The Picasso Problem

Monday, December 19, 2011

They say that for every Picasso, there are 1,000 starving artists. What sucks about it is it's true. What sucks more about it is it also applies to other aspects of life, particularly the arts.

For every one Justin Bieber, there are 1,000 aspiring teens posting videos of themselves on YouTube also hoping to be discovered and gain fame and fortune.

For every one J.K. Rowling, there are 1,000 struggling and frustrated writers who earn only enough to make ends meet. Some don't even get published.

For every one Vice Ganda, there are 1,000 gay stand-up comedians toiling the nights away at Malate and squeezing their brains dry for new jokes.

For every one American Idol Top 24 Finalist, there are 1,000 aspiring singers who line up at auditions, get brutally criticized by Simon Cowell and often end up going home with crushed homes.

For every one Alodia Gosiengfiao, there are 1,000 cosplayers who scrimp just to have their latest costumes sewn and don't even have enough funds and resources for their own cosplay wardrobe, let alone hire their own photographer, stylist and even manager.

Here's a frustrated/aspiring blogger whose dreams of a fruitful writing career were crushed by the harsh realities of life. But on the other hand, I'm happy with my being a seller of auto parts. My needs are met and I get to help the people important to me which in my opinion is more fulfilling than getting published for a measly amount.

The Proud Post

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Asian countries have many reasons to be proud.

China is proud because they're now the world's largest exporter and is fast becoming the next superpower.

Singapore is proud because they now ranked second just behind Switzerland in the Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 and all their universities entered the World's Top 100.

South Korea is proud because they rose from a war-trodden ruins to the 13th largest economy in the world and their Samsung and LG are now respectively the world's first and second largest makers of LCD and LED TV's.

Malaysia is proud because they have the Petronas Towers and they're close to becoming a first-world country thus becoming the next destination for OFW's.

Vietnam is proud because they did a great job attracting foreign investors and is now experiencing rapid economic growth.

Cambodia is proud because they made a great deal of improvement in the Global Competitiveness Report and is now close to overtaking the Philippines.

Philippines is proud because we have Pacquiao who, other than being the first eight-division world champion in boxing, also became a recording artist, congressman and Sergeant Major despite having no credible background in singing, politics and military warfare. And if Pacquiao retires, who's next? Charice?

Common (But Ineffective) Pinoy Reactions and Their Rebuttals

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"No one is hated more than he who speaks the truth."

I've been joining the crusade on obliterating false, shallow and in-your-face Pinoy Pride and spreading the inconvenient truths that Filipinos just turn a blind eye to (Manila Bus Hostage Crisis and three pinoy drug mules executed in China being the latest issues). Although I've already learned many ways to counter arguments, sometimes the angry replies I receive tend to be "canned" and just beat around the bush.

So to save myself time and effort to type the same rebuttals again and again, let me compress them into one blog post.

Common Pinoy Reaction Number 1
"I can't believe you hate your fellow Filipinos! How dare you insult your own countrymen!"

And how dare you say that I hate and insult my own countrymen. There's a fine line between "insult" and "criticize." Criticism is someone trying to help you, by telling you something about yourself that you were a little too uncomfortable not knowing (taken from Cracked). So just because I criticize fellow Filipinos automatically means I hate them? So Simon Cowell must hate the contestants of American Idol and Britain's Got Talent so much because he brutally criticizes them. Yet its thanks to Cowell's sharp tongue that the contestants are able to identify their flaws and correct them thus resulting to better performances.

When your parents criticize your wrongdoings, does that mean they hate you? Otherwise, it only shows that they care and want you to grow into a decent, properly-functioning person. Same reason why I point out the many faults because change begins by being aware of your weaknesses and because I care about my country.

Common Pinoy Reaction Number 2
"It happens in other countries too and it's even worse in China, India and Africa."

Ah, the Appeal to Common Practice.

