Thursday, December 19, 2013

Trainings, Here and There

I got on board with my new project, funded by the Australian Aid with the Department of Education (DepEd), on July 1, 2013. I was then tasked to conduct trainings on the new government coding system for financial transactions called Unified Account Code Structure (UACS). This included preparation of training materials, booking training venues, and finalizing training dates.

Given that DepEd is a huge government agency, the conduct of trainings covered the whole of the country. That being said, the venues were scattered around the archipelago. And drive to tour around the Philippines is reinforced. But the prospect of reaching all major parts of the country was unmet because the travel advisory from the Australian Aid prohibited project consultants to travel to Mindanao - that means the whole of Mindanao. My colleagues and I were kind of sad, disappointed is the best description of the feeling, because most of all (3 out of 4) hailed from Mindanao - Marisa Dahan is from Iligan City in Lanao, Ulrich Uy is from Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis, and I am from Surigao. Nevertheless, the final training venues in Luzon and Visayas (Mindanao participants traveled to Cebu City) were generally new to us all.

With the approval to conduct the training with the budget, the orientation-training started at the Central Office on October 8 to 11, 2013. Representatives from the Accounting, Cash, and Payroll divisions attended the one-day course. The project's inception report expected to train DepEd financial management people from Central Office to Regional and Division offices and to Implementing Units (from select Secondary Schools). Such the case will cost DepEd a lot of money to gather them all. So the final option was to hold a training of trainers (ToT) on UACS, including overview on Treasury Single Account (TSA) and other related financial management reforms. Marisa was the person in charged of the TSA. So we were partners in all travels and stuffs, in close collaboration with the DepEd Accounting personnel from the Central Office as our counterparts.

The series of ToTs kicked of with the Regional Office of CALABARZON (provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon). The first stop of the travel leg was in Tagaytay City at the Girls Scout of the Philippines Headquarters on October 21-22, 2013. This also marked the start of the series of nightouts we shared with the DepEd counterparts. Along with the view of Taal Volcano was the sipping of coffees at the Starbucks-Tagaytay - the biggest Starbucks cafe ever in the country, as for me. And that coffee break happened after we ate Bulalo, beef soup in cold places such as Tagaytay is known for, at the famous Mahogany Market. Next stop that same week was in Mandaluyong City, at Richville Hotel, where the ToT for rthe Regional Office MIMAROPA (provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) was held on October 22-23, 2013.

That following week, before the holidays for All Soul's Day and All Saints' Day, Marisa and I headed to the Northeastern Luzon. The ToT for Regional Office II, attended by representatives from the provinces of Cayan, Batanes, Isabela, Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya and it's cities, was held in Villa Blanca Hotel on October 29-30, 2013. Here we have plenty of extra curricular activities. On arrival day, the host Region's representative, Ms Dream,  drove us to the Our Lady of Piat Shrine. This was my first time to reach this known  Catholic tourists' destination, as it was reasonably far from the city. At nighttime, I ushered them to this coffee shop I searched through the internet in Tuguegarao City. On our last day, before checking in our fkight back to Manila, our host brought us to Callao Cave in Penablanca, Cagayan. This was my second time to enjoy the  5-chambered cave, the favorite shooting destination for most movie makers. One of which was the  movie "The Mistress" starred by the most loved tandem of John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo.

Then we're back to the Metro Manila for the training of  DepEd people in National Capital Region. The Regional Office hosted the ToT at Great Eastern Hotel on November 4-5, 2014 in Quezon City. We did not stay in the hotel since we live around the metro so we have no bonding moments. Marisa and I flew to Ilocos Region via Laoag Airport. Only then that I knew of  free shuttle from the airport to any point in the city. The shuttle ferried us to the Farinas Bus Terminal, where we later found that our way to San Fernando City, La Union was so circuitous, to take the bus ride to the said city that hosted the training. We arrived at breaking dawn of November 7 at the Regional Educators Learning Center, the venue, after the 2-hour wait in NAIA, 1-hour flight, and 5-hour bus trip. We should have taken the 7-hour bus from Manila straight to San Fernando, La Union.

We enjoyed our ToT in Region I on November 7 and 8 foremostly due to high level of hospitality the regional participants exhibited.One night, Arnold, the Accountant, showed us around the high-end resort and hotel in the area, the Thunderbird, then treated us to a dessert very well-known to Filipinos and notable cafe in the area, the Halo-Halo de Iloko. The following night, Marisa and I headed back to Laoag City on our way back to Manila, but before that, we stayed for the night at the heart of the Heritage City of Vigan. That day after, November 9, since we took the evening flight, the Division Office of Ilocos Norte arranged a day tour for us. We made a free tour to Bangui Windmills, Burgos white stone formations known as Kapurpurawan, Burgos old lighthouse, Dragon Fruit Farm, and a hasted peek at Paoay Church.

Next in line was the full week in Cebu City. All ToT sessions for Mindanao regions were brought to the Queen City fi the South. We brought along as well the whole Project team and the DepEd counterparts to manage the back-to-back sessions for Regional Offices of VII and IX on November 11-12, for X and XI on November 13-14, and of XII and Caraga on November 15-16. Knowing Cebu as a metro, our only hangout was either Ayala Mall or IT Business Park with bottles of beer a night. The only difference from all our ToT-related gimmicks was that we have our Englishman Team Leader, Paul, with us. Mind you, we were able to convince him to sing in the videoke.

Marisa and I went to Angeles City in Pampanga that following week to conduct ToT for RO III, a night before the schedule, on November  18-19. There was not much to see or tour around inthe city of angels, except for vudeoke bars. We spent one night in a common videoke bar. I said "common" because there is no available private rooms for exclusivity. The we flew to Legazpi City that Wednesday to conduct another set of ToT for Bicol Region. We feared the famous beautiful, almost perfect coned Mayon Volcano won't show her glam to us because of the rains. Well, it was almost December and the rainy days were here. Fortunately, after the November 21-22 scheduled training, the sky cleared and Mayon showed up. I felt proud to have Paul, our English Team Leader, witnessed the beauty and perfection of one and only Mayon Volcano, primarily because he joined us just to check on this known tourist destination.

