Boycott Starbucks Coffee!

So there I was, looking from left to right and vice versa as if I was doing something illegal, something criminal. When the coast was clear and found no authorities watching, I lighted a stick of Marlboro on the sidewalk of Pasong Tamo Extension in front of Starbucks Coffee which is a very busy street in Makati and considered to be a “public place”. Since July 1, 2011 smoking in public places in the Philippines has become illegal.

So yes, technically, I was indeed doing an illegal activity. I was breaking the law.

But it was not my fault. It was Starbucks’ fault.

After being a patron of Starbucks brand since the time they first opened in the 6750 Building in 1997, I was shocked and saddened to find out that all of its branches nationwide have no longer a smoking area. As in all, even the one inside Resorts World where the entire building is practically a smoking area.

Starbucks Coffee just lost one customer who consumed one to two mugs of brewed coffee a day for more than a decade. I used to hold almost all my meetings outside the office in Starbucks because of the smoking area they used to have.

How many Starbucks customers like me who are now seeking nicotine refuge while enjoying a cup of coffee in Bo’s Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tealeaf and Figaro?

Coffee is the perfect match for smoking and given the number of smokers among middle class working men and women, Starbucks is losing at least 40% of its customers in all branches nationwide. Convert that in sales value and I am telling you, they are losing income.

Smoking may be bad for my health but it is good for my soul.  It keeps me sane from the madness of this world. Since time immemorial like two to ten centuries ago, man was already smoking and it is only in this time that the health issues have been raised. It’s not smoking nor second hand smoke but the pollution caused by deadlier smoke emission in vehicles and factories that contributed to the increasing number of lung failure fatalities.

Speaking on behalf of all smokers, we respect the rights of non-smokers and that is why we patronize coffee shops with smoking areas.  With the new regulation of Starbucks Coffee, it only means that its management doesn’t want our business and so we will take it elsewhere.

Thus, I urge all fellow smokers to boycott Starbucks Coffee and let us bring our business in coffee shops with smoking areas.

Boycott Starbucks Coffee!

My Rule of Thumb for Starbucks No Smoking Policy: TRIPLE THUMBS DOWN!!!


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Azkals vs. UFL All Star: A victory for PH Football

Perhaps it can be considered as the most exciting exhibition game in the history of Philippine football. The PH Azkals fell short against the United Football League (UFL) selection with a score of 3-4 last June 5 at the University of Makati. It was a see-saw battle filled with suspense as both teams tried to outwit and outplay each other with UFL All Star scoring the final goal to break the deadlock with less than a minute left in the game. 

The venue was filled with an estimated 5,000 spectators and the match was televised live on Studio 23 earning a 1.9% ratings considering that it was on a UHF channel and it was not really advertised. Ofcourse, the crowd drawer was the Azkals but people were treated with fanstastic football game.

Many were expecting the Azkals to walk with an easy victory but the UFL All Star were more determined to win considering that the game was their opportunity to showcase the quality of football of their league. It was the UFL’s coming out party proving that there is an abundance of football talent in the Philippines outside the national team. 

Although the UFL All Star won, the real winner of the game is Philippine football. The UFL is the only club based football league in the country started by LBC Express, Inc. long before the rise of the popularity of the Azkals.  Half of the members of the Azkals are playing for a UFL team including its team capatin, Aly Borromeo who comes from the Kaya FC in the UFL.

UFL is a training ground for future Azkals and with the quality of play that was witnessed last Sunday, the future of Philippine football is very promising.

My Rule of Thumb on Azkals vs. UFL All Star: THUMBS UP.

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Azkals vs. UFL All Stars: The future of PH football

 The birth of Filipino football consciousness began when our national football team more popularly known with the brand name, Azkals, pulled off an upset against Vietnam in the Suzuki Cup last year.

Philippine Football Icons

Suddenly, football is part of Philippine pop culture particularly the good looking Fil-European players of the Azkals who now enjoy the adoration or even obsession of many Filipinos whether a real fan of the sport or not.  Right now, the state of football in the country has been focused more on the players of the Azkals. It has yet to transcend into its full potential as a sport that Filipinos can really excel internationally.

All the funding by advertisers and private sectors have been placed into the national football team or Azkals but not into the actual development of the sport at the grassroots level.  The advertisers are buying in and cashing in into the brand recall of the Azkals but not to really help football.

Yet, even before the sudden surge of the popularity of Azkals, one company already put its money on Philippine football development by gathering all existing football clubs and forming a league that no one advertisers wanted to support when they were still starting.  Several years ago, LBC Express, Inc. already initiated the formation of a football alliance that gave life to United Football League or UFL.

Prime mover of UFL: LBC's Santi Araneta (in red)

Unlike its basketball counterpart, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), only the real fans of football knew about the football league. Yet, because LBC is passionate in supporting real football development, it became the real commercial backbone of UFL for several years now.

 We did not read about game results in the sports pages of the national dailies because no one in the sports media wanted to cover it. UFL had no commercial value during the first years of it birth. Yet, half of the members of the Azkals came from the UFL.

The popularity of the Azkals slightly pushed the commercial value of UFL as well to a certain degree. On June 5, 2011, the UFL and football development will say hello to the consciousness of the millions of Azkal fans. The real potential of the Azkals will be tested locally as they face the best players of UFL in what is coined as “UFL All Stars versus Azkals”.

 The football game on June 5, 2011 will be televised live on Studio 23.

