Monday, December 12, 2011

When I Resent my Parents

When I went home, I mean to my parents' home in Anao-aon, Surigao del Norte, to celebrate my father's 67th birthday, I noticed my Aunt Sidra (my father's youngest sister) christmas lantern-making. I liked the materials she used, recycling the junk food wrappers. I then contracted her to make me at least 20 pieces of these small hanging lanrerns for a price of P15.00 a piece. I promised to pay her upon completion, which time I will be back in Manila. That was in October.

November came and the lanterns were ready for pick up. I told my parents to pick and pay on my behalf but they declined from taking the chirstmas decor because there was no one to hang them on the ceiling. Of course, I understand that they were both old and can no longer climb or whatever. So I told them to hire somebody to hang the lanterns instead. But they insist to instead pay the amount but no longer claim the goods. It agitated me and forced them to pay and get the items no matter how they'll dispose it; that they can garbage it.

Indeed, they told Auntie Sidra about the new arrangement, that is to pay but not claim the items. And so my aunt refused the payment and decided to resell the items to students who just in time were needing the lanterns for school projects. I felt the guilt about the breach of contract with my aunt and disappointed with my parents. I resent them since...

Later, my sister En inquired for the real reason and told me that it was very personal. I never realized that there has been untoward dynamics between my aunt and my sister-in-law which greatly affected my parents. Which clash, and that my parents sided with my sister-in-law, I cannot put into details and discuss in here. This helped me understand why my parents evaded contacts, which for them giving a lesson, with my aunt.

In the spirit of Christmas, my resentment expired on December 11. And I called to talk to them over the phone, not mentioning about the lanterns, but checking on their health and other happy stuffs.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fabs' Supermodel and Ms. World Diva

Who would've thought?

I was in charged of registration and so I stayed at the door for the first few hours during the Fabs' 6th Christmas Party. When everyone was in, I went to the backstage to signal the candidates that the traditional beauty pageant to start. There were only four Fab members dressed in drag and so they begged me to dress up to complete the magic five. Deciding to dress drag at the last minute, I sat in front of the makeup mirror as my face was brushed and painted here and there by the hired artist.

Candidate number one, there I came out. I stunned everone with my Ms India representation, including my boyfriend Erick. When the makeup artist asked me what I love to represent, I told him I rather be Miss India. And so he did and everyone was fascinated by my beauty; that includes me.

I was assigned to present a song number dressed drag or not. And it turned out to be my talent in the pageant. I have the one and only talent presentation and rightly awarded the best in talent.

The Question and Answer followed and I never thought it would be so formal. I was the last one called to the centerstage and was asked,

Q: If ever elected as the first gay president of the Republic of the Philippines, what would you do first?

I immediately come up with a circuitous answer which simply came out of my mouth without much thought, which said,

A: Being the first gay in a large family, that I was able to win the acceptance of my whole family, I believe I can be a good gay president of the RP. My first priority would be to support the anti-LGBT discrimiation which the Ladlad Party is lobbying.

Then I realized later that the best answer would be: "Despite the wide tolerance of LGBT nowadays, discrimination can still be felt. Gays particularly are taken for mock or ridicule. As the first gay president, I will embody in me the grace under pressure, unparalleled ground-footed leadership, and well-respected gayness. And I will institutionalize the magna carta of LGBT individuals."

With the latter I believe I'll covet the Ms. Universe Diva crown. But Ms. World Diva still feels a big win! Who would have thought that few minutes of dressing up a red long gown would end me the second best win. Below shows my looks before I gone the backstage and came out in gown and Miss India makeup.

The surprises did not end there. I was even chosen the Fabs' Next Supermodel winner, bested all 9 other candidates including the people's choice and the judges' choice.

I was so glad my boyfriend is so supportive. In fact, he's my cameraman.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Go back to Hongkong and Macau

It has become my weakness to take advantage of promo fare either from Cebu Pacific Airlines or Philippine Airlines or AirAsia to get to Hong Kong any time of any year. This year I got another cheap ticket to the city as the tour guide for the Go Family.

