Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Musings

A week before Christmas and I’ve got all the presents wrapped under the tree. Being a bit OC (obsessive-compulsive), this is already quite late for me, having had in the past, presents wrapped as early as July (believe you me!), but it’s not that big a deal anymore.

I used to like my stuff so orderly: white shirts in one shelf, black shirts in another and every clothing hung in their color group. This included socks too; classified in lengths as well as colors. My dresser was not only symmetrical but a Geometry teacher can find everything is perpendicular and trigonometrically in tangent with each item on the table. Our living room used to be Good Housekeeping-ly clean and chic with scented candles and unique bric-a-bracs tastefully positioned here and there for accents. My kitchen had been spotless and so was my bathroom; having had only Oliver to clean up after and he wasn’t that messy save for the cigarette ashes and butts on overflowing ashtrays and used clothes left from where they were last stripped off. I had been quite proud to show off our home to friends and family, as it took a few minutes of fluffing the throw pillows, lighting a soothing scented candle or oil on a ceramic burner and voila, cozy and everything in its place, inviting and all in harmony.

However, all that had changed and on hindsight, I guess it has for the better. Since becoming a mother, I have learned to let go of so many things, I think I have grown in leaps and bounds as a person and a woman I’m trying to become. For one, I don’t balk at a huge pile of laundry to be done when I used to be so panicky when the laundry basket is full and start washing everything on sight. Unwashed dishes no longer bother me and well, I’ve given most of my home d├ęcor knick-knacks to family and friends who would want them. Spending time with Amber before she is too old to tag along with mom is my priority and even if we bicker, and at six man can she bicker, or argue or even have our mother-daughter fights, we enjoy one another as best we can.

My inner OC screams and pulls her hair whenever my little munchkin does some oil painting or uses pastel crayons to doodle and draw then wipes her colorful hands on her very white shirt. The control-freak in me wants to dust and vacuum and scrub the entire household as my daughter skates or scooters all over with a cookie in one hand and really sticky and grimy fingers from whatever it was she had been doing a while before. My hidden anal-retentive personality tsk-tsks at how my kitchen table now looks with breadcrumbs, spots of orange juice and peanut butter goo on the cookie jar cover. Yet I stop myself, count to ten, breathe, and make a deep sigh relinquishing control and order for love and fun and motherhood. I see how she laughs and smiles and enjoys herself and I tell my inner selves to keep quiet and save it for when she’s a bit older – the lectures and reprimands – when she too would eventually fall into the order and routine that is part and parcel of our adult existence. For now, we’ll make play dough and run like silly, blow bubbles and wrestle, walk barefooted and eat with our hands sucking the sweetness of each moment off every chocolate covered finger. Because I know, I may not have this chance later.

As I prepare for Christmas Eve’s Noche Buena and Christmas Day, I look around at a home that has my daughter’s crayons on our living room’s center table, a lonesome sock on the sofa and her favorite toys on the floor. There are storybooks in the kitchen, a mermaid Barbie on the sink and a discarded school uniform on my bed. Amber is in her room, cutting up colorful paper to make snowflakes and as the mess grows, I look at her and see how she is developing her creativity. She happily chats with Fulgosi, her favorite stuffed pet dog, assuring the inanimate toy that surely Santa will give him a gift too because he’s been such a good doggie and all, and I stop myself from telling her off, wanting to bottle this warm feeling that makes my eyes water for as long as I can remember. She stops me from my mental meanderings as she shows me a red snowflake (well it looked nothing like a snowflake more like and amoeba with holes, really) and says, “Mommy this is my gift to you for being the best mommy in the world.” How can you beat that? She shows a green one meant for her dad and a little pink one for herself.

We hung the amoebas posing like snowflakes on the Christmas tree and make some cheesy cheese sandwiches for snacks (Cheese Whiz spread and mozzarella cheese on toasted bread) whilst singing “We Three Kings”, a carol she will sing in the children’s choir at church. I taught her the version I learned in college and she laughed at that too.

Since Amber, Christmas has had a new meaning and my id has truly gone furthest behind my other selves as I realize how much I have changed and grown in the past six years. I’ve learned to take each moment for what it is and let go of many material things in my life. I’ve truly learned to make someone else’s needs take precedence over mine. I have accepted the many changes in my time, priorities and habits and appreciate that sometimes it is good not to have any routine! I am more truthful, humbler, and forgiving, trying to set some form of example for my growing child, keen to practice what I preach and not come out as fake or contrived. My patience is now longer than China’s Great Wall and so is my joy, deeper than Marianas Trench and higher than Mt. Everest (or is it Mauna Kea?). Indeed being a mother especially of an inquisitive and precocious 6-year old sends you spinning in a frenzy of emotions and thoughts that keeps you wanting to blog about them but due to many other things keeps you from blogging anyways. Note my last blog was August this year…imagine that! Nevertheless, I try and so before the year ends I share some lines (a bit lengthy!) on what I am thinking and how I am nowadays.

