Selflessness, Respect and Discipline

Many Filipinos, if not all, get up in the morning*, brave the chaotic morning rush and work almost tirelessly to help themselves and their families have a better life or maintain an already good one. (*timeframe relative to people’s jobs – this also applies to those who go to work in the afternoon, evening, midnight or dawn)

This brand of filial selflessness is something that I really like about our culture. But in the midst of everything, I’ve observed that some of our basic social values seemingly get lost or are deemed insignificant compared to our individual priorities, namely respect for strangers and surroundings, and discipline. Yes, we are highly respectful to our elders and work or school superiors, but not to people we encounter and commute with, nor to the environment.

So many times have I seen people here cutting lines (or allowing friends to cut in line), shoving other people without apologizing, not giving enough space on the train for entering or alighting passengers, not following designated signs and nonchalantly throwing small pieces of trash on the ground unless there is a strict person of authority lurking around and disciplining them. Many of us have been used to such behavior that we already think those things are normal and we don’t “get in line” unless we are told to.

I’ve also experienced really bad displays of customer service that reflect the lack of basic respect and discipline. I’ve waited in line for an hour for a bus without the bus company explaining or apologizing to us for the delay.  This happened twice. I’ve said “excuse me”, or have had to clear my throat just so a couple of sales staff chatting with each other would entertain me. This has happened to me many times.

My question now is why? Why does it seem that many of us can be selfless for our families, friends and other loved ones, and selfish to everyone else?

Is it because of the dog-eat-dog-world mentality that many of us and our elders have that have forced us to care just for ourselves, families and friends, but not for those outside our social circles nor the world around us? Are we really all so angsty and jaded?

Is it because the messages that we only treat masses or services as rituals and we let our spiritual leaders’ messages on respect and discipline fly over our head after we head outside the church?

Is it because our state-sponsored basic education system previously did not cover good morals and right conduct?

Is it because many of us are enjoying the freedoms that democracy bought us, freedoms that were almost absent during the Marcos era?

I am sure that there are psychological and sociological reasons for it.  Yet despite these reasons, I think that this is something that we can still improve on and turn around.

Our country would be so much more fun to be in if we can be a little more selfless, respectful and disciplined towards others.

Isang Malugod na Pagbati sa UP

Noong nasa kolehiyo pa ako, madalas na binabahagi sa akin ng isa kong kaibigan ang mga kuwentong pag-ibig mula sa peyups website. Laging may kurot sa puso ang bawat kuwento – at isa sa dahilan nito ang aking paghanga sa UP.

Bata pa lang kasi ako, sinabi ko na sa aking sarili na sa UP ako papasok para sa kolehiyo. Sa kasamaang-palad, hindi ako pumasa at nilasap ko na lang ang mga kwentong binabahagi sa akin mula sa Peyups, ang tugtugin ng Eraserheads at ang pagkain namin sa mga kilalang lugar sa kanilang campus, tulad ng Mang Larry’s at Chocolate Kiss. Sila at UST lang ang pinapalakpakan ko tuwing Cheerdance Competition.
Naging masaya na rin ako at napamahal sa aking pamantasang aking pinasukan, kaya ba hindi ko na ninais na lumipat sa UP. Pero nanatili pa rin ang paghanga ko sa UP, lalo na sa kanyang sariling kultura. Ngayong nagta-trabaho na ako, tuwang-tuwa akong makakilala ng Isko at Iska at sinasabi ko talaga sa kanila ang aking paghanga sa kanilang paaralan.
Kapag nagkaroon ako ng anak, pagdadasal ko at sisikapin kong makapasok sila dun. (Kung gusto lang nila – pero medyo malayo pa yun :p)
Ngayon, matapos ang ilang taon, nanalo ang UP sa UAAP Men’s Senior Basketball at muling lumabas ang pagkahanga ko sa kanila dahil sa malugod at masaya nilang pagtanggap sa panalong ito.
Binabati ko uli ang UP sa kanilang pagpanalo! Tulad ng NU, makakaahon rin kayo. Mas maganda naman talaga na mas maraming naghahamunan sa ligang ito kaysa iilan.
Nawa’y magharap kayo ng aking pamantasan sa finals sa mga susunod na taon. (Magharap lang kasi kami pa rin ang mananalo)😀

