I must admit that the first time I read about the “yaya’s meal” at Balesin, through an article about Maggie Wilson’s fb post (and then through other articles), I felt sad. And the oft-reposted quote on fb, among many other issues and sentiments, came to mind, “You are not nice if you are not nice to the waiter.” It touched a raw nerve in me, knowing how depressing and hurtful it could be to be on the receiving end of condescencion and of outright discrimination – not just by the originators/promulgators but by those who are tasked to enforce/implement acts/policies that mirror these.

To Balesin’s credit, it tried to explain the circumstances that surrounded Maggie’s unpleasant discovery of the yaya’s meal, even as Balesin seemed to have offered as a sacrificial lamb, one of its employees who presumably was a newbie and ergo, did not handle the situation with as much aplomb as Balesin would want it, or was not trained or immersed enough in the ways of the wealthy at Balesin.

But in my humble opinion, no explanation will suffice to cover the fact that with the yaya’s meal, there is the manifest discrimination in the middle of it all – and if Balesin claims it has been there at the behest of the members, then it is complicit in such discrimination.

Based on the articles I read, this discriminatory malpractice is not the monopoly of Balesin it seems; other so-called rich enclaves such as the Manila Polo Club and the Icon Residences were name-dropped to have similar discriminatory policies. And for sure, there are other places that have similar policies in place that we have yet to read about. If you go by the insinuations in other articles, the presence or implementation of discriminatory policies against “the help” is an “open secret”.

There are the justifications for certain. But however logical or practical they maybe, I still can’t shake off my sad sentiment regarding this reality – that a classless society is as much a myth as a paperless one, no matter how modern and supposedly advanced we become.


Our company was decidedly generous this year; it gave us bonuses despite admitting results were below expectations.

I was thankful for the generosity, and expressed as much to my immediate superior, who quite unexpectedly, sent me back this response to my text message:

[verbatim; unedited]
Your most Wellcome ..
Very much deserved ..
Keep up the good work ..
Your my assistant but more than that a great and very dear friend
for many years you been good to me ,
you moved with me to new company ,
believed in me ,
and help me on our way to success.

It was a pleasant surprise for me to read something like this from him. 2014 after all, was quite tumultuous as far as our working relationship was concerned. It was not of annus horribilis proportions but there were quite a number of circumstances which on foresight, I would rather not get involved in again nor happen again. Sufficient it has been that lessons were learned without too much damage done to our working relationship.

And this text message affirms that all is well, and is worth as much as the bonus riyals.



[Image taken from facebook.]

Facebook is more spot on about it than me. The ones about friends. About the people who will be in your life. Or you in other people’s.

And then there is that one about certain friendships that you do not consciously seek but which just happen. You do not even realize how they start. You certainly did not agree nor sign a covenant to become friends.

But you feel and see. The sincerity, the genuineness, the realness, the naturalness. The effortlessness. So akin to just being in step, to breathing regularly, to muscles moving involuntarily.

You may not be together frequently but distance and time melt when you meet – not just a physical meeting but also a meeting of the minds.

You share not only stories, secrets or sustenance, and more importantly, values and visions.

You embrace this kind of a friend.

Easter Sundays of my youth


Growing up, I never experienced Easter egg hunts nor any of the so-called Westernized or commercialized celebration of similar occasions dear to us. What I remember was the salubong – the early morning meeting of the images of the risen Christ and of the Virgin Mary draped in a veil which is lifted by an angel hanging on a harness. But I could not remember now whether it was indeed done at dawn or in the evening….

What I remember hearing from priests is that Easter is even more important than Christmas. In the vernacular, both are pascua or pasko – one of resurrection and the other, of birth. But somehow, I think this is lost on many of us the way we celebrate like no other, Christmas in December.

The “advance” Easter celebration I participated in over the weekend is a first for me hereabouts. It was memorable in many ways – the Easter candle lighting ceremony, the baptism incorporated within the service, the minor kerkuffle over seats, the huge number of people I would not normally associate with Christianity (think Indians and Africans) in attendance….

