Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Previously on: Ayala Boy

I have difficult news to share with you today. Due to some updates in our SEO strategy, we’ve been forced to lower our writing deliverables by up to 40% immediately. This is not what we had hoped would happen. We’ve unfortunately had to let go of ~50 of your peers today. Although all of your contracts are still active, we have updated a new contract (details below) which you will have to agree to by tomorrow, 3pm, in order to continue writing.


The electronic mail was couriered through the private networks, like a bomb dropped at the unsuspecting agents. There was no advanced word: not even hints that something sinister will tear people's lives before the day's end. It was business as usual for these writers, not even in their greatest fears had they ever contemplated having to spend their last day at work before the month's end. With the holidays fast approaching, seldom do companies hire at this time of the year. Why leave when pay is good, performance is in the upswing, and all seems well with the home-based workplace?

But then the unthinkable happened. 

One of the agents suddenly found herself being kicked out of the company portal. She was unable to log in for reasons beyond her understanding. Another agent wasn't even able to start his work anymore, unbeknownst to him, his contract had just expired.

Across different teams, this was the collective tale. Fifty souls had just lost their jobs. This doesn't include the number of new hires from the outsourcing unit the management had just tapped some months ago. There will be no separation pay. Even those who met swift termination were deemed the lucky ones. They are at least free to look for work elsewhere, unlike those who are still in the company, and unsure when their time of reckoning will come. Not only will they never find peace in the coming days, earnings, unlike the ones they enjoyed just weeks ago have been slashed by more than a half. Those who used to bringing home 60 grand will have to make do with less than 20. The management did not just enforce a limit to the number of work units a writer can do in a week, every short article written will have less value from now on. 

Lives have changed in a single day. 

I have heard stories about agents who suddenly found themselves under mountains of debts. Cars that were paid by loans might need to be returned if other sources of income cannot be found. Children who were sent to expensive schools may need to go back to public classrooms. Many, who have left their day jobs will suddenly find themselves unable to support their new lifestyles. Regret will be the by-word for tomorrow. Some of my peers even started looking for short-term projects on Upwork.

While this has little effect on my earnings, the confidence I have with the raketship has been shaken. No longer can I let the days pass certain of my direction. While I have seen countless retrenchments in my life, one, even engineered by me, it is only now that the stakes have been higher. Losing the raketship would mean a slash of my take-home pay. I cannot imagine keeping a lifestyle with merely my day job to keep my finances afloat.

A town hall meeting was held today, and a person can glean from the agents' sarcastic remarks punctured by self-entitled free thought the anguish of having to work under a new arrangement. Tempers flared. Many, vented their anger and resignation by showing insolence towards the management. At first, my sympathies were with fellow writers, and how they have been led to believe of the limitless opportunities offered by the raketship. But realizing how companies - big and small - ditch even their most loyal pawns, and how each worker is as good as his last performance, little by little, I begin to understand the right of the raketship to save itself. It may have been drastic for others, especially to those who have become complacent of tomorrow, but nothing can really be undone. I may have been spared the fate befalling some of my peers; I may even end up as one of the highest income earners given the decision to stick with two jobs rather than invest in one. However, in the end, I may have to accept this as well:

Nothing is permanent, and I may have to look for a third source of income, just to be sure I may never find myself with nothing, when the day of my retrenchment comes. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Previously on Mariposa

"Ibibigay ko po ang aking sarili nang buong-buo sa ating mga kababayan, lalong lalo na sa inyong mga naka-tsinelas, na nasa labas, nasa ibaba at nasa laylayan ng lipunan."

Atty. Leni Robredo
Liberal Party Vice Presidential Candidate

Only last month she vowed, never to aspire for some higher government post, in a live interview during late night news. Part of the reason was her lack of experience: with just three years as representative of her district, she would rather draft laws to improve the lives of her constituents in Camarines Sur than wade through trash that is national politics. Unlike her late husband, who has been a mayor for almost two decades, she finds strength standing in the background, lending her mind, when needed, in creating policies that made Naga one of the most vibrant cities in Bicol. Her three young daughters are against this new idea. They knew it would change their lives. As the party she had faithfully served runs out of choices when the foundling they groomed to be the vice-president joined the presidential race, everyone who believes in grassroots leadership pleaded for her to have a change of heart. Even the current occupant of Malacanan, offered himself as a broker, so the straight path he envisioned would endure long after he exits the spotlight.

Leni, as she is affectionately called, comes across as a lady who walks among farmers and fishermen; the ordinary folks of the countryside who have less in life than the contract workers and mid-level managers of the cities. She speaks her mind, with reason and fairness that comes from the gut. In that same interview many nights ago, those who have heard her were carried away by her intelligence, she became a trending topic on social media the next day. Being a leader once, I knew her kind of mold. She speaks about servant leadership, and I thought it would be a great loss if the party she represents picks another person to take her place.

As negotiations went behind closed doors, fringe members of the party spoke of alternative candidates. There was the governor-for-all-seasons, as well as the feisty senator from Taguig. Even the House Speaker's name was also floated among the possible candidates. And as the media circus reaches a new crescendo, the core members of the Liberal Party finds no other choice: It's Leni or nothing. Symbolic her place maybe, but what better person to encapsulate the Daang Matuwid philosophy than the widow of the man who first embraced it?

Somewhere in her journey, between the party invitation and her acceptance is a soul searching for answers. "Why me?" Leni asked, when she spoke behind the podium at Club Filipino. "I have no money, not even a machinery to run a local campaign." The audience listened to her epiphany. Drawing strength from Jesse, who had never walk away when friends sought his help, she realized that her husband's legacy will be for naught, if she turns her back this one time her party desperately needs her. With resolve to carry on, not just her husband's Tsinelas leadership, but also the citizen empowerment enjoyed under Pnoy's time, Leni Robredo, at long last, embraced what her calling is all along.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Out of Hibernation

Previously on Trinity

What purpose there is to blog, when there is no urgent need for narratives? Twitter, with it's 140-characters can already tell glimpses of my life, and I get virtual applause when the stuff I share online resonate with the kindred who follow my social media account. Meanwhile my Instagram, which has become a repository of my visual artistry never asks, what the blog demands every time I go back and do expository writing. There I go, uploading pictures at random, while receiving "hearts" as tokens for my work. Then I return to my mundane existence, only to post a cropped photo with filters that make it look artsy when inspiration strikes me.

The cycle goes on.

But the blog defines me, not as a person, but at how I make sense of life. Should there be a need to perpetuate a milestone, I pen it to be able to recall my footsteps; and to put into context my failures and accomplishments as a human being. The blog has also been a companion as I drift across various spheres of people and places. Their quintessence, I have written, so I may have a reference when I come across similar states again. To abandon the blog for other forms of expression, not just betray the calling, it will deny me the chance to weave what I have been yearning to write for tomorrow. In my absence, photos forethought to accompany my long-form pursuit pile in my phone's memory. I fear, they may no longer get published should I decide to prolong this hibernation.

And so we return to form: a little less inspired, with undertones of having to rush another post, with emotions now guarded and devoid of rawness my younger self would never hesitate to show. Yet, no matter the hesitation, there remains the desire to carry on; to remain faithful to tradition long forgotten by luminaries whose works were far more brilliant than mine. And with the fidelity to keep this space to myself, denying the thousands who get to read my mind elsewhere, I reclaim once more what has been mine, now and for all time.

This is Mugen writing back, and here are my stories.