Friday, November 24, 2006

Christmas thoughts - revised

Need I say that Christmas is fast approaching?

I am listening to Harry Connick's Harry for the Holidays album and before that, I was listening to a couple of Christmas songs by the Carpenters.

It's quite obvious that the Christmas mood has finally hit me, after weeks of enduring the all too early Christmas promotional gimmickry at all the shopping malls I usually pass by to and from meetings with clients. It has been getting much harder and harder to ignore the rows of ham, cheeseballs, and gift baskets piled high in almost every aisle at the mall. I had even caught myself jiggling a bit to the blaring, looped Christmas jingle they pipe through the PA system. On the way home, I tipped the cab driver Php 20.00 on top of the fare he was charging me from his obviously tampered meter -- which registered about 25 percent more than what it should have. What the heck, the cabbie might be Jean Valjean and very rarely do I assume the role of the Bishop without asking God to send a thunderbolt crashing on the thief's head.

I've already relocated the Christmas tree, boxes of ornaments, and yards of twinkling lights from the storage room to the living room. The challenge now is how to get them together without breaking anything or setting something on fire.

I've put aside some money for the cleaning lady who lives with us (a second degree Aunt whom my family has adopted after they were evicted from their homes last year), this will make a hefty bonus on top of the generous salary she receives from my brother.

After about a year of trying to save up money, I've finally put together enough funds to buy a second hand car next year and finally, my wife will stop her constant whining about how hard it is to commute from our place in Sampaloc to the Senate near the Cultural Center of the Philippines area. God! Finally, some hope for peace and quiet.

Hopefully too, being less stressed by the two hour commute by FX, my wife will finally ovulate and then we can get pregnant. Ha ha! That'll be marvelous!

The third and fourth publicity projects I've undertaken has to a certain extent helped a lot of friends with their money problems. But right now I am still trying to either charge more or get my costs down because as a mainline income source, it really doesn't leave me much.

At this time of year, I often find myself expecting some grand culmination to happen. After working my ass off during the long months before the yuletide, I kinda expect to see my efforts amounting to something. If it is amounting to something, I still have yet to see it.

--- more to follow, I gotta break for lunch.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lola, lost and found through a calling card

At the age of 93, Lola Juana Regado Gloria became a celebrity through a simple text message.

Grey haired, bent, frail, and alone, the old woman initially drew pity from people at the busy Raymond Bus Terminal along Legarda Ave. in Manila. Her story and reason for being at that bus station was as simple as it was unusual. She told anybody who would listen at the bus station that she had come alone to Manila all the way from her hometown in Quezon Province to visit Senator Richard J. Gordon. But just before people could dismiss her story as a foolish proposition, she would show them a calling card bearing a picture of her and Senator Gordon.

Perhaps, the more unbelievable part of her story was that she believed Gordon was looking for her.

More curious than impressed, bus conductor Mark Chua relented as Lola Juana requested him to send a text message to Senator Gordon’s cell phone number printed on the calling card. In the bus conductor’s mind, he actually expected that no one would ‘text back’ to the old woman and as such, the old woman’s story would be long forgotten by the time he boarded the next bus going out of the terminal.

However, in less than half an hour or so after the text message was sent, a succession of cars and ambulances suddenly swarmed the bus terminal and Lola Juana was greeted by people who introduced themselves as members of Senator Gordon’s staff.

Gordon had, in fact, been looking for her for some time and had tapped local papers in Quezon, Batangas, Laguna and Cavite to assist in the search for the old woman. Upon learning that she had found her way to Manila, he immediately deployed his Senate staff, the Emergency Response Team of the Philippine National Red Cross and some volunteers to fetch the old lady and take good care of her.

It was one year and eleven months after Gordon and Lola Juana’s picture was taken on December 14, 2004 at a chance meeting near the old church of Infanta, Quezon. The picture shows the old lady standing by the roadside and Gordon, who was knee deep in mud and flood waters, gently approaching her. It was the year when the successive onslaughts of typhoons Unding, Violeta, Winnie and Yoyong wrought devastation on Quezon and other provinces. Gordon was personally leading relief and rehabilitation efforts in Quezon when he met Lola Juana.

Senator Gordon chose to use his picture with Lola Juana, out of hundreds that had been taken that day, as the background for the side of his calling card that displayed his contact details as Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC). In a way, this was perhaps to stress the Senator’s practice of always being able, willing and ready to alleviate human suffering whenever and wherever it may be, with all honesty and sincerity.

Lola Juana is now in the hands of the best doctors of the Philippine General Hospital undergoing a comprehensive medical check-up.

Finally, after almost two years, Senator Gordon and Lola Juana meet again for a happier encounter, no longer submerged in knee-deep mud and flood waters.
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