I have been dead serious with my past entries and I am thinking of making an experiment that would spice my content better. Humor oh yes! I have to add traces of that and inject a little language of inarticulateness. As student of philosophy I seldom encountered humor in our class because most of the lectures were trite and heady and lacked of freshness. College philosophy, as some deem it, is an ultimate pain in the butt, so ideal that you couldn’t flout it in any means. The problem I guess are with words, the constructions and the terms that sound like alien blabs frantically uttering their paean such as geist, dasein, cognito apriori..atbp. These are absolutely foreign terms that I also abhorred during my college years but I had to swallow them obediently just to get my scholarship going. But can we relay philosophy without sigh of drowsiness? Maybe. Ask Bob Ong.
Here are some complex philosophical ideas that can be subject to humor. These are some of my favorite thinkers with their famous clichés:
1. Life is absurd.-Albert Camus
Dabubu: Imagine yourself looking at two ducks copulating. Because you hate their natural boldness for simple reason that you get squeamish to witness it, take your gun and shoot those boobies. Then you cook them and eat them with delight because you’ll never get to spot their “I don’t care if you see us, so what” again.
Totomel: Uhuh? Then What?
Dabubu: Now, the boobies turn. You start to feel excruciating pain possessing you that you want to call all the idadalmons, angeles, santos kag martires. You rush to the hospital and find out that the fowls were actually carriers of bird flu.
Totomel: That is improbable.
Dabubu: Yeah. Yet the more experience becomes absurd, the better Camus idea is proven.
2. Hell with other people-Jean Paul Sartre
“We have to get married darling,” de Beauvoir said.
“No way. There’s a problem with absolute freedom that I’m working on. It’s like writing using my pen’s butt,” countered Sartre.
“Mind you,” de Beauvoir retorted. “Your shortness will apparently speak of your performance. Would you mind me writing about it in my Second Sex? After all, feminism means audacity.”
“ No please! Let’s get it done, come to my house and we’ll get married on our own.”
HELL WITH OTHER PEOPLE KA DYAN!!!
3. Art is the spearhead of the society-Susanne Langer
Abulad: We can only change Philippine society if we are able to develop an original Filipino Philosophy.
Paul Medina: Hindi naman siguro. Du-drawing na lang ako to make our society change into my society. Drawing lang yan bro.
4. The ultimate arche of the universe is water; ergo everything is made up of water.-Thales
Propesor: De facto, our body is 70 % made up of water.
Estudent: Sir, I think that’s erroneous.
Propesor: Who are you to question me? TUBIG KA LANG!!!
Estudent: Aba, nagsalita ang bato!
I hope that philosophy will never stay boring all the time. Maybe its time to get some innovation: take philosophy outside the church and start drawing it in comics. Besides, philosophy should be better understood in the light of our cultural humor. Kay ang filosofiya indi gid man dapat boring borj. Di ba?
It’s not often that I clamber up to 6th floor of the Iloilo Capitol, but for the sake of organizing my thoughts, I opt to breathe fresh air atop Iloilo’s prime edifice, utter my mantra, and focus. Instead of jotting the first line for my press release, I turn my attention to the old Iloilo port that stood the test of time. I am not exactly sure of its antiquity but I think it is aged a century and has been witness to the rise and fall of Ilonggo civilization. On my right side facing north is the historical range of Gen. Luna Street spanning up to the University of the Philippines, an institution that is dear to me. In facing east, the old Iznart Street, which has been a subject place of Stevan Javellana, remains jam packed with vehicles and rabbles that have became slaves of time. The Bonifacio Drive and the Iloilo River remain tranquil below the six bridges that were erected for the benefit of accessibility and road network. Facing up, I notice the same sky that is unclear of any expression, but I surmise is frowning because there is so much demand of sun block in the market—that we forget to think that we can never solve the issue of blackening unless we look up and think how to resolve the problem of mercury rising.
There is no doubt that Iloilo is ascending in terms of development and economic gains. It has made its name in economic promontory as one of the most promising sites in the Philippines; investment keeps rolling in and available spaces are procured for real estate developments and business infrastructures. The laggard years are gone, and Iloilo has made a drastic change beginning with the election of technocrats and officials that can stand in the side of development than just pure politicking.
