Thursday, December 31, 2009

Benson the Python... Bored in the Office

He doesn't wear a tie to work... because he looks like one. He ate his best friend Donnie Daga and now they are one. He hates it inside the office because he thinks that it's too cold, so he hangs around the lamp shade. My daughter loves him and my wife hates him.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Raising Miro






Miro, my youngest, is now 5 and turning six this year. He has grown to be a "too" healthy kid, overweight and loves to eat. There isn't a time where I don't debate with my wife about the risk that we are putting him through as if we've not learned from our parenting experience with Mica, my eldest.

I jokingly told her that our kids are not part of her farm (farm ville) that needs fattening up, as they are not livestock that will be slaughtered anytime soon. But that's not the only problem. My wife has this tendency to over-spoil her children to the point that they become too "comfortable", something that we were not as kids.

I guess that a father rarely wins in an argument with regards to raising kids. We will just have to do what needs to be be done when the need arises. And that is what I do these days... I don't argue. Besides, there isn't anyone who can't be fixed when we really want to.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Yellow Cab Service is Terrible!



First and foremost, It'll take a lot to piss me off.

The last time I blogged about bad food service was about Jollibee whose delivery service always gives me the chicken part I hate the most and refuse to eat. I blogged about it after the third time they've done it and I've not eaten anything from Jollibee since.

Being a recent beer returnee because of the MFC Bar, I always order Yellow Cab's New York's Finest but their delivery system has already screwed me up twice. Aside from the wait, they've forgotten to put the condiments under the pizza. My secretary would call them back and they would bring the condiments... by then the pizza would have been sloppy and cold.

In one of the times that I was personally at Yellow Cab in Macapagal Avenue with my family. I told them of the two negative incidents I've had with them and they were quite apologetic.

I honestly love their food, but today I swear that the incident last night would always deter me from patronizing their products.

Last night (past midnight), on our way home, I decided to pass by Yellow Cab Macapagal for a 14" NYF to take out. I asked my daughter to place the order as I waited inside the car. 30 minute passed and I checked on my daughter. The Pizza isn't ready yet. After about ten minutes, there was a commotion inside and one of the service crew ran after a green Pajero but failed to catch it. Apparently, they have given our pizza to them. WTF!

I went in to ask them about our order and they apologized and said that it'll just take 5 minutes to replace it. Another WTF!!! Then why were we waiting more than 30 minutes for our order if it would only take them 5 to make one? (It actually took them 13 minutes)

By the time we got the pizza, I was pissed off as hell.

Yellow Cab products are good... no, actually they're excellent. But unfortunately, your service crews are mostly idiots and that makes the service idiotic. It's a management problem that will ruin what you've built.

I don't even know why I have to waste my day off hours writing this blog about Yellow Cab. I just hope that this post contributes to the betterment of their service. As a rule, Filipinos are not rude... specially to waiters, guards and service crews. Maybe that's why the service standards remains lame.

Note:

I ran across this other blog while I was writing this http://mcallie8.blogspot.com/2009/02/yellow-cab-pizza-your-service-sucks.html

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Benson the python

my pet python "benson" who would much rather sleep than eat and seemed irritated with his dinner... 'guess he's not hungry.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Amazing Show Manila Xmas Party 2009 Pictures








Amazing Show Manila Xmas Party 2009



Amazing Show Cebu Xmas Party 2009

I flew to Cebu last 19th to attend our Christmas Party there where we drank until the wee hours of the morning, had about three hours of sleep of flew back to Manila for our party. It's Xmas Party Season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Benson

When I was younger, I loved pets but hated the responsibility that came with it. Of course, on the very fortunate side, my father loved them and loved taking care of them. There was a time when we had about fourteen cats until we got a cat I named Satur who became the alpha male of the entire block and he drove every cat away within a 2-kilometer radius. That cat was lovable in a macho kind of way and he stayed with us until my Father's death and a week later also passed away.

Prior to Satur, we also had two American Mongrels that I later sold for a measly sum of Php400 to start my t-shirt printing business. That money went a long way as my business thrived for more than two years until the Binondo businessmen killed the industry in my town.

After I married, my wife was not exactly that keen on pets so we never really had the opportunity to take pets into the house.

Almost two weeks ago, my Security Officer informed me that one maintenance personnel chanced upon a python in the grassy area behind the building so I told him that I would be keeping it for a pet.

The python already took a bite at one of my staff so they had to tape its mouth and I had to carry it around for two days so that he'd get used to my scent. And I named him Benson after a tv sitcom character in the 80's and I've been carrying him around since.




my godson Kyo and myself with Benson at the company Christmas Party

Friday, December 18, 2009

Putting the ENERGY back into Pinoy Rock

I met the first generation of Alamat a couple of years ago in what was supposedly the first Hooters Bar in Macapagal where they played Pinoy Rock and nothing more. I must admit that the band was not that appealing for me... but the bass guitarist, Aris became my sort of friend as he would constantly remain in touch despite us not seeing each other as usual as in the old Hooters days where I'd jam with them once in a while.

When I opened up the MFC Bar, he gave me this hello message and I invited them over for a gig at the MFC. That day I saw a different Alamat... with a new front man and the right chemistry. They may not yet be ripe for the picking, but the two years did them well.

Now, I am producing and engineering their debut demo album, as well as doing some fun music videos with them and I just have this feeling that they would be a name in the future.

To Alamat... may the times be good to you and may you have the fortune in finishing what we've started....






Saturday, December 12, 2009

back to back

Thursday night jam at the MFC Bar...

Another damn good night at the MFC Bar with Black Pipe on stage. Earlier in the night, I had dinner with my marketing department together with Czarina from Jeron Travel with her VIP guests. They made me drink this Chinese venomous drink (and I mean venomous) called "58", I guess named after its alcohol percentage. After, I took my 5th straight bottom's up shot, they told me that I was quite impressive being a Filipino since we allegedly always give up after the 2nd shot. Thank God I'm already a record holder, because I threw up on the sixth and got a massage from Dae Jang Gum manager Mr. Kim.

