Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Heroes of Today

When people speak of a hero centuries earlier, chivalry comes to mind. They were known for exemplary traits. The public referred them as people who risked their lives fighting for their nations. These were the ones who braved the scorching heat of the sun, the longing from their families, the hunger, and restlessness as they battled for the greatest cause, which by then was liberty. They were heroes because they died so that the later generations will enjoy what was deprived of them.

Earlier in the past, when we spoke of a hero, many could still recollect the names of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and the courageous couple Diego and Gabriela Silang. Nevertheless, not many of the populace may remember Tandang Sora, Gregorio and Marcelo del Pilar or Galicano Apacible. Perhaps, not many of the Filipinos may know how Pedro Paterno became the peacemaker of revolution or who constituted the 13 martyrs from Cavite, much less understand their cause.

Many decades later and hero has a new face.

When the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos was toppled by EDSA revolution, his successor, the late former president Corazon Aquino was deemed a hero because she was a symbol of a new hope. She was perceived as someone who could bring back the suppressed freedom during martial law.

Nonetheless, a change in regime also entails a change in the face of a Philippine hero.

It was in Aquino’s term when the OFWs were institutionalized as the “new heroes” when their billions of remittances help the ailing Philippine economy afloat.

Such notion was supported by her successor, Fidel Ramos, when he addressed the OFWs as the “new heroes of the Philippines.”

But like the heroes in the past, the heroes of our time are vulnerable to death. Because of media exposure, Flor Contemplacion was probably the first OFW casualty who had been explicitly described as the "modern day hero" as she remained strong until her execution in Singapore.

In Gloria Arroyo’s term, the OFWs being the hero earned a new mileage: “heroes of the new millennium”, referring to millions of Filipinos who left the country to seek for greener pasture, self-growth, and fulfill their destiny, which also equated to more billions of remittances. It was also in her time, when Angelo de la Cruz left for Iraq a poor man, only to come home a hero when he was saved from his captivators.

While these industrious workers are toiling abroad, some local talents excel in their craft. Their excellence in their craft, though, did not contain within the Philippine archipelago. They championed even in the international community in industry such as beauty, sports, music, dance, and film. And each time a Filipino wins a competition abroad, the nation uses the word ‘hero’ to describe such victorious aspirant.

No, nothing is wrong with that, after all, we live in modern times when we no longer fight for our freedom.

In an article entitled “What are heroes for?”, the author, Raj Arumugam says:

By their very achievement, heroes become exemplary, pointing out implicitly to the individual that each can achieve things just as they have done. These heroes point to possibilities:  that one can become what one wishes to be.”

If we apply such statement in our country however, one should not wonder why the names such as Manny Pacquiao, Charice Pempengco, and Shamcey Supsup are the latest additions to the list of modern day heroes, instead of names that would inspire Filipinos to excel in business, engineering, science and technology, innovation, and invention. Filipinos simply find relief and pleasure from entertainment and sports than in academic excellence.

While there is nothing wrong in seeing a hero in the likes of these individuals, there is the danger of inculcating a wrong message in the young minds of today’s generation: that the easiest way to succeed is to be a hero of the modern Philippines.

Such is not impossible as Filipinos are known to worship the heroes, who are in turn encouraged by their own vanity and sense of self-importance as what Raj warned in his article. 

It actually discourages self-fulfillment and sense of originality.

Overall, I have nothing against using the word ‘hero’ to describe someone who continues to bring glory to our nation. My only concern, nonetheless, is how the impact of the said ‘hero’ is treated by his admirers. Does it inspire the person to excel in his chosen field rather than following the path of his hero? Or does the hero remain a hero in other people’s lives?

Sadly, many Filipinos fall in the latter category as they always need a hero. The heroic acts of their heroes cannot compel them to go out of their box and reach their own full potential.

Whether we ascribe to the heroes in the past or the everyday heroes in the street, one thing should be remembered: we learn from them and we become our own heroes. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Manners: Do You Know These?

Every week on a Saturday, I often have a date with my best friend on Skype Messenger for a few hours to exchange news. She works in one of the international MNCs in Dubai, among the beautiful destinations known today for tourists and employment seekers. 

