Dec 4, 2008

My Little Piece of the Universe

During my stay in Pisay, there had been times that I admittedly felt severely depressed with my performance and situation there to the point of sometimes blanking out in front of other people. At those times, I took a brief moment of respite in an rarely-traversed spot that I called my "sanctuary" from the worries of the world. It didn't take much to get there - it was the dirt and gravel path connecting the main driveway and the oval track - and it certainly wasn't much. The place itself was merely a concrete slab under a leafy canopy of a large, gnarled mango (?) tree right beside the oval track fronting Agham Road. The spot certainly didn't have the furnishings of a five-star hotel, but to me at that volatile time in my life, that place was as good as any place for me to be at any time. Sitting on that block-cum-bench, I could hear the whispers of the breeze as it made the leaves rustle. It was a breeze that seemed to come form everywhere amd at the same time nowhere, drawing the despair in my mind out and scattering it to the four corners of the world. The crisp chirps of crickets and birds alike echoed around that little square, hinting of the coming dusk. The light of the sun diffused through the leaves of that grand canopy, transforming from a searing, blinding light into a comforting, majestic glow that seemed to emanate from the canopy itself. As the stream of illumination trickled through the treetop, ethereal shadows danced on the ground like an entourage of dancers performing a gala presentation for a weary man. There, time stood still in a way that only lovers can describe with succinct detail. There, hope sprung anew like seeds sprouting after a storm. There, I could think about what my existence meant - for myself and for all humanity.

And then a car passes, the rumble of its engine breaking the tranquility. And the moment passes, with yet another memory ingrained in my memory. And time once again passes, like it has for all of eternity. And that tree - that place - and I - will come to pass too, as all are fated to. But the hope which that space etched onto my soul will never pass - no, will never fade, nor weaken - so as long as the memory and essence of that little piece of my universe remains.

Dec 3, 2008

Re/mind


While it's been a while since I updated this thing, it's not surprising (relatively speaking) to see that many more things than expected have changed. I mean, hey, it's been half a year but it seems to me like at least several years have already passed. Just look at that image to the right. Hey, you may not see my face or the thing I'm signing, but that's my first payslip from an NGO - the Philippine National Police Foundation. After working for some time with a BPO company (which shall go unnamed, mainly because I don't exactly approve of its practices and policies), I decided to follow my heart and move into the non-government field. Fortunately, my old friend Jerome Montemayor (now Sir Jerome Montemayor) invited me to come over to the PNPFI as a project-based staff. The rest, they say, is ancient history. I eventually met the founder of La Mancha Pyro Productions - Mr. Ricardo Crisostomo - the same guys who manage the annual World Pyro Olympics traditionally held along Manila Bay near SM Mall of Asia. Seeing my penchant for blowing stuff up (kidding!) and my love of learning, he offered me a spot in the La Mancha stable as a pyrotechnician/show planner-in-training (which of course I gladly accepted). Thus, when my contract with the Foundation expires on the 31st of December this year, I will most likely be coming along for the ride when the Philippines prepares for WPO 2009.
Maybe, maybe not.
Then there's the issue of my emerging dilemma. This stems from the fact that at this time, opportunity seems to be served to me on silver platters. Note the plural form of the noun - PLATTERS. I mean, hey, I've got a decent-paying job, another contract with an NGO up in the air, a training-hiring offer with La Mancha, and a scholarship in La Salle to consider. Damn the situation... sure, education is something that people acknowledge as being important and all, but people have time and time again shown that one can change the world long before they have obtained their college degrees. Well, that's debatable here in the Philippines, but hey, I can brag that I have more experience in admin, technical and finance work than most (if not all) of my classmates in college, sans a formal degree. Who in their right mind tried to learn accounting, GNU/Linux, social marketing, NGO management, corporate law, and a bunch of other fields all at the same time? Not many, I suppose.
Oh well, then again, they can always brag about their degree. And I? I can always brag that I was successful in a field outside my baccalaureate course.

