Reversal of Fortune

images_richIn my lifetime I’ve read and heard countless of rags to riches stories that gave me that pleasant feeling of joy and mild inspiration. After all, who wouldn’t be happy to hear about success stories of people who overcome overwhelmingly difficult challenges, especially those who come from the under privileged class. On the other hand, there are those born privileged, with a silver spoon in their mouth and by some twist of fate, lose their stature and wealth and fall from riches to rags. Just as the wind turns into a gale without warning, life is the same – utterly unpredictable. But I guess the worst kind reversal of fortune one could go through in this life is one that goes full circle – from rags to riches and back to rags. This is often the case where you hear of people blowing their brains out in total despondency and despair. One stint at the gutter is enough. A second trip is hell itself.

images_ragsWhen I was a young lad growing up in the Visayas I remember a family that was a classic case of the rags to riches story. With hard work the enterprising couple who were barely making 3 square meals a day were able to acquire land and engaged in real estate. The success was gradual but steady and the couple were able to acquire haciendas, moved to a very large house and bought cars, sent their children to private schools. Money was a plenty and life was great. I remember the man of the house having a haircut lying sideways on the hammock, occasionally dozing off , keeping the poor barber on his toes all the time, unsure whether he cut both “patilyas” properly. He would switch sides to get the other side done. If I was the barber I would f-off in a jiffy but he was da man and a great tipper so you got to do it his way. When you were a kid you didn’t think much about it but remembering it now makes you realize what a moron the guy was and I would rather cut a baboon’s hair than doing guesswork on a head that’s filled with what looked like curly pubic hair. When you got lots of money you get things done your way and people won’t complain. To make the story short – the kids went to school but none of them finished college, the family was embroiled in a nasty and protracted court case that depleted their treasure chest, the sugar industry suffered a paralyzing recession. The family lost everything and went back to the gutter. They went full circle. Sad indeed.
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Presidentiable or Scoundrel ?

images_presI’ve been monitoring this 2010 Presidentiables website and noticed the frequent changes of the personalities that seek to vie for the most powerful job in the nation. At this early juncture, the list is dynamic as political parties jockey and strategize, changing candidates depending on polls and survey results. Some candidates are incumbent politicians who have been endorsed by their respective political parties. Others are religious leaders who feel that their self-avowed righteousness is the antidote to the plague of corruption that could avert the social and economic atrophy that threatens the disintegration of the nation. Party-less as these two religious leaders are, I am amazed at their audacity. I have thought all along that in a democracy, the executive power of the president complements the legislative and judicial powers in the governance of the nation. Minus the political machinery that backs the president in the upper and lower legislative houses, how could independents Villanueva and Velarde possibly survive the presidency should one of them win? Is the Pinoy president an autocratic ruler, some kind of emperor whose subjects are beholden to his eminence and expected to acquiesce to his every behest?

images-erapAnd of course, the ultimate embarrassment to the Filipino race is the name of convicted plunderer ex-President Joseph Estrada who has the gall to run for the presidency. In a complete turnaround after his pledge not to run for public office as condition for President Arroyo’s imprudent pardon from his sentence of reclusion perpetua, Estrada is back on the campaign trail, trying to  reclaim  the throne that once was his. His name is back in the headlines reeking with more controversies as his political enemies dig more skeletons in his closet to smear his credibility. Lawsuits are being filed left and right – again. Haven’t we gotten enough of this vampire already? Why are we wasting time with a convicted felon who equates the presidential pardon (granted due to his frail health) as exoneration from his crime ? Worse, there are those among us who believe that Erap is the comeback kid, reminiscent of his movie exploits, and is on his high horse seeking to exact revenge on those who mauled and left him for dead 😦

The recipe for a consummate disaster for the nation would be an Erap win. It might be unlikely, but not mathematically impossible. Should it happen, it will be the triumph of poverty – both intellectual and spiritual. As Pinoy writer F. Sionil Jose aptly said ”

“We are poor because we have lost our ethical moorings. We condone cronyism and corruption and we don’t ostracize and punish crooks in our midst. We allow their practice because our loyalty is to family or friend and not to the larger good”

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Customers Aren’t Always Right

customerserviceLast week I had the most irritating experience that left me gnashing my teeth in anger. Although I wasn’t involved, the incident made my horns grow large and stiff and smoke almost came out of my ears. At one point I wished I was involved but then I’m not a knight nor must I pretend I could solve world hunger so I told me ” self, why don’t you just f-off since it’s none of your goddamn business”. And I did. The incident happened inside Canada’s Wonderland, as I was queuing up to buy the luscious funnel cake for my daughter and my two nieces. We were at the theme park to treat my sister’s family who came to town for a long weekend visit.

