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Archive for June, 2009

Dreams

June 30, 2009 71 comments

Lost-in-DreamsLet the story proceed when the reader is hooked by its content, otherwise it would be a trite shamble of lines where one has to pick the best and muster the rest in a tedious way to decipher the idea of an author. So with all human affairs where platforms are laid for implementation once they gain approval from the beneficiaries. What about you? Aren’t you too deserved to continue once you woo the mind and buoy the heart of man so desperate to cross a different reality? But why are you elusive – too elusive even compared to human behavior? With how you feast on the futile mind of men, so others are foolish to easily believe in different realities molded by you. You are a selfish god that feeds the soul with flavors yet fails to quench its thirst; you are tricky devil that flaunts in men with so much delight; you are like a burner that singes the stove and suddenly gets bored and puts off your heat leaving the spices on top of you uncooked. Woe to you great magician who plays the mind with follies and keeps it form there with illusions!

Such a powerful dictator you have become. When ideas are slaves of the mind, you sneak like a burglar, so mischievous to leave a trace and escape like a bullet while paining other beings on your way out. Yet all of these happen in the same mind where the seat of ideas is controlled by human will. Are you really there or not? But even if you are there, you remain an enigma laughing on your tasks of creating characters in human sleep. If ideas are structured by the mind, you, on the other hand, work independently apart from it the way parasites feed on their host yet maintain a different identity of their own. But despite that, I exalt you for you alone are the biggest story maker, the best scene director, the most wicked script writer, and the admirable bohemian producer of all. Only you have the power to dominate the subconscious state – either to inspire and or lead it to its doom and insanity. You are a wicked genius. Has your intelligence prompted your creativity to toy my mind, let it be in exchange of a favor: do not leave me too soon.  Please, I just hate it when you do that because you will take a different form when you come back; and just for this moment, do not shut me out again. Not in the bookstore where between the piles of books, I see my heart’s desire: the beauty that has taunted me for years. And as I see her walking towards me, I beg you not to leave as darkness says goodbye at day-break.  Not in the bookstore where a blue floral skirt sways gracefully to capture my heart. After all, this is your creation…and I wish you continue it beyond the end of June.

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Reading and Poverty: A Re-post

June 25, 2009 9 comments

SalvaRobertoBy Roberto S. Salva

I began to read prodigiously when I was around 17 years old. I was trying to make it on my own in the big city and found myself diving into abject poverty. If one of the priest-speechwriters of Jaime Cardinal Sin had not hired me as his research assistant, I would have been a janitor.

I applied as a janitor. I already had a plan. I would mop floors and clean rooms, and at the end of the day, I would come home, turn my lamp on and read. I could not have wished for a more comfortable arrangement.

I did research, instead, and read for work until late in the evening. But I still found time to come home and read for myself.

I had not probed into the reasons why I read and why reading seemed to iron out all the wrinkles at the end of my everyday life then. It is only now that I am able to ponder on reading after seeing the results of the Reading Surveys done by the Social Weather Stations in early 2003 and late 2007.

According to the surveys, around 91 percent of Filipinos in 2003 and 85 percent in 2007 read non-school books to gain knowledge and more information. As a statistician, I feel that something is amiss in the crafting of that category. Or, many of the readers may not have captured perfectly the reason why they read. (The next consistent reason given is “enjoyment.”)

It is hard to nail down the one reason why we read, much like falling in love. If we do give reasons, they do not give justice at all to the act. Yet, we continue to read, just as we continue to love.

The reasons given also seem inconsistent with the books read by most. The list is topped by the Bible (67 percent in 2007), followed by romance or love novels (33 percent), cookbooks (28 percent), comic books (26 percent), and religious or inspirational books (20 percent).

Except for cookbooks, the books on the list are not the best books to read if we want to gain knowledge or more information. We do attain certain knowledge and get information from these books but if we are reading toward these ends, we are being inefficient. Enjoyment as the primary objective for reading would have made more sense, given that list.

But it would have been awkward for the survey respondents to give more emphasis on “enjoyment” rather than the more ideal reason of gaining knowledge as the reason for reading. We are a predominantly Catholic country after all, and we abhor any trace of pleasure in our bones.