Jul 8, 2008

Four Weeks

Four weeks... it takes only four weeks for the world to change beyond one's comprehension. While it has been more than a year since our family has gone some of the most melodramatic changes I've ever seen on real life, the most stressful and radical changes took place only this past month. For one, everyone in the family's cracked from their personal challenges: my mom's encountering severe rounds of depression from the strains her siblings have placed on her since my grandfather's death, and the death of her brother hasn't done any good to her nerves; my father's fresh out of luck in finding new job orders to fill, and is deeply indebted to others, particularly my mom; my sister has cracked from the strain of school and ranting parents, which led her to shout out at the entire family just yesterday. As for me...

I've decided to temporarily stop my studies in La Salle. Taken by my friends a a wholly unexpected move on my part, it's the only thing that I can see which could help resolve the financial burden on my and my sister's part. I'm still filing my leave of absence as of writing, and I hopefully can fix my employment requirements by the end of the week. While waiting, I've decided to take on a consultancy for an NGO requiring a new computer network, as well as a research assistant position with Angel B. Ironic... a chemist cum education working on a psychology paper. Rawls.

Anyway, only time will tell what things will happen in the near future. I only hope that those changes will lead to better things for everyone. Hope's a scarce resource for me these days... now to make do with what's left of it...

Jun 17, 2008

Completion

After 2 days of backbreaking toil, Anime Alliance Philippines has completed its coverage of the 7th Philippine Toys, Hobbies, and Collectibles Convention (ToyCon). Key highlights of AAP's coverage of the event include live streaming media on AAP Live! via Stickam; high-quality recorded video of the cosplay proper; photographs of the event venue and the participants; and interviews from some of the big names from the conference like Ronald Guanzon, Alodia Gosengfiao, and members of the various special interest groups from around the country. Keep posted on Anime Alliance Philippines' blog for more updates as they come.

I'd personally like to thank Mr. Azrael Coladilla for graciously allowing us to cover the event once more, making this the second time that Anime Alliance Philippines has provided live content in addition to that provided by the organizers. I'd also like to thank Mr. Ronald Guanzon for granting AAP an exclusive short interview spot with Ms. Gosengfiao and dancing the caramelldansen along with us. Thanks also go to Mr. Hideo V. (I'll update this when I remember his name) for bringing in one of the first figurines (import edition!) of Solid Snake from MGS4 *drools* and demonstrating to us the power of video blogging.

And my thanks also go to the faithful members of Anime Alliance Philippines, without which there would be no AAP. It's your belief in the power of a few that we keep sucking up our pride (and our finances) in order to provide great coverage of every single event that comes out. Thanks!

Edgar Ilaga, Co-Admin - Public Relations

Mar 25, 2008

Mea Culpa, Politico

What I am posting here is the statement of the De La Salle University Council of Editors 2008 dated March 18 2008 and published in Sandiwa volume 3. The statement is a condemnation of the way that the candidates in the DLSU General Elections made themselves look less like Lasallians and more like the trapos I so love to loathe by treating Lasallian voters as PBB texters rather than mature and politically-aware citizens. On a side note, it makes me proud to say that my personal statement against the trapo-like behavior of some candidates (definitely less polished than the CoE version... hey, an angry man is a reckless man ^_^\/) came out 9 days before. I sincerely hope that it was my statement that sparked something in the press... that would definitively show the power of a single voice speaking out against something that is blatantly wrong in the world.

Saludo ako, mga Lasalyanong mamamahayag! Ipagpatuloy ninyo ang laban para sa makabuluhang eleksyon sa La Salle! Ipagpatuloy ninyo ang laban para sa makabuluhang pagbabago sa bansa! Mabuhay kayong lahat!

