Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What are friends for?

It's a simple question. And, I have a simple answer to it that might offend most- if not all- of you.  So, before I go off defending myself, let's start with a simpler question. What are friends? That should be easy enough to answer. Or, at least it should be, considering that we've been going around making friends since we were in diapers. But, then, everything was simpler when we were younger. Now? Not so much.

Friend. A textbook definition would be a person who is in good terms with another. That seems straight-forward enough, right? But then we got older and we began to realize that there are people we were in good terms with but hold at a distance. The simple motion of saying 'Hi' and agreeing on your favorite TV show is no longer enough to consider this stranger a friend. We began to be more picky about the people we hand that title to. We began to distinguish between acquaintances, friends, close friends and all those fun circles. And, with this complication in judging our relationships with other people, we began to build up greater expectations from friends. We began to demand more while not necessarily giving more. We began to throw around suffocating chains without considering whether the level of attachment is mutual.

As years go by, we realize just how huge this world is. We meet more and more people. We are exposed to more and more types of personalities. And, at the same time, we grow, develop and change. Our perspective of life shifts. Our priorities are rearranged. Our beliefs are challenged. Yet, somehow, our friends are still the same -in the sense that they are the same existence but not necessarily the same people. After all, time has changed them, too. This is the thing we have a hard time understanding. We become so caught up with ourselves that we forget that the things that have changed us may have changed them, too. But experiences, even if they're the same, does not mold any two persons the same way. So we are stuck in a group of people we once held close to our hearts but no longer relate to. The sad thing is, we begin to demand that they remain compatible to who we have become. We expect them to compromise themselves to fit our needs and wants. But, of course, that wouldn't work. Not in the long run, at least. And, within the wreckage, we realize one thing: that friendship never stood a chance, not with the way we handled it.

Time changes us. We grow. And, sometimes, we just grow apart. It's nobody's fault. It just happens. But, even in these cases, I see no reason to feel sad. All things come to an end. All you can do is wish for that friend to find happiness among new companions and for you to have the same. There is no need to mourn for the loss of a friendship, after all, those good memories of better times will remain untainted. And, when things settle down and when you're in a clearer state of mind, you can revisit those moments with your friend. And, you'll have fun but you'll know deep inside that parting ways- no matter the manner it was done- was the right decision.

Friendship is a relationship founded on common ground but strengthened by accepting your differences. But there are times when those differences create a gap so wide that it can't be bridged over by any compromise. It's just a matter of acknowledging this and learning when to let go.

Okay, so yeah. Maybe that wasn't as easy a question to answer as I thought it was. And, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people who disagree with my perspective but since I'm on a roll, let's keep going. What are friends for? Hearing the echoes of my words, it seems as though I'm saying that friends are nothing but companions you keep around until they're no longer useful to you. In a way, that's true. Now if only I can figure out a more eloquent way of saying that.

Friendship is a give and take relationship. And, when you can no longer give what the other needs or when that other person can no longer give what you need, then it's only logical to call it quits. That just sounds so clinical, so detached, that I'm starting to wonder how I even still have friends. But it is the reality we live in. Or, for your sake, I hope it is the reality you live in. Because when a relationship has long passed its due date but you continue to maintain it, you will realize sooner or later that it is doing you more harm than good.

Friends are there to support you, to encourage you, to empathize with you, and, when necessary, to push you to action. They are those great beings who can help you go beyond what you assumed to be your limits. And, in return, you do these things for them, too. The thing is, we don't always want to share all our moments to all our friends. It's disgusting to admit it but there are some friendships we enjoy in moments of triumph and some friendships we nurture in moments of despair. We are all constantly changing. We're going through life in different ways. And, that doesn't always allow us the ability to accommodate our friends' needs at all times nor are they always able to accommodate us. But, sometimes, it's just the difference in personalities that limits us from being able to live through all phases of life together with them. So, we choose what moments we want to share with whom. This may build distance between us and our friends but it's better than losing them altogether. Unless, of course, we happen to be lucky enough to find the Cristina to our Meredith, then all this is moot. Because that friendship was a match made in heaven.

