On the Issue: Thoughts for the Day – 26 August

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Did you join the march earlier? Are you mad, furious, infuriated, and [insert another adjective here] regarding the issue at hand? We have the right to be mad, mad about how some of our elected officials is spending public funds. We can be mad about the allegation that JLN has managed to draw out funds from the PDAF into to her very own coffers. We can be mad about exposes and frauds left and right.

Corruption is a bad thing right?

Now let us sit down for a moment and chat, do you drive an automobile? Let us say you do drive. Look straight into my eyes and answer this – what would you do if a traffic officer flags you down for a traffic violation? If you decided to give the officer coffee, snack, doughnut, cronut, doussant, or whatever you call it money to get away – is it not some form of corruption? Tell me. Tell me all the excuses that you have, but through that act, you have committed the crime that you despise the most.

This is the problem, we are mad at other people for being corrupt but it is perfectly okay for us to corrupt other people. We go to rallies to express our anger and frustrations against corruption but we find all excuses to use fixers to corrupt other people in order to process our transactions faster.

When we say no to corruption, there should be no grey areas, no ifs and buts. It will not change overnight, but it is up to us to starve it off.

It has to begin with us – the only question is would you do it?

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Chocolate Crinkles

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I grew up in a very religious family. When I was very young, my father’s aunt who we all dearly call “Tita Madre” (loosely translates to “Aunt Nun”, or “Sister Aunt”) regularly visits us when she has time away from the convent. During those visits, she usually brings treats and sweets for me and my brother and at one point she even bought a basketball for us two boys to play (me and my younger brother).

In August of 2001, she joined our creator, whom she served all throughout her life in heaven due to old age.

During the wake, the nun who looks after her allowed us to go through the things that she have left behind – the nun allowed us to take some items as remembrance and keepsakes of her such as the rosary she is using and some that she have personally made. She has also left behind some food items and one of those that caught my attention is a plastic jar of chocolate crinkles.

For those of you who are not familiar, in this particular religious community any food item that is brought in will be pooled to be shared equally among the members of the religious community. So if someone gives out particular goods or food items it is divided equally among themselves so everyone can enjoy.

That particular plastic jar of chocolate crinkles came from that pool.

“Why did she keep this?” I asked.

“She would always tell us these are for the two boys”, the nun replied.

At that point in time, tears start streaming from my eyes as I hold on to the plastic jar. For the last time, she managed to express her love for us in a very simple way through a plastic jar of crinkles. I personally have become attached to that jar that I managed to keep it for months if not years with crinkles intact as a symbol of her love for us in a simple way.

Tita Madre, you’ll be forever in our hearts.

Drafts & Anecdotes is a collection of my short personal stories about the different experiences I have had over the past few years. I hope you enjoy reading my anecdotes and feel free to suggest any topic that you want me to write about next by dropping me a simple note

The Little Half-Chick

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Do you remember the first time you went on stage to speak? I do and this is the story of my first time in public speaking.

It was a fine sunny afternoon at the school grounds, it was time for Physical Education. For us second graders this would be free play time with your classmates and friends where we are free to run around the school grounds playing tag, hide and seek, and other kinds of games.

That afternoon I was approached by my class adviser Ms. Mendoza, I am not really sure why or if I am in trouble again and will be calling up my parents later in the night.

“We are looking for someone to field in the inter-section story telling competition for the English week, would you like to join?” she asked.

Initially, I did not know what to say. For one, I haven’t been into any story telling competition, I am not sure if I can do it, and I have not set foot on stage to speak. I also thought of the possibilities (and somewhere there possibly inspiring someone in the class – if you know what I mean). So for some reason I said:

“Yes, I will do it”.

The following day at class, my adviser handed me the piece that I am going to recite. The piece is a children’s short story entitled “The Little Half-Chick” which I was asked to memorize. The story is about a half-chick who left home to see the king and along the way ignored the pleas and cry for help of the different elements, when the time comes that he needed help he was ignored.

When I came home that afternoon, I told mom and dad about me and being the most supportive and loving parents, we started the then difficult task of getting the whole story accurately in my head.

