Friday, February 28, 2014

The Gracious Kind of Rich

I was not born rich. I am still not rich to this day. I was born to a family with very humble means where food, house rent and education would be covered first before any other expense. I inched my way to a better life with the comforts of having a house and a car on top of the basics. It wasn't luck I did so. It was with perseverance as a student, diligence as a worker, and an answered prayer that I marry into a God-fearing family, one that raised the kind of hardworking and honest man that was to be my husband. I believe God presented opportunities along the way, shined His light on my path and allowed me to take up these opportunities. The comforts I now enjoy are hard earned, due in large part to the man I proudly call my husband. My struggles were nothing compared to what he went through to finish college. I will not give his story away without his permission. It’s enough that I say that I am very proud of how far he has come since the time I knew him from college, and started dating him right after graduating from the same university, around the time he was just one of the tens of thousands of new job seekers.

In a country where the rich-poor divide continues to widen with income inequality becoming more pronounced, the rich are pulling away, growing their wealth. I don't personally know many rich people. I am not friends with any one, at least not to my knowledge, nor have I relatives who live in mansions and who can spend with no care.

I quickly checked related national statistics on income. Data last year showed that 84% of the country's over 100 million population had to share 40% of the country's income. Put another way, a mere 16% took the lion's share. That's the reality even with reports of the Philippines posting higher economic growth than its neighbors in the region.

I am overwhelmed when I make an acquaintance with individuals who you can easily say are rich, judging by their houses and cars. The few that I know of are very humble ones who speak and act with grace, oozing of personality honed by breeding. They do not flaunt jewelries nor tote bags in the Prada – Hermes category. They dress simply, belying the signature brands they're wearing. I was recently welcomed into a home of a mom who shares the same concerns with her child as I. I went gaga over the loveliness of their home. I was served coffee and suman at a patio overlooking the metro. Not used to this kind of experience, I was impressed, taking in the country-like yet very elegant details of how the refreshments were served. I would have liked to take photos, but of course, I couldn’t. Such an act would have been totally off. It was a normal thing for them. It was not for me. I was so delighted to see the juice pitcher topped with an embroidered coaster, the coffee press, the wooden tissue holder, the cups and saucers in blue, and shiny white dessert plates. I held back from eating more than one suman. Goodness me! I was not taught how to act in a setting like that. I was afraid I’d give myself away, I only touched the coffee after my host poured herself a cup.

It must be nice living in a big house like that. I could only dream about it. It would be hard to maintain a place like that. It needs cleaners and gardeners. Fancy that? Yeah, who wouldn't, right? But my reality is such that I have a house I can clean myself, where every room and corner is lived in, where dogs make it hard to have a manicured garden. And I can’t ask for more, really. If there’s one thing I would like to have that the “rich” seem to share, it is social graces. I would like for my children to be mindful of table manners, for my daughter to know how a lady is supposed to sit, dress, smile, and kiss. It’s not really to keep up appearances, but it is more to train them to conduct themselves always in a graceful way. We will start by using table napkins and knives during meals. And with a constant note to myself to speak softly, act gracious and courteous all the time. But that’s a feat! J

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Online You that is Untraceable, Unsearchable - Snapchat anyone?

Would you be interested to become ephemeral in this digital age? To post photos and videos that self-destruct within seconds or minutes? Would you like to have a delete-all button that would erase everything that you have put online, maybe because you want to start fresh, move on, and have that right to be forgotten when you want to? Delete all photos of your ex? Would you be thrilled to share bits of yourself through photos and videos and not leave a trail that you have done so? Well, there's an app that's maybe right for you. 

Have you heard about Snapchat yet? I've only come across it through a recent Bloomberg magazine with a sexy, young lady popping out of its cover, that went with a catchy byline - Erasable You. My husband subscribes to Bloomberg so our house gets littered with lots of issues. I honestly rarely pick a copy to read. But that one with the catchy cover got me curious. And that's how Snapchat came to my knowledge. The article says it's been made available on iTunes and since has been competing with the popular social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram. Like Facebook, it was developed by geek students from a premier university, Stanford. Because of its playful, naughty feature of having photos that self destruct, it started gaining popularity in the U.S. with high school students as its early adopters. 

