Friday, December 30, 2011

Obligatory new year post

  Ah, look how time flies. It's amazing that a year ago I was enjoying my last days of winter break in the year 2010 while this year I'm... still enjoying the last days of winter break before classes start on January 4th.

  So what has changed? For one, I took more courses this academic year and learned more than what I have learned last year. While other examples are more personal, I'm glad that these incidents in this year are better and different compared to last year. And because I have learned more from my courses, my blog posts are changing as well (and they should be).

  I have a few plans and goals lined up for the next year, and if I get to do them, then the world can end on December 2012 (I'm kidding, of course.).

  I'm ready to say goodbye to 2011 and look forward to 2012. Another new year where I make another step forward and never backward. I may stop for awhile to enjoy the present, but I should also think about how it would affect the future. I should never want to go back to the past but I can always glimpse at it to see what I have done wrong so as to not make the same mistake twice, or remind myself that the past will always be a part of me and who I will be. And with that, let's toast to the new and exciting year ahead of us.

  But let's not forget reality and party like there's no tomorrow. Aside from the real lives we keep, there are also other issues we should be concerned about, like the national and global economic situation and environmental issues to name a few. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Coca-cola, pathos, and the Philippines

  As a rhetoric and communications student at a Canadian university, I am trying to incorporate my academic life to my real life so I can apply what I have learned in school and put it to good use.

  Coca-cola, an international well-known beverage company, released a campaign ad for the holidays. Watch the clip and tell me what you think about it: 
  What do you think? Did it move you? Were you about to grab a tissue by the time the ad ended? Did you feel your emotions swaying when you saw families reunited again? If you answered 'yes' to most or all questions, then the ad served its purpose: to persuade the audience through their emotions. This, my friends, is pathos, one of the three appeals or styles of rhetoric introduced by Aristotle to capture the emotions of the audience. Who says rhetoric only applies to textual discourses? Visuals such as photographs and advertisements are considered rhetoric as well, especially ads which are used to persuade (or dissuade) the audience to buy the (or not buy the competitor's) product. When I was watching the ad, its first few seconds practically screamed 'pathos' at me that I kind of lost interest halfway through it that if I was a target audience of the ad I wouldn't be interested in it. 

  However, I don't mean to offend OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) in this post, nor in this blog (and I will never do in the future). I may seem insensitive just because I'm a permanent resident (and potential citizen) of Canada while they are contractual workers but we share the same situation: we live and work in foreign countries. Middle-class and poor Filipinos who have lived in the Philippines their whole lives have no idea what it's like to live or work in a foreign country. I can't say for the rich or privileged and upper-middle class Filipinos, because some of them may have only traveled to foreign countries for a vacation but not move permanently to live. My point is that OFWs lead more difficult lives than most permanent residents or converted citizens that I know. Just look at each of the persons who were qualified for the "Happiness Project". The agency picked them because they're OFWs and they have been away from their families for years. For who else can the agency show in their ads but hard-working Filipinos who have been away from their families for a long time? The general audience can relate to Joe, Leonie, and Joey because most of them have OFW relatives and Filipinos are into close family ties. So what does the ad agency do? The three narrate their life on how sad and lonely their lives are in a foreign country (and I agree with Leonie when she talked about winters.) and how much they miss their families. Their sad narratives are enough to tug a Filipino's heart--the target audience of the ad. And because they were picked by Coca-cola for their 'project', they were given the chance to go back to the Philippines again after being gone for a long time. And no doubt, it worked. Most comments I've read about the ad were touched by their stories. Another person said this ad shows the resiliency of Filipinos on how Joe, Leonie, and Joey (and the rest of the OFWs) are able to sacrifice their lives for their families. But the best comment I have read? People saying that they're 'proud to be Filipinos' or that they're glad they're a Filipino. Because of what--that Filipinos work abroad, save every dollar, pound, or euro, brave the cold and harsh winters only to send money to the Philippines (whom some are ungrateful for the blessings)? Enlighten me here on the last bit because I didn't quite catch it. There was even a comment where the person said that if anyone didn't cry at this ad then they're insensitive. At least some comments were sensible enough to realize that this is still an advertising.

  What I only observed while watching this ad was that there are still more than 11 million Filipinos (and counting) who had to sacrifice their time and lives to work in another country for their family because of poverty. These OFWs are even dubbed as "new heroes" or bagong bayani of the nation--and they should be. For a culture that is strong on family values, they would find it difficult to be far from their families even for just a year. The ad focuses on the idea of sadness and homesickness an OFW feels instead of the reality that they are separated from their families because of the economic condition of the Philippines. Doesn't that say a lot about the country? What's even worse is that these OFWs have been away for almost or more than a decade which shows the progression of the country. Let's admit it, Filipinos work abroad for a better life because the country disappointed them with its political leaders and governance (to name a few). They would never have left in the first place if they had a good life. And until they find that the government will provide them jobs, they will continue working abroad far from their loved ones--a sacrifice they're willing to do.

  Should I mention that at the end of the day, despite the emotional appeal of it, the product being endorsed is Coke?

