Are we Filipinos still worth dying for?

Elections is over. The most divisive and brutal election season I have ever encountered is finally drawing to a close. Mar Roxas and Grace Poe, the two “closest” rivals to Duterte has conceded defeat.

While I have already prepared myself for a Duterte presidency, I cannot begin to fathom or accept how people can vote for Bongbong Marcos. How easy it is for people to forget the atrocities of Marcos’ regime. How apparently senseless the death of Ninoy Aquino and countless other martyrs have been.

Before I have resigned myself that should Duterte win, I may as well watch him and make sure he does bring the change he claims he will do to our country — the scary violent change he promises. I told myself, I may even consider going to public office – working for the government – in order to watch from within.

But as of late, I have been thinking of a different thing. I am led to believe that it is hopeless and just want to do away with everything. Let go of my nationalistic tendencies and turn my back to actually making a positive change in this country through servant leadership. I have thought about, one day, running for president – even claiming this as my biggest ambition in life. An ambition born not because of greed or hunger for power but because of a real desire to serve the Filipino nation. Call it my highest form of idealism (or should it be idiocy?).

Seeing how brutal the last election was, I am led to question how, an honest public servant, can really withstand the mudslinging and stress of the candidacy. But I can push on had I have more belief in the Filipino nation whom I wish to serve. Sadly, that belief evaporated as I saw more and more people willing to go back to the times of the past.

Will I be selfish if I try to be more pragmatic and choose my family’s well being first? A well-being that I can assure if I go to a first class nation – and in the process – bring them with me too. A place that will offer peace and prosperity albeit far from the native land – a land I am no longer sure of what it is becoming of.

At this point I don’t know what to believe of my countrymen anymore. I am moved to apathy – jaded by the calls to nationalism. How can someone be nationalistic in a land that is divided all on its own?

Conserving Manila’s Heritage Sites

Today I read this article in ABS-CBN News Online about the social commentary of Dolce Amore, a prime time soap about the degenerating status of heritage sites in Manila. The show went to Paco Park which I’ve also visited and found to be barely maintained. They also went to Luneta Park and discussed how the local government can allow, in the name of increased revenues, an eyesore to be built.

dolce amore
Source: ABS CBN News Online

I find it really sad that the local government of Manila has failed to identify what the city is capable of. In a bid to be like Makati or Quezon City or the other cities in Metro Manila, they have allowed capitalists to enter and build business structures around the city – in the process destroying the heritage sites.

Manila could have been a great city had it stuck to a well-thought out development plan. She could have been an old university town filled with various universities and cultural sites. They could have concentrated on that – developing a vibrant, safe and pollution-free (or lessened) university belt. Sadly, even though there are many universities in the area, the students live in fear of petty criminals and risk their lives in vehicle-infested roads. Slums surround the campuses adding to the pollution and derelict view of the area.

Parks – pocket parks – are virtually non-existent since those that exist have become home to homeless people. The only lung in Manila left has been virtually forgotten. The once grand architectural wonder buildings have been discarded – left to rot until they are eventually destroyed to make way for “better and modern” ones.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Manila City Legend: Green – Parks; Dark Blue – University Zone; Red – High Intensity Industrial Zone; Yellow – High Density Residential Zone Click image to view clearly Source: Wikipedia

I am saddened that my children may never see Manila with her cultural heritage intact. I, myself, am sad that what I see are mere vestiges of a once glorious past.

Shall I stay on the sidelines? But what can I do?

A visit to these derelict sites, which I’ve always planned but never do, is, I believe, the start.

Government Now Online

Applying for most government requirements are now conveniently online. In recent years, the Philippines has made a shift to automate many government processes that are prone to long queues. It’s not yet perfect but give it a little more time and we will surely have an efficient system hopefully like the developed countries. 

Since I’ll be taking the PRC Exam for Real Estate Brokers, I have to comply with several government requirements such as an NSO Birth Certificate and an NBI Certificate. 

First, the PRC Application was online. They wouldn’t accept walk-in applications. It’s ok although the website could use some more updating since I had trouble making the fields with search buttons work. 

