Liham Para sa Kabataan

Bawat isa may gampaning gagampanan. Lahat po tayo ay may alituntuning susundan. Nang ikaw ay nilikha ng ama isinilang ka kay inang bayan na nagbigay sayo ng karapatan. Dalawa ang iyong ama at dalawa rin ang iyong ina, apat po ang iyong mga magulang. Inang sayo ay nagluwal at ama mong bayolohikal ang naatasang sayo ay humubog. Kapag ikaw ay hubog na saka ka na sa kanila ay unti-unting bubukod. At may lebel na magiging silbi mo na lang silang gabay at tungkod.

Ito ang lebel ng pagiging kabataan kung saan nagsisimula ang pagkamulat na sa inang lupa’t amang lumikha kailangan mong maglingkod. Ang estado ng kabataan ay ang pinakadelikadong lebel dahil ito ay pasikot-sikot. Magiging kuryoso ka sa maraming mga bagay, utak mo ay magiging malikot. Narito ang mga pinakanakakalitong daan kaya kung saan-saan ka susuot. Umibig, mag-aral, magloko, magseryoso at iba pa, lahat yan ay nakapaloob sa kabataan kaya tayo ay nagiging mapusok.

Kaya may nabuong konsepto ng paglilinang sa kabataan. Dito papalawigin ang ating mga pagkakataon at mga pagpipilian. Nang sa gayon ang lebel ng pagiging kabataan ay maunlad nating malampasan. Para sa huli, si inang bayan alam natin kung paano mapaglilingkuran. Kaya iyong tandaan, kung saan ka laging tagumpay ito ang iyong kalakasan. Kung saan ka laging sablay ito ang iyong kahinaan. Para lalung masanay, oportunidad ang kailangan. Ngunit may mga balakid na bantay na dapat mong laging mahakbangan. Apat na bagay na kailangang unawain sa paglinang; kalakasan, kahinaan, oportunidad at hadlang. Lahat kasi yan ay pampalawak ng iyong pagiging rasyonal. Ito ang magsisilbing pangkorte ng iyong mga pananaw. Sa tunay na mundo tuturuan ka nito kung paano gumalaw. Nang sa huli, kahit saan ka mapadpad hindi ka na maliligaw.

Kabataan atin pong paghusayan. Tayo po ang pag-asa ng bayan. Hindi ba sa pag-ibig ayaw natin ng mga paasa. Kaya wag na wag nating papaasahin si inang bayan.

 

-Kenneth dela Rosa

UPCAT exam tips

 

 

Reposted from their official website

1. Write the information needed on your test permit. The permit is computer generated and therefore does not have your signature. Sometimes, it does not even include your date of birth. As soon as you get your test permit, go over it and see if there is any missing information. This will save you time from having to fill it out once you are in the testing hall. Continue reading

Si PNoy, ang DAP at SONA

Noong nakaraang buwan, Hulyo ay idineklara ni Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore O. Te ang Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) na ilegal o hindi naaayon sa ating saligang batas. Nangangahulugang ito ay may nalabag na batas. Ang DAP ay pagkuha ng Pangulo ng pera mula sa savings ng kahit anong sektor sa ehekutibong sangay upang gamiting pondo sa kahit anong proyektong kanyang sinasagawa nang walang paalam o proseso. Kasunod ng deklarasyong ito, kalagitnaan ng Hulyo, ay ang talumpati ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino kontra sa desisyon ng Korte Suprema. Buong loob niyang hinayag sa kanyang talumpati na ang panig niya ay magpapasa ng Motion for Reconsideration sa Korte Suprema. Nangangahulugang hindi sila kuntento sa hatol. Ayon sa talumpati ng Pangulo may umiiral na batas na magpapatunay na legal ang DAP. Isa pa, ang DAP ay napunta raw sa mga proyektong kapaki-pakinabang para sa bayan at mga mamamayan ng Pilipinas. At sa kabila ng isyung ito, bago matapos ang Hulyo ay naganap parin ang State of the Nation Address (SONA) ng ating Pangulo para sa taong 2014.

Para Sa Ating Wika

Sa taong 2016 ay may plano o balak na ang ating gobyerno na tanggalin sa kurikulum pang kolehiyo ang pag-aaral ng ating sariling wikang Filipino sa pangunguna ng Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Ayon ito sa mga balitang aking nakalap sa TV, internet at kapwa mga Pilipino. Ito ay alinsunod sa ating bagong sistemang pang edukasyon, ang programang K to 12. Sa programang ito ay magiging 12 na taon ang gugugulin ng isang estudyante sa basic na edukasyon. Sapagkat ang ating dating sistemang pang edukasyon ay kulang ng dalawang taon kumpara sa ibang mga bansa. Anim na taon sa elementarya, apat na taon sa junior high school at dalawang taon sa senior high school, ganito na ang magiging sistema ng pag-aaral ng bawat Pilipino sa programang K to 12.

Who Needs Poetry? From the New York Times

The dirty secret of poetry is that it is loved by some, loathed by many, and bought by almost no one. 

We live in the age of grace and the age of futility, the age of speed and the age of dullness. The way we live now is not poetic. We live prose, we breathe prose, and we drink, alas, prose. There is prose that does us no great harm, and that may even, in small doses, prove medicinal, the way snake oil cured everything by curing nothing. But to live continually in the natter of ill-written and ill-spoken prose is to become deaf to what language can do.

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Why can’t many Filipinos tell truth from satire?

Why do many Filipinos mistake satire for truth so easily?

It seems that other cultures are no longer as boggled by satire, and now accept and enjoy the form for what it is. The US has The OnionThe Daily Show, andThe Colbert Report; the UK has Monty Python; Germany has the Heute Show; and Japan has Torijajiira Hoso.

The Philippines, however, has yet to have a popular site or show that is unabashedly satirical, without having to fall back on cheap laughs. It is still in a state where putting out a single piece of satire can keep a senator’s communications team up at night.

In the case of the SWN piece, many netizens reason that people think so lowly of Jinggoy, they’d believe any negative thing said about him. The real reason, however, may go far deeper than this need for schadenfreude.

It’s possible, through a flawed educational system, that many Filipinos were not taught to think critically enough. And if you can’t think critically enough, grasping satire may be more difficult than it should be.

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No to Book “Labels”

The most jaw-dropping display of empathetic correctness came in a recent New York Times article reporting on the number of campuses proposing that so-called “trigger warnings” be placed on syllabi in courses using texts or films containing material that might “trigger” discomfort for students. Themes seen as needing such warnings range from suicide, abuse, and rape to anti-Semitism, “misogynistic violence,” and “controlling relationships.” Astonishingly, some of the literary works advocates claim need warning labels for adult college students are often read by high school students, such as The Great Gatsby andThe Merchant of Venice.

Of course, empathy is a virtue. Ironically, it is a virtue cultivated, recent studies have shown, by reading great literature—the very works

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some want accompanied by warning labels.

Read more from The Atlantic

 

Kendii Prize Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Kendii Prize!

Katig by Kenneth Dela Rosa

Summer and the Suburb by Ryann Labad

Classmate by Imaw Robles

Princess and the Sea by

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Even Apple thinks poetry rocks!

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman,

“O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What will your verse be?

Read more: Apple’s Latest Ad Is Probably Going to Give You Chills | TIME.com http://business.time.com/2014/01/13/apples-latest-ad-is-probably-going-to-give-you-chills/#ixzz2qP4SgPzE

Three Ways to Drive Away Post-Holiday Blues

Now that the holidays are over, most of us are back to the daily grind. It is 2014 now and there’s a lot to look forward to but it’s also a little bit sad now that all the celebrations have momentarily come to an end. There’s a certain sadness that comes to readjusting to our normal routines especially for those of us who met with loved ones from overseas for Christmas. We’re left missing those special people along with the fun and revelry they shared with us. This doesn’t mean that the end of the holidays is all bad though. After all, if we celebrated all the time, we’d start to take things for granted. Here are a few ways to deal with post-holiday blues as our lives return to normality. Continue reading

Welcoming the New Year

2014 has now begun and getting started on the right foot is important to making this a fruitful year. Of course, we’re not saying that a bad beginning determines how the rest of the months will go. Still, it helps to take a great first step so you have a head start. Don’t stumble at the starting line. Just hit the ground running. Meet 2014 with optimism and you’ve won half the battle. Leave all your bad luck behind and don’t dwell on the misfortunes of the previous year. New opportunities abound as time marches forward. Have hope for the future. Continue reading

Keeping Resolutions

As the year draws to a close, people start to make New Year’s resolutions to see if they can improve their lives as the promise of a better beginning looms. But how many of us actually keep our resolutions? Do you still remember

the ones you made last year? Did you manage to hold true to those promises you made to yourself. More often than not, the answer is no and this can be very disheartening. Whether it’s something as simple as losing weight or something as complicated as shifting careers, life can be fickle and throw a wrench in our plans thus leaving us frustrated. Continue reading

A Kendii Christmas

It’s been a very fulfilling year for Kendii and its readers with only more to come in the future. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and much luck in what lies ahead for 2014. For now, we extend our thanks to all the readers who have followed us over the course of the past few months through all the ups and downs that have rocked the nation. While we develop as a site, we hope we are helping young Filipino writers to develop as well.  We also hope we’ve provided a lovely opportunity for writers to showcase their talent through the Kendii prize and the job openings we host on the site. Continue reading

Pinoy Pasko

What exactly adds a Filipino twist to Christmas? With the holiday only a few days away, let’s ponder how our people add a unique spin to how we celebrate. We always seem to add a new dimension to our festivities from everything from food to family traditions. What makes Christmas in the Philippines different from elsewhere in the world? Is there more to it than just the tropical weather that would make Santa sweat in his snowsuit? We end up taking for granted what other nations see as a novelty, longing for snow as we deal with warm weather even while our children wait for reindeer and sleigh bells.

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Keeping Christmas Affordable

December is the month where electric bills rise so some might see Meralco’s recent price hike as strategic. With all the Christmas lights shining for festive cheer, it means a great profit for the electric company. Some might see this as exploitative especially since it comes on the heels of one of the country’s worst natural disasters. This doesn’t mean we’re powerless when it comes to our budgets though. We can still enjoy Christmas without having to deal with a hefty price tag. All it takes is a few smarter spending choices so you can meet the New Year without having to worry about an empty pocket. Continue reading

Home for the Holidays

With about two weeks to go before Christmas, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will soon be returning to our shores in droves. It’s like a mass migration on par with birds flying south for the winter. Many of the relatives we’ve missed for months (sometimes even years) will be coming home to us. The length of their stays will likely vary. Some will stay only for a few days while others for a few weeks. There are some who are even coming home to stay and celebrating that milestone over the holidays. It’s bittersweet for everyone who has friends and family they haven’t seen in a while. You’re so happy to see these people again but you end up thinking about the time you couldn’t share with them as well. Then again, that’s what trading stories is for. Continue reading

The Passing of a Great Leader

Despite Nelson Mandela’s advanced age, his death still took the world by surprise. We like to think of our heroes as unbreakable. We take for granted that their presence on this planet is far from permanent. The world lost a great man, but the lessons he imparted remain to guide us to a society moving toward equality when it comes to racial relations. Mandela lived to the ripe old age of 95. After nearly a century on this Earth, he left more of a lasting impact than most of us can ever hope for. It is time to celebrate his life rather than grieve his death.

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Countdown to Christmas

With Christmas drawing closer, it’s time to reflect on the past year. After all, once we’re done with the 25th of December, the New Year will be right around the corner. Besides that, Christmas really urges us to come together with our friends and family so we get a sense of our place in the world. It’s the perfect time for contemplation as we exchange presents and share good will. Christmas 2013 is a milestone for the Philippines since we will be celebrating in the wake of disaster. Some of us may have a difficult time finding mirth in it after suffering great personal loss while the more fortunate ones struggle to help the grieving. Christmas is going to be bittersweet but we must make the best of it. Continue reading

Pacquiao vs BIR: Being a Hero Can Be Taxing

Shortly after Manny Pacquiao’s victory, he came home to a hero’s welcome. It’s only customary considering the honor he secured for the country after a great tragedy. However, the celebration didn’t last after the Bureau of Internal Revenue saw fit to freeze his bank accounts over allegations of tax evasion. The result? Public outrage poured out over the government’s treatment of the People’s Champ especially after Pacquiao displayed proof on television that he had indeed been paying his taxes. He showed that he’d been playing taxes to the United States after the fights he won on American soil as is customary so these accusation by the BIR here in the Philippines left him more than dumbfounded. Continue reading

The Pinoy Punch


Image courtesy of rappler.com
Manny Pacquiao’s big fight last Sunday served to allay some of the Filipino people’s pain as he secured victory in order to honour the victims of the typhoon. In his match against Brandon Rios, Pacquiao secured the title of WBO International Welterweight champion. It brought Filipinos together to huddle around their televisions after great tragedy. After the stress of relief efforts, watching the fight served as a welcome respite. It’s well-known that the crime rate drops whenever the people’s champ is in a big boxing match since everyone is so focused on watching Manny land his punches. Some would say that this serves as a form of temporary national catharsis as people let all their troubles go and just enjoy the match.

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Rebuilding the Philippine Nation: World Watches as Politicking and the Bayanihan Spirit Plays Out

Though many days have passed since Haiyan’s wrath, there is still much to be done in order for the affected cities to traverse the path toward recovery. Rappler claims that the damage to infrastructure may necessitate “the biggest reconstruction after World War II.” We are fighting a war against nature as climate change throws more storms our way. As a developing nation, we need to get up as soon as possible lest we get kicked while we’re down by the next storm. We already had to deal with a similar situation during Haiyan considering how it struck shortly after an earthquake. Sometimes, it seems we just can’t recover fast enough.

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Korina Sanchez: Things a Journalist Must Do to Preserve Integrity

Most Filipinos are now aware of the recent embarrassment and controversy surrounding Korina Sanchez, wife of interior minister Mar Roxas, and her comments claiming that Anderson Cooper’s reports lacked credibility. This is shameful considering the fact that she’s a journalist who is obviously making personal ties to the government a cause for her judgment to be clouded. It led to a response from Cooper defending his reports since he was airing his findings directly from the disaster-struck city of Tacloban while Sanchez made her claims from the safety of a studio in the capital. It goes to show that even seasoned local journalists can make grievous errors. For those who aspire to pursue the truth in reporting, there are certain rules to be followed. Continue reading

Yolanda

Last week, typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) struck the Philippines, hitting Visayas especially hard. As of now, there are 10,000 feared dead along with millions of pesos in property damage. This archipelago has weathered many storms and persevered but Haiyan has left us far more battered than any of its predecessors in recent years. Fear and worry grip the nation and international coverage of the disaster can be seen on cable news channels. This is not a matter that’s just a local concern. It’s left the world shaken, especially as the storm leaves the Philippine area of responsibility and blows toward other countries. Continue reading

Public Storms

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It seems the Philippines in facing two storms right now: the approaching typhoon named Yolanda and the frenzy surrounding Janet Lim Napoles as she faces allegations of plunder on national television. We’re looking at disaster both in climate and politics, bracing ourselves for its approach. Only time will tell how much damage we suffer and how well we’ll weather these trials. For now, flights have been grounded and people are bracing themselves for the typhoon by stocking up on supplies. If they don’t lose electricity, they’ll have tons of entertainment on TV as the media dissects how Napoles deals with the allegations brought against her. Continue reading

Three Ways to Hasten a Long Wait


We’ve all been there. Being stuck in long lines is just a fact of life. Government offices practically demand it. This is why plenty of people rise at the crack of dawn to be first in line to have vital documents processed. Even then, they’re bound to discover that somebody’s gotten to the front of the line first. Long waits also apply to less mundane things. Need tickets to a blockbuster movie on opening night? Want to see a concert from a hot new musical act that’s going to be around for one night only? You need to be ready to wait in a stifling line. Still, there are ways to make the wait go faster if you’re willing to be resourceful.

