Jun Acullador

How I see things. How I live my life.

Taking A Backseat

Breathing fresh air from the countryside is priceless.

Working for a food company is one of the best things that happened to me this year. I’ve been with the airline and health/hospital industries but my current job tops them all. I have a shoutout in my Facebook declaring my “love” for my job and until now, it still holds true.  I do love my job. Reason? Because I get to travel, as in really travel, the country. I don’t get free trips abroad but exploring the countryside is good enough for me. On the average, I travel twice to different provinces. I spend a week on the average per trip.

Perks include paid hotel accommodation, free food & transportation and a very fair allowance. I can speed up my job and finish it in a day or two and the rest of my free time is spent on exploring the city (and its neighborhood) and whatever it has to offer. This is like taking a backseat from the routine desk job. Breathing fresh air from the countryside is priceless.

I do audit. In an eight page guideline form, I inspect each item carefully. I make sure that these items are followed based on the company’s standards. I also do food and beverage sampling. I eat and drink the products which the company sells. I evaluate them and include my findings in the report. After the audit proper,

I advice and ‘educate’ my colleagues regarding the best practices that can be adopted so that they can implement these standards to the letter. I do a lot of paper work. I generate reports which will be forwarded to the main office. After signing, I’m done! That’s the nature of my job (simplified version).

Taking a backseat from the banal routine, these provincial trips help me relax and unwind. Away from the puzzling tasks of an office set-up, a hike to the nearby mountain park or a quick dip in the beach is a desired and anticipated break. Trying the local cuisine can be frustrating at times. Since I am an outsider to that place, local folks normally point to fastfood restaurants based inside the mall if I ask them where’s the best place to eat. My solution, I explore and try those restaurants away from the malls.

I’m scheduled to visit Butuan-Cagayan de Oro-Iligan next month. I look forward to this trip since these are the last three provinces which will complete my Mindanao ‘run.’  Can’t wait 🙂

May 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Sweetest Thing

I’m grateful that 2010 is over. It was a difficult year for me financially speaking. A thankless job without a 13th month pay as of this writing (two years running), coupled with dubious monthly contributions to SSS, Pag-Ibig and other government regulated deductions which, I just found out through online inquiry, were not remitted at all. That’s how evil they are. If there is another term more sinister than ‘evil,’ then that adjective perfectly describes the people running that rotten company. Some ex-colleagues are doing the legal battle for the group. I just hope that we rightly get what is due us in the end.

I already buried my 2010 nightmares. Charge everything to experience and move on – that’s what my survival instinct tells me.

This year is different. I am starting the year right: stronger family ties, positive vibes, plans coming to fruition, meeting my obligations (one at a time), renewing and strengthening friendships and best of all, keeping my faith intact despite all odds.

I recently got a job with a food and beverage company as Field Operations Review Head (last November 9 to be exact). I audit company owned and franchised stores/outlets nationwide. Part of my job is to make sure that standards are strictly implemented and maintained all year round. “Two” of the best perks of my job is that I get to eat for free and travel to exotic places. By exotic places I mean those areas in far-flung, nook and cranny edges of different provinces which one cannot even find in local maps. For now, my assignment is within Metro Manila. Pretty soon, I’ll be heading for Vis/Min areas.

Eating for Free

Although food sampling is limited (I get to taste the same food every time I visit an outlet/store), the best part is that lunch (or dinner) is already free. That’s the sweetest thing, eating for free and being paid to do it. At night when work is done, I have an option to do R and R and head out to the nearest bar and spend the night until I’m weary, tired and ready to sleep in my hotel room.

One of the required items that I have to order, meaning mandatory for me to taste and drink, consists of a cup of brewed coffee, a munchkin and two donut variants (ring and shell – referring to the shapes of the donuts). I have the option to add savory or bakery products like cinnamon, cupcake or brownies. As long as I don’t over budget, I can add other items from the menu board. I have to dole out money once my order exceeds the allocated budget of course. Except for coffee, these ‘treats’ have one thing in common, they are all laced, frosted, filled or mixed with sugar. Picture this: I have to order these items every time I visit an outlet/store. On the average, I audit 2-3 stores/outlets a day. This translates to eating these items twice or thrice a day. If I don’t watch my sugar intake, I will soon be a perfect candidate for diabetes. This is the only hazard that I see in my current job.

