Dear person at work

…of course you like a government like the one we have now because you will never be targeted by it (fingers crossed?).

Me, I am endangered by it.

And disclaimer, even if I were theoretically “safe” from this government, I still wouldn’t like the fact that it endangers good people who are actual citizens.

Until ALL OF US are free, NONE OF US are.

Signed, someone who isn’t privileged.

/salty

(originally posted to my Facebook)

I take photos of the food on the table because

Because I’m not wealthy, connected, or secure enough that I can hire assassins to storm the White House and kill multiple asshole idiots, at least where not-my-presidents (in the US and in the Philippines) are concerned.

Seriously, the opportunity presents itself. Gleefully. Kill Trump and Duterte and all of their respective lackeys all in one fell swoop. Someone please do that.

And now, food photos.

18118534_10154680925893348_4585769336763097961_n

I bought a Mickey D happy meal because I wanted to get a Kuromi mirror :) And yes, hey, it’s Chicken McNuggets, and I can’t say no to those.

18119383_10154687491158348_2665066180016298262_n

A handsome and really delicious Flat White from SGD Coffee, Quezon City, Philippines. This drink revived me after a shift. Go check that place out! It’s at 45 Maalalahanin Street, Teacher’s Village.

18195054_10154693726428348_1653060067495454987_n

Two of the most elusive donuts in the Philippines, or at least that’s what my Facebook friends believe. And I have to agree: hard to find these motherfuckers, especially when one is craving donuts in the first place. Dunkin’ Donuts, you need to stock your butternut and choco butternut donuts everywhere. I cannot live without them.

a lament for the fools and for the thinkers

The thing is, we are all born ignorant.

Each of us comes into this world as the proverbial blank slate: and sure, maybe there are some people out there who might hold a few stray memories of that sojourn in the womb. But it takes time before a child can start gathering information from his or her environment, and it takes time before literacy and numeracy and all those other good things kick in.

So we begin as ignorant, each and every one of us.

And then for a while, we must rely on other people to give us the information that we need to get by in the cultures in which we happen to live in. A parent’s voice, arms, smell, walk; and then that circle gradually grows wider and wider. There are stories to hear, and songs to listen to. There are all kinds of things to learn, and we are provided with these things that we need to learn by those who raise us, those who care for us as infants and as young children.

So it goes, and on and on the trail unfolds, whether we go to school or not: we pick up the skills and the facts and the knowledge of the world around us, and that is mediated by the other people who live around us.

All sorts of things can be published in books. All sorts of things can be posted to the Internet. All sorts of ideas can be found on social media.

At what age are we expected to decide that something is “true” or not?

And, as a corollary, at what age are we expected to start deciding on that which is true or false?

I am writing about these things because there is a rising tide of willful and malicious ignorance swamping the media, swamping the consumers of that media, threatening to drown us all everywhere we turn. It isn’t even a NEW phenomenon, all things considered: propaganda has more or less existed from the dawn of time, and depending on the times and places in which one happens to live, one is more or less smothered in propaganda practically from day one.

But yeah, I have been seeing so much foolishness in the past few days, and I continue to feel the need to fight that tide. Yes, I’ll be Doña Quixote if I must. That is a fact of my life.

I started a new job, so I am really seeing that I know nothing about the new world that I have entered, and I am working hard to overcome that lack of knowledge, even if it means throwing myself headfirst down the work equivalent of a rabbit hole. I’ll go in with eyes wide open, not caring whether there’s a bottom to the hole — and not caring if the bottom of the hole is lined with teeth, claws, or — only if I’m really lucky — a nice warm warren to curl up in.

Okay, so there’s me, knowing I am at a real disadvantage and fighting my way onward, step by slogging step.

What about that person who feels that they’re entitled to an easy coast to the top?

What about that person who expects everyone to make concessions for them, for their ignorance, and demands those concessions in the way of grasping greedy shits, which is what they are?

And it’s not just about my job, either.

So my country’s hosting the Miss Universe pageant over the weekend. This year, I am not not not rooting for my country’s bet. What did she do? She was willfully ignorant. She claimed that the <i>terno</i>, a beautiful dress that has become one of the “national costumes” of the Philippines, was invented by Imelda Marcos.

Yes, that Imelda Marcos, who accumulated shoes and art and garish jewelry by robbing her country blind. Who, together with her equally treacherous husband and the rest of her complicit family, sucked the national coffers dry in the pursuit of overweening personal and monetary gain.

Miss Philippines has gotten called out for her fault, and apparently things are all well and happy again in beauty-queen land.

Okay, so, here’s my problem.

Knowing that Miss Philippines can’t have gotten to where she is now without her own native and innate knowledge, knowing that she has learned things, why is it that she allows herself to be surrounded by people who are not only ignorant but are also pursuing a far more insidious agenda? Why is it that she cannot think to question the people, media, books that are her sources of information? Why is it that she was never asked or even encouraged to develop <i>critical thinking</i>?

