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.

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.

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.

Sacrificed Lives and a Culturally-Relevant Discovery

2014 Florida Bus Crash 1

A bittersweet thing that came out of the Florida Bus Crash last Friday, February 7, 2014 is that more people (including me) now know about Whang-Od, the last tattoo artist from Kalinga. She’s 93 years old. Many of the passengers were on that trip to visit her and her tribe.

The Beautiful Whang-Od

The Beautiful Whang-Od. Photo by Jake Versoza.

Prior to the accident, it seems that only tattoo enthusiasts and bonafide adventurers knew about Whang-Od. Now, people know more about her. That’s the good thing. But it also took a fatal accident to get her name more out there. 15 artists had to die to make one artist more known to her own fellow Filipinos. That’s the sad thing.

I read an article and watched a short documentary on Whang-Od  and the traditional tattoo-making method. She makes the tattoo using a couple of wooden sticks, a small nail and sweet potato ink, with no anesthesia. It looks really painful but interesting. I used to want to get a tattoo for vanity reasons, but I like how my bare skin looks now.

Now that more people here in the Philippines know about Whang-Od, I hope more people would take the opportunity to visit the Kalinga tribe and get a tattoo from her. I think those who died in the accident would want us to continue their journey.

I hope that our Philippine government and private bus companies improve road safety drastically here, because we can’t afford this to happen again. We cannot stop adventurers from being adventurers because of such mishaps that could have been prevented through good and strict public transport governance. We have to make sure that our transport system is safe so that people continue living, discovering and savoring our culture.

That way we can start having a lot #morefuninthePhilippines.

Helpful, Healthy and Yummy: Green Pastures

Last night, I had dinner with friends in this place called Green Pastures at the East Wing of Shangri-la Plaza Mall. It’s a relatively new place that has garnered rave reviews because of how good its food is, and that it is an organic farm-to-table restaurant, meaning the food that they serve come from organically-grown plants and free-range raised poultry, cattle, lambs and pigs. It’s the perfect restaurant for people who love healthy food, but do not want to give up meat, like me. And I’m big on supporting businesses that are inherently advocacy-based. Yay for farmers! Yay for Philippine agriculture!

I initially planned to order their octopus-and-bone-marrow fusilli, but since my aunt recommended that I order the 80/20 Wagyu burger, I ordered that instead. I told myself that I will just go back and order the octopus-and-bone-marrow fusilli next time.

Green Pastures' 80/20 Burger

Green Pastures’ 80/20 Burger

The 80/20 Wagyu Burger is composed of 80% Wagyu beef, 20% double smoked organic pancetta (Italian bacon), stratiacella (Italian soft cheese) and buttered brioche (bread). It came with a hefty serving of fries with dip.

I wasn’t too happy with the burger at first since it seemed bland, but it began to taste fuller and better after every bite. I finished the burger fully satisfied, then downed the fries almost completely. The last time I was that satisfied with a new restaurant was last March, after I visited Poco Deli for the first time. Other dishes we ordered were the Carbonara, Duck You!, Ricotta and Headcheese. The dishes ARE a bit pricey, but that I think is okay considering you are helping the country and its farmers through Green Pastures.

2013 was a year of awesome culinary discoveries – from Ying Ying in Binondo, Aria in Bonifacio Global City, Plantation in Makati, to Haru, Poco Deli and Charlie’s Burgers in Barrio Kapitolyo and Spatzle in the East Wing of Shangri-la. So I’m glad that I kicked off 2014 with another awesome culinary discovery. I will definitely come back and find out more about their other dishes. 

My 2013 Ylocandia Adventure Part 2 (Ilocos Norte)

After visiting Vigan, we went back to Ilocos Norte to visit the Paoay Church and have our dinner. The Paoay Church was built by Augustinian priests. They built it in such a way that it would withstand natural calamities, particularly earthquakes. Its design is known as “earthquake Baroque”. Many other churches in the Ilocos region have the same design, including the churches in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte and Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur.