Just like the trip to RO I, we had a great time in RO VI ToT on November 25-26. Before the serious business, we arrive in Iloilo City that day before, so Marisa and I decided to spend a half-day tour to Guimaras Island. That same week all the trained trainers started rolling our the echo trainings. The Division Office of Manila contacted me and asked my presence and technical assistance. Theirs was held in Kimberly Hortel Tagayatay City. Coincidentally, my sister En who worked in another project had a workshop in the area. We agreed to meet and enjoy the famous bulalo soup in Mahogany Market and dessert at the Starbucks, overlooking Taal Volcano.

The ToT series went on in December.  First was with Cordillera Administrative Region  on December 2-3. It's rainy season in the whole of the country,a so cool or cold  Cordillera region is expected. Should it been in Baguio City the training venue, there would be plenty of group nightouts. But the ToT was hosted in the next town, La Trinidad, and thus, we found ourselves at the nearest Karaoke Bar.

The last but definitely not the least in the ToT series was iback in Cebu for RO VIII December 17-18.  Due to the super typhoon Yolanda, the region was hardhit and so the training for them was postponed to later date. the week before that was then spent for Division Offices which requested an assistance in their rollout trainings. The Division of Cagayan Valley hosted one in Tuguegarao City on December 1-11 and followed r by the Division of Ilocos Norte on December 12-13. This was the very rare opportunity for Marisa and I to  circumnavigate the  the northernest parts of the Philippine archipelago, that is from Tuguegarao City of Region II to Laoag City of Region I.Check the link below for the notable tour we have had in Laoag and nearby tourist destinations.

Northern Adventure

Trainings here and there gave me a very personal experience of Philippine adventure in different ways, different forms, various places.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Poem: Wanna

If you wanna grow, You have to let go
If you wanna live, You need bad things leave
If you wanna move up, You have to get baggage move out
If you wanna be somebody, You have to be like everybody