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Three Pieces of Home for Filipinos Abroad

While overseas, many Filipinos end up missing the homeland. In some ways, they may even end up glorifying it in their heads, forgetting the bad and focusing on the aspects of it that they pine for. It’s a coping mechanism for culture shock. A lot of us would rather have the familiar than something strange and new. It’s better to deal with the devil you know, right? This isn’t to say that the homeland isn’t worth missing. It very much is. You just have to keep the pros and cons in mind so you aren’t disappointed when you return to the land of your birth.

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The “Ber” Effect: Four Signs that Christmas is Approaching in the Philippines

It’s only October yet Christmas is already in the air. Truth be told, we’ve been feeling its approach since September. Filipinos like to ring in the Yuletide season as early as possible. Once the first month ending in “-ber” comes around, it’s time to start celebrating. In a sense, Christmas tends to creep up on us in this country, slowly approaching rather than announcing itself to much fanfare when December rolls around. After the worst of the monsoon storms have passed, we’re all itching to celebrate. However, this has certain ramifications for those of us who were hit worse than others. As you read on, you’ll see that the earliness of Christmas in the Philippines comes with both perks and pitfalls.

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Plagiarism: It Can Happen to You

In light of the recent issues concerning University of the Philippines graduate student Mark Joseph Solis and his false claim on a photo to win an international contest, the matter of plagiarism has gotten far more exposure. And why shouldn’t it? It’s a fundamental part of our ethics, especially in the academe. It lends us dignity to know our work is our own and not stolen from someone else. This is likely why it baffles a majority of us when someone chooses to take credit for a masterpiece that they did not create. Then again, plagiarism can happen to the best of us. Believe it or not, it can even happen by accident.

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Beauty and the Plagiarist

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September has been a month of highs and lows for our nation. Regrettably, the lows outnumber the highs. As Christmas grows closer, we’re only getting more chaos in the senate as whistleblowers come to the forefront regarding corruption and the pork barrel that helped to enable it. Chaos courtesy of the MNLF in Zamboanga only served to worsen matters. On top of that, we had the abduction of an ad executive in front of her own home leading to her subsequent murder and a call for justice that earned the attention of no less than the president. All this occurred amidst rainstorms battering our archipelago. Then, as icing on the cake, a moment of national pride turned to shame when UP student Mark Joseph Solis was discovered to have plagiarized his entry to a photography contest. Perhaps Megan Young’s victory as Miss World is fate’s way of cutting us a break. We all watched her earn the crown. Surely, there’s nothing amiss in that particular victory.

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Five Unconventional Covers of Popular Hits

Each and every one of us has a soundtrack for themselves. We all have a set of favourite songs we cycle through constantly, putting them on loop when we’re feeling down. Technology like iTunes has just made it that much easier. And of course, when you love a song, it’s intriguing to hear other versions of it. Covers are incredibly popular on YouTube. Whether you’re already an established musical artist or an amateur looking to hit the big time, covers are a good way to catch the ears of new fans. Continue reading

The Finals Crush

With September drawing to a close, most students are feeling the pressure as finals loom closer. It’s definitely a high-stress scenario full of all-nighters as deadlines loom closer. Most adults in the working world either wonder how they got through it in their younger years or look back on it with nostalgia while yearning for school deadlines versus the ones at work which hold their bread and butter on the line. Regardless of the perspective of those who have already surpassed this phase, it’s clear to those undergoing it that the light at the end of the tunnel exists but remains just out of reach. To add to stress, this time of the year is also the season for college entrance exams. Balancing finals with rigorous testing to get into a top university is maddening. How can one cope?

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Guide to Chatting Up Three Types of Book Readers

Literary tastes say a lot about a person. You may be surprised at what you can discover simply by asking about a person’s favourite author or book. Make it a habit and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. It’ll definitely acquaint you better with people who share your interests if you’re a bibliophile. The list that follows details particular experiences with certain types of book lovers we’ve come across. You may recognize a few among your peer group. You may also end up disagreeing since one can’t exactly generalize such a varied group of people who enjoy the written word. Whichever the case, we hope it encourages you to discuss books more often with both friends and strangers.

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Arrows and Eagles


Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Philippine university athletics knows about the rivalry between two of the country’s top schools: Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University. Tensions between the schools have been taut long before the birth of the current batch of students or even those students’ parents. It’s said that the conflict began in all the way back in 1939 when La Salle won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) against the defending champions, Ateneo. To celebrate, they threw fried chicken at the gates of the old Manila campus. Of course, this is sort of an urban legend to be taken with a grain of salt or, at least, plenty of ketchup.

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Balls and Whistles

This week has been a harsh one for our nation. MNLF rebels have brought Zamboanga to a standstill, holding residents as hostages who serve as human shields. All the while, our government is undergoing massive change as corruption is unearthed. Benhur Luy, primary whistleblower for the Napoles case, gave testimony and the country heaved an audible gasp at his revelations as they were broadcast over a multitude of news and media outlets. It takes balls to speak out against the rich and powerful of the country and this man has done it by blowing the whistle on one of the greatest acts of thievery in this age.

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Four Ways to Get Your Book Fix for Free

Rainy days encourage people to curl up with a good book especially if a storm’s knocked out the cable and internet. There’s just something timeless about flipping through pages to descend into a world other than one’s own. It’s the sort of entertainment that just doesn’t go out of style. Though required readings for school and work may dull the fun of it, there are ways to recapture one’s old enjoyment of a good book. All it takes is quiet time, the right mindset for relaxation, and a lack of distractions.

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Curing the Pork

                As of now, our politicians are currently deliberating how to deal with the Napoles case as well as actions to take regarding the divisive issue of “pork barrel.” Corruption’s being laid bare but will that be enough to get rid of it? Filipinos can’t be blamed for being doubtful. This system of corruption has persisted for decades, immune to change despite protests and revolts. Greed has a way of turning men into monsters. Most politicians don’t aim to be elected in order to serve the people. We have to face the fact that most of our congressmen and senators are there to serve themselves and not the people they represent. Continue reading

Three Massive Childhood Icon Changes


As we grow up, we experience a shared pop culture that defines the decades wherein we transitioned from youth to adolescence to young adulthood. Most of the young adults now hail from the nineties and 2000’s. They’re seeing the icons of their youth grow up alongside them. Tragically, this can lead to a less than pleasing sight. There’s a trend toward former role models taking a downturn and shattering their old images. Some of them even  do it on purpose to shed their old reputations as child stars while others appear to be casualties of fame as they fall into vice due to stress. Continue reading

Crabs and Corruption

One negative stereotype concerning Filipinos involves the humble crab. Our people are often said to harbor a “crab mentality” meaning we find it difficult to be happy for the success of others and will do our best to bring them down. This idiom hails from the way crabs trapped in a basket will climb over each other and knock each other down in order to free themselves. More often than not, this just hinders everybody’s progress and none of the crabs end up getting out. Philippine progress may appear to be at this stage. We’re all crabs trapped in the basket with none of us willing to let others get out if we’re going to be stepped on to do it. However, slowly but surely, we’re learning to cooperate with each other. The protest at Luneta last Monday certainly proved that.

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Three Reading Recs for a Rainy Day

With Typhoon Maring now leaving the Philippine area of responsibility and relief efforts underway for those severely affected, we can all heave a collective sigh as we try to move forward as a country. This doesn’t

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mean that the rains are over though. Monsoon season’s just begun to kick itself into high gear and weather reports state that there’s another storm to come. Heavy rains usually bring technological advances to their knees by shutting down power, killing cable and internet, and making it difficult to get an adequate cell phone signal. However, for those seeking silver linings in the dark clouds, it means an absence of distractions when it comes to the books in your library that you’ve been dying to read. Try it by candlelight during a power outage some time. It’s an experience everyone should have. Here are three recommendations from Kendii to get you started.

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Lending a Hand for Victims of Typhoon Maring

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The past few days have been marked by the onslaught of the tropical storm “Maring.”It’s unsurprising considering August’s reputation as the wettest month of the year here in the Philippines. However, no matter how well we prepare, we never really know how hard we’re going to be struck by disaster. Many have found themselves in evacuation centers lacking food and water. To make matters worse, some of these people don’t know if they have homes to return to. On top of that, victims of the storm include the ill and the elderly. One can’t stress enough how much donations would be welcome to aid in the plight of our fellow Filipinos.

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Three Peeks into Past Programs

When we look back on the local television of our youth, we think of the cheesy programming on non-cable networks and cringe a little despite our fondness for these shows. The special effects often left much to be desired and the dialogue, while sometimes witty, often edged into the territory of corniness. Nonetheless, we watched with rapt attention, eagerly awaiting plot twists while we laughed and cried along with our favorite characters. The stars on these shows became household names who grew up alongside us. When nostalgia hits, it’s hard not to binge on YouTube clips of these programs from an era gone by.

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Suspension Season

The rains bring a lot of class suspensions with them which students may perceive as both a blessing and a curse. While it grants a day off from class, it comes with consequences. If enough of these class suspensions come in succession, make-up classes become a necessity thus stealing Saturdays away from our weekends. There’s no such thing as a free day off.  If make-up classes don’t happen, extra work may be added so we can still learn the required lessons in time for finals. If this wasn’t done, we wouldn’t be getting an education that justifies our tuition so it’s perfectly understandable despite the frustration that comes with it. All we can do is hope that class suspensions come once in a while but infrequently enough to signal that the weather isn’t being too much of a hassle and studies will be easy to catch up with. With this in mind, we must always be ready for the announcements of class suspensions when they come. This will help us to avoid weathering the storm only to arrive in an empty classroom.

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Three Internet Fails from the Philippines

As of now, Jeane Napoles is everywhere as an online presence both in the news and social media. With her mother allegedly being caught up in a scam that has robbed the country of billions while the Napoles family lives a lavish lifestyle, it’s not surprising how much rage has been awakened at the sight of the youngest Napoles daughter flaunting her wealth in pictures spread all throughout the web. She’s deactivated most of her social media accounts now which is likely prudent due to the current scrutiny but it may appear to be too little too late with the government now looking into her family’s assets.

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Staying Safe on the Streets

It’s certain that more than a few of us have a horror story or two to share about encountering crime on the city streets. Whether it’s our own tale or a friend’s, it comes with a particular sort of terror that one just doesn’t get from simply hearing it on the news. If it’s happened to us once, it can happen to us again. If it’s happened to someone we know (especially someone who we have observed to be cautious), who says we can’t end up

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being the next target? It’s only August but the “–ber months” are approaching and these bring the advent of the holiday season upon us where crime spikes exponentially. What can we do to keep ourselves safe?

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Five Essentials for a Power Outage

With the rainy season upon us, power outages are prone to be more common especially in areas where flooding is the norm. Most of us are veterans to this sort of short crisis. However, a few of us will be dealing with it alone for the first time. College freshmen who have just moved into their dormitories can probably relate. What should one have around in case the power goes out? With any luck, your parents probably gave you plenty of good advice about what supplies to keep with you but here’s a brief refresher just in case.

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Five Native Desserts to Snack on During “Buwan ng Wika”

 

The first of August marks the beginnings of the celebrations for our national “Buwan ng Wika” where we pay tribute to the Filipino language for the entirety of the month. For those in elementary and high school, this means coming to school in traditional Filipino clothing at least once this month. In fact, certain schools actually require this attire as often as once a week over the course of August. It brings a parade of colours into the classroom and harkens back to another time. After all, how often can you come to school looking like you belong in the 1800’s while still going about business as usual in class? With these celebrations comes a bounty of food. The events of this month usually culminate in a school party of sorts where everyone brings traditional Filipino food. Of course, for anyone with a sweet tooth, the desserts are front and center. Below, we’ve listed five native desserts we think are ideal for snacking on during “buwan ng wika.” Continue reading

Revisiting Old Favorites

Whether you’re dealing with food, fashion, music or an old TV show, you can help but be aware of a certain feeling that can’t be duplicated by anything other than engaging the senses with something old. Maybe that’s what makes throwback Thursdays so popular on social media. People love to reminisce. We enjoy scanning old photographs and making them into digital copies that can be easily disseminated all over the web at our leisure. From our old photo albums, we take our memories and share them with the world which can lead to either a sense of pride or embarrassment depending on what’s on display.

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The Prison of the Mind

 


The Stanford Prison Experiment showcased a case study of ethics gone awry in a social experiment. For those who have never heard of this particular case before, it’s a famous experiment wherein two sets of students were separated into “prisoners” and “jailers.” The experiment wasn’t able to conclude properly due to the fact that the “jailers” ended up taking their roles too seriously which caused harm to the subjects performing as “prisoners.” This site likely explains the details of
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the events far better. While the intentions were good and the pursuit of knowledge was at the forefront of the experiment’s objectives, the execution was sorely lacking in terms of considerations for safety and potential bias. After all, they say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Even if your aim is altruistic, if you cause harm in the process, you may end up making a bigger problem than the one you intended to help alleviate. Screening for the experiment was something I believe was prudent as was offering financial compensation for the potential discomfort the scenario might pose. However, not warning them of certain factors like staged arrests in public was certainly out of line. From the beginning, the experiment had a problem in terms of disclosing information to those participating. It even extended to those who had not signed up for the experiment with a priest, the parents of the boys, and legal counsel going along with the charade rather than bringing the boys back to reality. Everything seemed to reinforce the illusion thus making it easier for the participants to sink into the fantasy.

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Sing Your Heart Out

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Filipinos have a fondness for music that spans centuries. From old native lullabies to current OPM, we have a wide range that shows off the versatility of our composers, lyricists and performers. Advances in technology have only encouraged us to be more overt in sharing our love of music. This is why karaoke has gained so much popularity in the country to the point that people will literally kill over it. Everyone knows about the unfortunate luck that comes with singing “My Way” in a karaoke bar. It’s the stuff of urban legend but, unlike other “rumours,” this phenomenon has been proven and it’s easy enough to pull up newspaper articles about it on the web.  Music is just serious business to Filipinos.

