The Christmas Comparison

I’m not trying to be a hero with this post, and I don’t want to look like I am trying to. Nor do I want to make it look like I am a better, deeper person just because of this. But there are just things that you do not notice until after another experience, whether good or bad.

My fiancee and I just had our own little talk, and I was on my way home. I was a bit lost in my thought, but I still saw a peculiar sight. There were several guys armed to the teeth, armor and all. They look like soldiers to me, but they do not bear the insignia of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, so I was thinking they were body guards of something, or someone. A few steps away came another soldier looking guy, this time with a rather huge canine unit. I’m not familiar with dog breeds, but this one looks menacing enough to make me decide not to make sudden movements until it passed.

I was about to cross the pedestrian lane from Glorietta to Rustan’s, when a police man on a motor bike stopped me in my tracks. At first I thought I was jaywalking, but I hadn’t even set foot on the street, plus I was about to use the pedestrian lane. No one else was with me that time, as this was a holiday. I looked at the police officer and asked what was wrong but he looked away and did not answer.

Another officer on a motorcycle arrived, this time he stopped the North-bound vehicles. He stopped the cars in a way that I have never seen before. He parked his motorcycle in the middle of the North-bound street, effectively blocking the three lanes. By this time, I was getting more confused. I was thinking that some emergency had happened, or something. I tried to get the attention of the policeman blocking my path, but he raised his hands at me as if to say “stop”.

After a few minutes, a few more motorcycles arrive. Speeding past me and the cop blocking my path.  And then came a few SUVs, each with police lights, but with no sirens. Then an ambulance, and a few more motorcycles and lastly a few more SUVs. The street blocker cops then zoomed away, all in the same direction.

The convoy stopped near a boutique, and then the “soldiers” and cops raced to one vehicle, and then literally almost fought each other to open the door. A few people came out, of which I was too far to even see who they were. All I know is, a ridiculously rich family scheduled their shopping today, and had to have a military/cop convoy to prevent any mishaps, like maybe a kidnapping or coffee spilling on their expensive couture.

The hypnotism of the incident wore off, and my curiosity was satiated enough for me to go. I couldn’t help but wish that I was one of them, or at least have the same amount of money, to merit a convoy just to buy groceries. I kept thinking about “more money, more problems” and wished that I had those problems instead. Maybe worry about what to buy instead of how to afford it. Having too much money that my own problem is how to use some of it.

The arrival of a bus snapped me back to reality. Here’s my ride home, and no cop blocking anyone’s path, except maybe for violations. The door automatically swung open. Disappointing, I was wishing someone would open it for me and then greet me warmly. I chose a seat near a window, imagining it to be a car window instead. Tinted, and private. I even almost forgot to pay the fare.

After a few blocks, I was out of the business district. I was now on regular people street, traversing the area where dilapidated buildings stood, and where I saw beggars on the street, kids wearing nothing but t-shirts, and no underwear. People sleeping on the sidewalk, or under trees, and even under spherical cement things. Anywhere that can provide shelter.

It’s funny that a few blocks would drastically change the scene. I noticed that there were more beggars and hobos in the streets. I heard their stories on TV several times before. People from the province, or far flung areas of the country, living off the land, who wanted to try their luck on the battlefield that is the capital city, and finding nothing in return. The result? They have to live off the land again, but this time, there are no crops, only pavements. No huts, only make shift shelters. Nothing to work on, except maybe ask for help, or even worse, commit crimes.

My line of thought changed from “I want to be that guy” to “I don’t want to be like them”. I looked around the bus, and notice that there are people who are a bit better off, but not by much. A family of five, for example, sitting in the two-seat side, occupying every possible space just to avoid paying the fare for all five (they only paid for two, since they’re technically occupying only two seats). Then another family got on. The dad looking old and sickly, with a child in hand. Next came the pregnant mom, with another kid who looked like he was only a few months younger than his sibling. The couple didn’t look affluent, to say the least. I am not sure how they’re going to raise their kids too.

At this point, I should have been thanking the Lord for whatever blessings I have. I did, but I still can’t help wishing for a better life. To have more money as to afford health, and to have more resources to make myself contented. I always hear people say “be happy with what you have”, but being real honest, I never do. I always know that there is something better, and all my life I’ve ran and fought to get to it. I keep thinking, if I have more, then I can buy happiness. Who wouldn’t?

