Saturday, February 28, 2009

Know Your Customers

As it is the end of the month, I'm going to get a breather from posting long blogs.

I remember the comment made by Abou of Basta in 3 Roses and A Baby "...ang haba whew. di ko natapos.." Well, this one's for you and all those who wants to have a light and funny post from the desert.

Here's a funny anecdote given to me this afternoon by my friend Vilas:

A disappointed salesman of Coca Cola returns from his Middle East assignment.

A friend asked, "Why weren't you successful with the Arabs?"
The salesman explained "When I got posted in the Middle East,
I was very confident that I would make a good sales pitch
as Coca Cola is virtually unknown there.
But, I had a problem I didn't know to speak Arabic.
So, I planned to convey the message through three posters... "

First poster:
A man lying in the hot desert sand...totally exhausted and fainting.

Second poster:
The man is drinking our Cola.

Third poster:
Our man is now totally refreshed.

And then these posters were pasted all over the place.
"Then that should have worked!" said the friend.
"The hell it should have!? said the salesman.
"I didn't realize that Arabs read from right to left"

DISCLAIMER: All characters, names and places used in this blog are fictitious and are used herein for the purposes of comment, appreciation, criticism, parody, and for any other purposes not mentioned herein. Any similarity to real people, without parodic purpose, is a matter of coincidence. All trade names, product names and trademarks of third parties, including any trademarked characters, used in the blog are without the authorized and expressed will of those third parties, and are used only for the purpose of parody and identification. No sponsorship, endorsement or affiliation by or with those third parties exists or is implied.(hehehe)

Friday, February 27, 2009

My Close Encounter With the Vampire!

Ring...ring...ring...(telephone rings)...”Hello, can I speak with Gabrielle Abad please?” “Yes, this is Gabrielle.” I don’t usually eavesdrop to phone conversations. It’s bad manners and I’m still practicing what my parents and my elementary teachers taught me in my GMRC class. For the younger generation GMRC stands for Good Manners and Right Conduct. A subject that should be part of the curriculum not only for elementary pupils but should even be a 5-unit subject with laboratory class in the universities.

“Yes Miss, I will be there!” was followed by shrieks and screams of excitement and pleads “Mom, Dad, let’s go!” I was very much stunned as to what was going on that fine cold January 2008 afternoon. I later found myself, together with my wife and our three lovely kids driving up through the winding ramp of SM City Cebu North Wing. I was still maneuvering the car to the parking space which Chloe prayed for us to have when Gabrielle was rushing to get off from the car. She was literally running towards the mall while the rest of us doubled our steps to keep pace with her.

“Power Books!” (in gold and blue signage)... I sighed, a bookstore? There we were, the whole family, with Gabrielle as the store clerks were not even aware what she was looking for. Out from the well aligned book shelves came the Store Manager smiling and told one of the clerks to get the medium-sized box from their new arrivals. “A vampire book? Yucks, that’s not a good read Gabrielle!”, Kevin told her at the last minute, yet she got her spanking new book from the box, no longer with the anxious feeling that she will run out of copy if she didn’t get to the store first.

That afternoon further proved that my wife Chris and our youngest Chloe were shopaholics while Kevin ran back and forth from the Salonga Music Store-JB Music Store-Yamaha Studio-Perfect Pitch trying to look for whatever gadget he can add to his "toy". Gabrielle preferred to sit in one of the public benches and devoured every page with excitement.

At 3am the next day, I was wondering why the reading light at the girls room was not yet switched off. There I found Gabrielle still savouring the last pages of Twilight, her first collection to the Twilight Series. That was the first time I saw a young girl so fixated with a book. She was just 12 years old at that time (not yet a teener) and was still in Grade 6.

Many other phone calls followed not just from Power Books but from National Bookstore and other stores that sell the books. We didn’t know that she already made it a hobby to make reservations and enter into “contract” with any store that sells the vampire series books.

I was back in Cebu for another 2-week vacation during the last week of April 2008 and found her to be reading again another Vampire series book - Eclipse. Inspired by the storyline, she wanted to give a copy of the book to her cousin Nemille Muga who'd be celebrating her birthday in May. Foreseeing that the global economic crisis was inevitable, Chris and I suggested that she just have to give the book she already read. Even so, she spent her savings to get her cousin a copy because she can’t give away a copy from her read-again collections.

When I was back in August 2008 for another 2-week furlough I thought I would be spared this time by the vampire reading at the house. Sure, it was no longer a vampire story that I found as she finished all books in the series - Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. What I saw on Gabrielle’s desk was the science-fiction novel The Host. But below the cover showed that it was written by the “vampire queen” author Stephenie Meyer. Whew!

I didn't know she was working on the book for a class project. Discontented by The Host book review she made for her English class at Science High, she sent to me her draft a few days after landing at the desert. And she asked me to check the form, content, and organization of her project before submitting it. How would I be able to check unless I know what the story is all about? So I had to look for other sources to be briefed by the story. Well, even when there's no vampire in the story, I still considered it a “vampiry-related” thing that followed me to the desert! Geez... what The Host was that!

I always imagined the desert to have no vampires and that vampires only stay in spooky old antique houses and castles. I thought it was only my daughter who tracked me to the desert with her vampire stories! But lo and behold, a group of deeply-rooted Twi fanatics was in the making.

It was late last year when FaveFolks (our college friends in Yahoo Groups - this group deserves a long blog for an introduction alone!) started to exchange notes on the movie Twilight and the Twilight Series books. Tina started it all with her line – “Hey, have you guys watched the movie Twilight or read the books? I'm a late convert. My teens have been raving about them since a couple of years back but I didn't think much about it. I've never been too fond of the chick lit genre that they love. However....”

The rest is history. Tina started it and piqued the curiosity of the rest of the ladies at Favefolks. Almost all of them read the books in sleepless marathon-like fashion, as Tina would put it, causing them to have purplish eye bags like a vampire. They started to feel like teeners again and forgot about David Cook and found a new idol in Edward Cullen. Most of them were influenced by their teen-age daughters. And they aver that the generation gap between mothers and daughters disappear! On the men’s front, there was a buzz that Enggoy was into it but it was later found to be a hearsay. Only her daughter Kay and Kenton’s Camille are into it.

Poi even read the partial draft of "Midnight Sun" – Edward’s version of Twilight and she’s titillated and tingled to the bones...Ooooh! After reading the draft, naturally “bitin” (hanging) and she calls the rest of the ladies to petition Stephenie to finish the book.

Tina, Poi, Dally, and Geng have found a kindred spirit (they defined it as ka-edad) for the Twilight series too. They DSL and FeDex the books to each other and to some of their own friends, so that they can swoon and discuss together about their read. Some of them re-read the books and have seen the movies twice to relive the fantasy all over again...Some makes comparative study of the Twilight and the Midnight Sun (yet to be published)... Omigosh!

When I came home for my Christmas Holidays last December 2008, I was not surprised to hear that Chris was reading the Twilight series books of Gabrielle. She tells me that the writing is mediocre but it's a good book. ???How can that be??? I immediately saw the thrill in her sparkling eyes. Yet, I also sensed a restrained excitement because she knows that I don't go for those kinds of books and will not listen to those dreamy and passionate "Bella"-fied lines. LoL... She then switches topics but still on the books, telling me that she's enthralled with the description of their beauties, their cars, their houses, etc... and that she finds the story new, unique and a paradigm shift from the usual stories she reads. Hohoho!

