Corrupts Absolutely

As we go up the ladder of success, changes are inevitable.

You of course get a higher (if not better) pay, your responsibilities increase, and for most, you get new people who work under your supervision.

While a promotion or a step up the ladder is good news for most, there are also changes in the dynamics of people who used to be just within your same level.

If some people play their cards right, they would slowly gain the respect that is incumbent in the position, if they are wise enough their staff will almost always defer to their decision-making skills, and if they are smart enough they will almost always be on top of their game. A person emulated, admired, and respected.

But sometimes, people lose track and balance. In the attempt at getting better at work or coming up with decisions (hard, trivial or otherwise) some relationships are eventually strained. On the other hand, a boss who focuses more on maintaining the good relationship from former colleagues end up trying too hard in remaining friends, with decisions affecting friends clouding their judgment.  Either way, it is the staff that is usually at the losing end of the bargain. A helpless pawn.

But eventually, everyone loses.

Weekend! Yey!

I especially enjoy the weekend, as most of you would, because of the relative peace and quiet.

Of course a downside is that some of my neighbors opt to play their music systems a little louder than what I would prefer. And Celine Dion! Ugh.

Mom is giving the dog a bath. So cute. Yes I live with my mom, for my non-Filipino/Asian readers this is pretty common in this part of the world, parents living with their children even they get to be really really old.

Part of my weekend is also shared with H, as this is the only time that we can really be together. I am so looking forward to swim this weekend and fix my breaststroke. For those who still don’t know who H is, back read please.

Hope you have a great weekend guys!

Random musings: A date, japanese fauxsion, and foodstagram

Today H and I went out for a date after a looooong long while. It was nothing fancy, just something that we do after work, letting time pass by, waiting for the rush hour to ease.

I appreciate times like these with H. When we are the office we tend to be really professional and stiff. There used to be a time that we were super careful in even making small PDAs, as we felt that being officemates and lovers would be an issue. It probably still is, but we care about it less now than we used to.

Though that may have eased, still we can never be as relaxed as when it is just the two of us. We were having so much fun chatting that we didn’t even instagram our food! (Sidebar: Sumosam should really think about reinventing their Japanese Carbonara. It succeeds as regular carbonara, but mixing in shrimp tempura doesn’t make it japanese fusion, just sayin’)

Which is why we didn’t bother to take photos of the food for the ‘requisite’ instagram post. Its not really fusion but more of faux-sion (fake fusion? Hehe).

Speaking of which, I personally feel foodstagramming really ruins the dining experience, especially when you are out with your loved ones. Imagine wasting your time taking photos, tagging, and sending them out to the social media platform when the time could have been used to just talk, catch up on some chika, and just being there to enjoy the moment.

Okay, enough of my random musings. How did you spend your day today?

Iskolar Than You. Overreacting than you.

I find it funny how an online debate has sparked out of the “Iskolar Than You” freshie t-shirts being sold by UP’s Circle of Entrepreneurs.

Granting it’s a little bit arrogant (just a little, mind you), but as a former Isko of PLM and UP, I take pride with the education I got from these fine institutions. I am proud to say that the taxpayers’ money have been put to good use.

That being said, I also believe that it is not enough for iskolars, UP or otherwise, to just take pride in their scholarships through these merchandises. They can do much better. The true test of being a worthy isko or iska is to be a good citizen of this nation, to contribute to its growth, and to lead lives that are worth emulating. A cooler Isko or iska is worth more than a fancy statement shirt.

So what do you think of the “Iskolar Than You” shirt? Cool? Uncool? Meh? Or are people just overreacting, again?

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The statement shirts. Kinda cute (I was referring to the mestizo guy in the middle).

Thy Womb: A Rare Digital Gem in a sea of Celluloid Garbage

I started my year quite right by watching the only movie worth watching in the MMFF, ‘Thy Womb’, which is of course starred by the only superstar, Nora Aunor, and directed by Brilliante Mendoza, both winners of international festivals where this movie was showcased.

I tried recalling if I have ever watched any movie of La Aunor in a moviehouse and I realized that this is only the 2nd that I did, the first being Flor Contemplacion.

H and I have read numerous reviews of the movie and the generally positive review has convinced me to watch the movie. Several online searches revealed that Thy Womb is only shown to at most 10 cinemas in the Metro, fortunately with the one being very near my workplace.

The movie tells the story of a Badjao couple, Shaleha (Aunor) and her husband Bangas-an, played by the equally great Bembol Roco. Despite their advanced age the couple have failed to have children. Shaleha, a traditional birth attendant, has to be reminded constantly of her own failure of bearing a child by keeping the umbilical cords of the babies she delivered, hanging them by a special corner of their house, a small shanty on the Badjao Village in Bongao, Tawi-tawi.

