Friday, September 29, 2006

Something to smile about today.

My favourite picture, taken a few years ago. Gritty, intimate, and real.

After everything that's happened in the past few days, I needed something to be happy about.

Pensive, 5PM, sipping coffee at my desk.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Quickie coffee is a mistress.

It was a warm evening when we walked to our favourite coffee shop along Leviste, a few blocks from where I work. Some joggers whizzed by, indifferent to our occupying most of the sidewalk. The air felt heavy with promise of rain.

When we got there, Gino settled for a café mocha while I debated whether to get a half-decaf of anything at all. Having coffee after six would keep me up well past midnight. I plunked down a hundred and ten bucks for a short caramel macchiatto. Half-decaf.

The sofa by the store window was our spot. It was in fact, an odd little space, not quite where all the tables where grouped together. Separate yet shared. It also felt like teetering between being inside and outside the store at the same time. The overhead lamps gave it a warm, illuminating feel.

Some nights we play catch up on stories and engage in a little shoptalk; and then there are those evenings where you just come across a thought-provoking discussion on what’s there all along.

“There’s really nothing like having coffee this way,” he said, referring to the sweetened brew in his mug. “Instant coffee doesn’t even come close.”

Because it’s instant gratification. That’s all it is.

A teaspoon in a mug, some hot water, maybe a bit of sugar and cream – all you need to deliver that quickie boost.

The relationship here is an obligatory one, and self-serving. No delight in it except for the expected dose of caffeine. Nuances and tastes are lost, as is with relationships that are fleeting and forgetful. There’s not much to remember by. Nothing to savour except for the bitter aftertaste it gives you.

Coffee that’s gingerly prepared from bean to cup proffers a lot of attention. Nothing about it feels exploited or cheated. The taste unfolds in your cup and there’s a richness to savour. Scents linger even after the cups are emptied. The kind of sensitivity expressed in making this kind of coffee just feels more intimate. Even long after the caffeine is gone; you would always remember what it was you had in that cup of coffee.

The rain came down hard that night, pelting hapless pedestrians with large drops. I gazed outside the window, looking at how fast the street emptied of people.

“And there’s nothing like sharing coffee with you,” I told him, smiling at my own cheesiness. In exchange for this confession, I am rewarded with a lingering kiss that’s as warm and memorable as the coffee in my mug.

Loving where I am, 7 in the evening.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bored ad guys procrastinating overtime work

Here's what you see past 8pm, with nary a boss in sight.

My stick is longer than yours.

The requisite boy band pose.

Koya, wag po, koya.

I think I just saw an ad idea.

Blue squinties.

Yet another requisite boy band pose.

Uwing-uwi na. 8:50PM, the Ohjilbi office.

Walking photo tour of Binondo.

Binondo has always been part of my childhood not only because I'm Chinese, but because I grew up having an assortment of dimsum and other herbal medicines at home. When my classmates would bring baon of hotdog and rice, I'd bring a Thermos lunchbox full of stir-fried beef and broccoli, and fried siomai. It didn't occur to me that most kids don't have the luxury of "gourmet" lunches from home.

First meal stop. Where is this again?

I can't quite remember where we went first, but it was a small dimsum place that used to be a firefighter's hangout. Old fireman hats adorn the walls and you can actually ask to try them on. Just make sure there are no cucarachas lurking beneath the lining inside.

La Resurreccion Chocolate

Inhale deeply when visiting this chocolate (tablea) factory on Ongpin Street. La Resurreccion Chocolate is a slightly cramped space where moulds of chocolate are prepared the old-fashioned way. Keep your tongue away. The chocolate is bitter, they way they normally are unprocessed.

Ongpin-Salazar streets

Comfort and simplicity are key when exploring the streets of Binondo. None of those frou-frou things that make you look like an outsider begging to be pickpocketed. The walking tour we had was big on WALKING. If you're iffy about getting a little soot on your feet, ditch the Havaianas, and go for sneakers.

Payphone and energy drink bottle.


The two men playing chess were oblivious to any potential intrusion, including me and my camera. I had to crouch a bit and inch slowly to get a better look. It was a good call to take this in B&W.

I'm planning yet another trip to Binondo, on my own this time and just take in the sights (and the food of course). I've been here so many times, yet there's really nothing like new discoveries in familiar places. It's like re-reading a book or watching a movie again - you always see something that you didn't see before.

And besides, I hate to be a foreigner in my own country and it still baffles me to this day that there are still some people who have no idea where Ongpin is (darling, that's where your tikoy comes from.)

For more walking tours, check out Ivan Dy's Old Manila Walks

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Was the gesture insufficient? Hell yeah! - NWA updates

And here's the latest on NWA.


Dear Ms. Tan,

Thank you for your additional feedback. Please know that my first apology was most sincere. The compensation you received was not meant to place a value on your experience. Neither was it meant to directly compensate for your dissatisfaction. It was a good faith effort to make amends for your dissapointment with our service. I regret that you feel our goodwill gesture was insufficient.


Patricia Celis
Northwest Airlines


Dear Patricia,

Don't take it personally. NWA, through your email did admit to negligence, and that alone already gives me sufficient reason to file charges against NWA.

Do expect a letter from my attorney on how this case will be pursued.

Thanks for the offer, but no thanks.

- e i l e e n -

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thank you for flying with NWA. Not. - the response from NWA

Wow. Salamat ha. They replied five days after. Talk about initiative and consumer concern.


Dear Ms. Tan,

Thank you for your email last September 4, 2006 regarding the ticket you purchased online.

