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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trivial National Pursuits

As expected, all Monday long my social news feed was cluttered with posts, news items and blow-by-blow accounts of how our candidate to the annual contest known as Miss Universe was faring. Even the "serious" news organizations of this country were giving up-to-the-minute updates.

It is now Tuesday, and apparently, the buzz has shifted to - strangely, of all places - Miss Jamaica. I knew (from my feed) that while our contestant entered the top 10 of the pageant, she did not fare any higher, and news stories were sprouting up saying Filipinos were now behind Miss Jamaica because she "supposedly" has Filipino blood. (Which she has denied.)

No, she doesn't have Filipino blood. Stop asking her.
(Courtesy of twitter.com)

Several of our men in uniform died (it seems needlessly), a city mayor is possibly going to be arrested by the Senate, but what makes us pulse online is if a beauty pageant contestant has Filipino blood? Talk about priorities - or the lack thereof. (I read a report that "Jamaica" suddenly trended online for the Philippines during the Miss Universe pageant.)

As a country, we are "supposed" to be obsessed with two things in the international arena: how congressman Manny Pacquiao fares in his next boxing bout, and how our candidate will do in this year's slew of beauty pageants. If this is what it means to be Filipino, then I most definitely will be on the other side of the fence, what some have labeled as anti-Filipino/un-Filipino.

I don't care much for boxing matches - I find them as having no difference with the gladiator fights of yore (one can die in either scenario from the strikes sustained). I actually wonder if Manny has some cognitive dissonance with what he does in the ring and what he preaches whenever he is asked his religious views - one that pretty clearly states violence as a no-no.

I don't care much for beauty pageants, also. It is an insult to women to be judged on how they look in a bikini and to be assigned some kind of numerical worth on that basis. The very notion of pageants is no doubt related to what is already an epic obsession of young girls to look a certain way, along with the powerful messages transmitted in mass media about whitening lotions, laser therapies and underarm treatments.

What is it about our national DNA that takes pride in the arenas of violence (boxing) and sex (beauty contests)? How do we reconcile that with the fact that we are supposed to be a "deeply Catholic" nation - one that eschews divorce but where illegitimate children are rampant?

And, in Miss Jamaica's case, we seem to ride on the coattails of anyone who is remotely suspected of having a single drop of Filipino blood. Kahit nga wala, basta masuspetsahan lang. (Even if there is no evidence, just suspicion.)

Last year, a bunch of kids from Philippine schools placed well in an international mathematics competition. I didn't hear anyone clamoring for these kids to be paraded on floats when they arrived back home, the way we do when Manny or a beauty contestant comes home. You may think little of this, but it is the bits and pieces that make up our cultural landscape - and we have arrived at a (sad) point where one can be called a "traitor" for not being supportive of either of them.

One argument says "they bring honor to the country!"

We certainly are famous - even our cab driver in Vietnam knows who Manny Pacquiao is - but I'm having a hard time equating it with honor. Unless we are now putting fame and honor on the same footing, the only ones I see gaining from these competitions are Manny or the beauty titlists themselves. (And the companies that sponsor their respective contests, of course.)

Maybe I have un-Filipino views. But that doesn't make me less of a Filipino, the same way one isn't required to be Catholic in order to be considered a Filipino citizen. It just makes me part of the minority - and that suits me just fine, in a major, major way.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

One Sunday At Inagiku

Often touted as one of the top-of-mind Japanese restaurants in Metro Manila, Inagiku (located at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel) has earned itself a loyal following as well as favorable reviews in local foodie blogs. I was once feted here by a friend who insisted that she could cajole the chef into cooking bits of bovine fat into such marvelous crispness that it could send one into food orgasm. (The chef did oblige, and after tasting it furtively, my friend's "request" certainly made a compelling case for the former in the food vs. sex debate.)

In line with this, let's move on to delights more suited to the palate.

Art and I knew Inagiku as a place of calm and quiet, having been to this restaurant separately on weekdays. Sundays, however, are a different matter. As soon as the doors opened (at 11:30 AM), the hostess lead the first party in - and everyone else didn't bother waiting for her to return, and proceeded inside on their own to find "their" tables. 

I proceeded to do a quick run through of the different stations, this being my first time to eat here on a Sunday. I passed by the salad station and thought to myself, you're not going to get much play today.

At the farthest end of the spread was a chef cooking up a huge serving of sukiyaki. I knew right away what my first dish would be.



