Showing posts with label opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label opinion. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

On the topic of retirement age

There is a new law that lowered the age of optional retirement to 55. This means people have the option to retire early and get the benefits due them. Prior to this, the law only provides for optional retirement at 60 for government employees. The private sector had different policies or rules according to the company. Thus, different companies may offer many versions of early retirement packages not counting rationalization plans and/or redundancies. But while the typical retirement age in the private sector is 60, companies often provide for extensions given the right conditions or situations. My father actually was given a rather generous extension by his company when he was about to retire at the age of 60. Being a senior manager at the manufacturing plant where he worked, he was even given a promotion - becoming plant superintendent until he finally retired at 65. But that is more an exception that the rule for private companies.

There is one senatorial candidate who says he will push for the extension of the compulsory retirement age to 70 years instead of the current 65. I share this view as from experience, there are many including my own parents who were still very strong and productive after 65. They could have contributed more in terms of their capabilities at that age. However, I also think the workload could be lightened in order to also reduce stress levels. Of course, other benefits may also be provided since senior citizens have different needs compared to younger people. I believe their minds (i.e., wisdom) and experiences can be invaluable to companies or organizations. I know a former High School English teacher of mine who is in her 70s who still works as a consultant for a BPO.

There is also the practical and financial aspects to support this proposal. One friend opined that even for people who had good paying jobs, there is much uncertainty as to whether their retirement pay (i.e., ) will be enough for them to have comfortable living for the rest of their lives. Of course, there are those who probably had good investments during their younger days but these are again more the exceptions than the norm for most Filipinos. Most people only rely on their GSIS or SSS pensions but there are many expenses that need to be considered aside from the typical necessities like food and shelter. There are also expenses related to health like medicines, check-ups and medical procedures. And not everyone own their homes or are in perfect health. And so it makes sense to give more options pertaining to retirement.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Year-end ponderings on life and death leading to the New Year

A friend lost his daughter a few weeks ago to what was diagnosed as clinical depression. I learned from various sources that she had already had one attempt to take her own life recently. I also learned that she turned 18 just a week before the end. From all accounts including my friend's and those who knew her, there was no indication of her depression or her going through rough times. The photos in the slideshow at the wake showed what anyone can consider as a happy childhood and a happy, loving family. I have known my friend for almost 29 years now and I know him to be a man of strong faith and convictions. I know that he is an affectionate father and one with a good sense of humor, too.

I could not imagine what my friend and his wife were and are still going through right now. It is certainly a most difficult time given this tragic event. My friend is grieving and has only recently returned to social media where his posts reveal that he is still sorting things in his mind and heart. I pray that he may find solace in his faith and that he would be comforted by happy memories I am sure he keeps of his daughter.

We were at the wake the last Friday before her remains were cremated and witnessed the tributes and testimonials given by the daughter's classmates. The music they shared touched most if not everyone. I felt their grief, their sadness over what happened to a person they regarded as a dear friend. She was Grade 12 and would have graduated next year. She just took the UPCAT and could have passed the entrance examination and go on to study at UP. Sadly, that will not come to be.

Friends talk about how social media and all these information available to us now tend to influence he way we think and feel. I, too, think there's just a lot of information going around these days and people especially the young don't generally know how to filter what's valid or true from the fake. This creates a confusion of the mind and the heart, which may lead to depression and to some, a general loss of hope. It is this hopelessness that we need to address but more so by tackling the root causes. Many people like to say we need to "go back to the basics" and yet it seems they do not know what the "basics" are all about. Perhaps we should have less of social media, of the internet? More of family time, of outdoor activities and interactions? I think we should.

I wish everyone a peaceful, joyful, hopeful, healthy and prosperous 2019!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Potential impacts of Mangkut/Ompong

The last times there were typhoons comparable in perceived and actual physical impacts, the socio-political impacts also eventually manifested. Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) in 2009 dumped record rainfall across a wide area that included Metro Manila, Central Luzon (Region 3) and Southern Luzon (Region 4A). The government's response then and the issues that came about afterwards essentially contributed much to the doom for many of the administration's candidates in the 2010 elections including its standard bearer who was Defense Secretary at the time. The follies of many politicians and government agencies were also exposed and most people judged them for that in the elections.