Prelude to Corruption
by DLSU-Manila Council of Editors
(The LaSallian, Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, Malate Literary Folio, Green & White)
This is to formally denounce the imprudent practices of supposedly esteemed student leaders and political parties during the recently concluded Student Council General Elections. The times are such that we must question what little significance is left in the kind of leadership that they offer.
How can we possibly relish the thought of fighting for the truth and criticizing the credibility of our government when we breed perpetrators of hypocrisy under our own nose? Seeing that the young would eventually replace the old, we are disturbed by the thought that this delinquent campus culture, characterized by much idiocy and immaturity, will be carried over to the next stages of our generation.
The subjectivity of truth, or rather, confused notions of what the truth should be, became a basis for quite a number of verbal and written attacks aimed at different student publications. The word "bias" has been thrown around so carelessly, without judgment and reason, so that the very concept it represents has been watered down into a mere facsimile of what it originally meant. Whenever something contrary to what any particular party believes in is published, the initial result is an outbreak of faulty claims seeking to nullify the veracity of the statements. Does it not follow that such a defensive stance speaks of the immaturity with which the situation is dealt with? What are we to do with a political culture that seeks to turn every miniscule scratch into a bullet wound?
Should political parties wish to limit the coverage of writing for the sole purpose of prettifying their public image, and prohibit campus journalists from interpreting documented facts in their article, then they should scrap their prevailing ideologies at once and admit that they are primarily fascists. The problem lies in the misconception of the principle of "balance". Nowhere in our rational mind can we imagine that balance is equivalent to the absence of analysis. What these groups are proposing is that campus journalists should limit their function to the clerical task of transcribing events as they happen. But is the suggestion authoritarian, or ignorant?
If our leaders tend to resent too much about not having been portrayed in a way that would gratify their narcissistic needs, then it only reveals the inherent pretentiousness of their agenda. But who are we to blame, when the course of the general elections was entirely about that? That campaign speeches and debates degenerate into wretched comedy and failed entertainment reveal little comprehension about important social issues. At the very least, the conspicuously superficial seriousness exhibited by the candidates merely provokes laughter instead of respect. We fail to penetrate the roots of our problems because much attention is given to theatrical effects. And perhaps the memorized speeches are just tactics of building a strategic distance between the speaker and the audience, to prevent confronting difficult questions. The culmination of all these is an exhibition where the two parties, in a verbal warfare that reveals traces of uncivilized conduct, seem to display a predilection for embarrassment, where non-partisan spectators are even the ones who get embarrassed by the apparent vulgarity (that is, if the miting de avance has any other spectator at all other than party members).
Precisely what these false ambassadors of integrity preach when they take the floor to condemn the other party is the claim of having a monopoly on truth without invoking the power of reason, as though they have been tasked by some divine authority. We cannot help but believe that the filth of our national political condition has trickled down and infiltrated our institution. Facts are no longer a major consideration. Vision is not important. Only propaganda matters. How then do student leaders differ from morally misguided public servants? Is it fair to condemn a morally bankrupt government when, as a community, we have a shortage of virtues? Let us therefore remember the biblical wisdom of removing the mote in our own eye before removing the plank in the eye of another person. For this reason, we invite all student sectors and the student body to join our protest against this long-standing juvenile campus politics, against immaturity in student leadership and service, and against falsehood passing itself off as reality.
May no student organization or unit unjustly exempt itself from this indictment.

Mar 23, 2008

Thanksgiving for the Sumilao Farmers

Traditionally, the term "Thanksgiving" is associated in the US with the harvest celebration traditionally held on the 25th of October each year and marked by a lavish dinner attended by members of the entire family. It is a commemoration of the bounties received during the previous year, as well as any significant and life-changing experiences that may have occurred. In this context then, I'd probably want to host a nationwide Thanksgiving celebration today for the farmers of the Philippines, particularly the Sumilao farmers who today have scored a major victory both for themselves and for all the beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, more commonly known as CARP. It was announced today that the San Miguel Corporation has finally agreed to turn over ALL 144 HECTARES of prime agricultural land to its rightful owner, the Higaonons of Bukidnon. This marks a major breakthrough in the implementation of the Land Reform Program, and is hopefully a precedent to more land redistributions in the Philippines.

When we acknowledge the role that farmers play in providing the staple of the Filipino diet - rice - and give them the corresponding respect and dignity that they deserve, there can be no stopping us from being the change we want to see, and making others see the country that we can be.

At this point, there are many things I'd like to be thankful for;
For the Sumilao farmers and their companions, for fighting ceaselessly for a cause found on justice and basic human dignity;
For the innumerable youth who supported Lakaw Sumilao day-in and day-out by knowing, presenting and acting on the issues behind the case;
For the institutions who continued to support the Sumilao farmers by providing logistic and material support to both the farmers in the metropolis and their families in the provinces (special thanks to COSCA and the DLSU Student Council who have tirelessly thrown their weight to support the Sumilao farmers);
And most of all, the undefinable force that some call GOD and which I refuse to identify, for constantly fueling the hopes and dreams of everyone on the side of JUSTICE.


