Monday, June 28, 2010

Educating Juan de la Cruz

There has been a lot of issues going around regarding the educational system in the Philippines.

There has been a lot of debate - pros and cons - on adding a few more years to schooling in the country. Those against it believe that it is not the number of years added but the number of hours delegated to each student that counts more. The reality is that in the public school system, there are more students now than there were 10 years ago. And the number of classrooms is not proportional to the number of students. Public schools usually have 3-4 classroom shifts. Which means that one classroom of 60 students is 6-11am, 11am-4pm, 4pm-9pm! Definitely, there is not enough room and not enough time to educate our children. Given the current scenario, what can we do to improve on this problem?

I guess we need to look beyond personal interests. The argument that the quality of education and the quantity of education are not equal to each other are not similar is noted. But because tipping the balance is a difficult act to make, we cannot simply ignore the fact that we are sacrificing the quality of education of our students just because the parents are arguing over vacations that are being deprived of our children, over students spending too much time in school and feel that they must finish high school or middle school before the age of 15 or 16 so that they can start college and work by the age of 20 or 21 and become contributors to the income in the homes, over having to spend a little more money for additional years in middle school (but in reality do not mind spending for vacation trips during the summers or spending for gadgets and appliances), and the list of excuses just goes on and on and on...

We can squabble all we like on this, but if you look at where most of the Pinoys are, the majority don't seem to be competitive in terms of marketability for jobs for the rest of the world. While we laud Pepe and Pilar on jobs in the Middle East or west of Timbuktu, the greater majority are menial labor. The stars or heroes we have, are, well let's say - out of pure talent and luck. Which leaves me in complete bewilderment on the arguments of some media dumbbells on the real issue of the RIGHT education of Juan de la Cruz.

Unmistakably though is the clear distinction between public and private education - in any part of the world.

Then there are the students who seem to waste their time in the malls, internet shops, Starbucks, billiard halls, movie houses, motels or any other place as they think of ways of cutting classes.

This is where DepEd order 86 series of 2010 comes into the picture. This administrative order instructs malls and internet shop owners not to allow students to enter or loiter during school hours to keep them from being absent in school. I completely agree. As to how the Department of Education intends to implement this is mind-boggling to me. I wonder if the security guards in the malls will accost the students at the entrance or how they will be able to discern those students wearing school uniforms vs the ones who have changed costumes just to be able to access the malls.

While I find the DepEd order laudable, I am wary that this is a microscopic view of the student's savvy ability to skip classes. Banning students from these areas of recreation is the tip of the iceberg. In the Philippines, all the noontime game shows have students in various uniforms and from even the most far flung areas of the provinces as GUESTS and CONTESTANTS in various games of different cerebral proportion. Complete with props - THE TEACHERS and even principal! I think the DepEd looks the other way when it comes to students having to cut classes because of programs like these dressed under the guise of "educational tours" peeves me beyond proportion.

Ban the students from these shows and you will have the patients screaming in arms against the DepEd. After all, they are money making sources for their children.

With these issues in mind, there needs to be a real alignment on what we believe is the right road to take with respect to the educational system of this country for our students. We need to look at the bigger picture and find the right solutions to truancy problems. This is the challenge the political system has in educating Juan de la Cruz.

If we do not address this today, we create more Jejemons for our future!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Jejemons!

eEoW pFhUeEhsxz...jeJejE

If you were able to understand the sentence above, you must either be infected with Jejemon juice or or Jejemon yourself. You will need to see a priest to get exorcised from this illness as there is no cure for Jejemonitis.

What is a jejemon?

There has been an email circulating about the evolution of the jejemons. I will not be repetitive of what has been published in that email circulation. This is simply added data after one of the jejemons was captured by the government when he refused to write his name in the correct spelling during his class. He was subjected to torture by the military and after dissecting him alive, they found out the following.

While they claim to be homo sapiens, more recent studies say they most probably are only limited to Filipino ancestry and descendants of parents who have a history of mental disease and poverty combined.

They are creatures of the night, flourishing from midnight to 4-5am. They are usually sighted in Friendster and Facebook and are highly accomplished in techie world, but are highly lacking in comprehension and spelling. The latter is perhaps the reason for the need to create a Jeje language. Their brains are highly lacking in neurons and most parts of the brain is undeveloped, explaining their state of mental retardation. It is theorized that the infecting mechanism of Jejemonism is through multimedia. The internet is the most rapid form of contamination with almost 10,000 victims a day suffering from mild to moderate infection of Jejemonism.

