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I’m bad at introductions, so no introduction this time.

1) The Pelicans’ Anthony Davis is having a hell of a season. His statistics are monstrous (20 points on 52% shooting, 10 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game), and he will be a force to reckon with in the coming years as he continues to learn how to use his unfair wingspan and perimeter prowess.

Image courtesy of ballislife.com

Image courtesy of ballislife.com

FUN FACT: Davis was a point guard in high school. Here is a timeline of his growth spurt:

End of freshman year: 6’0″
Start of sophomore year: 6’1″
End of sophomore year: 6’4″
Start of junior year: 6’7″
End of junior year: 6’8″

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I decided to separate the recap of my personal life from my professional life. I try my best to maintain the line drawn in the sand between the two. As much as possible, one must be as exclusive to the other as possible. I think everyone shares this sentiment. The only problem is that as an OPAPP employee, we are obliged to comply with instructions to travel and work and not get paid on weekends. Hence the first recap blowing into slightly large proportions; work ate up a LOT of my time.

 

I’m very fortunate to be in love with and be loved by my girlfriend, Catherine. All she wants are the simple things; time, effort and joy. The only things I’ve gifted her so far are a bunch of flowers from Baguio and a water container (because I insist that she increases her fluid intake). In return, she has put up with my lazy, dense, low-maintenance ass for almost 4 years.

She used to loathe my traveling — particularly the 6-provinces-in-3-days thing. Not only because my time with her shrunk, but because she could see how exhausted I got during the first few trips. But I reassured her that she had nothing to worry about. I suggested she do what I do: look at the good side. I’m being paid to travel, that’s a good thing. I bring her delicacies and souvenirs found in the places I’m sent to. I get to experience the different cultures in the country. These are things you can’t just buy. In time, her disdain for my job evaporated, and she even pushed me to stay for another year. It’s not like I’m womanizing with the locals or my companions anyway. I’ve worked long and hard to earn her trust, I’m not about to let it go to waste.

 

Despite the travel allowances we get, I have been unable to set savings aside. I’ve yet to learn how to budget things, and I am too easily swallowed by my urges to eat. I tend to stay late in the office; most of the time I’m not even working. Then I end up having to take the cab home from Commonwealth because of the transportation conditions in our area. To compensate, I’ve decided to bike to work.

I borrowed my uncle’s 20 year old mountain bike. They were pretty delighted when I told them what I planned to do with the bike. It’s still in tip-top condition; I’ve had bikes bought more recently that are already near retirement (reason why my grandfather despises machinery made in the Philippines). And in fairness, it sports Shimano brakes and gear cranks. I bought a helmet, a saddle bag for tools and a small pack of masks to hold off pollution. I’ve yet to find reflector tapes, but they’re a necessity during the ride home at night.

I don’t know how much I’ve saved so far, but bike commuting has been a breath of fresh air. I used to take 2 hours via public transportation. It involves a lot of waiting, sweating in a standing position, and 55 pesos. Going home, it can extend up to 3 hours; because I’m too patient, waiting to get into a more comfortable bus. It’s a stagnant wreck. With the bike, it takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and 15, depending on the volume of vehicles and my pedaling. Biking also solved my tardiness issues. I have to be in the office early so I don’t expose anyone to the image of me in a towel (I bathe in the office). It’s tiring, of course. But I get exhausted just the same with the 2 hours and 55 pesos I spend on public transportation. And I get to sweat.

We have a distant relative who my aunt hires every week to do the more heavier cleaning jobs. He’s a deaf mute. He bikes from their house in Novaliches to ours (HIS BIKE HAS DISC BRAKES). You’d be surprised at how much he engages in conversations (I was going to say ‘how talkative he is’ but he doesn’t talk, because he’s…you know, mute). One of his consistent stories is how swiftly he just glides through traffic. Now I know the feeling.

Cyclist-189

So that’s all that has happened so far in the non-employee life of Duane Fernando. I’ve been indulged too much into my job (not that I have a choice) that I’ve lost time with my personal life. My friends call from time to time for get-togethers, only to find out I’m almost at the northernmost tip of Luzon. All they can do is shake their heads. Grandpa’s still the same. He still goes on guilt trips every now and then, but he’s always delightful. He tends to turn the house into a nest of sitcom situations.

