Sunday, April 23, 2006

For once, it's not a business trip!

Tomorrow I'm off to a week-long vacation in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It's the first time I'm going abroad with friends only, but the second time I'm doing so with Angie, one my closest and dearest friends (incidentally, it's her birthday today, and her graduation from law school =D). We were classmates in high school from 2nd to 4th year, and we were also blockmates in college. After we graduated from Ateneo we went to Bangkok with 2 other LM girls, Pia and Ria, but my mom went with us, although she only joined us for meals and a shopping expedition or 2, as it was a business trip for her.

This time around, Anj and I are traveling with her older sister Me-an and Anj's best friend Anna, a batchmate from high school. I'm looking forward to spending an entire week away from the daily grind at the office, although I'm sure work-related text messages and calls will still hound me in Singapore and KL. But I'm going to savor every work-free minute this vacation-- this honest-to-goodness vacation-- affords me, because who knows when I'll have another golden opportunity like this?

May next week stretch on forever. :)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

UAAP verdict on La Salle final... finally!

As if they heard me, the UAAP board FINALLY reached decision on the LaSalle case, and thankfully, it was the right decision (pats on the back all around!). DLSU has been suspended from participating in all sports events in the UAAP this coming season. Now that the verdict is final, I wonder what "move" LaSalle will make. Let's just hope they don't stir up a ruckus over the outcome and just accept it.

I'll miss watching Ateneo-LaSalle games this year though. :( For once I won't be frantically scrounging for tickets at the last minute. Sir Tirol said scalpers everywhere are committing mass suicide. Haha.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The wrong message

A misleading headline in the Philippine Star's sports section today reads, "UAAP verdict on LaSalle final", making readers think that the UAAP board has already made its decision regarding LaSalle's impending suspension from the coming season. However, the article below the headline says that the board is still in the thick of deliberations, and a board member has only issued a statement saying that whatever they decide at the end will BE final. In other words, LaSalle can forget about appealing, although the head of their Sports Development Office was quoted as saying, "Once the UAAP makes its decision, only then will La Salle make its move." Ooh, is that a threat? We're shaking in our shoes.

First of all, a swift kick to the behind of the editor who let that sloppy headline run. Second, smacks upside the head of each member of the UAAP board for dawdling in resolving an issue that exploded several months ago. What the hell is taking so long? And third, swift kicks to the behind, smacks upside the head, and a hearty "screw you" to all LaSalle officials who intend to protest and even sue if their school gets slapped with the suspension.

Ever since the UAAP board assembled to discuss the LaSalle case, I’ve had a sinking feeling the board is going to chicken out and renege on their proposal to suspend the Archers. Aside from the fact that they’re taking so damn long, there has been mention of concerns about drops in the UAAP’s ticket sales and TV ratings. Admittedly, it really won’t be the same without the “Gang Green” around to play villain/bully. Conflict adds to the thrill of the game, after all, and every blue-blooded Atenean knows the adrenaline rush that comes with screaming at a crowd of cheering LaSallite fans. Perhaps with this in mind, one of our most rabid alumni, Secretary Dick Gordon, who probably enjoys screaming at LaSallite fans more than most, actually sided with the enemy, decrying that a suspension would be too harsh and unfair.

To be thinking about monetary profits and cheap thrills when basic honesty and honor have been compromised is just plain disgraceful, especially considering the UAAP is a collegiate league that should be aiming to develop a sense of sportsmanship and fair play in young athletes, and the board is comprised of educators and priests. Beyond competition and rivalries and championships, this issue is one of morality, one where principles, not to mention the formation of our youth, are at stake. To dismiss the blatant wrong LaSalle did, to let them get away with just a slap on the wrist, is making a mockery of both the UAAP and the entire university system.

Making matters worse is that LaSalle is also handling this whole thing very poorly. You’d think that after this whole Benitez/Gatchalian scandal has marred LaSalle’s reputation as an educational institution, that they’d be more contrite. They actually were, initially. They offered to forfeit their championship titles from the years when they fielded Benitez and Gatchalian, and they even went as far as to voluntarily withdraw from this coming basketball season. But then they took it back it when the UAAP board pointed out that no school can participate in any other sport if it doesn’t have both a basketball team and volleyball team. LaSalle argued that it would be unfair to punish all its varsity teams for the sins of its basketball team, that it would be crushing the dreams of many hopeful young athletes.

Well correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought LaSalle was running a Catholic school, not a sports training camp. What is more important, encouraging students to excel in sports and go for gold, or teaching them morals like honesty and justice? Is LaSalle bent on producing outstanding athletes who can go the distance, or upright individuals who take responsibility for their mistakes?