Some will consider my words as downright rude and insulting but I believe it holds merit. And, I'm pretty sure that some people think that I'm a user. I don't think I am. But if believing in all of these makes me one, then I guess that's what I am.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Sheldon Cooper

I hope the creators of the Big Bang Theory will forgive me for using one of their characters in this rant of mine. If you haven’t watched the show, I recommend that you try doing so. It has that unique ability to make you feel dumb and smart at the same time. People who watch the show will understand. ;)

It’s kind of funny, watching these geniuses deal with everyday life as it is upturned by the presence of “average”-minded friends. To be honest, I think the most “normal” out of them is Leonard. But, it’s Sheldon Cooper whom I find myself relating to the most. And, before someone bashes me for claiming to be a genius, I’d like to clarify that it is his quirkiness that I relate to. And, just like Seth Alary, I think there’s a bit of Sheldon Cooper in each of us, no matter how small or big that bit might be.

So, let me tell you a bit about my interpretation of Sheldon Cooper. I ask the avid fans of the show to forgive me if I had somehow misinterpreted his character, considering that I'm a few seasons behind. Anyway, the thing that I keep remembering about Sheldon is how picky he is with his seat. In their apartment, there's only one spot he is comfortable sitting at and he insists on sitting there despite the changing circumstances. And, it's always fun to watch him struggle to find a similarly comfortable seat whenever he finds himself in a new setting.

Now, I may not be as picky as him but I think I almost am. I've walked out of several restaurants and cafes just because my usual spot was taken or because I couldn't decide on a seat that I'd be comfortable in. Finding that perfect spot is just so difficult! I mean, you have to consider things like the distance to the emergency exit. Or the vantage point- because a huge part of being a writer is people watching and so I like to be in corners where I can see everything. Yup, I'm the creepy girl you sometimes notice in the corner booth who blankly stares at you while you eat. Anyway, there's also sunlight, wind, access to CR and all those stuff I'm sure "normal" people don't really bother with. If it wouldn't be so weird, I'd test out all the seats in the cafe before settling on one, but it is weird so I end up letting my companions decide where we sit.

In relation to this annoying trait is his inability to or difficulty in adapting to situations. He has those moments when things don't go according to his plan and his eye twitches, like when someone unexpected joins them for dinner or when his usual order in the restaurant isn't available. The thing about this is, I can't decide whether it's a matter of being obsessive-compulsive or if it's all about the need to feel in control. The two has always felt connected to me. I have a tendency to be OC. I mean, if you see my room you wouldn't think so but there is an order to things and it annoys me when it isn't followed. But, I think this OC tendency stems from a need to feel a semblance of control over things in life. Because, as most of you would understand, so many things in life just feel so volatile, so out of reach, so out of our control. And, more often than not, I feel like I'm just being driven through life by external forces. And, I don't like that feeling. I don't think anybody would.

Most people probably find better ways of handling this need for control but the need is there. In everyone. I think. People just find other ways of dealing with it instead of going ballistic every time things get out of hand.

Like BDSM. Heh.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

K-12: A Step Forward or a Step Back?

K to 12 Program

It’s nothing new. It was an issue I had been aware of back when I was in high school. And, if I remember correctly, I had written an editorial that was generally against it. Whether it was the side I was advised to take, or if I chose to be against it just to be unique, I’m not sure anymore. But, I’m certain it wasn’t because I had some great stand against it. To be honest, I think I had and continue to have a neutral stand in the matter. But unlike before where my neutrality was largely based on my uncaring disposition toward everything that didn’t directly and immediately affect me, my stand now is largely because of the lack of information. Though, to be honest, I hadn’t really done much digging to begin with. But to have a strong stand on an issue of this nature, do you not need to be fully informed first? Like, what is the scope of the K-12 program? What are the pros? What are the cons?

There is a persistent group that has started rallying about the cons of the program with regards to the economy of the Philippines. And, I was tempted to join them, for the mere reason that it is headed by two instructors I have come to respect. Are you starting to see how ridiculous my decision-making process is? Well, people who know how I chose my course understand the depth of this dysfunction. It had something to do with my aversion to wearing skirts, but I’ll get to that some other time. Going back to my point, I decided against my rather irrational choice when I realized that I didn’t know enough to get behind a banner or a microphone and abide by phrases that seek to devalue the president of this country.

