Waves Without Sounds

When things come crashing on the shores of the mind.

Category: Communication

The Persona of Tongues

face-and-tongueThe Philippines is composed of more than a thousand islands, and the language and dialect differs from one place to another, resulting to approximately 150 languages within the country. However, the official languages of the Philippines are English and Filipino–sometimes referred to as Tagalog–and the average Filipino is fluent in both languages. People like me who come from regions outside of the Tagalog-speaking ones–namely Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog–are likely to possess a third language aside from English and Filipino as their mother tongue. I have been speaking three languages since childhood, but it was only recently that I noticed the differences when I use these languages.

In Writing

OldDesignShop_HandHoldingPenI first noticed it when I started to create fiction and poetry in college. To start off, the writing activity throughout my life was like this: during elementary school, from when I was five to ten years old, I wrote poems in both English and Filipino, but I wrote more in English; in high school, from when I was eleven to thirteen years old, I wrote short stories in English; and from the age of fourteen, I have been writing prose and poetry in both English and Filipino upon entering college. When I entered college though, my creative writing output has been reduced to pay attention to academics. I used to create at least one output per month before college, but I can only write once every three months at most ever since. Whenever I do, there is a strict segregation–short stories in Filipino and poems in English. My latest short story in English was written more than one and a half years ago, and my latest poem in Filipino dates back to my elementary school days (if a very short rhyme I created this September is not counted). No matter how I try to write a short story in English, I would just end up telling myself that it would be easier to do in Filipino, and it goes vice versa with my attempts of writing poems in Filipino. Unfortunately, I do not write in my first language, Waray, since I haven’t read any Waray literature ever, and this makes me feel like an ingrate.

In Speaking

social-networking-successThe troubles I encounter expressing myself in English is almost the same as my troubles in expressing myself in straight Filipino (meaning without using English words that actually have Filipino equivalent). Expressing myself in Waray, though, is the most difficult. I understand the difficulty in my usage of Waray is because I do not get to speak it as much after living away from the Waray-speaking region for most of my life. The only people whom I get to converse in Waray with are my parents and relatives from the province. When I speak Waray, though, I notice that I tend to reflect the snarky character that both my parents possess. When I speak in Tagalog or Filipino, I find myself brusque, sarcastic, and always spitting out curses like a pirate. I know this is because I learned Tagalog from playing in the gutter. Having learned English from literature, I think I am most refined in using English. People say I sound dreamy, poetic, borderline romantic and too formal when I communicate in English, whereas I’m more aggressive in Filipino. Perhaps I can attribute this to the people who taught me English and Filipino. My English might be feminine because my mother was the one who guided me in learning proper English. In turn, my Tagalog/Filipino is masculine because my father is the one whom I speak the language with most of the time.

sub-personalities

In studying linguistics, I learned that people who speak more than one language tend to switch personalities as they switch between languages. I always thought of this as a mere theory, but I exist as conscious proof to that. There sure are many sides to a person, but it’s funny how each side may speak a different language.

Strange Talk

StrangerThere is a reason why I don’t actually feel like a normal person. As early as they can, parents normally tell their kids not to talk to strangers. Mine didn’t. Well, not until I was twelve and there were recurring incidents of kidnapping in our city. I would not think of it as a lapse in their otherwise neat parenting, though, I guess they just wish to avoid contradiction. My parents, you see, are people who are easy to strike conversations with others. I was also extremely introverted as a child compared to how I am now, and my parents were always urging me to make friends and mingle with people. So when I finally heard the words “don’t talk to strangers” spoken to me by my parents for the first time, I immediately asked “isn’t talking to strangers something we can’t help?” and proceeded to reason with them.

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The greatest conversation I had was with a stranger.

Human nature is my main reason. We were all born with an inherently insatiable curiosity, hence the recklessness of children. Humans ask myriads of questions which are basically ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ questions in an attempt to satisfy curiosity and minimize uncertainties. Here, a theory of human communication comes into play–the Uncertainty Reduction theory. This theory assumes that a person experiences uncertainty in dealing with others. In turn, the uncertainty that the person experiences provides cognitive stress, thus the person feels the need to reduce this uncertainty through communication. I believe this roots from the fact that humans are social beings and communicating with other people is essential for us.

Trust

Trust

Perhaps a more proper approach to this exists aside from telling children not to talk to strangers. We can start by teaching kids how to identify and deal with suspicious people. I also acknowledge my parents’ method of teaching me social skills like greeting people and politesse as I was growing up. In line with this, the children must also have a sense of trust and security in their guardians and elders so they won’t be too afraid of socialization. Most of all, I think that the best thing my parents taught me is that confidence is key. They trusted me and had confidence in me at a young age, hence I also developed trust and confidence in myself. I learned to be introspective because of that, and introspection allowed me to know myself profoundly. Having a deep self-awareness is the main factor to effective self-expression and security. You must know yourself before you get to know others.

With that, we may say that good parenting and proper upbringing is the answer to this dilemma in order to protect the kids. The love they feel from their parents is crucial in the early stages of children’s lives. I emphasize on love that children feel and not the love that parents think they give. Let’s face it, we lose a great deal of our purity as children when we become adults. What we think we provide the children is not what they feel they are given. Genetics alone does not shape the behavior and character of children, affection has a great impact on a child’s character and, of course, the feeling of being treasured.