Friday, December 2, 2011

No offense, but

  Because a blog was, is, and will always be a blog. No matter how one tries to be objective in their perspectives, there is always that one little fact or thought that would refute another person's point of view. And that, I think, would make for a good debate. And it's no one's fault, because each of us have our own world paradigm that varies on our narratives or logic.
  So I can't blame people if some find that Twilight is better than Harry Potter--or even have the guts to compare those two movies. But really, I still can't believe that my friend thinks that Twilight is better than Harry Potter. We're actually comparing the films, not the books, because he doesn't like reading. I admit, I don't have the right to loathe Twilight because I haven't read the book yet, but a reliable friend once told me that I shouldn't waste my time reading it--so I followed her advice. But to tell me that it's "better" than Harry Potter? Are you kidding me? This all started when we were having lunch at work when he told me that he's going to watch the film again even though he has already seen it. So I told him, "Can you watch another film so that you don't contribute as a revenue to the franchise?" But then he said that he doesn't mind watching it again, because he likes it. But when he said that it's better than Harry Potter--that was when things got more interesting. 

  I didn't really fought with him, because one of our coworkers stopped our ensuing argument when I told my friend that I could debate with him on why HP is loads better than the other. Anyway, I don't care if any friend of mine likes Twilight--I would respect his or her opinion because that's his or her view. But to tell me that it's better than Harry Potter is another story. Although I'm biased because I have never read or seen the films of the Twilight franchise and I'm an HP fan, I would try to understand a Twilight fan's point of view by maybe reading the first book. I just can't foresee myself reading a Twilight book in the near future though. Okay, maybe when I'm drunk or high on sugar that I can take Twilight seriously. I just wish that I was always kept in the dark about this franchise like I was used to. See, I only found out about it a year after the first film has been released. That was when I realized the fanbase that vampire has created. Then I became more familiar with it when I used to read this forum on The Deathly Hallows Part I film and there were comments about Twilight. So aside from that forum with posts that are probably all from Tumblr, the only exposures I got from this franchise were pictures (from the forum), the Breaking Dawn Part I trailer, and some reviews about the film (which are bad). So even when one of my friends invited me to watch the film with her, I turned her down. But I thought you wanted to see a Twilight fan's point of view? Well, if I wanted to get a glimpse of why women are crazy with that vampire, I'd rather watch it illegally (that's right, you heard me) or on the television than spend my hard-earned money on a film that I would no surely not enjoy. And besides, I already loathe the franchise, I don't want to contribute to its revenue. 

  I haven't talked to my friend about his plan, but I might tell him to watch Happy Feet 2 instead when we meet on Saturday. If we get into another argument, I don't really mind. I just don't like it when one says Twilight is better than Harry Potter--I've been an HP fan for a decade--it's practically a half of my life, and I don't like HP being compared to a fad (yes, because I think Twilight is not really a timeless literary treasure).
  Wow, I didn't plan for this post to be this long, I was thinking of writing a paragraph but then I remembered that "argument" I had with my friend so my hands just started typing words. But I guess it adheres to that photo above which shows that I can be horrible to things that I hate and blog about it--because again, this is my blog. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday craze

  This is the first post that I'll write about this annual event in the U.S. Black Friday, as some of you are aware of, is an annual event that happens the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving day, which is every fourth Thursday of November. I have never been to the U.S. yet, so I haven't really witnessed or have been a part of the Black Friday trend where stores offer their lowest, doorcrasher prices that may or may not give Boxing day a run for its money. Actually, products are lower down south than here in the north, and that includes cars, which this Globe and Mail article by Joanne Will attests to. Granted, this article was written months ago, but that still does not change the fact that most products are cheaper in the U.S. than here in Canada. Anyway, that's another territory that I don't want to dive into today.

  What I find most fascinating about Black Friday is that Americans line up or even camp out Thursday midnight just to be the first in line to snag that iPad or any "hot" gadget when it's not really necessary. Okay, I understand that maybe some people do need to shop for Christmas gifts. I completely understand that. But what about those who just camp out on Thursday night or line up early on Friday morning just to grab that product that they "need"? It's just, I don't understand the need for buying or spending hundreds or thousands of dollars (like for an iPad, for instance, or a 60-inch LED HD 3D flat screen television) because it's Black Friday. Because everything is so cheap. And this is a once-a-year event. But do we really need them? I admit that I have succumbed to this corporate North American lifestyle after living here for a while but sometimes, when I go to Anti-Pinoy or Facebook and check this tour guide's profile (Carlos Celdran) where he posts pictures about the impoverished and the poorest of the poor communities in Manila, Philippines, I can't help but be guilty about going shopping or buying a hot chocolate from a local cafe. It's unbelievable how I get to live here in Canada and complain about the cold weather when these children in Ulingan, Manila are living in waste and garbage. It's completely unimaginable. It's horrifying. But I guess that's what makes North America first world nations and the Philippines a third world nation.

  I grabbed these photos from Carlos Celdran's Facebook, which he grabbed from Sidney Snoeck, the owner of these photos. 

  Please visit this website after seeing these pictures: Project Pearls

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's News?

  I had to do a presentation in class about a news organization so I decided to give ABS-CBN a try and they didn't fail my expectations: they reinforced my beliefs on one of the reasons why I have lost hope for the Philippines.

