Life in the time of bailouts

21 01 2009

“This too shall pass.”

 

The optimistic in me has been telling that to myself.  Four words.  Four wise words to live by in these times.  But I myself will be the first to admit that these words do sound preposterous to anyone who may be, right now, already smarting under the lash of this global financial crisis – the worst in a century.  For me, it has started to really hit close to home from the very moment the holidays were over.  News and even talks over coffee with friends have been rife with accounts of drastic measures being taken by almost every business, in order to survive.

 

That explains why it was the optimistic in me – the operative word being “optimistic” – that was talking.  In what is the worst of times in recent years, we could all benefit by starting with the mindset of expecting the best.  And then, we need to take it from there with a concrete plan of action.

 

I was talking to my own staff earlier today and I, too, have started advising them about being wise with their money.  And this was a bit of a challenge for me.  I couldn’t keep a straight face as I said words like “spend wisely,” “needs over wants,” “eliminate needless spending.”  If Brother were there, he would’ve cut me short, and with stentorian histrionics would declare what little credibility I have on the matter.  You see, in the 11 of the 17 months Brother and I spent together on assignment in the States, all that he remembers me for was the ginormous amount I deposited in – of all “banks” – Kenneth Cole!  And Banana Republic.  And Ralph Lauren.  The list goes on.  Brother still jokes about it to this day.

 

But credibility be damned.  I myself do feel the crunch looming.  And over a fabulous dinner at Cyma Estiatorio at Greenbelt 2, all that one of my best friends – my go-to guy on matters financial – could say was, “Pikit mata na lang (I just closed my eyes and let it rip),” when I asked him how he was taking the then recent stock market crash.  Good thing that he, Batman and I went out to dinner that night.  At least we were languishing at the thought of tough financial times ahead over kakavia, roka salata, solomos angel hair, and steak souvlaki.

 

Seriously now, I couldn’t muster enough courage to tell anyone to stop spending.  My blog alone is a testament to what I shamelessly push – good food  good dining experience.  That means having to spend.  And since my vision board brandishes my pent-up wishes to someday be a restauranteur, I do feel for these entrepreneurs and their workforce should sales take a dizzying nosedive.  So clearly, I’m not for a total stop to eating out.  But one step I have taken is being wiser in my epicurean foodie adventures.  Now is not the time to risk my hard-earned money, only to end up feeling shortchanged, or worse, duped.  Not only do I make a conscious effort to go only to places I do love, my dinners out have now been few and far between, with only special occasions given top priority.  And lately, I no longer ask for everything on the menu as if every dinner was a degustation event.  These times call for and uphold the “no leftovers policy.”

 

For now, my short list only has Thai at Silk, Cyma Estiatorio, Café Bola, Fely J’s, The Soup Kitchen, Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Cupcakes By Sonja.  And repeat after me – “few and far between.”  And yes, don’t discount good hawker food (as long as they’re prepared under sanitary conditions!).  The best Hainanese Chicken Rice and Stir-Fried Noodles I’ve had were those I got from a cart parked on the alleys right beside The Shangri-La Hotel in Penang, Malaysia.

 

Aside from dining out, there are a couple of other items I have put in check – clothes and wristwatches.

 

It was actually a banner story atop the masthead of the December 26, 2008 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer that gave me a nudge – okay, more like a push – in the right direction.  It screamed “’Recessionista’ must-haves,” where recessionista is the contraction of “recession-chic fashionista.”  I don’t consider myself somebody really well-dressed.  Though my good friend Darryl Gallo called me a fashionista in the testimonial he gave me on Friendster®.  All I know is that fortunately enough, I have been able to build a wardrobe that could see me through this crisis.  I’ve long stopped shopping for clothes.  Seriously.  All the shirts I’ve amassed from way beyond five years ago are still in good condition.  And I don’t really care whether or not they are the “in” things right now.  The sense of luxury I get from the clothes I put on come more from my refusal to conform to what is “in” or “hot,” and never from the desire to put coordinated outfits that scream with logos from head to toe.  But if logos are your thing – and you CAN afford it – then go ahead.  But I’m at awe at people who exude great, quiet confidence, as they remain comfortable in their own skin as much as in any item of clothing they put on (branded or otherwise).  And I need not look far or turn to celebrities for role models.  Four people I interact with almost everyday breathe life to this confidence and innate sense of style – Leah, Ken (the Karen Ann), Spider-man, and Superman.  Superman can put on any shirt and it would always look nothing less than what you’d get fom A|X or Lacoste!  And Partner  Partner is a hall-of-famer!  Even cheesecloth would look a million bucks if it would hang from her body.