MABUHAY ANG MGA MAGSASAKANG SUMILAO!
MABUHAY ANG MGA MAGSASAKANG PILIPINO!

Complete story from Inquirer.net: SMC agrees to return Sumilao land to farmers -- lawyer

Mar 20, 2008

Reply to Comment of Mr. De los Reyes

UPDATE: This piece, originally posted onto INQURER.net's Vox Populi section did not pass moderation, for one reason or another. Talk about the voice of the people not being heard! Then again, it's pretty useless now except as a memoir to the facts that led to the VICTORY of the Sumilao farmers over injustice. Hey, see above article for the details. We've won!

UPDATE 2: This piece DID pass moderation! For some reason or another, the moderation took several DAYS! Haha... fine with me. XD

Mr. De los Reyes, I do not mean to insult your intelligence when I say that you should check your facts before stating things against the Sumilao (not Somilao) farmers. Do remember that the 144 hectares of land the “original owner” (Norberto Quisumbing) was recognized under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 (R.A. 6657) as Ancestral in nature (historically, the 144 hectares of land in question was part of a larger parcel about 244 hectares in size which was illegally seized by the Angeles clan in the 40’s from the Higaonons there) and whose tenants - the 137 MAPALAD farmers and now the SALFA farmers who are the children of the MAPALAD farmers - were the descendants of the original residents of the land, thus entitling them to ownership of the land via the issuance of a Certificate of Land Ownership. Next, regarding your argument that the conversion of the 144 hectares of land to agro-industrial nullified the ownership of the land by the farmers: this could simply not be possible because the application for land conversion was ILLEGAL in nature, primarily because the request for land conversion (N.B. city councils can only reclassify lands, not convert them) was passed at the town council level of Sumilao and affirmed at the provincial council of Bukidnon with the knowledge that such a request can only be received at the Department of Land Reform and that the “conversion order” passed by the Bukidnon provincial council was moot and void, and secondly because the 144 hectares of land was evaluated by 3 government offices as prime agricultural land, exempting it from conversion acc. to DAR Administrative Order 20, series of 1992. Finally, regarding the sale of the land to SMFI: Quisumbing could not have sold the land to SMFI in good faith or legally given that the development plans contained in SMFI’s development plans were radically different from Quisumbing’s plans in the application for land conversion that he had submitted to the provincial council (which by the way, was never even completed in the first place). If the law is to be followed, the non-compliance with the “1 year to begin, 5 years to complete” rule was enough to nullify the “conversion order”; however, SMFI brazenly defied DAR A.O. 1, series of 2002 which included sections on the obligation of future landowners to stick with the original development plans of the land conversion applicant, lest the land return to the original CARP grantees (which in this case, I believe, is a good thing). By proposing to build a piggery on the land, they violated the order by leaps and bounds.

Last time I heard, SMC (yes Mr. De los Reyes, the case is now being pursued not just by SMFI but also by the bigwigs in San Miguel Corporation) was indeed offering another, larger land to the Sumilao farmers. In fact, that’s old news since that was the talk of the town during the farmers’ stay in DLSU a few months back. However, the question that begs to be asked is this: given that SMC already knew of the presence of this land in Bukidnon, why did they still insist on using land that was smaller in nature and whose ownership was doubtful? Besides, during the “negotiations”, SMC did not fully disclose the ownership of the land leading us to suspect that there was some foul play involved - might it be that SMC was taking the land of another group of farmers, that it was part of a “divide and conquer” plot the powers above were hatching?

Mr. de los Reyes, I, my colleagues in DLSU , and the many other youth groups who have expressed support for the Sumilao Farmers firmly believe that the facts point to justice being denied to the farmers. This is not simply a case of farmers wanting their land back - this is a case of farmers wanting justice for the atrocities done to them and thousands of farmers around the country who have had their land stolen from them by the rich and powerful. The Sumilao issue might just be the test case that those who are still looking for their dignity as people - and the appreciation of the people as the beings responsible for putting food on our tables - are looking for.

Besides dear sir, can you stomach the fact that priority is being given to providing air-conditioning to pigs over the livelihood and life of human beings just like you? I think you know the answer to that.

