NO ONE ELSE BUT US
27th November, 2009. 9:11 am. FAIR GAME
Last Monday (November 23) our standing in the eyes of the world sunk even further after the Maguindanao Massacre. I will no longer review the details of that event. One only has to go to the newspapers and find the gory details. All said, around sixty persons perished. And it happened because for the first time since 2001, someone dared to challenge the ruling dynasty in that place.
This is not the first time Maguindanao came into the spotlight. In 2007, just before the senatorial elections, GMA7 was suppose to feature the Ampatuans on a public affairs program to show how nothing has changed in the province in the six years of the Ampatuan dynastic rule. That program never got the chance to air because some judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) when the Ampatuan’s claimed that their side was never taken by the station. GMA7, on the other hand claimed that it tried to interview the Ampatuans but their requests had been denied. The TRO issue died down and the Ampatuans went on to win the elections in their fiefdom. They also delivered a 12-0 vote for Team Unity, when almost the entire country went opposition. Several teachers in the province afterwards claimed that no elections took place in the province and that the results were already completed even before the polls in the rest of the country took place. Those teachers since rescinded their comments or were gunned down. Something which also happened during the controversial 2004 elections where Fernando Poe Jr., a very popular and even mythic figure in Muslim Mindanao got clobbered by President Gloria Arroyo.
By then, the country should have realized that something very sinister was happening in that province. But we Filipinos have very short memories and when the next telenovela was premiered, we forgot all about Maguindanao, and went on with our lives. Since then, Maguindanao’s population became poorer and nine years hence, the Ampatuans still have nothing to show the country in terms of progress in their turf. You can sometimes forgive other dynasties for being around forever because at the very least, you can see the progress in their provinces. I went to Ilocos Sur recently and while I have no admiration whatsoever for Chavit Singson, one cannot deny that he did a lot for his province too. The roads are good, businesses abound (although there are claims that the Singsons own many of these), and one couldn’t sense the fear usually associated with warlords. Even the people I talked too spoke highly of Mr. Singson and told me that when he tries to get back his post next year, they would vote for him. The same thing happened when I went to Davao City. We have heard of the disturbing news that criminals vanished in that city under the watch of its eternal mayor, Rodrigo Duterte. But Davao City is certainly the Queen of Mindanao. I never felt afraid walking its streets even in the late hours of the night because I knew that I was safe. Police presence was high and most of its taxi drivers were disciplined. When I asked some citizens what they thought about Duterte and his dubious human rights record, they simply told me that only criminals should fear the mayor and that they would vote him into office over and over again.
What do the Ampatuans have to show after nine years of uncontested rule and billions of pesos in pork barrel funds, internal revenue allotments and foreign aid?
Fifty-nine bodies and counting. That’s what they have achieved. And that’s simply the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Who knows how many more bodies have been buried all throughout Maguindanao? Those fifty-nine mutilated bodies best sums up the achievements of the Ampatuans. One could perhaps understand if those fifty-nine bodies belonged to armed men of another politician’s private army. But pregnant women, journalists and lawyers? As Manuel Quezon III correctly pointed out in his column, the Ampatuans have removed the traditional shields of Philippine society. If the government doesn’t see that justice is served, then it sends a message to all dynasties and warlords that it’s now open season. Women, babies, children, journalists, grandparents, bystanders – all of them are fair game now.
All of us are fair game too.
We, the citizens, cannot be in denial and say that that could only happen in Mindanao. It’s lawless Mindanao where a band of thieves continue kidnapping teachers, where a Muslim insurgency cries foul when the military displaces the population but remains quiet when fellow Muslims butcher defenceless people. Mindanao after all, is too far away. The TV serves as a buffer for all that violence. No, my dear citizens. If it can happen to them, it can happen to us too.
And for the first time in a long while, I am so afraid.
4th August, 2009. 9:21 am. Three Encounters with Cory
Three Encounters with Cory
Why am I so affected by Cory’s death? What stake do I have now that she is gone? Did I have any memories of her aside from those which I watched on the television and read in the newspapers and magazines?
