screw the status quo. we need change and we need it now. we need not a leader who plays with words and public funds. we need not a leader whose years of service fall under the 'fiction' category. we definitely need not a leader who knows nothing. we require a leader who has conviction, who has the guts to change the seemingly unchangeable. we need... to prepare for 2007. Now.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Buzz

I haven't taught about it much in the past, but now I think I want to give it a serious thought. Maybe I should have a cable subscription. The thing is, I don't really get to watch TV that much. I leave home early and arrive late, just in time for the 11 p.m. news, and those TV documentaries (which surprisingly remains engaging). But last week I went home early, bored and alone, what else is left to do but to see whats on TV? One particular show caught my attention. Star Circle Quest hosted by Lucky Manzano and that girl.... I forgot her name (help please!). First off, I didn't realize that they were already at it with another season. Which could only mean one thing, the last season was a success. Second thing I noticed was that, one of the contestants happened to come from the same town/province where my family lives (Naga City). So anyway for the sake of my curiosity, I watched the show.

According to a study conducted, almost 75 percent of Filipinos are star struck. Meaning, in one way or the other we all want to have our shot at showbiz. We all, in one way or the other, want to be in front of the camera even for that precious 15 minutes of fame. More than that, it was also said in that study that pinoys make showbiz a part of their daily lives, that they tend to take it so seriously. Even to the point where they no longer discern what is fiction or what is fact. Of course it all makes sense, some 7 year old girls when asked what they want to become in life when they grow up, answer that they want to become a sexbomb dancer, or a Viva hot babe. There was also a time when actress Princess Punzalan, was hit with an umbrella by an old woman, because of her villainous character in a local soap opera. Most of all, if Ronald Allan Poe, and his alter ego "Panday", were separated and were to compete each other for the presidency. I assure you Ronald Allan Poe wouldn't stand a chance, against a character that the masses loved.

Personally, I do not see anything wrong with someone pursuing his/her dreams of making it big at showbiz. However in the Philippine scenario, it is being debated whether showbiz is better than education. In my humble opinion, there is no debate on this, simply because there is never a substitute for education. Seeing that show I' m talking about, and realizing what these aspirants are willing to go trough just to get a shot at showbiz, I got to see the bigger picture of how bad the problem is. For one thing, it is technical skills that build this country, and some of us don't seem to realize that. A formal education gives us this technical skills. Shows like this seemingly give a false message to our youth, that it is OK to sacrifice education for showbiz. You don't believe me? OK then, can someone explain to me why reality shows like star circle quest is being aired at this time of the year, when the school year has not yet ended?

Shouldn't our youth prioritize education, because sure as hell we need people with skills to build this country. I mean if you want to improve health care services you would want a well educated doctor, if you want a better justice system, you would want an educated lawyer, if you want to create more jobs you would want a well educated entrepreneur etc. I also wanted to question the parents of these aspirants. I sure hope that they did not, in anyway, make their children drop out of school, so that they could join a contest in which does not even guarantee a future at showbiz. On the other hand can we really blame them for choosing a shot at money and fame rather than education? The standard of living in this country is just so low, that you would want to try anything to alleviate it. Besides, a lot of fresh graduates can hardly find a job.

Going back to the show. The show had three annoying quest jurors. A director, a former beauty queen, and a talk show host. For those of you whose IQ is still in double figures, you should realize that all the activities, exercises, or even the criticism, has little relevance into transforming someone into a performer. Ok hows this? In one of the activities, the aspirants were required to beg for spare change from anyone they see on the street. According to the hosts this is supposed to be a test of confidence since every performer needs one. One of the aspirants failed to overcome his shyness, being a Davaoenio he felt awkward acting like a beggar in front of manilenios. Then Boy Abunda Goes, "Para sakin, ang dahilan mo ay isang katarantaduhan, bakit ka pa namin pinili mahiyain ka pala". Give me a break! I think before he talks about "katarantaduhan", he should first straighten out his understanding of what confidence is. The confidence of a good performer, and a jackass begging for money so that their show will pull up ratings is different. I may have the confidence to perform in front of an audience, but it does not mean I will also be as confident asking a stranger on the street for a spare change. Ten bucks and a pizza says Boy Abunda would never beg for a change in Luneta even if it meant loosing his Job! Try also comments like "nakakasawa at nakakaumay na kayo". Damn it! can't they be more technical? After all if something qualifies them to pass judgment, then it should be technical expertise right?

But of course the bottom line of all of these is getting the ratings. The audience loves freak shows, which is why shows like this are obliged to turn this aspirants into freaks. Insulting them, embarrassing them, and maybe even exploiting them. Anything that the audience will keep wanting more. Otherwise Dolce and Gabbana would not even bother to sponsor Boys Abundas ass! This is not really about talent, its about popularity. Because a lot of people in this industry are popular yet they don't have a thing called talent (the Viva Hot Babes for example).

