smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

AKRHO is not a fraternity (Corrected – AKRHO NOT INVOLVED)

Alpha Kappa Rho is not a fraternity, it’s a street gang. Regardless of its fairly decent roots in UST (where it was founded by a bunch of Commerce students and one Med student), the organization as it exists now has devolved into lawlessness and atavistic barbarism. The death of Guillo Cesar Servando is proof of that.

EDIT: It has come to light that it wasn’t AKRHO that was involved in the death of Servs (as his HS friends called Giullo Servando), but Tau Gamma Phi. While I stand by my opinion of AKRHO, it is not fair for them to be mentioned in connection with this incident. I apologize for that.

As for Tau Gamma, I daresay you can take my first paragraph, replace AKRHO with Tau Gamma, replace UST with UP, and it’d still be accurate as hell. Tau Gamma has, in fact, devolved into a street gang whose grubby members are given to vandalizing property with spray painted triskelions.

Admittedly, in both cases, the original members – and perhaps several generations of members – remain true to the mission of their founding fathers, but it would be wishful thinking of the worst sort to deny that the adoption of their name and style by thugs and hoodlums has not done their organizations any good.

Time to crack down, before someone else dies.

How many more of these young people have to die before schools and the Department of Education take concrete steps? The Anti-Hazing Law is one of the most pointless statutes in the books. In my experience, it ranks up there with “Terms and Policies of Use” as the most un-read and ignored documents anywhere. Hell, the title itself gives the damned thing away: AN ACT REGULATING HAZING AND OTHER FORMS OF INITIATION RITES IN FRATERNITIES, SORORITIES, AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS AND PROVIDING PENALTIES THEREFOR.

Even better, check out Section 4:

Section 4. If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals.

The provision starts with a big IF, and that IF has been the dodge for every fraternity and sorority. If there is physical injury, you’re in trouble, so NO PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. But what authorities ignore is the fact that this actually gives permission for initiation masters to do everything short of breaking skin and drawing blood. And of course, even if you start out with small acts of violence masquerading as taunts, the atmosphere in an initiation is so heady that it becomes easy to graduate to bigger and bigger acts of overt violence.

The rest of the law is no better.

Section 1. Hazing, as used in this Act, is an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.

The term “organization” shall include any club or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Military Academy, or officer and cadet corp of the Citizen’s Military Training and Citizen’s Army Training. The physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as approved ny the Secretary of National Defense and the National Police Commission duly recommended by the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Director General of the Philippine National Police shall not be considered as hazing for the purposes of this Act.

The definition of hazing is retarded. It swings wildly from overbreadth (silly tasks is hazing???) to setting up internal inconsistencies (mentions psychological suffering or injury as a form of hazing but punishes only physical injury).

Section 2. No hazing or initiation rites in any form or manner by a fraternity, sorority or organization shall be allowed without prior written notice to the school authorities or head of organization seven (7) days before the conduct of such initiation. The written notice shall indicate the period of the initiation activities which shall not exceed three (3) days, shall include the names of those to be subjected to such activities, and shall further contain an undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites.

So, it’s the anti-hazing law, but hazing is actually allowed IF with prior notice. Talk about undermining yourself.

Section 3. The head of the school or organization or their representatives must assign at least two (2) representatives of the school or organization, as the case may be, to be present during the initiation. It is the duty of such representative to see to it that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted upon a recruit, neophyte or applicant.

Here, notice the preferential attention given to “physical injuries” despite mentioning psychological suffering in Section 1. This is significant because psychological torture acts a a gateway to physical abuse. When a person inflict psychological suffering on someone, his levels of aggression increase in inverse proportion to the ability of the victim to vocalize resistance. In other words, the more aggressive the initiator is, the less likely the neophyte will be able to shout FOUL! And in that situation, the cocktail of power over a submissive predisposes to the infliction of greater and greater pain.

Notice also that there is no indication of the representatives’ qualifications. They can literally be students themselves. And even if they were faculty, the law does not provide for any mechanism – such as the requirement to submit a report – that would ensure that these representatives actually do what the law intends for them to do.

Section 4. If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals. The person or persons who participated in the hazing shall suffer:

1. The penalty of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment) if death, rape, sodomy or mutilation results there from.

2. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period (17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall become insane, imbecile, impotent or blind.

3. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period (14 years, 8 months and one day to 17 years and 4 months) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have lost the use of speech or the power to hear or to smell, or shall have lost an eye, a hand, a foot, an arm or a leg or shall have lost the use of any such member shall have become incapacitated for the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged.

4. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its minimum period (12 years and one day to 14 years and 8 months) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall become deformed or shall have lost any other part of his body, or shall have lost the use thereof, or shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of more than ninety (90) days.

5. The penalty of prison mayor in its maximum period (10 years and one day to 12 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of more than thirty (30) days.

6. The penalty of prison mayor in its medium period (8 years and one day to 10 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of ten (10) days or more, or that the injury sustained shall require medical assistance for the same period.

7. The penalty of prison mayor in its minimum period (6 years and one day to 8 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged from one (1) to nine (9) days, or that the injury sustained shall require medical assistance for the same period.

8. The penalty of prison correccional in its maximum period (4 years, 2 months and one day to 6 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim sustained physical injuries which do not prevent him from engaging in his habitual activity or work nor require medical attendance.

The responsible officials of the school or of the police, military or citizen’s army training organization, may impose the appropriate administrative sanctions on the person or the persons charged under this provision even before their conviction. The maximum penalty herein provided shall be imposed in any of the following instances:

(a) when the recruitment is accompanied by force, violence, threat, intimidation or deceit on the person of the recruit who refuses to join;

(b) when the recruit, neophyte or applicant initially consents to join but upon learning that hazing will be committed on his person, is prevented from quitting;

(c) when the recruit, neophyte or applicant having undergone hazing is prevented from reporting the unlawful act to his parents or guardians, to the proper school authorities, or to the police authorities, through force, violence, threat or intimidation;

(d) when the hazing is committed outside of the school or institution; or

(e) when the victim is below twelve (12) years of age at the time of the hazing.

The owner of the place where hazing is conducted shall be liable as an accomplice, when he has actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring. If the hazing is held in the home of one of the officers or members of the fraternity, group, or organization, the parents shall be held liable as principals when they have actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring.

The school authorities including faculty members who consent to the hazing or who have actual knowledge thereof, but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring shall be punished as accomplices for the acts of hazing committed by the perpetrators.

The officers, former officers, or alumni of the organization, group, fraternity or sorority who actually planned the hazing although not present when the acts constituting the hazing were committed shall be liable as principals. A fraternity or sorority’s adviser who is present when the acts constituting the hazing were committed and failed to take action to prevent the same from occurring shall be liable as principal.

The presence of any person during the hazing is prima facie evidence of participation therein as principal unless he prevented the commission of the acts punishable herein.

Any person charged under this provision shall not be entitled to the mitigating circumstance that there was no intention to commit so grave a wrong.

This section shall apply to the president, manager, director or other responsible officer of a corporation engaged in hazing as a requirement for employment in the manner provided herein.

Apart from the stupid use of IF at the very top of what should have been the most substantial part of this law, Section 4 is mostly concerned with assigning liability. Which is fine, but again, it detracts from what the primary focus of this law ought to be: preventing hazing from happening.

Now it can be argued that the fear of punishment acts as a deterrent to wrong-doing. True enough, but only when the fear of punishment is presented as a credible threat. Simply naming the people who will be punished – but not laying out the means by which the wrong-doing can be discovered and therefore brought into the criminal justice system – does not establish credibility. At most, this provision creates a kind of frisson of excitement that wrong-doing is being committed with impunity.

Everything else that follows is blah blah.

Section 5. If any provision or part of this Act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the other parts or provisions thereof shall remain valid and effective.

Section 6. All laws, orders, rules or regulations which are inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this Act are hereby amended or repealed accordingly.

Section 7. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) calendar days after its publication in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.

What’s missing in this law?

A prohibition against drinking, for one. This law – despite it’s high-flown title – pretty much just sets out the penalties for hazing, but does not address the known antecedents of hazing, such as the consumption of alcohol. I daresay in some of the shadier organizations, drug use would be involved as well.

Qualifications for the school representatives and a reporting requirement would be very helpful too. Again, what’s the point of assigning representatives when those reps can be practically anyone. It would be better, in fact, if the law could mandate all schools have a designated overseer for all student organizations. Most Guidance Counselor’s offices are already set up for that anyway. Some schools even have that already.

