Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dreams and Realities

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As I stare at the whole of myself in the wall mirror, I can't help but wonder if I am really the one who I used to dream before. I know that life is never perfect and I must accept the reality that while I aced some of my dreams carefully, there are those that largely slipped out of my hands.

As I look eye to eye with reality, I view a sea of dreams long chased, consciously dismissed, never actualized, and surely gone. I sigh at the reality that I grow weary from reaching my dreams without making steps of achieving them but falling in slumber in the process instead.

Should I just give up my dreams this easy, succumb to simplistic ways and hook with them up later?

But I realize that I still love to dream for had I got tired of slaying more dreams I must have been far from the manifestation of my potentials. I am still the one who I used to dream and I must not bid to tarry. I need to open my eyes wide to the reality and wrestle with the challenges that awaits outside.

As a saying printed on the tarnished cover of notebook: Hold fast to dreams for if dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Whatever Happened To Amelia Earhart?

Recently we were randomly humming and singing. One of the things that intrigued our curiosity was the line from the song Someday We'll Know by Mandy Moore. It was the hit song during our high school days but it really never piqued nosy minds that time until this day.

The line of sudden interest says "Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart who holds the stars up in the sky?" I am sure that the song composer used name of a legendary person as a literary device in order to convey something but leave to the listeners to make actual connection.

So, the question is: Who is Amelia Earhart by the way? I consulted the and I want to quote some parts verbatim of what I interestingly learned:

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AMELIA EARHART was an American aviator, author and women’s rights activist. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her disappearance in 1937 during an attempt to fly around the world is a mystery that continues to intrigue people worldwide.


Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. During Christmas vacation in 1917, she went to visit her sister in Toronto. One day, at an aviation exposition, a pilot flew his plane near her. Later, she said, “I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by."

In December 1920, Earhart attended an air show in Long Beach, California. She took a short plane ride, and that ten minute flight changed her life. “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly,” she said.

Just six months after she began flying lessons, she purchased her first plane, a bright yellow, second-hand biplane that she named The Canary. She soon achieved the world altitude record for women pilots.

Earhart’s last flight

Nearing her 40th birthday, Earhart said, “I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system…” She hoped that it would be a flight around the world. She wanted to be the first woman to do it.

On June 1, 1937, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, departed from Miami with great fanfare. They began the journey heading east. After twenty nine days of flight, they touched down in Lae, New Guinea. The remaining miles would be done over the Pacific.

The plan required landing on Howland Island, located between Hawaii and Australia. At only one and half miles long and half a mile wide, Howland Island was a difficult spot for landing. Special navigation precautions were taken, including establishing radio communication with US Coast Guard Ship Itasca off Howland Island.

At 10 a.m., Earhart and Noonan took off from Lae. They encountered problems with overcast skies and rain showers early on. Some witnesses reported that the radio antenna may have been damaged, and other experts suggest that their maps may have been inaccurate.

As they neared Howland Island, they were unable to make sufficient connection with the Itasca or to land on the island. Earhart’s last communication was at 8:43 a.m.: “We are running north and south.”

Though the Itasca began a rescue attempt immediately and the search continued for weeks, nothing was found. On January 5, 1939, Earhart was declared legally dead.

Theories about disappearance

For a long time, the most likely explanation was that the plane ran out of fuel and the flyers ditched or crashed and then died at sea. More recently, another theory has gained some traction. It holds that the flyers landed on uninhabited Nikumaroro Island, formerly called Gardner Island.

According to the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, Earhart and Noonan survived on the island for several weeks. They caught fish, seabirds and turtles and collected rainwater. Earhart died at a campsite on the island's southeast end. Noonan's fate is unknown.

This theory is based on on-site investigations that have revealed improvised tools, bits of clothing, plexiglass and an aluminum panel. In May 2012, investigators found a jar of freckle cream that some believe could have belonged to Earhart. Additionally, reports of lost distress calls have been reported.

Also, in 1940, a British Colonial Service officer found a partial skeleton on the island, as well as a campfire, animal bones, a sextant box and remnants of a man's shoe and a woman's shoe. The officer thought he may have discovered Earhart's remains, but a doctor believed the skeleton to be male, and American authorities were not notified. The bones were later lost. Recent computerized analysis of the skeleton's measurements suggests that the skeleton was probably that of a white, northern European female.

So, everytime we sing her name, we might as well wonder: Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart who holds the sky up in the sky? I can only conjecture that only heaven really knows and maybe we'll never know at all.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sipat and Other Glimpses

SIPAT, from which the seminar was key worded, is a Filipino word that means "a glimpse into something".

