Saturday, January 31, 2009

Business Time

There's a lot to think about in Manila, between the scores of slums, shanty towns, and the numerous Beverley Hills style shopping centres. It's a city w/ an oceanic disparity between the haves and the nots. It's a city which is embarrassingly 3rd world considering that there was a time when everyone was debating whether Japan or the Philippines would become the asian super power.

It's a city where Chinese people are 1/3 of the population, but handling 80% of its commerce (don't quote me on that stat). And my family is proof of the statistic, since i have many relatives who are business owners and entrepreneurs, doctors and dentists.

Here, my family lives in the roughest,slummiest part of town, where they've been for generations. it's far from posh, but big enough for 4 bedrooms, and with enough garage/parking space to accommodate the three shiny SUVs.

Meeting family members and friends who are business people, i am reminded that business people are often focused on making money, and statusq's disapproval of the money scheme surely shouldn't enter the equation.

for example: the bakery has signed lucrative contracts baking buns for Jollibee hamburger chain, Burger King, AND McDonalds. My family runs a pig farm. I met people who have just opened a chinese car dealership. I got to know a friend who works promoting chicken sales (and i couldn't keep my mouth shut about factory farmed chicken conditions). i spoke with a friend who was stoked on her relatively new job with Nestle, and who had never heard of Nestle's deplorable and lethal promotion of their milk formula in Africa.

The last woman asked me about my own employment, which i answered and added that in fact i don't particularly support private education, but it's the best way for me to be in China now.

i acknowledged that particularly in the Philippines, it could be harder to find ethical jobs. Then i reflected on the kinds of things me and my friends do to earn some coin, and came up with the following:

school teachers
artists, writers, photographers, musicians,
graphic designers
computer programmers/technicians (some helping promote open source, others focussed on NGOs).
working for the NDP
dance teachers
yoga teachers
SelfDesign learning consultants
drug counselors, career counselors, at-risk youth counselors
personal counselors/psychiatrists
organic food entrepreneurs
TCM practitioners
environmental scientists (inevitably working for oil companies, haha)
dentists, nurses

Anyhow, it got me thinking about what a rad gang of people i know. Good to know you all (even if yr career didn't hit the list, sorry 'bout that). Who knows what life would be like if all my buds were working for Nike or Walmart or Phillip Morris.

Friday, January 30, 2009

This Little Piggy Went to Market

My family owns a pig farm in the outskirts of Manila, and i went out for a tour.

i know that pigs in some factory systems are treated WAY worse than these buggers, but parts of the deal here in Manila are still pretty sad.

Here's some tidbits for you.

Boars for breeding have wonderfully large testicles.

They are led to the jack off area, where some in heat females are hanging out, to get the pheromone action going. After a a few sessions, the males become accustomed to hopping on the humping apparatus, and dig it. they will release 12+ oz of pig jizz to announce their satisfaction.

The females are inseminated w/ swirl-tipped sexy plastic tubes.

Pregnant sows get stuck in small cages so they can only sit or stand, but can't turn around. this is so that they don't burn off too many calories working out. Growing pudgy pig fetuses get dibs on calories.

Baby pigs are born. They are very cute.

They suckle their mama's teats, while she remains immobilized in a tiny cage. The mothers look disturbingly comatose, lying there while their babies rollick and roll and squabble over available nipples.

It's sad to think that the miracle of birth is only a step on the path to a life of fattening up and slaughter for these creatures. Minimal slaughter takes place on the farm, mostly just for sick pigs who get viruses or unsaleable for other reasons. Those little piggies cried wah wah wah all the way to the incinerator. (actually they're killed first, and their meat is tested for usability).

The piggery is also undergoing hard times, due to recent bizarrely fluctuating prices of feed, oil, fuel, etc. 4000 pigs may wind up destitute if things shut down.

Also, i learned that 2 years ago, the pig farm workers formed a union, which also almost sunk the operation. most staff ended up jobless, and now the union takes on most of its workers for 5.75 months maximum in order to allay increased worker rights. Which is pretty shitty, but unemployment is so high in the Philippines that it almost sounds generous to give more people a shake.

Here in the Philippines, vegetarianism and environmentalism are little understood, so i've been explaining myself repeatedly. i'm happy to learn a lot more about the meat industry side of the equation, but surprise, surprise, i am happy as ever to essentially be veg. Even if i have noticed that i'm skinnier than usual. Yuck.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Beach Days

Took off for a few days in Bohol, a beach town. along w/ 19 other members of the originally scheduled honeymoon trip. i admit i prefer my beach trips to be of the laid back variety, as opposed to the jam-packed itinerary type (especially considering my underslept state), but it was still a nice outing.

i was being encouraged to try scuba diving by several family members. My brother had previously explained how amazing it is to be in the fish's world with them. And of course it could be an awesome experience.


i never really felt the pull.

