Saturday, April 25, 2009

Writer's Bloc

There comes a time when you look into your writing pad (or your computer) and it just hits you: you can't write.

It either one of two things:
1) your mind is as blank as the paper (or screen) infront of you; or
2) you are in a state of overload and cannot achieve the necessary focus to articulate whatever you are currently thinking / feeling / imagining.

Either way, the result is the same: you cannot, for the life of you, write. It's as if the world will shatter and your brain will implode (for the 1st reason, explode for the 2nd reason). You feel like you are forcing your own blood to travel to your fingertips and flow through your pen (or keyboard) just so you can express a coherent thought.

But still, you cannot write. And the aggravation of it all kills you and boils you from inside-out. You stare at your writing implements and it's enough to burn a hole right through it. Staring fixedly at that blank sheet, that blank page, that blank screen... and inwardly, at that blank mind.

But your mind is not blank, is it? You are lucid, you are imaginative, its just that you are incoherent. It's just that you are inarticulate. It's just that piece of paper staring right back at you, mocking you for your momentary show of weakness. It's just that pen laughing at your inability to guide it to the canvass of your dreams. It's just that screen placating you for your inadequacies of writing earth-shattering pieces of literature that you know you are destined to write.

And in the back of your mind you hear the roaring laughter of those unnamabe entities denying you of your god-given right to that Palanca Award, the Nobel Prize even.

You hyperventilate. You feel the tears forcing their way out of your eyelids and threaten to make way for a great flood of pent-up emotion that was supposed to be your ticket to monumental poetry, to glorious novels, to scintillating essays.

But still you can't write.

What do you do?

05Apr2004 5.00p

I'm feeling this way again.  And I am envious of my past self to have articulated this, as I don't think the current me possess this kind of verbal acumen.  Damn...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Circus Continues

Mag-BIR ka muna

The day of reckonning has finally come; the day that has been in our collective psyche since December; the day that had our full attention and energies since March.  The deadline for Income Tax Reporting has finally arrived, and the months of audit will finally come to a close. 

But the heavens decided we are not yet stressed enough and thus made online reporting impossible.

I have four tax reports due on April 15, the first was for the annual income tax, the three others are for monthly withholding taxes.  With the BIR's IT department being so considerate as to implement updates on their website on the busiest tax reporting date in the year, we have no choice but to file our taxes manually.  This involves going to the accredited agent banks of the Regional District Offices (RDO) to pay, and for zero-payment reports, to go to the RDO itself to have the forms received.  This further means that I have to go from our Makati office all the way to Rizal to file and pay for my tax reports.  It also means that we have to rush everything to have the checks printed and signed, something that online payments no longer require.

Reports and checks on hand, I commute from Makati all the way to Cainta, where the agent bank is located. Riding a taxi is not an option, for it would take a miracle to find a driver who would be willing to drive me all the way to that place. Besides, the traffic is monstrous, and if ever I get a driver to take me there, I might arrive at the place too late.  The fastest means is by train: MRT to Cubao, and LRT2 to Santolan; and a jeepney ride to Sta Lucia, all done under the heat of the unforgiving April sun.

I arrive at the bank by 2pm and am delighted to see that the queue is comparatively short.  I made a beeline to the writing desks where I will fill up the BIR payment forms needed to pay for my taxes, but there are none in the desk.   I ask the guard about it, and I was directed to the New Accounts desk for my querries.

