Sunday, August 5, 2012

Beyond Genes

Rubber band. An unprepossessing thing you find at home which you used to take for granted. Bakit nga naman hindi? Isn't this the one you blew with your hands when you were playing dampa as a kid, the one vendors use to tie together pechay or malunggay bundles in the market? For some reason, though, you couldn't get this thing off your mind now after a professor in one of your post graduate classes used this object to metaphorize humanity - the potentials and limitations of the human species. "Our genes dictate what kind of rubbers we are in terms of size, aesthetics, etc.", she says. Nature has pre-determined our physical composition, our thought and emotional processes, our capabilities. In short, Nature has pre-defined to what extent we can be stretched; biology has spoken as to what we can or cannot do.
There is goodness in this natural decision, so you realize. Yes, there are things you are limited to do because of genetics, but by the same token, there are things that you are naturally gifted to do as well. "Stretch those rubber bands," you recall your prof saying. And stretch you will do, via constant training, exposure and practice - lest your rubber wrinkles, shrinks or even decays. You've been inspired by handicapped people who are able to do amazing things despite their handicap - people without legs who do gymnastics, fly a plane, or run in the Olympics. Indeed, what makes a person great is not by his unused innate talents or natural abilities, but by how one is able to overcome one's natural inabilities, defying the odds, creating a beautiful and inspiring story that is sweet testament to the indomitable human spirit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yes, Vice, It's Truly a Good Night

Grabe, tuwing gabi na akong humahalakhak sa bawat pagsubaybay ko sa bagong late night talk show ng dos, ang "Gandang Gabi Vice." Hindi katulad ng predecessor nitong Sharon na puro OA at wala sa hulmang pagtawa lang ni Mega ang pambenta, aba, ibang putahe ang handog ng pambansang kabayong si Vice Ganda: Perfect combination of singing, talk, jokes and lively audience participation. Para kang nasa comedy at music bar combined! Talagang nakakade-stress.

The show starts with Vice singing. In all fairness, may talent yung komedyante. He can shift from full voice to falsetto with ease. Then, true to his character as a "host", he greets the audience, and the latter greets back by cheering "Gandang Gabi Vice" as they stand on their feet. Pagkatapos, makikipaghuntahan ng kaunti si Vice sa audience sa pamamagitan ng pagtatanong ng kung anik anik, pero ang topic ay hindi naman masyadong lumalayo sa theme ng programa o sa mga guests nito sa gabing iyon. Dito lumalabas ang natural na talento ni Vice sa komedya. Last week, for example, he asked an 82 year old lady how old she was. The lady of course said she's 82 and, expectedly and unexpectedly, Vice cracked an effective punchline by saying "so ilan na lang po ang natitira?" I was laughing all the way.

There's one thing I've noticed with Vice's hosting: He was asking intelligent questions on the show. His comments and jokes were no non-sense. Hindi mababaw. I can't cite specific examples right now, but the way Vice asks the question, or expresses his views during the "advice" portion towards the latter portion of the show, surprisingly showed some depth. It was well thought-of. Hindi yung basta na lang binitawan para lang may masabi at bunuin ung airtime. Perhaps, the (gay) man is simply living up to his creed which he previously expressed in one of the episodes of "Showtime", another ABS CBN show where he stars: "Hindi sapat na bakla ka lang. Dapat may pinag-aralan ka rin." True to his words, on this show, he's showing how well schooled he is by the way he pulls the show off every Sunday night.

Over-all, the station's new formula to entertain people at night is effective. It's not just comedy, it's sensible comedy. I wouldn't really be surprised if the others would replicate the same in the near future. Andt thanks to Vice's talent and the staff's brilliant production format. The show's not just ma-Ganda, but as the name "Vice" itself literally means, nakaka-adik pa.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lipad ng Pangarap (Flight of a Dream)

I know. I tend to become more serious whenever I write in English. I couldn't help it. It's really me, my way of writing, especially when I become a little emphatic about the subject matter. Just like what I saw on TV two days ago.

Singapore-based Channel News Asia ran a feature story about the Philippines and what it considers as its national hobby - singing. It highlighted that despite the country's rampant poverty, Filipinos manage to pursue their addiction to music, particularly singing, having put up karaoke in almost every home, on every street. A very inexpensive appliance, the karaoke (sing-along machine) itself was invented by a Filipino. And many of the most sought after singers and entertainers around the world are Filipinos. We even top the world's singing contests.

