Showing posts from December, 2007

Hope amid despair

This is my column today.

A New Year begins tomorrow.

There is something about New Year’s Eve that tug at the proverbial heartstrings of our lives. It’s a bittersweet occasion as we take stock of everything that happened in the year that’s about to end, perhaps draw lessons from them, or at least celebrate—perhaps even mourn—all the big and little things that came to pass and brought us to the present.

And there were many things that happened in 2007 that we can or should draw lessons from. After all, the changing of the year is not just a bookmark of passing time. It’s an occasion for reflection and an opportunity to make resolutions. Theoretically, at least, since we know that keeping resolutions has become harder and harder each year for many among us, most especially our leaders who seem to be getting more and more inept and corrupt each year.

Allow me to wallow a little bit in sentimental drivel and express the same wistful observation that was verbalized by a number of my friends in …

An SMS Christmas to All!

This is my column today.

Academic integrity is a big deal at the college where I teach, which is what it should really be. An academic institution that turns a blind eye to plagiarism has no business conferring academic degrees and distributing diplomas.

This, of course, means hard—very, verrrry hard—work for professors, particularly thesis advisers who not only need to brush off on practically every empirical work produced on the subject of the theses one’s advisees are working on. Fortunately, there are all kinds of databases available nowadays. It makes the job more convenient, although still not easier. Kids today are just so much more creative and resourceful particularly when it comes to “improving” on others’ works.

My co-professors and I have turned to making jokes about the whole thing. One of our running jokes is that we know if the work is original if the grammar is awful and the whole thing just does not make sense regardless of the amount of deciphering one has already inves…

Finding meaning in the season

This is my column today. Merry Christmas everyone!

When did it all get so complicated?

I don’t claim to speak for all work drones and harassed parents out there, but this was an observation that has been top of mind in the last few days as I valiantly struggled to catch up with the Christmas rush.

I know, I know. This person who had been harping about how some strategic thinking on the part of our leaders could have saved this country from the many tragic events that had become a natural part of our existence waited until the last minute to do his Christmas shopping and organize his Christmas schedule. What can I say, whoever was responsible for spreading the proverbial Christmas cheer must have dropped me from the list this year. I just woke up one morning last week and realized Christmas was barely a few days away, I had to catch up or there would be hell to pay from kith and kin.

In the middle of the shopping, the gift-wrapping, the pigging out, the partying, and the million and one th…

Becoming the change we want to see

This was my column yesterday. Sorry for the late post; am in the middle of the Christmas rush, which has been compounded by yearend reports at work and the usual end-of-term requirements at school. Sigh. Immediately after the column came out, I got a text message from a friend who put me to task for not pointing out something else which she thinks the Brothers should focus on if they intend to live up to their role as formators and educators: Call on their alumni to pay the right taxes and to pay the legal minimum wages.

There are many reasons, both spiritual and traditional, why Christmas should be a welcome respite. At the very least, the spirit of goodwill should be enough reason for people to be generally nicer, kinder and perhaps more tolerant of other people’s shortcomings, both perceived and real. It should be enough reason to allow some people some slack, even for just a short spell.

Unfortunately, the proverbial Christmas cheer seems to be running late this year. I don’t k…

Don't be victimized by e-mail scams

This is my column today.

I am sure everyone with an e-mail account, which I suppose covers more than half of the population, has received one of those urgent e-mails from some beleaguered heir to a fortune, in some exotic country in the African continent. These scam messages flood inboxes every day.

The general drift of these e-mails is the same. The sender has access to millions of dollars festering in some back account and tied up in legal gobbledygook. The sender begs for your cooperation—actually, for your complicity—in having the money wired to your personal back account, which you are asked to provide. In exchange, the sender promises part of the loot as reward for your assistance.

These e-mails were usually crafted in terribly fractured English, which ordinarily was enough reason to ignore them. After all, one has to be utterly naïve to send an e-mail with an absurd topic like “your kindly assistance” even a cursory once over.

The scam used to be about some unheard and usually ludi…

When copycats do better

This is my column today.

We are a country that takes immense pride in the innate musicality of our people. We supply singers and dancers to the rest of the world; our reservoir of talent seems bottomless. It is surprising that we don’t take efforts to hone skills in this area more seriously. Is it because we don’t see performing arts as serious business?

If rumors are true, the new seasons of the hit television shows “Philippine Idol” and “Pinoy Dream Academy” will begin in a few weeks’ time. Philippine Idol will be aired on GMA-7 while Pinoy Dream Academy will be on ABS-CBN. Both shows are singing competitions that are also supposedly, if we are to believe the press release of the networks, educational platforms designed to help instruct viewers on the finer points of performing.

The shows will be on competing networks so we expect fireworks to erupt as they assert dominance in the ratings game. Under ordinary circumstances, competition should be a good thing and should redound to the…

Saving private high schools

This is my column today.

High school can be the most exciting or the most trying period in one’s life. It’s around then when everything seems to happen, and worse, seemingly all at the same time.

To begin with, one has to contend with the many physical changes happening to one’s body. I was barely 11 when I became a frosh so my growth spurt, including an embarrassing bout with acne, all happened when I was in high school. Then there are the emotional challenges and entanglements magnified by inexperience and confusion such as falling in love for the first time, or (arrgh!) having one’s young heart broken. It’s the time when hormones are going haywire; the time when parents become such a royal pain in the posterior with their restrictions and their seeming insensitivity to the needs and concerns of adolescents grappling with growing up issues.
And as if these weren’t enough, there are the serious athletic and academic requirements that one has to hurdle as well. It’s in high school when o…

Dealing with shakedown cops

This is my column today.

Now that the threat has dissipated—or at least we think so—and we are finally allowed to bask in anticipation of the holiday season, it seems people have moved on to other things.

I originally meant to continue where I left off last Monday and write about the implications of last Thursday’s failed efforts to wrestle control of Malacañang via the posh confines of the Peninsula Manila. Quite incongruous, I know. Street parliamentarians battle Manila’s noxious gases, play patintero with jeepneys and buses, expose themselves to the scorching heat of the sun and depend on the kindness of strangers for sustenance. The members of the New People Army survive on kamote and suffer the harshest living conditions possible.

Trillanes and Company do it in style. They simply take a whole five-star hotel hostage. Why suffer the elements when one can swagger around in air-conditioned surroundings, commandeer function rooms, order room service, and enjoy world-class amenities?


Inflated egos

This is my column today.

It’s a wonder the Manila Peninsula did not blow up on account of the massive concentration of highly inflated egos that converged there last Thursday.

When we come down to it, that whole caper was propped up primarily by—in fact probably by nothing else but—a fallacious sense of self-importance so tremendous to the point of being delusional. Consider the events.

A military general and a renegade senator, both already on trial for rebellion, walked out of a courtroom in the middle of a hearing, marched to the Makati commercial district, forcibly took over a five-star hotel, and all throughout the whole surreal chain of events actually proclaimed moral superiority and righteousness.

Heck, forget about breaking laws. Antonio Trillanes IV, Danilo Lim, and their cohorts broke laws, yes; but that’s the least of the problem. What was worse —what was grossly unsettling to the point of absurdity—was that they did so wantonly, brazenly, and in the most arrogant manner possi…