The semester had ended a week ago for me. I’m currently on vacation, but so is my brain. I can’t think of anything to put here, so I’ll just post a short story I wrote more than a year ago. I wrote this in an attempt to rid my mind of the phrase that kept on repeating itself at the time, “Papa is dead”. It was because an uncle of mine passed away. I used to call him ‘Papa’ and he never called me anything but ‘Baby’ ever since I can remember– and he always treated me so.
The story I wrote here is not his, mine or that of anyone I know. It’s just something I wove around the phrase which is the title. I hope you enjoy.
Papa Is Dead
Kev goes to bed before ten without being told. Daddy’s voice does not get louder at night. I go outside all by myself. The house is in perfect order. Papa is dead, and our home does not seem to exist anymore.
Papa is dead. I wonder why it seems difficult for my family to grasp that fact. Kev, without being told, brushes his teeth and takes a bath regularly. Daddy, all alone, would raise his glass and smile at the air when he drinks his whiskey. It seems I am the only one who has broken out of Papa’s routines. I go outside all by myself when night has fallen and everybody else is asleep. Papa used to call me back. Nobody calls me back now.
How many months has it been, anyway? Six? No, how foolish of me! It has been ten months. I remember the night Daddy walked into the house while Kev and I watched TV. He walked his usual walk into the house, but he stopped and paused behind the couch where my brother and I sat. Daddy hugged us both and whispered, “Papa is dead”. None of us cried back then. Kev and I sat still, staring blankly at the TV screen. Both of us waited to believe Daddy’s words, I think we’re still waiting until now. If you ask me, I doubt Daddy believes himself either. Nobody in my family believes Papa is dead. After that, Daddy kissed our cheeks and left for his room, their room, Daddy and Papa’s room. We could not believe it either. Daddy rarely hugs and kisses us. Then Daddy joined us again in front of the TV, he sat between Kev and me. I noticed he did not change out of his office clothes. Then I saw mist gather on Daddy’s glasses. Maybe I was not meant to see that mist because he took off his glasses and pressed his wrists against his eyes. Daddy cried, I knew it, he cried because Papa is dead.
I am Papa’s only child. I was the only one allowed in his funeral. Daddy and Kev did not go. Instead, Daddy took Kev to the amusement park. My mother was there. I never liked her. She never liked me either, but Papa’s family likes her and I have no idea why. Daddy does not do drugs. Daddy does not go out with other people. Daddy does not beat me or Kev. My mother does all that, that’s why I do not like her. I knew the tears she shed were fake. There was no warmth in her embrace. Just because she was a girl and ‘straight’, Papa’s family likes her.
I saw Papa’s coffin being lowered into the ground. Perhaps, it is the reason why I am the only one in our family who accepted Papa’s death. Or have I? Maybe I go outside every night to see if someone calls me, to try if I could hear Papa call me back. I know Kev does what he has because he thinks he can hear Papa. I know Daddy smiles and tips his glass because he thinks he can see Papa. Then why can’t I sense him? Why can’t I hear Papa call me back? Why wasn’t he blocking the door when I sneaked outside tonight? It was only me who was allowed to go to his funeral. It was only me who his siblings allowed to see him at the hospital. Then why is it only me who doesn’t sense him now? Is it because I saw the mist on Daddy’s glasses? Is it because I listened to them in bed at night? What have I done? I feel abandoned.
Do I need to hear Papa’s voice calling me back in order to return? Kev doesn’t need reminders to do what he has because Papa always reminded him. Daddy doesn’t need someone else to drink with because Papa was always with him. Papa always called me back. Maybe I am the one who can’t accept his death, after all. I’m so stupid. Do I need him to call me back? No, I guess not, but I can already hear him. I must be going back now.
As it is, I can’t stay put. There’s a storm coming our way. The entire region has suspended classes for today and the morrow. We’ve been steeling up for the rain, but it’s just cloudy here. Bless me, this is the output of my apprehension.
Three sleepless nights
And we’re still counting.
When we sleep, we sleep
With one eye open.
Wear out the TV.
Wear out the web.
Don’t miss a forecast.
Don’t miss a thread.
What happened there?
What happens here?
