The Strange Me

Oftentimes I feel I’m strange.

This might be because I’m a 23-year-old college student and can’t say I’m thrilled to still be in school with very young people from an almost totally different culture from where I grew up in. 

You see, I lived in Hong Kong for almost 10 years and I spent almost the entirety of my teen years there. Life in a foreign land may sound exotic to some, but let me tell you that it isn’t all that fun. I lived in a place where I don’t speak the language and most of the time, I felt that I was just an observer to things that were happening. I was a two-fold stranger, first was because I was a foreigner, and second, because I couldn’t communicate very well at all. I felt out of place, no matter how hard I tried to “fit-in”. 

And in the first place, I’m not all that “social”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m antisocial, but you could probably call me “a very strong-willed person”. I don’t mind being alone. I don’t like “conforming” or “changing” who I was just so that I’d have “friends”. I am of the opinion that a real friend accepts you for who you are and doesn’t force you to be a certain way. But, having said that, I also don’t mind being with other people. It’s way more fun if you can celebrate success with others you deem as friends. I’m all about quality. 

Now my early high school years were very fun indeed. I didn’t have a care in the world! I was smart enough to not need to study for tests and still be among the top 5 of the class and I was very active in extracurricular activities such as track-and-field (100m, 200m, long jump, triple jump) and I always placed. If you didn’t know already, I was very competitive–and still am. I was also very involved with volunteer work like volunteering for the Hong Kong Community Chest, Hong Kong Red Cross, and other non-profit organizations. Other less strenuous competitive activities I participated in were Chess competitions, where I had the opportunity to play a real live Grand Master (and loss in 28 moves) , or the participating in the Hong Kong Music and Speech Festival, where I would compete in the Solo-verse Speaking category (usually, we’re given a poem or a verse to memorize, and we were to DRAMATIZE it in front of judges) which I usually won. Maybe that’s why I seem to have a “bubbly” personality even though I more of an introvert. In any case, my high school life was a blast, all seven years of them.

I also started working at the bright ripe age of 14. Coming from a family whose income isn’t all that fixed (the reality of being a missionary pastor’s kid), I wanted to help out. So I started working jobs I could do like tutorials for English, Math, and Science. Also, I “volunteered” for university experiments which paid quite a bit. I also did some thesis proofreading jobs, tried my hand at handing out flyers, clerical office work like data-entry and data-verification which were the most boring and tedious thing anyone could ever do for a living. But it paid. My parents didn’t need to give me allowance and I also chipped in a bit for my studies, which are quite costly in Hong Kong. 

But, here I am in the Philippines for college, a decision I ultimately made as it was not financially feasible for me to go pursue tertiary education in Hong Kong without burdening myself with ENORMOUS debt, but more importantly I wanted a chance to live away from my parents. I wanted to be truly independent.

So here I am, in the Philippines, going through college alone. It was a big leap from first-world Hong Kong, to third-world Philippines. I wasn’t used to so much pollution, flooding, and danger. Having lived in such an affluent place as Hong Kong, the stark contrast of much of the Philippines opened my eyes to the plight of my fellow countrymen. Oddly enough, I grew to love it here.

I love it enough to want to make a difference. 

So, that’s why I feel strange. Strange that I, unlike many of my friends who also came here to study but scooted back to Hong Kong right after, would choose to stay. I feel in my heart that it was divine providence that lead me to come here and study at the University of the Philippines Diliman. I used to see the Philippines as a backwater country, full of corrupt officials and gullible people who keep on making the same mistake voting for these crooks and was doomed to be that way for all eternity. Honestly, I still do think it’s that way. The difference is, I’m no longer hopeless. 

Because I’ve realized that I wasn’t about to conform to the norm of apathy towards the Philippines, nor was I afraid to go on it alone if I had to. I am part of the hope of our nation, and I will not surrender it easily.

Thank God I am strange. 

[This is NOT an endorsement for any political party, nor a confession of an affiliation or affinity towards any one political belief. TL;DR: Not a communist. NOT an activist. I’LL DO IT MY WAY.]



Science for the Future

A room full of papers, plastics, computers, scribbled notes and a large whiteboard full of equations was everything I expected to see in an office of a scientist and I was not disappointed.

In Room 304 of the National Physics Institute (NPI) I met with this year’s National Academy of Science and Technology Most Astounding Young Scientist awardee, Dr. Eric A. Galapon and the Coordinator of the Theoretical Physics Group in the institute to talk about himself, his research, and the science and research scene in the country.

