Thursday, December 15, 2005
There was buzz last week in Radar (and summarized by Martha) that Brandon Routh only got the role of Superman because director Bryan Singer thought he'd look super in a pair of tights. That post sparked a lot of comments ("Give me a break!!!! This is just homophobe crap!" - Wil; "Cinematical reaches a new low!" - Alexei), so I thought you'd like to know that the Routh rumors are getting ever more salacious. Various UK tabloids (we picked it up through The Movie Blog) are reporting that the bulge in Routh's tights is apparently so apparent that Warner Brothers is considering using digital trickery to cover it up. I seem to remember the exact same rumor popping up (no pun intended) when George Clooney was cast as Batman, but no matter – here's the quote:"It's a major issue for the studio. Brandon is extremely well endowed and they don't want it up on the big screen ... We may be forced to erase his package with digital effects."Alright, kids – procede to fight amongst yourselves.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
"THERE was a time when we would set up our pots and a fire on the beach, close to the water. We would then paddle the water and the fish would jump out of the sea, straight into the pots! That was how much fish we had then!"
That was Toti Menguito, guardian of the Gilutongan Marine Sanctuary in Cordova town in the province of Cebu, describing what it was like at one time on his island to a group of about a dozen visitors from different organizations invited to visit their project.
Was he giving us a fish tale? I don't think so. It wasn't the first time I've heard such stories from Filipino fisherfolk. They all talk of a time, not too long ago, when the oceans and rivers were filled with fish. And as an anthropologist, I can believe that, because all over the Philippines, I've found that many of the traditional fishing gear that's been developed-rattan baskets for example-were clearly meant for fishing not too far from the shore.
My guess then is that Toti wasn't exaggerating about the abundance of fish in Gilutongan. Even today, the area around Gilutongan still has some marine resources that residents are trying very hard to preserve through their marine sanctuary, one that is managed by the community, from patrolling the waters to doing periodic reef checks to see if they had managed to slow down the destruction of marine life to family planning education.
Now, you might ask, how did family planning get into the picture? Several Filipino nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), notably Path Philippines and Save the Children, are now combining family planning with environment programs, which really makes sense. We can't keep romanticizing environmental conservation by reducing it to an admiration of mountains and trees and birds; we have to deal with the human population that depletes and destroys these resources.
The stress on the environment is always most obvious in coastal communities. Maybe because our marine resources were once so abundant, coastal areas have always attracted settlers who, perhaps because of the easy life, quickly grew. The demographic surveys have always shown fishing communities to have higher fertility rates. In Gilutongan, I found several households with more than six children, with gaps of about a year between siblings. In one case, there was a couple with six children occupying a hut not more than 10 square meters, the space used as a bedroom, kitchen, living room. The mother was 36 years old but looked like she was in her 50s.
Everywhere I went there were children with scabies and other skin infections, their stomachs bloated from intestinal worms. Childhood ends early in such a setting-there was an 11-year old boy, stunted and underweight, who came in with some fish he had caught. Path's survey shows that in these communities, the males are dropping out earlier from school to help with fishing.
The options are narrowing for fishing communities, the seas not even providing enough for a family's subsistence needs. A report from the Department of Environment notes that fisherfolk in the area sometimes have to go fishing in Bohol, Surigao, Palawan or even as far as Malaysia to bring in aquarium fish, abalone, octopus, sea cucumber, and sharks' fin, all of which are meant for export. They do this using the simplest of equipment, described as pinobreng panagat (poor man's gear) that cannot compete with large commercial fishing ventures. The temptation to use cyanide is always there.
Gilutongan has developed alternative livelihoods. There's some seaweed farming going on. There's an eco-tourism program that charges entrance fees to divers, and it's been quite successful, bringing in some two million pesos in fees, part of which has gone back into community development, including the construction of a guardhouse and the installation of solar power. But the island still does not have its own health center or health personnel. Neither does it have a potable water supply. Residents are also aware that tourism, even eco-tourism, has its risks, and are thinking of imposing a quota on visitors.
When I visited, the island was already inundated with election posters and stickers. One sticker caught my eye, something about "Kontra Aborsyon" (against abortion). I asked about the sticker, but no one was sure which candidate had put it up. I found it almost a cruel joke, trying to get elected on an anti-abortion platform. This is an island where the most basic health services are not available, where family planning was only recently introduced. Here, women become pregnant year after year and abortion is probably not an option -- no money and lots of gossip.
It was a hot day when I visited, but I decided against going out swimming. Some of those who did go out came back glowing, describing the colorful corals and fish, and how you could just float there all day in perfect bliss, in this tropical paradise. Unfortunately, for too many of the children in these fishing communities, the reality is that of paradise lost.
WHO can ever forget that grand Hollywood production, "The Ten Commandments"? Think, too, of how it has influenced the way we look at ethics and morality as rules set in stone, literally handed down by God amid thunder and lightning, to be followed word for word, through all time.
I am sure there are similar interpretations of ethics in other religions, "being good" identified with religiosity, with rituals and prayers and following prescribed rules of what to do and what not to do accompanied by threats of reward (heaven) and punishment (hell or purgatory).
Lately, people have started to talk of the need for spirituality, which I think is a positive move in the way it refers to a world-view, a sense of right or wrong, that comes out of critical reflection and discernment. Unfortunately though, words have a way of becoming trivialized and sometimes I suspect people still mean "religiosity" when they talk about the need for "spirituality." I hear references, for example, to "Catholic spirituality," implying some absolute monolithic model, again handed down from the heavens like in a Hollywood film. This usage again defines one's own group as distinct from "others," usually implying one's own "spirituality" is superior to that of others.
In reality, there are many different Catholic spiritualities, and even more variations of Christian spiritualities, all of them ways of trying to be like Christ, or at least an aspect of Christ. These spiritualities are often associated with particular religious orders, reflecting the thinking of its founders who, in turn, were shaped by the historical circumstances in which they lived.
That's a lot of words to process, so let's get straight to some examples which I'm drawing from a book by Chris Lowney called "Heroic Leadership," which focuses on Jesuit spirituality (another column, I promise) and a lecture in 2002 by the Ateneo de Manila University's Father Bienvenido Nebres.
We start off with Benedictine spirituality. The Benedictine order was established in the 6th century, at a time when Europe was in ferment, slowly slipping into what has been called the Dark Ages, as Attila the Hun and his "barbaric" hordes destroyed what was left of the Roman Empire.
Benedictine spirituality sought to retreat from the chaos of the outside world, offering order through monastic life and discipline. Benedictine monks had to take a vow of stability, agreeing to stay in a monastic house until they died, their lives revolving around the rhythm of prayers, seven times a day from Matins at 2 a.m. to the Compline at 7 p.m.
It wasn't all prayer in the monasteries-the monks appreciated the dignity of labor, growing their own food and becoming quite self-sufficient. What was striking about the Benedictines was that they never really retreated from the world, their monasteries actually open to visitors and the outside world. Today, some Benedictines generate income through computer work, still faithful to their sixth-century principle of Order through Labor.
The Franciscans emerged several centuries later, in the 12th century. Europe was moving out of the Dark Ages, with urban centers developing together with a new and affluent merchant class. Against this backdrop, we have Francis of Assisi developing a religious order that rejected the lifestyles of the rich, seeking to identify with the poor Christ. Franciscan spirituality comes closest to current New Age philosophies, with an emphasis on harmony with nature and simplicity. Saint Francis' feast day is used, even today, for a blessing of pets, commemorating his own closeness to nature.
The Dominicans were contemporaries of the Franciscans, established literally as Ordo Praecatorium (O.P.), the Order of Preachers. They were established at a time when the Catholic Church was highly factionalized, with the groups attacking each other as heretics. The Order of Preachers was there to uphold The Faith. To this day, Dominican schools emphasize theology and philosophy, and are generally thought of as conservatives although there are in fact Dominicans today who believe that preaching includes defense of the poor and upholding social justice.
The Society of Jesus was established in the 16th century, at a time when Protestantism was rapidly growing, literally in protest against the Catholic religious' excesses. The Jesuits' founder was a former soldier, and drew from the military for many of his religious metaphors. Instead of retreating from the world, the Jesuits chose to engage the world, setting off for the most difficult and remote places.
Our schools -- Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, or secular, as with government institutions -- need to make students more conscious of the different spiritualities that exist, how they came about, and how the spiritualities need to respond to the needs of our times, as they did in the past.
I studied in Jesuit schools for 12 years and am realizing how this education continues to shape my view of the world, sometimes in paradoxical ways. I think of how my staying in the University of the Philippines and (so far) resisting invitations to join the Ateneo de Manila full-time could in fact be a function of this Jesuit upbringing and spirituality, this sense that we need to give priority to hardship areas like the University of the Philippines!
We might want to ask ourselves, too, if our problems as a nation might have come about because we have imbibed too little of spirituality, and too much of the trappings of religion with its emphasis on public performances of piety and charity, its holier-than-thou sectarianism, its intolerant and divisive dogmatism.
Our redemption as a nation may yet come as we learn from the different spiritualities that women and men have developed through the ages, responding to the needs of their times. Even limiting ourselves to the four "Catholic" spiritualities I just described, we will find they offer many lessons for life.
The Jesuits remind us that Christ did engage the world, often with great passion, but the Franciscans remind us Christ did all this without armies, without material wealth. (Some) Dominicans remind us we need to preach, but that Christ was most effective when he preached through deeds.
And the Benedictines, I will admit they do "tempt" me too with their reminders that while we might want to engage the world, we should guard against being engulfed by it, and that there will be times, too, when we need to build peace within our own homes and our hearts, without having to set up walls.
THEY'RE married off at the rate of 25,000 each day. That's each day, not each year.
Child brides are those who are married before the age of 18. In several countries, these young marriages are actually the norm. The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) gives some startling figures, noting that in Niger, 82 percent of girls would have been married by the age of 18. In Bangladesh, the figure is 75 percent, in Mali it's 63 percent, in Ethiopia and India it's 57 percent.
Some readers are probably not too shocked, having seen teenagers getting married, but when we talk about child brides, we include quite a large number of very young girls. In Nepal, according to the ICRW, 7 percent of girls are married before the age of 10. By the age of 15, 40 percent would have been married.
Again, one could be callous and ask, "So?" Mary, the mother of Jesus, was probably about 14 or 15 when she was pregnant, again reflecting norms that persisted for many centuries in many societies. Many of us, myself included, might in fact have grandmothers or great-grandmothers who were married at a very young age.
Last week I attended the Global Health Council's annual conference in Washington and one of the main themes discussed was early marriage, with several papers discussing the terrible consequences on individuals and on societies of such traditions.
Some of the problems these child brides face deal with biology. Sexual intercourse, pregnancy and childbirth all carry risks for these young girls because their bodies aren't quite prepared for the physiological stress. There are all kinds of complications accompanying pregnancy, including a prolapse of the uterus (buwa in Filipino). A Tagalog aphorism about a pregnant woman having one foot in the grave probably grew out of observations of the many young girls who died delivering a child (literally, a child delivering a child, when you think about it).
I was struck though by one of the presentations at the Global Health Council meeting where they showed death rates of young mothers. The figures were astronomically high for developing countries, but when they showed the figures for teenage mothers in the United States, the death rate was miniscule. The point made by the speaker was that the health risks for child brides go beyond biology and may in fact be largely determined by society and culture, such as the type of health care provided.
Certainly, there's a world of a difference between a 13-year-old American girl and her counterpart in, say, Bangladesh. Young girls in Third World countries are much more vulnerable because they are practically powerless. They are married off to men they may have never seen before. Once married, they become their husband's property, there to serve the husband's family and to bear his children. In such settings, they are much more prone to abuse from the husband and his family.
In many countries, the power inequality between the bride and the groom is amplified by a large age difference, meaning the male is often much older than the child brides. Dr. Judith Bruce of the Population Council pointed out how this age difference increases the risks of the child brides for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS: Because the men are older, they would have had more sexual partners, including the possibilities of having acquired HIV/AIDS. In other cases, these older men continue to have unprotected sex with many partners even after marrying the young bride.
Bruce had statistics to show that these child brides are at greater risk of being infected with HIV because as someone who is married, they have sex more often than a sexually active single girl, and that sex is almost always unprotected since obviously she cannot ask her husband to use a condom. In fact, these young brides are often under intense pressure to start having children as early as possible.
Bruce and the other speakers emphasized that this tradition of early marriage is part of a cycle of poverty. It is mainly in poor families where you have early marriage. In urban slums and rural areas, parents will not invest in the education of their daughters because they see them as liabilities, girls who will leave them eventually. Sometimes, the poverty pushes them to marry off their daughters as early as possible.
Once married, these girls will no longer be able to stay in school. They tend to be socially isolated, sequestered at home to raise another generation of children where daughters are again deprived of opportunities to break out of the intergenerational cycles of early marriage and poverty.
Ultimately, society pays for this. The young brides, as well as their children, face greater risks for illness and death. The young brides also represent "wasted human capital," reduced to becoming baby-makers.
What's the situation in the Philippines? Officially, our Family Code prescribes a minimum age of 18 for marriage, but there are quite a number of exceptions here. Indigenous communities, for example, are allowed to use custom law for marriages, which can mean very young brides and grooms.
In addition, Presidential Decree 1083, issued during the time of Marcos, prescribes Sharia or Islamic law for marriages, allowing "any Muslim male at least fifteen years of age and any Muslim female of the age of puberty or upwards" to get married. The law actually states that a Sharia court can order marriage for a girl aged between 12 and 15.
Many of these early marriages among cultural minorities and Muslims will be arranged, which means the young brides have little negotiating power to protect themselves from abuse.
Let's not forget, too, that even among Christian Filipinos, it's common to fake the age of a young couple where the girl has become pregnant and the family wants to rush a marriage. To avoid social stigma, a young girl is condemned to an early marriage. The only consolation we have here is that in these situations, the early pregnancy and marriage are more likely to have occurred because of courtship, involving a young male and female. The power inequality would not be as problematic, but "love" itself, as we know too well, doesn't necessarily mean a better life for the young couple, especially the bride.
I have a student who is doing her doctoral research on these young couples, her research site being a typical lowland Christian community in one of the Central Luzon provinces. I'm hoping other graduate students will do similar research in other settings, including our cultural minority groups, on a topic around which there's too much silence, and acceptance.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
by : Jose Arvin Mesa Dogillo
(1) The one extreme is the idea that goes something like this: "Me teacher. You student. You do, think and act exactly as I command if you want to learn or be anything."
(2) The other extreme: "There are no teachers and no students for we are all teachers, and we are all students. One person is not above another and everyone's words have equal value."
Even though people in these two camps see each other as an agent of evil and opposite to themselves, the concept espoused by each has the same effect.
And what is that?
That effect is to turn the student into a non-thinking animal, or "beast," as it is called in the Book of Revelations.
THE ILLUSION OF EXTREME #1 There are many problems associated with Extreme One.
(1) No earthly teacher is flawless. Therefore, if you are limited to learning exactly according to the mindset of the teacher you will also inherit his flaws.
(2) This black and white method of teaching only allows for the dissemination of facts and not principles. It takes a thousand facts to create the understanding of one principle, but one principle can reveal an infinite number of facts. Therefore an enlightened teacher will stimulate understanding of principles.
For instance, the Keys of Knowledge are centered around principles and cannot be revealed as mere facts, or they will not be comprehended.
We will talk more about principles and facts in future books and writings.
(3) This method takes away freedom of thought. Instead of stimulating the student's own intuition by directing him toward his own soul, the teacher steals his thought process from him by demanding that he accept everything without question.
An example of an extreme failure of a student from this mindset is the religious fanatic who will kill himself and others with a bomb tied to his back so he can secure a place in heaven. Another example would be the Jim Jones group who committed mass suicide. Still another - the group that goes to the mountain top to be raptured (because their teacher set a certain date) only to discover that Jesus seemed to have changed his mind because they were just not good enough.
These are extreme examples, but all who follow the black and white teacher of the first extreme have their progress tied up to some degree in actions of a similar degree of ridiculousness.
THE ILLUSION OF EXTREME #2 This is the feel-good extreme, the seemingly safe extreme, the we-are-not-judging-each-other extreme. How could this extreme be negative if the intent is to establish equality?
Remember another extreme that tried to establish equality? It was and is called Communism. The ideal of equality sought in Communism has nothing wrong with it, but because it diffused individual thought, freedom and soul contact it turned into a great evil.
The great illusion of extreme #2 is that the basic ideal is good, but this ideal is attempted through illusion. True equality can only be achieved through true principles and freedom, not illusion.
The truth overlooked in extreme #2 is this: In the reality we are presently in, there are teachers and there are students. Even though there is an equality on the soul level we are very diverse on the physical, emotional and mental levels.
To understand this we must first define what a student and teacher is. The student and teacher are a symbol of the two basic energies of the universe which are represented as positive-negative; yin-yang; male-female; light-dark; hot-cold, and finally giving-receiving. These two energies flows or items are called the dualities. Wherever there is form there exists positive-negative, giving and receiving. Thus, in any relationship of two people one will be polarized as the teacher (giver) and the other as the student (the receiver).
Objection: In most relationships you are sometimes the teacher or giver, and other times the student and receiver. It seems egotistical to think of yourself as always the teacher.
Answer: All of us have within us the giving and receiving (positive-negative) principles, but we are talking about polarization here. If you are polarized as a male, this means you have more male energies within you than female. It does not mean that you do not have female energies available.
In a relationship, you both give and receive, but the giving and receiving is NEVER equal in this world. If you are giving more than receiving, then by default you become the teacher in the relationship. Because this statement is true and truth must be recognized to escape from this veil of illusion, then this student-teacher relationship must be recognized before true equality can even be dreamed of.
Let us take the relationship I have with Rick, the initiator of the Keys of Knowledge list. Overall I am polarized as his teacher, but the true teacher will always be open to receiving from the student when the opportunity permits. Rick gave me that opportunity by presenting the idea of a discussion group. Now if I saw that this was a bad idea I would have remained in the teaching position and taught him why it was a bad idea, but because I could find no reason to object I became obligated to become the student for a time and let him carry the ball and let him teach me. As long as the direction he was going registers well with my soul I am obligated as a disciple of truth to follow.
The highest of the Masters who have overcome physical death would see themselves polarized as a teacher in a relationship with any of us, yet they still recognize that we can do certain things better than they can. For example, most of us in the human kingdom understand that we are of much higher intelligence overall than any animal. No animal, for instance, would have any concept about building an automobile or spacecraft as man has done. But on the other hand, a human can never build a beaver damn as well as a beaver. Beavers already have the knowledge to build them better and faster than we can.
The relationship of the God Kingdom to man is similar in correspondence to the human kingdom and the animal. The attention of the Masters is set on many lofty ideas that man does not even comprehend, yet there are many things in the human world that man is more capable of performing well than is the Highest of Masters.
This is the main reason we do not see more of them, as the more directly they become involved by doing for us what we can do for ourselves, the more things get screwed up.
The powers that be learned this painful lesson during Atlantis. During part of this period the Masters associated much more freely with humans and gave them much knowledge that they were not yet ready to handle. The result was that the entire civilization was destroyed and we had to start over again.
The Masters learned their lesson and this time have committed themselves to only helping us when we cannot help ourselves. They do assist behind the scenes but only work through our personal desires and free will.
The goal at present is to move certain groups in the human kingdom towards alignment with the kingdom of God so heaven and earth can be brought together. This will result in a truly beneficial interplay between the two kingdoms that will assist rather than destroy humanity.
Now getting back to the Teacher-Student principle, I will say this. It is extremely important that this concept be recognized because without it we will be polarized on one of the above extremes; the only way we will advance toward the soul in that case is through tremendous pain. Discovering where your right place is in a relationship creates a detour around the pain and progression toward the greater light.
In the true student-teacher relationship authority is only recognized because it is earned.
Let's say you want to learn Spanish and two teachers surface who say they can teach you. They both seem equally convincing, but the truth is that one of them knows the language well and the other one does not. If you accept either as an authority just because he or someone else tells you to, then you have a 50-50 chance of getting a bad teacher. What do you do? You test the teacher. Have him actually speak some Spanish. Give him several paragraphs from English and see if he can translate and then check out the translation for correctness. Finally, you will establish in your mind that one of them can truly teach you.
Once you have tested your teacher then you do not have to check up on him in every little detail; but when you have learned the basics and want to go to advanced Spanish, you do need to check again to see if he has anything more for you or if you need to move on to another teacher. This point is dangerous ground for the student, for sometimes his false ego will convince him that he knows Spanish as well or better than the teacher when in reality he may not. In this case the student often goes off to teach before he has learned all the lessons.
To be a good student takes as much wisdom as it does to be a good teacher. In the case of spiritual teachings, the ultimate test of truth is from the inner self. This inner self, through the medium of the Soul, contacts and registers the Holy Spirit, which is capable of verifying all true principles. In short, this process is called "soul contact." Soul contact has little to do with facts, except in important circumstances, but it has much to do with principles. For instance, your soul may not verify to you what an inhabitant of Sirius looks like or how many there are, but it will verify to you the principle of life and its existence elsewhere in the universe.
If a man or woman comes forth and presents or is presented as a spiritual teacher, you must not accept him or her (we'll say "him" for simplicity) just because a claim is made. You must test him.
How do you test him? Listen to his words and test them with your soul. If your soul says no then drop him immediately. If your soul says nothing then test some more until you receive an inner response. When you finally do receive an inner response does this mean you should now accept the teacher?
Maybe yes, maybe no - because there is a true soul contact and a false one. There are many people who are sincere seekers who have never in their life received a true soul contact and therefore mistake a high emotional feeling for soul. This can be very deceptive and can produce the type of person who may have anything from a harmless delusion to one who will destroy others for his master. If you are not sure you have ever received soul contact it means you have not - at least in fullness. When you do, you recognize it and know what has happened. It is like coming home.
On the other hand, not all who are sure they have received soul contact have received it. Some feel a high emotional energy and are sure they have touched the aura of God Himself, yet are completely deceived.
Only those who have received true soul contact can know a thing for sure and can recognize a true teacher from a false one. The only way to know if another has achieved soul contact is to achieve it yourself. One person who has received this contact can recognize another who has received it.
Question: If only a small number have soul contact and you're not positive if you have, are you doomed to be deceived?
No you are not. Soul contact is available to all who with pure intent seek after it. The seeker does not even have to be highly evolved to feel it. But if you are not sure if you have received it yet, here are some guidelines to keep you on the right course.
(1) Keep your intentions pure and seek the service of the whole above the service to the ego.
(2) Seek with sincerity to know more and to go higher.
(3) Let common sense rule above lower emotional feeling. If your teacher says that aliens are coming to pick you up on a certain date and then they don't arrive, that ought to tell you something. No matter what excuses he makes he was wrong and now all his teachings should be suspect. Maybe you should be teaching him.
(4) When any degree of soul contact is reached and you receive direction from the soul, keep following that instruction until more is given. If you do not, you may be cut off for a long period and wind up in an illusionary path. Always follow the highest you can perceive.
(5) Remember the words of the Master: "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be who enter, but wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to death and many there be who go therein." The teachers of the wide gate are legion and are easy to find. The teachers who lead to the life of the soul are few, but fortunately can be verified by the soul.
As one who sees himself presenting true spiritual principles, I invite you to check with your souls about the writings that are to be presented here. As you read this and the many teachings to follow you are encouraged to always check with the still small voice that dwells within so you can verify the truth of all things presented.
"The matter of prime importance to each student is not the fact of a particular teacher's personality but the measure of truth for which he stands, and the student's power to discriminate between truth, partial truth, and falsity."
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Arsenal began as a works team for the Woolwich Armaments. They were founded in 1886 as Dial Square. The name soon became Woolwich Arsenal and they played their first match at Plumstead Common. They soon joined the old Second Division playing regularly against professional clubs.
The problem with South London was that it was difficult to get to; attendances were therefore low. After short spell in the First Division their lack of attendances (and consequent lack of money) meant that they had mediocre players. By 1913 they were back struggling in the Second Division. There would be three turning points in the history of the club that would transform them into one of the most famous in the world.
The first turning point was the move to North London. The club chairman wanted to merge Woolwich Arsenal with Fulham but that plan fell through. So a ground was found near a theological college in Highbury not far from Gillespie Road Underground station on the Piccadilly Line. Access was good from all parts of London, and the area was residential thus supplying supporters. Tottenham Hotspur, four miles away, objected to the move but were over-ruled; the South London club maintaining that there was enough potential support for both clubs.
In 1915 the move was completed and the club dropped the Woolwich from its name to become Arsenal. However, it was still an average Second Division team. In 1919 Arsenal won election to the First Division when it was expanded to 22 clubs. This was the second turning point in Arsenal's history. Since this election was at the expense of neighbours Tottenham, this set the enmity between the two clubs that lasts to this day.
The 1920s saw Arsenal as an average First Division club usually finishing in the middle of the table. The third turning point in Arsenal's history occurred when Herbert Chapman was appointed manager. He had made Huddersfield Town the dominant team in the 20s. Highbury was the platform he needed to try out his new ideas. He took Arsenal to 2nd in the First Division in 1926 and to the FA Cup Final in 1927. They lost 0 - 1 to Cardiff City (the only time that the FA Cup has gone out of England). This was still the best that Arsenal had done so far in their history.
It was during the 1930s that Arsenal became a football force. Chapman built a new stadium complete with marble halls, set up under-soil heating so that matches could be played in all weathers, set up the best medical facilities in the country to treat players, and began youth schemes to train young players. His proposals to number shirts and have floodlights were rejected by the football authorities. His innovations showed he was a man ahead of his time. Tactically, Chapman was astute enough to attack the weaknesses of other teams while playing to Arsenal's strengths. Outside of football, Chapman, had the tube station's name changed to Arsenal. Chapman made Arsenal the most successful and richest club in the country. Everybody wanted to beat them.
In 1930 Arsenal won their first trophy, the FA Cup, beating Chapman's old club, Huddersfield Town, 2 - 0. In 1931, Arsenal became the first London club to win the First Division Championship. They set up a new points total which was not bettered for 30 years. In 1932, Arsenal almost became the first club this Century to win both the FA Cup and the League. They finished 2nd in both, losing the FA Cup Final 1 - 2 to Newcastle United. In 1933, 1934, 1935 Arsenal were Champions, one of only three clubs to win three consecutive Championships. They had their upsets however: in 1933 they lost a cup game to Walsall of the old Third Division, a team that cost less than Arsenal's boots. Chapman died during this period, but he is considered to have been the first modern football manager. In 1934, England played an international game with seven Arsenal players, still a record. 1936 saw a second FA Cup win (1 - 0 against Sheffield United). During that season, Ted Drake set a record by scoring 7 goals in an away game at Aston Villa. A fourth Championship was captured in 1938 before World War II stopped competitive football for six years.
In 1947, professional football resumed but the ravages of war left Arsenal weaker. They were almost relegated from the top division. They rallied in 1948 leading from start to finish to capture their fifth Championship. Towards the end of that season, a match against second placed Manchester United attracted over 82,000 people. That remains the highest ever attendance for a league game in England.
1950 saw a third FA Cup win (2 - 0 against Liverpool). Arsenal won the Cup without leaving London. They were back at Wembley in 1952 but lost 0 - 1 to Newcastle United after an injury. This was in the days before substitutes were allowed. In 1953, a win in the final match gave Arsenal their 7th Championship, then a record. They finished equal on points to Preston North End but had scored more goals!
The next 17 years were barren for Arsenal followers. The lack of trophies was made worse by the fact that Tottenham had their golden period between 1960 and 1967. During those years Tottenham became the first club this century to win the FA Cup and League in the same season (1961), retained the Cup in 1962, became the first English club to win one of the new European trophies (1963), and won the FA Cup again in 1967.
In 1961 the League Cup had started. Arsenal reached the final of this trophy (called the Micky Mouse Cup by some!) in 1968 but lost 0 - 1 to Leeds United. A year later they returned to the final and faced Third Division Swindon Town. Arsenal were hot favourites. In fact they lost 1 - 3 after extra time. A flu virus was partially blamed but this was Arsenal's lowest point in recent times. Little did they know that it was to be the beginning of a new golden age.
Although they'd won nothing, Arsenal had finished high enough in the League to qualify for the one of the European competitions that had began during the late 1950s. In the end they won the European Fairs Cup by beating one of Belgium's best sides, Anderlecht, over two games. Arsenal lost 1 - 3 in Belgium but a packed Highbury saw their team win 3 - 0 to take their first trophy for 17 years.
1971 was a classic year for Arsenal. One Monday in May, thousands were locked out of Tottenham's ground as Arsenal won 1 - 0 in the final League game of the season. This result allowed Arsenal to overhaul Leeds United and take their eighth Championship. Five days later they came from behind to beat Liverpool 2 - 1 in the FA Cup Final to become only the second club this Century to 'do the double'. A year later, Arsenal returned to Wembley but lost 0 - 1 to a Leeds United side looking for revenge.
Arsenal reached the FA Cup Final in three consecutive years during the 70s, the first time a club had done so this Century. The first Final was lost 0 - 1 to Ipswich Town, the second won 3 - 2 against Manchester United, the third lost 0 - 1 to West Ham United after a gruelling four match semi-final against Liverpool.
Most disappointing of all was what happened after the 1980 Final. Arsenal had also reached the final of the Cup Winners Cup, another European competition. The game was against the Spanish club, Valencia. It ended 0 - 0 after extra time and Arsenal lost on penalties.
The early 80s were quiet. In 1986 George Graham became manager of Arsenal. He turned out to be Arsenal's most successful manager. In 1987, Arsenal finally won the League Cup (by this time called the Littlewoods Cup). They beat old rivals Tottenham in the semi-final, and came from behind to take the final 2 - 1 against Liverpool. 1988 saw Arsenal squander a 2 - 1 lead to lose 3 - 2 against Luton Town.
In 1989, Arsenal went to Liverpool for the final game of the season needing to win by two clear goals to be Champions. Leading by only a goal, as Liverpool began to celebrate, Arsenal scored a last minute goal to win 2 - 0 and snatch the Championship from under the noses of the Liverpool supporters.
Two years later (1991), Arsenal lost only one League game (a record for the 20th Century) to take their 10th Championship with a frustrated Liverpool finishing second. Only Liverpool have the won the Championship more times.
In 1993 Arsenal completed a unique cup double by becoming the only club to win the League Cup (now called the Coca Cola Cup) and the FA Cup in one season. They won both finals by 2 - 1 against Sheffield Wednesday, the winning goal in the FA Cup coming in the last minute of extra time. Their appearance in 12 FA Cup Finals was a record.
1994 saw Arsenal win their second European trophy, beating the Italian club Parma, 1 - 0 in Copenhagan. They reached the 1995 final only to lose 1 - 2 to a last minute goal against Real Zaragosa. By this time George Graham had left under a cloud.
Arsene Wenger became Arsenal's first foreign manager in 1996. In 1998, Arsenal completed the double for the second time in their history. Coming from 12 points behind, Arsenal won ten games on the trot to beat Manchester United to the championship. In the FA Cup final Arsenal beat Newcastle United by 2 - 0.
The following year they finished second in the League and reached the semi-final of the FA Cup.
In 2000 Arsenal again finished second in the League and reached the final of the UEFA Cup. They lost on penalties to the Turkish club, Galatasaray after a 0 - 0 draw. A year later they finished second in the League for the third year running and played in the FA Cup final in Cardiff, losing to Liverpool, 1 - 2.
In 2002 Arsenal returned to Cardiff to win the FA Cup 2 - 0 against Chelsea. A few days later a 1 - 0 win at Manchester United gave Arsenal their 12th Championship and their third double. They completed an entire season without losing away, a feat not done since 1889.
They couldn't quite retain the Championship in 2003, finishing second after a promising start. They did retain the FA Cup beating Southampton 1 - 0 in their third successive final.
In 2004, Arsenal won the Championship and went through the entire league season (38 games) unbeaten. They completed a record-breaking run of 49 unbeaten league matches which began from the penultimate game of the 2003 season and ended on the ninth match of 2005. It was not enough to retain the League but another FA Cup was won, on penalties against Manchester United.
In the League, Arsenal's 79 consecutive years in the top division is a League record.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Calbayog ko...mutya ka nga pinili...an dagway mo...labi sin kahamili...burabod ka sin kahimyang...langit nga kahimtang ug kalinaw...bulahan an imo ngaran sa bisan diin Calbayog sangyaw...baraan ka...minahal ka san adlaw...kay bisan la an bugnaw sa haropoy mo...nakakapukaw sadton may inop... sa pisngi nakablit ug naharok...tugahan nga puroy-an...sadang kamatyan ko...
Thursday, September 15, 2005
THEY flapped their wings, scratched the ground, and wiggled their tails as they danced and romped through the main streets of Calbayog City, during the vesper day parade on Sept. 7, held in celebration of the city fiesta in honor of the Our Lady of Nativity.
People lined both sides of the street to witness another performance of the Sarakiki-Hadang Festival. They also went to the Christ the King College grounds for the formal presentation of a dance ritual by the skilled dancers dressed like chickens. In fact, the dancers had become the joy and pride of the locals who would always crow about the dance group's success.
The group was first organized as the Sarakiki Festival in the mid-1990s, during the term of then Mayor Reynaldo Uy, who is now the representative of Samar's first district. The city government wanted then to have a festival that would instill pride and sense of identity among the Calbayognons and to unify them as one community. They settled on the Sarakiki Festival.
Sarakiki is said to be based on the legend of Ilahas and Mahusay, which means wildlife and beautiful. According to legend, Ilahas invented a new dance that he and Mahusay performed before their tribe in Ibatan (now Calbayog). The dance movements were patterned after those of a cock.
Sarakiki is a Waray term that describes the movement of a rooster when it tries to court a hen or to provoke another rooster to a fight. The cock spreads one of his wings down and moves fast with one leg up, around the object his love or enemy. Imitating the rooster, the dancers also clench their fists with the thumbs out, to represent the fowl's gaff (tadi in Waray and tari in Tagalog).
Incidentally, the dance movements can also be seen in the kuratsa, a popular courtship dance of the Warays.
Since its first public appearance, the city government, through the City Arts and Culture Office, has sponsored the Sarakiki Festival. Aside from the city officials, parents, students and members of private organizations have also been supportive of the event.
When Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento assumed office in 2001, the holding of the festival was temporarily stopped. It was revived the following year as the Sarakiki-Hadang Festival.
Hadang is an ancient rite said to have been performed by early Calbayognons when asking the gods for a bountiful harvest, cure of the sick, or the defeat of the enemy, among others.
A Hadang Ritual Competition marked the opening of the recent week-long festival. The first prize went to the Trinidad National High School, while the national high schools of Oquendo and San Joaquin bagged the second and third prizes.
Among the other features of the celebration were cultural shows, body-painting contest, band competition and a regional brain and beauty contest dubbed "Search for Miss Anyag 2003," which was won by 18-year-old Ruby Rose Reyes of nearby Gandara, Samar.
The Sarakiki-Hadang Festival group is composed of 109 student-dancers from different city schools and 15 city government employees. It uses at least 12 bamboo drums, 12 snare drums and six bass drums.
And whenever the beating of the drums starts, lead dancer Eddie "Wacky" Flores again leads his flock of dancing chickens in what seemed to be a frenzied but actually well-coordinated movements that never fail to enthrall the crowd.
With adrenaline rushing, Wacky and his fellow dancers perform the rooster's courtship movement by swaying their body, stomping their feet, and flailing their hands to the rhythm of the drumbeats.
On his own, Wacky would perform his own version of the "chicken walk" or wag his long feather tail to the delight of the crowd.
The Sarakiki has already won several awards in regional competitions. During the recent Tandaya-Ibabao Festival of Festivals in Tacloban City, it no longer competed but performed an exhibition number.
In the national scene, the group was recently adjudged second runner-up during the Aliwan Festival dance competition in May at the Star City. It was also invited to perform during the opening on Sept. 18 of the "Best in Region 8," an activity sponsored by the Department of Tourism under its "WOW Philippines" program.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Pinoy Big Brother who? Pinoy Big Brother is the owner of the Big Brother House, the place where 12 complete strangers will try to live their bizarre lifestyle for 100 days. He is the mysterious voice that delegates tasks and challenges to the 12 housemates. He also listens to the confessions of the 12 strangers as they go through their rigorous Big Brother lifestyle. The Arrival From a hotel located in Ortigas, the housemates arrived one by one infront of the house as hosts Willie Revillame, Toni Gonzaga and Marielle Rodriguez introduced them to the millions of viewers watching in their homes. This was also the first time that the twelve housemates saw and greet each other. First to arrive was housmate Frederico Barrera. He was followed by Chx Alcala, Jason Gainza, Nene Tamayo, Bob De La Cruz, Sey Alonzo, Cassandra Ponit, JB Magsaysay, Racquel reyes, Uma Khaouny, Jenny Suico and Franzen Macaraeg. The 12 complete strangers were very emotional as they bid goodbye to their family members and close friends, whom they will not see in the next 100 days. Most of them cried as their close loved ones hugged and kissed them for the last time, before they entered the house.
The Start of 100 days of Pinoy Big Brother Lifestyle
After they were introduced, The hosts escorted them to the house. They were all excited and immediately went around the house and checked the place where they will stay in the next one hundred days. They were about to eat dinner, when, for the first time, Pinoy big Brother spoke to the housemates and asked them to do their first tasks, which was to capture three pigs in the Pinoy big Brother house garden
This is only the start as the twelve housemates face other difficult tasks and challenges of Pinoy Big Brother in the coming days. Will they find each other nice or will conflict set in as they discover each others’ complex personality. Find out on Pinoy Big Brother, nightly on ABS-CBN Primetime Bida after kampanerang Kuba. Other pinoy big brother updates can also be seen on Pinoy Big Brother Up-late, the
midnightedition of Pinoy big Brother. Studio 23 will also provide the latest information about Pinoy Big Brother on “Si Kuya, Kabarkada mo,” Mondays thru Thursday 630pm to
7pmand on Saturdays, 630pm.
Parating na siya!
1 house12 complete strangers100 days of isolation from the outside world
No phones, newspapers, radio or television setsNo contact with their loved ones
But there is someone who sees everything they do.He guides, he challenges, he inspires…He is Pinoy Big Brother.
Taking the whole world by storm, this reality show started in Europe, enthralled the US, Austraila, North & South America and is beginning to mesmerize Asia.
And now, Big Brother has set his eyes on the Philippines.
Ano nga ba ang pakiramdam kung ang bawat kilos mo ay minamanmanan bawat araw, bawat oras, bawat minuto?
Hanggang saan ang iyong titiisin mabigyan lang ng magandang buhay ang iyong pamilya?
Ito ang kapalit, upang pangarap mong isang milyong piso, bagong kotse at house & lot ay makamit.
In Pinoy Big Brother, 12 housemates will take on challenges as individuals or as a team,which will bring out the best and worst in them.
All of this will take place under the scrutiny of 26 cameras and numerous microphones mounted all over the Pinoy Big Brother house, broadcast on national television.It’s real-life drama, real comedy and real victories… and failures.
Tunay ang iyakan. Tunay ang tawanan. Tunay ang bawat emosyon na mararamdaman.
Ito ang teleserye ng totoong buhay ng Pinoy!
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Friday, September 02, 2005
I thank GOD i was blessed with the skill of understanding the technology of ours today...i am very thankful i have learned how to use the computer especiall the internet...as i have considered it the best in our modern technology...being an adopted son of science, technology is quite inseparable to my life...i just wonder why of all the people on earth...these three little singaporean exhibit interest in me [and that i don't know...whew!]...needless to say that i cannot [frankly speaking] understand what they are saying and expressing because they are not good in speaking the english language...in fairness to them because they form part of my friend circle...they try their best in able to have me as their colleague...to these gracious people [mimi, momo, amd mumu] mere acknowledgment will not suffice for all the good things you have shown me in the times of our friendship...there is no enough room in these page to even begin to thank you for all the sincerity you have shown me, the good chatting times even we don't see each other [for we are just permitted to talk virtually], but still you give your utmost respect to me as your dearest friend...i just hope what we have statrted will last till our friendship breathes...thank you for making my world a brighter place to live in...madamo nga salamat mga sangkay ko sa singapore[thank you very much my friends in Singapore!]
Good Luck and God Bless!
THE FOOD and Drug Administration (FDA) has barred the entry into the United States of some 300 products from the Philippines for failing to meeting its standards.
The barred products, as reported in BusinessWorld, include food and beverages manufactured by some of our biggest companies, including US multinationals: Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc.'s Royal Tru-Orange, RFM's White King Champorado Mix, Moo Chocolate and Ube Milk, Kraft Foods' Tang Guyabano and Ponkan C juice drinks as well as Sugarland's Eight O' Clock powdered juice, Del Monte's Italian-style and sweet-style spaghetti sauces, Philippine Beverage Partners' Jellyace snacks, Century Canning's Century Tuna, Liwayway's Oishi and Prawn Crackers, Zesto's Quik Chow Instant Pancit Canton, Leslie's Nacho Chips, Monde Denmark Nissin's Lucky Me instant noodles, Mama Sita sauces and even Universal Robina's Maxx and XO candies, Payless Instant Noodles and Nissin Yakisoba instant noodles.
A number of cosmetic and beauty products are also on the banned list, including skin-whitening products from Sara Lee and Splash, Getz Brothers' Salonpas, Johnson & Johnson's Modess and Clean & Clear Facial Wash, Kimberly Clark's Kotex and Interphil's feminine hygiene wash. Even the giant multinational Unilever was affected, with the following products barred: Leave-on hair conditioner, Closeup toothpaste, Pond's Cream, Wash and Fluid, and Vaseline Amino Collagen.
The list reminds us how powerful homegrown tastes can be even when one moves several thousand miles away. I can imagine Filipino-Americans protesting: What do you mean no more Maxx candies? Even worse, why aren't we getting Choc Nut anymore?
Note, too, a reversal of the colonial mentality. In the Philippines, we crave for "Stateside" products and yet when Filipinos finally make it to the Promised Land, there's nostalgia for Filipino products, from Closeup toothpaste to Salonpas. There are strange twists here as well: note the colonial mentality is still operational in the demand for skin-whitening products.
Which takes us to why the products were barred from entering the United States. For the cosmetic and "beauty" (I just had to add the quotation marks this time around) products, the ban was imposed because those products were not licensed by the FDA. Some products, like those skin whiteners, will never make it through FDA requirements, whether for safety or efficacy; yet, they're among the best-selling cosmetic products here in the Philippines (just check out Mercury Drug's shelves next time you visit and you'll find several versions).
Some of the larger food and beverage manufacturers whose products were barred have told BusinessWorld that their products are safe. Coca-Cola said it followed the same standards for production worldwide and that the ban was due to differences in labeling requirements in the Philippines and the United States.
An example of this difference is that here we only require manufacturers to indicate that food coloring has been used, while in the United States, the FDA requires that the actual name of each food coloring is indicated on the label.
But these differences in labeling requirements should make us rethink our own labeling requirements. Food coloring and other additives aren't as innocuous as we might think. Tartrazine, a yellow dye commonly used in candies, soft drinks and other foods, as well as additives such as sulfites (very common in preserved fruits) can cause severe reactions such as skin hives and asthma-like symptoms. These are not banned substances, but many countries require that labels indicate their presence in foods or beverages, as a warning to consumers who may be particularly sensitive to those chemicals.
A proper listing of all the foods that went into a package is also important. Muslims and Jews, for example, need to know if the product has any pork or pork derivatives in it. Very strict vegetarians will not take any food product with dairy or eggs.
Many of us are aware of allergies to seafood, but there are many other common foods that can cause sensitivity reactions in some people, including eggs, wheat and the different kinds of nuts, including peanuts. As with the food coloring and additives, these foods need to be indicated on the label as a warning. (On some British food products, I've noticed they even use an exclamation point accompanied by text that reads: "Contains Nuts.")
I have written about the dangers of excessive sodium intake because it can send blood pressure soaring. Again, a proper food label will tell you how much sodium comes with the product, and how close you're getting to the maximum recommended daily intake of 1,500 milligrams. (Lower that to 1,200 mg for people over 70.)
The Americans are also very strict about food products not making any therapeutic claims. This is important because many so-called herbal medicines are approved not as drugs but as foods, and when approved that way, they are not allowed -- both in the United States and in the Philippines -- to make any claims for preventing or curing diseases.
Recently I caught an ad on one of the larger radio stations for an herbal product, where the announcer dutifully read out, "Approved by the Bureau of Food and Drugs. No therapeutic claims allowed." He paused a split second then went on to enumerate something like 20 diseases that the product supposedly could cure! I could almost imagine the product label reading "No therapeutic claims allowed" accompanied by the claims.
Instead of complaining about the United States barring our products, we should pick up some lessons on proper labeling of our food, beverage and cosmetic products. Schools should be teaching students how to read these labels, including detecting hype and false claims.
EVERY evening at the Rockwell Center in Makati City, as plush boutiques wind down their activities, there is a building that goes in the other direction, coming alive as hundreds of students stream into Ateneo de Manila University's Professional Schools for their classes in law, government, and business.
For two nights this week, the building was busier than usual as the school brought several hundred students together for plenary lectures, part of an extraordinary exercise called Mulat-Diwa -- an opening of the mind or, in the words of Dr. Alfredo Bengzon, who heads the business school, "the eyes of the heart" -- to get the students to reflect on how business might contribute to the task of nation-building.
I was invited to lecture on culture and nation building while Ateneo's own Father Jojo Magadia spoke on economics, politics and poverty. I will admit that even after years of teaching, I found the assignment daunting. After all, we were being asked to deal with some 800 people at each session, our lectures transmitted live to several sites within the Rockwell campus, as well as to Ateneo's extension sites in Santa Rosa, Laguna, Subic, and Cebu City.
Skeptical? I will admit I was that way too; after all, talk about social conscience and nation building isn't usually done in a business school. Yet, by the end of the second round of talks, I could feel the atmosphere in the auditorium, and in the remote sites, was charged. People were, well, disturbed, and that was the most important point of the exercise.
Before the plenary lectures, the students got to see an episode of GMA Network's TV program "Imbestigador," titled "Pobreng Pinoy" [Poor Filipino]. I have worked with the poor in rural and urban areas for many years, but "Pobreng Pinoy" still had new shocking revelations.
What was most striking about the documentary was the way the poor find ways to survive: subsisting on instant noodles, setting up shacks on rivers (to get around the ban on squatting on land), taking over abandoned vehicles to build a home. But its most disturbing revelations were about the selling of body parts, "kinakalkal ang katawan," or "mining the body," as program host Mike Enriquez put it. We hear of such cases, but I was not quite prepared to learn the extent of what could be sold.
"Pobreng Pinoy" featured professional blood donors, something the public has been aware of for a long time. But that was the mildest example of body mining. It also featured a man who had sold all his teeth to dental students needing subjects to practice tooth extractions. He still goes to these dental students, this time to let them practice on his mouth for the fitting of dentures. He has also become an agent, looking for other people willing to let dental students practice their extraction skills on them.
Another man interviewed on the show talked about how he had donated some of his skin for a patient needing grafts. He got P5,000 for a small piece of skin from his leg, and now plans to sell his kidney. The trade in kidneys is actually thriving, with buyers sometimes coming in from overseas.
The most shocking example of body mining was a man who had sold one of his eyes, for P50,000, the money used up to treat his mother's heart condition.
There were other heartbreaking stories in this trade of body parts, ending with a mother who had accepted P50,000 from someone who wanted to adopt her newborn child.
A nation dismembered
During one of the plenary sessions, the topic of overseas Filipino workers came up.
While recognizing the extent of remittances coming in, Father Jojo wondered if overseas labor was really making a dent on people's lives. Sure, homes are built and children get to finish college because of the remittances, but Father Jojo also wondered how much of workers' earnings go into productive activities to make a difference for national development.
I had to speak out, too, again acknowledging that our overseas workers are making heroic contributions to the Philippine economy but wondering what the long-term costs would be. I shared the story of a 21-year-old girl who had been recruited to work in Japan. She had become pregnant before she could leave, and after the baby was born she began to consider the possibilities of paying her way out of her contract.
The people at the promotions agency did not take kindly to her request to withdraw from the recruitment, first telling her she'd need to pay at least P70,000 for expenses they'd incurred for her training and documentation. Not only that, the staff lectured her on the need to be more responsible: "Aren't you ashamed to your younger brother and sister? By not going to Japan, you're letting them down."
As if that statement was not bad enough, she was always hectored: "Someday when your baby grows up, don't you think you'd be ashamed telling your child that you chose not to go to Japan to work?"
My regular readers know I've always been supportive of overseas workers but there are times, and they are becoming more frequent, when I wonder what the long-term social costs will be for such large-scale deployment.
The anecdote about the young girl who had just delivered stirred up the audience, and got Dr. Alfredo Bengzon to speak out, too, and to compare this massive exporting of labor to the trade in body parts. As our Filipinos leave, we become a nation dismembered, much like the poor who sell vital body organs.
My main concern is the way overseas work has totally changed, well, distorted, our priorities. Our national development plans seem to hinge on this export. Business establishments aim for the returning overseas worker, and their families, for their market -- everyone else seems too poor to afford to buy anything. Many of our schools have become mass assembly lines for a global labor market. And, most sadly, families now tell their kids, "You have to at least finish high school so that someday you can work abroad."
Finding the stars
Our plenary talks at the Ateneo had started out with a prayer written by South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was appropriately entitled "Disturb us, Lord," calling on God to stir the spirit "when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have become true because we dreamed too little; when we have arrived in safety because we sailed too close to the shore... when because of the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the water of life; when, having fallen in love with time, we have ceased to dream of eternity." The prayer dares us to be bold, to venture out to the seas during a storm so that, "losing sight of land, we shall find the stars."
During the open forum, someone asked, "How will we find those stars?"
Maybe poverty, because it is so overwhelming lulls us into collective denial of our problems. If we are to chart our own national destiny it is time we put up signs that read, "Please do disturb."
WHEN I was little, very little, my mother and I used to have a daily ritual: Every evening, after she returned from work, she'd plug in the radio and we'd listen together to classical music.
I can still see the little white box that always seemed to take ages to warm up, a few tentative notes slowly floating out, a slow crescendo before the full piece would burst into our living room.
One evening, tiny impatient Mike just couldn't wait for his daily dose of Bach and Beethoven and decided to get started on his own. I guess I figured it would be easy: Just plug the cord into the wall. You guessed it: I got zapped, surviving (obviously) but still leery today, many years later, of plugs and sockets.
The radio I still love, with a passion -- AM, FM, and more. Shortwave I discovered one summer in Legazpi City when I was sent there for a vacation with one of my father's business associates. They had one of those clunky but powerful radios (I'm imagining it now looming as large as a television set), with a dial that had all the different wavelengths. I was mesmerized by the way you could tune in to the entire world.
We didn't call it surfing then, but surf I did, from one end of each bandwidth to the other, across the exotic cacophonies of alien tongues and music, pausing occasionally when I'd hear some English.
It was the height of the Cold War so there were enough of these English broadcasts vying for young gullible minds like mine. Voice of America (VoA) had the strongest signals since it had relay stations right here in the Philippines. Radio Moscow came through, too, made all the more significant because our neighborhood grocery had started selling Sputnik, a Soviet propaganda magazine, which offered schedules for Radio Moscow, as well as lessons in the Cyrillic alphabet and stories about Soviet achievements. I was so impressed by their story about Laika, the Soviet astrodog, that I named one of our dachshunds after her.
When martial law was imposed, together with media censorship, shortwave became useful as an alternative source of news. By then a University of the Philippines student properly initiated to the politics of the Left, I had stopped listening to VoA, convinced it was nothing but US imperialist propaganda. Instead, I tuned in to the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC). While one could have argued this was the voice of British imperialism (I learned only recently that the BBC World Service was once called the Empire Service), they at least used the King's English.
Radio Peking (it wasn't Beijing then) was another favorite. Somehow, the Chinese had found a way to get Tagalog broadcasts in through the edge of the AM frequency, with weak but audible signals. In retrospect, it was a rather dull station but there was a bit of a thrill listening in because technically it was considered a subversive activity. There were rumors, too, that the broadcasters' flawless, albeit formal Tagalog, had been trained by Filipino political activists who had gone into exile in China.
As television sets became more affordable, there were predictions radio would disappear. That hasn't happened. I still tune in quite often to AM stations, especially for their live coverage of breaking news, from the EDSA People Power revolts to attempted coups and political crises and natural disasters.
Sadly though, the fare on both TV and radio have deteriorated over the years as stations turn to tabloid formats of shrill sensationalized news and really bad music. It hasn't helped that the only classical musical station in the Philippines, dzFE, has been reducing its broadcast time.
Fortunately, new technologies provide us with fresh alternatives for listening to radio. The Internet now allows us to tune in to radio stations from around the world. I can be in Manila listening to a classical station in San Francisco, or to BBC, which is generally more critical and comprehensive in its coverage of news, whether cloning, the Iraq "wo" [war] or the archaeology of music. Conversely, one midnight, sequestered and homesick in the middle of a lake in Italy for a conference, I actually derived comfort listening to Metro Manila morning traffic updates on GMA Network's radio station dzBB, a link to which you can find on the Inquirer website.
Internet radio does have its limitations: Unless you have a high speed connection like DSL, listening to these broadcasts can become an ordeal, with constant interruptions and repeated attempts by the computer to unscramble the digital data.
An alternative is satellite radio. As far as I know, there's only one company doing global transmissions of this type, and this is Worldspace. You need a special radio, selling from 100 to 200 dollars, to pick up several radio stations beamed out through satellite. You can get more information on this service, including dealers who distribute their radios, on www.worldspace.com. (There are no local distributors yet but I got a good deal from a retailer in Thailand.)
The selection is quite good, from BBC and CNN to classical to African pop and Latin music, the broadcasts coming in crystal clear and in stereo. The only drawback to Worldspace is that you have to position a small satellite dish (about five inches in diameter) out in the garden or on the roof, making sure there is nothing, not even a tree branch, to interfere with the satellite signal.
You might ask why anyone should bother listening to BBC on the radio when you can get it on cable television. Well, with radio, you can continue working, as I am doing now, while getting the latest news or listening to a concert. There are times, too, when radio is more appropriate for unwinding, ending a day well spent, as my mother and I used to do when I was a child.
There still is room, certainly, for improvement. I can imagine writing, maybe in the year 2030, about those good old days when we listened to radio through incredibly slow high-speed Internet, or the times I had to climb the roof to install and, later, adjust the Worldspace satellite dish, my dogs watching from the ground apprehensively, whining away almost as if to warn me of the time when a much younger Mike got into trouble, all for radio.
Being attractive is the most important thing there isIf you wanna catch the biggest fish in your pondYou have to be as attractive as possibleMake sure to keep your hair spotless and cleanWash it at least every two weeksOnce every two weeksAnd if you see Johnny football hero in the hallTell him he played a great gameTell him you like his article in the newspaperI'm the party starI'm popularI've got my own carI'm popularI'll never get caughtI'm popularI make football betsI'm a teachers pet.I propose we support a one month limit on going steadyI think It will keep you both more able to dealwith weird situationsAnd get to know more peopleI think if you're ready to go out with JohnnyNow's the time to tell him about your one month limitHe wont mind he'll apreciate your fresh look on datingAnd once you've dated someone else you can datehim againI'm sure he'll like itEveryone will appreciate itYou're so novel, what a good ideaYou can keep your time to your selfYou don't need date insuranceYou can go out with whoever you want toEvery boy, every boy in the whole world could be yoursIf you'll just listen to my planTHE TEENAGE GUIDE TO POPULARITY
HERE are some tips for success from the "Intsik," the earlier generations of Chinese migrants to the Philippines. The secret to success isn't "feng shui" and good luck charms or staying home on Friday the 13th. Instead, the "secrets" involve common sense, as we see in the first tip, which is to find, or create your own niche.
The second pointer we can pick up from the Intsik relates to the first: Start small. The original "dyaryo't bote" -- people buying up old bottles and newspapers and, generally, junk -- were the Intsik. Others started as sidewalk vendors (my maternal grandfather sold handkerchiefs on the street in Chinatown's Rosario).
Another example is the SM mall chain. I still remember the original ShoeMart in the 1960s, a small shoe store on Rizal Avenue in Manila. Who would have predicted we'd see all those SM malls today? Today, older ethnic Chinese visit SM and sometimes comment, after seeing some of the stores, that they are worried that younger entrepreneurs have lost touch with reality, wanting to start too big, too soon.
The third tip again relates to the first two: Go for volume sales, rather than quick profits. The Intsik went for a few centavos' profit at a time (well, okay, these days, a few pesos), as with my grandfather's handkerchiefs. You still see this principle working, whether for jewelry in Chinatown, clothes and school supplies in Manila's Divisoria flea market area or cell phones in the Virra Mall bargain center. The reality is that there is no such thing as instant wealth; in fact, anyone who offers some investment scheme with quick returns is probably a con artist.
Quite often, this matter of yielding to the temptation to make quick profits relates to an unwillingness to start at the bottom. On a recent flight from San Francisco to Manila, I was seated beside a Filipino-American businessman who had done very well in the United States. He lamented how Filipinos in the United States, in contrast to the Chinese or the Thais, seemed to prefer working for someone in a white-collar job rather than being his or her own boss. A new Chinese migrant would start out maybe as a waiter but with the intention of saving up enough to open up his own small restaurant, putting in long hours, while aiming for small profits while serving good food. Eventually, they build up their clientele, and a little business empire.
Fourth, cultivate the "suki," a Tagalog word derived from the Hokkien Chinese "ju ke," which means No. 1 customer. Make all customers -- even first-time walk-ins -- feel they're No. 1 with little perks, like serving coffee and snacks. More importantly, offer special discounts, credit terms or even referrals to other businesses if you don't stock what they need.
Fifth, live within your means. I've written about our tendency, especially among the Filipino male, to splurge, and to avoid work that is "beneath" us. This "señorito" complex is found throughout the region. Indonesians call it the "priyayi" [aristocrat] mentality, the need to show off even if one doesn't have the means. Businesses flounder, then collapse, because money from sales, rather than being reinvested to generate more capital, are being squandered on prestige activities.
Sixth, put money into social investments. Tessie Ang See, one of the "Chinoy" [Chinese-Filipino] community's leaders, put it very well in a recent TV interview, "The reality is that you actually rarely see very rich, or very poor, Chinoys."
The reason for this is that the Chinese have all kinds of mutual-help projects extending from womb to tomb: clan associations, Chinese schools, hospitals, homes for the aged, even cemeteries. The schools were built, recognizing that the most important capital any community has is that of human resources. The Chinese schools are now among the best in the country, attracting even non-Chinese families.
But there was more to these social investments than human capital. Educating the young, caring for the sick and the aged, even burying the dead, all converged to build up a sense of community and of civic duty. Early in life, the Intsik learned that each hungry or homeless person, each child who drops out from school, was a source of shame, impoverishing the entire community.
Some of you may be asking, what's Mike Tan's "k" ("karapatan," or right) to talk about making money when he isn't even in business? I make no such claims, or rather I'm not limiting myself to talking about making money in the business sense. The "Intsik" principles apply as well to government and to NGOs, the sectors I'm involved in.
I've seen too many government projects fail because of policies that are shortsighted, failing to anticipate long-term needs and niches. I see projects that remain on the drafting stage for years because we talk too much, unwilling to buckle down to handling the most difficult yet crucial part: starting the project. And when other people decide to take the initiative, moving the project and producing results, we see demolition jobs to put down those who have tried to move the organization forward.
I see constituencies neglected, when every citizen should be treated like a "suki" since it's his taxes that pay for government employees' salaries. But no, government people tend to think the public owes them, rather than the other way around.
I see agencies living beyond their means-scarce resources wasted on large buildings, plush offices, vanity brochures and advertisements in newspapers (especially these days, as politicians make a last-minute pitch for votes).
I see government and NGO executives transforming tight operating budgets into personal expense accounts. While supported by all the correct necessary vouchers and forms, the purchases are often based on the official's whims and penchant for the latest technological gizmos, rather than the agency's needs. All this is really another form of corruption, and corruption is always bad business sense.
The Intsik secrets aren't really confined to private businesses. We're talking here about being successful in anything we do, whatever our sector might be. And if you ask how we might distill all those "secrets," I'd say they boil down to one very basic principle: Make good by doing good.
THE SANTO Niño (Holy Child) is a quintessential Filipino Catholic icon, much loved and venerated, a little boy vested with the most extraordinary of powers. To be able to heal, many faith healers go into trances, their voices transformed into that of a little child to signify that the Santo Niño has taken over. Mothers pin Santo Niño medals on babies to protect them from illnesses and from harm in general. And what Filipino Catholic home would be complete without at least one image of the Santo Niño?
I know there's an entire coffee-table book produced on the Santo Niño in the Philippines but I haven't been able to get a copy, so I don't know how they explain this image's popularity. My hunch is that God, as God the Father, and Jesus still remain distant for many Filipinos. Too alien (especially God the Father, who looks too much like the Spanish friars), too male. When the Filipino needs succor and comfort, the gentle Virgin Mary and the innocent Santo Niño are so much more approachable. Note how Filipino mothers instill this love for the Santo Niño early in life, instructing children to pray to "Baby Jesus."
A plethora of Santo Niños
The Santo Niño comes in many versions: fair-skinned or dark-skinned, in simple or elaborate clothes. Perhaps reflecting my own personality and lifestyle, my favorite is the "Santo Niñong Gala," the vagabond Santo Niño looking like a hobo, complete with a stick and a bundle of clothes, always on the road.
Gay couturiers love the Santo Niño, designing the most elaborate costumes for their statues, which are then paraded with other images when there are neighborhood religious activities, in a kind of fashion show.
The Santo Niño's popularity stems in part from its ability to be "adopted" by anyone, simply by changing its clothes. It's not just gay couturiers who love the Santo Niño, your epitome of machismo, soldiers and police, also have their Santo Niños perched on an altar and looking over their shoulders, decked out of course in the proper uniform.
Government offices also constantly violate the constitutional separation of Church and State by displaying their own versions of Santo Niños, although I have to say I have not seen these Santo Niños decked out according to the agency's work (e.g., dressed as a doctor for the Department of Health).
I've noticed Santo Niños are also very popular in beerhouses, bars and, well, what have been referred to euphemistically as "bahay aliwan" [houses of pleasure]. No, those Santo Niños aren't dressed, or undressed, for the occasion.
In several church courtyards here in Manila, vendors hawk a "Santo Niñong Hubad" -- yes, a naked Santo Niño, anatomically correct but physiologically not quite right. Let me explain that for lay people: yes, the anatomy can be correct, but what they tried to get the correct anatomy to do, for an infant, wasn't exactly possible.
Mind you, this naked Santo Niño now comes in different versions. I've seen at least four different ones. A tiny one, about 1-1/2 centimeters high, which you can carry in your wallet or put under your tongue (more on this later). This image has two other larger versions. Then there's also one where Baby Jesus is on the palm of a hand.
What powers does the Santo Niñong Hubad have?
I've always felt religious beliefs and practices are very malleable, adjusting to people's needs. Ask the Santo Niñong Hubad vendors what the little statues do and they'll tailor their answers according to who's asking.
If it's a woman who inquires, they'll say the image brings good luck, especially the Santo Niño on a palm. If it's an older woman asking, the vendor is likely to suggest that carrying the Santo Niño around helps to keep a marriage intact.
Now if the prospective buyer is a male, vendors will give you that inscrutable smile. To me, they gave the standard generic reply, "Suerte" [Good luck]. I'd heard of other more powerful functions of the Santo Niñong Hubad and asked if it is a "gayuma," a love charm. The vendors were mum. I guess I just looked too academic to need such talismans.The first time I heard about the Santo Niñong Hubad, I did ask Tita Gilda Cordero Fernando, an authority on Filipino popular culture, about it and she scoffed, "Goodness, that's been around for many years. You're supposed to swallow it."
Swallow? Maybe the earlier versions were, well, edible but the ones they sell now are metal ones, and I'd definitely advise against swallowing it. It can be quite awkward explaining to the doctors in the emergency room what they need to fish out of your gut.
Anyway, the mystery of the Santo Niñong Hubad persisted. I bought a few, distributed them to my mother and aunts (one of whom brought it to her parish priest to bless, which he declined) and continued to ask around.
Until one day I showed it to the father of my partner, a crusty working-class super-macho male if there ever was one. He smiled and said it was "mabisa," very effective. A man of few words, he elaborated a bit about putting the image under your tongue and thus armed, anyone you whisper sweet nothings to would not be able to say no.
The next week when we met, he slipped a piece of paper into my hand and told me to follow the instructions carefully. "Buhayin mo," he grunted.
It was chilling: He was telling me to bring the image to life first, before it could work, and he had just passed on prayers and incantations to use for nine Fridays in a row.
Our many Santo Niños, not just the Santo Niñong Hubad, tell us so much about Philippine society. I've mentioned how maybe the child Jesus is so much more approachable. Maybe, too, that's why the Santo Niño is so popular in government offices, displayed to radiate some kind of continuous absolution. I once had to go through Customs to claim a shipment of books and was struck by the many Santo Niño statues in the offices. Why, nearly every desk had one. Then it occurred to me, as I ran the gauntlet of numerous Customs officials signing clearances, that their desk drawers were all open, presumably to receive bribes, oops, I meant heaven's blessings... and the Santo Niño's forgiveness.
And the Santo Niñong Hubad? Who knows? My partner's mother claims, tongue in cheek, she was a "victim" of this Santo Niño and her husband's lethal whisper while my partner's father, when he gave me the piece of paper, warned me, "Don't ever teach this to my son. He knows too much already."
I don't believe in the occult so I've filed the spells away, together with the Santo Niñong Hubad images. We get the partners we deserve and whether they stay or not depends not so much on naked Santo Niños under our tongue, than on how we use our hearts and our minds.
The naked Santo Niño bares Philippine society, daring us to think about all our existential anxieties around love and marriage and life itself.
we are the heroes of our own lives... If you're in trouble, real trouble, the word on the street is that there's a boy who'll help. He'll listen to your story, and he'll make a judgment. If he thinks you're wrong, you're out on your ass. If he thinks you've been wronged, you'll never have a better friend. For once, the word on the street is good. There is such a man. There are still "good" in these world. If everyone turns you down, you get hurt and and cant help but cry...hold back and he'll be just their.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
SMART-ASS kids, I thought when I saw the front-page photo in another newspaper. "Naked truth," the caption read, referring to a rally at the Chino Roces (Mendiola) bridge where 15 young males ran naked around the University Belt. A spokesman of Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Kabataan, which organized the University Belt(less) run, explained that the protest action was meant to "symbolize the naked truth on the difficult education in the country due to poor investment resulting in 13.4 million out-of-school youths."
From the statement, you can see why we should protest the state of the educational system.
Seriously, the protest clearly takes off from the University of the Philippines' (UP's) annual Oblation Run started many years ago originally as a protest against censorship during the Marcos dictatorship. If memory serves me right, that was also a time when, in the West, there was a streaking fad, streakers being people who'd suddenly pop out of nowhere and make a mad dash, while stripping down, through an area with many people.
The Oblation Run was a modification, using the Western streaking fad but also using UP's famous (or infamous) Oblation statue, minus the leaf, as a role model. Frat neophytes volunteered (I think) to streak as part of their initiation and all for a good cause, meaning publicizing burning issues of the day. A few years back the naked UP fratmen ended their run by forming a line in front of Palma Hall, baring their backs and butts to spell "ERAP RESIGN."
Shock and awe
In this age of saturated mass media, it's become more and more difficult to launch advocacy and political action events. Catching the public's attention requires a strategic combination of timing with eye-catching visuals and ear-catching sound bytes.
The animal rights group Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is well known for using skin-baring shock (and maybe awe) tactics to grab the public's attention. To protest the slaughter of animals for fur, they've had celebrities (and non-celebrities) parading naked with signs, "I'd rather go naked than wear fur." Actress Pamela Anderson pose for a poster that read, "Give fur the cold shoulder," showing off her shoulder and more. A local Peta poster has model Raya Mananquil wearing little more than angel wings while cuddling a cute little piglet, urging people: "Earn your wings. Go vegetarian."
The student activists' bare run was meant to shock, but also drew on an interesting metaphor of baring the truth. The metaphor's actually more Western, this idea of disclosure, sometimes described as baring one's soul to bring out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth -- naked, that is.
The word "naked" shocks because it is so bold. Motion adds to the shock value of Oblation-like runs, birds flying in the air, and I'm being metaphorical. With the University Belt run, there was an interesting use of non-motion. According to one newspaper report, at one point the protesters "lay down on the scorching road, some spreading their legs, before a throng of photographers and TV cameramen." A photograph in a local Chinese paper, World News, captured that moment of self-sacrifice, some protesters face down, others face up. Goodness, hot buns and hot dogs.
I've wondered at how effective these skin-blitzkreig tactics might be. Language reflects the way we think and really, we don't actually think of truth as having to be bared. The University Belt protesters used the Tagalog "hubad na katotohanan," a literal translation of the English "naked truth." But "hubad na katotohanan" doesn't have the impact that the English term has. I hear the word and I think of lumpiang hubad. Now you'd need a pretty wild imagination to think of a naked spring roll as phallically erotic. Maybe, albeit tiny, the "lumpia" shanghai but not a naked "lumpia."
We're more nonchalant about nakedness maybe because in a tropical country like the Philippines, bared skin is pretty common, especially with men, who have no qualms about walking around half-naked in broad daylight. Think of a typical Pinoy and you see a pot-bellied man standing on the corner in short pants and sando, pulled up of course as he scratches away at his blubber.
It's intriguing how in Tagalog we differentiate hubad and hubo. Hubad is undressed from the waist up so more accurately, "hubad na katotohanan" is "shirtless truth." Hubo, on the other hand, is undressed from the waist down. Mang Ambo, standing on the street corner scratching his belly, is technically hubad since he has his pants on, about as sexy as the lumpiang hubad.
So, why not "hubong katotohanan"? Truth without pants? It falls flat, too.
Emperors and empresses
But we shouldn't abandon the metaphors around truth and nakedness. Remember the story of the vain emperor who paraded around convinced he had the finest new clothes when in fact he was completely naked? Apparently, his sycophantic advisers were able to convince him he had special clothes and if the public could not appreciate the finery, it was because they were, well, not smart enough.
In many ways, we have a government with our own emperors and empresses. They don't exactly walk around naked; instead, they deck themselves in the finest tailored statistics. All's well, they tell themselves and us, citing the "strong" peso. All's well, they tell themselves and us, pointing to statistics of districts free of the illegal numbers game "jueteng": Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Northern Luzon ... goodness, the entire country is now jueteng-free. All's well, they tell themselves and us, poverty levels are rapidly dropping. I've lost track but two years ago it was something like 38 percent and the latest figures are about 26 percent.
Can people tell what the naked truth is? Maybe not as well when it comes to macroeconomics, for example, about how speculative investments in our casino stock market have artificially boosted the peso or about the Asian Development Bank's warning our government against "poverty reduction through statistics."
But people do know about their shrinking pay checks and how thousand-peso bills rapidly disappear with each visit to the grocery, gas station, pharmacy ... and these days, schools. Sure, tuition's free in public schools but it's amazing how much "extra fees" add up to.
People know, too, of the friendly neighborhood jueteng "kubrador" [bet collector] and of the cop on the take from drug dealers. If the public doesn't seem as interested in the congressional hearings these days, it's because they've always known about the corruption...and have lost faith in having anything come out of those hearings.
So maybe the naked runs serve some purpose. In a way, the smart-ass kids are like the innocently honest children who dared to shout, as the emperor strutted around, "He's naked! He's naked!" Hubad na, hubo pa. Shame, shame!