Monday, June 22, 2015

A Game of Thrones for Noobs

"A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward."
It is a quote from George R. R. Martin's 'A Game of Thrones' and it must have hit some subliminal sentimentality in me that it found its way to my notes. Spare me your time that I may make myself clear. After all, to speak your thought is to stir up your inner demons in the hope of slapping some sense into them.
As some of you know by now, the school year started with a sudden change of coordinatorship at the SPA. Not that it was unpredicted. We have dreaded this since March and yet, even in this school culture of throwaway friendships and provisional morality, we hoped for the better (and yeah, how naive this delusion was).
The gossip-mills have done their share of damages by now and though most of my co-teachers at the SPA think that it is a lost cause, I say, the gossips may be damaging but they are not in any way irreparable. I say, repair it with truth.

1. And it all started from winning the Kadayawan, Kalivungan, and Lubi-Lubi Festivals.
         It was a big blessing. It was a bigger curse. And I believe it was a great oversight on everyone's part to have prayed for the blessing so much and forget the curse that come attached, strings and all. The internet was buzzed with all sorts of congratulatory remarks. The streets in Davao, Glan, and Kidapawan were filled with Matinians who teamed together to cheer for the Mati delegation. But at school, many teachers could hardly share the joy. One teacher even told me "Apil ba diay mi ana? Diba SPA ra man inyong gidala?".
         The bad blood between the SPA and the main campus preceded any of this. But the huge successes last year made it into a full-blown, undisguised hostility that I'm sorry to say, is BEYOND repair. I guess because moments like that reveal what a person is made, far more than years of normalcy and routine.
         I have to say it was understandable for some to feel excluded. After all, even though a number of performers were from the main campus, very few teachers actually took part from the preparation until the competition-proper.
      However, it is also understandable for the SPA teachers to just rely on whatever workforce we have. Even in the simplest school program, the main campus hardly shares ardent effort. 
         (Check the program for the coming Foundation Day and you'll see what I mean. Again, facts don't lie.)
         After Kadayawan, everybody suddenly had something to say and we again brushed it off as something cheap and unworthy of reply.
         Somehow, repression or in this case, pretending someone did not say or do something can be VERY destructive in the long run. We share the blame though. In some ways, we helped them carve the path to antagonism by choosing to be quiet and offering very little resistance.

2. You think us lazy and inutile and yet you expect us to respect and obey you.
       You tell people that the SPA students 'graduate nga walay alam' because we don't conduct classes, and yet, who between us get to finish the curriculum content? Who has the better NAT result? Partida na gani ang pila ka festivals ana ha.

         You call us liars within the students' earshot, among others. Did you really think that after months of spending three festivals with the students in the main campus and a couple of years with my SPA students, we have not developed a deep sense of loyalty?
         During the change of coordinatorship, you told us 'naunsa namo diri' like we were an acute case of cancer needing immediate chemotherapy... and 'naunsa na ang SPA', denoting that during our time, the SPA has somehow gone downhill.
         When I started teaching here, NONE of the teachers had a syllabus for any of the art specializations.Today, not only is our curriculum updated and complete, it is also aligned. Something that took 9 years to do and yes, it is us who did it.
         The two things you could be proud of were the Jazz Chant national win and the staging of the Mandaya play which according to the NCIP, was not free from controversies as well. In fact that play is the MAIN reason why we are NOT trusted to deliver Mandaya arts anymore (this is a problem since local culture and arts are the standard content for Grades 7 and 8), or to stage another Mandaya production.

3. The success in any organization and endeavor lies on human resource.
         Heck, treat us human and that would be enough. That means you do not scream at us PMSing or not, especially in front of the students.
         This was also an oversight in the part of the previous Coordinator. I guess it is easy for success to get in the head and forget ALL the people who made that success possible. We were a team and little by little, the teamwork was undermined and it became a one-man show. Some of us, me in particular, failed to see the bigger picture anymore and bowed out.
         I do not regret not joining the Lubi-Lubi Festival in Sarangani or the Aliwan festival in Manila, and every time I start thinking the what if's ---'What if the Kadayawan team lived on? What if we did not lose that same zeal, that same spirituality, that sense of teamwork --- what could've we accomplished?' And then I would remember sewing 16 costumes (head-dress to shoes) by hand for two days, and after staying awake for 48 hours, shouting my lungs off at the grand stand because the organizer declared a brownout during our set and I had a narration to deliver, and then coming home to such toxic feedbacks and I realized - I did the right thing. It just was not worth it anymore.

