Friday, July 29, 2005

Chivalry: Dead...?

In one of the workshops I conducted, as I was discussing the concept of "Humanity" (or being humane), a very forthright participant--a lady--commented, "The problem right now is that chivalry is long dead."

This somehow struck some of the participants--both men and women--and got them thinking that, yes, perhaps chivalry (defined by as "n 1: courtesy towards women [syn: gallantry, politesse]") is, indeed, already dead. A number of people nodding their heads showed that they were in agreement.

I, however, contested. And I gave them my two cents giving an authentic case in point. I said that in my whole 20some years of giving my seat up--be it on the bus, LRT, MRT, or any other instance where I could possibly give my seat to a seemingly more "needy" individual--to, say 300 to 500 people (I am not just singling out women here, but I am including elderly people), only about 50 MAX have uttered "Thank you".

In retrospect, I realized that some people--in most cases, ladies--have this strange hypothesis (perhaps told them from generation to generation) that they deserve to be offered a seat by men. And, don't get me wrong. I am no chauvinist male. I do believe that ladies are entitled to this kind gesture. But I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that with this kind gesture, a corresponding kindness is likewise expected: simple gratitude. Two 1-syllable words: THANK and YOU. How hard is that to say?

(And, again, do not get me wrong. It's not like us men [or I in particular] do it as a form of anti-feminist act: that is to insinuate that we are the stronger lot and so women should be given the seats to, and not vice-versa. Likewise, it's not like we [or I in particular] do this good deed just to get a "thank you" as "payment". It's nothing like that.)

Look around. Humanity (or simple kindness in general) is slowly evanescing.

1. You enter a mall or your building at work (or perhaps shop at a botique) and what do you do when the security guard greets you good morning? Nothing. You do not even acknowledge his existence. How hard is it to temper on the condescension every once in a while and greet back?
2. You fall in line (or are caught in traffic), and someone seems to take a (long) while to move on, and thus is holding you up. What's two extra minutes of waiting? Do you have loose bowel movement, and you're in dire need to release your shit that you're in such a hurry?
3. Someone approaches you in the street and announces that he/she badly needs to go home to his province, and he/she needs at least twenty pesos from you. Scammers notwithstanding, why do you find it hard to believe his/her situation, and help him/her out? What has so badly fucked up your trust that you cannot seem to bank on other people's words anymore? Personally, I have been "victimized" by scammers, too. And it's really, really sad how because of these people, we cannot seem to trust them anymore...
4. Sarcasm. Is this the only service you offer?

This list could go on. I'm sure you have more to add to this. But bottom line is: what happened to you/us? Has the world been so bad, and has your life fucked you up big time that you seem to shun from good intentions?

What's that Eraserheads song...? Aah. "With a Smile". It has a line that struck me as, sadly, true. "In a world where everybody hates a happy ending story..." Tell me. When was the last time you watched a movie and said, "Eww. That was such overkill. I think the guy should have died. Or the girl should've left him." I rest my case.

The world needs more Mother Theresas. And they need not all be confined in monasteries.

A whole lot of people of today are skeptical or pessimistic, saying that the world has gone sour and that there is absolutely nothing we can do about it anymore...that nothing will make a difference. To that, I say: it need not be us who would enjoy this "kind world" that we dream of. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but at least, we should start somewhere. Back in my university, there was an adage saying "Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?" ("If not now, when?") Strong words. It's never too late, but it's now or never.

You still say chivalry is dead? I say not. I say gratitude and kindness died first. Let's bring it back from the dead.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Metropop, Anyone?

My colleague at work have come up with an original composition entitled "Nasa Iyong Kamay (Ang Tagumpay)" (or Victory Is In Your Hands). It basically "talks" of how in the past, we haven't seen any changes, and that we are all yearning for for a brighter future. And it also says that this future (or this victory) can only be reached if we stopped all the complaining, pointing fingers, and started facing the future with a strengthened committment to integrity, humanity, and excellence.

