Air Asia Decides to Honor the Booking I Made During the Glitch! Hello, Maldives!

The title says it all, I guess. And here’s the proof:

email

All I wanted was closure, and Air Asia gave me that, plus a round trip ticket to Maldives.

I still can’t believe that it ended this way. What a helluva week I just had!

Last Sunday, Oct. 5, I made a long post about the bad customer service I received from Air Asia. A lot of happened since then, including an unexpected response from the airline. I figured that one good turn deserves another, so I’m here to tell you all about it.

Here’s a TL;DR version of my original post if you need a quick recap:

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Glitch Happens, People Book Flights for Almost Nothing, Air Asia Keeps Mum. But Air Asia, What’s Your Official Statement on the Matter?

Latest update as of Oct. 9, evening: Air Asia got in touch with me and informed me that they will honor my booking. I’m pleasantly surprised. Ha! Who am I kidding? I’m beyond ecstatic!!! I didn’t expect that, I swear. Please read this blog entry for the full story!

Air Asia took me for a wild ride and I didn’t even have to get on a plane.

The other day, Oct. 3, I was thinking of a destination to go to for my birthday in February. I was considering Bangalore or Phuket. Then, on Twitter, I saw someone mention the fact that Air Asia now offers flights to Maldives.

I knew I couldn’t afford Maldives yet, but dreaming is free, right? So off I went to the Air Asia website and checked out the cost of the airfare. I wouldn’t be able to book a ticket for early 2014 but I would get an idea of how much I should save so I could go in late 2014 or summer of 2015.

So imagine my surprise when I saw that the Kuala Lumpur-Maldives round trip tickets cost only around 32 pesos per person. That’s less than a US dollar, guys. Thinking that Air Asia offered an introductory price for Maldives, I quickly contacted two travel friends. They also got excited about the idea of low-cost Maldives tickets, so in a heartbeat, they both said they would join me.

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Row, Row, Row Your Raft Wildly Down the River

This post doesn’t have a lot of text, but it sure does have a lot of photos. These are taken from the last time I went whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro with a bunch of friends.

This activity looks more dangerous than it really is, I promise.

Around the Fur, aka Ramblings on Writing

As technology gets better and as I grow older, the people I once knew really well are reduced to nothing more than profiles on social networks. I hardly remember what it was like to be with them anymore, and what I know of them now are mundane updates about how they’re feeling hungry and making a sandwich. Not even a thrilling sandwich like avocado-and-jalapeño. No, just your ordinary egg or tuna.

But every now and then, old friends — kindred souls — come out of the woodwork with no warning. They’re still nothing more than a chat box unexpectedly popping up on my screen, until they send me a link to their blog as an answer to my hey-how-have-you-been greeting.

So I read three to four years’ worth of entries, and it quickly dawns on me how much of their lives that I’ve missed, and how much I’ve missed them. I’m reminded, yet again, why I love them.

I love a variety of people for a variety of reasons, but the ones I love the most — outside of my family — are the people who I got to know more through their writing. They started out as friends I met in real life, but somehow, I get more drawn to them after I’ve read what they have to say — happy, sad, funny, angry, bitter — doesn’t matter. It’s a very intimate thing, sharing thoughts on paper (or on the screen), that it’s hard not to love those who give a part of themselves to others in such a personal way, especially in this world where too many people are scared to open up and express what they really think or feel.

Photo by J. Paxton Reyes

“Around the Fur” is the second major album from Deftones, a band whose awesome music I listen to during many of my writing sessions.

The Rapist, the Victim and the Blame Game

On Oct. 11, 2011, a teenage girl was walking back to her dorm at around 2:00 a.m. She was coming home from working on a school project when two men abducted her, stole her stuff, raped her, and killed her.

