I Highly Recommend the Novel Bel Canto

“You love music, eh?” Muhammad asked me in a voice so low that for a second I thought he was a lion. So I, trying very hard to suppress a smile advised him to maybe stop roaring like a lion and instead start talking like the big man that he is. I wasn’t at all surprised when he erupted into a laugh that was reminiscent to a volcanic eruption less of course the ashes and the lava. You see, I’ve known Muhammad for a very long time now and he is the kind of guy who loves to laugh. He somehow finds everything around him to be funny and he makes it his responsibility to laugh at everything that others don’t normally find humorous.

I shall never forget that moment when he asked me the question because at that time he also gave me a magnificent book that completely modified my perception of life, love and music. The book became my most prized possession for the duration of a week, which was the length of time it took me to read the entire novel. I read it while riding a jeepney on my way to the university. I read it in our classroom while waiting for the professor to arrive. I read it on a bench in Burnham Park while my girlfriend sat beside me, obviously jealous that the attention she was supposedly getting was being wasted on a book.

This book I’m referring to is Bel Canto, a novel so well written b y Ann Patchett that it has bagged numerous awards including the Pen Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize. These well-deserved recognitions alone are a true testament to the beauty of Bel Canto.
“Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice-president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening-until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion…and cannot be stopped.”

I remember the night when I finished reading the last chapter. I was in my room digesting the novel’s last words while unread accounting books and unaccomplished homework lay scattered on my desk. I admit this was among the very few times wherein I preferred reading fiction than school textbooks. I have always believed that fiction books are a waste of time. Fortunately, Bel Canto came my way and proved that belief wrong. I came to realize that textbooks merely guide us to the path to the life we wanted to live while fiction tells us exactly how to live that life. Textbooks are nothing but maps. Fictions, on the other hand are the roads we take, the highways we drive through and the road signs we read. In the end, it’s not how we pick the roads that matter. Instead it’s how we ride through them and how hard we burn the tires.

One of Bel Canto’s most enduring mark is it’s honest and in-your-face message of love. Although at times the scenarios border within comedic and sometimes impractical, you wouldn’t care much about them because after all it’s love. And love works that way. It’s comedic, impractical, ridiculous, embarrassing, and unacceptable all at the same time.

Every page of the book is teeming with affection. No, it’s overflowing in fact. This is of course a very good thing because once again a novel has proven the truth that love breaks all boundaries and makes all walls non-existent. It is not impossible for a fish to fall for and marry a bird. Scales and feathers aren’t much of an issue when you are in love.

Love is free. It won’t cost you anything unless of course if you play and mess with it. I messed with love for quite a few times in the past and in the process got some girl’s heart broken. I regret it very much of course but there is nothing that can fix the thing, is there? No. I know because I got my heart broken too by some girl I’ve been with for a few months. We were talking one day when she told me she needed some space. And that completely ended the relationship. I’m not blaming her because before I met her I’m still recovering from telling a girl the same thing. Honestly, I don’t understand the concept behind or what “need some space” means. Whoever invented the expression probably didn’t understand it either.

And music, yes. Who would write about Bel Canto without delving into music, which the novel explores in a very romantic manner? Music sometimes is revolutionary; political but 99% of the time it’s romantic. Anything that is romantic makes people crazy. And I’m one of those people.
One major reason that I’m so drawn into the novel is the fact that I’m a die-hard music enthusiast. Music composes a great slice of my daily life. It’s built into my system. I eat my breakfast while listening to a Coldplay cd. I go to sleep only when my favorite radio dj said good night. And I’m officially a member of the “head phoned people” tribe. This last one brought me into a lot of trouble but I didn’t care. Why should I? I still have my music and am enjoying it with utmost pleasure. Believe me, walking down the street while “Bittersweet Symphony” is playing is the sweetest thing.

The excitement of listening to a brand new song from my favorite artist/artists is priceless. I would close my eyes, turn the volume up and just take in every drum beat, every guitar riff and meticulously memorize the lyrics. A few more replays and I will know the new song by heart.
Imagine a world without music. A world without guitars, without pianos, without Luciano Pavarotti, without “Beautiful Girls”, without MTV. I cannot even imagine it. Coz a world without music is no world at all.

Management Study

To determine the company’s organizational structure.
To establish line authority among the employees, as well as the proper segregation of duties.
To evaluate the workers qualification standards.
To ascertain the employees’ compensation package.