Come 2013, another typhoon, Haiyan (Yolanda), laid waste to much of the central Philippines. It was a super typhoon that again caught most, especially government, unprepared for the devastation that was its outcome. It spelled disaster, too, to many political aspirations with the then Interior Secretary becoming the poster boy somewhat for the government's failures. Apparently, many of the lessons of Ondoy were not heeded despite gains here and there in weather forecasting and disaster preparedness. But then these were perceived to be more on the side of politicians. There were no lack in politicking, self promotion and grandstanding. And there was even more drama among rival sides in Philippine politics. There was enough material for fodder come 2016.

The current administration is much aware of the issues and the dangers of playing into the same script. After all, they created much of the political storm that led to an almost complete defeat of the previous admin's ticket (the current VP survived that and hopefully gets to finish her term instead of being replaced by the ambitious son of a former dictator). But the present set of leaders and wannabees are not lacking for distasteful maneuvers as relief goods are being prepared by government agencies and local government units bearing the name (and sometimes even face) of aspirants for electoral posts in the 2019 elections. Among these are a Presidential "alalay" who is somewhat desperate for a senate post if only to protect himself from charges once his sponsor(s) bow down from power.

Will Mangkut/Ompong effect positive change in the country? Perhaps so and we can only hope it will be for the better.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Tatak ng pagbabago?

[Warning: This is another opinion piece. Proceed to my other posts if this makes you uncomfy to read.]

I find it amusing that the slogan for what's supposed to be a "seal of change" or "tatak ng pagbabago" is a clenched fist seemingly aimed at another person or persons. Are we picking a fight with someone? And is this how we choose to represent change - with a clenched fist? To many, the reaction of a clenched fist aimed at you can be either to dodge it or reply in kind (i.e., retaliate).

I'm sure that many people will rally behind this new slogan as it represents the current administration starting from the time the current leader campaigned for the presidency. And, of course, there is the wisecrack response about what clenched fists are all about. I am aware of the latter and its variations in the present context or whatever context one may choose to justify this. I guess it is the current (I refuse to call it new.) norm and most well-meaning people I know embrace it because it is their connection to power. It is just sad that people who you would think would probably abhor violence and injustice now condone it because they are currently in power and part of establishment. Or because their agenda is along the lines of the policies being executed (pun intended) by the government. I am sadder for those who fought the establishments of the past for the same reasons and issues we now have and have turned out to be exactly what they fought then. If you are hurt by these statements then probably you're one of them.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hiding behind the numbers

Warning: This is an opinion post.

It is amusing to me when we try to get too technical as if we are trying to convince ourselves that something is right because of the technicalities. It is like hiding behind the numbers and it gives a new meaning to "lost in translation".

One example is the brouhaha about what was first reported as a statement by a government official on the monthly income required to survive for a family of 4. Ten thousand pesos per month seems to be a very low figure for those from the middle to upper income classes. But then it is a lot from the perspective of minimum wage earners. And a lot of us can do the math and show that this amount is not enough for a decent living. We can debate about benefits (e.g., free education, CCT, etc.) and assumptions but realistically we cannot deny that 10,000 pesos is only for survival, which is quite far from a decent living. I pity friends in that agency who are trying to explain their bosses' statements. They make poor apologists for something that's indefensible unless you get "technical".

An acquaintance opined that the reporter was editorializing. But then what was reported was how people, in this case many if not most of the reporters, understood the statement made. Later a more senior official made another statement in an attempt to clarify the numbers mentioned earlier. It only showed how far from reality certain officials are in their views. As another acquaintance puts it - the official is in denial about the difference between minimum wage and the income required to have a decent life in this country. I wonder what adjective you can use for those not earning this "decent" income level? And before I forget, one journalist has proof that the earlier statement on 10,000 pesos was literally expressed - the journalist has a recording of the statement.

The same acquaintance opted to stick with his opinions and cited more numbers, using statistical terms that actually would make no sense to the very people that are the subject of discussions on income. I was personally disappointed with the person whom I thought was quite objective and sometimes critical about economics during the GMA and PNoy times. What's changed with him? I'd rather not say here.

Meanwhile, many of our countrymen are toiling to make a living just to survive...


Monday, January 2, 2017

Simple celebrations for the New Year

We celebrated the arrival of the New Year without much of the more festive atmosphere that included the food and drinks at the dinner table for what was supposed to be traditional media noche. Instead, we decided to have a simple dinner and had some sandwiches and slices of cheese to tide us by while we waited for midnight and the turn of the year. Our daughter made an effort to stay awake and she did follow our advice to take a nap during the early afternoon so she won't be sleepy at night. Her almost 2-hour 'siesta' was enough and we played and read with her so she won't get bored.