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Friends, No More

Because we were used to be close friends and many people knew about it, it is inevitable that they will ask me Al's whereabouts whenever and wherever I see them. Even in social media, like facebook, our mutual friends would message me, "me balita ka ba kay Al?"
It's been about three years now after we parted ways. One article in this blog talked about Al whom I knew and befriended since our grade school. Since we were the only effeminate (though we kept ourselves in the closet then; hiding in the closet was because being gay in remote provinces like ours was believed to be demonic and thus tabooed) boys then, so we understood each other. Our friendship became stronger when we each had jobs. We party together along with some other friends, gays or girls behaving like gays mostly, all the time until I landed a job in Metro Manila. Years later he stayed in my place while hunting for work. Then later after having found and resigned from various jobs, he asked my help to venture into local manpower or recruitment agency for him to manage. And in two year's time, he ran off with my money and the business was shutdown. We have not spoken or met since then. I heard news from time to time about him; the latest was that he went home to our hometown few days before I visited home too. That was July 2012.
It was Windrow, another mutual friend whom we used to hangout with during our days in Surigao working, who asked the question this time. Despite the fact that he well knew about what went between Al and I, he posed the question. And later I found out that it was intended to open the subject. "I spoke to his parents," he added before I can answer the question. "Ma'am" was the courtesy added, our version of calling each other considering that we all have experienced to be a teacher or College instructor, in fact.
"Ow! So anong tsismis ngayon?" I took the turn to ask.
"Nagwork daw siya sa call center."
This is actually good news. Al has studied college in the same school where I graduated my BS Accountancy and had a 5-year stint as a Business college instructor (3 years fulltime, 2 years parttime). But he was not able to graduate for some reason I only heard about and I took it as a hearsay, gossip, backbite or make believe. That he was running from debts he owed from anybody, that he sold items or personal properties which aren't his, that he misappropriated the money given by his parents which was supposedly for his tuition fees.
These issues had died a natural death few years later and he returned to Surigao. That was when he and Windrow became friends. To my surprise, he was hired by AMA Computer College in Surigao as Physical Education teacher. I knew that he's an undergrad in Education and then we discovered that he faked somebody else's transcript of records in order to get in. In fact, Window was the endorser and his reference.
"Tagalog na call center?" Pun intended. We both knew that Al is bad in English, much less speaking the language. Throwing mud to each other’s reputation is our way of expressing love and friendship; laughing at each other's delinquencies or weaknesses.
Window did not take my bait and forewent my punchline. "But then Victor mentioned that Al dropped by your store," he said. I corrected him that it was my store no more. Victor is another mutual friend and one of my closest, whom I knew in college. I also invested in a Refreshment or Food and Snacks store around the school belt in Surigao city and let Victor manage it. It operated for a few years at a loss (that’s what he kept on reporting) and with huge debts. Then I decided to take my share (not actually not the whole share, not even the recovery of the capital) out. Up until now, he still holds the stores operation and I am glad for that. At least he still has something to do after being forced to resign by the company he worked with. "Yan ang hindi ko lubos maintindihan. Sabi ni Victor galing ng Saudi si Al. Habang sabi ng parents niya sa Manila lang daw. Call center." he added.
"So, you drop by Victor's store?" I reconfirmed.
"No, si Al daw. Yan ang chika ni Victor nung bumisita siya sa bahay ko. Then the following day, pumunta ako sa lugar nina Al kaya nakausap ko nanay niya. Di ko na alam kung ano ang totoo, alin ang tama."
"At mayaman na ba sila?" I threw another sarcastic enquiry. I heard from one of Al's neighbors informing that his parents' house is undergoing renovation. That coincided with the time Al ran off with my money from the manpower business.
"Na-surprise talaga ako, Ma'am, kasi ganun pa rin ang hitsura ng bahay nila," told Windrow. I remembered visiting Al's residence many times before. If it looked the same as old, then the concrete flooring is untiled (some section are earth actually), the tin roofing is rusty and about tp fall off, and the wooden walls is slowly decaying (thanks to termites). That led me to question the integrity of the news that reached me. That reminded me of how I shrugged off Al's excuse when I interrogated him about the money lost. He reasoned he was robbed during one payday we made. Maybe this story is true then. But it took him long enough to make up that excuse which render it irrelevant and thereby appeared an alibi. 
"So Ma'am di na talaga nagpakita si Al sa ‘yo?" asked Windrow. "'Cause it seems na wala ka ng update sa kanya." Good observation! Well, I find it easy and cool. Their absence won't remind me of how they abused my generosity, how they devalued my help to give them employment, for them to have work under no one's command and or supervision. I addressed this reflection to both Victor and Al. "How about Victor?” Windrow added. It was as if he heard my thoughts. “Kasi when I ask him about your partnership, sabi niya ikaw daw ang tatanungin ko.”
"No comment." I snapped. "All I can say is that I am blessed because I am graciously surviving." I did not know if the message is clear or this sentence is grammatically correct.
"I respect both answers, Ma'am. Naitanong ko lang dahil may investment kasing involved, di ba? Gusto ko lang maintindihan... Pero batid ko naman talagang hindi maayos ang pag-manage ni Victor sa store niyo." Windrow explained.
I started to heat up. I can't help but declared, "They both betray my trust and hence my friendship."
"That's the most painful effect, losing a friend that we think is genuine and worth for keeps."
"I used to choose my friends over my family because I have been living my beautiful life with gay friends. I chose these two because I considered them my sisters, real sisters, but they failed to impress me and even cheated me." We were inseparable, the three of us then, before Windrow came to Surigao. We were so close that even our parents knew each other.
"Well no regrets, Ma'am. Somehow, I succeeded keeping Victor stay in Surigao to care for nanay until her passing." When I was given part-time loads to teach in business colleges in Surigao City, I spent my overnights in Victor’s. And I pity Nanay, his mother, who despite her old age still cook suman (sort of rice cake rolled and wrapped in banana leaves) and sell them in the nearby public market’s sidewalk. Hoisting the whole bunch and basket of suman really feel heavy and only Victor can do that for her. His siblings, a brother and a sister who are all married, are residing reasonably far from the city. During the times that Victor was considering looking for jobs in Manila, I intercepted him and decided instead to put up a store in the city for him to manage; purportedly for him to stay in Surigao and remain at his mother’s side.
"I succeeded helping Al graduate in college," I continued. I am not entirely convinced he indeed graduated BS in Secondary Education, major in Physical Education, from the Rizal Technological University (RTU) in Mandaluyong City. But I claimed it to be my investment as well. When the local manpower agency I invested and he managed was still operational, Al enrolled in RTU. He told me he would love to complete his college degree while doing our business. Before I discovered that the business coffer is empty, he was then preparing for his graduation. I heard about his series of rehearsals for the graduation rites, that his Aunt, his father’s sister who resides in Quezon City, will be assisting him, and that the graduation will be held in the Philippine International Convention Center. Before and after that supposedly momentous event in his renewed life, I have not seen any toga, I have not seen any photographs taken from that occasion, I have not seen a diploma. Nothing in his facebook page will tell you about his graduating in college. All I knew was that he really went to college.
“What a sad experience! From there, you have to learn to move on and unleash your unwanted ill feelings for a friend who betrayed your trust and confidence,” advised Windrow.
“I believe God won’t be angry if I won’t reconnect to them.”
“For you to be happy again in another dimensions of friendship, “he explained, “I don't mean for you to reconnect. What is important is learn from within to forgive.”
“I have nothing to forgive, though. I have no one to forgive because nobody asks for one.”
“Even though they don’t ask, just forgive it from within your heart.”
My heart is always red, so full of love. I have no hang-ups. I don’t have excess baggage.” I am doing great! I have work and money! I seemed to be robbed by them both but I survived the robbery and recovered. I am still standing and holding my heads high. “I have loved them dearly when they were once in my life,” I told Windrow. “And now that they're no longer with me, they’re no longer trustworthy, so then I have nothing for them.”
I really cannot define how deep your friendship was and your intimacy as real sisters because you were old friends before I arrived.”
“I knew who they are and how ugly were their pasts and their personalities. But I have embraced them fully and unconditionally despite that. And sadly, even I was a victim of their ugliness.” I may describe things in general perspective but Windrow understood what I meant. Basically because he was also a victim of Al’s deceitfulness. “I thought I was exempted,” I concluded. So was he, I believe.
“Despite my bad experience with Al, still I was hoping he will change.” I took it that he has forgiven Al. Obviously, yes, because they still see and talk after that. And he wanted me to do the same.
He won’t!” I snapped one more time. “There was this police blotter before during our college days. He embezzled and sold a personal property of somebody else, which he only borrowed. And then he was subjected to this barangay dispute committee hearing for misappropriating a cash collection of a direct selling company, which he also posed as an agent,” I told Windrow. This is the time of reckoning, recounting Al’s trespasses.
Then he had misrepresentation to AMA Computer College,” Windrow responded. His turn to tell the tale. “Despite that, Sir Jun and I still accommodated him and gave him work in the TESDA office to give him another chance. But then again he manipulated the research’s test results. Then even during his stint as DJ in Malimono’s FM station, the owner has claimed that Al has misused the company’s motorcycle. I was informed that he made it his personal service vehicle.”
“Remember, he even cheated his parents. He misappropriated their monies which were supposed to be payment for his tuition fees. So I don’t wonder why he cheated you.” There was overpricing made by Al about Windrow’s apartment. He relayed that Al has added about 50 thousand pesos on top of the unit selling price. Windrow’s sister, Wheerani, was so mad to Al, declaring that she was so right to distrust him.
“Parang naka-pito na si bakla. Seven grave sins ba ito?” I joked. “Baka pusa itong si Al, meron siyang many chances… Don’t tell me he has nine chances to make mistakes; nine times of swindling?” And we shared a laughed, sending each other smileys.
“Wag naman sana… I wish them well though,” popped Windrow’s message. That includes Al and Victor.
Exactly! Me, too.”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cancelled Trips Overseas

First was China.

It was not because of the boundary conflict, but because I was denied of tourist visa. It was not really denied; my bank account maintaining balance did not meet the minimum requirement. In short, and I conclude, the tourist trip to mainland China is an opportunity or shall I say luxury of the elite. Poor tourists and backpackers like me which only set specific funds for a specific purpose such as trip like this had no opportunity for tourist travel to this country.

Taking advantage of the promo plane fare by the Cebu Pacific Air, I got the roundtrip ticket 6 months advance. My  Manila - Beijing ticket only cost me a thousand and a hundred pesos. My return ticket Shanghai - Manila cost me almost the same amount of pesos. So it was so affordable and was I think a special treat for myself.