According to the parents of the boy captured by the government, he was normal until he had met his Jejemon classmates and began haning out with them. It was theorized that "Jejemons are generally thought to have very low IQs, although this claim still remains unproven. This might be due to the failure of the Jejebrain to produce and terminate brain cells than that of the normal rate of average human beings. Extreme head heat (which have been thought to decrease brain size) while wearing gangsta caps and gangsta shirts and 24/7 beer diets have been also attributed for the Jejemons' low IQ levels." The captured boy is of average intelligence but because of family problems, albeit too much depressive environment in the home, he had found a better source of happiness in the Jejemon classmates.

While the main media of the Jejemons has been the typical computer and mobile phones, the newest Jejes on the block are getting more aggressive penetrating the population through the ABS-CBN noontime show called SHOWTIME and using netbooks and the iPAD as newest sources of spreading their disease. The newest Jejes do not hang out in internet cafes anymore. They just stay at home and while their time away in front of the computer, most likely wearing their gangsta hats and soiled 3 day underwear.

When the Jejemons get to hang out together, they're usually sexually preoccupied and most of them practice unsafe sex and are bisexual. Do it with the Jejeboys and Jejegirls. They actually cross-link themselves as species of males and females with homosexual inclinations but are unsure if they want to be gay boys or lesbians. All jejemons have engaged in some form of sexual activity before they even have secondary pubic hair sprouting. Again, the sexual promiscuity is dependent on the age of infestation of the jejemon virus. And the replication of the jejekids are far and few because of the confusion of the jejemons over their sexual preference.

To date, these are the latest scientific data extracted from the autopsy findings of the government on the jejemon boy who was captured and tortured in order to reveal more evidence of jejomonism and how to counter this rapidly advancing disease.

I cannot stand the Jejemons.

They are Pinoys who have never seemed to channel into more productive means their time. They have bastardized the way grammar and spelling should be taught or learned. And we have supposedly normal people who put these idiots on a pedestal, for building a new "way" of life for the Jejemons! My God! How more pathetic can this country with people supporting these nincompoops?

The Department of Education has banned the use of Jeje language in schools, but like a disease that has infested man, these Jejemons will not disappear rapidly? They have created a world of their own and have started to engage people in whatever age and social class to imbibe their "culture".

The only way to stop them is to make sure that once a Jejemon is caught, he is castrated for good. There should be no Jeje-offspring from this method of elimination. This will be the only way to make them extinct!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Revenge of the Yagit!

Yagit in Pinoy-slang means poorest of the poor.

You can find them in the most decrepit area of the metropolis and most probably in every province in the banana republic.

Five years ago, I was discussing with a friend why the OFW movement was a bane rather a boon to the country. While Ate Glue and her economic wizards were busy promoting and championing OFWs, I was frowning at this scenario. To me, this was desperation on the part of the government. It was shouting in our face - WE HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER YOU IN THIS COUNTRY, SO GO, LEAVE, AND SEND HOME YOUR DOLLARS!

My opinion this may be too simple economics and mathematics put together. And perhaps I am limited by the fact that I probably did not go to Georgetown for an economics education, but analyzed this scenario based on logic.

Here's my take. If you simply draw a pyramid and stratified Philippine socioeconomic status according to three classes - upper, middle, and lower class - you'd probably see the rich occupying less than 5% of the tip, the middle class somewhere around 20% and a large 75% living below the poverty line.

I told my friend that I don't have the exact numbers yet, but logically, if the upper class contracted, and the middle class went into an exodus frenzy, then we would have no one else but the lower class to expand. As the middle class contracts, the gap between the upper and middle class would have to give in and we would be left with a large void in trying to alleviate poverty, which can end catastrophically.

Exaggerated? Let's look at facts. (All data highlighted and in asterisk (*) are from the PDI's editorial. I revised a few figures but basically it sums up what I wanted to emphasize 5 years back.)

The National Statistics and Coordination Board put some computations based on the Family Income and Expenditure Surveys.* A comparison of data in the Philippines for the year 2000 vs year 2006 and today (2009 data) are as follows:
1. The "rich" are defined as families with monthly incomes of at least P199,927 or P2,393,126 annually.
2. The average monthly income of families classified as rich today amount to P235,155 compared to P194,965 in 2006.
3. In the year 2000, 51,160 families were classified as rich. In 2006, only 19,738 were classified as rich families (a drop of about 62% out of an estimated 17.4 million families).