When I heard this, I pondered for a while and asked myself, here's one who says her schedule is tight because of the many hearings she has to attend and the many decisions she has to pen for her court but still found time reading those books? Whew... until now I still can’t understand the ladies. Not only that, she was egging on me to read the books too!

I'm really wondering why this so-called phenomenon the Twihard fans are talking about is sweeping the globe like anything. Every one is unanimous (even the fans) in commenting that the novels are not well written and seemed like not to have passed the editors' desks. Is it really a phenomenon?

I will not be surprised that one day, Chloe, our 9 year old daughter will follow the craze of her Ate. Well, she quips that she cannot read the books of her Ate and it made me think that she knows the "censorship requirement" in reading the books. But she avers "How can I read Ate's books when all her Twibooks are not here?" Hahaha... I learned later that the books have been passed on from one hand to the other, including some lady lawyers, students at STC, and the classmates of Gabrielle at I-Saturn at Science High and some schoolmates... not just the girls but the boys as well.

It’s a good thing (a very very good thing) that all the V-books were not in the house the time of my departure last January 6. So the flight-book I had with me when I came back to the desert was not one of those v-books. I finished reading Gabrielle’s Christmas gift to me, Nicholas Spark’s Nights in Rodanthe during the Cebu-Doha leg of my flight. Although, a bittersweet love story, and another teen-age girl’s collection, I was obliged to read it being a gift from my daughter...Oh no, please don’t give me a Twilight series book for a gift to oblige me to read. (Lol!)...Not yet at this time. I was treated to watch Richard Gere and Diane Lane portray the book during my Doha-Jeddah leg as it was one of the in-flight movies.

I thought my close encounters with the vampire will be no more in 2009. Alas, I recently smelled fresh blood at the forum of the Favefolks...

Poi says, “Mention anything Twilight-y and my fingers can't help go immediately a-tapping!” Even telling her unica hija not to settle for a lifetime partner anything less dedicated than Edward...hahaha..."Then mom I'd be single my whole life! Edward's just too good to be true!" Seems like the daughter has a better grasp of reality! Hahaha... Poi really burst out laughing because her daughter’s quick reply was just so spot on! To Tina, Poi says – “Your mom's reading Eclipse now?! Wow, that's really amazing! Even here in HK, I also see a lot of once-young Chinese women reading those books in the train. Did I mention that when I first read Breaking Dawn I slept at 6 in the morning?! and that I have "converted" one 20-something Chinese staff in the hospital who's now as gaga as me?! I'm planning to give her books 3 and 4 for her birthday. Pugad said something about Eclipse. I asked him how he knew and if he's been actually reading it behind my back. "E, sa ka-di-discuss nyo ba naman ng paulit-ulit. ..siyempre na-pick up ko na!" Hmmm...”

Dally writes, “To the Twihard ladies...I write to them in their personal email addresses regarding the handsome Edward so I won't 'bore' the rest of the favefolks who are not into it but they keep dragging the topic over to the favefolks forum. Hmmm....are you hoping of 'converting' others too? :) Imagine maski na si Mom ni Tina is reading it! Grabe ngang 'phenomenon' ito. Jord's ok with it, not turned off at all. He knows the writing is inferior but the novelty of the plot keeps him interested. He speeds read so he finishes a book very quickly.”

I can’t wait for Tina and Geng’s reply to be posted in the forum lest I will be prosyletized and become one of the converts and might be blogging about it.

Gone are the days when the vampires were considered dreaded creatures. With how Stephenie Mayer mortalized a vampire in the person of Edward, the Count Dracula vampire image will surely die in oblivion.

Will the author be able to vampirize Bella? Expect that Kenton and Enggoy will have to monopolize their turn in the favefolks forum. It may even cause the most updated well-informed favefolk pulmonologist lurker to surface back online. Will it be another generation gap closer for the fathers and their sons?

Should this be the case, then expect to read a blog written from the sandstormy desert coast by the Red Sea.

Twilight Soundtrack

DISCLAIMER: All characters, names and places used in this blog are fictitious and are used herein for the purposes of comment, appreciation, criticism, parody, and for any other purposes not mentioned herein. Any similarity to real people, without parodic purpose, is a matter of coincidence. All trade names, product names and trademarks of third parties, including any trademarked characters, used in the blog are without the authorized and expressed will of those third parties, and are used only for the purpose of parody and identification. No sponsorship, endorsement or affiliation by or with those third parties exists or is implied. (hehehe).

Monday, February 23, 2009

5 Minute Online Management Course

The past weekend saw me cram and get flustered with the voluminous files on my table. The worst thing was having the feeling that I was not getting the things done per my plan and schedule. As if I was like running erratically in circles. As if I lost my sense of poise and equilibrium which I always have. As if I dunno how to prioritize. I was bewildered and adrift from the piles of files as my mind lingered to what could have been an enjoyable and relaxing weekend - imagined myself sipping cups upon cups of coffee at my favorite coffee shop in the port city of Jeddah.

Aside from the reviews and reports that I had to finish, I still had to undergo a crash course on Cost-Benefit Analysis. I need to have these tools and formulas to complete the capital investment proposals for submission to top management for their deliberation and approval. Thanks Dads for giving me those Project Management pointers.

As always, my wife and kids are soooo understanding and supportive when I am in this kind of situation - excusing me from our skype rendezvous and messenger chats. My wife just quickly relayed to me that our eldest son Kevin J played his own composition together with his band (he's the lead guitarist and vocalist) at IF in Ayala Center. Well, that didn't end quickly... the stage dad in me started to ask so many questions on how he played and whether or not the composition was good...what genre of song, etc. One question led to another and at the end, the files in front were as thick as ever.

Early Friday morning, I was supposed to be sleeping but there I was in my work table at the villa with the signature Juan Valdez brewed coffee (Yes, I still have a pack of coffee candies and a pack of the famous coffee that I brought from Colombia last December). Bottomless mugs of coffee to my heart's satisfaction brought diuretic effects while I was trying my best to lessen the thickness of the files from the table.

Suddenly, my mobile phone rang with a "Private Number" displayed on the LCD. "Hello Jethro", oh no! "Hi John". John Kimpton is an American who recently came to NPC to help me out in our Automation Project. He was following up on the status of his company's proposal. Well, he learned that I was still working on it that very moment and he knew the pressure I was in.

Call me lucky but I'd rather say that I'm blessed to have many good friends everywhere who would support me in times like this ( need a Juicy...I already used this line when I tagged my blogger friends...hahaha). Well, John told me that he was gonna help me find a quick fix on my management issues. He assured me that he will give me a short management course swearing it was gonna help me out.

He then offered his help by giving me this 5-minute management course which I feel will help you as well. I went through all the pointers like a diligent student and had a scholarly review and analysis of the business cases presented. The principles taught are very important tools in management and I hope you will like this short course and will find it interesting!

