Sunday, March 28, 2010

A goodbye is forever

Goodbyes are very painful. There is always a finality in its content even if it is not a total goodbye. There is a big difference between a "goodbye for now, see you tomorrow" and one that will take years before being reunited once again with the person. Obviously, there is a big difference between a temporary goodbye and a final one which is a goodbye to someone being lowered to the ground. Just the same, both can be very painful in their own special way.

It is painful because you have already grown accustomed to the person's presence, listened to his/her voice practically everyday, talked and shared ideas with, shown and seen all swing moods, probably even quarreled with him or her from time to time. And in spite of all these, you are still together. Friends are like this. Sometimes, your relationship with your friends is even much deeper than what you have with your own siblings. This is especially true when you spend more time with them than your own family.

Probably the main reason why it is painful is because once someone leaves, that will mean a cessation of what you have got going for you. You are in a comfort zone and suddenly it comes to a halt. If you are like me who has stayed in one work place for so long, you would have experienced being left all the time. You have seen people come and go. You are left in mid-air only to start all over again with a new set of friends. That is what is painful with goodbyes. No matter how long the absence will be, there is a stop to the relationship and you both have to move on, find new friends from among your old and new acquaintances not knowing what the outcome will be. But once you are settled down, life goes on and your once close friend is only good for reunions trying to catch up on old times but it will never be the same again.

Of course a marriage is different. And so is your immediate family. There is a commitment you have sworn to protect, trust and obey. Friendship is not as rigid as this is. You become friends, bond and become together without any ceremonies at all. You just happen to be two or more people who happened to enjoy each others' company and it clicked! And so when its time to say goodbye, it will be painful because it will be forever.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The essence oif youth.

On Saturday, the school will graduate its Grade 7 and Senior students. Once again, familiar faces I have seen practically everyday will no longer be there. Well, at least for the Senior high school students. We have had some good and rough times, these seniors. I just returned to teaching after a two year stint as a Level Coordinator (a prefect of discipline if you will) and they were freshmen. You know, the awkward stage where they had just jumped out of being a child. They were very young they merely knocking on the doors of their teen years.

I remember the day when I was a high school student. I loved it too much that I took it for five years! Let's not get into the details, though. I think I have said enough. Suffice it to say that the 70's was such an interesting time to be a teen-ager that it was a bit too hard to get out of it. We have just seen the openness and the carefree ways of the hippies, their slogan of "make love, not war", their logo and sign of peace, their music, Woodstock, long hair, jeans, etc. Somehow, their rebellious nature robbed on us Filipinos bringing us into another phase of our history, the much talked about First quarter storm.

But it was not all patriotism. While it is true that there might have been hundreds of students that paid with their lives in the streets of Mendiola fighting against the tyrant, there were those who were just simply joining the bandwagon thinking it was hip (Well, they wouldn't be called hippies for nothing, haha). As a matter of fact, it was just all fad in some sort of way. The original hippies did not take a bath, were true to their motto. We were not like that at all. I shared with my sister's shampoo for one thing. And our Catholic upbringing still prevailed when it came to sex although there were a few who were liberated already at that time.

Nevertheless, I believe that era started the gap between the generations to escalate to high proportions. Children could no longer understand their parents and parents had lost their patience over their children. The men had stopped wearing pomade (you know, that sticky, thick goo you rub on your hair to make it stiff and stay in place the way you want it to) and had their hair longer and longer much to the dismay of their fathers. Fashion began to deteriorate as the "burgis", the elitists, were frowned upon. Of course, the thing that gave our parents nightmares is the fact that it was in this era when the young was introduced to the use of drugs. I remember the time when parents vehemently prohibited accepting anything from strangers, especially candies, for they might be laced with drugs (oftentimes opium) to make an addict out of you and make you their slave. I begin to wonder if these stories were true or they were just rumors spread to stop drug abuse. Anyway, when Martial Law was declared, we all rushed to the barbershop and mended our ways. Well, sort of.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. The one thing I like about teaching is that it is not your everyday routine job. You deal with different personalities and each one brings something new to you. You get excited every opening of classes as you do not know what is in store for you and you give off a sigh of relief every summer as you put to a close another chapter of the book of life, only to open another one the next schoolyear. You teach but at the same time, learn from your students as well. You make several mistakes along the way but you learn from them. Your students' youth brings you more vitality than you will ever know. I cannot imagine myself being tied to a desk pushing papers or doing accounting work. I have to meet people, talk to them, argue, comment and ask questions. I have to play with them, jam and sing along with them. I know it is my time to pack my things when I can no longer keep up. But right now, I am still at the top of my game.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

l'ecrit contre le mot parle

My friend and colleague who teaches high school philosophy in my school shared to me that one of their lessons is the difference between the written and the spoken word. Somehow, I found it interesting to write about since I am just idly sitting in front of the computer thinking of what to write. Hmmm, a brain exercise.

