Spiritual day: Christianity, Angels and Demons

 

Thursday. It has been years since I’ve been so spiritual and what makes it more odd is that it happened during a job application. No, it’s not because I prayed that I’d get hired – though I always do for every job application. But it’s because the fields and questions in the application form contained the most unlikely and unanticipated items. Other than the usual infos being required by most employers, this one has such things as: Who is Jesus Christ? How often do you pray? What do you think of the poor? Yes, you read it right. And No, I’m not applying to be a priest – do I hear sighs of relief?

I was at TSPI Development Corporation’s head office somewhere in Makati with its size that isn’t even half of my previous company’s canteen. In short, it’s small. But what lacks in size, it makes up with its mission. TSPI which stands for Tulay Sa Pag-unlad (Bridge to Development), Incorporated which is a non-profit, non-government organization (NGO) and a Christian value-oriented group and caters to helping the poor by integrating micro financing and individual transformation. This company has several offices all over Luzon and is now expanding to the rest of the country (they’re currently building a multi-story office just across their current humble location).

The first time I learned about TSPI was when I was with my family vacationing in Bolinao and while I was expecting SMS notices from companies that might have taken interest on my posted online resume. At first I thought that the text from TSPI was just a mistake because after I asked for its address, it didn’t reply back, well, not until two weeks after – last Tuesday. This time a contact person is indicated along with its address. That got me curious enough. In fact, that night I researched again but however I re-do the typing and clicking on the Internet Explorer’s search field, the results are all the same – it all lead me to TSPI.org’s website. It became apparent that it’s neither a semiconductor nor a call center company.

Although I find it weird after confirming it’s an NGO, it didn’t deter me from leaving home before six in the morning just to be at their office by 8 am as advised. I arrived 30 minutes earlier and soon after I was in one corner of their office along seated on a monobloc chair beside other applicants who try to answer the exam while at an ear shot from the ongoing office routines, employee discussions and what seems to be a staff meeting held in one of the low-walled cubicles. And while I sort of worry about the supervisor inquest exams I kept worrying more if I answered the previous religion-related essays. I wonder if not answering the field, “Do you have a life verse?” would have a significant impact.

Just like the last call center application, I got interviewed. But unlike it, the interview this time was more casual and also during this time I felt I got it in the bag. Unfortunately, the HR personnel said I will be assigned to the CALABARZON areas rather than in Makati which in the first place is the reason why I got interested in pursuing my application since it’s just a few minutes away from Ateneo Rockwell. So once again, my studies got in the way. Another opportunity cost (and loss?) for me to deal with. I was close but still no cigar.

***

The TSPI HR personnel was good enough to grant my request to adjust my application exam day to Thursday instead of the texted Wednesday. I requested it so I can make one trip to Makati to also meet my Managerial Accounting classmates for a group activity meeting in the afternoon.

I was out of TSPI before lunch time and that gave me so much gap until the planned 6 pm group meeting. And so despite the guilt that I’m killing time in the Power Plant mall while my wife and kid are probably bored to death inside our home in Cavite, I can’t help but give in to the call of the cinemas. I picked the movie Angels and Demons over Terminator Salvation.

Angels and Demons is one of the few movies which I’ve read the book before it became a film and this by far I have to say is the nearest to its paperback counterpart. Ron Howard did a very good job directing this movie almost by the book (pun intended). I find it so eerily close to how I imagined it during the time when I’m reading page after page of this great Dan Brown fiction (or not?). It was like my own imagination of the story has materialized to my own liking. I love how the CERN lab scenes (esp. the formation of the anti-matter), Camerlengo character depiction, Ambigrams, Rome statues and artifacts, conclave rituals and almost every thing written by the famous Da Vinci Code author came to life.

The main casts of this another controversial film were of course key to its success. As usual Tom Hanks is just perfect for his role as Robert Langdon and Ewan McGregor although appearing so unrealistically young did portray the role of the Camerlengo so well. Even the supporting actors, especially the Illuminati hit man, get my thumbs up. I just wished though that the movie could have shown more of the CERN scenes according to the book as it is where Ayelet Zurer (who played Vittoria Vetra) could have displayed more of her acting skills.

