Friday, December 30, 2011

So What's Next?

(Note: Please read until the end before you start looking up stuff on YouTube. J)

“No, I don’t feel any pressure right now.”

Famous words of the winner of a Philippine beauty pageant in 2008. 

It isn’t customary for female high school students to have boyfriends. Unless you or your parents were born or raised in a liberal environment, you can’t have a boyfriend (or girlfriend for that matter) until you graduate from college, or until you have a stable job or until you’re 30 years old (well, not exactly in that order).

So when the “right time” does come, that’s when you race against time to find your soul mate. Problem is, it’s not as easy as picking the best meat on display, which you get to touch and examine. And to make matters worse, you can’t seem to shake off those badgering relatives who annoy you with questions like “May boyfriend ka na ba?” (Do you already have a boyfriend?) or “May balak ka bang mag-boyfriend? Baka maiwan ka ng biyahe”  each time you see them.

(Attention, annoying relatives:  Now you know why we don't like reunions and get-togethers.)

Eons later, after finding that elusive soulmate (depending on your luck), the next question would be, “When do you plan to get married?”

I can already hear your biological clock ticking the time away...

And after you get married, there’s the “Kelan niyo kami bibigyan ng apo ng mommy mo?” (When are you going to give me and your mom a grandchild?) or  “May laman na ba yan?” to contend with. (By the way, can anyone translate the second question, please? LOL  J)

Heaven must have heard your ardent prayers, because finally, you’ve got your hubby as the father, you as the mommy and your sweet little angel – the triumvirate that makes up your family. You think it ends here, right?

Wrong! You still have to deal with “When are you having your next baby?”

It’s like the test of honor that would not end! So what’s next? “When do you plan to die?”

Therefore, to anyone who says “No, I don’t feel any pressure right now,” this is what I have to say – Ikaw na! Ikaw na, Janina!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ravings of a Taxpayer

I’ve always tried to convince myself that honesty and paying the correct taxes is good as it generates jobs, sends poor and deserving kids to school, provides social assistance and housing to displaced families, blardy-blardy-blar. And as the Great Master said, give to Ceasar what is due Ceasar, and give God what is due Him.

That’s why when I was working as some sort of an OFW (I won’t go into the details because it’s complicated), I would set aside a portion of my salary for taxes. I even sought the help of a lawyer on how to pay my taxes since the BIR’s rules on taxation were unclear for someone with my situation. I insisted, because I thought it was the right thing to do, and I didn’t want any trouble 10 years down the road. I insisted on paying them even if the lawyers thought me crazy.

Maybe they were right. Maybe I was crazy.

Because five years after, things have not improved one bit. In fact, they have worsened exponentially. The city roads (still) have potholes and uneven pavements. Hello!! Potholes on a city road???

Because five years after, tuition fees have increased but the quality of education has dwindled (and it still is).  If it takes a first year high school student two minutes to mentally solve for the product of 5 and 25 and says Mathematics are her favorite subject, one is inclined to ask where his taxes have gone.

I almost had a infarction when I learned that one needs at least P24,000 to send a kid to high school.

So much for committing to a lost cause.

Recently, the tax department wants to revive a pre-existing law that taxes the voluntary contributions (to SSS, Philhealth, Pag-Ibig) in excess of the maximum amount.

Whatever their reasons are for this new measure, I’m sorry but I just do not feel that they are justified, reasonable or practical. It’s already difficult as it is to stretch one’s net salary nowadays. And to add to the burden by increasing the deductibles and decreasing the take-home pay is just inhuman.

Everyone knows the solution to the drying coffers is not increased taxation, but efficient tax collection. If they just got their acts together and thought of better ways to monitor and run after tax evaders, then they would not have to think of these outrageous means to further bleed the citizens dry.

I do not mind paying my taxes, as long as I see where how it’s being managed. And I am sure the rest of the working population in the Philippines would not, either.

But alas! What to do? Deductions are automatic! And we all have to live with it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Old Douglas

I went to Mines View Park in Baguio this afternoon. A lot has changed since the last time I was there. The children, whose feet seem to clamp onto the side of the cliff while catching coins thrown by tourists, have been replaced by a sign and a wishing well.  The place is more crowded than ever. And then, there are the dogs.

It’s the first time I’ve seen a St. Bernard. I thought they would be bigger, but then I realized that the fur had been trimmed to make the dogs more comfortable.

There were three of them there, all being used to make money. Have your photos taken with the dogs for a fee. The two dogs charged a lower fee. Douglas charged a higher price – 3 shots for P50 - because of his popularity and the “endorsements” (namely, the celebrities who had their photos taken with him).

It was also Douglas who caught my attention the most, not because of his sheer size nor his cute outfit, but because of his age and the way he was being treated. You see, Douglas is an old dog. You can tell by the sag/droop near the corner of this mouth. 

And the guy, who must have been the owner or caretaker, would tug so hard on the leash just to make the dog look the photographer’s way. When Douglas would try to walk away, the owner/caretaker would suddenly yank on the leash again. Even though I was meters away, I could feel the dog’s pain. Like I was the one choking.

