I'm trying to watch an episode of "The Street" (first time I've seen it), but the stock market references are flying over my head. (And the strange sexual twists are something I can't really appreciate.)
Meanwhile ... had dinner with some friends last night to welcome JU back to Manila. He's here on vacation from B-school and looks happy.
At some point during the evening, the conversation turned to ... you guessed it, marriage. Well, weddings more specifically. I was the only girl in the group, and it was interesting listening to all the financial considerations that men worry about. (In the Philippines, the groom traditionally pays for the wedding, sometimes with help from his parents.) It was a little embarrassing, actually, to realize how impractical we girls can be when we talk about the same topic. Especially when I heard myself saying to N, "Don't worry about the details; the bride will take care of it. You just need to worry about doling out the money." :)) I mean, the last time I had a conversation about weddings with my girl-friends, although we did discuss financial considerations, we spent more time discussing Church interiors and photography preferences.
Anyway ... yikes ... we really are getting old. At the rate things are going, it looks like I'm going to have more married friends than single friends within the next three years! (Okay, maybe not, but it sure seems like it!) Aaargh, can't we all just stay kids for a little while longer?
But actually ... 25 is a good age to be. I really like my age. (Now, if only I weren't turning 26 in a few months' time .... Sigh!)
But I guess I'm happy being 25 because I like where I am. I like my job, I love the person I'm with, I like the way life is treating me. I know I am very, very lucky, and very, very blessed. :)
Meanwhile ... "The Street" has ended, and I'm taking a peek at Tanging Yaman, which is showing on Cinema One. Now that is a really good movie! One of the best Filipino movies I've seen, and it's simply a good movie, period. (Except for that slightly melodramatic near-drowning scene.) Excellent acting, a very good script ... and its portrayal of the complexities of the Filipino family hits the nail on the head.
The thought occurred to me: our generation's icons were scruffy bums who didn't want to take the norms of the world too seriously. Look at the E-heads, look at Kurt Cobain, look at all the grunge icons. I think that a generation's icons are reflective of that generation's worldview. And true enough, I have a feeling that even as we enter our mid-/late-20s and early thirties, we still have those same attitudes.
Now, what about today's youth? What do their icons represent?
Britney, boybands .... A lot more glamor, clearly. Maybe a stronger drive to succeed? Something to think about ....
Allow me to express a few (muddled, not-yet-thought-out) thoughts on this.
First of all, some qualifiers. I can't speak for secular marriages here. Secular (legal) marriages, as far as I'm concerned, are ultimately contractual agreements to share property. Any additional meaning that a legally married couple gives to their marriage is great, of course, but technically goes beyond the legal definition of a marriage contract. For that reason, I see no impediment for legalizing divorce.
However, let's take a look at sacramental marriages. As a Catholic, I see all marriages within the Church (that is, Catholic marriages) as sacraments. That is, marriages in the Church are not merely man-made contracts, but they genuinely are things which "God has put together." Because marriages are sacramental, ordained by God, I DO NOT think that any human being has a right to simply sever the ties sacramentally created in the marriage ceremony. If we believe in the New Testament, then we HAVE to take the New Covenant meaning of the New Testament seriously! It was Christ himself who said, "what God has put together, let no man tear asunder."
Now, regarding marriage annulments in the Church. Annulment doesn't mean that your partnership, your years of living together and raising children, never existed. It just means that the marriage didn't exist sacramentally. You may have been married in the secular sense of the term, but because of whatever reason, you weren't married in the sacramental sense of the term. Prime examples of these: marriages which parents force their children to enter into, marriages after hastily-made decisions to marry, marriages wherein one of the parties is mentally unstable (which is often the case in abusive marriages), etc.
Now, apart from marriage annulments, do I believe there should be any other means of terminating a marriage? Well, I still have vague memories of my Theology of Marriage and Commitment class ... and I still kinda remember the arguments that Fr. Dacanay gave for the indissolubility of a marriage. However, I also recall asking myself: If priests are allowed dispensation from their vows when they feel unable to fulfill them, shouldn't spouses also be allowed the same?
