Learning Pronouns – the INTERNATIONAL way

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PAOAY CHURCH – My friend took this shot of our other friend taking a photo but looked like he’s praying

In a world where people never have a time for everything, I sit alone in our bedroom (my parents, two sisters and I share one room) wondering about how to better understand our culture. I found it while watching a Korean Variety Show — believe it or not, when one of the host said that the Japanese have an “I” attitude while the Koreans have the “We” attitude, it dawned on me like a spark that started the fire.

 

I love travelling. And when I say that, I mean that I am NOT nor will I ever be, a TOURIST. I am a TRAVELLER, which means, that I go to places to check how the locals live, how they spend their day and most importantly, what is their history that made them who they are today.

Since when I was young I thought that I go to places for the food, but as I grow older I found myself in old churches or sculptures while reading the inscriptions, looking at murals and analyzing them as I try to be one with the locals as I try to learn their language or dialect.

As of now, I do understand a bit of Waray (a dialect spoken in Visayas Region in the Philippines) which is a bit different from the usual Bisaya dialect which I also understand a bit because of my friends, I can also distinguish Kapampangan or panggalatok (a dialect spoken in Pampanga province in the Philippines) and a bit of Ilocano (which is mostly spoken up north in the Philippines) and a bit of Maguindanaoan (which is spoken in Maguindanao — a province in the Mindanao area of the Philippines) all because of my work.

I can speak and understand a bit of Japanese by watching Animes, Dramas, variety shows and by listening to music. Although I did the same for Korean, I went the extra mile and actually learnt Hangul which I can now successfully read and write which helped me and my friends throughout our travel in Korea.

In that variety show where the host mentioned about the cultural attitude, I immediately thought about us, the Filipinos, and what is our cultural attitude. At first I thought we’re the same as the Koreans, always welcoming and willing to share everything we have to a stranger but then I realized that the way Koreans treat their guest are way different from how a Filipino treat their guest.

For example, if a Japanese is staying in a dorm with a Filipino, a Korean and a Chinese men, the Japanese will most probably buy something to go for himself and not invite anyone while he eats while the Korean would buy food for everyone to share together while the Filipino would eat after everyone either finished their meal or started with their meal.

Because if you look at their culture, the Japanese people were influenced by Confucianism where the Great Learning, mentioned something about self-cultivation for the betterment of a government therefore, a person may fail not because of his knowledge but because of his lack of effort which is why they are very hardworking people (similar to the teachings in China which is why they probably have the closest resemblance in terms of their treatment to foreigners where they would rather ignore a stranger than help them because it does not help them “grow” in any way — not to mention, being powerful countries who conquered several places )

Meanwhile, the Korean Culture is very similar to our culture because we were the country that they always want to take over (Japanese, Chinese and even Americans) both experienced slavery, war and civil war and even peaceful wars and I think, it’s because we experienced too many wars, we embrace anyone who is trying to understand us that’s why we cheer on people who try to learn our language and live like us. The only difference is that the Filipinos were under the Spaniards for 333 years or more where our ancestors were treated as slaves — a trait we never totally shook out of our systems that’s why we wait for others to start first before we actually do anything, the initiative is not the problem, it’s our way of thinking that we are not “enough” to be a “starter” you can spot a Filipino from a crowd if you enter in an all you can eat buffet and he/she would lag behind at the line and would give their space in the line to foreigners.

Of course, this is not true for ALL Japanese, ALL Filipinos and ALL Koreans but it’s just based from my personal opinion. There’s really nothing wrong with anyone, we must always look at everything from their perspective (see, I sound just like a Filipina — which I am) to understand them better. Think about that the next time you meet a Filipino, a Japanese and a Korean (collectively, we are called Asians along with the Chinese people, most foreigners don’t even bother categorizing the same most white people who speak English and have double eyelids are called Americans)

To conclude, I’ve learnt pronouns the International way. “I” is for Japanese, “We” is for Koreans while “They” is for the Filipinos.

[Personal] Last day of work?!

There is strenght in numbers.

Last monday, we had our assessment in training. We were required to get at least 6.0 in speed (1 being the highest) and at least 95 percent in accuracy. In my job, we are to type audio recordings in verbatim so accuracy is definitely needed.

In that particular assessment, we all managed to pass our speed test with exceeding expectations from our instructors. Unfortunately, for our accuracy, only one passed. Here comes the part of strenght in numbers. Well, knowing that most of us failed the training (it’s supposed to be a cheerioh forever if you fail) our trainors decided to lower the accuracy test to 85 percent. Which of course, passed us all. We are all, of course, delighted by the fact we can all stay together until friday (that’s today) because today, we will have our final assessment. And it seems, that this time, we won’t be aslucky as we have been last Monday.

