conceived.

Therefore, on Saturday, March 27 at 8:30 pm (Saudi Arabian Time), let’s commemorate it by turning off unnecessary lights and appliances for one hour. That means we’ll have a candle light dinner (isn’t that romantic) and you’re going to miss an episode of your favorite pinoy soap.

But that “sacrifice” is miniscule compared to what’s in store if we all join in. Imagine what will happen if less light is reflected on the sky. We’ll see the night sky in its natural state just like this:

The universe in its entire splendor; calm, beautiful and mysterious. Miles away ahead compared to this:

Astronomers call it “light pollution”; combined luminance of an entire city covering the night sky that you can hardly see heavenly bodies except for the moon and the “evening star”(not a star at all but a planet). And like earth's satellite companion, it gets its “twinkle” from the light reflection of our sun.

So on Saturday night, let’s watch and dance with the stars as they waltzes across the sky while the crickets played in the background a Strauss concerto.

Images were taken from the net. I forgot who owned it but would like to thanks him/her anyway.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Monsod's Musings

I got this from my inbox. Although some sectors claimed Monsod did not wrote this article, I still posted it because even if our presidential preference differs, our sentiments towards Villar are alike. Please read the entirety of this post. It contains facts and personal opinions (who ever the writer may be) that, in someway, will help us in our decision in choosing our next leaders. - BlogusVox

Villar still refuses to attend the Senate to face questions, and it only reminds me of how GMA used the privilege of her office to avoid questioning. What will happen if Villar wins and more corruption scandals surface? With Villar catching up to Noynoy in the polls, I am honestly quite terrified of the prospect of him winning. There is a clear case of graft in this instance, and instead of delving into the issues, his allies in the legislative are simply brushing off the allegations as "politically motivated". As a citizen, we should not accept this. If there is smoke, we must see if there is a fire that needs to be put out. Yes, the timing of the allegations seem a bit off. ( Joker Arroyo was pushing these issues as early as 1998). A known crook and political opportunist, Juan Ponce Enrile, is the person leading the censure. However, when the facts are presented, it is clear as day that something is amiss. It just further builds on my strong suspicions that Villar is a businessman simply looking to control the political arena to make a boat load of money.

I have never trusted Villar since day one. I never trust businessmen who enter politics, because in the end, their core value is and always will be profit maximization. It is well documented that Villar's real estate empire ran into some serious financial problems when his overexposure to the real estate market and the Asian Financial Crisis made him unable to pay debts he took out to expand his real estate business in the early 1990s. After the Asian Crisis hit, Capitol Bank, owned by Villar and heavily exposed to his real estate investments was essentially ran to the ground and needed to be bailed out. In 2005, Villar tried to solve his debt problems by hiring a group of investment banks to advise him on how he can consolidate all his assets into one company ( Vista Land ). With the local and foreign investment bankers, Villar came up with a growth story for investors: "Invest in my company because we need it to fund all these wonderful project!" However, what was downplayed during the IPO roadshow was that instead of financing growth, resources from the offering would be used to finance his debt. To appease creditors, Villar even had his investment bankers pitch some form of a debt-to-equity conversion that raised skeptical eyebrows of many. In 2007, the IPO of Vista Land did not do as well as planned, in part because many investors and brokers were the same people who were burned by Villar's inability to pay back his loans.

Now, as part of a corporate growth (or should I say corporate restructuring) plan, Villar is lusting for the highest position in the land. This scares me because Villar already has a track record of using his political position to gain the upper hand for his businesses. To save his empire and increase shareholder value of his business, Villar used his influence as Senate Finance Chair to shrewdly derail a Cavite road project that was supposed to be BUILD, OPERATE, and TRANSFER. Villar built a longer and more expensive road, the C-5 extension, adjacent to it; subsequently forcing the private investor in the initial project to pull out. The fishy thing is that this new road, longer and more expensive than the previously planned project, passed through all of Villar's land in Cavite . It is a clear case of graft, pointing to Villar use of influence and government funds to substantially improve the values of his real estate properties. To add insult to injury the right of way the government would have to pay in order to complete the project was substantially higher for the land that Villar owned. These funds could have easily been used to build needed schools.