4. Because they said I was an accomplice.
         Needless to say, there is that issue on money.
     HUGE money = issue of epic proportions.
         Everything is always narrowed down to money. SPOLIER ALERT: This is not MY story to tell. But during the preparations for the Kadayawan Festival, the previous Coordinator went through 'butas ng karayom' because the school did NOT wish to support the undertaking. 
        Let me remind you that she's far from a perfect leader. She can be so annoying at times really. But she happened to accomplish where many others failed. That fact is incontrovertible.

"A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward."
         People partly blamed me and called me an accomplice because I was the one doing the paperwork at school. For the record, most teachers only got one thousand pesos as honorarium for our hard work. Yep, tumataginting na one thousand pesos. LMAO. It was not about the money though. I was the only teacher during the Kadayawan awarding, everyone lost hope and went back to the quarter, and I can tell you, that euphoria I shared with a handful of students who decided to stay could never be bought by any amount of money.
         What exactly did I do?
      I did the project proposal, technically (NEVER any kind of collecting, purchasing or liquidating of anything). Whether my original version or their edited version gets submitted to the City Council is beyond my power to question or know. I also did the typical letters - transportation, fuel, food, the likes. Because even though the choreographer usually gets all the credit, the whole endeavor took a lot of shameless begging and behind-the-scene planning especially on the part of the Coordinator (exactly how will you feed almost 300 participants for a start). It was a perfect symbiotic relationship for all its intents and purposes. It was the choreographer's dream to join Kadayawan and SPA had the workforce to make it happen. Being symbiotic, one can never be more important than the other.
        I did the many typical letters in the SPA too --- requests, permissions, updates, minutes. The request for art studious for instance, I studied it for a month because the Honorable Congresswoman wanted a building specification (before then, I didn't know the rich vocabulary for windows or floors to say the least). I remember writing a request for cement and other materials for a supposed pathway in our campus, however, the materials were taken from our campus and used at the main campus' pathway instead (yes, you're welcome). 
        But to say I did letters of questionable and corrupt nature would be a case for defamation. If you think I'm a mindless drone or my Coordinator would even DARE ask me to do something venal - then you really do not know me at all, or the kind of relationship she and I have.       
         So if you want to sue me for my participation in these festivals, kindly include the whole City Council for approving the projects, and the entire city and provincial leaders who helped make the projects possible.

5. And now you wish to join the Kadayawan yourself.
          So silly of me but I thought you were against our successes last year? Ba't di nyo agad sinabi that you want the success for yourself pala, then we should've given you the courtesy of wishing you luck. 
         There is still so much to write about and each deserves another article entirely (like withholding my salary for two months). Again, I would have never resorted to this if you just excluded me from your office politics. Seriously, with the kind of human beings this school has made you, what makes you think I wish to emulate your existence?

      "People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up."
 --- A Game of Thrones

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Of memos and abuse of power

As deliberately repeated in two separate meetings this June, we SPA teachers were directed the following house rules;
   1) NOT to participate in any non-school related activity without the WRITTEN consent from the principal's office
   2) Secure a pass slip every time we leave the SPA campus during office hours
   3) Leave a substitute teacher and class activity in case of leave or absence

I have no problem with these house rules. First because music and dance teachers are the ones burdened with the performances outside school (and my wild guess is nobody is any happier with this rule than them because it means less overtime work). Second, I hardly leave the SPA campus anyway. School and house are basically my only world every weekdays. And third, there is nothing new about not paralyzing the class when circumstances do not allow you to be in your class (last school year, it's sore eyes, being hospitalized, and a couple of seminars).

However, the rules are nothing but veiled attempts to sabotage the SPA workforce by finding faults in every little thing we do in the hope of making us look even worse to the conniving, pathetic-excuse-of-human-beings in the main campus.

Case in point - my absence last Wednesday.

A co-teacher and I had to attend the feedbacking activity for the Regional Mass Training of Teachers held last May, and last Wednesday's program was to cap it off (actually being chosen as regional trainers is the curse that spun this whole thing off..., because this is the Philippines..., and what fun is life without crab mentality). Just like what we did in the past, we secured our Authority to Travel and class substitution as signed by the division superintendent. In my case, I had to bring a printer to school on Tuesday just so I could print everything and lessen the trouble of the substitute teachers (because yes, it was me asking them the favor).

