Sunday, September 26, 2004


(Note: My apologies to those who may not be able to relate to this, as these are mostly commercials from the Philippines. Thanks.)

It's been ten years since you last saw your high school classmates! Ten LONG years! And tonight you'll finally get to see them again. Because tonight is your reunion! You're very excited to see your classmates again after so many years. You went to the reunion, full of expectations. As you enter the place of the party, you saw your former classmates, and as you approached them, even before the hi's and hello's, even before the beso-beso and kumustahan, the first thing that they asked you is, "San ka nagparebond? " What?!!! Honestly, is that the way to greet someone whom you haven't seen for quite a long time? I think a simple "hi" would suffice.

I grew up seeing all types of TV commercial; some are good but mostly are bad. Some are irritating and some are outright insulting. I know I'm not alone, there are a number of people out there, who like me, have been forced to watch these commercials which leaves us no other recourse but to scrutinize, dissect and criticize them. For the record, nothing still beats the famous sandals commercial then. Who could forget Criselda and her line, "Marupok ka!" That one is a classic! Now, they come in all shapes and sizes, forms and colors, with known personalities and some respectable even. Some tried to be serious and sensible, others really outrageous. The bottom line is, one way or another, they will catch your attention.

I liked the commercial of Karen and her Lolo the first time I saw it, I thought that was touching. But the more I see of it, the more I find flaws and the more I got irritated. If you noticed, Lolo never raised his head even once to look at Karen, maybe that's why he didn't know it was Karen. Who was he with in the first place? How did he get there without even knowing who was with him? Hamburgers are not served with a knife on that fastfood store, so how was he able to cut his hamburger with a knife?

I know commercials are necessary; they are the lifeblood of the TV shows. But when you see three youngster getting inside a taxi stuck in traffic and making hand gestures to the driver and finally getting off without even going anywhere and leaving their chewing gum in the taxi dahil wala lang! It makes you think that, companies pay big amounts of money to advertising agencies for these kinds of commercials?! SUCKERS!!! Really now, you deserved more! And definitely, us viewers and consumers at that, deserved better!

And I wonder why the MTRCB allows the airing of some commercials who show or even promote negative values. A vitamin commercial shows children teasing one child and calling him lampayatot! Which encourages children to call any skinny­ looking classmate, friend or anybody that word. And when you reached eighteen years of age, kaya mo na tol! You are licensed to get drunk! MTRCB allowed that?! And what about the health center doctor who prescribed detergent powder to her patients? No wonder there are no medicines in the health centers, because they use the budget to buy detergent powder instead of medicines.
The shampoo commercial did not end with the reunion though, again we'll see the girl meeting her would-be in-laws for the first time, and her fiancĂ©e’s sisters’ first words to her were, again, "San ka nagparebond?" Was that a good sign or a bad sign? Hey wait! Don't they look like her classmates from the reunion? Next, we'll see a man buying medicines from a drugstore. At first worrying that the medicines might be expensive but he has no choice because he needs it. Then, we'll see him realizing that the medicines aren't really expensive and that he can still buy pasalubong for his family. And what did he imagined to buy, CRISPY PATA?! Well, we don't really know for what illness does he needs the medicines for, but to match it with a crispy pata? How ironic, maybe we'll see him again going back to the drugstore buying medicines, because he will never learn.

The list would go on and on. And it will go on, because everyday a new commercial is born. Suckers..., I mean companies, would burn a hole in their advertising budget to pay advertising agencies who will conceptualize their commercials for them. No matter how BAD they are. And we, viewers, would have to bear with them because, as it is, we really have no choice. So just lay back, relax, and get yourself isang platitong mani. We just have to grin it and bear it, otherwise, magapatuka ka na lang sa ahas.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Real Life

There's less than three minutes left in the game, we are down by two points. Only one three-point bomber will win us the game. I know I could do it, I'm up to the challenge! I can take the pressure! If only I could have the ball. One shot is all I need. The clock is ticking! The game is winding down! One shot! I got to take it! If only I could have the chance! Ten seconds left! Still no shot! Five... four... three... two... one! It's allover! We lose by a shot. I saw it all. From start to finish... from the bench.

Maybe, I have watched too much of Mighty Ducks and other underdog movies. Wherein the most underrated, the most unlikely person, the underdog, suddenly rises to the occasion, perform a huge, almost impossible task, and stand-out as a hero. How many times have I dreamed of that? To be the main man! The real deal! Then suddenly, it snaps! I'm back to reality! The bitter reality! Where I am a nobody!

Well, I'm not really a loser. But honestly, I don't really feel anything near to that of a winner. I had my moments of glory, sure I do. But they are too insignificant! Nobody, even I, don't remember them. I have experienced defeats. Lots of times! I mean most of the times. Falls, frustrations, rejections, humiliations, name it! I think I am the exact personification of the word loser. Come to think of it, loser is not the word, FAILURE is the more appropriate term.

I failed those who believe in me. I even failed myself! That's why I often retreat in my own created world. A world where I am never a failure. A world where I can do anything that I want. A world where everybody looks up to me, where people loved me, where I am always a winner, a do-it-all, Mr. Reliable, the one who always delivers, where my mere presence brings inspiration to all those around me. A world where I am always safe and unharmed. Please don't touch me. Don't shake me! DON'T WAKE ME UP! I am about to be given a VICTORY RIDE!

How do you put out a fire?