The next few days was all about reading the story back and forth between me and my dad, recording me on tape and playing back the recording so I would know where mistakes are. We did that repeatedly until the time that I have the story inside my head and I can recite it the best way possible. Dad said that if I win this competition, the reward would be a Happy Meal lunch before school at a local McDonald’s.

The day finally came, the entire grade-level assembled in the Gym/Auditorium of the school. I was nervously sitting in front of the assembly together with participants from the other sections. We were told that we will be called by the order of our sections, so which meant for me that I’ll be the second one in line for the stage.

The first participant got on the stage and recited the short story, knowing that I would be the next I was on my seat trying to focus on the task at hand. As the first participant finishes the story, I was called on to the side of the stage to be ready. The emcee then calls my name and invites me up to the stage. I looked intently on my batch and started reciting the short story.

“Once upon a time…”

I was able to recite the story well ending it with a bow and walked across the stage back into my seat. The subsequent participants were called and recited the piece. After that it was time to announce the winners.

After they handed out the first two medals, I thought to myself that there is no chance of me getting the next medal the remaining ones seated has to be better than me. Before I can think of anything else, I heard my name being called on stage for first runner-up. I was very happy at that point in time, my first ever medal I couldn’t be more proud.

I went home that day, excited to share the medal with my mom and dad. As dad promised, the following day we went to the local McDonald’s to get my happy meal just before school.

Drafts & Anecdotes is a collection of my short personal stories about the different experiences I have had over the past few years. I hope you enjoy reading my anecdotes and feel free to suggest any topic that you want me to write about next by dropping me a simple note.

Noodle Smuggler

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I was fortunate enough to have a chance to travel early in my twenties. I was invited to attend a summit in the United States back in 2008 and while at it, I took the opportunity to visit relatives from my mother’s side two weeks prior in Vancouver, Canada – my first international destination. It was such an exciting time; I remember literally losing sleep days before because I cannot contain my excitement over the trip. Since this is the first time that I would be traveling from one country to another alone, I have made it a point that I understand all procedures involved including customs and immigration.

The day finally came, early in the afternoon my family dropped me off at the airport we said goodbyes and boarded my twelve-hour flight to Vancouver. The flight itself was uneventful; I ate, tried enjoying the movies on board, filled out the necessary forms, and got some little sleep. Being the Filipino that I am with me on this trip is a bag full of treats which included dried mangoes, cup noodles, and pastries to be given to my hosts.

Landing at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is when things actually got real for me. I have to pinch myself to make sure that this is not just another dream. Since the flight landed late, it took some time for us to get to the gate and do our deplaning. Ahead of us are long lines at customs and immigration because there were many “jumbo-plane” flights deplaning at that point in time.

While on the line, I noticed this sign “Be aware and declare” which stipulates items that you should declare and what are the equivalent fines should you be caught smuggling items into Canada. I have mixed feelings, all food items should be declared, the fine is equivalent to what I have in my wallet at that time but on the other hand, I am sure (I think) that dried mangoes, cup noodles, and pastries are not on the CBSA prohibited items list. After some few moments of reflection, I decided to do the right thing – Declare. I checked the “Yes” box in the declaration form where it said “bringing food items into Canada”.

It was my turn to hand over my passport and forms to the immigration officer, he reviewed it and asked me the usual questions. He noticed that I said, “Yes” to “…food items into Canada”:

Customs and Immigration Officer: What are the food items that you are bringing?

Chester (trying to remember what is inside the bag): Some pastries, dried mango, and cup noodles

Customs and Immigration Officer: What kind of cup noodles? What is in it?

Chester (trying to explain what “La Paz Batchoy” is to the officer): We call it “La Paz Batchoy”, not sure what is in it but I think it contains some meat.

After that, the officer stamped my passport and has instructed me to go to quarantine for authorities to inspect the goods I am bringing in to Canada. At quarantine, another officer inspected the goods I am bringing in and tried to understand the ingredients of the “La Paz Batchoy” from the packaging. After careful inspection, I was told that I could not bring these into Canada and a half-box worth of “La Paz Batchoy” noodles were confiscated by the authorities.

