I am the “Praning” Consumer

I’m getting paranoid with all the products out on the market these days. It doesn’t help that I have a cousin who always discovers the next scary common ingredient that may eventually prove to be carcinogenic.

It started with mineral oils (as mentioned on my food blog entry). She said that it clogs up the pores and my Dad added that it’s a derivative from petrol. How healthy could that be?

Then, it moved on to hydrogenated oils. Again, my cousin said something about it getting stuck in the body forever. I totally freaked out and banished all things containing hydrogenated oils from my diet. I can’t even buy anything from the grocery without reading the labels carefully first.

The boyfriend isn’t spared either. I drag him to the grocery just to show him what’s bad for him. The poor thing.

So while I was trying to figure out if there was proof to what I was told about mineral oils, I found this site called The Beauty Brains. They answer all your beauty questions in a scientific manner:  a must for a scaredy cat like me.

I’m still not 100% convinced that there are no huge side effects on these chemicals. I’m well-aware that the FDA (or BFAD, in our case) has approved these ingredients and their doses beforehand. However, it seems to me that, just because something is approved because the doses it comes in are non-toxic, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s actually safe (completely non-toxic) either.

I can’t help but feel that the local health agencies try to push the limit on the “allow-ability” of certain products in the market, just because they are so damn useful and the demand is so great. Meanwhile, we, as the benefiting consumers, try to convince ourselves that everything’ll be okay because the standards have been set.

Take a cellular phone, for instance. We are definitely informed that it emits a level of radiation (though FDA approved), yet we still allow ourselves to abuse it. In fact, I personally admit to abusing my cell phone by having it on hand at every waking hour. I even sleep with it beside my head, so that I can surely wake up to the alarm.

Knowing that it is so easy for things to get out of hand when it comes to using products, I have taken it upon myself to try and be disciplined when it comes to what I buy and how I use them. But obviously, a lot of the more safe and healthy options are also the more expensive ones. It becomes a difficult choice to make.

Good luck to all of us then…

School Wars

Today, I stumbled upon a blog entry that documented a school paper war wherein members of one old Catholic school (School A) dissed the members of another (School B) for supporting the RH Bill. They said that School B was anti-poor and whatnot.

And all I thought was… “Here we go again, just like Jesuits vs. Dominicans in the 1800’s. We’re supposed to have gone a long way from the time of Rizal, but it seems to me that nothing has truly changed.”

Luckily, the author of the blog post was a bit more just in stating personal opinion. But since we’re on the subject…

School A was going on about how School B was dividing the church. I thought, “Well, technically, the fact that you have made yourselves into different sects is as much a division of the church as anything you are claiming.”

I seriously hope that they’d consider, even for a moment, ACCOUNTABILITY. You could comment all you want on being anti-poor, but when you get put on the spot to make RESPONSIBLE decisions that will affect your life and the lives of others, let’s see just how many of these “supporters” pass the test with flying colors.

Last night, I saw an expose on ABS-CBN’s xXx where they arrested an abortionist. It was mentioned in the program that a lot of the visitors of this abortionist were in their teens (15-16-years old).

These groups can argue all they want about what constitutes as an abortifacient, but nothing is more abortive than abortion itself. And that abortion was likely caused by misinformation, because it seems to me that some groups feel that members of the society are not entitled to the knowledge they deserve.

This is more than school spirit. This is about bringing the present and future generations up to speed  with what they seriously NEED to know.

And please don’t spout crap on how you can handle hormones or temptation or evil just like that. We are, after all, only human. –And the irony is that some of the people who give fervent support for School A’s stance are, I know for a fact, quite the hypocrites. There is a word for that: it’s called nagmamalinis.

Commuters are Survivors

Communting in the Philippines seems like a fight for survival. (And, in some cases, it actually is.) With the incredible lines and tedious crowds, I’d take my train ride in Seoul, Korea, any day of the week. Their rush hour train cars may be “full” and there might be some elbowing, but it certainly doesn’t compare to the way our MRT (smaller than S. Korea’s) gets packed like a can of sardines. Plus, most of the stations I’ve been to have defective ticket machines, which is one of the reasons for the long line in the first place… Goodness forbid you get smooshed up to someone who neglects to apply deodorant. People here don’t just elbow, they cram their whole persons into an overfilled train.

The buses aren’t much better. You, at least, get the option of avoiding a crowded bus and getting on a more spacious one, since there’s always a line of buses everywhere. The downside: a lot of bus drivers here suck. They brake suddenly and overtake like there’s no tomorrow. Just check the news: a lot of traffic accidents here are caused by negligent bus drivers who insist on speeding and overtaking. Perhaps they forget that a bus isn’t the size of a Mini Cooper.

I’ve also mentioned to people time and time again that some cab drivers are the scum of the earth. But a whole lot has improved since the flag down rate was raised to P40. Only a small number of drivers ask to charge extra these days. They seem pacified. –at least, for now.

