Valentine’s Day

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Chocolates are sweet

Can’t buy them for you

Only this day

And the day of dead

Their price as high

As the climax in bed

The Bulls out to market

and ride the myth

Cupid is bought

and sold by mr. Smith

So Cupid sings

The third of Maslow’s

Reduced to things

On papers and windows

Sex sells it seems

but so does love too

they’re wrapped in dreams,

paperbacks and condoms

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Alpha Omega

“Maybe this is all we can expect of the universe, a relentless crushing of life and spirit, because the equilibrium state of the cosmos is death” – Arthur C. Clarke

From the void I am formed;

A question to answer itself.

The who, the how, the why, the I.

Cosmos give out a sigh,

a clue, an enigma, a sign,

hieroglyphs of space and time,

mathematics of life,

the enigmas of the universe,

equations written in reverse.

From the form, I am void.

Less is More

“The biggest obstacle was mixing abortion with overpopulation. These are two things that have nothing to do with each other.” 

– Jacques Yves Cousteau

A seemingly unstoppable force is raging its way towards an ominous future, if there is still a future that is. It is a force that built tribes long ago, a force that raised armies, a force that created societies and cities, force that built civilizations, and a force that built nations and filled the earth. But, that force might collapse in its own weight sooner or later. This force is called population; the fast and vast growing number of people all around the globe. It is unceasing and problematic because with limited resources in our midst, it has been entwined with need. With this rapid growing need, sustainability is going to be a major concern and predicament, and it is simply a matter of time and a matter of space of course.

On October 31, 2011, a date that marks one of the most historical landmarks in the history of humanity, the world population hits the 7 billion demarcation point. Seven billion, it is an innumerable quantity that baffled me. Just how many is 7 billion? It is a little hard to fathom and imagine a gargantuan amount without a point of comparison. It is a figure with an inverted L in front which is followed by 9 zeroes. According to the 2011 Population Reference Bureau in US, if we are to stack up 1 billion pennies, it would fill 5 school bus-sized blocks, and 7 billion pennies would fill 35. Such blocks would occupy around 90% of the space of standard American football field which measures 360 by 160 feet. How is that for an analogy? So basically, that is how 7 billion looks like in a microcosm, if we are to put that imagination in a macrocosm, the implications are of biblical proportions in the real world, which is actually already felt, especially among third world countries. They are beginning to feel the most immediate elementary effect; overcrowding. Like I have said, it’s not just a matter of time, but also a matter of space.

Again we hit another point of no return, the last before that was in 1999, when we hit the 6 billion mark. So that is 1 billion in 12 years time. In another few years we’ll be reaching 8 billion, 9 billion and so on and so forth. By that time, what could be the problems we could be experiencing? Will our resources still be sufficient for our survival? What kind of life will we be having? But then again, we are getting ahead of ourselves. We are only still just a little beyond 7 billion, piece of cake, nothing we can’t handle. So I guess we should focus more at the present figure; the not-so-lucky number 7.

At present, the Philippine Congress and Senate are on a debate whether to enact the RH bill that would generally address the rapid population growth in the Philippines. We are currently the 12th most populated country in the whole damn world. Yey! This calls further for the necessity for the said bill. However, not everyone concurs with the RH bill, especially members of the legislation, and officials and members of the Catholic Church, who is so hardcore in trying to oppose the enactment of the said bill, to the extent that some priests even threatened that those legislators who push for the RH bill will be excommunicated. So much for separation of church and state, I thought the dark ages ended a long time ago.

The Catholic Church abhors this RH bill saying that it promotes abortion, that using artificial contraceptives such as condom and pills is abortion. I did not know that the Church has redefined the meaning of abortion. With the differing definition this will never be settled not unless the Church does their review in biology and genetics. Another point that they try to emphasize is that life should not be look at as a burden, which is also shared by those legislators who are so contained to their religious belief. They believe that rapid population growth is not the problem that is why RH bill is unnecessary. They are probably right. Perhaps we just need to widen our land so that we can accommodate more Filipinos, or we can always send our people to other countries as OFWs, there is also a high chance that they they’ll die abroad, that way it will give us more space. With these bunch of pea brains, we must raise the qualifications for our lawmakers, because if we don’t, those kinds of narrow thinkers will lead to us killing ourselves… or perhaps killing them. Hmmm. The fact that they were not even concerned with the sudden pace of the world’s population reaching 7 billion as early before the year even closed is alarming, and to add salt to the wound, the 7th billion baby was born here in the Philippines. Oh well, that’s life, no pun intended though.

