Category Archives: Reflections

Top 5 Reasons Why You Must Teach Your Children Filipino

Okay, so after all these years, I’ve really had it with Filipinos who don’t know how to speak in Filipino. As Philippines celebrates Independence Day, and with more Filipino kids not even capable of understanding or speaking in Filipino, I think it is high time to make a case for our mother tongue.

A Parent-Inflicted Child Disability?

Well, we’re not talking about a disease but, a crippled sense of culture. No, we’re not even going to talk about their sense of history (not yet, anyway but, I will soon), we’re just going to tackle more about children whose parents don’t teach them how to speak in Filipino. I don’t mean to be critical of how these moms and dads are raising their kids but, it has become very disturbing why these kids, being raised by Filipino parents, living in the Philippines, and attending regular Philippine schools are only being taught English.

Where my children attend school, kids like my son who know, live and breathe Filipino, are already finding the fact that majority of their classmates cannot even understand the language, absurd.  A friend of mine who teaches in the same school has also been complaining about their students who are making their profession doubly hard by parents who aren’t teaching their children Filipino.

As I wonder why these parents put their children in such an awful situation, I can only think of 5 reasons why every Filipino child “needs” to learn to speak and understand Filipino:


Reason No. 1: They live in the Philippines.  In case you missed, Filipino is the national language. If you’ve been to southern provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao or, have been colleagues with people who were raised in these areas, they would sometimes even hesitate to converse with you in Filipino because of the regional accent. They probably wouldn’t talk to your son or daughter who only speaks in English, although they will perfectly understand what he or she is saying.

In short, you are gravely depriving your children of the opportunity to connect, socialize, and collaborate with his or her own countrymen.

Reason No. 2: Filipino is part of the educational system. There is, in fact, a compulsory subject in school which is “Filipino”.  Your child is guaranteed to fail it if he or she hasn’t been taught how to speak and understand the language.

My son who is in Intermediate School tells me that some of his classmates don’t even know what the meaning of very common words like, “paaralan (school)” or “tumatakbo (running)” is. He says, “kawawa naman (how pitiful)”.  Whenever they have drills or exams, the teacher has to translate every word to these children every time.  Indeed, it is a pitiful situation, isn’t it? Besides, children who perfectly understand Filipino have to put up with the burden of spending more than enough time on one topic to accommodate their classmate’s “parent-inflicted disability”.

Reason No. 3: It’s best that they are capable of communicating in both Filipino and English. Our culture has very deep links with the English language. Even today, older people who were taught in the American system of education back in the days when American soldiers and missionaries taught in public schools would beat a college student when speaking in English.

Too much Tagalog is not the reason why our English is of a poorer quality now than it was about two or three generations ago. Still, we are the Number 1 destination for voice-based back office operations (including call centers) because we are very adaptable when it comes to learning, not only English, but also other foreign languages in general. Those people who are thriving in the industry grew up in an educational system that had both Filipino and English in the curriculum — they didn’t have to be taught English exclusively since birth to speak the language well.

Reason No. 4: Filipino is a uniquely beautiful language. If you know your history well, you must know that Filipino (once called, “Tagalog”) is a hodgepodge of many local dialects and foreign languages woven into a meaningful system of communication. It has a unique brand where not every word can find a proper English equivalent.

To this day, we still use words with origins that can be traced back to the Sanskrit, Chinese, Bahasa, Español, and, yes, even English. If there is “American English” and “British English”, we have “Taglish (Tagalog and English)” which, more and more people, even our institutions, including the media, have learned to embrace over the years.

The regional dialects are just as beautiful. If you have the chance to teach your children Ilocano, Visayan, Chavacano or, something else, you should. People appreciate it when you take time and exert effort to learn to converse in their dialect. Your child will be able to more easily connect with others.

Reason No. 5: Your child is Filipino. Don’t you want him or her to love and appreciate our Filipino heritage? Even my relatives who grew up in the US and friends with Filipino parents who grew up elsewhere understand Filipino, most of them can even engage in ordinary day-to-day conversations in Filipino. It will be a shame for your children not to know how to speak it most especially when you are raising them in the Philippines.

