My First Google News Author Results

June 3, 2011

I have been writing for Asian Correspondent as a blogger for the past 18 months or so after managing my own blog about Hong Kong life since August 2005. It’s been a while isn’t it? I wrote more than 1,500 blog posts for AC all these years with topics ranging from the city’s education system, way of life, environment and a bit of political topics converging into one common denominator: Hong Kong.

While searching for a topic at Google News, I gleaned at results and was pleasantly surprised fellow AC blogger Tonyo Cruz’s name as a byline of news-blog website appeared as one of the results. I immediately checked entries hoping to find my name. If someone from AC already showed up at Google News, maybe my name could also be there already. I checked and I have four. Good one.

Birthday Greetings

December 25, 2010

As you grow older you meet more friends. A new colleague, a cousin’s girlfriend, a client’s new project manager, a new property agent, a seatmate on a flight back home. As the number of friends grows the chance of getting invited to a party or invitation to join a group eventually grows, especially if a person is sociable.

I admit that in most cases, I am not fond of making an effort to greet birthday celebrants. In Facebook, a social media site that allows long lost friends, classmates and family members to connect, is a convenient way to greet birthday celebrants. When I celebrated my birthday four days ago, my Facebook profile was flooded with greetings. Greetings from contacts was quite overwhelming. Quite frankly I never interacted with some of them for quite some time — the day they added me as their Facebook friend. Does this mean they are thoughtful enough to remember my birthday or were they did it because birthday reminders are an important part of Facebook’s social fabric? To me, the effort of making someone special on his/her birthday is the most important thing.

Consider that I seldom greet people through their Facebook walls — I prefer to greet them via private messages — these friends ask nothing in return nor didn’t wait for me to make the greeting before they return the favor. Overall I got about 121 Facebook birthday greetings including manually typed messages and greetings generated through Facebook apps.

I feel a bit selfish or insensitive for failing to thank them in the wall. I acknowledge birthdays are important milestones in life but lately I also observe among people 30 years old or older, is that celebrating their birthdays is a reminder they are getting older by the day. Unmarried ones and those who are not in a relationship carry an even bigger burden placed on them by peers. Sort of an indirect post teenage bullying if you may want to call it.

Times have changed indeed. When I was in college, and even at early years after graduation, I received several birthday cards and e-cards from friends. Now, they all congregate at social media and say their greetings; if I were anti-social and refuse to sign up at Facebook, will I get birthday cards or simply left off by the raging social bandwagon? I don’t know. But this time, I don’t want to experiment.

Anyway, to all my friends, thank you for your thoughts and birthday wishes.

Being an Altar Boy at Immaculate Conception Parish

September 20, 2010

I was baptized as a member of the Roman Catholic church at Immaculate Conception Parish, a few hundred meters away from home. Growing up, I hear Mass at this church 95% of the time. While we’re always looking up to our parish priest Fr Henry C. as a respectable spiritual leader in the community, he shares the church stage with young kids who assist him on communions, serving of water and wine, or carrying the Bible Missal.

As a sixth grader, such sight was something to behold: white cassocks, behaved composure, and popular to girls that was something I could bear. The thing I’m not sure of is how I can handle being in front of hundreds of parishioners on a Sunday mass. The mere effort of going on stage to have my ribbon pinned by my mother was sort of monumental task already, let alone perform folk or modern dance without innate talent could invite disaster for me (and entertainment to everyone else).

But enough with the shyness. I wasn’t alone in the classroom who had the interest in becoming an altar boy. Rodel G. and Jergen S. also wanted to become one. So one Wednesday we heard mass and afterwards approached the altar boy and told him of our intentions. We were informed that the next “recruitment” comes early school year, just in time when we’re incoming freshmen at Holy Cross of Mintal. Until recently, I still kind of played some options where to study in high school. I was awarded full scholarship at UM Guianga Junior College for topping the entrance exams. However, should I pursue this full scholarship, I need to commute from home to go to school. When I was offered another full scholarship from the Relief Association of Southeast Asia to study at Holy Cross of Mintal, the decision has been made.

Our altar boy group photo, taken during my freshman year. Photo credit: Rico Pulanco.

I didn’t play around thoughts on the mechanics and procedures of being an altar boy until two months later. During summer, my sister, a cousin and I attended Sunday sessions as members of Legion of Mary. We had our prayer meetings at the church vicinity, and I couldn’t help but observe the church altar, the altar boy seats and what’s beneath that big stone book.

