V for Vruha

The piteous tale of Girl who killed self lamented family’s poverty in diary brings to mind the famous passage from Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure:

First comes this ominous passage:

The failure to find another lodging, and the lack of room in this house for his father, had made a deep impression on the boy– a brooding undemonstrative horror seemed to have seized him. The silence was broken by his saying: “Mother, WHAT shall we do to-morrow!”

“I don’t know!” said Sue despondently. “I am afraid this will trouble your father.”

“I wish Father was quite well, and there had been room for him! Then it wouldn’t matter so much! Poor Father!”

“It wouldn’t!”

“Can I do anything?”

“No! All is trouble, adversity, and suffering!”

“Father went away to give us children room, didn’t he?”

“Partly.”

“It would be better to be out o’ the world than in it, wouldn’t it?”

“It would almost, dear.”

“‘Tis because of us children, too, isn’t it, that you can’t get a good lodging?”

“Well–people do object to children sometimes.”

“Then if children make so much trouble, why do people have ’em?”

“Oh–because it is a law of nature.”

“But we don’t ask to be born?”

“No indeed.”

“And what makes it worse with me is that you are not my real mother, and you needn’t have had me unless you liked. I oughtn’t to have come to ‘ee–that’s the real truth! I troubled ’em in Australia, and I trouble folk here. I wish I hadn’t been born!”

“You couldn’t help it, my dear.”

“I think that whenever children be born that are not wanted they should be killed directly, before their souls come to ’em, and not allowed to grow big and walk about!”

Sue did not reply. She was doubtfully pondering how to treat this too reflective child.

She at last concluded that, so far as circumstances permitted, she would be honest and candid with one who entered into her difficulties like an aged friend.

“There is going to be another in our family soon,” she hesitatingly remarked.

“How?”

“There is going to be another baby.”

“What!” The boy jumped up wildly. “Oh God, Mother, you’ve never a-sent for another; and such trouble with what you’ve got!”

“Yes, I have, I am sorry to say!” murmured Sue, her eyes glistening with suspended tears.

The boy burst out weeping. “Oh you don’t care, you don’t care!” he cried in bitter reproach. “How EVER could you, Mother, be so wicked and cruel as this, when you needn’t have done it till we was better off, and Father well! To bring us all into MORE trouble! No room for us, and Father a-forced to go away, and we turned out to-morrow; and yet you be going to have another of us soon! … ‘Tis done o’ purpose!–’tis–’tis!” He walked up and down sobbing.

“Y-you must forgive me, little Jude!” she pleaded, her bosom heaving now as much as the boy’s. “I can’t explain–I will when you are older. It does seem– as if I had done it on purpose, now we are in these difficulties! I can’t explain, dear! But it–is not quite on purpose–I can’t help it!”

“Yes it is–it must be! For nobody would interfere with us, like that, unless you agreed! I won’t forgive you, ever, ever! I’ll never believe you care for me, or Father, or any of us any more!”

He got up, and went away into the closet adjoining her room, in which a bed had been spread on the floor. There she heard him say: “If we children was gone there’d be no trouble at all!”

“Don’t think that, dear,” she cried, rather peremptorily. “But go to sleep!”

Followed by the passage that has gained so much fame:

She joined Jude in a hasty meal, and in a quarter of an hour they started together, resolving to clear out from Sue’s too respectable lodging immediately. On reaching the place and going upstairs she found that all was quiet in the children’s room, and called to the landlady in timorous tones to please bring up the tea-kettle and something for their breakfast. This was perfunctorily done, and producing a couple of eggs which she had brought with her she put them into the boiling kettle, and summoned Jude to watch them for the youngsters, while she went to call them, it being now about half-past eight o’clock.

Jude stood bending over the kettle, with his watch in his hand, timing the eggs, so that his back was turned to the little inner chamber where the children lay. A shriek from Sue suddenly caused him to start round. He saw that the door of the room, or rather closet– which had seemed to go heavily upon its hinges as she pushed it back– was open, and that Sue had sunk to the floor just within it. Hastening forward to pick her up he turned his eyes to the little bed spread on the boards; no children were there. He looked in bewilderment round the room. At the back of the door were fixed two hooks for hanging garments, and from these the forms of the two youngest children were suspended, by a piece of box-cord round each of their necks, while from a nail a few yards off the body of little Jude was hanging in a similar manner. An overturned chair was near the elder boy, and his glazed eyes were slanted into the room; but those of the girl and the baby boy were closed.

Half-paralyzed by the strange and consummate horror of the scene he let Sue lie, cut the cords with his pocket-knife and threw the three children on the bed; but the feel of their bodies in the momentary handling seemed to say that they were dead. He caught up Sue, who was in fainting fits, and put her on the bed in the other room, after which he breathlessly summoned the landlady and ran out for a doctor.