We need to know,
We must prepare.
The worst has come
A year ago.
The worse will come
In an hour or so.
The sun shines bright–
Oh wait, it’s cloudy.
Now here it comes,
Stay calm and steady.
A tropic winter,
A sunny cold,
A lightless morn,
A fear, untold,
Of raging winds
And ruthless rain,
Of missing friends
And freezing pain.
We prepare and prepare,
But we’re never ready.
So much to declare,
But it’s always deadly.
We pray so much,
But does Heaven hear?
Instead they send us
More storms each year.
Yes, we survive,
But for how long?
How long must we
Hear the tempests’ song?
We know, we get it,
It’s nature’s will.
We can never fight it,
We can just be still.
So year after year,
and day after day,
We lie in anticipation
For what the skies have to say.
And with each storm
We dare to face
The threat of having
Our smiles erased.
Yet when the sun shines,
It shines so brightly
On our sun-kissed lands,
With a promise so lovely.
A promise of smiles
Through ravaging storms,
In this one thousand isles
Of many returns.
My family hails from the eastern part of the island of Samar. Our region serves as the doorstep to the storms that ravage the Philippines. We’re used to it. We are children of the Pacific, anyway. We live on her blessings, we swim and sail on her waters, it is fair we put up with her tempests. Sometimes, though, we find it unjust. We had Haiyan the year before, and now we’re nursing Hagupit. It has been years now since I last set foot in our hometown, and it pains me to see familiar streets–familiar places from my blissful childhood–being pummeled by the storm while I sit here all safe and cozy. Hagupit is bound for the capital, the place where I am now, and I’m just basking in the calm before the storm.
The Calm before the Storm
Standing in the middle,
I pierce the skies with up-cast eyes.
I doubt the sun. I dare the clouds.
I damn this daunting entourage.
The fools around me run and scream,
They say the whale is up the stream.
The wise warn me with ringing cries,
“Move!” they shout. “Time freely flies.”
I’m deaf to them, I dare not budge
No matter how they push and pull,
No matter how they plead and pry
In this calm before the storm.
The warlike wind howls from the west,
The darkness looms all over.
Thunder claps its throbbing hands,
All, but me, has run for cover.
Bolts of lightning race to reach me,
Rain roars and stings my skin,
And still I stand right here, resigned
To fixed fate after I found
Solace in this sinister song
Sung by the calm before the storm.
The Philippines is composed of more than a thousand islands, and the language and dialect differs from one place to another, resulting to approximately 150 languages within the country. However, the official languages of the Philippines are English and Filipino–sometimes referred to as Tagalog–and the average Filipino is fluent in both languages. People like me who come from regions outside of the Tagalog-speaking ones–namely Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog–are likely to possess a third language aside from English and Filipino as their mother tongue. I have been speaking three languages since childhood, but it was only recently that I noticed the differences when I use these languages.
I first noticed it when I started to create fiction and poetry in college. To start off, the writing activity throughout my life was like this: during elementary school, from when I was five to ten years old, I wrote poems in both English and Filipino, but I wrote more in English; in high school, from when I was eleven to thirteen years old, I wrote short stories in English; and from the age of fourteen, I have been writing prose and poetry in both English and Filipino upon entering college. When I entered college though, my creative writing output has been reduced to pay attention to academics. I used to create at least one output per month before college, but I can only write once every three months at most ever since. Whenever I do, there is a strict segregation–short stories in Filipino and poems in English. My latest short story in English was written more than one and a half years ago, and my latest poem in Filipino dates back to my elementary school days (if a very short rhyme I created this September is not counted). No matter how I try to write a short story in English, I would just end up telling myself that it would be easier to do in Filipino, and it goes vice versa with my attempts of writing poems in Filipino. Unfortunately, I do not write in my first language, Waray, since I haven’t read any Waray literature ever, and this makes me feel like an ingrate.
