Friday, June 20, 2008

Why It is Stupid to Open Classes in September

Here in the Philippines, classes start in June and end in March as a rule. The students enjoy a long summer break from April to May. Since the rainy season officially starts in June, students are always greeted with typhoons, monsoon rains, and flash flooding. This has made government officials propose moving the opening of classes from June to September like other countries, particularly the USA. These people believe that moving the opening of classes will address the problem of having to suspend classes because of typhoons and flash floods.

Well, as a teacher, I think this idea is crap. In the first place, we have rains and typhoons in September as well. And with the global warming, the weather has become more unpredictable. Plus, if we always think of the weather, we will never be able to get anything done at all. Now, since we are talking of the weather, don't these officials see how difficult it is to study during summertime in the Philippines? The heat will overwhelm the students. Many schools do not have airconditioning, especially the very overcrowded public schools.

What really galls me is the usual colonial thinking of Filipinos that since classes in the US open in September, then it must be the better option. Filipinos forget the fact that most countries that open their classes in September have four seasons. April and May for them are the months for spring. Springtime is quite cool and a better season than winter. However, June, July and August are the summer months so they are also doing what we Filipinos are doing all along. They also have a long summer break just like us. And our stupid government officials want to take away summer break from our Filipino students? How very nice and sensitive of them to do that!

Just imagine this. If we follow the stupid September opening, the students won't enjoy an exciting long vacation. Why do I say so? Well, their vacation will start in July when rains are here already. They won't be able to enjoy the beach or to be out with friends that much because it will be raining almost every day. Going to the mountains may prove hazardous with the possible landslides during the rainy season. So, these kids will endure the scorching summer heat in school just to have a vacation at home for two months. Wow, talk about fun!

We should not also forget that in some provinces, poor farmers need their children to plant crops during summertime. It is just the way they do it to avoid paying additional labor. Cutting costs will always be a way of life for poor Filipinos.

Hence, before our stupid government officials propose anything that is patterned after a successful nation, they should do their homework first. The conditions in the Philippines are not the same as the conditions in the US and other first world countries having the four seasons.

Now, may I propose something? I would like to see our government officials in the executive, the judiciary, and the legislative bodies do at least one week of community service by teaching in overcrowded public schools. That way, they will understand what is really happening in Philippine schools instead of proposing stupid ideas that won't do us any good.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why Asians May not Make it as the First American Idol

Filipinos love to sing. It is also undisputed that Filipino singers, soloists or choirs, are world class, judging by the awards Filipino singing contestants had garnered worldwide over the years.

I am not really a fan of American Idol but I know that there were Filipino contestants who made it to the semi-finals, at least. Jasmine Trias, Ramielle Malubay, and that girl from the second batch of Smokey Mountain come to mind. I am not astounded that these girls almost made it. For me, world-class singing is such a given for Filipino music artists.

I know that Filipinos would like to see a fellow Filipino or even a fellow Asian become the first Asian-American Idol. If you ask me, this is just asking for the moon. Not because Filipinos are not talented enough to win the top spot, but because we must accept the fact that when it comes to entertainment in the US, blacks or African-Americans have more chance of making it than Filipinos or Asians. Even Lea Salonga, despite her success on Broadway and her Tony award won't be accepted as an American idol because of her ethnicity.

Let's face it. Filipinos and Asians are more accepted in other fields, say health care than in the world of entertaiment. Jacky Chan aged a bit before he was able to penetrate the US market. Despite the fact that the US is touting democracy and freedom of expression, etc., etc., most Americans really do favor whites, with blacks coming in second in the field of entertainment. So African-Americans, despite their complaints of being second-class citizens, are more readily embraced by most of America than their Asian counterparts.

I don't think there will be a Filipino or an Asian who will make it as the first American Idol. They will either be just semi-finalists or finalists, but never the IDOL. You see, America, which is predominantly white and then black, needs to identify with the singer or else the majority will not buy the records and we all know who the majority is.This is the reason why, even though Filipino and other Asian contestants have some form of following from their own communities, the white or black contestants get more votes. There are just too many of the latter.

American Idol is about selling records. A singer who doesn't have a wide following won't be able to sell records. That's a fact. So, sorry fellow countrymen/women. We won't see a fellow Filipino win the top spot in our lifetime unless we see a half-breed who looks more Caucasian like that member of the Pussycat Dolls (am I right about the name?) or who looks more black like that member of the Black-Eyed Peas (am I also right about this name?). It is all about looking white or black so the majority can identify with the singer. It is ironic that whites can identify with black singers and blacks can also identify with white singers. Asians can also identify with either. Unfortunately, an Asian-looking singer in the US won't have the same fan base. However, I will be quite happy to be proven wrong one day!