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 1

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 2

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 3

Beauty at Dusk

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 4

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 5

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 6

A Magnificent Sight

DAY 2

The next day was spent going to one site to another, making it our trip’s most tiring yet best day. We started by going to Cape Bojeador, then Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, the Windmills in Bangui and finally Pagudpud.

Cape Bojeador is an old lighthouse that Spanish soldiers used to man the sea. The whole place has weathered over time. The main lighthouse’s stairs have rusted so badly that you can’t climb it anymore.

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 1

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 2

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 4

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 5

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 6

The best thing about Cape Bojeador is the seascape. From atop the high hills of Ilocos Norte, I was able to take photos of rolling waves from afar. The experience of actually seeing that with the wind blowing in my hair in the morning truly started my day right.

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 7

Then we drove to Burgos’ Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Walking towards the rock formation was a challenging yet fun experience. I braved winds that almost carried me away to get near a beautiful natural wonder that every Filipino has to visit and be proud of.

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 1

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 2

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 5

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 4

No photo can ever do justice to this sight. Ever.

 I was able to take only one photo of Bangui’s windmills  because it was starting to drizzle and we didn’t want to stay long so we wouldn’t get wet. Haiyan was battering Eastern Visayas that day, and we also got a taste of strong rains on our way to and during lunch time in Pagudpud. That’s also why we took a few photos there.

2013 Ilocandia - Bangui Windmills

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 1

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 2

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 3

We went back to Laoag to relax after our lunch in Pagudpud, and spent the whole time there. We didn’t tour any site the day after as it was the day of my friend’s wedding. 

DAY 4

We had a little time left, but we paid Ilocos Norte’s lakay’s home a visit. It was the last site that we visited before having lunch and heading back to Manila. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Marcos loyalist or critic –  – the “Malakanyang ti Amianan” (Malacañang of the North) or any Marcos shrine is something to that you should do to know the extent of the man named Ferdie and his family’s power over the Ilocanos of Ilocos Norte, and the love that they continue to bestow upon him.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 1

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 3

The painting on the left is a portrait of a teenage Bongbong Marcos riding a white steed and carrying a sword. It looks like a mild version of the propaganda art created by North Koreans for the Kims. Too bad I didn’t get to take a photo of it!

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 2

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 4

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 5

It isn’t as enchanting and haunting as the the first time I visited in the early 2000s. The hospital bed was gone, and it looked more like a tourist spot than a genuine historical artifact, unlike Cape Bojeador.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 6

 

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 8

The family photos and “shabby chic” color is one of the significant changes from the last time I went there.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 9

I honestly don’t think “shabby chic” and Marcos mix. It just doesn’t. A for effort to rebrand though! I exited the house feeling a bit more endeared to the controversial family that I am critical yet not a hater of.

 

Overall, my Ylocandia adventure was a great one, and I’d gladly go on another trip to these sites and make it even more memorable by visiting the other places we didn’t get to visit like the Sand Dunes.

I’m writing about the food we had in my next post.

First Time Poll Watcher

tally sticks

I was blessed to be part of this year’s Barangay Elections as a candidate’s poll watcher.

I’ve been interested in participating in the elections as a poll watcher since I was in college. Unfortunately, all the training sessions were scheduled during school and work hours so I was never actually able to be one until now.

The Barangay is the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines. In English, Barangay means ‘village’. It is governed by a Barangay Captain and a Barangay Council composed of 7 Kagawads, who are assigned to develop and implement projects under various committees. The populations of barangays range from two thousand up to two hundred thousand. Thankfully, we reside is a small barangay, so there weren’t much people. The teachers who assist in the voting and counting, members of the police force and volunteers from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) actually felt relaxed during the voting hours.

The excitement came when voting was closed and vote-counting commenced. Unlike the national elections wherein voting is done manually, but tallied through a machine, both voting and tallying are done manually during Barangay elections. I guess this is because there is a large multitude of Barangays and it would be too costly for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to distribute or ship PCOS machines again, collect the names of candidates, lay them out and print ballots for each of them.

