Just an update

I figured that I’d talk about something insightful. But considering the hiatus this blog’s been on, I’d rather not for now.

Aside from figuring that I’d clean things up and blog more.

But before going on to that I’m going to blurb a bit on where I’ve been and where I intend to head.

When this blog was first put together, I was in a developmental organization. I continued down that path for a couple of years before entering a similar organization that had a more specific advocacy (which happened to be fighting corruption). After a few personal events, I wound up in the private sector, particularly in the petroleum industry where I capitalized on what communication skills I had to find myself a job as a corporate trainer.

After a few years of that, a marriage and a baby later; I am now in a foreign land with my wife and child. I make a little off freelancing on the side, but most of my time is spent watching over my two-year-old (which is probably the most fulfilling job I could ever ask for, but it is not without its challenges).

Though I do miss the hustle and bustle of the standard corporate life, I am beginning to lean towards a freelancer’s way of earning a living. And with that, I need a place to pour out the thoughts in my head.

This is essentially why I’m bringing this blog back from the dead. This ought to make for some good practice.

 

Working for a Cause

Today’s fast-paced world has created a need for people to seek out employment with the highest returns possible. Applications by graduates from all over have a tendency to gravitate towards established corporate structures with the capacity to provide ample compensation and benefits. It’s probably due to the fact that people want to meet certain needs which financial security that  provides for this.

And while my personal needs now require me to move on towards a corporation, I will forever treasure my time with development organizations and hold a tinge of envy for others who have successfully built careers in the field of development. Because hey, it isn’t easy. Most non-profits will usually hire people to work for them on a per-project basis. This kind of gets in the way of the goal of building a sustainable career. Alas, this is not all. Even if you’re a regular employee (yay for you!) a lot of smaller non-profits have a tendency of squeezing employees dry. This means acquiring as many projects as possible without necessarily increasing the number of employees to share in the increased load or increasing compensation.

Despite that grind that people in NGOs usually go through, what keeps them there, the many skilled professionals in low-paying jobs is passion. Passion for service, for progress, for development are what drives these people. Though there are better paying careers to be had elsewhere, they choose to work where they earn less than what the market would pay for their skills. The notion of lending a hand to people who are in need or advocacy are their motivation.

Despite of the hullabaloo surrounding NGOs in my country nowadays (a large number have been used as shell organizations to stash government funds) I still hold high respect for these people, and I hope someday that circumstance allows me to be one of them again.

Yes, No, Maybe? Filipinos and indirectness

Perhaps it’s a cultural trait, that Filipinos have acquired over centuries of Spanish rule or perhaps it’s something that evolved from pre-Hispanic customs and taboos. But it’s pretty obvious that Filipinos tend not to be forthright.

We have a tendency to beat around the bush. To placate where it is not really needed. When faced with criticism we tend to be onion-skinned and immediately take offense, even when no harm was meant. This is in contrast to other peoples, mainly those belonging to western cultures that have a say what you mean mean what you say attitude.

It’s like the inability to tell someone that they have a piece of meat in their teeth, that shows a lot. The usual means to communicate this is indirect, something like “do you want to go to the bathroom?”. (lazy writing I’m sorry)

I find this problematic. Because personally, I am not fond of indirect communication. Things that are meant but not verbalized directly are confusing and at times this leads to frustration and miscommunication. Maybe it’s a cultural perk, something we share with other Asians. I’m just really not a fan.

Why Davao City will always be home

image from clickdavao.com
image from clickdavao.com

Yes Davao City. Situated in Mindanao, my hometown has for the longest  time been the holder of a bad rap.(Yes even until now) Trying to convince someone from Manila to take a vacation in Davao hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world. Firstly because (in the eyes of a foreigner or people from the capital) any city situated in Mindanao, is automatically get-shot-in-the-head capital/ best-place-to-experience-a-terrorist-attack. Then there’s the prominence of extra-judicial killings. And of course our controversial, hard-boiled but beloved RR Duterte. Regardless of all these misplaced perceptions however, Davao will forever be my home. Aside from me having lived here practically all my life, there are a lot of reasons why Davao is forever considered home by a lot of people.

Reason 1: All the trappings of a Tropical Paradise
Want to go to the beach for some sun sand and waves? Just less than an hour away to decent resorts. Up for some mountainside adventure? Less than an hour away nature parks, featuring exquisite fauna and flora dot Davao’s Southern reaches. Fruits are cheap and easily available here. And fresh air everywhere, (okay well at least it’s a farcry from Metro Manila’s smog)

Reason 2: Crime Rate low
Not-so-busy street, near midnight want to take a call? Take a late evening walk? Go ahead. You aren’t getting mugged. This is one of the city’s biggest draws. Expats and investment inflow is relatively high because Davao takes its security seriously. Close Circuit TV Monitoring cameras in major streets throughout the city. This plus the Mayor’s claim that he has an informant on practically every corner. Sound like an overstatement? Maybe, but I wouldn’t want to test the mayor’s statement, not in this city anyway.

