Quote of the Week:

"Where some people are very wealthy and others have nothing, the result will be either extreme democracy or absolute oligarchy, or despotism will come from either of those excesses." - Aristotle

Saturday, June 19, 2010

UP Jambangan Reminders

Hi guys. We're almost done with the needed stuff for the recognition of UP Jambangan. Here are some reminders and concerns:

1. I have already inputted your UP webmail accounts and e-mail addresses in the officers and members' roster section of the UP Jambangan page. So far, there are only 7 people who confirmed their memberships (Me, Sigrid, Ershad, Marlon, Ishmael, Ivy and Ace Ligsay). Please do confirm your memberships soon so that we will not encounter any problem in the near future.

2. A photo of the front of your UP Id is also needed. Please send me a copy of your UP id via this email address or you can upload it yourself once you confirm your membership. Thanks to Christa, Ace Cardenas, Ivy, Marlon, Mara, Bess, Al and Martin for having sent their ids to me. To the others, please do send it very soon.

3. The Form 5 which I asked you to submit is for our org records' purposes. Please give me a copy of your CTC Form 5. You may leave it at IC reception area or you can text me so that I may pick it up wherever it is convenient for you.

4. We sent 4 officers and a member to the Leadership Training Seminar yesterday. We still need 4-5 officers for the personal meeting and interview with OSA on Monday, 4:30pm. Please contact me if you are free on that hour. We need representatives for this meeting. This is a very important requirement for our org's recognition.

5. I would like to remind Nina, Sigrid and Marlon regarding the Gender Sensitivity Training on Wednesday, 23 June, 8am. Please be there before 8am. We should show the rest of the orgs that Jambangan is one of the punctual orgs in UP. And yeah, we still need one more officer to go with us and attend the said training. Again, this is a very important requirement for our organization to be recognized. If you would want to attend but you have classes, let me know. I will make an excuse letter for you (signed by me and our adviser, Ma'am Marot).

6. Our Regular General Assembly is scheduled on Friday, 25 June at the International Center conference room. As of posting time, it will push through. All members are required to attend the GA. Otherwise, you will have to pay the absent/late fine of P10. Also, please prepare the P20 which will serve as our monthly membership fee. I hope that we will not give our VP for Finance, Sigrid, a headache in collecting these funds for our org.

7. It is not too late if you still have friends who are interested in joining UP Jambangan. Just tell them to contact me so that I may include them in the roster.

Thank you very much, guys. I know that this will be a very fruitful academic year for everyone of us. Paglingkuran ang sambayanan!

Cheers,
Bong

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

EULOGY FOR PROF. EMILIA BONCODIN



EULOGY FOR PROF. EMILIA BONCODIN
Delivered 16 March 2010, 8pm at Sta. Maria Della Strada Parish, Katipunan, Quezon City

Good evening.

The University of the Philippines, especially the National College of Public Administration and Governance is one with the Boncodin family in sorrow.

Ma’am Emy, as most people would call her, had surely touched the lives of thousands of people, including mine. I first heard of Ma’am Emy’s name from my mom, who is working with DBM Region IX, after her appointment as Budget Secretary was made public. At that time, I just knew that she was one of the people who played a big role in steering the nation. Now, I know, she is more than that.

I remember entering her class on the first day of the semester when I had my Accounting class under her. Ambivalence was present, I would say. I didn’t know if it would be a great experience to be under a national figure, a former cabinet member, learning lessons essential to my future career as a public servant. I didn’t know if it was a great challenge, as well.

