Living life

When a man DUMPS a woman

You could try to approach it any which way. You either come from the north or the south, makes no difference. Cushion the impact of the incoming wrecking ball, it won’t help. Be eloquent in explaining why it would never work (even though sometimes you don’t have to be eloquent because the reason is more obvious than your 201 file).

How to deal with this. Basic principles?

There are none (thanks, Hitch).

Except for one. It’s so damn hard. No matter what your goal is or how noble your intentions maybe, it is so freaking hard to tell a girl “Thank you and have a nice life”. Furthermore, guys are at the receiving end of a terrible stereotype. When a man dumps a woman, he is branded as an insensitive and opportunistic pig. If it’s the girl who did the dumping, they just pity her and concede that the relationship simply didn’t work.

Yeah, for a guy, it is very hard to tell a normal girl “I don’t love you anymore” or “I never loved you, so let’s end this”. Having said that, how much harder do you think it is to say those things to a girl who could literally crush rocks in her bare hands?

Batman is either the bravest soul on earth or this is, intellectually, simply not one of his shining moments.

Living life

I want an iPod, dammit!

I recently bought a new MP3 player for my car, and as a result, now I want to buy an iPod to connect to it.

Together with the MP3 player I bought a set of 4-way Pioneer speakers – which makes me want a JBL set instead.

My employer never negotiated my asking price, they just gave it to me. Now I wish I’d asked for a higher salary.

You see a pattern emerging?

  • I buy a Neo laptop (which so far has been meeting all my needs). That makes me want a MacBook Pro.
  • I get a flat-screen TV. Now I want a Plasma TV.
  • I’m looking to buy a new cell phone. The one I’m using now isn’t even 6 months old.
  • I get a CR-V. Now I want a Sportivo. Or a Navara.

That last one is a joke, but I put it there to paint a clearer picture of what I’m trying to drive at.

Want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want!

Insatiable, inexhaustible, unending Want.

I once said I want 39 million dollars, so I could afford to quit my job, finally get to sit down and write a book, and be content with my life.

Content? Hmm. All of the sudden, I don’t know anymore. If I will ever achieve ‘Content’. I mean, via having 39 million dollars.

Or a car MP3 player. Or JBL speakers. Or a Navara (even though it is gorgeous). Who knows, if somehow I’m finally able to get a Navara, I’d then start to want a BMW X5?

Someone once said “There is something perverse about more than enough. When we have more, it is never enough. It is always somewhere out there, just out of reach. The more we acquire, the more elusive enough becomes.” To put it plainly: The more we have, the more we want.

Which is a sad and sorry paradox. If this is true – and it does appear so – those of us who strive for happiness by getting more would – in the process of getting more and consequently wanting more – become poorer instead of richer.

Who would want to live like that?

And so putting it in perspective, I end up realizing what I really want.

No, I don’t want to become a Hobbit (though the description “Horrid and fat” – as Gollum often taunts Samwise – fits me to a T). But I do want what they have, as Bilbo aptly and appealingly puts it.

“Celebrate a Simple Life.”

And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. ” – 1 Timothy 6:8

Living life

Thinking about her makes my life a million times harder

Among RPG (role-playing game) gamers, there’s one term that makes us feel momentarily frozen in blunt and subtle terror, like for a second being alone in an old and lightless cemetery hidden at the outskirts of a cold and foggy town:


It’s a gamer’s ultimate goal in every adventure, to find a way to reach the final boss, confront it, and defeat it, before it defeats you.  But it’s not a nice feeling to be at the start of a quest knowing that in the end you will be fighting bitterly for your life.

In my case, no one has given me a worse sense of foreboding than Ultimecia, the final boss in Final Fantasy VIII, a sorceress from the far future who psychically manipulates the girl you (the hero) love through sheer force of magic.  You have one mission: find a way to get to Ultimecia, and then destroy her so that Rinoa could finally be free of her influence (and also to save all space and time from destruction).

I remember first playing Final Fantasy VIII, when at the end of the second disc I faced Sorceress Edea.  Up to that point I was practically breezing through the game after having mastered the intricacies of the gameplay system and the strategy to win against any enemy I encounter.  But then it took everything I had to defeat Sorceress Edea, such that after the battle I had only one character left standing, and was himself at the brink of death.

So, GREAT!  I’ve finally defeated Edea, who had hounded and pestered me all throughout the game.

Then I find out that there’s an even deadlier enemy I had to face.  And in the span of one second, my life became a million times harder.  If it took me everything I had to defeat Edea, how in all of Gaia could I hope to go against Ultimecia?