The troubles I encounter expressing myself in English is almost the same as my troubles in expressing myself in straight Filipino (meaning without using English words that actually have Filipino equivalent). Expressing myself in Waray, though, is the most difficult. I understand the difficulty in my usage of Waray is because I do not get to speak it as much after living away from the Waray-speaking region for most of my life. The only people whom I get to converse in Waray with are my parents and relatives from the province. When I speak Waray, though, I notice that I tend to reflect the snarky character that both my parents possess. When I speak in Tagalog or Filipino, I find myself brusque, sarcastic, and always spitting out curses like a pirate. I know this is because I learned Tagalog from playing in the gutter. Having learned English from literature, I think I am most refined in using English. People say I sound dreamy, poetic, borderline romantic and too formal when I communicate in English, whereas I’m more aggressive in Filipino. Perhaps I can attribute this to the people who taught me English and Filipino. My English might be feminine because my mother was the one who guided me in learning proper English. In turn, my Tagalog/Filipino is masculine because my father is the one whom I speak the language with most of the time.
In studying linguistics, I learned that people who speak more than one language tend to switch personalities as they switch between languages. I always thought of this as a mere theory, but I exist as conscious proof to that. There sure are many sides to a person, but it’s funny how each side may speak a different language.
The first semester of my fourth year in college draws to a close. The hands of our professors are now vigorously working on the curtain ropes, and us students must steel ourselves for the last encore–for the bow that could make us or break us. After substituting water with coffee and resisting the embrace of sleep, this is the only thing left to say… it won’t be long from now.
There were many points in my life wherein whenever I close my eyes to sleep, I do so with a wish to never wake up–when I spent night after sleepless night cursing every morning yet to come. Yet, here I stand. I made this poem to keep myself going. I share it here hoping it does the same to you.
This poem is for all those struggling with the pressures of things to accomplish. For those who spent sleepless nights in an excruciating attempt to secure a future. For those who chose to suppress themselves today in the hopes of a bright tomorrow.
It Won’t Be Long From Now
Until another day
Dawns upon my way,
It won’t be long from now.
Until the pouring rain
Drops its very last,
It won’t be long from now.
Until I wake unhappy
Yet again from my sweet sleep;
Until I’m pulled so forcibly
From dreams I dared dream deep;
Until I take with grudging face
My place in life’s repulsive cycle;
Until I waste in all my haste
The hope that in me flickered—
Some kind of hope impossible,
Infantile and meagre—
Until then, until then, I’ll close my eyes
In hopes it goes away,
That shadow, that cloud, those blackened skies
In my world of opposites
Where dark enlightens and daylight blinds
And rains are tears of joy.
Until I’m free,
Until I’m me,
Until unsettling peace is over,
Until we’ll be
The things we see,
Until the greyscale colours—
Until my dreams are reality—
It won’t be long from now.
As one courted by the corporate world and the art of writing, I can totally relate to this.
Being an independent writer is very similar to being an entrepreneur. No one is there to help you succeed. You only have yourself and your skillset to make it in this cruel world. Cristian has been working on his novel for over 2 years without knowing if it will be a success or not. His dedication and unwillingness to give up is what will ultimately bring him success. Soldiering on and doing what you believe is the single most powerful ingredient in succeeding in what you do. Writing for the love of writing is akin to entrepreneurs who struggle to set up a business for years without getting paid because they love to build businesses and help bring value to people. Becoming a self-made business man can share a similar path to becoming a self-published novelist. The road isn’t an easy road to travel, but the getting to the destination…
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Love has many sacrifices. Even if you love what you do, there are times when you cannot choose the work you have to accomplish. Setting the demands and deadlines for projects is not totally up for you to decide, and there are times that the work you have to do does not interest you at all. Dealing with unwanted work or projects leads to different attitudes. I have observed two commonly-practiced attitudes in dealing with unwanted work.
The first of those attitudes is the “play first, work later” attitude. People who have this attitude usually blatantly deny the existence of the work until the deadline is close–procrastination, in other words. I’m guilty of this attitude myself. Aside from lack of enthusiasm for the work to be done, the main reason for this attitude is the recognition of other priorities and having lots of other things to do–no matter how big or small those ‘other things’ are. For me, doing the things I want to do before paying attention to what has to be done gives me a clear mind to focus more on the work when it’s time to do it. Sometimes, I also acquire enough motivation and inspiration to do the task efficiently during the time that I put off doing it. When the inspiration doesn’t come, though, and the deadline take its place, I do the task in a rush just for the sake of doing it. In my rush, I fail to pay attention to detail and the polishing of the work. Though I do things I enjoy doing before paying attention to the unwanted work, I fail to enjoy it fully because there’s this tiny voice in the back of my mind screaming that I have something else to do. That tiny voice leads to confusion on whether I should keep doing the things I want to do or start doing the work I choose to neglect. The will to do the work also diminishes over time, and there are instances wherein I just abandon the work completely when I see the deadline dawning due to lack of will.
