Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Needy People and Discipline

Adults who need constant validation are like needy children who have not fully developed into maturity. In this case, they need understanding.

However, when one needy individual crosses the line to bear false witness against another just to feel good about him/herself or for whatever skewed motivation, then this must not be condoned by matured adults who know better. Bearing false witness on another human is a grave offense in any moral code, even in the Judeo-Christian tradition. This act violates the rights of another human to dignity among peers and the community at large. This must never be condoned otherwise, when good people stay passive and tolerant of such wrongdoings, they do irreparable damage to the needy person.

The best way to discipline them is through show and tell. It is never our place to smite them with "lessons." We are not God or gods. Meaningful realizations are made through self-examination and discovery rather than outright sermons on the wrongness of their thoughts and actions. Consider it "tough love" and we will be doing them a favor as we want to help them grow into well-rounded, well-adjusted and adaptable individuals among peers and in fellowship with humankind in the community of humans.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Where everything is temporal, happiness is not a free for all

Some people just don't get it. In a cut-throat world where survival does not mean a throwback to the fittest of prehistoric hominids at the early stages of our evolutionary ladder, a quid pro quo culture is necessary. When you need something done, it is essential to give in order to receive. An important facet in the social mechanism of cooperation is loyalty. Now this aspect is a throwback to serfdom, a remnant of the time when land and warlords ruled over subjects, but transposed minus the tyrannical nature of subjugation. Nonetheless, one of its dynamic components stays the same. Loyalty has a price, and the premium has to be paid.

My friend and I have a term for this social currency. We call them "brownie points." They are tokens to be given out as much as collected. When helping out a friend, a colleague, a family member or even an enemy especially in critical situations, you earn from that person a brownie point. This of course works conversely.

Situations for this meme are always diacritical, that is subsumed rather than being the social context itself. For instance, the work we put in for the salary we get is bound by the contract of our employment. In this case, we cooperate by default and thus we are required to be loyal to our employer. However, when we go the extra mile that is beyond the fine print of our job descriptions, we earn brownie points from our employer that may be redeemed at the next round of promotions or through putting in a kind word at our defense when office politics go awry.

Like any meme, a high EQ is necessary for the social component of loyalty to work. The key is sensitivity. Be insensitive and you'll see people shifting allegiance elsewhere. This is also to say that by usurping the loyalty of others to you, you'll end up hated like the tyrants in history. And this is where the title of my post kicks in. We have come to a point in our evolution where we recognize that our interests are inextricably bound to others. It is a civil obligation to look after the needs and wants of others, who in turn look after ours. This pragmatic tenet still holds true. In realpolitik, the state of happiness has never been a free for all. It is, like loyalty, earned and in equal measure shared.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The key to surviving relationships

Today, a rant. I was ticked off at a color separation shop owner yesterday. I got her text at 11:23 am asking me to re-send a file for negative outputs. She said the graphic image was truncated. My first thought on the "supposed" file problem was that it wasn't downloaded properly. I held back texting her with this initial assessment until I myself have double-checked what I sent.

Even though I was on my way out to attend a meeting at 1 pm, I had to go back inside the house, sit in front of my computer, boot it, log on to the internet and my email, download the file attachment and open the downloaded file. The image was whole, no cuts, not even a nick, no nothing, no problem. The file was okay. So, I forwarded her the same email with the same attachment and texted that I downloaded and rechecked the file and found nothing wrong with it and to please completely download the 33.3mb size.

She replied with, “Okay, I’ll try again.” Well and fine for me. I wasn’t even halfway out of our street, a lapse of about 2 minutes, when she texted back, “Is it possible for us to meet halfway and handing me a cd with the file. It’s taking long to download.” What the heck? So I answered back, “I’m out. I’ll be in a meeting the whole afternoon. I was able to download the file in 5 minutes and I’m not even using a high speed broadband connection. Can’t you do anything about it? I’m sure there are internet shops near you.” And then, she called. I rejected the call at once and texted, “I’m out.” And that was the start of my Tourette’s episode yesterday.