Lessons from Typhoon Rammasun/Glenda

Almost two weeks ago, Typhoon Rammasun/Glenda visited Metro Manila,  leaving the capital of the Philippines and nearby provinces with memories of strong, howling winds, heavy rains, floods, flying roofs, fallen trees and blackouts. Nothing special, really. Most of us living in the Philippines are used to all those things.

Broken branches and an electric post block a street

A typical sight post-Typhoon Rammasun/Glenda (Photo Source: Lilian Ramos-Yeo/Agnes dela Cruz)

What I find unusual is that despite experiencing a little more than a century of having typhoons and despite having experienced typhoons Ketsana/Ondoy and Haiyan/Yolanda, we haven’t really gotten around to developing a culture of foresight and preparation. I have to give it to Marikina for having warning sirens and for various broadcast networks for having information campaigns, but we’ve been used to having stopgap measures, to having relief drives that reflect our brand of compassion and unity and to waving the banner of the indomitable, “waterproof” Filipino spirit (as I have admittedly posted in my blogs in the past). Strength, unity and compassion are indeed good things, but I think it would be much better if we applied those principles in light of prevention instead of rehabilitation. We as citizens, could be compassionate to our fellow Filipinos by freely sharing our knowledge gained from the government and media about disaster risk mitigation and preparation and in doing so develop a preventive behavior and a more potent kind of strength that will truly unite us and help us stand upright the soonest after the storm.

My Political Science Education

Today, I spent the day reacquainting myself with international relations and political theory because of the recent Malaysian Airlines incident. I spent the afternoon reading up on two geopolitical issues: the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict and the Ukraine-Russia conflict. As with any armed political conflict, civilians are caught in between and unfortunately become collateral damage. For the former, three Israeli teenagers and four Palestinian boys were killed a month apart. For the latter, almost 300 foreign nationals were killed after Ukrainian separatist rebels shot down the plane they were on with a missile. This evening, I found myself looking at Communist propaganda posters after seeing a photo of Communist supporters carrying posters of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.

While most of my college education was devoted to analyzing political theories and discussing international relations, I realized that I never really got around to using the bulk of my education practically.

I had volunteered for, blogged and continue to blog about, worked and continue to work in the other fields which my political science course catered to – Philippine politics and governance, social development and law. I spent about a month learning about and lobbying for the Freedom of Information Bill under a local non-government organization promoting transparency and accountability. I spent a little over a year working for an education-related non-government organization and then three years in a social marketing agency. Now I am working for a law firm and are learning about some intricacies of transactional and litigious legal work as well as matters pertaining to intellectual property and employment.

Now with my realization, I think I must start reading up more about international relations so that none of my education will go to waste and all of it will be put into good use.

Making More Filipinos Realize What Earth Hour is About

Earth Hour 2014 just finished a few hours ago.

I started celebrating Earth Hour in 2010 by turning off as much light and electricity in the house as I could, without my family’s help. I would remind them every year about celebrating it until 2012. In 2013, they remembered it without my reminder and voluntarily turned the lights and electricity off. This year I spent it walking around the village with my youngest sibling. I noticed that while many homes participated, a good number also had their lights on.

I’m hardly critical of social movements because of their good intentions. But for all the publicity Earth Hour has earned over the years, and even the country’s placement as top participant in Earth Hour in recent years, proper and clear communication on how Earth Hour helps address issues of global warming and climate change and effective longer term calls-to-action have yet to be realized at least here in the Philippines. Many people know that it’s a way to save a few centavos or pesos from the electric bill, but I think many people don’t see the connection between reduced energy use, global warming and climate change in a simple and clear way. Even if I know the connection because of my growing exposure to environmental issues, I am still finding it a bit difficult to articulate. I also have not seen a widespread campaign both digital and traditional grassroots in nature that teaches people from all walks of life on how to practice energy efficiency.

