Sunday, June 29, 2008

OlyClub Philippines Photo Exhibit: DISCOVER NEW WONDERS

From Cris Alcala's Multiply:

The First OlyClubPh Photo Exhibit

"DISCOVER NEW WONDERS"... regular subjects, different perspectives

Venue: Ground Floor of SM Mega Mall, Bldg. B (Near the Main Entrance)
Duration of Exhibit: July 3 - 16 (2 Weeks) 10:00am - 9:00pm
Admission: Free (Open to the Public)

- On display are top 30 framed artwork photos, taken by OlyClubPh members using various Olympus dSLRs and Zuiko Digital lenses, as chosen by the respectable Mr. Jay Alonzo.
- Demo Olympus dSLR (Pro and Semi-Pro) cameras and lenses (No products will be on sale at the exhibit).
- 32" LCD Slideshow presentation of olyclubph's history (timeline) and a hundred other photos from the olyclubph members.

Ribbon Cutting on July 3, 2008, 6:00 PM, Thursday. Everyone is invited to attend the opening of this club event or visit the exhibition. We hope to see you all!

Print Exhibitors:

Christian "Chris" Alcala MD
Amie Alegre
Dennis Alfaro
Norman Aquino
Francis Cadiente
Abie Co
Mickey Cruz
Ryan Cruz
Frandy de los Santos
Rey del Rosario
Sandro Domingo
Marvin Nuto
Earl Thomas "toktok" Paler
Sean Paler
Mot Rasay
Randy Rivera
Dexter Tan
Francis Tuason

***Thanks to Donna Samonte for initiating the web announcement & invitation***

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Makiling Cafe

I love seeing pictures of Mt. Makiling. These always remind me of my high school days at the National Arts Center when the only thing I worried about was getting rid of the pimple on my nose.

So when a fellow Ibarang (which is what we call students and alumni of the Philippine High School for the Arts) sent links to his pictures, I eagerly downloaded all of them. Most of the pictures made me happily nostalgic but this picture of the NAC cafeteria (which we all called "cafe") made my heart feel a little bit heavier.

(Photo courtesy of kuya Daniel Honrade.)

Cafe was where most of us started our day. We would line up beside the metal counter where we were served breakfast in metal trays. If the line was long, we would sit at the edge of the wooden stage while waiting for our turn. When we were running late, the servers would scoop our viands into clear plastic bags and pack them in brown paper bags.

Lunch and dinner at the cafe were social events - we would chat with schoolmates while eating with distorted forks and worn-out spoons. Most of us would be seated in 3 long tables arranged on wooden floors, while the luckier ones get to seat at the balcony where they could enjoy the various shades of green that Mt. Makiling's trees and plants had to offer. The balcony was separated from the main dining area by glass doors.

With a wooden stage at the farthest end, Cafe was also "the" venue for staging mini-presentations, contests and even school announcements (major presentations and school activities were held at the NAC Theater). The transparent glass wall at the back of the stage allowed us to see the beauty of the mountain during the day but served as a black backdrop as soon as the sun hid behind Maria's back. I remember being in awe as I watched ate Pia, ate Anette, Ate Judelle, ate Grethel and mommy Christy perform "Limang Dipang Tao" on its stage. Four years later, it would stage a play that I directed where I required the actresses to gush like crazy over Gabby Concepcion while wearing ill-fitting monotonous clothes made up of metallic threads. I could still imagine Vivienne say, "Pedestrian lane, Pilut!"

Right beside the stage was an upright piano where Miguel would perform a classical version of Madonna's "Like a Virgin."

The dining area was not only meant for eating. It was the venue for exhibits, rehearsals and other school activities. This was where we auditioned for the school paper - we were all required to write an essay on the importance of art in life. I remember feeling so much pressure (I majored in Theater Arts and took up Creative Writing as a minor) that I was only able to write 3 short forgettable paragraphs. (I got to be Features Editor only because the title of my essay caught Ms. Almonte's attention. I borrowed the title of an old religious song, "How Great Thou Art!")

