Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What I Can Offer the World

I’ve danced, I’ve cheer-danced.
I’ve written. I’ve published.
I’ve played. I’ve competed.
I’ve argued. I’ve debated.

I’ve contended. I’ve won.

Yes, I find meaning in the things I do. But I never felt I was doing so much for myself and for the world until I started to teach.

It began in 2003, when it was summer and I had nothing to do. School vacation in Cebu was relatively warm and boring (unless you have a boyfriend who is hot and lives next door). I scoured for stuff to do to at least upgrade my so-called social life.

There is this we call “Flores de Mayo”, a May affair in the Philippines which refers to a Catholic catechism and a patterned prayer to be done every single day of May. It is called such because the highlight of every meeting is the offering of flowers to the Virgin Mary. I figured that catechism was pretty easy to teach so I signed up to become a volunteer teacher. Fortunately, I got accepted and everybody welcomed me with million watt smiles.

It included a pinch of sacrifice, since I’d have to give up siesta everyday. But it was rewarding. You see, even before I enter the chapel, when the kids see me coming, they’d wave with the flowers in their hand and call my name as if we’d never seen each other for years. I often blush at such implicit flattery…but I never felt closer to God.

I learned to touch God in the lives of those kids. Some were secretly diabetic, some were verbally abused…and some were just hungry for companionship. They hug me and call me “ate” as if I’m their own. They invite me to dinner with their family. Sometimes, my work even extends as far as being their nanny when they play in the court (near the chapel).

Since then, teaching has become a part of me. And I’ve cherished the aforementioned angst of nostalgia just yesterday, when I got accepted at ISETS(I Speak English Tutorial Services).

Basically, what I do in ISETS is tutor Korean students English online. At first I thought it would be hard. I never had experience in formal teaching. I had five trial classes yesterday. Yes, five in a row, with only five minutes break after each class. Students were pretty good. I’ve learned that constant giving of compliments always will motivate them to do better. I guess the major difference between classroom teaching and one-on-one tutorials is that the student-teacher relationship of the latter is more intimate.

English has lately been part of the Korean curriculum so they have to take “extra effort” in learning the language. And so, being an “extra ingredient”, I have to make my student relate more to our lessons so they would stick to his/her mind firmer than what is taught in the classroom. I share some Filipino experiences. I make them share relevant Korean ones too. I pay close attention to what they say. I ask how their friends are. I ask how his/her health is. I love it. We’re just like peers. I’ve realized that what I teach will always be a part of them. I, too, am a part of them. So I strive to be a significant one.

I might never know how much difference I can give to the world. I might never know how many more lives I’d be given the chance to touch. All I know is that I can’t hide this certain pride that I feel every time my students feel thankful to learn something good from me…especially when their eyes shine like pristine candles by the chapel door.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Why Bitches Exist

There are just some people who would go through every tunnel just to spite you. Oh, you know them. They’re the kind that would ask you so many questions just so they could argue with something you said which screamed “Wrong!” in their ears. The kind that would introduce you to their friends so they could all make be mean to you.
They’re the kind that would cry upon your wounded toes just so they could get salt on your wound.

It’s not easy to spot these kinds of people though. Oftentimes they take the guise of a caring friend. She’ll give you pieces of advice you don’t even need and make you think that you need them. She’s one of the world’s best liars. She is constantly curious about what’s been happening in your life. You think she cares, but all she really thinks about was how to make your life more miserable. But you can’t provide a reason why, so you tell yourself it’s nothing. That she really has no reason to be mean to you. You shun the idea and wonder.

Envy---a toxic word. You aced the Calculus exam and got a Chad Murray-clone for a boyfriend and her eyes are austerely green. Obviously, in her own shallow world, you are on top. So instead of minding her own business and try to reach your level, she finds a heaven-sent alternative: to bring you down. She’ll say things that’d make you doubt your boyfriend’s honesty and she’ll constantly emphasize your flaws so you would feel bad about yourself.

Sometimes though, she’s just got nothin’ to do. She just wants to feel better about her bitter self. She wants to show you she’s smarter and prettier and richer and whatever-er. THIS is the time that she’d appear dumb.

Truth is, after you realize what’s been happening, there are numerous times that you’d wanna rebut her with---of course--- the truth. But you take a minute-look and you find out that she’s not really annoying, she’s just…PITIFUL. And you can’t bring yourself to stoop to her level because she’s PITIFUL. You begin to understand the things she does because you PITY her. You’ll realize then that there are better things to do than worry about the negativity she sprinkles on you.

Come tomorrow, she’ll grow paranoid wondering why you are not doing anything.

And she grows furious.

But there you are, pretty heroine. Smiling. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

You and Me. The Rose.


Some say love it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
And you it's only seed

It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong

Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed
That with the sun's love
In the spring
Becomes the rose

Beneath us is a rose. A love so precious, so hidden, so sacred.

