A New Aksyon

Yesterday, TV5’s flagship newscast Aksyon unveiled an updated graphics package and a new theme music, which is an updated version of the one used since its inception in 2010. 

What is noticeable is that PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar is still being used as voiceover when he is in fact already a public official.

Moving along, this change should be a first step in repositioning itself as a worthy alternative to the established newscasts of GMA and ABS-CBN as it first appeared to be seven years ago, until it began losing momentum due to numerous missteps (which is a very long list, an over-exposed news chief is among those). That void is now being filled by CNN Philippines. Add to that is Radyo5 92.3 News FM’s programming issues. 

Despite the MVP Group’s resources, News5 has a long way to go, even if it manages to utilize social media through News5 Everywhere. We can only hope this small change help News5 in regaining the public’s trust. 

How about a “Buwan ng mga Wika”?

Once again we will celebrate the “Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa” which commemorates the decision of the now-Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino to adopt Tagalog as basis for our national language, which will again reignite debates on whether we should keep it as it is or not.

The author of this blog is firm in its position in making fundamental reforms or changes in our official language policy, complementing the shift from a unitary form of government dominated by Manila-based, Tagalog-speaking elites to that of a federal government which reflects the reality that we are a multi-ethnic, multilingual nations and such reform will recognize that diversity.

Filipino has long been seen as merely a variant of the Tagalog language spoken in Metro Manila and its peripheral provinces, or even Tagalog itself just being repackaged as a national language. And because of its prevalent usage in mass media and government, this is being seen as reason why usage of other regional languages are in decline, complicated by the prevailing discrimination among non-Tagalogs, in other words, Imperial Manila. We’re also used in the wrong notion that the non-Tagalog languages (Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Maranao, Tausug, Ilokano, Bikol, etc. etc. ) are mere dialects of the Filipino language. Is it really that so? How are we going to change this?

One of the ways to rectify this is to change the way we celebrate the month. It is time to celebrate the diversity of languages and start calling it Buwan ng mga Wika, or Month of Philippine Languages, as there are 176 languages existing in this country and they are among what makes us Filipino. This only a small way in helping to correct the decades-long injustice created by our existing language policies.

What do we propose other than changing the character of the celebration every August?

  • Establish a Philippine Language Institute, which will act as the common regulator of all the languages in this country which will help in their protection and preservation for future generations, and will also act as a learning institution to help Filipinos in further studies in learning other languages
  • Encourage the use of 3 or more languages, which can be achieved through constitutional provisions and an educational curriculum which will promote multilingualism
  • Promote a multilingual mass media, with newspapers in national circulation and radio and television stations broadcasting in the various languages in the country
  • A provision in the Constitution which establishes all our languages as co-official alongside English and Spanish

And as a bonus, reform Filipino as a language combining all the existing languages in the country, fulfilling what it was supposed to do, which is bridging the islands with a common language with vocabulary from all languages in the Philippines, and not just a mere extension of Tagalog.

With this month, we hope we can help in fulfilling meaningful change in our language policy, rectify long-held misconceptions, and embrace our diversity. Malipayong buwan sa mga Nasudnong Lengua! (A happy Month of National Languages!)

Changing the country’s name? Seriously? 

On the day we celebrated the 119th year of our independence, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano filed a resolution calling for the changing of the official name of the Republic of the Philippines. This is to, according to him, demonstrate our independence from colonial powers. 

Yet, not everyone is receptive with this idea, considering the potential costs, practicality, and the person filing the said resolution.

The person has tried to file an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte barely a year within his 6-year term, and when that was junked by the House Justice Committee, turned to the International Criminal Court along with his colleague and nagger-in-chief Senator, or should I say, President Antonio Trillanes IV. [sarcasm] (according to critics of the said resolution, how will you demonstrate the country’s full independence from colonial powers when you are employing the aid of international institutions to unseat a sitting president when you have exhausted all the legal possible means permitted by our laws i.e. impeachment, unless of course you want to pull off something similar to Oakwood or Manila Pen which seemingly is your only tangible achievement so far and seem to be proud of.)

