A proposal like no other

I came across this video in the middle of the night. And I cried.

And it made me feel happy. If you have friends like they do, you are very lucky. Please leave a comment below for the creators to see how you felt. And congratulate them.


A weekend at the hospital

Our little one, Maxine had to have her tonsils taken out. The doctors said they were ‘kissing’ and was a candidate for removal. Maxine snored like a chainsaw at night, and these two globules were the culprit. And so after a few consultations and many hours at the hospital clinics, we moved into Makati Medical Center


Day 1 – Got a text message from the Hospital saying that the room is ready and to check-in. Rossana was at work, so I took Maxine to the hospital right after lunch. Her apprehension was apparent, being quiet the whole time in our cab trip. After an hour of clearing with the HMO, we were brought up to the sixth floor and settled in. Fluffy pillows, small semi-private room. After the prerequisite nurses’ visit for vital stats and recording, we gorged on chips and ice cream. I wanted her to be as comfortable as she can and keep her mind off next morning’s procedure. Rossana took over the shift after dinner, and I went home to scrub off the sterile hospital atmosphere from my body and get some sleep.

Day 2 – at six, nurse comes in and gently wakes Maxine. She opens her eyes, the fear not settling in yet as she does not know what is coming next. Rossana tells her that an IV drip will have to be inserted and that she will be breathing in sleeping gas. At three years old, an idiot nurse stabbed the back of Maxine’s hand eight times unsuccessfully to get a vein. And that is pretty ugly for a three year old. So it was understandable that Maxine was scared now. At the pre-operating room, Rossana suggested I go in to help Maxine cope and appreciate that were there with her. In my scrubs, I whispered over and over in the operating room that everything will be ok. That we love her. That this is only temporary. She struggled quite a bit with the gas mask. It was painful for any parent to see their kid being subjected to all these kid-unfriendly equipment probing her. So Maxine held my hand tightly to see I was still there. Still there for her. Two minutes later she went under. I left the operating room to join Rossana and prayed that Maxine will be alright. We went back to the room and waited. Two hours later, we got a call from the operating room to come. When we got there, we found Maxine on her side, crying quietly from the pain.


We again whispered that we were there, touching her, holding her hand. Whimpering, she was escorted back to the room. And I rushed out to buy some ice cream. She had a few spoons, then promptly fell asleep. She cried in her sleep, clutching at the ice bag that was resting at her throat. She woke at sunset, not hungry, but we fed her a Slurpee anyway. A little past nine her favorite cousin Colin came. And she was more alive again. Her pain has lessened, and she went to sleep feeling a little better. Rossana went home and I took watch. It was going to be a long night.

Day 3 – After several bathroom breaks and broken sleep from the pain throughout the night, Maxine awoke with a smile on her face and said ‘Doodah, can we go home?’ She was smiling. After clearing with the hospital and the doctors, getting the prescriptions and the diet advice, we made our way home with her Aunt Gina. and we bought more ice cream. And she was feeling a little better. She developed a cough and cold at the hospital, but she was happy she was finally at home. Rossana was happy that all went well. And she hugged Maxine, and mommied her, and loved her. She had that same look when we brought Maxine home after being born. And that was the moment any mother will truly cherish, knowing that their baby is the center of the universe.

That was a long weekend.

Green mango in this heat?

I really can not stand the heat. I can bear the heat of the kitchen. But not the heat that summer brings. Especially this summer. It is so bad that there are many hours when it is too hot to move.

I tried many things to cool down. A few cold showers a day. Drinking lots of cold water. Even just spending hours in the mall. But it can only go so far. And you can’t get naked in a mall. My pee is bright yellow. Dehydration. Air-conditioning is a big drain on the electricity bill, and it really isn’t good for the environment.

It is now reported to be 39 degrees centigrade. Incredible. And 60% humidity is not helping. It just makes the heat fell more like a pin prick on every pore of the body.

I made a batch of green mango ice cream, since it is this time of year when green mangos are falling off the trees like hail stones.

