Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shopping in Divisoria?

If you're shopping for gift-giving this Christmas, going to Divisoria is a good decision if you are tight on budget or you are going to shop in bulk. There are many reasons why Divisoria is the best place to buy gifts for the season, but there are several things you have to consider if you decide to go there.

Divisoria is the center of commercial trade in Manila where wholesalers and retailers flock together. Most Chinese merchants have maintained the area to do their business there, from since the Spanish times. From textile to everything else that you will need in your home, to the food you can serve in your table, you will find them there. Since Divisoria is a huge and busy place to shop especially near Christmas season, you will have to plan your shopping and prepare to be bumping with other people as you walk the streets.

First of that plan is to make your list. Make this list as detailed and organized as possible. This list will make it more easier for you to do your shopping and it will do a lot convenience in terms of moving from one place to another at a lesser time. In your list, make sure you have the names and a guide for you on what to buy for them. Example if you're buying gifts for kids and when you're thinking to give them toys, write down on your list your preferred type of gift to give that person. Then, you can sort this list as to the types of gifts that you would give.

Second, you should know where to go. Divisoria is known for suppliers of all kinds of goods. The shops that sells similar products can be found concentrated in an area. For a variety of goods, Divisoria Mall, Cluster Mall, Tutuban Mall and 168 Mall may have all you need. There are also other shopping stalls inside the building nearby. Don't hesitate to explore them because you may find good buys at a lesser price there. If you are going to buy toys for kids and you want to save some more from your budget, it would be better to drop by at a building across Divisioria Mall.

Third, check the goods you buy for some defects. As a consumer you have the purchasing power and the right to quality products. While we shop we tend to be tired and so we just want to finish shopping as soon as possible. Another thing is that we tend be visually attracted to the design and color of the products that we are looking at. With these, we tend to forget to check the quality of the products that we buy, to find our selves regretting later on what we bought. Check if the product your buying is working, especially if they operate mechanically. Check the clothes your buying for some stains, holes, loose seams, fabric quality etc.

Fourth, haggle beyond the last price that they will give you. Divisioria is a bargain mecca. If you go to shops, you will find that they post price tags on cardboards. But as you approach and pretend that you are thinking, they will whisper to you the last price. That last price is just for retail. Remember, if you buy in bulk they will give the wholesale price. The wholesale price is always lower than the retail price. A shirt sold for example at 80 pesos can be bought for 150 if you buy two. But if you know how to haggle, they will give that to you at 75 for a piece. If you're buying 6 or dozen, you should be able to get that for 70 or 60 pesos.

Fifth, be mindful of your belongings and your safety. Divisoria is a market place. It is not a place for social function to flaunt how wealthy you are. Don't come with accessories, even if that is fancy because you don't want to cut your ears. Make sure your money is placed where no other hands can get in without you noticing it. Place your money in tight front pockets, never inside your bag that someone can pull from you. Never bring handbags because you don't want those pretty bags slashed with surgical knives. Take a big market bag with you where you can put all the things you buy. If the things you buy get heavy, you can politely ask some store attendants whether you can leave the packs you buy in their stores for a while.

Sixth, for your protection and support to our economy, make sure that you get your receipt. Your receipt will compel the store owners to pay their due taxes, and the same receipt is your proof of purchase, so in cases that you may need to return the product you bought if it had defects you may do so. But some shops don't have any recipts. If they are shops inside a building they should, so you must demand for a recipt. Only those stalls outside the building don't have receipts, because they are selling retailers and micro enterprises. Buying in these stalls do not give you any warrantee aside from the fact that the prices there are really no comparison with those from wholesalers.

Lastly, take your time in shopping. You might find yourself in a Christmas rush, but don't be in a hurry. Take your time as you shop, choose and have some time to rest. While you are in Divisoria, you'll be walking and walking, and stop only to ask for price or check goods. Being in a hurry is a compulsive buyer's behavior. You would need to think of what you are buying, as to its price, quality, brand or authenticity. Find some time to rest also when you feel tired. Try some authentic chinese cuisine from the area. Try the streets foods for your gastronomic delight, but if you're digestive track is sensitive. But if you are prone to easily get sick because of what you eat, dine in the fastfood and drink only bottled water.

I hope those stuffs I mentioned here may be useful for you. There is idiom for compulsive buyers: "Shop till you drop". With the many things you can find in Divisoria, I'm sure you'll drop as you will have all the fun and adventure of shopping. I was there today, and yet I was not able to finish my shopping list so I guess I'll find another day of shopping there again soon.

