Archive for October, 2008


The Last Mile

Only a week to go before one of the most-watched and anticipated US elections in recent years.  While almost all polls point to an Obama win, there’s still a part of me that doubts whether Americans are really ready to elect an African-American “neophyte” President.  Sarah Palin has certainly made the campaign very interesting, but I wished the Republicans had a different Vice President candidate so that should Obama win, there wouldn’t be doubts about whether he won because voters didn’t want Palin as a possible President.  That said, I can’t wait to see what an Obama presidency will bring.

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I’ve been closely involved with the hiring process in the office recently. Our department needs a Business Development Officer to initiate and negotiate partnerships with telecommunications companies worldwide. It goes without saying that excellent oral and written English is a must for an applicant to be hired! And though we prefer graduates from the top universities, we also look at other qualifications and relevant work experience, so graduates from other schools would have a fair chance as long as they communicate very well.

I’ve been put in charge of evaluating their essay and business letter writing exam before turning them over to my boss for the final interview.  It has been one interesting, frustrating, and hilarious task. Interesting because I always like to read other people’s writings; frustrating because of the difficulty in finding well-written pieces; hilarious because of the occasional out-of-this world grammar and style. I want to be kind, but sometimes I can’t help my reactions. The HR Officer already knows that if I wince or giggle more often than I nod, then it’s time to send the applicant home. There are times when applicants wouldn’t even make it to the exam stage, bungling the initial interview with the HR Officer with their incoherent English or terrible pronunciation and accent.  And a lot of them have degrees in Communication!  We’ve been looking for a month already and it’s been proving difficult to find the perfect blend of qualifications, character and acceptable salary requirement.

It is not a deliberate discrimination, but the applicants who pass the exam are always the ones from the top universities and colleges. And sometimes, there is also a problem with the way other applicants think and answer in the essay and the interviews.  They find it difficult to string together thoughts into complete sentences even in basic English.  I really do not want to generalize, but from what I see, only a handful of non-top university graduates make it through stringent English communication skills screening.

Have the English standards in most schools fallen so low?  I’ve observed that the college graduates of the generation before us spoke good enough English, even if not really perfect.  A lot of them did not necessarily go to the top schools, but their basic English communication skills are nothing to be frowned upon.  This is something that really needs to be addressed.  We keep on harping about how better we are at English than other Asians, but I think what it really means is that we’re better at UNDERSTANDING and not necessarily WRITING AND SPEAKING the language.  There’s also the laziness factor and the “pwede na yan” attitude.  A lot of people no longer make the effort of polishing their English.

Sometimes, in my frustrating and naughtier moments, I feel like photocopying the exams and taping the interviews then sending them to the English departments of the schools to let them see the kind of Communication Arts graduates they’re churning out.  Bad, but sometimes the frustration just gets to me.

Yes, I’m claiming it as my own. I went to Dumaguete for a fifth visit, with officemates Jeff and Trish time around. It was a very relaxing trip – aimless, even. We had no prepared itinerary whatsoever. Well, except for a loose food itinerary, hehe. Trish and I had our must-eats, and we got to eat them all. We had our common danggit, budbud kabog and sans rival. Aside from that, Trish had her Persian Palate and Mamia’s, and I had my Chicken Inato and native tsokolate.  Jeff eventually had his own food discovery – Hoy Lugaw!  What initially caught his attention were the seats, which were actually inverted casseroles, complete with blackened bottoms.  Then he saw the name.  He vowed to try it out the following morning, and so he did – and actually liked the lugaw (rice porridge).

One surprise for me was the Body and Sole Spa at a new location (near Chin Loong).  Their previous site burned down and I never found out whether they rebuilt or transferred to a new place.  I was also surprised that the full body massage is still at P250 even after four years!

Of course, we took Jeff on an obligatory tour of the city’s landmarks, starting with what else – the boulevard!  Then we went to Silliman University, the Cathedral, the bell tower, and the Provincial Capitol.

We had a relaxing and fun time at Silliman.  Oddly enough, it was my first time to actually set foot inside the campus.  We went to Silliman Hall, then decided to just hang out under one of the big old trees in the field behind the building.  We played an alphabet game where we had to supply words from A to Z to match a specific category.  We would always get stumped when it comes to Q, X and Z, but those were also the funniest and most fun letters to do.