The 5-Minute Management Course

Lesson 1:
A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower,
When the doorbell rings,
the wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs.
When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbor...
Before she says a word, Bob says, 'I'll give you $800 to drop that towel.'
After thinking for a moment,
the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob.
After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves.
The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs.
When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, 'Who was that?'
'It was Bob the next door neighbor,' she replies.
'Great,' the husband says, 'did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?'
Moral of the story:
If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2:
A priest offered a Nun a lift.
She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg.
The priest nearly had an accident.
After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.
The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'
The priest removed his hand.
But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.
The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'
The priest apologized 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.'
Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way.
On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129.
It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.'
Moral of the story:
If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 3:
A sales rep, an administration clerk,
and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.
They rub it and a Genie comes out.
The Genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one wish.'
'Me first! Me first!' says the admin clerk
'I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.'
Puff! She's gone.
'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep.
'I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse,
an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.'
Puff! He's gone.
'OK, you're up,' the Genie says to the manager.
The manager says, 'I want those two back in the office after lunch'
Moral of the story:
Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4.
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing.
A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him,
'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?'
The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.'
So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested.
All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.
Moral of the story:
To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up..

Lesson 5.
A turkey was chatting with a bull.
'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree' sighed the turkey,
'but I haven't got the energy.'
'Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?' replied the bull.
They're packed with nutrients..'
The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.
The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.
Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree.
He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.
Moral of the story:
Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there..

Lesson 6.
A little bird was flying south for the winter.
It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field.
While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him.
As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung,
he began to realize how warm he was.
The dung was actually thawing him out!
He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.
A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate.
Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung,
and promptly dug him out and ate him.
Morals of the story:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.

(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!


Friday, February 20, 2009

I've Been Tagged! What's in a Nickname?

I've been tagged! A new blogger friend Edz had this to say why she tagged me. "This blog is the one that made me follow you.. very nice and different from the other valentine posts that I've read. By the way, I've tagged you. I hope u don't mind..." She was referring to Three Roses & A Baby: A Valentine's Blog Special which has now become one of the favorites of my wife and kids...(LoL...yes, they are my number 1 blog fans).

It took me days contemplating on whether or not to send the tags to other blogger friends. Truth for the delay is, aside from having a very busy week (as in losing some few pounds), I was really trying to find some good excuses not to send the tags out because I felt it was akin to sending "Chain Letters" which is taboo to a lot of fellow bloggers including myself. Nevertheless, I felt required to do it even if its bleak future is destined to be deleted and dumped in the trash bin just like the fate of the chain letters. Hope that its worst case will just end there and will not cause others to smirk and sneer (I really hope not)... Sending the tags would be fair to Edz. Another good justification will be - since I'm denied my weekend this week (I have to rush a capital proposal and submit a summary review on our Logistics Improvement Project), I decided to go for a blithe blog this time. I can do the plugging to the blog during my self-appointed break times which will be in between the mounting pressures of the rush.

Here are the Rules of Court that I need to follow in this Name Tag - What's In A Nickname? Game.

A.) List the names that you are called by and name the people who call you by these names.
1) Darling - who else would use this endearment but my beautiful "Your Honor" wifey.
2) Daddy - Kevin, Gabe, Chloe, and sometimes the Lady of the House when she's angry (sometimes also Dong when I'm about to be held in contempt in the house-court)
3) Daddy-yooo - Kevin-yoo called me this sweet-nothing when he was in elementary school.
4) Daddy Bong - Kara Mae and Nicole (my beautiful nieces)
5) Bobong (with all its prefixes Manong, Uncle, Tito, etc) - my parents, siblings, uncles and aunts, neighbors, cousins, nephews, nieces. Most of the people who call me this nick are from the side of the Abad family in Upi where I grew up till I was 16.
6) Bong (including Tito Bong) - my classmates and dorm mates at the State U; my office mates at ADB, Pure Foods, and the Aquaculture communities in Panay Island and Negros Occidental (Bacolod); nephews and nieces from my wife's side (Muga family); and children of our friends from Bacolod and Cebu.
7) Nereus - my elementary and high school classmates and teachers. Jairo would sometimes call me with this name with a distinct emphasis on the 2nd syllable.
8) Nerk - my close friends in elementary and high school (it sounded very closely to jerk or nerd...)
9) Jethro - some prof in college and law school. Most of my colleagues in offices in the Philippines would call me by this name.
10) Jet (Sir Jet) - my classmates at Law School and some of my friends and family members in Cebu and Bacolod.
11) Boss/Sir - My staff from the Philippine coast to the Red Sea Coast of Arabia; my trainees/students call me this hackneyed nick.
12) Abad - teachers at the State U and law school, my classmate at my senior year in high-school during our CAT, and here in Saudi Arabia. Nobody knows me by any other nick except this Arabic sounding name.
13) Brother, Brod, Bro - where else will you get these nicks but in the company of brotherhood, fraternities and fellowship houses.
14) Tol - my close friends in high school, my old buddies, Dimal uses this nick to call me.
15) To or Noy - that's how I was called by some people in Bacolod. It's actually a respect of the hacienda workers and household helpers.
16) Dr. - sometimes Jairo calls me by this name. It's also a name Al and I use to joke to each other(the title is conferred from some non-existent university somewhere in Recto [LoL] - to keep abreast with other "?" titles used by some other people here).
17) Engr/Mohandesh - some of our staff here at the desert would call me by this name (Saudis and other expats).
18) NJ - my online monicker. It's the initial of my first names. It's also one of the nicknames used by my son Kevin till this day. We used to call him Baby NJ when he was still in the womb.
19) Aquaforce - My radio call sign at work when mobile phones were unheard of.
20) 23 - My radio call sign used by my family.

Omigosh, 20 nicks? What else? "Kalas"(done in Arabic), I now look like a scaled milkfish or tilapia! Nothing to hide.

B) Tag ten others to do the same thing, paste the link of your entry on their guestbooks.

This is not in any particular order (LoL...sounds like finalists for the "name tag" contest huh?)
1) Dr. RJ of Chook-Minder's Quill
2) Kenji of Thoughtskoto
3) Nebz of Isla de Nebz
4) Prof. PaJay of Klasrum ni PaJay
5) 4 Beautiful Ladies of The Pink Tarha
6) JV Cabrera of X-Spot
7) Blogusvox of The Sandbox
8) Madjik of Magic Saucer
9) AJ of Josh of Arabia
10) Abou of Basta

I’m sorry to tag you and I'm sure some of you have been tagged already. For those who have been tagged and have not responded yet, take this as just a friendly reminder from a friend.

I know you will think of this as a nonsense exercise in futility but the tag is now yours. You're the "it". Sorry my friends. Anyhow, I have made this special tag for you to take - a plateful of jumbo shrimps from the desert coast by the Red Sea. I hope you don't refuse!I'll wait and see your how your nicknames will be! What I thought to be a simple blog isn't simple after all.

My Related Post (Old Blog)
What's In A Name?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Three Roses and A Baby! A Valentine’s Blog Special

Nope… this is not a sequel to the 1987 comedy film Three Men and A Baby starring Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson. The film shows the mishaps and adventures of the three wacky bachelors and how they adapt their lives to pseudo fatherhood with the arrival of one of the men’s love child. Three Roses and A Baby is not pseudo-parenthood. It tells of the story of a young couple whose lives have been transformed and revolutionized in the 9-months of being with their second baby.

