Thursday, September 4, 2008

Only In Tokyo, Japan

… would you find buses and trains that run on the dot. If the timetable says it will leave by 7:53 and arrive at your destination by 9:07, trust me, it definitely will! Somehow they’ve nailed down the whole statistics and counting business right down to the very nano-second.

… not sure who came up with this idea, but I saw it first in Japan - a camera that only takes the shot if the subject smiles. Sony has this new technology called “Smile Shutter Mode” that can recognize a model’s smile and quickly churn out as many as six shots in a row. My friend and I stood in front of the sample camera and experimented with it several times, each time having more fun than the previous.

… where the school skirts are practically shorter than a teenager’s mini skirt... and not get harassed by strangers on the streets. I guess eventually you become immune even to shapely bare legs in flirty skirts and hot boots.

… where it is 100% safe even in public areas. I had about $1,500 USD in my wallet and 2 newly-bought Nikon SLRs while I was riding the train from Akihabara (the “Electric Town”) back to my hotel in Tokyo. Amidst strangers, I also felt safe enough to pull out and fiddle with my obviously new and expensive camera.

… wherein it is nothing unusual to see people of all ages, both male and female and in between, wearing costumes during daytime. This is more commonly known as cosplay.

… can people with huge pot bellies bow all the way to their waist. It's amazing, really. Not that I'm a mean person, but to pass time, I sometimes count how many times the group would bow during a brief conversation in the elevator.

... can you find a seemingly innocent character like Hello Kitty on the front of a vibrator or some outlandish sex toy. Sex is everywhere. It really sells, especially in Tokyo apparently. They even have video games wherein the goal of the player is to get the cartoon character to bed with you. Jeez, if they spent as much time trying to get real people to bed as they spend playing their games, their lives will be so much more fulfilling, physically at least.

NOTE: No offense meant to anyone Don't get me wrong. I had a blast in Japan. I just found these things VERY interesting.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Letter to Papa

A lot of you may know that my father passed away last Saturday, August 2 at the age of 66. His official report indicated cardiopulmonary arrest as the primary cause of death. He had been battling colon cancer, prostate problems and partial stroke for more than 2 years now.


Papa, I'm sorry that I'm the last one to cry. I just remembered feeling so bewildered and confused in the emergency room - I didn't even realize that you had already left us. I thought you looked so peaceful and not in pain anymore. Everything just seemed so surreal and so hazy.

I just concentrated on what needs to be done. I remembered crying while filling out the death certificate. Did you know that the form is colored blue? I never knew that until last Saturday.

Since you weren't vocal about what arrangements you wanted and we never asked, we took the decision into our own hands. We thought of what place would befit you the most. We finally decided on one of the newer funeral homes that has an excellent reputation of customer service and cleanliness. Despite the higher cost, we never regretted the decision to have the wake at Sanctuarium.

Papa, we heard that there might be some unnecessary removal of organs during the embalming process, so somebody had to watch over the whole thing. Can you believe I actually volunteered to supervise the embalming process? Me, the scarediest cat in the whole family! You know how easily spooked I am on those things. I can't even keep the dolls I received during Christmas after watching Chucky, for goodness' sake. But I have to say, it's not gross if it's you. I was just surprised when the embalmers turned you over - I never realized how stiff a body would get. Think Dilbert's square-faced friend, Asok.

Papa, you would've been exasperated with the series of choices, choices and choices we had to make. What color of casket. What type of urn to use. How big a room. Catholic or Buddhist. What clothes to wear. Cremation or burial. What day and time for cremation. Where to bury... I still wonder if this is intentional - so that we will spend our time thinking about these logistical issues and not dwell on the pain of losing you. We just chose what we think you'll like best. Do you like them? I hope you do.

Papa, you might see me put up a brave front and still look cheerful and even giggly at times. It's not that I'm happy. I just prefer to grieve in private. Contrary to traditional Chinese customs of crying ladies, I do not want the whole world to know how much in pain I really am. This is also exactly how I coped when my marriage fell apart. I try to smile even though I'm crying inside... and eventually, my smile becomes a real smile. I'm sure you of all people know that about me.

Papa, did you see the memorabilia stand we put up for you? Do you like it? We remembered to get your favorite bowling shoes and bowling ball, your bowling shirts (one club shirt for each day of the week!), your Rotary Club vest and your Coast Guard uniform. We even amassed all the pics we had of you and showed to the world what great memories we had of you. I hope we didn't miss anything.

Papa, did you see how many people came over to pay their respects? I never knew you were in cahoots with congressmen, senators, judges and fiscals! The whole fire brigade came over. Even the board of directors of Rotary Club of Paco and Mama's batch mates arrived by the dozen. Actually, my hands hurt from shaking everybody's hands. I just kept thinking that the line seemed endless.

Everybody had only nice things to say about you. They spoke about how generous you are. They also mentioned how much of a team player you are. I'm soooo proud to be your daughter.