Me:  Hi ma'am, I'm here to pay my taxes, where are the payment forms?
Teller:  Sorry sir, but we can no longer accept payments, as we already ran out of forms.
Me:  What do you mean, you wont accept payments just because you don't have the forms?
Teller:  You can go to other agent banks, if you like, sir.
Me:  That can't be, as the check was drawn to this bank.
Teller:  Why don't you have the check's payee changed?
Me:  That is not humanly possible, as the signatories are in Makati.
Teller:  Well, it's not my fault that the checks were drawn to this bank.
Me:  It's not my fault either that BIR decided to go off-line and issued this memorandum (shows her copy of memorandum) that I go and pay manually.
Teller:  Sir, had it been a cash payment, I can do something about it, but this is a check, sir, and we have a 12nn cut-off on BIR payments.
Me:  But the BIR also issued a memorandum that all agent banks are to accept any forms of payment until 5pm today.  Why don't you just issue me a written letter stating that you wont accept my payment because you ran out of forms, then I can go to the BIR to have my forms received, then I pay tomorrow.  Hopefully, you have the forms by then.
Teller:  Wait sir, I'll ask the manager.  
(walks out of her desk and goes to the manager.  I can hear the manager bellowing at her about unintelligible things.  It's been a long day, and my eavesdropping skills weren't working.  After 15 minutes, she goes back)
Teller:  Sorry sir, we don't issue letters like that.
Me:  (Thinking of my other forms for submission to the RDO) Then I will just go to the BIR and ask them about this.

From Cainta, I then head to Taytay, where the RDO is located.  Two of the four reports I have with me were zero-filing reports, and I had an easy time having those received.  I asked the person who received my forms as to whom I should talk to regarding my payments, and I was directed to the Head of Collections.  

Head of Collections told me things I already knew:  That their office is not allowed to accept my payment, and that I should go to the bank to pay them;  that the banks were ordered to accept payments til 5pm, and that they are not allowed to refuse anyone still in the vicinity after 5pm; and some other stuff I care not to think about now.  Alloyed with their information nonetheless, I head back to Cainta to force the bank to accept my payments, reaching the place past 4pm. To my surprise and mounting incredulity, the bank has already closed for the day!

I need to rest and reassess my battle plan, so I headed to the store I am accounting for and called the Head of Collections about agent bank's early closing.  Upon her instructions, I drafted a letter request for manual filing of reports, and added a request for extension of payment.  I also asked my manager to prepare a "food offering" that I will give Head of Collections for helping me with my tax reports.  While waiting for my bribe, we were discussing month-end reporting stuff and other things, while eating the clubhouse sandwich and spicy new orleans pasta served at my table (the perks of working for a resto business).  My body rested and my hunger sated, I go back to Taytay to have my forms, and the letter I drafted, signed and received by the RDO. Finally, after a tiring day/week/month, I am able to relax, my forms having been received by 7pm.  Afterward, I went back to the store and turned the checks over to the manager, for payment on agent back the next day.  

The Next Day:  Mag-BIR ka ulit

Manager:  ShatterShards, what do I do with the checks?
Me:  Have someone go to the bank to pay it, and show them the letter received by the BIR attached to the forms.
Manager (after 15 minutes):  They didn't accept the checks.  They don't have payment forms.
Me:  WTF!  I'll call the bank.

So begins the redux of the circus I hurdled just the day before.

I seem to have all the luck, as all other stores have managed to file and pay their tax reports without even half of the hassles I have experienced.  The first I tried to call was the RDO, to report on agent bank's alarming lack of payment forms.  Unfortunately, all office lines are already busy, or disconnected, because it was already 11am, and lunchtime is sacred.  I have no other recourse but to talk to the bank.

Operator:  Hello, welcome to agent bank, how may I help you?
Me:  Hello, I'm ShatterShards, I was there yesterday to pay for my taxes, but you didn't have payment forms.  I sent a person there earlier to pay, but our payment was still not received for you still don't have payment forms.
Operator:  Umm... wait sir, I'll have someone to talk to you about your querry.
Me:  Yes, please.
(after 5 minutes of dead air)
Accountant:  Hello sir, this is V, I'm the bank's accountant.
Me:  Hello, as I was saying earlier, I sent someone to pay my taxes there but the tellers refuse to accept the payments because you lack forms.
Accountant:  Yes, sir, we can't accept payments without the proper forms.  Why don't you just change the check's payee and pay on another bank.
Me:  That is not physically possible, as I'm here in Makati, and the check is there in Cainta.  When will the payment forms arrive?
Accountant:  Maybe later in the day, sir.  All forms come from the Head Office, and we're still waiting for delivery.
Me:  I have a 12nn deadline with the BIR.  Why don't you just accept my payments, stamp it received as of 12nn, and process it when the forms arrive?
Accountant:  We can't do that, sir, or we might incur penalties.
Me:  Well, I will not accept penalties over that one either.  You did not accept it yesterday when I was within the deadline, and I had to request for an extension of payment just to have it processed today.  I am well within your bank's cut-off, so it shouldn't be my fault if my payments are processed late.  I should have reported you to the RDO, but unfortunately, I can't right now, for it's already lunchtime for them, and all lines have been disconnected.
Accountant:  Sir, can I call the Head Office first, so I can ask permission for your transaction?  
Me:  Okay.  I'll call them myself as well.
Accountant:  Okay sir, please call back in 15 minutes.

