i have been monitoring the winter situation in the US almost on a daily basis since november last year. it has been a long wait for the real winter or at least for snow, the unofficial mascot of winter, it came late this winter in the US. snow only arrived middle of january instead of november or december of previous years.
having lived in snow-less asia all your life makes the arrival of snow both an exciting and daunting experience.
i remember the first time i saw snow in the US – it was in the early morning of a november month many years ago somewhere in new jersey where we stayed in a good friend’s house. we woke up early in the morning as we were flying back out to california. it was a shock, in a good way, to go out of the house and suddenly saw the whole neighborhood covered with a fine white snow blanket. color was absent except for white over every space. the place had color just the previous day!
it felt like we were looking at a painting of the place we have been staying in but the artist decided to put an abundant layer of white on the whole painting. it felt like a giant spray paint was used to lay on it an even spread of fine white snow. it was early morning and the painting was untouched and unbroken by anything, just beauty and wonderment in white snow.
it was really spectacular and would have wanted to get a near boil coffee in a mug, get thick blankets and sit on the porch and enjoy the view. but we didn’t have time to enjoy it as we needed to catch our flight back to california.
we were going to be driving to the airport and our host was good enough to give us a briefing on what to expect and what to do in driving through snow, it would be our first time to do that. aside from getting the all important briefing on driving through snow, we also needed to load our stuff into the rental which does not leave us a lot of time. more than half of the things we had belong to my 3-year-old daughter.
my android cellphone and ipod touch have the Weather Channel applications on them, even a widget on the android so that it automatically tracks and informs me of weather changes in boston. i woke up last saturday, manila time with tiny specks of snow on the weather channel application on my android phone. i immediately sent an email to boston asking – “have you seen snow yet?”.
i got an email reply, no words, just 4 pictures probably taken from a cellphone or ipod touch camera.
the reply was yet the most eloquent i ever got on email. it did that for many reasons beyond the pictures sent to me. it’s like some invisible melody coming from some place deep. this email, even without words talked straight to my heart and my heart spoke back.
time seemed to have stood still in the pictures. i wondered if seeing snow for the first time this way, which was very much like what we saw years ago evoked the same kind of feelings i felt then.
the first picture, above, is one taken from inside a window looking out to the scene outside. it reminded me of how many things have changed. things from the inside and the outside. in this picture life seemed to have changed in a very major way in over just a day so it seems. it was a familiar place because you saw it every day but now all of it seems gone, the same place redefined in a major way. while many have changed, you knew it is the same place.
all of it looking very different and yet it is the same place and knowing that with certainty. there is no contradiction there. it’s just how time and seasons operate and how it affects us and our lives in ways that sometimes we don’t understand and without permission. there is comfort there and mixed with some mystery. that is what happens when you see from the inside looking out.
i felt different things when i saw the picture above. while it seemed solitary and even sad, i saw a kiss, next a wave good bye and soon enough i see footsteps breaking the snow as they move away from me.
the footsteps will eventually go past my field of vision, beyond what i can see. and that is a good thing. more than what i can see means pathways i was unable to reach now conquered. that is always reason to be happy.
the good thing about pathways is that if it is there for the going, it is also there for the coming. in afternoons already too many to count, that has always happened. a doorbell, the same kiss and this time a hug instead of a wave good bye happened with regularity. the unsettled returns to what it was from the day that started in the morning.
but this is now snow. that is a whole different story altogether. i had broken snow myself on a pathway just a few times a long time ago. this new pathway and this snow will be broken almost everyday and soon it will be too many to count as well, made by different footsteps and not mine.
for now, i can only hope that this pathway returns to me eventually, in some future time. for sure not on a daily basis but at least once in awhile and that will be enough to fill the waiting and the half empty heart with overflowing joy.
the 3 year old is now 18 and in her hand, this time wearing red gloves, is snow. the picture above.
the snow was pressed , i can see her fingers’ indention on the snow. she went out, scooped some snow in her hand and pressed it to get a feel of snow. that is perhaps to make sure she is really there in boston. it is a good way to experience snow for the first time. it’s a very natural thing to do – squeeze the snow as if to find out what it is made of. i would have done the same.
it is also a very good way to answer the question i emailed her – “have you seen snow yet?”.
