Societal Issue

Killing the Messenger: As censorship increases worldwide, journalists are being attacked, kidnapped and even killed for exposing the truth.

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2014/07/killing-messenger-201478101852958418.html

Murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths for journalists as censorship increases worldwide. Journalists have been killed, attacked, kidnapped, or forced into exile because of their coverage of war, crime and corruption.

In 2006, UN resolution 1738, which demanded greater safety for journalists in conflict areas, was passed. Since then, over 600 news media workers have been killed, while more have been imprisoned or disappeared while on the job. Countless others have been intimidated into self-censorship or have gone into exile.

Journalists reporting from Mexico, Russia and the conflict zones of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria tell their personal stories of kidnapping, intimidation, and beatings. They have experienced the loss of colleagues in the field and have been close to death themselves.

Killing the Messenger  features exclusive, first-hand accounts of journalists who have faced dire consequences in their pursuit of the news.

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How the Music of Genuine Education Sounds Like

February 16, 2015

 

I can hear the revolution happening.

Five steps away from the gate of a school located in Camp 8 Baguio City- today I realized one thing: Education is, indeed, more than just a system for learning. There came a myriad thought with every stride I had taken. I had just been brought in a moment when simple actions were put into significance, where a clearer view of the education’s meaning was developed. Literacy Training Service as part of the National Training Service Program in UP Baguio is a course which I shall pass but it’s leading me further. I observed.

School is a cradle for diversity. It is a place wherein people of different appearances, ages, races, attitudes, interests, beliefs, and customs are merged for a purpose. Think of the students who are raised from different places, through different traditions, of different families- while they are called as “classmates” inside the four corners of a room. Think of the teachers who are extending their horizons in spite of their personal contexts. Think of the institution itself as a foundation of the conventional knowledge gained in a variety of ways.

It was a bright Monday morning. The vehicles were roaming around the city. The vendors surrounding the school began to arrange their goods. The younger ones were accompanied by their guardians while the older ones were guarded by the man whose long-sleeves shirt had been printed with the capital letters of “security”. The bell rang before the utterly confused crowd had fallen in line. The volume of the noise softened as the teachers stared. Everyone got ready for the flag ceremony. Whenever there would be loudening of unnecessary sounds such as chattering of voices, the Principal had to interrupt the ongoing ceremony, as the noise was restrained, to keep its decency.

The day had just started yet it seemed that things must be in control. Discipline, obedience, responsibility, patience, and industry might be the proper terms to describe what it takes to go to school and push through studying. Sports, academics, and practical applications to real life situations are being taught here. Is this education? Considering the techniques used by the teachers to implement their lessons and assessments of what was learned; would these things matter as a complete representation of education’s definition? I wondered.

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” (Hutchins, 1899-1977) According to this educational philosopher, education’s main goal is to let the youth learn the things that could guide them within a lifetime. Thus, education includes not just the subjects namely English, Math, Science, Civics, Music, and more; but it also consists of the knowledge which can be directly used in dealing with the conditions of life in reality. For those elementary students I had encountered around the campus, I knew that their class schedule had been composed of rigorous discourses. For them, those were the longest hours of their day occurring at least five times a week. As time would pass by, I do believe, these young people could carry on heavier tasks as part of the learning process.

As a theologian would say, “the great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers rather than to fill it with the accumulation of others.” (Edwards, 1809-1894) This is another quote suggesting that education is not a process wherein a person can be supplied with wisdom which is merely coming from one or two mentor(s)/instructor(s). It is a way of living as it is part of a person’s life. It is not only through school that a person learns. It is not only through the formal standards of “knowing” that a person gets educated. Therefore, education is never a confinement.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, as one of a myriad point of reference to consider, is a ground-breaking form of discussion about how the mainstream definition of education can create dogmatism in the social order. For this, social awareness is a must. “Education as the practice of freedom – as opposed to education as the practice of domination – denies that man is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to the world; it also denies that the world exists as a reality apart from men.” (Freire, 1968) The relevance of this quote to my recent experiences of teaching and being taught is the fact that education must focus on providing the people the opportunities to cultivate their own capabilities. In order for them to survive in this society, students who are willing to learn shall be free from the eyes of prejudice and injustice.

I am quite impressed with the dimension that I am able to see this time. It is noticeably wider and deeper in perspective. Having experienced both worlds of being a teacher of graduating students in elementary and being a student of a premiere university have granted me the eyes of integrity: Education is worth struggling for. As long as there are teachers who are virtuous to their jobs and as long as there are students who are enthusiastic to their studies, education cannot easily falter. While there is a generation who yearns for the sweetness of defeat and the spice of fulfillment (how it tastes like to aim for knowledge and beat one’s old unproductive self), education will remain accessible- be it inside or outside a formal institution.

