Do We Deserve This Kind of Graduation?

This article contains a few Filipino words from the interviewee but his message can be understood nevertheless. Original title of the article: “Deserve ba namin ‘yung ganitong graduation?”

Mark Sahagun, 22, felt relieved following the announcement of Mayor Isko Moreno suspending the classes from March 9 to March 15, 2020. Just a few days after defending his architectural thesis, a break is what he needed the most. Little did he know that the class suspension is only the start. As days passed, the government announced community quarantines measures, lockdowns, and eventually affecting their graduation at the PICC supposedly last May 5.

The Start of His Future

Before the lockdown took place on the midnight of March 15 to April 14, Mark went back to his hometown in Laguna. At that time, he was still optimistic that they would have their graduation rites on May 5. But with the continuous extension of community quarantine measures after the lockdown, his dreams of graduating at the PICC did not happen. “Gusto namin na ma-experience ‘yung PICC eh. Isa sa bucket list mo ‘yun na maglakad ka sa PICC.” he stated.

However, the pandemic did not only affect his May 5 graduation but the start of his future as well. While in Laguna, Mark tried looking for jobs through JobStreet and he realized how little his chances are to land a job because he is in a province. He was accepted for a job in Manila but he rejected it. He had a job once when he was still an undergraduate student and he used it as his basis. “Yung ino-offer kasi sa akin lower than the salary [of my previous job]. ‘Yung travel, sobrang layo din. ‘Yung compensation, hindi din okay kasi mas mababa siya compared dun sa first job ko.” He also considered the safety of his family and himself. 

Mark mentioned that during this pandemic, the design industry felt smaller. “Sobrang limited talaga ‘yung possible work. Sobrang swerte mo, if makahanap ka ngayon, and maswerte ka or sobrang galing mo talaga to the point na kahit hindi sila opening, bubuksan nila yung slot for you kasi they want you na mapunta and ma-hire sa kanila,” he stated. “‘Yun lang ‘yung isa sa mga factors na sa tingin ko na iha-hire ka ngayong pandemic.”

With his future looking uncertain and nothing left to do, Mark started his own business, Plaintaire PH, a plants store offering air plants with holders. He felt grateful that amidst the circumstances that constrained him to go outside, he still found an opportunity to help his family financially through an activity that he finds joy in.  

Is This It?

Before their supposed graduation on May 5, there were talks that it would be virtual graduation and since it’s a new thing, they were clueless about what they should do. Some of the graduates took pictures because they thought that the administration will ask for their photos to be inputted on the presentation. However, they did not. They conducted the virtual graduation last September 30 and it looked like it was an ending credit of a film.

Mark spent about six years in PUP because he had to retake Design 10 and that is why he can’t help but be dismayed. “Sa totoo lang in-open ko ‘to kay Ma’am Lutap, “[Ma’am,] deserve ba namin ‘yung ganitong graduation?” Mark shared. ”Sabi din naman niya, we cannot force na magkaroon ng physical graduation kasi nga pandemic. But sa tagal na tinagal niyo sa PUP, hindi ni’yo deserve yung ganoong virtual graduation.” Mark does not degrade the recognition that they received through the virtual graduation but he believes that they deserve better than that. “Meron pa kaming mas dapat na ma-receive na better recognition kasi degree ‘yung tinapos namin.”

They would have been happier if the virtual graduation was a temporary one, Mark suggested, and there would be a real one next year or when the circumstances allow it. They were willing to wait as long as it is in a “deserving ambiance, deserving ritual, [and] deserving rites.” But, the virtual graduation that occurred is already “the graduation”. It’s done. He now shifted his focus on his future.

We All Are In Different Pacings

Currently, Mark focuses on Plantaire PH but still, he wants to use his degree. “Itong lockdown nag open siya sa akin para matulungan ko yung family ko dito sa bahay. Also, na-experience ko din gumawa ng sarili kong business,” he concludes. “It’s one in a million chance na pwede mong i-grab na hanggang ngayon, existing si Plantaire, existing ‘yung business ko and masaya ako dun sa ginagawa ko. But I don’t want to leave my degree kasi siyempre sayang naman ‘yung six years na ginugol ko sa PUP.” He wants to take a risk next year, 2021—if transportation is readily accessible—and look for a job in Manila. Though he knows not to pressure himself too much on finding a job related to his degree but rather, just doing things that he is happy with and is making progress in.

