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You are empowered by the Philippine Constitution, under democratic principles, to run to any position you might like in the Government. Otherwise, you are empowered to put into positions of power anyone you might like among the candidates this coming election. Your vote is your power to change people in the government and to bring change to this country.

In this election, every candidate would like to win your favor. But the election is not like facebook post, that you could click because you feel good with it. Every election time, you will hear vote wisely. Wisely is not a candidate, if he is he would have won the change we all wanted.

You want this country to progress, to be back as an economic leader in Asia, to eradicate poverty, to have peace and justice, to be glorious and looked upon by other nations. Yet you keep on entrusting governance to those whose hearts are callous and whose minds are impiously corrupt.

You keep on voting a traditional politician because of his/her experience in politics, or because you are lured by his/her sweet promises. You are made to believe that the numerous bills they passed in congress were all helpful to improve the quality of life the Filipinos have. Most of them would like to remain in the position not because they genuinely want to serve – they wanted to remain in power to pursue their self-interest.

Vote for a traditional politician as you may, if he could say no to pork barrel, instead push for audited expenses of his office. Vote for a member of an existing politician if you would like to expand the power and control of a few families over your affairs. Vote for a businessman, because he knows how to get easy money from the coffers of the government. Vote for a religious leader if you want to be indoctrinated by beliefs you don’t even share and live. Vote for ultra righteous candidates if you disregard socially viable policies that the country needs.

Vote not and you waste the power the Constitution guarantees for you.

Whom should you vote this coming election? The lesser evil? The sure winner? That is your choice. Experience, disposition, education, platform, vision and virtue remain to be the best criteria for making your choice. Know very well the candidate and do not be swayed by others’ judgment. Gauge the candidates’ ability and commitment to genuinely serve and effect good governance. Then, you are making the right choice.




Tragedy, unpaid tuition fee, education as a right, SUC administration, economics, politics, behavioral science, suicide, rage, empathy: these are among the many other elements that complicate the issue of the sudden death of UP Manila freshie, Kristel Tejada, who took away her life by drinking a silver cleaning liquid in their residence a few days ago.

With the unfolding of the events, linear thinking could point to the issue of the school’s policy as repressive to force the 16 year old student to take her own life. Reports inform that she committed suicide two days right after she filed her leave of absence for the next semester. Her application was approved the next day, March 14. She died by poisoning herself before dawn of March 15.

Indeed the event is tragic, any sudden death is; more so, when death is by committing suicide. Life’s woes are battled with one’s strength. The lost of that strength to overcome mishaps in one’s life leads to depression and severe anxiety, when such emotional overtures are not managed, the worst happens. The option to commit suicide to escape life’s imminent dangers is a tragedy itself. Suicide as a phenomenon does not exclude young people.

Kristel’s is a case of teenage suicide, the context is not limited to that of not being able to pay her tuition fees, although it could be a stress factor.  Suicide is a voluntary act of taking one’s own life. With that there is no one to be blamed, yet there are precedents to the situation that Behavioral Science understands as stimuli to an action. The school’s policy could just be among the many other stressors that pressed Kristel into committing sucide.

Her act of getting in the system should have come with her comprehension that the system could be harsh, while at the same time she should have allowed herself to see the many options of surviving college. Young as she is, her family and those who are concerned of her situation should have felt her need and so they should have supported her all along. Intelligence is not a matter of results of paper and pencil test. Emotional intelligence goes with that.

Studying in UP is already stressful and the mindset of every one entering the university should be open to that concept. Like entering a school or choosing a course, suicide is a decision that begins with an ideation. There are many manifestations of this ideation, and it does not come just as surprising. If her family and friends have been sensitive enough and mindful of her concerns then this could have been prevented.

The system could be perceived harsh and unjust. So politically, radical views would tell of Kristel’s death as a result of such repression of the right to education. Education is considered as a right as stipulated in the constitution. This premise drives many to blame the educational system for Kristel’s death. This political view should also consider the economic side of providing free education. While it is a right guaranteed in the statutory law, it is not guaranteed to be free for everyone.

There is a need for finances to sustain quality education. What is free is not often quality. The state colleges and universities are established by Law to provide education to the youth, with some assistance from the government, national or local. But, with the increasing need and cost of operation, the need for tuition fees in SUCs arises. With UP, it is a chartered university and that the President of this country has no direct mandate of its policy, neither the Commission on Higher Education.

Kristel’s case has become a political platform. Those politicians who are supposed to represent a progressive view rant of the systemic corruption and the government’s neglect of SUCs and failure to provide free education. Are they not involved in the national budget debates? How much do they shell out from their pork barrel to fund Philippine schools? If education is indeed their priority, then they should keep out of the case as their hands are clean.

Kristel died by suicide, and the context of her death is circumscribed in the system of Philippine education, which consequently rages a number of people to call for a system’s change. Empathy is indeed needed at this moment for those bereaved, yet still the darkness of a suicide falls back on human weakness and the frailty of the system which should humanely sustain a community.

The way Kristel’s death is lamented seems to vilify the system and turns her to be the protagonist in the tragedy of her life story. This sends a wrong message which seems to justify the lost of one’s value for life, strength and virtue to overcome life’s woes. A scholar’s way of thinking is deeper than the roots of a problem, wider than their thresholds of pain, and more significant than the self’s interests of immediate relief. Suicide though prompted by the wrong system is still self-serving, yet in the light of the events, Kristel’s death should remind how the wrong system could kill a scholar.


My deepest sympathy to the UP community and Kristel’s family.

Over the flood the Filipino Spirit Rises.

