Go not placidly amidst the noise and haste as you may be marked down for dead air. Avoid quiet and passive persons as they may worsen your insomnia. Walk a mile. Your life does not revolve around your workstation. Speak glowingly of the better customers; and heed well their advice, as you will learn to love them as the irate ones call.

Know what to do – and when, and, also, be wary of that annoying echo that sometimes gives some clue whenever you are being monitored. Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three may do if only for the joy of being petiks. Whenever possible, put people on hold. Be comforted, that in the face of all irritation and disillusionment, and despite the changing fortunes of time, there are always some incentives due to power hours and good metrics.

Remember the times that your biological clock is still normal. Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate. Whatever makes you fit. Know thyself. If you need help, avail of a supervisor. Exercise caution in your daily affairs, especially with those closest to you… That Avaya on your left, for instance. Be assured that floorwalking through the seas of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet. Fall not in love, therefore, as the promiscuous culture of the industry may make you jaded. Gracefully surrender the things of day life: the birds, clean air, the sun, Philippine Daily Inquirer- and let not the sands of time get in your lunch. Hire people of blind obedience. For a good time, call 09167706376, ask for Primo. Take heart in the deepening gloom that the pantry is finally serving sensible food. And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Sprint.

Therefore, make peace with your god, whatever you perceive him to be: your arrogant account manager or a machine meant to withdraw money from. With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal, the industry , cross your fingers, is here to stay. Apir!

*My apologies to Max Ehrmann and the National Lampoon

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I have always been a fan of Marvel and not of DC Comics. It seems though that The Dark Knight is better than any other superhero movie, from Stan Lee and otherwise.

TDK is not the usual pop-corn-for-kids adventure film. Not a superhero-whips-the-villain’s-ass action flick either. With all its intelligence and wit, you’ll enjoy TDK not because of its special effects or the characters’ costumes but because of the script and the performance of the actors.

To be honest, I don’t remember any good thing about past Batman movies and some of them I didn’t even bothered to watch. So expect no comparison here.

Without knowing that it was Heath Ledger, TDK caught my interest before when its trailer showed Joker. I actually thought that I should be waiting for a sequel of The Crow. I only knew that it was Heath Ledger when the screening date is already near and movie news websites are already buzzing about Ledger’s possible posthumous Oscar.

When I saw the film, though his co-nominees are also factors, I do think that Ledger really deserves such. Especially after I read the effort he did since the film’s pre-shooting.

Back to TDK, one thing I would like to assert is that I never saw this really as a superhero film. Batman is presented here more of an anti-hero. The title itself suggests that the title role is dark. The movie actually presented a possible “White Knight” in the person of District Attorney Harvey Dent.

The entire presentation of Dent, eventually Two-Face, in TDK actually debunks the idea of a superhero, of someone who is “pure” and “white”. For years, Batman, though not a lot of people know, already debunked the idea that “superheroes” got super powers. All Batman has are gadgets, wealth and machinery, remember?

Also, I like the way Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) threatened to leave Bruce Wayne if the mobile tracking computer will be used other than against The Joker. No other post-September 11 franchise Hollywood film made such a declaration of support for civil liberties. Wayne eventually redeemed himself after Fox followed his instruction whenever he is ready to resign.

The Joker’s psychopath-not-for-the-money-criminal is perfect. For me, he represents not the petty thieves who do criminal things due to desperation but the usual mad men in our midst. Those who hunger for more even though they don’t need it anymore. Though the Nolan Brothers may have written this one without such a concept. I can’t help but think that this particular Joker’s character symbolizes capitalist greed.

What balanced the too-dark-villain is the scene where not one among the two ferries’ scores of passengers, not the civilians who hates the criminals nor the convicts who sees they have nothing to lose if they’ll kill the civilians, decided to pull the trigger.

With such, TDK actually presented a good concoction of the real and the ideal, that the world has no rules but in the end, may the better idea win.

One thing that I need to air though is that this movie should have been entitled The Joker for two reasons: since it made me understand the villain’s character more than Batman and obviously Ledger outshone Christian Bale on this one.

Whenever someone talks about sexual relationships, it is somehow understood that it has all the three that I mentioned above.

Especially since most Filipinos were raised in the tradition of the conservative Catholic perspective on sex and relationships, our minds were somehow boxed into thinking that all relationships should be exclusive because it shall commence in marriage.

For years now, I have been a believer of free love. It is the belief that anyone can love (and most of the time, consequently perform sex with) anyone provided that; all parties are at the right age, it is done with consent and it is not incestuous.

