Bar none

What, dear karikna, was your childhood dream?

Did you want to become a doctor, lawyer, priest, artista, or president of the Philippines? What are you today? Have you become what you aspired for when you were innocent and courageous enough to wish for your star? Or did you have to settle for second choices?

Why you settled for second choices, if you did, could be because of various reasons: lack of money, parents who don’t understand, practicality, love, unexpected pregnancy, poor grades, health, or maybe even laziness. But is it ever too late to pursuit a dream?

As a child, I always wanted to be a journalist. For play time, I would sit in front of a cassette recorder and hold my own talk show or stage a radio drama. Inquisitive and analytical, I always searched for answers. At other times, I would gather my friends in our garage and teach them about just anything. In high school, as editor of the student paper, I was fearless. After writing against fraternities, I got my first stars, the type of stars that circle your head after a heavy beating. While my parents feared for me, I had no fear.

But I did not take up journalism, mass communication, or education in college. Instead, I enrolled in philosophy and human resource development. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and I found it exciting. My parents, who did not go to college, never interfered in my choices and supported me all the way. I did well inside the classroom and did even better outside its walls.

I should be today in the human resources department of a top corporation, and indeed my first job was at Citibank in Libis, but I really just had to teach and write, for these are my two loves, two things thankfully I now get paid enough for, two aspirations that, in my kiddy years, I was willing to do for free.

*****

Yes, childhood dreams do come true.

And this is true for Brian Jay Corpuz, an instructor at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) College of Industrial Technology, who hurdled the 2011 Bar Examinations conducted in November last year.

Though Corpuz always wanted to be a lawyer, a dream he, as a young leader, started nurturing at Davila Elementary School and the Ilocos Norte Agricultural College where he finished high school, he took a different route before realizing his legal aspirations. Owing to financial difficulty, he grabbed a scholarship from the Department of Science and Technology for a three-year Diploma of Technology at MMSU. After graduating in 2001, he went on to take up Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology. Graduating magna cum laude, he was valedictorian of MMSU Class 2004.

Focused and well-driven, the 29-year old bar passer obtained his law degree from Northwestern University in 2010 and took review classes at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila, where the bar examination was held. Continue reading “Bar none”

Boy from Currimao tops fisheries exam

This young man makes me proud to be from Ilocos Norte.

Jerick Christian P. Dagdagan, a cum laude graduate of the BS in Fisheries program at the Mariano Marcos State University, landed at the top spot of the Fisheries Technologist Licensure Examination held last month.

It was not easy for Dagdagan. Unable to find a review center (MMSU and CLSU had none due to lack of registrants), he found himself doing self review. He said he just consulted his teachers at the MMSU College of Aquatic Sciences and Applied Technology when there were items he could not understand.

The difficulty is coupled by the fact that he did not immediately review after graduation. He finished his studies in 2010 but, due to financial constraints, opted to work immediately as a fisheries development advocate at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office in San Fernando, April to August.  He would later move to Davao to be assistant manager for technical operations at the Jorona Aquatic Resources and Training Corporation until April this year when he decided to prepare for the board examination.

Eldest of four children of Vicente, a security guard, and Mary Grace, a nurse at the Governor Roque B. Ablan Memorial Hospital, Dagdagan was the typical carefree teenager. In an interview, Dagdagan confessed to your karikna that taking up fisheries was only his last recourse. He would have taken up nursing or chemical engineering but, due to late enrolment, lost a slot in those programs. The reason: he was “nabarkada” and lost track of time. But at CASAT, Jeric did a turnaround. He is described by his teachers as brilliant and determined. He was active in school organizations and was sent to competitions, both academic and cultural. He was also the college’s bet in table tennis.

It is actually a double treat for the family living in Brgy. San Simeon in the coastal town of Currimao as Jerick’s brother Jake Valentin, who graduated last April, also passed the board exam.

The morale of this story: If you want to succeed, pagbabarkada is the key to success. Joke!

Jerick’s story is actually a lesson on the often unappreciated relationship between will and destiny.

Before Janjan, there was Mayyang

JANJAN, a six-year-old boy, pervades our national consciousness today after having done a tearful macho dancing in Willie Revillame’s show, Willing Willie. There is national indignation and disgust, yet again, against Revillame, who thinks he is God’s gift to the Filipino poor. Government agencies, the church, civil society, and netizens have done their share to not let this madness unchecked.  The show’s sponsors were pressured to pull out their ads, investigations are being conducted, and a child abuse case is expected to be filed in no time. The show has gone off air, but only for two weeks, as TV5 is all set to defend the actions of Willie—the duck who lays the golden, albeit rotten, eggs for the young television station.

This incident brings to mind the child performers in the talent show “Bukros a Bukangkang” of Harry Corpuz, a radio personality who became a household name in Ilocos, especially in the late 80’s down to the 90’s. The show, which title literally meant “nalalaglag ang sapin at nakabukaka,” produced a herd of singers who performed Ilocano songs, many of them of the novelty kind. Churned out by Alpha Records, the group’s albums sold like hot potatoes. They came out volume after volume, and were too many, probably over 30, for Corpuz, who wrote most of the songs together with his sister Nelly Bareng, to actually remember. Like Revillame, Corpuz, whose real full name is Harry Corpuz Doronio, also hopped from one station to the other.

The most popular Bukros song of all time, I argue, is “Nagimas kan Mayyang,” sung by Melchor Vallejo of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur.  Vallejo, who was named Mayyang after the song became a big hit, was a kid then, probably around Janjan’s age.