I failed many subjects at school.
My classmates also failed many subjects and some of them even have worse grades than mine.
Therefore, it's alright that I failed many subjects because my classmates did it too and some of them did even worse.

Human trafficking is happening in the Philippines.
It happens in other countries too like Laos and North Korea and it's even worse in some African countries like Congo and Madagascar.
Therefore, it's alright that human trafficking is happening  in the Philippines because other countries are doing it too and it's even worse in Africa.

Just because it happens in other countries too doesn't mean Pinoys are excusable. People having a similar problem doesn't diminish your own.

Common Pinoy Reaction Number 3
"What have you done to this country for you to speak so negatively of it?"

What have I done? Oh, nothing much. I just pay my Value-Added Taxes to the BIR. Also as a mother I vow to raise my child to be a responsible and law-abiding Filipino citizen.. As a punctual taxpayer I am entitled to express my opinions and complain of this country's many dysfunctions. It's also the same reason why there are complaint centers in many establishments for their customers so the former can easily detect what they're doing wrong to further improve their businesses.

Furthermore, I am writing this blog to inform as many people as I can about the ills of my country so they can be cured. After all, you have to know the problems first to be able to solve them.

Common Pinoy Reaction Number 4
"If you don't like this country then get the f*** out and find another country that will accept you."

You tell me to find another country to accept me, but as a citizen of the Philippines, I have the right to voice out my complaints and to express the changes I want to see in this country. It's also my responsibility as a citizen to expose and address the wrongs that Filipinos just can't seem to swallow.

Common Pinoy Reaction Number 5
"Why are you so obsessed with the negative? Focus on the positive instead! You don't know how great Filipinos are like Pacquiao, Charice, Arnel Pineda, Bruno Mars, Maria Aragon, Vanessa Hudgens, etc."

Are you suggesting that we use the shallow positives to cover up the critical negatives? That's as effective as putting a band-aid over an ingrown nail.

I smoke marijuana. (Negative)
On the other hand, I'm the boxing champion in the local division. (Positive)
Therefore, it's alright that I smoke marijuana because I'm good in boxing. (Using the positive to excuse the negative)

A disgraced Filipino cop took a busload of Chinese tourists hostage and successfully killed eight of them. (Negative)
However, Miss Philippines Venus Raj won Fourth Runner-up at the Miss Universe Pageant. (Positive)
Therefore, it's alright that a Filipino shot eight innocent Chinese dead because Venus Raj just brought honor to the country. (Using the positive to excuse the negative)

*Sigh* If only another win from Pacquiao, another guest appearance by Charice on Glee or another concert by Arnel Pineda can eliminate poverty and corruption, feed the three million hungry Filipino children, provide jobs for 11 million unemployed Filipinos, attract foreign investors and overall stop this country from being Asia's Laggard. In the long run, those co-called "positives" (Maria Aragon, Nicole Scherzinger, Palawan, Boracay, world-renowned hospitality, etc.) are just "happy pills" to make us forget the sorry state of our country.

Common Pinoy Reaction Number 6
"The Philippines could have been a great country if only the corrupt politicians aren't screwing things up."

But who voted those corrupt politicians into power in the first place? And if Filipinos are so great then why can't they even vote for their leaders properly?

Common Pinoy Reaction Number 7
"P***** I** mo! Kung wala kang matinong masabi sa Pilipinas shut the f*** up! Damn stupid racist you smell like s***."

Is that what you're gonna do now? Insult me? And you actually think I'm offended? Ad hominems are the surest sign that you've run out of decent arguments and that you can't dispute the other party's claims. You're now reduced to a rabid dog barking senseless insults. So bark away, dog.

And there we have it, folks! Rebuttals-in-a-can convenient for those repetitive and emo-driven pinoy reactions. It's a long, hard battle but here's hoping that this blog post will prove useful to the harbingers of inconvenient truths.

