Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chip Tsao

To Kit, otherwise known by his pseudonym as Chip Tsao has stirred Filipino nationalism when he wrote a satirical comment about his Chinese compatriots and the Filipinos working in Hong Kong and even invoking insult to the Philippines. I am hurt by his blatant name-calling of our country. I am a true-blooded Filipino and I am very proud of it. I don’t think this is a joke. I could not see a single line here wherein I could insert a “hahaha.” Reading through the posts on the Internet, I found so many people reacting to the story. Filipinos are a sensitive bunch and for the longest time, we’ve been fighting for recognition.

Economically, the Philippines do not fare very well compared to our Asian neighbors but that doesn’t make the Philippines any less and the point of insults. Our government is considered one of the most corrupt. The corruption within our country and the dire poverty is the primary reason why Filipinos who earned college diplomas are choosing to skip our country and suffer in the employ of abusive employers abroad. Many people pointed the blame to our leaders who did nothing to alleviate the financial sufferings of the poor.

But given this scenario, no nation in the world is given the right discriminate the less-economically performing countries. We may not have the money but we definitely have the brain and the brawn. Had it not for our brains, we would not have found ways to uplift our families suffering economic condition. Had it not for our brawn, we would not have endured working in a foreign country just to earn for our families keep.

I must say that Filipinos are indeed good in keeping the house because as we are growing up, we are taught by our very parents the basic rules of cooking, cleaning and doing the household chores. These tasks were added to our responsibility as students. It is true that Filipinos are working as maids, nannies, drivers, and simply as personal household servants. But there are also a number of Filipinos who are working as executives in foreign corporations and they have earned the respect of their colleagues. We Filipinos are also a hard-working bunch.

Regardless of our country of origin, the color of our skin, the nature of our job and educational attainment, all citizens of any country in the world should be treated with equality and respect. I guess what all people should learn is RESPECT. Yes, you can invoke satires, be funny but please do not insult people who kept your house clean, the people who accompanied your children to school and who assisted them with their homework when you were too busy to look into their assignment notebooks. Have the decency to respect the very person cooking for you and serving your meals. These people are decent human beings and they deserve the same respect you give to your fellow Chinese compatriots.

Respect Sir, is learned at home like where cooking and cleaning the house is also learned.

Here is the full text of what Chip Tsao wrote in HK magazine.

The War At Home
March 27th, 2009

The Russians sank a Hong Kong freighter last month, killing the seven Chinese seamen on board. We can live with that—Lenin and Stalin were once the ideological mentors of all Chinese people. The Japanese planted a flag on Diàoyú Island. That’s no big problem—we Hong Kong Chinese love Japanese cartoons, Hello Kitty, and shopping in Shinjuku, let alone our round-the-clock obsession with karaoke.

But hold on—even the Filipinos? Manila has just claimed sovereignty over the scattered rocks in the South China Sea called the Spratly Islands, complete with a blatant threat from its congress to send gunboats to the South China Sea to defend the islands from China if necessary. This is beyond reproach. The reason: there are more than 130,000 Filipina maids working as $3,580-a-month cheap labor in Hong Kong. As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.

As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.

Grimly, I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her straight home, because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day. With that money, she would pay taxes to her government, and they would fund a navy to invade our motherland and deeply hurt my feelings.

Oh yes. The government of the Philippines would certainly be wrong if they think we Chinese are prepared to swallow their insult and sit back and lose a Falkland Islands War in the Far East. They may have Barack Obama and the hawkish American military behind them, but we have a hostage in each of our homes in the Mid-Levels or higher. Some of my friends told me they have already declared a state of emergency at home. Their maids have been made to shout “China, Madam/Sir” loudly whenever they hear the word “Spratly.” They say the indoctrination is working as wonderfully as when we used to shout, “Long live Chairman Mao!” at the sight of a portrait of our Great Leader during the Cultural Revolution. I’m not sure if that’s going a bit too far, at least for the time being

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Lolo Genaro Mendoza

I grew up in Bogo under the care of my maternal great grandmother Loleng Mendoza, the wife of Genaro Mendoza. I didn’t have the chance to personally know my great grandfather Genaro but through my great grandma’s memories, my Lolo Genaro came alive.

According to Lola Loleng, she was 16 or 17 then when Lolo Naro spotted her in Bogo. Lolo Naro was studying in UP Los Baños when on one occasion he came home from school and was smitten by my Lola’s beauty. Lola Loleng said that “si Lolo nimo na CRAS (that was how she said that) man sa ako” and will not go back to school not unless he married her.