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In Search of Depth

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There’s a lot that’s problematic about the culture most Filipinos are made to consume. Yes, it’s fair to say that subpar entertainment and education is shoved down our gullets since a majority are given no other options. Your bank account determines what you have access to. If you’re living on minimum wage, there’s a chance that your exposure to radio is usually in a communal place like a jeepney on the way home from a rough day. For television, it may also be the local carinderia, sari-sari store or beer house where you choose to unwind. What are you most likely to hear on the airwaves over there? See on the TV screen? Probably the jeepney driver’s favourite radio station or whatever the eatery’s owner thinks will bring in the most customers. This is how the TV stations disseminate what they think the “masa” should be consuming and the people made to watch and listen don’t have a choice. Right now, the “masa” can be seen as a bunch of survivors from a ship that has sunk, adrift on rough seas in a lifeboat to nowhere. They have a choice between dying of thirst and killing themselves faster by drinking salt water. There’s no way to win. We’re choosing to drink. After all, there’s temporary relief in that, isn’t there?  Better to slake our thirst and die fast than prolong the suffering.

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The Philippine Underdog

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When it comes to canine pets, there are perhaps as many, if not more, breeds as there are kinds of people. Each dog comes with its own pedigree whether purebred or mongrel. They have varied countries of origin from the poodles of France to the huskies of Siberia. Whether you want to curl up with a toy dog or are looking for a guardian hound to keep you safe, there’s likely a furry best friend out there for you. However, most people don’t seem to have much regard for the native dog of the Philippines. Yes, we’re talking about the “askal” or “asong kalye,” deemed a common mutt to be avoided on the streets and, sometimes, even killed and eaten as a meal in the provinces.

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Novelty and National Pop

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OPM or Original Pilipino Music has undergone quite a bit of evolution over the decades. For one thing, it’s been awhile since a foreign artist has covered a song from our shores while keeping it in the native tongue. The one and perhaps only instance that’s made an international splash is Eartha Kitt doing a cover of Waray Waray. Eartha Kitt is perhaps best known as Catwoman from the Batman television series of the sixties. However, today’s generation likely knows her best as the voice of Yzma in the animated film The Emperor’s New Groove.  It’s a pity that even this particular performance is mostly forgotten on our shores. Ambeth Ocampo did an interesting piece on the singer’s Philippine connection and it’s a must-read for anyone with nationalism in their hearts.

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Filipiniana and the Foreign

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Imelda Marcos is a household name in her homeland and beyond our shores for all the wrong reasons. As a woman known for her excesses (having a huge shoe collection famed throughout the world) and being the wife of a fallen dictator, it’s a wonder how she managed to have the guts to run for office. It’s even more baffling that she got actually managed to get elected to the House of Representatives. Are the Filipino people so forgetful about the suffering brought on by the Marcos dictatorship? As a college senior, I wrote my thesis about Imelda and her depictions in pop culture. Now, as a graduate student, I thought it might be interesting to revisit her even if she’s no longer involved in my academic pursuits. I wasn’t a martial law baby but writing about Imelda lent me a lot of perspective about the bloody past of this country. It also helped me gain a grasp of how the rest of the world, particularly the West, perceives us.

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The Trouble with Sameness

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To homogenize is to make similar. When one favors homogeny, you could say that one favors uniformity over standing apart. But is this what Philippine media is doing to its audiences nowadays? Who is the “masa” and why are they the target market? Does it lead to a decline in quality as a whole when it comes to local programming? Philippine media does tend toward homogeny to

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cater to a particular target market. While one can argue that a drama revolving around a Class A life wouldn’t necessarily fail to resonate with a Class D audience, they view it in a manner that’s different from a Class A viewer. What about a game show featuring Class D participants? Wouldn’t a Class A viewer have a different perspective watching a noontime variety show? These are all thoughts to consider when we evaluate the programming available on our television screens. In the end, it’s not exactly audience desire that determines what dominates the media. No, it’s a matter of profit. What do sponsors think will sell? What do sponsors think of their consumers? Do they think we’re not educated enough to enjoy shows that challenge our minds? Continue reading

The Eastern Wave Sweeping the Globe

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Cultural influence all over the world is generalized as primarily Western or American. However this neglects the true impact of the East like how Korea is being influenced by Japan or how Sri Lanka is being influenced by India. For a local example, look at how we’re being influenced by Korea. Korean pop music is everywhere. Korean hair styles are becoming all the rage in local fashion. Could you imagine a stand specializing in Korean products making a killing in profits before Psy’s Gangnam Style became a hit or before Boys Over Flowers aired on ABS-CBN? Probably not. But now? The Korean wave is more like a tsunami. This is how disjuncture and difference plays out. Every country is different. The world has to figure out that, despite the West’s power, post-colonial countries like the Philippines are open to the influence of nations other than Spain, America and Japan, countries that haven’t ever colonized Philippine soil. The world is a place of difference and the West is not the cure for disjuncture.

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Tomorrow in Hindsight

 

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In 1997, Intel commissioned One Digital Day: How the Microchip is Changing Our World art of the company’s thirtieth anniversary. The result is a coffee table book filled with pictures pertaining to the microchip, all taken on the same day. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, that doesn’t preclude the assortment of essays and captions featured in this tome. The foreword is written by Andy Grove, Chairman and CEO of Intel at the time of publication. Michael S. Malone introduces various “chapters” of the book, classifying photos under different categories. I use the term “chapter” loosely since, in this case, it identifies sets of photographs and their corresponding captions placed under a particular heading rather than what one would conventionally consider a chapter to be. This is a picture book for the adult who wants to look into the future with the same wide-eyed marvel as a child opening a superhero comic book for the first time. The difference? This is not fiction. This was actually happening over a decade ago.

What exactly were we doing on July 11, 1997 or what Andy Grove describes in his introduction as “last July, on an ordinary day?” To provide some personal background, in 1997, I was a seven-year-old first grader. Unlike most of my classmates, I did not have a personal computer. Instead, I would use my mother’s old electric typewriter to do assignments that required typing out. A computer was not seen as a necessity just yet, at least not by my family. This is why seeing the experiences of Katie Durbin, a five year old child at the time of the book’s conception, suffering from a condition which made her unable to walk in sunlight without getting severely burned (xeroderma pigmentosum or XP), is eye-opening. She is seen coping via an online network of friends on xps.org. Social media was already alive and well even before the advent of Facebook and Twiitter or their predecessors MySpace and Friendster. However, it wasn’t as prevalent. Still, the solace it provided for children like Katie, making them aware that they were not alone, proved indispensable. The first photo we see if Katie is one where she is shielded from the sun by her mother who swaddles her in cloth. It’s only on the next page that we see the charming child under the blanket, smiling and pointing at a computer monitor. Katie herself declares “The moon is my friend.” Thanks to the microchip, she’s able to make the acquaintance of more than just that singular heavenly body. Now, she’s in the company of children with bodies like hers through the internet. To my seven-year-old self, the thought of making friends with other children who might be on the other side of the planet would have been inconceivable. However, that is what happened. Back in 1997, a child younger than me was social networking while I tapped away at my typewriter.

Most of the book’s appeal is in seeing the advancements in 1997 from the point of view of one living in the new millennium. It’s like speaking to a grandparent and being surprised to discover that yes, they did already have colored television in the sixties. Now, it’s a bit more recent. We see that they already had social networking and voice activated software in 1997. IMAX films, something that only recently came to Philippine shores via the Mall of Asia, was already in use at New York City’s Sony IMAX theater where we see a slew of children wearing 3D glasses and pointing at the screen in awe. There are also pictures of a soldier in simulation programs that turn an entire room’s walls into screens with images projected onto them, immersing the combatant in a battle scenario. In Tokyo, Japan, we see a robot dubbed “WABOT-2” playing the electric organ. Even more astounding, this robot was built all the way back in 1984. We see a striking image of Buddhist monks in a computer shop and the caption claims “In addition to traditional methods, the monks, from the Maha Phrutharam Temple, use computers to learn about Buddha and his teachings.”

The way we perceive reality has changed. Time is fluid. We can be reached at any moment through our computers and our cellular phones via people we may have never even met in real life. If they had 15 billion microchips then, how many might he have now? No doubt we likely have more. Malone states that back in 1997, there were enough microprocessors for everyone on the planet to have two computers. How is it possible that, today, there are still many who have never touched a computer in their life? Even back then, the digital divide was a concern. After all, I can speak for myself and my typewriter with its lovely backspace key known as correction fluid. How do

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you think technology has developed so far in your lifetime? Do you anticipate or dread what’s to come? Have you ever come across an old book and marvelled at how far we’ve come since it was published?

Where’s the Next Johnny Rico?

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No, Johnny Rico is not the latest soap opera heartthrob or Pinoy singing superstar on a foreign reality show. He first came into being back in 1959 as the hero of Starship Troopers so some may actually see him as old news as far as “prominent” Filipinos go.  Yes, the hero of a sci-fi classic is Pinoy and it’s a shame that not a lot of people know that. It might have something to do with the adaptations “conveniently” glossing over his ethnicity. Johnny Rico has been played by Casper Van Dien who is as far as Filipino as can be. Most adaptations have him depicted as a white Argentinian rather than a Southeast Asian man of color. Even the Japanese anime adaptation from 1988 has him as a white Argentinian. It’s sad considering the lack of Filipino representation in fiction that has an international audience. Being Filipino is a major part of Rico’s identity and it shows haw Heinlein had faith in a “developing” nation in 1959. In the future that Heinlein envisioned; Filipinos could fight with pride alongside other races as a common alien threat united people. When will we ever see a work of fiction like this again?

The most recent case of the Philippines being depicted was in Dan Brown’s Inferno and it wasn’t exactly a compliment. Then again, one can’t deny its accuracy. Despite the furor raised by the government about how Brown offered a less than flattering perspective on Manila, that doesn’t make it any less true. “Gates of Hell” might be an exaggeration to some but there’s no denying that even some locals see it that way. “Six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution and horrifying sex trade” are other things that were pointed out. Have you ever been to EDSA during rush hour? Check “yes” on traffic jams. Have you ever tried breathing in the smog on a busy street? Check “yes” on suffocation pollution that clings to your clothes and makes you smell like car exhaust long after you arrive home. Walked in a mall and seen a young scantily clad Filipina on a much older foreign man’s arm? Check “yes” on horrifying sex trade that’s plain for everyone to see. Truth of the matter is we’re all very much aware of our nation’s flaws. We just don’t like foreigners pointing it out for the world to see. We have no qualms when it comes to complaining about our country but we don’t like it when people from other nations do it. This is something that has to change. We shouldn’t take this as an insult but rather as pointers for improvement.

Maybe the Philippines that Heinlein pictured in 1959 is entirely different from the one Brown now sees in 2013 but does that mean we’ve lost our shot at having another Johnny Rico? If we keep taking offense far too easily at depictions of our nation from a foreign perspective, we might have. This isn’t to say that we can’t change that though. Filipinos do great things every single day. It’s up to us to rehabilitate the image of our nation and its people so that the good outweighs the bad and it’s the best of us that catches international attention rather than the worst.

Swimming in the Rain


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June and the start of classes coincides with the arrival of the rainy season in the Philippines. It’s clear why this sort of weather would be a concern since a surplus of water accompanies children as they come flooding into classrooms. It’s also hell for parents and employees who have to tangle with traffic on their drives and commutes. Rain dampens everyone’s mood and then some but a solution for nature doesn’t appear to be forthcoming. Instead, we actually meet these yearly trials with acceptance and smiles, taking it as a part of living in this nation. There’s nothing wrong with looking on the bright side but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to improve how things are run.

For example, all sorts of vermin like rats and cockroaches crawl out when the floods come. It’s a hazard when you’re walking down a busy street and the rain up to your knees suddenly floats dead roaches and rats toward you. It’s even worse if they happen to be alive. Blocked drainage is another concern. It fills the streets with the stench of sewage and all sorts of toxic waste. We end up wading through this filth. Children end up traversing these roads and sink into all this disgusting muck. To make things worse, this contaminated rainwater can end up getting into open wounds or seeping into sources of drinking water. Illness soon follows and we find ourselves feeling helpless as people around us succumb. Medical wards end up full of cholera and leptospirosis patients around this time of year due to the lack of regard for maintaining infrastructure like canals.

It all leads back to politics and our responsibility as citizens to vote for the right people who will protect our interests. Maybe we should vote in the rainy season rather than in sunny May. It would give us more perspective if catastrophe is right at our door. We’d be more discerning about who we elect when we know that impending disaster is dangerously close. We need politicians who will keep us from drowning rather than ones who are far too preoccupied lining their pockets to notice that the city they serve is sinking. It’s our right to be kept safe with the money we use to pay our taxes.

There’s nothing fanciful about being made to swim in the rain. People drown and fall ill. Homes and belongings end up washed away. Filipinos may smile through it but they’re definitely not happy. They grin and bear it. They roll with the punches. But do they have to? Can we do more than open our umbrellas and put on our galoshes when the next storm hits?

Oppression and Independence

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Another independence day has passed but can we truly call ourselves an independent people? Our nation is no longer conquered but we are a burdened country. The world we live in is not one we should simply let ourselves become accustomed to. It is not a world wherein we simply grow desensitized to the suffering around us. It’s no good to pay our respects to the flag while ignoring all the suffering right before our eyes. Rather, we should strive to change this world. When one is oppressed, one should not simply accept it. One should fight to change this damnable state. However, one should keep in mind that those who oppress harbor attitudes of complacency and may belittle the efforts of the oppressed to change their way of living. This is why the oppressed should seek to study the state inflicted upon them. After all knowing is half the battle.

 

Building on this concept of gaining knowledge, we need to look to education. There’s a disturbing approach to education where most children are made to memorize without really knowing why the knowledge is relevant. The author Paolo Freire is a shining beacon here since he believes that those who learn must be treated as co-creators of knowledge. In this way, the teacher-student relationship no longer appears to be one between the oppressor and the oppressed wherein one decides what the other learns. Furthermore, creativity is encouraged in this manner since the students truly engage with the knowledge from their own perspective rather than solely from the teacher’s.

 

One could see this new approach to learning as a form of dialogue which is sorely lacking due to the naïveté of those who fancy themselves to be leaders. It’s disheartening when the common perception is that one must simply languish and suffer with the current state of things rather than strive for change. To go to the masses and tell them to grin and bear it is not the way to go.  We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the marginalized.

 

Lastly, we need to understand that to encourage dialogue is to tear down the status quo. In dialogue, we give a voice to the voiceless thus encouraging equality. Those who oppress live comfortably and thus would likely not support dialogue but where’s the social conscience in that? To have more than enough while others have none is the mark of a degenerate society. We strive for a nation wherein people are full of self-determination and aspirations to become more than what they were born into.

 

Every election, we have politicians pandering to the masses giving promotional paraphernalia and empty promises. This approach fosters empty hope that those in government will bring about the birth of a new nation. Why not instead tell the masses “No, the power to make this country a better place is in your hands.” A politician is not a miracle-worker. Instead, those who lead must be seen as architects. They create the blue print but it is up to the people to set these plans in motion. Rather than fall into the trap of becoming dependent, we must make ourselves free.