I can’t think of any job that can beat this one. The freebies are so abundant (get to visit your family, friends or relatives in the province; an all expense paid travel, hotel accommodation, food and drinks). Options include night outs, sight seeing, beach (especially in Vis/Min areas) and a sampling of the local culture. I can only do this assuming that I finish my audit ahead of schedule. This is such a pleasurable experience that can never be bought. I never bargained for this nor expected it at all…and I like it.

I don’t consider this as an ordinary job. It’s a combination of desk job (30%) and field work (audit in nature, 70%) and other “add-ons.” These add-ons make it special, not to mention the very competitive economic package that they give to their employees. I am not complaining in that department.

This is far cry from my hand to mouth existence months prior to November (although I got my first paycheck only last December). Back then splurging on coffee was unthinkable. I would rather buy a decent meal and fill my stomach with rice and veggies/meat. It was a hard life. Lessons learned, I am moving forward.

In retrospect, I realized a very important lesson in life. A lesson learned the hard way.  It made me stronger that’s for sure.

For now, I’ll cherish this sweet life that I have. On my way home at night, I can now leisurely take my time and appreciate those little things which I took for granted last year. Feeling the cold breeze, looking at people’s faces, hearing the noise that kids make while they play – I value these things no matter how trivial they are.

Sweet things in life are free after all.

January 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

The Chronicle of a Jobless Person

The shrinking value of my last remaining money in my wallet.

Alright, it’s me. I am the jobless person. I have been out of work for almost five months now. From an airline training manager, now a dodo. My wings are clipped. I can’t fly even if I want to.

It all started last year, December to be exact. I was expecting our 13th month pay would be released prior to our Christmas party. Everyone was looking forward to a happy Christmas and we had every right to feel that way. We just launched our flights to Bahrain and Taipei. After almost two years of paperwork, this airline finally took off. What a better way to celebrate the holiday season than to fill our pockets with our hard earned 13th month money (at least for those who were permanently employed by the company)?

The holiday season is now over.  I did not experience (including all the employees of this airline company) a merry Christmas. The 13th month pay was never given to us. This was a bad omen that I should have discerned right from the start. More troublesome things happened the following months. It was too late for me (and the rest of my colleagues) to realize that we were in trouble. We seriously need to look for a new job and this is what I’m doing right now. Although I haven’t resigned yet from work (on leave since a couple of months ago), I already felt the economic pinch. It’s darn ouch! What breaks my heart is that my colleagues are suffering and yet the management has fallen deaf ears.

JOBSTREET

With all the complexities of Jobstreet’s various employment categories and vacancies, this online job search engine is user-friendly. At first, creating an online resume is daunting with all the details that need to be answered and verifications to be done. But after clicking the “save” button, everything becomes a breeze. Updating of information, even uploading of  ‘forever young’ 2×2 photo is easy.

I found Jobstreet as my refuge. I went ballistic clicking the “apply box” at every job opportunity that, I think, matched my credentials. I revamped and overhauled my online resume in order to be more competitive and marketable. I looked desperately at every item, carefully siphoning each title so as not to miss an opportunity. Spending three hours online everyday became my routine.

Somehow, this hard work paid off. I was invited by different companies for interviews. From BPOs, hotels, manufacturing plants to a retail company – name it, I attended all these invitations. There were few good interviews and mostly bad interviews. As of press time, I still have no firm job offer.

INTERVIEW EXPERIENCES FROM HELL

COMPANY A

This hotel chain has branches nationwide. Its flagship branch is in Cebu. I was invited by the HR staff of this company for a job interview in Makati. I thought this hotel chain is small time until I checked online. I was happy to find out that this is the country’s largest and biggest local hotel chain. Doing some background research prior to my interview, I also discovered that this is a family business managed by one of the male scions of this prominent Chinese family in Central Visayas.

My initial interview was conducted by the amiable CFO of the company. She was courteous, a no-nonsense lady whose questions were direct and definitive. She asked me about my insights regarding training and organizational development. She delved more on plans (training cycle) and ways on how to create a corporate identity. I was too happy with the result of my interview. I expected that I would be called again for another interview. It was not too long when my mobile phone rang and another interview was conducted.