The UAAP board should quit considering other less valuable factors in this matter and focus on the real issue at hand, which is quite clear-cut: LaSalle fielded ineligible players, and the rules state that this warrants a suspension for the following season. They did something wrong, ergo they should face the consequences. The rules also state that by virtue of the basketball team being suspended, all other sport teams will also have to sit out the season. Someone from the school did something wrong, ergo the whole school pays the price. It’s as simple as that. Is it harsh? Perhaps. But life is harsh, and that’s a lesson LaSalle can now teach its students. Is it fair? It depends. With regard to the other schools, especially Adamson, who was suspended before for a similar offense, it is fair. But if one reasons out that other schools are probably fielding players with questionable eligibility, then maybe it’s not fair. But setting aside harshness and fairness, ultimately, it is RIGHT. Sure, we’ll miss LaSalle, we’ll miss having an antagonist around, someone to jeer at, someone to blame for our sorry losses, the team we love to hate. But this transcends pleasure, malicious or otherwise. This matters more than ticket sales, championship titles or even school pride.

C’mon, you blasted UAAP board members. Enough with the dilly-dallying. Have the balls to do the right thing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Farewell falsetto, and good riddance!

At the risk of sounding like a bitter ex, I can't help but take a certain amount of contemptuous glee over Ace getting kicked off AI. Though my money was riding on Elliot this week, I didn't mind losing our weekly betting pool because the dorky Jewish dude has heaps more talent than the himbo heartthrob (never mind that he looks like Tumnus the faun from the Narnia movie :p). I was gratified that Yamin survived the cut, but I was also outraged that Chris and Paris were in the bottom 3. WTF?!? Paris put on the most faithfully jazzy number of the evening, and Chris... well, he's CHRIS! In the words of Daughtry's number one fan Fara: "Ano ba!!" Adding insult to injury is Pickler slipping through unscathed, when she gave the night's worst performance. On the bright side, Taylor is the only other finalist who has yet to land in the bottom 3. Entertainment Weekly has called him "the dark grey horse". I like that, and I'm really liking his chances. Soul Patrol! =D

Oh all right, since she's the only finalist I haven't mentioned-- I have to grudgingly admit, McPhee shone, but I just can't bring myself to like her. There's just something... blah about her. Or maybe it's because she's just too pretty. Either way, I won't be sorry to see her go. Heck, I'd rather keep the faun around for longer.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Worse for wear

After 3 days in Hong Kong, 4 days in Beijing, 1 unplanned day in Yangjiang, and 4 days in Guangzhou; after 4 flights, 4 long road trips, a train passage, and countless taxi rides; after shopping and window-shopping in 3 cities, and visiting Hanks, and dining with family friends and business associates, and meeting with suppliers, and attending the Canton Trade Fair, I’m just ready to collapse. But I have to suck it in and face 4 work days battling backlog and tying up loose ends from the business deals made during our trip, and THEN over the weekend I have to pack for Singapore and Malaysia. By the time May rolls around, either I will be refreshed from my vacation and ready to take on the several store openings and social events that await me, or I will look like a bedraggled, haggard old bag who is in no state to work or party.

Back to our trip. Hong Kong was the same fabulous city I know and love, and as usual we indulged in two of its most popular activities: shopping, and eating. On the former, I purchased several articles of clothing, one of which, a gorgeous white UWN jacket, was doomed to a dismal fate (read on to find out). Prowling the malls of HK also gave us enterprising retailers a chance to scope out what other apparel brands were selling and how they were displaying their merchandise.

Beijing was colder than expected, but I managed to keep warm despite not having packed any thick clothes (the secret is layers). Our hotel, the Crowne Plaza in Wangfujing, was a pleasant surprise. The Internet rates were quite reasonable so I didn't think the place would be all that nice, but the newly renovated rooms were posh and pristine, and even had flatscreen TVs! Hanks stayed overnight in our room during our last night in Beijing, and we stayed up 'til 3AM watching the National Geographic special on the Gospel of Judas (really, really compelling stuff, and eerily similar to Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ). The following morning, we treated Hanks to a buffet breakfast at our hotel coffee shop, then we had to leave for Guangzhou. It wasn't as difficult parting with Hanks this time around, because I've seen that she's already settled in and managing to survive Beijing. In fact she's managed to discover restaurants and shopping places I never went to or heard of during my stay. She's even taking a trip to Kunming and Lijiang with 3 friends over the Labor Day holidays. Besides, it will only be 2 more fleeting months before she's back home in Manila and I'll have a roomie again. =D

So like I said, we headed for Guangzhou. Or at least we thought we would be heading for Guangzhou. Upon arrival, a supplier picked us up at the airport and took us to their factory in Yangjiang. By the time we got there (after a 2-hour drive), it was so late we had to check in at a hotel there and spend the night. As I was unpacking my traveling kit and PJs, I got a whiff of a funny smell emanating from the suitcase. I dug around and to my horror discovered that what we had thought were two small flower vases Bens had won in a restaurant contest in Beijing were actually bottles of Chinese wine. The foul liquid had spilled out onto my brand new, yet-to-be-worn WHITE JACKET!! I freaked! When we got to Guangzhou, I had it dry-cleaned but some patches of ugly yellow stains wouldn't come out. :(

Then I had another wardrobe disaster while visiting another factory. The bathroom was vintage Chinese, meaning it was a stinkhole in the ground, and I was concentrating so hard on not stepping on anything disgusting that I forgot that the steel button of my jeans was the kind that snapped on and off. And what do you know, it popped off, and FELL right into the vile vortex that was the toilet. I was just not having any luck with my clothes this trip.