What was responsible for this staggering decline in number? These figures wouldn't have been bad had the middle class expanded.

4. The middle class are defined as families earning an average of P36,964 today. There was a marked decline from 22.7% in 2000, to 19.1% today. Which meant that the proportion of lower-income families has increased from 77 to 80.8%.
5. The lower-income group are those that earn an average of P9,061/month. While the average monthly income of lower income families has grown from P5,766 in 2000 to P9,061 in 2010, their monthly expenditures have kept pace, growing from P5,186 in 2000 to P8,345.

Where did the rich and the middle class go? Most of the middle class have found a way out - give up on the country and migrate to Canada, Australia, the US, or some other land of milk and honey. The rest of the middle class and the rich have suffered setbacks in business with the last economic crisis because of Uncle Sam, putting them into a category one or two notches lower. The poor have nowhere together because they're already at the bottom of the pyramid.

At the rate that this statistic keeps going, the Philippines will be left behind and live up to its expectation as the "Poor Man of Asia". Our neighbors have done much better. Isn't it envious that a country like Singapore that has about 4.7Million people has 93,000 millionaires (11.4% of Singaporean households). Millionaires here are counted in USDollars and excludes real property and other non-liquid assets like paintings, cars, etc. The Boston Consulting Group pointed out in their recent study that 60% of households in the island nation had bankable assets worth between US$250,000-US$1M. What was astonishing is that it happened at the same year when the country's GDP shrank 2.1%!

Now the government officials will say, let's not look at Singapore or Malaysia or South Korea. Why not? We were once upon a time one of the most lucrative nations in Asia. The dollar to peso exchange rate was $1 - P4. We were well respected and foreign companies looked to the Philippines when it came to dealing with business.

Several presidents, coup attempts and 9 years of Ate Glue all put together has put us nowhere except mass producing OFWs to serve as maids, caregivers, nurses, engineers, midwives, pharmacists, aides, cooks, drivers, carpenters, masons, shipmates, chambermaids, hotel staff, gym attendants, macho dancers, sex trade workers - to our more affluent neighboring countries.

While I have nothing against OFWs, we should hang our heads in shame for saying that they are the modern day heroes! This, to me, is a pathetic excuse for no progress in our country because of greed and corruption.

The other day, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) came up with the net assets of our congressmen. Over 230 of them had assets over P1M. This is from people who make less than P50,000 a month gross income! Even if they did not spend a centavo, presuming they don't even eat or drink or breath, one cannot help but deduce that they get all their money from conflicts of interest in business and their government positions. It is no wonder that Pinoys jockey for top slots so that greed and graft and corruption remains thriving and alive and well in the banana republic.

On my flight back from a business trip in Singapore two weeks ago, there were 3 Filipinos on the same flight back. Deported. I was sad and there was a part of me that was holding my Philippine passport in shame.

What has happened to us as a nation? Now that I share with you some data, which category do you now realize you belong to?

For all the sins of our politicians, this is our karma. If we don't address this issue now, in the next 5 years, I am willing to make a bet that this statistics will turn for the worse. Slowly, but surely.

Five years ago, I told my friend, when middle class begins to fade, and the gap between the rich and poor shrinks so rapidly this that the middle class that serves as buffer to the large differentiation becomes so small, it is time to say goodbye to the country. This is the best recipe for a revolution.

For the many decades that the poor have suffered, it will be vengeance time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Of birthdays and death anniversaries

There's something about birthdays.

When I was a kid, birthdays were all about gifts and balloons and ice cream and cakes. As I grew older, they were spent in the company of friends and family. The gifts came far and few as there were less parties and ice cream and cakes.

In the Chinese calendar, you're considered 1 year old from the day you're born. And if you follow the lunar year, you celebrate your birthday on a different month and date each year.

Then there's the Roman calendar which we all follow. I celebrate mine every 17th of June each year.

There are traditions which we follow, based on our beliefs. For the Chinese, the _9 of our year is considered special, particularly for the "older" generation. So those who turn 49, 59, 69, and so on and so forth, make a big fuzz about celebrating another decade. Many of us celebrate this either in pomp or in simplicity with the family. They say that celebrating your birthday at this "numerical figure" provided you long life and prosperity.

The Pinoys follow the traditional celebration - 18 years old is considered a debutante. Then there is the royal celebration when one turns 50, 60, 75, 80...and so on and so forth.

