Sunday, August 31, 2003

New Best Friend

I hailed a cab in front of Ateneo Thursday night. It turned out the driver was the chatty type.
Driver: Nag-aaral ka ba dyan?
Me: Dehins. [I used to, though.]
Driver: Balita ko ang baba ng tuition d'yan.
Me: A, oo. [Around 36 thousand pesos per semester by the time I graduated. Thank God for scholarships.]
Driver: Bobo rin daw mga taga-d'yan.
Me: Balita ko nga. [I can even name names.]
Driver: Pero mataas naman sweldo pagkapos.
Me: 'Di naman. [Look at me.]
And on and on and on...

"Salamat sa k'wento, brod," I said when I got off.

I Feel An Inch Taller

I got complimented at work Thursday. A little backgrounder. My main duty here is to prepare the Minutes of the weekly meetings of the Operations Committee or the OpCom. The OpCom is composed of the President and CEO, four EVPs, four SVPs, and around ten VPs. At the start of each meeting, they review the Minutes of the previous meeting for any errors before they approve it. I've made five such Minutes so far, and the third and fourth were approved without corrections. After they finished reviewing my fifth Minutes Thursday, the President and CEO said, "So far walang mali, a." The Corporate Secretary, who was a Senior Vice President and a lawyer, turned to me and said, "Your Minutes are very good." I smiled a bit and nodded thanks. "It's really very good," she repeated. Now this was the same Corporate Secretary who interviewed me twice for a job opening in her office—the first was one-on-one, in the second she was part of a panel of six—but still chose someone else, which led to my ending up in another department. I was transcribing the audio recording of the meeting when I discovered that her second remark was caught on tape. So I kept playing it over and over. The bukol was forgotten.

Stupid Accident

Early Thursday morning I woke up and found myself on the floor. First time it has ever happened. And no, I didn't drink the night before. I was so sleepy I didn't remember if I woke from a bad dream. But when I climbed back to bed my left calf muscle cramped up. It was excruciating! After a while I fell asleep again. My phone alarm woke me up at 5:30 a.m. There was a big and painful lump on the back of my head. I couldn't figure out what day or date it was, which was weird. I also couldn't remember if I had dinner the night before. In the afternoon of that same day, I still couldn't remember if I'd taken a bath before going to work. Since my brain felt like it was buzzing I entertained thoughts of a concussion. The temporary memory loss didn't help at all. It's been three days since. There hasn't been any fainting spells or other other funny symptoms so I guess it was nothing. The bump's also gone. However, when I touch the spot it still hurts. I wonder if I need to see a doctor.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Blue-Blooded

Ateneo lost yesterday. Mabuti naman. Too much success can get into one's head. But a loss to NU? Tsk, what a choke job. Don't get me wrong. I've always supported the Blue Eagles. I remember watching them in grade school when the UAAP games still aired on RPN 9. I cheered for the team even during the lean years (which would go on to include all of my four years in college). Little did I know that I would study in two Ateneos over the next eight years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Usual Suspects

Yesterday's bank rob in our building made it to today's issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. According to the news item, the robbers wore military-style outfits and were armed with M14 and M16 rifles and .45-caliber pistols. They were also swift and precise with their movements. Hmm, who could they be?

The Best Hiding Place

About an hour after the bank robbery at the ground floor of our building yesterday, the Makati SWAT went up to our office. Apparently one of the robbers slipped past the police cordon and hid somewhere in the building.

The doors to our office were closed minutes after the shoot-out so the SWAT team was sure the suspect wasn't in company premises. That led to a search of the comfort rooms, which made for a funny incident because the ladies' room was occupied at the time.

When I went down at quitting time, I saw bullet holes on the lobby's marble walls. The street was barricaded. Lima-singko 'yung pulis, 'yung mediamen, 'yung miron. Karnabal, astig!

But all of it was trumped by seeing Lana Asanin, in gym clothes, exit the HSBC building.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Lights, Camera...

At around 3:30 this afternoon my typing was interrupted by the sound of automatic gunfire. Being true-blue Pinoys, we all left our cubicles to see what the racket was.

The view from the nearest window was not much: people scampering about on the street below, faces peering from the windows of the Chinabank building opposite, a bank's armored car, an armed security guard... Those who thought they saw something were instant celebrities.

It seems the commotion came from our building, the Citibank Center. An attempted bank robbery, they said. A janitor said the receptionists at the ground floor lobby were still crying, shaken by the shoot-out. Someone said the robbers smacked around the irritating security guard stationed near the elevators.

I tired of it after fifteen minutes but some officemates are still at the window. They say there are a lot of policemen downstairs. And someone at the Chinabank bulding called to say that a few of their windows now sport bullet holes.