The partners will be forming a general partnership, which will be composed of general partners that will equally share in the gains and losses of the partnership. This partnership will begin from the time the contract is executed and the Articles of Partnership are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We have chosen the partnership as the form of ownership since it is easier to organize. It is created by a voluntary agreement between two or more people, and it does not entail costs such as incorporation fees, legal fees, and other expenses that other forms of ownership require. Also, no minimum capital contribution is required. This will be based upon the partners’ agreement. A partnership is also subject to less government regulations, since its existence would be based on the contract between the partners. This would also be an added convenience since partners usually have different skills and talents that could be useful in managing the business.

Every employee of an organization is assigned to a specific task. This will ensure the proper segregation of duties among workers to strengthen the company’s internal control. To envision the distribution of responsibilities among the employees, the organizational chart emphasizes line authority and accountability. The organization will be following this concept of line authority.

The company is looking for skilled and hardworking employees. The qualifications required include the following:
1. Partners
2. Drivers
Responsible for driving the ambulance whenever emergency calls are received. It’s their duties to take the patients to the hospital or medical center as soon as possible with hospital to hospital transfers if deemed necessary. They are as well in charge of the maintenance, check-up, and cleaning of the ambulance cars they are using. All costs related to repair and maintenance is naturally handled by the partnership.
· Must be a professional licensed driver
· At least 22 years old
· Capable of driving under the highest possible pressure
· Free from involvement in records of road accidents and misbehaviors
· Should be able to do repairs and maintenance on ambulance-type cars specifically vans.
· Must be knowledgeable with the roads, streets and routes in and around Baguio City
· Willing to work overtime/on call.
3. Medics/medical assistants
They are responsible for accompanying the ambulance at all times whenever an emergency call comes in. Their main duties are to perform initial treatments, first aides, and temporary medical services to patients before and while taking the patients to the nearest possible hospital or medical center.
· With at least 3 years experience.
· Must be hardworking and trustworthy.
· Must be willing to learn how to drive
· At least 26 years old
· Must be a registered nurse.
4. Drivers
5. Cashier
He is responsible for the custody of the funds of the business such as cash disbursements, cash receipts, and other cash items including checks and notes.
· Must be a graduate of BS Accountancy
· At least 22 years old
· Hardworking and trustworthy
· With at least 1 year experience of bookkeeping experience
· Computer literate/ knowledgeable in basic computer applications
6. Bookkeeper
Responsible for record keeping, assembling, classifying, and presenting financial information to the users.
· Must be a graduate of BS Accountancy
· At least 22 years old
· Hardworking and trustworthy
· With at least 1 year of beekeeping experience
· Computer literate/knowledgeable in basic computer applications

Age eligibility
A. The minimum age is 20 years old.
B. There will be no maximum age limit for as long as the applicant is still capable of doing the work required.

A. Employees in the field department must wear the company T-shirt which is printed with the business logo.
B. Employees in the administrative department must wear the attire as duly prescribed.
C. Cleanliness is a must especially for employees who are in direct contact with the patients seeking temporary medical treatments.

Employee Disciplinary Policies
A. Disciplinary actions are not intended to punish employees, but to impress upon them the importance of their work with respect to themselves, to the business and to others. This is to make the employees responsible for their actions on the job.
B. The rights to discipline, suspend, relieve, transfer, or terminate employees for proper causes shall depend upon the discretion of the management following the business rules and regulations. C. Proper investigation of any violation shall first be conducted before management makes a decision to practice justice and equity. The employee will thus be able to defend his side if he feels that he should not be given any punishment.
D. It is the duty of every employee to obey the company policies, rules and instructions. Willful disobedience of any employee shall be sufficient ground to support his/her dismissal. Dismissal of an employee is only served when the offense committed is grave in nature.
E. The employee concerned will receive a notice of dismissal 30 days before termination.

Morons Overdose on Niacin While Trying to Beat a Drug Test

Tricks to pass drug tests are like cures for the hiccups – there are many to choose from and some are spectacularly dumb.

A report in the November issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine described four cases of people becoming ill after taking massive amounts of vitamin B3 (niacin) to rid themselves of incriminating chemicals.

According to legend, the dietary supplement will cause every trace of illegal substances to disappear overnight, but established recreational drug references, including Erowid, warn that it does not work and can cause health problems.

