Learning from two inuman

While I was in high school, I have this scroll hung up in my room: 

If we drink, we get drunk

If we get drunk, we fall asleep

If we fall asleep, we don’t sin

If we don’t sin, we go to heaven

So let’s all drink and go to heaven.

I never knew what it meant then (just like any other framed messages we once had) and I never knew that someday, it will be one of my favorite poems. I don’t know who put it up on my cabinet’s door: if I get the clue from the word drink, it might have been my older brother or father; if I get the clue from the last word, heaven, it could have been my mother. Whoever it was, I owe you one.

***

Yesterday, I had another drinking session in my wife’s place in Batangas. I was with the usual suspects, my brother in-laws. The session went on as predictable as it always was – bottle of beer, pitcher, tagay glass, pulutan (finger foods) and stories that goes along with all of it. Everything went perfectly well as if a script was followed but not until before everyone called it a night. One of my in-laws suddenly said, “Cris, sensya ka na, lagi kaming ganito, maingay…at pansin ko tahimik ka lang lagi (I apologize, if we are always like this, noisy, but this is just the way we are…and by the way, I always notice that you don’t speak up a lot).” It was a drunken remark, but I smiled back and answered nevertheless.

Kuya, ok lang sa akin, sa totoo lang gusto ko lagi nakikinig sa usapan kasi natututo ako (It’s okay, in fact, I like listening to such conversations as I always learn from it),” was my reply, drunken as well, but well meant. It is every time that I get the chance to join them in their inuman (drinking) sessions that I get to know them better and especially how they live their everyday lives; that no matter how humble it is, they seem to be contented at the end of each day. More so, I always secretly admire how some of them, married and with kids, and with just enough income still manages to make both ends meet. All these interactions make me put myself in their shoes, sober or not, and ask myself, “kaya ko ba maging katulad nila (can I be just like them)?”

Well, until now, I can’t seem to honestly answer that, although I hope I will, soon enough, with a confident yes. I know it’s a tall order for me to adjust to that level of contentment, but I think I need to before it’s too late. They say that man is never contented, but with each drinking session I spend with my in-laws I really beg to disagree because if there’s someone I’m so envy at right now, it’s not the rich but it’s the contented. Cheers to that.

***

I had another drinking session just last Tuesday but this time it’s just the complete opposite of the Batangas setting in so many ways. I was with several perfect strangers, classy place and perfect ambiance with free good food and beer. I was in Rockwell Club Makati.

What’s more interesting about that session was that it’s a class activity wherein we were allowed by our professor to stay with our group, have dinner outside the campus but with just a couple of conditions: discuss our life book among our group mates and just come back sober.

I was with a diverse group made up of a military major, someone close to the Manila mayor, a Chinese expat, a BPO personnel (who sponsored the free dinner) and a bum – well, that would be me. It was quite an interesting exchange that although there’s an obvious difference between one another’s story each was able to somehow relate to it – the struggles, the challenges, new experiences, having connections, etc. (It was during the class wrap up that we all learned what was common – Feelings. Simple yet, very well true).

An hour and a half later we were back to the classroom with me following our professor’s first condition but violating the first. Hahaha. Isn’t MBA fun?

 

 

(Posted from Sn. Vicente, Batangas)

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

 

 

 

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Learning from Bob Parson

I slept early last night because I had one bottle of beer to go with a pizza and a bit of pasta in Pizza Hut with my wife and baby. It’s been quite some time since we ate at this pizza shop due to several reasons and one of it of course is for austerity measures sake. And with my body getting used to having brandy in the evening, which is supposed to be stronger than beer, was surprised (or more likely delighted) when some malt and yeast brew entered its system – thus, the untimely drowsiness.

Anyway, I woke up very early once again after my body clock sensed that I’ve already had 6 hours of sleep and was probably reminding me that I skipped my online session last night. Well, just like how my wife reminds me if I’m done with my surfing, followed by a smirk on her face.

While feeling lazy, sleepy and clicking aimlessly on anything with a hyperlink, I was directed from WordPress.org to one of its suggested webhost and then finally to Godaddy.com’s blog. Upon reaching it, I looked for their FAQs but then again my disobedient mouse led me to the rightmost corner of the site with the following info:

Bob’s 16 Rules:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone.
2. Never give up.
3. When you are ready to quit, you’re closer than you think.
4. Accept the worst possible outcome.
5. Focus on what you want to have happen.
6. Take things a day at a time.
7. Always be moving forward.
8. Be quick to decide.
9. Measure everything of significance.
10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate.
11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing.
12. Never let anybody push you around.
13. Never expect life to be fair.
14. Solve your own problems.
15. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
16. There’s always a reason to smile.

