Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fighting Akrasia post 2013

I have not written in a thousand years, though it’s been only less than thirty years since my mom expelled me from her womb; the rest of the period is just overtime. I have forgotten the rules of grammar, and have acquired a debilitating paranoia. I blame the people surrounding me at times, but I blame myself most of the times.

I am jobless. This is primarily by choice, and not by chance. There are times, however, when I would think that this is essentially by chance so as to avoid blaming myself. But no, I made a choice to be far from metro. And everything that follows from that choice is just a necessary, although sometimes undesirable, consequence. I cannot blame my folks for wanting me to stay in the province after the grueling experience. After all, I was here when I was fighting the battle. And it is just logical for them to assume that I am here to stay.

Had I asked to go back to metro, would I be permitted? The thing is, I do not know. I could not say I was not even given the chance to ask because I did not even try. And now the result is – a soup.

Yes, a soup; but I’m not referring to the healthy one which could function as a substitute for one’s regular meals. The soup that I have lacks veggies or protein. It is plain liquid. It does have some unfathomable ingredients though; but as stated, they’re unfathomable. In addition, they are inexplicable. So that even though the desire to express through blogging is there, the motivation is inexistent. Or that even if the desire to sift through the intricate pattern of emotions is present, the only activity my physical body could do is to enjoy a siesta.

And that’s where the paradox begins. The strength has been overshadowed by fear. The willpower, by daydreaming. Nevertheless, I am still the “me” who desired excellence, whatever that is. And in my current-but-not-so-obvious pursuit of aretĂ©, I need to be a Magellan. Otherwise, the King of Spain will not bless my expedition.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Behind Bars*

The term “bilibid” has a negative connotation. Ordinarily, people would think of it as a nasty place where brutish individuals are confined. The bars serve as a big wall that separates the prisoners from the rest of the world. This wall does not only create a physical separation; it also creates a metaphysical separation – a separation wherein people behind bars try to change their lives so that the rest of the society would accept them as renewed individuals, while people outside prison would look at the prisoners as “bad people” who have no hope of changing for the good. The bars, therefore, signify the limitation of freedom, not only of the prisoners, but also of others as their thinking is limited by certain prejudices.

The trip to “bilibid” is an eye-opener. It makes me feel privileged and chained at the same time. I consider myself as privileged for not being in prison and for not being subjected to a situation wherein I would resort to the commission of crimes. I am blessed for being able to obtain good education, which qualifies me to obtain a good-paying job. Hence, the thought of violating the law would not come to me as an option just to earn instant money. I am also blessed that the Supreme Being gave me a family which embraces morality; hence, I was not exposed to a community that resorts to crimes as means of living. I am privileged because I am not being locked up in a place away from the people I love.

However, I am also chained. I am chained by my view that I am lucky – because I am not. I may be an educated person, but I am not educated as to prisoners’ lives and quest for a new life. I am chained by the view that the prisoners are there merely to serve their punishments and to be isolated from the rest of the society. It never occurred to me that they are there to be reformed. Prison, for me, is a means used to bring justice – to punish one ought to be punished. This view of justice is, however, one-sided. This sense of justice is only for the injured party; but not for the prisoner. To bring justice to the prisoner, he has to be treated as human, not as a mere property who would be locked up for the injured party’s satisfaction. A prisoner must be looked at as a human being who errs but changes if given the chance to. He has to be given with the opportunities necessary to live a new life.

The trip to bilibid made me realize that I had prejudged the prisoners. The sad thing, however, is that one trip is not enough for me to fully understand the life of a prisoner. I am not even sure whether it is enough to free me from chains of prejudices. It made me realize a lot of things. It gave me awareness as to a big problem of our society – the discriminatory nature of the rest of the world towards prisoners. But awareness is not enough to effect changes. Awareness is not enough to solve the big problem. There has to be a conscious action on my part to be of help in solving this problem of ours.