I'm not advocating "easy divorces." I'm not saying that the divorces themselves should be "man-made," in the sense that merely by mutual agreement, the couple should be allowed to decide to terminate the marriage (if that were allowed, it would go against the whole idea of marriages being sacramental, and it would be a clear violation of Christ's words, "What God has put together, let no man put asunder"). Rather, what I'm advocating for is some form of dispensation from one's vows, allowed by the Church, and only after the reasons behind the dispensation have been carefully scrutinized by Church leaders. I would think that the main possible reason behind such a dispensation would be if one of the couple acts in such a way for a prolonged period of time that he no longer fulfills the sacramental meaning of the marriage. Examples of this might be: carrying on prolonged and continuing affairs (I'm not talking about one or two short affairs here), if one of the couple becomes physically abusive, etc. Should this happen, I do think that the "victimized" half of the couple should be allowed to ask for a dispensation from her/his vows of marriage.
Still, I'd like to emphasize, I nevertheless lean towards a more conservative view of marriage over a liberalized view of marriage. Marriages in the Church ARE sacraments, and are not merely convenient living arrangements. Once we begin to treat marriages as no more sacred than ordinary relationships, families and societies begin to be destroyed.
(Then again, I'm only 25, so what do I really know about life? :D )
Yesterday, a student of mine approached me after class, asking why the reading we've been studying has so much mention of God. "Does philosophy need to be based on religion?" he asked. My reply went something like this: "One way of looking at philosophy is that it is based on experience. And religion or spirituality just happens to be one of the experiences of human beings, a very powerful experience for many people, at that. So it is no surprise that Christian philosophers will mention Christianity, Muslim philosophers will mention Islam, Hindu philosophers will mention Hinduism ... and yes, that atheist philosophers will mention their lack of belief in any Transcendent."
I don't know my political science well, and I don't know when or how the idea of separation of Church and state arose historically. (It certainly isn't a universal principle, and as far as I know, the United States is the only country where it is taken to such an extreme.) But common sense tells me that this idea was meant to protect religious liberty rather than to prevent religious expression. This certainly isn't the effect of such a ruling.
I have more to say, but I need to organize my thoughts first.
M and I had a datey-datey night last night. After dinner, we went to 70s to watch Cynthia Alexander and her band, who gave a wonderful performance. She was backed up by three musicians who played Indian instruments. Amazing stuff.
Last night's gimmick was made doubly, uh, "interesting" by a gaggle of shrieking, foul-mouthed girls who spent their first hour there trying to call attention to themselves. (Ummm, put it this way: they seemed as if last night was the first time they'd ever stepped north of Jupiter Street. Needless to say, they looked very out-of-place at 70s.) I was annoyed with their shrieking and shouting for awhile, but thankfully, they could not spoil Cynthia's performance for me. Cynthia was too good. :)
Thanks, M, for taking me. :) We should really go to 70s more often. :) Noel naman, one of these days! :)
We're discussing the essay "The Philosophical Act" (by Josef Pieper) in class. In that essay, Pieper describes philosophizing as an act wherein one steps out of the workaday world. What follows is an exchange that occurred in one of my classes:
Me: So, class, can you tell me: What, according to Pieper, is the workaday world? Student: The world of utility and functionality. The world where activities are seen exclusively as means towards ends. One example is going to college. We go to college to get degrees, so that we can get good jobs, so that we can make money. Me: Okay, good. Now let's focus on the example that your classmate gave. Is going to college always part of the workaday world? Can we universalize that statement? Entire Class: Ye-es! Me: Uhhh ... let me rephrase the question. Can there be any other possible for going to college, apart from the desire to get a good job after graduation? Entire Class: No-o!
I swear. This happened. I kid you not.
(On the brighter side, it only happened in one class, though I'm not sure if that's much consolation ....)
Last Friday was the annual meeting of the entire college faculty at school. Our university president gave his yearly, uh, state of the university address, and elaborated on the strategic goals that the university will be taking this year. It was rather heartening to see that much of the efforts this year will be geared towards social outreach and nation-building. Since last year's local political crisis, the university has renewed its commitment in the areas of faith and justice. However, as the local political situation has grown more complex, and as international crises (e.g., terrorism, Middle East violence, etc.) have worsened, the need to address these problems on various fronts has intensified.