I had an up-close interaction with Ma’am Emy right after I finished my first long examination in her class. I had the chance to interview her. No holds barred. She talked about her DBM experiences. But what struck me the most was when she emphasized her true love for teaching. She mentioned that never will she trade her being a professor with whatever high-paying job this country can offer. In fact, I remember my mom’s story about Ma’am Emy’s dream of educating young minds in a traditional way – a way wherein she has to write on a chalk board. Truly inspiring, it is. Ma’am Emy has always shown her intense enthusiasm every time she comes to class. She never failed to be bubbly so as to inspire us and to make us love Accounting in a way we never could have imagined. Her subject was my most dreaded subject. I’m aware of the tedious process of the accounting cycle. After taking her class, there was a total turn-table. I learned to appreciate the intricacies of Accounting. She is the reason behind this. I always look forward to signing in her unused-hotel-notepad attendance sheets. I believe, my Accounting 1 classmates felt the same way. In her class, I found my home – I found the set of friends that I will treasure for life – the DF. Also, in her class, I found the value of the virtue of humility. Ma’am Emy has surely proven her worth. She could have isolated herself by standing on a pedestal. But she did not. She showed each one of the UP-NCPAG students how to keep your feet on the ground. This is one thing that I could have never appreciated, if not for her.

After one whole semester, I saw her undying zeal and passion for teaching. Indeed, she is an epitome of how people may perceive of a University of the Philippines professor.

An honest public servant. A dedicated academician. Emilia T. Boncodin.

Para sa babaeng naging dahilan ng aming mas pinaigting na pagmamahal sa bayan, pagpupugay!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ask. Dare me.

Do you have any question/s for Mr Arnie Bong Fernandez Arquiza? Go ahead, ask. Click this URL and he'll answer your DARING and BOLD questions. ..straight from his heart. <3

Formspring reprezzent!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

LB, the place to be.

(Fact or Fiction? You guess.)

These past few days, I have been bombarded with a lot of difficulties and problems that I am supposed to deal with. It is sad to note that I am having a hard time doing so. I need time to think, reflect and unwind; hence, the decision of leaving Diliman for a day.

“I gotta feelin’ that tonight’s gonna be a good night.. Lalala.”

This was the song which I was listening to as I was riding an HM bus bound for Los Baños, Laguna. I didn’t really have any serious plan to fulfill as I traveled from Diliman to LB. I just wanted some space, an escape from reality. Since I was already LB-bound, I wanted to meet up with a “friend” who I met in Facebook. Hell, yes. I am meeting someone who I barely know. All I know is that he is kind, kind and lastly, he is kind. The feeling that I had was something unexplainable.

Reservation. Anxiousness. But above these was excitement. I had some hunches that the person who I will be meeting will mean so much to me in the coming days (or even years). I don’t actually make ways to get to see strangers. This is my first time to meet someone who I do not know personally.

By the way, this is just my second visit to LB. The first one was when I attended the wake service of Dr. Emer Roman’s father. And now, I have earned all the guts to venture in a place that I know little.

Alighting from the bus, I saw a good friend, who is supposed to be my host for my entire stay in LB, waving at me. It was drizzling during that time. He first brought me to his apartment so that I may leave my stuff behind. Afterwhich, we went to tour around the campus of UPLB. The rain had stopped and we decided to proceed to a bar nearby.

As I was gulping the beer that I ordered for, I can’t help but imagine the situation that will most likely transpire should I see the “friend” face-to-face. In the middle of this wondering, I got a text message from him. He declared his arrival in LB and afterwards instructed me to go to McDonald’s.

*drumroll*

The moment of truth has arrived. I saw him from a far, around 15 meters or so. I knew that it was him. He and his profile photo looked very much alike. This made me sure that it was him. As I continued to approach, he noticed me. I nodded and started the conversation. “Kumusta?,” I asked. That’s the most common opening statement that I use especially when I am astounded by someone’s presence. We then went to a nearby pizza parlor to have dinner, and a little getting-to-know-you. I got to know lots of things about him. His full name. His being a commercial model. (Ha ha ha!) His past experiences. And some other things that I will never forget. In the middle of our conversation, I remembered the song that was playing in the iPod while I was still traveling. Indeed, my feeling was right. It was a good night. After quite sometime, we were through with our dinner. The mall where the pizza store was located was already closed. We even had to look for the back exit.

I would have to say that the dinner was the highlight of our meeting, but, my most cherished had not happened during the dinner. It happened moments before we parted ways. We shared a hug, a very warm hug. It was during that time that I felt the sincerity that he has. It was also during that time that I wished for him to be a lifelong friend. Above everything, it was also during that time when I realized, for the nth time, that God is so good. Amidst all problems that I was loaded with, He managed to introduce this wonderful friend to me.

