Friday, January 30, 2009

was surfing google videos and youtube to see if i can find educational videos on "21st century education" and found tons of them. instantly i become aware that i am a digital migrant whereas my students are digital natives. how do they learn? and how do i teach? and more importantly, what is the story that renders our educational mandates as either obsolete or salient? what are we educating for or should be educating for the 21st century and beyond?
Neil de Grasse Tyson said that an asteroid is traveling towards our planet and may hit us in 2029.

does the thought of that put things in perspective?
i'm having weird thoughts now...

Monday, January 26, 2009

how does a Buddhist curse? let me count the ways.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And now for a poetic break...

Novel Chatelaine
By Eileen Tabios
Published by Amanda Laughtland

Dysthimia is salt.
Ubiquitous grains

About that
Am not sure.

Novel Chatelaine is not harmless.

To give in to the idea that you can do anything with form and language because no one said you couldn’t…endangers your credentialled sensibilities.
Since sensibilities are cultivated and heavily puts us in debt to earn a three-letter word after one’s name…imperils the top perch reached after the arduous climb.
The arduous climb is a claim to pedigreed expertise in something…like litcrit.
Experts always work from a template of pre-ordained statements about the way things ought to be.

What is a good novel? How long or short could it be so that it’s not called a short-story or a novelette? When is it literary or merely popular? Or simply: what is a novel?

Armed with these questions, I plan to take Novel Chatelaine to my colleagues in the English Department to see what they have to say. Can a chapbook be a novel?

Why not? Eileen Tabios asks. So she writes a seven-chapter novel, each chapter comprising of one paragraph with less than 50 words on each. All of it in one 8x11 page folded into eighths.

Within this economy of words and natural resources, I hear the story. I feel its emotions. Its tone. Its heaviness. Its denouement into a suspended moral angle of repose. I could even memorize the entire novel!

Dang. If a poet can express a novel-length story into the size of a tiny chapbook, what does one need a novel for?

I told you this novel is not harmless.

Why else? Because Eileen Tabios succeeds yet again in transgressing my expectations. As in The Secret Life of Punctuations where she subverts the rules of grammar, she keeps on creating new forms in unexpected spaces. "I am a Novelist!" she declares in the accompanying postcard and I laugh hysterically because I am thinking of the many times I have shrunk from declaring myself as a … something. And when I ask myself "why not?" I know that is prompted by the fecundity of Eileen’s poetry.

There is a lesson here for me.
The time for being harmless is over.
No more timidity.
No more excuses.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I have been watching CNN's Obama love fest and following Dawn's DC blog. I've also been thinking of writing an essay on "Obama and what it means for Education" for Harvard Educational Review but I get caught up in the emotional highs and I can't write. Did you see those kids from Ron Clark Academy, the little Obamas (although there's another Chicago group calling itself same)? I love it!
Over dinner the conversation goes like this:
Leny: there's a love fest going on CNN but the radical left is cynical; they think O is not going to change anything fundamental.
C: what does the radical left want?
Leny: a change away from the imperial narrative (being no.1 in the world; of behaving as if the US owns the world); demilitarization; redistribution of wealth.

Oh, I don't much like it when I sound like a damper on the euphoria of the moment. Yes, it is a historical moment. It is a radical shift. It sends out a message of hope and renewal in America's greatness (but pls, let's redefine this word).

But the other night I was listening to Jeff Sachs' lecture on his theory of divergence and convergence and he is saying some things that I haven't heard in the discussion of the financial/economic mess we're in. What I hear him saying is this: We can no longer rely on the economic theories of the 50s when we relied on nature's limitless capacity to support our technological and industrial innovations. Today we know that those resources are limited and that the carrying capacity of the planet is in peril. We cannot tell China and India and the rest of the planet not to develop that is why we need new economic theories. Etc.etc. Why haven't we heard from Jeff Sachs on the current mess we're in? Why haven't the Obama folks asked him for advice?
In a guest appearance on the Daily Show, Sachs said: first, we need to stop bombing everyone we disagree with. (watch the rest of what he said...)
So I am hoping that Obama would lead us gently into a new way of thinking about ourselves and the planet we live in. I hope he is just holding back because maybe he senses that the Average American is not ready to hear this new paradigm.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What You Don't Know About Gaza (thanks, Eric!)

now reading...
Eboo Patel's Acts of Faith
The Revolution Will Not be Funded (on the nonprofit industrial complex)
How to Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use it for Social Change
The World is as You Dream It
Myth, Mimesis, Music and Magic Among the T'bolis

Thursday, January 08, 2009

photos by Jonathan Cena

Mendung Sabal has died.