“May kanya-kayang pacing talaga lalo na ngayon pandemic… Keep striving. Keep working basta as long as nagkakaroon kayo ng progress. Its a good thing pero ‘wag din kakalimutan ‘yung mga na-una niyong dreams and in time, magagawa niyo din sila after this pandemic.”

Hospitals in the Eyes of a Mother, and a Cancer Patient

This article contains a few Filipino words from the interviewees but their message can be understood nevertheless.

In this article, narratives of two women who had experiences in hospital environments were shared: one is a mother of a 3-year old, and the second was a patient herself. (1) Jessa Roque-Medina was an intern for Philippine General Hospital and mother of Saab, a three-year-old who was diagnosed with Billary Atresia. On the other hand, (2) Irish Jain, a 20-year-old who had been cancer-free for 3 years now. 

It is not surprising information that spaces inside a hospital, in general, feel cold. It is mainly due to the blank walls and eerie silence that fills most spaces. After spending some time inside hospitals due to chemotherapy and frequent checkups, Irish confessed that there was a time that she had been scared to go to a hospital. She feels like someone’s giving a death sentence somewhere whenever she goes inside, and that thought makes her uncomfortable. Even the seats that lined up on both sides of the corridor—where she had to sit for about 2 hours to see her doctor—add to her growing discomfort as those seats become chilly over time and they make your back ache.

Having gone to India for 18 months for a liver transplant for Saab, Mrs. Medina shared that whenever they are en-route to the hospital from the hotel, as soon as Saab sees the facade of the hospital, she starts to cry. She observed that her three-year-old daughter had developed “trauma sa mga taong naka-scrub suits.” Recently, she noticed that Saab’s reacting differently whenever she is enclosed with a few people in a room (i.e Mrs. Medina, Saab, and someone unfamiliar). Currently, in Manila, Saab starts to plead to her mom to go home whenever she sees the building of the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI). Even as a three-year old, Saab had learned to associate pain to hospitals and people wearing white, but it’s still early to know if it had other impacts on her mental health too.

Private and Public

Although hospitals, in general, feel unwelcoming, unfortunately, as Mrs. Medina concluded, “It always goes and boils down to budget. How much are you willing to pay; that is the exact treatment you’ll get—not medical—pero that’s the exact thing you will get in a hospital.” As a former intern at PGH, she witnessed how beds, beddings, and air conditioners are always inadequate to the crowd of people wanting to get treated. But, she is aware that the environment isn’t exactly the main priority for public hospitals. 

Irish once had a check-up at Philippine Children’s Medical Center last 2017, and one of the reasons why she did not have her chemotherapy there was because of the environment. She described that the hospital is currently under renovation during that time, and the building looks so old. The walls were not blank white walls, but they do not have paint at all. The doctors in the hospital do not have their personal clinics; they were inside a huge room, and the only thing that separates them is curtains. The patients of other doctors were visible, and once it’s your turn, you had to check every curtain to look for your doctor. Although she liked her doctor at PCMC, the environment itself did not make her feel that she can get treated well. Hence, she chose Mary Mediatrix Medical Center, a private hospital near her home, to receive chemotherapy.

Both women mentioned that they feel that they are well-taken care of if they are in a private hospital, but they still feel uneasy inside a hospital.

Coping Up

No one wants to go to a hospital, or even spent a lot of time there, but that is neither an excuse nor a reason to not design an environment that eases psychological tension for patients and their family. 

Saab and her parents had come to the point where they spent six months straight in the hospital in India, and Mrs. Medina suggests that having rooms designed with a homey feeling would be helpful. She also mentioned that accent walls are great additions too. In the past,  Mrs. Medina had her check-ups at St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City and she compared it to a 5-star hotel. Almost everything feels like a hotel, from the chandeliers to the consultation areas of the doctors. But underneath these un-hospital-like environments that make the spaces feel less traumatizing is the cost of treatment. “Siyempre they cannot give a first-class and world-class treatment kapag hindi enough ang pumapasok na income,” she stated.

Having spent time in a hospital when she was 17 years old, Irish highlights the importance of community to her well-being. She did her treatment at a private hospital owned by Catholics (which is good for her because she’s a Catholic as well), and because of the tight-knit religious community, she became close with the nurses. But she suggests having a common room wherein patients can interact and support one another in each other’s healing journeys. Also, the feeling of belongingness has a huge positive impact on a person’s overall well-being. 

