The Voices of the Day

At the office, our camaraderie is such that we are very candid with each other.

A colleague told me something I already knew about myself: that my mood changes throughout the day. I am more quiet and more serious in the afternoon. But I never really dwelled on it. I didn’t think anyone actually noticed.

In truth, I am not a morning person. No I am not cranky in the mornings. In fact, I am more extroverted in my actions ante meridien. I think I wired my brain during my high school years (specifically junior and senior year) to have full neural pathways engaged in the latter part of the day.

I am not so bright when the sun rises as compared to when the sun sets.

My colleague noticed that I do more of my heavy-brain work such as planning, reviewing and learning in the afternoons. In addition to his comment, I am more inclined to reserving houra for creative work after the sun has set.

I am more easily distracted in the morning, less able to shut out the rest of the world when I need to concentrate. I hear everyone talking. And I feel the need to contribute to their conversation. Siempre I am in Public Relations. I have to sniff out gossip and hearsay and just tag it as unconfirmed information while I search for and distill useful and relevant news. A caveat, though: my wit usually comes out once the sun has reached its zenith, never before. So I minimize morning sosyalan. Because nothing witty and sparkling can come from me before noontime. But, of course! Yes! I can smile and say hello. And then if I can help it, will make a graceful exit.

In the afternoons, I am more able to focus and concentrate; better able to listen to my inner drum and the other voices in my head as I ruminate on strategies and initiatives and as I play with creative ideas for future projects. I also do my press release drafts (10 minutes at 4 pm compared to 90 minutes staring at the cursor at 10 am), and draft and refine my reports.

In a nutshell? During mornings I hear and listen to the voices of the world around me and the messages they bear. In the afternoon, I hear myself. During evenings sometimes until way past midnight, I hear my spirit. Of course I pay attention.

That is my rhythm of the voices of the day. What is yours?

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The Importance of Being Thorough

When I was a Freshman in ADMU, our English professor, Eric Torres, pounded in our brains the ethic that the key to good writing is good self-editing. In publishing, this quality is assured by an editorial team that includes a researcher, a content editor, a style editor, and an art director. Often, this team also has a pool of proofreaders that go over manuscripts, galleys, and so on before something goes to print. That was in the early 80s, when editors and proofreaders know and use standard proofreaders’ marks.

Back then, E.T., as he was fondly called, dared us to find typographical errors in the newsmagazines of TIME and NEWSWEEK, whose editorial teams were formidable. If we found typos, we get plus points. Or was it an "A" in our next essay?

The Professor’s point in this was that in all that we do, we have to be thorough. Because being thorough separates the Pros from the Amateurs.

A recent listing by a luxury travel guide included a hotel that closed in 2014 as one of the best places to stay in Manila.

Was it an old post? Even so, it should have been updated because the beast we call the World Wide Web demands information that is always up-to-date.

Was it nostalgia on the writer’s part or was he not thorough enough?

Were his editors not thorough as well?

On spotting talent

Back in 1991 when I was among the panel that chose the new scholars for Philippine High School for the Arts, I was tasked to put together a Talent Determination Test to screen the new Visual Arts scholars.  With my Psychology background and being an artist myself, I put together a battery of tests based on the Torrance Creativity Test, an on-the-spot drawing test, and a task to draw something imaginary. 

I wasn’t just looking for kids who could draw well. The tests I put together looked for Originality, Prolificacy, and Technique.  Technique, though, can be taught. 

Yet, we do know that for an artist’s works to be relevant and have cultural value, his body of work must have Depth and Vision.  To be able to see what is needed around you and how you can respond to that using what is inside you.

How can you tell if an eleven year old, whose only exposure to art heretofore was Disney, Anime, and Looney Tunes, would have Depth and Vision?  No 3-hour test could see that.  But I could measure Originaltiy.  I could measure Prolificacy.  I could see if one’s eye-hand coordination can be disciplined enough to learn Technique.

Depth and Vision comes out when Adversity puts forth challenges.  And that was what the mythical mountain of Makiling brought to its young wards.

From the batch I had chosen came Kawayan de Guia, Don Salubayba, Riel Hilario, to name a few.

The mountain and Philippine High School for the Arts became more legendary because of them.

Mis-Alignments

Without going into the minutiae of the RH-bill, the statement of ProRH Ateneo professors and the CBCP response to investigate the professors for heresy, termination and excommunication, allow me to respond as an alumnus and here-this-term-but-not-in-the-next faculty member trained by Ateneo in the fields of psychology and art.

One of the concepts I studied as a psychology major both as an undergrad and later on in graduate school was Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, an adaptation of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget’s theory.

Where are my textbooks when I need them? But wait, there is Google and Wikipedia! So let me go the way of least resistance and shamelessly plagiarize as I review Kohlberg.

Kohlberg holds that moral reasoning has six identifiable stages, each more adequate at responding to moral dilemmas than its predecessor. In brief and a propos to the current discussion, the stages are as follows:

I. PRE-CONVENTIONAL. These first two stages are common among children, although adults can also exhibit this mode of reasoning.

Stage One: OBEDIENCE AND PUNISHMENT DRIVEN

The individual’s choices are made in OBEDIENCE and ORIENTED TO AVOID PUNISHMENT. The morality of an action is judged by its direct consequences to the child. He will obey to avoid punishment.

Obviously, CBCP thinks that the Ateneo professors are still in this level.

Stage Two: SELF-INTEREST DRIVEN.

The individual decides whatever is in the individual’s best interest. Helping, contributing, or acting only if it benefits him in return.

II. CONVENTIONAL Typical of adolescents and adults. The morality of actions is judged by comparing them to society’s views and expectations. An individual obeys rules and follows norms even when there are no consequences for obedience or disobedience. However, a rule’s appropriateness or fairness is seldom questioned.