Except, in at least one instance, that “overseer” role has been assigned to the school’s head of security. Stupid. Hazing isn’t a security problem. It’s a lack-of-guidance problem.

Oh and, how about getting rid of all the limp-wristed provisions of this law? Yeah, how about that? How about revisiting this law and making sure that there is no equivocation in its language and that there is no watering down of the protections being given to students.

I understand the fraternity/sorority culture. I am a Greek letter chick myself. And I remain convinced that this culture is a necessary and beneficial part of university life. When things are going great, we provide friendship and support for people who would otherwise be adrift – far from home, bombarded by academic demands and pulled in the opposite direction by the lure of freedom from parental supervision. But we are people too, and people tend to abuse freedoms. So I’m all in favor of clamping down on hazing, not by pretending to eliminate it (which can’t be done) but by providing safety nets and regulations that ensure the survival of everyone who goes through that gauntlet.

If this law were tougher, if it were better crafted, if we had rational regulations, then perhaps people like Servando could be graduating in a year’s time instead of just being dead right now.

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Filed under: education, Filipino, , , , , , , , , , ,

Raped at 12

From a a girl pregnant at eleven, we now have a girl raped at twelve. WTF is going on in the world?

The girl claimed she was raped in the mornings of June 16, June 17, Nov. 25, and Dec. 18 and in the afternoon of Dec. 28. The last incident happened on Jan. 5 when the teacher even allegedly said “Isa pa mamaya huh (Let’s do it again later).”

Almost makes you long for the good old days when criminals could still be drawn and quartered, don’t it?

Actually … news like this makes me think that maybe I should seriously consider homeschooling my future spawn.

In the nearer term, this sort of shit makes me wish that instead of bland and platitude-spouting politicians tooting their own horn, we had real choices with real platforms, especially platforms for improving the public education system and improving protection for children against known – or potential – sex offenders.

Now obviously, this particular predator isn’t the first – and sure as hell not the last – but I’ve got to wonder how these types get to be given the opportunity to be with kids at all.

Filed under: education, law and order, sex, society, , , ,

Schools

I understand school spirit, ok? 

But there are very few things that annoy me more than people who try to use their school as a short-cut to either credibility or respectability.

Granted, the bigger schools have an edge. If you come from UP, Ateneo, La Salle, or UST, people do tend to expect a little more from you. And rightly so. Access to good teachers (for the most part anyway), access to good facilities, and access to a more worldly learning atmosphere … all these things contribute immensely to the quality of the outcome.

However, no matter how good the school is, it really all boils down to the individual. 

I’ve seen a girl from what used to be called the Harvardian College of Laguna take apart someone from UP, by the sheer clarity of her argumentation. The guy from UP was reduced to a blubbering mass of idiot – I’m from UP, so you don’t know anything! – who ended up walking away. I’ve seen a girl from some obscure school I’d never even heard of before deliver a presentation so fucking stellar, everyone asked her if she was from Ateneo. On the other hand, I’ve a friend from UST who’s so ditzy, people routinely assume she’s from … well, you know.

So please. We’re all proud of the schools we come from. But don’t – especially here – for a moment think that your alma mater is gonna substitute forwhat you – as an individual – can bring to the conversation. 

It won’t.

Filed under: education, , , , , , ,

Tracy replies

When I posted the transcript of Tracy Borres’s post and then published my take on it, I didn’t realize that it was one of those wilfd-fire type things that convulse the interwebs from time to time. Since then, many replies have been posted on those two …er, posts. One commenter – ReezenTOT – actually messaged Tracy herself and got a reply. And the girl who inspired many many strong reactions finally gets a word in edgewise.

Yes I am fully aware of the gravity and extent of what is happening right now, but thank you still. =)

Someone stole it from my CONTACTS only account. Sigh sigh. Thing is i know how rude and offensive it sounded but that was because I was expecting it to be read by my friends only who understood a kind of dark quirky humor of mine that really would make other people mad. It was a post meant to be comical (exaggerated rudeness and ditzy-ness, although still not with some truth to it of course) for my friends to laugh at… then of course it leaked. Sigh sigh.

