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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Verbal Fatigue

I have compiled a list of several words or phrases that I normally avoid using because I can't help but roll my eyeballs every time I encounter them in everyday speech. Note that business executives are some of the most notorious offenders because of their desire to impress colleagues and clients. Here are some of the most annoyingly ubiquitous words and phrases in the English language. I'm sure you will agree with me:
  1. Because of the fact that/in view of the fact that - makes for long and convoluted sentences;
  2. at the end of the day - makes for an impressive speech, but totally unnecessary;
  3. my two cents' worth - another useless idiomatic expression; a futile attempt at being humble
  4. inner beauty - c'mmon, what are we, beauty pageant contestants?
  5. epitome - *cringes upon hearing the word* Use this and you're branded GAY for life
  6. at this point in time - say this only when you're still thinking of something intelligent to say and you need time
  7. Going forward - oh please, I can feel the words coming out of my ears during business meetings and conferences
  8. Incentivize - pure torture; my ears bleed each and every time
  9. Pro-active - I feel like I need to exercise and go vegetarian
  10. out-of-the-box - so overused, I feel like covering the speaker's head with a box

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Monday, March 23, 2009

My First Half Marathon

Had a very interesting Sunday. I finally completed my first ever half marathon during the Condura Run in over 2 hours 20 min+ (actually I couldn't decipher the "0 " in the digital timer as you approach the finish line, it could have been a 6 or an 8), just a few seconds behind a famous running blogger (if my eyes didn't fail me) who was wearing that tiesa-yellow spandex statement T-shirt and some fashion model/celebrity. Sorry, I'm not the type who asks for an autograph while huffing and puffing at Km 19.

Surprisingly, I have been expecting to limp and perhaps even crawl my way out towards the finish line but that wasn't the case at all. I've been doing 45min-1hr running exercises at the Marikina oval and it did help a lot in improving my endurance. Jun likes to point out that we now have construction worker legs. I still have major problems with ascents, I had to walk several times in the sloping stretches of Kalayaan and the Skyway. I also tend to fade out in the last 2 kilometers of the race, maybe it's the "almost there, yet still too far" mindset that envelopes your mind during the last grueling stretch towards the finish line.




















It was a well-organized event all right, except that there were too few portalets at the starting venue resulting in long lines, Jun said there were portalets along the route but I didn't see any, and wait, the water came from some Manila Water tanks parked in the road side? So where were the promised cheering squads? I guess they meant the marching bands. There were loot bags and medals for each race finisher. Nice.

So here's the checklist:
5K - nah, too short a distance for me
10K - done
15K - done
21K - DONE
25K - Not yet
42K - A possibility, not anytime soon
Ultramarathon - Dream on!

Fotos with dragoboat teammates who participated in the Condura Run courtesy of Ann and Jilla.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Customers from Hell

Lunchtime. Inside a crowded fast-food joint. You fall in line while the person behind the counter takes your order. You're directly behind a mother-and-daughter tandem, the whole family's at a table somewhere.

It's their turn. So they start looking at the large menu boards, taking their sweet time while the line gets longer. Mom starts to order...in installments! Daughter leaves to ask her father if he wants Coke or ice tea. Everybody waits. Mom wants a special side dish. Daughter doesn't like the wing part. Kid brother runs to the front and begs mommy not to forget the french fries.

Finally mom takes out her wallet. And decides to order a few more items because she forgot them the first time. By this time, my life flashed before my eyes which means I was about to have an out-of-body experience. Some people decide to transfer to another line. Mother and daughter do not care at all.

Finally, they're done...but the mother says she prefers her coke to have no ice.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hostile Take-over

Two of the biggest companies in the Philippines, PLDT and San Miguel are locked in a battle over which one gets to control MERALCO.

The government, through the GSIS has an acrimonious relationship with the Lopez family that controls Meralco, and this latest news in the corporate world is very much tainted with the political affairs of the nation.

Electricity rates are among the most hotly-debated and sensitive topic in the country, and if the government can take control of this distribution utility and manage it to fit nicely with some political agenda, then election results can easily be secured.

I do not think, however, that government really wants to run Meralco. God knows how inefficient government is in running companies. It just wants significant influence in the company and may probably engage professional managers to run its affairs. It's too important to be made as a milking cow by the First Gentleman.