That was like drinking pure ethyl alcohol. It wasn't actually the alcohol content that bonked me, it was the taste that drew fire straight down to your esophagus...

Rest of the night, I drank coffee and water. Alamat gave me a call that they had a gig at PLM (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila -- University of Manila) and that they wanted to drop by because they missed me... hehehe.

So I had a back to back night at the MFC with Black Pipe and Alamat. Nice jam, good vibrant grooves and heavy Pinoy rock ruled the night.




Thursday, December 10, 2009

Orocan, Tupperware and plastic balloons…



Apparently, the ill feelings I harbor won’t be going away anytime soon. Yesterday morning, as I approached the façade of the Manila Film Center, I thought of the promise my lighting director made that by Tuesday afternoon, the trussing my batten supervisor installed for the MFC stage would have been fitted with PAR 38s and 64s.

I was at the MFC at eight to pick up my staff and stuff for a golf game. Later in the afternoon as we pulled up at the MFC, I was expecting that by then the lights would have been installed and the band set-up back in its place. – It wasn’t.

So I semi-freaked out and called for the lighting department to explain and apparently, the lighting director was not around. So I asked them to install everything or else…

But this blog entry is not about PARs and stuff. It’s about my growing animosity towards everything that’s wrong with my life and the things and people around me.

It’s about rubbers, plastics and anything synthetic that makes me sick. It’s about the concept of “family” and how fake it all is. It’s all about saying “I care” but I don’t, not really anyway.

Now, I’m sitting in the bar I made… literally. I care much about this bar as much as when we were starting Amazing because I know that this will grow big. But that’s the problem; no one thinks the same, not the other managers anyway. Or they simply don’t care… and why the hell should they?

A management author once said; if you don’t give your employees what they rightfully deserve, then they’ll find a way to steal it back from you in whatever form. It may be in the form of actual theft or simply by neglecting their duties and responsibilities.

I have always heard from the past managers how terrible it is for this company not to give rightful salaries for them, and them meaning Koreans. Now for the light of me, I don’t get the logic in terms of the difference between “their” salaries and the locals’ salaries when no apparent skill is seemingly needed in their positions. Not something anyway that I cannot get here locally for less than half the amount.

Take this bar for example, I’ve managed to start it up on a minimal amount and slowly refurbish it without much expense by simply recycling materials, resources and capital goods. But like most business, the most important of course would be the human element to it… those people directly making it run. Bottom line, this place turns out a profit… small, but profit nonetheless.

And yet, I feel so twisted by the fact that we cannot put resources into it -- real resources. And yet, we’ve spent millions on businesses that churned out nothing but headaches and losses - businesses that never went through the tedious process of preparing proposals and studies. And while this bar’s original scale was in the neighborhood of Fiamma and the Embassy, the proposal was lost in interpretation (that’s a simple story that I would not want to expound today) and so I am left with no choice but to start it up on a measly amount and almost on my own.

And as it is taking off, I feel that very soon, this will be stolen from me. Or at the least, it will be put down one way or the other. That wouldn’t be too bad if they’d make it better but the way I see it, no one would want to care about the nitty-gritty details of the business, much like my employees not wanting to discuss with them the details of problems since it might well be lost in interpretation.

Besides, I know the difficulty involved in convincing someone who cannot understand or is uninterested. – “hell, it’s just a job… I’m just supposed to look smarter than the rest, pretend to be interested in this shit and flare up in anger from time to time because I can – I’m the manager!”

And that’s the main difference between us. I have much preferential treatment for the less fortunate many and that is why they were forced to put me in this position. It is to either make me their friend or their foe. For those who chose the latter, they are all gone now...for those who wish to piss me off… good luck.

No amount of Orocans, Tupperwares and plastic balloons could ever replace real people. Only pity could save you now.

Note:

After completing this blog entry this morning, the Chairman arrives at the MFC with some allegations supposedly reported to him by his minions. The not so long discussion ended with him accusing me of not understanding him and not loving the company. Enough said.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Impressions

This morning, I had to wake up early for a golf tournament we were invited to -- The PMA-PNPA Class '98 Golf Tournament at the Philippine Navy Golf Club. Prior to this, I was already informed by a flight member that he had emergency meetings to attend to. But we went there anyway, so as not to waste the tickets.

I was with two of my staff, a Chinese and a Korean. Since there was a lot of traffic at the fairway, we had to contend with a lot of hanging out as one officer of the Philippine Navy whose flight was ahead of us got into some casual talking with my staff. He asked about their nationalities and firmly mentioned that they were lucky that in the Philippines, they could pay a Pinoy (pointing to my direction) to bring them around so that they could enjoy the Philippines.

I walked past him and said "unbelievable as it may seem, they are my staff and that they work for me".

It is a little frustrating to experience these things in ones own country, but nevertheless these are not unfounded impressions. So I was not really affected much by it. The system is such and it is true that much of Filipino-Foreigner relationships are indeed master and servant.

I hope that someday all this will change.

Monday, December 7, 2009

ALAMAT's Pagdaan...

These days, I do nothing for the business because there is nothing I can do at "my level". I constantly remain in a state of helplessness that I feel insignificant both to myself and my employees but as I've mentioned... I'll sit it out and wait for my time.

So instead of being angry and melancholic all of the time, I will brush up on the skills that I have and tend to the responsibilities more likely to be productive. Because unlike most others, I have to remind myself that I am in this position because I am skilled. That as a manager, I will not sit it out by playing online or offline computer games that won't be remitting a cent or two for future businesses.

So these days, I take care of two promising bands I like... Alamat and Black Pipe. I've been in collaboration with the two bands in producing their respective albums and doing their music videos and documentation.

This is one of the most fun I've had making a music video. it was supposedly a serious mv but unfortunately or fortunately, Alamat's bassist Aris can't help himself. song was written by Ivan Mariano (drums) for Alamat. I produced and engineered the recording sessions and directed this mv. i really like the song the first time i heard it so we all decided to post it so that we could have some feedback mechanism of some kind via youtube. Hope you guys like it.