Grief is a very private matter. But Cory’s death has turned into a public one. I will never be ashamed to say that I have been crying since the weekend over her death. In my previous entry, I described how this simple housewife redefined the meaning of the color yellow. People might say this is such a forgettable feat; it doesn’t really come close to her achievements. I agree. But we all have to start somewhere. I mean, how could I be grieving so much when I hardly knew the former president and democratic icon?
I have seen in person three of the four post-EDSA presidents. I saw FVR during an EDSA II rally. I shook hands with GMA in 2002 as she came out of a movie house. I have seen Cory Aquino, on three occasions.
But before going to those three encounters, let me tell you about the assassinated mayor of Zamboanga City, my mayor - Cesar Climaco.
Mayor Climaco was the first public official who entered my consciousness. I still didn’y understand what mayors were supposed to do. All I knew was that they were important. I imagined them either in suits or in barong tagalogs all the time. Stiff, formal men who bossed everyone around them. I imagined that they had to have very loud and intimidating voices. But Mayor Climaco was different. I met him at church. I was still too young to take communion but I accompanied my mother when she lined up to receive the Eucharist. Sometimes, as we came back from communion, I would pass by a silver-haired man who often garbed himself in jeans and a white shirt. He would smile at me, take my hand and when I opened my hand, there would be two pieces of candy in them. He did this for all the kids he met as he lined up for communion. Then, after the mass, he would disappear from our view. When I asked my mother who the kind old man was, she told me that he was the city mayor. Imagine my shock upon learning that our mayor went to church like everyone else, more often than not stood at the back (instead of commandeering the front pews), and rode off in a motorcycle unaccompanied by any security detail. That I think crystallized the image of what a leader must be. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I wanted to be like him. I met him at other times as well. Sometimes at the beach, and once in Abong-abong where he let me ride in his jeep so that I didn’t have to walk to the top. I guess my infrequent trips to Abong-abong these days is my way of trying to recapture the joy I felt when I first got a glimpse of the breathtaking view of the city below. But what I would never forget was the day when I learned about his assassination. It was my first encounter with death. When we went to his wake, I noticed that his shirt was bloody. People were openly crying as they viewed his broken remains. His assassination remains unsolved until this day. My mother explained that it was the mayor’s wish that he be buried in the clothes that he died in. There was rage in the streets. Rage, fear, and grief. He was assassinated in 1983 – the same year Cory’s husband was killed. His funeral, held at Pasonanca Park, saw tens of thousands of people assembling in the area as early as three in the morning. I know, I was there. When he was finally laid to rest, I cried with my mother. It seemed as if I had lost a grandfather. Mayor Climaco radiated inner light. He too was a fierce opponent of the Marcos regime. He loved and took care of his fellow citizens and let me just say that he was already a monument even before he had fallen.
This is the very reason I think why I naturally gravitated towards Cory Aquino. My first encounter with her occurred in January, 1986 when she went to Zamboanga to campaign for the Snap Elections. As early as six am, we lined the streets leading to the airport in order to catch a glimpse of the woman who had dared face the monster who was savaging this land. And when I saw her, in her signature yellow dress, I leapt with joy, called out her name and flashed the Laban sign. Her simplicity, her sincerity, her steel attracted a lot of us to side with her. Even from afar, I could see that she too, like the fallen mayor, radiated a lot of inner light. In fact, she had more of it. She won in Zamboanga City by a huge margin. I was eight then.
I was in grade school when I next saw her in person. I was a student of Ateneo de Zamboanga then. I’m not really sure whether I was in Grade three or Grade four. What I do remember was that our teachers started herding us out of our classrooms and into the gyms. We had a surprise waiting for us. So there we were, sweltering inside the gym. While our attention spans were still longer than those of the subsequent generations, we were getting restive. And then she showed up. Once more in her signature yellow, Cory Aquino stood before us and talked to us. Imagine, the President of the Philippines took some time off to be with us. Imagine our surprise, our delight, as the icon of our new found freedom found a way to be with the youth. Unfortunately, much of what she said is lost in the tricky confines of my memory. However, I do remember her saying that “the gift of freedom we now enjoy was paid for by a heavy price” and that our generation’s gift is to make sure that we would never lose it again.