Oh, I know why.

I live in the Philippines.

The best minds of several generations have been killed, and ruthlessly so, by politics.

Damn dirty thing, politics in the Philippines.

Martial Law was only the most obvious massacre of the intellectuals and critical thinkers. Those brilliant minds that were mercilessly tortured and killed and disappeared by the Marcoses? They’re the top of that enormous heap of the good and the smart and the wise and the DEAD.

Only the top.

Either the great minds are snuffed out, or they become co-opted by the corrupted systems and culture of this country, and then they turn into assholes. They retain their brilliance, sure, but they become assholes.

I would be so brave to say that anti-intellectualism has always been the norm here in the Philippines. Yes, there were courageous and scintillating exceptions to the rule. Apolinario Mabini, anyone? But he was ultimately surrounded by people who preferred to be brutes instead of being thinkers, and so it has gone ever since, and from the leaders of the people this has trickled down and down and down to all the rest of us poor ordinary citizens toiling to survive from day to day.

If you see a “smart” person in any form of Philippine media, the chances are good that he, or rarely she, will be the butt of jokes — or, weary cliché, the villain in the story. And that villain will almost always be pitted against the handsome and lucky but completely stupid hero/ine, and of course the hero/ine will always win the day, because the hero/ine is good-looking. Never mind the brains on that one, eh? He or she will be so pretty that others will rush to help him or her.

I am so sick and tired of that, and I am also sick and tired of all the stories where the bookworm or the intellectual character is lured away from his or her books to become “cool”. Is it always a one-or-the-other thing? Why the hell can’t it be both? Why can’t the hero or heroine be both book-smart AND street-smart?

Because “smart” is intimidating, here in the Philippines.

Because people go to school for the status and not for the actual, you know, education. And there are such silly stupid stereotypes slapped onto those people who go to places like science high schools, or national universities: usually that they’re either going to run away to other countries, or take to the streets to protest anything and everything.

And you know, I get why they immigrate: maybe they know they will never ever ever get a good deal here at home.

I especially get why they protest because the system is rotten and stinky and smelly and completely and totally corrupt — and why is it wrong to ask for, to expect, something better???

It’s wrong to ask for better things because that would inconvenience everyone who thinks they’re entitled to an easy time because of reasons. It means these entitled people will need to think, to make their minds work, in order to move forward — and if their minds have atrophied? Then they’ll sink to the bottom of the heap and be even more hateful and petty and entitled.

It’s a no-win situation.

I know what it’s like to be ignorant in so many ways. I did not know what emotional abuse was, so I labored in a bad marriage for so many years, thinking I was just fulfilling that which was expected of me. I was and still am fatally bad at numbers, so I have to depend on a calculator for my bills and my expenses. I learn about new things every day and have to play a lot of catch-up. And, of course, there’s the new job and the skills that it requires, which are a little tricky to learn.

So, Miss Philippines, I come back around to you. I wish you would entertain that thought, that niggling idea in your brain, that there is more to learn and more to become aware of. Learn about your history and about the things that have brought the very country that you are supposed to be representing to its present state. Learn about the history of the world and the causes that you can use your platform and visibility to be an advocate for.

There are so many things to learn! It’s exciting! It’s challenging! It’s fulfilling! And you get the chance to do it all, dressed up and made up and with all eyes on you. I mean, put that <i>terno</i> on, and respect the fashion and the culture that actually shaped it, and be the brilliant and intellectual you that you can be.

And I will keep learning. It’s my fond hope that I will never stop learning. It’s a lifelong process. It’s something that will consume all the days of my life. I want to keep learning. I never want to stop.

taking tests: still a pain in the ass

You’d think I’d be old enough to finally get over the stresses and anxieties of taking written tests. Hahaha, why are you still taking written tests, PJ, aren’t you like way too old for that shit? Yeah, I am, but — new job, and the training period requires at least one written test, with a passing rate of 80%. So 60 points out of 75 means a pass; anything lower means failure.

Written exam today, nearing the end of the initial training period at the new job. I got up super early in the hopes of scoring a good breakfast PLUS enough time to sit and review the (not that thick, thankfully) workbook, and hammer all the necessary material into my head.

When I was younger, I always had this mentality during exams period, like, I want to take the test first thing in the morning, like let’s get into the class and please hand out the test papers now. It wasn’t because I was confident — it was quite the opposite. It was because I was jittering with too much nervousness and anxiety and my brain was going, Can we get this shit over with? I will stop stressing out once I’ve taken the test. So I want to take the test pronto.

Yep, I still did that to myself today.

Thing was, this morning’s training shift started with an hour’s talk from some of the support personnel on the floor, so I naturally had to try to fidget my way through that. (Didn’t help that I was getting kind of ribbed — possibly it was well-meant, I can’t know — about formerly being an English teacher. One of the people giving the talk was so hung up on messing up subject-verb agreement that they caused me to be hung up on my skill with the English language. I am not here for you to take out your frustrations on, kthx.

(Okay, so maybe part of me did think that the ribbing was a little bit mean.)

After the talk — we didn’t take the test yet! Our instructors kindly laid on a fifteen-minute review!

And that would have been nice except: the person that I was complaining about in the previous entry basically admitted that they had done no studying at all. Like none, nada, zip, zilch. Ignorant bee immediately proceeded to demonstrate their proud and towering stupidity by, basically, asking for all of the answers to the test questions.

Also, I don’t like getting poked with pens. Ignorant bee poked me with a pen that they had bummed off of someone else.

I applaud ignorant bee’s level of preparation.

/sarcasm

It really really was a relief when our instructors finally handed out the tests, because that shut ignorant bee up in a fucking hurry.

It IS mean of me to be ticked off that ignorant bee passed — by the fucking skin of their teeth.

*headdesk headdesk headdesk*

maybe not really the sentiment to be recording for posterity in my own handwriting, but

I applied for a job at a business process outsourcing company on 6 January, and to my complete and total shock was hired that same day, after going through a series of interviews and tests. Basically they think I have the foundation skills necessary for the job at hand, and that means that they were going to hire me and train the actual job skills itself into me, and that’s what I’ve been doing the past week. It involves listening and it also involves speaking. But — and this is what triggered the earlier post on emotional labor — this seems to be a job where being detached and being cold and competent are actually prized! I may have lucked out. But that means that I have to apply myself, and actually learn the job skills that the work requires, because if I wash out of training it will all have been for nothing and I will feel like a great big useless pile of scrap.

I guess right now, the fly in the ointment would be one of the other people who are in training with me. I mean, I have rarely seen someone so entitled, bossy, pushy, and above all profoundly ignorant. I am all right with people who have no choice but to be ignorant if it means that they want to learn, that they want to understand, and that they want to improve themselves.

But this person revels in their shameless and absolute ignorance, that I wound up writing something to this effect in my little black notebook:

I am not sustained by a positive attitude; I am sustained by rage.

Because maybe I am envious, I’m not above admitting that I do have my crippling problems when it comes to being part of the crowd, part of the herd, part of the baa baa baa flock. There are days when complete and total anonymity might be useful. There are days when it might be nice to be Regina George, to be the queen bee, to be the absolute and undisputed leader of the clique. There is no doubt in my mind that this profoundly ignorant person perceives themself to be the absolute top in the world, and that seems to be a self-esteem thing, which must be nice to have.

Then again.

Illustration one of this person’s profound and proud ignorance. Another member of the group is on hormone therapy, because this person is transitioning from the gender they were born with to their preferred/chosen gender. So guess what ignorant bee does? Ask the transitioning person if they had fucked the “opposite sex”. Unfortunately I could not storm out of the room when I heard that question. Unfortunately I could not open the nearest set of windows in order to defenestrate the idiot who asked such an unfeeling, insensitive, and above all busybody question.

(No doubt ignorant bee would have absolutely blown their top had I ventured to ask the exact same question, expecting an immediate answer as ignorant bee had of the other member of the group. That is a personal matter! And it’s not, to the person who was the unfortunate recipient?)

It quite possibly only cemented my private opinion of ignorant bee when ignorant bee proclaimed that they were in favor of the asshole currently occupying the office of the President of the Philippines — only two breaths after relaying the story that someone they knew had been summarily executed by the police as a result of using illegal drugs. It was like listening to any and every version of Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes novels, only Moriarty would probably take my head for the comparison to such a sociopathic ignoramus. There was no compassion at all in ignorant bee’s voice. There was no human feeling at all, despite the fact that ignorant bee had personally known the person who had been executed. Ignorant bee knew that executed person, had probably kept up the social front of being “friends” — and then dismissed that executed person’s death, with the general underlying current of how that person didn’t deserve to go on living any longer.

What certainty! What absolutely incorruptible morals! What astute judgement!

/sarcasm

I may be jumping to conclusions here, but I get the insistent feeling that ignorant bee would not care one fucking iota if I were to be summarily executed. Or the person in the group who plans to undergo gender reassignment surgery. We are profoundly “other” to ignorant bee. We should not exist, according to ignorant bee, except only as things to gawp at, like exhibits at the zoo.

I. I want to do anything and everything possible to pass the training course so I don’t have to spend any more time than I have to, with someone so odious and so disturbingly common in terms of the society and the culture that I now live in.

Is it mean of me to hope ignorant bee washes out of training? Likely. So yeah, I can be mean and petty like ignorant bee. I just hope I am not like that person, like, all the time, because what a drag that would be, and what an awful shit I would be.