Archive for the Uncategorized Category

To my muse

Posted in Uncategorized on June 11, 2016 by Rica Cristina Baldomar

I love how your face lights up every time I tell you that you’re beautiful.

It startles you. You get this surprised smile and your eyes sparkle. You then shake your head as if you want to negate what I’ve just said.

When we were still new it would stun you every time I told you that you were beautiful. Without thinking you would say, “No, I’m not”. I would then go on to list down the many different ways how you ARE beautiful. These conversations would normally take us hours before you would finally shrug it off and just say, “Only in your eyes”.

After a few months the “No, I’m not”s became “So are you”. Every time you would say this I would tell you that the conversation isn’t about me, it’s about you. I would tell you to just take in what I just said, instead of answering back.

These days, whenever I say these words to you, you just shake your head at me. But one thing doesn’t change: the way you smile whenever I do tell you how beautiful you are.

I love looking at you. I love the way you smile. I love the way you move. I love color of your skin. I love your hands. I love your eyes. I love your lips. I love your curves. I love every single inch of you. You are the most beautiful woman in my world I will never stop telling you how beautiful you are. You are my muse.

 

 

Thoughts of Death

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2016 by Rica Cristina Baldomar

At this time last year I had a set routine. I would wake up, eat, clean up a little, bathe, and then work. When work ended at night time I would watch a series or do a bit of ironing. Then I’d go to sleep. Wake up the next day and do almost the same exact thing. There would be times when I wouldn’t be able to step out of the door for days. I think my longest streak was 10 days.

My interactions with people were limited to my online students, the people inside this house, and occasionally my neighbors. The only outsider I saw regularly (once every few weeks) was my best friend. I was numb. Dead inside. The only thing keeping me then from putting a bullet into my head was the thought that I still had to pay off the debt I had accumulated when my father died. I told myself that I could die when I had paid off everything.

I had a plan set as to how by the end of 2016 I would be cleared of all liabilities and free to off myself. Then I got a call. And things changed.

There are still days when I want to kill myself. I would be slicing something and then I would think that it would be so easy to place the knife against my jugular. With a flick of the wrist I’d bleed out. Or I would be walking on the road and I’d see a big truck ambling by. All I’d have to do is make dash for its wheels and my brain would splatter on the pavement. Or I could walk into the sea and let the tides take me.

I still want to die. But now I have to consider that there would be someone who would see my death as more than an inconvenience.

Case Study on First Language Acquisition

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2014 by Rica Cristina Baldomar

I. Executive Summary

            Children seem to go about acquiring a language on their own without any form of formal education. Those who believe in the Nativist Theory put this down to LAD or Language Acquisition Device. Said device is innate in all human beings and is found in the brain. It allows for people to acquire the language without anyone having to teach them. This is supported by the idea of the child’s competence and performance in language. Most children are already competent in the language early on but have not yet the physiological capacity to perform their said competence. They do try and this can be seen in how good imitators they are. First it begins with them using Surface-Structure Imitation which would be imitating the utterances they hear without truly understanding them but later on they are able to do Deep-Structure Imitation where their imitation of the utterance pays attention to semantics. The linguist Jerome Bruner agrees with most of the key points of Noam Chomsky’s LAD. But he (Bruner) pointed out that while as the child is central in the acquisition of his or her native tongue, other factors must also be brought into play. These factors would fall under LASS or Language Acquisition Support System. This would mean that environment figures into the language acquisition of the child. The child would first become aware of language from his or her caretakers who speak to him or her. And it is from these people that surround the child that said child imitates from. He or she imitates the sound he or she hears when his or her caretaker talks to them. And their competence in the language develops and shows with them being able to understand what is being spoken to them even before they can perform (talk).

            To be able to see said phenomena and validate either LAD or LASS, the researcher conducted this case study. The researcher made observations based on her interactions with the case study subject, a little girl who was not yet two at the beginning of the study. After recording her observations, she then consolidated these with what she had learned from the review of related literature. The researcher was able to find out that the LAD is not as infallible as its advocate would have one believe. There are loopholes to it and can almost say controversies. LASS on the other hand has prove to be a sound theory and while as it does not totally disregard LAD, neither does it give it full credit.

            The researcher recommends that parents become more aware of the child’s environment seeing as this has an impact on the language they acquire. Children are good imitators and sometimes imitate the things they do not understand. And there are times that this means that the child will pick up negative language which is why it is always important for one to be careful about what they say around children.

 II. Introduction

            It was Frank Jennings that said ‘language reflects the ability of the human mind to abstract, to take out of an experience those aspects which the mind considers essential, and then use what has been abstracted to stand for the total act or experience’. Language is used for communication and is mostly made up of sounds. It is essentially human and has developed alongside man. It makes the accumulation of knowledge possible and is the reason man has become as advanced as he is now.