Been wishing to climb, trot, take a pic of the famous Great Wall in Beijing. Been dreaming to step on the only man-made structure visible in the outer space. Been wondering how it feels like when I am actually at the tourist spot where most films plotted in China were shot. Been hoping to experience the bullet train travel down south to Shanghai. Been thinking of capturing the wonder of the extremes between the preserved heritage in Beijing and the modernization in Shanghai. This was supposedly my itinerary.

Second was Indochina.

There is no need of visa. Thus the cancellation was a different thing.

Same with China, I already got a roundtrip ticket for my Indochina tour. I availed of the cheap flights of Cebu Pacific Air. I planned to start the me-week travel in Hanoi then cross the border to Laos and then through Bangkok. I have been to Vietnam twice but only Saigon; this will be my first in the northeastern part of the country. I have been to Bangkok once, but have not reach all important tourist destinations. This was supposedly my first trip to Lao PDR. My tickets Manila - Hanoi and Bangkok - Clark cost around three thiusand pesos.

Wishing to complete my Asia-Pacific, my itinerary included an overnight cruise to Halong Bay, a green themed layover at Loang Prabang, and a photoshoot in Ayutthaya. But the plan did not push through because of the nature of my new consultancy contract. Had I been with DSWD still,  leaving the office in exchange for a personally-declared holiday would be easier. Unfortunately, I left DSWD then and joined a group of consultants for DepEd project, which just started that time. So leaving the work was very difficult and kinda off yet.

I kept a record of these misses, so that I can keep track of them in my future overseas trips. Funny enough, these two cancelled trips were both scheduled in August. The supposed China tour was scheduled in August 2012, and the Indochina was in August 2013. Hope the jinx shall breaks because I have India trip in August 2014.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Arrival of An Angel

An Angel arrived in our family and we named her JC Bella!

Proud to be practicing my neonatal care skills with my little niece, Wanwan! Dipping her on a basin of lukewarm water, wiping her whole body my hands with water and baby bath soap, repositioning her supine then prone, and yet seeing her enj...oying the whole rite, was such a fulfilling and surreal experience. She's definitely aptly called Wanwan: An Amazing Angel!

Nicknaming her Wanwan is based on that AAA alliteration. Wan is how we pronounce the count of 1... Wan is how we call our friends named Juan and her father is named thus... Uttering the word "Wan" twice is how we express our word of endearment...

Wanwan really means first and only one.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Dada Died!

I only see her during my old age. I only knew her because she used to visit my mom. Tiya Dada, we called her; though my mother insisted that we should call her Nanay Dada. She is actually my mother's distant Aunt.

I heard few stories about her and the most reliable, I should say, among them is the story relayed to us by my elder brothers. All I got from them are bad testimonies of her, even from my parents.

It was known that she was once very affluent. Her family owned a passenger boat, had a mansion in Siargao island. And she was known to be mata-pobre - she looked down or scorned poor people. My siblings experienced spending a night sleep in the boat because they were never given an accommodation inside the mansion, when once they visited there with our parents. I was kinda fortunate not able to experience such maltreatment. My parents and our family somehow belonged to the category poor people, and we humbly accept that.

As relayed by my mother, Tiya Dada's affluence started to decline after being robbed. The robbery resulted to the death of their only daughter, gunned down by the thieves. They later sold their mansion... adopted a boy child... resettled in the city of Surigao. This I remembered, their adopted child was schooled at the known pricey Chinese School... they owned and managed a automotive shop... owned a operated a line of public utility tricycles... and rented out a boarding house for college students. Our eldest brother stayed with them, worked as one of their helpers, while studying and completing his college diploma.

Then, Tiya Dada's husband suffered stroke and later died... sold all their assets and stopped doing business... got old while her adopted went away, lost contact with, and disowned her... ended up a helper of any family in her and my mother's side.

During the last stretch of her years, she stayed at my parents house. In fact, she occupied or we let her occupy a room in the house I built for my parents. But she indeed performed household chores to help my mom. She stayed with my parents for quite a time, until one time that they decided to share the load of caring for the old lady to other relatives - those relatives she used to mingle during the years of comfort and luxury. My parents sent Tiya Dada off to our relatives in the city proper. This move was related to my parents plan to pay us a visit in Manila. But then one day, she was transported by a Rescue Team and deposited by her relatives back to my parents' house and hence homecare. As my parents retold, the old lady appeared unkempt, thin and abandoned, even smelled of dried urine, rancid clothes, and garbage.

This move has shaken our plan of flying our parents to Manila. We propose to take them away from our residence to give them break from usual chores and strenuous activities in the nearby farm. Further, we wanted to rid them of caring the old lady because they are also old, sickly and fragile. We don't want them to worry much, primarily on bothering themselves to care for Tiya Dada. We later heard that Papa changed the old lady's clothes and linens, Mama washed the used clothes and linens. They even fed her, bathe her.

So my brothers, my sister and I decided to hire and pay somebody for the old lady's care while Papa and Mama are with us in Manila. Their visit is scheduled in August.

And Tiya Dada died today at 6pm... She is finally rested! Good for her!

Our family arranged the burial, and everything related to it. She was laid to rest on top of our grandfather's tomb, her relative, which tomb my parents had built one for her. Without much ado, the internment immediately followed the next day.

May Tiya Dada rest in eternal peace for I knew she had suffered a lot already!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Kwento: Serbis Akong Tunay

"Cge na naman plzz. Payag naman ako sa gusto mo. Kailangan ko lang talaga ng pera. Cge na naman. Mamasahiin pa kita. Parang awa mo na plzz." Message sent, tambad ng celpon ko...

Susugalan ko 'to. Kailangan ko talaga ng pera ngayon. Nangungulit na naman ang girlfriend kong mag-date kami. Nakukulitan na ako pero hindi ko kayang tanggihan dahil kababalik lang namin. Due date ko na rin sa buwanang globe plan ko.

