Thursday, July 31, 2014



Hard Choices
Because Numbers Don't Lie
When The Dog Days Return

Not a single wisp of memory remains, of the days with nothing but time indulged for idyllic pursuits. Gone are the late afternoon strolls around the walled city, the herb garden expansion at the veranda outside the Master's bedroom, and the hours watching Chowder on Cartoon Network before going to sleep. There is no more time to meddle in the affairs of the house, to sift through stuff to give away to the needy, to conjure fears of the Apocalypse, and splurge - to prepare - for the worst of the elements. Save for Saturdays, which I devote to my Gundam Pilot, the days stretch into weeks, uninterrupted, that sometimes, the waking hours are not enough to do everything that needs to be accomplished.

I've been losing time ever since. 

The blog is replete with rants about my raket. Of how the number of blurbs required to submit in a week had increased by 100, even when I barely hit the present weekly quota. My mind is already set to leave this kind of work; that I am just waiting for the powers that be to ax my head so I can say bye-bye to the company. But then, I have no place to go. No blueprint to support myself should half of my earnings disappear with the lost of the sideline. And given the financial woes of the workplace, and the pressures of shelling more cash for the needs of home, my salary cannot cope with the uncontrolled spending. 

I will be bankrupt before Christmas.

So I started embracing my disposition, clocking ten to twelve hours in the office to work, to skip my workout routine to find more hours writing blurbs, to neglect this blog because I could use the extra two hours to hit closer to the new quota. And given how this mechanical writing activity already wiped my penchant for narratives, I cannot say for certain if I could keep the present number of entries posted next month. It is a sacrifice, and I am beginning to see the things I might eventually lose.

In exchange, I will always have money to draw from my wallet. Never would I feel the pinch of "Sweldo de Peligro," or the "Slow Death" elsewhere, because I have three sources of income. In a month, I was able to buy my mom a new dress, and a pair of new shoes. Should the matriarch needs maintenance medicines, all she has to do is ask, and I'd buy her pills even before she turns over her ATM card. I was able to accomplish these without hemorrhaging my savings account. 

In fact, it won't make any dent on my finances. 

I see my predicament and remember that this money-making venture is time-bound; that I have been given a month to shape up or I might be replaced by someone more capable to hit the ever-increasing company targets. 

"Enjoy while it last," I told myself, while devoting more hours to writing, and talking more to my team leader who has provided every possible support to help me improve my standing. There is a resolve that whatever fate lies when the end of July nears, I wouldn't feel bad of my termination. I would even thank the raketship for the opportunity to be part of their family. And as I wrap the events of the past month, encapsulated in a blog entry that is posted two days past the eight month of the year, there was certainty that I won't have to speak about this raket anymore. 

Because no matter what, the endeavor has met its purpose:

"That said, I'm promoting you to regular rate -- $0.18 per blurb -- effective immediately.

Congratulations!! Your hard work and dedication has finally paid off.

I hope this new rate will inspire you to continue to strive for excellence because doing so will not only help the team achieve its goals, but also help our professionals gain more exposure in search engines like Google and the [name of raket here] website gets more Google love.

The more quality blurbs we write for them, the more likely they'll get hired.

Congrats again,"

The dog days will never return.

Cheers to my new life.

*SOMA, State of My Affairs

Tuesday, July 29, 2014



The Space Man
Custodian of Heaven

In the age of reality shows, and wars between nations, and selfies posted on Facebook, seeking affirmation from souls one will never get to meet, there is an outpost halfway between this earth and the moon barely noticed by humans, whose affairs dwell not in the past - nor the future - but in the milliseconds of their every breath.

I too would have forgotten. That once, I used to look up to the heavens to catch a glimpse of this outpost as it trails across the vesper sky. Google still sends me alerts announcing its arrival. I would mark the date and time, only to be hindered by the pressing needs that keep me alive. On some days, the memory resurfaces, when pictures of this outpost - breathtaking and inspiring - are beamed back to the planet, on my Twitter account. My being will be filled with joy, of course, and sadness, because humanity has been reduced to seeing views of the atmospheres instead of pressing on, to sail yonder.

There are times I envy the past. When humanity teetered on the brink of mutual assured destruction, and the idea they have of leaving footprints to mark their time was to send machines - mechanical envoys - to tell their story. Nowadays, our species have become inward-looking. Cocooned and somehow content of our own mortality.

Of our limitations.