Hikers rely on maps, compasses and instinct that enable them to get to where they want to go. In a real mountain, there are no signage and arrows and welcome markers. Maps may not really be helpful when everything else in the mountain is just the trees. Compasses could only tell directional orientation. Hence, climbing mountains is best taken with someone else to guide you, lest you are a real adventurer on your own.

To succeed in climbing the mountain, you need to follow the trail as you need to know where you are going. The trail is the path you need to take to get where you want to go. This is the path which others have taken before, but there is not just a single way. Sometimes the path diverges somewhere, and sometimes it is not just there. There are times you would need to make your own path as you need to decide on which path to take when the trail diverges.

On the mountain, the trail varies from being flat, to going up and going down. Some are wide, others are just narrow. Those narrow pathways are the usually difficult ones which make you climb up and glide down. There are wooden bridges you need to cross to skip mud and water. On the trail you would walk on dirt, rocks and mud while you clear off the shrubs as you go through. When you are novice to the place, all you have to do is to be guided and to follow.

Aside from keeping yourself on the trail, you need to listen to what your guide is telling you. Remember that you are new to this thing and you are walking with someone who really knows the place to lead you to where you are really going. As thinking individual, you need to use your instinct, apply some common sense to everything that you will be told. I remember my guide telling me that I should jump, no not off the cliff, but jump to reduce my tiresome feeling. That doesn’t make sense to me, since my legs, body and lungs are all tired. I just stood and regulated my breathing instead.

He didn’t do the jumps, I never saw him did, although he would yodel or shout to release some stress. That I’d follow because it’s fun, relaxing and not so tiresome. Even though I was following someone who is expert in the terrain, somehow, I noticed that he would stop when the trails diverge, or when the trail seems to end somewhere. Instinct would guide him the directions, by looking at some landmarks, like the peak of the mountain, and the place below.

In the workplace, facing new challenges or working in a new area or environment, would require us to follow and be led. Yet, that does not mean you lose your senses of who you are and your environment. You can continue with the hike only with a trusted navigator to guide you, whom you should depend only as much. Only when you have really learned the course, then you can take the lead. You have to be responsible yourself, and remain aware of the track you are taking with someone else, and be sensitive too with him, as he would to your favour.

In our lives we grow up following the adults who have come to this world before us. They too have learned the many things in life from following others. Learning is a social activity where we tend to adapt to the situation by doing the things others are doing. It was my first time hiking. I keenly look at my guide’s steps as I admire his agility. I would try to mimic his moves, as much as I could. When I could not, I’ll do it on my own but still keeping in the track and getting to where we wanted to go.

We follow the one we trust for some reasons. It’s not because of age. It’s because of others’ wisdom and experience, and also of how they would look after us. My guide was more agile than I am, younger than my age, an expert on the trail we were taking. I was an explorer, an adventurer and a first timer. Yet, I trusted him, my life on that mountain, since my field is different. He could move faster than I am, but when I could not follow, he would stop and wait for me to be at paced with him.

Going down, when we were on the ground already, my guide asked me if I could locate the lodge I was staying. I did. Then he asked me to find the pathway amidst the rice fields. After some rest in village, he asked me to lead the way. I wondered, perhaps next time, I could take the lead in climbing that mountain with some friends, that’s if they would trust me out of my experience.

We are led for us to learn how to follow. We follow so we can lead next time. Leading and following are so intricately connected, and one does not become leader without a follower, the latter never becomes a leader without really learning how to follow well.

My first time to really hike in the mountain happened on my 37th birthday, atop Mt. Ampacao in Sagada, Mountain Province. While going up its terrain, I realized how climbing a mountain is so similar to effective workplace attitude and behaviour in many aspects, which also apply in how we go about with life.

I went back to Sagada for a purpose; that was to revise my dissertation proposal. So, I scheduled a 5-day off from work and away from home. I thought I needed some space and time alone to focus on what I want to finish. Since I just had an earlier vista of how conducive Sagada could be for my academic work, I decided to go back. I shared that with my family, and though they irked to question my goal, they just had to respect my desire to accomplish something.

I was able to finish the revisions for my academic paper on the second day. I had to deprive myself that day from enjoying the place. Except for the lunch, snack, dinner and smoking breaks, all I had to do was to go over the comments on paper and do what I have to do. Fighting the temptation of going out and pleasing myself with the beautiful place, I was able to do it. I succeeded simply because I had a vision in my mind – I want to defend my proposal by June, I want to get my PhD degree by the next school year, and I want to get promoted after graduation to a full-professor status.

And, all that is related to the vision statement I wrote some years ago. I want to inspire others as an excellent teacher, and getting there means I have to move up (literally and figuratively), in both my education and professional performance.

Odd it may be, but I needed to go over mountains from Manila to the Northern Philippines to complete the revision of my paper, and I am sure I will have to do it again sometime soon. But, it is not a waste: it was actually a fruitful time for me. It gave me the needed time to do what I have to do and spend some time to rest and recreate myself. My climb back to Sagada taught me some lessons which are vital to keep me up at work and in life in general.

Ten insightful lessons came to my mind, with the mountain breeze as I climbed Mt. Ampacao. I wish to share these in a ten-post series: 1) Sharing a Vision and Going for it; 2) Following and leading; 3) Trying out new things; 4) Keeping on track and finding ways; 5) Seizing the moment and loving the environment; 6) Appreciating various perspectives; 7) Pacing and taking time to rest; 8) Not cramping on some shit; 9) Remaining in balance; and 10) Knowing where you came from. Meaningful as they came to me, and I desire to share these insights in my succeeding posts.

2011 in review

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.