Towards midnight, we already made the observation that there seemed to be less of the initial revelry that usually ushered in the New Year. We thought perhaps it was because of the rains that day that may have been a deterrent for some who didn't want to risk spoiling their firecrackers by getting them wet. We also thought that maybe more people have become aware of the risks and costs of fireworks and have come to appreciate the fireworks displays that cities and municipalities have organized usually in partnership with the private sector. Those celebrations I think can become a tradition and help build stronger communities. And the benefits are definitely worth it as you get less noise, less garbage (from the exploded fireworks) and even much less air pollution from the smoke generated by fireworks.

And so we celebrated the coming of 2017 on the balcony of our home, enjoying the view of aerial fireworks care of our neighbors and those residing in the villages around us. We heard few of the sinturon ni hudas (Judas' belt) and sawas (snakes or pythons) and definitely of the other conventional paputok (usually ground-based fireworks) like the trianggulo, 'five star', fountain and other lusis. People probably now understand how costly it would be to quite literally blow your money on such things just for the sake of generating noise to drive away the bad luck. That's one pamahiin (superstition) that we certainly like to phase out.

Happy New Year to all!


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Disruption and entropy in November.

November 8, 2016 will be a most memorable day. It is memorable in the Philippines due to the infamous decision by the Supreme Court paving the way for the dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. This was historic due to many aspects of the decision and the eventual burial of Marcos at the cemetery that is supposed to be reserved for people recognized as heroes including past presidents, war heroes, national artists and others who were found to be deserving of the site. 

While Marcos was a soldier, an officer in the USAFFE during World War 2, his claimed exploits and decorations have been found to be bogus. It is a wonder how the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine government continues to recognize him with its highest Medal for Valor when he was proven to have faked his accomplishments during the war. 

Marcos was also a former President of the country. He was supposed to have presided over a country during a period when the Philippines was second only to Japan in Asia in terms of economic development. What many apologists and fans fail to mention though was that it was all downhill from that position in the 1960s not just because of turmoil at home and abroad but because of the rampant corruption and abuses of the government under him. 

While it is true that a lot of infrastructure were completed under his term, many of these were implemented under shady conditions and usually with costs that included much that he and his cronies pocketed and benefited from. The brilliant minds he surrounded himself in the form of cabinet officials who appear to be only too willing to collaborate and do his bidding for them to attain their own glories have no excuses for the horrors of Martial Law. It is sad to know many including relatives and friends denying the murders, corruption and other atrocities during that time simply because they did not experience these first-hand. I can only pity them while trying to understand their position and lack of empathy and perhaps even humanity and critical thinking.

November 8 is also memorable in the United States, a country with whom the Philippines seems to share similar fates with in the past 100+ years. The US just elected Donald Trump as their President, trumping (pun intended) the country that elected a self confessed killer, womanizer only last May 2016. I won't delve into the so-called qualities of Trump but history will now record the US as a nation still unprepared for a woman to lead them, instead choosing a person who has yet to serve in any capacity (he has no previous elective or appointed posts in government and he is has not served in the US armed or police forces) that country, and likely one who has also cheated in his taxes.

These two are already realities people have to face even if it seems to many that these were like something shoved up their asses, forcibly and painfully. The only positive thing I see here so far is that these events should be wake-up calls to those who consider themselves progressives but who have also let their guards down to allow these people to rise in power. Disruption and entropy should be considered as likely blessings for us to learn and become more proactive in education and be protective against revisionism of our history.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Some thoughts about the current Philippine situation

I find it amusing that many apologists react quickly about the President's comments; providing their own interpretations - twisting here, wagging there, spinning everywhere.  There's really no need for such if the guy can just control his tongue assuming of course that he can also control his thinking. Its not an excuse that he told people he was like that and still they voted for him. He, too, must rise to the occasion and be the President people voted for. 

We didn't vote for a Mayor last May and if he wants, he can always go back to being one instead if president. I suspect though that many but not all those around him want him to stay put simply because they have so much at stake here especially in terms of power. I won't go into the details of whom I suspect are the ones with much interest here but I am sure many observers would not find it difficult to  identify these. Perhaps they will end up losing a lot of money from the favors they get from being in power and in the position to peddle influence?

