The INC Delusion

Posted in Gulo ng buhay with tags , , , , , , on Agosto 29, 2015 by Blue Dela Kanluran

The biggest piece of news for the day is the vigil/rally that members of the Iglesia ni Cristo held on EDSA last night. The mass of people was so immense that it caused a gridlock in Manila’s busiest high-ways; trapping people on the road.

This is causing so much controversy online that it’s almost impossible for people not to get passionate on either side. Personally, I’ve always been averse to religious groups demonstrating on behalf of their faith, especially when it hampers the lives of people who don’t have a stake in what the group is fighting for.

Now, living in Manila for 25 years has made me numb to the inane need for the faithful to proclaim their beliefs – mostly I just ignore them – as do most other people. But, the INC take their shenanigans to a completely different level that ignoring them is just impossible.

The group already has an infamous reputation for helping form the political culture of the country through their practice of bloc voting, which they of course deny. It’s, however, displays like this “vigil” that prove what most people already suspect about the group and its members – they just do whatever they’re told.

Granted, I do say that anyone referring to a faith-based system of belief for guidance on EVERY aspect of daily life have no ability to think for themselves. But, to the credit of other religions there’s at least an attempt at trying to understand the issues confronting its members. No such attempt is ever made with the INC, and it’s given its members a warped understanding of reality – or an even more warped version of reality anyway.

The main point of contention stems from the purpose of the rally. A few days ago some ex-ministers of the church filed a complaint with the DOJ about mis-treatment from current ministers.

As its their directive to investigate complaints filed with them, the DOJ went about its job…which is wrong apparently.

Most of the rallyists claim that the investigation is a violation of the separation of Church and State and that the government should leave the internal politics of the INC alone. This not only betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of Separation of Church and State, it also displays how idiotic people can get en masse.

FIrst of all, yes the Separation of Church and State is a concept that supposedly prevents religious institutions from exerting influence over government to prevent the corruption and prejudice of European monarchies in the past. Likewise, governments can’t dictate what its citizens should believe.

The reason why this case is NOT a Separation issue is because THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF FAITH! It’s one person lodging a criminal complaint against someone else. This literally happens everyday. The only reason this is an issue is because the defendant is an INC official and he wants the charges dropped.

This is one of the most blatant examples of corruption in recent memory, and the biggest tragedy is all the people at that rally are more than happy to oblige. But, the most brain dead thing about the whole issue is how the members actually try to defend this idiocy.

There have been some attempts to liken this protest to the People Power Revolution

Not even close

The problems with this are obvious. People Power is about defending human rights from a dictator after years of censorship and oppression. The INC rally came together because they got a text massage to go there.

The location of the protests doesn’t even make sense. The DOJ is on Padre Faura, Malacanang is in San Miguel; Why the hell are you protesting on EDSA? This all reeks of nothing more than using the masses to exert pressure on the DOJ.

It’s sickening, stupid, and corrupt. This is the definition of herd mentality and the very reason why democracy continues to fail in this country. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, religion dulls the mind and the world will be better off the sooner it’s gone.


Enough is Enough! Stop Writing!

Posted in Neurotics with tags , , , , , on Agosto 8, 2015 by Blue Dela Kanluran

It’s been a solid month since I began formally mentoring some of the writers in our office. Now, this isn’t the first time I had to assume this kind of role over people. I had a couple of batches of OJTs to look after back in the days when I was working for the advertising department of a (surprisingly) still operating daily.

Why This is Relevant

But, this is the first time wherein the advice I give has tangible consequences on the people who choose to take it. A little context on that sentence. When I was mentoring OJTs they were still students, I wasn’t their principal instructor. I was a secondary authority figure that only allows them to better transition into the culture and reality of a working environment they’ll soon be entering. The responsibility of guiding them down the “right path” at least academically still lay with their professors and teachers.

This time, the “scores” they get depend on how effectively I can communicate my ideas on writing so that they can apply it to their own styles. The scores being the quantitative summation of their performance, which then affects their chances of acquiring bonuses, promotions, or even achievements that they can take to future job prospects. Pressure.

During the first month of our training there have been ups and downs, not just for me, but for the other mentors as well. All of the writers in our department are brilliant in their own way – some of them even have more impressive resumes than my own. But, they all run into one problem or another that seriously hampers their progress, and I’ve been wracking my brain about what it could be.