Puwede Bang Tagalog sa English Class?

After three meetings that I did not meet my class because of suspension, holiday and a simulation exercise, we all missed each other. The worst of it is that some of my students have either missed the fact that they are in an English class with me, or that they have missed how to use the English language.

I was teaching them about the use of the American Psychological Association's referencing and documentation style. Our lesson focused on how to cite sources of borrowed information in the body of the text. I have read several versions of the APA manual except the latest one. I have as well given seminars on its use to faculty members in the school. Lastly I have been using it for the many research papers I did since my MA years. But that's not the story I want to tell.

The challenge in our lesson is that I didn't have to tell the students the rules in APA in-text citation. Instead, I presented them an exhibit of how it is appropriately used. So they had to read through a one page document using the APA referencing style. Then, they had to come up with 15 rules they can think of, but they should justify why those are the rules.

I noticed one student was having difficulty in the task. She said, "Sir, bakit di mo na lang ibigay sa amin yung rules? Alam ko na yan nung high-school pero nakalimutan ko na". (Sir, why don't you just give us the rules? I know them from highschool, but have forgotten them already). So she knew it before, just half year ago from highschool. I told the class, that she had a legitimate comment, but I could not grant the request.

I told the class that I can read them all the rules, and explain them, but they won't withstand the gruelling task of listening to me, because there are just so many of those rules. I also emphasized that if i give them the rules then show them examples, they will just forget them anyway after all. But if they examine the text, think of the applicable rules, then they own the knowledge they have learned on their own. So, after a few minutes that the class was having some trouble in thinking of the rules, I called their attention to focus on the exhibit.

So I taught for a couple of minutes, blah blah blah blah. I asked them to look at one line where there is a citation, and then I asked why and why and when and where and how. Then I called one. Hmm. He was for a minute so articulate, and he was making sense with the rule and explanation he was bringing up. Then I asked him another question for another line.

He articulated for a while in English then ran out of words. Suddenly he squinted, "Sir pede po ba ipaliwanag sa Tagalog?" (Sir,can I explain in Tagalog?" I retorded, "Maari mo namang ipahayag ang kung ano ang iyong nababatid na paliwanag patungkol sa tuntunin na nakikita mo sa teksto. Gayundin, ang sinuman rito ay maaring manaGalog, kung kanilang nananaiisin. Ngunit, kung kayo ay maghahayag ng inyong mga kaisipan sa Tagalog, nais kong matuwid at pormal na paggamit ng wikang Pambansa. Ayaw kong makarinig ng anumang Taglish."

One student answered. "Sir, Nais ko pong magbigay ng aking haka-haka." I told him, "Hindi maari, dahil tinawag mo akong Sir,at iyan ay hindi Filipino." The class rolled in laughter. Then he switched into using English, and so did the rest of the class.

After a while when my students have shared some of the rules they could think of, the task was easier for them to complete.Never again, did I hear anyone from that class, speak to me in Tagalog. Check this cartoon, that explains why our students can't speak straight English.

Monday, November 22, 2010

On Love and Apathy

What is the opposite of love? The common answer to this question is "hate". But it is wrong. Another would be "anger" but again it is wrong. Responding to this question, one needs to reconcile himself with his knowledge of love.

What is love? Love is a feeling. It is a positive feeling. Hate is a feeling which has negative connotations, but which could still lead to something positive. We hate because we feel, and we hate because we have learned to love, have loved and experienced love. Yet, at one moment, that love seems to fade.

Like hate, anger could result positively. First, it places the furious individual into a catharsis. Second, it makes the other person aware of what another feels. Anger could be another expression of hate, or a result of hate. Now, again, both can be traced to love.

Sometimes, hate turns into anger, yet anger will also subside. Hate may also subside, like anger. But with love, we may only fall out of it, if we fell on it. But love will remain. And, we will love again. Love can dissolve hate, love can ward off anger. But patience which is a cord that holds civility or propriety, can be broken by the fuming wrath of anger.

Anger is a natural human emotion. Suppress it, then you'll turn berserk. Let it explode uncontrollably then you'll strain yourself to your demise. I personally feel that it is not wrong to get angry, it is not wrong to let the other person important to you know of the things you hate. These are not moral or ethical issues. Simply because, things about you dislike or like has to be clear for better understanding.