Given also our education and our country’s poverty, reading for pleasure seems to be an impractical reason. And this is not the time to be impractical.

readerPerhaps reading is really not practical, especially if we are living in poverty. When I was 17 and poor, I did not read for some pragmatic results that reading would have in my life. But with my every reading, I was able to struggle with the imagination, rationality and ideas of Dickens, Chesterton, Camus, Kafka, Buber, Augustine, Marcel, Levinas, Chaim Potok, Fr. Roque J. Ferriols—some of the authors on my reading list then. (And yes, I am bragging a little.)

I found compassion and camaraderie in these authors. My own imagination and my own ideas surfaced and they were strengthened by being rubbed against their works. I had no illusions whatsoever that I was in their league. (But that is another one good thing about reading books: we rub elbows with the authors, even the big ones.)

Reading made me acknowledge the existence of my own imagination, my own ideas, and my own visions. My own mind. These were strengthened with every reading.

If you are poor and marginalized, you need to have your own mind for important discourses are taking place with every step you take toward development—every single step.

Being poor and marginalized—as I have observed in myself, in the urban poor I worked with before and among the people I am working with now—is like being stuck as a teenager. You do not seem to have control over your life. You don’t have your own money. Nobody seems to understand you. You hear a lot of voices telling you that you do not belong, how you should be, how you should live your life, how far you can go and what your limits are. The loudest voices come from within.

It is easy to be defeated by these voices when you do not have your own mind. It is easy to accept that you are poor because you are supposed to be lazy. You are a criminal because you live in the squatters’ area. You deserve to be ridiculed and treated badly because you are deaf or poor. You do not have to go to college because higher education is only for those who are “normal.” You do not have a future because you were born to a hopeless situation. You do not read because reading is only for the educated and the well-placed.

Most of the development initiatives do not touch upon the discourses going on in the mind of the poor and the sidelined. There may be livelihood projects, but do you know that many urban poor are paralyzed when they are asked to fill up a bio-data form or to take a personality test? Gawad Kalinga may build you a house, the microfinance institute may give you access to credit, and your community organization may give you a voice, but what happens when you have your house, money or voice?

Read.

[From the Philippine Daily Inquirer]

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P.S. 1. In regard to learning, poverty is seen as the tallest bulwark to conquer. But hey, this boy proved that wrong by falling in love with books.  You know, it always saddens me to realize that we have a novelist as a national hero and yet we lack the love for books – books that are piling in the libraries that mingle with the dust of disinterest.  If books could  walk and speak, surely they’ll come knocking at our doorstep and urge us to make use of them. Alas, that will never happen.

2. My special thanks again to Mira for sharing this. Still, nobody beats her better with books. Should you like to take a peek, here’s a link to her blog : ஐ Les Fleurs d’un Livre ஐ.

Looking Back to the Ground

June 12, 2009 10 comments

PILIPINAS_by_luigi09 I watched the celebration of 111th Independence Day Celebration at Koronadal, South Cotabato at the local channel this morning. It was unusual for GMA to hold such celebrations outside Luzon when all memories lurk around the 8 provinces that fought the Spaniards during the 1896 Revolution. Though quite peculiar, I found the celebration very significant since independence is ought to be celebrated all throughout the country; not to mention, of course, the job packages that GMA had given the people of Koronadal.

Perhaps a lot of bloggers have posted the same topic over the net and my entry might seem a mere replica, if not, an elaboration of other posts. But I swear I haven’t read any of those yet and the thing that most intrigued me about our Independence Day may either be accepted or refuted. It is of the reader’s opinion which side he decides to camp with.