As for the apologists, the attempts to explain, justify, attribute (e.g., the person being a master strategist, of being adept at foreign policy and geopolitics, etc.) and even glorify fail in the face of facts. Unfortunately, there are so much misinformation going around and the very same apologists seem to fall for information that fit their beliefs rather than lift a finger or two to determine the veracity of the (mis)information they also tend to share in social media. I have encountered many who similarly believe in hoaxes and are quick to click the share button on Facebook. And then of course, there are those at a safe distance (i.e., abroad and probably for the long term if not for good) whose views and arguments are questionable. These include those who would likely (if they have not yet done so) vote for Trump in the next US elections.  

Kawawa naman iyung mga napapaniwala (o naloko?) noong kampanya.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Vaccinate your children!

I see that there are still many who believe in a report that was published and circulated in social media about the alleged links between vaccination and autism. This claim has been debunked many times and yet it persists. Here is one of the articles that clearly explain the circumstances behind the falsehood that was spread and has had a big impact on health particularly for children who have not had their vaccines and who now place other children at risk of disease and are at risk themselves. 

16 years ago, a doctor published a study. It was completely made up, and it made us all sicker.

Here is a graphic from the article that should also be very clear in terms of facts rather than unsubstantiated claims:


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Message in a rainbow

With all the negative things happening around the world and especially in this country, the first thing that came to my mind when I looked out from our viewpoint in Leyte towards Samar was - HOPE!

The photo, taken from my phone, doesn't do justice to the rainbow. It was the clearest, brightest and largest (we were close) I've seen. I only wished our daughter Ally could have seen this one where ROYGBIV were so clear for everyone to see.

There's just too much violence and other bad things happening all around us. This makes the saner ones of us ponder about where God is in this time when our faith is being tested. We think about logic, philosophy as people use their beliefs to justify things they probably won't be doing to loved ones. I think we all need to tone down on our attitudes and rhetoric. Perhaps we should be taking some time-out from whatever there are that make us "nega". These include social media, news, and even perhaps contact with "nega" people. It will probably make our lives less toxic and help us get back to a more positive outlook than what we have now. We can start by getting out more often and enjoying the simpler things in life. Yes, that includes looking out to see rainbows that remind us of hope!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Some realizations from the recent election campaigns

Writing, they say, can be cathartic. And so I write about some realizations from the run-up and aftermath of the recent elections:
  1. Many close relatives and friends do not share your politics. You will be surprised about their choices despite their being supposedly educated, experienced and, on any other day, could be logical, wise. 
  2. One should learn to move on and accept that these same relatives and friends are basically good people whom you can rely on despite your differences in political leanings.
  3. People you know can actually become quite different when online and behind what seem to them a cloak of anonymity.
  4. People who claim to be religious and who proclaim their praises to God online (and especially those can be quite inconsistent and contradictory to their so-called faiths.
  5. Scientific people can become the opposite and disregard even the most basic mathematical, statistical and scientific principles and thoughts if only to make explanations conform to their positions.
The list can go on but then I probably already covered much of the negative stuff that I just wanted to have out there. I rarely post about religion and politics on my social media accounts. And if I do, I am usually very serious about it so I would respond to those who offer the opposite or even sarcasm. Truly, respect is earned but one cannot claim it if one cannot be humble enough to accept truths especially the inconvenient and painful ones.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Some thoughts on the eve of election day

I write this on the eve of national elections in the Philippines. This would be my fourth time to vote in Presidential elections. My first time was in 1992 when I was among the many young people who voted for the first time since the snap elections of 1986 that eventually led to the EDSA revolution that same year. I voted for Miriam Santiago and Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. then and I still believe Miriam would have been and should have been President because she lacked the machinery that could have protected her votes from manipulation. I was not able to vote in 1998 when I was abroad and there was no over overseas voting yet. 

To my memory, this is probably the most divisive elections and that is not in small part due to social media. It is so easy for (mis)information to spread at least for people who are online or who have access to apps like Facebook and Twitter. I have learned to screen much of the information I see and I am usually very patient. But apparently for many people including those I consider friends and those who were former students, social media is like the saying about TV goes..."If it's on Facebook it must be true!" 

Tomorrow we again elect people whom we think are the most qualified to lead us at the national and local levels. I have made up my mind about who I will vote for at the local level but I must admit it is very difficult to decide who to vote for as President. We all have our criteria but and some people will have personal connections with particular candidates. As such, it is inevitable to have personal biases because we know this and that person directly or indirectly (through relatives, friends, etc.). That can be dangerous because it has been established fact that if you or your kin know someone personally, then there is the high likelihood that you will be spared from the abuses or bad things that the person did or will be doing. Let's face it, if you are related to a bad person, that person would still appear good to you because bad people may still be good to family. Not to others though and that is what a lot of people forget because they don't pay attention to history or can be generally blind to inconvenient truths.