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Independent writers and entrepreneurs share the same road

As one courted by the corporate world and the art of writing, I can totally relate to this.

Cristian Mihai

Being an independent writer is very similar to being an entrepreneur. No one is there to help you succeed. You only have yourself and your skillset to make it in this cruel world. Cristian has been working on his novel for over 2 years without knowing if it will be a success or not. His dedication and unwillingness to give up is what will ultimately bring him success. Soldiering on and doing what you believe is the single most powerful ingredient in succeeding in what you do. Writing for the love of writing is akin to entrepreneurs who struggle to set up a business for years without getting paid because they love to build businesses and help bring value to people. Becoming a self-made business man can share a similar path to becoming a self-published novelist. The road isn’t an easy road to travel, but the getting to the destination…

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Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: Examining the Hexagon’s Marketing Success

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Alberto Mondi in the Korean comedy show 'Abnormal Summit'

Alberto Mondi in the Korean comedy show ‘Abnormal Summit’

Some time ago, a friend of mine convinced me to watch a Korean TV programme entitled ‘Abnormal Summit’. Eleven ‘abnormal’ representatives from different countries, excluding that of Korea, discuss agendas that vary per episode to decide on the ‘abnormality’ of the agenda presented. On the fourth episode of the programme, the topic about which fashion is better was brought up between the representatives of France and Italy. The Italian representative, Alberto Mondi, argued that Italy has better wine and fashion, and that French companies are buying out Italian brands. However, Alberto admitted to one strength that the French has over the Italians, and that is marketing. This got me curious, is French marketing really that good? If so, what makes them good?

To assess the efficiency of French marketing, let us first of all look into the existing rules important to marketing and advertising in France. One of those rules is on the language. French must be used for all advertisements. Other languages can only be used with accompanying French translations. This is the most important and established rule in French advertising. The establishment of one and only one language for advertisement within a country is very important in reaching out to the target market and creating brand awareness. The existence of this rule also ensures that everyone understands and are made aware of the brand. Another rule–not exclusive to France–that affects French marketing is cultural and political sensitivity. France is notorious for rather extreme demonstrations which reflects the sensitivity of French people to sociopolitical issues. As in other countries, advertisements deemed offensive may be taken down in France. Another important thing to note as rule of thumb in French marketing is that word-of-mouth is more revered by French consumers, and this is the most uncontrollable aspect of marketing in France.

A Louis Vuitton store in communist Ho Chi Minh City

A Louis Vuitton store in communist Ho Chi Minh City

Having presented rules to remember in French marketing, it is time to examine the characteristics of French marketing itself. According to Simon Silvester, the French are natural marketers even before the term ‘marketing’ was coined. To the French, marketing is a conceptual art, and like how they treat any form of art, French people put great value in its authenticity. Their brands, such as Champagne and Roquefort, do not seem like brands at all. Unlike that of American brands that use catchy–and even funny–names for their brands, the French stick to how the product has been called upon its creation. This gives French products history and origin to attest to its authenticity, which, in turn, leads to the people treating these brands as premium. Another thing we might notice about famous French products is that most of them are feminine. This is because French marketers acknowledge the fact that 80% of brand consumers are women and that the ones who love shopping are the gatherers–not the hunters. As a part of the female population, I would not deny my craving for a bottle of Dior, nor would my mother hold back in spending thousands for a Louis Vuitton. The secret to the female rave on French brands is how French marketers are so much in touch with their feminine side. Despite all these, French marketers take lots of risk. They are not hindered by populism and the fear of their brands being seen as elitist. This results to extravagant brand values and highly committed customers which now characterize many French brands. Another thing French marketers are not afraid of is irrationality. French marketers knew that their consumers dream, and thus marketed these dreams. They chose to focus on the wants instead of the needs of their customers, and listened to the wishes like “I want to look younger” from their customers instead of telling them “you need to look younger”. Nationalism also plays a major role in French Marketing–they knew being French alone is already marketable. As how Simon Silvester put it, “France is the biggest showroom in the world”. France herself is already known for her rich culture and history, and the luxury goods she provides the world. Also, the French protect their intellectual property well. You cannot call it Champagne if it’s not from Champagne, you cannot call it Roquefort if it’s not from Roquefort. The police will reprimand you if the bag you own imitations of French brands.

Going back to the ‘Abnormal Summit’, Alberto Mondi was right in saying that the French are good in marketing. However, it is not only marketing that the French are good at. Upon examining French marketing, it is revealed that France is good in many other fields which they utilized to succeed in marketing. To be honest, I was surprised at how marketing styles actually differ among countries. Indeed, there is much to learn from examining cultures that are foreign to ours. I believe that the Philippines has great potential in marketing–that I will repeatedly say. I wish Filipino marketers would learn from the ways, not just of French marketers, but also of marketers from other cultures. However, I am not urging Filipino marketers to copy foreign styles, on the contrary, I wish to see the day that Filipino marketing has its own mark and identity that the whole world recognizes.

