Random thoughts... Happy Thoughts... Sad thoughts... Anything goes!!!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Folding thoughts

Last night, I came upon this video on folding shirts that I immediately called my cousin and my sister to watch it. Then I tried it myself and it actually worked!

This morning when I woke up, I immediately saw the shirt that I folded and I undid it and did it again and again. It was neat! Then it got me into some reflections. Kinda weird since I was looking at my altar but instead of praying my mind wandered off…

First, I remembered one of the talks I had with some of the boys (that would be our field auditors) last December while we were waiting for a ride back home after coming from a training. It started with discussing one of the auditors who had a jealous wife until it got to me. They were asking if I was a jealous person and I told them that I could not really recall being jealous, but then again, I don’t really have someone to be jealous about. And that lead further to them asking about my status (ahh shouldn’t boys be NOT nosey???) and I blurted I don’t think I’ll be a good wife! And immediately one of them commented to qualify my statement.

Ahh well, I wasn’t talking about fidelity. I’ve always been a loyal person and loving (hmmm…of course I could be biased too… hehehe) BUT I’m not good with house chores so how would I be able to take care of a husband??? Then, they all pointed to Dong and said that he is a good candidate for me since he is good with houseworks like cooking (yeah I know that since he would bring dishes when he is in head office and they are good!) and laundry (gosh he is a very neat person who has a portable iron when travelling) and I said “No way! I want someone rougher” and they all laughed while Dong came near me and patted my shoulder. Hehehe… He is actually a nice person and I’ve seen some of the branch people tease him and trying to pair him with the girls from the branch and he would just totally ignore them… oh he wasn’t rude at all he just did not mind their teases.

Anyway, the talk was going in all direction but the last line the auditors said was that if ever I found a man, they will really check him out and make sure he is a good person. Geez… what can I say, the boys really care for me that much. They treat me as their family. Actually I do the same for them…

I was still smiling while remembering that discussion when I also realized that there has been a big improvement in the atmosphere at home now that all the girls that are helping us are all young (there are 3 families living in my home and each has their own help).

The girls (a twin) always giggle and are happy and my cousin who is helping us and who used not to smile too much is now also always smiling. Well they are not as efficient and neat (actually far from it) as my aunt who used to take care of us BUT having light hearted and happy people live with you is far better than having heavy hearted and problematic people.

My cousin sometimes act problematic when her family asks money and I told her it's okay to help but she should leave some of her earnings for herself and not send everything to their province since she should also enjoy the fruits of her labor plus she should also start saving for her future. I realized that if you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labor and you give everything to your family and you see that they don’t work as they should, and still you are forced to give out of sense of loyalty then eventually you feel the burden and you start acting miserable (or sick if you keep the feeling inside) and somehow that rubs in on other people too.

So now I actually am glad of having happy people around… hmmm if I could just convince my mom to giggle too instead of being affected by my really naughty and hyperactive nieces and nephews, then that would be heaven!!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Looking behind my shoulder

Walking is becoming a regular part of my routine even without a walking buddy for a long while already. Even in NOT so good weather, as long as I feel I won’t be rained out, I tend to walk.

A lot of people have discouraged me from walking at night and asked me if I am not afraid. Honestly I’m not… well I am cautious but I’m not really afraid walking by myself since I have been doing it for a long time already. If there is fear it is actually more on the fear of being bitten by stray dogs rather than encountering bad elements. Tonight, however, was one of those uncomfortable walks.

I covered more than half of my walk when I noticed a man walking near me. I am usually carefree with the way I walk in the route I took tonight since the street lights cast a shadow and I can easily see if someone is near me. I took note since it doesn’t seem like a carefree regular walk to me and somehow I changed my pace until I reached an intersection (just a small street going to a dark alley on the other side) and I stopped. There were jeepneys and other vehicles passing by so I had reason to stop and it was the first time I looked behind my shoulder and saw the man. He looked at me for a quick while only then looked away. I didn’t feel good! I motioned to cross the street then stopped, he did not move… and I attempted to cross but stopped again and he crossed. He looked sideways and was walking real slow (as in very very slow) even on the other side of the road…actually it seemed more of an alley (a dark one) than a road and he looked back and saw that I was still on the other side. I was thinking what I was going to do. Well I decided to cross even if he was walking very slowly but instead of heading his direction, I changed course and walked to the left going to the main street, a very busy street! I walked fast and begun to be looking behind my shoulder. Even when I reached the main road and continued heading to where I take my ride I would be looking over my shoulder from time to time… Ahhh, I hate that! He took the peace from my walk!!! But still I’m thankful that I am safely home and I just have to figure out how to walk without fear on coming nights… I wish Julie is back in the Head Office, that way I have a walking buddy again. He is a nice walking buddy and sometimes walks funny since he tries to catch up with my long strides if we decide to have a fast paced walk. Just imagining him walking with me already makes me smile… he really walks funny with matching swaying of the arms even if he is carrying a bag. Hehehe, he’d probably not walk with me again if he knew I am making fun of his walk.

