​On the twelfth day of Christmas
the Titans gave to me.

Twelve dead friends,
Eleven dead friends,
Ten dead friends,
Nine dead friends,

Eight dead friends,
Seven dead friends,
Six dead friends,

FIIIIIIIVE EEEEAAATEN
FRIIIIIIENDS!

Four dead friends,
Three dead friends,
Two dead friends,

And a teammate smashed against
a treeeee.

Source: ifunny

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Happy national breakfast day!

national breakfast day at StarbucksThe event is McDonald’s, but for some reason branches in Baguio have not reached out to their customers earlier and openly hence the poor turn out. I got irritated when the crew who approached me trying to “sell” the PHP49 coupon of hash browns and coffee(?) couldn’t explain to me the mechanics well. I don’t get this grumpy easily but having fasted the night before and having let out blood first thing that morning probably had messed up my body chemistry. So I gave him back the coupons and told him and the cashier I bloody want BREAKFAST not a hash brown or a muffin. Somehow that got everybody behind the counter laughing – perhaps the way I spoke – which eased my conscience a bit.

Then afterward I had dessert at Starbucks, for the reason that McDo doesn’t have hot chocolate. So yeah- my side of the story on such a day. McDonalds (franchise owners) has to step up standardization of customers’ brand experience across the country. Staying true to it’s advertisements, the same level of quality in service and products regardless of location, in Jolo or in Makati City, should be in place.

I’ve been inside plenty of branches across the country and my experience of the brand in each was far from standard. Such impacts on the overall brand quality. The question in the mind of the customer is, what makes this or that branch stand out from the rest? if there are branches that meet the McDonalds standards, how come it’s not happening in all?

Fifty Shades of Grey Darker

 

Erotic not kinky, it’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.

– Terry Pratchett

Finally here is the second film installment of our favorite book, Fifty Shades of Grey Darker which contains most of the story’s BDSM scenes. Adapting that to film without turning the whole thing into porn mush must’ve been quite the challenge for the team behind the camera.

Even then news has it that hardly anybody’s “moved or aroused” and it was Lego Batman that took the lead on opening week in the US! Something’s really off when not even Kim Bassinger (beautiful and youthful still at 63) as Mrs. Robinson couldn’t lure more people into the theatres.

Maybe it’s the wait time. The first film was much anticipated, a hit in 2015, which raked in $560M from around the world. But then much has happened since. Greater and more shocking events than Grey and his red room games have shaken and rocked the world. Trump the real billionaire has usurped Grey the storybook billionaire. Coming into 2017, people are exhausted and like overworked stay-at-home wives simply can’t work up at the snap of a finger enough blood supply to that part of their anatomy (though Trump has nothing to do with global drop in libido whatsoever, this statement being fake). And Lego Batman, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy, had come in at the right time. Timing, is that what’s it called?

Nonetheless, I’ll include this second installment in my list to watch (for private viewing, that is, as I couldn’t imagine myself able to focus on the scenes with 100 others).

The press conference of a lifetime

Donald Trump leaks are real news is fake

US President Trump’s solo press conference was probably the most refreshing I’ve watched. Michelle Obama had her “when they go low, we go high” moment. I believe President Trump, channeling his savvy businessman persona, had his. I’ve not laughed so much in a long time! I believe this has cured my February maladies!

Right there was ‘white American’ in the raw. That ‘American’ whom peoples across the globe have had complicated relationship with- the one they “hate” and then also love. He’s no Mao or Stalin however who had histories of killing people and such. Thing was, in the press conference, that famed American bad-assedness was turned upon itself, against the American press that is. Suddenly, nations of the world became, for a change, the outsiders of an all too familiar treatment. 

But, if we don’t think too much about the President’s communication style and try to step away from getting embroiled in criticisms against him and into his shoes ie. a first time politician but nonetheless part of corporate America that contributes much to “US supremacy”, there are nuggets of wisdom in his statements that the press ie. corporations having journalism as their business really need to reflect on:

The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk about it. We have to find out what’s going on because the press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control. I ran for president to represent the citizens of our country. I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. I am talking, and really talking, on this very entrenched power structure and what we’re doing is we’re talking about the power structure. We’re talking about its entrenchment. As a result, the media’s going through what they have to go through to oftentimes distort.The distortion, and we’ll talk about it, you’ll be able to ask me questions about it. We’re not going to let it happen because I’m here, again, to take my message straight to the people.