Ruth Arienza-Go is my good friend and classmate in college. We kept in touch all the time and thus they knew my planned trip to Hong Kong for the third time. Given their richness, they bought a higher-priced ticket just to fit their family's tour to my schedules. She brought with her her husband, Junjun, and the two older kids, Shawn Marty and John Tristan. I then reprogrammed my itinerary to suit to theirs as I guide them in their first overseas tour. I initially thought of crossing the border to Shenzhen but cancelled it the moment the Go family finalized their flight.

Day 1 (November 30): City Tour alone

I flew the Cebu Pacific Airline from Clark to Hongkong early that day and arrived at 9 in the morning in Hong Kong. I went ahead of the Go family since they got the night flight via Philippine Airlines. Since I knew the place, I took a bus to Citygate Mall then rode the train at Tung Chung MTR station towards the Tsim Sha Tsui area where most cheap hostels crowd. I checked the Mirador Mansion to book a family room at Mei Lam Guesthouse. To make use of my day while waiting for Ruth and family and the 2pm check-in time, I went to Wan Chai via the MTR for a city tour, walked around the district, then sailed on the Ferry boat on my way back to Kowloon District. I strolled for the first time around the Kowloon Park before checking in and rest for a while. I went back to Citygate Outlet to take my dinner while waiting for Go family's arrival at 10pm. This was when I picked up a lost wallet in the area where I sat during dinnertime. I surrendered the stout wallet to the nearest information counter in the mall.

The children were initially hard to please. Tristan was afraid of the double-decker bus; it looked like a monster car for him. Marty called the reserved room a rabbit house; he felt claustrophobic. Until fortunately, they both tired themselves from their tantrums and fell asleep.

Day 2 (December 1): Ocean Park

The morning atmosphere was 18 degrees Celsius. It was chilly for all of us whose used to humid Manila environment. We rode the train and bus to reach the Ocean Park. Marty was ecstatic to notice the cartoonish feel of the Park from the facade to the overall entertainment the park brings. However, Tristan was not feeling well thus was not able to fully enjoy the park's amenities. Junjun was burdened by cuddling and swaddling the boy the whole time we have been in the park. Thus that fortnight, Ruth and I scoured the whole department stores in Kowloon area to look for and buy a stroller for Tristan.

Day 3 (December 2): Disneyland

14 degrees Celsius was the weather condition that day. This was the Disney day for us all. I absolutely enjoyed the Toy Story Land, newly opened section of the park. Marty and I were partners in the rides, as Tristan is acrophobic so he cannot join us. We enjoyed more during the night's spectacle, such as synthetic snow and the fireworks display.

Day 4 (December 3): Day Tour in Macau

We all took the ferry to Macau that morning. We met a Filipina who volunteered to guide our day tour. She even offered accommodation for a cheap price but we decided to go back to Hong Kong that night. We cut short our Macau stay, we simply visit the St. Paul's Church Ruins and then the Venetian Hotel and Resort; Junjun opt not to visit the Casino. Upon reaching Hong Kong that early night, Ruth and I went on shopping in the Harbor City Mall.

Day 5 (December 4): College Classmates' Reunion

Lunchdate with Maricel Sy-Ng, our college classmate who settled in Hong Kong, was set as our closing activity during the weeklong tour. She treated us to a bountiful lunch around Wan Chai shopping center. Felicitations and updating of each others' life, status, and accomplishments lasted for 3 hours. Upon return to Kowloon, Ruth and I decided to shop once more, this time at the Citygate Outlet.

Day 6 (December 5): Return Trip

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Royals and Commoners

2011 is the year of unity among royals and commoners.

This is a good indication that the world is becoming one and the same. Gone are the days that royal bloods are different from commoners; this perhaps is due to modernization...

But it indeed is trending...

The Royal Wedding. Prince William & Catherine Middleton. Friday 29 April at Westminster Abbey.

Prince Albert II of Monaco marries South African beauty princess Charlene Wittstock on August 2

Bhutan's Dragon King, Jigmey Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck,  marries a commoner, Jetsun Pema, in a Himalayan monastic fortress on October 13-15.

Princess Nurastuti Wijareni, 25, married 29-year-old Achmad Ubaidillah in a traditional Javanese-Muslim ceremony on October 17-18. The groom, a commoner, works at the office of Indonesia's vice president.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tantong at 67!