ALAMAT

dolreich tonolete (vocals)
mc monderin (guitars)
aris gutierez (bass)
ivan scott mariano (drums)

produced / engineered / videographed / edited by
casie villarosa for sunset records limited / amazing records

recorded and shot on location at the Manila Film Center, CCP Complex, Pasay City

You can catch Alamat at the MFC Bar Thursdays from 10pm onwards

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Audience Jam Nights @ the MFC Bar

Here's my driver and our Deputy Security Officer jamming to Halik ni Hudas. It never occurred to me that this was their type of music. I didn't even know the song but it was fun watching them go at it.



Here's our Korean Bar Manager Chaddy Kang doing his rendition of Freddie Aguilar's "Anak".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Please let me get what I want

Here's a cover of an old morrissey/marr (the smiths) song which I have missed. I used to be this great fan of the Smiths because of of my high school best friend who introduced me to their records. We used to stay in their living room for hours on end listening to this band...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the Commitment



Another all time favorite movie of mine is the 1991 Allan Parker movie the Commitments. It's a damn fine movie about a band... or more aptly about bands.

In 1990, when the first Club Dredd at Scout Tobias in Timog opened, the SKALAWAGS, the band I belonged to played our last gig and broke up that same night. Six months later, upon my return to the scene with a new group, Chikoy Pura tells me that a band is not a marriage and I knew that he was right.

A little anecdote about being part of a band is, if one of the members misses out, you're all screwed. I've had a lot of experiences in that area -- A bassist who gets a hemorrhoid attack the day of the gig could cost you a career, a drummer who just went missing after fighting with the missus could cost you a recording session opportunity, a drunken guitarist who plays "alone" could f$*@ up your next gig opportunity and a vocalist and front man whose parent is dying could end your band life.

Such is what a band is. Much like any relationship, it may or may not last. But I like bands... watching them, hearing them, seeing the interaction between them... Hell, if I had the time, I'd like to be in one again.

But like all relationships, it will have to be based on a very important word ... COMMITMENT.

The Commitments movie is smart, witty and most specially true.

Monday, November 30, 2009

clearing messes


photo by shanquiao

Third week of October, I had a minor altercation with one of my managers regarding the MFC Bar which he was handling. At the time, I did not want to write about it because he was one of the few Korean Managers I had that I actually cared for. Well, that was until true colors were shown.

At the time, I decided in front of the two managers that I would be the one to directly handle the MFC Bar since I was there every night anyway. And the case laid to rest... for a day at least. The next day, after supposedly coming to his senses (or perhaps after being lambasted by his peers), he goes up to my office to both apologize and ask for the management of the bar. He said that it would be inappropriate of my position to directly handle the bar. So I gave in and handed the management of the bar back to him. Things of course were never the same again between the two of us.

Less than a week later, the Chairman decides to make us implement salary cuts and work schedule adjustments on ourselves and the employees due to the hard economic situation. One dilemma he had was the bar attendant's time and cut since we would need her to be there during operation hours. He asked me if he could instead give a commission on every bottle sold and I promptly said yes since it was a good idea and that the amount was up to him as long as it is reasonable. So he decides on a price of commission per bottle and told the bar attendant about it.

Yesterday afternoon, he calls me up and tells me that he has a problem with the commission because it was too big. I said, of course, because the amount was not reasonable because it was too big. So yesterday, he could not give the commission to the bar attendant because it was way bigger than her salary...

The math to it was very simple. What was apparent is that for more than a month, he did not even bother to review sales, compute for the projected commission and he made the bar attendant believe that she was getting this much amount as commission.

So last night, like my usual part of the job, I had to advance damage control measures to at least make my bar attendant feel that she was not robbed.

DUH...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pictures

Here's three pageants I've attended in the past two months...






Friday, November 27, 2009

Mica Villarosa - Teardrops on my Guitar

As a father, there are some obligations that I'd need to attend to specially those involving school activities. When my daughter was younger, I was quite active in her school as part of the PTA but work soon overwhelmed my schedule so I had to content myself with the occasional attendance of some school functions.

But fact is, getting up early in the morning is really quite difficult for me. My daughter, my son and myself are all night persons and are most active in the night time. Maybe my daughter fancies herself as part of the twilight saga. So for bonding purposes and to set Mica towards a goal, I support her endeavor in her liking to music. I appreciate the fact that at least when I pass on, she'll be a happy owner of a home recording studio and ten guitars.

One time, we went to the memorial park where my parents have been laid to rest and we shot some scenes for this video. It was suppose to be another simple video but it turned into a mini production since Black Pipe offered that they back up my daughter on a live jam. Joey Pamiloza, Black Pipe's drummer wasn't around so i ended up playing the drums.

I was pretty awesome doing these things with my daughter. Not all fathers could say that they played in a band together with their daughters. I hope that my daughter finds it awesome too, playing with her Dad.

Here's the jam with Black Pipe. You'll have to excuse us as this was the first time we played this song and Mica's first time to play with a band.



And here's the finished music video of the same song.

Sad Stories...

(senseless rants from nowhere)

Everybody has one… a dying family member, a tragic loss of property due to Ondoy or Pepeng, broken families, a kin in jail or whatever… Point is, probably everyone has a sad story to tell.

A friend of mine once said that it’s rather irritating when he goes to clubs and someone whom he has just met and who is apparently there to entertain him starts talking about “sad stories”. He figures that with the significant amount of expenses he’d incur for the night in order for him to enjoy himself and forget his own “sad story”, spending his hard-earned money and time listening to a poor soul spill their guts out is not exactly his idea of a good time. But of course, it would be different strokes for different folks… I mean, whatever rings your bell.

In the course of my employment in this company, I’ve had the privilege (?) of being manager, guidance counselor, psychologist, and judge to many people. And true enough, the number of “sad stories” I hear would be enough for a good number of screen plays for an indie film I’d like to venture on next year.