When he got back Sue had come to herself, and the two helpless women, bending over the children in wild efforts to restore them, and the triplet of little corpses, formed a sight which overthrew his self-command. The nearest surgeon came in, but, as Jude had inferred, his presence was superfluous. The children were past saving, for though their bodies were still barely cold it was conjectured that they had been hanging more than an hour. The probability held by the parents later on, when they were able to reason on the case, was that the elder boy, on waking, looked into the outer room for Sue, and, finding her absent, was thrown into a fit of aggravated despondency that the events and information of the evening before had induced in his morbid temperament. Moreover a piece of paper was found upon the floor, on which was written, in the boy’s hand, with the bit of lead pencil that he carried:

DONE BECAUSE WE ARE TOO MENNY.

The story of Mariannet Amper’s suicide has provoked commentaries from church leaders, and has been instantly linked, editors tell me, by the reading public with these: Palace admits cash doles from Kampi and Senate probes cash gifts: Inquiry to focus on source of money.

On that somber note, here’s an intriguing story: Allies of Arroyo clash over impeach rules

Eighty-two lawmakers, most of them belonging to Ms Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) party, blocked the move to amend the rules and sent the proposal back to the committee on rules.

They overwhelmed 50 of their colleagues who favored amendments that could allow the consolidation of multiple impeachment complaints, strengthening present moves to oust Ms Arroyo.

At present, House rules allow only one impeachment complaint per year.

Half of those who favored amending the rules were opposition congressmen. But the other half were stalwarts of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, led by De Venecia.

Mon Casiple has an interesting angle on the FVR-JDV-GMA Axis unveiled (or repolished) last Saturday. Basically, it’s a Lakas-CMD gambit to keep the party in power longer. The President, through her husband, had hoped to topple Lakas in the last elections, but Kampi didn’t make the grade, and the infighting in the ruling coalition led to some bad fallout in the Senate election results.

But the President knows that Kampi, as her personal pet party, has a limited shelf life, unlike say the NPC, which is Danding Cojuangco’s pet party (or the NP, Villar’s pet party, or, technically speaking but less so, the LP as the Roxas pet party). If the President steps down in 2010, Kampi will be what the KBL is today, a shadow of its former powerful self. Lakas, on the other hand, has no real presidential candidate in play, and so might find its fortunes rapidly wiped out, too, come 2010.

So, Mon Casiple says, the three leaders of Lakas realize that in unity, there is strength (pun intended): and that requires Lakas as the main benificiary of… Ta-dah! Charter Change:

The bigger question that seems to be up in the air is: what will happen to GMA in the intervening months until 2010, and thereafter? If current straws in the wind are to be believed, the settlement with Erap did not produce any rapprochement with the opposition–nor with Erap himself. There is also no indication that any deal with frontline presidentiables had occurred.

What is suspect at the moment is that the president is laying the ground for another go at charter change–eventually leading to a possible extension of her stay in power beyond 2010. In this, the three of them are agreed as this will make it possible the political survival of Lakas (and their own political fortunes). We are faced with the specter of revival of a Cha-cha ghost–most probably the “people’s initiative” variety. Appointments to the Comelec thus become more crucial than ever before.

At the moment, however, the more significant implication of the Malacañang photo-ops is the time bought–however short–for regime survival. The fragility of the ruling coalition has been stayed momentarily. It will not preclude further plots along the road to 2010, from both sides of the coalition as well as from both sides of the opposition.

A Filipino I know who lived in Malaysia, once told me that a Malaysian royal once told him, “when you Filipinos lost your royalty, you lost your soul.” A story like this one, Judge Dread in Malaysia, makes for interesting reading.

Incidentally, in the same conversation I had with the Filipino former resident of Malaysia, and a Filipina knowledgeable about Indonesia, she said in Indonesia, the Dutch turned the Indonesian royal rulers into civil servants with Dutch superiors; this destroyed the traditional prestige and authority of the Indonesian royals.

In the Philippines, the Spanish took over the islands one ruler at a time, guaranteeing them privileges (exemptions from tribute), and permitting them local elections in which the local (Spanish) parish priest acted as a kind of one-man Comelec. Spanish officials generally stayed in Manila and so, when the revolution broke out, it was as much about modern ideas of revolt as it was about provincial lords summoning their peasant workers to fight against Spain. Even Bonifacio spoke in terms of the ancient blood compact between the royalty in the islands and the Spanish conquistadors. The historian Glenn May, writing about the Revolution in Batangas, pointed out that in some cases it was the principalia, heirs to the leaders who had originally accepted Spanish sovereignty, who led the revolts and were followed by their tenants.

From Rizal to Laurel, there remained the enduring notion of an aristocracy of the mind; Mabini pointed to the necessity of a meritocracy; and as I’ve written in the past, American social engineering focused on something new, entirely, a middle class, but what emerged was one that aped the traditional provincial leadership and which, in turn, has reached in many ways the same dead end the traditional upper class and their warlord rivals have reached. But these are thoughts I’m still developing, but it’s good to bear in mind where we are similar and differ in terms of Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s societies, even Thailand and Brunei, and, India.

