Waiting

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waiting-in-vainThe only time you can use the term “wait in vain” is if it is in the past tense. Technically, you can only know that you waited in vain when you are finally sure that your long wait did not result in your desired outcome. The longer and more agonizing the wait, the more “in vain” your wait feels when you know the outcome afterwards.

So technically, you cannot be both certain and not stupid when you make the statement, “I am waiting in vain.” Either you know it with a hundred percent certainty or you don’t. If you do know it, then you are no longer waiting. You can say, “I have waited in vain.” If you are still waiting even when you already do know it, what are you waiting for? It’s definitely not the result.

But people often say that. My guess is they mean it with uncertainty, often with fear of the results being not what they desired, in which case they should feel free to say, “I may be waiting in vain.” If you feel that your chances of getting what you’re waiting for are deteriorating, you might as well maintain your optimism–or even just your objectivity–by describing your current position correctly.

“I waited in vain” or “I have waited in vain.” Just those two.

Oh, Babe…

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“And so it was, that in all the celebration, in all the hubbub of noise and excitement, there were two figures who stood silent and still, side by side.

“And though every single human in the stands or in the commentary boxes was at a complete loss for words, the man, who in his life had uttered fewer words than any of them, knew exactly what to say.”

Babe

– Babe (1995)

Four college poems

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WAS BROWSING through college files I burned into CDs when I found drafts of poems I intended to submit to Heights but did not. I always kept a pocket notebook with me during those days, I remember, upon which I scribbled my own verses whenever inspiration struck. I selected these four, and typed them into the format required by the college literary publication. I couldn’t believe I wrote these drafts after reading them tonight. And I couldn’t help but cry. I’ve gained so much and lost so much. I’ve changed. I know my present self couldn’t have written these lines, mere attempts at poetry though they were. There is something fiery and wide-eyed and adamant in them that bursts from the free flow. Why I did not submit them, I do not remember. Nor do I recall how I was able to write them. But reading them reminded me that the unique series of choices that I and I alone have made spelled the difference between who I was six years ago and who I am now. And that spurs hope, because the same should spell the difference between who I am now and who I will be.

~

Atlas Shrugged: On Sacrifice

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Atlas Shrugged CoverATLAS SHRUGGED is a book of immense proportions that has shifted my thinking significantly. In the way I assess a situation, perceive a person’s value, and choose an action, now, the first lens and yardstick that I use is the book’s philosophy. Existence exists. A morality of reason. I am, therefore I’ll think.

The chapter “This is John Galt speaking” dismantles and molds that big, solid ball of ideas. John Galt spoke for 58 pages. I listened for four nights. I realized that we use many big words without enough caution or understanding. One of them is sacrifice, which from now on I would not be too careless to utter. Below is the excerpt which has redefined my understanding of the word:

‘Sacrifice’ does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. ‘Sacrifice’ does not mean the rejection of the evil for the for the sake of the good, but of the good for the for the sake of the evil. ‘Sacrifice’ is the surrender of that which you value in favor of that which you don’t.

If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions ‘sacrifice': that terms brands you as immoral. If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty. If a man dies fighting for his own freedom, it is not a sacrifice: he is not willing to live as a slave; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of man who’s willing.

To be continued.

Age gap

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The age gap between each of us, three sisters, is a source of affable teasing. When I was in college, Crissel was in high school, and Camille, in grade school. “That’s SO elem (elementary),” Crissel would mock when Camille acted immaturely; of course, with high school ‘maturity’ as her benchmark. Now that she’s in college, Crissel would mock our youngest, “SO high school.”

I also get to do the same thing when I react, “SO college,” when Crissel chats with her roommate and friends about – oh, you know – college stuff. But just for last weekend, experiencing some HS and college stuff turned out to be just the break I needed.

Saturday night was short, but it was more than what I could have wished for. I went to a benefit gig set up by my high school batchmates to raise funds for one of our batchmates, my high school roommate, who’s quite sick. I went there for her, did not expect much for myself since my closest friends weren’t attending and I am updated with most of the batch through Facebook anyway. But I saw people whom I haven’t seen in years. Eight years since high school graduation. It was something to see them in the flesh, to note the subtle and obvious differences in the way they looked, spoke, smiled. But it was even more to recognize the semblance of that feeling when you saw them, to that feeling back then on the start of a semester when you see them after a short school break. So high school.

