Friday, October 20, 2006

Turning 34

Tomorrow, I will be turning 34. I was born on the 21st of October 1972, one month after Martial Law was declared in the Philippines so that makes me a "Martial Law Baby." Although "turning thirty-four" has a nice, poetic ring to it I really do not look forward to growing old by another year. I do not know why but everytime October 21 comes along, I usually turn pensive and inward-looking, depressed even. I'm becoming some sort of a grouch in my "old" age.

Unlike most persons my age who claim they "don't feel their age," I feel that I am older (or "mature" depending on your "denial" level) than my 34 years. I know that I look older than my age: most people I encounter think I am 40-something already! Most get surprised when I tell them my true age and they usually say it is because of the way "I carry myself" - the way I dress, move and talk. But I suspect that they are just being polite, too embarrassed to say to my face that my face looks older than my age. Now that I am in my mid-30s, I find myself "mellowing down." I don't drink and go out on "gimmicks" that often anymore - not because of some conscious effort on my part, it is simply because most of my peers are also starting families and are more "home-centered" now. I have also cut down on smoking (from one pack to one-half pack a day) and beer drinking. "Gimmicks" for me now means going to the mall with the wife and kid on weekends. I have also become more patient and understanding of other people. (My recent photo: Do I look my age?)

This year is unique because unlike my previous birthdays which I spent self-indulgently (as birthday celebrants are entitled to do), my schedule for the day includes hosting lunch for my college buddies, one of which arrived from Singapore with his new Singaporean wife. Later in the afternoon I will attend the baptism of a friend's baby and at night, I will cram for the Civil Service exam which I am scheduled to take early next day.

One of the greatest ironies in my life is that although I've worked in government almost all my professional life, I have never taken the Civil Service exam. All my previous government jobs were "confidential and co-terminus" staff positions (which does not require Civil Service eligibility). I've put off taking the exam for years since it was not really required - yes, I am a living testament to the Filipino maƱana habit. But when I applied to take the exam this year, I didn't expect that it would fall so close to my natal day. Not that I mind studying on my birthday: I am in no mood to celebrate anyway.

I neither planned nor wanted a career in government and figured that my stints with Senator Roco and then-DTI Secretary Roxas would be my last as a government servant. My long-term ambition really is to PR for some big multinational corporation and earn a fat salary. I tried several times to apply for a corporate job but I guess my skills, experience and network are not valued highly in the private sector. Although I am still on the prowl, I decided to be more blase about it. A corporate sector job is not something I would kill for because in fact, I enjoy working in government. It's just that the pay is lousy, and the benefits lousier. If it was just me, I would probably survive on a government salary but I have a family to think about now. The ideal scenario for me really is to continue doing what I enjoy most (working for government) while earning enough to live comfortably. This is why I await with hopeful anticipation the new Salary Standardization III which promises to increase the salaries of civil servants.

By way of closing, I would like to share these pearls of wisdom:

"When I was in my 20s I wanted to change the world.
When I was 30 I wanted to change my country.
In my 40s I decided I only wanted to change my city.
When I was 50 I found myself wanting to change only my community.
Now that I am in my 60s, I realize that I only need to change myself
and that if I started sooner, things would have been better
for everyone all around."


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Oliver! Wish you good luck to all your endeavours. God Bless you and your family.

From : Kasimanwa

Dominique said...

Best birthday wishes, Oliver! Remember, you're only as young as you think you are!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, kasimanwa, and I think you're just 6 days older than I, only that I belong to the baby boomer. Just two years after WW II, but my friend Amanda (21 years) here, always pulling my legs by telling me I don't look a day older than 22, until I take off my omnipresent baseball cap. Maybe my secret, is I have not written anything longer than a letter during the pre-cheap long distance and text, until I started blogging a year ago. And also maybe one reason for feeling young and still loving life, is I never found wanting to change anything, except but by helping a lot of people along the way, I may have changed their lives for the better all the years without expecting anything in return. I do it in my own small way, and few days from now I may be the only one who will remember my birthday, other than the ussual love ones. And life must go on..

Iloilo City Boy said...

Thank you Dominique, and Anonymous (whoever you are).

Anonymous said...

I would like to say happy birthday even sometimes I don't agree with some of your thoughts.Doing something that you feel passionate about is the best thing as long as you can provide your family a decent lifestyle.

balikbayan_box said...

Happy Birthday!!!

sheila said...

just like you i just turned 34,and yeah i do not look forward to grow "old" by another year and just like you i'm a libra, and just like like you i was born under the year of the rat and just like you i also turn pensive and inward looking whenever that time of the year arrives...a martial law baby who's passion are books, good food, movies and travel...

when i was in grade school i thought 34 year old single women are those grouchy and withclike spinsters waiting for death to arrive it was as if, if you reach this age and is still single... tsk tsk you are doomed. (talk about pressure!)

But here i am now, just crossed over to that "age" that i dreaded... but you know what? when i woke up that day i still feel so young and full of zest in life, i still feel the same way as i feel when i was 23 and 33 and the marvelous thing is... now im not afraid to grow old anymore!


"So often this child-woman seems to be holding life in her hands like a gorgeous slithery fabric, exclaiming over its astonishing texture and color, as well as its exorbitant price. "

melai said...

Ei ..happy birthday po :)
want to sing you a happy birthday song kaya lang baka maingayan ka sa kin e :) ..ughmmnnn 2 months lang pala tanda mo sa akin ..... di kita pwedeng tawaging kuya lol!! So you worked with late senator Roco ...nice to know that :) ..siya lang yata ang presidential candidate na binoto ko ...natalo pa ..jinx yata ang boto ko lol!!

happy birthday ulit ... maraming salamat sa patuloy na pagbisita sa aking manilenya :) mabuhay ka!!!!!
btw! I like your closing :)

Stella Arnaldo said...

Huy Oli happy h-bomb! Cut out the smokes cos that's what's gonna age your skin. Nakaka-wrinkles yan yak! Use your wife's moisturizer! (O di ba, me beauty advice pa ako?)

Just remember age is really a state of mind. If you think young, you are young. Tignan mo ako, isip bata pa din hehe.

Take that frigging civil service exam na. It's so super easy (except for the Tagalog part). And it will help you go further in your career in govt. I salute you for wanting to continue serving the public. Lousy pay but lots of psychic rewards, ika nga. The public will never fail to show its appreciation to good work done by a govt employee/official. And that makes all the difference.



Iloilo City Boy said...

To Balikbayn Box, Melai, Shiela, Stella and all the Anonymous others who greeted me on my birthday, many thanks.

Anonymous said...




Kailangan ka ng Panay!

I like to share a quote from General Robert E. Lee


"Whiskey - I like it, I always did, and that is the reason I never use it"

“Duty is the most sublime word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.”


Am said...

Be lated happy Birthday. You have interesting blogs. Good analysis with solid historical background. I like them. Keep blogging! All the best for you and your family.

MLQ3 said...

belated! i thank god for your blog.

Iloilo City Boy said...

Thank Manolo, thank Am and to all my anonymous well-wishers. Your kind words really help. With your encouragement, I look forward to improve my blogging.