Saturday, January 23, 2010

AROUND THE WORD

Today in my Stylistics class with Kim San San, Kim Soon Soon, and Kim Yan Yan (obviously not their real names), the discussion drifted to the Word of the Decade and the Word of the Year. So we googled it and, "Google" was the word of the decade (American Dialect Society, beating out "blog", and "Unfriend" is the word of the year 2009 (Oxford University Press), while "tweet" is the WOTY declared by ADS.

Google. Blog. Unfriend. Tweet. If they're words of the year/decade/day/minute, then definitions are not necessary. Personally, since I've done all four in some capacity over the past year/decade/day/minute, I'm not going to argue.

I got curious: What is the Word of the Year in the Philippines?
A couple of googles later, this is what I found:

Michael Tan of Philippine Daily Inquirer relates a text scam experience that led to his discovery of the term "bagong modus". Read the article full article here:

http://services.inquirer.net/mobile/10/01/08/html_output/xmlhtml/20100107-246107-xml.html

Is that the Pinoy Word of the Year? A term that captures the dubious Pinoy propensity for racket ("raket"), and scams? In 2007, it was "Miskol"; I believe "jueteng" and "pasaway" made it to the top of the list prior to 2007. How do people come up with these lists and choices? As far as my googling has taken me, WOTY for 2008 and 2009 have not been revealed.

Because this blog isn't meant to be scholarly, I will not even attempt to go into a discourse on societal influence on semantics. I will leave that up to the folks at Oxford, Merriam-Webster, and UP Sawikaan. Instead, I asked the 3 Kims in my class what their WOTD and WOTY are, based on their individual experiences:

From Blogger Pictures
(The Three Kims!)

Kim San San :
WOTD: "cellphone"-from the words "cell" and "phone"; handy phone; cell means small particles
WOTY: "DOTA"-I don't know what's the meaning of the word, but it's a famous games that I only heard last year.

Kim Soon Soon :
WOTD: "feeler"-pretentious or feeling "exagg"
WOTY: "add"-used often in websites like friendster and facebook; instead of saying "Can you please invite me to your account so that I could keep in touch with you?"

Kim Yan Yan :
WOTD: "hang out"- "gimmick" or "peer jam" like in bars and malls; also going out
WOTY: "shawty"- American slang noun referred to as "woman", "girlfriend", "girl", widely used by Americans especially in their pop music

Thursday, January 14, 2010

EXPLORING CANDIDATES' WEBSITES SERIES: MANNY VILLAR / NOYNOY AQUINO SITE-BY-SITE

From Blogger Pictures

VERSUS

From Blogger Pictures

I finally got around to checking out two presidential candidates' websites today. My idea was to do a "site-by-site" (a site side-by-side for comparative purposes). That wasn't really so smart, as I needed to minimize one to maximize the other. It was also my idea not to go deep into the sites (i.e. click everything on the screen)--it was 11:42pm after all--but to appraise the look and feel of the sites. I figured, with Noynoy and MV being the current occupants of the presidential leaderboard,I might as well look at the more trivial aspects of these two sites just for the heck of it. I promise to read their individual platforms better, for I subscribe to Joker's infamous question, "Why so serious?". Website-bashing is loads more fun than candidate-bashing, you know.

COLOR
Noynoy stuck to the black and yellow scheme, as expected. This works for him, because it's a constant reminder of how famously yellow his deceased heroic parents were. The yellow ribbon on the upper left side of the header, shaped like a dove, is a surefire hit with Corysters worldwide. I personally would love to have that ribbon on my lapel.
As for Villar, well, we've seen his orange shirts, and there's nothing wrong with them. But to tint the whole website with a papaya-like hue is taking it too far.
For the website color war: Noynoy-1, Villar-0.

HOMEPAGE
Villar's "V" sign is all over the place, and so is his photogenic face. The site's header boasts of flash-enabled images of him on a billboard. The rest of the homepage is very cluttered, with two links marked "OFW" and "HOUSING" that lead to forms that visitors need to fill up to get help and info. I wonder: does anyone even get a response from Villar himself?
Noynoy's header is composed of a medium-shot of him foregrounding what looks to be a scene from his first star-studded commercial. Looks good so far. What disappointed me was the left sidebar with the big black bold letters 'SUPPORT' and 'VOLUNTEER.' It just screams, "Help me! I don't have money to mount a national campaign!" And I go: Didn't Kris volunteer to support you (read: FUND your campaign) and hire a stylist for you?
For the homepage war: Noynoy-0, Villar-1

MEDIA/DOWNLOADS
Just one statement about Noynoy's online media presence: HE AIN'T HIS SISTER KRIS.
Just one word about Villar's online media presence: WOWOWEE
For the Media war: Noynoy-0, Villar-1

Click to view the comedy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aut_chXPML8

Someday I will get around to actually reading their blogs and friending them both on facebook. Till then, here's a public service announcement from Rihanna:

From Blogger Pictures

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

BEAT YOU AT THE BOARD GAMES!