            But language did not just pop from the ground fully formed. Rather, it has evolved with the passing of time, the same way that man has evolved through the ages. And has communities met, merged and diverged, people acquired and learned different languages which allowed them to communicate with the people around them. The language that people used to communicate with other communities was and is called the second language. This is something that people learn as they go along. Learning is optional and there are people who go about their entire lives using only their source language.

            What is a source language? This is the first language the person learns; also called their mother tongue, native language and first language among other things. This is the language of childhood, a person’s mean of communicating before he or she became aware that language is something that can be learned. It is interesting to study the development of the first language in young children because this gives the researcher an idea of how a person goes about acquiring a language without anyone really giving them formal instruction. There are many theories concerning how a child acquires a language and it will be an eye opener to look at some of them.

 III. Literature Review

1. Biological Factors

Module 3, Language Acquisition Theories, Principles and Research by Lorenzo Q. Orillos

             According to Noam Chomsky, “man has the genetically imparted ability for language learning”. Language is seen as something innate to humans and many a scientist have claimed that humans are genetically wired to learning a language. The chapter on biological factors found in module three of Orillo’s book deal with the factors that are related to a child’s first language acquisition. Some of the factors presented in this module stand out amongst the others and are considered more relevant to this case study. These are:

            A. LAD (Language Acquisition Device)

The Nativist theory said something along the lines of ‘every human being is born with a built in device of some kind that predisposes us to language acquisition’. Noam Chomsky (1965) further added to this. He ‘claimed the existence of innate properties of language to explain the child’s mastery of his native language in such a short time despite the highly abstract nature of the rules of language’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997). This so called knowledge is said to be embodied in a “little black box”. It was David McNeil (1966) who gave this concept a name and called it the Language Acquisition Device (LAD), which is made up of four linguistic characteristics. These are:           

‘1. the ability to distinguish speech sounds from other sounds in the environment.

2. the ability to organize linguistic events into various classes which can later be refined.

3. the knowledge that only a certain kind of linguistic system is possible and that other kinds are not.

4. the ability to engage in constant evaluation of the developing linguistic system so as to construct the simplest possible system out of the linguistic data gathered.’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997)

             This device is said to be found in the left side of the brain, which deals with language functions. Learning about this function of the brain is relevant to the study because it gives the researcher the knowledge that every human being is capable of acquiring language, it is now only a matter of the kind of language acquired. The idea of the LAD answers the question of how people acquire a language even without the benefit of formal teaching. And although there are certain issues concerning this concept, what with the assertion of advocates of the Behaviorist theory that, ‘a child acquires/learns a language through a process of conditioning and reinforcement’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997); the concept of the LAD at least gives a partial explanantion to the acquisition of language.

            B. Competence and Performance

            Orillos poses the question, ‘how can one really determine the linguistic competence of an individual especially of a child?’ To be able to answer this, one must first define competence. In the world of language, competence would ‘refer to one’s underlying knowledge of a system, event or fact’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997) or in other words, ‘one’s knowledge of the language system itself’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997). This would be in contrast to performance, ‘the overtly observable and concrete manifestation or realization of competence’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997) which basically means giving a show to show that one knows. To go back to the question, Orillos answers himself with ‘children may already have linguistic competence even before they show linguistic performance since their performance is greatly affected by the development of their speech mechanism’.

            C. The Role of Imitation

            It is common knowledge that children like to imitate the people and things around them. It also commonly known that children are good at imitating and so Orillos conclusion that ‘imitation is one of the most important strategies a child uses in language acquisition’. This is backed by research which states ‘that echoing is an important, salient strategy in early language development and an important aspect of early phonological acquisition’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997). There are two types of imitation identified:

            1. Surface-Structure Imitation – This is considered to be the manifestation of the earliest stages of language acquisition. What happens is that the person repeats and/or mimics what the other person is saying, with their attention focused on the sounds being produced and not what is actually being said to them. One can observe babies doing this. The reason behind this is that ‘the baby may not possess the necessary semantic categories to assign “meaning” to utterances’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997). In other words, this is what happens when young children or toddlers try to say back what adults say to them.

            2. Deep Structure Imitation – the child at this stage is ‘concerned about the truth(sic) value of his utterances and not in the “correctness” of the forms of language’ (Orillos, Biological Factors, 1997). This is what happens when the child begins to understand the importance of the semantics of language and that words have actual meaning.