At only 38 years of age and taking from how busy his workspace looked like, I started the interview by asking Dr. Galapon why he chose to be a scientist. At first there was an awkward silence, but judging by his face, I knew this scientist was really thinking hard on how to answer. “Why science,” he said contemplatively, “I guess it’s because I enjoy it.” “I think scientists and treasure hunters are similar. We’re both looking for treasure, but the only difference is our treasure is knowledge. It’s really the excitement of being the first one to discover something that the other seven billion people in the world were oblivious to that rewards us scientists.”

Surprisingly, Dr. Galapon wasn’t always the passionate scientist he is today. The only reason he took Physics when he was an undergraduate was because there was a scholarship being offered and that his family couldn’t afford sending him to college otherwise. During that time, he discovered he had a knack for science and that eventually lead him to discover his first, real love: Quantum Mechanics.

Quantum Mechanics is a theory in Physics to explain why it seemed that Classical Mechanics, or more commonly known as Newton’s Second Law of Motion, does not apply in the atomic level—the building blocks of all matter. “As is, the tenets Classical Mechanics break down in the atomic and sub-atomic level, so a new theory had to be proposed to explain such phenomenon, and that’s how Quantum Mechanics came about,” Dr. Galapon said.

According to Dr. Galapon, life as scientist isn’t easy. “Being a scientist requires a lot of devotion. You must be willing to put effort and yes, a lot of time in order to yield even the smallest results. At least for me, even though I have a full-time job here in the University of the Philippines as a lecturer and a researcher,” after heaving a sigh he said, “I still find myself constantly thinking of my research.” “When I’m lecturing or eating or whether I’m in my office or at home, even when I’m talking to my wife, I’m always thinking,” he said chuckling.

Not only is being a scientist mentally taxing, it is also very frustrating at times. Dr. Galapon recounted his first experience trying to get his work published outside of the country as being awful. He explained that he felt he was rejected not only because he was an unknown scientist, but also because he was a scientist in a third-world country. “You really have to persevere and not be modest when it comes to trying to publish your work abroad,” he said very fittingly as his first internationally published work was featured in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, the Royal Society of London, after many rejections from other publications.

Another problem with scientific research here in the Philippines is described by Dr. Galapon as the “non-existence of a scientific-culture”. He blames the government and also society for the lack of interest in the sciences. “Here in the Philippines, people seem to think that science is all about inventing new stove or type of car, those sorts of inventions, which are really already the end results or the products of “real scientific research”.

“Even politicians think this way,” he said becoming more serious. “In general, the scientific community fears that the great progress made by the former Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, Dr. Estrala Alabastro, who herself is a scientist from the University of Santo Tomas, would be reversed by the appointment of a person who doesn’t even have any background in the sciences and is a career executive,” he added. “If we look at all the rich countries in the world, their wealth is at least directly proportional to the amount of money they devote to research,” Dr. Galapon said explaining how with more research comes more breakthroughs and these breakthrough are not only useful but also very profitable.

Dr. Galapon ended by saying that only time would tell how the Philippines will in the future, but he quickly added that when society and the powers that be change their attitudes towards science, the hope of our nation would shine all the brighter. “I have great faith that if and when that happens, we’ve got more than enough talent here to storm the globe,” he said with a smile.

Joyfully Lost

[This was the first assignment assigned to us in J109, which is to write a profile of our seatmate. Anyways, this is slightly altered to protect the privacy of the person it was written about so the name of the person was “initial-ized” (I don’t know if this is a real word, whatever).]

When one is in the groceries, finding a crying child isn’t all that uncommon. And we all know that a crying, lost kid, is anything but happy. Would you believe there is anyone who would be happy being lost? Well, you’d better.

SJdlP is one such person. Already in her 20s, she’s in no way in hurry to finding herself and what her true calling in life is. As she put it so succinctly, “I’m just here to enjoy the ride!”

She entered college when she was only 16 and upon the recommendation of her mother, entered into the College of Architecture. For three semesters, she toiled and struggled with her course requirements and later ultimately realized that she had “no passion for architecture” and could not bear doing the same things for another three and half years. So she left.

S then spent another three semesters as a non-major student, which some people might regard as a supreme waste of time, she enjoyed immensely. During this period, she was able to be free. “I had such a great time just taking the stuff I wanted and was interesting to me,” she said recounting her experience. “What’s more was I was able to get away from my enemy, Math, during that time,” she added.