It was the Executive Assistant to the President (owner) who was on the other end. The manner of interview was more on verification of my prior interview with the CFO. At the end of our conversation, the EA gave me tips on what to do and ask when I face the owner himself.

The venue of my final interview was in Ortigas. I was the first applicant to arrive and yet the owner did not call me first during the interview proper. I was called in second.

It was the worst interview that I ever attended. The owner was coughing out loud without covering his mouth. I was afraid that I would catch tuberculosis after leaving the hotel. He was out of focus while conducting the interview. He was asking me questions regarding my writing skills, suspecting that I was a Copywriter applicant. He did not know that I was applying as a Training Manager. The worst part was when he did not pay attention to what I was saying because he was busy texting. He even left me for 15 minutes in order to call someone. Obviously, he was not into whatever he’s doing. I should have walked out when he left me.  As expected, I never received another call from that hotel chain again.

COMPANY B

Company B is the biggest and largest shipping company in the Philippines. It plies the Visayas-Mindanao routes with second-hand, thirty-something year old refurbished passenger and cargo ships from Japan. With their successful television commercials and print advertisements, this shipping company dominates Philippine waters for more than a decade now.

I applied as a Training Manager. It was a fairly easy process for me. The two interviews were cordial and light. The online exam was a breeze. I thought I nailed this job (the economic package was okay), until the HR Manager informed me that I have to be onboard the ship in order to experience life as a ship crew.  My task was to observe how these crew interact with passengers as they perform their normal routine. The thought of traveling by ship was exciting, or so I thought.

My departure was scheduled on a Saturday at 12 midnight. I got my ticket at 7.30pm at the company’s office near the pier. I did not bother looking at the ticket because I was so mentally preoccupied. All I know is that I would be sailing off to Davao and back to Manila. The good HR staff accompanied me to the ship and facilitated my boarding. At first glance, I thought that the ship was just the right size for the trip.  But comparing it with its sister-ship docked in front of our ship, it looked a bit small and shorter. Indeed it was small and short when I was already on board. It was narrow when I tried ‘measuring’ the width. After endorsing me to the Operation Manager, my dilemmas started to unfold.

I was booked in a non-air-conditioned cabin. The itinerary was the worst: Manila-Zamboanga-Davao-General Santos-Davao- Zamboanga-Manila. It would take five full days to complete the round-trip voyage. I was eager to experience life as a ship staff  but the beads of sweat on both sides of my neck, just below my earlobes, belied my anxiety. During boarding, I saw tons of bags and boxes all over the cabin neatly stacked up. I heard babies crying, roosters crowing, passengers talking in the vernacular (which I didn’t understand) – all these things were happening at the same time. It was chaotically organized (I am not even sure if I am using the right term in order to best describe what I saw that night).

The front desk staff was helpful. They did their best to calm me. Perhaps they sensed already that I was feeling uncomfortable at the sight of people congesting a defined space. But what triggered my plan of calling it ‘kalas’ was when this chubby pretty face lass told me that it could get bumpy in the open sea. That information somehow alarmed me. With barely an hour to go before departure time, I informed the Operation Manager that I was getting off. She tried so hard to convince me that everything would be fine. I really appreciated her professionalism and dedication to her job but my senseless and baseless fear of the open sea got hold of my wits. I got out of the boat.

Had I been firm about the whole thing, I should have gotten the job as I write this blog.

COMPANY C

This conglomerate is based north of Manila. It has auto showrooms, restaurants and insurance companies all over Luzon. In fact, this ‘group’ is one of the most financially stable companies on this side of the country. Its main office is quite impressive considering it is based in a provincial city.

They conducted the series of exams and the preliminary interview quite fast. I passed the exams. They asked me few questions during the initial interview. They trimmed down the number of applicants after all these preliminaries. I was asked to stay for the final interview to be conducted after lunch that same afternoon.

I came back after an hour. Finally, my name was called for the supposed final interview. The HR Supervisor said, without any emotion, that my credentials would still be further evaluated. My initial reaction was a bit shocked since I came all the way from Makati and it was a provincial trip in order for me to “reach this stage” literally. I smiled and said ‘alright.’ I left the building with a heavy heart.