This scandal should be a red flag for all voters. However, the scary part is that Villar is spending billions to keep this out of the picture as he continues his attempt to brainwash our masses that he is their saviour. He convinces the masses that he is one of them. A poor boy from the slums of Tondo. In actuality, he is more like the 5-6 and syndicates, slum dwellers themselves who make a profit out of their poor brethren. Villar's ad agencies are doing an excellent job of maintaining this image as well as doing damage control. TV and radio continues to churn out Parokya Ni Edgaresque jingles that compete with "Nobody, Nobody." Dolphy is Villar's new spokesperson and Wowowee is one giant ad for him. In this process of brainwashing, the masses are not cognizant of how Villar conducts business as a politician. What they do not see is a man hell bent on turning our archipelago into his own personal piece of real estate.

It is sad that the efforts of Juan Ponce Enrile, who is leading the censure for Villar, is actually giving Villar more sympathy votes. People do no trust Enrile, and when Enrile pounces on someone, it is usually met with a high degree of skepticism. I do not blame people for feeling this way. I also think Enrile is a crook who should be jailed for conspiring to implement Martial Law, for coup attempts, and for the human rights abuses during the Marcos regime. If someone with a more respectable reputation were to level these charges on Villar, I am sure the surveys would tell a different story.

I also fear from some credible reports that Malacanang has actually made a deal with Villar (under the table). Essentially, GMA's goons said, "We will help you, in return, leave us alone when you win". Villar's behaviour in recent forums further adds credence to these reports as Villar has been very tame and quiet when it comes to how he will treat GMA after the elections. Appealing to common sense, it makes ALL THE SENSE for GMA to support someone who has a chance of winning, not a person rating at 4% in the surveys. GMA tried to reach out to Noynoy after Tita Cory died. All she got was rejection.

Who can stop Villar in his quest for the presidency?

I am known to be a Noynoy supporter, but to those skeptics and to those who are still undecided, I do concede that he is not perfect. His record as a politician is average and unspectacular at best. He does not have the charisma of his father. Before the death of his mother, he did not get much mileage. But I am going all out in support for Noynoy in 2010 because he stands for clean governance and appear willing to accomplish this. In addition, he has the best chance of preventing a opportunistic businessman, the assured next President of our country before Cory died, from using the Office of the President as a personal growth asset to his business empire.

Noynoy's clean record is a big plus for me. It is a trait that I think should be the most important quality that we should look for in our next president. His appeal is that his track record is not tarnished by corruption scandals and his political debts are minimal. I know that many critics are trying to make an issue over his involvement in Hacienda Luisita, but Noynoy is not even heavily involved in the company. As a shareholder, Noynoy only owns .04% of Hacienda Luisita, a drop in the ocean and hardly in any position to do something about it. The case of the Hacienda does not have the substance that the C-5 extension controversy has a lot of.

In addition, Nonoy also has an incredible legacy to live up to. All the pressure is on him to be clean and stay clean. He can't afford to tarnish the Aquino name and the immense legacy that his parents left behind. Cory and Ninoy practically sacrificed their family for their dream of a better Philippines . For Noynoy, to know that your father and mother went through so much hardship to improve our country is a heavy burden to think about if you do decide to become a crook and destroy everything that they fought for.

We all have to make a choice. In my opinion, it has to go to the presidentiable who has an independent mind, stands up for what he believes in, is clean, and has the legacy his parents to live up to and maintain. For me, Nonoy, with all his flaws, is that candidate. For what this country needs is a clean president who can set an example top-down for the entire state; it needs a president with the will to change things and stamp out corruption; it needs a President who can set an example and is willing to perfect our dysfunctional democracy.

I want someone who stands for being clean. He does not need a degree from Harvard. He does not need to have a multi-million peso business to show me he can make us all rich. He does not have to speak well. He just has to be clean. Nothing else should matter. He has to prioritize a platform of clean and effective governance and make sure that it delivers on that promise. Policies on the economy, education, energy, environment and health can all follow after the fundamentals are taken cared of. So far, the only candidate who promotes my vision with a clean record to back it up is Noynoy.

