Harmony, Ords, and Vicky Belo.

I had at least an hour to kill while a technician repaired my phone. I figured I’ll get the massage I’ve promised myself for some time now. After the stress of wondering about my HIV status, I could use some pampering to relax.

There was only the middle-aged masseuse when I entered the massage parlor. I looked at their list of services and asked what the “Body Mind Harmony Massage” was. It sounded so esoteric. It turned out to be a combination of Thai, Shiatsu, and Swedish message.


Okay, I’m game.

The masseuse played a recording of tropical bird sounds as ambient sound during the massage session. I didn’t know if that helped me relax, especially since the recording included occasional squawks and (this surprised me the first time it burst out) an elephant trumpet which interrupted the chirruping of various birds.

But lying on a massage bed by itself was already relaxing. I was too tall for it, my feet dangling a few inches from the end of the bed. I decided I want to have one made for me, with a customized face hole so I can sleep on it with my face down. I also realized that aside from lying there and thinking, I was also narrating that exact moment in my head. The habit of dictating to my inner blog never really goes away.

The masseuse was okay, if a little uneven in how she did the massage. She was rather chatty too, which I appreciated, describing which parts of my limbs were tense.

I asked how she learned to massage professionally. She said it was from a livelihood program by the Binays, then she took a proficiency exam as TESDA. She told me of another proficiency exam from the Department of Health which cost twenty thousand pesos and includes several months of review classes.

I already expected some pain as she eased some of my knotted muscles. While I didn’t have a high threshold for pain, I do have a relatively high tolerance for it. She was amused when she found out that I was also ticklish. Several times, I was squirming while she rubbed by thigh, and again while she was massaging my neck.

“Eh di malakas yung ‘ords’ mo,” she teased me.

Ords? What the fuck is ‘ords’? I honestly didn’t know so I asked what she meant.

“Sexual ords,” she clarified. Ah… sexual urge. That got me laughing, and not because of the charming mispronunciation. “Yun ang sabi nila. Syempre, kayo lang pwede magsabi nun.”

She also asked about my wife (“Wala po akong asawa.”) or girlfriend (“Hahaha, wala din po.”). Oh, wow. Was the masseuse flirting with me? That was fun. I couldn’t shatter the woman’s assumption by admitting that I play for the other team.

It was a pleasant session, all in all. I figured I will return again after a month or so. I asked for the masseuse’s name before I left.

“Vicky,” she answered. “Vicky Belo,” she added with a slight emphasis, her face deadpan.

Why should BDO charge an extra fee for deposits to provincial accounts?

After she typed in the account number where I will be depositing money to, the teller looked at me and said there is an added deposit fee of fifty pesos. That hasn’t happened to me before, so I asked her why. She explained it was because the account was from a provincial branch. It didn’t really explain much, but I said it’s fine and handed her another fifty pesos.

In this day and age of instant electronic money transfer, why does Banco de Oro add an extra charge for deposits to provincial branches? I could understand it would be reasonable several years back, when banks didn’t have any electronic networks to speak of and money has to be physically moved from one location to another, if they actually ever did that. But with an established inter-bank network, physical location should not matter anymore.

Either they should apply a fee for deposits regardless of which branch the receiving account is located, or they should not place deposit fees because of geographical location of the recipient. After all, the receiving branch is still located in the Philippines so there is no internation money transfer involved here.

Do other banks adapt this practice? Are there any justification for that charge? Sure, I’m annoyed with it, but if I could see a justifiable reason why that charge is placed there, I wouldn’t be complaining.

BDO logo

The ‘Webs and all them haters.

Technology writer Mike Elgan posted a short essay in Google+ on the comment culture of various social networking sites, particularly the emerging culture in Google+:

Comment culture is determined partly by the structure of the network, and partly by the prevailing demographic. But it’s also determined, in part, by deliberate effort on the part of the community.

So far, the general commenting “vibe” on Google+ has been awesome. But this could change, as the community grows. It’s up to us pioneers to set the tone, and shape the culture.

I believe the key is how we all handle criticism, which is an under-appreciated skill, in my opinion.

Elgan raised several good points on harsh or negative criticism and how one could handle them:

When someone criticizes you or something you care about publicly online, ask yourself: Is the comment disrespectful in some way? Is it a personal attack, rather than a disagreement with an idea? If so, you may be tempted to 1) attack the person back; or 2) defend yourself.

But most of the time, the best way to deal with disrespectful posts is to ignore them. By responding to them, you may bring a lot more attention to them, which in fact may be what the critic is after in the first place. By responding to respectful comments, and ignoring disrespectful ones, you can drown the bad ones in a river of constructive and interesting conversation.

Respectful disagreement is another matter. If someone strongly disagrees with your idea, or comment, without attacking you personally or being nasty about it, it’s a good idea to respectfully engage in a debate about the ideas in question. Or not. It’s your choice.

I’m a big believer in acknowledging good argumentation and valid points, as well as admitting when I was wrong — which is often. It’s easy to be embarrassed by being proved wrong in public, but I’ve found that people respect you more if you admit it rather than trying to win the argument by refusing to admit it.

Here’s my most surprising bit of advice: When someone disrespects you in private — say, a note that’s private to just you on Google+ or Gmail — the best response is a respectful reply. I’d say 90% of the hate mail I’ve responded to respectfully and without negativity caused a 180 on the part of the hate mailer.

The items he outlined could apply to any online forum and could be a reference to basic communications class. What with how how everyone seems to be eager to join in the pervasive social media, many people seem to forget how to act like decent, respectful people, instead degenerating into hordes of Internet trolls.

Read the rest of his post here.

Soaked feet and instant noodles.

Right now is the proper Manila rainy season: torrential rains, sudden floods and horrible traffic. Oh wait. Horrible traffic doesn’t really pick any season; it just happens.

But the flood. Dear god, the flood.

Even places where one might think it’s illogical to find floods are flooded with a few inches of water. Sometimes I suspect this city’s building philosophy is to make every exposed surface one could walk on shaped slightly like a basin.

People complain about the flooding during rainy season, forget about it during the dry months, then get surprised about flooding the following rainy season as if the same thing has not happened the year before. Sometimes I suspect Filipinos have a collective memory comparable to that of a goldfish.

Even before I reached the office, my shoes and socks were thoroughly soaked. Good thing I keep a pair of flip-flops at work which I could wear instead of walking around barefoot. I passed by a drug store and bought a bottle of ethyl alcohol to disinfect my feet.

There wasn’t a dipper in the office toilets so I had to use an empty mineral water bottle to collect water so I could wash my feet. I then rinsed my socks and Bern’s sneaker so they won’t end up smelly because of the floodwater.

The thing about rainy weather that I don’t like, however, isn’t the hassle of cleaning after flood-soaked shoes. It’s the fact that I can’t enjoy it while wrapped in blankets at home, sipping hot soup.

I did buy instant noodles from the drug store. Maybe later during my break, I’ll sit next to the pantry’s windows, looking at the rain-drenched street while sipping bulalo-flavored instant noodles.

Are banks supposed to refuse accepting slightly damaged bills?

I thought they would, so that old and damaged bills could be collected and returned to the Central Bank. But when I showed the bill to the Metrobank teller, she told me they do not accept damaged bills and that I should try another bank. The way she said “they”, I take it she means their branch.

I told the boyfriend about it and he asked his friend who also works in a bank. Said friend replied that banks should still accept slightly damaged bills. If that were the case, is there a banking authority where these things could be reported to?

That refusal only clinched my long exasperation with the Metrobank branch where my payroll account is enrolled.

Continue reading “Are banks supposed to refuse accepting slightly damaged bills?”