Meanwhile, I still couldn’t forget the smiles of those children. They stayed as the human that they were yet I could feel that a part of them had been changing. A piece of their character stepped up to the next level. They might not perceive the whole transformation but it just wouldn’t keep them hanging forever.

Education can never be concealed. Numerical values may indicate how much progress the students have made. Perhaps the true measurement of improvement is not identified merely through quizzes, chapter tests, and periodical exams. Being educated is more than being able to submit the requirements on time, perform the assigned activities, and have a perfect attendance. It is not just the school that an educated human being shall go to because education imposes no boundaries. Real education does not limit a person’s capacity. It is always self-transcending.

Revolution, in its basic sense, is: a fundamental change, a movement, an extreme start– as phrases cited from Merriam-Webster Dictionary. How does this term relate to education?

Simple.

Education changes the lives of the people. It serves as a catalyst to innovate our society. It can be regarded as form of revolution because just like the heroes of our country who started a revolution to protect our nation, education saves our people. It saves us from ignorance and irrationality. Similar to those warriors who are not daunted to take risks in the battleground, education continues to struggle not just for the survival of the human intellect but for the rest of the aspects possibly existing in the universe as well.

I can hear the revolution happening. Can you hear it, too?

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Defiance: Death of Humanity

They have rampaged across cities and villages. Killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence… No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day– a statement from United States President Barack Obama, articulating his conviction about a hostile extremist group specified as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (which is lead by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi these days).

Aversion, threats, bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, invasion, and other forms of violence are immediate depictions upon a terrorist organization that is ISIS. Through its combative ingenuity and unfathomable brutality, the fact that it has been a former faction of the menacing Al Qaeda leaves us no doubt. Although both groups uphold Sunni Islam, they now emerge as rivals rather than allies. They severed a connection due to differentiation in particular aspects of their beliefs and principles. We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State [ISIS] to back off and leave our people alone, says the militant in black.

Evidently, the purpose of the Islamic State and Syria in establishing its association is the attainment of an Islamic Caliphate or state across the region where Sharia Law or code, encompassing religious and non-religious aspects of life, tries to rule as the foundation of the governance that is being built. To be able to meet what is expected of this government to be launched, ISIS is keen to comply whatever it takes. It needs supreme power and in order for it to gain control, strength must be shown to people. It must execute an expression that will invariably intimidate a whole community to follow. Otherwise, harm is going to be inflicted.

As for our mistakes, we do not deny them. Rather, we will continue to make mistakes as long as we are humans. God forbid that we commit mistakes deliberately, admitted by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, one of the group’s ideologues. This is what an Islamic state is trying to consider as an excuse to implement even the torturing acts towards disobedience. It is observed here that what former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is blaming as bad systems of politics mixed with abuse of religion coincides as the root of the humiliating problems in the Middle East.

ISIS has taken advantage of the forces held by the conscientious institutions who lack the drive to put up a good fight against it; thus, paving its way to a more empowered sense of terrorism. It formulates strategic plans to advance skills and ultimately level up in a variety of ways, such as: targeting those localities that are more willing to abide its regulations, providing accessibility with dissatisfied Sunni tribes and others who have suffered marginalization and deprivation by the administration, recruiting foreign fighters who even travel far across the world to join the cluster, risking the safety of opponents basically to bolster its regional intentions, launching attacks on the West whenever feasible, seeking ruthless control over the minorities and fellowmen that may lead to forced take off or even murder, stipulating for ransom of its captives, ignoring international borders, expanding set of connections as its ideology polishes, evading to alienate influential tribal leaders, and trying to win favor through organizing welfare programs and activities.

Recently, the news is widespread about the assassination of James Foley and Steven Sotloff- when in fact this is just a chunk from a huge number of instances wherein ISIS has viciously detracted the lives of people who could have stayed for a longer period of time and be significant members of the society as catalysts of change and contributors of productivity. These American journalists are not mainly the ones who are supposedly to be served as sacrificial lamb, as such catastrophic event to human race roars so loud as if raving the dominance of barbarism that boosts the ego of a completely deranged autonomous system. Nobody can be justifiably pulled out to offer his/her own life based from the fallacious demands of misinterpretation, lack of communication, biased decision, unlawful implication, extortion, and rebellion. Nobody has that obligation to accept a fate of being decapitated for the sake of satisfying a nihilistic viewpoint’s thirst for revenge. Putting one’s self in service of other people doesn’t have to automatically mean dying because this kind of nobility requires bravery and courage- and our nation apparently needs them here to stay.