A scary challenge, all things considered.  But what I failed to consider was that along the way to the final battle, my characters leveled up and got stronger.  It was still hard in the end, but my characters by that time had become strong enough to resist Ultimecia.  Strong enough to defeat her.

So the million dollar question is what in the world made me think about the challenge of FFVIII?

It’s my job.

I don’t know how it became my life story, but it seems whenever I start with a new company it’s always to do a job that I’ve never done before.  I’ll skip the details, let’s just say that I always start a new job wondering how in the world could I do the things that I have to do?

How the hell could I defeat the final boss?

Knowing halfway down that I’d be facing an uber-powerful enemy intimidated me, almost to the point of quitting the game.  With the jobs I held, it was pretty much the same thing.  And in all those times, the one trapping in common is I almost let the immensity of the task psyche me out.  I almost allowed the fear of inadequacy prevent me from doing the job.

Batman, who is one man facing the deeply rooted evils of an entire city, knew exactly how big a monster it was he was trying to take on.  He knew that ridding a city of the corruption that had been its culture and life-blood would be an enormous and near-impossible task.  “Gotham is too big”, and he once admitted that if he’d allowed the immensity of the task to psyche him out, he never would have even started.

You think your job is too big for you?  Don’t back down.  Instead, take it slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece.  Don’t rush yourself.  Allow yourself to learn, to gain experience, and become stronger.  In RPG terms, level up first.  There are two roads that lead to the final challenge: the short cut and the more natural long way around.  Don’t take the short cut – you won’t last five seconds with level 3 characters against a foe that can do 9999 HP (Hit Points) of damage with one spell.  Take on smaller enemies first, building yourself up to stronger ones gradually to let you gain valuable experience and learn important techniques.

Ultimecia is a tough final boss.  She has four forms, each one more powerful than the previous.  But don’t be afraid.  The long road ahead will make you stronger and capable.  So the next time you start on a job and find yourself asking “How in the world am I going to do this?”, don’t worry.  Along the way you will learn and gain more experience.  Just do the best in whatever you have on your plate and your level will be high enough by the time you reach her castle.



Living life

Is it really a good thing when a girl you like goes to a movie with you?

It is a manifestly cultural thing among us Filipinos that when a girl asks you to see a movie with her – or at least consents to see a movie with you – it’s a big deal. It’s a very big deal! Especially when you like this girl and she knows it, it would then generally be safe that at the very least the girl likes you too and may be considering kicking off a relationship with you.

But is such a thing – the girl you’re courting going to see a movie with you – always a good sign? Culturally, it might be conclusive more often than it isn’t. But I don’t know…

Paraphrasing a girl that is not Filipino: why waste two hours sitting quietly inside a theater when you could spend the time having a meaningful conversation?

Admit it: for us Filipinos it is a big deal for a guy and a girl to see a movie together because culturally, we have an inherently dirty impression about movies – being dark places where anything could happen (mostly because in the 70s a lot of “things” did happen in the darkest corners of theaters – and back then theaters did have love seats). “It” seldom happens now – if it ever does – but our generation isn’t that far down from the old disco goers that we’ve become totally disconnected from the aftermath of their lifestyle. We are still living the culture that was spawned by what used to be general behavior that when a girl likes a guy, she’d consent on going with him to a place where he could practically do anything he wanted with her.

But remove the dubious culture. Remove the risque mind set. And then if you’re a girl, ask yourself this: if I like a guy and we’re just starting to get to know each other better, would I rather focus my attention to a movie or to him?

If you’re a guy, would you then consider it a good thing if a girl goes with you to a place where you’re expected to shut up and not bother her?

(It actually explains why my wife and I seldom see a movie together)

My musing at present may hold little water since we’re still caught in the slipstream of 70s culture. That’s fine. But we might want to put this in perspective just in case

Living life

Those who quit and win

This is not necessarily in defense of my employer.

Yesterday I spent my entire afternoon with Accenture managers from all over the MDC at our 2008 Executive Conference held at Shangrila Plaza in Makati. During a ‘kapihan’ huddle one of the topics we discussed was how to deal with tons of work and still strike a healthy work-life balance. It need not be said (at least among local I.T. professionals) that Accenture has a somewhat notorious (and not-so-fair) reputation of heavy workloads that the staff allegedly end up losing their lives outside of work. “If you value your personal/social life, don’t work in Accenture,” an anonymous source was quoted.

Here are the facts:

1. There is indeed tons of work in Accenture.

2. But then, the same is true for almost all big companies.

Before finally coming on board, I have received several calls inviting me to join Accenture, and I have to admit that one of the two main reasons I was reluctant in accepting the invitation to apply is the aforementioned notorious reputation (the other is don’t want to go on night shift). But now that I’m here, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a lesson I learned several years ago when I was still a work-logged consultant in California.

