Monday, August 29, 2011

James Soriano Disturbed You? Good

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I get it. The infamous viral James Soriano opinion piece provoked a massive “Kung sino?” snort from people. With their response they are proving him right.

Sometimes there is a fine line between making a point and speaking from your high horse. I try to be aware of that line when I write but I am sure I have crossed it a few times for some people. Mr. Soriano makes the point that English is the language of the learned. Let's explore that point. I have lived here in Manila for almost 12 years. Media is something I analyze over and over in this blog. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my degree is in that vein.

One of my major beliefs is that your mass media is not there to educate you. They are there to attract you. Two different things. Mass media are beholden to their sponsors and not to you. In short mass media is not telling you what you need to know but what you want to hear.

Marshall McLuhan is famous for his quote the medium is the message. I can tell you from where I sit. That in this country the language is the message. First of all. Compare the news that the over the air channels provide in Tagalog with ABS CBN News Channels news. The intonation of the Tagalog broadcast resembles pro wrestling commentary. The tone of the English broadcast sounds more like golf commentary. Why? You are reaching completely different mentalities when you select in this country what language you will use. If you totally disagree with me or James Soriano be prepared to argue the case that there is no such thing as language bias. Take a cue from non verbal cues. Just like the traits are different when you tune into golf and when you tune into wrestling.

People's Tonight. Headlines in English but stories in Tagalog.

If you don't buy the tone of voice argument then explain to me why is there no newspaper of record in this country in Tagalog. I am no big fan of the Inquirer, The Philippine Star and Manila Bulletin. But they are text book Columbia School of Journalism compared to their Tagalog counterparts.

Here is an exercise for you. Those who do understand Tagalog (I do to some extent) . For the next week expose yourself to an adequate amount of Tagalog media. Newspapers and tv news. Then try to imagine yourself as one who totally avoids English media and only gets information from Tagalog sources. What would your perspective be like? What would you be missing out on? What blind spots inherent in Tagalog media would therefore be your blind spots?

Those of us who can and do seek English sources of information are exposed to a plethora of perspectives on numerous topics. I won't try to dictate to you what I view to be width or the narrowness of Tagalog media but try it for yourself. What would it be like if that is all you had to go on? That is why his point that most people seem to ignore is that if you are serious about learning then you are better off with a daily diet of all English sources than all Tagalog. It's all a question of values in those that tend to stick to only Tagalog. My view here.

Whether you like it or not, media is a reflection of the audience it is trying attract. Kris Aquino is the way she is because a ton of people buy into her emo pseudo victim act. The audience wants that so Kris delivers. Based on her endorsement contracts boy does she deliver. I don't mean Boy Abunda either.

If by now you still believe that English and Tagalog are just interchangeable let me ask you a question. Would Willie Revillame work if he did exactly the same show only in English? My personal opinion: you can't spell Revillame without "lame".

If the answer is no then don't shoot James Soriano for being the messenger. He held up a mirror to this country's face. The country did not like what it saw and blamed the mirror and the mirror holder. In the immortal words of Colonel Nathan R. Jessup " You can't handle the truth".

What do you expect from a population that is honestly convinced Journey owes it's career to
Arnel Pineda? What do you expect from a country that does not encourage soccer yet feels self entitled to being in the next World Cup? What do you expect from a population that rewarded a convicted plunderer second place in a free election for president?


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Marshall Mcluhan

Language, learning, identity, privilege

I think


August 24, 2011, 4:06am

MANILA, Philippines — English is the language of learning. I’ve known this since before I could go to school. As a toddler, my first study materials were a set of flash cards that my mother used to teach me the English alphabet.

My mother made home conducive to learning English: all my storybooks and coloring books were in English, and so were the cartoons I watched and the music I listened to. She required me to speak English at home. She even hired tutors to help me learn to read and write in English.

In school I learned to think in English. We used English to learn about numbers, equations and variables. With it we learned about observation and inference, the moon and the stars, monsoons and photosynthesis. With it we learned about shapes and colors, about meter and rhythm. I learned about God in English, and I prayed to Him in English.

