Friday, December 09, 2005

A gift of our Lady

It was the feast of the Immaculate Conception yeterday and a holy day of obligation. I was not feeling too well so rested at home. I think my blood pressure went up due to past days activities.

I had so many calls and had to send urgent emails to some people so I was rushing like mad to reach Don Bosco church on time. The unexpected traffic didnt help any. I saw my watch and it said 415pm. I was still on the expressway. The mass is aWt 430pm. If there was no traffic it would have been ok but I guess being December expect the hassle.

I felt guilty for Mama Mary has always been good to me and I will be late on her special day! The clock is ticking away. When I reached the skyway it was way past 430pm. Gosh I said to myself, hope the church hymns are long and the priest will not talk too fast so I can reach even up to the gospel.

We went fairly fast after the skyway so we reached the church around 450pm. It was still raining but I was suprised the main doors were opened! I was wondering what part of the mass that was. I saw Joy, one of our favorite manangs. I asked what happened, because it seems the mass has not started. Don Bosco masses always start on time. She said there was an ordination of priests and everyone in the religious community was present so the priest got delayed.

I was so happy becuase I felt mama mary did that for me. She knew I will be late and didnt want me to be thus the ordination stretched longer so I will be on time :)

Not only that, I forgot about the indulgence - confession and communion with the mass (maritess sent me a text reminder the previous day). Then I saw two priests hearing confession. I asked Joy who was in the other confessional box (Fr. Faroni is a permanent fixture on the other box), she said Fr. Bernie. Oops I said, hmmm I know them both so where will I go?

I decided to take a seat first and rest. Was dizzy, my BP still I guess. After a couple of mins I decided to go to Fr. Faroni's box, with the lesser line. He gets angry when youre bad so some people get scared like me :) But he is dad's favorite confessor so I guess I was meant to go to him this time.

Thanks mama mary for that special sanctifying grace!

Canadian Trade Commission Christmas gathering

Last night, I together with Norelyn attended the Canadian Trade Commission Christmas party at the house of Ms. Ellen Ruth Zeisler at Dasmarinas Village, Makati, Commercial Counsellor and Senior Trade Commissioner.

When I first received the invitation last week, I wondered who sent it. I remember meeting people from the Canadian Trade twice, once during a meeting of the "Powerful Women" with Sen Magsaysay and the Canadian Trade people and the recent one was during the Cebu ICT month last June.

As the night progressed I learned that it was Lyn, the trade commissioner , also in charge of ICT, who sent the invite. I had to ask permission if I could bring another board member and they agreed yesterday so I asked Norelyn. It was raining the whole day so traffic was bad. It was so bad that we thought it was the friday jam but it was only thursday! It took us an hour just to get out of Ayala Avenue. I guess it was a combination of the bad weather, the holiday month of December, and it was the feast of the Immaculate Conception and a holiday of obligation so those who were not able to hear mass earlier were rushing to church.

The invitation said 630pm but we reached the place almost 8pm! As to be expected, lots of expats filled the place. We went straight to the food area so we can fill our stomachs before exchanging pleasantries with everyone.

I noticed that there was a "Happy Hannukah" greeting at one of the tables and kosher food was displayed. Apparently the trade commissioner is Jewish. i was looking for the Israel Ambassador or anyone from the Israeli embassy who had been long time friends of PICS but apparently they left early.

Inside the first room where the kosher food was, I met Clarisse (Innove Communications), my batchmate in college, Mona Montemayor my former officemate at the bank who is now an executive at ING, and Lyn. They pointed to us that the pasta table was outside.

After our meal, its now time to go around and meet people. I noticed Richard Mills, CEO of Chalre, who gave an interesting presentation during the last BPAP meeting, refuting the recent negative report by McKinsey about the Philippines. I thanked him for sending me the soft copy of his presentation.

When I went to the small room to get some dessert, I met Mina Gabor (Philsmed) who just arrived and was starting to take some cocktails. I asked her how the first saturday healing sessions were in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. I have not yet gone back since then but planning to next year.

While I was on the way back to where Norelyn was, I saw Cynthia Mamon (Sun Microsystems) who apparently just arrived, in a huddle with Atty. Rudy Salalima, legal counsel of Globe Telecom, and Renato Garcia President of PETEF and Lyn.