If you could look back at Iloilo ten years ago, a myriad of change has taken place – with the establishment of malls and business centers; the transfer of business locales from the old Calle Real to the spacious and trendy site of Benigno Aquino Drive (Diversion Road as it is commonly called now) in Manduriao; the market driven entrance of BPOs and call centers, Iloilo is once again on the track to prove itself of the potential which was once hailed as Queen City of the South before Cebu held that label. The imminent presence of competitive universities coupled with the rising demand of man power has symbiotically made a great impact in economic thrust. This might be the reason why Iloilo is the fragrance of investment in Central Philippines.
Major public infrastructures started to move up in Iloilo. One of the grandiose projects is the bridging of Panay Island via Guimaras and Negros which is estimated to cost billions from the government treasury. As part of the National Plan for Economic Corridor, the bridging of these islands will bring more investment in La Muy Leal Noble Ciudad de Iloilo. The project is speculated to commence in Leganes, Iloilo, crossing Taminla, Guimaras and from Cabano, Guimaras, the bridge is engineered to cross Pulupandan, Negros.
However, the development in Iloilo was not wrought as easy as ABC. Political parties along with undying activism of the Catholic Church, created a block to hinder some of the projects. Had it not been for the persistence of the local executives, Iloilo would remain as wretched as a decade past.
Indeed, so much has changed and it is not just about the geo-physical transformation but the behavioral and mental transmutation of the people as well.
Life in Iloilo is very different now, although development is inevitable, it nevertheless has a cost to pay. Some clamor has dominated the limelight saying that they rarely see people chatting down the road, holding hands and enjoying the time with each other anymore. Iznart Street along with the plazas has once been known for serving as a socializing place for the people – that might have been the reason why Iloilo was known as “The City of Love.” But it’s all gone now. The dawning of skycrapers and global trending has brought this gradual change among Ilonggos. I am not anti-progress as to say, but a pro-progress as much as somebody yearns for it. Only those who look at the progress of time can see the drama of life and maybe I am one of them because I feel nostalgic of whatever beauty of the past that has remained in the memory of only a few. The bridging of archipelagos may bring structural and economic development in Iloilo, but I am afraid it will curtail the long sublimeness of Ilonggo behavior. We have to adapt… that’s the bitter part of it. Nevertheless, no one can hide the excitement with where Iloilo is heading and what it is going to be – The Next Big Thing.
Last night, the rain was heavy and I had to find a roof after I stepped out of the jeepney. Barotac Nuevo was tranquil when I managed to find my pasilungan in a small carenderia along the main road. It was not usual for the town to be so quiet especially with the premature closing of raucous videoke-bars at 9. There was something eerie about the place because there were no tricycles parked on the sidewalks waiting for the passengers to transport them to their barangay destinations. Tricycle used to swarm the streets but not this time. The rain owned the road, claiming its rightful place in the town; even the drive to earn was defeated by the heavy pouring of the sky.
I prayed the rain would stop and the almighty sky to take pity on the people stranded, itching enough to hurry home, to cuddle their children or to indulge in another natural copulation with their other halves. The office girls were cursing the weather because their stockings were dripping when they paced the floor. I glanced at the other side and saw Julius my elementary friend who was sullen in waiting for the rain to cease. I walked towards him and asked how he was doing. He had a tricycle park a couple of blocks away and would have been fortunate to take all those people to their homes because it would mean a lot more earning for the night. However, he was not happy to tell me how his uncle, a trisikad driver was hit by a van the other day and was left wounded in the road. He was confined in the local hospital without anything else but a strong faith to get well. He told me about this because he cared a lot for him and that he needed to do something.
The rain continued to pour in the same amount of precipitation. We continued talking until we reached the point of reminiscing the old days. I knew he was hurt by the incident because nobody had seen the van, and the mishap, and the van could not be traced. But as a friend, I ought to understand his sorrows and had to sway the conversation to more cheerful elementary memories where we spent half of the day under the sun playing pitiw and tumba–patis or pulis-makawat. I did this to thwart the emotion and bring about transition from his melancholic situation.
Those were simple joys because we did not think much of our lives; that was how we behaved due to our young minds, but it changes along the ripening of time. We were not even attending to comply with our assignments for we were always in a hurry to go home and play with the children in our neighborhood – some of them never went to school and spent most of their times in the field helping their parents to get through poverty. We were poor ourselves but my mother has persevered much to send us to school even if it cost her, her own life; and that what made us very fortunate among other children. She understood well enough the value of education as a social ladder even though she didn’t have formal education herself. But those were the days. We have grown into different entities now and Julius, I know, has grown to be much matured, full of religious hope for his life.
