Friday, October 12, 2012

Ad Hominem fallacy: Hitting the arguer rather than the argument

Are you questioned, not because of what you said, but because of who you are after declaring a statement? For example, you reminded someone because he’s late, only to rebutted because you’re surfing an irrelevant material from the internet during office hours. After writing or posting a material, instead of noticing what was written will start to ask if you have personal issues. After stating your argument, you’ll either be called “childish”, “immature”, or you’ll be ask, “Do you have a problem with your parents/family/brother/friend/etcetera?” If these things are confirmed, the biggest blow is, “how can we believe you? You are (______) (insert character flaws)” The aforementioned paragraph is describing what is called “ad hominem” fallacy. Now, to the anti-nerds/anti-geeks/edjumacated out there, it literally means “to the man”. This is a fallacy in which, instead of attacking the argument, the arguer’s personal life will be attacked. Normally, when this fallacy is answered by the arguer, he will be distracted. This is also like the rhetorical device called “poisoning the well”, in which, no matter how the water from the well is poured out, it is still poisoned. Now, instead of having a solid argument or by the fact statement, a person is already discredited, plainly because, the “well is already poisoned”. Worse than that, in a sarcastic or manipulative fashion, you’ll be portrayed as a lost soul or a problematic individual. Coupled with manipulated yes people that have witnessed that argument, negatively, the attention is now on you. Not only are your arguments wrongfully made invalid, but your persona was put into question. Worst, there are people who make use of this very well you’ll just shut your mouth off, even if the one who did that fallacy is doing something wrong. This type of fallacy is a below-the-belt fallacy. Not only that, it’s a self-righteous fallacy, similar to Tu quoque fallacy. Bluntly, this fallacy is used not only by cultic fellows, but also by people who can’t answer back a solid, valid argument. Now, maybe we deemed this topic as “very intellectual”, the sarcastic form of “senseless”, for using English or for making a big deal out of things. They may also add that this is only applicable to parliamentary procedures, court rooms, and the likes, and not to everyday life. In addition, they may add they are too poor to deal with this type of shallowness (this by the way is another form of fallacy called “appeal to poverty”, which we have written before). We’ll respect that opinion. However, like I said, if suspects of a crime have his day in court despite surmounting evidence, how much more in this situation that we often “petty” or “no big deal”? We have the tendency to question or, lightly, ridicule a person’s argument or his essay or articles because of two things: 1) the motivations behind the person’s spoken words and written materials, and/or 2) the character of the person itself. We often hear it in Tagalog words “may pinaghuhugautan” (roughly, “drawing out something”). Regarding those two things, let me tell this: all written words, be it in this social networking site or in other media, are inspired or have motivations one way or another. Even writing without thinking has an inspiration: the NOTHING. So if our attitude is to discredit or ridicule a person’s written materials and his spoken words just because of inner motives and inspirations, then let us ridicule ALL WRITTEN BOOKS, including the Bible. After all, all books were made or written with inner motives and inspirations, be it positive or negative. Let us still to the facts, not to the persona. You don’t necessarily need a degree or grammar know-how to do that, although those would be a big help. Stick to the facts, stick to the argument, as long as it is solid valid, and not malicious. I remember a former congregant in our church. He’s a good singer, eventually joining our choir. He’s a Licensed Engineer, an academic medalist in his Alma Mater, and a professor in that very same Alma Mater. He straightforwardly said to the younger choir members in a choir meeting to listen to the one speaking, no matter how funny or senseless that person is, because it shows character. I will be the first to accept the bullet of this article. Let’s stick to the facts, not merely to look and be smart, but also it indicates good character.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

“Argumentum ad lazarum” in our everyday society

(Note: written in English for broader audience, I promise to transliterate this to Tagalog one of these days) Philippines is known for one common scene especially if you’re in the metropolis, squatters. However, in order not to offend both the masses and those that use them, let us the more soft term, informal settlers. Actually, you know the stereotype or the usual story. Person will build a house in another person’s property. Then, another group of people will come and stay in that propety. So on and so forth. Then, years after, when the owner of the property wanted to build, let’s say a factory, the settlers will protest. They will use the media, telling that they will not have a place to stay. Maybe some of you know how some (not all) have used this to earn money, but I’ll not move further. My point is not about the settlers per se, let the local government deal with them. It is how people have used poverty to justify their argument. In logic, it is called argumentum ad lazarum or appeal to poverty. The word “lazarum” was derived from the Biblical character Lazarus (of the Lazarus and the rich man parable). This argument is not exclusive only to social issues, but also includes everyday conversation. Let me give you an example. One time, a guy is inside his girlfriend’s house having a conversation with his girlfriend’s family. At the duration of the conversation, the guy is starting to notice that one of his girlfriend’s sister starting to be out of line. In order to be nice, he humorously reminded the girl not to act like and talk in that manner. Instead of being taken seriously, he was made fun of. To avoid mentioning offending words, he just walked out. However, due to cpredicted circumstances, he returned to his girlfriend’s house. Because of this, his girlfriend’s mother reprimanded him. It’s normal. The guy is wrong for walking out (but not for reminding the girl of her wrong attitude). The girlfriend’s mother stated, “YOU RICH PEOPLE DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SENSITIVE”. THAT, I say, is an example of an appeal to poverty. Some people have used this way of speaking to have it their way, plainly because they are poor or in poverty. They can speak foul words, plainly because they are poor. That is so not fair, in a human sense of the word. For starters, being rich and being poor don’t have anything to do with correcting a person for her wrong attitude. The so called rich guy came in nicely and with respect. Yes, insecurities play a role on this, but one should put his composure and focus on facts – the fact that, in that example, a negative attitude must be corrected. Facts and evidence are still the best tool. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. Let us not be stupid. Let’s not be blinded plainly because a person is poor. Poor doesn’t equate being right, the way speaking and writing in Tagalog doesn’t mean being humble. Facts, evidence, and logic. Even if it is difficult, let’s stick to them in matters like this.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Everyday Tu quoque