By June, it seemed that our interest in joining the Knights of the Altar Society, as the organization was called, was overwhelmed by the new environment I experience at Holy Cross of Mintal. We now wear uniforms, sing To Christ Through Mary every morning, and met a lot more new faces coming from all corners of our political district. But it didn’t mean our willingness to become altar boys waned. During the first few weeks of school, everyone was encouraged to join various clubs. Science clubs for science geeks enthusiasts, English and Dramatics Club for those who have been doing declamation as talent, Herodutos for those… I don’t know, forget about it. Sr Violeta T. called for interested students who wish to serve the mass (at the time a very attractive recruitment approach) and almost half of the boys in St Agnes class signed up. We had regular meetings presided by the club president we call Kuya Lagang. Eventually those who joined for the joyride evaporated and the remaining ones

One of the most “exciting times” as an altar boy was to join the pilgrimage to different barangays under Immaculate Conception Parish and bring with us statue of the Holy Infant of Prague for parishioners to kiss the image. Along the way, we visit small villages for the first time, get chased by dogs and later on accused of stealing from the donation box. My first “assignment” was at Mintal Relocation (now Barangay Sto Nino), Bago Oshiro and Catalunan Grande. It was purely a voluntary basis but I recall almost everyone joined. For me, I just want to ride the jeepney going somewhere, devoid of fear of getting lost. When the three-day event culminates at the Holy Innocents Day, we gather at the convent and enjoy a few scoops of ice cream with the parish priest and seminarians. I imagine how simple our dreams then.


One of the highlights of being an altar boy is to join the Davao City diocese wide “convention” where we meet (actually more of compete) altar boys from other parishes at the St Francis Xavier Seminary in Catalunan Grande at the beginning of the year. We hear the mass, listen to the concert featuring seminarians, present our numbers and play various parlor games. One bonus of joining this annual event is we each get a nicely printed shirt we will be wearing on special functions the rest of the year.

Photo credit: www.blogsilog.com

Philweb Memories

September 18, 2010

In not so distant past, I was one ambitious monkey attempting to dive into cyber space at the dawn of the Web. By the time I was officially enrolled in the industry, the unraveling of dotcom bust already took place a dozen timezones behind. But I was glad it happened that way. Otherwise, I could be cultivating a career quite different from what I have now.

After finishing Computer Engineering at UIC, working there wasn’t exactly my plan. However, maybe because I thought it was the safest route to start a career, I’d further my learning by doing BOTH teaching and programming or I was eager to recoup the educational investment I made with my alma mater (yes, I thought about it), it wasn’t a difficult decision to extend my stay at the University.

But after three years, I thought it was enough. So by June 2000, I left UIC at the time when the new school year is starting. (School calendar in the Philippine education system starts in June.) I remembered talking to the school president S. Ma Assumpta David and trying to be firm with my decision. I thought she respected it and didn’t offer to persuade me to stay.

Two weeks of homestay and curtailed income passed before I got a confirmation I was offered a job in Cagayan de Oro City, a good six hour bus ride from Davao City — along the way passing by the house of my future wife. I have relatives in the city where I could stay. And I thought that my journey of hundreds (or thousands of miles) should begin with this step, no matter if it’s more than just a single one.

Thanks to Rizza R., a childhood friend and neighbor who referred me to the job, and an employee leaving the company, I got in. Interestingly, I realized that this reunion marks another milestone between me and Rizza. We went to the same grade school together. We were classmates in high school. And we took the same course in UIC. Now, we’re colleagues. I also came to know a few more in the office. Candice C., Shelley S., Roy Y., Meg V., Kent, D., Alex, Chui O., Edward N., Sir Chavs and Jimmar R. Our office was at Fr. Masterson Avenue, in the third floor of a building called White House because of its immaculate white painting that stands out of the neighborhood.

We’re only about ten people in the office, so it was really an intimate group. We shared lunch together. My aunt Flora prepares packed lunch so I had no problem waking up early and cooking my food. But at times I just want to try what colleagues want to have for lunch. I remember buying mongo at a house located near the office. At work, it’s not unusual to play MP3 from a PC with Winamp; we only got to play what we want to hear. During this time, downloading music through Napster was still prevalent.

In my effort to be with the family every week, I take the Rural Transit bus on Friday nights and arrive in Davao at about 7 in the morning the following day. As I get home, I hit the bed immediately and wake up at about 11, just in time for lunch. I know I had only a few hours left before I pack my things and make the return trip to Cagayan de Oro. By Sunday afternoon, I am already at Ecoland terminal waiting for my bus to leave Davao.