Of course the movie has some flaws like lousy special action force moves and Vatican crowd acting but then again these are very very minor and easily forgiven and forgotten especially when one gets so engrossed to the whole plot that’s filled with deception, mystery and fast-paced action. It’s like as if one is just about to say, “hey, that’s wrong…” and then the appearance of the branded ambigrams erases all criticism (behind tightly bitten lips) and gets one back on track thinking almost ahead of Langdon and wondering what might come next.

Now, I can’t wait to see if Ron Howard can do justice to Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress novel. I have a strong feeling though that he will.

 

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (cold and rainy outside)

 

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Of bad job interview and bad neighbors

 

I woke up today with a hope of a very good day but it just wasn’t meant to be I guess. I was supposed to bring my car to Makati for an exam in one of the companies I’m applying for. And one of the compelling reasons is just about being paranoid about the recent confirmation of an AH1N1 case here in the Philippines. The morning show on TV though answered my dilemma of bring the car or not. It said not – one part of the already confusing Makati streets is close for a celebration. Bad sign number one.

Anticipating worse traffic I was already on a bus by 6:30 am. Just a few minutes later it was jam-packed worse than sardines and worst, the person standing right behind me was coughing as if he’s the only one inside the bus – this is why I really would want to avoid public transport. But then again do I have the choice? A couple of hours and some sore butt later, I was already in Ayala avenue and true indeed, the jeepney terminal has a very long queue of mostly mean looking passengers. Bad sign number two.

Realizing that I still have more than an hour to spare, I decided to walk going to my destination as traffic then was at a crawling phase. Ganito nga sila sa Makati (This is how they are in Makati) – an irritating line of the info commercial which is clearly a plug for a presidential candidate. The nerve. The leather shoes I was wearing making the long (more than 2 km, if I’m not mistaken) walk tiring. The thick polo shirt plus a white t-shirt inside completing the torture.

More than thirty minutes of brisk walk later, I arrived ahead of time; more than enough for me to grab a quick McDonald’s hotcake; and still more than enough for me to get me back to the right elevator inside the PBCom tower. Soon enough, I was among the eTelecare hopefuls waiting in their comfy lobby – while trying to get the feel of who’s the closest competition. Hahaha. By past 10 am, the two part examination took place. I think I can confidently say that I aced it. I was among those few who passed. But wait.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared that the interview will be done past lunch – I was already hungry the moment I finished my exam by 11 because the view of the Krispy Kreme donut shop is right below me from the tower’s 12th floor. We were made to wait back in their lobby but it doesn’t feel cozy this time. My hunger and the strong air-conditioning making the anxiety worse. The interview didn’t happen not until 1 pm.

Good thing that the interview was quick. Bad thing is that my answer in the application sheet seems to have worked against me (although I expected it). I answered the question, “are you willing work on rotation?” with NO. Because I just really can’t especially now that I’m getting serious with my first two MBA subjects. So once again, I heard the ever familiar line, “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Bad sign number three.

I immediately walked out of the building with only one goal at that moment – grab some Krispy Kreme; and grab I did – I got an assorted dozen to go.

 

***

 

I arrived home by 3 pm and after having consumed 3 donuts while inside the bus. After a few chit chat with my waiting wifey and kid, I felt asleep. By 5 pm I woke up, eager to continue the attack on the Krispy Kreme, but this time with a well deserved hot coffee to go with it. And guess what, it wasn’t meant to be.

Just I was about to lean back on the couch and savor the steaming beverage, my good neighbor called out. He said he noticed that one of my car’s tires is completely flat. I got out, feeling bad about not having finished the coffee in the mug. The moment I saw the tire, I already had a bad gut feel about it. I changed it with the spare tire and headed to the nearest true vulcanizing shop. My hunch was right – its sidewall was intentionally punctured. Damn. Several things were already running inside my head. Bad sign number four.

After leaving the tire shop, I went straight to the Dasma police station to have the incident blottered because this time this isn’t just a mere malicious scratch which I had observed to appear every morning since the day I got into trouble with some of the board members in my intent to unify them. What makes me really feel bad is that it’s been months already after I resigned (trying to stay away from the worsening relationship) and until know some of the people here in our village still would like to make their views heard, sadly, through an unfair and cheap act – puncturing my car’s tire. Although, I have other thoughts why they did it. Hope I’m wrong.