Mar 16, 2008

So.. is it really over? - 2008 DLSU General Elections Results

Electioneering cases aside, here's how the 2008-2009 USC EB will look like.

President: Nicole Villarojo
VP Acads: Aimee Chua
VP OPEC: Gretch Santos
VP Activities: Inah Garcia
Secretary: Chichi Tullao
Treasurer: Greggy Chua

I sincerely hope and pray that you will all truly be the change that both the University and the Philippines needs at this time. Show us that you truly deserved our votes, and did not simply say to us what we truly wanted to hear from you. Fulfill your promises, or we, the Lasallian Achievers for God and Country will ensure that you will be cleanly and promptly be given an exit party that you will never forget.

We'll be watching you.

Source: http://shale.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/favorable-results-for-the-oranges

From PDI: Beauty queen's English proof of sliding RP education - solon

OMG... Sorry. Just couldn't help thinking that it took a 17-year old "beauty queen" to re-expose the fact that something is darned wrong with the way our educational system is/isn't working. Here's a little food for thought: why not let her speak in the Miss World pageant in the lingua franca - Filipino? I mean, other Asian countries with the same or even lower English proficiency than the Philippines allow their representatives speak in their native tongue, while allowing a translator to express what the candidate wants to say? Hey, it does work for them, not to mention that it could ease the nerves that may originate from speaking in a non-native language (at least for some of the "beauty queens", who may not have the admirable level of English fluency to speak like a messiah). Then again, there's a real problem of language fluency that we are now required to deal with. Given the way that the Philippine economy and social structure are working today, can we really remain competitive in the global community? Can we really deal with having to field beauty queens who become the gaffe of the town?

My 2 cents. I hope that somehow, Janina will indeed be, the last laugh.

So, what's your opinion on this? P.S. I deliberately eliminated any and all discussions on English being the primary medium of discussion. IMO, that is one issue best left sa diskarte ng mga teacher... geographical education being my bias.
---
Beauty queen's English proof of sliding RP education--solon

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:03:00 03/15/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- If she were another Asian or European, beauty titlist Janina San Miguel could have gotten away with her English gaffe. But the trouble is, she's a Filipino, Cebu Representative Eduardo Gullas said Saturday.

"The truth is, if Ms San Miguel had been Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, or French, nobody would have cared about her awkward English. People would have totally ignored it. They would have excused her right away,'' Gullas said.

"But she is Filipino, and English is our highly favored second language. So people expected more from her,'' he added in a statement.

San Miguel, 17, has caused a stir with her awkward answer to a question in English during last week's Bb. Pilipinas Beauty Pageant, but still won the title of Bb. Pilipinas to represent the Philippines in the Miss World pageant.

Her gaffe has become the butt of jokes, and been featured on YouTube.

Gullas, principal author of a bill seeking to boost the Filipinos' English skills by reinstating English as the medium of instruction in all school levels, said he found the video "tormenting,'' but said the beauty titlist's gaffe was proof of the youth's declining proficiency in English.

Her sensational failure to answer a simple question in straight English "betrays the fading competence of a growing number of young Filipinos in the world's lingua franca,'' he said.

Citing India's experience, Gullas urged young Filipinos to master English, or risk getting left behind in the competition for high-paying jobs.

"Those who fail to acquire adequate English skills will be marginalized in the lucrative job markets of the future. If we look closely at India's recent economic boom, the Indians benefiting the most in terms of improved standards of living are mainly those with English skills. This is because they are the ones cornering the good-paying jobs," Gullas said.

"The Indians without English skills are the ones getting left behind economically. Without access to gainful employment, they remain mired in poverty, amid the economic boom there," he added.

Gullas's bill has been endorsed by 207 of 240 members of the House of Representatives.

The congressman, however, voiced confidence that San Miguel would improve her English before the Miss World pageant in November.

"She will recover quickly, no doubt about that. We wish her good luck," he said.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority has offered a free crash course on English to future beauty pageant candidates.

