Influences (or Why I Write the Way I Do)

Natalie Goldberg (free-flowing writing)
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (wild woman writing)
Jane Hutchison (direct-to-the-point writing)
Ernest Hemingway (simple words writing)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

In the Wisdom of Yaman (Kids) at Play


(As always, that smile is priceless!)

yaman and i went mega-malling today. she directed the itinerary; first stop, toy kingdom. not the kind to point to whatever toy in sight, she chose one that expresses her love for the kitchen - a breakfast set, complete with bread toaster and coffee maker. she kept on mentioning the carousel the whole week but no! when we got there and bought the tokens, she didn't like being wound around on top of a wooden horse so we backed out (i.e., the tokens i gave away to 2 women with 4 kids in tow). we went instead to 'My Playroom', a playing spot for babies and children beside Egg in Building A. with just the two of us, i had to keep watch and tarry along like any other supervising adult. i sat back most of the time though; just watching her interact with the other kids.

some of yaman's inclinations inside that playroom reinforced some sense of her uniqueness and our likenesses. like me, she doesn't like that much physical exertion - did not try the slides. like me, she likes keeping things and organizing them in drawers and boxes - as she did at the kitchen and make-up table. unlike me, she likes the kitchen so much more as a cook - playing with the cutting boards and vegetables. unlike me, she is outwardly feminine in her love for make-up, beautifying herself in the mirror once in a while. inside her world that is the playroom, i saw how yaman could carry her independence well - she knew which nooks to go(the kitchen, the dressing/drawing room, the trampoline ring with balls, and those playhouses); knew how to negotiate the use of toys and mini-cars (e.g., she would look at the kid eye-to-eye and say 'excuse me, pwede...'). with the silent language of kids, yaman knew how to circulate; knew when she should give way to younger kids at the make-up table and when 'space' inside the playhouse is too much for her presence (max of 3 children that is).


(Mom, off-limits ka dito!)

in observing, i got a glimpse of what rober fulghum meant in his book, 'all i need to know i learned in kindergarten'. because there amid the 'chaos' of children and adults, a peace lingers all because children by training have been learned to share, to wait for one's turn, and to not be pushy. connections were made as easily by reaching out with one's toys, one's smile and one's company. two kids, a girl and a boy, 'found' each other and were referring to each other as 'my boyfriend' and 'my girlfriend'. i took a picture of them but knowing their rights, i'm not posting it here. but the picture told of how they connected and were playing video games together like very good friends. inside little houses, yaman played house with 2 girls and in the 'kitchen nook', she and one girl were arranging things in their mini-kitchen. the girl was perhaps 7 years old and at that age, she knew that breads should come together and fruits were stacked neatly inside cupboards with matching plates.


(Yaman and her instant 'Ate' at the kitchen room)

these i took in in just over an hour of looking at yaman and children around her from afar. see how 'life' could be condensed in one hour to remind us of the promise within ourselves and to all of humanity, through our children.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fasting

starting this holy week of 2009, i've started fasting. the first was last wednesday (ash wednesday) and again today, friday. i committed myself to do so in all fridays of the holy week, and in all holy weeks for the rest of my life. so far, i'm holding up well as i contend with 'just' the shake mix from herbalife. this afternoon, i had coffee and milo since feeling a little dizzy at 4pm. got the inspiration from bestfriend cora who started fasting in 2000 and attributes this ritual habit to the disappearance of her backaches and frequent sinusitis. when i was in perth in 1999, my bestfriend janty would do so during ramadan. now that is real fasting. she takes breakfast before sunrise; and dinner after sunset. janty's not taking anything --- even water for the rest of the time the sun is up there shining. i pity her so much since ramadan in december falls at the time of summer in australia (yeah, it's a strange country) as janty's body cannot compensate the heat with water intake. no, i am not yet attuned with the 'spirit' and other than health benefits, i am not doing this for 'soul-cleansing'. if it gets to that, then, it's an added bonus.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Minding My Momentum

my problem with writing is not the start-up, it's the momentum. i can write anywhere, under any condition, and regardless of the time. my train of thought stays even if i'm interrupted to the point that i feel my hands are slower by 10 paces than that of my brain. my hands just cannot catch up. i can even end a sentence half-way just to break for lunch and continue like i never left afterwards. like here, i blog for about 5 minutes then i'm off again to the write-up. for me, it's the build up that counts. so it means a lot if i can write the whole day, without the thought of a 3pm meeting or appointment at the mall by 6pm. this is the predicament i'm in right now. to yoga or not. to see pio or not. at 730pm. it has been two weeks and my back is pain-free. for me, the barometer of too much stress is an aching back. whatever, i'll just probably ditch.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lamentations: A Filipina on Motherhood

To society's expectations
I wish to bend
Be around 24/7
My scent as staple as milk
To not entrust the child
To strangers
To not endure her uncaring stare
As off I go to work
And not be guilt-ridden
As I weigh personal ambition
Against maternal responsibility
To endure the possibility
Of being just a voice
A presence in mails and photos
The threat of the child
Forgetting my name

But could society be kinder
And bend in turn to mothers like me?
For motherhood to evolve
In different forms but not less nurturing
For working mothers to be accepted
No less than are working fathers
For absence to be filled in
By networks no less castigating

In the meantime
As long as motherhood is a social construct
To it I remain a renegade
Carving out nooks and spaces
For quality time
Trusting intuition and holding on to trust
Living out terms and rules of my making
Against guilt imposed
And eternally despaired