I see this picture and imagine floating next to the International Space Station, looking at the heavens with longing eyes gazing at eternity. And in the countless lives I might still live, while burdened by collective memory of lifetimes searching for reasons to exist, the picture distills what the heart yearns to speak. That vision of a watcher looking at the open ocean, while waiting, and hoping everyday, for something god-like to appear in the distance.

Searching the cosmos for otherworldly delights, and sentience, we carry on, and wait.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Because Numbers Don't Lie

The boss showed to me some figures, neatly arranged in columns on the Excel spreadsheet. They reveal a lot about our business standing, and the earnings we get from our services. They were for my eyes only, and no one in the office has to know about these revelations. And as much as it hurts to swallow the truth (because misery loves company) - that some of us might need to take a bow in the coming months - we thought of draining our sorrows with a glass of beer - at Shakey's - on a Friday morning.

A memory that will always be watermarked by icy rain.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

When The Dog Days Return

Previously: Hard Choices

Please remind me when this Raketship is over, when there is no more demand to leave home before dusk to bring work right on my desk, and when the hours drag, instead of me chasing minutes of a life that is ebbing, I will indulge myself in these activities, and refrain from moneymaking to do what I love best:

  • Accomplish the long delayed general cleaning of my corner. Doing segmented clean ups, like what I did with the coffee table and television stand last month didn't work as I intend it to be.
  • Plant more Lavenders, preferably the cuttings should come from my herbs, and expand the garden outside the Master's bedroom.
  • Attend the evening mass with my mother.
  • Watch the films I sourced from the Internet. Much gratitude to Wikipedia for introducing me to the great wonders of Pirate Bay.
  • Make more time to engage in my fitness activities. I no longer work out three times a week since I always have to catch up and improve my Blurb Writing output.
  • Write more blog entries. I barely make twelve posts every month.
  • Engage in civic activities, and promote social causes that I care deeply. I had ideas in mind - plans to donate books for that library they are constructing on Pag-Asa Island, and yet, I haven't sorted out the books to give away.
  • Do a Brinnie Maxwell and throw unneeded stuff at home. The homemaker in me yearns to break free.
  • And when I have my fill, I will preoccupy myself with activities that would allow me to earn extra cash once more. There is no denial that I'm a changed person since this Raket season began. I have already emerged from these preoccupations a little more assured of my ability to make earnings. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Matter Of The Unspoken

In my other life a long time ago, my dad set me up on a "chaperoned date" with this pretty lady. She was about the same age as me, and the daughter of his fraternity brother who used to head our security agency. I was a junior at the university, and despite going out with some girls in class, nothing really prospered out of the platonic engagements.

Now this friendly meet-up, which I thought would gain some traction, since it had the blessings of my father, was different. Never had I been paired in the past, thus the air of permanence permeate the first time we met. We went out for some snacks and as the elders had a little chit chat, I had the chance to talk to this girl, and observe her up close. 

She was a creature of beauty, with her rounded hips, thick eyebrows, pointy nose and a full chest that would always catch others' attention. One might even mistake her for a Spanish-Filipina, if not for her thick accent. And she had this vibe of self-assurance that tells she went out with much more interesting boys in the past. Given my lack of self confidence, it felt awkward bringing up a subject to talk about. I can't even recall if I ever found out what her likes were. Much of the account of the meeting was already forgotten because there was nothing really to remember. After all, our conversation was replete with one-liner, close ended answers. 

We never saw each other again.  

My dad spoke to me after the "date" and he had some words that might be useful - now that I am mortified by my ancient demons once more. 

"Ikaw kasi, masyado mong pinakita na interesado ka." He said in a jest.

"Next time, hinay hinay ka lang. Atat ka masyado. Ayan tuloy, nawalan ng gana sa iyo."

Friday, July 18, 2014


Previously on MH-370

From the Moscow-backed Ukrainian separatists in Donetsk:

Summaries of the shooting of Igor
17.07.2014 17:50 (MSK) Message from the militia.

"In the area Torrez just downed plane Antonov-26, lying somewhere in the mine" Progress. "
Also warned - do not fly in "our sky."
And here is the confirmation of the next video "ptichkopada."
Bird fell for waste heap, the residential sector is not caught. Civilians are not injured.

And also have information about the second downed aircraft, like the Sukhoi. "

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In The Storm's Path

We learned, two days before landfall that Manila lies directly under the storm's path. The news put a break to my procrastinating ways and swiftly, asked my mother to send me to the supermarket and buy provisions that would last us for a month. The provisions I refer are the food and toiletries. I should have done my groceries a few days back, but because of the raket ship, it was difficult to find time and make Puregold Supermarket my destination.

