Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Touch of Man's Darkness and Evil

It was an afternoon in the early days of June 2012. I was rushing out of the office to meet up with my sister. We were to see a man who deals with those table top coffee dispensing machines that we would like to set up at Thinkers' Hub, the Internet cafe that we've struggled to keep up-float.

I was running down the stairs at the office, "texting" her that I'm on my way. Putting my cellphone in bag, a thought flashed my mind, "what if I lose the cellphone now." Since it was more of a flash than an actual thought, I continue hurriedly on to wait for a "jeepney". It was rush hour and not only a few people waited at the "jeepney" stop near the office. Anxious not to be late, and since I am the one in constant communication with the dealer, I decided to walk towards the next "jeepney" stop.  

At the jeepney stop, there were also a lot of people there waiting for a ride. I was already standing there willing for one vacant jeep that I can ride in when a thought crossed my mind to call one of our vendors to remind him of a contract we are working on. I got the cellphone from my bag and tried calling him but when there's no immediate answer I just turn the phone off. I was about to open my bag and put it there again when a vacant jeepney made a u-turn in front. Fearing not to get a ride in that one jeep that is not overloaded with passengers, I put the phone in my pocket at the last minute and join the queue of eager passengers. I stand there in front of the jeepney steps for quite a while not sure why it took me that long to board the jeep at that time.

As far as I can remember, there was a man with a black shirt holding the bar of the jeep's entrance effectively blocking my way. Then there's another man at my right doing the same thing while allowing other passengers to pass through. When the jeep was quite full, a man in a white shirt stands up and said he will just stand at the jeep's entrance. Once that man in the white shirt got out and stand on the right side of the jeep, there appears to be a wide enough space for me to get through and board the jeep.

Steeping up inside the jeep, I felt something was taken out from me but not knowing what is it i just get on to inner part of the jeep and sat down. A moment later, a man in a white shirt set beside me and saw him holding a cellphone in his lap. Seeing the edge of the phone in his lap give quite a jolt. Then and there I searched my pocket and my bag for my phone. Knowing instinctively that I could not find it anywhere with me.

However, I keep searching my bag for about 5 to 10 minutes when some man sitting near the entrance of the jeep said "epektibo jud?" and the man beside me said "epektib kaayu." 

Somehow, deep within me I know its them. But even, after that I keep rummaging through my bag and my pockets hoping that I can still find my cellphone.

When I get off the jeep, I was drenched in the rain, I don't where my sister was and the man we are supposed to met. Not finding my sister in the meeting place, I went home and hoped she made contact with the vendo man all the while worrying what will my boss with me losing the phone that is entrusted to me by the company.

When I get home, I asked my other sister to text our eldest sister that I lost my phone. 

I wanted to cry but the tears barely shed from my eyes because I was angry. I wanted to cry because that time, I don't have money to buy a new phone. And I am seriously worried about losing the trust of the people who entrusted me to use and care for that important business tool.

I was also angry...
Angry at the those people, angry of being victimize. Angry that i can't do anything even if i was quite certain who among those inside the jeepney took my phone.

I was a victim. The victim. Where before I only read and hear news of shoplifting... now I experienced it first hand. Hearing news and stories about similar incidents I can't think of any reason that would justify thievery. Now, being a victim and having a glimpse of the evil personified... the usual alibi of poverty and hunger will no longer hold true. At least to my mind... for the people who had my phone is as well-heeled as the next guy on the street.

GRRRRRRRR!




 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Being Christians-- Cebuano's Quandary Over a Catholic School's High School Graduation

There never has been a high school graduation in the history of Cebu that has become so controversial and perplexing religiously and legally than that of St. Theresa's College High School graduation last March 30, 2012. Perplexing... well at least to me.

The Catholic school was sued by the mother of one of the five of the high school graduating class for banning the students from joining in the graduation rites. The ban was imposed as penalties for breaking serious school rules provided in their student handbook.  According to reports the said students were found guilty of posting photos of their bikini clad bodies on their Facebook accounts with alcohol and cigarette in the mix. The photos, as claimed by the student's father in one of the reports, were taken during the birthday party of one of the five students held at some beach resort in Lapu-lapu City.