A few hours ago, after we got dismissed for the day by our trainors, I have received a message from one of our co-trainees that we should all wear BLACK tops tomorrow. Of course, I approved of this. I texted my other co-trainees regarding this and they replied for their approval. Although, this really might not work.

You see, I have studied in Organizational Behavior  (One of my major subjects in college) and it made me realize that people have Individual differences and Whole person characteristics that we have to consider. I am a very keen observer and from what I have noticed for this past two weeks is that, I can probably convince some of them, but not all of them. For example, later today we shall all go to work dressed “supposedly” in black tops. We are 39 trainees and I would already be happy if at least half of us would show up in the dress code. Why would I be happy with just a few? Because, those few know the definition of unity and strenght in numbers. For those who haven’t followed, I can assume that they are individualist who prefer to work on their own (Except if they claim that they haven’t received any messages regarding that which would make me pity them.).

I for one, believe that there is strenght in numbers. If, ALL of us shows up there in black tops, then the trainors and the client would at least be taken aback and realize that that is how strong our bond has become over the 2 week training and that that represents that we are all there for each other. Unfortunately, like I said, I don’t believe that EVERYONE will do it. There will always be those few people who would doubt like I do and change the color of their shirt for tomorrow and risk standing out in our crowd or joining us.

As for me, I really will wear a black top tomorrow. Although, very poorly expressed and have yet to have a meaning to the whole group, I believe that this is our small protest. Our action. We have withstand training with no holiday pay and no overtime pay either together — we can withstand the last test together as well. If anyone shall fail tomorrow, it’ll be a group loss.

Honestly, I think it would probably be best if I would be the one to fail tomorrow instead of my team mates. Why? Because I think they need the work more than I do. They have families to feed and more responsibilities than I have. I don’t know if they’re feeling the same as I am though. But really, if anyone shall fail tomorrow, my heart would really break.

I shall give you updates on Saturday regarding what would happen. If I passed, If I failed, if anyone of us failed, how do I feel and of course, a commemorative photo on who and how many will wear black tops later. 🙂

 

*Sorry for the misspelling. I made this picture with my eyes and sanity half closed so… yeah… sorry. 🙂 (I made this 4 hours ago after I got off from work.)

[Personal] Photography

I just need you guys to look at this picture and tell me honestly what you think about it.

Edsa in the morning

 

I took this picture in Edsa this morning. The time and date on the bottom right hand corner of the picture is real time.  It’s blurred and the picture didn’t actually came out the way I expected it to be but there is a feeling that I can’t explain. I don’t know if it’s just because I was actually there and took the photo… so, please tell me honestly what you think of it.

P.S.

You can e-mail me if you don’t want your opinions to be published. Basher comments are welcome as well.

 
(Ok. I’m off to work now! Tonight… I’m certain that I’ll pass this road again.. but what I don’t expect is to get this kind of photo again. The people and cars here… have I seen them from somewhere before? if not, will I ever get to know them or see them again? And if I have, would I know?)

(By the way, the title of this photo is: Coincidence)

It’s still the same me…. only different.

Hooray!

Today is my mom’s 51st birthday! Last night, we surprised her with a half roll triple chocolate cake from red ribbon, a balloon, a greatest-mom-ever pin and a video of us three sisters congratulating our mom and wishing her a happy birthday. That was last night though.

Today, on her actual birthday, we did something different. Of course, we start the day with the annual evening mass. Once every year, our whole family attends the evening mass to start the celebration of our mom’s birthday with divine guidance and blessings. Although this year, my eldest sister failed to accompany us (she had to attend the mass at an earlier time because she is working earlier) it was still fun.

It was decided some time yesterday that me, my younger sister, my mom and my aunt would be volunteer for today’s event, Pagdamay. It is a repacking of goods job for the victims of the recent landslide from Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City in the Philippines. My mom said, we can’t do anything for those who have died — they’re already dead anyway, but we can do something for the people they have left behind or the people who have survived. One good trait of the Filipinos that have retained over the years — a trait that we did not get from the colonizers, is resiliency. We are the kind of people who no matter what kind of calamity strikes us, even if we are faced with the most difficult problems, still manages to smile and move on. It is times like these when we don’t need to be as rich as those who own big buildings or malls or banks to help people. We do not do this for publicity as well, unlike those who are either in politics or in the entertainment industry, we just help because someone is in need of us.