I came home immediately after the program and arrived in Mati around 8:30PM after a four-hour ride and really heavy rainfall. I was practically soaked when I reached home. But the cherry on top of this chocolate-almond cake of a day was a message from one of the substitute teachers telling me they've been reprimanded for NOT asking the permission of the Coordinator that they will be substituting my class.

That Coordinator signed my papers noting the substitution.

...want fries with that?

Needless to say, I was apoplectic with rage when I went to work the next morning. I confronted my Coordinator (because no, spending hours gossiping about a problem is as helpful as me cutting my wrist while swimming with sharks).
   1) I asked why the need to reprimand the two subs. She said because they didn't ask permission from her. I asked why do they need to ask permission from her and does she want to do the document herself next time so nobody won't be in trouble anymore. She said no.
   2) I asked why did she sign the document if she didn't agree with it and she said she didn't read it (mind you it's in tabular form with less than 20 words and three names).
   3) Then I told her that she could tell me things like that in my face instead of scapegoating on two innocent teachers who did nothing but HELPED ME.

And in the proverbial nagisa-sa-sariling-mantika which came too soon, by 9:45AM, when I was about to give my long quiz, I was told that the musicians were attending an event at the palengke. When they arrived in the afternoon, I asked for the letter of the activity and they said there is none. By extent, two teachers were not around that day and they didn't leave any class activity at all. However, the Coordinator was not in any way riled up about it.

(So why is the policy so severe on us and so tolerant on them?)

By afternoon, a memo from no less than the principal himself came to my desk (to be posted tomorrow). Yes, a memo! Not just any other letter but a memo (given that we're 3.2km away from the main campus, the speed was pretty amazing, and disgusting at the same time). Apparently, they told the principal that I "don't excuse" my students (present tense form indicating a habit) so the principal sent me a memo to excuse the students for the Thursday night's activity.

(Yep, hold on right there. Save yourself the shame and don't twist the fact so much next time. You're not smart enough to pull that off.)

Why should I disallow my students in their night presentation? I don't conduct evening classes!

The issue was you had the students perform outside school without the prior letter of consent --- a rule you direct us to follow to the T, and you were absent from class without leaving an activity or a sub-teacher.

WHY THE SELECTIVE POLICY? AGAIN, why is the policy so severe on us and so tolerant on you?

You see, any position in DepEd does not come with a carte blanche (in a corporate environment, bosses are basically gods, but again, this is DepEd). We maybe just lowly teachers but honestly, if I wanted to live in a communistic/tyrannical society, I'd go live in China.

Lesson learned: Make sure when you impose rules; you don't break it before anyone else does.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Class Prophecy: Apophis 2036

The year is 2036 and all of humanity has converged outside their homes, eyes up the horizon, and prays for deliverance.  Asteroid 99942 Apophis makes another close pass to Earth and though NASA has ruled out any potential threat, people cannot help but marvel at the night sky. How could that little flicker be 3 ½ football fields big and be capable of destroying a city as big as Metro Manila?

It was a scare humanity will never forget, April 13, 2029, Friday the 13th, when Apophis had its first flyby a mere 36, 000 kilometers from Earth, destroying the geostationary satellites in its way, and changing the world forever.

Basic. Primitive. Whatever you call it. But the fact is, it is only at a threat of death or oblivion does a man gain retrospection and see life as it is – beautiful, unique, and irreplaceable.

The first flyby in 2029 catapulted the second Renaissance, the fusion of science and arts, of life and beauty, and of space and time. Forget your dystopian-end-of-the-world ideas! It is not as boring and robotic as it seems! My friend Melanie Iremedio for example, continues to revolutionize dieting and recently introduced the Diosa Diet that could make anyone gain muscle mass without exercise. I read she’s recently hailed Woman of the Year by Vogue Philippines but of course, our friend Pamela Dapitanon is the Editor so you can’t really blame the haters for doubting the poll --- unlike Gwenn Nicole Pabalate, a UNICEF Ambassador, who topped the House of L’Oreal’s list of Non-Celebrity Women of the Year hands down! Gwenn is lucky because she’s got unsung heroes for friends who share her ideals from the get-go. When she told fellow philanthropists Christian Tripole, Ariele Faye Labi, Shane Mallas, John Lord Morales, and Maria Emah Bon about her plan of putting up a school for the differently-abled and street children, they opened their hearts to the challenge and created classroom assistive technologies from scraps.

