Emerging Adulthood in the Philippines

Emerging adulthood is that stage in human development that occurs in “the ages between 18 years and the middle or late 20s when the adolescent is first becoming an adult.” (Stangor, 2010) It is during this stage that young people begin to form bonds outside the family, go to college, and get a job. Even so, emerging adults don’t tend to be fully independent and do not yet take on all the responsibilities of an adult – like getting married and having one’s own family. It’s not been so long ago that this stage has been defined. That is due in part to that fact that the lives after high school of the young generation of today is very much different compared to those of yesterday.

At least, it is so in Western cultures. Categorically, I’d be one of these so-called “emerging adults” and I’ve always thought that the best way to observe a group is to be part of it. And, as far as I can tell, in my country, things are very much different. Not so much as that emerging adults are not recognizable in our society but more like, there can be two types of emerging adults: (1) those who are in school and would have a successful career after and (2) those who have an early job and an early married life – much like the younger generation of yesterday; although, this one seems to be more of a really adult behavior.

This division mostly comes from stereotypes. In my country, and, probably, everywhere else, there will always be that major division of people between the affluent and the poor. The community that I live in is, generally, poor and, in such a place, one is either smart or not. But the rich and the smart would usually be put together by society and be expected to form the first group – those who will sooner than later have successful careers. This is because those who are deemed smart are expected by people to stay in school – mostly, by taking on scholarships. Those who are rich are expected to be in school simply because they have enough resources and funds. However, they are not expected to be looking for a job, the general population would expect jobs to be looking for them! So people have rather high hopes and expectations of them. These are the people who never get to have the burden of listening to parents’s speeches that sound like, “When I was your age…”

On the other hand, we have the second group: the ones who are expected to get a job and get a family early in life. These are the people who bear the burden of conforming to standards of the youth of yesterday. They are expected to be more “responsible and mature” by definition of parents who expect these children to follow their way, much like how an American father would tell his son, “When I finished high school, I moved out of my parents’s house, got a job, and became independent” and expect the son to be like so. This is because they are deemed to be less than smart so people tend to expect very much less of them. More often than not, these people didn’t even take a step or two in high school, let alone graduate. So, jobs don’t come easy to them and they would usually end up with the ones which are hardest but, at the same time, least rewarding. They are expected to simply get through everyday and not much more.

Neither picture looks perfect, they’re both much less than excellent. For the first group, the high hopes and expectations can certainly lead to some amount of pressure. For the second group, life can be rather mundane. As are most things, each has its own pros and cons. And, wherever it is, stereotypes exist and, sometimes, they have the power to drive the life of a society.

Source: Stangor, C. (2010). Introduction to Psychology. New York: Flat World Knowledge.

Corruption, Poverty, and Education

In a third world country such as ours, even a blind man can see the face of poverty. However, it is a given that the Philippines is much better off than some other countries and that it is not in the lowest of groups in the GDP rankings and the like. But those facts only make matters worse as it can only mean that much more countries are living in much worse states.

There is a saying that goes, “Poverty is not a hindrance to success – which should be true. However, there are just too many people in the world who choose to succumb to their bleak circumstances and not do anything about it! It’s wrong but it happens a lot. Mostly, it’s because people have chosen to accept what has become “norms” in some societies: corruption. See, the roots of poverty can be traced back to this practice of the powerful and influential. Hence, the rich become richer and the poor becomes poorer.

Corruption exists even in the lowest tiers of governmental power. It is apparent in lots of things that are visible in the more physical aspects of a community – bridges hardly passable because of use of substandard materials, roads hardly suitable for driving in because of cuts in the budget, schools with hardly enough rooms to accommodate so many students due to poor budget allocation, and so much more I could probably fill pages if I went on. And because corruption has its foundations in the smallest of powers, it’s very hard to eradicate it, and even, decrease its effects on society as a whole. But, if one is to make a sincere effort to reduce poverty, like most things which must be done, one must start at the roots; in this case, corruption.

