September 27, 2006

Blogger Blooper

Omigosh! I just got notification from blogger beta that I have successfully transferred my files and may now access the new site. So here I go, clicking on the link and voila! what do i see? A number of comments need to be moderated read boldly in front of me. Had I not shifted to beta I would not have realized about this thing called comments moderation. I obviously know neither heads nor tails about the options I selected in the blog tabs when I started out blogging. Whew! I'm quite the newbie huh?

So for those who have not seen their commenst published, I sincerely apologize for my lapse, er, ignorance.

September 26, 2006

Opportunity... Or Not

Received a text message from friend Glo yesterday saying she's already in Manila and just killing time before the BlogCon at G4 starts. And what better place to be than at an internet cafe, huh? Hey Glo, I'll be waiting for your post about last night.

Anyway, I'm back at the lab and just surfing through the net before my boss comes in. Hmm, left the lab last night with a question hanging over my head... talk about Damocles...
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You see, our company is offering a leadership development training to the manufacturing staff. And with our training team having this thing about being into whatever is the IN thing for the moment, yesterday was our First Day High. Trainings always start with the latest dance moves or games or reality show gimmick from their favorite local TV channel. Can't relate? ABS-CBN is airing a reality TV show on Pinoy Dream Academy while First Day High is a recently shown movie. Anyway, the whole plant seems to be a-buzzing with this learning academy fever and they're all just a-wanting to infect everyone with that much-needed projection of a highly contagious enthusiasm for this company schooling thingy. Everyone on shift was there. Everyone, that is, except me. So, what can you expect? It didn't take like 10 minutes after the program started when my desk-side phone started ringing. My boss called to ask why I didn't attend. After a few minutes of explaining, came the change in tone to a half note lower and the inevitable just had to happen. "Usap tayo mamaya." (Let's talk later.)

The later came a real bit late. I was on my way out at 5pm when she called me to talk about what happened that morning. Wow, she made it sound like it was such a big thing and there I was completely forgetting like it was already eons ago. "It was no big deal", I said. So why did I not go, she asked. "Was I not interested?", she added. "Is it okay if I did not join?", I asked. "Of course, I can't force you. But we have to talk about the why," she pushed.

Fair enough. The woman has a point. This kind of training does not happen very often. And there's no plan of it being repeated in the future. It's a leadership training program slated for the next three years (wow, long , huh?), covering most of the managerial skills (technical/behavioral/emotional) needed to equip future bosses. With the company rapidly expanding and most of top management haggling their time and attention between two departmental posts, it's high time to ready the second-level management staff for the succession planning.

So why do I not want this? It's almost a dream come true. Other staff members are even wanting to be in on it but they have not been chosen. Call it apathy. Call it indifference. Call it whatever you want. I'm way past caring. I distinctly recall a time when talks of such would cause a glimmer in my eye in anticipation. Now, the magic's gone. Yes, it's now only just a nice-to-have. But I do not see myself happily diving into it. It's a once-only-offered chance, I know. And my boss says there's a big take-out from this training.

Well, maybe my head's gone unsrewed coz I still can't see the total equation. I'm no opportunist, that I know much of myself. And I have long decided not to entrust my career pathing to the company. I'll work on it myself. The 'big boss' had once said not to demand that. So far thus this I know: that it wouldn't be fair.. for me to expect more from the company and for the company to expect more from me.

I can still hear her voice ringing: "It is a privilege that not everyone else gets to have." Let me see... a random act of kindness?, or might I say, generosity? Nah... I don't think so.

September 22, 2006


Today I remember my Lolo Francis and youngest brother Tom-Tom. Today is their birthday.

My family lived with my grandparents until I was eight. So basically we kids spent our formative years with my grandparents, uncle and aunts.

