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My QWERTY Life

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My 2014 in Books

Hi there! Happy to be here again! Haha.

Before turning the page and welcoming the New Year, I look back to the year that was… in terms of the books I’ve read and bought.

For the fourth consecutive year, I joined Goodreads.com’s Reading Challenge, where readers set a certain number of books to read within the year.

When 2014 began, I pledged to read 12 books, or one for each month. (In 2011, I completed 12 out of 15 books; in 2012, 11 out of 12; and in 2013, 6 out of 15.)

At the end of 2014, I finished reading 7 books. (Meanwhile, I enter 2015 with 2 unfinished books. Haha.)

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge

Here are my reviews, posted on Goodreads.com, for those I have completed:

Prayers for the Assassin, Robert Ferrigno

I’ve read the [sequel], Sins of the Assassin, before this one, so I already know how the ending will go here. Nevertheless, the edge-of-your-seat element was still there. Darwin is so cunning, so deceptive.

I like Prayers… more than Sins… (pun somewhat intended).

It was nice for the author to compare today’s freedoms in the USA (or in any other democratic country) with a fictional Islamic USA, where almost all freedoms were regulated, if not stifled. The argument was between tolerating excesses and setting up controls.

I did not mind the religion in this book. Besides, this is a work of fiction. The author has free rein to point out both Catholicism and Islam’s strengths and flaws. And I felt that he did not favor nor dislike either one.

Prayers for the Assassin is a fun read. Nice story, too. Lots of twists. 🙂

Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence, Bill James

Get ready for lots of crime stories… and lots of theories/proposals, too!

You really have to pace yourself when reading this book. You’ll learn so much in every page! From the details of each crime to the flaws of the US justice system through time, Popular Crime is an enlightening book, and an impressive undertaking on the part of Bill James.

An engrossing and entertaining read.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell

Learned a lot from this book. Amazed at how little things, however insignificant or unrelated, can make a big difference.

But the keyword here is “sometimes.” In my opinion, tipping points are of a case-to-case basis. There would always be exceptions to the general rule (yes, even the rules in the book itself).

In fact, 2 of my officemates have raised valid arguments against some points in the book. For instance: with regards to small things making big, “sudden” impacts, sometimes, a “boiling point” is effective, too.

I particularly liked the sections about teen smoking, The Power of Context, the Fundamental Attribution Error, and the Stickiness Factor.

A good read, overall. 🙂

A Journey of Struggle & Hope, Jovito R. Salonga (borrowed from one of my editors)

[I was] inspired by Sen. Jovy’s life story. He’s truly among the best Filipino statesmen.

Nowadays, putting the country first before one’s self – like what Salonga has done – is a rarity in Philippine politics. I hope a new breed of selfless public servants would emerge, because the country is in urgent need of some of them right now.

Habibi, Craig Thompson (borrowed from an officemate)

Amazing storytelling, captivating illustrations. Can’t stop turning the pages. Lots of feels while reading this book. Learned a lot more about both Islam and Christianity, too. 🙂

Person of the Year 75th Anniversary Celebration, Time-Life Books

When I discovered this book in our office library, I completely geeked out, excited to read it from cover to cover!

I’m very happy to have read this. It’s inspiring, thought-provoking. A peek into TIME’s character, and a nice glimpse into the past through the persons and objects that mattered in the news, for better or for worse.

The Memory Collector, Meg Gardiner

Like Memento, but in the proper playback and with a high-tech flavor. Lots of twists and turns. Bittersweet ending. Kept me hooked, to say the least.

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My 2014 was also full of “book-searching.” Whenever I am in malls, bookstores are my first destination (National Bookstore, Booksale, Fully Booked, and that mini-bookstore at the entrance of Market! Market!), hoping to chance upon interesting on-sale books, as well as books on my wishlist.

I also browse for good titles in book fairs. (I wasn’t able to go to this year’s Manila International Book Fair, though.)

Back in August, I almost got lost in Pasig City looking for the Books for Less warehouse, which hosted a month-long sale. Most of what I bought were books about the media.

I also had the opportunity to visit cool bookstores outside malls: Books from Underground at an underpass near the Manila City Hall, and Bookay Ukay at Maginhawa St., Quezon City.

So here is a list of books I have bought from all these places in 2014. I hope I could read them all in 2015.

  • Chaplin: The Tramp’s Odyssey, Simon Louvish
  • Don’t Touch That Dial!: Radio Programming in American Life from 1920 to 1960, Fred J. MacDonald
  • Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald William Clark
  • Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings, Craig Brown
  • Macroeconomics, a textbook under the McGraw Hill series
  • PBS: Behind the Screen, Laurence Jarvik
  • Peter Jennings: A Reporter’s Life, Kate Darnton
  • Prize Journalism: A Collection of Jaime V. Ongpin Award Winners, CMFR
  • The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961, Jeff Kisseloff
  • The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw
  • The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, Martin Merzer
  • Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, Bob Woodward

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#ShamelessPlug: Add me as a friend on Goodreads. Haha.

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Back to (Elementary) School

It was "Moving Up" Day for the kinder graduates of East Rembo Elementary School last March 19, 2014.

It was “Moving Up” Day for the kinder graduates of East Rembo Elementary School last March 19, 2014.