The President isn’t the first to call out the media. There are the celebrities constantly followed around by papparazzi who counter with statements like “fame comes with price” and “just doing our job”, and articles about their lives you won’t know if it’s true or not prompting celebrities to open their own social media accounts. Could media be ever honest? Billy Joel’s Honesty comes to mind-

If you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
Honesty is such a lonely word

On that the President and media, like Tom and Jerry, could go at it without end with nothing accomplished in the end. Perhaps it’s just a matter of managing expectations on both sides? It’s clear media has some preconceived ideas about the ‘President’ and his treatment of them and the new President has also his, of how media should cover him and his administration. I could understand how a first time politician, the US President at that, could feel so much pride for the smallest of accomplishments of his office and thin-skinned about any criticism versus the weary and cynical attitude of a press that has covered plenty of Presidents and failed policies. Would conceding those initial accomplishments to this particular President lead to a better relationship? In any case, both sides need to find their common groove.

More than just an interpreter

​The funny scene in My Girl wherein Gong Chan (Lee Dong Wook) and his business partners are eating while Yoo Rin (Lee Da Hae), her stomach grumbling with hunger, was still focused on translating the conversation at table because her employer Gong Chan had not permitted her to eat along with them reminds me of a similar experience. Real time translation looks easy peasy but it’s actually not. If it does seem a breeze, you’re seeing the result of skills honed by years of experience.

At the time, I translated for a team of researchers from abroad who did a study among Filipino youth. The primary methodology was focus group discussions with groups of eight to ten young men and women not necessarily high school or college graduates who understandably prefer to use Tagalog. There were also a few intervewees from agencies who preferred to speak in the vernacular. Hence the need to translate responses in Tagalog to English and back.

The first FGD was a test, to give us a feel of how we sync with one another ie. myself and the researchers. Although we had been communicating through email about the work ahead, we only met for the first time in person on the day we started with the first FGD.

We got caught in EDSA’s infamous traffic. Riding from Makati City to Quezon City, we arrived at the venue a little past noon, or a total 3.5 hours! Welcome to the Philippines! Mabuhay! Boiling up in our throats, a string of expletives held in place by good manners and right conduct. After a profuse show of apologies to everyone who had been waiting, we immediately got down to work.

I didn’t know about my companions but I was hungry. Really hungry. In fact, my stomach growled. Breakfast – banana and coffee – was my last food intake. I was sure the guy researcher, seated beside me, also heard my innards which in the ensuing two-hour FGD didn’t let up. He is apparently the quintessential English gentleman and so I was sure he heard nothing of consequence. At the start of the second FGD though, he sat next to me again explaining, I need to hear you more clearly. The aircon’s busted, I think. Was he humoring me? But since we already had our lunch before then, I said yes, sure confident there was absolutely nothing to hear that time around.

On-the-job rapport with the researchers went pretty well. The pace of the discussions posed a bit of a challenge though. Participants speaking spontaneously in reaction to another’s statement is hard to manage without some rules set early on, as for instance, reacting or adding to another’s statement will be done only after the interpreter has already translated said statement.

Also, the importance of making translations as close as possible to what was originally said. This is a challenge when Tagalog words or phrases especially those touching on local culture and life do not have exact translation in English. Bayanihan, for instance. Technically-correct translation is, aid or assistance from neighbors and community residents. But, in the context of Filipino culture, bayanihan actually goes deeper than that. When encountering this, I forego further explaning to the researchers so as not to stall the flow of discussion, take mental note of the words, and when I’m alone with the team, in the car while wrestling traffic or at the hotel for debriefing, that’s the time I expound. As a researcher myself, I’m aware that interpretation of context, place, people, or history has significant impact on the research outcome. That’s one of the limitations faced by foreign researchers- they need adequate time to immerse in the local in order to understand it and tell of it with authority, or lacking that, learn from a reliable source.

