Posted in Anecdote, Food/Drink

The balut vendor guarantee

Just outside our apartment door, my wife was collecting the items she ordered via GrabFood from the delivery guy when a balut vendor on bicycle passed by. I had an inkling she’ll call the hawker’s attention but then thought that we just ordered pizza and pasta for our lunch. What would we need balut for? Then I noticed the balut guy slowing down and started pedaling towards the direction of our door.

The Balut Guarantee

The GrabFood delivery person probably couldn’t help but smile (yeah, he had his facial mask on, but you know how our eyes smile as well) when he noticed the other guy heading towards their direction. I helped the wifey bring the original food stuff inside the house so she can proceed with her additional purchase.

As I was heading back outside, I heard her and the seller make a short exchange punctuated by a really grateful sounding “Thank you” from my wife. I asked what was that all about. She said the vendor declared that if we find anything we don’t like about the eggs, he will gladly replace them for free on our next purchase. Wifey then related how she shot back with, “Why? Would there be any reason there’d be bad baluts in this batch?” The vendor said, “No, ma’m. Just in case.”

I said, “Wow! A guarantee of sorts! In all my time in this world, I’ve never heard a balut vendor say something like that me.” (Is the current COVID-19 pandemic making businesses nicer, including the ones that hawk food on the streets? I wish!) We had the duck eggs later that night as our “light” dinner. Happily, there were no problems with it — it was all perfect. Just the right number of days of incubation.

Posted in Commentary

Pardon my ramblings about skin color

I do not want to wish anything negative to happen to enemies (not that I have some) or people I don’t like (we all have them, I guess). Wishing anyone to have cancer is something that you won’t get from me. Cancer is once again pushed into the global limelight with the passing of Chadwick Boseman. A truly nice guy, so we all now find out. Like a lot of people I have seen a few of his movies, including the ones that made tons of money on a global scale. Will we able to see the last ones he was worked on before he died? That remains to be seen.

A cursory online check showed that his “Black Panther” movie chalked up close to $5M in my country (The Philippines) alone. Personally, I found this surprising. Why? I’m embarrassed to say that my countrymen, brown-skinned and all, are a bit on the racist side, with some of the worse kind acting like they are card-carrying members of white supremacist organizations. (Which is both hilarious and unfortunate, by the way.) And they come from all walks of life — from the rich that studied at the most influential schools in the country run by various religious (Catholic, I mean) orders, to public schools everywhere. (With that in mind, you’d expect them to shy away from Boseman’s T’Challa starrer.)

As an observer, I am not sure where the deep-seated racism or colorism where I am came from. But as a kid growing up, I already noticed that Philippine entertainment in the late ‘80s were replete with content that poke fun or even malign locals with dark(er) skin, and to a larger extent, black people in general. (Somehow, I had this feeling then that network TV in the Philippines is run, or controlled at least, by white men. My theory then as a kid apparently wasn’t far-fetched from reality.)

Believe it or not, there were even comedy characters whose sole purpose in gag shows were to be ridiculed for being black or dark-skinned. The tastelessness of it all continues to this day as the populace lap up all the racism/colorism as the most natural thing in the world. It doesn’t stop there. The racism spills over towards people from the Middle East and South Central Asia. In contrast, white people were elevated to pedestals. Filipinos with mixed lineage where their white side dominates have a special place in the upper echelons of Philippine showbiz royalty. (And with that gravitation to white skin, no need to expound why skin whitening products are a billion dollar business here on my side of the world.)

Let me stop there. This is not a treatise on racism and colorism. I am not an expert. I am, however, a human being that feels pain and anguish seeing that fellow men and women can be so shallow in terms of judging others, using skin color as a yard stick is perhaps the lowest of the low. I know how that feels. I’ve been on the receiving end of it. Feel free to stop reading now, perhaps even unfollow me or block me, if you happen to have a racist nerve and I touched it.

I wish we can all love one another, regardless of the color of our skin. The world is already an awful place as it is. Let’s not make it more obnoxious.

Posted in Anecdote, Work-From-Home

Apartment hopping during COVID-19

Checked out a potential new dwelling place for me and the wife early this week, in a building that is somewhat smack in between our respective work offices. (It doesn’t really matter much for now, since both of us work from home since COVID-19.)  Because of continuing social distancing rules, the person supposed to show us around conducted her business with us via mobile only instead of a face-to-face meeting/discussion. (So, the agent is not showing us around. She’s just on the phone while we’re doing an ocular inspection of the premises.)

Apartment hunt

A truly weird feeling engulfed me as flashbacks of my apartment hunting past raced through my subconscious. Not surprising. After all, I’ve undergone several endeavors like this one as I jumped from one apartment unit to another spanning several years before I got married. Then more place-hopping along with the wife this time.

