Manila Office Life

28 June 2005

Back at Work

Just got back from HK.

Weather was hot, humid, and rainy. I hate weather like that. Makes walking around difficult at best and, once I get back into the hotel room, I feel the urgent need to shower (again). The birthday was good at any rate. My grandmother, who suffered a stroke last year, actually graced us with a reaction this time around: she smiled (kinda). It was the greatest thing we ever saw and my dad was ecstatic. He was talking about it for all of 3 days. For dad, that's something.

Didn't get much shopping done since it was so hard to get around. Instead of feeling revitalized, I just felt tired and sleepy. When I got back to Manila around noon yesterday, I still went to work to take care of some stuff before finally surrendering to my inner couch potato and staying indoors the rest of the day. Good thing, too, since it rained torrentially the whole night last night.

I've been neglecting my home PC maintenance chores which I'll probably get to tonight, after watching Batman Begins. I hear it's a great movie and, fanboy that I am, I feel the distinct physical need to see this on the big screen.

Till next time, dear readers.

Oh, and here's a picture from a weekend we had in a resort called Punta Fuego. This happened last 18-19June. Great fun, really. I hope we do it again.

We left Manila early saturday morning and headed south to the mountain resort town of Tagaytay. After a great lunch there, we continued on to the beach town of Batangas where the resort was located.

We settled in and went swimming in the resort's amazing heated infinity pool that afternoon all the way into the evening. A mongolian buffet dinner capped off the evening's eating and led to us watching Starsky & Hutch in the resort's mini-theater before heading back to our room. The room, called a casita, had a balcony with a magnificent view (photo enclosed) which we maximised by having wine and beer right there. We turned in at 4am. On our way back to Manila, we stopped by a restaurant called Breakfast at Antonio's for lunch. All in all, a very satisfying weekend away from the big city.


23 June 2005

Sweet Freedom

Tomorrow, I head for Hong Kong.

Tonight, I stop worrying about work. Ah, what a relief! These 4 days feel like 4 WEEKS! And I've got pending projects to think about but, no, wait, I'm not going to work tomorrow and monday. Two sweet days of not being in the office, of not dealing with recalcitrant assistants, of not thinking about the next screw-up, of not being nervous about how our bosses will react to my latest effort at a marketing campaign.

It's almost enough to make me cry. Almost.

I've been remiss about watching movies, mainly because I have seemingly lost the ability to watch movies. I remember when I still had a girlfriend, we'd watch movies almost every week. It's a peculiarity of couples, I guess, that makes movies so... easy... as a weekend activity. Now, I've missed watching Mr & Mrs Smith as well as Batman Begins. Although I do plan on watching Batman Begins when I come back from my trip. It did just start last week so it should continue playing until next week at the least. I've heard rave reviews about this movie and I look forward to watching it. Did I forget to mention that I'm a huge fan?

Know what I miss most about dating? The kissing.


22 June 2005

Help for the Damned

Was pleasantly surprised today.

Remember that shitload of work that was dumped on me? Deadline is Friday. Problem is, I'm leaving for Hong Kong on Friday and will be on leave till Monday. Bad. Bad. Bad. Fortune smiled upon me today in the form of T, our resident IT manager assigned to my project. T managed to guide me through the work like a pilot guides a ship into harbor. I've finished both documents in time for a quick review tomorrow prior to sending it out to Head Office tomorrow afternoon, well ahead of their Friday deadline.

Sometimes, it's surprising the places where help can come from. I never expected T would provide so much advice and knowledge and, come to think of it, I'm ashamed to feel that none of my team members would be helpful. Guess I'm luckier than I thought. I've got good people on whom I can depend when push comes to shove.

Which gives me some breathing space to finally get that much-needed hair cut. God, how I need one. And it's past 5:30pm, so work is officially done.

For a day that started so crappily, it's turning out quite well.


21 June 2005

Internet Banking Upgrade

The company I work for is scheduled to have its internet banking service upgraded.

Unfortunately, this is not as simple as popping a CD-ROM into a drive and clicking "Install". There's a whole slew of planning and legal crap that goes on before the upgrade is even installed on a single server. As it happens, I was placed in charge of this project since I am the electronic channel manager. Whoop-dee-doo!

The worst part is that I've known about this for the past 4 months and I've been asking the headquarters guys to give us the work gradually so that we don't get overloaded. Unfortunately, these people have their own stupid timetable which, of course, they never consulted us about. So now, they've just passed a whole shitload of work on me with a deadline so close I can smell it. Definitely a recipe for disaster.

Compounding the problem is that I have to be the one to coordinate the actions across different departments and if my contact person happens to be on vacation, I'm screwed. Royally.

Suddenly, I hate this job.

Don't get me wrong, it's actually not a bad job. Sometimes, though, it feels really crappy.