In a society with an established government, most social services, including health and education, are controlled by the government. Which gives for another reason why some people are powerless against corruption, some people want to do something but just can’t, They fear that if they try to do anything about it, like protest or try to bring down a long-standing dynasty, whatever little help they are getting from a polluted government will altogether be removed. But that is simply wrong. A government should not be a slave-driver of people but should, on the contrary, serve the people – it’s supposed to be what it was made for. But it never happens that way for a lot of people have lived in dependence and fear. And, a lot of times, these people are what make-up the largest portion of the population – those who are in the bottom of society and are most vulnerable.

However, these people need not remain helpless. Education is a very powerful tool which has already been proven to change lives for the better. But attainment of any level of education, let alone, a higher level of education is rather elusive to most, if not all, of these people. Like I mentioned earlier, “schools with hardly enough rooms to accommodate so many students due to poor budget allocation”. Therefore, the democratization of education is highly important, like what our founder, Mr. Shai Reshef, has done for us all with the University of the People. As he so put it, “Education should be a right not a privilege.”

I couldn’t have said it better even if I tried. Education should be something that is available for all and not just for a privileged few. And this should also reach the first steps in formal education – from kindergarten, that is. See, in my country, education is like some form of survival of the fittest. The number of students in a level tend to be less than the one in a lower level. The trend is a decline. Some people choose simply not to study and get a job instead, whatever it is so long as there is something even if it is the most difficult and least rewarding ones, while some have no choice due to lack of funds. It’s a sad picture, and it must be changed. And it can change if people are willing to put some energy to that effort.

Some other things must be noted, too: food and health. Why? Well, one most definitely can’t learn on an empty stomach. And, neither can one learn on a sickbed. So, besides access to education, access to food is also important. The efforts of the World Food Programme have shown positive results in the communities that they are attending to. See, there is enough food in the world to feed all of us, the only problem is access. Health services might be a lot more difficult to deal with but it can be done with proper motivation. In some of the most distant of villages in the Philippines, there are already doctors who attend to them. If only proper channels are given to those who need them, then everything will be much easier for all these people.

Now, the bottomline of all of poverty can be linked to one thing: access. And corruption is the biggest, if not the only, thing that blocks this access. Therefore, if a society must try to reduce poverty, it must first try to remove corruption. After that, things can flow freely: people have access to food, people are healthy, people are educated, corruption goes out. It might seem like a roundabout in the first turn, but once corruption is out, it will inevitably be replaced by the improvement of people’s lives.

Penitence

In a matter of a few days, the Holy Week will begin. In these days of solemnity, the world will once more see sights such as not seen in other times of the year. But one of the most curious of these is the way in which some people seek the forgiveness of sins: self-punishment – men flogging themselves, some beating themselves with nun-chucks, some walking around with the cross, some crawling on their bare chest on the streets, and even some volunteering to act as Christ or one of the two other beside Him to be crucified; among others.

Although the practice is not one which is officially endorsed by the Catholic Church, many people keep at it. Some, if not all who do it, believe that it is the only way with which their sins can be forgiven. However, there are risks involved in this method of penitence – physical and spiritual alike.

Physically, it is a fact that these people are giving their lives to chance. Although there’s not been such profound records of fatalities during these events, the risks are evident – from the nails used in the crucifixion to the wounds themselves. The Department of Health itself has issued a warning against these acts. Nevertheless, it is evident, from the preparations being televised, that people choose to be stubborn and not heed the warnings of some people who know better.

However, the greater risk lies in their spiritual being. Why? If these people are doing these things sincerely and to repent their sins and not just for show, we can fairly well say that it is an effort to seek for forgiveness. And, we can fairly well say that they believe in God. Which means that they are missing one very important element: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, King James Version)

Another very sad aspect of this tradition is that it has somewhat started being commercial. The news has stated that this event is one of those that which attracts foreigners to visit the Philippines – most especially, the reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It’s a good thing, though, the the Department of Tourism has explicitly stated that they have not done anything to promote this event for tourism in the Philippines.

We all know that reenactments of various events in the Bible are some of the most well-kept traditions of Catholicism in the Philippines. And a reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ is one of the most visited. However, these things need not pose danger and we should always consider the implications and results of all the things we do. In the aspect of commercialism, one can only hope that it will be kept like so, even decline, and not reach a point when things like these, which are supposedly Holy Traditions, will not end up being nothing more than an amusement for people.

