Thursday, November 19, 2009

friends and money

Someone once said, "Never lend a friend money unless you are prepared to lose both."

I can't imagine wanting to lend money to an enemy, either, but I've come to realize that this rule of thumb is wise (if not always implementable).

One of the things I really dislike doing is collecting a debt. Or even a payment. My thinking is, any person in his or her right mind who owes somebody something should pay up without having to be asked.

There are instances where allowances can be made. People do sometimes just forget to pay. Or they may have left their money at home, or have no change. That I can handle.

But people who have no change every single day for 8 weeks? You gotta be kidding me.

It doesn't matter whether you owe P20 or P20,000. Fair is fair. If you can't afford something, don't buy it. If you can't pay back a loan on November 15, don't say you'll pay on November 15 cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die. I'm sorry you've got problems, but there's really no reason why I have to suffer from my problems and yours.

Last month, someone asked to borrow P500 because they hadn't paid their electricity bill for the longest time, and the power company was about to cut them off. She promised to pay me on the 15th of November. I was skeptical, but I lent her the P500 anyway, prepared never to see it again.

I did see my P500 again. A couple of days before November 15. And this is from a person who has no steady income to speak of. She didn't wait for a reminder, she didn't ask for extensions, she paid up as soon as she had some money. It was almost enough to restore my faith in the human race.

Thankfully, I don't have a horror story about someone borrowing a huge amount of money from me and never repaying it. I do have one of a classmate who borrowed my beautiful red gown and returning it months after she said she would. At the time she borrowed it, the gown closed at the back with a zipper. When she returned it, it had been cut and had that shoelace-looking closure at the back. I almost killed her.

My parents always say it's better being in a position to help, rather than being the one who has to ask others for help. But is it too much to ask for promises good-intentionedly accepted to be good-intentionedly kept? It seems to me there is often a very fine line between kindness and stupidity.

That said, this advice from a WikiHow article sounds deserving to have the last say on the matter: "Consider that if you lend someone money and you never see them again, it may be a good thing."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

life is good

Just when I thought I might have gotten to the point where birthdays start becoming overrated, my family and friends (and in-betweens) stepped up spectacularly.

My generous, thoughtful, handsome, and super-super-amazing boyfriend (Van, I know you'll be reading this someday bwahahahaha!) generously and thoughtfully arranged a weekend at Plantation Bay, with the help of his just-as-handsome and just-as-amazing brother (the chances of Tonton happening by are next to nada, but it's just as well to be prepared, hehe).
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My sister sent me a surprise birthday card containing hand-captioned pictures that made my mother cry. (Me? "My heart is stone and still it trembles...")
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My phone and Facebook overflowed with well-wishes from friends.
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My mother threw me a surprise birthday dinner, attended by some of my closest family. (And, proving once again that no surprise is safe with her, she invited Aivan in front of me. Hahaha! That's my mother.)
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My friends at work surprised me with a cake at lunch today.
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And next next weekend...my father's birthday treat!

Life is good. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

a [biased] Cebuana on Manila

Cebu City, where I live, has been described as Manila minus the mayhem -- and what a difference the mayhem makes! Every time I visit Manila, my thoughts always run along the thread of "Thank God, I don't live here."

All right! Hold your fire! =)

I do know a lot of people who like living in Manila, my own sister included. And I know of people who absolutely love living in Manila and would never live anywhere else. Whereas I have never actually lived there, as my longest stay in recent memory has been all of 4 days. I suppose, if you lived in a nice, central location and/or had your own means of transportation and/or could afford to take a cab from one point to all the others, Manila would be utterly livable. Or, if you were like my sister, and you live, study and work in UP, and the farthest you usually need to go in any given week is Trinoma, it's all good.

If you have a stressful job, and you have to take public transportation, and the places you frequent aren't within 2 km of each other, you will probably have your first heart attack by age 40.

A couple of months ago, we were visiting my sister and staying at a condotel in Makati. I proposed going to Divisoria and there was just the slightest hesitation before my sister agreed. I soon found out why. To get from our place to Divisoria, we had to:
1. Walk half a kilometer to the jeepney stop
2. Ride a jeepney to get to the nearest MRT station
3. Walk several meters more from the jeepney stop to the MRT station
4. Ride the MRT (after standing in line for the longest time to get a ticket)
5. Switch from the MRT to the LRT
6. Ride the LRT
7. Ride a jeepney from the LRT station to the Divisoria area
8. Walk from the jeepney stop to the 168 mall.