A lot more cheesy and mushy moments happened between the two of us. I need not write it here. All I know is that he made me happy during my moments of sorrow. All I know is that he is God-sent.

As each minute passes by, I never fail to wish and hope that someday, somehow, we will see each other again. And when that time comes, I will make sure that it will be equally memorable relative to the brief encounter that we had in LB, the place to be.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Salamat, Tita Cory!



Tita Cory, salamat sa inspirasyon mo sa bawat Pilipino upang itaguyod ang Pambansang Demokrasya!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Paalam, Tita Cory.

I wish to thank President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino for putting forward the true brand of Democracy, one that is governed for and by the people. Isang pagpupugay sa iyo, Tita Cory, sa ngalan ng iyong pag-aalay ng sarili sa bayan. Mabuhay ka!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thank you, IC!

For and on behalf of the newly elected officers of the International Center Association, I would like to thank all of the residents who have become part of the success of the recently concluded elections of the UP International Center Association (UPICA) Council.

It is with great pleasure that I am accepting the challenge/s which the people of IC have given me. The mandate to be of service to my home away from home is very much overwhelming. I have been in this dormitory for only a month or two, but, I already feel that IC is not just a dormitory. It’s more than it. It is a family. Everyday experiences in IC are very different, I can say. Meeting different people with different nationalities is a lot more fun than I thought.

As one of your leaders, I will assure you that improved quality of dorm life will be seen within the next few months of our term. This will be possible with your cooperation.

Once again, thank you IC and Mabuhay!

Arnie “Bong” Fernandez Arquiza
Finance Secretary-Elect
UP International Center Assoc. Council

PS: Special thanks to Ma'am Imelda J. Jimenez, Dean Romeo P. Orio and Marc Titus D. Cebreros.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Literature Review: The State and Pattern of Philippine Public Tertiary Education by Arnie "Bong" Fernandez Arquiza

Introduction

The different countries in the world look up to institutions of higher learning in the Philippines. The public education sector, bannered by the University of the Philippines System, has helped in fostering development of the country by producing able leaders and various scientists and scholars. The government also provides financial assistance to state universities and colleges to advance researches in both the natural and social sciences, albeit inadequate.
The Commission on Higher Education of the Philippine government claims that the current system of education in the country is inefficient, of poor quality, lacks factors like access, equity, planning and leadership.
Conclusively, we can say that there is a need to inspect the state of the educational system in the country, especially those belonging to the public sphere.
Since 1995, the implementation of neo-liberalist policies of the government has been a pressing issue in the Philippine context. A part of these policies that they have started is the so called Long Term Higher Education Development Plan (LTHEDP) of 1995-2006 and has been revised several times, up to date.
Due to such policies implemented, issues like tuition and other fees increase arise in the education arena. Also, there are attempts to privatize public institutions; hence, the so called commercialization of education. Students claim that commercialization of education is when private sectors intervene in matters undertaken by the University. However, University of the Philippines President Emerlinda R. Roman defines commercialization to be the conversion of the institution into a “diploma mill”. The above-mentioned circumstances gave rise to a more militant student activism in the country.
For us to be able to grasp the real essence of this issue, we should look at its history. We are also being encouraged to inspect the preconditions on why the tertiary educational system today is as it is.
Studying the topic is relevant in a sense that it is a prevailing and unsolved issue in the country. It affects a number of Filipinos in a sense that most of our countrymen fail to gain the education that they deserve. This topic can be considered as a social issue, not just a personal trouble of the milieu, since it affects most structures in the country, like the government and the family. Many of the social orders are, in one way or the other, seriously concerned about the system of education in the country. Also, the education sector of the Philippines has proven itself to play a major part in shaping the nation’s history. Its continuous changing pace has developed significantly in terms of the country’s projection in world affairs.
This literature review will basically tell us the kind of educational system that we have here in our country. Also this will possibly make it clear as to the contributory material conditions that the system has to arrive to such a state.