After work, we sometimes hang out at a friend’s house or we ate dinner together. We played Starcraft a lot! I guess we had a lot of plans that time, like going to the beach or other type of adventure. Unfortunately, they didn’t materialize because I was recalled to the Manila office. I thought the move was killjoy. But I realized this was the reason I left UIC.

Cagayan de Oro was a favorite city of mine. As a kid, we go for summer vacation prelude to the exciting Bohol adventure. For some reason I remember urging my mother if I could study high school there. But the idea was frowned upon, and now I can’t imagine why I made that absurd request. Apart from meeting my relatives (mother’s side), my job in Cagayan de Oro also gave me the opportunity to meet my aunt Sylvia a few years before she died of cancer.

In the office we built this e-commerce suite called e-Padala. I thought the system was promising (Oracle database and competent Meg V. as DBA) but the execution was poor. Procedures were lax at best (not scalable, no strict coding practice and a nightmare system to take over, from an incoming I was asked to move to Manila to finish things.

While it wasn’t my first time to go to Manila, I was still mesmerized by its size. I was with Meg and Sir Deck P. reassigned in Philweb in the posh Enterprise Tower in Makati. Staring at tall buildings was overwhelming — not that they’re taller than Hong Kong skyscrapers — and you’d feel you’re a small dot in a big organization. No longer the easy going lifestyle I enjoyed at the White House. In Manila, you have to hurry up. Even if our office is just one jeepney — or a ticycle if you wake up a bit late — ride away.

Our staff house was located along Estrella Avenue, near Rockwell. It wasn’t big (in fact we were crowding in the rooms), but good enough for newcomers in the city. It has air conditioning unit that’s loud enough to wake you up at night. (I have to say many of my house mates snore in their sleep, so if you’re among last to hit the bed, good luck.) My stay at the Estrella staff house also revealed Metro Manila’s weakness. One of the strongest typhoons in the year left Manila flooded and us unable to leave the staff house. Ironically, as water was everywhere down the street our faucet couldn’t produce a drop of water. We had to rely on bottled water as tap water has become an unreliable source. This reminds me of Davao City, where water flowing out of our tap is safe for drinking and buying bottled water was considered a crazy idea. And we seldom experience waterless faucets too.

In the morning colleagues just rush to the bathroom and head to work in a hurry. Many of us just take our breakfast on the road, or at the fast food area (notably Jollibee) of The Enterprise Tower. For dinner I usually eat at the fastfood at Landmark on my own. This made me miss my mother’s cooking. I was always told that in Manila, every move you make costs money. I guess having this dinner instead of enjoying the company of family members and homemade cooking is part of it. From a predictable life at the UIC campus in May to a new layer of freedom in CDO in July and a chaotic Manila in September, this is the break I’ve been waiting for.

If I accomplished something, it was not seeing the beta version of e-Padala but in landing another job at Zurich Insurance at nearby Citibank Tower. When I told Sir Chavs via instant messaging that I have something to share by the time I return to CDO in October, he already understood I was leaving. I did not only bid farewell to colleagues I only got to work with for two and a half months. I also had to bid goodbye to my aunt Flora and uncle Lito as I packed my clothes and take the evening bus trip to Davao.

Comedian Brothers and Quadro de Alas

May 19, 2010

As a youngster in high school during the age of Roxette, Romnick-Sheryl love team and Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror, I belonged to a small group of like-minded classmates who live life of simplicity. Or so how I remembered it. My first year class of St Agness under Mrs Alminaza was composed of students in the upper class who inherited friendships right from the sixth grade section Tulip under Mrs Umusig at Mintal Elementary School.

The game of spin a bottle
It was a time when we started getting invites from classmates who celebrate birthdays at simple parties at home and getting teased at the opposite sex is also blossoming. I knew that the highlight of the simple celebration isn’t the blowing of candles or opening of gifts. But it was the game of spin the bottle where a poor hapless 7-Up bottle gets rotated as many times as possible. Surrounded by eight or nine people, curious yet nervous as the bottle gradually brings itself to a halt. A game master, often times Rodel G. or Irmina B., decides where the bottle’s mouth is pointing and is then asked whether to take errands or answer a special question. The lucky (or unlucky one, depending on who you ask) is pretty much aware about the mechanics of the game; it is intended to create an atmosphere of giggling preteen students manifesting signs of puppy love. Oh, I mentioned about Romnick-Sheryl Regal Films tandem already, right?