I am just waiting for this to blow over (as typical ‘internet sensations’ usually do), because seriously. People, focus on real issues not on some spoiled sheltered girl. Haha. Again, your note was much appreciated. =)

Let’s deconstruct that because – seriously? – it’s pretty disappointing.

First, she knew that she was being offensive – i know how rude and offensive it sounded

Second, and that she thought only her friends would hear – but that was because I was expecting it to be read by my friends only

Third, but now she knows that the world knows – Yes I am fully aware of the gravity and extent of what is happening right now

Fourth, so what she does is … wait for it to blow over? – I am just waiting for this to blow over as typical ‘internet sensations’ usually do

Whatever you say to a select group of friends is your business and you don’t have to apologize for that – but only if what you say stays within that group. If however – for any reason – that offensive thing you said ever goes beyond that circle of friends and becomes part of the public domain, you lose that excuse that it was said in private.

Your right to swing your elbow ends where my nose begins. 

Within your clique, what you say runs little risk of offending anyone – save for the sensibilities of squeamish friends – like the one who exposed Tracy. In fact, it won’t even offend the very people you were being offensive and crude about. So it’s pretty much a no-harm-no-foul situation. But since Tracy has been exposed, the crudity of her language – the sheer insensitivity of what she considers herr ‘dark quirky humor’ – ceases to be harmless. 

In fact, having her post shared all the over the web – in the process offending not just the Aetas but also the people who have gone through the same immersion hell as her … not to mention nearly everyone and his dog – creates a responsibility for her to at the very least apologize to the people she’s hurt. 

The worst thing Tracy can do is what she’s doing: acting like this tidal wave of reactions is irrelevant or insignificant. She can’t – she shouldn’t – wait for this to just ‘blow over,’ much less use the fact that she’s a self-confessed ‘spoiled sheltered girl’ as an excuse. I know it’s been considered cute or maybe adorable to refer to oneself as a brat or as a spoiled child, but only in good self-deprecating fun. It is not something to be proud of. And if Tracy’s smart enough to admit that that’s what she is, then I expect that she’s also smart enough to know that that is not a good thing, and that the next step after acknowledging the problem is to start fixing it, not embracing it and using it as an excuse for awful behavior. 

People should at least have the grace to act embarassed when they put their foot in their mouths.

Filed under: education, society, , , ,

Tracy’s travails

It’d be so easy to flog this girl for all the things that she wrote – but how can you really turn a blind eye to the jarring honesty she exhibited. Just like with racists, all the hateful things that flowed from her keyboard were simply the product of who she is and the environment she grew up – and hopefully eventually matures – in. People are not born enlightened, after all. And besides, since the text was basically ripped from the pages of facebook, it is pretty safe to assume that her candor is limited to her circle of friends who, presumably do not think too differently. In other words, I doubt that this is the public face she presents and that in general, she is likely to be as politically correct as her most vociferous critics are.

Having said that, what struck me most about her account is that it paints a starkly accurate picture of what it is like to live in some indigenous communities. Her observational skills are respectable, and by recording her impressions side-by-side with her empirical notes, she intuits a sociological approach that highlights not just how things are but how huge the gap is between people like her and people like Aetas. That gap, she shows, cannot be bridged until the biases of those on her side of the abyss are addressed adequately. As she said, before her immersion, she was a naive girl. 

And how many of us have the same problem the first time we sally forth to save the world, with our college diplomas and fiery idealism? What interests me now is how she will proceed from here. Gautama ventured into the squalor and poverty and indignity of the world outside his pleasure dome and went on to achieve enlightenment. Tracy might not end up establishing a world religion, but one hopes that she will eventually learn to look at the Aetas with some compassion and become a genuine crusader for them.

But honestly sorry St. Ignatius, I was NOT immersed. If anything, the trip was like a test of true patience for me and how well I could mentally block everything. Like aside from being the girl in our group who is known for her amazing bladder and colon control skills, I’m like also the girl who can keep sleeping anywhere and everywhere. It was like my spacing-out skills at its finest.