  ABS-CBN, a television network in the Philippines, is owned by ABS-CBN Corporation, the largest media and entertainment empire in the country to date. When I was young I never cared about what channel to watch or which network has higher ratings. All I cared about were the shows that this channel broadcast. Do they broadcast Sailor Moon? YuYu Hakusho? Akazukin Chacha? Kero keroppi and Hello Kitty? Bananas in Pajamas? Mask Rider, Shaider, and Bioman?  So yeah, I just cared about making sure that when I turn on the tv these shows are on—I don't care what time it is, if I know that they broadcast these shows, I'll watch them. Because that's how much I love them. Okay, maybe not really care that I would stay up late but you know what I mean. I assume too much, but that's me. Or maybe because I'm just too tired to think tonight. 

  Anyway, I did my presentation on Monday, November 14th, so I had to cover the news broadcast for November 14th as well, since Canada is 14 hours behind the Philippines (without DST). If I was doing a news organization in North America or Europe, I would've covered the 13th broadcast.

  I don't know if it was me, the network, or the day itself, but it was a pretty slow news day. Why? Well, the broadcast runs 75 minutes every night (as it says on its wikipedia; I'm too lazy to find it in their website) including ads so if you remove them (which are a lot, I tell you), maybe it'll be a 40-50-minute broadcast? Don't quote me on that one; it's just a wild guess. What I want to point out is that the whole broadcast was about the Pacquiao fight that they "missed" or "forgot" to report about the 113 representatives absent on Monday (PH time), the day after the fight. Shows you how credible Philippine politicians are eh? See, those are two of the number of reasons why I have given up the country: the news media and politicians. And oh look it says that based on a study, the Philippines has the most number of political dynasties in the House of Representatives compared to the Japanese, American, Mexican, and Argentinian legislatures. Hooray for the country! Unfortunately, the study didn't name who these families were. Fortunately for some Filipinos, they have a clear idea who these dynasties are. Like the current president, Benigno Aquino III, the son of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., who was a senator and governor and mayor of Tarlac, and Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, the former (and first) female President of the Philippines. I haven't even mentioned his grandparents yet. But don't worry; he's not the only one. Even if the study doesn't mention names, I'm pretty sure the readers of the article can identify who these families are. What I'm most worried about is that these stories did not make it to the Monday broadcast of TV Patrol, the nightly news broadcast of ABS-CBN, where a million Filipinos tune in every night. Probably because these stories don't make the headlines anymore because they're not entertaining enough to appeal to the audience. News has now become infotainment, where news are becoming entertainment to please the audience of today's world.

  I hope something will change in the news organization, but for now, I doubt that with the way the news is being covered in ABS-CBN particularly TV Patrol, change might happen in a long, long time.  

For further reading on news as an entertainment value, read Knowlton Nash's Trivia Pursuit: How Showbiz Values are Corrupting the News

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

the k-pop fan in me

BigBang from left to right: Seungri, G-Dragon, Taeyang, Daesung, and T.O.P.
photos above and below from MTV EMA via BigBang updates

  I'm not gonna lie, I got excited when Big Bang won as the Worldwide Act in the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards held at Belfast, Ireland on November 6, 2011. I don't usually listen to other music aside from Filipino or Western artists, but because I watch Korean and Japanese dramas and movies, I tend to like some of the soundtracks. So while I google for these songs, I divert my attention to South Korean pop groups such as Big Bang and 2NE1. I am also familiar with Wondergirls, Girl's Generation, Super Junior, DBSK (or TVXQ or JYJ), SS501, T-Max, CN Blue, and F.T. Island to name a few because I come across their performances whenever I browse youtube. However, I have a bias for the YG artists (a Korean talent agency and record label) Big Bang and 2NE1 because I like their music and style better than the others (and no bashing please; to each their own). I kind of understand why some people prefer SNSD (Girl's gen) or DBSK because I think these artists worked really hard before they reached the success they're having now.

  So on Sunday while I was doing my paper I was listening to Big Bang's "Haru haru", Tae yang's "I need a girl", and 2NE1's "It hurts" over and over again. The repeat button probably feels harassed already. Heh. Two or three years ago I would have no idea who the Big Bang or 2NE1 members were even though I was familiar with them, the same as how I have a Si-won, Hee-chul, and Kim Ki-bum bias in Super Junior (or SuJu, as they are commonly called). I mean, I know what Si-won, Hee-chul, and Ki-bum look like when I watch SuJu videos but I don't know the others nor listen to their songs all the time. But after browsing these groups, I realized that I lean more on 2NE1 and Big Bang. And who could resist these boys? 

  The more I watch their live performances, the more I like them. Thank goodness there's youtube that I can watch them anytime I want. I used to like G-Dragon (Kwon Ji-young) and T.O.P. (Choi Sang-hyun) but lately GD is slipping away from me as Tae yang (Dong Young-bae) makes his way into mine (pffft.). Especially after I heard this song and watched the music video. 

  I find the song really catchy and Taeyang doesn't hurt either. One can't really blame me if I keep listening to this song the whole day and even the day after that. However, that's just my inner K-pop fan who loves these Big bang boys and their female counterpart 2NE1. Funny though, because the next day the song was still playing in my head but when I kind of got tired listening to them I switched to The Magic Numbers and involuntarily sang a Rivermaya song. So yeah. That pretty much says that these artists are in me unlike the boys who are just hanging out in my subconscious, waiting to be tapped. But really, I am glad that they won so that people would be familiar with them and the k-pop fandom. Hah, take that, Britney Spears!