Under the trees at Silliman University

Under the trees at Silliman University

We also hung out for quite a while at the benches on the garden in front of the Capitol.  We stopped there on our way to Sidlakang Negros for the Buglasan Festival.  (More on the festival on another blog post.)  It was actually my first time to visit the Capitol, though I’ve always passed by the site on previous visits.  I love the perfect alignment of the park, the Capitol, and the Cuernos de Negros mountain range behind it.

This trip wasn’t as activity- and adventure-filled as my other travels, but I liked it because what I need most right now is a total relaxation getaway.  So even if sometimes we would just take long naps inside the hotel room or just laze under a tree, at a park or the boulevard, everything was still worth the trip.  In Dumaguete, it’s easy to get lost in your thoughts, but hard to get lost in your way.  The city is my perfect place for just walking around, hanging out under the trees, inhaling fresh air, and smelling the tang of the sea.  And once again, I vowed to come back soon while taking one last walk down the boulevard before heading to the airport.

Our definitive Boulevard images:

Happy to be back

Happy to be back

Lazy Sunday

Lazy Sunday

Sunrise Leap

Sunrise Leap

Back from Hibernation

I had a great weekend in Dumaguete with Jeff and Trish.  We just ate, walked around, rested, ate, walked around, ate…get the picture?  Haha!  Thank God there’s the boulevard to burn off all the food we ingested.  It was both a food trip and a photography-slash-cam-whoring trip.  I almost used up a 2GB memory stick, while Jeff and Trish entirely used up their lower capacity ones, hehe.  I’ll post some photos and videos once I’m done sorting and resizing them.  I’m just checking in to say that I’m back in one piece and with even more love for one of my favorite places on Earth.

In the meantime, here’s the photo that I’m really enjoying right now:

It just sums up how I felt about being back there.

(Photo from TUAW)

(Photo from TUAW)

Saw the photo above and an accompanying article at TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog). It was taken at LAX. Best Buy is now selling iPods there through a vending machine. The article casts a doubt on the logic of taking an empty iPod on a trip, but I think this works better for impulse buyers or last-minute shoppers. But then again, how many people in the airport would think “Oh shoot, I forgot to buy an iPod!” 😀

I wonder what we’ll see on a vending machine next…

Another Gift from The Rain

Some people may get tired of hearing this from me, but I can’t help it. The rainy weather again brought something good to me – more specifically, another nice encounter with The Enigma. It felt like one of those romantic movies with slow motion and lingering glances involved.  Oh, and once again an elevator was involved, though not as directly as the previous encounter. Sigh…

Haay…parang teenager ulit, haha! Yun lang. My brain is still a bit of a scrambled mush to write about anything else.

A Breakfast Revelation

Over breakfast today, I finally told my dad that I was once sent to the Principal’s Office when I was in Grade 6.  I already forgot what we were originally talking about, but I suddenly felt it was a good time to tell him that little tidbit of information that he never knew.

It was a minor infraction, and I wasn’t the only one sent to the Office.  We had a school program, and our group performed a dance number.  It was in the late 80s, the dying years of punk, but it was definitely still there so obviously, we dressed (and made-up and accessorized) the part.  As part of the total punk look, we placed “beauty marks” and “tatoos” on our cheeks and arms – using permanent markers!  We got a little carried away because we were enjoying the “Catholic School Girls Gone Bad” feel.

Of course, the school administration was not amused.   Our conservative school gave equal importance to academic training and values and character formation, which means observing propriety at all times.  Our group was immediately led to the Principal’s Office after the program.  Thankfully, she did not deem it a big enough issue to call our parents.  She just wanted to teach us that there are more proper ways of doing things.

My dad was amused when he learned this.  Then he also told me his own Principal’s Office story.  Hehe, his deed was naughtier than mine, darn!

Happy World Animal Day!

Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.  This is the first year that a Mass with an animal blessing afterwards was held in our area (at the Chinese Pagoda in the River Park).  It was the project of the Marikina City Veterinary Office, which has been very active in recent years.