Maarte itong baklang 'to. Pero kailangan ko siyang pagbigyan. Siya nalang naiwang kleyente ko. Sabagay, meron pang iba, pero siya ang maayos. May trabaho... at sa tingin ko, maganda ang trabaho niya... at sa palagay ko, malaki sahod niya. May sariling bahay. Napuntahan ko na yon, dalawang beses. Alam ko na pa'no pumunta dun... kahit ayawan niya ako, pwede ko siyang dalawin.

At may itsura. Di ko akalaing may itsura si Cris. Natatawa ako pag naalala ko... iniisip ko kasing pangit siya. Maarte kasi! Nung isang taon ko pa siya kinokontak, panay lang ayaw... wala daw siya, babyahe daw siya, wala daw siyang pera, may boyfriend daw siya. Kung anu-ano nalang ang dinadahilan. "Nag-iinarte, pangit naman!" sinasabi ko sa sarili ko. Pare-pareho kasi lahat ng naghahanap ng Serbis. Sila 'yong mga walang pumapatol dahil pangit... kung 'di man masyadong pangit pero mataba,malaking mama, matanda.

Isang gabi, Pebrero nun, tumunog Samsung Galaxy S4 ko. May mensahe, galing pala kay Cris. "Helo MJ, pwd k b bukas ng gabi? My ipapagalaw ak s 'yo... kaibigan ko & bago p nyang ntanggap pgkabakla nya. Gus2 ko ipatikim mo sa knya ang sarap ng lalaki." Siguro inisip niyang pangit ako kaya ayaw niyang siya ang pagalaw. Sira ulo siya! May itsura rin naman ako. Alam ko, dahil maraming nagsasabi.

Sa SM North Edsa daw kami magkikita. Tineks ko siya na nasa mall na ako bago pa lang pumasok ang sinakyan kong bus sa babaan. Sagot ba naman sa akin, "basta por handred ha?" Siguristang bakla! Mababa nga yon eh. Siguro sa parlor to nagtatrabaho... o kaya mananahi... o retired na walang ipon... o walang trabaho. Estudyante? Ewan! Matawagan na nga... "Saan 'yang KFC na sinabi mo? Dito na ako sa loob ng mall. Lalabas ako? Saan ba yang d block na yan? Papasok ako sa gitna? Di ko alam yan! Sige, sunduin mo nalang ako dito sa Pollo Loco. Naka-tshirt akong orange."

Alam kong siya na 'tong papalapit at nakatitig sa akin. Naka-longslib 'to, formal... bagay sa kanya. May itsura pala. "MJ?" bungad niyang tanong, "naku umayaw ang kaibigan ko. Natakot yata! Pa'no yan?" kwento niya. Sus, maniwala! Gawa-gawa lang siguro niya kasi akala niya pangit ako at ayawan niya kung saka-sakali.

Pero paano nga kung totoong umayaw? Uuwi ako ng Pasay ng walang kinikita? Gumastos na ako ng pamasahe para makarating dito... ang layo pa naman! Singwenta pesos ang pamasahe kaya, mahal! "E, di ikaw nalang," alok ko. Ok siya, tinitigan ko eh... malinis naman din siya... bata pa. Pinapatolan ko nga walang itsura, matatanda, mababaho... Basta may pera! Mukha rin naman siyang may pera.

"Ok lang sa 'yo?" tanong niya pa. Tango ko naman. "Lika," yaya niya sa akin. Sinundan ko siyang palabas ng mall at pumila sa pilahan ng dyip.

Dumaan ang tatlumpong minuto na byahe ng dyip. Magkatabi kami sa pag-upo pero walang imikan maliban sa paminsan-minsang ngiti. Nahiya rin naman akong magkwento. Baka nahiya rin sya. O baka takot syang mapansin kami ng mga kasabayan namin sa dyip.

"Sa me Manggahan overpass lang po, Ma, " sabi niya sa drayber.

Pinauna ko siya sa pagbaba. Sinabayan ko siya sa pagtawid ng tulay. Ibig sabihin sa kabila pa. Senyas niya sa pilahan ng traysikel. Ibig sabihin malayo pa pala at sasakay pa ulit kami. "Malapit na lang," sagot niya sa iniisip kong tanong.


Bumaba kami sa may geyt papasok sa madaming lumang gusali. Sinundan ko lang din siya nang pumasok sa isang gusali tapos sa susunod. Umakyat kami ng tatlong palapag at ang pintuan sa may bandang emergensi eksit ang sinusian niya. Di ko natandaan ang daan na 'to nung unang pagkakataon.

"Magkano upa mo rito?" tanong ko.

"Wala. Akin 'to." Ok to! May sariling tirahan. Hindi naman magara pero hindi nakakahiya at di rin nakakailang.

"Sino kasama mo?"

"Ako lang. Minsan bumibisita kapatid ko." Mas ok to!

Iniwan niya ako sa sala, pagkatapos magkikilanlan at maghapunan. Pinag-internet niya ako; meron kasi siyang wifi. Masarap tumambay rito at nagamit ko nang lubos ang bago kong Galaxy pon.

Di ko namalayan, mag-aalas onse na pala nung tinawag niya ako sa kwarto. Nakapagligo na pala siya. Nagmamadali akong pumasok ng banyo para maghugas ng buong katawan. Nasa kama na si Cris nung nadatnan ko at nakaramdam ako ng kaba. Sabi ko sa sarili kong madali lang to, lagi ko nang ginagawa ko. Inisip kong mabilis lang to... At tinabihan ko siya sa malambot niyang kama.

"Sige na, paligayahin mo na ako," aniya, sabay hatak ng ulo ko papuntang dibdib niya.

"Uy, ibang klase pala trip mo!" sabi ko sa kanya habang nakapatong ako sa kanya.

"Kala ko kaya mong gawin lahat?"

Dito ako lalong kinabahan. Kala ko kasi tulad siya ng karamihan na ako ang ginagalaw nila... katawan ko ang sinamantala nila. Pero pera ang habol ko... pera niya. Sa ganitong paraan lang ang alam kong mabilis kumita. "Ok. Pahingi pamunas." Bumangon siya at isang sandali pa'y inabot niya na sa akin ang puting labakara.