But there will never be understanding, until both persons consider their selves to be on the same ground. Talking things out at different planes will not really work to better a relationship. Malcolm Gladwell emphasizes this point in "BLINK" that couples who go into conflict and never settle things on the same plane, end up in divorce. Another cue to this impending break up is when persons in relationships tend to attack each other by attributing the wrong deed to the identity of that person.

The human frailty is that we get so inflicted with even a little doze of painful anger or bitter hatred. That must be recognized, for they are emotions, they are natural, they have reasons to occur, and they have meaning in the relationships. They can not just be kept, or shrugged off like dandruff from one's shoulder. They have to be processed.

The process to overcome anger and hatred is turn to love. First, identify and recognize what you feel. Then, charge that positive emotion by refocusing your attention to things that you love, to your self, to your family, to your career, to your friends, to your interests and to God. Stay away for a while to what causes your anger and hatred, but do not leave that fragment of your memory as if nothing really happened. This should give you the time and space to reflect and find where you are coming from. Then, learn from it, unlearn some things and relearn those that really matter.

The departure from anger or hatred should be but temporal. It can never be eternal. You have to face them anew to deal with them. For those who remain unforgiving only burdens himself with a cross that he should never carry. That would be masochistic. A street smart philosophy that could work is "why bother yourself with anything that stresses you". That perhaps is their purpose in life, to be a burden to others and to stress others. They will be surely successful in that. So you must be cunning to find your space where you can be nurtured positively.

So what is the opposite of love? It is apathy. It is indifference. It is numbness to other's feelings. Again you can hate without losing love, you can be angry without losing love. But when you are apathetic, you can neither love nor hate, neither can you be angry. If this is where you find yourself, no one else can love because you can not feel love, as no one else matters to you. If what is more important to you, is your self, and no one else, that is pathetic. If you feel that you can never do a mistake and you can just blame someone else for your own wrong decisions, words and actions, that is egotistic. If you can play with other's feelings or ignore them like they don't matter, that is apathy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Differentiating a Champion from the Fighter

Via unanimous decision from the judges Manny Pacquiao won over Antonio Margarito, which gives him a new title as Super Welterweight world champion. This gives the pinoy champion his eight world title.

Margarito is taller by 6 inches and a little heavier than Pacquiao, but the Boxing Congressman from Saranggani had 3 cuts for Margarito,in a bout to the 12th round. Speed and precision were Manny's advantage over the Mexican boxer.

The Filipino people salute Manny Pacquiao for this National pride. Once again, the roads are clear of traffic and crime rate will be lower if not zero on this day. This is simply because the people's attention are in the arena to watch Filipino boxer in his bout.Then when he comes home, he will be received with a hero's welcome.

2000 years ago, the Emperors of Ancient Rome have built coliseums and arenas for the entertainment of the publicans and patricians, as they watch clad warriors fight for their lives against man and beasts.In this ancient spectacle,the one who wins becomes the public's hero, winning his life and freedom from slavery.

Pacquiao's feat has glorified himself as Filipino masses' hero. His image as a fighter that goes with his humility and heart for the ordinary people, like he was, made him win a legislative post. He has freed himself from poverty, coming from humble beginnings in life. If it were not for his potentials, his genius in the boxing sports and his determination to win the matches, he would have been like other has been boxers.

I saw the HBO's feature on this fight. In the feature, a viewer can clearly distinguish the character of a champion from a mere fighter. Margarito spoke confidently about his preparations, his previous bouts and his physical advantage. Believing that he was the 'tornado'. While Margarito is proud and confident, Manny's confidence comes with acknowledgement of his physical disadvantage and his preparations. He humbly tells that he knows what to do because he is conditioned and he has prepared for the match.

Manny may have been enjoying the fruits of his feats with a high-stature lifestyle. He deserves so. But as a sportsman, he understands his obligations to keep his body and mind fit for the game. He spends months of preparation for a game.He can be luxurious and extravagant in his life, but he knows where and how to invest his earnings.

While the two boxers are both Catholics, there is something that differentiates Manny. He has this ritual of praying in a corner of a ring. He keeps this rosary hanging on his neck. For faithful, this can be understood as an act of submission to God's will and invoking God's guidance. This is simply Manny's. I've seen other Catholic boxers make the sign of the cross, and others hang big crosses on their necks. But, it is only Manny who kneels and prays even though others are chaotic in the stage. Manny knows himself, and he knows the source of his strength. He believes in the power of physical strength that is reinforced by spiritual power.