Ironically, if I look at either ways of celebrating birthdays, notice how more frequently we tend to celebrate in a more party-like manner as we reach our senior citizen age.

Perhaps we do it because every year after this "magical number" puts us (I hate to say it) a little closer to our grave? Or I would like to think that as we grow older, we thank God for another year of survival or another year of blessings or another year to hold on to.

Today, I look back at all the blessings over the years that the Lord has truly blessed me. There were good times and there were bad. Getting to where I am today was not a paved road. And as I recall the journey, I am grateful for all the rosy paths and the crosses as well. After all, one cannot celebrate happiness if one does not experience misery.

I remember 15 years ago today, I had a small gathering among my closest friends in our house. My father, who was hemiplegic after a stroke 3 years before, was a sight to behold. I had never seen him that happy for me. It was my last birthday with him and he passed away 9 days later in his sleep. He was 59 and was short 2 months to turning 60.

Today, that is how I recall my birthday. A celebration of life and the memory of a man who had been there for me at my best and worst times, who passed away a few days later. It reminds me of our mortality, and how life is truly short and how we become more appreciative of those few moments with people who are special in our lives.

I thank my friends and family who remembered to greet me and wished me well today. You are all special in my life and will always be part of me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's all about us

It will take you 4 minutes to listen to this song of Celine Dion titled My Love.

And just 1 minute to read this short blog.

I love the lyrics of the song because I believe that this is the very essence of a relationship. It is touching and direct to the point.

One of the most difficult situations to fathom is that of a relationship. Whether you're just beginning or already tied down, whether you're teenagers or already a senior citizen - there are many occasions in your relationship that posed, pose or will pose a challenge.

Every relation is a work in progress. I believe that happy beginnings are the rule. It's why we get into a relation in the first place. But happy endings, ah, that's the hard part. Only we can make a happy ending. Which means that in between the stories of our lives are the hardships that entail us to make each and every relationship work.

Sometimes, when there is trouble in paradise, we need to remember why we even ended up with our significant other the first time around. Was it for fun, for convenience, or for love?

It will always take two to tango. There should be honor and respect for one another and most of all, we need to keep each others dignity intact. Each of us provides the pillar of strength for the other. It's really about - for better or worse.

We just need to remember that in a relationship, there is no more I. It is all about US.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wish ko lang

Tatagalugin ko ito.

Sa mga hindi nakakaintindi ng Tagalog, pasensiya na muna.

Libre ang mangarap. Sana makamtam ko ang mga munting pangarap na ito, kahit na termino ni P-Noy.

1. Matigil na ang katiwalian sa pamahalaan. Ito ang balakid ng ating kaunlaran. Ito din ang dahilan kung bakit hanggang ngayon, mahirap pa din ang Pinas. Third World, ika nga. Namayagpag na ang ibang mga bansa sa Asya, pero andito pa din tayo. Pulubi. Nagmamakaawa sa ibang bansa na kunin tayo para makapaghanapbuhay ng matino sa ibang bansa. Nagpapadala ng mga OFW kung saang lupalop ng planeta.

2. Magkaroon ng disiplina ang mamamayan. Nakapagtataka na pag nasa ibang bansa ang Pinoy, ay ubod ng tino. Di nagtatapon ng basura kung saan saan. Di tumatawid kung walang pedestrian lane. Di sumasakay at bumababa ng sasakyan kung di dapat. Bakit ba dito sa Pinas eh akala mo hari ng kalsada lahat?

3. Matutong magmahal sa sariling bayan. Ang ibang mga banyaga, nakikita ang katangian ng ating bayan. Pero ang Pinoy, parang walang pakialam. Dito nagaaral ang mga Koreano ng wikang Ingles. Dito ang magagandang paaralan. Dito maganda ang mga tanawin at pasyalan. Pero parang mailap tayo maging isang destinasyon para sa mga turista. Mahirap bang pagandahin ang ating bayan?

4. Gawin ng pamahalaan ang dapat nilang gawin para sa ating bayan at mamamayan. Ang mga pulitiko naman ang maghigpit ng sinturon at di ang mga mamamayan. Kung sa tingin nila eh yayaman sila sa pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan, eh sana mamatay na lang lahat ng mga ito. Hindi lamang pagtaas ng buwis ang solusyon sa pagdagdag ng pera sa kaban ng bansa. Puede naman hindi magarbo ang sasakyan ng mga senador, kongresista, at mga lokal na namumuno. Pera natin yan.

