Testing one’s Loyalty

 

734936_564930960202099_1800640581_nMy beloved Lakers, as of the date of this posting, are on a funk.

 

I just watched them go down to the Denver Nuggets (with no actual superstar, maybe Andre Iguodala) 112 to 105, at home. Even with a monster 20-20 game from Dwight.

 

But you know what, they’re still my team. No matter what happens, I’m still a Laker fan. I’d like to say that I have been since I was a kid, but no. During the 90’s I was a Bulls kid. Guess that what you call growing-up, loyalty comes in the package.

 

So does that mean that if you’re not loyal, you’re not yet grown-up? I have mo definite idea.

 

Look at the generations that came before us. People are retiring from companies they have been in since they graduated from college (or to some, since they had to work because they could not afford to attend college). Some of these people retired from that company without even becoming a supervisor. Loyalty, right there. But in one of those many network marketing (networking) sessions I have attended, one speaker brought another light to this scenario. He was a guy whose family owned one of the premiere department store/groceries here in the Philippines (think Nordstrom in the Philippine setting) and he was stating it to stress a point that we should all just leave our jobs and go into networking (yeah, right). He was alluding to their company’s recent awarding of loyalty awards to employees. There was one who had been with them for 30 years, and what did she get? Some cash and a damn watch. She spent her life serving their company, making them richer, and all they gave her for her loyalty was cash and a watch. Loyalty rewards.

 

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the fastest growing industry in the Philippines, well according to my opinion at least (I work for a BPO company). It has helped corporations in the USA and Europe to keep themselves stable by cutting down on some expenses (particularly salaries). It has given Filipinos high consumable income (in the Philippines at least). It has also fueled the real estate boom in this country. The turnover rate for employees of these companies are also very high especially in the call centers. And it’s greatly accepted that some offer retirement benefits in as short as 10 or even 5 years. Here loyalty is not the mantra, but rather the money. I swear during the 4 years i stayed with my previous work (a local bank) people always told me that I was with that company a very long time. What loyalty?

 

I’m loyal to my sports teams. The Lakers, the Yankees, the Steelers, The Talk n’ Text Tropang texters, and the San Beda Red Lions. But what do I get from them really? Will they give me some cash and a watch? Will they give me a high salary? No, they just give me elation when they win.

 

Is loyalty just overrated nowadays? Or is it still a regal thing to do? All I know is that I’ll keep rooting for the Lakers this season and only stop if on the way to the championship they’ll get eliminated.

Peace šŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The great equalizer

Basketball. Yep, good ‘ol pick-up basketball.

After having to deal with various (and painful) wounds in my feet (at the same time!), I finally found myself back in the village’s basketball court to play with my neighbors.

You literally get to see people from all walks of life in the same court. Like today, there was me the bank credit analyst, a graduate of very good private schools in the country, starting my MBA studies in a week. Then there’s the guy who has 3 kids, no stable income, never even got to college. There’s a guy (the biggest of us all) still supposed to be in high school but acts like if he has been a man for about 10 years yet still hides from his mom when he smokes a cigar. Then there’s a guy older than me but has a mind and body structure of a dimwitted teenager (plays like a 10 year old to boot).

We play with each other as equal basketball players, cancelling out our social statuses. Here you forget about the risk ratings you have to render, you forget that you cannot buy milk for you three young kids, you forget that you cannot get into a decent college, you forget that you are already very old. Here a guy that can’t even read properly can call the analyst as “bobo” (stupid in Filipino). Here the dimwitted old guy can make a big shot and be celebrated by his peers. Here the analyst can actually use his size and strength (yeah, I have those too) to get his job done.

You see it everywhere. Not just basketball, but in all of sports. It brings people together.

Peace šŸ˜‰

(I do not own that picture up top. Those are not us playing ball).

The Potato Chip and the Tall Man

I am not really complaining, just thought it was sort of funny and ironic.

One faithful night, I was watching Mega Factories (I think) in National Geographic and this episode was featuring the Frito Lays factory during the fourth of July crunch. They showed how those delectable potato chips are made from the selection of prime potatoes, peeling, cutting, frying, seasoning and packing.

