Wednesday, December 31, 2008

happy new year!

this year has been a year of friends for i have seen myself find a plenty in the days that were 2008.

i am richer, wiser, more patient, more peaceful for having met so many wonderful people through the course of this year. meeting them have taught me a great deal about life and living and i can only hope that i also could have been of similar impact in their lives.

to the many people who have etched their mark in this totem pole called jamie da vinci, i thank you from the bottom of my heart. i can only anticipate and feel excited with what the new year and the new dawn will bring.

here is to the strengthening of new found bonds, and to the refreshing of old ones.

God bless us all. really!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

with a faint smile

with a faint smile
i loose myself,
in my empty gazes
into the horizons of my reverie.
like throwing of stones
catapulting into the unseen
hoping, praying
that it would take my heart
to the vast distances
to the places it alone can go
to the places i cannot.

with a faint smile
i study the dancing of clouds
gliding across the azure sky.
figures of grace, they billow and bow
as the winds of my intentions
blow them over the seas
towards towers and hills
far away, where the sky kisses
the waters afar
afar, afar,
to where my wishes long to dwell.

with a faint smile
i finally close my tired eyes
in calm surrender
i let myself to fall away
away into the deepest crevasses
into the furthest heavens
far off into the eternal reaches,
to go where all love go
where all my wishes now dwell
where i can rest my weary soul
and sleep with a faint smile.

Monday, December 29, 2008

to vikki, my friend

you sat in the opposite end of the room, too far for me to see. even after you stood up in front to give your say and caught everyone's attention, i do not recall having any impression of you. yet when it was my turn to speak up front, you took notice of me. you singled me out and you remembered.

a week went by and you came up to talk to me. it was a technical question that i can no longer recall but it eventually led to a conversation. you introduced yourself and i reciprocated. it was only a polite gesture for me back then to give you my name and shake your hand. i never knew, nor would i ever would have known that that moment would be the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life, one with you playing an integral part.

years have now gone by and i cannot imagine how my life would have turned out without having your presence, physical or not, by my side. our souls are joined at the hip and even if there were moments i wished i could depart from you... i knew inside that the bond was deep and could not be easily severed. our bond has been divinely set, forged with life's ups and downs, with its laughter and tears, in its joy and its aches. a bond i have never shared with anyone else who was not of blood and kin. this bond is what gives me strength now when i feel lonely and wish that i could see you again, only to remember that you now live so far away. this bond is what gives me faith, that though our circumstances have now diverged, that we would still keep our friendship fresh and strong. this bond is what gives me hope, like how we met that one friday so many years ago, that our paths will definitely cross again. oceans and continents could only try to prevent this.

in the wake of the past days events, i can only sit quietly and reflect on the many memories i now have because of you. i focus on the smile they bring to my lips and the lift they offer to my weighed down spirit. though in our separation, the heart aches as it always had, i have learned to be comforted with knowing that you now have found for yourself a greater ally, a beautiful counterpart. to have been a constant witness to the blossoming of your love for each other is something to be compared to the best of fortunes and i can only feel honored to be have been made a part of it.

thank you for including me in your life.

thank you for being a part of mine.

thank you for singling me out.

thank you for being my friend.

to ozgur, as the priest said, you are doubly blessed. take good care of yourself and of vikki.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

HK in pictures

here are the pics kuya and i took. not really a lot of touristy shots since we technically aren't the touristy types anymore when it comes to HK. :)

there was an exhibition at times square of the HK artist, carrie chau. beautiful work, if i must say so myself. beautiful and breathtaking exhibition as well. the venue was the atrium of the mall, and as you can see from the lower leftmost pic, the scale of the exhibit is immense! ul also see from the same pic the crowd it drew. carrie chau is one of HK's most celebrated contemporary artists. i only wish we here could show the same support to our talents.

this is gino's gelato, located just across times square. kuya and i frequent this place because of their distinct and very unique gelato flavors such as : black sesame; sticky rice pudding; tofu; coconut pandan; red dates and loquat; tamarind; and strawberry and basil. despite the rather unusual flavors, they actually taste very good! i had the black sesame and rice pudding, as seen in the pic. the black sesame is a best seller since this is quite a delicacy among the chinese. the strawberry basil however has yet to win a following. i tried it and found it good as well. it's a hit among the caucasian as said by kenneth, the aussie educated hongkie that mans the shop. quite a chatty fellow if i must say so. kuya said i was flirting with him while i just thought i was being friendly :) it's not my fault if i can draw the weirdest information from ppl, hehehehe. (from our brief conversation, i learned he took up music in melbourne. he doesn't like HK. he has a japanese girl friend and apparently... likes "raping" her. that's the term he used! talk about over information!)

here is a collage of some of the different cantonese dishes we tried during our 6 day stay. they are the following from top to bottom, left to right:
king prawns on deep fried toast (ugh... sarap); steamed prawn dumplings (hakaw galore!); sticky rice with pork steamed in lotus leaf; steamed scallop dumplings (aren't they cute!); beef balls; steamed pork spare ribs with black beans; stir fried kale with garlic (the only thing healthy in this collage); deep fried japanese tofu; a bitten deep fried japanese tofu; deep fried king prawns with salted egg yolk (super deadly but simply orgasmic!!); roasted goose; and roasting selections of asado and lechon macao!

this is our last meal in HK. we had lunch at this resto that served shanghainese food. though not as rich as cantonese food, shanghainese cuisine also has its stars, such as their adobo and their steamed buns. we tried their ever famous xiao long pao (top, third from left), which is like mini siopaos wherein the meat packing inside contains a delicious sauce. we also had this decadent crab roe steamed bun (top left pic) that oozed out aligue the moment you bite into it. the adobo was super soft, cooked to almost gelatin texture. the meat was smooth and the the flavor, simply delicious! the crispy duck was also one to beat! flash fried to create the flaky crust, it was simply a joy to eat!

ugh.... ang BABOY BABOY NAMIN! definitely!!!!

HK in retrospect

it is finished.

6 days of senselessness and purposeful disregard for the plight of gazillions who are struggling to make ends meet have finally come to an end. 6 days of trekking kilometers of retails space; straining our backs, feet and ankles as we crisscrossed the territory looking for rare finds. 6 days of utter gluttony; sampling almost every hole in the wall food house we could get ourselves into even if it meant resorting to pointing (thank goodness for pictures) since our chinese was as bad as their english. never mind that the food is practically made of MSG stir-fried in oil. 6 days of hauling shopping bag after shopping bag; working out probably every single muscle in your body as you see yourself carrying bags in both hands and slung on both shoulders, straps slowly eating into your skin and you swearing that if you don't get back to your hotel soon to drop off the items, the bags will eventually saw off your fingers and dismember you of arms! 6 days... i sincerely doubt i would want to see another mall or have chinese food anytime soon. then again, having a warm bowl of noodles in the mall doesn't sound like that bad of an idea :) especially in such wonderfully cold weather.