History of the Pattern of Public Tertiary Education

The birth of the (state) university was during the Presidencies of James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln of the United States of America. The original plan was a college following the land-grant system. During those years, it is safe to conclude that there was no true university in the US. Instead, it was just a many-sided revolution of the different theories of tertiary education. In fact, progress in those years was based upon scientific, theoretical, philosophical and other types of advances. (Nevins, 1962).
In 1817, Jeremy Bentham published his work called Papers upon Codification and Public Instruction. It paved the way for the success of two universities. These two universities, the University of Berlin and University of London, were the two institutions that the United States looks up to. (Nevins, 1962).
To quote Allan Nevins, “Great social changes are never effected by ideas alone, but they are never affected without them, without passion behind the ideas. The most important idea in the genesis of land-grant colleges and state universities was democracy . . .” This statement, believably, is true. State universities are bounded by the principles of democracy. Alongside democracy, its constituents are given equal right to attain college education. There would also be an assumption that every child should be given the opportunity to take whatever career path he or she wishes to take. None of the scholarly foundations, be it science or any philosophy, could take away the role that democracy plays in attaining “quality” education. It is also assumed that the theme of the land-grant system is that every man has equal right and opportunity to attain any position, be it political or in a corporate sense, unlike in the traditional academia of the Greeks. (Nevins, 1962).
If we take a look at the history of the state universities and colleges, it clearly points us to one inventor: America. The innovation started when the United States introduced three modes of instructions: laboratory, recitation and lecture. Across the years, it is lecture and laboratory that withstood the storm. It went in perfect balance with each other. (Brubacher, et al, 1968).
The emergence of undergraduate curriculum came to the picture when scholars noticed the low population in higher education institutions. People care more about the manners that they would be able to grasp rather than the ideals and knowledge. (Brubacher, et al, 1968). The educational system focused on teaching students “how to form a gentleman” rather than making him a “full-blown thinking man”. To solve this dilemma, philosophers were able to think of a way: they decided to put the weight of college education on the student’s shoulder rather than his or her parents. A. L. Lowell of Harvard University even said that “all true education is self-education.” As the rise of self-education came, the merit system was also introduced, giving every student more drive to pursue a college degree.
The curriculum-based education came afterwards. They were able to develop curriculum without abolishing or completely obliterating the traditional one. (Brubacher, et al, 1968). This gave birth to the autonomous faculties and departments. As time went by, specialization in various fields became a reality. Afraid of the forthcoming diversification of the different specializations, academicians delivered series of lectures that would make the students appreciate the interrelatedness of each of the fields.

The State of Higher Education in the Philippines

The Commission on Higher Education said that there are a lot of reasons on why they formulated the Long-term Higher Education Development Plan in the 1990s. In 1994, there were already 1090 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines. It has increased by 25.57 percent from 868 in 1990. There were more private HEIs as compared to government-funded ones.
Another CHED study showed that enrolment rapidly increased in the succeeding years. But, there was this conclusion that majority of these enrollees did not really venture in courses which were necessary for national development, the technical and vocational courses. Disagreeable about this fact, still, most enrolled in courses like commerce, the engineering and the like. In line with the boom in enrollment, unemployment figures also increased at an alarming rate. Majority of the unemployed were graduates of non-board courses like information technology, the social sciences, etc.
With regard to courses with licensure examinations, the commission observed the decadence in passing rates of each of the HEIs. Strict regulation vis-à-vis the degree programs’ curriculums, policies were taken into consideration. In fact, a moratorium on opening of academic programs was enforced, though not sternly, by the agency. Even so, this did not solve the problem of diminishing quality of education and unemployment. State universities did not have the problem of profit-orientedness in the past, unlike the private ones. Institutions which were geared toward maximized profits were allegedly a factor to the declining quality of education.
The inequitable distribution of resources was among the problems that the public education sphere is facing. Budget for developmental research was also sacrificed.
Competent faculty members were also difficult to employ. The Salary Standardization Law for government employees, passed in 1989, is contributory to this, as this promotes uncompetitive wages. “Brain drain,” or the flight of skilled workers and professionals to foreign lands for greener pastures, aggravated the situation.
Past and present governments also push for the strengthening of the technical and vocational aspect of education, which is deemed wrong by most scholars.

Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan

The most controversial among all government policies is the Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan which was originally to cover periods from 1996 up to 2005. The researcher would dare say that the basic push factor of this plan is the “constitutional mandate”, as claimed. Article XIV, Section 3(2) of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic provides that “all institutions shall … promote vocational efficiency.”
The plan’s vision of the Philippines in the year 2000 is to be a newly industrialized nation, alongside South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. In 2005, it views the Philippines to be the Center of Education and Training in the Asia-Pacific Region. And in the year 2015, it will fully become an industrialized country with political maturity and economic stability. Education, accordingly, plays a big role in attaining this.
The primary mission of the LTHEDP is to make each individual a productive member of the society by providing the necessary knowledge and skills.
Among the planning assumptions for policy framework of the plan, item number four is the most disturbing. It reads, “Higher education institutions shall adopt management strategies to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in utilizing resources and maximizing educational outputs.” It is a subtle way of saying that the government intends to lay off from its responsibility of providing state subsidies to these public institutions of learning.
Increasing the tuition should be the last resort of institutions and should see to it that it would put premium on the quality and effectiveness of education. In a developing country like the Philippines, tuition and other fee increases have always and forever will be a political issue. But, if it is neither the state nor the students who should be burdened by these hikes, then who? (Imperial, 1982).
Most economists in the country would even compare education to a good or service that you can get at a particular price. This is a clear indicator that SUCs in the country is a tool in achieving social inequity.

Problems Faced by the Tertiary Education Sector

There are a lot of given problems that are related to the educational system. It can be observed that the system has expanded in an unprecedented scale within the last three decades. Most of the imbalances are brought forth by the development process in education. The Philippines, in particular, is facing a very intricate task in coping with the expansion, reshaping and revitalization of the system. Equal access and equal educational opportunity are both big time factors in the so-called positive development. (Dumlao-Valisno, 2000)
It can also be observed that social inequalities and educational inequalities go hand in hand in this spectrum. A huge case of student drop-out is apparent. In most cases, the poor ones are the ones going out of school, especially the girls.
Another issue is the quality of education that each one receives. It is often aligned to a high degree of selectivity or elitism. Equity and quality does not pose an innate conflict. In addition, quality of education has a variety of angles. In a more micro level, it can be referred as the knowledge or skills one has acquired. In an institutional level, it is pertaining to the standards of performance an institution exhibits.
If efficiency is one side of the coin, the other one is quality.
Most, if not all, educational systems are labor intensive. It shares a significant part with total-skilled manpower. The issue is how inputs are translated to useful outputs. External efficiency, the first aspect, talks about how a student gets out of the academe and gets ready for social living and employment. Internal efficiency on the other hand speaks more of the personal achievement of one’s educational goals. The third aspect is the qualitative efficiency or how much knowledge or skills one has gained. Studies show that there is a low rate when it comes to the internal efficiency. This is clearly manifested by the high drop-out rates in the country. (Aracelo, et al, 1979)
Effective lengths of study, faculty resources and utilization of infrastructures are factors pointing at the equilibrium of economic development and educational efficiency.
Surveys also declare that a large percentage of college students are not equipped with the necessary skills needed upon entering college. These students are deficient of the basic knowledge of the English language, the fundamentals of Mathematics and Science and the awareness that is needed in the social sciences. Alleged insufficiency of funds is one of the most overrated factors causing such. As they recognize this fact, critics also consider factors other than financial insufficiency. In fact, it is often stressed that democracy and literacy are two inseparable terms. (Sinco, 1959).
In the words of US President Tomas Jefferson, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, I a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” A country may be wealthy and yet it may be not willing to extend its funds to the educational sector. Insufficient funds per se are not to be used as the sole reason.
The ministers of education have always been engrossed with the problem of putting up infrastructures and opening more classes to accommodate the rapid increase in enrollees. They tend to forget the equal importance of producing better educated students.
We should not be complacent of the current educational system that we have. We should always bear in mind the adoption of an educational philosophy that is conducive to national unity for the full development of the potentials of each of the constituents.

