Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Nostalgic Town of Pila, Laguna

Main thoroughfare facing the Plaza of Pila, Laguna
The town of Pila, Laguna is a historic site that is known for its archaic houses and turn of the century architecture.  The town consists of houses that have been preserved all through the years by families who are long-time residents. You don’t see building structures that are more than a few stories high. Most houses are typical of the era during the Spanish times --- high ceilings, big windows, and the used of wooden furniture and artifacts from bygone years.

Liceo de Pila
The church is the center of the town where alongside it, is a parochial school (Liceo de Pila) run by the clergy. The church is situated in the town plaza where you find the town hall and other commercial centers. The local government has disallowed the construction of mega-commercial entities like McDonalds and Jollibee so as not to destroy the little town ambiance of the place.

Many local celebrities have visited the place and used it as venue for historical films.  A number of television shows have also tackled the archaic  age-old charisma of this heritage site.  The town boast of many local eating places where you can savor the local delights like shrimps in coco milk, among many others. The vendors used to sell this delicacy  in front of Plaza Delight, now named  Patio Sophia, but have now transferred to the nearby market area. 

Menu at Patio Sophia
Other local food places have sprouted up like the Evelyn’s Food Place along the national
road. It comes highly recommended by local people due to its numerous food choices. The dining area is of typical Filipino architecture and can accommodate several groups at any given time. If you don’t mind eating barrio-style, then   you can opt to try this place. For the picky eater, the Patio Sophia is a better option and serves the best pancit palabok in the locality. 

Town Church
Pila consists of several barrios that are still agricultural. Most of the farms are planted to rice and vegetables.  Some residents go into hog, goat, duck, and chicken raising for additional income. However, these are mostly done on a small scale basis and only ventured as an added endeavor by farmers. Like other provincial area in the Philippine, many sons and daughter of the residents have gone abroad as OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers). Hence, many big houses have been constructed in modern European fashion in the barrios and nearby subdivisions.

Municial Town Center
The town is near Metro Manila, and can be reached in less than two hours on good roads. There are air-conditioned buses that ply the site every hour, on the way to the provincial capital of  Sta. Cruz. Non-air conditioned buses are also available and would cost a few 
pesos lesser than the former. The trip to this nostalgic place is worth every peso that you spend on it and  this is one local travel that comes highly recommended. One more thingdon’t forget your camera!  

What else can I say, it is more fun in the Philippines!


Philippine News: A Shot from the Hip
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bulacan State University Fiasco: Are Field Trips Necessary?

My Experience with Field Trips

Every student looks forward to joining field trips as part of their extra-curricular studies at school.  They go to places with their classmates, schoolmates, and teachers to frolic and have some fun outside of the school premises.

As a parent, I have experienced having qualms about allowing my daughter on these trips, most especially when she was still in elementary school. Having a daughter, who always had a caregiver following her around, made me feel that she would not survive when left alone to fend for herself.

I remember allowing her only once during elementary school, and threatened to follow her during high school on a mountain trek to Laguna. I know my child cannot stand the heat, fatigue, and insect bites. Before I allowed her to join, I said to her that I will stay on the grounds and fetch her if she got sick. She was adamant and did not allow it.

She felt uneasy being the butt of jokes among her friends, with a mother following her around.   So, I stopped at that but my cell phone was kept open and I called her up every minute, till she got sick of answering my calls.

However, I was proven right all along as she got sick halfway through the climb. She had difficulty in breathing and was unable to finish the trek along with her other classmates. She told me later that her teachers got scared when they saw her turn red and unable to breath.

She did not call me when it happened for fear that I may rush to the site and cause pandemonium and havoc on everyone. As I recall, that incident made her realized that she can’t be that aggressive when it comes to out of town trips.

Perks on Joining Field Trips

Most schools make field trips as part of their extra-curricular activity to take their students to places of interest. The main aim is to expose the students to venues as part of the learning process. The students look forward to these trips as they are given the chance to go out with classmates and friends for a day of fun and frolic.

Being in the Academe, I have been uncomfortable with these out of town trips, more so if it involves swimming. Watching busloads of students could be a pain for teachers. Students can be on their best behavior while in school, but be a pest when they are out with their friends. So having all of them in one go is one statistical nightmare. There is a likely accident that is bound to happen at a mere flick of a finger, if one is not careful.