“Truth” questions revolve around the following: who is your crush, who is the cutest girl/boy in class, have you loved someone already, and who? “Consequence” punishments typically consist of errands like bringing a flower to someone, tapping him/her at the back or winking at someone cute.

The bottle has pointed towards Fe S., and as usual, she’s very coy about it and pretends she’s not interested to reveal who’s the man of the hour; while the team starts to tease her into submission, team leader Irmina has the loudest voice convincing enough to make anyone put up with any question or command given out there. Fe makes things interesting by blurting out that her admiration goes out to someone outside of the circle of friends. The sudden admission — without naming names — either made the girls even more curious, and guys a bit frustrated none of them got to attract the pretty classmate. Eventually, every one wants to be in the spotlight of being asked who’s their crush in hopes of getting paired to someone they like. But what about if a boy or a girl gets paired to more than one? We’re not yet aware of third-party relationships but certainly we feel slighted if the one used to be teased at us gets anointed with a new partner.

Cecile A and Rodel G., Aldrin E. and Rizza R., Myra S. and John C., occasionally Warly A. and Cecile A. or Ray B and Agnes C. Ahhh, the beauty of my classmates’ creativity when it comes to getting everybody’s feet wet in the world of love affair. (Sorry if my pairing isn’t very accurate, like many items in this article, I am purely speculating.)

Oops, everyone needs to get in the spin-the-bottle “spotlight” before 8:30pm strikes, the then appointed curfew for the youngsters.

First taste of ice box cake
On one occasion, the graduation party at Joanne V’s house could have been more lively if we Rodel and I were there. I was sure that the game of spin the bottle must have been played at that occasion and how the gang must have missed the two of us. There was a heavy downpour at the night of our grade school graduation. For some reason I can’t recall, I handed over an umbrella to someone so he or she can attend Joanne’s party at home. The morning after, I asked Rodel to join me to come to Joanne’s house at Golden Shower street (our street names in Mintal were named after flowers) to pick up the umbrella. Apparently, Joanne left some desserts for us; sweet thing she calls ice box cake. I guess that’s the precursor to mango float and similar variants I come to crave for.

Scrapbook galore
During the grade school-high school transition, from bulingit kids to pretending-to-be-grown-ups, we gradually abandoned the idea of scrap books — notebooks converted into Q and A forms — for fear of being confiscated by overzealous teachers who wish we made better use of our notes and time. The autograph ideas was good while it lasted. But its brilliance soon faded along with stationary bartering business as we shifted into other interests. During our last months in grade school, we found ourselves filling up autographs of mostly female classmates who painstakingly prepared the sheets with questions the night before: from the unsuspecting “Favorite singer” and “Favorite color” to the nosy “Who was your first love” and “Who was your first kiss”. I guess to them, it was a good-natured investment of time and effort to indirectly investigate the love affairs and other personal distinctiveness of otherwise tight-lipped friends. At the time nobody could blame them for such level of curiosity. As a matter of fact, nobody could blame us for eagerly filling those scrapbooks during cleaning time of Mrs Raquel’s Home Economics class.

From left: Warlito, Aldrin, Rodel and Irmina. From right, Jergen and future brother-in-law Lloyd.

One day during our junior or senior years, Joanne V. brought up the old sentimental scrap book. Some of those featured in the compilation pleaded Joanne to keep the book to herself than be embarrassed for such naive responses. Love is like a bubble gum, kung mupilit makabuang.

Comedian Brothers
Warlito A., the diminutive but active pal and fellow RASEA scholar from Catalunan Pequeno, Aldrin E., a friend we came to know as a volleyball varsity player at District Meet were the latest additions to this tightly bonded friends composed of classmates, church mates and neighbors. Although new faces were added in our widening circle of friends, some friends have drifted away a bit. Christopher B. and Ray B., two of our cast members of the group Comedian Brothers, coined by the musically-inclined Rodel G. decided to take other routes. Christopher continued his studies in Cebu while Ray transferred from Holy Cross of Mintal to SPED. Who would ever forget the comical Jergen S. and his endless passion for illustrated comics and toy robots of all shapes, sizes and levels of heroism and villainy. With Rodel, Christopher, Ray and Jergen, I became the fifth member of the group called Comedian Brothers, intended to poke fun at others (but mostly at ourselves) during Christmas party and impromptu program of our Music teacher Ms Blanco. Personally, I was just dragged at it but for the sake of fun, I hesitantly joined the four stooges on stage performing acts that I thought was hilarious to the rest of Tulip class.