Does June 12 serve as authentic date of our independence? You may have encountered this query as often as the debate between Rizal and Bonifacio during college days; there is always the dispute between the June 12 and July 4 as to which should be the prime date to mark. Even the Philippine Historical Institute had found this very compromising and left the case to the national government to declare which date should be marked as the national holiday, and after a thorough consultation with historians and experts, June 12 was formally declared. And as far as my memory doesn’t betray me,  it was President Diosdado Macapagal (father of the current President) signed Republic Act No. 4166 into law, returning the Independence Day observance to June 12.Pilipinas kong mahal

The declaration was all based on one premise: June 12 was fought by Filipinos while July 4 was granted by Amboys. But we all know that the Aguinaldo’s declared republic in Kawit, Cavite didn’t last long when Americans took over our country. In fact, his government was never recognized outside the revolutionaries’ domain. One irony about it is the existence of a prior government that even Aguinaldo himself knew, and that could not be other than that of Bonifacio’s.

Andres (the Great Plebian), who existed in the other pact of KKK, had founded a government which he called “Katagalogan” far before Aguinaldo declared his own. Sad to say, only few know about this. I guess that Aguinaldo’s declaration became popular because of no complex reason except that the historians who wrote the first account of revolution were all Aguinaldo’s men. If ever there were independent chroniclers, they were too lazy to excavate the whole truth regarding the plight of the revolutionaries. So which is which? Should we not also consider the declaration of Bonifacio valid? If yes, then should we also consider Bonifacio as our 1st president?

Then came the Amboys. After the WW II, our country was finally given independence to start with the Philippine Second Republic which was eventually headed by Manuel Roxas. Unlike the 1st Republic, it wasn’t curtailed by colonization and this was the time Filipinos drafted a new constitution, though tinged with an American prototype. Although this was just granted and not fought for, it gave rise to what we have right now and that somehow shaped us as a country. I am not against June 12 so to say, but rather how it is implemented and how history should be “re-written” to make everybody critically understand about our past. Only then shall we redefine what constitute us as a nation with a profound past to start with. And lastly, if this conjecture is accepted, wouldn’t July 4 (Filipino-American Friendship Day) deserve to be marked red in our calendars too?

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P.S. If Bonifacio’s presidency is accepted, then GMA is our 15th president. And if July 4 is marked as our Independence Day, then GMA falls as our 10th president.

The Unseen Geniuses

June 10, 2009 18 comments

unseen genius

1. The Scavengers: Nobody knows how to make a living out of human waste more adeptly. Why shouldn’t we learn solid waste management by simply watching them?

2. The Children: Nobody in this world posts such unsolvable questions than children. Why shouldn’t we learn to be inquisitive from these little angels?

3. The Aetas: Nobody knows the importance of walking to conserve energy and reduce carbon emission better. Why should not we appreciate the beauty of walking  to  save our pockets and our natural resources from running dry?

4. The Insane: Nobody knows freedom in a more advantageous way. They are even  more cultivated than Sartre in knowing what freedom is. Why shouldn’t we learn that joy can be found even in the most trivial things?

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P.S. Are not they part of this beautiful world, too?

Memory of May: The Case of Mary

June 8, 2009 20 comments

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It has been an annual tradition in the Parish of St. Antonio de Padua to celebrate Santa Cruzan and the culmination of Flores de Mayo on May 31. This was the time when the streets were lined by beautiful floral canopies to beautify the yearly procession for the Lady of Flowers. Reyna Helena (some calls her Elena) led the procession along with pretty muses and adorable tykes that acted as little angels in the jam packed street of Barotac Nuevo. Despite the drizzle and the strong wind that occasionally blew the skirts of these charming ladies, the procession proceeded with solemnity. And as parcaticed, people obligingly gathered around to either take a glimpse of the passing beautiful ladies or say their intercessions to the Blessed Virgin. This religious activity was very relevant to the faithful especially the devotees of various Marian organizations. This was the time when Mary was adorned and venerated by Barotacnons. Yet, regardless how this created impact to the followers, the question of faith was always present. This was one of the particular times when our belief for Blessed Mother was most vulnerable to various attacks from other denominations.  And yes, this was also the time that being catholic, you were confronted to defend your faith much more the practices that supported it.