As for the name change, in case this pushes through, how can you come up of a name acceptable to everybody from the Tagalogs, Ilokanos, Cebuanos, Aetas, Cordillerans, Taugugs, Ivatans, and others, as there was no common identity yet among the peoples of this archipelago, unless of course you want to trigger centuries-old animosity among the different ethnic groups in this country.

And there are more pressing matters to attend to, like infrastructure development, poverty reduction, among others, and for Magdalo, focusing on soldiers’ welfare and strengthening our maritime defences considering your military backgrounds. 

So stop pretending to be principled crusaders of good governance (with your failed coup attempts and nonsense Congressional and Senate hearings) when in fact you’re also a part of the much disguised political elite. 

The name change resolution is just an attempt of yours to remain relevant when in fact you’re not. (The political system in this country in general is a joke. The Magdalo is only a visible part of it. Face it, Trillanes, you’ll never be president.)

The name Philippines has become a very huge and integral part of who we are as a country and embrace it, cherish it for the years to come. 

Debunking hoaxes 

As we monitor Facebook pages and groups dedicated to Philippine television and radio, it is unavoidable that we will encounter hoaxes, such as this one: 

(name of the person withheld as to protect his identity)

First of all, there is no truth to these and will largely be impossible in the real world setting. 

  • Viva is mostly unlikely to return to free TV as it has a strong partnership with the established major networks
  • Any attempt by Sony or Fox International Channels will likely violate existing laws and regulations regarding media ownership unless partnering with a local content provider (which is still highly improbable)

We have refuted this, yet there are still people who are bound to believe this, and posts like these are being shared, sadly, by those kids with special needs with a keen interest in media.

In light of these, there has to be a mutual effort to avoid the spread of hoaxes like these by:

  • Parental guidance: the parents must control those kids’ access to the internet or computers and reminding them of consequences of their actions
  • Vetting of posts for moderators of threads and pages
  • For those on the verge of believing the hoax, remind them these are not true
  • Ask them to stop without resorting to bullying

These are among the solutions we can think of, but this will be a long term effort, an exercise of responsibility in a world cluttered by fake news, toxic debates, among others.

Our Cebu experience

(My screen capture of Metro Cebu skyline from Harolds Hotel’s 12th floor.)

We spent a total of six days in Cebu from May 4-9, and I must say with no second thoughts, Cebu is way better than Manila. The ambiance in Metro Cebu is very much like Metro Manila (where I was born, raised, and where I study), but more orderly, no usok, no kaskaseros. The streets are clean. There’s also traffic, but absolutely no unahan or overtaking typical of a Manila gridlock.

At the same time, I have seen for myself how unequal development is with respect to areas outside of Luzon. For example, it takes four hours from Cebu City to Bogo City in the north (when you can build an expressway when it’s roughly the same distance as Manila and Clark Freeport Zone) and another hour to Bantayan Island by ferry (when you can build a bridge). No matter why people down south always refer to Metro Manila as Imperial Manila.

I have spotted no tricycles unlike in Metro Manila though the use of Grab is prominent, despite relatively near distances (we stayed in Harolds Hotel in Gorordo and Grabbed through La Vie Parisienne, Vibo Place, the Iglesia ni Cristo chapel in Gen. Maxilom), though in some cases distances could be very far like going to SM Seaside Cebu, SM City Cebu, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Which explains why Metro Cebu also needs an LRT system. (I’d prefer a tranvia-like system or subway so as not to destroy the city landscape. And by the way, MCIA is better than NAIA.)