I’d like to believe however, that like my friend, some people should refrain from openly griping, simply because it becomes a negative element in the workplace. Like I always say, when my house becomes better looking than my office, then I’ll stay home. Same reasoning that if the people you work with makes you feel comfortable, then you would be looking forward to going to the work place. Much like my belief that a person who doesn’t drink has probably something to hide; an employee who doesn’t make his workplace as “homey” as possible probably has no real intention of staying on the job.

The reason I started this blog entry is because there are some people around me who wishes that they be understood with regards to their personal problems. Don’t get me wrong, I am the master of understanding. Hell, that’s why I meet a lot of opportunists on this world, but my experiences have already led me to the path of pragmatism. Most of the time, you are only as good as what you can offer or give.

The other day, one employee calls me begging that I help her brother who was in detention. I simply asked my employee what the charges were and when he said “robbery” I simply shrugged the issue of and told him that if it was a simple traffic altercation, then it would be no problem. Robbery!? Damn, that’s out of the question. I don’t even know his brother. If it was him, then I’d probably ask for details… then decide.

My relative once asked me if I knew the commanding officer of a certain unit, when I said yes, he asked if I could probably check on his brother-in-law’s case. I checked, and it was dismaying to know that it was illegal drug-related. I called him back and said that he should not have even thought of wasting my time.

There was this incident about one Korean who decided that he was too much in a rush to go thru a police check point so he squeezed his way out of the check line and was apprehended. He calls me and asks for help, I talked to the officer and he said, “Sir, we could have shot him for running away”. Agreed! They should have shot him.

You know that I’ve been burned by so many idiots who would ask for my help and later on I’d end up regretting having spent my time and reputation on their behalf. There are just a lot of people who don’t deserve help… they need rehabilitation.

So forgive me for this senseless rant… I just needed to gripe since I can’t gripe at work.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

mica villarosa - should've said no

bumming around in the studio trying to record another song when she sang this one in one take. no fuzz, no hassles and a single cam shoot which made it even better. that day, I bugged a lot of people to finish mica's "teardrops on my guitar" cover version including a live performance of the song with Black Pipe bassist August Gamo, guitarist Kenneth Tutor and myself playing drums. We did two takes and it was quite difficult not being that familiar with the song but it caught on in the editing.

for you mica, daddy can't buy you a bmw, but i can sure as hell make you music videos.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

XXX

It was a pleasure watching ABS-CBN's XXX a while ago. One of the topic was about the scam group I was talking about the other day in this blogspot.

http://casieplanet.blogspot.com/2009/11/flinched-not-at-all.html

It felt good seeing them slowly get what they deserve.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jam Nights @ the MFC Bar with ALAMAT

These days are not feel-good days... Everyone in the company knows that. With the hard times, the holiday season is not looking so bright. Hell, it's not even lit at the moment.

But we've been here before and we'll probably survive an onslaught such as this one. I heard that they've already developed a vaccine in Korea for the AH1N1 problem and it'll be determined "effective" or not, within the next three months. So there might be hope after all.

These days of tryst, the mind and the spirit must be kept busy so as not to stray too far from what has to be achieved. And so, I decided that a lot of that spare energy should go to somewhere that will help the business in the long run. So improving the MFC Bar is a step in the right direction.

Here's a band that I enjoy watching on stage, specially the MFC Bar stage. I'm also helping them with their demo recording by being the producer and the sound engineer and soon director of their videos... ALAMAT!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jam Nights @ the MFC Bar with Black Pipe

Playing on a live stage gives one a rush undefined. Maybe very soon, since we have the venue, I'd put up a band of my own to play at the MFC Bar. But for now, I'd have to be content jamming on stage.

The economic situation has not gotten better but I refuse to dwell on the feeling of helplessness and would much rather enjoy the moments this life has to offer. Good new is I finally got the chance to use my new Greg Bennett Royale semi-hollow guitar on stage and on video. My daughter was the one who christened it and later it was Kenneth of Black Pipe... my turn.

So last Sunday, after recording a song with Black Pipe, I had them on stage at the MFC Bar to provide entertainment for the customers. It was a fun night as we also celebrated the birthday party of one of the employees Gerald.

I wish I could post Black Pipe's original music but I'm keeping it secret until they finish the entire album. So I'm sorry, for now this will be just me jamming with one of the hardest working band in the land, BLACK PIPE.







Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Flinched? .. Not at all

A friend of mine calls me up earlier and tells me to drop by the Cuneta Astrodome so that I may see his lighting and audio set-up inside. After the brief ocular inspection, I asked that we step out so that I could smoke. Immediately after stepping out, I saw a logo of someone’s name and I felt irritated knowing that that someone has committed himself to the Search for Amazing Philippine Beauties 2009 as a sponsor to the tune of Php100,000 and simply ran away from that commitment.

My friend said that the person was there and I could speak to him if I wished to. I called a staff of a prominent Congressman who organized the Mrs. Philippines Beauty Pageant as they have apparently also had a falling out with this group and they were bilked with about Php2M for the event. He said that they have already filed a complaint and that it will be featured on Monday at XXX in ABS-CBN.

I finished my cigarette, stepped in and found him sitting there with some people. We approached him and I shook his hand. He said hello and the usual pleasantries and told him about how we were never able to connect with his office for his commitment to sponsor our event.

Without flinching, he says “really?” when I knew that his office has valiantly and methodically avoided all communications with my office and his staff refuses to give the good doctor’ contact number. Okay, maybe he doesn’t know… the way I won’t know every transaction my office makes.

But then again, I vividly remembered that day when he signed the sponsorship contract. It was the day he brought his family and friends over for dinner at our restaurant and they all watched the Amazing Show… that was the day he signed the damn thing. That was immediately after he asked for a favor about utilizing some storage space at the MFC for his Yuchengco Art Exhibition.

