Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy 150, Dr. Jose Rizal!

A hundred and fifty years old, that is our national hero, Jose Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonso Realonda. To friends and family, Pepe, to us common men, Jose Rizal. On the 19th June 1861, never did any Spaniard expect that one man, a not too tall or fair one, a common-looking man, would be born to spur an oppressed nation into fighting for their freedom. Never have the Spaniards seen the potent powers of this short young man from Calamba, that he would be able to inspire millions of Filipinos from all over the nation. Pepe was truly a one-of-a-kind Filipino. The first Filipino, as the historians would say. A renaissance man, that even other Asian countries praise his various works.

After a hundred and fifty years of existence, hundreds of writings and tons of contribution to building our nation’s history, how do we take Rizal to heart? Does he still inspire Filipinos of today?

In one forum held at the Philippine Embassy here in Washington DC, one of the speakers, Trixie Herrera, who is a descendant of Narcisa, one of Pepe’s sisters, talked about her roots and how to “Rizalize” the present and the future. She did a little elaboration on how to go about it, and I agree with her in all of her examples of how to do it. After the talk, I asked myself how can I, as a regular Filipino, “Rizalize” the nation?

Rizal indeed taught us many lessons that we Filipinos could be inspired and emulate in our daily lives. I will only enumerate and elaborate on three. These three Rizal traits I believe, may be used to Rizalize our nation’s present and future.

In my early years as a student of Philippine History, I found myself amazed at how much Rizal had contributed not just in our nation’s history, but also in art, literature and science. He never ceased to want to learn. Even when in exile, he learned new things. He never stopped learning despite having mastered at least 5 languages, mastered Opthalmology, and wrote a few books. He just kept on learning. Here’s the first “Rizalizing” trait I think we Filipinos should emulate: Never cease to learn. Learning does not end in a College Degree, nor does it end in having a child. He who ceases to learn ceases to live. That is one way a Filipino can Rizalize his life.

Another way to Rizalize the nation is to strive to be the best that every Filipino can be. Rizal showed us how the brown race can be at par with any other race in the world. He was persecuted in his early days in Letran and Ateneo because of his color, but these did not stop him from being excellent. Her showed that he could be equally great in the medical profession as he studied in Spain. He showed the world that a Filipino has every right to be great with his various writings and teachings. He showed how a Filipino should stand in the grand scheme of things. Competitiveness, that is how we could further Rizalize our values.

Remember the famous Rizal quote? Who wouldn’t? Every Filipino in one way or another, has come across the saying, “Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, ay masahol pa sa malansang isda.” I myself am ashamed of having written this in English, but of course, the bottomline of this saying is not just the language, but the total package of being a Filipino. Rizal, for one, had many encounters where he was teased and made fun of because of his brown complexion. In his earlier days, he would often get into fights because of his color. He fought for it to the very end. He wanted equality among the white race in the Philippines. He died for it. We got it afterwards. How do we Rizalize the present then? We should be proud to be Filipinos, and continuously work to uplift our race, wherever we may be. Rizal had left the country to study abroad, and he came back to help improve the country. Our OFWs can do the same. Work abroad, learn new things, apply them in the Philippines. Work abroad, gain enough capital, invest in the Philippines, generate new jobs, teach, improve the country.

Some might say that it’s a daunting and very difficult task, but I think every Filipino, in one way or another, can od at least one of these ways to Rizalization. Rizal did it a hundred years ago, when the world was far more oppressing and difficult. In this technology age, the sky is the limit in reaching our potential.

Mabuhay ang ika-150 taon ng kaarawan ni Dr. Jose Rizal! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Eat Bulaga's Bayanihan of the People: A Variety Show with Sense

What makes Eat Bulaga the undisputed noontime show in the Philippines? It's the dynamic trio's wits, ways, and their ability to keep on innovating to keep up with the changing times. This time, they changed from the all-fun variety show into a "bayanihan" type of sharing wealth and fun to others.