Mar 10, 2008

OPINION: An appeal for new politics in the DLSU General Elections

IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, I've received e-mail messages coming from people seeking elective posts in our student council. I will not name the individuals, though it doesn't take a genius to see that the senders each come from opposing camps. However, it is clear from the content of these messages that there is a clear and marked agenda to gain the sympathy of the potential voter. Let me say something about this: while each of them promise to deliver change to our proud university, I am quite sure that NONE of them are any different from the politicians we fight against in the streets and in the proud halls of our University. On one hand, there is a self-righteous individual who insists that he/she can deliver change along with his/her running-mates, when others had APPARENTLY failed at doing so. Following that, an email condemning the apparent "bashing" insisted that Lasallians should vote based on platform and "not anything else".

This sort of behavior should stop now. SHAME ON YOU, CANDIDATES. You should know better than that! Where is your maturity, your discernment of what is moral and immoral, your sense of responsibility and your sincere desire for genuine change? Is this your idea of "Lasallian Achievers for God and Country"?

Yes, I am angry. This is indeed a case of righteous indignation at what is happening today. I am angry at the fact that a number Lasallians have not learned the basics of good governance - that truth, accountability and responsibility go hand-in-hand. I am angered at the fact that we have REFUSED to learn the lessons taught to us by decades of history, that nothing goes well when we allow our sympathies cloud our judgment, especially when it comes to the elections. I am angered by the realization that we have time and time again, voiced out our desire for change to happen in the nation, WITHOUT US REMEMBERING THAT CHANGE BEGINS IN OURSELVES. But worst of all, I am angry at myself for not speaking out earlier against this sort of hypocrisy. I've protected the integrity of the national and local elections as a VFORCE Volunteer, been on the streets insisting that the truth on election fraud come out, and campaigning in-campus for students to vote based on principles and platform. However, I've remained silent on the blatant insult of Lasallians' sensibilities, on our ability to condemn the evils done on the country while remaining blind of the things done in the university, believing it to be some sort of sanctuary... without knowing that one day, the tolerance of such a mindset would lead to us doing the very same things that we loath of now. I wonder how it feels like to one day be the savior, only to be the villain on the next?

Candidates, and maybe even the incumbents, focus on your platforms. Live out the politics of service, not the politics of hate. Gain the trust of us voters, instead of trying to destroy the trust we have of others. We want vote based on who we think can serve us the best, NOT based on who is the "lesser evil". Spend less time and money campaigning and more time listening to your constituents. I mean LISTEN; don't insist that we need one thing or another just because you think so! Then ACT! You are the voice of the student body; a mute and deaf student council is as good as not having a student council at all. We might as well all be anarchists in that case. Convince us that you are needed, not that you need us... appeal to our intellect, not to our emotions.

Voters, carefully weigh the value of what each candidate says. As mature and educated Lasallians, I trust that we have the ability to appraise a person on his/her values, principles, track record and history, not based on a few words, a single statement, or a PR campaign. As voting constituents, we are directly affected by the programs and policies the student council decides to implement and/or fight for. Should we make the wrong choice, we share the blame for making the SC as it is. Almost as a consolation, we are given the assurance that we have the power to ensure that only the right people come into power. Wield the ballot as a shield and the pen as a sword. A legion of educated voters against traditional politics can do much to make a La Salle we would live for and be proud of for all time - one that molds the LEADERS of tomorrow that we so badly need today, not the TRAPOS of today that we hope are gone tomorrow.

In the end though, it is all a matter of choice. Whether we decide to take the difficult and correct choices is something that will determine where we will be in the future. ANIMO LASALLE!

-Edgar John Ilaga

Mar 9, 2008

Healing

Just came back from LASARET - the Lasallian Integrating Retreat. I can't believe that I managed to acquire the energy and guts necessary to say all the things I've always wanted to all my former blockmates. It's not that I hate them... it's just that I've never really found it in my heart to forgive all of them for ostracizing my good friend Bea. Hey, hurt me once - I don't care... hurt my friends - you hurt me. However, I think that I'm on the road to recovery now. I got to write the little "thank you"'s and "hey there... how're you doing there"'s that I've felt that I owed them. I have to admit, it's a little tough at first, but once you do it, there's a feeling of liberation from the past that happens. I will never get to fully heal from the wounds, but it helps to know that I just might be able to mask the scars well enough for me to not remember that such things happened in the past.

Whoever you all are, you know who you are.

As I ask for your forgiveness, I forgive you.