HK this time around was truly an overwhelming experience, far different from when we visited last May. apart from the weather, i sincerely do not recall seeing this many people. the place was PACKED with people. kuya commented that these were not tourists but local hongkies that were congesting the streets. in manila, we have gridlocks caused by inconsiderate vehicles. there, things are at a stand-still because people have no more space to move around! it was THAT packed! claustrophobes beware, for here there is very limited breathing space.

space, like all things in HK, is a luxury. unless you belong to the filthy rich (which abounds in HK with the territory having more millionaires per square meter than anywhere else in the world) who could afford the multimillion homes somewhere up in the lesser populated areas, ordinary hongkies would be housed in densely packed flats that soar along its city streets. don't be fooled however of these humble abodes for despite their rather dilapidated exteriors, therein lies untold value that could make your head roll! i was just reading the papers the other day about a company willing to by an old condo building along causeway bay for HKD 1 BILLION, giving their residents about HKD 8000 per sqft. for their units. now imagine that. the residents however got greedy and wanted more, asking for HKD 13,000 like what other flats were being offered... the company eventually backed out. tsk, tsk. still though... 1 BILLION!!!?? where in the world can you find a building, an old one for that matter here that is worth that much!?

but as it seems, price often is a trivial issue for the rich. how else could you explain these patrons of these super high end brands who buy as if simply purchasing everyday items from the rack. prices as ridiculous as Php 118,000 for a wallet, Php 170, 000 for a duffel, and Php 700,000 for a ladies bag are not enough reasons to deter ppl here, more so, it even serves as a feature for these items to be more desirable. ODB?! taray nila noh? this, my kuya explains is the psychology behind exclusive brands. what you pay isn't really for the quality of the merchandise, though a part of it is about that. what you really are paying for is the "right" to own something that not everyone can own.

seems like it however that a lot of people in HK exercise this "right" as you can get easily lost in a sea of people who are dressed from hat to boot in labels! i wouldn't be surprised if even their underwear is branded! or the water they drink, or the toilet paper they use to wipe their butts with.... wouldn't it be funny if they use evian to flush too? makes me wonder though, doesn't it make these brands less exclusive now that so many people have them?

anyways, i definitely was not here to give an analysis on HK's economics. i was here to be on vacation. i came, i saw, i shopped! thank goodness everything was on SALE!!! :) in the end, apart from my chucks, i was able to get a pair of dress pants, a pair of jeans, a nice tote bag, a jacket, a shirt, a belt and a tie. nothing much but it was really all i needed as far as i was concerned.

shopping aside, my trip, courtesy of my gourmand of a kuya, also turned out to be a food expedition! i sincerely could not believe i ate so much in the 6 days we were there. i really wouldn't be that surprised if we spent more on food than on our shopping since we were practically eating all the time. either we were having dimsum in a swanky resto, or noodles at a cafeteria, or bola-bola from a street vendor, or fruit from the supermarket, or chocolate from ROYCE NAMA, we were always in a state of continuous chewing! goodbye diet! goodbye workout! goodbye six pack! there's no way i can be saved now.

hay.... kakapagod. now i know why people said 6 days was too long.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

day 3 and counting

after what seemed to have been a quiet and rather uneventful first two days in what is asia's shopping capital, kuya and i saw a sudden surge of shopping energy today. within probably a span of just a few hours, i was able to purchase almost all the items i needed to consider this trip a success.... i.e., my new chucks! :)

i am a simple guy and only need a few things in my "sparce" clothing arsenal to keep me satisfied. my ensemble is usually composed of ur basics (shirt and jeans) with only the addition of a couple of indulgences to give it some spunk. one such indulgence is getting myself nice, unique chuck taylors.

i have never really thought of myself to be a chuck person until i purchased my first pair and saw me wear it down till it broke... and i still wear it! i just love how versatile they are. i wear them to work, to site, to meet clients, even on certain "formal" occassions. that's how much i enjoy them. though i usually play safe and just get canvass neutrals, todays purchase saw me upping the ante!

hehehehe, i just bought myself a pair of copper metallics! and i simply ADORE them :)

anyways, HK is still the same busy, fast paced place i recall it to be. the chill obviosuly has no effect in its spirit and it uber strong buying power. HONGKIES shop like it is a basic duty to society! and i though divisoria in christmas was bad.... its worse here in HK! and we are not talking about hoards of people going on a frenzy over bargains (though there are ppl who do that... like yours truly), but people going gaga over designer goods... think falling in line and wait to be let in into stores like louis vuitton, gucci, prada, christian dior, and hermes where some shopper can spend as much as a MILLION in just 10 mins! kuya and i actually tried getting ourselves into one of those stores and the pandemonium inside was like something i have never seen before. like kids inside a candy store these people, only the candy would cost as much as a car!

i swear, money here feels like its not even earned when even the lowly sales clerk at the mall wears a panerai watch and carries an hermes HAC (both items costing approx. P300K++ each!)

ugh! wealth... how i wish i wasn't so affected by you! sigh... o well.... you won't ridicule me for being broke, would you gio? .... as in, gio-rdano?! :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

greetings from chinatown

ni men HAO!!! wo shen tzay tau (good morning all, i am currently at) the world's largest chinatown having a much needed vacation!!! 


nippy weather but not cold enough to bring out the winter gear. though out of peer pressure (kasi everyone is in winter gear here), i just might decide to wear a scarf... but really. a polar bear like moi wearing a scarf is simply stupid! i honestly wouldn't mind walking around in flip flops and short just to tell these people "you fashion victims!!!... o my, where did you get that jacket, i MUST get one as well!"

well, i won't be blogging that much kasi mahal internet dito and i don't earn in HK dollars so break muna :) if ever makasagip ng free wifi... well, you will surely get an update, like this one.

hay, i seriously am missing the blog and reading my fave blogs... guess i know what i will be doing when i get back to the islands. 

for now though, polar bear will be cruising the hawker streets!! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

in anticipation...

alone in my chambers,
i quietly listened.
my heart beating
myself breathing
the silence, whispering in my ear... delicious.

alone in my chambers,
i slowly stood.
the dreams of you lingered
like ghosts in a mist.
groaning, moaning,
incessantly calling... delicious.

alone in my chambers,
delirious now.
voices i am hearing.
visions i am seeing.
a fire in my belly
violently crying... delicious!

alone in my chambers,
in stillness i stood.
my heart racing,
my body drenched in sweat.
i walked to the window and
gazed into the night.
taking a deep breath
sucked in with my might.
it rolled on my tongue,
i enunciated it right.
whispered it right.
o, tormentor of souls!



isang araw nalang malalasap na rin kita...

delicious kitchen.... ikaw at ang kasumpa-sumpa mong.....

porkchop rice....

isang araw na lang.... magiging akin ka na MULI!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

me? oo! oo! me! me! me!!!

just to tickle myself to diffuse my rather serious start to this week.

lo and behold what poor proof reading can do. either that or an ingenious way of getting lots of attention.

hmmm, wouldn't this be a good christmas gift for some of the people i know?

now i don't know about you but i would CERTAINLY grab this in an instant! ahahaha! ay labet!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

to love and lost

"... i, i love you."

in my life so far, i have only uttered this powerful phrase only twice, and on both occasions, i was broken and in tears. both occasions involved me putting higher needs over my own. both occasions saw me endure a long, slow, torturous existence where love was freely given, even with knowledge that it may never be given back.


she was the sparkle to my day. her name meant "genuine beauty" and truly her presence was lovely, her person almost intoxicating. i longed to be around her for she truly did make me feel whole. i accompanied her to meals, i would stay with her in her commute home, i would befriend her friends, i would try to sit near her at class, just so that i could squeeze every single moment in every God-given day to be around her, even if by a bit more. then, her boy problems began. suitor after suitor came tormenting her. she confided in me as she felt safe with me. she leaned against me and i became her staff. i did not allow myself to waver from my role despite how much i wanted to pursue, i could not at the risk of adding more suffering. i knew it was not a suitor you needed but a friend and a reliable confidant, and that was who i eventually became.

i swallowed a very bitter pill for you yet you still decided to let me go and allowed yourself to be bullied into a relationship, taking the easy way out. you however found out too late that you got yourself into a deeper mess and came back running to me. i was there, unconditionally still to support you. you got back up, and you allowed yourself to fall again. three men pursued you, three men you accepted, three men failed you, three times i had to cushion for you the blow.... until i too could no longer handle it.

i told you over the phone that i loved you but will take my bow and leave the race for i could no longer see you suffer like so. you then said your friends have been saying that i might be falling as well but you chose not to address it. you instead ignored the gestures and kept silent. you kept silent like how you were quiet when i broke my heart in front of you so that you could no longer deal with me, so that i too could finally move on. i thought you were quiet because you were overwhelmed. little did i know it was because you had a secret you did not want to divulge to me.