It’s a great campaign so it would be even more greater to see people use their cause-oriented energies to make it truly more meaningful through practice.

Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair 2014

I visited the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)’s food exhibit yesterday afternoon with my grandmother to try out new food items. It was my first time to attend a food exhibit so I was very excited.

Entitled Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair 2014: Piling-Piling Pagkaing Pilipino (Famous Pinoy National Food Fair 2014: Well-Chosen Filipino Food), the exhibit is among one of the six exhibits that DTI is planning to hold this 2014 to help promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the domestic market to eventually ease their entrance the global market. The exhibit opened last March 26.

2014 Sikat Pinoy Food Fair 1

There were over 200 booths and we practically spent the whole afternoon checking out almost every stall.

2014 Sikat Pinoy Food Fair 2

I was glad to see a lot of people supporting our local food industry by visiting, trying and buying products. There came a point when we had switch booth lanes to dodge crowds because they were getting so thick, making it hard for us to pass by. That means the DTI achieved its goal of getting domestic support.

2014 Sikat Pinoy Food Fair 3

 

Here are almost all of our purchases:

2014 Sikat Pinoy Food Fair 20

From Left to Right: First Row: Crispy Dilis, Dried Alamang, Chocolate Rice, Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate, Vigan Longganisa, Squash Noodles Second Row: Muscovado Powder, Linupak, Seaweed for cooking, seaweed chips, pineapple jam, carrot chips, veggie chips Third Row: Eng Bee Tin tikoy rolls and custard cake, Aging’s flavored suman, calamansi concentrate and soya milk. Not pictured: Durian ice cream

 

It really pays to support our local food industry because by doing so, we really help each other out and make our gradually brightening economy brighten even more. It’s also a way to know more about food culture and heritage locally and generally. Finally the items produced are a lot more healthier than the commercial variety because of the ingredients used.

Our hands were literally full as we bought two eco-bags full of items, so we couldn’t add more. I really enjoyed my time there so I would like to go back there today so I can purchase more. I’m curious about the deli products from Cagayan de Oro and the dried chiles from Davao. I honestly also want to try the dalandan concentrate, soursop concentrate and carrot concentrate. They could have made the exhibit’s set design better and consistent with the branding though. Also, I hope DTI would be more strategic in its marketing training so I get to see better collaterals on the booths and food items in the coming food fairs. But like I said, my overall experience was great. Congratulations to DTI for doing a good job!

The Sikat Pinoy Food Fair is currently being held at the Megatrade Hall, Megamall B, Ortigas, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Hope you can all support it especially as today, 30 March is its last day.

Artisans and Advocates Ride High on a Sea of Sustainable Fashion

It’s summer! Time to kick off your shoes and frolic under the sun with Rags2Riches’ S/S ’14-’15 Collection entitled High Seas. Launched today at the Piazza in Privato Hotel, the collection’s nautical styles paired with Rags2Riches’ signature woven designs in red, brown, blue and sea green invoke within us the feeling of relaxing on a cool beach waters under the sun amidst our daily hustle-and-bustle.

 

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Model and online entrepreneur Kelly Misa also collaborated with Rags2Riches to design a few pieces for the High Seas collection. The designs will be sold exclusively through the online shop Pormada.

 

 
R2R High Seas Launch 2
 
 
 

During the launch, ambassadors for sustainable fashion and Rags2Riches highly-revered artisans also relaxed and bonded together in the sunlight-filled Piazza to work together on personalized purses made out of upcycled scrap cloth, canvas and Sharpie pens. It was really heartwarming to see many women come together to support a social business which seeks to sustain their fellow women, the environment, livelihood and Philippine artisanal culture through its products.

 

 
R2R High Seas Launch 4

 

 
An artisan sews together the canvas designed by the ambassador with the woven base she created.