Three Long Stemmed Holland Roses

She was up in cloud 9 for receiving 3 long stemmed white Holland roses and a giant-sized Kiss chocolate while all her officemates at the bank where she worked were so tickled and enthusing with oooh’s and aaah’s with the saccharine-ness (to borrow Nebz’ lingo) of the couple. She was amazed and excited not because it was her first time to receive those kinds of gifts. In fact she was always showered with beautiful red roses even when there were no special occasions. In the fourteen years from the first time they met, nine years could have made him richer had he saved his money instead of buying roses for her. There was a time when Roxas City run out of roses from their rose gardens (after the place was hit by a very strong typhoon)… Petals and Twigs Flower Shop was always an itinerary every time he was at the Big City.

He travelled early that day to the flower shop in Bacolod City to make sure that the week old reservation will not be taken by somebody else. He was excited too that he’s going to give her her first white roses. He always gives her red roses in all hues and shades, and on some other occasion – roses in pink, yellow, tangerine, cream and other colors. But this time, it would be different as he would be giving her white roses. He dropped by the Connoisseur, a shop that sold imported items and yes good chocolates…picked up the biggest Kiss chocolate he saw and walked to the bank (just a stone’s throw away from the flower shop and Connoisseur) and personally handed the gifts to her.

During that day, he was very busy arranging for a Valentine’s party at a Golf and Country Club. He fetched her early from the bank so she’d have time to be at a favorite place every lady (young and old alike) would love to go – the beauty parlor for her hair and make-up. She looked so chic and stylish in her little black dress (Audrey Hepburn dictionary), accented with a strand of south sea pearls. She looked deceptively taller than him in her black stiletto while he looked elegant and debonair too in his black trousers with white Abercrombie long sleeves and red Gucci necktie.

It was dusk. The sunset was magical. It was gorgeous, great colors and composition blended very well. It’s an enduring charm in the farm when you see the red orange burst of color across the horizon overlooking the dikes and ponds that looked like small boxes as viewed from atop the nipa thatched two-storey rest house. The beauty of the scene added to the romance that filled the air that day. Kevin Jethro, their eldest son who was 3 and a half years old at that time was still playing with the kids of the farm laborers outside the farm house, unmindful of the time and occasion.

Staying in the farm with him for several months now was a struggle for her. She was not used to farm-life. She grew up in the city all her life and it was not easy for her to travel every day from the farm to the bank. But she can’t help but agree to the decision.

Nine months earlier, they went through one of the most harrowing experiences in their lives. Their second baby Hanniel Josiah was born with a congenital heart disease – Tricuspid valve atresia (TVA). TVA is a congenital heart defect that occurs when the tricuspid valve, normally located between the right atrium and the right ventricle, does not develop properly during pregnancy. It happens to 1 or 2 for every 10,000 live births. This heart defect causes children to be cyanotic (blue) since a mixture of oxygen-poor (blue) and oxygen-rich (red) blood leaves the heart and goes to the body.

Hanniel Josiah (Hanes, the endearment coined by his parents… it’s not the popular undergarment brand) was only a few days old when he was airflown to the Philippine Heart Center for Asia. His mom and dad together with a doctor friend were with Hanes when he underwent 2 corrective surgeries in a span of a week that turned out to be very successful. Hanes got the best pediatric cardiologists at that time and everything just worked out well while in a place no one would enjoy to go. God has provided divine connections – from the doctors, nurses, many college friends who visited, and families and relatives were all out in their support to the young couple. Even the parents of the other pediatric patients were blessings to them. At the Philippine Heart Center for Asia he was mistaken to be an OFW by a lot of people. To this day, he still does not understand why the people thought he was one. He was not wearing a thick gold necklace nor a 21-k gold bracelet and though now that he is an OFW, he still abhors wearing those flashing gold jewelry. That observation proved to be a prophecy of the future for him.

They decided to stay in the farm house to save their rental of a posh bungalow in the city. He engaged with consultancy jobs hopping from one island to the other to amass funds required for the final surgery required when Hanes would reach 5 years old. They were getting in touch with Children’s Hospitals in Australia and the USA for the corrective surgery. So far, everything was proceeding as planned.

The dark ebony space began to change the backdrop of the sky. The moon started to shine in the darkness like a light bulb inside the room. The stars were born and were like droplets hanging in the air. The sounds of cricket filled the place. The street lamps suddenly came to life showering the farm house with a warm golden glow of light. Once there was darkness and then came the light.

She looked for Kevin who was playing outside. She told him to wash up and to have dinner and kissed him goodbye. She went to see Hanes, who at this time was having his regimented meal, carried and embraced him very tightly and whispered those sweet words of assurance that a mom could give to her baby – “I love you, happy Valentine’s… I’ll see you tonight after the party.” She checked the private nurse’s log on Hanes’ activities and saw everything the way it should be. He was in haste to leave as it was getting late so he peeked through the bathroom to give Kevin a flying kiss. He called her to hurry up and gave a quick kiss to Hanes before she gave him back to the nurse.

The Valentine’s Party

The red 4-wheel drive jiffy looked custom-painted for the occasion. Passing through the rough and deserted hacienda road made them realize that it was getting late. The one way bridge seemed like being stuck in Manila’s traffic jam as tricycles and other vehicles from the city were all in a rush to be at home. Everytime he tried to maneuver towards the one way bridge, he gets loud honks from the tricycles at the opposite end.

He smiled at her after knowing that despite the fast race to the Club her coiffeured hair was still intact and the red Gucci necktie wasn’t displaced out of the pin. She was stunning when she entered the club, the lovely pearls were like stars around her neck. He had a big grin to see they were among the earliest couples to get to the club.

The golf course was bristling with activity. The waft of the cool February breeze blew gently on the streamers and flaglets around the course. Dinner candles burned, the silvers can be silently heard clanging the china while the couples were serenaded by a band. Bottles of wine met the dish in perfect harmony and magic spells were woven that revealed new and unexpected levels of flavour in each other. The food was not the highest of haute cuisine and the grandest of crus but the celebration of a special day made the austere Barolo and the light Bardolino (both are Italian wine) matched the varied repertoire of dishes that night.

He was not and is not a dancer till this day. She was and still dances well to this day. (She probably got it from her mom who is a ballroom habitué). It was probably the magic spells that were woven in perfect harmony between the wine and the food that could have caused them to dance very well that night. Dancesport was not “in” at that time but there was this dance competition that night and they won that competition handily without any single doubt and protest from the other couples.

The night was getting romantic and the dinner candles were already replaced so many times. Twas the best time for the love birds to coo in their nests. The house lights came to life signalling the couples that it was time to move on to their next celebration of love. Awards were given to the winners and the masters of ceremony called out the last award to be handed that night. The couple gracefully went up to the stage to get their prize for winning the dance competition. As the prize was about to be awarded, there was a mild commotion when a group of ruggedly-dressed people (the farm workers) came running followed by some security men of the golf club and the people at the hall thought that they were being attacked by the NPAs.

