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Barefoot in Manila

Fishing for compliments. Complimenting for fish. It's a life.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Something for the stalker in you. Wow! Google has gotten so powerful that it's almost creepy. Last night, I looked for a friend I hadn't seen in years. Just on the off-chance that she might have a personal site, I went to Google and searched for her name. Well, she apparently didn't have a site but I got something as valuable: I got her e-mail address. It wouldn't have been as surprising if her name and e-mail were posted on the index page for everyone to see. In fact, it's buried deep within the site. You have to drill down three or four levels to get to it. How did they do that?

.: posted by cecille 11:33 AM

Sunday, March 24, 2002

Wave your palms together for the poor. Today is Palm Sunday and, since Catholicism is still big in the Philippines, the Archbishop's message for this special day usually gets played up a lot. I was browsing through this news site and the featured headline is about the Archbishop's message. Cardinal Sin (yes, that really is his name) is urging local parishes to make sure that they focus on pro-poor programs this year. He says fighting poverty has become much more crucial because of what transpired in EDSA Tres. Isn't that such a belated realization considering that poverty has been around for ages? That's also a bit rich coming from the Church since it owns a huge chunk of the land in the country. If they haven't seen fit to give these lands to the poor for the past 400 years, I somehow find it hard to believe that they'll serve the poor for real this time.

.: posted by cecille 8:54 AM

The four-day work week. Since January, there's been discussion of the four-day work week. The government, specifically Tourism Secretary Dick (and he really is) Gordon, is pushing for a longer weekend to encourage local tourism. It seems that the government has temporarily given up hope of attracting foreign tourists because of the perceived peace and order situation. I say perceived because, despite all the bad publicity, the Philippines is rather peaceful. I've been living in Manila all my life and I have never been mugged, my purse had never been snatched.
Business groups are complaining because they believe that shortening the work week would only add to the inefficiency of government service. They're also questioning why too much focus is being given to boost tourism. They say tourism isn't everything. The government, on the other hand, explains that local tourism would stimulate the economy--consumers will be spending and even the industries in far-flung places will increase their earnings. I think this makes some sense.
Government workers won't be getting a free cut though. Instead of working for 8 hours a day, they'll be working 10 hours. There's also no assurance that if they get an extra day free, they'll spend it roaming the country.

.: posted by cecille 8:53 AM

Saturday, March 23, 2002

This was supposed to be posted last night but my ISP was acting up. I went out with my friends earlier to this karaoke bar. The place was divided into small rooms which had a tv and sound system. A room for a group of five costs P500 per hour. The charge was consummable for food and drinks.
After two bottles of beer, I had a nice buzz. Everything was a bit hazy. Things looked to me the way they would look to a person who suddenly took off his glasses after wearing them for years. I still could see everything but the edges where one detail ended and another began were a bit blurred. I also felt like I had a head cold. I could hear everything okay but the sounds were a bit muffled, as if they weren't coming from those around me but from things a bit further away.
Surreal's the word, I guess.

.: posted by cecille 1:07 PM

Sometimes we get good luck. I always bitch about all the bad breaks I get that sometimes it's easy to forget that I do get good luck once in a while. Well, I got a nice one recently.
About a month ago, I applied to this IT company who was looking for people to write content for their websites. I sent in my resume and the following day I was scheduled for some testing. I had second thoughts about going because I wasn't given enough time to prepare. I also had some deadlines to meet at the office and I wasn't able to warn my boss that I was going to be out the following day. Despite all these misgiving, however, I decided to go. I didn't want to turn off whatever good karma was coming my way.
I should have known better though. The guy who was supposed to give me the exam didn't even show up. Worse, nobody from that office even bothered to attend to me. I was so pissed that I left. A few weeks after, the guy called me again, asking me to go back for the exam. I turned him down.
About a week ago, my friend came across an a story in the paper about the company. Their office was raided because they were using unlicensed Microsoft software. Wow! How could some people be so stupid? To top it all off, the newspaper story also listed the names of the people in the office using the pirated software. I could have been one of them. Thank goodness I didn't go through with my application. If they were too cheap to buy software, who knows how much they'd be willing to pay their people?

