Thursday, June 30, 2005

LSQC Reunion Part II

The reunion was the first time that I saw my batchmates since I had left the Philippines. Some faces did not change that much. Alan S., Glen D., and Anthony U. looked very similar to the young faces that I remembered. Probably the one that changed the most for me was Napoleon Raymundo. Nap was definitely taller than I remembered. He towered over everyone.

The picnic was a gathering before Nap arrived. After Nap had unpacked the food from his car, the picnic was a party. It just seemed that everyone loosened up when Nap came. Maybe it was because everyone could finally eat because he brought the plates. But, I bet that the party really started because Nap brought with him the mood and the atmosphere of a party.

Nap came to the picnic with his wife Janet and his three boys. Alan S. (I believe, sorry if I made a mistake) asked Nap where the boys attended school in the Philippines. Nap said, "LSQC din. Lahat sila LSQC." Without missing a beat, Alan said, "Siguro sabi nung administration sa LSQC, 'Raymundo na naman? Raymundo na naman? Paluin silang lahat!'"

Later that afternoon, I saw how children can change men. Nap stayed and played baseball with not only his children but the other kids of the alumni. At one point in the afternoon, about half of the kids from the picnic were participating in the baseball session which Nap held. It's hard to believe that a class clown like Nap could become disciplined, caring and focused father. The power of children over their parents is amazing.

One of the kids playing with Nap's children was the son of Ariel Carlos who came all the way from Seattle, Washington to attend the picnic. Ariel's son was wearing a light blue Lakers t-shirt with the name of the Lakers guard Kobe on the back. It was great to see Ariel because he managed to update me on some of our classmate's experiences at UP Diliman. ["Sa totoo lang inggit ako sa lahat ng pumasok sa UP. Yan talaga ang dream school ko." RVP]

One of the first alumni that I managed to speak to for a length of time was Chris Glindro. Chris and his wife are nurses in Los Angeles. Chris is basically living the immigrant experience of many Pin@ys in the United States. One interesting thing of note is that his wife graduated from LA County Nursing School where my brother also graduated in the mid-1990's. Some of the alumni chided Chris for carrying two video cameras. But really, video cameras can break. Be Prepared! The 20th reunion only happens in one weekend. You might as well cover it completely with two videocameras.

In the picture, you will see Chris Glindro with Jojo Cuejilo. Jojo came from Daly City the capital of Pin@ys in the world. Jojo managed to bring with him a copy of the high school yearbook. Unfortunately, Jojo and Chris had to go back to the airport because Jojo's baggage was misplaced on a different flight than the one that Jojo took. As soon as Jojo showed the yearbook, the alumni gathered around to see the young men that they used to be. A few minutes later, Mike Faustino took the yearbook to his wife to show her that he used to have hair. "Gusto kong ipakita sa kanya ang itsura ko nung may buhok pa ako."

Oh, I almost forgot! There was chaos as the box of T-shirts which was made by Earl Balbautog was unveiled. As I spoke to Jay Ortega about establishing a scholarship fund, everyone was clamoring for their blue t-shirt. When the dust settled, I kicked myself for not ordering a t-shirt. But suddenly, I saw that there were two sets of shirts. The second set was brought by Rhoel Dumlao and is the light blue polo shirts that are shown in the photos. I immediately bought one so that once the cameras started clicking, I could be in "uniform" in all the photos.

By the way, who was responsible for that banner? And who took it home? We're going to need it for next year. Please don't forget to bring it to Northern California, the site of the 2006 reunion!!!

Why is it that every scandal has to have "gate" attached to it? At any rate, apparently there have been problems with President Gloria of the Philippines. Last nightk, I saw that her husband volunteered to leave the country.

I never liked her because she would fulfill more than 6 years of a presidency. But then, God help us with Noli de Castro out there. EDSA III anyone?

And this brings me to my idol: President Ferdinand Marcos aka Dictator Macoy aka Apo. The man stole and cheated his way across 16 years. But damn, he would have never been caught like this. He would have watched the Godfather and would have never used a phone to call a COMELEC chairman. BWahhahahha.