The last time I saw Cory was during the EDSA 2, January 19, 2001. Before she spoke, the crowd simply went through the motions. The most enthusiastic group was composed of the militants who kept egging the crowd to chant their slogans. The crowd was losing its interest and some were trying to get out (probably go to Robinson’s for food and a toilet break). And then she came on stage. I felt her presence as it calmed down the restive crowd. She was garbed in black this time – the color of that movement. When she stood in front of us, the crowd went wild, chanting her name and flashing the now-passe Laban sign (because the newer generations simply make the L-sign, place it upon their foreheads and you have a whole new meaning). A man beside us started shouting Kuri-pot! He stopped when we all glared at him. Cory once more demonstrated the powers of simplicity as she simply called on an inept president to step down from his post. (Cory would later make a de-facto apology to Erap about EDSA 2 and her critics were quick to pounce upon her. While I did not agree with her apology, I guess I understood it, because Erap’s replacement perhaps reminded her of the enemy she defeated in 1986.) Cory did have her magic. But it wasn’t borne out of spells, potions, vanishing and appearing votes, or Garci. Her magic was her ability to get her message in very simple words. Cory had the charisma to hold crowds together. Furthermore, she had the moral authority to talk on these issues.
I guess I gravitated towards Cory because she was a statesman. We can count using the fingers of our hands how many statesmen we have right now. When Cory showed up, you knew that you were fighting the right fight. True, it might not succeed. True, it might not draw the numbers which the current administration keeps on flaunting. Mahatma Gandhi once said that while the right causes do not always prosper, it doesn’t mean that we should abandon what it right out of convenience.
These are the three encounters, the three thin threads, which allow me to hold on to Cory. True, I may not have the intimacy that those who worked for her did. But you have to admit, that from an objective, outsider’s viewpoint – she managed to inject herself into my consciousness.
When you look at it, Cory’s magic had always been her simplicity. She didn’t have Marcos’ eloquence. She didn’t have Imelda’s grandness. And she was always willing to fight even though she was alone. Cory, in essence, fit the Filipinos’ expectations of its heroes.
She was an underdog.
And we have shown time and time again, that we embrace underdogs with all our hearts.
3rd August, 2009. 10:12 am. The Color Yellow (first of three parts)
The color yellow has been on my mind since Saturday. I am depressed because I don't have a yellow shirt. Instead, I have to use the traditional black shirt to express my grief for the passing of a woman who mattered a lot not only to this nation, but to me.
Yes, I grieve for Cory Aquino. I am not ashamed to state that I was crying over the weekend since I learned of her death. I downloaded "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo" the music video which best summed up EDSA I. And I shed tears some more.
It's strange actually. I guess it helped that it has been raining since her death. Perhaps, even heaven too is crying for her - weeping for a woman called to save her country during its darkest moment. A woman whose story was greater than that of David's, or Roland's. Because Roland has a sword, David had a slingshot; Mrs. Aquino only had the color yellow.
The color yellow has always been linked to cowardice. Even today, yellow still retains its reputation as the color of cowards. Whenever I look at colors, I always find two colors which almost always have no positive connotations. We have black of course which is almost always linked to death, and yellow which is linked with cowardice. Sometimes, yellow can mean happiness; black on the other hand is fashionable. (Black is my personal favorite, while yellow is my second favorite.)
But Cory changed the meaning of yellow. For us Filipinos, it will always be the color of courage. Cory managed to totally alter the long-held meaning of a color. That showed a lot about the kind of person that she was. In my mind, Cory Aquino redifined us too as a people the very way she redefined the meaning of yellow. She redefined us not by threatening us, not by charming us, not by bribing us, not by building useless buildings, not by staying in office beyond her term. She redefined our nation by being herself: simple, sincere, faithful.
I guess people reacted to Cory not only because of her signature yellow, but because she radiated an inner light - something which also touched people, something which made us want to believe in ourselves again. Cory showed us that we don't need to have extraordinary powers to do extraordinary things. She inspired us to fight back only with flowers, clenched fists, and prayers. Cory compelled us to look for that inner light within ourselves - that the same light would help dissipate the darkness around us. And for a nation so fractuous as ours, Cory managed to unite us.