i was betrayed for he was in my camp and you knew how i would react, yet you still allowed it to happen. you're married to him now and are expecting. i know you are now happy with your family. i wish you well and the best. i just wished that i knew better and that i never wasted breaking my heart over you. i probably could have given him more when i met him years later.


you are my sunshine, my only sunshine. you make me happy when skies are grey.
you'll never know, dear, how much i love you. please don't take my sunshine away.

but you always knew.... how much i loved you. then i also told you, over those dark, lonely, cold marble steps that last long night as i buried my tormented face in your soft supple neck. it seared in pain, but i could not do anything about it. the heart feels what it wants to feel, i was only there to serve as it's keeper and receive its blow. you sat there and caressed my head. you felt my anguish but also knew that you could do nothing. what you did though was enough, you stayed with me. you kept me close. you kept me safe in my most vulnerable state. in an almost desperate attempt to delude myself that i could take more of you with me, i asked if you could grant me a kiss. you stared into my eyes and in all tenderness said yes. as i leaned in to claim my prize, i faltered and aimed for your cheek instead. i could not do it. i could not betray and steal what is rightfully your wife's.

i sat with you there for what seemed to be an eternity. i wrapped myself around you and tried to remember everything about you that made me want you so badly. i do not want to forget, not you, not ever. but i eventually had to let go. i felt your soft velvety skin brush against mine for the last time. i felt your lovely scent dissipate. i felt the warmth of your body fade from my person.

as we drove off after dropping you at your house that night and as i watched you and your wife that one last time from the car's mirror, i allowed my heart to break again. i had found love and love had found me, but we had found each other too late. i instead had to learn a different kind of love and had to learn it the hard way.

you were my sunshine, my only sunshine. you made me happy when skies were grey.
you'll never know dear, how much i loved you. please don't take my sunshine away.

goodbye, sunshine. thank you for loving me back. i wish i could have had you.

a saturday to remember

beloved ling-ling, she did me well yesterday. her skills in planning and her excellent handling of my dilapidated revo had seen me finish all my errands before the sun even kissed the horizon. she was so efficient, i was able to squeeze in two more not previously planned tasks into my super tight schedule, and i still had time to spare for some shopping and a nap after.

the day started very early. kuya bolted into my room at 6am to pack for his flight to bacolod that morning. i usually dislike being disrupted like this as its puts my body out of sync, kuya unfortunately, is not really the type who can pack quietly. i eventually got up knowing all attempts to get more sleep was futile and started to prepare for my monstrous day.

saturday was a day for the books! i recall having had days like this before where i found myself crisscrossing the metro but today, by far, beats all those other days by LIGHT YEARS! i really thank God that the saturday traffic was in my favor since, apart from certain areas, my "flight" through my day's tasks went about pretty smoothly.

sparing everyone of my detailed itinerary, it simply went about like this.... though, i didn't feel all that simple.

1. drive from manila to drop off kuya at the airport.
2. drive from airport to retiro to pick up paints from boysen.
3. drive from retiro to eastwood to drop off paints and pick up glass tiles for cutting.
4. drive from eastwood to delmonte to glass supplier. draw out sketches for furniture while waiting for cutting.
5. drive to araneta to check on my construction site.
6. lunch at some japanese wannabee place since jolie-beh! was full!
7. drive to ortigas ave, to drop off drawings in client's house.
8. drive to eastwood to drop off cut glass tiles.
9. drive to meralco avenue to check on kuya's flat.
10. rest!

by 4pm, everything on my list was ticked and accomplished. ling-ling was brushing off stray hair off her linen blouse, trying to contain her satisfaction, looking as if asking "is that all? ppffft!"


i got an invite through text from mcvie a while back asking if i would like to attend his group's x'mas party. this was quite a surprise actually since i just met mcvie a week prior and here i was being invited already to a gathering. pardon me for thinking such but i never really considered my presence to serve any social impact, more so in someone else's barkada's party (unless if i was hired as the party clown, in which case, i'm sure they will never invite me again!). so to be asked if i would like to be amongst bloggers, some whose blogs i read on a daily basis was almost like getting a VIP backstage pass to a rock concert! i was so game, i was typing out my con-FEERMation as fast as my fat fingers could strike my minuscule phone's keypad.

the venue was at the linden suites in a room rented especially by one of the bloggers. after managing through the security points and the almost dizzying corridors of the hotel, i was finally able to get myself to the designated spot. i rang the door bell but no one was answering. the door was kept ajar though and basing from the sounds of madonna playing inside, i knew, at least that i was at the right place. soon enough, a couple more of the guests arrived and i followed them in.

this is my first blogger get-together and i certainly have to say, i had a blast! i have always enjoyed parties wherein the mood is light with no pretenses. everyone is just there to meet new people, see old faces, share good food and good laughs and just HANG! despite being a stranger to all of them, i felt warmly welcomed and it did not take me long to let myself relax and enjoy the evening as well (natas'ya was working it!) i soon found myself getting into conversations, introducing myself to people and asking about them, making side comments and basically, feeling familiar... without, hopefully, over stepping my boundaries in the process.

i got to meet people from different backgrounds and the authors of a lot of the blogs i read (and will now read). the experience of seeing the persons behind these sites was almost as close as being star struck! there were moments where i found myself saying "so you're (name of author) of (name of blog), OMG! i'm such a fan!" i actually had to tell mcvie at one point that i did not feel exceptionally worthy to be surrounded by authors of such caliber in the blogsphere. my wee little ranting vestibule of an online journal was a fart in the wind compared to the "legends". my brief spurt of humility was however quickly brushed aside as nonsense, a gesture that i truly appreciated, it having come from these blogging demigods!

as it got later in the night, the party started to wind down as well. we eventually found ourselves saying goodbye to new found friends, hoping that we would see (and should see) each other another time. i stayed behind until morning since i had no place to crash. me and those who were still there found ourselves deep in more stories from topics that ranged from politics to showbiz to ghosts to fitness. anything and everything that would catch out fancy, really.

the sun was staring to rise and i too had to leave since i had church in a few hours. i bid farewell to those who so warmly accommodated me and took me into their fold and thanked them for a great night. it definitely was a perfect way to end my day.

to all the people i met again! super super super thanks!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

the rise of ling-ling, the terrible

"so what is it that you need? crying really won't do you any good. stuff like this would always happen and until you learn from it, it will keep coming back to you, stronger than the last."

"you're such a weakling. simply pathetic."

"the reason why you keep getting yourself into situations like this is you don't know how to say no. now you're stuck in a bind and you want me to sort it out for you? ai-yah.... get out of the way."

"sorry. i don't feel sorry for you at all."

"you seriously want to buy THAT to make you feel better? really? i don't know about you but that would make me feel ever worse."

"you fall too easily. you really never learn, do you? these people are just in it for the support you freely give. i tell you, you will just find yourself later dried up as a prune and forgotten."

"this is a dog-eats-dog world we live in. if you cannot handle it, you're as good as nothing."

"you let her loose again! look at what she's doing! she's going to ruin you!"

"never surrender. to anyone. ever."

"you really want to mess around with me!? you sure about that?"

"it's better to be alone. no one will mind you, no one can hurt you. you can never make mistakes."

"why experiment? what's the point? aren't you supposed to be super smart? figure it out."

"they're all out to get you. never let your guard down, and don't even bother asking for that prancing fairy's advice!"

"entrusting people with responsibility is like giving a knife to a baby. you are just opening yourself to a LOT of trouble."

"i am an island. buzz off!"

"you haven't fully grasped the potential risks of this decision yet! wait, let me compute, give me a hundred years and i might be done by then. why are you laughing?"

