Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Unconventional Value of Filipinos for Assertiveness

"Mataray" is one impression some people have about me, when I happen to express what I feel or what I think of something that doesn't really sound good or works well for me. My audacity is often construed to being tactless.

"I won't relent being audacious or bold with my ideas, when I can justify them to be sound, practical and reasonable. I'd rather assert my thoughts than keep them to myself if they are worth expressing to promote a good cause."

I am really opposite of being mataray. If I were, I should have the guts to be confrontive. I am not even quarrelsome to fight others because I feel I deserve more. When I am hurt, I'd rather keep that to myself, and release the pain in solitude. Casting my worries to the air really works best for me.

On Speaking my Mind

One time, I sat in a teaching demo. I got really annoyed with the clanging sound of the bangles the teacher was wearing. Afterwards, we were given the chance to ask her questions. First, I asked the usual essential questions. Then I asked the applicant, how she felt wearing those bangles and hearing them clang.

Smartly, she retorded that she felt alright with them, and then she asked me if I were annoyed with it. My reply was, "I could bear with it, but it might be distracting to some students". With that she jolted to one of my colleague how she was pissed with question and my katarayan. She told another teacher, that I was being too nosy.

Last night, I tagged along with my friends to eat in this new restaurant near the campus. The queue was a bit long, and the service was slow. Visibly there are two counters, so we all ligned up to one where there were no customers on queue. Only to be redirected to another counter to place our order, because that first counter was just for payment.

So we placed our order, and I was so famished. Then I moved to the next counter, and the crew asked me, what my order was. I asked "Do I have to memorize my order and repeat it for you, don't you get the information in your POS? I thought this counter is just for paying!?" I stood there, without repeating my order. She went to the first counter and got the receipt.

There have been many instances that some of my friends and colleagues are surprised as to how I could speak boldly about my ideas. Some even say, my trait in so un-Filipino. I get into arguments with other teachers, with staff in malls or restaurants. Sometimes, they are scared that I could get into a fight.

Again, I am not quarrelsome. In words, I just want my ideas heard so that appropriate actions will be taken. That is assertiveness.

Thinking with Our Conquered Minds

For many Filipinos to be assertive is uncoventional, because we operate in a socio-cultural system where we are constrained to be in social accord with others.

To many of us, we don't have the courage to tell another that we are hurt by their actions or words. So we wallow on the pain and then just avoid those who hurt us, as long we could. That is if we could. If we could not, we extend our tolerance for pain. But this allows a leeway for others to use and abuse us.

Most Filipinos see assertiveness not only unconventional, but socially unfitting. Those who assert their views are even branded as mayabang. Those who are able to ascend and grow because they are able to assert worthwhile ideas that contribute to the decision making process and development in any organization are tagged as walang pakisama.

Assertiveness, I believe, is one universal value. Highly effective people who have found thier voice, speak in the same tone and is able to evoke and inspire others. Apparently, it is one among the traits of many great men in history, a cultural value common from the Northern and Western hemisphere of the world.

In successful multinational companies, it is one trait that is highly valued. Those who have it, moves up in the ladder of carreer success. Those who don't remain in their cubicles wishing that someday they will succeed.

Timidity is the opposite of assertiveness. Timidity is not meekness. We must have been conquered because of our warm hospitality, but we were colonized because of our timidity. We won our independence from our colonizers because the great few who were assertive of our rights to liberty, evoked the people to revolt.

Now we see assertiveness negatively. This is a post-colonial mentality. We don't want others to speak up and speak out because their assertiveness is unconventional. It is not easily acceptable because we feel that it violates our value for timidity. Worst, we find assertiveness as being tactless.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Of Peoples and Revolutions

Twenty five years ago, I was able to take part in the historical Filipino people's revolution in EDSA that overthrew the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. I was just ten years old that time. From the news we saw Ramos and Enrile deflecting from the government, over the radio we heard the call of the Archbishop of Manila to support the two political figures and Corazon C. Aquino.

The silence of the Filipino people was broken. A woman in yellow led the Filipinos into a peaceful revolt to oust Marcos: "Tama na! Sobra na! Palitan na!" those where the very words of Aquino who took the post that Marcos left. There should have been no EDSA revolution if Marcos did not cheat in the snap election that would have seated Aquino in Malacanang at an earlier date before the People's Power.

It was called People's Power by the media, and it lasted for three days. Those were uncertain nights for my family. During those nights, tanks coming from Villamor passes by our streets going to EDSA via Kalentong and Shaw Boulevard. Figthing tanks and army carriers keep on passing. To my mind, I asked: "What was going on?"

My aunt who was a union leader, explained it to me in simple ways, that the "Philippines was about to change through a revolution". She tagged me along with my sister and brother unto EDSA. From Guadalupe we walked towards Camp Crame and Camp Auginaldo. EDSA was not divided that time by the MRT line.

