Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Right Hand Rule

                 It was another day at the site. As a designer of buildings, I am tasked to talk to clients regarding their taste for a certain design. This has something to do with their culture. Today I meet with a client, a Saudi national who is also a friend of my boss. After a long walk of discussions regarding the changes within his house, we have gathered for some coffee break in a small space within the unfinished building.Two mats were laid while dates fruit and Arabic coffee is served. I've heard our client saying "tfadel" inviting me to dig in. So like them, I also crossed my legs as I sat on the carpet. I was in front of him and beside me is my boss who is also a Saudi national. After I sat, the client looked at me and was surprised I was able to sit with legs crossed. I told him it's normal. Then he told me that it was not ordinary for non Arabs to sit that way. But I've known for a long time that the Oriental culture were used to this. While drinking coffee, they had a few conversation with my boss to which I do not belong because they were conversing in Arabic. This is a typical situation for me to watch them talk without understanding. It's like watching a non-English movie without subtitles. After I finished my cup, the client noticed it and offer me another. So he asked me to hand me my cup and so I did. Although he was in front of me, he was slightly on the far left so I decided to give him my cup using my left hand. Then my boss beside me somewhat reacted that I should have used my right hand instead. Then I offered my apologies. I really don't know it was a part of their culture to use the right hand as a sign of respect. I thought it won't matter if i use my left hand. My right hand was holding seeds of dates and I thought it's more practical to use my left hand to hand him the cup since it can reach his hand conveniently. I learned something today about their gesture and culture and from now on I will always keep that in mind.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Genie in Maroon

Today is the Feast of the Black Nazarene. It is a special event for most Filipinos especially for devotees to participate in a procession of the statue of Jesus Christ in Quiapo,Manila every 9th of January. Devotees are walking barefoot, wearing maroon shirt and aiming to hold the rope that pulls the carriage of the statue. Most of them are doing this as part of their "Panata" or a sworn tradition of doing something in exchange of a wish granted or something good to happen. Example is good health,surviving an accident or cancer and the like. For others do it to show their strong religious belief. The said event has been a great part of the Filipino tradition and culture. But as of me, I don't have anything against that. I can't question the logic of faith and religion. But my suggestion is this, why not take hard work, pray to God with all your heart, and accept all things as it happens and be a good man everyday of the year instead of following a black statue in a procession in order for a wish to be granted. I bet most people will disagree because the former takes a lot of time,work and effort and the latter will take only one day. One day that a genie can make a wish come true.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome 2013!

2012 has been a great year for me and I am so thankful for all the good things that happened. After all the hard times that I've been through I eventually survived them all. I finally get to go back home after two years of working abroad, I passed my architect licensure exam with flying colors (I ranked top 8), I celebrated Christmas and New Year with my family again. I feel so blessed. Last year I learned that good things happen if you really work hard and pray. You have to take risks, believe, and patiently wait for the right time. I also learned the playful dimension of destiny. That thing that you can not control, you can not ask and you can not expect, but if it is for you it will eventually come to your life whether you like it or not. Faith is its prerequisite.

For this year, I could not expect much. The least I could do it to be hopeful and thankful that I keep on surviving. To the One above "thank you for another year!". Another set of blank pages to fill up. Another Goodspeed to continue.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Digital Camera With A Phone

Yesterday I finally got myself a Nokia N8. Though I had some arguments with the salesman who gave me the wrong N8 to convince me to buy the unit. I really thought I already did a comprehensive review about the Nokia N8 but I was really surprised that there are 8 GB units sold in the market nowadays that are also dual band only (meaning you can't use it outside the country). That's the reason I was caught in the middle when I already agreed on the discounted price, thinking it was the 16 GB unit Then after the unit is already in my hands, he told me that it was dual band. I was really surprised and clueless to hear that, then i returned the unit to him and ask him to give me the original Nokia n8 i was looking for. Maybe that's why they are selling it for cheaper.

Anyways after reading a lot of reviews, I finally got a new phone. I love Nokia. The original mobile phone before the Android and iPhone era. It maybe outdated compared to a lot of smartphones nowadays but there are reason why i chose this amazing phone.

