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11:59 P.M. Ramblings

My schedule is in a limbo these days.  What with all the upcoming papers for two conferences and a looming project deadline on the other hand.  Next month, classes in the graduate school will once again start and I am left to wondering how I will fit all these in my schedule.  Still, I am blogging right now.  Blogging as a way to de-stress and not to think of all the deadlines.  I am also going through my Twitter feed and reading the thread of pro- and anti-president tweets.

I do not like this current president.  So it is safe to say that I do not like his administration too.  Well not all but most.  I detest his policies and his personality.  These days I vacillate between praying for the Philippines and asking forgiveness from God for the resentment I harbor in my heart against the current administration.

It is a daily struggle, a daily conscious choice to ask for forgiveness after I keep forgetting and say [or tweet] something against it.  Never in my whole life had I imagined getting to a point like this where I would say that I did not like a sitting president.  I had always considered myself a nationalist.  One who loved her country so much and supported anything that would be beneficial for the nation and the society.  But today…it is a different story.

Last week, there were three violent political deaths.  A mayor, a vice mayor and a councilor were shot dead — in broad daylight.  All for the world to see.  Life seems to be getting cheaper these days.  I shake my head at how easy it is to take a life in our time right now.  The thought of it makes me a bit scared and more prayerful.  Every day, I say a prayer of covering for my loved ones and for some outspoken critics of the administration.  A four-year-old boy died in a shootout between police officers and suspected drug addicts.  He was a bystander, an innocent one.  What have we become?  What have we, as a society, allowed simply because we have stayed silent?

Next on my thoughts as I scroll through my Twitter feed are the tweets of an jf;ajfasjdf;al*** named benign0.  His name does not even warrant a capital letter.  Like the president he supports, I detest him too.  Loathe.  I have a strong aversion to people like him who attempt to sound intellectual but cannot even write a proper essay or blog post for that matter.  His writing is bad and sloppy.  It is not even backed up by journal articles or hard data like statistics.  All that he has is a strong loyalist sentiment which he thinks can make up for his lack of writing and research skills.

He came close to my “loathing radar” when he tweeted about how Tagalog is “not an intellectualizing dialect.”  Wow.  He cannot even get his facts straight.  A dialect is very much different from a language.  Tagalog is one of the major Filipino languages.  For all his intellectual wannabe posturing, he cannot even get that single fact straight. A dialect is “a regional variety of a language.”  That being said, the kind of Cebuano spoken in places like Dalaguete, Bohol and in some parts of Mindanao are dialects of the Cebuano language.  There are eight (8) major Filipino languages: Tagalog, Ilocano, Bicol, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Waray.  This is a basic fact often taught in Philippine History classes.  But maybe benign0 was either absent or asleep when this lesson was taught as he could not distinguish between the two.  Alas, such is the fate of those who cast that stone against their own identity.  Rizal puts it nicely when he said “ANG HINDI MAGMAHAL SA SARILING WIKA AY HIGIT SA HAYOP AT MALANSANG ISDA.”

Procrastinating blues and Historian skills

(A cross-post from my Medium site posted last May 25, 2018)

Image via Evernote Twitter (by Gemma Correll)

If one were to follow Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega’s post about focusing on two main things as a daily agenda, I should be working on my L.E.T. review presentation and my Chinese mestizos paper which is due next week - I mean the draft.

Instead, I am surfing through Calls for Papers for 2019 and 2020 and reading posts on historical writing on the American Historical Association (AHA) website.

In a post written by Jean Jules Jusserand, he describes History as . . .

“History is not simply an art, nor simply a science; as the accompanying papers well show, it participates in the nature of both. In the hunt for facts and the ascertaining of truth, the historian must be as conscientious as the scientist. In the presentation, he must be an artist, a true one,. . .”

Reading the AHA posts reminded me of three former professors of mine from U.P. (University of the Philippines). I remember one of them telling me that if I decide to be a historian or a History professor, I would have to develop the skills of teaching, research, and writing.

According to Dr. Teodoro, one can be a good historian (publishing and doing research) but not necessarily a good teacher or one who can impart his knowledge well in the classroom. He told us that we must aim to develop our teaching, research and writing skills. As a history major, it is important to improve one’s public speaking skills so that when we read papers, we do it eloquently complete with proper cadence and rhythm. I still recall his words more than a decade after he told us that.

Another area he told us to work on was the rigor in historical research. He was the professor who would declare in the loudest of voices, “Rigor, rigor, rigor! Your papers must have rigor.” Today, I still hear those words whenever I am rereading my papers in grad school before sending them off to my professors. For him, history majors must be rigorous and founded on sound historical methodology. Truth be told, I still find some of my papers wanting on rigor whenever I go over them.

"Food and..." conference, March 2018

Attending a conference last March reminded me of sir Teodoro’s words. The papers that were read by some graduate students who were Ph.D. candidates reminded me of the rigor and style he once admonished us to follow. It probably is inappropriate to call a paper “beautiful” but one paper that was read was so beautifully written and read that it did not need a PowerPoint presentation. I enjoyed listening to the presenter’s rhythm and cadence while reading her paper. One could practically imagine the context of the paper while listening to her read it.

I want to develop that skill. That was one of my goals after my March trip. Develop my skills in writing and research so that my papers have rigor, are clearly written and interesting when read and listened to. That explains why I am back to writing on this site. I want to collect my drafts in one place and get back to them when I have the downtime to do so.