She was Given Grace Cebanico. She was pretty, smart, friendly, funny, sweet, loving, giving and happy. She was only 19.

~~~~~

Rape is, first and foremost, about power. A normal human being doesn’t get off on having sex with someone desperately struggling to get away. Both partners usually have to be willing to put in the work to make the encounter satisfying. But the depraved mind lusts for the struggle and orgasms over the ultimate helplessness of the victim. The need for sexual satiation is a far second to the thirst for total control.

Sometimes, lust doesn’t even play a role in rape at all. Sometimes, it’s just about power. This happens more often than we know of. Although women are the usual victims, men get raped, too, especially in times of war. There is no worse weapon than rape to emasculate a man who takes pride in his masculinity, so it isn’t surprising that it is a weapon widely, albeit secretly, used.

Yet, many people still think that lust is the primary or sole driving force of rape. Thus, they feel the need to blame the victim (usually a woman) and her perceived sexuality. In various forums and blogs strewn across the Internet, I’ve read more than enough criticism on what Given Grace was wearing, when she was getting back, and where she was walking. Was it the pair of shorts that lured the rapists? Or was it her conspicuously pink shirt? Or was she just too cute for her own good? Did she really come from doing a project, or was she out to meet someone in a secret rendezvous? And why in the world was she outside on the road at 2:00 a.m.? Didn’t she know any better? It doesn’t stop there: One commenter even had the gall to say that the criminals should have gone after someone much prettier — as if the whole fucking thing was a beauty pageant.

I have nothing against being careful and doing the things we think are necessary to secure our personal safety. For example, I don’t wear short skirts whenever I’m taking the bus. Yes, I rage inside at the unfairness of it all, but I do what I do to avoid being harassed. However, I believe that once the deed is done, there’s really no point in blaming the victim especially when the said victim wasn’t just raped, but also killed. When tragedies happen, let’s keep the focus on who’s really to blame.

Besides, the last time I checked, walking home at 2:00 a.m., wearing shorts and a pink T-shirt, and looking pretty aren’t illegal acts of crime — stealing, raping, and killing are. Even if a woman was walking down the street at 3:00 a.m. in a diamond-studded bikini on her way to meet a blind date, that doesn’t give would-be robbers, rapists, and murderers any right to prey on her. Of course, they of the depraved mind would rationalize it that way, but society as a whole shouldn’t.

Considering how dark the world is, we say we can never be too careful … or can we? Sometimes, I think we’ve been too careful that the only stance we’ve taken is defensive, and not offensive. We took the bad as the default, and then, we built our rules around it — don’t wear a dress, don’t walk alone, don’t drink, etc. Someone who breaks these rules and gets harassed after must be asking for it! It’s the victim’s fault! She should know what was going to happen! She must have known what was coming, etc., etc. I read somewhere online that society teaches us not to get raped, instead of teaching us not to rape, and I’m inclined to agree.

I don’t live my life wearing rose-colored glasses. I’m not naive enough to think that we can completely remove evil from the world — in an ideal world, probably, but not in this one. And yes, I do take necessary safety precautions in my everyday routine because life is unfair and I’m dealing with it the best way I can. However, I don’t see the point of putting even a bit of the blame on a victim. I also make lapses in judgment every now and then, and so does everyone else. This doesn’t mean anyone deserves to be violated, let alone asks for it. In the end, the only one to blame is the criminal. In a world where things can get complicated, here’s a simple truth we must never forget: Criminals made the choice to commit the crime. Victims didn’t.

~~~~~

Rest in peace, Given Grace Cebanico.

Photo by Arwen Abendstern

Photo by Arwen Abendstern

The One Who’s Just There

The one who got away.

It’s a lamentable loss that everybody can relate to, a loss resonating from deep within every heart that knows how to love.

It’s a story with countless versions played by varying characters, but the plot remains the same: In the end, someone always leaves.

It’s such a tragic story, indeed, to have lost someone you almost had, or could have had, as decades’ worth of sad love songs playing during lazy Sunday afternoons would like to remind you.

That’s the one who got away.

But have you heard of the one who’s just there?

Less known, but also as tragic — and sometimes, more — is the one who’s just there.

It doesn’t matter if you see them once a day or once a month, and whether you talk to them for a few minutes or a few hours at a time. What counts is not the frequency, but the consistency of their presence.

And that’s where the problem lies. Everything, along with everyone else, changes, except for the one who’s just there. They are a constant in the equation that is your life. They’re so constant, in fact, that you’re sure they will always be someone you know — an acquaintance or maybe even a best friend — but nothing beyond that. That would be perfectly fine if only you didn’t want more.

But you do.

There’s nothing more frustrating in this world than to stand only a foot away from the one who’s just there and yet, you can’t do anything to close that last remaining distance.

