Monday, October 5, 2015

What Would You Do With a 10,000 Pesos Worth of Savings?

If you only have ten thousand pesos in your bank account right now, what would you do with that money?

Where would you invest it?

What would you do with it to make it grow?

This question is not hypothetical. You may answer.
10,000 pesos is really not much these days but it is still an amount that is very hard to raise for the majority of Filipinos. And having an extra 10,000 in your bank account is really a big deal. Well, it was an even bigger deal some 10 or 20 years ago but we beggars don't have the privilege to be choosers. :) 
It's hard to earn money but what's even harder is making that hard-earned money stay and grow.

I know someone, a good friend of mine, who won a million pesos in a noon time game show a few years back. After about a year, he was more broke than he was before winning that 1 million jackpot prize.

Of course, there were a number of reasons why that happened. He gave some of the money to family and relatives. He helped a lot of friends. He's very friendly, but after winning that jackpot, his friends became more friendlier. He invested some to land titles and investment groups and he got swindled. A lot of people borrowed money from him without giving the money back. He was able to put up a small store but sadly because of poor management it closed down.

But the main reason was, he was totally unprepared.

Here comes the 1 million - but what to do with that 1 million? - No Idea! 

Ever wondered why Aladdin got only 3 wishes from the Genie in the magic lamp?

This was the Genie's way of helping Aladdin to decide not with his emotion and to think things through and carefully before making his decisions.

With that condition, he was able to weigh his options, to think of the consequences of whatever decisions he will make, and to prioritize the things that matters most.

Sad to say, my friend got the 1 million - Genie not included!

So if you only have 10,000 worth of savings right now, what would you do with that money?

Thoughts on Being Powerless

Note: This post was originally written in 2009

Somebody asked me earlier if I was sour-graping.

My answer was:
"If I was, at least I have the guts to get my sentiments heard or seen in a channel where the powerful will not be able to use their power and authority over me. While on the other hand... you and your colleagues, sour-grape every single day but without expressing it because of fear."

What does that mean?

Well, it might pertain to the poor, the homeless, the prisoners, the minority, the out-of-school, the malnourished, the sick, the jobless, etc.

Or, it might also describe those who are rich but abused, people who are being misguided by charismatic leaders, the mistreated and demoralized employees who have nowhere else to go and those who seek justice but can't find it anywhere.

One thing I've learned from being a youth leader, is that when you are truly determined and focused on doing something, and you really believe in it badly, nothing will ever stop you. Not age, height, gender or education.

Unless, you allowed it to.

So being powerless is not the doing of the powerful. It is our own doing.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt

We remain silenced because we choose to be silent.

We remain mistreated because we choose to be mistreated.

We remain to be powerless because we choose to be powerless.

So, I refused.

I refused to remain silent, I refused to be mistreated. I refused to be powerless.

I don't expect other people to understand or even emphatize with me and frankly I don't even care. This is what makes me an individual.
"Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do and damned if you don't." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, October 4, 2015

PACO on a Sunday Morning

We're starting a Sunday morning ritual today!

We used to attend mass in the afternoon.  But lately, we found it very difficult to attend the mass service together in the afternoon because of many unavoidable circumstances. And then, there's the heavy downpours that usually happens in the afternoon.

So starting today, we've decided to attend the Sunday early morning liturgical celebrations.
San Fernando De Dilao Parish
The crucifix at the center of the main altar of San Fernando De Dilao
Sto. Nino
PACO on a Sunday morning especially in the vicinity of the San Fernando De Dilao Parish (otherwise known as Paco Church) is bustling with church-goers, weekend shoppers and market vendors.

This the typical Pinoy church area setting. Where there's a parish or a chapel - there's also a school and most likely a public market in the area or within walking distance from the church.
The main gate of San Fernando De Dilao Parish - at the side is the Paco Catholic School Building
Fruits in season: Lanzones and Rambutan
It's the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi today and there's a scheduled blessing of animals after the 10am mass at San Fernando De Dilao. But as early as 8am, we've already seen some dogs inside the parish grounds as well as some stray cats congregating somewhere nearby.
After The Mass
After the mass, we had our breakfast at McDonald's located just in front of the church and then went home via the Paco Public Market area.

So I guess everything went well today.

Note: San Fernando De Dilao Parish is located at Paz corner Pedro Gil, accessible via Jeepneys coming from Taft Avenue, Pedro Gil or Faura and going to Sta. Ana or Guadalupe via Herran. The Paco Public Market is located at Pedro Gil near Angel Linao Street. Within walking distance from San Fernando De Dilao Parish.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thoughts on Power and Justice

"You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." The Dark Knight 2008

One of the questions I ran into at Yahoo Answers Philippines (YAP) was: 

"Would you approve of vigilantes? Or the works of vigilantes?"

Categorically I answered: 

Well, it is never okay for anyone to hold such extreme powers, 'cause like all things with power, it gets abused.

I don't need to write a very long testimonial to prove this point, just grab any kind of History books that you can find and you'll know what I mean.