So I made this simple recipe for the sake of cooling down. It’s easy, fast and a good way to take the edge off the heat even just for a few minutes. So here goes




Green Mango Ice Cream

1 green mango, peeled
300 ml condensed milk
600 ml whipping cream
60 gr white sugar
2 gr salt

  1. In a food processor or blender, pour in the the condensed milk and the chopped flesh of the green mango. Process for about a minute until smooth. Add in the salt and pulse for a few times
  2. In a bowl, whip the refrigerated cream with sugar until soft peaks form
  3. Fold green mango puree into the whipped cream until just blended
  4. Transfer to a ice cream container and place in freezer for two hours
  5. Take out of the freezer and whip with a spoon just to break up any ice crystals
  6. Serve very cold

How do you chill out? Please tell me. I’m dying here


Is a call center job for you?

I am not a hypocrite. Well, not all the time. To err is human. But I did for exactly 365 days take up work with headset on my head receiving calls to earn a few bucks. Yes. I did the call center gig. Among other reasons, the primary raison d'ĂȘtre was the bubble had to burst. Because, no matter how desperate you are, or how jaded you are, a call center ‘job’ will not live up to what you want in life. Call center gigs is not something to be proud of.

BPOs outsourced their customer relations strategies for just one reason alone: money. Because labor is cheap in Manila. And to earn a measly $300 a month as an agent saves a bundle for the overseas companies. This is one view.

From the employees view, they think they are working for an international company, where skills and communication are king. And to work in the commercial business district and calling your half a cubicle your ‘office’ makes you feel like you are on the prow of the Titanic. In a way you are. Tragic ending and all. Let me give you the reasons…

  1. You work with scripts. Set phrases and words that are supposed to be posted on a notepad on your desktop. And they are strictly the only words anyone is allowed to use. Quality analysts, team leaders and coaches listen in on your calls to make sure that you don’t get creative. This script is ingrained in the first two weeks, where each and every agent is taught how to speak English like an American. With the twang and drawl.
  2. Your ‘office’ is half a cubicle, which holds a desktop computer, a phone interface and headset. As an agent, you are not allowed to make that office your own. No family pictures. No personal effects. That is where you will be stuck in for 8 hours a day. Watching a computer screen endlessly, accumulating carpal tunnel syndrome and dealing with the frigid air-conditioning because the PCs are more important. So very loud woolen blankets with prints of Winnie the pooh and bright patterns are part of the uniform
  3. Your work is determined my numbers on a spreadsheet. You are graded and judged by both the customers and the internal Quality Analysts. These stats determine how aligned your mindset is with the company, in a more robotic drone kind of way.
  4. It’s like college all over again. The freshman year. Aforementioned stats are summarized by teams and posted on walls as an arts and crafts projects. Bulletin boards are plastered with cardboard, Styrofoam strings, markers and everything else except cheerleaders pom-poms. You have coaching, team huddles and Team leader and agent conferences. In the center I worked for, you basically have no uniform, pretending to have the Google culture.
  5. Incentives are incredible. Where else can you get a small can of Pringles and a bottle of iced tea as a prize for getting a perfect score in one customer survey (which is subjective, no matter how you see it)
  6. The extent of your customer relations is through phone. Never face-to-face. So being a jerk will not incur reprimands because the customer on the other end can’t do anything about it. Connecting with the customer is simply a digital voice that works a script to empathize and acknowledge
  7. You work with people from all walks of life. Gay, straight, corporate, hippie, yuppie, dirty old men, cougars. I even came across hookers, former doctors and nurses, singers and transvestites. Because of statistics, equality rules. And you meet hundreds of them throughout the tenure, since turnover is high
  8. Unlimited amounts of coffee. In the form of premixes. Convenient. Don’t have to deal with brewing another pot or waiting in line for a latte. Just bottomless dredges provided by Nescafe.
  9. It’s easy work. You sit on your butt for hours, in an air-conditioned room, play with your computer, take a few phone calls, and you get a pay check. No brain needed. Just scripts. And the tools that help make those scripts happen to get that perfect customer survey so you can enjoy this time a bag of chips and some Oreos.
  10. Office romances and politics are nil, so there is no chance of making a mess in your own backyard. Like I said, interpersonal relationships are by phone. As a trainee all you and your team member will be asking is ‘how are your calls?’

