Monday, May 17, 2010


Paula and I have this special nickname for Thom. We called him Enteng since the time of our office outing at Enchanted Kingdom, except that there was a storm on the weekend we were supposed to go, and then the following weekend there was a major IT breakdown in the office. We bugged him as usual to follow up with the bosses whether we were still going or what, and of course he ended up being scolded bcoz he was still thinking of the darned outing despite all that was going on. Ha ha ha. Hence, Enteng Kabisote, or EK for Enchanted Kingdom.

The joy of being friends with Thom is that you can torment him like that everyday, the way Paula and I did in the close to four years we all worked together, and he never once lost his patience with us. He drove us around everywhere – to lunch or dinner, going home, for meetings at Ayala Tower or PSE, to the hospital when Paula gave birth, to wakes, to obscure places where we had to line up for hours and hours just to buy some stupid IPO stocks, to Didoy's house in Makati when we raided it before he left for the UK, to his own house when we would do Wii or videoke and he would feed us pasta and chicken. He did our kids' birthday invites and all the AVPs we ever needed for some event or another, played the official photographer at our parties, brought us gifts even on cheesy occasions like Valentine's Day, and always had something for all of us from his travels. And he never forgets to get me something Hello Kitty for my birthday and Christmas.

And despite all of that, Paula and I tormented him everyday, anyway. We teased him about playing in all these sports events in the office but never excelling in anything. We called him PG (patay gutom) bcoz he was always dipping his fingers into whatever we were eating. We got annoyed with him when we walked to the canteen or tiangge or wherever bcoz we couldn't walk one minute without him stopping to talk to somebody about badminton or photography or tree-planting or whatever. And when he brushed his teeth in the afternoon, we knew he was on his way to see Joy and we hooted, “Naks, may kissing scene!” (This meant I get yet another free ride home from him bcoz Joy is my neighbor, and yet I always hooted the loudest, anyway. Ha ha.)

He lost weight when Paula and I left MWC. So then we said he missed us and he was hiyang with our abuses. Ha ha.

The joy of being friends with Thom is that he never even gave me a chance to miss him. Since I left MWC 1.5 years ago, I can't remember a day that he didn't either text or call or email or visit. He's always at my house bringing me and Boots our favorite cashew and garlic from our suki na Ate in the MWSS canteen, lending Ches his badminton manual or whatever, or giving the boys icky toys like spiders and cockroaches (that somehow find their way in my bags and make me scream when I see them right when I'm in the middle of some important/pretentious meeting). He was the absolute best in keeping in touch with old friends that I had to impose a time limit on him: no texting before 6:30 AM coz I'm still asleep, and no calling in my office after 5:30 PM coz then I'm getting all ready to go home. And he violates these rules every single day, anyway.

I cried when he proposed to Joy last year. He and Joy are one of my favorite couples. I warned him I'll never help him out at work anymore if he even considers getting me as a wedding ninang. (I'm not that old.)

I will never forget that New Year's Eve when he texted me that I'm one of the things he will miss most when he leaves MWC. (And here Paula and I are already into our second jobs after MWC, and he's still there. Ha ha ha.) I will never forget how he got teary-eyed when all three of us did not get the promotions we were hoping for, but at my despedida party he shamelessly cried buckets and buckets and called me his one true Ate even if I was really mean to him.

The joy of being friends with Thom is that he showed up on Mothers' Day with two of my favorite pies from Banapple. And he was overjoyed that I got him Crocs from the SLA sale for his birthday, and told me it's enough of a gift for this birthday, Christmas and next year's birthday. But it's nothing compared to the love and friendship that he shows me and my entire family day by day.

Last weekend we finally pushed thru with his long-planned and much delayed photoshoot for the Austria family, complete with kick-ass DSLR, lighting, costume changes, not to mention a full-fledged tantrum from Yoshi. The joy of being friends with Thom is that you end up with a lot of beauteous pictures like these:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Everyday Mothers' Day

Yoshi has this new thing where he keeps showing his full faith and confidence in me, and his super undying love and devotion.