Research Question/s

Having studied a number of literature regarding the pattern and state of the public tertiary education in the country, it is safe to conclude that there are questions left hanging. First, what will the future of the country be in terms of political maturity and economic stability relative to our employed educational system? Has the legitimate problems been addressed?
Another thing that we should look into is the dilemma whether the public tertiary education sphere is playing its role well given the fact that it is an offspring of democracy.
Above everything, the most important question which was unanswered is the role that the constituents would play in aiding the system to attain its full-blown development. Government agencies are burdened with the entire responsibility of watching over our education. It is safe to say that the people should also have its part.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Reflection Paper: Ataul for Rent

One of the most remarkable indie film that I have watched in my entire life is the film called Ataul for Rent, a film directed by Neal “Buboy” Tan. It stars Joel Torre, who played the role Guido, an embalmer, and Jacklyn Jose, who played the role of Pining, a jueteng kubrador and a make-up artis of both the dad and the living.

Ataul for Rent is a social satire showcasing the lives of people living in slums. Guido and Pining, a live-in couple, owns a small time funeral parlor. People living in that area are mostly atheist but will eventually call to God as soon as their time has come. Also, as dead bodies are displayed along the alleys of the squatters area, they turn the supposed-solemn activity in to what most Filipinos’ call saklaan. Amidst all these, there still exist a person known as Batul whose pure heart and innocence is able to watch and observe all the wrong-doings that are happening in the area. At the end of the story, the area was demolished violently and everybody was disenfranchised.

This is very much reflective of what truly happens in squatters’ area in the Philippines. As depicted in the movie, we always have the impression that criminals and “bad” people reside in slums. All kinds of criminals is said to be residing in the are: drug pushers, drug addicts, snatchers, gamblers, hold-uppers and a lot more.

As I was watching the movie, I can’t help but be mindful of how the government splurges public funds considering the people below the poverty line are present in the country. Though corruption, in theory, does not necessarily translate to development, yet people in power should consider the welfare of its constituents who are suffering from a lot of social problems.

Yes, it is true that people living in there are mostly, if not everyone, considered to be criminals. But, did we ask ourselves why these people become who they are? At the end of the day, we can conclude that should the government be able to provide them decent jobs, they could have ended up living decent lives.

I can say that it is generally the government’s fault why this is happening, but, we also have to self-examine. Have we done our part in uplifting both our families’ and country’s state? Think. Reflect. Then, speak.


N.B. Paper submitted to Prof. D. G. Centeno, Communication 3.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poverty at Its Finest.