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Sources:

http://www.wpp.com/wpp/marketing/marketing/think-french/

http://www.startupoverseas.co.uk/starting-a-business-in-france/marketing-a-business.html

Nomenclature in Marketing and the Wit of Filipinos

There used to be a tailor living in our neighborhood called Mang Jaime. Mang Jaime repaired my bags, shoes, and did some school projects for me ever since I was in elementary until my first year in high school. My father easily befriended him with their shared interest in oldies music and ‘dad’ humor. There are many seamstresses and tailors in our vicinity, but my father chose to do business with Mang Jaime’s establishment simply because of the name of his tailoring shop which was inspired by one of my father’s favorite musicians. The name of Mang Jaime’s tailoring shop is ‘James Tailor’.

You see, the economy of the Philippines is yet developing. From the smallest of businesses to the biggest of corporations, competition is very intense in the Philippine market. Intelligent marketing is needed for the public to notice them, and the Filipino humor is an excellent target for that. Here are some of the funniest names of Filipino businesses that I have stumbled upon in the Internet. Credits to the owners of the photos, and applause to the owners of the businesses.


Food– Filipinos love food as much as we love a good laugh. Fill us with mirth as you fill our stomachs.

Merienda meaning 'snack'. The logo is a photoshopped picture of Chito Miranda, lead vocalist of popular Filipino band Parokya ni Edgar, eating a burger. I heard he reacted to this the traditional Filipino way--with laughter and cussing.

Merienda meaning ‘snack’. The logo is a photoshopped picture of Chito Miranda, lead vocalist of popular Filipino band Parokya ni Edgar, eating a burger. I heard he reacted to this the traditional Filipino way–with laughter and cussing.

McDonald's is #1 all over the world, except in the Philippines where their greatest rival is the local fast food chain Jollibee. It seems they got over their rivalry and decided to sell fish.

McDonald’s is #1 all over the world, except in the Philippines where their greatest rival is the local fast food chain Jollibee. It seems they got over their rivalry and decided to sell fish.

This store is a bakery. I wonder if the baker looks like Brad.

This store is a bakery. I wonder if the baker looks like Brad.

Food cart selling fishballs and other streetfoods

Food cart selling fishballs and other streetfoods

Another food cart, but going so far as adding an inviting "don't be shy, come on!"

Another food cart, but going so far as adding an inviting “don’t be shy, come on!”

What a well-wisher! But something smells...

What a well-wisher! But something smells…


Services– In the Philippines, conversations usually start with a joke and a laugh, even while cutting your hair, repairing your shoes or fixing up the departed.

Caesar's Palace does not offer to style your hair, but Scissors Palace does.

Caesar’s Palace does not offer to style your hair, but Scissors Palace does.

Cut your hair in the style of presidents

Cut your hair in the style of presidents

The boy who trimmed.

The boy who trimmed.

In the true sense of the words.

In the true sense of the words.

With flying colours.

With flying colours.

The Two Dryers

The Two Dryers

Libing' is the Filipino word for 'bury'. Splendid irony.

Libing’ is the Filipino word for ‘bury’. Splendid irony.

My favorite. I've seen this in person. The text at the bottom says "we will HEEL you, save your SOLE, and DYE for you". I would not think twice about this.

My favorite. I’ve seen this in person. The text at the bottom says “we will HEEL you, save your SOLE, and DYE for you”. I would not think twice about this.


The fact that these funny business names went around the Internet proves that nomenclature is an excellent marketing strategy. Aside from inviting people into their establishments, the names of these businesses are pleasantly imprinted in the memories of people who have encountered them. This is also proof that Filipinos have immense potential in business and marketing. The easy wit, ready smiles and ringing laughter is what I like most about the Filipino people. We only have to learn how to utilize it properly for the progress of our nation.

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Organizational Communication Board Examinations?

examination

As an Organizational Communication student, I am well aware that not many people are familiar with my major. To put it simply, the focus of Organizational Communication is on the internal and external communications of organizations. The subjects we take include but are not limited to technical writing, organizational processes and structures, public relations, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, group discussion and conference leadership, and several units of foreign language. Unlike most majors, though, the Philippines holds no board examination for Organizational Communication. However, one of my professors–an OrCom graduate herself–presented us with an examination that could take the place of OrCom board examination, the Foreign Service Officer (FSO) Examination offered by our country’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

Seal of the Department of Foreign Affairs

Seal of the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Eligibility Requirements of the FSO Examination are the following:
1. Application Forms should be printed in 8.5” x 13” bond paper.
2. The applicant should be a natural-born Filipino citizen and must present a copy of his or her valid passport and visa or a valid contract of employment in the host country (if applicable).
3. The applicant should not be more than thirty-five (35) years of age on the day of the Qualifying Test (10 August 2014).
The applicant should have at least a four (4) year bachelor’s degree. (Relevant document required e.g. transcript of records, diploma or certificate of graduation.)
4. The applicant should have undergone employment or undertaken further studies two (2) years after graduating from college or university.
5. If married to a foreigner, the applicant must secure an authority to take the FSO Examination from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, through the Board of Foreign Service Examinations.
6. If the applicant has dual or multiple citizenships, he/she should submit a notarized affidavit stating that upon passing the examinations, he/she intends to renounce his/her allegiance to all other countries of citizenship.
(lifted from http://www.philembassy.no/news-item/announcement-2014-foreign-service-officer-fso-examination)