I think we should be critical about our candidates and we should be careful about the information we get including and perhaps especially about where such information comes from. It is easy to poison our minds with all the misinformation out there including those by people who should know better and are regarded as experienced and experts. Do not be misled by people who have been astray themselves despite their past. I think the saying about one being as good only as his last performance applies to many politicians, analysts and other people involved in these elections. But we should not disregard past faults that have not been atoned for and for these elections at least, I believe that such is a big factor.

Good luck to us all and may we all be guided in our decisions tomorrow. Whoever wins this one will be responsible for a lot and regardless of who wins there will be change. Whether that change will be for the better of most people, we will likely know real time and well into the first year of the next administration. Think about your children or grand children. Think about their futures and the environment they will be living in. Perhaps that thinking alone can help you get closer to a decision on election day.

Monday, April 25, 2016

On decisions towards the May 9 elections

The Clairvoyant and I have been talking about who we will vote for in the coming elections. For local posts, we decided we will just scan the relatively short list of candidates for the posts of mayor, vice mayor, councilors and congressman for our city. We changed our residence a little over a couple of years ago and decided to change where we voted. I used to vote in Cainta where I resided for a long time at my parents' home and the wife voted in Quezon City where she also lived with her parents. Even after we moved together and found residence elsewhere, we had retained our venues for voting as a matter of preference. That changed when we moved into our new home in 2014 and decided to register in our new barangay.

Electing officials for national positions is quite a different matter and so far we have only decided on our preference for the Vice Presidency. That will be Leni Robredo, the first term congresswoman from my father-in-law's hometown of Naga City. Meanwhile, we have also started to finalize our list for 12 slots for Senator. Among those we are certain to vote for would be people we actually know and that includes reelectionist Senator Ralph Recto, whom the wife worked for when he was still a congressman at the House of Representatives. There is also former Sen. Kiko Pangilinan who is a friend of my brother-in-law from his college days. Though it may seem that we are voting for these people simply because we know them personally, I would rather that they be elected due to their good, hard work being lawmakers. Granted that they have been involved in some controversial issues (Recto, for example, for VAT) but these were necessities and despite the bad press, their legislative works are widely considered sound and with positive outcomes for most people. For myself, I am considering 10 other senators for my list and this includes familiar names like Dick Gordon (a former senator himself) and Risa Hontiveros whom we have supported from the time she first ran for the senate. I will likely include Walden Bello as the country needs someone with the firm grasp of social and economic issues and who is unwilling to compromise in addressing these issues via mainstream avenues. I met him a couple of years ago and found him to be a very wise and reasonable person who knew how to listen while also offering frank opinions on the constructive side.

I will likely post about the rest of in my list as election day approaches. And for the Presidency, let's just say that I am closer to a decision. But then as any responsible parent should be doing, suffice it to say that I will most likely vote for whom I think will lead this country to secure a good future for our children.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Graffiti or vandalism: UP Diliman's walls

The wall of the University of the Philippines Diliman's wall along Katipunan Avenue had been a blank one. We had thought one time that it could be perfect for some graffiti or wall paintings. Previously, we did some wall art together with family and friends at an orphanage in Manila. This idea came out of a similar activity the Clairvoyant had with her office-mates as part of their company's team-building and corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. And true enough, the wall was subject to a painting project care of the organizers of Miss Earth.

In the past few years, however, the wall has seen a drastic transformation from what used to be pleasing art work to one that claims to be art in the form of what is claimed to be graffiti. I use the word "claim" because of what I think can be classified as art and what is plain rubbish.

Some people might call this art - not me
The stuff of night mares?
Are these'statements' that UP allows or tolerates? Their mere presence on its walls reflect upon the university. I would like to think that these walls could be used for better messages, more constructive work that can be shared to travelers along Katipunan/C-5. UP, after all, has a College of Fine Arts and other people with talent as well as social consciousness to come up with more appropriate images on these walls.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap year 2016

It is actually a rare day today and literally because it is a day that happens only once every four years - a leap year. I consider leap years as good years and partly because I had been born on a leap year back in 1972. It is my 44th and it has been a wonderful year so far. It is a year for reminiscing, a year to be sentimental. I look forward to the rest of the year and the surprises it has to offer. Never mind the mixture of emotions including sadness (a few dear friends have passed away). These are all part of life and its diversity helps us build character. These are the so-called spices that make life interesting and worth living.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sudden unintended acceleration?