Irish described how ecstatic she is whenever she is in UST hospital for her regular checkup, especially if it’s the holiday season. The lobby of the said hospital is adorned with fairy lights and other Christmas decors. She mentioned that the feeling itself inside the hospital changes when it’s nearing Christmas. When it’s not the holiday season, Irish is delighted by all the paintings that hung on every wall. “Dito kasi sa [hospital sa] Lipa, minsan mo lang makikita [‘yung mga painting] tapos sa pediatrics pa siya and luckily, 17 pa lang naman ako nung nagka-cancer, so dun ako sa pediatrics.” she shared.

The Lesser It Feels Like A Hospital, The Better

Watching how her three-year-old daughter developed a trauma after being in hospitals most of the time, Mrs. Medina stated, “The lesser it looks like a hospital, the lesser traumatizing it would be [and] the lesser fearful it would be.” Interestingly, even Irish reached the same conclusion, “[Basically] parang lahat na makakabawas na feeling na you’re in the hospital. Kasi may common na feeling kayo kapag nasa hospital. It is sullen. Parang feel mo lahat ng tao dun may problema. Pero kunwari [kapag] may library, may magandang cafe, parang hindi mo masyadong feel [na nasa hospital ka].” 

Saab is still very young to determine how her experiences in hospitals affected her mental health. On the other hand, Irish had been scared of going to a hospital for some time because it would remind her of her breakdowns— the moment when she learned that she has cancer. Fortunately, Irish began to heal, especially when the environment of the hospital became joyful due to the Christmas decorations. 

The environment has a huge impact on one’s well-being. It can make you feel that you are being sentenced to death, or it can uplift your spirit and can ease a bit of tension that you are feeling. It makes a huge difference being in an environment that makes you feel that you are welcomed, and it doesn’t add to the agony that you are feeling but still allows you to feel joy alongside the distress.

Lessons from History of Architecture: What I Perceive As Truth May Not Be The Truth At All

A huge part of the beliefs ingrained in my subconsciousness is there because I live in the Philippines. I would have a different set of beliefs or truths if I live in Japan or was born in India.

What if I grew up in a Muslim environment?

Taj Mahal, India
Taj Mahal, an example of Saracenic Architecture

If I was born in a Muslim family, I would most probably be a Muslim too and I will grow up going to mosque that are adorned with abstract patterns. Because for Muslims, any form that depict human or animal figure on or in a mosque is considered as idolatry. Hence, their places of worships are always decorated with abstract art. So, if I grew up in that kind of environment, I will consider human or animal statues in a place of worship as idolatry.

What if I grew up in Japan?

If I was born in Japan, I will grow up being surrounded by Shinto shrines wherein statues of animals (like kitsune and shika) stands on the site of the shrines. If I grew up in that kind of environment, I do not consider that I am committing idolatry because I do not worship kitsune and shika. Kitsune simply serves as a guardian of Kamis while shika is a direct messenger to sun goddess, Amaterasu.

What if I was born into a family whose religion is Roman Catholic?

If I was born into a family whose religion is Roman Catholic, I will grow up going to a Catholic Church every Sunday and being surrounded by statues of Jesus, Mama Mary, and other saints. My belief would be that even though there are statues in our church, we do not commit idolatry because the statues serve as a visual reminder and a way to connect. As BBC writes, “Catholics do not worship Mary or the saints, but ask them to pray to God on their behalf. This is known as intercession.” We are not committing idolatry because we know that we are worshipping God.

So what does this all mean?

This essay will not answer the question, who’s beliefs are more right or more wrong because as I was studying the architecture of different countries, I began to realize that what I perceive as truth may not be exactly the truth at all but it is only considered as truth because its what a collective group of people in my area believed in.

My current truths are shaped by the people and the built environment around me. But it may not be the truth at all.

So what’s the truth? Honestly, I don’t know and I have no intention of wasting my energy on finding out what’s the real truth.

But I am writing what I noticed here today because I know that having this kind of awareness—that what I perceive as truth may only be a truth because that is what most people in my location believed in—makes me more empathetic, understanding, and open-minded to other people who do not share the same beliefs as I am. The people who do not share the same beliefs as I am, they grew up in an environment that told them that this is what’s right and what’s wrong, just like how I am, hence I do not have the right to judge them for that because what I believe in may not be even the truth at all.

