Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pacelbel's Canon in D—Rock Guitar version

Man! This guy is amazing! Makes Canon in D totally rock! Wow!

English Vocabulary in the Philippines—A Private Peeve

Iknow, on an intellectual level, that English, like any language anywhere in the world, will evolve somehow depending on the local situation. Elizabethan English is different from modern English in that regard. It is with that acceptance that I hope that Tagalog can also evolve someday into something more useful and convenient for communication and instruction.

Still, I find that there are certain idiosyncrasies in the Pinoy dialect of English that I find very annoying. It is not to say that I don't approve of local modifications, because I do. Locally coined words (the word "Tambayan" for instance) enrich the vocabulary. But there are times when words are added to the vocabulary based on mistakes. Some of these mistakes are unintentional, but in others they are not only intentional but deliberate. Over the years I have come across a lot of these, but I will only mention two right now.

Iam quite sure the local meaning for the word "salvage" did not exist until at the very earliest the 70's. I am sure because I still remember when the word "salvage" was still used in its original meaning of either "to save" or "to redeem" when I was in early grade school. I still remember when teachers and visiting nuns would talk about salvaging an unruly student. Things, of course, changed because of People's Journal.

Well, People's Journal didn't use the word "salvage" to mean brutally murdered initially. But during the early to mid 80's brutal murders happened frequently enough that it made the news. These bodies were often disposed of in garbage dumps or in the river Pasig. So, whenever these bodies were recovered, the headlines will, of course, say "Dead man/woman/etc. was salvaged last night from Pasig/Smoky Mountain/etc."—"salvaged" here meaning that it was fished out and recovered by authorities. People say the same things when they "salvage" useable junk.

Now, it seems natural that Pinoys would make the association between the word "salvage" with "brutal murder". . . it is natural (even considering the fact that English teachers nationwide should have nipped this one at the bud). What annoys me most is that, by and large, Pinoys have forgotten how and why this happened and insists on silly explanations.

A few years back a major daily attempted to explain why we have a different meaning for "salvage." I read it with eagerness. At last, I said to myself, somebody can set it straight. Instead, I had several different implausible theories, the most plausible of which is that "salvage" is just our corruption of the word "savage." I can still remember the approximate wording of the explanation: "In America, when somebody wants to murder someone, they usually say 'Savage him!' and Pinoys [supposedly] merely added the 'l'." There are a number of problems with this explanation, the most obvious of which is that I have never heard of any American expression like that. Savage him indeed; "savage" means something else entirely in the USA, if I am not mistaken.

In the meantime, Pinoys continue to use the word with the local meaning. And we sound idiotic as a result. Nowhere else in the world does the phrase "salvage victim" mean victim of brutal murder. Even though Pinoys have since been briefed on its true meaning, we still use it. So what? some ask. How would we feel if some other culture used the word "iniibig kita" to mean "I want to rape you"? Normal word coinage (even gay lingo) does not bother me because I see that as legitimate word evolution. If we all gave private local meanings to foreign words, why even learn the words in the first place?

This other instance is a constant, almost weekly annoyance. For years, the proper term for somebody celebrating one's birthday was birthday celebrant, and it still is. However, in the last decade, Pinoys have decided that the proper term now is birthday celebrator, and every time I hear it mentioned, I gnash my teeth.

Of course, the word "celebrator" does exist in the English Language. It means "one who celebrates" so it should make sense that that is the right term, but it isn't. The celebrant is the person who is the reason for the celebration, and the celebrators are those who celebrate with that person. For instance, in a birthday party, there is the celebrant (celebrants in the case of multiple births or those with the same birthday) and the rest of those who actually sing "Happy Birthday to You" (and take the pictures, eat the food, the cake and the ice cream) are the celebrators—the people who celebrate with the celebrant.

Let me use another example which Pinoys, thankfully, never made any mistake on. In any school contest, those actually competing in the contest are called participants. Of course, those students who are not competing but should still "participate" in the school activity by watching the school contest are called participators. See? Makes sense here in this sense, why not in the sense of "celebration."

Yet almost nobody I met who has heard this explanation would rather still call the celebrant a celebrator instead. One person once remarked to me "Well, the TV personalities use it. So do reporters. So, it must be the right usage." This annoys me the most.

This is just two of many instances. But what connects all these instances is one very Pinoy trait which fuels all of this: the anong-paki-'mo attitude. I know that there are lots of exceptions in our country, but the usual impression I get when Pinoys justify errors, mistakes, cheating and any other objectionable or annoying stuff, they would also snap something like "mind your own business." Because of that, too many Pinoys would rather be mediocre than take the steps to "salvage" themselves in the eyes of many.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My wife and I were having fun about a Naruto "love compatibility test" to see which Naruto character was our "true love." Katuwaan lang. But when Ærynn and I took our individual "tests" we ended up with the characters that were being paired together. All that on our first try. Wow. And she wasn't so hot about who she picked at first, because the guy was a chain smoking shinobi. Anyway, find out more about the Naruto series and these characters here: and

Anyway, here are our results: Naruto Love Compatibility Test
Sarutobi Asuma

Compulsive smoker, jounin from the Leaf, youe one true love : Sarutobi Asuma

Rivals :
- Yuuhi Kurenai. Then again, it might just be a rumour that Kakashi is spreading so go get him! Love Compatibility Test
Yuuhi Kurenai

Rookie Jounin, genjutsu user, your one true love : Yuuhi Kurenai

Rivals :
- Sarutobi Asuma. Then again, it might just be a rumour that Kakashi is spreading so go get her!

