Migraine is When Economics Starts to Fuck the Logic of Mathematics

Last Tuesday the DEVE511 class was treated to a whole bevy of economics by Dr. Geoff Bertram. During the course of the lecture, Dr. Bertram was telling about the terms that should have already been familiar to me having taken 18 credit units in economics back in undergraduate (18 credit units = 6 papers). 

But lo and behold, even the simplest terms like supply and demand gave me a hard time during the lecture. And when the causal models of aid and development were thrown in to the picture, I actually told myself: why is economics fucking mathematics right now? Add to the picture a not-so-logical presentation of the concepts of convergence and divergence, and you get a whopping headache. Good thing towards the end of the lecture, Dr. Bertram pointed out the real mathematics behind these concepts. I completely forgot the economic concept of “in ceteris paribus” or other things held constant. Then the lecture started to make sense.

And then, Dr. Bertram started to kick in once again Rostow’s five (5) stages of economic growth, which he likes to call “A Non-Communist Manifesto” (oh puhleeze). There Dr. Bertram’s economic concepts really started making sense. But then I ask why Rostow insist that all countries will attain a steady state of progressive economics? How will this five stages of growth postulated by Rostow account for the several depressions and financial crises that hounded the world? 

Here I go back to the principle of neoliberalism being a cover-up to the bankruptcy of capitalism. I stand my ground that the State should intervene in the economy otherwise when we let the market run its course, we’re all fucked up. And the masses will have no choice but to stage an uprising, a social revolution. 

The State will always have a large responsibility in the realm of development.

A dream? A vision? A message?

Last night I dreamed that I was presented with, on my right, a very huge mansion, a billion dollars, and sleek Mitsubishi Eclipse I had always wanted; and on my left a small jet but the pilot is not telling me where the jet is headed. I was given one minute to check out the “showcase” on the right then I had to make a decision on what to take.

When I entered the mansion, held the cash, and ran my fingers through the shining metal of the Eclipse, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Thirty seconds into the “viewing” I went out of the mansion, picked up a small backpack that seemingly contained all my belongings, jumped into the jet and headed to nowhere.

The jet brought me to a vast stretch of desert; I thought the plane would land but the pilot just dropped me in the middle of nowhere. I started walking towards the east, and after a few miles, I suddenly saw a mirage of myself, smiling, sporting several medals, and speaking to a huge crowd of people. I ran to reach the mirage, but every time I get nearer, boulders came hurling from the sky blocking my way. I managed to overcome every boulder, regardless of the size.

When I finally reached the mirage, the crowd fell silent. The speaking me stopped his speech and handed over the podium to me. When I went up to the podium, the entire surrounding became a sea of blue and red. The sky became dark, and three stars shone brightly from the night sky together with the sun. I started speaking in a language even I didn’t understand. When I finished, the crowd erupted in a thunderous applause and an eagle came down and perched itself on my arm.

Then I woke up.

Is this just a dream? Or a vision? Or a message?

Modernisation and Neoliberalism: More of a Hindrance to Development

In our DEVE511 class this week we talked about two theories that I kept on hearing for quite a long time already: modernisation and neoliberalism. And yes, you’re probably dead right that what I’ve heard about these two theories before were on the negative side. In fact, I tried my best to get a grasp of the positive side of the spectrum while in class, but what I’ve learned even made my frustrations against these theories ignite.

Let’s talk about modernisation first. At first one would think that it’s actually a good thing. After all, in this age of modernity, who would want to stay behind in the backwaters of progress? Virtually no one! After all, with modernisation came education, mass media, urbanisation, new social forms, mobility, and extensive networks.

But think again: modernisation arose during the height of the European industrial revolution. And the European bourgeoisie must have thought, ‘if modernisation worked in Europe, it’ll work elsewhere’. A major cause of concern? Some would argue that it’s not much of a concern but get this: Europe ain’t the world, kiddos! Resources in Europe are different from the resources in Asia, and are also different from the ones in Africa. Furthermore, modernisation only looks at the internal causes of poverty. Yes, for modernisation theory, all causes of poverty is internal and external forces are not to be held accountable.