Last Wednesday, March 19, I attended my younger brother Justine’s “moving up” ceremony – the new term for graduation from kindergarten, after the shift to the K-12 curriculum  at East Rembo Elementary School (ERES) in Makati City.

The kinder graduates were very makulit (restless) during the ceremony. Some got up from their seats and played with their classmates. Others ran to their parents (seated in another section), returned to their seats… then went back to their parents again. Even the teachers and a troop of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts cannot pacify them.

They were actually calm and obedient when the program started. But when the talent shows of each class and the awarding of ribbons dragged on, the kids became rowdy.

It was chaotic, but it was cute chaos. (See photos in the gallery below.)

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Justine got a “Most Cheerful” ribbon in his class. He’s more like “Most Makulit“, actually. Haha.

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ERES is my alma mater. My two sisters, Joyce and JM, also graduated from there.

Like in my previous visits, I roamed the floor-waxed hallways of the school’s three buildings. The steps of the staircases were already small for my feet. Haha.

The rooms for Grade 1 students have LED TVs now, for educational videos. The library and the computer room, my after-school tambayan back then, have received major facelifts and high-tech upgrades. Even the school’s backyard garden improved a lot.

But the school basically looked and remained the same. It’s like 2003 all over again.

The canteen, the waiting sheds, the audio-visual room (school auditorium), the “white spots” on the school grounds for Field Day activities… even the creepy staircases and fire exits at the far end of the school’s oldest four-storey building.

Some of my former teachers are still teaching there. Astig! (Cool!)

I am also happy that the mural on the wall, where we (my fellow classmates and two of our teachers) stood in front of for a picture back when I was in Grade 1, survives up to this day. And I think it’s restored regularly; the colors were as vibrant as it was in 1997.

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Most likely, I’ll visit ERES again soon. Justine’s studying there for 6 more years, while baby Beck would join him two years from now.

‘Til next time, ERES! 🙂

One Long Walk, One Odd Protest

This could either be filed under “greatest personal feats ever” or “most stupid decisions ever”.

Earlier tonight, I chose to walk almost all the way home on a rainy evening without an umbrella and with an envelope containing important documents tucked under my shirt, instead of waiting in line at terminals and spending hours in traffic.

That’s eight kilometers of pavement, five major roads, five Jollibee stop-overs (I’ll keep the reason to myself), almost three hours on sidewalks, no idea how many calories burned, and absolutely no idea of the effects when I wake up later in the morning.

Here’s a map of my route:

Blue line shows my "walk route" on the night of June 17, 2013. Red line shows an alternate "C5 route". Red marker on top is Eastwood. Red marker on bottom is Brgy. Comembo, Makati City, where I live.

Blue line shows my “walk route” on the night of June 17, 2013. Red line shows an alternate “C5 route”. Red marker on top is Eastwood. Red marker below is Brgy. Comembo, Makati City, where I live.

(Funny. I should have taken the C5 route. It’s half the distance of my route tonight, at only 3.8 kilometers. Shortest way is going straight, indeed. But nah, it’s kind of “dangerous” to walk along C5, especially at night: lights there are too few if not dim, and the sidewalks are narrow.)

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Long story that I hope will be short for you: I was at Eastwood to get some important documents. Stayed ’til 8PM there to sit out the rain.

The commute from Eastwood is like being in the Mafia: it’s hard to get out from there. And what caused the C5 traffic along E. Rodriguez Avenue? Congestion at one particular U-turn slot and at the fly-over in front of Green Meadows Subdivision.

When I got to IPI along Ortigas Avenue, there were a few San Juan-Rosario jeepneys and a lot of commuters waiting at one corner. That’s when I decided to walk, despite the light rain. I’ll ride an FX at the SM Megamall terminal instead.

When I got there, I was appalled by the long line, and surprised by the low FX replenishment rate. Quickly, I decided, “I’ll ride the bus in EDSA instead.” Peering at both sides of EDSA from Shaw Boulevard, you could see all the red vehicle lights shining bright. You could also hear sirens. (I found out later on from Dad that there was a fire at Kalayaan Avenue in Makati.)

It’s a walk along EDSA, then, just like before. I’ll get some rest when I get to hop in a jeepney at the Guadalupe terminal.

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This is the part where I single out the Guadalupe jeepney terminal. I thought I could get used to the commotion there, but tonight’s chaos was brutal. An added factor: the rain intensified. Twice, or even thrice.

Once the rain poured hard, those without umbrellas ran for cover under the terminal roof. Some (me included) broke away from the main queue and headed towards the terminal. Now we had a main queue that stood its ground, and a breakaway group that avoided the rain.

Then the Guadalupe-Pateros jeepneys started to arrive. The jeeps were not even parked properly yet, but both groups started hopping on the jeepneys. The main queue asserted their right to ride first; the breakaway group said, “f*ck it, it’s raining hard, and we want to go home already.” The barkers can only shout to remind everyone that there’s a main queue.

After about half an hour of hoping that this would soon pass, I gave up. The main queue was almost not moving, and they’re irate! That’s when I started to walk again.

The weird thing about all this: J.P. Rizal Avenue was almost empty from when I started to walk until I got to ride a jeep in Brgy. West Rembo, two kilometers away! There was virtually no traffic! Where were the other Guadalupe-Pateros jeepneys that should have serviced all the waiting passengers at the terminal?