The Spending Season

It is the culmination of the “-Ber” months which most of us know is the main event for shopping and buying gifts, which is what the Holiday season is all about. Just look at the Christmas sales, New Year sales, and other holiday sales popping up almost everywhere. It is both festive and scary.

I feel like Christmas is losing its purpose, and I know most of you would have read this line over and over, but it does not hit home until you are your own man/woman, managing a certain type of business, or the bread winner of the family, which fortunately or not, I am.

Let me start off with Christmas at work. In the season of giving, we normally have our own Secret Santa, or Kris Kringle, locally known as Monito-Monita. I say normally because this year, we are having none of that, with too many Kris Kringle with other friends already in place. I personally have been adamant of this idea since I started receiving the gifts. I know “it’s the thought that counts”, but I am being totally honest here. When we fill out our Christmas wish list, I normally cannot think of anything to write. One, because I am too afraid of asking for something that is too expensive, and two, I usually ask for something that I really need, but end up asking for gift certificates instead, so I can buy it myself when I get to know what it is.

Ninja Santa

Now here is the brutally honest fact: Most often than not, I get disappointed with the gifts that I receive. I get the type of thing that I need, but sometimes, the quality is not all there, and you know that your Secret Santa did not follow the minimum price agreed upon. Last year, I asked for a pair of workout gloves with wrist supports, which costs around $13 (600 pesos). I got a pair of $5 gloves instead, which needless to say, lasted only a handful of workouts. What I ended up giving is a set of golf balls (expensive ones) because I ended up picking my manager’s name.

Most of the time, people who report to me are also expecting too much from me too, since they know that the Christmas bonus is dependent on the current salary, and since I am their manager, you know the drill.  It’s like I am obligated to give them something really nice this Christmas and they end up getting disappointed too. I see the look on their faces and sometimes I want to tell them that I have a family to support, and that they should be thankful that I gave them something at least.

But of course, I don’t. I grin, and bear the whispers that may or may not come soon afterwards. “Kuripot talaga ni Sir!” (“He’s really a scrooge!”)

And I can’t forget my own family, specifically my own youngest brother, who is turning out to be the most “maluho” (luxurious) of all of us. Don’t tell him I told you, but I think he is getting too comfortable with the fact that his siblings (3 of them) now have good paying jobs and that he can get money or stuff when he asks for it. For this Christmas, this is his wishlist:

1. An Ipod Touch or any Ipod variants, if the Touch is not available. 

    My other siblings (those who are already working) grew up in a very simple household, and we lead a very simple life. If you want to envision or personify our simplicity in terms of our gadgets, we do not even talk of getting a new gadget until our current one (phone, computer, etc) either completely stops working, or gets broken into a million pieces. We haven’t even come close to mentioning Apple products at home, until he asked for it. Just look at the prices of those things!

  2. Wi-Fi connection at home 

  My youngest brother was speaking logically. Since the Touch has a capability to connect to Wi-Fi, and he will need to download songs and/or games in his Ipod, then he will need a Wi-Fi connection at home. We have internet, but adding Wi-Fi seems to be stretching his already stretched out list.

3. Playstation 3 

 Our television set conked out a few days ago, and now I have to buy a new one. Partly unexpected, because it is not part of my plan to buy a new one until next year. Partly expected because that TV has been with us for more or less 13 years. It is a CRT TV, that I am very fond of. Now, I am obligated to buy an LCD or an LED TV, just to “keep up with the times”. And of course, my aforementioned brother, who is again thinking logically, wants to buy a PlayStation 3 since the new TV that he is expecting me to get is 3D capable or something.

   Christmas parties are part of my humbug list too. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy good food? The only hangup is I have to follow a theme. I ended up spending too much on my clothes than I intend to, and I will only wear that once. This year’s theme is “hippie 70’s”. People pulling rank again, telling me that since I am a manager, I should be a good role model and follow the theme. Goodness gracious.

   With this trend, no wonder I am getting antsy every time the “-Ber” months loom. My own Christmas wish is to save a certain amount for this year, and to invest a certain amount the next year for my business. But, I don’t think I’ll meet my target yet.