It was a long walk, and people are coming from every corner of the road. People with yellow banners and other paraphernalias, with posts calling for Marcos to step down. Religious groups with the icons of Our Lady of Fatima also walk towards where we were heading. Nuns, priests, mestizos, chinese walk with ordinary people like us. Young, old, rich and poor. Just about anyone and everyone were going there.

The mood was jubillant, as if Marcos' ouster was anticipated. There were barrackades of uniformed men and barbed wires. People would stop for a while until soldiers would allow us to go forth to our direction. Food was a plenty and drinks were overflowing, and they were all free for everyone. There were no political paraphernalias sold, everything was free, shirts, arm bands, ribbons, caps, flowers, religious items like rosaries and bible and others.

At some instances the mood swings to a nostalgic nationalism. People are singing "Bayan Ko" and other political and nationalistic songs while marching. The walk was a risk, but the people seemed to find strength in their number and in their cry for freedom from the Marcos dictatorship. The roaring cry of the public were like drumbeats that thrill the heart of the people in an imminent victory.

After the long walk to Ortigas Avenue, we settled to rest for a while. We joined the praying of the rosary, while tanks from Crame and Aguinaldo keeps on moving little by little to ward off the crowd. Women and men stood still, in front of those tanks unafraid. As tanks moved, people moved closer until, the military is just so close to the people to recieve from them rosaries and flowers and food and drinks.

That was the second night of the revolution, and more peole came in to join the mass on the third day. People stayed there, pray, sung songs, joined hands and told the world that the Filipino are peoples of peace, that we are capable of bringing change in our society without bloodshed.

On its last night, as there were people in EDSA, there were also people building up in Mendiola, breaking the barracades of the Malacanang Palace. Even though others believe that Marcos would not have stepped down without the US intervention, the Filipino people who stood for our freedom, who were there in EDSA and at the Malacananang were the true heroes of the People's Power revolution.

Then, I learned that the phenomenon of a people's revolution is not necessarily coercive, brute and fatal. It is not a protracted war and it does not require an arms struggle. It is spontaneous and social, and disregards political color, religion, ethnicity, economic status or ideology.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ears and Mouth Disease

I coin this term ears and mouth disease to refer to the communication pathology of mishandling what has been shared to only one by sharing it to another. It is rumor in the same sense, but without the malice of gossiping or badmouthing. It is viral in a sense that it passes into the the veins of an organization's communication system or its grape vine.

Who can get the disease? Anyone, who is opportuned to have been made aware of someone's situation, experience, thoughts or feelings, about another person or anything that is within the organization, particularly within the context of hot issue where everyone is affected.

It manifests when the ears hear something that the mouth can't hold, to be kept for along time. So the carrier is the first to experience something related to the hot issue, the one affected by the context, and the one opportuned is just a medium or channel.

The medium will have no interest to mouth what the ears heard, not unless it is tuned to speak. What tunes the medium in is when context or issue is brought to the discussion. The medium then gives the lead, through a blind item. In the item the facts are laid bare, but the essentials to protect the primary carrier are kept for ethical purposes.

The other interested ears would continue to tune in the medium so they could get the foggy message clearer. The medium makes the signal clearer, because the main carrier did not put a gatekeeper to hold the message from being transmitted to another. The medium has its own filter. It selectively chooses the next opportuned ears to hear what has been mouthed in its listening ears.

The message will be passed on and on, because it simply can not be held. It is too hot that the receiving ears send it to the mouth to extinguish, but it is too hot even for the mouth to keep. It can not be swallowed for it is a waste deposit, it can not be spat because the earth is not worth of it. It can't linger as a thought, because the smoke will get through the ears.

The carrier catches ears and mouth desease from someone or something that gives him a bad experience from an unconventional situation arising from the hot issue. It is like being burned and to get the fire out of the skin, the carrier wags it to someone else.

When it is passed on, it relieves the carrier, and that medium must passed it on again to another to be relieved as well. The transmission is not perpetual though. It dies off naturally, when the hot issue is put off. But, it would have not been tranmitted, if the first to acquire it had the natural instinct to put the fire off as is where is.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Single's Awareness Day

I didn't know there is this special day for singles to be aware that they are singles. Gosh! It's celebrated during Valentine's Day. I realized this contemporary phenomenon when I greeted my students this morning, a happy valentine's day. One replied, "Sir it's single's awareness day".

It makes sense really, because this commercialized occasion points to the face of those who are not into dating, that they are single. But, does that mean they should be finding some ways to get into a relationship?

My status is kind of complicated. To some people, when they learn of my age, they would ask me why am I not married. I would ask them back "why? or "what's the matter with being single?". Then, they would reply that I ought to get married so I can be happy.