 

 
 
R2R High Seas Launch 6

 

 
 
 

“This is the first time that we’ve done a workshop during the launch,” said Reese Fernandez – Ruiz, founder and director of Rags2Riches. “We wanted the advocates to work with the artisans, so that they can see the artistry that goes into the product,” she added. And to see that come into fruition is “a very fulfilling feeling” for Reese. She and their team are looking forward to having more collaborative activities between their revered artisans and the ambassadors, and even fans and shoppers of Rags2Riches.

 

 
Rags2Riches is the Philippines’ foremost for-profit social enterprise. Their High Seas Collection is available at the Rags2Riches Store in Glorietta 1, Makati, Metro Manila. You may also check their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates.
 

 

View more photos from the event here:

 

 
 
Rags2Riches
Store: 3/F, Glorietta 1, Makati, Metro Manila
 
Pormada

The 2013 Philippine Bar Exam Passers

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the 2013 Philippine Bar Exam Passers!

The names on the list below are the names of people I knew back in high school (batchmates), college (coursemates, blockmates, org mates) and knew through friends who moved on to study law. The names are written exactly the way they were posted on the website:

63. ANGANGCO, Bernadette Marie G
69. ANTONIO, Angela A
147. BAUTISTA, Maria Francesca V
191. BUNAG, Jan Nicklaus S
258. CHATTO, II, Efren Dominique M
363. DIAZ, Rona April D
429. FERMIN, Doreen Grace R
440. FORTEA, Natassia L
571. LAGASCA, Marianne Franchesca Therese S
591. LAURON, Diana Margaret C
596. LAYNO, Ian Abelle P
1065. TEE, Divine Grace C
1089. TORRES, Jose Carlos S

For the full list, please visit this link. According to the Supreme Court, out of 5,293 that took the exam in October 2013, 22.18% or 1,174 examinees passed. Of the topnotchers, 5 came from University of the Philippines Law, 2 came from Ateneo Law, 1 came from San Beda, one from University of Batangas, one from University of Cebu and one from University of San Carlos.

Congratulations to everyone who passed!

A Victory for All Women Athletes and Athletes-to-Be

First off, I want to congratulate the Ateneo de Manila University Women’s Volleyball team for winning their first championship in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Series yesterday afternoon. You have made the university community “happy happy” with your strong golden hearts!

Just to give a rundown, the Lady Eagles beat Adamson University, National University twice and champion titleholder De la Salle University thrice in the semis and then thrice during the finals to win their first ever crown. I admit that I was only able to watch the last finals game and I only learned about their journey from my family who avidly watched their games. I didn’t realize how big the team had become all over the Philippines until I watched yesterday on television. I’m glad I watched and went to the bonfire and celebrate the victories for the university, for students and most importantly for women!

2014-03-15 Bonfire 2

“Heartstrong” is the mantra coined by the Lady Eagles’ Coach Tai that inspired the team and lead them to victory.

For the past eight or nine bonfires, ladies’ teams (as well as other athletic teams) took a backseat to give way to celebrating the Men’s Senior Basketball Team’s Championship in the UAAP. This time, women took the front seat in driving and celebrating a victory for the university. This shows how much the institution has progressed from being conservative and masculine to being liberal and gender-neutral. And this happened in the 40th year anniversary of having women Ateneans!

2014-03-15 Bonfire 10

Team Captain, Series MVP and Finals MVP Alyssa Valdez shared to the community how they felt during Set 3 of Game 3. Women being cheered onstage during the Bonfire! FINALLY!

As a woman and a member of the alumni, it’s really heartwarming and inspiring to see the celebration in front of my eyes. It’s the recognition that I believe many of us have always wanted to see. Their victory is something that would inspire many female teenagers to fulfill their dream of being university or professional women athletes as they have seen that women athletes are accepted, loved and admired by society.