I stepped closer to pet him. When I got a look at his eyes, I felt like crying. Douglas’s eyes were red. What I know is that red eyes are not normal among dogs, so either he was in pain, or was suffering from some minor illness. But who knew? The dog can’t talk, for Pete’s sake!!!

Despite the “attention” he was getting, I seriously doubt that Douglas was enjoying every minute of it.

His eyes spoke of sadness.

The other two dogs were luckier. Their handlers were neither callous nor rough with them. At least that’s what I saw.

How I wanted to give Douglas’s owner a taste of his own medicine. To have him on a leash and tugging so hard until his neck hurt would have been nice.

But I couldn’t. All I could do was hug the old dog (the owner allowed it). Then I walked away.

The view was not nice anymore after that. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago strikes again!!

Just a quick post.

I chanced upon this during my lunch break. According to the Yahoo! News, these were the words of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago should she win one of the six seats in the International Criminal Court:

“I’ll have to resign [as senator]. Isn’t that good news for my enemies? I would have to live in The Hague. I will look like a European and speak like a European and I will be as snooty as a European when I come back," she reportedly said.

Well, she just did - win, that is.

Don't you just love her?   J

Source:   Miriam Wins ICC Seat

Friday, December 9, 2011

Remembering Kramer

We have a dog at home. His name is Kramer. He’s a mongrel dog with a bit of Labrador blood, but a beautiful mongrel, nonetheless. He’s big, he’s got silky brown fur, and he does not have that “doggy smell” inherent in man’s best friend. Thank God for his good genes. Hmm.. wait. Not having that distinct doggy smell is not bad, is it?

So there, we have a dog. But I do not think we deserve one.

First off, we hardly take him out for a walk. Wait! Who am I kidding? Make that never. It’s been eons since we took him out for exercise. His massive body and endless energy takes up all our strength to keep him restrained. His mere presence on the street agitates the other male dogs in the neighborhood.

Feeding him is left to the house help. (So that’s why he’s more excited when it’s the house help approaching him instead of us.)

We hardly play with him. We hardly spend time to bond with him.

His baths are given when the house help is told. Again, it’s the house help, when we suddenly remember. Maybe since he does not smell, we forget that important ritual. (I know. Duh! How can one forget a pet’s bath, right?)

We shush him when he howls and restlessly moves around his spot under the mango tree without even checking up on him. There could already be a burglar for all we know, but we never care to check, because he barks at every passer-by.

Yes, I admit. We do not deserve to have Kramer.

So does this mean we don’t deserve to be parents yet?

I remember what my grandfather used to tell me. Caring for a kid is like caring for a pet. If you can’t take care of a dog or any pet that’s been entrusted to you, how can you take care of a kid? You can’t just get rid of it when you get tired. And it’s not right to ignore it when you’re not in the mood.

His words never fail to reach home.

Now when I hear of friends who are on the family way, I would always wonder when my turn would come.

But then, I would also be reminded of Gramp’s words. Of Kramer.

I now realize that to know if we are ready for parenthood, we first need to go back.

To Kramer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking That First Step

A wise woman once said that the first step is always the hardest to take. It isn’t in deciding that your energy is spent and anxiety fills you, because anyone can just say, “I’ll start dieting now,” which can easily turn to “I’ll start dieting tomorrow.” It's easy to say “I’ll begin my project when I have the time,”  and end up either postponing it indefinitely or not doing it all.

Rather, it’s when you actually do it – that is what’s difficult.

Writing was a favorite past time. I used to keep a journal (puhleeeeze!!! I prefer “journal” over “diary” for obvious reasons) back in high school up to college. It helped me practice my (conversational) English. To keep the thoughts flowing, I would always pretend that my journal as someone who could speak but chose to "listen instead. I’d imagine the replies that my journal would most likely make, and respond to those in writing. You should have read my journal. There might have been a few grammar lapses, but I’m sure you would’ve enjoyed reading my entries.

But doing a blog is different. One has to maintain a steady flow of entries to have regular followers. But what if I am not inspired to write for a day? Three days? What if I haven’t something good to offer my readers after two weeks or even a month? (I wonder how bloggers are able to post everyday?)

Also, you expose your thoughts for everyone to read and analyze, and comment on. Some might agree with you, more will criticize you. Not everyone will share your sentiments, hence the possibility of being unpopular, or even disliked.

And it’s these things that are making my first step to blogging difficult, even scary. I mean, who would want to be unpopular? Disliked? Who would want to be told that your opinions are totally absurd, or your entry is full of nonsense? I certainly wouldn’t.

So why am I starting a blog?

I don’t know. Maybe I want to go back to practicing my (conversational) English. Maybe I want to join the bandwagon. Maybe I just happen to have so much freakin’ time on my hands that blogging will help me keep my sanity. 


So to heck with all these what if’s. I am definitely taking my first step.