Here’s the lesson: There will always be work that you need to do. It never runs out, and this is particularly true for progressive companies. No matter how much work you did today, there will always be more tomorrow.

The key to avoid burning out from too much work is knowing how and when to tell yourself “That’s enough for now.”

The truth is it takes almost the same degree of discipline and restraint to stop working as to start working. Sometimes it takes more, especially when all your energy is focused and you’re in an almost frenzied momentum, such that you feel the only way for you to stop is for someone else to pry you off your workstation. What you must always drive into your head is that there will always be more of this on the next day. And perhaps the only time that work will run out is when you’re terminated or the company folds up. Which are very bad things. So you see, a company with tons of work is actually a good thing – it assures job security. But if you want to strike a healthy work-life balance, it’s up to you to tell yourself when you’ve done enough for the day.

(In addition, of course there will be times when we’d be called upon to work extended hours for a certain period, like when there’s a rush project or a backlog. But fortunately, this is the exception, not the rule. And again, it’s true for almost all companies)

Living life

In cash or in kind?

I think it was back in 2001 when a poor family became the sole winners of the USD78 million pot of the California state lottery. News later reported that the family (who refused to show their faces on camera) decided to take the money in full. Even though the real deal is that when a lottery winner decides to take the money in full he could only take half of it (as compared to taking the whole amount by installment), that was still a whopping USD39 million! That family doesn’t have to do a lick of work anymore and will sleep in financial security until the day they die.

Sound terrific, yeah?

Sometimes I get to thinking about what I would do if I’d won USD39 million (which at current rates is roughly equivalent to PHP1.5 billion). Some of the things that I definitely would do are:

1) Buy cars… and trucks… and more driveable things

2) Get a personal trainer

3) Treat my family and closest friends to a one-month all-expense paid trip to Hong Kong

4) Loads of other things that I’d rather not mention here

Then I get to really think about things. Like, I wouldn’t need to do a lick of work for the rest of my life. No need to strive for anything anymore because, well, I could buy just about anything. Even if I scatter the PHP1.5 billion in several time deposits and try to get by on nothing but interest earnings, that’s still PHP30 million a month! What the hell would I do with 30 million pesos a month?

I’d probably be the happiest man on earth, right?

What if I suddenly learn that I have cancer?

Oh yeah, earning 30 million a month, it would be a cinch to get the best medical care money could buy. But then, it doesn’t matter whether I’m being treated by a Nobel Prize-winning physician or a young intern from a small provincial clinic, ultimately I’d still be relying on God’s provisions to cure me of cancer.

In the bigger picture, whether I’m the richest man on the planet or a destitute blue collar worker, that doesn’t change my ultimate purpose in life – which is to bring glory to God in everything I say and do.

And in so fulfilling that purpose, would I really need 39 million dollars? If we could be focused on the real reason why we exist, does it really matter that we’re filthy rich, or dirt poor?

Yeah, it would certainly still be nice to be able to shop til we drop everyday or play video games on the biggest freaking plasma TV we could find, but I guess that’s about all there is with wealth. Nice to have, but not necessary.

(No matter how much i drool over a pimped Skyline GT-R)

Living life

Burning someont to death isn’t fun

My streak of the world’s weirdest dreams continues.

There’s this girl who suddenly starts paying too much attention to me, and one day she invites me to her house, where her friends were having a get-together. Cutting a long story short, I was elated at first but then I realized there was something sinister about the gathering. Having brought some of my friends along, I was gripped by the shock of my life when they all died one by one, victims of traps where blades either suddenly shot out of drinking glasses and walls which sliced their necks or chopped their heads clean off. Horrified, I decided to do what any sensible person in the throes of a nightmare would do, I woke up.

Here’s the kickass part. I only partially woke up and then went back to sleep, with the conscious thought that the carnage has to be undone. So what happens is I went into the dream again, starting at the point when my friends and I were just arriving at this girl’s house. This time, though, I know what’s about to happen (you could say I went back in time, wahaha), so when the blade traps started springing, I somehow was able to protect my friends, save one (don’t really know him IRL). Then I began beating the crap out of this girl and her friends, who were in on her scheme. The story unfolded that in the past my dad had a brief romantic liaison with her mom, after which my dad abandoned her, pushing her to madness and then suicide. So this villain mastermind-ish plot of hers was to get revenge on me.

