Saturday, July 24, 2004

hesitant writer

didn't feel like writing down my thoughts today partly because it's 3 a.m. now and i'm the only one awake. but i had to write. didn't want to miss out on writing today's events plus the rain is so conducive for a budding writer's creativity.

after the rude awakening on thursday, i had written quite a lot in my blog. i tried to sleep early but i had to let out all the venom last night. i slaved away in front of the pc to relax until 2:30 a.m. there's something very comforting about a keyboard being hit. it has a calming effect.

so, i met friday with a bit of hesitation and fear from the tyrant official. he was already texting me while i was on my way to work. the bus i was riding was an old bus. i sat down next to a vietnamese lady who didn't want to sit beside the window. little did i know that she had a baby in a stroller. it would usually be parked on the middle of the bus where the disabled would have fold out chairs. so, i sat on the seat looking out the window thinking about the previous day's drama...UNTIL...the bus made a fast sharp turn which sent the stroller tumbling down with the baby still strapped in her seat. i didn't notice the sharp curve till i heard the mother scream, "porquoi" (why?) the baby had already made contact with the floor. the passengers at the back were alerted but only one lady helped pick up the stroller. i followed suit while the mother frantically tried to unhook the straps of the stroller which had kept her baby alive. the child did not even cry as her head swelled and a bruise on her left forehead was beginning to show. a thin but long scratch across her forehead was evident. the mother was muttering and held her baby close.

the driver stopped at the next stop and came up to the mother. he didn't even say sorry. he said something in french like he would call the authorities and help will come. i didn't really understand the exchange of words. the driver went back to his seat and called the authorities. the mother was going to talk to the driver but a lady prevented her and said, "just sit down." i think she was just worried about being late. that same lady instructed everyone to get off the bus since there would be a delay.

so, i walked a mere 7 minutes to the office. as this happened, i was more determined not to have an encore to thursday's drama. i thought life is too short. if the official would subject me to that kind of treatment again, i will respectfully tell him not to do it again as it is very impolite and unbecoming of him to act in that manner.

i spent the morning fixing his schedule. he kept texting and i kept texting him his schedule. he must have a faulty memory or a faulty phone since he asked for his schedule twice. on the third time, he asked his driver to call me to ask for the schedule again. there must be something wrong.

it was good he wasn't in the office. i had a sense of freedom. but the accident in the morning was playing on my psyche. it was really traumatic and i don't like seeing people cry, much less because a baby was hurt. it was very sad. it's good though that the baby was saved. hopefully, there is no permanent damage to the skull.

like most girls do, i found a friend in the toilet and cried silently in the bathroom.

the workday ended so quickly and much was done but fear of tomorrow comes. what on monday or tuesday will the office hold? will the official again try to trample on my dignity? shall i stand up to him? time will tell.

for now, i end with a semi-heavy heart.

a lonely heart pines for its sweet love.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

a world of insensitivity

some people in this world travel or pass through life with very little care for the other person. they look out for "number one." they are the ones that bump into you and don't say "sorry." for them, you were walking in their space. but there are more personal encounters with the "indifferent" and the "insensitive." some we meet in the office and some we meet in our school.

let me recount today's insensitive world. the highest official in my office met with me today to lay down some standard operating procedures (SOPs). i had already begun my filing system on the orders of my boss. this official was not my boss but he treats me like his subject. he called me into his office and made me sit down. i carefully took out my notebook and pen to take down notes. but more of that later. as soon as i sat down, he looked for his schedule. i had printed it out the day before. he screamed like an angry little child pining after his lollilop, "why is it not on my desk?!" as i handed him the schedule, he carefully looked at it and asked, "where is this and that?! why isn't this included?!" i also carefully explained that i didn't know which meetings he was attending because the schedules were not forwarded to me and i was not privy to any communication indicating he would attend such a meeting.