I was a little girl then when Lola narrated that story to me. I was too young and too naïve to understand the story. At the back of my young mind I was asking myself that if Lolo “CRAS’d”, how come they got married and had children? What I was thinking then was Lolo went down on an airplane crash from Laguna to Cebu. I kept myself from blurting that question to Lola until a few years later, Lola again told me that story on how Lolo got a CRAS on her.

One afternoon, there was this man who was paraded around town because he accomplished something great. This man was the late Chief Justice Marcelo “Celing” Fernan. When the motorcade passed by our house, the man looked up and waved at us. Lola and I were on the window looking down at the passing motorcade. Lola then waved back and said, “oy, si Celing man diay ni.”

My jaw literally dropped. I asked Lola, “kaila diay mo niya La? She said, “kaila kayo..kuyog man ni cya sa imong Lolo sa una inig pamisita niya nko.” That was the second time I heard the Genaro-Loleng love story. And that time around, I realized that what she meant by CRAS was actually CRUSH. And yes, before Marcelo “Celing” Fernan became THE Marcelo “Celing” Fernan, he accompanied Lolo Naro to court Lola Loleng.

So, Genaro Mendoza refused to go back to UP Los Baños and continue with his college education because he was smitten by a barrio lass named Dolores Andrino. They got married when Lola was 17. They had 5 children, Aurelio (Auring), Loreto (Nene), Jesus and Rosita (Inday) and another son who died due to health complications.

Lolo Genaro died before I could even meet him. Lolo Naro was hauling his family to Leyte during the World War II to escape from the invading Japanese and then back to Cebu again after the war. Because of that, he contracted tuberculosis and died of that disease. He was in his late 30’s or early 40’s.

Through the verbal accounts of my great grandma, I came to know my great grandfather. He was a brave young man and a fool at heart.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Summer School

I am so excited because next month my daughter will begin her journey as a student, a journey that will take her to a new environment and new experience. I am so excited because finally she will have playmates. Even though she’ll only have 2 hours of class everyday but the fact that my daughter will be immersed in a new learning experience, it is reason enough for a mother like me to be ecstatic.

Now, I am already planning on what will she bring to school. Like, what bag, what shoes and clothes to wear, what baon to bring etc.

Actually, what I’m really planning for her this summer is to enroll her in ballet or piano lessons. I inquired local ballet schools and I found out that the minimum age they accept is 3 years old. My daughter is only 2 ½ years old. She won’t turn 3 until August. Besides, ballet lessons are expensive. They charge P2000 per month and they only have 4 sessions a month. Apart from that, you will have to buy ballet shoes and costumes. I am ruling out ballet for now.

I also planned to let her take piano lessons. My cousin’s wife teaches piano so I inquired if she’ll take my daughter. Unfortunately, she only take students aged 7 and up. My daughter is definitely disqualified.

My last option was just to bring her to city with me so that we can be together everyday. If you didn’t know, my daughter is in the province while I’m here in the city. We only see each other on weekends and for me, it is not enough. I long for more days and more hours that I could stay with her.

Anyway, a friend of mine who has a 3 yr old son told me that Woodridge School is offering free summer classes for toddlers aged 2 ½ to 3 ½. Perfect. The offer is so good and so irresistible. Imagine the school is just a walking distance away from where I live. This school provides top-notch and quality education and for a month, they’ll provide it for free. I simply couldn’t say no. Yesterday, I went to the school and submitted a copy of my daughter’s birth certificate and had her enrolled.

The requirements? You’ll have to provide your own food (of course). Provide your own school materials like crayons, pencils, papers and stuff. This is such a bargain compared to enrolling her to ballet and piano lessons. So next week, I’m off to the department store and buy her stuff. I am so excited. I’m seeing pastels already…pinks, blues, yellows, greens and purples.

But of course, I haven’t fully ruled out ballet and piano yet. Perhaps in a year or two, she’ll learn how to pirouette or start to become a piano prodigy.

Who knows? A mother can always dream. :-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Respect and Boyet Fajardo

About 2 weeks ago, netizens were feasting a video uploaded on Youtube about the so-called Boyet Fajardo scandal.

The scandal was about this designer named Boyet Fajardo who apparently verbally molested employees of Duty Free Philippines. As curious as I was, I went online and checked the video myself. What I saw was utterly horrible. Horrible in the sense that a potbellied (that was the first thing I notice of him when I saw the video, his potbelly) guy in overcoat pointed fingers at a young fellow manning the counter and at one point had him kneel in front of him.