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Next Coming

helene was my MU in highschool. she was a girl and i was a girl. between the two of us though, i was the 'girl' although as a foreboding of relationships to come up with the real stuff (or with men, not necessarily 'real'), i was the more in love one. as in, i swooned over her during highschool, her boyishness and those brown eyes that sparkle under the sun. see my language? i believed then that i was so 'in love' with her, with nary an inkling of how deep love can go and can hurt with the, uhm, real thing.

anyway, i got over it. in the sense that when i stepped into LB and had my first school setting with boys, i realized that my interest lies on the opposite sex. no, my relationship with helene was not anything sexual. walang sinabi sa mga relationships daw ngayon. there was no kissing or intimacy whatsoever. hawakan lang ako sa kamay, matutunaw na ako, intimacy pa kaya? and we never (now i'm squirming) thought of it. i bet that helene will say that it never crossed her mind too. our idea of getting together was watching movies together and eating afterwards. that time, i was already ultra-happy. simple lang kaligayahan that time.

now i count helene as one of my bestfriends, she's even yaman's ninang. i hold her in confidence and vice-versa. all my heartbreaks she knows and vice versa. now that she's in london, we rarely communicate but once we see each other like last year when she went home to have her residence visa there finalized, it's as if she never left with the depth of our conversations. with us, there is no need to explain. acceptance is full. with open arms, always.

people mis-distinguish me as boyish because i have short hair, look boyish, able to mimic a deep manly voice (as alvin would kid me over the phone), have a liking towards jeans, boots, and bench shirts na panglalake. sa taxi, i am even addressed as 'sir' would you believe? isa kong ka-meeting noon from government was stumped when i told her na mother na ako. she probably thought otherwise because i was wearing a tie. babaw no? also, i have a lot of friends who have realized that they are tomboys and lesbians alike and i've kept their company all those years. i understood this affinity too well. one that probably lies in full acceptance of one's self and of who my friends are. these friends are the most honest, fiercely loyal persons i know. yet they are aware of their realities. some of them have come out while some are still biding their time with their families, and in their social communities. in time, i know they will summon the courage to open up.

so why am i opening this up? partly because i miss helene and all my bestfriends who have left the country for good (like liza and verg). i miss our friendship built through the years of complete honesty. perhaps because with helene and our MU days together, i am made more aware how i criss-crossed over my myriad of personalities over the years. i see through my complexities and paradoxes as a person yet these continue to make me whole. so i am a man-nish woman. definitely deep down a woman in the sexual and gender-ed sense of the word.

i am grateful to have known women who have explored themselves in different ways and entered not-usual relationships and trusted me nonetheless. in an un-just society, they may be 'labelled'. i wish to let them know through this blog that they are the most beautiful, human and courageous persons i know, for allowing themselves to blossom and flower, even if within the confines of secret, secret gardens within their souls.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Contentados

18 loan assessments
19 TA assessments
and i haven't done anything
yet
i have yet to start
on the real
sector assessment
heaven help me

but i am entitled
to starbucks coffee jelly
a day of you-tubing
minutes to blog
yoga twice a week
hearty lunches
tolkien up
till 1pm
yaman's giggles
at bedtime

i'll be fine
really

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Prom Memories

my god-daughter ianne had her prom yesterday. for a girl below 18, that would be a mini-'coming out' or a prelude to one's debut. not that ianne would really need one, or in the formal sense. i believe that in 2007, ianne had the first stirrings of love in her. and just like any woman's story, it all began with a boy.

it's so embarrassing, but i've forgotten the name of my partner that prom night of feb 1987. was it richard? or alvin? i believe that i was more excited with the dresses and the parlor beforehand than the boy itself. well because it was really just a friendly date. this boy i usually see biking with his friends along ramaida centrum. every school day, i walk the stretch of elias angeles, from colegio to the gasoline station (was it even shell? grrrrr, failing failing memory!) which is along the route of jeeps going to concepcion. so i see this boy everyday. with his friends and with his bike. he is a little mestizo, with curly hair, not too tall or too short. so in one sense, bagay kami, at least sa height. he he. so i think a week before the prom, and my heart was broken then with helene (yeah, MU ko sa aming exclusive girls' school. halos lahat kami may MU nun!), i took a chance. i spoke with jing villareal then and asked her, kung pwede kaya yung atenistang naka-bike who happens to be her neighbor. true to her word, she spoke to the guy and set us up on our prom date.

perhaps because i had no romantic attachments to my prom date, he does not really stand out magnificently among my prom memories. i remember most the euphoria, of folding my gown, heading to mabel's house in villa sorabella, going to the parlor with her, liza and bolly, going back to sorabella to don our dresses and shoes and taking the car ride to colegio courtesy of mabel's dad. it was a happy occasion, with subdued pink and red lights enveloping the winding staircase and the white tables strategically arranged along the hallways surrounding it. my prom date was in like gray/ silver suit and of course, handsome to my taste. and we had one dance because all throughout the affair, we were either talking to each other or with the whole group. he was not interested in me really since no word from him came after the prom. even though, i still thank him for completing my highschool experience.