This is the part where I calm my nerves and never mention the Guadalupe jeepney terminal again. Haha.

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Why did I choose to walk tonight? Four things:

  1. Walking actually calms me down. Instead of thinking about long queues and the crazy traffic, I get to think about more important things: ideas I could suggest at work, ways to improve our commute in the Metro, opinions about anything under the sun, and my next Jollibee stop-over.
  2. It gives me an adrenaline rush. It pushes me to my limits. I have been through long walks before — either because in my past life I’m an old-school dude disdaining cars and trains or I’m just really that restless — but tonight was different. It was always a question of whether or not I can still continue. Do I hop on the next jeep or bus, or do I solder on?
  3. I love adventures, however unconventional it might be. Enough said.
  4. I personally can’t stand the traffic and the chaos. The rain lasted for only around six hours, but Metro Manila was congested as heck. Tunnels along EDSA were flooded. MRT trains are jampacked with annoyed commuters. The rain didn’t even cool down hot heads of passengers falling in line at jeepney terminals.

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In hindsight, this three-hour walk served as my “protest” against the unruly behavior of most Filipinos. I had enough of complaining about our lack of discipline at MRT stations, jeepney terminals, and bus drop-off points. It’s like creative suggestions and strong sentiments do not matter anymore. Are we too “hard-headed” nowadays to think of new ways and too “onion-skinned” to accept criticisms? It’s crazy!

To borrow a line from a John Mayer song, I cannot wait for the world to change. So I chose to move, even if it was irrational, even if it was crazy, even if it will be bad for my health later on. It might not affect you or the nation overnight – maybe not at all – but this three-hour walk mattered to me.

It confirmed my theory that however we Filipinos want change, it wouldn’t happen if we always submit to the idea that there’s really nothing we could do about our nation’s ills. If you can’t stand something, why just stand there?

Also, I discovered a braver Mike and his new mettle. I could only thank the Lord (and the street smarts I’ve learned over the years) for keeping me safe.

🙂

P.S. My only regret? I should have dropped by the Rappler office along Julia Vargas Avenue to either borrow our big-ass umbrella or wait for the rain and the chaos to settle down. It rained hard when I got to Guadalupe.

Oops, I mentioned it again.

The National Museum

This was a trip Kuya Toney Sevilla and I did not pass up. Last November 18, we visited the National Museum!

The National Museum (and not-the-national car) xD

A little side story: Kenneth, Paolo and I have been to the National Museum three weeks prior, but it was not the National Museum we had in mind. We actually visited the Museum of the Filipino People (MFP), one of the three National Museum buildings around Rizal Park. Across the road was the National Art Gallery (the main museum, our actual destination), but somehow, we didn’t check it out.

(Oh, I remember now: we got out of MFP at around 4PM. No time left.)

Kuya Toney should have been with us on that day, but work (Sunday work, at that) wouldn’t allow him. He still would go to work after this trip of ours, but the important thing is, he and I finally get to step foot in the National Art Gallery, a historical landmark and “the Louvre of the Philippines”.

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The site of the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth 77 years ago (and the Manila City Hall a few blocks away)

Seventy-seven years ago, on November 15, 1935, on that stage/pedestal is where the Commonwealth of the Philippines was inaugurated. Pres. Manuel Quezon and Vice Pres. Sergio Osmeña, who now both “stand tall” as statues beside the Gallery entrance, were sworn in here.

The former Senate Session Hall

The building itself was also the former Legislative Building, housing both the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress, until the Senate moved to Pasay City and the House of Representatives moved to Quezon City.

Juan Luna’s Spoliarium

It is now the home of Juan Luna’s famous painting, Spoliarium, restored to and showcased in its full glory.

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We had an Art Appreciation class in college. For Kuya Toney and I, this National Art Gallery trip is an extension of it. xD

Nearly 20 galleries are there, and numerous artworks are on display. From Juan Luna to Carlos Francisco, from tapestry to sculptures, from animal bones to old Session halls, the National Museum is a history buff’s heaven, and an art lover’s haven.

I may not be an artist, but I personally got to “gawk at” numerous paintings and notice patterns in their work. I was introduced to new names, but by just looking at their masterpieces, it seems that I have known them for a long time.

For example, Hermenegildo Ocampo was fond of shapes and the colors of fire. Ang Kiukok’s paintings (or at least the ones I saw) were “teeming” with fishes. Some of Ben Cabrera’s works convey dark emotions.

I was also re-introduced to some artists, too. Fernando Amorsolo, one of Kuya Toney’s favorite artist, liked to paint scenes of the country side. There were many drawing and sketches by Amorsolo displayed in one gallery, too. Juan Luna, Felix Hidalgo, and Vicente Manansala (I think) had numerous portraits, from Fr. Mariano Gomez of GOMBURZA, to Pres. Manuel Roxas.

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“The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines”, a quadtych painting by Carlos “Botong” Francisco

There’s this cool quadtych by Carlos “Botong” Francisco for the Philippine General Hospital that featured the progress of medicine in the Philippines. This was easily my favorite, because you can look at every corner and area in each of the four huge paintings, and you’ll never run out of things to discover.