As HR practitioner, she should have evaluated my credentials even before calling me for the interview/exam. She should have done her assignment, checking all the information and details listed on the resume of each applicant before shortlisting them. Obviously, she was not doing her job properly. And I was the ONLY ONE ‘for further evaluation’ guy in the group. It sucks even up to this day thinking about it.

ON SECOND THOUGHT…

I am smart, that’s for sure. I can talk and write. In fact, I am even better than those HR people that I’ve met in the past months. Some HR folks, not all, do not even speak English well. With their grammatical errors, regional accents, P-F-B-V defects – these were the things that I encountered, suffered and endured in the process of looking for a job. Obviously, I’ve missed my target most of the time.

Partly, it could be me. I might have been arrogant, braggart or too intimidating during the interview. Perhaps they saw an attitude problem in the WAY I answered their questions or in the MANNER of my reactions upon hearing those flawed questions.

But a great part of it is not due to me. There were mismatched instances where I was called in for an interview or exam and in the process, the HR staff would discover that my credentials did not fit for the job. It happened twice.

THE SEARCH CONTINUES

I am still on the look out. I still spend three hours everyday looking for a job online.  At this point, I can’t afford to be emotional or onion skinned. It’s humiliating and at times degrading but I have no choice but to continue living. I thought I’ve experienced the lowest of the low but nothing beats my condition right now. This is a continuing nightmare and I am suffering.

There were funny moments during this whole process and I have embraced them in order to keep me sane.

I am still searching.

ADDENDUM

Finally,  after almost seven (7) agonizing months, my search finally ends. As of press time, I already secured two job offers coming from a promising start-up airline company based in Koror, Palau and the other one from a food/beverage company whose presence in the country spans more than three (3) decades already.

This is the kind of ‘problem’ that I most welcome. Confronted with two opposing choices, I really have to address every issue, angle and even hidden opportunities that each option offers.

The new airlines/carrier offers an economic package paid in US dollars. The planned destinations, even the hub, are to be envied: white beaches of Koror, theme parks of Gold Coast (Australia), the metropolitan Taipei and of course, Clark which is closer to home. The layovers are more than enough to enjoy what these cities have to offer. The downside is that this company’s future is still to be written in aviation history. Typical of a start-up company, everything is picture perfect but my experience says otherwise.

The food/beverage company pays in pesos. Compare to the carrier, the economic package is a pittance. But this company offers long term employment, even a good retirement package. The position is a new one (new department) and I’ll be the first manager. As for work pressure, there’s none since I will be setting the bar/standards. I’ll be my own boss so to speak.

DECISION

I haven’t made up my mind. I have two weeks (this October) to decide. I am praying for guidance so that I choose the right company.

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 6 Comments

I’m Back

After 4 years of hiatus from blogging, I’m now back to my first love…writing.

Reading my old posts is a bittersweet experience. Thanks to wordpress.com, the world knows how miserable my life was four years ago. Now, it’s back to normal.

Normal means back to flying…working for a company that provides generous package and doing something which I don’t consider a “job” at all. I’m now with the country’s largest airlines and I’m glad that I made the right move. What do I do? Training and flying. These two words summarize my job description as a cabin crew supervisor. I love seeing new faces and “feeling” their passion as they sit down in class and listening to the instructor explaining what flying is all about.

I treasure the experience flying with seasoned crew and newbies alike. I miss it and now I am reliving my  “childhood dream” (and trying to catch up on the tons of things that I missed).

Normal means having the freedom to do things without scrimping. In short, financial freedom. Being given the opportunity to rejoin a top notch company is like winning a lotto. Thanks to a friend who persistently coerced me to “go back” and “go through the process,” I (though this is hard to accept) think he is right this time. Big thanks!

Normal means laughing out loud and really feeling how happy it is to simply laugh. I do this every morning on my way to work.

Looking forward to your next flight.

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Summer Rituals

Summer is for kids. I can't help but flash a genuine smile on my face as I relive my summer.