Filipino, on the other hand, was always the ‘other’ subject — almost a special subject like PE or Home Economics, except that it was graded the same way as Science, Math, Religion, and English. My classmates and I used to complain about Filipino all the time. Filipino was a chore, like washing the dishes; it was not the language of learning. It was the language we used to speak to the people who washed our dishes.

We used to think learning Filipino was important because it was practical: Filipino was the language of the world outside the classroom. It was the language of the streets: it was how you spoke to the tindera when you went to the tindahan, what you used to tell your katulong that you had an utos, and how you texted manong when you needed “sundo na.”

These skills were required to survive in the outside world, because we are forced to relate with the tinderas and the manongs and the katulongs of this world. If we wanted to communicate to these people — or otherwise avoid being mugged on the jeepney — we needed to learn Filipino.

That being said though, I was proud of my proficiency with the language. Filipino was the language I used to speak with my cousins and uncles and grandparents in the province, so I never had much trouble reciting.

It was the reading and writing that was tedious and difficult. I spoke Filipino, but only when I was in a different world like the streets or the province; it did not come naturally to me. English was more natural; I read, wrote and thought in English. And so, in much of the same way that I learned German later on, I learned Filipino in terms of English. In this way I survived Filipino in high school, albeit with too many sentences that had the preposition ‘ay.’

It was really only in university that I began to grasp Filipino in terms of language and not just dialect. Filipino was not merely a peculiar variety of language, derived and continuously borrowing from the English and Spanish alphabets; it was its own system, with its own grammar, semantics, sounds, even symbols.

But more significantly, it was its own way of reading, writing, and thinking. There are ideas and concepts unique to Filipino that can never be translated into another. Try translating bayanihan, tagay, kilig or diskarte.

Only recently have I begun to grasp Filipino as the language of identity: the language of emotion, experience, and even of learning. And with this comes the realization that I do, in fact, smell worse than a malansang isda. My own language is foreign to me: I speak, think, read and write primarily in English. To borrow the terminology of Fr. Bulatao, I am a split-level Filipino.

But perhaps this is not so bad in a society of rotten beef and stinking fish. For while Filipino may be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned.

It is neither the language of the classroom and the laboratory, nor the language of the boardroom, the court room, or the operating room. It is not the language of privilege. I may be disconnected from my being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections.

So I have my education to thank for making English my mother language.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aug 22 2011 Video Blog


Justice for Ninoy

The Stock Market


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Saturday, August 20, 2011

College Football Historian Uses My Recommendations And Why All I Care About Is Love

Yes, they read me on a podcast from ESPN Bristol, Conn last week. But this is a not a blog entry to boast about that. It is to illustrate one of the main points of my blog. Which is enjoy something for the sake of what it is. NCAA Football is something I enjoy along with NFL football and Major League baseball and the other sports I enjoy. It has nothing to do with nationality but everything to do with the fact that they are enjoyable on their own. As entertainment as well places to learn from. Like I said many times that I watch enough news and sports that reality tv has very little to offer me.

Yes they read my letter but after I thought that any idiot could Google the answer. Maybe not come up with the same answers but still come up with something. If I did that I would be going against one of my dear values of jumping on the bandwagon. Just know I am sincere as I have blogged about the Holtz book before.

I own both books that I recommend. I knew of Bill Curry before because almost any regular of Lombardi's Packers is known to anybody who cares about the history of the NFL.He also got my attention when he became the head coach at Alabama. But it was during his radio spots with ESPN's Golic and Greenberg that I really began to appreciate his wisdom.

"Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle is equal parts autobiography, character study, leadership manual, and profound philosophy. " - description in Amazon by the author of Prince of Tides Pat Conroy


Know something about college football in the US. The appeal is very regional. People in New York City for example love the Yankees, Rangers, Jets, Mets, Knicks and Giants but could care less about any college team the same way people in Nebraska, Columbus and Oklahoma care. It's no secret I spent 19 years in Vancouver when I was not living in Manila. But Canadians did not even care about their own college football much less US college football. So in my 45 years of living I have not resided at anytime in a hotbed of US college football yet I love it. Which goes back to my point. Love something and support something because you love the essence of it. Not the label. Not to fit in with the people around you. Just like Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago- All I Care About Is Love.

