Recently, I had the chance to visit UP to meet my friend Miguel. It was then that I was able to breathe the same intellectual ambiance of the campus. I’ve missed everything about it. I even miss the avenue of activism in the campus where students blindly thought that the government was the sole cause of maelstrom of poverty and injustices. Though I never joined any rallies in Iloilo, I was once an active member of the student activist group in Cebu. I used to join my “comrades” march the length of Mango Avenue to Jones Street whenever a big stir happened in congress or if a scam erupted in the national government. It was a good feeling to voice out what we thought was the sentiments of the masses, and the feeling of solidarity was overwhelming that you could no longer distinguish whether your actions were genuine or mere aping. Fr. Bulatao called this a common consciousness stirred by one definite emotion like in the case of EDSA Revolution. It was a nice feeling but I was fooled, I knew. It was only when I left the group that I began to realize the blunders of activism and the maneuvering of the opposition. My friends were eager to hold me back and brainwashed me to look at the brighter side by insisting that we were doing what others are afraid of – to fight for a change. However the opposite happened. Instead of believing them, I started to loathe them, for it was easy to follow one’s principles than live up to them exactly as stated. And when you have not lived up to it, that would only mean hypocrisy; and I just couldn’t take it. Later on, I discovered what I was fighting for was not the plea of the masses but the perpetuation of some ideologues which I dare not mention.
…and back to UP. The government is pouring bigger funds this time for R&D compared to last year’s. This is good news because UP will be one of the recipients of the billions of pesos (pardon me, if I forgot the exact amount). The good thing about this is the potential of the institution to boost academic pressure among the students to delve more in R&D and to set aside the principle of activism for a while. At least, the government will have the reason to curb the growth of foolish belief among students and establish a steadfast cooperation starting from the academe. As you know, when other countries in Asia are scuttling for Science Development, the Philippines still lags in their cause for cultural change and the idea of science as a stratified phase for national development has not been considered seriously but rather regarded as a maudlin fanaticism. Maybe its time that the state university should be careful in selecting students who are willing to commit themselves to national development by studying well and by fostering the importance of research and development as the primary drive for progress. I can say this because I’ve witnessed that many of what we call “iskolar ng bayan” squander the government budget indirectly by cutting and skipping their classes for a shallow reason that passing grade isn’t earned by attendance alone. How many bright students enjoy receiving government subsidy, and instead of returning back what the government has invested for them, they themselves become the forefront of activism and criticize the government for not living up to its promises to alleviate poverty? Are they not part of this huge malfeasance by not attending classes? The government is spending much for them hence they must contribute to what they are supposed to deliver.
Ruminating on this, it is sad that some of these students who made it to UP are themselves the best examples of lousiness. No questions with their intellect, but reaping for investment is another story and we always know that there is always the time of reckoning. The government should think twice of the next batch of “iskolar ng bayan” to come in. It may not be the same, but the label “the breeding ground of activism (communism to the extent)” will linger on.
As the UP centennial celebration will end soon, many things have been discussed including its century academic excellence that prides its students and its faculties. I have no qualms to say that those bright students chose the right institution, but I am not pretty sure if UP has chosen the right students to nourish. Maybe, it will for the next hundred years. I hope.
I read a column on the Star about urging we Filipinos to understand our culture and make use of anything good from it for national development. The point was actually simple: learn where your stance, look at the rest of the world and move out to prove your worth. This has triggered me to post what I had written before in UP. Though this is just an excerpt of the whole article , it nevertheless bears the core content of my idea.
The Filipinos have become a legend the world over. So they say. They are known to be the happiest people in the world; the primary factor being their knack of finding something to be cheerful about in the midst of adversity, crisis, even in suffering. Pop psychology, culled from the various religious schemes from cultures around the world, have often pointed out that happiness is either: an acceptance of one’s present lot, shared in comity with the rest of human kind or the Aristotlean notion of happiness being the perfection of one’s capabilities by its practice and fulfillment. Which of these is the Filipino’s?