Other readings from overseas: The revolution that never was, on waning foreign attention on the plight of the Burmese. And Why is draft of ASEAN charter being kept from public?, by the PCIJ. How China’s Communist Party practices cronyism in China Rewards its Own: The PetroChina A Share Float makes us think of Russia at its oligarchic best.

And my column for today, is Postcard Power! (thank you to Rage Against Melancholy for reproducing it). The versions you can print out in full color, etc, are here. And of course, Hoorah! to bloggers bisayasijosh, to Romeo’s Site, to Manila Boy, to Sitting Amuck, to Pinoyhood, to Pandora’s Box and ScatCore. An inter-blog debate between Eddie Boy Escudero and Home Bass, too. While circle of rhymes and metaphors completely disagrees. And well, from The Philippine Onion, read it and, uh, weep.

Here’s the video of the V for Vendetta speech I quoted last Monday:

Iloilo City Boy reacts to my entry On Official Allowances.

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    • BrianB on November 8, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    It could be the parents’ fault for letting the child feel their poverty acutely. It could be teasing in school. There are a lot of kids in the same situation. My parents are elementary school teachers. I’ve seen the worst of these situations first hand. In my old religious organization, the Youth for Christ, we had kids coming to prayer meetings without breakfast in their stomachs. When one of them faints people assume it’s the holy spirit or a possession. No, it’s lack of calories. A kid this poor should be prevented from putting all of this poverty to heart. Some parents resort to spanking and insulting their own kids to keep them from being sensitive to their lot in life. I think I know this. There are kids a lot poorer than her, but she probably was too smart for this sort of poverty.

    When I first heard of the story this morning, I was blaming the trend towards materialism. Most of what we’re buying are imported goods and all that we see, hear and read concern money: thieving politicians, briberies, glamorous lives of the wealthy. When Cruz said we were all to blame, I was offended. Certainly this wasn’t the case. One-third of this country are poor. How can the bishop stomach even considering these people are to blame too. Are the OFWs to blame? Maybe Rosales feels guilty because the Church did not rise up against our corrupt government. We all feel guilty, but we are not all to blame. We all feel we could’ve done something, but only the leaders, the authorities could prevent such a tragedy. There are millions of poor kids in our country. Who knew which one feels this deep about their state? We can only assume what the constitution and the human rights assume, that all people deserve decent lives. In a country with free education, the tragedy is the fault of people responsible for providing for this free education. Let me rephrase: we pay our taxes; it’s the governments duty that these taxes go where they are supposed to go. Government is to blame for their thievery. The Church is to blame for the compromises that they have made. I cannot blame the parents, much more her teachers, even her neighbors are hard to blame. They are poor too, and perhaps their rejection of the Ampers shields them from more misery. I blame the people in power and the people who should know better: Church and government. These two have failed us all.

    • BrianB on November 8, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Sorry, that was Cruz not Rosales.

    • BrianB on November 8, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    “From Rizal to Laurel, there remained the enduring notion of an aristocracy of the mind; Mabini pointed to the necessity of a meritocracy; and as I’ve written in the past, American social engineering focused on something new, entirely, a middle class, but what emerged was one that aped the traditional provincial leadership and which, in turn, has reached in many ways the same dead end the traditional upper class and their warlord rivals have reached.”

    Manolo forget history. A democratic education can effectively rid us of these informal aristocracies. Don’t forget, Americans are still kings of us when it comes to things of the intellect, so there you go a way to get around our petty hierarchies, and I’m not talking about going to harvard.

    • manuelbuencamino on November 8, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    It’s sad how poverty has a way of taking away the child in children. Can you imagine driven to hopelessness at such a young age?

    Maybe she didn’t hear that the peso is strong, the stock market is high, and the fiscal house is now in order.

    • BrianB on November 8, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    manuel,

    this sort of humor is what some ateneans may call “uncouth.”

    • Willy on November 8, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    I have had some opportunity to touch base with some of the poorest near our district. Most of them have only one source of livelihood, and they call it “pangangalakal”. This involves collecting bits and pieces of scrap to be sold to junk/recycling shops day in and day out. It’s a hand-to-mouth existence, you stop working and you go hungry. And all the while they live in squalid shelter. But most of these people strike me as industrious and intelligent enough in their own right. My son is a YFC chapter leader, and he recruits members from this district to somehow help turn them away from drugs and delinquency. I think its just the sad plight of circumstances that got them in that way. So sad.

    My heart reaches out to the parents and siblings of Mariannet, and prayers for her soul.

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    There are kids a lot poorer than her, but she probably was too smart for this sort of poverty. – Brianb

    That thought ocurred to me as well.

    A democratic education can effectively rid us of these informal aristocracies. – Brianb

    As to building up aristocracies of the mind, i believe that program, if entrusted to the current aristocracy (e.g. products of UP, Ateneo, La Salle) would become self-serving. If what Brianb means by ‘democratic education’ is abolishing all private/exclusive schools from elementary to high school, then i’m all for it.

    • Jeg on November 8, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    BrianB: this sort of humor is what some ateneans may call “uncouth.”