Eventually, pressure from her parents forced her to veer away from her would be “freedom” to choose a major that suited her. Maybe it was fate or just blind luck, but as she closed her eyes and whooshed her pen around a list of all the colleges and departments, she landed on Journalism.

All’s well that ends well she discovered she loved to write. So much so, she describes herself as a person who “couldn’t live without writing”.

When asked what she wanted to be in the future, she gave a vague answer: “who knows, I may love writing, but I can’t see myself becoming a writer just yet. Maybe I’ll go into Psychology or become an artist. I’m not setting anything in stone”.

Lastly, when asked if whether she was okay with being aimless in life, she said with a grin, “I’m not aimless, rather, I’m ‘AIM-FULL’,” “What’s important is that right now, I truly happy!”


The nightmare of pre-enlistment & other stuff

Meh… all I can say is “Meh”… Pre-enlistment is a “meh” for me.

Some background:

I enrolled in UP as a second semester, late admittee freshmen. As was the case, I no longer had the “luxury” of trying to gain subjects through the pre-enlistment module in the University CRS system. That being said, I had to go around the university trying to “prerog” any subject I could find… and I did… I prerogged all FIVE of my subjects that faithful second semester. Summer that school year was much the same, I had to prerog both things I took… and I couldn’t even manage to get an PE subjects because the line was LITERALLY spiralling in the gym. To top it all off, some departments DO NOT open early… *cough*Bio*cough* and the whole process is as tedious and time consuming as an 80-year-old rheumatoid-stricken grandma trying to cross the street with those portable table/crutches (idk what they’re called exactly, but you get the picture).

Folks, that’s how the SHIT hits the FAN in the University of the Philippines. Ha!

What’s happening now:

This is why pink is an evil color ( ̄、 ̄;)

This is why pink is an evil color ( ̄、 ̄;)

Anyhoo… yeah… I am tossing my die once more in the second round of pre-enlistment… hoping… praying for a miracle XD Well, not that it matters because I guess I’ll end up prerogging again~ Which is tedious yes, but at the same time gives you the same kind of thrill and excitement one feels when on the hunt for treasure (if you ever did an Easter Egg Hunt with the eggs having numbers written on them and the numbers indicating what the eggs are worth IN CASH, you’d know what I’m talking about  (n’ω’`)っ )

On to other things, on May 26 I had the “pleasure” of enrolling my sister in Miriam College… I was half expecting the same kind of chaos I go through in UP, but was pleasantly surprised with the speed of the actual enrollment.

My pleasant experience was short-lived however, when I realized I was missing something: My sister’s school ID. I called Hong Kong to tell them the good news about me finishing the enrollment and nonchalantly apologized for the lost of the school ID when my sister very disgruntledly told me that it wasn’t as small of a deal as I thought. In fact, she told me that for her to get a new ID, we’d have to somehow provide an Affidavit of Lost Item for a SCHOOL ID! O_O

I was like… Meh?

So, I retraced my EVERY STEP in the whole campus from the start to finish, asking everyone I came into contact to if they had found an ID lying around. I repeated this THREE TIMES! In my mind, I was saying “Crap, we’re screwed”… And, adding insult to injury, when I was asking the STAFF OF MIRIAM COLLEGE if they happen to find a lost ID, most of them were IMMEDIATELY DEFENSIVE and shut-off. Bah! It wasn’t like I was accusing you of anything… -__- It would have been much better if they stayed PROFESSIONAL and HELPFUL rather than succumbing to just being… the STEREOTYPICAL FILIPINO… i.e. just covering their own skin (like our politicians Zzz)… How typical. I was very unimpressed. If the same people involved in the education of the youth have the same mindset and default reaction to inquiries as the sh*ts (most, not all) we have in congress/senate, then what hope is there left?


In other news, I watched Night at the Museum 2 yesterday! Yay for me ٩(̾●̮̮̃̾•̃̾)۶٩(̾●̮̮̃̾•̃̾)۶٩(̾●̮̮̃̾•̃̾)۶٩(̾●̮̮̃̾•̃̾)۶

Comments… Well, it wasn’t AS GOOD as the first one… the premise had promise (it’s the THE SMITHSONIAN people!) but the delivery left a lot to be desired. Yes, there were numerous funny moments, but some aspects of the movie really… really SUCKED BALLS! It seemed Ben Stiller and the movie itself needs to turn their mojo back on… The acting was uninspired and the movie lacked conviction or anything resembling real comedic flair…

Yeah... go find your moxie...

Yeah... go find your moxie...

Daniel out

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(*‘ω‘ *)