Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Different Perspective: The Problems of the Philippine Society Part 1

In 2007 and in preparation for the then upcoming senatorial elections, GMA News and Public Affairs discussed in eight consecutive Sundays the eight major problems of the Philippines. Hosted by five of the most respected broadcast journalists in the country, the goal of Philippine Agenda was to serve as an awareness campaign to its viewers of the challenges the new government should face as these officials swear their oath of office. GMA News highlighted these eight problems of the Philippine society:
  1. Education
  2. Health Care
  3. Corruption
  4. Housing
  5. Employment
  6. Hunger
  7. Crime and Justice
  8. Electoral reform
In three years though, none of these have found resolution. So far all of our elected officials have simply provided us patchwork solutions and workarounds without addressing the real deal.

I am no sociologist nor am I a media practitioner. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the problems that ordinary Filipinos face day in and day out. My objective in this series of posts is to present an alternative view of why our country has gone so low and offer a way for our country to get up on its feet once more to future leaders.

But seriously, what do I think are the most important problems our country needs addressed? A quote often attributed to the late great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson goes, "Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny." The most important problem our country has is ourselves.

True, we can blame Spain and the 333 years of Spanish rule. Or the Americans who continue to dominate our government--our society--even up to this very day. But have we put all biases aside and looked at ourselves for a change?

In the early Philippines, people lived together in a society that promotes sharing not owning. The Filipino word for real estate or property, ari-arian, signifies lack of real ownership as any word in Tagalog derived from repeating the base word and suffixed with an implies untruth. A good example is the word, bahay-bahayan, when translated in English means "playing house" in contrast to the word bahay which means "a real house". Therefore ari-arian implies "I do not really own this property," as the word ari means property, something that is personal. When transliterated, it actually means "someone's privates".

This concept of shared ownership reveals the fact that Filipinos are spaceless individuals. Before the Spanish conquest, a free man who owns a piece of property is entitled to the all fruits produced by his land, but his neighbors may sow seeds on unused land and even harvest from his plants.

Our problem with individuals who illegally setup their residences on the side of roads or on unused but not necessarily unowned lands is caused by this fact. As spaceless individuals, Filipinos also tend to break the rules of traffic by using up a portion of the road for birthday parties, parades and even parking space causing severe congestion in roads normally used by public utility vehicles. But the fact remains that things have changed and the concept of public or shared ownership is no longer a reality in today's world. A piece of land does not mean it is ready to be settled in by illegal settlers if unused or unoccupied.

As we address this issue of spacelessness, another issue of why these illegal settlers have made their homes illegally crops up--that of employment and prosperity in the Metro. But of course, that is for another post.

credits to Shine for the picture.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday Christians

It's a sad fact that many Christians can only be holy during Sundays. Is holiness affected by the day of the week? Or is it just that Christians want to appear righteous before others in church?

True, it is expected for Christians to always be on their toes, to serve as salt and light to a world that knows not of Christ and His gift of salvation to man. But we are all human. We commit mistakes, whether we like it or not. Whether we are aware or not. While we want to preserve how other people look at us, we deny this fact. Actually, we are denying the truth that were it not for Jesus, we would not have been saved.

Does that mean that we should go on living in sin? That is not my point. We have to do the best that we can and live the way we should live--in Christ--but we should not be punished by fellow Christians should we fall. And we should practice becoming Christians in everywhere we go so we can truly be the salt and light God has commissioned us to be.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is God Your Genie?

We frequently ask God for the things we need--health, success, money, a bright future, fortune. While Jesus himself said in Matthew 7:7,

7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

God is not a Being Who grants all our hearts' desires. Neither does he give us things we do not need. He is wise, and all of his decisions are for the benefit of His children. He knows what is good for us; He sees what we do not; we are inscribed on the palm of His hands.

If God were merely a genie, then all of the things we ask would be granted, and there would be so much chaos, disorder, crime, corruption, evil. Even if we see all these everyday, it would be a welcoming thought to think of how much rampant all these would be if all the desires of evil men will be granted. In Psalm 37:4,

4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

If we keep in tune with God, He will help us know what to desire. We won't need to ask for anything because we will know God's love will see us through.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mang Meliton and His Unselfish Act of Kindness

In the University of the Philippines, different forms of financial help are available to students. One such form of financial help is through student loans. A guarantor is required for a loan borrowed from the University. At the end of the semester, if the student is unable to pay up, the guarantor has to pay for the loan. Any UP employee could serve as a guarantor, but it is usually college teachers and professors who students are able to convince.

Recently, a poignant story is finding its way through blogs. It's a story of a graduating student who was guaranteed by a janitor named Mang Meliton. Here's how the story goes: she needed to enroll her last three subjects to be eligible for graduation, but her parents didn't have the money to support her last semester. Hoping for help from her college professors, she opted for a student loan. But her professors either refused or were not yet eligible. After two weeks of searching for a guarantor, she only had 24 hours left to pay for her matriculation. She felt devastated. Alone, she cried her heart out in the lobby of the College of Arts and Sciences building named Palma Hall (AS, for students of the University). Mop in hand, Mang Meliton approached her and asked why she was crying. The student told him her problem. He simply replied, "Puwede ako pumirma, empleyado ako ng UP." He took the forms and signed them. Mang Meliton was her savior. At the end of the semester, she fulfilled her end of the deal and paid for the loan.

The story does not end there, however. Mang Meliton recently retired only to find that he was only paid for 171 days out of those 45 years of serving the University faithfully. And the reason for that, was because there were students who were unable to pay up for their loans, hence, because he served as a guarantor, he paid for their debts.

For more of this, please visit:

I am writing about this today in my blog as an appeal to fellow alumni and help one of the most noble retirees of our beloved University.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ex Deo Scientia is PageRank 2

Readers will be glad to know that my new blog now has PageRank. Ex Deo Scientia, after only one month, has been granted PageRank 2! The same goes for my eleven-month old blog, 4ever7 Heaven. Thanks everybody!