    Some of us non-ateneans simply call this sort of humor “dark.”

    cvj: If what Brianb means by ‘democratic education’ is abolishing all private/exclusive schools from elementary to high school, then i’m all for it.

    Would abolishing all public/government schools work as well? Give the funds directly to the students (since our constitution mandates that the government shoulders elementary and high school education?

    • Jeg on November 8, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I meant “Would abolishing all public/government schools instead work as well?”

    • BrianB on November 8, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Will they be publishing her diary?

    Re: democratic education, I merely meant an emphasis in democratic thinking like what they do now in former eastern Bloc countries.

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Jeg, the point of abolishing private schools (at the elementary and high school level) is to eliminate the elitist-mindset that goes hand in hand with such formative education. We don’t want future Mike or Mikey Arroyos. If the parents of these rich and middle class kids (e.g. Forbes, Dasmarinas Village) are able to go to the same schools as children from Guadalupe Viejo, then two things can happen:

    1. The rich and middle class kids will early on, learn to mix with their less fortunate counterparts.
    2. The richer parents will help ensure that a certain level of quality education e.g. textbooks, will be kept.

    As it is now, the poorer parents don’t have the clout to insist on such changes.

    It’s impossible to abolish public schools since you have to replace it with something that fulfills a similar purpose. Like it or not, there are still some functions that only the State can fulfill. Turning over the education budget to the Regional or provincial governments may be worth looking into though if the Manila-based DECS is too corrupt.

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Re: democratic education, I merely meant an emphasis in democratic thinking like what they do now in former eastern Bloc countries. – BrianB

    Thanks for the clarification. Any pointers to where i can get more info on this?

    • leah on November 8, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    the Catholic Church also should be blamed for that childs death. More than anyone else. 7 children, no house, no job.

    did you notice V for Vandetta was used to raise 4.2 million dollars for Ron Paul in the USA?

  1. The issue is responsible parenthood.

    Not all poor families end up with suicidal members at a young age.

    Sometime the poverty makes it as a challenge to strive harder and have a better life.

    Most of those who are successful whether abroad or in the Philippines are those who have experienced extreme poverty.

    • Mike on November 8, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    BrianB, you might be reading Bishop Cruz’s words too literally. I think his message is not far from the point you are making: just because we’re not the all-powerful government doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference in the lives of others, especially the poor. Even the poor themselves aren’t exempt from the call to practice charity–and I’m not talking about the monetary kind. In the news article about Mariannet Amper, one neighbor was quoted as saying that other kids didn’t want to play with the Amper kids because the latter were “madungis”. Would it have cost anything to treat them kindly?

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    But most of these people strike me as industrious and intelligent enough in their own right. – Willy

    If we want to create a genuine intellectual aristocracy, instead of a self-appointed one that the current elite imagines itself to be, we have to do our part to change the system so that these industrious and intelligent individuals stuck in poverty are able to develop what they have so they can in turn contribute to the system. We don’t lack examples. The provincial government of Kerala in India was able to accomplish this.

  2. It is said that 5% of the Filipino families owns 85% of the country’s total resources. That leaves 95% of Filipino families owning the remaining 15%.

    How did this come about, I wonder? Genius in business enterprise on the part of the elite, and indolence on the lower end, or just that plain old, unmitigated ‘gulangan’ where one class happened to be ‘mas magulang’ and the other ‘hindi marunong mang-gulang’?

    • Mike on November 8, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Private schools exist because some parents just aren’t satisfied with the quality of public school education. So they pay for private education while paying for public education through their taxes. Why deprive them of a choice?

    • manuelbuencamino on November 8, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    BrianB,

    I wasn’t trying to make a joke out of the situation. Aparently you haven’t read the press release from Bunye’s office: “PGMA directs DepEd to hasten and widen implementation of alternative distance education”

    Naknamputa, ginamit pa yun pagkamatay ng isang inocenteng bata para itulak ang isang proyectong tadtad ng kickback.

    No, I made that remark to demonstrate how callous that woman in the Palace is.

    • mlq3 on November 8, 2007 at 4:49 pm
      Author

    i’ll give an example of a place i find impressive. plm (pamantasan ng lungsod ng maynila) gives 100% free tuition to kids from manila, they have to be valedictorians to even apply. my understanding is the city subsidy is total so long as the students maintain a certain average, if their grades slip below a certain mark, they start paying tuition. salututorians from other places can apply, but i’m not sure if they get a partial subsidy or not.

    the salary of the college president -now adel tamano- is a measly 30,000 pesos a month.

    the kids are bright, polite, they do quite well in the national board exams in law, nursing, etc. and their material equipment is far from ideal (they just started getting computers recently).

    talking to them (some have guested on my show as the audience) they were sharp.

    i’ve had my fair share of addressing students from public and private schools, the most apathetic were from two of the top three schools, quite frustrating, really.

    i’ve also judged from time to time, in student writing contests (school journalism) held regularly by deped. the best writers were from region 4.

