An Obama Nation or a McCain Country?

Will US have its first African-American President or first woman Vice-President?

The upcoming elections of one of the world’s super powers will be as complex as the distress we are experiencing here in the Philippines. I listened to Barack Obama’s speech during the Democratic Party Convention yesterday and his words were very compelling. In my observation, Americans are leaning toward this African-American nominee.

For the Republicans, they are firm in supporting John McCain who is (for me) more fit for the job of being Commander-in-Chief of the US Army (given his experience and credentials). Unfortunately, people are bothered by his age.

McCain’s shocking move: Choosing Alaska Governor Palin as his running mate.

So what’s next for the White House? Things are still unclear.

Neckties

When I was a kid, I didn’t worry about wearing neckties. During my pre-school days, I had a ‘ready-to-wear’ necktie with a plastic holder and all I have to do is put it on my shirt. Eventually, I had to tie a necktie with the help of my dad when I was in fifth grade. I always asked the assistance of my dad (sometimes even my mom) whenever I had to tie a necktie until my senior year in high school.

In college, I had to attend formal gatherings (almost every girl was celebrating her debut throughout my four years in Manila) and I had to learn the complicated way of tying a necktie. Thanks to www.tieanecktie.com I was able to successfully put on a necktie every time I attend parties.

I had to master the art of tying a necktie since I am working in a corporate environment. After four months of tying a necktie six times a week, I believe I was able to acquire an ample amount of skill and technique. Although I tie the ‘Windsor Knot’ every morning, no knot is perfectly the same every time I do it.

When I opened my cabinet last Monday, I realized that I had a ton of neckties already – having all sorts of colors, designs and sizes. I bought a fancy necktie that is only an inch wide (Bench). I love the neckties my mom bought from Tieline. Some were from Marks and Spencer and the rest have plain colors (by Armando Caruso). While tying a knot one morning, I just remembered some lines from a local comedy film re-run on cable TV. It was all about the connection between love and tying a necktie (it sounds very corny at first but the said lines convey the truth):

Ang pag-ibig ay parang pagsusuot ng necktie. Sa una, magkakabuhol-buhol ka kasi di mo pa alam ang gagawin. Kaya minsan, kailangan ulitin ang pagtali dito. Pero habang tumatagal, ay natututunan mo ang pasikotsikot sa pagtatali ng necktie mo. Parang sa pagibig, habang tumatagal, lalo kang tumatatag, tumatalino.

Tying a necktie is not as simple as it looks. Try it!

Seven Hours

What happens in Tokyo from 11:55 at night up to 6:55 at daybreak? Haruki Murakami tells it all in his captivating novel entitled “After Dark.”

Night life in Tokyo is portrayed in a vivid manner through Murakami’s narration in “After Dark.” The story revolves mainly around a girl named Mari and her 7-hour experience around the streets of Tokyo. She meets Takahashi, a trombone-player who admires her sister Eri Asai.

The novel’s plot is so simple yet I find the storyline very complex. It involves not only the typical city nightlife but also tackles the nocturnal lifestyle of people who are still awake during wee hours. I myself thought about Manila several times while reading “After Dark.” I remember the nights I strolled along Manila streets alone, or drank coffee together with friends, or moments I had intimate talks until 4 in the morning. The setting in “After Dark” is very similar to some my college night life. Considering that we are in the same Asian continent, it is not unusual that both people in Manila and Tokyo have a similar way of life.

Individuality

The value of individuality is one of the highlights of “After Dark.” In the novel, the boyish Mari compares herself to her beautiful sister Eri Asai. Today, people give high regard to beauty and physical appearance. Whether we like it or not, people judge strangers primarily by looks. I am a victim of insecurity when it comes to how I look.

Creativity

It is important to look at things ‘well and creatively’ according to Takahashi (one of the main characters in “After Dark”). Relating it to my current occupation which involves marketing and advertising, mere knowledge is not enough. We should look at all things in a different way and always criticize your own work. This way, you can come up with unique ideas to improve anything you do.

