Things not to tweet/post about during a storm

I get it. I really do. What else is social media for but to share your feelings with your friends on Facebook and complete strangers on Twitter. I do that, too. But the line must be drawn somewhere. And I’m not talking about the cheesy, lovey-dovey stuff about your significant other (although please, stop that too). No matter how happy and contented we may be feeling, we should be sensitive to those who may not be feeling the same way during a downpour (or any other calamity for that matter). But for those who need it to be spelled out for them, here you go, my list of things not to tweet and post about during a storm (apart from the obvious Boracay party Instagrams and donation shopping spree updates, of course):

  1. About how much you absolutely LOOOOOVE the rain – Yes, sleeping in when it’s raining is awesome. Settling in with a book and a cup of hot chocolate when it’s pouring out is great, too. You know what’s not? Being stuck in traffic for four hours because of flooding, or, worse: being driven out of your home and losing all your belongings, all because of the rains you loooooooove sooooooooo muuuuuuuuuuch. Shuuuuuuuut uuuuuuuuup.
  2. About how  you live so close to where you work – Trips that usually take 45 minutes to an hour turn into 4-hour-long nightmares whenever there is a significant and widespread downpour. We ALL know our lives would be easier if we lived closer to where we work. We don’t need you to rub it in and read about it while we’re checking Facebook to while away the hours in traffic.
  3. About how you zoomed by the traffic while riding the MRT – I used to take the MRT to work everyday so I know how good it feels to know to fly past the virtual parking lot that is EDSA. Since I drive to work now, I also know how it feels to be sitting in an unmoving car while the MRT roars past. It sucks. And it sucks more when an asshole is being all smug about passing by me on Twitter.

This post “savors strongly of bitterness” (plus points if you know where I cribbed that line from), I know. But that’s what sitting in unmoving traffic for three hours does to a person. A little understanding, a little sensitivity to the plight of thousands of us still in our offices and cars, will go some ways to making us feel better.

Well, not exactly “better,” but at least it will make us feel less like flying at you with rage and a lot of pointy objects.

PSA: Don’t believe what’s on your plane ticket

You buy a plane ticket, get email confirmation regarding your booking, print out the tickets and you’re set for your flight, right?

As my cousins and I found out on our way to Caramoan, no. Hell to the NO.

Case #1:

My sister and I were booked on the Friday 5:45 am flight to Virac, Catanduanes on Cebu Pacific, the only Manila-Virac flight for that day. We paid almost double what we would’ve if we flew to Naga, but we wanted to maximize our time in Caramoan. We arrived at the airport about 1 hour and 2o minutes before our flight. We went to look for our check-in counters only to find out our flight didn’t have one. All Cebu Pac counters were open to all flights and each counter had a line of its own. A ridiculous set-up, even more so during a busy Friday before a long weekend.

We were in line for about half an hour in a queue that was not budging when an attendant started to call for passengers for our flight. My sister and I were relieved, since we were starting to get worried we would not make it to the front of the line before our check-in cut off. We handed our tickets to the attendant, giddy with excitement at the prospect of the start of our journey. He got back to us a few minutes after with words a passenger NEVER ever wants to hear: “Ma’am, we have a bit of a problem.”

That “bit” of a problem was that the flight was full and we could not be accommodated. The airline overbooked the flight, which they are within their rights to do, the attendant was careful to point out. So unless two passengers willingly give up their seats for us, then my sister and I had no choice but to board a 9:30 am flight to Naga.

Unsurprisingly, no one gave up their seats. My sister and I were stuck in the airport for 3 more hours, missed our resort’s boat from Naga and arrived at our destination at around 5pm. If everything went according to plan, we would’ve been there by 10am. But since a local airline was involved, of course it didn’t.

Yeah, like the news that you’re being kicked off your flight.