How do you put out a fire? By dousing it with water! That’s right; to kill a fire you simply douse it with water. Now, how do you kill enthusiasm? Simple, by dousing it with water! Now, why and how you may ask, pour water on enthusiasm? I’m not really referring to physical water here, of course you know that. I used the analogy because enthusiasm is like a fire burning within an individual. People doused it with water by simply saying NO! STOP! THAT CAN’T BE DONE!

This is one of the most common management mistakes. Sometimes, an individual comes along with a new or an improved idea. Enthusiastically, he shares to the bosses, very confident that this idea would improve performance, cut costs, lead to better sales or really create big changes within the organization. But the audiences aren’t too keen on changes, they either dislike it or they fear it. For most old timers, changes may mean that what their current practices may no longer be acceptable no matter how effective they maybe in the past. And they can’t accept that, call it pride, call it ego, but for them nothing beats the tried and tested means.

Then there is the feeling of being threatened. These people with ideas may come on too strong for them, and they feel that they should slow them down before they gain their momentum. This is most especially true when the person with idea is young and new in the organization. “You just can’t barge in throw and your weight around!” This is the message that they would like to convey to the newcomer, no matter how good or excellent the idea maybe, more so if it’s a really good idea.

I have nothing against old timers, or management for that matter. And I’m not saying that all new ideas are good ideas. What I’m trying to say is all ideas are worth hearing. You may think that it’s just a waste of time especially if it’s a really bad idea, but think again, a bad idea may lead to a better idea. Someone has started a fire, don’t be the firefighter that would put out the fire. An idea, no matter how bad, didn’t come just for the sake of having an idea. An idea came out because there was something that needs working on, something needs to be improved, something needs to be solved - something needs to be CHANGED.

Enthusiasm, desire, drive, passion, motivation – seek for it from an employee, but be sure to be ready to support it. Be a bridge that would help them walk their way through, rather than being a wall that blocks their path. Remember that most great things that we have today – started from just a small, simple idea.

So how do you put out a fire? Simply by dousing it with water! And how do you kill enthusiasm? YOU DON’T!

Letting Go

Do you know how a child feels when he let go of a balloon that he loves so much? Or how it feels when you set a bird free, after you took care of it in its cage for so many years? Or of letting your fish swim in the ocean, after it has swam in your aquarium for so long? That’s how I felt when I left my son this morning in school, to join his classmates and teachers to go on a field trip. Of course, you might say that the metaphor isn’t right, because balloons, fishes and birds don’t come back. But my son will surely go home after the trip. Nonetheless, the feeling of fear and anxiety doesn’t differ… perhaps more intense.

Actually, this feeling isn’t really new to me. I felt the same way the first day that I left my boy in school. I was able to survive that, what would make a difference now? I don’t know, but as I was walking away this morning, frequently looking back, I can’t help but worry. Looking at him, so young, small and fragile, after all, he is only eight years old, in the company of absolute strangers, well at least to me. The irony of it all is that my son doesn’t show any sign of fear or anxiety. He looks so happy talking to his friends, mixing, blending, and loosing himself in the crowd, without even looking to check if I’m still there. Maybe that’s what I fear, to realize that my son can already take care of himself.

Ralph Emerson gave me my first taste of fatherhood. Everything that I know about being a father, I owe it all to him. Nobody taught me better than my son, as I walk through life with him, I learn new things everyday. It’s like seeing it all for the first time, through the eyes of a child. And now, he is teaching me again another new thing, that of letting go… too soon. Just when I thought that I was ready for anything that life can give me, now this. I wasn’t prepared for this, I don’t think I ever will be. Again, it’s too soon.

Like they always say, being a father is a tough job. You got to work hard, to be able to provide your children all their needs. You got to be tough, to be able to discipline them. You have to teach them to be good and God-fearing citizens. You have to guide them so that they won’t go in the wrong direction. You have to be tough, in times of trouble for them to feel secure. And you got to be good, to serve as a role model for them. Well, guess what? Those were the easy parts. You have to be tough, to be able to let go. To be distant when you’re not needed to be around. To accept the fact that your child has grown up.

Perhaps, the father needs the son more that the son needs the father. For through the son, the father develops a sense of confidence and a feeling of security. For through the son, the father has someone who sincerely looks up to him, through the son, the father has enough motivation that can push him through the hardest of times. And only through the son, the father can be.

Now that my son has a taste of freedom, he may like it. He may develop self-confidence, he may discover that he can take care of himself. When that happens, does that mean that I’m through? Am I done being a father? See? I told you. Nothing can make a father more secure than a child that he can be a father to.

You can teach your child lots of things. He may easily grasp some things, while he may have difficulty learning other things. But I think the hardest thing to teach is independence. Because for a child to be independent, you got to let him be independent. That means, no breathing over his shoulders, no checking every five or ten minutes and no looking back when you walk away. It means, you got to let go. Loosen your grip, cut that imaginary string, break those invisible bounderies. You got to let go. It means you also have to be independent from your child. Trust that you have taught him enough, that you have established enough foundation that could carry your child through. Move back and let go.

As I am filled with anxiety and worries about my son going on field trip, I am also excited in meeting him tonight. Back home from field trip, his first field trip. Seeing through his eyes, all the things that he has seen, and I’ll listen to him patiently as he tells me, perhaps with enthusiasm, all the places that he has been, all the things that they did, and everything that he learned today… without me.

September 15, 2000
4:27 PM

Share this post