Myriad cases of inhumane treatment internationally reported or not, have been quite alarming to global relations especially to countries that are immensely caught up in discord. It is not only journalists or public and private officials or the native people who are considered to be active along the danger zone of coercion, but each one of us. Everyone is prone to get victimized by the irrational superiority. There’s no safe place to hide, nowadays.

Beyond those words that are deemed to fit into the description of how ISIS placed itself into a context that is not credited to be favorable, is the mind of a youth whose perspective will never falter when it comes to attending to issues which open the door of vulnerability to her fellowmen while unwrapping her side of consciousness. I, as an individual who is aware of these phenomena, take my stand to diverge from the doctrine of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Perhaps I considerably acknowledge its reinforcement of laws regarding a stronghold for faith in religion, the process of flawlessly carrying out its directives, and commitment to scheme; but I cannot attest to fully tolerate injustices in the process of putting up with the plan.

I believe to the extent of my ability as a citizen of this country to prevent the cultivation of aberration from the morality of the standards that are set upon our society. Words are potential source of vitality but actions are what transform our ideals into possibilities. Being on my position right now, I advice those dealers on the black market to stop patronizing the oil of ISIS for it funds the group enough to have some money spent on its operations. I also suggest that countries shall enhance their need for vigilance especially in America (and of course even here in the Philippines) to at least lessen the casualties from attacks. If we are really into slamming the dogma of ISIS, then we must condemn it from stepping into our territorial claims unless proven to deserve meritorious consideration.

Voice of the public explodes stronger than bombs of our enemies. Speak the truth even if it means a higher rate of having your head cut off. Chances are: you die dignified or you live regretful for the rest of your life. Uncertainty of what might happen in the future is presented and we all know that assault is very disturbing and is difficult to prevent. We might not have enough cannons and grenades and jet planes but let us prepare ourselves from the forthcoming attacks of terrorism. Our unity is our defense. It sounds hilarious but it is the choice that we have today. It is a decision that waits to be settled on.

Ambitious, future-oriented, and serious about the expansion of the Islamist ideology- this is ISIS. Steadfast, tough, and devoted- is who we are. The bottom line is that you might try to adhere to the recruitment process of the other camp… if that wouldn’t make you feel remorseful for betraying millions of lives that depend on the holistic essence of what it means to be united as one, against all odds and even amid a terrifying period of adversity.

For the end part of this article, I would want to emphasize that ourselves is all that we need in times of puzzling events like this. It doesn’t matter how big or small you might actually see it. One thing I would want to assure is that we don’t want to have to witness more lives leaving this world for nothing. Death is not something that can be defied, but the purpose of the life one has offered is enough to let us continue the battle that will persevere to protect ourselves and our fellowmen.

Dare to try defiance for the sake of the forbidding death of humanity.

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Conspiracy Against the Spaniards (REACTION TO AN EXCERPT)

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13701/13701-h/13701-h.htm

CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE SPANIARDS

Testimony in certain investigations made by Doctor Santiago de Vera, president of the Philippines

 

            This article takes into an account of statements regarding such researches conducted by Doctor Santiago de Vera. Mandated by Thomas Perez, the testament is penned in Manila on May 20, 1589 and is eventually authenticated in the said city on July 13 of the same year. The document is then signed by the notaries verifying that Esteban de Marquina and his qualifications are reliable enough to report occurrences implying some issues.

“Conspiracy” according to an online reference dictionary is ‘a plot; an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons’. Also, it ‘usually involves a group entering into a secret agreement to achieve some illicit or harmful objective, especially with political motivation’ and is simply defined as “the act of making such plans in secret”.

If asked about the argument of this historical piece, one might definitely agree upon the written facts and evidences of the happenings in the past. Along with this reaction paper are proofs of cogent events based on the testimony written by the people who existed in the past and continually exist in the present due to the mark they had left in the Philippine society.

“In fulfilment of the command and decree of Doctor Santiago de Vera, governor and captain-general of these islands, and president of the royal Audiencia, I, Estevan de Marquina, notary-public for the king our sovereign, of the number [authorized] in the city of Manila, testify that a trial and criminal process has been conducted and is still pending before the said governor and captain-general.” – The first statement which introduces the claims that Estevan de Marquina is going to recount. It is on October 26, 1588 that Doctor Santiago de Vera found out that Don Agustin de Legaspi, Martin Panga, Magat Salamat, and other chiefs had stopped committing to the king of Burney who used to be presented with weapons and other articles. Often, these people had been gathering privately and had been selling land properties which added to speculations of betrayal. Witnesses came out during investigation. Don Agustin de Legaspi and Magat Salamat were discovered sending weapons to Xapon and to Burney’s petty king. They wanted these camps to be prepared because of the Spaniards’ plan of going there. They appear to be spies, notifying and warning people of the other side.