5. Tigilan na ng simbahan ang pagaaway sa pamahalaan kung ano ang nararapat para sa mamamayan. Kung minsan di ko maintindihan kung bakit masyadong tutol ang simbahan sa mga adhikain ng pamahalaan, eh ikabubuti naman ito ng sambayanan. Mas maraming problema dapat tuntunan ng simbahan. Di ba tayo magkita sa gitna?

Andun na ako, na maraming nagawa si Ate Glue sa siyam na taon niyang bilang pangulo. Pero hindi naman ibig sabihin eh tatalikuran natin ang mga mali sa pamumuno niya, kapalit ng ibang mabuti. Sa totoo lang, ang pagnanakaw sa pagiging pinuno ng bansa eh isang malaking dagok sa kapurian ng Pilipino! Ika nga sa Ingles, the end does not justify the means.

Konting sakripisyo sa mga opisyales natin. Konting pagkumbaba. Tama na ang yabang at pagpapakita ng kayabangan. Matutong pumila. Matutong di maglagay. Walang kumpadre o kamag-anak.

Kailangan natin ng isang pagbabago. Kahit minsan lang. At ang simula nito, ay dapat sa bawat isa't isa.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Envy - it's about the I, Me, and Mine!

There is something terribly wrong with this picture.

I remember I had a student in medical school who was a scholar for and on behalf of an organization. When I asked him during the interview why he applied for the scholarship, he told me that he had always dreamed of being a doctor. When the Asian Financial Crisis hit the country, his father was out of work. The real estate business was badly hit. And his dream fell apart.

Nothing wrong in the picture? Take a closer look.

He detested his father for his current problem. He was now on his own, begging for money so that he can continue his dream. He refused to give in to his siblings who were also in school. He insisted that his siblings stop schooling (even if they were undergraduates), so that he can finish his medical school. I told him that it should actually be him who should temporarily stop school because medical school is a postgraduate course and because he has already a college degree, it should be his priority to give in to his two other siblings - one who is still in high school, and the other an undergraduate in nursing. He was adamant that it should be him who has priority. After all, he had the highest academic achievement in the family.

He got the scholarship. He did well in medical school. But it was strange that he remained estranged to his family. In the four years in medical school, he never acknowledged his father for any gains made.

His story is no different from many young children today.

They grow up in families that have had a surmountable amount of cash overflowing. When the bubble broke, the children were left in limbo, wondering why once upon a time they were able to get all the material things their hearts desired but are now dirt poor. They feel that their parents (or at least one of them) were to blame.

I have a relative who had a thriving business in the 90s. My uncle believed that education was not everything and that pure luck was responsible for one's fate. He declared that he was a self-made businessman and his business savvy was the reason for his success. It was the reason why he felt that his children did not need good education. After all, they would inherit his business when he retired. He gave his children all the material things in life. And they enjoyed all these while the good times lasted. When the chain of large hardware depots opened, the customers began to disappear. His smaller store could not compete with the much lower prices the bigger stores had to offer. In less than 5 years, he had to mortgage then sell his house and other assets. His youngest son was still in college. When his other siblings had talked to the youngest boy to move to another school because they were in so much financial difficulty, the boy was adamant. He was going to either run away from home or kill himself if he did not finish school in this exclusive and highly priced school on Taft Avenue! And no, he was not going to work part-time. He did not want to see his classmates think they were poor. He hated his life, his parents, his siblings.

The two stories run parallel to each other. Peer pressure plays a formidable role in the development of envy among the youth. They must have the toys, gadgets and gimmicks their peers have. There is a direct correlation between the kind of peer groups your children hang out with. Most (if not all), who are exposed to the "good life" would prefer to stick to that reputation.

While there is nothing wrong with ambition, I believe that children should be raised on the premise that they need to earn for their success. In short, nothing should be given on a silver platter. Children should realize the merits of hard work so that the goals are sustainable even without their parents. There is nothing wrong with having less in life yet maintaining one's dignity. Majority of the Filipino families do not raise children on this premise. They will give away things so that their children will not look poor in the eyes of their "amigas". They will flaunt what little they have in order to "keep up with the Joneses".

Even the "emerging families" from OFWs are the same. Many count their chickens before the eggs are hatched. So much so that the families become devastated when the OFW meets a catastrophic fate in a land far away. Notice how much wailing there is when an OFW dies or is incarcerated? It is not about the OFW that they are crying over, but rather the family back in the Philippines. Who will now pay for the house, the clothes, the schooling, the cell phone, the cable, the car?