"But, by far, the hardest thing you can give the patient is the truth. The truth is hard. the truth is awkward, and very often, the truth hurts."
-Meredith Grey, Grey's Anatomy

Of Faith

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I am a Catholic on my birth certificate but not entirely by heart, mind and soul. I boldly declare myself a Christian even if I bluntly disagree with many of the Church’s teachings and the Bible’s verses. I fully support the RH Bill, I'm quite loose on the idea of fidelity and I don't think that virginity is a virtue.

I believe in Jesus Christ and accept him as my Savior, but I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve. I’m not a Church-going, Bible-hugging, honk-if-you-love-Jesus kind of person.

I would, however, also call myself a Christian Universalist for I believe that religions are just different paths leading to the same destination, and that we acknowledge only one Supreme Being but worship him in different ways. I’m also against the “believe or burn” dogma of many Christians.

Having impersonally witnessed miracles of other religions such as the Hindu Milk Miracle and Allah’s name appearing on a watermelon, I’ve come to believe that there isn’t only ONE way.

Additionally, as a Universalist, I also find the concept of an eternal hell absurd since it just doesn’t fit the description of an omniscient, all-loving and ever-merciful God. If a man’s sins on Earth are finite, why, then, does his punishment have to be infinite? I also think that it’s just a ploy made up by Christian authorities to scare people into converting into Christianity and to gain more followers.

Although I love to explore other religions and even have friendly discussions about it, I actually dislike debating about it and claiming that there is only one true religion. I’ve spoken to a motley of people of different religious backgrounds – Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and even atheism – and I must say they broadened my religious views.

Even as a Christian, I find the teachings of other religions more logical and useful such as the Taoist concept of the Life Force, the Buddhist concept of Dharma and the ever-known Karma which many Christians believe in but is actually Hindu in origin.

I am as spiritual as a person can ever be, but I foremost use science, logic and my God-given reason to find answers to my problems. My faith, however, is intact. There are many answers in life which I’ve sought in quiet meditation with God at Church or just at home.

I don’t quote the Bible or preach about God’s love when consoling someone in anguish. I would rather refer to experience, elderly wisdom and psychological facts when giving advice.

Though not in the Bible, my religious motto is, “God helps those who help themselves,” something which I find more useful than most Bible verses. I believe in the power of prayer but God ultimately won’t swoop down from the sky to solve the world’s problems. I believe that our destiny is our own. It’s up to us to turn our lives into how we want it. And to quote Ms. Lea Salonga, “Forget prayers, I want action.

Lastly, this entry is not meant to decry Christianity and to provoke religious debates. I aim to encourage religious open-mindedness.

"I've probably read 95% of the words in the Bible. Probably 60% of the Torah. 70% of the Koran. And the thing that is so amazing to me is how everybody, in essence, believes the same thing. I just can't understand how we get from such similar beliefs to murdering one another.
-Will Smith

Crying Your Way to Fame and Fortune

Monday, August 22, 2011

I was watching the local edition of Junior MasterChef last Saturday night and was quite surprised that many kids there were crying and laying out their sob stories.

Those sob stories were the usual ones you hear on Wiltime Bigtime and Happy Yipee Yehey. The pity-me-I’m-so-poor-my-family-has-nothing-to-eat kinds of ramblings. One girl shared her sob story which went something like, “Nagkasakit ang nanay kaya ako nalang ang nagluluto para sa mga kapatid ko”. (Mom got sick so I’m the one left to cook for my siblings.)

I felt giddy rather than sympathetic towards those kawawa kids. So what they’re basically doing is trying to win sympathy votes from the audience to boost their appeal. If that’s the case then put your pots and pans down and cry away. After all, you’re going to be judged on how miserable your life is, not on how well you cook. It also made me want to show up at the studio, hit those kids’ heads and say, “This is a cooking show, not a soap opera.”

On the other hand, the kids in Junior MasterChef Australia just cooked and involved no tears and sob stories. Maybe it’s a good idea that there be no Philippine edition of Hell’s Kitchen. Let’s see if the onion-skinned-ness and being melodramatic of Filipinos can put up with Chef Gordon Ramsay’s ruthless criticisms, kitchen tantrums and fluency of the F word.