Stage Three: INTERPERSONAL ACCORD AND CONFORMITY DRIVEN

The individual fulfills social roles while being receptive to approval or disapproval from others. They try to be a “good boy”or “good girl” to fulfill expectations.

Stage Four: AUTHORITY AND SOCIAL ORDER OBEDIENCE DRIVEN

A Law and Order morality. It is important to obey laws and social conventions because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. Moral reasoning here goes beyond the need for individual approval in the previous stage.

III. POST CONVENTIONAL Also known as the Principled level, is marked by a realization that the individuals are separate entities from society, and that the individual’s own perspective may take precedence over society’s view; individuals may disobey rules inconsistent with their own principles.

People in the post conventional level view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms. Rules are not absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question. Because post-conventional individuals elevate their own moral evaluation of a situation over social conventions, their behavior, especially at stage 6, can be confused with that of those at the pre-conventinal level.

Stage FIVE: SOCIAL CONTRACT DRIVEN

The world is viewed as holding different opinions, rights and values. Such values should be mutually respected as unique to each person or community. Laws are regarded as social contracts rather than rigid edicts. Those that do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.” Decisions are reach through majority decision, and inevitable compromise. A democratic society is based on stage five reasoning.

In my perfect universe, this should be the level of moral reasoning in the current discussion regarding the RH bill. This was where the Ateneo professors were coming from.

Stage SIX: UNIVERSAL ETHICAL PRINCIPLES DRIVEN

Moral reasoning is based on abstract reasoning using universal ethical principles. Laws are valid only insofar as they are grounded in justice, and a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws.

The individual acts because it is right, and not because it is instrumental, expected, legal, or previously agreed upon. The individual has a principled conscience. Interestingly, Kohlberg found it difficult to identify individuals who consistently operate at this level, though he insists that this level of moral reasoning exists.

In a nutshell, here is a group of people espousing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and they are threatened with an Inquisition-style investigation for heresy and an equally Inquisition-style punishment for excommunication.

Major mis-alignment.

Did I say I was trained in Art? And I was teaching it in Ateneo since 1990. Back then there was no Fine Arts program, just a fledgling Interdisciplinary Studies program that held basic drawing and painting classes for those who elect to have an easy A at the beginning but have moved on to serious careers in design and art, receiving the CCP’s 13 Artists Awards, some nominations to the Ateneo Art Awards. Those were my students. They make me proud. From the quagmire of philosophy orals, business plans, group theses and org fairs, they have decided to make art part of their daily life. But oops I digress, maybe my waxing sentimental of them should be in a different post.

To view this from an art teacher’s point of view would be to see it as an attempt at drawing or painting in dire need of interventions based on the principles of contrast, balance, emphasis, rhythm.

Contrast. Contrast in tone through black vs. white, with the interplay of grays and highlights we artists know as Chiaroscuro. Contrast in size through big vs. small, many vs. the individual, grouped vs. separate.

Balance. Equilibrium is more interesting if it is lopsided. When one load in the see-saw is about to tip over. But doesn’t. Because it found its balance.

Emphasis. What should be the focus here? Respect for the individual? Respect for life?

Rhythm. Repetition, Alternation, Progression, Regression.

Harmony. When everything works well together.

tsk. tsk. tsk. Asaaaa…

Okay, I think I will go back to my painting now. Bahala na kayo sa kalabuan niyo, CBCP. We are no longer children.

We have ONE BIG FIGHT ahead.

Press Statement of Fr. Jose T. Villarin, SJ – In Response to the Advertisement of the Chamber of Mines against the Ateneo School of Government

Press Statement of Fr. Jose T. Villarin SJ,
President, Ateneo de Manila University

In Response to the Advertisement of the Chamber of Mines against
the Ateneo School of Government

I issue this statement in response to the half-page advertisement of
the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines in the Philippine Daily
Inquirer (B2, 22 November 2011) where the Chamber criticizes the
Ateneo School of Government (ASoG) for hosting an academic conference
today on The Future of Mining. The advertisement labels the conference
“a farce” and accuses ASoG of not including the industry in the
conference, that “all the presenters are known to be against mining”
and characterized the papers as “all expectedly expressing
anti-mining views”. The Chamber concludes by describing ASoG as having
“allowed itself to be an unabashedly biased institution in the ongoing
debate of the revitalization of the mining industry”.

I have conferred with Dr. Antonio La Viña, Dean of the Ateneo School
of Government, and have reviewed with him the assertions of the
Chamber of Mines. On this basis, as President of the Ateneo de Manila
University, I make the following points:

First, the Chamber of Mines has misunderstood the nature of the
academic conference ASoG convened. This is a peer review conference
where the purpose is to review academic papers and where there is no
intention for a shared output. This is an academic exercise where the
result is an intellectual product of the school. We welcome all
stakeholders reviewing the ASoG papers but the final product is solely
the school?s and will be published in due time.

Second, I reject the accusation that all the presenters are known to
be anti-mining: except for Dr. La Vina and one senior writer, most of
the research team (the whole team consists of 7 people) that presented
papers do not have a reputation or a public record on mining. In fact,
they were chosen precisely because of their ability to be objective
and independent.

I also reject the characterization of the papers being presented as
anti-mining. In fact, the compiled papers concludes that responsible
mining is possible but certain governance conditions must be fulfilled
to make this a reality. The ASoG report identifies these conditions
and calls on the national government to impose a moratorium on the
approval of new mining agreements and operations until such conditions
are met.

We would like to reiterate the invitation to the mining industry to
dialogue with us. Instead of attacking the school and the conference,
we ask them to come to the table and sit down with us to tell us where
ASoG did not get it right and how to improve our research.