Corpuz is known to have a good sense of humor, and his jokes obviously had double meanings.  But this song did not just have sexual undertones; it was actually explicit in content. What follows are the lyrics of the song, the translations in English are mine.

Nagimaskan, Mayyang (You are so delicious, Maria.)

Dakkel ta patongmo (Your butt is big.) Continue reading “Before Janjan, there was Mayyang”

Uncle Gerry

I ALWAYS tell my students, almost all of them in their teens that, at this point in their lives, they probably enjoy spending more time with their barkada—with whom secrets are shared, ‘happenings’ are enjoyed, and brave youthful explorations are carried out—than with their family members, especially the oldies, whom they perceive as KJ, epal, and close-minded.

I remind my students though that, as I myself would find out myself when I was a teenybopper no more, many friends come and go, while the family, fortunately or not, remains.

I was browsing though old photo albums the other day to look for pictures we need for our parents’ golden wedding anniversary next month when I noticed in the prints someone who has always been present in important occasions like birthdays, graduations, and weddings. He has been there during happy moments, but even more in difficult ones.  He is a vital constant in our family.

The second youngest in a brood of nine, German Nicolas Labayog was the only among his siblings who lived with his parents, my lolo and lola, until their twilight years. He took very good care of them. He gave them all the reasons to be happy.  He always made them laugh even as he constantly reminded the octogenarians to wear their pustiso.

With our grandparents gone, Uncle Gerry, although now based in Hawaii with his super beautiful wife Auntie Elsie, is the unifying force in the Labayog Clan. He would encourage us to gather and celebrate as a family, occasions big and small.  He would not be physically present anymore, but we would always feel his love. He would know if some members of the family are at odds, and would go at lengths to negotiate peace. I and my cousins each have our own stories to tell of gratitude and appreciation of Uncle Gerry. He tells you he is proud of you, and you would feel that he means it. He gives sound advice in a very tempered way and helps you realize your follies but never judges. He has ultimate belief in one’s capacity to do good.

I know he has mixed feelings about me right now. Continue reading “Uncle Gerry”

Tina, Helen, Christian, and Mary

FOUR human beings pervade my consciousness these days, and they happen to be all mothers.

First is Tina Tan, whose recent appointment as Tourism Officer of Ilocos Norte made me so happy, I almost had permanent cramps on my facial muscles due to oversmiling.  Thanks to Manang Imee for getting only the best and the brightest to work in the bureaucracy.

I can name many a reason why Tina is best fit for the job, but I will limit my list to only three due to lack of space.

First, she loves Nature, being highly involved in ecotourism and environmental protection groups.  And she goes beyond lip service.  My students she led in a mangrove cleanup in Pasuquin would attest.

Secondly, I think Tina has reached a point in her life when acquiring material possessions is no longer the order of the day, as she and her husband are a highly accomplished business team.  I am not saying the rich don’t steal–the case of Manny “Dagat ng Basura” Villar belies this–but I think Tina is so accomplished in her life (finances, family, romance) that she really just wants to contribute something good to the community. I can vouch for Tina’s integrity.  I dare predict she will not be corrupt.  Her son Eugene, a very unassuming and respectful boy, is my student at MMSU.  Eugene shows how successful Tina is in her most important role–as mother.

Third, and most importantly, Tina Tan is most fit for to be tourism officer of this beautiful province because she is a woman who knows how to celebrate life in ways big and small.  From food served in A-restaurants to dirty ice cream and ice scramble sold in the streets, from high fashion to indigenous stuff in the mountains of Adams, from Kings and princes to paupers like me—Tina Tan finds something interesting she is generous and vivacious and childlike enough to share to the world.

How do I know a lot about her?  I am a fan of her Blauearth blog which I have previously featured in this space, and this forces me to name a fourth reason, although I only promised three.  Tina Tan sends the message across clear and perky enough to attract men and women from everywhere to go pack their bags and explore Ilocoslovakia.

Way to go, Tina!

Continue reading “Tina, Helen, Christian, and Mary”

Abolish it, now!

THIS IS NOT the first column to be written on this matter and I bet this is not to be the last.  The clamor for the abolition of the Sanguniang Kabataan crops up every so often and intensifies before barangay elections, but alas, the SK has stayed and hanged on like sticky phlegm lingering on the nation’s throat.  I say this is the right time to cough it out, given a president who is sincere in cleaning up the government bureaucracy.

Nothing has done more damage to the Filipino youth’s political education and participation more than the SK.  The structure was meant to give young people, who make up a big chunk of the country’s population, the opportunity to contribute to nation building.  It was envisioned to be a breeding ground for future leaders, an avenue for youth empowerment.

But it has, dear karikna, disappointed, and disappointed us big time.

What youth empowerment do we see when most SK programs are merely confined to the staging of cheesy Mr. and Ms. SK events, holding of basketball leagues, construction of basketball courts and waiting sheds, and clean and green photo-operations where they would sweep the streets, plant a couple of seedlings, and pose in front of cameras as if they have reverted climate change?

Occasionally, there are some innovations.  In Laoag City last February, the SK Federation held one of their biggest activities—a mixed martial arts event described by witnesses as “bloody and fierce”.  It was dubbed “Suntukan sa Laoag”.

For doing just these things in addition to attending sessions where they are usually benchwarmers and sleepyheads if not perennial absentees, SK officials receive monthly honoraria and other emoluments, privileges and benefits, even free tuition fees in state universities. Continue reading “Abolish it, now!”