Non sequitur! In this world, there is a rising statistics of divorce, annulment, polygamy, bigamy, infidelity, adultery, marital rape, domestic violence between partners. I do not advocate the aboliton of marriage, but marriage is not a guarantee to one's happiness. There are also those in monogamous relationship who regret engaging into such commitment.

I am convinced that the sanctity of marriage is in the commitment between partners to love each other as long as they live (or as long as they can)? The commitment to love, fidelity, loyalty and support to each other only manifest in grace. That's the mystery in a relationship, but not everyone is designed for marriage.

Happiness in life is not also guaranteed in getting into a relationship. It is not in the relationship, but in the love that you share with a partner. Happiness is an experience not limited to human relationships. Happiness is making the best of who you are, where you are and what you have at any time and state of your life.

Consider the celibates. They relate with so many people and find happiness in their life. Consider the eunuchs, who in their celibacy also find happiness in life. Consider those who committed their lives into serving God, as brothers, nuns, and priests, or monks. They find their happinesss beyond human relationships bound by marriage.

Relationships are important, socially, physically and psychologically. Perhaps, happiness is also found in the relationship of one's person to himself in the context of living with the many others, and to that Eternal love.

To get into a relationship because you want to be happy is, for me, selfish. But to be in relationship with others because you want to make that person or persons happy is selfless, and that is love. Single people are capable of this and deserving to be happy in the state of life that they choose.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why did I want to be a teacher?

Honestly, I had never thought nor seen my self being a teacher. I studied to work in the media, any media because all I needed was a job. But, working a short-stint in an entertainment magazine bored me in its routine.

When I felt I mastered the operations in the office, I lost the zest to continue. Aside from that my college classmates, according to their bragging, were so doing well and financially satisfied with their jobs. I needed a job that would pay higher, and I wanted something that will pull me off my feet and challenge me to become more competent.

I didn't look for a teaching job. It found me. A college classmate informed me of an openning for a teaching position where he was already working. That computer college was at its peak before the Y2K bug, because IT was the thing in the coming millenium. I forwarded my resume, and the college called me for an interview with their Human Resource Director.

I passed the initial screening and the examinations. I was scheduled for a demo lesson with the dean, a group students, and some teachers, including my 'friend'. The students and teachers were satisfied enough with my demo teaching. They applauded after it, like as if I was an actor. Then the panel interviewed me.

The dean asked why I wanted to be a teacher. My honest answer was that I share with others who wants a job, but I furthered, I thought I had what a teacher needed to have. I believed then, that I had knowledge that I could share to the students. My 'friend' who was pursuing then his masteral studies, put me in the hot seat.

He pointed to my face, that I didn't have the qualifications and that I didn't have any masteral units. I replied that I was willing to learn and pursue further education. That was my humble and humiliating beginning, which I thought I just wanted to try, but later on I learned to love it and give more to it with passion. After then, there was no other vocation that I entertained except teaching. Now, do I still want to be a teacher?

Teaching found me, and I found my self in it for through it I am able to share not only knowledge but my self. I will be alienating my self to who I am and who I want to be in any other field. No matter how difficult it could get, I will find my way through it because I know what I do is not just for my self-gratification, but for bringing transformation in the lives of many others.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Celebrating 50 Golden Years

Ana, the eldest of us seven siblings celebrated today her 50th birthday, and with that celebration was also her 3-storey mansion's blessing. Coming from work, I went to her house to join the celebration, but I missed the fun because all my other kins have left for home.

She is 50 though, but she doesn't really look that old. It must be in our family genes that we don't look our age, we physically mature gracefully and gradually. As the eldest among us, she married first. Hers was the first and the last marriage that my father attended. I guess she's happy in the life she chose for herself.

She took after my ancestors Chinese business instinct, that she was able to her husband in his machine shop, then they were able to put up three paint stores and car accessories store. She wants the best for her kids, and the only thing she feels a little sad about is that among her three kids, only the middle child had finished college.

She would often ask me as to how she would convince my nephew and neice to pursue their degrees, because she feels that having education is important for them. Like any other parent she believes that education is a treasure that they can give for their children. I told her, that they have given the treasure already and are still willing to help them, but let them be because they are not ready to take the responsbility for that treasure.

She took some years in college, but she was not able to finish it. She had to work to help my parents, then got settled with her family. But as a sister she was very supportive of me. She was the one who encouraged me to take the exam in Manila Science, even though I did not pass. She told me to go to UP for my bachelor's degree, yet I was just in the waiting list.

She bought my first branded rubber shoes when I was in gradeschool,from her husband's bonus. When I was in highschool, she would ask me to take care of her first born, my neice, during weekends so she can give me money for school when I go home. She never told me to study hard or focus on my studies, because she knew I can manage on my own.

I wrote my first MA thesis in her house, because I didn't have a computer then. She lent me the money I used to process my papers for my first international teaching job. She lent me money again for my first research paper presentation in an international conference.