You see, Gloria and her government have serious image problems. The corruption allegations alone are staggering. Taking over Meralco and playing around with electricity rates so it could win votes is a very plausible motive why all these things are happening.

And so the obvious strategy? In October last year, GSIS divested all its shares in Meralco and sold it to San Miguel, upon which the company started amassing additional shares until it reached 38%.

Faced with this looming hostile take-over from San Miguel, the Lopezes sought the help of PLDT's top honcho Manuel Pangilinan. PLDT bought Meralco shares on its own to combine it later on with the Lopezes' so that ostensibly, the family remains firmly in control of the company.

As for talks about synergies, yeah right. Sure, PLDT and Meralco can leverage on each other's existing facilities, but I do not think that was the over-riding factor here. Meralco will not gain much operationally from the alliance. To begin with, the Lopezes already own Bayantel, a PLDT competitor. But Bayantel is debt-ridden and insignicant in the telco industry. It will just be a redundant company in PLDT's portfolio, much like Piltel. Clearly, this is just a case of defending the Lopez family's control over Meralco.

The Lopezes realized that PLDT would be in the best position to help the family ward off the hostile take-over by the government through San Miguel, because Pangilinan steered Metro Pacific in the late nineties to acquire PLDT via a similar tactic, a hostile take-over bid with the GSIS shares as the obvious starting point to take over the company.

In addition, PLDT's unrivaled position in the era of cell phones and broadband internet means that it can afford to downplay, ignore and even fight political pressure from Malacanang.

As for San Miguel and Meralco, the synergies are even less clear: a food company investing into electricity distribution? Correct, San Miguel is simply allowing itself to be used as a conduit for the government to take control of Meralco.

When Gloria was seen visiting the San Miguel corporate head quarters, (instead of San Miguel officers visiting Malacanang) it clearly shows the government is asking San Miguel a really, really big favor.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eavesdropping

Inside the jeepney earlier today, two nursing assistants were having a scintillating conversation touching on topics ranging from sperm banks, the state of the nursing industry and most importantly, that people are just tired of Dingdong and Marian.

"What if both are..you know...not capable of doing it, so both sperm and egg will have to come from faceless donors?" asks the girl beside me. She looks like she has been injecting people all day long.

"If that were that case, then the couple should just adopt, right? It's a lot cheaper and more practical." Says the other seated just in front of her. Her hair keeps on covering her face.

"There are so many nurses nowadays. Who'd take them? You can't exactly go abroad without any experience." This was turning out to be a commentary.

"Yeah but I heard you can still fake your way in Saudi Arabia."

"Saudi? sister! that should be the last resort."

A short pause.

"Have you noticed that Dingdong and Marian aren't pulling in as many viewers like before?"

"What did you expect? They're all over the place. People are simply tired of seeing them everyday on TV."

Obviously, these two are kapuso viewers.

I had this urge to contribute to the discussion and almost said, "Well how about Kris Aquino, you see her twice a day five days a week and once on Sunday. People have long been tired of seeing her and her dramatic antics for a long time already."

But I have reached my destination and had to alight.

And then I received this text message: I'm leaving for Europe in a few days. Kevin.

Who is Kevin, you ask.

I have no idea.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fashion Angst 2

While having coffee inside Mr Donuts, Raul interrupted our conversation when we saw some fashionista outside the window in a... get this...trench coat!...in the middle of summer!... in the freaking tropics!

Amazing.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Last week, when asked to comment about her competitor, Viki Belo said, "If you want to look like Boy Abunda, go to Calayan. If you want to look like Dingdong Dantes and (I forgot the other) go to Belo."

And so Boy Abunda, in one of his many talk shows, reportedly replied back that he was hurt, felt insulted and said he never once claimed nor pretended to be "Miss World (or was it Miss Universe) material."

Viki Belo, reportedly couldn't understand what the fuss was all about because Boy Abunda is Calayan's main male endorser.

Oo nga naman pala.

But because the flamboyant Barbara Walters wannabe from Samar remain unappeased, Viki Belo was forced to apologize via SMS. (She shouldn't have).

And then she left the country to attend some beauty conference, while Abunda continues to fume (presumably).

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Mystery Continues

I watch the first season of Dirty Sexy Money on cable every Sunday. Guess what, Quiapo has the entire first and second seasons on DVD. And so instead of a sex marathon on Saturday night (I'm kidding OK), I found myself watching 19 episodes in one sitting considering that I already canceled my Sunday plans of running with Jun in the morning.