On November 4, Captain Pedro Sarmiento informed the colonizers about the three Indian chiefs Magat Salamat, Don Agustin Manuguit, and Don Joan Banal. His servant and encomienda chief, Don Antonio Surabao that the said Indian chiefs served as petty king of Burney’s ambassadors forming an alliance against the Spaniards when they attack. Amarlangagui had told this servant that all the chiefs of the colony “had plotted and conspired with the Borneans to rebel against the service of the king our sovereign, and to kill the Spaniards of this city, while they were off their guard. The plan was that when the fleet of Burney reached the port of Cavite, and the Spaniards trustfully called these chiefs to their aid, they would all immediately enter the houses of the Spaniards with their men, fortify themselves in them and thus take possession of them one by one. If the Spaniards took refuge in the fortress, Indian soldiers would follow them; and, being two to one, they would surely kill the Spaniards.” Don Antonio Surabao’s reason for knowing these plans is that “under the pledge of friendship and secrecy, he was made acquainted with all this, and was persuaded to join the said conspiracy”. After he confessed, it was immediately ordered that the chiefs involved be arrested.

Last year (1857), Captain Don Joan Gayo and Japanese merchandisers arrived from Xapon to Manila. Don Agustin de Legaspi showed camaraderie towards him and it was agreed with the Japanese interpreter Dionisio Fernandez, with Magat Salamat, Don Agustin Manuguit, Don Phelipe Salalila, and Don Geronimo Bassi, that the Captain should come “under pretext of peace and commerce” so the Spaniards would think of their peaceful intentions.

“It was also agreed that the chiefs of the neighborhood would help them to kill the Spaniards, and would supply the provisions and everything necessary. The said Don Agustin de Legaspi was to set out to meet them; and, in order that they might recognize one another, he would carry some of the weapons which the said captain had given him. After they had conquered the Spaniards, they would make him [Don Agustin] king of the land, and collect the tribute from the natives, which would be divided between Don Agustin and the Japanese. They swore this after their fashion, by anointing their necks with a broken egg.” – This just indicates that these people during the Spanish colonization were really arranging some plans that might help them escape from the tyranny of the people whom they wouldn’t allow into their governance. Don Agustin organized this plan with Amaghicon and kept it as secret. For them to recognize one another, Amaghicon must give Don Agustin de Legaspi weapons that the Japanese gave him.

Based on Dionisio Fernandez, Don Phelipe Salalila, Don Geronimo Bassi, Magat Salamat, and other witnesses attending the meet-ups, it appears that Don Martin Panga, Don Agustin de Legaspi, Don Gabriel Tuambaҫan, Don Francisco Acta, his son, and Pitongatan should help each other “with their person and property in all matters- be it concerning the liberty of their slaves, or in any other difficulty.”

Leaders would always come together privately in order to discuss some matters regarding their plans against the Spaniards. They must execute strategies gracefully so as not to widen the gap of curiosity that the colonizers had already been eyeing for them. “During this time they resolved to act in harmony and with one mind in everything. If their slaves demanded liberty, they were to help one another against them; for already they were not regarded or obeyed as before. They possessed neither slaves nor gold, and found themselves poor and cast down, ready to go to prison any day. Their sorrow was very keen because their wives were being taken away from them, and given to others to whom, they claimed, they had been first married. For all these reasons they were very sad, and they discussed and plotted, and took oath, according to their custom, that if an enemy came to Manila to attack the Spaniards, they would unanimously and with one mind aid the enemy against the Spaniards. Thus they would once more become masters, as they had been before, and exercise the old tyranny over the common people—who now were much favored by the Spaniards, being promoted to superior places by them. The said Don Agustin de Legaspi proposed to them the plan and compact which he had made with the said Japanese Don Joan Payo [Gayo]; and the other chiefs declared that they were ready to help him and to accede to his wishes.”

The ship “Santana” seemed to sail across the islands on February 1589. So the chiefs prepared. Another meeting was set to discuss the plans held at the former one. They made it a point that leaders would form connections and arrange their activities in strategizing. A move could bring them afar. They tried not to be quite obvious but as time passed by, suspicions got wider; and worse, they were caught.

