Archive for February, 2008


Leaving Already?

February 24, 2008

For my foreign readers, this is what a jeepney looks like.
Photo taken from:

Jeepney drivers are probably the best guides one can find in any Philippine city. This should come as no surprise considering that it’s their job to drive people around. Plus they also frequently change routes.
With this in mind, I hailed a jeepney with a vacant front seat. Then I asked the driver, “Is the NBI* still around Palao?”
“Yes,” he answered. “Just walk a few blocks from the market.”
“Thanks,” I said thinking that the conversation was over.
“I once tried to get an NBI clearance,” he continued, “but it turns out I had two driving violations. I almost had a job working abroad, you know.” Filipinos usually can’t travel abroad if they still have uncleared records. This, by the way, can be circumvented by well placed friends, if you know what I mean.
“That’s sad,” I said. “You’d have to have your records cleared by the court.”
“Yeah, but it’s expensive,” he continued, “that’s why I’m still here, driving, and trying to save for them. By the way, do you happen to know how to have them removed?”
By this, he meant illegally of course. I said, “Nahhh. NBI records are in a national database. They’re not like police clearances.**”
Soon we were chatting like old friends. The topic was about going abroad, and it delved into a lot of subtopics under it. He even told me about his retirement plans once he returned after hoarding a decent amount of cash from abroad. Academically, I already knew that the average Filipino wants out of the country as soon as possible. I didn’t know just how desperately so until that conversation. The guy wanted money, and the only way he thought possible to get it was to get out of the country.
Before long, I had to drop off to get to the NBI station. The driver gave me a few last instructions before driving away leaving me to my thoughts. I reasoned that If the average citizen of my country wants to go abroad then there really is something wrong with the way this country is run. Has my country gone down so low that its citizens already consider it as a cage preventing them from living the good life outside it?
My fears were not allayed when I stepped inside the NBI station. Perhaps more than half of those who queued up for clearance received green colored cards, and not yellow colored cards. Green, by the way, is for clearance to travel abroad. Yellow is clearance to work locally.
My people are leaving this land. I’m not justifying them nor am I condoning them. I’m just stating a fact. 8 million of my country’s 80 million citizens are already outside it. More are following. Still more wish to join them, but are prevented because of various reasons. If jeepney drivers are already advising travel abroad, then it must be good advice. After all, they’re supposed to be the best guides around here. Nevertheless, that would be one advice I’ll not be following.

* National Bureau of Investigation
** Don’t ask, I ain’t telling.


CMOS what?!

February 22, 2008

Blue screen of death, everyone. Everyone, blue screen of death. Now you’re introduced.

A while ago, the blue screen of death suddenly popped out in my monitor. I was stunned for a second. It was not because I’ve never seen such a scene. In fact, our other computer frequently pops out that scene especially before its DDR card was replaced. It was because it was probably the first time it appeared in my PC.
Thinking that a simple restart would fix it, I just did that. The issue, however, was not that simple. My ROM drives went awry. They kept blinking, and when I clicked on one of the “open” buttons the tray pops out halfway before returning. I could think only of one cause: BIOS virus. I could also think of only one solution: clearing my CMOS.
Thankfully, I still had my motherboard manual. I knew how to reconfigure the jumper settings, but I didn’t in what situation to do it. Several questions came to my mind:

Do I need to remove the peripherals connecting to my motherboard?
Do I turn on the power while the jumper setting still commands CLEAR?
Was this Theme Hospital’s fault?
Did a trojan invade my PC?

Thankfully again, there was another PC in the house. I searched the Internet for instructions and dutifully applied them. To make the long story short, everything returned to normal. I am now blogging using my own PC.
This may seem to be a trivial thing to some, but this experience made me realize something. If this had happened 4 years ago, or even 2 years ago, I would have been on the verge of panic. I couldn’t have borne thinking that I need to buy a new PC. It’s something I couldn’t afford, and am shy to ask money for it from my parents.
This is the insight that struck me. It’s not that practice makes perfect, but what experiences we have, however inconsequential we may consider them to be, can prepare us for what may lay ahead in the future.