Culture shapes architecture and the built environment, in turn, is what shapes the beliefs of the future generations of that land. For instance, the Shinto shrines of Japan are established by people who are now centuries dead. But Shintoism is still practiced because the tangible idea of what they practice in the past is still here in the present and hence, they continue to shape the beliefs of the Japanese people.

We are largely shaped by our environment and sometimes, it makes us a bit more kinder if we have that kind of awareness every time we interact with someone.

Noticing: Plumbing-Related Objects In Our Home

You may noticed that the kitchen sink and lavatory both have p-traps underneath, instead of just a straight one. The purpose of these p-traps is to block the smell. If these pipes are just straight ahead, the smell of the discharged liquid will continue to come out of the drain of the sink/lavatory. Hence by curving the tubes, it will block the smell from coming out of the drain.

Also you may have noticed that the p-trap in the lavatory has a little circular on its curved area which is called cleanout. The purpose of a cleanout is—from its name—to clean the tubes. A brush can fit through the area and through that, you can scrub the insides of the tube.

But in kitchen sinks and lavatories, cleanout has another purpose—to obtain an object that fell of the drain. This is another reason why p-traps are important. In case that something valuable fell of the drain (such as ring or earrings) it does not directly go to the septic tank or sewer line or cause problems inside the drainage system, it will end up in the curved part of the p-trap and you can obtain it through the cleanout.

What is commonly known is bidet is actually shutoff spray (though the shutoff spray has almost the same function as the real bidet). Then there is the faucet, floor drain, and water closet (aka toilet!).

I am currently learning more pumbling-related concepts (it is super interesting!!!) and if there is anything that you would like to add or correct from this post, please feel free to comment. I still have a lot more to learn and any new information would be great!

Hopefully this post will encourage you to notice things around your home too!

Things I Noticed in Hayop Ka! As An Architecture Student

Hayop Ka! (‘you son of a bitch!’ in English) is a Filipino romcom animation film produced by Rocketsheep Studio and Spring Films, distributed by Netflix.

The film runs for a bit after an hour but I spent around two hours watching this because I kept stopping it and taking screenshots. I want to understand certain things about the design of the environment and also, the animal puns (which I’ll get into below).

Watching this got me so excited because of the insane amount of details!! And here we go:

Nimfa’s Clothes (Protagonist)

Nimfa is the main character of this animation film and I noticed that her clothes, or should I say, work uniform is what she wore in most scenes of the film and they used the color red to have her stand out in almost all of the scenes. There were a few scenes wherein she wore a bright violet dress. Nevertheless, still allowing the character to stand out.

Nimfa in a corporate tower. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Nimfa in a clinic. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Nimfa with her family. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Nimfa with the rich character. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Still wearing a red clothing even out of work. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
The only time she did not wear any “red” clothing but still stood out. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

The clothes of other characters pale in comparison with Nimfa’s clothes except Jerry’s (the one who she ended up with). I think having neither of the two men wore red throughout the film is a clue that neither of them will be with her in the end. According to someone from Rocketsheep Studio, the end signifies “a new start in her life and her relationship with Jerry did not start as a lust or pursuit of material wealth”

Nimfa and Jerry. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

Environment

The overall environment of the film is influenced by Manila, the capital of the Philippines. It’s like having a bit of a field trip in Manila (the slums as well as the place where the rich are).

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Is this EDSA? Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Quiapo Church in the background. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

Baybayin

On the upper left reads, “Tatas” from the word Patatas (meaning potato) and on the right, the sign of the coffee shop reads “Kahe” or Cafe. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

Baybayin is the alphabet that our ancestors used and although it is not the alphabet that we commonly use today, I saw that they used a bit of it in the film!

Cell Tower

Cell Tower inspired from the Eiffel Tower. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films

This cell tower seems to be one of the focal points as this is somewhat inspired from the Eiffel Tower (since this is a romance film) and it is in red too, similar to the protagonist’s color of clothes (hinting its importance).

Homes & Kiosks

In the film, we see characters that vary in terms of their socioeconomic status.

In the main protagonist’s home, you would see that there is an abundance of items at home and too many colors.

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

And the home of the rich character displays a coordinated color scheme and wideness.

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

In other aspects too, we can see how the animators played with sizes and space to distinguish what is something where the rich go/lives. For example, in the screenshots below, there are two perfume kiosks. The first is what you’ll call a luxury brand while the other is not.

Luxury brand kiosk. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
The not luxury brand. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

In order to give the feel that the first kiosk is a luxury brand, they used size. They enlarged the display to induce the feeling of intimidation and having its own carpet in order to make it “stand out” or better yet, giving a feel that this “kiosk” is different from other kiosks on that floor.