In “Veronica decides to die,” a novel by Paolo Coelho, there are those who preferred to stay in a mental institution even though they are not mentally ill. Their argument is that they can become their true selves in the institution. They do not have to fit in with the standards the outside world created. This might also become the problem of the persons behind bars. In prison, they are given attention that they need. They are considered special. Their talents, intelligence and good conduct are being recognized. Hence, they can evince the good side of them. When they leave the prison and face the outside world, they will be faced with discrimination. People who do not know what they’ve been through would think of them as mere convicts who do not deserve to be given jobs. This might result to a sad possibility that ex-convicts resort to committing crimes so that they will be able to earn money; or to another sad possibility that they commit crimes so that they will be sent back to Bilibid where they are given appreciation.

Education is one key to obliterate the discriminatory nature of people towards prisoners. People have to be informed of the lives of prisoners behind bars. Once educated, there has to be a collective action on the part of the people to help the prisoners. This might be through creation of livelihood programs for the ex-convicts; or drafting of a law that would establish schools in prisons, or a law that would be beneficial to ex-convicts. Unless the society is given proper education as to this problem, we are behind bars. And if we do not act now to solve this problem, we will remain in chains.   

* One of the reflection papers I made as part of my internship in the OSG (Summer, 2011).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Boredom on a Supposedly Busy Sunday

It is Sunday today.
I planned to wake up early and do some no-nonsense stuff. Contrary to what was planned, I woke up late and indulged myself into some mundane activities. So I grabbed some books and went to a mall because I finally decided to end mediocrity.
The plan was to have a signature hot chocolate in Starbucks while studying tax law. I headed first to the National Bookstore to buy something which I might find useful – a pen, a paper, or a book. I bought none. I realized that I already have a lot of pens of various colors, and a large supply of scratch papers to write on. I bought no book for lack of courage to spend more than a hundred pesos in the bookstore.
So I left the bookstore and went to Starbucks. Having seen a lot of people, I left. I did not find the place conducive for studying. I then thought of studying in Hollys CafĂ© near the dormitory. But while leaving the mall, I found myself uninterested in spending my next few hours studying. I need some inspiration to study, I told myself. I thought of watching a movie, but I did not find the movies in the cinema interesting. Then the thought of blogging came to my mind. What should I write? I didn't know. It’s not like I’ll be writing for Young Blood or some famous paper. I’ll be writing just for this blog, which is not as popular as other blogs (I actually don’t know whether I have readers other than me [lol]).
Instead of proceeding to Hollys, therefore, I went to my dorm and turned on my pink laptop (yes, it’s pink). I wanted to switch on the tv, but nah, I didn’t. Focus, I said. I had a theory that if I would focus on this, I’d have the requisite momentum to study. I hope that’s true. But whether or not the theory is true would only be learned after publishing this entry (hence, I cannot write about the truthfulness of such theory as of this moment).
When I started writing, however, I realized one thing – I have lots of things to do. So I asked - Why am I looking for other things to do when I have my own duties to perform? Why is my mind flying whenever I try to focus on studying? Why am I experiencing boredom when I had lots of academic stuffs to work on? Here are my suspects:
Overstudying. The schedule and the system in my school encourage the student to overstudy. The night classes push the students to devote the entire day preparing for the class in the evening. Professors’ style of demanding memorization on the part of the students seems to me as too barbaric. We are forced into saving the laws into our brains without loving them. We are encouraged to parrot them. I think that some of the means I use in studying are unnecessary. And I am bored in doing them over and over again simply because I have to play the game.
Grades. The game here is survival. It’s not about pursuing excellence; it’s pursuing the requisite qpi. Students are slowly becoming monsters – high-grades-seekers. They tend to please the professor (who, by the way, are not gods; they’re FALLIBLE!) not their own standard of excellence. But why don’t they understand that grades do not measure the potentials as well as the actual knowledge and skills of the students? Grades merely reflect the views of the professors who do not really know the students. These professors have not seen the students talk outside the classroom and analyze the laws. They just grade them based on limited activities performed in classrooms. The grading system fallaciously quantifies the quality of the students’ learning. But then again, that’s the game that everyone has to play. And such game bores me to death.
Passion. I am very passionate about the study of law. That’s why I hate parroting and abhor grading system. Why don’t we just focus on the law? Why don’t we talk about it not as players in Survivor but as future officers of the court? Yes, I am pursuing law; but I seriously think that I used my brain more back when I was in college. Back then, I was free to think. Now, my freedom is limited to embracing the imposed rules. Back then, I was passionate about pursuing excellence. Now, I am being compelled to be passionate about surviving.
Authority. Whoever has the authority is correct even though he is not. Are we then supposed to blindly follow the truth as told by the person in authority?
It is Sunday today. But I have to study. That’s what should be done to play the game.
        