Though a nation of Arabs with Islam as her religion, Dubai employs many of our Filipino graduates, under-graduates, and even the unlettered, whether Christian, Protestants, and fellow Islam adherents.

A clean nation with disciplined inhabitants, the Filipinos however, manage to showcase their lack of manners in Dubai. Apparently, being in a highly-advanced country does not afford these individuals some etiquette, especially if they are in the company of fellow Filipinos.

Defined by the Dictionary as social comportment, Manners are supposedly implied. They are cultivated at home by our parents or elderly. These are the polite standards that constitute our character; our being. It does not take an expensive education to learn how to give deference to the existence of others or to understand the reason why.

For instance, when somebody is still sleeping when you wake up in the morning and do the necessary preparation, reasons dictate that you respect those who are still having their sleep by being discreet in your actions and words. You would not want to wake them up with your loud noise. That—is a specified rule.

Such is not the case among many Filipinos who are more concerned with their own interests like pursuing materialistic goals, often circumventing laws and doing other forms of violations. While these goals certainly improve their economic conditions, wealth and all material possessions cannot buy the owner some manners. These cannot make people humans.

In her book “Philosophy: Who Needs it?”, Ayn Rand advocates that “reason is not merely a distinguishing attribute of man. It is his fundamental attribute; his basic means of survival.”

This means that if man would only use his reasons coupled with philosophy, he can think, act, and live.

The problem with most Filipinos is that they often misuse their reasons in their endeavors. When they do their activity—whatever it is—they do so without regard to others who also own similar rights. Ironically, they dismiss the old axiom that their rights end where the rights of others begin to exist; which only supposes that our rights are never absolute.

Many Filipinos in Dubai rent a bed space for their housing accommodation, despite their high salary. Maybe it’s the expensive rental fee that keeps them from having their own private place. Or perhaps it’s the Filipino culture of wanting to be around fellow Filipinos that they’d rather huddle in a space as small as a room.

Unlike in our country, the rooms in Dubai are further subdivided  to accommodate many, and at the same time, allow each bed spacer some privacy despite being in one room with technically, six or twelve bed spacers (this holds true even in condominiums, apartments, and pads).

A few of my friends in Dubai complain of the noise from fellow Filipino bed spacers especially in the morning when they have to come-and-go out of the room, in the course of preparing to go to the office.

Also, when they engage in conversations with their fellow bed spacers late in the evening or sometimes after midnight, they talk like they own the whole room or like they are having a party. They do not consider that others who are in the same room may already want to have their rest, but cannot do so with their loud noise.

And to think that they all pay the same rental fees.

A similar thing can be said in using the Television, DVD player, and Videoke, which usually starts in the morning of Friday or Saturday [Dubai’s weekend] to late in the evening.

There are also situations where Filipinos talk to someone on their mobile phones with high  volume of voice so that everybody can have knowledge of their conversations.

If you try to confront them about it, they would apologize, yes, but this does not stop them from committing the same act. Others would claim they are just curing their loneliness or the longing for their loved ones back in the Philippines. If you persist with your complaint, they would accuse you of being insensitive, inconsiderate, and incapable of understanding because maybe, you don’t have a family or are never close to them when you were still in the Philippines or wherever.

In another scenario, despite the written reminder posted conspicuously about the house rules, many Filipinos ignore them. These range from maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen, toilet and bathroom, to using the facilities available like TV, Refrigerator, and Stove.

In “What Makes Man Truly Human” book, the author, Michael Morga said that we, humans are only considered to have reached our full humanness—and thus become truly humans—when we became aware of and learn to use our physical potentials, cognitive abilities, and human sensitivity.

Of course, to make ourselves truly humans, we should also develop these traits through many years of learning and training which start at home and continue outside during our interactions with different institutions and sectors in the world; and with fellow human beings. It is during this time when we incorporate philosophy in our lives; a time when we became acquainted with manners.

The attitude of Filipinos described earlier is not exclusive. Nor can it be said that it is the place that makes them forget their manners. In the Philippines, similar stories abound in boarding houses, apartments, dormitories, and in work places, especially, in the BPO industry.

At times, they happen even at our very own houses.

