Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions: Why We Make and Break Them

Resolutions. We often make them as each year comes to a close. But most of the time we break them too.

I bet you can still remember the countless activities you decided to quit or avoid, or the activities that you made a firm conviction to start doing or uphold. Maybe you decided to quit smoking and start daily exercise. Perhaps you promised to spend more time with family, and start saving up for a grand vacation with the family. The classic one is to reduce the fat by starting a healthy diet.

I bet you can also remember the countless of reasons that went through your mind for breaking your promise.

Why do we continue to make resolutions despite our constant habit of breaking them?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On Rizal and His Legacy

The Rizal Execution monument at Luneta Park, Manila
Rizal is already a household name.

Everywhere you go around the metro, you'll see his name on a street sign, or a school. We have Rizal Avenue, Rizal High School, and Rizal Province. There is the famed Jose Rizal University, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and the Rizal Memorial Coliseum. During our school days, we remember people who were named Rizalyn, Josephine, and the likes. I remember, there was this professor in our university whose first name was Jose Rizal. My aunt, who was born today, is also aptly named Josephine.

Rizal is a favorite among the youth. When asked who their national hero is, the first thing that pops in the mind of an adolescent is him. Well, who couldn't remember? If a child asks for a peso ("Nay, penge piso!"), the first person s/he sees is our national hero. And Rizal seems to have a penchant for the youth as well. "The youth is the hope of the motherland", goes his most popular quoted statement. And yet, if you ask the youth what they know of Rizal, aside from being our national hero, what would they say? Do the youth still know what is his legacy to the generation of today?

I grew up reading about Rizal and his exploits as a young boy in Calamba and as a young man in strange Europe. I am very much knowledgeable of his struggles both as a writer and freethinker. And I know very well the circumstances that led to his death in Bagumbayan that fateful day in 1896. Being interested in history and the social sciences, I was very keen about knowing all the stuff about him.

But what is the implication Rizal's life, works and struggles to a young student taking up, say, engineering, or mathematics? Or how about to a cigarette vendor or an out-of-school youth? Will they able to relate everything he lived up to in their own lives? They're gonna have a struggle of their own.

Nationalism is a coercion of the State, a friend of mine once said, and I believe that. The State forces everyone to study how our heroes struggled to achieve independence for our motherland and to love our country as we love ourselves. It was for this prime reason that Rizal is a mandatory subject in college (and perhaps the most boring for a majority). And yet, despite this coercion, many are still ignorant or indifferent of what it means to be a Filipino. And people still fly away to other countries yearly, for better working opportunities if not for more comfortable lives.

Therefore, for me, nationalism should not be forced upon us. Nationalism is defined as love of one's motherland. Thus, the core of nationalism should be love. But how do you make the study of history focus on this perennial value? How do you make students love Rizal? The challenge lies with our teachers. Instead of teaching trivial facts about Rizal's life, works and struggles, I believe we must focus on enduring understandings of his principles in life -- his legacy to our nation.

What is Rizal's legacy to our generation?

Since his childhood, Rizal has shown this can-do spirit. He was a boy advanced in learning  compared to his contemporaries. At a young age, he was well-versed and skilled in writing and also showed potential for leadership. As a physician and ophthalmologist, he contributed to the betterment of the well-being of his patrons in Hong Kong, Calamba, and Dapitan. As an artist, he sculpted and painted some of the finest works of art a Filipino can make. He even translated some of Europe's famed literature for the enjoyment of the children of his time. He has traveled the world before his thirties and has crossed paths with some of the respected and well-known minds of his time such as Feodor Jagor and Ferdinand Blumentritt to name a few. He has written two full novels detailing the condition of the Philippines under Spanish and had died at a ripe age of 35 due to his freethinking activities.

Rizal had done all this. And what he would like us to know is that we can do it too. We can be heroes in our own right, in our own time. He is a hero not because of family, or circumstance. Bonifacio is a hero too and yet he was from humble beginnings. Rizal only meant to say that even while young, it is possible for the youth to achieve what it envisions for itself and for its people. And we have some young heroes in our midst today, people like 2009 CNN Hero of the Year Efren PeƱaflorida who has helped the slums of Cavite City get an education, artists like Pepe Diokno who at a young age of 22 has won the Biennale, the top award in the Venice International Film Festival for his film Engkwentro.

Rizal did it in his own lifetime. We can do it. The youth is a force to reckon with. It is just a matter of uniting and directing our energies for the betterment of our society.

Let us remember Rizal today in your own and humble way!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010: A Year to Forget?

Miss Universe 2010 4th runner up Maria Venus Raj and the Philippine Azkals

It's amazing how a word which is spelled by only four digits would hold a lot of events that changed human society, especially for the Philippines. A lot has happened in our country these past twelve months which really challenged and tested our resolve as a nation. I could say these events have united us on certain occasions and have also divided us. But nevertheless, whatever these events have done to us, the only common and most important thing that these events did were to change our consciousness of things around us.

Friday, December 24, 2010

On The Filipino Christmas

I woke up this morning with a rumbling discomfort in my tummy followed by the urge to use the toilet. After a couple of trips, I was turning pale and soon enough I started vomiting. My frantic grandmother and her henchwoman (our lavandera, who was asked to assist in cooking Noche Buena) immediately panicked after I told them, and I was rushed to a nearby lying-in clinic where they gave me an anti-vomiting shot and tablets of Loperamide and Cotrimoxazole.

Not a very nice way to start the Christmas Eve day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On Reunions and Get-Togethers

Nothing beats the joy of seeing old friends again after such a long time.

Last night, December 22, our class of Social Science majors met up again for a reunion three years after graduation. The venue was a popular seaside complex known for its assortment of restaurants that cater to paluto of various seafood and other Filipino dishes.

Left: Seaside Paluto Restaurants along Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City.

Monday, December 20, 2010

To Err or Not to Err?

You have read from my first post about the errors found in the newly redesigned Philippine banknotes and of the plethora of criticisms it garnered. After posting that article I scouted Facebook once gain, particularly the GMA News profile page for more comments on the issue and I was stunned at the massive turnout. But it is more than just the turnout because what makes it more stunning is the variety of perspectives that the commentators presented.

I tried classifying these comments based on their similarities in perspectives. I might not be accurate about this since this just how I observed it.

The Language of the Redesigned Philippine Currency

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has released the new design of Philippine currency which will be in circulation this December 2010. While it receive a lot of acclaim for its colorful and fresh designs, it also garnered some bit of criticism. These include errors in the geographical location of some of the tourist spots presented and inaccuracies in the portrayal of some of the animals and places featured within.

One of the criticisms I read in the many discussions about it in Facebook came from my best friend who just happens to be a big fan of Filipino discourse and literature. He questioned the inconsistent use of Filipino in the bills. If you will look at the designs of the bills below, you can clearly see the code switching -- Filipino in naming the denomination but English in identifying the various people, places, events and animals presented.

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