Papa, Ralph misses you so much. Did you see how loudly he cried and shouted your name when you were being cremated? Every night he asks me when he will see you again.

Papa, where are you now? Can you hear us? Are you reunited with Angkong and Ama? Will you watch over us?

Please guide us and give us strength to go on. Please also let Mama know that you are finally at peace so that she won't be too sad. You are... I mean, were in so much pain for the past 2 years; I'm just glad you're not suffering anymore.

Papa, we miss you lots and lots. Rest in peace.


Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you planned:

Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

Friday, July 25, 2008

In My Own World

Translation (in Filipino): may sariling mundo

I feel like I (and the rest of the IT community in P&G) have our own little world. Funny thing is that we are proud of having our own language and customized solutions and what not - even if it's not recognized industry-wide.

This is what a normal life cycle of a P&G solution looks like.

A lot of people have tried to know what it is exactly that I do in P&G - tried being the operative word.

Friend: "You work in P&G right after college, right? So what do you do?"

Me: "I'm in the IT Department."

Friend: "You mean you work on computers all day?"

Me: "Umm.... not exactly... err... I run the operations of some SAP applications. Sometimes I lead projects for financial systems. Other times I do governance roles for our outsourced partners like HP and IBM."

Friend (silence accompanied by a blank and/or confused look)

Me: "Well, it's kinda difficult to explain...let me try again... umm...."

Friend (still the same blank and/or confused look)

Me (throws hands up in despair): "Yes, you're right. I work with computers."

Friend (expression clears and brightens): "See, I knew you work with computers. Let's get lunch."

Sometimes I wonder if I myself know what I'm doing in P&G. Don't tell my boss.

I have this belief that one should always keep his resumes updated, regardless of how much he loves his current job. However, whenever I try to put this into practice, I encounter the same difficulty. It is almost impossible to translate what I have done for the past 8 years into something that another IT person outside P&G would be able to understand. I usually just give up and just tell myself I'll update it when "the right time comes."

Sometimes I feel that my parents suspect me of having an illicit relationship with somebody based in the US. They do not understand why I have so many late night calls. Whenever I try to explain how people from different countries dial in to a conference number to discuss something, I just get a blank look from them. Sigh.

Who else but only P&Gers use words like align, f-up and learnings? I'm guilty of this as well. More and more, I find myself getting "procterized." I invariably use P&G lingo in everyday conversation and end up earning a blank and/or confused look from the other person.

Most of the time thought, I just end up not mentioning anything specific to my work anymore to non-colleagues. I just concentrate on talking about other universally understood topics - you know, normal stuff like what city you last travelled in during your business trip, what food you tried, what airline you took or how long the waiting time like.

No wonder I keep seeing more and more P&G couples cropping up. Sometimes only fellow P&Gers can actually grasp what being in P&G actually means.

Sad but true.

I wonder: Is this just us or are other companies feeling the same thing?

An Extreme but Fun Weekend

Last weekend I would say I swung from two extremes. I watched "The Dark Knight" on Saturday and "High School Musical: The Ice Tour" the very next day.

One movie is so terrifyingly dark and eerie - it actually took me a week before I could recover and blog about it. I was being treated for shock the past week (kidding).

The other is so cheerfully perky - if the songs weren't that great, you would've love to slap them silly and tell them to grow up and join the rest of humanity.

I endured waiting in line for almost an hour to be able to get tickets for the last full show (5 hours waiting time in total)! But honestly, this is one of those movies that would be difficult to not watch. Not because of the controversy brought about by Heath's suicide, but because deep in our hearts, we know that this will be a very distinct and unique Batman movie compared to others. It would be a shame to miss and watch it.

I honestly didn't notice that the movie lasted 2.5 hours. I was so riveted by Heath's performance that I was surprised it was already 1:30am. My favorite scene was when Joker gave the two boats the choice to blow the other boat up. For me, that was a test of humanity. I was ready to believe in the worst about the people. I was pleasantly surprised at the scene's ending. I think I would need to watch it at least another time to be able to fully comprehend all of the themes that were used in the movie - greed, justice, survival, love, self-worth... the list seems endless. This is NOT the kind of movie I would normally want to watch, but I still have to say it's an excellent movie.

Fast forward 12 hours after. My family plus a bunch of family friends with their kids are all super excited to watch Troy and Gabriella sing and dance and ice skate.

Even though I'm nearly in my thirties, I find myself enjoying HSM immensely. I was clapping as hard and singing as loudly as the other kids seated beside me. I can't help it! They were singing my favorite songs from HSM1!!! Breaking Free, Start of Something New, What I've Been Looking For and a whole lot more. There will always be a little kid inside me, wanting to be peskily and eternally happy. Aside from the face that Troy had a receding hairline and one of his classmates had a huge bald patch, it was money well-spent.

All in all, a very extreme but fun weekend. Not bad.