Monday, December 5, 2011

one step at a time

One year. Eight months. I don’t know. My mind is so busy or at least pretending to be so busy that I cannot even tell how long my break from writing was. All I know is that my mornings and evenings are the same. I would wake up every morning and think about one thing – law. Then in the evening, before I sleep, I likewise think of one thing – law. In fact, my mental states in my mornings and evenings are only an ounce different from my mental state in the period between them. It sounds boring, I know; but I would lie if I say that it’s not the case, because it is. So here I am, staring at a pirated MS Word 2010, which I downloaded from the internet because I hate MS Works, armed with nonsense thoughts, which are not worthy of anyone’s attention. With my hands that have been recently victimized by paper-cuts, I am about to write these silly views, which, up to now, are yet organized in the overused brain of mine.

Let me start with “law.” It’s not that I want to make it a topic here; but I want to start with it so as to make it clear that this piece of writing (essay, entry, whatever this is) is not about law. It has been the center of my attention. Now that I am having a lucid interval (from a state of insanity, i.e. a state devoted to law), I am excluding law as a topic. There is more to my life than just being a law student.

The question is, what comprises this “more” in my life? I wish I could speak of an inspiration or something to that effect. But the first thing that came to my mind after thinking of the word “inspiration” is “my dream.” This is an instance wherein the goal and the inspiration (which is supposed to be a mere means to an end) are the same. If you say that this kind of life I am living is boring, then I am telling you right now that you are a hundred percent correct. Perhaps a redefinition, or at least a redescription (a word not recognized by my pirated MS Word because I just invented it seconds ago) of the term “inspiration” in my personal dictionary is necessary. And after such new definition or new description, might be a finding for a new inspiration. Or maybe not. Because the traditional me tends to say that “inspirations are not meant to be found; they’re meant to find you.”

Inspirations, as I see (or saw) them, are akin to what my Ancient Philosophy professor used to talk about. They are akin to “the Sun” – that which cannot be denied. For some unknown reasons, I still tend to think that this “Sun” exists – such that I would not deny it once I knew it. Perhaps hopeless romanticism could be blamed for this longing for the Sun. And even though I could conceptually think of a possibility that the “Sun” is inexistent, to believe or not to believe in such stance is like a battle between Utilitarian ethics and Kantian ethics. Worse, it could be a battle between a stallion and a unicorn. While I am still in the state of lucid interval, teach me (I am addressing this to you, whoever you are) the way out of the ivory tower.

I am not some Rapunzel who needs to be rescued from a tower, nor a sleeping beauty who has to be awakened from some slumber. And I am most certainly not praying for some knight in shining armor who would appear before me and promise me a happily ever after. I am not looking for an inspiration, which is synonymous with hassle-free love-life. I am looking for the red in ROYGBIV, and hoping for some blue moon. I am still wishing for the possibility that there exists the “such-that-you-cannot-deny-it-thing” otherwise known as the “Sun.” But if that can’t be the case, a bonfire would do. It’s not that I’d be contented with mediocrity; it’s just that I should learn to recognize certain boundaries.