Which made me think, just what is it with Filipinos' thing for sob stories? In programs such as Wiltime Bigtime, there's the “awa" system wherein you're judged by how pitiful your life is and not by how talented you are. During one episode, a woman in her late 40’s began crying away because she can't support her twelve kids. Willie just gave her a huge sum of money as some sort of “reward” for being pathetic and dirt-poor. The audience, in turn, just cheered or her on, not realizing that her miseries were self-induced.

I also harbor the same sentiments towards Marcelito PoMoy, the Grand Winner of Pilipinas Got Talent Season 2. Sure, his falsetto voice can be considered a talent but he won simply because his life story resembled one that was written by veteran scriptwriters (I’m also talking to YOU, Jovit Baldivino). I daresay that Rico the Magician or Angel Calalas the Hula Hoop Trickster should have won since they used REAL talent, not tears or sob stories to solicit votes.

"If Filipinos loves to smile and wave at the camera, then they love to cry during interviews, wallow in their miseries and spread their sob stories thin."

So after reading the above quote, perhaps I’ll just line up at Wiltime Bigtime, make up a telenovela-esque sob story since the more kawawa you are, the more you receive from Kuya Wil and voila! INSTANT MONNEH!!

And to end this entry and clear some misunderstandings, I’m not promoting apathy nor hatred towards humanity. What I’m saying is that in the real world, it’s survival of the fittest out there. Especially in other countries, people there aren’t moved by tears, sob stories and pleas of mercy in order for you to have it your way.

P.S. If there’s a prize for playing the victim, Filipinos would’ve been the undefeated champion for years.

What Would It Take for the Philippines to Become a Developed Country

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome to the Philippines, a tropical paradise with a populace known to the world as hardworking, hospitable and fun-loving yet, as a nation, can be considered dysfunctional.

We Filipinos complain about how poor and corrupt our country is but that’s all we do; complain. We long for a decent government and a productive economy yet we’d rather form ourselves into raging rallies than take matters into our own hands. We rant about traffic and rule breakers yet we ourselves would rather jaywalk (and risk a hit-and-run accident) than cross at the right moments and pedestrian lanes. The mouths do more whining than the hands do aiding and improving.

Many of us can proudly say, “Pinoy ako!” with our chests out but internally we’re willing work like slaves just to be labeled American citizens. Some Filipino families in the United States go as far as not wanting their children to learn Tagalog. Adolescent girls who squeal at their favorite Korean heartthrobs and try hard to look Asian are quite irritating.

These little things may seem irrelevant to national development but, when viewed at a grander scale, are crucial in helping the Philippines take a huge step to becoming a developed country. We must entrust the future of our country not to the government alone but to ourselves, the citizens, as well.

Not poverty, corruption nor overpopulation is a barricade to progress. First-world countries such as the United States and Japan also deal with these imperfections. To eradicate these persistent problems a snowflake's chance in spring. They are among the given and can never be cast aside from the equation.

For the Philippines to become a developed country there are three vital characteristics its citizens need to have; discipline, nationalism and efficiency.

Discipline should be the loveliest jewel in the Philippine crown yet at the moment it has the filthiest smear. It’s not uncommon to see pedestrians crossing under an overpass or people littering even when a “No Littering” sign is in sight. The bad thing is Filipinos are known to be rule breakers or in colloquial Tagalog, pasaway. The worse thing is many Filipinos even boast being pasaway. This obvious lack of discipline is an added hole to a sinking ship. It may not seem a big deal to toss a cigarette butt away but simply imagine if all or most of the 88 million Filipinos continued being stubborn and pasaway. It wouldn’t be a mystery why the Philippines is so chaotic. It’s like a herd of dumb sheep led without a shepherd. Then again, let’s also imagine if most Filipinos follow road rules, pay their taxes precisely and punctually and practice their civil and human rights properly. What if our politicians can practice enough self-discipline to allocate an ample amount of the funds for national benefit and not into their own already loaded pockets? Think of the alleviated everyday predicaments which can spell peace and order.