NSO E-Census

The National Statistics Office now has an online portal where you can apply for your birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, CENOMARs, etc. Everything can be done online and you can just request for your documents to be sent to you via courier. It’s very convenient especially if you have work to attend to during regular business hours. You don’t need to take time off work just to fall in line and get these documents. 

I applied for my birth certificate online and made the payment via BDO Over The Counter payment mode. The payment options are a bit limited but still convenient. 

I’m now just waiting for the LBC to deliver my documents. 

To learn how it’s done, here’s a good guide. 

NBI Clearance 

Another source of headaches is the application for NBI Clearance. I distinctly remember my first NBI Clearance application. It was for my passport and since I was in college that time, I got it from the Quezon City branch. It was nightmarish due to the long lines and the dirty fingers (finger printing was a hassle) afterwards. When I started working, I applied at the provincial NBI office which had the same long lines until I discovered that it’s best to queue in the afternoons – when they’ll nearly close. When the biometrics way of fingerprinting was implemented, I was so grateful. 

Now, I’m thankful that we can apply online for the NBI Clearance especially that I’m now based in Manila. 

Application is really a breeze. Just create an account online, select your application, make the necessary payments and set an appointment to visit an NBI office. 

Here’s a guide. 

Everything was a breeze until I reached the NBI office. No blog I’ve read prepared me for what I experienced. 

I chose the NBI office in Robinsons Galleria because it’s the nearest to me and I surmise it’s better inside the mall (hello airconditioning). My appointment was in the morning and since the mall opens at 10am, I went to work first, left at 11am (lunch break) and arrived at 11:40. The line was long when I arrive at Basement 1. Thankfully I had enough common sense to look at signs and ask questions. 

Everywhere there were notices saying 

Huwag lang pila ng pila. Kumuha ng numero at antayin tawagin. 

(Don’t just fall in line. Get a number and wait to be called.)

The system at the office was you get a number, go to the waiting area and wait to be called. Make sure you have your online application and reference number for a faster process. And don’t lose the transaction number because you’ll need it. 

There were a lot of people in the waiting area and I was tempted to go home. I felt like my number would take forever to call. But the process was relatively quick. They call the numbers in batches of 50. Just be sure to bring entertainment or work to keep you occupied and make sure you’ve eaten so as not to be hungry. 

The entire process took me 3 hours mainly due to the waiting lines. But once it was my turn, everything was smooth sailing as long as my files are in order. 

Overall, I applaud the government for attempting to have an online facility to easily process these forms. Although not perfect, with everyone’s cooperation we can definitely come to a point when requesting government forms becomes a breeze through online applications. 

Love Won? 

#LoveWins has been all over the net eversince the July 26 ruling of the US Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage in all states. Yet despite the “love” supposedly oozing out of the hashtag, what I got were criticisms for views I’ve long held. 

It’s true I do not agree with the ruling. My Christian upbringing and my faith and beliefs make me believe otherwise. I will not apologize for my faith. It is my stand. I believe it is wrong to turn marriage into something else it was not intended to be in the first place. 

But then does it mean I love my gay friends any less? Does it mean I disrespect them and will callously treat them refusing them my help if needed? By all means NO. My love and respect for them remains. I still hold on to my opinion that some of the best people I’ve worked with are gays. Being in Marketing, I’ve encountered a lot of creative, industrious and resourceful gay people and I’ve been blessed to have them as friends and be with their company. 

And if they need me, if their world crumbles, I won’t hesitate to lend a shoulder, a listening ear and any help I can give. 

But this doesn’t mean I agree or support same-sex marriage. The Bible is clear on its stand against homosexuality and as someone who believes in it completely I cannot and will not compromise beliefs just to fit the opinions of the majority or even just to fit in and be popular. 

I would rather endure persecution for my beliefs than live in comfort knowing I have sacrificed them.

So do I contradict my beliefs when I say I love and respect my gay friends but do not support same-sex marriage? 

No. I don’t. 