    • Mike on November 8, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    CVJ: One of the best things the government can do–especially local government–to improve this situation is to remove a lot of the red tape associated with opening a legitimate business. There ARE plenty of industrious Pinoys regardless of economic class, and if properly enabled, they can and will create the enterprises that will produce wealth.

    • Willy on November 8, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    cvj,
    Exactly. For the very poor people, simple survival requires tremendous effort. But people will feed themselves, if allowed to do so. It’s not really our job to set things right for others. Our responsibility is to remove the obstacles in their paths. These obstacles are often created by those who have so much in excess and wants to even amass more.

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Private schools exist because some parents just aren’t satisfied with the quality of public school education. So they pay for private education while paying for public education through their taxes. Why deprive them of a choice? – Mike

    In terms of benefits to society, the value of having a choice is that it encourages competition which in turn encourages the institutions (in this case, the schools, to improve). However, in the case of our educational system, the availability of such a choice is detrimental to the entire system in the sense that those who are left in the public school system (because they cannot afford to let their children go to private schools) are left with too little voice. Since their children are in private schools, the rich and middle class parents are no longer available to complain about the quality of public school education.

    If instead, the rich and middle class kids are compelled to attend public school, then their parents will have more incentive to care about the quality of the public school system. Being richer, they would also have the means to influence the outcome. In summary, this is a case where the absence of choice could lead to a more favorable social outcome.

    If we agree that quality education for the majority is one of the keys to development, then this is one way of bringing this about. (Plus the bonus of hopefully having fewer elitists around in a generation or two.) 🙂

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    i’ve had my fair share of addressing students from public and private schools, the most apathetic were from two of the top three schools, quite frustrating, really. – mlq3

    I see that things haven’t changed since i was in high school 25 years ago. The prevalent sentiment in La Salle Greenhills shortly after Ninoy’s assasination was why the fuss? When Chino Roces, Joe Burgos and Kit Tatad came to talk to the entire high shcool student body, the last one was the most popular. Roces came off as shrill and Burgos was seen as speechifying. We were a bunch of little Geo’s and Rego’s at that time.

    • Mike on November 8, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Since their children are in private schools, the rich and middle class parents are no longer available to complain about the quality of public school education. – CVJ

    First of all, the rich (or at least the REALLY rich) will send their kids out of the country. The middle class will try to complain, but do you seriously see the government actually paying attention to their complaints? If anything, there will be a boom in private tutoring, but I doubt this will offset the negative effect of public school education (at its existing level) on kids who would otherwise have done better in private schools.

    I’m all in favor of eliminating elitism, but abolishing private schools is not the way.

    • Mike on November 8, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Hey, my blockquote worked! I owe you, CVJ! (But that doesn’t mean I will support your call for abolishing private education, hahaha :-D)

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Mike, Willy, i agree with what you say about removing red tape and enabling the poor to help themselves by removing obstacles in their way.

    As i see it, one of the immediate obstacles that we need to remove are the Charter Change advocates who want to deprive the people of voting directly for their national leader, or who want to restrict their choices by fragmenting the electorate (via federalization) or putting up all sorts of qualifications to running for office. If the poor are going to be genuine partners for development, the elitists must be prevented from implementing their agenda.

    Also, we have to reverse Gloria Arroyo’s trickle-up economics.

    • Mike on November 8, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Incidentally, is there any non-Communist country where private education was abolished?

    • ronin on November 8, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Manolo, thanks for the nice words about PLM. I’m an alumnus of that institution (and obviously proud of it :)). Our professors then (I belong to batch ’92) always told us stories of how the early batches of PLM students i the late 60s were really bright yet financially poor kids who strove hard to get an education (there were always tales of PLM students in the 60s fainting in the classroom because they didn’t have breakfast, that kind of thing). PLM then was really for Manila’s honor students.

    Fast-forward to the 80s, declining subsidy from City Hall forced the university administration to open its doors to non-Manila residents (like me; I hail from Laguna). Honor graduates from Manila’s public schools still got 100% scholarship while us non-Manilans were classified under the ‘paying program.’ This meant paying a token amount for out tuition.

    We also had to have the required grade point average to get accepted and had to maintain a minimum grade to avodi getting kicked out.

    My average tution and other fees per semester: P550 (from 1988-92). If I’m not mistaken, the total tution I paid for my whole bachelor’s degree did not even reach the average tution for a semester’s study in UST at the time.

    True, equipments were near-obsolete, even non-existent. I had taken up Mass Communication. My classmates and I always had to rent the facilities of the Communication Foundation of Asia (which were cheap yet old) whenever we had broadcasting projects. We would beg, borrow (but never steal!) video cameras and other necessary gadgets from friends and relative. For me and my classmates, it was no big deal. It only pushed us to be more creative and resource-oriented. Definitely no spoon-feeding from our profs.

    Sad to say, politics has also touched PLM. In 2002, under then Mayor Lito Atienza (of course, the Manila Mayor has a big influence over the city university) allowed increasing the number of freshmen enrollees, resulting in a student population way beyond the school’s capacities. I can’t remember how this was done, if the required GPA for admisssion was lowered or something. Atienza may have benefitted from this (imagine the number of poor parents gratified by this decision) but the academic community had to bear the consequences.