Note: Not meant to replace the philosophy teacher’s lecture note. Just a perspective. Have you encountered or witnessed a conversation or an argument in which one person started to make his position on a certain issue, only to be rebutted just because it either contradicted his previous stand or his loved ones are doing the contrary? If you are in that position, normally you may have tongue tied. You may have encountered concerned Instead of being enlightened, you were punched…figuratively. It is called in Latin words “Tu quoque” or “you too” in English. This is the type of fallacy or incorrect argumentation using the appeal to hypocrisy (hence the words “you too”). Fallacy, like we said, is an incorrect argumentation resulting in a lack of soundness. In Tagalog slang, this is synonymous with the words, “pambabara”. Tu quoque is one of those fallacies. In this kind of fallacy, a person who argued will be given a rebuttal that it is not valid plainly because that person is not credible enough to defend his argument due to the arguer’s inconsistency. In logic, this is a fallacy. Why? One of the essences of a good argument is that it should be solid enough. Now, if you wanted to rebut a good argument, then it should be rebutted with a solid logically sound statement. In the parliamentary procedures, tu quoque is a no-no, unless you’re intentionally doing it as a form of stalling or a way to lose the opponent’s composure hence having more time to come up with a better statement. Ideally, you rebut an argument using logically sound statement, not appealing to that person’s so called hypocrisy. This synonymous with what we call “clean hands”. Although most of us are not familiar with the do’s and don’ts of parliamentary procedures, we do this type of fallacy to dismiss a person’s solid statement, especially if that packs a punch. We’ll dismiss a person’s true statement about us plainly because his life is not credible enough. To certain minimal extent, this type of fallacy can be used to someone IF that someone is starting to be TRULY senseless. However, if the statement is sound and reasonable enough, then why use a loser’s tactic like tu quoque? Putting this in everyday life, we’ll not take a logically sound statement just because the source is not credible is also “dirty”. This is common in the bureaucracy. A government employee can never argue to a person under question because Mr. Government Employee’s list of mistakes will be made known (I call it the “black book” attitude). When that happens, tu quoque and mudslinging started to become relatives, if not siblings. Another tu quoque approach is questioning a person plainly because he is “insane”, “eccentric”, “out of this world”, etc. This time around, tu quoque started to have another sibling in the proverbial person of derogatory remarks. Let us prove ourselves professionals by not doing that loser’s tactic. Face the music, don’t hide under that loser’s tactic. If proven not true by using facts, not only will your argument be sound, but you won your case…with class and decency. Friends, it may not be right to put the parliamentarian style in an everyday conversation, but if we are a person of good character, we’ll listen to the argument, regardless of the source. If our attitude is not to follow a right statement because it came from seemingly wronged person, then I regret to tell you that you lose another learning opportunity. We human beings are imperfect. This is the very reason why it’s not right to make a person discredited in order to avoid listening to him or his so called foolishness. A person with good character will deal with the statement, regardless of the source. He’ll only disregard it if there’s no truth in it, not because the source is not credible due to being a “nut case” or “dirty”. Still doing tu quoque? Have it your way. We’ll respect that. However, let us remind ourselves we’ll not get closer to the truth if we do such thing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

To be good or to be good only to us?

Since last year, I’ve rested from the rigors of teaching. No, I still love teaching, or being a student. If given another chance of time, I will go back to graduate school to pursue another Master’s degree or pragmatically the Ph.D. Although I am teaching one class in Public Speaking, teaching more than one or 3 classes has not been my thing since last year due certain priorities. Still, as my wife can attest, I am and will always be a teacher regardless of the paths that will be given to me in the days to come. I am sure we hear or read the words “teaching is the noblest profession”. Fellow mentors, or tormentors, despite the salary which leads most of us to go “Loandon” (Loan dito, loan doon or Loan here and there.), a part of us say that there is fulfillment in teaching. This is especially felt by those teaching pre-teens below students. You’ll notice them learn how to read and write. Eventually, you’ll notice them grow academically, psychologically, spiritually, and physically. You’ll see the overall growth. You can’t help but be happy, even if you’re not the type who grins a lot. Since the time I graduate college in 2001, I considered myself a teacher, although my real teaching years are 5 years (2002-2004, 2009-present). I salute teachers who taught for more than a decade. However, alongside this salutation is also a reminder. There’s a reminder that there is a temptation. Yeah right, we might say that it should be with an “s”, so make it tempationS. Yes, as teachers, we are experiencing temptations. There is always the temptation to amass large amounts of debt. Yes, these times, our kids wanted to have the latest gadgets, latest phones, latest etcetera, forgetting that their parents are just Teacher 1 in a public school or a low rank teacher. Hence, the temptation to go, well, “Loandon”. There is also the temptation of falling for your students. Let me tell you this with all honesty: students especially nowadays are pretty. Especially if you’re teaching high school and in your mid 20s (for example), some female students can even pass as your prospective date. With just right conditions and seemingly conniving circumstances, a young or even old male teachers will be tempted to date a student, or worse than that. Since even our law itself considered teachers as persons in authority, there is also a tendency of corruption. Yes, we heard of teachers running away the student fund or overpricing student related expenses (let us be professional and proper: if you’re not that kind of person, don’t be hurt. This is just for example’s sake). No, I am not talking about that temptation. This is the temptation that, when we give in, doesn’t automatically make us go to jail or have our PRC cards revoked. This is the temptation of drawing our students, both former and current, to the US-WORLD. This is the temptation of self-centeredness. Since we’re teachers, there is a temptation of teaching our students to be good…to us, to those that pertain to us, and similar to us. Yes, we teach them values. However, there is the tendency to teach our students subjective values. To explain this further, let me give questions. Do we teach them to be good or to be good only to us? If we saw our students starting to be friendly to another teacher that we don’t like, do we rationalize our insecurities by disguising it in a form of concern? If that is concern, is it a concern that the students might be in danger in that another teacher or is it just plain jealousy because “our precious sons and daughters” no longer surround us? When calling for our former and current students for help, is it for them to be better or for yourself? If for yourself, is it because you really need a helping hand or just their attention? When we’re being called “daddy”, “dad”, “mom”, “mommy”, “ate”, “kuya” and similar terms by our students, do we feel good? If yes, do we remind ourselves that, after the terms of respect is given, to keep our composure and move forward to our job? Do we teach because we wanted to be heard (not bad to certain extent)? Do we call our students “son”, “daughter”, or “anak”? If yes, do we call them as such because we’re just plainly sweet or because we are building our own yes-men/yes-women army to be used in “future purposes”? Are we teaching students some real “high standards” or you’re just too overprotective? Do we teach them values because they need them or because we need these students? Are we teaching the alma mater values for students to be better people or just because we wanted a product that is called OUR OWN? Are we teaching our students to remember what we taught them or do we teach them to remember US built in the guise of teaching? Teachers and aspiring teachers, let us remember that our students have their own lives. Let us remember that they are individuals, not our army. In fact, even army guys and gals have their own lives. Let us minimize, if not let go, our insecurities by teaching the students what they need. Once they’ve learned, let us move forward and teach another. Yes, cherishing our past students are good, but let us be reminded that it is our duty, not merely our pressure to teach them. Teach the students to be loyal to the right teachings, not to us. Teach the students to remember what they need to learn, not remember what makes us happy if the students do it in the first place. Teach objectivity, help them with subjectivities and relativities. Well, even yours truly find this one a tough one, but in order for us to be efficient, effective, and emotionally secured teachers, let us keep reminding ourselves with these, or more.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Publicly Quarreling or Arguing People (Benefit of the Doubt part 2)