Now, how is EDSA these days?

Monday, June 27, 2005

2005 LSQC Reunion, Class of 1985

The 20th reunion celebration for those in the United States was held on 24JUN05. San Dimas is a city near the San Bernardino county line and about an hour or two away from the city of Los Angeles depending on the traffic. On the day of the reunion, the sun beamed its rays on the park which bore the marks of a grassfire which happened about a week before the reunion. A gentle breeze constantly blew so that the temperature was mild and pleasant.

I approached the reunion with some sort of discomfort. I had not seen many of members of the batch since I left for the US twenty three years ago. What if they don't remember me? What if I don’t' know any of them? What if they ignore me?

Perhaps the great thing about being a Lourdesian is that you are taught the basics of living. Such that after twenty three years, any Lourdesian is welcome into the arms of brotherhood and sisterhood. And so it was on that Saturday. I did not know many of them nor did I remember their names from twenty-three years ago. Some had gone to LSQC after I had left. Some I had as classmates in elementary. But still we were part of one group: LSQC Alumni.

Here are some of my personal recollections:

As my brother and I drove around the park, we were wondering how we could find the location. We joked with each other that in the worst case scenario, we would just go home and eat pad-thai and mint leaf chicken for two days. But thanks to the LSQC sign provided by Jay Ortega '79, we easily identified the gathering. It was a welcoming sight to see that banner which bore the LSQC standard. The seal stood out proudly and I was transported to my youth in the Philippines.

We walked to the picnic benches under the bright sunlight. I squinted and tried to focus on the faces. In the end, I just introduced myself to everyone, "Rhett Pascual, nice to meet you." It's my standard greeting. I don't have to think, but I can focus in on their names and faces. Twenty-three years is a long time. I left teen-agers in LSQC; I met men in San Dimas.

The food was overflowing in its bounty. "Ito ang gusto kong tipong pagkain. Magaling ang luto at marami pa!" There was one hitch. A very small hitch which will probably make it to the annals of all reunions from now till forever. "Walang KANIN!!!" Where's the rice? BWAHAHAHAHAH! What's a Pin@y party without rice? Well, because most of us were Boy Scouts, we just adapted and enjoyed. As Glen Dimanlig would keep saying throughout the afternoon, "Ginawang asado…"

And speaking of Glen, I think it is fair to say that everyone wanted to know if he was still the "siga" that he once was. I believe Alan Sese joked that Ricafort was trying to sneak up on Glen with a metal plate to test if Glen was still the "maton" of the class.

The funny thing was that Glen said "Siga ba ako noon? Hindi ako siga. Ang siga, lalapitan ka at hihingan ka ng pera." Then someone piped in, "Glen, ikaw eh nanghihingi na ng pera nasa kabilang side ka pa ng kalye."

But folks, Glen is proof that maybe we just judged him by his cover. At the reunion, he was the most welcoming and the most gracious and the kindest. Look at the photos. He is hugging everyone and has got the widest smile.

Next up is Anthony Unite who was responsible for organizing the whole affair. Thanks Anthony for your efforts and your organization skills. You even managed to corral all of us into a prayer and into listening to Jay Ortega '79 who spoke on behalf of LSQC-USA. If there is proof that there is a fountain of youth somewhere out there, it lies within Anthony. I swear, the guy has not aged. He looks as trim and spry as a teen-ager.

Of course, we had to discuss who was going to lead the prayer. I think Alan Sese ended up with the honor. Alan is another "siga" that I remembered. But you wouldn't know it now. He is still the class clown however. During Jay's speech about LSQC-USA, Alan was taking pictures and being the class clown. Glen D said to Alan after much disruption: "Kaya ka laging bumibisita kay Paltao eh."

Later on the day, I saw Alan playing with a one year old baby girl. It was touching to see that a tough guy like Alan would grow up to be an adoring father. It must be the fatherly instinct kicking in. I can't describe the joy and happiness in Alan's face as he looked at that child.