Foreign Service Officers

Foreign Service Officers

The Philippine FSO Examination is composed of five parts. The first part is the Qualifying Test which covers (1) Verbal Ability; (2) Analytical Ability; (3) Numerical Ability; and (4) Managerial Ability in which a grade of at least 80% must be attained by the applicants to qualify for the next part, the Preliminary Interview. For the Preliminary Interview, a panel of Foreign Service Officers will be interviewing the FSO Examinees to assess their potentials of becoming Foreign Service Officers and future Ambassadors. Unlike the first part, no grade percentage is given for the Preliminary Interview–an overall rating of “PASS” from the FSO panel is required to move on to the third part of the FSO Exam. The third part is the Written Test wherein the examinees must obtain a mark of at least 75% to qualify for the penultimate part. The Written Test covers English (20%), Filipino (5%), Philippine Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Conditions (30%), International Affairs (30%), World History (10%) and Foreign Language (5%). Having passed the third exam, the candidates must undergo Psychological Test. The last part of the FSO Examination, the Oral Test, assesses the candidates’ oral skills, logical thinking, values and attitudes. To pass the Oral Test, a transmuted score of at least 80% is necessary. To pass the entire FSO Exam, an examinee must attain a composite rating of 80% or above in the Written Test and Oral Test. (All according to http://www.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/fsoexams/2483-announcement-on-the-2014-foreign-service-officer-fso-examination)

In addition to what was previously mentioned, my professor–having passed the FSO Examination before–said that the examination in her time included a group discussion among the examinees which Foreign Service Officers observed, and there was also a cocktail party wherein the examinees must mingle with people role-playing as high-ranking officers from different countries.

Considering those, can it be said that the FSO Examination is adequate to measure the skills acquired from studying Organizational Communication? For the most part, I could say yes. Embassies, the government, and international unions are all organizations. Aside from the exam, many of the things we learn from Organizational Communication are highly applicable in performing the duties of a Foreign Service Officer. We have technical writing for writing diplomatic correspondence, briefing papers and foreign policies. We have organizational processes and structures to understand the workings of foreign governments. We have public relations and marketing to help us promote our country. Foreign language, interpersonal communication and intercultural communication are highly utilized when interacting with people in foreign countries. I believe Organizational Communication graduates can efficiently represent the Philippines in international fora. We are taught to represent organizations, and to prioritize the welfare of the organizations we work for including the people of whom it is comprised. We can do very much the same–or even more–for our own country.

Photo taken from the tumblr of Erica Roberta.

Photo taken from the tumblr of Erica Roberta.

To ultimately say that the FSO Examination is the board exam of Organizational Communication is an error, though. It is better to say that the FSO Examination may take the place of an Organizational Communication board exam. To say that one is an Organizational Communicologist if and only if one passed the FSO Examination is wrong, being an Organizational Communicologist takes proper practice whatever the workplace setting is–whether it’s a government or private organization. Personally, I do not advocate the implementation of a board examination for Organizational Communication. As what they told us upon entering the world of Organizational Communication, those who take up this path are trained to be “jack of all trades, master of none”. We are shaped by Organizational Communication to be well-rounded people who can function efficiently wherever we are put–to bind us with one test to measure all that we are capable of would be unjust. One of the reasons why Organizational Communication is an inconspicuous course may be because it has a wide reach–like thinly spread jam on a slice of bread. There are few Organizational Communication majors, but we work in diverse fields. It gives off a sense of exclusivity and pride. Our exposure to many different disciplines gives us an edge in the workforce. As what one of our university’s OrCom shirt design says, “keep calm and let OrCom handle it.”

The Organizational Communication degree program of the University of the Philippines Manila celebrates its 30th anniversary this year (2014).

The Organizational Communication degree program of the University of the Philippines Manila celebrates its 30th anniversary this year (2014). Happy anniversary!

The Language That Survived the Tower of Babel

From the webcomic 'Frederick the Great: A Most Lamentable Comedy Breaching Time ans Space'

From the webcomic ‘Frederick the Great: A Most Lamentable Comedy Breaching Time and Space’

I am 100% sure that there are more people familiar with the story of the Tower of Babel than those who recognize Noam Chomsky. The story of the Tower of Babel is perhaps the most popular theory about evolutionary linguistics. According to the Book of Genesis, the whole world used to have one language. However, the people, in their arrogance, decided to build a tower that would reach the Heavens. God was enraged, and confused their language so the people would not understand each other, leading to the halt of the building of the tower. It is true that the world is now home to many languages, but does that really hinder us from communicating with each other? Is there no universal language that we can all understand without being taught? The best thing I learned from my professor in Psycholinguistics was the revelation of the existence of a Universal Language.

So what is this Universal Language? I remember my professor asking exactly that, to which I jokingly answered ‘love’. Looking back, I now realize that love cannot be a language because it is a concept that needs expression and not the means for expression. When the laughter that my answer brought to my classmates died down, our professor patiently replied that the Universal Language is music. I was about to contest–what about art? Then I held my tongue upon realizing that the perception of art is influenced by culture and, thus, varies from person to person. On the other hand, music is not so. The emotions music make us feel is the same for everyone. Jazz music, for example, makes us feel relaxed and sensual whereas rock makes us feel a strongly-burning passion. Words are not necessary for music to communicate–instrumentals tell stories, such as this song below.