Deliberately relived sweet college life the following day when I spent midnight to 3 am reading a fantasy novel, woke up 9:30 and read some more, took a bath 10 o’clock and had brunch at McDo Vega at 11 with my “roommates” — Crissel and Aila. :)  It was a short walk from their dorm to McDo and back, but it was a leisurely walk nonetheless. What I’d give for more of this: a summer day with sparse students in campus, a book in my hand, and UPLB breeze on my face.
 

Reprise, 2012

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Sam LOTR
“Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back,
only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they
were holding on to something.”

 

That year has passed, that year when I’ve witnessed and become the worst that I’ve witnessed and become so far. Worse years could follow, but in the spirit of turning over a new leaf, I am — just like almost everyone optimistically does — coming up with a reprise of myself.

I draw from the wisdom of J.R.R. Tolkien’s character, Samwise Gamgee. Towards the end of the trilogy’s second installment, after almost handing over the ring to the Nazgul in the fort of Osgiliath, Frodo loses recognition of his loyal companion, Sam, and almost kills him. He was on the verge of losing himself and giving up on their mission to destroy the One Ring, probably because of the burden, the loss and the despair. But Sam’s faith in him was unwavering. Ever loyal and ever true, he reminds Frodo:

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

“But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

“Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.

“But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something… That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”

We all must hold on to something sacred in our lives. In our efforts to reinvent, re-establish, or to reinvigorate ourselves, it is easy to get lost in its novelty and excitement. And too often we failed. But not too often do we really sit down on it and fathom why.

Sweet!

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SO, GANITO.  Wala akong kamalay-malay na nagfa-file sa isang sulok ng branch nang biglang lumapit sa ‘kin ang driver, si Kuya Boyet.  Sinundo n’ya si Manager from a conference.

“Ma’am, may nagpapabigay.”

Post-it na selyado ng tape.  May nakasulat pa sa labas, “TO: AM CZARINA BESARES.”  Galit, naka-all caps.  Sumisigaw rin yung kulay.  Sino sa Manager’s conference ang magbibigay sa ‘kin ng ganito?  Una kong naisip, “Ay, death threat?  Bakit pink?”

Love note pala.


ADJANNI GONZALES ARBON! You were my ray of light that day… Thank you.

*Executive Hug!*

:D

Something we can embrace

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greys

Christina marries Owen

“WHEN WE SAY things like, “people don’t change,” it drives scientists crazy. Because change is literally the only constant in all of science. Energy, matter, it’s always changing, morphing, merging, growing, dying…

“It’s the way people try not to change that’s unnatural. The way we cling to what things were instead of letting them be what they are, the way we cling to old memories instead of forming new ones, the way we insist on believing, despite every scientific indication, that anything in this lifetime is permanent.

“Change is constant. How we experience change – that’s up to us. It can feel like death or it can feel like a second chance at life. If we open our fingers, loosen our grips, go with it, it can feel like pure adrenalin. Like in any moment, we can have another chance at life. Like in any moment, we can be born all over again.”

-Grey’s Anatomy, Season 7 opening episode

~

One Sunday in Ala Creme

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I GO TO FOOD whenever my spirits reach a terrible low. That’s why you can tell by the measure my second chin (God forbid — third) if I’m succumbing to the stress and pressures of work, personal stuff, and life in general.

~ o ~

To taste a piece of worldly heaven, one need not go farther than Pampanga. Ala Creme simply has the most delicious food I have ever indulged on in my entire life. It’s so good it more than makes up for their remarkably poor customer service. It’s a cafe whose main attraction is its collection of utterly delectable desserts, mainly cakes and crepes. The Sinful Chocolate Cake lives up to its name while the taste of the Caramel Banana Walnut Crepe I just consumed will forever be etched in memory… But even the full meals it serves are divine I can’t even begin to describe the two I’ve had so far: Crispy Beef Ribs and Steak Ala Creme. Oh Ala Creme, you take my heart (and cash, inevitably) away!

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Steak Ala CremeThe ‘Steak Ala Creme’


~ o ~

Today is my most unproductive day (1)away from home, (2) since college (qualifiers very important, haha). I did not get out of bed ’til 1pm. And when I did, I just spent it on the phone and on watching Fringe, the TV series I’ve been recently hooked to. I did not eat ’til 7pm (yep, this is my first meal for the day) but when I did, I binged. Sloth and gluttony, I know. Sins one commits for the sake of instant gratification or for temporary highs.