What’s even worse is the theory of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism basically removes governance responsibilities from the state thru privatisation, deregulation, free markets, free trades, and austerity measures (aka rolling back the state). Though it left some duties to the state, such as property rights, globalisation, re-regulation, and good governance, in paper it might be good, but in practice, essentially this is done to protect the wealthy even more.

I have argued in class that all the processes involved in neoliberal theory are the perfect ingredients to make the social climate rife for, as what Karl Marx has put it, a social revolution. My friend Leo Fuentes, former chairperson of the UP Los Baños University Student Council, has appended my argument by saying that neoliberalism is actually a recovery measure to cover up the “bankruptcy of capitalism”.

A simple case at hand:

Back at home, both modernisation and neoliberal theories are at work in reforming the national education system. Of course we wouldn’t want a bankrupt education system, but not at the expense of the poor but deserving students. The University of the Philippines, known as the Philippines’ national university, is a state university founded in 1908 whose mandate, as provided by Republic Act 9500, otherwise known as the University of the Philippines Charter of 2008, “to perform its unique and distinctive leadership in higher education and development”. This is purposely in accordance with Section 1 of Article XIV of the 1987 Philippine constitution, with states that “the State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all”. In essence, UP has a mandate to educate young minds as part of the national thrust towards development and progress.

However in 2006, the UP Board of Regents, the highest governing body of the University, approved a 300% increase in tuition and other fees, despite mounting opposition by the widest ranks of the students, the faculty, and the academic and non-academic staff. It was further aggravated in 2012 when President Benigno Aquino III proposed the largest budget cut in the history of the university amounting to more than Php1 billion. Facing the largest opposition, Aquino answered critics of the move by saying that “the university should adapt to changes in the market and should learn how to generate its own funds.” We see the force of the free market and deregulation (of tuition fees) at play here.

Furthermore, several lands owned by the University that are reserved for academic purposes are being leased to private entities in order to generate further income for the University. Opposition has feared that the leases are a form of commercialisation which will eventually lead to the privatisation of the University.

And more recently, the Board of Regents approved that the University shift the academic calendar from the usual June-March school year to an August-May school year. The administration reasons out that this for easier mobility of students and faculty among the ASEAN University Network. Considering that the human resource is currently the Philippines’ top export, this move hints to the force of free trade.

Putting together the pieces of modernisation and neoliberal theory led me to ask: how can both theories be used as frameworks for development?  I firmly believe that in order for a nation to progress into a developed one, a high premium should be placed on the responsibility of the State. Yes, the citizens also have their fair share of the pie, but the State, being the representation of the people, should be the ones to push forward this development goal. But with modernisation and neoliberalism basically removing the responsibility of the State to its people, these theories are seen more of a hindrance than a launchpad to development.

A bankrupt idea cannot solve the problem of bankruptcy.

Rest in peace to the 15 souls who perished in the Bontoc accident, including Tado.

Not just Tado. But all the 15 (?) souls who perished in that grim Bontoc accident. ‪#‎RIP‬.

On a side note: Of course several factors can cause vehicular accidents. It’s not just about the condition of the bus or the driver’s condition or driving style, but the road conditions as well. Highway conditions in the Philippines are oftentimes overlooked.

The roads of the Cordilleras are notorious worldwide for being among the most treacherous in the world and it’s not because of its geography. Travel blogs have named Cordillera roads as very treacherous because of poor maintenance. 

Papaano, inuunang isipin ng DPWH or kung sinumang hudas kung magkaano ang kickback sa proyekto bago isipin ang kapakanan ng mga motoristang gagamit. 

HOW MANY MORE SOULS HAVE TO PERISH BEFORE PHILIPPINE ROADS BECOME PROPERLY MAINTAINED?

