Thursday, 9 February 2017

To The Girl Who Never Got A Love Letter

by Marily S. Gayeta 

You look at yourself in the mirror and start searching for answers. And you see them staring back at you . You’re not pretty enough. Your face has no symmetry .Your eyes don’t sparkle .Your smile is dull .  You look so  plain and  boring . Or maybe , just maybe , you're downright ugly.

Other girls in school get chocolates and  cute teddy bears from blushing  boys.  But not you .Other girls open their bags , and giggle at the  scented love notes , secretly slipped in  by a young lad . But not you . All you  have in your bag is a faded copy of an old fairy tale , where a damsel in distress is rescued by a knight in shining armor.

A delivery boy  sometimes comes to the  office with a bouquet  of flowers , but it’s never for you. It’s for the girl in the other cubicle. You join the others in the teasing and light-hearted fun  for that lucky  girl .You  cheerfully compliment the roses , but deep inside , you’ve got a question : “ When will I  ever get mine ?

You pass by guys on the streets , in the halls , or  between tables at Starbucks. They never notice you. Their eyes flit  away  from you instantly .  They turn to their  phones right away,or get smitten by that sexy girl at the next table. They never see you.   You are invisible to them. You don’t have what it takes to be “ that ” girl .    The looks ,  the charm , the appeal. You have none of those.
It hurts sometimes , doesn’t it ? To be a  girl, to be a woman , and to be  invisible to the opposite sex . You don’t  really thirst for attention , but for sure , an occasional  admiring  look from a guy would somehow bolster your feminine  ego. Who wouldn’t feel good  with  that ?

Other girls were given the beauty that society admires. Others , like you , are lacking in it . Other girls  have the appeal that captures guys’ attention right away . But not you . They never bother to  give you a second  look.

 Life is not  fair. It  never was . It never will  be.  Accept this fact  with a bold ,open heart . Then ,  get on with your life.

 Stop crying at night because nobody has written a love letter for you . Stop sulking in a corner because every girl in the gang has a boyfriend  ,while  you’re sitting alone on the bench. Stop pitying yourself because you don’t have a date on Valentine’s day .   For God’s sake , girl , stop it .

But don’t give up just yet. Try to doll up , but don’t overdo it . Find out which fashion style suits you. Develop your inner beauty. Be kind. Do good things --- not for a show ---but because you mean it.  Cultivate your talents. Learn how to  play a musical instrument . The guitar or keyboard perhaps ? That talent would be handy in a company party .  Enrich your mind. Read  good books. Be aware of the world. This will prepare you for great conversations. Socialize, but don’t act like a slut. Act confidently despite your physical flaws.

And maybe , he will notice you among the vast crowd.

There are a lot of men who fall in love with character , talents and brains. And these are the men who keep lasting   and profound relationships. He will fall in love with you --- not instantly --- but gradually . Your knight  will  find you. Maybe not in  chance encounters  in exotic places  ,  but in little familiar corners  where time is essential  for  building intimacy .

When that time comes , he will fall in love with you in a special way. No . Not like the New Year’s Eve fireworks that explode and dazzle the senses , and then vanish  in thin air. His love will begin from a small  spark . A very small spark that grows very slowly , until it becomes a fire that  engulfs his whole heart and his whole being . His love  will be like  a  steady flame that burns  for all eternity .

Wow . That sounds so romantic .

But what if your knight does not come ?

So what , girl , so what. Nothing of what you did was in vain. The new clothes  and perfume that you bought. The song that you learned how to play. The office mate that you helped. The news that you read . All of these things made  you a happier and a better person. Never regret them just because you failed to catch a man. 

Your happiness  should not depend on whether or not there’s a guy  who  loves you . Don’t give a shit about  what society says you must feel if you don’t have a man in your life. You  can be happy  even if no one holds your hand in the park.  You can be  whole even if no one kisses  you at  night and says  “ Good night , babe .I love you .” .A human being  doesn’t always need a romantic partner to feel fulfilled .  Focus on the blessings of being single . The time . The chances . The independence. Family and friends . The full range of choices you have in your life . Freedom can be as satisfying as romantic love.

