Little, Almost Universal Rules

Every day, I can witness and experience some petty deviations from little rules. Negligible they may seem but they are an everyday test to a person’s patience, respect to rules and even respect to other people. I will be enumerating these little rules that are so little, most people disobey them.

[Read more...]

Takipsilim: A Critic To Critics

ts

Ciara’s reaction to the infamous Takipsilim made me want to post my reactions too. There were(are) a lot of reactions re:Takipsilim, most of them were really negative. Some of the reactors(?) are obvious poseurs and some of them think highly of themselves a la elitista not welcoming any kind of “kajologan” (This might be a little unfair–just as unfair as some critics have reacted). I pity those Filipino commentors who virtually joined with foreigners bash the perceived Filipino production and even the Filipinos and Filipino race in general (shame) on foreign websites. They didn’t understand that media, just like any money-making industry, is a free market (laissez-faire–if they want the more sophisticated term) that caters to the needs and wants of people (ABS-CBN assumed that this is a want. Apparently, it seemed that it is not. But the negative reactions made it more appealing–I’ll call it backfiring. Haha). Even if these protesters rally outside, file a complaint, file an appeal and simply bash the producers at that, they won’t succeed simply because they don’t have the right to do so. They have the right to rant but they don’t have the right to meddle in the official business transaction between the station and the producers. Well okay, they may meddle in the transaction (if they are really that desperate)–but what’s their legitimate and mature rationale? They don’t want it because Rayver Cruz is fugly? They don’t want it because we are a culture of aswangs and not of vampires? If they are against it, then they may opt not to watch it (If I know, they would watch it anyway). Dude, you own the remote.

About Filipino creativity, I believe that creativity is not limited to producing new concepts. It also means giving a new flavor to an already-established concept. That’s how knowledge works, one has to start, the others would bank onto it and the resulting knowledge would be then again be banked onto by others (“Assembly Bonus Effect” as we call it in group communication). But then again, having an original idea would always be better. Ciara has said, in line with this, that the production may become an expression of unique Filipino art when it comes to directing movies and TV shows. The challenge to these artists and actors is the proper contextualization the story, the script (the script!), the show atmosphere and even the acting in the local television.

I’m neither a supporter nor a detractor of Takipislim (if it’s real). I’m just objective about the issue. Cheers. :)

A Scholarly Scandal

jose_rizal
Original image from www.uweb.ucsb.edu

And today’s Rizal Day. I was planning to write a year-ender article but I think it’s more contextual to write an entry about Rizal–the blogosphere lacks some In-commemoration-of-Jose-Rizal entries so I am more pressured to write something about him. But of course, I won’t make this as a fanboy’s entry. I will share an expounded version of my reaction paper to Renato Constantino’s Veneration Without Understanding. At first glance or quick-read, the article might sound Anti-Rizal or Anti-Rizal-as-the-national-hero write-up but there’s even more than its face value. As I finished reading the article, there were multiple questions that entered my mind:

  1. Is there a presence of standards that would determine a national hero?
  2. Is there a presence of a certain hierarchy that states that this heroic feature is more important than another heroic feature?
  3. Is Rizal really over-glorified?
  4. How much glorification would equate to over-glorification?
  5. Was Rizal a wrong choice for being a National Hero?
  6. Who could replace him if ever there will be a revamp?



I first thought that this article was meant to overthrow Rizal as The National Hero of the Philippines. But I was wrong. The article dealt more about how wrong the Filipinos over-glorified Rizal and how the construction of Rizal as a National Hero is poorly constructed. So, the ultimate question then is this: Did Constantino shift my perspective about Rizal? I feel that the information that I got from the article are additional information about Rizal and how should we treat him. I did not feel that this is an effort to overthrow Rizal because if we think about it, Constantino saved Rizal in some parts of his article. He even gave an impression that Rizal did nothing wrong about the situation. If there is one thing or person that Constantino would blame, it wouldn’t be The National Hero himself but the social construction that we had. History is nice to write. But it is nicer to rewrite it.

For the national revolution is invariably the one period in a nation’s history when the people were most united, most involved, and most decisively active in the fight for freedom. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that almost always the leader of that revolution becomes the principal hero of his people.

This is the primary premise of Constantino to the logic that Rizal should not be hailed as a principal hero: The primary criterion for a principal hero is his or her involvement in a significant national revolution. But I ask the question, is this really the standard? Is the involvement in a national revolution the only criterion for being a national hero? I concede to the fact that a national revolution is really a big thing or even the only way when it comes to a group of people’s fight for liberty and independence. But we must also accept the presence of the multitude of other factors that would make you, if not a national hero, a hero.

In our case, our national hero was not the leader of our Revolution. In fact, he repudiated that Revolution.

Here is another argument. Rizal was not part of the revolution. Worse, he repudiated it. Repudiating the importance of a revolution and the revolution itself is almost a double crime for a supposedly universally-valid national hero. And that made Rizal even more invalid. But I ask this question, is the national revolution so important and so vital that repudiating it would make you an invalid hero or a national hero? There are many ways of becoming a hero. I am no Rizal fan but I take logic into consideration. I can see Rizal’s perspective in this. I believe that he believes that it is indeed important that we have to consider different factors before we do something. Rizal believed that a revolution might not work and we need to go into the grassroots level first by, for example, educating our children.

Rizal and The Revolution

Because Rizal took no part in that Revolution and in fact he repudiated it, the general regard for our revolution is not as high as it otherwise would be.

I agree with Constantino on this one. I had different history subjects from my grade school and high school years up to my tertiary education years. On all of those years, the role of the revolution e.g. The Katipunan was exemplified. But if I look back on those years, I really didn’t much appreciate the bloody revolution. I felt that there was an outward emphasis on the notion of The-Pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword. True, using our writing skills could be a form of revolution. But the real, tangible revolution can be felt and even actualized in a revolution with armed revolutionists.





An American-Sponsored Hero

We have magnified Rizal’s role to such extent that we have lost our sense of proportion and relegated to a subordinate position our great mean and the historic events in which they took part.

I totally agree with Constantino. As I have mentioned, throughout my years as a student, Rizal was really the emphasized one. Well, it might be because he is the recognized national hero, but we should not forget our other heroes as well. I can clearly remember my history textbooks back in grade school wherein there are some biographies of different Filipino heroes. All are brief ones, except for one–Rizal’s. The problem is, in our early curriculum and how teachers teach history, they just bypass other heroes. The lesson becomes trivial and translates to not appreciating that specific figure. Compare it to Rizal, which even our parents idolize him and make us idolize him too. I remember my mom telling me that I should be a Rizal.

Rizal never advocated independence, nor did he advocate armed resistance to the government. He urged reform from within by publicity, by public education and appeal to public conscience. They favored a hero who would not run against the grain of American colonial policy.

I really agree with this since it is strongly grounded by some written accounts. But I want also to consider a perspective wherein the glass-is-half-full. The Americans’ motive by doing so falls into two perspectives. The first one is the negative one: They made Rizal as the national hero to make us passive revolutionists, therefore, making their stay a peaceful one. The second one is the positive one: They made Rizal as the national hero because they believe that we need to follow one of his ideals—to educate ourselves first before liberty. Now the question is this, what was the Americans’ real motive?

It must be remembered that the Filipino members of the Philippine Commission were conservative illustrados. The Americans regarded Rizal as belonging to this class. This was, therefore, one more point in his favor. Rizal belonged to the right social class—the class that they were cultivating and building up for leadership.





I believe that education is crucial for building leadership skills. So I think that I disagree a little with Constantino’s argument that leaders should or could come from the masses. Of course, there are good leaders found in the company of the masses. But Constantino mentioned it—the evolving setting due to the industrial revolution made things complicated. Meaning, leaders need to understand the ins and outs of the society before engaging into a career of leadership. But I still have this question—Is education prerequisite to good leadership?


The uncritical attitude of his cultists has been greatly responsible for transforming biographers into hagiographers. His weaknesses and errors have been subtly underplayed and his virtues grossly exaggerated.

I have read a quotation by Abraham Lincoln. It reads: If you look for the bad in people, you will surely find it. What’s the point of finding and studying Rizal’s faults? If we think about it, all of our nation’s heroes have their own faults. We study their respective legacies because we could draw inspiration from them. I also believe that a part of studying history is to find problems and investigate their causes. But for now, we should not cry over spilled milk.

The Role of Heroes

If there had been no Rizal, another type of talent who have appeared who might have given a different style to the historic struggle.

I think that this is the most illogical statement by Constantino. His logic is like this: If there were no Rizal, there would be another heroic figure that would appear. And not to mention, he might give a different style. I don’t know if this is a prophecy by Constantino but I believe that the absence of Rizal may really change the course of Philippine History. And his absence may give another possible situation but not necessarily a new, alternative Rizal.

Rizal may have given form and articulation and color to the aspiration of people. But even without him, the nationalist struggle would have ensued.

I disagree with Constantino. I believe that everything affects everything else. The absence of Rizal would change everything, any possible situation may happen. We should not discount other possibilities other than the ensuing of the struggle. The presence or absence of Rizal may or may not trigger the revolution.

Relevance or Irrelevance Today

Economic prosperity spawned discontent when the native beneficiaries saw a new world of affluence opening for themselves and their class. They attained a new consciousness and hence, a new goal – that of equality with the peninsulares – not in the abstract, but in practical economic and political terms.

I believe that a similar situation exists today. Let’s see the Modern Manila. It is every probinsiyano’s and pronbinsiyana’s dream to go the metro. Manila is portrayed as a model of economic prosperity (at least in the Philippines) where dreams and aspirations are fulfilled. The metropolitans could be the modern peninsulares. And our rural people wanted to equal them by stepping into the wild waters of the urban jungle.

A true historical review would prove that great men are those who read the time and have a deeper understanding of reality. It is their insights that make them conversant with their periods and which enable them to articulate the needs of the people. To a large extent, Rizal, the ilustrado, fulfilled this function, for in voicing the goals of his class he had to include the aspirations of the entire people.

Our politicians today (which, most of them, belong to the elite society) see to it that they need to include the voice of the masses. I don’t know if this is just a politicking tactic but I believe that since there is a class gap, the needs of the masses don’t equate with the needs of the elite. Rizal’s burden was to voice out the needs of the masses. In the status quo our leaders have the burden to see the needs of the masses and voice them out.

The Negation of Rizal

The true hero is one with the masses; he does not exist above them.

Well the concept of a true hero is really subjective in nature. But taking into consideration today’s society, I could see that our small heroes are really found within the masses. Those heroes are their leaders who speak in behalf of them and encourage them to protest, to launch a revolution. I haven’t felt any of our elite politicians launch a revolution.

The inarticulate are now making history while the articulate may be headed for historical anonymity, if not ignominy.

Well this is not true all the time. But nowadays, we could really see the inarticulate or those who have, relatively, poor education are making history. Take into consideration the case of the Sumilao Farmers who, in a sense, launched a revolution. And they made history, not to mention, they became popular.

Rizal has become part of our great history. Regardless of his being a national hero or his being not-fit-to-be-a-national-hero, Rizal gave us a good lecture of Heroism 101. An inspirational Rizal Day to everyone :).

Creative Commons License
A Scholarly Scandal by Alfred Miguel M. Aguado is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License. Based on a work at www.alpsaguado.com.

A Culture of Indolence

1-ugali-ng-isang-tamad
Original image from http://www.kibaka.org/

Christmas break–a time to relax, a time to get some sleep and a time to get time. The past few days were really baboy days for me–Getting up at almost 5 pm and would stay in front of my laptop while eating something for the rest of the day. I just had my academic things-to-do listed in my planner but I believe that I haven’t done the bulk of it or I haven’t done anything yet. I was thinking of something to write about during this inactivity of mine so I got some books from my book bank and started browsing. Surprisingly, just like fate wants to tease me, I have seen an article by Alfred Yuson: Let’s face it, we’re a nation of Juan Tamads. “Haha”, I laughed. But I read it, and I felt guilty. Not just for myself but for the whole Filipino nation. With this, I have remembered a paper I wrote when I was still taking a Rizal Course (PI 100, as we call it in UP). So I thought of an idea to fuse my reactions about Yuson’s article and Rizal’s The Indolence of The Filipos (Ang Katamaran ng mga Pilipino–sounds heavier when said in Filipino). This entry might be a little long but I will try my best to be concise. :D

Let’s start by being direct, are Filipinos really indolent? Tamad nga ba tayong mga Pilipino? We don’t ask this question often just because we already know the answer to this.

Let’s face it, we’re a country of idlers which is not the same as saying that we can’t get things done. We just do them, generally, at a slower pace that what might be deemed ideal for the 20th century. The way we process papers, fix up potholes, fall into bed, say our farewells–There’s a languorous quality to our manner of dealing with people and projects.

And I feel the same way Yuson has felt. I witness it, I even do it myself. When I’m in school, it’s a common thing hearing my classmates saying Wala pa nga akong nagagawa eh! NagMovie-marathon kasi ako! Tsaka nakakatamad naman talaga! Last minute na natin gawin! And, you guessed it right, I hear myself say that too. I think I can attribute what Yuson have said the the infamous Filipino Time. We have the Filipino Time because we are indolent. Nakakatamad gumising ng maaga for a meeting; nakakatamad magCommute, galing pa akong Muntinlupa; wala namang mangyayari sa meeting eh, ‘di na lang ako pupunta.

So what could be the causes our indolence? Let’s take a look at some arguments presented by Rizal and Yuson. First, they told us about the climate:

A hot climate requires of the individual quiet and rest, just as cold incites to labor and inaction (Rizal).

Blame it to the sun, our placement in the tropics, the enervating humidity if not the lulling seabreeze… absence of four seasons (Yuson).

I was really fascinated by how Rizal gave the tropical climate as a cause to the indolence of the Filipinos. I really agree with Rizal when it comes to making the environment as a factor. But I do not strongly agree. Although we have this kind of climate as a factor for anything that we do under the sun, we need to understand that this would be a part of our daily life, whether we like it or not. Hence, we need to train ourselves to consider the climate as a non-hindering-factor for working. We may concede that the climate is almost an inevitable factor but we need to get used to it, just what Yuson wants to argue:

It is the present that hangs heavily over the archipelago, so that individual consciousness if left alone to geographical influence would not readily ascribe to the eight-hour workday or the five-year economic plan. For these, we have to open up to, adopt and master the lateral, sequential thinking that has been turned into a way of life by other-than-tropical pragmatists.

It means that if we consider indolence as a result of mere climate influence i.e. indolence as something natural, something unavoidable then we would be indolent forever. We need to cope with this kind of natural phenomena by discounting the negative factor (which is environment) and be goal-oriented and be proactive about the problem.

Second, I have learned from Yuson that the poor education system here in the Philippines or the presence of many uneducated Filipinos could be a cause:

The istambay in the kanto could pore over the classified ads on any given day and discovers worlds of opportunity out there, if only he were qualified. Alas, he is not.

171_modernong_tamad_na_filipino
Original image from http://www.kibaka.org/

These idlers could have easily applied for a job if he is qualified, but because they are not educated enough, they are not. So what do they do? Go to Manang’s sari-sari store, mangutang ng 10 bote ng gin at maging sunog-baga hanggang madaling araw. A typical sunog-baga may say: I haven’t finished elementary so I can’t find a job. I’m too old to study again. So I’ll just hang around, laugh and drink with my friends until I die. But of course, making the Philippine educational system better would not make the situation better. This kind of example is just tangential to the real cause: a culture of indolence. Even those who can afford schooling and even those who are greatly educated are still prone to become indolent because it’s a culture, a shared culture that is. On a positive note, Rizal noted:

Indolence in the Philippines is a chronic malady, but not a hereditary one.

This line suggests that indolence doesn’t run in our blood stream, it’s a culture that can be change, hence, we could do something to combat it. But we need to understand that culture can’t be changed overnight, one must begin, one must make being-non-indolent a lifestyle, one must make it a personal culture and one must share this culture to all the people he or she knows. The same process should be done by those who received the shared culture. Some say that the government has a role to combat this negative trait:

We have already truly said that when a house becomes disturbed and disordered, we should not accuse the youngest child or the servants, but the head of it, especially if his authority is unlimited. The Filipino people, not being master of its liberty, are not responsible for either its misfortunes or its woes.

I agree with Rizal but I do not strongly agree. I have realized that everything that we are now could be attributed to the people on the top–to the government. What the authorities are doing would eventually be felt by those who are in the bottom of the hierarchy, if I could call it that way. Everything affects everything else. Same is true with the societal setting—whatever our authorities are doing would result to the condition of the state. But I believe that it takes two to tango, the society needs to have a contributive role. I am happy that Rizal considered this on the last part:

Peoples and governments are correlated and complementary: a fatuous government would be an anomaly among righteous people, just as corrupt people cannot exist under rulers and wise laws.

113652356_57032cb762
The Culture, The Business

I could say that bulk of the assertions made by Rizal in his articles is still relevant up today. One of the most applicable to our society today is this: RED TAPE–which is also a cause of indolence among us. All the Filipinos, as well as those who have tried to engage in business in the Philippines know how many documents, how many stamped papers, how much patience is needed to secure from the government a permit for an enterprise. I could say that our government exudes too much bureaucracy that could be a cause of indolence. Many of us wanted the easy way—tagging along a fixer. These fixers know that people are lazy to fall-in-line and wait them to be called, these fixers know that Filipinos are so tamad so they know they would be succesful in the fixing business. These fixers, are also indolent themselves, indolent to find a proper, decent job. Because of this kind of system, because of this kind of “group think” wherein one benefits the other, because of this kind of shared culture–tamad ka? tamad din ako, the situation get worse every single day.

Now who’s starting to change this culture of indolence?

Hmm, so where’s my planner again? I have to get started crossing-out some items in my Things-to-do list.

Creative Commons License
A Culture of Indolence by Alfred Miguel M. Aguado is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License. Based on a work at www.alpsaguado.com.

Speed and Size: The Yin and Yang of Boxing

It’s all in the news, Pacquiao won the Dream Match. Anyway, here are my post-bout thoughts.

pacmandlh
The Golden Boy and Pacman
  1. De La Hoya (DLH) had a two-faced flag. Together with him are the failed Mexican boxers. Apparently, the revenge was not successful.
  2. DLH looked like an old man with an obvious manifestation of arthritis. Look at those dreary, shaky legs especially during rounds 7 and 8.
  3. I am confident that all scorecards of the three judges from rounds 1 to 8are in favor of the Filipino boxer.
  4. DLH may have suffered malnourishment and dehydration just to qualify for the weight limit. Of course, I am exaggerating.
  5. The bout was all about speed. You can’t have speed and size at the same time or it is hard to have both.
  6. Tony Weeks, the referee of the fight, was really vigilant. He knows that he could stop the fight anytime.
  7. I believe that DLH really intended to raise the white flag or to surrender in-between rounds. He does not want the world to see him succumb to Pacquiao’s boxing arms while in an active fight. I believe that the fight would be more sensational if DLH was knocked-out during a round.
  8. The crowd, I believe, was dominated by DLH fans despite many Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in attendance. That didn’t make Pacquiao feel unsupported. The DLH fans can’t cheer anyway.
  9. DLH had a “token resistance”. He seemed to lack both offense and defense in each and every round. There was a little defense but it’s for the sake of defending himself and not to make it as a premise for offense. Of course, to establish offense, you have to defend yourself first or you need to establish them simultaneously. But DLH was contended with a patethic defense.
  10. DLH can enter showbusiness. He is damn too handsome to be a boxer. Hollywood or Mexico’s own version of Hollywood could be his new boxing ring.

Asian Pride and Honesty

Some Asian nations like South Korea (And North Korea perhaps?) and Japan value pride and honesty. The Japanese have harakiri: a means to retain one’s honor after a disgrace, better even than doing good deeds during the times wherein being a samurai is still a craze. And even in the modern day Japan, honesty is still highly valued. Take this example:

[Read more...]