Monthly Archives: March 2012

Spanish Curiosity

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For a long time, I had this urge to study Spanish. But it is only recently that I made actual steps to start learning the language.

What is it about Spanish? Well, my first language, Tagalog, comprises of several Spanish words. I know how to count in Spanish even without taking Spanish lessons. From dining – cuchara, tenedor, vaso – to religious event and holidays – (Semana Santa, Todos los Santos) , Spanish words are used.
It’s no surprise because our country, the Philippines was colonized by Spain for over 300 years. But Filipinos never fully adapted the language. Only some areas that speak Chavacano are actively using Spanish, albeit not full, as Chavacano is considered to be broken Spanish.

Spanish used to be a compulsary course requirement for college students but this was removed from the curriculum. I think what happened was, there was no base for the use of it, as no media was used to sustain it – no newspaper, radio show or television show.

But it is a sad thing because Spanish is a big part of our cultural influence. I even found a website which promoted the use of Spanish to Filipinos, though unfortunately, the site is outdated. In one article on the site written by Gemma Cruz-Araneta, it said, “In my opinion, it is imperative that Filipinos should have at least a reading knowledge of Spanish, simply because most of the works of our heroes were written in that language. As we all know, a lot is lost in translation, so if we fail to read and understand these works in their original, we will never know how and why we are Filipinos, or what it really means to be a Filipino.” And I agree, because we should be able to read our heroes great works in their original form.

Recently, there are initiatives by the Philippine government to revive Spanish in the school curriculum, but only on selected areas. I read it in this article by Manila Bulletin: 2 Davao schools to teach Spanish.

English-Filipino-Spanish book

It is also heartening that a Philippine publisher had a book published named “English-Filipino-Spanish Vocabulary”. I bought this book at a local bookstore for $1.00.

 Some years back, I bought a Spanish beginners course on sale. Now that I have some free time, I thought of browsing it, but reading the book and listening to the accompanying CD was not as engaging as I expected it to be.

But the good thing is, I came across a blog entry by Tim Ferriss which gave tips on how to learn another language and I have been following some of his advice. He said to read materials of the language of your choice, on topics which YOU LIKE. For me, I thought of three topics (actually two): showbiz and photography. I searched the internet and found three sites to my liking: PEOPLE Magazine (Spanish edition), Noticias Glee Latino (Glee news – Latino), and PUNTO Magazine (a bilingual photography online magazine). So far, I am picking up words while trying to read the articles.

It also helps that our cable subscription has TV Espanol (TVE), so once in a while I watch shows on this channel. For radio, there’s a free Spanish radio station that streams their broadcast. This is Radio Nacional de España (RNE).

I’m still in the dark of where I can use Spanish in the future. Maybe when I go on a trip to Latin America or Spain, the answer will be clearer. But right now, the curiosity remains.


P.S. I hope my gal friends and fellow sabawdiaries bloggers – purplepoint and misscarlotta1924 – would join me on this Spanish learning expedition. We have discussed wanting to learn this language in the past. Join us, too, sherrymoon2011. 😉

One of the best books on establishing relationships: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

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I recently read this highly popular and highly-acclaimed book by Dale Carnegie.

This was written in the 1930s and further editions were published later on.  Despite of this, the content is still very relevant. I realized this because human nature never changes.  We want people to approach us in a nice way and not hot-tempered.

The book is divided in four parts: Part ONE is Fundamental Techniques in Handling People; Part TWO is Six Ways to Make People Like You; Part THREE is How To Win People Into Your Way of Thinking; Part FOUR is Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment.

I find Parts three and four most interesting. Part four is the most informative for me. I have tried some of his tips and to my delight, I received positive results so far. Of course, I know at times these won’t work because of different personalities I will encounter.

Mr. Carnegie uses humor and a lot of stories, mostly of leaders of his time, which makes this book quite dated. But aside from that, I can say that this book is a gem!

Of Political Parties, Clientelism, &Fostering Real Democracy

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The value of having the right to suffrage is mislaid in “patronage politics” (Kitschelt & Wilkinson, 2007), in that political parties utilize what is meant to be a democratic act as a means to manipulate voters into electing the more charismatic albeit having programs that are “diffuse and erratic” (ibid.).

As such, it results in a travesty of democracy through deep-seated clientelistic linkages. People are not being trained to scrutinize candidates based on their platforms and programs apropos to the candidate’s character. We are tricked into eyeing contenders according to the force of their programs and their personality thus subverting the urgency of credentials and integrity.

Different parties have different target groups and in the case of the Philippines, candidates clamor for the vote of the poor, as they constitute the majority of the land. The challenge is, who can mirror more the profile of the poor or who is more seemingly compassionate to the poor though the candidate be educated and wealthy?

Clientilism is sly, and in the same manner, as mass media is utilized as a major machinery of politicians to draw more votes in their favor, it, too should be made use of as a means to dismantle old practices in choosing who to vote for. One practical way that comes to mind are simple infomercials that may include a checklist for people to consider, one which people from all educational backgrounds can grasp, which will undermine voting candidates who more or less offer promising agenda with little track record consistency. In light of institutional reforms, I firmly believe that there should be regulation of mass media networks and companies on candidate commercials aired, on television and on radio. Presently, media companies do not decline the release of such commercials, being the profit-making enterprise that they are. With government regulation, given that the government agencies designated to such a task is non-biased, the media can instead be used to advance voter education.

The beginnings of the patron-client relationship

Patronist techniques are rife. This being the case, as not everyone can be drawn to read texts or literature on how our democracy is misplaced through such tactics, what would be the most viable tool/s to educate the voter? I have personally found that viewing the profile of candidates through the Internet published in non-profit sites that evaluate the candidate according to his or her political track records as useful. Such websites are those created by organizations that advocate better knowledge about candidates and are therefore much more reliable than the websites that were made by the candidates’ campaign team. Newspapers are also a great source for write-ups on running candidates during election season; the perspective is more or less unbiased. Rather than relying on TV ads, which have become the convention that is banked upon by contenders and the most accessible means to the public, as voters, it is imperative to seek out other means by which we  would be educated of an election candidate’s profile that is closest to reality  to guard from becoming easy prey to political campaign tactics ubiquitous during election season.