I hope I get to spend more time with them this 2014. But I also love traveling. It has come to a point where I look forward to traveling. So it’s a toss-up. I guess I’ll just slide along the lubricated road of life as it happens; I’ve never been one who plans. I’m like the Joker, in a sense.

plans2

With the year 2013 ending, it’s always fun to recall all that has happened. All the changes one has gone through, new stuff, recurring stuff, good and bad moments, people you met, length of hair, realizations etc. Perhaps one’s New Year’s Resolution can be formulated from reflection. So, what has happened in my 2013?

(Okay, too much has happened in the 2013 of Duane Fernando, so this post will be strictly for my salary giving life.)

payday

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HOW I BECAME A SERIOUS CHRISTIAN
by
Leonardo V. Magdamo

Credits to Dennis Magdamo

Credits to Dennis Magdamo

“Who will believe our report? To whom shall the arm of the Lord be revealed?” wailed Isaiah. I have a report about two men. Will it be believed?

Pardon the ego trip for a while, for my report begins with me. It was a day after my fifteenth (15th) birthday that early in the morning, Don Bell of KZRH in Manila, announced: “There is war in the Pacific. Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.” A pall of gloom descended upon the town. Then came reports of troop landings in Lingayen, Hongkong and Indo-China. We had to get out of town. We knew how the Japanese soldier behaved in China. Calling him a barbarian was putting it mildly.

Bataan fell, then Corregidor and finally they landed in our town. We were already living in the hills. We couldn’t afford to be seen by them. We had to grow our own food and dodge their patrols. The guerrilla movement sprang up like spontaneous combustion. That angered the Japs all the more. They became more cruel and beastly. Then I found myself “conscripted” by the guerrillas. I did not mind. Many officers were family friends. On the night after I left, a Japanese patrol captured my family and two American missionary families. They beat up my father with rifle butts for hiding the Americans and brought all families down to their garrison. (My family slipped out of the garrison during one of the air raids).

The guerrilla warfare was not that theatrical, really. Nationalistic bravado was unknown. We just wanted the Japs out. They were no good. When the Japanese regiment surrendered after the war, the American MPs surrounded the prisoner-of-war camp not to keep the Japs in but to keep the guerrillas and smoldering civilians out.

Peace time at last! Back to normal. College, marriage, the rat race. Twenty four years later, the company I worked for formed an engineering team that would travel to Japan to negotiate for equipment for a paper mill to be constructed in Mindanao. I was a member. The technology was American. So I had an American engineer counterpart. Our plane landed in Tokyo’s Haneda airport at close to midnight. I could see the man placing chocks under the plane’s landing gear. He was wearing a Japanese army uniform. My blood started to boil again. Here I was, 24 years after the war, still willing to tear a Japanese apart. How could I forget him when scars were still on my father’s back.

For more than two weeks, we held marathon technical meetings. Then one Sunday, three of us; two American counterparts and me, decided to go to church. The hotel told us there was a church for expatriates near the Shibuya railroad station. We went there; arriving late. We had to take the front seats. The service was already half through, and we arrived just in tine for the sermon. The American pastor said, “Our guest speaker will introduce himself”. A small Japanese gentleman, dark for a Japanese, rifle erect, strode to the pulpit. “My name is Mitsuo Fuchida, (followed by a bow). I was the commander of the Pearl Harbor attack.”

WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!

The three of us practically shot our of our seats. My American companions were Pacific war veterans. “I am a samurai with 40,000 flying hours to my credit,” continued Fuchida. Charlie on my right groaned. He was a Hellcat fighter pilot with 1,200 flying hours to his credit. “You must be wondering how I am behind this pulpit. I will tell you how.” Then Fuchida proceeded to testify. What follows is a paraphrase.

After attending a war crimes hearing where he was a witness, Fuchida proceeded to the Shibuya railroad to catch a train for home. As he entered the station, an American offered him a tract, which he hurriedly stuck into his pocket just to be polite and walked on. He was in a hurry. Halfway through the trip, when he was somewhat rested, he decided to read the tract. It was entitled “I Was A Prisoner Of The Japanese.”

From the pulpit he displayed the tract, now laminated in plastic, almost three feet long, written on both sides, and folded like an accordion. It told of the Doolittle raid and its aftermath. Col. Doolittle was tasked to lead a squadron of medium bombers to bomb Japan — to avenge the Pearl Harbor attack. The mission was not quite successful even if it alarmed the Japanese. All planes were lost. Among the survivors was a bombardier by the name of d’Shazer. He was captured and imprisoned. Physical torture and indignities heaped upon him was the daily standard fare in prison.