Not everybody will agree with me, of course. Some will point to Hacienda Luisita and the failure of CARP as some of the stains in Cory Aquino's legacy. Some will point to the Mendiola massacre which happened during her watch. So show me then a hero who doesn't have dirt in his or her life. Show me the souls of those who martyred themselves for the causes that mattered, show me a saint who hasn't sinned. If one wants to find dirt, one will always find it simply by digging deeper. So no. I do not accept Cory's failures as blots against her legacy. In fact, her failures make her grand in my eyes. Because they simply show us her humanity.
The color of the new hero is yellow. Because yellow acknowledges our fear. But it also tells us that we can rise above it.
This is the end of the first part of my eulogy for Cory Aquino. Tomorrow, I will talk about three encounters with the National icon.
2nd August, 2009. 6:19 pm. Postmortem: A Tribute to Cory Aquino
Starting tomorrow until Wednesday, I shall be posting articles about Cory Aquino. Marcos loyalists, please refrain from posting your comments. When it comes to Mrs. Aquino, I am wholly biased for her. So no amount of dirt you can dig can tarnish her image in my mind. After all, the dirt she had could not even reach 1% or the dirt that Marcos had. You add Imelda's dirt and Cory's dirt is just a speck in that sea of dirt. Until tomorrow...
24th March, 2009. 8:45 am. THIS IS AFRICA, TOO
Europe is the past, Asia is the future, America is in the heart, but Africa is everywhere.
In films and novels set in the “Dark Continent”, when a character tries to make sense of the absurdities that occur around him, another character simply says, “This is Africa”. No further explanation is given. It may be an unfair statement, but even Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus’ novels and short stories suggest the same thing. Set mostly in the former French colony of Algeria, Camus’ stories suggest that his characters, mostly decent men or men who simply want to be left alone, are often victims of the continent’s long shadow. They try to run away from such situations or simply try to make things better but they end up in Catch 22s. No matter how idealistic, or simple, or cynical they may be, they are still astounded by the senselessness that touches their lives. They try to find logical explanations, but logic cannot be applied to a continent where rules are rewritten the moment they are made. Only one rule in Africa applies: those who can, can.
Whether the stories are set in the deserts of the north, the forests in the center, the diamond mines of the south, and the slums everywhere, the absurdities of Africa are far-reaching. No amount of international aid seems to have helped it. The newly-open category of the 4th World seems to accept only African countries. At the end, all you can do is shrug, walk away (if you still can), and sigh. Nothing is ever permanent. This, after all, is not Sparta. It is Africa.
Two weeks ago, I found myself in the midst of a war in my school. Oh it has been there all along. Only it tends to erupt the moment the year comes to a close. The details of this war, I can’t really divulge, due to rules concerning confidentiality (strange that I still stick to rules when the world around me seems to collapse), but I am certain that those reading this post will know what I am talking about – the issues, the people, the interests involved. All I can say is that a miscarriage of justice occurred, and in a singular moment of clarity, in a moment of righteous indignation, I rediscovered my idealism – a thing I last felt in January 20, 2001 – when I joined several hundred thousand more citizens in ousting a president who lost his mandate to rule.
Idealism is a tricky thing. It seems it was invented to make us realists. Yet realists are routinely bashed for not being idealistic enough. Idealism is like the ocean. It is vast, two-thirds of the earth’s surface and yet like the crashing of the waves against the beach, it doesn’t have a clear form – and anything formless immediately strikes fear into our hearts. We try to contain it; we try to limit its influence. Then, we ignore it until it simply becomes part of the scenery – nice to look at, but not really what we want for ourselves.
I’ve been in a school set-up since I was five years old. I will not be a hypocrite and claim that I have followed rules all my life. I have bended them mostly. I have broken a few minor ones. But everytime I did, I truly felt sorry and tried my best to compensate for my wrongdoings. It helped a lot that my alma mater, Ateneo de Zamboanga, was obsessed about rules. Believe it or not, I appreciated having rules around, because by knowing them, I knew what I can do, I knew what I cannot do. In short, reading the student handbook allowed me a lot more freedom than those who simply ignore the thing. Ignorance after all is not only blissful, it’s also not an excuse when you get caught doing something illegal.