For just as the Bible gives clear lines against right and wrong so does it teaches me to love unconditionally. To love others as Jesus loves me. 

If Jesus could love and forgive a sinner like me then how much more should I love and forgive others? 

It’s hard to understand. Hard to comprehend. I know. In a world that advocates relativism of right and wrong, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand what love truly is. 

And as debates spring up across all corners of the globe over this ruling which can have numerous impact and repercussions for future rulings, I can see how love has really lost and not won. For when people start bashing each other over unpopular beliefs and for expressing seemingly contradicting opinions then it’s not love that’s displayed but hatred, narrowed-mindedness and disrespect. 

The Unlikely Ascent to Presidency

Whenever I tell people I want to become President of the Philippines someday, they ask me – then why are you not in politics or any politically related career right now? They think that I ought to be running for barangay chairman at the very least or if not working as part of someone’s cabinet.

But despite my ever nagging desire since childhood to serve at the topmost position in the country, I have also this predisposition that it won’t happen in a conventional way.

It won’t be because I am born of a political family. It won’t be because I have demonstrated aptitude in political office for X number of years. It won’t be because I am a veteran at politics and all the traps that come with it.

No. Rather, it will be because God says so.

Pretty far fetch for the most pragmatic mind right? Many would argue to leave God out of it. That roots, connections and lots of money are what is needed to win a presidency. But I disagree.

In fact, I wouldn’t want the position if I know for certain that God is not with me. For without Him, I would be walking into a death trap. I would probably be swallowed alive by a system so corrupt many have lost faith in it already.

But I haven’t. I believe that the Philippines can be turned for good. That like her ASEAN neighbors she can also rise from the ashes and ascend to a glorified spot at the top. Already, we know we have one of the fastest rising GDP in the region. Shocking if we take a look at the seemingly non-improvement of the lives around us but economics tells us that we are on the rise.

As I mull over how in 4 election cycles I will be qualified to vie for Presidency, I am struck at how the current Presidential 2016 elections is fanning out.

A year ago many dreaded that the only vocal – and most likely to win candidate – was Binay. Those who opposed him dug up so much dirt to mar his image to the doting public  that many were disillusioned with him. The impact was made regardless of the many counter measures the Binay camp attempted. After carefully placing his pawns in place during the previous elections, he now threads on precarious waters.

And yet, majority concur that his chances of winning remain high. The other candidates are equally marred and the public are also disillusioned of what they can do.

However from this seemingly lose-lose situation comes a beacon of hope – Grace Poe. A quiet politician who ran for Senate and emerged at the top. She did her job well serving as MTRCB Chief and many recognized her silent fortitude. The fact that she was also fighting to clear the name of her deceased father, Fernando Poe aided to her cause. Despite the reservations if she will make a good lawmaker, she proved herself time and time again to be a brilliant and humble public servant.

Now, as someone who has captured the public’s heart, she is eyed to be one of the contender for Presidency. And not just some contender but someone with the seal of trust of the current President as someone who can continue his projects. That endorsement would go a long way to securing Poe a seat in the Palace for despite criticisms against PNoy, many still contend that he has done more good than harm for the country.

This is in stark contrast to her possible opponents – Binay and Mar Roxas to name a few. Both Binay and Roxas through years of political career and strategic planning have planted in various places people who will aid them to their cause of being president. They are your traditional politicians. Note: I am not using trapo here to mean a negative thing. It’s just that they are your typical politicians who slowly but surely rose up the ranks. They played by the book. And now they are eyeing the top spot.

Grace Poe didn’t play by the book. She didn’t rise up the ranks of a political career. She has no people in strategic positions. She does not come from a political family. She’s not someone with an arsen of resources she can use to ensure she wins at all cost. She’s a wildcard entry. Yet being one, she is a welcome breath of fresh air.

In the Bible, there are many stories of unlikely ascent to power.

There’s Joseph from Genesis who despite being a slave and prisoner found himself to be the second most powerful man in Egypt second only to Pharaoh. There’s Saul, Israel’s first king who was simply looking for his father’s lost donkeys when Samuel saw him and made him king by the Lord’s prompting. And there was David who was a shepherd, faithfully guarding his flock from wild animals and showing bravery to fight the giant Goliath. He was soon selected as king by the Lord.

