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.

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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.

The Psychology of Suicide

The death of Angelo Reyes has been a shock and a tragedy to a lot of people for different reasons. To some, he has been a great person whose name was tarnished by the allegations of corruption against him. To others, he was such a loss simply because of the information that he could have possibly held which could have possibly been very helpful to uncovering the real story behind the funds spending of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. While to a few, they’ve lost a significant part of their lives: the man of the house.

While it is evident that it was a suicide, there are still various ways that it could have been a murder. But as it stands, it can definitely be such a wonder that a former army general and, also, a former Secretary of Defense would succumb to the call that is suicide.

According to Wikipedia,

[suicide] is often committed out of despair, or attributed to some underlying mental disorder which includes depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism and drug abuse. Financial difficulties, troubles with interpersonal relationships and other undesirable situations [also] play a significant role.

Before this event, the news programs were always buzzing with the events in the senate and the investigating committees who are looking at the funds spending of the AFP with Heidi Mendoza, a former auditor of the COA, being the major player, or, as they call it, the “whistleblower”. This “revelation” opened pathways and checkpoints for the investigators to look at. Inevitably, this included the former general Angelo Reyes.

As is evident, it can be concluded that what he did was triggered by “despair… which includes depression”. The recent allegations of corruption and misuse of government funds could have definitely pushed him to committing suicide.

However, the depression could’ve also been an aftermath of more potent factors. One, it could’ve been that he was not guilty of any of those allegations and hearing them being said of him was just too much. His nerves betrayed him that day by his parents’ grave when he shoot himself to death. Or, two, he was, unfortunately, guilty of having misused the people’s funds, seen the evidence against him, and concluded that there was no way out. To avoid persecution and disgrace, he thought that he was better off dead.

Tragic as it may be, it is not always that suicide simply means an intent to kill oneself. Sometimes, these people who commit suicide intend to send a message of a cry for help, an expression of hopelessness, or a wish to escape. And in the end, like in most, if not all, cases of suicide, the truth is buried with the dead.

The Disappearing Family

familyThe concept of family all over the world is breaking down. Some have even accepted that the notion of family is merely something from the old days and modernism simply does not include a tight family in it. A picture of a happy family can easily be dismissed as fiction given that the concept of family has been greatly diminished since the picture of real family today usually consists of one missing parent with the remaining members not exactly in good terms with each other.

Divorce has become such a common part of a normal American life that some people from other parts of the world, including the Philippines, want it incorporated into law. Currently, there is only annulment in the Philippines but that doesn’t help families from breaking up. Couples simply go separate ways without even going through the process of an annulment; mostly because it is a rather long and expensive process.

For a developing country, and even industrialized nations, for that matter, the breakdown of marriage and family – the basic building blocks of community and society – can never be a good news.

Most teens of today would argue that the changing values of people are simply a part of the future – like the evolution of entertainment and technology. It can be said that it is simply synonymous to the change in kids of yesterday bringing around giant boomboxes with a tape containing a few songs to kids of today bringing around tiny tiny media players containing hundreds of songs, among others.

So, why did family begin to disappear?

See, from films and literature, it is clear that courtship, the supposed beginning of a relationship that leads to marriage and family, has changed a lot. People, apparently, used to respect the process and sanctity of marriage. That is, evidently, not the case today. There is now what is called, “friends with benefits” – something that my professor last semester in Society and Culture repeatedly mentioned in class around the last days of the semester when we were discussing “modern society” and family planning.

And, as marriage goes, so does family. And as family goes, the same thing happens to community, society, and civilization.

One might argue that family is just one of the things that make up a society and its demise cannot mean the destruction of human civilization. Indeed, there are other factors that make a society work. But as it so-called a “building block” of society, it is an indispensable part of it.

Take for example the progression and evolution of human society itself. It used to be, according to written history, that humans were nomads usually traveling groups in search of sustenance. Then, humans began to settle, setup camps, and began to abandon to traveling for food in favor of growing crops and domesticating animals. Soon, these groups became villages. But at the core of these ancient villages are families working together to make the village survive. And in these families were members who were working with each other each with a responsibility to keep to the family and society. These villages worked and evolved. Otherwise, if the families of yesterday broke down, we wouldn’t be here.

Life was much simpler back in the ancient days. Societies worked well enough to build what we have now. Family was present. Today, we look at a world full of complexities. We are faced with innovations and technology that “make life easier” or “make life easier”. Ironically, these “innovations” themselves are what destroy the core of society and make things worse. People have much more things to deal with today than what people of the old days can even imagine.

If we have all these things at hand, how can we even say that we can make society work without its core? Without family? The way things are today, we can only conclude that, ultimately, we are headed for destruction – by ourselves.