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

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


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

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Golf at the Riviera

Golf with a pro

My friend and golf pro, Matthew Kim has been prodding me for an on-course lesson session so that I can be properly observed and guided. Sure enough, I had a decent score that day with only an 11-stroke difference from my pro. I was quite happy about it specially on the PAR 4, 8th hole when I landed a 220+ yards on the green for an eagle chance. Of course, I did not even get the birdie out of it but a par.

Nevertheless, it was one of the best "feel" games I've had and a good chance to get properly acquainted with my new set.

Golf with the Chairman

It was a good day for a round of golf witht the Chairman as well as talk a little shop while we were at it. The game ended with Mr. Baek winning by 7 strokes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

nights at the MFC

This afternoon, I made a general company call to allow myself in expressing gratitude to all the employees for their valiant efforts and patience in bearing with the hard times, as well as a reminder that times like these, we should all work together until this storm is weathered.

The fate of this company is unknown... it is something too difficult to predict or should I say, too stubborn to wither away. As of this writing, I heard the music stop from the theatre, and it tells me that we wil not have a second show.... AGAIN.

Last night, we broke an eight year record. We had to cancel the first show because there were no guests. The second show was slated for a familiarization tour organized by the Department of Tourism for the Russian market and that meant that we did not earn a single centavo last night.

This afternoon, an employee asked about the Senate's plan to take the MFC away from us and I said that it would not be practical to fight our own government on the matter and therefore we could not do anything for now but wait.

I simply reminded the employees today that we should as much as we can enjoy what we have and that this family is here to stay, for better or worse...

So here are some pictures taken the night before my driver's birthday at the MFC Bar where we all usually hang out. Moments like these are to be cherished because when the worse comes, we might not be this happy soon enough.


One weekend, I was with my family in a small mall in Cavite buying lunch for our gathering with my wife's family when someone gave me a tight embrace from behind. Before I could even react, I heard a familiar voice saying, "Sir, It's me, Loy"... I turned to see him as he continued speaking saying how sorry he was for all the wrong things he's done to me and that he is a reformed man.

A couple of years ago, this guy trashed my brand new car by taking it for a test drive the day after it was delivered to my office and I was out of town for business. I fired him and his brother the same day and disallowed myself any association with them and their family.

Since then, he has called a couple of times on occasion to ask for forgiveness and I have always turned off my phone without saying a word. I loathed the fact that I have offered so much opportunity to their family and in return they have caused me problems, pain and anguish. His brother broke my number one rule; no fishing in my fish tank, the sea is wide; his other brother trashed a brand new motorcycle I gave my wife as a Christmas present breaking a leg in the process but I nevertheless forgave him and took him back to work for me; a year later, my car...

As i turned around that day and saw his face, the way he was genuinely happy for the chance meeting and how he spoke of destiny giving him the opportunity to talk with me, I felt no anger in my heart, only relief that he was still okay... and his life went on and that my curse had no effect...

That day I learned that the act of forgiveness is more gratifying than most other acts...

P.S. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a saint... I'd still love to see a lot of jack asses out there take a fall.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Amazing Anniversary Outing MTV

video by santos soriano

Good Luck, Dhalia!

My former secretary's name is Dhalia, the word "bubbly" is an understatement when it comes to describing her personality. Late last year, in an interview, I noticed her name is foreign sounding so I asked if her father had foreign blood. Without batting an eyelash, she quipped, "but Sir, you know my father..., did you not notice that he is half German and half Shepperd?". laughter broke out in my office and she was hired the same day.

Like most of my former secretaries, she was powerful, sometimes more than I, but she was also charming. I once heard her tell a maintenance personnel, "Hoy, kung ayaw mong masaktan, pumunta ka sa itaas na office ni sir cas at linisin mo ang cr." (Hey, if you dont want to get hurt, then go to sir cas' upstairs office and clean the comfort room"), of course, it was a joke but it was indeed hilarious how she carried her weight around.

A month ago, she submitted her resignation letter and she was in tears. She will go back to complete her schooling and I was very pleased of the reason behind her quitting. It is a worthier cost compared to taking care of me.

So to you Dhalia, may success come your way! Best of Luck!

another golf day

Golf with the chairman at intramuros this morning

video by joey dela vega

Birthday Drinking

the predominantly production staff organized a small drinking session to celebrate my birthday. brothers Jess and Ricky Tan gave a lot of food for "pulutan", my godson Kyo cooked sweet potato and corn, Joe Fortin provided the soup and the cooking and everybody chipped in.... thank you guys!

video by santos soriano

Thursday, October 1, 2009