Quadro de Alas
Nonetheless, the group was still pretty intact, as evidenced by occasional sightings during school breaks such as Simbang Gabi and Easter Sunday masses at Immaculate Conception Parish where I also serve as an altar boy. At our third year in high school, Dante P. who moved from Kumintang Street to somewhere near Joanne V and Grecel S’s. That made him in close proximity with me, Rodel and John C. At the time, we often go to school together; John passes by Rodel’s and the two would whistle their trademark noises to remind me to be ready.


We then pick up Dante and walk towards our Bandera Espanola or Golden Showers. We do this morning and afternoon. Late after classes, when we were dismissed early (or when there is no Citizen’s Armed Training recruitment drills) we go home together retracing steps we did earlier in the day. But we won’t forget to pass by the small store near the street corner whose “chorizo isda” sign Rodel fondly mocks. Our afternoon is usually concluded with a short stop for ice candy and stick of fried bananas, where I often get treated by Rodel and John — something I am indebted big time. It was all laughter in that small spot we occupy, mostly caused by Dante’s endless pranks to passing students or funny recollections mimicking Mr Valero, our class adviser, kicking Jonathan Edward P. or his frequent use of “commodities” and “goods and services” terms in his Economics class. As the de facto leader of the team — with some degree of dissent from Rodel — Dante named our group as Quadro de Alas, for no apparent reason. We were not comedians like what we struggled to be as Comedian Brothers. We never performed any number during convocations, even if Dante could have taught us a few dance steps or Rodel’s prowess as keyboardist would be enough to wow the crowd.

To this day, I loved to recall that simplicity of what we did, even if it sounds overly corny, when we look at them in greater detail.

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A Night with The Cure

August 1, 2007

I was able to watch The Cure live in concert last Monday night at AsiaWorld-Expo in Tung Chung with Dei and Jay. It was the first major concert I attended to — since Gary Valenciano’s performance during the Hong Kong Harbourfest 2003 — so it is something special.

By all means I am sure a lot of people would agree it was worth the money, it wasn’t exhilirating at all times. And it’s not all the fault of Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson and Jason Cooper.

Disparity Among Ticket Holders

I managed to secure the cheapest ticket, worth HK$380, thanks to Dei. I guess scalpers could go home empty handed as tickets have probably never sold out. Our seat offered us a tiny view of the band although Smith’s signature moves and gothic outfit is still easy to pinpoint. A few meters ahead of us are those paying a little over HK$500 but I doubt if they ever had much advantage to those in the “general admission” section. If those folks paid two hundred bucks more, they’d be joining the crowd standing close to the stage and experience a different atmosphere that’s unmistakably more lively compared to us, who are like seated on our couch, watching the band on DVD via a brand-new entertainment system plus the ambience.

Size of Venue
I won’t bargain for what I don’t deserve but I guess the enormity of the venue deterred the audience from acting on a party mood. The sight of empty seats and covered blocks seemed to temper the crowd from strutting the old moves in apparent attempt to dance with nostalgia. If only the crowd was allowed to congregate at the middle of the venue, owners of cheaper tickets at the back of those 500s and 700s owners. It would have been a riot.

A huge television screen placed on the side would be a good idea so visitors from the backseat don’t have to confide into listening to the music. One major reason we went to the venue is because we wanted to see The Cure. But I guess our entrance fee wasn’t enough to see a non-microscopic view of the band.

I can only wish the atmosphere was like this (though the price would probably be too much for me!)

Uninspired Audience?

The bulk of the audience was supposed to be in their late 30’s or forties. Their presence could help trigger an outburst of collective energy they last shared as far back in their heydays or as recently as last weekend in Lan Kwai Fong. But it seemed that I didn’t see much of it. Maybe it’s because of the type of venue, unfamiliarity of many songs or the maybe the aging performers themselves.

Programming of Songs

Is it just me or the sequence of the songs need to be rearranged to suit the type of audience we have for the night? Lovesong was played during the first hour, Friday I’m In Love at the second. In between those popular songs are the lesser known ones from their albums dating back between 1979 (Three Imaginary Boys) to 2000 (The Bloodflowers). For every one popular song (“In Between Days”, “Lovesong”, “Friday I’m In Love”, “Close To Me”) are two/three unfamiliar sounding ones although the performance was unquestionably superb. The two encore performances were a fantastic way to end the night.