These leaders of conspiracy were investigated and examined. They confessed separately. Charges filed to the crime they commit depend upon the intensity of their violations, such as: payment in taes, years of prescribed/ unconditioned exile, property confiscation, and death penalty. Lea Alonso was the only person who was acquitted on the trial while the sentence in the case of Amaghicon is yet to be passed. The following persons received punishment/s: Don Agustin de Legaspi, Don Martin Panga, Dionisio Fernandez, Don Pedro Balinguit, Pitongatan, Don Phelipe Salonga, Don Phelipe Amarlangagui, Daulat, Don Joan Bassi, Dionisio Capolo, Don Francisco Acta, Don Luis Amanicalao, Don Gabriel Tuambaҫan, Calao, Omaghicon, Don Geronimo Bassi, Don Phelipe Salalila, Don Esteban Taes, Magat Salamat, Don Agustin Manuguit, Don Luis Balaya, Amarlangagui, and Don Joan Banal.

Beyond these texts are the struggles of our fellowmen as they continuously fight for their principles. It might have taken off their lives battling for power, for freedom; but what keeps the fire burning is the love for our country that will undoubtedly conquer the colonizers and defeat the opponents who take advantage of the wealth of the nation- its people.

SOURCE:

Blair, Emma Helen and James Alexander Robertsons, eds. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898. Mandaluyong, Rizal: Cacho Hermanos, 1973.

DS 653 B63 1973 v. 7-9: pp. 95- 111 Volume VII 1588-1591

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conspiracy

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Equilibrium

Here I go again. Tonight, I am willing to share to you an article that I have written a couple of months ago. It is composed of facts and opinion stated by me. It is about citing some insights that I think could have been remarkable within the noted movie. Honestly, this work of mine had received a not-so-high score due to some grammatical errors and some statements ambiguities; but I’ve decided to post it anyway because I believe I have learned. It’s the thought that counts! I offer to you my sincere apology on anything that you might find misleading. How I wish I could have written it better but I chose to preserve its original form to look back and see how I used to understand things. Here’s to a young woman and the others who aspire to be motivators of improvement.

Have a happy weekend.

 ‘Equilibrium’ : Film Insights

equilibrium-99_resize

Photo Courtesy : http://www.tboake.com/443-equilibrium-f2009.html

What does it take for the world to attain the balance that they need so nothing could ever go wrong? Do they really have to sacrifice the purity of mankind for the sake of one’s personal intentions? Why do others have to be blinded by rude societal disposition? Not an answer could register in my mind as I witnessed the first few parts of the movie we’ve watched- ‘Equilibrium’; but as the story started to roll down the consequences of the events, I then realized that even the things we’ve thought would be the smallest… might sometimes be the biggest contributor of change not just to one person but to the dependent generation.

As I recall, the movie started through an action series which exemplifies skills in attack and defense. Opposing troops of armed men exchanged their bullets and it was obvious that the other team is losing due to the strength and tactics of its opponent. It took me some minutes to absorb what has really been happening. Into my surprise that the reason behind the killing is the victims’ disobedience to the highly-implemented rule which prohibits everyone to feel emotions! Freedom was nowhere to be found. It was being murdered by a capsule- being taken like a dietary supplement on regular basis. There’s no way for an escape especially to those who think they were weak and powerless; while death was the doomed cliché to those who have tried to fight against the misleading laws of unjustified governance. The idea of the institution officers who have probably agreed on this condition, might as well in my opinion, seemed to be stupefied by their selfish ambitions. How on earth could anyone be legally permitted to exploit the rights of the people to deal with emotions and express their feelings? This is unimaginable in reality.

This is why I found it hard to finally get over unto the movie’s extent since it was my first time to see it and to be exposed into that kind of irrationality (though I’ve watched movies before that were a bit similar to this). On my perspective, the film-makers made it through such an ‘eye-opening’ point of view. Coming up with this quality of story amazed me for it doesn’t just showcase something that is unique. It is a collection of genuine facts summoned together to be able to establish a film that leaves a mark to its viewers. Considering the situational cases that we have today in our society, the message that the film has been trying to imply is useful for it could increase the viewers’ awareness about mindlessly degradation of human dignity (in any way that it is being actualized) and how it should be countered. Based on its impact to me, I might say that ‘Equilibrium’ has this inspiring feature which could uplift spirits of either young minds or mature ones to continue fighting in spite of the risks that wait. For me it’s like standing for my principle or not standing at all. ‘Not standing at all’ because the choice is within ourselves. The best is about to be attained not because righteous people choose to be with who is strong at the moment but they choose to be with who ought to be strong, instead- and those who ought to be strong are those who never quit to follow the right path.