From a teacher's standpoint, I was pleased that the social involvement aspect of our undergraduates' curriculum will be beefed up over the next few years. When I was still a student, required direct contact with the poor was limited to a 3-day immersion in senior year (a big drop from the two-month immersions that were done in the 70s and 80s). Unless you were a member of a socially-oriented organization (and less than half of the student population was), you had little chance of being able to work directly in an apostolate with the poor. Starting this year, however, students will be working directly with the poor as early as freshman year, helping in literacy and civic service programs. The college administration has been working with the business sector and with religious-civic organizations to help build the machinery to make this an effective venture.
These projects will be integrated with academic programs which are envisioned as becoming more responsive to the socio-economic problems of the country. Reflecting on the reality of poverty will no longer be the exclusive domain of the theology department; all other departments are also being encouraged to be reflect on these crises more explicitly in class.
Apart from steps taken in undergraduate education, the university has always also been committed to nation-building in other ways. Many of the graduate courses of the university were established with the primary goal of helping grade school and high school educators throughout the country to be better equipped for teaching. Also, during crucial times throughout this nation's history, the university has used its prestige to influence the nation's political machinery for the better. I do expect, of course, that the university as a political institution (and I mean that in the broad, positive sense of the word) will continue to do this.
Many young teachers, I think, pretend to be bored during the annual faculty meeting. But I, for one, appreciate the whole affair, because it reminds me that I am merely a small part of a big institution that has a good vision. Some people may disagree with some of the decisions that the university makes, but I truly believe that we have people with good hearts sitting in the seats of power at our university. They are sincere in their love for the students, sincere in their love for this country, and sincere in their desire to serve the Greatest Good.
And in all honesty, despite some of the complaints that I've heard from some colleagues--about relatively low salaries, about the sometimes undemocratic administration, about the inefficiency of some offices--I do think that secretly, many of them don't really want to teach anywhere else. :)
Two years ago, I found out that only about five of my students had watched Schindler's List. They had been too young to watch in the theaters when the film came out in 1993 (or was it 1992?).
I've mentioned the Holocaust many times in class, but as the years have passed, I've begun wondering how aware my students are about the horrors of the event. (Not that anyone--except the people who were actually there--can really fathom its horrors.) In the past, I've recommended Elie Wiesel's Night to my students, but not everyone would read it. (And since I'm not teaching a literature class, and since the book doesn't have anything directly to do with my lessons, I've been hesitant to require all my students to read it over and above all the other readings they have to read.)
So this year, I decided to start the first semester by requiring my students to watch Schindler's List instead. A colleague once complained that Schindler's List had too happy an ending to be able to realistically portray the horror of the Holocaust, but hey, it's better than nothing. Then maybe ... maybe ... at the beginning of next semester, I'll require them to read Night. That is, if I decide focus my class discussions on the Holocaust more. Hmmmm ....
Many of them are not the stereotypical indoctrinated rabid extremists that many people may imagine. Today's suicide bombers in Palestine/Israel come from all ages, all levels of education, and all walks of life--students, professionals, men and women ... even a mother of a 3-year-old. Their single common trait? Despair.
You are Spaceman Spiff! Zounds! You are the intrepid Spaceman Spiff, the engaging explorer ensconsed in an unending universe of exotic and evil extraterrestrials! You're brave, but you should give that dictionary a rest. Take the What Calvin are You? Quiz by firstname.lastname@example.org!
Well, I am just happy being Calvin, period. Any kind of Calvin.
Meanwhile, both of my brothers are online. My elder brother is sad because the English lost today. My younger brother is sad because the Germans just scored a goal (vs. the U.S.). I am sad because I cannot relate (hehehe!).
Haay. I have a bad habit of not thinking before I speak, so I often end up saying things that can easily be misinterpreted, and I end up unintentionally offending people in that way. :( This happened today. Fortunately, I realized my mistake (even if it took me more than an hour to realize it) and was able to clarify what I meant, so all is well.
Still ... this isn't the first time it's happened and I'm sure it won't be the last. What makes it worse is that I tend to express my opinions very strongly, and I do so rambling on, without thinking of whether I might be offending people unnecessarily. Sigh. :( Bad habit, bad habit, bad habit.
It's the clash of the continents at the World Cup this year. Asia's representative is South Korea in the quarter-finals, but personally, among the underdogs, I'm rooting for Senegal.