2014-03-15 Bonfire 12

Again, congratulations Lady Eagles.  And congratulations too to the high school and university Judo teams, the Women’s and Men’s Senior Badminton Teams, the Men’s Senior Swimming Team, the Men’s Senior Volleyball Team and Team Glory Be for your respective victories. Keep your hearts strong and continue winning!

Here are the other photos from the bonfire:

Here’s the university community celebrating the lighting of the bonfire and singing the school hymn Song for Mary:

Challenges and Growth

Positivity - Rising Over the Challenge - Michael Christian Martinez

Michael Christian Martinez rose to the challenge to represent our country in Sochi as the first Filipino Winter Olympian, which helped him grow as a Filipino athlete and an individual. Photo Source: Tempo

When you rise over a challenge, you grow.

I just want to take this opportunity to share the happiness and fulfillment I felt after I overcame a few challenges the past several months and few weeks:

Challenge: Sticking to a routine.

The only routine I had before was to rise in the morning, have breakfast, take a bath and start working. The breakfast, bath and work parts used to interchange until I read that routine boosts productivity and contributes to success. It has almost been a year since I adopted a more streamlined morning routine and now I’ve incorporated a exercising which has boosted my productivity even further. It takes me longer now to prepare for work, but now I’m more focused on it, making tasks easier to accomplish.

Challenge: Being more organized.

I’ve utilized planners over the past couple of years and I vouch for their usefulness, especially for a left-brained person like me who is happy with wandering and whimsical thoughts. Aside from having a routine, having and actually using a hard-copy written really helps me get my job done. But I found organization for work hard beyond the planner. So actually being able to work with a bunch of lists now and not panicking is an accomplishment for me. I’m sure others who are reading my blog can relate. I’ve still yet to learn to really organize people, but I am learning. And I’m looking forward to when I can really manage and organize lists and people.

Challenge: Thinking on my feet.

That’s something that I’ve started learning. I’ve still a lot of work to do in this category, but I’m also confident that I can think faster. Being at the moment is really key for thinking on one’s feet.

There are a lot more challenges that I’ve yet to overcome and experiences I’ll grow from. And I’m excited to jump over these hurdles.

Thanks for reading my blog! How about you? What are the challenges you hurdled that made you feel really fulfilled?

The 3rd Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit

The 3rd Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit was held from 27 to 28 February 2014 at the MERALCO Multi-Purpose Hall, Ortigas, Pasig City. Key players from the local electric vehicle industry as well as Senator Bam Aquino graced the event. Our team was part of the organizing committee.

2014-02-27 17.11.54

Electric vehicles are seen as the environmental-friendly alternative to gas-powered vehicles as they do not use fossil fuels and thus do not excrete smoke. They are also powered through geothermal and hydropower plants and even solar-powered chargers. A tropical country like the Philippines need electric vehicles to reduce air pollution and high temperatures in the cities. There just has to be a concerted effort between the private sector (EV manufacturers and distributors) and the public sector (concerned implementing bodies) to make it happen.

What struck me about the summit was that several of the speakers were women. Interestingly, electric cars were initially manufactured and marketed to women at the turn of the 19th century because it wasn’t noisy and would fit women’s perceived prim and proper image. Electric vehicles have also come far from being vehicles borne out of gender discrimination. If I go by the presence of women leaders in the summit, then it looks like that it’s an automobile industry wherein women would feel comfortable engaging in, as the discussions concern the environment and thus are gender-neutral.

The electric vehicle industry is an industry that seeks to expand small-business livelihood opportunities through widened use as a public transport, includes both men and women and could even involve the youth, and is very friendly to the environment. It is a sustains better social, environmental and business systems and so I’m hoping to see it flourish in the coming years.