The trip across the aisles was uneventful, except that I was a little anal with my loot. The obsessive compulsive in me demands careful arrangement of the cans and package bags that were included in the list of items to buy. So intense was my need for symmetry that I wouldn't let the cart move. That, and the pleasant discovery that the allotted budget was enough for my groceries despite the inclusion of King Sue Chicken Nuggets and Mekeni Chicken Tocino were the highlight of this months' splurge.   


Exactly a day before the storm hits the city, instructions were given to the household to refill the plastic jugs with distilled water. I was thinking of adding another water container, but when the delivery guy said it wasn't possible, (as we have to provide our own) I sent my mom's assistant to check how much it costs at the nearby Uni-Top Department Store.

"165 presyo," the SMS reads. I only said thank you as my reply.   

"135 sa Savemore." He sent after a few minutes. I then realized that I might be going overboard with my preparations, and that the storm isn't as strong as I thought it is.  

I left for work with some of the flower pots blocking my window moved inside my room. They found their place in the coffee table flanking the router.


Other, less trivial preparations were made, like pleading to some of my colleagues to work in the office in anticipation for the city-wide blackout after the storm's passing. There is an electric generator in our building, and recalling the lessons learned during Typhoon Milenyo's lashing scores of years ago, home-based arrangements are not reliable when weather disturbances like these disrupt our business operations.

These feeble attempts in creating designs, so as to ease the troubles brought by the elements return me to a time when no such idea exist. Fading memories of my father arriving home just before the lights went out, (during another storm, many, many years ago) and encapsulating the relief at the sight of his presence in a nimble poem, reminds me of how things have changed now that I am the one in charge.

Unspoken and barely felt, there is this longing to return to those days when vulnerability can be afforded because there is someone who will always be watching your back.

I do not know when this gift of foresight began hijacking my consciousness, but every time there is a storm coming - imagined or otherwise - expect me to have plans in place, for I cannot stand seeing myself and my loved ones suffering, because I didn't think ahead of the horrible, regrettable scenes that have been inside my head.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Striking Gold

While taking a break from my blurb-writing raketship, (which I'm close to giving up) I came across a Facebook post about a couple who struck big, during the Football matches in Brazil. 

The story goes exactly like this:

Now that the World Cup is coming to an end, let me share to you how a friend of mine earned P50,000 a night just by making loom bands. He and his girlfriend just had an idea to make loom bands whose colors are based on the colors of the flags of the nations that are competing at the soccer tournament. They made the loom bands really nicely and sturdy and went to places in Makati and Malate where expats hang out in the wee hours of the evening to watch the games. They sold the loom bands for one-thousand pesos each. It was a jackpot selling these loom bands to these foreigners because most of them come to these bars with their Filipina girlfriends in tow. So they already score a jackpot by selling two loom bands to two persons in one sitting. Add to these that most of these guys are drunk and fanatics and would buy almost anything you shove at them that is connected to their favorite team. They were able to sell 50 loom bands a night which gave them a take of P50K each evening they hang out almost sleepless. And that with just an investment of P800 per one big bag of assorted rubber bands! Talk about being an entrepreneur! And this guy did not even took up a Marketing course in college! His background is he is just a musician/cameraman! Now that the World Cup is coming to an end, I'd like to share this story to inspire others out there that doing business does not entail you to have a cum laude or a diploma from a big university. You just have to start small and dream big and know how to make good use of a situation to your advantage. He is starting his new batches of loom bands for the July 13 games. I know he won't be able to go to all the bars in Metro Manila to sell his works so I am sharing this to you so that you can earn a little money with the last game in Brazil. After the World Cup, he is already eyeing two sporting events to sell his wares. As they say in our native tongue, "Una-unahan lang 'yan! Kanya-kanyang diskarte lang 'yan!" What's yours?

I was telling my deputy the other night some painful truths about our rat race, including the people at work who has sunk under heaps of loan payments. It was our smoking break, and a fancy car passed by distracting our individual train of thoughts. I was the first to break the silence, to confess that sometimes, I no longer find comfort in the status quo.

"Alam mo, talaga sigurong yayaman ka lang sa pagne-negosyo." I said between the cigarette puffs.

"Honga, kung makaipon lang ako, gusto ko magtayo ng Internet cafe." 

"Malulugi ka dun, I countered." I told him the story of a friend who used to have an Internet cafe, and his never-ending problems of upgrading his units to catch up with technology.

"Kahit malapit sa school?" I nodded.

"Marami na may laptop at gadgets ngayon." I said. He then concurred that rental rates have gone too low, while electricity rates continue to surge, to even break-even.