I chose to take shelter in a small carinderia instead of following the pacts of faithful. I was taken aback when a lady sitting near the window spat outside and uttered a ribald remark on certain catholic practices. I faced to look at her furiously but calmed down instantly as I was taught to respect other beliefs. Yet her cursing grew violent making her remarks very annoying. I confronted the lady amiably and asked what was wrong with this practice. The lady mockingly replied that it was such a blunder to believe in the “virginity of Mary.”  She challenged me to explain, with biblical text supports as assumed, the virginity of Mary. Honestly, I am not adept in Bible as our brothers and sisters of different faith are very particular to. What I am after is the meaning of the scriptures that have impact in my life.  So I ignored her for the last time and focused back to the fading procession.

All the while, I was sure that Catholics were not crazy to come up with such dogma regarding Mary as Virgin. It was after all about honoring the Mother of God. Will Jesus get angry if we love His mother?  Or will He feel jealous when we venerate His mother? I guess not. If you ponder on how a human father wants a best house or even a best job for his son how much more our Father in Heaven wants His only Son to be reared by the purest of human race. I guess doubting Blessed Virgin Mary is like believing that Jesus married Magdalene. But whoever was right, the respect to one’s faith stood as the most important thing. Hence, I chose to remain silent.

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P. S. 1. I am aware that some of our brothers and sisters really hate Mama Mary to the point of smashing and breaking her innocuous images and statues. I am just curious what would Jesus feel to see His mother being ridiculed and humiliated all for the sake of one’s belief.

2. I believe that faith is private. It means that something might have meaning to me but might appear completely ridiculous to you. The best way to settle it is to have respect for the variety of faiths. And if there is way of correcting the mistakes, it should be done by peaceful confrontation.

On Creativity and Education

June 4, 2009 16 comments

School days have finally commenced. Students and teachers are once again lining up the gates and swarming like ants to catch the 7:30 flag ceremony. I could draw from their faces the excitement for another school-year adventure and the longing for further learning among the few. Others were pouting because the comfortable summer vacation is over and the teacher looked threatened for their comfort zones may be wrecked once again by the opening of classes. The contrast – which I find very amusing – is very apparent in their faces but the question of “education” which revolves around the teacher-student affinity seemed like a ghost hanging around intangibly. Do they really think of “education” upon stepping on the school premises? Do students and teachers alike think of essential education apart from the daily ordeal in school? Or do they simply want to go to school because education is a pre-requisite to a better future? And are teachers really chaste in their vocation to provide quality instructions as mandated by decree, or are they merely after a stable salary that the government is giving them without minding the thirsty souls of children that confront them five days a week? I really don’t know the answer. All I know is both student and teacher have the responsibility to make education a way of life and not just a ladder for achievement. Yet the heavier part lies much on the mentors whose purpose is to establish concrete learning among young minds and to orchestrate the students to understand the importance of education. As of now, let’s hope for the better days when we can answer these questions with certainty and conviction.

The other day, my officemate was complaining that her daughter was enrolled back to the regular class after a couple years in the special science program of Leon Elementary School. I didn’t give much attention to that. What really shocked me was when she mentioned the effacement of special science classes on all public schools. I really don’t know the reason why DepEd would eradicate such useful programs among public institutions now that it’s started to pick up some fruitful academic results and provided a huge progress on the demarcation of Philippine education. If ever there is a flaw in the current program, total effacement is not the answer but a simple modification on some of the basic management. But whatever their reason I hope that they have a better alternative that would not end up as another white elephant. Again let’s hope for the better.

This morning one of my most beloved brilliant bloggers, Meewa, shared a very brilliant video clip from Youtube. It speaks of education and creativity which I really find very educational and hilarious. Since knowledge is meant to be shared, I posted this video for interested pals. Since it took us more than a decade to finish proper schooling, we should be able to spare a moment for a 20-minute video clip on education and creativity. I promise you will love it.  Please bear with the British accent though.

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P. S. 1. Mir, thanks for this educational and entertaining lecture. Had he been my professor, I would have turned out to be a lecturer too. Hahaha! We’re free to dream, di ba? I think my little super kulit tots, S____ Paz and Christian, will be home schooled too. I also wish them to be part of TED too.

2. Another admired brilliant blogger, Gabi, posted this question: “What does it mean to be educated?” I finally picked an answer: It means creatively imparting your education to others.

Categories: arts, education