Saturday, October 15, 2011

Changing Times or Changing Mores?

Lowering of Ambitions?

No more than a month ago, I overheard from an AM radio program a certain government official encouraging Filipinos to train as hilots rather than nurses because at this time hilots appear to be earning more.  Obviously, this has something to do with increasing number of tourists wanting to try hilot, the Philippine style massage that is believed to be a healing procedure.

Of course, the idea of Filipinos earning more isn’t a bad idea at all.  What is disturbing in this suggestion from a government official is that his statements were directed at the youth, as in “wag na kayong mag-nursing kasi mahal pa yun.  Mag-train na lang kayong maging hilot, tutal kumikita ngayon ng mas malaki ang mga hilot.”    Now, what kind of message does  the government wants to send to the Filipino youth?  This suggestion, as far as I’m personally concerned, is really devaluing the worth of our young citizens who deserve to be more educated individuals and become real professionals.

Those in government are enticing the Filipino youth to train as hilots rather than nurses because the hilots seem to be earning more these days.  The intention, no doubt, is good (we all want Filipinos to earn more) but the message is also telling our youth to lower their ambition in life – which is really lowering their self worth, self esteem. And degrading our values as Filipinos, as well.   

The world will continue to need the services of trained nurses, and this is reason enough for Filipinos to continue training as professional nurses.  The demand for Filipino hilots will not always be high.  In fact, before long this service will eventually wane and the pay will decrease accordingly.

The whims of the labor market change quickly, even within months.  Those who train to be hilots now could find themselves unemployed within one year.  By then, will government tell them to train as rocket engineers because by that time rocket engineers will be in demand and will be earning much more? 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying we should forget about being hilots.  The hilot massage is a tradition that we should sustain, even strengthen (bring it up to the level of a science with its own standards of practice).  Those who wish to master the art of being Hilot should train to be good hilots.  TESDA, I believe, has a complete course on this.  But those who wish to train in other fields must be encouraged and given opportunities to train in those fields they’re interested in.  Those who want to be nurses should train to be professional nurses.  And be good at it.  You want to be hilot?   Train to be one, and be good at it, too.

And, you, government official?  Push our citizens to become the best they can be and become globally competitive in their chosen professions.  Don’t ask them to lower their ambition in life.

To you, Filipinos, aim high and hit the mark!


Any Emergency Services in Our Malls?

I suppose you’ve been frequenting the large malls either in Metro-Manila or in the provinces.  I won’t be surprised if in each of the large malls, on the average there, are at least 10,000 mall goers on a daily basis.  That’s quite a number of people.  Would all these be spending large amounts of money while visiting the malls?  I doubt it.  I believe they go malling to cool themselves especially when the day is sticky and humid and hot.  But, what proportion of this number would need medical attention while they’re in the malls?  For example, the senior citizens would certainly appreciate having some place to sit and rest every now and then as walking the Malls does require stamina.  How about medical emergencies?  Do these things happen frequently?

Do the Malls have clinics to attend to the medical needs of mall goers?  Do they have ambulances for emergency purposes?  Are those security guards, with their belt bags of medical kit, ready and able to provide medical emergency assistance?  Do they know how to perform CPR, for example?  Just asking.

But I’m afraid that the answers to most of these simple questions might be “no” or perhaps "not enough."  Should the owners and managers of these Malls not provide these services to people frequenting their malls?


Some are Sacrificial Lambs 
The senseless killing of 19-year old  BS Computer Science student Given Grace Cebanico of UPLB has been appropriately covered by media these past few days.  Details of the crime have been reported, and the two suspects caught and charged before the Laguna Prosecutor’s Office.  The PNP has announced the case closed with the arrest of the suspects.  But that’s from the point of view of the law enforcement system.  We’ve not even gone into the criminal prosecution system.

Thing is, why did this crime have to happen?  The suspects took the victim’s cell phone, laptop, and wallet, indicators that the suspects intended to rob the victim.  Why did they kill her?  The suspected mastermind (security guard) was reported to have raped the victim so killing her would be one way of keeping her from reporting this senseless act to the police.  Were the suspects on drugs? 

Another issue to consider is that the victim was said to be going home from a late meeting (some say on the UPLB Campus, others say within the subdivision she was living in).  Already near the gate of where she was staying-in, the 5th of September Mansion, in Bgy. Batong Malake in Los Baños, she was snatched by crime suspects Lester Ivan Lopez Rivera (security guard of a small bank in Los Banos) and Percival dela Cruz (tricycle driver), who loaded her in Percival’s tricycle and brought her elsewhere.  The victim, Given Grace Cebanico, was gagged with handkerchief and her hands handcuffed behind her.  Somewhere, she was raped by Rivera.  Perhaps both suspects raped her.

Near the gate of the 5th of September Mansion on Diamond Street in Umali Subdivision, filled with plants and trees, is a very dark area because there are no street lights there anywhere within 30 meters (one wonders why not even at the gate of the 5th of September Mansion was there light – and the place is called a “mansion”). That’s where Given was snatched. 

This was the second incident in the same place.  A few months back, another lady student was stabbed there.  She was lucky to have survived the attacked (well, apparently, she was able to at least partially defend herself having learned some Aikido techniques in her PE class).  Are UPLB students, the future leaders of this country, sacrificial lambs?

I’m not surprised at all that crimes happen in that part of the subdivision because that place is dark, unlighted, and sufficiently far from view by other individuals on the main streets.

It’s about time that authorities of Barangay Batong Malake look into security matters within the subdivision. 

Now, UPLB should enter into a security agreement with its neighboring barangays, particularly Batong Malake where most of the private dormitories are located.  True, there may be curfew inside the UPLB Campus, but since most students live outside campus they are subject to unsafe conditions outside the UPLB gates.  Many incidents have happened in the past and not much has been done to prevent similar ones from happening again.  Would the authorities, both of UPLB and Los Baños, now do something about physical conditions in the area that could help prevent crimes from happening?  How about police or even Barangay Tanod visibility?

The other day, UPLB Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs, Virginia Cardenas, told media that UPLB was preparing to collaborate with the surrounding barangays regarding security outside the UPLB Campus.  Does this mean this hasn't been done even after the brutal murders of Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez more than 15 years ago?  How many more Sarmenta's and Cebanico's will have to go before this issue of security in and outside the UPLB campus is finally resolved?  Better still, how many more Sarmentas and Cebanicos will have to go before there is an end to UPLB students being sacrificial lambs?

Something’s got to be done, and quickly.  More and more people in Batong Malake, and the entire town of Los Baños, are becoming very concerned about their safety.  Los Baños, indeed, has changed over the years from a sleepy university town to an urbanizing center, with all the ingredients of urbanization such as increasing criminality, increasing number of street children, increasing number of informal settlers, increasing number of transcients, many of whom are perhaps part of the bad elements of society who have been resettled from the metropolis to nearby rural towns.  

 Los Baños is fast becoming a troubled town.  


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