It takes two to communicate. There is the giver and the receiver of the message. How they come in agreement as to what the message is is practically dependent on the ability of both to play the roles they have in this kind of endeavor. While there can be many receivers to listen to a message, it would be chaotic to have more than one delivering it at the same time. Just the same, these receivers will sometimes have different understanding of the message they have just heard. So, basically, communication can be a very hard, it can even get frustrating at times.

Many will argue that in order to communicate well, one should know the right grammar, correct subject-verb agreement, tenses, etc. and going even further, syntax and semantics of a certain language. Again, this is dependent on the ability of the giver to make his message come across with nary a problem. But is this all there is to it? While it is true that these are very important, one can still communicate even with very minimal knowledge of a language. I think tourists in any land can manage to be understood, albeit with extreme difficulty, to get his/her message across using signs and symbols, and still get what he/she wants in the end if confined only to the very basic. When we went to Korea, most of the people we met did not speak English. So too were the store signs. But we managed to get by especially with a little help from the guide who even taught us how to haggle. The day we were to go home, the itinerary was to go to a famous theme park but knowing that I will have to spend more than I can afford (again), I opted to stay in the hotel. Come lunch time, I went out to look for a restaurant. I was shocked that none of the menus was written down in English. So what was there left? I pointed! I saw someone eating and pointed to her food, showed her money to ask how much and we understood each other. Whether I was taken for a sucker and paid more than I should have is totally a different story of course. But nevertheless, I was able to buy me some food.

The complexity of communication does not end there. There is the difference between the spoken and the written word. Which do you think is more effective in getting your message across? Is it the written text or the spoken word? Which would you prefer? I say it will depend on two things. Again, the ability of the participants and the message itself.

The written word is more permanent. One can store the paper on which the message is written and have it re-read numerous times until one has memorized its contents. This is the reason why when we deal with legal issues, we have to have them written down. This is called evidence. It will be very hard to deny what you have written down. The good thing about the written is that you have the time to edit and revise the piece before you send it out. In so doing, you have a well thought out piece (supposedly) which you have crafted to perfection at least from the point of the giver of the information. But more often, the receiver would want to react, clarify or make a comment. This makes the written word basically a one way communication until a response has been received.

The spoken word is a fleeting exercise and passes very quickly. This gives the speaker a chance to deny and swear by the grave of his/her great great great grandparents what he she has just uttered. Of course we have the tape recorder but sometimes, they can be inaudible. But then again, this can also when a piece of writing is done in a manner that can hardly be read. My handwriting is a classic example. When I learned how to use the computer, it seems like I have thrown my handwriting down the drain. I can hardly read my own handwriting.

The problem with the written word is that it does not contain life. It does not bear intonations, speech patterns of the speaker and the facial expressions that go with it. These are very important aspects of communication for they also convey meaning. A single word that would look benign on paper would have a different meaning with the tone by which it has been uttered. Of course, writing has developed exclamation points and question marks but then again, these are very limited.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Punching Bag" Clottey

I had from time to time watched rodeo games on tv. You know, those cowboys trying to overcome either a horse with a tantrum or a raging bull. I do not exactly know the rules of the game but I've figured out several things by just watching the game. Basically, the rider should stay on the animal for a given time before the latter throws him off its back. And yes, I can feel the rider's aching body once the animal manages to throw him and trample him with either its weight or its horns, whatever the case may be. Lastly, I know that it would be the biggest disappointment for a rider to learn that the animal will not try to even jump but just run. I think it's either called a buffer, an animal that is easy to ride, rope or throw, or it's what they call a blooper, an animal with very, very, little bucking ability that jumps and kicks or just runs around the arena. Maybe someone who is more adept with the game can correct me. Whatever it is, that was what Clottey was during the event that saw him pitted with Philippine Champ, Manny Pacquiao.

Just like the other Pacquiao games, I and my brother-in-law watched the game live on a pay per view location. Just like any other game, we went to the place early to get good seats. You can just imagine our disappointment when Clottey, just like a blooper, did not give a good fight but just stood there willing to be Pacquiao's punching bag. We could hear his coach/trainer saying "We're losing all the rounds" or "You gotta throw some real punches." It was a no contest bout. I was hoping he was just reserving his power till the end. I was kind of expecting he'd show his real strength by the eight round for after all, he does throw a mean right. But lo and behold, he was just like that till the end. And to think I have not had any sleep at all and had been a very bad parent to my daughter last night. But that's another story which I would narrate some other time, if and when I manage to have the guts. Suffice it to say that my gnawing conscience is bothering me a lot at this time.