I remember my grandpa vividly. We call him Lolo Francis. He would take us out whenever it was payday. We would either go to the park or go see a movie or eat at our favorite Chinese restaurant where me and my kuya(older brother) would order special halo-halo and monggo siopao while Lolo shares with us his Pancit Canton and Pan (Sliced Bread). He would take us to the Christmas Party at his office and we would enjoy the games and go home regaling everyone about the party and showing off our new toys. He was to me the best electrician I know back then (what can I say, he's my grandpa!). Mommy said she was still young when he opened the first radio shop in Iligan and that was quite a feat back then.
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Lolo Francis was so full of good stories. He was funny actually. He never seemed to run out of antics whenever a situation calls for it. When my kuya took a fall from climbing the hollow block wall (which gave while he was on top) in our backyard, my parents scolded him and warned all us kids in the house not to do what he did. He was just super-adventurous. Mommy took kuya to the doctor. When they got home from the clinic, kuya was in a crutch and limping real hard. And to impress upon us the danger of having accidents, lolo walked into the room and did this skit:
Lolo: “Ayo!” (Good day!), “Ayo!”
“Naa si Ivan?” (Is Ivan Home?”)
“Kinsa nga Ivan?” (Ivan who?)
“Si Ivan nga kiang ba…” (Ivan, the cripple)
And he went limping around the house all day, saying, “Do you want to be crippled like this?” We never attempted to climb up high walls or trees without being accompanied by the oldies after that.

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But, he was a disciplinarian. My mom used to tell us that, growing up in the farm, Lolo used to wake them kids as early as 4am to get an early start for the day. The eldest daughter, Auntie Madeilyn was assigned to the kitchen and Mommy was assigned to the house cleaning chores, and they would team up to do the laundry afterwards. All the chores have to be done before the sun is too high up in the sky. Lolo would not want to see them idle, and so would continuously give them things to do. He says these were for character building and discipline, something that Mommy also did with us.

My Lolo died at the age of seventy. He got lonely after Lola Susing died. He acquired many illnesses soon after. I was already studying and away in College when he died. I went home for his funeral. And I was not surprised at the number of people who came to pay their respect. He was a good soul. And he will continue to live in our memories. I sure have plenty of tales to tell my kids about my own Lolo Francis.


I was still so little when Tom-Tom was born. I vaguely recall Mommy being rushed to the nearby hospital the night before. Everyone was busy preparing for Lolo’s birthday. When I woke up the next day, Daddy was already home and getting ready to go to work. I later learned that my mom gave birth early that morning.

The day went by in a blur, as everyone seems to have loads of things to do. It was late afternoon when I heard my aunts buzzing downstairs at the kitchen. Curious to see what was causing all the commotion, I peeped down just in time to see my Mom getting up the stairs with my Auntie behind her carrying a little baby. They just rested in the room, while us kids (my two brothers and cousins, too) took turns silently filing in to the room to take a wee look at the newest member of the gang. We were told not to make much sound as it will just wake the baby up. By nightfall, I saw Dad hurrying home to change so he can take us with him to visit my mom. He still did not know mom was already discharged from hospital. So just imagine his surprise when he opened the door and saw them already home.

That night was truly doubly fun for us all. Lolo Francis and Lola Susing were very happy. Daddy and Mommy were also very happy. My aunts and uncles, lolos and lolas, cousins and brothers, and even visitors joined in the merriment and gaiety upon learning of the double birthday celebration. My mom also said they named the baby after Lolo and my Papa Tomas (Daddy’s only brother). He was named Francis Thomas. And everyone began calling him Tom-Tom.

Then a bombshell was dropped on us. The next day, Tom-Tom was rushed to the hospital. Apparently my mom or Lola noticed that he was cyanotic. He was turning blue, and everyone knows it is not a good sign. The doctor explained he had a hole in his heart. He stayed for two days at the hospital and was placed in an incubator. When he came home, we were all very quiet. I remembered being told that we should not stress the baby. So we just peeked in on him and would silently leave the room.

There were two more episodes of cyanosis and he would be rushed to the hospital again. I do recall my mom crying all the time. She was very sad. I know my dad was sad, too. But since he was working, I could not see him in his melancholy. Mommy was staying at home and I sensed just how sad she was.