If your knight comes, well and good.

If he doesn’t, it’s okay .

You will be fine, girl . You are complete just as you  are .


Friday, 2 September 2016

Condemn all or none at all

I condemn terrorist acts .

I condemn violence committed in the name of a belief .

I condemn rape and murder committed by drug addicts , alcoholics  and other criminals .

I condemn violence committed by ordinary      people against  strangers  or against their own families .

I condemn  any harm  inflicted on    members of the  police and military  who are serving this country  with their blood.


I also condemn  extrajudicial killing.

I condemn death without  due process.

I condemn police brutality .

Violence is violence regardless of who committed it .

Unjustified killing is evil whichever  name you call it .

I can not condemn one form  of violence and applaud another . 


Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Doll Experiment : How Dark-Skinned Children Feel About Themselves



        In 1939 , Kenneth B. Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark , a husband-wife team , both African-American psychologists , investigated the effects of segregation on black American children. In their experiment , they showed   two  dolls to 253  black kids , whose age ranged from three to seven. The dolls looked almost exactly alike --- the same size , the same hairstyle , the same shape of eyes , etc. ---except  for the color . One  was black , one was white .  The children were asked  different questions . For questions like  “ Which doll looks nice ? “ and “ Which doll would  you  like to play with ?” , almost all  children chose the white doll. One child justified his choice with “ Because the white doll is clean.”  When they were asked questions like ,” Which doll looks  bad ? ” or “ Which doll is not nice? ” , majority chose the black doll.

                The final question was : “ Which doll looks like you ? ”. Many of the children became emotional as they pointed to the black doll.  Immature as they were , they realized that they rejected the doll that looked like them , and that they were , in fact , rejecting themselves. One boy said “ I am actually white , but I got a suntan last summer .”  Crying so hard , two of the children ran out of the experiment room.

                The experiment was done at a time when African Americans  were  denied  so many rights  and were struggling for  equal treatment . The Clarks concluded that the responses were a clear sign of self-rejection and a feeling of inferiority brought about by  the political  and social environment. The effects , based on their expert opinion ,  may even be irreversible . The results of  the Clarks’ experiment were eventually used as a basis  by the US Supreme Court  to declare segregation in public schools  as  unconstitutional.

                 This doll experiment  had been replicated several times. One  was  done  in 2005 by film maker Kiri Davis. The result  was the same . Seventy-one percent of the 21 black  children said that the white doll was prettier.  Imagine , that was 66 years later , a time when black Americans were supposed  to enjoy full rights and privileges as the whites. Those sixty-six years  saw the rise of people like  Martin Luther King Jr. , Maya Angelou , Oprah Winfrey ,  Michael Jordan , Will Smith , Tyra Banks  ---and yet , black children still felt  inferior . 

             In 2009 , a media  company  in the US conducted the same  experiment for the show “ Good Morning America”.  The percentage of black girls  who showed preference for the white doll was lower , 47 %  , but this is  still significant .  Many  of the boys said both  were pretty. The change  can be attributed to the fact that early that year ,January 2009  , Barack Obama assumed the presidency of the US , bringing the positive  spotlight to him , his wife  and two daughters.

              We're half-way through 2016 . Dark-skinned children born and living in many parts of the world  are still made to feel that they are  not pretty or handsome or good enough .  Stereotypes and prejudices  are being perpetuated in so many ways . Racism  still  persists even in advanced , culturally diverse  countries . Even among members  of   the same  ethnic groups that are naturally   endowed with  dark or brown   skin , there is colorism  : a form of bias in favor of lighter-skinned ones .

               Colorism is  prevalent in Southeast Asia . Brown-skinned children are bullied in school. They are called all sorts of names .  Dark-skinned employees   are usually the butt of jokes in the office  ,  together with the fat ones  .  These things will persist for a long , long time –but it does not mean that we should keep quiet about it .

          Obviously , the effects  of European colonial conquests have remained in the minds of many people. Western-centric or European-centric mentality holds that almost everything  from the West is   superior and worth emulating , including skin color. People in former colonies have not been able to disentangle themselves  from   this mentality , despite being technically and officially free from  their former masters.