That's my point with the Azkals fad. You couldn't pay the locals to watch a team sport that was not basketball forever and a day in this place. Then this dramatic shift from apathy to fanaticism for the Azkals. That's not love, that's opportunism, mob mentality and peer pressure.

Finally I want to talk about my fondness for the co host of ESPNU College Football's podcast. He is Beano Cook. Nicknamed the Bard of Pittsburgh and the Pope of College Football. If it is unlikely a guy from Manila could answer that trivia question what is even more unlikely is that Beano Cook could not.


 Technical note: podcast excerpt is available as a download here or in the Multiply version of this post in the attachments.

Relevant Links: (college football)


ivan maisel

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Noynoy Has A Lot In Common With Paris Hilton

When Noynoy heard some vain, self important, attention grabbing good for nothing loose woman was coming to visit Malacanang. His first instinct was "Kris!!!" Forget my personal views on Noynoy . Why is Paris Hilton’s Manila visit treated like she is a Nobel Peace Prize winner? If life has taught me anything it is the dumb are always fertile ground in which to plant comedy . I initially totally agreed with Georgina Wilson that Noy has better things to do than make time for Paris Hilton. But it's quite possible that his copy of Modern Warfare 3 is not ready yet.

But then I thought about it.:

  • Paris born into money and has no skills that sets her apart from adults . Noynoy born into money and has no skills that sets him apart from adults.

  • Paris is famous for being famous and saying stupid things. Noynoy same thing.

  • Paris has no redeeming value and is often seen with her little Chihuahua Tinkerbell. Noynoy same thing but no dog.

  • Paris is a smoking hot ditzy blonde. Noynoy is a chain smoking klutzy bald guy.

  • Paris was caught in a compromising video with a guy. I would not be surprised if one day there is a video of Noynoy in a compromising video with a guy.

Paris Hilton and Noynoy. Which one is shallower? They are so similar. Paris is a tabloid publisher's dream. Noynoy was voted in by our people to the land's highest elected office? Philippines what is wrong with you?


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ESPN's Scott Van Pelt Describes Azkals Bandwagon Kind Of

"Well, that's me. I'm Superman.And France was like Krypton. You know, on Krypton everybody was Superman. You make a nice sauce, everybody makes a nice sauce. You say hello to a woman with your French accent, everybody say hello! But here, here on Earth, this is the place where I knew I had special powers. I tell the bankers about my little village in France, and they all say, how brave and amazing you are, Anton. I could read the phone book to a woman and they become hypnotized, wet as morning daisies. " from the movie Addicted to Love (1997)

Listen to ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt talk about all the fans on the soccer bandwagon. You can listen to it here. He may as well have been talking about the Azkals fans. Having fervor is one thing if it's consistent but it's not. This Azkal mania is a fad because 95% of their fans did not watch soccer even two years ago. If you are in the 5% I have no quarrel with you. Van Pelt also talked about American fans and their sense of entitlement. Like they were supposed to beat Mexico. Soccer means more to Mexicans than it does to Americans and Filipinos combined. The two countries that are the most apathetic to soccer are America and the Philippines. I talked about last year here.

Van Pelt in his five-minute opinion piece might as well have been talking about Filipinos instead of the Americans. The similarities are all there. The Americans went nuts about the women's World Cup team. The Filipinos went nuts about the Azkals. The Americans do not care one lick about the women soccer teams that play every year. The Filipinos also do not care about any kind of soccer played within their shores not involving the Azkals. When it comes to soccer both the Americans and the Filipinos are not exactly known for their devotion. Which makes the hysteria of the Azkals even more mystifying to me.

In the words of Van Pelt "Irrationally Exuberant. "There is one difference though between the Americans and the Filipinos. The Americans won the women’s World Cup in 1999 and were in the finals in 2011. The Filipinos beat a team whose only mention in Google was that they lost to the Azkals. I should know. I tried.

Van Pelt puts it very simply. Soccer is #1 in Mexico and no one cares in the US. Why does the US feel let down by losing to Mexico? Just like all the Pinoys who know nothing about soccer because they never did care yet expect heap unprecedented celebrity on the Azkals. One big difference with the US though. Van Pelt mentions seven different sports leagues that easily get more attention than soccer. Filipinos only love and only know basketball in terms of team sport. That is their universe and sole sport. Nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is the sense of entitlement to a different sport that knew nothing about even two years ago. Listen to the 4-minute mark of the clip I provide of Van Pelt. The key phrase he uses to describe the American fans 150% applies to Filipino fans " You are new to pretending you care". That describes Filipinos. Pretending to be something they are not.