Btw, this is what my motherboard looks like. Now guess where I placed the CMOS jumper…


Help Me Believe

February 18, 2008

I think I am the only Filipino who’s virtually unaffected by Jun Lozada’s terrible expose. The President and all the people accused must be shivering in their toes while desperately planning to discredit him. The rest of the Filipino people must be rightfully excited and hopeful thinking that finally corruption would be unmasked and destroyed.
Yet on the outside, I am numb to the proceedings and hearings. I watch them occasionally, and I must admit that I believe in Lozada’s words. He looks sincere, and his testimony is logical and simple; which is very unlike what the Administration wants us to believe.
On the inside, however, I am ambivalent. I want to believe that justice would be served. I want corruption to end. I want change, real change. My country doesn’t deserve this kind of leadership. It doesn’t deserve to slowly rot under its own grime and refuse.
Nevertheless, the cynic in me does not believe that justice can be found in this world. If it were so, the victims of the Enron fiasco would have been repaid with what thieves and deceivers owed them. The perpetrators would have faced jail, and not die in luxury while waiting for the next trial. The blood of the slain journalists in my country would have been appeased by the punishment of those who killed them. Their families have only empty promises in their hands. The victims of the Khmer Rouge would have seen these criminals suffer for the brutality of their reign. Two decades have passed, but not even one has paid.
I am like the man in Mark 9:11-29 praying to Jesus for his son to be freed from an evil spirit. I know that God can do what I think is impossible, and I want to believe that he still does it. This country would then be a far cry from where we are now when honesty becomes the norm and not the exception, when high profile criminals are served justice, and when the money for government actually goes to government projects and not to politicians’ pouches.
“Lord, I believe… Please help my unbelief.”


Weather Advisory

February 16, 2008

Weather Update from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)

Weather Advisory No. 01
For: Low Pressure Area
Issued at 10:00 a.m., 15 February 2008
The combined effect of the low pressure area estimated at 120 kms east of Northern Mindanao (9.5°N 127.0°E) and the tail-end of cold front is expected to continue to bring moderate to heavy rains over Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao… up to Sunday (February 17, 2008).

It’s been raining on and off for about five days now. The sky is the color of overcast grey and has been like that since the rain began. I haven’t seen the sun at that time, and although I normally hate the sun this storm is making me miss it.
I’m starting to hate the Gothic setting brought about by the rains. The mountains around us are cast in mist. The land is a dreary grey. The mood of people and animals is bordering on insanity. Well, I’m kidding on that last part but if this weather continues longer, it would definitely make things interesting.
Good thing this is only until tomorrow, or at least that’s what the weather forecast said. I want to see the sun again, and perhaps wouldn’t mind being blasted by it for a full minute the next time we meet again.


The Smell of Aruma

February 11, 2008

Having nothing else to do, I was dragged along with high school schoolmates to Aruma. It was a different world, yet it was something I was not unfamiliar with.
Immaculate white covered everything that was not metal or glass. Bossa nova music streamed across the room. The smell of coffee wafted to our noses, and a few customers lazed about sipping from crystal glasses. It was a coffee shop in a city that seemed like it couldn’t yet afford a coffee shop of Starbucks proportions.
“I’d have the Macadamia froth,” a high school classmate who’s now a Math professor said.
“I’d have the Caramel frapuccino,” said a high school schoolmate who’s also my schoolmate in college, and who’s back in our city to finish her studies.
“I’d have the Caramel frapuccino,” I said.
The price was humongous for our city’s standards. In a place where a filling meal can be bought for P25, P120 for coffee is way overboard. Then there was this strange effect that posh places usually bestow: English came out freely in our conversations.* We were still speaking in Cebuano, yet something in the poshness of the place pulled out quite a lot of English words from our stock vocabulary.
“Do you have WIFI here?” my college schoolmate asked to the barrista.
“Yes,” she answered.
Our conversation then shifted to Starbucks’ WIFI offering and the coffee shops in Manila. We weren’t habitual coffee drinkers. In fact, I don’t even think anyone of us drank coffee except in coffee shops. For my part, I wouldn’t even go to a coffee shop unless if I have org meetings there. Coffee there, while delicious, is also very expensive; which is something our provincial minds must continually come to terms with.
Then we talked about posh places and the uber rich people we’ve met in Manila. People who don’t think it’s a big deal to order 3 cups of large Starbucks coffee and treat others with Doritos chips. People who go to restaurants which serve drinking water pitchers with uprooted plants submerged inside. People who are driven around by chauffeurs just so they can buy drive through meals.
Soon our conversation dwelt on malls, particularly the ones we haven’t visited yet. Trinoma is still a foreign place to us college schoolmates, while the Mall of Asia is commonplace to the Math professor and my college schoolmate.
“I love this place,” my college schoolmate said. “This reminds me of Manila.”
I almost coughed up my coffee as she said those words. The place did remind me of Manila, yet it was not the part of Manila that I will always treasure. I do not miss the glitz of Manila. Its glitz is forgettable at the least.
What I miss about Manila is the people I’ve been there with. Those friends who were with me as we saw its glitz. Those friends also who were there with me in the not so glitzy places there. Those friends whom I came to know in Manila are the ones who remind me of Manila.

