Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pick up the pieces

It came as a surprise to me that Sassy, who is celebrating her birthday today, should remember an old favorite post of mine entitled not everyone was born to be a rocket scientist and use it as a take-off point for her blog entry, which also saw print simultaneously in the pages of theManila Standard yesterday. While my original post was about the different abilities of each individual, thereby dictating ones chosen career, Sassy takcled the issue in a much different angle, viz., financial capabilities. In her article, she adroitly emphasized that the choices for a career for a lot of individuals have been narrowed down to an even smaller margin, basically because of the inadequacy of the family to send the child to school. This is very unfortunate especially in a country where people place a very high premium on education.

Ideally, worrying about where to get the funding for a good education should not be the case. If only these were good times economically, then all we have to worry about is mental capability. Children should learn how to dream big! It is only in dreaming that we begin to become big. If our ancestors never dreamt of flying, we could not have gone to the moon.

In my comment to Sassy's entry, I lamented that it seems like we have forgotten how to dream. How can a person living in dire straits dream when he/she is worried if he/she could eat each day? Finding food for the table is paramount to a lot of Filipinos. That is a given. And yet, can it be said that this is only true to the poorest of the poor? What about those who can afford three square meals a day? The middle class? Ah, there's the rub. Even most of these people's idea of success has been marred by an even more menacing factor in our lives. i am talking about the ill effects of the tv and print media. Taht element that is spawning mediocrity and false hope for the people.

Everyday, we are bombarded by shows detrimental to our aesthetic ideals and even challenging our very morals the way we want them to be. Just look at the two biggest tv stations in the country today. Go to one and you can easily say what the other is showing at the same time. The same format, the same kind of shows, practically the same game being aired at the same time. And these stations attract the very young to the oldest member of the community. Isn't it a typical site where You'd see the elderly egging a child to dance the latest dance step being shown on tv? Never mind the sexual undertones of the dance. There are parents who would take their children out of school so that the child can audition for a children's contest on tv. I can just assume that there'd be a long queue waiting for their turns. Never mind that they are being baked by the sun and that the child has not had his/her breakfast. Nevermind that the child is clad in her finest clothes and sweating all over. The return of investment might be gigantic.

What about the reality shows? (if its happening abroad, it must be good, so we must have our own counterpart, right?) Is there anything real about them? Would the average Juan or Maria act the same way given that situation? Or are they setting a new wave of thinking?

Nevertheless, I think I have digressed from Sassy's thesis in her article and mine. Given the harder times ahead (what with the advent of evat and all) should we as a people abandon dreaming? I say no, We should not stop to dream. We have to dream and dream big otherwise, we will never go anywhere but down. Even the most broken-hearted can pick-up the pieces and start from there. Let's start picking up the pieces, shall we?

Monday, October 17, 2005

All my own!

What is plagiarism? Ajay, who writes for the Manila Bulletin's Technorama (I couldn't establish the link at this time, sorry) section featured the Blogkadahan members about their take on the issue which appeared on Sept. 25 issue. Here, the blogkadahan members were one in defining the word, albeit said differently, and condemn the practice as it is very unproductive.

Anyway, one of the greatest sins a student can do during his lifetime is to plagiarize. Plagiarizing is the act of passing somebody else's work as your own. This can be in the form of copying actual words or ideas. Merely paraphrasing the sentences is a form of plagiarism. In this day and age of computers, to plagiarise is so tempting. Why not? All you have to do is "copy and paste"! How many high school students have done that? I guess a lot. But that doesn't make it right. Plagiarism is a crime which teachers should be conscious about in checking what the students submit to them.

Sometimes, students miss the point. What is important with research work is not only the substance you learn from the information gathered but more importantly, the learning of the process. Data gathering is an art in itself. One has to gather enough materials so as to be able to form a substantial conclusion. i don't know how teachers give the assignment but if I remember correctly, my teachers used to say, "Okay, make a research on the life of Jose Rizal... Compare and contrast his life with that of Andres Bonifacio... and then those powerful, USE YOUR OWN WORDS."

Honestyly, at the time, I didn't exactly know what that meant. I have heard those words quite often that it kind of lost its meaning. Since there are high school students reading this (I hope) I'll try to do it using a metaphor. In making your research, picture yourself as having seen a film and narrating the entire story to a friend. Now, I'm sure all of us have done that, right? You see a movie that you really liked, you tell your best friend how you liked the film. You are ecstatic. First you tell him/her a summary of what happened in the story. How the protagonist was beaten up at the start and how good triumphs over evil in the end. Then, you realize your friend does not yet share your enthusiasm, so you give comparisons like, "Yes, it's better than Harry Potter I and give reasons why you think so!" Then, if you have more time and you have a good listener, you go on deeper. You analyse the film. you talk about the persuasions of the characers - "IN YOUR OWN WORDS"

Well, in making your research, the books that you read would be the film. You synthesize these, compare the points where the authors agree and take note if there are conflicting accounts, make up your mind and write about what you think it is all about. Should you need to copy a phrase, do not forget to cite the source. You could either use footnoting or incorporate it in the text. ex. George Bernard Shaw (1956:p. 10) said: "I dream of things not here today and wonder why." (note, the year and page is bogus)

Remember, education is not really all about Math or Science or whatever subject there is. More than anything, it is about teaching you how to think! In like manner, research is not only about learning the content, what is more important is learning how to do it. hope that helped.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A cat story

I never had a pet in my life. Not a dog, or a cat or even a little hamster. So, you see, I don't know how to react to animals. At best, I can view them from afar but hold them close? Never.

