Okay, the title was just my way of making this entry more interesting. Truth be told, this is about my trip to the DFA last Saturday to renew my passport in time for my Singapore trip in November.
While lining up for the last step of the process (verification of my info and picture-taking), the woman next to me received a call. Apparently it was someone asking for directions. This is what she said:
"Bale, sumakay ka ng jeep either sa Buendia o sa Gil Puyat! (me: Whaaaaaaat???) Oo, kahit alin sa dalawang yun. Tutal almost the same naman sila e."
I nearly died laughing (inside, of course). They’re the same street, woman! How can they be options? I feel sorry for the poor soul who had to rely on her for directions.
When it was finally my turn, my eyes were suddenly drawn to a brand-spanking-new Wacom Bamboo tablet. I looked around, and ALL of the encoders had the same thing. People, this wasn’t that small plastic strip and cheap pen that they let you sign your electronic signature with at the LTO. This was a Wacom Bamboo, the same tablet that art directors and graphic artists who work in ad agencies use. Each one costs around P5,000!!!
I don’t know about you, but P250,000 (I estimated 50 evaluators in the room) seems a bit much to spend so that I can provide the DFA with my electronic signature.
People always have something to say when they see my Lomo Fisheye 2 and find out that it’s a film camera:
"Uy, old school!" "So… wala siyang LCD sa likod?" "Paano mo alam kung maganda yung kuha mo?" "Luma na ba yan?" "May gumagamit pa pala ng film?"
Now, I consider myself a techie, with my fair share of gadgets. I own an Apple MacBook, a 2nd-gen iPod Nano, a 5MP Sony Ericsson C902 Cyber-shot mobile phone, and a Sony PSP. I’m getting myself an iPad (and maybe selling the PSP) by the end of this year. At work, I use an Apple iMac with a 27-inch screen. I have basic Adobe Photoshop skills, intermediate iMovie and GarageBand powers, and I can find you a pirated copy (complete with serial numbers for every version) of just about any program you want.
But yes. In this digital day and age, I still lug around a film camera, complete with AA batteries for the flash and spare canisters of film.
I bought my Fisheye 2 from the Team Manila store in Power Plant 6 months ago, and since then, I’ve brought it to Boracay, Baguio, Dumaguete, Siquijor, Bais, Apo Island, Binondo and various places around Manila (a trip to Quiapo is long overdue).
There’s something about shooting with film that reminds me of life (naks!). It’s interesting to see how each feature of my camera says something about it.
My camera has an MX (Multiple Exposure) button. This means that you can keep shooting on the same single strip of film, otherwise known as the patong-patong picture technique. I liken that to you not being able to erase anything you do. You can do something to remedy a mistake, but you will never be completely rid of the consequences of your actions.
The Fisheye 2 also has a bulb setting (otherwise known as B mode), that lets you hold the shutter open to allow extra light into your film; this is particularly helpful in low light situations, or if you wanna play around with streaks of light (think fire dancers or the headlights of cars zooming past on a wide street). I like to think of this setting as the enthusiasm (or lack of) with which we live our lives. Too little and you end up with a dark photo, too much and you just end up with whiteness.
Finally (and this is the most important part), the Fisheye 2, like an old school camera, won’t allow you to preview your shots and delete the ones you don’t like. You can’t see in advance what your actions will lead to; you just have to live the way you think is best and hope that it all works out.
Sometimes you end up with a blah shot, despite all your good intentions.
But if you keep at it, and trust in yourself, and if you’re a little bit lucky, you end up with pretty pictures.
As of press time, I’m actually considering buying a second toy camera, the Superheadz Golden Half. This divides a regular 35mm film strip down the middle, giving you 72 shots in a regular roll of 36. Next up would probably be the Lomo Colorsplash Flash (4 color filters!), which I can use with both my Fisheye 2 AND the Golden Half. Hooray for shooting with film!