I was impressed by the efficiency of their factory line. I was also drawn to how meticulous their system is to providing just the best chips for the American people. Somewhere during the process, a machine selects chips that have been fried and have some dark spots in it takes it out of the line to prevent it from being packed. The supervisor that was facilitating the tour of the factory picks up a potato chip, round and without any burnt marks, and declares it “a perfect potato chip.” Wow.

This past week, during my hiatus from work, I bought some Lays potato chips for me to consumeĀ preferablyĀ while watching TV. I open a bag, dig in to the luscious chips, and about the fifth chip I pick from the bag has a burn mark on it. I immediately remember the what I watched in National Geographic about how these are supposed to have been picked out of the line. Needless to say I finished the whole bag (they are still the best commercial potato chips) and saw quite a number of chips with burn marks.

I live in the Philippines. I bought that bag of Chips here in the Philippines. That bag was markedĀ Export .Ā So it seems that what was not acceptable to be sold to Americans (probably to prevent having to throw some otherwise perfect potato chips) were packed for export to other countries. Like the Philippines.

So being the informative fellow that I am, I tell this story to my colleague at work. She responds with “Baliktad eh no? Pag nag-export tayo yung pinakamaganda lang.” (It’s different from us, right? When we export we only send the best quality products.)

What’s funny and ironic about this is that here in the Philippines, when we say export quality (such as mangoes, pineapples, tuna and what-not) are the best of the bunch, picked meticulously in-line with the foreigners preferences. I commend the American thinking that only the best be given to their people while also commend the Philippine attitude of only giving the best quality to other people.

Come to think of it, this can be traced to the Philippines’ affinity to the American culture, that thingsĀ ImportedĀ from them is good for us. Hey, it’s business.

This can be also viewed in terms of Sports. The world’s best basketball league, features stalwarts such as 3-time NBA MVP Lebron James and 2010 FIBA World Basketball MVP Kevin Durant no name a few. But they also have the best players of other countries such as Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Ricky Rubio, and Yi Jianlian (hell even Hamed Haddadi of Iran). Only the best can play in the USA.

But what do all of us do? Players from the USA that weren’t quite good enough to play inĀ the NBA travel overseas because they know that foreign teams would still be ecstatic to have them play for their teams. Some are even naturalized so they can play for that country’s national team. The Philippines is one such country. We have a Marcus Douthit. Former draft pick by the Lakers, decided to Play in Europe, was once again courted by the Lakers but was cut. He played in the D-League and Foreign countries and had a fairly decent if not good career. Now he is an integral part of the Philippines Mens Basketball team.

Every year, the country’s professional basketball league the PBA adds imports to beef-up the rosters of teams and add some flair into the league. This past conference, it was highlighted by the two best imports Denzel Bowles (named best import but has not played in the NBA yet) and Donell Harvey (who was signed by different NBA teams but never really played any significant minutes).

I don’t hate America. I just find it funny that we Filipinos generally embrace the American culture so much that we forget that mostly what we get from them are things (or players) they deemed not good enough for their standards. Be it the Lays potato chips or Marcus Douthit.

I do not own any of the pictures in this post.

Peace šŸ˜‰

My special day

I was watching the Da Vinci Code for about the Fourth time (I think), just passed through it while surfing channels (I have read the book twice) and the scene where Langdon was explaining to Sophie what the Priory of Scion was protecting got my attention an intrigue. The part where hundreds of Knights Templar were arrested and killed throughout France during October 13, 1307, a Friday. Of course Sophie immediately alluded to the famed “Friday the 13th” legend. When I saw this, I immediately Googled the date “October 13” and found out that a lot of things happened during this day, just on different years. On a whim I also made a search of my Birthday, December 27.

Of course a lot of events happened during this date like the assasination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007, the death of Gustave Eiffel (the iconic Eiffel tower) in 1923, and the establishment of the World Bank (consequently I work for a bank, hmm) in 1945. But the specific date I was interested in is the exact date of my birth, 1985.

Through this siteĀ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_27Ā andĀ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985#DecemberĀ I found out that on my Birthday a group of Abu Nidal terrorists opened fire in the airports of Rome and Vienna killing 18 and inuring 120, and Dian Fossey (an American Naturalist) was found murdered in Rwanda.