Who are you Mr. Boyet Fajardo? Are you God? Who are you to let the poor fellow kneel in front of you? Maybe you are used to people (men especially) kneeling in front of you (pun intended). First of all, I think some of your clothes are horrible. They are not what you call designer clothes because the designs are pathetic. I'm not a fashion savant but I would not even bother buying your clothes even if they're on sale because they're ugly. They are as ugly as your attitude actually.

The video in Youtube does not have an audio but you don’t really need one to understand what was going on. Action speaks louder than words. Basing on your action alone Mr. Fajardo, it seems that you're gearing yourself to be deep-fried in your own oil.

I thought Mr. Fajardo is a well-educated and well-meaning citizen of this country. Turns out he is the contrary. He claimed to be a victim also, that he and Mr. Marvin Fernandez are just victims. Mr. Fajardo, do you want to watch the video of yourself doing what you did to that cashier? Perhaps that will give you an idea on what a victim is and what a victim does.

The incident with Mr. Marvin Fernandez portrays how unfair the society is. Mr. Fernandez has represented in action what happens to regular call center workers like me. I feel his pain because I too had been a subject of such disdain. Its not easy and it is not right to say that what happened to Mr. Fernandez goes with the territory. We, in the customer service industry deserve the same respect as those people working in high-rise buildings with offices by the window. We too are human beings and needed to be treated as such.

Mr. Fajardo, don’t cry those crocodile tears, it wont work. Remember that respect begets respect. Learn it and you’ll earn it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I've always been regarded as tomboy. I play with the boys, hang out with the boys and I had a haircut like a boy. Despite of all these tomboyish things that I do like mountaineering, wall climbing and marathon running, I am with all body, mind and soul a woman.

One of the things that I am really proud of is that my ovaries had indeed been proven to be useful. I've gotten pregnant and I have already given birth. That alone is enough testament of womanhood.

Apart from that, proof of my being a woman is that I collect lipsticks. Over the years, I’ve had more then 30 tubes of lipstick. In my possession alone, I have 7 tubes of lipstick that I use in daily alternate and 3 tubes of flavored lip gloss. I know it’s a lot less compared to some who have more than 10 tubes in their make up kit.

So, why lipstick? I really have a fancy for that since I was allowed to wear one. I started with pinks to nudes and now to reds. I had a friend who made a comment about my choice of color. Why do you love red lipstick? Red has always been symbolized as sexy, fiery, and strong and it is a symbol for love. Wearing a red lipstick on your lips is significant of your personality. And besides, if you’re going to wear a lipstick, why wear a nude? A lipstick is supposed to add color to your face so a nude lipstick doesn’t justify it.

I fancy lipsticks like children fancy candies. It’s the perfect accessory to a boring outfit and it brings color to your face.

So, ladies and gentlemen, Red my Lips! Got it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Racism and the Call Center

Call center is a booming business in the Philippines. With thousands of Filipinos working in the call center industry, this business is considered as prime meat for taxes. Call center workers enjoy above average compensation compared to those working in an 8-5 job.

But what do these workers get in return of getting above average compensation?

Ridicule, mockery, racism, these are the few things call center workers get from their customers. Caucasian and Asian customers alike treat Filipinos like they are a piece of garbage. They call them names, threaten to sue them and just blatantly demoralize Filipinos in general. It’s not just Filipinos who experienced such things. Indians get the same treatment as well.

In the five years that I’ve worked in a call center, I’ve been called names that are far beyond my imagination. Threatened to be sued a lot of times and I have heard blatant degradation of the Filipino race.

Before I started working in this business, I have a high regard for Americans, Europeans and our own Asian brothers and sisters. I can’t point out exactly what the reason why; probably it's the color of their skin, hair and eyes or the shape of their nose. Or probably the American twang and efficiency in the English language. All these things were in my mind until I started doing technical support for the North American and APAC regions. I've found out that they are not as efficient in the English language as I thought they were. Oftentimes, they have the wrong grammar and most of the time, wrong spelling for words. I’ve learned that they are not very bright in fact; they could not even grasp the simplest instruction to as to "click on the screen." Their advantage is that they can afford to buy computers and expensive gadgets whilst common Filipinos cant.

But being able to buy a certain product does not give anybody the right to step down on the people providing him or her with support to the best of their abilities. I must admit that the product our customers bought is not the best, not perfect, does not comply to their requirements but is there actually a product out there that's flawless, perfect and always comply to everybody's specification? Why would customers vent out their frustration to people who are merely assisting them in troubleshooting their problems when in fact the problem is that they're too dumb to operate a computer?

