Saturday, March 27, 2010

twenty plus

“In this hour of acceptance...
I am not seeing what I wanted to see.”

29 March 2008 (SMS sent at 03:14am)

It is just one of those days in each year when one reflects occurring changes around: How does it feel? How do they taste now? What is that scent? Seeing things? Hearing voices?

Pardon for crushing your assumptions on mental struggles, but this is not a case of dementia. I may have numerous outbursts on matters both interesting and not, but I am too young for that. Young. Ah, the word…

How does it feel now?
“Young” seems to be a hobby these days rather than a natural stage in life. If one wants to feel a rush of thrill, go zip-lining. Or if one wants to feel nostalgic, check hundreds of albums in Facebook and satiate those longings. Youthfulness is available right then and there, pronto.

How do they taste now?
If the differentiation is based between the infant days and the now, of course, the distinction is epic. The tongue is an iconoclast now—sweet, sour, salty, and bitter are passé—there are umami, tangy, spicy, and the considerable sixth taste receptor for fat now. And if there’s one thing about taste right at this moment that is deeply relevant, it is the taste of success. Like wine, it enhances as it matures.

What scent is that?
It must be the stink from the cloud of pollution that aims to annihilate the lungs. The practicalities of making a living, after the episodic years of being sheltered in schools, from elementary to college, enforces the privileged man to find his own privileges, five days a week, nine hours a day, in a forest of smoke and scum.

Hearing voices?
Conversations inside the head just keep getting louder and louder. If the ruckus is not enough, another voice joins in from out of nowhere, and the overlapping discussions on pros and cons persist. Day by day, the fight between the logical, the irrational, and the safely unconditional grows bigger. And at this time, it is already Round 28,999.

Seeing things?
Youth is but a chunk of biceps here, a continent of a chest there, and a wad of cash somewhere. Wrinkles? Pond’s age defying cream or Nivea anti-aging skin care can take care of that. With consumable income at hand, one can see the bounties of youth in a blink of an eye (or if it’s through Pond’s or Nivea, in seven weeks). Never has the sin of vanity so highly esteemed and germane, I find the idea cute but strange.

* * *

Year after year, the senses become susceptible even to the littlest details. I do not want to assume that this is brought about from being a year wiser now—I still find that pompous. A year doubtful, perhaps, because I think it is better to be questioning at first than being ostentatiously sharp then outwitted next. Nothing beats the inquisitive mind.

And by the way, birthdays are birthdays. Digging up a glorified meaning in my annual numbers game will always be debatable and subjective. Whatever the turnout is, I am on the affirmative axioms of the optimist side.


(this entry is posted three days earlier since this account will be deactivated on the Day of Taking Another Step on the Flight of Stairs)

Friday, March 26, 2010

a bright idea: turning it off

Soon, the world will be swallowed in darkness.

Thankfully, it is not the end of the world. In fact, this seemingly bleak picture could stretch the lifespan of our world if it ensues in the next years to come. Yes, it will, if we bear in mind Earth Hour.

First launched on March 31, 2007 in Australia, Earth Hour is a global event organized by World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, requesting households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Our participation as a third world country may be small but our efforts will always be big. In fact, our country is the top participant in last year’s event, with a record of 650 cities switching their lights off for 60 minutes, beating the country where it originated, an official from the WWF said for the Philippine Daily Inquirer (issue March 30, 2009).

“More than 15 million Filipinos in 650 major towns and cities from distant islands participated,” said WWF communications officer Gregg Yan in the same interview mentioned earlier.

Reports say that the electric grid figures in that year show that 386 Megawatt-hours were saved in Luzon, 150 Megawatt-hours in Mindanao, and 75 Megawatt-hours in Visayas for that blackout. Imagine the bulk of energy we have saved, and as a result, successfully reducing our power plants’ utilization from natural resources.

Even if the official Earth Hour is a couple of minutes away from now, here are some ways we can do every single day in the office to somehow start little by little an Earth Year:

1) Set The Thermostat Lower. The Philippines is a tropical country and “hot” will forever be an everyday feature, but keeping the office extraordinarily cold is not a good idea though. It hampers people from being awake and more productive, and they would go to the pantry to heat water for coffee or tea, heat another thing in the microwave for eating, thus, crunching more numbers in the bills.