Lessons from University Long After Graduation

Amidst the everyday traffic chaos, the pushing and squeezing in the rail transit stations, the general feeling of frustration brought about poor national governance and corruption and other worries and disappointments came messages of hope from the university I graduated from – messages that I used to hear on a daily basis before that gave me so much optimism, but are rarely heard now, save for the occasional homily given by a Jesuit priest. These are the messages that I’ve longed to hear.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 1

These messages of hope from this evening’s of testimonials entitled “Women Leaders: In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius” which is part of “40 Years Half the Sky: Celebrating Co-Education in Ateneo de Manila”, a campaign celebrating the presence and contribution of women in the university. Ateneo first opened its doors to women in 1973 and now women slightly outnumber the men. The women spoke about how Ignatian values and spirituality are making an impact on their lives.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 1

Ateneo President Father Jett Villarin gives the Opening Remarks

The women leaders who spoke were CHED Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Filinvest Development Corporation President and CEO Josephine Gotianun-Yap ad Rags II Riches Founder and Director Reese Fernandez – Ruiz.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 3

Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Chair of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

Dr. Licuanan shared lessons on balancing one’s career with a rich and relaxed personal life, balancing leadership, the zest for change and courage with management, systems and prudence and being a voice of hope by finding comfort in advocacies and reforms and even afflicting people’s comfort zones.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 4

Josephine Gotianun-Yap, Filinvest Development Corporation and Filinvest Land Inc. President and CEO

Josephine Gotianun – Yap shared that in business, having a sense of responsibility and vision trumps power. In business you have to set a moral tone which will guide the mission, vision and general operational direction of the company.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 6

Reese Fernandez Ruiz, President and Co-Founder, Rags2Riches (with Monch, and Dan and Bem in the photo)

Finally, Reese Fernandez – Ruiz shared that being more reflective or in her words – “disturbed” – has helped in her growth as an individual and how it has helped grow her social enterprise, Rags2Riches. Her testimonial actually hit home because I actually went through what she went through. Like her, I prepared a plan on how to be rich and successful and life, and found myself deviating from the plan after encountering prisoners from Bilibid, having an internship in UNICEF, volunteering for a non-government organization, working for another non-government organization and having the heart for development and business. Her questions struck me and her answers pretty much validated the path I’m taking now. Her parting words to the audience were, “Never stop asking ‘Why?'”.

I’ve actually stopped asking myself that after graduation. From my short healthcare stint post-graduation and in my business and development sector career now, I’ve never really asked. I just kept going, and feeling and knowing it’s the right way to go.

On my way home, I found myself asking myself “Why am I doing what I am doing?”.

And after 7 years of exploring the world through healthcare, education, development and marketing, I now have answer.

Empowerment against Sexual Assault

One of the issues I really feel strongly about is sexual assault against females.

What concerns me the most about it is not just its prevalence in society around the globe. What concerns me most is that female sexual assault victims are blamed or looked down upon because of the way they dress, carry themselves or where they work, when it fact, a woman’s clothing, job nor demeanor does not matter for someone who wants to be sexually assaulted. No female ever “asks for it”.
Advocacy - Anti-Sexual Assault

Image Source: safercampus tumblr 

There are many ways on how a woman may prevent herself from being sexually assaulted. She may choose to dress modestly, take up a high-paying white-collar job rather than be a model and go to parties less, and get drunk less – and when she does go out, she may surround herself with many friends. She may also take up self-defense classes so that she can combat men or anyone who has that intent of sexually assaulting her. She may join the anti-sexual movement and educate herself on the issue itself. But even if many women or even all women empower themselves emotionally, physically and mentally, the intent to sexually assault still remains.
And that’s why I think that it’s very important to educate everyone about sexually assault to lessen the prejudices stemming from our masculine society and more importantly, lessen their occurrences to the point that they diminish. The first that we have to really educate are our boys and men. There’s this quote that goes like this, which I agree to wholeheartedly:

Advocacy - Teach Our Sons to Be Decent Men

Basically, apart from empowering females as a whole here in the Philippines, we have to teach our boys and men to respect girls and women. We also have to teach everyone to be more open-minded about the choices of others in terms of clothing, work and career and demeanor and not discriminate according to those choices.

If we educate, open minds and empower everyone – men and women, straight or from the LGBTQA community, then our society will be a much friendlier and safer place to live in.

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