 2. Learning Language

By Timothy Mason

            This lecture identifies two ways in which a child may acquire a language. The first would be through Noam Chomsky’s LAD or Language Acquisition Device which claims that language is innate in all human beings, or another way of putting it would be that ‘we are born with a set of rules about language in our heads which he (Chomsky) refers to as the Universal Grammar’… which is ‘the basis upon which all human languages build’ (Timothy, 1993-2002). The second would be Jerome Bruner’s LASS or Language Acquisition Support System. This support system would be made up of the child’s family and those around him or her. LASS claims that a child first becomes aware of langugae through his or her caretakers and with the passing of time acquires the language for himself or herself. As with LAD, LASS still sees the child as the main component in the acquisition of the first language. The difference lies in the fact that with LAD, environmental factors do not really have an impact on the acquisition of language while as in LASS, the social conditions where the child has been placed plays a pivotal role in the said child’s acquisition of the mother tongue.

            The two concepts both acknowledge that language acquisition is within the child’s potential. The difference though is that LAD puts language acquisitions solely into the hands of children while as LASS figures the child’s support group into the equation.

 IV. Methodology

             According to the suggestions of the faculty-in-charge of the class, the ideal subject for the L1 learner case study would be a child who is between the ages of two and three. After all, it is around this age when a child begins to show noticeable advancement in learning their first language. As stated in the case study profiles, the subject for this case study is Amisha Dominique Ganancial Lachica who had not yet turned two at the beginning of the study. The subject was selected for reasons of accessibility and convenience for the researcher. For one thing, there were no young children in the immediate vicinity of the researcher, who lived in an area mostly inhabited by college students and older couples with grown children. There is also the fact that there are only a few people with young children in the circles the researcher moves in. Another reason would be that the researcher knew the subject’s mother well which meant that the researcher had access to the subject at any given time. And although the researcher only got to see the subject every other weekend due to the distance and the state of transportation in the subject’s area, this is not seen as set-back but rather as a convenience because it allowed the researcher the chance to step back and note the differences in the subject’s language skills at their every meeting.

            The data was collected through interactions with the subject, videos recorded by the mother, which she gave to the researcher and interviews with the parents of the said subject. Most of the researcher’s interactions with the subject happened within the subject’s home, with either or both of the parents present to facilitate since the subject displayed stranger’s anxiety towards the researcher and while was able to overcome said anxiety later on, still cried when her parents where gone from the room for prolonged amounts of time. Some of the interactions though, were through cell phone calls made by the mother to the researcher where the researcher and subject were able to talk and; through online video calls where the researcher and the subject could talk and at the same time see each other. During these occasions, the subject was more talkative as compared to when the researcher and subject interacted face to face. The subject’s mother would also sometimes take videos of her daughter, whenever the opportunity arises. The researcher was also able to interview the subject’s parents about the subject’s behavior and more details about her. Again, the researcher’s decision on how to collect data was influenced by accessibility and convenience. The subject was available to the researcher whenever the researcher’s and parents’ schedule allowed it. It is for these reasons that the researcher was able to interact with the subject in the comforts of the subject’s home. The decision to interact via cell phone and the internet was prompted by the fact that the subject was more willing to talk during these times (thanks to conditioning) and; by the researcher’s schedule which gave her the chance to visit the subject’s home only every other weekend. The researcher also interviewed the parents in informal sit-downs as to find out more about the subject’s behavior when she is not being consciously observed. This is so that the researcher is able to learn more about the subject’s background which would affect how the research would be concluded.

                The researcher then chose from portions of the main source of the course (Lorenzo Q. Orillo’s Language Acqusition Theories, Principles and Researches) which she found relevant to the case study and reviewed the said literature. The researcher took note of key points which she would incorporate into her observations of the subject. The researcher also went in the internet to look for supplemental materials.

            The researcher then integrated what she had learned from the literature with her observations from her interaction and commenced with the writing of the report.

V. Analysis

            The study of language is a fascinating endeavor. As Susan Langer would put it, ‘Language is without a doubt, the most momentous and at the same time most mysterious product of the human mind’. Despite the years of observing how language is acquired, researchers have as of yet gained the capability to explain the many phenomena surrounding language. From the case study though, the researcher has made a number of observations, in connection to the concepts touched on in the review of related literature.

            It is a common observation that babies are able to distinguish voices and as they grow older, words. At around a year old, children begin to string nonsensical syllables which many conclude to be the children’s attempt at speaking. At around two they are able to say a few basic words such as ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ and contract certain words or group of words like instead of saying ‘saging’ they will say ‘sging’ or instead of ‘Tito Aki’ they will say ‘Taki’. There are also some children at around this age who can begin to speak in whole sentences with only slight lisps or verbal tics. Now one might wonder at how the child has acquired language up to this point, considering that he or she has not been given a formal education in this. And when one has a chance to think about it, it does make one wonder how a child is able to this feat. The logical conclusion that the observer will make is that the child is able to acquire a language because language is innate to human beings; that human beings must be hard-wired by nature to acquire language. And it is at this point that one thinks that LAD validates itself.