.: posted by cecille 1:06 PM

Thursday, March 21, 2002

The death of common sense. Here's a conversation that took place in our office some time ago:
M: I'm going to need some supplies. What form do I need to fill out?
A: That would be the supplies requisition form.
(M gets the form and shows it to A. Please note that the words "SUPPLIES REQUISITION FORM" are clearly printed on the paper.)
M: Is this it?
I rest my case. Is it hard to believe what you see?

.: posted by cecille 5:37 PM

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I'm getting tired of this. I've been happy for a little over 24 hours. That's a pretty good figure, I believe. Now, however, I'm back to the natural condition of man--the state of being generally pissed. Why can't things go my way for once?
I got this project late last year to help out an ambassador. She planned to come out with a book compilation of all the MOAs that were signed during her term. I was given the materials way back and I already started a bit of the work. I also did some reading on Australia, the country where she was assigned. The project was shelved for some time because the ambassador had to tie up all the loose ends she was leaving in Australia. She was getting reassigned back here.
I got an e-mail the other day saying that she wanted to meet about the project. Since the meeting was set to take place on campus, I felt that I had to tell my boss about the project. It would have been unethical for me to meet with these people during office hours for a side project he didn't know about. Taking on side projects (or rackets, as I usually call them) is okay, as long as you tell him about it.
I sent him an e-mail about it and, horror of horrors!, he told me to ask Minch to work with us. What? How? Why? The worst part of it was that I couldn't even ignore his suggestion since he already forwarded the e-mail to her.
I still can't believe what happened.
So now I have to work with M. I can just predict what will happen. I'll end up doing all the research and the reading and the writing and the legwork and the calling people up. And then, when everything's written up in pretty little words, she'll go through it wielding her vicious red pen.
And then we'll get paid equal. This, more than anything else is what hurts the most.

.: posted by cecille 5:39 PM

A post from the trenches. I'm sitted in front of my computer, trying to put mind over fingers and fingers over keyboard to come up with the mind-blowing text that will adorn the university's new site. So far, I've edited/re-written 10 pages out of 45. 35 more pages to go. And to think I promised my boss that I'll give him the text today.
Sarah McLachlan is singing her heart out but she still can't get me into a working groove. I can't focus. My mind's been hitchhiking everywhere. I work better when the sun's gone down and my officemates gone home. I wish it was always 5:30 pm.

.: posted by cecille 2:27 PM

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Today is a happy day. The 2001 Bar Exam results are out. My friend passed! Congratulations Dangz! I knew you would make it. My college blockmate Paolo made it to number 2 while Adon, a friend of a friend, is in 8th place. Wow!

.: posted by cecille 10:24 PM

Tongues are wagging. Even the heat of the sun can't vaporize the tension that's threatening to blanket Metro Manila. Rumour has it that the 2001 Bar Exam results are coming out today. In a few hours, some will be deliriously happy. Some will feel like killing themselves or doing some serious damage to others. I hope all my friends make it.
Wonder who's gonna come out on top?

.: posted by cecille 3:48 PM

Under the table and dreaming. So says Dave Matthews. Well, am dreaming alright but I'm nowhere near the floor or the table. I wish I'd wake up already. Now I'm fantasizing about all the good grades I'm gonna get. Don't worry though. I'll wake up from my delusions approximately one week after I go back to law school.

.: posted by cecille 3:41 PM

Happiness is egg-shaped. These words appear whenever I turn on my mobile phone. Everytime I see it, I just say to myself, "yeah, yeah..." Now, however, I'm so very happy. And these words, I realize, are just perfect to capture what I feel at the moment.
This frequently happens but I am deliriously happy today. I just found out this morning that I have been readmitted to law school. Wow. These are the thoughts I am currently digesting:
1. My pathetic grades made it.
2. I'll get another crack at proving that I'm not such a fuckwit.
3. Wow.
4. Wow.
5. Wow!
I can't stop myself from smiling everytime I remember my good news for today. Wow!