In lieu of the "benefit of the doubt" series, we'll talk about another scene that should be given a second look, if you're not truly busy. Have you ever seen an arguing couple or pair or just plain two people? it's an unpleasant sight right? Wait, before you act righteous on this one, let us establish one truth here: no matter how unpleasant, since our society doesn't revolve solely around an individual human being, there are times that you'll see an unavoidable, unpleasant sight. It just depends on the degree. In a fast food chain, for example, we'll see young pair arguing from a seemingly shallow topic or some sensible ones. We'll see it on soap operas how a wife or girlfriend is dragged by the husband or boyfriend literally, and the wife or girlfriend is crying while the "pathetic" guy is doing the act. Whether we admit or not, when we see this type of scene, we take sides. Especially here in the Philippines, it is often the crying one whom we take sides. After all, Filipinos in general love underdogs. More often than not, we hide that reality by having a busy-mode-I-don't-care-in your-face look, BUT a truly functioning brain has something to say or two when he sees a situation like that. Good thing there's an excuse called "preoccupied with something else". Admit it or not, we often take sides on the girl who cried. After all, women are supposed to be treated with respect and like a weaker vessel (before gender equality advocates react, the words I used are "to be treated" and "like". To be treated LIKE a weaker vessel doesn't mean a woman IS a weaker vessel, not to mention the simile "like a weaker vessel"). I agree that every person should be treated with respect. However, before we take sides on this melodrama, both literally or mentally, let us remember certain things. A scene is just a part of the whole story. A scene is not automatically the whole story. Every writer, book worm, and some written words readers know that. You may have seen a person cry, but that doesn't mean that that person is the aggrieved party. Sometimes, there are people who make sense and are right, but because they are not in touch with their emotions, no tears or warmth comes out of that person. Some people, instead of realizing or admitting how wrong their behind-the-public-scene actions are, find ways on how they'll provoke the aggrieved person in public, making the aggrieved person angry beyond expected. If that happens, the wrongdoing person's act will be covered. After all, when the person is provoked, you can never tell. Now, I know you might say that it takes character or, some say, real man don't argue or explode that much to a woman, BUT depraved as we are (unless you believe that we can be righteous partially by ourselves), with proper timing and scenario and circumstances, even your own subjective, favorable-to-you mature person can be provoked by this deceiving act of public drama! We must take into considerations also that some people are just so good in acting like an underdog. They know the right words to say, but their agenda is deceiving. On the other side, there are people who are not good in advertising their good self. Generally, action oriented people are not good with words. Hence they are misunderstood. For example, when we see a guy dragging a women to the street, we oftentimes say that that guy is a batterer. Is that automatically true? Some guys are just naturally private. Because of this, when they encounter this scene, some private guys, out of desperation, will just drag the woman away out of the public scene because she is starting to be scandalous. Worst, she is starting to catch attention and sympathy of being the aggrieved person. Now these assumptions maybe wrong, and the CLASSIC assumption may be right at times, BUT a really thinking person gives benefit of the doubt even in simplest situations before jumping to that CLASSIC conclusion: that men dragging the women out of a public scene are batterers. No, the point is not to justify any public scene, nor give justice to men inflicting harm on women. Any scandalous scenes are not supposed to be done. However, the point here is to take a second look and use our heads if we ever saw a scene. What if the scene happened to you and you weren't given your own brand of justice? The aforementioned paragraphs may not be applicable to some, but it is applicable on certain cases. Now, maybe we'll say that we are too busy for such, for this, and for this writer. If that is the case, ignoring a public scene is way much better than to never give benefit of the doubt and be mentally antagonistic on one particular side. After all, any public scene has a private culprit that only they truly know. This lengthy article can be shortened in these sentences: if we see two publicly arguing people, let's give both sides the benefit of the doubt. If we can't do that and will just side on one person and be antagonistic to another, then let's just mind our own business.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An angry customer to a clerk or an establishment manager (Benefit of the Doubt part 1)

