Weekly Ketchup 08 - Everything is Online

I started Monday expecting backlash from friends after openly declaring my disbelief of the Christian idea of "God" (and I know people are at least clicking - I can see the stats). Rather, I woke up to a message from my friend Grace asking about the income-expense projection matrix I wrote about a few weeks back, which was really touching. I ended up sharing my spreadsheet with her, customizing it a little to fit her needs better since she's also raising a family. Meanwhile, on Twitter, I got a mention from the Campbell River Mini Bus Tours telling me that they liked the travel vlogs of my trip there a couple of years ago. This, along with other encouraging comments left on my other vlogs, made me wonder (not for the first time) if I should do more travel vlogging.

Which reminds me, I came across this channel while perusing other travel vlogs. It's a web series about a group of half-breeds getting in touch with their Filipino roots. I have to say: Some of their challenges are pretty daring. I wouldn't even consider doing them!

Speaking of web series (and, well, breeds), here's one about a talking cat. I credit Jovan for this recommendation. I breezed through all the episodes and they're generally funny, though my favorite is the one with the dog having breakfast.

And while we're on the subject of talking animals, yep, you bet I'll go there!

It looks like it's gonna be fun but some circles opined that it looks too funny or comedic, which I really had no problem with it.

Other news that got some corners of nerdom raging this week is the casting of the Fantastic Four reboot. I've already said my piece about it, so I'm not gonna expound on that here. I will say this though: I did enjoy the previous F4 movies, no matter how much they deviated from the comics. I even remember feeling envious of the F4 fandom after watching the first movie. I wished then that they would come up with an Avengers adaptation that was just as fun. Well, obviously I got something better.

Another source of Internet rage this week was, of course, the Supreme Court's decision that the libel clause in the Cybercrime Prevention Law was indeed constitutional to some extent. I thought it was fair enough, though to be honest, I wasn't aware that the Philippines is one of only a few states that penalizes libel in general. I thought it was a generally acceptable law all around. I mean, seriously, where are they going to hold the thousands who shared their opinion that Senator Sotto is an idiot?

Speaking of restrictions, DRM! (Yeah, I know this was a bit of a stretch but bear with me) This week, there was a rather awesome Humble Bundle package of Sid Meier games that I didn't pick up mainly because I didn't want to register for a Steam account. DRM and its limitations are still a big deal for me so I'm sticking with GOG.com in the meantime. (I have a whole discussion in my head about DRM aversion but that deserves a blog on its own).

By the way, GOG.com offered Dungeon Keeper last week and while I didn't know anything about it, I got it since it's free anyway. I also got its sequel and a couple of new games because MASSIVE DISCOUNT!

Thanks to the Dungeon Keeper research, I also came across a nice Android game called Dungeon Ascendance this week. Obviously it's the fantasy element that drew me to the game more than the gameplay but I tried the FREE version and it's been fun so far, so I might actually buy it.

While we're on the subject of deals and free stuff, I signed up for Smashwords this week because of a tip from Bookbub. I know I'm trying to save money but hey! The beauty about having an income-expense projection matrix is that I also know how much extra income I can spare, and so far, I haven't breached my limit so I'm good. And these games and ebooks are hella cheap.

Another random Internet find is this beautifully haunting song. I heard it first in the background on one of the vlogs I was watching. The great thing about this song is the description also includes a FREE and LEGAL download link, which I thought was pretty nice of them to do!

And now to draw this week to a close, I came to the realization that (and please get your heads out of the gutter for this one) I don't know how to work with my hands. Obviously, computers in the general and the Internet in particular are tools that I know how to work with. But my skills as a writer and creative professional are easily outsourceable. In fact, most of my projects are outsourced to me, which is great but doesn't bode well for job security.

This new-found realization is brought to me by this little gem of life tips that I discovered, as always, thru the Internet. For the most part, the list makes sense but numbers 7 and 8 really got to me. What physical skills do I have that can't be outsourced?

Well, I'm good with production work. Hmmm, maybe I should get back into producing videos.