Today, I have encountered another commuter’s nightmare. An idiot. This one liked to collect pet bottles, screw their lids on tightly, then wedge the bottles under the wheels of approaching buses. The result would be a flattened pet bottle, but not before the crushing weight of the bus blew their lids off with a bang at high pressure and breakneck speed. In fact, the lid of an empty Sting Energy Drink flew uncomfortably close to my general direction. I wanted to whack the guy with a baseball bat. He was even amused, laughing at his activity! Instead, I opted to move as quickly away as possible and let karma deal with this dumb shit.

Derek Ramsay, endorser of Sting Power Lime, please kick this guy's ass.

As if it isn’t enough that commuters have to be weary of thieves and mad-hatter drivers…

He might just go Hulk on you...

I want there to be a politician who knows what it’s like on the hellish commute circuit in Manila. There may be so much controversy surrounding the appearance of NAIA to people who come in and out of this country every couple of weeks, but I hope no one forgets those who have to suffer through the particularly inefficient public transportation system EVERY. FUCKING. DAY.

NBS… Pagtitiis.

I am (–or used to be) a voracious reader. When I was younger, I was an avid collector of various ‘pocketbook’ series: Sweet Valley, Buffy, Harry Potter, etc. And now that I am a great food enthusiast, I look for cookbooks, magazines, and humor. So, naturally, I lived and breathed National Bookstore. It was almost impossible for me to describe my delight when I got to go there every couple of weeks to pick out the book of my choice.

Unfortunately, I don’t have so much time to read now. But when I do try to buy a book, I get dismayed by the fact that NBS isn’t what it used to be. –I could be wrong though, perhaps I don’t remember the way things were and that that is really how they’ve run things since the beginning.

The service isn’t so helpful. Yesterday, I was in the Robinson’s Galleria branch, not knowing what to get. I found the database computer (the one in the middle of the room, not behind a the customer service counter) unmanned, so I decided to look for the poetry books myself by typing the word ‘poetry’ on the search field. The results came out, and I browsed a list of books from both international and local authors alike. A moment later, I found the middle-aged saleslady standing behind me looking rather impatient.

Saleslady: Ano po ‘yon? (What is it?)

Me: I’m looking for a book of poetry, but I haven’t really decided what to get. Do you have Filipino poetry books?

Saleslady: Foreign authors lang po meron namin. Walang local dito. Doon po. *points to something at the bottom of 3 shelves away, serious look still on her face* (We only have foreign poetry authors. No local ones. Over there.)

Me: Ok. Thank you.

*Note that the computer database said that there were several local poetry books.

Funny enough, today I found myself in the Main branch of NBS with a friend who was looking for a book from the Filipiniana section. I asked the cashier ladies to help me out, since there was no line on that floor and they weren’t doing much. The cashier searched her computer briefly and said, “Paki check na lang po doon.” *points to shelves of the Filipiniana section* (Please check there.)

I know people don’t really try to make it an issue in the Philippines and maybe it’s because NBS is a supposedly simple and no-frivolities/it’s-all-there bookstore, but the service is really lacking when compared to Fully Booked where friendly members of the staff go as far as to personally lead you to the right shelf and pull the right book out.

Also, I’ve noticed that NBS Ali Mall isn’t categorized all that well. I thought it was because of the renovations they recently did to the store, but it’s been a couple of months and books of certain categories are still not organized according to the author’s last name. It sounds so geeky of me, I know, but imagine looking for a CD in your favorite music store and finding out that they don’t even bother to sort according to the artist name. Wouldn’t you be upset too?

Update May 17, 2011:

I went to NBS Market! Market! on Sunday (May 15) because my mom needed some white pencil things. Upon arrival, I decided to take my chances in looking for a book that I wanted to read, so I asked a nearby salesgirl to point me in the direction of the Filipiniana section. Instead, she asked for the title of the book I was looking for. I was pleasantly surprised, since the service seemed promising. And then, the kicker: Apparently, the whole Filipiniana section was “displaced” (i.e. not in their proper shelves).

I gave her the title and she proceeded to the customer service section, while I stood there waiting and found another computer database close to where I was standing. Upon checking, I found that, this time, the computer was for customer use because of the fancy, user-friendly lay-out.

According to the computer, my book could be found in Shelf No. 9. Alas, because of the displacement, the idea of Shelf No. 9 was a myth. The salesgirl eventually came up to me and looked at what I was looking, and we both saw that the book was out-of-stock. I asked her to point me to the Filipiniana section, nonetheless, since I figured that I might as well see if there were other titles that would interest me. She smiled apologetically and pointed to the general fiction section… Ah, there it was, the Filipiniana section wedged between some Neil Gaiman books and other general fiction books.

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