As this was the case, the teachers posted a large tally sheet on a white board (Tally Sheet 1) – with one tally sheet per precinct. The tally sheets had a long box on the left for the candidates’ names, and had boxes to its left for the vote tallies. The boxes were enough to fit five tally lines.

We had three precincts, so there were three counting paper sheets.  Another tally sheet was prepared on a table adjacent to the precinct’s ballot boxes and white board (Tally Sheet 2). Then they listed the names of the candidates down on the tally sheets with a black marker. One teacher was assigned to read the votes, another one was assigned to tally the votes on Tally Sheet 1 and another was assigned to tally the votes on Tally Sheet 2. Prior to the counting, PPCRV and the candidates’ poll watchers were also made to sign documents to validate their participation.

Each poll watcher was required to bring his or her own tally sheet. Before the official tallying began, I wrote down the names of the candidates on my own tally sheets.

The tallying soon started after I wrote all the candidates’ names down. The teacher assigned to read the votes in the precinct I volunteered for read the votes at a fairly steady pace so I was able to count along with them. For each 100 ballots, we tallied the partial results before proceeding onto the next hundred. After about an hour, vote tallying was done and the total for each candidate was written down on the official tally sheets and validating documents were signed. Soon after, the winners were proclaimed.

During the vote tally, voters are free to go to the polling place and watch the process. I wasn’t aware of how many watched the tally until it was over. I was delightfully surprised to see many people there. The Barangay is the smallest unit – and for some – the most useless. But I am thankful that people in our community continue to see its value.

My Poll Watcher I.D.

My Poll Watcher I.D.

I want to thank the COMELEC and DepEd’s teachers for the smooth voting and tallying processes. I would like to especially salute the teachers who were assigned in larger barangays – I am more proud of our public school teachers than ever! With that experience, I hope to participate again as a poll watcher for the coming 2016 elections.

I am very happy to say that the candidate I volunteered for won. As part of the team, I was very nervous, even as I was counting. I could not imagine how that person must have felt! Thank God for the win, now we can all rest and look forward to a new chapter for our community!

Megan Young’s Success a Chance for Filipinos to Break Free from Xenocentrism

Photo taken from the official Megan Young Facebook Page

Photo taken from the official Megan Young Facebook Page

Though belated, I want to greet our very own Megan Young a big congratulations for winning the Miss World 2013 crown last September 28, 2013 in Bali, Indonesia! She, by far, is the most successful product of a locally-produced reality show. She started as one of the competitors in season 2 of the celebrity search “Starstruck” on GMA Network. I really thought that she would make it big back then, even if she finished off as an Avenger. Again, CONGRATULATIONS MEGAN YOUNG!

As with anyone who achieves worldwide success, Megan has already earned herself a bunch of critics, including a woman named Devina Dediva, who got attacked by Filipinos in the cyberworld. If you haven’t noticed yet, then I’ve to say that Filipinos don’t take criticism well, be it in the form of a joke, or a serious comment. Rather than ignore or meaningfully engage, many of us choose the low road and react defensively, complete with racist remarks, demands for public apology and calls to the government to declare certain public figures persona non grata. Many have publicly apologized. A personality has been declared persona non grata. And now Dediva has been fired from her job because of comments she had made.

This collective display of oversensitivity seems to be working, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. As the world is becoming more open because of social media, we Filipinos are called to be more mindful of our reactions, and engage when needed. It’s something that we have to learn to do, even if would take time. Megan Young’s success is an opportunity for us to begin doing this. If as a people we view racially-discriminatory remarks as unjust, shouldn’t we be applying it not just to us, but to everyone else?

Million People March at Ayala

Million People March 2

Right now, there is a discussion on the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP), prompted by Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s “revelation” about lawmakers who received money after voting to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Malacanang defended the allocation of such money, saying that they were released under what is called the Disbursement Allocation Program. While this “revelation” is significant as it shows the government’s larger system of spoils, this also seems like a blatant diversion to the PDAF scam. Estrada aimed to divert people’s attention away from the PDAF scam and his friends Bong Revilla, Johnny Enrile and Janet Lim Napoles, by making known the DAP scam. But it’s not making him look better, because he was also involved in it. He has placed himself in so much hot water, that he will come out deep-fried.