To some extent, perhaps they are right, this is not a problem, well not yet. So far we can still survive and make ends meet and we still don’t need to cannibalize each other just to survive because the resources have been exhausted already. But if we don’t do something now, this will be a very big problem in the nearest future. Those who do not see this as a problem are either dumb or plain stupid. They might ask, what is wrong with 7 billion? Did we feel more crowded when we hit the 7 billion mark? I’m pretty sure I didn’t feel it, but when I asked myself and imagine the implications of that very large figure I felt alarmed. So what’s wrong with 7 billion? Well, everything. That is another 7 billion people stuck in traffic, another 7 billion contesting for public transportation, another 7 billion people struggling for food and water, another 7 billion producing another 7 billion people. When the Earth is filled, maybe we’ll just transfer to Mars or perhaps Jupiter, it’s bigger.

It is just that other people cannot open up to other perspectives. Life is not a matter of quantity but a matter of quality. Perhaps it is true that the bible stated that we should be fruitful and multiply, but that was eons ago, and now we have reached that point, not only that we have multiplied, we have proliferated, so much that we are now overcrowding. Life is not a question of how many, but what kind of life do we have. What is 7 billion if they’re all dying from hunger? You look around and you see 10 hungry and malnourished children, they work in the streets, sometimes in Payatas instead of being in school, their parents working their ass 24/7 with paltry compensation enough to support a dog. That is not life; that is not living. That is dying very slowly. Their so called life is nothing but mere statistics, just a number in the 7 billion statistics.

In the end of the day, wherever these massive numbers take us, there is no one to blame but us. Not the church, not the government, us. We allowed this to happen. So from this point forward, the next time you watch that low resolution sex scandal, better think twice or more. Ladies, before you spread wide those long tempting legs better make sure your man is wearing something for his uh-hum. And gentlemen, before you insert your manly muscles into her, make sure you do it safe. Discipline is the key, and not that protruding muscle between your groins, yes I am referring to your penis. Sorry about that. Discipline; and this is what makes this really difficult.

It is very uncertain if we can surpass this challenge. The writer Isaac Asimov answers this by emphasizing that life cannot survive overpopulation. He said “democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.”

The more we are, the less we become.

Ars Artium

“No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.” – Oscar Wilde

Beauty has always draped the universe with its sublime mystery. And art was discovered by man and used it ever since to capture that beauty and its perversions. Arts have been one of the most affective and powerful things invented by man that stirred humanity’s senses, intellect and emotion. We are surrounded by art in the most apparent and subtle way, sacred and profane, sublime and sordid, deep and shallow, perfect and immature. It is of course natural for man to look for beauty. It is probably innate for us to seek that aesthetics. According to Maslow’s theory on hierarchy of needs, we have a natural need for aesthetics, and it is the third highest needs. This would explain why people make artistic creations, that even the most primitive societies before was able to provide themselves with their own art forms and appreciate it.

There was a time in human history when art became the life of the people and it was during the renaissance period. It was a time when human lives made art and art made lives. It was a time when everything was beautiful, even the perversion of beauty itself was found to be beautiful. It was said to be a time of materialism, when people fell in love with the beauty of their own creation. However, materialism back then was in a positive context of attempting to preserve their possessions for their cultural identity and heritage, which actually they became very successful at, and a message that says that art can change the world.

Now, in the present, it is not only that the people fell in love with their creation, but also fell in love with their selves. Materialism had gone awry. People possess things, yet little do they know that slowly their things possess them to the extent that they are willing to lose their dignity and their soul just to hold on to their possessions, and no, I am not referring to Imelda Marcos, or to those priests with cars popularized by the news, and yes, I am being sarcastic. But this goes also to ordinary people who feel that their cell-phone is an appendage of their body, people who uses or tramples on other people to get that elusive promotion or get what they want. Also, even art itself has gone awry within the focus of people. One reason behind these might be observed if we compare the renaissance in Italy and today here in our country. Back then (even until now), Italy was rich, and this was not just in culture. People did not have to worry about food, shelter, and security, and they were also intellectuals. So their attention was focus on their aesthetic needs and taste. Today in our country, people are so preoccupied about how will they eat, how will they get their food, and where will they stay if the demolition squads arrive, to think about art. However, some of them are also intellectuals, but in conning other people.

