Back in Those Days

Had a chat with a friend the other day, about life and work in general. We’ve both been working for more than a decade in our respective careers and there’s one thing that we noticed. Well, I don’t know if we’re just growing old or it’s just that today’s youth are really quite different now. Back in the old days, we were used to hard work, breaking our backs to get the job done and with no complaints. We weren’t even paid that much! (I for one started with a salary just a little over minimum wage.)

Yep, our generation didn’t have it easy. We were at work on time and went home by the next sunrise. We sweated over every single ad that came out, be it a full campaign or the smallest ear ad or flyer. There was no such thing as a “just get it over and done with” kind of ad, the one that you let go knowing there’s no award waiting at the end of it. Each piece had to come out as decent as possible bearing in mind that no matter what happens to it, your name and your company’s reputation are at stake. There were no short cuts, no instant way to fame. We relished the victories that were so much sweeter, so much more fulfilling because we earned them through hard work and with our integrity intact.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not passing judgment on any young individual trying to find his/her place in the workforce. Maybe, it’s just a matter of changing priorities and the myriad of choices that seem to be more available now. Young workers jump from one job to the next until they find the best one for them. And it might not be the highest paying job, it could be the least painful, the one that with the more flexible schedule, the one with more travel opportunities, or whichever can quickly bring them closer to the fulfillment they seek. Maybe they’re really much wiser and I might just be an old-fashioned fool. Still, I believe unless you’re terribly lucky, you have to pay your dues before you can enjoy any amount of success. Or maybe I’m simply growing old.

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Do the Bambi

I logged back in WordPress and got held up reading entries from other bloggers. It seems the Desperate Housewives issue has really caused quite a stir. I had read about it from Lilit Reyes’ blog complete with YouTube clip. People from that part of world would argue, freedom of speech. They after all say anything and everything about their President on national TV. That said, it’s countrymen dissing fellow countrymen. If it’s the French dissing the American, then that’s another story. Months ago, the Iranian people were in uproar over how the movie 300 depicted old Persia. And now this. But it’s heartening to read comments from American bloggers that they are as annoyed as we are with Teri Hatcher’s controversial line. So it’s not surprising that many Filipinos are upset.

“The truth hurts” is a phrase that I would think, is not so true when we are concerned: The truth doesn’t hurt that much. Well, I speak for myself and all the Filipinos I personally know and know well. When we’re accused of something that’s true, we feel embarrassed, but we accept it, and then we can actually laugh and joke about it. But when accused falsely, that’s when we really get hurt, our personal integrity is being questioned. And when you’re from a poor country lacking in material riches, your principles and beliefs, and all the intangibles that make up who you are like dedication, strength of character and a clean conscience, these are the things that keep your head up high.

I think this issue is more than about our national pride getting a beating. It gets personal as almost every Pinoy would have a friend or relative who is in the medical field and an OFW (myself included), and we all know of the sacrifices they have to make for the sake of their families. We also know that they are valued abroad, not only for their hard work but also for their competence and compassionate nature.Apologies have been sent out. Some say it’s not enough. But knowing how we are, we’ll forgive and forget, like how we seemed to have collectively forgotten about the Marcoses.

Anyway, things like these remind me of the animated feature Bambi, where Bambi was being told by Mum (or was it Thumper),”If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.” There you have it. Straight from the mouth of an all- American baby deer.

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A lesson about living from the dying.

There are times when I complain about not being given enough time to make a decent campaign. And then I met those who only had a few weeks to live.

That was the thought running in my head while my partner and I got involved in a charity project for hospice care. We spent several weeks talking to patients and their families, caregivers, nurses and hospice staff. It was emotionally draining to say the least (in a way, it dampened my happy birthday mood). Although, death is not an alien concept in my family, having a few loved ones who had passed on, I still can’t help being affected by the reality that surrounded me. Death looming on every bed. Casting it’s shadow on an old man abandoned by his family. Playing hide and seek with a 3-year-old girl who’s just learning to play with other children like her. Yes there were children and old folks, and people my age. All with terminal illness and given a prognosis of 6 months or less. Yet in spite of their condition, they manage to laugh and find joy in the littlest of things. You’d think in a place where futures are measured in mere months, hope is the last thing you’ll find. But no. We found it in the patients whose faces light up when we take their pictures, in the caregivers and nurses who speak with so much love for what they do and the people they care for.