 

Once, my stubbornness and resistance to advice has made me a not-so-fan of self-help books including personal rules. But for a couple of years now I have opened my mind to read, listen and at least learn something out of it especially those coming from successful people who have walked the talk like this founder and CEO of GoDaddy.com. And after reading his 16 rules I can’t help but agree to all of it – my favorites however are rule numbers 6, 7, 13 and 16. You go Daddy!

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

F*** You

Be calm.No need to censor. But I’m trying not to say this dreaded F word – FATS; because right now I’m facing a tough problem. Tougher than the impending unemployment and tougher than facing an unending oil price hike. It has something to do with my weight. And the horrifying number is Seventy pounds. That’s how heavy I am right now. And that’s seven pounds more than my required weight.

In gym lingo I’ve reached the hated plateau. It’s no matter how much I do the tread mills, do weight training and perform hopeless crunch and abs work out, my body just got bored with these routines. And like an employer running out of manpower, my body has posted a vacancy sign outside its doorstep. It’s accepting fats and calories like Vietnam is accepting all the multinational companies.

I know I can’t do anything about Vietnam but I’m sure I can do something about this weight. A battle must take place though to achieve once again my ideal weight as I don’t find it amusing anymore seeing our bathroom scale displaying a value higher than the last time I stepped on it. So instead of crying over spilled beer…I mean milk, I’d like to write about this new weight goal so I can get back to it soon and feel good about losing – weight, that is.

For me to be back on track, a re-assessment has to be done like anything that has gone awry or in this case what I’d call SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fat’s Up. Got to go back to monitoring what I eat and when I eat. I have to say goodbye to Jollibee breakfast, goodbye to Burger King Whopper, goodbye to heavy dinner, goodbye to beer…ooopps, let me recall the latter.

As part of my reflection, I’m wondering what I have done recently that made me accumulate such weight. So let me focus at least on this past week’s activity.

Monday. As scheduled, I played badminton with a couple of colleagues. Although known as the fastest game and tagged by some as a good cardiovascular workout, I find this game as a false sense of exercise to complement a diet.  Why? Normally, the heart-pounding and blood-pumping game for the whole day will bring us to a fast food restaurant to recover what we skipped during lunch. This last game, we found ourselves eating spaghetti and having a couple of beer in The Old Spaghetti House.

Fats – 1. Diet – 0.

Sunday. I was in Batangas with wifey to attend a birthday and a farewell party. The Red Ribbon chocolate cake and the predictable spaghetti were there and were looking mouth-watering as ever. I must have blacked out in front of the table but I found my stomach bulging and my lips colored brown and red.

Fats – 2. Diet – 0.

Saturday.  Finally, I attended my first TUP-V summer outing after several postponed dates with my batch mates. So right after a hard day’s work (at least I believe so), I find myself worthy of rewarding myself with good food and good company.  Without wasting time, I excitedly drove my way from Cavite to Sta. Rosa Laguna; and a hundred wrong turns  and a couple of hours later (thanks to the perfect map), I eventually located Dictado Resort where most of the attendees also got lost which is probably the reason why the program started late. Despite the exhausting drive it was fulfilling to meet long lost friends, schoolmates and other new alumni. It was also nice seeing some of the faces behind the aliases in the Tup-Vian’s yahoogroups. It was a “tagalog-free” night and it was like being home in Bacolod with everyone around speaking Ilonggo.  The feeling of nostalgia is of course never complete without guess what? Beer. Lots of it. Ti abi.

Fats – 3. Diet 0.

Friday. Coming from work, I picked my wife at home and went back to SM to watch the most anticipated movie of this year – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I don’t know if the peanuts we brought inside was responsible for my calorie pile up that night OR was it the film being the MOST boring (sorry, I can’t help but emphasize) Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg film I’ve ever seen – it was so boring, my metabolism almost stopped working.  If I haven’t seen any of their previous works, I could have included them in my “never-to-watch-films” list. Watching Indiana Jones is like watching a chopsuey of films such as X-files, Tomb Raider, Alien vs. Predator, Armageddon all rolled into one. And that’s not a compliment either.  Anyway, peanuts or this B-movie film, Fats – 4. Diet – 0.

Thursday. Failing to bring home something to eat after my shift ended, I asked my wife for a dinner at the nearby David’s Tea House. Meal was picked to have the least calorie content that we can think of. I ended consuming the dumplings that my wife did not eat. By the way, did I mention I had beer that night? Well, I did.

Fats – 5. Diet – 0.