In the rewind, though, turns out she didn’t realize who it is she was really dealing with. At first I don’t know how I managed to protect my friends. But after realizing she could not win against me, she decided to take her own life by drinking water from another glass that shot a bladed weapon through her skull. But she didn’t die immediately. Somehow she got hold of a device that when activated would release similar bladed traps that would kill everyone I cared about.

So what did I do? I heat-visioned her ass, until nothing was left of her but ash (that’s what I meant when I said she didn’t realize who she was really dealing with).

No, I have no aspirations of being Superman. That’s not even the point of this post. I’m just wondering how come I always get the weirdest dreams. Is this normal? I don’t know. If this is, as I suspect, just a harmless manifestation of my imagination struggling to be unleashed, then I suppose I’m in the wrong line of work.

Living life Uncategorized

Just saying it…

I think it’s safe to say it here since no one reads this blog anyway.

My dad has cancer. Funny, I’ve always felt sorry for people who had expressed that a loved one has cancer. I know it is difficult for them, and my heart always went out for them. But to me it has always been like knowing that a broken bone is painful. I know it is, but I have no idea just how much. I have no graphic description of the pain since I’ve never had my bones broken.

 Now I know. Words can’t describe. Even though my dad and I had never been super-close (I’ve always been closer to my mom), it’s still indescribably hard.

Helpless. Hopeless. Impotent. Alone. Those words seem meaningless next to this.

All other problems seem so inane and insignificant.

And God seems so far away.

I know He’s here. His words say so. My wife says so. But I just couldn’t feel his care and protection right now.

Right now, I feel exposed, unsafe, undefended, and alone. Right now, I feel that my enemies have won.

Living life Uncategorized

Coffee lovers have no place in a paranoid society?

I was reading Joy’s blog post on why women like flowers, encountered this that reminded me of something.

What’s more, the female respondents are loud and clear on the point that men do not need to be madly in love to send a woman a spontaneous gift of flowers — any form of fondness, including friendship and fraternal, is appropriate.”

I think the need for mentioning the sentence I quoted above represents a small indication of a bigger problem. While in a discussion with some friends, I was told that society in general considers

“Wanna go for coffee?”

as a pick-up line.

My reaction: WHAT?!?

So if the aforementioned flower article blogger asks me to go out for coffee, or vice versa (which we did a few times in the past, though none actually pushed through), does that mean she or I wants something else to happen between us?

Stupid, diba? I’m a coffee lover, she’s a coffee lover. Heck, millions of Filipinos are coffee lovers. So where does that leave people like us when the most straightforward way of expressing one’s intent to enjoy a steaming cup of brew at the nearest Starbucks with a friend is regarded as something that carries a deeper (and to some, more sinister) meaning?

I think today’s society has adapted a more profound and, might I add, totally unnecessary sense of paranoia. And that’s a very bad thing.

Living life Uncategorized

Doomsday itinerary

What is it with me and nightmares?

I mean, most people have bad dreams about going out half-naked, being attacked by a horde of vampires, or seeing themselves in a casket. I get some of that too, particularly the horde of vampires variety. But in my case, it isn’t exactly a nightmare since in my dream, I’m a legendary vampire slayer, and I always manage to obliterate the thousands of vampires I fight (don’t ask me how – there’s a reason it’s called “dream”, wahaha).

Sometimes I have nightmares not of the terrifying type, but those that are so sad they’re debilitating, where I’d wake up almost to the point of tears. Usually about certain people that are dear to me but I haven’t been speaking to because of some conflict beyond my control.

But lately, I’ve been having the apocalyptic type. Like asteroids crashing down to earth. There was this one where I saw a weird pattern of clouds in the sky – weird because the clouds are arranged in a neat row stretching from horizon to horizon, moving perpendicular to its length. And everything on the ground freezes instantaneously as they pass overhead. I remember frantically running to the nearest McDonalds shop and turning on all stoves and ovens to prevent myself from freezing.

Last night, every building in Makati was toppling over to its side while radios scream of the worst terrorist hit ever. I was running like mad trying to avoid a storm of debris heading my way. At first the debris were small pieces of metal and glass which somehow I was able to dodge. But then they turned into large chunks of concrete. No way avoiding them. I was faced with certain death.

So I woke up, with my heart racing twice as fast and my stomach burning with the mother of all indigestion pain. Was the nightmare so lucid and terrifying that my body manifested the horror physically?Â

Could be. At first I wanted to call Mike, Markku, Pao, Leia or Hana and ask them if they were also suffering from indigestion from last night’s Meatshop sisig, but eventually decided off it when the furnace in my stomach died down after a few minutes.

It was the nightmare, no doubt about it.

I wonder what’s next in my nocturnal apocalyptic itinerary…