Recycled Resolution Tested

This year, I included PATIENCE as one of the virtues I want to cultivate. “I’ll be more patient this year,” I told myself while waiting for the clock to strike 12 on New Year’s Eve 2009. I thought it would be easy, but it turned out that 2010 doesn’t want to help me achieve this goal smoothly. Recent events tested this recycled resolution of mine.

Phone calls

Every time I pick up the phone, I take a deep breath and smile before I say my greetings. If I don’t do this, I’ll end up furious, especially when I pick up a ringing phone just to answer the question: “Hello, pwede pong magtanong?” It is as if they can take ‘no’ for an answer.

Queues

The ‘advantage’ card doesn’t give you an advantage at all. I hate it when you only buy one item (for example, a facial wash) and you have to wait for the one in front of you (who bought every single item on sale in the department store).

MBA

I took two subjects this time and so my Mondays and Wednesdays are blocked. Although the subject combination for this term is quite manageable, I tend to miss sleeping early during weekdays. Well, since I really want to get that that diploma with Athenaei Manilani Curatores inscribed on it, then I’ll have to deal with this.

Traffic

The newly-installed traffic lights in the city’s choke points already became part of my daily exam for patience. That red light surely knows how to irritate drivers.

Elections

I am very much excited about the upcoming elections. I’m sure the proclamation of a new President would put an end to the “Naligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura” Last Song Syndrome.

It’s day 17 of 2010 and more tests of patience are expected to come my way.

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Training for a Living

If you open my car’s trunk these days, you won’t find tons of shoes, clothes, prescription drugs nor giveaways. It’s funny to see a box of school materials, a roll of Manila paper and a bunch of folders. There was a time when my trunk was loaded with plastic balls, straws, barbeque sticks and plastic cups. I used to do this before, not for a living, but for fun. Now, it’s something really serious. It’s professional.

After a quick research and upon stumbling upon the actual job itself, I have settled for myself the great debate on “trainer vs trainor.” Now I know that I should be called a trainor (thanks to http://barenaked.i.ph/).

Every time I attend lectures, seminars and trainings, I am always fascinated by trainors. Now that I consider myself as one, I present to you the 10 COMMANDMENTS OF A TRAINOR (applicable to HR people or those in the corporate world) and not for trainers (i.e. fitness, animal, etc.), but if the need arises, then these may come handy:

1.Thou shall ask for Divine Intervention at all times.

Nowadays, AVPs are in. Download videos — Bukas Palad, Hillsong or Don Moen works. If not, better recite a simple one. There’s no other way to start any program than with a prayer.

2.Thou shall be financially prepared.

There were a couple of times when I had to buy some stuff for games, prizes and even pika-pikas for the participants. Whether you can reimburse the money or not, always think about the success of your activity.

3.Thou shall be (or look) cool and street smart.

Before any seminar, you should know the Billboard Top 100, current events, social issues, and trivia. Remember that you should always look (and be) more learned than your audience (whether they are subordinates, fellows or bosses). Watch TV, download the latest dance craze and know the latest jokes.

4.Thou shall not forget the checklist.

This is an important thing I learned from my superiors and friends who have been exposed in training or organizing – always have a checklist. Make sure that you are ready with everything from nametags to attendance sheets.

5.Thou shall act as an all-around event organizer.

Imagine that you are planning a wedding. Call up all the participants so that they’ll show up, prepare the sound system, food, entertainment and others. More often than not, you are also the emcee, speaker’s personal assistant, and waiter.

6.Thou shall accept criticisms good-naturedly.

No one else will be blamed but you. Bad-tasting food, missing handout pages, inkless pens, and even brownouts are blamed on trainors. Just smile and find solutions right away. Anyway, they will always enjoy the games.

7.Thou shall know your resource speaker.

If you are a facilitator, know the personality of your speaker. They come to ‘train’ as well, and you must treat them like a VIP. Know their favorite food, pet peeves, and moods. Someday (hopefully) you’ll be like them.

8.Thou shall be resourceful.

There are times wherein you have to craft something out of nothing. Produce an output or find a substitute for something which is needed for the training.

9.Thou shall be child-like.

Be a game master and prepare games, icebreakers and activities that will liven up a boring discussion. Try the games for you to know if they are applicable or feasible.

10.Thou shall be happy.

Training is a way of spreading something to a group of people. You don’t want to share gloom, hatred or problems. Share happiness.

I can’t help but smile each moment I reminisce the laughter of participants whenever they play games. I always look at their eyes and expressions whenever they listen to me. I feel excited when I facilitate a game. I am interested in hearing their problems, ideas and feelings.