It’s oft said that people never change…well, there is hope.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August 12 (Happy Birthday Marian, Kyle...!)

August 12 seems to be a lot of people's birthday. First there's Thomas Edison’s phonograph model that got completed on this date in 1877, as historical data would tell us.

In Philippine showbiz, there is birthday celebrant Aga Muhlach who was the 80's "crush ng bayan". I wonder how old he is now, probably in his late 30s or maybe even early 40s.

Then there's my step-son Justine Kyle Amador Eliserio, now Guillory, who turns 13 this year and will celebrate his birthday this coming Thursday in Abu Dhabi. Amber's been bugging me the whole day to call his half-brother so she can greet him and talk to him but the day just wore on and we managed to send him an SMS greeting at around 7 in the evening. Hope you have a great year "kuya" Kyle! We love you! “Hello Kyle! Praying too that your injuries from your recent accident are all better now. We enjoyed reading the messages in your cast but we had to increase the size of the photos to read them properly! Cool!”

Next is Alyssa Alano from StarTalk who got famous in YouTube because of her version of the song "Kiss Me". I didn't it was also her birthday if I didn't tune in this morning to the GMA Pinoy TV showbiz gossip/intrigue program. The joys of being home-bound a.k.a. on local leave!

But of course today is Marian Rivera's birthday and since Amber and I are staunch MarianKnights, we hope Marian comes across our page here in the World Wide Web to see our poem and greeting for her.

Happy Birthday Marian Rivera! Happy Birthday to all August 12th celebrants! May all your wishes come true and more...

Click the link for more information on August 12 .

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Completely Bonkers for Marian Rivera

OK, I must admit I'm not very fanatical by nature. Sure I follow certain norms and code and prefer several things over most others like many normal, sane and mentally sound people do but now in my mid-life crisis years, I have to admit that I have gone over to the other side of normal!

I have completely gone totally bonkers, stark-raving mad, fanatical for Marian Rivera. Yes, THE Marian Rivera of the Marimar, Philippine Edition fame. I blog about Marimar episodes. See my blogger site: http://www.pinoymarimar.blogspot.com/ which is mirrored in a similar blog site, http://www.marimaryann.wordpress.com/ to begin with.

Then lately, I have been hooked into YouTube, just to download current episodes of Marimar from the Philippines as the UAE is a week delayed. Then because they were also available, I have been viewing Marian Rivera or Marian and Dingdong (yes, he is indeed named Dingdong!) Dantes' videos or photo-montages by the megabytes per second!

Now I am addicted to the Marian Rivera dot Net forum! I like that I've been meeting new people and making new e-friends. The age scale is varied from 12 year olds to grannies and all these people like the same person as I do, yes...you'll see me key in her name again, just to show you how truly fanatical I've become: here goes....Marian Rivera.

My husband is at the brink of filing our divorce papers as every weekend, the only time we get to spend a few hours together, I'm multi-tasking between two computer screens, one is showing the latest Marimar episode and the other is logged into the Marian Rivera dot net forum.

My daughter cried when Tia Esperanza died. She gets upset when Angelika is mean to Cruzita and again felt really sad when Innocencia got murdered. She watches Marimar twice and joins me at night to watch the latest episodes online.

Last week was a breakthrough. When before I just watched people create these .gifs and images for Marian, I actually joined the bandwagon and made my first ever Marian-Dingdong tribute. A snagged poster from Forget Paris (Billy Crystal and Debra Wringer) gave me an idea for a spoof - with many wishing the Marimar-Sergio love affair be reflected into real life, an epiphany of sorts, with the help of Fireworks (Macromedia) - and I'm only a beginner at it - produced this abomination that I now share with you, visitors of my blog...but really, it is quite catchy, don't you agree?
I have nothing against Ana Karylle Padilla Tatlonghari who is Jose Sixto Gonzales Dantes' (aka Dingdong Dantes, and yes it is real...but this calls for another blog!) real life girlfriend but the Marian-Dingdong team does have that effect on many that you'd wish they end up together, have plenty of kids (sing dami ng talangka sa dagat as the Filipino Sergio would often tell Marimar), and go make lots of TV soaps and movies and live happily ever after.
So Marimar is ending in Manila on 14th of March and my husband is seeing this as the best birthdat present he will ever get, as by then I'd be over my addiction and life could return to normal....NOT!
You see, the 'power-that-be' at GMA decided this tandem is so hot, that they'd like to capitalise on it's rise to stardom and thus a new fantasy tele-serye (television series) will begin in April starring these two good-looking and romantically-convincing couple. Marian Rivera will play "Dyesebel" a mermaid created by Mars Ravelo and Dingdong will play the man who fell in love with her, Fredo. So my madness continues and so will my blogging. Watch this space as my lunacy continues to reach new heights.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another threat to OCWs - Memorandum #4.