As much as I’d like to add more days in this list, it’s becoming more obvious that my Diet is losing the battle. I can imagine a fictional referee raising the Fats’ hands after winning the unanimous decision for the 5-rounder battle. But the fight is not yet over, my Diet is calling for a rematch and I’m making sure we will win next time.

Beer and Gym

Golf for Me?

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Leader’s Dilemma

I was in a Leadership Enhancement Program yesterday and from start until the end of the whole session, this notice was projected along with the MS Powerpoint presentations. “The lamp has reached the end of its usable life. Please replace the lamp.”

Ti abi. Has our company ventured into subliminal messages to condition our mind? Is there a deeper meaning in that message? Well, it’s for us to find out I guess.

Anyway, I find the parts of the session disturbing, alarming and often times interesting.

During the first half we had a segment with an American and I was quite surprised when he frankly butted in while someone was trying to highlight a point by saying “…I think this is a cultural thing with us Filipinos…”

The expat answered, “Actually, it’s not just you Filipinos who have this problem…” That one rescued me from my developing daydream. (Started to feel proud? Still no.)

What was being discussed then was about taking full responsibility when problems arise. I guess he hit the nail on the head with that answer. I learned from him that even other people from other culture (among our multinational network) would instinctively point their fingers to others to save face. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m always awed when Japanese (mostly feudal period) would commit hara-kiri when they know that they are a dishonor to their family or organization. Bloody, yet graceful exit. Come to think of it, isn’t it time we include a tantō inside our factory? Most likely it will stay pristine.

Another part of the program that amazes me most was when all of us were grouped into seven. Each team was to gather from each members their idea of a strong leader and then for each group to create a hypothetical person bearing those ideal characters.

After several minutes of brainstorming and discussion, the result was stunning. The common thing that most members (i.e., in each group) want is a leader who is a firm and tough individual. I almost blurted, “…but we have that one here in our organization!…”

I find that result both interesting and sad. It’s like a reflection of what most of us currently do inside and outside of our offices.

We want a leader who is firm and tough, yet we get offended when he takes over.

We want great roads and infrastructures, yet we don’t pay our taxes completely.

We want a clean surrounding, yet we spit and throw our trashes anywhere.

We want road courtesy, yet we drive just like how the other damn drivers drive.

We want health, yet we fail to do something about it.

We want jobs, yet we don’t do it properly.

Every thing we do on a daily basis, basic or complex, entails responsibility. Most of the times we need to make a conscious effort to do it well so that at the end of the day we get to go home, kiss our wife (and kids), have a beer, go to bed and say to the lord, “Today, I was honest and good.”

Day 4 (Chow Kit & The Monkeys)

Just RM8.0 away (via teksi) from our hotel is Chow Kit. This is where the overwhelming modern urban KL seems to soften a bit. This area is just the ordinary wet market where one would find cheap produce, meat (unfortunately, if you’re looking for pork, this is not the place). Filipinos like us will surely find ingredients to cook our favorite adobo.

What makes this place great though, is that the people here are good and nice to talk and deal with. One store even gave us free chicken asses (or what they call tongking. At least it’s what it sounds to me) when they saw me got a bit surprised that it was separated together with the head (they said that both are sold separately and mostly cooked as kebab) from the poultry we bought. I’m an ilonggo you know, so I love these asses (no pun intended). Back home we call it isol. Yummy!

After buying all the ingredients that we need and after we decided to buy a box of mineral water (beer is expensive, but so is water in KL) which surprisingly kuya Noel gladly agreed to carry on his shoulder, we hurriedly went back home. It’s time for our 1st home-cooked meal. And time to exploit the nice kitchen at the hotel.


The hearty lunch of fried fish (which left the whole room smelling fishy for the next few days), adobo and ampalaya with coconut milk which the whole group cooked (except me. I’m just the dishwasher) got us into lazy mode. So there’s no other activity to match that but to monkey around. Literally.

We discovered that just right outside and below our room’s balcony is a rich monkey habitat. We spent almost several hours just observing them and at some point offered banana slices which they eagerly took and ate. They’re not alone though in these trees and foliage. There were also squirrels and some endemic birds gliding back and forth along the branches.

By nighttime, we decided to go back to Petaling Street. The decision was worth it.


Chinatown was busier than it was in the morning. It was more beautiful and colorful as well. The red rounded Chinese lanterns dominating the area and the neon signs glowing with Chinese characters made me feel like I was in one Travel Channel or Adventure movie scene. This time however, I’m not. I’m really at the scene. The sight of beer drinkers (mostly expats) in front of the restaurants added the sense of delight…and thirst. I keep reminding myself though, “that beer is expensive”. So I grabbed my beers instead from the nearest 7-11 store.