A day before the graduation rites, the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to the school to cease and desist imposing the penalty and to allow the students to march. The school, however, stood their ground and refused the students and their parents entrance to the school.

Now the school will most likely face some legal debacle on top of the civil suit filed by one of the parents for blatantly ignoring an order from a court of law.

The controversy had sprung a lot of views and rhetoric from all those who cared to voice their opinion.  Some rose to the defense of the school while others strongly denounce the actions of the administration. A lot took pity on the students while others could not help but think that they brought it on themselves for their alleged indiscretion and irresponsibility. There are also those who are inclined to blame the parents for what happened before Facebook happens.
These and more arguments and views were expressed in and out of those embroiled in this controversy. Taking a stand on this issue without appearing to be too hypocritical or too permissive is not easy. But, no matter what they say, theirs one point of argument that all parties call to their defense--the Christian and un-Christian way. An argument so "multi-pronged" that oftentimes you find yourself arguing against your own defense. So trying not to take sides, here is my take on the issue:

The School.
As a Catholic school it is St. Theresa's College's sacred Christian duty to act as guide for the students who come to them to learn and to be molded in Christian teachings.  Establishing policies and  a code of good behavior and imposing disciplinary actions for transgressions against such a code is expected and within their right. With all sorts of threats to a rightful Christian way of life in our modern world... Christian institutions such as these should strive harder and more vigilant in guarding what those values and principles that true Christians ought to have. Instilling discipline and prohibiting students from doing something that is contrary to Christian teachings to the extent of exacting punishment by any Christian school is imperative. The school, I expect, is not doing it out of mere pride in protecting its reputation. A drop of blood does not make the whole ocean red, after all. The intention, I believe was to impress upon the minds of the young the seriousness of their alleged actions. An action that, in their youth, seems to be harmless entertainment. As was often said, sometimes one needs to be cruel in order to be kind--and at times you need to protect those who are intrusted in your care even from their own folly.

As reports go, the extent of the students are punishment ends with them being banned from the graduation rites. However, they are still considered graduates and can proceed on to college.
The thing here is that, when you enroll in a certain school you have not only agreed to submit yourself to its academic teachings but as well as the development of your own person in accordance to the standards set by the school of your choice. Then you are expected to exhibit a certain kind of behavior and action that identifies you as one with the school. It is like taking multiple subjects and pass all of them except for one. Now with that failing subject, you cannot claim to have sufficient knowledge of it, therefore you will not be entitled to any rights and privileges that goes with passing that subject. This situation is no different, the students have actually pass all the academics that makes them eligible to proceed with whatever academic pursuit they would want after high school. But there's one thing they have failed. They failed to live by the behavioral standards required for those students who deserve the right the privilege to proudly accept their diploma in front of those people present as witnesses of the triumph of the young "Theresians". The school reserves all the rights to set standard, steadfastly guard against deterioration of that standard and deny those that they have found seriously lacking. That is not un-Christian.

However, Christian teachings also taught us compassion and forgiveness. It calls us to be fair, to mete out offenses with just punishment equivalent to the degree of the violation. But as an outsider, I cannot rightfully determine whether this punishment is just or excessive. Only those parties involved can rightfully judged the appropriateness of what's been given out.

The Parents.
Identifying with the predicament of their children, they too have the right to assert and fight, for whatever it's worth, the rights of their children that they believed had been unjustly violated. It is but natural for them to also stand for what they believed was rightfully theirs to claim.
In this case, they have come to the aid of their children who they believed committed only the slightest of  errors that no compassionate person or institution should be able to mete out with a punishment that will have a lasting psychological effect as being refused to stand in proudly to accept the fruits of long years of toil and obedience to the school that they regarded as an important extension of their family. It hurts when people readily judged you for one mistake, but it hurts more when those people whom you trusted, whom you believed will understand you better than anyone else and whom you believed will have more compassion, turn their backs at the most important moment of your life. Just when you needed them most. Or the life of their children in this case. To these parents, that one time of youthful folly and harmless entertainment thus, need a serious repercussions for the children but not to the extent of nullifying everything that these children achieved and learn from those they have intrusted to mold and care for them. And refusing these children the privilege of joining with their peers in celebrating the culmination and success of their years of hard work thus seem to nullify previous good behavior.