Our Filipino language is alive and continues to evolve. As Filipinos, it is our responsibility to keep our heritage alive. Part of that responsibility is to make sure that we enrich our national language and make sure it develops further. It is one of the most important links that connects us to each other, and, as parents, it is our responsibility to our country to make sure that our children treasure it as well.

If you are raising your children to embrace Filipino as their own, Hooray! Otherwise, I hope you give it another thought. It’s not too late for them to learn.

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What makes you happy?

His Holiness The Dalai Lama and American Psychiatrist Howard C. Cutler wrote “The Art of Happiness” in 1998. Cutler wrote about the central message of The Dalai Lama’s teachings about happiness that, “happiness is possible—in fact, we can train in happiness in much the same way that we train in any other skill”. That makes happiness a choice.

Another central theme of this piece of writing is that compassion leads to happiness.  In the words of Cutler, “There is an inextricable link between one’s personal happiness and kindness, compassion, and caring for others. And this is a two-way street: increased happiness leads to greater compassion, and increased compassion leads to greater happiness.”

Money, spending and happiness

Many of us who toil away our days — noses on our computer screens and leaving barely enough for sleep — tend to think that money will take away our miseries. In many ways it will because more income means being able to buy more things that make life convenient, including better healthcare coverage.  However, in the long run, happiness plateaus even with money literally piling up on your desk.

According to two studies headed by Elizabeth Dunn, how you spend your money, and not how much you have, ultimately determines how happy you will be.

In one study, Dunn and her team sampled Americans and asked how each were spending on four categories: bills and expenses, gifts for themselves, gifts for others, and charitable donations.  Those who spent more on the latter two, which were used to measure “prosocial spending”, were found to be happier. There was no relationship observed between happiness and the first two spending categories.

In an extensive review of literature available on these subjects, Dunn and her team advised that consumers must:

(1) buy more experiences and fewer material goods

(2) use their money to benefit others rather than themselves

(3) buy many small pleasures rather than fewer large ones

(4) eschew extended warranties and other forms of overpriced insurance

(5) delay consumption

(6) consider how peripheral features of their purchases may affect their day-to-day lives

(7) beware of comparison shopping

(8) pay close attention to the happiness of others

Happiness and aging

Robert Waldinger of the Harvard University reported on a study on health and aging that took 75 years to complete.  The study included 237 college students and 332 youth from the inner city Boston area. He and his team followed their lives until most have died, measuring factors pertaining to physical and mental health, financial standing, psychological wellness, life satisfaction, and social relationships. These factors were repeatedly measured over the years. Their partners were also included in the study.

Below, are two major study findings:

1. Those who were more sociable and were able to build intimate, close-knit personal relationships with family, friends and people in their communities lived longer and happier compared to those who were introverted.

2. Those who had fulfilling intimate relationships, most especially pertaining to happy marriages, were happier and healthier throughout their lives.

Are you happy?

It sounds like it’s as simple as taking a few minutes of personal reflection for you to be able to answer, doesn’t it?  However, it can be complicated for many who live complicated lives.  Perhaps, that’s where happiness takes a beating, and perhaps that’s where you can start.  How can you simplify your life? It’s good to think about your future but, how about thinking about your “now”?

References:

BSTAN-ʼDZIN-RGYA-MTSHO, & Cutler, H. C. (1998). The art of happiness: a handbook for living. New York, Riverhead Books.

Dunn, Elizabeth, et.al. “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right” Link: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/danielgilbert/files/if-money-doesnt-make-you-happy.nov-12-20101.pdf Accessed on: 20 Mar 2017

Dunn, Elizabeth, et.al. (2008). “Spending money on others promotes happiness.” Link: http://ggsc-web02.ist.berkeley.edu/images/application_uploads/norton-spendingmoney.pdf  Accessed on: 20 Mar 2017

Waldinger, Robert (2015).  “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness” Study was first published in the Journal of American Psychiatry Association. Link:  https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness  Accessed on: 20 Mar 2017

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Our luck in The Year of the Fire Rooster

I can’t trace any Chinese roots from either my mom’s or dad’s side but, just like any other ordinary Filipino come the Lunar or Chinese New Year, I grew up to tikoys and hopias and mooncakes. Once in my career, I worked in Binondo where Chinese gastronomic treats knows no end, and that entire place magically transforms around this time of year too. So, Chinese New Year celebration does hold a special place in my heart.