It's not even 12, and my head is already throbbing like mad.  I can feel my blood rushing to my head, and my back and shoulders are acting up as well.  Stress.  Pure, unadulterated stress.  The stuff I eat for lunch almost on a daily basis since March.  Calling agent bank's head office did did not help me much at all, although they did state that BIR was already online once again, and they suggested that I try to pay online, to which I refused, because the online facility will definitely charge me penalties for late filing.  I did try accessing online, just to placate myself that I did everything humanly possible, only to find out that the online facility still isn't working properly.  After 15 minutes, I called agent bank again.

Operator:  Hello, welcome to agent bank, how may I help you?
Me:  Ms V, please.
Operator:  Wait sir.
Accountant:  Hello?
Me:  Ms V, this is ShatterShards, how are my transactions doing?
Accountant:  I've cleared it with Head Office, sir, you can send the checks for payment.
Me:  Good.  I'll have someone come over to give you the checks.  Thank you.

A rush of relief flowed through me, washing away the weight forming at the base of my spine.  I felt my adrenaline crash, leaving me tired and a bit drowsy.  Finally, my tax reports are done.  I can now continue with my monthend and quarter-end reports.


I have long expected this award.  I knew I will get one, as early as the 2nd week of March.  I knew it was just a matter of time before they hand it to me.

Employee: ShatterShards
Position: Corporate Slave
Company Policy Violated: Tardiness Policy

Details of incident as sited:
As per attendance report, it was observed that you incurred thirteen (13) lates for the month of March.
In line with this, you are given VERBAL WARNING.  You are reminded by the Company to do necessary improvements on your part so as not to reapeat the same offense you have comitted.  Repetition of such violation shall mean a higher degree of penalty.

This is the second award for tardiness I received this year, the first, I got last January.  The next award would come with a 1-day vacation, I mean suspension.

The Great Place I work for decided to repeal our 15-minute grace period last year.  This means that the cut-off time is 9.00am.  If you log in at 9.01, you are already considered late.  Of the 13 instances cited, 9 falls within the grace period, which means that, had the grace still been in effect, I wouldn't have had received an award for March.  But that is crying over spilled milk.  I used to never even bother with the grace period;  I was almost never late.  I still wake up at 7am like clockwork (at times, much earlier), regardless of when I slept the night before, but I have problems getting up in the morning.  The time I'm spending forcing myself to get up out of bed is growing longer by the day.  If not for the fact that my house is just 15 minutes leisurely walk away from the office, my list of tardiness might have been longer.

I haven't yet counted my tardiness for April, but I'm suspecting that I'm getting an award again this time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Spring Cleaning

I opted to stay here in Manila for the duration of the Holy Week, instead of joining my family on their trip down south. Primary reason is still work, but I also wanted to be home alone, something I haven't experienced as of late, seeing that I'm almost never at home anyways.

My mom and my younger sister left Friday afternoon, and woke me up to give last-minute instructions for taking care of the house, which involved feeding our two dogs upstairs and the five cats downstairs. After they left, I celebrated my officially being alone by eating my late lunch accompanied by red wine. I was properly drunk on my third glass. Good wine, that, spicy and full-bodied.

Saturday was spent at the Primo Rivera Spa, where I got to enjoy an amazing sauna session with full amenities, including a web-ready computer, where I had the privelege of being intimate with my favorite invoices from my favorite suppliers. I'm deluding myself, of course, as I spent it at work, under sweltering conditions. The AC units don't operate on holidays.

