Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 21, Secretary Jesse Robredo, Life, and Other Random Thoughts

The news during the recent long weekend (thanks to Eid-ul-Fitr and the new holiday that is Ninoy Aquino Day) revolved on the uncertain status of the country’s Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo, whose rented private plane crashed off the coast of Masbate. Eventually his body, along with the pilot’s, was found still inside the ill-fated plane, at the bottom of the sea on August 21.

As the wake proceeded, stories poured out from the people who were able to work for and work with him – stories of goodness, humility, and virtues best shown by an ideal servant-leader. Suddenly the term DILG became synonymous with the concept of selfless and honest public service. Somehow Secretary Robredo’s death agitated the sleepy and satiated politicians on their seats and made them uneasy on how they would be seen when they die.

What I enjoyed hearing among these stories was the fact that he could walk freely through the streets of Naga City and actually collected garbage in many instances. It’s like being a politician without the wearisome security problems that are usually associated with the position. For a short time, I already appreciated his approach to politics and perhaps more than that, his approach to public service.

I may not be in the public service but his life story certainly cut through me, especially the fact that he remained a strong family head despite the obvious time-consuming nature of his work. It is responsible action on responsibilities at best – from family, to community, to country. Again, his stature may be hard to reach but I want to take his life as a pattern, if not an inspiration.

Secretary Jesse Robredo’s post was well served. We must now look forward in seeing his progeny.

* Photo Credit: www.gov.ph

Act of Kindness

The title was derived from a phrase in the Evan Almighty movie: acts of random kindness. It feels rather different when you meet such kindness in person. The experience came in the form of my wallet – suddenly lost, actually unknown to me, then returned.

I decided recently to make use of markers and eraser only for my classes. Aside from them, I only brought with me my cell phone and particularly my wallet so that I will not lose it. In the end, I lost it without even knowing it (I accidentally left it on a drawer slot in the table on one of the classrooms I use).

Then there came these five students who took the trouble to rummage through my wallet to get any identifications of the wallet’s owner. Good thing I still have my temporary ID inside and so they identified me. Hopefully my fervent thank yous will suffice as I do not have any substantial resources to treat them as a reward. The heavens will bless them for me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our Heritage of Shortsightedness

The almost week-long suspension of classes (and work for the others) has relieved some of their strenuous activities. To some it was a chance to prepare for future studies (or work) and a bonus of being with their families. But in the backdrop flows a muddy and filthy view of the reality: that the reason behind the series of class and work suspensions is the flooding of most of the places in the National Capitol Region and surrounding provinces due to the unusual heavy rains brought by the southwest monsoon.

It was particularly irksome to note that we cannot mark a name for a typhoon for there was none. It was only rain, ulan, or habagat. But this nameless disaster has brought in destruction to infrastructures and personal properties which I think could rival the havoc wreaked by Typhoon Ondoy three years ago.

Manila in particular almost became an extension of sort of the nearby Manila Bay, only this time it is relatively shallow (from knee deep to head level) and brown in color. Class suspensions are grounded on the consideration that there will be no ways through which students (and employees) can pass. To wade or to swim would be definitely be out of the question.

What is disconcerting is that we have seen the same ugly flooding and destructions despite all the hype about the early warning systems on floods or any other disasters. These flooding and destruction come as a slap of insult to those who invested time and resources to get these warning systems to work. On the side of those affected it is another reason to throw blame to the government and complain of all the services that the government lacks in giving.

But every morning as we turn to watch the morning news about the updates on the flooding and those affected, there is one feature that I see emerging from all that has happened recently: that there is a glaring lack in coordination in all the efforts of the national government and the government agencies and the citizens. Of course we see the basic ones – weather or disaster updates being echoed by the various information dissemination means of the government such as online sites and the people in general should receive them on time. Assuming they receive the information but on their end they decide on their own (mostly for personal reasons) because they are not wholly (or should I say deeply) oriented about the things that they are likely to encounter soon.

The snag starts with the local authorities who at some point (thanks this time to the media) who are at lost as to where the big volume of water to their places come from and where the water would probably go. And the locals on the other hand maintain the indifference stance, ignoring all the time to heed the calls for proper waste disposal. Then there were those who opt to live under the concrete protection of bridges, adding to the already suffocating problem of decongesting most of the waterways (particularly in Metro Manila).

And so when disaster comes, the real politician in our leaders saves day by simply providing the immediate needs of those affected by the disaster and by polishing some neat rhetoric for the media to consume and disseminate. Those affected meanwhile make do on their makeshift protection and bear the poor conditions on evacuation centers. And this we see each and every time a disaster comes to the Philippines.

It’s sad how shortsighted we have all become.

I think we should shed this heritage of ours in light of the rise of technological advances (although they have their own disadvantages too) and make use of them to improve the aspects of our lives no matter how small it might be. Natural disasters can never be contained for as long as we live on Earth but we can make long-term preparations for them.

The scenes of those wooden boats plying the flooded streets will always remind us of how slow we are, as a nation, in improving our lives.

On that note a simple start would be by making effective and reliable information sharing with regards to a town’s or city’s flood behavior (for lack of a better term), geography, and other details that will prove crucial in case of emergency and/or disaster. Then a systematic and preparation and projection of evacuation processes should be in place. On the citizens’ end, we all go back to the germ of discipline, where we start recalling our elementary school lessons on the simple waste segregation and proper disposal. The video footages of the mess hauled from the area of Santa Ana in Manila are a testament to our growing disregard for discipline. But we can start again.