Citing one of the evidences, I am still reminiscent of that Maguindanao Massacre. The issue beneath this clutter of words keeps haunting me though I am not personally involved… and this clipping in the newspaper caught my attention: Janvic Mateo. (2013) Arraignment of Maguindanao massacre suspects set on Wednesday: Manila, The Philippine Star News. Good news! Justice may finally arrive after the reported death of the people. “Dubbed by the Committee to Protect Journalists as the single deadliest event for journalists in world history, the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre claimed the lives of 58 people- including at least 32 media practitioners- who were part of a convoy led by the wife of then- Buluan vice-mayor and now Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu… A total of 197 suspects were initially implicated in the massacre, including members of the Ampatuan clan…” I can relate this article to the movie I’ve been reflecting on because both have stories of inhumanity wherein multiple cases of murder were noted. Putting back the pieces in reality, it’s gratifying that until these days, there are people who are still working to solve the alarming problems our country (or even the world) is facing through. Faith keeps the positivity from within. It guides us to endure the pain that we’re feeling so nothing would be impossible because better outcomes could have been waiting.

Just as how the call for humanity among victims of injustice has been fought for until the end (of the movie), the same process might happen with this issue of Maguindanao massacre only if there’s one or some among us who would take the risk of starting the change we wanted to see and continue the fight through our nation’s unity. It’s not all about a matter of counting the times one has fallen but on the ways one has gotten up.

I had once heard of a quote around UP, and it says: “Rise over run. If you must die, you die fighting!” So do I, so do you. We can all make a difference and attain the state of equilibrium without compromising the value of humanity so we’d live outright what defines dignity.

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V. Moreno’s Order for Masks

Hi everyone, I would just like to share to you what I’ve written for this day. It was about a poetry interpretation and a bit of reflecting on how I can apply the lessons in my life. I hope that you can relate with  what I’ve done perhaps I’m not sure if you find my writing style relish-able. However, I believe that the poem I’m going to discuss is universal; and as time passes by, I am also looking forward into becoming a better writer who knows how to express herself clearly and not just to impress anybody. Have a great day!

ORDER FOR MASKS

Virginia Moreno

 Image

Photo © Copyright 2010 Boo La La Costumes

            Philippine poetry’s high priestess, Virginia Moreno, is a versatile personality in the industry of arts. She is a well-known poet who has published books locally and internationally, containing her literary works. She deserves a great recognition for her noble masterpieces. She has this style in writing that absolutely accentuates her advocacies as a feminist. Also, her active involvement in resolving social, political and cultural issues give rise to more passionate and ingenious attacks. Her readers would be kept stunned by her creations at first glance yet they would have found a way to relate contextual imageries in order to understand the messages behind each line that is presented to strike or even influence them.

Order for Masks is a sophisticated poem indulged with a variety of peculiarities and symbolisms. It is written in free verse which has made it a bit laid-back physically, but is supplemented with overflowing ideas once it is understood fully.

To this harlequinade, I wear black tight and fool’s cap. Harlequinade is a part of a theatrical show wherein there is a portion when the comical harlequin and the clown perform pantomime or buffoonery to entertain the viewers. A harlequin’s character wears mask and is always mute. In the poem, the speaker associates herself being in this type of disposition. Instead of wearing a tight that is colorful or designed with diamonds, she described her suit as black in color. She wears a cap that is for the fool. It seems like she does not feel very happy to be this kind of character because she puts up indicators that are cheerless. She only lives to bring solace to other people but can’t do it for her own good. Billiken*, make me three bright masks, For the three tasks in my life. A billiken is a doll or a mascot that looks like an elephant. To some countries, it is believed that this ‘billiken’ brings luck to people by putting one’s worries away. It is being looked at as a charming mystique and it might be the reason why the speaker asks three bright masks from Billiken. Three faces to wear, One after the other, For the three men in my life. The speaker points out her need for masks. She has to wear each mask whenever she reaches out each of the three different persons in her life. So, the first stanza of the poem is intended to disclose the purpose of why the speaker has to ask for masks. It is not totally detailed perhaps it gives a hint of the situations that may follow.

When my Brother comes, make me one opposite, If he is a devil, a saint, With a staff to his fork, And for his horns, a crown. In the second stanza, it is being construed that the speaker has a brother and she is a sister. There is a growing comparison between these two people. It is the intention of the speaker to actually be the contrary of what her brother used to be. She has to be diverged from his personality. I hope for my contrast, To make nil, Our old resemblance to each other, and my twin will walk me out. Here goes the ratification of gender roles in the society. Being a sister means that she has to be different from him in order for her brother to feel masculine. By doing so, she makes nil. It means zero or does not exist. Just like the usual times of playing this kind of character, she will be left by her brother as she fulfilled her role. Without a frown, Pretending I am another. Still, the speaker stays to be as approving as she can be. Her identity is concealed but she doesn’t allow herself to be sad about it. She wears mask to hide what’s inside anyway.