Another trait that is admirable about Manny is that he never speaks of anything evil against his opponent. He speaks about himself and him alone and leave anything else to the bout's fate.

I am not a boxing fanatic. But I guess I am now a fan of Manny as boxing hero that young Filipinos should emulate. He is a champion, in character and spirit, not just fighter who finds satisfaction in violent blood. I could give Manny the title as the Boxer of the 21st Century.

Acknowledgement: Photo from AP by David Philip, Nov. 13, 2010 from

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finding Meanings to Vivid Dreams

Dream interpretation is a hermeneutic effort that aims to explain by constructing meaning to the symbols incorporated in the dreams. Scientist are baffled by the dreams that the conscious mind can recall from the subconscious.

Dream interpretation is not a science neither it is scientific. I'd rather consider it as an art that struggles to fortify itself with bits of scientific knowledge. One explanation that sounds scientific is that dreams are metaphors that the subconscious mind creates and is subject to interpretation by the conscious mind. It can only be understood once it is shared as an object to be understood in the wake life context of the person.

Science knows when we dream. Thus we have the term REM or rapid eye movement. Which signals when the eyes are moving rapidly, the person in deep sleep is actually dreaming. But science did not take much effort in collecting those dreams and documenting them for analysis, except for Sigmund Freud that used it for his psychoanalysis.

Once I was baffled by vivid a dream. The one that I could recall from a night's sleep. Science says that we dream dreams but we can not recall of all them. Those that we can remember become significant because they are so vivid in our subconscious that it could be perceived once more in the conscious or waking life.

I dreamt I was on a small boat without a paddle, sail or rudder. The boat was moving to the east. I saw myself standing on the boat, my arms were spread as if I want to catch all the breeze that touched my face. The sky and water had no end, I could not determine where the blue sea and white sky meet. There was the sun, so bright, and the boat was moving towards the seemingly rising sun. The boat was white, and I was wearing white clothes. All I could see was my back as I was there facing the sun while the boat was moving by itself on the silent vast sea.

That dream came to me, 6 years ago, before I went back to the Philippines. "Dream experts" say that dreams are either re-cognitions or pre-cognitions in the subconscious. Thus they are contextualized as to the wake life of the person. Those precognitions can not be determined as such until it has happened as it was interpreted to be. Those re-cognitions are metaphorical representations of what happened in the waking hours.

Dreams, to me, are the efforts of our subsconscious to alert us on the waking life we spend, in ways that are symbolic. If they are pre-cognitions, it alerts us to what our mind understand of what is happening and what is going to happen. Dreams should not impair or debilitate us. If a dream puzzles us, then what we need is to reflect on our lives and not to subject it to other's interpretations.

If there is a rationale for everything, and there we create meaning to things, dreams as a system of symbols can be explained, interpreted and understood. Before it can be understood, it must be recalled down to the details.

I have a personal belief that dreams have meanings and they are influenced by our waking lives and as they are part of our mental processes, they affect our waking lives as well. Both dreams that we construct consciously or subconsciously are part of our wake life. My belief in dream interpreation stems foremost from my faith and secondly from my limited understanding of what psychology and humanities understand dreams to be.

I see dreams like an abstract painting cast in the canvass of our subsconscious. It is our minds constructions that which come from a lot of things while we are conscious. They are so fast, that we could be dreaming of a lot of things in millisecond. The Bible speaks of meanings of dreams, science speaks of the relation of our dreams in our lives, and hermeneutics account for various meanings of the symbols of our dreams as life metaphors. Socio-cultural archetypes are often the symbols in our dreams.

While I was in the Middle East, there was a night that I dreamt I travelled to the Biblical times from Genesis to the Apocalypse. I didn't try to interpret what that means. I was just so happy that I got a chance to experience that holy pilgrmage in a dream.

I feel that the dream I had while I was on a boat speaks of my repressed thoughts of moving out of the job, and returning home where I will have my peace of mind. The boat was still and so the waters, suggesting that there is nothing that I have to be worried about. The presence of the blue sky and the blue sea suggest of the many potentials and opportunities that I have. The image of the sun, represents light, enlightenmnent and spiritual calm to my part. The dream also speaks of the fact that I am free to make the choice, and the joy is mine to make that choice.

That dream of my life journey was recognition of myself and precognition that I was going back home or starting a new journey in life. I could give meaning to my dreams as well as I could direct my dreams. The latter is another thing that I will blog sometime soon.