A baby bids goodbye on Valentine’s Day

The program was stopped and all that can be heard was “Sir, ma’am, the baby was rushed to the hospital!” It was like a sudden deluge of the sky towards the earth. He run towards the red jiffy while their friends asked her to ride in another car. He pulled out his red necktie while she replaced the stiletto with her flat shoes. He was a sprinter when he was in high school and college and yet it seemed gone at that moment. They both ran as fast as they can and yet every stride that they took seemed to be steps backwards. He pushed the pedal so hard. It seemed like he cannot escape.

He drove against the wailing winds and eternal shadows of the street lamp posts that wallowed the night. He took the road with the feeling of being alone…exasperated and almost hopeless. Then he came to a halt, run again and suddenly stopped when he saw her at the emergency room. He saw her hugged and embraced her 9 month old baby wailing and asking why the baby whom she carried for nine months in her womb had to go on that Valentine’s day. She asked the doctors to do whatever they can to revive the baby while he looked catching his breath, his hands on his knees, and trying himself to gasp oxygen into his deprived lungs and mind.

She was crying with sounds of pain coming from out of her. While he wept, big tears escaping from his eyes. His sobs were muted by her wailings. He hugged her in his arms and both were still in unbelief that their sweet son is gone. They sat at the emergency room… tried to think… why? But there was nothing that made sense that night.

They were devastated as they sat together waiting for their baby. The ruggedly-dressed people were juxtaposed with their party-dressed friends as they surrounded the couple while they stared blankly at the spacious alley of the hospital.

Three Roses and A Baby

The baby, who looked like he was in a slumber was placed in a white basket cradle surrounded by wreaths and bouquets of flowers that did very little to enliven the grieving couple. The three long-stemmed Holland white roses that were earlier given to her that day were now laid near the baby.

The sun appeared that day with a smile but they greeted it with a puckered brow. The world should have stopped but still it continued to slither underneath their feet where tears from their sleep-deprived eyes fell and dried up.

They walked on through the scorching heat of the mid afternoon sun, tailing the vehicle that carried the cradle of Hanes to his final resting place. Every step was a prayer. As they were in his final resting place, he carried him from his cradle and placed him in a tiny casket while the songs of lamentation seemed to amplify the loneliness of everyone under the makeshift tents. She took the 3 white roses and placed them inside the casket to be with their sweet baby. He sang a song of tribute to the baby assuring Hanes that all will be well with him and his mom.

As the tiny casket was lowered to the ground, white and blue balloons were released that flew like birds towards the endless height of the sky. Every flower cast and every spade of soil were an act of separating Hanes from them. The hole was now totally covered and levelled back to the ground. It was covered by the wreaths and bouquets of flowers. There was no looking back. And as they walk the well trimmed grass towards their red jiffy for their journey home, soft rain fell like a soft pat to the aching hearts of the mom and dad.

That was a day that the earth seemed to have stood still but the hearts of those who promised to love him forever have continued to remember that Valentine’s day 16 years ago. The memories left by the short but sweet life of Hanes still linger on to this day.

After Hanes left, two more beautiful and healthy babies came. Gabrielle Khryss and Chloe Eunice have never seen their "Kuya Hanes" but they know his story and that of the three white roses.


Hanes should be graduating in high school by the end of this school term. A few days ago, I chatted with my wife and we both consoled each other that he was not meant to grow with us. We already exchanged our e-roses and e-kisses earlier tonight...

Here's a picture taken last year during their visit to the place where Hanes was buried. They went all the way from Cebu City to Bacolod City for the visit.

Thanks to KaBlogs neighbors (The Pink Tarha for their Valentine pointers for Pinoys in Saudi; Klasrum ni PaJay for his I Love You Blog (hindi yun virus); Isla de Nebz for his story on Val and Tina and Other Stories and their "saccharine-ness"; The Chook-Minder's Quill A Healthy Heart II with his famous line - "Undeniably, there are men and women out there whose hearts are relatively healthy yet their love is severely and acutely ill!"; Madjik for his story on Joy sa Valentine's; The Sandbox and his Valentine's Speech; ThoughtsKoTo na meron pang mga pa download at jukebox pang Valentine's...hehehe) at sa iba pang mga kapitbahayan na hindi ko nang inabot mabisita bago mag VDay.

Your advanced posting of your Valentine Blogs inspired me to post this Valentine Blog Special. I call it special because it's something that comes straight from my heart. Ipagpaumanhin nyo po na napakalaking EMO ako... galing lang po talaga ang blog sa kailaliman ng aking puso.

Happy Valentine's from me and my family to all of you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Serenata with Strings Attached – Incredibly Awesome!

Bravo! Bravo! Magnifico! That’s what I can say after watching the Serenata With Strings Attached Concert at the American International School of Jeddah (AISJ) Gymnasium last Friday night, February 6, 2009.

This was the second year that I was invited by my friend Dads Torrico to attend the concert where his two kids are members of the Serenata Children’s Choir and the Serenata String Chamber Orchestra. I wasn’t able to attend last year’s concert where Liza, Dads’ daughter was the choral group’s pianist. That was also the time when the responsibility of heading the newly formed Harvest & Logistics Support Department was given to me and Fridays are always the start of our operations. Well, I never really bothered about my absence during that first invite but last Friday night, I realized and regretted that I have missed a lot for not attending Serenata’s Season 3 Concert last year.

No technical problem on the sound system could stop the harmonious sound of the cherubims and seraphims in their colourful, chic, and tasteful costumes that night. Just being in the performance hall was more than enough to bring back the nostalgia of my younger days when I was a member of our school chorale that competed in the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ NAMCYA and Folk Arts Theater’s Himig Competitions. The walk down memory lane made me forget what we went through earlier that night. I had to drop by Al Balad Mall with Al Cuadro and Larry Juele so I can buy a "semi-formal tops" in order to change my "casual" white Lacoste T-shirt. The tops happened to be a white with pastel blue stripes long sleeve polo. It was a rush purchase as there was no more time to bargain hunt and I ended up getting a polo shirt at a bit expensive price and yes because of the price it looked elegant. It's a good thing though that I was able to place some generous amount of the Bvlgari Aqua before I left the villa and it was able to subdue the smell of the cloth factory in the polo shirt. Whew...that’s the price I had to pay for failing to see the back of the admission ticket that said “Come in Conservative Formal Attire”. The out of plan side trip to get that long sleeve polo caused us to park Al’s Fortuner around 2 blocks away from the AISJ Gym. In addition to that, we were seated in “unstrategic” seats where our necks were skewed to the left because we arrived a few minutes late at the concert hall. Nevertheless, the awesome concert far outweighed all the hassles that night.

AISJ Superintendent, Mark A. English welcomed everyone that night by saying that we were “in for a treat” and it came out that the prophetic welcome turned out to be an understatement. As the concert moved from one part of the repertoire to the other, the treat geared forward towards better and better and better presentation.

Part I of the Concert saw the Serenata Children’s Choir raise the curtain with a blast in their rendition of West Side Story’s Tonight. Though you will see the initial jitters beneath the smiles in the choristers' faces, in no less than a few seconds, those jitters were transformed into a high level of confidence that brought into the hall a thunderous applause of appreciation. That opening salvo was followed by I Am A Small Part of the World with very clear and distinct crescendos and decrescendos expressions. Their Eja, Eja (We Will sing for Joy) was so dynamic (and should I say anointed) making one to think that he was inside a cathedral or a monastery.