From Blogger Pictures

Call me the ungeek, but I never learned how to play chess. I can tell a king from a queen, and a rook from a knight, and that's about it. My curiosity about the game was piqued late last year when I finished reading Katherine Neville's The Eight, that pre-Dan Brown novel about religious and political intrigues across Western civilization history centered on the game of chess, so I fiddled with a lame computer chess version. Again, that's about it.

Even without chess, my shady 70's-80's childhood was replete with all kinds of board games. Almost every Christmas or my birthday, without fail, I would receive a board game as a gift, or inherit a second-hand set from my older cousins. Because I was never a solitary child, I lived to play these games with family and friends. It's four players, or nothing! Here are some of the board games that have molded me into what I am now: bored of games (Get it? Get it?):

From Blogger Pictures

(Prof. Plum, a murder suspect in the game Cluedo; photo from www.cluedofan.com)

1. Cluedo
I totally channeled Nancy Drew with Cluedo. I even followed a British TV series on cable with totally different characters, but with essentially the same premise: find the killer, the weapon and the crime scene, you win. Anyone who's played it must agree with me: the game was so cool because of the "suspects"-Professor Plum, Mr. Green, Miss Scarlett, Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. White, and Colonel Mustard; the "weapons"-candlestick, lead pipe, knife, revolver, rope; and the "crime scene"-conservatory, kitchen, lounge, hall, etc. The objective is to be the first to make an accusation involving the three elements listed above, and for that accusation to be correct, as proven by the three cards inserted into a "confidential envelope" before the game starts. Before a player can make a logical accusation, though, he must first express "suspicion" using this linguistic pattern: "I suspect that (suspect's name, e.g. Col. Mustard) killed (the victim--it's always the same victim) in the (crime scene, e.g. conservatory), with a (weapon, e.g. knife). The other players will hint at whether that player is right or not, based on the cards they hold in their cards (e.g. another player must say "No" if he is holding one, two or all the cards mentioned by the player expressing suspicion). So basically, the game is all about deduction, process of elimination, and intelligent guessing. And now that I am writing about this, I'm itching to do some sleuthing in the house, for my precious Cluedo has been missing since I finished college...

2. Scrabble
I need not describe how this ultimate word game is played. A bonafide worldwide sensation then and now, complete with a multilingual website and downloadable PC game version, this is the board game that slays all board games. I've had about four sets in my lifetime, from the bulky wooden set to the travel version, and all of them have helped while away those lazy afternoons. The most exciting part of the game for me is angling for the triple word block, and nearly wringing the neck of my opponent when he beats me to the coveted spot.

There's a Scrabble-like game called Upwords, which should be more challenging because you can stack up the tiles to form new words. My only problem with it is the monotonous color of the plastic board, so unlike the patterned colors of the Scrabble board. The scoring system is also quite ho-hum, with only one point given per letter per tile (except the "Q" which automatically comes with a "u"). The tiles are also difficult to grasp for some reason. If the manufacturer could only get these imperfections out of the way, it'll be the last word in board games.

From Blogger Pictures


3. Trivial Pursuit
My friend Rahnee brought this to one of our college sleepovers, and I swear we didn't sleep. As the name of the game implies, it's all about knowing popular culture-Western pop culture, that is. It means that you have to be familiar with Beatles songs, with 80's cop shows, with literary figures, world geography, and stuff you'll never learn in school, kinda like the opposite of "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader".

4. Pictionary
First you have to pray that you get a teammate who can draw decent stick figures. The rest is great fun which includes laying the blame on the designated artist even if he's already done a Picasso. The objective is for your team to get to the finish line by correctly guessing a teammates drawing based on the color-coded topics printed on the card. For the category "All Play", even the opposing team can guess what's being drawn, and mayhem ensues when everyone starts screaming their answers.

5. Twilight The Game
I just acquired this one from Jeje, a fellow Twilighter. I haven't even unsealed the box! But looking at the directions on the back of the box, I'd say it's a straightforward race to the finish, with the player knowing more about Twilight having the edge. One day soon I'll unseal the box and force someone to play with me; then I have something more helpful to say about it.
After all, the game might suck, but who cares? IT'S TWILIGHT!!!