The Philippines should also convert its masses from an obstacle to an advantage. Let’s be like a colony of ants wherein, no matter how numerous, everyone has a role to play and work to do thus leading to a fruitful nation. Like a grain of rice one alone is futile but when joined with a million other grains can feed an impoverished settlement.

Filipinos should also sharpen their saws in the nationalism department. As mentioned above many of us can sing “Ako ay Pilipino” with that emotional tone and the dramatically closing eyes yet are swayed by western culture, entertainment and trends. Being nationalistic doesn’t merely mean learning your Philippine history and acknowledging your Filipino citizenship. Nationalism is acting and deciding for the benefit of your country. A native Chinese would sacrifice his family and possessions for the good of his country. A native Filipino on the other hand would yearn to live abroad for his wife, children, bank account and career, eventually abandoning his home soil and fellow countrymen.

At the end of World War II, Japan was as depleted as a fire hydrant after a general alarm. It lost so much funds paying for the damages they've done during the war. Had the Japanese not practiced strict discipline, united themselves and worked as a nation, they would have been as pitiful as a fourth-world country. Had they not persevered and patronized their own culture and products, they would have been left behind the marathon of development. Their strong sense of nationalism pushed them through hardships and now Japan is a major economic power and a member of the Group of Eight which represents about 65% of the world economy. Can the Philippines not do and be the same?

I’m not saying we should give up our future and personal goals for our country and put ourselves and our families last. We should definitely not neglect ourselves but not to the point of pushing our country out the circle of concern. Let us follow Japan’s example and instill a sense of nationalism in our hearts. After all, what you give for your country will eventually be returned to you in a bigger parcel.

Lastly, the Philippines should learn to use its assets in an efficient manner. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “efficiency” as “being productive of desired effects especially without waste.” Currently, we try so hard to be industrial and advanced that we disregard our natural resources and even knowingly let foreigners benefit from them. This trying-hard-to-be-hi-tech mentality is like wanting to learn Algebra without even knowing addition tables.

Instead of owing again and again from the World Bank and other developed countries thus pushing us deeper into the abyss of debt, we should utilize our natural resources and not overlook them. Economically speaking they belong to the Philippines alone. If sold to the local market, the money would circulate within the country. Local business firms will earn more from farmers living in far-flung areas who will also benefit from this circulation. Farmers and other agricultural workers in developed countries are well-paid since they're aware of the importance of natural resources.

Tourism, by all means, should also be heavily commercialized with neon lights to further promote and enrich our country. Many other nations such as Singapore don't have adequate natural resources yet generate income through tourism. France is the highest maker in this case. Tourism is like a Swiss Army Knife as it has many capabilities. It provides global awareness of our country's beauty, rakes in the foreign currencies and only a small amount of resources are spent. That's three birds with one stone.

The Philippines is a developing country and it's on its way up the economic ladder only with impasses in its way. As long as there's discipline, nationalism and efficiency, being a developed country is possible. As Confucius said, it doesn't matter how long you take, as long as you get there.

Note: This was written around November 2007 as an entry to an essay writing contest with the same theme. Unfortunately, I ran past the deadline.

Friendly Reminder

This blog is aimed to express my opinions on various topics under the sun, as well as to encourage meaningful conversations as the title suggests. Comments (and friendly arguments) are more than welcome but they will be strictly moderated if they become inappropriate, offensive or discriminatory in any way.

While I try to make my entries accurate and impartial, I don't claim to be an expert on anything and I apologize in advance for any mistakes or offenses I've made.

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Jiea Dee
Journalism graduate who became a seller of auto parts rather than a writer, her dream career. She has then revised her plan to make turn writing, instead of a living, to a hobby.
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