Month: April 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge : Culture

This is the closest photo that I can contribute for the Weekly Photo Challenge. 

I have to use the word closest because the event exemplified in the photo is a regular tradition in my family.

The photo depicts a buffet style food feast. Ironically, the feast doesn’t represent a merry ocassion. This was taken during my Grandmother’s first death anniversary.

Food is an integral part of the Filipino culture. Any Filipino gatherings are coupled with great food. If there is one thing that bonds Filipinos, it has to be food.

So just in case you accidentally landed in my country, expect to leave with excess baggage of belly fats. 😉 Better yet, if accident will bring you to our humble home, be sure to empty your stomach for an overflowing meal. 

Did I mention that I came from a family of great cooks? 😉

PS Since Grandmother wanted me to finish school, she failed to transfer me the ultimate cooking skills hihi

Reviewed : Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I’m struggling to write a review for this book. I guess it’s because I can’t clearly decide whether I like or dislike it. One thing I’d like to say is that contrary to most expectations, THIS IS NOT A HORROR story. It’s nearer to suspense and mystery.

The book’s title gave me the impression that it’s Miss Peregrine who serves as the lead character. Surprisingly, a teenage kid named Jacob was responsible for fueling the entire story.

Jacob has been fascinated by the stories of his grandfather. His grandfather has been showing him pictures of the peculiar children and all the stories attached to it. Jacob soon developed doubts about his Grandfather’s stories. His life further became complicated when his Grandfather’s life ended in a mysterious death. Unfortunately, Jacob’s quest to find  answers made him worst in the eyes of his family. He was accussed of becoming mentally ill. In the course of his treatment, Jacob was allowed to set off to an island that his Grandfather was referring. He was bound to find Miss Peregrine and all the peculiar children that he used to see in pictures.

Plot and story wise, I’d like to give Ransom Riggs 3.5 out of 5 stars. More than the interesting storyline, I feel that it’s the suspense and mystery that drew my interest. It’s the questions that are waiting to be answered that made me held on to this book. Each chapter yielded chain reactions that created more attachment to the readers.

I’m not sure if it’s true but I read somewhere that the original plan was for Riggs to release a photo book. Since he acquired vintage photos from everywhere, he was set to showcase his collection. However, Riggs was later encouraged to write stories about each photo. Soon, Riggs was already writing a literary piece. If this is really true, I’d like to render my hats off to Riggs. He was able to weave a literary piece from pictures that don’t belong to each other.

As for character development, this is another angle that makes me undecided. I don’t have apprehensions about Jacob’s development. As more answers and mysteries are unfolded, Jacob’s character transformed and strengthened. My apprehensions lies on some issues that I wish Riggs could have explained. I was hoping that Riggs could explain the origins of each peculiar children and Miss Peregrine. How did they become peculiar? Why is it that some kids ended up peculiar in the story’s point of view?

My unresolved sentiments further intensified when I discovered the story’s ending. I felt like I was dragged in the sea of uncertainty. The ending gave me another open ended question. So what will happen next? Though after reading some interviews from Riggs, I have a feeling that the book will have a sequel.

Overall, I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars. If you prefer a lighter dose of suspense and mystery, then this book is for you.

PS I heard Tim Burton will bring this book to the big screen. 🙂

New Journey Series : Ooops I did it again

Thanks Britney for giving this post its much deserved title.

The past months wasn’t complementing my New Journey series. I made a trip abroad, the recent company outing brought me to Palawan, as always the bills to pay and worst, my earnings from my additional teaching job is over. Since I’m on a teaching break, my earnings are limited to my office work.

For those who just happen to know me, I’m a full time office employee and a part time college instructor. After earning my MBA, I was finally given additional teaching assignment at the workplace. Since I’m only hired on a part time basis, my teaching employment is never tenured. I’m only good when I’m needed. And during summer, only a few students avail of summer classes. Hence, the teaching job is rather given to the full time teachers. This is another reason why I never loved summer. Aside from the agitating weather, my earnings are lessened.  Bad news for me and my family.

Though recently, I received a significant amount of money as part of my back pay.  I was fortunate to be assigned as a thesis adviser to some groups of college kids.  My honorarium was finally released and as always, here comes the good times again.

In a span of four days, I was able to exhaust my most awaited five-digit pay. I have never learned my lesson. Now I’m back to the same old realizations,

Where did my money go?

Why is money designed that way? How come money is very hard to earn and so easy to  lose?