From Blogger Pictures

[3 hours later]

So I couldn't wait. I opened the game box and spent an hour-and-a-half learning the rules, which to my dismay was a thousand times more complex than Scrabble. The race to the finish is actually the race to collect 8 scene cards before anyone else. To do that, you roll the dice, move your Cullen gamepiece around the board, land on a square and do what it says, which is mostly "pick one card." That's where the fun starts. So far I know that challenge cards have red and white daggers, one of which will ask the player questions about the movie (that threw me coz I prefer the questions to be about the book. Oh well.). If the player gives the correct answer, he has a chance to collect a scene card (He needs 8), but he is forced to discard one that he already has. To get to scene 7 and 8 (the prom scene no less), the player needs to get all 6 scene cards first.

I have a few complaints with the material used for the game pieces. Cardboard Cullens (all gamepieces are Cullen crests) aren't going to live an immortal life. The text on the cards are also too small for astigmatics like me, though Alice Cullen wouldn't have a problem with that. The box itself is made of soft cardboard--not immortal either. It looks like a trial version, actually, as though Cardinal, the manufacturer, was still testing the product. I suggest that they make the box sturdier and the gamepieces more durable, since Twilight fans tend to be rabid ( I almost freaked out when I saw the James cards!).

From Blogger Pictures

That aside, I like the game's concept. It forces the players to use their recall and comprehension skills, and of course, ogle at the pictures.

All I need now is to look for playmates...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

TEACHERS OF SUBSTANCE:LESSONS FROM ELIZABETH KOSTOVA'S THE HISTORIAN

From Blogger Pictures


I closed the book The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova over a year ago with a mixture of exhilaration (what a great book!) and disappointment (what an awful ending!). I won't review the book here, so please check out my FULL BOOK REVIEW BLOG of The Historian over at www.xanga.com/millette_espiritu. More than just another book about vampires--actually The Vampire of lore, Dracula/Vlad Tepes, the novel is a testament to the nobility of the teaching profession.

My favorite character is Professor Bartholomew Rossi, a brilliant historian and quite an intellectual academic superstar in his day. Paul (as narrator in this chapter, while his daughter is his rapt audience) is his dissertation advisee, and clearly, the young graduate student has nothing but admiration for the esteemed Rossi. He was part-English, part-Italian, but the Anglo part, at least in Paul's worshipping eyes, stood out:"His face was of crisp English mold, sharp-featured and intensely blue-eyed...to look into Rossi's face was to see a world as definite and orderly as the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace." It was Rossi's keen mind that made him the American Paul's Idol: "His mind is another thing altogether...his encyclopedic production had long since won him accolades..." But above all else, Rossi was "the kindest, warmest friend I'd ever had." I found the latter to be true in the succeeding chapters. Let me jump the gun here by saying that when Rossi mysteriously disappeared just minutes after his last visit, it was Paul who risked his life to find his mentor.

I can sympathize with Paul. I was the ultimate "sip-sip" in high school, perhaps without meaning to be one. As a student, I remember hanging onto the coattails of my teachers. To my mind, long before I drifted towards the academe myself, teachers were God's gift to humanity. To this day, I believe it to be true. After a quick rewind to my days as a fledgling learner, I've come up with my top 5 all-time favorite teachers:

1. Ms. Dulce Atienza (Grade 5 and 6 Math, Manresa School)-Ms. Atienza is a motherly, articulate teacher who made Math meaningful for me. It has since lost its meaning in high school, when the teachers resorted to terrorism to drill cosines and square roots into my system.I love Ms. Atienza for being kind but firm, and, as my section adviser in 5th grade, for being my second mother.

2. Mrs. Pearl Santos (Freshman English, Manresa School)-My Idol with a capital "I." I lived for her 12-page exams on diagraming sentences, and her stories about her days as a hard-hitting journalist. She was a perfectionist, all business at all times, and she played no favorites when my other teachers then had not-so-subtle "babies." I began to love the English language because of her.

3. Ms. Angie Ureta (Junior and Senior English & History, Manresa School)-She was 19 when she zoomed into our batch's humdrum existence in 1985, and we were enthralled by her youthful candor and world-wise sensibility. I thought back then that she picked on me out of unreasonable cruelty, but I began to realize that she was bulldozing me into finding my niche--writing. What I am now, a writer, I owe to her.

4. Prof. Emmanuel Torres (Shakespeare on Film, Ateneo de Manila Graduate School)-Firstly, I loved his class because we met every week in the Ateneo Art Gallery. Secondly, he was a non-threatening, soft-spoken, brilliant man who brought us to the Globe Theatre with just a few panoramic sentences, as well as his hard-to-find films. But I will never forget, most of all, his comments on my essays, most of which he would read aloud in class, to my utter embarrassment. For my paper on Mel Gibson's portrayal of Hamlet, he wrote: "With this paper, and others like it, you have demonstrated a potential for being a professional critic." OMG.