"emotions is a sign of weakness. logic is everything."

"never. never again."


ling-ling is my cerberus of hades. i love her to bits, especially during times of dire circumstances. i just wish she could learn how to let her hair down once in a while. life need not always be so serious....

baywalk, taken on a laid back sunday afternoon drive to makati.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


met up with my dear friend, rich, at trinoma this afternoon. TRINOMA, the mall that is fastly becoming the thorn in my flesh.

it was nice seeing him after all this time. having worked closely with him for so many months on my first project, it was almost a ritual to see him. however, as my project finished and a new one began (not involving him, this time), i haven't had as much time now to bump into him, much more, spend time and just hang. actually, even our meeting over lunch today was pretty short as i had a call that i was needed in libis right away and he had stuff to finish to as well. such are the travails of adult life i guess...

today was again one of those days wherein i find myself asking, why do i even bother? while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and juggling 1001 things to do in my already frazzled head, i had to force myself to quiet down a bit since i almost found myself screaming inside my car. yes people, stress has gotten to me again.

if feels like warm blood running through your veins. it tingles in my fingers, and it fills my head with air. my chest feels inflated and my heart feels suffocated. your brain goes numb and your senses becomes heightened. this is me when wound tight as a spring. rich was saying that i look haggard. i told him i was ready to snap. i couldn't really go into detail with him since doing so would just be RANTING and i have promised myself that i would quell complaining and just learn how to manage. apparently, RANTING is not managing as clearly expressed by my kuya once when he told me point blankly during one of my murmur sessions, "if you can't do anything about it, don't complain." of course, i did not understand the wisdom in what he said at that time since i was too busy feeling pissed. i do now though, hence this entry is not going anywhere near there.

ugh.... i just have to shake this off. i really, REALLY just want to wake up and feel ready to seize the day and not feel negative or resentful. i am starting to realize that stress comes with life. everyday is really a fighting day and we have to be always prepared. a day without fighting means you didn't really live life that day. even waking up is a fight. though stress comes, it really need not rule your life. everyone gets stressed so there really is no need to feel extra special just because you feel like the world was suddenly dropped on your shoulders. so your stressed, deal with it!

right now i'm trying to slowly let things go... give up the obsession of having control over everything and just let things be. shit happens as they say. the sooner i relax, the sooner i will be able to recharge and be ready again for another day.

sigh, well, looking at the bright side, at least i'm not feeling as guilty now of my upcoming trip next week. Lord only knows how i will need it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

dexter, the empath

i still remember it clearly.

i was having my despidida with my friends in bur dubai at this small coffee shop behind the mall. being the loud bunch that we always are, it didn't take that long for the small shop to start echoing with our noise. in the middle of our bantering, i asked one of my friends, prof, whom i have always known to be "special" to give me a reading.

PROF was my rendering teacher back in design school. like a lot of my teachers back then, she was pretty cool and very friendly. her pleasant demeanor as well as her quirky charm definitely aided in her instruction as she was always mesmerizing during class. it did not take long that we (my friends and i) would eventually befriend her. her stint as our teacher however did not last long as she got an offer to work abroad during mid sem. it was sad to see her go but we all understood her reasons. we tried to stay in touch but things just eventually faded as years went by though we keep in contact through friendster.

imagine my surprise when one day i got a message from her that of all places we would cross paths again, it would be in the desert!

i learned of prof's talents in the psychic arts from kay, my gurlfriend. prof had been lately practicing pranic healing and has become quite good at it. though i can't really say that i am a fan of the occult, i can say that i was curious of it since i am full aware that we also move in a supernatural realm. her being very accessible only made my curiosity almost too strong to handle. i didn't really want to ask her to exhibit her skills since i know that by her doing so, it depletes her strengths immensely (she is learning how to control that now, as well), but i took my chances when another friend asked her first if she could show us some of her "tricks".

prof started by rubbing her hands together. she said it energizes her chakra so to make her more sensitive. she then started to palpate the air around me, trying to get an idea of my aural field. now... i was pretty skeptical actually with all of this mumbo-jumbo so i didn't really pay attention to her as she waved her hands in the air around me. i instead was talking to the friend beside me about some topic i can no longer remember, that was, until i felt a strong distinct nudge on my back. i turned to see who it was or what it was that nudged me, but there was no one there, only prof sitting across the table, still waving her hand, her face looking particularly strained.

"jamie! yung aura mo.... ang lakas!" her hands scooped the air around me, the nudge coming from HER DIRECTION!

"prof..... you're PUSHING ME!!!!" i said in excitement. "e ang lakas e, tingnan mo 'to" she pushed the empty space again, this time from another direction and true enough, the nudging shifted. basing on her reading, i had a vast aural field, something that she attributed to empaths, people who are sensitive to their environments. she then proceeded to interview me if i really were such.

do you feel drained for no apparent reason when you are surrounded by other people? yes. as i have mentioned before, i am a susceptible victim of emotional vampires. shove me with a straw already and get it over with!

do you know what something really means? reading between the lines? yes, very recently, since the stresses at work had reached a tipping point and people have become paranoid as well as who is pro-company and those who are anti (sounds soooo local politics), i have learned to read people and also the cryptic messages that they would address to me. it has become an art. i also found to have a sense on non verbal communication as well. gestures speak louder than words sometimes.

do you feel compelled to help anyone in pain, even those who have hurt you? do i EVER!!? mother Theresa, if she was still alive, would have a run for her money! (if she had any, that is, er, was) i call it the superman syndrome. off to save the world as if i have atlas-like powers to bear the globe's burdens on my shoulders. sadly, all my attempts just leave me defeated and fatigued.... but that has never really stopped me, obviously.

do people suddenly open up to you? all i need is a couch and i am by default, every one's shrink. when asked, people say that i feel non-threatening and non-judgemental. that i exude an air of comfort and safety, enough for them to divulge secrets not even their closest friends or love ones know. in the past few years of me meeting these people, i have become a repository of wishes, skeletons and everything else in between. thank goodness i never get to remember who told them to me, only their stories! :)

can i heal? i was a physical therapist. it was my JOB!!!

by the end of the conversation, prof confirmed that i was indeed a genuine empath. actually, i had already known from long ago that i had a strange ability. it explained why i don't like being in crowds, why i detest needy people, why i had to learn how to have unlimited patience, why i had to keep myself on the moral high ground, why i would become so gravely negative most of the time. it also explained why mothers and grandmothers love me, why old people are drawn to me, why young gay twinks message me all of a sudden, why mortal enemies never stay that way with me for long.

prof gave me the proper term that day. empath. i on the other hand had given it a name long before, he was dexter, the right.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

heeding the call

it always astounds me how were are truly all connected in some cosmic manner. though my rather poor memory causes me to forget many of these occurrences, life as it seems, has its way of reminding me time and time again.

i found myself driving to a friend's house last night. i just got back from my rounds at work (and when i say "rounds", i mean crisscrossing the metro like a taxi driver on E!) and decided to take the invitation of a relative to join their bible study group. i thought to myself, why not? she took the effort to ask me if i would like to come, despite us really not being that close, so might as well take the offer. i didn't really feel i was simply just indulging her since, as i said, we weren't really that close. it however felt right that i went.

usually, whenever i get invitations like this from people, even from close friends from church, the voices in my head would go on an uproar. ling-ling would frantically go through her Rolodex of excuses of why i can't attend; natas'ya would want to simply say she has better things to do... like brush her hair while dexter tries with all his might to temper natas'ya's tactless tongue. this would be typical of me. though i have nothing against joining their groups, i somehow can't make myself feel comfortable being this intimate with people, especially with my situation and my beliefs of living my life. what often would come out of my mouth would be a tried and tested universal response of saying "no" without sounding too disinterested and offensive.... "let me see, i might be busy during that time."