After hearing my mom’s proposal for today’s activity yesterday, my sister and I agreed immediately. No questions asked. We didn’t ask where are we staying or will there be food or transportation expenses provided — we just agreed (with the thought of helping people.)

After my 19th birthday last July, I promised to my self that I will do something worth while before turning 20. And since this opportunity showed up, I never once thought of saying no.

Sorting.

We arrived late though since we had to take a bath after the mass. When we got there though, we found out that the packing hasn’t started yet — we even get to attend the orientation.

When we finally started, I was assigned to making sure that each 10 body soap will be packed together with 2 toothbrush for adults and 3 toothbrush for kids.

At that time, we were all moving so fast that even though we started behind schedule, we have almost finished the quota bags packed for the whole day in before the first break time (my estimation is less than two or three hours.) I was so engrossed in packing that my younger sister is sneering at me for asking her to hurry up on her job (giving me the toothbrushes) that the only thing that stopped me from working is when the toothbrushes for adults ran out of supply. I didn’t notice it until I stood up that my knees are hurting — heck, I couldn’t even stand properly. They told us to take a break so we did.

Break time.

This first break time is unofficial. We just gave ourselves a break. After all, we did manage to almost finish the quota bags for the day before the first break time.

During that time, I was really really thirsty. But to not show my eagerness to openly to the public — since in front of them I might act whiny, I went with my younger sister to the toilet to freshen up ourselves. On our way back though, I keep glancing at the water dispenser to check for water. Alas, I am not so lucky.   There is no water in that ONLY dispenser so I turned around and headed straight to our room where I found my mom still sorting children’s under garments.

Sorting (Part 2).

This time, I sorted the undergarments for children. I was in charge of making counting and making sure that every bag would include 1 small sized, 1 medium sized and 1 large sized undergarments. It is much easier from my first job and since I’m not doing anything at that time, I decided to help my mom. Before I knew it, we were done.

Packaging aka Planting.

It is an inside joke among us those who are in room one that our style of packaging is very tiring because we looked like we were planting rice seeds “palay” while packaging.

This is me while I was making a way and remembering the last bag that I distributed the undergarments I was sorting earlier.

I managed to finish 5 columns with 20 bags per column, that meant I managed to fill 100 bags. Later that day, I sorted undergarments for adult men and distributed them as well in other bags. I also helped in closing and finishing the packaging of the bags by adding the mosquito net.

I managed to get a lot things done in less than 6 hours with the help of a lot, of course. Our room barely left any work for the afternoon shift volunteers. Apparently, most of those who worked in that room have the same excessive amount of eagerness to help as I am.

All in all, I had fun with this volunteering to help stuff. I am looking forward for more. I felt bad though that my friends weren’t there with me when most of them texted me that they’ll be there (apparently, I had to tell them that we were finished for the day and that there’ll be other opportunities.) I really am looking forward for more jobs like these. If I my skills, strength or knowledge could be of good use for a good cause, even without promising food, snacks or anything, I would still probably volunteer.

Final words.

I had so much fun that I almost blurted out, “I want to celebrate my next birthday like this as well.” It’s a good thing I held back doing so though, because that would mean that I’m asking for another calamity like this to strike, which I definitely am not. I am praying for the people of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City who have lost their lives (loved ones, livelihood, priced possessions) in that land slide and heavy rain. And remember, even though we don’t know you, we already love you. Because, during times like this, we are supposed to hold hands and face this calamity as one country.

Me, my sister, my aunt, my mom and her co-workers after a tiring volunteer work.

Simbang Gabi (Evening Mass)

Simbang Madaling araw (Mass at Dawn)

Simbang Gabi is a nine-day Roman Catholic and Aglipayan ritual novena performed in the Philippines which starts from December 16 and ends on December 24. Simbang Gabi, which translates to Evening Mass is usually performed as early as 3 or 5 in the morning. The last day of the Simbang Gabi, which is Christmas Eve, is called Misa de Gallo, which literally translates to “Rooster’s Mass” – This is according to Wikipedia, not that the Wikipedia is wrong in that matter of course.

It is said that this nine-day ritual novena started in the Spanish Era – which means, sometime in their 333 years of ruling. Filipinos are attending masses in the evening because they had to work all day – either in the farm (since the Philippines is an Agricultural country to begin with) or as house helpers of the richer family. But since it is customary for the Filipinos to attend masses before Christmas, they do so even if they’re worn out from physical labor all day. The parishioners noticed the eagerness of the Filipinos to attend the evening masses but since they’re all worn out, they couldn’t listen properly to the words-of-god. So, as a compromise, they started holding masses before dawn – before they started working in the fields.