It’s summer in the Philippines once again. Temperatures soar past 33 degrees Celsius and with it, summer rituals come to life. People, from pedestrians to pedestals, are abuzz with rituals unique to the season. The indelible mark of summer starts when temperature changes, literally, from cold to hot. Humidity is at its highest during the months of March, April and May. Sweltering heat is felt at this time and the menacing El Nino wreak havoc to the countryside destroying crops, drying up river beds and dams. Depending on how one looks at summer, it can be both boon and bane.

Summer marks the passage to manhood for most pre-teen boys in the country. With his father (or mother) in tow, these scared looking boys troop to the clinics for circumcision. They take advantage of the long school break to undergo this de rigueur as dictated by their custom and belief. Just like the rest of these lads, I was also circumcised at this time many summers ago. After summer, I was no longer a kid according to popular definition and belief. With mischievous grin on my face, I was now a young man I said to myself.

Most people head to the beach to have their tan (at least for the rich and vain) during Holy Week, which generally falls during summer. Popular beaches are teeming with people making beach combing next to impossible. It’s more like a fiesta with fluvial parade in honor of the patron saint. Ancillary to this “beaching” activity, gyms are teeming with gym rats trying to shed some unwanted pounds before displaying their curves and muscles in their swimsuits and board shorts. Constant pounding is heard in various cardio machines and weights until closing time.

Kids and teens have their grand time enjoying the long school break. Parents enroll them to different sports clinics/workshops hoping to acquire additional skills outside school. Some parents, on the other hand, take this opportunity in order to compensate or augment (depending on the case) academic deficiencies/skills which their kids are wanting/lacking. Summer classes are offered, squeezing one semester of classroom hours into two months. College students take advantage of this summer class in order to earn advance credits prior to school opening in June.

As for me, summer reminds me of my childhood experience in Iloilo. Back then, my mother or aunt would tag me along to the province.  They would introduce or re-acquaint me with my folks and cousins. I immensely enjoyed the “Maytime” flower offering that we did in  honor of the Virgin Mary. Songs and prayers were offered to Her in simple ceremony attended by old people, the “manangs”  as we call them. Fiestas abound during summer. I remember we would go to different barangays because we were invited by a ‘relative of a relative’ to share and partake the local food they prepared just for the fiesta. It’s a grueling process for me because I never enjoyed it.

Summer is for kids. I always have fond memories of summer, never a dull moment. As I relive my summer, this time as an adult, I can’t help but flash a genuine sweet smile on my face.

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Midlife Crisis

A couple of years ago, I met a friend who was in a dilemma. Having worked for more than 15 years for a multinational company and achieving the top post that he could possibly imagine, he suddenly found himself at the crossroad of his life. Back then, he didn’t know what to do next.

I couldn’t fathom this ‘strange’ situation that he was embroidled in. What could possibly go wrong for someone who has practically everything in life: stable job, blissful marriage, friends? I was naive. I didn’t know what it was until I came across these two important words “midlife crisis.”

I now fully understand what my friend went through because I am now in that same situation.

According to Wikipedia, midlife crisis is a term coined in 1965 by Elliott Jaques and used in Western societies to describe a period of dramatic self-doubt that is felt by some individuals in the “middle years” of life, as a result of sensing the passing of youth and the imminence of old age. Sometimes, transitions experienced in these years, such as aging in general, extramarital affairs, menopause, the death of parents, or children leaving home, can trigger such a crisis. The result may be a desire to make significant changes in core aspects of day to day life or situation, such as in career, marriage, or romantic relationships.

Perhaps I am in the “middle years” of my life that is why I feel this transition stage. Definitely my youth is in the ‘past tense’ and aging seems to be nearing the ‘present tense.’ The thought of it gives me shivers. I thought I was immortal, immune from everything but the tell tale signs are already showing. My patience wears thin every so often. I couldn’t stand long nights. I become more introspective, not to mention, religious. I began appreciating long home stay and quiet moments. Reunions, be it with my family or classmates in college or high school, appeal to me. I am now careful about my diet. I restrict smoking and my alcohol intake. I now feel body aches which were not there a few years back. I am oriented towards issues which I zealously espouse, unlike before, I was non chalant to everything. I have been reflecting and reassessing my life for the past couple of months.