            But the researcher’s observations of the case subject show that LAD cannot wholly be given credit for the child’s acquisition of a language. For while it might be innate in humans to pick up language, they must have picked it up somewhere; and that somewhere would be the child’s immediate surroundings. Opportunities for language use must be presented for the child to be able to acquire a language. The case study has the potential to acquire language, but she must acquire it from somewhere. In her case, she would have picked up her language from her constant companion, her mother. The mother would teach words to the subject and speak to her and from these constant demonstrations of language; the child would have acquired her own repertoire of it.

            And since observations have shown that it is through the subject’s environment that she was able to acquire her mother tongue, it can be said that this would be an application of LASS. The subject does not just depend on her language acquisition device to attain fluency in her mother tongue but also on her language acquisition support system as well.

            LASS would then consolidate with the role of imitation in the acquisition of language. There have been instances when the researcher has heard the subject say swear words, which surprised the mother and the researcher at that time. The subject said the words while laughing and clearly had no idea what they meant. This would be a prime example of Surface-Structure Imitation where the subject is more concerned in being able to make the sound rather than finding out what the words meant. This would be another prime example of LASS where the subject picked up the words from her surroundings, and in this case, from her playmates that use swear words.

            The researcher’s observations have also come to show supporting evidence to Orillo’s ‘children may already have linguistic competence even before they show linguistic performance since their performance is greatly affected by the development of their speech mechanism’. The subject is shown to understand instructions and queries despite not being able to give a full response. The subject understands that when her elders say ‘indi’ (no) it means that she is to stop whatever it is that she is doing. The subject is also able to point out her body parts when asked to despite not being able to say the words herself.

 VI. Conclusions and Recommendations

            Although the LAD (Language Acquisition Device) has some points, the researcher’s observations have come to show that it is not beyond questioning. The idea that each person has it in their nature to acquire language is a sound idea. But the premise that the acquisition of a language is all thanks to that said device found in the brain leaves questions unanswered. Such as how is it then, that each child acquires their own unique interpretation of the mother tongue? Or the fact that children pick up words from the people surrounding them?

On the other hand though, the researcher has been able to confirm the validity of the LASS (Language Acquisition Support System) which states that environment plays a part in the language acquisition of a child. The Language Acquisition Device does exist, but it is not solely responsible for the child’s acquired language. As Timothy Mason would say, ‘every LAD needs his LASS’. And so the LAD is not enough. The child’s environment will and must also figure in the child’s acquisition of the language. It is for this reason that the researcher recommends that the parents monitor the child’s immediate surroundings. Children will pick words up from the people around them and like in the case of the subject might learn swear words from her playmates. After all, children are very good imitators and will imitate what they hear without fully understanding what they just heard.

 VIII. References and Appendixes

            Videos:

  1. Video 1 and Video 2 – First meeting with the case study subject. The subject meets the researcher for the first time and acts shy around her. The subject at this point feels stranger’s anxiety and will not interact with the researcher unless the mother is around.
  2. Video 3 and Video 4 – The researcher’s second visit to the case study subject’s home. The researcher at this point had already interacted with the subject via cell phone calls and so the subject is no longer quite apprehensive to be around the researcher. What happens instead is that the subject does not really pay attention to the researcher, to the point of ignoring her.
  3. Video 5 – Video 9 – The researcher arrived bringing the subject chocolate bread, which she liked. The subject was very talkative and showed the researcher her new toy.
  4. Video 10 and Video 11- These videos were taken by the mother one afternoon when she was trying to get the subject to take a nap. The subject did not want to sleep because she was busy playing.
  5. Video 12 – This video was taken the day before the subject’s second birthday.
  6. Video 13 – This video was taken as the subject was passing by Jollibee, her favorite place to eat.
  7. Video 14 – This video was taken when the subject was watching television with her mother while playing at the same time.
  8. Video 15 – This video was taken during the time of the subject’s hospitalization due to severe skin allergies. She had just taken her shots and her mother was playing with her to distract her from her earlier crying.
  9. Video 16 – This video was taken with only the mother and the maid where present with the subject.
  10. Video 17 – This video was taken just after the researcher had left with the mother’s other friends.

Works Cited

Mason, T. (1993-2002). Learning Language. Retrieved Februaury 4, 2013, from Timothy Mason’s Site : http://www.timothyjpmason.com/WebPages/LangTeach/Licence/CM/OldLectures/L1_Introduction.htm

Orillos, L. Q. (1997). Language Acquisition Theories, Principles and Research. Quezon: UP Open University.