.: posted by cecille 2:59 PM

Monday, March 18, 2002

We're still on Nash, my dears. Finally some clarity. I take back all I said earlier. Tinny, true love exists after all.

.: posted by cecille 5:22 PM

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Who's telling the truth here? I was curious about what really happened to John Nash so I surfed for some stuff about him. I got some really interesting things and now I'm confused.
The movie showed that Nash could'nt interact with women well. He was always being slapped or spurned. Well, it turns out that, before he met his future wife Alicia (played by Jennifer Connelly in the movie), he had a child with Eleanor Stier. Why wasn't this mentioned in the movie?
The movie also showed his wife Alicia being very devoted to him, supporting him even when his mental state was at its worst. In fact, John Nash supposedly waxed romantic over "love" during his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Apparently, his wife divorced him when he got too crazy, although she continued to help him out.
Okay, Ron Howard, who's telling the truth here?

.: posted by cecille 8:24 AM

A beautiful mind. I saw A Beautiful Mind yesterday and I still can't stop thinking about it. The movie was so beautiful and Russell Crowe was so great in it. He should win the Oscar.
I'm just wondering if everything they put in the movie is true or if they indulged in some cinematic revisions. I couldn't believe they'd be so honest about what happened to him, especially since he's still alive and he'll have to deal with people's reactions to the movie. What struck me about the movie was Nash's consuming need to prove himself. I would have thought that, being a true genius, he would have been immune to such challenges. It seems that, contrary to what I earlier thought, the pressure is greater for him to make a mark. Otherwise, people will just say that he wasted his mind on trivia.

.: posted by cecille 8:22 AM

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Chuck WTO? The Philippines' Trade Secretary Mar Roxas is considering chucking the WTO. He says that, while the WTO contiues to twist the arms of less-developed countries to compel them to lower tariffs, the big guys like the US and the EU can get away with protecting their local industries.
I think it's about time. I'm sick of Bush parading his prissy ass around the world, preaching about free trade and then signing laws protecting American big business the minute he gets off the plane.

.: posted by cecille 8:32 AM

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Yeah, right. Not in this lifetime!

.: posted by cecille 4:54 PM

Today's blog is brought to you by the Letter N. Who would have thought that the letter N holds so much importance in Filipino social life that it could actually lead to the downfall of an esteemed university located in the heart (more like the arse, actually) of Ortigas? Apparently that crucial fact is known only to the esteemed Professor * (Because of the fact that I hold her in high esteem, I have decided to keep her unnamed in this entry).
Today, the esteemed Professor * decided that I was worthy of sharing this knowledge. This afternoon, she called our office to call my attention to an oversight on our website. She was horrified to discover that the word opening was spelled with an extra N. How could such callous disregard for the sanctity of the Letter N remain unnoticed for the better part of 2001? This heresy was just too much to contemplate. She flew into a rage and demanded that, at this very moment (and she really meant right a-fucking-way!), the offensive consonant be banished from the page. She lectured me about the cosmological implications of my error. How could I? Didn't I realize that, by putting an extra N, I was destroying the reputation of the university? She demanded that I rectify the error immediately so I called up our MIS to ask them to do the correction.
You'll be pleased to know that everything is okay now. Thank god the tragedy was caught just in time. I can't even begin to imagine the damage we'd have had in our hands had the esteemed Professor not pointed out my mistake in time. Ma'am, I'll never be able to thank you enough.

.: posted by cecille 4:52 PM

It's 1 am and I'm still up writing. I can just imagine the headache I'll have tomorrow. Ugh.

.: posted by cecille 1:04 AM

Reality check. What I write here isn't exactly Palanca material. Oh well, at least for a second I thought I was in the running.

