Saturday, June 18, 2005

Death Row

With barely two days to go, I feel like someone on death row. Not that I've ever walked the green mile but it sort of seems like I'm walking the last days of my life. I don't mean to be over-dramatic but coming back to my old office seems like a punishment of sorts.

Just thinking about the stress that will be part of day-to-day life gives me anxiety attacks and constricts my air passages causing mild chest pains.

But I really should be thankful because I have a steady job. A part of me just seems to want something more. A more stable job, a sense of security, a life that is not in limbo.

Going back to the office offers more uncertainties than certainties. Yes, I have a guaranteed employer who will sponsor my working permit here but up to when can I stay there? The salary alone cannot provide for a person here in Geneva. The whole Geneva experience was supposed to be so I could get a good enough job to support myself and possibly my family.

I don't know what will happen in the next few days or the following months or even in the ensuing year. I am just hoping and praying that it will be a good progression of things.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

While taking a stolen shot of ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, he called out saying, "Can I see?" Having no time for embarrassment, I took the opportunity to have a real shot taken with the man himself.  Posted by Hello

Ladies in red at the International Labour Office (ILO) reception hosted by the Director-General. Tita Virgie and me.  Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bloodied Women

(I entitled this entry "Bloodied Women" as a tribute to the womenly mothly emergencies that seem to drive us nuts sometimes. Having done research on PMS in my senior year in high school, women can be acquitted for murder if the crime was committed during her menstrual cycle. I hope you enjoy this following bit which is lifted from an email sent to me by my Kumare Cesca, a friend living in the United Arab Emirates.)

Hormone Hostage knows that there are days in the month when all a man has to do is open his mouth and he takes his life in his own hands!

This is a handy guide that should be as common as a driver's license in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, or significant other!

DANGEROUS: What's for dinner?

SAFER: Can I help you with dinner?

SAFEST: Where would you like to go for dinner?

ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: Are you wearing that?

SAFER: Wow, you look good in brown.

SAFEST: WOW! Look at you!

ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: What are you so worked up about?

SAFER: Could we be overreacting?

SAFEST: Here's my paycheck.

ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: Should you be eating that?

SAFER: You know, there are a lot of apples left.

SAFEST: Can I get you a glass of wine with that?

ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: What did you do all day?

SAFER: I hope you didn't over-do it today.

SAFEST: I've always loved you in that robe!

ULTRA SAFE: Have some more chocolate.

Things PMS Stands For

1. Pass My Shotgun

2. Psychotic Mood Shift

3. Perpetual Munching Spree

4. Puffy Mid-Section

5. People Make me Sick

6. Provide Me with Sweets

7. Pardon My Sobbing

8. Pimples May Surface

9. Pass My Sweatpants

10. Pissy Mood Syndrome

11. Plainly; Men Suck

12. Pack My Stuff

And my favorite one..

13. Potential Murder Suspect

Pass this on to all of your hormonal friends and those who might need a good laugh! Or men who need a good warning.

And remember: Money talks.... But Chocolate sings!

====Bloodied Woman by PA (20 Sept.2005)====

Every month blood smears your whole body
The feeling of dirt and filth engulfs you
You’re torn
Who to turn to with your irritable self
Upset from the monthly visitor

Confused and boxed
Society judges that filthy act
You follow their judgment
And throw yourself into confusion
Why does this happen to me, a woman?

Is this a curse I must endure?
Must I condone the status quo?
Woman rise up in this redeeming flow
You are clean
You are cleansed by the cramps

Pain is part of that recovery
Which comes five days late
O why are we bloodied?
Bloodied from no wounds scarred
Woman, rise up, you are cleansed by the blood!

Monday, June 13, 2005


i am blessed with four brothers! after my penultimate brother was born, i had stopped hoping for a sister. rightly enough, when my dad called from the hospital to proclaim the birth of my final brother, i wasn't surprised to hear, "it's a boy!" whoopee!!!

having brothers has its ups and down. since i am the only girl, they all feel that they have a right to protect me, even the little one. i am to be protected and to be watched over at all times, lest i be abducted or more commonly come home late.

before i turned 18, it was even worse. my eldest brother would watch all my suitors with an eagle eye. kulang na lang suntukin nya. (he might as well have hit him.) i would just begin to say i met someone and he would expectedly reply, "you want me to beat him up" as if it was some kind of standard operating procedure. oh well, i turned 18 and he learned to leave me alone on my dates. but coming home late was still unforgivable. i would turn off my phone and sometimes put it on silent so i wouldn't be bothered. then, he came up with the idea to have my two younger brothers call me while i was out. so that i'd feel guilty. sometimes, it would work but oftentimes, it wouldn't.