When I was in grad school, my wife and I, on separate classes, had a professor. She was very considerate when it comes to absentee students. Sometimes, some of my classmates will opt to watch movies or just roam around the mall, instead of going to her class. Clueless of what they are doing, the said graduate professor would often use the word, “let’s give them the BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT why they are absent in our class today.” Benefit of the doubt, according to freedictionary.com is “to believe something good about someone, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either.” It’s like giving the person the chance to prove his critics and enemies wrong. In this day and age, being so called analytical like a profiler is the in-thing because we shall be branded as stupid or not too discerning. Because of this, it’s difficult to give people the benefit of the doubt. In my opinion, though, let’s give it anyway. After all, when proven wrong, it will not be said that he was not given the chance. The court room is a classic institutional example of using such. We always hear the words, “the person is innocent UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY” with certain variations. In criminology, a person is still called SUSPECT. However, once proven, he or she is called CONVICT. The process from being suspect to being a convict is a long one, especially here in the Philippines. Evidence upon evidence will be examined and cross-examined. Lawyers, judges, and people exposed on the judiciary process know the procedures, and they will agree with me that one of the reasons why they do is that they give benefit of the doubt on the accusations. No matter how difficult it is, we need to give people the benefit of the doubt on certain situations. Our first example is between a vocally angry customer and the clerk. We see this every day: customers being angry on the clerk, and eventually, the establishment manager because of a poor or slow service or unattended concern. Especially in the Philippines, and most especially in an ecclesiastical setting, we find being vocally angry automatically wrong. This is somehow a wrong frame of mind. Why? Because being angry is not automatically being wrong! Let us remember that, yes, customers are also human with certain tendencies, but so does clerk, cashier, and also establishment managers. I don’t mean to offend the people with jobs like this, but definitely, they’ll have their defense. In fact, especially with labor empowerment, clerks, cashiers, and establishment managers are somewhat empowered. With the help of soap operas, sympathy is on their obvious side. I don’t want to be mean to them. This is the point of the words “benefit of the doubt”, to understand behavior and being human further, not just make a study out of it like some psychologist or pseudo-profilers. Going back to the topic, let us be reminded that some customers are just more vocal than the others. His being vocal in a given situation doesn’t define the whole him or her. Besides, there are people who can still remain calm, smiling, yet beneath those smiles and calmness is a mean personality ready to dodge the blame and make the customers look as a villain. In situations like this, before we accuse a customer of being an angry, mean being, if we had the chance, let us listen to the angry concern. If the customer is angrily stating his or her concern. Clerks, cashiers, and establishment managers, this is a reminder: not admitting short comings (unless you’re CIA or confidentiality based jobs) provoke most customers to be more angry than the usual, others who are just tolerant enough because they are busy (lucky you!) on such. However, that doesn’t automatically negate an angry customer. Yes, we may say there are other options to address or not address the concern. Again, this is the point of the words benefit of the doubt: we can’t avoid situations all the time. If the customer’s anger is purely because of the service, I think let us just be tolerant and even agree to certain extent on situations like this. Clerks, cashiers, and establishment managers, let’s not have a deaf ear and make fun of angry customers. It’s not because “customers are always right” (maybe not all the time), but because life is fair and just. One way or another, you’ll experience the very feeling in a situation that you are not guarded with. Be also objective in addressing customer complaints, and address it. If he or she remains ballistic, then take action; after all, other customers are not that stupid to notice. Human as we are, we may also be provoked, but when that happens, you are also entitled to that benefit of the doubt. Giving benefit of the doubt is difficult, especially in this fast paced life we have right now, but it must still be given. After all, the Bible said it clearly: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I know nothing…I Am Nothing

No, I am not a fan of Socrates, and yes, I made fun of my first name. The made-up acronym of my first name is often used as a light humor by fellow Christians and those familiar with Christianity. I Am Nothing. Despite the humor of this, it is true: I am nothing. Like Socrates puts it, I know that I know nothing. This is not self-pity, but not to be used as a way to add insult to a perceived injury. This is not self-pity; this is reality. I have proven this many times. I need to read things first, spent nights thinking things over. This is not envy, but a shout to reality. While I take things seriously on text based materials, others have the gift of just browsing it, and coming up with the answers. While I join the games to have fun, others see it as a competition. They win. I lose. I heard that he who asks the questions is the one in charge. I was asked right and left. I perceived they are in charge. Then, let them do the winning. Let them do the charge. Yes, they know better, I’ll just write things down, literally or figuratively. They are a bunch of gifted ones indeed. Yes, I know nothing, I am nothing. Others have this uncanny gift for analysis, able to answer the whys and the what-ifs of a given situation. I need late night sleeps in order to answer certain things that others just do in a breeze. Since I know nothing and I am nothing, I will consider myself a constant learner. Stubborn learner, but still, I’m a learner. This constant learner will not stop in learning, be it the soft way or the hard way. These eyes, I assumed, are made with a purpose other than just seeing. Since I don’t know what are the other ultimate purposes, I’ll just read and see things. If I saw and read it wrong, it’s alright, I don’t know anyway, hence, I will learn. I know nothing, and I am nothing. Hence, I am a learner. Ill made? Bad literature? Bad prose? Worthy of indifferences? It’s okay. This was made by someone who knows nothing and is nothing.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Grammar Correction"...or is it?

I don’t know about other countries, but here in the Philippines, speaking in English is one of the ways a person can bully, outwit, and out-smart another person that he dislikes or hates. I have heard many times how people use this approach. Pragmatist can just dismissed this approach as pure bullying or plain senseless and not to be dealt with so much energy. Actually, it is true. However, since this is an article, let’s talk about this. There are also times that grammar correction is also used against the person subject of his or her dislike or hatred. More often used by women than men, this is somewhat a source of irritation. For example, you’re raising a point or you’re talking about a certain topic and suddenly you are wrong in the subject-verb agreement, and you’re corrected. Now, this is where bullying, hating, or outwitting comes in: you’re not inside an English class. Because of this, you are “corrected”, not to make you a better person, but you are disliked or hated. Bluntly, unless a person is, by concrete evidence, a total jerk, we should remind ourselves that the “Grammar Correction” approach is just a plain senseless approach in pulling down a person. Now here’s the funny part: grammar correction proves that you understood. Therefore, the correction is somewhat conflict escalating, and you just escalated. Another dark humor in this type of foolishness is relevance. Think of it in a logical mind frame, why correct someone’s grammar when the topics are, let’s say teaching strategies and management policies? Yes, people adhering to this approach may justify the use of grammar on teaching strategies, management policies, etc. However, are you serious? Do you hear your argument? If the same argument was thrown back to you when you did a similar mistake, will you agree? I think not. You may call this anti-intellectual or anti-English (which is an ironic because this article is in English). As long as the message is understood, and you’re not inside an English class, GRAMMAR CORRECTION IS IRRELEVANT. Respected comedian and impersonator Willie Nepomuceno, an intellectual, despite his impersonation of Former President Joseph Estrada, finds grammar jokes not that funny. Still, despite this nasty approach, at the bottom line, this approach is funny. It’s a funny because, in grammar correction, you understood what you corrected. It means you corrected a person’s grammar because you understand the message that he or she’s trying to convey. Since it’s understood, why correct in an inappropriate situation? It is sad to know that more often than not, this approach happens in work places like basic or higher education institutions and other places where English was given “conditioned necessity”. Let’s not move further into that to avoid drifting away from the intended topic. The heart of the matter is this: a truly adequately intelligent person can discern, in this example, if grammar correction is relevant or not. An intellectual with good character knows when to ignore a grammatical error of another person because there is a weightier matter than grammar as of that moment. To the people using this approach to another colleague, let us ask this thing: after the grammar correction, did you truly help a person or just put him down? If you put him down plainly because he used a wrong grammar, did it help the institution or company as a whole? As part of this social community inside institutions, let us not be personalistic. Grammar can be corrected in an appropriate situation. Deliberately doing and ignoring so reflects bad character.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Congratulations, batch 2012!