Another attitude that seldom–very seldom–possesses me in dealing with work I dislike is the “work first, play later” attitude. Naturally, this kind of attitude is the more efficient of the two. It’s a forced and hostile acknowledgement of the unwanted work, and manifests in the ‘get it done and over with’ statements. First of all, immediate attention is given to the work even if you hate it, allowing you more time to relax until the deadline tolls. It highly utilizes the time given to finish the work, and thus reduces pressure on the one who has to do it. If finished early, the people who abide to this are guaranteed a clear and peaceful mind. Doing the task as soon as possible also gives the doer a lot of time to learn to appreciate and eventually like the task, hence converting it from being ‘unwanted’ to ‘enjoyed’. However, there lingers in the mind the anticipation for the ‘play’ that comes later, thus the doer may rush the task to–well–get it over and done with as soon as possible. This leads to less focus on the work and, in turn, a low-quality output.
To say that one of these attitudes is better than the other is in bad taste, though. In the end, it all depends on the person doing it. There are even times when a person may switch between these attitudes when dealing with work they don’t initially like, and that’s okay. We must respect the diversity of one another. However, I’m certain that we can all agree on the paramount key to excellency which is dedication. Be wise in choosing the path you want to take. Though cliché, I still wish to remind you to follow your heart. Passion comes first before anything else, especially earning money. Passion leads to enjoyment, enjoyment leads to dedication, dedication leads to competence, and competence leads to success. Always remember that the most accurate measure of success is fulfillment and finding happiness in fulfilling even the smallest duties in life.
Some time ago, a friend of mine convinced me to watch a Korean TV programme entitled ‘Abnormal Summit’. Eleven ‘abnormal’ representatives from different countries, excluding that of Korea, discuss agendas that vary per episode to decide on the ‘abnormality’ of the agenda presented. On the fourth episode of the programme, the topic about which fashion is better was brought up between the representatives of France and Italy. The Italian representative, Alberto Mondi, argued that Italy has better wine and fashion, and that French companies are buying out Italian brands. However, Alberto admitted to one strength that the French has over the Italians, and that is marketing. This got me curious, is French marketing really that good? If so, what makes them good?
To assess the efficiency of French marketing, let us first of all look into the existing rules important to marketing and advertising in France. One of those rules is on the language. French must be used for all advertisements. Other languages can only be used with accompanying French translations. This is the most important and established rule in French advertising. The establishment of one and only one language for advertisement within a country is very important in reaching out to the target market and creating brand awareness. The existence of this rule also ensures that everyone understands and are made aware of the brand. Another rule–not exclusive to France–that affects French marketing is cultural and political sensitivity. France is notorious for rather extreme demonstrations which reflects the sensitivity of French people to sociopolitical issues. As in other countries, advertisements deemed offensive may be taken down in France. Another important thing to note as rule of thumb in French marketing is that word-of-mouth is more revered by French consumers, and this is the most uncontrollable aspect of marketing in France.