Reason 3: Investments pouring inMalls and condos are cropping up like mushrooms. And while l hope this doesn’t lead to the same level of congestion present in other metros, it’s a sign of progress. Anything you’d want to buy from the big cities is pretty much already available here. ICT infrastructure is generally improving as well with more and more BPOs coming in, so internet speeds are increasing for the most part. *cough*fair usage policies*cough*.

Reason 4: FoodWhile already subtly mentioned in previous paragraphs, food is good here in Davao. Prices are low for meat, fish, fruits and veggies. Plus if you know your wet markets, spotting fresh meat and produce is a breeze. From the lowly carinderia to the grand four-star hotel class buffet, if you’re intending to go on a food-trip, Davao City is definitely for you.

And while there are a lot of other reasons to love Davao, (honest cabbies, quality education and generally low prices among other things) what really draws people in to Davao is its unique provincial charms combined with economic as well as commercial progress, is to me what makes Davao home for so many people even for those that have long left the city.

 

Writer’s Block

 

Can't write?

If you’re into writing, chances are you’ve at one point or another reached the end of your thinking process. After minutes or hours of weaving thoughts into words, your literary journey at times comes to an abrupt stop after running into a wall. It’s tough having to deal with this because it disables you. In case writing is your profession and not just a hobby to pass the time, the writer’s block becomes an impediment to efficiency.

Here are a couple of suggestions of mine, when faced with this hideous beast, you simply get up off your chair and do a variety of things like:

1.) Eat.
Yes, eat. Grab a bite. A bit of added nourishment, particularly a small carbohydrate dose can boost brain performance and get your mind set back in writing gear. A word of caution however, over gorging can lead to drowsiness, and large sugar intake will lead to a sugar crash. That’s pretty much worse than writer’s block

2.)Take a walk
After hours on end of sitting in front of a computer monitor, trying desperately to get your brain’s cogs to get back in motion it’s sometimes a good idea to step outside and take a short walk. If you’re situated near a park or a bay area, you should probably get off your ass and take a walk. While you might scoff at the idea immediately tagging it as a time waster, you’d be wrong. A bit of fresh air and a change of scenery can work wonders for your mind. Who knows you might find a bit of inspiration while taking that break.

3.) Nap
There is probably no better way to get out of a rut than a power nap! Yes, sleep may seem counter-intuitive to some, (I don’t know why really) it’s a great way to recharge.Rested minds are known to be able to work faster and more effectively than those that are fatigued. If working on a tight schedule, a 7-15 minute nap will work wonders. But if really worn-out it’s better to take a couple of hours off with the sandman.

4. Drink a Beer
Yes, you read that right. And while most workplaces frown upon this, downing one bottle of beer can enhance creativity, which is great for those times when you feel like you’re out of juice. Studies published in Consciousness and Cognition have indicated that buzzed individual is able to answer word puzzles faster than someone sober. I’m sure you’ve got a pal who becomes a Socrates the moment he or she downs enough alcohol (or maybe you’re the inebriated Socrates, no worries, no judgment here). So the next time you’re caught in a slump, try to down a bottle, or two and unleash that pent up creativity. Just be sure to proofread your work when you’re sober.

5.) Smoke a CigIt’s a cliche but smoking has been a go-to solution for people seeking to clear their heads, whether for the purpose of writing or just trying to let of some steam (or in this case smoke). While it’s really not something I’d recommend (primarily because smoking in any public place in my hometown nets you a hefty fine) also because of the glaring health detriments, if you do smoke, you might want to use it as a tool to relieve yourself of writer’s block.

These are just some of the things I’d recommend to cure writer’s block, really it depends on you how you want to do it.

Integrity

What can God do in my life?

Lecture with Art Collins
11/02/2014

Our service to others must flow out of a life of 
integrity.
1.) Integrity of speech
    Matthew 5: 33-37
    —> Don’t say anything you don’t mean because you 
       only will make thinks worse
    —> When you manipulate words to get your own way, 
       you go wrong
    —> How many times did you say you will pray for 
       someone & you never did. How many times did you 
       say you’ll stay in contact with someone but they 
       don’t know anything about you.
    —> You’ll get busy & you’ll forget what you said 
       even if you wanted to remember 
    —> Better be honest & say that you probably will 
       forget than be dishonest & satisfy you conscious
    —> Not even are you dishonest, others also loose 
       their respect
 —> Write it down & set a reminder, we are in the 21st century, you have a phone &…

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Smoke and Mirrors

Despite the gains that have been made during the Aquino administration, the Philippines is still known as a hub for corruption and a manufacturing plant for red tape.  Not exactly the reputation you’d want for your country, but it’s out there, question is, how do you stamp out the problem.