We sincerely apologize for all the inconvenience and recognize your frustration. It is dissapointing to note that you were not notified in advance of the cancellation. Our general procedure when a card is declined is to advise the customer of the situation and state their options. Additionally, let me take this opportunity to explain our procedure for online reservations, a customer goes through the following steps:

a) Search for a flight

b) Select desired schedule

c) Accept the terms and conditions of the fare

d) Indicated travel preferences

e) Supply billing and delivery information

After the process above, the customer is given confirmation number for the reservation. As noted in the page, an Electronic Ticket and Trip Summary (TSR) receipt will be issued for the flight. This will be be sent by email.

We regret the confusion with regards to the difference between the itinerary confirmation and an E-ticket. The document you held was only a confirmation of the reservation as it did not indicate your e-ticket number information. As noted in the web page under delivery details, Northwest Airlines will be sending a separate E-Ticket Trip Summary and Receipt. It was highly unfortunate that you were not able to call our reservations office when the E-ticket was not delivered within 24 hours.

Our service levels and reliability suffered in this situation. Feedback like yours assist us strive continually to improve our reservation process and customer experience. To this end, your concerns have been forwarded to the responsible management staff so improvements can be made.

Ms. Tan, we value you as our client. As a concrete manifestation of our concern and gesture of our goodwill, we would like to offer you a USD$200 Transportation Credit Voucher which you can use on your next flight. This entitles you to a discount off the purchase of a qualifying published ticket for roundtrip travel solely on Northwest Airlines, KLM, Continental, Mesaba, Express I and other designated airline flights. We will deliver the said voucher to the address we have on file at Ogilvy 15th Floor Philamlife Tower 8767 Paseo De Roxas Makati City 1200, Philippines.

We appreciate the opportunity to review this matter with you and hope to see you onboard Northwest Airlines soon.


Patricia Celis
Northwest Airlines


And my response:

Dear Patricia,

I'm sorry but I have to decline your offer of a Transportation Credit Voucher.

First of all, the 'Purchase Confirmation' email I received from NWA Reservations confirms the purchase I made. And, I quote, "If E-Tickets are available for your flight, you will receive an E-Ticket Trip Summary and Receipt (TSR) by email. If the E-Ticket option is not available, you will receive paper tickets by mail. If you do not receive your TSR before you depart you can print and carry a copy of your itinerary available in the "My Itineraries" section in Online Reservations." I was able to print out 'My Itineraries' which proves that the transaction was made. And I had this document with me when I went to the airport on September 2.

I am also no stranger to online transactions, having been a customer of various online retailers such as Normally when the credit card is invalid, a prompt automatically informs the consumer that this is so. My experience with the NWA online facility did not reflect this at all. Therefore, you cannot simply illustrate your procedure just like that, because there was neglect on your part. And I quote, "Our general procedure when a card is declined is to advise the customer of the situation and state their options."

I am severely disappointed with how my complaint was handled, much less how you intend to compensate me. I feel insulted. I have already spoken to my lawyer and we will take legal action against NWA for proper indemnification. I am also bringing this case to various consumer groups and PR firms to document what has happened.

Fuming at my desk. 630 PM.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Thank you for flying with NWA. Not.

4am. The familiar ringing of my alarm clock roused me from my slumberless sleep. I was up until around two in the morning, my head pregnant with thoughts of life-changing possibilities with another creative agency.

My luggage sat in the darkness, its neon stickers watching me. It wasn't at all hard to get up. In two days, my cousin is getting married. And I'm flying off to San Diego to attend his wedding. On top of a hill.

I made myself breakfast at five - stove-cooked oatmeal and a serving of blueberries to go with it. I was struggling whether to keep my eye drops in my bag or stow it in the luggage. I didn't want to deal with airport paranoia over a thumb-sized liquid container.

By 6, I was already at the airport, ready to check in with my luggage. I felt pretty good about booking my tickets online and selecting my seats already. This should be a breeze.

When I got to the check-in counter, the guy told me that I didn't have a seat on the plane. Anakngpowtah. He directed me to another counter where the lady wasn't of much help either. I asked for an upgrade but all she told me was the flight is full. Bollocks. And besides, I wasn't on their records so I can't ask for one. But if I wanted, I could purchase business class seats for 3K. Gee, thanks, ha? No other options were presented.

Incensed and disappointed, I phoned a sleepy boyfriend at 7 to check other airlines and schedules online. But any other flight would make me miss the wedding anyway. I had to be on that one. But it didn't happen.

I went home, head throbbing and emotionally drained. The drive back was one long discussion with my parents about the fiasco. My dad said I should sue.

It was harder to break the news to the folks in the U.S. who had just come from the wedding rehearsals and were excited to see me, after almost 10 years of being apart.

There was nothing else I could do except wait for Monday to come and file a complaint. I never had a problem with other airlines, maybe except for PAL's perennial lateness. The whole time, I thought, I should have flown SQ.

In hindsight, maybe I wasn't meant to take that flight (that's the superstitious schtick kicking in). But for whatever reason it may be, I will miss that wedding on the hill. And Labour Day weekend sales.

Reluctant to unpack. My room. 9AM.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Shoot. Deer-in-headlights planner.

I spent the last day of August posing for a beauty brand in a small hotel in Makati. It's one of those low-budget things where the ad agency is always a good source of willing talents (salamat sa gift pack!).

My expectations of the "shoot" were actually quite low. In my head, it was going to be our art director (Mike "the tongue" Sicam) with the office camera and us hamming it up in the conference room with some beauty products.

Well, it wasn't pala. And smiling is such hard work (bastos jokes help a lot).

Byuti shyut. Mukhang mabango!

Hilamos shot.

Sabi ni direk, kunwari nag-tsitsismisan kayo

All photos by Erik Liongoren.

The man does wonderful work. I know his style to be more gritty and edgy. Whaddaya know.