Rules are an extension of ideals. They manage to put into practice something so abstract. Let’s say, for example, Integrity. Integrity is a large word, and cuts through many aspects of our lives. But when one enters the school set-up, we see the dos and don’ts that make up integrity. Don’t cheat, always tell the truth, you know the drill. The system in my school worked because the administration applied the rules and meted out appropriate punishment for offenders. Even first-time offenders.
In my school, you knew exactly what was coming to you. You could bring your lawyers, your priest, your congressman and none of them can do squat. You disrespected a teacher, you were sent to the quadrangle to stand there in the warm sun for an hour while everyone coming down for lunch or dismissal could see you. When you cheated, you got suspended, or if was grave enough, suspended some more. You destroyed the birthday chart of another section, you got suspended. You recruited members for your fraternity, you got expelled. You sing “hu-hu-hu” during the chorus of “Give Love on Christmas Day” during mass and you also got suspended for disrupting the peace. You drank alcohol in school, why you get suspended too. And say goodbye to your ambitions of graduating with honors. And when you complain, the administrators simply put the student handbook in front of you and made you read. Yes, everything was there, if you could find it.
Did I hate my alma mater? No, in fact, except for the lousy science curriculum we had, I loved my school. But its most important parting gift was a healthy respect for rules. Sure, they make our lives inconvenient, but they are also there to protect the rights of everyone else, including mine. And most of all, they protected the integrity of the school.
I’m just ending my fourth year in Pisay. And even during my first year, I knew that something was wrong with the best high school in the land. Actually, two things: TRANSPARENCY AND CONSISTENCY. Teachers are often asked to sit down in discipline and scholarship committees and they are supposed to implement the school’s rules in these discussions. But teachers only have recommendatory powers, what we suggest is not always final. But we do most of the legwork, we are with the students most of the time, and you think that our collective experiences would know how best to deal with situations. However, we often find our recommendations being overturned and we aren’t even told why. We simply have to accept these things. As some of the veteran teachers keep telling us, it has been this way ever since.
I really didn’t want to get myself involved. I guess that’s been my fault for the past three years I was here. As long as I wasn’t directly affected, I let it go. Very much like the persona in “I Sit and Look Out” and Mrs. Hutchinson in “The Lottery”, I would rather sit and look out. But two weeks ago, I think I reached my boiling point. When the school simply whimpered after it had been grievously wronged, after the school simply put a price tag on its integrity, I felt I could no longer stand by and watch. So I threw myself into the fray, appalled that such a miscarriage of justice could be allowed to pass. And I found out that I wasn’t alone. Many people felt the same way. I felt so alive then. I felt that together with my idealistic allies, we could finally put right many things which have been basically wrong.
I was wrong, of course.
Turns out, we were fighting a system which rewards both good work and bad behavior. Hell, it even rewards bad work, if you could believe that. And the bottom line? I really don’t know. Perhaps, in this empowered age, schools have become more timid regarding lawyers and their suits. Schools have made a devil’s bargain these days, not wanting to face the courts and instead taking the easy way out, even if they are right. Never mind if it means negating all the values that their teachers try to impart to the students. Never mind that by turning a blind eye, they are allowing “monsters” to graduate as the press declared during the height of the school’s poisoning case. Never mind that their teachers are being disrespected not only by their students but also by the parents of some students. Never mind if everyone in school loses his or her credibility. Never mind if the heart and soul and mind of a school are relegated to the sidelines and made to watch the body die of cancer. Those things are more convenient than facing a lawsuit.
That’s the defining thing in this age: Convenience.
Now, I am simply exhausted (with a toothache to boot). The idealism I rediscovered two weeks ago got clobbered by a system which traps even the smallest slivers of wisdom and turns cynics into nihilists. It got shackled by people who sit inside their own “terror” coffins at night, scare themselves silly, and then try to scare anyone else who would listen.