Okay, he forgot…

So then I asked about the lady who introduced her to me. One of her staff and as it appears, one of his most trusted staff because she was the one who brought her over to my office. He candidly said that she was no longer connected with him.
I took it at that and simply walked away. Fascinated by the way people such as that could handle themselves despite knowing that they could’ve been part of something so wrong.

So I’m updating my blog from the bar and as I finished decided to surf for a friend’s name so that I can catch up to what he’s up to. Guess what? Since my friend is a prominent police officer, the first entry that appeared was about a case he handled last May involving one Flor Sacbibit charged with estafa. Binggo! --- She was his staff I was referring to earlier…

Okay, maybe he’s just as much as a con as she is… or did he just forget?

Events organizer tagged in P20-million investment scam
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=470045&publicationSubCategoryId=65

Isn’t this planet small?

So, I’ll just wait for Monday’s episode of XXX.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jam Nights @ the MFC Bar




I once told my boss that the best ever business there is would be liquor and cigarettes. No matter the state of the economy, the community and even your personal state of being, people in general will drink and smoke. Of course, I meant it jokingly with a dash of truth looking at myself.

We started the MFC bar as a subsidiary of our restaurant and it is now blossoming into something that might turn out a profit or two. The art department has redesigned the bar counters and we'll have a mini-kitchen soon hopefully. I had my studio equipment hauled down from my studio office upstairs and set-up a stage which is fairly decent by standards. Further enhancements are on the way that hopefully might not cost us much.

It keeps me busy these days and I am fairly happy hanging out in here. Of course, the clients aren't here yet. We've yet to promote the place. Last Saturday, I invited a band I knew from my Hooters days, ALAMAT, a strictly pinoy rock band to audition and jam at the MFC. My employees loved them and everyone was in agreement that I should give them a slot... I did.

So Alamat wil be playing at the MFC every other Thursdays starting this 19th of November.

That same night, Janis, an old friend of mine from my Nicotina days came over with her band and jammed till the wee hours of the morning. I wish that I am able to book them but there's like eight of them in the band and I am afraid that I could not afford them as of the moment.

Palawan Blues



I am writing this blog inside what seems to me is like a luxury jail cell with room service at the PADS by Legend Hotels in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Not that I have complaints, but the room size is really something that I am not accustomed to, but these days of thrift, this is indeed reasonable.

At under Php2,000 with two meals free, some really courteous staff and a very fresh interior, it is indeed a bargain. Of course, they could have angled the flat-screen TV better so that it’ll be clearer when you’re lying down…

And yes, there is free wifi connection.

Yesterday, upon our arrival, I immediately headed to the tourist assistance center at the airport and was able to briefly discuss some things with them despite their being busy tending to the Miss Earth candidates who were also at the airport. (Last week, the Miss Earth 2009 candidates were also there at the Manila Film Center for some pre-pageant activities)

We met up with a tricycle driver named Jun who was an accommodating “tourist guide and driver” and we were pleased with his enthusiasm and love for this city. He brought us around the spots and we were quite impressed with the local government’s efforts in pursuing the goal of making Palawan a major tourist destination. My detailed impressions later….

Flashback…


My first trip to Palawan was in the late 80’s when I was convinced by a friend, Mike Abrera to take on a job with his newly formed company West Nalaut of the Western Seas, a trading firm that was to bring the dried seafood goods from Palawan to Manila. I stayed at the Calamianes group of Islands for sometime, Busuanga, Culion and Coron in particular. Went seafaring almost everyday and learned a lot about rural life. Ultimately, I had to quit since the direction of the business was going nowhere.

Three years later in 1991, a friend and relative, Walter Jimenez brought me to Puerto Princesa for a business trip with his Japanese benefactor. I remember drinking at a place called “Bottle Ground”, now a busy joint called “Kinabuch”, I think…

Now…

As expected, the 18 or so years of not having been to this place has changed the environment, in my personal and limited opinion, for the better. Despite the fact that it still does not really look like a city (but we do have a loot of that even in the National Capital Region), the place is “cleaner” and more organized compared to what I remember in 1991. There are of course, as expected, more infrastructure although I may say that it is still below the term adequate.

What strikes me most is the amount of effort put in by the local government in pursuing their tourism development venture. Something that I someday hope the national government will realize that tourism as an industry is something that we’ll need to invest in, in order to reap from its benefit in the future.

We came to Palawan to see if there are possibly good investment opportunities for us. Unfortunately, pleased as I am of what I saw as compared to 18 years ago, the developments are still a bit too slow and therefore means that the market may not be ready for us. But it was an otherwise memorable experience.

By 12 midnight, we already knew this but had a ticket booked early evening so we were at a loss as to how we would bum with the time in our hands. We were also informed that some VIPs would be at the theatre to watch the show including and Undersecretary from the Department of Tourism. So the next day, we woke up early, had breakfast and rushed to the local Cebu Pacific office to check if we could rebook on an earlier flight, turns out that we had to pay about Php1400 each so we decided against it. We decided to return to our rooms and sleep some more, we checked out before 12 noon, took lunch at a local seafood restaurant, went to a place called Jess Billiard Bar and had fun drinking beer while playing billiards and talking with the Caucasian expats.

We figured that we could still catch the tail-end of the VIP visit since we were expecting to be in Manila by 8:00 pm.

A little tipsy, we checked in at the airport, took some coffee and sandwiches and waited to be called in for boarding. That’s what I am doing now… WAITING!!!!

Because the friggin’ flight is delayed!!! It’s 7:33pm, we were suppose to board at 6:15pm… more than an hour already and the clock is still ticking. This is one hell of an experience… Now I remember why I always took Philippine Airlines… at least if it’s delayed they have the Mabuhay Lounge.

The experience was really bad… and the bottom line? I personally think that our company’s presence in Palawan would not be viable. Not in the near future anyway.

1st Nite Golf Classic @ Club Intramuros

With the new lights installed at Club Intramuros, the Philippine Tourism Authority held a tournament to open up the night games at the golf course. The occasion was well attended and we were actually glad to have been invited.