Weekly Ketchup 07 - A Friend's Death, Priesthood, and Spirituality

There's a 3-day Sale at SM Santa Mesa that concludes today plus an ongoing major sale at Fully Booked SM Mall of Asia - and I didn't go to either one. Hey, look at me following through. Yay me!

It was Valentine's week as well and since I've been largely celibate on that front, add my previously mentioned vow of poverty, and voila! I'm an instant candidate for priesthood.

Except for one itsy-bitsy tiny detail.

But first: Let me ramble about "timing".

I found out a few hours after I posted the previous blog, titled "the Big C's", that I lost a college friend to cancer. Obviously that was a coincidence. That it was the same weekend I was supposed to finally go and find her - but didn't - shook and rattled every fiber of my being.

I did consider, more than once, that she might've passed on already and that was the reason we haven't heard from her after all these years. You see, she was someone who just fell out of the radar after college, someone whose absence is a constant presence by itself during get-togethers. Not that she was anti-social. Far from it. She was just anti-social media.

Last Saturday, as I was thinking about how I was going to introduce myself to whoever answered the door at her old address, I entertained that question again: What if they tell me that she had long gone? I would learn later on that she passed away just the previous day.

It's a miracle we even found out. By some divine design, she had a friend who knew one of our college friends and recognized her from the slideshow memorial. It's a strange series of coincidences that somehow put us on the path to reuniting with our long-absent friend.

From Germie's FB

Obviously, losing a college friend is a big development in my life. If I'm being honest but selfish, I resent that it was so much easier to mobilize the same group of people to her funeral than it was to my 30th birthday party a couple of years ago. I understand that one had more weight than the other, but honestly I would rather that I had cause to miss out on one's funeral than I had reasons to celebrate one's special day - be it a smashing wedding or a simple birthday. After all, as we progress in life, we will have to say goodbye to the people we've spent our formative years with. That's a given. But if my last memory of my friends is that one time we got so drunk and did stupid things together, I would feel much better even if I missed out on sitting across their coffins. In a way, this just ties up perfectly with a previous blog I wrote about making time for friends.

Now, let me just tie all of this up.

The reason I can't be a priest is because I have yet to make my mind about God. I'd rather not dismiss the idea completely but I've been leaning towards the side of agnosticism since 9/11. That is, I believe that there is a higher power - but he/she/it isn't the same one that the Catholics and Christians preach about. However, I am adamant about disassociating with organized religion altogether. While I wouldn't consider myself an atheist, I probably shouldn't represent myself as an agnostic either since there are likely aspects of that movement that I don't also agree with.

I'm not that much of a forward-thinker. I live for the moment. Which is also how I found myself in my current financial bind. So the idea that we were put on this earth just to prepare ourselves for the afterlife sounds ridiculous to me. In addition, I cannot bring myself to believe in a powerful being that possesses such human qualities as jealousy and self-entitlement. I can go on but I think that's another blog.

So what's my deal with the "higher power"?

Again, it all goes back to timing. I logged into my Facebook account only to rave about a chapter in Sailing to Sarantium that detailed a meeting between the main character, who's a believer in that world's version of the Judeo-Christian ideal of God, and a pagan deity. The scene just begged the question of "how can you not believe what you've already experienced?" It was in that same Facebook session that I found out about my friend. The next day, her sister shared that prior to taking her final breath, my friend sat up and proclaimed that she had already seen God and that she was ready to go. I have no reason to believe that either of them are lying. There is something or someone out there.

I've also had many instances where the universe conspired to deliver me things that I've been needing or wanting. For one thing, fate had intervened to let us visit our friend one last time. Either that or we were extremely lucky. But I also believe in making my own luck: That fate can only take me so far. I've had many opportunities open up to me because of random spur-of-the-moment decisions I made in the past - an obvious side effect of living in the present. Timing.

While I know not whether my friend will be frolicking among the stars forever or waiting for her chance at reincarnation as the Eastern religions believe, I do know that either will depend on how she lived her life. While I don't particularly worry about my soul, I want to be worthy of either reward, if either turns out to be true. At the very least, I can try to be a positive force in this world and do right by other people. Not to self-glorify but to illustrate my point, I try to be the kind of guy who would give away food left over from a picnic with friends to a couple of homeless people and their kittens.