“Study: Man in Industry”, a mixed media collage by Vicente Manansala that really amazed me

A gallery for Federico Alcuaz was full of portraits of Martial Law era personalities, from Dolphy to Fidel V. Ramos

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With Kuya Toney around, I got to have crash courses on art, and had a chance to pick his brains, too. I learned new terms such as the triptych, and got to know how sculptors create artworks out of plaster of Paris. We got to have lots of wacky “photoshoots”, too. xD

Kuya Toney and I having fun! 😀

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As a Filipino, it makes me proud that we are actually prolific in the world of art.

Also, it never ceases to amaze me that a style as simple as an oil “splatter” on a canvas would convey depth and texture, evoke emotions, and tell a story.

My respect and admiration for painters, sculptors, tapestry weavers and other artists was set even higher after seeing these artworks. I could only imagine the hardwork they put in each of their masterpieces, however big or small.

A visit to the National Museum is a trip every Filipino should have in their lifetime. As the saying goes in Filipino, “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan.”

UP Ikot

I only had two hours of sleep, and a bag of mini-cheese breads for breakfast. I slept in the office’s quiet room so that I wouldn’t have to take an early-morning commute. Going home to Makati at 1AM after midshift work, then coming back to Quezon City at 6AM? Oh, the horror! xD Besides, the UP Diliman campus is just across Commonwealth Avenue, a “baseball pitcher’s throw away from our offices at UP Ayala TechnoHub.

The park inside UP TechnoHub

Commonwealth Avenue and the QC Memorial Monument

Me, Charles and Kurt

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Charles, Kurt and I jogged around the UP Oval at 7AM. ‘Twas my first time to do so, and my first jog with friends. The sun’s heat and the humidity were just right. The wind was calm, too.

I also took this chance to reminisce on some of my memories in UP. I may not have been an alumni, but the nation’s top university sure was a host to many milestones in my life. (Why I didn’t study in UP when I could have is another story for another time.) Good thing I got my replacement camera unit already from Canon.

Taking pictures while jogging? Talk about multi-tasking! xD

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The UP Oval

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Palma Hall

This is the Palma Hall. Not exactly sure whether here is where I took the UPCAT exam in 2006, but Palma Hall is among the most notable buildings in the campus.

Rizal Hall

Aah, the Rizal Hall, where we watched a play, Gabriela, back when I was in high school.

UP Film Institute

The UP Film Institute, where Destiny Church has its regular Sunday service. Back when I was attending Sunday service, I would always be out of breath arriving here because I was running late. Blame the Makati-to-UP commute. xD

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Lovers at the Sunken Garden

This picture closely resembles what I took in almost the same location just this February. I attended a fund-raising concert by Destiny Church held at the Sunken Garden during the UP Fair. (I saw that Gary V really still has the moves, and heard him talk about how God and Jesus saved his life. Inspiring words from Mr. Pure Energy.)

Before starting the walk home at 11PM (there were a few jeepneys at that time, so, yup, I walked all the way from the Sunken Garden up to the UP entrance in Commonwealth!), I took a picture of a couple enjoying the sights and sounds from a bench along the Sunken Garden parameter. See for yourself.

This picture is the “AM version” of it. xD

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This is me, jogging… like a zombie. xD

After our first lap, Charles and Kurt took two photos of me while jogging. They weren’t able to capture a third, because I decided to jog faster to “savor the moment.”

You see, I am sometimes guilty of taking so many photos during an event/gig and holding the camera 90% of the time, that I forget that it was not why I was there in the first place. I was busy trying to get the perfect shot, but it turns out, I was missing out on all the fun.

So there, when Charles and Kurt borrowed the camera to take pictures of me, I let go. Then, I let loose!

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Midway through the second lap, Charles and I pause (and pose) in front of the UP Oblation statue…

There are moments you can take photos/videos of, so you can view it later. And there are moments only the eyes can capture, amazing moments you should experience first-hand, priceless moments a picture or a video cannot fully contain.

The three of us chatting, laughing, and outrunning each other. Families and friends jogging and playing together. Vendors selling food and drinks along the Oval. Kids practicing football. Students walking with T-rulers and waiting on the stairs of the halls. Construction workers toiling beside a UP Monorail pillar.

The beauty in doing this “jog down memory lane” is that I got the chance to create new ones. My legs hurt until now, but that’s nothing compared to the things I got to see,  hear, and feel, as we jogged twice around the UP Oval on a warm, peaceful Saturday morning.

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P.S. It pays to stretch before and after jogging.

21 Dream Professions [Part 3]

As I look forward to the next eight decades or so of my life, I’ve come up with a list of 21 professions I would like to have or experience in the future.

[last of three parts] [read Part 1 here] [read Part 2 here]

15. TV commercial or movie producer – Every time we get to meet, my friend and I talk about ideas for commercials and comedy films. We miss the “Dolphy-Babalu-Redford White-Carding” era of comedy.

16. Lead vocalist of a band – My parents used to make me sing with a karaoke machine during special occasions. Over time, I got to love listening to music and singing along with it. I enjoy feeling the guitar riffs and the drum beats of rock songs, the soothing sound of pianos and violins, and the energetic blasts of trumpets and saxophones. When all of ’em get together in perfect harmony, and paired with nice lyrics, it’s “audiophile’s heaven” for me. (Too bad I don’t know how to play any musical instrument. But I’ll be one rockin’ lead vocalist, if you’ll ask me.)