~ o ~

“Points of view… It doesn’t really matter if they’re never quite the same. We have our rules in different ways, we play the games of different folks with different strokes and keep our points of view.”

One Weekend At Home

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three little kittensThree Little Kittens :)


HOME.
A word whose meaning has multiplied hundredfold in significance since the start of my employment. Now I see again how I remain a little girl in the midst of a harsh world, and how home is still the refuge that my occasionally scared heart seeks.

I like my work. I admit I used to dread being fielded out (I sincerely admire the work an account officer does, though). But all that turned out to be just fear: “false expectations appearing real” (borrowing the words of one speaker during our graduation rites). The people I’ve met in the branch and RMC are quite kind and accommodating. Some are even quite cool considering their age. They make the environment feel like an extension of the Commonwealth training center where I found friends in my co-trainees.

But that doesn’t completely lift the burden brought about by work. I never dreamt of working in a bank, much more being in marketing, but here I am now. Sometimes I can manage the pressure, but there are times when I just wish that escape were a responsible choice, or that I could just ‘drop’ a job or ‘retake’ an assignment, or even just leave it and deal with an ‘F’ at the end of an evaluation period. During those times, a long weekend at home is just what I yearn for.

~o~

Got home three-and-a-half hours later than planned.* Nothing new there. I never succeeded in finishing my housekeeping (or dormkeeping) on a Saturday morning. I was supposed to meet with my sister in SM San Pablo, 5 pm. The mall opened October 1, and I couldn’t accept the fact that I haven’t even been inside it since then. I’m not really a mall-goer but I’d like to see for myself this new “development” in my city.

I arrived home 9 pm. Too late. It was good that the following day, we were again running late for mass, so we just decided to attend the next one on schedule and spend the time to see SM.

It was small, as my sister described it. You could easily memorize the shops after one round of looking around, as my sister described it. I asked my sister before going there if there was a Starbucks shop, but I didn’t believe her when she said there was none. And so I looked for Starbucks, but this was what I found:


redbucks

“Sabi sa’yo, Ate!”
 

Overall the excursion was fun, despite the poor lunch at Classic Savory’s and the disappointment regarding Starbucks and the number of shops. Thanks to my sisters for injecting the fun into series of frustrations.

~o~

When it comes to joke time, I’m known as the corny, weird, and slow one ever since my high school days. Maybe because I’m overly rational and/or use logic at the wrong moments. Guess where my sense of humor comes from? Haha. Whenever I go home, I get at least one joke in my back pocket to bring back to my non-home place. Some of the ‘astig’ ones I never forget are “kangkong-tomato-meron-pang-potato” and “tagabitbit-ng-puto-bumbong.” For this week, it’s “Kitty Purry.” ROFL!

_________
* To those who don’t know yet, I was assigned in San Fernando Pampanga after the MAP training, but in the meantime I’m in Malolos for a particular account. I go home to San Pablo on long weekends, or when I could afford it.

Still "Gossip Girl"

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Most heartbreaking scene in Gossip Girl so far; my favorite scene as well. The restrained pain seen in Blair and Chuck’s face squeeze the tears from your heart.

Blair: Just because you’re dressed poorly doesn’t mean you’re not Chuck Bass.

Chuck: Why would I wanna be him?

B: You should have told me you got shot.

C: I’m surprised you didn’t shoot me yourself.

B: I have. Many times, in my dreams. The good ones… But if you’re really hurt, I would wanna know.

C: When I woke up my ID was gone. Nobody knew who I was, nobody was coming to look for me. I realized I might be alive, but Chuck Bass doesn’t have to be.

B: Changing your name doesn’t change who you are.

C: It’s a good start. A chance to live simply, earn people’s respect… Maybe become a person someone could love.

B: Someone did love you. And, you owe it to her, and everyone else you’re leaving behind not to run away, which is what you’re doing. And I don’t think that great man you’re talking about wanting to be is a coward. I think he would face up to what he did.

C: I destroyed the only thing I ever loved.

Pause. Blair hands the ring to Chuck.

B: I don’t love you anymore. [Tears. Mine.] But it takes more than even you to destroy a Blair Waldorf.

C: Your world would be easier if I didn’t come back.

B: That’s true. But it wouldn’t be my world without you in it.

Season 4 Episode 2, Double Identity.