If neither pans out and there's really nothing at the end of this tunnel, I'll be okay with it knowing that I had made an impact in other people's lives and, even for just one day, made the world a little bit better for them. Another blatant fallout from living for the moment. Also reinforces my previous point about making time for friends.

Anyway, just so I don't leave in a heavy tone, here's a couple of awesomeness from this past week: the Lego Movie and Michael Christian Martinez!


Weekly Ketchup 06 - The Big Cs: Career, Creation, and Children

Earlier this week, as I do on a monthly basis, I changed the profile picture across all my social networks.

This prompted a visit to one of my least used accounts: LinkedIn. And lo! I came across a job opening with a list of qualifications that perfectly matches where I am in my career: Associate Creative Director for a global firm based in Makati with headquarters in New York! Although I wasn't really looking for a job and I had no plans to leave my current company anytime soon, I thought I'd update my LinkedIn profile anyway. I realize then that it hadn't been updated with all the additional responsibilities I've been undertaking the past couple of years - the same responsibilities that made me eligible for this new opportunity.

(*Sidenote: Funny how I edit my job title on my profile and LinkedIn interprets it as a new job - I got a barrage of congratulations from my connections because of it.)

I really found myself really getting excited about the possibility. I started gathering my portfolio and I even contemplated filing my resignation letter already because I was so sure I could nail this position.

This week's fun discovery: Furrocious!

But then, something hit me really hard: A career in advertising was only supposed to be plan B. The next option. The fall-back.

That's the reason I never aspired for the big agencies and was content with being a small fry. I even wrote about it on a Facebook note sometime ago. I wanted to get into something that I had the proper training, experience, and passion for just so I can afford my hobbies. But I didn't want it taking up much of my time because I still wanted to pursue my main interest: Stories.

What suddenly scared me about this opportunity is that taking on a bigger responsibility means practically giving up the dream. That I won't have time to do anything else. For the most part, I've been lucky that the company I currently work for allows me enough time in the day to pursue other projects. That my office is so close to my house is a bonus since I don't spend that much time on the road.
But then, something hit me even harder: In the four years since I've been with the company, I haven't really produced or written anything in my spare time (and I'm pretty sure I had a lot of it) that has anything to do with the stories I want to tell. My head is constantly swimming with ideas to the point where I'm practically drowning in them, but none has yet to materialize.

While daydreaming is nothing new to me - I've been doing that since my conscience and consciousness materialized, the difference between me now and me of more than four years ago is that I have all the means I need to condense my vapors of ethereal ideas into a deluge of corporeal stories. Now I have the means to produce graphic and animated projects, in addition to the traditional short stories and novels.

To be fair, I have racked up quite a folio of published works this past few years. I've been fortunate enough to get a variety of writing gigs and other creative endeavors, all of which I'm proud of, most of which paid. Most recently, I got published in UNO Magazine and I just received a new assignment from Planet Philippines, so all is good on that front. This past week I also developed a bunch of studies for a new campaign for an old client, all of which I particularly feel strongly about, so I know I still got it.

Yay! I'm in this issue!
But I still want to be known as a creator. Not just as a writer. Definitely not an advertiser.

With that realization in my mind, I let the new opportunity go and spent the rest of the week trying to jumpstart any of the numerous projects I've had lined up to define my life's work.

And once again I failed.

I would come home and not turn my laptop on, just to avoid the weapons of mass distraction, but my mind keeps going on different places and tangents and I just couldn't bring myself to focus. I would start working on one project and then immediately think of ideas for another. Then there were days when I just want to curl up and daydream.

By the end of the week, the voices in my head were arguing thus:
"Can't I make you understand: You're having delusions of grandeur?"
"I'm through accepting limits 'cause someone says they're so."

This frustration has led to a bit of a drinking binge this past week - and that's not good.

What I think I need is a system. I need to set deadlines, just like with any job that I have.
I also need to get off the Internet and technology in general. For that reason, I bought a pen. Yes, this thing has gotten so bad that I felt the need to make something grandiose out of something so mundane!