It is normal on the first go to engage in denial – always the first step people take when confronting crisis – or as Tracy says, to “mentally block everything.”  The question is, can progress?  That can only happen when she learns to move her focus from herself and onto the plight of others. Only then, I imagine, will she be able to realize that the purpose of immersion is not to achieve instant enlightenment but to spur self-doubt. Immersion is intended to shake up your pre-conceived notions of how peachy keen the world is; to bombard your senses with information that will give you a better appreciation of how shitty the world actually can be.

Or, she can remain locked in the selfish, shallow, and self-absorbed point-of-view she has now. Instead of Gautama, she might take after Imelda Marcos whose campaign to promote beauty consisted only in covering up the ugly bits. Yep, that outcome is possible too. And if she is unfortunate enough not to be able to break free of that, then I say the blame will fall on those who were supposed to make sense of this immersion for her.

She mentions a paper on her reflections where she will recount her ‘realizations.’ Yeah. Anyone with a firm grasp of all the platitudes can write a reflection paper that will bring a tear to your eye. But what good will that do? 

Many students coming from immersion trips like this take the easy way out and write up their experiences as though they were Oprahclones. And their teachers, when they applaud those relentless epipahanies, are also taking the easy way out. The right way to end immersion experiences like this is to go after the dark, smelly, and clammy impressions you get and working out how best you can use those impressions – those eeks! and ews! – to the benefit of yourself and the depressed community you have just emerged from.

I hope Tracy is lucky enough to have teachers who can shepherd her out of this. Otherwise, we will lose yet another articulate and intelligent young girl to the seduction of materialism and the allure of comfort.

Filed under: education, society, , , , ,

Angry

I understand why people should be infuriated over the rising cost of gasoline and diesel. And I can understand the anger directed at these big oil companies. But I can’t understand why we should stew in our own anger.

The rise in pump prices in inevitable. They go up and they go down, and there’s really nothing anyone can do about that unless they have their fingers on the oil spigot – like OPEC does. During the dictatorship, the public very rarely felt these fluctuations because of the oil Price Stabilization Fund (OPSF) which ‘stabilized oil prices’ by subsidizing the fluctuations. The stability, in other words, was an illusion, still paid for by taxes. It was just that with the OPSF, people weren’t really conscious of the fact that they were still paying, albeit indirectly, for increase.

Regulation is not the answer. On one level, the concept of regulation is a throw-back to our deep seated desire to have someone else take care of our problems for us. On a more pragmatic plane, I’d remind de-regulationists that under the old regulated regime, the major players were practically guaranteed returns on their investments – the entry of new players was severely hampered, creating a virtually captive market for the big boys. With de-regulation, the entry of new players makes lower prices possible since – in theory anyway – consumers will choose the brand with the best cost-benefit ratio. I say in theory because – and this is prolly the reason why de-regulation seems futile – Filipino consumers are so friggin’ brand conscious. I know people who refuse to patronize outfits like SeaOil or Flying V simply because they were unrecognizable brands. This defeats the purpose of allowing new competitors.

So if de-regulation is such a good thing, why are pump prices rising like crazy? The answer is very simple: the pump prices rise because the cost of the raw material – crude oil – continues to skyrocket. So, even if de-regulation acts to bring gas prices down, the mere fact that crude oil gets more expensive by the minute guarantees that you won’t see any noticeable dip in pump prices the way you would if crude were not constantly getting costlier. Oh, and do I even have to mention that we have no control over the cost of crude except perhaps to drive it higher?

Even if the industry were regulated, the cost of crude would still be on the rise, and government would have to keep up with that cost anyway. Increasing the cost of raw materials necessarily increases the cost of the final product. Sure the pump price can prolly be pegged, but behind the peg is the need for government to pay for the difference between the pegged cost and the actual cost. And where will government get the money for that, I wonder?

One could argue that a pegged price will be better for the poor. Sure, it would – but only in terms of buying gas. The money to subsidize the cost has to come from somewhere, and when it does, other important things get under-funded. The annual budget represents, after all, a finite amount of money. If you put money aside for subsidies, other equally important budget items must take cuts.

At this point in the argument, agitprop shifts to its endgame by trotting out the tried-and-tested argument: corruption increases the cost of government. Cut corruption and you’ll generate enough savings to cover the subsidies. True enough, but the negative effects of pegging pump prices are immediate – money gets diverted from defense, education, health, and so on. Whereas the war against corruption is a long-term thing; and the benefits to be derived from it do not accrue in the immediate term either. So, your left with the situation where the disease is already killing you while the super-medicine you’re pinning your hopes on still hasn’t even arrived in the building.