 

Bibliography

Hermosa, N. N. (2002). The Psychology of Reading. Quezon: UP Open University.

Mason, T. (1993-2002). Learning Language. Retrieved Februaury 4, 2013, from Timothy Mason’s Site : http://www.timothyjpmason.com/WebPages/LangTeach/Licence/CM/OldLectures/L1_Introduction.htm

Orillos, L. Q. (1997). Language Acquisition Theories, Principles and Research. Quezon: UP Open University.

 

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A Contrapuntal Reading of History

Posted in Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 by Rica Cristina Baldomar

In Post-colonial studies, a concept called contrapuntal reading exists. As defined by Eduard Said in his book Orientalism, contrapuntal reading “involves a simultaneous awareness, both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories (emphasis mine) against which (and together with which) the dominant discourse acts”. That is to say that while we may have a history which is considered the canon for teaching school children in the elementary and secondary level, we as of the academe must be aware that other versions of the canon history exists. And this trend of the canon/metropolitan history versus the other existing versions of history is a polar opposition most prevalent in post-colonial countries like the Philippines, who was placed under Spanish occupation for more than three hundred years and up till today is still feeling influences of the once occupying culture.

            A sad thing which we must realize about our history is that most of it has been written by the powers which have occupied us. They have distorted and manipulated history to serve them and the most ideal examples of these are the histories written by the frailes wherein they were able to make it seem that before the coming of the Spaniards, the Filipinos did not have any form of culture and hence, history for us only began with the Spanish occupation.

             Funny thing is, even before the term was coined by Eduard Said, the Spaniards who took over our islands were already practicing the concept of Orientalism. Orientalism is ‘relations between discursive formations and discursive domains (institutions, political events, economic practices and processes) and with intersection of knowledge and power’ (Childs & Williams, Said: Knowledge and Power, 1997, p. 98). The staples of oriental knowledge were cruelty, decadence, sensuality, laziness, mendacity, irrationality, violence and disorder. ‘Orientals were rarely seen or looked at: they were seen through, analyzed not as citizens or even people, but as problems to be solved or confined, or – as the colonial powers openly coveted their territory – taken over’ (Childs & Williams, Said: Knowledge and Power, 1997, p. 100).

            And because of the fact that the majority of our history was not even written by those we would consider our own, we have to read between the lines of the texts offered to us by the powers who had once occupied us. This is because the knowledge of our past is not our knowledge but a knowledge which exist because those in power say that such knowledge must exist. As Foucault’s model of power/knowledge goes: ‘one does not occur without the other (emphasis mine); knowledge gives rise to power but it is also produced by the operations of power’.

            Most of the time though, reading between the lines is not enough and because of this, modern (or/and post-modern and/or neo) historians have gone through the route of trying to reconstruct the past by the use of representation. This technique also spills over to literature – as something most prevalent in post-colonial literature – as seen by the proliferation of deconstructed fiction. Unfortunately, the problem with representation is that ‘the way in which discourses produce specific representations of the world’ and that ‘the tendency of any discourse is to elicit forms of knowledge which conform to established paradigms’ (Childs & Williams, Said: Knowledge and Power, 1997, p. 104).

Gudang

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 10, 2010 by Rica Cristina Baldomar

The tip flares, smoke rises.

The trip begins, to reach cloud 9.

The taste of caramel, the scent of chocolate I start to float, I feel so high.

The flare dies out, paper reduced to ashes.

I’m back on solid ground, with the aftertaste of caramel.

The Creole in the Rizal Hero

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by Rica Cristina Baldomar

The Creole in the Rizal Hero

(A reading of Nick Joaquin’s “Why was the Rizal Hero a Creole?”)

 The work by Nick Joaquin, Why was the Rizal Hero a Creole? discusses the main protagonist/antagonist of the Rizal novels: Juan Crisostomo Ibarra a.k.a Simoun the merchant. Nick Joaquin’s premise for his discussion centers on Ibarra’s lineage and his metamorphosis to Simoun.