last night however, i found myself surprisingly subservient to my relative's invite. i even went on further of asking for the complete address and what time they would be meeting. all very a-typical of me. the fluidity of my response coupled with my efforts of obtaining further information left the trinity in my brain with mouths agape :) dexter was found later beaming.

i got to the designated house in sta. mesa around 830pm, late and a bit harassed due to the awful traffic brought by living in downtown. i quietly sat myself at the back and allowed myself to be told what to do, my usual manner whenever i find myself in unfamiliar territory. by 915, the congregation of about 30 subdivided into smaller groups to pursue their bible reading. tonight was the last 2 chapters of 1 timothy. we read the verses and went on to share our feelings on the material. as i quietly listened to what the people in my group were saying, i could not help but feel at ease and even, at peace. very strange since this is the time i usually get most anxious for fear of being made to talk. i obviously don't like being put on the spot. i found myself quiet throughout but internally digesting every single morsel the people in my group were shelling out. in the end, they asked if i wanted to say anything.

i told them how profound it feels to be in their midst that night. i told them that lately, my environment feels as if its been squeezing me to the point, i feel suffocated and distressed. yet despite this, i find myself experiencing moments where things suddenly would relax, then something good would come my way, as if experiencing birth contractions with pulses of intense suffering with pauses of relief. i then told them about my call from dubai last sunday and told them the history of how the church started there. i eventually ended with how things are all connected, and that we should never belittle the role a link plays in a chain.

the relative who invited me, coincidentally, was in the same group as i (we were randomly arranged) and she commented after i finished. she told me that for three weeks now, she had the uncanny burden of asking me to join. it was rather strange since she too felt we were not really close, yet day after day, my name would not leave her. so she asked me eventually, and i came.

after the meeting, she asked me if i would like to join them again next week. i said i would. i was then given the new place where they would be meeting (they change week after week as people volunteer their homes) and found out that next week's venue was beside the massage/spa parlor i had planned of visiting on one of my " full moon" days.

God exercising His sense of humor again....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

si nats, ling at si dex!

i have had this lingering thought in my head for the longest time. i know it will turn out to be an interesting read in the end, it's just that i have been having difficulty putting the thought together. the idea first came to mind while i was writing about my experiences in dubai, all of that walking down memory lane resurrecting issues i have long thought forgotten. such is always the case i guess when dust is unsettled as we tread on old paths again.

dubai taught me a lot about myself. through trials and hardships, i had to learn how to endure and fight for my principles. i eventually became more fortified because of it, but not after i experienced some kind of psychic-mitosis wherein my manners of thinking eventually became separate and distinct. i wouldn't want to think that i am now having tell-tale signs of multiple personality disorder, just that in handling my life back then, in true JAMIE-fashion, my weirdness just had to take center stage.

didi, my senior, was the first person to experienced my multifaceted-ness. she was the first person who got introduced to natas'ya, my vivacious, russian-lebanese, french maid vixen. christened anastasiya maysoon stanislova el-khoury, natas'ya would be my senior's favorite personality for very obvious reasons. she was the more flamboyant, bubbly, chatty, gregarious, bitchy, flirtatious me. unrepressed, unapologetic and free-spirited, natas'ya was a great companion on a dull, gloomy day. she's the shopping guru, the fashion savant and the gym bunny, basically your over all perfect gurl-friend. natas'ya however, also represents the more emotional side of my psyche. impulsive and very moody, she is not the best to count on during stressful situations. she's also shallow and ridiculously vain, aggravating me often especially since i would think i am neither of the two. but despite all this, she is the person i turn to for solace during a hard day's work. her innate frivolousness and happy air lightens even my most defeated of moods and help reinforce the optimism that tomorrow is another day and things will be better.

there was however a time when natas'ya disappeared, much to my senior's dismay. i remember she would plop herself at the chair beside me and ask, "jamieeeeee, where's natas'yaaaaa? i want to bitch!!!!". but natas'ya was no where to be found.

"i think ling-ling finally had enough of her. she's been driving her insane these past couple of months with her noise and her incessant whining. ling-ling finally snapped! locked her inside the closet. ling-ling is in control now."

"who the F*** is ling-ling!?" didi asked, agitated and in desperate need of her natas'ya fix.

ling-ling is another facet i later discovered. she is my chinese, middle-aged (or so she claims) and basing on her demeanor, perennially menopausal accountant. she represents the grave, serious, calculating, apathetic, and logical me. with very "vulcan" features, she wears a pale and sharp face, slits-for eyes peeping through her hazy spectacles held up by her narrow nose. her razor thin lips taper into tight corners, the left, punctuated by a hairy mole. her dull ashen hair is bound taut into a neat bun, with careful attention that no stray strand would disturb her face, else they interfere with her precious work. almost a product of intense communist reprogramming, ling-ling is always seen wearing a washed out grey linen, button down blouse, dark beige linen pants, and her black cotton flats. you would always find her sitting behind her worn-down mahogany stained, cedar-table, on a similarly finished stool that definitely have seen better days. she sits there day in and day out, clicking away feverishly on her abacus as if computing for the answer to life's mystery. this is ling-ling. severe, obsessive compulsive, and very predictable. she is also natas'ya's antithesis and mortal nemesis. though ling-ling's strengths lie on handling tough situations in near hellish conditions, her rise to control does not always guarantee success. her compulsions to consider all possible options and to do things ONLY in a certain way have been the cause of procrastination and many delays. her lack of emotions, though are very objective, have also led to harsh rule of almost tyrannical degree. she lives an unrealistic, stressful and lonely life, despite having such a sweet sounding name. it is however no coincidence that her name literally means "zero spirit".

dexter is the last to join the troupe of waring females who constantly wracked my subconscious. i guess he came about since i really needed a respite from the two heckling hens who i find always in a head butting match.

dexter is the child. smart, conscientious and idealistic, he personifies the part of me that my mom raised, minus the influences of the world. dexter is unlimitedly kind, tender, giving, nurturing and trusting. he is selfless and always conscious of other people's needs. he is the empath. virtuous, dexter also hold the moral compass and steers me towards everything good, nice and Godly. dexter, however, is also naive and often taken advantage of. years of being abused have led him to become more cynical (thanks to ling-ling's guidance) and more reclusive, in fear of being hurt again. he now explores his world through observation and using his smarts, create theories on how the world works, yet never bold enough to actually test and experiment their validity. being also the child and always being put under pressure by his two more seasoned, more opinionated counterparts, dexter has been wise to keep his views to himself in fear of being ridiculed. he then just aligns himself with whoever is more dominant and on certain occasions where his input is asked, inject his influence onto the person in control. dexter thereby is to be credited in the eventual softening of ling-ling's hard edges, and the tempering of natas'ya's emotinal flare-ups. in the end, dexter finds contentment is his small contributions. though it may be a while before he will find himself grown to be on the driver's seat, he knows that little by little, his presence will soon have as much authority as the other two.


the three are now revealed. the challenge now is to have them all cooperate once in a while. it certainly would do me a lot of help in managing life as i won't have to have three different voices trying top each other up in getting my attention. seriously... ang INGAY INGAY NILA!!! hahahahaha!

di pa ba ako talagang baliwwww???

