Thursday, March 26, 2009

So What If I'm From UP?*

I have experienced being prejudiced as a result of being a UP graduate. Yes, prejudiced. Discrimination that is not corporate in nature, but personal. Something not harmful but irritating nonetheless. Discrimination coming from acquaintances, sometimes from friends.

The most common negative term I heard directed toward UP graduates was mayabang (boastful). Agreeably, some UP grads are mayabang, but that was a case of differences among people rather than differences among colleges. It is never right to generalize. However, all UP grads are proud to have graduated from UP, especially those whose parents worked doubly hard (or worked hard themselves) to get them through college or those who have spent so many hours just to pass that math subject. I myself am proud to be a UP graduate, perhaps the only accomplishment I can be proud of. And this was not so much of the education taught me, but the lessons in life learned and people from different cultures met. I thought of UP as a mini-Philippines, the people, the politics, with a slightly different social pyramid.

That we are proud to be Maroons should not be held against us. That we somehow have our own language should not be a bother to others not from UP. Be proud of the college you came from and the “language” you have learned. If you chose not to be proud, do not take it against us UP grads. It is your choice, it is not our fault.

Over a conversation at Sarah's (inside UP Diliman) with a group of people I've recently met (classmates for 6 sessions), my theory of discrimination against UP grads was validated. I started a discussion on which is the best TV network in the country, not for argument but as a joke to one of my classmate who's working with one of the two networks. Beer can really spice up things, and the joke became a “heated” argument, with the group divided into two networks and one neutral. And somehow, which in my opinion was beyond the discussion, someone exclaimed that UP grads are close-minded, and I surmise that this was because I did not fold to his side, in which case he would also be close minded. Another told a story of a cousin who was a UP grad and who was “ostracized” because most cannot stand him. “He always argues,” I think was my classmate's words. Instead of following up on this line of thinking, which seemed pointless to me, I asked why people tend to generalize UP grads and, of course, nobody knew why.

Most people think that UP is full of activists, militants, and rebels. I beg to differ. I say UP is full of people who are socially aware, and as far as I know, only a small percentage of the entire UP population go to Mendiola to rally. I am not saying that it is wrong, but that not everyone does it.

People believe that UP grads exude that air of confidence, so is this the reason I often get sarcastic comments whenever I do not know things? For example, when someone asks me what a certain difficult word means and I do not know, that someone would shake his head and say, “I thought UP students are intelligent,” or something like, “you're from UP, how come you don't know?” Argh. I couldn't let such derogatory remark simply pass, so I'd say, “do you expect me to know the whole dictionary?”

It's as if some people are always on the lookout of UP grads' errors, even trivial ones. Hey, we are not robots, and we do not want a contest or a competition. If voicing out our minds mean showing off, then all opinionated people are egotistic, which is hardly the case.

As I understand, it is not the UP grads in general who are insisting to place themselves above the others, but it is the people who are placing UP grads above themselves, hence the unnecessary perception of UP grads having “superiority complex.” Yes, we are proud of our alma mater, but I know that there are so many gifted people outside the university. UP taught me that there should be equity and harmony in society. That there should be understanding and tolerance of differences. And that there should be liberty of mind.

*So I'm from UP. Do you have a problem with that?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

where my dreams began

This is the story of a man I've never even met and the story where my dream began.

After 30 years of “living” in my father's wallet, a slightly tattered news clippings about my grandfather, Lolo Pasyo, was shown to me by my father. I only know him through little stories from my father as Lolo Pasyo died even before my father met my mother. But stories will never suffice, and there's a missing spot in me that will never be filled.

My father said that Lolo Pasyo was the silent type. My grandmother was a beautiful maiden, and I wonder how sweet or stiff their courtship was. Together, they raised all their children to be, the perfect word, respectful. My father never raised a voice to my grandmother and always comes immediately when called by her. He always acquiesce to her request and oftentimes remember her. I could only assume that this great respect came from the much respect Lolo Pasyo gave his wife.

Father told me that his father was a disciplinarian. He never tolerated any mischievous activity from his 8 sons and 4 daughters and never used influence for favors. This is not to say that the boys never did any naughty acts. They did, but did everything not to let their father know. For Lolo Pasyo, any “bad” behavior must never go unpunished.

My grandfather was a US veteran. I am sure that my grandfather deserved every penny of the pension he and his wife were supposed to be entitled to. Ingrates. After the army, he held several government positions, most of which I only knew from reading the newspaper.

Please click image to enlarge and read Lolo Pasyo's contribution to society.

His last post was a Punong Bayan, now known as Mayor, before he died of leukemia. As a child, I asked my father why they were not wealthy if Lolo Pasyo was a mayor. I already had a concept of government officials then. He told me that Lolo Pasyo was never corrupt, unlike most people. Their family barely have enough, with Lolo Pasyo sometimes giving his salary to the “needy” constituents. He was a straight man. While studying, my father and some of his other siblings had to stay at relatives' house as they could not afford to rent a house of their own while staying here in Manila. My father's aunt wanted to take him and sustain his education, but he opted to stay in the province after a year in Manila. My father even had to work abroad to earn a living. These, I think, would not have happened if Lolo Pasyo had “manipulated” government funds, which is commonplace nowadays. Lolo Pasyo has successfully imbibed in his children the value of honesty and responsibility, not one of them ever been involved in a scandalous behavior.

