Don't tell the LLDD-Hyphen-L, but I've been carrying on an intimate conversation with someone else who cares for me.

Smartcares, that is.

It began, as many relationships do, right before the Christmas holidays. On December 23 of last year, I tried to load P300 through Smart's online store. I received a confirmation message from them that said my load would be credited to my Smart number in a few minutes. I also saw from my online bank statement that P300 had already been debited from my account.

Well. Santa came and went, but Smart left my stocking bare. Four days after I had made my purchase, I still hadn't received my load from Smart.

So on 27 December, I decided to submit a Service Request Ticket to the Smartcares' e-mail address. The communication was fairly swift over our first few dates as we got to know more about each other. They confirmed that my Smart number was not credited any load (good to know). Then they asked me for my SIM's serial number (I gave it to them right away). The next day they asked me to take a screenshot of their purchase confirmation message and send it to them (so I did). And the day after that they asked me to confirm with my bank that my account was in fact debited P300 (ditto). 

I decided at this point that it was the right time to ask Smartcares: so where do we stand?

No reply.

I send an e-mail a week later (I didn't want to, you know, bother them over New Year's, they may have been out with friends) and ask again. Finally, they write a reply...and start me off on an emotional journey the likes of which have not been seen since The Notebook. Smartcares only writes to me if I write to them first, and even then responds several days late. Worse, their copy-paste sentence structure and uncanny valley grammar make it seem like I'm just talking to a bot (or that Smart's contact center agents have a lousy catfishing module).  

But no! That can't be. This is real, dammit! They Smartcares! I believe in us! I will fight for us! 

And I will continue to write to you every week, Smartcares, until we fix our relationship...or until your algorithm runs out of copy and paste/bot replies. 


January 5

See? Promising start. You were the one who was supposed to update me about the status of my concern, yet you're also the one who pats me on the head for "proactively" sending you a follow up. That's kind of you. We can build on this. 

January 12

Oh. You've been talking about my problem with someone else. I see. So...who is this "concerned group"?  Anyone I know?  Can I meet them?

Thanks for complimenting me again about my "proactive" side, though. I try.

January 20

You've been tapping the "group"? What about me? When was the last time you tapped ME? Do you know how long it's been since I've been tapped?

January 31

No, I don't think you know how it is, not really.

February 15

Hmp! Late ka na nga, nalampasan mo na nga ang Valentine's, tatapakan mo pa sapatos ko!

February 23

Wait, you're saying "no worries" to ME? Like I was the one asking for too much?

And who's the support team "working hand in hand" with? Magka-holding hands na kayo?

March 3

I know, baby. I'm tired and frustrated too...

March 11

Are you calling me needy? Are you saying I'm one of those people who constantly needs validation from others? Because I am! And I DO!

March 18

Aw, baby, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you unhappy. It's just...it's just I need to know where we are and where we're going, you know what I'm saying?

At this juncture I hint to Smartcares that I may need counselling, of the legal kind. Lo and behold, I discover soon after that I have an extra P300 load in my account! But, but...I never heard anything from Smartcares. No call, text or email. Did they just, like, place money on the night table and leave the room without saying goodbye?

On March 27, exactly three months after our meetcute, I write Smartcares:

Smartcares, for once, instantly replies

You're more than glad.

I guess it is over.

But I just can't quit you, Smartcares. So I write and ask if we can still, you know, talk for old times' sake -- maybe over coffee, or a customer satisfaction survey form.

Once again Smartcares instantly replies

You thank me for giving you the opportunity to fix my problem that was of your doing.

And you still want me to help you more.

And you'll be happy to hear from me.

I guess there IS hope for us!




FVR happened to pass by the Department's flag-retreat yesterday. He was warmly welcomed, of course, and everyone braced to sing the anthem with a little more gusto knowing we were shoulder-to-shoulder with a former chief executive and distinguished veteran.

But wait! Before the ceremony starts, he breaks ranks and takes to the mic! "Regulations state that the flag lowering must be done at sundown", he proclaims. "We still have an hour to go. So let me just talk for a while."