I am not saying that I have dilemmas right now. Nothing of that sort. These changes physiologically and emotionally have made me wise and careful. As they say, wisdom comes with age and I gladly accept it. Perhaps seeing my friend went through a midlife crisis helped me overcome what I am facing right now. I was made aware early on in life.

My friend is way past this ‘crisis.’ He has made his peace.

November 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments

My Packing Life

Not the F word.

All my bags are packed and ready to go. Male cabin crew of Singapore Airlines.

My job entails me to travel every so often. There are times when I am forced to stay overnight in a hotel and get that much needed respite before traveling again back to home base.  Unlike the rest of the “working class,” I work inflight. It’s literally a menial job and between work shifts, I enjoy my set meal and coffee at 30,000 feet. The view is priceless.

My life depends on my cabin luggage and suitcase. All the things that I have packed in my two bags dictate my actions. These items include (but definitely not limited to) the following:

  • One set of extra uniform – this means that I have fresh clothes on my flight back to home. No uncomfortable feeling moving inside the cabin knowing the I may smell sweaty and acidic.
  • One set of casual clothes – so that I am decent and appropriately dressed when I do my window shopping and ‘walking tour’ of the city where I stay. Of course, I want to be fashionably dressed when I do bar hopping and clubbing at night.
  • Toiletries – at least I still feel ‘homely clean’ after each shower. I do not use hotel toiletries normally (unless it’s the same brand as my toothpaste, mouthwash or soap).
  • Rubber shoes are my basic footwear. An extra pair of leather shoes will do but it occupies so much space in my suitcase.
  • Slippers are optional. Outside of my hotel room, I have my reliable black rubber shoes.
  • One set of underwear – the most important item in my list. I can’t imagine wearing side B the following day.

Having these armada in my bag secures me from any untoward possibilities where I need to look ‘right’ for any occasion that requires me (or by chance) to be there. Absence of an item in my list makes me jittery knowing that I lack something valuable (or a similar feeling).

Wings

At 30,000 feet under a good weather, the view is priceless.

Over the years, I have mastered the art of packing. I have tried (with equal amount of success and failure) to pack my stuff neatly organized with the idea of saving space so that I can put more. I already did the rolling method, vacuum/airtight style, compartmentalization, process of addition and subraction, subsitution of big items to small items with the same purpose and use. Whichever is the most effective way for me, depending on the quantity of clothes that I have to bring, to put everything inside my bag – that’ll do.

In a scene from the movie “A View From The Top,” Paltrow was seen flying, back and forth, to Paris. Being a cabin crew was her dream job and Paris was her ideal place. In the end, she got more than what she wanted. Having visited Paris for a couple of times, she outgrew her fondness for Paris. Realizing that being alone, spending special occasions away from her loved ones – these are the things that she sacrificed for her job. Her life was boxed in a suitcase.

All bags are packed.

Ready to go.

Sidetrip:

A new carrier is ready to fly soon: http://www.spiritofmanilaairlines.com

October 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

UP Pep Squad

September marks an exciting day in the UAAP calendar. On top of the championship series, September hosts the annual UAAP Cheerdance Competition. As tradition has it, this cheerdance competition is a tooth and nail fight between two universities: the great University of the Philippines (alright, I am so biased being an alumnus of UPD) and University of Sto. Tomas. Everyone, including this blogger, expected that it would be a close fight between these two erstwhile  rivals. To all UAAP fanatics’ surprise, it did not turn out the way everyone expected it to be.

FEU bagged the top prize (86.1%), Ateneo de Manila University came in first runner-up (with 83.4% even the Ateneans had a hard time reckoning this truth based on the reactions of the cheerdancers of ADMU) and UP came in UP Pepsecond runner-up (83.1%). Despite the result, I am still proud of what the UP Pep Squad did. They performed well, although a cheerdancer slipped during an attempt to do a pyramid. FEU performed better.

Looking at the history of the UAAP Cheerdance competition, the UP Pep Squad  won five championships (1999, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008), three first runner-up places (2003, 2004, 2005) and four second runner-up places (1998, 2002, 2006, 2009). Outside UAAP, the UP Pep Squad won the Busan (Korea) Cheerleading Competition in 2002, National Cheerleading Championships in 2006 and second place in 2007 National Cheerleading Championships. They also won the 2009 Cheerleading Asia International Open (Regulation Category) while placing third in the International Category.