The funny thing was that I heard that day from our marketing director that I have actually won as class C champion of the Ambassador's Cup Tournament held last October.

It was shocking for me but I was quite happy specially since I did not bother attending the awarding ceremonies since I never in the slightest way figured I could win anything specially in this sport that never seems to love me back. But I did, and I just got the trophy and the write-ups from Graphic Magazine and the Business Mirror.

Two days after this tournament, I was informed that I have apparently won a place in this tournament... Wow! I've yet to verify the news but it nevertheless gives me solace to the fact that things do take time to get done... or get a result out of it.

I never really took the game seriously up until my friend Chris Park gave me his Callaway FT full iron set, a Cleveland 60 degree approach wedge and a Cleveland rescue/utility club after apparently retiring from golf. My staff pitched in for a new PING anser putter with John Jun throwing in a 3 wood. My boss, Max Lee gave me a terribly good-looking Titleist golf bag while my godson Kyo Lee personally went with me to the store to pick out and pay for my new Taylormade R5 driver and utility 3 club.

In less than a week, my new set was complete without a single centavo spent on my end. The pressure was then on to become better than I was since I wouldn't have any excuse that my set was not so good (my old set, a G-Ark set was given by my boss 2 and a half years ago and that forced me to take up this game).

Here's where MVP resident golf pro Matthew Kim comes in. He helped me settle in with the new set and even gave me a NIKE golf shirt as a present for my birthday. I was tutored a lot and I guess that it finally paid off or is paying off.

I guess that these things are but some of the things I should be thankful for.

Shawshank Redemption Revisited



Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.



No, this will not be a movie review... As I have always said, it is one of my most favorite film ever. And these days when everything seems grimmer than the usual, I eventually find things that will make me feel better. Watching Shawshank Redemption for the nth time simply made my day. (I would like to thank Jun Domingo for introducing this film to me in 1996)

As grim as I am, I have always identified myself with the main character played by Tim Robbins... an underdog that eventually finds redemption in the end. Unfortunately, life is a circle of incarceration and redemption. Over and over and over and over... and that's the way it is supposed to be.

After revisiting the film, I am reminded that another cycle has simply begun again and that eventual redemption will soon (I hope) will be at hand. That the world was not meant to be fair... and therefore WTF am I complaining about?

There are more things that I should be more thankful for anyway.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today...

I start to live!


“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

Colin Powell


And that is why I have to survive these times of trials and tribulation. The failure of this leadership should not deter me from pursuing the higher goal of keeping this organization afloat. Too many lives are at stake and it would be selfish to abandon this sinking ship... that is despite my personal quest for sanity.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

golf day @ the riviera (couples' course)

the worst game ever, i swear. here's to the game that will never love me back, hehehe

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

mica villarosa - thinking of you

this is my daughter's cover version of Katy Perry's Thinking of You...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A prayer for the stressed

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I cannot accept, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those I had to kill today because they got on my nerves.

Also help me to be careful of the toes I step on today as they may be connected to the feet I may have to kiss tomorrow.

Help me always to give 100% at work...

12% on Monday,

23%on Tuesday,

40% on Wednesday,

20% on Thursday, and

5% on Friday.

Help me to remember...

When I'm having a bad day and it seems that people are trying to wind me up, it takes 42 muscles to frown, 28 to smile and only four to extend my arm and smack someone in the mouth!

source: http://www.bullyonline.org/successunlimited/humour/jokes.htm

Yesterday, I was supposed to have dinner with the Chairman so that I may scream my inner guts out to prevent him from making a fatal business decision. A part of my job that I consider myself inadequate. He however "forgot" maybe because I have already given a preview of the things that I wanted to talk about.

So instead of the dinner, I found myself eating shawarma with my key officers at the coffee shop while sipping my all time favorite bourbon. I only had two issues to discuss... the issue of Cebu salary cuts and the details of the Manila operations after the implementation of the new remedial salary scheme.

It became a long meeting despite the seemingly simple content of the discussion and I knew why. If my opinion cannot be recognized, then why should they think that theirs would be any different?

I guess we'll know by Tuesday.

Friday, October 30, 2009

the Call



After feeling the worst after declaring percentage cuts on salaries as a remedial measure to hopefully survive this economic crunch, the Chairman is finally back. He motions me over to his office so that I could report the updates.

He told me that we will need to go beyond "remedial" if we are to survive considering that Cebu is also not doing so well. I said that I wouldn't know since the Cebu office has not reported in their figures the entire time he was away. I told him that it seems that the Independent Republic of Amazing Cebu (IRAC) has turned totally defiant of the protocols.

Last night, as i stared at a jaw-dropping 280 guests crowd themselves at the MFC lobby (something I have not seen for the longest of time), I got the used to be usual text message from the Cebu branch office reporting in their stats. Knowing how hard it must have been for the defiant manager to be forced to report in, I responded "thank you", half sincere and half sarcastic.

A minute later I received a call from my weary-sounding counterpart expressing his "usual max-to-the-exag" emotional dilemma over the issue of salary cuts. I told him that I have expressed to the Chairman my recommendation that Cebu should not suffer the same fate since it is still an earning entity. He responds with his rhetoric on "fairness" and "family" which really got me quite ticked off knowing how "unfair" things are being ran down there.

Statements such as "I might not be here anymore when you visit", "I want to quit", and a host of other gibberish that are all too familiar anyway are the things I expected to hear. When all I wanted to hear was "I'm sorry, I failed to report my stats to you". Instead, I had a face filled in with concealer make up... the usual sooo, soooo Korean style of not admitting himself wrong.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Black Pipe - Nandito Lang Ako

Black Pipe finally visits me in my office and make good on their word that they'll record a song I wrote for them a couple of years back, "nandito lang ako" and it would hopefully be the start of the long overdue album I've been wanting them to have.

I didn't mind that I had to cancel a dental appointment, it was fun engineering for them and seeing the song come together. This is still a work in progress as you can see and I am hoping that the more they play original music, the sooner the band chemistry would come out and figure out the image and genre that's for them.

