Thursday, March 18, 2010

Discourse

Everyone, it seemed, had been drained of every iota of energy from the day’s doleful event that was my grandfather’s burial under the blistering heat of the sun. Add to that a week of sleeplessness and you get what gadgets call ‘empty battery’. And so, except for four male cousins and I, the rest of the household surrendered to their respective sleeping stations just a little after 8 o’clock. While the three boys stayed outside, rambunctiously playing cards, I and my other cousin Jefferson stayed in the living room. We were both buried deep into our mobiles;I was browsing through Facebook.

The night had just completely taken over, and I was brimming awake with restlessness—being a nocturnal creature. So while I tried to busy myself with Facebook, and all the while trying to satiate my growing hunger with instant noodles in a cup (immediately after I gulped down a cup of coffee, much to my Jefferson's amusement), I started asking him questions. It seemed oh-so trivial at first, as we tried to fill the ten-year gap of no communication; we exchanged questions and replies to update each other on what has happened in his life all these years.

It turned out he pursued his passion for art, finishing a degree in fine arts from one of the country’s reputable universities. I gathered he has held a few exhibits to showcase his paintings; has just resigned from his job as a graphic artist from a company that, based on his description, was abusive of its employees’ skills; and has three job interviews that he had rescheduled for the following week.

I suppose he found that I grew up to be a sociable person (back when we visited his place ten years ago, I kept to myself, and spoke only when spoken to) who drinks beer like water, and keeps himself busy by stuffing food into his mouth. Well, that’s partly true.

It was Facebook that turned our trivial conversation into a discussion. I had picked on Facebook for its gaming applications, most especially FarmVille. I later found out that we shared the same sentiment. We shared the similar views on certain things, even sharing similar vocabularies, although his was more instructional and mine was more colloquial. I found myself engrossed in our discussion. The following is a précis of our similar approximate on things, in my own words:

FarmVille farmvilleFarmVille, among other games Facebook has incorporated into its system ,was created solely for profit. It’s an anti-social medium in which people allegedly get rid of boredom. But in fact, it is an utter waste of time and energy.

OK, we get it: you’re bored, and you have copious time and money to use the Internet. But there are other (other being better and meaningful compared to playing FarmVille) things to do than park your ass on a chair, and click the mouse at an estimated 300 times per minute. Doing what exactly? Planting? Harvesting? Give me a fucking break.

Grab a book and read. Better yet, since you’re online, go to informative sites that actually teach you something. Inform yourself. Give your brain a workout. What’s there in FarmVille that makes use of your brain anyway? It’s a monotonous interaction between you and an application which might as well have been designed for mentally incapacitated individuals.

What’s alarming is that these people who play FarmVille, who can aptly be called ‘farmers’, spend so much time, energy, and (ultimately) money doing something that they absolutely cannot benefit from. I, for one, find it galling and downright hopeless that these farmers can also talk about their ‘farms’ relentlessly. Try having a conversation with someone whose mind has been side-tracked with Farmville, and see where it gets you. It’s as if they’ll actually die if they couldn’t plant or harvest in time. So they irk you by whining about it? That’s not fair. More importantly, that’s just dense.

Do these so-called farmers even know what their plants look like in the real farming world? Do they really think gloating about their “beautiful farm” makes them better people? It’s bad enough that they supposedly kill their boredom with such vapid game, they even pester those non-farming individuals by sending invites to join their cult, and flooding the wall with their FarmVille updates. Who cares if you’ve advanced levels? That doesn’t add to your intelligence quotient.

People who play FarmVille (regardless of the extent) have been found to have mental retardation, a survey I once read said. Now, if only I could remember the URL of that article.

PoliticspalacePhilippine politics is a filthy business. If that wasn’t bad enough, politicians find it vital to lie to our faces, making empty promises, and talking crap. They make us look like fools, but of course that only applies to those who buy the same political rubbish every time election comes. Yes, our political system is one—if not the—of the worst in the world. But let us not forget that it always takes two to tango. What we fail to realize is that we, the very people who elect our leaders, are also to blame for the continued existence of a debased government.

We elect the same kind of people to lead us. And we also fail to realize that our duty as citizens of this republic doesn’t end in casting our vote. It continues until it is again time to elect a new leader to power.

It is our political abandonment that breathes life into our scrawny government. What we do is complain. Complain without doing anything. We are too passive to even make ourselves aware of what is truly happening to our nation. We criticize those in power of not doing their job, and yet we don’t even do our part. We can’t even abide by the laws our constitution has laid out for us to follow.

Fulfilling our responsibility to our country doesn’t really require too much, and yet it seems too arduous for us to obey our laws. We can start by following simple laws. Like, how about waiting for the walk sign to glow before crossing the street? Or not throwing your rubbish anywhere and everywhere?

Education System
classroomOur education system doesn’t have the quality it claims to have. Unless, quality education means loading the curriculum with deliberate redundancy. Our schools spend too much time and attention on teaching students things that are rather worthless. Learners are taught the same things from elementary till high school (even till college). Why do class discussions have to tackle the same subject matter each time? Load the elementary students with History and Religious Education, that’s acceptable. But to have it in high school again?

There should be a curriculum that would enhance students where they’re good at. There should also be an assessment process of some sort to identify what field a student would excel in, so in college he doesn’t have to squeeze his guts out taking a course he doesn’t even like.