Another skill I saw during that conference was the teaching side. One of the presenters was an awardee for excellent teaching. The university where he is enrolled in for his graduate studies gave him the award for developing a course based on his dissertation. It was a class that focused on the history of baseball in the United States.
Working on my Chinese mestizos paper seems to have gotten me nostalgic. I am remembering the words of three of my professors today: Dr. Teodoro, Dr. Guerrero, and Dr. Veneracion.

Ma’am Mila Guerrero was the professor who kept reminding us about the need for us to write essays with smooth transitions and clear topic sentences. Today, some Twitter academics say that academic writing is challenging for graduate students because they are not formally taught to write and write well but I look back to my professors in UP and I am grateful that, alongside the content, they would give us snippets of writing and research advice.

Dr. Veneracion was a professor of mine who taught the Philippine Revolution class in grad school (the Katipunan phase). In that course, he required us to read William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well” before we started doing our research project looking for Katipuneros’ descendants. I loved reading Zinsser. He was an advocate of writing simply, using simple words and reducing clutter when writing. I am still guilty of clutter when writing. I still reread Zinsser in between doing research and reading for my research projects. His writing tips are timeless and helpful for graduate students and academics.

With that said, I got to get back to working on my L.E.T. review presentation. Sometimes, I still find it a challenge to shift between modes - that of being a researcher, a teacher, and a graduate student. Then there’s the pressure from within of doing well in all these areas. As my mom chided me the other day, “Tsi, kalma lang (Relax). Take it easy. You’re the girl who’s in a hurry to do everything you missed in the last five years. You only have 24 hours in a day.” 🙂

*First posted last May 25, 2018 on my Medium site

Life is short

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Photo from my aunt, tita Arlene — taken earlier today during tito Melvin’s interment in Liloan

Life is short.  That is why it is important to tell your loved ones especially family how much you love and appreciate them.  Sometimes it may be too late to say “I love you.”

I learned that with my uncle, tito Melvin’s passing.  He was only 56. He was my mom’s younger brother.  I always thought he would live on until he was 70 or 80.  His death was sudden and happened very fast.  Last June 02, he had a mild stroke and was admitted to the hospital.  He was scheduled to be released on the fifth day when another stroke hit him, rendering him unconscious.  We visited him at the ICU before I left for Manila last Monday not knowing that it would be the last time I would see him alive.

My dad and I got back from Manila last Thursday dawn.  I went home before my students’ proposal hearing only to wake up with the news that Tito Melvin had passed away.  I had planned on visiting him again at the ICU.

I regretted not telling him last December how much I appreciated and admired him for raising his four kids to be well-disciplined, hardworking and driven.  I had always thought he would always be there.  I was wrong.  I should have told him then how he had accomplished so much and how I was always proud of how he raised his family.  I should have told him how much I appreciated his ready smile, his warmth and the questions he would ask me about what I was doing whenever we would meet during family gatherings.

His passing hit me hard about how we often hold back words of appreciation and love instead of saying it out loud.  A painful lesson I learned this week and one I hope to remedy in the coming years with family and friends.

Goodbye, tito Melvs.  I hope you left knowing how much your kids loved, admired and appreciated you.  I hope you knew how much I admired how you and tita Willette raised your kids.  I’m sorry I never got around to telling you this and “I love you” before you passed on.


Texas Tech

Photo mine — March 2018 trip

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  — Theodore Roosevelt

Today, the verse “. . . godliness with contentment is great gain” kept running through my mind as streaks of restlessness kept coursing through my heart and mind, filling them with anxiety.

I remembered how it was last year when I was ecstatic and very happy with my new job as a Museum Researcher with a flexible schedule and a part-time workload.  A month after that, I started my graduate studies in History and it has been quite a year of fun, happiness, fulfillment and of seeing dreams fulfilled until this month. . .

The world has a way of leaving you thirsty and hungry for more.  Yes, you get the job you have always wanted to do, a job that allows you to do the things you love to do but then a small voice at the back of your head comes and whispers, “Maybe there’s more to this, a bigger project or a better schedule” and then the restlessness starts again.  I empathize with the guinea pig in the cage running for his life in circles, never reaching a destination.

That’s when it hit me tonight as this verse kept running through my head.  A subtle but strong reminder from God to be content where I am right now and to move slowly and in accordance with His timing.

Could it be that I started getting restless after reading posts in the net about girl bosses under 30 years old?

Did it have something to do with seeing an Instagram post about celebrities going places, shopping, starting their own businesses?

Have I fallen trap into the social comparison syndrome and the social media jealousy syndrome that makes one forget how blessed she is right now?

Now that I think about it, I can say “yes” to all three questions.

Social media is a powerful tool in our age today.  It has the power to move people into action, make them buy things they do not really need, inspire positive social action and, yet, studies have shown that it has also bred jealousy, insecurity and depression in some (if not most) people after seeing friends’ posts about milestones, celebrations and successes.

Surely, one cannot hide under a rock and unfriend all his friends on social media who have posted their triumphs and successes.  It is how we view things and respond to these posts.

It is what we fill our minds that matters.

The question here is “do we trust God enough to wait for His timing and trust His good and perfect plan for us even if we want something bigger, better and more financially lucrative?”

At the end of the day, God reminded me that this boils down to an issue of the heart.

Am I willing to rest in His perfect plan for me? 

Will I be humble enough to sync my steps with His, allowing Him to take the lead? 

These are important questions for someone who professes to follow Christ — follow Him not only in the mountains of successes but also to the valleys of humbling and waiting and in the quietness of resting in the knowledge that His will is good, pleasing and perfect.


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