As the Bible said, God doesn’t look at outward appearances. He doesn’t measure the same way we measure. God looks at the heart. He sees what is inside. He sees the desire. And if we take delight in Him then surely He gives us the desires of our heart.

–Update as of July 31, 2015: PNoy has announced that he’s endorsing Mar Roxas to be his successor. Grace Poe’s political plans for 2016 – if she agrees to be a VP to Mar or any other presidential candidates or if she will run for Presidency herselft are not yet known.

The State of Mass Transit in the Philippines

Earlier I read a news about how, once again, the commuting masses face kilometric lines in the MRT. Apparently from close to 50 trains when the operations started, it went down to 30 then 20 and now 7. 

How can 7 trains accommodate the thousands that venture to use these services? 

I am reminded of a constant topic of discussion between a friend and I about how our government has wrongly prioritized transportation channels. 

Going North from Manila there are the networks of toll ways making land travel faster and more convenient. Going South from Manila sees the same. Is it wrong to improve these road systems? 

Well, not if you want to solely cater to the elite who can afford cars and hefty toll fees. 

Improving road networks are not wrong. It’s important to improve them for faster and easier travel. However, the toll ways were made with those who have private cars in mind. They are the ones who can afford the toll fees imposed due to the improvements and conveniences of dedicated highways. 

What we can see from every improved and developed nation – or even our next door Asian neighbors – are highly developed train systems. 

Train systems are the ticket to massive mass transportation. We were at the forefront of it when LRT 1 was constructed – the first and best in Asia at that time. But somehow we’ve lagged behind. 

Imagine. If we prioritize our train systems and we get to develop well functioning trains and even make way for high-speed bullet trains, then it would be possible for people in the nearby provinces to travel easily in and out of Metro Manila. 

Imagine a Metro Manila that is less congested because the people who live in its dense cities can easily go home weekly to their far flung provinces as aided by the train systems. Who knows, some may even go home daily eliminating the need to rent a temporary house within Manila. 

Trains are supposed to be the key to efficient public mass transportation. Yet in skewed prioritization it appears they are at the bottom list. 

The Peace in Mindanao

This morning, during my usual commute to the office, I heard the radio commentator discussing the current situation in Mindanao. With the recent tragedy involving the SAF Elite Unit, it appears the peace process is compromised – possibly altogether abandoned.

He said that before we all rush into emotionally charged decisions, we should consider first all factors involved – rationally. The peace process gave hope to our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao. Not the rebels, but the civilians. Civilans who have become too scared to seek means of livelihood. Innocent children who have become too scared to go to school. Thousand of innocent Filipinos, caught in the crossfire between the government and the rebels. They are the ones for whom the peace process is for.

And with the recent skirmish, abandoning talks of peace process all over again, is akin to dashing that single shred of hope to bits and pieces. A shred of hope that for years they haven’t even the slightest idea was possible.

While it is true that we must grieve and mourn the fate of the Fallen 44, that we must sympathize with the families who have lost them, we should not let ourselves be consumed with our emotions to forego all rational thinking. After all, these brave men died for the very same thing many wants to abandon – peace.

The Bangsamoro Issue, these peace talks and peace process with Mindanao, these are all issues that I have heard over and over again. Back in college, I gained a better understanding about the Bangsamoro and their plight. I gained friends who were residents of Mindanao, proud to be so, and longing to see peace in their land. I know they deserve it. Like us, who fight for our basic rights, these people also deserve the most basic right anyone can get – peace.

With the recent momentum in the peace process, I shared their glimmer of hope. That finally, after so many years, peace will come to Mindanao. It was a shock when the masacre happened. It was a shock even more when people reacted so strongly to the point that they wanted to abandon the peace process. I even read some hate messages to simply wipe out the rebels.