.: posted by cecille 1:04 AM

A metastatement, anyone? The egg interrupts the incessant blogging with a few metastatements: I love blogging because it has given me a reason to write every day. Now I get to exercise my writing muscles in the hope that one day, they will be strong enough to win me a Palanca award. Hey, maybe I should start lobbying for a Palanca for web writing. Hmmm....

.: posted by cecille 1:03 AM

The cult of Jobs. All the presentors at the event were quoting Steve Jobs in their speeches. The admiration for what Jobs has achieved with Macintosh is fast attaining cultish proportions. In a few months he may very well be dubbed as the fourteenth apostle, if he isn't already. Jobs worship was so palpable that you could almost bump into it and hurt yourself in the process. Ouch! There it is...

.: posted by cecille 1:02 AM

Mac dreams. Every now and then I still catch myself drooling. It's been approximately 32 hours and I still can't keep thinking about all the good stuff that I saw at the Mac event I went to. Everybody who was anybody at Apple Philippines (and South Asia, for that matter) was there, doing the show and tell and sell act for almost the whole day. The Apple guys were like magicians digging into a gigantic magic hat and coming up with some of the neatest tricks the computing world has ever known.
Most of the people in the audience were PC users. Many of them have never used a Mac. All of us couldn't stop oohing and aahing with the software and hardware on show. Of course, there was an element of wryness in my "Wows" since I use an OS X cousin (my office iMac has OS 9.1) everyday. "Poor PC person," is the message I sent my seatmate with my haughty look as he gushed at the Mac's operating system.

.: posted by cecille 1:01 AM

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Why can't it be me? I'm back in the office, staring at my Mac and contemplating my (still!) iPod-less existence. I was out for the whole day yesterday, attending the Mac event at the Shangri-La Hotel. As I guessed earlier, they did give away an iPod. And the winner was... not me. What a tragedy. How can they give it to that guy? As I watched him approach the stage to claim his prize, I could see that he was not the type of person who will truly appreciate 5 gigs worth of disk space on a portable mp3 player. I shiver everytime I think that, right about now, Mr. Lucky One is currently filling up his iPod with The Best of the Platters or even, God forbid, Michael Learns to Rock.
I don't think I can deal with this. I will need some counselling. And fast!

.: posted by cecille 11:20 AM

Monday, March 11, 2002

You feel lucky today, punk? That's what I'll be saying to myself tomorrow when I attend the Mac seminar at the Shangri-La Plaza in Makati. I've prepared a bunch of calling cards so I can join the raffles they've got lined up. I hope they give away an iPod tomorrow. I promise to be nice to everyone, without any exceptions, if I get lucky and bring home an iPod.

.: posted by cecille 10:57 PM

Like the weather? The weather in Manila has turned schizophrenic. For some days now, it can't seem to make up its mind whether to succumb to summer or hold on to the vestiges of December's cold. And we're all caught in the middle of this climatic tug of war.
I'm sitting in front of my computer with the fan aimed straight at me. The humid night air is choking my pores. If I go to sleep with the fan turned on, I'll wake up shivering to the morning's cool air tomorrow. If I dispense with the fan, I'll be sweating in bed until the cold air deigns to relieve me of the heat.
Manila is rife with lunacy. Apparently, the weather is not immune.