17. Business analyst/Process optimizer – This is the only one related to my current profession, out of the 21 in this list. (I’m currently an SAP developer.) I want to take part in decision-making, in planning, in making processes efficient. I can do technical things, but my “clerical genes” really want to be part of the action!

18. Church pastor or leader – I’m not eliminating the possibility. I’ve just been saved recently, and this is the way I want to serve God and Jesus Christ, in return for all the blessings He has given me. When I get to have a family of my own, we will all be one in Christ, and then help in bringing more people to Jesus.

19. Urban planner – I have played Sim City games before, and I like how it allows you to run a town of your own, and solve simulated community problems. It taught me that you can’t just put schools or hospitals at any location, that zoning is essential, that police and fire stations should be put in strategic locations, and that you should also think of creating revenue for your town, not just spending.

20. MMDA chairman – I want to minimize the traffic in EDSA, and help implement zoning in Metro Manila. (But, I think I have to be city mayor first.)

And finally, my top dream profession…

21. President of the Philippines – Ever since I read my first newspaper and became aware of what’s happening in the country, I told myself, I want to correct things that aren’t working out. I had enough of “flavor of the month” issues: those that receive lots of attention one month, then gets forgotten the following month because of another issue that popped up. I strongly dislike it when newsmakers “solve problems” by airing their opponent’s “dirty laundry” which is not even related to the issue at hand, just to elicit from a “confused” audience anger towards the opponent and sympathy for the newsmaker. In short, I dislike it when unstable emotions trump solid evidence.

It pains me when I realize that more than 25 years after a revolution that should have improved our condition, nothing much has changed. The country is still living in the shadows of its past, because most of us Filipinos refuse to learn from it. We pick what we want to remember. We value popularity over skills and merit. Our foundations are shallow that we find it hard to stand on our own and hold ourselves up.

If I were President, I would uphold the rule of law. It’s better that we rely on laws and processes that are fair and rigid. We had enough of people circumventing laws to get away with all their wrongdoings. We had enough of powerless people remaining that way, convinced that they they will always lose to people who have money and power. We had enough of people using other people and their emotions to get what they want. With firm rules, there would be no one above the law.

If I were President, I would focus my energy on public service, not on politics. I would serve the people who need help, not the people who wants to help only themselves.

If I were President, I would narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. I would find a way to turn the “triangle” (wherein the wealthy few are on top, and the poor majority are at the bottom) into a “diamond” (wherein the self-sufficient middle class will compose most of the population).

If I were President, I would like to create more sustainable and stable jobs so that OFWs could go back home and work here. I would also boost the agriculture sector, because would have inadequate food supply if we disregard advancements and new studies in agriculture. We should be self-sufficient. We should get what we need from what we have.

If I were President, I would lead the Philippines back to where it was in the 1960s, when it was economically at par with South Korea and Japan. We have been there before. Surely, we can go back to that pedestal again. 🙂

21 Dream Professions [Part 2]

As I look forward to the next eight decades or so of my life, I’ve come up with a list of 21 professions I would like to have or experience in the future.

[2nd of three parts] [read Part 1 here]

8. Book author – I’m a huge bookworm: back in college (and until today), my two best friends and I go straight to the bookstores when we’re in malls. I want to learn all that I can about the world, hear stories from lots of people, then get to share what I’ve learned to and write stories of my own for other people. 🙂

9. Archiver – My NCAE results (the one students take before graduating from high school) suggest that I’d have a clerical career someday. It seems to me that it holds true. Since I love collecting stuff, why not become an archiver? Every information is important, every data essential. It helps us decide on what to do, to courageously face an uncertain future.

10. Photographer – I’m always the guy behind the camera, with eyes peering on the viewfinder. I’m always the “unofficial photographer” of the class in college. Mama even “scolded” me once for almost having no pictures of myself when I was Boston for a two-week IT conference. I’m easily amazed by what I see in the world: nature, buildings, crowds, serenity, and order amidst chaos and uncertainty. I love how pictures convey emotions, how photos can be worth a thousand words.

11. Statement shirts business owner – Yeah, Facebook and Twitter and all that are the fad right now. But what if you can wear your thoughts and feelings for the day? There are lots of businesses out there that do and have done that. But hey, we’ll have more awesome and more creative graphic designers with us to make the T-shirts more funky, witty, and trendy! Just wait and see… You’ve been warned. XD

12. College professor – Knows a lot about lots of things? Check. Willing to share ’em to kids and teens? Check. Talkative and sometimes makwela? Check. Wouldn’t give a student a failing grade as long as he/she shows he/she does not deserve it? Check. 😀 I might be going back to my alma mater (Asia Pacific College) to teach there, around five years from now.

13. Computer center administrator – I was a member of Intel Computer Clubhouse in Makati from 2002 to 2007. I sometimes volunteer in a Constructing Learning through Technology center in San Antonio, Pasig. I want to give back to the kids what I’ve learned and experienced in the Clubhouse. Plus, I get the chance to be a kid again and be a Kuya to lots of kids at the same time! 😀

14. Event organizer/director/planner – When I was in college, I was the logistics director of a huge IT student organization for almost three years. My job was to make sure our student events run smoothly. I learned how to deal with people, with changes in plans, and with criticisms. I will always love the adrenaline rush that I get when I’m in action. I also got to work with lots of cool, creative and amazing people.