The take-away message I got from the service was in the letter read before we began. The bishop overseeing the community hereabouts, wrote the letter and he urged us not to forget to treat Sundays as a holy day of obligation, even if we are in a way, forced to hold our rituals on other days of the week. I have yet to internalize why it resonated much with me but it did/it does.

So have you got eggs to hunt today?

Returning to blogging…

just as “people lose touch because life happens,” so did i neglect my blog because facebook happened.

but i’m finding my way back because of some bloginspirations. no need to cite them here, suffice it to say that they have urged me to take up my digital pen once again. i don’t know if it’s for keeps. nothing is permanent after all. besides, wrong it may be where purists are concerned, writing for me is inspiration-driven. for quite some time, the inspiration has not been there. writers call it mental/writer’s block, so do bloggers; and the monotony of writing/posting entries, blogging fatigue.

my blog is one in more than 156 million (Wikipedia count as of February 2011). so what if i don’t blog again? surely, no one’s going to miss it. maybe, not by myself even. but see, writing i would miss. i never stopped writing because i stopped blogging. the fact is, i just changed the medium. and it turns out, on a temporary basis.

but is writing facebook updates or comments or even notes considered real writing? with the way a lot of us write on facebook, indeed, to call it real writing is stretching it, it seems. besides, facebook is not for writing, it is for communicating, for keeping us connected. we don’t always respect the rules of grammar when we communicate. no one even thinks of style. we only hope to be understood.

you are a grammar nazi (or mutawwa if you are so inclined), if not a snob if you care about rules. you are liable to be branded pretentious if you care about style.

but to be understood is first about expressing yourself. i express myself best writing. even on or specially on facebook. i go by the rules. i think about style. i even respect intellectual property rights. but somehow, these don’t seem enough.

and it is not reason enough to be blogging again,but it is a tremendous start.

“of all the arts in which the wise excel, nature’s chief masterpiece is writing well.”


I promised Ate Joy a new write up about the twinnies, and so here it is –

We haven’t been seeing the twins often enough. There was even that spell when they had to remain in the Philippines, under the care of grandparents and aunts and other family members. It was both a boon and a bane but of course – nangulila sina Father and Mother dito sa Riyadh pero it was a welcome opportunity naman sa mga kapamilya sa Pilipinas kasi nga, bonding galore sila. Ate Joy would be one of the first to admit na she, and the rest of the family, miss the twins terribly now that the twinnies are once again Riyadh-based.

After more than a year of their birth, siempre, hongdami nang nangyari – milestones and  mishaps that eventually make up for memories – lots and lots of them. It helps pa na with the ease of modern technology, ang dali mag picture-picture [sama na din ang videotaping] ng mga antics and tantrums ng mga twinnies and post them on fb and wherever para all of us who love them dearly, can share vicariously in seeing them go, grow and glow.

So, from new-born babies to infant to toddlers, ang layo na rin ng growth ng twinnies. Andyan ung mas obvious na ang differences in their personalities – kuya Rafael is more reserved and bunso Miguel is the more extroverted and mas lalong nagiging defined na din ang physical features – kuya Rafael is more mestizo-looking than bunso Miguel [although both might have to undergo Belofication later pag dating sa nose, he he, but then again, their bridges just might grow too as they grow older].

When we most recently saw them a few weeks ago, sa pa-bertdey ni lolo Doc Art [he he], very telling ang mga ipinakita ng mga twinnies. Of course they were their usual energetic selves pero Kuya is really more reserved – pa-observe-observe at pa-linga-linga, seemingly absorbing lang everything na nae-experience nya while Miguel could not sit still. Noon ngang picture-taking moments, a guy wearing an afro wig, sat beside Kuya who at first only looked curiously at the afro-wigged guy with eyes wide, bago nag register na dapat yata syang matakot at umiyak.