so ianne was very happy last night because i heard from her mom that her date was not only dashing but very gentlemanly as well. sorta, edward cullen-like? anyway, we girls are entitled to be happy that way, even for just one night. we are entitled to experience the magic of an event, which could transform us and give us a glimpse of how special we are as women. on that event, we become conscious of beauty once hidden behind braces, of curves covered by drab school uniforms, of bearing magnified by high heels in place of gregg shoes. in one night, we witness ourselves as queens in the center of the spotlight, our men content to be in the background. ah, if only that night could extend well over our lifetimes.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Birth Foretelling

she was born the traditional way. the time the partera released her from the womb, it was a little after the horn blast from the old bacnotan cement factory signaling 12 midnight of february 21. the child was born without her father tending her mother's side and so her grandfather commanded things inside the two-story wooden house in nagatiran, the floors upstairs made of bamboo slats creaking softly amidst the patter of feet fussing over the newborn. so wrapped in katsa, the newborn was placed beside old violin musical pieces, math computations of her lolo, and love letters exchanged with her maternal lola who has since crossed over 5 years ago. these 'things', mementos of old, were meant to cast meaning and dynamic over the life of this newborn in ways, at 38 years old, she has yet to fully understand.

violin music she likes, her ears filled with Vivaldi while working because it gives the highs in writing, akin to orgasmic highs. true, the closest thing that she can associate with orgasm is violin music, especially at presto when the chords break pitch-high and the bows quiver at their peak. math she likes. a realization brought to light by her father who noticed way back in 1991, while reviewing her transcript, that where numbers were involved, her grades were highest - algebra, physics, financial management, quantitative business analysis, and later, calculus. she would not forget the golden advice given to her by a math genius, 'the beauty in math is its truth, its simplicity. just follow the equation to get your answers. just follow it. that simple. follow it, it does not lie'. true indeed. the trick though is that equations are not just equations. deep into them, they tell of relationships which sometimes, as in life, could be very hard to unravel. love letters she likes. as in, she likes writing; the first she wrote not for her but for her bestfriend and the boy she loves, still loves, and has taken for a husband. effective for the bestfriend but alas, not for her. the love letters she loved most writing was for a boy named ricky and the tortuous last for someone named aldrin. after that, she has stopped and in mixed frustration and jest, can only write about them in blogs. and still despite these that she likes, she knows deep within her that the power of the violin, math and love letters are still working its way over the threads that make up her life; and their power has yet to be unleashed, with hers.

and it did not end there on the dawn of 21 feb 1971. her umbilical cord was strung high over the madre de cacao in the front yard and for days, it was held by a branch for kids, as is the custom, to take turns blasting it with a slingshot until it fell. it is said that until the cord falls, the newborn would not be able to breathe as freely and rest from hardy crying. such is what fell the newborn for the first two days of her life. by the time the cord fell on the third day, the crying stopped and the newborn was left at peace. so perhaps that is how life unravels for her. brave and courageous in exposing herself to the elements until assailed and fell over; to breathe into new life once more. life-death-life. a phoenix on the rise, a master of her becoming.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Random Thoughts on My Last Day as a 37-Year Old

Green is the color of ricefields, to me the most breathtaking sight in the world. Fresh green ricefields fluffy enough to lie on. The best ricefields lie along the Magarao-Calabanga stretch of 3 years ago in 2005 when I, Angeline and Jopen visited Cora, 4 of the 5 members of Joan Roan-Co (a later blog). I wonder whether they still exist, with housing developments creeping on the once glorious ricefields of my childhood, as those flanking the Pili-Naga road.



As one gets old, the question gets into why we like what we like. Perhaps because I am more an Earth person than the water sign to which my birth-month falls and the metal element to which my birth-year abides. Soon I will have a house of green, and light yellow and brown hues. With a lawn and a backyard. A veranda on top for afternoon coffee. Or budget-permitting, a wrap-around porch to accommodate the loners, the musicians, the writer-bloggers, the painters, the fortune-tellers, and even the tsismosas of my household. A house set back against the sun in the afternoon and basking in it in the mornings. Where chimes sway and tinkle with the wind. Bears the onslaught of storms, a refuge to all. A house of old stone, old bricks, and the fresh old love of family.

(Pictures courtesy of Fotosearch)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How To Write a Technical Proposal

It is a common misconception among consulting firms that the Proposal Writer is the key to writing a good technical proposal and to winning half-way a Project. In my experience as a Proposal Writer for about 5 firms and for over 100+ proposals, nothing could be more wrong than heaping the accolades (rarely) and blame (most surely) on us proposal writers. So what should be the golden rules in making a good proposal? Here I name a few.

1. Study the problem well and I mean invest on it. It’s not enough that one does a site visit. Normally, that just ends as a junket and a welcome respite from work to the one visiting; especially if the project involves plane trips somewhere in the South and even outside the country. Normally, data gathered are those from CLUPs and socioeconomic profiles that, if not inadequate, are too old to be relevant. A good enough site visit would take about 2 weeks with a clear itinerary of who to talk to and what data to collect. I suggest chop the agenda in strategic areas like institutional stakeholders, project beneficiaries especially poor groups (now that poverty reduction in every agenda of a proposal), the environment, and logistics (for informed costing and design of travel and transport, communications, security, and other management arrangements). You need only two people. The one from your company and your contact in the project area.

2. Study your client. NO, I don't mean studying how much the backer/s will get and the length of the chain of influence. Leave that to the hustlers. Studying your client means what they can get out of the Project especially as to their mandate, the importance of their departments in accessing funding to fulfill this mandate, and their contribution vis-a-vis the work of other agencies and its regional implications (e.g., the latter especially if the project is integrated). Take them seriously as some of them are just misguided now in thinking that projects are meant to be gold mines for them. Orient your proposal in a way that will allow your Client to fulfill that mandate and make that crucial regional contribution.