It was just an ordinary day for a Social Science 1 class in UP last first semester of the academic year 2007 to 2008. After flashing several slides over the LCD projector, my professor excitedly announced a group project which we were required to submit at the end of the semester. The task was to create a documentary production which would present a prevailing social issue in the Philippine context. Everybody was eager to share both their stupid and their stupendous ideas. A couple of minutes of brainstorming took place. Voila! Our group’s topic emerged from nowhere. I, with my group mates, finally chose mysticism. We chose the topic since we thought that, despite its archaic nature, mysticism still is a prevalent practice in the modern Philippine society. Aswangs and mangkukulams have been spreading some sense eeriness around the far-flung areas in the country even to this day. The group further settled on the idea that everything will be shot at Mount Banahaw, the ever mystique mountain found in the town of Dolores, Quezon Province.
On the day when the group was to proceed with this adventure, everybody, yes, everybody was undoubtedly thrilled. With cameras ready, I rushed to the Jam Liner bus station at GMA-Kamuning to meet my fellows. Seated in the bus going to San Pablo in Laguna, I couldn’t even consent myself to catch some phosphene glare each time I blink my eyes. Tremendously excited, I was. A couple of numb knees and a sore butt later, we finally arrived at Dolores. Kuya Jessie, a native of the place and our would-be tourist guide, welcomed us to their ramshackle little crib of some sort. I laid my luggage down and posed my self to finally eat supper, one that was prepared by Ate Vicki, Kuya Jessie’s wife. I rejoiced over the fact that we were to eat dinner in a matter of seconds, so, I rushed to their dining table and got a good grasp of my plate and utensils. My jaws nearly dropped in awe when I found out that our dinner was nothing more than just rice and soup, or so what they call it. Soup? Nah-uh! I’d rather call it boiled water with salt and a dash of pepper. At that very instant, I was ambivalent whether or not I could live through my hours of hunger. However, my physiological need was something that I couldn’t fight back. Never in my life had I eaten something as plain as that. I don’t know if I’m just an ostentatious type of the Homo sapiens, but, I liked not a single bit of what my stomach digested. The so-called dinner finally came to an end.
After dinner, my team set up the camera beside a nearby balete tree and started shooting. Urgh! I didn’t even see a single orb in our footage. I began to think that we chose some crappy theme. As the self-proclaimed director of the production, I ordered the packing up of the shoot. Yahoo! Sleeping time shall soon follow.
It has always been my bedtime ritual to brush my teeth and foam my face. I asked Kuya Jessie where their comfort room was. He, then, accompanied me to an eerie spot which they called their comfort room. Comfort could never have been in that place, I tell you.
At long last, I got the chance to have my back rested. Or so I thought. I saw this fixture in the bedroom with nothing to cover it. I asked my friend what that thing was and, to my surprise, again, that, to them, was a bed. I had no choice but to give myself some sleep for another tiring day that was yet to come.
The next day, I woke up to Kuya Jessie’s call for breakfast. I wasn’t, at all, enthusiastic since I rarely eat breakfast on usual days plus the fact that I had such a strange experience with the “dinner” the previous night. Still, I washed my face, did some gargling and proceeded to the dining table. Well, I was not, at all, surprised to see a bottle of the ever-famous Silver Swan soy sauce and a hump of steamed rice. That, my friends, was our delectable breakfast.
After preparing ourselves, we hiked towards the foot of Mount Banahaw. A river at the site was flowing swiftly. It is a belief in their town that drinking water from the river will rejuvenate one’s spirit and may even cure illnesses such as cancer. As the hosts of the show, we were obliged to follow this practice. One by one, we dipped our hands and gulped some ounces of spring water. At that point, the water seemed to taste as though it had a of minerals in it. Everybody felt refreshed. We, then, trekked upstream and ended up seeing people washing piles of clothes and numerous kitchen wares. I immediately felt horrendous. At that instant, I felt like puking. I held my breath for sometime to ease myself quite a bit. I couldn’t describe the anger I felt towards whoever was too irresponsible not to have provided a plumbing system for those people so as not to disturb the life that the river has to sustain.
To redirect our horrible feeling, we decided to take a quick dip in to the spring water the river offered. For a while, I felt unperturbed. While we were soaking wet, we continued with our purpose of visit and interviewed some of the people bathing. We, then, found out that legends have deemed the river sacred. Everyone who had the chance to bathe in the river shall be freed from any disease, accordingly. The footage then has been completed.
On our way home, we saw to it to drop by a restaurant just to give ourselves real food - something we were deprived of having for the entire trip. It was only after fulfilling our task that I realized that I was not thrilled by the mysticism which connotes only the supernatural. Moreover, I realized that what was and still is truly mysterious is the fact that, even with the claims of the false president, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, that the Philippines has been making leaps forward, people living in the barrios still live lifestyles which they do not deserve. I realized that I wasn’t just the braggart who went to the remote areas to pick on their destitution. I was the providential UP student who was given the rare chance and opportunity to experience how it is to live in the shoes of people who barely eat three times a day.

(I submitted this as a requirement in my English 1 class under Prof. Maria Celeste Coscolluela. I got a 1.75 for this narrative essay.)

Acknowledgement:
Nestor Kilian Tabada for the editing.