I asked Atty Salalima why he never accepted any of our recent invitation for him to speak. Apparently he never got any of them. He wanted a repeat of the first time he spoke in our congress together with Cong. Imee Marcos for he thrives on controversial themes :)

Much later I remembered I had a camera in my bag so I asked the waiter to take our photo. Mona came along and offered to take the shot. The first one as shown above was just Tato Garcia, Norelyn, me, Atty Salalima, and Mina Gabor while on the second one we were joined by the Senior Trade Commissioner. Actually Cynthia and Lyn as I can recall was in the first photo but I guess Mona left them out on the frame :)

Why did I have my camera? Because I knew I was going to post a blog and I needed some photos :) The only photo which I really took, with my phone was the Happy Hannukah sign and Kosher food, which I was going to upload here, but gosh when I was checking on my phone I think I tapped on the wrong button - trash instead of save :(

We left the place around 915pm. Still raining outside but lesser traffic.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Business matching event with Korean companies

Last Dec. 2, a business matching event was held organized by the Korean Trade office in partnership with the Philippine Internet Commerce Society (PICS).

The delegation was headed by Mr. Eugene Jun, the President of the Incheon Information Technology Industry Promotion Agency (IITPA).

The night before the event, the whole delegation headed by the Korean Trade Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner attended the PICS Christmas party in order to meet other filipino member entrepreneurs and savor filipino celebration.

There were more than 20 firms which signed up to have appointments with the various Korean companies which started 830am till 5pm. I gave a talk on the Overview of the Philippine ICT Industry noontime right after lunch.

There were lots of interesting products from the different korean companies. I was able to sit in three of them but one major problem was the language barrier. Despite the presence of translators, it was really quite a feat trying to understand them. At the start of the conversation, it was pretty easy but once you get into more technical details it was difficult. I tried to use the simplest english but comprehending the heart of the product was quite hard. When you need to discuss details of how a Content Management solution can integrate with the overall portal plan plus underlying structure, wow it sure is quite a gargantuan task trying to make it sound simple.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A sad incident at Fridays Glorietta

I had been a loyal patron of the various Bistro group Resto's esp Italiannis. Why? Not only because of the good food but great service. Of course at times some 'palpaks' do happen but the managers handle them well. Except for this one though. For the very first time, I had to secure the email and contact info of the groups Managing Director so I can write the letter of complaint which you can see below.

Last night a get a cursory apology email from the GM. I felt insulted. Perhaps they really need some training on good and proper customer service. Its a pity that the good service seem to come only from some in Italiannis. Its not reflected with all the other groups.

If the culture on good customer management emanates from the top then it will trickle down all throughout the organization. Its truly sad if only a part is passionate about serving clients then. They wont last very long.


Dear Mr. Stelton,

I am one of the loyal customers of Bistro Group, specially Italiannis. I am writing you right now due to a very unfortunate incident a few hours ago at Fridays, Glorietta 3. I am copy furnishing Paul Manuud here since he personally knows me as well as my friends who regularly go to Italiannis.

My friends and I just came from the annual homecoming at the Ateneo de Manila University in Loyola Heights. We left the school around past 11pm hoping to catch dinner in makati. Since it was very late then, close to midnight, I suggsted going to Italiannis for I know it closes beyond midnight. My friends though, wanted to try Fridays at glorietta. I was not that hungry then so I just ordered a cup of soup and just shared the salad. While my friends were taking their entree, we heard the truly defeaning sound of the bells which signalled last order. I emphasized the word defeaning for I had to put my hand on my ears or my eardrums might get affected.

I guess that was around 1am. The waiter approached us to ask if we wanted to add anything else, so we said we just wanted some dessert. He asked if we wanted anymore entrees since we can order the dessert much later. As far as I know when the waiter asks for any last order that means including dessert but he insisted we can order it later.

Right after the bells rang, they put off the aircon. It was really very warm. We asked for any electric fan and the waiter said he will get one but it never arrived. We then asked for the dessert menu. Later he came back to say there are no more cooks in the kitchen so dessert is not possible. We were all so surprised. My friends were asking him why that is so when he said we can order it after the main meal. He looked so helpless so I asked him to just call the manager who being so, would, I presumed can decide what to do.

The manager told us the kitchen cabinets are closed so they can no longer serve dessert and that we should have ordered this earlier. My friends was explaining what happend - that we wanted to order but the waiter said we can do so later. He didnt seem to believe us so I blew my top! He sounded so arrogant and condescending and very rude!

I banged the table for he was answering me! He told me not to raise my voice but his voice was also angry and loud! I never encountered such rudeness in all the times that I have eaten in a restaurant. In the past there may have been problems with service but usually the manager can handle any of those. In this case the manager was the problem!!

I had never never asked for your contact info Mr. Stelton except now. There was a time i got upset with Outback but Paul just handled it and the manager was apologetic.

From the time we started to eat I knew that manager wanted us to leave. I think he wants to go home at that time. If they didnt want clients then they should have not accepted us any longer. The waiter and the manger kept approaching our table while we were discussing some serious matters, butting in to ask if evrything was ok. Thats fine as long as you ask us at least ten mins apart not ONE MINUTE apart! We felt he just wanted us to leave and close the restaurant. It was very irritating and rude.