3. Involve your Team Leader and as much as your pockets will allow, all members of the team in proposal preparation. If you’re budget-challenged, stick with the TL. This presupposes though that you have a good one and I mean, one who knows how tie her/his shoelaces and walk in them. One who knows the technical and management side of the Project and of implementation. S/he will be your company's literal body, mind and soul so s/he has to have a hand in designing how to execute the Project in its entirety and tie it all in its sub-components. If your prospective TL will say, 'Sorry, I don’t know how to write pero magaling ako sa implementation', slam the door to his/her face. Report writing is a crucial part of her/his TOR and cannot be compromised. One caveat though, if you're going to engage the TL/other members in proposal writing, make sure that you have exclusive rights to their engagement. Leakage, like nursing exams, is a sad part of consulting too.

4. Walk through your Implementation and Staffing Schedule with your consultants. Consultants could really be taken for granted. Some end up as CVs to the proposal or just mere signatures to a page. Huwag naman. Consultants deserve better than that. For them to have ownership early on with the Project, and bond with the team and with your management, try engaging them in brainstorming sessions on the implementation and staffing schedule. Involve them in actual sequencing and activity planning. You'll be surprised to learn, given their experience, how much time geologic surveys or consultations with upland IPs could take. This is one way of meaningfully involving them in proposal preparation and enlivening their appreciation of the Project. Brainstorming sessions could also early on identify critical discussion points or even flashpoints between subcomponents of your proposal. There and then, you can better anticipate problems and prepare by adjusting your design, cost, or project management arrangements.

5. Rarely assume and if you do, cost it well. List all your assumptions on, say, pre-engineering surveys, pre-testing and studies to be undertaken (by the Client or yours); logistical requirements (site office or HQ? maps and equipment? provided for free or with a fee?), number of consultations and trainings etc. From this list, you will easily identify what questions/ issues will have to be raised in the pre-bid conference or in route questioning allowed in some government bids (e.g. WB bid on ARCDP-IA). Costing your assumptions well will of course increase your financial bid but will save you a lot of headache in case you win and the project gets running. Huwag magtipid! Ang nagtitipid, makikitid!

6. Do not forget the value-added; occasionally traced by the byline-of-the-month of the supporting donor agency. There was a time when gender was in vogue, then good governance, then climate change, and now, assistance to weak-performing economies. Study how your proposal could address pressing donor priorities. If not applicable, then stick to the basics like to what extent could your consulting services cover project monitoring, review of EA reports, or assist in capacity development through counter-parting.

7. Let it go. One must not be too immersed in preparing a perfect proposal. You are not the world. There is a point by which you stop re-working the design, the schedules, the financials, even the covers. You have to make sure that all the effort is worth it and that requires submitting your proposal in time. Too many tears have been shed for 'perfect' proposals running 1-5 minutes late to the deadline. Diba, Mading Joey, the best reward after a long drawn-out period of preparing is in the submission? I still remember Joey calling me one afternoon while I lay already half-asleep saying that the MTSP proposal was submitted 1:34 that afternoon at MWSS. I swear I slept then with a smile on my lips.

Good Luck and May You be Blessed by Good Karma All the Way!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Irreparable

it is one thing to reduce me to my hysterics. the issue i had with woodfields stemmed from their blatant manipulation of our billing rates with the davao tamugan water supply project. the issue is not AT ALL my hysterics. so when i riled against its business development department, the department i used to head, it is because they have stooped low to unsound business practices, just to get a project. too cheap, too narrow, so un-woodfields. this is not the department and the leadership i left in 2007.

so when out of the blue, supposed 'friends' from that department come to me and harp on 'friendship' to get me back into the fold, without nary a 'sorry', an honest apology and attempt to reduce the issue to my hysterics; then perhaps i should accept now that i have just wasted three and a half years of my professional life carrying the torch for woodfields. i really lost this one.

here's one for all you there in kamias. you should have really considered our friendship, the deep full meaning of it when you all turned against me on the davao-tamugan project. you should have all considered that before turning the tables and what? 1. calling me a liar; 2. calling my blog 'libelous'; and 3. destroying my ties with doc medina who i respected so much like a father. sana naisip nyo yun before you were all swayed by your ambitions, by the hierarchy edging you on to write that letter against your intentions (i know who you are, "manoy"); and by the need to make the quota and feed your leadership with lies, lies, lies to clear your names. all of you. lahat kayo TRAYDOR!

in the end, we will all be harvesting our own karma. one fine day, heaven help you as the wrath of karma spin wildly, and in full, in your direction, just as you all deserve.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Word Play sa Filipino

tatlong taong walang diyos

tatlong taon walang diyos
tatlong tao na walang diyos
tatlong taon nawala ang diyos
tatlong tao na wala lang diyos
tatlong taon nawalan ng diyos
tatlong tao nawalan ng diyos


(While alone at the taxi, I normally play with words like I do with this famous Mario O'Hara whose movie on FPJ entitled 'Agila', I have yet to get a copy. Can I have one for my birthday? Ha ha ha. Pero no joke. I can only get to six. Can you do more? So you see? The Filipino language is very robust! Every letter can be split into several inflections and meanings. I'm very privileged to know the most beautiful language in the world.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