Between the days of my shameful hiatus from this blog, I was tasked to attend a seminar glimpsing into our local culture and literature in relation to our teaching craft. At first, I was a little negative about going to the event because of the weekend hassle it would entail. But in the end, I realized that the experiences I gained from the said seminar exceeded my expectations. 

It went like a group of old friends getting so engrossed in an interesting conversation, not minding the time. It was the first time in ages that I attended a seminar that didn't feel like a seminar at all because the speakers were really entertaining and their presentations were just awesome. I felt fortunate to be a part of the group that is genuinely passionate about the development of our own literature.

The first topic was about the situation of children's literature in our country. One thing I've learned is the "pandesal" mentality when it comes to the production of literary pieces. If we are going to evaluate the story books for children in the shelves, we would notice the gross imitation of plots and styles currently trending in the literary market. Hence, we have the same old stories told and our literature is becoming so commercialized.

On the other side of things, it is still a surprise though to rediscover a few brilliant pieces of literary works that we just don't take pride or simply take for granted. Of these were the local films that has proved their worth in the international scene. We were treated to some previews but the funny thing though is I've never seen any of them in full. Talk about guilt and my movie civilian life.

Another topic was about the folk stories of the City of Koronadal. As reiterated by the speaker in the lecture, one would wonder how we can find a bulk of Greek literature, American literature, Egyptian literature, Indian literature, Japanese literature, but never the literature of our own country. We have the same old stories told and the foreign ones are headway compared to our own.

We realized that nobody dares and initiates to write about the rich heritage of our own city. The songs, poems, legends and myths of our countrysides remain as murky as the water of the river. The fairies, witches, vampires and spirits of our imaginations are still undocumented testaments of our unique culture. The large difference is the fact that nobody puts them into writing and permanently etch them in our material culture.

After each lecture, we had workshops on writing the folk stories of our respective stations and applying it as a spring board of our lesson planning. The hours of brainstorming was worth the squeeze because we were able to produce a legendary tale that we can call original and authentic. I believe that nobody could write the first hand story of our community better than we the people of our community.

Writing the story of our station. Photo credit: Honey Lyn Pama.

We are a country of gregarious people who love to listen and tell stories, but these stories have remained traditionally in our mouths. The challenge now is how to preserve these stories in written form to be passed on the next generation. This kind of passion should be instilled in our hearts.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Stinky Fish And Others That Stink

I organize my thoughts in English. I love to read literary pieces in English. I prefer to write this blog in English.

As a puzzled person for having been raised in a diverse linguistic community, I have always believed that English is the superior language. This must be the most reason why, no matter how patriotic I am supposed to be as a Filipino citizen, I choose not to use the Filipino language in many instances.

For the most part, Filipino is not considered as the language of prestige in this country. It is not always the language spoken in the court rooms, medical fields, print labels. It is not also the language written in most of our legal documents. Our constitution, which is the very soul of our government system, is the big proof of this. 

Filipino is not considered as the language of the learned. Many of the affluent families in our social strata prefer to speak to their children in the considered international language. As such, we are raising a generation who are speaking of the foreign tongue and in the process marginalizing our own language in the street and market.

Filipino is also not the language of national consensus. While the declaration is in the law, there are still bitter traces of antagonism among our elder and purist brothers in the region. As such, not so many regional morphological items were successfully integrated in our national language to promote national unity and corporate ownership of it.

I remember back during my junior year in college, I studied on language attitudes for my thesis. Results showed that English is considered as superior language compared to our national language. As I also qualitatively observed through the years, English is also the language more preferred in many formal situations.

But, any language, including our very own Filipino language, is a language equal to any language in the world like English. It has its own phonology, morphology, grammar and syntax to suffice our various purposes to communicate. Would have it fallen short for our needs for us to largely fail in the daily affairs of our living, it should have been extinct and buried forever to oblivion.

Filipino language by "default" is still the spoken language in the most part of our life. Those who have marginalized Filipino by speaking the foreign tongues, by no means, still think and speak the soul of Filipino language whether they like it or not. As such, we have developed and even invented local meanings to foreign vocabularies like "salvage", "back to back", "blow out", "comfort room", "peg" and many others.

I appreciate the developing class of new parents in our social strata that communicates in Filipino to their children, making it their mother tongue. For example, the tenants of my flat who are both Cebuano but consider Filipino as the formal language. When I converse with our learned Muslim brothers, the lingua franca that connects our minds together is nothing less than the Filipino language.

So, unless we do not swallow our pride whole and lift our national language to the pedestal of intellectualism like what other nations did to their respective national languages, we will never stop degrading our own linguistic heritage as we have actually crushed our national identity consciously or unconsciously. 

I don't know how much spartan determination or unselfish time it would take for a change in our attitudes toward our own language, but these I hope to have in myself, too.

Filipinos, this is the time to realize how worse we smell than a stinky fish.

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