Instead of thinking that all three “ingredients” are included, I present the view that those are actually three hierarchical stages of a sexual relationship. Though not necessarily literally, it is comparable to the three Hebrew words for love; Eros (where the word erotic came from), Phileo (the most common love) and Estorge (exclusive love). I won’t include the fourth word Agape (godly love) because of its religious uses.

Actually, looking at my concept closely, it is self-explanatory. All it takes is intellectual and moral honesty to really admit that it is what is truly happening in society. No wonder Friendster actually popularized the term “open relationship” and even trademarked the phrase “it’s complicated.”

Intimacy is simply about acting on your attraction. Everyone is attracted to a lot of people. All of us are infatuated, in a way of another, to other people. But unless we act on those attractions, nothing will happen. The first aim then is mutual intimacy. As a more common term, this is what we call as mutual understanding.

Commitment is the next level. It is actually formalizing that there is actually a relationship going on. It is recognizing the fact that both of you enjoys being with each other and commits that there is, in whatever way, some understanding of expectations and boundaries.

But having some form of commitment is not really being exclusive. Our hypocritical society only imposes that commitment is exclusive to being exclusive. But everyone has a friend who tries to justify having an affair with someone else while being in a commitment, right? Whatever their reason is, we must acknowledge the fact that exclusivity is something that is a notch higher.

I must admit though, in order to protect the usual preys from hustlers, given the Philippine context, all relationship should be considered exclusive unless there is an explicit understanding that it is not. I don’t want my views to be a weapon of the usual suspects for some breach of trust within their relationships. I refuse to use the term “infidelity” because of its moral undertones but that is another story.

In a lot of instances, the rush from plain commitment towards exclusivity is detrimental to the relationship itself. In tagalog, we call it as hinog-sa-pilit and  if it is not just rushed but forced, it will be a shotgun wedding that will produce another “unfaithful” husband/wife.

I must say though that it is still best to be in an exclusive relationship. It is the highest form of love towards another person. It is recognizing the fact that jealousy is not just an emotional thing but also mental torture.

But it is better to be honest and tell your partner that your attraction is not exclusive rather than fooling her/him that she/he is the only one you love.

The Philippine Senate led by its President Manny Villar and Minority Floor Leader Nene Pimentel recently filed a resolution seeking to convene Congress into a constituent assembly to change the form of government from unitary to federal.

I have always advocated charter change as the 1987 Constitution is not perfect. But for any constitutional reform not to be used to prolong this administration’s hold onto power, it should be made only after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation, ouster and/or, which is the worst scenario for me, after her term.

Aside from that, two of the most important phrases of the resolution is problematic; the terms “constituent assembly” and “federal government.”

It is somehow ironic that the resolution blabbers about decentralizing the powers as a pretext for federalism but the process itself is too centralized. For the process (and even the product) of any charter change effort to be relevant to the people, the people should be made part of it. In that case, I maintain that a constitutional convention is still the best method to effect constitutional reform. Best because it is better not just to constituent assembly but also when compared to the people’s initiative, which is a misnomer given the fact that its implementation in the present Philippine context requires a lot of traditional politicians’ intervention.

The most substantial problem of the Senate resolution is that it banners federalism. Federalism is not a panacea and not even a band-aid. For a system to truly work, we must take into consideration everything that will affect the system.

Federalism in the Philippines is being equated to decentralization, a term which is somehow nice to hear as it connotes that something is being too concentrated and it should be scattered. In Pimentel’s mind, one of the most staunch advocate of federalism in the country, this is about power and resources. This is where the phrase Imperialist Manila comes in.

We can’t argue about the fact that for long years already, our national government has been Metro Manila-centric due to its vast base of electoral votes. It is a political culture that tends to prevent the development of the provinces, federalists would say.

But “decentralizing” the power from the national government to the local governments could not be equated to an automatic development of the provinces. Given the situation of local politics in the Philippines, it is just like decentralizing the powers of the Arroyo’s, Marcoses, Cayetano’s and Estrada’s to the Ortega’s, Singson’s, Osmeña’s and more surnames of political clans.

Aside from this problem of political dynasties, most of the local governments in the Philippines is too populist in the negative way. I must agree that for some instances, populism could be positive as it could be tantamount to just doing what the masses want.

Because statistics is not a barometer for socio-political righteousness, populism has its negative side and it is having decisions that may be popular but is not right. It is like buying a hundred boxes of Biogesics because it is very much in demand in your locality than purchasing a medical equipment to cure or prevent a more dangerous disease. It is prioritizing building a basketball court in a barangay that has a voting population of 10, 000 than paving a concrete farm-to-market road where only 500 people could see.

This is the power and resources they want to decentralize. And this could go from bad to worse as we count years of federalism if charter change will push through.

