Monday, May 16, 2011


We live in an old house. From far-flung places in Asia, our forefathers came to build this house with their blood, sweat and tears. For centuries, they’ve lived prosperously in this house. They’ve planted trees around it, the fruits of which we now consume. They painted it with regal color, made sure that it looked good to those who passed by. They even put a fence around it to protect it from those who tried to take over the house. There was a time when another family took over the house and our forefathers were turned into mere tenants. But with their blood, sweat and tears, they rose up against these “invaders” and push them out of their household.

I have plenty of brothers and sisters, some have come and gone and there will be more to come. I have brothers and sisters who witnessed our forefathers’ struggle and fought with them. But there are brothers and sisters who were born after the struggle, who did not experience the hardship and the pain they’ve been through. And as our house aged through time, so they were. Some of them felt that this house is too small and too old for them. They started feeling insecure. They felt that the fences that our forefathers built can no longer protect them. Others felt there wasn’t enough fruit from the trees. They started looking out the window, dreaming they lived in a bigger, much nicer house.

Soon they grew up. These brothers and sister have left the house in search of greener pastures. One of them writes to me. He says he’s now a professor at a prestigious university, in a place called the United States,  that he’s now living a good life, with beautiful wife and charming children. I remember how our forefather toiled to send him to school. He was the first summa cum laude in Electrical Engineering in this house. Another, a sister, is now a famous fashion designer, also in the United States. She designs clothes for famous celebrities in a place called Hollywood. She now has a good husband and child.

Most of the brothers and sisters who stayed in the house were proud of those who left. I am not sure what to feel though. How can I feel proud when they can’t even visit the house, let alone care for its crumbling structure or send some of my brothers and sisters to school?

I don’t want to see this house go. I can’t imagine myself living in another house, with different neighbors, different “brothers and sisters”. My forefathers dreamt of this house to be one of the most beautiful and most prosperous homes in this part of the world. It would be sad to let that dream go. I want that dream to come true, not just for them but for my own children, and their children as well.

And so, even though I live in an old house,  I try as much to make it last, to make it strong, prosperous and beautiful. I take time to water the trees, sweep its “dirty” yard, fortify its fences. I’d repaint the crumbling colors, I’d fix the broken ceilings and floors, I’d wash every nook and cranny of dirt and mold. I will protect this house from the elements, even if it means shedding my own blood, sweat and tears. If no one’s going to do it, who else will? That is why I am here in the first place.

The work will be hard. Even the brothers and sisters who are with me now aren’t always cooperating. Some don’t even want to wash the plates, do the laundry, or sweep the floor. But that won’t weaken my resolve. I have to do what I have to do, even if I had to discipline them with my words, let them be ashamed of what they are doing to our forefather's house. Perhaps that will make them realize that they have a role to play too.

I live in an old house. But for the length of time I’ve been here, for the amount of effort I exerted to maintain this house and for the love I have for my brothers and sisters, this is more than just an old house. This is my home, and I guess you know what it is right now. My home is the Republic of the Philippines.

For those who never left...mabuhay kayo! THE SOCIAL SCIENTIST

Monday, May 2, 2011


THIS IS PERHAPS THE FASTEST FIVE DAYS IN WORLD HISTORY. From April 27 to May 1, we've been bombarded with large chunks of news and information on TV and the Internet about currents events that were too big to digest. First was the release of US President Obama's birth certificate which finally silenced conspiracy theorists who poked doubts to his citizenship. Then came the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, which was followed soon after by the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. But the biggest news came Sunday, when President Obama announced to the world that US forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

It took almost a decade to hunt and kill the brainchild of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, which perpetrated and propagated the ideology of global jihad in many parts of the globe. From New York to Mumbai, from Marrakesh to Manila, terrorism spread like wildfire and wrecked havoc on the lives of thousands of innocent people. Bin laden had successfully created a franchise out of killing people in the name of religion. Despite his death, this franchise will continue to exist as long as the ideology is there, the same way communism and atheism exists today. The War on Terror doesn't end here and now. But I am sure, it is the beginning of the end.

Just like Bin Laden, all of us who love peace and progress, who value community and good relationships must create a "franchise of goodness" to counter his network of terror. We teachers are ever more relevant in the War on Terror now as we have to moral responsibility to affect the minds of people deceived by this ideology. As teachers, we now have a greater task of instilling values of love to young people -- love for self, for fellow people, for country and for God (whichever God we are praying to) -- as well as values of humility, tolerance, patience, perseverance, respect, trust, generosity, and many more.

And so I urge the rest of the world to do the opposite of what people in Times Square and Pennsylvania Avenue has done. I suggest that we pray that God forgive Osama bin Laden, no matter what his wrongdoings were. Forgiveness, I believe, is still the best way to get closure, not violence. Forgiving the Face of Global Terrorism scores a victory better than a shot in the head.

My condolences to the bereaved family of Osama bin Laden. TSS
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