Thursday, December 4, 2008

MMK... the movie in my mind, my dubai (final)

my last days at my company were certainly bitter-sweet. though i relished the fact that i would now be free from the anguish of suffering a slow professional death, it however saddened me greatly that i would leave so many people behind in the process, people who now occupied a very special place in my heart. despite the many who resigned, our company was quick to fill in the many vacancies, and then some. by the time i left, we had new blood who came from jordan, syria, india, yemen, south africa and manila as well. hopefully they would fare better than i.

on my final day at work, my office threw a dinner in my honor. a pinay cook was called to cater us pinoy food, something through the months, even the non-pinoys grew to love and long for. my senior, didi, also got me a cake from a local bakery, the one she knew i always lust after, especially when i have a bad day. before she got me to slice the cake, she asked that i give a few parting words. i recall saying that i was thankful. thankful for all the support, the love and the experience that they had given me. i told them that though dubai was rough, that work was harrowing, and life was lonely, having them all around and seeing them day in and day out somehow made all these more manageable. it was an honor to have been surrounded by such gifted people and that the memories i had with them, i will cherish forever. hearing myself utter these words of goodbye made me realize how much i loved my new family and as i stood in front of my delicious cake.... i cried (in true drama queen fashion).


emotions at my flat too were proving to be difficult to handle. the three by three box that i have called my home all these months was my sanctuary. here i escaped from the mess of the outside to replenish my stores in peace. this is where i cooked to relax, where i blogged (thanks to some neighbors unrestricted wifi) to document my day, where i shared my life with my two best friends, my girls.... my lovely, lovely girls.

kay and jane. dubai tested them as well. though they had their share of giving me stress and hurt, i greatly relied on their friendship to survive. the ties we developed, the experiences we shared during those days have seen a solidifying of bonds that neither land nor sea can now limit. their company was a source of strength and the moments we would have together, a source of joy. mcdonald's at 3am, long walks in the park, grocery shopping, long drives, sleep overs in JBR, sitting quietly on the beach while staring out into the arabian sea, these were only some of countless other more instances of dubai with my girls that i turn to whenever i feel down. they make me smile, still efficacious even after so long.

the day of my departure almost came at an instant. in the days leading to it, i saw myself in a mad rush to pack in everything i needed to do before i leave. i had to settle accounts, buy gifts, endorse my work, say my proper farewells. i could not wait to leave for home yet it left me with much regret that i did not have more time to spend with the people i loved and cared for. even though i spent almost everyday i could in their company, it still did not feel enough. i felt that it still could not meet up to what i wanted to tell them, of how much i appreciated all that they have given me, of how much i wanted to give back to them. it was however, time.

on november 17, i flew out of the desert and went back home to the islands from which i came, ending a chapter in my life.


dubai is a city-state set in the cusp of the arabian peninsula. it boasts itself as the world's fastest growing city, its fast paced development, envied by many. yet underneath all of this vision of prosperity lies the real dubai for the city is not the buildings or the beaches or the malls. the city is the people who built it. the kings, the bosses, the seniors, the subordinates, the workers. their lives, their stories is what dubai is built on. its human resource is the dynamo that generates the dream as well as the materials that built dubai to what it is today. yet, this is not what the world sees and this is not what dubai projects itself as, as well. for the world (only) sees the buildings and the beaches and the malls, leaving the real dubai hidden, ignored, abused, forgotten.

but i will not be hidden. neither will i choose to forget or be forgotten.

in closing, i went back to a post i wrote on my birthday, my last in the desert city when i found myself reflecting on the year that was. it capsulized a great portion of what i took with me when i left, and what i take with me still as i move on with my life, dubai forever etched in my memory.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

the beginning

today is my birthday and i took a day's off from work just to extend my weekend. it was supposed to be for me to reassess my life. you know, consider how i lived my life this past year and what i should do starting today. well, it's 5pm right now and i really haven't given myself time to think about all of these things. either this is the melodramatic me talking again or im realizing that im just a floater.

anyway, i still have time before this day comes to an end and might as well grab the opportunity to do what i was supposed to do. fortunately for me, i can blog about this, that way, i have proof i actually did what i was set to do. those of you who are tired of hearing my incessant psycho-babble and what-nots, be forewarned, this is not the entry for you.

the year has been quite interesting to say the least. i am celebrating my second birthday in a foreign country with laws and culture that is totally different from my own. things have been rough, but eventually presented themselves to be quite manageable. i made friends and have lost some as well. i gained the respect of some and have fallen out of ppls contact lists as well. but such is life i guess, wherever you may be.

dubai has been hard but then again, i think it needed to be. i would not think i lived a pampered life, though i can say that i was sheltered. living in dubai for the past year has made me witness the harshness of what the world can offer, all the ugliness one can experience, from poverty, to racism. it however also made me exercise patience, and humility, and compassion. dubai is not only rich of material wealth, but it also is rich of stories. stories of ppls endurance, of love, of honor, pain and loss. more apparent and accessible than when i was back home. maybe because i am now part of the same pool of people where these stories of humanity are made.

dubai taught me courage. courage to stand up and take on responsibility. not to be afraid of mistakes and to share ones opinion. it taught me of the value of teamwork and that one man cannot be as good as two. it taught me that in desperate situations, that i can be strong and that i also have friends in whom i can rely on. i learned that despite our differences, it should never be a hindrance for us to be friends. i have become friends with indians, pakistanis, egyptians, jordanians, palestinians, emiratis, south africans, british, australians and turks. quite a feat i must say since i rarely talk to foreigners.

i am stronger after a year, wiser to certain degree. fatter to my dismay but that can be easily remedied. i have learned so much and have now developed an appetite of fighting mediocrity. why settle for being a so-so when theres a potential to be something more. if it seems unachievable, at least have a blast trying.

i have posted now 50 hings i would like to do before i meet my creator. how much time i have left is up to the Lord. how much of that i would actually do is up to me and by golly, im gonna try my best to do all of them,

happy birthday to me. the Lord has been merciful and has showered me with grace for my timely help. despite all the crap that i had gone through, i was never abandoned and have become stronger because of it all. now i start again, with new found faith, with new found hope of what the future has in store for me. i shall turn my sail to catch the divine wind and have the Lord lead me on.

Lord, thank you for all that you have done. Thank you for Your faithfulness and Your patience.

i now wonder where im off to next.
posted by jamie da vinci!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

intermission muna!

the results are out from the marathon i joined last november 22!

all that early morning practice and just the rush of running with the pack was definitely worth it. thanks for those people who inspired me to push my limits and to those who were kind enough to leave me tips in improving my technique! :)

and to mr. bediones.... i certainly would not have finished this quickly if it weren't for the knowledge of you running behind me :)

tsk, tsk. sabi ni kuya trip, the water bottle is a trap, and here you are carrying TWO!!!

marathon ulit!!!!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

MMK... the movie in my mind, my dubai (part 6)

kay hurried to her desk, sat down and stared blankly into the wall. there was something amiss in the air that morning and her unusual entry into the design department just made things feel even more unsettling. a few moments later, she turned towards me. she had that burdened, conflicted look in her face, like the expression one would have when you have witnessed something and you don't know whether or not you should tell. she was hesitant, her breathing paced, her body tensed. we stared at each other, after which, she spoke.

"jame... i have to tell you something." her opening statement.

"what is it kay? what happened?" my calm reply.

"umm, GM? he just fired someone TL (our indian marketing head) a few minutes ago. she was told to leave the building immediately and things got messy! i was caught in the crossfire!" her juicy disclosure.