I had a sip of the sweet, savory broth and felt what everyone feels when having their soup of choice: a warm, fuzzy buzz all over. Though Art insists the broth was too sweet for his taste, I found it to be perching a Goldilocks-like balance with the savory portion: just right. (Proof positive that taste is highly subjective.) I've had three different versions of this dish from other local Japanese restaurants, and they were either too sweet or a little watery. This one hit the spot, and set the tone for the upcoming fare.



Knowing they do their beef justice (see first paragraph), I asked the chef to cook us 2 servings of the 2 beef varieties they had for grilling: a thick cut, and the other one was thinly sliced. We prefer our meat medium to medium rare, and in what seems to me to be an internal magic clock in chefs (or, more likely, having the weight of experience), he knew the exact moment to pull it out of the heat and served it just the way we like it. I knew my arteries were hardening just by smelling the delectable morsels, but as Mr. Wilde advised, I beat temptation by hurling the fat-laden pieces down my throat.



I also opted to have some scallops - in my mind this was considered "lighter fare" - but I think the resulting dish was not as stellar as the beef because the freshness of the seafood was almost drowned in butter/oil.




No trip to a Japanese restaurant can be considered complete (in my book, anyway) without tasting their sashimi - and the sight of the ruby and orange squares (tuna and salmon) all laid out made sure I would not miss out on testing Inagiku's definition of freshness. They did not disappoint: I know it's odd, but I like it when my raw fish doesn't have a fishy smell. The sashimi tasted bright, if that even makes any sense.

There were several other dishes which I failed to take in - mostly because I was already satiated from what I did try. (Does this mean a return trip is in order?) Side note: While we do not have a picture of them, we thoroughly enjoyed the ebi tempura, which had a light but flavorful batter, and shrimps that were noticeably more plump than most.








I found many of the desserts charming to the eye. While I did see many varieties, I only tried a few of them - ah, the vagaries of reaching age 40, but one has to temper the consumption of sweets. But who says we cannot make take them in visually?







For some reason, this green ball struck me as the prettiest of them all.


And inside it was a pleasant surprise.


A swathe of matcha cream topped with red beans, both of which are ingredients that have always tickled my taste buds. But don't fret if you prefer sweets from nature, you will not be disappointed.


I remember reading somewhere - the name of the blog escapes me just now - that you had to request for ice cream because it was not readily "available," and I found that to be just the case. It was quite delightful to be having this cold dessert in unconventional flavors - black bean and wasabi.



The wasabi variety was especially masterful, having the flavor of its namesake without the sting.

We found ourselves in a virtual food coma, but thank goodness for the tea provided, which helped to soothe our feelings of immobility. At more than PhP (Philippine Pesos) 2,300.00 per person, this is not something I would partake of everyday. But if you're looking for Japanese fare that will put a smile on your (now bloated) face, a trip to Inagiku might be just what you need.


------------------------


Inagiku
2nd Floor, Makati Shangri-la Hotel
Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue,
Makati City 1200
(632)8142580
http://www.shangri-la.com/manila/makatishangrila/dining/restaurants/inagiku/






Thursday, January 1, 2015

Resolutions, Schmesolutions

With 2015 now in its infancy, I don't doubt that a plethora of resolutions are being made, or have been made. After almost four decades of existence, however, I would classify some (if not most) resolutions as mere "schmesolutions".

Which I would define as the art of making resolutions without any intention of achieving them.

All I needed to do was to look back on what transpired last January 2014 to know that this is, tragically, a sad fact.

In between posts of "Happy New Year 2014!" and status updates about feng shui predictions, there was a viral post last year about saving money every week - and I saw a lot of my Facebook friends claiming that "this is the year na mag-iipon ako!" (that I will start saving money) while sharing that post.

The article made saving look achievable - set aside 50 pesos on the first week, then double it to 100 the following week, raise it to 200 on the third, then 400 on the fourth, and so on until you've gone the full 52 weeks of 2014.

(From monsterpiggybank.com)

As a financial planner, I knew the folly of such an exponential plan - you would need to "save" over a million pesos in one of those weeks, not even halfway through the 52 weeks! (By week 16, the plan required you to "set aside" 1,638,400 pesos!)

I've always believed that people should save what they can, with what they have or earn. Only when they are earning more or have more should they also relatively save more. So if you've already set your mind or goal at 15%, even if your salary increases, you can still set your savings rate at 15% or increase it gradually to 20%.