The frustration and desire for a child has led to Bangas-an to convince her wife that he should take on a second wife, (later played by a bland Lovi Poe) a tradition accepted in the Muslim faith. Shaleha, loyal and loving wife, has no choice but to agree, and starts on a quest to find the wife for her husband.

The next scenes reveal to the audience the simple yet complex Badjao-Muslim tradition and way of life, of  how the people can be poor and yet manage to pool money for dowries worth hundreds of thousands, of the the lavish ceremonies celebrated despite gunfires shooting from a distance, of lives flourishing despite odds and conflicts.  Mendoza, in his style of story-telling that makes you think you are watching a documentary instead of a feature film, gives the audience a glimpse of the life in the islands. Its beauty against poverty. We see the juxtaposition of the catholic chapel and the muslim mosque, reminding us that in these islands, christianity is a weakened, ignored force. The picturesque, wide-angled shots of the Tawi-tawi landscape and the sea reminds us of its pristine beauty but then we are also subtly reminded of the conflicts; of pirates stealing even meager pieces of fish caught by Shaleha and bangas-an, of military personnel chasing unseen bandits.

This style went on for most part of the film. While H and I couldn’t complain, I could imagine other viewers exasperated to the point of being bored. I can’t blame them if they’ve been waiting for some action to happen. The only conflict, revealed by Mersila, Lovi Poe’s character, is simple yet it would turn the old couple’s life around. Mendoza, however, has prepared his audience for this moment.  We no longer question the logic of their tradition. We only eagerly await what happens next.

But the brilliant (pun intended) Mendoza did not craft some run-of-the mill drama of wives and mistresses.  You will not see ‘sampalan’ anyhere in this film. You may question how the arresting beauty of Mersila would accept a wedding with an aging Bangas-an but as she reveals her ‘requirement’ for the wedding to continue, her beauty and desirability made sense. The next few seconds after the reveal managed to be gut-wrenchingly painful by the mere sight of Nora Aunor’s eye-acting.

Ah, Nora’s eyes. She may have lost all the glamour, she may have aged and botched her plastic surgery which affected her golden voice (a mystery if you ask me), but those eyes could tell everything inside Shaleha’s conflicted heart. The satisfaction of a completed task, the happiness in holding a new-born and the subsequent desire to have it for her own, the confusion, pain and acceptance rolled into one expression when she realized that what she found for her husband would be worth more than the 150 thousand peso dowry and their married life. No words, just those amazing eyes.

I would have preferred a more dramatic ending to the story. Just a few seconds longer would have made a huge difference, but in Brilliante Mendoza’s mind, the ending where exchanged looks said everything, I should no longer complain.

The Big Bad Blogger is…

Me! Yes! I am the Big Bad Blogger! Buwahahahaha!!!! *insert flames and lightning here*

Yeah right. I wish this blog has been that active and that controversial. It’s been a year or so since I attended a blog event, and even longer than that when I visited a restaurant organized by someone so that we can have reviews of the place.

Organized blogger events can be tricky.  As a blogger you feel that you have your reputation to protect since no one is there to protect or castigate you (an editor). But a part of you wants to please the owner since he thought about you and gave you something in return (food, for example).  I admit some of my posts from these blog events were slightly leaned towards pleasing the “client” of the organizer.  Yes I would put some “not so good” points there but generally it is more to “promote” the venue.  So typically pinoy, the hiya and utang na loob.

Anyway, after the initial organized blogger events, I still got invited to other events, but seeing that these events were not even my cup of tea, or outright promoting a product or a person, I just declined.  I have been struggling for years to bring focus to my blogging, and these events promoting just about anything is not helping. Eventually the invites stopped.

I am not as active as I used to be, but this issue of the Big Bad Blogger is hitting home and is giving bloggers a bad name. There are still a lot of us out there who blog because we genuinely enjoy (or despise) a product, food or service. We are grateful if we are acknowledged for being “the blogger to invite” for events but at the end of the day, we still need to maintain whatever reputation that we have. And no freebie can compensate for that reputation that we tried so very hard to establish.

So bloggers who still get those freebies or get paid to post, if you get invited for an event, please think of your readers, and not just what’s in that goodie bag. You have not been paid for blogging for years, why should that change?  Get a real job if you want to get paid. 😛

Read the controversial Inquirer article of Margaux Salcedo here…

And Anton Diaz, of Our Awesome Planet, insinuated to be the BBB has this to say…

Just stop, and relax.

There were some trouble in my other world. I am not really sure how nasty it got. I might get a feel of the backlash within days. Maybe. Or maybe not.

The good thing is that we all went away for awhile. It just gave everyone a breather. Everyone got busy. Idle hands really are the devil’s workshop.

We just need to stop, relax and think. Maybe things have really gotten out of hand. From both sides.

Worst thing that could happen is that people would start to look for other worlds to move to.  Or we’d probably just stop expecting Christmas gifts.