And here we are, most of the time, consumed by work and bills. Thinking our work is the most important job and the world. Defining our lives by the amount of recognition we receive. Pursuing happiness with every swipe of our credit cards. (And starting each sentence with a participle. Intense emotions really do things to my brain…)

An exercise like this truly gives one a different perspective. What it also does is prepare yourself for that final journey. For me, it’s like being told, don’t hold back. Do everything you can today for others and for yourself too. Do it like it’s the last chance you’ve got because you never know.

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The Return of the Absentee Blogger

It’s been nearly a month since my last entry.
So many things happened between that time and now.
Turned 36.
Got a Wii from Mike for my birthday, and we played till our arms hurt!
Had friends over for pizza and Wii (first time ever in a long, long while that we’ve people other than the two of us in our place.)
Got my first award for writing, outside of advertising. Yipee! And went home to Manila for that, amazing race style.
Met up with friends, met new ones too, and missed a couple or two I’d have loved to see.
Bought dozens of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the folks back here in Sing.
And of course, spent quality time with the two Mamas and the baby doggies.
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They’re cute as ever but my goodness, how they’ve grown!

Aww, I miss them. Wonder when can we sneak another trip back to Manila?

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The Story Goes…

After years of endless prodding and encouragement from Cynch and loads of help from Lilit, I finally made my first attempt at writing a short story for kids for a contest. I was glad pseudonyms were required so that if I made a fool of myself, no one but a few trusted friends would know. Hee Hee. Luckily, I did not embarrass myself too much, I actually got a place in the competition. Thank you, Lord! :)

This may sound like a “thank you” speech, but please bear with me and I’ll be off: Thanks to Lilit, Mela, Cey, Owie, who were actually the ones who took care of my entry — checking grammar, getting it printed out, notarised and sent out just hours before the deadline. I literally wouldn’t have made it without them!

And thanks for everyone’s messages! Here’s the story. It’s also up there in the tabs, “Junior”. Hope you guys like it.

This one is for Rhuena and Kim. For Irene and Alexis. For every single mom (or dad) who fills a child’s world with love.

And for Mama.

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Anna, London-bound Banana

Sigh. This has to be the leaving-est 30 days of the year for me. I know leaving-est isn’t even a word, please pardon my melancholy-induced unintelligible vocabulary. It’s just really sad to see friends go, 3 to be exact, all in a span of one month. First it was Rommel. Then Mike F. And now it’s Anna. Triple sigh on that.

I heard it said that leaving, whether you are the one going or being left behind, is like a little death. Maybe because the life and routine you’ve known simply come to a full stop. No more laughing at secret jokes, no more crazy coded conversations, no more angst exchanges over lunch and coffee. No more of that reassuring feeling you get when you know that no matter what happens you’ve got that true friend you can run to, even for the most mundane things like an occasional dollar or 2 for coffee. (Yes, she’s our ATM, Anna Testa Moneymachine.)

Anna flew to London Saturday night. I’m actually happy for her. Mike and I know for sure, she’ll do extremely well there like she did here. Still we will miss her terribly. It’s always good to have someone who puts things in the proper perspective when you lose your way and look after you like a big sister. I miss her now. I cried when we said good-bye, I can’t help it. And it didn’t help that in the cab we rode on the way home, the song “That’s What Friends Are For” played like a background music to our sullen mood.

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Enough of that. No goodbyes. We’ll see her again! In London. In Toronto. In outer space. Wherever it is, I’m so looking forward to that day!

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One Mike Less

My hubby Mike and I arrived in Singapore in March with just two suitcases of clothes, a laptop, somem.jpg cash, and no idea what this place was all about. We would have felt so lost had it not been for the other Mike — Mike Foster. He had been in the country a year earlier straight from Manila, the only familiar face in the sea of unfamiliar faces. He made sure we survived our first few weeks in foreign soil, took us to lunches, kept our alcohol levels well above normal and even made sure we had cash to tide us over till our first pay check. He’s like an uncle we hadn’t seen in years! More than that, he’s been a good friend who’s always on our side no matter what, literally, the big guy watching our backs. That’s why it feels weird that tomorrow he won’t be here to do that. Today is his official last day in Leo Burnett and in Singapore. At 12 midnight, he flies off to Sydney and a month after, he’ll start in a new office in Shanghai.

We saw him off tonight and can’t help feel lost again. Singapore won’t be the same without him but a great guy like him deserves better.

See you, Mike. Though you said, this is not goodbye, we’ll still miss you terribly. We’re also looking forward to building that scooter shop beside your bike shop, Mike & Mike’s. Can’t wait!

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