As language, music serves many purposes. Music does not only reflect the mood of the listener, it also influences the mood. When sad, people may choose to listen to happy songs to alleviate their sadness. This reminds me of something I encountered that says you know you are in love when all the songs make sense. Music can also serve as channel for

A black metal fan.

A black metal fan.

one’s emotions. I, for one, treat music as such. For example, I listen to metal to channel my rage because it seems to me that metal music expresses my rage for me, leaving me no need to physically express my rage. To some, music is a form of meditation too, thus music is an aid to intrapersonal communication. However, I do not believe that music can also be a basis to judge people. I have encountered people who judge others by their tastes in music, and their judgment were wrong most of the time. For example, many people hate Justin Bieber and his fans, but most of the Justin Bieber fans I have met are nice. The stigma attached to people like me who enjoy metal also have no basis since metal fans–not the ones with the 0-4 buttons–are among the most courteous people I have met. [We’re talking about Linguistics, why not insert a pun?]

Music, specifically ones with lyrics, are also like oral communication. There are times when the tune does not match the lyrics as there are times when one’s tone does not match what one is saying. As my father noted about ‘Dust In the Wind’ by Kansas, the lyrics are so pessimistic and gloomy but the tune is not. There was a separation between the tune and the words, both seemingly expressing different emotions. However, I answered my father that the harmony between the tune and the words was able to capture the sense of the song. I told him that maybe the song is such because it is actually meant to strike thought and deep reflection among the listeners. Since the song is about the senselessness of life–borderline Nihilism if you ask me–it could be that the composer/s wished for the listeners to take a moment to contemplate their lives. This is where music ceases being a language that we all understand, and begins to be art that needs to be examined. What a fascinating thing music is!

I wonder if God overlooked music when He punished the builders of Babel or if He merely spared music out of mercy, but it sure took thousands of years and tomes of theories for humans to prove that music is the Universal Language. I believe music as universal language is something we can all agree upon. I have even read that in case of encounters with extraterrestrial life, space probes were loaded with images that portray life on Earth, recordings of messages in different languages, and music that range from classics to modern and contemporary. This may just be the ultimate test of the universality of what we humans dubbed as the Universal Language. For now, let us settle with the fact that music is one of the greatest means for human communication.

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Storybooks that Grow and Breathe

storybook

I have forgotten how I learned to read. In my earliest memories from when I was three years old, I already remember reading the books scattered around in my childhood home. Books sweep me away from reality so much that when it’s time for me to return to my world, I feel isolation. I mingle with people, I interact with them, I feel them, I think I understand them, but I cannot help but feel that I am merely observing humanity without taking part in it, like a deep-penetration agent if you please. Stories fascinate me, people don’t. People are the fruits from which I extract the juice necessary for me to live in the form of stories. For me, people are storybooks that grow and breathe.

Every single one of us has a story to tell. It may not be our life story–it can be a story about our shoes, for example, or about our hobbies–but each of our stories is unique. I remember that part from Voltaire’s novella, Candide, wherein Candide and Cunegonde were asked to have all the people in the ship they were boarding tell their stories. To my greatest sorrow, Voltaire did not detail the stories Candide and Cunegonde heard from those people, but the story itself was already filled with those of the characters. I would have loved to know, though, how diverse those stories were and if there were stories that seemed similar. It would have been great if I knew how Candide and Cunegonde asked for those stories too. It was fun to note in that novella how easily the characters tell their stories to Candide and how Candide reacted to those stories.

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My mind is a library wherein each of the person I met has their own book. I collect their stories. Those stories are not necessarily about their experiences, those stories may include their ideas, their views, and the events I shared with them. When I meet a person, you see, I prepare a blank book for them and they write their own stories on the pages of those blank books through the things they tell me. I write my observations regarding the person on their books in the form of annotations, and if there is someone else who has something to tell about that person, they also get to write annotations on that person’s book. Of course, I keep those books so that I could flip through them from time to time. By employing that method in my interactions, I minimize prejudice, assumptions, judgment and hasty generalizations towards other people. However, I do not do that just for the sake of satisfying my thirst for collecting stories. Of course, I do something with those stories–I learn from them. As I write my own story in the library of my mind, I put annotations on my own pages that were lifted from the books of the people I have met. I also rifle through those books when I write fiction or poetry–I would sometimes combine and/or augment some of those books and write them anew as a separate book that comes in the form of my creative output. So when you meet me, you better have a story to tell.

If you write from the heart, you’ll never run out of ink. Each of us has our own stories to tell–our own books of blank pages that we must fill. We cannot afford erasures on those pages, let alone allow one of those pages be torn. When it is time to place the ultimate punctuation in the book of our lives, we must place the completed book on the shelf of the library of humanity without hesitation. The number of the pages of the books of our lives does not matter, the content does. Whether the last punctuation of your book is an exclamation point, a question mark or a period, what matters is how the story transitioned towards the end. When it is time to close our books and retire, we must do so knowing our stories have been great and complete, such that they can be excellent references for the younger ones as they write their own. Perhaps, we never know whether or not, or when we are coming back to write a new story of our own.