At Home and Working

i'm ordered to have bed rest. but it seems, i get sicker lying in bed especially in the afternoons. so after packing my notes, arriving home and taking yaman to a 2-minute stroll to her school, and lunching on pusit, i started to work. that was at 1:50pm. on the bed, my version of bed rest. well, at least i'm home. that part, i compromised with doc ida. the highlight of my day is of course taking yaman to school; the same for tomorrow, perhaps i'll fetch her even and we can have goto sa may kanto. i'm not saying i'm enjoying it. because if there's a timebomb ticking for my assessments to reach hanoi in due time, how can i enjoy my 'bed rest'? but since, i'm closer to yaman. might as well say that, i love it. even though, nakakahiya pa rin sa kanya. since mommy is still working on the computer while she's sleeping and most probably during her waking hours from 6:30 to 12 midnight tonight. yun eh, wala tayo magawa. life is a bunch of things you never want or set out to be. so why fight it? embrace na lang to the max, hanggang sa kung ano'ng makakaya.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Body Will

where there's a will, there's a way. Hang on. Without health, will cannot move forward. Di ko na kinaya. Lost my voice and while my mind was working on the criteria, the body was aching all over. Ok, time to call it a week. Here's my new take on an old adage. When the body speaks, the will listens.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Snowballs

My snowballs are as one wrote, 'being doused by hot water', now. Ayayay, so this is where frugality for the past 3 years will arrive to? Ohnono, my financial management habits are just experiments after all. Mymymy, how shall I protect Yaman should I die early and unexpectedly? Tktktk, the wind blows on your face and life throws a curved ball.

Ewan, magtitiyaga na lang on the little snowballs left and pray to the One Up There (OUT sya dito?) for nice chilly weather to keep my snowballs intact in the next 30 years. As one wise advice says, 'the best copy is still the hard copy'. so, the best money is still the hard money. the one that you can see and inspect every day. nasa alkansya, nasa kama, nasa baul. Pre-need in these hard times? I say, maintain small and keep the chunk.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Will Love You Tomorrow

sorry i'm so aloof
very distant and preoccupied
it's not my habit
to look up anymore
and admire a man's stance
his gait, his hair
sorry i didn't notice you stare

sorry i don't get to care
sans make-up sans parfum
i only have what lies in between
my temples
they put me and daughter through
not your ideal
wife and mother material
my day ends at twilight
sorry i didn't hear you right

sorry i'm just not interested
i'd rather play with daughter
or read or cross-stitch
or hang out in bookstores
dine alone with my thoughts
dawdle in sweet memories
carry no one else
not connected by blood
or faithful friendship
sorry i have to turn you down

perhaps i must and should
but can i love you tomorrow?
tomorrow in every day
that turns and goes
endless tomorrows
an exercise in waiting
and waiting
and perhaps
waiting in vain

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Obscene World

I live in an obscene world

To help comes with a personal premium
Million-dollar earning expats pledging to help less than a dollar-a-day earning poor

To be beautiful is to become perfect
Brown Asian women wanting western ivory skins

To millions and instant fame dreaming is reduced
The dreams of youth confined to showbiz and becoming branded 'idols'

To be rich is to be enslaved
Doctors become nurses to earn golden bucks abroad

To prepare comes at the cost of love
A good future is to leave behind one's family and one's homeland

To nurture is to rely nurturing from others
Working mothers subsisting on quality but so little time for their children

I made it an obscene world.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Detail Freak

if i haven't been into evaluation, i wouldn't realize this - i'm a detail freak! i just can't be satisfied with one report on a project to assess its progress. i'd rather read through its history, even if it would take me three days to go all the working and peculiarities of its implementation. after reading all reports and aide memoires could i get the whole story and all the links to the outcomes. i cannot just skim the document and do speed reading. i'll read the doc, even if i'm in the taxi, and put in an extra hour every night to read alone in our dome-sized consultants' hall,...before leaving for guijo. my bosses are getting resigned to my outputs --- lengthy detailed assessments, complete with numbers and analysis of relationships escaping even them trained long enough in evaluation. one boss told me, 'vitti, we're both looking at the same document, but how come your analysis is deeper?'. it's not in the document, creep. it's in the detail.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

'Tis Corruption Season!

just watched winnie monsod's analysis of WB corruption at a shared video of her segment in QTV-News at 9 (or shall i say 930pm every mon-fri?). yung sinasabi na style of pre-arranging by means of financial manipulation, matagal na yan. lutong makaw ang tawag dyan. buhay pa tatay ko ng 1990s ginagawa na iyan. ito ang mga bagong style (well, naabutan as of oct 2008 pala):

1. pagluluto mismo sa proposals. say 3 firms, firm A will be picked to win. firm b and c will prepare sub-standard proposals for A to win. then sa susunod na bid, round robin sila (B wins then C...). this usually works for projects managed under a facility like those na pinauso ng kapita-pitagan (daw) na mga pro-development banks dito sa atin

2. pag-aayos sa points system ng technical proposal under QCBS (yes, mighty folks there in ortigas, your QCBS is not unassailable). ilalapit nila ang mga scores ng firms to each other para negligible ang impact ng technical sa overall score. ginagawa ito ng BAC. for the financial proposal, i-eestimate nila yung fees/rates in previous proposals of the participating bidders (parang trending) then yung ayaw nilang manalo na bidder, they will make sure na super baba ng technical para di makahabol in case lowest financial bid sya. example dito mga projects sa tubig na ginagamit natin pang-araw araw.