Of course, I did not spew curses and expletives at her. What I texted her was, “The situation will only be MY problem if the file is broken. IT IS NOT. Your internet connection is the problem. That’s YOUR problem, not mine. Find a way to download the file and solve your problem. It’s your work and business, not mine. “

To vent my anger, I exchanged texts with a friend who owns a printing press and also knows the person. This is the Tourette’s version, “Leche! Bwisit! Punyeta siya! Problema ko lang yan kung hindi maayos ang file. Nag-double check na nga ako para sa kanya kahit male-late na ako sa meeting tapos may gana pa magtext na mabagal downloading niya at kung pwede magmeet half way. Tanga sya? Leche! Gawan nya ng paraan na ma-download nya, no! Bwisit! Pasensya ka na ha at napaglabasan kita ng inis ko. Wala lang talaga akong pasensya sa mga tao na nagpapasa ng problema nila sa iba. Kung problema nya yung internet connection nya, bakit nya ipapasa sa maayos na file at sa akin? Problema ko ba yun? Trabaho nya yun ah! Negosyo ba talaga hanap niya?”

This is how civilized people go about it. We never confront other people, who are not our family, friends or lovers, with unrestrained emotion and outside the confines of logic. It is not right. We do it behind them. That was how we were taught, which makes sense because it keeps us from being at each other’s throats.

In the end, she was able to download the file properly by whatever means it took her, it does not really matter and I do not really care as long as she did it. Good for her. And the brilliance of this socially constructed formula in resolving interpersonal issues is that there were no cuts or nicks in our relationship at the end of the day.

I think the way to handle relationships in life is such. When an error is made between you and another person, whether significant to you or not, you find the cause and resolve the problem. Behind them, you rant and vent just to keep anger at bay. Then you face them squarely and you reason with them, you compromise with them, and then, if the odds are really against you, you compromise more.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just another day, today

Note: While de-cluttering, I found a piece of paper with this written on it. I wrote this in 1995 -- a sort of journal entry and a snippet of how I was back then. My maternal grandmother, Lola Auring who features in the post, died in 1999. My father suffered a stroke in 2000 from which he recovered and a second massive one a year later. Half of his body is paralyzed and he is bedridden now. In November 2011, he suffered a third massive stroke. He is still in coma now but his vital signs are stable and we are able to provide home care for him. On August 24, 2012 at around 5:00 PM, Tatay died.

Just Another Day, Today
Kyn H. Firmalino
November 1995

Specks of dust swirl with bright yellow light streaming in shafts through the window of our dining room. On a mid-November morning, it hardly rains. I can see the sky is clear, light blue interspersed with puffs of cotton candy-like white clouds.

Maya capras, those house wrens, chirp incessantly in crescendos while perched on the branches of our kamias tree outside. Some have dried grass straws in their beaks as one by one they fly to a corner of our window's awning. To the right side of our front yard, one sturdy coconut palm has grown tall. In the fourteen years we have been living here, its gait has slightly leaned with the elements.

Lola Auring, my grandmother, is calling me now. She always does at around this time. It is just past seven and she invites me to breakfast. My mother has just walked in from our kitchen. She also calls my attention as we both settle in our seats.

With us in the dining table are my six year old nephew, Oweng, and my five year old niece, Justyne. At around this time, my sister and my brother-in-law have already gone and are approximately halfway to where they work. My father, who retired from a long corporate career five years ago, has yet to return from his daily tennis tourneys with his neighborhood kumpares at our subdivision's sports center.

As it is typical in our traditional society, I live in an extended family. My elder sister and her family lives with us. My maternal grandmother also does. My mother's father died thirteen years ago.

Just now, my niece Justyne is asking me if the mayas always build their nests at this time of year. I can only answer, "I guess so but I'm not sure." Oweng, on the other hand, is being reprimanded by my mother for only eating pan de sal when there was rice and fried fish. She was telling him that he might get hungry before their mid-morning break at school. He answers back with, "Di ba sabi ni Jesus eat your bread araw-araw?" ("Didn't Jesus say to eat your bread everyday?") My mother and I look at each other while trying to suppress laughter as she gropes to explain to this six year old nephew of mine the difference between the Christian concepts of the spiritual and the material bread.

At quarter to eight, I am walking at the street in front of our house. Being connected with an applied linguistics services outfit, I do not have any regular working hours. What I do have is an output deadline. This suits me fine as I am able to do most of my work at home. Today, I am going to deliver the translations ordered by a client.