They were told that Tom-Tom will not be able to make it. We were living in a small town down in the south where medical facilities and staff were still not that up-to-date. And all we could do was accept that fate. In readiness for Tom-Tom’s demise, Mommy had him baptized right away. Tom-Tom’s godparents were a priest and a nun who Mommy knows from our school.

Tom-Tom died early morning on September 28, 1979. It was biesperas (eve of the town fiesta). Our patron saint in Iligan City is St. Michael, the Archangel. And because nobody wanted to dwell too long on the pain of his passing, he was buried that very afternoon. The fiesta was not a happy one that year. My Mommy was wallowing in grief and Daddy was very quiet and aloof. And we kids did not know if we could laugh and still have fun.

Every Sunday after mass (we usually attend the 9 o’clock mass), we would go directly to the cemetery and put flowers on Tom-Tom’s tomb. Mommy explained to us that Tom-Tom is already an angel and has gone to join God in heaven. All through my life I have always pictured him as a cherubim, silently watching over us… crying with us when we hurt, laughing with us in our joy, praying for us when we’ve fallen, and cheering for us in our every adventure in life.
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It was sometime this year that I was talking to my mom about family stuff and all. Then she suddenly said that she remembered Tom-Tom. She said he was the handsomest of her 3 boys. She saw when he was born that, although he was darker than my two other brothers, he had the most prominent nose and the most gwapo features. I was amazed she remembered. I forwarded an email two months ago of a beautiful and touching story about how a little baby was touched and saved by the Lord. And Daddy emailed back that he suddenly remembered about Tom-Tom and said Tom-Tom would have been 27 years old already this year. Again, I was amazed he remembered.

Tom-Tom had only a week to travel this life but he has blessed us in that short span. Lolo Francis lived to a ripe old age and he has blessed us so much and touched a lot of lives around him. I am still struggling in my own life and I can see that I’ve still got a long way to travel and still have much to learn of life.

"Think of stepping on the shore and finding it heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God's, of breathing new air and finding it celestial, of waking up in glory and finding it home." - Don Wyrtzen

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September 12, 2006

More Revelations

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I slept over at friend A’s house the other day. I had been emailing her several times in the past to inform me should she ever be in from Bicolandia, but had not gotten any response from her. Finally, I got a text while at work asking if I can come over that night. Turns out, she read a very recent (not yet deleted) email I sent her (thankfully) asking for some chika time with her. (My, my… could it be?.. the way batchmates Mara and Pabs call me Queen of Chika?..hmm..) Truth is, I really just wanted to know how she’s getting along. Heard some news, you see… But this isn’t the time or place.. I’m no tell-tale, beh!

And so, after packing a few needed items for an overnight, off I went.. in true lakwatsera fashion… hair tied up in a knot, backpack in hand, whistling an out-of-tune version of Hotel California as I settled on the empty seat of the jeepney, and mindlessly brushing away a tiny speck of brown from the spotless white of my blouse. But wait… oh sh_t! I have not changed my uniform! This spotless blouse would well soon be – what was it those kids call it in the toothpaste commercial? – ecrue, grey, off-white… haay!!!!

I arrived early and so decided to pop in at neighboring friend J’s house. But alas, the house was oh so dark when I got there. Nobody was at home. To pass the time while waiting for A to arrive, I squatted on an empty chair at the corner where a middle-aged lady was furiously fanning out embers in her make-shift streetfood stand. Already starting to get hungry, I ordered a stick of isaw (grilled chicken intestine), made sure it was cooked through, dipped it in spicy vinegar and began my nibbling. It tasted good. So I ordered one more, then another, and still another. (Whew! It sure was a hepa trip.) Lookie, lookie here...
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Feeling certain she was already home, I left the barbecue stand smelling like I was the one that got barbecued. The night was spent doing what else but chika. And that would mean keeping in touch through tears, rants and revelations more. We slept so late that it was so hard to open my eyes a few hours later. After saying goodbye by the jeepney loading area across the terminal where A rode her bus to work, I too readied my mind for another day’s grind.