Apparently, the four emergency room patients did not do their homework before trying the folk remedy. All of them suffered from itching, a burning sensation, and a rash. One of them had symptoms far more severe than the others.

Concerned that his parole officer would give him a drug test, a 14-year-old boy popped eleven huge tablets of extended-release niacin. After becoming dizzy, suffering heart palpitations, and vomiting several times, he was brought to a hospital.

Lab tests showed that his body fluids were too acidic, liver was in danger of failure, and blood sugar was unusually high. His urine contained alarming levels of chemicals called ketones.

Initially, the doctors misdiagnosed him with a severe diabetic reaction and gave him insulin. That treatment got his blood sugar under control, but he remained in the hospital for several more days.

On the third day of his visit, the physicians checked his urine for drugs. Despite his risky efforts, the kid still tested positive for marijuana.

Manoj Mittal, a doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and his colleagues from two other medical establishments warned that as drug testing becomes more common, so will incidents of niacin poisoning. A second paper in the same journal mentioned that sixteen people in Colorado had called poison control centers last year after taking excessive amounts of the vitamin to detox before a drug test.

A Good Read Online

I read tons of online magazines these days. Ans I am not referring at all to those magazines with boobs, bras and bikinis splashed on the covers. I don’t buy and read men’s magazines because they are I believe a waste of money as well as time. As much as possible, I want what I read and see to be free. So the Internet is good enough for me. It’s free and of course limitless and bottomless. Simply tap on the keyboard, click on a mouse and eureka! everything you wanna know is right before your eyes.

I read magazines that I believe will make me more less stupid and much smarter than the person beside me. I’m on a quest to find those magazines that will help me escape the clasps of being a moron.

That is why I read UTNE, an arts magazine, which is an acronym for Understanding The Next Evolution. It’s packed with very interesting articles on the arts, life and the human lifestyle. The literary selections are equally top-notch. That is why I’ve decided to share with you the highlights of a literary letter I really admired and enjoyed reading from the aforementioned magazine. I’m only going to quote phrases and a couple of paragraphs from the selection. If you deem it necessary to read the whole article, you better buy the issue or maybe visit the magazine’s website at utne.com but I’m not really sure if they maintain updated archives on that site. It is a literary piece in a letter from addressed to Condoleeza Rice.

Dear Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice,

“I wanted to let you know, in no uncertain terms, just how much I disagreed with your political positions, abhorred your relationship with the Bush clan, and anything else I could think of.”

“Why did they care what I thought about you? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. These white people wanted me to do what I was planning to do with this letter: finger-point, neck-bob, and hand-wave. Call you a traitor or, worse, a “Tom”. Dog your personal appearance. And in doing so, I would be met with thunderous applause. On both the right and the left, black people publicly scolding other black people for being culturally or politically backward is what’s hot. “

“Whether right or left, the message is, if you’re black and have something shitty to say about somebody else black, you’re likely to find an appreciative (and mostly nonblack) audience.”

“All black people in the United States make choices and make more concessions, for we know that the battle for self-realization is never fully on our terms. “

“And what I think about you and your chosen occupation is precisely this: Your ascendance to the role of secretary of state is, for me, simply what it is-a reflection of a racist society that isolates brilliant black people from themselves and forces them to serve America’s imperial interests. What happens next is that the left or the right, depending on which trajectory the black person has chosen, will use that person as an example of how politically or culturally misguided black people are. In my fight to rebel against that fate, I find that I too am trapped by the options. I have to do what I am also good at-which is to work to ensure that no other black children, traumatized by bullets and bombs, feel they have to abandon everything they know and love, and attack another black person’s limited options in order to save themselves."

May you truly know peace,
Kenyon Farrow

It's typically a really short letter but the insights and and ideas it contains are immeasurable.

7 Easy Steps on How to Become Famous and Popular in the Philippines.

Joseph Addison once said that "many actions calculated to procure fame are not conducive to ultimate happiness." I like his idea so I decided to kind of play with the qoute and see if I can write something funny out of it. I really don't know if readers will find this funny but it's still a good try I think.

We all know that every now and then we cath on TV a story about a man or a woman who climbs a high billboard and threatens to jump of it citing different reasons including poverty, betrayed love among other things. If you're on national television then you are famous, right. So here are the following steps on becoming famous in the Philippines(via billboards).

