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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

benefits of blogging

I have blogged about this before but I would like to blog it again. I am glad I have discovered blogging for I am continuously benefitting from it. I am not a real writer and I have never written as thoroughly as I am doing after I discovered blogging. The only written document I've done before are letters to parents of my students, to superiors and occasionally to some friends. Oh yes, I have done some research papers but not the full-blodded academician that i should be, I only produced boring, up to par term papers. Had I started blogging then, I know I would have come up with something more decent.

But that's not all! Much to my surprise, I have befriended wonderful people for only a short span of blogging. Before I go deeper, I'd like to reiterate that my purpose in blogging was two-fold. First, to have an online journal, hence, it can be said that I am doing this for self-gratification only, and later on, to leave something behind for my children and theirs, so that they would know what I thought of, how I reacted in different situations and why my decisions at certain issues had been. Gaining friends was a wonderful fringe benefit, so to speak. I started out with my Soft Grumbles which was really a trial blog where I intended to put yet another of my experiments which was writing poetry. Not computer savvy as the average blogger, I had to find my way like a blind man using his stick to feel his way. Slowly reading the instructions at blogger, I learned, albeit with a lot of heartaches, how to add links inside and outside the text. I learned how to manipulate my template, and most of all, bloghop.

It was through bloghopping that I realized how inferior my writing was. I envied blog titles which were really catchy and captured the essence of their contents. I was voyeur of some sort as i read and read different blogs trying to find a pattern. And then I chanced upon Batjay's kwentong-tambay. I was so impressed at its uninhibited content, honest and down-to-earth that I literally checked out all the entries in its archives. After some time, feeling that the owner of the site was approachable, I dared myself to put a comment. And lo and behold, he responded! That emboldened me to put more comments on every entry until we were exchanging emails. AFter some time, he encouraged me to put up a teaching blog and Mga turo ni tito was born. He is the loving husband of the sweet Jet whose writing style is flawless. BTW, the two just celebrated their 14th year anniversary as a couple.

Next was the Sassy's house on a hill. Now, this was my model of what straight writing was all about. Just like what I did with Batjay's blog, I kept coming back to look for patterns on how to compose my thoughts into a cohesive, understandable text. Amd as before, I started out as a lurker, trying to get a feel of what the owner would be like. If you take a look at the archives in this blog, you will discover that I was not putting a link in my blog yet during the first few attempts that i tried commenting. I feared that Sassy might go to my site and realize how poorly written the contents in my site were.

Slowly, I learned how to kick my blog a notch higher and people started coming and leaving comments. I then discovered the sites of The Ca t and Doc Emer respectively. These two sites provided me with more models of writing. The Ca t was writing like Batjay's but in a different style of her own while Doc Emer was like Sassy's albeit this time, it was about medicine and health. By this time, I had already grown confident both in writing entries and commenting in other people's blogs.

From thereon, I have been continuously in touch with these guys. Not only were We putting comments on each other's site but we constantly exchanged emails that gave Doc Emer the idea of forming our own google group called the bloggingberks. This group finally decided it was time to put up a blog of our own and blogkada was born. From the original seven, we grew to a whopping thirty three that we decided to stop at that number or we would be having a hard time maintaining it. I have never seen a group that clicked that well. Members include food connoisseurs Ting and fellow rocker Zennor. There's the analytical Jardine Davies who could tackle any issue just like Sassy, who got me involved with pinoy poets, the blogkadahan twin towers and super models Mari and Ajay who did a very good review of my blog in manila Bulletin, voluptuous Mec who's about to tie the knot with a former student of mine, the beautiful TinTin from Fort Worth Texas, Durga from New Jersey, Cerridwen who lives in California, proud mother JMom also residing in the States, strong-willed Svelte Rouge, academicians Ruth, co-teacher Joyce, the cute Ate Sienna owner of Pansitan and designer of my template, beautiful MrsPi, petite tanya, irresistably beautiful and kind Toni, proud mother Sachiko who lives in Japan, sweet Kiwi Pinay from where else but New Zealand? and the youngest of them all, bunsoy Karla.

