August 26, 2008

Real Stories

For all my moaning and groaning about the bureaucracy, I do love my job. I love most of the people I work with, and barring the times when I come across people who could use a refresher course in GMRC, I love working this close to people. Real people with real stories; not just mere statistics.

I have always had a fascination for stories. In my past life, I have come across people who spewed and lived and breathed brands. Their stories are the stuff of precious column inches.

Working in government is my reality check. Suddenly, Prada is inconsequential. The people who go to my office do not know the difference between Vitra and Monobloc. They do not live by brands; they hardly check the labels. And yet, their stories are just as interesting. More heroic, even, considering the struggles they have to put up with every single day.

Every working day reinforces the notion that life is not easy. But it is beautiful, and its beauty lies in the fact that it goes on. No matter what.

August 20, 2008

Fear of Shaking

Over the extended weekend a latent fear resurfaced: the fear of earthquakes. You see, last Friday, while I was lazing on the bed and dreaming up plans for the three-day break, there was this sudden jolt. And then the earth started shaking.

It wasn't like one of those little tremors that we attribute to Mount Mayon or to Bulusan. Minor quakes we have learned to live with. Instead, it was quite strong, the way the quake in Baguio was strong. (A dear friend lost an uncle in that quake, an uncle who, a week before, gave me a Midnight Oil album. For five or so years, I'd always get sick every time I'd go up north.)

Anyway, last Friday's quake had me immediately eyeing the beams for cracks. Finding none, I fed on my neurosis and thought of a thousand what ifs. What if there are hidden cracks? What if the roof caved in on us? What if this happened when the little girl is all alone in the room? What if...

We cancelled the weekend trip to the beach and to the mall in Legazpi amid fears of tidal waves and volcanic eruptions. You can never really tell in these parts: the earthquake on Friday registered 5 on the Richter scale in Sorsogon; 6 in Legazpi. Besides, motherhood has made me more cautious. More paranoid.

Similar quakes--albeit less shaky--were felt on Monday and, again, just minutes ago. Scary, really, the way they strike in seeming regularity. I don't know, but this growing fear of quakes has me shaking.

August 18, 2008

Coffee Talk

I am on to my third cup of coffee within the past two hours. I really should be doing some serious technical stuff. Instead, I have this blog window open, and I can't resist the temptation to blog.

There is something about coffee that sets off a certain rush. Suddenly, writing seems a lot more pleasant. The thought process may not be clear, and may even be prone to rambling, but the translation from thought bubbles to keyboard seems a lot easier.

Ironically, it wasn't in the newsroom that I developed this addiction for coffee. I was perfectly fine with watching beat reporters alternately churning out their daily requisite column inches and downing steaming mugfuls. Besides, since I worked in the Sunday section, I wasn't always in a rush anyway.

But when I moved from writing for a weekly to a monthly, my latent craving for caffeine surfaced. My "seatmate" Arni made the perfect brew, and--with the heady aroma wafting through those modular cubicles--I was hooked. Coffee actually took on a more social aspect and it figured pretty much in every swinging single thing: last-full shows, dinners, quiet conversations, rowdy after-office bonding, Saturday-night hangovers.

Although I have since traded the publication for the bureaucracy, I still get my kick from coffee. Attacking the paperwork is a breeze, and there's nothing like the smell of a fresh cup to get me on track.

And so, enough of this rambling and on to the task at hand...

August 16, 2008

Catching Up

Our friend Marissa was in town, and Nena cooked up a mini meet-up. We had a good laugh over our nineteen kopong-kopong graduation pictures, over Ali's usual crazy quips and over just about every thing.

Beyond the gas-pain inducing laughter, we bridged the gap between the then and now, between high school and our preoccupations of the moment. Because we grew up in an age when every one knew one anothers' families, talk got around to parents and siblings and how we are as parents of teenagers and toddlers.

At some point, Marissa marveled at how some of us have taken on our mothers' faces. Between 1984 and 2008, most of us have changed, some in stature, most in appearances. The changes notwithstanding, we were back to our former selves as we talked about the once upon a times, about high school and the craziness of it all.

At past nine, the mothers among us started to get restless. We could have talked on and on, but husbands and children are waiting, and life couldn't be put on hold. With the promise of catching up soon enough, we traded high school for the here and now.

Truly, we have become our mothers.

August 12, 2008


Our office at the city hall is relatively small. There is just enough room for five middle management people, five associates, and the usual come-and-go clients. All things considered, and barring the times when it got really cramped, the set-up worked quite well.

Until the two middle managers started getting on each others' nerves. At first, we didn't give it much thought and dismissed their catfights as a case of familiarity breeding contempt. It was even a source of minor amusement.

But then the spat between the two warring women has become increasingly irritating, and it just isn't funny anymore. A has taken to name calling and "invoking" the saints for ill to befall B. B has taken to thumping A's bag and declaring "fake, fake, fake." Both have taken to regaling those who cared to listen--and those who didn't--with versions of their "episodes," in what can only be a glorified version of agawan base.

The thing is the corporate gladiators are not exactly that young. Leaving all of us to conclude that really, immaturity knows no age.

August 8, 2008

Messy, Messy Me

Was that July that just flew out the window? Is it August already? As I cleaned out my drawer and found projects enthusiastically begun and unceremoniously abandoned, I realized that it's way past the middle of the year. Way past my self-imposed deadline for a well-organized 2008.

At home, my desk is groaning with paper and what have yous that I might find some use for in my scrapbooking projects. There are photos that are supposed to be put in albums or given to those whose smiling faces are forever captured in full color. There are receipts and clippings. Things that I might as well throw away but just can't bring myself to.

At the office, my files are semi-organized. Papers from the first quarter have since been segregated and are neatly filed in properly-labeled folders. The rest is dumped into folders generically dismissed as "for filing," waiting for that inspired moment when I suddenly discover that I am anal after all. Meanwhile, documents are back to their naturally unsystematic mess.

The funny thing is I am perfectly able to retrieve stuff without having to risk a major anxiety attack. Funnier still, if it were up to me, I'd leave things as they are. The great thing about the randomness of it all is the fact that I am always rediscovering things. It may be a forgotten book or a faded photograph, or the very document that has eluded countless searches. Heck, it can even be a (thankfully unopened and still edible) pack of crackers.

So much for organization, huh?

August 3, 2008


There is something about 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday that makes me want to cram so many things into what's left of the weekend. Suddenly, I want to clean, to organize, to scrapbook. Anything to make me think that I did have a productive weekend after all.

As it is, my weekends are broken down into slow, leisurely hours that have me lounging in house clothes. There is nothing about my Saturdays and Sundays that says "rush." Instead I have cultivated the art of idling: of two-day movie marathons, of doing everything and nothing.

On weekends, I am so many things. I am, among others, a storyteller, a magician, a pupil, a doctor, a playmate, a singer. I am a fan, an audience, an awestruck mom to a three-year-old who sees wonder in all things. Yes, even in a dead lizard.

Alas, weekends, too, have to end. Tomorrow, it will be back to my other world, where is no time to dawdle, where there are deadlines and dress codes. It is a world that I also love, although not with as much passion as my weekend world. And at 5:30 p.m., on a Sunday, I am slowly psyching myself for the transition.