Monday, May 01, 2006

The Cutting Edge launching coincides with Labor Day

I wanted to launch THE CUTTING EDGE ahead of time to get things started, but decided to do it today (Labor Day) since my website is all about helping Filipino workers improve their professional and educational opportunities.

The Filipino worker struggles to make ends meet on a meager Php 275 minimum wage. I wonder how we survive on such small earnings when the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) estimates that for a family of six to live decently, the family's income should be Php 690 a day. Workers' unions have been fighting for a Php 125 wage increase across the country since 1999, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears or worse, on an apathetic government.

I was a victim of the same unfair labor system in the Philippines a few months ago. Coming back to the country after a year and a half of working in Beijing, I applied to a media outfit in Ortigas. The editor-in-chief (or managing editor, I forgot really) of some of its publications was so eager to take me in because according to her, I had the potential to do very well in the industry. To make a long story short, I was about to work for the company as one of the editors for the "elite" fashion magazine they were going to launch.

Coming off as a senior English editor and columnist in Beijing and as a writer and editor (of more serious stuff than fashion) in Manila for more than 3 years, I felt that I was not being taken seriously because what I wanted was to write for their news and current affairs. But I took it as a challenge even though I've never tried my hand in writing for fashion because I wanted to prove that I was a versatile writer.

Since the fashion mag didn't have any system yet - no theme, no sections...nothing, I was asked to produce everything necessary to make one whole magazine from scratch. Needless to say, I impressed them when I reported with a very comprehensive fashion mag dummy because, they said, it was definitely appropriate for the upper class crowd.

Then it was time to talk about my compensation package. I had informed them that my last salary in Beijing was Php 50,000 net, but that I wasn't expecting to receive as much in the Philippines; I only wanted a just salary commensurate to my qualifications and parallel to the standard of living in the country. They said they understood and would offer me something. After further talks and days of going back and forth to their office, I was offered a gross pay of Php 10,000 a month or no more than Php 416.50 a day.

The most infuriating thing was, I had to take up office in Makati City (I live in Marikina City) and spend 8 hours a day working my butt off. Obviously, I was expected to go on field work to write articles for the mag. I have two kids and bills to take care of - I wonder how 416.50 pesos a day would suffice. I wonder how the company can be so insensitive to the needs of employees to think that it is owned by giant real estate corporation.

I feel for those who get less from inconsiderate employers. President Arroyo claims that there are enough jobs for Filipinos in the country, but the people are choosy. From where I stand, I don't think it's a matter of Filipinos being choosy. When a worker is paid less than what is needed for a decent living, the only choice is to get out and endure hard work in other countries where the pay is deemed better.

It's so sad that the president is grateful to call centers in the country because they offer a starting pay of almost Php 23,000 a month which is about US$ 446; an amount unacceptable to an ordinary American worker.

It is not something Filipinos should be happy about, but I guess, something we can't escape for now.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Fulfillment

I know it's still a long way to go.

After six years of of gathering enough energy and inspiration, I am finally launching my non-profit public service website tomorrow, May 1st, 2006. The website has been sitting gathering dust because the inspiration came and went. I hope that this time, I don't find any excuse to abandon the project again.

You see, I've been loathing the way things have turned out in the Philippines especially in the intellectual realm of our existence. True, we easily took to heart the technology better known as the Internet, but I've seen very little improvement in the Filipinos' communication and analytical skills.

Back in college, I had classmates who can't make a decent reaction paper on a current issue but claim to be reading stuff on the Net. Now, as far as the "stuff" is concerned, I don't think they were reading the "stuff" that matter most.

Going back to my project - the website - I'm using the same name THE CUTTING EDGE. As to why I chose the title, visit the site at http://www.jacqdmgimeno.bravehost.com to understand and share your ideas about anything. The website features News Express, Mindset, Literary, Announcements, and English Weekly. I welcome literary contributions to be posted every month.

You can also find announcements about scholarships and other opportunities that would help you in your intellectual endeavors.

Am I aiming too high by doing something to improve the quality of education in the Philippines?

Definitely. I mean, it's almost impossible. But then again, I said "almost" and this is the kind of stuff that keeps me going thus, THE CUTTING EDGE. I've always pushed myself to the breaking point..."the breaking point" not "my breaking point".

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pinoys and the "Tao lang, po" bullshit

"We all make mistakes." I agree.

So when you make a mistake and someone points it out to you, what do you do?

a.) You accept the mistake, apologize, and rectify it.
b.) You accept the mistake, take note of it, but keep it to yourself.
c.) You ignore the mistake because you're too embarrassed and pray everyone forgets about it.
d.) You accuse the person who corrected your mistake of being arrogant, a snob, and tell them to get lost.