I planned to get up early this Easter morning and spend it purging the house of the dirt that three day's neglect had accumulated. It has long been my plan to perform spring cleaning on this holiday, Easter, being symbolic of new life and new beginnings. What I hadn't counted on was dreaming on Easter morining, and about Rebel, of all things. I woke up feeling heavy and depressed, and, instead rising up to perform my intended functions for the day, I sulked the time away, not rising on my bed, and just watching the last 20 episodes of Shamman King on my laptop.

It was a good thing that I was near completion of that series before this happened, or else, I might not have risen at all today. As it stood, I started my cleaning rituals by 3pm, way behind my schedule. I didn't do a good job at cleaning, I know. I was lacking in time and the necessary drive to effectively perform said functions, thus my actions were woefully half-hearted and not up to par. I'm tired, and I haven't even started cleaning my room, the last on my list of things to do, and arguably the one that would use up the most time.

I have decided to delay the purging of my room for another day. I am now lacking the necessary physical strength and emotional fortitude to perform said function. Cleaning my room involves openning up lost and forgotten boxes filled with memories and lingering feelings. My current depressive state would not protect me from whatever repercussion openning those boxes might bring.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


A little step, one of a thousand
Niggardly avoiding the others of ilk
Traversing this twisting, tilting trek
In hopes of reaching a mountain's goal
Plying forward with weary hearts
Onward, upward, to this vigil's end
Little step, alone in a crowd
One whispered prayer for the soul

08Apr09 1.00am


A friend once invited me to join the annual vigil to Antipolo a few years back. I accepted said offer and we walked our way towards the shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, the Virgin of Antipolo. We started at around 5 in the afternoon, and reached the Shrine before midnight.

I dislike crowds and slow-paced people with a passion, and this annual event is full to the hilt with them. Commuting back, I commented to never again suffer said ordeal.

Funny how easily never gets broken.

I'm planning to walk to Antipolo once again. Alone, this time. Last year was a roller-coaster of emotions, and this year promises to be as interesting, if not more so. Crowded or not, walking affords me the opportunity to think and reflect on most things, and I plan to exploit this walk for all its worth.

I don't pretend to be religious, but still, one can't wish enough for enlightenment on an activity such as this.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Carved in Stone

"She is still here, my darling. My beautiful Galatea.

She is as lovely as ever. Time has no power to dim her beauty. I am grateful that she will be forever young, lithe, and graceful. That I will never have to see her become what I have become. Old.

Bards will take our story, and turn the tragedy into a romance. They will make it end happily. People love a happy ending.

While I, I will wait for Galatea.

For as long as it takes.

For ever."


So ends the short story "Carved in Stone" by Kathryn Cecile Umali from the Malate Literary Folio; a retelling of the story of Pygmalion and Galatea. Unfortunately, in this story, Aphrodite does not intervene with their love affair to perform her miracle of turning Galatea human.

Having been evicted from my old room presented an unexpected treat, wherein I am able to find forgotten treasures, like this compliation of poems and short stories from my college days. I wouldn't have been able to read it had I not been forced to rearrange my things, so I guess the inconvenience that moving has presented is somehow offset by the pleasures of reuniting with old favorites.

Along with the Malate Literary Folio, I found a piece I wrote after first reading Carved in Stone, some seven years ago.


Her locks - finely wrapped at her head
Her lips, pucked so gracefully, yearning to be taken
The arms - gait and modest,
not the faintest touch of error
Her face, glowing with beauty
Her all, as all there is - Beauty.
Perfection; all she will ever be --
carved in stone.

09Dec00 8.00pm


I don't know. I used to wax superlatives over this piece, but I guess the years have somehow dimmed its value for me. Another one for the editing room, I guess...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Something Serious to Laugh About

Once again, I'm experiencing Input Overload. I have too much on my mind that I cannot process a single thought cohesively. What's distressing is the commonality of its occurrence these days. And since my mind cannot produce a half-decent post today, I will just post some news article from The Onion to tide us over this April Fools.

DNA Evidence Frees Black Man Convicted Of Bear Attack



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