 Joaquin first makes mention of Maria Clara and questions Rizal’s choice of heroine/damsel in distress. Maria Clara, is the bastard child of Padre Damaso but is raised as Capitan Tiago’s own daughter (the poor man was made to treat the girl as his own daughter, knowing that she was the product of his wife being raped by the lecherous prayle). She becomes the love interest of Ibarra yet there is no consummation of love between the two: Maria Clara is also pursued by another man, Linares; Tiago is reluctant to give over his daughter to Ibarra because Damaso is clearly against the match; Ibarra becomes entrenched in the whole revolution drama and is hunted; when everyone is made to think that Ibarra is dead, she enters the convent; when Ibarra re-emerges as Simoun and tries to spring her out of the convent it is too late, she has already committed suicide due to the strain of Padre Salvi’s lecherous advances. The way Maria Clara was conceptualized by Rizal, made his novels irreverent in his choice of a weak-willed, helpless bastard who commits suicide because she cannot handle the pressure imposed on her. The 1930s tried to gloss over Maria Clara by saying that she was not really a heroine but an object of satire: unfortunately this is negated by the fact that Maria Clara, in no way, resembles a satire (she’s too tragic a figure to be satirized). The thing here is, that while Rizal might have been enamored by her, most of his readers are not. What the iconoclast of today simply do is to reject Maria Clara and all the obscure notions of her as being the symbol of Mother Country.

Maria Clara though, is just an introduction to Joaquin’s discussion – a segue of sorts. As was stated at the beginning of this paper, Joaquin’s discussion centered on Ibarra/Simoun and the idea of the Creole as the main character of the novels. For Joaquin, Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, “offends the racial pride” for he is not an Indio Filipino but rather a Spanish Filipino. Ibarra belonged to the Creole class which used the name Filipino in those days.

The Philippine Creole, according to Joaquin, was not Creole “in the pure sense of the term”. For one thing, the Philippine Creole had more native than Spanish blood, because the Spanish “didn’t come in such numbers as to establish a large community that could intermarry within itself and keep the blood pure”. For another, “even Spaniards who did establish families could keep them Creole for, at the most three generations”. For the Creoles, purity of blood was not really an issue until around the 19th century when the Peninsulares started showing up. Before the Peninsulares started to flock the country the measure of being Filipino (Creole) “was not so much the amount of Spanish blood in their vein as by their culture, position and wealth”. Joaquin goes further to illustrate the idea with an example: “So, a friar’s bastard by a peasant girl might look completely Spanish but would have no status as a Creole, while a man like Ibarra, already two mixed marriages away from a Spanish grandfather, would still be a Creole because a landowner and gentleman”(sic).

As Joaquin would have it, the thing about great writers is that s/he is always writing about her/his times, even when s/he seems to be writing about something else. With this idea in mind, Joaquin established, early on in his discussion that Rizal was not being prophetic and discussing the Revolution of 1896, rather, he was discussing the Revolution of 1872 and looking back on the things that happened then. Rizal, according to Joaquin, was “chronicling the Creole revolution in the Philippines”.

Before the 19th century, “the Creoles were Filipino in the sense that their lives were entirely devoted to the service of the country”. The Creoles’ achievements lies in their keeping the Philippines intact throughout the 200 years when the islands were under threat of invasion from the Chinese, the Japanese, the British and the Dutch. In a sense, Spain acquitted itself from the Philippines because it did its duty as a mother country by protecting us from invasion as compared to the Americans, when less than 50 years after conquering us, we fell to the Japanese.

Everything changed when the Peninsulares began to flood the country. Cheaper, quicker voyage brought the Peninsulares in droves and they usurped the Creoles from the Army, Church and Government. The Creoles were left hanging somewhere between the Peninsulares and Indios and resentment towards the Peninsulares mounted. So begins the Creole Revolution which Rizal was animating in his novels.

During the Creole Revolution, four figures stood out prominently as icons of the school thoughts which circulated during the time. These were Pelaez and Burgos and del Pilar and Tavera. Pelaez and Burgos were eventualists who believed that with sufficient propaganda, reform could be won eventually. The two also thought that the Peninsulares could be expelled without the need for violence. Sadly, eventualism died with Burgos. Tavera and del Pilar on the other hand were filibusteros. The two were affiliated with the Masonic Order and were subversive.

According to Joaquin, the Rizal novels present the two phases of the Creole revolution. The Noli Me Tangere is still in the epoch of Pelaez and Burgos, the eventualists. “Ibarra, who believe that education and propaganda will eventually create a climate of reform, follow the fate of Burgos even to the point of being, like Burgos, implicated in the uprising he knows nothing about”. Ibarra’s “family traces the evolution from the Spaniard to Creole to Filipino”. His line begins with Don Pedro, a Spaniard who comes to San Diego and buys land. He then disappears and his body is found hanging on a Balete tree in his own property. Next is Don Pedro’s son, Don Saturnino who comes to live on the property his father bought. He turns San Diego “from a ‘miserable heap of huts’ into a thriving town”. Then along comes Don Rafel, Ibarra’s father. Don Rafael outrages the Peninsulares “though of Spanish blood, he wears the native camisa”. He defends a native child who was being beaten up by a Peninsular, which landed him in jail where he stays until his demise.