But what really caught my attention were the two kids featured in the program. These kids were from poor families. Like millions of aspiring singers in the Philippines, they considered singing as their way out of poverty. They endured stringent screenings, discriminating talent contests and long exhausting travels hoping to hit upon that most crucial break towards stardom and be 'discovered'. Like their ancestors, they were resilient and determined - refusing to give up despite a thousand and one heartachbreaks as they pursue their golden dream. Yes, they had - have - a dream to live for, hope for and fight for - and that dream is the fire that kept and continues to keep their spirit burning.

I envy them. Buti pa sila. They have a reason to wake up every morning. Thanks to that dream. Life, with all its strikes and surprises, is undoubtedly sweet!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Felix catus, the House Cat Family

"Ako'y may alaga, pusang mataba..." sabi nga ng isang nursery rhyme. But in my case, ako'y di lang may alagang pusang mataba, kundi apat na pusang mataba. Sa totoo lang hindi naman talaga ako mahilig sa pusa. I would say I'm more a dog lover. Ang aso kasi matapat. Kahit paluin mo, they will just wag their tail in submission. Ikaw pa ang aamuin. Sa pusa, well, lalapitan ka lang pag may kailangan. Lalayasan ka isang araw at pag balik, buntis na.

Kaso isang araw, may isang pusang nagawi sa bahay namin. Buntis ang lola niyo. At dahil kami'y likas na may soft spot sa mga hayop, we let her in. Sa isang sabsaban, este, kahon sa may tindahan namin siya nanganak. At yung mga anak niya, ayun ang naging mga pusa namin. Dahil sa likas na lambing at kakatwang mga katangian ng mga pusakal na ito, ayun, I eventually fell in love na rin to cats. Nakadagdag pa ang kakapanuod ko ng Animal Planet kung saan laging bida ang, siyempre walang iba kundi ang mga big cats.

Tsaka kasi itong mga pusa namin, siguro dahil na rin sa amin sila lumaki at nagkaisip, ay, sa kakatwang dahilan, may mga katangian ng aso - at least sa departamento ng katapatan. Halimbawa, tuwing bibili ng pandesal ang tatay ko tuwing umaga, ayun, sunod ang mga kuting sa kanya. At dahil takot na lapain ng mga labrador at mga askal malapit sa mismong bakery, hihintayin na lang nila si tatay sa ilalim ng isang nakaparadang sasakyan. Minsan, pag maloko si tatay, sa kabialng kanto siya dadaan. Siyempre, todo hintay pa rin ang mga muning. Makalipas ang isang oras, makokonsiyensiya si Papang at babalkan ang mga muning. Ayun, ilang kalmot sa paa niya ang kanyang matatamo.

Hay...ang pusa nga naman. OK na rin na may apat kaming pusa...and growing ha. At least, di na kailangan ni Nanay ng plastic na pusa sa tindahan na palaging nagwa wave para raw swerte. Siguro naman, mas swerte ang buhay na pusa di ba?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Planting Manila Fire Tree: Protecting Manila from Another Ondoy

A week ago, Metro Manila and surrounding areas commemorated the 1st anniversary of a tragic event in Philippine history - Ondoy. Who would forget that day (September 26th 2009) when for a few hours, a month's worth of rain unusually poured in to drench the Philippine capital, almost erasing it on the map. It was the country's worst flooding in four decades. Hence, it was worth commemorating, not only to celebrate and honor the brave unsung heroes who rose to the challenges of that crucible times but also to remind us of our duty towards Mother Earth, to remain faithful to the biblical commandment given us, which is stewardship of all creation.

As I watched on television the activities commence, my eyes caught one interesting placard calling to "Save Sierra Madre". This was from one of the activities held in Marikina City, one of the localities greatly hit by Typhoon Ondoy. As highlighted by government and non-government organizations, deforestration of the Sierra Madre mountains brought about by illegal logging, mining and conversion of forest lands to commercial subdivisions was among the major factors that have aggravated the flooding experienced by Metro Manila during Ondoy. Because there were no trees to hold off the flood waters from the mountains, they rushed freely to the metropolis and eventually gave rise to those traumatic neck-deep flooding. It is just right to correct this through reforestration.

Replanting our depleted rainforests not only ensures that we don't experience another Ondoy again (or at least it mitigates the havoc to be wreaked by another Ondoy-like typhoon especially in terms of flooding) but it also makes our surroundings beautiful. Good thing is, we don't necessarily have to go to the mountains literally to participate in this undertaking. Even within Metro Manila, we can start replanting our boulevards, parks, center islands, sidewalks and other areas with sturdy perennial fruit-bearing or ornamental trees, which is again a positive response against global warming.