Knowing that I came from a line of a brave and honest man, I felt inspired to be someone like him. Only one of his sons joined politics, whereas one daughter became a DECS (now DepEd) official. My aunt already died of cancer, but the stories of colleagues of how straight she was and how she often rejected bribes warm my heart, something he learned from his father.

My father told me that he was highly respected in their community. And the respect for him translated to respect for the family's name and for the family. No ordinary man can do that. Even after 30 years since he died, I still hear stories of him from their neighbors and friends.

I formulated my dreams as a kid, and writing this now made me think that his legacy might have influenced me. He was everything I want to be: a leader, a public servant, and an honest person.

It saddens me that I can tell you about him only through my father's stories and person. But I hope that the message of his people would be enough to show you how proud I am to be this silent man's granddaughter:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Farewell Francis Magalona...

I never imagined that my earlier “songs” here would be one of requiem.

Francis Magalona died yesterday due to leukemia. When I was informed, it left me quiet for hours. I immediately searched the net for the bad news as I could not believe it. And yes, it was true. A great man had passed away.

Francis has lived a life that made sense and one that had influenced Filipino culture, especially music. I'm a fan of Francis, as I mentioned in my chocolate cakes and chocolates article. I like his songs, especially those which had social significance; it feels like he truly has the affinity for the three stars and the sun. Girl Be Mine makes me sing, and my mood lightens up every time. Kaleidoscope World for me was his best. Astig ng kanta na 'yun. The rhythm, the beat, the lyrics, they're all good. He alone brought rap music to us, as I often say. Francis Magalona was an institution, a legend.

I am saddened and affected by his death for a number of reasons. First, I am a fan. I feel a bit sad when my favorite TV series ends. And now, I would no longer see nor hear my favorite musician live. He's like John Lennon now; he will never grow old in my mind. That boyish look. That charm. The man from Manila.

Second, I lament for Pinoy music. Nowadays, I feel like we are surrounded by remakes and all things unoriginal. New bands play old bands' songs. Old bands play a new song but with old sound. Francis was original. I hope there'd be more like him, at least more who could make it to the limelight.

Last, I grieve for the loss of a life. For the loss of a friend, a brother, a husband, and a father. It seemed to me, from his interviews, other people's interviews, and television appearances, that he was a sweet and loving person, especially a father. And I could not imagine the pain of losing one. It was during these times that one validates the significance of life. Let the sunshine, let the rivers run away.

Yes, I am blogging this one. This is my only way to pay respect to my favorite musician. Francis Magalona will always be remembered. His memories will live on. He always said that the show must go on, and it will. But no superproxy can replace one such man like Francis Magalona.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Slums and Millionaires

I recently watched Slumdog Millionaire, and it was a treat to my taste in films. How the scenes connected and interconnected was simply brilliant. The general plot still seemed incredible to me, but this was covered by my suspension of belief. The child actors were great, making me jump out my seat for every suspenseful scenes. I could not say the same thing for the adult actors as they did not bring out much emotion from me. But the story did.

As much as I want to “review” the movie, I am overwhelmed with the issues discussed in the film. Watching the film, I cannot help but compare India with our beloved country. I'm sure that Filipinos who've watched it would have noticed the striking similarities, starting with poverty, continuing with situations that come with it.

After 10 minutes of watching, I'm already wishing the producers thought of having the Philippines as the setting, rather than India. The slums, the overpopulated cities, the trash all around, the beggars, the organized crime syndicates seemed all too Filipino to me. With the best picture award in the recent Oscars, I could only imagine the joy it would have brought us if the cast were from here. Besides, it would have brought more attention to the social problems to our country, and perhaps solutions. Why India, I can only guess. Poorer? Better actors?

We are much the same way engrossed with lottery, shampoo and cigarette raffles, and game shows, making PCSO as the top-earning government unit, the products as best-sellers, and noontime hosts as the highest paid.

We as a nation have lost hope in the government and in ourselves that we tend to fall in long lines to win that big jackpot or to wait starting midnight for network studios to open. I couldn't blame people for doing so, but I wish we could “actively” work to better our lives, no matter how hard it would be. Are we like Juan Tamads, falling in lines like waiting for the fruit to drop? I heard from news that Pinoy Big Brother is already auditioning, and thousands of people are auditioning every day. I am not good in math, but wouldn't it be more probable to get a sustaining job than to win that house and lot and millions?

There are news that Super Lotto is a scam. Dear heavens, I hope not. The tickets were raised to 20 pesos (with justification of doubling the prize), which left many Filipinos walking long distances, not eating, or not buying medicine so long as they can buy that ticket every single day.

The Wowowee anniversary in 2006 turned to a tragedy, with many people killed due to stampede. You went there hoping to win the million, you end up crashed by hundreds of feet. Tragic. There has to be someone accountable for that. I haven't heard a bit news about that lately.

Game shows are selling like hot potatoes, promising people to become millionaires. Few have won, and we are getting poorer and poorer by the second. There is nothing wrong with taking chances, but entrusting your chances to game shows is a tragic mistake.