Not that anyone can really get into the World Cup here; this isn't exactly football country ... and they aren't even showing it live on TV (unless you have satellite TV). By contrast, I was chatting with my two brothers earlier today--one in Hong Kong, the other in the U.S.--and they were obviously very much into the frenzy.
Nice prayer, which was attached to the e-mail announcement about our annual university start-of-the-year Mass:
O Holy Spirit, give me stillness of soul in you. Calm the turmoil within with the gentleness of your peace. Quiet the anxiety within with a deep trust in you. Heal the wounds of sin within with the joy of your forgiveness. Strengthen the faith within with the awareness of your presence. Confirm the hope within with the knowledge of your strength. Give fullness to the love within with an outpouring of your love. O Holy Spirit, be to me a source of light, strength and courage so that I may hear your call ever more clearly and follow it more generously. Amen.
From Fear Factor: A non-Asian-American's view of eating balut. (Link via valkyrie. Actually, I don't eat balut either. For a Filipino, I'm such a wuss when it comes to eating delicacies. I don't eat dinuguan (ugh!). I don't even eat pinakbet, a fact that surprised my Hawaii-born, New York-bred aunt who loves the stuff. Probably the only "gross" Filipino things I eat are sisig, and bagoong (and only when it's in kare-kare).
Meanwhile. It is only Tuesday and I am already exhausted. I haven't had a full week of class since ... geez, come to think of it, I've never had a full week of class since I started teachig. I've always been fortunate enough to have one or two weekdays off. Sigh!
I always thought I was fortunate not to have to work eight hours a day ... until I invited a friend of mine to give a talk in my class. This friend of mine worked in advertising and was accustomed to fifteen-hour workdays and sleepless nights. But when she tried out my job for a day, she was surprised to discover how tiring it was, both mentally and physically. Having to be alert and to keep talking for four straight hours (sometimes more). Not having the option to "turn off" and take a break when you want to. Not sitting down for half a day. (Of course, that isn't a requirement in the teaching profession, but personally, I prefer to teach standing up.) My job was less stressful than hers, my friend observed, but it was more exhausting. How accurate her observation was, I can't really say, because I've only had two jobs since graduation, neither of which are regular office jobs.
I'm a bit of a miser. When I was in kindergarten, I sold tissue paper to classmates. When I was in grade 1, I saved almost every single cent of my allowance for an entire year, put it in a cash box (a real one with a key), and brought it out several times a year just to count my money and feel good about my savings. When I was in grade 2, I produced a concert for the dormitory residents behind my grandmother's house: the concert starred me and my younger cousin, playing the piano, dancing ballet, and singing. (Yes, you may laugh now.) From grades 4 through 6, I sold ice candy every summer.
You get the picture.
Not that I don't spend my money. I love shopping. Also, I know I'm not rich. But I do think about money a lot, and I like thinking of ways to save, and ways to be financially secure.
One of the few public mailing lists I'm a member of is the Dollar Stretcher list.
Tuesday last week, M and I got news that Nix's father had passed away. :( We went to the wake that night.
Very early the following morning, I left for a two-night trip to Puerto Galera. Department outing. The three high points were: snorkeling, searching for plankton at night, and playing 1-2-3-pass till four in the morning. This was one of those trips when I felt really fortunate to live in this country, with its endless coastline and beautiful beaches.
Sunday evening, I joined M's family for Father's Day dinner. M treated his parents and me to massages. Sarap! (Thanks, love!)
Today, it was first day of class chaos. I was thankfully spared from first-day stage fright this semester, but the summer vacation has taken its toll in other ways: my voice was hoarse by the end of my second class, and my leg muscles were sore by the end of the day, exhausted from walking from building to building. Hindi na ako sanay magturo! And to think I taught five classes a day last semester (as opposed to just three a day this sem).
I'm excited to be back at work, though. :) This is one of those moments when I love teaching.
A few days after Episode 2 came out, I was talking about the movie with some colleagues, and a friend of mine said, half-jokingly, "Grabe naman si Amidala! Kunwari pang ayaw niyang halikan si Anakin, but just look at what she was wearing!" He looked at me when he said that, expecting me to react, but I just raised my eyebrows and laughed.