               Colorism is also  being indirectly perpetuated by billion-dollar  corporations that  sell beauty products. Their advertisements are relentless because they know fully well that  the public mind  is malleable .   In Southeast Asia ---particularly in the Philippines , Thailand , Malaysia ---- mainstream media and online media are  full of  advertisements for whitening products . Billboards  show  models  and endorsers   flaunting their white complexion. 
Some of the ads  go too far , insulting people  with dark skin. From  dusk till dawn , wherever  they look , young children in these  countries are bombarded  with propaganda that dark skin is inferior. The sad thing is , ordinary adult members of their societies are taking the lead. Social media is rife with  verbal insults  against brown-skinned  people. Recently , in the Philippines , there was an uproar when a six-month old  baby , a child of a celebrity ,   was bashed online  as " ugly  "  and " negra "  because  she is " morena " ( brown-skinned  ) 

   The despicable  behavior of some people , the biases  and the brainwashing  will not go away . They will continue  for a long , long time .   But that does not mean that we have to keep quiet about it. 

               Of course , changing one’s skin color is ultimately a  personal choice . One is free to buy all the products she wants , or to undergo all the medical procedures , if she really wants to have a whiter  complexion .But that is not the thesis of this article.

               As proven by the doll experiments ,  socially-tolerated  forms of prejudice  do a lot of damage to children.  Segregation by color , of course , is no longer the issue , but we know  racism  still exists . Also , there are other things . Media-brainwashing  and consumerism are  just as harmful .   Bullying is just as damaging . For a kid who is a constant victim of bullying , going  to school  is a daily torture .

                 If you are a parent with dark-skinned children , you have to assure your children  that their  skin is  nothing to be ashamed  of.  Build their  confidence and teach them how to deal with bullying.  If you are a teacher , do not allow  any dark-skinned child ( or any child  for that matter  ) to  be the object of cruel banters. Show your class that you will not allow bullying and  any form of harassment  your class.  If you are a  responsible adult , explain how businesses  and the  media work ,  and how they can affect  people’s mind –set and behavior.

              Do not tolerate racism and colorism , even in the name of " fun." 

                It took a pair of dolls to move the US Supreme Court  to make a historic decision  that paved the way for integration ( white and black kids studying together )  in American schools.  May these two, inanimate  dolls remind   people in different countries  what Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1963   :
 I have a dream  that someday, my four children will be judged , not by the color of their skin , but  by the content of their character .”


Note: If the video does not play , please follow the youtube link below.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

A Silent Prayer Is Enough

" Do not speak of your happiness to one less fortunate than you are."
                                                                            -Plutarch - 

        Terrorist attacks ....
        Airplanes crashing ...
        Hurricanes lashing ...

         If you or your loved one  survived a disaster   --- and others did not --- a silent prayer  should be enough. Don't go to social media saying " Thank God  for saving me . " or " Thank  you Lord  for  taking care of my son ! ".The families of those who  died --- how  are they supposed to feel  when they read your posts ? Are they less loved  by  God ? Are the victims not deserving of a second lease on life  ?  Many questions on human existence  will never be answered , like " why God saved one person  and  why  he let  a child  die a horrible death ." We'll never know the answers. But one thing is for sure :  God can hear everything , even the silent prayers we utter to ourselves .  Therefore , there is no need for Facebook  or  Twitter. Pray in the privacy of your heart . Respect other people's grief. 

Friday, 19 February 2016

Yes , English ability is a measure of intelligence


Offensive  and myopic .

This is how I describe the statement : “ English is just a language ... not a measure of intelligence.”

It seems  we need  to brush up   a little on psychology. Firstly , let’s  tackle the definition of “ intelligence”. Actually , experts offer various  definitions  of the term. However , we will find  three recurring points  : the ability to  solve problems , the ability to adapt to  situations  and  the ability  to create a product that will be useful in a certain culture . Secondly , for about thirty years now , the theory of multiple intelligences ( MI ) has been accepted ( though  not without counter- arguments )  in  the fields of psychology and education. According to Dr. Howard Gardner ,  a renowned developmental psychologist and a Harvard University professor , there are nine types of intelligence   and one of them is verbal-linguistic  , under which English ability falls.  Verbal-linguistic intelligence refers to the ability to understand  the complexities of a language  ( its grammar , vocabulary , sound system  and other aspects  )  and to use that understanding to communicate well and eventually,  to achieve a goal.