I don't know what has gotten into me, but since the raket projects began to pay off, this aspiration to make more money became a stuff of ambitions. Last month, I spoke to a friend about treasure bills and government bonds. Lately, it's business ideas I'm incubating during my idle times. While there's no certainty that I have the guts for money-making ventures, the very idea that I've recovered my savings through means outside my day job speak of my potentials. 

I may not be as lucky and creative as the guy who struct gold during the Football matches. But one day, I'm certain to be overwhelmed by an entrepreneurial inspiration and do something to make it come true.

Who knows what life lies ahead.

"Alam mo Allan," I told my colleague and deputy during that same night we spoke about our business ventures. 

"Kung magnenegosyo siguro ako, gusto ko magtayo ng pet crematorium."

"Pet crematorium?" His contorted face expressed his befuddled thoughts.

"Yup. Mukhang wala pang ganung negosyo, and most probably, the market for it is already there." I said assuredly.

"Imagine mo na lang lahat ng mga pets na pinapatulog sa vet clinic." I disclosed.

"At yung mga pet owners na sobrang mahal yung mga pets nila, can't afford nilang ipatapon na lang yung carcass basta-basta.

"Yun ang unang kong mga clients."   

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Walled Up

Previously on L'Heure Bleue 

Docking Into Orbit
The Phoney War

I was exchanging sweet nothings with my boyfriend on Viber when a phone call from an unknown number cut our cheesy banter.

"Hello," I said in a groaning voice. I was pretending to be stirred from sleep.

"Natatandaan mo pa ako?" The guy on the end of the line said. I paused briefly, unable to answer his cryptic question.

"Yup, kamusta?" I finally replied, albeit a little shaken. It was easy to account the people you had to let go, if you were able to stay away from troubles during the long years of singlehood.

"Gian?" It wasn't his real name. But I still remember who he was and what part he played in my life a few weeks before dating the Gundam Pilot.

"Nasaan ka?" He asked.

"Heto papasok na ng work." Rooster crows can be heard in the background. "Panghapon na ako ngayon eh."

It was all lies.

The phone call was his latest attempt to reach out, to which I was caught off guard. The SMS messages he sent, asking for a meet up (and hangout at my place) were left unanswered. They were swiftly deleted. There was no use telling that I'm happily taken when I have no idea how he would reply. I'd rather disappear from his contact list, to be forgotten, the way people get erased from someone's phone directory when ties are too shallow to even consider that person a friend.

But I learned that he was back in the city, taking review classes at the same run-off-the-mill school he attended last summer. He stays near my place, at the same dormitory he rented the first time we met. I have to say that it was a short, dispirited conversation, where I didn't even ask how long he would stay for his studies. A polite small talk, hoping he gets my sentiments between the words I didn't say.

While this trivial encounter should not have been made a blog post, the impersonal telephone exchange has to be written, as it was a refutation, a personal disproof to the collective belief that everyone is bound to cheat. I won't deny that I did acts of transgression in some of my past relationships, but I was young then, and too eager to mount a rebellion when strife and neglect used to be the issues of the day.

Not anymore.

Just by reminding myself of the two years I have been unbound and the short, fleeting encounters, whose recollections suffer the most resolute of purging, it shouldn't be a surprise that I came off as rather cold and distant with Gian. For when your goal in life - and in a committed relationship - is to shun all avenues of distraction, you would do everything possible to stay walled up and wait for the threat to go away.

The boyfriend would never get to hear this confession. But should he find a way to read this blog entry, let it be my strongest assurance that he can sleep soundly and think of happy thoughts knowing his partner would never cause heartaches.

I have come too far to let someone destroy what my idea of love is.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Reason Being

Since moving to the night shift last summer, it has become a habit to call home to check on my mother at 3 in the morning. I always fear that since she goes to the toilet when everyone's asleep, she might slip and broke a part of her body. Last night however, was different. What answered me was a woman with a croaked voice.

"Ano nangyari sa iyo?" I asked her.

"Nag chills ako kanina. Tinawagan ko nga si Aine (our maid) para ilayo sa akin yung electric fan eh."

"Nag toilet ka na ba?"

"Hindi pa."

"Gamit ka na lang ng bed pan Mama." I said. "Baka ma-off balance ka pa kapag pinilit mong maglakad-lakad."

"Baka ganun na nga. Hindi talaga maganda ang pakiramdam ko eh.