Morga stated, nevertheless, that throughout our lives, not all humans make themselves truly humans as many fail to procure the requirements of becoming one. This means that, some people, including Filipinos never learn to understand the truth about human sensitivity, particularly, in practicing manners.

Photo Credits: 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

P-Noy And The Fable Of The Mermaid And The Drunks

Mermaids, though putative for their enchanting voice and a beauty like no other, are almost always ill-fated in folklores. They are soulless creatures.

The mermaid in Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, Sirenetta, roused by love, traded her voice for a pair of leg to be with the mortal prince in the human world. She must earn the love of her life, lest she will not gain a soul. In the end, her love, unrequited turned her into foam, however.

Such fate was told not of the mermaid in Oscar Wilde’s The Fisherman and His Soul, where it was rather the young fisherman who fell in love with the mermaid and had to lose his soul to join the sea folk’s kingdom underneath the sea.

Though his love was recompensed, the fisherman was forced to abandon his love and the sea kingdom to be with his soul again because of a condition that wasn’t revealed to him until it was violated. In the end, the mermaid died of a broken heart. The fisherman chose to die then and there.

The tragic ending of mermaids in literatures might be because such creatures, though created by imaginative human minds cannot co-exist with mankind, even in an imaginary world.

In Pablo Neruda’s Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks, the mermaid was interpreted in three levels by the greatest minds in our time—man vs. animals, man vs. woman, and man vs. nature. The mermaid portrayed the animal, the woman, and the nature, while men played the drunks. In all three analyses, man is the cause of the beast and mankind’s suffering, including women’s.

During the months that the revolutions are taking down dictators in the Arab world one after another, and followed by three consecutive tragedies that devastated Japan, it dawned on me another analysis of the mermaid.

She was the collective citizens of a state, particularly of the Philippines.

All these fellows were there inside when she entered utterly naked.
They’d been drinking and began to spit at her,
recently come from the river, she understood nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way,
the taunts flowed over her glistening flesh
Obscenities drenched her golden breasts."

I see P-Noy and his government as the drunks who betrayed Filipino citizens when it was declared publicly that his government shall follow a “voluntary repatriation policy” for OFWs in Japan. P-Noy’s regime also crowed that those who cannot afford to buy their own plane tickets to evacuate from radiation-stricken Japan should settle for a flight from C-130 of the Air Force.

While it is not uncommon to use a C-130 aircraft during rescue operations, using it in a situation like this is uncalled for especially when P-Noy had just spent more than P12 million for his trip to Indonesia and Singapore together with 53 crew members, including the salingket Mar Roxas.

P-Noy’s thrift policy is inappropriate. I deem it as boastfulness notwithstanding that he unabashedly offered $14 million assistance to the Japanese Prime Minister, who instantly and wisely declined; and not to mention his increased pork barrel as the president.

If P-Noy could easily issue a huge cash of that amount to someone or to another government, why couldn’t he issue the same for OFWs in Japan who remit $880,000 yearly?

What was it for him with such arrogance? In Pablo Neruda’s fable, the barbaric greetings continue:

"A stranger to tears, she did not weep,
A stranger to clothes, she did not dress.
They pocked her with cigarette ends and with burnt corks
And rolled on the tavern floor in raucous laughter
She did not speak, since speech was unknown to her
Her eyes were the colour of far away love
Her arms were matching topazes
Her lips moved soundlessly in coral light"

In today’s circumstance, the OFWs cannot rely on their government at a time when the latter is expected to make a decision in their favor. Truly, while Senator Franklin Drilon admitted that the available financial resources— which were previously denied by P-Noy when asked by media on how he should respond to the OFW’s equally dangerous situation in Libya—were not enough to shoulder the chartered flights for OFWs in Japan and Libya, not all are willing to go home.

This should lighten the burden of OWWA and aid in ensuring that those who want to come home should be accommodated.

But no, we cannot expect wisdom in P-Noy. He has since been caught always with his rigmarole remarks each time his governance encounters events that could supposedly display his competent leadership. He has every opportunity. Yet, he disappoints each time.

The combined dollar remittances of OFWs in the Middle East and Africa were $3 billion, an anchor that keeps Philippines’ economy lofted.

Because the government cannot provide jobs not only for sustenance, also for self-growth of Filipinos nonetheless, the country is being depleted of talents, thereby, missing development opportunities and slacking further backward.