Oil companies are under no obligation to cut their profits for the sake of the Filipino. Does that hurt?

Well, suck it up, bitch.

Despite their press releases and media manipulation and gala charity nights to the contrary, oil companies do not actually feel any moral obligation to sacrifice their margins for the good of the host country. Neither should they. Its a business, for cryin’ out loud, not a charity.

Ultimately, the best weapon we have for forcing oil companies to bring down their prices is to patronize the smaller players who, because of de-regulation, are able sell gas at lower rates. Boycott the big three, for instance, and they will certainly lower their prices to lure customers back. It’s actually as simple as that. Think of it as a restaurant competing against a small canteen.

Jeepney drivers, f’rinstance, will always eat at the cheaper canteen. If the market were all jeepney drivers, the big restaurant will go out of business unless it brings its prices down to compete with the teeny carinderia. That’s common sense. So why do jeepney drivers still line up at the Big Three’s rigs? All the while that they grumble about being victimized, these jeepney drivers actually feed their predators, thereby perpetuating their state of victimization.

Why try to spread anger?

So, the question is, if we’re not doing anything to help ourselves – like maybe choosing to patronize cheaper gas from smaller rigs – what call do we have to try to spread anger? It’s not like getting angry at the Big Three will make them roll back their prices. Hell, what do they care if a handful of Quixotes hurl paint or even shit at their walls when, at the end of the day, these same people buy gas from them anyway. Better by far to just teach people to stay away from these giants and work towards developing a more practical mentality about the whole problem.

Filed under: education, international, news, society, , ,

Wendy Portillo

With the annoying Filipino preoccupation with checking whether an internationally prominent (good or bad, but mostly good) person is of Filipino descent, I tried to determine whether Wendy Portillo had Filipina blood.

Wendy Portillo skyrocketed to notoriety when she had her kindergarten class tell a ‘special’ kid how they found him gross and disgusting and what not and then vote him out of the class. Yep, VOTE. Can you say Survivor?

Obviously, the kid – Alex Barton – survived to live and fight another day (sticks and stones and all that) but the deeper question is, how bad did she psychologically scar the poor guy?

The following night (Thursday), Alex’s mother, Melissa, overheard Alex saying “I’m not special” over and over again. According to his mother, Alex is reliving the incident. Mrs. Barton stated “He was incredibly upset” and “The only friend he has ever made in his life was forced to do this”.

I’ve heard of bullies and abusive teachers; even some that have inflicted much more heinous forms of humiliation on annoying students, but Portillo’s idiocy really takes the cake simply because of the age of her victim. I mean, the kid is all of fuckin’ five! And the kid’s best friend even recounted how he was bullied by the teacher into changing his vote when he initially voted to keep Alex in the class. What the fucking hell was the woman thinking?

Oh, wait. She has said that she didn’t think she did anything wrong. How screwed up is that? Come to that, if she didn’t think she erred, how many times has she actually done this before?

Wendy Portillo is a stupid whore. She may be a competent teacher in other ways, but nothing excuses the stunt she pulled. I only pray that her teaching license is revoked so she can’t do this to anyone else.

Oh yeah. And I hope the bitch isn’t Filipino.

Filed under: education, international, science, , , , , ,

Jobs

We’ve got a blog carnival going on over at Filipino Voices and the topic for this very first carnival is JOBS. Check it out starting tomorrow.

Filipino Voices will hold a blog carnival every second and fourth Sunday of the month. Each topic will be announced that week and all submissions must be made no later than 12 noon of that Sunday.

~

I love my job, I admit it. I’m a happy worker. It’s part-time so I don’t make much, but it’s enough to keep my grad school fund slowly growing. I don’t have a car of my own and I’m not above bumming a ride from friends now and again. My boss isn’t a pain in the neck nor is she my best friend so, we’re colleagues and that’s exactly how I want it to be. I have a good friend in the office, but we’re not bff’s so there’s no pressure to “hang out” – again, exactly how I want it.

