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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Perfection and critics

It is common knowledge and a cliché even that nothing is perfect. Nobody is perfect. Then, why all the criticisms? Have you ever received a harsh criticism that just made you want to tell that your critic to bug off and cut you some slack since nobody is perfect anyway? I am definitely one of those who have used this “nobody is perfect” excuse. Yes, the saying is not a justification for something that is flawed but rather an excuse. As my mother says, “yes, nobody is perfect. But you have to try to be.”

As writers for the campus publication, we are often told off for our articles which in the university’s view mar its alleged good record. One of the school heads said that given our cynicism as watchdogs of the university, we seemingly go about making an issue out of something that a passive student would think is all right. He further went into a recount of how the university has improved, and he seemingly thinks that we, the campus publication, are unappreciative of that. Haven’t the administration done all they can so far to come close to perfection?

In one corner, a demolished funerary is about to give rise to a project which the school architects says will be a very good move for the university. In another, a new building which is said to boast of high end facilities is being built. It is clear then that the university wants to give its students the best. But there is still no end to comments about the imperfect education system as some think it is overlooked or even prioritized less.

Criticisms are natural to the point that it may be almost unreasonable to explain oneself to a critic. However, “Nobody is perfect” will always be an excuse. It is only a statement of the fact that there are limitations that we must try to overcome rather than excuse ourselves for.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The Change that matters

At the start of a new semester, perhaps it is not such a mere assumption that students have made their list of things they would want to be different from the previous semester.

Nocturnal students would perhaps wish for a better schedule wherein they won’t have to force their body clock to change for a 7:00am class or perhaps, you might be one of those who wish not to have the same instructor in whose class they sleep away the hours lost staying up late signed in on Facebook.

Yes, as we enter another semester, we bid farewell to the loads of final requirements and moments of cramming because of sudden spells of tardiness and hope that this semester things would be different – that things would change.

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By definition, change is to be different. However, I guess there is an apparent difference between “difference” and “change” since rarely do people talk of change unless they mean big time change or its essence.

Definitely, sporting a new haircut or wearing polished shoes would not account for a change in a person, though external change is apparent. There is simply just something different.

At school, in spite of the newly built building with a projector and screen conveniently installed, some look past that and continue to wish for a system and instructors better than the facade and its constructors. Only then can we say something has changed that mattered.

Now let us look at it in a larger extent.

In the local community, one could suddenly notice newly paved roads or large tarpaulins introducing newly accomplished community projects while acknowledging the government leader behind it all. And yet, in spite of feeling thankful for it, many still lament the fact that not all Filipinos around the country are fed and have means of meeting ends.

Some may say there is something different but still nothing has changed.

Given this, I wonder if people get tired of hearing what seem like hand-me-down speeches by electoral candidates. It is a given that leaders aim to make a change and that those changes would become their legacy that would prove them better than the last one seated on the throne. Candidates say “this time” will be different; “this time” change is going to happen.

As we listen to them, it seems like they claim to cure the troubles of society such as corruption, poverty and its effects in a snap.

And we, being optimists, hang on to every word while seeming to forget how unrealistic this all seems, the promise of utopia.

The thing is people hope for fast but big change while overlooking the small changes such as the new roads or improved facilities. We want to see change in the big picture. Moreover, we want to see change that matters.

But I guess fast change means being on the first floor one minute and being in the fourth the next. We cannot expect the big picture to change in a matter of minutes. Even feeding programs won’t promise that the hungry won’t go hungry again the morning after. It will perhaps take years and several leaders for significant change to happen. However, we cannot only expect them to make the change.

Too often, change is thought of as the result rather than the action. I guess it is time we turn things around.

Well, that’s it for this critic – for now.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Book Review: Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game

One of the first books I almost swooned over with delight after reading is a book entitled “Master of the Game” by Sidney Sheldon. This was my first adult novel after weaning off reading Nancy Drew paperbacks and fantasy novels about dragons.

In this novel, our protagonist is the indomitable Kate Blackwell who has built a business conglomerate with her wealthy inheritance, which all started with her father, Jamie McGregor, hunting for diamonds in South Africa. The book is about family politics and being the next “master.” As the story moves along, we see Kate unconsciously manipulating her families lives, proving that she is the only one true master of the game.

Now here are some notable things (spoilers even) about the novel.

It all starts with Jamie McGregor looking for diamonds on the ground surface. This could just be in Mr. Sheldon’s head, but the prospect of not having to mine but simply pick diamonds off the sand as you would a sea shell is very interesting. If there were such a place, I’d like to know how to get there.

