Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cents and sensibility

Several weeks ago, I blogged about pooches. Actually, there was nothing much to say, just photos of cute puppies that I wanted to post after I had discovered The Daily Puppy. I was also contemplating on writing about an experience I had at the Riverbanks mall's supermarket, but not feeling up to it, I settled for some eye candy instead (the pups).

Well, I remembered that supermarket experience again and it's as a good a time as any to relate it.

After picking up a few things for a Friday night's scheduled date with HBO, I headed for the cashier. She swiped the assortment of potato chips and fish crackers, then punched the keys on her cash register while I rummaged through my bag to get my wallet. She then said the amount due out loud (let's say it was P35. 50).

"P35.50, ma'am."

As I snapped open my wallet to get some bills, I happened to glance at the bar bearing the amount and saw that it wasn't P35.50 but P35. 40. And here's what I did: nothing.

I think I was too stunned to say anything, stunned that a cashier would purposely give the customer an amount to be paid without reading the exact amount registered on her machine. I've encountered being given candy many times over the years for the lack of coins for change. Some cashiers have the courtesy to tell the customer that there's no small change so "okay lang ho? kulang ng 10 centavos..." One time it was 25 centavos that was due me and when the cashier asked me if that was ok, I gave a flat-out "no." I guess it was exasperation that prompted me not to simply give in and to add "kung kulang ng barya, dapat hindi yung customer ang makukulangan," before leaving.

This time, the cashier was taking things into her own hands and "solving the problem" herself by asking the customer to shell out an amount that was more than what the cash register indicated. Unfortunately, my surprise had me giving her what she asked for, but after getting my shopping bag I headed straight to the customer service counter and related what happened. "It may be just 10 centavos but she's not supposed to change the amount that registers on her machine. Your establishment should have the coins you need and customers shouldn't be asked to pay extra. If the cashier does that to every customer, that amounts to big money, and I wouldn't want to shop her anymore if you don't do something about it."

I've forgotten the customer service attendant's reply but he did note the cashier number (I was sure to supply him with that information). "Please brief your cashiers about this," I added.

After that I couldn't help but think that the potential beginnings of corruption crop up everywhere, not just in government. If people would take care of the little things, some problems wouldn't even be there to start with.

In the meantime, I've made it a point to save the few 5 and 10 centavo coins I accumulate in my wallet. I figure I'd better do my part as well. =)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Grand Chocolate Giveaway

Saw this at Generations for Life last week. Young people can really come up with some very imaginative ways of promoting life and love!

Yesterday [Valentine’s Day], on hundreds of college campuses nationwide, students were handed a Hershey’s kiss with a free condom. This “Condom and a Kiss” campaign has been going on for several years and is a way for students who practice contraception or support it to spread their message and their products.

But yesterday Project Plus … reached out to our peers with a message that “True Love is worth more than Contraception”. We had full sized Hershey’s Chocolate Bars with that message on the front, and we handed them all out (360 bars) in less than 2 hours…

The theme of the chocolate bar give-away was “Without Contraception, You get so much more”, an analogy pertaining to the tiny Hershey’s Kisses that the “Condom and a Kiss” campaign hands out with their product, compared to full sized Hershey’s bars we had. Inside the candy wrapper we explained this briefly, saying, “It makes sense that condoms are handed out today with nothing more than a tiny chocolate kiss. This reflects how little love you can express while using one. Using contraception tells your lover, ‘I don’t want to share every part of myself with you.’”

Read the whole thing here

The ride

The past week has had me riding the MRT more often. Frankly, I was not prepared for the deluge of commuters during the rush hours. When did the number of people in Manila swell to such proportions??

First of all, there are the queues. Queues, queues and queues everywhere. Queues to enter the elevator. Queues to go up the escalator. Queues to have your belongings inspected. Then when you finally get to enter the station, more queues to buy a ticket. Then, queues to swipe your card. Then queues to board the train. Now these are not your ordinary queues, but queues that are pretty long and go around this way and that in a snake-like manner.

Needless to say, using the public transportation in Manila is a test of patience.

One wonderful thing about this mode of transportation, however, is the all-female car, which is the first car of every train that passes. Anticipating riding a car whose only men (if any) would be little boys and elderly gents is a delight. I don't feel like elaborating at this time, but if you're a woman and you know how life is in a Third World tropical country, you know what I'm talking about. =)

Last week I happened to catch my ride seated all the way to my place of destination. Then on one of the stops, a woman found herself standing right in front of me, holding on to the safety handles. She looked 30ish and her belly was kind of bulging, but I wasn't sure if the bulge was of the flabby kind or of the expectant kind. For a few minutes I was trying to figure it out, glancing at her midsection from time to time. I wanted to offer her my seat 'cause a pregnant lady is sure to take a lot of comfort in getting off her feet. I thought of asking her outright but was afraid to since I didn't want to risk hurting her feelings. Need I explain? My question could be interpreted as somewhere along the lines of "you're fat."