When you’re a trainor, differences on age, sex or belief doesn’t matter. Expectations should be met and lessons must be properly disseminated. It’s making the blind see, the mute speak, and the deaf listen.

Now I have to plan for the next trainings. Three more to go before the month ends!

Running out of characters

I survived eight months without posting any blog entry because instead of concocting a feel-good write-up for my own (and a few readers’) pleasure, I ended up immersed in Facebook which I strategically linked to my Twitter account. These quick posting applications were handy. I found them very practical over the past busy months since I only had to share what I was doing, watching or listening to while I can tweet a 140-character line to my very few (sad to say) minions on Twitter.

When I was about to close my Friendster account, it made a move that didn’t came a surprise to social networking addicts. Dull “FS” turned green and became an “FB”-copycat. One thing common about social networking sites today is that built-in longitudinal box where people can publicize their thoughts by clicking the buttons ‘shoutout’ in Friendster, ‘update’ in Twitter and ‘share’ in Facebook. No wonder Yahoo! Mail also joined the craze and installed a “What are you doing right now” box as well.

Once in a while, I blankly stare at my bedroom window, thinking about a shout out, or wondering if a tweet would be interesting enough for my friends to “like.”I found these ‘share’ boxes very challenging since they are limited in characters. This means that you have to be creative enough to be noticed.

The online craze of announcing anything under the sun has been a subject of criticisms. I myself laugh at those ‘shares’ which do not gather any comments at all. Christine Gambito of “Happy Slip” saying that ‘here (status updates) is something that we complete indulge in simply because we can now.” (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV4PNwpqsCc). CNN (See http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/08/20/annoying.facebook.updaters/index.html ) and “Ang Pinaka” hosted by Rovilson Fernandez in QTV11 (See http://www.jumblepop.com/2009/10/ang-pinaka-pasaway-na-facebook-users.html) also enumerated the “Most Annoying Facebook Users.”

For the sake of online presence, I am still hooked in these portals. On the down side, I always run out of characters. This year, I think I’ll make more sense if I start to blog again.

Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/earl1987
Read my blog: https://earl1987.wordpress.com

Busy Valentine’s Day

I never thought this year’s February 14 would be a very busy day for me. The fact that I am not committed to anyone didn’t make things quite easy.

4:30AM-7:30AM
What: Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
Where: Clark, Pampanga
hot-air-balloon-fiesta-092It was my first time to be in such event although it has been running for 14 years. It was my first time to experience heavy traffic at dawn in this former US air base. I wonder how it was done 14 years ago. The affair turned out to be a little bit commercialized (if not too much) but the effect was quite good. Throngs of people came to see hot air balloons with assorted shapes – coffee mug, elephant, tiger, and a lot more. My pick for ‘Best Hot Air Balloon’ would be the colorful ‘smiley with a cap.’

Notable person/s seen: Ivan Henares (ivanhenares.com)

8:30AM-5:00PM
What: Work
Where: Office (where else?)
For us, there’s no such thing as “work-life balance.” Oops, maybe we have (we just have to do the ‘balancing’ in our own way since we have whole day of work until Saturday). Good thing I love my job! It was a usual “V-day” at the office. We tuned in to RW playing mushy love songs.

Notable person/s seen: N/A

5:00PM-6:00PM
What: Reflections of the Heart
Where: SM Pampanga
reflections-of-the-heartYes, it was like a “mall tour” for me. I sang Paolo Montalban’s part in Cinderella (The Sweetest Sounds). Thanks to my officemates Darla and Amar for being there (they stood as my stage parents!).

Notable person/s seen: I swear I saw someone ‘artista-like’ performing in front of Congo Grille.
7:00PM-10:00PM
What: Carlo Hizon’s Surprise Party
Where: somewhere downtown San Fernando
carlos-birthdayI drove to Carlo’s house for a surprise party for him prepared by his wife and family. When I came, everything was dark. They turned off the lights of course (oh, the usual “surprise” thingy). Everyone was holding a slice of cake with a small candle. The sight was exciting. When Carlo came… SURPRISE! And the night started to roll. The food was great! (1004 made me say ‘mmmmmm’ after every bite).

Notable person/s seen: Former schoolmates from San Lorenzo; the guest band

Taking the Ateneo Way

ateneo_150Two nights before my 21st birthday, I imbibed the Ignatian spirit.

At exactly 5:30 in the afternoon, I hurriedly logged out from office and went straight to the Ateneo Graduate School of Business in Clark for my admission interview. When I stepped out of my car, I was surprised to see my college batch mate Kaisell, who was working as an agent in the adjacent call center. It took about three minutes to end our “hi’s and hello’s” since we haven’t met since graduation. I had a very hard time explaining to her why I was there. She pointed at the glass door where the entrance to the Ateneo office is located.