Some of my colleagues had already warned me of the outcome. Some simply sighed when the decisions were made known. (Take note, made known. They didn’t even hand the teachers who wrote two letters a written reply, as if we were beneath them.) Some teachers are dismayed and still want to protest. Others simply don’t care anymore. They seem to be sporting sad smiles which could be read as: “I told you so.”
Me? I was devastated, last Saturday. Now, I’m simply cold.
When a group of persons who meet only once a month gets to make decisions which have far-reaching consequences for many the rest of us and you don’t even get a reply from them why they decided that way, you would feel the same way too. Especially when those decisions were wrong.
In a blog entry, a colleague declared “Pisay, we need to talk.” I disagree. For how could you hold a dialogue when those in power do not listen to you? How could you call for change when parents have the nerve to tell you that you don’t have any power at all (and you actually don’t)? How could you face your students again knowing that the things that you tried so hard to inculcate in them, things like TRUTH, INTEGRITY, RESPECT, and DISCIPLINE are negotiable after all?
I need a long break from all of these issues. I need time away from Pisay. I need to assess my goals for the incoming school year. I need to sort out my feelings and see if I should still keep on fighting. I need to see if my idealism returns.
When idealism is that time between waking up and brushing your teeth, when teachers can get away with racist statements in the classroom simply because they’re permanent, when you get told that your opinions matter less just because you’re a member of the junior faculty, when you get bamboozled mainly because the number of years you have as a teacher is less than half of some of your colleagues, when students still graduate despite their grievous offenses and dismal academic records, when rules are simply guidelines one day and guidelines become rules the next day, when black and white are simply components of grey, when NORTURE rhymes with torture, when you’re more afraid of lawyers than producing “monsters”, when might becomes right, when injustice is synonymous with convenience, when rules are swept away like the Sahara redraws its territory at the end of the day, when the school you love and serve is simply a shadow of the country you live in when it could have been so much more, when nothing makes sense anymore but everything still makes sense, you can come up with one conclusion about your school: I’ve always thought I was in a different place, apparently, THIS IS AFRICA, TOO.
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23rd February, 2009. 2:58 pm. that lotto pot
well, after twenty one draws, two persons finally won the 347 million 6/49 pot. good for them. hopefully the winners weren't mike and gloria as some of my more cynical friends suggest. whoever you people are, congratulations. i might feel bad because my long and heartwrenching hope of winning finally came to a crashing halt last night, but i don hope that you need the money more than i do. he he. funny. i never approved of gambling. i guess, that's what happens when the real world and all its claws finally catch you.
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20th February, 2009. 1:10 pm. clint eastwood is god!
yesterday, i decided to watch a film. that film was gran torino, directed by and starring clint eastwood. and man oh man was i blown away. clint eastwood is 78 years old and yet his presence on the screen is enough to wash away several actors younger than he is all at the same time. clint darkens and lights up the screen whenever he's there. he's playing a racist, cranky, nasty character, and yet, you sympathize with him. imagine that? i won't divulge much of the plot so i won't ruin your viewing of this film. suffice to say that clint eastwood affects everyone - men and women alike. if he glared at me, I would pee in my pants; if i were a girl and he growled at me, i'd probably faint out of lust. he has that much appeal. not even edward cullen can claim to do that and he's a hundred year old virgin trapped in the body of a teenager.
anyway, watch gran torino. all throughout the film, i had a grin on my face. this movie is one broken man's journey into his own pathetic life and into his own redemption. nobody wants anything to do with him. but everyone wants his 1972 gran torino. it's just like god. no one really wants him around, but everyone wants his grace to shine upon you.
again, go watch gran torino. if million dollar baby and unforgiven received best picture awards, gran torino is clint eastwood's masterpiece. which goes to show that the academy awards do not always feature the best films.
when i grow very old, i want to be like clint eastwood. finally, with this movie, i have seen myself beyond fifty. i guess i'll get used to living then.