Students would exchange photos and videos of themselves acting crazy, and customize the time these would stay in the recipients' phones or gadgets. While Facebook's founder, Zuckerberg, believes that digital information is important and there's value in storing and archiving it, this does not sit well with those who are concerned about security, who want to limit their public identities, or maintain their anonymity. Security issues stem form that fact that all digital data are mined, stored and archived for possible scrutiny and use. Everything we put online could be made available for a price to marketers. In this digital age where everything imaginable seems possible, and when every minute product developers are at work to offer enhanced or new apps and gadgets, we are at risk of unwanted exposure.  In this context, there has been an apparent demand for what had started as a court case in Argentina where a certain woman demanded that digital information maligning her person be deleted by Google and Yahoo. The Right To Be Forgotten. Cool, eh? 

Reading all these stuff got me really curious, I downloaded Snapchat via Apple Store. It's free. I allowed it to access my contacts to see who among my friends are early adopters. And it turned out that only one is, a cousin who's a college student. I'm sure more will try it in no time, especially the sneaky ones or just the playful type, or maybe a small following from the not-so-young who have profound reasons for preferring to be ephemeral in this digital age. 

Love to have on an online presence but scared of permanent digital records? Try Snapchat, and add me up. Drop me an email and I'll share with you my user name. Let's play snap-show-and-erase! :-)

For my own use -- This post was started while waiting at a piano class and completed at a barber shop with my son. I am compelled to write when there's really none to do. Happy thoughts, happy vibes, happy days, my friends. :-)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ditching Facebook

(Image grabbed from the internet.)

A few months ago, I proudly declared on this blog that I am not ever quitting Facebook (see that post on this link), and even offered my own take leaning on the positive things fb does to contribute to the debate that has surrounded fb. But, all of a sudden, I deactivated my account yesterday, just like that. My husband dropped me the challenge the night before the day I said my interim goodbye to fb – to deactivate my account for a month. A challenge? I asked. Why, it's a piece of cake! Of course I could. I'm not quitting in the first place, just hibernating for a month. The hubby deactivated his account and challenged me to follow suit. He was showing me a couple of articles that made him decide to ditch fb. I didn’t bother looking, dismissing that I knew them already -- generation Y, me-generation, fb envy, flirting with the ex on fb, all that stuff putting fb in a bad light.

I love fb! So I choose not to analyze its bad side. I've not fallen into the negative trappings netizens and critics have had to say about fb. I don't feel sad or wanting more in my life from browsing and prying into my friends' lives, their milestones, their travels, their thoughts and opinions. Well, yeah, you could say I dream more of traveling to London to visit the Queen so to speak (haha), to take a selfie at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, to be windswept in Batanes, to explore Palawan’s underground river, to check out why Dubai is said to be one of the safest cities. Beautiful pictures and stories posted on fb on these romantic, scenic, and historical places in my bucket list make me happy and a tad sad in the same instance. Oh, yes, I’m happy to see my friends have gone and enjoyed these places, and sad I couldn’t plan my travels because of many practical constraints. I wouldn’t say I feel envious. I am not. I have no right to be.

To prove that my life doesn't revolve around social media, I bid adieu to fb. Admittedly, the accumulated time I used to spend a day on fb was more than the time I talked to my children. And so it's been with me for some time now, this feeling of guilt over fb addiction. When I was still working, I had little time to check and linger on fb, but I would regularly check – usually on the commute to and from the office – for  updates from friends, like the posts that I truly like, and drop comments once in a while. Since I've been out of work (intentionally, see related post here) for six months now, I've found myself always taking my phone wherever I went, my thumbs clicking on the iconic fb button, going up and down, clicking the like button, more and more. What's more pathetic? Yeah, I realized I've been that way with fb the past months. I would check more often after I had just posted a picture, an album, a status update, or my random, inconsequential thoughts, or a link to my blog or my son's blog. I would be excited to see the number of likes, who the likes came from, and the comments. And I would be doing this even in the bathroom! Pathetic, right? Exactly. That’s why I badly need a breather.

Here’s the upside. This is my second day without fb, and I have accomplished much. I cleaned the floor using an electric polisher and rearranged the living area, and I got to write this! See? I’m ok, better in fact.

But here’s the thing why the break-up has been easy so far. I still have my Instagram account, and, of course, this blog! And so I have not totally ditched social media. My IG account is “garrettgabee,” in case you would like to know what I am up to these days. I have very limited following on IG so it’s really not the same as fb. Instagram eases the bouts of boredom and KSP moments in my daily grind as a stay-at-home-mom.

See you at IG then! J