Not to be outdone are master story-teller Bong K, master computer manipulator, Polo, kind-hearted Watson, student activist Apol, and inspiringly handsome Tatang Rome.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

who is number one?

I received an email yesterday citing a list of top universities in the country today. Too bad, I accidentally erased the email not thinking that I will blog about it. Anyway, as far as i can remember, topping the list was the University of the Philippines, together with some 10 other universities in Luzon. Anyway, Bobit S. Avila of Philippine Star, in his Inside Cebu column said, "On the top four slots were the University of the Philippines Diliman, UP Los Baños, UP Manila, and Siliman University (Dumaguete City), respectively. Ateneo de Davao came fifth, followed by Ateneo de Manila University. In seventh to 10th places were the University of Sto. Tomas, Mindanao State University (Iligan), Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and St. Louis University (Baguio)...

This list got me wondering how we fared internationally. Making a quick browse in the internet, I chanced upon a list of top universities in Asia here. As you can see, Asiaweek has the UP ranked as 41st, DLSU (71), Ateneo de Manila (72) and UST(74)in Asia alone. Should I say we are doing poorly? Now, I don't know how old the list is as the recent Professional Regulations Commission and CHED list shows that Ateneo and UST are higher in ranking than DLSU. However, which ever is the best University to go to is not the point of this blog.

What does a list like this say? Does it really mean that the one at the top slot is the best among the lot? Maybe, for after all, the statistics cannot lie. I have a very simple mind and in my simple way of thinking, I believe it is easy to be number one. All a University has to do is to select its students... meaning, accept only the best student-applicants through a very competitive entrance examination, then, weeding out those who cannot cope with the high standards of the university during the course of their stay. This is the reason why high school seniors would attend review classes just to enter a university of their choice. (I believe there is something wrong here. The entrance test is given to see the preparedness of the applicant for college. Now, if the student still has to review for it, then does it follow that either our high schools' offerings are not sufficient, that we are looking at the wrong direction, or are colleges testing the wrong areas?) In any event, by choosing and teaching only the best students, the university is sure to produce the best.

However, is that what we need right now? The country produces thousands upon thousands of high school graduates. Where will these kids go? We know for a fact that we, as a people, put a very high premium on education thinking that it is the key to a well-paying job, ergo, a ticket to easy streetville.

For me, education should be open to all. Every young Filipino should have access to education. I can understand UP for its acceptance policies because it is State run. But that is on the premise that it only cater to the poor. No tuition fee paid. If the State will shoulder the burden of educating the masses for free, it has to be ensured of a very high performance rating. But is that really the case? How many students from the UP are poor? With the advent of technology, the playing field had changed. Only a fraction of the poor sector can pass its very high standard simply because most of them did not have the luxury of having a good education during their elementary and high school days. Maybe the socialized tuition fee is the answer for after all, UP cannot exist without a steady income. (Well, what school would?) It cannot rely on the government for sustenance, can it? But still, what is the percentage of the those in the lower socio-economic bracket are studying at the UP? Never mind.

What is saddening is that in her article entitled "A Bill to save University of the Philippines, which appeared on August 9, 2003, Rina David hints that the UP's edge over other universities may soon end. In a letter, UP president Francisco Nemenzo wrote that even as the university approaches its centennial, 'UP is facing harder times than ever." Many of its top Ph.D.'s have left for better-paying jobs in the private sector here and abroad, he mentions, while its laboratories and libraries "badly need to be modernized." Hopefully, our government leaders would find it in their hearts that we need good schools like the University of the Philippines and put greater emphasis on education by allocating more budget because not doing so would spell our doom as a nation and as a people.

What makes a school a good one? I believe it is the combination of a good faculty line-up, good resources and educational equipment and a conscientious student body. These I believe are the essential requisites of a good educational organization. But of course, that would be asking for the moon.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

bloggers beware!

I received a message from my friend Batjay about a newstory of a Singapore student who may be facing legal consequences over a public blog containing
defamatory statements.
This made the student, who is currently completing his Masters' degree in the United States to close his blog after he was threatened with legal action by A*Star (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) who stated that while it is for "diversity of views" still found the contents of the blog beyond what was acceptable. Read the story here

I am not aware if we have anything in the court dockets that concerns articles in blogs to this nature or something else. That would be along the turf of the Sassy Lawyer and La Vida Lawyer, Marvin Aceron. Assuming that there are no cases yet filed, I guess, the legalities concerning blogs are still unfamiliar territory to Philippine courts. Hence, Filipino blogging is still very much fair game.

As I have said in my interview with Ajay in that article she did featuring my blog, I do not believe in censorship as it is counter-productive and stifles the creativity of an
individual. However, I also leave it to the good judgment of the writer, yes, even of a blog, to know what to write and what not to. To paraphrase
Dean Alfar
in his eloquent speech last Saturday at the iBlog summit held in UP, that once one puts up a blog, one owes it to his/her readers to come up with intelligent content in one's writing. Let's face it, a blog is part of a public domain and hence, we shall be accountable to what we say in our blogs.

I am a supporter of free speech but only when the writer/speaker focuses on ideas. To me, resorting to name calling and character bashing is a cheap shot and has no place in an intelligent discourse. I guess, the rule of thumb is, stick to the issue! Leave the name calling to people who are short sighted and have nothing to hold on to with their arguments. Arguing with them is an exercise in futility. It would be a lot better to pick up your guitar and sing rather than engage them to a lengthy, circular and useless debate.

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Fun time!

Every summer, the family takes advantage of the long vacation to travel and tour the country. We would do this with our extended family, a group of seven or so families with whom we spend time together on practically every occasion there is. This year, my family couldn't make it to the tour but because I have not yet gone to Bicol (probably the only province I haven't been to in Luzon), I was granted permission by the wife to tag along. I rode with Joven's family which is a welcome change as I know I couldn't stand that long hours of driving. (I am not that repentant as the my wife took the girls to Boracay. Besides, the children and i are together the whole day everyday as we all go to the same school so I guess my absence was a welcome relief, hahaha)

My real purpose was to see Mayon Volcano as I have seen a glimpse of the mountain in an airplane enroute to Manila from abroad. I can see the majestic mountain and somehow, it gives me a thrill just looking at it. It seems like its power lures me to stare at it from a much closer view. So, we went there mid-summer and I know I would have a real good view as the place we were staying in was a good spot for viewing. It would seem like a stone's throw away, so to speak. Guess what? I saw a glimpse of it on our way and never saw it again until we left on Easter Sunday. Why? It was raining and the mountain just disappeared, covered by thick clouds. No matter where we went, like the Cagsawa ruins, that famous picture perfect view of the mountain amid the ruins... nada!... Not even when we went to he Mayon resthouse where I was told was the foot of the volcano, actually about a 400 meter climb where you are suppose to see the canals, every nooks and crannies of past eruptions... still nada. What we experienced was a day filled with mist and a very cold breezer that surprised me no end as it was Good Friday at the time. I never thought nature would have deprived me to see the legendary volcano but nevertheless, it didn't spoil my fun as I was with beautiful, happy and energetic people. Here are two pictures taken at the Resthouse.

Posted by Hello

The boys at Mayon Resthouse: From l-r: Shane, Edgar, Arnel, Joven, Dante, Ricky, moi, Ollie, our Japanese friend who comes yearly to visit his beloved, Hocto and at the back is our host and friend, Gene

the girls from L to R: Posted by Hello

from l-r: Claire, Gigi, Ethel, Tetay, Vivian, Jenny, Kathy and Agnes.