 

Sexual Violence in Filipino Fiction

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When it comes to taboos in conversation, rape is definitely on most people’s top ten lists.  Our country is fervent in Catholicism so sex tends to be a difficult topic to discuss. Even in the South, it’s not something openly discussed by our brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith. Rape is seen as so terrible that people would rather not discuss it than acknowledge it exists. Still, we see it every day in the news. It’s the elephant in the room that far too many people are hell-bent on ignoring for the sake of their comfort. It’s a tragedy that efforts to prevent sexual assault aren’t getting needed attention due to this stigma.

Some could argue that the same stigma toward rape extends into fiction. As a student, three examples stand out in my mind. First, there’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal. Maria Clara is the daughter born from the violation of Dona Pia by Padre Damaso. This serves as a major plot twist but the rape is not written explicitly. We only come upon this knowledge years later and the perpetrator doesn’t meet justice for his act. This intensifies the tragedy of Noli Me Tangere which carries over to El Filibusterismo especially when we take into consideration Maria Clara’s fate. As a character born of rape, she’s actually quite sympathetic. Contrast this to popular Western fiction. Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter and Ramsay Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire are both characters born of rape and they’re painted as villainous. Perhaps Maria Clara betrays the Filipino sensibility about children being full of potential and able to succeed despite the sins of their parents. It’s probably why the pro-life movement is so strong in this nation as well. Filipinos see children born of rape as innocents who didn’t ask to be born. They could always be a potential Maria Clara. Continue reading

Superheroes on our Shores

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With the recent release of many summer blockbusters from the United States, we’ve seen a surge of American superheroes coming to our local cinemas.  Over the past few years, we’ve been introduced to new incarnations of Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, The Hulk, Iron-Man, Thor and many more.  Soon, a new version of Superman will be joining their ranks. We’re pretty much overdosing on superheroes from across the ocean. They’re a bright spot of hope in a world recovering from war and financial crisis. No one can be faulted for indulging in some escapism through popcorn flicks where good constantly defeats evil.

Still, it begs the question about our own local superheroes. Every year, the Metro Manila Film Festival introduces something like Lastikman, Captain Barbell, Panday and Enteng Kabisote. Darna has made it onto television in several incarnations. Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah found fame as a comic book, film, and stage musical. However, these local productions mostly linger in obscurity despite the fact that we’re the target audience. After the MMFF, they end up mostly forgotten or, worse, critically panned and avoided. Why are our heroes so maligned in the international pantheon of planetary saviours? Do we lack pride in them? Do we lack perspective?

Budget is one consideration. No matter how much money local movie and television studios pour into productions about our local superheroes, they just don’t match up to Hollywood. We’ve been spoiled by 3D and CGI so we end up sorely disappointed when local productions can’t match up. This is even more problematic when the narrative is weak. A strong story can save a film with bad special effects. It’s a tragedy that a lot of our local superhero films are mired in clichés. The city is in peril, the love interest gets kidnapped, and the hero saves the day. We know better than to expect twists. It just doesn’t happen. It’s as if the content has been dumbed down on the assumption that the audience won’t want anything fresh and new. A lot of these comics are from decades gone by. Updating them to reflect more contemporary states of mind wouldn’t do any harm.

Aside from this, there’s also the matter of most of these films being comedic. Hollywood’s gone the “darker and grittier” route for a lot of the new superhero films. They make it more “realistic.” Filipino superheroes are mostly played for laughs. Just look at Vic Sotto as Enteng Kabisote or Vhong Navarro as Lastikman. These are comedians. We go in looking to laugh at the hero rather than be impressed by him. He’s just the punchline to a bad joke; a way to convey slapstick for cheap laughs. This isn’t to say that the superheroes on our shores can’t do better though. Film is a medium that’s constantly evolving. In time, we may have a superhero blockbuster we can be proud of. But when? And is time running out?

Slipping Back into School

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It’s the month of June once more meaning many students now find themselves trudging back to school. Buying school supplies is now behind us. We’re done trudging through bookstores and bazaars for what we need. Now it’s time to put all that new stuff to good use in the pursuit of new knowledge.  Gone are the days of staying up until midnight to wake up past noon. Rising early for the daily grind is the routine for five out of seven days in a week now. Not to fret though. Every day that passes brings one closer to levelling up in education, moving closer to bigger and brighter things.

This is especially relevant to seniors in high school and college. For those in their fourth year of high school, now is the time to prepare for the dreaded college entrance examinations.  Most of these students are around sixteen now and they’re choosing the degrees that may determine the course of their lives for years to come. It’s a lot of pressure. On top of that, they’re choosing which college might be the right fit for them without knowing for certain whether they’ll be admitted or not. This is unpredictability piled on top of unpredictability and yet we all march on. With any luck, four years later, these same students will survive and find themselves at the next crossroads in their life. They won’t be unscathed though. College is a trial by fire that forges us into adults. The marks we bear from the experience are there to arm us for the real world.

College seniors are likely fretting over grades, internships, resumes, and theses. They have a lot on their plates right now as they prepare for their lives to change drastically once this school year ends. It’s just begun but they can already spot the finish line. This is “the year” where they start as students and end as “adults.” It’s a lot of pressure and many who go through it end up wondering how they managed to survive. As someone who finished college, I’m often baffled by how I pushed through. It was probably with the help of more than a few espresso shots during those last 36 hours before thesis defence. We all have our ways of coping.

The point is, whether this is a ground-breaking “transitional” year for you or just another year of college or high school, it matters a lot in the great scheme of things. Freshman year is the beginning. It’s the foundation of everything you hope to build. After that, you may suffer the sophomore slump but the best thing you can do is persevere. By the time you hit junior year, you’ve probably grown comfortable already. You’re getting the hang of things. And then what happens? Just as you’re getting used to this mess, senior year hits and you’re about to be launched into a whole new world. Such is the way of life. Brace yourself and smile. Slip back into school and enjoy it while you can. In a few years, you’ll look back on it fondly once you’ve weathered the storm.

Ok after Y2k

y2k

In the year 1999, there was a great panic about the so-called Y2K bug. There was a fear that when the year changed from 1999 to 2000, technology all over the world would go haywire due to computers abbreviating four digit years to two digits. This abbreviation means that the count on many digital devices only goes up to 99. The Y2K bug would cause catastrophe because once the year 2000 hit, the computers would assume the year to be 1900 and they would then fail to function. Thankfully, this doomsday scenario did not come to pass. People also thought the world would end as the new millennium was rung in. It just goes to show how much human error there is in predicting the apocalypse.

Y2K was even the subject of a two star rated film. It gets a passing mention on IMDB with the summary: “It’s millennium eve. At the stroke of midnight the Y2K computer bug kicks in, causing widespread chaos in the US.” It’s proof of how thoroughly inaccurate films can be when it comes to predicting the future. Looking back on this film now thirteen years later, we can’t help but

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laugh at how this disaster didn’t come to pass. It’s a blast from the past we look at with both mockery and nostalgia. Will we look back on the film “2012” the same way in a few years? Considering the way memes and pop culture evolve on the internet, we probably already do.

2012’s Mayan apocalypse and the Y2k disaster are not the only prominent times we’ve failed to predict the end of the world. Harold Camping, from Family Radio, famously thought the world would end with “The Rapture” on May 21, 2011. People who believed him ended up selling all their belongings, doing crazy things for their “last day” and abandoning everything only to be horrified when May 22 came along and the world hadn’t crumbled. The backlash on the false prophet was intense. People can get crazy when they think they only have one day left to live and we saw it all firsthand.

So what’s the point? We’re still ok after Y2k. We’re ok after May 21, 2011. We’re ok after 2012. Half of 2013 is gone and we’re ok. We need to focus on that and pick up something productive instead of dwelling on our mortality. Pain is a symptom of life. Keep your chin up. The world’s not going anywhere.

Nostalgia and the 90’s

90s

A lot of children born in the 90’s are now full-grown adults ready to take on the world. Hindsight is 20/20 and plenty of children from the last decade of the 20th century look back to see what they grew up with. Their reactions often range from horror to wonderment. Sites like Buzzfeed help in this particular nostalgic pursuit by regularly posting articles about the 90’s. You end up getting sucked into looking at pictures of products, television shows, and celebrities from the past. It isn’t long before you discover that you’ve lost hours to the nostalgic binge. We can’t help but be amazed at how much time has passed since then and how much things have changed.

Take computers and internet as an example. Windows 8 is a far cry from Windows 95. As someone who used Windows 98 until 2007, I actually have much fondness for the older operating systems. You could play solitaire or mess around on Paint while the “song of slow dial-up internet trying to connect” played in the background. If you’ve ever used a dial-up connection, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The phone lines would go busy as you went online, leaving people unable to use make or receive calls. It would take hours to download something like an MP3. Compare that to internet speeds now and you realize just how much technology has progressed.

Music is another matter that definitely awakens nostalgia. Auto-tune wasn’t as prevalent back then. Boy bands were a big thing. With the rise of One Direction, you might say boy bands are making a comeback but it’s just not the same. When you grow up with the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, the new pop acts just can’t compare. (At least Justin Timberlake is still around.) There’s nothing like the Spice Girls out there right now though.  Our ears will just have to cope and pine for yesteryear.  Try not to get sucked into the old 90’s boy band channels on YouTube. You’ll be stuck there for hours.

Television from the nineties looks really cheesy now but there are some old gems, too. There’s a reason that people still argue that Picard is a better Star Trek captain in light of the new films featuring Kirk. The 90’s also gave us a slew of fantasy shows. Try looking up “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” in conjunction with “DISAPPOINTED!” The meme you’ll end up on is sure to please. Lucy Lawless as Xena: Warrior Princess, the witches on Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld, kids shows like Clarissa Explains It All and Kenan and Kel; these all hold a place in our hearts. If you’re going local, there’s telenovelas like Mara Clara and Esperanza as well as sitcoms like Home Along Da Riles and Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata. The nineties was a rich decade and many of us look back on it fondly. What do you miss the most about the nineties?

Sherlock’s New Lock on 21st Century Audiences

 

SH and Watson 1

The 21st century seems to have brought a 19th century fictional investigator to the forefront of our TV screens and movie theatres. Sherlock Holmes is now more of a household name than ever. This is the same man whose earliest fans protested his death so much that Arthur Conan Doyle had to bring him back from the dead in a new story. It’s not surprising that he has enough staying power to persist through the centuries. In fact, his name has become synonymous with private investigators and it’s hard not to associate detectives with this famous fictional hero. This may be the reason for the proliferation of adaptations that are now being gobbled up be eager audiences. Three of them hold the most prominence at the moment: Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, BBC’s Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and CBS’s Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Lieu. Each adaptation brings its own spin to the world’s most famous detective and they all merit some viewing if you have free time to spare.

Guy Ritchie’s films could be called the most “faithful” out of the three considering the fact that it’s set in the same time period as the original Holmes stories: the 1800’s. It re-invents Holmes as an action hero of sorts. Robert Downey Jr. brings almost a rock star quality to the character who engages in fisticuffs, beds women as he pleases, and participates in recreational drug use. This isn’t the Holmes of

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yesteryear. The setting may be a time gone by but it’s obviously crafted with modern audiences in mind. Jude Law as Watson plays the good doctor in a similar style, turning Holmes and Watson into a duo of action.

On the other hand, BBC’s Sherlock is a modern adaptation and each episode is a Holmes story adapted to modern times. Of course, liberties are taken here to suit the 21st century. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes is a consulting detective for Scotland Yard who uses his cell and other modern tech to help crack his cases. Martin Freeman’s Watson keeps a blog to chronicle their adventures. He’s also a military doctor and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Again, we have another fresh spin on Holmes and to talk about it at length would likely spoil it so you’ll have to watch for yourself to fully appreciate the transition of Holmes into the 21st century.

Last but not least, we have CBS’s Elementary. Like BBC’s Sherlock, this show is set in the 21st century but it makes more key changes than that. The most obvious shifts involve the location changing from England to New York and the fact that Watson is now a woman played by Lucy Lieu. Admittedly, some purists have argued against this adaptation but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. The season consists of 24 episodes and I finished them all in the span of three days. It’s just that addicting. Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes is still a Brit but he navigates his new surroundings while the ghost of drug addiction still hounds him. Whether you’re looking for a new dose of Holmes or just love crime shows, Elementary comes highly recommended.

All three of these Holmes adaptations come with their respective strengths. As was said earlier, watching all of them would be highly recommended if you can spare the time. If not, at least this article might be able to guide you in deciding which adaptation is best to suit your tastes.

What’s Nice about Spice?

sriracha-sauce

Eating spicy food tends to have a sadomasochistic component to it.  It can serve as a challenge of will. When you’re among friends, it can even become a spectator sport of sorts. There are plenty of restaurants that boast spicy food and challenge diners to consume spicy dishes within a certain amount of time for the chance of a free meal or a picture on a “wall of fame.” When you’re dining on the extreme side of spiciness, it’s never just about the food. It’s a way to prove something to yourself through your tongue, and a way to earn bragging rights via culinary endurance.

Consuming spicy food isn’t all about amusement though. Spice serves a multitude of purposes. It helps to preserve our food so it keeps for longer. There’s nothing like a reheated curry for lunch. The flavours come out bolder since the ingredients have been steeped in the spices for longer. In addition to that, there are health benefits to be had. If you’re a fan of chilies, your heart is in luck since the capsaicin in the peppers helps to combat bad cholesterol. Capsaicin has also been known to fight cancer cells putting you at less risk of this much-feared terminal illness.

Looking to lose weight? Your diet may end up being a lot blander as a result of trying to eat healthier. Adding more peppers and spices into your meals will probably help you stay on track better since your meals will be a lot more appetizing.  Capsaicin is also known for speeding up the metabolism and helping the body burn more calories so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you choose to spice up your diet. Soon, you’ll find yourself shedding the pounds and being as hot as the food you favour.

There’s another added bonus for those of us that live in this hot tropical climate. Eating spicy food is actually one of the best ways to cool down.  It makes you start to sweat thus taking advantage of your body’s natural cooling system. Next time you reach for the hot sauce, think about all the good things you have in store and you may end up being far more generous in your seasoning. Nothing beats all these health benefits paired with the chance to look like a hot shot. If your friends start asking you what’s nice about spice, feel free to share your insight on your new-found love for hot condiments.  Before you know it, they’ll end up hooked too.

Reading Native

 

saging

Did you grow up with foreign fairy tales or local legends? If you were fortunate, your childhood was prominently graced by both. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White were occasionally interspersed with an “alamat” or two featuring disembodied body parts growing into fruit trees. It’s actually nice to contrast those narratives between local and international now that we’re old enough to appraise them side by side. It’s hard to find a fairy tale analogous to the sad story of Aging who had his hand cut off by his lady love’s father leaving her to grieve and bury his hand which led to the growth of the first banana tree. It’s surprising that young children told native folk tales don’t have more nightmares. I certainly didn’t. One of the coconut legends is even more grisly. It follows a similar plot to the banana tale and concludes with a coconut tree sprouting from the burial site of a man’s disembodied head. The coconut is supposed to resemble a head. Definitely food for thought next time you’re having a coconut drink or dessert.