The Naruto anime series have recently jumped the shark, mainly because it is no longer following the manga it was based on initially but consists, instead, of a season of "filler" episodes until it can catch up with the manga. I don't know why I'm still watching it. I guess I'm hoping it gets better once it starts following the manga again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I will always hate loud music

Ihave very distinct musical tastes. For the longest time, I have appreciated Baroque and Classical Music, a smattering of some old "classics" from the early to mid-2oth century, some 70's music, and the music they used to play in the early Sesame Street. I also have been listening to Enya for quite some time now. I know I am not a music connoisseur, but I am definitely a music afficionado and I can hear, in my mind's ear, the music I so love. People have called me names ranging from freak to anti-social for my musical preferences, the tamest (I think) was that I was accused of being boring. I didn't mind... I enjoyed my music.

Now, a few years ago, I was introduced to several sources of unwanted loud noise/music of which I had no control or choice over. The first source are the blaring music of public transportation vehicles. The second source are the blaring boom boxes and "mobiles" of peers. The third, and most damaging (later, I will explain why) was when I had a stint teaching high-school kids. The thing with the first two sources was that they either don't last very long (the former) or that I can choose to stop my ears or leave the place (the latter), and so later, when I returned home, I can listen again to my "boring" music and hear what I remember hearing.

But those nasty, inconsiderate kids whom I tried to teach would not let up with their noise. I frequently had to raise my voice just to be heard because, in keeping with the current trend of unruly students of "heroically" defying their teachers, they did their best to maintain conversations and not keep quiet. No threats scared them—they know I can get fired for corporal punishment (funny how I can suddenly wish for something I used to be bitterly against when confronted with a bunch of idiots who deserved it) and they didn't care if they got minuses from their grades (they had their parents who can fight for the "unfairness" of grading their kids' "intelligence" based on how talkative they are; they can even convince the principal that talkativeness is merely their way of showing smarts).

At any rate, they were noisy enough to keep my ears ringing long after I got home. But, what choice have I got? I needed to keep not only my eyes but ears peeled when it came to students. What kind of teacher would I be if I didn't pay attention to them?

During that time, the only "music" I got to hear were Back Street Boys and those other loud whatchamacallits that are only worth listening to because they were currently "in" at the time. But one Christmas, I tried listening to a bit of Ray Conniff to ease my nerves. Imagine my shock when the only voices I heard clearly were the men.

So I frantically dug up my Enya CDs and other classical/baroque music and listened to them, and I fairly panicked when they all sounded different from when I remembered. I can no longer hear the lilting high notes in Enya, or enjoy the flutes of Mozart (I can't hear them), or the loveliness of Handel's Messiah. I tried to convince myself that my speakers were busted... yeah! Those speakers were ancient. I bought a brand new pair—still the same result. I borrowed high-quality ear-phones—nada! I had to accept the fact that my hearing was now impaired.

The reason why I am remembering all this now is that, two years after I resigned from that hazardous job, and listening only to real music at their proper volumes, I realized that I can enjoy Enya again. I can, once again, hear those lilting high notes in her songs, and I can enjoy the interweaving melodies of a cappella recordings again. But, it still isn't the same as it was before: I have regained some of my hearing, but not all of it.

Idespise all those people who think that all their loud music is "the way to go" (including kids who think that ears ringing is "cool") and scorn the sort of music I like. For the longest time, I cannot defend my preference, since they themselves cannot see anything "special" about my music. For years, I knew why—their music is damaging their hearing and their ability to appreciate real music; but I didn't have any proof beyond my assertions.

The day has finally arrived. People are now finally accepting that loud music is bad. Here is just a smattering of the links I found that supports my view, including one hypocritical account of a drummer of a band claiming that his hearing loss is not due to the loud music he plays but rather because he used studio headphones.
In the meantime, I will enjoy my Baroque music, thank you very much, while I try to train myself (in the spirit of Christian charity) not to gloat in the next few decades when those who are fans of loud boy band music and gangsta "rap" will find that they cannot even hear the music that destroyed their ears... while I admire the nuances of different versions of the same Baroque or Rennaisance song.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Most Engaging Paradox

I am currently having difficulty typing right now. My arm had, until yesterday, been in a sling after being injured during a mugging I was involved in. The mugging itself (last December 29th, early evening) should have been humiliating, since I am a martial artist and I am used to taking care of myself. But, as they say, even Napoleon tasted defeat, and the best Olympic athletes do not always maintain their "gold streak"—so, I don't feel as bad as maybe I should. I am glad that the injury I sustained when I fell of the moving vehicle was as light as it is. I am, in fact, happy to still be alive and missing only my cellphone, while others less fortunate had arrived in the same ER that I was brought to either dead or permanently maimed.