BigBang at The MTV EMA 2011
from left to right: Seungri, Daesung, Taeyang, T.O.P., and G-Dragon
photo from allkpop

Monday, October 31, 2011

Filipino foods for Halloween

Since it is in season, I thought I'd conform and write an obligatory Halloween post. Instead of posting the typical "Happy Halloween" or "Trick or treat!" and a picture of a pumpkin or a scarecrow, I thought of Filipino foods and delicacies that are considered "scary" and perfect for the event. 
I got this idea from work when the social committee thought of holding a scary potluck as the theme for the Halloween dinner. My friend slash colleague and I were thinking of what to bring. She suggested dinuguan and I suggested balut. She suggested isaw (barbecued chicken intestines) and adidas (barbecued chicken feet) which I think are good enough for a scare, but dinuguan and balut tops the former as "scary-looking" foods. If you think isaw and adidas are the worst, think again, especially if you haven't seen or tasted dinuguan and balut yet. 
The foods look different from the taste, so the foods posted here are either scary-looking because of its appearance, its taste, or both. But this varies on Filipinos, whether they grew up eating these foods or not. A caveat: some of the foods do not really adhere to the theme, I just wanted to post them because I like them. 

balut or duck egg (photo by me)
bbq street foods from left to right: adidas or chicken feet, isaw or chicken intestines, hotdog, and the other ones I have no idea (photo from Definitely Filipino)
bbq street foods (clockwise from left): isaw (chicken intestines), betamax or dried pork blood, helmet or chicken heads, and adidas (chicken feet) (photo from Definitely Filipino)
crispy dinuguan or pork blood stew (photo from Definitely Filipino)
Lechon is usually served at parties. They're not really spooky but I just thought that the presentation looks interesting so I posted it here. (photo from Definitely Filipino)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slow Down, Please

  Quite a late reaction considering that the event took place on Sunday, October 16th, and the report was released Monday the next day. However, when my instructor mentioned this bit (and I am ashamed that I have not read the news that day), I checked the online newspaper to see what the laughs were all aboutand the photo delivered (but trust me, I wasn't the only one who didn't read the paper). 
  With all the Occupy protests happening around the globe and the eurozone crisis, you would think that those should be the news of the week. But what can I do. I'm swamped with school work and work, and add to that my social life that I try to relive once a week to bring me back to reality. And my stress reliever to take me to the fourth dimension to keep me sane. 
  I'll make this short and sweet because it's late and I have a class tomorrow (not a surprise really). 
  On Sunday, October 16th, drivers were shocked to see this sign as they were driving on the road:

  Do you think the drivers slowed down when they saw this sign? Of course. I mean, who wouldn't? This made my day yesterday so this should have made it for the drivers who saw this too. 
  I apologize again for the quick and short post. I'll do better next time, just, not now. 
  The full article is right here if you are interested in the details. 

(photo by Karen Chapman for The Winnipeg Free Press)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Take it easy

Four courses for fall. Five days a week. Twenty hours to work. How do I do it? Even I ask myself that question. Which reminds me, I need to continue that volunteering I signed up March of this year. As if I don't have enough things to do. And did I mention I work five days a week? Oh, I also took five courses last winter, and I worked part-time during that period.

I take my physical strength for granted just because I can deal with it now, which I'm sure I'll suffer the consequences later in life. I can be pretty stubborn. I know that. I take my body for granted. I know that. I once pulled three consecutive all-nighters in one week. I hated that. But what can I do? I had assignments and readings I needed to do that week, and I was also adjusting from my crazy lifestyle in summer and the new school year--my second year as a university student. 

Since I'm already in my second year, I have to make it a habit of updating this blog every week--be it a mundane post or a heavy, life's-biggest-questions post. What has this blog got to do with it? I'll give you a bit of info about me which I don't normally do, because I take my privacy seriously. But since it's already late, and although I'm tired and I want to go to bed right now, I can't because I want to finish this post now that I'm in mood to write about it. And when ideas and words flow, I rather release them at that moment than wait for the moment to pass because it might not happen again and I might forget it. So expect a freewrite vibe in this post because I'll only edit this once. Or twice. Okay, maybe before I begin a new paragraph. Even though I'm editing it doesn't mean my brain is processing these words to look for cohesion or coherence (I always get these two mixed up) or if I correctly used a scheme (like in the first paragraph). 

Anyway, back to me (wow, that sounds egocentric). I'm taking the 4-year Joint Communications program of the University of Winnipeg and Red River College where I take two years (or three, depending on the course availability) to get a degree in Communications, and then two years for a Creative Communications diploma in Red River College. I have a friend who is with the same program at Red River, and she said that they are required to update their blogs every week. It's a good thing I started this blog two years ago so at least I have already established myself as a blogger (no pun intended) and I'm not forced to write a blog but I enjoy doing it. The downside is that since I started university my blog posts dropped drastically. Which is understandable, because I am in university after all. But if I'm at Red River College I'm sure that I would be required to update my blog every week. Which is why I have to make it a habit to write a new post every week. Which would make me write more about my personal life if it's a slow news day. 

There you have it. And so, my bed awaits (I'm sure after I publish this post, I'll still read and open other websites that are not relevant to what I'm supposed to be doing). 