First of all let me ask how can you be crazy over something you had no interest in two years ago? The promoters and the sponsors salute you for your fickleness. Like I said the Azkals are perceived to be Filipino and perceived to be good. That is why you watch. The problem is they are neither. Nationality and sports are a bad mix anyway. US and Philippines deserve International Soccer success the least.

I remember being in a baseball diamond in North Vancouver. This was a Sunday afternoon and outdoors. Suddenly there was this spontaneous motorcade. Iranian flag flying. Iranians so proud they beat the US in some World Cup match. Americans to my knowledge were not reciprocating in terms of grief.

Americans are peculiar that way. They don’t care about your sports leagues. They know you will still watch what is theirs way more than they will watch what is yours. The World Series, The Super Bowl and the NBA Finals are broadcast everywhere.

This is really about love. No other way to put it. Everybody else is passionate about soccer. 7 days a week 365 days a year. Sorry to break it you pinoys but that passion produces world-class players.

If there was a gradual ramp up of fanaticism and expectations for the Azkals then that would be ok. The bandwagon just went from to empty to full in such a short a time. Like I said many times before it's because of KSP (Lack of attention in English) . And KSP is the root of all-evil as far as I am concerned.

The “Basta Pinoy Da Best” mentality excludes work and determination. It only takes ethnicity into consideration. Am I saying that mentality is both self entitled and racist? You are smart enough to answer that question. Does that mentality lead to world-class results? I believe no. That's just me.

To every action is a reaction. This editorial is my reaction to the Azkals fans sense of entitlement. The world loves soccer, the Philippines does not . They love the Azkals not soccer. There is a difference. They love the Azkals but even then not for very long. There was no boyhood inspiration to inspire our youth for generations to excel in soccer. As a result there was no effort to be any kind of soccer power even in South East Asia. We expect to be significant globally?

Pinoy fanboyism is a topic I explore in this blog time and time again. Like most other places in life. Fanaticism and rationality are rarely companions. The guy beside me loves to looks at some local discussion forum. One active participant used as his signature “ the Azkals will rule the football world.” well if being clobbered by a team that is not a World Cup staple is his idea of ruling the football world then he is 100% correct. Go Azkals. You rule.

Proof that our soccer love is so superficial is that even to get on the field with other countries we have to resort to coaches and players born and trained elsewhere. Not here. National team indeed. We are cheering the symbol of the flag on the jersey and not the substance behind the jersey. A substance devoid of anything organic to the Philippines. Yet we cheer. People who were not trained here. People who don't converse like we do. People who don't learn from the schools we learn from. People who can't sing the national anthem. Yet we all identify with them . Does not make sense to me.

All of us at one point has either represented their high school or cheered for an entity from their high school. That sense of belonging comes from some common experience. You had the same history teacher, ate at the same cafeteria and went to the same social functions. That team that kicks around the soccer ball that you cheer for are strangers in a strange land. Your land. They cant relate to you, yet you so willingly lend your enthusiasm unconditionally. There is a difference from true spirit and mercenaries. A lover and a whore. However you justified this gulf of disconnect in your mind all for the sake of the illusion of world attention. The country is so fixated they ignore the gulf of disconnect.

The criteria for country eligibility in the World Cup. Designed more for commercial interests and more diversity but not indicative of representing a nation as you can see by the makeup of the Azkals squad. FIFA fabricated nationality for you. And you bit.

Look at the Azkals roster. Lots of Fil- Danish, Fil -Ams, Fil- Spaniards, Fil - Germans. There is a reason why there is no significant player who is Fil-Fil. Because we suck. Like anything else in life you will suck if you don't care. We don't care so much that we have to resort to hyphen Filipinos. Guys who I guarantee you did not take the jeepney going to school growing up. Yet the Pinoy identifies with them. How many pinoys do you know with a surname of SHROCK? You guys would cheer Donkey if you thought he got you guys attention.