But I must admit, I was severely disappointed that day. Not because of the muggers—that was their "job"—but by the passers-by. I had been used to assuming that Pinoys are, generally speaking, nice people that still possess the "bayanihan" spirit and will readily help any other Pinoy in need. When I hit the pavement face first at cruising speed, that was what I expected. When women and children started surrounding me, I expected them to help me. Instead, they proceeded to rob me. I was conscious but stunned, and now even more stunned when they took the bag of CDs I had (containing the wedding pictures of a friend and not pirated movies, as the perps obviously expected) and attempted to take my watch off. My brother, who jumped out of the speeding vehicle, put a stop to that, and they all melted away into the crowd, leaving me and my brother behind in the middle of the road. I am quite sure that the vast majority of Pinoys probably have more Bayanihan and Christmas spirit, but we met none of them there.

Thanks to the mugger's ingenuity, he tried to "PasaLoad" the money loaded in my cellphone to his cellphone; thanks to my ingenuity, anytime he tries to send SMS, my cellphone would automatically send it to my wife. He sent his cellphone number to my wife. And, so there I was, injured and in pain, but smug with the knowledge that once the police gets a hold of his cellphone number, they can track him down using SMART's Person Finder[1][2] or, if they are too low-tech, they can at least find a way to use it. I mean, after the glowing reports they show on TV, right?

My faith in Pinoy law enforcement was over-rated. When we went to report it to the police, they were bewildered over what they had to do. Even the mug-shots they showed me didn't help. They, at first, didn't understand how I got the mugger's cellphone number and, when they finally did a half-hour later, they didn't know what to do. Their best solution is to wait until they catch a mugger in the act and, if he's the same guy, then... then... even I don't know what they plan to do next. From overwhelming optimism that I would be able to get my cellphone back soon to knowing full well that, once again, crime is made to pay yet again because of the mediocrity of Pinoy law enforcement (I shouldn't be surprised, since Chavit Singson is still not in prison).

Why is this, then, a paradox? My wife and I have been discussing things. We both admit that government and law enforcement in Australia is so much better than here in the Philippines. We both admit that it is safer for people in Melbourne than in Metro Manila. And yet both of us are adamant about raising our children in the Philippines rather than in Australia. Why? Shouldn't a better, more civilized society be a better environment to raise children? Why is it that, after admitting that we (my wife and I) stand a better chance of thriving in Australia than here in the Philippines, would still regard the Philippines as the best place to raise a family (that is, as long as the financial aspects are dealth with). And, for the longest time, neither of us can think of an answer.

It was all so obvious, of course. A better society doesn't necessarily mean better people. Ærynn, who used to want to raise kids in Oz, now sees that kids raised there are not better people, and are only brought under control later as adults by a better government and law enforcement. When I discussed this with an American friend of mine, who himself thinks that raising kids in the Philippines is better than doing so back in the USA, we both admitted that for all their vaunted government and law enforcement, "Western" people are sissies. All one has to do is watch them in other cultures and see how they cope—very badly (with the rare exception of some missionaries, who are more at home with indeginous cultures anyway than with western culture). In the end, we realized that even if the Philippines is not as well governed and guarded, and is a state of virtual anarchy, it is that anarchy that allows more freedom to raise better as well as worse individuals.

Child discipline, for example, is better implemented (and better abused, I admit) here. Whereas in most "Western" societies, one is carefully monitored. This, of course, prevents a lot of abuses that are readily apparent in the Philippines; however it also handicaps otherwise good parents from raising their children better. Everybody is made equal.

This is, of course, over-simplifying things, since "Western" countries are not one monolithic bloc. America is different from Australia, after all. In America and Australia, there are sectors of society that does allow the best of Pinoy upbriging. Yet, generally, not so.

One other thing is the relative attitudes towards religion and faith. While in "Western" countries, religion and faith are seen as "options," religion and faith right here are (inspite of the double standard and the justifying use of the Roman Catholic confessional) essential. Raising our kids to be God-fearing individuals is just more convenient here in the Philippines than anywhere else. This, even though a lot of Pinoys have learned not to fear God because of they penance they can do anyway (the real secret behind why organized crime in the Philippines doesn't collapse on itself). Father confessors and the confessional are very important aspects of organized crime, after all. Yet all that is better than a society that denies the existence of God and prevents you from exercising your conscience. I don't look forward to having to explain to my kids that believing in God is not unscientific.

I have not yet explored the other reasons why we feel this way. Maybe Ærynn can give better insights from her point of view; after all, she's actually living in an Australian society. Please note, though, that this is just our intentions as it is now. We are still open to finding ways to raise our kids properly in Australia.

W hile surfing, I cam across a few sites that have helped shape and clarify my position. I am listing some (not all) of them down below. I will add to the list when I have the time.