I've been wishing, though, that I said something. I've been wishing that I told him that what a girl wears may have absolutely nothing to do with any "message" she wants to send a guy. It's bothered me a lot these past few weeks.
So this morning, I finally said something. I forwarded the "My Short Skirt" poem to some of my colleagues. For those of you who missed my post on it last March, here it is again, from the Vagina Monologues, created by Eve Ensler:
My Short Skirt
My short skirt
is not an invitation
that I want it
or give it
or that I hook.
My short skirt
is not begging for it
it does not want you
to rip it off me
or pull it down.
My short skirt
is not a legal reason
for raping me
although it has been before
it will not hold up
in the new court.
My short skirt, believe it or not
has nothing to do with you.
My short skirt
is about discovering
the power of my lower calves
about cool autumn air traveling
up my inner thighs
about allowing everything I see
or pass or feel to live inside.
My short skirt is not proof
that I am stupid
or a malleable little girl.
My short skirt is my defiance
I will not let you make me afraid
My short skirt is not showing off
this is who I am
before you made me cover it
or tone it down.
Get used to it.
My short skirt is happiness
I can feel myself on the ground.
I am here. I am hot.
My short skirt is a liberation
flag in the women's army
I declare these streets, any streets
my vagina's country.
My short skirt
is turquoise water
with swimming colored fish
a summer festival
in the starry dark
a bird calling
a train arriving in a foreign town
my short skirt is a wild spin
a full breath
a tango dip
my short skirt is
But mainly my short skirt
and everything under it
I swear, men should be required to take up this poem in grade school. Maybe that will cure some of the perverted machoism in this country that leads some men to believe that women are just their sexual playthings.
Went clothes shopping the other day, in preparation for the new school year. I went hunting for a new pair of pants and a few tops. The search got me to notice the latest fad in teenage girls' fashion: frilly froufrou tops. It's another sign that I'm getting old: the fact that it's taken me awhile to notice this latest fad. But once I did notice it, I realized that one out of every four women walking through the mall was wearing one of those tops. Vertical froufrou, horizontal froufrou, froufrou sleeves, froufrou collars, froufrou hems.... And then I walked into Bayo and bought a white knitted oh-so-conservative, oh-so-adult top. Yeah, I am getting old.
(When I met up with M later on, I pointed out the froufrou tops to him, and he hates them -- heheh!)
It's my second-to-the-last weekend before school starts. I've been in quite an industrious mood, and have been trying to get as much done as I can over the past few days, in preparation for classes. My syllabus is ready, as are most of my readings. I just need one more trip to the library to leave a few texts at the reserve section.
The Abu Sayyaf hostage situation in Basilan is finally over, although the ending isn't a happy one. Of the three hostages, only one survived. Ediborah Yap and Martin Burnham were killed during the rescue operation; according to early verbal reports from the Philippine Scout Rangers, the Abu Sayyaf executed the two hostages before fleeing. Gracia Burnham, on the other hand, was wounded but she is safe and is now recovering.
Over lunch, MM told the story of an old man (a kargador at the nearby market) from his area who won P80,000,000.00 in the Lotto. Turns out this old man is a bit of a miser. He hasn't touched the money since he won it (save for putting it in the bank, I guess), and he refuses to give his (adult) children any balato.
Everyone else who was listening to the story was saying, "Grabe naman! How selfish of him! That's 80 million bucks! And he doesn't want to give any of it to his own kids?!" But I dunno .... Maybe it's the Ilocano in me (???), but for some reason I really wasn't as appalled as the rest of them. For one, it's his money and he isn't obligated to give any of it away, unless he really wants to. (It would be different, of course, if his children were still dependent on him, but they aren't. They're adults with families of their own.) And secondly, I reasoned, maybe he has legitimate reasons for not wanting to give any of his money to his children. I could think of at least one valid reason: money is one of the number one causes of major fights within families. Giving huge amounts of money to his children could open a Pandora's box. (Besides, I thought to myself, they ARE going to inherit the money eventually.)
Well, they did point out that it would have been a different story if the old man were rich or at least middle class. But he isn't, they emphasized, and his children probably real need the money. I saw their point, but still, I wasn't as disgusted with the old man's behavior as they seemed to be.