Monday, August 22, 2011

You will be remembered, Jack

  I am not fully immersed in the Canadian politics because I have always thought that politics is boring and dirty with its history of mudslinging and violence that I  have encountered during my nineteen years of living in the Philippines. However, when I realized that I have to be politically aware and knowledgeable for the sake of my new home country, I began to learn new persons and catch The National on CBC every night to update myself on the daily news. Since I began university, I became even more politically knowledgeable not for the sake of Canada, but for myself to be a better Canadian immigrant. And of course, that meant that I followed the May elections held this year.

  It's no wonder that I was shocked to read a Facebook status that talks about Jack Layton's death. I thought was pulling everyone's leg, but then I knew that he would never do that. So I got out of Facebook and checked CBC News to confirm this news. And there it was. His death of cancer at 4:45am. I was shocked and saddened by his death, for I never expected this, because I believed him when he said that he'll be back in Parliament in September when he took a personal leave last month due to his health. I don't have any political bias but while I was watching the news and skimming articles I was glad to see that Jack's death united Canadians despite their political differences. I haven't known him for a long time, but I feel that he might have done more if he didn't pass away. I am sure and confident that he will be remembered by all Canadians. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. 

  Here is Jack Layton's last letter to the Canadian written on Saturday, August 20th. The entire letter can be accessed at the CBC website or from the NDP's website, but I would like to quote an excerpt. And don't forget to grab a tissue when you're done reading his letter. 
"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

Rest in Peace, Jack
photo from the CBC news photo gallery

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


  To be successful is to assimilate. To be comfortable is to conform. 

  I was on my way home, playing music on the bus when this Filipino woman* complemented my messenger bag. I thanked her, and a couple of seconds later she started talking about how she missed the Philippines a lot. She missed the food, the crowd, the shopping malls, and other things. I wanted to tell her that everything will be alright; she should be grateful that this city has a large Filipino community where you see them everywhere you go. I was about to, really. But when she told me that she has been here in Canada a few years longer than me, I was surprised. She was the first woman I spoke with who has lived here for a couple of years and hasn't enjoyed their stay here. So when she told me that she misses the Filipino dishes and that she doesn't like eating steak, that was when realization hit me. She does not want to conform in the Canadian culture which is why she doesn't enjoy her life in a foreign country. A country where most Filipinos would like to settle and live. But that was only my theory, for I had no idea what made her say and think that way, so I should not judge her for experiencing paralysis even after a couple of years. I don't know her subculture, history, and perception in life that made her say those words. But I would like her to move on; I would like her to realize that there is more to this place than just a country to earn money. That way, when she has fully accepted her fate of living in a foreign country where majority of the population speaks English and not her (or our) mother tongue, she would be able to live comfortably and enjoy what this country has in store for her. 

  I think one of the key to living in a foreign land and not get homesick often is to assimilate into their culture and customs. I'm not saying that one should go to the bar every Friday night and live like there is no tomorrow (or a shift early Saturday morning), but a person should learn the culture and customs so that they would be able to conform and act accordingly. It's like getting the best of both worlds (I won't admit that I just made a Hannah Montana reference.). And as for worrying about entertainment and activities, give yourself a break. Once a week. Or a month, if you want to save or think you're overspending and have no control due to the installment payments of almost all the stores here. That way, you are able to reap a week's hard work. And in time, you will be more comfortable living in a foreign country while retaining your culture (in this case, Filipino culture). It's hard, I admit, because I'm also in the process of assimilating and conforming, and at the same time thinking about my culture and my former country. 

  Funny how I just made up these thoughts while I'm being fried by the summer heat, closing my eyes every now and then, and listening to the Bee Gees (Don't judge, but I really think Islands in the Stream, Our Love (Don't Throw It All Away), and How Can You Mend A Broken Heart are really good songs. Or maybe that's just me. But I couldn't help it when some of their songs are really catchy.). 

*I used Filipino woman instead of Filipina for gender equality

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Year One

   Today marks the last day of my class for this semester. I registered for spring term that ran from May to June, and now that I'm done, I am proud to say that I am done with this year, and I am looking forward to the next school year this fall. 

   Browsing my blog for my past entries has been a mixture of feelings, because to me some of the posts now seem silly, unintelligible, and insensitive to the marginalized or to other cultural groups who have read and will read this blog. I would like to apologize to anyone who will find my former posts offensive; for I did not mean to communicate them in such a way that the entries negatively resonate with you. I will try not to do them again, and I will see what I can do to change them. I may do it again, but please understand as well that I am also learning. I had an intensive two-month course this spring, and this is what I learned from these two months. To be responsible of my communication. It's amazing how in one year I have changed drastically on how I think and perceive things. But if this is the result of myself or my identity after 9 months at university, then my professors and instructors have done a good job because they have influenced me in a way that I am beginning to change. 

   Another realization I suddenly thought of is that I like studying at a university. I like how the instructors or professors make the students think critically in order to engage in any given context or situation to eventually resist power. Okay, I'll exaggerate-- I like studying. Period. I don't think I really am studying like memorizing places, dates, terminologies or random people you have never heard of just to ace a course exam. Well, I did memorize some of the terminologies my professor taught us but his course was a Science course, so one should be aware that this type of course involves memorization. I'm not complaining though-- I really like that professor and I learned a lot from him. 