Second, they say a mother’s love for her children is unique, but even mothers and their children have their quarrels that sometimes led children to replace love with the word hate in the famed three-word sentence. But how far can a son’s hatred for his mother go?

Tony has a passion for painting which his mother, Kate, is against. When an expert artist gives him a bad review, he stops painting for the rest of his life in disappointment. What’s interesting is that in another part of the world days later, Kate hands over a check to said expert. It doesn’t take much thinking to deduce what she paid him to do. Eventually, this, along with many other plots his mother has pulled becomes known to Tony. So he goes crazy after doing what he thought he’d never do in his life – pulling the trigger of a gun pointed at his mother. However, it doesn’t kill her as he had intended.

At this point of the story, I was sure that Tony is worst than Oedipus who unknowingly had sex with his own mother. However, while both felt guilty, one simply went crazy and the other poked his eye out. Regarding this, I definitely can’t tell who met the worse or more pitiful end.

Third, Kate raises Tony’s twin daughters as he is not in the right mental condition to be a father to them. We’ve heard of sibling rivalry before. But can you imagine a five year old try to kill her twin sister out of jealousy by lighting her nightgown on fire? Bet you can’y. Perhaps, it was cruel for Mr. Sheldon to have thought of this. But it made the story interesting, I’d have to say. A real shocker.

Indeed, the turn of events in this thriller of a novel had me turning the pages while wishing for at least a couple of days to be like one of them vampires from Twilight who didn’t have to sleep. I’d recommend this novel to anyone up for a fast paced thriller with many twists and turns. Sidney Sheldon is anything but predictable. He is the master of the unexpected.

I loved the novel so much I wished it was made into a movie so that I could see and revel in the action. And lo and behold. Youtube has turned up just what I was looking for. It was made into a mini-series.

Here is a preview 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Book review: Phillip Margolin’s “Wild Justice”

I have taken a liking to investigation and mystery stories ever since I was introduced to Nancy Drew. But in a recent book I’ve read, the investigation is a lot more serious than the cases Nancy Drew often merely stumbles upon.

In Philip Margolin’s thriller, Wild Justice, the city of Oregon is haunted by numerous murders by a serial killer whose methods of torture go beyond the borders of humane acts. Surgeon, Vincent Cardoni, is eyed as the person behind the deaths of beheaded victims and others left dismembered.

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Frank Jaffe, distinguished lawyer and defender of Cardoni, successfully keeps him out of jail despite the overwhelming evidence against him. Frank’s daughter, Amanda Jaffe, grows uneasy thinking his father saved a man who should be damned in prison after Cardoni suddenly disappears.

Four years later, the same killings occur. Is Cardoni dead? Is he really innocent of his alleged crimes or is he really behind these murders? A wild chase for justice commences as young lawyer Amanda, sets out to hunt the man down

Fast-paced, exciting and mind boggling – Wild Justice has all the characteristics of a good thriller. Moreover, it gives the reader a delectable account of court proceedings. It’s amazing how witty lawyers are (and have to be). I found myself wishing I did as well as Frank Jaffe did during cross examination in my speech class. But I guess their job becomes tough when they are to defend criminals who are better off convicted.

And of course, the bad guy turns out to be the person you least expect him to be. As I flipped the pages and devoured every word, I played a guessing game with myself just to test if I could beat the investigators to it. I did!

For those who haven’t read Philip Margolin or any crime stories and legal thrillers, this would be a good place to start. I’ll definitely be reading more of Margolin’s books.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

“Excellence is not optional”

Excellence is not optional. It is obligatory. Of all the homilies I’ve heard recently, these words left by a priest struck me the most. There is truth to it, isn’t there? As parents would want their infant children to grow up to be the best they can be, God created us expecting greatness from us. A song says “You raise me up to more than I can be.” It is therefore against God’s wishes or any parents’ that we remain complacent and be plagued with mediocrity.

At school, next to a diploma, it seems that it is all about excellence. Excellence is what students all endure sleepless nights and hard lessons for. However, some just simply remain a mere admirer and an aspirer whose words never go beyond “I wish.” Some settle for “that’s enough” and remain a dreamer.

Indeed, the pursuit of excellence is tough. We all know it so much so that sometimes we’re intimidated by it – scared even of failing to attain it.

But here is another thing I got from the homily. Excellence should not be looked at in the context of competition and outdoing one another. What then?

Just as it has been said that life is not measured in years but in deeds, it should not be a matter of who gets more medals of honor. It is simply striving to be the best we can be. We may never get to the point when we would become award winning musicians or Nobel Prize winners. But giving it all our best would surely make God smile. As we’ve surely all have heard, the journey is far more important than the destination.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in Uncategorized