Smörgåsbord of Insights (2013)

As I scanned through some of my Facebook posts, I thought I should share some of them not only to my circle of friends but to others as well. I do not claim correctness in all of these tidbits, but I thought quite hard before I wrote them. These are some of my perceptions of the current facts.

On Liberation Theology


I came across the idea of Liberation Theology during my college days when a fraternity brother who was a former member of the LFS in UP, and who entered the Franciscan order raised it with me during a conversation. I could still remember discussing and agreeing with him a theological concept that was at that time somewhat new and foreign to me. Although I came from the minor seminary, theology or its variations are not yet taught in high school.

Years of study at the State University catered me with several ideologies that I could not easily digest, especially when some of your professors from the Social Sciences and Philosophy would feed you inputs and require you to watch movies laced with left-leaning themes. I had watched an array of films and plays, and complied with the reaction papers that we were obliged to submit.

One that struck a chord out of me was the film about Oscar Romero of El Salvador. He was a bishop and a proponent of Liberation Theology. He was assassinated most probably by the government. That was after he celebrated mass. It seemed doleful for a modern-day crusader and clergyman who fought for social injustice and inequality to end his life that way. Hate against oppressive regimes came next and the call for revolution as the cure to injustice were then the only answers to me to level off political and social inequalities. One that also befuddled me was Romero’s interpretation and use of Christ’s mission of liberating man out of sin. I always thought it to be spiritual, but he is suggesting more of a political one.

My maturity and my introduction to reason and deeper Catholic faith has led me to believe that Liberation Theology has somewhat went beyond the borders of Catholic teachings. Jesus Christ came into the world not to instill political and social order but to direct man spiritually and away from sin. He came to change the spiritual and not the temporal order.

I believe that social injustice, inequalities, wars, famines, and catastrophes should not be hated. They are the will of God. They bring sufferings. And to suffer is a gift, an opportunity to bring yourself closer to Him, regardless of whether you are poor or rich.


On Public School Textbooks


Books in public schools should not be bid out. The government should not compromise education with low quality books and instructional materials which usually are the result of public bidding.

What if books that are of good quality and authored by renowned and good authors are printed only by a certain publishing company. And these authors or publishing will never join the bid, then these quality books will never arrive at the table of public school children.

The DepEd should create a board of experts for every course/subject which will determine the appropriate textbooks, their authors, workbooks and worksheets for each grade level. After selection and approval by the Secretary, the purchase of the materials should not pass public bidding.

DepEd’s prior practice was to commission their own officials to author books for the Department, no matter how incompetent these people are in the field they are writing. The strategy (or corruption) was to contain the funding and appropriate the revenue among themselves at the expense of the children’s education.

I think it’s high time for the DepEd to re-think and re-evaluate the books they are providing the children. Likewise, the Department should also prevent politics to interfere with the hiring of teachers.


On the IOS 7/iPhone vs Android/Samsung phones


IOS is already behind Android just as the iPhones are behind the Samsung, HTC and Nexus top of the line phones.

The problem with the iPhone as a whole is its hardware. It cannot widen its screen more than 4 inches across because the phone will require a lot of processing power to handle the added pixels. Its micro processing clip, the A7, is not that powerful compared to the Snapdragon 800 of the S4 and the Galaxy Note 3. What it lacks hardware-wise iPhone compensates with its software.

IOS software and apps are not bloated. This is because unlike Android, Apple filters the apps that go into their store. It should be lean so that it could be seamlessly run by its processor. Android on the other hand is an open-source system. There is not much restrictions on how the developer will build an application. This is because Android or Google does not build its own hardware, it leaves it to the hardware giants like Samsung, Sony, LG and HTC.

One would think why there are no widgets or live wallpapers in an IOS. It is because these software eat up a lot of processing power. If there will be, iPhone performance will not be smooth.