I was watching Al Cuadro wipe his eye while listening to Everly Brother’s Let It Be Me and Burt Bacharach’s I’ll Never Fall in Love Again. I dunno if he was teary-eyed for remembering a “special someone” but what I know is that I wanted to stand up and dance when the choir sang a big hit Build Me Up, Buttercup and the videoke all time favorite Abba Medley that included Dancing Queen, I have a Dream, Mamma Mia, SOS, Take A Chance on Me, Thank You for the Music and Waterloo. My, oh my! If my wife was with me, we could have gotten out of our seats and danced to our hearts delight...

The Intermission Numbers were breathtaking. I was breathless as I watched Liza Torrico (Dads’ daughter) play the flute in Someone to Watch Over Me while Adel Tanamor, a young gifted pianist accompanied her on the piano.

I was awed by how she managed to breath all throughout the rendition of the piece (or maybe she had an oxygen tank hidden behind the curtains that was connected to her lungs). I was very pleased to hear Adel’s smooth and distinct tinklings and tinglings of the black and white keys that remindeded me of my older brother Ardes’ mastery of the piano keys.

Another intermission number was the astounding interpretation of Nessun Dorma (No One Sleeps) by tenor Sonny Austria. He performed it ala Luciano Pavaroti and it brought thunderous claps in the house. As written in the souvenir program, Sonny is definitely one of the best and among the winningest Filipino vocalists in this land of oil rich-sheiks and desert-filled camels.

Part II brought back the choir with their OPM (Original Pinoy Music) repertoire. I would not be surprised that Sylvia delos Santos, the Musical Director would choose Ryan Cayabyab’s compositions. She could have been one of Ryan’s protégés at the UP College of Music where Ryan C taught Composition. I know how music students in my days would adulate the music icon, Ryan C. My elder brother Ardes who’s also from the UP College of Music used to bring along Ryan Cayabyab, Paul Concepcion, Noel Arce, et. al at Wendy’s where I worked when I was a student at the State U. I remember one time Ryan C. make a comment about me when they visited Wendy's Araneta Center - "'t maitim ang kapatid mo?"... Hahaha. At that time no Likas Papaya or Block & White were on sale...Vicky Belo was unheard of...Anyhow, even today when all the wonder soaps and all those bleaching shops are found almost everywhere...maitim pa rin.

Their first song, Ryan Cayabyab’s Nais Ko was a hit that brought whistles and roaring applause in the house. I don’t know how the many foreigners that night appreciated our OPM but then music is a universal language that touches both the blacks (aruy sakit naman...Obama to the rescue please) and the whites and the browns so I guess they liked OPM too. The Philippine Science High School Singing Students' Smokey Mountain popularized Paraiso and another Ryan Cayabyab’s compositions was another platinum taker that night. It was followed by Freddie Aguilar’s Anak that made me to remark to Al that they should have included Napakasakit Kuya Eddie in their repertoire...wouldn’t you agree? The jubilant presentation of another Ryan Cayabyab’s composition Liman-dipang Tao with corresponding choreography ended the OPM repertoire in high note.

Serenata’s Season 4 is different from its forerunners. This year's season did not only present the Children’s Choir but presented as well the newly formed Serenata String Chamber Orchestra . Thus, with the maiden performance of the Serenata String Chamber Orchestra, the Concert title came to be – Serenata With Strings Attached.
Printed on their concert program was a clear description on how the concert title came to be. The inclusion of ...With Strings Attached could be taken both literally and figuratively. Literally it meant the inclusion of the String Orchestra and figuratively as a metaphor of what could mean commitment. Indeed, “With Strings Attached”, is embodied Serenata’s genuine spirit of commitment, hope and charity. This was clearly portrayed to the audience that night.

Before Part III of the concert was another intermission piano rendition by Adel Tanamor of Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude. This young boy enamoured the crowd with his competence in the keyboard.

A video presentation of the Serenata Season 4 Project showed the musical director and the Serenata Board Chairman meet up with ABS-CBN Bantay Bata Director Tina Monzon Palma to link their project with the Bantay Edukasyon project of Bantay Bata Program of ABS-CBN. This year, they awarded 4 scholarship grants for 4-year college degree course to 4 deserving high school graduating students. The video presentation further showed the selection processes which involved the Serenata members, the choralists and instrumentalists and their parents. It's good to note that Serenata had actively participated in the socio-civic upliftment of our kababayans back home. The landslide victims in Southern Leyte were the beneficiaries for Season 1, Educational assistance to schools in Season 2, and supported the Al Jamelah Organization during its 3rd Season.

The maiden performance of the String Chamber Orchestra was the last part of the concert. And true to the maxim ”last but not the least”, their performance was incredibly amazing even if one is not to consider them as still novice in orchestra playing. The pioneering instrumentalists looked dapper in their black and white attire resembling the ebony and ivory keys of the piano. Sylvia delos Santos showed ease and confidence playing the role of the maestra and orchestrated all the strings to come out with an ecstatic sound.

True to her being a ward (I just surmise but I’m pretty sure she is) of Ryan C, Sylvia arranged all the musical scores of the string instruments for the orchestra which included Morris Albert’s Feelings, Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender, the Filipino folksong medley of Manang Biday, Ili-ili Tulog Anay, and Bayan Ko, George Canseco’s Kailangan Kita and Nacio Herb Brown’s Singing in the Rain. Their rendition of Bayan Ko brought out that nationalism and pride to every Filipino in that hall. I wanted to raise my clenched fist while having those goose bumps as I relived the all time favorite “national” anthem during those years of protests and boycott marches we had during our student days.

The grand finale number was sooo wonderful with the Children’s Choir and the String Chamber Orchestra belting out everything they got. They blended very well with the tenor voice of Sonny Austria in Barry Manilow’s One Voice. The standing ovation applause of the audience was deafening but that did not subdue the message of the song from echoing throughout the hall. It sent shivers to my spines that the message of hope, for those wanting to make their voices heard, got through. It was indeed a grand finale to end the concert with not just one voice but many many voices and with strings attached.

Even if the choir and orchestra did not give in to the standing ovation and audience's demand for an encore, it was a night worth remembering and to say the least to the performers, parents and the organizing committees...they "broke a big leg" that night. I couldn’t believe that such an “oasis”-quality and refreshing performance was possible in the middle of this oil rich desert where camels and sheep graze on the tiny green grasses that only grow after a fine drizzle of the season.

Serenata with Strings attached...ENCORE!

Serenata’s Next Seasons

Dads will be leaving Saudi Arabia soon to finish his doctorate degree. He is just completing his PMP Certification here in the next few weeks in preparation for job offers awaiting for him. When he leaves, I will be losing a well informed and Desert Aquaforce-appointed Blog Researcher Extraordinaire (though I hope he continues to still do it for friendship's sake...). When he leaves, I will not be able to see the next seasons of Serenata... No one will make "kulit" to call for the concert. I would want to see more of the Serenata With Their Strings Attached and as long as the desert is still my home far away from home, I will still want to hear the cherubs and seraphs serenade me with their beautiful and sweet melodious voices and be enthralled by the fascinating and spellbinding stringed instruments.

