Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fangirl Mode #1,854


Because I am fangirling. I actually found this six years ago, when  April Carmela Lacson, this year’s bar topnotcher from UP,  got a freaking 99 in Prof. Muyot's Consti 1 midterms and I overheard people at the OCS and upper class students talking about it. Oo, may pagka-tsismosa ako, haha. The quiet little lady’s got spunk. Ah, it sounds like I’m describing the late great Prof. Baviera, and I won’t be surprised if Ms Lacson follows that same path, bilang ang advice niya for studying for the bar is “memorize the codals.”

Hats off, Ms Lacson! It’s an honor getting drunk with you (or getting drunk in your presence, because I have never ever seen you drunk).


photo courtesy of Patty


******

A NO-NONSENSE VALEDICTORY 
by April Lacson, M.A. Political Economy,
University of Asia and the Pacific, 2006


Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests, Fellow Students:


I am not graduating today and neither are you. My graduation came the day I was told that I could finally bind my thesis after 51 revisions. There were no cheers or claps that day. There were no witnesses. Only a quiet sense of fulfillment and a voice within me that said it was done and I had done it. That was my graduation. When was yours?


It could be the day you took your last exam, the moment you typed that final period in a term paper or the day you saw a "P" beside your student number in the compre results. Whatever or whenever it was, that was your graduation. Not this. And not today.


During graduation practice we were told that this was a show. And, it is. For today, all the pomp and ceremony only serves to show that the world has finally recognized what you knew and earned long ago. Today, we receive one of the most expensive pieces of paper we will ever buy. Valuable not only because we've spent almost half a million on tuition fees, books, and allowance, but more importantly, because we've given four or five years of our lives to get it. Years we will never get back.


Now, having finished one goal, what comes next?


If you've been keeping apace with the news then you'd know that in the last few days, 5800 people were killed in an earthquake in Indonesia while another 20 lives were lost in the civil unrest in East Timor. But just as graduation is a part of school, death is a part of life. The real tragedy is not that they died but that it took their dying to give their lives significance. So I ask again: having finished one goal, what comes next? Will you allow your life to end the same way? Will you be contented to spend the rest of your life in mediocre existence? In living death?


I don't mean to dampen your spirits. In any case, I don't think that's possible - at least not today. But when your head is in the clouds, it's best to make sure that your feet are still firmly planted on earth.


Today marks the end of more than 10 years of formal education. Today, we reach the crossroads. We are as barks in the water. Ships which, having left one port, are in the middle of the ocean. Destination: uncertain. We are the captains and the crew awaits. Where do you want to go?


In the midst of your drunken raves, shopping sprees or bar hopping binges, have you stopped to ask yourself: why am I here? Or, while in the middle of cracking a joke between colleagues, paused to wonder if there is more to life?


Textbook answers won't do. Nor would replies mimicked from celebrities or quoted from your peers. YOU must answer. Not your family or your friends. YOU. Because however much society might nag and wail, life is personal and it is best lived according to your choices and your values.


So, if you haven't yet, ask yourself now ... There are no wrong answers except one: settling, when you allow your life to be less than what you have imagined or wished it to be. When, having reached one goal, you stop, contented ... When, in any endeavor, you hold back, and stand aside satisfied.


The history of mankind is the history of individuals. Just as we forget the armies, but treasure the generals that lead them, society forgets those who follow and remembers those who dare to shape the world according to their own vision


Do you wonder why the Philippines is struggling or why, after millions of dollars in aid and development efforts we remain steeped in poverty? It's because we lack individuals. Not people, individuals. Because too many of our fellow citizens have thrown away their capacity for independent thought. Because too many have abandoned their creative potential in exchange for a pretense at existence. Because we have become a country of superficial imitators.


Have you ever quoted an author without understanding what he meant? Ever parroted an answer to get the grade? Ever watched a show, bought a dress, or joined a club not because you liked it but because everyone else has seen, admired or joined? Then you're as guilty as the bum on the street who refuses to work, and just as culpable for our country's indigence. Perhaps even more so, especially since we have the means and the education to have known better.