Don Pedro and Don Saturnino are examples of the Creoles, who, after about 200 years of fighting, turn “from arms to plow, from battlefield to farm and shop”. Father and son have the gloom of the frustrated knight who has not been given the chance to play at being hero but have been instead relegated to lesser tasks. Don Pedro goes into business and then commits suicide. Don Saturnino on the other hand turns into a frontiersman, utilizing soldier like qualities, to develop a farm at the edge of the jungle. According to Joaquin, in this instance, “Rizal sees the latter-day Creole as engaged in another conquest, this time of the soil” and “ as long as the Creole was merely defending the land as empire (sic), the land was his but he was not the land’s. But “when the Creole began to work the land himself, he became possessed by what, formerly he had merely possessed”. This is exemplified the third generation Ibarra, Don Rafael who became a part of the land and lost the last vestige of his being Spanish. 

Here, it can also be seen that an attempt is made to ally the Creoles with the Indios. As Joaquin would have it, “Rizal was making an ironic comment on the alliance between the Creole and the Indios: … he makes Elias die to save Ibarra the Creole and it’s Ibarra, not Elias who becomes the revolutionary”.  The funny thing here is that Ibarra never wanted to be a revolutionary: all he wanted was to educate and empower the masses. Unfortunately, the innovations that Ibarra tried to present did not endear him to Peninsulares. It did the opposite. Resentment against him and other Creoles amassed and at the end things turned violent and Ibarra was made to cast off all his innocence and dreams and become an entirely different person. “In the accursed woods where his Spanish ancestor hanged himself, the embittered Ibarra ceases to be a naive Edmund Dantes and becomes a malevolent Montecristo”.

Ibarra, losing everything became Simoun as Dumas’ Edmund Dante became Montecristo. But unlike Montecristo who finds a certain pleasure in exacting revenge, Simoun is unhappy in his quest for retribution. Simoun is “a man who believes salvation can come only from total corruption”. Simoun adhered to the idea that to create one must destroy, kind of like the concept of the Hindu Goddess Kali, the destroyer. As Simoun puts it: “I have inflamed greed… Injustices and abuses have multiplied. I have fomented crimes, and acts of cruelty, so that people may become inured to the idea of death. I have maintained terror so that, fleeing from it, they may seize any solution. I have paralyzed commerce so that the country, impoverished and reduced to misery, may have nothing more to fear. I have spurred ambition, to ruin the treasury; and not content with all this, to arouse a popular uprising, I have hurt the nation in its rawest nerve, by making the vulture itself insult the very carcass that feeds it!”

In Simoun, the reader is made to see that the Creoles also wanted independence and not just liberty. Simoun, like Tavera wanted to destroy all vestiges of what is Spanish in our nation to create a new entity. As Simoun would say: “to make the youth resist these insane cravings for hispanizaion, for assimilation, for equality of rights. Instead of aspiring to be a province, aspire to be a nation”. With Simoun, being the binary opposite of Ibarra, Rizal, as Joaquin saw it to be, able to make a sharp contrast between the two phases of the Creole Revolution.

Those who think of the novels as prophecies think it ironic that while Simoun was all for the revolution, Rizal was vehemently against it. To those, however, who are aware that the novel is a retelling of a revolution already past, the reader sees that Rizal is warning against committing the same mistakes Simoun and his compatriots made: the revolution was just a half-hearted attempt and its potential was not fully realized. Because their hearts was not wholly into it, the revolution failed. Dying, Simon flees and seeks sanctuary with Padre Florentino. Before dying, he makes a confession and offers up his treasures to the priest to use as he sees fit.

As Joaquin would see it, “Rizal seems to annul what he has been saying so passionately, during the novel, through Simoun.  What has sounded like a savage sneering at reform becomes a celebreation of reforms, of spiritual self-renewal. Salvation cannot come from corruption; garbage only produces toadstools”. For Joaquin, Rizal would have the Filipino people “suffer and toil”.

Joaquin sees the Noli Me Tangere as mocking the reformist for being naïve and making the reader see that collaboration will get the nation nowhere. By rights then El Filibusterismo should have been about a revolution that succeeded, but this is not the case. Sadly, the Creole Revolution has failed.

It is interesting that Joaquin has used Alexander Dumas’ Count of Montecristo as a basis of comparison with the two Rizal models. It is interesting because Dumas was Rizal’s favorite writer. The comparative analysis between Edmond Dantes and Crisostomo Ibarra and Count Montecristo and Simoun is quite an insight.