   That being said, I enjoyed my time at the university and if only I have more money so I can take more courses that may or may not be related to my major because I want to learn more. And yes, I am a geek. Or a nerd. Whatever you call me. I'm just glad that first year is over. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

person, meet person.

“You're a dandelion seed that flies through the air, and lands randomly, and disappears.” 
   - Swingset Chain, Loquat (It's Yours To Keep)
photo from our backyard

  People meet people everyday but there always comes a time when we lose them and forget that we met that certain person. This person may be a parent, a cousin, a friend, a partner, or anyone who once left a mark in our lives.

  A parent may be a mother or father who abandoned us when we were young; whom we have never met that when they appear again in our lives, the familial feeling is gone. A cousin may be someone we see on holidays, and if you count the holidays in a year, it's not really much. Quick and polite exchanges are made, but other than that, there is not much to discuss because we don't spend enough time with them to actually get to know them. It's a different situation with a friend. Some friends we meet along the way are like that cousin we rarely speak to, that we treat them as acquaintances because you and your friend have a common friend that connects you two together. While some friends, we meet them at one point in our lives and treat them well, but when time and distance interfere, that important friend gradually becomes an acquaintance and someone whom we are not excited to see once again. But there are others, or the special ones, whom we may or may have not known for a long time but we have treasured that friendship so much that our heart will feel incomplete when they are once gone. As for the partner? Just read what I wrote for the friend. But remember, this is not the same with everybody else. For everyone is unique in his or her own way of keeping any relationship alive, and it is up to us if we want to keep the love with that person alive.

  So when you lose someone in your life, either you blame yourself, that other person, or both of you. Time and distance can be deterrents, depending on the circumstances. But in the end, it's really up to us so it's time to forget those list of excuses. Time to face reality. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Two films. One premise.

   It has been an interesting movie marathon for me because I saw two films that include an illness as the theme but originated from two countries that are both on the other side of the world. Instead of burning the midnight oil reading and studying for my exam, I spent late Sunday night watching these two movies. I was supposed to watch only one movie, but I lost interest in it that I decided to watch another one to make myself feel better.

   I'm not sure if spoilers are included in this post, but Love and Other Drugs is one of the typical boy-meets-girl film so even if I mention the ending it wouldn't be a spoiler right? In addition, I'm watching the second movie entitled My Love By My Side to distract myself from bawling my eyes out (Well, it's true. But I started writing this post while watching the second film and finished it when I was available.). Here goes.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Will there ever be an epiphany?

So I had some free time to write this post, and I am open to any downtime considering what the past few weeks have been for me. I've just finished watching a BBC documentary about an English bus driver who went to Manila, Philippines, and experienced the life of a jeepney driver. I am grateful to BBC for doing this documentary, so at least the Philippine government can do something about it: to make them realize what life is like in that country from a foreigner's perspective. 

I found the video in youtube, and it took me a few minutes to find the link so I apologize but I can't provide the link in case BBC closes it down, and I might not be able to watch it again. Nor the other people who can watch it. I could send an email if you're interested, but really, youtube's search bar is pretty easy to navigate and you would find the link easily. The video is accessible in the BBC website though; so you can visit there to view it. However, it's not available in all areas so one may not be able to watch it depending on which country they live. 

The documentary is an hour long; an average time for a one-episode Korean drama but longer by 10 minutes for a Japanese dorama. Josh West is a bus driver in London and he embarked on a 10-day journey in the Philippines to live the life of a jeepney driver in Manila, Philippines. He stayed for a while with Rogelio Castro, a jeepney driver and his family in San Andres Bukid, Manila, Philippines. Josh drove the jeepney by himself on his last day to get a taste of what it is to be a driver in the bustling and overpopulated streets of Manila. 

As I was watching the documentary, shame and embarrassment were playing in mind, thinking how a foreigner would see this from their perspective. And it's true; I should be ashamed that I used to live in that city more than three years ago and things are still the same. There is still a clear disparity between the rich and the poor, with the poor people living day by day, just like Rogelio. On a typical Monday morning, Rogelio wakes up, drives in Manila for 12 hours, goes home, eats. The next day, he does the same thing. But he doesn't think about what's going to happen the next Monday. All he thinks about is hoping that he makes enough for the day to pay for the debt that he used to buy the jeepney and give the money to his wife, Edith, and she manages the budget for the eight people living in their home. At least Rogelio and Edith only have three children, because Edith did not want her children to die of hunger. Their grandchildren lives with them as well. But they had a neighbour, Elsie, and she lives in a smaller place with her husband and her thirteen children. Thirteen children. Can you imagine that? And now Elsie just realized that she needed to learn more about Family Planning because she was just experiencing the hardships of having a large family. Which she should've done before so she didn''t have to suffer the consequences now. Here's what I like on what Josh said, when they were about to go to the hospital and saying how Elsie should have gone to the hospital a long time ago but then he said, "I'm not living their life, they are." I don't know if this sounds mean to some people, but I find that he's just being realistic that Elsie and her husband decided to have thirteen children, so they have to suffer that. I know, I know. Their children would suffer greatly because they were only born and they're defenseless. But they should also blame their parents and the government for not implementing a bill like the hot issue of the Reproductive Health Bill (or RH Bill) that is opposed by the Catholic Church (who else?). It annoys me that Elsie's family are going through this because the government didn't have Family Planning programs in the slum areas, but I couldn't help but blame Elsie and her husband as well, for they should have known better. I mean, they already know they're poor, so why produce thirteen children, and not be able to feed them? Why? And her first pregnancy was when she was 14 years old. How about that. It's just annoying, really. And disappointing. That the government still remains paralysed even after twenty-five fricken' years of the democracy the Filipinos fought for. 