I'm going to HK to celebrate my grandmother's 102nd birthday. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Oh my God, she's that old! So we're long-lived. It's not a crime. The grandma is bed-ridden though, and fading fast. She had a stroke last year and has never been the same since. I pray for her everytime I go to church.

Well, until next time, true believers!

17 June 2005

Of Photo Shoots and Couples

Thank God it's Friday!

We have a term in the office called "couples". It stands for "a couple of beers" and when someone starts saying "Couples? Couples?", it means he's asking if anyone's interested in a couple of beers after work. The term was heard as early as yesterday, actually, but we're likely going to have beers after work today.

Since I work in the marketing department of our office, we do photo shoots every so often for ads, either newspaper or flyer or whatever. We have one scheduled for tonight which means couples is going to commence much later than usual. Probably around 9:30pm or so. I actually have a date scheduled for today but I'm beginning to think I'll rain-check it for next week or something. Too much to do, too little time.

We had planned on going to Embassy. This is a 3-storey establishment that boasts a lounge, restaurant, and club all rolled into one. The club is top-notch with great DJ's and a huge dance floor, usually packed with heaving bodies and beautiful people in the wee hours of the morning. Yup, my kind of place!

Went to a friend's housewarming party last night. It was the 2nd housewarming party he'd had and, according to him, was the 2nd in an ongoing series of housewarming parties. Guy seems to want a very warm house. Oh well, it's his beer I'm drinking. No complaints here.

Anyway, here's to couples!

14 June 2005

Independence Day

We had no work yesterday.

In her benevolent wisdom (or lack thereof), the President of the Republic of the Philippines declared yesterday, 13June2005, as a special non-working holiday in celebration of Independence Day. Of course, the actual day falls on 12June2005, a Sunday. This is her way of appeasing office workers all over the country to vote for her in the next elections or, at the very least, to support her policies.

She's actually been doing this for the past couple of years. Ostensibly, her purpose is to promote domestic tourism. It's a 3-day weekend! See the rest of the country! Hit the beaches! The tag lines wear a little thin especially when she chooses to make the announcement Friday morning, leaving little room for planning a 3-day weekend away from home. It's called Holiday Economics.

Stupid politicians.

I'm not really a political kinda guy and whichever political party's in control is really not an issue with me. As long as I have my civil rights and I'm able to go about my business unhindered, I'm pretty ok. My policy has always been everyone works, no one quits.

Anyway, on to more pleasant pursuits. So, since it was a 3-day weekend, that gave us more chances to go out and have a blast.

Friday night: We had drinks at Piper's, a nearby bar/restaurant before heading to the house of a former colleague for an informal house warming (aye, more drinks!). This lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Hey, no work on Saturday for us anyways!

Saturday night: This was, unfortunately, a very dry saturday night. No going out for me.

Sunday night: After dinner with the folks, I made my way to Oyster Boy, a restaurant located within a well-known shopping area. Met up with some colleagues there and had a few beers with seafood. At 2am, thinking there was no work tomorrow anyway, we headed to Old Swiss Inn which is a swiss restaurant that happened to be open 24 hours. Had more food. Went home at 4am.

Monday: In deference to physical activity, I played badminton with some other colleagues today. After playing, we headed to the apartment building of some friends where we used their pool facilities. Got home at 10pm.

Tuesday: Argh!!! I'm back at work.

Typical for an office worker here? Absolutely!

12 June 2005

Moving Forward

I found out one of my High School buddies is getting married in December. This is, of course, in addition to one of my University buddies getting married in September. This is also in addition to one of my work buddies who got married 2 weeks ago.

I think you're beginning to get the drift of this post.

Right now, I'm a thirty-something working stiff whose siblings are all unmarried. Note that I'm the youngest of 3 siblings. For my parents, this will not do at all. In spite of the city's large size, we're a fairly small community. Instead of 6 degrees of separation, it's usually just 3 and, of that 3, one will most likely be a blood relative. The community here's fairly close-knit.

Suddenly, among my high school buddies, only 2 of us are still single (and the other one works in the USA). Every time we have a reunion, the married-single quotient becomes bigger and bigger. My parents remind us constantly about the need for family and their need for grandchildren.

Can't say I blame them. Dad's pushing 70 and Mom's pushing 60. Not many grandparental years left if you consider courtship, marriage, and pregnancy. The clock's ticking, even for a guy like me. And I thought only women had a biological clock.

This is getting depressing. I feel the sudden urge to open one of the bottles of wine here and just let loose. But, no, that would be a singular waste of an excellent bottle of Australian Shiraz.

I hate myself.

07 June 2005

PC Backup

Over the weekend, my PC crashed.

The constant electrical surges (common in this part of the world) during the rainy season thunderstorms caused the power supply on my PC to burn itself out to protect the other parts of my computer. Thus, come Sunday morning, all I got was a click as I pressed the power button and nothing happened.