It made me wonder: are we still humans? Are we still capable of love? forgiveness? peace? even in the midst of tragedy? Yes, it was a loss. But it was not just a loss on the military (or police’s) side. There was also lost in the MILF side. There were civilan casualties as well. But as a friend from Mindanao put it, why would the media care? Why would people care? The Fallen 44 were the glorious heroes. The fallen MILF were the bad guys. The fallen civilians were the extras.

War is a lose-lose situation. Each side will suffer. One side may win but at the expense of what? The best course is to really forge peace. Peace is a noble thing to aspire for. It will not come without a cost; without challenges. But we must hold on. We must desire it and fight for it to not deterioate.

What can we do? We can do the most powerful thing we can. PRAY. Pray for our leaders. Pray for the people in power who have the ability to move things. Pray that peace really happens this time. Pray for healing in the hearts of those who grieve. Those who are angry. Those who are ignorant. Prayer can do wonders. It is time we do our part.

Madlum River Tragedy: A Tragedy That Could Be Avoided

It’s been a month since that fateful event happened. I was supposed to be on my way home when I learned how a friend of mine was facing a then unknown tragedy. Stalking his Facebook account, I read posts of condolences and encouragement for him to be strong. I seriously wondered what was happening. Scrolling down further, with an impending sense of doom, I read it. That cryptic, yet fatal, post.

bulacan tragedy
This was the initial report. Seven (7) were trapped in the middle of the river when the flash flood happened. Three (3) went missing and four (4) were confirmed dead on the same day. During the next days, the 3 missing ones were confirmed dead.


I was in shock. My friend’s brother was one of tragic victims of a supposed happy school excursion turned into a tragedy.

Death has never been a foreign experience for me. I’ve experienced love ones die almost yearly in the past decade. But death via tragedy is. It is the kind of death that catch us unaware – and leaves a deep scar in our heart – unknown when, if ever it would, heal.

I reached out to my friend, offering what pitiful amount of comfort I can. I wanted to personally visit but since I was on my way south, I wasn’t able to. And so, as soon as I got back to Manila, I visited him. And learned of what happened first hand.

Wrong on Many Levels

Rains were already forecasted to fall on that fateful day of August 19, 2014 and yet the tourism class of Mikhail Alcantara decided to push through with their field trip. They were to visit the Madlum Cave in San Miguel, Bulacan as part of the exposure trip for their course to which some students allege that if they join, they can be exempted from the final exams. Apparently, their teachers said that the field trip was a project and if they have a good report, it is possible for them not to go through a final exam. Hence, to the students’ perspectives, not joining the trip might mean a harder exam.

Wrong #1: Giving the students the impression that a field trip would mean an easy way out of an exam. Of course, who wouldn’t want a free pass?

The trek to visiting Madlum Cave is a challenging one. No wonder this cave was effectively used as a hiding point by the Katipuneros. It requires experienced tour guides enough for inexperienced trekkers. Crossing the river even involves holding unto ropes as the rocks are continually shifting and where one side can be shallow, the other side can be dangerously deep.

There were 180 students during the trip. They were escorted by only 3 teachers and 10 tour guides. Do the math and figure out how many students are assigned to each tour guide.

The victims were part of a batch of 40 students led by 4 tour guides – 2 local guides and 2 student guides. You’d think this is enough but judging by the difficulty of the trek – and the inexperience of the trekkers – there should have been more experienced guides to help them especially since part of the trek was crossing a dangerous river. Even trained police personnel find it hard to cross the river with its slippery rocks. What more kids in freshmen college?

Wrong #2: Not having enough experienced and professional guides to help students explore safely.

Students further claimed that when they started the trek, the teachers didn’t go with them and instead were left at the starting point for some videoke time. Basically, they were left to explore on their own. Teachers placed their trust completely on the tour guides and assumed the students, being in freshmen college, would be responsible enough for themselves.

Wrong #3: Delegating authority to others when parents have trusted you to be the one responsible.

Sometimes it is possible to rain in the mountain tops even if it is not yet raining in the lower parts of the mountain. This is the most likely cause of flash floods where excess water upstream gushes suddenly downstream. The protocol before making the trek up is to get in touch with local barangay officials who will coordinate with the watch groups in the upper parts as to the weather condition up top. None of these protocols happened that day.