So, I ended up sitting comfortably the whole way, passing up the chance to give that comfort to someone else. And I felt like something I hadn't felt for a very long time. I felt like a coward.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Screwtape on film!

‘Screwtape Letters’ to be released on film

.- The company that produced The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is planning to adapt C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters into a major motion picture that will open in theaters nationwide in early 2008.

This is the second effort of Walden Media to bring C.S. Lewis to the big screen, following the very successful Narnia. The company also plans to release the sequel to Narnia, Prince Caspian, sometime next year. First published in 1942, The Screwtape Letters features a series of letters between senior demon, Screwtape, and his wannabe diabolical nephew, Wormwood. As a mentor, Screwtape advises Wormwood on how to undermine the faith and promote sin to an earthly man known only as “the Patient.” Like The Chronicles of Narnia, which grossed $744 million worldwide, The Screwtape Letters will be shot as a live-action movie.

More about Screwtape at Wikipedia

Friday, February 09, 2007

The test of a civilization

"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members."

- Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973), American author, 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature

Ditching the remote

Since my family's return to TV-viewing in January after buying a new TV set -- after nearly 2 months of making do with no TV in the house -- the remote control has been quite busy. Of course, the Australian Open and Roger Federer's advancement to the finals had a lot to do with it. Then there are also the interesting programs on the Lifestyle Network (the cooking shows to be more precise). "Passion for Pastry" is a delight to watch, not just for the fascinating step-by-step process of creating sumptuous-looking sweets, but also for pastry chef Jacques Torres' charming enunciations (he's French). Once in a while, "Martha" has features that catch our fancy; when I remember "Everyday Italian" on time, I catch it on Sundays and even take notes.

Enough about the viewing fare at home. I just started on that because of a piece about one man's experience with being a couch potato and the inadvertent rewards of pulling the plug. This is quite an entertaining read. Excerpts:

I don’t remember how I got rid of my television but I do remember the very first day without it. I came home from work and sat on the couch with a box of crackers. The silence was tolerable; it was the noise in my head -- the jarring reality of incessant thoughts -- that I couldn’t stand. About twelve minutes of it was quite enough. I acted out what people did 100 years ago. I bolted for the street and knocked on my neighbour’s door. She was ten years my senior and incredibly welcoming. She listened to my confession with such good humour it brought me back the next day. And the next. We became great friends and drank a lot of coffee.


Sometimes when people learn that I don’t have a television they ask: “What do you do with all of that free time?” My response is just as automatic: “You have free time?”

In the decade of evenings without a television, I have read many books -- even written and published one -- started a family and a magazine, and begun learning Spanish. My young children are free and edifying entertainment. I don’t resent anyone because I missed my programme and I’m burning calories without going to the gym. We live in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and in winter when my wife and I find some free time we cuddle in front of the fire. Ironically, I am once again staring at a space the size of a large television screen. But rather than shutting down, I am enlivened by our debates, our anecdotes, our analysis of the day, as our eyes move from each other to the burning embers.

Read "Unhooked from television," by Patrick Meagher

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

4-legged huggables

There's been something on my mind. I've been meaning to blog about it for several days now but I end up not doing it. Why? It's likely to end up being related with a tone of distaste or haughtiness, of bitterness even. So I'm giving it more time. Oh, it's not that serious an issue though those of you who take your being consumers seriously will definitely agree that seemingly insignificant things matter a lot. If you must know, it's about a shopping experience I had weeks ago.

So I'm blogging about pooches! I've discovered another cutesy site, one that's bound to dispel low spirits or give an energy boost if you're one to swoon over pictures of adorable animals. Don't you just love these puppies???

They do look somewhat unhappy but I think that makes them look all the more lovable and deserving of sweet hugs.

These photos (except for the tough-looking Bulldog pup over there) are from The Daily Puppy, which features at least one puppy everyday, with accompanying commentary. A refreshing change from the daily news that seems to be all about bad news most of the time.

I added The Daily Puppy to the list of links here so you can easily check it out.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar in four pieces

with your bare hands--and then just eating one piece."

- Judith Viorst

Friday, February 02, 2007

From the mouth of babes

Allen, 3, went to the grocery story with his dad. All through the grocery
store Allen asked questions, every one starting with the query "Daddy?"
Allen was very talkative and asked what seemed like a million questions.
When they got to the check out, the line was very long. Allen continued
with his questions, asking, "Daddy?" to start each one. This question and
answer session was entertainment for the other shoppers, who were bored
with waiting. Finally, Frank, tired of answering yet another question,
told Allen not to call him "Daddy" again. Allen sat very quietly for a
few moments. Then there was a quiet little, "Father?"