Wish me luck. I hope that by writing about it and sharing it with the rest of my world, I can hold myself accountable - just as I did in a previous blog.

In other news:

I didn't go to Relik Quiz Night last Tuesday to work on my endeavors that spiraled into a depressing, frustrating, drinking binge instead - but I did go to Amici Quiz Night last Thursday just to break the cycle. We lost but it's about time, if you ask me. Winning every month has gotten a bit stale.

It was also Lemon Montejo's birthday. We were in Jon's car on the way home, singing along to the Lion King soundtrack - and I realized that the movie is actually older than her! Damn! How time flies!

Speaking of friend's children, I forgot to mention that since we spent the Chinese New Year with Jon's family last week, we also got to spend some time with his son Darren who introduced myself and Alec (who he calls "Uncle Carmine") to a new card game that neither of us knew how to play but won anyway. He is now sporting facial hair. Meanwhile, his sister just went to her JS prom.

And today, I'm off to have a little picnic with a few friends - and their children.

If there's any indication that time is running fast, it's that: The next generation is here and I have yet to pull myself together.


Weekly Ketchup 05 - MORE Wicked, Chinese New Year, Idolatry, and Showbiz

I did mention last week that I was going to see Wicked and I did. It was as spectacular as I expected! I've been listening to the soundtrack since I discovered the show in 2007 and I've seen some of the clips from YouTube but man, but man! The live show was something else!

From Mabelle's Facebook
However, the experience of my Sunday night show was mired by the Santo NiƱo procession. Thankfully I knew about the damn thing beforehand and was able to give myself more travel time. Still, I ended up walking a stretch of the way, which was apparently still shorter than what my friends endured.

Now I couldn't help but raise my elitist eyebrow at the absurdity of such a pedestrian exercise. Aside from the obvious traffic situation, isn't the whole thing a practice of idolatry, which Moses specifically warned against? I'm sure I didn't imagine Charlton Heston bearing the tablet down on that golden calf.

If you ask me, the Catholic leadership of this country should really do what they're mandated to do and curtail such deliberate disregard for the teachings of their church. If they relegate their energies towards making their principles consistent instead of waging their war against sex education and reproductive health, then maybe they'd get my respect.

Incidentally, the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights concluded around the same weekend that I got to see Wicked. A bunch of my friends were a part of that event and I was invited to be a member of the social media team but I had to decline because I had a job to attend to.

It's a good thing I did because I actually had a writing gig last week and I wanted to finish it before I left for Wicked. I wrote an article about how Philippine cinema would come to be defined by great independent movies and not by the idiotic fares that sell at the box office. My conclusion was that the few are likely to remember a great movie like On The Job while the many are likely to forget a movie like My Little Bossings.

I could only approach the subject from an academic perspective since I'm not a showbiz-oriented person. Obviously, I'm also not a populist. So imagine how annoying this week had been for me when the real and virtual world both kept blabbing about this incident. No joke: There were days when I just wanted to hide from the world.

After Wicked, I got to satisfy my week-old craving for mantao with cuapao, which is apparently the same thing. I had some last Friday as well. I met up with some friends to join in the lunar new year celebration at Binondo. Like with CCP, traffic was so bad that I had to walk part of the way through, which was expected.

As soon as I got to Chinatown, my first thought was "Where are all the Chinese people?" Seriously, I was just one in a throng of tourists who came to experience an authentic Chinese celebration. Jon said that their family go through all the activities they need to do in observance of the new year the day before, so all the action on the streets of Binondo was mainly for the benefit of the tourists - and wow! What a party it was! It was like One Short Day at the Emerald City, except it was me and my friends in Chinatown!

Photo from Alec's FB
Yet, while we're all in a revelry mood, I couldn't help but notice the extreme poverty on some corners of Ongpin. I suppose I will never understand the masses' predilection for idols - the religious and showbiz variety, until I have nothing else.

Anyway, I did finish a few things this week: Neil Gaiman's "American Gods"; and the "good" campaign of Warlords Battlecry. And just so I don't go on a somber note, here's a funny song that I just discovered this week!