"NO WAAAAY!!!!!!". my flabbergasted reaction.

in a very heated argument that involved lots of demands, derogatory name calling and threats to be dragged out of the building by security, TL, was disgracefully dismissed by our fuming GM. the details of the incident i believe are no longer important. the things that transpired after though, because of this incident, i deem more significant since they are laden with many lessons, the greatest one of them all.... never underestimate a lady who wears a tweed suit and has curry for dessert!

later that afternoon, rather expectedly (news travels fast in the office since we were all in just one room), an emergency meeting was called by GM. he had us sit down and calmly explained his case. he told us that we must have now known that TL is "no longer a member of the team", that she has been terminated due to low productivity, yada, yada, yada. he expressed how diplomatic he was in handling her dismissal (contrary to my first-hand accounts, of which i definitely believe more than his sanctimonious monologue), yet was forced take rougher measures since TL gave a fight (who wouldn't?). he then jested in tagalog about TL and how she reeked of spices, "ang baho kasi nya, palibhasa di ata naliligo!", he said. that statement had pushed GM's image beyond disgust for me, he was now bedfellows with pond scum and that icky grime you gather between your toes after a long day of walking wearing open toe sandals on really dusty ground. TL, however did have the last laugh. GM continued. he said that a complaint was escalated to the vice president by TL and that he was questioned for his decision. GM never liked his authority being challenged (me and 2 other colleagues were considered for termination once for raising an argument on his rather stupid policy during an open forum). feeling disrespected by the VICE PRESIDENT of the company, he resigned, effective immediately!

o the drama... please don't stop the drama! the little men who live in my head were practically doing somersaults (basta na) from his bomb he dropped on us. i have been made so calloused by my moments with GM that i accidentally gave out a sarcastic snort, a gesture he immediately caught. he couldn't react to it however since the members of the staff were already showering him with pleas, imploring him to change his mind. this was the ultimate ego trip i assure you, his grin said it all. but he remained adamant. he "cannot take it anymore!" he said he could not handle the stress, nor could he handle how the bosses were undermining him any longer. he then played the sympathy card by saying all the work he has been doing has taken a toll on his health and family. with the entire company now playing to his tune and having his memory immortalized as the martyred hero in our impressionable minds, he passed the baton to my senior and left us, some in tears, some in shock, some just playing along so as not to stand out.

the days following GM's exit were very tensed days indeed since our arab bosses now became regular fixtures in the office. they "descended" from their lofty abodes up in our office building and loom over us, sending workplace anxiety levels through the roof. despite being a total ass, GM was still one of us and it gave us still a sense of comfort that he could sympathize with his fellow "expats". our arab lords on the other hand were different. they were gods and we, dispensable mortals, always ready to be replaced by more desperate mortals who are more than willing to do our work... for a fraction of the salary (and our salaries weren't even that high). pressure was mounting and things were not looking good, not at all. since the company was the grand scheme of our GM and the dream that is to be our success, his creation, his absence definitely had an effect on our already shaky operations. didi unfortunately inherited the titanic task of managing a headless chicken that was going bezerk and it ultimately drained her dry.

GM visited a couple of weeks after he resigned, apparently to discuss terms with the arab bosses. probably still relishing his influence over them, he boasted of maybe taking back the position he so eagerly relinquished, and thus, left us in our current dismal state. he said his resignation was revoked and so, he will talk with the arabs to negotiate. seems like the curse of TL was still in effect for GM very soon learned greatest lesson number two, never underestimate the arabs, especially those who drive rolls royce phantoms and lamborghinis and go to italy to buy their yachts and have swiss bank accounts whose interests alone is enough to pay the salary of their company of 4000 strong, for that money apparently, also pays for their education in harvard business school. GM's apparent negotiation meeting was actually a "thank you for your service but we found out that you were a maniacal a-hole who took advantage of our trust and ignorance, so dream on if you think we still need you here (belat!)" meeting. GM left with his strained smile and his broken pride dragging behind him.... TL was probably laughing somewhere in dubai.

being now the captain, didi became privy to many details about the company that used to be for GM's eyes only. being didi's gurl-friend and trusty shoulder-to-cry-on/ shopping buddy/ buffet buddy/ personal jester extraordinaire, i eventually too became aware of many secrets. the company was in worse shape than we thought. previous suggested policies during meetings were never considered, despite their brilliance; unqualified people were constantly being hired for redundant positions; non-hiring of people for required positions and disproportionate staffing hierarchy; weak policies and poorly enforced procedures; and unrealistic expectations have cost us dearly and our books showed it. GM's megalomania had seen that he kept with his ideal delusion and his power had kept him in full control of the course we were in. now that he was out of the picture, the illusion that we were all riding on started to fizzle and fade. realizing the inevitable, people from the company started resigning one after the other.

honoring our friendship with didi, me and a few stayed on for "the ride", despite the ensuing turbulence. we tried to save the ship but the powers that be simply would not to see things our way. considering we were already in the red, our bosses still decided to open 2 more branches, hire more people at higher salaries (higher than ours, even if most of them cannot draw, more so, design to save their lives) and appoint their inexperienced 18 year old brother to be deputy CEO of the firm. in the end, and no surprise, we found ourselves in even deeper "shit". at this point, even the most idealistic looses hope and even loyalties reach their limits. despite promises of better working conditions, better pay and a promotion, i tendered in my resignation 16 months after i first stepped onto desert sand. i have had enough of this company and believed i have had already enough life lessons in me to last me another lifetime. it was time to move on, time to leave. didi was obviously saddened but understood my concerns and supported my decision. she stayed on with the company for half a year more after my last day, and eventually resigned as well. didi was the last of the pioneer staff that saw the days of calm. from the 8 ppl in my batch who came in from manila, only 1 remains.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

MMK... the movie in my mind, my dubai (part 5)

Job was a good man greatly blessed by Jehovah. he was healthy, rich, had many children and a good wife. then one day, all of this was taken away. his body was stricken with boils, his wealth vanished, his family perished and his loving wife told him to "curse your God and die!" Job remained steadfast however, knowing that surely, Jehovah is merciful. his unwavering faith and his strong will was eventually rewarded. his health was restored and his riches doubled. he had more children, more beautiful than before and lived 140 more years to see the fourth generation of his family. this was Job... i was not Job. God nevertheless was still merciful.

the series of events that have transpired had caused me to reach the end of my tether. i was exhausted and was in deep depression. i felt abandoned, betrayed, and dejected. i was thankful of my friends for they tried hard to lift my spirits but i was too defeated to be roused, as proven when i found myself bawling my eyes out over a plate of my great friend's prided corned beef (i miss it everyday, kay. no one makes it like you do.) i was greatly homesick and longed desperately for my family. i realized that the walls i had built for myself to shield me from the emotions of being away from my loved ones had finally collapsed. my spirit depleted and weakened, i eventually caved in.

funny how circumstances are related, to the extent that you really cannot deny a divine operation working behind it all. a last ditch effort of me in finding strength saw me emailing a friend back home. i told him how much i missed the support of family and friends. he then emailed me back and referred me to a christian website, suggesting that maybe i could find some encouragement from the articles there. upon viewing the website, a sense of familiarity came over me, a feeling i greatly welcomed. i later found out that the site was built by my cousin in Toronto, hence pictures of my family were too posted there. i was so thankful for the break it gave me that i left a comment in the site's guest book, it's first comment. that post turned out to be the catalyst of a remarkable hunt for people that involved the coordination of six churches from six countries around the world.

my cyber-presence in dubai previously involved checking my emails, blogging and searching design websites for what's trendy and new. the christian site was the newest addition to the roster and also quickly became my most visited. i checked it regularly for updates as well as new posts on the guest book, for it seems, more and more people were logging in. i was reading of posts from india, venezuela, columbia, france, ukraine, brazil, germany, russia, philippines, dubai.... DUBAI!??? i quickly checked it again. true enough, a fellow christian like myself was in dubai, and she was looking for fellow christians as well (like me). i took her name and quickly emailed my friend back home and asked him to look her up. contact info was given and a few days later, i met up with mae.

that first meeting with mae became the beginning of our christian fellowship in the desert. through God's grace and our persistence, we were able to find more and more people who were like us, searching. being an islamic state, practicing one's faith publicly other than islam, though is not sanctioned, is still highly discouraged in dubai. our initial meetings (we were already 4 by then) involved sitting by the curb on the sidewalk and pretending to chat with one another, but were in reality already praying out loud with our eyes open. none of us had a place that we could congregate in so doing it out in the street was the only resort we could manage. it was risky but we really didn't mind. for us, this weekly gathering was an addicting escape from the life and the toll living in dubai took from us.