Other related links: GMA News.TV - Pinoy Children In Jeddah Wows International Community; Saudi Gazette: SERENATA Wows Multicultural Audience; Richard Nicolasora's Picture Gallery on Serenata ; You Tube's 'Serenata With Strings Attached' Grand Concert Rehearsal 2009; Serenata Jeddah String Chamber Orchestra; 'Serenata With Strings Attached' Grand Concert Rehearsal 2009 ...; Serenata 2009 - with string attached - a set on Flickr

The Serenata Season 4 Concert was graced by luminaries from the different diplomatic corps in Jeddah – Ezzedin Tago, Consul General of the Philippines, US Consul General Martin Quinnin, Japanese Consul General Toshimitsu Ishugure, and some other guests from other consular offices of other countries. Aside from a thousand Filipino expatriates there that night, there were also some Americans, Japanese, French, and Indians who attended.

Mr. Antonio P. Villamor Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Yemen flew in with his wife that afternoon, all the way from the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh, to give his support to the Serenata children.

The major sponsors of that concert were Western Union, American International School of Jeddah, and Toya Instant Noodles. Minor sponsors included the Philippine Sunrise International School, LaPaz Batchoy Saudi Arabia, and Sky Freight.

Picture taking was not allowed during the performance except for the official photographers assigned. Photos in the blog were taken from the Serenata Season 4 Souvenir Program & The Serenata Choir on Flickr - Photo Sharing by Edner . See also Richard Nicolasora's Picture Gallery on Serenata for more pictures.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Gearing Up for Election 2010: Will Overseas Absentee Voting Make a Difference?

Isla de Nebz's Blog on Infodrive-Let's Register for 2010 Elections inspired me to reinforce his call for OFW's to register for the 2010 Elections. Will the OFW vote really make a difference in this election?

A little more than two and a half decades ago, I was one of those young students who called for boycotts during elections. We would march from the State U to Mendiola in kapit-bisig fashion shouting anti-government slogans and the call to boycott plebiscites, referendum, and elections. To boycott was a call that we can no longer tolerate the political system! If we vote, we just reinforce the idea for the politicians that we tolerate the Circus where they play the clowns. To boycott was to show our care for the country by letting the politicians know that the citizenry has awakened from their political slumber, and that we're no longer traditional voters. To boycott was to let them know that they don't deserve any of our votes. I would often say that yes it’s my “right” to vote but why should I exercise such right when I know that the political system stinks. So the best alternative was to BOYCOTT!

What made me sing a different tune? "Balimbing" as how others would put it. But bahala na kahit balimbing I realized that boycotting the elections was like tolerating these clowns to continue on with their stage shows. To boycott means that I lose a chance to cast a vote to whom I believe is the better candidate. I have realized that a vote cast to a loser, will be a message to the winner that a voter did not like him to be there and it is for him to prove that he deserved it. In the case where the vote is cast to the winner, that vote will send the message that voter trusted him and that he should not disappoint the trust given by his supporter... Call it wishful thinking but I believe that I need to exercise my right to suffrage. I don't live just for myself now as when I was a young student. i also live now for my children and my children's children. I cannot imagine a country continuously run by clowns from the Election Circus.

Also, I could have probably matured and awakened to the reality that a cornerstone principle and the bedrock of our Philippine Constitution is our being a republican and democratic society (Yes, I got that from my Consti Law Class). And one of the hallmarks for our country to be truly democratic is the people’s right to suffrage or right to vote. When we vote, we exercise our political right to suffrage and our power to choose our leaders; When we vote, we send a message to the world that democracy and republicanism are not just concepts but a reality in the Philippines; When we vote, we voice out sensitive issues that we face as a nation; When we vote, we cleanse the misfits out from public service; and When we vote, we vote for life, freedom, liberty, democracy, prosperity and progress!

The old proverb Vox populi, vox Dei “the voice of the people is the voice of God” does not refer to infallibility but is an acknowledgement that the choice of the people during elections is verdict equivalent to mandate. But if the voice of the people is the voice of God in that sense, it must be heard, and the condition that is possible only if all those who are qualified and registered to vote, or at least a majority, participates in the election. And for us who are approximately 7M OFW's all over the globe (even excluding the undocumented ones, it's a big bloc to reckon), the only way for us to vote is to register. I often hear excuses for not registering for the OAV. I don't want to be influenced by the lame excuses as I have not registered yet but I have resolved that I will because I believe my one vote will make a difference in the 2010 Election. (Deadline is 31-August-2009).

We can no longer afford political upheavals and rumors of coup d etat. We should not look at elections as just personal “beauty contests” or popularity contests among the candidates. We should look at it as a sacred exercise of our right. It is not even the losing candidate who loses in a manipulated, fraudulent and rigged election but the Filipino people who embodies the republicanism and democracy of our Constitution.

Other Related & Useful Links:

OFWs in Saudi Arabia find OAV registration schedule impractical
Araw ng pagpaparehistro ng mga OFW sa Saudi para sa OAV ipinapalipat
Saudi Gazette: Filipino absentee voting registration opens Feb.1
Philippine Embassy Seeks Saudi Approval for Mobile Registration
OAV Downloadable Forms (COMELEC)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

MRP (Machine Readable Passports)... Ano Ba Talaga Kuya?

Kuya is Secretary Alberto Romulo of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Last week I received a forwarded email from a friend which was forwarded by another friend, forwarded by a boss... by a colleague... by another friend... by a brother, or a sister, or a spouse, etcetera, etcetera. That email purportedly claimed that the advisory came from the DFA informing that the green colored Philippine Passport will only be valid until January 2010 afterwhich, it will no longer be accepted even if its expiration date is beyond the deadline set by the DFA. Being a good friend, brother, husband, kabayan, etcetera, etcetera... i also forwarded it for information to all kapwa Pinoys I know.

Here's the text of that e-mail:

Department of Foreign Affairs

Dear Friends,
Please take note of this advisory and disseminate this to your loved ones, relatives, colleagues, friends.....
For your information and guidance.

Department of Foreign Affairs Travel Agency Section.
Please be advised that effective January 2010 ,
the green colored Philippine Passport will no longer be accepted even if it is still valid . Below are the list of new requirement for the application and renewal of Philippine Passport.






Well, after a few days, I got again another forwarded e-mail with the subject: [Balitang_Middle_East] FALSE ADVISORY on PASSPORT Circulating in the FILIPINO Community with the following attachments.

Well, what can I say now? I'm confused as the press release in the attachment was dated September 2008 which is already old and so I had to check the DFA website and here's some of the pages which might be helpful to you

For more references on the MRP, check these out:
Philippine Embassy USA , Wikipedia , Philippine Embassy in Germany .

If you want to apply, here's the DFA MRP Application Form

So, which one should we believe in and what do we do? DFA's announcement saying that the green passport will still be honored beyond January 2010 should settle the issue. However, if cost is not a constraint to an individual (especially for those who travel frequently to "strict" countries, I would rather have the green passport converted to MRP.