Armed with the knowledge that some of my friends wanted to be financial "savers" (instead of spenders), I approached a couple of them and told them about the nature of my job - to sit down with clients, discuss their goals and reasons for them, know their financial status, then draw a financial map as well as concrete plans/steps on how to do those goals, based on what they have now and how much they can set aside to make those goals a reality.

I showed them why the plan they saw in the Facebook post was actually difficult to achieve - for anyone - and that they should instead have a plan to set aside a set amount of money every month, just to cultivate the habit. In our separate meetings, they both agreed that setting aside a specific amount, and not one that increases every week, was a more manageable way of arriving at their goals - one wanted to set a retirement fund (already aged 50), the other one was a 30 year old who wanted to travel.

Age50 knew he was already running against time, seeing as he wanted to retire by age 60. So he offered to set aside 20,000 a month. I looked at his salary and while he could afford to do so, it would mean a drastic change in his lifestyle - I cautioned him and advised him to just set aside half. He confidently answered, "I can do that! I can give you 10,000 a month!"

Age30 wanted to travel to Europe in 2 years, so I asked him how much he was willing to set aside every month. "Less than a thousand pesos."

I was stunned, to say the least. Surely, I answered, you know that a trip to Europe costs hundreds of thousands? I know people who've spent close to a million pesos in two weeks time traveling there - and they didn't even stay in fancy hotels.

Fast forward to the middle of the year: Age 30 didn't bother meeting me again - and it's safe to say he won't be going to Europe in a couple of years. Or decades, given his unrealistic expectations from setting aside only 12,000 a year. (Actually, I suppose he could still go - on credit. That is a separate subject altogether, because used improperly, it is a financial quicksand that could ruin your life.)

Age50 started saving 10,000 a month in January...then February...but by March, I got a notification from the bank that I should contact the client because they couldn't withdraw the needed monthly amount in the debit arrangement. "I have repairs at home! I will just pay double next month!" he answered back through text messaging, when I asked him about it.

April came, and Age50 was already screening my calls. He didn't make good on his "I'll pay double next month" statement.

May arrived, and I saw (on Facebook) he had spent a pretty penny buying designer clothes - but he couldn't spare enough for his monthly contribution for his retirement fund.

Until November 2014 arrived, and he contacted me, saying "Joey, I mean it this time! Please start deducting from my account so I can set up my retirement fund!" But when I once again asked for his contribution, his response was, "Wait, I have to start saving...now?"

It made me wonder: how were you planning to do what the viral post suggested, to set aside an increasing amount every week, if you couldn't even manage setting aside a set amount monthly?

I've come to the conclusion that, like the proverbial road to hell, financial resolutions are lofty and full of good intentions - with no intention of making them concrete or a reality.

We all say we want to be millionaires. We are envious when we see others succeed in their small business - swinerte lang yan (that's just luck) - disregarding the hard work that business person put in to be "lucky". We keep wondering when will our (literal) fortunes change. Why we don't see our bank accounts increase. Why we are still living hand to mouth at 50.

It's easy to make resolutions. Get a piece of paper, think up something "important sounding so that my Facebook friends will be impressed," and you're done.

But without an achievable, time-bound plan that you have the will to execute, your resolutions will just pile up, year after year. Pretty soon, you'll end up at 60, forced into retirement, without a retirement fund in sight.

Believe me, that does not a pretty picture make.

Don't let 2015 be just another year you spend wishing without any action. It's not a coincidence that the act of dreaming happens when you are asleep - consciously not doing anything. And I promise you that your resolutions will remain in a dream like state - unless you wake up and do something concrete about them.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The P.I.G. Is Now Fat

I woke up this morning and found a status update on Facebook that made me smile, a wide and satisfying one. It gave me such a buzz, I went out with my partner and had steak for lunch.

Perhaps I should explain.

Years ago, a dear friend's dad passed away. Deaths in one's family are never easy, but it was especially hard on my friend, who, after ten months, still seemed to be in a trance like state. (I would cajole him to get out more, and he would be in the counter of a restaurant staring blankly while the server was waiting for him to say his order, for what seemed to be an eternity, and with a line of irate customers behind him, which he couldn't care less for.)

On one such occasion, as we were having our lattes, a mutual acquaintance chanced upon us. This person was from the "I have a fabulous body and I'm showing it off" school of imperiousness, and even joined fitness contests one after another - he was good enough to join but not to win a single event. Ever.

He uttered a barely audible greeting in my direction because he was too busy acting horrified upon seeing my friend. The Proudly Insensitive Guy (or P.I.G.) did a double take, and exclaimed loudly for everyone in the cafe to hear.

(Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

"OHMYGAAAAAD!!! What the hell happened to you?!?"

My friend, who really wasn't in the mood for further "socialization" took a short pause, then said, "What do you mean?"

P.I.G. then gestured with both hands towards my friend's body, emphasizing the girth he was witnessing. "You're HUGE! As in, really, really huge!!! Did you gain like, what, between 50 to a hundred pounds?!? I mean, you're humongous!"

My friend and I exchanged furtive glances, and he turned to the P.I.G. and said (calmly), "yes, I did...And?"

P.I.G. then forehead-palmed himself and blurted, "What the hell happened? You were one of those success stories from the gym, you lost a lot of pounds...why are you now as big as a refrigerator???"

At this point, P.I.G. grabbed a chair to join us - even though no one invited him, and with what he just said, no one was rushing to do it - and looked at my friend from head to foot, then sizing him up like a salesperson estimating waist size. I turned away, wishing that the floor beneath me would just swallow me whole, because I could see the car crash happening but I was powerless to stop it.

My friend maintained his demeanor, and replied, "Look, my dad just died. I haven't been to the gym, I've been arranging his affairs, the taxes we've had to pay, and we haven't even settled his medical bills fully..."

The P.I.G. couldn't wait to preach his brand of body-conscious logic: "But that's not an excuse! Are you saying that you can't make time for yourself? I mean...come on...you just let yourself go...all the way to the buffet table!"

I sensed an imperceptible shift in my friend's face - imperceptible except to those who knew him well - that signaled he has had enough of the buffoon he was faced with. "My dad died. I'm still grieving. I'm sorry I don't look my best. I have nothing else to say."

Maybe the P.I.G. thought he saved his best argument for last, because he beamed with pride when he retorted, "Excuse me, my dad also died! But you don't see me letting myself and my body go, do you?" At this point, the P.I.G. actually stood up from his seat and did a full turn, the way he would at those fitness competitions that he never won in, trying to showcase his body to the entire cafe. (He was wearing a fitted tee.)

My friend gave him a slight wave, and made a gesture as if he was shooing a fly away. It was as if the P.I.G. suddenly regained his social cue thermometer and sensed that he was unwanted by everyone at that table. He proceeded to leave in a huff, walking away as if cameras were on him.

Fast forward to this morning: the P.I.G. announced something that made it seem like I swallowed a Cheshire cat. I will attempt to paraphrase what he announced publicly.

"I don't want to be hearing any comments about how fat I've gotten. I'm fat, I know I'm fat, and I don't need to field any questions about how fat I've gotten. I'm also older. But guess what? Everyone's going to get fat and old. Get over yourselves! And don't bother coming near me if you're going to mention anything about my weight or age. Merry Christmas!"

Surely you can forgive me for feeling this much glee, so much schadenfreude?

The P.I.G. is now on the other side of the fence.

And while he may never admit it, I think he has learned a lesson in empathy. And to never judge a person just because they seemed to have "let themselves go." And how words can be hurtful, even when they are couched as expressions of concern. Or that one's "body beautiful" will not last forever, and that instead of rubbing it in other people's faces, to just be happy that you are considered "attractive" for this particular time and space.

We are in the middle of the holiday festivities, and while meeting relatives or having reunions with high school/college classmates, you are bound to hear questions or expressions surrounding our looks or weight: "ang taba-taba mo na" (you've gotten so fat) will undoubtedly be a "standard" greeting. I'm willing to bet the P.I.G. won't be one of them, though, knowing firsthand how things can quickly turn.

At least I hope those are the lessons he has learned, falling from the tree of bodily perfection. But in case he hasn't, his story still serves as an instructive tale for those who bank solely on their looks or body to get by in life, which can be a handicap: some of them never develop their social skills nor the art of conversation simply because of the advantages that beauty is afforded these days: movie and recording deals even when the (beautiful) person can't act/sing, everyone's instant admiration even if she is a neophyte in a company and hasn't shown any skill/achievement worthy of awe, or - horror of horrors - a legislative seat because "ang ganda niya kasi." (She's just so beautiful.)

We've all been told never to judge a book by its cover. Looking at today's advertisements of underwear models, proliferation of beauty clinics and barrage of whitening soaps, it may be difficult to remember that. We're now bombarded with messages that tell us that what's outside is what's paramount, what's important, what matters.

I know of at least one P.I.G. who begs to disagree.






Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Hardest English Word To Spell

It's 'onion'. Apparently.

At least that's the impression I got going around the produce section of the nearby supermarket, seeing as they misspelled it twice.

Care for some "onoins"?


'Onins' for Odin, perhaps?

Am I being a spelling Nazi? Perhaps. But for this behemoth, this Super Monolith, which earns billions of pesos, I find it inexcusable: surely, they could spare some part - some minute, insignificant part of those billions - to hire someone to make sure they can at least spell correctly?

After all, if you've got it all for us, that would include a decent proofreader.

Just sayin'.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Fine Apple This Day

As I was about to close my Facebook News Feed, my eye caught an article shared by a friend who lives in Mindanao: Apple CEO Tim Cook has come out of the closet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
(Courtesy of twitter.com)

I needed to hear it from him directly, so I searched out for the article he wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek entitled Tim Cook Speaks Up. He talks about how inherently private he is as a person but he now realizes that it is imperative that he be public about his sexual orientation. 

It was this particular passage that resonated the most. "I don't consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I've benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it's worth the trade-off with my own privacy."

I first heard the phrase "the personal is the political" at a time when Debbie Gibson and Tiffany were battling it out to be The teen pop sensation. At the time, I never made much of it. But as I grew more interested and involved with how politics is played out in our country, that phrase has come back to remind me of its veracity, over and over, and what it signifies to me is that the causes I champion and will continue to fight for have values that are dear to who I am and what I deem important.

When I support laws that will empower and encourage women to report rapes, it is because I firmly believe in equality, and any act that seeks to highlight femaleness as a weakness to be exploited must be arrested. 

I strongly championed for the Reproductive Health Bill to be passed, because I believe that what you do and what happens to your body is your decision, not the government's, nor any religion's to make. 

And when I speak out against politicians who have been in power for decades, fielding their spouses, children, uncles and even assistants to "take their place" because they've reached the amount of terms they can stay in a particular elective position, it's because (1) our Constitution prohibits political dynasties and (2) public office is a trust, not a birthright to be passed down like royalty.

So when Tim Cook announced he has come out, I couldn't help but wonder: what kind of backlash would he be getting for being open about who he is? 

Make no mistake: coming out is a political act. It is a decision that no gay person takes lightly, because of the horrible repercussions that may ensue once it is done.

You can be denied a job, or fired from your current one, just for stating this.

You automatically define yourself as "abnormal" in a statistical sense, although some sectors would gleefully remind us that, in their unscientific view, this abnormality extends to our mental faculties, or worse, that we have been "possessed" by an evil spirit and that an exorcism must be performed posthaste.

There's the (ridiculous) notion that gay men shouldn't work in banks because they'll be stealing nonstop for their papas. (Boyfriends) If that's true, then our banking system should have collapsed a long time ago, because I personally know many bankers who are gay. And in high ranking positions, too.

I have been together with my partner for 18 years (which I wrote about a few months back, and it was published by Rappler) - and from what my straight friends tell me, that is an achievement whether one identifies as straight or gay, in these times - but we are not offered any legal protection nor benefits, hospitals can bar either one of us should we need to be confined in a medical facility, and we can't declare each other as beneficiaries in our insurance policies because, despite sharing bank accounts, mortgage payments and silverware, we are not legally recognized as having "insurable interest".

The rejection by our own family - the people who we were taught would stand by us, no matter what - would probably rank as the highest cost that one incurs as a result of coming out. And in a society as family-centric such as ours (not to mention our predilection to ignore privacy boundaries), this is cause for great stress and strain for the individual, who is facing the rejection and at the same time is being blamed for "tearing this family apart!"

As I looked at the local comments on social media about Cook's announcement, it dawned on me just how far we have to go, to the destination being A Time When Sexual Orientation Doesn't Matter One Bit.

There are comments about why the iPhone 6 bends - "no wonder, the CEO is gay!"

A little hand wringing about "bakit ba ang daming baklaaaaa?!?" (Why are there so many gay men?)

But most of the negative feedback stemmed from a statement that Cook himself wrote: "I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts that God has given me." It didn't matter that Cook never specified which God he was referring to. Each comment simply assumed that they shared the same faith and that Cook was an evil man.

"God punished Sodom and Gomorrah! Apple is next!"

"How dare you take the Lord's name in vain! You're going to hell!"

"Nakakasuka ka! Ipinagmalaki mo pa kabadingan mo!" (You disgust me! You dared flaunt your homosexuality!)