Our urban landscape is replete with political slogans that attempt to convince people of certain candidate's ability to lead our nation.

Galing at Talino? Sorry Gibo, those were the supposed qualities of GMA, rubber stamped with a Phd in Economics. And what happened? She only worsened our economy. To GMA's credit she did balance our budget at one point, but it has again ballooned to the level where the next president will have to deal with the same economic issues she faced in 2005. During GMA's watch investment in infrastructure was insufficient, poverty incidence worsened, public education deteriorated, our nautical highway is still incomplete, goons like the Ampatuan's flourished in the south, and a culture of corruption flourished in our institutions. Instead of creating jobs, GMA focused on a policy of exporting labor without measuring the social costs of such a policy- thousands of broken OFW families and children of OFW's who do not have the proper parental supervision to teach them the differences between right and wrong. In effect, our next generation is left on their own to figure out how to become empowered patriots who love their country and will fight to defend it. In effect, whatever statistics in GDP growth GMA and her allies love to advertise, non of it trickled down and benefitted the poor..and none of it accounts for the social costs to her policies.

Good speaker? Sorry Gibo, Marcos had that quality and he did nothing good for our contry. In fact, Marcos squandered the opportunity to be our Lee Kuan Yew and Dr. Mahatir. If I want a good, charismatic, and eloquent speaker, let's just run down the list of effective public speakers and vote them in.

Para sa mahirap? Sorry Erap, you had your chance and failed miserably. Your only accomplishment is in convincing our masses that movie roles do not carry over into the political area.

My only concern with Noynoy is how deep he might be in the Liberal Party and whether he has accumulate political debts to Liberal trapos. The Liberal PArty, like any party, has its own share of crooks (including those bandwagon trapos who jumped off GMA"s boat to ride on Aquino's popularity). How much will Nonoy have to give back to the Liberal trapos (and bandwagon Liberals who jumped GMA's ship) if elected? We will never know. However, I am willing to live with that unanswered question if it means preventing someone like Villar from turning the Philippines into Vista Land 's next subdivision development. I am also reassured by the fact that he has that "Aquino" name and the ghosts of his parents to answer to if does decide to go down the immoral path.

Nonoy will not solve all our problems. One person can't. But we need a start somewhere and it should be with someone who pushes honesty, reform, and good governance. It will be a tough battle, but I want to give Noynoy the chance to build on what his mother tried to accomplish. And I hope that if Noynoy wins, he will have the courage to make tough decisions and go after crooks, even if it means hurting a lot of friends and colleagues in government.

To give you a better sense on how Villar conducts business, here is also a link to Joker Arroyo's 1998 privilege speech: Read it here and here.

I guess "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck.." Well, as the saying goes......

Vote wisely Philippines . And continue to work towards uplifting the masses and freeing them from their state of hopelessness. Defend them from opportunists. DEVELOP THEM (FIRST) SPIRITUALLY AND BEHAVIORALLY; THEN ECONOMICALLY! When we lift up the poor and ween them off the mentality of hopelessness, our country will become first world. Only then will we have the powerful middle class that our young democracy is screaming for.

(signed) Winnie Monsod (?)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

My Big Fat Pinoy Wedding (Part II)

Church officials requires the following if you want your wedding held in a church: a civil marriage license, a couple’s seminar, marriage counseling and confession prior to receiving the holy Eucharist (communion for the religious but un-informed). Except for the marriage contract, all are managed by the church and you have to pay a fee for the seminar and counseling.

No problem in obtaining a civil license. We signed the papers a year before in a simple ceremony at Manila City Hall before I flied back to Riyadh. So my fiancée already got the leverage document, I mean, insurance paper, este, the civil license needed by the church. As for the seminar and counseling, which I thought was a waste of time, I got no choice but to attend. We were scheduled one weekend; seminar in the morning, counseling in the afternoon and confession after that.

There are three other couples in that room besides us. One couple of marrying age was sitting on the far side. Another in the middle, whom I think, just wants to formalize their union since two children are sitting beside them. And a very young couple at the back who just can’t seem to let go of one another. Frankly, I have no recollection of what was being discussed in that seminar. My mind was somewhere else, occupied with calculating my expenses and subtracting it from my rapidly depleting bank account.