Voyeurism

The voyeuristic approach of “After Dark” becomes the clearest way of telling Eri Asai’s story. Readers are immersed by Murakami into the room of Eri Asai herself. I, as a reader, imagined myself looking into a security camera observing everything Eri Asai was doing.

“After Dark” is just one of the many works of Murakami which are gaining popularity nowadays. I’ll definitely read another Murakami soon.

Triple Eight

I heard that it will take another century before people on earth can see another triple numbered date on their calendars. Nothing lucky or unusual happened to me during this 888 [August 8, 2008] week but still, I felt the need to write something down for the sake of documenting some of the things that happened this week. In fact, some of which are quite important. Here are eight of them:

1. This country should be thankful for having Ford Group Philippines (FGP). After attending a press conference with FGP president Rick Baker last August 6, I learned that Ford Sta. Rosa plant has already exported more that 50,000 vehicles.

2. It’s the third week since I have been driving my Getz with a driving instructor and I think I am improving everyday. Lucky for us we weren’t reprimanded while we were practicing how to park at the local SM mall.

3. The opening ceremonies of the 29th Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China was very unique. I was amazed with their creativity. The organizers were able to maximize the manpower they have and it was really ‘the greatest show on earth’ during that night of August 8, 2008.

4. I’m halfway through the book entitled “Communications for Business and Professions” by Andrews and Baird, Jr. and I’m learning a lot.

5. I threw Rooster’s lines last Saturday for the local production of “Annie” here in Pampanga. How I wish I get the part. I hope I was able to pull it off after singing “I Dreamed a Dream”

6. I think I’m not getting any fatter.

7. “Do not be afraid” and “Follow the footsteps of St. Dominic de Guzman” were two significant statements I learned from Eucharistic celebrations I attended this week.

8. TV5 replaced ABC 5. Good luck. I am looking forward to your ‘reformatted’ shows. I am excited about the new studio set of GMA 7’s news shows.

Licenses to Kill

My non-professional driver’s license is worth 1,200.26 pesos to be exact, and it’s not worth it!

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) Regional desk in San Fernando, Pampanga is the worst government agency I have been through. July 22 and 23 were the most tiring day for first half of 2008 for me because of my experience at LTO. I came to LTO at around 7:00 in the morning of July 22 and I got my license at 3:30 pm of the next day.

It all started when I had to file an affidavit of loss because I was not able to keep the receipt of my Student Permit. Then I had to go through a medical check-up, a drug test, and some paperwork. All seemed pretty well and I thought I could finish everything before lunchtime; but I was wrong.

Due to technical problems (computer glitch), I had to come back the next day. I thought I would be able to get my license faster because I was able to accomplish some requirements the previous day. To my surprise, I had to experience falling in line again, waiting for an hour for my name, taking a “fake” test, and paying more money.

All LTO employees look very annoyed. They are not courteous and they seem very relaxed. With almost a hundred people waiting for the release of their licenses, it was obvious that all employees did not have any sense of urgency.

No seminar was given. Tests were faked (non-pro examiners only answered 7 out of 40 questions and pro examiners are required to answer 12 out of about 60 questions). This is the proof why the streets of the Philippines are filled with undisciplined and stupid drivers (especially jeepney drivers) who are not aware of traffic signs, regulations and defensive driving. I had to pay an extra 300 Php so as not to take the practical test. LTO’s pathetic reasons for doing these came straight from their employees’ mouths: Kapag nag-test kayo, hindi tayo matatapos at siguradong walang papasa dahil mahirap ang test. (If you take the exam, we will not be able to finish on time and no one will pass, too. The test is difficult.) LTO is practically giving away licenses to kill. Anyone can get a license for a price.

Now I have my non-professional driver’s license which will expire on my 23rd birthday. I hope by that time, LTO has changed.

Breakdown of license fees:

Php 100 (Affidavit of loss)

150 (Medical check-up)

250 (Drug test)

300 (fixer, who is an LTO employee) for not taking practical test

340.26 (actual price of license)

60 (so-called dup. Cert)

Thank you to my new friends, namely, Amy, Myel, and Rodel.

To my officemate Doods, I appreciate your dad’s letter which I actually didn’t use. I dared to get hold of my license on my own and here’s the price.