And then, I came across another question again at YAP that says: 
"Doesn't it embarrass Catholics that the Vatican didn't oppose Nazi Germany? Actually, the Vatican sent a letter of congratulations with the elected officials, and did nothing when the Nazi's rounded up and killed and shipped the Jews off to the concentration camps in clear view from the Vatican. That would bother me. Has the Catholic church apologized for this?" - she added.
My answer was:

YES, in fact they did apologized for this.

Actually, it was one humble and admirable man in Vatican who apologized for all the sins of all the clergies and Catholic leaders of the past.
The late Saint Pope John Paul II.
FYI. During that time, it was not only Vatican who turned a blind eye on the evil that was happening in the world. A lot of nation did.

History is written so that man would learn from the mistakes of the past and to celebrate mankind's achievements and not to dwell on it. Everything happens for a reason.

No one is immune to power. Even the inherently good can sometimes turn a blind eye because of power.

Priests and Politicians. Power has a way of changing the very nature of every person and history has a funny way of repeating itself.

Who would apologize for our mistakes then?

Another person overpowered by sickness?

Another one humbled by age?

Another one sickened by the hypocrisy of a bewildered society? - Where wrong is made right and the righteous, wronged because of self-serving agendas, pride and the lust for more power?


Friday, October 2, 2015

I Choose To Be Happy

"True happiness is found within, sometimes you have to dig deep inside to find it but it is definitely not found on the outside."

You can search and search the whole world to find it but you wont.

What inspired me to share this thought was a recent blog from a good friend of mine. Actually, I tried to drop a comment on her blog but I wasn't able to because I missed a field and all the things that I wrote there got erased. Hope she reads this, 'cause this will be like a very long blog comment on her post.

The blog was titled "I'll be alright" and there is one line there that says, "How can I be happy when the people that matters to me are not happy for me" - or something like that.

So, I thought for a second and with the Linkin Park song "numb" playing at the back of my head I began to wonder how we humans often based our happiness on what others feel or say about us.

I am 'Guilty as Charged' on several occasions.

So I guess it is human nature. But on the other hand, maybe, most of us do not fully understand the concept of happiness.
"True happiness is found within, sometimes you have to dig deep inside to find it but it is definitely not found on the outside."
People are happy when they are in love right? And when people are asked "who makes them happy" they quickly reply with the names of their loved ones. (their spouse, a girlfriend or boyfriend, parents, best friend, siblings, children, or even their dogs or cats)
You can quickly answer the who, what, where, when questions of happiness and even the how. But how about the WHY?

Why are you happy?

You are happy.. not because a person makes you happy but because you chose to feel 'happiness' when that person is around you. So, regardless of what he or she does for you, you will always be happy with that person because you chose to.

You are happy.. not because your job makes you happy but because you chose to feel 'happiness' with the job you have right now. So even if it is, according to survey, a job that is very least liked by a lot of people, you will still be at your best and have a positive outlook on it because you chose to.
People, Jobs, Gifts makes you smile or drool or shout with ecstasy but it doesn't really mean that you are happy.

There are people who have almost everything - fame, fortune, success, etc., but still they are very much unhappy and there are people who have almost nothing but still they are happy, hopeful and thankful.

What's the catch?
There's no catch. It's just you and the way you see things inside and around you that determines your state of happiness. Here are some of the basic things I've come across that might help us condition ourselves to be happy despite of...
  • Learn to Appreciate. Appreciate people, the simplest things, the ordinary but meaningful, the goodness in everyone, the lessons learned from disasters and failures and in the effort of everyone.
  • Learn to Understand. Understand people and things as they are and not how you thought they or it should be. Understand that there are things you can control or influence and things that you cannot.
  • Learn to be Contented. Contented but not in mediocrity. Believe that Excellence is to humans and Perfection is to God. Believe that not everything that you wish for and willed to will be yours and will go your way and that whatever results there may have been to your effort is all but a rewarding and learning experience.
  • Learn to look Forward and not Backward. Forward is goal setting. Forward is doing things for a 'bigger than life' purpose. Forward is learning from the past but not letting yourself be haunted by it. Forward is seeing things on a positive outlook - it's seeing how closer you are to the goal. Forward is forgiving.
  • Learn to look Inward and not Outward or Sideways. It is seeing yourself for who you really are. What you are capable of, and the beauty and strength that is uniquely yours. Inward is not looking for approval or appreciation or recognition. It is the development of self-worth and pride regardless of what others may say. Inward is not comparing oneself to other people. We are all unique beings that is why we are called individuals. Those who succeed in influencing others whether in fashion, business, arts, sports or leadership are those people who are truly in touch with their own unique qualities.
  • Learn to say 'Thank You.' One great way to be happy is to acknowledge the things you are blessed with every single day. (a great weather, a nice talk with an old friend, a small note that is gibberish but was written by your 4 year old child) Things that matter. Things that are dear. Just say 'Thank you.'
One final note: Being happy requires oneself to be prepared to accept happiness. True Happiness will reside in ones heart when it is ready. When the heart is empty of all the bitterness and the impurities.

When you choose to be happy, you will be happy.

COMMUTING | It's More Fun In The Philippines

What's the difference between pinoy commuter cabs and foreign cabs?