There’s Too Much Noise

I stumbled on the answer a few weeks ago, and it’s a problem that’s endemic in Filipino writers in general – they never know when to shut up. This isn’t just a problem with young, up and coming writer either; this is a problem that even veterans and published authors can succumb to.

The first time I was ever made aware of this was at (if you can believe it) a breakfast meeting with renowned children’s story book writer Christopher Cheng. He’s a really cool dude who loves telling stories to children, and is a very big deal in ASEAN and Australian children’s literature. Anyone interested in writing for kids should check out his work – especially Python, Water, and Sounds Spooky.

The meeting was organised by the Society of Children’s Book Writers (SCBWI) Manila chapter. Now, for those who know me there are a lot of things that don’t make sense with my participation in that talk, but that’s for another blog.

Anyway, he lamented the habit a lot of Filipino writers have of trying too put way too much into their stories that they become a confusing mix of conflicting plot points, hammy conflicts, pretentious solutions, and rushed conclusions. He critically panned plenty of the books we brought to the meeting exactly for that reason – many of which were award-winning pieces from prestigious bodies.

Stop Talking You Book

We all saw his point, and I completely agree. Reading his work next to the ones we brought, the difference was obvious. For the purposes of this examination I’m going to use the critically acclaimed Ang Ikaklit sa Aming Hardin. For those who don’t know this book, it’s considered a groundbreaking work in children’s literature, as it deals with the subject matter of growing up in a same-sex family.

Everyone loved this book and is the Palanca awardee for Children’s Literature in 2006. It’s a good read and I recommend it to anyone, whether they’re interested in local literature or children’s books. There’s just one glaring problem with it – it never stops talking.

Every page is a wall of exposition, the writer details every single thing going on regardless if it moves the story forward or not. Buy the book, or just look at the scans on Google and you’ll see what I’m talking about – small spoilers ahead.

On one pivotal page, the main character reveals that she has two mothers – cool stuff. But, it took an entire paragraph of explaining that the seeds she has were from her mothers. That entire section was filler that didn’t really need to be there. Yes, I realise the seeds grow into flowers in the garden to tie into a beautiful metaphor, which is exactly the problem.

There are too many ideas competing for the limited space of the story and the attention of the reader.

Going Back to Simple Stories

I see the same thing happening to my writers. They get so caught up in creating a narrative that they lose focus in what they’re trying to say. The reason is because most of them grew up with books and adventures that span multiple books, involving large story arcs, several characters, and deep meaning. There’s really nothing wrong trying to emulate the books we all love, but they’re all missing the point – all these books have simple ideas.

Harry Potters is a literary franchise spanning seven books, eight movies, and maybe even some spinoffs. But, at its heart it’s all about a boy who discovers he’s a wizard. Every book, every scene, every twist centers around that idea of whimsical discovery.

The fact that it ties in so well as a coming of age story makes it relatable and timeless, as everyone can can go on that journey because it’s a world that nobody has been in before. Rowling may have added hundreds if not thousands of elements into the mix from history to creatures, but the core remained the same – Harry Potter is about a boy who discovers he’s a wizard.

The same can be said of other classic stories:

Star Wars is about band of rebels trying to topple an oppressive empire – in space.

LOTR is about a road trip to destroy the tool of ultimate power and evil.

The Hobbit is about killing a dragon.

Toy Story is about toys coming to life.

Yes, the end products of these ideas are lengthy, epic storylines but each one stays true to the central ideas that began with. This is what’s missing from my writers, and Filipino literature in general. Everyone is so caught up in trying to be relevant and intellectual that they never get to tell a simple story.

Enough with the morals, enough with the exposition, enough with the intellectual babble. If I wanted to read about lit theory I wouldn’t be reading about a man who can shrink to the size of an insect and talk to ants. The secret to storytelling is staying true to your inspiration.

Keep the idea simple, and don’t force it to become something it’s not.

Staying Alive!

Posted in Neurotics with tags , , , , on Hunyo 21, 2015 by Blue Dela Kanluran

The last time I posted on this site was around two years ago, and a lot has changed since then on several levels. With all the different things going on I never had the time or the energy to blog about things. Forgetting the password to this site didn’t help in getting the motivation to write back up. When I finally got the password reset on this thing I was worried about the state it’s in.