Seems we’re inclined to get it. The only big obstacle is the continuing lockdown on the metropolis. Since COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, particularly Metro Manila, there is fear that the government can once again decide to slide back to the more restrictive mode of the quarantine. And when that happens, I don’t think we’ll be able to move out from our (near-a-COVID-hotspot) apartment anytime soon. We’re just going to have to wait for a favorable September to roll in.

Wow. Did I just say, “September”? Back in January, who knew we’re going to be in this pandemic state by this time of the year?

Posted in Commentary

Historical revisionism?

Utterly hilarious! When some supporters of Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte are the ones calling for a “revolutionary government”, that segment of society that openly calls for the ouster of the President by legal or illegal means are suddenly seen crying foul over it all. Just like that, the constitution is all of a sudden… sacred.

Maria Ressa need not worry. The seeds that were planted in the early ‘80s that locally and globally demonized Ferdinand Marcos and his family to unprecedented levels cannot be simply overturned by present-day social media campaigns. But isn’t it somehow cute that the CEO of a well-funded media outfit and a vital cog of the highly-influential Omidyar Group expresses some sort of concern that the scions of the late strongman are even capable of matching the power of the anti-Marcos (and concurrently anti-Duterte) machinery?

Posted in Anecdote, Work-From-Home, Work/Job

See you again soon, boss!

On the last hour of the last working day of our boss (before he leaves for another company), rain poured hard over where I am based. Since the quarantine, the team that I work with have been telecommuting. I fired up a message on our office group chat and said something along the lines of the skies crying for our leader’s departure. Sentimental as heck, I know. But the personification of the weather scenario at the moment brought the thought out. It was, yes, a bit on the sad side. But it was real.

Goodbye, 'Dream Team'

Seconds after I sent the message, one of my peers chimed in to say he’ll directly message the boss to thank him “for being so good to the team.” Indeed he was. Last year, he flew to Manila twice to be with the group for official business. And the inevitable after-hours hobnob. He was good. Treated us well. He was a fair boss. He’s not the breathe-down-your-neck type leader. (No one wants that, anyway.) He points out matters that he wants you to improve on. But he also gives you pats on the back for good things that you do.

This year, he was supposed to drop by the country again, at least twice. Then COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, the cards have changed. Even the game. And the team lost a good man to lead them on to perhaps, more success in what they do?

We’ll miss him.

Bye, boss!
Posted in Commentary, Work-From-Home, Work/Job

Workplace shakeup amid the pandemic

When two quality organizations merge, it sometimes takes a while before the final look of the surviving entity comes through. Could take months, maybe even a year. It’s trickier when the top honchos are bringing together into one group the best and the brightest from both sides but still need to chop off some parts to fit and refine most in the moulds prepared for them. Job security is a rare commodity nowadays, particularly in this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Even exemplary contributors who have given several years of top-notch service can be removed without much fanfare. It’s always a tough call, this I understand. I’m certain most people who wield this power mean well and some even openly proclaim to disdain using it. But I still wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of men in charge to lay people off. But that’s how the corporate world moves. Small fries like me ride along with the changes, wishing I can somehow keep my place in the organization.

Posted in Anecdote

Grocery runs and busted outlets

Day 157 of the PHI quarantine. That’s 5 months and 4 days. Had to get out of the house with the wife for groceries- and medicine-run. About to exhaust our stocks for both. (Hello again, face masks, face shields, and quarantine passes!) The quarantine was eased to a laxer mode yesterday. Public transportation is available again and we sought the services of Grab Transport to head to our destination.

Went to a supermarket a bit farther than the one that’s nearest. We couldn’t bear the lines at the latter. And then there is the issue of higher odds that some asymptomatic carrier could be among those who’ll be inside, considering the number of active COVID-19 cases in the area. We got lucky at our choice today. Not much people inside the grocery. We got what we needed. And we only waited in line at the checkout counter for just a few minutes.

There was distress at the apartment shortly after we got home. I was heating water when I heard something pop and the electric kettle shut down. The wifey, who is setting up her computer to get ready for her work shift, said she smelled something burning and I got worried for two reasons: (1) Something must indeed be burning, or burnt; and/but (2) I can’t smell it! (COVID-19 scare, here we are again.) The electrical outlets at the kitchen stopped working and wondered if there was some kind of overload.

We just bought food stuff and our fridge was packed. (Damn, and we picked up some ice cream too!) This is not the time to lose electricity. Luckily, we were able to secure the services of a neighborhood electrician, thanks to the help provided us by our landlady’s Girl Friday. When everything was fixed, it was 4 in the afternoon. I still haven’t slept for the day.

Good luck to me in my (work-from-home) night shift later that starts at 9PM.