Writing prompts and The Daily Post

After more than 10 years of blogging, I’ve often been asked how I still manage to find something to write about. With a food blog, that’s easy. For as long as I eat, I’ll have something to write about. But part of me will never be content to just write about one topic. That’s why even in the early days of my blogging, back in 2003, I have always provided myself (and readers, indirectly) with variety. There was Sassy Lawyer and there was a photo blog. I’ve always found that it was a healthy way to go about writing — focus on too narrow a subject and, after a while, you tire of it and the quality of the output suffers.

And it is for that reason that I have kept some non-food sections of my website. Once in a while (and the once in a while is becoming more often these days) when I need to shake off images of food and the words to go with them, I write about other things. Often, it’s really an effort, but I have to make the effort because my mind needs the variety.

And just how do I find things to write about? The easiest technique is to get reactionary. Read something then write a reaction. Not hard at all. The experience of reading the news these days can elicit so much rage, and that rage can create some pretty terrific writing. But who wants the emotional exhaustion, right?

So, to find ideas, there was a time when I pored over the The Daily Post. There are all kinds of writing challenges and prompts in there. But, after only a few weeks, I stopped visiting the site. The challenges and prompts were too structured. Not at all my idea of exploratory and creative writing. I wondered where I would pull out the creative juices from without taking the cue from someone or something else. And I realized that I only needed to tap from deep inside me. There are three prompts that have never failed to result in writing:

1. Ideas
2. Memory
3. Images

Ideas are things that have yet to become, memory is something we have already experienced and images… well, that’s just a matter of describing. Read more

Laguna de Bay: you don’t pronounce Bay as in Manila Bay

I used to think that it was correct to refer to Laguna de Bay sa Laguna Lake. Not. “Laguna” is the Spanish word for lagoon, pond and lake. So, “Laguna Lake” is, literally, Lake Lake which doesn’t make any sense at all. But the misnomer is not borne out of some superficial mistake. It is borne out of mispronunciation resulting from colonization.

The body of water designated in maps and atlases as Laguna de Bay is pronounced Laguna de bai. Not ba-i but bai, where the vowel “a” has a short sound. It is pronounced the same way as the “a” in lad, lass, mad, ass… Bay is a town in Laguna province. In the olden days, the town of Bay included what today are Calauan and Los Baños. Bay was the first capital of Laguna. When the Spaniards arrived, they named the lake after the town. Hence, it became Laguna de Bay. Read more

Education should not simply be a training ground for skilled labor, Industrial Age style

The Guardian has a thoughtful article about how stagnant and irrelevant traditional education has become.

As someone living in the Third World where education, tradition and religion are still so strongly intertwined, this article hits me hard.

I agree that education, like any other social institution should be attuned with the changing times. But the reality is that, with few exceptions, the educational system worldwide has remained unchanged over the last 200 years. Patterned after the needs of an emerging Industrial Revolution, education was designed to provide skilled labor for the growing number of businesses. That’s why the focus has always been on the three R’s. That was all that was needed — basic reading, writing and mathematical skills — to run machines, count how much they yielded every day, label products, etcetera. College education was for the wealthy and government never took upon itself to provide it for free for everyone. Why? Because what was taught in college was non-essential to industrialization. Aristotle, Montesquieu and Shakespeare had no place in the factories.

The problem with the article in The Guardian is that although it acknowledges that education should be dynamic and relevant to the changing times, it does not seek to re-orient education to become anything more than what it was at the start of the Industrial Revolution. It just says that businesses and employers require a different set of skills nowadays, so education should change in order that the needs of these businesses and employers can be efficiently met. In short, the change is superficial because education will still be nothing more than a training ground for skilled labor.

But shouldn’t education be more than that? Read more

Criminal charges versus Philippine Coast Guards in Taiwan fisherman killing

It’s always amusing, albeit in a twisted sense, to read angry comments of Filipinos who, after the Philippine Coast Guard opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing vessel, killing one, were so quick to defend the Coast Guard and vilify the Taiwanese government for its quick condemnation.

It’s always amusing to watch fools display their shallow sense of nationalism, with all the self-righteousness of the “api”, for all the world to see — taking the side of their countrymen on the basis alone of nationality and without even bothering to wait until an investigation could be conducted and concluded, and the facts separated from the “palusot” of the incompetent. Curious, really, how these fellow Filipinos could be so darn sure that the Coast Guard couldn’t have been in the wrong when they themselves weren’t there to witness the incident.

I wonder how they will react to this:

MANILA – The National Bureau of Investigation has recommended the filing of criminal and administrative cases against members of the Philippine Coast Guard involved in the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman off Batanes island last May, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima told reporters in a text message Monday. [Interaksyon]

I wouldn’t be surprised if they start claiming that the Philippine government has sold the Filipinos out.

A fashionista in Congress. Not a she.

[Rep. Jose Benjamin] Benaldo has no problems telling people about how much his wardrobe and accessories cost. For instance, former councilor Teodulfo Lao said he was once told by congressional staff members about how Benaldo showed off and told them that he was wearing a P40-thousand suit…

Various sources said Benaldo cherishes the thought of being romantically linked with sexy actresses…

Another journalist said people in Benaldo’s circle laughed when this paper published a photo showing Benaldo with a 35-year old Russian blonde. The congressman actually told people that he was “happy” and “thankful” about the photo because “now, Cagayanons know” that he, allegedly, is a ladies’ man.

The article also has stories about expensive cars and expensive “beauty treatments.” Hard to say to each his own because the SALN of this member of Congress does not support the lifestyle he seems to flaunt.

Full story at Gold Star Daily News.

News stories here, here and here about Brazilian model Daiana Menezes, Benaldo’s fiancee, might be relevant.