When my Father comes, Make me one so like, His child once eating his white bread in trance, Philomela* before she was raped. I hope by likeness, To make him believe this is the same kind. By the third stanza the speaker portrays another persona. This time, there is a presence of a father and she is the daughter. There is an illustration of a young innocent girl who is sweet and obedient. Trance has something to do within controlling one’s consciousness that a person won’t be completely sensible. It is a state of mind wherein a technique is used to get enthralled by illusions. She relates herself with Philomela the Princess of Athens, who according to Greek mythology is a character who has been raped by the husband of her sister. After the incident, the oppression hasn’t stopped yet. The speaker then is trying to describe that kind of person she wants to show to her father- Philomela before the abuse which portrays a character that is pure, upright, graceful, and well-mannered. She is trying to be impressive by being the daughter she thinks her father would like to have. The chaste face he made, And my blind Lear* will walk me out, Without a word, Fearing to peer behind. Chaste means virginity. She needs to confirm that things stay the same back when she is still young and her father will adore her. The speaker denotes the blindness of her father because it seems to her that he does not appreciate anything that she does for him. Lear is the name of a king from William Shakespeare’s tragedy where the tone of its play is miserable and dark. King Lear as a father is a descendant of foolishness whose actions have brought consequences to his subordinate just by granting things that is in favor of his daughters- she’s trying to convince herself that she has this kind of father whose bias is her. Next is when it’s time that such scene with her father is done. Although the situation isn’t easy for her, she does not complain. She doesn’t want to lose his father. She does not want to let things happen when her father just treats him equally like any other person who does not exert as much effort to get noticed by him.

If my lover comes, Yes, when Seducer comes, Make for me the face, That will in color race, The carnival stars, And change in shape, Under his grasping hands. Make it bloody, When he needs it white, Make it wicked in the dark, Let him find no old mark, Make it stone to his suave touch. On the last stanza, the speaker is a woman who is in a relationship. Once she got into this type of situation, she gets herself committed in it. She asks for a mask that will satisfy his partner so they will have a warm relationship and truly love one another. She has to fill the gaps of his needs and wants to maintain harmony. She has to prove that she is the woman that her lover will surely love her to be. She has to prove that nobody else can make him happy as much as she can to his partner. This magician will walk me out, Newly loved. Not knowing why my tantalizing face, Is strangely like the mangled parts of a face, He once wiped out. Then the scenario of the speaker and her lover ends. She calls her a magician because she sees amusement with the kind of love that she has for her partner. This type of relationship comes as magic which makes her allured and fascinated. For her, it feels like a renewal of the love they had. She is willing to forgive her partner even if he had sinned. Most of the time, he can always find his way back to her due to an unconditional love that this woman can offer. She can endure whatever pain it is that caused her, for the sake of commitment with her family.

Make me three masks. In this poem, the speaker has performed three roles being a sister, a daughter, and a wife. It is evidently written by a feminist whose purpose is to rouse the cognizance about women. It raises both the negative and positive contextualization that is being implied to the female population of our society.

Looking at the negative connotation that is demonstrated about the woman speaking in the poem, humiliation among women is probably one of the messages that the poem aims to send to its readers. The woman always has to adapt to what each condition requires. She has to extensively fulfill the different roles that are expected from her, by the male population. She serves as an object to please the men and grant them their necessities and desires. She is sometimes an epitome of sacrifice so that sustainability between both genders is acquired. On a different perspective, there is a light that gives positivity to what the poem entails. Women have boundless skills to make themselves in service not just of men but by the entire population. They are able to gain the admiration, especially of the men in their lives, because of their flexibility and ambidexterity. They are absolutely intense when it comes to caring, supporting, and loving.

Moreno’s poetry applies to real life situations of not just the female or the male, but the lives of all people. It offers a wide array of exploration through different points of view and opens new doors for equality and unity.

The message of the poem approaches me in a realistic manner. It is true that women might be regarded as instruments back from the ancient times until this day; but it can never remain as it is. Modernism mixes through the air that the present generation inhales and it is no doubt that as our way of living accelerates, our way of thinking progresses. Nowadays, it is not just the male groups who can lead political institutions. It’s not just the male groups who can drive buses, work in construction sites, share ideas about religious views, prepare strategically on operations, and a lot more jobs and treatments that women can also do. The power lies equally in our hands. We just have to discover the fields we belong to.

