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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rizal @151

Last year, I was lucky enough to present my paper during the International Conference to commemorate Rizal's 150th birth anniversary.

I remember vividly a question asked by one of the audiences, a teacher, I suppose. "How do we teach Rizal's novels? Do we base it on various interpretations of scholars or the actual meaning of the work?"

Well, who knows exactly the meaning of any work? Even the creator of the work will be hard put to interpret his own work. I remember a song writer/producer who was asked what he meant by his work. He said, I don't know. I just wrote it.

A lot of works suffer from over reading. Rizal's works are not exemptions. Pick any book written by Ambeth Ocampo on Rizal, and you will see how every phrase of the novels Noli and El Fili are given symbols and meanings. I was pretty embarrassed that Ocampo pointed out that the five holes on the floor of the boat that the excursionists used to get to the picnic grounds meant the five women on it. It was a happy occasion in the novel to be tarnished that way. Ugh. But I love the vivid description of how the sinigang was made out of fish fresh from the fish traps in the river. Just gotta love Rizal, but I hate the "holes" metaphor!

So, how does one teach Rizal?

Know him.
Then you'll love him.

And He Won

The five international boxing judges commissioned by WBO have unanimously chosen Pacquiao as the winner in the Pacman versus Bradley fight.

Now, it has been confirmed that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Isn't that amazing?

Be that as it may, I still say NO to rematch.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DepEd Needs Help, Don't We Get It?

Each year when school opens in June, media is full of DepEd news, recycled news, that is. DepEd lacks thousands of teachers. DepEd lacks thousands of classrooms. DepEd lacks textbooks, and desks, and pieces of chalk. We shake our heads and curse the government. We shrug our shoulders and blame corruption.

However, this year, media outfits have something new to report about DepEd. Alongside the usual lack of this and that, learning alternatives take some airspace. For a change, the government is actually giving us alternatives.

To mitigate our lack of teachers and classrooms, DepEd offers home schooling and distance learning where students meet only once a week. To this news, parents and students are shown in havoc and indignation. No, they'd rather be with a hundred students in a classroom built for a class size of forty than be home schooled. They'd rather spend lunch money and daily fares to school than be home schooled. A once-a-week school is not a school at all.

Tsk! A good information campaign during summer could have solved the confusion, but DepEd has been busy selling the K to 12 project they must have missed it. For me, home schooling and distance learning would have made a greater and more immediate impact because it offers a solution which effect is immediately measurable and realizable. You cut down the number of students per class, and the teacher becomes more effective. You cut down the number of regular-school-day students, and you cut down the need for desks and classrooms. (May be not chalk.)

But there's a catch. You need outstanding teachers to handle students under home schooling and distance learning for these programs to succeed. The Philippines is a 90-million strong nation. Campaign for volunteers. These volunteers can come from individuals who have successful Monday to Friday jobs, individuals who are willing to give back, individuals who want to change this country but don't know how, retired professionals who hate to be considered useless, individuals who could have made it big outside the Philippines but stay put for the love of country, individuals who believe that to build this nation, they have to be here in this nation. How hard is it to try and ask them to volunteer for a day in a week?

Every month of June, DepEd cries for help. Have we all gone deaf and blind? I hope I haven't.

Of course, I'm simply talking to the moon.

Why is Everyone on Wheelchair?

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona

Timothy Bradley, Jr. (Why are most boxers Junior?)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


It's Independence Day and most Filipinos and boxing fans of the world still can not get over the pay-per-view robbery committed against Manny Pacquiao.

An American boxing Youtube commentator, Bigragu, has apologized "for the awful judging and "hometown" Bullsh*t. I am embarrassed for my country from a boxing standpoint." 

Conrado De Quiros gets away with "F-ked" as his column title today. "This was in-your-face shoving the dirty finger and saying “F–k you.” In the face not just of us Filipinos but of boxing itself, in the face of those who elevated the game from savageness to human striving, from primitiveness to art."