1.3 meters of Panic

March 11, 2011. Japan was rocked by an earthquake that hit 8.9 on the Richter scale. Fires followed. Later, tsunami that reached up to 33 feet hit land.

An earthquake of that magnitude will certainly reach other lands and affect them in one way or another. So, some provinces in the Philippines were given an “Alert Level 2” by the PHIVOLCS. This list includes the place where I live. It’s not a time to start evacuating or to be doing forced evacuations, according to SOP, but some people from select places were told to evacuate.

See, according to a representative from PAGASA who spoke on the radio, the alert levels can be interpreted as “Ready. Set. Go!”. This relates to evacuation. On one, everyone should be ready for anything. On two, everyone should already be set and prepared to run, if the need be. On three, people should already be fleeing.

This is the information they kept on repeating during the radio program. At the same time, reminding people not to panic. However, there is this little curious information that I only heard once. It is about the estimated height: 1.3 meters.

Exactly how high is 1.3 meters? How much damage can a wave of 1.3 meters do? Why are we being given that much of an alert level?

This is not just some rant or an attempt to vent out the worry I’ve felt because of these alert issues. It is a call to the authorities to give accurate, proper, and complete information so as not to ensue panic.

What happened today was very similar, if not exactly the same, as what happened during the Haiti quake. An alert was raised, local government officials moved about to give out information, the police sirens were wailing about, and people were trying to get to higher ground.

It was midday when I got
Is this really something that people should be made to panic about? No matter how much you say, “Don’t panic”, there will always be people who worry too much. A worry which will soon spread like the domino effect.

If this will always be what we get at times like these, people might get tired. Soon enough, they might just stop listening altogether just like the ones the boy who cried, “Wolf!”, were calling to.

The Fall of Traditions

Traditions are a significant part of what makes a culture. It is like one of the colorful threads that weave together to form the pattern that is a nation’s culture. And this culture is also a very significant component of a people’s identity. Sadly, some of these traditions are gradually declining in practice. And some of them are already but a part of history.

Religion is, more often than not, a strong identifier of a nation. In our small town, it used to be that the people cared more about religion and its traditions. I remember those nights, when I was small, when we would pray and sing hymns and praises in honor of a saint. After that, we’ll have a procession from one house to the next with the image with us. We’ll be doing that every night until the days are fulfilled.

Now, I no longer see that happening. Though, I can still hear the prayer leaders singing hymns and praises and praying the usual prayers. But the difference is clearer than a transparent sheet. This time around, they do it in the middle of the afternoon. A time which is hardly any good if you wanted more people to join in.

When I was small, us kids were encourage to go with them, to pray with them, to learn about the traditions of our place with them. Now, it’s just the old people, the prayer leaders, a few people.

Worse still, they’ve reached the point when they no longer send the image from one house to another. Instead, they let it stay in one house and the prayer leaders will just go their. My mother told me it was because they are already getting old and are old enough to reason that they tire easily. It’s not exactly some sound reasoning given that, usually, the houses in our place are hardly even five meters apart. But, yes, they are already old.

That’s just one of those that are gradually nearing non-existence. There also used to be theater in our place. A tale of kings. I’m rather certain I never understood what that story was all about because they used a deeper form of the local dialect and I was too small then to understand such. It used to play around the time of the local fiesta, about the end of May.

Now, I cannot see even a shadow of it. Even if it was a small town production, I know I can give them credit for the costumes and the effort they give to make the play successful. But theater has died in our town.

I have also heard of stories, read some, and watched some on TV and movies about a courtship practice called the harana. It’s when the guy visits a girl’s house with a song to sing to her. The guy throws some rocks into the girl’s window to get her attention and open up, then, he starts singing and playing his guitar while she watched him, and he tries to win her heart with a song.

No, I can never say for myself if those things ever happened because it was already dead when I was born. Or, they never really happened that way.

Perhaps, if I look deeper into the history of the Philippines, I’ll find more of these things – traditions that were once integral to the lives of Filipinos. And if I do, it’ll be sad as it can only mean the undoing of centuries worth of traditions, history, and culture.