3. sa procurement rules natin, may rule na nagsasabi na pag 2x na failed bidding sa isang project, direct nego will be the final recourse. ginagamit yan to the max ngayon. the first 2 bidding process are carried out in the sly, like pina-publish sa mga newspapers na mababa readership. pag wala nag-submit ng bids, direct nego na. example dito yung mga pang lokal na proyekto

4. kontrata-han, especially for grant money coursed through government agencies. the agency approaches several firms, lays out the conditions (garapal talaga) and the one who can stomach it (or can 'manage' it safely within their accounts) bags the project. example: wag na, ongoing pa project eh he he he

before, the going rate is 20-25% of the remuneration (consultants' fees). for big loan projects (like P30M above), it's 10-20% of the total (remu + reimbursables).

i have interesting observations din na pwedeng maging tips sa future earnest scholars on our brand of corruption:

1. may filipino-ism ang culture of corruption sa atin. kasama sa picture ang kamag-anak pati mga ninong, kumpare, in-laws. i bet the sharing and hiding of the 'loot' also happens this way. so one tip to investigators -- di nyo ma-nail si director o congressman? gawa kayo ng kamag-anak list. then expand to a matrix. ilagay properties ng bawat kamag-anak. i bet may isa dyan na multi-billionaire na within the span of say, 3 years? multi-layering kumbaga.

2. slave-boss relationship is enforced. yung mga runner at receivers are the ones below the chain and the ones expendable. sila yung nane-name at nabibigyan ng 15 minutes of fame sa senado

3. the money trail is traceable, i tell you. because corruption has grown rampant in recent years, walang ng finesse, as in garapalan. kaya ngayon pa lang, trace mo na monet sa mga bank accounts and TIN. meron nga sa account ng isang lowly staff not earning more than 20k/ month, pinadedeposit ang milyones. may iba naman, tumatanggap na ng check, nagsa-sign pa at nilalagay ang TIN sa voucher. garapal nga pero mga tanga pa rin.

4. the trend now is that pabata ng pabata ang mga 'corruptors' in government. ang babata talaga, as in early 30s, marunong ng maglaro. wala ng good role models eh. mga MBA at MSPA graduates pa yan. ang iba nga, nakapag-aral pa abroad courtesy of prestigious aid scholarships. pero ganun pa rin, ugaling dukha sa pera. lahat sinisimot, ultimong singko.

sana ma-maintain ang momentum. sana the WB mess will open floodgates. on foresight though, i'm not sure whether this will arrive at anything substantial. our institutions kasi are in a mess. sa tingin mo the ones investigating corruption in the senate are as pure as angels? i say no no no no no (amy winehouse style). they weren't born yesterday. self-aggrandizing lang yan for 2010 aspirations. we are represented by the wrong people. and we cannot do anything more than complain and blog about it because we are preoccupied by our own problems to afford the time. and this is where i am ashamed of myself. konti pang push, dear.

Monday, February 9, 2009

blogging nang di oras

in basic sociology, it is said that people use strategies to preoccupy themselves, look busy, and shield themselves from unwanted attention while alone in a crowd. The mere wearing of glasses and earphones is a shield. Texting is also one and that includes mobile blogging. Got really pissed off at this derma clinic. I was the 1st of 3 women to wait in line. But the 2nd passed me over because she knew the doctor and the med asst who saw me arrived first was in the backroom. You see, matagal nako nagpapatingin dito pero with another doctor, yung kapatid ng derma. The derma didn't know me and wasn't advised na nauna ako. Technically forgiven. Pero that 2nd lady, mukha pa namang disente, ang salbahe. She saw me waiting in line and heard who i was waiting for. Wala man lang courtesy to point this out to the derma doctor. Ang simpleng courtesy naman nun, di man lang inobserve. Kaya heto, i'm whiling my time again by blogging, accidentally. Buti na lang may cell. To keep me occupied as inside i'm seething in disgust of the prolonged stay here. Minsan, ang sarap ding mang-salbahe ng salbahe.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Na-Allergy Ako!

the allergies i know are nasal. the one i contracted today is the first. na magpantal buong katawan. starting from the neck, then to pant marks at the waist and the panty line. then along the creases in my arms then the wrists then the hands. after a few minutes, the marks started showing down my legs and my feet. (strangely, spared lower legs, bakit kaya?) it would start out like tiny insect bites, red spots, until they would swell na parang 'libaka'. the first time. the closest i can associate it with is sa kagat ng higad. nahigad na ako nun, at 13 years old sa labas ng bahay namin sa naga, down the santol tree. nang may santol pa.
(After the neck, dito sa crease ng arm naman).
i thought it was skin asthma. so i applied VCO all over my neck then the waist etc. but when it started to spread, i thought 'ah, iba na ito'. so never the one to panic, i went downstairs and in sequence, ate sugar, drank water with sugar, and took 4 fern-c tablets. a call to doctor ida after and within 15 min, drank claritin. that was at 705pm. by 920pm, the marks have subsided, the swell flattening, turning red, then blending in with the skin.
(then sa wrist (top) and later the back of the hand (bottom))

in sequence, here is what i had the whole day. hbl tablet and shake at 9am, coffee 915am, hbl tab by 11am, pan de coco at 1110am, peanut butter sandwhich 1115am, nilagang spareribs 12pm, mcdo french fries and mcnuggets 315pm, hbl tea 4pm, hbl guarana 415pm. my bet is the mcnuggets because the one i had at mcdo-anonas was already 'old' na by mcdo standards. di na bagong luto, matigas na din. they made me wait for 5 minutes kasi may isinama silang isa, isa lang na bagong luto sa box. as in, mainit-init at umuusok-usok pa. pero isa lang yun. nag-iisang isa. am not making a case against mcdo ha? am just stating what was unusual amongst all i had today. sarap no? kaya lang at a price.
(last na sa upper leg. this is my left leg)
nag-subside na sa neck, sa arms and sa kamay, the rest to follow of course. but am still seeing the doctor tomorrow. less because of worry but more of curiosity. saan ako na-allergy? sa mcnuggets na seemingly harmless? the rest, matagal ko nang tine-take. kinasanayan ko na. mahirap na din, the first may not be the last.