Worse, the drunks in the government persist intoxicating themselves with the spoils from the mermaids’ toil abroad, with no regard for their welfare. They keep on receiving without the intention of giving.

Neruda’s fable has a melancholic ending.

"And ultimately she left by that door
Hardly had she entered the river than she was cleansed
Gleaming once more like a white stone in the rain
And without a backward look, she swam once more
Swam towards nothingness, swam to her dawn"

History tells of Filipinos who swam to nothingness, which is the destruction, which is the death.

Was it the mermaid’s beauty that maddens the drunks to violate her? Could it be her voice then, which myths said that when heard in a chant, may bewitch men and make them succumb to her every wish that made the drunks to rather abuse her to death?

Photo credits:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?

Having had a very old tale of mankind's creation astutely asserting a woman coming from a man’s rib passed on to many generations until it examines our comprehension ability today, entails two interpretations:

That a woman complements a man. And that a woman is seen as a weaker vessel.

What a woman can do in a man’s life is best described by an American actor and singer, Groucho Marx, when he said:

“Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.”

Stories of men who find their wives complementary to their lives call to mind a classic song of Bryan Adam’s Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman:

“To really love a woman

to understand her

you’ve got to know what’s deep inside

hear every thought see every dream

and give her wings when she wants to fly"

A woman decides not by impulses, but with after careful discernment. In every decision she makes, there are emotions invested. A woman nourishes. A woman nurtures. That’s why her understanding is beyond a man’s.

“You've got to give her some faith

hold her tight

a little tenderness

you’ve gotta treat her right

she will be there for you

taking good care of you”

That’s why our planet earth has a gender [Mother Nature]; because a woman’s love resembles that of the nature’s: unselfish.

She puts the interests of her loved ones ahead of her own.

When a woman’s emotions are hurt, she may shudder with pain. Nonetheless, the same excruciating pain becomes her motivating factor. She will falter many times, yes. But she will never abnegate in fighting what she feels she deserves. In what she believes are her rights.

That’s why names of typhoons, cyclones, and hurricanes are feminine. Because a woman can storm out anytime to fight for her family, friends, society, and the principles she dearly believes in.

Morbidly however, most men today see a woman as a weaker vessel from an unpleasant perspective. A woman’s natural compassion has been used against her.

Rampant worldwide are millions of deaths of women who asserted for equality of rights. More millions of women are burned with acid simply because of exercising their right to make a decision.

Horrible accounts of women who, because of ridiculous culture and religious beliefs have been castrated, tortured, prostituted, discriminated, and deprived of their much-deserved life persist even up to the present, a time when advances in technology are on the peak and which are thought to ameliorate a woman’s conditions.

Or at least liberate the minds of more men.

Thousands of terrifying news about physical, psycho-mental, emotional, and sexual violations against women and little girls moved many writers to pen stories about a woman’s afflictions from across the borders, motivated many lyricists to compose songs about a woman and her worth, and inspired thousands of artists to adapt into films the life’s journey of women.

These also send governments and their politicians to enact laws intent on protecting women and mitigating the abuses hurled against them. Ironically, some religious institutions and governments were behind the massive killings of women and their children as what the pages of world history tell us and they are among the culprits aimed to govern by the said enactment.

Sadly, most men fail to understand what Bryan Adam’s song would like to convey:

“To really love a woman

to let her hold you

till you know how she needs to be touched

you’ve gotta breathe her

and really taste her

until you can feel her in your blood”

A woman is vulnerable, especially to love. But the analogy of her being a weaker vessel does not mean she is inferior. Having been created out of a man’s rib does not afford men the right to possess her.

When Bryan Adams sings in conclusion:

“When you love a woman

you tell her that she’s really woman

When you love a woman

you tell her that she’s the one

She needs somebody”

The message is not really about needing a man in her life being equal to enslaving a woman and confining her to a house or a cell. Nor is it about a man earning the right to use a force, pain or intimidation against a woman to love him back. Neither is it to see her as a mere sexual object.

The essence is about women's right to respect. Their right to life. It is about women, like all men, who are as well intellectual beings endowed with equal will. A woman, therefore, is never a possession.