Case #2:

There are no flights to Virac on Saturdays, so my cousins were booked on a 5:30am PAL Express flight to Naga. They arrived at the airport at around 2am, anticipating the even bigger crowds and wanting to avoid what happened to me and my sister. They got to the check-in counter confident that they’ve done everything they could to ensure that they would be on the 5:30 am flight, only to find out that there is no 5:30 am flight. It was cancelled. In APRIL. The tickets were booked in March, the flight was cancelled way back in April and my cousins only found out about the cancellation on May 11th, the day of the flight.

They had to be re-booked on another flight to Naga at 8:30 am. To this day, PAL Express has yet to offer any sort of acceptable explanation as to why no one bothered to inform passengers that the flight they booked tickets for NO LONGER EXISTED.

I wish airlines were not allowed to overbook their flights, or at least flights on peak days and times (i.e. the Fridays before long weekends, the Monday of that long weekend, etc.). I wish they would remember to inform their passengers of changes to their flights, especially the major ones like, you know, cancelling a flight entirely. If my cousins were informed ahead of time of their flight’s cancellation, I’m sure there would’ve been less disappointment and frustration (and more sleep) for them. I wish Cebu Pacific would get their checkout counters in order.

But since this is the Philippines and this is the airline industry we’re talking about, we can’t rely on the airlines to improve their services willingly. It’s up to the passengers to act to make sure that they actually get on the flight they paid for. So, to help you along, here’s what my cousins learned from our ordeals:

  1. If you’re flying on a particularly busy day (during a long weekend, for instance) and and/or on a once-a-day flight, be early. Like, international flight kind of early. These flights are more likely to be overbooked. Being three hours early for a domestic flight is less painful than being bumped off to a later flight to a different city.
  2. Monitor flight schedules. I know this is not something we’re used to doing. But apparently, airlines forget to let passengers know that they’ve cancelled a flight a month before its schedule, so how else are we supposed to know? You can check their website for flight timetables or have your travel agent confirm it for you.
  3. Know your rights. My sister and I are entitled to free domestic round trip tickets from Cebu Pacific because of what happened. We were also given PhP 500 transportation allowance. My cousins, however, are not so lucky. As of this writing, PAL Express has offered nothing in compensation for their cancelled flight. They are still checking the T&Cs of their tickets to see if they are entitled to anything, but you can bet that for their next flights (whenever they decide to risk getting screwed over by a local airline again) they will know what they will be entitled to in cases like this. It’s just so much harder to after run after and try to claim from these people after the fact. So it’s better to know what you can demand, just in case. With the current state of things, that info will come in handy eventually.

I hope, for all our sakes, that there will come a day when we don’t have to be at the airport 3 hours before a 1 hour flight, just to secure a seat in a flight that has been bought and paid for. But until that day comes then it’s best to be prepared and informed. Hopefully, the airlines we’ll get tired of us calling to double, triple and quadruple confirm their flights schedule that they’ll finally do something about their crappy service.

An Open Letter to Ovation Productions

Dear Ovation,

First of all, I’d like to thank you for bringing over NKOTBSB for a concert in Manila. I’m a big Backstreet Boys fan, and anyone who brings them to our country can’t be all that bad in my book (even if I don’t really understand some of the people you bring over for concerts).

However, I do still have a few bones to pick with you.

First, the pricing of the regular lower box seats is particularly problematic. At PHP 7,920, they were only PHP 500 cheaper than Lower Box VIP. Probably anyone willing to pay PHP 7920 would be willing to spare the additional 500 bucks or even PHP 1000 (for Patron) for the better seats. Then the jump in the price between the upper and lower box tickets was too big. Upper box tickets cost less than half the lower box tickets at PHP 3,700. With the VIP and lower box tickets so closely priced, wouldn’t it have made sense to lower the price of the LB tickets, so as not to crowd out those who were willing to shell out between PHP 6,000-7,000? The result of this was that these fans had to settle for upper box tickets (therefore crowding out those whose budget was around the PHP4000 mark), and the arena ended up looking like this:

IMG_2666

Pretty full at the top, pretty pathetic at the bottom

And this was already after you did the second thing I want to talk to you about: selling the tickets at half-off. As a diehard fan who bought her ticket early, I think I speak on behalf of the other diehard fans when I say that this is unfair to us. We love these artists so much that we make sure we reserve and purchase seats early, the best ones we can afford, only to find out that we could’ve bought better tickets if only we waited.  It’s frustrating to find out that our VIP tickets are now more expensive than a half-off SVIP seat, or that we just needed to add PHP 800 to the purchase price of your upper box ticket to upgrade it to a half-off VIP seat. It’s heartbreaking to realize that fans who didn’t care enough to buy their tickets early now have better and CHEAPER seats than we do.

To add further insult, you go and oversell the General Admission tickets past capacity, resulting in people sitting on the steps, and standing behind the row of seats. To remedy the situation, you allegedly took the excess General Admission ticket holders and transferred them to Lower Box. LOWER BOX. People who likely paid PHP 500 had better seats than people who paid PHP 3700, and likely better seats than some people who paid the full PHP 7920.

How is that fair? How is that right? How is that not infuriating?

Wouldn’t it have been a fairer to move the rightful lower box ticket holders at the sides further front? Wouldn’t it have been more equitable to move some people from the upper box to lower box and then moved the GA viewers to the upper box seats?

I realize that I need to let this go, that there’s nothing I can do about what happened, despite how angry I am right now. The only thing I can hope for is that you change your tactics the next time so that this won’t happen again. How about pricing your tickets more reasonably the next time, so you won’t have to sell them half-off at the last minute, so that the eager, diehard fans don’t get screwed over? How about selling the right amount of tickets so that, again, the fans don’t get screwed over?

Because while it’s probably all about the money for you, for the fans, it’s about an experience of a lifetime, about dreams coming true, believe it or not. And really, as much as we shouldn’t let you, we can’t help but feel that you ruined it a bit for us.

Respectfully,

Me

PS: Please bring the Backstreet Boys back to the Philippines again. With KEVIN this time.

Customer service hell

Globe Telecom customer service is appalling. Period.

I hate to do this here but I’m too pissed to let this go. Grrrrrrrr. So, deep breath, and here we go.

This all started last week when I decided to UPGRADE my plan (i.e. give them more money). I made the phone call to their customer service hotline, spoke to an agent who then processed my request. I was then put on hold while she was processing the request and got cut off. The agent didn’t leave me with a reference number, so I had to call again and go through the entire process of going through their menu and explaining the whole thing to the second agent. But ok, fine.

The second agent then tells me that she can’t upgrade my plan until I pay my outstanding balance on my account (about 500 PHP). I asked her why the first agent didn’t require this of me, as she was already processing the request when I got cut off. The second agent was adamant that paying the balance was a requirement to the change of plan and that she couldn’t proceed with the change of plan until it was settled. Ok, fine.

Just for the heck of it, though, I called a third time, just to see if I the third agent will give me a third version of the story. And, well, whaddya know. The third agent now tells me that she cannot process the request because changes are not allowed +/- 4 days from your cut off date, and it was exactly 4 days before my cut-off. Again, I asked why none of the other previous agents mentioned this requirement (take note, this 3rd agent didn’t even mention my outstanding balance) . I would’ve been saved a lot of time and unnecessary aggravation if the 1st agent just told me to call back 4 days after my cut-off. But ok, fine.

I just then asked if it was possible to have my request on record early, and for them to just process it 4 days after my cut-off, as I didn’t want to call and go through the entire thing again for the FOURTH time. The agent said that this was possible, and that she will personally process my request on the proper date, without me having to call again.