There are fewer and fewer stories about how success comes out of hard work and the painstaking road we take to reach our goals in life. This is the road less traveled by the youth of today. There are lesser Efren Penafloridas or Manny Pacquiaos rather than Chris Tius and Derek Ramsays. You can see how long the queues are for every talent and reality show all because they want to be recognized and probably become overnight millionaires, sensations or stars - sometimes to the extent of selling their flesh or doing drugs.

Perhaps we need to go back on making our youth refocus on what is essential in life and how to make them survive in this dog-eat-dog world, yet maintaining their sense of morality and humanity. The great shift of "girls just want to be bad" and "bad boys rule" is a world built on envy and the way we rear our children with so much materialism is partly the problem on the why their world is all about the I, the Me, and the Mine.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Of birds and bees

In my over 25 years of pediatric practice, nothing probably shocks me anymore.

My youngest mother was 12 years old when she delivered to a baby boy. Let's call her K. She doesn't know who the father of the child is. Her mother is a single parent. At a party, all she knew was that she woke up with 5 boys on top of her. The boys were between 13-15 years old. The baby was unwanted. She did not want to see the baby and eventually the boy was adopted.

I will not elaborate on sordid details. I tell this story because it is not an isolated one.

I have several patients whose parents are less than 16 years old. For every 10 newborns I have, 2 - 3 are born to parents less than 18 years old. And I only do private practice, which means that I only cater to class A and B patients.

For Bishop Quitorio to provide an opinion that the suitable time for sex education to be taught in the Philippines is 17 years old, is highly irresponsible. He was not in touch with reality.

I do not want to demean those who preach from pulpit in this blog. While Quitorio may have his opinion on the matter, I wonder if he has had a reality check on the current situation of our youth and society today. The good bishop claims that sex education should be the responsibility of every parent. While I concur on this, what he desires as the ideal scenario is not the practice.

The following facts remain:
1. Many Filipino homes and families have both parents working. Albeit, some families have even children as young as 15 years old working to augment the meager income of the family.

2. Without a doubt, since we are major exporters of OFWs, it cannot be underscored that many lower income families have one or both parents working in other countries and their children are left to the care of relatives in the Philippines, who have their own lives and families to take care of. Which leaves the children in a quandary and in such deep psychological sh*t!

3. Children who belong to a much lower socioeconomic class are more abused - physically and emotionally. Many of them are deprived of even basic schooling. The tabloids have a daily run on sex in the slums, which I hope the Catholic Church is aware of. Children as young as a few months old are already abused, by their own parents or relatives. This is fact and not fiction.

4. Pedophilia is a psychiatric illness and is not singularly related to poverty. It comes in all walks of life. I remember I had a mother who came to me to have her two sons, aged 3 and 7 examined. I was wondering what prompted this "walk-in" consult. She said that she chanced upon her 7 year old asking her 3 year old son to perform fellatio on him. She was shaking the whole time she was telling me the story. When she confronted her 7 year old son, he said that he thought it was alright because his father and grandfather would ask him to do the same to them.

5. Technology and yes, the internet, has served as the greatest source of information on sex. Peer groups and financial wants and needs of the youth of today, coupled with troubled family dynamics, has led to the increasing problem on teenage pregnancy. All these at the tip of your fingers and with google and the RETURN key.

The church has its own problems when dealing with sex and kids. I will not expound on this because I do not want to cast the first stone. But providing unsolicited advice from the Catholic Church without properly studying the current social problem our youths face is a microscopic view on the actual problems of our children. We need a reality check on this and since the bishops seem to be giving unsolicited opinions, let me share with them two suggestions or observations:
1. Let the government provide a program. We need to trust the government on this as this is their role and responsibility to every citizen. The church does not have a program on sex education and seems to shun away from this. If the church thinks it is an anathema to provide sex education to children and should remain hush hush on the matter, there is a deeper need for the church to be more socially and spiritually relevant during this time of social change and suggest they go on a retreat and examine their conscience well enough to make an alternative program for this. We cannot have medieval beliefs compromise the future of our youth.

2. There is a dire need to preach from the pulpit more relevant matters. I probably am lucky that the church I go to for Sunday services has a parish priest that is relevant to the times. But I am sure that you will all agree with me that this is more of an exception rather than a rule. Many Sunday sermons are a yawn. Many of the priests do not even make tangible sense and some even come unprepared to the extent that the Theological discourse is all scattered and becomes an exercise in futility. No matter how one tries to concentrate on the celebration, its relevance has become mundane. In short, there is no take home message from mass.