The motoring community in the Philippines is in rather heated discussions regarding the Mitsubishi Montero's alleged defect that causes what has been termed as 'sudden unintended acceleration' or SUA. This term refers to the vehicle suddenly, and without the driver doing anything, rapidly accelerating, forward or backward, and hitting anything in its path. The proofs to these alleged incidences are supposed to have been documented by many including videos that have been uploaded to YouTube and even shared or used by mainstream media. The vehicle's manufacturer itself denies that there is a defect in the model(s) being cited for SUA. They have also released a new model of the vehicle in the market and most people not paranoid about SUA seem not to mind the buzz about the alleged defect. The new model, after all, is supposed to be free of that particular defect considering the manufacturer, despite its denials, should have been aware of the complaints and concerns.

Defect or none, I think what's more dangerous is not the 'sudden unintended acceleration' of vehicles. In fact, I am not aware of any fatalities attributed to this and all the videos I've seen alleging the defect happened in parking lots and driveways. These have caused only minor injuries and, surely, damage to properties. What is more dangerous and should be the concern by all is the intended acceleration leading to speeding (or over-speeding) that is so common in our roads regardless of whether these are expressways or city streets. Such behaviour are almost always intended and therefore the drivers are very much aware of their actions and in control of their vehicles. In control, that is, until they hit something or, worse, someone. Such irresponsible and often reckless behaviour plague our roads and one person's folly can be the doom of others as is usually the case in road crashes involving (over)speeding.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Do dogs go to heaven?

There have been some heated and also humorous discussions about whether dogs go to heaven. You can easily google this and you will get articles about Pope Francis saying something to the effect that Heaven's gates are open to all of God's creatures. There are also many images including cartoons and photos (many likely photo-shopped) of bulletins outside churches in what appears to be a heated exchange about dogs going to heaven with references to the bible and Christian doctrine. I saw this cartoon that I thought perfectly captures my sentiments about dogs going to heaven.

Today is the birthday of our Labrador Retriever Troy who would have been 12 years old (84 in dog years). Here's another photo of him in our room in our former home.

Troy at my bedside in our old home - he loved to sit beside the aircon before eventually lying down just beneath my side of the bed. We thought at times during hot summer nights that he was gesturing for us to turn on the airconditioning.
I certainly would believe that dogs go to Heaven and our Troy who passed away in 2014 would be very qualified. I imagine that he is already there and enjoying himself while also watching over us. 

Rest in peace Troy. You earned it and deserve to be happy forever.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Missed opportunities, Part 2 - Transport service

I had written previously about a missed opportunity for people we hired to do a landscaping job at our home. It was supposed to be a straightforward contract that we had thought would allow us to have someone maintain our garden and give the 'small time" landscaping/gardening outfit a break in the business (they didn't seem to have much in terms of resources as we observed when they worked for us). We had to terminate the contract and allowed them to finish only the parts they already were working on when we decided enough was enough.

In a matter of days, a somewhat similar situation happened but for another service that I engaged for. This time, I decided to give an old friend a call to engage their services to drive my father to the airport for an early morning flight. I originally planned to take him to the airport myself as I had many times before but I had another appointment that prevented me from doing so this time. My brother-in-law also could not take Tatay to the airport as he had to take my niece and nephew to school and couldn't travel very early in the morning.

Everything seemed to go very smoothly. I am not a stranger to getting transport services whether it be for projects or for personal use. We actually have a suki company, which is owned by our friends from back in college. However, after I saw my old friend advertising his business on FaceBook, I decided to try them out as they operated in the area where my parents resided and my old friend was a kababata and former neighbor in the same village my parents resided in. We exchanged contact information and their driver contacted my father to confirm the arrangements for their trip. So I was surprised in the morning when I checked on my father and he informed me that the driver never came at the agreed time and he had to take a taxi to the airport. It was a good thing that he got a taxi easily and was not delayed. 