Chances are, if you're a regular poster on forums such as the Pinoy Central or the pakemo.com, you would likely choose option "d". Tsk, tsk...and most Filipinos claim they are mature enough to accept their mistakes.

I've often heard of the annoying excuse that Filipinos give, "Sorry, tao lang po"; I mean... BULLSHIT! The problem with Filipinos is that they are too sensitive for their own sake. When a person corrects a mistake, does it mean the one at fault is stupid?

I chanced upon a post on pakemo.com forums and I found this terribly disturbing post by a student (or a former student). She was trying her best to introduce a profound topic and I laud her for that, but to present it like she did is very disappointing.

The title of her topic: Is Marijuana Should Be Legalized? Uh...okay...where do I even begin?

Here's a bit of what she said:

"The best way also to get less addiction of marijuana if only the people have a prescription of doctors can buy marijuana.And what i think why the marijuana should not be legalized is because by letting people using a soft drug (marijuana), the motivation using hard drugs could happen. Because human never feel satisfied. We always want more and more and more, ever they got everything. And that's a natural behavior of human. War is the correct word to drugs. Today drugs became a global problem and happen around the world. So need a lot of money to solve them. Many countries give more funds to fight drug problems. They probably will do anything, uncluding spending a lot of money, in order to save their young generations in the future.And that's what i think of the things to be considered when thinking of legalizing marijuana.No policies are perfect. The government should make changes due to different situations. I hope the US government can manage the best method to solve the problem as soon as possible and make the situation to improve."

So, upon reading this, I replied:

Title: Re: Is Marijuana Should Be Legalized?
Post by: safe_citizen on April 24, 2006, 03:57 PM
Quote from: baby_mj on February 24, 2006, 04:05 AM


First of all, I would suggest that you ask someone to help you with your grammar. You have a sound point and sometimes good reasoning, but your poor grammar gets in the way of effectively expressing the whole issue. Most importantly, the question itself is very wrong. It should be... SHOULD MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED? or IS IT RIGHT TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA?For those who have posted, you should have corrected her grammar if you really wanted to help this kid. Kudos!!!

I was half-expecting stupid (forgive me for the term) replies to my post and here they are:

Title: Re: Is Marijuana Should Be Legalized?
Post by: bokayo in you on April 25, 2006, 09:11 AM

only human... we make mistakes...

Title: Re: Is Marijuana Should Be Legalized?
Post by: Lazarus on April 25, 2006, 11:04 AM

What is your real objective? To help her or to insult her? You probably a learned person, but not an educated one. We all make our own mistakes, and I bet, you have yours too. So cut the crap, this forum is not how you know to spell or gramatically correctness of your sentences, rather than it is a discussion site and to meet new and old friends from all over this globe.

The thread has 57 replies, none but mine pointed out the grammatical mistake. Read the whole text of the post and you will agree with me that calling it a "mistake", when it is actually bombarded with grammatical errors, is quite polite on my part. By the way, it has been read 285 times...so...






I have several criticisms and misgivings about the Filipino culture. I often wonder why Filipinos seem to adapt the wrong kind of mindset or if they choose the right one, they tend to overdo it. I've been questioned time and again about my loyalty to "my people" because many have noticed how strongly I react to things that I think are appalling.

Take for instance a Filipino female dancer in Japan. Bleached hair, heavily made-up face, ridiculously long and painted fingernails, dark brown complexion against her neon green spaghetti-strapped midriff blouse...okay I could go on and on, but I have to stop here...I'm sure you get the picture.

Then there's this annoying pa-sosyal (social climber) colegiala who, for all her obviously expensive clothing and stuff, couldn't utter a sentence in straight English:

"I did asked him nga kung papasa ba'ko or not...kasi you know, mahirap na mag-repeater sa course ko." Appalling? Definitely.

If you think Taglish is infuriating in verbal communication, try the Pinoy text (SMS) lingo:

"hi. hir me meron n u new cel. kmust? ad u nman me s phonbk u ha. c (name of friend) 2. dont 4get." Ghastly? Yes.

Despite all these ramblings people hear from me, they wonder why I still have hopes of one day helping improve the Pinoy identity. I haven't come up with a concrete answer to this... only heaven knows why, but I guess a conversation between two of my main characters in my screenplay(of the same title as this blog's) could somehow explain why:

WILLIE

So how do you feel about
being a Filipino?


JACK
I'm not sure...I...Proud?
I don't know. But honestly, I
came here to escape the things
I don't like in my country.


WILLIE
So you hate being a Filipino...


JACK
No, I don't hate it.
For the love of God,I just can't hate it.