My Asian Mix Paella

Probably you have lots of leftovers from the Christmas season. In my case, I had leftover chorizo and mixed seafood in the freezer so I decided to make my own version of paella with it. Mixing Spanish and Asian flavors, I call it my “Asian Mix Paella”

 

What you would need:

  • 5 cups glutinous rice (malagkit)
  • 1 tsp powdered atsuete or powdered paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 500g mixed seafood (the frozen packed variety from the grocery will do)
  • 6 pcs chorizo, sliced
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 whole garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

Now let’s go cooking!

  1. Cook the glutinous rice together with the atsuete or paprika and 1 tsp salt in it. Be sure to evenly distribute the powder so that the rice will be evenly colored. 
  2. In a separate pan, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add chorizo once onion is translucent.
  3. Add the chorizo and cook until tender.
  4. Add the seafood. Note: if using the frozen variety, saute straight from the freezer. Drain excess water once seafood has cooked. 
  5. Once seafood has cooked, add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, remaining salt, sugar, and pepper (salt, sugar, and pepper can be adjusted according to your taste). Mix thoroughly until sauce has been evenly distributed.
  6. In a paella pan, spread cooked rice. Top the seafood mix afterwards.
  7. Enjoy and eat! 🙂

 

 

 

20 song lines that have stayed with me in 2013

I had a banner year for music in 2013. I’ve put a lot of tracks on repeat. Most of the artists I grew up with came back strong. And rock music, my genre, is returning stronger than ever.

Because of the banner year, LSS has never been this strong. So as the year draws to a close, allow me to present the 20 song lines that have stayed with me throughout 2013.

20. Maybe not this time, but I’ll find you again. (Emin, In Another Life)

19. I just wanna sing a li’l chill song, get my groove on. (Keith Urban, A Little Bit of Everything)

18. I wanna go back to the way we used to be. (Six-Part Invention, Time Machine)

17. You never know until you let go. (Usher, Numb)

16. But you stood by my side night after night. (Celine Dion, Loved Me Back To Life)

15. Di ba’t ikaw nga yung reyna at ako ang iyong hari? (Sam Concepcion & Tippy dos Santos, Dati)

14. I dive into frozen waves when the past comes back to life. (Zedd feat. Foxes, Clarity)

13. I don’t wanna be left behind. Distance was a friend of mine. (Kelly Clarkson, Catch My Breath)

12. Today’s all about me. (Alanis Morissette, Receive)

11. One day things will turn out as planned. (Noah and the Whale, There Will Come A Time)

10. I won’t make it to the shore without your light. (Armin van Buuren feat. Trevor Guthrie, This Is What It Feels Like)

9. Kaya ako’y lilipad patungo sa Iyong liwanag. (Pathway, Tinig)

8. Take the weakest thing in you and then beat the bastards with it. (Stars, Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It)

 

7. Kung wala ka pang mali, wala ka pang nagagawa. (Loonie feat. Quest, Tao Lang)

6. This is a portrait of a tortured you and I. (30 Seconds to Mars, Up in the Air)

5. Sana’y di pa huli, sana’y may oras pang nalalabi sa atin. (Jensen Gomez, Umpisa)

4. But it’s all that we want and it’s all that we’re fighting for. (Within Temptation feat. Tarja Turunen, Paradise)

3. I’m no angel, I’m just me, but I will love you endlessly. (The Cab, Endlessly)

 

2. I can’t go back to who I was; this is my time to break away. (Daiki Kasho, All My Life)

1. I hit my knees, but here I stand. (Rascal Flatts, Changed)

I took a Big5 personality test and here are my results.

Neuroticism: 48

You are generally calm, although some situations can make you feel anxious or tense. You feel enraged when things do not go your way. You are sensitive about being treated fairly and feel resentful and bitter if you think you are being cheated. Mostly your emotions are on an even keel and you do not get depressed easily. You do not feel nervous in social situations, and have a good impression of what others think of you. You feel strong cravings and urges that you have difficulty resisting. You tend to prefer short-term pleasures and rewards over long-term consequences. You are poised, confident, and clear-thinking when stressed.