by the pictures, whaddaya think?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Anti-Smoking Campaign

maliligo, magto-toothbrush
magbibihis ng magara
seksi sa salamin
magbo-blower ng buhok
ganda, pang-commercial
magfe-face powder
magli-lipstick
tapos magpapabango
wow, artista!

then maninigarilyo.

useless.

babaho
ang buhok, damit
bunganga, katawan
iitim
ang ngipin
magkaka-wrinkles
ang mukha

paninigarilyo.

useless.

Friday, February 6, 2009

WB and Corruption

World Bank's investigation on corruption in Philippine road projects misses the classical corruptor-corrupted connection. Walang magnanakaw kung walang nagpapa-nakaw. Walang mandaraya kung walang nagpapa-daya. So walang mangko-corrupt kung wala ding nagpapa-corrupt. The universe of study should include DPWH itself; the agency should be at the center. Road contracts are rigged not only by way of collusion from below, but also of collusion from above. It is from above where corruption is sanctioned (and I refer to the antonymous meaning). It is from above where corruption is a 'standard' practice in procurement. It is from above where corruption is showered the royal blessing. For me to take the WB seriously on this, it should train its attention and glorious wrath to the very agency where corruption occurred at its very nose. That nose is not unsullied. It has smelled its way to the bank.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mommy's

it's said that children inherit their parent's lost dreams. that somehow, moms and dads who let their dreams pass them by would somehow find fulfillment once a daughter, a son realize those dreams for them. not so with my mom.

my mom surprised me just a year ago by cussing pinoy-style 'P.....I..! sinakripisyo ko mga pangarap ko sainyo!'. just like that. while eating her breakfast and while i was combing my hair prior to leaving the house for work in ortigas. yaman was then fast asleep upstairs. that outburst crushed my heart. and as i am not the type of person to react instantly, i just brushed off my hair with my hand and curtly said goodbye. no kiss, no pat on the hand. just a word, of goodbye. i felt so isolated from my mom as never before. lately, when i was becoming more successful at work, and becoming more successful even in exerting my presence still to yaman as her mother (and dad) despite the long work hours, i felt resented by my mom. as if, she never really liked my success. as if she doesn't want to own it. as if i am not fulfilling something --- for her. i thought i was.

my initial reaction was to question, to hate her even. how could she? i was her daughter. it was not my fault that she married my father who silenced up all her dreams, did not allow her to even sell avon at fsdc. was too filled with pride that he can support the family, without her help, and ended up, months before his death, regretting it. that regret left a mark on me. that never would i love a man who will ask for my dreams in return even for fidelity. no. no man will take away my dreams from me. and so i spent months in between brooding over that sentence, letting the blood boil amid my mom's indifference, her apparent disgust.

until we talked about kfc and colonel sanders. yeah, i'm so mababaw. i draw life's lessons from the mundane, the commonplace. no flash of lightning. just the taste of genetically-modified chicken marinated with the colonel's 16 herbs and spices. well, it's really not the chicken but the colonel. you see, the colonel started kfc when he was 66. at 66. i told my mom that age is not a block to one's dreams. until she said, 'well, we have different realities.' that stumped me. we cannot fight our realities and our realities determine how far we can get to our dreams. like one of my good old friends used to say, 'kahit gaano pa katayog ang pangarap mo, kung ang realidad mo ay magtabas ng damo sa umaga at magtinda sa bayan, magkatapos maglakad ng dalawang kilometro, kasama ng nanay mo para lang magbenta ng asin gamit ang may dayang timbag, ang pangarap ay mananatiling pangarap'. the words of one rural town boy from palawan who got his break by taking the entrance exam to UP in 1986, and placed second in math, over all applicants from luzon, visayas, and mindanao. it takes a lot of courage to shove our bitter realities aside.

i realized that as much as i own my dreams, then so did my mother. her dreams of becoming were hers alone so it could be fulfilled by no one else, but her. the outburst was her way of laying claim to it, still. i know i could not get it right even if i imagine. i have not been in her shoes. how it must have been for her; being also a UP graduate and not having had chance to work, even for six months, earn her own keep, establish her own name. her identity after marriage was always attached to my father, to us as we began raking awards in school and at work. and while i genuinely believe now that she too is happy with our success; that i, jungee, and yumi are besting ourselves everyday; still the shadows of past dreams occupy her. what might have been. what she could have done. and perhaps she is ashamed to have not fought hard for it.