I am reminded of the questions Lourd De Veyra raised in one of the episodes of his show WOTL; do people from Smokey Mountain know who Nick Joaquin is? Or who Jose Garcia Villa is? Do they even listen to the music of Jose Maceda? How many people do even read the works of those who won the Palanca awards? And how many of them will be understood by the common people?

In a country with innumerable revolting stomachs, who would really give a damn about culture and arts? This could be why materialism in the modern context has been reduced to mere owning or having, and why culture and arts have been reduced to Kris Aquino, Willie Revillame and Justin Beiber, Pinoy got talent, and Vice Ganda. The abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock, the cubism of Pablo Picasso, the realism of Fernando Amorsolo, the abstraction of Pancho Piano, and recently the installation art of Mideo Cruz have probably alienated people, which could be why people raised their eyebrows when they see their works, and ask WTF?

This leads us to the question; does art really have a purpose, especially in alleviating the quality of lives of people? Well, the answer lies on those same starving artists who really want to change society through their arts. The purpose of it is to deliver a message, emphasize the struggle of the people, to make visible the invisible, to fuel people to move, and to express the truth of the artists, or the truths that he sees and the truth people don’t see or refuse to see.

The question of up to what extent is the artists’ license on expression is another story. Recently, there has been a stir in the art community regarding the installation art of the artist Mideo Cruz entitled “Politiesmo” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). His artworks which include images used by the Catholic Church such as the face of image of Christ was attached with a wooden phallus and many other installed arts created quite a commotion to the public especially among the members of the Roman Catholic Church. As an artist I find it hard to give an opinion on the matter.

There is a very thin line that slices the territory of freedom of speech and respect for faith. All I can say is that his art is “immature” to use the word of the national artist for literature Jose Sionil, it was a formalist criticism, and nothing on the message of Cruz. As Oscar Wilde has put it, “there is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” The problem with art is it is very subjective, that is why it is really difficult to judge the message of the artist’s expressions. While Cruz was trying to emphasize materialism in the Catholic Church, and to some of its leaders and members, most the public did not see it through that perspective. The blatant value of his works was naturally seen more over its subtle message.

Art is a tool, so it can be utilized in various ways. I would like to believe that morality in art is simply a matter of perspective. It depends on who is looking, because it is not life that art truly mirrors but the spectator. It is amazing how two people can see at the same picture but see things differently. I think that is art. When there is a diversity of opinion in a particular art piece, then that means that the art work is new, intricate and potent. I just hope that people could be more open-minded about art, develop more understanding of what truly art is, and learn how to use it to start change.

Shape history shape education shape educators shape the system

Looking back to once where we came from does not only make us learn and understand, it also makes us humble and grateful.  We see that there were once these great minds that built the foundations of the world and set the road for us. Without them, we can only imagine what we could be having right now. Continuing and improving what they started, learning from their mistakes and developing something new out of their ideas are manifestations of our humility and gratitude. We must not waste their efforts by being inert and contented of what we have now because of them. Thus it is of utmost necessity that we must know our history, for without the past, we will not have our future.

Studying the earliest historical and philosophical foundations of psychology made me see that some of them are in a way a foreshadowing of the future, because they can be observed in the lives of people and in the society today or perhaps it might be the that cyclical pattern in history that shows the trend where exactly are we headed.

There are even events transpiring today that have resulted to several social problems. If we are to look at the educational milieu here in our country, multitude of problems can be seen; lack of teachers, classroom, books, chalks, and students failing in the national tests; poor educational system resulting to poor education. Eventually this will contribute negatively to the development of our nation.

Even back in the days of ancient civilization, when school was not formally introduced to society, or at least not embraced by everyone, education was already seen as being important in an individual’s life if not to the society. In the ancient Greeks and Romans, education was already part of their lives; they incorporated to their teaching the ideas of early philosophers. Just like them, we see education as an integral part of being part of society, especially in entering the work force and to augment the quality of their life. And just like them, education is also not enjoyed by everyone today. There are children that are on the streets instead of being inside a classroom, some works through manual labor by collecting junks to help sustain their family’s needs. And to some extent this is also the same reason why the Romans did not embrace well education. They were more concern of practical living. Today, perhaps most Filipinos might be like the Romans; they are practical. They do not see the value of education anymore; perhaps they think that education is meaningless if they will die of starvation. This could also be explained by the early philosophical tenets of psychology; Environmentalism, mechanism and behaviorism, which basically tells that human factors are undermine by factors in the environment of interaction to those factors. Poverty is one undermining factor of desire for knowledge. While there are those who are challenged, many are weakened by poverty.