If a student  was  able to get a  high grade  in  an English  class  because he participated well  in the  discussion , or because he wrote  good  essays , isn’t that  achieving a goal ? If a licensed Filipino nurse is able to  get the required  score in the IELTS or TOEFL  , and if  because of that , she is able to work in the US  or UK , isn’t she solving a problem --- the problem of poverty ? If a new graduate , knowing that the odds are stacked against him because of  his lack of  work experience , uses his English fluency  to impress the  interviewers , and then gets the job  --- isn’t  that adapting to the situation and solving his unemployment  problem ? Based on the definitions given by experts ,  these  examples show the  application of intelligence. 

Authors , script writers , journalists , TV hosts ,  English teachers , language trainers  , copywriters , bloggers  and   call center agents use their language ability  in ways that show resiliency  and solve problems .

It takes intelligence to write a story ( that's a product )  that will make people think.  It takes intelligence to create  a brilliant  tag line that will ignite   the  consumers’  desire  for a certain merchandise  . It takes intelligence to deliver a stinging rebuttal in a debate .  It takes intelligence to explain a Shakespearean  poem to a bunch of high school kids. It takes intelligence to be able to say  what is exactly   in your heart .

Millions of people around the word have food on their table  because someone in their family knows English.  Debts are paid  because a smooth-talking  salesman managed to close a deal . An unknown, rejected  author  rises to fame  for writing Harry Potter . Valuable  information is being spread around the world by passionate bloggers .  Dying cities in the Philippines and India  are brought back to life by the business process outsourcing  industry that demands English-smart people .

Great  people in history had or have   used their  linguistic gifts  to achieve noble goals.   Mohandas Gandhi  used this skill to liberate his native country India from colonial  bondage  , and to tell  the world about  the  power of non-violent struggles . Nigerian writer  Chinua Achebe  brought to the fore  the clashes between  African culture and European culture through his English novels . Filipino writer  Francisco  Sionil  Jose wrote an English  trilogy where he eloquently chronicled  the  struggles  of  his countrymen  across generations . Pakistani Malala Yousafzai ,  2014  Nobel Laureate at the age of 17  ---- the youngest ever to receive the award --- continues  to  draw  the world’s attention to the plight of many Muslim  girls who are deprived of education because of poverty and terrorism . Nowadays , she gives speeches to a lot of  Western audience  and solicits support  for her cause .  Her English ability , of course , comes in  handy . 

If properly used , English  can be a survival tool and an agent of social change . It is not " just a language".

The ability to communicate well  in  English is a nurtured gift . Even among native speakers ,  excellence  in  English  is not that  common .   How many Americans can write like Ernest Hemingway  and  speak like Martin Luther King Jr.,   or Joel Osteen, or Dr. Phil MacGraw ? How many struggling  British  writers  can equal J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings ? How many Canadians can speak like  the current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ? Many of them can’t. Most of them can’t .  It’s because  above- par linguistic expression  does not come naturally .Whether in  a  second language setting or native language  surrounding ,  superb  verbal-linguistic intelligence  requires  the development  of natural potential through  long hours of conscious effort  to improve .   

There are many geniuses in math and science , but  why is  Albert Einstein  so beloved ?  Because he is linguistically endowed as well , and he explained difficult theories in ways that lay people  can  understand.  Einstein himself  was quoted as saying  " you are not smart if you can not explain complex concepts in  clear , simple language". Thus ,  Einstein  himself  believed  that  the ability to use language well  is an indication of smartness.  

English is not an exact science . It is  an  irrational and treacherous playing field  .  It is a bloody fighting arena where the rules are laid out but are ignored eighty percent of the time. People who can maneuver around this language have some gray matter in   their  heads. 

To insist that English is not a measure of intelligence is , in a way , to   disrespect the efforts  of Gandhi , Sionil Jose , Achebe , Malala , Osteen , Hemingway , Tolkien  and other people --- whether famous or anonymous , whether native speakers or second language users ---  who devoted countless hours in developing  this   ability  and using it  to  improve their lives  or the lives of others. 

