The Disappointment that Comes from Expecting the Goodness in People

January 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hi AirPhil Express,

I had a great flight today from Manila to Legazpi. Thank you guys! I was having a good day until the moment I arrived here at the hotel, when I realized that your cashier at the NAIA 3 didn’t give me my Php 500 back (I am sure this was deliberate on his part).

First, I am disappointed because I am not using my money, I am here for a UNESCO project, to make a documentary on the local indigenous knowledge of the island near Legazpi, that’s Rapu-Rapu. Second, I am in rage because you’d expect that employees of an airline company especially the ones that are handling money would be doing their job with honesty and integrity.

I am not seeking to get back my Php 500 because I don’t see why a company such as yourself would even bother. It’s just Php 500 anyway.

But I will tell you what happened because I think it is important for me to to call this out. I was late for check in for my flight by 3 minutes: AIR PHIL EXPRESS 2P 0581. I think I was the last to check in, so you imagine how chaotic everything was in my head while I was there at the counter. To cut the story short, my tripod was so heavy (it weighed almost 4 kgs.) and I had to pay for the excess baggage. The lady at the check-in counter was really helpful except she didn’t smile back but that was OK as long as I was going to make it to my flight. I asked how much do I have to pay, she asked me to pay at the cashier which was the counter to our right. So OK, I had to pay Php 600. So I gave two Php 500 bills. There were two guys on the cashier counter, two guys, one was standing, the other one was in front of the computer. The other one who was standing asked me if I had a Php 100 bill. I said yes, so I gave Php 100 and waited.

At that moment everything was just a blur to me, I just wanted to be on that flight. So he gave me the receipt and asked me to give the receipt to the lady in the check-in counter. So OK, they already have my baggage and I was just standing there, waiting. It might have been 3 minutes. Until by baggage was as the other end of the conveyor belt and I was OK. I didn’t think of anybody else. They gave me the boarding pass, and I was even assisted by a guy from the team so that I could get to the boarding gate ASAP. So I really loved the service. You see, I’ve never been late in a flight before, so I was very happy.

I got to the plane, flew to Legazpi, and landed safely, great!

But there’s a problem, I have no Php 500 bill in my pocket. I should have Php 500 bill, not just Php 20 bills in my right pocket for the shuttle service in Legazpi! And then I remember the guys in the cashier at the NAIA 3 airport, they didn’t return one of my Php 500 bill back. I don’t see why they couldn’t have given it. I was standing there for good 4 minutes before I finally left for the boarding gate.

I am a filmmaker, and a development worker. I am still young and very hopeful and very optimistic about this country. But it’s the incidents like these that make me doubt, make me angry, make me embarrassed about my fellow men. Ang matuwid na daan ba ay para lang sa Presidente? Hindi ba lahat tayo ay dapat tinatahak ang daang ito kung gusto nating ito ang direksyon ng bansa? Yada yada yada…

But I will continue to hope and expect only goodness from everyone. Those two guys who gave me this receipt:Imagemight have forgotten about that Php 500 bill. I would never know. But it’s your job, Airphil Express, to make sure they remember.

When you’re broke and gay

January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am hardwired to keep going. And although my eyes are now reduced to having red veins for straining them by having them glued in front of a laptop most hours of the day (and I mean most hours), I have not the time to worry and rest them. There are battles that still need to be won. Battles easier triumphed over had my parents knew any better. But I still have them to thank for teaching me how to stand, and stand my ground, and live, and live on my own.

I could wish for a better life but I thought, really, I wouldn’t want it any other way. 


A kid during a community visit in Barangay Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal was trying to climb a tree. I miss those days when like him I was still free.

To whom it may concern:

October 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

My plea to the allegations set before me is guilty beyond reasonable doubt, the evidences are more than sufficient and I do not wish to request further investigation or make claims. Upon hearing from my Team Captain that my name is included in the list of agents suspected to be engaged in fraudulent activities in line with their Customer Satisfaction Surveys, right there and then, I knew that I cannot get away with it simply because I am guilty as charged.

