Monday, March 31, 2008

the short break

At this build-up stage of my life where not working means losing money (literally), there is simply no time for a ‘real’ vacation. All we ever get are mini breaks that last three to four hours – just enough for any one of these activities (never a combination):

(a) eating at a nice restaurant (two hours in traffic, one hour in the restaurant)

(b) shopping for good shoes (two hours in traffic, one hour in the shoe shop)

(c) watching a movie (two hours in traffic, two hours watching the movie)

These mini breaks are never the main dish – they’re simply intermissions in a workday. We always have to be in the office at some point – either early in the morning (before our mini break) to make sure everything is in order, or late at night (after our mini-break) to talk to clients who are in a different time zone.

Well, we had to do something. We were burning out.

So I devised a short-and-snappy-but-nonetheless-enjoyable break. Here's an account of how it went.

* * * *

We left Quezon City at 12 noon to drive to a little-known restaurant at Makati called Seryna. We’re sushi and sashimi buffs, and we’re willing to drive for hours to taste authentic Japanese food.

The break started in the car, so we made it a point to not talk about work and instead converse about non-specific things inconsequential to the business. The typical dialogues went like this:

MSP: Maybe Japan has built a Macross.

Me: But why would they build a giant space ship that turns into a robot when they could just build little creepy robots that attack the enemy’s bloodstream? Can you imagine a billion little robots that can swim, fly, and develop artificial intelligence? They’re easier to launch, harder to detect, much harder to destroy. Big robots are out. The true revolution is in nanotechnology.

MSP: (looks at me) Dork.

Me: (looks back at MSP) You’re dorkier.

* * * *

Me: I’m gonna put some of my savings to bonds for now, and then transfer my bonds to equities come June.

MSP: What makes you think the stock market is going to recover by then?

Me: Because the Republicans will begin to window-dress their administration so people would consider reelecting their party. How about you? What’s your next investment move?

MSP: I might buy a collectible Macross die cast model from the 1980’s. It’s hardly ever available. If find a collector who is wiling to let one go, I need to pay at least PhPxxx,xxx – that’s a bargain.

Me: (really slowly) How riveting.

* * * *

MSP: Look!! It’s a G-Class!! (Referring to the intimidating tank-vehicle that is Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse, our dream car. It should be illegal.)

Me: (panics) Oh my god!! I can smell it from here. (Frantically gets MSP’s phone to take a picture) It’s too far! I’m never gonna get a good shot!!

MSP: Just take the picture!

Me: (clicks)

MSP: Did you get it?

Me: Yes! Oh it’s so beautiful.

MSP: It looks like a Macross.

Me: (after a moment of silence) This is why you're dorkiest.

MSP: Macross is the best.

* * * *

* * * *

We finally made it.

When we got to Seryna, we were too hungry for words. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

The Puri-Puri appetizer:

The Kaisen set - all this for one person at only P280:

Another set (I forget what's it's called) this time for P480++:

* * * *

By 2:30 pm, we were on the road again. The drive to Ocean Park was long and tiring (hello Manila traffic). It was peppered by conversations about Macross and French cuisine (how we connected the two, I have no idea).

When we finally got there, we quickly discovered that tweeners on a field-trip from an exclusive school in Manila were going to the tunnels with us. Egh. Bratty-whiny 12-year olds and I don't mix. I wish I could shove their iPods down their throats. Eat that, you good-for-nothing shrill-voiced Kamiseta-wearing excuse for a young woman. You'll grow up to be a needy whore in really bad shoes.

Anyway, the Manila Ocean Park was underwhelming.

It was rather small -- I expected a better version of the HK thing. Disappointing, really. Save for a few interesting
cold-blooded aquatic vertebrates, it didn't offer much.

Just an hour later, we left for Ortigas. The ride to the center of Manila was faster than I thought it would be. Or maybe I just got so bored at the Ocean Park that talking about Macross yet again seemed much more... (say it with me)...riveting.

Macross is a long-running series of science fiction anime, created by Shoji Kawamori of Studio Nue in 1982. The franchise features a fictional Earth History after the year 1999. The franchise title features three TV series, three movies, four OVAs, and 2 manga series. The Macross II OVA carries the Macross title; however, it was not produced by Studio Nue. Within the series, the term Macross is used to denote the main capital ship. This theme began with the first Macross, the SDF-1 Macross.....

And that was how the short break went.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I have been a reluctant technopreneur for two years now – I have resisted being called one, and have even downplayed my part in the establishment of my company. But who am I kidding? There’s no Marxism left in my blood. I’ve become a capitalist, profit-driven yettie:

Yettie stands for YOUNG ENTREPRENEURIAL TECHNOCRATS which, according to Sifton, is “a new branch on the business culture’s evolutionary tree. A yettie is a founder of an internet company who cannot explain to his mother exactly what he does for a living. Certainly, the yettie is media savvy, possesses stock options, and is wickedly smart. His political opinions are likely to be libertarian, conservatively retrofitted to allow for what he sees as his inevitable massing of wealth. Greed is neither good nor bad to the yettie. It is a simple entitlement – one that comes to the smart, the hardworking, the wise, the lucky, the perceptive – to the yettie.”

There are many kinds of yetties, but MSP and I fall into two distinct categories – I am the MARKETING GEEK, while he is the typical YETTIE CEO:

The Yettie CEO has a deep background in technology and a confidential understanding of his product – after all, he built the product. To him, entrepreneurship is a divine calling and not just an aspect of his personality. He assumes huge risk for huge profit. He may, in the wake of a big revenue inflow, purchase a toy for himself: a complete set of comic books. He will continue to drive his Nissan Sentra until someone offers him a Mercedes Benz at discount. He sometimes sleeps at work, under his desk.