Inumpisahan kong dilaan ang utong niya sa kaliwa... tumatalikwas at nanunulak siya. "Makiliti ako!" bunyag niya sabay tulak ng ulo ko pababa. Ok na rin to at hindi ako masyadong mapagod. Buti at ayaw niya ng porpley. Tiisin ko nalang ang sikmura ko. May pamunas naman... para di niya mapansing naduduwal ako sa ginagawa ko. Ganito rin pinagawa niya at ginagawa ko sa kanya nung ikalawang beses nang aming pagtagpo.

Pangatlong beses ngayon. Kailangan ko siya... ang pera niya, ang ibig kong sabihin. "Titirahin kita, ok lang sau?" sagot niyang teks sa akin.

Wala akong ibang maisip na gawin para magkapera. Wala akong ibang mapupuntahan. Wala na akong kontak sa dati kong mga siniserbisyohan. Ni minsan di pa nila ako tinanong ng ganun. Masakit daw yong ganun kasi. Hindi ko pa nasubukang ibigay ang ganung serbisyo.

Sa kay Cris pa lang.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Who must be my Senators?

I posted this status in my Facebook few days before the 2013 National Elections in the Philippines:
I would like to reiterate the time to discern the best lawmakers for the good of our beloved nation. My list of 12 Senators I believe can bring in new good things follows:
  1. Aquino 
  2. Angara
  3. Cayetano
  4. Escudero
  5. Gordon 
  6. Hagedorn
  7. Hontiveros
  8. Pimentel
  9. Poe
  10. Trillanes
  11. Villanueva 
  12. Zubiri

Please vote also, my dear FBarkadas! Let's exercise our right of suffrage!
No Enrile or Villar nor Ejercito; enough for Magsaysay and Legarda!!!
Few days later, the results come out and the newly elected Senators are the following:
  1. Poe
  2. Legarda
  3. Escudero
  4. Cayetano
  5. Binay
  6. Angara 
  7. Aquino
  8. Pimentel
  9. Trillanes
  10. Villar
  11. Ejercito
  12. Honasan
As can be seen, 7 of my senatorial bets have landed in the top 12. 3 of my disliked candidates have indeed caught a spot.

When I checked on their educational background of the first 11 (since the 12th spot is still contestable considering that the counting has not yet closed), I found the following:

  • Poe, a grad of polsci from Boston College; 
  • Legarda, a polsci grad (cum laude) from UP; 
  • Escudero, a Master in Intl & Comparative Law from Georgetown Univ;
  • Cayetano, a Juris Doctor from ADMU; 
  • Binay, a BS Tourism grad from UP; 
  • Angara, Masters of Law from Harvard; 
  • Aquino, grad of ADMU and Harvard; 
  • Pimentel, bar topnotcher with doctoral degree from PUP; 
  • Trillanes, PMA cum laude with masters from UP; 
  • Ejercito, polsci grad from La Salle; 
  • Villar, UP grad

Monday, April 29, 2013

Decisions that may Make or Break You

One time when I was window-shopping, I happened to spread out a T-shirt with print that says, "Don't grow up; It's a trap!" I managed a simple guffaw. Precisely because I knew it personally to be always true.

My Professional Record

I believed I am a very responsible person, notwithstanding some irresponsible undertakings I have had in my whole life by far. When I am given the chance to prove myself, I hold on and see to it that I am very much responsible for everything that comes with it. I am not a university graduate but I can compete with any of them. At work, I perform my job beyond what is expected of me. But historically, of my 15 professional years, I have recorded an average of two years in working with an organization. Check my professional record in italicized fonts below:

  • As a College Instructor with Saint Paul University Surigao = 3 years full time; 2 years parttime
  • As the Municipal Accountant of Municipal government of Anao-aon, Surigao del Norte = 2 years
  • As a Financial Analyst with Department of Finance (DOF)'s Community-Based Resource Management Project (CBRMP) = 10 months
  • As the MDF Accountant with Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)'s Agraria Reform Communities Project (ARCP) = 4 years and 8 months
  • As the Senior Finance Officer with Department of Agriculture (DA)'s Infrastructure for Rural Enhancement Sector (InfRES) Project = 1 year
  • As an Accounting and Financial Analyst of Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) with US Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Philippine Water Resource Fund-Support Program (PWRF-SP) = 2 years
  • As a Community Financial Analyst with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)'s Kalahi-CIDSS Project = almost 2 years now
See that last bold, italic words above? I am once again close to my "deadline" and confronted with doubt, confusion, or a crossroad - the decision time whether to stay or move out. I really need to diversify, find some spices in my work, look for an outlet to rid of the monotony in my present professional life. What made me last more than 2 years with DAR's ARCP was because I went to nursing school at weeknights and did hospital works at weekends. My undergraduate-once-again studies kept me busy and focused; the boredom with my work's routine was kept in abeyance.
It is not only monotony that challenged me every time the second year of working in one office comes near. It is also the pouring of blessings altogether at almost the same time. This is my present dilemma. Thus I offered a personal prayer at my Facebook page for a week to invite my friends to say it with me.
Lord, thank you for the many blessing you showered upon me. Thank you for giving me work and workmates who accepted my professional personality, seen the potential in me, and trusted me much works to do. Thank you for giving me enough choices in life, about work, even accounting fields to specialize. July 2013 is too close for me to make up my mind and so I beseech you. Give me your grace of enlightenment to weigh stuffs and come up with a better choice. You have given me too much gift, primarily the love of work, and I cannot thank you enough. This all I ask in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of Mother Mary. Amen.

When it rains, it pours!
When I joined the consultancy service, I have established a name of my own. Having worked religiously and which work has exceeded my bosses' and my colleagues' expectations, I have left an indelible mark in their hearts and minds. My mentors along with my already friends (former bosses and colleagues) have been referring me to more consultancy works since we parted ways after working together for an average of two years (as described above). Those indelible marks and personal referrals had me enlisted as consultant with some consulting firms.

One of them is my former company, the DAI with submitted bid for the upcoming USAID project in water sector. I was asked to submit my updated curriculum vitae for a slot as STTA or short-term technical assistance consultant. Another consulting firm headed by my Senior Expert that I worked with in Department of Budget and Management for a month's contract also listed my name as part of their roster of consultants; this time I was given a long-term position. This firm also bids for the same upcoming USAID project. As per information given to me, the said project will hopefully be awarded anytime soon and shall start in August 2013. The companies are giving me P2,600 rate per day.