The award for the alumni with the most kids belongs to Anthony Castan~eda. He had four children and all of them could dance. I guess they all took after Anthony because before you knew it, there was a Dance-Off. "Ano ito? Dance Fever? Dancing with the Stars? Ay, mali pala!" First up was Anthony's daughter. She popped; she rocked. She got some applause. But then it was her father's turn. And you know, he's a Lourdesian so, Anthony shimmied and slided. Back and forth it went. The daughter versus the father. It was mesmerizing to see the dance off.

At the end of the dance-off, Mike Faustino's daughter took over. Someone placed a hat with a dollar in it. And Mike warned us "Hindi titigil iyan. Nung huling party, naka-30 dollars iyan."

After Alan S. settled down, the reunion became the Mike Faustino show. He made jokes and comments which will not be repeated here because the computer might explode. As Glen D would say, "Ang sama ng mga tingin ninyo duon sa amin [the ones who were getting an early start to dinner]. Naisipan ko tuloy na salihan kayo dito. Hindi naman umiinit yung tenga ko, pero siguro dapat ay sumali na lang ako sa inyo."

This is part one of my recollections. Please feel free to continue or write up your own.

Pax et Bonum!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Liars, Liars, Republicans

Bwahahaha. The media is now pointing out that the arguments by politicians are getting personal. From my perspective, it all started with Newt Gingrich in Bill Clinton's years as president. The Republican liars all started it.

As for the Democrats, can someone please teach them to unify like the Republicans? Look at how the REpublicans react when a Democrat screws up. They act united. The Democrats on the other hand are a disorganized bunch of wimps. That's right wimps. For crying out loud, make Howard Dean just like Newt Gingrich. He can take it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Pride Parade 2005

The Gay Pride parade will be on Sunday. The Dyke March will be on Friday evening. Sadly, I can't photograph either one since my Philippine high school will be having a batch reunion this coming weekend.

The parade makes me wonder of the past because I had an uncle come to San Francisco during the 1970's. My mother said in that Pin@y way "You know, he was not gay until he went to San Francisco. He became gay. The city made him gay."

I have wanted to interview my uncle just to hear about his stories in the wild days of San Francisco. I can just imagine him. A good looking mestizo strutting his stuff in the streets of San Francisco. How many broken hearts did he leave? What streets did he walk in that I walk in now?

Here's to you uncle! Hope you remember your youth well!
UCLA Graduation 2005

I can hardly believe it. Five years ago, the SO's brother graduated from high school and left for UCLA. Five years was like a blink. He graduated this past weekend and I attended the ceremonies for the department of engineering graduation and the PilGrad.

UCLA is one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen. The architecture was supposed to have been inspired by the architecture of East coast schools such as Princeton. There is something about the bricks, the elevated structures, the hills. Some of the scenery looked like an Italian vista.

One of the SO's cousins went with us. While walking around campus, he asked, "Why are there so many good looking women in UCLA?" Ah, yes, the question that inevitably falls off the mouth of every male who visits UCLA. For some reason, there is a preponderance of good-looking women at UCLA.

When I attended the campus some twenty years ago, my favorite past time was to count how many good looking women were walking around campus. We usually got to campus sometime in the afternoon. And the count would begin at the parking structures. By the end of the day, I would have counted more than 100 beautiful women.

Perhaps, this happens because people in LA just are more interested in looks than anything else. Perhaps in Berkeley, the weather is so cold that women wear sweats and sweaters and this results in them not trying as hard to look good. Perhaps, it will remain a mystery forever.

As I mention this to he So's brother, he asked, "What are you saying about my sister?" Without losing a step, I said "I married the most beautiful woman in Berkeley." Hey, I'm marrying her after all. Hahahhaha.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Life in the Firm

It's been about a month since I left the photofinishing workplace. May 13. Who would have thought that so much could change?

I remember my last two weeks at the firm. I no longer cared so the stress level was definitely low. The work was not as overwhelming because I had given notice already. But, there was a distinct sadness to everything. I felt that I was leaving before everything had been completed. Like leaving a project in the middle of the timeline.