There are also the stories of Juan Tamad which encourage us to be more industrious. There’s no use sitting under a tree with your mouth open, waiting for fruit to fall into

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your mouth. Releasing crabs bought at the market and trusting them to go home to be cooked leads our hero nowhere fast. Most of his tales ends up with him being heavily chastised for his laziness but he never seems to learn. Instead, we’re expected to learn in his place. Amusing cautionary tales are there to spur us on and keep laziness at bay. These are the sort of stories best told by a grandparent from memory at bedtime. It makes a young mind wonder how older people are capable of remembering so much until they grow up and realize that they know the stories by heart too from listening to it for so many nights.

Reading the same stories now offers a trip down memory lane. We look at the story of how Pasig supposedly got its name from a drowning Spaniard who was out on a boat with a girl named Paz. He fell out screaming “Paz, sigue me” until he was claimed by the depths, gurgling “Paz, sig…” as his last words. We end up wondering about things like cultural context. I always thought that the Pasig River has something to do with the native word “dalampasigan.” However, the story of tragic love is certainly fanciful and conjures up an image that’s most likely to inspire poets and artists.

Children born in this country shouldn’t grow up with just mainstream fairy tales. They should know these old folk stories as well. It’s all part of the tapestry of our culture and demonstrates the Filipino penchant for storytelling. Some of these stories predate the invention of writing and yet they’ve survived this long. We can’t let them die now. Do yourself a favour and

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read up on some old native tales one of these days. You might be surprised at just how interesting they are.

Election Fever

election

 

The recent Senate elections have proven to be particularly polarizing for the country. From social media to the streets, everyone is eager to express their opinion. The news is flooded with the latest tally of results and commercial breaks overflow with commercials endorsing candidates with cheesy jingles and campaign promises. It’s practically a circus reminiscent of the chaos described in the film Chicago as Richard Gere croons “Razzle Dazzle.” “How can they see with sequins in their eyes?” It’s hard to know how to cast your vote with earworm melodies in your ears, a surplus of campaign posters outnumbering any for a blockbuster, and free t-shirts being shoved into your hands. You’re being dragged every which way with sweet promises to go with the jarring jingles. In all this mess, it’s hard to tell what’s true.

Talking to friends, classmates, and co-workers only further complicates matters. People tend to gravitate toward those who share their opinions so arguments are bound to

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erupt when you’re not rooting for the same candidate. Alongside the conflict between the candidates, we find ourselves in conflict with the people we regularly interact with. This tends to be the case whenever people congregate to discuss matters they happen to be passionate about. Over the course of election season, some people just find it hard to live and let live, looking to sway the opinions of stubborn peers only to be met with a brick wall. This is probably why politics is a hot button issue most people hesitate to touch. It just gets hard to ignore when everything around you is saturated with it though.

This extends to the social media sphere with comments and posts in excess that involve political opinion. It’s not uncommon to see threads between “friends” descend into bickering once politics comes up. Memes are a dime a dozen as well with photos of candidates being subject to Photoshop both for the sake of laughs and propaganda. The political circus out on the street is wild but it could be argued that the circus on the web is just as wild if not wilder. The factor of anonymity is thrown into the mix so people are far more frank while bordering on hateful. As much as people dislike Nancy Binay for propagating a political dynasty and lacking experience, must the line really be crossed to poke fun of her personal appearance? It just goes to show how thick your skin has to be if you even want to consider politics.

Once the senate is elected, there’s no doubt that there will be grumbling over both the winners and losers. If you voted, you have some right to your discontent. After all, you did your part to fill those seats with who you believed to be the right choice. If you didn’t, you’ve surrendered your entitlement to whine about it. Just keep in mind that after a few months, the circus will die down. The airwaves will be back to carrying their regularly scheduled ads and the streets will lose their political clutter. Until then, sit tight and let the fever burn itself out.

Trekking on Tumblr

 

takei

Tumblr is proving to be quite a versatile form of social media. With its focus on sharing images, it affords users a chance to tell stories through pictures. From memes to images that evoke nostalgia from decades gone by, there’s practically nothing you won’t be able to find on Tumblr. Sometimes, images even gain a new dimension as users add captions to it, giving it an entirely new meaning. GIFs featuring moving images evoke an era gone by. It’s like the silent films of early cinema have come back into fashion in this digital age. Based on all these wonders, it’s not surprising that celebrities would be attracted to this platform. It’s a lot less mundane than Twitter.

One celebrity who has recently joined Tumblr is George Takei, an actor most famous for his role of Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series. He’s also well-known for promoting equality as a member of the LGBT community. The man’s a hero both onscreen and off-screen. With the recent buzz around the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek franchise reboot, his Tumblr is a nice little glimpse into a man who helped turn the sci-fi series into a cultural phenomenon. Besides, there’s a certain joy that comes with his quirky sense of humour along with the excitement that he may very well end up re-blogging one of your posts.

The first thing you’ll notice about George Takei’s Tumblr is his love of puns. He makes a point of posting many images with witty lines of his own. For instance, a picture of Barack Obama photo-shopped to look like a classical musician features the line “An instant classic.” He also posts a picture of an action figure Thor accompanied by “Here’s to a Lo-ki Friday, friends.” Two horses kissing in a meme marked “A stable relationship” gets Takei to quip “Just a little horsing around.” It’s his cleverness made short and sweet while accompanied by visuals. Once you click on his Tumblr, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself scrolling through for hours. It’s definitely a great way to pass the time while waiting to see the latest Star Trek.

Dumbing Down with a Dub?

TV5 Para Sayo Kapatid

 

TV5 has recently started airing English films dubbed in Filipino in an effort to make them more accessible to local audiences. At first glance, this appears to be a commendable act in order to provide entertainment to a wider range of people. It helps more Filipinos get in touch with films outside the local scene. It’s a glimpse into cultures other than our own by making them more understandable via our native tongue. Foreign material is altered for local consumption thus providing a new outlet to gain more knowledge about the rest of the world. Surely, there can’t be anything wrong with that.

Well, the intentions are good but you know what they say about the path to hell. The ad campaign that accompanies these dubs is proving to be problematic in terms of depicting its target audience. TV5’s ads to promote their dubbed films involve a man watching television in English. As he watches, he ends up increasingly confused by the words spoken by the characters on-screen. As a result, he ends up suffering from a nosebleed due to the intensity of his befuddlement. His affliction is only relieved when TV5 shows the same film in Filipino thus permitting him to understand what’s happening.

This is a problem because it depicts the viewer as being illiterate to some degree. It assumes that most viewers aren’t smart enough to comprehend English movies. This just isn’t true. The Philippines is an Asian country that can actually boast of a high proficiency in the English language. Ad campaigns like this serve to undermine that great achievement of the nation. It encourages people to settle for dubs rather than helping to expose them to a means toward gaining more English vocabulary. Anyone trying to learn a new language knows that the best way to do it is through osmosis. Aside from language lessons, it helps to listen to music, watch TV and read books in the language you’re trying to learn. These dubs tend to discourage this type of learning.

Aside from that, it’s an insult trying to pass itself off as a gag. It assumes that most of the audience don’t understand English and have no interest in doing so. The audience is supposedly so averse to English that trying to comprehend it makes their noses bleed. Their entertainment has to be chewed up first before it can be fed to them. They’re too dumb to process it otherwise. It’s a case of the media mandating what the masses are fit to consume. It has decided that films in English are too much for our poor brains to handle so it’s altered them to be easier for us to digest. Never mind the fact that Filipinos have been watching films in English for decades without complaint.

The lesson to be learned here is that many of us need to learn not to just take what the media feeds us. We should be responsible for our enjoyment rather than simply have them decide what we would enjoy. This is why the internet is a godsend. It allows for discussion on polarizing matters like these. Where do you stand on this particular matter? To dub or not to dub?

Micro-blogging Isn’t As Small As The Name Suggests

twitter_bird_380

 

In the first decade of this new millennium, we find ourselves on the brink of massive change. Advances in new media have been made beyond our wildest dreams. The response? To dream wilder. Computers, cellular phones, high-definition television and many others mark this decade as one of notable progress. But these are merely devices; what about their intended purpose? Communication is central to many of these hallmarks of technological progress. Consider what some may perceive as an average evening in the United States: You can watch American Idol on Fox, make your vote using your cellphone (probably powered by AT&T) then later use your laptop to tweet your thoughts on the episode in one concise statement. The tweet’s relevance is subject to question though. Just how important are your thoughts on the entertainment you consume? Does reducing that thought to a length of 140 characters reduce the meaning behind the thought? What is tweeting or, to use a broader term, micro-blogging? How does it impact the world of technology and communication as we know it today?

 

Let’s start with a definition. According to the Macmillan Online Dictionary, micro-blogging is “putting short updates such as brief texts, photos etc. on a personal blog, especially by using a mobile phone or instant messaging software.” It’s classified as a “buzz word” or “a word that has become very popular, especially a word relating to a particular activity or subject.” From this, one can surmise that micro-blogging is a fairly new term for an activity that has reached popularity only recently. Macmillan goes on to briefly detail the word’s background by breaking it down into

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its two component words for the sake of etymology. “Micro” means small while “blog” is short for “weblog” or “online journal.” The latter concept was conceived in the early nineties with the advent of the internet we know today. (Macmillan 2011) With this in mind, we can clearly see that micro-blogging’s ancestor is less than two decades old and already spawning. Technology has its roots firmly entrenched in its consuming public and is branching out with new tendrils every day. We’ve gone from diaries for our eyes alone to blogs for an online audience to micro-blogs for instant gratification in disseminating our opinions. It seems our voices get louder as technology makes it easier for us to be heard.

 

But what is the nature of this new-found voice? What is micro-blogging to the average person? Now that we’ve broken it down into its simplest essence through the dictionary definition, I present here my anecdotal definition. As I see it, micro-blogging is a more personal method of communication in that it tends to be more impulsive. A single sentence escapes one’s fingers far more easily than several paragraphs. If one has certain feelings, a single burst comprised of 140 characters (perhaps rife with typos and shorthand misspellings) is far easier to manage and post than a blog entry comprised of a multitude of thoughts in hundreds (maybe even thousands) of words. With the latter, one is forced to introspect and ponder, to re-read and analyze. Is this really fit to post? However, with a micro-blog entry, one simply hits send upon finishing the sentence, almost as if to punctuate it. “Send” is the new “period.” Indeed, errors might add to what makes a micro-blog more personal. This is a heat of the moment impulse thought presented raw with mistakes and all.

 

However, more personal as it may be, does it get the message across better than a blog entry that’s been thought out? Blogging versus micro-blogging can actually be seen as analogous to letter-writing versus e-mailing in this way. It takes time and patience to compose blog entries and handwritten letters while e-mailing and micro-blogging offer instant gratification. There’s also a contradiction here though. While both e-mailing and micro-blogging offer instant gratification, the latter is far more personal. Why is this so?

 

First, let’s look at the eldest of these forms of correspondence. In the letter, your penmanship is a concern along with the choice of words and the frequency of error. When writing out a letter by hand, it’s common for people to first compose a rough draft. From that rough draft, a final draft is copied out which lacks all the mistakes present in the rough version. There’s no backspace key when it comes to putting pen to paper. Then, when it’s time to mail your letter, it can take days, weeks or even months to reach its destination. The effort in producing a letter is palpable and therein we find the personal appeal. It’s a form of one on one correspondence that transmits a willingness to exercise effort for the receiving party.

 

On the other hand, e-mailing is much faster. Once you hit send, your message is now in your intended recipient’s inbox. It doesn’t matter if they’re in the next room sharing your wi-fi connection or on the other side of the planet; the amount of time it takes for your message to come to them is the same. Though some actually do put in the effort to spell correctly in their e-mails, the norm (as I’ve experienced it) is to treat it as a less formal medium of communication unless one is corresponding with an authority figure. Text-speak and typos are common especially when an e-mail is rushed. There’s no personal touch brought by penmanship when one simply selects a font. So this begs the question: how does micro-blogging, despite being faster than e-mail, somehow end up being more personal? What sets it apart from the standard blog format?

 

We’ll have to first look at the blog before we can arrive at an answer. In a blog entry, one is essentially writing a diary entry for the public. Though certain web platforms offer you the option of locking an entry to a select few individuals, what you write here is still intended for some form of public consumption. Most blog entries tend to be comprised of at least one paragraph; a far cry from the character limits one finds in micro-blogging. In fact, one could say there is no word limit to a blog entry. You can go at length about a certain topic with no end in sight should you wish it. But is it enough to hold attention? Most of the time, when people surf the internet, they tend to simply scan over a text rather than truly assimilate. In this way, the impact of your thoughts may be deadened. If your intended audience’s attention span isn’t focused, your message is unlikely to get across.

 

Going back to our earlier query about why micro-blogging is more personal and likely to get across to readers as opposed to a blog entry or an e-mail, we can surmise that the answer lies in impulse control, length and audience. When one is micro-blogging, the words come easily because one must be concise. Hardly is there ever a spell-check function or an option to change fonts to distract you from the words you wish to post. You simply type what you think and hit send. In a way, it can be comparable to instant messaging or text messaging where you find yourself speaking to the other party directly. Micro-blogging feels like a conversation as opposed to simple blogging which feels like you’re putting your thoughts up for peer evaluation. With its short length, micro-blogs aren’t difficult to read. You can go through hundreds of tweets on someone’s Twitter feed over the span of a single hour. In this way, the audience is compelled. Rather than becoming bombarded by a wall of text, they see information in manageable chunks and thus have an easier time focusing.

 

But what about e-mail? Aren’t they similarly short at times? Don’t they also fulfill instant gratification in being easy to send and receive? Yes, but e-mails tend to fulfill a different need than a micro-blog. With a micro-blog, you are writing for an audience. With an e-mail, you are writing a brief one-on-one correspondence like a text message. Writing for one just doesn’t fulfill the same social expectations as writing for many. In an e-mail, one can perhaps revive the length of the usual letter format and fill it with one’s emotions but then we come to the same problem we have with blog entries: length that requires more attention to focus on. In the end, micro-blogs are more personal than e-mails because they encourage impulsiveness and do so with an audience watching. It’s a new kind of digital exhibitionism.

 

But, as we all have already learned when it comes to technology, new doesn’t necessarily mean “good.” Micro-blogging is something users must be responsible with. After all, since it appears to be a license to be impulsive, one is now more likely to post something one might regret. A harsh Tweet can’t be taken back easily. Sure, you can delete it but there’s that saying about things on the internet being there forever. One can say that the same standard for even the simplest form of communication applies here. Think before you speak or, to be more apt, think before you Tweet. You never know who’s watching on a social network. You just might put off future employers and ruin your chances at an excellent opportunity. That’s the power of 140 characters. Micro-blog responsibly.

 

 

 

 

A New Foreign Correspondent for the New Millennium

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In our rapidly changing world, there is now a growing reliance on social media and other mobile technologies. These developments have made being a foreign correspondent more of a challenge. No longer are they the same as they were in the 20th century. In the 21st century, we

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don’t have just men of action out on the field. No, women are out there, too. They’re competently gathering the latest happenings on foreign lands in the same fashion as their male counterparts. On top of that, the foreign correspondent doesn’t necessarily need to be on foreign soil to perform their duties anymore. No, they can actually gather information from the comfort of their own home. What kind of developments are these? Are they to the advantage or detriment of this profession?