With his horn honking tutot, tutot the taho vendor passes me by while balancing on his shoulders two stainless steel vats hanging from each end of a thin bamboo rod. A small kid is waiting for him at the street's end. Two teenage boys in worn out shirts, shorts and rubber slippers are pushing a wooden cart. They shout, "Bote, dyaryo, garapa!" -- bottles, old newspapers, metal scraps -- enterprising young boys in the buy and sell business.

I remember my friend Juvy. We have spent countless conversations on the difficulty of earning a living here in our country and the hows and whys of many Filipinos who opt to seek financial remuneration elsewhere. She is now in South Korea. Ironic about the situation is, although she works there to earn so she can live a relatively happy life, she constantly feels sad in yearning to come back home.

I am now facing the main thoroughfare in our village. From where I am standing, I can see the thin film of smog hanging over where Manila is to the south of this suburb where we live. And so, while I am waiting for my jeepney ride by this curbside, I begin to think. Life here is hard, as it probably is elsewhere. But we make do with what we have. And although I barely have enough in my wallet even for my jeepney fare, I still have my family, my friends and myself. For those things that matter most in my life, these are more than enough.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hi, World!

Hi, Blogosphere! I am still here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

To someone somewhere in Virginia or in that vicinity

I admit, I have searched your name in Facebook and visited your page. I have read your posts in anonymity hoping that I might have been remembered in some way. But your words and the spaces between them escape even one nuance to reference the fact that we were once friends. Your words only reflect a life devoid of our shared past.

I admit, I have been missing you since the last time I heard your voice at the end of the receiver excusing yourself not only from the call I made but from whatever connection we had. I admit, even if you call me an ass or a jerk, I would still consider you a friend. Even if you never really told me why after 15 years I suddenly was not yours, I would still consider you a friend.

But now I have to burn my end of our bridge with regret as I think it does not connect to anywhere anymore, although it can still be rebuilt. One of these days I might just get the urge to initiate contact once more since you really have not. For now, my pride has taken over the driver's seat. It is off to a direction not unlike yours -- it is on its way directly opposite yours. But who knows, we still share the same friends. There is every likelihood that our paths will cross. If that happens, I would go by feel and decide what to do right there and then. You see, despite my pride, I can never reject you as a friend. The most I can do is to archive you to memory.

Friday, June 5, 2009

From KABLAGged to KABOOMed!

For a while there, I and the mundane yet necessary things to do in life had a falling out of sorts. The indifference between us would have been just fine with me since I would rather have wanted to spend time on an extended vacation anyway. However, the last ATM I visited had started to bleep insufficient funds. This thoroughly snipped my mercurial wings and sent me crashing to the ground at that very instant. Now I'm wishing I had the unlimited resources so I would have the power to choose what I want to do rather than be encumbered by an endless checklist of what I must do. To LIFE who has put me in this circumstance, albeit a fluke (or is it all ME as the master of my own destiny?), touché to YOU (or to ME)!

On to a more colorful note, that last Baguio trip was, for the lack of a better descriptive term, "epic." We left early morning of Friday (29th May). It was raining halfway through the trip. By the time we were in the outskirts of the city, a thick blanket of fog was rolling in on us. But everybody was in high spirits. For crying out loud, we were laughing at even the most asinine of retorts. Well, the tears came a bit later after a clandestine escape at midnight in the falling rain and images of a dark, foggy winding road. Whodunnit? I'd rather not recycle the details of this story. As a very good friend said, this episode is better left DELETED. But for all its worth, and speaking among close friends who are privy to the facts, that was EPIC indeed! Let's do it again! I'm such a drama whore. Hahahaha... And, why not? That definitely spiced up our everyday lives. D'accord – Ach so? Notwithstanding, I so LOVE everyone of you guys!

The KABOOM part happened when we returned to Manila and at the very eve of my birthday, mind you. As this is an open secret to my clique of university and extended friends, all I can say is, para sa akin, it was a bonggang bonggang masigabong salubong of my birthday courtesy of my ever-caring and loving sistaz. Thank you one and all! Happy birthday to me...(and dare I say...) KABOOM! There it goes and yun lang po.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

To be godded over and still dawdling

30-Oct-2008, 4:52 PM

I finally found room for a breather and what better way to dawdle in it than to take on a point of passion, which is also my point of refuge. Writing is the eye of the storm around me. It calms and soothes me while ironically it also tides over the recharging of creative impulses.