Dangling a better grade or exemption in the exams are the carrots that are dangled to students to join these out of town trips. I sometimes wonder how excursions to swimming sites help increase a student’s academic performance. Or how can trips to the television stations and malls help them understand their subject matter better. My brain cells squirm with disgust just thinking about it, but I kept my peace and said nothing while still in the academe.

Financial Side of Out-of-Town Trips

Being an accountant, I can sometimes see the money side of these school excursions.  Students are encouraged to pay from P800 to P4000 each, depending on the venue and their length of stay. The amount would include either transportation with or without meals and entry to the place.

This is a big sum of money to students whose parents can barely eke out a living.  I may conclude that these activities are sometimes used by school officials to generate funds for their additional requirements. These would include---additional equipment, repair and improvement of facilities, and miscellaneous needs. The morality side of the argument leaves hanging --- of getting from impoverished students to fund school needs and bric-a-bracs, which could have been sourced out from the local government.

There is no problem with students from top-end schools, colleges, and institutions. But the majority of students does not have the luxury of money;  and having these excursions, can wreck the family budget for a week and be a source of financial displacement. There may be times when the parents would not even have the money to give and are forced to borrow from usurious lenders just so they can fork over the amount to their child.

The schools will say that joining is not mandatory. But, tell that to your child where 90% of his classmates are going and you will see a child that is hurt and envious of his peers. They will be bitter that they can ill-afford these little school luxuries. They say that the school is the great equalizer, with nary a thought on who has the money or not. But in a situation like this, we can say that the scale is judiciously tipped to one side.

Bulacan State University Accident

It was in the news today, August 21, 2014, that seven tourism students perished while crossing the river during their field trip. There were 100 plus students and two faculty members.  With the group were two other guides to help them on their trek.  Nonetheless, these companions were unable to guide the students when the site became too dangerous due to the rushing floodwaters.

In trips where you take numerous people on a guided tour, you should come well prepared before D-Day. The group must be accompanied by knowledgeable tour guides with adequate experience in accident control. Two tour guides for a group of 100 students were inadequate. Careful planning should have been made to mobilize students accompanied by professionals to prevent accidents and costly mistakes from happening.

Having a waiver from the parents would still make the school culpable of gross negligence. These accidents would have been prevented had careful planning been made and the safety of the students given prime consideration even before the trek was made.


School excursions should be well thought off and must consider the safety of their students first and foremost. There should be enough safeguards by having enough teachers to watch over the group while outside of the school premises. 

The timing of the excursions should also consider the season. It is wise that these activities be made during the summer months of February or March, when the rains and floods have stopped.  You avoid possible dangers to your wards by not making them go out during the rainy months of June to November, or when the roads are slippery and can pose dangers to all concerned.


Photo credit: Edgar Edgardo, Kane Kamille Gonzales, Cecille Balana

Philippine News: A Shot from the Hip
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Filipino as GEC (General Education Curriculum) Subject: Is it a thing of the Past?

 Students of Lyceum of Alabang
Photo grab from FB of Carmela Magsino

Filipino as GEC (General Education Curriculum) Subject: Is it a thing of the Past?

There has been a recent move in the House of Congress, initiated by a party-list lawmaker, Terry Ridon, to investigate the recent order by the Department of Education to remove the nine units of mandatory Filipino studies in all Philippine colleges. The argument given is that, the subjects are redundant since it will be taught under the K-11 to K-12 program which will take effect in 2016. 

This order was issued under Memorandum 20, which removes the study of Filipino in the tertiary level. Ridon has requested that further studies be made by the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education on why the study of Filipino should be removed from the General Education Curriculum (GEC).  The GEC subjects have been reduced to 36 units from the mandatory 51 to 63 units, depending on the course. 

The Need for the Study of Filipino

As someone who was brought up in the academe, with both parents a part of a university situated in southern Philippines, I was exposed to the rudimentary manner on how language was used most effectively in teaching.  A student must have the mastery of both English and Filipino language to communicate his thoughts well. No matter how intelligent a student is, if language skills are lacking, the said intelligence would amount to nothing – academically or in the social setting.