I received from an e-mail brigade and news like this really do piss me off! Makes me want to go straight to Malacanang and lash out on the witless opportunistic blood suckers who want a bigger piece of the pie to eat for themselves....mga swapang na walang kaluluwa! Hala, read on and take action. We shouldn't just stand here and wait. The villians of this world wait for no one to do their evil deeds. Let's show them we can fight back too, in our own little way.

IF your answer is yes to one or more of the following questions, then this article is for you:
1. Were you affected by the Malu Fernandez controversy?
2. Do you know anyone who is an overseas Filipino worker? (OFW)
3. Do you have a relative who is an OFW?
4. Do you believe that many Filipinos are working abroad because of the lack of opportunities here in the Philippines?
5. Do you believe that OFWs help the Philippine economy?
6. Do you believe that the present administration is corrupt and there has to be some changes? 7. Are you an OFW, or an ex-OFW, or are you planning to become an OFW?

If you said yes to any of these, read on... Perhaps you've heard of the controversial memorandum (1) of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) regarding the Guidelines on the Direct Hiring of Filipino Workers.

Please allow me to explain to you why OFWs need your support against this memorandum. We really need your help! Please forward our plea for help to as many people as possible.

Who are the 'direct hire' OFWs?

There are two ways to get a job overseas. You can either go through an authorized recruitment agency in the Philippines or you can directly contact the employer. Obviously, those who can directly communicate with the foreign employer don't have to go through a recruitment agency and so the process is referred to as "direct-hire" and they are called "direct-hires."

OFWs who go through a recruitment agency usually have to pay their recruiter a placement fee and/or a commission. While those who are direct-hires sometimes take greater risks by staying in a foreign country (sometimes as tourists) and then by God's grace and through their contacts, they find work. Some direct-hires find work while still in the Philippines when the employer comes to the Philippines to screen applicants. Both ways of finding work have their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the jobsite, employer, work, and the contract. (2)

There are those who say that it's important to go through a recruitment agency because they make sure that the employer is a good one. Recruitment agencies also look after you when you're already in your jobsite.

On the other hand, there are others who think that they can do away with recruitment agencies. They think they can deal directly with their employers and they can handle their own problems. And if not, they can always run to the Philippine embassies for help. That's why they're there, right?

If you were to choose between the two, which one do you prefer: Go through a recruitment agency or directly deal with the employer? There is another important thing that we should keep in mind when it comes to the definition of direct-hires.

Let's say an OFW who went through a recruitment agency in their first overseas job finishes their contract with their employer. If he/she decides to find another job overseas with another employer, he/she is now a "direct-hire."

Before Memorandum No. 4

Let's say, an employer in the Middle East needs to hire an engineer. A Filipino engineer, who has just finished his contract with another employer, applies for the job. He came highly recommended by his previous employer and so he was accepted in the job. His new employer offered him a salary of $1,000 a month. He was more than happy to take the job, especially because if he can't find work, he will be forced to go back to the Philippines. They signed the contract and the OFW starts working the next day. Simple, right? That's direct-hiring!

Enter Memorandum No.4!

Memorandum No.4 (Series of 2007) signed by POEA Administrator Rosalindo Dimapilos-Baldoz took effect on January 15, 2008. All employers, whether individuals or companies, must abide by the so-called "guidelines."

Let's go back to the story of our Filipino engineer. Now, according to this memorandum, he can't start working for his new employer. Not yet! First, his employer has to register with POEA. But there's no need to worry, because the process will not take longer than one month. One month! You mean to say that the Filipino engineer has to wait for a month before he can start working! That's okay, says POEA. I'm sure his family can wait for a month before he can send money for their food and utilities.

But there's more to it. There are more requirements that the employer has to submit. Here are the other requirements:

1. The employer must submit the following documents to POEA:
a) copies of their business registration, license, and identification paper
b) sample contracts for the OFW
c) proof that the OFW won't be charged a placement fee (hello? it's called "direct-hire")

2. Pay a "performance bond" equivalent to the worker's salary for three months. The performance bond will be used to guarantee compliance of the employer of the contract. So, the performance bond will serve as a penalty fee for the employer in case there's a breach of contract by the employer. It's not clear in the memorandum if this performance bond will be given in full to the direct-hire OFW. In the case of our OFW engineer, his employer has to pay $3,000 ($1,000 x 3 months) which is approximately P120,000. This sum is to be paid even before the OFW starts work. Wow!

3. Provide a "repatriation bond" in the amount of $5,000 or approximately P200,000. This money is to be used for the direct-hire's repatriation expenses in case the contract is terminated. Also, in case the OFW dies while overseas, this money is going to be used to bring the remains back to the Philippines.