My reason for committing the crime is simple: peer pressure. This practice of mine has been emulated from a colleague back when I was still at the Customer Service sometime in January; although I do not point the finger and put the blame to that person at all because it was a deliberate decision I made. With almost all of the team passing CSAT scores during that time and having learned from one of them that that illicit manipulation has been “tried and tested”, I jumped into the bandwagon so that they will not cast judging eyes or taunt me at the very least as the team mate who lowers their team stats as I was a newbie. I honestly think that during that time that it was completely O.K. since, according to him, “almost everyone” does it. My supine credulity won the better of me and played the devil’s advocate.

Towards the end of March, somebody from the Customer Care LOB, who happens to be the very person who persuaded me into believing that such act is perfectly fine, was caught in the act and was allegedly terminated immediately. I started to think; and hastily stopped from doing what I thought was a normal practice. That was during the last week of March. I put it to halt because I know that eventually I’ll be caught too. And indeed, caught I was. Now, I have to pay the repercussions of my actions.

My earnest apologies to all the team captains, trainers, program heads, supervisors, operations managers, and even the clients, to anyone at all, whose trust and confidence in the way I conduct my duties and obligations I had critically severed. This is an ennobling situation I have put myself into and I am certainly not proud of it. I understand that this is grave an offense and that it might lead to my termination. Due to this incident, one might doubt my aptitude to pass my CSAT scores, or more generally, to pass my metrics with fairness and honesty; but there are still some things which one cannot doubt about me: that my love for my job is true as steel and that I am very enthusiastic about it, that I am doing all my best to come to work diligently without being tardy albeit my being a college student, that I am doing all I can to do well in all my metrics without outright manipulation and fraud for weeks now, and that I’ve learned my lesson – and learned it well – and will never again resort to such unfair, unethical and seemingly immature way of getting away from DSAT surveys.
I am truly sorry about this lamentable custom. No word can best describe the way I feel right now but regretful. Nevertheless, since you’ve given me the chance to be heard to which I am grateful; let me give you as well my two cents worth about the issue in question.

Maybe it’s high time the administration modify the way by which it gathers its figures and numbers on satisfied consumers. Maybe it’s more apt, and safe at that, if the probability that the customers can receive a survey were taken away from the hands of the call representatives. Representatives who seek regularization, representatives whose future in the company rests partly on how many customers are satisfied (with the way they handle the call and with the way the company/service center repairs, updates, and returns defective products). Maybe it is also a good idea if surveys were made random.

There are things beyond the control of a technical support or customer service representative which might make customers dissatisfied. I think representatives in this account were honest and fair until one day they discovered it’s possible to control the survey returns to which I too, unfortunately, subscribed to.

Respectfully yours,

Michael Vincent Dc. Mercado
XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX Support Representative

Thee years after I wrote the letter I promised myself I wouldn’t go back to call centers ever again and I’ll do everything within my powers to stay away from them. I miss the friendships I made but the whole experience is just something I don’t have interest in getting back into. But it was during these moments that I truly realized what I want to make up of my life. Sometimes you have to figure out what you don’t want to be, to know who you truly want to be.

There’s a great idea to be had from the Taal issue for our hacienderos. They could name and mark their lands!

October 20, 2011 § Leave a comment


My Advocacy

August 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

People often ask me what I do for a living, I would often reply: NGO, or community service. But NGO work is such a broad job description and everyone has their own notion of NGO that they always have their follow-up questions ready. Questions that often lead nowhere because they just couldn’t get it!I could always say, advocacy work, or developmental work, but unless they have an exposure to humanitarian causes or community development work, they would never understand what my job entails, demands and requires.

So while you wonder where I usually devote my time, I present some of the newsletters we’ve had had in this project we have been working on called the Banaba Disaster Risk Reduction Project, a project which aims to reduce vulnerabilities and increase preparedness of families and communities in the area. It is being implemented by the Center for Disaster Preparedness, my office, in cooperation with Buklod Tao, a people’s organization proficient in DRR and CCA (climate change adaptation) initiatives in the village for almost 13 years now.

I am a film student and to merge it with a developmental work is everything that I could ever dream of. To use the medium as an integral part of an advocacy for people to embrace the culture of safety and preparedness especially for those who live in high-risk areas is my way of giving back to my countrymen.