Halfway to the plant, I noticed my co-worker who was also in the jeep. I went to sit beside her and tried to make small talk while the driver steered our way through several traffic we found ourselves in. Co-worker M paid her fare when we were already near the Balibago complex and started relating why she doesn’t immediately pay the moment she gets on a jeep. She makes sure she has not yet paid so that whenever the notorious gang of cellphone snatchers would happen to get on the jeep she is riding, she can readily get down soon after without having to pay a second time on the next jeep she rides in.

She further relates it’s usually several men who spread out inside the jeep, making damn sure to squeeze themselves so tightly in between already seated passengers. These guys, she says, are so good at stealing cellphones and wallets without the people knowing they are being robbed. My co-worker says she has even seen how they do it, right in front of her. She got so scared and got off the jeepney when she saw other ‘knowing’ passengers whispering and hurriedly alighting too. I was however so bothered by her revelation… more than the fact that she does not pay almost ¾ of the way already should she encounter such happenstance again! By golly, if this indeed has really been going on, why aren’t the people doing anything? Rumor has it, says my co-worker, that these guys have some connection with the police in the area. The gang has been going in and out of jail. And have for some time now been plying the route of Olivares-Platero Hiway in BiƱan.
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Pity on those who have been victimized by this gang. City councilors, kagawads, hey where have you been while all this was going on?

September 11, 2006


A Story of Friendship

Two women had shared a very special friendship for many decades. They have always taken time to know how the other is doing. They have kept in touch through the years. These days, however, their activities have been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards.
One day, one of them looked at the other and said, "Now don't get mad at me ... I know we've been friends for a long time ... but I just can't think of your name! I've thought and thought, but I can't remember it. Please tell me what your name is."
Her friend glared at her. For at least three minutes she just stared and glared at her. Finally she said, "How soon do you need to know?"
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Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.—Anonymous

I love stories of friendship, especially ones that tell of strong enduring bonds. That’s why I’ve told myself time and again that I’ll never break ties with good friends.

September 07, 2006

Of Scents and Sensibilities

Funny how my sense of smell moves me. Scents always have this uncanny way of stirring up memories in my head. Today I chanced upon a wooden-carved fan that I own and which smelled of sandalwood.
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Suddenly, my memories took me back to younger days.

I remember when I was a child, I used to trudge along with my maternal grandmother on her trips across the country. Lola Susing, as we fondly called her, was a viajera, a comprador. She would go to the far end of Zamboanga to buy all kinds of wares that there was to sell: clothes, shampoo, toothpaste (are you familiar with Maxam?), tsinelas, make-up, bed sheets, linen and more. I vaguely recall soaps and scents of rose and sandalwood. Zamboanga, then (and even until now I hear), was the entry port of several goods into the country- some were legit, some just smuggled in.
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I guess Maxam has been replaced by some other brands now. And many more items have slowly found their way into the country this way- automobiles, motorbikes or what-have-you's..

My enterprising grandma would then do the rounds of Mindanao and the Visayan shores, peddling her wares and earning a small profit in the offing. As you can see, this aimless wanderer had a fairly early start with the travelling thingy. It's a little disconcerting to realize however that the trade and barter skills didn't quite rub off on me.

With Lola Susing, it was never the money that made her do what she did, I guess. Sure, her earnings helped augment my Lolo Francis' salary to feed a family of five...families.. ( you see, they've got grown-up kids who's got growing kids, too). Uhm, and that would be us. We grandkids would get a new blouse or new shorts or new tsinelas every now and then. But she never got rich. Not the got-millions-in-the-bank kinda rich, I mean. But we sure had a comfortable and sensible life. We grew up being taught the motto of leading a simple yet sensible life.