As for a student like me, I truly value education relative to this issue. I believe that education is a stepping stone to advance the level of understanding among people that can lead to the attainment of global peace. Every day, students are not just taught with academics but are trained with moral ground. We meet different faces that we have to deal with, in different places and different times. We have to adapt to the environment in order to survive. We have to be open-minded in case of unfamiliarity. We have to be tough and maintain what they call ‘grace under pressure’ perhaps hypocrisy is not an option. Through these, we are honed to be better versions of ourselves starting today. Embrace sudden changes in a good way.

We live in a world where flexibility is inevitable that it’s soon enough to consider that ordering for masks has been developed as a natural process for us.

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Termites on the Wood

I’m getting busier these past few days but I truly cherish each moment. Today, I attended the lectures conducted by a professor who’s flying to London anytime soon. I also finished watching a movie about Life of Buddha: Prince Siddhartha. Life is wonderful only if we learn how to appreciate. It’s not easy but God has never left me.

Termites on the Wood

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Photo from the website of ‘Orkin’

There’s no ladder to climb when the top rung is reserved for people with a certain name”, says an excerpt from an article “Is Nepotism So Bad?” that has been published years ago by Forbes magazine.

Basically, a family is a cordial unit consisting of individuals who are closely related to each other. Its members have a commonality in terms of ancestry or shared genealogy. Conceptualizing this idea of having a family among the human inhabitants, gives rise to issues regarding the political, social, spiritual, cultural, and historical aspects of life. Each family has its values, beliefs, and traditions that are being followed throughout the generations which can immensely affect other people and the environment where it belongs.

Family comes as the first priority especially to Filipinos. It upholds various cultural practices and local customs that are being kept alive through the years. Blood is thicker than water, they usually say. It signifies faithfulness to loved ones and stays as if it’s a promise to hold on until forever- that a family member will always be more important than anyone else. The bond remains whatever happens. There’s a term called utang na loob which implies that every favor that a person does for another will be remembered every time- so it seems like the person who has been helped is in compromise with the person whom he/she owes something.

Martin Ljunge established a research saying, “I find that family ties are strongly associated with attitudes that are important for building societies with higher mutual respect and fiscal capacity, attitudes I label ‘civic virtues’. (Those with close family ties were) substantially more disapproving of tax and benefit cheating, corruption, and a range of other activities which involve a personal benefit at the expense of other individuals.”

Relationship among the descendants is a factor to consider in analyzing the impact that affiliation can bring to society. At first, most of the effects that will appear on a person’s mind are the advantages of close family ties; but if this context will be conceived in a deeper sense, that person might think twice. To what extent can ‘close family ties’ be detrimental to mankind?

Nepotism exists in an institution when a man of authority grants a favor to his relative who does not even pass the qualifications being required in that position. It is an act of being unfair to others, who no matter how passionate they are to work hard for their jobs, will be replaced just because they are not related to someone who acts as superior- a man who expects something that their investments can give back. Transferring the rights to control people of lower rank is definitely a wrong step to take for it is a form of discrimination that will displace productivity in the system.

Higher authorities are often blinded by power that they forget to sustain the veracity of their actions. They become irrational the moment they reach the top- and to unravel some evidences, three major factors (based on an article written about Corruption in India) of this causality will be enumerated. First, the person receiving the favor is expected to commit himself/herself to the organization of his/her superior. Second, the vulnerability of both the superior and its follower to illegitimate and crooked means of obtaining wealth increases. They are being tempted by luxurious things that will elevate their status. Third is the cultural setup wherein there is a demand for an innovation to take place. Thus, the household provider will be pressured to earn more money in a least time consuming manner. This greed will serve as a weakness while bribery approaches.

It is also necessary to reflect on the outcome of unscrupulousness brought by corruption. Think of the qualities of the person who can possibly represent the character of the non-related commoners and imagine what might happen once he realizes that he is being cheated on. No matter how loyal he is, the efforts will be dysfunctional due to unethical treatment. Low salaries tend to build up insufficiency and negative attitude. Instead of developing a high rate of production, opportunities will soon be put into waste because of morality degradation. Hope for progression diminishes.

American political scientist Joseph Nye said, “Corruption is behavior which deviates from the formal duties of a public role because of private-regarding (personal, close family, private clique) pecuniary or status gains; or violates rules against the exercise of certain private-regarding influence.” This explains how corruption may take place in a subtle manner, through the gaps of loose mind that needs to be tightened up.

Corruption and termites seem to show no indifference at all. They both feed up on the trunks of what used to be the host of these hunger games, where the favor is always with the higher authorities yet the common people are to be sacrificed. Woods may symbolize the unity of every Filipino family but the greedy ambitions gradually consume our land, our nation- slowly dying, depleting, and decaying.

Shall we stand as one or just let it fall apart? Vague question perhaps it does make sense.

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