so against colonel sanders, i have my mom. who sacrificed her dreams and just let it be. how many of us have lost that chance? saw our dreams bear wings and fly without us on its back? what way is there to ease the pain? perhaps none. perhaps we should also live with our failures, risk the hate of our children when we whine and complain of our lost futures. and perhaps pray, that our children could see with our eyes those dreams that cannot be fulfilled by them. and pray that love will overcome fate.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tao Lang

malalim nga talaga akong magalit. despite the many pronouncements here on forgiveness, i still find it very hard to forgive. my pride still takes over especially if it concerns people that i really cared for, like mentors and bosses who for the past 10 years, i gave up sleep, sweat, time, blood, tears,and voice for. there is no discounting how loyal i am to my bosses. ipinagtatanggol ko sila, ipinaglalaban sa harap ng sirang mga reputasyon. nakikipag-away nga ako, sa blog, sa email, to anyone, pilipino o puti man once it's my company's welfare at stake. testigo kayo dun! so just imagine my dismay of being treated like trash. just as i've said to ning, 'ganito pala ang buhay, sa kabila ng pakikisama mo ng maayos, babatuhin ka pa rin ng tae.' i got what i did not deserve. so if that boss comes calling, para hingin ang tulong ko, without even caring to say sorry; then i push the 'pride' button. i am not secure financially, pero hindi po ako mukhang-sideline. hindi ako nakikipag-bati para lang kumita. hindi ko barometer ang pera, tulad nyo.

forgiveness nga is a process. am still at the stage where i'm into that awareness that i should have the humility to forgive and to ask for forgiveness too. may awareness na so kung baga, may light na sa tunnel, mahina pa nga lang. the will is still weak. my initial response is still to strike, to strike back, to hurt, and to damn. that's why i did not take the call. silence na lang. because more words will cut even more. words are not mere words. words are the most lethal thing that could come out of humans. because even what you cannot see can hurt you. what you cannot see can harden your emotions and snuff out sympathy. what you cannot see could take control and weaken the resolve to listen, to understand, to forgive.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ang Pilipinang di Ako

ako ba si angel?
pinagpalit ang katauhan sa
saglit na
kasakitan?
ako ba si rufa mae?
nag-iisa pero tunay nga
bang masaya?
ako ba si marianne?
hinugot lang
sa tadyang ni adan?
o kaya'y si greta, claudine,
ruffa, dawn, kris at lucy?
magaganda pero marurupok
creatures of our own making
nandiyan lang sa edsa
sa dahilang
nandito tayo

maaari bang alisin na sila
sa edsa?
sapagkat di nila sinsin
o nasasalamin
ang kinalalagyan ko
wala sa kinang nila
ordinaryo, kabilang sa commute
can't afford si belo
tastas na strap
ng lumang relo
nagsusumikip ang damit
sa taba na di mawala
walang pambili ng bagong
bag o sapatos
ang iniisip bawat minuto
at bukas
kapakanan na hindi akin
ngunit
pinag-hihirapan
ko pa rin
at araw-araw
na lang sa edsa
mistulang
sa akin isinasampal
ang di ko makamit
na ganda, puti
rangya at kaseksihan

maari bang iba naman
ang bida?
mga pilipina ng
aking panahon
pinatatag ng hirap
matiyagang magtiis
sa kung ano'ng meron
at sanay sa wala
di lang basta inaabutan
kumakayod, pinagsisikapan
sarili ang pera
at lumalaban na
sumasangga na
sa mga suntok
at palabang sumusuntok
na rin

ginagamit ang salita
sigaw, damdamin at pusok
sa araw araw na
pagharap
sa hamon ni adan
ng trapik
ng bayarin
ng ekonomiyang
sumasadsad
ng panahong nababakas
sa uban at
kutis na
naglalantaan

so puh-lease lang!
tanggalin na yan
di ako yan
di ako sinasalamin
ng mga babaeng yan
ng edsa

(Am starting out here the Filipina Series, as inspired by my good friend, Linda. So apat na - Taxi Tales, Naga by Nose, and If. This would probably be the 'serious series' and as I've maintained here, true lang sa kalagayan at karanasan ko; this time, bilang isang Pilipina ng aking henerasyon. Salamat po for allowing me this chance.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

sleep and robert ludlum

at 13 i started reading robert ludlum. First because the titles adorning the shelves in naga - bourne identity, parsifal mosaic, aquitaine progression and the one that became my favorite, the matarese circle - were just too catching to pass. If there is one line that stands from the zillions he'd written, it would be this: sleep is an ally. Yeah, i had to go thru ludlum to get to the subject of sleep. Perhaps because all his bida - from bourne to joel, scofield and taleniekov were all on the run and took sleep as a luxury . Pathetic souls really but holding fiercely to the ethic of sleeping as much as possible, wherever possible. You see, i slept at 348am today after watching the new king of australian hardcourts, rafa nadal, break the spirit and heart of that touchy swiss, federer. Naturellement, am not in my element. Been to work at 10am and left at 415pm. Asthma is setting in with labored breathing. I couldn't laugh to the max which is my trademark. Had to sleep but the god of blogging won't let me and my commitment to natalie which i've already missed 2x in what? 50 days? That'd cost me my big toes. So now what? Morpheus just winked. Ciao friends, am off to bed now...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Last(ing) Lecture

i don't know what to write today, because the write-up is still way inside my head and has yet to be released. but if there is one good thing i could share with you dear readers, and for you to share with your network of friends and family, it is this link i have here:

http://blogs.inquirer.net/moneysmarts/2009/02/01/how-to-live-your-life/

this is the Last Lecture given by Dr. Randy Pausch in Carnegie-Mellon University and reprised in Oprah sometime in 2008. Dr. Pausch finally succumbed to pancreatic cancer last July. I got this link from Ms. Salve Duplito of Money Smarts (PDI), one of the people I haven't met but is making a big difference in my life with her column.

Pass on the gratitude and the good karma. And may your dreams come to you from the many blessings you sow each day.