I learned from my friend later on that the driver wasn't able to wake up for his trip. This was definitely a classic case of "you had the one job". While no damage was actually done (my father made it for his flight and I didn't have to pay anything for the undelivered service), I assumed that the driver was admonished for his failure to deliver the job he was supposed to. And my friend was very apologetic and offered to fetch my father on his return trip for free. I just assured him that I would probably hire them again for a project or personal trip. I would do so perhaps and also because I believe in giving business to friends and perhaps help them grow. Not that he needed it but because its a principle thing for me. I just hope that such shortcomings on the part of the driver would not be a frequent thing. That will surely lead to lost revenues and lost customers in a very competitive transport service market.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Missed opportunities - Part 1: Landscaping bungle

The past week saw us engage two entities for services that we thought we could try out so as to expand our list of providers for services such as gardening/landscaping and transport. I will write about what could be missed opportunities for both entities that we engaged. I was actually surprised about the second one but will talk about that in another post as the circumstances are quite different and, to me at least, was unexpected for their failure to deliver.

The Clairvoyant and I have been talking about how we could refresh our garden at our home in Antipolo. One part of the garden on the north side of our home was ravaged by the combined shade of our neighbor's trees and the acidic nature of the flowers and leaves of the gigantic fire tree they have on their side of the fence. And then there were several parts where the grass needed to be replenished and some plants replaced. We inquired about landscaping and decided to try out a small outfit care of our suking plant shop at the New Antipolo Public Market. 

We asked them to come by our home to see what we wanted done around our garden. We then asked them for an estimate for what we wanted based on the scope of work we discussed and described with them. We thought we were clear about what we wanted in terms of plants, grass and tree pruning, and where we wanted which plants. Based on our agreed scope of work and budget, the Clairvoyant had drafted a contract (We have learned before that having things written down or printed provides much clarity for later reference in cases of dispute or disagreement.).

Work started quite well and after a few minor glitches (including a snooty neighbor), our landscapers were able to complete their tree trimming work. It all went downhill from there. To cut what could be a long story, they turned in very unusual work hours - arriving late in the morning, taking long lunch breaks and returning around 4 PM, etc. They even tampered with parts of the garden that they weren't supposed to work on, seemingly wanting to impose their style on a landscape that we had done when we moved into our home last year. We finally had enough and had to terminate their services before they could do more damage (and headaches).

This was a prime example of a small operation bungling a chance to have a long term client. We thought before that if they did well, then we would probably have them as our regular landscaper who can do maintenance work on our garden perhaps twice or thrice a year. It would have been nice to have a trusted landscaper in the locality. They probably do good work and they showed promise but then they messed it up and just couldn't deliver. Would they be worth a second chance? Perhaps only time can tell and hopefully, if we do give them a second chance (not in the near future), they would do better, stick to the scope of work and make sure they come and work on time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Silly policies on shopping bags and tactless security

Most if not all major supermarkets in the Philippines now encourage their customers to bring their own reusable bags for their groceries. Many supermarkets have even made the effort to design their own reusable shopping bags that many call 'eco-bags' to reflect their intended purpose relating to the environment. The observation many years ago was that there was just a lot of plastic waste due in part to the plastic bags used by supermarkets and groceries that, despite their being reusable, always ended up in the trash and sewers.

So we were surprised when when a major supermarket chain, Puregold, barred the wife from taking her reusable bag (which was clearly from Puregold Duty Free in Clark). The guard told her that she was supposed to leave her bag at the counter, get a number and someone was supposed to get her bag when she checked out the items she would be buying. The same was being told to other customers including one senior citizen who was offended by the manner he was told by another guard.  I assume that this was a policy only in their branch at Fairview Terraces because I had been taking my reusable bags to the Puregold branch in Q-Plaza and I have not been prevented from taking the bag as I shopped in their grocery there. Regardless, perhaps it was the manner by which their security staff were telling people that they couldn't take their bags inside that offended people.

What's with such policies? It is one of those silly policies that don't make sense. I'm sorry to say but other, even bigger retailers allow customers to go inside their supermarkets and shops with their reusable bags and I am not aware of a proliferation of shoplifting or stealing in these supermarkets. Even the old Cherry Foodarama, from which Puregold seems to have patterned its style of checking what their paying customers are taking out their doors, had no policies that discriminated and judged their customers. I would say that their security problems will not be solved by such policies and that these only hinder or discourage people from using reusable bags. And I did see a lot of people ending up having their groceries in plastic bags - a clear violation of a Quezon City Ordinance that is supposed to ban plastic bags (even those that are claimed to be biodegradable) from supermarkets.