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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lunch Out

I haven't seen Frodo since the disastrous Mizuno run last April. Anyway, we met up and had lunch in Cubao earlier this week. He said he once had a meeting with a client inside Starbucks.

"He asked me what I wanted and so I said Espresso," he said.

I didn't think much about it until...

"I was surprised my coffee came in a tiny cup and was extremely bitter. I had to ask for hot water," he explained.

Ohwkay.

Anyway, he plans on striking it out on his own and leave his current job, having sealed a lucrative deal with a supplier.

"I have reached a point where I don't want to be stuck in my job, which is becoming routine," he rationalized.

"Are you sure about your decision?" I played the devil's advocate.

"Things are going to be difficult in the coming years," I said.

At this point, I noticed he was wearing those "elevator" shoes that make him look four inches taller.

"Are you wearing those shoes again?" It was a rhetorical question, but I had to ask.

"Of course not."

"You're lying."

And then our discussion turned towards the prospects of the property and construction sectors.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Corny Cemetery

I didn't know that there is a Cemetery of Negativity somewhere in Baguio.

Ohwkay. Apparently you go there to bury your negative "feelings," ya know, instead of poking dangling dolls with needles, or sending your supposedly-significant other with roses dipped in black ink, you bury these thoughts in the Cemetery of Negativity.

Whoever came up with this corny concept deserves to be buried here...alive!

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SCHUMANN: Fantasiestucke Op. 12

The legendary Argentine pianist's magnificent and sensitive reading of Schumann's Fantasiestucke Op.12. Martha Argerich presents a wonderful palette of colors and evokes a whole gamut of emotions in the listener, giving justice to this composer's difficult masterpiece.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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Moving On

The coming week will be my last week at work, after only about two-and-half months since I started. Two of us will be leaving at the same time, we plan to submit our resignation letters together.

I feel a bit sad, of course. Despite the aggravations caused by a highly insensitive management, working with my colleagues has always been a blast. I will definitely miss them.

But then again, I have other things to think of, like my consultancy which I plan to take seriously from hereon. Professionally, I don't see myself growing with the company. There's just nothing for me there. Working for a company that considers its employees as "cost items" rather than as "contributors" is a recipe for disaster. I cannot work for a company that pays minimum wages to some employees and ask them to work six days a week in poor working conditions, with hardly any benefits other than the minimum prescribed by law. The high employee turnover is an indicator that the company doesn't really care much about its employees.

The cramped work spaces, the storeroom atmosphere, my China-made PC that is so dangerous because you could get electrocuted just by turning it on, and to top it all...I bring my own drinking water, for crying out loud. The list goes on and on. The so-called "clinic" is nothing but a makeshift compartment the size of a shoe box. It has a bed and a cabinet alright, but if you take a peek inside you won't see any medical supplies or any nurse on duty. It is a complete mockery of the system, obviously "for show" should labor officials happen to make an inspection on the working conditions of the employees. I refuse to believe that top management is unaware of this. The selective "blindness" is unbelievable.

The culture of inefficiency is deeply-embedded that it would probably take a lifetime to overhaul the vicious cycle of indifference and complacency. The worst part is that nothing is being done to address it.

I do not wish to be a part of this organization anymore. I have to go.

I'd treat my short stint with this company as a bad dream, nothing more.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Keynes is Back!

With governments taking the unprecedented move of bailing out large banks responsible for the financial mess worldwide, it seems like Milton Friedman's laissez-faire economics will be taking a back seat. It does seem like the government has to intervene when markets fail and avert a systemic risk.

I have serious doubts however, that the Keynesian interventionist model will work in a developing country like ours wherein the government, time and again, has proven to be highly inefficient and corrupt.

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Bouncier

Haven't seen Jun and Jen for quite some time so we had dinner last night in Megamall. Our conversation always turns to how people have gotten fat (because I haven't).

Both have gotten bigger and "bouncier". I was the only one with cheeks that did not resemble an airport runway. I was wearing a tight-fitting shirt (size "small") and an even tighter shorts (joke!). We had a cholesterol-laden night courtesy of crispy pata and kare-kare generously slathered in peanut butter and fish paste. Jun and I each had 2 cups of rice. Had chocolate cake and cappuccino afterwards. And so we all vowed to resume jogging and swimming sometime in the very near future.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Power Trip

In all my years of working in the corporate world, this week has got to be the fastest turnover I have seen so far.

My boss got fired, his replacement lasted a week, and another colleague will be leaving tomorrow. Our USB ports have been disabled, internet access is limited, we have no external e-mails, cell phone calls have to be requested. The ink for the printer takes ages. The list goes on and on, I often wonder whether my office operates in the present century.

I thought I was the only one making plans of leaving. It turns out three have already preempted me. We're being squeezed dry I believe this is already deliberate and putting up with so much aggravation is not really worth it. The level of inefficiency is frigging unbelievable, it is practically accepted as the prevailing corporate "culture."