For example, I enroll him in school and invite Bootsie to come along (he always does). Or it could be any other activity that involves me by my lonesome taking charge of the two boys at the same time. Yoshi would never fail to ask, “Are you sure na kaya mo kame i-babysit ni Boots na wala si Daddy?” In this condescending voice that leaves no doubt what he thinks of my motherhood capabilities. So then I go into a tirade over how I carried him and Boots in my tummy for nine whole months and breastfed them for years and years, etc., etc., all by myself, without Daddy's or anyone else's help, blah blah bah. I'm not even into my second sentence and already Yoshi is far gone into his Plants vs. Zombies game and not hearing anything else I say. Groan.

He saw me tinkering with Ches' laptop one time, checking my mail or something. He said, “Wow, Mommy, marunong ka pala mag-computer!” Sheesh. I was too insulted to dignify him with a response and merely rolled my eyeballs at him, big time. Not that my eyeball-rolling ever scared him. He blabbered on, “So, Mommy, you know how to use the Internet? You know about Mozilla Firefox?” Grrr. Just bcoz I don't make a habit of bringing my laptop home and would rather spend my time bonding with my boys than doing Facebook or something, I get accused of being computer illiterate. Ugh.

We try to involve him in all the big events in our lives so he knows that I am leaving SM. He wonders what I would be doing in a pharma company. “Mommy, ikaw ba yung magde-deliver ng medicines sa Watsons and Savemore and Eunilaine?” When I emphatically answer that, no, I will not be the delivery girl, he concludes, “Oh, so you will sell medicines at the counter ...”


He begs me to go on leave one more time to attend his art exhibit for his summer art class. I tell him I would go, on one condition: that he would stop questioning my parental competence and computer literacy and professional skills and over-all to stop being such the villain in my life. He says he doesn't know what I'm talking about, but with his giggles and the sneaky way he smiles, I'm pretty sure he knows exactly what I'm talking about. So we shake hands on it, I go to his art exhibit, and he agrees to be nice.

For now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Roller Coaster

The reason I've been quiet lately is that Ches had an operation and that was a really difficult time but he's recuperating now (thank you, Lord). I also resigned from the office last month, and a lot of very confusing things ensued. First, they didn't want to let me go. And then they offered a consultancy for corporate governance. They also offered positions as either corporate secretary or general counsel of their group of companies engaged in high-end property development or their new REIT company (probably the first ever in the country), or maybe work as family counsel and help out with their succession planning. And then the No. 1 guy in the office had a long and serious talk with me and said it was The Owner herself who gave him marching orders to make me stay. He gave me all sorts of tempting offers, including working with him directly instead of reporting to this person who will never win Miss Friendship in the office (to say the least).

I was tempted to stay just to offend her. It would definitely be a big slap on her face if I changed my mind and stayed all bcoz she wasn't be going to be my boss anymore. And I derived perverse joy out of knowing that the powers in the office were ready to offend her just to make little old me stay. (Yes!) M (one of the people I consider like an Ate in the office) wanted me to stay for the exact same reason, albeit with the disclaimer that this was vengeful and evil and not at all a valid reason to stay. Ha ha.

M also said if I'm the kind of person who's satisfied with an annual hefty salary increase as a form of appreciation for a job well done, then this is the right company for me. And I realized I wasn't that kind of person. (This might come as a surprise to some who know me as mukhang pera and patay gutom, and I don't deny that, but I've known my true self all along.) I prefer the occasional pat on the back or “good job” or “well done”. I'm more shallow than materialistic, I guess. Ha ha.

A lot of people have raised serious doubts about the wisdom of my decision to resign. Pops talked about a rolling stone gathering no moss, and was incredulous that I could give up the biggest conglomerate in the country for an obscure little pharma company. Mon kept shaking his head and stressing that even Ayala could not keep up with my current office. He said he will take on my job, collect my impressive paycheck, and find a good hobby. (Meaning, I'm just bored and being flighty. Ouch.) To his credit, Regina (who stands to be most affected by all of this since he's my one and only manager in the office) tried very hard to be rational and supportive to the end, until I asked him for his honest opinion, and by the end of that day he still wasn't finished enumerating the 60 million reasons why I should stay.