Cab drivers in the US or in any other countries would ask you where you're going and then take you there if you have the money to pay for the fare.

Cab drivers here in the Philippines would ask you where you're going and will only take you there if they're headed that way too or if you're going to pay them extra.

That humorous analogy was not actually a joke but an illustration of one of the most known Filipino street culture. Did you know that there are many surprisingly intriguing things about the Pinoy commuting public and their day to day experiences in the street?


I belong to the millions of Filipinos who have no other choice but to look forward to commuting every single day of their lives.

Who would not be enticed by the fragrance of carbon monoxides and dangerous fumes emitted by vehicles 24/7. Who would exchange the negative feelings generated from a rush hour traffic on all the major thoroughfare in Metro Manila. Who would not miss the pushing, and the sweaty and smelly co-commuters inside the over crowded buses and trains of LRT and MRT.

Seriously though, (so long as there are no unreasonable traffic jams and heavy downpours) I would prefer to commute and use public transportation to get to where I'm going.

I love to travel. For me, it is a very relaxing and mind-enriching activity 'cause I love to observe things. This is one reason why I seldom sleep while travelling.

Commuting refers to people travelling, usually daily, to work places beyond their own town, cities or villages.

Here in the Philippines, If you are a commuter - it would generally mean that you don't have a car and that you are using some form of public utility vehicles such as jeepneys, tricycles, pedicabs, buses, trolleys and trains to get to where you want to go.

"Commute lang ako yaya, kasi sira yung car ko eh."

Commuting here in the Philippines, has evolved also into a branding mechanism for those who have and those who don't have. The rich and the poor. The upper class and the middle and lower class citizens. 

Whether we like it or not, cars have become, not only a mode of transportation but also a status symbol for the rich. That's why when the recent oil price hikes occurred, it somehow evens-out a little the margin that separate the classes. Cheaper cars were introduced, new lower rates were implemented and car dealers are now reaching out even to the lower middle class just to get a sale.

Hoorray for the consumers but very bad for the over-all Metro traffic situation! The volumes of vehicles out on the streets are just too much for NCR roads to accommodate. 

I have been riding jeepneys all my life. I remember Jeepneys were so much smaller back in my Elementary days. I remember Sarao introducing the new bigger and sturdier models of jeepneys and now we can see Jeepneys the size of buses and Jeepneys with air conditioning.

The Jeepney is also considered as a Filipino National Symbol. (However, this contraption was introduced to us by the Americans during World War II)

They say, that a Jeepney reflects the Filipino culture. 

When you say PUJ... that is synonymous to the Philippines. So, let's see what it says about the Pinoys today.
  • Today, many passengers prefer to take the seat near the exit. One major reason for this is so that they will not be bothered with the getting and the passing of fares and change of the other passengers. The concept of passing the fares is the same as the "bayanihan system" which is a very wonderful Filipino value . It tells us how we Pinoys are fond of expressing neighborly love and concern for others. Hence, our famous tourism term "Pinoy Hospitality." Could the reaction of present day commuters be a sign that this most cherished Filipino value is becoming 'extinct'? Could it really mean that more Filipinos today are indifferent and uncaring?
  • Today, in almost all the densely populated corner streets of Metro Manila there are always certified barkers (noisy street tax/'tong' collectors) and unauthorized jeepney terminals which causes more traffic congestion. What do these observations tells us about us, Filipinos? Well, for one, by tolerating this kind of system we are already accepting the fact that we dislike orderliness (which is very much consistent with the way we jaywalk, beat the red light, vend at sidewalks, smoke inside PUV's). And just because we pay taxes for doing it, doesn't make it right or even legal.
  • Jeepney commuters invented the "kandong" system to save on fares and the "sabit" system for passengers who are in a hurry and because the ratio of Jeepney and commuters is 1:100. This is still being practiced today. Which means.. we are still in the same situation as when the system was introduced. We are still a third world country - if there is a fifth, I would place us there. We are still over populated despite the bills and all the UN-backed population ek-ek of the government. We still lack alternative modes of transportation because corruption goes first before the public interest. We still have a highly unstable, unreliable and unbelievable government. We still do not learn from our mistakes in the past.


Lastly, let me compare the pinoy with our PNR trains which runs from Manila to Alabang and sometimes as far as Laguna. It also has a long distance commercial train that can go up to Legaspi in the Bicol region.

It's under intense rehabilitation with the goal of being restored to its original glory. There are a lot to be done. Most of the trains are dysfunctional. Cleaning (inside and out) would take years and a lot of dedication.

I took a ride once in one of their trains. The train was completely a mess and the sight outside the train is anything but admirable. But while I was riding on that train I felt a real sense of nostalgia. It is as if I was riding on a piece of Philippine history, which I was.

So if the feeling is there, then, there must be some kind of hope into its restoration initiative.

The train, dysfunctional and rejected, still stands resilient. Like Pinoys are I guess.

And then I learned after alighting that I have lost my mobile phone while another fellow passenger lost his wallet.  With no security personnel to call and assist us with our predicament, we just left the station abandoning all hope.