What is K-12 all about anyway? The platform of this group I mentioned seems to be swaying or attempting to sway the public’s opinion by appealing to their patriotism. Stop K-12 because the only people who will benefit are the foreigners. Stop imitating the ways of the foreigners. Have some Filipino pride, will you? I’m sure this isn’t how they phrased it exactly but that’s part of what they’re saying. I think.

Money. That’s always one of the problems. So, let’s talk money. How much does it take to put a kid through basic schooling with the implemented K-12 program as compared to the previous curriculum? One of the primary reasons fed to us for the country’s state of poverty is the lack of education, and why are our people uneducated? Because of poverty, of course. It’s a circular argument but it’s true. They have no money to send their children to school with. While there exist public schools, many families still can’t afford to send their children because of the lack of supplies or for the simple matter that they would rather have their children help in earning some income than “waste” time in a classroom. That’s the problem, isn’t it? We are such short-sighted people! Assuming that we all accept that an educated individual has a higher possibility of being able to provide for his family, then, it would be more advantageous in the long run if an impoverished family takes on the burden of sending their children to school now for a better life in the future.

According to the statistics given by the group, senior high school, which is the additional two years of schooling required under the program, would cost a student P19000 to P35000 with some private schools even reaching rates of P70000. I know some of you must be thinking that the less privileged families could opt to go to public schools. But as explained in the flyer I received, most students would have to enroll in public school universities and private schools for SHS since not all public schools have been able to upgrade their facilities to accommodate SHS students. I actually went to a high school where my yearly fees were less than P2000 and to me, P70000 seems too much to ask for mere high school education. That doesn’t come with a bachelor's degree, does it? Because that’s thrice what I pay for my semestral fees in a well-respected and well-known university. Right now, I suppose the question is whether there are more pocket-friendly solutions. Since the government has decided to enforce a prolonged period of education, what actions have they taken to share in carrying the burden of such mandate? Because if you ask me, before approving this, they should have had anticipated the need for upgrade in facilities for public schools. And, if so, they should have had taken measures to address these problems as soon as the bill was passed. Have they? Or, rather, have they done enough? We can’t ask the citizens of this country to simply grit their teeth through back-breaking work just to get their children through proper schooling without providing the necessary support.

Let’s talk about the teachers, the educators, or, as I so fondly call them, the martyrs of the society. One of the primary reason I find myself so invested in this issue is because I was made aware of the massive retrenchments of teachers that will happen in 2016 for the full implementation of the K-12 program. I felt overwhelming indignation for these people who have chosen the path of such self-sacrificing work. It was my sister, of course, who reminded me that K-12 has been in the works for years now. The teachers must have had been anticipating this for a while. Which begs the question, why are these rallies taking place now when the program has been finalized? And, looking at the time table, after a couple of years, the program would demand for just as many teachers to be reinstated, right? We need to look further beyond than just a year ahead of us.

As I see it, we could all just be good soldiers. What does this mean? Well, good soldiers are people who speak up to authority and argue their stance, fighting for their principles. But, when the time to take action comes, they stand behind their officer-in-charge and give all they’ve got. Because let’s face it, while K-12 may not be as good as the government tries to sell it to be, going against it throughout the entire process wouldn’t help either. It’s a done deal, so why not just get behind it and help make the transition as smooth as possible. That or we could keep with the rallies and pep talks and maybe the program’s implementation will be postponed. But what does that do? We’re the only country in Asia and only one of the last three (Angola and Djibouti) in the world without 12 years of basic education. Sooner or later, another president of the country will attempt to bring it into this country. And, yes, maybe the economy will be more stable to handle the program then, but why not just keep pushing it now. They’ve already started disrupting the educational system, anyway, so why not get to the finish line?

I know I didn't really get into the itty gritty details of K-12. To be honest, I couldn't bring myself to read over the materials. I'm on vacation mode! But for those who do want to educate themselves on the issue at hand, here's a good place to start.