Mr. Stelton, I will not demand that this rude manager be dismissed even if he deserves it. I know times are hard. I just demand a sincere apology from him. I also highly recommend that you re-train him and put him as an understudy of one of your trusted and experienced managers or he will ruin your business. He has a lot to learn regarding customer service. I do not need to enumerate the various ways he should have handled the situation besides telling smack on our face that the kitchen is closed and he cannot do anything!

I had worked in a service institution for more than two decades and have encountered irrate clients but had always handled this well. I never never answer back an angry client. I try to empathize and understand the situation and suggest other creative ways to rectify the problem. For your information, this manager is devoid of any creativity in hanlding customer challenges. He is not only rude, but very proud, arrogant and truly inexperienced.

I hope you can investigate the matter and will await feedback.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The 2005 Ateneo de Mla Homecoming

Where can you see TG Limcaoco (My Ayala), Al Panlilio (PLDT Global), Toti Casino (PCS), Jim Ayson (philmusic), Jinggoy Estrada, Reli German, Gary Lising, Ed Sazon, Mon Paterno (Credit Suisse), Ito Ramirez (PLDT), or even Bishop Mylo Vergara all letting their hair down as they watch Asia Agcaoili and some of the Viva hot babes perform on stage - The annual Ateneo Homecoming!

I was mulling on whether to attend this year's gathering but hesitant early on, because of the week's hectic sked so I needed so much rest. However, at this age, you sometimes get that nostalgic feeling, longing to be with good old schoolmates, compounded by the fact that I had been receiving a couple of text messages asking if I will be attending the annual reunion in loyola. I rested the whole day saturday so I will have the strength to enjoy the gathering which usually lasts till past midnight.

Top photo from left Coll78 group
photo on stage, school performers,
Lady Eagles. Next level from left:
coll78 table with Fr. Nebres, some
batchmates, hands raised while the
graduation song is sung, TG and I.
Third level from left: Al Panlilio and
HS 80 hands raised while singing the
song, me with former officemates, last
from left: batch of Gary Lising. last
rightmost, coll78 group photo on stage.

I wanted to be early so that I can hear the mass at the church of Gesu. It was first saturday and I would usually go to mass at greenbelt, don bosco or malate church. If I do so however I will be caught in a terrible traffic going to Ateneo. I fetched Clarisse at Executive Heights and we
proceeded to the Ateneo grounds. We got in during the homily and sat beside Sonia Araneta and Tina Ribas. The whole center aisle was filled with the Golden jubilarians (batch of Erap) while the right pews were filled with the HS silver jubilarians led by TG Limcaoco where Jinggoy was also included. I learned that this was the reason why San Miguel was a major sponsor. Edwin's C2 beverage was therefore banned being a Gokongwei product. As always SMART is the major sponsor specially now that its Al Panlilio's batch celebrating the silver jubilee.

I couldnt find any of the College 80 batch (mitchie, mon paterno, shankee etc) during the mass. Apparently they all got drunkand were tired the night before, the traditional gala celebration so they all were late and just proceeded to the covered court for the program.

It was drizzling when we arrived in church but it stopped when the mass ended. We were then able to join the traditional procession led by Our Lady's carossa.

When we reached the High School covered courts, I then realized it was a well organized homecoming. Each major sponsor were assigned rooms where they can showcase their products. Registration was a breeze compared to our time where it was crazy.

There were mini stages besides the main one so that program transition was smooth. Each jubilarian class had a presentation and were accorded equal honors by the organizing high school batch. Compared to other years where the program was filled with blaring bands so it was quite difficult to have long conversation, this year was filled with dance numbers, less bands, more pleasant songs (not acid rock). Obvious though was the choice of sexy FHM performers such as the viva hot babes and Asia Agcaoili who left the golden jubilarians speechless (see collage photo).

HS '80, the organizing batch includes TG Limcaoco, Al Panlilio, Jinggoy Estrada, Raffy Jose, Duke Eustaquio, among others and I liked their very informative website. The ones I saw on stage when the golden jubilarians were called were Reli German, Ed Sazon and I was informed that this was the batch of former president Erap Estrada. Prior to this, the jubilarian batch of Gary Lising performed some comedy number.

I came across the table of my former officemates which included Nardy Tiongson, Gas delos Santos, Jun Isidro who were all joined later by Jun Bernardino. I think they belonged to the HS 60s batch (or is it college?).

Was surprised to find Toti Casino (college batch 79) , a colleague in the IT industry and even Jim Ayson (college batch 83). We never discussed our schools in the past so they were equally suprised to find out I was an Atenean.