As you see the problem is not the people on the other end of phone. It is not the product that the customers bought. The problem is their attitude. They think highly of themselves that oftentimes, they think they are a superior race.

Nobody has the right to degrade any race. Whether we speak in a halting English, sleep and eat with the rats, has a corrupt president and belongs to a third world country, we are definitely not a third-rate race. No one can classify the race based on education, skin color or financial capacity. All of us are equal.

Being a Filipino is not a handicap; in fact, it should be considered a gift. Working in a call center is not a curse but a blessing.

Note: This is the author’s opinion and does not reflect all others who are working in the customer service industry.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Presidentiables and the Criminals in suits, barongs and high heels

Manny Villar, Loren Legarda, Mar Roxas, Bayani Fernando are among the politicians who have expressed their desires to run for president in the 2010 elections. Manny Villar and Loren Legarda have bombarded the small screens with advertisements. Bayani Fernando joined a celebrity-singing contest and won and he has posters hanging on every electrical post in the country.

Among the presidential hopefuls, who do you think is worthy to take the reigns of governing our country? Ping Lacson perhaps? How about Erap take two? I don’t know what your reaction is but for me I find it amusing that Lacson, a notorious killer (he apparently has salvaged so many criminals during his term as police chief) and Erap, a notorious womanizer, gambler and was once impeached from the presidential seat wants to run for presidency. I mean, who doesn’t want to be the president? Who doesn’t want limitless power and control over the people and their money?

How about the probability that Jejomar Binay and Chiz Escudero will also run for presidency? Jejomar’s name came from Jesus, Joseph and Mary combined but he’s no closer to a saint. He’s as sinful as all bitches and assholes in the arena called Politics. And yeah, what about Chiz? If he were going to work in a call center, his callers would get irate because of the monotone of his voice. He always gets himself propped up in front of a camera and is interviewed every time a scandal erupts in Malacañang. Every time I see Chiz on TV, he’s always criticizing the present government. I hate the present government as much as he hates the President. I wonder if he thinks of himself as Mr. Goody Two-shoe. He is as hypocrite as everyone else.

The upcoming 2010 elections are full of crap that I’m actually thinking of skipping the precincts.

Our government and the bloody politicians are like fucking criminals in suits, barongs and high heels. They’re killing the country and killing people by stealing their money. I so fucking hate them.

Oh, pardon my French.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The little success story

Each one of us has our own success story to tell. Whether it’s passing trigonometry, the board exams, giving birth, paying debts or becoming rich.

Mine is about this insecure, low self-esteemed version of me named Pearliza and how she became Pearl.

Pearliza is a provincial girl whose looks don’t measure up to those well-bred city girls. In elementary, she was ridiculed by her classmates and was often called names. She was called hunchback because she brings this big backpack to school and because she was a small girl it really made her look like a hunchback. Her friends at school never believed her that she had drank Yakult. Mocked her because she wore a pink Kaypee rubber shoes to school and her friends never thought that her family could afford one. They made drawings of her…drawings of an ugly girl. To them, she's an ugly little duckling. She was teased upon because she lived in an old dilapidated ancestral house whose grandma kept peering up on the big window making her friends think that she lived with a witch. Because of the constant taunting at school, she has built a shell around her. This shell made her the feisty one.

This girl had always known that deep inside she is a nice little girl and a trustworthy friend. They didn’t know that Pearliza is very talented and quite bright. She is actually a funny one who brightens up her friends’ dull days.

Pearliza went to college and met friends who have accepted the quirky side of her and loved her for that. She proved to herself the things that she has longed for...that she is a leader, that she is indeed talented and that she is the nice and trustworthy little friend. Her hometown friends can only gasp in amazement when they knew that she led various university based organizations. They never expected that the little ugly hunchback who wore Kaypee and claimed she drank Yakult has made a name for herself in the environment that embraced her.

Pearliza is no longer Pearliza, she's Pearl. The bright girl who made people laugh and made them say wow because she can dance. Pearl is the girl who led various organizations and has a solid circle of friends. She has finally found true friends who embraced Pearliza and turned her into a pearl.

And oh, she’s a mother to a beautiful daughter. Her daughter is no longer the ugly little duckling her mom was once called by.

Each of us has our own little success story to tell. It doesn’t matter how we tell the story but what matters is how we become a success story.

I am Pearliza. I am my own success story.