I was almost crying by the time we got to number 5.

The easier thing to do, of course, would have been to take a cab. But, as any non-Manila-resident knows who comes to grief at their hands, almost all the cab drivers in Manila are spawns of the devil. They will refuse to use their taxi meter and propose a price 3x-5x what you would normally pay had aforementioned meter been used. Or they would use the meter and take such a roundabout way of getting to your destination that you end up paying 3x-5x the actual fare all the same. And in the rare chance that you actually come across an honest cab driver, paranoia will still kick in, and you will not be able to sit back and relax because you will fear being cheated out of the money that you, after all, shed blood, sweat and tears for.

Let's not get started on the ridiculous cost of a meal in Manila. And the state of some of the streets... Sure, we're all angry at Claire Danes, but couldn't her remarks have spurred more than collective indignation?

I know, I know, I know. Lots of people love living in Manila nonetheless. =)

As for me, I just count myself lucky to be living in a place where the local Ayala mall is one 20-minute jeepney ride away (P7), with a food court that offers yummy sizzling dishes (P50-P80). The church is one 10-minute ride away (also P7), from whose jeepney stop a roasted chicken (P160) stall and a lechon (P320/kg) stall are less than a minute's walk away. The schools I attended were a little farther away -- CCNSHS, UP and CIM are all 2 rides from Talamban -- but they're nowhere in the league of Makati to Divisoria. I suppose I'm just a small fish in a small pond in a small corner of the world, but, as long as I can visit other ponds from time to time, I wouldn't have it any other way.

acushla encounter

Four-thirty came and went, as did five PM. My officemates still hadn't shown up at the SM Bowling Center, so Aivan and I decided to walk around the mall. It was a good thing we did, because when we got to the North Wing, we were just in time to catch the start of a free concert by Acushla.

The term acushla, apparently, is a word of Irish origin and means "darling." I knew I'd come across the word before, but I couldn't remember where. By chance, I was re-reading Sherlock Holmes yesterday, and there it was, smack in the middle of The Valley of Fear.

Acushla, the band, is composed of a guitarist, a percussionist, and male and female vocalists who also take turns with the tambourine and other small instruments. (And obviously I call them "other small instruments" because I don't know what they're actually called.) At SM North Wing, they played a wide range of songs from Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You (with which I betrayed my age by knowing the lyrics!), Gabrielle's Out Of Reach, Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin's Separate Lives, and Barry Manilow's Copa Cabana. (And that was the first time I learned that Copa Cabana was originally sung by Barry Manilow.) The group was particularly adept at bossa tunes, but, really, all the songs they performed sounded great.

The band currently doesn't accept bookings for 2010 -- um, hehe, yeah, I checked -- but they do accept bookings for dates in the nearer future. Their usual talent fee is P8,000. For two sets of songs by a really good acoustic band, that's not bad at all.

For bookings, you can get in touch with Sabsy at 0932.2233025. Tell her you learned about their band from me, maybe that will get me a discount next year. :P

Friday, November 6, 2009

live. write.

Writing is a discipline. Anyone can produce several paragraphs of text in a burst of emotion, in a lightbulb moment, or, well, in an adrenaline rush to beat a school deadline. But to be a writer, to regularly come up with words worth immortalizing, that takes discipline. And anyone who's ever seen the mess in my room knows that I haven't got that much. Discipline, I mean. (Mess? Tons.)

The thing is, I like writing. More than anything in the world, except maybe traveling, and being with the people I love, and playing with my pets, and sleeping, and Omega-3 Gummy Fish.

So: I'm going to write. I am. Starting now. Because, even though I'm still in this seemingly endless phase of sorting out what I want to do and what I don't want to do, I do know that I do not want to let the rest of my life go by without lifting a pen. I'm going to live, and write about it. I'm going to be prolific. I'm going to flood the world with my words.

Even if I only come up with bits of nonsense such as this.

(It also takes discipline to carry out resolutions, so cross your fingers.)