Friends & Networks

Meeting my Asian tech siblings (Day -1 of Mekong ICT Camp)

It was a great pleasure to meet with tech siblings from various parts of Asia last night. It was already 12:30 am by my machine clock (which remains set to +8 timezone) but I didn’t feel any sign of enervation from my long day (I had waited over an hour at the long queue for the Suvarnabhumi Airport passport control and spent another hour walking here and there at the exit area to look for peeps assigned to fetch me).

Look who these tech siblings I met were: Klaikong, Bobby, Andy, Allen, Sam, and Wai. After taking dinner at 9pm, the gang met at the Santi Room in about half an hour. The only thing (but not necessarily the easy one) discussed was the schedule. Bobby started the ball rolling by proposing that the Mekong ICT Camp be hewed to the Asiasource camp setup: All tracks in the morning, all breakout sessions in the afternoon. (Images of Allen Gunn and Tactical Tech peeps came to mind.)

Colleagues were fastidious; I wasn’t. I’m sure they observed so. Honestly, I came to the camp solely for the Track 3: Computer Networking. I was particularly concerned on how that track (where there will be only 7 participants [out of 60 plus]) would turn out. My silent attitude was: “Just get it over with and let me proceed with developing my module on wired networking.”

Nevertheless, I was still pleased to meet with these techie guys (I feel sad that there were no techie gals) and beating brains out while peeling, biting, chewing and swallowing sweet-smelling Thai oranges.

Virtual beer for the soul

“Want a beer?”

This invite from friend Arnold T. has been sitting in the queue of requests on my Facebook account. In fact, I also got a couple of “booze mails” already which I just ignored (sorry to friends who sent them) and failed to send virtual drinks to others as a way to “pay it forward”.

But that invite from Arnold is still there. I just feel amused at the sight of his avatar. He looks like a genius monk (baldheaded and wearing eyeglasses) with the neck of a bottle of Red Horse touching his forehead. That reminds me of my personality back in my college days. I was a person who could not last being a religious person in the midst of a mundane world of Quiapo, where MLQU was located. Love for beer and company of barkada, the very precursors of over-indulgence, were the main factors why I couldn’t even pretend to be like an ascetic. I have to admit that I was heavily influenced by fellas (some of them better off) to get hooked to mundane stuff like being in drink binges. I also have to admit that, in turn, I was an influence to others my junior.

The only consolation I had (for failing to be a faith worker) back then was my being a social activist. I spent two years in college (and then many years in my NGO work since then) being part of the larger community that wanted real better change in society. Guilt of not loving God eloped me from then on.

The love for beer extended to my being part of the country’s labor. Over ten years ago, I made it a habit to frequent a jazz bar in Malate after work, drinking at least four bottles of San Miguel Beer pale pilsen. Sometimes I did it with co-workers, sometimes I did it alone. (I developed love for jazz along with my addiction to drinking.)

I tend to believe that drinking beer with your clique is both a social function and a personal pleasure. It eases tension accrued from work and at the same time reinforces one’s sense of belongingness. But (and this is a big but), when done on a frequent basis and in an excessive manner, the social and personal functions turn into life’s dysfunctions, like work tardiness and health problems.

This is a hard lesson I got from decades of making romance with beer. I guess that my being a father since 1998 has also contributed to my dwindling passion for it. I’ve had to scrimp on my hard-earned money to ensure steady provision for my family. That means that I only drank (or threw drink parties) when there were reasons to celebrate like my kids’ first birthdays and baptismals. And the last of the factors is my health. Predisposed as I am to heart and liver diseases, I have to fight off the temptation to engage in a (heavy) drink now that I’ve already reached 40. (They say life begins at 40.)

Last week, I was able to track KSA-based Larry W., my best pal during my third and fourth years in college, through Friendster. He had been my great influence when it comes to drinking lots of beer like it would run out of supply tomorrow and forever. He asked me over email to see him in December this year and engage in a binge like we did in college. I kiddingly said yes.

OK now. I just ignored Arnold T’s beer invite just because he did it in the spirit of Octoberfest. It’s already November now. But perhaps, when I get another round of virtual booze requests from him and other Facebookers, I’d just oblige. Because, however vicarious, virtual drinks taste like food for the souls of the physically-challenged beer lovers.

Superpoke, lotto, TV trivia: Getting by endless Facebook requests

If you’re on Facebook, the image you’re seeing must be familiar to you. I mean, if you’re hooked to Facebook like you’re using it to have fun with your friends, then, the image must look common to you.

That image is a snapshot of the requests I’ve gotten so far from several of my Facebook friends, most of which I dunno how to respond to, honestly. I’ve signed up with Facebook because I believe in its power to maintain contact with my friends through updates in our personal and professional lives. But to join lotto, answer TV show trivia, or accept a growing gift is beyond me at this point.

Is it my age (I’m 40 now), just my priorities, or the tedious process of accepting invites and then inviting others to an application or cause? I’m not closing doors, though. I’m taking it as a challenge. I guess Facebook will grow on me gradually. Perhaps, I should accept the “define-me” request so that I could know from my friends their views of me. Wet blanket? Old dog? Wallflower?

But I thought that FB is a simple networking site. It’s getting complicated with lots of notifications and requests from the growing number of my friends. I’m sure some of them (who also receive “unsolicited” requests from me, actually) feel the same way.

Nevertheless, I still consider FB as a great apps and content aggregating tool, a venue showcasing programmers’ talents, and a medium that facilitates exchange of pleasantries among friends, whether in groups or networks.

In the meantime, I think I’ll accept the “gift poke” invitation. It sounds interesting. And that “superpoke” thing sounds deadly, doesn’t it?

Angels without wings

My daughter Dea Hannah is already 5 years old now. And I’m grateful to loved ones and colleagues who extended their help, without which it would be impossible for me to minister to my wife and daughter when they were in hospital. Brace yourself for the rather long list:

  • Ninong Maning Q, who gave me his committed financial support at the time I needed it already. He himself went to the hospital despite his own problem with his son, who was also in a hospital for viral infection.
  • AJ, who, from out of her resolve to still have me at a major work activity that coincided with Lea’s delivery, had Lorna B switch roles with me for one day: She to assist Lea at the hospital, me to participate in the activity (as a resource person). Indeed, I only realized about this possibility with AJ’s resourceful mind. “Let’s help each other Dong,” were her words that ran true during the last weekend.
  • Lorna, my kumare who accommodated me when I needed her help to facilitate my financial benefits like an emergency loan. Of course, I’m more grateful to her because she pitched in to assist Lea while I was in our activity.
  • Clea, my kumare who prioritized preparation of my check for an emergency loan.
  • Junjun, who brought me my salary advance early in the morning of Saturday. I used the money to buy milk, diapers and feeding bottle for Dea Hannah.
  • Goddie, who helped me prepare PhilHealth-related documents (certification and previous contributions) required by the hospital for deductions from my bill.
  • Bubong, who brought me the documents prepared by Goddie and assisted me in preparing my wife and daughter in going home.
  • Brothers-in-law Vardy and Niel, who brought our kids to and from the hospital.
  • Nanay Nora (our house help) and mother-in-law Ma Maneng, who took care of our kids at home.

I’m also grateful of distant loved ones and friends who sent their best wishes for our new angel. They were not with us physically, but their prayers and good thoughts helped a lot.

I felt that everything that happened last week was God’s handiwork. He let me survive the challenges that came my way. It’s as if He sent unwinged angels to see me through. I felt like a favored soul here on earth, thinking that there are other people who are much more needy than me. I’d like to pay it forward by being an angel to friends who’ll need the same help I needed and had.

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