as days went by, our humble group saw the blessings of what stubborn people "pestering" God can do. the ripples caused by that post on the website brought us to find more people from various places of various nationalities. in the end, our number blossomed to almost 30 in less than a few months comprising of pinoys, taiwanese, indians, sri lankans, malaysians, and singaporeans. we also were able to find a place to meet, at a flat owned by an indian-kiwi who does business in dubai. stable now, we would find ourselves receiving visiting christians from australia, manila, oman, saudi arabia and new zealand, all of which have heard of our remarkable story and wish to be witnesses to it. it has been more than a year since i left my christian family in the desert. since that time, they have increased in number again. some of my friends have found love in the church and have married as well. they contact me often to update me on their status and all news from them always makes me smile. in december of this year, they will be the host of a grand conference involving christians all over the gulf states. christians from saudi arabia, oman, qatar, bahrain and kuwait, all coming together to testify what God has done.

for the first time since i set foot in this country, i finally felt some form of balance in my life. despite all the turmoil happening at work and all the adjusting i was doing, i at least have a place where i could bask myself in the positive energy God and fellow christians provided, at last, my hope was being restored, and it did not come at a better time.

my incident with GM had ruined him in my eyes. though i have always had a feeling that he was an arrogant man, i had thought to myself that he had every right to be proud considering what he has gone through and what he has achieved. he was never shy to tell us his story and how he had climbed up the social/corporate ladder to be where he is, the right-hand man to our arab boss whose family is closely associated with the sheikh (my arab bosses were VERY influential). his story was truly inspiring. success and prestige however should never be used to lord over people, ever. his actions against me and my senior that day was something i could not swallow and from that day on, encounters with him have always been strained.

sensing that i no longer had any allegiance with GM, my senior finally opened up to me. she shared stories about the company, before the time we came in, before the company was an independent entity, before GM became GM. she told me of stories of peace and harmony and camaraderie and how all of that changed the moment power was redistributed. oh, how power corrupts is all i can say. they were difficult times, mentally and psychologically torturous since the word of one became good enough to determine whether or not you had a job the following day. she showed me a picture of the entire staff of the company before we came. she then point out those who never "made it". these were the first casualties of an imbalanced system in my company, a system solely controlled by the man who sat upstairs. my senior warned me of GM now, she never thought of warning me before since she though GM would practice enthnocentricity. obviously, she was wrong (well, i WAS chinese anyway, hehehe). sharing that rather unpleasant experience with GM though made me and my senior, didi closer. considering how in later times i would find myself sleeping over at her house, going on road trips with her, eating out, shopping with her, and being her gurl-friend, proves only how many more unpleasant experiences we shared under GM's tyranny.

Friday, November 28, 2008

MMK... the movie in my mind, my dubai (part 4)

the succeeding days, weeks, months of my dealings with SAL saw a steady decline in my demeanor, his presence sending me through a whirlwind of emotions playing between terror and panic, not really the best for someone who handles stress poorly. his project severely delayed, i almost received regular calls from him as well as emails, being reprimanded (in broken english, but harsh nonetheless) about how much all this is costing him. he barraged me with question after question, none of which i could answer for i had absolutely no information. following-through was not this company's strongest traits unfortunately. despite all my efforts to sort out the problems that plagued this project, it was too much for one person to handle. it was too much for even three people (i had my indian senior and a junior designer in my team already). my only hope now was to seek the advice of the higher ups, in the case, my GM.

GM sat in his spacious office in our company's mezzanine, occupying practically an entire wing. he sat on a leather bound, high back executive chair, behind a large mahogany stained table, surrounded by articles that said that you are in the presence of one who has authority, and he did. he warmly accommodated me despite his busy schedule to hear my concerns. he listened carefully and pondered on the issues i laid out. he then gave me his opinions on the matter as well as tips on handling SAL (SAL was initially his client which was later on handed down to me) during that meeting, i felt safe. i was in the presence of the man who gave birth to this company and here he was imparting his wise words to me. he encouraged me and reiterated that he and the entire company will back up any decision i make. i practically could do no wrong. empowered and armed with new found wisdom, i left his office ready to face SAL again. the next few meetings with SAL proved to be less stressful for true enough, GM's words were effective in pacifying him. i was slowly gaining back my credibility, i thought. despite the snail paced progress at site, his calls were becoming less frequent, his emails, less charged. i only realized much later on that SAL was just loosing interest already with my words, for the GM was already taking matters to his own hands for SAL had raised the issue already to the gods... my arab bosses, his cousins. my GM now was changing his colors...

my dealings with SAL had to take the backseat for a while for something more pressing was at hand, not to be homeless. despite promises to help, our company decided not to renew our lease for our flat in mankhool. for the past 3 months, we have been using the weekends to desperately seek new shelter but to no avail. inquiring on pages upon pages of ads for leased flats or rooms proved to be futile for we, apparently, were not good "possible" tenants. we were single, filipino, non-arabic speaking, non-executives of mixed gender... traits considered very undesirable. the pressures from work, mouths to feed back home and the looming possibility of homelessness eventually took its toll on the relationships me and my flatmates had. we had to split up. five of them sought to take up bed spaces near our workplace, in a townhouse situated in a rather congested part of deira, hor al anz. it was a settlement populated mostly by indian and pakistani bachelors who jam themselves in compounds of almost concentration camp density. the roads were narrow and mostly lined up with cars (for those who could afford them but not parking space), and the buildings old and dusty. calls for prayer blare out from loudspeakers on minarets at every corner, the same corners where lustful men would park themselves on, eyeing on every passing individual who could be serve their pleasure. rent was cheap surely, but it was still too high of a price for me to keep my sanity.

my two other flatmates and i decided to stay put in bur dubai. it was quiet, convenient and for the most part, home already. the strain of the past few months had left my will weak and having to push myself to flat-hunt and relocate was almost overwhelming. thankfully so, the day before our lease expired, after months of searching, after fights and breakdowns, after being conned by a rogue agent, we struck a deal with a kind south african and managed to secure a studio not far from where we resided. it was a 3 meter by 3 meter room, with a detached kitchen and bath. it was ridiculously small (and expensive) but was better than having no place to go. this small space would be my home and my two other girl-friends home for the next year.


having sense that his clout had no lasting effect, SAL stepped up his "assault" once again. he was more agitated than ever. countless reassurances from me were feel on deaf ears as i was accused of being unprofessional, of being unethical and ultimately, a liar. to be honest, i bear no grudge against him for he truly has been very patient from the start. in fairness to SAL, he was simply pushed beyond his limits. he snapped and since i was the lone person stupid enough to receive his calls (the GM was "constantly" in a meeting), i was the only one to shoulder the full intensity of his rage. i sought the advice of my indian senior, whom i will lovingly call DIDI (love you didi, with all my heart) and she too, dumbfounded with my dilemma suggested to bring matters again to the GM. a meeting was set and with all relevant documents in tow, didi and i had (she decided to accompany me, being my senior), what was to be, the last meeting with GM.

no one can keep false facades up too long. unless founded on something solid, even the thickest walls can come crashing down like those of biblical jericho. my fateful meeting saw the unraveling of two people, of GM and myself. i was reprimanded without just cause and sent out of the office, i then overheard him screaming at my senior that he was tired of handling my "shit" and other accusations i have no memory off anymore. review of my past blog entries showed no documentation as well, i guess this was one memory i chose never to remember. all i could recall though was trembling in pure rage and frustration as i went down the stairs back to my desk. i was out of breath and a surge of emotion welling up inside me. my senior came down not long after, cussing under her breath about what an positively assholic piece of shit GM was. i could not be bothered, i was blank, broken and bewildered. she tried to comfort me but all i could muster was fake a smile and walk away. as i reached my desk, a post-it note from the reception was on my PC saying "please call back SAL immediately."