There were two queues at the funnel cake house as the workers were busy churning up cakes by the minute to keep the line moving. The 20 something woman immediately behind me,  who was talking on her cell phone like she was standing in the middle of a meadow all by herself, abruptly told the staff who was sprinkling icing sugar at the cake base “ hey, that cake looks stiff . It doesn’t look  freshly baked ” . The staff, without batting an eyelash, threw the cake into the garbage bin, took a freshly baked one, sprinkled icing sugar on it,  a cup of strawberries and topped it with hefty scoops of ice cream. As she was about to hand her the finished cake , the girl quipped “ that cake looks really fluffy, like it’s not cooked properly”. Visibly incensed, the staff threw the entire cake into the garbage bin and prepared a new one, gave it to the girl and went to the back of the kitchen.  Now the line was edging slowly towards the cashier and I heard the girl on the phone telling the person on the other end of  line ” I think this cake is burned. I see black spots on it”. Oh no, not again. She then called another staff, a guy this time, to change the cake !  I turned around and gave her the look of an angry bull. The male staff told her the cake looks perfect and they had a bit of an argument. I moved on to the cashier to pay and ignored them because at this point my blood was boiling in anger . The staff finally gave in an trashed the cake for the 3rd time and gave her a new one. I just nodded my head wanted to shout in the open “ how can you allow this stupidity to happen ?”

I have seen the most ridiculous and impossible instances of people returning stuff after using them. At one instance,  I saw a mother arguing with a department store customer service clerk who refused to accept the return of her son’s rubber shoes that reportedly broke apart while he was playing basketball.  The shoes looked like it gone to war, donned by a marine on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. People here abuse the rather generous return policy that is aimed to protect consumers from faulty and shoddy products.

Back to the funnel cake. My anger subsided a bit when I realized that perhaps these  theme parks deserve an occasional kick in the crotch for the way they rob their patrons with the astronomical cost of everything they sell inside the park. With pop drinks going for as high as $2.50 and sandwich combos for $11 it is highway robbery. This is true with all theme parks – the modus operandi is the same. They frisk your bag right at the gate  and will not allow you to bring food inside the park. If you brought food, leave it in your car to be eaten later but don’t forget to have your hand stamped for re-entry. The girl dinged them with 3 funnel cakes with strawberries and ice cream for the price of 1 ( $12 including taxes). Looked to me like she knew she could get away with it and was getting back at them. Maybe she was a staff they fired in the past. 😉 One thing I know though. I don’t think I could ever handle jerks in a face to face customer service job. If I happen to be the one servicing this girl, I could have gored her :mrgreen:

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A Day Trip to the Capital City

P9030612Last Thursday I made a day return trip to Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. The trip was 420 kms one way from Toronto, about 4.5 hours which meant that I logged almost 900 kms for the return trip. I left Ottawa at around 8pm and the drive home with the full moon in the summer night was wonderful. I had to help a relative move for a year’s study to finish her second university degree. I took off the second and third row seats of my van to load all her stuff. Count me in with the small ways I can help when it comes to family pursuing education. The photo above is the House of Commons building, the seat of the Canadian Parliament. The front of the picture shows the eternal flame burning, symbolizing its unity.

P9030640The close up photo of the imposing facade of the parliament building. It was interesting to note that I didn’t see a sight of policemen nor uniformed security personnel in the area. The House of Commons is on a summer break so it figures the security folks are too 😉

P9030616This is the East Block building of Parliament Hill. This beautiful edifice has vaults that used to keep Canada’s financial treasures. Today this building houses offices of Canadian senators. Don’t laugh now but in Canada, senators are appointed by the Governor General upon advice of the Prime Minister. 105 citizens of high esteem and notable accomplishment from the various represented provinces are appointed as senators. The senate’s main function is to review legislations passed by the House of Commons. This may sound odd but believe me the system works, at least in this country 😉

P9030618This church looking structure is actually the library of the House of Commons, located at the back of the building.

P9030626The view of the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill. This shot was taken from the back side of the House of Commons. The panoramic view of the city across the Ottawa River is quite pretty more so at night. The pic shows a boat carrying tourists for a sightseeing cruise of the river. Here is how Parliament Hill looks like from the other side of the river.

P9030644A shot of the avenue in front of Parliament Hill. The business section of the city is abuzz across the street, right in front of the national legislature.

P9030656Ottawa – a blend of the old and new. This is my third visit to the city. The last time I visited I didn’t have a blog yet.
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