In any problem, we could start moving forward if we recognize our faults and from that gain our self-healing, and hopefully later on, make tangible actions and solutions to problems in our community and country.

A short post-habagat entry.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Gawad Felicisimo T. San Luis 2012 Experience

Time, personal incidents, lost motivations, and engaging work have consumed what could have been my allotted free times to go and deal again with blogging. But a rather sultry night following the days of rain has perhaps agitated my body and finally moved me to look back into the largely unsorted photos of this once-in-a-lifetime activity and write my thoughts about my experience about it. I refer to my participation in the recently concluded Gawad Felicisimo T. San Luis Para sa Namumukod-Tanging Kabataan ng Laguna 2012.

This should have been made already shortly after the awarding rites but it seems more befitting now to make mention of my own experiences a few days ahead of our scheduled meet-up; a kamustahan activity of sort this month.

From those who were completely clueless to those who were fully oriented and well-aware of the competition nature of the search, more or less forty young people from different towns and cities of Laguna were convened in the already-historic place called Bahay Laguna in Magdalena, Laguna to formally join the ranks of those who will participate in the annual search. I remember the disorientation I felt when I first read the notification message which I read on very day of the first meeting. Crawling from the makeshift bed in the already-disorderly apartment, I put on formal clothes saved for work which were fortunately ironed and well-kept. Later on I’d be battling with the rain during transit, confusing text messages regarding the directions to the venue, and a nagging feeling of not being prepared at all. But thankfully I was able to finish the whole introductory activity despite being half-sleep-deprived.

Months soon passed and we participants were engaged and subjected to several activities which, to a large extent, raked into our beings and allowed us to see ourselves better, all the time under the precepts and the inspiring life that was lived by Governor Felicisimo T. San Luis.

And perhaps I would concede to the observation that you get to appreciate someone or something if it is already gone or nearing its end already. Approximating the frequency of my attendance (for in some cases I had to miss an activity either due to work or to personal reasons), I’d say that I have appreciated more the search during the last few sessions, from the days when we were allowed to organize something on our own up to last event. It would have been good to have a clear idea of the competition. But for my case, it was more than fortunate that I was able to learn more about the search during the process already. The learning was always raw and the camaraderie that was forged was, as I have felt it, essentially permanent.

Competition-wise I lost but the prospect of winning was already in the waning as the names were being announced onstage (but that would only be natural for someone who has missed most of the activities). The prize came in the chance to join such an activity at my age when, as I see it, I am already out-of-place (as serious writing contests are my type at the moment). More than that, it was the chance to get to know a group of people with different backgrounds, family stories, religious views, and personal lives which, when shared, enriched our times together more. It will be on a note of regret to realize that I did not get the robust motivation to share more on my end. But still, all the talks and engagements have been insightful.

As in every point in life, it was just fortunate that we were pooled in those particular times. Separate lives will eventual diverge our times and paths and we could only live on memories. I hope I’d be able to attend to future events and see younger generations take the same process. I don’t know but it seems that Gob moves still at the present and bond the Laguna youth more into a one big family.

But in the end, my whole experience in Gawad cannot be confined in just a single blog entry. The heart carries the whole experience.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The 33rd Manila International Book Fair Is Coming Up!

MIBF has become a yearly tradition for Filipinos. Last year's event was attended by more than eighty five thousand people visiting over three hundred local and foreign exhibitors showcasing thousands of books. MIBF becomes a more challenging exhibit to pull off every year, especially as we come to the advent of the digital age and new ways of reading. –from manilabookfair.com

33rd Manila International Book Fair
September 12-16, 2012
SMX Convention Center
SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City, Philippines
- more info at: manilabookfair.com
- schedule of special events click here

There is nothing more exciting than the anticipation of seeing again thousand of books in one place. This is will be another chance to refurnish my super-mini-library and to add useful references for my ongoing book project. Cheers to fellow book lovers!

A Bookworm’s Sentiments

With more than ten years of a self-defined affinity for books, I am a bookworm by heart. Besides the engaging contents – from stories, to poetry, to scientific concepts – books make a good company and can compel you to take your own radical reading and learning developments. To a large extent, my lived life so far can be best described by the extent of what I have enjoyed reading and what I currently enjoy reading.

That’s why it is disheartening to come to some low points when you see a part of your life getting ruined. Seeing books getting ruined is certainly disheartening. Termite attacks may no longer be new to me (having experienced such an attack twice in the past) but those incidents make you feel rather sad.

As I have observed before, termites often go for the old ones, books whose pages are already yellowing and getting brittle. Gone are my books by Tocqueville, Dickens, Upton Sinclair, among others. The only consoling thing is the fact that I have resources now to obtain new copies. But the one thing that money cannot buy at all is the ‘sentimental value’ of some of the books.

But no matter: I take joy in the books which survived the attack and those which remain intact. My accidental discovery of the attack late one night immediately necessitated several painful hours of ‘rescue and recovery’ work for the books (which consumed most of the wee hours of the following day). The pain was worth it, instead of losing all of the books placed in those set of shelves.

The termites’ newfound place may have been due to several house repairs done during the summer (which forced them to change their ‘niche’) or it may be due to the incessant rains in the recent weeks. If it is because of the latter, I hope that this would be a sufficient consequence of this year’s abnormal rainy season. I cannot afford to lose more of my books.

Nevertheless, an upcoming book fair would hopefully put a cap on these bookworm’s sad sentiments.