Extraversion: 100

You genuinely like other people and openly demonstrate positive feelings toward others. You make friends quickly and it is easy for you to form close, intimate relationships. You find the company of others pleasantly stimulating and rewarding, and you enjoy the excitement that crowds provide. You like to speak out, take charge, and direct the activities of others. You are usually the leader in group activities. You lead a fast-paced and busy life. You move about quickly, energetically, and vigorously and are involved in many activities. You love bright lights and hustle and bustle. You are likely to take risks and seek thrills. You experience a range of positive feelings, including happiness, enthusiasm, optimism, and joy.

Openness to Experience: 99

Often you find the real world is too plain and ordinary for your liking, and you use fantasy as a way of creating a richer, more interesting world for yourself. You love beauty, both in art and in nature. Sometimes you become easily involved and absorbed in artistic and natural events. You have good access to and awareness of your own feelings. You are eager to try new activities, travel to foreign lands, and experience different things. You find familiarity and routine boring, and will take a new route home just because it is different. As a person who is open-minded to new and unusual ideas, you love to play with and think about ideas. You also like to debate intellectual issues and often enjoy riddles, puzzles and brain teasers. Often you exhibit a readiness to challenge authority, convention, and traditional values. Sometimes you feel a certain degree of hostility toward rules and perhaps even enjoy ambiguity.

Agreeableness: 60

You mostly assume that people are honest and fair, however you are wary and hold back from trusting people completely. You see no need for pretence or manipulation when dealing with others and are therefore candid, frank and sincere. People find it relatively easy to relate to you. You find helping other people genuinely rewarding and are generally willing to assist those who are in need. You find that doing things for others is a form of self-fulfilment rather than self-sacrifice. You are not adverse to confrontation and will sometimes even intimidate others to get your own way. You feel superior to those around you and sometimes tend to be seen as arrogant by other people. You are tender hearted and compassionate, feeling the pain of others vicariously and are easily moved to pity.

Conscientiousness: 56

You believe that you have the intelligence, common sense, drive, and self-control necessary for achieving success. In general you tend to be disorganized and scattered. You find contracts, rules, and regulations overly confining and are sometimes seen as unreliable or even irresponsible by others. You strive hard to achieve excellence. Your drive to be recognized as successful keeps you on track toward your lofty goals. You often have a strong sense of direction in life, but may sometimes be too single-minded and obsessed with your work. You have strong will-power and are able to overcome your reluctance to begin tasks. You are able to stay on track despite distractions. You are not an overly cautious person. You will think about alternatives and consequences but make up your mind fairly quickly.

My strengths and weaknesses:

Who I am most similar with

 

Where You Are

This story, which I wrote back in 2010, was inspired by the song “Where You Are”written by Julius Guevara and Mark Lopez and sung by Hangad Music Ministry (lifted from their album “Pasko Naming Hangad”), and in part by the events that took place in the life of a good friend of mine.

 

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Shivering in cold, Brian tearfully entered the hollow halls of that white stucco house. It has been years since he last saw that house, a house full of childhood memories that was suddenly turned into sorrow, grief, and anger. As he entered the dining room, those dark images of three years ago continue to haunt him. The cold December air felt even colder inside the house. No Christmas lights, no Christmas tree, no one to share the warmth and joy of the Christmas season.

 

Failing to brave the sorrows, Bryan turned back and went outside for a walk. Tears started to run down his cheeks. Outside, he can see children playing, smiles painted across their faces. Families walking together. Beautiful voices singing carols straining through the night.

 

Bryan reached the town plaza and sat on one of the benches. He looked up and saw the multitude of stars. However, a certain star shining very brightly caught his attention. It is giving a strong beam of light that seems to be illuminating something. Bryan’s gaze became fixed that he was already oblivious to the surroundings. Until…

 

“Why don’t you follow that star?” said a voice.