When I came home from working abroad, t told her of my need for a sponsor because I wanted to study in Ateneo, and she agreed. But I recoursed to completing my unfinished MA studies in Pamantasan. I guess she wanted me to study in Ateneo, because our father studied there for high school.

My eldest sister has done so much for me, her appreciation for my efforts, her support in my studies and my dreams, her confidence that I can make a difference in life -- all those have made me a better person that I am. I wish her all the best in her life that all the desires of her heart be granted, and that her life be filled with joy. May the Lord grace her health, length of years, wisdom and all the life's bounty.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Good Life Comes with Hardships

I was not born from a wealthy family, where everything that I might possibly need or desire can come to me on a silver platter. I do not have an option to stay off from work because my family does not have other means to sustain our needs. I have to pick and carry my own cross, more so carry the crosses of others because they see that I am able to do so, and they feel that they can't carry their's on their own.

"Good life comes with hardships" that's an idiom in our culture. I believe that there are truths in it, but it can also be a truism. It is both motivating and uninspiring. The idiom is also wise and contrastingly idiotic. It also charges a ridicule to those who fail to value hardships and those who are idle.

A good life is a pleasant condition and it is possible for everyone to attain. It is that state of life that everyone one surely desires. Our personal vision of this pleasing quality of life drives us to commit our mind and body unto it. So it is wise to see and capture all opportunities that will get us there. Then we push and strain our bodies and mind because we want to have a good life.

The wise says good life comes with hardships. So in my younger years, I studied hard, and in my working years, I worked hard. But, then I realized we don't really need to be doing things hard. Our masochistic tendency is justified by the seemingly truthful idea that hardships are necessary for a good life. On the otherhand, our sadistic tendency drives us to bring upon our hardships to others who enjoy a good quality of life because they are able to manage it so well.

Hardly do we understand that a good life is possible without hardships, without exhibiting masochism or sadism. The classic Socratic philosophy says that the end of sorrow is joy. This should inspire us to see that there is an end to hardships, but this does not say that we should be sorrowful in life to have joy. Those who are afraid of hardships never really get a good life, just the same as those people who can't find the best tools and strategies that will make their life easy.

Those who squander in a pitiful state of life believe that it is their destiny and so they accept they have to live with it and be happy with it. This thinking undermines our potential to be great, to excel and to succeed. A good life is a reward for hardships. But not all hardships end successfully rewarding, more so if life is so hard on you because others only think of what would be easy for them and not for you.

I associate the win-lose thinking to the id of the saying that "good life comes with hardships". Life can be more enjoyable and easy if we think win-win instead. This should translate to our behavior of being happy with other's successes and helping other's succeed in their life. To our personal state, we should be looking for the best means to overcome our hardships, by being responsible and committed to our own success but not to the detriment of others.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Born in the Year of the Rabbit

I was born in the year in the Rabbit, the chinese calendar say's so. The Chinese zodiac can be understood in hermeneutics, that is considering constructed realities based on traditional beliefs of a cultural group of people.

Chinese hermeutics believe that Rabbits are playful, creative, wise, agile, competitive and clever. I have subjected myself to believe that horoscopes are but coincidental. But taking into consideration the labor of men who brought all these together, I could not just ignore it because it is so rich as a cultural text.

Psychology also has its own system of classifying and describing individual personalities. Sociology also takes from science in understanding social and cultural diversity of groups of people.I don't have big pair of ears, no whiskers, no paws, and no furry skin, my tail isn't that up always. Rabbits too have big sexual appetite, which I've lost years ago.

But I am fascinated with the knowledge in this cultural texts of Chinese Zodiac, many of the descriptions that they have for those born in the year of thre rabbit just fit my personality traits. It's amazing for me, that I suspect that this had been a product of research, like maybe they are the earlier versions of psychological differentiation of human personality.

I remain cynical though. However, again I am to consider that astrology in the history of human civilization is part of metaphysics from which physics and other sciences were brought forth. The knowledge of ancient astrology can not simply be totally debunked.

Now, considering my faith and my humble understanding of human nature, I am affirmed that we are creatures of varied traits. Those traits that one possesses may be inherent to anyone or maybe everyone. We just don't notice, because we only pay attention to what we really want to look at and we are influenced so much by the desire of esteeming our self.

As an individual, I am a product of what nature brought me, what I brought upon my self and what others even those before my times contributed to my development. I am created, therefore, not by the alignment of the stars, but with how I put those stars in the alignment I want to so I can see my life path better. Now, the people around me, whom I share my self also have their share in recreating me, and I too in them.

I am who I am not because the calendar says it so. I haven't stumbled upon a scientific research yet, that our personalities are determined by year or date of our birth. I'd rather consider genetics, social interactionism, constructivism and cultural learning as more fitting perspectives to understand our individual uniqueness.