i immediately remembered that picture of hers, one of my favorites, when she was 3 when we went to New York. we had to bundle her up, with multiple layers of clothing as it was her first time to experience winter. coming from sunny philippines all her life, catching a cold is a key concern, 24/7.
for some reason she decided that her little hands held high and her face tilted with a big smile just like it is in that picture, above, will be the only pose she will ever have in that US trip. so all her pictures during that US trip had her in that exact pose. we didn’t bother asking her why she chose that pose nor did we ask her to change to other poses. it made her happy, so we let her be.
why is it that during her first trip to winter in New York when she was 3 that her hands were most prominent and now, 15 years after, she being 18 now, her first encounter with snow, the same hand is also prominent? it feels like some poetic string sprouted from that time , grew and traveled 15 years through time to this moment in that boston picture.
they are the same hands, its just that then they were from a 3 year old in that picture and now from an 18 year old holding snow.
i have read in baby books that the infant is born without yet knowing her body parts and that included her hands. the books said there will come a time when the baby will realize she has hands.
i was there when that happened to her.
it was an afternoon, she was on the bed, after a nice warm bath and she momentarily stopped wiggling her feet. i saw her whole body sort of freeze, then she stared at her hand, fixed her gaze at it then moved her head to follow it as she moved her hand from side to side. realizing what just happened, i quickly removed the cloth gloves we always put on her (prevents her from scratching her own face or poke her eye). i wanted her to see her own fingers too.
it happened exactly the way the baby books described it. it was sort of funny for me as i found the idea of not knowing you have hands sounded ridiculous and discovering it the way she did was even funnier. she looked silly keeping her gaze at her own hand and moving her head to follow her hand as she moved it.
while finding it funny, i felt a beautiful warm feeling came over me. i knew she has reached a new milestone in her life., just 3 months old. it felt good and i felt very honored to be right there to witness it when it happened. it was very special for a father to be right there with your daughter as she crossed a milestone, no matter how small it is. this was the first beginning of a new phase in her life that i had witnessed and through the years, there were many more firsts that i had witnessed.
a little sadness, more like missing her that i felt when i saw that picture of snow for the first time being in her hand. with oceans separating us, i could only experience it with her through an emailed picture. how i wish i was with her.
i had seen the same hands do many things for the first time – taking it out of her mouth from finger sucking to holding a nursing bottle to pulling at my arm and pressing my hand when she felt terrified while watching a scary movie to getting comfort as the doctor gave her an injection.
i saw that hand through different times of her life – from her first discovery that she had hands, to teaching her how to use that hand to hold things, to getting comfort and strength from me, to holding it to give her affection to a wave good bye at the airport. it has now grown to almost the size of my hand. that boston picture of snow in hand told it to me so eloquently – she is an adult now and all that i can do for now is to see what those hands are doing with several time zones separating us through a picture sent by email.
the upside is those hands that she discovered when she was 3 months old, then raised for pictures at 3 years old and now holding snow at 18 for sure will be doing great things that i will enjoy and be proud of soon enough. there is something in that a hand meant to touch is being able to touch my heart without physical contact. while i smile, my heart cries a little.
to bring back some warmth to my heart, i search for one end of that poetic string and attach it to my heart. then i heard my heart whisper through that string – “you are missed badly. and loved completely. then, now and forever.”
~~ a love letter to happiness ~~
bench is a local clothes brand that sell a complete wardrobe that cater mostly to the young. they have very good clothes at affordable prices for the pinoy teen. it is also known to have one of the most engaging outdoor advertising, mostly on EDSA with giant billboards of local and sometimes international celebrities.
they have this annual fashion show. well we are calling it a fashion show for lack of another term , where underwear is modeled by local celebrities and models. the idea for the event we suppose was picked up from the popular Victoria’s Secret annual fashion show that feature super models in really sexy and skimpy underwear with all types of wings making them out as beautiful and sexy angels.
the bench fashion show started very close to the Victoria’s Secret concept – local celebrities modeling bench underwear also with wings. that has evolved over the years and this year it is called “The Naked Truth” .
we do not know how much of Bench’s sales are from their underwear lines but we are guessing they do not command the majority of their sales. in fact, we think its very little, maybe less than 10%? but that is not the point. Bench does not hold an annual underwear fashion show to promote the line to generate sales but to get buzz, to get publicity for the brand. the prospect of seeing celebrities in underwear has a certain appeal to consumers, at least that is what we think Bench thinks.