Bayanihan is an innate Filipino characteristic where a group helps each other to attain a common goal. A perfect example of Bayanihan, or in English helping hand, is the way we do our outreach programs in times of emergency or tragedy. We saw last year how we helped each other after Ondoy struck our neighborhoods. This and a lot more recent experiences have shown that the bayanihan spirit among Filipinos is still alive.

This is Eat Bulaga's latest theme in its segment "All for Juan, Juan for All." This segment not only gives tons of laughter from Tito, Vic and Joey, and their newly-formed trio of Jose, Wally and Paolo. The new trio are embedded into the communities to provide fun, laughter, and prizes and surprises as they walk in the streets of their target barangay/village. Vic Sotto selects from the raffle entries in the home studio on which house the trio will attack and give prizes to, then Jose and the gang will do their thing, giving away cash prizes and gift packs from their major sponsors. This, alongside life's lessons on how to further their lives are what jose, Wally and Paolo offers to the residents.

The segment does not stop there. Other than giving out prizes, Eat Bulaga also asks from their target barangays. They will ask each of the hopeful residents to donate at least three empty plastic bottles, while falling in a line with numbers. When the number that they were stepping on gets picked by Vic, they will instantly win cash prizes. Each of the people who lined up in numbers 1-100 will each get cash prizes. Eat Bulaga will then take the plastic bottles that they brought to the line, and give them to plastic manufacturers. These manufeacturers will then turn these bottles into monoblock armchairs that will then be claimed by Eat Bulaga to give out to schools come school day. Now this is what I call sustainable and meaningful gift-giving.

Now, after Vic Sotto's April birthday, it has since became his year-long wish for people to give him gifts of school supplies so that they could share it with the less-fortunate barangays/schools during schooltime. And since then, the outpouring of love and generosity among our brothers and sisters showered upon what used to be an all-fun variety show. Eat Bulaga instantly became the official bayanihan variety show of the country. From a simple show segment, this has turned into a successful avenue to help our countrymen improve their lives, and our children to continue their education.

May Eat Bulaga and their crusade for better education be an example to each and every variety show in the country. Never has a variety show been this meaningful. This and many other simple yet meaningful actions make me think that there is indeed hope for the Filipino people. Mabuhay ang Eat Bulaga!

As for me, I thank God that I am able to watch Eat Bulaga even when I thousands of miles away from Manila. Yahoo!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The 2011 NBA Champions: The Dallas Mavericks

In the end, it is indeed a team that wins a game. This is a tough but very important lesson taught to us by the Dallas Mavericks. When everyone in the team is united towards a specific goal, that team succeeds. As for the Mavs, their eagerness (is an understatement) and longingness for an NBA Championship just simply took them to it.

Each and every Mav had this goal. That one ring to rule them all. Most, if not all of the players in the team reach as far to the playoffs, but failed until this year. Dirk and Jason Terry witnessed how Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat snatched their supposedly dominating regime in the 2006 season. Wade and the Heat came back from a 0-2 slump in the finals to win the championship in 6 games. Dirk and Terry lost almost all their comrades, including their coaching staff. What happened next for them was a series of first-round exits from 2007 to 2010, including a shameful first-round defeat to the 8th seeded Golden State Warriors a year after their championship experience. If there were two players most eager to win the ring, it was these two original Mavs.

Jason Kidd was also an epic fail to win championships. In New Jersey, he won season MVP and a slot in the Finals, but not the championship ring. He was always in a very successful, high-seeding team, but they always come short of entering the finals. He waited for 17 years. He almost joined the ranks of those called “greatest players who never won a championship.” He trusted his comrades, and they trusted his leadership and coolness. At 38, he won the championship.

The supporting cast are no stranger to failures as well. Shawn Marion witnessed how they fell many times to the domination of Kobe and the Lakers. Peja Stojakovic is also a Lakers casualty. Both West-based superstars in their prime, Marion and Peja are victims of championship dynasties. This time, it was their turn to rejoice.