First of all, let me congratulate you, graduates, for making it. Second, congratulations to the parents who worked hard, one way or another, to send these teens to school.





Ladies and gentlemen, especially the graduates, let me share some few things. Most of us know that crimes nowadays are committed by minors. The numbers are going up. However, because of their age, they can't go to jail, they're send to DSWD. Still though, even if they have no marks of the prison bars, the fact remains the same: they have committed immoral acts at a very young age. Recently, a high school honor student was killed, all because of one simple thing, PSP. The suspects are now in prison. The ages of the suspects? Both in the mid 20s. They have wasted their life at the age where careers are being started, and they have done senseless killing to a teenager, whose ambition was to become a seaman and helped his family.





We have heard news of how early teenagers have committed rape, murder, homicide, robbery, not to mention theft, drug addiction, premarital sex, unwanted pregnancies. Because of this, the Congress is putting in legislation to put down the age of those who can be put into the prison. On the other side of the world, a man named Joseph Kony abducted children. The girls were used as prostitutes, while the boys are used as his soldiers. His advocacy? No known advocacy, but just to create his own army in that African state. NationMaster.com estimated that the Philippines has 101,000,000 people, while CIA World Factbook estimated that the Philippine population is 101,833,938. This survey was made around June 2011. We were 12th most populous country in the world, with China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia, Japan, Mexico all before us. 34.6% percent of our Population are 14 years old and below. Another source that dated 2010 says that there are 4 million teenagers, age 15-19 years old, in 2010 alone.





No, I'm not giving a lecture, for today's occasion is one of the most memorable part of a teenage life, and so does their parents and guardians. No, I'm not giving a tragic news for a supposedly happy occasion, for this occasion is also one of the happiest moments of a teenage life. Today is a day of celebration for all of us here. However, this is also a day of challenge. "What challenge?" one might ask. This day is a challenge of learning. Few minutes ago, rough statistics were given to you, and so does some current events. We can learn from this statistics and events that you, young graduates, has a significant bulk in population. A significant bulk that has so many things to learn like a sponge absorbing water. A significant bulk that can turn this community, or even this nation upside down. In all of this, learning is a significant variable.





Youngsters who committed crimes and youngsters who became honor students or simply graduates have two things in common: they're both young and learning. Youngsters who have committed crime at their young age have learned to do the crime because they have absorbed what is needed to be learned of a criminal. They have learned it from older "role models". It may be their own family members. It may be their peers. It may be of bad company. They have learned the bad deeds quickly...plainly because they are learners.





Youngsters who tried and did their best to finish school have learned the courses required by their teachers. Inside the school, they have learned the art of friendship, camaraderie, and the sense of community. On a humorous note, they have learned the art of cheating, computer games, how to pull jokes and pranks on both their teachers and classmates also inside the school. On a serious note, they have learned learning at school one way or another.





After this graduation, I bet that you're allergic of the word learning because often times, you associate it with school. However, let us be reminded that learning is both inside and outside of the school.





Like I said, both a young offender and an honor student are learners. Learners absorbing learning experiences like sponge. Learners giving what they have learned, one for the bad, and the other for the good. Learning is for us to maximize the positive gifts that we have. Let us use it right, let us rightfully use it.




Speaking of learning, let us not use learning just for personal purposes. Please let us use it to help our nation. Our nation have suffered decades of corruption. They have learned the strategies, the craft, Andover things. Yes they did, only to gain. They also learn to find their way out accountabilities. Our nation have also suffered on dissatisfaction on leadership. They have learned how to topple down one leader and another. Graduates, please let us all not do that (strong emphasis, then pause briefly)! Instead, let's focus on how our nation can bounce back through our learning experience. We must not messianic, learners, let us be an active everyday doer of positive things.




Let us build, not destroy. Let us love, not hate. Let us help, not shun. All of those are possible through learning. Because we have learned that if we build, we don't destroy. If we love, it comes back to us. If we help, we shall be helped one way or another. These positive learning experiences will eventually spread exponentially. Yes, we may not be on the paper or television, but our learning have helped this nation, one simple step at a time.




Ladies and gentlemen, our graduates deserve good role modes. Good role models in which they can learn positive learning experiences. Positive learning experiences that deserves to be shared. Parents, teachers, guardians, older guests, yours truly, they need to get something good from us.




Congratulations, to the graduates, for the learning that you have received, and welcome to the new world of learning experiences. May your learning serve as a big help for today's nation. Thank you very much!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pseudonyms, pen names, and real names

Writing in pen names or pseudonyms had been going for centuries. For the sake of time, I'll not dig into the history and the people who are into pseudonyms both past and present. Let's cut into the chase. I'm not a fan of pseudonyms, although I admire some works created by writers who happens to use pseudonyms. In fact, one of my influences in comic strip drawing is a man who uses the pseudonym Lyndon Gregorio.



When I started writing, I use my real name. One magazine call this attitude a rock star/metal attitude in a sense that opinions were made and they know EXACTLY who mentioned those opinions. It's not arrogance; it's being responsible and accountable. It is also a good control measure because people know your real name. If they know your real name, you'll be careful enough by being responsible in your opinion. You'll practice the "think before you click" attitude, and not the "blurt out before you block" attitude.



Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that people who write with pen names and pseudonyms are automatically irresponsible writers. Please consider the words as a brotherly reminder.



This day and age made way to the new breed of writers. Indeed, the Internet created new writers, regardless of profile. I don't know if how long they've been writing, but definitely Internet have been their springboard.