The Aging Band

At one point, Smith calmed down the semi-electric crowd “Please, please, quiet a bit”. The reaction was rather abrupt and everyone seemed to stare at the fabulous four on subsequent songs that aren’t too popular or at least rings a bell. In my observation, the audience isn’t inspired enough (see above captioned) to go wild in front of their idols. Neither was the band, with the exception of bassist Simon Gallup, who has consistently delivered an impressive stage presence. I have never watched their previous concerts even on television so I guess this is the way they treat the audience. Don’t get me wrong, Smith doesn’t have to dance before the crowd to impress. His presence is enough. And he’s already 48 years old ladies and gentlemen.

Nonetheless, this concert is a wonderful experience to me. Pete and Adie were there as well as Che, Benedict and Maya. Thank you The Cure for coming to Hong Kong and sharing your wonderful songs to us. It was a great 180 minutes listening to your live music!

Thank You Friends in Hong Kong

December 27, 2006

Year 2006 is about to fold and once again, a year has passed filled with lifelong memories.

I’d like to dedicate this post to friends here who have been just great to be around with. As always, there’s no chronological order here:

Peter Mercado.
A busy buddy but always finds time to share his time. He is also a generous host, offering his place not only for household meetings but also for Xbox 360s, karaoke, practices and free table tennis venue!

Karen Lourdes Obispo.
When I boarded the plane to Hong Kong for the first time, she was at my side. I think she knows me more than anybody of my friends here do. A
friend through thick and thin, Karen will get married on January 2007. Congratulations!

Decibel Faustino.
Dei got in touch with me through the SFC web site while seeking for a community in Hong Kong. Since then she gets along with guys and gals very well. I am very glad the site became a bridge between Dei and SFC Hong Kong community.

Zandro Barcelona.
A tireless believer and a proven leader, Zandro was my flatmate from early 2002 to late 2003. His importance to guiding the Hong Kong community of singles is immeasurable. He is well-liked and gets along very well to everyone too.

Joyce Kwong.
I knew Joyce before I moved into the same building where she and her family lives. A thoughtful person, she brings me some food upstairs,
has some meaningful gifts, accompanies me around Quarry Bay for a walk on any fine evening.

Mark Francis Tan.
Mark is a member of our SFC household. At the start he appears inactive because he seldom joins our gatherings but one event changed him 180
degrees. He is an inspiring bro who seems to say YES all the time in the name of service. Makes me wanna serve more!

Ginny Wong.
Ginny is a special person. Our desks sit next to each other in the office. But more than just officemates, we are good friends who spend time outdoors on certain ocassions, causing some first time experiences and nice dinners.  Her thoughtfulness would have earned her my Person of the Year if I had the chance to pick one.

Samuel Moyani.
Sam is a passionate guy I worked with at Phil Women’s University. I don’t know if he does it to everyone but whenever I have requests, he ensures everything goes well and my requests are met.

Romeo Olympia Jr.
Among the most intelligent guys in town, Junjun is a person who is gifted with superior intelligence and wisdom to handle things from organizing events to giving talks. He is a certified gentleamn too so I’d say Aileen is blessed to have Junjun for a husband.

Melissa Janeo.
Sasa is a friend recently met this year. But just like Dei, she seems to get along to anyone, even if she is the only girl in the group. She also has a servant’s heart that trials in life could not prevent her from serving. A great host whose cozy home is open to us all the time (once she is around).

Edralin Doria.
Like Sasa, I met Eboi just this year and just like Mark (his twin?) he is a great friend to be with, whether it’s our household meetings, fellowships or just hanging out outdoors.

Cissy Yim.
Cissy is from Hong Kong but currently in Cambodia for a service mission. The only person I featured in my blog as far as I can remember, because of her outstanding work and friendship.

Edna Nayre.
Edna is not from Hong Kong and no longer in Hong Kong. But she deserves to be in this list. She is our coordinator at Mt Carmel Church in Wan Chai, keeping our lector schedule in check. But what I am indebted more is when she bailed me out of further trouble from my most unforgettable experience in Hong Kong (around February 2005).

Charlene Andrade. A kind hearted kindergarten teacher. She seems to talk quite a lot, but that’s understandable because she deals with children 70% of the time. Which is why when I organized a ping pong game, she was just ecstatic to join the gang.