Having presented rules to remember in French marketing, it is time to examine the characteristics of French marketing itself. According to Simon Silvester, the French are natural marketers even before the term ‘marketing’ was coined. To the French, marketing is a conceptual art, and like how they treat any form of art, French people put great value in its authenticity. Their brands, such as Champagne and Roquefort, do not seem like brands at all. Unlike that of American brands that use catchy–and even funny–names for their brands, the French stick to how the product has been called upon its creation. This gives French products history and origin to attest to its authenticity, which, in turn, leads to the people treating these brands as premium. Another thing we might notice about famous French products is that most of them are feminine. This is because French marketers acknowledge the fact that 80% of brand consumers are women and that the ones who love shopping are the gatherers–not the hunters. As a part of the female population, I would not deny my craving for a bottle of Dior, nor would my mother hold back in spending thousands for a Louis Vuitton. The secret to the female rave on French brands is how French marketers are so much in touch with their feminine side. Despite all these, French marketers take lots of risk. They are not hindered by populism and the fear of their brands being seen as elitist. This results to extravagant brand values and highly committed customers which now characterize many French brands. Another thing French marketers are not afraid of is irrationality. French marketers knew that their consumers dream, and thus marketed these dreams. They chose to focus on the wants instead of the needs of their customers, and listened to the wishes like “I want to look younger” from their customers instead of telling them “you need to look younger”. Nationalism also plays a major role in French Marketing–they knew being French alone is already marketable. As how Simon Silvester put it, “France is the biggest showroom in the world”. France herself is already known for her rich culture and history, and the luxury goods she provides the world. Also, the French protect their intellectual property well. You cannot call it Champagne if it’s not from Champagne, you cannot call it Roquefort if it’s not from Roquefort. The police will reprimand you if the bag you own imitations of French brands.
Going back to the ‘Abnormal Summit’, Alberto Mondi was right in saying that the French are good in marketing. However, it is not only marketing that the French are good at. Upon examining French marketing, it is revealed that France is good in many other fields which they utilized to succeed in marketing. To be honest, I was surprised at how marketing styles actually differ among countries. Indeed, there is much to learn from examining cultures that are foreign to ours. I believe that the Philippines has great potential in marketing–that I will repeatedly say. I wish Filipino marketers would learn from the ways, not just of French marketers, but also of marketers from other cultures. However, I am not urging Filipino marketers to copy foreign styles, on the contrary, I wish to see the day that Filipino marketing has its own mark and identity that the whole world recognizes.
There used to be a tailor living in our neighborhood called Mang Jaime. Mang Jaime repaired my bags, shoes, and did some school projects for me ever since I was in elementary until my first year in high school. My father easily befriended him with their shared interest in oldies music and ‘dad’ humor. There are many seamstresses and tailors in our vicinity, but my father chose to do business with Mang Jaime’s establishment simply because of the name of his tailoring shop which was inspired by one of my father’s favorite musicians. The name of Mang Jaime’s tailoring shop is ‘James Tailor’.
You see, the economy of the Philippines is yet developing. From the smallest of businesses to the biggest of corporations, competition is very intense in the Philippine market. Intelligent marketing is needed for the public to notice them, and the Filipino humor is an excellent target for that. Here are some of the funniest names of Filipino businesses that I have stumbled upon in the Internet. Credits to the owners of the photos, and applause to the owners of the businesses.
Food– Filipinos love food as much as we love a good laugh. Fill us with mirth as you fill our stomachs.
Services– In the Philippines, conversations usually start with a joke and a laugh, even while cutting your hair, repairing your shoes or fixing up the departed.
The fact that these funny business names went around the Internet proves that nomenclature is an excellent marketing strategy. Aside from inviting people into their establishments, the names of these businesses are pleasantly imprinted in the memories of people who have encountered them. This is also proof that Filipinos have immense potential in business and marketing. The easy wit, ready smiles and ringing laughter is what I like most about the Filipino people. We only have to learn how to utilize it properly for the progress of our nation.
As an Organizational Communication student, I am well aware that not many people are familiar with my major. To put it simply, the focus of Organizational Communication is on the internal and external communications of organizations. The subjects we take include but are not limited to technical writing, organizational processes and structures, public relations, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, group discussion and conference leadership, and several units of foreign language. Unlike most majors, though, the Philippines holds no board examination for Organizational Communication. However, one of my professors–an OrCom graduate herself–presented us with an examination that could take the place of OrCom board examination, the Foreign Service Officer (FSO) Examination offered by our country’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
The Eligibility Requirements of the FSO Examination are the following:
1. Application Forms should be printed in 8.5” x 13” bond paper.
2. The applicant should be a natural-born Filipino citizen and must present a copy of his or her valid passport and visa or a valid contract of employment in the host country (if applicable).