Two years is a long time in internet time. In fact, it’s an eternity for a website to go without a single post. So, imagine my surprise when wordpress statistics says that the health of this blog is exactly the same as it was since the last post. It actually got healthier during the two solid years that I was ignoring it.

That makes no fucking sense! Looking at the numbers on a yearly basis my lowest years in terms of views were 2011 (when I started), and dipping very slightly in 2013. The number of visitors actually GREW in my absence, and its only this year 2015 when the views and visitors numbers actually reflect the reality that nothing new is going on.

Since the last time I wrote on this blog I’ve been in a couple companies, one was a BPO, and another was a slightly better BPO that operates on the internet. In the course of my stay there I learned a lot about how the net works behind the scenes (getting technical and shit). But, my stats fly in the face of what should happen when site goes dormant.

What’s going on? Is this place really this popular? Are people still talking about the things I used to talk about? Are spammers just trolling for site they can dump their stupid links on? The last one seems the most likely, but there should be a bunch of malware warnings attached to this site when they search it on Google (Aha! applying that technical shit I was talking about earlier).

Don’t get me wrong. I love that this place is still getting noticed even after I abandoned it for a couple of years, and it leaves me with a fuzzy feeling of contentment. That’s where I think the problem is though. I hate that feeling of warm fuzziness that happen when something good comes along. Contentment is a trap, its a euphemism for stagnation. Humans didn’t evolve to dominate this planet because they were content, we did it because everything else was trying to kill us!

As far as I’m concerned, contentment is the enemy of progress, which is why though I like Buddhists I don’t think they’re going anywhere with their philosophy. Struggle is the only way forward, because that’s how we push ourselves to find solutions. Without problems there’s no need to move forward.

The only reason you get up in the morning to a job is because you’re poor. The only reason you eat is because you feel pain when you don’t. Getting stuck in a happy rut is the reason why many people feel disenfranchised, depressed, and unfulfilled. If people get distracted by the small things that make them happy, they lose sight of the big picture and the goals they set in life.

This isn’t a popular opinion, gurus always say that people should enjoy the little things in life, stop and smell the roses, slow down, take a load off. This is nice to do every once in a while, but just to keep the stress the off your everyday life not an actual way to live.

If you live your life content with what you have you lose all drive to do absolutely anything else. The most successful people in the world are never satisfied. They always want more, and work to get more. People would call this greed, but those people are losers – literally.

Both wanting and needing drive people to reach newer heights. If you don’t want or need, you don’t gain anything and lose everything. This is why I’ll try to get more out of this blog from now on and drive to become something bigger, not exactly sure what bigger would mean in this case, but it’ll be a start.

I’m just glad to want to write nonsense again.

Critics corner by Homer J. Simpson

Posted in Gulo ng buhay with tags , , , , , , on Disyembre 9, 2012 by Blue Dela Kanluran

Okay, we all know that I have fallen behind in my reviews for this paper. I’m sorry. When I left off I was just about to review Star Wars, so here goes…

I was late to the movie theater because my car at the time was an old rusty piece of junk. I still have it, but at least now it has some sweet dice hanging from the mirror.

so when i got to the theater, the only seat was between two fat guys. How come that always happens to us regular folks? I barely had any room to put my extra-large popcorn, foot-long hot dog, and supreme nachos.

But then the movie started and I was swept off of Earth to Tatooine, a distant planet that looks like New Mexico. For those who arent familiar with Star Wars, its a parody of Spaceballs.

Lots of story stuff happens, and I’m not sure who was what and which guy was who. I do know that theres this “Death Star” which Darth Vader is having a hard time trying to get built. Lousy contractors! I tried to make that joke to Darth, but he couldnt hear me.