First of all, I already have a Samsung Galaxy SL and the reason why i got myself a nokia n8 is because of the camera. I need a decent camera that I can also use for phone calls. Yes, I already had the Samsung and it has a camera but not quite as good as the N8. And the Samsung Galaxy doesn't have a dedicated camera button for stable picture taking and no flash. I am using it for internet browsing on 3g. The data sim available here unfortunately can;t make phone calls making it necessary for me to get another phone that's why i decided to get another. I have read a lot of reviews about smartphones and camera phones. So far the Nokia N8 still stand out as the best camera phone. I am really impressed with the quality of the pictures it takes. I can say it can replace a really good point and shoot camera.

The good points of Nokia N8
-Superior Camera even in low lights.
-Good battery life.
-Simple and elegant and solid design
-Simple and easy to use.
-Music player is excellent
-Expandable memory
-HDMI availability
-moutability of external usb drives

The not so good
-Poor internet browser
-No syncing. There is but not like the android and iphone which automatically syncs photos,videos and other files to a cloud.
-No viable applications

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gestures and Greetings of the Arabs

In the arab culture, gestures and greetings are important part of social life. It is a norm for every man to acknowledge the presence of every person within your space. Unlike in the Philippines or most western culture that i know where a simple nod is enough as a greeting, it is necessary to say "Assalamalaikum" or give a hand shake even in informal situations. They never runout of standard phrases to sayeverytime they meet a person even let say they have met the person a while ago.

Here are some of the important phrases and gestures that they say and do:

Assalamalaikum- the english translation of this is "peace e upon you". Although this is a Muslim greeting, this phrase is embedded in the Arab culture. It is commonly said to a person you just see or an introduction in every phone call.

Kef halek- this means how are you. A standard phrase after assalamalaikum. But i've noticed that they just don't consider the person they're talking with but also they ask how's everyone in the family,friends etc.

Jazak allah kheir- translated as "may God reward you" in english. A phrase commonly say after a thank you or "shukran". This may also mean thank you but saying after thank you emphasizes the meaning.

Yatik al affiyah- "may God give you strength". I often hear this during as a closing remark like saying goodbye or even just seeing a person.

Putting a hand in the chest- this is a commond gesture which means that it is a pleasure meeting a person after a greeting.

Kissing in the cheek- i find it very awkward the first time i saw a man kissing another man in the cheek. It is one of the few things i've noticed when i arrived in Saudi Arabia the first time. It is common norm throughout the arab world to kiss a friend or a family in thr cheek. However this is only true for the same sex. A man kissing a woman who is not a close relative is hardly acceptable. I also noticed that there is a standard way of performing this (i've secretly studied the technique everyitme a situation.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pilipino Ako! Pero.

Masarap maging Pinoy. Maabilidad, matalino, masigasig, matiyaga at masipag. Pero sa kabila nito. May mga bagay na dapat siguro na isantabi na natin. Mga bagay na humahadlang sa atin para marating talaga ang tunay na ibig sabihin ng Galing ng Pilipino.

Sadya kong isinulat ang post na ito sa salitang tanging Pinoy lang ang makakaintindi. Para lubos nating maunawaan ang ating mga kakulangan. Kumbaga "Usapang Pamilya lang." Ang layunin ko ay para harapin ang katotohanan na meron talaga tayong problema sa ating kinagisnan at marahil sa ating kultura na dapat na natin iwanan o di kaya kalimutan na lang. Katulad ng mga sumusunod.

Pakikisama. Sa papaanong paraan nga ba ang tamang pakikisama? Pakikisama para saan? Sama sama sa pag unlad? Sama sama din ba tayong maghihirap? Ang Pinoy likas na matulungin. Pero minsan sa ang pagtulong natin sa kapwa, may hinahanap na kapalit. Kahit sa maling paraan. Halimbawa may humingi ng pabor sa isang tao, madalas may inaasahan tayong kapalit sa pagtulong na kahit sa maling paraan o panahon ay hihingin natin ito sa taong tinulungan dahil sa konsepto ng "Utang na loob" na kapag tumanggi ka na tumulong, sasabihin sa'yo wala kang pakisama. Kahit na ang hinihingi sayong pabor kapalit ng tulong ay ang paggawa ng maling bagay. Madalas ito sa pulitika. Kaya nga marami tayong nahahalal na pinuno kahit hindi naman sapat ang abilidad para mamuno. Kasi nahalal lang dahil sa pakikisama.