I’ve already seek the help of some of my immediate neighbors and I’m just really hoping that the incident won’t happen again – and that whoever did this will come up and face me instead to talk about whatever they have against me. But until then, I just consider them cowards who would rather poke a defenseless tire. It’s bad, but the truth is, there are just some people who are worse than the poor butt hole.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. Hopefully, tomorrow, I’ll savor the remaining Krispy Kremes. Hopefully…

 

 Mood: 6/10 Honks!

One drinking session and Two phone calls later

 

Last Saturday was the one of those days that everything that has happened are in my favor. By lunch time we were in San Miguel, Batangas to attend the town fiesta at my in-laws’ place. And as usual the variety of fiesta foods were once again overwhelming and as usual, the promise to be on a diet has to be sidestepped – both to my delight and guilt.

Of course, fiestas here are never without a drinking session and this time, I’m all for it with only the thought of doing the tagay (a practice of passing drink to everyone around the table using only one glass) holding me back. But the gloomy and the scattered rain showers made the setting even more perfect and justifiable; and with the overused dialogue, “malamig eh, painit tayo, tara na inom (it’s cold, let’s get warm by drinking)” making the alcohol intake a definite go.

As expected the drinking session went on like an ever familiar routine: an ice-filled pitcher is filled with beer; a tanggero (one who distributes the tagay) religiously passing the drinks to one drinker at a time; and of course my favorite, other than having the beer, is eating the pulutan (finger foods) which is normally pork in any form. And among the pulutan that day was dinakdakan (recipe originally from Ilocos) which is made of pork meat, pork brain, spices and coconut milk. Yes it’s cholesterol-filled, but then again it’s one of life’s guilty pleasures.

My alcohol binge however was abruptly disturbed by two separate calls. The first one was from our time sharing company – RCI — and although the agent sounded a little bit apologetic for the news she’s about to deliver, I on the other end of the line was glad that there might be some cancellation on our resort reservation which my wife and I discussed a day before to delay just so I can attend my first two MBA classes in Ateneo (I didn’t know that it will start this May instead of June). The resort in Bolinao didn’t give any commitment yet if when they’ll be able to fix what was affected by the tropical storm Emong but I’m OK with the delay nevertheless.

A few hours and several rounds of tagay later came the most welcomed call. It was a phone interview from a call center company I’m applying for. I don’t know my alcohol level at that time, but if my judgment serves me right, I was at least within driving tolerance – I was thinking then that if I can drive sanely, then most likely I can accommodate and answer the phone interview and hopefully, pass. Well, several spoken English later, I was right. I was given an invitation for a written examination somewhere in one of the towers in Makati next week. If only personal job interviews can be done while under the influence of alcohol, I think I’ll be hired. Hahaha.

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

Definitely not SSDD

One of the movies that influenced my life somehow, just a bit somehow was Dreamcatcher. I actually read the book (my wife gave it to me as a gift) first before I was compelled to look for its VCD (no “original” DVD yet that time). Other than the fantastic plot, story line, setting and characters, I love the word that it introduced me – SSDD. Same Sh#t Different Day.

You see most days lately have been SSDD. No choice, but its been like it. Work. Home. Work. Home. Off. Play. Mall. Those things even done in pleasure becomes SSDD, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong though, as sometimes I’d just utter SSDD just for the love of saying it.

July 20, Friday, wasn’t meant to be.

10AM. After waking up late and a brunch meal at home, I was on my way to work. Driving my car for a quick trip so I could be on time for my 11AM interview. This has been one of the much-awaited moments in my career. Just another chance to step up. Hopefully. Fingers-crossed.

And just along the way, I was repeating on my head over and over again the answer to the question, “How do you deal with difficult people?” You see I dreaded this question, the last time I was asked this on an interview, I fumbled. I failed.

The interview came late but I think I did fine. The dreaded question didn’t came. Whew! And For the delight of it, I got my wife and I a to go lunch from Tokyo Tokyo on my way back home. Japanese food to go please. Namit.

Past 7PM. This was supposed to be a routine one. I was doing the weekly cleanup of our hamster’s habitat. I was almost done re-assembling his trails and he was the usual jumpy rodent eager to check it out. Surprisingly on his way out in the middle of the trails, he sled and looked stunned while resting on top of the stopover point – called the space explorer.

So I grabbed and raised him to see what went wrong. Once I laid him down though, my wife saw that he was panting, breathing heavily and just laid still. Oh oh.