A little bit of History.

Even after we were freed from the Spanish Colonization, we are still continuing the life, tradition, culture and religion they have left us. Some year before our generation was born, Spanish subjects are still mandatory in every class – obviously, not anymore. We still use their words instead of ours (e.g. Tag. Abante,. Spa. Avante,. Meaning: Ahead, Forward.) Catholicism became the de facto state religion in the Philippines after some time. Almost 80% of the Filipinos are comprised by Catholics.

According to an elementary text book, the reason why the Spanish regime decided to conquer the Philippines is, one, to colonize the Philippines and participate in the spice trade that was at the time dominated by Portugal. Secondly, Spain wanted to utilize the geographical location of the Philippines to trade with China and Japan and to spread Christianity to those advanced civilizations. Thirdly, one of Spain’s main goals was to Christianize the people of the archipelago – which they’ve all managed eventually.

Spain colonized the Philippines from 1565 to 1898. 333 years is long. Just long enough for the Filipinos to get used to the Spanish ways, tradition, culture and religion. The colonial masters required the native Filipinos to swear allegiance to the Spanish monarch, where before they only had village chieftains called “datus;” to worship a new God, where before they worshipped a whole pantheon of supernatural deities and divinities; to speak a new language, where before they had (and still have) a Babel of tongues; and to alter their work habits, where before they worked within the framework of a subsistence economy. The Spanish landholding system based on private ownership of land replaced the Filipino system of communal land ownership. Thus, when the Spanish rule ended, the Filipinos found many aspects of their way of life bearing the indelible imprint of Hispanization.

The Spanish have managed to Hispanized the Filipinos in all ways. It is evident even when we tell time (“alas tres cuarenta y singko”), in our family names (De Guia, Santos, Hernandez, Castillo…) – before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the Filipinos doesn’t have a last name nor do we have papers to say we own something – that’s according to my old history book that I found laying about in the room.

The original Simbang Gabi was called Misa Aurea (golden mass or angel’s mass).

Today – Simbang Gabi.

December 16 marked the first day of Evening Mass for the Filipinos this year – as it does every year. My sisters and I had a habit of attending the first mass which starts at three in the morning. It’s not much of a bother for us of course to sleep in until thirty minutes before three for preparation. You see, our house is located just a 2-minute walk from the church.

Today’s mass talked about youths. How we, don’t serve well. Since, we all seemed to have, focusing problems. An example given is, watching the television while listening to the radio and cooking at the same time. The priest mentioned about the three “S” that we should always take note whenever we serve. Service, Sacrifice and … that’s it. I could’ve sworn the priest mentioned Three “S” but I could also swear that I only heard him mention just those two.

After the mass, we bought 4 orders of puto bumbong (Traditionally made from a special variety of heirloom sticky or glutinous rice called Pirurutong which has a distinctly purple color, soaked in salted water and dried overnight and then poured into bumbong or bamboo tubes and then steamed until done or steam rises out of the bamboo tubes. It is served topped with butter or margarine and shredded coconut mixed with sugar.) and feasted with our parents at home with (free) tea. After that, we returned to bed to sleep.

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Info: Puto bumbong and Bibingka (another type of rice cake that is common during Christmas season) are famous during this season. I’ve read in an article that the reason why rice cakes like these two are common and delicacies in the Philippines goes back to the – guess when, Spanish Era (what a surprise, right?) When they started making the evening mass into masses before dawn, the Filipinos responded by eating or selling foods like these after so they can head straight to work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simbang_Gabi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholicism_in_the_Philippines

http://filipinokastila.tripod.com/FilSpa.html

The Hunger Games – and what it meant to me.

The Hunger Games – and what it meant to me.

“…our ancestors don’t seem much to drag about… Clearly, they didn’t care about what would happen to the people who came after them.” 

― Suzanne Collins

 

And there I was, left pondering about this book and how I chose this book to read in a time where I really have no passion or emotion for anything or for anyone left in me. These past few months, I have only been thinking of myself. How I don’t like how my life is turning out, how I feel so alone despite the billions of people in this planet – and maybe a gazillion more in this entire universe and in the other universe and stars, how I succeed to fail in everything. That was my line of thought until I was roused back to reality by the trilogy book, The Hunger Games.