Anyway, I got to figure out a nice way to be able to walk peacefully… Ahh I really love walking but don’t want walking with a stiff neck! I want to walk peacefully and with a light heart...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ogling Earth!

I have been going around some places in my neighborhood and noted the disorder and I wondered how it would look on google earth. Unlike the coverage in the US were you could just type the address you are looking for and it will easily zoom in on it and you could almost see the details, the coverage for the Philippines is not that well yet (that is on the free version I am using, am not sure on its pro version).

When I typed Quezon City, Philippines it defaults on a location. I tried to figure it out by looking at landmarks that I was familiar with and finally noted that it zooms in on the Iglesia ni Cristo compound. Why? I don’t know. Tried the same in Manila but I can’t figure out yet the place it defaults to. And while checking the landmarks, I realized that it is not a recent photo too!

But since I was already able to place the default page for Quezon City, I was able to locate my home (just the roof, I couldn’t zoom in any closer) and the whole neighborhood. Ah, it doesn’t look that chaotic and somehow you also get to see a lot of “green spaces” – Trees!!! I was reflecting on it and thought that sometimes you have to move some distance to appreciate a place (the same goes for people too) because if you are too close then you get to see the flaws and sometimes you become focused on it and lose the good parts.

Anyway, I like looking at maps and for a long time I had a relief map of the world in the wall in my room. It was not an ordinary flat paper map but was made of plastic of some sort with proper elevation and colors. I got it from my father and he had it in his office for a long time too before giving it to me when he went to work abroad. However, it went brittle over time. But it is not just maps that I enjoy looking at but the topography of the earth. When I ride an airplane, I like looking at the contours of the land and the expanse of the sea and how I wish I could identify all the places we are passing through. I couldn’t but I would always make a guess! The same feeling comes to me, when I see our different islands while riding a boat. I particularly enjoy it when I see a small strip of land at the end of an island (don’t know what it is called), sometimes there’s even a tree in it! The view from a land trip wouldn’t come close since you’ re too near to see the scope of the area but on certain occasions and in certain locations you too get a bigger view of a good place and there is a great feeling that envelopes you. The earth is simply beautiful and I realized that I enjoy ogling it!!!

I believe I started with my fascination on the first plane ride that I could recall at about the age of 8 (it wasn’t really my first plane ride since mama brought me from Vietnam when I was still a baby…nope am not a refugee but I was born there). My father was a surveyor (and so was his father) and they had a project then in Mindanao and my brother and I tagged along in one of those trips! The company he worked for had converted a bomber plane for use in aerial photography. It was not a big plane and had its opening in the belly which remained open for most of the ride and we could see clearly the land terrain and the sea we were passing through since it wasn’t flying that high. I could still remember my excitement and joy on that trip especially since the people there told me I was brave considering that I didn’t feel dizzy nor throw up at all (while my brother did…hehehe)!!!

Every time that I would travel I would always look at the views especially on places I am not familiar with. I would rather just keep silent and watch the sights unfold and marvel every time I come across something beautiful. I like to travel during the rainy season (not typhoon season though!) when it is not so hot and dusty and the earth is green and alive and the rain had somehow washed out some of the dirts from the land but I am not traveling far again real soon so I guess I better just ogle the earth in google… its not as magnificent but it is pretty interesting!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Audit blues

Just what could be so painful for an internal auditor? I think it is to audit a friend who is suspected of defrauding the company.

That happened to me before. One of our field auditors uncovered something on our former colleague, a really close friend, on his regular branch audit. He did not want to go deeper and none of the others wanted to do it too even if I assigned it to them. I couldn’t force them because even I would not want to do it but we had a responsibility to the company so someone has got to do it. On reflection, I also thought that it would be a bigger sin to be thinking about the possible extent of what he did than to be sure of what he did. I wanted to be proved wrong of what I was thinking based on the initial result than to be constantly wondering about it. It would be like I was accusing him in my head and he wouldn’t be able to justify himself.

I knew that it was going to be painful auditing him but to be actually there doing it and facing him was like a knife cutting through my heart! A mixture of pity and disappointment for his part and a betrayal on my part. I did not want that experience that again!