The trouble with the church in trying to put some sense into morality to try to explain the birds and the bees to children is that they rely too much on fear. They fear that every child who is integrated into a sex education class will come out to be nymphomaniacs or macho studs and will engage in more cavorting is like believing that all children who receive vaccines will eventually become autistic.

It was a great man who died for mankind on the cross 2000 years ago who asked Peter to feed His lamb and tend His sheep. The only way for a good shepherd to care for its sheep is to guide them through these trying times by working WITH and not against what the government can do for the good of its people. In this little way, can the church be more relevant with the times.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sparkling in the City

There are movies, and there are MOVIES.

After 2 years, the much awaited sequel, Sex and the City 2 is actually a respite from all the melodramatic or fantasy-themed movies that has come out for the summer. In spite of the very thin plot where the 4 girls - Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda - gather on screen of another reunion on the celebration of friendship and life, the 2 hr and 25 minutes movie does not in any way disappoint.

Alright, so the plot was thin. Two years after Big and Carrie marry, it was time to review the lives of the 4 girls. Behind all the glitz and glamor of fashion and extravagance, is the shallow plot of happiness and the road couples take in search of it. It may not have been as heady as the first installment of the movie, but it got the message through.

Where is the sparkle now? While the central character of Carrie has been the prime mover of every Sex and the City story, this second installment of the franchise movie has graduated to integrate the lives of the four women in the most hilarious and believe it or not, fun way. Way too cool, way too funny and way too sexy.

It's an adult comedy film that literally was a feel good movie. The first few minutes of the film rewinded to the exact paths where and how Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte became the best of friends in New York City. It then fast forwarded to their lives today, where their lives have literally changed from searching for opportunities and breaks to finding themselves in their own comfort zones.

But Samantha's role as a 52 year old menopausal "bitch" in heat was the central humor and tacky delight to the movie when the girls get invited by Samantha, who got invited by a rich sheik, on an all paid first class vacation to Abu Dhabi. From the first class service on the airline, to individual private limousines and butlers, to a $22,800 a night suite in a resort oasis in the middle of the desert, the jaw-dropping, eye-popping, grand and glamor life of the rich and famous was a sight to behold and envy.

Wishful thinking is all I could dream of while watching the movie!

But the ironic twists because of hormones gone wild or of love once lost and found again or of two friends confessing to each other their problems over alcohol drinks that served as an awakening of guilt lost and guilt found became a most entertaining feature of the film. It would have been fun though if the girls had all missed the flight and eventually been downgraded to coach class on their 12 hour flight back home from Abu Dhabi to New York City. That would have been a blast, but I'm sure it would have eaten up another 20 minutes of the raucus in-flight and douse water on the glamorous lives of these 4 women.

The downside of the film is that I thought that Sarah Jessica Parker looked awfully thin and cachectic for a woman in her 50s and that her acting was very much "trying hard". She was playing the role too cute and trying too hard to look and feel like she's 15 when she actually is "over the hill". I probably expected more from this multi-awarded actress and it looked a bit odd that she was all giggly throughout the film. Aside from that, the acting was generally good to great, especially with Kim Cattrall (Samantha) who was delightfully hilarious, bitchy, and horny!

The gay wedding integrated into the first part of the film with Liza Minelli doing the honors of not only guesting in the movie but providing a song during the wedding was an indication that partnerships are actually not limited to men and women. In the end, you'll find the same story intertwined in the nanny! I thought that was a good way to find a fitting end to such a gay beginning.

So what did I think of the movie?

I thought it was an adult comedy and it was full of fun. Bring out the popcorn, leave behind the kids (and I mean those brats who scream and run around in the movie house the whole movie), bring your spouse or partner or friends or gang of friends, forget all your inhibitions and prude attitude, put off that mobile phone in the moviehouse - and have a great time with the girls. You just might find what sparkles you - again!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It's June and the first blog for this month is actually a DARE!

I have heard so many comments on Facebook on Noynoy. While I campaigned and voted for him, I have heard so many unsolicited opinions even before he has even been proclaimed president.

My golly, if you look at some of the comments, they are actually uhmm...for a better choice of word - silly!