Allow me to question national identity since that to me is the fuel that runs this bandwagon of the Azkals. It sure as heck is not an intrinsic interest in soccer/ football since it is none existent here.

You want me to answer the question what would happen if we fielded a team of homegrown talent in International competition? Among countries that eat, sleep and breathe the sport? In the vernacular “palpak”. Based on our culture we prioritize basketball and we can't even excel there when faced with international competition. And these are all countries that prioritize soccer over basketball.

It's obvious FIFA has very liberal rules who can represent a country. That's why our “national “ team is not really representative of this country. Not one of them went to a local public school at any level. Soccer is the world's most popular sport except for here. The World Cup is a huge money making event. Not just on the year of the actual tournament but also the qualifying tournaments as well. The league will make more money the more countries vie to get into the actual tournament. The big boys like Italy, Germany and Brazil will be fine. It's the little guy whose money FIFA could use and does use but without liberal roster rules many of the little guys will not be part of the process. This country has not been able to field of homegrown players that could hold their own in true world completion. But FIFA has given this country hope by compromising national identity. This perceived patriotism is merely an illusion. You all want to cheer for the Pinoy. This Azkal experience should at least make you question what really is a Pinoy? What qualifies one to bear the Philippines name in international competition? Shouldn't there be some cultural correlation to the inhabitants of the Philippines? Or are you just cheering for the name on the uniform regardless what is inside that uniform?

FIFA's definition of what is a Filipino I suspect has more to do with commercial considerations than cultural ones. Yet you all fall for it. You rather have minimal success even if the team has very little to do with the country they are representing. Are the Azkals made of patriots or opportunists? You be the judge. This team has little in common with you yet they represent you. Is your national identity for sale? I am weird, I am different. I rather fail with whats truly mine than to succeed with something that is barely mine.

FIFA stands to gain more (make more money) the more hope the little guy has. Without hope there will be no Azkals mania. Without hope there will be very little chance of filling up the Rizal Coliseum for a sport pinoys care little about. The hope generated by the hyphened pinoys runs the bandwagon. And FIFA could not be happier. It is in their best financial interest that the stadiums here are full. You can claim to be patriotic but the true test of that is will you stand for your country if it's a true representation on the field and they are getting slaughtered. Its the pinoy proclivity for short cuts that allows them to bask in what little glory there is in beating Sri Lanka even though the country has not locally and remotely paid the price it takes to be great. Its the pinoy proclivity for short cuts that prevents them for seeing the situation for what it is. Us taking what little glory there is to be had be beating Sri Lanka using ringers. What are ringers?

The dictionary defines a “ringer” as a contestant entered in a competition under false pretenses. It takes three things to be really good in anything. Discipline, Attitude and Consistency. You can not convince me a guy who is so used to following sports for over 30 years that the Philippines has applied that to soccer.

Are you too wrapped up in the pinoy label to see that the team representing you is not representative of you? It is a fabrication more on marketing lines than national lines. The Dragonboat team is a totally different story. They not only represent you but they SERVE you. The team is composed of people trained from our own military. Too bad none of you cared about Dragonboat racing two weeks ago.

Twenty years ago George Will wrote a book called Men at Work. The subtitle was The Craft of Baseball. What he meant by that was the attention to detail the best put in what they do in order to be the best. How Tony Gwynn approached hitting. How Cal Ripken Jr. approached fielding. The minutia is fascinating. Pinoys don't care about soccer. That's why they suck as a soccer nation. That's why they have to drag in all the Fil Hyphens internationally to give the illusion that 1) we care 2) we are good.

Big fish in a small pond. That's what the Fil Hyphens are. Not significant as soccer players in their real country of origin but come over here and they are dating Angel Locsin. They could not in a million years crack their real national teams because they take the best of the best. They come here where soccer is not taken seriously and they are celebs. There is a vast difference between passion and a fad. Soccer here is a fad. The country as a whole did not care about the World Cup in 2010. Yet the nation feels entitled to quality. Read that quote again from the top about Superman and Krypton. It is not actual "fact" since Superman gains his powers from a yellow sun. That’s what you get reading the blog of a nerd. Attention to detail. Details like the Azkals are not pinoy. Details that the Azkals are not good.