 

Bryan looked around but so no one. Again he gazed at the star, then heard the same voice.

 

“Follow it. It will guide you.”

 

Without further ado, Bryan got up the bench, raced back home, locked the old stucco house, got into his car and drove to the direction of the star. The drive was seemingly endless, but he was determined to see what that star was all about. He drove and drove until…

 

He reached the home of his best friend Gino. Gino earlier invited Bryan to their home for Noche Buena but he turned it down.

 

The light of the star was pointing to the Belen at Gino’s yard. As Gino let him in, Bryan went straight to the Belen. The image of the Christ Child at the center seemed to be smiling at him.

 

With more tears welling up his eyes, he said to himself, “I was lost deep in the night, but Your bright star led me to where You are, to where I am supposed to be. I lost my family, but You led me to a new one.”

 

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Sometimes we are fixated in looking for the superficial things that would most complete us. But as we commemorate the Birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, let us remember that back then in that first Christmas, the Bright Star led the three Wise Men to where Jesus is. Let us find our own stars of Bethlehem and let the light of Christ’s love lead us to where He is.

26 Songs That Sum Up My Life

Today I celebrate my 26 years of existence, 26 years worth of experience and memories. And what better way to celebrate them than by music? So here’s a compilation of 26 songs that I think sum up my life.

Please note that the songs are presented alphabetically.

1. AMAZING GRACE (MY CHAINS ARE GONE) – Chris Tomlin

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me.”

Throughout my life, I have seen God’s amazing grace with all the blessings he has bestowed upon me. My gratefulness is summed up by this classic song.

2. BRING THE RAIN – MercyMe

“And I know there’ll be days when this life brings me pain, but if that’s what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain.”

I’ve been through many downfalls in life but not once did I doubt the plans that God has for me. Everything is for God’s greater glory.

3. CLOUDS – Newton Faulkner

“Stop looking down in the ground; pick it out of the clouds. No one’s gonna hold you down.”

I consider this song my “victory” song. The line above says it all – look high, young man!

4. DREAMS – Van Halen

“We’ll get higher and higher straight up we’ll climb. Higher and higher, we’ll leave them all behind.”

Another victory song of mine. Just keep on dreaming and you’ll climb higher.

5. EMPTY SPACE – Bukas Palad

“Fear not the noise within, that’s where My voice begins, so you may one day hear My song. Only I can still your storm.”

Whenever I am down, I just listen to this song to comfort me. No matter how intense the storm I feel within, it’s God’s voice that brings the calmness.

6. FAR GREATER LOVE – Jesuit Music Ministry (feat. Michael Shimamoto)

“The storms of life may shake our ground. A greater peace still dwells in our hearts. The dreams we build may fall apart. A deeper hope still runs in our hearts.”

I used to sing solo to this song in Church; but more than that, this song best captures what I am right now. My ground may shake, my bridges may fall, but a Greater Peace and Love resides in me, keeping me grounded.

7. FLY LIKE AN EAGLE – Seal

“Fly like an eagle to the sea.”

Yes, I will fly…

8. HERE I AM LIVE – Yellowcard

“I’ve made mistakes, I know, but here I am alive.”

We all mistakes, but, as Olivia Culpo put it, every experience, whether good or bad, we learn from it.

9. I STILL BELIEVE – Jeremy Camp

“I still believe in Your faithfulness. I still believe in Your truth. I still believe in Your Holy Word. Even when I don’t see, I still believe.”

For the past 26 years, God has always been faithful to me. This song best captures how I respond to His faithfulness.

10. I WILL SING FOREVER – Bukas Palad

“And I will sing forever of Your love; I will celebrate the wonder of Your name.”

Labeled as the “theme song” of music ministries throughout the Philippines, this song best captures the overwhelming rejoicing of my heart because of God’s love.

11. I’M STILL HERE – Vertical Horizon

“If you were right and I was wrong, why are you the one who’s gone and I’m still here?”