I guess Noynoy has not realized that he has been elected to the highest position in the land. His answers to comments from media (friendly or unfriendly) and from uzis (usisero, like you and I) are a "what you see is what you get" scenario. They're the kind of answers that do not have a political flair. In short, they're frank and candid. When asked if he would stop smoking, he answers flatly - NO. It may not be the right answer we want to hear, but it's his answer. You cannot make someone change his mind if he does not want to.

Perhaps in time, Noynoy will probably have answers that may be more "politically correct". Like all other politicians, there will come a time when they will learn how to play politics as well, especially when they plan to make a career out of governance and die with a political career in their ass.

Perhaps I don't get the point, as people would put it, that he is a bad example to the youth. Come on. I don't think your kids would even dare touch a cigarette if you didn't want him/her to. It takes the Philippine media to hype something as menial a matter as this. I am not defending Noynoy. Sure he smokes. Is that a big deal that he does? I mean, we didn't even lift an iota of a finger at GMAs apparently cheating and nepotism in politics. Of course Gloria didn't smoke. But the greater sin was looked at the other way. We did not go up in arms on Erap's gambling and womanizing and publicly declaring he has so many families in his life. Did any of you bother to comment on his propensity for cavorting?

I think we are making a big deal out of nothing. Noynoy is a smoker. Period. He has been advised not to smoke. Period. How he deals with this vice is up to him and perhaps his advisers in the future will encourage him to take the right path. But puhleeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzz stop nit picking.

This country has bigger problems than the president lighting a cigarette!

But media is helping ignite a flame instead of helping douse that fire. A word of advice to the media - it is time to push what is good, rather than the inane silly nothings.

Let me be blunt about it.

Do you think that if you had a newborn baby now, he would even recognize who his president was at the age of 6? These children have their parents to look up to. Role modeling does not begin with the president, but begins at home. If you're lousy parents to your children, you cannot blame the president of the Philippines if your child grows up to be stupid and idiotic! You can only blame yourselves.

It is media that is directly responsible for all the bad publicity we're getting as a nation. It is media that can help change this country and shape it into what it should be. But a media that runs "free" on the claim of "freedom of the press" is a likely adversary to the road of improvement for the Philippines.

We are not alone. There are a lot of problems in other countries as well. The United States or other countries is not as rosy as what people think they are and that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Ironically, the local media seems to be just at each others neck in trying to outdo each others ratings. No matter how mundane the situation, it's gotta receive attention. And the controversy is fanned by an irresponsible media that continues to hype what is not of primary importance.

Even Boy Abunda has been dragged into the picture. So Noynoy has probably invited Abunda to join his cabinet. So what? With the many lackeys that have lined up with their curriculum vitae in Times Street, job hunting for a position in government, you'd think that these people ought to get a life!

The Catholic Bishops of the Philippines has asked Aquino to remove the plan to introduce sex education in the schools. Why? Isn't it better that they are aware of it rather than succumb to predators because they have no idea that they are already being molested? Let's not be holier than though. I think even the men in cloaks should look at themselves closely in the mirror at the greater sins that they humanly commit, rather than the greater good that right and correct education provides.

I agree with Noynoy that there are many competent people out there. But the best, the brightest, and the most honest will doubtfully accept a government position, if only for the pay. Unless that person thinks that he can make a gargantuan amount from his public office position (and eventually become richer like Ate Glue and her family whose assets have risen by gazillion percent over her 9 years in public office), then I doubt if there will be serious takers.

A full-time government position requires you to give up many things, including the comfort of making a decent living. It does not assure you that you will last in office as well. Neither does it assure you that you will still have a job waiting for you after 6 years. And those that cling on to government positions and are even willing to kill for the sake of staying on in politics have a different agenda in their portfolio.

My LV, Gucci and Prada bags are more than how much the president of the republic of the Philippines makes. I don't think that I would want to change lanes into a government career because that would make my wants and needs unreachable, at the expense of being honest. I am not that wealthy to go into retirement for the sake of the Filipino people.

I have always said that only the Aquinos believe that the Filipino is worth dying for. It's one reason I voted for Noynoy. He can stake his life to change the path the country is treading.

So this is my blog opinion.

And I will start this month with a dare. I dare Noynoy to change the way the Philippines is - no graft and corruption. I dare his detractors and those who provide solicited and unsolicited opinion to be more positive in attitude as well as prudent in their words of advice. No nit picking and crab mentality. I dare the Filipinos to work and get their act together to make the change this country so direly needs.

After six more years with Noynoy as president, let's review the dare!