We owe it from God! Bigtime!

The four children of Crisanto Gastardo, Sr. decided to savor his second life by blowing parties especially during his natal day. In behalf of our two elder brothers working abroad, my Sister En, her husband Jun, and I went home for the purpose. We arrived at our parents residence two days ahead of Papa Tantong's birthday on October 25 to afford enough time for the preparations.

We initially thought of celebrating the day away from home, in a hotel or resort in other town, just like our Mama Dulcing's last July. Our first choice was the Laguna Dream Resort in a far barangay within Surigao City but due to present day insurgence we canceled it. The second option was to check in in one noted hotel in the City, the Gateway Hotel. Due to proximity to our home residence, we opted not to. So we ended at choosing the nearest beach resort in nearby town, the Rose Beach in Ipil.

We successfully gathered our immediate families and relatives. The whole 4-hour celebration was filled with food and drinks. Some are drunk including my beloved nephew, Entoy. The most entertaining part was the dance exhibited by our little nephews.

October 26, the following day, the day of our return trip, was also my Sister En's birthday. We pre-celebrated her nativity at our father's beach party.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Personal Interests in Work are Travels

It may be obvious that I applied for a job in DSWD's KALAHI-CIDSS for the following reasons:
a. higher pay
b. longer term
c. new experience
d. attractive addition to my resume

Higher Pay

I actually mean higher net pay. Withholding taxes on my salary in my previous employer, which was based on purely compensation income, hurt me so bad. As I am single and my total professional fee is kinda large that my taxable income falls under the 30% withholding rate, a one-third cut from my pay is significantly affectively huge. In my current work with DSWD's project, my pay is subject to a profession tax of 10% plus 3% final tax; this is a 50% cut from my prior periods' withholing taxes. Indeed, it affords me a sigh of relief. My present pay though is a bit lower than before, as it is an entry rate with a promise of increase upon contract renewal, but the total net pay is much higher.

Longer Term

The project I am presently in is programmed to last for 5 years. And as far as I can tell, most projects has the option of 2-year extension. So this means that I have work or I can linger for the rest of the project life. While the project I just resigned is closing this November 2011, with a bleak assurance of 1-year extension. There is a proposed followup project but the date of start is yet unknown. I really do love working there with my previous employer, notwithstanding the withholding taxes issue. And while waiting for the good news of next phase, I guess I can live and work with DSWD at a comparable rate.

New Experience

The project is about community empowerment, based on the CDD (community driven development) principle. My first project was somewhat community based also but not as grounded, wide and varied as this. It was more of natural resources management, basically coastal and upland resources. While this project I am working now is about everything the community prioritizes as needs. Moreover, it covers many areas in luzon and visayas. This is definitely a new experience.

Attractive Addition to Resume

The fact that the funder is MCC, the employment record is and would be attractive. This is an attractive experience to quote in my resume. Been with USAID project immediately prior to this project, and to be working with MCC is another privilege.

So, what is hidden therefore?
What is implicit in my intention of transferring to KC-MCC is the incidental and compulsory travels. I love traveling around the Philippine archipelago. I missed my years with an ADB project implemented by the DAR where I was able to reach as far north as Aparri in Cagayan Valley and as far south as Bongao in Tawi-tawi.

Now with DSWD's KC project, I expect to travel around Luzon and Visayas. I am thrilled to think of reaching the whole of north luzon provinces, such as Kalinga, Apayao, Benguet, and Mountain Province. Also in south luzon, like the islands of Masbate, Marinduque and Romblon. In visayas, new areas would lead me to Negros Oriental, Guimaras, and Siquijor. All these places are new to me.

My travels with KC started with Quezon Province and then to various workshops around the country. Been to Camiguin for MFA training in regions 10 & CARAGA, to Bohol for another training in regions 5, 6 and 7, to Ormoc for MFA training in region 8, to Zamboanga for another training in regions 9, 11 and 12, and to Iloilo City for the last set of MFA training in region 6.

At the Meralco Management & Leadership Development Center (MMLDC)



At Estrella de Mendoza Resort at Laiya, San Juan, Batangas