Last November 15th was our silver homecoming reunion for the Class of 1983.

After months of preparation – it was time for us to gather at the ISO in Ateneo University to meet old friends and teachers we have not seen for 25 years.

It was very heartwarming to see our old teachers who were equally surprised to see who and how we have become.

It was sobering that many of the teachers we were anticipating to see were not there anymore as many of them are already resting in their graves.

It was awesome to hear different stories. To recall memories and feel so young again as we danced to the music of our generation.

It was really good being reconnected after all these years – and as mid-lifers, it was great to see familiar and older faces that have shared some of those wonderful memories through those impressionable years in highschool.

I was asked to give a brief talk on our highschool memories. I got the most applause when i said “it has been 25 years since we graduated from school, and some of us still carry the wounds and the trauma from those years.  It is time move on and to let go…”

Cheers erupted from my batchmates and even our teachers who were present.

In order for us to have a significant walk with our new friends (old and yet new), we need to let go of things that have been said, done, left un-said, left un-done in highschool and embrace each other as people who are right in the middle of this journey called life.

My wife enjoyed the event as well. We had an awesome time.

It was very poignant to hear the Glee Club singing AKO AY PILIPINO which won for them the prestigious honors at the national level.  It was equally sobering to hear them sing a wonderful and emotionally touching Christmas song in Pilipino.

There were 747 who graduated in 1983.

There were about 103 who made it at that event.

There were 2 who died as we were preparing for the event.

There were several who left for their overseas work as we were preparing for the reunion.

Many from Class 1983 are working and have settled overseas.

We sang our Alma Mater song:

“Quirino High School we hail thee

We lead you on to fame and destiny

Quirino High school we serve

We’re all for thy name and victory…

Dear alma mater beloved

our thoughts, our words , our deeds for thee we give

although we’re far or near from thy gates

united loyal and brave we are…..

We were all seriously sobered as we sang it.  25 years ago, we would make fun of that hymn. We would insert words that were inappropriate. But not at that night. We cherished the words. We sang it with pride. We sang it realizing that this was just a once-in a lifetime event.

We ended the program by singing a christian song that spoke of our desire to be connected with God and with each other.

It was inspiring.

It was beautiful.

Definitely a personal highlight for me this year.

To the class of 1983 ” May the good Lord bless you and keep you until we all meet again…”

We have done well….

Congratulations Class of 1983!

Since I changed my ISP from SmartBro to Globe Broadband here in Sta Rosa Laguna, I was very much motivated to try setting up a wireless router.

The afternoon after they installed my wired Globe Broadband connection, wifey and I headed to SM Sta Rosa. I was determined to get a router, and I had specific brand in mind.

NETGEAR.

Several years back, when we were still using the primitive dial-up using a prepaid card, I was already dreaming of two things:

1. Solid and reliable internet connection

2. That would enable me to set up a wireless network at home.
Well, guess what. I am writing this in the living room while watching CNN. My NETGEAR WRG614 v9 is already working at its best upstairs.

But it was still a lesson on character development.

I could not install my NETGEAR router.

Someone came to help me and he worked at it for more than 4 hours but when he left, it made the installation more difficult because I would always get a “No internet connection detected…”

Two days of trying… and I was simply ready to just thow the unit outside the window.  I was beginning to feel bad because I felt like I simply wasted some hard earned money.

Even my friend from NEW YORK would chat with me to help install it… (we would chat in the evening as he would be on his way to the office, riding a train. Our chats would be more than 30 mins and he would still be connected… he would just get dc once he the train go through a long tunnel going to New York…)

Friends would from time to time give me some technical details… which would end up frustrating me more because some of the specifications they would tell me, were somewhat contradictory.

Until my brother in law came into the rescue.

It was 10PM and I was already in bed nursing a wounded pride when he sent me sms “are you still up to it?”