.: posted by cecille 10:56 PM

A typical situation. Writers never get paid right. That, my friend, is the melancholy truth of things, as Clive Barker once said. No matter how hard you work at stringing words together, people will always think they can do it equally well or, perhaps, even better. Just because they can speak, they think they'll be able to write. Just because they can think up ideas, they believe they'll be able to present these ideas in logical form. Nothing can be further from the truth.
I've been writing for a living for almost four years now and writing has never been easy for me. Regardless of whether I'm writing something for publication or just drawing up an internal office report, I'm still overwhelmed by nerves and frustration everytime I try putting my thoughts together. When, after so much inner turmoil, the article is completed, I still end up unsatisfied with what I have done. I've been working like this for years and I have resigned myself to the process.
With all the suffering that a 'writer' puts up with, the only consolation then is for the work to be recognized and appreciated. Sadly, in today's work environment this recognition mostly comes in the form of your paycheck. The digits in your paycheck are translated into brownie points that show just how good you are in your work and how valuable you are to the company. For the past years that I've been divining the signs as laid out in my paycheck, I've consistently gotten two messages: a) that, contrary to what I'd like to think, I am not that good, and b) they can chuck me anytime and the company wouldn't be any worse off.
The messages I have received don't exactly put me in the mood for a dance of joy. However, after self-hypnosis and constant positive reinforcement, I have come to terms with my situation. That is, until my mole at Personnel gave me some rather disturbing news: It seems that some of the junior programmers get more than I do. Don't get me wrong. I know that programming is difficult and that it entails a lot of thinking and planning to come up with decent work. I know that programming has as much to do with logic as writing does. You draw up a set of arguments which will lead you to a certain conclusion. I know that programmers studied extensively to be able to do what they do. Still I can't help thinking that what I'm doing is more difficult and, consequently, is more worth.
Take Programmer A. He can do HTML, Javascript, and whatever else you need to build websites. I work with him in putting up the company site. But while he can do the programming, I have to come up with the structure and content for the site. I have am responsible for updating it and talking to users to see how their experience of navigating the site has been. I know what he's doing is important but, in the final analysis, he's just implementing the ideas I draw up. From my perspective, what I'm seeing is a situation where the carpenter is paid more than the architect.
I have a lot of respect for programmers and I know that some of them are really smart. In this case, however, I honestly believe that I am doing a lot more for the company than Programmer A. I hope the people who sign my paycheck realize this. Unfortunately, I'm too chickenshit to confront them about it so all I can do is rant about it here.

.: posted by cecille 12:36 AM

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Mischief in the cosmos. It's funny how some of the greatest things you'll discover will come to you when you least expect them. We'll see the best movies, hear the most unforgettable music, discover the greatest love just when we're not looking. This is the "divine comedy." And we're the stars, playing our roles 24/7 as the gods plot in the background for our comeuppance.
The tragedy with us humans is that we take ourselves too seriously. We think the world revolves around us, even when astronomy has overwhelmingly shown that we all belong to just one puny planet in a puny galaxy floating in a microscopic corner of space.
So when I wake up to discover that the tap water has turned nasty, I think that there is some cosmic plot against me. When I can't get a ride after 15 minutes of waiting, I conclude that another conspiracy to make my life miserable has been hatched. When my boss catches me surfing the net during the 10-minute break I take after working for the whole day, I say that there is an Annoy and Humiliate Order drafted by fate with my name on it.
When I was in college, my political philosophy class professor said that humans constantly look for order in the universe because they can't handle the concept of chaos. For me, the universe doesn't just need to work a certain way, it has to work a certain away with me at the center of everything.
Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the universe." Well yes, but if we can read , write, and do a little math, perhaps the universe should to revolve around us.

.: posted by cecille 9:23 AM

My thing for Mr. Barker. I was staring at my bookshelves, thinking of something worth writing about when I saw my collection of Clive Barker books. I counted them and discovered that I had amassed quite a number. Then I got to thinking about how I discovered Clive Barker.
It was in early 1998 when I first heard about Clive Barker. As with other people working in government, I had tons of free time at my disposal. The office wasn't connected to the net so I had no other outlet on which I could focus the listlessness of my mind. So I turned to reading that stack of Mirror magazines gathering dust on top of the steel cabinets. That's when I came across Karen Kunawicz, a Filipino writer. She writes a column for the magazine and she sometimes invites other people to write for her column as well. One of them wrote about the best horror books of all time. I was pretty much tired of Stephen King by then so I eagerly scanned the list of alternatives.
A week later, I was scanning the books on sale when I saw one by Clive Barker. It's called Sacrament. It was one of the best books I've read and after that, I was hooked.
I had read so much of his stuff that I already considered myself a Clive Barker expert. So when I was asked during my interview for admission to Law School, I accidentally blurted out his name when asked what I would like to talk about. (Before the interview, I was warned by upperclassmen that you only volunteer topics that you feel you know more about than the professors. Otherwise, they'll run rings around you.) I got the desired effect, I guess, as all the esteemed professors could say was, "Who is he?" At least I found something on which I was an expert and on which they were completely clueless.