living far now from my two "older" brothers - one is actually younger than me but i have to separate the two younger ones from the two older ones, hence "older" - i am left with two younger brothers here in geneva. i come home usually late from my gimmicks and my younger brother would call out before i leave, "what time are you coming home?" i'd say i don't know. and then when i'd be out too late, he'd call to check up. it's really touching but sometimes it can get a bit annoying.

anyhow, we were talking in the kitchen earlier and he was hoping that i get a better job that will allow him to stay here in geneva. then he added a post script to his statement. he said, "before you get a nice job, i hope for a good love life for you." he continued, "it doesn't matter if you have a good job, you need to have a good love life first because even if you have a good job and you're unhappy, you could still kill yourself." he was speaking in general in this case.

it's surprising how my brothers can be so protective and caring at the same time. one time this particular brother told a friend of mine to comfort me because i was having a rough time. it really is amazing how caring he is. and this last statement at dinner was certainly unexpected. but i appreciate his wishes for me. he has such a good heart.

having four brothers more than makes up for the lack of a sister. anyway, you never really miss what you never had. i am just thankful that no matter how "sisterly" i get to my brothers, they are always there for me.

Just when you thought...

No one was watching!

I have access to the ILO Intranet Live Broadcasts of the Conference. I thought everyone knew that the proceedings were being broadcast live. But not for these two ladies who are sitting in the ILO Governing Body room.

I thought, yeah, they're just talking knowing that the camera was on, which by the way, is on 24/7. Then, I saw the girl with blonde hair and white shirt start flicking her hands away from her body while seated in one of the movable swivel chairs. It appeared she was irritated at something and used her hands with very empathic gestures to demonstrate her story to her colleague .

The other lady, sitting in her own swivel chair, apparently also clueless of the taped room is swinging her chair around and has her shoe-less feet slung over the arm of the chair.

As I'm writing this, some developments occurred in the live broadcast. I don't have audio so I could only suppose that the old man who just came in and spoke to the two ladies told them off as they disappeared and rearranged the chairs.


I used to be in Baghdad and it took a month for house permits to be issued. Houses were inspected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informally, everyone knew the house was being "bugged" that's why it took so long to approve and for permits to be issued.

I was always so paranoid as I got undressed in my room and with the vent facing my bed. I couldn't think of any other place where they could put a bug or a camera in my room. I never went up the vent to look but I always had paranoid conspiracy theories brewing in my mind. We always talked in the garden if were going to say something too critical for the "bugs" to hear.

Today, I see these two clueless ladies sitting in a room and their every move broadcast for the hundreds of staff members to see and I'm reminded of my Baghdad experience.

And just when you thought no one was looking!

Graduation Blues; Perfect Job-hunt?

After graduation, most students face the challenge of looking for a job. And on an emotional level, fear joining the REAL world.

For some, being a student is one of the easiest part of life. You go to school, do your homework, talk to classmates, given allowance, etc. It can get stressful come final exam week, but the pressures of school life might not be as comparable as that of the REAL world.

Looking for that perfect job becomes an obsession for some new grads. They hold out for that big step that will define the rest of their career. But what about those that have no clue? It seems a continuing struggle to find a job that will make you happy enough and yet pay for yourself.

Being in the the REAL world, entails many responsibilities, especially, in the essential if not mundane, economic aspect – MONEY! Parents are more reluctant to dole out money for your luxuries or even for necessities. They sent you to college, therefore, it’s your turn to do your bit and support them. Not all parents voice these out but they are implicit expectations.

These are all part of the transition from college youth to full-swing adulthood.

It becomes a balancing act to earn enough money to support yourself and to enjoy what you are doing. A job becomes work when you don’t enjoy it.

Today, I start my three-week stint at the Intenational Labour Organization as part of the Conference staff, i.e. Text Document Processor, commonly known as typist of documents. It's funny how a name sounds more palatable after some tweaking.

I just did my first transcription. We are given 10-minute tapes, which may be part of a series of tapes...


I wrote this barely two weeks ago. I have not seen another tape. I've had a live translator though. He dictated about 11 pages to me. It took us two hours to finish because he was constantly interrupted by one of his staff. But we finished it. This was on one of my unholy hour shifts.

I've been doing PVs instead. These are "procès-verbal" documents which are partial parts of an entire proceeding of the Conference. We are given "orders of work" which we accomplish and somebody from the desk will compile all of it to finish the document. People at the desk go home at 7 a.m. (from the slated 9p.m. -4 a.m. shift)

We are like assembly line typists. But here we are referred to as a "typing pool". We make sure that the ILO style is followed and we ensure whether the words "Government, Session, etc." carry initial caps. In ILO-ism, they are up or down depending on the usage. I have been so conscious of this that I'm even dreaming of it. I dreamt last night that "enforcement" should carry an "i" instead. We follow British-English here but we also respect American spellings. Tough call. :D

All the other times, we just "sit tight" as our desk officer tells us to do. The ILO hired full staff which are working in three shifts (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.) in order to ensure there is no backlog of work. Yes, there is a full staff but not enough work. I am typing this on my shift, this time, 1-8 p.m.