So below is the actual recording session in my office last Sunday. We patched the three instruments direct to the Fostex X-18 mixer straight to my sound card. For convenience, we decided to use my Yamaha DD65 drum kit. This recording also baptized my new (my wife's birthday gift)Greg Bennett Royale.

Additional tracks were later dubbed, the ad lib part and the other rhythm guitar for a fatter sound. With the Black Pipe down to three, August sings the song and Joey's girlfriend did the backing tracks.

I repeat... it is a work in progress.



Screen Golf @ MVP

The beauty of screen golf is that although it is still technically a video game like wii, the amount of energy and concentration exerted is virtually the same. less the walking and the riding, plus you can drink while playing golf. You can practice to a certain degree of accuracy and it allows you to pump yourself up before a game.

Last night, I was visited by an old friend, retired General and now Undersecretary Virtus Gil so that he may refresh his 17-year old golf skills. It was a pleasure seeing him not make any "comical" strokes. He was either very good during his days or he's a natural. Either way, i was impressed and told him that when I started, it was not as sane as his first screen golf game.



playing, betting and drinking with MVP resident golf pro Matthew Kim and Hoony Lim

the angel of death



Sad as it is to say... part of my job is to be the official "angel of death", a job that I've been identified with for the longest of time.

In the earlier years of this company, mismanagement and miscalculation has led to the overabundance of employees. By the time the miscalculation had to be set straight, no one wanted to make the announcement. The then vice president ran away, the Filipino General Manager ran away, and all the king's horses and men ran away as well.

I was tasked to be the one to break the news of retrenching all of those people whose names I had to call out like hosting a beauty pageant. Those who were called, survived and those who were not, perished.

During the time of SARS, I had to be the one to open up the discussion on alternatives if the business was to survive. The employees, understanding the situation although weary had no choice but accept the circumstance. In three and a half months, we were able to return to normal operational expense and the compay recouped.

Yesterday, after weeks of toiling over this decision, it had to be done again.

Once again, the "angel of death" descends upon the lonely theatre to discuss survival schemes that would allow us an extension to our lease on life. It was something that I did not want to do but had to... It was a task that no one else can do.

Yesterday, I hated my job.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

another golf day @ club intramuros



It was the Ambassador's Cup Golf Tournament at Club Intramuros. We were given tickets by my Marketing Director's friend Gina who was part of the secretariat. So John, Jay, Chaddy and myself joined and it was the longest golf game we had in Intramuros. Not because we waited so long like the PTA-General Manager's Cup last year but because of the flight ahead of us.

The tournament was designed "shot gun" meaning we all start on different holes to allow ease of traffic. The flight in front of us had this newbie guy who took the term "social sport" to the max. He acted like a pro, had gear well beyond what was necessary and he significantly increased his phone bill by having conversations on the fairway. The boys called it "yabang style" or translated "arrogant aura".

Don't get me wrong, I'm a terrible golf player myself but I learned "manner" first before even taking my first swing on a fairway. My boys were having a laugh as we watched him bid his time pulling out expensive tees from a fine crafted leather case, set his ball, set up his address, take three practice swings and WHAM! Ground his club so deep into the ground and launch his ball 5 yards. He had the energy of a t-rex on his back swing and the strength of a mice on the front swing.

The rule for the day is that double pars should be picked up to prevent delay of game, but I guess that didn't apply to him. Funnier was hearing him quip to another player, "what happened?" after the other player had a bad shot... then he took the stand and WHAM! ... another fabulous 9 yard shot!

As rule, I am a comedian on the field because I know that the probability of a comedic swing is very high (really high). So might as well insult myself early on to prevent the ultimate humiliation of looking like an idiot by acting like a pro... and that's why the caddies love me.

For what its worth, we had fun out of his entertainment plus the fact that we got to sit a lot on the Intramuros grass and admire nature... I just pity the three other guys who shared the same flight with him... they must have been ecstatic.

my light moments

The other day was my former secretary's birthday and we celebrated it in advance by drinking at the MFC Bar. We asked how old she was and she said that she's too old at 31. I said "dont worry _____, you're face does not reflect your age, only your body".
Filipino version: "wag kang mag alala, ____. Hindi naman halata sa mukha mo ang edad mo, sa katawan lang..."

The other night on our way home, I commented to my best friend and my driver that my new (golf) grip has given me new callouses... my driver immediately commented "that is why i never change my brief".
Filipino version: "langya, ang sakit na naman ng kamay ko, ang dami ko nanamang bagong kalyo sa bagong grip na tinuro ni Matthew..." my driver: "kaya nga ako, sir, hindi ako nagpapalit ng brief,,,"

A Blast From the Past... and Present

It's a blast from the past... i recovered this video tape from my file of my days as a UN Volunteer. It was such a long time ago but I remembered those very productive days when I was stationed with the Bureau of Product Standards at the Department of Trade and Industry and I worked with some very nice people. Of course, after that assignment, I got to be stationed in hell and that was why I left the UN system.



When I found the tape, it was bundled together with things I did while I was still involved with development projects and it reminded me of days when I was so much in-love with doing my part to save the world.

It was a noble feeling. A feeling of high that makes you think of yourself as a relevant being facing odds as challenging as you see in the movies.

When I moved myself out of the "circle", it was because I felt helpless at the time. I felt that my "emotional" involvement with the project would compromise the over all "value" of the programs since most of it, if not all were all "funding"-centered. And I was too vocal about those things... (not to mention too vocal on most other things) so it won't be of any help raising hell with arrogant funding agency country representatives and their minions... executive directors and "mighty" development work "icons", demigods with degrees and so on and so forth.

By 2001, I was so burnt out that I had to go... and also because no one wants me for obvious reasons. To be honest, I didn't want them either for the more obvious or reasons... Making a career out of "under/un/development" was turning out to be a crime. Not for the foot soldiers whom I am sure are all head strong on their convictions, but those who has benefited sumptuously well from underdevelopment.