It was said in jest, obviously, but he did proceed to deliver a few words to the assembly that were as funny as they were inspirational. The best part was towards the end where, in a moment of total self-awareness, he admitted that he tended to lose track of time during his speeches and that he would then notice his wife unmistakably signalling him to wrap things up but he would just keep talking anyway...

...so now cue the former first lady literally entering the picture...

...and holding a masterclass in exit-strategy: first a little makuha ka sa tingin... 

...then a gentle elbow tap...

..followed by a full arm grab...

...and wrap it all up with a straight-up muzzle.

She's good.

"I know, right?"



Because it has been gloriously ON FIRE to start the year!

I thought 2016's Starship Trooper Corn/Rice bug remover and Pervert Kermit photo-headlines were just unicorns -- things of legendary brilliance you'd catch once or twice in a lifetime, if at all. But no! This news site's SciTech section has proven this year to be more of a golden goose, timely popping out priceless easter eggs for discovery among the day's non-fake news.

The site's mad genius lies not in the tenuous association between the main headline and the picture at first glance, but within the subtle yet powerful assimilation of the secondary subject and image that results in an absurd demon love child of a news thumbnail. (I believe the algorithmic formula for this is Apple-Pen + Pineapple-Pen (uh) = Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen)

Truth be told, I'm starting to believe the photos are a product of a couple of IT-nerd interns rather than some computer script -- the image choice/pop-culture reference mash-ups are just so ironic and inspired to be beyond artificial intelligence, yet more than enough to restore faith in humanity. Either way, all welcome our stock photo-headline overlords.

See, now this is an origin story

When your mom wants to be your date to the dance, explained

Oh...OH MY GOD!!!

Germany leads the fightback against vampire bats, and vampires be like

The thesis proposal was basically Amazing Fantasy #15

So that's how the sausage is made

(actually, this is totally perfect)

Not to mention time rifts

And clean coal sends its regards

Denial is not just a river in Egypt 

the end is nigh



So I lost my cadetship lecture virginity the other day. Not that I had been frequently propositioned before, but I did manage to abstain for over a decade and counting. Perhaps in my head I was still waiting for that perfect time. In the end, it was just ok for me -- meaningful and memorable, yes, but nothing earth-moving. And it was all over before I knew it.

If I sound emo about my experience, it's perhaps because my designated lecture topic wasn't anything sexy like "Multilateral Foreign Policy" or "Disarmament Diplomacy". Nah, my subject was "Proper Procedures in Office/Administrative Cases". Ooooh baby. 

Make no mistake, that's actually a very important matter for all personnel, and at the moment I'm much more qualified speaking on it than on anything substantive. But procedure can be a bit mundane and mechanical. Any humor or enjoyment from it would be awkward, ironic and uncomfortable.

In other words, it's perfect for "The Office"!

Yes, thanks to Dwight & Co., I had the perfect visual aid for use during my first time, and a practical how-to guide for everything I wanted to know about Due Process but was afraid to ask


Jim: [Dwight hands Jim a piece of paper] Oh, what's this?

Civil Service rules expressly state that proceedings can be initiated even without complying with strict forms and technicalities. Still, Dwight could have helped his cause more if his complaint wasn't just hastily written on what appears to be a big ass post-it note.

His service of summons technique also needs work

Dwight: That is a demerit.
Jim: [reads demerit] "Jim Halpert, tardiness." Ugh. I love it already.

You can sass all you want, Jim, but Habitual Tardiness is classified as a Grave Offense punishable by suspension of up to six months for the first offense and dismissal for the second. Dwight's just laying the basis here.

Dwight: You've gotta learn, Jim. You are second in command, but that does not put you above the law.

This is true.

Jim: Oh, I understand. And I also have lots of questions, like, what does a demerit mean?

Complaints must be written in clear, simple and concise language so as to apprise the person complained of, of the nature and cause of the accusation. On the other hand, "ignoratia legis neminem excusat", Jim.

Dwight: [scoffs] Let's put it this way. You do not want to receive three of those.
Jim: Lay it on me.