My shopping-addicted companions finished with their haggling just on time for them to accompany me to buy a 1GB Sony memory stick at a mall before it closes. We’ll need that memory size tomorrow.

Next: Day 5 (Taman Tasik Perdana)

Reunions in Bacolod

“In vino veritas” – anonymous

Last time, I wrote about the degrading condition of Bacolod city with regards to some taxi drivers’ misdemeanor, street cleanliness, traffic congestion and concrete roads that seems to get back to the ages where ruts are a norm due to the number of carriages that passes through it. Well, all still seems to be true in every place I’ve been lately. And this is just within the confines of the city where I live in.

I’ve come realize though that these are not the reasons why I still like to come here as often as time and money would permit – normally both happens every December. Well, I kept on coming back for the people I’ve known for years. I’ve kept coming back for my parents and family, for my classmates and friends – whoever is still here and haven’t left Bacolod to work (some left to permanently stay abroad for good).

From the time we arrived from Manila and within just one week, the calls for reunion – or more likely called, an invitation to drink – poured in through SMS.

The first one was with my IP brods. These are classmates and friends in college. I was one of the founding members of this informal group. IP stands for Iota Pi or International Playboy. I was clueless though where we got this name. Or just like any rock bands today, it was taken on the spur of the moment from one of our drunken misadventures with the aide of Red Horse or San Miguel beers, Toska Vodkas, Ginebra Gin or a mixture of all of the above.

Unlike our college years, this time we just now drank in moderation (ahem). We are just happy enough to spend some time reminiscing and checking what everyone’s been doing lately. Surprisingly, we ended the session early. If this was done more than 10 years ago, it would have been over by the wee hours of the morning and we would be going home reeking of alcohol and some other smell that we might have got in the process.

The second reunion was with my high school peers (batch ’90 SJHS). I’ve never expected that this year I’ll be attending a General Homecoming instead of the usual annual batch reunion. With Melvin and his wife, we arrived at St. Joseph’s High School – La Salle – it used to be just SJHS. No La-Salle – by 2pm despite the heavy downpour (it’s been raining for days since we’ve arrived). From the moment we entered the gate, the familiar faces bring back memories and stirred some confusion. I know some names but forgot the face (due to change in appearance) and some is the other way around – knew the face but forgot the name.

Registration was a breeze. So right after it, we wasted no time and went to tour the school’s ground. Most of the buildings are still there. Some of our 2nd and 4th year classrooms have been changed to a school chapel. The pavilion and former canteen is now nowhere to be found as it has been merged into a bigger activity center (Oscar Hilado Civic Center). Part of the football field has been consumed by this new building too.

At the rear part of the campus, our Library, Practical Arts Room (San Lorenzo Ruiz Building), and Home Economics building still stands. Some new structures already annexed the area beside the periphery fence.

Just like a trained bloodhound, I was so delighted to see the familiar beer bottle. Right behind the civic center is the new canteen where just for this event beers are sold. Some guys from the batches ahead of us were already drinking. At last, after 20 years, this is my first time to drink booze legally inside the SJHS campus – we used to smuggle alcohol before to satisfy our curiosity. Ti abi. Were we alcoholics in the making then?

Our batch’s attendance reached to almost 20 by the time dinner was served. Our allocated table was filled with smiling faces, exchanging news and pleasantries most of the time. The free dinner (supposedly for a fee during registration) was fairly good. It is also worth noting that most of our teachers are still there (some just paid a visit).

There’s Mr. Leon Sales whom I won’t forget for it is through him that I learned to touch-type fast enough (to the surprise of most people). There’s Mr. Baldomero who was our 1st year moderator and who introduced us the native yoyo called “El Diablo” (I don’t know if this is the real name) where an hour glass-type carved wood is balanced between a string held by both hands. Ms. Logrunio, Ms. Lupo, Mr. Lariza and our “psychic” Filipino teacher, Mr. Mahigne were also there. Then there’s Mr. Dante Amaguin who arrived late but nonetheless still got our attention with his magic tricks. He was our 4th year class adviser.

The enjoyable night was interrupted due to a problem of one of batchmate’s car. But that’s another story. I might write about it once I got time to kill.

I’m just now glad to be part of this series of reunions. It is always nice to see friends still in good condition, good health, successful in their respective careers or just plainly contented to just be still here in our hometown and yet survive (I actually find them lucky. I even envy them).

Time always flies. So before I know it, I will be here again back for another Reunion in Bacolod.