The Philippines have many dialects spoken by various groups from Luzon to Mindanao. Fluency in Filipino is a must if there ought to be a common tongue to unite all Filipinos. I grew up in a Visayan speaking region, and though we speak in Filipino, I have been used to thinking in Visayan. During my time, both my parents would talk to us, their children, in English.  More so if they are angry, everything that spewed out of their mouths were in English. We talked in Filipino (or Tagalog) to our house helps who were from Manila, and talked among ourselves in Visayan.  The use of Filipino (or Tagalog) is a recent phenomenon (the last 15 to 20 years) due to the rise of the mighty Manila as a center of all economic activity.

It is not unusual to see different groups more fluent in their own dialect – Cebuano, Bicolano, Waray, Ilocano, Pangalatok, Maranao, Tausog, Kankanaey and many others --- than Filipino. Studies in schools, both in elementary and in high school are not sufficient for the student to learn the intricacies of the language. College students should be exposed to Filipino literature and the works of contemporary writers like Nick Joaquin, Lualhati Bautista, F. Sionil Jose, and many others.  I believe, that basic Filipino is better taught in pre-collegiate levels; with Filipino literature and communications,  in college as part of GEC.

Students of Lyceum of Alabang
Photo grab from FB account Churchill Daleon

Filipino, as our Mother Tongue

It is often said that Filipino is our Mother tongue. But, this is not so,  since, even I experiences difficulties in the use of the Filipino language until now.  I am able to communicate well on an informal level, but would have great difficulty in writing and reading.  To be able to explain technical matters in Filipino, would entail --- me thinking it out in Visayan, then deciphering it in English—so I can talk about the subject matter in Filipino.  What comes out is a funny mix of English and Filipino, which my nationalistic daughter, frowns upon in disgust.

To be safe and avoid humiliation, I just do an exposition of what I want to say, in English.  But this looks comical if you talk to a group of farmers (which I belong) and to a group of people who I normally transact with.  They can’t seem to tie – up the notion, that this old, ordinary-looking woman in slippers and t-shirt could give them a blasting in the English tongue.

Why do I have these problems?

Even with the old GEC or academic curriculum, I still feel that the study of Filipino is lacking. A thorough study that would include the mastery of communications and deep understanding of the language should form part of the school curriculum.  CHED should realize that the Philippines is not one homogenous country that speaks in a single tongue. We are one country with different dialects. Doing away with the study of Filipino in college, would only result to graduates who would not know how to communicate in English, but of Filipino, as well.  
Woe to the Inang Bayan!


Philippine News: A Shot from the Hip
Copyright © csmiravite™. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Cybercrime Law and its Onerous Provisions on Libel

On Cybercrime Law of the Philippines

The Cybercrime Law and its Onerous Provision on Libel

The netizens of the Philippines expressed disgust in 2012 when President Benigno Aquino III signed into law Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of the Philippines and otherwise known as the cybercrime law. People from various groups --- journalists, bloggers, online writers, and internet users of social media sites, raised a howl in protest on the libel provision of the aforementioned law, fearing that the freedom of expression will be curtailed to silence the opposition.

Several court cases were filed in the Supreme Court to delete the onerous provision on libel, or if not, to totally scrap the entire cybercrime law.  Deliberations were made and it took two years for the high court magistrates to come up with a decision. The bad news for the protesters, is that the Supreme Court embank upheld the constitutionality of the provision for libel.  What this means is that, any write-up or statement in media that may be considered as unfounded or malicious can be subjected to infractions in libel law.

Filipino protest in opposition of Cybercrime Law
by Enigma=Chadto group/  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The magistrates ruled that the filing of libel is made towards the original author of the article and not those who commented and share it in cyberspace. However, if additions were made to the post to insinuate additional materials to what was originally written, the republished article will be considered as an original material and the new author would likewise be subjected to libel charges.

Several journalists like the group, submitted questions for clarification from the magistrates. Among those that were touched, are public officials who are oftentimes subjected to intensive scrutiny by the public, due to the sensitivity of their positions. It was, however clarified that, the weight to negate the allegations for libel rest more on the government officials than those making the accusations. When the accused is a private citizen, the weight to negate the libel charges lies more on the accuser than the accused.

The implication of the cybercrime law still remains to be seen. How it will impact on the citizen’s right to free expression would lie entirely on how the law is applied. Meantime, everything is quiet until another unraveling hits the front pages to test the applicability of this law.


Philippine News: A Shot from the Hip
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