After several minutes of discussion, everybody at the lunch table was beginning to look at me really strangely, so I (finally--heheh!) shut up. :P Still. If any of my relatives won the Lotto, I honestly wouldn't expect them to give me any balato. But it was interesting to listen to perspectives so different from my own. :)
Oh, isa ko pang posibleng pinanggagalingan: I honestly think that balato is one of the most dangerous customs we Filipinos have. But that's a whole other blog entry ....
They showed the rerun last night of the Friends episode where Monica and Chandler got engaged ... AND I MISSED IT AGAIN! To think I've been watching Friends every week this past month precisely to catch that episode! And the ONE night that I don't watch it is the night that they air it! DARN! :(
Oh well, we met up with REAL friends last night, so it was worth it. :)
I'm beginning to get annoyed with some of the rhetoric of the extreme Left. Ed dela Torre's latest tirade is about how the new basic education curriculum--with its increased attention paid to the 3 R's--will dilute students' spirit of nationalism, because of the lower number of History subjects. Geez! Mr. dela Torre, let me talk to you about nationalism! What would REALLY be nationalistic is if we could actually teach our students to read and write, instead of graduating hundreds of thousands of elementary students who haven't acquired the skill to browse through a simple book. What would REALLY be nationalistic is if we could actually teach our students to count, instead of letting students fall through the cracks who haven't grasped the most basic mathematical concepts.
Mr. dela Torre, nationalism isn't just about political rhetoric and a flimsy knowledge of history. Nationalism is about seeking the good of all citizens. Nationalism is about ensuring that each citizen is granted her rights--including her right to be taught, at an early age, the necessary skills to be an active participant of polis. If you really want to liberate your beloved proletariat, the first step is to ensure that they can step into the public domain of dialogue by giving them the skills of communication, by developing their capacity for analysis, by broadening their access to learning and knowledge, by giving them a voice in our society.
I wonder if Mr. dela Torre has stepped into a public school classroom recently. I wonder if he knows how desperately the old curriculum needed to be improved.
I spent the first few years of my education under the EXCELLENT British educational system: where the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic are hammered in for years, buildling a strong foundation for ALL future learning. Contrast this with the Filipino educational system I was exposed to later on: where the only kind of repetition we did was to memorize the SAME useless dates in history every single school year.
I'm glad that they're changing the curriculum, especially at the grade school level. (I do think that the high school curriculum should be a LITTLE more challenging, though.) But the bottom line is: Teach our students to read, to write, and to do math, and the rest will follow.
Meanwhile, I had a very nice day yesterday. M and I went to Makati ("to see the world," as we like to say). We went to the new Greenbelt wing, a very pretty place. We watched Star Wars Episode 2 (for the second time). Afterwards, we met up with E and solace at Italianni's to buy solace the pizza we owe her, and also to hear solace's, uh, major kwento. ;) That was fun. :)
I have reg duty today at school. Wow, the first semester has begun ...! The summer break was great, but I'm also excited to be stepping into a classroom again. :)
Cheesy as it may sound, I realized today that I am a philosopher in a much deeper sense than I had imagined.
What I really want to do in life is to just sit around and think ... whether "thinking" takes the form of writing lengthy posts in my blog, or the more pragmatic task of writing documentary features for TV, or the spiritual act of contemplation, or the academic activity of writing research papers. What motivates me--at least in this stage of my life-- is a passion for the world of ideas. And I see my entire day as an act of ploughing through the necessary chores of life until I can reach that place where I can sit peacefully and quietly so I can contemplate the universe.
Funny that Pieper should turn out to be right after all. Contemplation IS its own end.
Thank you, M, for helping me to uncover that part of myself today. Mwah!
Sigh. Life IS beautiful. :) And philosophy IS about wonder. :)
For some reason, I haven't been able to access pau's blog for the last few days. I don't know where the problem lies.
Meanwhile, Ganns reminded me of this interesting test I took around a month or two ago (thanks to ali, who sent me the link). It tests the logical consistency of your religious beliefs. (I think was bitten by a bullet.) I'm pretty impressed by the amount of thinking that the test-makers put into the test.
Speaking of philosophy ... I just need to share my joy. I'm finally published. :) Yipee!