There are Christian writers who made use of the Internet in order to express themselves. In fact, some have used pen names and pseudonyms. Despite my dislike for pseudonyms, as brother in Christ, let us be reminded to use it to good use. Use it to give good reminders. However, let us also remember that if ever we hit on matters like sin, let's do the "hate the sin, not the sinner" attitude. Let us remember that there is a thin line between righteous indignation and self-righteous hate. Despite being writers, we are not audience to the ills of society, both inside and outside real Christianity. We are in it. We may not be of this world, but we are living IN this world. Some Christian writers are condescending. Some are humorous. Some are point blank logical. Some are tactful and brotherly. Some don't want to be categorized in all of he aforementioned approaches. Despite of the different approaches, let's not point out that we are not perfect, yet we hit and act like one, especially if we are hitting on our spiritual brethren. Let's not act like Big Brother, lurking like an authoritative audience. After all, as long as we're human, we are involved.



As Christian writers, with or without pen names, let us be examples of God's grace by loving our own and not by hitting the, like lightning to the metal rod. Let us learn from Pastors. They hit behind the pulpit, yet they demonstrate love and care after the sermon was preached. Real brotherly love is expressed by having a broken heart every time owe hit the sin of the fellow sinners only saved by grace. Doing otherwise is pure hate, and worse than that, sadism. A true intellectual will not use his or her own gender or the hormones underlying it when writing. He or she writes because it is point blank honest, yet sincere. He or she doesn't under the guise of honesty just to display pure hate and practical fault finding.



Despite our differences, fellow Christian writers, be it pseudonyms or real names, my respect is on you....and so does my concern.



Keep on writing!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Long Article on Adult High School Stuff

School Year 2011-2012 is coming to an end in a few weeks. Recently, my students under Public Speaking are finished with their culminating activity that was held in the auditorium. It served as their final examination. They’re all so good. I acted more of a facilitator for them during that activity rather than a teacher. Most of these high school students will graduate this year. Some will stay partially because they needed to finish a specific number of “manuals” (it’s a Christian school thing).


Speaking of high school, years have passed since my high school days. It’s been 15 years. Still, some memories are fresh as if it just occurred a few weeks back. I can still remember how I find it hard listening to lectures, yet I can work so well when things were given to me in writing. Hence, in a Christian school setting, I work so well in manuals (but not as good as my Top 3 classmates). As a high school student, I’m not that charismatic. I’m not the popular one (I’m not pitying. It’s true). I’m not athletic. Although I am basically a fit student, I’m not athletic enough. Back then, how I wish I could play hoops or sprint like the players back then. However, it’s not destined in me, despite the zeal within me. It was just now that geeks or the likes are popular (thanks to Big Bang Theory, CSI, Criminal Minds, and movie incarnations of Marvel Characters like Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Ghost Rider etc.), but back then, if you like cartoons, you are “childish” and “kengkoy”. It is just now that trivia-giving is cool (thanks to the late Ernie Baron and thanks to Kuya Kim Atienza), but back then, you’ll be branded as weird, boring, and uncool. The difficult part of my high school life? Interacting “normally” (or to put it appropriately, acting the way most people act). Not to mention some bullies.


Speaking of high school experiences, I know I’m not alone on this, but one way or another, we are hurt by the experiences we had back in high school. The sources vary. It can be from a teacher who had treated you wrong. It can be from senior, junior students, or even your own classmates. Because of the popularity of the word “bitter”, we can’t admit that to avoid being called “bitter”, coupled with the sarcastic “move on”.


It shakes my head when an alumnus of a church-school system, one way or another, call their teachers, senior members, and in totality, the members negative names, when, looking back in their high school days, they were given chances after another. To add to the injury, they have pleasure in making of fun of the now well dressed, well educated person by making fun of his high school blunders. Yes, it’s funny, but doing that thing on a long term basis is an indication of baggage.


As a volunteer teacher of my Alma Mater, I have seen how teachers have grown old and wiser. After all, they will not be the teachers that they are admired and respected if they have not experienced blunders. The leaders committed mistakes one way or another, especially how they approached us back then. This is the very reason why they became better leaders. Leaders become better leaders because they commit blunders and just moved on. You wanted a better leader and a better teacher? Show me one, and I bet those people will tell you their mistakes and blunders that eventually led them to be better individuals.


Let us remember these things: members come and go. Any high school baggage that you throw to the members of today will hit the wrong target. Nowadays, looking around, in my personal observation, this is a brand new generation. Chances are the people that hurt you during your high school days are no longer there. The people that offended you? They have learned their lesson one way or another. If they’re not yet learning, God and life will make them learn until they learn. The teachers and leaders back then didn’t mean harm when we were approached negatively during our student years. After all, teachers who are really being mean didn’t last that long in a church-school setting. Their approach is different, but their intentions and willingness are golden.


High school life is a very wonderful life, despite the experiences. When the idea of bitterness sinks in, just count the positive things that occurred to you. The day you were selected in the high school basketball or volleyball team. The day that you were chosen to be a delegate. The day that you become champions. The day that God gave you the charisma to the point that you are approached first before you approach them. Refresh those positive memories. I believe all of us have them – positive members. There are students who never got the chance to be one, yet they went on with their lives and eventually became good on what they really have.


To the current graduating high school students, forgive your teachers if you feel they have wronged you. If you are in church-school setting, forgive the members that offended you. It’s part of the spiritual growth and journey towards maturity. We ourselves have our own journey. We ourselves have offended people one way or another. High school life is a life worth remembering, especially if it is remembered positively and treated with a teachable heart.


Congratulations in advance, batch 2012.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fairness, Silver Spoon, and Working Hands

More often than not, we encounter people that are blessed financially. Sometimes, they’re not limited to places like Forbes Park, Corinthian Garden, and the likes. We call them names or terms like born with a silver spoon, señorito/señorita/doña/don, and anak mayaman. In fact, maybe one of them is your colleague, friend, or classmate. That person’s a bit out of place mainly because he is, well, blessed. We don’t refer to the people with famous surnames. We refer to people who parents worked hard to the point that they finished their college education (even graduate/law/medical/business school) because their parents worked hard and as a result, were financially blessed. They’re seemingly blessed even on workplace. Their good work ethic is accompanied with being a person with likeable factor (not necessarily popular). Their names may not ring a bell on high society circle, but their needs are met just fine. They earn their respect like a breeze, although it’s not merely because of nepotism or other negative reasons. They just seemed…lucky.