they are no longer angels and we struggle to find where is the fashion in them and even where the underwear has gone. surely the pictures are showing that the there was a clear attempt to not show underwear.
these two pictures from the “fashion chow” got the most attention at social media and for all the wrong reasons. there was outrage and sharp hatred for these pictures. the first picture of the left shows coco martin on stage with a leash and at the end of the leash is a female model on all fours just like a dog. this is exactly what we do not want our men and specially our women to be – master and salve relationship with the women being treated like a dog.
the other is another actor, jake cuenca wearing something we cant figure out what it is or what it is called. we do not think it has a name except its obscene and horrendous.
we are wondering – are these brand images that Bench wants to have? and are these brand imaged appropriate for the youth, the market segment that comprice the bulk of Bench consumers? Bench may have achieved their goal of getting attention but we are wondering they think the kind of attention they are getting from the event is worth it. these things whether they like it or not will affect its brand image.
with these pictures, Bench now took for itself a brand image of poor taste, crass and vulgarity – adjectives that a fashion brand will not want for itself, s;pecially poor taste. good taste is certainly one of the top brand attributes any fashion brand would want.
victoria’s secret’s annual fashion show of supermodel angels in underwear are hardly criticized for such things. the supermodels in their show do wear very skimpy underwear but they never cross the line to vulgarity. victoria’s secret is a brand that sells mostly underwear, hence the underwear fashion show they hold every year is a direct match to what the brand is all about. bench on the other sell the complete wardrobe and holding an underwear fashion show does not make sense as they probably sell much more jeans and t-shirts than underwear. the sales of underwear in Bench stores being so minuscule and a fashion show supposedly featuring them and taking the brand image to the gutter makes no sense to us.
marketing efforts, even fashion shows, are supposed to do something positive to the brand, to be able to contribute to brand building. this fashion show did a lot more destruction and deterioration than building anything.
good strategic thinking is all about using what you have – the market, the competition, consumer insights (psychographics) and your objectives and putting all those together and funnel them into a coherent action that gets you what you want. it is not at all random but it is placing all the elements, sometime a few often numerous into a certain sequence that leads to getting your goals achieved.
that is essentially what Calvin did,
this picture of imelda marcos attending an ateneo event circulated on the internet yesterday, sunday. the event was the Ateneo Scholarship Fund (ASF) 40th year anniversary celebration at the ateneo. it was held saturday, june 5, 2014.
the above picture immediately got very strong reactions mostly from ateneans – all of it negative. the picture must have gone viral.
by the late afternoon, ateneo de manila president issued an apology for inviting imelda to the university for the event and reassuring the community :
More importantly, I would like to reaffirm that we have not forgotten the darkness of those years of dictatorship and that we will not compromise on our principles in forming those who would leas this nation, striving at all times to be ‘constantly true’ to ourselves and to our God
in part, fr. villarin’s apology letter reads as follows:
“Please know that in the education of our youth, the Ateneo de Manila will never forget the Martial Law years of oppression and injustice presided over by Mr. Ferdinand Marcos.
We will not be catching up on nation building as we are today, had it not been for all that was destroyed during that terrible time.
While not an official school arm, the ASF has been a source of many scholarships ever since its inception. The event last Saturday was a social one and, in spite of the visit of Mrs. Marcos, the evening was really a celebration of our scholars, the foundation’s scholarship programs, and the generosity of countless benefactors over the last 40 years.
I apologize for any doubts that may have arisen on the mission of the school and the pain this event may have caused. As I hope for your understanding, I would like to assure you that we in the administration have learned our lesson to be more mindful of those we invite in our celebrations.
More importantly, I would like to reaffirm that we have not forgotten the darkness of those years of dictatorship and that we will not compromise on our principles in forming those who would leas this nation, striving at all times to be ‘constantly true’ to ourselves and to our God.”
the Ateneo Scholarship Foundation website does not mention the role of Imelda Marcos at its formation. fr. villarin in his letter of apology mentioned that Imelda was invited to the 40th anniversary of the ASF as the “ASF began with a donation from the proceeds of a Van Cliburn piano concert that was organized by her in 1974“
view website here : (http://www.ateneoscholarshipfoundation.com/history)
learnings on social media :
- the ateneo incident is one more example that social media in the philippines has impact
- the event was on a saturday, the pictures went viral next day, sunday. then the apology letter was released on sunday afternoon.