It didn't matter that Cook must have worked his butt off - bad pun, I know - to get to where he is now, commanding a company that is admired worldwide. (Even Android users have to agree - albeit begrudgingly - that Apple has the loyalty card played to a tee.) Cook even frames his declaration as just a mere facet of who he is, "an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things," but that doesn't mean anything to these people who fancy themselves as definitive moral guardians who must bend this world to their world view.

Personally, I'm happy that a successful man who didn't need to come out decided to do so. Every act of coming out represents a chipping of the "quaint" world view, the one that likes to paint gay people as loud, obnoxious, flamboyant, good for laughs and not much else, sex-starved and driven only by lust, child molesters and irresponsible good-for-nothing members of this world. 

We aren't there yet, but one day, sexual orientation won't matter. I doubt I will see it in my lifetime; but then again, I never thought I'd see an African American be President on the USA. Twice. 

Anytime I feel optimistic, what grounds me is that we are one of only 2 countries in the world that still doesn't have divorce and some of us still giggle when we say the word "condom". We are supposed to be a secular democracy but Senate meetings begin with a prayer. So, the road may be longer for this country.

But I'm much more interested in the road that Cook is trying to build. At the end of his piece, he reveals that he has pictures of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy in his office. "All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know I'm doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick."

As Aesop's Tortoise showed us, slow but sure wins the race. Brick by brick, towards equality.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Extreme (Sears) Couponing

If you're a fan of the show Extreme Couponing, then you'll know how frustrating it is to be living in the Philippines, where couponing is practically nonexistent.

So when I was contacted to write a sponsored post for the online store of Sears, I readily said yes, just to see if I could make like those people featured in Extreme Couponing. Imagine, having to shop and not paying a cent! (Sometimes the store even has to give you back a rebate, all because of coupons.)

(From salon.com)

I decided to check out the Sears deals - after all, I'll need my coupons if I'm going coupon shopping. (And without having to drag around a big binder, like those that I see on the show.) Just access the link, and it's your gateway to the best Sears coupons.

Reading through the store's description, Sears has been immortalized in American culture because it was mentioned in the hit show The Brady Bunch, and since then, Americans have come to recognize Sears as their preferred one-stop shop, whether it's for home, work, do-it-yourself or even fitness equipment.

I decided to check the discount site's claims by combing through the various Sears deals and Sears coupons I could find. (After all, if I'm going to give a fair review, I need to "go through the process" so to speak.)

A Sears coupon for appliances? Check.

A Sears coupon for kids' clothing and accessories? Check.

One for sports and fitness items? Check.

On jewelry? Check.

Patio furniture? Check.

One of the newest - and I dare say, innovative - features that Sears gives its customers is the In-Vehicle Pickup, advertised with these words: "Stay in your car. We'll come to you." Imagine, you don't have to sweat it out with the rest of the shopping public; just drive to the store, they'll probably have some kind of identifier for you and your car, and your orders will be brought to your car. (I'm not sure if that will work here in the Philippines, though: there might be robbers waiting to pounce on store employees while they are walking or taking your orders to your car.)

But strangely, it begs the question: why bother?

And I ask that because on several Sears coupons, they include free shipping for orders and purchases made with the coupons online! Why spend for gas, precious time and effort going all the way to the store, when it can be delivered to your doorstep, free of charge, with the right Sears coupon?

In fact, the best draw of shopping online is that you don't have to leave home to shop!

And the Sears website is a smorgasbord of items for every thing you expect to find in a well-stocked department store: from appliances, baby stuff and beauty products, to home improvement items and toys and games, they've got it.

Sears started out as a mail-order catalog, and their business grew so much, at one point their catalogs were known as the "Consumers' Bible". Until recently, they were the number one retail company in America, and given this rich heritage, it makes perfect sense for them to offer online shopping - after all, isn't that really just catalog shopping in electronic form?

Couple this with the fact that this generation is a wired one - even our country, supposedly a Third World one, is also well on-point with this trend, so imagine how indispensable it is to be online in the US, as well as a desire to look for the best deals possible, and it is to your advantage to look for the best Sears deals that you can find. Even our ways to pay have evolved - now everything is done electronically and without even bringing out any cash (which would make the physical wallet superfluous, haha) because of the new ways consumers are buying.

Sears has maintained top position in the retail industry because of its willingness to incorporate changes as they come. And by combining online shopping with their Sears deals, it's no wonder they are now an institution, even for a mobile, current generation.