* * * * *

Quinn, 2, saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty. She pointed to the
picture and said, "Look, Mommy -- she has to hold her ice cream up so Tyson
(the family dog) doesn't get it!" -- Angela Cox (mother of Quinn) of Lee's
Summit, Missouri

* * * * *

Being pregnant can seem like a never-ending experience, especially for a
little boy waiting for a new brother or sister. Jonah, 5, was watching
his mother go through her maternity clothes and he told his father
that, "Mommy is sorting out her eternity clothes!" -- Neil
Grepke (father of Jonah) of Kendallville, Indiana

* * * * *

Rose Ann tells about a friend of hers who was driving to a wedding reception
with her son, daughter-in-law and her two small grandchildren. They were in the
car after the wedding, on the way to the reception, when the youngest said,
"Daddy, are we on the way to the conception!" -- Rose Ann of South Lyon, Michigan

A friendly reminder

Modesty aside...

I know I'm not alone in feeling peeved that those of us who go about our business quietly -- moving about and dressed modestly -- have no choice but to put up with the effects of "cultural second-hand smoke" just because other women move and dress to make men ogle at, uh, certain parts of their female anatomy. Sometimes I feel like asking them (the va-va-voom-garbed women) if they could please move to another planet so that I wouldn't have to put up (or not so much anyway) with a hyper-sexualized environment and inadvertently avoid...picking up after such women, so to speak. For some reason, that's how I feel about the whole thing -- that I end up with the dirt unwittingly caused by women (well, people in general) who apparently don't value upholding decency and modesty in society as much as I do. Is it fair in this case to say "you create the dirt, you clean it up and don't get any on me"? Sounds harsh but...

Suffice it to say, I love gentlemen, and I do what I can to help them be such. And I can see that when women don't act like ladies, this hardly brings out the gentlemen in the male members of the populace.

Also, I find it somewhat amusing when a woman looks disgruntled (or uncomfortable at best) when her barely clothed self elicits gazes from men. This commenter at The Rebelution blog sums up my sentiments succinctly:

I’ll tell ya what gets me. It is the woman who dresses [to] emphasize her sexuality and then has the nerve to get upset when men notice it.

She ends her comment with this:

But I do believe if a woman wants to be respected for her mind, that is the part of her she is required to reveal.

This and some 100+ more other comments were generated by a post that contained yet another comment which touched on on the Modesty Survey conducted by The Rebelution (it ended up with over 1,000 men participating). The comment essentially objected to the survey, and in somewhat scathing words. Here's the post:

Feminism and the Modesty Survey

The following (real) comments typify a general objection to The Modesty Survey. This post is primarily intended to address a specific method of voicing concern, not to condemn the voicing of concern. We have and do welcome your feedback.
I’m confused…what girl needs advice from male strangers about how to dress? Is this advice for blind girls? Don’t they have moms or sisters or friends or…someone? Maybe we should concentrate on the real problem: finding homes for these poor blind orphans!

I have a secret to tell you: Guys don’t actually like spineless females. You may think that acting subservient will make boys like you, but in the end it won’t. Don’t take the blame for the actions of horny teenage boys.

We are not required to shroud ourselves in drab, baggy clothes to protect the innocent eyes and hearts of our Christian brothers. Women have hips, boobs, legs, shoulders, lips, and skin. God put ‘em there, and apparently he was content with a fig leaf to cover up the “immodest” parts, so I don’t know why today’s boys need so much extra coddling.

Sorry… used to think this site was cool, but now I see what it’s really about.

While we gladly tolerate differing opinions, and even attacks on ourselves, these kinds of comments (e.g. girls who care about modesty are “spineless”) can come across as ridiculing the very girls the authors are apparently concerned for.

The Rebelution operates under the classical view of tolerance, in which you are not required to agree with your opponent’s ideas, but must respect them as people. We hope that everyone will embrace this principle in any future interaction.

In regard to the specific allegation—that The Modesty Survey places blame on women—we’re afraid this is a misinterpretation of our purpose.

From reviewing the results, we can tell you that 99% the guys who have taken the survey fully recognize their own responsibility to control their thoughts and actions. They are not blaming the girls, but they are admitting that some (not all) things can be a problem for them. The survey results are only intended for Christian girls who wish to assist their brothers in that fight.

It is actually slightly amusing that here we have 1,500+ men humbly admitting their weakness and voicing their need for women’s help—and all at the women’s request, we might add—and we’re still accused of being male chauvinists. [Note: For a more thorough explanation regarding how we view men and women, click here.]

One thing's for sure: you've got to check out the comments.
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