5.Prof. Danton Remoto (Survey of Philippine Literature, Ateneo de Manila Graduate School)-I will never again read NVM Gonzalez' The Bamboo Dancers without thinking of Prof. Remoto's acerbic comments on protagonist Ernie Rama's sexuality. Our class of 6 students was clearly in awe of this man's literary genius, and I for one, was motivated to churn out academic papers that would hopefully meet his standard, which I'm afraid I never did. But that's OK. Today, I see him fight for gay and lesbian rights on TV with much tact and poise, and I'm proud to tell one and all that Danton Remoto was my teacher.


To my delightful surprise, a former student, Maika Bernardo, wrote about me in Inquirer.net:
"Miss Millette encouraged me to write more and head the school paper staff. Her words of praise helped aspiring writers to come out of their shell. With her encouragement, I earned a leadership award on graduation day."


To view the full article, see:
http://services.inquirer.net/print/print.php?article_id=20091004-228351

I believe that teachers impart learning more effectively if they are MENTORS, not instructors. I've tried mentoring, and I can safely claim that I've done more for my students this way, rather than give them lectures thay can always download from some website. This is confirmed in The Historian, particularly in Paul and Rossi's warm, genuine friendship forged by a common love and respect for history, and for each other as human beings. And this is affirmed by the many teachers I've thanked along my life's journey, and the many students like Maika who have thanked me simply by being good, God-fearing, productive citizens of the world.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Exploring Candidates' Websites Series :The Official Website of Mar Roxas

The Offical Website of Mar Roxas

From Blogger Pictures

Hey, I'm not campaigning for Mar Roxas, or for anyone in particular. That is not my style. But what I am is a curious, dubious website aficionado. So today, I wondered, what does a politician's website look like? After all, with the inevitable social networking explosion these days, I'm very sure that candidates' PR departments will maximize the relatively cost-efficient avenues provided by the internet.

Truthfully, I searched "Manny Villar" first. Error there. Mar Roxas' website loaded in .2 seconds (is that a sign?). Then I realized my personal faux pas: Roxas was running for VP, not president. In my mind, he was still a presidentiable (regrets, Korina?). Anyways, the website was waiting for me to be explored explore it.

The site was fairly easy to navigate. It's actually student-friendly, with its down-to-earth, highly readable blogs (by Roxas himself), discussion of issues on education, "murang gamot", agriculture, etc. There are many interesting tidbits for the clueless like me: that Roxas is the "father of call centers and BPO industry", that he was voted senator by 20 million Filipinos (a record, the site says), and that he has 24,586 Facebook fans (as of 2:04pm today), and that he eats leche flan with rice (hmm, shades of the Obamas and their cheeseburger binges).

I can fathom what Roxas' web press team is trying to do: make Roxas a poster boy for new politics, as opposed to the "trapo" stigma that many of his elders and contemporaries are projecting. All of Roxas' pictures on the site show a smiling, laid-back guy, with a good number featuring wife Korina, the two of them in frolicking pictures of marital bliss. The site is littered with tweets of support, testimonials that sing his praises. Even the blue Atenista color helps give him an air of respectability, prestige, and nobility, which aren't exactly the nouns you'd associate with the masses. For some reason, the "Mr. Palengke" monicker is absent from the site, which for me is a smart move, as the website's target audience aren't really the market-going public.

I give the marroxas site a two-thumbs up. Props to the web design team for keeping it simple, compact, and functional. Will Mr. Roxas' political career be just as simple, compact and functional? Wait till the ballots are scanned.

P.S. Just sharing (proudly, ahem) that I was a Gerry Roxas Leadership awardee in 1987...
From Blogger Pictures

Friday, January 1, 2010

NEW YEAR'S AT POTTER'S RIDGE-TAGAYTAY

I like my New Year's quiet and foggy, not loud and smoggy. So the family and I trooped to Tagaytay on the 31st, the sound of early bursts of firecrackers fading out as we exited Sucat.

From Blogger Pictures
What I wasn't expecting was the icy air blowing in from two huge picture windows of our suite room. Spectacular views from both windows (one was a carabao indulging on grass) kept us entertained for hours until the fireworks started to light up the horizon.

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

The best part was Mama's unbridled joy at the cool wind on her face, the sumptuous pancakes and sausage-bacon breakfast and the incessant teasing from all of us. It's a shame that her eyesight isn't too keen anymore, so she missed a lot of the heart-stopping scenery. But she was having a really happy new year, and that's all that matters.
From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

(Note: Mama has Parkinson's Disease, which, doctors believe developed from depression. It has affected her mobility, her eyesight, and in severe bouts of nervous tension and panic--her speech. She is our family's Baby, so we do everything in our power to make her happy and comfortable.)

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures