Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Bluebook Evolution

Perhaps one of the long-standing icons of UP is the bluebook. From the hellish assignments and homework in our writing classes to our doomed exams in either math or physics, bluebook is the ever-present material that is almost a part of every UP student.

When I entered the university, the price of the bluebook was around 1.25 or 1.50. They were sold at the Coop, behind the Humanities Building in UPLB, together with those cigarettes that were still allowed to be displayed and sold inside the campus. Cigarettes were kicked out eventually but bluebooks remained. Perhaps it was a premonition of some sort that made me think at that time to buy a bundle of bluebooks for myself. I was to regret that I did not do so.

Fast forward and I had the most adventure- and problem-filled years in the university. Together with the passage of semesters and summers was the increase in the price of bluebooks. I cannot recall clearly when the price climbed a notch to 2 pesos. But I very well remember that it was 2.50 when I left the university – you’d be quite ‘lucky’ to get it for 3 pesos if you buy it outside the campus.

Barring the possibility of dying young, I am thinking of how much more will the price of bluebooks increase when I enter that ‘retirement period’. Is it the price of sugar that pushes the price hike? Unlikely, since sugar is not used as an ingredient to it. Perhaps the oil and/or gasoline used to transport them from manufacturing place to the selling place? Possible.

In the end, this is where a lay UP student (who doesn’t want to involve himself or herself to activism or any society-related activities) can have a direct experience on how small things in our society is affected by many different (and often bigger) factors. And those who do not have the means to fully provide for themselves (or who simply do not care) are often caught in the midst of the towering walls of commodity price increases.

Hope for a change is spilled everywhere now, but it does not mean that we citizens have to relax and let the president do the work. There is, I believe, a contractual activity that must exist if we are to achieve real change in the society. This is the most that we can do now, to fully cooperate with the leaders, since we chose anyway to have a government set-up that we have today. There is a big difference in just watching events unfold in front of our eyes – as in the case of the bluebook price increase – with stepping forward and acting towards the necessary changes that we desire to materialize in our community, in our society, in our country. (Let me expound on this later.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mapagpalayang Araw ng Kalayaan

Isa sa mga nakakatuwang araw ay ang Araw ng Kalayaan. Dahil bukod sa mga kaliwa’t kanang mga flag raising at mga seremonya ay muling napapakatok sa isipan ng mga Pilipino na Pilipino tayo at may bansa, kasaysayan at kalayaang dapat alalahanin at dapat ipagdiwang. At least, hindi lamang tuwing laban ni Pacquiao tayo napapagbuklod bilang isang bansa. Mas mahalaga na mabuklod ang isipan at damdamin nating mga Pilipino ngayong Araw ng Kalayaan.

Umabot na nga tayo sa ika-isaang daan at labindalawang taon ng pagdiriwang. Isang napakahalagnang araw na hindi natinag ng mga nagsidatingang mga mananakop pagkatapos ng mga Kastila, ng pagkakasangkot sa bangungot ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig, ng isang mahaba-habang panahon ng diktaturya. Isang pambansang bayani, marami-raming mga bayani ng rebolusyon at digmaan, at isang kasakuluyang henerasyon na tumitingala sa isang magandang bukas sa tulong ng bagong administrasyon. Ilan lamang sa mga sangkap ng bansang Pilipinas at ng ating patuloy na pagdiriwang ng araw ng kalayaan.

Maraming pagkakataon nang naging paksa ang tanong tanong na “Malaya ba talaga tayo ngayon?” Marahil maganda talagang itanong ito sa bawa’t araw, lalu na sa personal na lebel. Pero mas makabubuting ituon natin ang ating mga sarili sa kung ano ang esensya, ang pinaka-laman, ang pinaka-karne ng pagdiriwang ng Junio a-doce. Iyon ay ang paglaya ng bansa, na kalaunan ay nasumpungan ng mga Pilipino nang sila’y naghimagsik laban sa mga mananakop, sa isang mahabang panahon ng pakakailalim sa impluwensya at pamumuno ng mga dayuhan. Napakaraming pagkakataon sa kasaysayan na tinangka itong burahin (at palitan ng petsa), nguni’t nanatili. Marapat lamang na ipagdiwang ito dahil naging hudyat ito na noong mga panahon na iyon, nakilala ng mga Pilipino ang pagka-Pilipino nila – na Pilipino sila – at sila ay may bansang dapat linangin, protektahan, mahalin, at ipagmalaki. Parang isang istroya ng pag-ibig na hindi dapat matuldukan.

Sa kasalukuyan ay napaglaanan ng pamahalaan ng humigit kumulang sampung milyong piso ang pagdiriwang sa araw na ito. Hindi ko masabing labis o tama lang ito, sapagka’t ang pagdiriwang ng kasarinlan ay isang bagay na tila personal na mahirap presyuhan. Pero hiling ko lang (kahit sa susunod na pamahalaan na lang dahil halos tapos na ang termino ng pangulo) na kung pano natin kasiglang laanan ng pondo ang isang araw na pagdiriwang, sana mapaglaanan din natin ang maraming aspeto na tumutungkol sa kasaysayan natin. Ihalimbawa na lang ang pagsalba ng mga makasaysayang mga istruktura o lugar. Nabasa ko ng minsan ang planong paglipat ng lumang bahay (o paggiba rito dati) na may kaugnayan kay Rizal sa Biñan. Sana kahit may nakaumang na malaking hamon na sawatain ang kurapsyon sa gobyerno, mapaglaan pa rin ng sabstansyal na atensyon at pondo ang mga ahensyang pumapatungkol sa kasaysyan. At sana mapansin din ang mga boses ng mga pribadong indibidwal na kadalasang tumatawag ng pansin para sa mga pangangailangang may kaugnayan sa kasaysayan.

Sa panghuli, sana makatulong ang mga malakihang mga pagdiriwang ng Araw ng Kalayaan natin para maibukas na ang isip ng mga bata ng Pilipino sa murang edad. Ito’y upang sa simula pa lang ay maitanim na sa kanilang kaisipan ang kahalagaan ng pagkakaroon ng pag-unawa sa ating kasaysayan at sa Araw ng Kalayaan na isa sa mga malaking aspeto nito.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

* artikulong matatagpuan sa aking mga blog na Viole(n)t Mugs, Back Trails, at Kamalayan

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pondering the (Future) President’s Policy


A President is Coming to Town


This particular month of June will not pass by without having to change virtually the whole country. A new president shall man the palace now. We have seen and heard the toils and promises of the candidates, and their dreadful mud-slinging that thoroughly changed the hue of the current Philippine political scene in the last few months. But now that the show downs are over, we are altogether drawn to the fact that a new president has been chosen by the people.

I shall skip over the current issues still banging to our ears via the media, but it does not mean that they do not, in any way, affect the present (political) conditions. Indeed, their repercussions are yet to be seen. The vice-president position may still be in the hot seat, but Malacañang is now won by Noynoy Aquino.

Of course, the coming administration is being looked up now as the present hope for the various problems of the society today. To a large extent, the outgoing leadership, with all of its controversies and issues of corruption and death-defying political events, is to be given due for all this rising clamors of change. But, with a situation and set-up like this, where the majority of the citizens seem to be not satisfied of anything that is brought and served to them, I am not fairly surprised that many hopes are raised again at the impending oath taking of our new president.

I, myself, have been a willing part of that multitude of hopefuls, some of which have been discussed in passing in earlier entries. Noynoy seems to be the frail one among the brick candidates, but with all the characters that emerged as the campaign progressed it would be easy to concede really that he should be the choice of most of the Filipinos. He did win right, under the supposedly straightest electoral event in the country’s history.

Ponderings

As with all the considerations that we had when we voted for our candidates of choice, I risk saying that we have of course considered some benefits that shall at least tie up to us, making good of us in the long run. I can only think only of one, for this is one thing that has been a part of me, and which I believe with conviction would matter the most in the coming years. I am talking of science of course. Not just pure science, but all the aspects of it – science and technology, science education, culture of science, among other.

I would concede first that most, if not all, of the situations and ‘problems’ (for lack of a better term) that shall be faced by the coming president are intertwined to many extent. Poverty-overpopulation-education, for instance. Health-overpopulation, on another. Many permutations can be done. This, of course, is my own thinking only. It just helps me to look into the nature of the task that the next administration shall tackle. And science is no small thing.

For one, if science (with all the ideas of progress and advancement connected to it) policies are to be implemented or absorbed to many different sectors of the society – schools, industries, etc. – money shall be badly needed. And with money comes all the other major problems that we have been most certainly tired of watching in TV or reading on the newspapers.

Prestigious groups, councils, or organizations are already in existence, not just to make strong collaborations among themselves and to academic circles as well, but this alone would be no good. Conscious attention of the government on the policies that shall be implemented should be there. In need not be said that cooperation, and I mean genuine cooperation, between the government and the science community should be strengthened.

I can only cite of course the state colleges and universities in the country, where despite the aching tuition fee hikes in that last few years, still failed to uphold, in fact upgrade, the ‘academic conditions’ of our SCUs. There are still the rusty laboratory facilities, lack of materials for ready use either in class or research, and the ever-looming possibility that tuition fees might be increased again. SUCs are under the umbrella of the state anyway; I don’t see why the coming government should not get rid of the half-hearted efforts on the part of the government and instead boost more the science community of the country.

On first look, this may seem just a bunch of generalizations. I have seen how university faculties strive to bring academic outputs – either graduates or researches – to qualities of international standards. But I am for more than just having avant-garde scientists. I desire to have science running through the very veins of the country, through every living conditions of the country.

Singapore is already a fast-approaching passé example. We need not be so insecure as to push the country in one single move to be just like that. The Philippines, with its geography alone, and with all the diverse cultures and traditions weaved throughout the archipelago, a far different approach should be made. Now how, it is of course up to the government to tackle that out. All I want for now is to stimulate things up. There may be many other political or economic visions that people see as the ‘key’ or ‘keys’ towards Philippine progress, but with the way I see the situations among the youth and among the students in schools in particular, a cultivation of the culture of science in the Philippines should be put into action now. There may be the gigantic corruption that must be tackled first (a thing that is supposed to be tackled constitutionally, says one lawyer), but I stand here as a lone signal or reminder, that there are many effective channels through which this science endeavor can be delivered.

I can only stand by and perhaps observe for the usual First 100 Days. Perhaps by that time, I will have another say, perhaps a check-back on what has happened to this little desire of mine, and how the administration has fared to its promised platforms and policies.

Sites you might want to read and peruse: thepoc.net, noypipol.wordpress.com

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Educating the Kids About ‘It’: Sex Education in Schools


As we near the end of the summer vacation, most of the Filipinos are now set for the coming school year, be it parents gearing their kids up for their first day in school or college students preparing their pockets for the dizzying tuition fees that surround them.

Pre-teenage kids are in the spotlight right now, to the headache of some. News has conveyed to us recently that one of the new things that shall greet the students is having lessons about sex education. Specifically, this notorious and highly controversial sex education thing shall be taught to students in grade five and higher. It did not surprise me really about the obvious reluctance of the parents and some church officials about this. The opposition against Reproductive Health Bill a few years back is a glimpse already to the outlook of most, if not all, of the Filipinos whenever the ‘sex’ thing is the topic.

Misconceptions

I am dubious myself to a certain extent if I can call them misconceptions: those pre-conceived ideas of the people about what this sex education shall constitute. But nevertheless, it is very frustrating to see how Filipinos tend to give way to some reservations in favor of some “convictions” that do not have sound foundations anyway.

For one, I don’t believe that this sex education shall be teaching the ‘exact’ things of how to ‘do’ ‘it.’ (I am using quotation marks liberally to emphasize that we really consider ‘it’ vulgar to a large extent.) Perhaps in time I shall be corrected or what, but having the term ‘education’ there constitutes conscientious (if I may be allowed to use the word) teaching, situating what shall be imparted to the kids in a context that shall make them responsible individuals and not entice them to experiment for themselves.

Some elders may be forgetting their past lessons at school for they only agree that parts of the reproductive system can be taught, but no the process of reproduction itself. Man, I can still very remember my Science V subjects, complete with visuals and videos about the reproductive system! This sex education is a whole different thing, geared to open up the kids on the problems of overpopulation (and poverty to some extent, I believe) and bring them to the more fundamental reasons for them, and that it is the lack of comprehension and responsible handling of the issues of sex, teenage sex, family, and parenting, among other.

The Church Comments

Being a country of predominant Roman Catholics, the Church seems to have that unspoken ‘say’ on things, especially regarding ‘sex’. It was harrowing enough to have religion classes squeezed in to our Tuesdays afternoons (although the female student teachers were really attractive), but to hear the comment that the sex education must be molded into the biblical context would be an overkill. Sex must be attacked in very human terms. And although religion purports to deal with the daily living of man, this sex education must be left alone on its own and must be learned for what it really is. I can concede only as far as teaching them that sex must be done within the context of marriage. But apart from it, people – young and old alike – should make a full understanding of it and how it affects our present society and our future as well.

We hope for so much changes and progress in our country that sometimes we tend to forget one necessary act to proceed with these desires. And that is the acceptance that changes must happen first within us. Sex education may just be mere educating the children, but if we look farther, we may see the implications of this towards their future living. We cannot desire to be hardcore ‘conservatives’ without shedding a part of ourselves for a collective progress and/or change. Sex education is one mere speck in a multitude of aspects and issues that face us present Filipinos. If we have misgivings for such a small thing, can we expect more from other things that may require more of ourselves? Let us give sex education a try; I believe it is worth all the risks.

But in the end, we can only watch on how the agencies and officials concerned with this shall handle them, and the supposed ‘conservativeness’ of the Filipinos.