A shaman never dies.
I like this image of her next to the iron butterfly that carried her to places outside of Lake Sebu and across the oceans.
These are some of her words as told to Grace Nono.
My knowledge is special because the spirits themselves taught me through my dreams... Lentinum is my main teacher... She bestowed on me the gifts she gave to the T'boli people.
My assignment is to heal and recount history; to teach how we must relate with our neighbors; how to handle conflicts and promote peace; to teach the values of bravery and the protection of our territory. I also teach how datu must deal with their wives...When people fight and kill and I sing to them, they start crying.
I think there would be peace if my song reaches the government.
I am unlettered. I blame my father for not sending me to school....But now that my songs are written down, I am confident. They won't be lost....it gives the spirits joy and fulfillment. I feel successful because my relationship with them is complete. Success means following the guidance of the spirits.
My dream is for us to keep alive what we have...
I love you, Mendung.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Posting here my pagbabalikloob ramblings re "Palestine and Gaza"...Terry Bautista asked why the Fil Am community is not talking about the latest events...

You are right, Terry. Am glad you were able to go. I know some Fil Am folks who said they would go to the SF rally. For some of us it's not always possible to drive long distance. Come to think of it, even my listserves that usually forward news from and about the Middle East have been quiet during the holidays.

I suspect that many of us are overwhelmed by the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and don't know where to begin to make connections to our own history so that we can start engaging in the conversation... And given the lopsided (pro-Israel) stance of corporate media, we don't get to hear it from the other side.

What I do know personally is that there are people from both Israel and Palestinian sides who are doing reconciliation work. Many oppose the Israeli carpet bombing of Gaza; many long for peace; and many actually live alongside each other. I get regular updates from Yehuda Stolov of Interfaith Action in Jerusalem on these efforts (but haven't heard from him lately on the latest after the cease-fire). Also Rabbi Arthur Waskow in the US speaks out against Israel aggression so I know that the US-support of Israel is not suppoted by the entire US Jewish community.

How to connect these events to our own history and why it should concern us...i suppose there are many entry points. For example, I'm concerned that many in the christian evangelical community may actually support Israel based on some religious premise about the role of Israel in the return of Jesus Christ. Religion...politics...you know what toxic mix that is.

During the war in Lebanon about two years ago, I got personally invested because I had several Filipino-Lebanese students who had families in Lebanon. I know that many of us have relatives working in the Middle East who get caught in the crossfire of these conflicts.
Many though would probably rather avoid getting caught in the ideological fray...as they think about their jobs and the need to send money home.

I've been to a consultation and a conference where both Israeli and Palestinian delegates were present...and while the political discussions at the national level seem hopelessly unable to create lasting peace, many folks on the ground are working together on how to make peace with each other. I will never forget the lament of the Palestinian delegate when he said, in tears,
-- what i am most sad about is how we are being taught how to hate. when the Israelis take our water away so that our children are thirsty and hungry, we are being taught how to hate. when they take our orchards so that we can no longer live off our lands, we are being taught to hate; when we can't go anywhere without being searched and humiliated, we are being taught to hate."....He said this in the presence of the rest of us, many of whom are from (neo)colonized lands...and we all shed tears with him because this is our story, too.

I was reading Arno Gruen (psychologist) who writes that the violence of modern civilization comes from our inability to cry because from childhood, children are conditioned to not express their pain and suffering, esp. boys...and lose their emphatic perception at an early age. This is later expressed in violent and aggressive ways. "When people lose track of the pain and suffering of others, they become destructive." (in Listening to the Land).

Anyway, this is much too long now...but thanks for starting this thread.


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