Well, today, I challenge you. To become individuals. To get our brains back and start pursuing a goal that's entirely our own. I challenge you to start standing on your own feet and on your own judgment. I know it's scary. And if anything goes wrong, we've no one to blame but ourselves. But I think being wrong a thousand times is worth more than living your life based on someone else's values. Millions are already doing that. They're everywhere. They're people who think one way but act another. They're kids who like fine arts but take up nursing because it's easier to earn that way. They're soldiers who die in battle without knowing why the battle was fought. It's time we started distinguishing ourselves from them.


No one profits from your being ordinary. Dare to imagine. To think BIG. Then, dare to make it come true. Let us push the limits of what is possible, but most of all, let's seek to give our lives purpose. Having fun and enjoying life does not necessarily mean pursuing the stupid, the popular, or the meaningless. Don't look for a job. Look for your calling. Don't find a hobby. Look for a passion. And if you want to study again, forget the diploma, get an education.


Through the years, philosophers have said that man was born with an innate desire to find the causes of things. Well, if you must search for meaning, then why not now and with your life?


Today, we are set adrift in an ocean of possibilities. Do you follow the stars or will you allow the ocean to make the choice for you. It's your life and the clock's ticking. Your move.


 

Edit:


Finally saw the links to the topnotchers’ TV guestings (LOL, celebrity!). Weh ano kung 4 out of 10 lang ang UP, kung ganito naman ka-bongga? Sabi nga ni G, “You can really see the difference, dude.”






Saturday, March 16, 2013

U.P. Naming Mahal

Tangina. 

Yun ang tangi kong nasambit matapos kong basahin ang balita tungkol sa isang first year student ng UP Manila na nagpakamatay dahil sa kawalan ng kakayahang magbayad ng tuition fee. Tangina talaga.

Ayaw ko na sanang makisali pa, pero tanginaaaaa. Magkahalong galit at lungkot pa rin ang nadarama ko, naluluha pa rin habang tumitipa sa keyboard. Bakit ganon? Bakit naman kung sino pa ang gustong mag-aral siya pa ang nahihirapan samantalang andaming mga lecheng anak ng mga Poncio Pilato ng lipunan ang nagpapakasasa sa drugs, sa party, sa pagliliwaliw? Hindi ba maaring pantay-pantay na lang?

May mga kumwestiyon sa kanyang desisyong kitilin ang sariling buhay -- kesyo hindi raw sapat na dahilan ang kahirapan para magpatiwakal, o kaya ay nagawa niya raw ito hindi dahil sa kahirapan kundi dahil sa estado ng kanyang pag-iisip. Tila naging moral o pilosopikal na nga ang mga nagsusulputang diskusyon ukol sa isyu.

Marahil ay hindi lang nauunawaan ng iba kung gaano kahirap ang maging mahirap. Noong undergrad, naranasan ko rin ang pumasok sa klase nang kumakalam ang sikmura, kapag naubos na ang allowance sa pamasahe para mangalap ng balita, sa blank tape at baterya ng tape recorder, sa computer rental, sa printing. Nasanay ako sa dormer's diet -- Skyflakes, Lucky Me pancit canton at kape (di ba Ate Upski?). Parang may lamay lang araw-araw. Minsan, napasumpa rin ako tulad ni Scarlett O'Hara, "I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again." Hindi naman ako puro reklamo lang at paghihintay sa buwanang padala ng mga magulang. Kahit papaano, nagtrabaho rin ako bilang student assistant para may pangtustos sa mga luho tulad ng cassette tapes, libro at film festivals. Madalas delayed ang suweldo, gobyerno kasi.

Ngunit hindi rin biro pagsabayin ang pag-aaral at pagtatrabaho. Una, kailangan ng True Copy of Grades pag nag-aapply ka sa iba't ibang opisina ng Pamantasan. E paano na lang kung dahil nga sa kahirapan e nasasakripisyo na ang pag-aaral mo? Dilemma. Pasalamat na lang ako at chill lang sa Journ.