May God Bless Our Trip and others that will give you an idea of Filipino culture

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

May God Bless Our Trip is something that you see often in public transport everywhere in the Philippines and I am so happy they included this lol. Also, it shows how religious we are as a country (in general).

Sale Posters

Sale naman lagi poster on the upper left. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

In malls in the Philippines, sale posters are everywhere and every time. I laughed so hard when I read the poster, “SALE NAMAN LAGI” (WE ARE ALWAYS ON SALE in English)

The heart struck with an arrow tattoo

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

If you are Filipino, there is one moment in your life when you had seen someone with this tattoo. I’m not sure where did this originated but I have seen this tattoo so many times in old Philippine films.

Posters/Banners with a politician name

No Littering poster with a politician name. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films
Banner with a politician name. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films

One thing frequent in the streets of the Philippines (excluding the streets of rich gated subdivisions) is a poster/banner with a politician’s name. It can be a welcome banner, or a reminder not to do “insert bad deed here”. Sometimes, it’s posters for elections.

Animal Puns

Every time I saw animal puns in the background, I paused the film because I want to read and understand them all! And I am amazed by how witty the animators are. I captured a few of them.

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films
“Catinko” from Katinko. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Ibonmaya” from Rivermaya (a Filipino band). Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
“Bisugo” (a fish) from Sogo (a hotel). Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films

Additional:

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

I laughed when I saw the “somewhere in Batangas, Philippines” in the address lol. Someone got too tired to create a fake address or maybe he/she just wanted to add something funny.

Thoughts

If it had been released in theaters, I doubt that it would even get that much attention. But instead, this film was released on Netflix and that’s a good thing for the filmmakers and the whole Filipino animation industry.

Since a lot of Filipinos are now subscribed to Netflix, the Filipino animation industry would not really worry so much whether anyone would watch what they produced because of how easy it is to just watch a movie on Netflix.

My thoughts on the plot of the film is another story. In this post, I just want to celebrate the effort that they put in the smallest of details. They gave their best in recreating Manila and they accomplished that very well.

Honestly, I feel that our animation industry is only just starting and our animators have so much more to offer given enough experience and more budget.

Also, I want to share how exciting it is to write a blog post like this for an animation film that is made by my fellow countrymen. I had done a few Things I Noticed As An Architecture Student blog posts for foreign animation films but this is the first time that I did it for a Filipino animation film.

It’s very different when writing “what I noticed” in animation films that are influenced by my culture and one that is foreign because the former allows me to resonate with it in a way that I would seldom (or maybe not ever) feel in foreign animation films.

Related links:

Things I Noticed in Zootopia As An Architecture Student

Things I Noticed in Over The Moon As An Architecture Student

WE NEED HELP!

So, recently our country, the Philippines, has been hit by Typhoon Ulysses just days after the strongest typhoon of the world this year has hit our country.

I ask for your help either through donations/just simply reblogging or reposting.

Here is the link for general infos on donation drives: https://linktr.ee/YouthRisePH

Our organization set up a donation drive as well. Any amount is appreciated.


I hope that you are having a wonderful weekend.

Advice to my younger self

Whenever I interview someone, I always ask them this question: What is your advice to your younger self?

The way they answer this questions says so much about themselves and how they had lived their life through the years.

And its amazing how your answer to this question varies from time to time and I would like to do one as well. In the future, I, myself, will look back and read this and remember what I value during this day.

• Continue doing your hobbies and follow your interests. Never mind what society tells you what you should do. You are better off and more alive when you choose to do something that you want and this is your life. You decide what to do.

• Just create. Not for the sake of the possible outcomes but for the joy of it. Like what Kurt Vonnegut said, just by doing something, you have experienced becoming and have made your soul grow. So just create.

• Do not reject yourself. Believe in yourself. Yes, you may be anxious, scared, or inexperienced but while you are feeling these things, continue to do. You will feel much much better in retrospect knowing that you have not constrained yourself inside the castle of excuses.

• Lastly, small things and steps do matter. You might feel overwhelmed about starting something so big but just start. You can do anything you set out to do. Also, have faith and be human.

What’s yours?

Use a compass instead of a map

In an episode of Workman (one of my favorite Korean variety shows), they went to a daycare and through that episode, I found out that they rearranged their education system for kindergarteners.

