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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

Next year’s Philippine midterm elections are fast approaching and it paints an all too-familiar image once again: candidates that are ei...

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Naming, as the saying goes, is the earliest act of creation. When we create something, we use a label for it to be identifiable and distinguishable from others.

That’s why each time a person tells you that they just had a new-born baby, we immediately ask for the little tot’s given name. And this privilege is especially reserved for the parents. This does not hold true only if you’re Lam-Ang. Secretly cringing if the name doesn’t sound right is, but optional

You see, this simple act is extremely important because our respective names will become who we are. And whether we like it or not, these series of letters will have a huge impact on how our lives will eventually turn out; it may actually provide the je ne sais quoi to our otherwise monotonous existence.
Scientific name: Phaseoulus lunatus.
Everyone has a story on how their names came to be. You were probably named after a flashy president’s wife, your mom’s telenovela actress, or after your dad’s favourite element in his high school chemistry class. Some have generic Pinoy names, while some have unusual ones; and others prefer their aliases like Mohagher Iqbal.

My name doesn’t sound odd. In fact, JR is very common here in the country. My name just looks odd on paper. You see, my brother and sister have two first names: Jasper Ian and Celeste Mae. I, on the other hand, have two letters: JR. Just those two letters stingily joint to form that thing called “first name”.  As if it isn’t odd enough, it was the attending midwife who suggested the name to my parents; to which they acceded.

In the Philippines, it is impossible not to have acquaintances named Mark, Joy, or Ann. We have a bunch of Michaels, Johns, John-Michaels; or Michael-Johns. We, Pinoys, also have this habit of repeating names for nicknames. One senator is named Bongbong while the vice president is called Junjun. You probably rubbed elbows with a Mac-Mac, Jan-Jan, or Ling-Ling – all of these names are recurs just in case you did not hear it on the first try.

As time goes, our naming system evolves with it. Gone were the days when we christen our kids with names like Ciriaco, Procopio, or Manuelito. Possessing these names now, gives the name-bearer, first class tickets to Ancient Filipino history. That is why, more parents are getting creative in choosing their child’s name. As an example, I have a high school buddy named “Xyrilloid”. Yes, that’s X-Y-R-I-L-L-O-I-D. That’s probably worth a hundred points if it landed on “Triple Word Score” in Scrabble.

We, Pinoys, also have delightful family names that go with our distinct first names. Our foremost pugilist, Manny Pacquiao’s last name is from the Filipino word, “pakyaw” which means wholesale. Indeed, he “wholesaled” most of the Mexican boxers. A certain Lucky Chan may make us think of a person who does not possess a six-pack abs. Some last names, amazingly, fit one’s profession. Take the recent bar exams passer, Christian Apollo Lawyer – he’s already a ‘Lawyer’ even before passing the licensure exam!

You see, our history is responsible for this: the Chinese, the Spanish, and the Americans all contributed to this smorgasbord of Filipino family names. And this can be traced in 1849, where the Spanish released the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos.
During that period, Governor General Narciso Clavería, noticed that the early Filipinos do not possess last names. The one personal name became insufficient as an identifier for tax, and census purposes; thus the concept of the surname catalogue for the Indios.

The Spanish Government then had drawn up a list of approved names from which our ancestors came to choose. This explains why most of the Filipino surnames are borrowed from Spanish, from the calendar of saints, or from retained but Hispanized, pre-colonial names.

Our present system was adopted from the American “three-fold” pattern: given name, middle name, and surname or family name. And this current naming scheme gave our parents more leeway in choosing the kind of first name they felt like giving to their hapless offspring.

Having lived in the Lanao area, I also found out that the Maranao parents may opt to use the father’s first name to serve as his child’s last name. In the Iloilo province, on the other hand, an ingenious system was devised by the Spanish colonizers. You may recognize a person’s hometown by knowing the initial of his or her surname. If it starts with an “M”, as in Morales; he probably came from an “M-town” like Miagao. If your family name is Gomez, your lineage may probably be traced back to the town of Guimba. Truly, the Pinoy family names are much differentiated from those of Vietnam or Korea where Nguyens and Parks abound.

But whatever the system of naming is, one thing is constant: names are a great deal for Pinoys. And the same couldn’t be any truer for domestic politics. In this side of the globe, name recall is very important.