Being relatively “new” (officially formed in 1993), the UP Pep Squad cemented its place in the collegiate cheerleading annals as one of THE squads to beat. The benchmark of creativity and innovation is always attributed to the pep squad from Diliman.

The official UP Pep Squad website is http://www.uppepsquad.com/

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

The Puerto Galera Tragedy

I spent my Holy Week in Puerto Galera with friends. I narrated my unfortunate experience with Villa Natividad Resort in White Beach, Puerto Galera in a similar blog (https://junacullador.wordpress.com/holy-week-ritual-in-puerto-galera/). The pristine waters of White Beach still continues to attract droves of local (and international) tourists but business establishments within the area have somewhat eroded and tainted what could have been a perfect summer vacation. Depite the downside, I still enjoyed the company of my friends and other people. I had fun basking under the summer sun and frolicking the shores every afternoon. The recent tragedy (sinking of Commando 6) in Puerto Galera involving the deaths of more than 10 people (mostly Filipinos and one Japanese) brings to my mind the scenario when we were inside the motorized outrigger on our way to PG. The boat we were riding was part of the Commando fleet (I just couldn’t remember whether it was 6,7, 8 or 9). As expected, the boat was jampacked. We were trudging the rough seas in an overloaded boat.

One of the "Brian" boats sank sometime ago. Now it's the Commando 6. When will they ever learn?

Year after year, the strait between Batangas and Mindoro island claims lives. One of the "Brian" boats sank sometime ago. Now it's the Commando 6. When will they ever learn?

 This practice of overloading is an open secret. Boat owners with their cohorts do not give importance to the safety of passengers. They do not even have the approved, certified and standard lifevests. What they have are lifevests which are not type certified by the responsible government authorities. They have 50 substandard lifevests for more than 100 people on board. There are warning signs posted/printed inside the boat. No Smoking and No Littering signs are everywhere but these are not heeded by both passengers and crew. The “captain” smokes while maneuvering the boat. Passengers smoke everywhere despite the smell of petrol lingering.

I am a regular PG summer ‘devotee’ having visited the place for the past 5 years or so (in fact for more than 20 times already) and nothing has changed. In fairness, only Super Ferry boats comply with government regulations. Prior to sail/departure, they conduct the safety demonstration on how to properly don the lifevest, similar to the airline practice. Small boat operators do not do this. Year after year, the strait between Batangas and Mindoro island claims lives. This could be avoided if only we prioritize safety over money. It happened in the past and I’m sure it will happen again. Incidentally, I used to patronize Brian Lines until one of its boats sank. I switched to Commandos because I thought their boats were a lot safer than Natividad because they were newer and bigger. After this tragedy, I am faced with a dilemma regarding which boat company to choose from given these horrible incidents.

I have here the news clipping regarding the tragedy.

May the souls of the kids and the ones who perished rest in peace.

ROOTS AND WINGS
Lessons from the Puerto Galera tragedy

By Cathy S. Babao-Guballa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:22:00 05/26/2009

MANILA, Philippines – Franco Eugenio, 3, and Anton Eugenio Cruz, 2, slept soundly, cradled in the arms of their yaya (nanny) Tessie and yaya Bambi respectively, as the Commando 6 ploughed its way through choppy waters.

It seemed like a perfect day for everyone on board the vessel. Many of the passengers were families, like the Eugenios who were looking forward to spending time together as they ventured on their first outing as a clan.

Ramon, Franco’s father, sat beside his parents, Franklin and Daisy, while Ramon’s wife Monique sat beside him, and beside her were the children and their yayas. Near the front of the boat sat Ramon’s younger brother, Carl, his wife, and their two children.

From the beginning of the trip, Monique said she had felt antsy about the trip. “I was counting the passengers as they got on board, checked for the safety of the boat. I kept looking around and asked the barker if the waters were going to be calm that day.”

Monique counted 40 passengers that sat across her, in a boat that the Coast Guard would ascertain later in an Inquirer news report was only allowed to carry 42 passengers and five crew members.