Some though are not so career-driven. Dominica Mae Unlang, Judy Ann Awitin, Elyn Joy Cuanan, Edelyn Sabello, Rusheen Cabiles, Mary Joy Madoc and Jasmin Ongcoy who used to just pretty things up in school, end up enjoying housewifery! In fact their recent book collaboration entitled “Most Desperate Housewives” is a certified bestseller in Amazon. I heard ABS is brewing up a movie version and had asked Angel Zarah Badilla to do the screenplay. She declined the offer though. Angel wants to devout all of her time in Hanzfer John Galvan’s Travel to Mars. Efren Michael Tenizo has wrapped up his comic book take on it and Angel thinks that with Efren’s extensive comic book resume, they could both market the story as a franchise material worldwide. Nope, Hanzfer is no Clark-Kent-kryptonite freak but since the discovery of Apophis in 2004, scientists around the world had pushed for manned space exploration and with the go signal during the Obama government, started to send astronauts in 2021 to low-Earth orbit explorations. Hanzfer, having showed exemplary skills in the PMA, was one of the 12 Filipinos handpicked to join the Orion Crew, and what used to be Marvel superheroes have become real-life people who have changed the world.

Peter Uban, the current PNP Chief cannot be outdone though because upon Orion’s return voyage, he launched the Thor Selection, a transmorgrified process of selecting the best of the best Filipino law enforcers likened to that of US Navy SEALs. The maelstrom of reproval was as expected but when Peter dismissed Rajel Atason, Joemari Baliling, Rizaldo Coronel, Jaymar Diampon, Ian Christopher Nuñez, Harley Sean Paulo, Jay-Ar Radores, Elioterio Caimtang and many of our friends from the Thor Camp, the people knew Chief Uban meant business and would never tolerate the Padrino system in his leadership.

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times. People started to see merit, not money or connections, as the basis of all things important. And so people learned to create and recreate themselves to fit in the new world order. Jan Mark Baay for example, had ceased just dating models and started to devout his flirting energies instead to photography. Ana Mae Atugan is a wallflower no more, and now successfully runs a talent agency for introverts. Maico Atoma produces “Just for Laughs” Philippines. Rachel Mae Gornot currently does Broadway while Daniel Mongcal scores music for Paramount Pictures. Kent Sarza and Mark Jason Encio are highly respected clinical psychologists while Carlo Didal and Joylyn Pilong are making waves doing motivational speaking gigs to druggies and pill poppers. Abner Ibarani and Anthony Virgilio teamed up to build Recess Foundations Inc., an organization that helps ADHD kids cope up with boring academic routines. Roy Diez and Adrian Gonzalez are currently developing a new kung fu animation at Pixar while Gracel Labarda and Queenie Grace Balante have both successfully launched the Royal Magazine that features all things household made regal. May Flor Ludia does talk show at TLC while Febie Lou Martinez and Hannah Jean Ongcoy run their M.O. Cosplay Store along Matiao Avenue, beside the “Be a Princess” Photo Studio of Allyson Morales and Abercrombie Store of Judy Ann Baliling.

We are the post-millennial generation and the world has finally removed most traces of divisions, of partisanship. Technology has made the world smaller and life, bigger. A lot bigger. Shugar Cabo for instance, has just announced her retirement at 40, after a modeling portfolio that included House of Harlow, Guess and Dior. Even Angelica Mapaa did covers for Nightingale Magazine. I also remember a catch-up over coffee with their pro stylists Ronel Gonzalez and Chrisa Mae Gamboa, and had a blast from the past when we saw the coffee table book of renowned artists Christian Jay Timbogan, Joy Dimana, and Marianne Bagajo just right there in front of us! Once, while traipsing East 50th Avenue in Vancouver, I literally bumped into Maila Benituasan, Benjie Pabuaya, Mailene Ornales and Master Cyrus Jeff Lacang who are teaching in The Academy of International Dance Arts. Filipino dancers they said are still all the rage because being the melting pot of all races, we are highly adaptive and flexible.