The lucky few who will get a shot at showbiz, what would then happen to them? Expect gossips to test their patience every once in a while. Expect that they would be occasionally be ridiculed once in a while, expect also that every aspect of their life will be scrutinized for the sake of public entertainment. Shows like the buzz are expert at doing just that. And when there is nothing more to ridicule about you? You no longer become popular.

There is a difference between fame and popularity. Al Pacino is famous, Micheal Jordan is famous, Ninoy Aquino is famous. Long after they are gone in the endeavors that made them great, people will still remember and admire them. Popularity on the other hand is never forever. Long after new faces comes, long after you don't sell movie tickets anymore, long after producers pay attention to you. No one will remember or admire you.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

General Problem

Over 20 years of fighting rebel insurgents, yet until now we are not free from the fear of terrorism. To this day they remain armed, dangerous, and very angry people. Although I support some of their causes I never did support their means to an end. But that is not the question we need to answer. The question that we need to answer is that how is it that the one of the branches of government that gets the lion share of our budget, failed to suppress insurgency after all this years? Come on! Isn't the AFP more technologically superior than the insurgents? And how is it that even the smallest rebel group, known as the Abu Sayaff, remains a major threat to national security to this day?

You know, I am one of those who believes that war often does not end anything. The real casualties here are us. We create more damage than we make repairs. Bottom line is war is expensive. Good thing that our officers have expensive tastes.

When Gen. Edilberto Adan said that only 1% of the AFP officers are corrupt, I somehow wished that I watched another bad episode of jackass, rather than hear this bullish!t on the 11 p.m. news. This is not the first time that AFP has been under fire because of corruption. Allegations of corruption have existed ever since the MNLF problem during the martial law. I agree to that colonel interviewed in that ABS-CBN documentary, when he said its actually a tradition. He himself admitted that he involved himself in these corrupt practices when he realized that he could not go against the system. If Everybody has the knowledge of how it happens, then it is also possible that they know who makes it happen. After all, where there is smoke there is fire, and I'm telling you this is one hell of a smoke.

The victims of this corrupt practices are the very soldiers that we sent in front of the battle field. Just Imagine enduring the thick canopies of the forest, the early morning moisture, the weight of your ammunition, and not to mention the 60 pesos per day meal budget. While our generals enjoy luxury at their 100 million peso mansion, our loyal and brave soldiers could not even get a descent housing loan. While Generals use helicopters for their private means of transportation, many wounded soldiers die in the battlefield because no helicopter was available to conduct a rescue operation. While outgoing AFP chiefs will enjoy retirement benefits, and most probably a cabinet position, many of our amputated, blinded, and even dead soldiers and their family are having difficulty of receiving the benefits that they rightfully deserve. While a general can afford to have six sports utility vehicles, low ranking soldiers could not even rely on their combat boots to get where they are going.

I do not know how is it that AFP can afford to be so blind about what the real situation is. They get the lion share of the bugdet, but how much of that is really used to benefit our poor soldiers? How much of that is being used at least to assure that our soldiers have everything they need out there to survive? Whats worse, is that, the supplier of ammunition to the enemy is sometimes (or many times) the AFP itself. Ironic isn't it? being killed by the same ammunition you are supposed to use against the enemy.These are only some of the things that was told to me by some of the soldiers I know here in U.P.

But I wonder, these young officers, how long could they remain idealistic. How long before the system corrupts them when they rise above the ranks. Come to think of it, they are our only hope. Will they be like that Colonel interviewed on TV, seemingly proud of how he was helpless when the system corrupted him. Most of our officers are PMA graduates, and we are all aware how the concept of honesty and integrity becomes part of their breakfast. In fact cadets are so honest, that they take an exam inside the classroom, where the answers are written in the blackboard. But what happens to them when they go to the real world?

Now AFP generals are pissed off with congress. Saying that these allegations of corruption is demoralizing our soldier. They even threaten us of another coup attempt. Actually our soldiers were already demoralized even before these issues came up. They were demoralized by the same leaders that betrayed them. While they die for their country, their officers abandoned them, enjoying wealth and power they unjustly acquired.

I did not, nor will I support any coup attempt. Although I support some of their grievances, I am also afraid of what might happen to the country as a result of this. I hope something happens with all this investigation, because in the end it is the country that will suffer once more for this. Like I said, I never really liked the Idea of spending so much for warfare. Warfare is expensive, good thing our generals have expensive tastes. -Ahmad