2) Replace Old Bulbs. Change incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights or CFLs (example: the picture above). They are a bit pricier, but here’s the logical catch: a 14-watt CFL produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

3) Print Wisely. There’s what we call as Print Preview. Before printing any documents, check files in it for errors or corrections so that nothing would end up in waste, that is 1) the electric energy exploited by the whirring printer, and 2) the paper coming from cut-down trees in some balding mountain. Remember, Paper-Less Management?

4) Simply Unplug. Anything that’s connected to outlets eats up energy, off or not. This usually disregarded fact leads to “phantom energy use” which accounts for about 10 percent of an individual home’s electricity use. One layman tip: check all devices are unplugged before leaving the office.

5) Turn It Off. If “unplugging” is for long-term purposes, like leaving a computer unplugged for the holidays, there’s “turning off” for short-terms, like switching a computer off or powering it down when going out for lunch. It is as easy as a toddler’s A-B-C.

With these being said, there is no need to further expound why this special hour on the last Saturday of the month is our vote for our planet’s sustenance. Come March 27, 2010 at 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening, let’s switch off our lights and other electric devices, open the windows to welcome the wind, and see the stars shine in a different light.

[originally written for the company’s online newsletter so pardon all the references to work]

Thursday, March 25, 2010


After that occurrence that lasted for approximately five seconds (just my estimates), here are some interesting accounts from people that popped up in my cellphone, Twitter and Plurk accounts. These were people who were so immersed in their respective works, not so mindful that some parts of Luzon experienced a 6.1 magnitude quake at 1:29pm this afternoon:

“I was playing a video game while talking to one of the directors of the commission of human rights, and then I felt dizzy.”
- Robert

“…naalis antok ko!”
- Yas

“While listening to Black Eyed Peas, my chair shook back and forth, thinking my officemate was kidding around again, when I saw everyone standing up confused, and I thought, I am in the 38th floor!”
- Jordan (Ako)

“Woot! Earthquake! And I thought it was just me tapping my foot to Telephone.”
- Marck

Friday, March 19, 2010

there's something about this work

Last week, an idea struck me on my way home: I should be writing more about the workplace and the work itself.

It was, at the back of my head, a good idea. Since I have been wallowing in unexplainable distress the very first second I gambled my ideals, just to immerse in the curious sterility of the corporate world, why not capitalize on this emotion and get something fruitful from it?

In fact, way before the epiphany, I have produced one short fiction that revolves around an executive, a staff member and a blue-collar worker. All it needed was a workshop for polishing, I guess. Also, I have two drafts set aside because they (not me) don’t know where to go next.

These days, in between breaks and rest hours at home, I am trying to complete them. What could have been a very promising self-imposed project is now a little bit shaken when I read an
article two days ago with this sentence inserted somewhere in between: “many contemporary writers are notably silent about a key area of our lives: our work.”

What a serendipitous moment.

The essayist Alain de Botton has written that statement, and his blow-by-blow pointers hit a lot of realities especially in the state of modern Philippine literature. When was the last time people have read something about a farmer or, for the sake of timeliness, a nurse or a call center agent?

Botton’s study is hilarious yet worth quoting:

“If a proverbial alien landed on earth and tried to figure out what human beings
did with their time simply on the evidence of the literature sections of a
typical bookstore, he or she would come away thinking that we devote ourselves
almost exclusively to leading complex relationships, squabbling with our
parents, and occasionally murdering people.”

Botton shares that many novelists in the past have this goal of capturing the working life, such as Dickens, Steinback and Kafka, with the latter’s collection of short stories The Office Writings. I know little (or maybe none) of Filipino writers steeped on writings about work—especially that many of them serve it as a “décor” or, as how fictionist Ian Rosales Casocot puts it, “the wallpaper treatment”—but I am sure there is a rich heap out there.

Casocot pondered that Arturo Belleza Rotor could be an example for his “doctor writings.” I tried thinking for myself who else could be a practitioner, and F. Sionil Jose entered my mind, but later on, I realized his are peppered with lots of politicism even if many of the details in the narrative are distinctly Filipino chores of the working middle class.