They adapted child-centered education wherein children are free to do and follow their curiosities in the daycare. They can play an instrument, play with toys available in the classroom, they could read a book, etc. Also, I don’t feel that “classroom” is even the right term for their space because it doesn’t look like a classroom at all.

This overall system promotes creativity as well as it builds up this confidence within the kid. In here, teachers do not say “sit still” or “behave”. Rather they encourage them to follow their desires and whatever they found interesting. They aren’t taught to score well during exams or be the best among the block. They promote communal activities (playing games with the whole class) and just being.

Honestly, even I think that kids as young as them should not take exams as soon as they have to go to school/daycare. They are too young to just sit still and I think the best thing that a school can instill in a child is to love learning. As they grow older and started taking exams, they will remember that how you do in a exam is not related to how much you learned.

I hope this could be applied to higher education as well. Personally, I am interested in psychology, biology, history, and journalism. I am currently in architecture program and I hope that there would be ways in which I could take up courses from other programs. Unfortunately, that does not exist yet lol

What I found interesting among a lot of master designers is that they integrates various subjects into their work. Some have took courses from other programs (ex. Steve Jobs), there are others who took up science programs but shifted to a design-related program, etc. Basically, they have knowledge on other subjects and that’s how they are able to design what they are designing right now.

In connection to everything I read, a few months ago this is what I started practicing: I used my hobbies, interests, and desires as my compass and disregarded the “map.” The map is pertaining to the pre-ordained life that society expects me to follow.

Since then, I never felt guilty of not following “the map”, I went my own path, following my inner soul. I read about psychology a lot, I read essays about creativity, I read novels, I read fiction and non-fiction, I write, etc. Anything that I found interesting or what I am curious in, I just follow it. And I never felt so happy and satisfied. Everyday I will learn something new. Gosh. If there is just any option to design my own curriculum, I would. And I would design it in a way that is filled with courses that I am interested in.

Srivinas Rao, author of The Art of Being Unmistakable, wrote about kindergartens and using a compass,

Kindergarten classrooms are utter chaos and true genius at the same time. The potential to discover a calling is available every single day. Then something happens. Somebody decided that you might stray too far off the beaten path, and gives you a map. They decide what is important for your future and these decisions become the destinations on the map.

….However, if I want to do interesting work, take risks, and see what I am really made of, I have to be willing to use a compass instead of a map.

Promoting self-learning and using a compass, allows each and everyone of us to just be ourselves. This is what I missed the most during summer breaks, it is when I just learn things without having to be graded for it.

And if you have been reading my previous posts, I mentioned this quote a few times now but it is amazing how each and every time I wrote this quote, I have something new to add. This is basically how curiosity starts, it starts as a small idea and over time as you search and search, you would have a lot of things related to it already and this is just basically it. This means that I am following my compasses very well.

Here is the quote from Austin Kleon:

“The lives of great thinkers teach us that learning is the verb of life. The trick to lifelong learning is to exercise your curiousity as much as you can and to let it guide you where it wants to go. To pay attention to what you pay attention to. To not worry too much about where things are going to lead. To learn for learning’s sake, not because it’s going to get you something, necessarily, but because you have faith that the things that interest you will help you become who you need to be.

Your interest and your desire and your instincts are your compass. They show you the way.

It’s a hard things to internalize, but once you do, it’s one of the most powerful things. It sets you free.”

Killed By Aswang

Synopsis:

Aswang is a human-eater, half-body character from the Philippine Mythology. In the morning, it looks completely like any human. But in the evening, it’s wings unleashes and goes on to haunt humans only with its upper body. Its lower body is completely hidden away. But again this is a myth. Then, why are there reports that people are being killed by Aswang?

———————————————————————

Note:

Aswang is a character in the Philippine mythology that transforms into a human-eating monster in half-body with wings. 

Ate – is a word used by Filipinos to any woman older than them.

———————————————————————

Cool breeze met my face as soon as I alighted from the tricycle. The sky is in a mix of blue and violet and it is cold- meaning the sun has not risen yet. But the sound of roosters and townspeople outside their houses sweeping means that it is already the beginning of their day.

I guess it’s the start of my research too. I came from the main city, and I have heard reports that there are appearances of an Aswang in this area. I want to find out what I can and write about it for our paper.

I began asking at the first house on my right. Here, houses have no setbacks. They all are wall-to-wall, but they are nice houses. All the houses here have second-floors. Hence, when I asked the lady of the first house about Aswang, women, who were previously sweeping, came into where we were talking. 