Alright, here are some pictures, and I apologize if they're blurry. 

the jeepney

Rogelio's jeepney

Rogelio's neighbourhood


the crazy streets of Manila

a typical day in Manila

Josh and Rogelio, the latter pondering on the distinct separation of the rich and the poor

Josh workin' it

Josh did it! (love their smiles here)

To describe that country, it's like a deteriorating and paralysed place that is also moving backwards. And I am really, really glad, that BBC did this documentary to show the world how ugly the system is.

And don't even get me started on the pagpag

A/N: I wrote this in a hurry, and I don't plan on editing it, so I'm sure there are lots of grammatical mistakes, but I don't really care. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Do the right thing

University has kept me on my toes these days, especially the paper deadlines that I am now used to. Finals are coming up though, so I'll be gone again for a while but I'll try to update this blog every month as much as I can. I still have some pending posts regarding some anime and Japanese films and once I have the time to actually write them, not just jot them, I'll post them up here too. 

Anyway, this would be a really random post; an assortment of ideas that have been running on my head so I just thought I'd share with you. 

By now most of us in the globe are aware of the the Arabic revolutions and disasters striking in the Eastern and South Eastern Pacific. If you have not heard about it at all nor aware of it, then I will ask you: what are you doing on the internet? It's thanks to this technology that people from the Islamic countries are able to post videos or tweets a millisecond faster than a CNN correspondent, transcending time and space. It's a wonder what globalisation has brought to this era. 

Now, for these events, we do not want them to happen. We do not wish for them to happen. But what can we do? Prayers help, that is true, but aside from prayers, if you have anything that you can do, help. Donate. Volunteer. The Red Cross is a wonderful international organization and I'm sure your donation would be a great help and it would go farther than what you expected. And besides, if you're able to buy a small double-double, you can afford to donate something right? And it's not just Red Cross where you can donate to. There are hundreds of groups and medium for you to give. So if you have something you want to give, please do. Someone needs it more than you do.

Now back to the Philippines. I thank my parents because we don't have any Filipino channel at home because we're just not interested. I may have offended a fellow one but that's our choice. My parents are not exactly tech-savvy either, so they can't just turn on the computer to read some news back home. What connects them to the country though, are the local Filipino newspapers circulated for free in the city. And a conversation my dad overhears or is a part of. The thing is, because we don't have these channels on our tv, I am also not aware of every news that are happening in the country. I believe it does have its consequences to me, because I am beginning to break the connection that I have for it. There is still an association, but only because of the memories in that country, but not the government. I do love the Philippines, but only the country as a geographical and tropical country with its lush and unique environment and wildlife that the government should be active in preserving it. Okay I'm digressing too much. 

Here are some pictures Joey Mendoza designed himself, and I'd like to share with my fellow Filipinos and you can post them on your Facebook wall. I got these from Carlos Celdran and I thought about sharing them as well.

Like I told you, this post is scattered, like I just threw them all together to one brew, but if you think about it, it makes sense too (oh hey, they rhyme). 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Homecoming Part 2: Is all hope gone?

Due to lack of interest and the constant slandering and complaining, I have shunted myself from any news about my motherland. I'm not surprised that it eventually led to this, because after living in this country for three years, I have become accustomed to some of the norms and culture that is expected of me. My culture is still preserved; I still speak my language at home or when I am with my Filipino family, friends, and acquaintances. However, current news in that country is the one thing that I want to stay away from, despite living there my entire life and have a community of relatives and friends that I grew up with. 

It's not my fault. To be indifferent and unconcerned never crossed my mind before migrating and leaving my home land for good. But what can I do? The more I learn about the culture and history of this progressive, first world society, I unconsciously compare it to the deteriorating third world country that I grew up in. It sounds arrogant if one thinks about it, but honestly, I'm not the only one who have these thoughts that cross their mind. Despite all these hatred I convey to the people around me everyday and some posts here in my blog, there is still a trickle of hope that there would be change. Unlike my friend who believes that all hope is gone, he even humourly suggested that the country should be wiped out to begin a new one. Again, he was just kidding. I apologize if I offended anyone. But whenever we have these discourses, we always come to a consensus: the people should change. 

I believe that the Philippines will develop. I have hope that the country would flourish. I want people to practice their rights, to initiate the change themselves especially if the government is useless. If structural reformation is what the country needs (and very badly, considering the current situation of politics in that country), then the people should do something about it, as quoted by Tindal and Tindal in their book, Local Government in Canada (55). If the developed countries today were able to do it in the past, then I think the Philippines could do it. All they have to do is to take the initiative. One has to be a better person first, by being knowledgeable and successful through hard work and perseverance. 

That said, I need to hit the books for some reading (more like skimming. heh.) for tomorrow's class. It's been a while since I've updated this blog, and I miss posting here. I actually have some pending posts I haven't finished yet, and I can't wait to publish them because they're mostly about movies that I like. So this is just a quick post to remind myself that I have a blog. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Think about the children

I wouldn't consider this a literary piece, only a post that I randomly thought of while reading about the right wing government in a municipality. This one is a really, really quick post, before I dive back into the right wing and finish a novel for tomorrow. And also, I missed my blog. Hence this post.