I'll need to check, but I think this constitutes a Show-Cause Order.

Dwight: Three demerits and you'll receive a citation.
Jim: Now that sounds serious.

Aw, yeah. Dwight's about to get the Due Process train rollin' 

Dwight: Oh, it is serious. Five citations and you're looking at a violation. Four of those and you'll receive a verbal warning. Keep it up, and you're looking at a written warning. Two of those, that'll land you in a world of hurt... in the form of a disciplinary review written up by me and placed on the desk of my immediate superior.

Boom. Compliance with all the Due Process requirements as set forth in the landmark "Ang Tibay" case. Right to a Hearing, Substantial Evidence, Consideration of the Laws and Facts Presented -- it's all there. Dwight's got this...

Jim: Which would be me.
Dwight: That is correct.

...EXCEPT for his failure to take into consideration who the Disciplining Authority is as provided by pertinent rules and regulations. The Disciplining Authority is expressly authorized to hear and decide cases involving his/her own personnel without violating the Due Process clause.  Dwight should have instead gone to an office with original concurrent jurisdiction over the case (like, say, Slough)

Jim: OK, I want a copy on my desk by the end of the day or you will receive a full disadulation.
Dwight: What's a dis... what's that?
Jim: Oh, you don't want to know.

Oh, Jim. No one shall be removed or suspended from service except for cause provided by law. Counter-charging and punishing Dwight like that with some made up secret crap violates like twelve different sections of the Constitution itself. You bad, bad boy.

You're a terrible example for the cadets



My old boss at the embassy, the former ambassador, had a running gag with all of the officers -- his dry British humor way of getting on our case about constant work. Whenever he'd see any of us in an outside-of-the-office context, he'd ask about a fictitious memo he'd supposedly been waiting ages for.

If he'd notice us walking out to get lunch, he'd shout "Where's my memo?"

If he'd see any of us appear in a picture on facebook, he'd post "I'm still waiting for my memo" in the comments section.

If we were on the sidewalk and he'd pass by us in his car, he'd mime a piece of paper with his fingers and mouth through the window "Memo!"

He'd eventually get recalled to the Home Office a year after I did, and each and every time we'd run into each other in the driveway, elevator lobby or cafeteria, he'd still have just one thing to say to me: "Where's my memo?!"

Well...as you may have recently heard....

He finally got  THE MEMO!!!

An warm official welcome ensued, and then it was straight back to business for all



although I think pointing and calling me out during the flag ceremony was a touch unnecessary



It's our 8nniversary! And for such a special occasion, we headed off to exotic...Sta. Rosa, Laguna? HELL YEAH Sta. Rosa, Laguna!!! We're a family now - we got school and work to consider - and Sta. Rosa ticked all the boxes for a fun, affordable and not-too-far off staycation. Or in LLDD-Hyphen-L Trivago search parameter terms, "find _______ within 5 minute drive of outlet shops..."

Enchanted Kingdom

I first went to EK when it had just opened and right after the last day of my bar exams, so you can imagine how perfect the place was then to blow off some steam. I'm so happy it's as fun and thrilling as before and I got to see the LLDD-Baby enjoy and experience it for the first time and the LLDD-Hyphen-L continue to be too chicken to try the Space Shuttle

o ayan, anak, hindi na natin kailangan pumunta pa ng Disneyland ha

The Fun Farm

The LLDD-Hyphen-L discovered this fun place on social media, so it seemed appropriate that when we were there a couple of hip celebrity bloggers and instagrammers also showed up. Strangely, they did not respond when I introduced myself as a contemporary.

"What do you mean you've never heard of the LLDD or my six followers?"

The Nuvali "Lake"

The area was obviously new and not yet fully mature, but it was still very pretty and relaxed and brought to light some comforting truths on this our eighth year of wedded bliss

  • The LLDD-Baby's Jump Shot Rampage will continue indefinitely

  • It's every parents' dream to raise their kids well and they grow up to take decent facebook photos of their mama and dada 

  • And if it wasn't obvious to you yet....THE LLDD-HYPHEN-L IS HOTTER THAN EVER