    As a gesture of gratitude to my alma mater, I taught part-time in 2002. In my first day in class, I had thought I was in another school in a far-flung province, rather than in a city university in the country’s capital.

    The classroom I was in was bursting with close to 60 students. I was screaming myself hoarse as I delivered my lecture so that the students at the back can hear me. But who would care, with the heat from 60 human bodies turning the room into an oven (nope, no aircon in the classrooms). This scene was replicated in all classes. Portions of the library were converted into classrooms. I had a class in the former ROTC barracks. The rooms were so small that as I stood in front of the class, my knees were touching those of the girls’ in the front row. No kidding.

    I learned that some classes were held in the City University of Manila in the former PNB building in Escolta, and also in some government buildings in the Quiapo area. So, students would rush from the PLM campus in Gen. Luna, Intramuros to their next class in Escolta. Ugh.

    It’s a horror story, alright, but my only consolation was that the students were really bright (ehem!). Perhaps even brighter than our batch. More assertive too.

    With a new mayor and a new university president, I hope things will get better in PLM. The kids there deserve better service.

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Mike, you’re welcome. I agree that the very rich will send their kids overseas and i hope the rest of us notices and deal with them accordingly. So that means we have to rely on the voice of the middle class and it will now be their responsibility to make the government listen. If government doesn’t listen, then they would just have to fight harder. Matira ang matibay. Remember the story of when Julius Ceasar invaded the British Isles? He had the ships that took his army there burned to prevent his soldiers from entertaining thoughts of retreat? The Private schools are like the Ceasar’s ships.

    As for private tutoring, that’s also good in a way since that will improve our employment situation and will give teachers supplemental income. One thing i notice though is that we Filipinos seem disillusioned with collective action (through the State) and we prefer piecemeal individual actions like Jeg’s suggestion of giving the money back to the students or the instinct to go for private tutoring. That mindset has got to change if we are (as Sparks has asked in her blog) serious in wanting to become a Nation and a State.

    • Jeg on November 8, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Giving money back to the students (via their parents of course) to enroll where they wish, yes. I am wary of the State having a monopoly of education and would rather have public schools abolished instead of private schools.

    And never underestimate the strength of individual action. I see wisdom in collective action of course, but it is in individual freedom and creativity that we as a nation will bloom.

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Incidentally, is there any non-Communist country where private education was abolished? – Mike

    I’m not personally aware of any but in a previous thread, commenter Supremo said:

    cvj’s idea is being practiced in Canada. The government pays for primary and secondary education whether the child goes to a public or a private school. Private schools are only called private because the government doesn’t own the infrastructure. – supremo October 25th, 2007 at 4:22 am

    Also i know that most kids here in Singapore go to public schools.

    Anyway, i was only talking about abolishing private education (by Jesuits, La Salle Brothers, Dominicans, Assumption sisters, Benedictine priest and nuns) at the elementary and high school level. At the College level and beyond, there should still be both public and private schools.

    • Willy on November 8, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    The problem with our top private schools is not what they teach but what they do NOT teach. All to often we have a shallow meaning of true education. (the foremost teachers actually should be the parents themselves).
    Thus Mark Twain says: “All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal, valuable knowledge. The theological knowledge which they conceal cannot justly be regarded as less valuable than that which they reveal. That is, when a man is buying a basket of strawberries it can profit him to know that the bottom half of it is rotten”.

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Jeg, when you say ‘give back the money’, do you mean only the tuition or even the money to build and maintain the schools? Will schools then be set-up as businesses and subject to the laws of supply and demand? Try to develop that idea and see where that leads us.

    I have never underestimated the power of individual action. I’m an OFW, part of the OFW phenomenon, remember? So i know how little trickles of remittances from individuals can prop up an economy.

    The only thing i notice is that when it comes to coordinated collective action via the State, people have given up. It’s as if we’re content to have our institutions as playgrounds for politicians and bureaucrats. That’s a shame because no country has developed in recent times without the heavy involvement of the State.

    • Ka Enchong on November 8, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    I’m all in favor of eliminating elitism, but abolishing private schools is not the way.

    Our system of education is flawed. Take the premier state university, the University of the Philippines, for example. It is envisioned to cater to the educational needs of intellectually deserving but financially challenged students.

    One has to pass UPCAT to earn the right to admission. Needless to say, one has to be intellectually above average to pass UPCAT.

    Sadly, our elementary and secondary public school systems generally do not possess the capacity to prepare graduates for the intellectual challenge of the UPCAT. Private schools, on the other hand, have that capacity- and for one to get private education, he has to come from a family which can afford private education. Pera pa rin.

    While I concede that there are UP students from poor families, they are more of exemptions rather than rules.

    Whoever replaces Aling Gloria should work out a plan to raise the elementary and secondary public school standards to be at par, if not better, than those in private school systems.

    Ang masakit kasi, most of the opportunities are available to those who already have them. The systems we have in our society today tend to marginalize those who are already marginalized.