On the other side, we know a handful of “wounded warriors”. They have a colorful life that they can utilize if they wanted to run for public office. Their childhood can be seen as tragic. Their student years are, well, tough, because they need to work in order to pay for their tuition, not to mention their other expenses. In the workplace, they work their way to the top. With these experiences, he earned the respect. Indeed, a champion despite adversities of this life.


Now, amidst the audience (or the people who don’t want to belong in these two categories for whatever reason) these two types of people meet in a workplace or some place. More often than not, we sided with “Mr. Working Hands” in a soap opera fashion. Whether we admit it or not, if “Mr. Silver Spoon” accomplishes something, we just dismissed it. I like to put it in Tagalog: hindi natin na-aapreciate gaano dahil kasi diumano ay mayaman siya. We often say similar terms, not the exact words, like, “He submitted the papers early because he has maids at home” or “He is the son of this and that. He has connections.” After all, a typical Filipino loves “underdogs”.


This is somewhat tragic on the part of Mr. Silverspoon. Is it his fault if ever God blessed his family? Is it his fault if ever his education and further education were financed by his parents? Is it his fault if he has “soft hands” – an epitome of so-called laziness? Admit it or not, instead of acknowledging God’s grace on Mr. Working Hands, we give credit solely on that person, like it’s Mr. Silver Spoon’s fault. We’re not including all Mr. Working Hands, but when they see Mr. Silverspoon accomplishing something, we can’t comprehend why, even to the point of asking God if He’s fair or not. Worse than that, we may even question God’s existence because of that!

Allow yours truly to give some things to ponder, if you like to ponder. Let us remember that not all people that are blessed financially accomplish something good. It’s all about good stewardship. He was blessed with finances and other gifts, he just knows how to use it properly. Because of our negative attitude towards “These Lucky Individuals”, we eventually become what we despised the most – boastful, arrogant individuals. Arrogant of our own suffering, like a soldier proud of his battle wounds, rather than acknowledging God or Life’s fairness for giving you the wisdom to work it out at the end of the day.


Amidst all this, God is still fair. There is a purpose why a person is born with a silver spoon, and why another person is born to work hard. Let us give one, somewhat close-to-the-writer’s-heart-reason: there are Mr. Underappreciated Ones and Unappreciated Ones who are also Mr. Silverspoons. Just because we think they’re blessed, they don’t need the comfort. As an effect, that person never receives a simple “hi”. In my opinion, what we see as silver spoon is just life’s way of saying, “you didn’t appreciate the person for who he is, here’s for an equalizer”. Life has an equation indeed. Even if it’s hard to comprehend, God or life (if you loathed God) has been fair to Mr. Working Hands. Because of his hard work, chances are, he gained the respect of the people around him. He may not be that materially blessed, but he commands hard earned respect. God has been fair also to Mr. Working Hands. Because of his adversities, God has given him the wisdom, intelligence, even physical will and strength to accomplish things.


Again, there is a purpose why a person is born with a silver spoon, and why another person is born to work hard. The bottom line is for God to be glorified at the end of the day. The bottom line is for us to see how God’s grace abounds, especially to His people.


Thank you very much.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The "patamaan" complex

When Facebook became popular in the Philippines, it changes the lives not most of Filipino youngsters, but also of the adults. Why not? It's a social networking site. Since man is a social being, even the shiest person can't get enough. In fact, there are some shy people I know who speaks out loud via this site. Friends, relatives, siblings that never saw each other for years were reunited. Thanks to Facebook.







Now, since this is a social networking site, it creates a community. Since it creates a community, it normally follows that societies are formed. However, with growing community comes conflict. Since you can't punch, slap here, the best thing a person can do is to write conflict escalating words. However, in order to avoid charges, a person will just write conflict escalating words that will hit a person. In Tagalog, it's "nagpaparinig" or in the Cavite, "nanghahamit". This phenomena also happens in Christians. Normally, this "patamaan" is common among teenagers, working single professionals, and newly married people.







Now, let me just give the rationale why is this phenomena happen. Facebook is a virtual community. Normally, with community, it follows that society is being made here, or societies. Having said that, it is normal in a society to have conflict (most, if not all, sociology books for beginners have "conflict" as one of the topics). The problem with this kind of community is that you can't grab the person doing the wrong deed due to variables like multiple accounts, account using false names, account is abroad. In other words, Facebook also created people who are cowards and don't have a sense of accountability (I encountered a few like that here). "Patamaan", "parinigan" are two conflict escalating tools.







This was not written to justify these conflict escalating tools, especially if Christians are doing that. In fact, I am totally against it. I find it irresponsible to certain extent to escalate conflict in this site, which you'll deny later on. After all, why avoid the blame when you escalated the conflict in the first place? Instead, the concern is because of this "patama" complex, serious writing and self expression are also suspected as "patama". Every decent blogger/writer wanted to be politically correct. Because of this, the bar for political correctness, in my opinion, is raised significantly to the point that you will not write anymore plainly because you might be accused of making "patama", especially if you're a Christian. Because of this, you are deemed as the argumentative type, or in Tagalog, "palaaway". Now, because of this, the "happy thoughts" and "no negative energy" mantra is injected. It is like we're warped back during the hippie days, only this time the LSD is the "happy thoughts" and "no negative energy". I'm not against happy thoughts and no negative energy by the way. However, to throw away serious writing and opinion writing by putting "happy thoughts" is plain bullish, sarcastic, or just plain bullying. After all, it is never wrong to be a serious, satirical writer, just like it is not wrong to put those "happy thoughts" and "no negative energy" write ups.







Here are just some basic guidelines for every Christians to live when writing:



1. When writing someone's name, make sure you're praising him (Proverbs 3:27)







2. If you have anything against a fellow Christian, don't put it on Facebook. (Matthew 18:15-18)







3. Respect the style of a Christian writer. It may be condescending and tactless at some point, but as long as he or she is not violating any netiquette, and as long as it is the deed not the doer, IT IS NOT CONSIDERED "NANGAAWAY". It is merely his or her writing style. No more, no less.







4. If the statement doesn't mention names (your name in particular) and yet the approach is somewhat "patama", don't feel guilty. If the person is really doing it (the "patama"), let that person rot in hatred or anger. After all, the person doing the deed didn't tell it straight to the point. So, the problem that was supposed to be imputed on his "target person" will become his.