Yada yada yada (snore). Enough about him. This post is about the person who compensates for the Yettie CEO’s limited social skills – the person who truly keeps technocracy afloat.

This post is about ME.

Except for some minute details, I am essentially the Marketing Geek Sifton describes in his book:

1- I don’t wear eyeglasses, but if I did, it would probably be tortoiseshell glasses from Oliver Peoples. They would add IQ points to my appearance. Not that I need them, no.

2- A diamond pendant my boyfriend gave me on our second anniversary, which is the last time I remember crying about a happy thing.

3- A cashmere sweater set (or silk-cotton blend, depending on the weather). These ensembles let us Marketing Geeks deal with temperature changes, and the varying occasions that sometimes require us to show some skin (just take the cardigan off).

4- A convenient pre-Patek watch.

5- Capris – which may very well pass from fashion soon – are so comfortable that we are virally-testing if they can be renamed “banjo pants.” That should keep them au courant.

6- Designer bag (right now I carry Dior, Gucci, or Longchamp). According to Sifton, “there’s something counter-intuitive about marketing laptop-free.”

7- Prada! We just love saying that word. It sets us apart from the dorks we work with. Let the rest of the technocracy wear clunky shoes; I wear designer loafers because I can.

As THE Marketing Geek, I own half the company, am responsible for making it look good to clients, and know more about business development and sellable content than the clueless Yettie CEO who codes all day (to prove that he’s still the alpha-male, “da mighty programo.”) Suck it, CEO. I am YOUR IMPLEMENTOR. Cyberlords like you wait for a Mercedes Benz discount – I actually have a Mercedes. I like to think in my car, while listening to Bach, running a list of things I have to do to increase revenue (from conception to pricing to promotion to distribution). I do the same thing at three in the morning, typing emails in bed.

Anyway, being THE Marketing Geek has stripped me of my Marxist tendencies. I am now more in tune with the nature of capitalism than I am with Veblen’s attempts at equality. At the end of the day, it’s the bottomline I protect – not the jobs, not the people.

Don’t get me wrong. I pay people REALLY well. I provide a clean, ergonomic office. I even provide good medical and dental plans. But in between the stress of mentally computing cash flows and pleasing difficult clients, I have no time to get to know employees. Look, employee number 005. I appreciate your hard work and I’m ready to give you a raise, but don’t expect me to ask about how your dog is.

The sad truth about a technocracy – or any company, for that matter – is that employees are led to believe that they have a stake when really, they don’t. Other entrepreneurs would crucify me for saying this, but it is the truth: ONLY PROFIT MATTERS.

Many employees still think that they are indispensable to the companies they work for just because (a) they get paid well and because (b) their boss (a middle-management non-owner) tells them that they are. This hypocrisy has got to end. Sure, you are important, but you are not indispensable. If you leave, the business will go on. You probably have illusions that the owner of the company you left would feel heartbroken over your resignation, but believe me – he’s just relieved that you didn’t last long enough to qualify for paid leaves. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. The day you resign, he goes off to his usual fancy dinner, while you start another job for yet another master.

Fortunately, my new reality has immunized me to these hypocrisies. I never mislead employees into thinking that they should stay for many years. I tell them point-blank that what I offer is a good starting point – nice salary, flexible working hours, and relaxed management. They are free to explore other careers. Heck, they are even free to start their own technocracies – to use what they learn from us to spin their own ideas and get out of employee-dom.

You work for me, I pay you well. We’re both happy. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’re vital to operations, and I won’t delude myself into thinking that I am really your boss. Sounds fair? Welcome to my company.

It’s this honesty and fairness that I am proud of. It’s what enables me to create jobs, opportunities, and some wealth for this third world nation.

Hmm. Turns out I’m still Marxist.

Friday, March 14, 2008

voices in my head

Half of me -- the one named Sylvia -- wants to buy this Chanel bag. The other half of me -- the one named
Thorstein -- wants to just keep the money.

Thorstein is winning so far.

If I can't afford dinner the next time we meet, Sylvia probably killed Thorstein.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I hate tacky weddings

(WARNING: This post rants ala Wilhelmina Slater.)

You're a mean person.

Me: And you're wearing polyester.

* * * *

So I attended a wedding yesterday, and these were the things I had to endure:

The bride and the groom singing GOT TO BELIEVE IN MAGIC in Cantonese. It was hard to keep a straight face. I managed. To see how, read #2.

Fake fish, fake meat. They served vegan. Eating sweet and sour taro kept my facial movement to a minimum, thus making me appear appreciative of the tackiness that was the whole wedding.

A green-and-red-and-gold motif. Seriously -- are these people color blind?

Fake Chanel bags everywhere. Please, ladies. If you are attending a wedding, leave your pleather knockoffs at home.

A god awful audio-video presentation. It featured pictures of the couple in weird poses -- you know, arms around each other, noses touching, lips almost kissing? Like uptight porn?

* * * *

The only thing that kept me alive was the knowledge that in a sea of too-fitted polyviscose blends, I was a standout in my relaxed cotton-silk voile cap sleeve dress by Leon Max:

I also carried an odd-looking bucket handbag made of real sheep fur.

* * * *

Weddings suck.