    Job hunting after graduation, one would need to be from any of the top three schools to even gain a crack at an interview.

    No wonder why, as a rule, the poor gets poorer by the day, while the rich gets richer by the hour.

    Just my 2 pesos worth of opinion…

  3. The quality of education has really deteriorated in our country.

    Can you imagine that the top 3 universities(Ateneo,UP and De La Salle) are NOT included in the top 500 universities in the world!

    P.S.not even in the top 100 universities in Asia!

    • Jeg on November 8, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    cvj: Jeg, when you say ‘give back the money’, do you mean only the tuition or even the money to build and maintain the schools?

    Everything. The total budget for education (that the State has taken upon itself as its responsibility) divided by the number of students. Will schools be set up as businesses? I suppose they will but more like public utilities. It will not solve the problem you wish to solve –that of diminishing the number of ‘elitists’– but I am of the position that you can’t do that anyway, even with the abolition of private schools. And I dont see harm in having an elitist schmuck as long as they have something to be elite about. Im not thinking of elite in terms of money, but in terms that MBW once talked about when she said something about the French elitisme. I can put up with an elitiste’s annoying and boorish behavior as long as he or she truly is smarter than we are and is doing something to help others. But I see where youre going, though. Youre wary of unfettered capitalism more than you are wary of State monopoly. Im the opposite. If it came down to a choice between which to abolish, public or private schools, I say get rid of the public schools. I think I trust the Jesuits, Dominicans, etc, more than I trust the politicians.

    But your suggestion of a decentralized public school system is a very good one.

    The only thing i notice is that when it comes to coordinated collective action via the State, people have given up.

    That is certainly true of myself. I am of the opinion that our representative democracy is deeply flawed. ‘Via the State’ simply means handing over our lives to these representatives who dont represent. As long as our representative system is in place, I advocate an adversarial position, if not an outright paranoid one. Theyre simply a necessary evil for now but Im looking forward to the day when theyll have lesser and lesser influence in the daily lives of the Filipino.

    • Mike on November 8, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    CVJ, the Canadian experience isn’t quite what you are proposing because you are still free to choose what kind of school you want your kid to go to. Applying that here would mean the government will pay whether you send your kid to an exclusive school or your local municipal school. I think it’s quite obvious what most people would choose.

    Your equation seems to be religious private education = elitism. But this is overgeneralizing, isn’t it? And then what about private, secular schools such as IS? Are they to be closed, too?

    • Mike on November 8, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Ka Enchong:

    Exactly! By all means, raise the standard of public education in the country, and quickly. But this doesn’t have to come at the expense of private education, as Britain, Japan, and Singapore (among others) have shown.

  4. ronin:more power to you!

    • tagabukid on November 8, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    I wish Mariannet read the poem below before she reached the “summit of despair”:

    Dont Quit

    When things go wrong as they sometimes will
    When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
    When the funds are low and the debts are high
    And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
    When care is pressing you down a bit,
    Rest if you must, but don’t you quit
    Life is queer with its twists and turns
    As every one of us sometimes learns,
    And many a failure turns about
    When she might have won had she stuck it out;
    Don’t give up though the pace seems slow
    You may succeed with another blow.
    Success is failure turned inside out
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
    And you never can tell how close you are,
    It may be near when it seems so far;
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
    It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

    Ive been keeping in my bag the postcard that contains that poem. So to those who feel the same desperation, you would do well to keep that poem in mind.

    Tuloy ang laban. May pag-asa pa ang Pilipino!

    • Willy on November 8, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Asiaweek’s 1999 Asia-Pacific university survey (it has since stopped conducting this survey) listed UP as # 32, Ateneo as # 71, DLSU as # 76, and UST as # 78 in the rankings. Note though that this survey has generated controversy. Cesar Bacani, Asiaweek’s editor, said: “We do not present ourselves as experts, but we do present ourselves as consumers who, like anybody else, want and demand to know the quality of a very important product…”. It is just interesting to note though, that UP is a cash-starved institution (much like PLM) but
    continues to be highly noted for quality education in the same breath as Ateneo and DLSU. Today, one semester in UP (with the recent mighty increase) would cost the financially capable student about 20T ( at 1T per unit) while in Ateneo it would cost around 100T per sem. But UP still maintains the socialized tuition scheme where a student can pay less based on family income. When I entered UP as a freshman long ago, my tuition was free and I paid just 100 pesos or so per sem. as miscellanous fees due to our low-income status.
    The point is that quality education need not be expensive.

  5. willy :

    I am shocked how things have changed since 1999.

    As I posted earlier ,UP,Ateneo and De La Salle are NOT in the World’s top 500 universities list nor in the top 100 universities in Asia.

  6. tagabukid: thanks for INSPIRING poem .I will not quit!