“Oh you should not ask here.” one woman said. I heard her voice at the back of my head, so I turned around and faced her. “Why not?” I asked.

“There are no people killed by an Aswang here. It’s always there at the end,” she said while pointing at the end of the street. “When you find a grass clearing on your left, turn right. That is where someone died a few weeks ago.” She continued. I thanked her for her information and went forward to where she pointed.

I sighed in exhaustion. No one in this street seems to want to talk to me about Aswang. They are afraid for their lives. I do not want to be skeptical but isn’t Aswang just a myth? However, I erased the thought in my head. I came here to know about Aswang and not to judge these people. 

I am in my sixth house, and I noticed that it’s the smallest house I have seen from this street. Compared to where I was in the morning, all houses in this street are smaller. They do not have second floors and their houses are not coated with paint. Some are makeshifts from galvanized iron sheets. The house in front of me looks like it’s only one room, and when the door opened, my hunch was right. A circular wooden table is in the center of the house. A few feet at the back lies the sink. Then a little on the right is a door, which I assume is the comfort room.

A woman in her 40s greeted me. Before I can even respond, the woman asked, “Are you here to ask about my son?”

I got ready to disagree when I looked at her completely. Restless eyes, big build, hair tied in a ponytail, and dark crescent shadow under her eyes- this is the woman in the news, the mother of the teenager who died from the Aswang. I knew from the news that she never gave an interview. She never claimed that her son died from Aswang. Her perspective will give light to my skeptical self.

If you want to read the full short story, you can read it for free on Wattpad. My account is clearclaire, I also have other short stories written hehe. It is written in English with a few Filipino words but I made sure to define them from the start.

This idea came right from when I first watched the documentary Aswang, it is generally about War on Drugs in the Philippines. A lot of people are killed and they do not deserve to die regardless if they are innocent or not. Killing people is just inhumane. Also, with the War on Drugs, prisons are more jam-packed than ever. They should have atleast provided people deprived of liberty with decent humane spaces . But they did not.

Also, its interesting how they used Aswang (a character from the Philippine Mythology) as a metaphor for people who are killing civillians. Hence, I decided to write a short story about that.

Learn. Educate yourself. And be with the people.

Rethinking Prisons

Imagine kids going to a school designed like a bunker: drab walls, bare concrete, metal bars everywhere. How can we expect children to learn and enjoy being in school in an environment that isn’t conducive to learning at all? Similarly,how can Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) rehabilitate and improve their behavior if they live in a hostile environment?

According to the Section 2 of the Revised IRR of RA 10575 aka The Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, “It is the policy of the State to promote the general welfare and safeguard the basic rights of every prisoner incarcerated in our national penitentiary by promoting and ensuring their reformation and social reintegration creating an environment conducive to rehabilitation and compliant with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (UNSMRTP).”

However, according to the account of Marco Toral, a former inmate and former consultant for the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), the prison he spent in is anything but conducive to rehabilitation. “I find it very frustrating na wala kang ginagawa. Day in and day out, nasa loob ka lang, nakaupo ka lang.” Marco Toral shared his thoughts during the 7 years that he spent inside a prison.

FULL: https://philippines.makesense.org/2020/10/08/rethinking-prisons/?fbclid=IwAR3rPGT8aO7mHZ5J6ilZbrNJUr_8_IrDq52nONtS21tOHO0ghWcSML-ARNw

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My article is published yey! Anyways, I had an idea for this article around July and I started working for this article mid-August and finished it last month. I almost reject this idea because I have no confidence in writing this article at all. (James Clear: Lack of confidence kills more dreams than lack of ability. Talent matters—especially at elite levels—but people talk themselves out of giving their best effort long before talent becomes the limiting factor. You’re capable of more than you know. Don’t be your own bottleneck.) Good thing I did not. I followed my inner soul even if its scary. It feels good to overcome something— to have done something I thought I cannot do.

This speaks so much to my future endeavors and ideas. This year, I followed my gut more and I had never felt more alive and joyful.

Also, I had read about human-centered prisons around April. And I have come to realize that the prisons we have in the Philippines barely even meet the basic human rights of prisoners. As an individual, I wonder how can I help? And this is something that I tried to answer on the article.

Just a reminder that prisons are built not to punish but to rehabilitate people deprive of liberty. How we treat an individual is how we treat all.