Analyzing recent pop icons of Filipino ascent [Manny Pacquiao, Filipino OFW’s, Pinay internet hetairas], it is clear that the cheerfulness that Filipinos have been famous for is intricately connected with roots of extreme poverty. Destitution is the motivation; the dream: a better life somewhere. There are necessary elements for a typical Filipino success story: A penniless childhood, devoted but poor parents working to make ends meet, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity propelled by heroic self sacrifice and fervent prayers to the Divine, leading to sweet happy endings of riches and infamy and becoming a household name that in turn will inspire thousands to reach for the stars. Filipinos have to work harder, one lifetime at a time, to achieve a state of existence that people at the other end of the world have only to work for in two hours stops, only to waste it away on boredom and marital, middle-life crises. But then, the same is true with every third world country. That Filipinos seem to have a good time through is beyond logic. That Filipinos could make jokes as they row through seven-feet high monsoon floods or still be the texting capital of the world despite an oceans-wide gap between the rich and the poor baffle, amaze and annoy most foreigners. What is their secret? they ask. How do Filipinos do it?
When other countries have become so well off that even Chinese toddlers already have laptops and a teenager from Notting Hill, London can buy a cappuccino that costs as much as two days’ wages for an average Filipino worker, why is it that Filipinos can still laugh so heartily as they lose their homes to monsoon floods or even make jokes about their own situations or feel almost nothing at the way their politicians have, time and time again, not only worsened the economic situation of the Philippines but have almost criminally debunked the hopes and dreams of those who have voted them because they precisely promised the opposite, even invoking the power of the Divine? It could not be that Filipinos are stupid: the country has had its fair share of intellectuals and history glitters with the achievements of these admirable men and women who have brought enlightenment and progress to the country. A very priceless commodity in the Philippine market today is manpower: individuals who have been schooled into skills and knowledge necessary to keep the cogs of the national economy from breaking down. It could also not be a political immaturity, for there was a time when the Filipinos, in one glorious exhibition of bravery and unity, brought down a dictator and ushered in a future pregnant with possibilities for a better society. The problem was, and it exists to this very day, nobody ever knew how to make those dreams of prosperity a reality. The country had to open its doors to the outside world and seek its answers there.
With the tsunami of foreign capitalism and its inevitable cultural ramifications, the Filipino barely had a chance to recover its breath, look around, analyze what has just happened, formulate answers derived from his own experiences of what had gone wrong with the system in which he was placed. Nay, the world was simply too fast for him. It could be that the cultural enslavement that has crippled the Filipino from the earliest stages of colonial rule up to now, more than a hundred years after its end, has not yet been overcome. We are enslaved by a poverty of identity. It is a hard reality that many Filipinos have less in life and suffer for it: no amount of policy or law can ever conceal that. It is also true that this has been the situation for hundreds of years, and many more. It is time to break from the prototype of how a Filipino is perceived by the international community.
Yes, they are happy, but it shouldn’t be because they accept their lot on life and suffer cheerfully. It shouldn’t be that the happiness Filipinos are known for should come from the fulfillment they feel from having sacrificed so much working abroad and in God-knows-where-else just to provide a better life for their loved ones. This is not how a Filipino should end up. Precisely, this cultural mechanism is being used to educate future generations of what progress should be, when what they need is a Cultural renaissance where the worth of the Filipino is not in how much he is willing to sacrifice in a foreign shore, but in how he can give so much of himself in his own land, for his own country, within the reach of his loved ones, and within the bosom of his own native home. The State should provide more opportunities for progress by utilizing its own resources, by feeding its own people, by fostering its own opportunities for growth not from foreign gold, but from what the people themselves can give: through a decreased export of manpower, through a better system of managing local assets and turning them into capital for the profit of its own native users. These, in the long run, lay the foundations of basic material stability and constant economic growth needed for a cultural system closer to the experiences and values of Filipino life. These are necessary for the establishment of a Filipino’s sense of being. These are the foundations of a true Filipino identity. By localizing Filipino pride with opportunities for economic prosperity closer to home and more grounded on native comity, the State will pave a way for a stronger, happier nation.