There was just this one hitch during the field work. On the first day of scheduled FGDs, the same guy who may have heard my hunger pains disrupted me while I was translating his colleague’s query (spoken in English) for the participants. He told me about the need to translate as close as possible to original statements. I got irritated, that I was cut in the middle of translation, my head screaming at him like, go to hell! I am doing it, if you understand Tagalog. But, I guess, these things are forgiveable on first meetings when we were all feeling each other out, so instead I looked him in the eyes, nothing antagonistic by it, just to transmit the message that I did know he’s from Oxford but I’m the interpreter so cool it. I noted on the side the wonderful color of his eyes before returning my attention back to the group. He returned to recline in his chair beside me.

In group discussions, the interpreter, putting into play various skills, is in effect the one touching base with participants- asking the questions in a language they understand, making them feel at ease (by telling jokes, related stories, and the like) in order that they’ll respond well, being present to their responses to be able to translate these in good form, expounding on terminologies not readily understood, etc. In short, bridging worlds. That’s why in the movie we see Gong Chan’s business partners asking for repeat service from Yoo Rin who charmed them in ways other than merely rendering translation.

If ads spoke the truth and nothing but the truth…

News is that the Department of Tourism is ditching it’s slogan it’s more fun in the Philippines! and soliciting the public for a new one. Why not the truth as in “truth in advertising”? But then we all know that truth in advertising does nothing to set a product or service “free”.

My life's a mess via thenewyorker

Wet anger

Wet anger vs dry anger

I rarely have crying episodes so when I do I remember every detail. It was during a panel interview in the previous year. The interview had been going on several minutes before the donor representative asked me the question: wouldn’t this be a downgrade on your part considering your professional history and experience?

I burst into tears then. A roll of tissue somehow appeared in front of me. I saw that everyone was peering at me, shocked as I was, and at odds about what to do with me.

Through the muddle in my head, I heard somebody asking, concerned: “bakit ka naiyak? Meron ba kaming nabanggit na hindi mo nagustuhan? (why are you crying? Is it something we said?)” Somebody, the manager, replied: “ang dami na nya kasing experience (she has had a lengthy experience, that’s why)”.

The truth was since the start of the interview I had been overwhelmed and conflicted by the fact that I was actually being interviewed by farmers and elementary dropouts who were asking me things beyond their understanding. At the same time, here were the very people I had been hotly defending in my time in donor organizations. I should be the one to understand, shouldn’t I? It seemed the devil had sneaked into the room eager to laugh at me soon as I made that false move. I was reconciling these in my head when the question from the donor staff flew in from my left and landed right on my face. It caught me offguard, loosening my grip on my emotions.

The job was a done deal despite the question, my outburst merely confirming I wasn’t about to run out on them. But still. When I had finally composed myself, my mouth rambled off a nonsensical response which I doubted nobody not even myself could recall.

It was the weirdest thing to have happened to me in all my interviews. Basically it’s advice for what not to do in a job interview.

Glad for weird

blessings quoteIn fact, I feel an equation happening at the edges of my mind. I was laughing saying this to a friend on the phone. I was back to form and had just described the pain in my head I’ve battled with for a week .

Like there was lightning inside my head. Like it was a maze of live wire, I said. I haven’t experienced anything like it.

Look up Tesla, he said.

Who?

T-e-s-l-a. He supposedly felt the same thing when he made his inventions. Lightning-like flashes inside his head.

I laughed out loud. You gotta be kidding me!

I’m serious, he said. Maybe you’re now a genius.

I laughed some more. That’s when I told him about the equation. Just for laughs. And then our talk segued to aliens.

I kind of believe in aliens now, he said.

I laughed. I didn’t know what to make of it.

But we remembered together a professor at UP Diliman who was among those who founded the national chapter of Raelian Movement, believers in E.T. and stuff. At first, my colleagues and I laughed at what the professor was telling us, the UFO revelations he had, but because he was kind of scientific about it all we took him more seriously although to me, then and now, the idea is preposterous. But I’m fascinated with their suppositions.

Weird stuff. But after so much pain I’m glad even for weird stuff.

#ShareTheLoad

This video was shown during a session on gender analysis. We were seriously watching it UNTIL after the surprise at the close of the video. That’s when the room exploded. Everyone agreed that it’s the most riveting commercial about women and men on TV yet. Facebook COO Sandberg has the same thought too.