so, began the one-hour ordeal of incoming communications, the fax log, the weekly schedules and the layout of my desk. he looked at incoming communications and ripped out pages which he thought didn't belong, often looking at my pile of notes and removing "unnecessary" paper, crumpling it and dumping it into an imaginary garbage can behind his chair. (i had to pick this up, of course.) i was nervous with panic and i didn't know how to react to such a childish attitude. this was the first time i had seen this type of person, inconsiderate of feelings of others and holding himself higher by his condescension. i had met egoists before but not to this extent and they were egoists with a modicum of sensitivity left in them. so, as he threw papers and grabbed at my pile, he also told me to stop taking notes because in his words, "you don't even need to take down notes! you just have to remember." as mindful as i am, i am not omniscient or claim to be, i can't possible remember and know everything when i am told. so i asked him, "will you give me the note that you're making then?" he says, "it's for me." of course, he has the right to take down notes and i should just "remember."

that meeting was filled with more question and answer portions that was incoherent and often redundant on his part. he would tug at the file again and ask, "what is this? it shouldn't even be here." he told me to put it away. then a few minutes later  he would ask, "bring the file to me." it was just five feet away.

during this time, i also had to fulfill my duties to the office as the secretary. i had to answer phone calls often running out of his room and taking down notes and transferring calls.

i would then come back to the hell-hole which i was only to emerge shocked and in utter disbelief that another human being could act in such a manner. where is the "love thy neighbor" that is taught to him when he goes to church? (i first conversed with him en route to bern to see the pope.) it falls on deaf ears with him.

after dictating his SOPs to my ears, which i can't claim to be as trustworthy as a pen and paper, it ended with him ravaging my bookshelf and telling me to fix it. it wasn't really my bookshelf and files had been put into it before i came to that office. i had gone to the bathroom to relieve myself not just from the liquid that was filling my bladder but from the venom that was slowly poisoning my veins. he was about to leave and called out to me, "please remove the directories from your desk." these were directories placed on my desk for easy access for all staff members.

i was in a limbo because i was being ordered by someone who was not my boss but is the highest official in the office. my boss had just come after the ill-fated meeting with this official and he tried to console me by saying to "let it in one ear and let it out the other."

i couldn't meet the demands of the official especially because the office was lacking in resources. resources that was not his to dispense with. as a backgrounder, he has his own budget for his expenses while the office has its own for its use too. the official belonged to a different agency from ours but was considered the overall "head" of the mission.

i would have to tender a resignation in order to stop this ill treatment, my boss said. we would "play" it out for the official since his attitude was not becoming. i don't know how this would "play out." i am thankful though that my boss was kind enough to say, "you should go home now" as i had over-worked my hours again following yesterday's "unpaid" overtime to meet with the office and the official. i took notes then on his orders too.

so, having been spoken down to and questioned for my organizational skills, i was nothing but a subject. a subject which can be ordered and "abused."

at that point in time, i didn't know how to react. i knew it was wrong but i was also fearful of the repercussions. i didn't want to lose my job. (it's hard when you're not in a position to bargain. unfortunate too that the philippines is in the same position in the WTO.) but after careful consideration, i thought to myself that i can't be insulted in this way. i also had my pride and dignity to maintain. i will hopefully draft a resignation letter which is readily at my disposal so that when this incident happens again, i am ready.

i have also practiced in my head a dialogue which sounds like this, "with all due respect, sir, please don't treat me like a child. i am a trained professional which should be treated with respect too. i resent your tone of condescension. if you want things to be done in this manner, please tell me so in a tactful manner."

it's a shame that some people walk around in this world not knowing or even worse, not caring, for the ripple effects of a certain action. so many claims of a global village is in the offing but what is it really? one village with one soul or one village with solitary interests aggregated. in a village, one affects the other. as a rule, even in the economy, placing one resource in another area will deprive another area. so, a global village with global repercussions.

i hesitate and reluctantly don't want to meet these people which only have themselves in mind and who don't care for others. they are bereft of love, not just for others but also for themselves. for what is love if you can't give it away. would loving yourself be considered love? what is love? webster's definition relates to a "strong attachment to someone or something" which connotes an object outside of the actor who "loves."

so, with an insensitive world today, who are we left to turn to. i have good people in mind. but i hope that the "insensitives" in this world will not wreak havoc by infecting others to be indifferent that they should only prize their happiness over others. i hope that people will become more "feeling" and sensitive of others so that wars, hatred and conflict will cease to exist.

i hope that with sensitivity, it will not create an environment of excessive obsessive compulsiveness leading to paranoia, but of true caring for one another.

i had a friend who fell in a puddle but she wasn't helped or asked how she was. she simply stood up, unnoticed by the world. what kind of world is that?

but there are also those who seem to care. i was helped in carrying the grocery cart up one flight of stairs. it is those rare moments that restores my faith in humanity that perhaps we are not really an "insensitive" world but a world full of love for one another.