1. Go look for a billboard. Any billboard will do as long as it's high enough that even Stupid Spidey Man will be afraid to climb it. Not even Spider Pig would be brave enough to scale it.The higher the billboard, the better. At least for your quest for fame. And one more thing...make sure the steel support is free from rust. You don't wanna die from tetanus, do you. Rust kills, remember that.

2.Climb the billboard. And don't fall.

3.When you reach the top of the billboard, shout to the people below that you climbed it because it is your intention to jump and spread your blood and brains on the pavement below. Remind them that you are planning to commit suicide because your girlfriend dumped you or you caught your wife sleeping with a man other than you. That means another man. Tell them that you are serious. It may not be necessary but it would help if you try to cry like and shed some tears. A tear or two will do but if you can cry a bucket, why not. It's your eyewater, not mine. But don't cry by the drums or you'll die of dehydration.

4. Now, stay put and wait for the cops and media to arrive. Just wait and listen to the police sirens and see if the video cameras have arrived.

5. Be very patient. Don't jump nor slip.

6. Let the cops climb up like monkeys to you. Let them talk to you. Let them coax and convince you to come down. Let them plead to you.

7. Give yourself a pat on the back and come down. Or to be more dramatic let the cops carry you down the billboard. And keep sobbing and keep your eyes teary.

That's it. See, very simple. Piece of cake. You will be famous in no time. It's a guarantee, you will be on today's evening news. Either Mike Enriquez or Julius Babao will be reporting about you and millions of fellow Filipinos will be watching your sorry predicament.

Note: If the media doesn't arrive, there is no way you will be famous. So it's highly suggested that you jump. JUMP! A man who dropped dead from the sky is bad news. But the good news is-the media loves bad news. So JUMP and be famous although you won't be around to enjoy that fame.

And one more thing, carry a gun with you just in case one of the cops become hostile and want to end the circus the easy way which is shoot you down to earth. But then again that would be totally unnecessary. But then again, to be sure, carry a gun.

Of Peace and War

"It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace."
-Andre Gide
On one of my blogs, a post received a comment from a fellow blogger stating his views on the issue of war being necessary for the attainment of peace. He suggested me a "simplistic catch phrase I SHOULD take stock in". The "simplistic catch phrase" states:'The price of peace is eternal vigilance'. And yes, I totally agree with him. We have got to be vigilant at all times, everyday, every minute of our lives coz we will never know. The next bomb attack could be in the bus we are in or the next kidnap victim could be a member of our families. BUT. Wouldn't it be much better if we live our lives without these thoughts of kidnappings and wars bothering us. This is like shooting at the moon. It could be improbable, impossible actually. As he said, "it is never that easy". Again, I totally agree. Peace can't be attained by just saying "let's make love not war".

He is a soldier, a marine with decades of service to the nation. For that I owe him a lot, for that I am very grateful. For that I respect him in all honesty. I respect him for donning the military uniform. If I could I would like to be a soldier just like him. Then why am I anti-war, you may ask. Because I want peace. It is what I want for this country. It is what I want for Iraq. It is what I want for everybody.
If saying "give peace a chance" is insulting, then I'm sorry. I didn't know what I'm talking about. And I am not ignoring the fact that hundreds of thousands of soldiers died in war for peace's sake. I know somenone who died in Mindanao, I didn't ignore that. I am not a soldier. I don't know how the military works. I don't know how a soldier feels. But I know a soldier's life is dangerous. A soldier is a hero, that I know. Anyone carrying a gun is meant to be in constant danger. And that is something most people are afraid of. But a soldier carries it anyway. I am a freeman because of him.

World War I, World War II, Churchill, Roosevelt Patrick Henry, the American soldier, the Filipino soldier, the German soldier, the Cold War, biographies. They are my inspiration. They have my complete respect and I look upon them as events, stories and people worthy of being looked up to....as memorials, as heroes, as kings, as inspirations, as Gods even. They gave us the world that is today.