The nagger in me decided to call and check on the 4th day after my cut-off, just to make sure that my request was going to be processed. Surprise, surprise, there was no record of my request (lesson learned: always get a reference number) to upgrade my plan. I had to make the request a FOURTH time. I asked about how I was going to be billed, since I was on my old plan for the first 4 days of my cycle, and will be on an unlimited plan for the rest. Apparently, they don’t pro-rate the unlimited plan regardless of when it’s activated because, according to the agent, it’s unlimited and you pay for it whether you use it or not. And my reply to that (in my head only of course, not to the agent) is “RIPOFF!” So basically, they’re saying, if you activate your unlimited plan on the last day of your cycle (or actually, 5 days before the end of your cycle given the stupid +/- 4 day rule) you have to pay the full unlimited plan cost, as if you were on it the entire month plus the prorated cost of your old plan, which might as well be the full month’s cost, give or take a couple of days. Again, ripoff. But I was going to be on the new plan by the 5th day anyway, so, ok. Fine.

I was told that there was a 24 hour monitoring period. Also, any calls or text I made that day were also going to be incremental charges, since my old plan was deactivated, and the unlimited plan wasn’t active yet, so I was to be “plan-less” for a day (annoying). I might also experience service interruption while my request was being processed. Fine. Fine. Fine.

And it’s like Globe wanted to test the extreme limits of my patience. My new plan wasn’t activated yet 24 hours after my request was processed. And as of now, I am still unable to send and receive text messages. I had to call Globe 4 times after the 24 hour hour window passed because I got cut off THREE times (seriously, what’s up with that? Why do consumers get cut off from the hotline, even when using a landline?) and was on hold for a minimum of 10 minutes each time before I got to talk to a customer service rep. And I swear, each time I had to key in my mobile, tell the CSR my mobile number again (what’s up with that, too? Why ask me to key my number to begin with if you’re going to ask for it anyway?), tell them my problem, give them the reference number which I’ve already memorized at that point… I really, really felt like hitting something. GRRRRRRRRRR.

The sad thing is, it’s not like I’m going to switch to another network, even if I wanted to. Applying for a new line is such a pain, probably 95% of my contacts are on Globe, my current mobile is locked with Globe and I hear the other network’s service is not exactly any better.

So yeah. I’m stuck (it seems like we all are) in customer service hell.

Yeah, I’m Pissed

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know what this post is about. You’ll know that I was initially very excited about the LA Galaxy coming to Manila to play our beloved Azkals. You’ll also know that, when the rumored prices have been released (PHP 12,000 for the most expensive ticket price), I ranted. And when the final, official prices came out, I went on a rampage. And, well, I’m still not over it.

First off, the facts:

  • The ticket prices (in Philippine pesos): 15,500 – 12,500 – 10,500 -9,500 – 5,000 – 2,000
  • Yes, I know that the Rizal Stadium only seats between 13 – 15 thousand spectators
  • There’s still no news on whether or not David Beckham will be joining the trip. He still hasn’t renewed his contract with the LA Galaxy and will only make a decision on his future after the MLS Cup on November 20. Rumors have already been circulating about him moving to PSG in the French Ligue One.
  • FIFA World Cup 2010 ticket prices (in US Dollars):

Deep breath… Here we go…

Really? REALLY?!?! My Category 1, FIFTH ROW seats to the Spain-Paraguay World Cup Quarterfinal are cheaper than an exhibition between a sub-100-ranked national team (sorry, I love the Azkals, but I speak the truth) and a team from the friggin’ MLS?!?! It’s the MLS! It’s not even one of the top 5 leagues in the world and will probably barely make it, if it does, through to the top 10. It’s where European footballer careers go to die a lucrative death. And we’re not even sure Mr. Goldenballs himself, David Beckham, is coming. Even if he was, I can categorically say that the tickets will still NOT be worth that much, unless he plays topless, brings Victoria, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and baby Harper with him and we all get a chance to pinch their cheeks and make them gigil (yes, David too, but not Victoria of course, there’d be nothing to gigilanyway) and, in Harper’s case, babysit.