It will be not be good to talk about education without talking about the educators. Last October 5, 2011, the World Teachers’ Day was celebrated, probably all over the globe, of course. But pondering to the matter, I thought back to myself that perhaps there is little to celebrate for teachers all over the nation who have been going head-to-head with the farmers as to who has been showered with luck for the past years or who has been unlucky, and it’s quite hard to say. Teachers experience dramatic changes in their lives because of their vocation, some grows grey without even getting laid or married so to speak, some are abandoned by their wife/husband, because of their very busy schedule, or worse, shot to death by a student who has been scolded for not having a proper haircut. I believe that the plight of the teacher is directly equated to the plight of education. The matter of education is all a matter of teachers, just like farming is all a matter of farmers and law enforcement is all a matter of cops. If we want to address the issue of education, we have to address the issue of the teachers. As an educator and as a psychologist, seeing education is also a concern of psychology, I believe this problem needs to be taken seriously and should have been answered a very long time ago.

The teacher is overworked and underpaid, needless to say that most teachers are still contractual. Budget for education is not given highest priority, which is why teachers make the best out of the very limited resources such as books and chairs to fit them to the needs of their students, and not to mention the erroneous books utilized by students. It is not easy to alleviate the level of the teachers’ status in the society if they supplement their paltry wages by selling Avon products or longanisa and tocino to their co-teachers or worse, to their students. That is why it is not surprising that many teachers are going abroad or many supposed teachers are working, but not as teachers but some as saleslady. The teachers need to eat too. To have energy so they can work more.

This phenomenon is obviously a result of too much politics in the government. During the Roman period, two philosophies, the Stoics and Epicurianism, surfaced that stressed the idea of living simple and moderately. This probably surfaced because maybe most people then were not living life simply and moderately, considering that the Romans were concerned of living a practical and good life. Perhaps in our country, many powerful people in power lack the insight to also apply Stoic and Epicurianism in their lifestyle. Materialism in a way, might have driven them to corruption.

Those who suffer are the people who try to attain to live a simple life. It is time to give the credit back to the teachers. Maybe it is also right to say that teachers have given more guidance to our poor country compared to our politicians. They are the real living heroes of the country, those teachers who mold great people who changed history just like the early philosophers who also served as educators back then. The band Pink Floyd was right, we don’t need thought control, but they were wrong to say we don’t need education.

So as harbingers of the future, we are simply the ones creating also the next future so whatever is the plight of our education, it will also affect education in the future, just like the past affected us today, we must apply what we learn from the past, for we are both made by history and the makers of history. (This is one of the integration papers I submitted for my History and Philosophy of Psychology class)

Into Pandemonium

Chaos is birth, so I give my children to you, in verses born of silence and violence

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” 

                                                                         — Friedrich Nietzsche

First there was silence, acute and asleep,

slumbering on its snoring tranquility

apathetic on its trip

It disturbed no one, dead, dull and dreary

Passing unnoticed; the importance of silence

Elegies flow like sad nocturnes

like a jazz melody from an unknown film noir

But now the graves they churn;

A paean for silence waltzing with death

Pigs march, waters rise, and skies roar seizing breath

 

But now, lo and behold! Chaos made flesh

Like blast beat from a Black Metal sound

throbbing sound of mesh,

disturbing multiverse, alive, abashed, abound

Passing pollution; the magnitude of chaos

Screech of reviled requiems wake the dead,

like immortal murmurs of chalk-board symphony of nails

waking me like a vampire sleeping unfed

An overture for turmoil breakdancing on dust

crescendos to octaves of lurid luscious lust

 

Awaken, I suddenly knew my chore

Squeeze my brain ‘til blood forms into muck

that will win my own whore;

the modern muse; belittled, benign and butt-fucked

Passing illusions; the delusion of passion

Into hearts undisturbed by earthquakes of the gods in barong

By tummy-bloated demigods

By hooded-creeps humming Gregorian song

This is the systematic chaos into order of Elysium

Let us go Bacchus…dive into pandemonium