There are some points in the discussion of Nick Joaquin wherein we would like to digress. For Joaquin, the revolution of Simoun failed because it was doomed to failure from the beginning: how can something which was created from hatred succeed? As we would like to see it from this perspective: Simoun attempted to use the teachings of Machiavelli wherein the prince must either completely destroy or not destroy at all. Simoun’s plan had merits but what they lacked was will to have it carried through. Those who were part of the revolution were not fully ruthless and this was their downfall: at the very last moment they decided they had hearts and could not truly destroy those who would stand in their way. Hence, in their moment of weakness they were taken off guard and failed. Simoun might have succeeded if he had not been distracted by the death of Maria Clara. Unfortunately, he was.

It could be said that the novels might have talked of a past failed rebellion. But they could also be prophetic warnings: if you do not have the courage to destroy your humanity and become ruthless in your annihilation of those who stand against you; if you cannot not love; if you cannot truly hate and kill to create love and life you are most obviously doomed to failure.

Filipino Nationalism in the Face of Today’s Glabalization and a little bit on Gloria

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 8, 2010 by Rica Cristina Baldomar

They finished canvassing today and have the declared the new president. Gloria is now out the window and Noynoy in the room. There will be changes to the people governing this country and the alliances which exists will be broken and reforged. People *coughNoynoycough* are talking about how they plan to eradicate all the rottenness of Gloria’s regime and to begin anew. Nationalism, it would seem to many, is on the rise now that Gloria is gone. 

While many believe our ex-president to have brought nothing but heartaches and headaches to this country, I beg to differ. Sure, when you come down to it, not many are a fan of Gloria but that doesn’t meant that she was fascist dictator like Hitler or Stalin or Marcos. Heck, even these guys had a good side and did their countries a favor by becoming who they were. That is of course, before they turned into the power-hungry, freedom hating monsters that the world knows them today: Hitler created a unified Germany and raised it from the ashes of World War I; Stalin stabilized Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution and is a pioneering figure in Communism and; Marcos improved education and revamped the government structure to make it more efficient.

As for Gloria, you might ask, what has she done for us? Is she something we can be proud of or should the people think of her as blight in our history? 

In my fourth year in college, I took this class called Postcolonial Studies. From that class I was able to thoroughly understand a concept I learned from my Literary Criticism class: the idea of deconstructing.  In deconstructing, you go beyond the text to look for what it hides, what it implies. Ever since Lit 121 I have always tried to look beyond what is offered to me, to read the text from a different perspective. After Lit 160, I have come to see that beyond reading the text we also have to look at how we read the text and its implications on our positioning and orientation and where our reading of the text comes from. And so let’s discuss nationalism in this age of globalization and Gloria.

The idea of what is considered nationalistic must be deconstructed. To begin with, how do we define nationalism? For me, I would define it as being for the country. Now what can I mean by saying that nationalism is by being for the country? To elaborate on it, I could tell you that this would mean that your actions would come to define your nationalism. Being nationalistic is not about wearing the Barong or about speaking Filipino (by the way, what exactly do we mean by Filipino? I remember that in high school, I would be fined for speaking in Hiligaynon but when you think about it, isn’t Hiligaynon a Filipino language?). Being Filipino is thinking about what we can do to help the country. When I speak about nationalism, I’m not about to give you some crap about buying Pinoy. And anyone who says working for call centers isn’t nationalistic, well, screw you! For me, to be nationalistic is to be the best of who I am in order to serve the country. Besides, it’s either call centers or unemployment and frankly I would rather this country becomes a hive for outsourcing than us becoming a nation of degenerate bums. The so-called “nationalists” might have lambasted GMA for selling out to the foreigners, but think about it this way: in the ranking for influence in world politics, the Philippines is somewhere in the 30s. There are about 200 countries today and being in the upper 25% of the strata isn’t so bad. We rank this high because our president is willing to kiss foreign ass. How much more nationalistic can you get? You’re willing to debase yourself for the good of the country. Sure, people might call GMA a puppet or tuta ng mga kano, but what the heck! GMA brings in the foreign investors which need to keep our country floating above the poverty line.

Right now, the trend is globalization. As the world becomes one huge global village and national identities become blurred, we must also adapt. Essentializing, is becoming fast obsolete. The idea that there is an essential Pinoy can no longer be applied because to begin with, there is no such thing. That means that the traits which we have always attributed to ourselves: crab mentality, Filipino time, katamaran, gaya-gaya, Fiesta culture, ningas cogon and colonial mentality – to name a few, cannot apply to us alone because these so-called essential Filipino traits, albeit negative ones, are traits which we share with other cultures across the globe. To be nationalistic in this globalized world is to be a better person in every sense of the word. This is because each of us, no matter how different, is a bit of the Philippines. Whatever we do to better ourselves is also doing and being for the country.

This is how I deal with Filipino nationalism in the face of today’s globalization and how Gloria fits into all of this. What do you think?