But in all my trips and adventures accompanying her on her jaunts, I saw her become alive when she was doing her haggling and selling. There was a certain glint in her eyes whenever she made 'the sale'. And I think it was the thrill of interacting with different people, some of them complete strangers, and then being able to convince them to buy that really made her day. She was good with people. She would even give good bargains, too. "A sensible buy, a sensible buy", she would say.

So, in celebration of grandparents day on Sunday, I write in remembrance of my granny.
Lola Susing,Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting she sure made life a little bit sweeter every time.

September 06, 2006

Reuniting with Mister God

“What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?” (Erich Segal’s Love Story)

Why do good stories always stay with us? Most good stories I’ve come across don’t have happy endings but they stay. They stay because they leave imprints in the mind and in the heart. Such is this story which begins: "The diffrense from a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside."

I still remember the time I first read it. I was in fifth grade and our class was lucky to have an amazing woman as our homeroom adviser: Mrs. MJ – feisty, pretty, astute Maam MJ. She was new to the school. But she captivated us and we took to her like fishes to water. She was one of the ‘radically wonderful’ influences of my young life.

Having noticed that I was a voracious pocketbook reader, Mrs. MJ called me to her one Friday, after homeroom, and handed me a thin little book. It was written by a certain Fynn. She told me it was a book worth reading and that I should read it. I took her word for it. I borrowed it for the weekend and couldn’t put the book down until my mom called me in for lunch and dinner. It was the story of a five-year old girl called Anna and her straight-from-the-heart matter-of-fact view at life, and learning math, science and philosophy with Fynn’s help. It tells of this girl’s simple yet direct answers to mostly adult’s ponderings and ruminations on age-old questions about the universe. Most of all, it tells of Anna’s personal and intimate relationship with Mister God.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) Anna sure had faith. But she never made eight years, she died by an accident. "She died with a grin on her beautiful face. She died saying, 'I bet Mister God lets me into heaven for this', and I bet he did too.” I bet Mister God measured one’s worth into His Kingdom by one’s faith and by no other means.

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Twenty-two years since then, I chanced upon Mister God, This Is Anna once again. This time, in the Inspirational Books Section of an almost empty little bookshop where too few customers venture into. I snapped up the book, happily sat down on a little corner and was soon contentedly immersed in the world of Fynn and Anna.

When I look back to my childhood, I can easily say I was far from being like Anna was. Firstly, I was the timid silent type growing up. Plus I did not have any level of confidence to start with. I would not be able to confidently engage in philosophical dialectics with adults the way she did. But then of course, that is not to say that my seemingly quiet and timid projection belie a certain precocity that only my parents could understand back then.

I’d say I had a pretty firm foundation for my faith. I grew up believing in the tenets of Christianity that I imbibed from school, from church and from my family. I’m proud to say I consistently received an award on Best in Christian Living every end of school year all through elementary. I was a member of Student Catholic Action in high school. But College was a different story.

College was a voyage of self-discovery. It was a time of asking questions, trying out different things, and then asking more questions. It was a time of discovering so many things about one’s self. Being on my own, it was a time for making my own decisions, and I admit not all of them were good ones.

My life’s journey has not been smooth sailing. I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. So many times have I fallen down. But I have learned to pick myself up every time, too. And it was during those times that I have gotten to know Mister God more intimately and on a deeper, more personal level. I continue to make mistakes for I am, after all, still a work in progress. And I look forward to so many more changes and character-molding challenges ahead. I bend willingly in the Artist’s hand so I can fully be as I embark on this journey called life. I am comforted by the fact that I have loving family and friends and Mister God to guide me on my way.

September 05, 2006

on Leadership

"What distinguishes a leader is not primarily skill or technique: it is character and values, with both firmly based on taking whatever time is needed to exercise your freedom to think and seek out what is beneficial to all, not merely convenient for a few."

Yes folks, just heard it from the grapevine... a leadership training program will soon be rolled out for our group here at work. Hmm, makes me think.