Academic Baklese Writing

August 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

My thesis adviser asked me to send him some sample Baklese translation of the texts in this essay by Robert Norris, Notes on Sculpture. At first I was all giddy about it. I started reading and then the words droned, and I got lost along the way. I do not say my Baklese is on point, that it’s better than everybody else’s. In fact I haven’t the slightest interaction with my gay friends whom I used to calibrate my gayspeak with. Given that, and we all know this, Baklese is a dynamic language, one week of not meeting with them is equivalent to missing 10 years of  the evolution of the English language. I might as well be in Mars.

Like the dildos did the Roman Catholics, it hit me. The reason I was having difficulties translating is because baklese‘s seed bed is still our mother tongue: Filipino; and translating Western concepts to Filipino is already hard as it is. And much of the baklese words that have come to use are words one normally one hears in a parlor (e.g. otoko, minchu, merlat) or concepts that are definitive of the gay culture (e.g. ketai, lapukelya, harvest, rampage).

What if we start talking about iconography, art, Marxism, science or even religion in our daily Baklese interactions? This will potentially define the disparity between the bekispeakers who are learned and those who aren’t, that to this day could not be completely pointed out.


Mga Notrils sa Paglililokelya ni Robert Morris

Part I 

Paolo Kontis lang ang mga julatinsk shungkol sa mga jumujusbong na paglililokelya ngayonchi. ‘Pag pinag-jijishplukan naman itey, more more suporta-erks lang itey sa isang malawakelyang iconographicbels o iconologicaliliwawow na punto de windows vista – mashopos jubusing i-keme ang mga random sampling na mga paintingelya. Ang kuda pa ni Kubler, sa mga iconologicaliliwawow na mga kinukuda ng mga itey, ang mga kyonarasan na super Eva Kalaw sa mga chururus ng espasyolinda at oraschina ay kropat puwedeng mag-69 or magbaliktaranbels. Mas kabog sigurong ikuda, at agree din ditey si ate mo Barbara Rose, na meronchinang least common denominator terminator ang mga kung anek-anek na mga art ngayownsk – mas iconographikelyabels kesa  iconologicaliliwawow na punto de windows vista xp 7.

24 + Image

August 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just turned 24 yesterday. Thanks to some of my closest friends, it was made special even when I was resolved at spending most of it on my bed. Getting all the rest I could get after weeks of hard-work and tribulations.  I’m 24 years old. Oh I can’t believe it. I’m 24 years old. Time flies past, they always say. But you wouldn’t really give it much thought until you get older.

There’s something about this number that makes me uncomfortable. For one, I remember how I kept telling in high school that I would be straight once I turned 24. What was I thinking? It’s not like it’s a choice – my sexuality – because I wouldn’t have chosen it if it were.

Age is directly proportional to maturity, and responsibility. I have had countless responsibilities since I was a little kid, responsibilities children of my age wouldn’t usually presume. They all grew (in big numbers) as I went. Am I more responsible now? I guess. Am I happy I have more responsibilities than I could care to admit? Maybe. I really feel tiresome when I’ve nothing to do. It’s depressing. Now that I think it, it must be because of the haunting fear of ending up as a sad, broke, old drunkard like my dad.

Emotionally, I’d like to think I’ve become mature. Largely due to my dealings with people who’ve been through a lot and whose wise words nurture the soul. There are however still some parts in me that are childish. The way I present myself to others for example is contemptuous. I remember what Tita Meng said during one of those moments when she would give me words of encouragement, assuming the role of a concerned aunt to me which was never been filled even by my real aunts. She said, people would respect me based on the way I present myself to them. I don’t know how to do it, I don’t know where to start. The irony of being me is that I am introvert but to people I have close affinity with and I simply don’t know how to look worthy of respect. Ha-ha.

Cutting my hair, let alone dying it brown red, is a good start. They say a girl who cuts her hair wants a new life. Hey I’m not a girl but that’s what I want. A new image. A new life. To be perceived the way I want to be perceived. To be discerned the way I want to be discerned. To be treated nothing less than I want to be treated. Or maybe I’ll just let it be. Who knows, somewhere along the way, I might just grow weary of being hyperactive, childish or inappropriate. But really, 24 is a scary number. It makes me feel old. I’m a fucking number of an image per second in a film.