Tuesday, July 20, 2004

HYPOCRISY (another angsty poem)

Hypocrisy shouted the church bells as it tolled for the mass
Gossipers and murderers come to meet in Sunday’s mass

I see the old woman with a cane
She hit her maid with it when she wouldn’t bend like a crane

I see the well-groomed man getting out of his vintage car
His servants starve while he holds a feast

He throws money to the beggars seeking approval from society
But his dark heart betrays the teachings of God

Enter the hypocrites into the house of God
The priest drinks wine and says it is Jesus’ blood

He abuses children and rapes women;
Behind the cloister, is his evildoing

He is housed in a temple of goodness corroded by man’s frailty
Is he an apostle of God or a political installation?

The poor appear poor and begs for food
But can they help themselves so God will too?

There is a spinster donning her veil but
Eyeing the married man

She whispers to her old maids
Judging young girls in sleeveless wear

Young boys go to church to see,
the new women they can victimize, perhaps with chocolate-covered words

Murderers and sinners convene
Raising alleluias to the heavens

Asking forgiveness from God
For the wrong they’ve done

They are asking favors
Bargaining with God

“If you give me this
I won’t do that.”

This is Sunday’s habit when the church bells toll
Come you hypocrites, worship at MY door

Let us pray for sinners
Now and until our pockets fill with treasures

Let us forget God nailed to the cross
He has died but is not dead really

He will forgive,
So is thought.

snake bite (a sample of an angsty poem)

Her venom was potent
The poison infected his veins like a bush fire
He was burning from its bite
He lay paralyzed intoxicated by the deadly liquid
Of a snake’s bite

From the meeting of their eyes
They were immobilized by awe in part
But more of wonder
He was to meet his death at her mouth

It was a dance of death they danced
He avoided her wriggling body
But she was quick to thrust forward
Her majestic head lunged at his neck

And so he meets eternal slumber
At her deadly bite
It was a short acquaintance
For two in wonder of one

(written 22 june 2004, one day after my first day of work)