Later, I saw Barney, and we had a few beers in the parking lot. I was a little tipsy at that point, so I had trouble finding the theater again. When I walked in, the movie had changed a lot. Some guy called “Indiana Jones” was being chased by the biggest rock I ever saw! It was amazing! This concludes my review of Raiders of the Lost Ark

Next Week: Star Wars

CBCP disowns Arguelles

Posted in Gulo ng buhay with tags , , , , , on Nobyembre 29, 2012 by Blue Dela Kanluran

Two days ago I wrote an inflammatory comeback to wordpress about Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles for telling people to vote for political candidates who were “true christians” and kick out candidates who wnet “against” the teachings of the church. An example of a religious leader attempting to control freedom to vote towards a religious agenda by using his influence and guilt tripping anyone who takes him seriously.

Unfortunately a lot of people take the words of an Archbishop seriously. Fortunately smarter heads prevailed (although it really doesn’t take much to be smarter than this guy). Senator and lawmakers (probably sensing the threat to their own seats of power) rebuked him for his statement and denied that there was any such thing as a Catholic block vote, most prominent of these was Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Most of them reminding him of the constitutional provision of separation of church and state as I have stated previously.

Arguelles remained adamant saying that the responsibility of remaining separate was the states alone. Stating the example that the only thing that the constitution provides is that the state cannot impose any test of religion to those seeking office. Which is true, if we were talking about the American Constitution. Section 6 of the Philippine Constitution (and anybody correct me if I’m wrong here) merely says “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.” That’s it.

And smarter heads seem to still remain within the CBCP as CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma (a man I’m not particularly fond of) effectively disowned Arguelles saying “it’s up to the people to make their own decisions” which is how it’s supposed to be.

The only thing I have with this statement is that he followed it up, in attempt to salvage some of Arguelles’ dignity, by laying the blame on the reporter “The paper misinterpreted the statement of one of our bishops in CBCP… there is a misunderstanding on the part of the reporter.”

Oh yeah, when in doubt blame the media. Nobody misinterpreted anything. We all saw and heard what he said. He was stupid and he said something even more stupid, end of story.

Write or (maybe) die

Posted in Gulo ng buhay with tags , , , , , , on Nobyembre 28, 2012 by Blue Dela Kanluran

Wait, what? I’m supposed to start now? With nothing to go on? Not even a clue or a hint? That’s not fair! If I don’t get anything I’m just going to be spouting bull and non-sense. I thought this thing was supposed to help me? and what the hell is up with the timer? If I wasn’t paying attention a full five minutes would have passed by and I wouldn’t even notice. how does this damn thing work anyway? Am I supposed to just keep typing? and then what? I don’t even think I’ll get punished, whatever that means. How can I be punished through my computer anyway? Now my eye is starting to itch, my fingers are staring to cramp from the frantic typing and I still don’t know the punishment thing. Is this like Deathnote? Where I’ll die if I don’t hit whatever number of words I’m supposed to hit in…11 minutes and 22 seconds? That’s hardly fair. For one thing I know the name of the app is write or die but I didn’t think the punishment would actually result in my death. And for another there was nothing in the rules that said I was going to somehow die if I don’t complete this challenge. I still don’t get how this is supposed to help me write though, I’m just panicking away at a keyboard hoping I don’t die from clicking on this stupid thing. Nine minutes to go. Now what do I do? I’ve run out of things to think about. I don’t care if I’m going to die or not I AM NOT going to talk about the weather, or its humidity, or the ominous gathering of clouds signalling what might be a gentle drizzle over my area in a few hours that will no doubt be a nuisance to commuters everywhere for about twenty to thirty minutes and then disappear like nothing happened. A tricycle is driving past the house. For those who don’t know its basically a motorcycle with a roofed side car. It’s a staple in Philippine transport and one of the most annoying. But then again I would rather have readily available public transport than what they have to settle for in the US where you absolutely need a car because everywhere else outside a radius of thirty meters is too far a walk. I got a lot on here so far and I think I’m about to hit five hundred words with…five minutes to go! What the hell! How am I supposed to manage that? I think I even wasted a full five just trying to figure what to do at the start of this thing. Four minutes now. I can’t seem to think straight. My fingers are starting to noodle into pretzels and twists just to keep typing. I can see the veins on my knuckles starting to pop just a little bit. Man that’s gonna hurt when I reach seventy. Three minutes! Holy shit just five words to five hundred. And I just passed it! Whew! for a couple of seconds there I actually thought I wasn’t going to make it. So what about this punishment? Now that I know that I passed I can’t wait to see this punishment that won’t be inflicted upon me hahaha! Bring it on non-physical executioner of this app. 1.5 minutes to go and I can finally relax. This was kinda fun actually, though a little non-sensical. I mean I still have no idea what to write about except maybe about a possible rim reaper for this app, or maybe a black ops strike team. thirty seconds now. What’s going to happen? 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1…