The Canton Trade Fair was an interesting experience. We had to push and shove our way through a mob of people to get to the registration counters. Pushing and shoving through a mob is hard enough, but pushing and shoving through a mob of people with the most godawful B.O. (of varying degrees and qualities of pungency) is just short of unbearable. Olfactory ickiness aside, it was inspiring to see so many individuals of different nationalities converging in one place to look for business opportunities and form new business ties. It was also amusing and humbling to hear Americans, Indians, Africans and Europeans conversing with exhibitors in impeccable Mandarin. It reminded me that China truly is a global marketplace and fast on its way to becoming an economic giant that may one day dwarf the US. It also reminded me that my Mandarin still needs polishing and I need to practice speaking with our Chinese suppliers more!

Trivial sidebar: We were staying in our shipper's apartment in Guangzhou, and their cable TV had Chinese Star World, which aired delayed telecasts of AI. So we got to see the Queen-themed show and the results show the night after. And I just have to get this off my chest: I am deeply regretful and ashamed that I ever had a thing for Ace. Just the sight of him simply disgusts me now, not to mention hearing him butcher one of the greatest Queen anthems of all time. And showing armpit hair on (inter)national television is just too gross. You can't win the competition by showing off your biceps, moron. By next week he'll be wearing a see-through muscle shirt just to earn more votes, the whore.

P.S. Taylor rocks my socks.

From Guangzhou we took a train back to Hong Kong to make our flight back to Manila. Untrue to form, PAL began boarding on time, but unfortunately, we didn't depart on time, because some stupid Pinoy kids got lost in the airport and we had to wait for them (when things like this happen, I don't know whether to pummel the kids, or the adults they're with). By the time we returned to Philippine soil, it was already past 11PM, and by the time I finished unpacking, it was already 2AM. I went to sleep tired from the trip, thinking about my next trip, looking forward to Hanks's return, dreading the workday ahead, and still depressed about my ruined white jacket.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why I haven't been blogging lately

Aside from the mad hectic week I've had at work (my "busy" YM status was actually for real), I've been busy with other stuff as well. Sunday was breakfast and shopping with Jen, Monday night was Bern's birthday dinner, Tuesday night was the first official "TRAK meet" (dinner with Tarin, Rachel and Kat... I'm the A in TRAK ;p), Wednesday night I went to Arlington to see Jermain, and tonight I am sneaking in some blogging time while catching up on personal email. After this I should get started on my packing, because my family and I are leaving for Hong Kong on Saturday. On the 10th we're off to Beijing to visit Hanks, and then we're heading to Guangzhou on the 13th to attend the Canton Trade Fair (in our family, all vacations are also business trips). To add to all that, my friend Angie and I are planning a trip to Singapore and Malaysia slated for the end of April, and AP-Annex is also planning a Tagaytay overnighter somewhere in between my 2 trips abroad.

I can't remember the last time I felt this frenetic, like I seem to be doing something every single minute, to the point where I don't even have the luxury to pause and write about stuff I want to write about: the surprisingly entertaining movie Lucky Number Slevin,
the 2 terrific Gregory Maguire books I've read plus the not-so-great one I'm reading now, my improving relationship with my mother, the up-in-the-air UAAP board decision about La Salle's suspension, the PSHS student who laced his classmates' water jugs with mercury nitrate, the resignation of Thailand's prime minister, and most recently, Mandisa getting kicked off AI (boo!). I also have several pix still waiting to be uploaded (and several people waiting for me to email them copies-- not the miniscule versions :p). Either I will get around to all that when I get back on the 18th, or I will just forget about them and go on living my insanely busy (but at least not boring) life.

Until my next blog post, whenever that will be.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Happy Birthday, Blog!

The View From Saturday turns one today. Much thanks and love to everyone who has seen my baby through its first year of existence. =D

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Left with nothing

I came home from a morning of fun, carefree tiangge shopping to several text messages telling me that a student's father had died of a heart attack earlier in the day. This same student had lost her mother to cancer not over a year ago. I read the messages and fell back against the couch in stunned disbelief. In spite of myself, the first thing that came to mind was the cliched lament, how could life be so cruel to someone so young? Then anger took over: anger at life's cruelty, anger at the unfairness of the universe, anger at my being powerless to do anything, anger at not having anyone to blame. I stewed silently for the rest of the day.

I'm still angry now. But what can I do? As someone whose faith in a superior being is weak at best, non-existent at worst, I cannot seek solace in the tired lines of "God has a plan" and "God works in mysterious ways". I don't even have the luxury of railing "why God, why?!" to vent. I just have this stinging reaffirmation of the conviction that life is painfully finite, and maddeningly unpredictable, and unavoidably harsh to even the best of people. Beyond that, beyond my anger, I am left with nothing... nothing but sorrow, and sympathy, and the certainty that my student will eventually be all right, because this I do have faith in: I believe in her strength, and the strength of the love from her friends and family. And maybe that's something... maybe that's everything.