Books here, papers and folders there and crumpled wrappers of candies everywhere. Hoy!
I need to get things in order for my table has remained messy for two days now. My boss, noticing this, since I’m situated as vanguard of the battalion of sloth from my rear, scolded me for having a garbage trash rather than an office table. She stared with her laser beams while murmuring of something ribald but I knew for sure that it wasn’t me per se but the loony look of my slab. If she gets easily catatonic over smidgen of dirt on the floor how much more would she feel toward piles of paper that look like garbage dump on my table? I was sure that when she got back and my table was still on its anti-cosmos state, a middle finger would surely be lifted on my face. I had no choice but to obey or else…well you don’t want to get your boss angry nor you want to draw all suspicion in you, will you? I have one piece of advice then: never imitate me by not keeping your table clean and tidying the little things on top of it because for sure you don’t want to get someone squeamish over your topsy-turvy demeanor especially your boss. Even if you are an artist- who always justifies your being unsystematic with abstraction of brushes and hues of colors-you still must secure things in order and must be scientific in dealing with such. We are placed into this void for a purpose -that is to maintain order and not to reciprocate it. You just can’t let the God of the Old Testament come down and raise that middle finger on you or turn you into a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife in Sodom and Gomorrah by leaving your table cluttered. You know what I mean-but in any case you don’t, just keep your things in order. Simple and clear.
One of the nicest things about keeping my table clean is that I can think straight without external interference. I have to keep this regularly not to impress my boss but to keep myself in good placement to avoid wimping over my assignments. Organized things means systematic mind. Better think of Mr. Einstein- had he become a little more concerned of his table, maybe he already solved the problem of the universe and that there was no need for the establishment of Hadron Collider blah blah …that 90 fold worth of the Iloilo Provincial budget built to qualify the theories of the universe; and the money financed for that project could have been much appreciated if it is allocated for Africa as aid for the victims in Darfur. However, open-mindedly, I also think that chaos- which separates things, put up wars and creating boundaries- is equally necessary to find order but not much as beautiful as with all potential gearing towards actuality of order. Chaos is just a by-product of anti-order choices of man and not a natural phenomenon that falls like rain. I am wondering if all the people in the world have the same regard for order, probably the best possible world that Voltaire is ruminating will finally be given flesh.
When world is created with such, wouldn’t it be proper for us to behave with saliency to order? Perhaps our world will be a better place when all behave in accordance with order. When there is order, there will be:
1. No more traffic signs which means that I wouldn’t get late even if I wake up at 630 in the morning.
2. No more war in Mindanao and the rest of the world and there will be dismissal of media industry simply because “news isn’t news if it isn’t bad”
3. No more crimes and no more proceedings in the court. There will never be lawyers too…grrr.
4. No more black and white or brown and yellow, only the color of the rainbow is noticed
5. No more broken families, but one united humanity
6. No more distinction, only beauty
7. No more religion, only one common concept of God
8. No more pollution for everybody thinks about the world
9. No more corruption because there are better concerns to be addressed
10. No more politics, no more boundaries, no more conflicting systems…because the world is in order.
This is very ideal, I know, as the road to it is strewn with humongous chaos that is very hard to change. I know it’s hard. Everything is hard because even order had become a subject of perversion to fit everybody’s idea -to the point of causing arbitration among people. But isn’t it more hard to keep this chaos working? After all, we could never embrace order unless we try. Let me stress again my piece of advice before this ends: if you want to embrace order, start arranging your table. My boss had a very good point and I shouldn’t ignore it. Better keep going now, my table needs a good make-over.