When I tracked my spending, much of money was spent on

1. paying the credit card bills

2. household expenditures

3. a little incentive for Mother and Father

4. a new external disk drive that is becoming a pressing need since my netbook is showing signs of terminal days

5.  my most awaited air cooler for my room – I finally managed to replace my decades old electric fan

6. pants, two blouses and jacket

7. the last few drops that were finally devoted for savings

And just like that …  my entire money is gone

I’m still expecting additional pay for the month of May. My freelance client who has yet to pay after more than a year of rendering my service. I really hope she will be considerate enough to pay me after one year.

Another freelance client should pay me the remaining part of our agree professional fee. Though this is still very uncertain.

Hopefully, the company will convert our sick leave credits next month.

Sigh, I felt so stupid. I’m very successful in ruining everything.

Ooops, I did it again, again and again.

This would not happen if she did her job

If patience equates to my much needed exercise, I would have lost a lot of lines in the weighing scale.  If extending patience means additional money, my malnourished savings account will surely get overweight. All these could happen in a span of a week.

As expected, this is another story that forced my endocrine system to yield more patience-producing-hormones. Allow me to relate everything that happened here.

Warning : A long verbal diarrhea ahead 🙂

For the longest time, my Mother has been nagging me about my Philhealth account. For those who are not familiar, Philhealth is the compulsory health insurance program implemented by the Philippine government. All employees receive deductions from their monthly income to become contributions to this health insurance program.  Since classes are over and I have more spare time, I was able to finally skip work to verify my Philhealth contributions and status.

My current employer happens to be my first.  When I was submitting my employment requirements, Miss HR Officer never asked for requirements for my Philhealth account. While me, I remained as the ignorant employee.

After some years of working, I made the initiative to ask the Miss HR Officer. I reminded her that this is my first job. Hence, I don’t have anything except for my SSS number. I have monthly Philhealth deductions but I never had any idea as to where my deductions go. In the end, she asked me to accomplish a Philhealth registration form and submit the requirements for my qualified dependent. If I remember it right, I submitted a photocopy of my Dad’s birth certificate and senior citizen ID.

After some months, Miss HR Officer never updated me.  The good thing was that my two closest friends shared the same experience. In fact, we submitted the accomplished form and requirements together.  As much as we want to nag and question Miss HR Officer, it didn’t help that she is not the most approachable person at the workplace.  Female intuition further tells me that Miss HR Officer don’t personally like me.  To address this problem, it was my two friends who would alternately follow up. After almost a year of faking that we-are-thankful attitude, she finally released our Philhealth numbers and registration.

I almost thought that my entire Philhealth account was updated.  I was expecting that my parents were submitted as my qualified dependents.  When I verified my information from the Quirino branch of Philhealth, my Member’s Data Record (MDR) file revealed that “I don’t have any qualified dependents.”

I was pissed off.

C’mmon, this is what I will receive after working for almost 10 years.  What happened to the attachments and requirements I submitted?

Someone failed to do her job.

Instead of confronting Miss HR Officer, whom we baptized with a code name “Hard Habit to break”, I decided to handle things on my own. I went to the Philhealth’s satellite office to update my list of dependents.  I almost thought that everything will smoothly sail. Life again gave me another series of unfortunate events.

On my first attempt to have my records updated, I failed. I didn’t know that I was required to bring my own Birth Certificate. I went home frustrated. I don’t have a choice but to comply and skip work again.

I was further dismayed when I returned the next day.  I was cued at 51 while the counter is still serving 19. Whoa! Despite of everything, I never complained. This is not unusual for government services. I patiently waited for my turn. When I was about to be called, an employee announced that they are cutting their operations. Heck! Hell!

The office’s building was apparently suffering from supply of stable electricity.  Their computers cannot be supported by the intermittent electricity. Hence, the suspension of the operations.

As much as I wanted to blame Philhealth, I accepted this unfortunate system of the government offices. Don’t expect much on government services. Lower your expectations to avoid frustrations.

I was furiously walking with the crowd of frustrated clients. But deep inside,  I was blaming another person. You bet,  this is the fault of  “hard habit to break.” If only she did her job.

UPDATE

I skipped work again this morning. I headed to Philhealth’s sattelite office for my third attempt. As I was about to be given another cue number, I relayed my unfortunate situation yesterday. The Office became so understanding because I was directed to another department. My application was processed in less than 10 minutes.  This is the fastest ever government service I’ve ever encountered!  Thanks Philhealth 🙂

Despite their “may-i-redeem-myself” service, I kept thinking that if they can settle everything in 10 minutes, can’t they not implement this forever? Just a thought 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

Here is my share for the Weekly Photo Challenge

I took this photo from a recent trip in Coron Palawan. We stayed in a very unique vacation house. How unique? It was situated in the middle of the sea and 90% of the house was made from local wood.  My view is limited to the mountains, the unending sea and the shabby wooden floor tiles.