Unlike our time (2 years ago), the souvenir program was aplenty, everyone took home a copy (or even two). I can remember that last 2003, many people got upset since they never got a copy of the souvenir booklet. This is of course very precious for jubilarians for one will never know whether they will still be on this earth when the next one comes along.

Only one table for our batch was reserved but more arrived so another table had to be pulled and we had to move towards the side to accomodate the bigger group.

The first thing we did upon arrival at the covered courts was to find the table then go straight to the food for we were famished. It was just weird since many of us lined up at Teriyaki boy hoping to order some rice toppings. Apparently they didnt serve rice, only ebi tempura and some sushi so one had to line up again at Dencio's just to purchase rice. Tina gave me her receipt so I can claim both our orders at Teriyaki boy while she lined up at Dencio's. We also checked out the menu of Pancake expecting their famous pan chicken with rice, roast chicken or beef, but what they had was just mini tacos and something else not worth ordering.

When the teriyaki boy staff was still completing our order, I told them that I will just grab some drinks on the other stall and will be back in a minute. When I came back, the food we ordered was gone! It seemed they had to give them to other irate customers. I think they were just disorganized. Of course what do you expect? I raised hell so the supervisor graciously rushed another order. When I left, you can hear two more people raising their voice asking what happened to their food :) This happens each year. I guess it is really a gargantuan task just organizing the food to feed thousands of ateneans. Henry Totanes was in charge this year.

It seems many of the stalls ran out of food fast (an annual occurence). Later on though they were able to replenish so some hungry souls like me, lined up this time at Hotshots. First time I got to try their grilled burger and it tasted good. The drinks were mostly soda, beer and water. After one Coke light I really preferred to drink something lighter like tea. Fortunately, Shankee Miranda (college batch 80) called me to ask if I wanted some C2 iced tea which they brought in secretly and of course I said yes! A few hours later, I wanted to have another bottle but it was gone. Why? They were castigated since its a competitor of the major sponsor.

Met Mon at the table of college batch 80 who reminded me about the ACIL centennial celebration next week. Many of their batch didnt wear their official t shirt since it was only one size and just plain white. Shankee was complaining to me about the tshirt. Thats the reason I told her that two years ago, I volunteered to find the shirt and ordered from the smallest to the biggest size to please everyone. You need to be proud to wear it and it is a pity if not everyone will just because of the color, design or size.

The High School jubilarians had great tshirt quality and design. The year prior to our silver jubilee Chiqui Lara and I observed the various designs of the jubilarian t shirt to give us an idea of how to do it the following year. Almost all of them had creative tshirt designs unlike this year.

Ronnie Rivera was gracious enough to bring the newly printed 78 banner and placed it near our tables. Since the left stage was very near our table, I thought of calling everyone for a photo shoot together with the banner of course. I heard earlier that they didnt want the stage to be used for photos since the program was still going on. No harm though if we did it fast and of course we did it! Unfortunately Tina Ribas already left that time and Benjie Laza and Sonia Araneta was nowhere in site. Boy Ramos rushed after we took a couple of shots but it was another camera that was used so I dont have that copy. Maybe I will ask ronnie or mandy if the complete group photo is with them. The earlier photos though had had tina but I don't remember Sonia joining our batch table. Luckily we were all able to have a photo with Fr. Nebres.

As far as I can recall, below are the people of college 78 who attended: 1. Maan Tolentino 2. Clarisse Gener 3. Tina Ribas 4. Sonia Araneta 5. Mandy Pascual 6. Aster Sotto 7. Ed Wenceslao 8. Winnie Jimenez 9. Ronnie Rivera 10. Sonny Clutario 11. Joel Limjap 12. Eddie Dayrit 13. Pam Lazatin 14. Vic Santillan 15. Freddy Gemperle 16. Edwin Totanes 17. Cynch Totanes 18. Yoyo Bongco 19. Boy Ramos 20. Jovie Sison 21. Joey Cuyegkeng 22. Achoot Cuyegkeng 23. Mon Jarencio 24. Benjie Laza 25. Marcy Rivera

Other colleagues who arrived were Mito Pablo(79), Juny Lim (77), Enteng Francisco (79). I would like to thank Greg Jarencio (batch early 70s?) for taking our photos on stage.

I asked Cynch to take my photo with TG who is a good friend. We walked to the center where the organizing batch tables were. TG pulled me to the center where the pom pom girls were performing so it would have been a great shot! Unfortunately, I was not able to teach Cynch how to widen the lens so what she took was a close up shot.

Mandy, Clarisse and I left past 11pm since they were hungry and wanted to eat out. I suggested makati since its nearer the south. We ended up at Fridays but went home upset. That will be covered on another blog though.

The bigger photos could be seen in my other website