After this week, I am back to my old job!!! I will be once again a receptionist for the Mission. I am glad to have a day job to come back to but God knows I am not excited to come back. I will be among the war of egoes and inevitably, I will be caught in the cross-fire. I shall sit facing the elevators with no security doors. Anyone can come in and blast the living daylight out of anyone. Well, they reassure us that only those with keys can come in. Meaning, for every visitor, I have to unlock the elevator door which serves as the only security measure for the eight floor office.

But I am not worried about crazed gun-toting terrorists, I have plenty to think about between my boss and my "boss" and the other "bosses" in my office. I sit perfectly in the middle of the office and have leg space equivalent only to that of the "boss"' office. Others are cramped in their rooms with great views. Anyway, sitting in the middle means literally nodding and listening as each officer speak ill of the other. I should just have some knives on my desk and facilitate the back stabbing.

I attended the "office warming" last Saturday and my boss had already resigned himself to my not coming back, although I was still welcomed back. I can only hope that I will not come back and have some kind of post here at the ILO. But if it doesn't work out, I am still thankful that I have something to go back to.


This brings me back to my initial point...ALL YOU STUDENTS OUT THERE, GRADUATES IN PARTICULAR, looking for the perfect job seems to be the quest, but sometimes it isn't. It is about looking for something that you like to do and gives you enough money to support yourself. But if necessity dictates, you should not be too picky. You will eventually find something that will fit your requirements. And if you don't know where to start looking, you re-evaluate what you liked doing as a child. That will eventually lead you to happiness, at least career-wise.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Birds fly overhead
soaring atop sequoia trees
bright sun – a mantle
on Geneva grounds,
a city of old renown.

Summer knocks on June’s door;
weather wanes, cold to warm.
Icy lake of winter’s age –
fishing ground
for summer’s break.

Denizens on lake-beach adorn;
tourist armed with cameras worn.
Ice cream melts
on side street shores,
masses gather ‘round modern troubadours.

Copious smiles greet each other.
“Hellos” to strangers
become the norm.
Fleeting summer sun brings cheer
to weary winter souls, so dear.

107 Years of Philippine Independence

Consummatum est! It is done! These were the last words of Dr. José Rizal when he was executed at Bagumbayan, Manila on December 30, 1896. He had his back turned to the Filipino firing squad that had been commissioned by the Spanish Guardia Civil to execute him for his hand in the swelling revolutionary fervor amongst the Filipino people. But he managed to turn just in time to face his executioners before his bullet-ridden body fell to the ground in twisted fashion.

Before his death, he managed to earn the ire of the Spanish colonial government by writing "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo", two novels that were critical of the colonial government including abuses of the Catholic Church of the Filipina women and granting indulgences for hefty sums to the higher-ups of society. The same books forced him into exile and imprisonment.

The revolution had been ignited by pens which Rizal believed were "mightier than the sword." Rizal wanted a peaceful revolution and had wanted to gain independence from the Spaniards. Illustrados had begun meeting in secret drawing up plans to generate a propaganda campaign against the colonial rulers.

Most revolutionary writers were executed. Many were martyred. Two years after Rizal’s death, a bloody revolution had climaxed. Andres Bonifacio and the Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangan Katipunan ng Bayan (KKK) guerilla fighters engaged Spanish troops in combat. It appeared to be a victory and Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo waved the Philippine flag from the balcony of the provincial capital of Kawit, Cavite on 12 June 1898.

The freedom was momentary as 400 years of Spanish colonialism ended; the Philippines was handed over to new masters, the U.S. It would be another 50 years before on 4 July 1946, the Philippines as it were became the "First Democracy in Asia". This was one of the many firsts of the Philippines which showed great promise.

But 107 years later, celebrating yet another Independence Day, one can ask where is the Philippines? Still, the only democracy in Far East Asia, it is at the bottom of the political wheel in the region. "People Power" has more than once ousted a president. But the emotions that filled the street still didn’t translate into wise voting for elections. We have previous actors and broadcast journalists in office. No offense to them but at least they should have finished school or had some form of experience in public office before running for Senator or Vice-President. We still allow our votes to be bought. Yet, we still complain of the graft and corruption in every government office.

The Philippine peso used to be one to one to the U.S. dollar but now it has inflated to a shocking US$1-PHP57.