I was not able to see most of the sights in Metro Cebu and going south to Oslob after spending an overnight in Bantayan Island though I was able to see the following:

  • The Taoist Temple in Lahug
  • Fort San Pedro
  • Plaza Independencia
  • Magellan’s Cross

Also some sights which captured my attention:

  • Marcelo Fernan Bridge
  • Maayo Medical in Mandaue City
  • A parked DOST bus in Mandaue City
  • The abandoned Cebu International Convention Center
  • Colon Street
  • SM Seaside Cebu
  • Cebu IT Park
  • and much more

The food selection is also wide. I tried a teriyaki burger over at Patty Pie in SM Seaside Cebu, Jonie’s and Zubuchon in SM City Cebu, and of course Lantaw and 10,000 Roses over at Cordova where you could see a good view of the skyline of Metro Cebu.

While eating at Lantaw, I saw a beautiful girl (there are many in Cebu). I initially wanted to initiate small talk with her but she was with her whole family, so I held back. She was soft spoken but heard her curse loud when what she was eating fell on the ground. I could have practiced Cebuano but I held back. I may not have been able to talk to her but at least I knew my limits. But I’m certain, if I’ll ever marry in the future I’d prefer a Cebuana (the other ethnicities in my list are Kapampangan, Ilocano, Ilonggo, and Bikol).

And oh, I’m already starting to learn Bisaya, after a friend told me that I once I return back to Manila, which I am now doing, hehe. I even bought myself a Visayan dictionary to help me and started practicing my Cebuano, though I’m stil having difficulties and I have to ask some friends what to say and what the person I’m talking to meant. I remember having to ask the hotel staff and salesladies what to respond. I also remember having to ask “naa ba’y wifi diri” (Is there WiFi here?) or “unsa man og password” (What’s the password?) whenever in a public space. Despite having some difficulty I do hope I get fluent in Cebuano (also other Philippine languages as well. It’s not a dialect, okay? Let’s get rid of that Imperial Manila thinking.)

That said, my convictions for federalism and multiculturalism, as well as equal development in this country were strengthened by this experience. I also came to think to myself how Cebu is faring in comparison to Metro Manila, which has become in such a sorry and cancerous state. And now I knew where the Cebuanos are coming from whenever they refer to Imperial Manila. All development is brought to Metro Manila at the expense of the regions and then wondering why overcrowding is such a problem.

I look forward to repeating this experience, returning to Cebu to travel and probably live a life there. I also look forward to visiting more places in this country, study their languages, and to further widen my view. That I can safely say I’m truly for federalism, because if you want it for the country, start with yourself. Learn their languages, explore their places, acquaint with people.

And in my opinion, maybe the Spaniards shouldn’t have moved the capital to Manila and perhaps stayed in Cebu. It’s much more livelier than Manila.

Next stop, Batanes, Davao, Zamboanga, Ilocos, etc.

Daghang salamat kaayo!

On Turkey and Mongolia’s ASEAN bid

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s attendance at the China-initiated One Belt, One Road Forum held in Beijing, he set bilateral meetings with Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenbat and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and something absurd came out: their intention to join the 10-member ASEAN bloc.

We have to put the following into consideration:

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was formed to promote regional unity among the countries of Southeast Asia on the basis of consensus and mutual respect, peace, and common cultural links
  • The bloc has struggled to find a common ground vis-a-vis Chinese activity in the South China Sea, with much of the countries in ASEAN (Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia) among the claimants
  • The Philippines has the chairmanship of ASEAN for the year 2017, and with attention over the country increasing due to Duterte’s brand of populism, intentions to break away from the traditional US alliance, and the publicity coming from the drug war, earning the ire of human rights groups, international organizations, and some Western countries
  • Due to this, at the height of the North Korean crisis, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump seeking advice from us as head of ASEAN over what to do.

With the Philippines’ increasing role in the international sphere, it is imperative that we begin seeking new friends in the region which we can have good economic, cultural, and political relations. To be fair, Turkey and Mongolia can be dialogue partners, as we have with China, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, Russia, India, the United States, among others,  but membership is already out, considering geography (as Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi pointed out) and geopolitics, despite Duterte’s openness to such.  Mongolia can be a good dialogue partner or even an observer, as it is sandwiched between two heavyweights, Russia and China, and has sought to counterbalance relations with both.

