Friday, July 18, 2008

Regroup

There are days like today when you just have to stay at home in your pajamas, eat popcorn and blog.

By god, have I been making mistakes at work lately. Although not fatal, they eventually add up to form that dreadful cloud of incompetence looming over my head. I’ve been trying to shoo that cloud away. But it’s sticking around like dog shit in my happy field of lush green grass.

I could just blame the impossible work load, which makes weekends to myself, at least six hours of sleep and hence, daytime concentration impossible. But my corner of the world has always suffered from the same dizzying schedule. Unless the human race finally decides to live in peace and do away with lawyers, I'm sure it will be like this forever. I must simply take a step back, look at the battlefield, rethink and regroup.

So here I am at home on a weekday, in my pajamas, eating popcorn and blogging. I feel bad for not going to work, but I feel I deserve a break.

Poso negro nga napupuno; utak ko pa kaya.

Friday, July 11, 2008

We Deserve Better

The reason why I don’t like dealing with the Government is because government offices are so grossly inefficient. As a general rule, government personnel lack even half the skills required to discharge the functions of their office. That’s because most of them are hired not on the basis of merit but because they’re related somewhat to ‘Gov’ or ‘Mayor’.

Infrastructure is terrible, which makes mediocre personnel turn pitiable. How could clerks be expected to work efficiently when they’re surrounded with decomposing documents and their offices smell like outhouses? So, I guess, they should get some slack for looking miserable all the time and coming across as perennially sad that they had to go to work. I forgive them for wearing furry slippers and eating saging na saba on their desks outside of lunch hour. But I refuse to acknowledge bad environment as an excuse for regular incompetence.

In a province outside Manila today, it took me close to two hours just to get a certification from an office, that our client had no pending criminal cases. The reason: They had no computers, which means their inventory of cases consists of a pile of yellow pad papers fastened on the side. Names aren’t even in alphabetical order. They are handwritten, so the clerks had to manually go over each and every folio, looking for our clients’ names.

The printing of the actual certification is another matter. The clerk had no idea how to work the computer, which resulted in an unfortunate waste of printing paper and ink. She also knew little English, so I ended up writing the certification on scratch paper and handing it to her for typing.

It’s just so sad, considering that not one Filipino can live his life without having to transact with the Government. Government workers should be better paid, greater appreciated, so only competent and honest people would end up in its ranks. We deserve better.

** Picture originally appears in http://heritageconservation.wordpress.com/category/bohol/.

Thoughts So True They're Worthy of a Quotation

“If you speak to anyone from UP – student, professor, alumnus - you will get no Latin slogans or apologies about how the school teaches values in spite of its outward materialism.  This is not a student population that thinks about basketball games or memorizes school songs.  This is not a school that chooses one statement to drill into the minds of its students.

This is not, of course, to say that UP does not care about values.  It is that UP, in its own inimitable way, believes that values cannot be force-fed. The statue of the naked man that guards the entrance to the campus in Diliman best represents UP’s approach to all education and the respect for students that is the center of its educational philosophy.  All who come to this university, regardless of origin, bring themselves naked, carrying nothing but their thirst; like the proverbial empty teacup, making an offering of self, waiting to be filled…There are no children here.”

– Prof. Maya Baltazar Herrera, Voyage - first published in the Manila Standard Today

(Read the rest of her article here.)

Isn't She Lovely

I love U.P. with every bone in my body. I love the eight years that I spent in the Diliman campus, which are thus far the best years of my life.

After graduating from high school, I prayed everyday for the Lord God Almighty to please make me pass the UPCAT. I guess I was meant to spend weekdays eating isaw in front of Ilang-ilang, so I passed. Coming from an all-girls’* Catholic school, you could just imagine what a shock U.P. was to me.

U.P. recognized a student organization called the “Atheists’ Circle.” Its student population had the strangest demography ever known to mankind. In class, I sat in the same row as the daughter of a General, who was in the habit of wearing white miniskirts to class and the son of a farmer from Samar, who wore the same pair of jeans every time. Meanwhile, our professor sat on his table instead of on his chair while he lectured. He sipped occasionally from the Zesto tetrapak that he brought to class, because Starbucks was then inexistent in the Philippines and he probably was too underpaid to afford a venti mocha frap anyway.