If we are to move forward and to give importance to our freedom, we should really act like a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. We should take charge and not add to the growing economic problems. It is easy to accept under-the-table deals because we all want to feed our families. But look at the repercussions. What values are we teaching our children?

I go back to Rizal. It is done. Or is it? Let not our national heroes die in vain. Let us take responsibility in making our country great, as it once had potential to be. Let us do what we can for our country and for our people so we can all fare better.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Tita Minda

Today is Tita Minda's birthday. She has been with us since she was 19. She is now 29. I see it fit to dedicate this entry to her. First, I'd like to greet her a very happy birthday. Second, I thank Allah for her birth and for letting her enter into our family.

It wasn't long ago that my youngest brother would refer to her as his other sister. She was not only been a "Tita" or an "Ate" to us but she has also been a surrogate mother when my mother could not attend to us. She was our keeper of the house - not just in the literal sense but also in the sense that as part of our family, she has managed to raise us by being a supportive sister, an understanding listener, but most importantly a dedicated friend.

On numerous occasions, she has more than hugged me and tried to dry my tears that had uncontrollably swelled and fallen from my eyes. She didn't know some of the reasons I had shed them but she was there to comfort me.

She had taken care of me when I was sick and had been confined in the hospital. She has seen me at my best and at my worst moments. But she remains - a loyal friend.

She came to us with a few blank pages of knowledge to fill. She learned to cook with us and now she is a remarkable chef that even my youngest brother, Christopher, would rather eat at home than to dine out. She is always eager to learn, always updating herself. She is intelligent not just academically and no test should have to qualify her mental prowess. She has survived the "school of life" and she lives ever full of God's grace and serves as a source of comfort and love.

She is our other sister, my mother's other daughter, my youngest brother's other mother. She has taught Christopher how to love. Even in his stubbornness, he softens and melts like ice when Tita offers him kind words and just admonishment. She has taught my brothers to work around the house. She has taught them to love one another. She is a living example of unconditional love.

Endowed with a caring heart, a giving soul, a propensity to love, she is the best sister or daughter anyone can ever have.

Ate-Tita Minda, We LOVE You!!! Happy Birthday!
i stare into the pitch black darkness that surrounds my office. it is 2:46 a.m. and my head is throbbing from lack of sleep. i have been nocturnal for the last five days and it has taken its toll on my body.

i thought that i could manage my change of shifts as i was a natural insomniac. but the lack of real sleep has deprived my mind of alertness and acuity. i am dropping objects, i am less focused. even if i don't feel tired, my throbbing head makes it difficult to do anything else.

i have not written in longhand (this was written before typed) and i find my handwriting in disarray lacking its usual graceful strokes and carefully written letters.

but i have to peel myself off the pc before my head starts hurting again. it is a wonder i can still write longhand. i miss writing into my diaries.

i make this down time at the office my opportunity to engage my hand in old-fashioned pen-to-paper writing.

Friday, June 10, 2005

in the world today, there aren't a lot of things that man can do that woman can't. today, i was driven home by a female taxi driver. getting off my shift at an unholy hour, i was greeted by an old lady donning a skirt and driving a honda of a taxi.

in the philippines, feminism seems to be on the rise yet one hardly sees female taxi drivers. the country is too dangerous for it. but here in geneva, it still surprises to see women taxi drivers.

i am a watered-down feminist. i must admit i still expect men to open doors for me. but then again, chivalrous gentlemen are a dying breed.

as i alighted from her taxi, the lady waited outside for a moment while filling up the taxi bon i presented her. i pay in taxi bon given by the office. no money passes through my hands. in the last three times i had to take a taxi home and i had male drivers, no one waited for me to get in. makes me think...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Passing of Dawn

It’s been a while since I last greeted dawn. It’s 5:37 a.m. and I’m still awake. I got home at 4 a.m. from my night shift and I got the most wonderful surprise at the office. I was given an ice cream and coke by a colleague and I got a long letter from a friend and teacher.

I have been confined to my desk job for the last year and I haven’t had the chance to see many sunrises or walk under the early sun.

As the horizon bursts into orange hues, I am inspired to write. The last great sunrise I experienced was atop a mountain of stones in the desert of Oman. I had camped with some friends and spent the night laughing uncontrollably.

Tonight was a similar occasion. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as I read my friend’s letter. We are separated by oceans yet he seems so near. And it seems that even in the six months of no communication, nothing has changed.

Several friends also went online and I caught up with them. How time really flies. But friendships have always defied time and distance.

The sun is reaching its day position and soon it will flood the earth with its light. Before that, I need to catch my sleep. It might run away and I might have to stay awake yet another day.