Having a famous family name may help you win a political office – even without much experience. If you are married to a famous celebrity, your chances for bagging that win in those senatorial polls will be brighter than that of the average Juan dela Cruz. That’s why our streets are displayed with tarpaulins of our dear politicians; in order to bore their names into our psyche.
LeBron.
Our names establish our existence. Whether it has something to do with a kind of life we’re going to have, our name gives us character. Just think of the comedy gold of the “FEU surname wars”, or those ordinary people having celebrity namesakes at “Humans of New York”. Names will always be part of our being.

While some people may not be totally happy with their unusual names that they have it judicially changed, most people accept it. May it be Teofilo, Xenocrates, or JR, most of us simply choose to live with it.

And there will always be that moment when someone calls your name – no matter how cringe-worthy it may sound – it becomes sweet music to your ears. Just like in a song, the message is still more important than its title.

Blogger's Note: This article of mine appeared on GMA News Online last 17 April.

Photo Credits:

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There sure is a lot of arguing everywhere – which is great.
 
Debates help us generate more knowledge and help move issues forward. And as funny as this may sound, arguing helps us reach the ultimate goal of understanding each other.

Whether in a debate competition, in a classroom discussion, or in a simple colloquy with a friend, arguing is an enjoyable skill that can be developed.

Having debated in the university and law school, here’s my Top 10 tips on how to argue better:
 
10 – Define the Terms, First.

Whether face-to-face or internet word wars, the basic truths in a debate have to be established first. A good illustration of defining the fundamentals is St. Thomas Aquinas’ classic work, Summa Theologica. In it, Aquinas starts with the basic points, presents arguments and rebuttals, and moves on with each point as backed by logical statements.
 
9 – Get Your Facts Straight.

Do not state that something is correct unless you absolutely know it. Engage to argue only if you know you can win based on facts – do not make up arguments on the fly.
 
8 – Never Veer Away from the Topic.

Auto-pilot your arguments anchored on the original topic. Do not get entangled in a whole new debate. Remember to complete the first topic before giving time to the smaller ones.
 
7 - Don’t tell your opponent that he (or she) is “wrong”.

Instead, show him why he is wrong through good counter-arguments.
 
6 – Look for Points of Convergence.

Get the other side to agree with you by making agreeable statements. It may be a statement of fact not exactly related to the debate – and this will help you win the psychological aspect of the debate.
 
5 – Do not be Afraid to Ask Questions.

We learn this in law school: the “Socratic Method”. When your opponent makes a statement of fact, inquire deeper by asking questions which are designed to expose its weakness. Asking them for examples is a good way of digging their version of truth.
 
4 – Avoid Ad Hominems.
Do not resort to name calling by attacking their person. Compelling arguments are the keys to winning – not by insults. Attacking their grammar, or spelling, is not a good idea, either. If the other side does attack your person, congrats, you’re close to winning.


3 – Keep Your Cool.

You should not raise your voice when you argue. Be remain calm at all times. You can’t win debates by being the louder one in a yelling match - it is won by the person with the most convincing arguments. Especially on the Internet, do not let your emotions get you. Refrain from using all caps and save it only in emphasizing a certain point.
 
2 – Know When to Keep your Mouth Shut.

After making a strong argument, you may let your opponent do all the talking. They may actually give in just to get out of an uncomfortable situation of silence. Many arguments have been won by NOT arguing anymore.
 
1 – Concede if You Lose.

Be graceful in defeat; be polite and concede the win. There will always be a time when your opponent gets the better of you – but don’t worry – there’s always another debating day. Humility shows that you are a worthy opponent even if you lose, and being graceful in defeat is something that is always appreciated.
Yesterday, exactly 67 years ago, the late President Elpidio Quirino was sworn into office after President Manuel Roxas’ untimely death. The humble Ilocano statesman, who at one point served as a barrio teacher, became the sixth president of the then young Philippine Republic.
   