I have been able to "detach" myself from so much office politics I suspect some of my colleagues think I'm indifferent. Not at all. There's no use getting worked up every time assholes engaging in "power tripping" give you a hard time. It is just not worth it.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Muy Triste

Astor Piazzolla's sublime Oblivion, arranged for Piano and Cello (Julian Lloyd Webber).



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Friday, October 10, 2008

Sick Leave

I'm on sick leave since yesterday. I'm currently nursing a nasty fever coupled with recurring headaches.

Apparently, the stifling office environment plus drastic changes in temperature outdoors were just too much for my frail body. I think I should go back to regular jogging and probably, rowing.

Yup, I plan to quit my job soon. The cramped, noisy and weak-aircon environment as well as the red-tape laden bureaucracy that could make some government offices look like Disneyland are just too much for me to bear. I got sick, right?

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Credit Freeze

The current credit freeze taking place in the US is wreaking havoc across the world.

Again, the US being an US$11 trillion economy means that financial troubles within its borders can have serious ramifications on the other side of the globe. The world is so much linked with each other that no country can stay immune from the bloodbath coming out of Wall Street.

Philippines banks' exposure to mortgage-backed US securities is reportedly around US$300 million only, but curiously the GSIS hasn't made a disclosure as to the extent of its sub-prime exposure. I shudder at the thought, considering that pension benefits of government employees are at stake here. If it is significant, then we really have a big problem.

Another pressing issue would be the expected global economic slowdown. Slower US consumption spending is a major concern because the US is everybody's biggest market. When that market dries up, then expect business failures and rising unemployment figures.

Coming from a high-oil price environment, the last thing that is needed right now is the unavailability of capital. If businesses are unable to borrow to fund working capital needs for example, then how are they suppose to carry out their daily operations?

One main difference, however between this crisis and the last Asian financial crisis is the fact that Asian banks' balance sheets are pretty much stronger, having learned from that debacle, except for a few, of course.

Lemme digress a bit. I wonder how much losses Temasek, the Gulf States and China's sovereign funds are booking on account of the financial meltdown in the US. Marc, watdayyatink?

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Disrobing Wall Street

I always thought those analysts in Wall Street were mostly over-rated consultants who can sell just about anything, including your toilet bowl, by packaging it through elaborate bullshit couched in high-falutin' language to impress clueless investors.

When I hear them talk on Bloomberg or CNBC, I feel like punching them in the nose, because they're basically just quoting each other. Of course I'm sourgraping, they're earning millions for saying something that really amounts to nothing! Ugh! Bye Lehmann. You deserve it. It amazes me that they were able to market mortgage-backed securities that were tied to sub-prime assets.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Puccini: La Boheme

Puccini's immortal classic finally makes it to the Philippine stage with the Philippine Opera Company's production of La Boheme. I was fortunate enough to watch portions of the dress rehearsal last Wednesday evening, courtesy of Ms. Lorna Lopez and Ms Karla Gutierrez of the POC.

I arrived at the onset of Act III when Mimi, in her touching aria Addio, senza rancor bids Rodolfo farewell. This number quickly becomes a heartbreaking duet between the lovers and finally turns into a marvelous quartet as Marcello and Musetta bring their quarrel outdoors. The stunning contrast created between the warring couple and the sentimental one in an ensemble number is just marvelous: it is without doubt, one of the finest quartets in all of Italian opera. I just hope that next time, the performers would keep this in mind.

Also, I couldn't stifle a smile when Colline in a touching aria, bids farewell to his overcoat, which he goes out to sell.

I missed out on Che gelida manina and Mi chiamano Mimi in Act I, two of the most beloved arias for tenor and soprano as well as the big crowd scene in Act II that culminates in Musetta's highly popular Waltz.

From what I have seen so far, I'm sure the production is all worth the trouble with competent performers as well as an inspired conducting from Helen Quach. I'm pretty sure the orchestra will rise up to the challenge during the regular run. Performances on Friday through Sunday this week at the CCP.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Geekish

For some reason, one colleague seems to regard me as a walking encyclopedia, a geek.

I did give him a brief lecture about Nazi Germany, the split between North and South Korea, the differences between Jews and Christians as well as the recent financial turmoil in the US. GASP!

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A Day in the Office

An office colleague is being paired off for a blind date this Friday, and so he searched her Friendster profile, curious about her "looks."


The matchmaker--also a colleague-- claims her friend is "slim and sexy," professionally accomplished and would be a perfect match for him. He told me she looks like, uhm, Mel Tiangco (no offense to Mel).

He's not exactly thrilled with the idea because last time he went out on a date with a lady bigwig, he kept on spacing out because she reminded him of...of...uhm, Caridad Sanchez.

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