Unlike my other classmates, Uyok (that’s what everybody calls him) did not get married. Belonging to a very poor family of 7, he could hardly think of anything but to earn and make his way to college. Fortunately he finished his college with the drive of salvaging his family from poverty. He did this because he dreamt and his dream paved way but only to the extent of finishing his college. And he realized he could not shake off the poverty for the moment; so he rented his uncle’s motorcycle just to earn something while waiting for chance to get hold of him.
He was an education graduate in a local community college here in Barotac Nuevo and he hoped to get the board in the next slated date. He was bereft of any luxury and had to borrow money from his aunt to finance himself. He just wished to get this done and I could sense that the dream of passing the board lurked behind his hopes. This I saluted him for, because I had never seen a man as dedicated as he was.
Listening to him brought certain remorse in my heart because I had to do something, at least to help in encouragement. But miserable as any other person who gropes for success in life, I could offer him nothing. In the society that is full of materialistic demands, I could not help but cope; and in my quest to fulfill this desire, I shrank back in frustration because it required too much determination and capital to clamber the sybaritic market. This I loathed, because as philosophy graduate, I could not land a suitable job. I couldn’t even pursue my dream of going to law school because I only earn enough to feed my stomach’s wants and not to finance the academic honor I desire. I love my degree, but I have to empty my cranium of what I knew in order to go down to the level of society just to suit the qualification of the technical world. It pinged my heart with such demeaning realization and I just condescended with apology to Uyok because I couldn’t help him in any specific way.
I told him how life has changed from simple to worst, that our generation suffered the brunt of excessive oppression by the current system which has been eating up our dreams. I didn’t like to bring up this topic to some extent of blaming the system, and the government, the society for all I know I have indirectly benefited from these somehow. But knowing that somebody’s life is caught between the crossroad of ultimate need and a romantic hope for himself, I could not help but to mention these things. I was glad he understood like the way he did way back when he ranked 2nd to me in class. I wonder what my life would be in ten years and if I ever continue wandering this impoverish state. I knew it was all about choice and it is only through a choice that we can carve our future. However, being in a very poor state, your choice is being limited and you sometimes behave with the “what must and what must not” standard.
I fell short with words to go on talking and he rescued me by saying that he would never stop dreaming – as if hope is the only gore to keep him speeding. That was the best thing I heard from him: to never stop hoping. I too, shouldn’t stop hoping because there is more that awaits tomorrow. I know deep inside, despite his struggles, he will succeed in his life. I pray for that.
The rain stopped at 10 pm, and we rushed to his motor cycle. I gave him 50 pesos for fare but he was reluctant to receive it until I insisted. It was never enough, I knew but I hope that our conversation will shed some initiative from him to move on and to dream big and live that dream.
I walked the dark alley towards home and wondering how much I learned from him because he talked not with theories and ideologies – which I sometimes despised being so bloated and airy – but with the simplicity of experiential language. I don’t know when I will ever see him again; maybe tomorrow, or maybe in the next ten years. I only hope that with this misery that shrouded our lives, we will one day find a knife to cut these twigs and experience the euphoric success.
The rain had surely swept the people out of the town main street, but it somehow providentially arranged a meeting with my long time friend. Despite the tragic sense that he embedded in my mind, I never could have been happier that day as I scribbled my thoughts in my journal…and it started ….Once there was Uyok …there was the rain… there was the dream of hope…
I have never been more apprehensive about anything in my life than finding courage to write something for blogs. I already have a lot of compositions but I guess that would seem mediocre compared to the rest who write with fashion and unique artistry that either influences or becomes the germ for change. There is what you call a strict line between sacred and profane, or a master and a neophyte – and I believe I belong to the latter. The obvious difference of an amateur and the prolific is the mastery of language (english) and maneuvering it to portray out their minds. However, the sole consolation I get through writing is the fact that I would be sharing my mind no matter how profane or how shallow my ideas are (hell with the skeptics, we all have to have a share of them anyway) and regardless of this, each has each own role to fill up, because even the mundane has something to say about the world.