Leonid_Pasternak_001

‘Throes of Creation’ by Leonid Pasternak

Why We Should Vomit Doves: An Excercise of Freedom

freedom-of-speech2

My greatest pet peeve is people who hold back and people who restrain themselves especially in expressing themselves. Sure, society has put up limits on how we can express ourselves, but there are many who succeed in expression without violating these limits. People who hold back too much wrap their own chains around themselves.

Perhaps this view of mine stems from my fascination towards history. Wherever or to whomever we were born, I am sure that our ancestors have fought for freedom at least once. It does not matter whether or not they were victorious, it’s all about the effort they have put in securing freedom for us, their descendants. I’m also quite sure that you reading this means those days of suppression our ascendants erased for us are finally gone. The success of those who fought for freedom thus drives me to believe that the people are more empowered now than they were before, that we now believe freedom is not a privilege but a right.

I had a teacher who told me "I want you to draw with words". Art by Michael Volpicelli

I had a teacher who told me “I want you to draw with words”. Art by Michael Volpicelli

However, I understand that people who opt not to fully express themselves may do so because they do not wish to harm their fellows. As what they say, one’s freedom ends when that of another begins. I wish to remind everyone, though, that there are many ways to express oneself without hurting others. Art is one of the greatest forms of expression out there. May that art be visual, literary, theatre, music, or just any creative channel for an individual’s expression, all forms of art are harmless expressions of oneself. With art also comes the power of implications and the appeal to the subconscious of the audience. There is such a thing as passive-aggression which comes in the form of indirect expression of contradiction or hostility. You may say passive-aggression may still cause harm, but at least the harm is minimal compared to direct aggression. Perhaps, there is also diplomacy and the practice of tact. Appropriate articulation exists for anything that needs to be expressed. There are appropriate terms, tones, gestures and manners to match concepts or messages that needs to be conveyed in order to express them clearly without being offensive. I believe that clarity in expression is not something one is born with–we are all born to express and communicate. Communication skills are taught everywhere, in the classroom, among family, among colleagues, etc. Most of all, communication is a skill acquired mostly through interactions and exposure to different kinds of people.

Holding back in expression is an immense hindrance to proper communication. Perhaps the most common cause–or even the main cause–of conflict is miscommunication. I challenge you to count all the problems you encountered within the year which were not borne of miscommunication and see if you run out of fingers to count with. By establishing that miscommunication is the root of many problems, it can be said that communication is the solution to just as many or even more of those problems caused by miscommunication. Peace treaties weren’t written and signed using blades and gunpowder, and those who signed did not do so by ignoring each other. Throughout the course of history, wars and battles were concluded with ink and paper. Diplomacy and proper communication put an end to the greatest conflicts that ever occurred.

Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Credits to the owner.

Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Credits to the owner.

I totally agree with Rousseau when he said that “Man is born free–but everywhere he is in irons”. However, we all have a choice of breaking those chains or adding to them, because–as what Rousseau mentioned–man is born free. No matter how much we say that society is restricting, there are points in our lives wherein we are allowed to glimpses of freedom, and it is up to us whether to take on those chances or not. I respect those who may not express themselves in certain matters as long as it is their wholehearted choice. However, I do not think it is right to hold back what one wants to express if they are already feeling the tremendous need to do so. We all have a right to freedom of expression which we must all respect ourselves and others for possessing it. Voltaire once said “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”, and that exactly is my belief. Even if the words coming out of your mouth are no better than vomit, I would find solace in the fact that the freedom of expression our forebears so fervently fought for is being actualized. The way I see it, we were born with freedom to use as currency for investing in happiness throughout our lives. Like money, we must not keep from exercising freedom niggardly but we must also learn to utilize it wisely.

Kizuna

So I have been watching this anime, Sengoku Basara. It’s the anime adaptation of the Capcom game series of the same name, which is basically a reimagining of the historical figures during the Warring States or the Sengoku Period in Japan. There’s this guy, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who betrayed his superior, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, in order to unify the Land of the Rising Sun through his own way. You see, the previous warlords who succeeded in ‘unifying’ the nation, Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi respectively, did so by waging wars against all the ruling warlords of the different regions and defeating them all. Though Tokugawa Ieyasu has the same motives as Oda and Toyotomi, he had a different approach. He aims to do it through the power of bonds.

takechiyo

Instead of sending declarations of war to the other warlords, Tokugawa sent a plea to support his cause. As expected, though, only very few of those warlords responded positively to this plea. Most of them ignored Tokugawa and continued to fight each other. At this point of the anime, I weighed Tokugawa’s cause. Why was he confident in the ‘power of bonds’? What’s so special with ‘bonds’ that can overcome the tides of war? How do people even form bonds?

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Takeda & Uesugi

First of all, let us examine how bonds are formed. In that particular anime, there are characters like Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin who formed a deep bond because of the battles they fought against each other. So theirs is a bond not of hatred nor friendship, but of rivalry which roots from the satisfaction of one finding a match against the skills of the other. These characters marched against each other many times, but they are easy to ally with each other when needed. In fact, Takeda and Uesugi are among the warlords who declared support towards Tokugawa’s cause. Such is not the case in reality though. As how a professor of mine defines it concisely, communication can only happen if and only if the communicators have something in common– like the place where they’re at, the time, interests etc. Forming bonds through shared interests is what is common in my life. In my organization, UPM-OMAKE, for example, we are all gathered by our interest for the Japanese culture, and thus formed bonds with our fellow members.