 

The answer is: it depends. New doors are opening for those who would not have found a job in this field long ago. You don’t have to be middle class or higher to perform the tasks expected of a foreign correspondent. Even those who aren’t as well-off can do this job provided they have computer access. With a phone that can connect to the internet, you can easily catch the action as it happens and immediately upload it. People all over the world will then be able to see it. Isn’t that what foreign correspondence is in a nutshell? Taking a story and sharing it with an international audience? Now that’s possible for anyone who has the technology.

 

At the same time these doors are opening, other doors are closing. This job is not as easy as it used to be. You can’t be pampered when it comes to deadlines. After all, you’re competing with the internet for speed and, more often than not, the internet will beat you when it comes to a scoop. If you think you’ve got an exclusive on a story, you better check Twitter first. It may already be a trending hash tag before you can type the first word for your newspaper. The world travels at the speed of information and foreign correspondents have trouble keeping up. They shouldn’t be trying to. Trying to keep up with the internet in the information race is like trying to race a train to the station. It’s far more productive to hop on the train and let it take you where you need to go. Foreign correspondents need to use the internet instead of fighting against it. In this way, they’ll be able to meet more deadlines at a faster pace.

 

There’s now a wealth of information available to support any story. It’s not like back in the old days where the foreign correspondent might be the sole authority on a particular current event in another country. It’s far easier to check the Twitter accounts of people who actually live in the nation being covered as opposed to paying for the airfare of a foreign correspondent whose coverage may be out of date by the time he arrives. This curtails the independence of a foreign correspondent these days. It makes deadlines tighter.

 

There’s also an increasing reliance on locals outside the press bureau in the country one is covering. The news isn’t just at the press bureau. If you really want a scoop, you have to go out there and get it. To get a true exclusive that doesn’t feature content already available on the internet, you really have to put yourself out there. That means learning the language of the country or at least bringing a local contact along to serve as an interpreter. In this way, you get your information straight from the source. It’s going to be raw information that can’t be found anywhere else. This will definitely be an advantage as 21st century correspondent.

 

You have to be careful about where you get your information from though. A foreign correspondent lives in a glass house. All your facts can easily be checked with a single click of a mouse. Everything you do is transparent so the public can see every move you make. Now, more than ever, you need to get your facts straight. If you’re caught delivering half-truths, your career could end in a snap.

The foreign correspondent of the 21st century can’t be too specialized. In fact, they have to fit the bill as a Jack or Jill of all trades. As a foreign correspondent of this century, you have to be capable as a staff of one. That means having skills like writing, live reporting and video editing in your arsenal. You write your own report and read it in front of a camera that you set up on your own. Afterwards, you edit the resulting footage. If you can do that, you can become indispensable to your bureau. After all, most news bureaus are looking to cut down on expenses. It would be a boon to them if they only had to pay one salary instead of three.

 

The trick to becoming a foreign correspondent today is to be adaptable. You have to be ready to take the lead if resources are lacking. Don’t have a camera? Use the camera on your phone to take the footage. In this day and age, you should use technology to your advantage rather than fight it. Tweet those pictures immediately. It’s not uncommon for journalists to keep Twitters now. It’s a good way to give immediate up to the minute coverage at minimal cost. The trick is not to fear social media but to master it.

 

In the end, the foreign correspondent of the 21st century knows no gender, class or race. Anyone can step into this field and that is not something to be feared. It’s something to be celebrated since it extends more opportunities to everyone. It also encourages foreign correspondents to learn more skills. This leads to self-enrichment in the long run. All in all, the future is bright for aspiring foreign correspondents. They just need to adapt and the world will accept them with open arms and a wide smile.

 

Timing is Everything

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There are a lot of old quotes and proverbs about time. Time is gold. Time is money. It makes it seem like time is the most precious commodity there is. After all, when you run out of it, you die. Time decides how hard you work and how much money you make in those hours. It determines your biology as it takes its toll on your body. This is likely why people find the concept of time travel so fascinating. It’s a matter of cheating death and bending the laws of physics to look at a point in history before one existed or after one is supposed to have died. It’s a way to change the course of events if your life has dealt you a bad hand. After all, how many of us have wanted to go back in time to fix a mistake or go to the future because we’re not satisfied with the present?

Science fiction is definitely not short on time travel when it comes to its plots. Star Trek has been doing it for decades. The most recent Star Trek film even has time travel as a major plot point with the primary antagonist travelling back in time to destroy the planet Vulcan and enact revenge on our intrepid band of heroes. Of course, we’re keeping it purposely vague here for the sake of those who have yet to see the film. If you haven’t, it’d be a good idea to do so soon since a sequel is set to be released in May.

Speaking of sequels, the Men in Black franchise has never shied away from science fiction tropes. In fact, MIB 3 uses time travel as a driving force behind its plot. We get to meet a young Agent K in the sixties and marvel at how Josh Brolin handles Tommy Lee Jones’s role with much aplomb.  Again, this is another film with a major plot twist regarding how time travel is used. This seems to be a trend in fiction that makes use of changing the past. Just know that you’re sure to enjoy this flick if you’re a fan of seeing younger versions of well-beloved characters.

And, of course, we have to go back to the timelessness of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine which likely inspired a lot of today’s science fiction using time travel as a plot device. Our intrepid hero travels to the future only to discover that humanity has destroyed itself through hedonism and a ferocious species living underground serves to hunt down the evolved humans who seek nothing more than to spend their days lost to pleasure. It’s a dystopia and it definitely puts things into perspective about what we may become once we cease to innovate. Could “dusty death” be ahead for humanity? Anything is possible. Though we can’t travel through time to change the past, we can try to predict the future and change it if we feel we are headed in the wrong direction. Don’t long for the past or yearn for the future. Live the present wisely and the years to come will be bright.

Cooking 2.0

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With the internet’s evolution, the way we do many things has evolved as well. For instance, sharing recipes has never been easier than it is today. Websites are devoted to trading the secrets of old family feasts. Now everyone can enjoy the morcon you grandmother makes at Christmas. You can also get a taste for the fried chicken as made by someone else’s dear mother. Culinary wisdom is now reaching a wider audience than ever before. Recipes handed down through generations are now being immortalized through the power of the web thus ensuring deliciousness for many more years to come. Of course, this comes through various media as well. Online cooking shows are a growing trend and they’ve served to diversify the palates of every netizen.

Take for example the YouTube channel “Cooking with Dog.” At first glance, you may be horrified at the potential connotations implied by that title. Don’t worry. There’s no dog meat being served up here. It’s a show dedicated to displaying Japanese cuisine and quirkiness while teaching you how to cook food from the Land of the Rising Sun. The show is hosted by a poodle named Francis or so the voiceover claims. A Japanese woman cooks the dishes as Francis the Poodle points out ingredients and narrates each step in English. It’s a sight that has to be seen to be believed.

For people who are into an assortment of fandoms, Feast of Fiction may be right up your alley. Every week, two intrepid cooks venture on a quest to recreate your favourite fictional foods. Thus far they’ve tackled lamb stew from The Hunger Games, butter beer from Harry Potter, lemon cakes and milk of the poppy from Game of Thrones, drink me potion from Alice and Wonderland and an assortment of other edible curiosities that exist in the imagination. Each video shows the procedure in detail while the hosts clearly demonstrate they’re having a good time. In fact, their video for bacon pancakes from Adventure Time is done entirely as a song.

Of course, if you’re more hard core about experimenting in the kitchen, there’s something for you as well. Epic Meal Time is not for the weak at heart. They take high cholesterol food and mash it up to create even more radical unhealthy meals. This is not the channel to click on if you’re vegetarian or on a diet. They do things with bacon that many may not even have considered to be possible. Fast food onion rings in French onion soup? Yes, that’s how they roll. Click with caution. They’re not shy about wasting food either. It’s a testament to gluttony.

Just know that you’ll never be short on meal ideas while clicking around YouTube. There’s always something new and exciting you can whip up. Have your friends help you out for the ultimate culinary bonding experience. After all, a meal is always better when it’s shared. Be adventurous in your gastronomic endeavours. To quote Francis the Poodle, good luck in the kitchen.

A Frosty Future

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Cryonics is a popular plot device in science fiction. This was the method used by Mr Freeze to keep his wife alive in Batman. In Prometheus, the sleep capsules used some form of cryonics for interstellar space travel. The film Moon also makes use of cryonics though there’s a twist on how it plays into the plot and you should probably read no further if you’re trying to avoid spoilers. The film is a true tour de force when it comes to Sam Rockwell’s acting. It’s practically a one man cast in the same vein as Will Smith’s performance in I Am Legend. Think wisely before spoiling it for yourself since you’ll be missing out.

To start things off let’s take a look at Mr Freeze and his role in the Batman films.  One of his defining points is the fact that he keeps his wife, Nora Fries, frozen until a cure can be found for the disease she’s suffering from. This is actually a viable use for cryonics that medical professionals are trying to implement. If you suffer from incurable cancer now, technology is in development to freeze your body so you can hibernate until a cure is found. Sadly, that technology isn’t quite within our reach yet but it’s good to know that it’s under development. It just goes to show hoe technology develops after fiction does it first.

Prometheus also makes use of some form of cryonics for long distance space travel. The crew of the Prometheus ends up in stasis pods so they won’t have to eat or experience aging over the course of the long journey. One can clearly see why this is a practical course of action. It cuts down on the use of resources as well as potential waste. On top of that, it decreases the time in which our space travellers are exposed to the potential threat of disease or injury. They don’t age so a journey of a hundred years will be merely a blink of an eye to them. It’s ideal for travelling long distances that might take several lifetimes to traverse.

And now we have Moon. If you’ve read this far, you obviously don’t mind spoilers. Moon user cryonics to store clones. The protagonist is actually a clone of the original person in charge of operations. The system on the moon has it so every time a clone falls ill, he is told he is “going home” and put in a stasis pod. In truth, that stasis pod is incinerated and a new clone is released to replace him, bearing the same memories of the original. It just goes to show how this technology has a dark side. Will we use it responsibly? Only time will tell.

These are just a few examples of cryonics in sci-fi. It’s a pretty popular plot device due to the multitude of ways it can be utilized and the fact that it’s plausible just adds to its appeal. Do your favourite sci-fi films feature cryonics?

After the Explosion

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The bombing at the Boston marathon last April 15, 2013 has left the United States reeling.  It’s said to be the worst attack on US soil since September 11, 2001. The casualties and injuries are far less than 9/11 though. It is reported that three people were killed and 183 were wounded. This is a stark contrast to the thousands killed during September 11 but it’s clear to see why such a disaster would be a cause for concern to the United States. It targeted a major sporting event where a crowd had congregated thus displaying a malicious intent toward murder and harm. The outrage that followed this act is more than logical.

After the attack, grief over the tragedy was apparent. However, the fortitude of the American people was also on display. Investigations to discover the responsible parties were immediately underway. It just goes to show how the human spirit won’t be felled. After all, this disaster occurred at a sporting event which is the very definition of human triumph over difficulty. A marathon is not an easy thing to run and yet so many choose to participate in it to push themselves to the limit. The bombs may have tried to destroy this Boston tradition but it appears as if all its done is united the community further in adversity.

People all over the world sympathize with the victims in Boston just as Americans have sympathized with them in the wake of their own disasters.  There’s nothing like a disaster to bring people together regardless of race, sex, or beliefs. We all agree about the senselessness of human lives being ended far too soon in violence. We all agree that no country should have to suffer something of this magnitude. It’s not just news sensationalism. It’s a matter of showing that bad things happen to good people so we should be all on alert and watch out for each other.

Social media is definitely one outlet where this attitude of support is really apparent. Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are all abuzz about these recent events. People are checking up on friends and relatives. Even strangers are using this as a form of communication to help warn people in Boston who may not be aware of the imminent threat now that a manhunt is underway. Due to the threat of potential shootouts, homes and businesses are now on lockdown and people are on social media talking to each other to help keep each other calm. It just goes to show how the advances of the digital age can help in trying times.

The bombings may be over but there’s still much left to be done. Suspects still need to be brought to justice and Boston needs to heal from this trauma. However, the world has faith that all this will pass. The good thing about humanity is it gets up no matter how many times you knock it down. Before long, this tragedy will be just a memory of how adversity and disaster was overcome by the strength of the human spirit.

Apocalypse Then

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Science fiction has already visualized many ways in which the world might end. Meteor strikes are fairly popular. After all, Armageddon and Deep Impact came out in the same year. Both stories are eerily similar. A meteor is hurtling toward Earth and a ragtag band of astronauts has to intervene to save the world. Granted, Armageddon is likely a bit more popular due to the involvement of Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler along with its Aerosmith theme song “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” NASA actually uses this film in astronaut training to see how many inaccuracies might be spotted by those aspiring to fly into space. The record thus far stands at 168 impossibilities.

It seems we’re all obsessed with how the world might end. We keep predicting it and it doesn’t come to pass. We thought it would end in the year 2000 and it didn’t happen. We thought it would happen again in 2012 and, again, our predictions were off the mark. One might wonder how we’ll watch the film “2012” about a decade from now. Will we be seeking out the scientific inaccuracies in it, too? The notion of sudden spontaneous earthquakes and a sort of Noah’s ark reserved for mostly the rich is rather telling of the times when the film was made. The economy had just crashed and it showed up on the big screen as the rich crushing the poor when the apocalypse came along.

Contrast this with the nineties and Terminator. Class struggle isn’t really at the forefront in these films. It’s more optimistic about averting Judgement Day. We have a hero in the form of a young boy who tames the savage robotic threat from the future and turns it against its original purpose. Terminator is a bit more hopeful about what’s to come if you choose to ignore the most recent film featuring Christian Bale. Our viewpoints on the end of the world tend to shift based on what’s currently happening around us. Cinema changes to give us something that reflects our current world view.

Just look at Alien. The past Alien films have a saviour in the form of Ellen Ripley but the world is mostly decimated and it’s pretty much a bad future. The film was released in 1979 and it’s one of the first times we have a heroine at the forefront of an action flick that’s gone on to be a blockbuster. It reflects the change we’ve seen in attitudes toward women during that time. When the world finds itself on the brink of ending, a woman’s there to save it. This is turned on its head in Prometheus where Elizabeth Shaw appears to open Pandora’s box thus releasing the horrors that Ellen Ripley will eventually have to deal with. It feels like a step back but it also reflects the culture of this decade where women have to deal with blundering even as they rise to power. Men had their blunders too but women seem to draw more scrutiny.

The fictional face of the apocalypse is always changing. How will the world end next? All we can do is wait and see. Maybe some of us may even get to write it.

 

Page-turning in a New Age

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Not long ago, walking around with a small flat TV screen that fits in your hands was the stuff of science fiction. In fact, the gadget was featured in Star Trek episodes as an item known as the PADD. Now we have the PADD in real form via the iPad and an assortment of other tablet PCs like the Samsung Galaxy and the Google Nexus. It’s strange to think that Windows 95 kids now have a lot more digital power at their fingertips than they could ever have fathomed back when they first touched a computer. There’s a lot of impact tablet PCs are having on already established technologies and that includes certain things that have been around for centuries.