Anyway, why I am putting this issue again to the fore? Because for the nth time, I would want our government to know that we ARE watching and NOT stopping. I want people to not forget. The Philippine panopticon is working better and clearer upside down, contrast to the way its windows were fogged because of ultra-low temperature air-conditioning when it was standing upright. Our lawmakers used to not mind us the middle class – they couldn’t see through the fog that covered them and their corrupt ways. Now that they can see us, they are minding us, fearing and trying to hide from us.

The next rally that we will be having will be tomorrow, October 4, 2013, in Ayala Avenue, in Makati, from 5:30 pm onwards. It’s the second Million People March. Makati is the biggest business district Metro Manila, so I expect to see employees and big business leaders gather to listen to the concrete calls to action that will be laid out. In all of the Philippines’ people power history, this might be the most unromanticized one, and most productive just yet because it will have objective follow-throughs, not bent on exacting revenge on anyone, but real change in the system. Just like any business proposal that has been approved, the anti-PDAF movement will finally have a to-do list in order to reach its goals.

This is a good political exercise, because it shows the people’s propensity now to engage, not just with civil society groups, but private individuals who want change. It’s something monumental, and because of this, I hope all of us who can, would join.

“Freedom!”

My favorite song from the musical, “Les Miserables” is “Do You Hear the People Sing?”. I was delighted to find a Tagalog version of the song, penned by Youtube member dmmsanjuan:

Here are the lyrics:

Do You Hear The People Sing? (Tagalog version)
O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

Ikaw ba’y papanig na
Sa bayan na nagkaisa
Sa gitna nitong dilim
Liwanag ba’y iyong hiling
Kaya’t tayo na, humayo patungo sa paglaya!

O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

Ibibigay ba ang lahat
Nang adhika’y maging ganap
Mayro’ng mapapaslang
Makibaka’y tila sugal
Dugo ng martir
Ang sa lupa’y didilig!

O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

The song is apt as several of its lines speak about the people’s anger against widespread corruption in the government. Yesterday, two rallies occurred – a prayer rally at EDSA, and a rally lead by the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College along Katipunan Avenue aptly called “Katipunan Kontra Korupsyon”. Interestingly, I was wearing white but not on purpose (white is the color of the anti-pork barrel scam movement).

A few of the people I’ve met from the disciplines of political science and public governance have stated that if the Freedom of Information Bill was passed into law years back, then this would not have happened. 10 Billion Philippine Pesos have already been spent on making the oligarchs rich. For this it’s high time to pass the Freedom of Information bill. I first learned about the bill four years ago when I worked as a volunteer for Transparency and Accountability Network.  It was conceived almost twenty years ago and continues to languish. To read more about it, click here.

The reason why I’m writing this, is because of its significance in changing our government’s ways. I do not see the immediate and total abolition of the pork barrel by 2014, but I am hopeful. And as they are working towards abolishing it, then we must have concrete provisions that will allow us to see how the judiciary, legislative and executive (especially its agencies whom I hope will handle the budget for the different services) spend the appropriated money. This is my tax. This is your tax. To foreigners reading this – heck this is your Filipino friends’ and relatives’ taxes! We all deserve to know better, and the only real way to do this legally, is to pass the Freedom of Information Bill into law. With better budget appropriations, and this law, we will achieve a genuine sense of freedom, which we’ve long fought for.

Also, there is another rally in Luneta tomorrow:

rock and rage against pork

Until the government budges, we will not stop shoving them to the straight path they vowed to lead us to.

Right to Know, RIght Now! Scrap Pork Barrel!

Why Political Loyalism is Problematic

“If not for [personality], we wouldn’t have [public works/public services]”.

“If [personality] was the one in office, we wouldn’t have these problems, or he/she would address these problems better.”

I have heard of these arguments so many times. And I’m getting sick of it.