Establishing bonds take time and intimacy, but maintaining bonds is just as difficult. People constantly change and drift away from each other in any sense of the phrase. It is very hard to constantly communicate with people who have drifted away from you. It’s almost as if you are establishing bonds all over again because you have to seek for a common ground on which all of you can stand on despite the changes that occurred among you. I’m currently experiencing it with my friends from high school. No matter how much we wish to see each other again, finding a common time to schedule our get-together needed lots of work since those who went to college did so in different universities, some are overseas and some are already raising families of their own. Establishing a bond is not enough, it has to be constantly strengthened such that when it is put under great strain, the bond would not go loose. Hence, I realized that, in maintaining bonds, one must be open to the changes of the others, and that a common long-term goal should be established among all those who share the bond–may that goal be aspirations, or merely the enjoyment of the company of each.

holding-onto-a-ropeGoing back to Tokugawa Ieyasu and his noble cause, one of the points he should have focused on was the depth of the bonds that bound the warlords. Not all those warlords were like Takeda and Uesugi who had a healthy relationship. Some of those warlords were like Mouri and Chousokabe who would pull each other down. Bonds are made of the fragile threads of trust loomed and sewn together over time. We even have a level of trust in our adversaries, especially in expecting a good match from them. Tokugawa Ieyasu was right in trusting the power of bonds, however, he should have tried to see the bonds between each of the warlords of the Warring States before attempting to entwine them all together. Bonds are powerful things in the sense that we share them with all that has passed us or walked with us in the course of our lives. Bonds can help us or defeat us, what matters is that we should know how to hold those bonds–when to hold them tightly, when to hold them loose, when to tug at them, and of course, when to let them go.

The Flowers by the Road

Not every University of the Philippines Manila student majoring in Organizational Communication has put the said course as their first choice in their UPCAT application form. In fact, one of the first things we OrCom students ask each other when we were freshmen is “what’s your first course choice?”. I’m guilty of this, and because of that, I shall talk about my first choice and passion–Creative Writing.

I have always been fascinated with literature as a child. I wrote my first poem when I was seven, I remember it was just a rhyme of four lines about friendship. Words fascinated me more than anything else, and the pictures that words would draw in my imagination. Before I entered college and took up OrCom, I was really more expressive when it comes to writing, and I have OrCom to thank for making me more orally communicative.

It is a stigma that creative writers are mostly introverts who find difficulties in other forms of communication aside from writing. I would like to contest that. Creative writing develops keen observation. For people who put experiences into words, creative writers are greatly skilled in noticing the details. The creases of an elder’s face, the hue of the afternoon sky, the feathers of a bird that dance against the wind, the hurried pacing of people in intersections, among others, are things that creative writers take up as a challenge to describe in minute detail. Creative writers also perceive implications easily. The subconscious is a powerful element in creative writing, thus writers make and note the subtlest implications which the most critical of readers must never overlook. For the writers to achieve their best output, they pick their words as meticulously as a chef picks ingredients. Writers mix these words together and sets them in the most palatable way they could for their readers. To say that writers find it difficult to communicate outside of writing has no basis at all. Writers are among the most expressive people one can meet, as far as I am concerned.

Now, I’m not patronizing Creative Writing here because I resent my current course, Organizational Communication, nor do I aim to put a ‘versus’ between these two. I would like to clarify that Creative Writing and Organizational Communication are not parallel disciplines that are never meant to intersect. In fact, my interest in Creative Writing has helped me a lot in my studies as an Organizational Communication major. For me, they are meant to coexist. In Organizational Communication, especially in Marketing and Public Relations, we aim to reach out to as many of the stakeholders as we can, and Creative Writing is one of the best channels for us to do so. Creative Writing is necessary for creating publicity materials, presenting the story of the organization, and appealing to the stakeholders of campaigns. One is the means to achieve the other, to put it briefly. I believe no contradiction is necessary, except for Technical Writing which might just be the opposite of Creative Writing in the field of–well–writing. In general, however, and in my personal experience with OrCom and CW, these fields nurture each other. I apply many things I learned in my major subjects in OrCom, and I apply Creative Writing in many of my major subjects as well. It’s almost a symbiotic relationship, the way I see it.

The reason why I chose to take Organizational Communication instead of Creative Writing is because of the opportunities waiting for me after graduation. My parents, thinking about my future, had me agree to take OrCom because of the job opportunities an OrCom degree-holder has as compared to that of a CW graduate. Sad as the initial reasoning may seem, I am glad to have taken up OrCom instead of CW. If I took up a course to enhance my writing skills, my exposure would be limited to writing only and worse, I might even end up hating writing because of the pressure academic requirements may have on me. Creative Writing will always be my passion, but I have also learned to dearly appreciate Organizational Communication. As it is, if Organizational Communication is the road I am taking, Creative Writing is the stretch of flowers by that road.

A Little Digression and a Hint of Lament

Let me ride the wave of current events in this post. Does the name ‘Jennifer Laude’ seem familiar to you? That name has been hitting the local news frequently as of late, and the case associated with the person named so had sparked several issues. For those not familiar with the case, please read about it in the following links.
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/u-s-marine-charged-murder-killing-transgender-filipina-article-1.1974857
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/10/13/14/used-condoms-found-near-murdered-transgender

Jennifer 'Ganda' Laude, a woman.