See, even Becks is annoyed.

And before any of you use the “but-the-organizers-have-to-make-money” argument, let me preempt you by saying that I understand that. I really, do. And given that the venue is tiny (full-size football stadiums fit between 40-80 thousand fans), they really have to price the tickets up to recoup their investment. Which is why I think that the organizers jumped the gun on this with little foresight on how the high price of getting the Galaxy here (some estimate that it cost PHP 100 million!) will affect ticket prices and, consequently, ticket purchases. The fact there were rumblings about trouble in the TV rights negotiations imply that the organizers may have bitten off more they can chew.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that Landon Donovan and co. are coming. It’s good for the Azkals and Philippine football in general that international clubs are even considering us for promotional tours. But it could’ve been greater, more beneficial to a sport that already has a reputation of being elitist if everything was made more accessible (i.e. cheaper) for everyone. How many parents out there have to break the news to their excited kids that they can’t afford to take them to see the Azkals play David Beckham’s team? How many football fans have been deprived to see their team perform against a team of a higher caliber (yes, even if they do just play in the MLS)? And how many people who can reasonably afford to buy the tickets, in annoyance and disgust, are now boycotting the match on principle alone (many of the footie fans I know, myself included)?

I don’t know how these things get negotiated and planned, of course, (who knows, maybe the organizers will barely make money even at these prices) but I can’t help but think that there was a miss somewhere. How could there not be, when the whole thing now reeks of greed and profiteering when, in the first place, the point should have been the promotion and advancement of the beautiful game?

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

I can’t… I don’t… Whaa… WTF?!?!

I am at a loss for words (well, not really as I’m blogging about it) . And, no, I am not referring to this, because I’m too frustrated/angry/sad to even begin to write about that.

So what is this rant about, if not about THAT? Well, I need to give you some background, so bear with me a little bit.

I frequent a few blogs (see “Links I Love” on the right) and if I have something to say that I think is relevant to a post (which is admittedly almost always), I leave a comment. When you do this often enough, you get familiar with other commenters. Some of these commenters have blogs of their own and sometimes, I’ll click through to their blogs if I found their comment particularly interesting/clever/funny or if I’m bored out of my wits. And this is how I came across this certain blogger. His blog is pretty “meh” but I commented once or twice on a post about a prominent Philippine retail chain selling a fake version of a luxury bag I own (Bear with me a little more, I have a point, I promise). I came across him again because another blogger I follow replied to him on Twitter so I lazily clicked through to his blog. Then I noticed something I never noticed in the 2-3 times I’ve visited his blog.

There was a PayPal button on it, with the label “(insert blogger’s screen name here)’s fund”. I found that strange because the only time I’ve ever seen such a button on a blog was when Chuvaness and the Bag Hag were gathering donations for Fabella Hospital. The label certainly didn’t look like it was for a charity, so out of curiosity, I clicked through. And it led me to a PayPal page, with the blogger’s email address, and this line (and, finally, my point):

“Help me pay my bills and I shal (sic) be forever grateful to you, kind reader.”

I can’t… I don’t… Whaa… WTF?!?! I can barely wrap my head around it. It’s so ridiculous that I actually even doubted if I understood things correctly. But there’s no other way of interpreting things, is there? This person set up a PayPal account so that his readers can give him money, if they feel like it.  I’ll say it again. What the f@&k ang KAPAL!!!

Of course, bloggers making money off their blogs is not unheard of. But they do it via sponsors, ads and paid posts (that’s a whole other issue). I’ve never actually heard of a blogger ASKING his readers for money, out of the goodness of their hearts, to help pay for his bills. If they were hospital bills, I would be more understanding. But this blogger is apparently still in school and it seems to me that his parents are providing for him adequately. Surely someone who goes to college, has regular access to a computer and the internet and can write about counterfeit handbags isn’t struggling to make ends meet. And even if he WAS struggling, I don’t see other cash-strapped people setting up PayPal accounts so that random strangers could help them pay their bills.