It has been three months since I last wrote in this blog. Much of the reason for my absence of entries is rooted on earning an income. I, like I guess most of us, am godded over by the demand-economics of living. Work for me is a non-issue. I never considered graphic design as work because whatever requirements a client may have, I am but happy and willing to oblige. After all, it is one of my points of passion but only coming in at a very close second to writing. So, I am more inclined to think of graphic design as my income-generating skill and the entailing process as more of creative play than work.

Having said that, this is a snapshot of my schedule for the past week and from hereon in: Syngenta – packaging & brochures; Croma Medic/ Bausch & Lomb/ Santen/ Thea/ Kimia Pharma – various collaterals & creatives; Cathay Pacific – Marco Polo Club Qtr. 4 country update & 2009 table planner; Eventking – Dinos Alive! Manila banners, streamers & photo op standee; Eventking & Smart Communications – Smart Buddy Pacquiao - De La Hoya creatives & collaterals; and a variety of small projects in between.

Lately, I have been fascinated by oriental iconography. This is due in part to one of my favorite Korean dramas, The Great King Sejong, on KBS World (check their website for local schedule listings). I’m so caught by the Korean Hallyu (Wave). So, inspired by the traditional art of the Joseon dynasty, I rendered illustrations of stylized clouds and waves that I applied as textural background on the design studies I made for Cathay Pacific’s 2009 table planner.


Stylized oriental clouds graphic illustration by Kyn H. Firmalino © 2008.


Stylized oriental waves graphic illustration by Kyn H. Firmalino © 2008.

Which reminds me, Ms. Anna and Ms. Lynette, I’m working on the artworks & layout and I’ll be sending them to you for review shortly.

And now, it’s nearly time for me to return to the drawing board. In the meantime, I leave you Foals and Pizzicato Five (P5). They are on continuous shuffle in my computer’s player at the moment and they keep me good company. Olympic Airways is from the Foals’ debut album, Antidotes. This freshman album of the Brit lads from Oxford was released just this March.


Olympic Airways - Foals

On the other hand, P5 has been in the Shibuya sugar-pop scene since the early 1990s. The track here, called Baby Love Child, was released in 1994. Both are part of my soundtracks to life. Take a listen and you’ll understand why.


Baby Love Child - Pizzicato Five

P.S.: Thanks to the great writer from Stratford-upon-Avon for coining “godded” hence entering the term in our literary lexicon. Regarding “Writing on Furlough Redux (once more),” I was planning to place a scan of Turkish Afterthoughts in here but I have lost my copy. I have yet to go to the journals & serials archive section of the National Library along T. M. Kalaw to get me another copy. Yes, I know, imagine the thought of trudging to a dingy mezzanine on the 3rd or 4th floor and searching hardbound yet threadbare serials on rickety shelves while barely-concerned, barely-there librarians chatter away. I love it! For all its state of disrepair, you’ve got to hand it to our National Library. It’s got character. This sentiment is selfish, and I digress a bit, but I hope that place doesn’t change. So, I’ll write the entry for the “Redux 2” as soon as I have the copy in hand. Happy returns to all and live well. Now, scoot back to your drawing boards!

Friday, August 1, 2008

On rainy days, it's best to have Erlend Øye on hand

There is a lot to say about weather and moods. It has been raining for the past few days and I cannot shake off moments of wistfulness. I thought, I might as well go with the flow and put Erlend Øye on my player.

I have always loved Øye's works. The lyrical tone of his vocals reminds me of two other favorites, Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl (EBTG, with Ben Watt) and Mutya Buena. The simplicity in vocal composition and delivery pierces the soul then lifts it to heights of insights about your life.

The track in this post is from his 2006 side-project with The Whitest Boy Alive. I am presupposing that his main band is Kings of Convenience with Eirik Bøe.

Listen to the Golden Cage. It is one of my favorite tracks in their Dreams album.



Then listen to this remix by DJ Fred Falke. It is as brilliant as the original. Falke took the opening chords and turned them into a hook that he looped into parts of this wonderful electronica-synth remix while seamlessly keeping the clear lyrical tone of Øye's vocals in the original.



On rainy days, I would rather just curl up in bed and listen to Erlend Øye singing.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Work + Persephone's Bees = OTJ* Electropop Discofunk Fun

My work:





My soundtrack:




_______________
*on the job (OTJ)

P.S.: Writing on furlough redux once more, to follow soon.