Wrong #4: Ignoring protocols that were drafted in place to ensure the safety of anyone wishing to trek up the mountain.

It was even disheartening when a video surfaced wherein one student tour guide claimed that they warned the second batch of the type of weather during that moment. In the video, it can be seen how the group pushed through with the field trip despite the bad weather. Clearly, despite the threats of rain – and even the onset of rain – the trek still pushed through. Trekking in bad weather is never a good idea. The slippery slopes are also a threat to anyone’s safety and the potential for getting ill due to prolonged exposure to rains

Wrong #5: Pushing forth with an activity despite the bad weather. In fact, even planning a trekking trip during the rainy months is a WRONG move already.


These are just some of the many other reasons why the entire trip was wrong – deadly wrong. Disregard for safety measures of the students by the people who were supposed to safeguard them is blamed as the the primary cause of the tragedy. Parents felt that the school was negligent in looking after the welfare and safety of their children.

The school claimed that parents signed a waiver hence absolving the school from any untoward events that might happen in the event of a disaster. But, the school actually failed to get a CHED endorsement for the field trip – an endorsement that would require them to submit a “risk assessment plan”. Had they complied with this, then perhaps they could have assessed the obvious dangers of the trip and have mitigated the disaster that happened. This makes BSU liable for criminal, civil and administrative charges.


An Act of Nature

Many claimed that no one wanted the tragedy to happen. It was something no one could foretell. It was an act of nature. It was beyond anyone’s control.

Yes it was an act of nature that no one really wanted to happen. Yes, it was something no one could foretell and no one could control. These are facts that no one disputes. But it was something that could have been avoided. There were many things the school – the people responsible for the entire trip – could have done to PREVENT what happened. As I read somewhere – It is better to be safe a thousand times than to meet an accident once.

Moving Forward

Right now, a case has been filed in the Ombudsman to investigate the tragedy and to punish those responsible.

call for justice

A fact-finding report stated that visiting Madlum River was not part of the initial itinerary of the students, but the tour company decided to add it during the last minute. Madlum River is notable for catching tourists unaware with flash floods and this is not the first time tourists died there due to flash floods.

The families clarified that the case filed was not against the school and their goal is not to shutdown the school. Rather it was against the people who were supposed to be responsible but didn’t act responsibly.

A tragedy that could have been prevented is the worst type of tragedy. Having it happen to young people who had their lives well ahead of them makes the pain all the more acute and the cry for justice even louder. Filing a case will not erase the pain the families of the victims are going through. But making sure those responsible are held accountable for their actions would somehow lessen the ache they feel.

I hope what happened served as a lesson – a lesson for educators to act more responsibly, for tour guides to guide responsibly, and for everyone to be vigilant about their safety.

This video gives you a chilling feel of how it must have been in those last moments during that fateful day.

Battle For The Net

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites. Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?

On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality.

Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.

If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here:

Everyone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown:

Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.


What is net neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the Internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online.


Net Neutrality means that the cable/telecom companies must provide us with open networks — and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company cannot decide who you could call and what you say on that call, your ISP should not be concerned with what content you view or post online.

Net Neutrality is what enables the Internet to be such a hotbed for innovation. If you bring a new service online, the cable/telecom companies should deliver it just like they’d deliver content from a corporate behemoth like Google or NBC.


Net Neutrality is what gives every startup the same chance to reach customers and users as any existing company. Simply, without Net Neutrality, startups and small business will be subject to discrimination based on a pay-to-play Internet, and the open Internet and the economic growth it has represented will be at risk.


What are we fighting against?

On May 15, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission proposed rules that would permit rampant discrimination online, undermining Net Neutrality. The FCC’s proposal would be a huge boon for the cable companies and would undermine the Internet as we know it.


Under the proposed rules, cable giants like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon would be able to create a two-tiered Internet, with slow lanes (for most of us) and fast lanes (for wealthy corporations that are willing pay fees in exchange for fast service).