When I got into the small room, I was greeted by Sherwin, the program assistant. Two other people were already waiting for the professor who will conduct the interview. One was a year older than me and another one was an experienced professional whom, I guess, is in his mid-40’s. Technically, I was the youngest in the group and this gave me butterflies in the stomach.

After 30 minutes, Sir Danny arrived. Usual questions were raised. I really felt the pressure because the two of us who lacked professional work experience were given a hard time. We had to prove why we are worthy of taking an accelerated program. But because we were both eager and persistent, Sir Danny was convinced. Long story cut short – all three of us were accepted for next term’s Ateneo-Regis MBA Program.

The interview lasted about 20 minutes, after which was an introduction about ‘The Ateneo Way’ of learning. As a Thomasian, I found the Ignatian teachings very different. Now I know why students from various universities have their own character. Each university teaches how students should act according to a distinct culture that sets them apart from other schools.


Of course, I will never forget the Dominican teachings of ‘Veritas cum Caritate’ aligned with the ideals of being a committed, competent, and compassionate individual. Now, I will add ‘MAGIS’ to my traits and live the Ateneo way – a professional who cares about nation-building, and a person who is willing to give MORE in everything.

About Trees and November Stuff

About Trees

06-05-30_3771The volume of vehicles along McArthur highway’s San Fernando strip is getting heavier each day. Aside from annoying passenger jeepneys, the number of reckless motorcycle drivers and big speedy trucks is increasing, too. Although I am so pessimistic about the current road situation, I still see a little spark of hope. One solution: cut down trees! Okay, so a lot of locals are having second thoughts on killing the decades-old acacias bordering the San Fernando-Angeles City stretch of McArthur Highway. But human lives are more important than Joyce Kilmer’s poem right?

At first, I didn’t get the point of removing the trees. When I was a kid really loved passing along the highway and appreciate the greenery. But through the years, two lanes are not enough to accommodate vehicles passing through McArthur Highway. Now that I am one of the daily motorists traversing this highway, I realized how dangerous these trees are. From the local news I heard that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is planning to widen the road but the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) is blocking this plan. DPWH has to remove all the trees so they can add two additional lanes. I feel the need for a wider road because the area is becoming more accident-prone. The number of vehicles doubled since its last extensive widening (APEC 1996 if I’m not mistaken).

My idea is to create a park similar to central park in Manhattan (oh! I smell Sex and the City) and let McArthur Highway serve its purpose – a safe and accessible haven for motorists.

November Stuff

Here’s a recap of my November:
– I express my disgust over the 2009 Starbucks planner
– Last November 16, we already turned our Christmas lights on signalling the start of the holidays (and the increase of our electric bill). I love my new Supernova phone.
– Special thanks to my new companion vis-a-vis driving instructor, Butch Ortiz
– I’m excited about the launching of “Cradle” magazine
– 2 “Ferrari” keychains to go before I complete the set of Shell’s cool collectibles!

(Photo of McArthur Highway taken from http://www.batch2006.com/visit_angeles.htm)

What’s up (or down) with the Chinese?

After showing off during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese citizens are in the news again. The recent ‘melamine’ scare has been so sensationalized that whatever chocolate, milk, or food product that has a Chinese encryption on it is considered as poison. Two weeks ago, just before the melamine outbreak, I bought a lot of Chinese stuff from Divisoria and Chinatown. Does this mean I am contaminated?

For people from the world of Science (ooh, I remember my college days), melamine’s IUPAC name is 1,3,5-Triazine-2,4,6-triamine. According to my personal research through the Internet, melamine is toxic (when used in large amounts) and is combined with other substances to produce resin, cement mixture, or colorant. Excessive ingestion can lead to reproductive damage or bladder cancer.

So some Chinese products were proven to be contaminated with this toxic substance that is why everyone has been over-patriotic creating a demand on Filipino products. Aside from increasing sales of local chocolates, milk, and anything that isn’t “Made in China,” melamine has been a word of mouth. Whenever I take something inside my mouth my officemates would burst and say “Hoy, baka may melamine ‘yan!” (Hey, maybe that has melamine in it!) Precautions are enough. I think others are overreacting.

China already said “sorry.” Alright, that may not be enough and we think they are so pathetic for endangering billions of lives around the world. But hey, they’ve been battered too much and they are just paying for what they have done to their reputation. China should redeem its name clouded with issues on toys with lead content, flimsy products, and now, melamine-rich food!

I have nothing against the people of China. In fact, I am proud that most of my close friends are Chinese. I love their food, their way of life, and their customs. I learn from them. I just hope that someday, their entire population (which is enormous) will work together to reclaim their glory.

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!

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.