Maintaining Friendster Friends

July 19, 2006

OK, it’s not about Buhay Hong Kong. Let’s talk about Friendster. (I did talk about it before.)

It seems that many are asking why can’t I add newly found acquaintances here in Friendster. I don’t add everyone who requests; it does not mean that if you have a thousand contacts, you are the friendliest of them all. Neither do someone who has two friends in the list is the one shunned away by everybody.

I have even rejected testimonials not because they were offensive, they were just those animated ones that I thought were going to make my page look dirty. So please don’t take offense with me refusing an offer.

I also delete friends who are either away for so long, posting no photos, using undesirable graphics or simply failing to keep up with our communication.  My rough estimate is that the saturation point is around 200 contacts, which is still less than the other list I made at my web site, many of friends listed there are not part of Friendster family. We have many friends but we can’t just enumerate them all.  So my latest count of 361, which includes former officemates, school mates, pen pals and people I met in Hong Kong, it is still way below the total number.

Here are some informal rules that regulate my account. Don’t take them too seriously:
1. Must have a real profile photo – It’s ok to have bf/gf in the background, not a sci-fi character, or text graphics. Having a celebrity pic shows one’s obsession or insecurity.

2. Must be logged in at least once a week – Constant "more than 3 weeks" does not provide me with relevant updates. That’s what Friendster is for, getting to know more about your friends than looking for new ones. Wait, just logged in does not make sense either. Must do any of the following: post blog,  post photos, post bulletin.

3. Must be able to express themselves through post blogs – Can be grammatically wrong (I do have these) or have spelling mistakes (ditto). What’s important is to be able to express themselves in an interesting way without being too offensive through gossips, deceit and other controversies.

4. Must not be attention-grabber – Exercise the proper use of bulletins, blogs and not deceive people to get attention. To me photos are the real attention grabbers. The most despicable ones ones are people asking for testimonials to sweeten their profile and artificially appear they are goody goody guys out there who deserve more friends with those Name1, Name2, Name3 and so on profiles.

5. Must produce clean layout of profile – The advent of Myspace layouts have disrupted the web usability. Music playing even without me turning it on. Contrasting colors. Mouse pointers bigger than the real mouse (yes, the mammal). Crazy font sizes. Just plain stupid to me.

If it was easy to add (someone messaged me and immediately asked if I
could add her even if I do not know her yet), should it be easier to
dispose of as well?

If you are not paying attention to your friend counts, it does not matter but if your last recall says you had 192 friends and the next time you logged in, it lost one. "Why would someone take time to remove me from his/her list?" What’s even more difficult to figure out is who actually disappeared from the list? (unless Friendster will install a new feature "You were removed as a friend by Anne").

Was it because of hatred, jealousy or just plain "cleanup" process? Hard to figure out, right? But don’t get me wrong, let no online activity tear down friendship just because the other party can’t see your facial expression when typing your thoughts or couldn’t figure out the smiley ^_^ actually means. And it resulted to misunderstanding, an ailment easily remedied when talking on the phone or in person. Personal touch through traditional means still rule. That is why phone card dealers at Worldwide House still exist even with the proliferation of Skype, Yahoo! Messenger with Voice or Google Talk and other VOIP technologies.

Again these are sometimes way too straightforward and does not even relate to attitudes closely so don’t take this too seriously. But you are what you produce in Friendster. Be responsible. If you are a teenager with bouts of rebellion with parents and want to be identified as a rocker ala Avril Lavigne fame, so be it.

There should be freedom expressed the right way. Otherwise, let the purging begin.

As Tears/Years Roll By

February 16, 2006

On this Victoria Park pavement I came walking
On a fine chilly December evening
I grabbed my phone for I have to call you
And ask how is everything going

The phone kept ringing, ringing and ringing
There has been no answer from you
In excitement my heart kept pounding
At the eighth ring, still no response from you

How can this be that you’ve ignored me
When just a week ago at Causeway Bay we laughed freely
Thinking that you have placed your trust in me
Your refusal to my e-mails calls and SMS has sent me into misery

Before I sing Cliff Richard’s theme song
Allow me to think if I ever did something wrong
I’m so afraid to show my feelings
I have sailed a million ceilings

Remember the time when I wake you in the morning
Our movie trips to Cyberport, UA and JP Cinemas
Our church visits together I thought was the beginning
Now I realize I was just dreaming