Monday, July 19, 2004

continuation on the sands of emirates

on the seven sands of the (united arab) emirates, there was the awakening of a friendship that would withstand the test of time. much time was spent drinking tea and exchanging thoughts on the politics of the day. there were lighter moments, perhaps a stroll on the beach (corniche) without sandals and followed by an all-you-can-eat buffet at the hilton.
there was a camping trip to oman where the word, "freezing weather" was redefined as the desert night sent chills up our spines. we could only giggle the night away as our companions lay sleeping that night. she sang "leaving on a jet plane" to lull me to sleep but to no avail. i had stayed awake the whole night and met the dawn as i met the sunset over a rock cliff...trying to touch the horizon of light. i climbed up the rock mountain and stood there for a photo op. it was during the ramadan of 1995 that this took place.
flashing back to the inevitable friendship. she was the school registrar at that time when i enrolled in 1995 on my third year of high school. i had asked wether the uniforms had a specified length. i had just come from the US where skirts were fashionably short, even in a catholic school. she said "no." i also asked if she could give me a new set of notebooks since the once she gave me where for kids and i couldn't possibly continue writing down notes while being distracted by a "teenage mutant ninja turtle." so, began a verbal tussle of what length i should wear my skirt and if she'd give me the notebooks i requested. i even insulted the design and fabric of the skirt which happened to be designed by her mother (faux pas). i vowed to hate her from that day on and my brother decided to exchange notebooks with me so i'd quiet down. in retaliation, i wore the shortest skirt (one inch above the knee, when all the students wore them three inches below the knee or longer) in the whole school. so, after that horrible verbal assault on each other, i was in a new school with some students that transferred from my old school. there were not many new faces but i had made friends in my class. it was bearable.
the days passed and i sweated the first bead which dropped from my forehead while sawing a piece of wood for workshop. it was october and school was just settling in and everything became a routine. a friend, bryan, invited me to join a rondalla. i had previous encounters with a bandurria (an instrument of spanish descent which was played in a group of other stringed instruments. it had 16 strings together and was strummed to play. it was common in colonial philippines.). i had learned from my brother when i was 8 or 9 years old. he too was in a rondalla. so, i tried my luck again.  
to my surprise, on the first day of my attendance, i saw her - the registrar whose life i had made miserable on account of a skirt and notebooks. i was silly then but i had principles. an ugly notebook was simply a hindrance to learning. so, began our teacher-student status. i was always respectful to a teacher so i didn't insult her in her house. i patiently learned the strings and the notes and listened by ear for the tempo and rhythm of the songs. i adjusted well and was at par with the best player, charie macapagal, in a couple of months' time. she was the best strummer and could memorize without difficulty the songs that were so dear to my heart. i had began a journey home to knowing the philippines again.
she was responsible for throwing fuel to my longing to be home. she spoke of her university with sprawling grounds. later, i would go to the same university and not less than in the same college would i also take my courses in the same field of work - media communications. she had specialized in broadcasting though. i became a journalist. evident huh?
going back, so the months passed and the occasional tea after rehearsals became more than occasional but rather a ceremony. the other students would go into jamie's (her sister and about my age) room and talk about other things. i stayed behind with my teacher trying to pick her mind. she would play jim chapell in the background and i was enthralled at his mastery of the piano.
this all happened before i was bound to go home again in 1996. but fortunately, she would go home before me. she wanted to study again in the philippines and pursue her dream for a radio post in dzfe (the master's touch), a fm christian station that played classical music spotted with God's word as intermission.
we spent the last eid (after ramadan) in an island with her family. i was so stressed out in leaving her that i had cramps the whole time while i was swimming on the beach. later did i know that she would go home to the philippines too. so, my heart could rest and i hadn't lost (again) a dear friend due to my incessant life of moving about.
her name was unique and long, devery jean katrina tronco tumilba, ate chi for short.


i'm a solitary traveler often seeing the world alone. i find recluse in my writing and i escape the world through books. it gets lonely sometimes but i have gotten used to it. i was never much a crowd pleaser nor was i the type to surround myself with people.
i was a loner by birth even if i had four brothers. i was a silent child my mother recounts to me. i would work in silence and to her surprise found my brother's bike unscrewed. i had unscrewed it with my bare hands.
as i grew up, i gazed at people often sporting a blank look. i was an observer. i liked being a watcher of people. there were so many different things you could see if you really looked. take the mother who would tend to her child in a stroller and whisper baby words and smile at her baby's life...the old man who walks each day with a cane seemingly engrossed in his own thoughts...the pensive readers who spots the gardens during lunch...the punk rocker kid who helps the old man...or how the passengers on the bus look weary after a hard day's work. what's going through their minds? what are they thinking about? these were my thoughts and observations. i always wanted to know how each affected one. and how one could affect others.
so, i lived my life surrounded by thoughts often sharing with a friend or two. i have a few trusted friends. friends i can trust my life with. i am blessed to have met them in this world of loneliness and selfishness. they suffer everytime i leave. i suffer too when i am plucked from the comfort of a wonderful friend at arm's length away or just a telephone call away. now, i just write to them through this ethernet and i await for their thoughts from miles away. but you can never really hug a computer screen, can you?
i lived constantly with this making friends and leaving them business. it was heart-breaking at first (until now) when i left my elementary best friend in the philippines. i had cried until my tear ducts had dried. i was young and it was the first encounter at a "friendship" worth keeping. i left for the states and lived a solitary life. i met some people who treated me like a friend but in the end, betrayal was waiting at the helm. it would shatter like the mirror reflecting something beautiful. too good to last. then i met sarah kay during the last year of my stay in chicago. i was 13 and she was 12. she had another best friend, katie mier who didn't like the idea of her friendship with me often stealing notes that were passed from sarah and me. i could understand. sarah wasn't your average 12 year old. she was deep often questioning life and being sweet like a child should be. our friendship developed over that last year of my stay in 1994 but soon i would leave for abu dhabi.
it was another heart-wrenching goodbye and exchanges of pendants descriptively shouting, "#1 friend" was given to her and i received a broken heart she gave me as a pendant. i never knew the whole engraving but i knew it sounded like "through distance we remain friends."
so, we did. i moved to abu dhabi, friendless again. i met a girl who i thought i could trust but she ran off with my love interest. yes, i was young with a love interest. i often thought of future partnerships. i was never the thought-less "for now only" type of person. but after this, it threw me into frenzy, questioning human nature, questioning friendship.
i lived my life to survive and i had my thoughts to keep me company. i tried to reach out to people my age at the age of 13 but it wouldn't work out. i turned 14 and i was still solitary and bore the stigma of speaking with an american accent in a school with predominant filipino students. it must have been painful for their ears to hear my accent. so, i stayed mum.
but the limelight wanted to follow me. it was the awakening that was waiting to be revealed. i would become an orator and a writer. i recently transfered schools in my second school year. i soon turned 15. i was a "star" thrown into the stage by teachers who thought i had potential. i never questioned my inner intelligence, but i always had a problem sharing it with people because they couldn't understand me. i had found a mentor who could understand. then, began a friendship with a teacher. she was 9 years older than me and she understood me. she would often compare my talking to an encounter with a mirror. it was like i could just talk and no one had to listen and i'd still talk. if one would interpret it negatively, it would be like she wasn't listening. but precisely, a mirror reflects the thoughts of the speaker, thus the listener would have the same idea as the speaker. right? and often as a mirror would help in self-realization, so did she.
so, began the first tale of friendship that braved distance and time. i will end here for my fingers ache at pounding away at the keyboard. i shall continue...for my readers, hold your breath.