I… I don’t know. I guess, at least this blogger is being upfront about his approach, just directly asking his readers for money instead of going the Big, Bad Blogger route. But it still irritates me like nothing else, the same way that you would probably be annoyed if you went to museum, admired a painting, and suddenly the artist taps you on the shoulder and asks you if you wanted to give him some money to help pay for his phone bill. It’s a labored metaphor, I know but you get what I mean, right? Or am I just being insufferably self righteous?

Wanted: Competent Football Journalist

I knew the Azkals (the Philippine National Football Team) won their group match against Bangladesh, 3-0, on Friday. I didn’t really find out more than score, though. So yesterday morning, I picked up The Philippine Star and read the article about the win (online version here).

And here’s what I found out about the game:

  • That the Azkals sang “Ole! Ole! Ole!” in the dressing room after the win.
  • That the music was so loud in the dugout, you couldn’t hear the person beside you.
  • When the final whistle blew, Coach Michael Weiss “lifted his arms, with clenched fists and faced the sun.”
  • That each time the Azkals scored, they “whooped it up like they never did before.” (what does that even mean?!?!?!)
  • That the Philippines made the semis of the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, beating Vietnam 2-0 along the way (… hey, wait a minute…)
  • That newcomer Angel Guirado, who, “once inside the PENALTY” launched a shot to score is “the angel from heaven.”

Because that’s what I was dying to know about the match. Thank you, Abac Cordero and The Philippine Star.

Is this what I should expect from the football articles of one of the country’s biggest dailies? More paragraphs about how the team celebrated than on the actual match itself? What they sang and not the formation they played in? Information on Guirado’s angelic origins and but not his earthly footballing credentials (he plays in the Spanish Tercera División for CD Ronda and used to be in the reserves for Atletico Madrid)?

I know that football is just starting to gain popularity in the country and that, in all probability, Sky Sports-level analyses won’t really find a mainstream audience just yet. But I’m not asking for Jonathan Wilson to cover Philippine football. All I am asking for is that the coverage be informative, relevant and that the bulk of it to be about the actual game. While I suppose the Younghusband fan girls will be thankful for the image of James “bouncing up and down, arms linked” with his teammates, articles like these are a disservice to the rest of the Philippine population (not dreaming to be Younghusband wife) who are just discovering football.

Football has had a hard enough time gaining ground in the country and articles like this do nothing to help the sport. How are we going to make people who are new to football appreciate the skill that goes into a scoring a goal, the grace it takes to dodge defenders, the reflexes required for a save if an article on an outstanding 3-0 win focused more on the locker room than on the pitch? How are we supposed to sustain interest in the sport (especially when matches like this were not aired live in the country) when more words were written about the coach’s victory pose than on the first goal scored (I counted. It was 10 versus 6)?

It’s understandable that our local sports journalists aren’t used to writing about football. Let’s face it, the Philippine National Team has never really given them much to write about up until a few months ago. But is it really that hard to stick to the facts of the game? I’m sure any sports writer would have at least a basic knowledge of the sport. Even if they’ve never watched a La Liga match before the Azkal win over Vietnam, they’ve now had four months since to get a crash course on the offside rule and what merits a red card versus a yellow (Ronnie Nathanielsz desperately needs those lessons).  They could’ve read up on thousands of articles to get an idea on what a match report should look like. Actually, they didn’t even have to go through that many. All they needed was to go through, like, TWO, to know that no one really needs to know what song they sang in celebration, at least not by the second paragraph of the article.

So please, for the sake of the sport and basic journalistic standards, could The Philippine Star please get a competent football journalist? If a dedicated football writer is too much to ask, could you please get Abac Cordero never to write on football again some basic news writing lessons alone time with the Guardian football site?