No Political Essayist

Last Thursday I stepped out of the office to buy death sticks and saw Paseo de Roxas littered with cut-up Yellow Pages. Because I was cooped up the whole day it looked like I missed a hell of a confetti shower. Then I remembered. It was August 21, Ninoy Aquino’s 20th death anniversary. The nationalistic songs blaring from the corner of Paseo and Ayala Avenue should have been a clue. Wow, I thought. 20 years. The country still hasn't changed much. In that day's newspapers were stories about corruption, murder, and mayhem. Same old, same old. It got me thinking, what did Ninoy's life and death mean? I couldn’t answer myself. Just more trash for the Metro Aides to sweep up?

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Wild Goose Chase 2

When I came back yesterday afternoon I found out that the lie backfired.

The Marikina BIR didn't process the application because I had no application form from the LTO. I was about to go to the LTO but a fellow TIN applicant said I needed a birth certificate to get the LTO form. And my birth certificate was in the province.

I had to come clean. I told the BIR people I needed the TIN for work, that I needed it to sign a contract of service with my company. They asked me to accomplish Form 1902 and submit with it a certificate of employment and a copy of my birth certificate.

The problem is, the company can't give me the employment certificate because the contract of service—which I haven't seen, by the way—will say that there's no employee-employer relationship between me and the company. It's a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Aaargh. My parents were government employees; I should have remembered that transacting business with government agencies is a pain and a half. But no, I went on and took a job in a GOCC.

Wild Goose Chase

I took Tuesday afternoon off to process my TIN application at the Marikina BIR. I needed it to claim my salary.

I didn't mind the rain. I didn't mind that our office was in Paseo de Roxas in Makati and the BIR office was somewhere along Marcos Highway just past Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall in Cainta.

When I got there I accomplished a Form 1904 and told the BIR people I was going to use the TIN to apply for a student driver's permit. It was a lie, but the guy I spoke with at the Makati BIR advised me to say that.

The fib worked. BIR Marikina told me to come back the following day.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Thank God

It's Friday! I'm looking at the clock, and it's counting down to 5. Freedom! You all have a great weekend now.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Home Is Where...

Many would be surprised to know I've been living at the same boarding house since first year college. I’ve been here seven years and counting. That makes me the most overstaying boarder. It’s a wonder my landlady hasn’t given me a Loyalty Award yet. Strictly speaking, though, I haven’t stayed here that long. I go home to the province for vacations. And even when I'm in Metro Manila, I've been known to disappear for days and not be seen at the boarding house. I have adoptive families (Hi Mark! Hi J! Hi Ate Kay!) who let me crash at their homes so often I should get a refund of part of my rent and turn it over to them. Once, my landlady said pina-blotter nila ako dahil ang tagal ko nang hindi umuuwi. Up to now I'm not sure if she was kidding. I used to live here with Mon, Leo, Mike, Mao, Fugee, Al, Ronnie, my classmates since high school who've already left to pursue careers or further education. Ah, the hell we used to raise! Now I live with my brother and some undergrad kids. It’s fun because I get away with bossing them around but I have to be sort of responsible for them, too. By default I'm the older brother to perfect strangers. Admittedly, there are a lot of things to dislike about this place, foremost of which is it’s too far from my workplace. But at the moment I have no plans of moving out. Eventually I will have to.

Reasons Why

Last Saturday was the Ateneo-La Salle game at the Araneta Coliseum. My boardmates went because wonder of wonders, our landlady had a ticket source. I, on the other hand, had to be somewhere else. Besides, the tickets were for nosebleed seats. For a self-proclaimed rabid Atenista, I haven’t gone to many of those Ateneo-La Salle matches. Sure I follow the team on television and in the papers and try to catch their games at the nearby Loyola Gym, but Ateneo-La Salle live? I think I can count those with just one hand. It must be because I'm a Pavlovian dog. Blue Eagle teams during my four years of college lost so much and so badly that even if they’re now the defending champs I still half-expect them to choke in every game. And when that happens, sayang lang ang hapon mo. Pawisan ka na, wala nang boses, nabiktima pa ng scalper. Ang sakit, pare. Insult to injury. Also, in every single one of those Ateneo-La Salle games I attended Dick Gordon tried to relive his cheerleading days. Have a four-sizes-too-small Blue Babble jacket, will cheer at halftime. Not the prettiest of sights, I tell you. Another reason to stay home. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy when they took the trophy last year. I was happy, too, when they won last Saturday. How did they do it? I have a theory: No Dick.

Saturday, August 9, 2003

Cold Feet

During the first semester of my third year in law school I went on a leave of absence. I wasn’t being kicked out, but the desire to continue wasn’t there.

Looking back, I realize I did not enter law school with the best of intentions. In fact, I had no intentions at all!

I was set for a career in advertising, but on a trip I went with my boardmates and took the Law Aptitude Examination. When I passed, on a trip I went to the panel interview. And when I passed again, on a trip I decided to enroll. But the trip ended.

So why did I leave?

It’s a combination of reasons. To save on saliva I say "Ayoko lang," although puking my guts out before classes is a vivid memory. It got that bad. I wanted to quit. And did. I bummed around for a year. Now I work.

Do I wish I didn’t leave?

Not really. But the "Quitter" tag I’ll never live down.

...