I once again lifted him up and checked for pulse. There was none. My wife tried her luck. It didn’t work either. Hollie was gone. It was heartbreaking for us. I did shed a tear (It’s funny how a small creature can mean so much) while I was completing the whole trail. It’s empty now. No more running & cage biting noise for days to come. He was 2 years and more than a month old.

Past 8PM. Hating to leave home with just the recent event, I pushed myself to take a bath, get dressed and am on my way to a co-worker’s house. It’s his farewell party. He’ll be leaving for abroad by Monday to work at another company. It’s been like this at work. People leaving. Those left behind enjoying the party (farewell) while it last. And probably be leaving also anytime soon.

Well, that’s life. Sometimes it’s just the same things going over and over again. Sometimes new things come (and go). And often times I’d wish that it wouldn’t just be SSDD.

D-Day: Job Interview

“Those who failed to prepare, should be prepared to fail” – (anonymous)

By coincidence, these words popped up on the noontime TV game show that my wife was watching yesterday, a day after my doomed job interview.

The new job adventure started out of curiosity and boredom on one good Sunday morning while we were browsing through the newspapers. The ads states “40minutes pre-qualifying assessment”. It’s from a call center agency (which later on I’ll learn that it’s actually a newly established call center).

If I remember it right, it was this year that I’ve started hearing all about this job employment. It has been the hope of most people seeking local employment, as most Filipino are still speaking fluent English than its Asian neighbors. At least for now. And just like any other things there is both the good side & bad side of it. The good: It is high paying. The bad: It is routine, and so therefore, immediately I conclude as boring.

Human as I am, the good part attracted me into it immediately. Although I know, deep inside that I’m not the type of person to handle phone calls easily, not to mention complaints from the other end of the line. That would be like challenging me to answer my own complaints over the phone. Most likely, “me” would have some long talks and argument with “myself”.

Anyway, on that sunny Sunday, I did took the 40minute assessment both over the phone & online. Proudly, I aced it. From that moment on, It felt like I’d be on my way to the call center business. A couple of days later I received a call telling me of the scheduled interview, which would be a week later.

D-day came and with my wife, we went on early to the place as instructed. This is when things would get topsy turvy.

We took the wrong way. We were supposed to take the shorter route (and with less traffic) but instead got stuck in traffic, thus missing the exit. But at this time, my spirit is still high as we still have the pleasure of time.

Next, a traffic enforcer flagged us down and he was claiming that I did a swerving violation. At this point I was praying to God to show me a sign that this job interview is still for me. Well, the enforcer was kind enough to give me a verbal warning and let us go in a jiffy.

Soon after we reached our destiny ahead of time. At least, we thought so. We were already sitting in a pizza restaurant and were waiting for our orders, when my wife asked if I’m quiet sure that we are in the right place. To confirm, I checked the notepad that I had in my portfolio & there it was. Scribbled on it was another address. Damn. I can almost remember the Amazing race desperate scenes on TV.

Once we got our orders, we had it packed to go and headed straight to the parking lot and to the right place. By this time, I was almost into giving up. And again, prayed that if it this is for me, then I should supposed to arrive on time. Good thing, there are still good people around and helped us find our way. The odds are high.

Thirty minutes ahead of the scheduled interview, we arrived at the office. I had to skip lunch and had coffee and smints instead.

My wife left me with 7 other applicants for that position (she waited & kept herself occupied in the mall). I was surprised to learn that there will be further exams prior to the interview proper. So with empty stomach but with full spirit, I took it.

The exams were actually easy. Most of it was English proficiency and a little math. The exam is timed.
The interview came and then the expected question came. “How do you deal with difficult people?”. If there was a camera inside that room, I knew, one would find me almost bursting into sweat just to answer it. It was not my forte. And I wasn’t prepared to answer it well.

There it goes. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” That was the last line I heard, and I’ve read that whenever it is mentioned after an interview, one can expect no call at all.

Although I still have my current job with me, this event tells me everything I’ve got to know. It’s been 10 years since I’ve applied for one & got accepted, and it may have given me the false confidence that I’ll be passing this one. I was wrong. Next time, I’ll come prepared.

Driving home, I was eating the lunch that I missed while stuck on traffic. It was a Charlie Chan pasta. I was disappointed but
that not really down. Still got my job. Still got my wife.

I was humbled.