Last night, I was reading an essay on Fiction and National Identity by Francisco Sionil Jose-the Filipino bid for Nobel Prize laureate – and it prides me to know someone who can write prolifically about the culture of the Filipino from the ground up rather than being engrossed with politics and the popular trends within the confine of self vanity. Reading his works, gives me sense of obligation that each has a role to write – not of the distant land but the very basic which constitutes our own being. Although we have been alienated by the growing culture of west, and that we use their language (English in particular), we can never exempt ourselves from the ground that nursed us till we get conscious of the complexities of life. A proper account of our lives must be etched for perpetuity of our Filipino ways since there is a shift of literary scheme from oral to visual as Nick Joaquin put it. Yet, some among us despised our land, our own color, even our own race, to arrogantly believe that there is something far better in other grounds . and we started to write about Tolkien or Rowling rather than about Deriada, Arguilla, Javellana and even to the point of forgetting Rizal; that is because we always see west as a fairyland and fantasize more about it. We think that economic security abroad means good culture because it promises us grands that we could send back home. This is an ominous misconception; this is what we call dreaming the mundane because if one may contemplate on the exact end of man, one may conceive that men may act differently in various shades of skin, but we have the same color of blood and we all think alike; we are all human beings. The only sheer difference that divides us are the boundaries within the multi-colored world we live in.
We in the east have a bizarre culture where there is harmony between spirit and flesh as opposed to the western speculation that reason dominates the physical; we can never evade this culture. Since the growing impact of the western trend is obviously undeniable, hence must be understood in proper illumination .
When I was in college, a professor of mine told us that the dominant culture is dubious enough to seep into the human psyche and lure people into uniformity. If we try to break down the word, we will have two root words – uni and form. Uni always mean one while form means idea or perception. In coining the word, we buy the notion of “one idea” or simply to become one in style-and this is what this system is doing right now particularly the idea of globalization and, speculatively, the subtle influence of the English language. Actually, there is nothing wrong neither with globalization nor the use of the English language as long as we know where to draw the line, and audaciously stand on our culture. But if we succumbed to the ideologues that work behind it, to the point of being homogeneous with them, the future of preserving our own will be reduced to mere oblivion. If this happens, whose gain will it be?
We are created uniquely, with culture and ways of our own, and this is the only distinctive subject that divides us. If we lose it, where do you think the Filipino would credibly stand for?
The universality of man is not meant to divide but to unite, but sad to say that individualistic philosophy of western paradigm has created a trend that entices (inventing a need) the taste of our generation-the Generation-X that puts up feud rather than unity and respect fro diversity. Because of this influence, we forget where we are and what we are because of this influence. We may be good in English, but we can never be American or British. That is the fact. However, being good in English doesn’t mean we are no longer Filipinos.
English language has become an integral part of our culture to the brink of owning it as our third language. Admit it to say, from the moment we began to develop an acoustic ability in our early days, English language was already there walking along until we took the first step in our classrooms; it has become the main medium of instruction in all levels. So who said that English is not our own? It is ours; we have come to embrace it. Thus, there is nothing wrong to put the context of the English language and use it to make our own culture understood better. Nobody after all owns the English language in Asia better than the Filipinos and I stand to that claim. Some said that the proper way to explain Filipino is to use Filipino. What is wrong in using English anyway? Why not? As long as we stand to be Filipino, using English is absolutely fine. Our tongue may take different forms in the changes of time and the drive to assert the place of our race in the globe, but we can never lift our feet from the ground where we have bloomed; just change your tongue but keep your feet still.
There are various spectacles on how to address the multitude of language as propaganda or the herald of cultural influence, but I will not dwell with this further more because I am just highlighting the core of being what and being where- the being and theplace to be of Filipinos. And with regards to lEnglish anguage, what is important is that we gear it to discover our very selves and the place that nurtured us. As what Gandhi said , he would welcome the four winds of the earth in his house but that he would see to it that his house is not blown down by any of them. Even Rizal understood this, and by far history , has used Spanish to portray the lives of the Filipinos- a species existing in the orient world that the western world and even America has been once nescient of.
Summing up all accounts, I commend that F. Sionil Jose deserves to be read by every Filipino for he has shown better the use of language either in English or not; and he firmly stands on his culture and on being a Filipino, despite being a polyglot by nature.
P.S. For thorough details read F. Sionil Jose, In Search of the Word: Selected Essays, De La Salle University Press, 1998.