The Court.
Well, I don't really have much to say for I am not familiar with the workings of the legal system. I have however one question regarding the temporary restraining order (TRO). It does seem to me that the TRO has not become temporary but an order against the school without first having really totally deliberated the case. A some sort of verdict, without the actual hearing. Why? We'll I don't know. It's just that the graduation is a one time event. Issuing the TRO and ordering the school to let the student join without the actual hearing of the merits of the school's actions undermines the rights of the school. So what if after the hearings, position papers, and whatever that is that needs to be done for the court to come up with a decision and close the case, it decided in favor of the school. What then will happen, if the court had previously ordered for the children to join in the ceremony? Can the previous order be reversed knowing that, that graduation happens only once? 
On the other hand, however, if there was no TRO given and the students, were as what happened, barred from joining the ceremony and then the court decided that the children really does have the right to walk and received their diplomas on the school's stage. Can the court order the school to have another graduation just to let these children have what was previously denied of them? And would it still be essentially the same for the children? This may sound idiotic, and I do feel somewhat like and idiot running this round and round my mind.
But then, isn't it just a little bit idiotic to resolve something as abstract as the concept of morals, compassion and humility under the premise of logic, hard facts and undeniable evidence in the court of law as imperfect as we humans who made them are?

The Students.
For the students, I don't exactly know what they've been through. I don't read or hear any direct quotes from them from the reports. However, I have to say this. Life is not fair. Live with it but strive to be just. We often make mistakes, that is another fact of life. Learn from it, move on and prove to no one else but yourself that you are bigger than your mistakes and become better than you already are.
 
Most of all, know that God do not judge as harshly as people does.  As a line from the famous poem Desiderata goes, "Be gentle with yourself.. and Strive to be happy"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Love Affair With Innodata Part2

"...In the greater scheme of things, however, what I have become because of Innodata--the wonderful journey of becoming in Innodata's fold--far outweighs any pain that I had suffered. In fact, pain is all a part of those wonderful romance, that I, when given another opportunity would willingly embrace again."  
So I said in my blog of this title--minus the Part2 part--posted on February 3, 2009. Written due to some serious bout of nostalgia, I had never thought then that I would again find myself in Innodata's instructing embrace a few months later. May of the same year, I was taken in again by my beloved. And yet again, December of 2010-- I left.
When asked by a friend why I left when it is obvious that I love that company so much; all I can say is that sometimes you need to distance yourself from those that you love so that you can give them more. Ironic huh? But that's true. 
Moving around gives you a lot of perspective. A lot more points of reference on how you see, evaluate and understand things.
But this time, I have actually not move around. I stayed put, waiting. Waiting for the right time to return...to connect again. And I did not wait long.
A couple of months after that I have returned.  In a different name... but connecting to the same beloved Innodatans. This time the experience is more demanding but definitely from more instructive. 
The second chapter of this love affair was teaching me, among other things, on how to deal with attitude's you least like or hated even. You avoid them like the plague. You shake your head. You hold back. And you run. Just to avoid these type of people.
But sometimes fate do this to you.You are pushed to the wall, where all you can do is close your eyes for a few moments, take a deep breath then face it head on. You have to endure it in order to learn and deal with your own fears. And dealing with it, I did. Can you imagine being told that you make up stories in your mind and believed it--just because you are viewing things very differently than this person does! Hey, what am I, a nut case?!? Another major part of that among other things in the teaching department is acceptance plus forgiveness. Accept the attitude...period. Forgive malicious intent with no conditions.
Leaving strengthens the learning. It does, for me... always! Right now I am where I need to be. To experience, to endure, to learn. But most of all... this time I should keep my eyes on the joys of working. Find happiness in the job I often enough lost sleep over. Happiness and a sense of fulfillment do, without a doubt, see you through any plague
...Or else ... you'll be reading part 3 of where I spend the biggest chunk of my career, sooner than I intend to. :D