 

I’ve never put my being a recessionista to the test any more than in what I decided to wear to my good friends Bom & Rizzie’s wedding.  Eversince I got their invitation, I had agonized (in a good way) over what to wear.  And when a couple of months before the wedding, Bom & Rizzie asked me to be their wedding reception emcee, I felt the pressure (to dress properly) all the more.  Should I go the three-piece suit route?  Should I be less formal and more cutting-edge?  Should I really buy that coat-and-tie ensemble on sale at 30% off?  I kept on answering no to these questions I foisted on myself.  Days before my friends’ big day, I spread my more formal wardrobe in a fanlike fashion on the bed.  And with the critical skills needed to raise clothes on hangers and put them in front of my body while staring at the mirror, I ended up picking my white Kenneth Cole long-sleeved shirt with thick black stitch details (collar and cuffs); my charcoal gray Prada pants; and my G2000 black jacket.  The only thing new I put on was the necktie in Bom & Rizzie’s color motif (purple / plum) – a tough-yet-easy choice from a wide array of Paul Smith, Nautica, Izod, Topman, and Rustan’s Black Label Homme neckties I’ve collected all these years.  What I did here was just put together staples (each of which I’ve used time and again in separate occasions) and threw in a fresher twist, an accessory (which was the new purple necktie).

 

And the very last-minute decision I made before darting out the door to go on my way to Bom & Rizzie’s wedding – choosing which wristwatch to wear – opened my eyes to another area I can be wiser on nowadays.  After staring at some of my wristwatches in disarray on one of the shelves of my study table, I haphazardly grabbed my Technomarine sports watch with orange straps.  And before I unceremoniously put it on, I grabbed a couple more wristwatches (for options) which I stashed in one of the pockets of the Esprit leather carry-on bag I was bringing with me.  In the car ride to the church, I asked myself, “Just how many wristwatches does one person need?”  I dare not answer this question in length here.  Because I do have a lot of points to make on why I would buy the next wristwatch on my list (I have a list!).  Suffice it to say, my own rhetorical question put a damper on my own plans to buy more wristwatches – at least within the first quarter of the year.

 

But lest you get the idea that I’m thinking being selfish will mean survival at this point, then you are wrong.  I believe that generosity does have a place in these trying times.  Moreso, meaningful generosity.  Should we still give gifts?  I answer that with a resounding yes.  But instead of just buying and buying these gifts, why not make something with our own hands?  Remember, some, if not all of the best gifts are those that give a portion of your time and of yourself.  Whenever someone makes something for me, words would never be enough to express my appreciation.

 

Again, these are decisions I have decided to make.  And I’m pretty happy with them.  Hopefully, these will help tide me over, so to speak, keeping me afloat on the downstream current of this worldwide recession.  What you may need to do in your situation, is all up to you.  You’ve read my inputs and you can take a look at them from my point of view.  But ultimately, the decision belongs to you and is for you to make.  I wish you to be able to weather this storm in full fighting form.  And without a doubt, you will come out of it alive.  There’s no need to just hunker down and pray for daylight.  With your own personal plan of action you should remain in good shape and before you know it, it’ll be like the good ol’ days again.  Remember the four words we started with:  “This too shall pass.”

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4 responses

21 01 2009
stavemichael

boss enteng, now that we are really facing this financial predicament, i do hope you’ll still be generous with our “ferrero” surprises. *laughs- just kiddin.

i do hope this thing gets over, so that we could really enjoy the fruits of our labor and not really think about what worse thing would happen next…

*what’s with that 2007-down moments thingy? its overdue na, i hope i could find out na from you. hehehe*

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22 01 2009
Francis

“This too shall pass”

-It shall really happen. Nothing is constant except change, right. That leaves us the question, WHEN?

Let’s just consider this season to follow our 3-year set but never followed diet plan. It’s wise to cut the amount of food we eat when we don’t have the resources to buy them. Hehehe…

And you can add our regular jogging sessions to your list of “money saving tips.” Here’s my formula:

More time jogging = Less time for malls, dates, etc
Less time for malls… = Less chances of unnecessary spending
Less chances of unnecessary spending = MoreSavings!!!

And another thing Boss Enteng, I believe in the “I believe that generosity does have a place in these trying times” thing. I just hope and pray it finds its way every after jogging sessions… Hehe.

There’s a promise of good weather after the storm. We can make it through.

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24 01 2009
Eyes Only

So Boss Enteng, kelan ka na uli manlilibre? 😛

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28 01 2009
Clint

Recessionista? HAHAHA! I love the word….

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