Call center work is really a stop-gap when you are in between legitimate jobs. It also is a dead-end. If you decide to make a career out of it, think about these things: If someone asks you what work you do, can you honestly be proud enough to say you work in call center? What happens after a few years of call center work? Do you advance? What skill can you get from taking phone calls that could land you  a real, if not better, job? And last, but not the least, did you really work hard through college just to answer phone calls for a living?



I think not.


Beeep! Wrong answer!

The past few weeks have taught me that there are two kinds of people: The ones who move forward. And the ones who rot themselves in mediocrity. And it was well pronounced in the many interactions I have had with Globe Telecoms that provide my phone and internet services, or the lack of it. But that is another post. A lengthy post that is worthy of the ears of the Department of Trade and Industry and any other broadsheet that matters.

Image courtesy of Global Leadership

What I am writing about it are the responses that tell me mediocrity rules in people who are only after their paycheck, themselves and indifferent to how the world still moves along, despite the narcissistic attitude of thinking it revolves around themselves. Many people have written about how mediocrity creeps into our interactions with the world. Biased or otherwise, being mediocre is not we as humans have evolved over millions of years to strive for. And yet here we are, taking this crap from ‘Customer Service Agents’ that do not know a thing about customer service and work in a cubicle calling their call center gig a job. This does not apply just to the call center dweebs. This applies to anyone who makes the mistake of uttering any or both of the two phrases that bring out the worst in me: ‘It depends…’ and ‘Pasensya’.

Now these two phrases are a product of laziness, of being safe, and, as mentioned before, mediocrity. And I will tell you why.

When I present a situation to you, in the form or a question, a theory, a hypothesis or simply asking for help on choosing the lesser of two evils, I look for a direct answer. Because most likely, for all intents and purposes, I have considered the pros and cons, and merely looking for a second opinion or an objective perspective from another point of view. But if you start your reply with ‘It depends…’ it tells me that you are trying to be a know-it-all, a smart-ass, a charlatan. Because you are unsure yourself of what the answer should be, so you utter those two words just to be safe. That you think you can wash your hands clean of all responsibility for any or all consequences that may come. A straight direct answer earns my respect and the possibility that I may need your help again.

Now Globe Telecoms is a different kind of monster. Numerous phone calls to their agents allowed me to conclude that 99% of them are morons who can’t get work anywhere else because their command of the English language and any interpersonal skills in English and Tagalog  are mediocre at best. And apparently, their supervisors, bosses and trainers all subscribe to the idea that ‘Pasensya’ actually does anything to placate an abused subscriber. ‘Pasensya’ essentially means ‘Have patience’ or ‘I’m sorry’. Done right, this phrase should be able to reassure anyone. To make them feel better. But uttering these two words to get that result, as evident by many from Globe Telecoms, can only be achieved by those who value human relationships. Have patience, the service will come back up as soon as possible. Have patience, this is only a temporary setback. Have patience, you will be fairly compensated for any inconvenience we may have caused you. Now that works. But people who are lazy, mundane, mediocre and of a lower class do it differently. The say ‘Pasensya’ to shut people up. They say ‘Pasensya’ because they don’t have the articulation to think up a reassuring response. ‘Pasensya’ is a quick response to say ‘That’s it. No more.’

So give me a direct answer. Don’t tell me to shut up. Follow through on what you are doing and saying. Speak to me with conviction. Be deliberate and with purpose. Know what you are doing, or give the work to somebody else who needs it more.

‘It depends…’ and ‘Pasensya’ never worked for anybody. The speaker of these words may live in the illusion that it accomplishes anything. You are right. It shows how mediocre you are. So don’t waste my time.