[click here for Part 3]

21 Dream Professions [Part 1]

Exactly a month from now, I will be 21 years old.

So much has happened in my first two decades here on Earth. I met lots of friends, learned lots of lessons, and had my share of awesome and not-so-good moments.

As I look forward to the next eight decades or so of my life (Hey, I wanna live to 100!), I’ve come up with a list of 21 jobs/careers I would like to have or experience in the future.

These are what I’ve dreamt of since childhood. It was born out of the things I enjoyed doing, and still enjoy up to now. Who knows, I might make a career out of one, or some, or all (!) of the items in this list. 🙂

So, in no particular order of accomplishment, here are my 21 dream professions.

[1st of three parts]

1. TV travel show host – I’m a big fan of Strangebrew when it was still on TV. Tado and Erning (and Ramon Bautista) are such amusing hosts. Travel Time by Ms. Susan Calo-Medina is another inspiration. I want to travel the whole Philippines, share interesting trivia, and show my adventures in an entertaining way.

2. TV game show host – The late 90s to early 2000s was, in my view, the “golden age of game shows”. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Game K N B?, The Weakest Link, The Price is Right: I intently watch ’em all when it’s on. It’s that era when the viewers shout the answers to trivia questions on the TV screen, as if the contestant can hear us in the studio. Fun times.

3. Researcher/Research company owner – I have collected weird stuff from the Internet over the years: flags of the world, maps, TIME magazine covers, wrestling pay-per-view results, even Philippine Stock Exchange index and PHP-USD exchange rates. I have even created my own maps and infographics for: US Electoral College results since 1804, Philippine Congress Timeline, and 2010 Philippine general election results in some provinces. I’m a geek for lists, almanacs, newspapers, and maps, so I figured: why not set up my own research company? Or work for PIA, NAMRIA, or GMA News? 🙂 My big contribution to the country would be the Philippine Almanac, akin to The World Almanac and Book of Facts and TIME Almanac.

4. GMA News employee – I have said many times before that working for GMA News is one of my dreams. They’re more objective, more insightful, more informative. They do research better. That’s why I want to be among their employees, specifically in its online arm, GMA News Online.

5. Journalist – I remember when I was in elementary, in a journalism workshop, my feature article on the planets of the solar system was among those that received good remarks. Since then, I’ve written about lots of things. Some have been published in newsletters, some I have posted in my blogs, some I kept to myself. If I’d make it in the in the field of journalism, I want to be a feature writer, or an op-ed columnist.

6. Newscaster – From reading the news on newspapers to reading the news via the teleprompter? Why not? I like to do it the old-school way: just reporting the day’s headlines in an impartial, non-partisan, non-sensational way. It annoys me sometimes when newscasters express their opinions live on national TV. Yes, they have a right to do so, but it’s not their job, and primetime TV is not the right venue. It implies that their opinions are the right ones, that their experience in newscasting (and in public office, for some) is enough to make them “credible” to discuss issues. It’s as if they’re the voice of the people now. They should allow the viewers to be the judge, in my opinion. Newscasters should only be the medium, the channel. That’s their role, and I want to fulfill that.

7. News magazine editor-in-chief/executive editor – I like reading TIME Magazine. (I have liked Newsweek, too, since they changed their format.) It’s fun to learn something new about the world weekly. Plus, I geek out every time I see cool maps, infographics and numbers, because they present it in a way even a casual reader would understand. I want to be the EIC of a magazine that is objective, journalistic, informative, and in the loop of what’s trending and what’s going on in the country. No agenda, just points from both sides. 🙂

[click here for Part 2] [skip to Part 3]

53

53. It is the number painted on his vintage, iconic Volkswagen Beetle car. Sadly, 53 was also the age of its beloved owner when he drove it for the very last time.

Mr. Dennis A. Reyes, Program Director of the School of Computer Science and Information Technology of Asia Pacific College, passed away last December 3. The news caught everyone by surprise. When I heard it from Dianne Mercado (president of student org APC-JPCS, in which Sir Dennis was adviser), all I could say afterwards was, “Ba’t ganun? Of all people? And this early?”

~~~~~

I was Director of Programs and Meetings (aka Logistics Officer) of APC-JPCS for three years, though I had never talked to Sir Dennis heart-to-heart, if not at length. My duty as logistics officer is to make sure activities organized by our student org run smoothly. I go to Sir Dennis from time to time to have him sign venue reservation forms. Most of our conversations are about JPCS (and tidbits of my IT life).

However, I have lots of stories about Sir Dennis, and it helped me to get to know him better.

Once, I had a problem of securing 10 PC’s for a DOTA Tournament during IT Week. The ITRG Office (in charge of all computers and gadgets in APC) initially promised eight PC’s. When I got to confirm it a week before the event, they said they can only give three or four (or none at all, I really can’t remember). I went to Sir Dennis’ office, and told him this. Immediately, he got up from his chair and told me to come along. We went into the ITRG Office; minutes later, JPCS got the “full deal”: 10 PC’s, with power and networking taken care of.

I stood beside him dumbfounded. I was thinking, we can’t just storm into this office, Sir, and do this. Lots of scenarios are already running in my head. But he later justified: it’s IT Week, the time when CSIT students get to take a break from studies and participate in activities organized by JPCS and JISSA. Why spoil the fun?

Sir Dennis lets us do the thinking, and he’ll find a way to make it possible. (All in accordance with school rules, of course.)