Dian Fossey

I share the same birthday with 3 athletes: Logan Bailly, a Belgian Goal Keeper who plays for the Belgian club Genk (my favorite football player is Iker Casillas of Spain, Goal Keeper);

Logan Bailly

Jerome d’ Ambrosio a Belgian (Belgians, really?)Ā F1 driver who is a test driver of the Lotus F1 Team (I used to be a big F1 buff);

Jerome d’Ambrosio

and Paul Stastny an NHL Center for the Colorado Avalanche (I used to love NHL when the New Jersey Devils were making their championship runs back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s).

Paul Stastny

Dwight Howard, my favorite NBA Player was born December 8, 1985, just missed it.

And when I was born, Harry Hopman (Australian Tennis Player and the man who the Hopman Cup was named after) died of a heart attack.

Harry Hopman

Who knows, maybe someday this I could factor in a search of that specific date.

((I do not own the video or any of the pictures. Peace ;))

Basketball? Or Football, Soccer, Association football (whatever)?

I’ve heard about this, a million times (okay, that’s exaggerating a bit).Ā Basketball should not be the Philippines’ favorite sport.

Some people think that we should not put too much time and favor on this sport that requires height, strength, and skill to win because well we are a nation that’s not too tall or strong enough to compete with world #1 USA (a team that said would feature in the upcoming 2011 Olympics NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant, 2-time MVP Lebron James, Ā 5-time NBA Champion and past MVP Kobe Bryant to name a few). That the focus should be on Football, a sport that our South East Asian neighbors thrive in.

Should we?

Height means a lot in basketball, let’s admit it. I know this to be true. But sometimes wit and skill can give a shorter player an advantage on other taller players. But, you may ask, what if you have to contend with a tall skilled player? Then, more likely than not, you are against the USA or world # 2 Spain which means you are screwed.

Look at our national team. We need a naturalized player in Douthit just to give us some teeth in terms of height. Not to deride the man’s skills but the main reason he’s playing for the Philippines because he’s not good enough for his home country. There have always been injections of Fil-Am’s (Filipino-Americans) in these teams, the latest were Lutz and Lassiter, since these people bolster the team by having the some semblance of height and strength of Americans while having the skill and heart of the Filipinos.

Our built are said to be more suitable for a sport that does not require height and strength but rather speed and cunning, skills we definitely have. That would be football, or soccer.

How did we Filipinos develop this crazy love for basketball? Maybe the fact that America ruled the country as a colony in the early 1900’s and developed the game by establishing various YMCA’s in the country. As the years grew, the love for American culture, which of course includes the NBA (the most popular league in the world, LAKERS!!!), cultivated this to the frenzy it is now. Probably also, the early success of the national teams (being the best in Asia, winning a bronze medal in the 1954 world championships, a fifthe place finish in the 1936 Berlin Olympics) added fuel to this flame.

But since then? Our strongest finished have been 4th place finished in Asia. Asia sucks when compared to Europe and Americas anyway so that means nothing. Oh, we dominate South East Asian basketball, although our competitors probably do not even care that much. But we still love the sport. Our passion for the game has even led Harper’sĀ MagazineĀ editor and Fulbright scholar Rafe Bartholomew to right a book about it entitled:Ā Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Love Affair with Basketball.Ā A picture of kids ballin’ in the flood became viral.

So should we drop our reverence for basketball and instead focus on football? I mean, look at the PBA, it is dominated by half-breeds. Oh, wait! So is our football team the Azkals! Hmmm. In fact, the national team for basketball has more full-blooded Filipinos than the Azkals, and what’s the result? The basketball team is ranked # 45 in the world (according toĀ http://www.fiba.com/pages/eng/fc/even/rank/p/openNodeIDs/943/selNodeID/943/rankMen.html) while the Azkals are a lowly # 148 in the world (http://www.fifa.com/worldranking/rankingtable/index.html). The closest national team with a world ranking of # 55 in the world (http://www.irb.com/rankings/full.html) is another team of half-breeds, the Philippine Volcanoes.

So maybe, for now, the praise we give for basketball is correct. Maybe football fever will actually grip the country even if the players are not entirely debonair looking but actually skilled and know how to play as a team. But still please do root for out national teams and support athletes from other disciplines as well. Peace šŸ˜‰