Monday, February 26, 2007

where'd all the money go?

the above question is rhetorical. i am supposedly asking about the gazillions of pesos the Philippine government put in funding for equipment that will supposedly automate the election process here in these parts last 2004.

reality check, folks. it's 2007. the money is only mentioned in hushed tones with shaking heads.


that money could've done a lot of things for the countrysides. that money could've built 100 health clinics, or hand over a year's worth of minimum wage to over ten million people.

but no, it's all for naught. no one is even sure if all the hardware bought back then can still be accounted for. not that it'll be of any use since they're all obsolete by now.

okay, so something went wrong and it couldn't be applied. and that's it?!? no one is currently being held accountable. but someone has to pay.

the government complains about low revenues, but that's probably low because of how they waste money left, right, front and center. we will pay taxes with hard-earned money, where we will spend 15 minutes just to earn a few more hundred pesos on any given day. and they lose 1.3 billion pesos just like that. heaven only knows how much the kickbacks were.

the government loses a lot of money because they have way too many idiots in there. and no, i didn't vote for them. i don't vote. not since renato de villa and oscar orbos ran their ticket and gave us the last truly honorable options. i mean, why vote when all you have to choose from are idiots, pretenders and people too smart to take the government seriously? okay, there are still a few good eggs in there. but they are painfully outnumbered.

elections are but a couple of months away and the vaudeville is in high gear. grab some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show. that's all it's good for anyway.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

the police and chemistry

i am a Sting fan. pretentious and pompous ass that he may be, i am a fan. i am a fan of intelligent, eloquent songwriting and elaborately experimental instrumentation. so yes, i am a fan of the Gordon Sumner, a.k.a. Sting.

but let me tell you something interesting. Sting, in all his supposed greatness and sense of purpose has never reached the charts' top spot. he has never had a billboard number one song alone. the first and last time a number one song was billed with the name "Sting" was the group effort "All for Love", with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart way back in 1993. The biggest chart climber he has had is probably "All This Time" from his grim and atmospheric "Soul Cages" album from 1991 dedicated to his late father. "All This Time" hit number one (as some might argue), but only on the Modern Rock charts. not exactly the cross-format charts that truly merit the greatness he has always been worthy of.

Sting represents for me a classic example of a band leader who does everything that matters on paper: he wrote the biggest songs, he is the official "voice" of the band as their main vocalist, the outspoken of the three, and is quite obviously the most charmismatic of them all. So why did he not hit the heights of his band considering his more than pivotal roles in it? couldn't he have just picked up from where he left off? Keep writing good songs (which he did), keep singing (which he did), keep being outspoken (which he still is), and... everything else... So why DIDN'T he hit the heights of his Police days?

the answer is CHEMISTRY. sometimes, even if one has all the ingredients one supposedly needs, one would still need that melding of energy that brings the best ideas to life. sort of like that jolt of electricity one needs to restart a brain.

the band split up due to ego disputes. particularly between the erstwhile leader steward copeland, who formed the band in the first place, and of course, sting, arguably the most powerful creative force and personality within the band, who eventual emerged as the leader as far as the public was concerned.

thing is, the chemistry and creative balance accorded by the rest of band helped bring Sting's ideas to a level he couldn't do alone. he had all the so-called"raw material", but the band gave him the kitchen that cooked everything to perfection. This applies to every other endeavor in almost any industry.

in hindsight, having had the business partners i did way back, i was able to engage in a lot of other things creatively speaking, while other tasks were handled and led by partners who gave more time and energy to them. And yes, we did well. Well enough for me to think that i didn't need them. i was wrong.

i didn't need them to survive, that much i can say is true. but to fly to the heights that we did back then, i needed them then. and if only ego allowed, i needed them still.

but much time has passed. and unlike Sting, there are no Grammy Awards and no passionate fans clammoring for our reunion. the egos remain, too.

and i suppose i need my ego more.

making a job not feel like a job...

The answer to the above title is very easy: find something you like doing, and try to see if you can turn it into a nice living.

But how does that translate to the people around you?
last Friday, I had a photoshoot at the studio of Raymund Isaac. The man needs no introduction, and to do so would not only be an insult to him, but would do him a grave injustice.

He is known by many for his stock in trade, which is fashion and celebrity photography. but while his photos really do speak for themslves. the experience of working with the generous creative genius that is raymund isaac is a reward on its own. i will site this man as an example, as this is an entry not to particularly gush about raymund, but to discuss what his work attitude stands for.

Let's start with the fees. okay, so he ain't cheap. nowadays, with the advent of digital photography, wannabes are all over the place (yours truly sometimes included). now what separates the men from the boys or course are a lot of technical stuff, from lighting, to focus, to timing, angles, and a bunch of other stuff that i don't even want to begin pretending i have an idea about... but i digress... so Raymund ain't cheap. you can and will easily find another so-called photography who probably even has better equipment that Raymund, who will probably charge you a quarter of Raymund charges. but there are trade-offs. a lot of them.

Firstly, i consider among my job descriptions art direction. particularly photography art direction since i will end up taking the photos in and adapting them into all sorts of things from ads, to point of sale materials, to posters and stuff. so being there during a shoot and giving my 5 cents worth from time to time really does help in making my job easier in the long run. now working with just any photographer will probably turn in technically decent images, but with almost no creative energy in it. there is an x-factor that will be noticeable. so you pay for raymund's time, but more than that, you pay for his energy that really comes across. it's even there when you look at the photos a couple of years after.
and during the actual shoot, the flexibility of his process, the concern he has for the ultimate results, and for the client's needs almost makes you think he's underpaid. he even brought down articles of clothing from his very own wardrobe (no closets for this man) to help find better outfits for the models. all with no pretense, no ego, and even with just the right sprinkling of humor.

So you have agreed on what the shoot lay-outs will be, but this guy will always do you one better and improvise as he goes along. oftentimes resulting in even better shots.
point of the matter is that he embodied customer service and creative professionalism. honestly, the first talent was ready and raring to go by one o'clock, although the actual shoot started at around 2:30pm. raymund apparently had meetings with the staff that he had to attend (it was Friday, after all). that was the only "bad" part of the whole thing. but over all, the results were spectacular, the clients were happy, and the day ended very well. i felt that i did a lot of work, but raymund didn't make it feel like a job.

How do YOU serve your customers?