Everybody has the capacity to love. Love is an innate gift from above.
When we learn to care so deeply about a person, we tend to ask ourselves:
where does all this love come from? And so we reach to a realization that
this love must come from something supreme, something beyond ourselves.
When we love, we invoke the "thing" that is beyond our human selves.
This is precisely why when we love, we feel no limits. We are greater
than the usual self we know. Sometimes, we don't even know ourselves
anymore. Or the extent that we can be our selves.

When it dawns upon us that it probably took us a long time to realize
that we actually love, even if it is innate, it only shows that there
has been no impetus for us to do so. When a 'significant other' arrives,
it awakens the budding rose within us. Is it our prerogative to make the
rose bloom or not? I say that the rose will bloom whether you like it
or not. Because you will become a better person when you love. You become
more human. Man's capacity to love is non-questionable just as faith---the
state of believing in something you cannot prove to be true.

The reason why we interpret love in many different ways is simple---
it arrives to us as a surprise. Things will creep out of our mouth.
Things will contaminate our minds. Things shine in our eyes.
We define it in the context that it arrives to us. That is why we
can connect it even to the most absurd things. From peeing to mucus
to lice to a cake. Love is a mystery.

I guess love can never be thoroughly explained...the same way that
faith will ever be defined. All I know is that when I love, the best
in me comes out.

And so I love. Therefore, I twinkle.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ateneic. You.


You are the one who does not copy during exams. You’re too proud to cheat and too killjoy not to let us cheat. You throw your trash responsibly. You are the one who won’t smoke pot. You are the one who drinks but does not get drunk. You don’t play online games. You love the library. But you spend nights at the club also. You flirt averagely. And I adore your words. It’s just that we really find you weird. You do it cleanly, you know? You smile like you don’t have a 32-unit schedule. Damn you.

We say you’re a big joke, because you said you never cheated---yes, even during homework. We say you have so much pride. It will eat you up someday. You say it’s not just all about pride. It’s about integrity. We insist it’s pride. You look down, shake your head, and smile. Damn you.

I went home immediately that day. I asked Encarta for the meaning of the word “Integrity”. I’ve been seeing a lot of it around school so I’d better know its meaning or feel dumb. Encarta says integrity is a possession of firm principles. Now that definition was predictable. What struck me was the second definition: completeness, wholeness. It means that one can never be complete without integrity.

It is apparent in society that even when integrity is actually subjective, we have a standard for a person whom we call “the one with integrity” or in our dialect, “may integridad” that all of us will meet at some point when judging that person. We say that you have actually passed that standard. Though sometimes we veil you with snickers and sarcasm, a part of us wish to be just like you.

It’s nice to think that you are actually someone we will remember. The one whom we condemned because everybody else is doing “it” while you’re not. I know it’s a form of education in the guise of mocking..but you tell us to always be “Maligdong”. More often than not, you receive different versions of the infamous smirk.

But yes, we still want to be like you. You were great in your own way and you made us think that we, too, can be great. You encouraged us to be honest and neat and punctual(oh yeah). Sometimes we are really too lazy to study or too “cool” to be “righteous” but we realized that it was more than being just righteous, because these things you do, you do it for yourself. Nobody knows the reason, yes, not even you. Still, integrity is the highlight.

And oh, I loved the quote stitched on your bag. It says, “See, in this world, it’s not enough to BE the difference; you too, have to MAKE THE difference.”

-- This is for all Ateneans who gave justice to the Maligdong tag. And for everyone else, who never failed to make a difference. Those who return large amounts of money left in their taxis, those who help the police run after the snatcher, those who lent their pails to help extinguish their ignited neighbor's house, those who teach kids for free and a lot more. These kinds of people are little light bulbs of hope which shed positive light on our country's name.

A toast. For you, for me, for us all.

For integrity.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wowowee, Sinong Nawiwili?

It is amazing how a lot of people would rather line up outside ABS-CBN and wait to be approved as a Wowowee contestant rather than get themselves a decent job.

Sure, it's easy to say that these people are not given chances for proper employment but if we assume that is true, we ask the question: are ALL of these people unemployed? Of course not. In fact, 86% of those who join reality game(of luck) shows have jobs/small businesses but would just go and join Wowowee because it's easy money.

The truth is, reality game shows are being advertised by media as something that works for the good of the masses. They say that these RGS(Reality Game Shows) operate in the pursuit of charity, generosity and bayanihan. Sure, the intention is good---they want to help the less fortunate. But we question, is the process correct?

What I will actually be discussing in this essay is how RGS provide more harm than good. That though it is masked with smiles and upbeat songs, it is actually an agent of social deterioration.

The reason why people join contests in RGS is that they are poor. The reason why they are poor is mainly of lack of self-sufficiency. They can NOT work because there are other means to acquire money. This is the kind of mindset that these RGS paint in Juan's mind that he would prefer lining up for easy money rather than work. The message that it sends to society is that, "It's OK to be poor, you will be provided money anyway". If you ask any media person why the Wowowee stampede happened, it's because this wrong mindset of easy money has contaminated the masses gravely! People now think that game shows are the answers to poverty. This is so not true. The media is not the right proponent to answering poverty. We have social welfare centers that even help housewives acquire livelihood skills necessary for little capitalization. Those livelihood programs teach the people to become self-sufficient. Let's juxtapose it to the Wowowee model, where one is given a sari-sari store showcase/jeepney/tricycle and it ends there. They do not even teach you about proper financial management. The capital is given to the winning Juan one-time. It shuns the idea of a good education for a better future and hard work to get to the top, which is what really happens in the real common world. This model becomes detrimental to the winning Juan because it does not teach him to be self-sufficient and perhaps that is why he is widely known to be lazy.