E-books are a fairly new development and yet they are taking the world by storm. It’s a lot easier to just download a book rather than walking all the way to the bookstore to buy a hard copy. It’s a lot cheaper, too. In some cases, it’s even free thanks to privacy. You can’t compete with free. In the United States, this is why bookstores are on the decline. Borders Bookstore recently went out of business and some might say that e-books are to blame. Now that the market is leaning more toward e-books, there’s less opportunity for people who sell hard copies to make a viable profit.

This is not to say that e-books are likely to wipe out books completely. Naysayers said television would kill radio and that didn’t happen. Looking at it in the context of books, it’s unlikely that they’ll be going the way of the dinosaurs any time soon. After all, books have been around for centuries. They don’t require electrical power. You can drop them from a great height without fear of seeing them shatter to pieces. In

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user-friendliness, they don’t require a manual at all. Books are timeless and e-books are merely another incarnation of them. They won’t be absolutely replacing their predecessor any time soon.

E-books come with the convenience of less cost. There’s also something incredibly appealing about touching your fingers to a pane of glass and watching the page turn beneath it when you’re reading on a tablet PC. You feel like you’re touching the future. The novelty does wear off though if you have a tablet PC that’s in the habit of hanging. Sometimes, the pages just don’t turn fast enough. Sometimes, the e-book glitches and turns to previous pages even as you try to move forward. Technology has yet to perfectly replicate the joy of a real book despite some added convenience. There’s opportunity cost at play here with certain losses despite benefits gained.

How does one prefer to turn pages in this new age? Are you more traditional, preferring the scent of old paper and the roughness of it on your fingertips? Or do you like the sleekness of glass at your touch as your words are lit up as pixels on a screen that used to merely be the stuff of our imaginations?

The Breast of Sci-Fi

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If you’re a lady who happens to be spending your winter in Istanbul, you may run across a curious winter drink known as Boza.  It’s a fermented concoction said to enhance one’s breasts without the aid of chemicals. The drink is supposedly 100% natural and has been around since 9000 BC. Now that’s definitely a piece of history. The drink is described as having an “acidic sweet” flavour and contains just a smidge of alcohol. It has a thick texture and is made primarily of malt and fermented grains. Based on this second-hand account, it would probably be an acquired taste to any who choose to try it for the first time. It’s heavy on lactic acid which may explain why it has its claimed properties. The drink used to be preferred by ancient armies though. It just goes to show how times change. Now, it’s the women who prefer to imbibe the drink and they take it for completely different reasons than the armies who chugged it for nourishment. One would think that such a thing would be the stuff of fantasy or science fiction. After all, both genres aren’t short on well-endowed women. It could even be argued that these genres have contributed to this particular body image issue

In Star Trek: Voyager, the former borg known as Seven of Nine wears a skin-tight catsuit that shows off her curves. It seems that even in the future, a full figure is something that draws the eye. It definitely didn’t hurt ratings when Jeri Ryan walked around in her slick costume. What does this say about the pop culture of the nineties though? We’re moving backwards through the decades. Starting off with the curiosity drawn by a natural breast enhancer in this decade, we glance at the past and see how our visions of the fictional future impacted our current point of view.

1990 brought us Total Recall which, despite its name, isn’t all that memorable in a lot of aspects. Most people remember it for featuring a prostitute with three breasts. Numerous pop culture references have been made to this glorified extra. She’s even included in the 2012 remake featuring Colin Farrell. Again, here’s a vision of the future rife with objectified women who aren’t even human. Why do we see the future in this manner? Why is this one scene that particularly sticks out in the minds of moviegoers? Is it because it’s both seductive and repulsive at the same time? Because we wonder how other human beings could come up with something like this and put it on the silver screen?

Princess Leia’s bikini from Return of the Jedi is iconic for a reason.  It might be cheating to call Star Wars “the future” since it happened “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” but you get the point. Even imaginary races end up taking on our traits and it’s not quite clear if this should be disconcerting. To put things in perspective, think of it this way: women are in a tizzy over breast enhancement and pop culture is a factor in that. Why else would a drink like Boza draw so much attention?

April Follies

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April 1st means an abundance of pranks from all over the world. The internet was definitely one of the platforms where pranks were most prevalent. It allowed for tomfoolery on a global scale. Gone are the days when pranks are limited to merely shocking a member of your family or friends circle. Now, you can go on the web and potentially let millions fall victim to your sense of humour. This was definitely the state of mind when more than a few prominent websites saw fit to either amuse or panic the people who used their services for this one holiday.

Google decided to go old school in the digital age by introducing a new “treasure map” feature for Google Maps. By clicking on this feature, one would be able to view a version of Google Maps that looked like an old treasure map drawn in ink on old paper. That isn’t the only trick Google had up its sleeve with this map though. If you were to choose to zoom into South Korea and look at its Gangnam district, you would be greeted with a tiny image of Psy in his novelty dance pose. Definitely not something from hundreds of years ago, but it’s a nice touch.

When it came to Facebook, those following HBO’s Game of Thrones on the social media outlet were in for a nasty shock. A prank article announced that they were replacing Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister with Warwick Davis who famously played Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter franchise along with an adorable alien Ewok in Star Wars. If someone were to actually read the article, it would be immediately apparent that it’s a prank. Those who chose to read just the title though ended up immensely frustrated and horrified until they realized it was a prank. A flood of angry Facebook comments commenced until the hoax was officially admitted the next day.

YouTube also announced that it was shutting down much to the shock of many users who were unaware of the date. The video basically announced that YouTube would be offline until 2023 while they selected a winner for “best video” on the website. The humour in this is obvious but people hearing from second-hand sources probably weren’t immediately aware of the nature of the joke. The creativity used by YouTube in conveying the spirit of the holiday is far from surprising. They’ve been a bastion of creativity for ages and several YouTube users made their fair share of pranks through the site.

There seems to be something for every prankster on the web.  What pranks did you run across on April 1st? Were you fooled by any in particular? Did you participate in any pranks of your own? Share your experiences with April Fools’ Day!

Winter on Easter

 

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Easter Sunday is set to be a momentous day for more reasons than just egg hunts. For fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the long wait for the third season is about to come to an end. Winter is coming for your TV screens no matter how brightly the sun happens to be shining. The Starks return to rant about climate change and dodge impending doom along with the rest of the colourful cast. Dragons and lions and direwolves, oh my. It’s best to go into the show free of spoilers to fully feel the impact of the massive twists so we will not be going into much of the plot here. Instead, we’ll be keeping with the theme of Sci-fi Sunday and putting a fantasy twist on it by trying to figure out how certain elements in the show would work in the real world.

The manner of the planet where the show is set has been the subject of much discussion. Westeros is one of many continents on this world and it experiences winters and summers that last for years. How is this feasible from a scientific perspective? George R. R. Martin mostly just explains it as magic but that doesn’t deter fans from trying to figure out. At least fans seem to have gotten to the bottom of how long a year is in Westeros. They speculate that it lasts roughly the same as an Earth year of twelve months. As for the months, those are determined by the lunar cycles. The calendar is pretty much cracked. It’s the seasons that require more speculation. Does Westeros experience short term ice ages followed by regular climate? Fans speculate that perhaps the planet has a strange axial tilt that shifts around due to the gravitational pull of a distant star. Unfortunately, astrophysics is far more complicated than saying “it’s magic” so we may never get a conclusive answer.

The flora and fauna are interesting though. They have “winter roses” that are blue and bloom in the frost. Direwolves are an actual species that existed on Earth during the ice age. Mammoths are mentioned as well along with shadowcats that are striped and may be analogous to Earth’s extinct saber-toothed tigers. These animals are entirely feasible in the context of our world’s past so it’s nice to see a shout-out to them. As for the roses, there are flowers that are known to survive the frost like “snowdrops” so again we have something within the realm of possibility in Earth’s nature. For a fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire seems intent on clinging to plausibility when it can. This probably adds to the charm of the narrative. It blurs the line between fantasy and reality rather than just hitting us with pure fantasy. This is probably because George

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R. R. Martin has background as a science fiction author. In a way, he’s managed to marry the two genres in a seamless manner through his most popular work. When you sit back to watch the Game of Thrones season 3 premiere, try looking into the details of the world and you might be surprised at how much of it is actually possible.

Wholly Weak

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It’s not unusual to feel rather small during holy week if you’re particularly invested in the religious aspect of it. We’re “wholly weak” in comparing the little sacrifices we make for the sake of penance to the trials and tribulations faced by the messiah. Of course, not everyone is religious but this week definitely lends itself to us as a time to reflect. School is out for most students and there’s no work to do. It seems some higher power is seeking to offer us reprieve and it’s up to us to use that time wisely. Though we may subscribe to “sacrifices” like giving up meat, it’s not exactly something that works for the modern age. In fact, seafood seems like an indulgence these days. It certainly costs more around this time of year.

Some people choose to sacrifice things that certainly aren’t prescribed in scripture but are far truer to the spirit of the season. A vegetarian who doesn’t eat meat on holy week doesn’t really count for much. However, someone addicted to Facebook who vows not to log-in during Lent understands what this week is really about. It’s something often discussed in priest’s homilies. Things have to be updated to suit the standards of the current century. One can only hope they apply the same perspective to reproductive health and marriage equality soon. Until then, we have to take the good with the bad. As old as the Church is, it’s still undergoing growing pains.

This is also going to be the first Easter with a newly ordained pope. Pope Francis is the first of his name and will hope to serve as a harbinger of change. He’s the first Latin American pope thus adding diversity to the Vatican. Times are changing swiftly but are they changing swiftly enough? Only time will tell as this new pope’s reign progresses. For now, we mostly tend to our own affairs and see what we can do to feel cleansed over the course of this sacred time. We draw strength from pushing the pause buttons on our lives and discovering ourselves during this short reprieve.

Holy week is a quiet time where one can walk the streets on a Black Saturday and get a feel for the post-apocalyptic. A majority of businesses are closed and the sidewalks and roads are mostly empty due to the exodus to provinces and vacation spots. It shows us just how small we all are in the scheme of things. Despite the surrounding emptiness, nature still runs its course. As a species, humans fail to realize how weak they truly are. Now is the time for a change of perspective for the sake of humbling one’s self. It really helps you look at the world with an unclouded point of view.

No matter your religion, try and take time to reflect this holy week. Evaluate you weaknesses so you can come out stronger. Learn the value of sacrifice and tolerance. In this way, you can build the strength to withstand most anything.

Fun and Function with Freeware

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It’s always a drag when you’ve just bought a new computer and have no idea what to install on it in order to maximize its usage. It’s even worse when you realize how much it will actually cost you to start loading your system with programs that will help you put it to good use. Piracy is an option but it’s not entirely safe and it skirts the law so you may end up paying a bigger price in the long run. Aside from that, you could very well end up infecting your new computer with malware from pirated software and this is the last thing you want to do. This is when freeware comes to the rescue. There’s actually a lot of software available on the internet that’s free and reliable for your personal use. Continue reading

Wrestling with Packaging

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The earrings I prefer tend to be the loud sort. Big and flashy. They also tend to have long, blunted points to them, almost needle-like. This is the means by which you attach the accessory to the hole pierced in one’s ear. Such are the simple mechanics of this accessory. In any case, having a semi-sharp object of this nature around has proved quite useful when facing a daily blight: TEAR HERE.

Bags of chips lie. Packaging lies. They say “tear here” and then, when you actually try to tear at the point specified, you find yourself wallowing in utter disappointment. The packaging leads you to believe that “tear here” indicates a weak point in the barrier you wish to penetrate on the way to sustenance. Nay, I say! Rare is the occasion when “tear here” actually reaps rewards. More often than not, I find myself seeking out scissors or going for more primal methods like the use of teeth. The latter tends to lead to disaster as the contents of the packaging spills out. It’s like watching an action hero

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run from an explosion in slow motion only less epic and more tragic. You find the contents you were so desperate to attain spilling onto the floor, no longer fit for consumption.

So earrings? I have a habit of taking mine off and toying with them in fits of boredom. I also have a habit of keeping a bag of chips lying around. The latter is a very bad habit. Convenient, but bad. But I’m digressing… In light of my frustration with packaging and noting that, decorative as they were, earrings were a sharp implement; I decided to try a little experiment. Taking the end of the stud usually used to pierce the hole in my ear, I punctured the foil pack with it and let the air out. This really didn’t accomplish much other than tell me how much of a rip-off chips truly are. The bag deflated to less than half its size. However, I resolved not to stop there and I took that earring and thrust it upwards into the whole creating a larger gash in the bag. Needless to say, I haven’t opened chip bags the same since. Practice safe packaging removal, kids! “Tear here” is a lie! Ladies out there now have a better way of dealing with hard to open chip bags. For the men, a straightened paper clip can likely perform the same feat so have no fear.

When it’s time to eat and you find yourself wishing not to soil your fingers, keep a pair of chopsticks on hand. It keeps you clean while also teaching you self-control while snacking. After all, it’s a lot harder to shovel chips in your mouth while wielding a pair of chopsticks. I highly recommend this for anyone going on a diet. Slower eating also means you get full faster thus killing your cravings more efficiently. What about you guys? Do you have any unorthodox ways to deal with mundane packaging and other problems?

It’s Good to Be a Freak: How Freakonomics Encouraged Social Change

The groundbreaking book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything offers a unique perspective to economics that brings a new dimension to it other than what we learned in the classroom. Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner make their subject of study fun and engaging to any reader. The former is an economist at the University of Chicago while the latter is journalist for the New York Times. Together, they wrote this book to reach out to the public and make economics more accessible by showing actual cases of it being used that are certainly relevant to everyday life. That’s definitely relevant to social change.

The book is divided into six chapters. The first deals with cheating but for two very different sectors of the population: school teachers and sumo wrestlers. The second chapter involves information control but we see yet another jarring difference in those they are applied to since the subject matter is applied on real estate agents and the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan. The third chapter tackles how drug dealing isn’t profitable leading many of those who practice it to still live with their mothers. The fourth chapter is seen as the most controversial. It deals with abortion and how its legalization apparently brings down crime rate. Fifth, we have how good parenting affects education. The final chapter talks about how the names parents give their children affect them later in life.

It’s already starting to sound like something drastically different from your economics textbook. Starling change came along when this book became a best seller for non-fiction. Suddenly all this knowledge was available to even laymen in economics. Suddenly all these controversial points of view were there for public consumption. There was obviously uproar over that fourth chapter. Levitt and Dubner weathered it and stood by what they had written.

Dubner and Levitt possess qualities which qualify them as change agents and those are apparent in their work. They took a subject matter that most consider mundane and turned it into a bestseller. Furthermore, they were not afraid to make a controversial claim knowing they had worked hard to provide data to back it up. They acted as producers and disseminators of knowledge. They provided a different point of view and helped others see the same way.