My four boardmates are still at it: Toots in UNC, Fugee in Arellano, Alder in San Beda, and Ronnie in Ateneo. Good luck, guys.

Giddy Pig

I can type and post at work. I can also type at home and post at work. This could result in multiple posts in a single day or no posts for days on end. It depends on my workload.

But since I finished my all tasks as early as Thursday, I’m not busy at the moment. This weekend is mine, all mine!

The Why

At work a week ago someone asked if I was the law student the company recently hired. I said I wasn’t; I was a former law student.

An EVP who heard me struck a conversation:
EVP: Why did you quit law school?
Me: Sir, I just didn't want continue.
EVP: Sayang 'yan. Just take two to three subjects.
Me: Maybe someday, sir, I’ll go back.
EVP: Pagsisisihan mo 'yan.
Me: I hope not, sir. But thank you for the advice.
EVP: Sa susunod may bayad na 'yan.
That got me thinking. Why did I leave, really?

View From The Bottom

At present I work for a GOCC. Our offices are located along Paseo de Roxas in Makati. I got here through Kat, a friend from UP. An executive here told her there was an opening in the Office of the Corporate Secretary. They called me for what turned out to be a panel interview. I wore my "serious" outfit: blue long sleeves, Budweiser tie, black pants, black socks, black Doc Martens, and Ateneo college ring. I didn’t get the job, though. They wanted a presently-enrolled law student. The guy they hired was a fifth-year evening student who was my classmate for a couple of semesters in law school. Kat’s friend then offered me a job in their department. It’s not a permanent position like the other one so the salary is lower. But because there's a chance for regular employment after six months or so, and because I was bored from my one-year leave of absence from law school, I took it. Since July 10 I’ve been part of the workaday world. You know what I realized? It’s not bad, it's not bad at all.

A Month Into It

Thursday marked my fourth week at work. Wow, how fast time flies. This is my first job. I interned for MTV Philippines before but that doesn't count; I didn't have a salary. Come to think of it, I have yet to be paid here. They said it's because I don't have a cedula and a TIN. Heyng? I always thought it worked like this: be at work at 8 a.m., leave at 5 p.m., and fifteen days later you're handed an envelope with money in it. It appears I was mistaken. This is why I shouldn't get my education from movies. Ideally. The HR Department only informed me last week that I have to have those documents. I'm assuming this is because I need to sign the contract of service, which my department head reviewed last week. I pretended I was going to the CR and went straight to the BIR office a block away. The security guard there said I needed to submit a certificate of employment and a company ID with the TIN application form. Me to the BIR guard: Kaya nga kelangan ko ng TIN e, para ma-finalize yung pag-hire sa 'kin at magkaroon ako ng certificate of employment. 'Ala rin akong company ID. Building pass, meron. Fortunately I have a very supportive mother. Hagalpak lang ng tawa inabot ko when I recounted everything. Sigh. With any luck I will have the papers next week. Which means maiipon ang sweldo ko bago ko matanggap. Yippee!

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Just Like Old Times

Makati City has a smoking ban, so like my law-abiding office mates I sneak off to the men's comfort room to light up. Oh so 1995. I'm in cahoots with the office security guard. Before I go, I ask if the building's roving guard has already made his run. If yes, it's a go. The ban is not a joke. The city mayor deputized twenty-five or so senior citizens to help the police enforce it. These deputies have IDs, and they can apprehend indiscriminate smokers. The penalty for the first offense is a thousand-peso fine. If you cannot—or will not—pay, the apprehending officer can make you sweep a street instead. They don't care how impeccably dressed you are. So for someone like me who needs two-and-a-half days to earn that thousand, the CR cubicle is a safe haven. Thank God ours look and smell clean. Next week: a report on the viability of fire escape stairwells.

Thrill Ride And Panic Attack

We're right in the middle of the rainy season. And since I commute to and from work it can be a real hassle. Yesterday, for example. Sumabit lang ako sa jeep kasi sobrang rush hour at punuan. Then it rained. I never thought a 35-kph ride under the rain could be so much fun—the wind whistling in your ears, the water trickling from your hair down to your neck to the inside of your clothes... Pwe! I must have looked an idiot because I was smiling from ear to ear. Eventually I was able to sit. And promptly fell asleep for about fifteen minutes. Once I alighted I realized my cell phone wasn't in my pocket. Thank God there was a red light; I was able to re-board the same jeep. The people inside looked bewildered as I searched under the seats, along the aisle, at their feet... After a few moments I gave up. I accepted that while I napped the phone fell from my pocket. Someone somewhere was now the lucky owner of a load-less, three-year old Ren-Ren Ritualo phone. (A brief explanation. See Nokia 3210. See Ren-Ren. Compare. Contrast.) I took a death stick from my bag in order to calm down. Lo and behold, there was my phone.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Come In, Come In

Shucks, I'm a rookie at this but here goes.

Ahem, ahem.

Most of what you'll read here will turn out to be idiotic. Sometimes I won't post regularly (because the supervisor is around). But drop by from time time; sometimes it will be worth your while.