"One foot in front of the other…"

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Reading is love. It’s sad that I’m starting to lose the habit, what with the volley of (bulleted) information we need to stuff into our minds everyday. Remembering when I had the leisure of time to prop open a book or any reading of my choice during a rainy day (with classes suspended, yes?) makes me miss college.

If I were to name the readings I cherished most back then, I could probably name just five, and this one I’m posting below* would be on top of the list. I have no favorite genre in particular, but I’m a sucker for short stories that drive home a point so smoothly, just as this one does. “Long Walk to Forever” is perhaps my favorite in the romance genre: short, sweet, simple.

Enjoy!

* – No copyright infringement intended.

~o~
Long Walk to Forever
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Notes on elections 2010.

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I just finished voting in San Pablo City and I have to be in QC in 2 hours. Here goes a brief account of my May 10, 2010 experience:

1. Queues. Someone was right in advising voters to lengthen their patience because of the several lines one has to fall in. Another advice I would have appreciated, though, would be to go to your precinct AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. I arrived there 9:30 a.m. and found my precinct 10:00 a.m., expecting it would take only 30 to 45 minutes to vote. To my extreme dismay, I was already 405th in the queue (they were calling #120 after I got my number). Although many “numbers” did not appear when called, it barely sped up my waiting time. I have a very important meeting/group work this afternoon (in QC) so you can only imagine the frustration and regret I felt.

2. Automation and casting your vote. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that it was the voter himself/herself who would feed his/her ballot into the PCOS machine. I thought the votes would be counted after the day, after all ballots have been collected, which made me skeptical about the whole “automation.” (I.e. it was counting, NOT VOTING, that was automated. Not to mention it would only take a bad element to get hold of a pile of ballots, shade them accordingly and feed them into the machine before the counts were transmitted for consolidation. Good thing this was not the case.). With the voter feeding his/her ballot himself, it’s as good as having ATM-like machines where votes would be cast by pressing the button beside a name, which I initially imagined when I first heard about the automation.

So the PCOS machine is a genuine milestone, I thought. Problem was, they were underutilized. I just searched the net now and found out the school had 3,358 voters divided into 27 precincts, which were grouped into 4 clusters. Six to seven precincts = one cluster = one room = one PCOS machine. The problem was not with the number of PCOS machines but with the number of voters who can fill up their ballots simultaneously. The machine was idle for most of the time and it takes less than a minute for it to validate and count the votes in a ballot. If only more voters could fill up their ballots at the same time — more than the ten seats allotted per classroom — it would have been faster.

pcos

The Precinct Count Optical Scan machine (i.e., PCOS)

3. Privileges. Although I was growing impatient, seeing Senior Citizens go past my line relieved me. They were happy to vote without the hassle of lining up and I was happy seeing them enjoy their privilege. However, there might be other people who need the same privilege, like pregnant women and the differently-abled. Maybe next time Comelec could reconsider.

4. Para-paraan. I needed to be in QC before 4 pm; San Pablo City is 3 hours away. At the rate it was going, I would be able to vote at around 2 pm. Thanks to my mom, I was able to vote before noon. She found a Senior Citizen (Lola E, whom I’ve just met a while ago), and asked her if I could be the one to assist her (telling her my situation). Lola had a chaperon who hasn’t voted yet too, but the chaperon had a number, and she and Lola agreed to my mother’s proposition. I assisted Lola E, and after her, I voted. Later on, I found out that the chaperon was also done voting, and in fact finished ahead of me, as her number was called even before Lola E was done voting. I sighed, greatly relieved I did not trouble anyone specific with my mother’s pamamaraan and glad that I would be able to make it to my meeting in QC. (Thanks, Ma!)

Overall assessment: Voting is taking much longer than usual, but given that the election process is in a transition, it’s satisfactory. This election entails more patience from the voters, or their strengthened will to exercise their right and/or fulfill their obligation as citizens. Lubhang nakakapagod pumila.


Points for improvement:
More clusters/classrooms, definitely, with corresponding increase in manpower. If not possible, then the BEI or whoever is in-charge of the logistics can at least consider having more seats/slots in each classroom to accommodate more voters who can vote simultaneously.

(AND) Find a way to accommodate errors in filling up ballots. The Lola I assisted made a mistake in filling up the first part of her ballot, but she was not allowed to have another one so she was not able to correct her vote. In effect she voted for a President she did not really want to vote for. Voters should be held responsible for the accuracy of their vote, true, but not at the expense of compromising the faithfulness of a cast vote to the voter’s true choice.

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