Value System and Status Symbol

I almost thought that we were having a typical lunch break. I had lunch with my lone friend at the workplace. We finished early and I noticed that I have a few more minutes to doze off. I took this as an opportunity to give myself that much needed sleeping hours.

In the middle of my sleep, I felt that one of my colleagues was approaching his workstation. It was still quarter to one. It was so unlikely for him to return to his place that early.

When it was time for me to wake up, I noticed that he was followed by one of his friends. It wasn’t my intention to eavesdrop but there was the opportunity.

I felt that my male colleague become pissed off with what happened during their usual lunch break. From the tone of his voice, I was sure that he felt disrespected. Turns out, his friends did something really disrespectful.

Can you guess what happened?

Here’s a clue, the place where they take their lunch is equipped with a very fast wifi connection. Everyone in their group are proud owners of expensive and humongous Samsung phones.

I bet, you can already feel the incident that pissed off my male colleague.

Despite being equipped with all those electronic devices, male colleague still values the importance of having quality time over a great meal.

These devices provide us the best and worst of both worlds. It makes life simpler and convenient. At the same time, these devices have the capacity to ruin relationships and destroy our value system.

I was never against any of these devices. I appreciate them more than the status symbol they provide. The problem arises with the people who were given the devices. You see, I believe that there are no bad inventions and devices. There are just people who fail to distinguish the right place and time to use these devices.

If there’s one thing I have to thank for, I guess it’s the fact that I own a cheap and ugly Android phone. Since I feel ashamed with my phone, I rarely use and bring out my phone whenever I feel a surge of fast wifi connection. I don’t have expensive devices but in a way, I would like to believe that this gives me the advantage of preserving my value system. And as you can see, this is something that those expensive mobile phones can never project.

Sometimes, I adhere to the idea that being deprived ironically means having more….

Perfect Failure

I just came from home from a rare family reunion. As always, there’s an occasion that brought the entire family together. I was looking forward to this because this is something that doesn’t happen everyday. I also had a tiring work week so this reunion provides that much needed break.

I should have expected this to happen. Life has its own way to surprise me and this is something I always fail to remember.

We were having a great time not until other friends, relatives and guests started to arrive. What started as quality time of catching up and exchanging stories ended up as another self-imposed pathetic moment.

As people started to arrive, everything became a showcase of brand new cars, signature bags, and all those indicators of material wealth.

I hate to admit it but part of me feels envious. But to say that I’m not contented with my life because I’m envious of their material wealth, that’s not me. My enviousness arises from my long dream of becoming the best provider for my family.

I don’t have plans of bringing that luxurious life to my family. All I wanted is for my family to finally have a new car that can fit the needs of my special brother, finance the last phase of the construction of our home, build my much needed savings account, increase my investments and establish that much needed emergency fund.

I’m not asking more than enough. It feels good to be rich but deep in my heart, I know that being rich was never my dream. All I wanted is the assurance that everything will be fine . But with the way things are going, I’m way far from fulfilling any of these dreams.

I’ve been working for years. I would like to believe that in one way or another, I have humble accomplishments in my career. But achievements to uplift the economic status of my family? This is where I perfectly fail.

What’s the point of having education, career advancement and fulfilling my dream of becoming an educator if at the end of the day, my family is still struggling. I may appear so wise and successful in the eyes of my students but deep inside, I’m ashamed. I dress well and accomplish all my responsibilities at work. Unfortunately, the real reason of my hardships and struggles are never feeling my success.

I’m not asking for greater things. All I wanted is for everything to be fine.

Unfortunately, I’m a perfect failure over simple things..

Unfinished

He is Michael. He was blessed with the talent, but never had the education to nurture it.

He is Vaughn. He was blessed with the education, but never had the talent to begin with.

If this is Jerry Maguire’s movie, they will complete each other. If this is a fairy tale, they can make the happily ever after.

Vaughn came from a wealthy family of entrepreneurs.  Vaughn was spared from living a life hindered by  limited resources.  Vaughn’s privelge is coupled with the pressure of excelling and placing the family in the pedestal.

Michael came from the typical middle income family, struggling to make both ends meet. He  is the child conditioned by his parents to take them out of poverty.  Achievement for his family means nothing if it does not mean any economic uplift.

Michael and Vaughn’s lives may have been predefined and strongly dictated by their respective families. Despite the differences and hindrances, Michael and Vaughn shared a common vision. They are silently driven by the dream of making things happen for themselves. In particular, both Michael and Vaughn dream of becoming the greatest chef with the support and appreciation of their families.