- that was very quick – netizens got a response in just a day. this should be a record of sorts
- it says social media can make a difference
- it also says it pays that institutions like the Ateneo is connected to social media. ateneo obviously was connected to twitter and its quick response put the issue to rest. that is rare in the philippines. kudos to ateneo!
read here : http://upcat.up.edu.ph/
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i encountered these dirty little tricks recently from a philippine call center agents for a top US bank:
- putting you on hold for a long time to pretend he is trying to get more info and resolve the issues and get answers to your questions but coming back with nothing. bring up another issue and the same thing is done – put you on hold for a long time and when you call him back gives you nothing. this agent obviously does not know his job. he puts you on hold just to make you feel better.
- when you ask the call center agent to talk to his supervisor to escalate the call and complain about his performance, the call center agent transfers you to another call center agent, not his supervisor. this new call center agent pretends to be a supervisor. this is done so that the call center agent avoidstheescalation. “escalation” in the call center industry is a bad thing. it means a customer is bring up a problem with the call center agent. agents who get an escalation diminishes his performance rating.
- you know the person you are talking to is not a supervisor because he told you so and his tone, demeanor and style of customer handling is not that of a supervisor.
- the call center agent who transferred you to another agent is obviously being very dishonest. in my view agents who do this should be fired from their jobs.
- there is also collusion between the original call center agent and the other agent who took the escalation and pretended to be the supervisor of the original call center. this agent who colluded with the original agent should be fired from his job as well.
- when asked to talk to the supervisor, the call center agent puts you on hold and says he will be looking for a supervisor. this hold time will be a long time, hoping the customer will get tired of waiting and no longer ask to talk to the supervisor. the call center agent will even go back to you and tell you his supervisor is busy and cannot take the call. this is just to tire the customer out.
- call center agent gives a fake name when the customer asks for it. obviously nothing will happen when a customer who reports the fake name to his superiors, the person who gave the fake name cannot be traced.
- call center refuses to give their ID number to customers who ask for them, saying they are not allowed to give their ID numbers to customers when many other call center agents from the same company give their ID numbers. the reason for refusing to give the ID numbers is to be able to hide from their superiors when the customer files a complaint about their performance.
- call center agent gives a fake ID number. this becomes obvious when the ID number given to you is very different in format versus others from the same company who have given you their ID numbers. its easy to assume that the same company and specially if they belong to the same department will have the same alpha-numeric format for their ID numbers.
- call center agent gives you answers to your questions and issues on a topic he has not been trained for, not his job and is unable to access the information on your account because he belongs to another department which does not have authorization to access your information. you know this is so because he gives you wrong answers and theories and when you ask him can you see the details of your account on his computer and he answered “no”, it’s not on his screen because he is not authorized to see those.
after 4 long hours on the phone and talking to 5 different departments in the bank (fraud, credit card, personal checking and savings account, bill pay and online banking) and no resolution to the issues plus it is obvious the agents you are talking to are incompetent, you give in, exhausted and very frustrated and just give up and hang-up.
we took the matter to twitter, sending messages to the bank. the bank also emailed a survey form specific to the experience and we filled it up with very much what was written here plus names and ID numbers of the call center agents. to us at least 2 agents should be fired from their jobs and everyone on that call should be coached (“coached” means reprimanded and re-trained).
these are call center agents from one of the biggest banks in the US and in the world. we have called the same bank before over many years and it has never been as bad this latest experience. we think this bank probably changed call center companies in recent years, hence the change in quality of service.
we are also sure this call center is a philippine based call center. the accent of some of their agents betray that they are actually filipinos. that makes it really sad. the philippines is one of the leading if not the leading country in the call center business in the world and this kind of experience and quality of work does not speak well for the philippine call center industry.
and that is over and above the negative impression these call center agents create for the bank that they service. these agents are supposedly employees of the bank. we do not know the company name of their call center company, we only know the name of the bank they service. it creates a negative image for the bank.
at the end of the 4 hours of pain and frustration, we end up not liking the bank and philippine call center agents.
note : photo in this article is not the call center agent/s written about in this posting. source of photo : http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/files/2013/05/24TAlk_Call-Center-300×194.jpg