Friday, July 16, 2004

day in geneva

i haven't had much chance to write here in geneva except for some angsty poems. i arrived here in april of this year.
of all the places i've been this is the loneliest by far. i find the people a bit colder and sometimes indifferent than most country but it's their culture, i guess. i have to get used to it. it's also the first country where i've encountered a language problem. francophones are prouder of their language than most native speakers. tough for me. wish they could adjust though. i mean, we don't expect them to speak tagalog/filipino when they're in the philippines.
aside from the culture-shock, language is the hurdle i have to get over. when i was in the states, english came easily for me since i was only nine years old then. when i went to abu dhabi, arabic was spoken side by side with english so i had no problem. now that i'm here, it made me mute. i couldn't speak out even if i was at the point of being "abused." it happened in a grocery store. my brother was ignored by the cashier and i wanted to ask the cashier why she did that but i couldn't phrase my sentence in french. so, i didn't speak. the incident ate at me all day long so i had to fight back. i had to learn french.
there are many impetuses to learning a language, i'm just disappointed that this was the reason i had to learn it. i generally love languages and i work well with people but since uprooting myself here to geneva, i was quite taken aback. europeans, and i don't mean to generalize, i perceive hold us in contempt at some point for invading their continent. i don't know if the feeling is continent-wide but i get the feeling they don't like us very much.
it's sad to note that.
i hope to write some brighter spots of my day...i'd like to recount the travels i've done.
i was just in egypt for the fourth time last june. it was such a refreshing break. people are generally warmer, the loud nature of the people was invigorating, i felt alive again. i was there to attend the wedding of my muslim cousin who married an egyptian too. it was fun to see and very indicative of the traditions of the muslim faith.
i am due back there in september but i'm afraid i might lose my job for excessive vacationing.
egypt is a place to visit...i recommend it to everyone. its history is rich and the sights are beautiful. one might say, "it's just stones" while looking at a statue of pharaohs and gods. but it's more than that. it's history and representation of the greatness of egypt then. one of the cradle of civilizations, its pyramid is the only ancient wonder left standing to date. that's called engineering.
but let me continue another time...i have to go.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

thinking day Posted by Hello

Thursday, July 08, 2004

beauty of creation Posted by Hello

rose bloom Posted by Hello

rose petals Posted by Hello

geneva, jet d'eau (jet of water) in the background Posted by Hello

rose garden Posted by Hello

dusk in lake geneva Posted by Hello

to my faraway friends

i have been a student of many schools abroad and in the philippines. i prize the friendships that i've made in all the countries that i've been. but some say, "friends are easy to make but difficult to maintain."

i'd like to thank the many friends that have kept in touch with me even through the miles. separated by oceans, but not at heart, thank you for the love and kindness you've given me.