Whoever you are, are you still reading? Have I bored you? Yes? No? The fact is, I don’t care. Because I’m not writing this for you. I’m writing this for me. But maybe someday, if not tomorrow, I’ll write for you, leave the ivory tower, and abandon some (just some) of my unorthodox views. By doing such, I hope I could have eudaimonia, one step at a time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

defying gravity

In order to preserve order, people create rules. In order to ensure the implementation of rules, people create authority. But the people who are considered successful now are those who know how to, and are not afraid to, defy rules and authorities. And the fact that these people resorted to unorthodox actions does not make them wrong, at least from the moral perspective. It is just that these people understand that humans, as well as the institutions that they created, are susceptible to errors.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

bluffing game

This is one of my favorite games in college:


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wanted: Philosopher

I started to dream of becoming a lawyer at the age of seven. I was in grade two and my mom wrote the name of my grandfather in a small envelope to be given to the church for "prayers for the dead." I was amazed with the combination of letters written before the first name of my grandfather - ATTY. It was then that I realized that I want to have that same title. Without knowing what lawyers actually do, I told myself that I'm going to be a great lawyer... and own hectares of land, luxurious house, luxurious car, and big bucks. I used to say "Gusto kong ipagtanggol ang mga naaapi" - as if I'm a sort of a superwoman. This statement remained, however, meaningless to me.

Years passed and I still had the same dream. I had a penchant for the architecture, but I never thought of becoming an architect. I knew back then that the want for something does not necessitate the pursuit of it, especially when the desire for a title (i.e. "atty.") was of higher importance. To cure the longing that I have for the arts, particularly for drawing, I took Drafting classes in high school. My classmates were those who were thinking of a career in the field of architecture, engineering, interior design, and fine arts. I, on the other hand, was thinking of a career in law. Drafting classes for me were just means to pursue a passion I thought would die down as the pursuit of title begins.

In my second year in high school, I began to fall in love with science. Because I was then taking Biology subject, I then thought of becoming a biologist who would specialize in Genetics. In third year, the love for Chemistry superseded the love for Biology. I then decided that I would study Chemical Engineering in college. This love that I had for science is simultaneous with my love for computers. Back then, I represented the school in different competitions concerning computers. What I love about computers is the fact that I could use them to express my passion for the multimedia arts. When the software Flash was still unknown to many (about 2000 / 2001), I used the same in creating movies, cartoons, and even presentations for school reports.

For some reasons I did not know though, I still wanted to become a lawyer. Hence, when I took the UPCAT in August of 2002, I made the following choice of campuses and courses - First choice of Campus: UPLB, Courses: BS Chemical Engineering, and BA Philosophy; Second Choice of Campus: UP Baguio, Courses: BS Biology, and BS Computer Science. Too bad the UPCAT was held in August when the school year had just begun. Had it been held some time in January, I would have considered BS Applied Physics because I also fell in love with Physics in my fourth year in high school. The UPCAT results were released in February. I made it to my first choice of campus, with the course BA Philosophy. "Great," I said. "I'm going to be a lawyer." But the only thing that I knew about Philosophy back then was that it is a good pre-law course, it being my cousin's pre-law course.

Then came college, the happiest stage in my student life. For the first few months, I considered Philosophy merely as a means to an end - a law degree. Then I realized its utility. But this sort of utility is not the same as what other courses would bring. Philosophy will not bring you money. It will try to answer your questions, but it will not provide certain answers to your queries. In most cases, the questions will be answered with more questions. The lack of apparent utility in Philosophy makes one think of its futility. Hence, the problem with the philosophy program not only in UPLB, but in other schools as well.


The reason why I loved or love so many disciplines might be because I love Philosophy even during the time when I did not know what Philosophy is. I love knowledge. I love learning. I love wisdom.

I am into the growth of the mind, and I never want to believe in something just because somebody or some authority tells me so. I know that this field does not guaranty a high-paying job someday, but it made me realize that there is a lot more to this world than the mundane joy that we experience. It made me realize that there is more to the study of law than mere statutory provisions; that there is more to lawyering than just obtaining title or monetary benefits. It made me realize the importance of critical thinking in every aspect of our lives. It made me realize that there is more to me than just being me - that I could be a better me.

The love for Philosophy does not necessitate being an armchair philosopher or armchair academician. Anyone may do philosophy. But then again, it will not give you money.