Early this year, I got a call from somebody named Patrick. He told me that I was referred to their Irish consulting firm as somebody with ample experience in local/public financial management. He offered me a slot in their bid for a contract with the DepEd project, primarily on Unified Account Coding System, Treasury Single Account, and Asset Management. He informed me that I will be working with a group of international consultants to design a Financial Management Information System. The initial offer was Aus$1700 per month which I bargained for Aus$2,000, but he only agreed at Aus$1,850 monthly, gross of application taxes. The contract of service will be good for 12 months and is expected to commence as early as May 2013 or as late as July 2013.

Currently, I am connected with Kalahi-CIDSS (KC) Project of DSWD, funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), as a Community Financial Analyst (CFA) paid at P50,000 a month. Then the original Kalahi-CIDSS is being scaled up and soon to be called NCDDP or National Community-Driven Development Program which shall start in July 2013. I was actively involved in the preparation workshops for the program and only lately that I learned I will be given a post in the new staffing structure. In short, I will be moved from MCC-funded project with a promise (hopefully!) of a higher rate, which rate I don't know yet how much. This new program will run until year 2019.

Weighing Scale

Within these few days, I kept checking myself and referring my case to some friends and family. I first checked with Ms. Lee, my counterpart CFA who's salary is charged under World Bank - the funder of the original Kalahi-CIDSS Project. I asked her how much would be the monthly rate of the position, which she is presently occupying, that I will be taking in when I work with NCDDP. She told me she doesn't know but definitely higher than my current rate. She is given another position higher than our position today, that is the National Financial Analyst (NFA). Then later she shared me her second thoughts of confirming the new position, which will definitely involve administrative matters. This move will definitely affect my decision.

I also talked to Ms. Nanette, one of my mentors and former chief in DAR-ARCP. She used to be one of my personal references in my curriculum vitae, the one I sent to the Irish consulting (AARC) firm who submitted bid to DepEd project. That firm, as she confirmed, also contacted Ms. Nanette for the same position they offered me. She even offered the Aus$2,000 monthly rate. We discussed many things related to this offer whether the firm will contract the both of us or either one of us. This definitely shook my decision in addition to the silence of this consultancy firm as to the Terms of Reference (TOR) we both have been asking since this Patrick called us.

I sought an advice from Ms. Chi, the Kalahi-CIDSS Deputy National Project Manager. I laid to her my story and she told me to stay with the project for there is only few consultants who have the experience in CDD, which is trending nowadays and will definitely shape the future in community development and national planning here and abroad. My length of stay would give me edge in the future. I believe she's right. Her counsel will have huge impact in my decision-making.

My premature decision before the exchange of emails below was this: No matter how attractive my resume would appear, to have IFMIS listed in my related experience, I would put to risk my regular income. Because such handsome pay will only last for 11 months while staying with Kalahi-CIDSS, whether under NCDDP or MCC, will last my monthly pay of P50,000 up until June 2016.

The person who has greatly affected my premature decision of staying with my present job came from the suggestion of my sister, En. She told me that I can no longer risk my long-term monthly income by jumping here and there because I have plenty of regular, as in monthly, obligations. Those are from utility bills to credit cards, and of course to my car loan amortization. She is definitely right. Had I not tied up with these monthly obligations with reasonable amount, I would easily change jobs any time, every time. That following holiday (May 1), we talked about it heart to heart, weighing things carefully, until we settled at one condition - that when the AARC firm grants me the Aus$2,000 monthly rate, I will take the offer.

Ah! I am so confused!

Just Asking, Not Basking

Immediately after talking things with my sister En, I emailed the AARC saying,
The work is interesting; I am really considering about being part of it. I only wonder which of the 3 slots for local accountants I will be accommodated? Hope my asking rate of 2,000 monthly rate be granted and I am willing to get on board. This small demand is primarily due to short period (12 months) of contract which I will exchange with another upcoming project which promised a 6-year term.

And the reply was a big YES! This further leads to another confusion, a consideration that requires major and hard decision. Now, I have to know the other offer, before I counter the big YES with my version of Yes. I have no other way of confirming but to write the KC Project's Financial Management Specialist, Madam Lalaine. My email goes like this:

I am sorry to write you very personal letter. I am better at writing down my thoughts and feelings than pronouncing them in an open and personal manner. Been thinking about asking you these following questions. Have asked Ms. Lee some of them but I believe you're the right person to ask about. 
1. Is it true that I will be given the CFA post in NCDDP? During the preparation of staffing plan, it was directed to put my name in the CFA slot and Lee's name in NFA's.  
2. How much is the monthly rate for the NCDDP's CFA? Considering the larger coverage, I believe the rate is a little higher than my present rate with MCC. But I want to know exact figures of how "little higher" it differs from my P50,000. 
3. When taking the post in January 2014, will the full rate applicable to the position be granted wholly to me? 
Well, Lee has second thoughts of vacating the position. But in case I will indeed take the position, which I believe would commence in January 2014, will I be eligible to also take the new monthly rate? Or I will still be subject to 5% increment as I step up in the organization?
I am sorry again if all I talked about is money. I am on my 2nd year already with the KC-MCC Project and though my asking rate (when I was hired) was not yet granted, I am still surviving and thankful for the opportunity. Now, I just want to also consider the compensation when transferring from MCC to NCDDP, because when the difference is insignificant, I guess I would rather stay with MCC. That unless I have other offers in-or outside (hopefully) the DSWD. 
Hard Decision

The answer came in the midday and it revealed several uncertainties. Ms. Lalaine said that there is no finality in all that have transpired in the workshops. I cannot tell which is not final, my move from MCC to NCDDP or the increase in my professional fee.

I felt it unfair that some consultants hired and charged under KC-MCC have granted salary increase while I expect to be given due even just now after spending 2 years with the organization. These consultants, I should say, cheated their increase by simply putting the new rate in the new contract without prior discussions with whoever must approve it. When I joined the organization I humbly accepted the P50,000 way low than my previous rate with non-government organization. My P55,000 asking rate was not even granted because it is the way it is when you're new. I am waiting a word that even P60,000 monthly rate will be accorded to me by January 2014 and I will stay with KC. Unfortunately, nothing is certain.