Not to be outdone, my blogging family also had a blast a few days ago. Ate Sienna the petite owner of the blogging group Pansitan.net and Manileña who designed my template is in town! Naturally, close friends that we've become as we are both members of the Blogkadahan community blog, we decided to meet with her at Dad's for dinner at the Megamall. She was even more vibrant and warm in person than she is with her blog and other forms of correspondences like the email. When you think you;'ve known the person for so long, it still surprises you to know more about him/her in person. That's what i thought when we first met. And everybody else agreed.

Another person that we've met for the first time who turned out to be a real revelation was misispi. Although she appears "tres chic" and elitist, she also turned out to have her share of "kabaklaan" that night. I may have been shy around her as she looked intimidating with her black dress and the way she carried herself, but knowing that although she's younger than I am, we share the same tastes for music.

Those who attended were Karla the youngest in the group, Apol, Doc Emer who had to leave early as he was extremely busy tending to a sick patient, Bong K whose blog's template is another one of Ate Sienna's creations, and the twin towers of blogkadahan kingdom, Mari and writer/poet Ajay who wrote that ever so kind article at the Blog-o-rama, Technews section at the Manila Bulletin featuring my blog and Marisol's. Too bad, Sassy and Mec had to cancel as there had been more pressing matters to attend to.

That was some night and a lovely sharing of stories and food. Ah, what could have been a better combination?

EB with Ate Sienna Posted by Hello

Standing from l-r: Karla, Apol, Doc Emer, and Bong K: Seated from l-r: Mari, misispi, moi, Ajay and Ate Sienna.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Farewell, my friend

I have just received news that my college buddy, my best friend, Lynne Sanchez, passed away last April 4 after a gruelling battle with the Big C. Lolit, her sister, told me that I was to give a eulogy for her.

It might sound a bit cliche but it just seems like only yesterday when I first saw her on her motorbike driving from home to school. You should understand that during those days, that was not a very usual site so I was really impressed.

She was my partner in crime from first year till we parted ways after graduation. When I got married and had my first child, she was the first one to come for a visit while wife was heaving in pain, counting how far apart were the contractions. Naturally, she was first on the list as one of the godmothers. From then on, she would come for a visit with another friend and stay in our house. There was even a time when she and another friend stayed over while we discussed the friend's philosophy assignment.

In college, we would meet in our favorite tambayan at UERM in the morning, have breakfast at Laurel and Hardy, attend classes until we got tired and decide to go some place else, like watch a movie with our friends. Usually, we would go to her sister's printing press and stay there to eat, bum around, play the guitar (this was the time when not even the karaoke was invented yet.) She loved singing Carly Simon songs...Legend in your own time, Anticipation, and her favorite, I've got my mind on my man again. She also played a mean Lucy in The Skies with Diamonds, among others). From her, I've learned to like sappy songs like Tavares' Hardcore Poetry, Allesi Brother's OhLori and Kenny Rankin whose concert we saw at the Folk Arts Theater. We would separate ways at about 6 pm when there's no other place to go, and talk on the phone afterwards. No, we were not a couple. We were just good friends all that time who shared the same likes and tastes for music and practically everything.

No sooner than the first time we got together, her family and friends became known to me and I would spend Christmas with them, go to discos, Baguio and all other fun places. In school, we would go with our friends and roam all over town on her sister's car, have lunch at the Golden Room of the Aristocrat or whatever fancy place we would chance upon. These we've done for what seemed like ages.

After college, she worked for a Travel agency for a time until she decided it was time to migrate to the US. The last time I talked to her was when she was already ill but she was still the same kind of woman I've known. Her hearty laughter permeates the room everytime. I remember that her strong presence was felt once you've entered the room. Her cologne was simple and yet always had a lasting effect on anyone. We always had fun time together.

It just seemed so impossible that death should come to her, young as she was and full of vibrance and wit. And yet, it did. It is during these times that I know how small I am, that I am not invincible and that life as I know it should cease one of these days.
So, to Lynne whereever you are, thank you for the memories. One of these days, we will be jamming again!

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Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.

Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
Posted by Hello
Location: Bambang, Pasig City, Philippines

Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.

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