Movie-watching with friends at SMB (SM Bicutan, the place to be!) has been a staple weekend activity of mine since the mall opened in 2004. It’s just a trike ride away from my house and a lot of good friends live/lived near the area, so even if the mall is always crowded (can you say 3-day sale?), when we don’t wanna go far for food and a flick, we’re there.
Yesterday I headed there with Donna, a friend I’ve known for (holy shit!) 9 years, to watch Steve Carell and Jason Segel in Despicable Me.
When we met up…
Donna: When I woke up kanina I was wondering if you were worthy of a shower.
Donna: I decided you were naman. I brushed my teeth, too. You should feel special.
Me: More like grossed out, actually.
Entering the theater:
Ticket booth attendant: Sir, Despicable!
Me (in my head): Despicable ka din!
After having pizza, beer, and dessert:
Me: I’m so full.
Donna: Not me! I know how to control my portions.
Me: Yeah, you give them to me!
Before eating at Joey Pepperoni (which we plan to keep alive by eating there as often as we can), we went to a salon. Donna had her nails done and her hair hot-oiled, while I got a haircut.
Because, well, true friends go to the salon together.
Last night, after my daily walk (from Salcedo St. all the way up to SM Makati en route to the Ayala shuttle station), I decided to drop by Mickey D’s for some comfort food. It hadn’t been a particularly tiring day, but I did have several long meetings and I thought it had been a while since I’d had something bad for me.
And so I stopped by the McDonald’s in SM Makati. This is how my conversation with the cashier went:
Me: One Quarter Pounder Meal for dine-in, with medium Coke Zero and medium fries.
Cashier: Tutal naman po pareho lang po yun sa Quarter Pounder.
Me: (suddenly masungit) Hindi kaya!
Let’s take a look at those 2 burgers, shall we?
1. Quarter Pounder with Cheese
This McDonald’s Classic clearly has a pattie that almost spills out of the bun, which is a sesame seed bun.
2. Double Cheeseburger
The Double Cheeseburger, on the other hand, uses the plain bun that its single pattie younger brother uses. Also, while it has 2 patties, they’re nowhere near as thick as that of the Quarter Pounder’s. The Double Cheeseburger (both bun and patties) also has a smaller circumference compared to the Quarter Pounder.
Now, while I do admit that less discerning (or less picky) people could care less about which of the two they get, a McDonald’s employee definitely SHOULD CARE. Drink and fries sizes kept constant, a Quarter Pounder meal costs 23 pesos more than its Double Cheeseburger equivalent. If everyone believed that the 2 were the same burger, McDonald’s would be losing 23 pesos in revenue for every person who downgrades his/her order after being made aware of that “fact.”
I’m sure that in the long run, 23 pesos less revenue in 1 out of every 10 (these numbers are all hypothetical, btw) transactions won’t hurt McDonald’s that much, if at all. But cashiers who just throw out statements like that are evidence of either poor training by the company, or low standards when it comes to the hiring of its employees.
Cashiers are part of a company’s infantry. Advertising/marketing? That’s just war propaganda and psychological warfare. The people who interact with a company’s consumers should be as knowledgeable about the company’s brands and products as the CEO, because to consumers, they’re the faces of the company itself.
Mags calls her “honey.” Jhem calls her “babe.” Joey, Noah and Dan just call her “Badr.” Me, I call her “Darling.”
Yes, Sara Teves Badr (or @artsavesbread on Twitter) goes by many names, depending on who’s talking. But when it’s someone close to her doing the calling, one constant thing is that mischievous tone, because Sara is someone that people who love to play pranks love playing pranks on. She’s pikon, yes, but most of the time a little bit of lambing is enough to set things right. She’s gullible, but that’s not because she’s lacking in brains (in fact, she’s a genius in many ways); that’s just a manifestation of her belief that people are innately good.
I’ve seen Sara grow up over the almost 2 years that I’ve known her (emotionally at least, because as she’s turning 23 tomorrow no amount of Cherifer PGM or Growee will increase her height). I’ve seen her at work and at play (in as many connotations as you can give those terms), with and without make-up, inside bars, at the beach, on a plane, in a car, underwater, against the sun, and in the dark confines of the old Bates 141 office’s Think Tank, with all sorts of beverages in between us.