You lucky animal!

Rather than contenting myself reading about my luck, I thought I’d let, you, my dear readers, know what’s being said about the luck of our animal signs here. I am no psychic! These are based on the most consistent (different people say different things, you know) predictions that I can find on the web, which means I already dropped most of the nonsense.

This is your luck running between January 28, 2017 and February 15, 2018:

Rat. You should be able to overcome challenges this year with a breeze with the help of people in your personal circles. Your luck is in excellent shape in all aspects pointing to your relationships. Work luck is trickier and requires you to be able to quickly spot growth opportunities and act on it swiftly.

Ox. You have variable luck in all aspects this year. Your natural tendency to make people judgments will have to be tamed for trust to be built, which entails asking people for help. Otherwise, stress will take over your high energy and wear you down. More work responsibilities and possible promotions can be expected. However, since you will be focusing a lot of time on your work and in growing your savings, this will not be a good year to be starting a new relationship, most especially to be getting married.

Tiger. Employment opportunities and growth prospects are in the horizon but, you will have to prove your worth, sense of responsibility and loyalty, most especially to people above you. You will be driven to pursue stability in both your finances and your relationships this year. Take care not to make decisions based on prevailing emotions. Use your head and intuition.

Rabbit. You will be up and about throughout the year. Earning opportunities will be plenty but you will have to put in more time and energy. Stressful situations at work, including additional workload, are likely. Extraordinary wants will make you spend more than usual. You must take care not to take too much time away from your family and friends. Spending more time with them will benefit your own health and well-being.

Dragon. Your natural persistence and headstrong approach to challenges will help you earn wealth this year. You have to be more creative with managing your finances though to be rewarded. Whether you are in a relationship or not, your prospects of falling in love and rekindling your relationship with your partner are likely to happen this year. Volunteering for non-profits or community work should be a good preoccupation for you this year too.

Snake. Opportunities to earn will be abundant but the zeal to pursue opportunities will not be very strong. You need to overcome procrastination and laziness to be able to take advantage of such opportunities. There will be plenty of social gatherings and travel throughout the year and you can make use of extra cash earned from additional sources of income so as not to drain your bank account.

Horse. You will have plenty of opportunities to grow at work this year or, if you decide to change jobs, there is a good opportunity to land a better one. So, it’s a good year for change. More vacations and travel are also in the horizon. However, you may have to learn to better manage your finances.

Sheep. Opportunities are lined up for you this year: promotion, recognition, pay raise, travel and even a new home. None of these will be yours without hardwork. You will be refreshed but also unusually stressed throughout the year. Health risks, therefore, are high. Try to maintain your budget as extraordinary expenses are also likely to drain your finances. Good times with loved ones await so make sure to make time in your busy schedule to be with them.

Monkey. You will have a more steady, significantly easier time this year compared to the last. Whereas in 2016, you stretched yourself at work and reaped little reward, this year, hard work will be better rewarded. Luck in terms of people helping you, you keeping a good reputation at work and having more opportunities to socialize with others this year will help bring you more opportunities for career growth and even a prospect for a romantic relationship. Care should be taken when investing. Work hours must be deliberately limited to favor your good health.

Rooster. You can expect more wealth and to thrive at work this year. You have to be careful not to be offensive most especially when you decide to join or lead a new team. It is a good year to embark on a new business venture or an additional work that will supplement your current income. At the home front, you may have to render care and support to an elder so you need to take better care of your health as well.

Dog.  You will have a slightly harder time when it comes to earning wealth and managing your finances well. Your high sense of responsibility and loyalty will help you overcome the odds. Instead of building your wealth, this year must be spent on investing in yourself. It’s time to update your skills. Take extra care when lending money. In love, there is a good prospect for socializing this year, and you just might be able to find a new partner if you’re single.

Pig. It will be an extra stressful year at work for you but, hard work will be rewarded. There may be some uncertainties in your career directions which you may have to iron out first rather than jumping on the first opportunity to move out and try a new post. Take the time to learn new things and to meet new people who may either provide new work opportunities or prospect for romance.