Getting Back on the Wagon

Posted in Gulo ng buhay with tags , , , , , on Nobyembre 26, 2012 by Blue Dela Kanluran

I haven’t written anything in the last three months and I didn’t even notice. My time has been stocked with nothing but reading books and cases; activities of the frat; quality time with my girlfriend; and just trying to keep up with the daily news. I haven’t even thought of exercising and have the growing gut to prove it.

So, this is an attempt to try and get back on the writing wagon and hopefully display some of whatever talent I had squandered by neglecting to hone it for so long, and I can’t think of a better way to get back to what I love doing the most than by systematically bashing a stupid move, statement, or policy by a status quo institution like the government or the church (whichever commits one first) and the big winner is *ding* *ding* no other than the backward moaning of self-righteous prelates out to revert whatever social advances mankind has achieved back to the middle ages.

Was that too harsh? Ok, maybe not the middle ages but definitely colonial Spain. Don’t believe me. Then let’s discuss a recent little thing that has propelled modern society into a system of better governance and acceptance for the general populace of the world but an otherwise nasty thorn for established religion more specifically the Catholic Church, the separation of church and state.

The separation of church and state is a vague concept to many and very few really understand what it means, even those few have a hard time trying to explain it to those who don’t. The idea was first introduced at the birth of the United States of America during the signing of the Declaration of Independence by a faction of founding fathers most notably Thomas Jefferson. Solidified in the provision that stated no religious test be required for the holding of office.

The separation of church and state came about as a practical divergence from the way of government of the Empire of Great Britain because the founding fathers saw how a system wherein a religion integrated into government could easily corrupt. Pretty easy to understand if you consider that the Catholic government system is basically authoritarian in nature.

The writers of the Malolos Constitution realized this as well when they decided to use the same policy when we liberated ourselves from Spain (another country with considerable theocratic influence). So what does this all mean? So many questions. Does it mean the church has absolutely no say in government policy? Will public officials be forced to leave their faith at the door? etc.

No and no. The church, like all parties in a democracy has a say in the government process. Also we cannot expect people to simply discard what they consider as their values when making decisions concerning government. So where does the separation actually take place? Where is the line drawn?

Many people bemoan the constant nagging of the Catholic Church concerning the RH bill and the supposed moral issues it conflicts with. However (and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this), what they’re doing does not violate the separation of church and state. Yes they have made a very strong oppository stance to a proposed bill. They have that right. Yes they have campaigned and protested against it, also their right. They’ve even spread a lot of misconceptions about the bill and a lot of misinformation about the science around it. No matter how amoral, under-handed and dirty as it may sound it is also their right to do so and does not violate the separation. In such cases it is up to each of us to sift through all the information and (based on the science) identify which is true and which is false.

We cannot fault politicians who make decisions based on their values. We can only assume that they are only doing what they think is right.

The church has (rather unknowingly) toed the line between acceptable behavior given their complicated relationship with government and policy making, that is until now. In a rather nasty turn of events the Catholic Bishops Council of the Philippines (CBCP) actually told people who to vote for.

“If there is a candidate who does not follow Church teachings, we should reject this candidate. We must use the Catholic vote and show them what the real Catholic is. There are fake Catholics here, they are the ones ruling in our country,”

This is the most bare-faced, hair-brained piece of filth I have seen in a long time. Archbishop Ramon Arguelles’ brains must consist of complete horse shit still warm from the beasts ass crack! The only reason I can think of for him to say something so inebriated is that idiocy was bred straight into his DNA. He is basically saying that anyone who even dare challenge the church should be kicked out of office and replaced with those who would cow-tow to their every word.

And if any of you were wondering, yes this is a violation of separation of church and state. The man (and the CBCP) are spitting on the seeds of democracy. Our government was founded on the idea that its leaders would be decided by the choice of the individual, not that individuals parish priest. No one and I mean  no one  has the right to order people who to vote for, especially not the church.