~~~~~

Sir Dennis is not afraid to tell you what he feels, and what you need to hear. He doesn’t instill fear in you; he compels you to take action.

Some of us graduating students were tasked to create and publish RAMblings, the official magazine of SoCSIT. It is a compilation of tech-related articles written by all graduating IT students for our ITRENDS class. It must be published before, and distributed on graduation day (May 21).

Four weeks before May 21, we’re still not done with the soft copy. Chances were slim that we would get hold of the magazine in time. On one of our graduation practices, he frankly told us that if we wouldn’t be able to produce the magazine, we wouldn’t graduate. There were even R’s beside our names on the list of graduates tacked onto a board. (R means repeat; this means if we would not deliver, we’ll be repeating ITRENDS).

It wasn’t meant as a threat to us; it was simply the truth. The magazine itself is a project for the ITRENDS class, so if we wouldn’t be able to publish it by graduation day, we might as well kiss our diplomas goodbye (for now) and enrol for another term in school.

On that same day, the soft copy was done. Immediately, we submitted it to the publishers. Fortunately, two days before graduation day, all 500 copies of the magazine have been printed. We all breathed sighs of relief.

~~~~~

Sir Dennis is rich (or maybe well-off), but he doesn’t flaunt it. He dresses in a simple manner. He doesn’t go around and tell everyone about his brand-new watch, or the amount he spends for a haircut. As far as I know, when I hear him talk or share stories, it’s related to APC, work, JPCS, IT careers, and Volkswagens. I can see that he lives a simple, normal, passionate life.

One of the things I admire about Sir Dennis is his ability to filter out unnecessary details, and focus on what’s really important. Less drama, more merits, more action.

Also, I can say that he’ll agree with me on this: that as long as you love what you do, you’re never stepping on other people, and you do what is right, everything will be fine.

~~~~~

Two months after graduation, I was still out of work. A company has already extended a job offer to me, but I honestly told them I’m waiting for another company’s job offer. Their competitor’s, actually: IBM, a dream company of mine.

It was late July, and I was helping JPCS in organizing this year’s IT Week. Sir Dennis greeted us at the cafeteria during one JPCS meeting, and he asked me why I was still around the campus. I told him I was waiting for IBM’s job offer. Then and there, he told me to go to the APC Center, and look for Ms. Donna.

I asked her if there is a way to contact IBM to check on the status of my employment. Ms. Donna gave me a telephone number. I called, and found out that my application is still processed. I was assured that my application is active at the very least, so I waited once more.

During IT Week, in one of the Mr. & Ms. CSIT practices at the auditorium, IBM called me. I was instructed to go to Eastwood, because a contract is waiting for my signature.

If it weren’t for Sir Dennis, I may still be a bum at home, or be an employee having a job I may not enjoy in a company I had second-thoughts to work for. He may not have given me advice personally, but that simple assist was everything. If Sir Dennis had a mantra, it may be this: Just ask. I might help you. And he’ll seal it with a smile.

——

Thank you very much, Sir Dennis Reyes, for everything. Words aren’t enough to describe your impact and legacy in Asia Pacific College. Your successor will have big shoes to fill. You will surely be missed by JPCS, SoCSIT, APC, “Herbie”, and the whole APC Community.

Mr. Dennis Reyes (1958-2011) (retrieved from APC's official website)

Tutor Days

Most of my friends know me as a smart kid. (Smart na ako dati pa. Wala pa akong naging Globe o Sun na number. LOL!) Siyempre, alam ng pamilya ko na “matalino” ako. Ako, ang alam ko lang, marami akong alam.

As far as I know, “intellectual” lang ako. (Gifted? Sa “talino”, oo. Special? Depende sa definition.) Marami akong alam sa Math, sa History, sa iba’t ibang subject sa school, sa balita, at marami pang iba. Pero hanggang doon na lang ‘yun. Hangga’t maaari, hindi ko mismo sinasabing matalino ako dahil ayaw kong isumbat sa akin ‘yun ‘pag nagkamali ako. Enough said.

Pero nakakataba ng puso ‘pag alam ng ibang tao na “matalino” ka, kahit hindi mo sabihin. Alam nila dahil sinabi rin ng iba sa kanila, at napapatunayan mo naman. Hindi mo na kailangang magyabang at magpakitang-gilas.

—–

Ika nga ng isang kasabihan, sayang ang talino kung hindi binabahagi. Kaya naman, sa unang pagkakataon, naging tutor ako ng apat na bata.

Wala sa plano ko ang maging tutor. Maging teacher o professor balang araw, oo. Pero dati kasi, hindi ko trip maging tutor kasi (1) Masyadong exclusive ‘pag one-on-one (Paano naman yung iba?), at (2) Ayokong binabayaran ako sa pagbabahagi ng nalalaman ko. Eh libre lang naman dapat yun.

Bakit ko tinuloy?

