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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.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Yeah, right. Not in this lifetime!

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.

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

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.

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....

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...

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.


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