I never thought any of my kids would have a liking to pets. Sure, they have asked me for some but I told them about the responsibilities of keeping one. Feeding it is the easiest part. Maintaining it, as in cleaning after it, managing its poop, washing it to prevent fleas, etc... That is big work. Besides, putting a dog on a leash or just plain keeping it inside a tiny enclosure is not my idea of having a pet. To me, what's the use of having one if you can't play with it? And how can we afford having a playful dog inside a tiny house with so many breakable things? It;s just impossible. So, we never kept pets!

However, when our present neighbor moved in, more than ten years ago, they introduced cats in the area. They would let their cats loiter around knowing that these cats would survive on their own. One of these cats sneaked into the house one day and I told my mother-in-law and my wife not to feed it so that it would go away. Unbeknownst to me, they did. At least my mother-in-law did. "You;ll never know when this cat can become handy. It is good for catching mice." And so, that cat stayed. And it gave birth, and soon enough, we got to have cats around our little fence. I remained adamant not to let any of these cats inside the house as it might defecate anywhere. And so the story goes. Cats became old and went probably to oblivion.

Until this new liter of white ones. The white cat produced three kittens which were just as white as their mom. Now from among these three, two caught my attention. The first one has blue-eyes while the other has green on one side and blue at the other. Neither their white color or the specialness of their eyes was remarkable to me, though. Remember, I don't like having pets. They're just plain responsibility!
Well, it turns out that these two cats are different after all. I began to notice that these cats would approach me everytime I went outside for a cig. They would go around my legs, purr silently keep on rubbing themselves. Now, I've seen how lions behave when they socialize. This is some form of bonding or so I thought. None of the former cats did that.

Then one day, while I was sitting on a chair outside the house, the two colored eyes cat jumped and stayed on my lap and purred as if pleading for me to pet it. I did. And that started it all. Every night, these two cats would take turns sitting on my lap asking to be petted. It's beginning to recognize my gestures and learning to come and go away on cue. Something happened which I thought would never do. I now call them my own. I even eagerly await my smoking time to spend some time with these cats. Sometimes, I feel like they were the ones who trained me, rather than I training them. Nevertheless, I never thought two innocent cats would soften my heart. At any rate, I plan to have them neutered.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Proud papa don't preach

mickey performing a la andres segovia/earl klugh Posted by Picasa

compliments to nica for the picture.

Yesterday, my son (yes, he's blogging now!), Mickey asked permission if he can bring my guitar to school. I was a bit hesitant as that guitar has a very significant meaning for me. (I have blogged about it and if you're interested, just follow this link.) It turned out that he volunteered to play the guitar in an intermission number for an activity of Juniors and Seniors at the main theater. I conceded and gave him my nod. I told him to just leave the guitar in my office and to come and get it from there should he want to practice. He agreed and said it's not yet certain anyway if he could be allowed to perform.

I completely forgot about it and was out of the office during lunchtime. Naturally, he wasn't able to practice.

Showtime came. I think he was told that there would only be one intermission number and that he might not be able to perform. "Performing was already out of my mind," he told me later. What happened was the judging took some time more (it was some sort of a songwriting contest for Juniors and Seniors) and the teacher-in-charge asked him to go up the stage to perform. So, when the announcer called out his name, that started a gruelling experience I've ever encountered.

You see, I've seen him perform playing the violin before. That's supposed to be his instrument. He's had proper training and had been playing the instrument since grade three. But the guitar? He just picked it up this year. One time, my guitar was lying on the sofa, he picked it up, and began asking me questions about where the notes are. "Pa, where is C (do)? Where is D (re)? etc. Then, he asked to see my guitar pieces. I gave him an easy piece to humor him. He struggled and I kept reminding him where the notes where. Soon enough, he was already playing the instrument to my amusement. "Geez, I don't think I taught that boy!" So, playing the guitar was fine, but performing live? Talking about kicking it up a notch! He's not only kicking, he's trying to pull a round house flying kick! I would assume he wouldn't have the guts. But not my Mickey. Somehow, I feel he has set out a goal and that the only thing that is preventing him is stage fright and he knew he has to confront his demons.

So going back to my gruelling experience. Once his name was called, I already start setting my sensors on. How would the audience react? Would they be booing? I hope not because that would hurt big time! Would he suddenly have mental block and stop playing in the middle of the tune? (That happened to me with my friend Redjie, you see) Will he be heard considering that he's not really accustomed to plucking strings as he's always used a bow? Will the students holler and heckle him? What do I do just in case? Will I stand up and show them I was watching.

No, let him be. He will have to face this alone.

During the intro, he missed the third note and he stopped! He strethed his hand and fingers, wiggled his foot, looked at the audience searching for someone, who I later on learned was his sister Kim, signalled her the thumbs up sign which she acknowledged, and start playing again. He played Earl Klugh's rendition of "If you should know by now" and the girls started singing the song once they picked it up. I, on the other hand, was trying to send out mental signals (as if they work) "too slow!" "too soft" "put the guitar closer to the mike" while my heart pounded.

Finally, the song was finished and he gave a bow. He finished it without a fluke. Everybody cheered. And my ordeal was finished. I had to go to the clinic to check my BP. I swear, the next time he performs, I will demand that my wife watch it with me. Nevertheless, I am avery proud papa right now.