Just like parliamentary compared to presidential, a federal system could really be better than a unitary one. But given the situation that we have here in the Philippines, we should think twice.

Iron Man is a fairly good movie. But more than a film, it is propaganda.

Even before accepting my two bored officemates’ invitation to watch the movie yesterday, I already expected it to be a part of the United States’ arsenal of lingering psy-ops Hollywood films.

The only difference is that, I expected the movie to be anti-communist just like the Marvel Comics version of the superhero. It turned out to be more of anti-Islamic obviously in the context of George W. Bush’s war-mongering adventures. The social commentary against war corporations is a mere sugarcoat. Lockheed is not wounded.

Still, as I said, the movie is nice in terms of entertainment. The script is snappy and Robert Downey’s rendition is even snappier. Tony Stark’s happy-go-lucky but intelligent character is tailor-fit for Downey. Even Stark’s signature unorthodox ways and pleasant surprises is well projected in the movie.

I am somewhat puzzled though why Pepper was reduced to a minor and Gwyneth Paltrow would agree to such a role. May be Pepper’s character would be build-up for the part 2 of the movie. Stark’s open-ended media confession that he is Iron Man suggests an obvious sequel. The film’s too much tinkering on the armor could also be blamed on this as the director might just be planting details for the sequels.

In the end, Iron Man is just another superhero movie franchise; meant for profit and power just like Stark Industries and Lockheed Corporation.

Isabel Martin, President of the Linguistic Society of the Philippines (LSP), opined that Filipinos seem to fear the English language. She cited the “nosebleed” jokes and extreme legislative measures that tend to make English the primary, or even the sole, medium of instruction as evidences that indeed, the Filipino people, in general, is afraid of the Western language.

I cannot disagree with this expert opinion. I think that Pinoys, actually, tend to fear the language because they think that it is something superior than the Filipino language. It is somehow a kind of slave mentality because of our nation’s history of colonialism. This belief has two directions; it suggests that English is something that we shouldn’t try because we’re not capable of mastering it while the other tendency directs us to study English in order to become superior.

Even worse is the other extreme of it which is false nationalism as indicated by some Filipinos’ assertion that speaking English is tantamount to betraying the country. I have to admit that I am amused every time I watch Jimmy Santos’s carabao English on TV but this kind of humor actually contributes to the problem. Erap, during his pre-presidential campaign binge actually capitalized on his supposed English-baluktot which seems not to be really true or was just bloated to support his masa image and his para sa mahirap slogan.

English should be treated just like any other language. It should be used when necessary and should not be forced when not.

Ateneo Professor Nanette Fernandez has an interesting piece about this topic. The founder of the Ateneo Center for English Language Teaching said that Philippine English has its distinct and acceptable characteristics like the use of certain phrases that purists might consider as incorrect like “cope up with”.

I must add that Philippine English has different definitions for certain words (like “traffic” and “salvage”) and even has words that only Filipinos seem to use (like “ballpen” or “ref”).

The concept of countries having their own ‘nativized’ versions of English should be propagated so as not to drive away Filipinos from learning it the easier way. Not unless you work in a call center or any other industry that requires immediate communicative understanding, learning American or British or Australian English should not be forced.

It is sad to note that when the Janina San Miguel-incident happened, a lot of people bashed the beauty queen regarding her wrong grammar and pronunciation instead of the apparent non-sense that she blabbered right there at the pageant where she supposedly won. More insulting is the fact that some of those who lambasted San Miguel in Youtube even has a grammar worse than Janina.

I do think that the aim to improve English, both as individuals or as a nation, will always be a good thing to do if it is founded upon the principle of greater understanding and social progress and not on the assertion and imposition of who is the greater and who is the lesser.

Several warnings, from word-of-mouth to text and email, about the dangers of consuming processed food in general and instant noodles in particular seems to be ineffective to me. My appetite just has some kind of an addiction to such types of food. And add to that my lifestyle which sometimes require me to eat in a 12-minute eat-and-run fashion.

And because I saw at Hi-Top that the more affordable Yakiudon (only at P17.50) could be an alternative to my favorite Yakisoba, I bought a cup each flavor and tried it for the next three mid-shift hunger at the office.

I must say that except for the Garlic Chicken variant, which tastes like garlic rice if not for the obvious noodle texture, Yakiudon is really a good buy. Though nothing can beat Yakisoba’s Spicy Chicken, Yakiudon’s Beef BBQ (the sweet one) and Chili Crab (the seafood variant) flavors are good enough to be considered as alternative especially that most of us are slowly learning the value of economy in these trying times.

I hope that the next time I visit the supermarket to buy several cups of my new favorite instant noodles, it would still be affordable as the price of rice tends to pull all food prices up.