I literally trembled every time something is revealed, I cried for the characters who died. And all this while, I keep reminding myself that this is just a book – no more than a figment of imagination of a person printed in a paper. But I was born clever – it’s in my blood, I know, every time I close those books that it is more than that – more than just a book and a figment of imagination. Like the Harry Potter series – which my whole family probably never understood why I read almost every time I am not reading anything else, it is not just fiction – where the staff of bookstores and libraries keeps organizing them, it is an art, which Pablo Picasso so fittingly described as a lie which makes us realize the truth.

All they were doing was trying to keep themselves alive. Any act of rebellion is purely coincidental.

-Hunger Games

This part struck me the most. It was written in the first book. I still tremble whenever I read these words. Because, even here, today, it’s true – it’s happening. Every morning, I wake up and hear the morning news. More deaths, more robberies, children are being used – I don’t like it, who would? I really think that people would only kill as a last resort, when nothing could ever be done without doing so. Hired-killers, no matter how much I hate them for killing someone they don’t probably know – whether they feel remorse to their deeds, I’m not sure. But one thing is for certain, they are doing this because it’s the only thing they can do – to save themselves or someone they love.

Poverty. It is the source of evil. Not money. People always think that money is the source of evil, because it can turn things around, but if you really think about it, money is either just a piece of circle or paper. I never really was a fan of money but still, I needed it. So, it is really not the money I needed, it was the thing I can trade for money is what’s important.

I can imagine a person, hesitating about making his first crime and makes his resolve because of someone or something worth doing the crime for. No, I’m not saying that we should forgive their crimes that easily – no one has the right to forgive nor can we, humans are made unforgiving – it’s the truth, live with it. No matter how much we tell the victims to just forget about it, it’s impossible. If you were the victim, would you be able to forgive someone who has taken something from you probably forever that easily? Your future? Your love? Your life? No, I guess not. That is why, I am certain that the phrase forgive and forget is nothing more than a hoax, something (imperfect) people made up. We are not God. We are just humans, we cannot forgive nor forget that easily. Unless, we do forget and that doesn’t count as forgiving as well.

Say someone stabs someone you love to death in front of you – someone you really love had died in front of you and you happen to be the only witness to that crime. You know who did it, you know why he did it, would you be able to forgive the person who killed someone you love or even forget that scene? I bet you would lie awake every night trying not to have a rerun of that scenario in your dreams over and over. Would you be able to forget? Or forgive? No, you wouldn’t. Admit it, you won’t. Because even though wounds heal, it leaves a scar.

I remember someone telling me that the only way to conquer your fear is to face it – or be it. I was once afraid of hunger that I always cry whenever I’m hungry, but as I grow up and see a lot of hungrier mouths and whose stomachs are as hollow as a black hole, I don’t cry for food anymore – at least not in front of those people. I just occasionally whimper in front of my family for fun and habit (the habit of self-pity that I try to get rid of since I started realizing.)

I remember my family having a conversation about it once, why do thieves steal and why do killers kill, my parents’ answer never changes, it’s because they can’t help it – it’s the only thing they know how to do and is prepared to do. I think, the reason why a (real) criminal is so afraid to go in jail is because the reason/s why he did what he did is somewhere out there waiting for his/her return, hungry, helpless, in desperate need to survive rarely is because of themselves.

If the thieves don’t steal, they’ll starve and die. Same goes for all the criminals and their crimes. If they don’t do what they do, they’ll starve and die. These are the people that would rather be a criminal than watch their loved ones die. For me, the most painful death is dying in hunger. For the poor, I can feel empathy emanating from my body, their crimes are tolerable if I am comparing them to the rich people and to them, I feel nothing, not even compassion. Because, while the poor people have no choice but to be criminals, the rich people choose to be criminals because it blocks them from something they want – power, money, or whatever they think is important. The lives of people they will damage probably beyond repair after they’ve done their crimes doesn’t matter – never did. I probably am being too one-sided about this matter and being too judgmental to the powerful. Well, you can’t blame me, I have to take sides, don’t I? I’m not rich nor poor, I am somewhere in the middle that is what gives me the freedom to decide which side I’m going to support. And, I’ve seen proofs.

“We fight, we dare, we end our hunger for justice.” 
― Suzanne Collins

These are my last words for this blog. Although I can’t put into words my emotions and the things I want to say right now, you can definitely bet on it, I am back. And whenever you feel that I’m losing it again, you can just say, “Hunger Games” and I promise to be with you shortly.

“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.”