And today, writers seem to veer away from the most relevant thing in the world.

But then I consider this could be an issue of escapism, what with the dourest clouds hovering above the heads of many unemployed men these days. This assessment of work absent in recent literature is then brought up again in an
essay written by Jennifer Schuessler in The New York Times.

Especially for those working in a corporate setup, one would ask, as written by Schuessler, “how much do we really want to read about what goes on at the office? Don’t most of us spend far too much time there already? The specifics of modern-day labor are, in many cases, utterly dull…”

I can attest to that that it rings all the bells. Why should a student read the mechanical routine of, for example, a restaurant manager when he or she can read the romantic tribulations between a glittering vampire and a sleepy girl, right? Wrong.

This must be the reason why most people, especially the student sector, are so detached from current affairs. We have been busy accumulating too much fantasy in our lives that we have forgotten how the machine works.

The thought of escapism as a means of momentary comfort is all right, but the tangible just keeps on drifting away from us because we have fastened ourselves to the idea of “anything happens,” disregarding the pinch of lesson one could get from stories about the luxury of retirement, the dedication in overtime, or the pitfalls of resigning one’s position.

That’s too much drama; however, to echo Botton, it is just ironic that critics praise a novel by Joshua Farris, saying it tracks “the antics inside a corporation… tackling the fresh and entirely unexpected subject matter of going to the office” when all the while most, if not all, people are laboriously working for days on end. Haven’t people noticed it yet?

It is true that the realm of work is a tedious vacuum but, on the whole, to grasp the reality is to grasp the fundamentals that establish all things as real. And anyone’s job is one of them.

Thus, I will go back to my two drafts now and finish them.

Monday, March 01, 2010

nothing's elusive to the desperate man

It seems to me that whenever the lethal mix of stress, boredom and routine strikes, there’s the need to completely vanish from the picture, go out of the radar.

Yes, it has been a while that I have not mingled with my usual partners-in-crime, to pursue the usual rounds in a drinking hole, chat the usual fantasies, and walk back to the usual dwelling only to wake up the following day to a dreary Sunday, or worse, a usual Monday.

My mind is completely cluttered lately that I can’t even determine what the fun in watching a movie is.

It is a momentary choice I’ve made, this detachment. I have been missing a lot of things since the start of the year, and the opportunity to get out of the metro—the city tangled in many electrical wires, drowning in dusty PUV’s—is like the most beautifully-cut diamond in all the trash I have been seeing.

After living in a concrete jungle for almost eight months, I’ve thought that the waves, the sand, the cheap sumptuous food, the sunrise, and all about calmness, will be an elusive dream of an intoxicated employee. I’ve made that notion wrong.

One day, with everything all set to go, I venture onto a six-hour travel to find peace, along with three of my Hipon fellows Sara Sebastian, Sam Echavez, and Yas Ocampo. Slap me in the face, but what a peace we found! The escape is worth it.

The stunning details are too vast to word in a paragraph that is why I will just post some shots here, and insert some bits of our conversation that will never be heard in our offices:

I need a break.
[at hindi pumasok ang tao on a workday]

‘Prolific’ is the word of the day.
[feelerette pa rin]

Nauubos na yung Ding Dong. Talaga namang nothing is forever.
[lasing ka na yata]

You are my trophy and trophies don’t talk.
[about handsome no-brain boyfriends]

At the end of the rainbow, there is a pot of bro’s.
[the beach is a sight to behold nga!]

Avant-garde pose tayo!
[at kailangan magmukhang matamlay na talangka tayo?]

Ayoko ng ma-repeat yung ‘Don’t say that’ line ko.
[winking at Mars, Pilipeh and Budjkins]

Risks are needed to complete the adventure.
[muntik ka ng malunod, leche!]

mandatory may nakatulog sa biyahe shot.

mandatory pre-Friendster heads up shot.

mandatory dalampasigan jump shot.

mandatory emo shot.

mandatory sunrise shot.

mandatory nakahiga circle of 'friends' shot.

mandatory nakatayo sa mga matutulis na bato shot.