But I don’t still discourage anybody to buy an iPhone. It’s how one uses his phone. If you are using your phone simply as an everyday talk and text, Facebook and internet browser, camera and video cam, or just to show friends that you can afford an expensive gadget, buy an iPhone. But if you are a techy geek, fond of multi-tasking, and you do other more than ordinary tasks in your phone, then get a top of the line Android phone.


On Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan


The guest speaker for the West View Primary School regular academic activity is Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan. Dr. Balakrishnan (a medical doctor) is the MP (Congressman) of the district where the school is located. He is also the incumbent Minister of the Environment and Water Resources of Singapore.

He arrived with no entourage. There were even no school banners welcoming his arrival and presence. He talked to the kids and waited until the activity ended. He was seen roaming around checking the booths, and talking to the teachers, pupils, and parents. I never saw the teachers, the parents or the pupils took pictures with him. He left alone quietly without anyone announcing his departure.

The doctor was also the guest speaker of the 2011 Philippine Embassy Independence Day Reception at the Mandarin Hotel. He is quite popular here in Singapore and is favored to be the next prime minister.

This is how our politicians should behave.


On Singapore being a safer place

singapore safe place

We happened to cruise the roads of our neighborhood (Singapore) at midnight around 1 AM. I saw in a dimly lit bus stop, a teenage girl around 16 to 18 years old. She was wearing shorts and a shirt and was somewhat tinkering with her phone. She was maybe waiting for the next bus to arrive.

No other commuter is with her, yet she was relaxed and was not mindful of her surroundings. I told myself, in the Philippines, a girl of this age wearing daring outfits, in the wee hours of the night, alone, is inviting danger.

But here, it is actually a common sight. No one is scared to walk alone in the dead of the night. It is because no one will hurt you.

How safe it is to raise your children in a place like this.


On Dealing with Arrogant People


I love to attend reunions with people who had for sometime been my good friends. I want to know how they faired in life. I will be very happy to know that they have succeeded. Otherwise, I am very willing to help them in whatever way I can.

But I hate to attend reunions with people who had only been ‘passers-by’ in my life, and who joined the get-together for purpose of bragging their money, their things and the people who they know.

These people are either desperate attention-seekers or social climbers. I don’t need them. It is a waste of time.

I would rather be with friends who are underachievers but who speak truthfully about themselves. I would rather be with people who are achievers but who are humble enough not to brag their accomplishments.

Because I am not easily awed and amused by story-telling. I have many friends who have great stories to tell but opt not to tell them. And they remain great in my eyes as I have been to them.


On the Filipinos’ Short-Term Memory


Last night, since it was raining hard and we did not bring umbrellas with us, we were forced to ride a taxi from the neighboring mall (around 300 meters away from our house) to our unit. The uncle or taxi driver (that’s what they call older men here, just like mama in Manila) was very jolly and even praised our children for being so cute. He knew then that we are Filipinos although he mistaken us first for Singaporeans. He told us that he is always following Philippine News and is quite updated with it.

Now came the laughing yet quite embarrassing topic. He told us that he could not understand Filipinos. He laughed hard but not really in an insulting manner. He said that it is only in the Philippines that he sees people voting for politicians who robbed them. He was really stupefied that Erap won the mayoralty seat in Manila, the capital of the country. He also pointed out that Bongbong Marcos is now senator, Imelda, a congresswoman, and Imee, a governor. “Erap, he said, was convicted for doing bad in the government. Why vote for him again?”

It was the first time I was not able to defend us. I just laughed and said I didn’t really know. He told us laughing that Marcos made us poor and yet we reward his family by putting all of them to government seats. “In Singapore, he said, once you are convicted, you will never regain yourself. And isn’t it you are already around 95 million, are there no other man or woman more competent than these persons?”

Well, after all the conversation, and a bit embarrassed, we just invited him to visit the Philippines. His parting words were, “Well, the Philippines is doing great now, Benigno Aquino is doing a good job for your country. I hope the progress will continue.”

I even did not get his name. But I got a lesson or two of who we really are from an ordinary Singaporean like him.


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