Think about the children who were born with illiterate parents. It was not their fault that they were brought to this world by these people. Their parents are only human beings, and there is a reason why they are not able to read and write; it maybe because of poverty, an irresponsible government, a war-stricken area, or they are just not cut for education. 

So why were they born then? To help the parents earn more money for the family. 

Do they have a choice? No. They are children. They are powerless. Young. Innocent. And vulnerable. 

But do they really have a choice? If given the chance. The opportunity to wake up at the crack of dawn and walk a few kilometers to school just to learn a new lesson each day. To play with friends and experience the joys of being a student. To be reprimanded by their teacher because it is the teacher's right to differentiate and identify what is right and wrong. To write words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories that are made of their wild imaginations. To read a book that would bring them to a new world of the unknown. To speak words and a language that unites a nation together. And to listen intently to a person and focus on what they are saying and argue if possible. At the end of the day, they'll be going back to their warm homes, walking the same distance that they have walked that morning. Making a few stops here and there, greeting the familiar faces that they pass by. 

Their day doesn't end there. Homework has to be done, or else the teacher would be angry. Aside from the homework, little brother needs to be fed first because the parents are away working. To top it off, the oil lamp ran out of oil so a candle has to be used while reading the assigned homework that is due for tomorrow. 

But what if they are not given a choice? Then it's back to work. Standing under the scorching heat of the sun for a whole day, seeing children who are on their way to and away from school, jealous at them for having the privilege. Would give anything just to take the role of a student once again. 

The late nights? It's the same as going to a party that lasts until dawn. 

The readings that are either on the internet or on a book? Having the internet is like getting a cellphone. It's not unusual anymore. Don't read books? Be grateful they are still printed and there are trees to use. 

The pressure of having to manage time between school, work, home, social life and extracurricular activities? Big deal. There are some children who work in the fields and mountains all day. 

Instructor is not worth the bucks? At least there is someone who's standing in front of you. 

So everytime you feel like giving up, don't. Some still think of education as a privilege, and perceiving it as the worst time of you life, think about the children who are always wishing, wishing under the stars, to their God, to their parents, to the society, to the government, that someday, they would have a chance to go back to school and be a normal kid again.

(Forget revising. I am tired.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

sharing some SP love

I have this post in my other blog but that was more than a year ago and more personal. Seeing that I always miss listening to them even though I've got three of their albums ripped into my laptop and synced to my iPod, I thought of giving them this post since they deserve it as well as they are one of my favorite bands of the 90's. 

To kick start the new year, I've got The Smashing Pumpkins as my first (long-delayed) post.

I was lucky that I found three of their albums in this place. I had a hard time searching for it in the Philippines back then, so I had to resort to another option. So you can just imagine my happiness and excitement when I saw three of their albums in one of the music stores on this area.

Why do I like the Smashing Pumpkins? Well, first off, the lyrics. I think Billy Corgan is one of the best songwriters I've known, for he writes it like a poem, with deep and meaningful words behind them. And I think poets understand their fellow poets. Afterall, poets' minds think alike. Okay, don't listen to me, I made that up. His lyrics can also be used as a topic in English class where the students talk about the form and content of one song, say, Mayonnaise from Siamese Dream, and how the content and form work together to create meaning for the song. And when he and James Iha collaborate on a song (or with Jimmy Chamberlain and D'arcy Wretzky), they create beautiful lyrics that define Smashing Pumpkins.

As for the music, you can't go wrong with Billy's smooth and husky vocals with backgrounds from the womanly voice of D'arcy. James does his solos too in some songs, and his low voice adds depth and (should I say it?) melancholy to the song. Their genre is mainly alternative rock, and judging on their singles it is not surprising that some of them are as heavy as the rock music of the late 80's. What I love about the Smashing Pumpkins is that some of their songs are really, really mellow and sweet, it sounds (and feels) like a love song. Well, I categorize them as one because that's what I feel when I listen to their music. Especially if its written by Billy and James. 

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness pretty much says it all. It has some 'loud' songs as well (an SP trademark), but the ''love and slow'' songs stand out too. Which, in my opinion, is really nice. And soothing to the ears. This 2-disc album was released in 1995 has around 28 songs. I love the Siamese Dream album as well, and I got nothing bad to say about it, since this was the first album that I listened to back then. Siamese Dream was the first album that introduced me to the world of SP, and it didn't stop me to just listen to their songs in that album. It piqued my curiosity because of the melodies and the lyrics that that I sought for their old albums. Adore didn't have much impact on me, I guess being the third album that I bought, for it did not have the "life" that Siamese Dream had, nor the nostalgic and melancholic feeling like in Mellon Collie. There are some songs that are worth listening to, while the others can be marked as average SP music. 

I'm not forcing anyone to listen to their music because they are the best artists in the world. However, if you ever become interested, I suggest that you try listening from their old albums first, because first of all, I haven't listened to their new albums yet and second, I personally like their old albums better. Which... doesn't really prove my point that didn't even make sense to begin with. I mean, it's your choice. Listen to what you want to listen.