But I felt that the future was not good. All the people who made a difference were leaving. The people who could keep the company going were leaving. It was not looking bright with respect to the future of the company. Orders were being missed. Prints were being screwed up. Rolls and rolls of photo paper were being tossed out.

Now, life is great. I am training. I have already gone to a workshop on how to problem-solve. I work with people who are well supported. They might have attitudes with respect to how work is like, but I prefer to try and see that there are actual methods to improve things. No place is perfect, but the law firm is looking mighty good.

Life is an 8.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

You too can be a Jedi

Well, not in the classical Star Wars sense, but yes, in the ways of being an investigator or an efficient problem solving machine, you can be trained young Problem-Solver.

Kepner-Tregoe hosted a workshop I attended as part of my training for the law firm. Now you would think that going to a law firm would teach you everything you know about being a lawyer, but I am NOT a lawyer. So, I have to be trained just like young Buck Problem-Solver.

One the facilitator is an exceptional trainer. Years of experience in the auto industry. Tons of knowledge about problem-solving. Honest and competent. He presented the material well and allowed it to sink in our minds. He then framed them in terms that we could understand.

The workshops basically created a systematic way to problem-solving. Whereas the techniques I had seen did not have any double-checks, the workshop showed how to do comparisons, incorporate timelines, question changes and differences and arrive at conclusive root cause analysis. I was pretty good already. I think I can be more effective now in investigating and executing cause analysis.

The members of the group were diverse. Two were from an investment company, another from a telecom company, an engineer from a cheese factory, a director from a superconductor plant, a facilitator for a petroleumm company and a tech service from a computer software company. Oh, the last one was a HR manager from one of the city governments in Canada.

It was interesting to note that yours truly participated in a group which identified the correct cause repeatedly. We were 3 for three. The interesting patterns I saw was that you had to leave your favorite pet hypothesis once the data did not fit. If you did not do it, you were cooked. The engineer's group on the other hand seemed to eager to throw things out. Even though things did not fit into the patterns, they were forced.

I am interested in the dynamics of the group. Clearly, I needed to know information, and a lot of it. However, I had problems when I tried to explain to the others my idea. The resolution of the threads were not as distinct in their mind as in mine. I had to struggle to show them in terms of words.

Three days of training and that was awesome. I believe I did the right choice in leaving the photofinishing place and joining the lawfirm.
Maligayang Kaarawan Pilipinas!

Happy Independence Day to all the PIn@ys out there!

Happy Birthday to my car! I bought her/im last year on June 12.

Happy Days!!!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Three Bishosp Blog

Three Pin@y bishops have joined the cyberworld with their blogs:

Mgr Jose R. Manguiran, Bishop of Dipolong

Mgr Oscar V. Cruz, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan

Mgr Leonardo Medroso, Bishop of Borongan

They comprise the Pin@y Blog of the Day for June 5 in the year of the Pin@y 2005.

I was speaking to a friend today. I had made comments about how those people in the Catholic Church really took sacrifice and death and sacrifice and unhappiness very seriously. I also mentioned how it almost seems like there is a pointed reference to a celebration of the pain and suffering.

My friend then was truly offended and said "How can you keep referring to the Church as "Those people?" I did not broach the subject because I try not to introduce conflicts. I have not learned how to completely deal with conflicts. In my life, I have had to deal with my anger and in my experience most people are unable to separate their personal life (anger) from what the conflict is. I don't have the time to educate people on how to deal with their repressed selves.

However, I was disturbed about how my friend acted. If one can not be honest in a friendship, and one can not discuss in a rational manner certain facets of life such as theology, then one is just shutting out rational discussion. I suppose this is why people are turned off by "politically correct speech." In most cases, people are not open to the discussion. They just prefer to shut down the conversation.

I suppose that I expect more from people and it disturbs me when they just shut down in the face of honest discussion. It's not as if I was wearing the white hood of the KKK. Besides, the KKK I know wear straw hats and carry bolos. And for those who don't know Filipino history, KKK in the Philippines stands for Kataas-Taasang at Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan. KKK is the revolutionary group which rose against the Spaniards in the Philippines.

At any rate, enjoy the blogs of the bishops.