And in celebration of the momentous event, the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation (PEQF), officially launched Ako, Pilipino! at the Ayala Museum. It is an advocacy campaign which aimed at celebrating the three positive values that backboned the late president's administratioin: tolerance, goodwill, and love.
TV personality Miss Cory Quirino, the granddaughter of the late president, spearheaded the launching of the yearlong celebration known as “EQ125” - with the hopes of bringing back of the Filipino national pride.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chair, Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno, led the speakers by mentioning the 12 volumes of massive narrations of the origins of Philippine barangays, towns and provinces as instructed by the late Pres. Quirino. Israel Ambassador Ephraim Ben Matityau talked about his country’s gratitude for Quirino, who formerly served as the Secretary of the Foreign Affairs, guided the Philippine’s decisive United Nations vote in 1947.
 
The PEQF President, Atty. Aleli Angela Quirino, on the other hand, stressed that the highlights the values that guided the former President in his everyday life and principles. She also highlighted Quirino’s tolerance; on how he forgave the Japanese POWs after the war.
 
Bernard Kerblat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative to the Philippines, talked about Quirino’s goodwill as he welcomed white Russian refugees driven out of Red China by offering them a safe haven in Tubabao Island in Samar. This, I have to say, is one of those finer points in yesterday’s event which are not usually mentioned in our history textbooks.

Ruby Quirino-Gonzales also shared the family’s experiences that reflect the character of the President at the trying times of the Second World War. President Elpidio Quirino’s love for his family and country was further expounded by the event host, Cory Quirino, by recounting her earliest memories of her grandfather.

Dr. Joven Cuanang, the Adviser for the PEQF, talked about the “true Filipino spirit”; while  well-known TV personality, Lourd de Veyra, had the crowd in stitches by sharing his thoughts on the president. I approached the TV5 host moments before his speech, and told him the “chamber pot controversy” had not been mentioned yet. As I predicted, the only mention of the controversy was on de Veyra’s speech. The golden arenola, by the way, was never proven to have actually existed in the very first Senate Blue Ribbon inquiry.
 
The event the proceeded with the official launching of Ako, Pilipino!, and the unveiling of the dedication wall. Singer Isabella, which happens to be the late President’s granddaughter, sang “Pilipino Ako” at the background.
 


The launching sparks the long string of activities for the year-long celebration: the launching of www.elpidioquirino.org, “Guro to Pangulo Awards”, Prof. Winnie Monsod lectures on the economy, Jaime Laya on education, Ambeth Ocampo on Philippine-Japan relations, Bernard Kerblat on the history of refugee arrival, the launching of Quirino museum in Vigan City, among others.


The blog author with former BSP Monetary Board Member, Ignacio Bunye.
Blogger's Note: The PoliTikalon Blog reports this event with much honor being one of the two blogs that were asked to cover the occasion. This blog is grateful to the Media Affairs Director Daisy Sabangan of the CID, Incorporated.
Note: This is a repost of the article I've written for the Definitely Filipino blog. It was shared for about 3,700+ times.

Welcome to this modern-day world where we can communicate to anyone, anywhere in the globe – with the click of the mouse.

And because of our fondness of keeping up with the trend, we were quick to adapt. In this country where about 37 million uses the Internet, our country remains as one of the most active in this global village.

And while the internet should have posed a greater opportunity for the Pinoy’s brilliance to be expressed and paraded, it seems that it made the turn for the worse. This is because, this innovation in communications cannot distinguish between bad and good; it just wildly spreads it all around. This is the moral weakness of the world wide web.

And the Pinoy virtual presence is a manifestation of our age-old love for gossip, for voyeurism, and for our innate proclivity of meddling with other people’s lives. I am convinced that for the most part, we are quite low on the introversion department – as if the act of publishing our comments is our sacred obligation to the world. And the odd thing is, each time a hot-button issue comes along, most of us become instant analysts. From the typical sidewalk chats of the istambays, this Filipino pastime of critiquing had spilled over the cyberspace floodwalls.

We, Filipinos, have a say in almost everything. We heavily criticize anything or anyone: case in point, our Head of State. He is being criticized in all aspects of his life: political decisions, tax plans, or his hairstyle. Even the snippiest internet bystander has an opinion on how to ‘revive’ the president’s deforested crown of glory.

When the son of a jailed senator “accidentally shot” himself, we were quick to give our psychological theories in the social media. When Mayweather officially announced his fight with Pacquiao days back, most of us quickly became boxing analysts – complete with our own fight predictions. When the PNP-SAF had a botched operation last January, we instantly became military strategists on Twitter; we also have a say on how Toni Gonzaga hosted the Binibining Pilipinas last night.