This song was written/composed in line with our company's corporate values alignment program. (I am proud to claim that I have likewise been part of some of the endeavors to make this take flight!!!) Right now, though, we feel that this also befits the current political situation in our country...and we could put this lovely song to good use.

We were hoping to submit it as an entry to the Metropop, but it seems as though there isn't any this year.

Any takers?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Friendster Request

Is it just me or do at least 60% of the Friendster clientele misunderstand the concept of a "friend request"?

I have about 30+ friends requests as I type this blog. I'm still staring at these people's friendly (others cutie, others odd, others interesting, others nondescript) faces, and I realize... Mother of Christ! I do not know these people!

I don't intend to be mean or condescending or smug. But babies, boys and girls of all ages, I think a friend request was meant for those who are actually friends with each other. At the end of the day, I'd like to see who my friends' friends are...and I mean their *real* friends.

If you'd want me to be your friend (or "or more", as two or three of them boldly declared), I suggest you pick on my brains first. Let's exchange pleasantries (aka BS), get to know each other at least virtually (yeah, like cyber-introductions rock!), make me laugh (be original...I may have heard the joke before), and then let's consequently have dinner, coffee, movie, and sex (whoops...that belonged to a previous blog. Strike that out...or not).

What was that age-old adage again? Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you mine. NYEHEHEHEHE. ;-)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dinner, Movie, Coffee, Sex

An acquaintance posted this blog somewhere:

Dinner, Movie, Coffee, that order. That's how some people define dating. You start out by having dinner then later on watch a movie then afterwards, coffee and if everything goes well, the next step is to have sex. And I would wonder.. what happened to the real dating?

Are we so much in a hurry these days that we have forgotten to stop and know our date well before jumping into bed? Or is it because of the fact that our world has been so competitive that we need to find out sooner than later if things would work out - sexually. If you like the person so much on your first date, would you rather end it with a kiss or with a phallus in your mouth? Would you rather want to find out sexual compatability at an early stage? Should you decide to postpone having sex with your date and decides [sic] to know him better, would this mean that you are risking "sexual compatibility"? And when do you know that there is a "spark"? Is it when you know you are sexually compatible?

If sex is that important, why don't we start skipping dinner, movie and coffee?

This was my reply.

I have, at several occasions stopped at coffee. Not even a kiss. But at certain instances, it was dinner, no movie, no coffee, and then sex. That even saved me movie tickets and caffeine overload.

Did I feel wrong? Well, not really. For me, it's nothing moral or ideal or anything on that line. At this time and age of instant coffee and noodle soup, where everything is Google-able and retrievable with a push of a button, sex proves no exception.

Right now, it is more of just taking things--in this case, a date--in stride: i.e. by letting it take its own sweet course. For me, as long as it isn't forced or maliciously premeditated (ergo, is spontaneous, and a by-product of energy, passion, and strong attraction), I say sex on the first date is actually a good thing...particularly that fleeting moment of awkwardness or self-consciousness when both are at their most vulnerable. I believe, it is at that point when you get a peek at the person's true countenance.

At the end of the day, it's all a matter of preference...and mutual agreement. After all, it takes two to tango.

Monday, July 4, 2005

On Love and...Nothing

When was the last time you fell in love?
Or better yet, when was the last time you fell in love...and felt it was unrequited?

When was the last time you were told you were too unaffectionate?
Or maybe, when was the last time you were VERY affectionate...only to be told that your sweetness makes him/her "nauseated"?

When was the last time you knew that you were ready to settle down?
Or...when was the last time you knew you were ready...but he/she wasn't?

Argh. I hate this feeling. Where's the old Draconian, cold, just-in-it-for-the-game Ben when you need him?

Friday, July 1, 2005

Fitness First...Customers Last

What follows is my miserable experience with the famed health club, Fitness First...particularly this branch in Robinson's Tower in Ayala, Makati.

