On Language

I grew up speaking Cebuano (or commonly known as Bisaya). Everytime people, mostly Tagalog-speaking, comment on  someone’s “off” accent in English  as “Bisaya kasi”, it really turns me off. Most of the time, I don’t say anything because I find it exhausting to argue. Sometimes I want to retaliate by saying, “I’ve heard a lot of Non-Cebuano people say em arrr teee with a rolled R when they say MRT. Or they say wan tertiii, again rolling the R, when they want to say one thirty. Also they say sirkel when they want to say circle.” I could get as stereotypical as they are and inform them that the best English speakers I have met in the Philippines are Cebuanos and Ifugaos. But I keep my mouth shut because again I am not as aggressive as I really want or ought to be. Plus, how better off am I if I judge people by the way they pronounce things?
However, I do wish that teachers would especially make the effort to be critical about what they say in class because they have the power to influence children. If anything, they should encourage children to be more articulate in ANY language they are comfortable with. And how I wish we were all comfortable in our language no matter what it is. During one of our field work in college, one of our Matigsalug interviewee shared that some Matigsalug children sometimes did not want to speak their language in school because the Visayan children would make fun of them. This time, it’s the Bisaya who think they are better off in a so-called hierarchy of languages/ethnicity. To even think that there should be a hierarchy of ethnicity is limited, too linear and actually HORRIBLE but this is what society perpetuates. I write more comfortably in English than Bisaya but I speak more comfortably in Bisaya than in any other language. It’s never black and white. It’s complicated but it’s also exciting. That’s the beauty of diversity.
Note: This post was brought on by a news clip from Al Jazeera about languages that are used less and less.

Book List: Pre-teen and High School Years

I have been wanting to write about the books that were part of my growing up. Finally, I mustered up the will to do so thanks to Honey who just informed me that she found one of the books we read more than 10 years ago! So here’s a not-so-complete list of books that were part of my tween and early teen years:
The Love Hunt
This is the book that Honey and I went gaga over back in 6th grade. When she told me she found it, I was reminded of our twelve year old selves gushing over nerdy but handsome Andy Chevalier. It’s my first chick lit and it was ridden with stereotypes such as the popular jock, the nerdy biology genius and the popularity conscious but sweet high school girl. We followed the protagonist Erika’s love life and it introduced us to the world of teenage love and flirting. Honey says, it made us swoon over nerds! Which reminds me, we’ve been friends for so long!

The Chronicles of Narnia
This book set came with soap scented towels, bottles of Herbal Essence shampoo and a stash of assorted chocolate bars. In other words, it came in a balikbayan box. My aunt always sent books with clothes and toiletries from the US. The set itself is old and housed in a wonderfully illustrated box exactly like the one pictured here. Reading the entire series would span years. I began with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in 4th grade, and finished the series in college. I also didn’t read it in order which didn’t matter because once I was in their world, I was lost, happy and ready for any adventure.



To Kill A Mockingbird                
This has got to be the most nostalgic and loveliest coming-of-age book. But then again, how many have I read anyway? It’s a classic and a required reading for most American schools. It’s told from the eyes of a child, Scout, growing up in the South. It shows the lightness and happiness of childhood and the seriousness of oppression and racial injustice. 


The Harry Potter Series

I don’t think there is a need for explanation regarding this series. Let’s just say that books that have magic, friendship and love will always make for a great reading experience.

Sweet’s Folly
Sweet’s Folly is about this young lady who marries her best friend’s brother for convenience. She realizes though that she is actually in love with him. So while she pines for her husband, she also feels guilty for “imprisoning” him in their marriage. Again, it’s a template romance novel but I love the characters and you can really feel the tension between them. This book has kilig written all over it! The lesson is nothing new. Be honest with your feelings. Swallow your pride and just profess that love. The worse thing that can happen is the person won’t love you back while there’s always the possibility that he actually does! I’m currently reading a mystery by the same author under a different penname, Ellen Pall.



Legend was the first sexy romance novel I read. While the boys in junior high school were busy discovering and sharing their porn cd’s, the girls were being introduced to Jude Deveraux novels. We  would suppress giggles while passing these paperbacks in class, safely hidden behind our academic books. Everyone knew which pages had the steamy scenes. So here we see where the misunderstanding begins. Women expect to be wooed, kissed, seduced and treated the way leading men treat the heroines of these stories. Men on the other hand sometimes get confused when to be sweet, gentle, sensitive and when to apply what they learned from raunchy flicks.

The Matisse Stories

My very close friend, Janelle and I once bought books by the kilo from the local university’s library warehouse. I think that was what I thought it was. One of those books was AS Byatt’s The Matisse Stories which I plunked into our pile because of its cover. I had not heard of her then but became engrossed with the collection. Later on, I would prefer to read short stories over novels. I found that they made good introductions to authors I wanted to read but was too hesitant or lazy to commit time to a full novel. For instance, while reading 100 Years of Solitude may be threateningly cumbersome, Marquez’s Strange Pilgrims might easily give one a sense of his writings in the instant gratification of short stories.

The Little Prince

You can read The Little Prince at ten or eighty and still find something meaningful. There are just too many quotable quotes from this book. Apart from the delightful illustrations, this is on my list because I enjoyed our class discussions about what we learned from the wise little prince and I also missed a bus stop when I reread it some months ago.

There’s not a single book by a Filipino author here but that deserves another entry. I only began to discover local literature in college which, for me, could be a bad sign. Are Filipino high school kids missing out on the wealth of Philippine Literature? I hope not!

Still, library access is probably one of the best things a kid (or any person) could have!

Getting Organized

My mom gets upset when she sees us not wearing house slippers. Maybe she vicariously feels the cold floor or it doesn’t sit well with her generation’s sensibilities. This brings me to think of how I should put things in place— categorize and classify them as they should be, at least according to my own sensibilities. At one time, I can leave a room looking topsy turvy-clothes strewn all over the floor. On another, I could be obsessively wiping a tiny stain off a kitchen appliance. Anyhow, I’d rather be organized. As a bored girl on her day off, here’s a rundown of things I want to get done:


Continue reading “Getting Organized”

Currently Reading | Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs

My search for finding a fulfilling and interesting career has led me into all sorts of directions– from art and design to culinary arts to development work and finance. I am uncertain how near or far I am from a career but I’ve come across very interesting ideas and people. One of those people I found out about was Muhammad Yunus. He is a Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize awardee, praised for founding Grameen Bank, an institution that loaned to the poor (who otherwise would be turned away by most banks) to build or augment their own small businesses.

In this book, he outlines his vision of a new kind of capitalism. He defines the concept of social business where the objective is to solve a social problem. It’s a different creature from a traditional business and also unlike a charity or non-profit. It’s also not quite a social enterprise. It’s a very interesting concept where one is in a business not for profit but to alleviate poverty and better serve humanity.  There’s no need to be an economist, a businessman or a development worker to appreciate his ideas. This book is inspiring and delightfully easy to understand. I haven’t finished it but it’s proving to be a very good read.