On the other hand, marriage counseling was a one-on-one sit-in with a young, if I’m not mistaken, newly ordained priest. But before he could begin, I asked him a barrage of questions: How old are you? What is your experience as a marriage councilor? Do you think, when it comes to life’s experience, you're more knowledgeable, even if you’re 10 years my junior? To which I received a series of nod and shake of his head. I think that’s the shortest marriage counseling there ever was.

The parish priest is no stranger to me. Not only is their house a stone throw away from our family compound, my brother-in-law was his former classmate back in their seminary days. So we for go the formality of the confessionary and just sat on a bench outside the cathedral. When he found out my last confession was 15 years ago, he asked me if I haven’t sinned for the last decade and a half. That’s when I told him about my little theory. The psychological effect of telling one’s problem to another, which somehow free or lessen a person’s anxiety when they "opened up". And as Catholics being one of the most guilt stricken religious group, it is, but logical, to "introduce" confession. Since I equate “sin” to “guilt” and I have freed myself of that “guilt” a long time ago, I think there is no need for confession anymore. He just looked at me, took a deep breath and our confessional session ended.

The price of “renting” a church for your wedding varies in its looks and size. Chapels’ and churches maybe cheaper but we paid a 5 figure to use the cathedral. Before that, I suggested on having a “garden wedding”. The place where we held our reception has a beautiful garden, a gazebo where we could put the altar and menos gastos pa since it’s included in the rental. But I was cut short by the “olds”. It’s not “traditional” said one. Its sacrilegious, said another. And everyone, who still wear a veil when attending mass, agreed it should be a church wedding.

But having a church wedding has its downside. In my town, if you want it fancy, they have their own “officials” to do it. You can’t bring in your own flower arrangers because they have their own “official” flower arranger. You can’t have somebody sing in your wedding because they have their own “official” choir to do the singing. And to all of these you have to pay extra and it’s not cheap either.

Since we can’t do anything but use their “officials”, I asked, if they could sing our favorite song during the actual wedding ritual. But their conductor told me they have an “official” list of songs and if my song is not there, they can’t sing it. Can you believe that? That’s typical Catholic clergy mentality! They’ll decide what’s good for you, boss you around and then expect to be paid for dumping their crap on you.

Not only that, these “officials” where also at the reception and enjoying their heart out. When I whispered to my wife “Who invited them?” she replied “Nobody”. I continued to smile while receiving guests and some more “officials”, but a lot of expletives were running around in the back of my mind.

Forget what they say about “In the eyes of God and men blah blah blah…”. How ever they phrase it, when it comes to legality, a marriage license issued by the church does not hold water in any judicial proceedings. It’s not recognized by the court and the only legal paper admissible are the ones issued by a judge in a civil wedding ceremony, like your marriage contract. And like any other contract, be sure you read it, especially the fine prints, and understand what’s stipulated in its provisions. Some contract contains “pre-nuptial” agreement that in some cases maybe disadvantageous to some party, especially to you, ladies.

You can have your heart’s desire at your own wedding. But I suggest you put your venue somewhere else but the church. Not only do you save financially but from the hassle and aggravation as well of facing these hypocritically self-righteous church “officials”. Cheers!

Since I couldn't get them to sung our favorite song, I might as well put it here:

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

My Big Fat Pinoy Wedding

Foreword: I’m not sharing this anecdote to “show case” my wedding but to illustrate how impractical a church wedding now a days – BlogusVox

I tied the knot on the year the 20th century formally ended. But since I’m stationed abroad, my contribution with respect to its preparation wasn’t much, apart from supplying the finances needed for the occasion. My fiancée, her cousins, my sister and my Mom did all the groundwork. Her “traje de boda” and my barong were done by Leonardo’s, in which I paid a 5 figure amount at mura na daw yun. The couturier, who happens to be my cousin, told us it’s discounted, since I only paid for the material and labor. And that does not include what I paid for the “costumes” of our entourage. Other paraphernalia like flowers were airfreight from Baguio, and those tiny glass figure they gave away were bought in Manila including the printing of invitations with an RSVP embossed on it.