This and more (which better left unsaid) are instrumental to arriving at my conclusion and propelled me to finally decide what to me is easier job, bigger remuneration and bolder move. I plan to tender my resignation on or before June 3.

It is really hard to grow up. You will be alone in battling for living. You will be carrying the yoke of too much responsibility. Had I known it early in my childhood, I won't choose growing up. It is indeed a trap!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

True Love Waits... Yes?

5th year anniversary celebration

True love sucks! Big time!

Love for real is unfair; it is always one sided. You will find yourself loving someone who cannot love you back the way you love him or a kind of love you expect him to reciprocate. But if you love that person to the depth of your heart, mind and body, then you are so willing to wait. That befell on me.

5 years later, our partnership still stands despite the many challenges
So here I am hoping, waiting and still loving unconditionally.

I happened to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with a man who's definitely gay but lives in a closet. I believe he fully embraced his gayness but he seemed to hide it from everyone he knew from work. He made it an excuse that the high school students he is teaching math would find him queer. Being a confirmed gay teacher he felt would put his integrity at risk and may subject him to children's mock and ridicule. I got it that he wanted to save his face. But hello! This is 21st century and it is common to see gay grade school or high school or college teachers. Well, ok, I did not argue on his disposition. He chose to hide his true self.

I once suffered the same closeting behaviors during my high school years when I was pressured to save my face, from my clan who knew no gay in the family, from my boy friends who kept matching me up with a girl, from the school admin who are priests and nuns, and the general public who were bucolic and found gayness a taboo. When I came to realize what I will miss if I stayed closeted, I owned my gayness, I embraced my uniqueness, I loved my girlishness. It is when I am truly me that I maximized my full potential, that I can show off exemplary performance in every thing I do.

Anent to living my true self, I was entering into same sex relationships. My first notion of relating sexually was for gay persons to choose real men. Then after couple of straight men in my life, I felt lost and wondering how unfair it had been; the world and the men towards me. But I learned much from it and think of rather loving my own self. But then comes the real one, the real feeling, the real sense of love. I really thought I already have had enough in my past. It was entirely a different world when I encountered Erick. It was surreal to love and be loved in return. I really thought I have it all with him. We have been steady for five years now, but those years were not perfect ones.

During our Tuesday coffee dates with Fabulous friends in Cubao, Quezon City

I found him to be two-timer, a staunch player, a reliable liar. I even called him to his face a user, hooker, promiscuous. I understand he's not perfect as I am. But I did not fully involve myself and my feelings with the persons I happened to flung with while we were a couple. I may not be faithful but he's unfaithfulness was beyond me. I caught him, not really caught in the act but he confessed, having a lover (mistress) in our first year and during our first attempt to live together. It broke me to the bones. I remembered that moment that I packed all my things from his place to get home. He even sent me off to ride a bus; seen him over the window crying for me. Then four hours later, in the middle of the night, he knocked on my door asking for a second chance. He declared that he chose me over that unknown Atenista. He has this passion for known-university-graduate, Ateneo in his first list, which basically means rich and hopefully brilliant. Yet, he chose me. I am not a university graduate nor rich, but I believe I am brilliant.

We finally have close encounter with our Disney character,
Winnie d' Pooh, during our Hong Kong trip

We decided to live in together and that was a very long two years. I realized how demanding it is to build a home or trying to maintain that status with your partner. It made me embrace the idea of legal separation, annulment or divorce, when two people who loved each other cannot live together forever. Such responsibility and the duty to remain a responsible partner at the same time living your own life and maintaining your separate identity has taken a great deal to each of us. We lived together for two years but we ended up choking each other with so much expectations. We decided we can no longer compromise. So we came into agreement to live a home separate from each other. I transferred to my apartment in Commonwealth, Quezon City, which fortunately near my new workplace, and he rented a room in Mandaluyong City, close to the school he's working with.

I have made up my mind that the parting really meant break up. But we kept our lines open, we met once in a while, I mean regularly at weekends. He even paid me visits at my new office. Until one day, his lover called me on my cellphone. This was his second other man. And to add insult to injury, this one was his colleague, co-HS-Math-teacher, in the school he worked. It woke me up to the truth as to why he kept me away from that school, from being introduced to his colleagues. It was because he has an affair with another Sir. All those times I thought he made it because he really lived in a closet.

During our trip to Saigon, Vietnam
I was hoping I can call it quits between us with a final declaration. Well, I already have said my goodbyes. I was brokenhearted for the second time. He owned his misdeed and apologized. I wish to counter. I wish to splatter stains on his integrity. I wish to bury his dignity to the ground. But I love him so much that to crush him down will crush me similarly. Love really is unfair, loving is never fair nor square.

But look at us, we survived; I survived. Five years had come and gone and my love for him grows every day. I have this intuition that waiting is really worth it, no matter how long it could be. That one day, same gravity of love, same degree of compassion, will be reciprocated. Day by day, I just treasure the moment that he calls and leaves with I love Yous, Hellos and Goodnites! I marvel at the text messages of love and laughs, emote icons, and the text-kisses "mwah".

Loving and hurting is indeed the two sides of the same coin! I swear I will love him no matter what!

That's me, crazy Crissy! I cannot help it...

Friday, April 12, 2013

DICK-TIONARY of KC Positions

I learned these sensual definition of the acronyms used to refer to positions in the KC Project's staffing structure from my good friends in the project. They are supposed to be punchlines and not intended to offend anyone.

Kudos to the authors, most importantly Sis Clare Logronio and Sis Laida Tamam!

The selected positions generally assigned to Field Offices are defined as follows:

RPC = Regional Penis Custodian
CPS = Community Penetrating Sexologist
RCDS = Regional Cat- and Dog-style Specialist
RIE = Regional Intercourse Expert
RCIS = Regional Copulation and Intercourse Specialist
FA = Fucking Assistant
RFA = Regional Fucking Analyst
SMO = Sex Maniac Organizer
M&EO = Masturbation and Ejaculation Officer
AS = Addicted to Sex

Even the signature process of people empowerment has wild definition:

CEAC = Copulation and Erection Activity Cycle

Now, apart from defining some acronyms, the abovementioned word magicians have the following punchlines:

ADAN = the very First Accountant... because he made the first entry
EVA = the very First Engineer... because she made the first erection