Jennifer ‘Ganda’ Laude, a woman.

To be honest, it was not until today that I thoroughly read the news online for this topic. I first heard about it when I groggily ambled into our house one evening after a tedious day at school. As I was taking off my shoes, my father pointed at the TV rather enthusiastically for a 58-year-old man. “Ayan! Yan yung news kaninang tanghali. He explained, being an avid watcher of news whatever time of day it is. It got my attention, and my mother’s too, as the news anchor introduced the report. With LGBTQ rights as one of the advocacies that interest me most, I paid great attention to the report and so did my parents. Knowing my parents are conservative individuals who come from a generation wherein gender was not as widely-discussed as it is today, I steeled myself up so as not to be offended by the comments my parents might make by the end of the report. I got what I expected when the program moved on to another topic– my mother heaved a sigh and lowered her gaze and my father gave more than his three usual ‘tsk’s. “She’s another victim!” my father exclaimed. I was surprised. “‘She’?” I asked, “diba transgender siya? Jeffrey pa nga yung pangalan niya e.” My father looked at me sternly and said, “Oo, ‘she’. Kasi babae siya, anak. Siya si Jennifer.” I suppressed a tear at that moment as I resumed taking off my shoes, not because I felt defeated but because I felt proud that my father understood poor Jennifer’s predicament. My father continued to lash out regarding the Visiting Forces Agreement, how Americans treat Filipinos and how twisted the American mentality seemed to him. My mother chimed in from time to time to my father’s rambling that evening. I merely listened to them so I could assess their views in my mind. They never attacked the victim for not being ‘straight’ or for being a slut as they did Nicole, the victim of the Subic rape case. They discussed the case, the situation, the motives and such. I was waiting for the spite towards the victim, but it never came. I felt proud, perhaps because I felt responsible for their current views– telling myself that my lectures on gender during dinner has finally gotten into their minds. That night, I slept with a silent congratulation to myself. “Today, my family. Tomorrow, society.” I remember telling myself.

I told that story just so you can have a clue on my reaction when I turned to the internet earlier today. A friend of mine shared this link: https://anc.yahoo.com/news/jennifer-laude-s-fiance-vows-to-ensure-her-killer-will-be-punished-002535941.html telling his Facebook friends to read the letter and the comments then react on the state of Philippine society. It got my attention and I followed his words. I shed tears while reading the letter of Jennifer’s fiance, but I was astonished as I read the comments. All I was able to say as I read the comments was ‘why’, ‘how could you’ and ‘what the f*ck’. I heard that crisp, thin sheet of metaphorical paper on which I wrote the congratulatory note to myself being torn with zest. I wanted to show those spiteful comments to Marc Suselbeck himself and say “you’re right”. To me, those comments were personal blows to which I felt defeated.

Negative comments to Jennifer's case.

Negative comments to Jennifer’s case.

As any other person would, I sought someone or something to blame for the mentality of those people. The media sprang to my mind. The media that shows gay people cannot be taken seriously, that they are meant for comedy shows and mock-pageants, that only the ‘straight’ people can live happily ever after, that the LGBTQ are afflicted by some kind of perversion. It would give me a bit of joy when documentaries, shows and films would feature the lives of LGBTQ people nowadays. However, I think that narrating and delving into the lives of gay people is not enough to raise awareness.

Possibly one of the most sexist commercials I've seen.

Possibly one of the most sexist commercials I’ve seen.

Funny how the media would frequently define what a man is and what makes one manly, and what a woman is and what makes her womanly, how the media explains chivalry and modesty, the strong and the delicate, masculinity and femininity, and segregates them into two boxes to establish that it is what is proper– in other words, how the media draws one single line to separate the sexes in a binary way. Clearly, though, everything– especially gender– is not binary. For sure the media knows it and has acted on it, but merely showcasing is not enough, it has to be explained. I have not seen a single local show or program that has tried to explain the different genders and sexuality– heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, transgender, transvestite and so on. The people needs to be educated, showing and protesting is not enough if we don’t make the subject clear to them.

As if only housewives do the dishes!

As if only housewives do the dishes!

This brings me to the issue of marketing and how sexist most ads are. In advertisements and commercials, it is always the woman who cooks, does the laundry, washes the dishes and does all the housework, and it is always the man who drives, drinks alcohol and energy drinks, and does all the heavy work, and it’s always “sa mga nanay na nanonood”. As a child, I would glance at my father whenever the host or whoever was speaking would directly address the mother. When I was little, my father decided that he would focus on nurturing me even if that meant he becomes unemployed and does the things only the Nanay would do. I think my father made the right choice because I would not be the person who stands where I am now if he was not able to always stay close to me as I grew up. So what about the fathers who decided to fill in the society-dictated role of the mother? Back when I was a child and even now, I would take offense when that generalization, “sa mga nanay”, is mentioned.

Perhaps, though, now that the media has decided to take an active role on gender education, the mindset of our society regarding gender issues could be shaped, especially through marketing. If we pay more attention to gender sensitivity, perhaps we can reach out and relate to more people. Say, if we minimize gendered marketing, maybe the society would be more welcoming to everyone no matter what their gender or sexuality is.