I’ve heard her say the smartest things, the wisest pieces of advice, and the most insightful phrases, but I’ve also been there for the funny misquotes. “Jokes are half-meant 90% of the time,” and “Ganda mo. Take a bus!” are just some of them, and only Sara can deliver those lines with a straight face.
When I think of Sara I remember her patented “elbow technique,” late night recording sessions for pitches (Daddyboy meets Mika Chika), and phrases like “COD” (Cause of Delay), “Boom,” “Massaaaaaaaage,” “Unless…” and “Yun yun e!” Good times, indeed.
Last night we got to hang out again, just the two of us. It was just like those old morning coffee sessions in the Think Tank, when we’d talk about work, love, the meaning of life, and everything in between. I told her that I admire her because she matured earlier than I did, and that at 22 going on 23 she’d already stopped making the mistakes that I was still making when I was 24. I’m “kuya” to 4 younger sisters at home, and I feel like my 2 years and some odd months at Bates 141 gained me a 5th one in Sara.
She’s the life of the party, the resident masahista, the office toy, and the girl who doesn’t know how to make a playlist. She’s got so many names, so many roles in mine and the Bates 141 story archives, and is the talented lead in the stage play that is her life. And so, before anyone else says it first, I’d like to say: “Ssssssshhhhh, quiet!!! Ang ingay mo!” Kidding. Happy birthday, Sara!
Once a week, for my entire senior year in high school, I had 2 one-hour sessions teaching English to 5th grade public school students in Quezon City. 9 years later, I can’t remember the name of the school, or even one out of those 8 names. To be honest, I feel guilty about that. But to this day, I see their faces in my head, and if I try hard enough I can still picture them around me, listening intently even in the heat of a full classroom with my other classmates’s and their own students’ voices floating all around us.
I distinctly remember always having to call the attention of this one particular child, who probably would have been diagnosed with ADD had he been fortunate enough to have been examined. But my frustrations at having to keep calling him out were always nullified by the eagerness with which he would raise his hand at my every question, and the enthusiasm in his voice when I’d call his name to recite.
I remember another student who almost never recited, who would just smile and shake her head when I’d ask if she knew the answer. I think she knew what to say every now and then, but she was always too afraid to speak out in front of her classmates. She was the one who would walk beside me on the way out of the school and ask the questions that she had formed in her head during the lesson.
I remember the uncomfortable wooden seat that was made for them and not for me. I remember having my teacher approve my lesson plans. I remember the dirty bathrooms of the school. The store right outside the school. I remember home visits, when my friend (who taught the same kids Math) and I walked to our kids’ houses to meet their parents. We were served merienda of puto and tap water, which were handed to us on a plate by one kid’s mom together with a big heaping of apologies for not being able to give us more than that.
Most of all, I remember not being able to finish what I started. On our last day of TD, each set of kids was asked to prepare a presentation. My kids made costumes and rehearsed lines - the whole shebang. And then the other groups went over time. And my teacher pulled me and my partner aside and said we had to go back to school already. We begged and pleaded and said that our kids were ready and that they had put their hearts into their presentation, but for some reason our being on time for our next class was more important.
Our kids cried. They didn’t tear up their costumes or throw fits, and I think that made it worse. But they did refuse to talk to us, and the image of the quiet girl running away from me in tears is one I will never forget.
I never saw those kids again. I wasn’t brave enough to show my face around that school because I knew that I had broken their hearts.
Today, 9 long years later, I have the opportunity to help kids in similar situations. Maybe I won’t be able to go every Saturday to volunteer. But I do know that I’ll be there as often as I can. And I know I’ll never be able to tell my TD kids that I’m sorry for ruining a whole year’s worth of good memories with a moment of weakness. But hopefully volunteering this time around will help to dilute some of that lingering guilt.