That was the first lesson I learned in travel – Even if the meat flavoring is artificial, should not be brought in to any country that has meat import restrictions. After that, I was able to meet with my relatives, told them this story and enjoyed the rest of my stay abroad.

Another Chapter

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There is still a few more hours before midnight and a few of my neighbors are lighting the sky and making some noise with different pyrotechnics. It is exactly ten o’clock in the evening, here I am on my desk looking back at all the things that happened the past year.

It is a pity that I will be ending the year suffering from a sore throat that would not just get away plus cough that I think would be aggravated by the smoke coming from pyrotechnics later in the night. How about you how are you ending this year?

I am finding one statement that would summarize this year, and I think it would be appropriate to call this a year that surprised me.

2011: The Year that Surprised Me.

I would like to thank everyone who has been part of my 2011 – you made this year interesting.

From my family to, all of my eight hundred and thirty six friends on Facebook. From peers, colleagues, and MACHs I’ve met in person and online to my friends from college (shout out to Block IT!). From my 127 followers in Twitter to anyone who RT’d my tweets. To the PR, 5J, 2P, DL, UA, and AS staff and to everyone who I encountered directly or indirectly during my travels. And to everyone who I failed to mention. THANK YOU / MARAMING SALAMAT!

Forward March. Soar High. Happy New Year!

Journey

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Looking back at all the things that happened this year, these are just some of the many facts that I can think of:

  1. I have been to ten airports namely: MNL, NRT, SEA, LAX, SFO, HKG, MPH, KLO, SIN, and CEB.
  2. If my memory serves me right I have been on a 767, 777, CRJ 700, A320, 747, A330, Q400 – so that would be 7 different types of aircraft – from the tiny ones.
  3. Used the following currencies: PHP, USD, SGD, HKD, and a little bit of MOP
  4. I have traveled approximately 20,979 miles – by air
  5. I have accumulated 15 more stamps on my passport

In a journey, we get to see places, experience a new set of experiences, meet a lot of people. In between all these – I have gained and lost a few pounds, earn and spent money, learned a lot, met people, gained friends, watched movies, changed phones, taught students, laughed, get stressed – a small fraction of my entire journey in 2010.

As a year-ender I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to everyone who became a part of my 2010.

  • Thanks for the numerous dinners, brunches, movies, etc. we had this year
  • Thanks for listening and sharing your thoughts and stories with me this year
  • Thanks for making me special
  • Thanks for all the stuff you have given me this year
  • Thanks for getting me to places I haven’t been
  • Thanks for helping me with anything
  • Thanks for being a good friend
  • Thank you for anything and everything.

Tomorrow morning is a start of a new journey – not sure of the things that will come my way but I will always be ready.

2010 – thanks for the awesome journey.

Now it is time for me to get off here, join my family downstairs in welcoming 2011. Happy New Year!

Tips to help you avoid plagiarism

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Plagiarism is a hot topic in the Philippines these days, for the first time someone ruled that software was at fault on a plagiarism case because it did not detect that an idea was copied from somewhere else and was not cited properly. While this would have been a great feature request to the software company – there are actually ways to help you keep track of copy and pastes, and sources using the same software.

Tip #1: Do not paste directly to your working document, instead paste on to Microsoft OneNote – to keep track of your copy and pastes (as well as sources)

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Microsoft Office OneNote has this great feature that when you paste something there it indicates the URL / location of your source. Now you would know that the passage you copied is not entirely yours. The best thing is that you can go back to the source and get additional details such as Author, etc.

Tip #2: Use Citations and Bibliography in Microsoft Word

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Use the Manage Sources function in Microsoft Word to organize and keep track all your sources (books, websites, etc.). After entering all your sources choose a citation style that is appropriate for the document you are working on (e.g. Decisions, Papers, etc.). Then insert citations away, no need to consult those thick manuals and determine which format is the best to use this way.

Tip #3: Mark as Final

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Of course there is still a danger that someone might unintentionally delete your citations while reading your document. To avoid this make sure that after proof-reading your document many times (making sure that you are not committing plagiarism) use the Mark as Final function in Microsoft Word to make the document read-only and protect it from unintentional further editing.

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