I am really proud of Batch 2014 because everyone has gone the extra mile. We are as ubiquitous as leaves on trees and as unrelenting as gravity. When I turn on the TV for example, there’s Maria Nikola Bakiao’s Gossip Show every 10pm at E!, or Abdiel Bauyot’s band at MTV, or Celso Burgos doing late-night at ANC, or Jefferson Lintuan covering the FIFA at ESPN, or Brother John Michael Mamparo giving sermons even on idle Tuesdays. You check the racks on the bookstore near you and you’ll see Playboy’s Editor-At-Large Karl Louel Faustino, or Marinell Lantaca’s Health Journal, or Joseph Sinson’s Travel Guide for Newbies. You turn on the radio and there’s Armenio Pabio at DZMM, or Crestine Ann Ambrocio at Bombo Radyo Cebu, or Danilo Caumanday at Radyo Natin Manila.  Roy Jhon Narvaez who used to roam every nook and crannies of our campus, has put his roaming-around to good use and now works in National Geographic Channel. 

I am particularly proud of the quiet achievers though. Hannah Marie Lubiano did the amazing road works connecting Mati City airport to the rest of the metro. Clemente Gaganao I’ve heard has put up a state-of-the-art resort along Pahamotang District. Christopher Bedolido has a small sports center in Madang Avenue. Hopkinson Ligan has a Korean Karaoke Bar equipped with technologies imported from Jeju. Joseph Icoy owns an exclusive Hokage Bar and Resto which features Naruto’s ramen as house specialty. Nemesio Soriano has a Joke Shop along West Central District. Katrina Krizara Obrial has an exclusive medical school along Dahican Complex. Lovely Jean Son has 4 derma clinics all over the Central District. Jenny Rose Gildore owns the Smile for a Cause Foundations while Shiela Mae Lumangyao and Antonet Ortiz collaborated on a Zen Spa and Resort for people who like the peace and quiet.

It’s not surprising really. The global recession from 2008 to 2012 was a good poke in the head to youth and young professionals --- a life plunged in debt is no life at all. Loans and predatory lending even sunk the solid US economy! So what can a Third World country do? We just can’t expect our government to bail us out, so us, the post-millenials, encouraged business, encouraged financial innovation, encouraged interdependence, encouraged discovery and growth. And so we have Ailene Fe Muñoz who makes headbands and all things kikay to Abdul Raof Bastian who designs volleyball clothes and accessories, to Carlo Leonor’s Celebrity Tattoo Shop, to Janesie Tirol’s Hair Salon, to Geraldine Silongan’s high-end gift shop, or Rebecca Alcayde’s perfume business, or Dawn Suzette Malasarte’s hair care products, or even Joseph Sinson’s Car Parts and Hardware.

It’s the best feeling in the world really, when you look back and realize you’ve done something worthwhile, no matter how small, because you stood up to your dreams, your passion, to what you believe in. Take Cris John Abalunan for example. He spent 20 years guarding the Spratly’s without an ounce of regret.  Or Markie Bernal, who dreamed on studying at Harvard and ended up guarding Harvard instead…or Edsel Chavez, an assistant of the assistant coach of Team Azkals when the team ranked 6th in the FIFA World Rankings.

It was 2026, the team hit an all-time record high and we couldn’t be any prouder of our friends.  Philippine Football Federation President Aljer Rueles put his whole career at stake when he supported head coach Mhel Yusores’ goal of crawling through the most humiliating upsets in football history, and have the team finally qualify for the FIFA World Cup. It was in Tokyo, the largest city in the world, and what was supposed to be a football frenzy became an unexpected class reunion. Jomar Silat owns the FIFA-affiliated ticket company in Manila and he phoned us all to meet at Tokyo. Some of the men stayed at Architect Christopher Lumangyao’s house in Shinagawa, while others went straight to Hotel Chinsanzo where Kenneth Manlucob mans the most luxurious kitchen in Tokyo Central District. There we met with Davee Palmiano who works with Japan Basketball League, Pastor Jepte Dalde who works with the Filipino expats in Chiyoda, Anime Creator Ken Daryl Masaudling, Professor of Meme Culture Renster Paluga, and Professor of Hokage History Abdul Aziz Nacada.

It was so cool. Jumel Inabiogan is a self-confessed President of the Azkals Fans Club so he hosted a party at Araihama Bay. Kevin Keisler Terona let us borrow his cars and toured us around Miura Peninsula. Even Joseph Rosas and Charlie Jay Lindo who both manage their own stores outside Tokyo, came over to join the fun. We stopped by the Tokyo Marine Biology Station in the area where Patrick Abaño and Lester Bong Bunani are working on their latest online game that comes with metamorphed marine species. Then we walked to Arabatsubo Marine Park where Noel Balusca and Jeneric Elga have been working the last 12 years. It’s a pity really that Alver Jade Ablayan and DJ Charlie Lubiano both have conferences in Hokkaido two nights before and just couldn’t secure flights back in time.