What makes political loyalism so problematic is that it perpetuates patron-client relations, dynasties and dependency. Because of personalistic ties, unjust practices or decisions are justified, glossed over or forgotten. Dynasties thrive when people elect more members from a certain known family based on the belief that they inherited their accomplished predecessors’ ability to govern and/or ability to provide and whatever legacy they left. Dependency occurs when people believe that once a person or a family is in office, their basic needs are taken care of, as well as their other expenses such as baptisms and funerals. As more constituents become indebted on them, and more people become indebted to them for giving them a job at the municipal office, political figures vie for political office, or assign their family members to run again and again. While some families do get the work done (the Dutertes, albeit in a very different way), many more others don’t.

Political loyalism also perpetuates unmerited hate or criticism towards other parties. For example, if you are a Marcos loyalist, you will never believe in an Aquino’s ability to implement livelihood projects, as Ninoy just talked a lot and Cory was not a good implementer. If you are a Corista, you will never believe that a Marcos has the right to advocate against politics in the Philippine Arts, because their father went against progressive politics.

Political loyalism also exalts normal work responsibilities. Political figures are applauded for building bridges, for lighting barrios and for other things that are naturally in their list of to-dos. It is like giving a standing ovation for an accountant who balanced the figures for a project’s expense, or for a janitor who rendered a public bathroom spotless. I understand the need to recognize political figures who have implemented excellent governance practices in place of systems and procedures that don’t work anymore, but not to the point of deifying them.

Lastly, political loyalism disallows for the democratization of public governance. Due to loyalism, people only recognize the legitimacy and ability of a few to govern, and vote for the same people, giving less or no chance to new entrants and new systems. Loyalism is also made as basis for a person’s appointment into an executive agency rather than merit.

Many people, even highly educated ones have the tendency to be loyalists to a political figure or family. And so even if many of them want systemic change, it would be hard to have that given that they contribute to the stagnation of the system.

In order for systemic change to occur, people must learn to let go of even the finest and weakest strands of loyalism they have for whomever in assessing political challenges and work as a person, or as a part of a community to make change.  Not one person nor family nor party can make the Philippines a better place.  All of us should act hand-in-hand.

Your Judgments About Other People Define You More Than Them

Judgements

Photo: The Hope Movement Tumblr

I’ll be honest – I had the tendency to judge a lot way before, based on a person’s appearance, the books they read, the places they hang out in or  the music they listen to. In other words, I only had shallow thoughts about other people. And I would defend myself by saying, “But that’s true!”

Let’s face it, a lot of us are guilty of that tendency to be shallow. We’ve raised our eyes at people in their twenty- or thirtysomethings who openly declare their love to K-Pop, One Direction, Miley Cyrus, Ke$ha and laugh at those who read (gasp!) Precious Hearts Romances.  We would not be caught hanging out in some dingy watering hole that play Filipino jukebox hits or have Aegis or April Boy Regino. We roll our eyes at anyone who wants to go all out fashionista in the Manila heat.

For all the angst we have against the capitalist or political elite, we ourselves have the tendency to be closed off and discriminatory against anyone who isn’t part of our “ranks”, and declare our observations as truth. And we do not kid when we judge based on our preferences. Our judgments are not part of some comedy bar spiel – our judgments form what we believe to be true about other people.

But “truth” is  very relative according to one’s upbringing and personal and social experiences.  What is true to me, may not be true to him or her. What is accepted as uncool to me, is accepted as awesome to another person. What’s accepted as hip for me, is seen as over-the-top for another person. At the end of the day, these aren’t really important. Entertainment and fashion preferences don’t define you, but your behavior in terms of interacting with other people, including how you view them. Your judgments on other people define you and your relationship with them. Other things that define you is the way you deal with good opportunities and face challenges and also partly your political beliefs.

That is why I love the expressions “Walang basagan ng trip”, and “Kanya-kanyang trip iyan”. The two Filipino expressions basically mean that a person has his/her own preferences and should be left to live life and love the things that he/she likes. It connotes respect for a person and the context he or she is in. Of course there are certain limitations. Committing heinous crimes, being corrupt and doing other blatantly evil and hurtful acts are excluded.

That’s all. So before saying anything about another person, remember – your judgments about other people define you more than them.

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