I emailed the General Manager because of a pressing matter that needed to be addressed promptly, and also because our supposed meeting/discussions with them were kept indefinitely postponed by the incredibly unprofessional staffs.

Last May 20, a membership consultant named Lai paid me a visit in the office, after I mentioned that my company was considering setting up a Corporate plan with Fitness First. I floated the notion that a colleague from HSBC mentioned a fee of P1650/month as corporate plan, and that perhaps my company could also avail of it. She said that she "will discuss the matter with her boss"; she was then here in my office an hour later, with an "informal" proposal in the form of a printout of their flyer. She then started ticking off figures and quoting us with new ones, whose details I will not even outline here. We parted ways with a promise from her that she will come back by the 30th to bring individual contracts, and a reminder that we should all prepare our debit or credit cards, since those are the only means of payment accepted. Needless to say, there was a verbal agreement that this was a done witnessed by three of my colleagues and a receptionist fromFitness. When Lai arrived at her office, she even called me to confirm this yet again.

May 23, Monday afternoon, I sent an email to the whole company offering them this opportunity to join Fitness First. After all, as head of Training and Development, it is my duty to ensure that my colleagues are fit in all possible aspects of their being. It was received across-the-board, i.e. including senior management and branches nationwide. The following day saw a number of interested employees.

May 25, Wednesday, while on an out-of-town conference, I talked to Lai to confirm that we have completed the minimum requirement...ahead of time. She seemed pleased, and we put the phone down on a positive note.

The following day, I received a call from a colleague saying that Lai told her that the membership was not going to be effected until July. I called Lai to clarify this. I was told that this was because of an audit being done on corporate accounts, there was a "silipan" that happened, what with some companies using "fake IDs to pass as company employee", etc. I was flabbergasted; after all, this should not be our concern because all the employees in my roster were legitimate employees of my company. She promised to get back to me after she discussed this with her boss.

From May 26 up to this morning, I have been passed on from a Lai to a Francis, to a Soc, and with other persons named Mike, Carmela, etc. All promised to resolve this...but could not really give any concrete answer.

Soc (Lai's manager) finally told us the "bad news", that apparently, there was a glitch: that the rate quoted to us by Lai was only for HSBC, which has a minimum of THIRTY employees...and that if we stayed with only TEN, we will have to pay a monthly due of P2,100 + a joining fee. This was preposterous, considering most of our existing Fitness First members pay significantly less than that already. Converting to Corporate will only be an idiotic decision. I was even told that Lai was not supposed to be handling corporate accounts, and that she was not aware of the rates that she gave us. By God, this was a major, major error on Fitness' end to have sent someone unqualified. Moreover, a customer/client should not have to pay for a mistake that the service provider has committed.

It was very distressing because it was my good name and reputation that I had put on the line by proposing something like this to the whole company...and that it was the same good name and reputation that was jeopardized because this mistake wasn't rectified. Soc's team had more than sufficient time to rescind such offer. They didn't...until that day I called Lai for clarification. The reason I was given by Soc why she did not know of this matter was because Lai apparently did not tell her until last minute. I was then nonplussed in confirming that Fitness' staffs were offering outrageous rates without the GM's knowledge and/or authorization. Clients like I should not be privy anymore to inappropriate leadership aptitudes such as this. But then again, perhaps this should have been kept in check.

As a highly-qualified trainer of customer service programs, who knows what to expect in any service transaction, I was deeply bothered by how this incident was handled. Fitness First kept giving me half-hearted apologies, and a resolution that wasn't at all catering to us clients...despite my being willing to make adjustments and settlements, just so we could still pursue this company endeavor.

It's been two months. I have since enrolled in Gold's Gym (where I am being well taken care of, and where there are doubtless better--and available--equipment), and still no word from Fitness.

How sad...considering it's such a world-renowned health and fitness club. I've heard loads of horror stories about the club, but that's perhaps due on a different blog. If you have your own stories, holla back and comment.

Oh, last I heard, Soc and Lai were terminated. Like, duh.