Perhaps, what men ought to learn is to love women like their own bodies.

So, have you ever really loved a woman?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Silly Thoughts

Resisting my mind is quite a battle I’d always rather end up giving in to an already due impulse than to endure a long thread of agony from brushing it off almost every chance of listening to it.

Quite many are the reasons why I shouldn’t write you another of my unsolicited messages. But I am twins with stubbornness, and writing is my way of depleting something that stirs bafflement, which does not bless me with peace of mind by the way.

Writing my mind off is my favored egress. Besides, my mind is being selfish on how I must structure my sentences to complete my tasks tonight, whatever date tonight is for if there’s one thing that’s certain, this ridiculous squiggling won’t find its way to the compose message part of my FB only to be mocked and laughed at by you.

Too, my mind rather wants me to scribble words from a personal perspective. So here I am writing you another of my silly thoughts.

Let me be straightforward thenceforth.

I write because I want to say sorry. More than pissing you off, I might have frightened you. Frightened with how you must have been acquainted with my reverence to your written and spoken mind. Frightened you that I almost became your virtual stalker.

The truth of the matter is that, I as well, find myself frightened to a possibility that the very reason of frightening you was a misreckoning of how I marvel at how your mind works.

No, it’s not what you think it is, if that’s what your instincts told you. I simply take delight in individuals having minds like yours, nothing more. Nothing less to be aggrandized with either.

But it scared you that you blocked me from detailing on your wall, which was already tantamount to un-friending me.

Your silence is like a sickness that cripples even my bones.

It seems like you whispered to the winds how you detest every inch of me. And I feel that each time I gasp for air.

My soul has been agitated, like Job's.

I thought that your “we really do need to put this behind us” last line in your message was true to its meaning in a positive way.

Or did you unmistakably mean to say never talk to strangers?

Still, my apology.

P.S. Look, it's March, your month. Greetings on International Women's Day.

Photo credits:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

RH Bill: To Whom Does P-Noy Owe His Governance?

In addressing social, political, and economic issues, the Philippine president forgets his discretion. In matters concerning making national decisions, P-Noy is not known to formulate his own.

Despite the supposed separation of powers between church and state, which ought to characterize the system of government in the Republic of the Philippines in lieu of democracy, the head of state continues to allow his mandate be besmirched by a religious sector, the Catholic Church to be exact.

Of late, the said church crosses the borders again and overuses its powers to block the enactment of the Reproductive Health Bill, which when ratified could provide safe and efficient maternal healthcare among women, thereby abbreviating the number of maternal deaths; mitigate the contagion of sexually-transmitted diseases including AIDS, and avert the ballooning of our population, among others.

The constitutional doctrine of church and state separation clearly implies that there is no religion recognized by the state to be the national or official. This means that no church in the Philippines shall use its beliefs or employ its powers to mold the minds of politicians during legislations as part of their functions.

Apparently, the Catholic Church does not respect it, in as much as it does not acknowledge its own blemishes. Instead, it professes dominance over the government by claiming divinity.

No one—including any institution—should be above the law.

However, the way the incumbent administration is handling its national affairs, it impresses even to the international community that the president and his government is under the Catholic Church’s laws, or another’s.

Also, the same doctrine signifies that the government must not favor a religion or church over the others in exercising its authority.

Certainly, the state’s executive fails to uphold this as it lets the Catholic Church’s self-professed morality impede the consummation of his presidency, while refusing to listen to the grievances of groups that represent collective opinion of the greater populace.

Where is the rule of law?

It has performed a disappearing act a long time ago. Equality was lost among individuals and institutions as interests of the select few were given more emphasis over the others. The very principle of unity itself has divided the peoples. Many of whom cry for justice. While others pursue different endeavors with varied motives, sometimes, to the extent of trampling on others' rights.

As the ensuing days project to unravel more hideous scenarios in the political arena in and outside the nation, the picture would likely depict a regular theme: a president married to the Catholic Church (Oh, why not when he even consulted during a retreat the Bishops’ wisdom whether or not he should gun for the highest position in the land).

Could it be the reason why the incumbent president acts like the CBCP’s puppy, este, the anointed?

Obviously, this term’s president is collared by the CBCP.

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