Plus i came up with reasons to further justify my feeling.

i'm aspiring to simplify my life, and an expensive hobby which requires multiple modes of transportation, expensive cumbersome hi-tech equipment, and lots of prep doesn't quite fit my bill. Also, scuba diving requires know-how, and even experienced divers can be plunged into life-threatening situations, as several of my own family members have experienced. So i decided that swimming with a snorkel would be good enough for me.

Until someone commented, "You should try everything once," and i figured that was also sound advice. Plus i was noticing a lot of ego issues in my No Scuba Diving pitch.

so after a rather un-thorough training session, i went under, 20 feet or so. it was pretty calm feeling down there, and sinking down past underwater cliffs is pretty amazing. A bunch of tropical fish went about their daily errands.

Later on in the day, i went snorkeling, which i found equally (or more) wonderful, and saw lots more multi-coloured sea creatures. A huge school of little silver fish would swim right around you, which was pretty magical.

That night i drank with my cousin's and some guys from the dive shop. i was rather aggressively encouraged to drink, and unfortunately did so. Which was (i assume) still quite fun, though i did end with MAJOR memory gaps, whereupon i was informed to my disbelief that i was dancing in the bar, swearing a lot, and that i jumped in the ocean twice on the way bk to the hotel.

Then my cousins showed me cell phone videos of me acting quite inebriated. i may possibly post them when they send them to me.

thankfully i wasn't being a jerk or anything.

Also, i got a sunburn. the end.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Typical Holiday

I'm in the Philippines. My fam lives in the slum district, which is a-ok. i go out on my own in the days sometimes. Maybe i just swelter in the heat and take breaks in air-conditioned shopping districts. Maybe i'm learning about the multiple reasons why weddings can and should be called off. Maybe i'm just supporting the individual who's dealing with all the aftermath of annulled said relationship. Maybe i'm busy listening to someone who is so wonderfully happy that i know anything about the end of the Mayan calendar or the paladians. Or maybe i'm stumbling into an illicit drama or 2 which should never be mentioned publicly. Or none of the above.

For the moment... i think life is alright.

Take care, everyone.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Brief Migration South

Today i'm off to the Philippines to visit some family. Originally i decided to go when invited out for my cousin's wedding. Then i was asked to be the best man. No prob. It was gonna be quite massive. Like possibly 800 people. But then a couple wks ago, the wedding was canceled. Drama and more drama, no doubt.

But me and many other friends and relatives all have our tix booked, so will still have a visit, including the original Honeymoon trip to beach island, Bohol.

My mom has warned me about family drama and politics, so we'll see how crazy it is when i get there.

Anyhow, i'll get a couple wks of 30 degree weather, before trying to figure out how to kill the last 2 wks of the break. Time off has become a challenge for me, since i've been struggling w/ loneliness, inactivity, and a lack of solid friends. i'm working on that; but maybe not in the best way conceivable. More on this later, maybe.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Up Down Up Down

Well, after a few spasms of fury last week, i had a pretty fun, chill and productive weekend which involved more mandarin practice with a language partner, scantily clad dancing ladies, revamping my friends art school app, beer and pizza, and meeting a woman who apparently "loves all foreigners because she wants to leave China."

Point being that i think if i can manage to keep myself socially active, things seem a-ok.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2009 Predictions?

Well it could be a fucking intense year.
So my brother and i postulate.
'Cause in the 1st weeks things have been very very intense for many people we know.
News like major break ups, drama, miscommunications, realizations, friends' paralysis, Gaza trauma...

I was scheduled to be the best man at my cousin's wedding this month, but the wedding's been suddengly canceled because some apparently illicit information has been revealed...

I have strangely turned into the most reclusive and antisocial staff member at my school, spending too much time plotting ways to avoid dining with my coworkers.

Punching too many walls, and nursing swollen knuckles.

Feeling too pissed off about things i have no right to be pissed off about.

I can only imagine what life is like for people who have real problems.

ps. i try not to blog about this sort of shit too much, 'cause it seems so whiney and adolescent.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

As Good As The Real Thing

The other night i dreamed that amid a complicated set of circumstances, i was by myself snorting chunks of coke that came out of a joint.

And the sensation of being in a hyper altered state was so vivid and realistic, i feel like i got my fix in real life.

This dream was so realistic that in my f'ed up dream state, of course the cops came along, wanting to say hello.

and the Oh Shit panic and trying to inconspicuously toss the illicit materials far away from your person. and subsequently returning to the scene later to unbelievingly actually find the ejected illicit materials. What luck! what a dream! Cause hey, you can't arrest a guy for dreaming, can you? Even in China, haha.