Cable companies would have the power to discriminate against online content and applications — they could pick winners and losers, shake sites down for fees, block content for political reasons, and make it easier for Internet users to view cable content. (For instance, Comcast owns NBC, and so has incentives to make it easier to view NBC content than that of other providers.)

Me – A Conyo?

We used to make fun of them – the conyo kids – way back in college. I used to disdain their seemingly exasperating mixed use of the English and Filipino language. There was Taglish, then there was just pure conyo.

Fast forward several years later, it’s such a surprise for me when I catch myself becoming conyo.

You know, it’s like speaking in English only that minsan mag-shift ka bigla to Tagalog. And then you’re like mega shocked at how your brain naturally process such mixed language and then di mo na alam san nangagaling yung mga sinasabi mo coz it’s like really weird and stuff, you know?

See. Writing that bit wasn’t so hard. My brain just naturally composed the words.

I pride myself in having a good command of the English language and a decent command of Filipino. I can write and express myself in both though I do so more easily in English. And yet the beauty of the pure Filipino language is not lost to me too.

This month we are celebrating the National Language Month a.k.a. Buwan ng Wika. It used to be a week – Linggo ng Wika then it expanded to a month. Yet this group is advocating that commemoration of our National Language should not be confided to a week or a month but should rather be a year-long observance. We can have a Pinoy Arts and Culture Month where we commemorate Pinoy pride but observance of Buwan ng Wika should be year-long according to them.

Their argument: dedicating a whole month shows just how much of a colonial mentality we actually have. For we see people who, when the month has ended, ends also their observance of the uniquely Pinoy customs they were forced to observe during Buwan ng Wika i.e. speaking in Filipino, wearing Barong Tagalog and the like.

Reading that Rappler article has reminded me of probably the most viewed and most controversial post I had circa 2011. It’s about James Soriano and his controversial article attacking the Filipino language. Many were irked by his article and so it had to be taken down from the net. But not before people had downloaded or copied it. Essentially, that article explored the connection of speaking Filipino to actually having an identity as a Filipino.

My being a conyo is a testament to how our language is evolving. I won’t be surprised when time comes and our National Language is no longer Filipino but Taglish. I mean it’s really easy and natural for many people these days to speak in a conyo manner. Maybe some are not as flamboyant as others but fact remains that it’s still Taglish.

Language reflects the identity and culture of the people using it. In a society where majority of workers are in the BPO industry, you can’t blame if there’s a rise of so-called conyo kids. They may not necessarily have the wealth of the traditional conyo kids, but the way they talked, you’d think they do if not for the identification badge stating which call center company they’re part of.

Globalization has greatly impacted the way we use our language. Since Filipino has not been deeply ingrained in us before the Americans came and converted us to an English-speaking nation, it can’t be helped that we haven’t naturally developed a love or a flair for the language unlike our Asian counterparts who have developed strong affinity for their language and hence you can see the strength of their culture. Wonderful examples are South Korea and Japan. Just look around you and you will see Pinoys wishing they could speak either Nihonggo or Korean just so they can understand or better relate to their pop idols. The Koreans and Japanese, despite not embracing English as a natural language became so successful in promoting their own language and identity. We can conclude then that loving their language led to a natural love for their own culture.

In the past I have advocated the strengthening of the Filipino language so we can eventually develop a sense of identity. However, today, even CHED mandates that Filipino GE subject need not be part of the required core subjects and can instead be an optional course for just anyone who wish to take it. And knowing how it’s Filipino, I am doubtful how many would want to do that. So how can we encourage a deeper sense of identity through the use of language?

I guess the conyo language identifies who we are. I guess this new breed language defines our very identity as a nation. What I see is a nation of mixed breeds. A nation who in adapting from other cultures have formed a culture distinctively their own. A nation whose culture is so dynamic it is perpetually evolving.

If before I see the conyo language as a negative thing – a hindrance to our growth as a country, today I see it as a language we need to embrace.

And I don’t think that’s even remotely connected to my discovery that I am already a conyo. 😉