The once-upon-a-time happy-go-lucky d’Shazer, now battered and daunted, did the next best sensible thing to do. He went to God. He asked for God’s forgiveness and baptized himself with rain water dripping from the roof of his prison. Since he was convinced that God forgave him, he thought it but fair that he forgave his jailers too. He started befriending his jailers to their bewilderment. Their blows became less and less painful. By the time the two atom bombs were dropped, he was already on friendly terms with his jailers. He was forthwith sent home and forthwith basked in freedom. Then — surprise! — he enrolled in Bible College. After four years, he went back to Japan as a Christian missionary. It is this d’Shazer who was distributing tracts near the Shibuya station and who gave Fuchida one.

Who is this d’Shazer, Fuchida wondered. What was he doing in Japan? He was the victor, back to his old comforts. Why is he back here peddling this thing called “Love of God”? What kind of God is He who d’Shazer is so crazy about? The two finally met and naturally d’Shazer evangelized Fuchida.

In this process, Fuchida found meaning in why he did not sink with the aircraft carrier Akagi during the Battle of Midway. He found meaning in why in the aftermath of the Hiroshima holocaust, all his junior officers died, but not he. He found meaning in why he was not indicted as a war criminal. He realized he was being groomed for a job by a God he did not know.

The most moving part of Fuchida’s sermon that Sunday morning was an experience he had while idly flipping the pages of his Bible. His flipping stopped at the page where verse 34 of the 23rd chapter of Luke can be found. What leapt out of the page was: “Father, forgive Fuchida-san for he knows not what he is doing.”

“Immediately the memory of Pearl Harbor came roaring at me while THAT MAN hanging on the cross and absorbing all that sinning, was pleading with His Father, the author of the universe, to forgive me, Fuchida-san, who was at that time operating the world’s fiercest killing machine.”

I returned to the Philippines virtually in a daze. What is it that could turn Fuchida around? He was no ordinary Japanese. He was a samurai, skilled in the art of war and trained to kill. And d’Shazer. He hardly made sense. But then, did he have to? Look at the fruit of his ministry. And who am I to doubt that this Jesus who these two are working for means business?

Word around the unit is that Systems Development will be separated from the IT Department. Whether that’s only by physical location or by organizational structure as well isn’t clear. Here’s how it happened:

With the departure of the IT Head and the Junior Programmer (two different individuals; reasons irrelevant of one another), things in the IT Department were a bit shook up. Our Senior Programmer was appointed O.I.C. and I, a rookie, was made to take the place of the Junior Programmer.

My new boss was aware that my programming skills were rusty, at best. He assigned me to take care of a Monthly Monitoring System, as well as use it to familiarize myself with the data environment. He eventually had to take it back from me when the clients voiced out their sentiments about the urgency of the system’s development. So while waiting for the atmosphere to calm down, my boss allowed me to take on minor jobs such as data encoding, troubleshooting and some database administration. These are tasks which are looked upon by others as menial, but are seen by yours truly as oddly rewarding.

A couple of days ago, however, a new department within the office arose. Led by a feisty director known for being challenging of her people, outputs flowed quickly from her subordinates. As part of her grand scheme, she arranged for a meeting with our boss – who happens to be a Consultant. She wanted his services for another vast monitoring system. Their conversation led to a point where my boss was forced to let go of some of his other projects, all of which are from different departments within the office, to enable (force?) him to focus on that monitoring and evaluation system.

Unable to refuse, he came back to the IT Department with a defeated visage. It was decided: he was going to have to transfer to another room wherein he would focus on coding. And he was going to bring the two of us with him. It disheartens me to know that I’ll be leaving the troubleshooting behind. I could never understand why I enjoyed fixing stuff for people, but it’s the biggest loss I see. Me and my fellow comrade have ‘programmer’ written all over our job description, but neither of us are sharp with the whole thing. He’s taking interest in PhP and Visual Basic, the latter of which I’m familiar with in some way. The difference between the two of us is that I’m mostly disinterested in programming, and I feel like the whole task is being forced upon me.

I remember when customizing your Friendster page with CSS was the hip thing to do. I never dipped a finger in that. It was, for the most part, unnecessary. Maybe I took up the wrong course, or just the wrong major. I enjoy the tinkering our network administrators do.

But I’ll stay afloat. Like I’ve been saying to myself as motivation, these are opportunities to learn. Perhaps at some point in the future, I’ll look back at this with an appreciating perspective. In the meantime, I’ll just have to earn my pay.

Maybe that shield tattoo will help ease all this discomfort.