Like all TV series, it starts out really well and it seems to take wild turns towards the end. Nick George, a middle-aged, idealistic lawyer who usually works pro bono for charity clients finds himself working for the richest family in New York, the Darlings, when his father's plane crashed into Long Island sound and was forced to assume his father's responsibilities as the Darling family lawyer. Gradually, he loses his values, his identity and his marriage as he gets drawn into the world of the Darlings.

Questions: (1) Rev. Brian Darling's wife and twin girls. What happened to them? Why was Brian allowed to marry again as he hasn't divorced his Chinese wife yet; Also, Brian is clearly a Protestant minister because he's married. But the church building looks unmistakably Catholic, complete with candles, a crucifix and an image of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help;(2) At the end of season 1, Juliet had a French lover from the Seychelles who said that he wants to stay indefinitely. Then why did Juliet disappear completely in the second season? (3) Ren's character in the second season was the most pointless- OK she got run over by Letitia. But isn't it that she's supposed to be treated in a hospital and not at the palatial home of the Darlings? Both Nick and Trip seemed to have a thing for Ren as Nick's marriage begins to crumble.

(4) Trip's nemesis, Simon Elder asks Nick for the profit and loss statements of Darling Enterprises, as if these were an extremely difficult thing to do. Hello, the company is listed in the stock exchange, meaning the company's financial statements are available to the public. (5) In the first season, it was made very clear that Nick no longer have affections for Karen as he's already married with Lisa and has a girl named Kiki. Then why is it that in the second season, Nick is made to appear like he still has feelings for Karen?

(6) When Letitia admitted that he had a 40-year affair with Dutch George, Nick's father and the Darling family lawyer, I speculated that one of the Darling children would turn out to be Nick's sibling. I bet on Brian. I was right. (7) Casting Lucy Liu in the second season was a brilliant idea, although it seems like she's just reprising her role in Ally McBeal. Beneath the feisty exterior lurks a very vulnerable character struggling to break free from the hand that is holding her by the neck. (8) Trip has made it clear that Nick is part of the Darling family and has anointed Nick to take over the business empire despite the fact that Nick isn't his son. Which makes me wonder: Is this a grand plan hatched by Trip and Dutch? What is the role of Simon Elder in this?

Three (3) episodes of the second season remain un-aired and ABC has reportedly no intention of reviving the series back. The show was simply yanked off the air, presumably due to low ratings without providing the viewers with a resolution to the mystery surrounding Dutch's disappearance.

And so who killed Dutch George? Is he really dead when it was hinted in two occasions that he might just be around? His body was never found. Obviously, there's a sort of a grand plan taking place, with Nick innocently being used as the conduit for the events to take shape and the plane crash to jump start it. But we'll never know now, won't we?

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Morally Bankrupt

Finally, the "real" central bank of Switzerland, UBS has agreed to relax its much vaunted secrecy rules for US authorities to check on US citizens evading tax obligations. US authorities initiated this pressure on banks in light of billion dollar scams perpetrated by some of the wealthiest people on earth and stashing their loot in Swiss vaults. Rather than risk a showdown with the mightiest economic power in the world and mortgage its future survival- considering how fast large multinational banks could easily vanish into the ether nowadays- UBS relented. And this could affect other Swiss banks as well.

This however, has some serious repercussions because Switzerland's strict banking secrecy rules have over the centuries, allowed Third world dictators, rogue states, terrorist foundations, drug dealers, shady businessmen to stash their loot in Switzerland-- and profited from it immensely, reaping huge dividends for the country. On a per capita basis, the Swiss are among the richest in the world.

Imagine an idyllic Alpine country with snow-capped mountains, mooing cows with bells on their necks as Julie Andrews sings "The Hills are Alive..." in the background, that's the country alright. But roiling beneath this picture-perfect scenario are genuinely evil people who found a haven to hide the evidence of their debauchery and get away from it all. Count the Nazis and Idi Amin types, not to mention our very own Ferdinand Marcos as their major clients.

You could say Switzerland flourishes when other parts of the world engage in wholesale corruption, large scale bootleg operations and state-sponsored economic pillaging. Come on. Rogue states maintain bank accounts in Switzerland. Swiss banks are morally bankrupt.

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