Two years ago if my memory serves me right, MMDA had a massive campaign to plant cadena de amor plants along EDSA. Not only did this made EDSA beautiful, but the plants were said to have helped control air pollution on this busy road stretch.

This time around, why not try covering Metro Manila with beautiful Manila Fire trees (Delix regina), also known as arbol de fuego, or royal poinciana? I had first seen one of these trees along the vacant parking spaces of the old Araneta center some 10 or 15 years ago. I was curious then as to what this tree was called. It reminded me of Japan's cherry blossoms because of its orange to red-orange sprouts falling to the ground when the wind blew. I noticed what fell were actually not leaves but some kind of small clustered flowers. The tree has intrigued me since then. In UP Diliman where I spent college, some of these trees are standing tall and proud along the University oval. Its umbrella-like canopy can spread widely, sometimes wider than its height. For me, the Manila Fire Tree is our version of the mythical oak trees of North America. Why not? This tree is mythical in itself because of the blazing effect it gives our avenues, parks, streets and gardens. Thanks to its red to orange red blossoms, it's as if it's telling a story to anyone who really pays attention to it. The tree is inspiring and I hope the government, particularly MMDA and the local governments give the Manila Fire tree the promotion and recognition it so deserves.

I don't know where this "plant a tree now" blog entry came from. But I agree with Czarina Gatbonton's controversial answer in the Bb. Pilipinas 2010 final Q&A, that the tree is the source of the air we breathe and thus the source of life on earth.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A splash of experience in Acuatico

It's supposed to be a team building in Laiya, Batangas. But it turned out to be a complete relaxation. No planning. No discussion about work, etc. We just took a carefree day, an important break from the worries of corporate life and the hustles and bustles of city jungle.

We started the day right by appreciating the good weather and the scenic views while on the way to Acuatico.

The facade of the resort was indeed welcoming.

Finally, I was able to experience how it feels to submerge my body in an infinity pool. Sana maulit muli.

The food was great!

Facilities were okay. It was a bit wavy at the time we were in.

Time to bond with the team. It was a blast.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why I'm proud to work at Accenture

In Accenture, an essay writing contest has been recently launched to enable regular employees to express how proud they are working in the company. In a two-page essay, they must be able to answer the question "Are you a proud Pinoy Accenture employee? Why?" Today, in fact, is the deadline.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't make it. For some reason, I couldn't write when there's pressure involved, when there's a deadline to beat. Sakit ko na yata ito. That is why I don't see myself pursuing any career in writing. And it makes me sad.

Although I wouldn't be able to submit any entry, the question lingers in my head nonetheless. It's like last song syndrome. It keeps repeating in my mind. It makes me reflect deeply on something: Am I really proud as a Pinoy Accenture employee?

I have been with the company for only barely two months. It might be too early to say that I am indeed proud. But so far, really, I've never been prouder. The company is progressive in every aspect - from compensation and benefits, to security, to international certifications, to global interconnectedness, to processes and tools, to programs related to innovation, etc. But I guess the primary thing that makes me proud working at Accenture are the people I actually work with. I've never seen any group of people who is as devoted to their work as these people. For us working at Accenture Procurement, we wouldn't get compensated for OT rendered unless we're able to accumulate at least 16 hours of OT - the company would pay us on our 17th hour and every hour after that- still subject to tax of course. Thinking about this policy from an outsider's point of view, we virtually don't get compensated at all for extra "labor" time, which typically totals less than 16 hours come payout cut-off (in the Philippines, you get paid on the 15th and 30th of the month).

But I was amazed one weekend when I went to the office to pick something up. My whole team was there - working passionately. I asked them if they were aware of the policy regarding OT, that we would only be compensated for our 17th hour of OT, and all that. They said yes - and they didn't care. All they wanted to do was to finish their work on time - to ensure that the requests are fulfilled on schedule and that our customers and clients also meet their respective project deadlines, deliverables and budgets. I was made to realize how our role was critical to achieving these. I was humbled. I learned something from them. While I was concerned about how OTs benefit (or not benefit) me at Accenture, my colleagues (and many of them are actually reporting to me) in contrast think of the people we serve within Accenture. While I was in a way being self-centered, they on the other hand were altruistic.

I believe time is the greatest gift any employee can offer to a company. I have seen how my team mates freely give their time and devotion to the company without even thinking of monetary compensation. I guess many Pinoys do. In local parlance, we call that "malasakit" (solicitude). And such work ethic is what makes me proud about working at Accenture.