My friend (from the apartment building where I live when I’m not being my mother’s daughter) Chick works the graveyard at a call center. I call her Chick because her boyfriend’s name is Ken. I could have called her Barbie but that’s not how my mind works. She loves her job too, because it pays enough for her to have an interesting Friday night out twice a month; because it pays enough to keep her in Greenhills-designer bags and tight-fitting camisoles; because it pays enough that she can afford a mocha frap at Starbucks three days a week; because it pays enough that she can convince herself she can delay taking the CPA board one more year.

I went to a job fair recently, and I was struck by how pretty everyone was. Even the guys. I filled out a couple of forms – nothing serious, really, just wanting to get a feel of how it will be like when I finally get out of school. While I was laying my chicken scratches on the forms, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversations of the hiring people. It was so valley-girl. So hollywood-cliche. Everyone just “loooooooved” the new song, and “ohhhh myyyyy gawd!” wasn’t Paolo so cute? And they were “like, shit PAAAAAAHre! the ride was so sweeeeeeeet!” and  everyone had a “pad” or a “flat.” If this was what new graduates were exposed to at these job fairs, then it’s not surprising that so many kids are flocking to call centers. The bait – although I doubt that the ‘bait’ actually realized that was in the fine print of their HR contracts – was pretty goddamned irresistible. Good thing I read alot when I was a kid; I was no stranger to the house made of candy and cakes that so entranced Hansel and Gretel.

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Malthus got this one right

Heaven after Hell. That sums it up neatly for me, I think, the effect of the Roman Catholic church on Philippine society, and what it promises – especially in the context of the current rice situation.

Time to face facts: there’s too many people and too little rice. It’s not even about the cost of rice anymore (which makes that populist grandstanding about a moratorium of VAT even more stupid), but the very availability of the damned grain. From the third rice tender this year, we expected to get 500,000 metric tones of rice from international bidders, but only 325,750 metric tons was actually on offer. So how do we make up the shortfall? Even with that ludicrous rice subsidy they have going on, the supply simply isn’t there.

Worse, whatever rice is available is being snapped up at a much faster rate than normal. The idea of a looming crisis has activated the panic-buying switch in everyone. Now, it’s not just the big traders hoarding rice, it’s the small consumers. Or should I say the pseudo-small consumers?

You see, some well-off families have been gaming the system. When you reach a certain income bracket, people eat more often at restaurants than at home. For these people, the rice they buy is mostly for the house-help and the pets. Ironically, in the circles I know, these are also the largest purchasers of cheap rice. With most of these upper-income families employing at least two – up to six – house-help, they are able to buy more at those street side selling points.

First thing they do is they go quite a distance from where they actually live. When they find a selling point, the helpers line up with everyone else, only they are spaced about two-three people apart. Most of the time, they’re not noticed as strangers. But when they are, they just say they’re from so-and-so depressed community and that that place ran out of rice. They then give the sob story about having had to walk or travel far just to find rice. It’s clever, really. This story reinforces the notion that there is a shortage, and sets people a-twitter. In short order, they forget that their are strangers among them.

Once they get their quota of cheap rice, these helpers walk walk walk. Eventually, they all meet up, get in the re-conditioned van they use for going to the market and drive on home.

Last night, a friend of mine told me this story, practically beaming with pride at how canny her septuagenarian father is. Some part of me wanted to share her pride at this cultural stereotype being proven right, but a bigger part of me wanted to smack her upside the head. We’re not foreigners anymore, bitch.

But she did make one other point tho’. Part of the problem is that there are just too many people competing for a small and finite supply of rice. And for this, I blame Holy Mother Church.

Solita Monsod recently said the Church makes no difference; that people make family size decisions regardless of what the church says. I say that’s not quite accurate. While it is true that people don’t really take the Church all that seriously, the fact is the government does. And because the government is slavish to the Church it has, against all good sense, refused to make information about contraception and planned parenthood unavailable (thanks for the edit, Jeg) to the masses. Worse, condoms and IUDs are no longer given out at health centers. So, even if people actually wanted to limit the size of their families, they simply don’t know how to do it. And even if they did, they can’t get their hands on the birth control methods they need. It is this pernicious, albeit indirect, influence of the Church on the size of Filipino families that all but guarantees life on this earth can get pretty hellish.

At least in this beautiful country, it appears that Malthus was right on the money.

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