It may sound “classy”, but I particularly find the “RSVP” part silly. Literally, its French for “Respond if you please” or “tell-me-if-your-coming-because-the-caterer-charges-per-head” in plain English. You see, although we rented an “uppity” place for our dinner and social function, my family brought in the food and drinks. The main course was commissioned from a hotel chef while the rest was done by our local, but superb, cooks. So there’s no need on “counting heads”. We just have to make sure there’s plenty of tables and chairs. Officially, we have 300 guests, supposed to be a hundred and fifty persons from each side of the family plus a couple of dozen “extras”. Where I came from, if you invite “Mr. & Mrs. so and so”, expect the whole family (except the pets) to attend.

The photo studio who formally documented our wedding is another thing. The owner, a class-A smoocher, fawned on my fiancée like she’s royalty. Giving us a package deal worth another 5 figure that includes a wedding album and a full-length video that starts the moment she steps out of the shower and ends until I carry her to the bedroom and close the door. They even throw-in the photo album as a gift, and because of that, I’m so much “grateful”. But my fiancée was a little bit sore when she found out of my refusal to partake on their “dressing up” scene. They made do by taking pictures of my wardrobe, from my barong down to my shoes. It was well documented, except for my underwear which I’m already wearing at that time.

I’m not going into details on what happened before and, especially, what take place after the wedding. What I’m going to tell you are the events surrounding the church activities that really got my goat. But since this post is a little bit long, I’ll continue my story on my next post. Bitin ba?.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mooo Is the OFW

Just recently, Home Development Mutual Fund or better known as PAG-IBIG Fund announced its mandatory membership of all OFWs. It was welcomed enthusiastically, so they say, by our kababayans based in Hong Kong, if you’re to believe Noli DeCastro.

This is good if you want to avail of its benefits in order to acquire your dream house or send your children to college. But there is a catch to it. You should be at least a member for 24 months* before you may apply for a loan. That means you should pay your monthly contribution for 2 years without default prior to filling out those mortgage forms. My question is; how long is an ordinary employee’s contract last here in the Middle East? One year? Two years? After that, how will he/she be able to pay the loan’s monthly amortization if he can’t renew his contract? It is good if his employed with a renewable contract, but that’s not the case for the majority of our OFWs.

One of their “selling point”, as one PAG-IBIG official explained in TFC, is; for a mere monthly contribution of P100, your investment will be returned to you after 20 years (including interest) amounting to P40,000. At first glance that seems good. If you save the money yourself, your P100 will be P1200 in one year or P24,000 in 20 years. A smaller figure compared to the dividend PAG-IBIG will give you. But if we apply the Law of Diminishing Returns, factor in the Philippine’s economic health for the next 20 years (which is bleak in my point of view), your P40,000 then will probably amounts to P20,000 or less of its present monetary value. Lugi ka pa! You’ll fair better if you put your money in a “sari-sari” store and see it double up in one year.

But I believe PAG-IBIG’s think-tank sees it differently. Your monthly dole out of P100, if pooled together, is no chicken feed. With the 3 million work force based in the Middle East alone, the total collectibles of PAG-IBIG in one month will sum up to P300 million plus or P3.6 billion in one year. A lot of money to be invested in some other money-making projects. If, for example, they put it in a low-risk, 5% interest venture, they’ll have a rate of return enough to build 300 units of low-cost housing per year. But not enough to pay the bonuses and incentives of PAG-IBIG executives and employees which, according to COA’s 2008 report, amounts to P258 million** plus.

I’m not saying that being a member is not a good idea. As I said before, it helps those OFWs who really need its benefits. What I’m trying to point out is PAG-IBIG membership SHOULD NOT BE MANDATORY because there are OFWs who doesn’t rely in government assistance when it comes to “housing” or educational plan. Walang pinag-iba yan sa life insurance na binabayaran natin taon-taon sa OWWA even though we are already insured by our employers and by the host country we work in. It doesn’t benefit some of us at all. Napupunta lang sa kaban ng gobyerno or worst, it might end up in someone’s pocket.


Saturday, February 06, 2010