"English is not a measure of intelligence ." Where does this insulting   statement  come from ?  Let me guess.

Some people  have this “ exclusive ” view of intelligence. To them , intelligence is manifested  only in two domains --- math and science.  These  are indeed difficult territories not many can access . People who excel in these  fields  are smart .  Accountants , engineers , doctors, scientists  ---yes , they  deserve  praises and compliments .  However , we should not tolerate them when they publicly  underestimate other people’s ability and careers . They --- or rather ,  all of us  actually ---should  keep our biases to ourselves .

On the other hand , some  people  are just like the fox in Aesop’s fable. “If you can’t get it ,  trash  it.” mentality .  Some people can  never learn  the  difference between “ your and you’re” , or “ they’re  and their ”. Despite efforts , some people can not develop the spontaneity needed in conversational  English , or the competence  to write an essay . So , they shrug their shoulders, walk away  and say “ What the heck ! It’s just a language . Not a measure of intelligence.” Sour grapes , anyone ? 

Here is another reason . Many of us  have   had unfortunate encounters  with  conceited English-smart   people.  These  people   flaunt  their English skills  to attract attention  , to throw their weight around  or to  shame other people .  We have seen that many times , and that’s really  annoying , if not disgusting ! Nobody likes that . But that’s another issue . The arrogance of some English-smart people does not validate the claim that “English is not a measure of intelligence.”   Arrogance and intelligence are two separate  issues.

Stop saying that English ability is not a measure of intelligence . IT IS .

But we have to emphasize : English  is NOT THE ONLY  measure of intelligence . As Dr. Howard Gardner  has espoused , there  are nine different types of intelligence. We have already  mentioned  verbal-linguistic.  The rest are logical-mathematical ,  bodily-kinesthetic , visual-spatial , musical-rhythmic , naturalist , intrapersonal , interpersonal and existential.  Most of us possess several  types of intelligence , but usually , there is one type where we excel the most.

We should celebrate , not underestimate , what others can do.  Every person is intelligent in his own way . We  complete  each other .  We need people like John Cena   to show us  the extent of  physical power ,  but we also need people like The Beatles to , as  they say , tame the savage beast in us . We need people like Thomas Edison  and  Albert Einstein to make  strides in technology , but we also need people like  William  Shakespeare  and Nicholas Sparks  to  make us swoon . Imagine  how dull  this world would be  without Romeo and Juliet  and  The Notebook

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

To-do List For OFWs in 2016

Our  " pasalubong mentality" is not good for our financial  security 
( Note : OFW stands for Overseas Filipino Worker ) 
  It’s  already  2016 , kabayan !

         May I suggest a list of things we should (  and  should not )  do this new year ?

1.     “ Stop  Acting Rich ”. This is actually an important piece of advice from a renowned financial expert Thomas J. Stanley .Many people fall into the habit of overspending because they  derive happiness  from  expensive things ,  and they want to impress other people. Thus , after many years of  hard work , they still end up  as financial failures.  This is very true with many Filipinos ---especially OFWs and their families. So , this  new year ,   buy fewer things  and choose  less expensive  stuff. You are not  Kim Kardashian ! You are an OFW trying to get a better life for your family .   And  you have to limit your pasalubongs or gifts .  You are not Santa Claus. People who truly love you don’t care   about pasalubong. They care about YOU. 

     Self-discipline , according to Stanley , is key to building wealth .  Stanley  has proven through  his research that most millionaires  don’t buy expensive things ,  and yet ,  so many ordinary people still  refuse  to believe it . Millionaires  put their money on investments  and businesses so that they can help other people.

Pope Francis himself has spoken strongly against consumerism and materialism. Indeed , too much attachment  to material things  has  moral consequences as well. Materialism causes people to steal from each other . Materialism causes people to lie , like when you can’t pay your loan  because you’ve spent the money on a smart phone – what do you do ? Invent lies . Materialism pushes   a businessman  to make false promises.   Materialism also  makes it easy  for  people to sell their bodies . Sex with strangers  in exchange for nice clothes .