In the middle of weekday afternoon, Vaughn was attacked by his recurring sentiments of sadness and emptinees. He knew from the start that he will never be happy in the comforts of his family’s business. He knows that he is in the wrong place. He knows the way out. The only thing that  chains him to this misery is his love and respect for the family. He felt obliged to live his predefined life. Evening came and he went out of the office feeling hopeless and useless. In his mind, this was just another depressing day to pass and forget.

At the same time in another place, Michael is facing his dual computer monitor. He’s monitoring stock market figures from his left and on his right, he’s crunching figures and statistics for a report. This is life for Michael. He reads numbers and translates them to words. He should be earning more than enough for himself. However, his aging parents and a younger sister makes life a bit burdening for Michael. Michael felt tired in the shoes of being economically disadvantaged. More than the pressure of becoming a provider, Michael felt empty for living a life he doesn’t own.

Vaughn drove to this quiet coffee shop instead of heading home. He intentionally wanted to escape family dinner. He loves his family. He would do everything to make his parents proud. But at this apoint, he doesn’t want to be reminded that he is living a life that he doesn’t own.

While browsing his email from his mobile phone, Vaughn’s attention was caught by an online ad. A famous culinary school in Manila is offering short courses for the working professionals.  Reminded by his unfulfilled dream, Vaughn clicked the ad to discover the program’s details.

Vaughn always felt underestimated by his parents. He grew up endowed with all the resources. In exchange for this blessing, Vaughn was conditioned by his parents that he wasn’t doing enough.  In effect, Vaughn grew up believing that he never had the talent and will never be good enough for anything.

Michael has intentions of leaving his current job. He will not pursue his dream. He was seeking for job opportunities abroad. He was regularly submitting applications using his personal email, which he can’t access from the workplace.  In the middle of his coffee, he checked his email and found nothing. Before logged out from his account, he caught an interesting online ad. A famous culinary school in Manila is offering short courses for the working professionals. Disappointed over an empty inbox, he clicked the ad to discover the program’s details.

The next morning Vaughn made an impuslive decision. He called the school’s office and enrolled for the program. During the afternoon break, Vaughn told his secretary that he is bound to have lunch with a friend in town. He headed to the school and had himself enrolled for the program.

Michael woke up the next day feeling more depressed and restless. He took the train thinking about the short course that showed up from his email. He alighted to his everyday station with the flock of people. Feeling impatient and irritated, he waited for the staircase to be emptied by the hurrying passengers. When the alley was already empty, his heart took him away from his usual route. He alighted to the opposite train. Surprised of what he did, he decided to give in. He found himself heading to the culinary school. Michael enrolled himself to the program.

The week after Vaugh and Michael were headed to the same route. Both look forward for weeknights of Monday and Wednesday. They started with the classroom lectures. Weeks after, the Vaugh, Michael and their 10 more classmates were led to the actual culinary arts laboratory.

The small class of Vaugh and Michael went quiet and less interactive. Apparently, their other classmates belong to one group. They were group of friends and employees of one company. Michael and Vaughn were left alienated and seriously pursued their unfulfilled dream.

Less than a month before the end of the course, the class instructor announced the final requirement of their short course. The class’ end project is to produce a full course meal.  The class will be divided to teams and each course

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Photo from The Daily Post of WordPress

So that was it… it’s an unfinished story which I never had the courage to pursue.

I should have submitted this to a writing prompt organized by the The Daily Post.  I didn’t beat the deadline because I wasn’t able to end my story.

While I always dream of publishing my own book someday, I realized that I may not be fitted to write anything about fiction. As I progress with the story, I realized how uncreative and crappy are my ideas. In the middle of the plot, I felt like I was writing a script for a local soap opera.

Despite of the mess I made, I decided to publish my unfinished work.  I guess this will remind me that I will never be made for fiction writing. Perhaps, I’m Vaughn and Michael morphed to one. I never had the talent and resources to begin with.

Since it’s 12:56 am, I better stick with my role as a teacher in a few more hours. Finish my lecture, wake up early, catch the train and hopefully, I will not end up as a another crappy and useless person.

I’m quiet but not silent

Back in my Elementary and High School days, I made this conclusion that all great writers tend to alienate themselves to everyone. Most of the time they are quiet, alone, staring away to nowhere and unfriendly. In one word, ALOOF. They will never communicate and reach out unless someone dares to break their solitude. Not that I’m stereotyping all writers. This was my observation to my schoolmates who excel in writing. My aloof classmates often receive praises from English teachers and tapped to join contests. My self-theory was strengthened when I discussed this observation to a friend at the workplace. Her cousin, who was producing critically acclaimed novels (which we can’t appreciate and understand), sets to be a perfect case from our self-theory.