You realize that the longest bridge in the world is the couple of inches that separates your fingers from theirs, because the longest bridge in the world is the one you can’t cross.

The reasons why you two can’t be together vary, but they are all maddeningly valid — otherwise, you wouldn’t be in this position. But whatever reason you might have, nothing changes the fact that nothing will ever change between the two of you.

The one who’s just there is a painful reminder that not everything within your reach can be yours.

The one who’s just there.

Sometimes, you wish they would go the hell away.

Photo by Ana Flor Adrias

Photo by Ana Flor Adrias

Maybe I’ll See Raindrops

For the past week, this blog has been getting hits from keywords involving the lyrics of the catchy song in the Nestlé short film, “Sign Seeker.” The keywords are variations of this particular line: “And I’ll hold my breath just until the train stops. Then I’ll count to ten; maybe I’ll see raindrops as I’m waiting for a sign …”

I can never fully understand Google. It gives me the occasional out-of-the-blue results for my search terms. Worse, it gives me auto-complete suggestions I wouldn’t even think of, let alone try to find online. But apparently, Google still thinks I want to know. Now, it links keywords unrelated to my blog. I didn’t have the lyrics posted on here until now, so those hits I got truly baffled me.

So what’s a person to do? Take it as a sign to write a new blog entry, of course. d=

“Sign Seeker” is a 10-minute short film about a guy who asked for all kinds of improbable signs to know for sure if he should invite his dream girl out on a date. His main dilemma? He got all the signs he asked for but he couldn’t grow a pair. Or could he? Did he finally man up? I won’t spoil it for you, so go watch it. This version has English subtitles on it, perfect for that random visitor I may possibly get from the other side of the ocean. It’s just 10 minutes long and the songs alone make it worth watching (credit goes to LoudBox Studios for the awesome tracks).

EDITED TO ADD: As of July 19, according to LoudBox Studios, “Nestle Philippines own[sic] and hold[sic] the rights to the film and, therefore, we are unauthorized to upload any song. Do send your requests to Nestle—who knows?” Also, Up Dharma Down sang “Waiting for a Sign,” according to a commenter. (=

The film is a light and pleasant feel-good fluffy piece, but it does strike a chord somewhere. It’s something to which I can relate well. I’ve asked for signs, and I know a lot of people who’ve done the same. The remarkable thing is that we make a diverse group of folks, running the gamut from the hardened atheists to the unshakable zealots (and everyone in between). We might be talking to different gods, or maybe just to ourselves, but the belief in a power greater than who are, in one way or another (may it be God the Father or a magnetic field) is a common denominator.

But I’m doing my best not to ask for signs anymore because in the past, it almost always ended up in one of two scenarios — a) I got all the signs I wanted for something I didn’t want (“If a purple Beetle with a prime as it’s plate number passes me by between 9:55 and 10:00 a.m., it’s a sign that he doesn’t like me back”) or b) I did not get the signs I wanted for something I wanted (“If I come across anyone wearing a blue shirt at any time today, it’s a sign that he’s secretly in love with me”). Obviously, I’m very unbiased … not. Anyway, in either situation, the land of denial ended up crowning me its queen because I would still insist on finding validation for my desires. But that wasn’t my biggest problem. In the rare event that I did get all the signs I wanted for something I did want, wherein the universe conspired to let things go my way for once, I still lacked the courage to let go of what I already had to go after better possibilities. I had no problem with denial but I struggled with acceptance.

I was so terrified of rejection from others that I ended up rejecting myself, when I should be my own biggest fan. People told me then that I was afraid to be happy, that I viewed happiness as a source of fear. In reality, I didn’t trust myself that I could make myself happy — and that was where the real fear came from.

And with that, instead of asking for signs, I now ask for the courage to do what I have to do, whatever the situation calls for. Because I believe that for all the indecision we are faced with everyday, most of us already know exactly what we want, as one of my favorite quotes perfectly expresses: “Flip a coin, but don’t look at the result. For that moment when coin is in the air, you’ll know what you secretly hope for.”

“And I’ll hold my breath just until the train stops. Then I’ll count to ten; maybe I’ll see raindrops as I’m waiting for a sign …”

Photo by nathalielaure