Taong 2007. Nagdesisyon akong bumalik sa pag-aaral. Binalak kong iwan ang trabaho kasi hindi naman "chill lang" ang Law. Kaya lang, nagkaroon ng 300% tuition fee increase. Nalintikan na. Hindi ko naman kayang pahirapan ulit ang mga magulang ko. Hayun, mula sa Block C, nagpalipat ako sa Block E. Pila-pila lang sa Student Loan Board sa Vinzons Hall, kasama ng iba pang blockmates na wala pang sapat na suweldo tuwing enrollment.

Kaya siguro ako naapektuhan ng malungkot na pangyayaring ito dahil nagi-guilty ako. Angtagal ko na sa UP. Ang five-year evening program mukhang gagawin ko pang seven years. Habang tumatagal, inaagawan ko ng pagkakataon ang ibang Isko at Iska na nangangailangan ng tulong.

Kung bakit naman kasi napakamahal ng matrikula. Mapapamura ka talaga. Tangina.







Friday, March 01, 2013

Cleaning Out My Closet

I'm stuck in the office trying to clean up seven years' worth of accumulated trash documents. There is an ongoing expansion/renovation of our workplace/tambayan/community and I'd want to start on a clean slate when the repairs are done. Yay, clean slates in every freaking aspect of my life! But I digress. There are older papers, dating back to the late 90s. It's funny how they look so old. I'm talking dot matrix printers. Dot matrix!

My best friend, Martin.
I took the liberty of disposing those that are older than seven years, meaning, the documents that existed before I was hired. Incidentally, today is my seventh anniversary in this company. Akalain mo yun? Time flies when you're... busy doing something else. LOL. I don't think we have a record retention/management policy, but the generally accepted period of retention is five years, longer for tax and other business-y documents. Being the packrat/history nuts that I am, I'm finding it hard to let go of some documents that have outlived their usefulness but are still interesting, like juicy tsismis on [redacted]. I'm also spending an inordinate amount of time reading. It's the same problem I had when I worked as a library assistant in college. A full volume of Blair and Robertson's monumental work on Philippine history was up for disposal? I asked if I could have it but no, they're going through some complicated bureaucratic procurement shiz. And loads of Official Gazette dating back to the early forties! I browsed through them, alright, and got allergic rhinitis and asthma. But I also learned of hilarious laws passed during that era (e.g. an Executive Order issued by Pres. Roxas mandating earlier end of workdays during summer because it's hard to work in hot weather,* and Republic Act No. 1880.** Seriously.).

Uhm, with a dress code like this, who wouldn't feel hot?
It would be fun to come up with a compilation of silly, nonsensical and outrageous statutes and see how much our lawmakers have evolved over time.

Anyhoo. Our office is also having a digitization project to reduce the use of paper, and my computer is about to crash from all the pdf-ing. (Note to self: review the E-commerce Act and the Rules on Electronic Evidence. Nerd.)





* EO No. 49, series of 1947.
**"Section 2. Section five hundred sixty-four of the Revised Administrative Code is hereby amended so as to read as follows:
'Sec. 564. During the hot season. On all days during the hot season, from April first to June fifteenth, inclusive, the period of labor is reduced to five continuous hours: Provided, That in the case of the City of Baguio, the short hours will be observed from July first to September fifteenth, inclusive, but an executive order so disposing shall not oblige the head of any department, bureau, or office to so reduce the hours of labor in his branch of work but shall leave the same in his discretion subject to the requirements of the service.'"

Don't Look Back In Anger


Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find
A better place to play
You said that you'd never been
But all the things that you've seen
Will slowly fade away



*******

Stop looking back. You know what happened to those who look back -- Lot's wife, Orpheus. I don't understand why you keep on glancing backward. Perhaps because it was a spectacle, a destruction of our persons like Sodom? What's done is done. No amount of analyzing will undo the damage. It is what it is. Live with it.