The next thing that we should always remember is that RGS are capitalist in nature. They continue to be aired in TV because they have sponsors. They earn from these sponsors. The RGS would want more sponsors so they must keep their ratings high. Although they claim that they "help" the poor, how do they give the money? See, before Willie Revillame gives Juan the "honorarium", he makes him cry and talk about his forlorn life in the TV. This is to induce pity among the audience, to ensure their support for a longer time. Again, this is for the pursuit of a higher rating. Another way of money-giving is that they get the funny-looking people from the audience and make them dance/sing in front of the camera. The hosts make sure that these people are really funny looking so that the audience(both in and out the studio) are well-entertained. They get those who have funny teeth, those who are so fat, those who are physically incapacitated, very old, those who talk funny and even the boisterous gay men who like dancing in front of the camera. What these RGS do not even care about is that they actually bring about more discrimination from the people because they kind of pinpoint those who are very vulnerable to discrimination. These discriminated people, on the other hand, are forced to humiliate themselves in public because they will be given money afterwards.

Let us not also forget that the RGS also has these half naked women dancing for "entertainment". A lot of foreigners even throw their money at these half naked women as if they're inside a strip bar. In this sense, the RGS becomes anti-feminist because it commodifies women. People can dance and entertain without having to do it with skimpy clothing! Why does it have to be a requisite? This is also present in Eat Bulaga. And get this, the dancers there have skimpier clothing. Again, people think IT'S OKAY. Why? Because there is money, because it will go to the poor.

At face value, Wowowee is very good. You see the people pitching in money to help other people. You see the helped ones crying for joy and hugging the host. What is another wrong thing is that the helped ones give the host too much credit. They sometimes treat him as if he is God. They support him. They call themselves his "fans". The host, in return, abuses the credit he gets and sometimes uses the show for his self-interest. Yes, I'm talking about Willie defending himself against the case of physical abuse filed by his wife. He uses the show to gain public sympathy. One cannot directly conclude that he is such a righteous man just because he is the non-abstract representation of helping the poor. He is paid to do his job. Zip. Nada.

You are probably one of Wowowee's patronizers. What I'm trying to say is that you open to eyes to what implicit harm it does to society. Then ask yourself, do you want a community that depends on easy money? One that degrades women? One that wears a mask of charity but operates on massive capitalization?

Wake up.

However, if you agree that Willie is not the modern-day prophet, if you hate seeing commodified half naked women, if you continue to study well because there's more to life than Wowowee, and lastly, if you believe reality shows are anything but, then you and I might have coffee sometime.

Friday, March 2, 2007


I cut my hair---for the nth time.

I missed the male look. I missed home. In fact, I missed a lot…especially in Calculus. When I got back to class, I was slapped by the fact that I missed two precious sessions and two seat works. When I asked our substitute teacher(unfortunately, it’s Mr. Callo) if I could salvage my grade via a consultation during activity period, he said he’s too busy and that even if I have an excuse letter from the OSA, there are no excuses in his class. I just wanted a make-up session because, sincerely, I want to pass. Well, needless to say, I still have the right to such consultation periods. Isn’t that part of the tuition fee I paid for even before the classes began???! I mean, if he can’t carry the responsibility that is supposed to be embodied by our supposed teacher, then he mustn’t have accepted the offer in the first place!

*blows hair up*

Haha. I’m just glad the MPDC’s over. The next day after I arrived here I went to the salon had my hair cut, and had my nails painted. I just wanna legitimize my happiness. I want to see something not as abstract as the smiles I keep in my pocket.

The 15th MPDC was such an eye-opener. AdDU did not win the title. No team even got into the finals. AdZU brought home the bacon after beating MSU in the finals. Actually the most practiced team was AdDU B, and the other team ups were almost contingent upon who arrives before round 1 the next day. To Kit and James, I love our team so much! I never thought we would go as far as the semis, given the fact that your last debates were the during the last mpdc pa. J The Business-Humanities-Social Science team-up is purrfect! (We got the other teams purring for mercy! hahaha) Congrats Henry, Ems and Alzo! I hope to see you in the next mpdc! Haha we never met during the rounds prior to the finals…and that’s why you got into the finals! Hehehe! Joke lang!

Whew! I missed home. I missed school too. I have a new addiction. It’s this Mudslide shake sold for P19 at the foodcourt. I consume around two to three of it a day! Hahaha! The chocolate is ethereal. I believe that everytime a serving is made my guardian angel would run away from me, go directly to heaven and beg God to exchange Mana for it! :)

And, by the power vested upon me, I now declare that I am officially dating. :)