19th February, 2009. 12:30 pm. the end of (school) days
yeah. finally the school year is coming to a close. i feel so exhausted already and it's just february. i guess it helps that i'll be teaching freshmen next year. after all, i've been teaching the same thing for three years now and i need a break from that. yeah, the end of (school) days is fast approaching. i wanna be lazy again. i want to wake up late without having to worry about missing my classes. i do love this batch i'm teaching. i dunno why. maybe because i have been their teacher for three years. sigh. i'm gonna miss them when they graduate. not all of them. but many of them. i guess that comes across as a backhanded compliment. few batches have ever captured my affections anyway. yeah, i'm just rambling here. cause that's what i do best. i ramble. still so many things i need to do. and so little time left. one of the best things i've read today came from de quiros': he asked a man what he was sick of and the man said heart and lungs.
de quiros said that the man must be one of those reformed smokers and drinkers.
the man said no. "why would I want to live longer?"
de quiros admits that he's still trying to figure that one out.
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18th February, 2009. 11:48 am. no field trips (to heaven or hell)
the field trip is dead. very dead these days. schools avoid allowing such activities preferring instead to let the parent associations handle such batch activities. no vicarious liability. the school will not be sued if ever something bad happens to the students (rather a pessimistic view of things don't you think?). so no field trips. or maybe we can have field trips but let's keep them within five kilometers of the school. or better yet, let's just keep our students in school. let's deprive them of the experience of learning things in other ways. after all, no one wants the bloody lawyers running after us. as we're banning field trips anyway, why don't we ban religious activities in public schools? after all religious activities are also field trips...only they happen on the spiritual plane. shouldn't we sue public schools which provide such services? which employ teachers who preach the good news of the lord instead of teaching english? after all, if a kid gets wounded while on a field trip, it will heal given time. but a student who gets scarred by religious nonsense will never be able to get it out of his or her system. and public schools are not supposed to have such programs. unless of course our officials subscribe to such mumbo-jumbo? at the end of everything, schools must make certain that they have their priorities in order. field trips after all also mold the social skills of students. religious activity on the other hand simply turns them into...well...religious persons. in the end, if schools don't allow field trips to parts of a dangerous world, then they should also make sure that they ban field trips that lead to places such as heaven or hell.
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16th February, 2009. 12:34 pm. it's a fine, fine line....
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oh no. i am not talking about avenue q's bittersweet song. there is really is a fine, fine line between many binary opposites in the world. hell, there are even so many fine lines between things that shouldn't be in opposition anyway. just to throw in my two cent's worth. in another blogging service, my good buddy laid down his case against the pshs achievement tests. it generated 101 replies already. some commended him for bringing out sentiments which they couldn't bring out into the open, others chided him for bringing out the school's dirty laundry in...well the public sphere. we can argue day and night about the propriety of what had been done, but at the end of the day, we can only come up with one conclusion: there really is something wrong with the pshs achievement test if such a boring topic could actually generate so much attention and so many barbed comments from students, teachers, parents, alumni and bystanders. there really is a fine line between what we should put out for people, and what we should keep within the walls of our school. while it is true that pshs is a public school, and thus must be made accountable to the public which supports its continued existence, there still exist mechanisms within the school which could deal with these problems. i know that we can sometimes get so impatient because these processes take a lot of time, but the best way is to have a two pronged attack, do it both on the net and on campus too, preferably filing the complaint with administration before exposing it over the internet. after all as teachers, we also have duties not only towards our students but also towards the institution. i guess, some of us (including me) are just so tired in having our opinions, suggestions, and grievances brushed away most of the time. it's actually a tragedy that people have to go to the internet to air out their grievances. that simply implies that they are not being listened to, or people hear what they have to say then shove it out their other ear. i guess this is a malaise that has crept not only in pshs but in the entire country. after all, no matter how loud our voices have been against the current tenant of the palace, our cries have not been heeded. i admire martin for being an advocate of change, but i also believe in flor's call for caution as not all the tests were bad anyway. it's going to be a fine balancing act if we are to get things done with the least amount of blood shed. but it's the only way to go. in sum, the pshs has to take a hard look at its achievement test. and we're not simply talking about the items in the tests but also the rationale and the conduct of these exams. as job said when confronted by god, "i put my hand on my mouth, i have said too much already. i will say no more."
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