Last Thursday, I got a call from one of our sales boss telling me that there has been an anomaly in one of our branches. I’m supposed to send a field auditor but all of them are in the middle of their engagements so I went instead and brought along one of our Head Office Stationed Auditors to assist me and also to train her. I’m not really close to the people involved but I have seen them before and would talk to them over the phone on occasion. They have been with the company a long time and I felt sad thinking about the repercussion of their act to their family.

When I got there, they were still around but they were alrady on their way out per instruction of their boss. When I asked one of them why they did it, she embraced me tightly and cried hard! She was saying that she was sorry but that she was just so hard up that she did it! I asked them how they will be… if their husbands had work? No… their husbands had no work, they were the bread winners... I really couldn’t tell them much considering that they would not be getting anything from the company plus they might face court action. And to think that they have been with the company a long time. One of them has been with the company 22 years and has actually requested to avail of the company’s offer for early retirement while the other has been with the company for 19 years. I could not really say anything so I just embraced her back. I wish I was just reviewing the report and not actually doing the investigation. You are more objective when you only see the name on paper. But an auditor has to set the feelings aside… one should be objective at all times and everything would be coming out of the report, no matter what you feel about the matter.

Just what drove these two women to do what they did?

They were heavily in debt. I never realized the extent of their financial woes until one of the task force came and mentioned that they owed her a big amount, that they have credit card debts and debts in all the cooperatives and lending people in our company. The audit showed that they were borrowing money on their collection on certain days but would be able to cover them up before the month end (probably after they were able to borrow from somebody else) so that their cash and records submitted to head office would tally but eventually they have exhausted all means of credit.

One of the things I learned over the years is that there is really no one that would do something just for the heck of it (and if so.. it would be very very rare). Fraud usually start with just borrowing money because there is a need and an opportunity. There is always the desire to return it when you are able. It starts small, then it increases the frequency it is committed… you are not caught and you become more creative until a time comes when you can’t control it anymore. It also happens when some people turn a blind eye on little infractions because they themselves have infractions too, never realizing the extent another has become involved. And by that time it is too late… it is not just the person who is involve that suffers but his whole family because they are usually the bread winners in their family.

I must admit that life in our country is really difficult. It is hard to make both ends meet for most people BUT we have too. Going beyond means you will be encroaching on other people’s resources… resources of people who think it is okay to just give and give because saying NO is hard. But sometimes giving is not healthy anymore – it is possible that you still have enough for yourself but the people you are giving starts to just rely on you for their every need and they don’t move anymore…or even if you don’t have enough for yourself, you can’t say NO to the people you love. You force yourself to produce for all their needs and they begin to think that you are a superwoman whom they can trust always not realizing that they have put you to hell… and you don’t show them because you want the best for them… until such time that you breakdown and they are left with nothing but debts and they don’t know how to deal with it because you never taught them in the first place… and the people you borrowed money from or the people who borrowed money for you (because you can’t borrow anymore) are affected… so many lives actually become affected.

Ahh… am not really sure where this post will lead… so many things keep popping in my head. I’m not really feeling well plus I guess I still have the blues from writing the audit report. I think I better just stop and take some rest... maybe I’ll just sing my blues away and feel better…

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Our telephone line has been restored! I wonder when the wire thieves will strike again???? They were able to steal the wires lots of times already and there were failed attempts in between. One time they were already able to cut the wire but my brother was still awake so that he immediately went out to check when he noted that his internet connection got cut off and the culprits run away. This last time he fell asleep but it was a good thing since some people told him there were 5 people that did it and he could have been in trouble…

Oh well… that’s the downside in living in a depressed community. Lots of thefts from what have you… wires, clothes, water meters, grills and rails (anything that has steel or metal content that can be sold in the junk shop), electricity and water (for illegal connections)… of course only a few people do it and some are not even from the place. Most of the people there are just busy with their daily existence, many are decent!

This brings me to this picture sent by an online friend from the US.

He asked me if this picture of squatters he found in the internet is similar to the place near my area.

Well, some of the dwellings are the same… made from scrap woods, coconut lumber and GI sheets but some actually looks better compared to the 3 dwelling layers of scrap woods shown here. But what is shown is just one stretch along the railways (which is still being used by the way) while ours is a maze of dwellings in roads and eskinitas (alleys).