No matter how many people have wronged me, I kept my ground and never faltered. After 26 years, I’m still here.

12. ISANG DAAN (The UPLB Centennial Song)

“Dumating man ang hangin ng pagbabago, iskolar huwag patitinag, itaas ang kamao!”

‘Nuff said. Isa akong iskolar ng bayan, noon, ngayon, at magpakailanman!

13. JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL – Carrie Underwood

“Jesus, take the wheel. Take it from my hand, ‘coz I can’t do it on my own.”

I have entrusted my life to God and am now ready to take on the plans He has for me.

14. KINGS AND QUEENS – 30 Seconds to Mars

“The age of man is over. Darkness comes and darkness goes. The lessons that we learned here have only just begun.”

Life is a never-ending process of learning. It is up to us whether we will take those lessons or not. (and yes, I still would like Jared Leto’s vocal range)

15. LOVE NEVER FAILS – David Haas

“Love is patient; love is kind. Love rejoices in the truth.”

This song is taken from one of my most favorite (and probably everyone’s) Bible Verse, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13.

16. MAGNIFICAT (ALL THAT I AM) – Jesuit Music Ministry

“All that I am sings of the God who brings new life to birth in me. My spirit soars on the wings of my Lord.”

This song, taken from the Gospel of Luke, is known as the Canticle of Mary. Wouldn’t it be nice that we also sing Mary’s song of worship and thankfulness to God’s faithfulness and mercy?

17. OVER AND OVER – Puff Johnson

“And if there’s an injustice in this world, we gotta keep fighting on over and over again.”

Life is a never ending process. This song just tells me not to give up and keep on fighting.

18. PILGRIM’S THEME (THE GREATER SCHEME OF THINGS) – Hangad

“I know in time I’ll find my place in the greater scheme of things.”

This song was originally written as a theme song for a bio-documentary on the life of St. Francis Xavier. We all have our ultimate goals in life. We have to keep on finding the path towards that ultimate goal by following the Voice that calls from deep within.

19. START OF SOMETHING GOOD – Daughtry

“I don’t wanna be misunderstood, but I’m starting to believe that this could be the start of something good.”

We never know what surprises life has in store for us. What’s important is that we’re always ready and that we are ready to embrace all opportunities that come our way. One of those opportunities will be the ‘start of something good.’

20. STEP BY STEP – Whitney Houston 

“I know you’re hurting, but don’t let the bad things get to you.”

Many hurdles have hindered my way, but there’s no stopping. Step by step I’m getting there.

21. TATSULOK – Bamboo

“Hangga’t may tatsulok at sila ang nasa tuktok, di matatapos itong gulo.”

This song actually captures my ‘bread and butter’ advocacy – genuine land reform in the Philippines.

22. TESTIFY TO LOVE – Wynonna Judd

“For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love. I’ll be a witness in the silences when words are not enough.”

God’s love is seen in His Creation. The least that we can do is be a witness to God’s amazing love.

23. THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – Celine Dion

“Don’t give up on your faith; love comes to those who believe it. And that’s the way it is.”

Over and over again this song has been telling me to never give up on my goals and aspirations.

24. THE JOURNEY – Lea Salonga

“What a journey it has been, and the end is not in sight.”

I have been singing this song for so many years now, particularly during graduation ceremonies (yep, grade school and high school graduation), but now more than ever this song takes on a more special meaning to me. The past 26 years have been a wonderful journey already, and I haven’t even finished that journey yet. I’m quite excited about what’s in store for the following years to come.

25. WALK BY FAITH – Jeremy Camp

“I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see; because this broken road prepares Your will for me.”

The following years of my life may be filled with uncertainty – I don’t know what’s in store – but I am never afraid, because I walk by faith. I know God has a purpose, and as I tread the broken road ahead, I know He will lead me there.

26. WHO AM I – Casting Crowns

“Who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt?”

The opening line of the song as written above says it all: without Christ I am no one.