I kept saying that today is my dog’s baptism…after almost 8 years, hehe!  I told my dad that we should get him a set of godparents and give him a party.  Well, we didn’t get to the godparents part, but he unexpectedly got a party – and went home with a loot bag!  We thought that it was going to be just a Mass and a blessing, but it turned out that there was a program afterwards.  There was a game, special awards, and a raffle.  There was even some food for the humans.  It was also a great opportunity for the pets and their owners to socialize.  Animals really do have a way of making everyone friendlier than usual.  It was also like a children’s party in a sense that almost all the “parents” were busy documenting everything with their cameras/videocams (myself included, haha!).

I have only 3 still photos, none of them with my dog in it!  Maybe I should track down the other pet owners who took photos of my dog and ask for a copy.  I was all by myself so you could imagine the devil of a time I had holding on to my dog, his water bottle, and the camera.  I used mostly the video feature of the camera.  It’s very challenging to take good still photos with all the hyperactive animals!  Most of the animals were dogs, but there was one cat, a bluebird, a pair of love birds, and a snake.  Aside from the prizes for the raffle and the special awards, we all went home with some freebies and a loot bag filled with animal nutrition and grooming needs.  The next activity of the City Veterinary Office is a dog show on December 10.  We won’t be going as participants though…my dog’s “tricks” are more of a practical nature, i.e., waking me up in the morning (weekdays only), being highly toilet-trained, knowing the right person in the house to approach for food, walk, toilet and extra TLC, etc.

Ok, here are a couple of photos that I managed to take.  I’m still putting together and editing the video clips so I’ll probably post it some other time.

Proud parents after the baptism of their kids

Proud parents after the baptism of their kids

Doing The Right Thing

There’s a lot to be said for holding one’s ground on basis of principle, no matter how infuriating it could get or no matter how one just wants to give up. Well, I don’t like giving up. Even though I still get mad at the thought of it, I feel good knowing that I did the right thing. Last week, I was asked by a superior at work to do something which I strongly felt was unethical and unprofessional. We needed to have a contract notarized, and he didn’t have his Community Tax Certificate (CTC, or cedula in the vernacular) yet. So, he told me to just use the CEO’s CTC instead since, in his own words, “…the lawyer would not even find out it’s not mine in the first place; CTC numbers are just a formality. They won’t even bother to check it with City Hall.” That made my blood boil. Aside from the obvious legal and ethical tangles, that contract was for my big project. It was my reputation (and our company’s as well) with the other party that was on the line here, because he had the gall to let them know about his “bright idea”. Granted, what he said may be true in most cases, but I am never OK with circumventing legal and other government or business procedures. Call it idealism, call it naiveté, but I stand by that. There are already too many other gray areas in life. Besides, getting a CTC is such a small matter. Why couldn’t he be responsible enough to get one since I even reminded him about it ahead of time. I steadfastly refused to do what he wanted and told him my reasons. That definitely shut him up!

One of my first thoughts when this happened was: Kaya hindi umuunlad ang Pilipinas eh! Yes, that cliché punchline that has a lot of truth to it, nevertheless. How else could we move forward when such persons try to maneuver their way around such simple procedures?

This past month or so has been a test of patience and fortitude at work. Let me just encapsulate it as this: I feel like I’m also babysitting (a difficult baby at that!) instead of minding only my own job. That’s why this blog has been mostly silent or at least has had less serious entries or instead has topics that warm me up inside. Also, each time I get home, I just want to spend time with my dad, the dog, and then have some forms of very light entertainment (read: DVDs of my favorite movies and TV shows). I’m also enjoying time spent either online, in person, or on the telephone with some of my oldest friends. And I’m back to reading regularly! Well, well, lookie now…maybe this stress at work is actually bringing about good things.

Haay….at least I have that Dumaguete trip to look forward to – a trip that was originally just a whim which turned into a necessity. I think I’ll go mad if I don’t take a break soon. Hehe, the last time I was so stressed at work, I flew to Thailand with my friends. The airlines are happy when I’m stressed! :))

Ok, gotta get my beauty sleep now…have a great weekend to you all!