Over the past weeks, issues have been popping up like mushrooms with the lawmakers being implicated in the pork barrel scam shoveling mud wherever they can trying to get out of the spot light by implicating as many  others as humanly possible. The “We’re not the only ones that’re dirty!!” mindset is quite distasteful. They’ve even resorted to pointing out that Mr. Piggy is dirty too.

photo from Getty Images
e There there, that’s okay Mr. Piggy (Photo from Getty Images)

The effort to sidetrack people’s attention is clear.  The question is, why are they buying into it so easily. With so many issues cropping up the public is being led away from the real issue, which is that legislators have been stealing billions (yes with a b) worth in people’s money from public coffers. Put them on trial, make sure it doesn’t happen again. Then you can go after who and whatever you want to go after. It’s a sad fact that the general public tends to be forgetful/easily distracted when it comes to these issues.

Hmmm those two look familiar... That's right! They're elected officials!
Hmmm those two look familiar… That’s right! They’re recently elected officials!

We seriously need to get past the smoke and mirrors if we’re going to get anywhere..

Blacklist Review

For those into the stealth-gaming  genre, the release of Blacklist was definitely exciting news.Splinter_Cell_Blacklist_05

After the events of Splinter Cell Conviction, Sam Fisher, now head of Fourth Echelon, head of a special intelligence unit, directly under the command of the US President is tasked with stopping the Blacklist, a string of attacks on key American projects. The plot is standard Tom Clancy fair taking our protagonist to different locations all over the world hunting down terrorist targets.

While the plot is, pretty average at best, a number of gameplay overhauls from the previous game are definitely intended to please stealth purists who were unsatisfied with Conviction’s gameplay. It is now much more difficult to run and gun your way through maps, with smarter and deadlier AI (though it is still a possible way to play the game). Stealth has taken a more important role. Maps are large providing numerous options for Sam to bypass, or sneak up on unsuspecting enemies.

Blacklist now implements a scoring system wherein actions earn you points in ghost, panther or assault. Ghost points are earned when you are able to slip past enemies without detection and taking a non-lethal course of action when faced with opposition. Panther points on the other hand are awarded for lethal attacks on targets done from stealth. And assault points are earned through making as much noise as possible

The game also features the return of many gadgets  such as the sticky cam, shocker and sleeping gas which allows you to knock out targets. Combat assisting gadgets such as tear gas and smoke grenades. Then loud and lethal munitions such as frag grenades and proximity mines. These give the game a lot of depth increasing the number of options Sam can take throughout the course of the game.

What gives Blacklist staying power, however isn’t the main campaign but the gamut of side missions, cooperative and multiplayer opportunities players will be able to experience. Missions from Grimm require you to hack multiple targets, sounds easy? Well these sorties require that you not be spotted, and you aren’t allowed to kill any enemies. Kobin’s missions on the other hand are predator missions, requiring you to neutralize a set number of targets, the kicker is that if you are spotted, they call in a strike team making the mission nearly impossible to accomplish on higher difficulty levels. Most difficult are Charlie’s missions which are basically survival missions requiring you to survive waves of enemies requiring survival of at least 5 waves reaching until 20. Getting past 5 is a challenge. Getting to 20 is definitely something worth bragging about. All of these missions can be done cooperatively however allowing twice the fun.  And there are also cooperative missions requiring two people to accomplish.

Also lauded is the return of spies vs. mercs mode, pitting stealthy lightly armed spies against heavily armed mercs. Switching between the two modes is loads of fun with spies relying on stealth and shadows, while mercs make use of heavier armor and weapons for survival.

Among other things, the game is definitely worth the purchase. If not for the pleasure of playing as Sam Fisher again but for the side content and multi-player options.

Orchestrated

Just recently, in a country as ravaged by tropical storms as it is by corruption scandals, Janet Lim-Napoles, one of the Philippines’ most wanted individuals and the subject of a 10Million Peso bounty willingly surrendered. What irked most however was the fact that she would only give herself up to no less than the president of the country. While many claim that our infamous pork nabber has ties with the palace.

The apparent deal between the president’s office and our fugitive has sparked concerns about how the forthcoming court trials are going to turn out. Before being taken to Camp Krame she supposedly spoke with President Aquino for ten minutes. A lot of the anger over the internet is directed towards the possibility that she be used as a state witness where she could potentially wind up with a pardon or a much shorter sentence.

She's probably hoping to find the real version
She’s probably hoping to find the real version

Legal experts have mentioned however, that Ms. Napoles’ serving as a state witness would be in conflict with the law as “the most guilty” cannot be taken in as witnesses of the state.

Regardless this is only the beginning of a long judicial process to identify and try those involved in the PDAF scam. It’s important that the aggrieved Filipino public remain vigilant to make sure that the guilty are brought to justice.

On other news, given their fondness for new vehicles the Napoleses are said to be considering buying a new set of wheels…

Familiar, anyone?
Familiar, anyone?

Broom brooooom

Reintroducing discipline

I’ve perpetually forgone writing as a means to alleviate stress. I used to have exercise and sports to keep me occupied but a demanding workload has robbed me of these simple joys, so now I turn to writing! And while my schedule and the distant dream of getting back into good physical condition still frustrate me, I shall commit to writing once again at least once a week, alongside a daily exercise regimen in the morning.

I may be working for a cause-oriented organization but self-cultivation should also be part of the priorities list. I will do this!