I left with the hope that I could feel relevant once again. Relevance that would be measurable and tangible... and I found it in 2001 when I joined this company.

But like all good things... well, I think you know what I mean...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Golf Day @ the Riviera Langer Course

When the going gets tough... have a round of golf. It'll definitely rid you of your stress or simply add more if your swings are bad.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our Sad, Sorry Lives


Senate starts negotiations for transfer to Film Center bldg

AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMANews.TV
09/30/2009 | 09:17 PM


Despite persistent ghost stories about the Film Center of the Philippines building, t
he Senate leadership is bent on transferring the chamber's offices there to save money.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said they are now in the process of negotiating with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) for the lease of the building, which overlooks Manila Bay.

He said the Senate initially thought of constructing its own building, but due to the tragedy caused by tropical storm “Ondoy" and the huge national budget deficit, it has decided to just rent a building at a cost lower than what it spends on its present location — the GSIS building.

“Rerentahan lang po natin at a lot lower cost with what we are paying now sa GSIS. Kasi dito po we are paying, if I’m not mistaken, over a hundred million pesos a year rental," Zubiri said. The Senate is paying P120 million a year to the GSIS.

He said the construction of a new building would cost the Senate some P500 million to P1 billion.

He said they started their talks with the CCP administration Monday, which they followed with another meeting Tuesday. Zubiri expects to finalize their negotiation before December.

“We are planning (the transfer in time) for the 15th Congress which is next year.Ire-renovate pa kasi," the senator said.

He said Senator Edgardo Angara, finance committee chairman, is set to conduct an inspection on the Film Center to check the structural integrity and soundness of the building.

He said they were told that the Film Center is structurally sound but the electrical pipings and water systems should be renovated.

Instead of paying for the rent next year, the Senate can use the budget to renovate the Film Center.

He said he was looking forward to the transfer to Film Center which is bigger and wider than the Senate’s present location.

Zubiri said he has been to other senates around the world and it is embarrassing that only the Philippine Senate does not have its own building.

Asked if they have the backing of the other senatorsr, Zubiri said most those they have spoken to are agreeable because they will save on rent.

Exorcise the ghosts


On rumors about the presence of ghosts in the Film Center, Zubiri said he does not believe in ghosts but they can have the building blessed five times and put a resident priest just to allay fears.

The rumor is that the unused building abounds with ghosts of construction workers supposed to have been buried in wet cement when the upper floor collapsed sometime in November 1981.

Construction of the building was being rushed on orders of then First Lady Imelda R. Marcos for the 1982 Manila International Film Festival. As a result of the accident and due to structural defects, the building ended up as a white elephant.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he also wants a permanent building that would house both the Senate and House of Representatives, but for now he would prefer the Film Center.

“Separateness (of the Senate and HOR) connotes division, mas mabuti ‘yung we are one Congress, two houses remain in same building, if they want, if not then we will get that property for the Senate," he said.

He said the Film Center is a well constructed building but fails to get occupants due to superstitions.

Enrile confirmed that there were indeed workers who died when the building was being constructed, but he wondered why people are afraid of ghosts. “May mga superstitious people. Ako mas takot ako dun sa buhay na tao kesa sa patay na tao (There are superstitious people. I am more afraid of the quick than the dead)," he said.

Happy to see a ghost

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago agreed with Enrile.

“Let us start constructing or at least establishing our own office instead of renting here from the GSIS … I prefer that we spend more now and never have to spend again rather than just keep on paying rentals, in millions every month and never have the opportunity to have a building of our own," Santiago said in a separate interview.

On the reported presence of ghosts, she said she would be glad if she would see one.

“I’ve chased ghosts all my life and I’ve never caught one yet so I would be very happy to stay there overnight at least for the first day just so that I can see my first ghost because I’ve never seen one," she said.

She added: “I just want to tell the ghost ‘ your supposed to be on another level of existence, not here, so go back. I’ll even teach you how’. I never believe (in ghost) unless I see it." - GMANews.TV

source: http://www.allvoices.com/s/event-4273954/aHR0cDovL3d3dy5nbWFuZXdzLnR2L3N0b3J5LzE3MzUxMy9zZW5hdGUtc3RhcnRzLW5lZ290aWF0aW9ucy1mb3ItdHJhbnNmZXItdG8tZmlsbS1jZW50ZXItYmxkZw


A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from my administration director about this news article about the senate’s interest of getting the Manila Film Center as its new home. It was rather nerve-racking to think that after all of this time (8 years!!!), after all of these efforts that we’ve made despite the difficulties, the Manila Film Center, home of the Amazing Show can simply be taken away from us.


I do not know what the future holds. As of the moment I cannot be reactive to this uncertain state of our company and employees’ future. These are not the days when a big development company wanted to occupy our home several years back and I fought back with all my might. These days, I choose to take the “wait and see” attitude as to what my government’s decision would be…


For what it’s worth, I hope that they realize that they never valued the film palace during its long moment of decay (about 10 years), and so I wonder why take it now when we have somehow managed to resurrect it and it has become productive and home to a show our country can be proud of.




Senators Angara and Zubiri with CCP Board Chairman Emily Abrera, CCP Acting President Raul Suñico and myself talking about the Manila Film Center

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Guitars

When I was in 3rd year high school, summer of '83, i had this fancy to play the guitar. Influenced by peers that it was a rather cool skill to possess. Well, it's been more than 26 years since that time and I'm still a terrible guitar player, but then again, I still like guitars, so much so that I can't seem to get enough of them.

On my birthday, my wife, with much prodding on my end wanted to get me a guitar. Inside the music store I got to fancy a greg bennet semi hallow electric guitar which had a reasonable price tag on it. My wife of course, "cringed" at the price tag and asked if I really needed that particular guitar. I simply said that I don't need it since I have eight other guitars but that i want it.... BIG DIFFERENCE!

This afternoon, my executive director scheduled a photo shoot for the pageant program address and I took the opportunity to have myself taken with my guitars.













photos by eugene barona