I wouldn't want to be delayed and held up for further investigations with the suspicion that my Arabic-sounding family name is linked to the Al Qaeda or Abu Sayyaf just like what happened to me in Heathrow London and Charles de Gaulle Paris last 2007 and repeated again in Caracas, Venezuela last three months ago.


After posting this blog earlier today, my ever well-informed friend cum Desert Aquaforce-appointed extraordinaire "Researcher" Dads Torrico sent me this confirmation - DFA: Not true green passports valid only until end 2009 ABS-CBN News Online Beta.

Thanks Dads, this is what I should call now as responsible blogging!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Job Opportunities for those with "Strong Knees"

With the global economic crunch, many companies are downsizing their manpower resources to be able to sustain the economic condition. We hear of tales and woes of people who have been retrenched and laid off. Job opportunities have been limited all over the globe but this is not always true to the Philippines that has geared herself for any gloomy forecast.

Here's one job opportunity of a lifetime! You can apply full-time or part-time...hahaha. It's a rare chance so why don't you grab this one. It's a job where you will enjoy and at the same time earn...

Thanks Dads for sharing this helpful article. It made me wear a smile this weekend.

Have a nice weekend to all. See you at the party in town...hahaha

Wanted: Condom testers
By Thea Alberto
First Posted 17:50:00 02/04/2009
Filed Under: Unemployment, Employment

MANILA, Philippines—Are you married, have “strong knees”, and looking for a job? Try condom testing.

Durex condom is looking for 500 official condom testers in the Philippines. And all you need to do is try out Durex products for four weeks and comment online on their quality.

The first to accomplish the form and give the best answer to the question "What makes me the best Durex Condom Tester?" will win P50,000 cash, plus free products from Durex.

On its website, Durex said applicants have to go to and click on the portion that will lead them to where they can fill out a screener form.

“Chosen applicants will also be given a tester kit which contains a pack of each of the following Durex variants -- Love, Pleasuremax, Performa, Fetherlite, Tingle, Strawberry,” Durex said.

Tester kits will be sent to chosen applicants via courier, it said.

Candidates must be 21 to 35 years of age, married, and "experienced." Participants must also be "open to further training," have "strong knees," and "willing to work long hours."

So guys, wanna give it a try

Dads Torrico is our IT Manager for ERP Application Support and is a Six Sigma Black Belter.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How the Philippines Can Save the World!

It always inspires me to read articles that speaks well about the Philippines - call that nationalism or just a mania to hear positive words about our country. It's not that we should stay blind to issues that are real and are daily affecting us, but we need from time to time get some "breather" from all those self-proclaimed pundits that say that the Philippines is just good for its DHs and cheap labor.

Here's one opinion (a blessing and not a curse for the Philippines) that will make every Filipino glad especially in the midst of this threatening global economic crisis.

Thanks Dads* for sharing this nice article.

Yes, the Filipino can! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

How the Philippines can save the world
Written by Outside the Box / John Mangun
Monday, 02 February 2009 20:24

Disappointed and discouraged are the only ways to describe my reaction to those Filipinos who continue to bash the Philippines.

The release of the nation’s 2008 economic numbers (ahead of the time I thought they would be) could have been a moment of just a little amount of Filipino pride. When you look at countries like Spain, Singapore, Japan and others that saw their economies shrink in 2008, the Philippines did not do badly, all things considered. Instead, we got comments like this: “The supposed growth in the economy in recent years should be taken with a grain of salt.”

The millions of Filipino individuals and Filipino-owned businesses who made that 4.6-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth happen clearly showed that, not only “The Filipino Can” but “The Filipino Did.” To every Filipino worker and every Filipino business owner who worked harder and never gave up—unlike that man in Los Angeles who recently killed himself, his wife and his four children after losing his job—stand tall and be proud.

We survived and even prospered a little through times of P50-a-kilo rice and P60-a-liter gasoline. Perhaps having the words “Economist” and “UP” on your resume means that you make so much money, anything less than a new Mercedes every year means the country is in a recession.

As another example of how clueless economists can be about the Philippines, Simon Wong, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank said, “I think most of the growth came from government spending.” While another “expert” Nicholas Bibby, an economist at Barclays Capital was quoted, “My suspicion is the upside surprise probably came from private consumption [spending].”
Keep doing your analysis gentlemen. Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day.

I can remember when the foreign press used to describe the Philippines as “a basket case,” and “the sick man of Asia,” not with comments like “Overall, the Philippines will be better insulated from the collapse of external demand compared with other Asian economies.”

Why is there so little pride in the positive economic developments and accomplishments that the Philippines has made since the Edsa revolution? I believe it is the result of the pervasive “colonial mentality” after Edsa. The nation had come out of a black and stagnant economic prison. The Philippines sat at the feet of Western experts, like children looking for answers.

We embraced with enthusiasm most of their advice. We were told to “globalize” and we did. And then we saw our export products barred entry to other “free” markets. Our agricultural products were deemed unfit for Australia and Japan. Yet Mexico shipped their mangoes to the US, stealing Filipino heritage by calling them “Manila Mangoes” because no one would buy “Mexican Mangoes.”

Treated like the black sheep of the world economy, the Philippines was told and even warned that the only road to prosperity was to rely on exports for economic growth. Yet today, large and small economies that believed that theory are suffering the most during this global economic contraction.

Overseas Filipinos were scorned and insulted for being just domestic helpers. Now the world’s shipping industry would stop and the West’s hospitals would close if not for Filipino workers. Not too long ago, a Filipina in Japan was obviously a prostitute. Now Japan begs for our nurses and caregivers, needing 500,000 by 2016.

Seven years ago, most Western companies laughed at the idea of outsourcing to the Philippines. Now, the Philippines and India, with a population 10 times as large, controls 50 percent of the world’s outsourcing business. And our growth rate is double that of India’s.

The Philippines always hits high on the list of “corrupt countries” and the local press seems to delight in that fact, never saying that perhaps that sort of evaluation might be exaggerated in this sense: name a single major Filipino company, public or private, that ever put a nonexistent billion dollars on its balance sheet as India’s Satyam Computer was recently discovered doing. Where is the example of a Filipino Enron, Lehman Brothers or AIG?

Filipino banks were once heavily criticized for being much too small and undercapitalized. Again, where are the Philippine bank failures, except for a few, possibly crooked, rural banks that probably should have been closed years ago. Further, by the most important gauge of a bank’s financial strength, Filipino banks are twice as strong as most of those in the West. A bank’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR) measures the amount of total assets against risky assets, such as bad loans. The Filipino banks’ CAR usually runs twice as high as what is required by international standards. Thus, there are no Washington Mutual or IndyMac Bank type failures in the Philippines.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Arroyo, as she does from time to time, gave a brilliant speech to an international audience. I saw her do it once at an Asian Development Bank forum, impressing global business and political leaders.

In Davos, she politely reminded the West that for the last 10 years, they pursued polices that drove their economies into a black hole. Countries like the Philippines used that time to build themselves up. The President called for the West to included countries like the Philippines in all further global economic discussions so the West might learn some “helpful new ideas.”
I agree and using our strong points, of which you should be proud, might just help save the global economy.

*Dads Torrico is our IT Manager for Application Support and a Six Sigma Black Belt at National Prawn Company