U.P. taught me discipline, since only 2 of my professors religiously attended class during the semester. The rest told us to just “please photocopy the syllabus from my office at the FC; let’s meet after four weeks for our midterm exam.” U.P. taught me to proud of being Filipino; to do everything in my power to change the Philippines for the better; to accept differences in opinions; and, to dip my fishball into the sauce only once – all for less than Php200 per unit.

I remember in U.P., the branches of the trees along the academic oval touched pass the oblation, forming a canopy of leaves over student joggers and ice cream vendors alike. It was a lovely sight.

* Debatable.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Revenge of the Nerds

Thanks to youtube, I am now able to solve a Rubik’s cube in ten minutes. Pao will claim that he is able to solve it in five. I cannot confirm this categorically because Pao times himself. But it is quite possible for him to be better at solving things, considering, among others, my unstable emotional quotient.

The first Rubik’s cube that I bought was from Tickles in Glorietta. What a sore waste of money. It turned to this in a couple of days. We bought another one of these cheap Made-in-China Rubik’s in the Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao. We were waiting for the showing of our friend’s independent film and couldn’t find anything to do in the meantime, so we got ourselves another puzzle. This one is sitting on our console table as I write. It is, again, quite another useless piece of crap.

My favorite Rubik’s is the one that we bought at a magic store in Shopwise. It glides easily, which makes solving it faster. Pao bought another one last Saturday in Tiendesitas. The Tiendesitas Rubik's is okay but I’m not using it out of loyalty to my Shopwise piece.

So anyway, it turns out that we have a knack for discovering the "IN" thing earlier than the rest of the Philippines. There was, lo and behold, a Rubik’s cube-solving competition at the mall last weekend.

Uso na pala ito. "In na in" na talaga ako. Shucks.

Responsible Pet Stewardship

Pipo went to the groomers* for the first time in his 28-doggieyear existence. We did not see the need to bring him there previously because one, he's a smoothcoat so he has very little hair, and two, he doesn't get very dirty because he sleeps on our beds.

However, there was no escaping the groomers this time. It was an urgent matter of health and sickness. It turns out, the flesh inside a dog’s nails grows with his nails. If ignorant owners like us are not into the habit of regularly cutting the subject pet’s nails, then the flesh inside that has grown too long would have to be cauterized, resulting in some amount of blood loss. Ouch.

Fortunately, groomers have sort of a quick-stop ointment that they place on the nails immediately after cutting to make the bleeding stop faster. But this is not an excuse for making Pipo, the devil that he is, bear the consequences of our ignorance. So, if you’re a pet owner, please take your pet to the groomers this weekend. It isn't just a vanity trip. It's something that has to be done to make having to live with you more bearable for your pet.

*My apologies for the pic. I tried to turn it right side up but I failed. Just tilt your head 45 degrees to the right. There you go.

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Adoptive Province

I consider myself an Ilocano, although I’ve never lived in Cagayan Valley. My visits to the North, in fact, have never been for more than five days a time. I just grew up in an Ilocano household.

My parents spoke to each other in Ilocano. As children, my sister and I enjoyed a constant supply of Alcala Milk (pastillas from Alcala, Cagayan), patupat (triangle-shaped rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves), tinubong (kakain cooked inside a bamboo), and tinupig* (coconut kakanin roasted in leaves and then wrapped in newspaper). My father also occasionally slaughtered your standard goat in our garage at home. He would then cook the goat’s innards to make papaitan, which expectedly resulted in complaints from the neighbors because well, innards smell terrible when boiled.

So even though I’ve lived in Metro Manila my entire life, I automatically answer “Cagayan Valley” to the standard small-talk question of “San ang probinsya mo?” I feel a certain affinity with Ilocanos. I actually understand Ilocano; I just do not speak it for fear that I would end up bastardizing the dialect.

I suddenly remembered papaitan, pinakbet, dinardaraan** and all the fantastic smells and tastes of my childhood because in La Union today, I found myself saying “Wen” to the judge's question that went: "Maawatam ti Ilocano?"

*Shown here. I bought a bunch along the National Highway in Pangasinan on my way home. Doesn't quite taste like Cagayan tinupig though.

** Ilocano for dinuguan, aka "blood soup."

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