At least GMA robbed our country of the presidency in the dead of night, and orchestrated that midnight appointment of Chief Justice Corona with only a handful of people present. The crooks in Las Vegas robbed the boxing world blind in pay-per-view, in arenas, in public squares, in cinemas, in multimedia, and yes, before "the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching around the world." I hear you Michael Buffer. I'm not saying GMA and Corona are decent cheats. I'm saying, the western world sucks as much. But that's another story.

Manny, hang those gloves. Don't renew your contract with Top Rank. You know who screwed you. Don't dignify this travesty with a rematch. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

And He Lost

After seven years and 15 straight wins.

In a split decision his opponent didn't deserve.

But he shouldn't have left his fate to boxing judges in the first place.

He's had bouts that ended in decisions way too many. Boxing isn't and shouldn't be about judges' decisions.

Manny Pacquiao was the clear winner in the Pacman-Bradley fight had the judges not suffered Saramago's unexplained "white blindness."

But Pacman should have done better. He's set the bar so high in this era's boxing, he's found himself struggling to reach it. And failed.

Interesting news:

Pacquiao vs. Bradley bets refunded by Irish betting site

An Irish betting site is refunding bettors their Manny   Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley bets. (Joe Klamar/Getty Images)

The day after the stunning split decision that gave Timothy Bradley a controversial victory over Manny Pacquiao, an Irish betting site is refunding Pacquiao betters in what it calls a “justice payout.”
Paddy Power, Ireland’s largest telephone betting service, issued this statement on its blog on Sunday:

It was a result that stunned the world, even by modern professional boxing standards. Last night in Las Vegas the brilliant Filipino Manny Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight belt to Timothy Bradley in a controversial split-decision defeat.
With that Paddy Power has rolled out one of our famous Justice Payouts. If you had placed a bet on Manny to win in a pre-fight outright or on points, that money is now back in your account. We Hear You!

On Sunday, Floyd Mayweather Sr. also blasted the decision, saying that the judges of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight need to “find a new job.”
“I feel like Pacquiao won the fight but I am not going to sugarcoat nothing. The last fight belonged to Marquez,” Mayweather said while referring to Pacquiao’s majority decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez this past November. “This one belonged to Pacquiao. I’m calling it like it is,” Mayweather continued.
The boxing world reacted with collective shock when the judges handed the split decision to Bradley. That decision came despite Pacquiao landing almost 100 more punches throughout the fight. He also landed more punches in 10 of 12 rounds.

“Can you believe that? Unbelievable,” said Bob Arum, the fight’s promoter. “I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said, `I tried hard but I couldn’t beat the guy.”‘


Friday, June 8, 2012

Playing Shaider of Morality, Justice, and Human Rights

Suddenly I'm scared to say what I mean and mean what I say.

Suddenly everyone has become vanguards of morality, and policemen of human rights.

Just recently:

1. Justin Bieber called Indonesia "some random country."

2. Miriam Quiambao quoted the Bible and said homosexuality is a "lie from the devil."

3.  Manny Pacquiao gave an opinion that he is against gay marriage.

4. Tony Gonzaga admitted she stopped listening to Lady Gaga because the latter's music has spawned "double meanings."

5. Bayo, the clothing company, launched "What's your mix?" campaign insinuating that a mixed blood between Filipino and another (Australian, Chinese, Indian, British, American) is a sure-fire formula to becoming beautiful.

All of the above have been stoned. Never mind who cast the first one.

This is not to agree with their opinions. This is to allow them their opinions.

Granted that their platform is wrong. Granted that their grammar is horrible. Granted that their ideals are misplaced. Who are we to stand perfect?

Grant that they have the moral obligation to society, to speak fairly and just, to be the role model.

But as members of society now, what have we done to deserve leaders we expect to be in the company of Plato, Alexander the Great, Mahatma Gandhi, Rizal, Martin Luther King, Siddhartha...JESUS!

Monday, June 4, 2012

When Education Interrupts Skills and Knowledge Acquisition

I wouldn't say my nephews are geniuses. But boy! They are smart for their age! Today, the older one enters Grade One. I look back at my own first day of school (I didn't go to any pre- and kinder school.), and I don't think I knew then a quarter of what my nephews know now.

My Grade One nephew can read, can count, can argue, can be fierce in street games, can play strategy games like Cut the Rope, Push Cars, and Lorax, never mind that he scores more than 1.5 million in Temple Run.