It was a crazy night out because we had the whole bay to ourselves. Kristine Joy Andan, Grace Anquillano, and Charmaine Lunay staged a karaoke concert that only us friends could appreciate. Charlyn Bualan and Clarize Cape spent the whole time taking pictures while Christine Larrobis and Mara Jean Camense led the parlor games. Dianalyn Lerio, Grace Tunong and Chen-Chen Muaña all brought with them their Japanese husbands while Amelina Untua, Brendeth Vee Gornot and Mary Cris Piañar just enjoyed sipping their Chardonnay by the portico.

Make no mistake. They are extremely busy and accomplished women and just really want to relinquish stress and have fun. Princess Angelic Catog for example, who went downright crazy on the dance floor that night, actually works in Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Prezelle Arianne Bello is the current asthma specialist at Davao Doc. Grezelle Faye Ybañez is the trusted political adviser of the Padullon administration. Maria Rosario Enriquez and Rica Palen just finished their fifth self-help book called “How to Attract Real Friends and Keep the Fakes Away”. Mel Deniel Ong leads high-profile cases in no less than the National Bureau of Investigation. Chrislyn Tagaunsod is a speech and language pathologist based in Jakarta while Christine Eden Manibad owns a first-rate flower farm in Marayag District. Anacel Rufino is the current Chair of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines while Diana Sumalo coaches the Philippine Women’s Volleyball Team.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. It’s been 10 years since that Tokyo excursion and I haven’t met much of them in years since I shuttle from airport to airport, and this port to that port. It’s never easy being with the UN. We live to keep the peace and get the world affairs going but never have the time to live with our self, or have something to call home. Tonight though, as I presided over the security details in Times Square, I was on the moon and back when I saw the CCTV’s and realized, Class Dignity has practically taken over Midtown Manhattan! Who knew?! Jade Abaño is an accountant at Bank of America. Khalid Bocong is the only Filipino cleric at Church of Saint Mary. Aldrin Paganduman is a cashier at Toys R Us (but really does undercover for The New York Times). Jornel Lumangyao is a Chief Security Officer at One Astor Plaza while Daniel James Lopez does global PR for a variety of New York Knicks’ merchandise. Most are into major corporations though. Neljay Barrientos is with Coca-Cola, John Rey Leones is with Budweiser, Joshua Petallana is with M & M’s, Jay-Ar Goc-Ong is with Hard Rock Café, and Victorino Magdoboy is with Chevrolet.

I can’t blame them really. It’s less difficult to climb the corporate ladder in the US than say Manila or Davao. So Jorlan Tabigue had no regrets selling his dance studio in Mati years ago to migrate in the US. Clint John Hinayon, Kevin James Salibat, and Marjun Legaspi did the same and now, all four are execs at Crowne Plaza Hotel and had even helped Ralph John Perez, Ranie Jay Toyu-an and Jivanie Vergara migrate to the US as well. Jeffrey Decena is a celebrity trainer and often does appearances in Good Morning America. John Paul Aradillos, John Lester Bacar, and Phil Bustamante all found luck at Planet Hollywood. Aljun Monday has his hands full managing both Battlefield 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV Amusement Parks so he hired Allan Cris Cruz, Lizfernan Ejara, and Christian Arnold Galgo to help him recreate and maintain the Liberty City.

The women aren’t so shabby themselves. Geona Mae Aguilon, Jessie Amado, Mary Grace Andan, Hanielee Gasindo, Alcheme Mabiscay, Regine Neri, Rona Mae Sanchez, Mheilane Pugon, Omol Khayr Moro and Jessa Sumbadon have formed themselves the Silent 10, a group of silent artists that started the Silent Theater along 1500 Broadway. It was Rowena Loyola’s idea really and Charvie Jane Neri committed to do their choreography, Angelica Conlabong does the PR, but it was Monera Sabas who pitched the whole thing first to May Elaiza Manibad, since Elaiza has long gained popularity and following in New York. The others are just scattered around. Yesterday when I shopped at Forever 21, I met Lovely Grace Ambasan, the manager, with Lyka Silagan her assistant. Melvie Cortez owns a Hershey’s store, Cecil Maque manages 3 Victoria Secret shops, and Gladys Marcellones owns not just 1, but 7 Starbucks from the 42nd to the 47th Street. Yolie Libaton and Gina Fe Sebog were true to their heritage though, and opened a Filipino shop across Paramount Theater.