I can only look at the photos of the happy past
When we’re with friends and being together was a blast
I’d admit I fell in love with someone else
But later on I found this chance with you shall never pass

Being there for me during those trying times
You are really someone special
I spent time writing love letters for you at the Central Library
Only to find out nothing beats being vocal

I never wanted to let this thing happen
For I value you much as a friend
But the commitment was intense I prayed to God to let me be
Your steward here on Earth until my breathe’s end

There were nights when we stayed late, and even once until the break of dawn
Those thoughts fill my mind for days on and on
Your time with me was very important present and past
For I do not know if the last time we’re together would be our last

I love you, you don’t need to ask me
You can see what I do and I’ve told you quite frankly
But you don’t seem to feel the same way
That’s why you let your phone ring all the way

Days have changed dramatically,
And as I age here in Hong Kong I feel even more isolated
Friends are everywhere but their suggestions are not answers to the questions
Nor their plans are not solutions to the problems

There were times I could not sleep at night
As you can see the evidence in my eyes
Looking at the photo album remembering the past
Realizing some things really doesn’t last

I still remember our first date
On a downtown fastfood we thought it wasn’t great
I loved to recall the late-night messages
When at 12 midnight or 1am, we were still both awake

Remember the time when I thought a lot of signs were pointing towards me and you
When I realize they are possibly out of coincidence and would be too good to be true
Now I crash back to reality needing to teach myself
That in life nothing should be

Do you recall that fateful evening
When I realized you caught me cheating
No amount of crying or explaining
Can help me win back the feeling

Maybe it’s about time I remove our photos together
On that small yet elegant photo frame
And the images of us next to each other all these years
I have to quit playing this silly game

I thought you penned the song “Don’t Speak”
For you know how I feel, when I am strong and when I am weak
Now I still do not know that as years este tears roll by
Why is there a word “good” in “goodbye”

As Tears/Years Roll By

On this Victoria Park pavement I came walking
On a fine chilly December evening
I grabbed my phone for I have to call you
And ask how is everything going

The phone kept ringing, ringing and ringing
There has been no answer from you
In excitement my heart kept pounding
At the eighth ring, still no response from you

How can this be that you’ve ignored me
When just a week ago at Causeway Bay we laughed freely
Thinking that you have placed your trust in me
Your refusal to my e-mails calls and SMS has sent me into misery

Before I sing Cliff Richard’s theme song
Allow me to think if I ever did something wrong
I’m so afraid to show my feelings
I have sailed a million ceilings

Remember the time when I wake you in the morning
Our movie trips to Cyberport, UA and JP Cinemas
Our church visits together I thought was the beginning
Now I realize I was just dreaming

I can only look at the photos of the happy past
When we’re with friends and being together was a blast
I’d admit I fell in love with someone else
But later on I found this chance with you shall never pass

Being there for me during those trying times
You are really someone special
I spent time writing love letters for you at the Central Library
Only to find out nothing beats being vocal

I never wanted to let this thing happen
For I value you much as a friend
But the commitment was intense I prayed to God to let me be
Your steward here on Earth until my breathe’s end

There were nights when we stayed late, and even once until the break of dawn
Those thoughts fill my mind for days on and on
Your time with me was very important present and past
For I do not know if the last time we’re together would be our last

I love you, you don’t need to ask me
You can see what I do and I’ve told you quite frankly
But you don’t seem to feel the same way
That’s why you let your phone ring all the way

Days have changed dramatically,
And as I age here in Hong Kong I feel even more isolated
Friends are everywhere but their suggestions are not answers to the questions
Nor their plans are not solutions to the problems

There were times I could not sleep at night
As you can see the evidence in my eyes
Looking at the photo album remembering the past
Realizing some things really doesn’t last

I still remember our first date
On a downtown fastfood we thought it wasn’t great
I loved to recall the late-night messages
When at 12 midnight or 1am, we were still both awake

Remember the time when I thought a lot of signs were pointing towards me and you
When I realize they are possibly out of coincidence and would be too good to be true
Now I crash back to reality needing to teach myself
That in life nothing should be

Do you recall that fateful evening
When I realized you caught me cheating
No amount of crying or explaining
Can help me win back the feeling

Maybe it’s about time I remove our photos together
On that small yet elegant photo frame
And the images of us next to each other all these years
I have to quit playing this silly game

I thought you penned the song "Don’t Speak"
For you know how I feel, when I am strong and when I am weak
Now I still do not know that as years este tears roll by
Why is there a word "good" in "goodbye"