Sabi minsan ni Mother, nasa curious stage talaga ang mga twinnies – parang lahat gustong hawakan, if not isubo at matikman, ha ha ha.

Madalas na identical ang mga suot ng twinnies pero kung familiar ka na sa kanila, you can easily distinguish one from the other.

These days, the twinnies have shaved heads [see photo] – it was their first real hair cut since they were born, and if I may say so, the skinhead look becomes them. Mukha na silang kasing astig ni Father!

Pero hindi lang naman ang twinnies ang nag-evolve. Surely, pati na din si Father and si Mother. Biruin mo nga naman, after waiting for some time na magkaroon ng babies, dalawa pa agad ang ibinigay ni Lord. Hindi ganun kadali yung adjustments. At hindi lang ilang beses na na-test ang mga patience at iba pang mga bagay-bagay ng mga concerned.

Pero sabi nga ni mareng Hillary, it takes a village, kaya andyan ang mga halos kapamilya [kami un at iba pang mga ka-Faces, he he], mga kasamahan sa work at mga kaibigan ang handang tumulong para patuloy na mamayagpag ang mga twinnies.

At sureness, kahit na malayo ang mga tunay na mga kapamilya [tulad nina Ate Joy at Ate Gracie], handang-handa din sila to be vital parts of the village. Di lang fb ang nandyan, me Skype din a, he he.

In a few months will be the terrible two’s na nang twinnies – panigurado, more bagong experiences na naman, and siempreness, iba-blog ko naman un.


This caught my eye on fb: “Dapat ang POLO o gobyerno natin ang gumawa ng ganito noon pa.” It’s from the Patnubay Riyadh account.

Full disclosure: I asked to become Patnubay Riyadh’s friend on fb after reading about it from an article written by Susan Ople. Based on information on its website (, Patnubay Riyadh is an online initiative that seeks to provide a cyber forum/venue for OFW sentiments, as well as a channel for volunteerism. It tries to achieve these by providing OFWs with news, by promoting OFW-centered clubs/orgs and interests, educating/empowering OFWs by equipping us with information on subjects such as laws and by encouraging servant leadership.

The quote above is part of its entry on how we can help OFWs who are going to be affected by the renewed Saudi government efforts to streamline its Saudization thrusts, with the continuing implementation (by phases) of its latest program dubbed Nitaqat (loosely translated into English as Ranges). Nitaqat seeks to classify existing Saudi companies as Excellent, Green, Yellow and Red, depending on how far into Saudization these companies had gone.

Those companies in the Red range must expect curtailment of facilities/services available to them and to their expatriate workers, while those in the Yellow range have been given time to upgrade their status.

While the Nitaqat program emphasizes that it has been designed to safeguard the interests of expatriate workers, it remains to be seen if indeed expatriates’ rights are going to be protected in the long run. The cynicism is derived from the fact that the Nitaqat program seeks to primarily address Saudi’s rising unemployment concerns.

Additionally, the reality on the ground lends one to think that expatriate welfare is farthest from the program’s concerns. Rumors have abounded about OFWs going on vacation with exit/re-entry visas, being denied the appropriate stamps and instead being served exit only visas. For sure, concerned authorities, including the Philippine Embassy, have tried to render these rumors as unfounded, by embarking on information drives.

But it appears that efforts by our own embassy have been limited to sharing information. This seems to be the catalyst for Patnubay Riyadh’s comment which I quoted above.

For indeed, what has the Philippine government done to mitigate any effects that will be brought about by the partial as well as full implementation of the Nitaqat program?

Patnubay Riyadh, on its own initiative, hopes to connect OFWs who will be displaced, with OFWs who are in the so-called Green or Excellent ranges and who may know of  opportunities in their own respective companies that will lead to the displaced OFWs re-employment.

By creating a database, it hopes to connect OFWs in a productive network.

And for what this may be worth, I laud its efforts.