I thought the government considers OFWs as our modern-day heroes. Then how come they can't even afford to bring back the remains of OFWs who die while working overseas. I thought this is why OFWs are required to pay their PhilHealth even though they're not in the Philippines.

4. And the last requirement to get the registration process started is the submission of a Medical Insurance Certificate Isn't it common practice that the application for medical insurance gets started as soon as the employee starts working? I think this is also true for companies in the Philippines. And isn't it true that it takes a while before the insurance company releases the medical insurance certificate. Sometimes, it even takes about three months before the document is released. Wow!

In other words If you were an employer looking for foreign workers, would you really go through the trouble of doing all the above requirements? Would you be willing to set aside $8,000 or approximately P320,000 so your Filipino employee can start working for you? I do admire our government's high regard for our OFWs. They really believe that employers will jump through hoops to get a Filipino worker. I really hope that employers will do all these things to get a Filipino worker.

But what if they don't? What if there are so many foreign workers in the global market these days that they can easily get workers from other countries whose governments don't have ridiculous requirements? What if they decide not to hire Filipino workers? Who is going to be directly affected by this? Who is going to suffer? Who is going to suffer? It's fairly obvious that our OFWs are the ones who will be badly affected by this memorandum and I am one of them.

Whether you are an engineer, teacher, domestic helper, nurse, doctor, or any other overseas employee, as long as you hold a Philippine passport and you have a job overseas, you will suffer because of this memorandum. If you don't lose your job now, you'll have trouble looking for a job later. Families who rely on remittances of their OFWs will also be badly hit by this memorandum. How can OFWs send money home if they don't have a source of income because they have no work? We all know that many OFWs have mouths to feed and siblings to help send to school.

Another victim of this memorandum will be our economy. OFWs brought in $15 billion to our economy in 2007.(3) This amount of money is not to be taken lightly. If you think that the call center industry is helping our economy, then multiply it by five times and it will match the amount of money brought in by OFWs.

And how will this affect small and big business companies in our country? Well, let's try to simplify it for everyone. Less employers mean less work for our OFWs. Less work means fewer OFWs. Fewer OFWs means less remittance. Less remittance means less "spending power" of Filipinos. Less spending power means less money for other things. People will only have money for their basic needs and commodities. Other businesses will close and there will be less jobs for the millions of Filipinos who are working in the Philippines. So they will start to look for work overseas but they won't be able to find any. All thanks to Rosalinda Baldoz's Memorandum Circular No.4.

So who's going to suffer from this memorandum? You! Me! Everyone!

What should we do? If you ask me, the first thing we should demand is the immediate resignation of Rosalinda Dimapilos-Baldoz, the POEA administrator who signed Memorandum Circular No.4. This memorandum is evidence that she doesn't understand the needs of OFWs and she does not deserve to be at the helm of POEA.

Our second demand should be the immediate revocation of Memorandum Circular No.4. We should all join the mass protest action. It's clear that we will all suffer because of this new policy on direct-hires. Don't hesitate to take it to the streets. That's the only way we can get their attention. Let's show them that we are serious in demanding for the resignation of Baldoz and the revocation of the memo.

If in case you can't join the mass protest action, here are other ways you can help this urgent cause:
1. E-mail your relatives, friends, and every one you know and ask them to join the protest. Forward the link to this post and other posts about this issue to your friends. There's also a Filipino version of this post.

2. Text all your contacts and ask them to support our protest.

3. Support the Senate inquiry of Senator Manny Villar (4). E-mail Senator Manny Villar at mb_villar@yahoo.com or go to his website, www.mannyvillar.com.ph

4. Support the Congress resolution of Representative Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna party-list (5)

5. Sign the online petition (6)

6. Blog and comment in blogs about Baldoz and her memorandum.

When Malu Fernandez spoke badly about the OFWs, we were quick to point out her wrongs and we succeeded. More than ever, our OFWs need your help. Please hear our plea. My friend, let's take action!

Let's demand for the resignation of Rosalinda Baldoz and for the revocation of Memorandum No.4!

Click here for the Filipino version of this post. ===

Notes:(1) POEA Memorandum Circular No.4 - Guidelines on the Direct Hiring of Filipino Workers

(2) Magandang ipalabas ng POEA ang kanilang statistics kung ilang OFW ang dumaan sa recruitment agency at ilan ang direct-hire.

(3) Top international economist says Philippine economy has to grow 14% to stop OFW exodus, Positive News Media, Jan 31, 2008

(4) $5K bond hinders Pinoys' search for better opportunities - Villar seeks Senate inquiry on new direct-hire guidelines

(5) Solon wants memo on OFW hiring scrapped, Feb 3, 2008, GMANews.TV

(6) Online Petition - Abolition of (POEA) Memorandum Circular No. 4