Well… through a long and extensive YM chat (ethernet connected)… he walked me through it.  He even got the control of my laptop while he was an hour away from my house!  It was a trial-and error process until at 3am I saw the wireless icon lighted up!

I have never been so excited seeing a wireless icon light up!

There it was…. I was surfing wirelessly. I was even chatting with him wirelessly!

Those beautiful lights from the modem and the routers were dancing so gracefully before my eyes!

Finally, my dream of having wireless internet connection at home came true!

Yesterday, I helped configure my sis-in law’s laptop to our wireless network using her Belkin 802.11 Wireless card.  She now surfs the internet downstairs and her daughter can use the laptop anywhere in the house.

This morning when i woke up at 4am, I turned on my pocket pc and checked my email.  My connection was so good that I was even downloading pocket pc softwares in minutes!  I was browsing through sites with the speed on my pocket pc that I had never experienced before. ( I’ve used my pocket pc in coffee shops but it was agonizingly slow…)

Life is good when those small lights from the modem and my Netgear router are gracefully blinking upstairs.

What in the world?!

November 21, 2008

What in the world?!
It was an early flight for Dumaguete. My wife and I missed the turn to the parking lot of the new NAIA 3 terminal building for all Cebu Pacific flights.  I dropped her off at the entrance of the building along with our luggages and made another round for the parking area so i can leave the car. Someone from the office will come later that morning to pick it up.
The NAIA 3 looked nice.  We finally caught up in some ways when compared with other airport within the region.  The staff were friendly even though they were charging me for an excess weight I had incurred.
At the final gate, as usual, we removed our shoes and headed for the xray.  Once through, we struggled to find a seat so we can put on our shoes.

There are still a lot of areas that are being worked on.  We settled at the decent looking coffee shop in front of DeliFrance. My wife drinks decaf so we made sure they serve that before settling down. As we were sipping our very bland brewed coffee….(nice place, nice look but coffee was terrible) we could not help but notice a group of 4 young ladies ( college age) as they were laughing loud. It was too much for a public setting and at a very early time at that.

My eyes grew wide when I realized what they were drinking.  They were all  holding San Miguel Beer cans in their hands!  No wonder, and instinctively I looked at my watch 5:50 AM!!!

What in the world????!!!!

Is this how it is done these days as you wait for your very early flight?  You drink beer???
They were all sounding off with their american accents – so it was difficult to assess if they were visiting here ( Filipinos who grew up in the US) or they were a bunch of locals working for a call center.
I could hardly believe it. What is going on?

Well… after the trip in Dumaguete, there was another incident at the same airport.  There were about 3 flights that arrived that evening.  It was very smooth even when 3 plane-load of passengers were waiting for their luggage.

But once you are about to exit the building, you will need to make a decision whether to go left or right. It was another long queue as we waited for 2 female security guards to look at our bags and the airline tags and the corresponding numbers….

Arrrrgggghhh… the place looks awesome.  It could showcase the organization of the place and how we are moving on… but no, it was just a facade, it was as if we were still operating a small regional airport somewhere in the Visayas. . . we waited for more than 15 minutes just to be able to get out of the building.
Michael Defensor ( my classmate in an undergrad class in UP Diliman) had the chance to really make the NAIA 3 Terminal work. But he dropped the assignment for a more lucrative post and bigger investment deals.
The terminal building looks great – but the efficiency level needs to match the physical improvement of the whole place.

It was just an ordinary morning.  We were running low on dog food and the nearest place to get reasonably priced dog food is about a short 7-minute drive to Paseo.

When I got there, I thought about buying several pieces of mongo bread from our favorite breadshop called The Little Corner Breadshop.  It is one of those few breadshops where the quality of the bread has been maintained despite the price increases of flour and ingredients in recent weeks.

My wife and I have our current favorite – their mongo bread.

There was hardly anyone there so it was really good for me. Usually when I buy bread there at any hour of the day, there is a considerable queue before I could face their bread vendors.