5. If the statement is making "patama", don't be affected if you're not like that.







6. If the statement is conflict escalating, the best tool in this aspect is avoidance. You 'll end up a villain if you become confrontational. Exception to this though is when he already crossed the line between self expression and libel.







7. Avoid being a part of the troop doing or receiving the patama (if it is proven). If a person says that this person is this and that, sympathize, but never join the pack. Troop gathering and being part of the troop will make conflict escalate higher.







8. Written words will mostly hit. The Bible is a perfect example. In Tagalog, "may tatamaan talaga, sadya man o hindi". Hence, when it hit someone, just be responsible and accountable enough to explain or apologize (if needed).











Thank you very much for reading. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dweezel


The aforementioned word is actually the name of my dog. Her breed (Yes. She’s a female dog)? I don’t know…I DON’T CARE. I admit mistaking her for certain breeds. Finally, when I asked the nearby veterinarian, she’s not also certain. This have led me being slightly made fun and ridiculed of by some. Oh well, I am not familiar with dog breeds. Hence, I no longer care, but at least I asked.







Dweezel came to our house in Quezon City because my wife asked me to adopt her. So tiny and her eyes bluish and her paws pinkish (not to mention her white coat), she’s cute. However, I told my then-girlfriend (now wife) that it’s additional work. We already have a dog that I can’t even feed with ease, Kulit. Eventually, I said yes.







I can’t forget how we travel her from my wife’s hometown in Silang to Quezon City and back. For the first time, I go to the veterinary clinic, paid for her shots, including the anti-rabies shot. I admit, my Mom doesn’t want another dog in our house because it’s additional work. However, I insisted. Personally, I learned from Kulit. He (Kulit) is not familiar with me, hence I can’t feed him with ease. This time, if ever I will own a dog, I should see to it that the dog “knows” me and my wife. This is the reason why I personally feed her when housekeeper’s not around, and on occasion, talk to her (my wife also do that sometimes).







I’m not an enthusiastic dog owner. However, it makes me and my wife smile every time neighborhood kids will approach and touch our dog. They find her adorable and friendly.







Whether we admit it or not, our attitude toward owning pet/s and the way we treat them reflect who we are. Some of us will really try owning an expensive breed for one reason or another, and this reflects who we are. There are pet owners who are collectors. They are familiar with breeds, hence they’ll be excited if they heard that a nearby dog is a Siberian Huskies or a Labrador. These types of pet owners are characterized with the collectors. Since pets can be quite messier than collectable objects like cars, motorcycles, etc, this type of pet owners are contented with talking about breeds enthusiastically. They’ll get excited if their breed will be cross bred with another imported breed.







There are pet owners who are quite posh. They’ll own lightweight and small breeds that they can put on a hand bag. They’ll bring them with them on establishments like malls or parks. They buy their pets with cribs, clothes, and the likes. Normally, these types of pet owners are the outgoing, friendly type.







This type of pet owner is the one that I don’t personally like. There are pet owners who own “high end” breed because it’s a reflection of their competitive spirit. However, when left unchecked, this competitive spirit gives them pride, which leads to arrogance. After all, if I can own an expensive or a bit unique (euphemism intended) breed of pet higher than the rest of the people I know, why not? This arrogance also leads them to ridicule another pet owner who doesn’t know a thing. It’s funny to certain extent, but thinking introspectively, how will you feel if you are ridiculed on something that you are not familiar, especially if you are not acting like Mister or Miss Know-it-All?







As for me, despite of her annoyances sometimes, I like my dog Dweezel. I adopted her because I chose to adopt her, regardless of the breed. I am familiar with the shots that she needs to have every year. I know that she likes milk. I know that she’s a meat eater and dog food eater, unlike Kulit who can settle for bread and veggies. Like I said, I and my wife smile when we see neighborhood kids touch her. When she poops in unnecessary places, I have a hesitant feeling to “punish” her (although I eventually do it because it’s part of the training).







I was told (and a bit laughed) by someone that it’s a wrong thinking that the way we treat our pet indicates how shall we treat our future kids. That person said it well. However, I can say with confidence that our attitude why we own a certain pet, and how we treat them and other pet owners, reflect who we are.







Cheers. Happy Monday.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

Happy New Year! As of this writing, 4 days ago, 2012 started. Normally, the articles or the write-ups usually belong to these categories: reflection from the year that passed (which is 2011), New Year’s resolutions, and articles deviating from the aforementioned two categories (to make the article a bit unique). Instead of acting like an audience, please allow me to write one. I don’t know what categories this one will eventually become, but let me assure this: it’s a piece of my mind and, figuratively, heart.




The year 2011 for me is generally a good year for me. Definitely, the best event of my life that year is that I got married. Indeed, it’s really a happy experience to get married to someone that you truly love, and at the date that you and your wife had chosen. Not only that, I saw that both sides (my wife’s side and my side) are happy with us getting married. This is indeed God’s grace because there are married couples whose in laws on each other’s side are not in good terms. My Mom and her mother gave us their full blessing. My immediate relatives went to Silang, Cavite for the pamamanhikan, as a support on my decision. On the other side, my wife’s relatives (20 of them more or less) went to her house to give their support. I was literally speechless. I have seen this marriage as a way of God telling me that He’s been gracious to me even at the times that I felt He’s not.



2011 is also the year that I have seen how God makes things fair on people. I’ll not give the details, but I am witness how He makes things fair from one person and another. This is the reason, why, recently, I began to put articles regarding God’s grace. I admit, in the past, I get easily frustrated because I did something wrong or other people did me wrong. God used His blessings and His justice (or to certain extent, vindication) as a reminder that I should not do things my way. Yes, a Christian must live a good example just like I Timothy 4:12 is saying. However, it should not be my way and effort, but it should be by His grace.




I really thanked God for the memorable 2011. This 2012, may our lives as true believer exemplify God’s grace. Let’s be reminded that everything good in us as believers, it is. Yes, we have chosen it, but God used the Holy Spirit’s leading, the circumstances, and events for us to lead into us being good. Let God’s grace truly flow in our life this year.




Happy New Year. Welcome 2012!