  • (1) Dahil Math ang subject, at isa sa mga paborito ko yun. Maraming estudyante ang nahihirapan sa Math, kaya gusto ko sanang i-share ang mga techniques sa pag-solve ng Math problems at equations sa kanila.
  • (2) Family friends kasi namin ang pamilya ng una kong tutee (tawag sa tinuturuan ng tutor).
  • (3) OK lang sa kanila na “irregular” ang bayad. That is, hindi nila ako babayaran per tutor session, at hindi rin ako maniningil. Bahala rin sila kung magkano ang gusto nilang ibigay sa akin bilang kabayaran.

Si Sam ang una kong tutee. Fourth year high school student sa Pateros Catholic School.

Sa Math at Physics ko siya tinutulungan. Masaya naman ako dahil mabilis siyang matuto, at nakukuha niya naman ang concepts sa Physics, kahit na minsan eh bopols ang mga examples ko. Minsan, sabay kaming nag-aaral at natututo ‘pag may nakakalimutan akong mga ideya. Nakakatuwa dahil OK lang sa kanya ‘yun, basta may naituturo ako.

Dahil pa-graduate na siya ng high school, hinihingan niya ako minsan ng payo kung saan siya magka-college. (In the end, Letran ang pinili niya.)

Kalaunan, nauwi sa iba’t ibang usapan ang pagtyu-tutor ko. Tungkol kay God, sa mga diskarte ko sa pag-aaral, sa mga prinsipyo’t paniniwala naming dalawa, sa mga opinyon ko sa balita, at sa iba pang bagay-bagay sa buhay. Dito ako nag-enjoy kasi “beyond the call of duty” na ‘to, eh. Hiningi niya rin naman ito, kaya bakit ‘di ko ibibigay? Dahil dito, lalo akong naramdamang at home ako sa bahay nila, at hindi lang talino ko ang habol nila sa akin.

Ultimately, the link became less of a “tutor-tutee” kind, and more of a “brother-sister” one. Nabigyan ako ng isang avenue to speak out my mind, and Sam is willing to listen. Same goes vice versa. And Sam is mature enough to choose what to believe among those I’ve said to her.

Finally, I can say (and feel) na eager matuto si Sam. Hindi mo mararamdamang napipilitan lang siya. In fact, OK na OK lang sa kanya na tumagal ng dalawang oras ang pagtuturo ko.

My “rewards”? Nung una, P 1,000 ang binigay nila sa akin. Tapos noong Pasko, niregaluhan ako ni Sam ng Bench na bag at wallet. Kailan lang, sagot na ng pamilya niya ang isusuot ko sa graduation: long sleeve at pantalon daw, sabi ni Mama. (Nakuha ko na yung long sleeve.) Remember, hindi ko ‘to hinihingi sa kanila at hindi ako humihingi ng kabayaran. In fact, nahihiya pa nga ako kasi mahal at magaganda ang regalo nila sa akin, samantalang ako eh puro talino at abstract objects lang ang kayang ibigay bilang kapalit.

Ang sweet talaga nila! Mabasa man nila ito o hindi, I just got to say this: thank you, Sam and Justine! Thank you rin kina Ate Joy, Ate Jackie, Kuya Bong, Bennie the pitbull, at sa buong Navalta family sa pagtanggap at pag-aasikaso sa akin. Thank you very very much po!

—–

My second tutee: si Carlos. Grade 5, Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. Literally, I asked myself, “Kakasa kaya ako sa Grade 5?”

Sakto lang naman, kasi sa basic Math at Geometry ko siya tinutulungan. Mabilis rin matuto. For his age, mature na rin siya mag-isip. Marunong na rin siyang mag-prioritize: ‘pag oras ng laro, laro; ‘pag oras ng pag-aaral, aral. Maganda ang pagpapalaki sa kanya.

One time, nung hindi ako nakapunta sa bahay nila, tinanong niya raw ang Dad niya, “If he promised to come at 5:00 PM, and he arrives at 6:45 PM, is it still OK?” Kung hindi pa raw kasi ako dumating, mag-i-Internet na raw siya sa computer shop. Ouch.

—–

My last two tutees (for now): si Noah at DJ. Magkapatid yata, di ako sure. Si Noah, 3rd year student, sa Trigonometry humihingi ng tulong. Si DJ, Grade 4, sa isang private school sa Taguig, at sa Math din nahihirapan. Exam kasi nila this week, kaya nagpaturo. It’s good to know na alam nila ang basics ng tinuturo ko. Nahihirapan lang sila nang kaunti sa kung kailan at paano gamitin.

Ang kaibahan nga lang sa naunang dalawa, nagbayad ang tatay nila after our one-time session. Siyempre, wala akong rate, kaya OK lang kahit magkano ang ibigay nila. In fact, kahit wala nga, OK lang eh.

—–

Would there be more to come next school year? Too bad, baka wala na.

Siyempre, graduate-graduate din. Magtatrabaho na ako siguro starting this summer, kaya baka wala na akong oras na mai-a-allot sa tutoring. Pero, susubukan ko pa rin.

Nag-enjoy na rin kasi ako sa pagtyu-tutor sa kanila. Hindi lang kasi sila ang may natututunan from me, ako rin may natututunan from them: life lessons.

Kung stepping-stone man ito sa pagiging professor ko someday, then so be it.

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