If this is a main requisite among the great writers, I would proudly become an elite member. I don’t have the skills and talent in writing. I will only be qualified by virtue of possessing the solitary attitude.

My solitary image has unfortunately caused me some troubles. Whoever says that being quiet or minding your own business is the safest ground is so wrong .. at least in my case.

The initial impressions I often receive from other people are

I’m a quiet and silent person.

I can”t talk.

Hindi makabasag pinggan (Can’t shatter or break plates – A Filipino idiomatic expression which means that a person is shy, timid, demure or reserved)

Yes, I was like that in my entire years of studies. I only learned to express myself and reach out to more people in college. Other than that, I was always the quiet person in family reunions and parties.

My quiet personality later caused some people to tag me as snobbish, insensitive, useless, introvert, and aloof. I act differently so I don’t belong. This always happens during family reunions. At the workplace however, I can redeem myself because of my constant communication and coordination tasks with other offices.

Some of my cousins may not admit it, but I know. They don’t like me. Who would ever want a boring, serious and lifeless person in the group? You see, I get discriminated just because my mouth doesn’t utter words. Some of them even went surprised when they discovered that I dabble as a part time college instructor. Comments like; Really? Oh, she does talks?

Truth is, I also feel upset when other people see me in a negative way … More so, when they create stories and attempt to explain my quiet personality.

Here’s what I have to say,

Yes. I’m quiet but never silent.

I may not express my thoughts through words and sounds. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have thoughts. I’m not substance empty if that’s what your shallow thoughts tell you. I simply prefer to quietly process things and express my thoughts in writing. You see, the world is already full of noise. I don’t want to contribute more.

It is also during my quiet and lone times when I can finally read a book , rest and escape myself from all the hassles of my everyday life. I wanted peace and tranquility. For some reason, deep and meaningful thoughts start to thrive in me when I’m enclosed in a rather quiet and peaceful environment.

Lastly, I would like to believe that quiet people are the most genuine persons in the planet. They don’t play pretend and show that false positive attitudes. In the mind of a quiet person, she would simply ignore the existence of people she doesn’t like.

My only plea to those who have been discriminating the quiet individuals, let’s part ways and continue with our own endeavors.

Stop the useless talks, I prefer to write and keep quiet.

I believe that’s simple enough to be processed by your shallow thoughts…

White Rose

M doesn’t know me. We made a few useless encounters, but that was it.

I used to be in this situation several years ago. All my efforts ended up as a pile of futile attempts. It wasn’t meant to be. I learned my lesson in the most painful and humiliating way.

With the way things are going added to this my dwindling self esteem issues,  I will never have any chance with M.  At the end of the day, I have to satisfy myself with another series of useless encounters.

Feeling hopeless, I ended up with another pathetic move. Payday is still faraway and my wallet is screaming me empty. Against my own will, I withdrew money from my hard earned savings account.

The best thing that happened that day, there were no lines in all atm machines. As I make my way, I noticed a long stemmed white rose above the atm machine. Someone intentionally left it? Very unlikely. Someone who previously used the machine might have a lot of bags and other items in  her arms.  She decided to temporarily let go of the useless white rose which could hamper her more important transaction.

It should have been a simple item left by another person.

Obviously, my mind and heart are conniving to convince me that it wasn’t as useless as it is.

I finished my transaction and left everything as it is. On the way out of the building, I saw someone from the past.  She committed something that made me feel oppressed and stupid. She and the Company President made me feel that wealthy businessmen and some poorly educated employees are nothing but heartless individuals. They see pathetic and hardworking customers as mere milking cows.

Have I forgiven her and their company President who never had the balls to face me? It appeared that way when I left the charges.  The truth however is never. My vengeful heart is secretly hoping that their company will lose customers. I want them to be fed with their own bitter pill.

I always associate white rose with love and purity. In this case, what was the white rose trying to tell me?

Weekly Photo Challenge : Fleeting

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The photo was taken in Binondo, the Philippines own version of Chinatown. It was believed that Binondo is one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world. Binondo was established in 1594, when the Philippines was still colonized by the Spanish government.

A significant number of the Philippine population is attributed to the Chinese community.  Some Chinese businessmen later found success in the Philippines. In the end, Binondo was born and continues to live its Chinese tradition.

The photo was particularly taken during the Chinese New Year.  My friends and I would brave the narrow and crowded streets of Binondo during the New Year festivities. It has then become a part of our annual tradition.

What can be observed from the photo is the dragon dance, vendors of lucky charms and the crowd of cars and passengers on that significant day.