My three-year old incoming pre-schooler can count, knows all the channels in cable as the TV remote custodian, "reads" interactive books, creates folders in iPad and re-arranges icons in and out of folders (And he learned it on his own), plays "Mahjong" better than my sister (He will hate any teacher who will give "match/ put similar things together" tests.). He knows "download," "delete," "complete," "game over," "next level," "internet," "wifi"...

I can only hope that the school will provide the right environment where they can acquire skills and knowledge as they do at home. I don't expect that they get brilliant teachers, only patient and caring ones who will teach only what they know to be 100% accurate and right.

I hope their learning at home will not be stunted by their going to school for some formal education.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Mighty Twenty and the Lousy Three

I did not intend to watch verdict day of the Corona impeachment trial, but when I came in at the GHQ, a TV set was placed atop the executive assistant's cabinet, through the wishes of the CEO. I could easily read my boss's mind. Staff would pretend to be working, but secretly would be watching live streaming of the trial. From 2 to 6 PM, work stopped its grind, the world stood still.We renewed appreciation of our boss.

I came in at the middle of Angara's speech. When he gave his "guilty" verdict, the office roared in delight. Never mind  it was only the first vote out of twenty-three. When the Joker pulled out his vote for acquittal, one quipped, "Akala ko ba, pag bad ka, lagot ka?!" Well, some people grow old to shine. Others just wither away.

When Allan Peter Cayetano gave the "guilty" vote, we were all sure his sister Senator Pia would take the same route. And it was 3 to 1. We were keeping scores like watching a ballgame in an arena.

Then came Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, TG Guingona, Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, and Loren Legarda. Guilty votes came in torrents, broken only by Marcos Junior. No one in the room was surprised. But the Junior's attempt to glory was just that, an attempt. For halfway into his speech, everyone was still talking about Lito Lapid's "pizza pie." Why is Bongbong even a Senator in our midst?

Then we had Sergio Osmena III, Kiko Pangilinan, Koko Pimentel, Ralph Recto, and Bong Revilla. All voted to oust Corona from the Supreme Court. The score: 16 to 1. Bong had the honor to seal the deal.

And we all had been better off to skip the next judge: Miriam Santiago. It was the first time I saw Santiago do her theatrics in this trial. I thought the news was just exaggerating about her feistiness. She was INDEED a first-rate virago and termagant. I had to leave the room after she talked back at the presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile who reminded her of the time, to which she retorted, "I thought I was unlimited." She could say that, but my endurance and patience had limits. I stepped out of the room, out of the office and went to 7-11 to get some Magnum (the chocolate bar, not the gun. But I could have used one on the TV set.), canned juice, and a bag of chips. If Miriam thought everyone would cling to her every word, she was mistaken. I'd rather endure the rancid, dog-pee smell along Eastwood sidewalks than let her finish the speech which would only conclude to her acquitting Corona.

When I re-entered the room, Antonio Trillanes was just wrapping up his "guilty" vote. The score was now 18 to 3, Tito Sotto having voted against Corona, too. Then Manny Villar came in: 19 to 3. But Villar could have stayed away from grandstanding. This trial was not about him. Sheesh! And by the the way, Mr. Villar, I didn't vote for you.

Then finally, Dumbledore. Excuse me. What I meant was, Juan Ponce Enrile, the captain of the impeachment trial. After a long, circuitous speech, he voted "guilty." What can I say about the man? At 88, he redeemed himself from his gory past. Martial Law, anyone? He had been heroically smart against the lackluster job of the prosecution (Let me just say this. This trial was won not by the "brilliance" of the prosecution, but by the _________ of the defense.) and heroically strong against the "nerve" of the defense and the accused. 

And it all came to pass. Twenty (20) voted guilty. Three (3) voted not guilty. No one dared to play safe and abstain.

I pity the three who let political partisan ruled over common sense. Never mind their lack of regard for the common tao. That was a given. Those who brag about education and diplomas, of Harvard, and the Ivy League, are the biggest letdown when the rule of the game shifts down to common sense. Whereas, whereas, my ass!