This time there was just a non-Filipino customer waiting. He was an older Korean.  Koreans have widely made their presence known in every part of the Philippines. They are everywhere now, literally. And everyday we see them here where we live.

The bread sales lady, a young woman in her twenties pointed to a kind of bread and said “Cheese roll?” her face directed at the old man.

For some reason, I didn’t know their previous interaction – but this old korean man who was wearing dark glasses and cap screamed “CHEESE BLED!” CHEESE BLEEED!”

I was really shocked. This was my first time to see such inerrant behavior from a guest. And for him to be shouting at a hapless bread vendor was very. very internally provoking.

I felt my jaw tightened and my breathing got harder.  One of the things that can really get my temperature to rise would be any act of injustice.  That was, injustice.

While the old korean man was waiting for his “CHEESE BLED”, I said intentionally to the same lady vendor. I was sure that I stated it in a sing-song pattern that would connote warmth and friendliness…

“Ms… may I have several pieces of your delicious mongo bread.  5 pieces PLEASE?” I said, emphasizing the last word.

The old korean man got his CHEESE BLED and rode off on his small motorbike.

I could hardly believe it.  Filipinos in their own country being maltreated by foreigners who seem to think that they can do just that.

Made me really, really sad because it feel like we have really sold our souls and along with it, our country as well.  They are the ones who are owning businesses here now – and it is so easy for them to do just that. I have wondered if our government has placed any visa restrictions or are we just welcoming anyone (they may even be undesirables, we don’t know…) here in the country.

If you have been to Boracay, just walk along its world’s finest white powdery sand… and you will be hard-pressed to find any locally owned establishments along the beach. They are all owned by foreigners who found the easy way to own properties here.

It would be a miracle to have that old man read this blog – but if you are a foreigner living, studying or doing business here in the Philippines… please be considerate.  The meek nature of the Filipinos are not meant to be abused.  And let us not forget that ultimately, we are all citizens of the world – and thus, all nationality needs to be respected despite their age, education and status in life.  And if you are a guest, it is a common thing to be courteous toward the people of your host country.  Be mindful of the tone of your voice, your sense of space and other behaviors that would show disrespect.

I hope you enjoy your stay. I hope you create wonderful memories during your stay here in the Philippines. But during your stay here, be mindful of your manners.

I got my mongo bread… and I as I was counting my change… the lady vendor said “thank you sir…”

She wasn’t just thanking me for buying. It was deeper than that. She knew how I got flustered when I heard and saw her being screamed at.

The Philippines may not be a powerhouse in terms of might and financial status.  But it is a rich and beautiful country. This is the only one we have so please take care of my country and its inhabitants during your stay.

November 11, 2008

. Funeral of Dad Fen tomorrow  – November 8

2. Flying high in Dumaguete with Wifey /  The Flight that was almost not allowed by the Air Control Tower

3. Old Korean Man who Shouted at the Filipina bread vendor in Sta Rosa

4. NAIA Terminal 3.  What were they thinking…

I am in the process of changing my internet provider and I was told that installation would take 7 – 10 days! And I am on day 2 now… I hope it  will be installed a lot sooner! ( so that we could progress from a Developing country to a First world country – in terms of service!)

Thanks to my old and reliable Sony Ericsson K608i (Sony’s first 3G phone..) and I am still able to get connected even if it is just 115.2 kbps.

My wireless broadband provider since 2006 promised a bandwidth of UP TO 384kbps… but it would only measure UP to 161kbps… tsk tsk tsk  and to think, I just used that patiently for 2 years! Well not anymore… we will be seeing some progress soon.  My new Internet wired provider said it will be up to 1MBps and less than P4 from what I had paid to that wireless provider before.  Let us experience great value for our hard earned moolah.

Goodbye SmartBro.

Welcome Globe Broadband.

death of Dad Fen

November 3, 2008

I received a very early sms today.

Dad Fen passed away last night.

I wont be back until Wednesday night. His funeral is scheduled for saturday.