We held classes at the balcony when the rains prevented us from walking the kilometer down to our classrooms. The balcony also served as an alternative classroom for the Visual Arts Majors even on sunny days - I remember seating for hours in their midst as they attempted to draw my portrait and later on wishing for the portrait drawn by my high school crush. It was also the place where friends exchanged confidences and where several young couples confessed what they thought was love.

The Cafe survived the elements. Its grey stone walls refused to budge even as harsh winds swept the green plastic-and-metal chairs from end to end. These stone walls protected us during the 1990 earthquake - at that time, we were rehearsing a play when the cafe started to dance. Water violently sloshed out of its kidney-shaped pool. In panic, most of the younger students rushed to the balcony but the cafe valiantly carried their weight and didn't allow anyone to be thrown off the nearby cliff.

The cafe also survived our tears - the stairs leading to the dining area absorbed our despair when we learned at the end of our first year that we needed to say goodbye to 15 of our batchmates (we were only 28 in the batch!) We replaced the tears with shrieks and laughter when ten of us graduated three years later.

Sadly, the cafe did not survive the fire that razed it to the ground several years back. I see that it now has a roof but its sides are still unprotected without its walls. It is such a shame that it has not been rebuilt as I couldn't imagine life in the NAC without a cafe where students nourished not only their bodies, but also their minds, their art, and their love.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sometimes, it's not the government's fault

I took a leave yesterday to get my Community Tax Certificate and Professional Tax Receipt from the Quezon City Hall. Today, I hope to file my consolidated income tax return with B. The BIR still has not issued his W2 which is supposed to be attached to the return - I hope we can get his W2 today as our return is already terribly late!

I was dreading the trip to the City Hall as I was imagining that I'd be lining up for hours in a dusty, damp and smelly office. I even bribed B with a free movie so that he would accompany me. I shouldn't have worried! It only took a few minutes to line up for the Community Tax Certificate, and the line was in an airy and clean-enough corridor with no offensive odors.

Getting the Professional Tax Receipt was a different story - I was second in line to a frustrating taxpayer. Yup, the taxpayer was the one who was frustrating. From what I can understand of their conversation, the taxpayer paid some fees and wanted a local government stamp on her documents. The government official was patiently explaining that the stamp should be made on the 3 copies of the original forms, which could not be done since the taxpayer only brought 1 photocopy. The taxpayer kept on insisting that the stamp be made on the photocopy as that was what her boss asked her to do. Never losing her smile, the government official said that the government office to which the taxpayer was required to submit the forms would not accept photocopies and would definitely look for the stamp in the original forms which were colored pink, yellow and blue. After 10 minutes, the government official just stamped the photocopy with a warning that the said stamp was useless on a photocopy. What was worse was that when the taxpayer left, she even mumbled, "Hirap talaga kausapin ng gobyerno!"

I was just amazed at: (a) the patience of the government employee - I was ready to strangle the taxpayer on the 5th minute but she didn't even flinch when he heard the taxpaer's remark; and (b) how I was so engrossed with what was happening that I couldn't even remember the physical conditions of the room; and (c) how good I was at eavesdropping!

When I got my Professional Tax Receipt (it only took the government employee 3 minutes to issue it!), I told B about the taxpayer and asked him if he encountered people like her. He said that he's used to taxpayers who get hysterical when they didn't get what they want even if they failed to meet the requirements. Sometimes, they even accused him of not doing his job when it was part of his job to ensure that the proper documents were submitted and that all requirements were met before they issue rulings.

On our way home, the cab driver kept on blaming the government for the rising gas prices. B explained that the Philippines was not the only country which was experiencing an increase in gas prices. The cab driver then started blaming the government for the tuberculosis that several cab drivers were suffering which he believed were caused by the fumes from the converted LPG engines of some taxis.

I guess it really is just easy for people to keep on blaming all their problems to the government, and sometimes, the underpaid government officials are the ones suffering for it. Our government is far from perfect but we also have to make sure that we do what is expected of us. I guess we also have to remember to treat government employees with respect even if some of them really deserve to have all their eyebrows plucked for being so lazy and/or corrupt!

Now that I think about it, I should have told the taxpayer in front of me that this time, the government was not at fault. She'd probably be irritated with me but at least the government official at the Taxes and Fees Division would know that somehow, her efforts were appreciated.