 The development of football lies in the league such as UFL  where future players of the Azkals would come from eventually. Football as a sport in the country is still in its infancy stage and a league such as the UFL which needs the support of the Filipinos will help nurture a bright future where we can have a crop of Azkals generation after generation.

My Rule of Thumb on Azkals vs. UFL All Star: THUMBS UP.

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Recycled Poetry: Old man & a cradle

There, in a darkened little room

An old man racks an empty wooden cradle while

Humming an out of tune lullaby

To calm his crying soul

His memory is slowly fading

Like the orange sunset every afternoon

He can only remember the

Sad thoughts of an absurd existence

And the illusion of a meaningful life.

He weeps as he struggles to recollect

In his dying days

The only happy moments he once had

When he was still being comforted

By the warmth of that old cradle

– Jocel de Guzman

April 12, 2002

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Recycled Blog: The Wake

(Preamble: Written when my Uncle Jaime died in 2000. Reading this again made me think of the pessimistic outlook I had. Time flies and so does the attitude. Read on.)

He died at the age 54. He lived a simple life, a silent life. After his mother passed away ten years ago, he became alone. No wife to love and no children to look after and take care of. His life revolved around his little sari-sari store in Angeles City and a pack of Hope cigarettes a day. His life was simple. His life was silent.

In his wake, there were only a handful of relatives and friends who mourned. No one was crying. The wake became a venueto  update their respective lives. It was a reunion. Not even a single word was mentioned to describe how he lived his life in their conversations. I think no one remembers or even knows.

While looking at his lifeless body, I asked myself if he lived his life in full? Was his life meaningful or absurd before succumbing into the world of the non-living? I could not tell since I’m also confused if my life has meaning at all.

His death affirmed the feeling of absurdity within me, the self-pitying awareness of my unhappiness. Nothing can be lonelier than to be conscious of the meaningless reality, to know that everything means nothing.

Being a yuppie at the age of 24, I think I’m already suffering from mid-life crisis and by the time I reached 48 or less, I would be in the same place as he is now, within a golden box surrounded by flowers and bright lights.

My life at the moment is being defined by more than eight hours of toiling in the workplace in one of the companies in Makati, brewed coffee and Albert Camus. Like my uncle, I’m not married and without social life. I can say that my life is less simple but more silent than my uncle’s and I’m only in my middle twenties.

This notion or feeling of absurdity was not preconceived but it’s the product of my unpleasant experiences in the past that I have no control of. Ironically, these said experiences created who I am now. The sad part is, I’m aware and my uncle was not. Because of this I’m struggling to live my life each to day to find that meaning or purpose of my life.

The death of my uncle made me realized one thing that I have equated meaning with happiness. Perhaps his life was without meaning but he was happy. He was happy simply because he was not looking for meaning rather he just lived life each day. He was already content with his little sari-sari store and he no longer desired for anything more. At first I described it as hopelessness but it was not, it was just his idea of happiness. Or perhaps it’s already the meaning of his life.

Jocel de Guzman
December 31, 2000

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The Ghost of Christmas Past

December 24, 2010 – 6:00am

The morning breaks with melancholy. I woke up today with the cold breeze of Christmas Eve morning touching my face. For the first time this year, the spirit of the Yuletide Season has finally reached me. I can already feel Christmas but it is definitely much different now compared when I was a little kid.

It was still a little bit dark when I stepped out of the house after grabbing a big mug of coffee and lighting a stick of cigarette. After inhaling my first round of cigarette smoke, I suddenly smelled the kind of Christmas when I was a young boy where Christmas had this particular distinctive smell. I can’t actually describe it.  But to badly put it, it’s like the smell of home as soon as you step in to your house.

I can’t fully remember the last time I felt something like this but certainly I can recall my childhood’s Christmas Eve celebration. There was a growing excitement in sharing the simple and modest Noche Buena feast with my family, wearing the new pair of clothes that my mother bought and playing with the new toys with my childhood friends in the old 2nd Street in Angeles City.

Much anticipation was spent in playing with my friends during Christmas Eve than the actual Christmas itself. I guess that’s because December 25 was always reserved for a family reunion which I never really enjoyed as a young kid. My awareness of my family’s social status alienated me from bonding with my rich relatives every reunion. Unlike with my childhood friends in 2nd Street where we really celebrated the spirit of the Season on the street by just being together sharing all sorts of things.

In this moment of sharing with my young “barkada” came the distinct smell of Christmas.

I remember when we used to make Samurai swords out of “yantok” sticks, shuriken from soda bottle caps and t-shirts to cover our faces whenever we play ninja-ninja. We never needed expensive toys to enjoy Christmas. We only needed a little creativity and lots of imagination. We even had a story-line wherein we alternated for the role on who plays the good white ninja vs. the evil black ninja. I was nine years-old at that time and I had so much fun playing with David Sellers also known as Pok-pok. Arnold Oyan AKA Arnold Laki, Arnold Mendoza AKA Arnold Liit, Mario Bolocon and others. (One day, I would write a book about 2nd Street)

I guess I am just getting sentimental at the age of 34.  Time flies so fast and before you knew it, you already have a different life and a different Christmas. It’s a grown-up life with a grown-up Christmas where the Season begins with countless Christmas parties and the hope of winning the major raffle prize.

I wish my daughter Raine would have her own distinctive smell of Christmas. Don’t grow up so fast my Raine.

Merry Christmas to all.

How about you, what is the ghost of your Christmas past?

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