.: posted by cecille 9:22 AM

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Do the math. What is the square root of minus one?

.: posted by cecille 8:55 AM

(In)Fidelities. A few months ago, a friend of mine who's married almost separated from her husband after she found out that he was having an affair. This time, another friend of mine is having an affair with a married man. And I am stuck in the middle of all these plots, torn between minding my own business and respecting their privacy.
In the first case, it was easy enough since my married friend came to me and told me everything. At least I felt that whatever advice I gave her was solicited. In the second case, I'm having a much more difficult time since I'm not even supposed to know that she is involved with a married man. How do you tell somebody that what she's doing is wrong when you're not even supposed to know what she's doing? But how can I keep my mouth shut when, as a friend, it is my duty to at least remind her that what she's doing won't do her any good in the long run? Not calling her attention on their infidelity means I'm also being unfaithful to our friendship.
And it's doubly hard not to talk to her about what she's doing now that I've seen the other side of the coin--the side of the wife trying to make sense of why her husband was unfaithful to her.

.: posted by cecille 8:50 AM

A minibreak, if you will. I'm taking half of the day off from work today. I don't really have anything planned for the extra three hours of free time. Maybe I'll work on this site for a bit (as I'm doing right now), surf around the net a little, and then try to finish the book I started reading last night. What I definitely won't do is go to the mall and do some quick shopping before heading to the office. This can spell disaster, as the experiences of my officemate has repeatedly shown.
It feels weird to take a break from the office a mere day after the weekend. I was all set to go to work earlier today. I woke up early (a rare occurrence), got my clothes together, and headed for the bathroom. The tap, however, seemed to have other plans as all it produced is murky, smelly water.
So now, here I am killing time until noon. I hope the water clears up by then.

.: posted by cecille 8:50 AM

Sunday, March 03, 2002

Pirated CDs. Pirated cds are now all over the place. You find stalls selling them in almost all places where people congregate. The centers for pirated cds, however, are still Quiapo (which used to be the shopping center of Manila but is now filled with crime and grime) and Greenhills, San Juan (a small municipality near Manila. The home of the notorious Estrada family). I went to Quiapo yesterday to get a bunch of pirated cds. The stall across my workplace sells these cds for P60 but in Quiapo, you can get them for as low as P30.
I bought two karaoke cds for my dad, who loves to sing, and I bought a vcd of Sting's Brand New Day tour and some music cds for myself. I know that buying pirated cds is just like stealing: I'm depriving artists of the chance to profit from their work. However, in a situation where you have to pay for P425 and up for a cd that you can get for P30, it's very easy to succumb to temptation. Anyway, if it's any defense, I don't buy pirated versions of cds out in the market. I only buy compilation cds of artists I like but not that much for me to spend P450 on. I spend hundreds of pesos for Dave Matthews and Counting Crows cds.
And I also don't buy pirated cds of Filipino artists. Business is not so good here right now and they need all the help that they can get.

.: posted by cecille 7:33 AM

Langhap sarap. The phrase literally means "smells delicious." Back in the early 90s, this was being used by a burger joint (Jollibee) to promote their food. I was reminded of this slogan a few weeks back when a friend recounted to me what her teacher said when she attended some classes in advertising.
They were talking about how Jollibee came up with the slogan. According to the teacher, Jollibee commissioned a market study on Filipino consumers. They found out that Filipinos liked to smell their food before they took a bite out of it. For Filipinos, food not only has to taste good, it has to smell nice as well (Of course, there are exceptions. Filipinos love a fruit called durian but you'll never believe how it can stink up a room.).
I wanted to see if this is true so I started observing other people eating whenever I'm eating out. You'll never believe what people do with their burgers.

.: posted by cecille 7:30 AM