Yes, many of us are still Filipinos through and through. Some think it’s the Android era but I say the change is peripheral. A person’s moral strength is only as strong as his conviction, his belief system, and that is independent of trends.

Architect Laila Dumpao for example, preferred to stay in the country and revolutionized Filipino houses to stand against tropical storms, combustion, and earthquakes. Mayor Catherine Padullon reinstated a new city plan that eliminated the wretched establishments and put up Architect Dumpao’s designs along the banks of Mati River and the Pujada shores. Mayor Padullon also approved City Engineer Gabriel Mendoza’s proposal of installing weirs, reservoirs and tide gates as preventive measures for floods and tsunamis. It was an ambitious project, but needed nonetheless. To curtail the high cost, Engineer Phillip Abella devised materials from the local ore deposits. But first, Attorney James Sialonga fought tooth and nail for the shutdown of mining activities operated by illegal and foreign traders. Together with the studies conducted by Doctor Shieneva Baron from the Department of Science and Technology, Attorney Sialonga has made the case and made it possible for fellow progressivists to bring Mati City to the future. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Congressman Rhynz Aldrus Bacus and Senator Patrick Zessie Baay helped them champion the cause in secret.

Some are renowned national artists in their own right. Reynaldo Archie, a world class film director, has conquered both the Cannes and the box-office with his new age film-making. Shierre Mae Avila is a legendary theater artist. Daphne Quillope’s books have earned her the coveted Pulitzer Award for Literature. Luzille Bedeña is the current NCCA Chair with at least 7 books and 39 indie films under her belt. Jade Adesna is a multi-awarded photojournalist who has covered events that culminated in the Treaty of Maguindanao while Angelo Antonio owns at least 27 edutainment centers across the country.

Some found love in rearing the new generation of artists though. Beverly Aporbo owns the multi-awarded ballet school in Martinez District. Malvin Bohol has his hands full with his Mati Orchestra, and Lormalyn Alimbon, the current Director of the City Special Program in the Arts has successfully continued the legacy of Pagsilak, Inc, along with Jera Mae Muaña as the school principal.

Niña Febie Dimpas founded the Philippine Julliard School, the most expensive performing arts school in the world and continues to produce a distinct poll of Tony award winners. Rochelle Valera is a renowned yogi across Southeast Asia and helps design a rehabilitative therapy anchored in Zen workout. Artist and human rights activist Chedelyn Cabugnason has found love in helping to protect the indigenous culture and arts and together with friends Attorney Sialonga and Doctor Baron, lobbied for the satellite shutdown on indigenous communities. Executive Producer Daren Adtoon is responsible for bringing Philippine masterpieces in both Broadway and West End such as Biag ni Lam-ang, Orosman at Zafira, and even the Oscar record-breaking winner The Social Cancer to which Cyreen Amana as Salome and Shamie Rose Dapitan as Maria Clara both win Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. Both actresses also work with Opera Director Daryl Crest Malicay.

By happenstance, my security division became responsible for the protection of both Christopher Quilaton and Nero Handugan from Communist crusaders who desperately want their hands on these two brainiacs. Christopher Quilaton developed a rerouting technology to combat government spying on its citizens. His software automatically deletes caches and prevents suspected sites to infiltrate household connections. His friend Nero Handugan has toppled both Wikipedia and Google’s Freebase when he created Athena, an artificial intelligence incorporated on all devices and capable of processing 1 terabyte of information per millisecond. The result is a phone, tv, or even refrigerator that does what you want. He failed to get a Nobel though for not disclosing the help of the MOP technology created by Everlyn Torres, a technology that wipes out false and useless sites, pages, and infos on the net.

This is our future. There are still no light sabers, or time machines, and we still unfortunately are aging. Mortality I think is humanity’s gift, not a curse. For as long as we know that life is short, we would continue to make the most of it. The passing of asteroid Apophis validated this thought. Given the threat, humanity has forgotten wars, politics, and even slacking. We stood together, or else, we would fall together. We have come to realize that simple dot of wisdom that by making ourselves better, we make our world better. So go live your dreams, your ideals. You don’t have to compromise.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. And say cheers to the future!