The Mavericks proved that winning a championship takes not just talent, but also heart and determination. They relied on their lone-superstar and leader, Dirk Nowitzki, and when he’s slumping, the other guys stepped up and gave them the needed boost. Players knew their role when they stepped in the Mavericks team, and that role was kept and maintained, keeping the camaraderie and unity amongst comrades.

They had two star centers in Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler, and each respected one another so much, they looked so comfortable when subbing each other. They knew their role, they played it, and succeeded.

Jose Juan Barea proved to be a strong replacement to ageing Jason Kidd. When it is needed for him to step up, he never fails his teammates. He had his share of game-winning plays and baskets.

Despite the strength they showed in the season and the playoffs, the Miami Heat, lacked that sense of magical touch. Indeed, the camaraderie and rapport of their version of the Big three: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh was awesome and fun to watch, what they lacked was a supporting cast that could fit in their “clique.” This, coupled with lack of having a go-to-guy among the three, seemed to have contributed to their loss. In late-game situations, it seems that all three shy away from being the main man or the go-to-guy, and the result is a loss by a few points. One should have taken over, but too shy to shoot so he passes to another guy who is too shy to shoot so he hesitates, until time runs out and they lose a game by five points or less. That is one problem of having three Superstars in one team.

They had sensational players in their roster, like the streak shooting Mike Miller and dynamic point-guard Mike Bibby, however, they found it difficult to swallow the fact that they demoted themselves from star-players to role-players. It seemed like they failed to adjust their respective statuses, missing a myriad of shots, losing a few possessions, losing concentration.

Udonis Haslem was their most reliable defender and rebounder, but he can’t be the only supporting cast. Yes, Mario Chalmers had his share of good games and when he does good, they often win the game. However, Chalmers sometimes lets his great game get into his head, forgetting that he is not one of the “Big Three.” The result? Lost possessions, loss in games. And who are the other notable supporting cast? I was too busy watching the big three to recall the other John Does in the team. Oh yes, Juwan Howard is in that team as he wants to wear a Championship ring so he could brag that he’s the only member of the Michigan Fab Five to win a championship. But of course, his pep talk didn’t do much to win a championship.

The Mavericks showed that focus, teamwork and depth are all important components in winning the crown. The 2010-2011 season showed that fusion of stars is not a perfect formula, as shown by Chicago, Memphis and Oklahoma City. NBA teams should rethink their strategy.

As for LeBron, he still has plenty of years under his sleeve. He can learn from his mistakes and focus in the future. Jason Kidd patiently waited for 17 years for a championship. He could probably do the same.

For now, Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Chandler, Marion, Stevenson, Peja, Haywood, Barea and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks deserved the championship ring.

Now, Mark Cuban should stop bashing the NBA.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pinoy: Maging Tunay Kang Henyo

When does one’s love for country end? As for me, I have been away from my mother land for 5 months now, and it seems that my new home (at least for the next five months) offers the best and the brightest for me and my family. Never have I seen as much species of birds in the metropolis, ducks hovering around parks without worry of being “Pekinged,” People running and jogging in parks without worrying about their health and safety, parks and monuments free of vandalism and destruction, a totally different package from where I was raised and grew up.

It is sad to see that from where I was, it gets much worse every day. As I watch from a local channel to get updated to the news, I see the current events of a worsening nation. Fishkill, flooding, lack of school supplies and buildings, Kris Aquino quitting showbiz, and many others.

