Friday, June 22, 2007

Going back to (Graduate) School

Nineteen years ago, I had passed 13 comprehensive exams to complete the academic requirements for a Master in Business Administration degree. I also defended a thesis proposal on transportation needs in General Santos City.

Nineteen years ago, I transferred from a private Catholic college to a state university here. It was some culture shock I went through. From syllabi-bound and guided teaching to an academic freedom-driven one. I still remember my shock at being told at the university that the grading system is up to me (you decide the passing grade, you decide the raw score equivalents of 1.0 to 5.0).

For 19 years, I've helped send four siblings through school until they finished their college degrees. After a brief respite, I then sent nieces through school because their parents couldn't afford to do so (after producing a lot of them!)

Now it's my turn for me to be sent by myself to school. To reinstate my residency and eventually complete my MBA, I now need 15 units of academic subjects and 6 units of Research which basically will take 2 semesters and 1 summer.

What's weird is I'm enrolled in courses which I also teach in the undergraduate. Teacher by day, student by night. In my Human Resources Management class, I have two former students as my classmates. It's also a good thing I'm not the only "senior" student in class.

I look forward to attending my grad school subjects. Probably it's because I've always been a student at heart. I just love the cerebral stimulation in grad school.

Pac Man goes to College

As a teacher, it warms my heart to see the eagerness of Manny Pacquiao to earn a college degree. While he initially announced his interest in pursuing a degree in Political Science which will eventually lead to a law degree, after the elections, he decided to enroll in a Business Administration degree. This, for me, is a telling sign of how he regards lawyers after his dismal failure in the May elections. He has already taken the entrance exam at Notre Dame of Dadiangas University (NDDU) and I heard he is to be a student under a home study program in consideration of his boxing career.

He's back on the right track. His honor and integrity, while briefly tarnished by his short political foray, will be shining bright again as a beacon of hope for young Pinoys. I've always believed in his good heart and intentions which were unashamedly manipulated by others. I believe he has learned his lessons and will never let himself be used as pawn again. He may have made some wrong moves in the recent past, but he is willing to do what he thinks is right. Let's give him another chance. Good luck Pac Man to your studies!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Island Hopping in the Philippines

My Lakbayan grade is B-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

The map of the Philippines above shows how many places I've been to - thanks to the annual National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) where I served as consultant and coach to the contestants of Regions 11 and 12, the seminars I've attended as participant and resource person, and the few times I've saved enough to spend summers and Christmases there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Morphing My Face

This interactive software of Perception Laboratory called Face Transformer is so fun! I uploaded my ID picture and Voila! Here are some of the facemorphs that resulted:

Me as a child, a teener and a senior citizen!

My portraits if they were done by Botticelli, El Greco and Modigliani!

Gilbert as a West Asian, African-Caribbean and Caucasian!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wanted: Readers/Reading in Films

When a TV station announced the Reading Room, a Hallmark film, as its weekend feature, it got me all excited, for obvious reasons. For one, I'm a bookworm. For another, this is one film that features reading and readers removed from the classroom and library setting.

After the memorial service for his wife, William Campbell, played by James Earl Jones, watched one home video and in it his wife broached the idea of opening a community reading room in a storefront business he owns in his former inner-city neighborhood. Using their library collection and personal money, Campbell opened it and immediately earned the suspicions of various residents.

Children and teeners thirsting for knowledge and hobbies slowly trooped into the Reading Room. Campbell's main problem was how to keep it open in spite of his being mugged and threatened. The Reading Room was also slightly burned but somehow that only spurred Campbell to continue with his wife's legacy. Through books and magazines, he was able to touch the lives of many people in the community.

Unlike other films where libraries, readers and reading serve only as backdrops to some scenes, the Reading Room is the main focus where most of the action takes place. Its collection of books and magazines is modest compared to Lex Luthor's yacht library in Superman Returns. The film was endorsed by the National Center for Family Literacy of America.

Among local films, Abakada Ina starring Lorna Tolentino as an illiterate mother comes to mind. Her mother-in-law (a teacher) looks down to her because she is "useless" and "unreliable." When one of her kids gets sick and the doctor prescribes some medicines, the latter has to put some colored stickers on the bottles to help her distinguish which to give for what symptoms. When one sticker gets unstuck, Lorna in her confusion gives the wrong medicine to her kid. When the kid gets hospitalized as a result, she realizes the importance of literacy. And in the final scene, she is seen with her daughter in class.

In local cinema and TV programs, there is a dearth of positive roles showing readers in real-life terms. Readers are often portrayed as nerds and shrinking mimosa types complete with eyeglasses and thick book props. In one weekend show, a reader is shown as such but with a superpower (invisibility)!

How I wish there were more positive reader roles in local entertainment like those in The Emperor's Club, Dead Poets Society, Finding Forrester, among others. With a literacy rate of 94%, why is this not reflected on local film and TV? Is it an inherent conflict of interest?

Friday, June 1, 2007

It's CoTAbato!!! or the persistence of its misspelling

Before writing this blogpost, I googled for the word CoTObato and found 74 pages of websites (or 7,400 websites) where CoTAbato is misspelled.

It's a shame, I tell you:

To my surprise, even national/regional/provincial/local government offices misspell CoTAbato!

One blog commenter even claims to have lived in CoTAbato for 17 years and yet cannot spell it right to show for those years of living in that part of our country. If a local resident cannot even spell it right, can we expect other non-residents to do so correctly?

Even a website called Mindanao.com has misspelled it eight times!

During the campaign and vote canvassing for the last election, national papers covering Manny Pacquiao's candidacy misspelled it!

Even Wikipedia is not exempted from this misspelling!

Persistent Misspelling/Mispronunciation

Since I learned to read in the 1950s, I became aware of misspelling CoTAbato as CoTObato. It irked me then and still irks me now. With the great strides in technology, the built-in spell checkers and auto-correct features in browsers and word encoding programs, the misspellings are still as rampant as weeds.

The name "Cotabato" is derived from either the Maguindanao kuta wato or Malay kota batu, meaning "stone fort", which makes it a very good memory aide. CoTAbato as in KUTAng bato "stone fort." NOT CoTObato as in KUTOng bato "rock lice" (see picture below right).

Repeat after me, Co-TA-ba-to as in KUTAng bato!

Theories for the persistence of misspelling/mispronunciation:

1. Low awareness is out of the question. With the mainstream media spouting good and bad news about CoTAbato, there is definitely medium to high awareness about this region. A folk song, Ang Bayan Kong Sinilangan originally sung by Asin and still popular up to now, contained five CoTAbatos in its lyrics. In UP campuses, there's a prominent group called Kutang Bato with members coming from CoTAbato.

2. POOR Editing. With the spell checker underlining the CoTObato in red and auto-correct features that can correct its misspelling every time it appears in a document, it becomes clear that the encoder is just too l-a-z-y to edit it. Even those who are supposed to be in the know are just too lazy to do so, thus perpetuating the misspelling.

3. Discrimination. While Cebu has never been spelled as CebO/SEbo/SEbU, the VisayaS has been plagued by the missing terminal s (the Visaya/Bisaya). With the misspelling of the VisayaS and CoTAbato, is this because people in Imperial Manila discriminate against promdis (those from the provinces)?

4. As to its mispronunciation, is it easier on the tongue to say CoTObato than CoTAbato? Unlike the case of Butuan which is seldom misspelled but often mispronounced (Locals insist it should be "But-wan" (two syllables) rather than "Bu-tu-an" (three syllables) because of the latter's Visayan sexual connotation, is it easier to say CO-TO because of the rhyme than the rhymeless CO-TA?