Our newsfeeds are frequently bombarded with messages. Mostly, hurtful messages. Most of the masses take turns virtually thrashing each other in the Internet; some give comments based on poor appreciation of facts or just instantaneous reactions without perusing a shared article first. Add to these the bashers and harassers which are the tell-tale signs of the sloping of the Pinoy cranial ridge. And in this social media age, it’s now easier to comment, to respond, or to pick a word war.

But why are we like this? Maybe the life here in the tropics is so dull that we need to live a separate virtual existence as a form of escape? Or probably, because if we can share other people’s demise, we may just feel a little bit better about our lives? Or maybe because of our “commentary-oriented” media culture?

Our broadcast stations are rife with talk shows and programs designed for a certain person to talk about anything under the sun. We are constantly fired upon by the broadcast media’s gifts of gab – and they frequently take advantage of the masses’ emotions to manipulate public opinion.

And with this trend of fostering viewer interactions, they ask for phone-in questions, tweets, or Facebook comments which get to be published and read in real-time. Seems innocent but this produces know-it-alls who seemingly think that because they have so much knowledge – thanks to Google – that their opinions become all too-important. Fault-finding, is easy.

And our netizens comment just for the act of commenting. Most often, we post responses which are not well thought-out, much less politically correct. Or some are just proud to comment “first”. And worst, the pessimistic tirades online are published by people who cowardly hide behind their masks of anonymity. After the brouhaha in the cyberspace, what’s next? Did the keyboard warriors enlist in the military to fight against the BIFF?
In this democracy, it is a privilege for us to examine and openly criticize various aspects of life in this country. Netizens are entitled to their opinion without having to fear for our lives; we are not in the seventies anymore. Yet, we should remember that the letters we type on our keyboards do not aptly embody our emotions or the underlying nuances of our messages.

And like what I said to the MSU-Gensan delegates on my blogging seminar last month: a lot of people do not have the right to their own opinions because they do not know what they are blabbering about.

But after all the tête-à-têtes and the ad hominems, what is required from us is to take intelligent actions. We should not just bury a controversy with another.

Does our country need critics? Yes. It is just proof of the Pinoy’s active mind. It gives us the time to analyze and learn from our collective experiences. But if we have a culture of critiquing without action, all might just come to naught. Because what have we done in our own backyards? We blabber about the things distant from us, but fail to see what is happening in our own communities.We always fail to listen to the few wise voices because we are too busy talking ourselves.

We have to remember that the way we talk in the cyberspace is the reflection of our reality. It forms our consciousness. How we post our comments in the wide web explains our dreams and direction as a people.
This constitutionally-guaranteed right to speech carries with it, our duties and responsibilities. We have to criticize fairly by getting the facts right and this way, we influence other people correctly. We have to be responsible internet users by treating our fellow netizens the same way we do when we meet them in person.

We don’t have a short supply of critics in this country. We have seen a lot of those during the congress’ own version of the Mamasapano inquiry. What we need are doers.

And having said that, it’s time to end this critique. I guess I’ve said enough.
This is a mirror article from Top Universities - PH Blog.

Here is the list of the best physics schools in the country, as based on the Commission on Higher Education's yearly list of higher education institutions with Centers of Excellence (COE) and Centers of Development (COD).

A COE refers to "a department within a higher education institution, which continuously demonstrates excellent performance in the areas of instruction, research and publication, extension and linkages and institutional qualifications". A COD, on the other hand, refers to "a department within a higher education institution, which demonstrates the potential to become a COE in the future".

The designation will be valid until 31 May 2015. The COEs and CODs do not reflect the overall performance of a university. The data reflected here are taken from the CHED records as of 10 August 2014.
MSU-IIT's physics professor, Ryan Balili. Now with the University of Cambridge.
NCR
  • De La Salle University – Taft – Manila (Center of Development)
  • University of the Philippines – Diliman – Quezon City (Center of Excellence)
  • Ateneo de Manila University – Manila (Center of Excellence)
Visayas
  • University of San Carlos Cebu City (Center of Development)
Mindanao
  • Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology – Iligan City (Center of Development)

Sources:

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