    • cvj on November 8, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Jeg, i’m ok with unfettered capitalism in areas where market failures do not occur. (I do work for a multinational so it would be hypocritical if i didn’t believe in the very capitalism that feeds me.) It just happens that Education (along with public utilities such as power distribution) is not one of those areas. Granted that you give the money to each and every parent. They then have to get together and invest to put up a school or to expand an existing one. They should have a means to coordinate their activities so that they do not duplicate each other’s activities and come up with standards. They have to decide on the curriculum, textbooks, teacher’s pay. In short, you would need something like government to act as a coordinating mechanism. I’m glad you like the decentralized approach since i also believe that competition among the government geographies might offset any inefficiencies of decentralization.

    I can put up with an elitiste’s annoying and boorish behavior as long as he or she truly is smarter than we are and is doing something to help others. – Jeg

    Unfortunately, that’s not the case with our home-grown elitists most of whom are legends in their own mind. Also, the fact that one holds an elitist world view means that s/he is stuck in the pre-modern age where arrangements were hierarchical. In today’s society which is differentiated according to functions, there is no place for elitists, only specialists and generalists in each of these functional areas.

    That is certainly true of myself. I am of the opinion that our representative democracy is deeply flawed. – Jeg

    I share your opinion, but as i said before, the countries that developed recently did so with the participation of their State sectors. The solution is not to withdraw into the private sphere but to supplement our system of representation with direct democracy (i.e. People Power big and small). In general, if you are a market fundamentalist as i think you are, then you have to be aware that there is such a thing as market failure since markets only work under a given set of conditions, not all of which are present at a given time in any given situation. That’s why deregulation/privatization works in some sectors and not in others.

    In the same way, those who favor government action should be aware that there is also such a thing as government failure and this is a rich area of study within subjects such as mechanism design which Urbano de la Cruz brought in a previous thread.

    Mike, in Canada i don’t think the difference between a ‘private’ and a ‘public’ school differs as much as over here, so to transplant the Canadian-style government subsidies without doing something about the unequal quality between public and private subverts the Canadian system and leaves us with the status quo.

    The whole point in abolishing private schools (yes, both religious and secular) is to destroy such difference in quality between public and private schools and force everyone (not just the poor) to work for the improvement of our public education system as a whole.

  7. “Having heard about the fate of a schoolgirl who took her life for lack of transport fare to school, among other needs in life, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed today the Department of Education (DepEd) to hasten and widen the implementation of its alternative distance education program.”IGNACIO BUNYE,Office of the Press Secretary

    Unbelievable sympathy!

    • vic on November 8, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Jeg, the point of abolishing private schools (at the elementary and high school level) is to eliminate the elitist-mindset that goes hand in hand with such formative education. We don’t want future Mike or Mikey Arroyos. If the parents of these rich and middle class kids (e.g. Forbes, Dasmarinas Village) are able to go to the same schools as children from Guadalupe Viejo, then two things can happen:

    cjv, proof that a well financed and well managed publicly run education from junior kinder to High School graduation and a heavily subsidized post H.S. education (college and university) will somehow by itself eliminate slowly privately run expensive private education.

    And it is indeed nice to see the ultra-rich kids mixing it out with working parents kids, makes them feel equal and learn to adjust to each others early on.

    One Program that works so well is the “Breakfast for Children”, where teachers identify underweight or inactive children and direct attention to social services people to either follow up their family situations and design nutrition program for these children at school to keep up with their peers.

    The country can afford these programs, if they can eliminate “corruption” by at least half and saving from so many unnecessary programs. Or even one quarter of the pork barrel goes toward the schools would mean a lot for the children..

    • qwert on November 8, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    “I blame the people in power and the people who should know better: Church and government. These two have failed us all.” – BrianB

    The government should solve the problem of grinding poverty but can the church do something about the vices of the poor?

    • qwert on November 8, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    “Or even one quarter of the pork barrel goes toward the schools would mean a lot for the children..”-vic

    vic,
    just this evening on the news one senator said this:

    “Until now two years later, the manager of the North Rail has [already] died, nothing has happened…And we’re paying $400,000 a month in interest alone,” – GMANews.TV

    • vic on November 8, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    “Until now two years later, the manager of the North Rail has [already] died, nothing has happened…And we’re paying $400,000 a month in interest alone,” – GMANews.TV

    qwert, that is a “criminal waste” and just imagine what that amount can do for the education of the children.

    cjv, I can only speak for the Province of Ontario, but most provinces’ education system are the same. 95 % of Students from Junior kindergarten to Grade 12 (grade 13 was abolished some 5 years ago)attend publicly funded schools, the public schools boards and the separate schools boards (the Catholic Schools, around 30 50 35 %) 3 % for other religious and 2% other privates. In order for Catholic School Board to avail Public funding it has to follow the Ministry’s curriculum, hire accredited teachers, plus their own religious studies and disciplines, like wearing school uniforms and other religious duties.

    Last election, 2 months ago, the Opposition lost Big time on the promise of extending funding to the all faith-based schools, instead there is the some noise in some quarters to take back the funding from Catholic Schools and make one Secular Public Education where Religious teaching can be teach within the system where all faiths can be accommodated. nothing comes out of it…

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