      2.  Re-assess your goals and achievements. Are you moving closer to  your goals ?  How’s your  monthly savings ? If you are not hitting your target savings , you have to do things differently . Maybe,  you need to further simplify your life  or you need to find a part-time job or a “ raket” , as we Pinoys say.

           Here is another question : Are your goals realistic ?  Or are they  too ambitious ? Here are typical OFW  goals : save for  the education of  two ( or more )  children or  siblings  AND  build a house AND  save for a business capital .( Okay , add  a tricycle  or car ) . Frankly speaking , you  will not be able to fulfill these multiple targets .  How much do  you earn ? You will need to work abroad for about  20  years to achieve two  of these things .  A  report from a  financial  institution says that most OFWs need ten to thirteen years  to save one million pesos .   ( That’s about P10,000. savings a month ) Do the math and  you’ll realize that  your remaining  life is not enough to get  all that  you want .  
             Therefore , be humble and  realistic .  Trim down your goals. And explain to your family that everyone’s cooperation is needed to fulfill those goals. For example ,  the family should have a simpler lifestyle  and capable adults should work. 

           3.    Improve your knowledge and skills .  We live in a challenging world. If you want to survive , you’ve got to have the knowledge and skills that will serve as your bread-and-butter . If you are good at what you do , your employer will keep you .  Whatever your age is , you have to keep on developing  your mind and hands. Whether it’s white-collar know-how   such as teaching and accounting , or vocational skills  such as cooking  and  computer repair ---- improve yourself.  Also , gain new knowledge  and  skills   that will be useful  as you get older. Do research about trends in business and investments. To rephrase a statement  from Stanley , if you have the right knowledge and skills --- you  don’t have to look for money . Because MONEY WILL FIND YOU !!!

4. Build  good relationships. And I mean , good , healthy relationships. Working  overseas is stressful and emotionally  draining . Choose friends  who will have a positive influence on you . Find  time to be with them . On the other hand , avoid people who cheat their wives  or husbands. Avoid mean , conceited  and selfish people .They  will contaminate your soul .

                  With the use of technology , communicate more often with friends  and                  family  back home. Start chatting  with friends whom  you have ignored on                    Facebook.  Always ask your children how they are . Assure them  that you are              open to listening to childish or teenage problems. Be romantic with your spouse .         “Sweet nothings” are not nothing ; they are something .

5. Take care of your health . Your body is the vehicle that carries your knowledge , skills , strength  and  abilities .If that vehicle breaks down , so do all the power that you have . A disease will most likely stop you from   achieving your dreams . To be healthy ,   you  already know what to do : eat more fruit and vegetables , have more fish and less meat ,  be active .We all know these things  but many of us still fail . Again , it’s the lack of self-discipline .  Well , this  2016  , let’s be kinder to our bodies. As Scottish philosopher  Thomas Carlyle says :
“ He who has health , has hope;
And he who has hope ,
Has everything.”

4.     Do  small acts  of kindness but avoid drawing attention to yourself .  It doesn’t have to involve money . Help someone  fix a machine . Hold the door open for the person behind you . Listen to someone’s problems.  And when  you have done it  , don’t  talk about it . Actually ,  there is no shortage of “kindness”  in this world. What I mean is ,  many people   do nice things  – and then post it on social media . For what ? For FB " Likes " , praises  recognition .  It is okay  to go public  if you need crowd funding or you need the intervention of a remote organization  --- and even so , the “ helper ” should  divert  the attention away from  himself .For other  types of help we give to others , MUM IS THE WORD.  

6. BE HAPPY !  No matter how far you  are from  your loved ones ,  strive to be happy. Find humor and  joy in little things :  your mother’s voice on the phone , your favorite song , a chocolate bar , the gentle  wind on  your face , the sand in your mouth after a sand storm . Life won’t get any easier if you  frown and sulk. If you’re  at  the lowest point of your life right now ---  remember , kabayan --- that ,  too ,  will pass.  All storms do.

                  That’s it , kabayan .  You can add more to the list .  Let’s all have a prosperous and happy 2016 !