* I usually make it a point to speak in Cebuano in my city, even though I am fluent in Filipino and English. I believe that people should speak my language when they are in my city. I do speak English or Filipino to those who really can’t understand Cebuano, but there were times when I got dumbfounded looks when I answered Cebuano to Tagalog speakers.



February 8, 2008


I’m CA R. Diaz ng isaf, pls. Help me 2 publish s lahat na tao pu2nta sa nabangit kong lugar, tomorow phil. Time 11 am. Plan A. LRT BACLARAN TERMINAL, PLAN B. TuTUBAN MALL, PLAN C. UNIWIDE QUAPO, PLAN D. SM MANMILA, PLAN E. ROBINSON MALATE, PAKI ADVICE NAMAN S MGA MAMAMAYAN NG MANILA WAG CLA PUNTA MUNA S MGA LUGAR NA YAN KS SA INTEL. Report namin pasabogin yan bkas para maligaw ang isyo sa senado 2ngkol kay Lozada. Tanx. Pls. Pas.

I’m CA R. Diaz of ISAF. Please help me to publish to everyone who would be going to the following places tomorrow at 11 AM, Philippine time:
PLEASE ADVICE THE CITIZENS OF MANILA NOT TO GO TO THOSE PLACES. We have an INTEL report that these will be bombed tomorrow to divert the issue in the Senate regarding Lozada. Thanx. Please pass.

For a little background, Lozada has just recently whistle blowed very volatile issues regarding corruption and conspiracy against top ranking government officials. So this text message could be a scare ploy, or it could be genuine. Now this is only a text message, and the sender was quite anonymous. It’s for you to decide if you should go to these places.


NMAT Part 5

February 4, 2008

WOOT! I got my NMAT score, and I have to ask you, my dear readers, to read the entire entry before I reveal the score.

I hurriedly went to the Med school around here to get my score.
The clerk welcomed me when I told her what I wanted. She told me to sit, and I promptly did while I hurriedly put on a mask of complacency and aloofness. Yet inside, I was bursting to boiling point, and I doubt I did a good job with the mask. I wanted to know my score to the exclusion of all else.
“I saw your score,” she said. “Do you still want to proceed to Medicine?”
“Yes,” I answered. The word bore the weight of much sacrifice and heavy experience.
I sensed that she was being coy about it. She was trying to scare me, and make me think that I got a low score. She was voicing out some of my doubts of the previous week, but I knew there was only one way to silence them. I had to know my score.
She asked me to stand beside her while she aligned a ruler just under my name. All the anxiousness and restlessness that I had felt centered on what she showed me. All the questions that pestered me since I took the exam coalesced in that single second:
Did I get a good score?
Did the other takers finish part I?*
Will the machine reject my paper?
Did I follow instructions regarding the registration details?
Is it possible that my answer sheet could have been lost?
And a whole lot more…
The figure she showed me was the representation of all the effort I made just so I could get to Med school. It was within the range of what I had expected considering that I had shotgunned more than 10 questions in the test. It was not what I had set to achieve, but it was the most beautiful number I ever saw.
I had committed the result to God even before I knew what it was. It belonged to Him, and is for His glory alone. All that I have and have done came from Him alone, and I gave Him back a portion of what he had bestowed upon me.
“You’re qualified for PGH,” the clerk said.
“Yeah,” I continued with a smile, “but I want to study here.”
So I asked their leave and left the building still bearing the smile. Knowledge of my score did not slow my pace, it only made it quicker. I hoped then that time would match my pace and make it June so that I could begin as a medical student.
Yet, I must as usual wait. Nevertheless, this waiting is different from the anxious waiting I had earlier. This time I could wait and rest. TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY.

*I did not finish Part I. :(.