Last week, I had to take away some of her money to buy medicines, which I withdrew from her bank account. I learned that she used the cash I gave her last month for such purpose to supplement the funds for house upkeep. Stubborn as she is, my mom will always give in to her nephews' needs. Sometimes, even at the cost of neglecting herself. So I bought a tube of cream for her skin problems, a bottle of Calcium supplement, and an extra cash for another cream for her face. This is on top of my sister's request to buy vitamins for her sons also last week.

Realizing how these unplanned spending will wipe away all my earnings had it not for the raket ship, prudence dictate that I have to stick to what I'm doing as a side job for the time being.

Even when in truth, I was only given a month extension to improve my performance, or else, I'd be axed from the roster of blurb writers hired by my other company.

Mangosteen Capsules I bought at 512 pesos for 30 pieces this morning.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hard Choices

Bentusi, my new surrogate mother and former editor used to tell me not to accept mechanical writing jobs like those that require search engine optimized article writing. In her words, she said that I am not trained for word crunching tasks that are repetitive in nature, and whose pay demeans what I am capable of as a storyteller. I did take her warning lightly, assured that I won't accept gigs that would drain whatever remains of my artistry. But then, an income opportunity came and when I passed the evaluation, the warning was ditched in favor of earning extra cash.

Two months into the job and I am beginning to feel the strain of my work.

For the uninstructed, search engine optimization is a technique of inserting unique and appropriate words that make an article easy to find on search engines like Google. The tricky part is placing "fresh keywords" within sentences that Google actually "reads." As far as I know, SEO experts guess these words placements as Google has this habit of changing their system algorithms from time to time. Web traffic affects as well as the pages where the articles are placed should have very high credibility. It means the website needs to have an active readership, has no malicious ads, and has been in existence for at least a year. These are the rudiments of an industry that I have successfully evaded.

But now, it is eating so much of my time that I have lost interest in other pursuits.

Like blogging.

Given that I am bound by a non-disclosure agreement, what I can tell about my other job is that I am required to write short blurbs, around two sentences, summarizing what the service user does as a profession. The work itself is easy at first glance, but when you begin writing descriptions that have similar offerings, the activity becomes tedious that I have to stop frequently, or suffer the risk of having headaches should I press on. There is a required number of blurbs to be written in a week, and if this is not enough, keywords should be hooked in the summaries so they would appear on search engines' page rankings.

I was paid handsomely for the sideline - the biggest so far - since I started doing freelancing jobs under Bentusi. But it also tears me from within, that sometimes the emptiness makes me question the essence of this soulless pursuit. I tempted fate last week by deciding not to hit the required number of blurbs to be written, and as a result, I was asked to write an explanation for my defiance.

Defending my action to my superiors is easy, what I find challenging is drawing motivation: The reason to go on beyond the monetary gains, which when I ponder deeply, don't fulfill my yearning for sublime accomplishments.  

The present arrangement at the raket could afford me a little more time to do other activities - like paying close attention to my real work, and spending time doing my routines. But when the new manager announced this morning an increase in the number of blurbs to be submitted after the end of the week, I am tempted to send a copy of my resignation letter to express my disapproval.

I'll give myself a single try, and should it fail, I'd rather walk the path of poverty (and freedom) than stick to an activity I find no joy anymore.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Kibit Balikat

Perhaps, there is a grain of truth in the saying that when you are swamped with domestic concerns, affairs outside your immediate interests offer little value to draw out an opinion.

Like the National Artist snub done by the President to Nora Aunor after the former thoughtfully weighed the latter's past drug abuses as reasons for not including her name in the roster of artists to receive the prestigious award.

Or the carnival-esque witch hunt and imprisonment of legislators accused of plunder. It doesn't surprise me that even a former Senate President and nonagenarian is now under detention in a police hospital at Camp Crame.   

Or the apparently motivated deaths of neophytes after undergoing initiation rites. Much as you wish to understand the reasons for college Freshmen to join fraternities, there's this strong urge to dismiss their feelings and just accept the cause of their untimely passing.

There are other national concerns argued, analyzed and dissected in online forums like the price of garlic hitting past P300 a kilo at supermarkets, the never-ending Chinese boats incursions in the Spratly's, the unconstitutionality of DAP - and the calls of the Leftist for Pnoy's impeachment, the dreams of a former First Lady for her son to run for President in 2016, and so much more. But after some discernment, (which I thought of writing so that one day, I'd able to look back at the events of the day) you'd learn to keep your thoughts to yourself and spend more time pursuing activities that offer tangible returns:

Like finding ways to make money.

And spending that money for material happiness, which has now breached my everyday consciousness.