Our education focuses excessively on academic excellence, thereby putting the practical side of teaching behind. So a student knows how to solve every Mathematical equation you throw at him, can that actually be of use to him if he decides to be social worker?

The institutions claim of holistic building, when in fact it’s not. A lot of academically exceptional people don’t even do well in their lives, because they’ve been moulded to go through life as if it were a frog to be dissected. They know theories, but do they actually know application?

One of the reasons for the increasing rate of unemployment is the mismatched careers of the graduates and their field of proficiency. And the very education system that’s supposed to shape us into triumphant individuals in our chosen fields has failed to equip us with the real tools we need to succeed.

We are given knowledge, when it’s wisdom that would fuel us to real success. And it’s the same system that brought us into thinking that money, fame, and title tantamount to success. Like our government, our education system is corrupt.

Love
loveLove is not as black-and-white as it is painted. Love doesn’t conquer all. It’s not always a fairy-tale, and it doesn’t always end in bliss. Carbon based as we are, we were made to believe that “all we need is love”.

Just because you’ve been in a relationship for so many years, doesn’t mean it’s going to culminate in a wedding. And when it does culminate in a wedding, it doesn’t mean it’s going to last until you breathe your last breath.

Love has its own perverse way of pairing two individuals. It is oftentimes a cliché. You must use your mind, too, when you love, but you must not use it too critically.

PeoplepeopleThe easiest way isn’t always the right way. Sometimes a person must go against the flow to do the right thing. Standing up for what you believe is right will not gain everyone’s praise.

Just because you’re doing it differently doesn’t mean you’re defiant.

Older people don’t always know what’s right. Wisdom is not dependent on age. Older people can not only teach the younger ones, they can also learn from them.

Stereotyping is inevitable.

Some people have too shallow a mind that it’s futile to even explain your side of things to them. What they don’t get is that just because you’re trying to express your opinion doesn’t mean you want to change theirs. Indeed, with these kind of people, it is better to shut up.

Being intelligent and full of ideas doesn’t entitle you to a brainstorming session. More than intelligence and creativity, brainstorming demands that a person is audacious. For in brainstorming, you will turn every angle upside-down, criticize every bit of information, and share all the juice you could squeeze out of your brain even if it meant offending other people and defying what society has deemed acceptable.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Over Coffee and Doughnuts

over coffee and donuts

Walking around the city one afternoon from work, I decided to have a cup of coffee and a few doughnuts. As I was waiting for my order—in between casting glances at an appealing customer sitting by his lonesome on a corner, and pretending to admire the array of colourful doughnuts behind the counter—I remembered copying some questions from a magazine that I read at work. I had thought of answering them because they struck impressive and intellectual—a breather from the common and, most of the time, nonsensical questions people often ask.

As soon as I got my order, I chose a table next to the glass-panel windows. From that spot, I could see the busy streets—the vehicles, pedestrians, and some birds. Like I always did when I felt like interrogating myself, I stared for a moment into nothingness. After a doughnut, a half-full paper cup of coffee, and a plethora of irrelevant thoughts that polluted my consciousness, I was able to start; I took out my green notebook and read.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Apathy. It has to go away, or at least be lessened. I think it’s the one thing that divides us. There’s just too much going on around us, and it’s sickening how, most of the time, we choose to not do anything.

What do you believe in?
I believe in many things. But right now, what I believe in the most is revenge; in not waiting for ‘divine intervention’, for karma, to take its course. It’s a harsh world, and sometimes you have to strike back because if you wait, if you play the willing victim, then you’re only feeding the cycle of injustice. Does that make sense?

Ten years from now, you will be?
I will be where I’m supposed to be. It’s hard to be quite specific about the future, it ruins everything. What I know now is that, it’s not certain where I’m headed in the future. What’s certain is that, I will not allow things to happen if they’re not supposed to happen, if I don’t want them to happen. In ten years, I will be the person I’m working on becoming.

What have you done to make the world a better place?
I’m very concerned about pollution, so I don’t throw my trash anywhere. Cigarette butts, candy wrappers, plastic bottles- when I can’t find a trash bin, I put it in my bag or in my pocket and wait till I get home before disposing. As much as possible, I try to support brands that support environmental causes.

When I read articles about helping save the environment, I share it to people I know, especially those whom I’m certain aren’t the slightest bit aware of what’s happening to our planet.

I took part in Earth Hour.

I have EcoGuru and Green Charging applications on my phone. EcoGuru is an application that assesses how one’s lifestyle affects the environment. And Green Charging is an application that helps save power and therefore helps control global warming by monitoring the time one charges his phone. When the battery is full, it notifies the owner by emitting a sound.

Is your life now everything you ever wanted?
Haven’t you heard? No one ever gets everything he wants.

How do you deal with pressure?
I stall. I think. Then I face it. Sometimes I face it head-on, but that doesn’t usually work out for me. So most of the time, yeah, it’s stall, think, and face.

What was the best advice you were ever given?
You mean one? There’s a list of best advices I’ve received in my life, but one that comes to mind now is, “ You must learn to control your anger because if you let it get the better of you, you might regret it,” which was given to me by my dad. He used to have a volcanic temper, but he was able to have it under control. I don't know if he paid a shrink to help him do that. I guess he noticed how easily I go on a rampage when I lose my temper.