As for Turkey, it is dangerous in my opinion. Considering that Turkey has somehow alienated much of its neighbors and allies in their region (the European Union’s bid suspended due to tense relations with countries within the bloc) and Erdogan’s increasing authoritarian tendencies following the failed coup in July 2016 and the April referendum giving him more powers and concerns that Turkey’s founding secular values are at danger. Add to that Turkey’s rumored links with moderate jihadist groups in Syria, this could complicate matters with our efforts at defeating terrorism.

Back at our own neighborhood, another thing raising eyebrows is that it could potentially be put forward even as East Timor’s bid is still pending.

In light of these, we hope sensible heads prevail and Duterte must think before giving this any serious consideration. In the end, this will remain my opinion and it’s up to them to decide.

Life as a Filipino aspie

Lately, I’ve been posing this question to myself: is it really necessary for me to tell people what my “condition” is?  Is it some kind of a curse or should I use it as an asset and take pride in having it? Maybe perhaps in this country we have a stigma when someone has some sort of a mental disorder you could be crazy.

However, I have already accepted who I am and now preparing to take on the challenge to use this to the best of my ability to inspire people like me and show the world that we can do remarkable feats which can make the world a better place.

What exactly is the condition I am having?

I have what you call Asperger syndrome, named after Austrian pediatrician, medical theorist, and medical professor Hans Asperger. This is part of the wider autism spectrum disorder, which means a person having this is not having autism but could be having symptoms of autism. This can be further complicated by similar disorders like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and others, depending on diagnosis. It is also a type of high-functioning autism, where children or adults with this kind could be having potentially high IQ levels and could excel in areas such as mathematics, reading comprehension, or others, depending on the person.

What are its symptoms? How am I coping up with this?

A brief introduction

In 1944, Asperger observed four children with common traits: lack of empathy or understanding what people might feel, physically clumsy, social awkwardness, and lack of nonverbal communication skills. He called these children “little professors” because of their obsessive interest in one particular area. For easier understanding, please refer to the infographic below. These can be mitigated by social skills classes (in groups with kids of similar traits), speech therapy, or occupational therapy.

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Source: pinterest.com

 

On coping up

I was made aware of this since I was around 3 years old. Even with a young age, I’ve had a particular obsession with broadcast media (especially television) and politics which I further developed as I grew up. This is the reason why I chose communication as my course.

Growing up, I’ve had a particular problem with socialization, struggling with the feeling that I have to be left alone or the need of someone to talk to. Coming with that lack of socialization is the exposure to sorts of bullying. I worry a lot that I might be doing something inappropriate or unacceptable to norms or expectations. You may even think we’re angry most of the time because we speak in a monotonous manner.

There’s also this curiosity which compels me to do the most stupid of things, though I try my best to control myself. I also feel that whatever pops to my head, I must share just for the sake of giving myself peace of mind but perhaps I am just making things worse.

I am thankful however because along the way there are friends and family who helped me along the way.

Acceptance

College life has given me the freedom to be myself, although along the way I also learned how to know my limits, which of course an area with problems because I get excited most of the time.

Acceptance is a two-way process. For my part, I already accepted who I was, even my flaws. The only thing I can do is embrace them and use them as tools to better improve myself. For the rest of the world, we need you to accept us. Because of that lingering stigma you may feel you have to do everything in your power to make them “change”, “behave”, make them “normal”. But is that necessary? Based on my experiences, I think not. We do acknowledge we won’t be able to control other people’s feelings, emotions, or what they think about us but this is what made us, us. You don’t have to make us “change”. Just accept us for who we are, and help us cope with the challenges of living in this world. Help us be equipped. When we make “mistakes”, let us be. That’s how we learn, by experience.

May this help each and every single kid or adult with special needs, may this inspire the teachers and parents who shower us with love, acceptance, and affection, and may the world see through our eyes and embrace us into this world. We’re different in our special way.