But we don't have to go through what they went through. Again? So when's the next Nagasaki? Tomorrow? Where's the next Hiroshima? Manila? I hope and wish there will never be. Let's keep Nagasaki and Hiroshima in the history books.
Soldiers died, civilians died in war in order to have peace. Does it have to be always this way?
Kill that guy so he wouldn't kill you.
Bomb that country before it bombs your own country.
Let's hijack a plane and fly it into Malacanang Palace.
Let's put these bombs under the bus seats and see how their brains are blown out to pieces. Then let's laugh.
Let's give our son a military uniform and send him out to war, with tears in our eyes.
Let's ambush those camouflaged guys and take their heads.
Let's find a tourist, kidnap him and make lots of money.
Let's wiretap the president and be popular.
Let's declare an all-out war in Mindanao.
Let's cheat.
Let us not cheat because if we do, we lose money.
Let's go to the streets and protest and have a rally, we don't even know why we are protesting.
Let's buy a gun coz it looks very cool.

Come on. There has got to be a better way to do this. Nobody dies. Nobody gets his head severed. Nobody carries a gun. Nobody makes bombs. Nobody hears gun salutes. Nobody cries. Nobody goes to prison. Nobody becomes a widow. There has got to be a way to achieve this.

Do you know what astonished me most in the world? The inability of force to create anything. In the long run the sword is always beaten by the spirit. Soldiers usually win battles and generals get the credit for them. You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war. If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.

-Napoleon Bonaparte

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger- A Book Review.

I spent the last few nights reading the bestseller novel by Sebastian Junger and by far it's among the most beautiful true-story novels I've ever read. It's called "The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea." It's the story of ordinary fishermen living their rather dangerous lives in extraordinary circumstances. Their tragic story makes you look into your own life and ponder if you value it the way the fishermen did. The fishermen loved their sea lives too much to the point wherein it already borders within obsession. It's ironic that their love for life on the sea was the one to tragically end their lives. The story maybe familiar because of the blockbuster Hollywood movie of the same title released by Warner Brothers and starring George Clooney, John C. Reilly, Mark Wahlberg among other A-list actors. The movie adopted from the novel was directed by celebrated director Wolfgang Petersen.

Anyway, the novel is a worthy read in every way. It is thrilling from beginning to end. Even if you have never been to sea, the detailed narrative will show everything there is to know. It is a wild ride that brilliantly captures the awesome power of the raging sea and the often futile attempts of humans to withstand it.

As with all novels, there are a few weak points like the painstakingly detailed technical discussions. If you know nothing about fishing, sailing or you are simply a sea-know-nothing, you may find yourself getting lost and confused. But such weaknesses are not enough to lessen the grandeur and complication of the story. It's a great story notwithstanding the fact that it's based on true events. So don't miss to read it and of course watch the movie too on DVD.

Among my favorite parts of the novel were the qoutes that the author placed at the start of every chapter. The qoutes are a great feed for the mind that I couldn't help it but share them with you. So here are a few of them.

"It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives."
Sir Walter Scott

"Going to sea is going to prison with a chance at drowning besides."
Samuel Johnson

"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire."
Revelation 15

"The men could only look at each other through the falling snow, from land to sea, from
sea to land, and realize how unimportant they all were."
Sidney Perley

"All collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it had five thousand years ago."
Herman Melville

Andrea( In Memoriam)

Meeting you.
And being a friend with you
Made us believe in angels
For an angel is who you are
You never failed to greet us with a smile
Every time we met

Everybody loved you, adored you
And looked up to you
W will miss the times
When we would walk around Burnham Lake on afternoons
Talking about the movies, politics, the Iraq War, Osama, God, Love, Peace
….your dream of visiting Spain
…..your goal of working with the United Nations
……your plan of quitting Commerce and taking up Nursing
In short, talking about just anything that came into our young and restless minds

You always shared what you have
The beggars of Baguiowill surely miss you
They will miss the banana cues and fishballs
You always gave them
They will miss your sweet voice asking them how they were and how they have been

W will miss the times
When we climbed mountains and crossed rivers
When we walked down Session Road singing "Time is on Our Side".
When we climbed up Kalugong and looked down La Trinidad valley
When we walked from Baguioto Km. 6 and then back
When you slapped us in our faces when we cursed
When you gave us a copy of the movie "Ladder 49"
God, how we loved that movie

We will miss everything about you
You are the very definition of a perfect friend
You always said that life is like a cup of coffee. There will always come a time when the coffee will be gone and nothing would be left except the cup. But the cup will always remember the coffee.
Life is indeed a cup of coffee.
I will never forget you

We will always love you
You will always be in our very hearts