“There was just something unsettling about the trip…” Monique adds, “and the ferry’s engine would shut off every time big waves would hit it.”

And then, after about 45 minutes, approximately 20 minutes away from their destination, the passengers heard a loud crack, and the boat keeled over and flipped.

Worst nightmare

“It was your worst nightmare,” Monique relates. “The bags and the children… everyone just started to slip and then the boat just filled up with water”. Franco’s yaya had tried to hold on to him for dear life as they both sank but the waters were rushing like mad. Still she managed to grab onto a portion of his shirt, until the sheer weight of the water and her need for oxygen forced her to let go of his shirt.

Monique, on the other hand, was able to pull out Anton from the sinking boat, but it seemed like it was too late for the one-and-half-year-old toddler. Meanwhile, someone else had managed to fish Franco’s older brother, Paolo, 9, out of the waters and placed him on top of the boat.

The unidentified man, also a passenger of the boat, kept Paolo company until his mother and father could get to him. On the other side of the boat, Ramon had been trying to save his mother, Daisy, but to no avail.

Agonizing

The rescue boats came after 40 agonizing minutes. Franco’s yaya told this writer that if the rescue boats had come a few minutes later, they would all have been goners.

“The boat had already begun to sink by the time they arrived,” Monique says. Worse, as Ramon narrated in an Inquirer story recently, two boats had passed them by, he had taken off his shirt and waved frantically at them, but the boats did not bother to stop.

What have we come to as a people? Have we become so callous that we don’t help fellow human beings in need? How could those two boats have gone on their journey, having seen the sinking boat and knowing that so many lives were at stake?

And the people on those two boats even had the temerity to take photos and videos of the sinking ferry. I wonder what those people on the boat must be feeling now, knowing they have the blood of three innocent children and nine adults on their hands?

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

The Lion King

Prologue

A dear friend from the Middle East narrated this tale over a cup of coffee. We were discussing about life in general. In our discourse, he told me that he read this story from a magazine. This is how I re-tell his story.

The lion king...

The lion king...

There was once a lion who lived in a small pen in Mumbai Zoo. The lion’s appearance showed that he was not fed well. His skin was sagging and the bones of his rib cage were protruding. His mane was shedding. In fact, only a few patches of his dark brown mane remained on his neck. His diet consisted mostly of one kilo of meat a day.

One day, while the zoo keeper was throwing the meat inside the pen, the lion asked him, “Why do you feed me with a small amount of meat? I am the King of the Jungle and I deserve more?” The zoo keeper replied, “We all know that you are the King of the Jungle but we don’t have enough food to feed you more. There are other animals in this zoo which have to be fed with meat also.” The lion roared upon hearing this. He sadly accepted his fate.

After a month, the lion was surprised to see a crate being lowered in his pen. The zoo keeper informed him that Dubai Zoo bought him. He would be shipped to Dubai Zoo. “Alas,” the lion said to himself, “I’m out of this miserable pen.” He daydreamed of a nice pen with gracious portions of meat. No more one kilo of meat a day. It would be a paradise for him.

The lion was flown to Dubai. Prior to his release for public viewing, he was quarantined and treated by the veterinarians. His first meal was a heap of bananas.

The lion thought to himself, “I am on medication that’s why they are feeding me with bananas. Perhaps, I will be healthy after eating these bananas.” Against his will, he gorged everything in an instant.

On his second day, he was released from quarantine and transferred to his new pen. It was big and clean. It smelled nice too. He shared the pen with a couple of lions. When meal time came, a zoo keeper brought him another heap of  bananas. He was shocked and pissed to see bananas again. He looked around him and saw other lions being fed with big chunks of meat of all kinds. Being new to the pen, he was ostracized by his fellow lions. Nobody approached him nor dared to share his space. He was so puzzled about the whole situation.

He angrily asked the zookeeper, ” Why do you feed me with bananas? I am the King of the Jungle, I eat meat not bananas!” His fellow lions laughed to their hearts content upon hearing this.

The zookeeper stared at him blankly and said, “I know you are the King of the Jungle but your passport is stamped with a monkey visa. You’re a monkey here in Dubai and no longer a king.”

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment