Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Forcing a Move: Philippine Chess in a glance

The most popular chess player we have is Asia's First Grand Master (AFGM) Eugene Torre. Tito Euge, as most chess youngsters know him,catapulted to fame when he garnered his title in 1972, at the age of 22. That was 42 years ago and now, unbeknownst to the public, 14 more Filipinos have reached Grand Master status.


Who are these men? My students would ask me. They know no one else besides Tito Euge. Oh how I wanted to tell them how I used to study (and sometimes copy) Antonio's games and style since we have the same pet openings, how Villamor used to conduct trainings in a cafe, how Nelson Mariano II stunned everyone at an early age, how Paragua was the first Filipino to cross into the 2600 rating (Super GM status) and was the hero of my high school years and there were so much more I wanted the public to know.

It's unfair that everyone knows basketball and volleyball collegiate players yet only a few know of our grand masters. My father once told me, 'Theirs is a spectator sport, ours is an acquired taste'. To the common eye the game I love is boring, little do they know chess is brutal.

The news of Wesley So's plea to switch federations shattered the glass enveloping every chess player. The poor bewildered public who new nothing about the Filipino who reached #12 in the world rankings shrugged their shoulders. Philippine Chess teetered on a scale.

In this age, chess needs to be known. Unless we are we do not get sponsorship or donations, funds will continue to dry out. We need to follow through and support our programs. 70% of our Grand Masters are based abroad. Some started a chess school in another country because chess schools here have a high mortality rate. Very few courageous men try to push the program but to no avail. We do not have a program for top players like Wesley, Paragua or Barbosa. Our grassroots programs are struggling.

The term 'we need it now' is overused. We needed funding years ago. What we need now is to unite. The Chess Community, divided into sides by the Wesley issue, needs to move on. We need to stop talking about what we should do. We need to act. We, the brave men who play the game of kings.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Invisible Force

After everything, after I've been there, after rendering extra hours and losing so much time, energy and valuables, I still did not contribute on the project? Is this really happening to me again? How many people are like you out there? How many times will I be fooled? When will I learn? How hard is it to forget?  How much more of this should I take?


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Price We Pay

It's all out in the open. Most of us knew for decades yet no one dared to say anything. Year after year, president after president, generations after generations; it's not new. Corrupt officials still rule the nation, people are still paying for a substandard service and citizens still die of hunger.

I'm not surprised that it took a long time for the issue to break out into the open. The President himself was a congressman and a senator, meaning he knew this was going on, he himself may have benefited from it.

What my parents worked hard to earn, what my grandparents paid for good governance and what I give now as a responsible citizen; all that money gets funneled into nothingness. While we scrape and save up for simple pleasures in life these leaders get to swim in money.

Mr. President, if Filipinos drown in flood waters because funds for anti-flood measures were stolen shouldn't those responsible be charged of involuntary manslaughter? Look it up, you know it's true. There better be justice. The government dares to prosecute tax evaders while corrupt officials get to walk freely. I challenge the ranks, issue a statement of arrest for those implicated in this. Let's not let them go into hiding just like Napoles. The ranks need to be cleaned. I, as a citizen, demand to know where the annual national budget goes, how much you earn and how much you spend. It's only fair. The government knows how much I earn, since you take out a significant percentage of it. It's money I never get to see.

May those who can say they never stole from us citizens stand up proud. Then publish their financial statements, I want to see those hypocrites defend themselves and their pride crumble. Shame them. This needs to be done so that no one with the same motives would ever run for public service and would dare do it again.

Abolish the PDAF. One agency should hold the funds, another does the accounting and publishes the findings. It's a basic financial principle, learn it. This way we get to go after a small group if there'a an anomaly. No one else to point fingers at. Transparency.

Filipinos, when are we going to learn? Those we put up in pedestals no longer see us worth dying for. For them money is worth killing for. Years from now would you desire to watch the same things happen all over again? The pattern needs to be broken. Carry your responsibility. We put them up there, we chose them to hold those funds, we gave them freedom to do as they see fit. This is the price we pay. Will we make the same mistakes?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Great Depression

People are prejudiced for all kinds of reasons.
Tolerance, the act of allowing something to be different.
It's not even saying you have to like the other person. It's just saying, 'Leave him alone.'
- Stanley aka 'Big G' in That's What I am

I was picked on as a kid. It's not something I'm proud of yet I won't hide it. Rarely do the tortured speak out and uncommon are those who stand up for them. I envy those who stood up and overcame. I tried to do the same but fights against ideas are hardly won. I still weep for the young - the ones we lost in this fight. More children are depressed (and are on medication) now than when the Great Depression was upon us. 

I don't know how school is for kids anymore, with the anti-bullying act and the equality bills, but I strongly believe viewing of awareness films on being mean, cruel and prejudicial should be mandatory. Yes children can be cruel but maybe they just don't know how to be ashamed of how they're acting. Doing this, they see themselves in a different vantage point. Maybe then we can teach not just preach. 

That's What I am is a coming of age film based on true events about the simplicity and complexity of the pubescent years. This is not an advertisement (disclaimer) but it wasn't released here. I just watched the film which led to this post (previous posts were written on bullying and its effects on this blog).

The film doesn't have to be this one, schools can make their own (can be a school project) but here's the trailer:



Monday, February 18, 2013

A Voter's Plea

Election is right around the corner. An activity to others, a right and responsibility for me. I will not dismiss the fruit of my ancestors' wars, I will vote. But as I carry out this task I am burdened, and to the electoral candidates, to all who have the authority in this, I voice out a plea.

Give me a choice, at the very least between right and wrong not the lesser of two (or more) evils. Do not make me choose between short term financial gain and future economic growth, nor make me choose between my life (and/or my family's) and the betterment of life for all. Do not dumb me down by singing or dancing in front of me or by putting up colorful signs that litter and disturb the public. Do not act as if you care and give me free things while the rest of the year you drive by in your cars neglecting my fellow countrymen living and dying in the streets. Stop carrying and kissing children who you can't even give a good enough education to. Don't link arms with a someone you do not believe in. How can we trust you if you do? Show us credibility and reliability not good looks and powerful names. Most of all, show us the beauty of humanity. Make us proud of our race, our nationality. Give us, I plead, the enthusiasm to vote.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Calling Off the Search Party


I once had 4 friends who wouldn't eat lunch without me. They made me smile, I made them laugh. They looked after me, I adored them. I was 11 and in high school, they were in their last year of college.

Fitting in was never my forte. I've always preferred the quiet loneliness over the boisterous teasing. I was barely a teen and in high school, there was so much going on. Before them I never belonged to a "group". Honestly, I was the kind "groups" rejected and then gang up on. 

I can't recall how or why it started. They were student teachers, on Practicum (Internship for teachers). It was required they teach but never was it said they should take a student under their wing. As far as I know the school restricts high school students from affiliating with college students and clubs. They probably saw me eating lunch in the classroom. A few students with packed lunch did this. I didn't mind eating alone, this way I had more time to roam by myself after eating. One day they just fetched me from the room, all 4 of them, then we'd have lunch, swap viands and stories. If I wasn't in the room they'd search for me. Somehow it was imperative to them that I didn't eat alone. We spent free periods together, I was always the teasing one. I was the youngest, I was untouchable, I was protected.

It all ended when they graduated. They had to leave, I had to stay and finish school. Some gave me their home numbers, some visited me in school when they can. But all contact was lost some 5 years ago. I've been searching since then.

For almost 12 years I haven't seen most of them. I don't even have a single photo. All I have are the fun memories and the lessons they taught me. They taught me that people beyond blood relations could possibly care. They were the first ones to show me that I deserved the time of the day, that the world should take a second look at me. They didn't reject me and instead invited me. They made me feel important.

I recently broke barriers and managed to get someone to send a text message to one of them. A message bearing my number and my desire to contact them. I received no reply. I would be lying if I said I wasn't devastated. It would have been the best Christmas present. But I bear no anger. I understand. They probably have their own families by now, motherhood is not a walk in the park. And if not, maybe they just don't know how much they have done for me, so much that I searched for them.

I write this so that they would know, just in case I never get that message I'm waiting for. That kid who was always running around you in circles teasing you, that kid who ran to you for reassurance, that kid, she turned out alright, thanks to you. You didn't raise me from birth but what you all did, how you all cared, in a matter of months, helped me. It's fine if you don't want to be bothered, I was always the annoying one. I can only try so hard, my search ends here. But I still wait, I will be waiting for that message that may or may not come.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Gift of Christmas

It's that time once again! Merry Christmas to us all!

Three years ago I had this conversation:
Friend: Steph, sa tingin mo san na tayo after 5 years?
Steph: Ako, malamang workaholic ako. That much I know.
Friend: Oo nga eh, siguro ako rin.

Fast forward to today, it's not even 5 years after, it's Dec 24 and I'm at the office. Working 'til tomorrow morning. I didn't get to go to the Christmas Eve service with my family. I didn't get to cook Noche Buena and feast over it with my family. I'm going to miss the wine toast and private gift giving at home. I will be working tonight.

I'm not a child anymore. Christmas doesn't hold that extra special feeling when you hear jingles anymore. Food doesn't magically appear on our plates. (Though I've always known that) I have to work hard to get what I want.


Though I may be spending Christmas in a cubicle in an almost deserted room I still am merry. For I'm not an innocent child anymore and Christmas for me is not just about the gifts I receive or the food I get to eat. It doesn't matter where or who I spend it with. What's important to me is how I celebrate it, that I know why I celebrate it. I GET TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS AND THAT'S WHAT MATTERS TO ME TONIGHT. Thank you for the Gift, Lord.