I could tell everyone that the salary and benefits and the whole prestige and glory of working as a VP for what is hands-down the biggest and most successful Philippine company today were actually the easiest parts to give up. I was never the kind of person who got off on titles and big names, anyway. What made me think twice about leaving were all the little things – the view of the Manila Bay sunset from my window, riding with Ches to and from work, being right beside Mall of Asia, the staff who are always smiling at me and joke with me in the CR, the guards who never fail to open the door for me no matter how many times in a day I gallivant around the office. What almost convinced me to stay was the thought that, if I did, then I wouldn't be abandoning Regina and Lani (my beloved secretary).

So the past two weeks have been an unbelievable roller coaster ride. I changed my mind everyday. I changed my mind twice a day. In the morning I was 100% sure of staying, and by afternoon I was dead set on leaving everything behind. I consulted Jon, Paula, Thom, Sherry, Chris and M everyday, and I'm grateful for their time and concern and wisdom. It got to the point where I asked Jon to just make the decision for me and I'll go along with whatever he chooses. (I figured a guy who tops the Bar at 93% - or something like that – could not go wrong.) Ches, Regina, Lani and I also drew lots, and it was only Regina who, true to his sentiment, drew for me to stay.

Needless to say, I have been crying and crying. Even Ches, who has always known me to be a crybaby, was amazed that the slightest thing could set me off and I never seem to run out of tears.

In the end, I just prayed over it. After all, as Ches pointed out, it's a win-win situation for me, whatever I decide. If I stayed, I'd be able to keep my slacker lifestyle and friends in the office, and what's more, I'd be a little more appreciated this time, bcoz they knew I could actually bolt out of there any moment like I already threatened to. If I moved, despite all the uncertainties that a new job brings, I could be sure of a few things: (1) that, as Thom pointed out, I would get to sleep a few more hours in the morning because – drum rolls, please – the new office is only 10 minutes away from our house, (2) the CEO puts smileys in his emails and goes to Mass everyday before he takes his lunch (a person like that couldn't be so bad), (3) my prospective new boss says the office is wiped out of employees by 5:30 PM, and (4) Ches will get the new SUV that is part of the offer. (Ha ha ha.) Like Eycee said, it's a good dilemma to have. It's definitely a lot better to deal with than if the bosses had told me, “Oh. Good riddance. We were about to fire you, anyway”.

I just feel that it is time to move on. I felt this bcoz, despite all the fuss that my current office made over my resignation, to the extent that The Owner herself got directly involved (and this was definitely something I never would have expected), despite the tempting deal they offered – it didn't make me feel happy to stay. I told Ches, maybe I was just really so unhappy already that what should have been a no-brainer, a David and Goliath kind of fight, was not and became, instead, a heart-wrenching tug-of-war. I just couldn't bring myself to tell the new office I changed my mind and am staying at my current job. Paula said she felt the same sense of loyalty to her new company – they, after all, offered her a way out when she was desperately looking for one.

I guess, only time will tell if I made the right decision or not. I do realize that this has the potential of being the worst mistake I've ever made. But I guess I just have to deal with it.

I have no ill feelings towards my current company or even any of the people there. I've made some really good friends there, too. I'm also sad that it didn't work out, that it seems it just wasn't for me. I have no regrets joining them, and have always felt pride and honor working for them. I'm thankful that the Corporate Governance Scorecard results came out in the same week I resigned, and all four of the companies I handled leaped from scores of 67% to 73% before I joined, to 90% when I did their Scorecards. That's a good enough legacy, I guess. I'd like to believe it shows I was able to accomplish something in the one and a half years I was with the company, slacker lifestyle and all. It was good enough to make my bosses and the owners ask me to stay, anyway.

Goodbye and thank you, SM. You've still got it all.

(All except me, I guess ...)