Conclusion

Get inspired or just plain entertained by our luck. At the very least, we can use these pointers to remind us to put premium in achieving balance in our lives throughout the rest of the year. You know what else was consistent with the readings I found? Time to declutter so the luck will come in.  “Linis, linis din ‘pag may time, mga kapatid!” (Time to clean up!) Kung Hei Fat Choi!

The Feast of the Black Nazarene and the miracle within

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Feast of Black Nazarene at Quiapo” by Miguel Isidro Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0
There are countless misconcepcions and discussions around this popular undertaking that takes place annually every 9th day of January.  Even the title itself is potentially plagued with errors as devotees and learned historians argue that that correct title of the event is “Translacion” which signifies the transfer of the image of Jesus Christ to its present-day home in Quiapo Church.
I’ve visited Quiapo Church several times in the past but never dared to be part of this yearly celebration. I fully respect the beliefs of those who flock to the Translación and attempt yearly to climb up to the statue to brush their palms and hankies on the image — it’s their faith.  I, on the other hand, remain skeptical about the practice, most especially since casualties are recorded annually in association with this event.  As of time of writing, Translación 2017 is still in progress so we’ll see what the numbers will look like for this year.
The Placebo Effect
In medicine, the concept of placebo effect is well-recognized, although not all physicians are fully supportive of the practice.  Typically, in a placebo treatment, patients are prescribed a medication that may consist of a pill filled with nothing but sugar in it.  In many cases, some have shown that as much as 30 per cent of patients administered with placebo feel better and get better.
Truth is, there isn’t anything about the medicine that worked to make the patients feel better. It’s just the patient’s belief or perception of becoming better or healed in the process that brings him or her relief.  That is why some believe that the practice is deceptive and unethical.  This drove the American Medical Association to rule in 2006 that doctors must tell their patients first when they are being prescribed a placebo.
Unfortunately, that diminishes the psychological value attached to it and its potential positive impact to the patient.
The real effect of the placebo
Whereas before, scientists thought that there isn’t any real physical change or improvement that happens with a placebo, more recently, it seems that the mind does things to the body.
An article published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which was based on the perspectives of Ted J. Kaptchuk, a thought leader when it comes to the healing effect of placebos, and Franklin G. Miller, established how several studies have demonstrated that certain neurobiological pathways are activated by placebo.  In turn, this gives the patient a feeling of relief but, as the article highlighted, rarely redound to cure.
The power of faith
Another study published in 2016 in the JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that “frequent attendance to religious service was associated with significantly lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality among women”.  The study was conducted from 1992 through 2012, with a total of 74,534 subjects.
In the “Unlocking the healing power of you” published by the National Geographic, there is an astonishing story about a Parkinson’s disease patient, Mike Pauletich, who believed that a surgical treatment, still in its experimental stages, worked to improve his condition.  Later, he found out that he was part of the placebo group.
The real miracle of the Black Nazarene
Faith is what drives the religious to brave the seemingly never-ending sea of crowds that flock the Andas (the carriage used to move the image around Manila during Translacion) every year.  Some thanking the Nazareno for answered intentions and even more praying for healing from sickness, forgiveness from sins, and deliverance from poverty.

The real miracle of the Black Nazarene is in bringing together thousands of people to have but one purpose — to worship.  When that faith is multiplied by a thousand times, individual faith is magnified as well, bringing devotees in a state of euphoria unmatched by any illicit drug that the Duterte administration is going after.

Recalling this passage from the Bible, Luke 17:11-20:

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

 

Have you experienced a miracle?  Share your story below.

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“I Know Something Good About You”

Author: Unknown

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This was from one of my son’s lessons in school which the teacher has asked them to memorize.  I just think it’s nice, a good reminder for all of us, and even a great few lines to teach your own kids too.

Wouldn’t this old world be better? If the folks we meet would say. “I know something good about you’’ and then treat us just that way?

Wouldn’t it be fine and dandy if each handclap warm and true carried with this assurance I know something good about you.

Wouldn’t life be lots more happy if the good that’s in us all is the only thing about us that folks bothered to recall

Wouldn’t life be lots more happy? If we praised the good we see for there’s such a lot of goodness in the worst of you and me.

Wouldn’t it be nice to practice that fine way of thinking too? You know something good about me! I know something good about you.

—-

The lesson according to my son: Appreciate the good that others do to you.