Levitt and Dubner are mavericks in this new age not because they published a bestseller but because they published a bestseller about a subject that seems unlikely to draw interest. Even better, despite criticism, they have actually released a sequel entitled Superfreakonomics showing that they are dedicated to their work despite what pundits have to say. Their fourth chapter on abortion got them in a lot of hot water but they made the best of it. They addressed criticism calmly and showed proof rather than act irrationally in defending their findings. For this reason, change arose instead of conflict and many of those who disagree with them actually have a grudging respect for them. Do you have tales of similar movers and shakers in this new millennium?

First Desserts

 

As a child, I was stupid. Some would say that I still am. I’m not inclined to argue with them on that matter since they might be right. Still, one has to concede that I’m not as intellectually deficient as I used to be. For example, unlike when I was five, I no longer see the appeal in scraping off the ice from the frost encrusted walls of the freezer and eating it. I think it might have something to do with the fact that my mother told me it was poisonous. Then again, I’m still alive today. Was she lying or did I just not eat enough of it?

Graduating from freezer wall ice, I then learned the delights of freezing juice foil packs, cutting them open and eating the contents by squeezing the resulting slush out. It wasn’t a favorite food of mine but I remember it because my sister and I found it so amusing. What else could we do? We didn’t have cable so we played with other appliances. Freezing things came in second only to sitting on a working washing machine and enjoying the butt vibrations.

We would take boxes full of juice packs and stuff as many of them as we could into the small freezer compartment. Apple, grape, orange, guyabano. You name the flavor, we’ve frozen it. We never ceased to be amazed at the resulting “ice cream.” Again, there goes my stupidity. How could it be ice cream? There was no cream.

And how did it taste? Well, it was sickly sweet at first. As you went on eating, it got more diluted. The first few slurps of the slush were guaranteed cavity bait. I suppose that’s where all the flavoring goes since once you get to the bottom of the pack, it might as well be water. I don’t understand the chemistry of this phenomenon but it gave us the dose of amusement we needed in a world without cable.

Though this juice freezing of ours was commonplace, one particular instance stands out. During a power outage in the middle of a storm, my sister and I “rescued” our slush from the freezers and ate it all before it could melt. Headaches ensued but so did much laughing. It kept our mind off the heat and stuffiness from having all the windows closed with no electric fans to let the air circulate. We raced to see who could finish a packet faster, blended flavors together resulting in mixes that tasted like cough syrup, and spilled a sticky mess on the wood floor so the dog could join in on the fun. The household help was not pleased with us once the power came back on.

But were we pleased with ourselves? Most definitely.

I don’t know exactly when we stopped juice freezing. We eventually got cable so the television became more amusing than the other appliances. Sorry, freezer. You’re still cool but we’ve found something new. Still, I’ll always remember those times when we were forced to innovate in order to have fun. I’m way too heavy to sit on a working washing machine now but I can still freeze juice packs. My five year old self might have been foolish but she sure knew how to have a good time.

Prince of the Sea by Felaine Andrea Palacio

Syrena(see-ree-na) felt the cold touch of the sea water as she walked barefoot along the shore. She was the crown princess of their kingdom and in order to relax from her role for a while, she decided to have a vacation in a beautiful countryside near the sea. The people there were joyful and easy-going and that helped to release some of her stress.

After minutes of walking, she spotted something on the side of the cliff. She came near it and saw that it was a cave. Syrena thought twice about going inside but her curiosity triumphed.

The cave was cold and dark so Syrena thought about going back outside. But just as she was about to go out, she heard a very beautiful melody from inside the cave. It was the singing of a man. It seemed to hypnotize her.

She wanted to know who the singer was so she headed towards the source of the sound. She squeezed through a hole in the wall of the cave .But when she got in, she saw no one. The beautiful melody that she heard earlier also stopped.

“Was It just my imagination?”, she asked herself. Then she heard a splash of water which startled her. Then she noticed a pool in the center of the cave which must be where the splashing came from. She wondered what it must have been. Continue reading

A Future for Filipino Literature

 

 

There’s been a distinct lack of Filipino literature written by local authors for a local audience. From what I can see, a majority of it comes from Filipino-Americans or Americans overseas. One has to wonder why that’s the case. In my opinion, it’s because Filipinos don’t think they have an audience here in the homeland. They “assume” that Filipinos don’t read as much when that simply isn’t the case. Filipino literature would probably thrive more if our movies and local TV shows were based on books by Filipino authors rather than the same old soap opera rehashed material. It would open up the doors for a lot more creativity on the big and small screens.

Insecurity may also be a factor. Personally, I prefer to write in English and I fear being perceived as “pretentious” for it. The language I choose also limits my audience. However, if my work had a shot at being translated and adapted for TV or the movies, that would be a godsend. I’m always looking for the experience I felt when reading Sa Kuko ng Liwanag by Edgardo M. Reyes. It clearly painted a picture of the Philippines in a bygone era and the use of Filipino wasn’t too deep so just about anyone could read

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it and appreciate how beautiful the Filipino language can actually be. I lost my copy but I always keep thinking back to the scene with construction workers eating their lunch and one of them squeezes a tomato to go with his fish. The tomato water turns black from the soot on his hands. That image is burned into my mind and I sincerely hope more people would try to do that in their writing but they need to know that there’s a payday in store and that they’re going to get the audience they need. Otherwise, they get discouraged and all that talent is squandered.

The Filipino experience is a rich one but people let their biases get in the way. It’s always been a dream of mine to write a novel on steampunk in Intramuros but use a pseudonym and not reveal the location and ethnicity of the inhabitants until the end. It’d be a nice surprise like discovering Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers was a Filipino at the end of the novel. I’m always looking for an experience like that when it comes to Filipino culture in fiction. However, there’s always lingering insecurity over attempting such a feat. Is it too ambitious? Will people look at my work and see it as derivative? Would my style be lacking in depth? There’s a lot of doubt lingering in an aspiring author’s mind. It’s far easier to play it safe. But playing it safe doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to take the leap. Jump at any chance you can get to be published even if it’s just on the internet. In fact, that’s what this site is for. Get your start by submitting to Kendii and you may be taking the first step to your future success.

Sex as a Local Language

Sex/Seks

 

Discussing intimacy by using the vernacular seems to be an endless challenge. After all, “pagtatalik” brings up images of animals rutting in the field. It’s the same word used in science shows like Sineskwela to describe animal reproduction so it’s understandably hard to hear it in another context if that’s what you grew up with. Its closest English equivalent is “mate” thus explaining its lack of appeal. You don’t walk up to an attractive man or woman at the bar and invite them to mate. That sounds like something an alien out of a sci-fi movie would do. Seduction is nowhere to be found in that particular Filipino word but can it be found in others?

A rudimentary Google search doesn’t offer much enlightenment. Tagaloglang.com is actually unintentionally hilarious in handling the subject matter by telling us: “The Tagalog word for ‘sex’ is ‘pagtatalik’ but most Filipinos just say seks.” It’s a bit problematic to think that we have to borrow a word from English for the sake of discussing intimacy. Sadly, the site is accurate. When most people discuss sex in Filipino, they do so using the English word. It renders the concept into something that might almost be perceived as foreign which ties into how it’s considered taboo for a lot of people in this predominantly Catholic nation.

The site’s unintended humour goes to further extremes with their list of sample lines to use when conversing about sex. For example:  Gusto kong mag-seks sa kusina. Sa kama. (I want to have sex in the kitchen. On the bed.). If a foreigner were to browse the site, they might be led to assume that a bed in the kitchen is commonplace in a Filipino household. Aside from that, the way Filipino syllables roll off the tongue doesn’t exactly lend itself to seduction. Whispering this in your beloved’s ear is more likely to get a laugh rather than seal the deal. It’s a bit too cut and dry. Where have the poets of yesteryear gone? The ones who could use the local tongue without being too vulgar or upfront while still expressing intent toward intimacy?

The site even goes the extra mile in its sample dialogue by expressing female apprehension in the vernacular: Ayokong magkasakit. Ayokong mabuntis. (I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to get pregnant.). Perhaps this is a sign of modernization. It shows the perspective of a woman who doesn’t perceive sex as a purely procreative act. She approaches the matter with caution. Times are changing in this country and it’s starting to show. The only problem is the fact that we don’t know how to properly discuss these matters with a straight face. There needs to be a serious dialogue on sex in the local language. Only then can we find understanding on the matter. With the RH bill recently passed, the stage is set for a more thorough discussion of sex on the national stage. Will we be ready for it when the time comes?

 

The Science of Vampires

Vampires nowadays have a pretty good reputation compared to their counterparts in earlier centuries. They’re saturated into pop culture from the sparkling “vegetarian” bloodsuckers of the Twilight films to the magical ring-wearing day walking vampires of The Vampire Diaries to the more mature “out of the coffin” vampires of True Blood. There seems to be a vampire to suit any taste whether you’re a bibliophile or a TV addict. They’re everywhere and the fad doesn’t seem to be dying down any soon. It might make one wonder if such creatures are plausible in our world. No, we’re not talking about the figurative vampires who such the joy out of your day. How likely is it that these human bloodsuckers could walk around in our world? Continue reading

Sony: Sexy or Sleazy?

Sony is under fire for a recent ad they ran for the PS Vita. The ad features a woman’s torso displaying double the expected cleavage with the usual lady lumps in the front and an additional pair in the back. The ad features the tag line “Touch both sides for enjoyment.” It’s hard not to end up thinking of the three-breasted hooker from Total Recall when looking at this ad. It makes female anatomy look practically alien. Reception to this ad has ranged from anger to amusement. I find myself somewhere in between. It makes me wonder what Sony thinks of its player base. Do they think they’re all shallow men?

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Cat and Computer Mouse: A Love Story

Internet culture and cats seem to go hand in hand. From icanhazcheezburger.com to Instagram and Tumblr, our feline friends are finding the spotlight in cyberspace. There’s even a website dedicated solely to Cute Boys with Cats (cuteboyswithcats.net).

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As it is aptly named, you’ll find no shortage of attractive menfolk and the cats who love them. It works on the same web format as Tumblr so you’ll have no problem wasting an afternoon scrolling through the site and sharing a ton of pictures with your followers through the convenient magic of re-blogging. It’s no surprise when you find five minutes turning into an hour as you promise yourself that you’ll look at “just one more picture.”

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Defending Against the Undead Plague: Quarantine as Effective Disease Control

When you’re looking at a zombie bite, it’s certain that you’ll require more than chicken soup to cure that infection. Fictional scenarios like George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” has those afflicted by the disease of the undead recognized as lost causes. The only “cure” is to say good-bye to your loved ones and take a gunshot wound to the head in order to avoid menacing your fellow humans once you perish and reanimate. However, can this no-win scenario be avoided? Looking at modern disease control, the answer is yes. But can everybody avoid it? That’s a question we intend to answer over the course of this article.

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True Blood and Serials

While we tend to think of serials as stories in defunct magazines, you know the one where the only thing with color is the magazine, this cliff-hanger type storytelling is still very dominant in today’s instant society. Take for example, True Blood. It runs very much like a, well,  a telenovela. Yes. In Philippine culture atleast, the telenovela reigns supreme as the number one serial format. Continue reading

We are Aliens: A Brief Reflection on Vogons

Vogons are a species of alien found in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It’s a rather successful series of books I’d encourage everyone to read. As a work of comedic science fiction, it’s definitely not something you come across every day. The best part about it is the satire sprinkled throughout the work. For example, let’s look at the opinion of Vogons on evolution:

“Evolution? they said to themselves, Who needs it?, and what nature refused to do for them they simply did without until such time as they were able to rectify the gross anatomical inconveniences with surgery. ”

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10 Must- Dos Before Graduating College by Julian Savard

  1. Take a Detour

For sure by now you know how your school looks, it’s no problem for you to find your classes and you could pretty much map the campus on the palm of your hand. But why not try and take a detour down the corridors you have yet to see? Or behind your school, in the nooks and crannies of the buildings and dorms? Ateneo de Manila has one of the biggest forests in its campus, unexplored. You don’t know what secret places you might just discover. For example most P-UPs (students from UP) had no idea there was a lurking carinderia in their neck of the woods that not only serves the best home- cooked meals, but for an affordable price too. So while you’re still enrolled, take a stroll. Continue reading

The Computer Monitor as Political Mirror

At the tender age of eighteen, every individual is given the chance to exercise the right to vote. Granted, the process of registering and attaining the proper identification to head to the polls is an arduous one involving heavy exposure to the very same government bureaucracy we support by pledging our votes while they constantly disappoint us. We line up for hours on end to get our clearance to fill out our ballots. However, there’s always lingering uncertainty. Will our vote be counted? Will we be cheated if we opt not to exercise our right when another unscrupulous individual steps up to claim what’s rightfully ours? After all, election season has a way of re-animating the dead to exercise their right to vote. This is not a George Romero movie though. What we’re seeing is corruption pure and simple. Question is: can information technology help change this trend? Can it make us better informed? Can it drive us to care? Well, speaking from personal experience, it at least drove me to line up for a voter’s ID. All my friends were updating their Facebook statuses about getting theirs and I felt an indirect peer pressure to get mine as well despite knowing the difficulties that would likely result. Yes, Facebook made me a more responsible citizen when it came to the elections.

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Rebound Love by Juliann Savard

Man cannot live on bread alone. Adam couldn’t survive six days in paradise by himself, and then came Eve .Classic example dating way back to the common form of love we see nowadays: rebound. A term connectively used in sports, with the prefix “re” suggesting “to do again” or simply “to repeat.” If Adam couldn’t survive six days, what more in an age and time where who you’re with means a lot more than who you are?

 

Teenagers usually find themselves stuck in situations of the “rebound” after having been committed and steady in a long- term relationship. People, in general, find it difficult to cope with a sudden solitary stage in their life, thus the medical term, separation anxiety. The only difference is, in terms of romantic relationships, this separation may be permanent. And the absence of permanence is temporariness. We result in finding “companions” rather than “partners” to, sadly say, fill a void. When once, every morning was greeted with a “have a good day, I love you” text on your phone, you wake up to your alarm and zero messages. You find yourself hating the PDA of other couples, you check the movies to make sure no chick flicks are playing, and you turn off the radio when you hear Taylor Swift singing “You belong with me!” because at present time, you belong with no one. And so you resort to quickly finding someone who can hold your hand, someone who you can always text, someone who can bring you to chick flicks without you feeling like a total outcast, and someone who will belt out alongside of you in the car. First sign of rebound? Check. But is it love? Question. Continue reading

Clothes about Where You Live and Love: An Interview with Mauricio Zuniga of Location Apparel

After our recent article about Fashionalismo and its impact on Filipinos, we decided to look at the same issue from a global perspective. Thankfully, we were fortunate enough to get in touch with Mauricio Zuniga, CEO of Location Apparel. With his insight, we can better learn what it means to wear your identity on your sleeve by donning clothes about where you live and love. There’s also a lot one can learn here about handling an online business and expanding worldwide via the web. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, the wisdom from this maverick businessman is definitely not to be missed.

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Tasty writings from the Philippines and beyond