I was lying in the wooden floor tiles when I took this photo. As I have mentioned,  whether at what direction I angle myself, I always get the same uplifting, tranquil and relaxing view.

Another dose of summer heat

I just came back from my four-day summer trip courtesy of my workplace benefit. I headed home with tons of heavy laundry and worries about the status of my complaints with Philamlife. (It’s still unresolved up to this date.)

I’ve also noticed that I’ve been gaining afternoon headaches. I hope it’s only because of the intense summer heat, nothing really serious. I don’t need another source of headache when this landed in my inbox

bucks to blog

Not a good way to start work after my exhausting vacay.

Frustrations and Disappointments with Philamlife

Availing of an insurance policy was one of the first investments I made from my own hard-worked money. Less than a year of working, a family friend who is a starting financial agent from Philamlife offered to me an insurance policy. She came so timely because I have plans of acquiring one. At first, it’s my Father whom I wanted to insure. As a naive investor, I failed to realize that my soon-to-retire Father is the least preferred candidate. The premium will be expensive and soon, the policy might retire due to old age. In the end, I was the one who got insured.

My relationship with Philamlife seemed to go well over the past years. I receive my billing statements before the due date, my receipts are sent and my yearly dividends are paid out.  Unfortunately, my trust, respect and loyalty with Philamlife is tested over the past months.

This open letter will explain everything

 March 14, 2013

To Whom It May Concern,

I’m writing this letter to relay my disappointment to the kind of service I’ve been receiving from your company. I have communicated with your customer service officers for the past three weeks. I spoke to three customer service representatives since February 27, 2013 and I never received any definite feedback. Unfortunately, my complaint was never resolved up to this date.

My quarterly due for my policy was last February 28, 2013. A day before my due date, I did my part to call the Customer Service Office. I informed them that my statement of account did not arrive. I was told that the company has no control over the delivery of the billing statements. It’s the Post Office’s main responsibility. As a customer, I believe that such is not a valid reason. The company has to ensure that all receipts and billing statements reach the customers.

Without the billing statement, I paid my quarterly due. I was expecting that a receipt will be delivered in the soonest possible time. Again, as of this date, I never received any notification from the company. I talked to another customer service representative and I was promised to be issued an acceptance of payment letter through email. I was told to wait for 3 to 5 working days. I called last week and as always, I received nothing. An email wouldn’t take more than 3 to 5 days to be delivered and received. How come I still haven’t received anything?

I was also making successive follow ups about check of annual dividends. My policy’s anniversary is every November. For the past years, I receive my check every January.  Months passed and I haven’t received anything again. When I relayed my concern over the three customer service representatives I have spoken, I found no definite answer. All I was asking is was a definite date. Why can’t three customer service representatives give me a concrete answer?

I’m disappointed over the kind of service I’ve been receiving from the company. As much as I want to trust the company, I’m beginning to lose confidence and doubt your capability to serve me. If the time will come that I need to claim my benefits, I’m having second thoughts about your ability to live to your promise of real insurance.

I hope to receive feedback in the soonest possible time.

Very disappointed,

Diane

UPDATE

As of date, Philamlife still failed to resolve my complaint. I already received the acknowledgement letter of payment. However, my dividends that has been delayed for months.. I never received clear actions from the company. All customer service representatives simply told me, we will endorse your concern blah blh blah  (Sorry, how futile!)

If there is anyone from you who can help me address my concerns to the right persons from Philamlife, I beg you. Please help me.

FINAL UPDATE

I got fed up speaking with different customer service representatives. I tried seeking the assistance of the family friend who served as my servicing agent.  Everyone whom I communicated over the past months appeared as a total failure.

I decided to make a stupid and desperate move. I wrote a letter to the company’s Vice President for Operations. I cannot identify who was the right VP to contact so I sent letters to both VPs, Reynaldo Centeno and Jose Roel Teves.  To expedite the process, I even used the fast expensive courier services.

After a week, an officer from the office of the two VPs called me in our company office. She promised to deliver my cash receipt and dividend the next day.  Everything was delivered two days after through LBC. Oh finally! I have to irritate myself with several customer service officers and spend hundred of pesos for my complaint to be resolved.

The envelope contained an apology letter, receipt (a computer generated version only) and the dividend check amounting to PHP 40O +!!!!!