Fear and panic gripped me then. All my files. All my programs. Gone. Poof.

I quickly disconnected the machine and brought it to a nearby shop called PC-Aid. These guys specialize in breathing life back into ailing computers. Like a sick relative, I cradled my CPU into the shop and helplessly searched for a helpful intern... err, technician, rather.

The problem was quickly diagnosed. The power supply had black smoke residue around the fan area. Clearly a burnout. The tech very efficiently swapped in a new power supply unit and plugged the PC into an outlet. With bated breath, I switched the PC on.

It lives!

And my data, my precious data, was intact. The tech warned me that it was possible the OS was slightly corrupted by the power surge and I should backup my data immediately. With this in mind, I bought several blank DVD's and proceeded to backup all my files. In the process, I managed to clear out a lot of junk on my hard drive.

Lesson learned: Always backup important data.

Back to work. It's going to be a long week ahead.

06 June 2005

Monday Blues

I hate mondays.

There is probably no office worker in the entire universe (unless you're a Little Green Man, LGM, from Star Command) who likes mondays. This is a universal truth. Mondays suck. You get a couple days off from work and then, bam!, you're back in the grind.

School starts this week for our country. Unlike in other countries which have 4 seasons, our country only has 2: dry (summer) and wet (rainy, no seasonal name for it, really). School starts when the rains come down. I've always found that a little strange. Just when it becomes difficult to get to school, school officially starts. We've been having torrential afternoon rains all June and, voila!, school starts. Kids have to brave torrential monsoon rains to get to class. Is there a more powerful demotivator for studying than heavy rains? What were they thinking???

School also brings with it a very very terrible thing: TRAFFIC. Living in the capital city of this country, traffic is pretty bad most days. Admittedly, we've been having it easy since traffic's fairly light when school's out for summer vacation. That brief idyllic period is now over. We not only get the grind from work, we now also get the grind from getting to work.

But enough of my griping. One must be optimistic to survive the week, after all.

I had loads of fun last Saturday night when a couple of friends invited me for drinks over at one of our houses. The place was huge but since there were only a few of us, we confined ourselves to the living room. At any rate, it was raining (again!) so the garden was off limits for us. Beers all around and chips galore. I got home at 4am.

'Nuff said.

04 June 2005

Friday Party @ Jill's

Had an office party at Jill's last night.

Jill's is a bar about 15 minutes drive from our office. The party was for 2 of our officemates who were both, in a way, moving on. One had just resigned and was going to graduate school. The other was being transferred to another department. The choice of Jill's was made partially because Jill's allows smoking inside the bar itself. Lately, the powers-that-be had decreed that there would be no smoking within bars/restaurants in the city. Fortunately, Jill's was just over the border in another city. Woo hoo!

Now, I don't smoke. But a lot of my friends do and, since I don't mind them smoking around me (as long as the smoke doesn't get blown my way), this worked out just fine.

Also, Jill's played 80's music on Friday nights with DJ Boyet Almazan on the turntables. A lot of us were children of the 80's and loved the music from that era. Thus, after dinner, we trooped to Jill's and tried our best to get smashed.

One thing you have to know about this country is that beer here is dirt cheap. In some places, a bottle of beer will cost 30 pesos. In US dollars, that's roughly 55 cents. Since Jill's was a fairly upscale place, beer was more expensive and came to 60 pesos (about 1.10 US dollars). Being in the 3rd world is great!

With music pounding and beer bottles clinking, the place filled up pretty fast. Jill's was a pretty popular place. There used to be another place that played 80's music called Dreambar but it was located in the no-smoking city and, once the rule was in place, that bar died out pretty fast. Pretty soon, we were fairly smashed but not exceedingly so. Fun, fun, fun all around!

We ended at roughly 2am and headed home, each to his own ride.

I love Fridays.

03 June 2005

Pilot Post

Thank God it's Friday.

Fridays are always cool events at our office. For one thing, we get to wear casual clothing. Of course, that might not be a big deal to some of you out there. Hell, a lot of you probably wear casuals daily. Unfortunately, our office is both conservative and high-strung. Office attire, please, at least until Friday rolls around.

I work in Manila which is the capital of the Republic of the Philippines. Some of you might not even know where this country is relative to where you are. Just to give you an idea, the Philippines is in Southeast Asia about 2 hours by plane from Hong Kong. For more information, you could try wikipedia.

Now, what's office life like in Manila? I would think that it's much the same as office life anywhere else. The Philippine flavor does make it somewhat unique and, as you'll see as this blog progresses, some really weird stuff happens down here (or up there, depending on where you're reading this from).

As this is my first post, I won't make it too long. I'll probably be posting a couple times a week though not daily.