Malapit sa Pamilya. Hindi ko naman sinasabing masama ito. Pero may ilang mga bagay na naglalagay sa atin sa kapahamakan dahil na rin sa Pamilya. Mga taong ikinukubli o di kaya'y kinukunsinti ang maling gawain ng kapamilya kasi pamilya nga eh. Dapat ipagtanggol. Pero ipagtanggol sa maling paraan. Kaya nga sa Pilipinas maraming political dynasty. Kasi kinunsinti din natin na magkaroon ng mga ganito. Hinayaan natin na may maluklok sa posisyon kahit hindi naman para sa bayan ang interes.

Talangka. Hindi ko alam kung bakit sa atin pa napunta ang ganitong kaisipan. Maiuugnay din natin ito sa pakikisama. Sa isang banda naisip ko kaya siguro natin hinahatak ang isang taong umaangat kasi gusto natin pantay pantay tayo. Walang lamangan. Kung saan yung isa, doon dapat lahat. Inggit. Maling pakikisama.

Regionalism. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang tamang salita sa Tagalog dito. Pero naitatanong ko rin to palagi sa isip ko. Bakit sa Pinas magawi ka lang sa norte iba na ang salita. Bakit ang tao kapag tinawag na bisaya (aminin natin ang realidad) baduy o di kaya katulong. Si Inday o si Dodong. Siguro dala na rin ng pagkakalayo layo ng mga isla sa Pinas kung bakit hindi tayo magkasundu-sundo. Kung bakit iba iba tayo ng paniniwala. Dito rin lumalabas ang pagiging racist natin. Ang Pinoy kapag nakakarinig ng biro galing sa ibang bansa umaangal agad. Pero bakit tayo may mga tawag din tayo sa ibang lahi. Halimbawa na lang sa mga Indians ang tawag natin bumbay na nagpa 5-6 at nagbebenta ng payong at kumot.

"Bakit kapag nagsalita ka ng ingles sasabihin sayo sosyal o trying hard o di kaya call center agent?" Samantalang natural naman sa Pinoy ang magsalita ng English. Tayo nga lang yata ang may ganitong salita sa asya. Dito tayo angat kaya hindi dapat iniisip ang mali sa pagsasalita ng ingles.

Sa bandang huli Pilipino pa rin tayo. Palagi nating sinasabi "Proud to be Pinoy". Ayaw nating na mababa ang tingin sa atin ng ibang tao. Pero naitanong ba natin sa mga sarili natin kung nararapat ba talaga tayong ipagmalaki ang sarili natin? Masayang maging Pinoy pero masmainam kung maitatakwil na natin yung mga ganitong kaisipan na humahatak sa atin pababa. Parang talangka...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What a life?

Days really fly so fast. I will be celebrating my birthdays after two weeks and I'm not getting any younger at twenty five. So what's in an age? It has been always a mind boggling topic for me to come and think about how people age and how it materializes into steps in life where you find your fate unpredictable. I always look up to something whenever i get older. I start to realize the things that I have, the things I've made, and my plans for the future. Suddenly, I am a bit scared with a feeling of being challenged on how I grasp life.

I am young. And this has been a fact for so many years that I try so hard to avoid thinking about how my life would be ten or twenty years from now. However, it is really an obsession of my mind to analyze the life of other people and reflect myself through it. Whenever I meet or hear a story about a person, I begin to seek interesting details about life. The bachelor years, career, marriage, family, children, etc. And all of these things I delineate in my mind a timeframe of a person's life. In order for me to analyze in a more tangible way.

Most of the people I look after to are the professionals or I'd rather say career-oriented people. Because it seems to be a realistic manifestation of a good life (in my opinion). However I also see life of common people. Based on what I saw, most people who chose to concentrate on their career had much chances of getting a stable life. Since most of them tend not to get married right away. A life being single. Where most of the chances are visible without any hesitation. A life with no strings attached where you have enough time and freedom to take the best opportunities. More time being you and building yourself for the better until you finally giving up all these for the family. This is one way of how I visualize life into a perspective. But nevertheless, you can't really perfect life nor predict what will happen afterwards.