3. The applicant should not be more than thirty-five (35) years of age on the day of the Qualifying Test (10 August 2014).
The applicant should have at least a four (4) year bachelor’s degree. (Relevant document required e.g. transcript of records, diploma or certificate of graduation.)
4. The applicant should have undergone employment or undertaken further studies two (2) years after graduating from college or university.
5. If married to a foreigner, the applicant must secure an authority to take the FSO Examination from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, through the Board of Foreign Service Examinations.
6. If the applicant has dual or multiple citizenships, he/she should submit a notarized affidavit stating that upon passing the examinations, he/she intends to renounce his/her allegiance to all other countries of citizenship.
(lifted from http://www.philembassy.no/news-item/announcement-2014-foreign-service-officer-fso-examination)
The Philippine FSO Examination is composed of five parts. The first part is the Qualifying Test which covers (1) Verbal Ability; (2) Analytical Ability; (3) Numerical Ability; and (4) Managerial Ability in which a grade of at least 80% must be attained by the applicants to qualify for the next part, the Preliminary Interview. For the Preliminary Interview, a panel of Foreign Service Officers will be interviewing the FSO Examinees to assess their potentials of becoming Foreign Service Officers and future Ambassadors. Unlike the first part, no grade percentage is given for the Preliminary Interview–an overall rating of “PASS” from the FSO panel is required to move on to the third part of the FSO Exam. The third part is the Written Test wherein the examinees must obtain a mark of at least 75% to qualify for the penultimate part. The Written Test covers English (20%), Filipino (5%), Philippine Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Conditions (30%), International Affairs (30%), World History (10%) and Foreign Language (5%). Having passed the third exam, the candidates must undergo Psychological Test. The last part of the FSO Examination, the Oral Test, assesses the candidates’ oral skills, logical thinking, values and attitudes. To pass the Oral Test, a transmuted score of at least 80% is necessary. To pass the entire FSO Exam, an examinee must attain a composite rating of 80% or above in the Written Test and Oral Test. (All according to http://www.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/fsoexams/2483-announcement-on-the-2014-foreign-service-officer-fso-examination)
In addition to what was previously mentioned, my professor–having passed the FSO Examination before–said that the examination in her time included a group discussion among the examinees which Foreign Service Officers observed, and there was also a cocktail party wherein the examinees must mingle with people role-playing as high-ranking officers from different countries.
Considering those, can it be said that the FSO Examination is adequate to measure the skills acquired from studying Organizational Communication? For the most part, I could say yes. Embassies, the government, and international unions are all organizations. Aside from the exam, many of the things we learn from Organizational Communication are highly applicable in performing the duties of a Foreign Service Officer. We have technical writing for writing diplomatic correspondence, briefing papers and foreign policies. We have organizational processes and structures to understand the workings of foreign governments. We have public relations and marketing to help us promote our country. Foreign language, interpersonal communication and intercultural communication are highly utilized when interacting with people in foreign countries. I believe Organizational Communication graduates can efficiently represent the Philippines in international fora. We are taught to represent organizations, and to prioritize the welfare of the organizations we work for including the people of whom it is comprised. We can do very much the same–or even more–for our own country.
To ultimately say that the FSO Examination is the board exam of Organizational Communication is an error, though. It is better to say that the FSO Examination may take the place of an Organizational Communication board exam. To say that one is an Organizational Communicologist if and only if one passed the FSO Examination is wrong, being an Organizational Communicologist takes proper practice whatever the workplace setting is–whether it’s a government or private organization. Personally, I do not advocate the implementation of a board examination for Organizational Communication. As what they told us upon entering the world of Organizational Communication, those who take up this path are trained to be “jack of all trades, master of none”. We are shaped by Organizational Communication to be well-rounded people who can function efficiently wherever we are put–to bind us with one test to measure all that we are capable of would be unjust. One of the reasons why Organizational Communication is an inconspicuous course may be because it has a wide reach–like thinly spread jam on a slice of bread. There are few Organizational Communication majors, but we work in diverse fields. It gives off a sense of exclusivity and pride. Our exposure to many different disciplines gives us an edge in the workforce. As what one of our university’s OrCom shirt design says, “keep calm and let OrCom handle it.”