Even when I watch what is supposedly a fun lunch-time variety show, I get dismayed by the fact that kids and teens nowadays don’t know much about Philippine History and Geography anymore. In Eat Bulaga’s segment “Pinoy Henyo,” the hosts give the most mundane Filipino terms, places and people, which I think should be answered in a few seconds. But when it comes to Philippine places and heroes, Filipino kids of today are lagging behind. The Pinoy Henyo game is rather simple. A team of two persons need to guess the correct word in one’s forehead by asking the right questions to his/her partner. The partner can only answer questions with a “Yes, No,” or “Puwede (Could be?!),” until the person guesses to word using those questions. Teams were very good with pop terms like the network GMA’s artists, or even mundane objects like a belt or dipper (tabo). What’s frustrating is that when it comes to Philippine Geography, kids tend to get lost in translation. Here’s one sample:

The Term is “Bukidnon”

A: Lugar?
B: Oo
A: Sa Pilipinas?
B: Oo
A: Sa Metro Manila?
B: Hindi
A: sa Luzon?
B: Hindi!
A: Sa Visayas?
B: Hindi!
A: Sa Mindanao?
B: Hindi!

WHERE ELSE COULD IT BE?!?!?! It turns out that the kid didn’t know where Bukidnon was. Time was up and they didn’t a single cent.

This is a mere reflection of how not just Philippine politics, but even culture and tradition, has been deteriorating. So as a person from outside looking in, I am compelled not to stay where I am, where the grass is greener and the pockets are fuller, but to go back to my mother land in due time and help curb whatever is deteriorating in our system. I feel a great sense of hope and faith in our people that someday, we will once again be Southeast Asia’s Tiger Economy.

As the cliché goes, it all starts with the self. We Filipinos need to learn a lot about ourselves, because the more we learn about ourselves, the more we can brag about it and be confident. The more confident we become, the stronger mindset we will have. The stronger mindset, the farther we can proceed. The technology age has helped us bring closer information, so close that we no longer need to travel miles to visit a library and process information. It is in the palm of our hands. Scholars nowadays use IT more and more to bring information closer to the people. Information is there, all we need is to reach out for it and grab it, and learn it.

The Philippines, amidst its bad news, has plenty of good news to offer, we just need to focus more on the brighter side. For example, our economy grew by a higher-than-expected mark. Instead of criticizing where the growth is coming from, let’s use the information, sustain it, learn from it, and proceed. The Peso is strengthening. This means we should further our business domestically and start becoming self-sustaining. Transportation plans are starting to execute. Let us support it and don’t shoot it down. The more we shoot it down, the more we shoot ourselves in the foot, the more we would limp forward.

So when will I stop loving my country? I say never. I will ensure that my kids will learn and speak the Filipino language, that they would learn and honor the values of resiliency, respect for family, and nationhood, all those that make a Filipino great and unique from other nationalities. In due time, I will go back to the Philippines, apply my new learnings to my motherland, and help ensure that my motherland will be a better place for my kids and their kids.

Filipinos in other countries should do the same. Leave if you must, learn new things, be proud of your roots, go back to the Philippines, help in the most sustainable way possible. How? Retire in the Philippines, buy property, put up a business, teach in colleges, adopt a child to go to college, adopt a provincial classroom or student, respect and obey the rules, be a proud Filipino.

I am confident and hopeful that in my lifetime, I will see a better and brighter Philippines.

Friday, June 03, 2011

American Airlines Stadiums are busy!!!

It's the 2006 NBA Finals all over again! Once again, the two teams whose stadiums are named after one of the US' top airlines, are back to either avange their defeat, or have a second take over the other. Dirk's Dallas are up against Wade's (or Lebron's? or Bosh's? No, not Bosh's) Miami. It's Offense of the West versus the all-out defense of the East in this year's biggest basketball spectacle.

Dwyane wants to repeat a 2006 championship experience, this time with bossom buddies Chris Bosh and LeBron James, all of which were drafted the same year in 2003. With the help of has-been guard Mike Bibby (he chose to be a has-been by joining this team), loyal Power Forward co-captain Udonis Haslem, streak-shooting Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers, and defensive-minded Joel Anthony, this team plans to gain its second championship since being an expansion draft back in the 80's. On the other hand, a roster of shooters and slashers with Dirk at the helm, 38-year old but still very reliable point guard Jason Kidd, Shawn "The Matrix" Marion, "The Jet" Jason Terry, Peja Stojackovic, DeShawn Stevenson, and JJ Barea, try to bring home its first-ever NBA championship crown.