Many of the squatters in my neighborhood now have unfinished concrete walls made of hollow blocks and they are side by side other dwellings. There is no uniform size as it depends on what area one is able to appropriate for himself. A lot have a second floor with plywood as walls (some even uses hardiflex) and coconut lumbers (I saw one with steel braces) as posts and GI sheets for the roofing, many of these were bought as second hands though. If you look inside, many of them have a small colored TVs and you could even hear many singing along with the videoke. Some have electric stoves (mostly those with illegal electric connection) and washing machine too. Some have cables (illegal), they just give a one time payment for the installation and they could watch all they want since their electricity is also illegal. I heard that they just pay a minimal fixed monthly rate, to whom, I don’t know, and they could use up all the electricity they need. Of course, they won’t have electricity when the Meralco (Manila Electric Company) people comes along and cut them off but it doesn’t take long for them to get connected again… then lots of time the usage would be too much that the transformers explode!!! Their waters used to be free flowing while we had to wake up at inconvenient hours before just to be able to fill our containers but ever since Manila Waters took over, our water system has improved a lot and the illegal connections have slowly been minimized. I’m hoping for the same with the Meralco, that they are able to cut all illegal connections so we don’t have to bear the burden of paying for system loss charges.

Now there’s actually a big market for general merchandise in depressed areas and the richer people there are those with big sari-sari (variety) stores and the money lenders to the vendors there… ahh not to forget those who have appropriated (or bought rights from the previous dwellers) spaces and built concrete structures (some 3 stories high) and rent them out for HUGE amount. They could do that since the locations are usually convenient—good access to transportation and very near commercial/business areas!

Of course, I’m talking about those units you see along the road and bigger alleys where I pass through, there are others that are still made of scrap woods and the people really poor, but eventually they will replace the scrap with better materials as they progress in life or if the original dwellers opt to sell their dwellings to others who have more means than they have.

Hey, I have nothing against squatters that are really hard up. My parents started out renting a barong-barong (shanty) when they got married. When papa was still alive, he would tell me how blessed he is because he just wished for their own barong-barong before but we were able to build a decent home in our own lot… of course, they worked for it.

When we first stayed in our community there were already squatters around us… not as many as they are now, but sometimes late at night I’ll hear shouting and when I turn off the lights, I could see groups of people fighting and some throwing homemade spears… When people started coming in and they were setting up more concrete structures papa told me that in a way it was better since now that they are not transient anymore, they would be protecting the place more and the crime would be lessened. He would just say that he wished that there was some order in the way they build their homes.

There had been some trouble too when the legit owners of the land wanted to use it or sell it and the squatters would protests and fight and make unreasonable demands. That’s actually one side I’m really sad about… they have not even considered that the owners pay the government taxes and they would not even allow them access to their own land??? They should at least leave peacefully when the owner already needs the land since they were able to use the land for free for a long time. Some were even given relocation sites by the government but just decided to settle back to the place since it was convenient for them.

Sometimes, when I would think about the people that are already given relocation sites but still go back or find another place then demands for relocation site again when they are forced out of their new place… I would wish that the government would take their pictures and fingerprints and get vital information (including those of their immediate families) and put it in a DATABASE. And the government should check this database every time they would give low-cost housing or relocation sites or other similar “valuable” incentives to these people and if they still try to avail even if they are already in the database then they should not be allowed and if they still do not want to leave the place and cause trouble, then they should be punished!!!

What kind of punishment???

Well, since they insist on staying there, then they should not be allowed to leave the place anymore. The government could make a structure using THEM as walls and roof and floors. There should be a special glue to hold them together since nailing them would be too much! The more people, the bigger and higher the structure! They would only be allowed to get entangled from the structure when they promise (and eventually fulfill it) to help in community development.

Okay, this is never really going to happen…just a crazy thought since sometimes no matter how I try, these things also brings me down and I would wish that the government come up with something that will help them without tolerating ABUSE!

Monday, August 07, 2006


When I got home last Friday my brother told me that someone stole the telephone wires again in our neighborhood on the wee hours of Friday morning…yikes that means no internet… no chatting… and no blogging which I was looking forward to since I haven’t blogged in a while…

But that’s something I have no control of… of course I felt sad but come to think of it I was able to sleep earlier… of course I could not write anymore on the thought I wanted to write last Friday but there will be other thoughts anyway…

Just thinking that sometimes you get attached to doing something (addicted, you might say?) and something happens to let you snap out of it completely or just take some rest from it and it lets you do something else… well I did a lot of other things over the weekend… been really busy and in my spare time I was able to indulge on the things I would do if I ever get my hands on those culprit!

And just now, I called home to see if the line is already restored… not yet.. that means I have more time to imagine the things I would do to thieves!!! hehehe...