I am supposed to be rooting for the Miami Heat for I am a D-Wade fan, but this time, I'm going to side with Dirk's Mavericks. Jason Kidd is deserving of a championship crown for his exceptional performance all these years. Having survived a career-threatening injury, Jason Kidd proved that he is one of the best point guards the NBA has to offer. He could still match up with any young point guards of today. And did you see his sticky defense against Kevin Durant? Truly an exceptional player. And for that, I am for the Mavericks.

Game one showed that Miam was a dominant force to reckon with. And this game gave Dirk a series-threatening finger injury, causing his shooting to slump to below his normal average. Miami took on game 1.

Yesterday, Dallas showed that they should always be taken seriously, even if they are down 15 points. I was about to sleep because with only 6 minutes to go in the game, Dallas was down 15 points. I thought to myself, with Miami's big three shooting big hoops this game, looks like the Mavs are going to Dallas with a 0-2 win-loss record. But lo and behold, with just 3:00, the Mavs were able to turn the game around and I found myself awestruck with the sight of the Mavs leading by three with only 26.5 seconds remaining in the ball game, after a dazzling rainbow shot by the dangerous Dirk. Miami was able to tie the game after Chalmers' surprise corner three-pointer, but Dirk once again nailed the final basket for Dallas to take home the win. Now, it's down to a best-of-five series, with Dallas hosting the next three games.

The past two games showed that these two teams will give us an exciting best-of-seven series in this year's NBA Finals. Can't wait for game three!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Moshpitting and Crowd surfing with the Nostalgic Weezer!!! - 21 May 2010

What better way to jumpstart the summer heat than to enjoy artful nostalgia with the 90's rock band Weezer?! DC was fortunate to witness Weezer play their greatest hits in this year's DC Chili Cookoff sponsored by radio station DC101. The Chili Cookoff was held at the parking grounds of the RFK Stadium, the home of the Major League Soccer team DC United. Panic! at the Disco, Neon Trees, Papa Roach, Seether, Middle Class Rut, and Paper Tongues played alongside the 90s hitmakers. Of course, all the bands did not disappoint as they all played famous hits like Panic!'s "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," Neon Trees' addicting tune "Animal," and Papa Roach's "Last Resort."

The repertoire was perfect! Weezer played famous hits like "Hashpipe, Island in the Sun, Say it Ain't So, Sweater Song, Surf Wax America," and their recent hit "Beverly Hills." To cap the electric evening, they played one of their most famous hits, "Buddy Holly," and the crowd went crazy, as boys and girls ride the crowd surf, others sing along, while the rowdier ones creat mosh pits. Truly and exhilarating experience! 

Despite the boring food (I don't really get why they call it a chili cookoff without the chili...) the event was fun and exciting. People, despite having been drunk in the middle of the blazing sun, enjoyed the music and magic of the whole afternoon. I even saw parent expose their children (as young as 12) to American pop culture. And that day, it felt like we were in the middle of Miami beach as we were surrounded by bikini-clad ladies!

I hope to see more bands play here. Too bad the U2 concert is in Baltimore and it happens on a weekday. I hope they play in Verizon or the RFK Stadium. 

Go Weezer! Yahoo! 

Here's an excerpt of Buddy Holly with the crowd surfers:

Some photos:
Neon Trees

Panic! At the Disco

Papa Roach

Awaiting the Arrival of the big W

"Say It Ain't So"

Rivers Cuomo

Taking their Bows

Couple with friend (candid)

One heck of a good time!

"And it makes me feel so fine I can't control my brain..." --Island in the Sun