April 25, 2019

Government vs. Governance

There is a place for efficiency in the government, and it does not solely depend on the leaders that facilitates the government processes, but it depends on every person governed. Governance is not provided not just by a certain group of officials because as society evolves, more actors and groups are now directly involved in the process of governance which are grouped into three legs, the government, the market, and the civic societies. (Carino, 2004) For a democracy to work as it is intended, power should not be confined in just a single person or a single group of people that are often the elites. Power should be distributed to every person in the society and it is up to the citizens to claim and practice that power for themselves.

Governance is a term not used to relate to government processes only in the past few decades. We equate both terms, government and governance through basic definitions that we can find. From the root word govern, which simply denotes power and control over a system or territory. But Carino differentiated them by pointing that the government is all about control, while governance is all about management. Through this, one can easily say that governance is better than government, but we must also know that government is a vital part of governance. Aside from the role of the government, there are two other actors that work with it for effective governance, markets and civil societies. The market or the private sector generates wealth for dispersal and a barrack of human resource and talent. Businesses that both supply goods and services to consumers and wages to human resources that they employ. Civil society on the other hand represents the public and raise voices of those who have none or don’t know how to use theirs. Together, these three must work together and use their abilities to cooperate which will then provide success not just to the system itself but to society at large.

Soup to Nuts (Center for Civic Education, 1977) is a very good cartoon that illustrates the advantage and disadvantage of having a government and the type of governance that a government employ. It shows that even if the market and civil society is independent from the government, they can still be affected by the kind of government it works at. In the filmstrip, the people on the city decided to hire a new despot that will oversee governing the city because the last government was elected by the people with a promise to be “out of people’s way” and gave all the control to the people themselves. It was chaos. This part of the filmstrip showed the importance of government not just in the distribution of resources, but also for maintaining order within the society. The people then decided to hire a new despot which made a huge turnaround for the better in the beginning but when the power shifted to just one person, too much control of not just the government but even control of the market through monopoly and control of society by imposing inhumane rules. This is also a good presentation that the government cannot just command or regulate its citizens, it can also mark them as adversaries to prevent alleged abuse(Weil, 2015).

“Membership in participation, but not participation for participation’s sake” simply denotes that for one to claim and exercise power as a citizen in democracy, one should not just abide by the law and follow and leave it as it is. Besides, the power of the citizen doesn’t just start and end every election day where we chose our leaders, it should live with us every single day. From as simple as being aware of the news to organizing thoughts and collectively sharing those ideas to several people, one can really make a difference through many.

Que, S. (2019). Government vs. Governance In the end we can see that whether we have different branches of governance, everything must work together to compliment and coordinate the other, and who should oversee it? The people, society. By actively participating in the governance of the state. By having a voice and letting it resonate. On Eric Liu’s Ted talk, he presented the six sources of power, most important of these in a democracy is the last source, Numbers (Liu, 2014). Through numbers, power can be shared from person to person and collectively, we can make our small voices enough to make difference.

References:

Carino, L. V. (2004). "The Concept of Governance". In From Government to Governance.
Center for Civic Education. (1977). Soup to Nuts. Retrieved from http://www.civiced.org/e-news/?p=1834#more-1834
Liu, E. (2014, November). Eric Liu: How to understand power. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/eric_liu_how_to_understand_power
Weil, F. (2015, March 21). Government vs. Governance. Retrieved from The Huffington Post: http://bit.ly/2CEgnJO

April 11, 2019

Rethinking Politics


Politics is all about people. By people and ideally for the people. Usually, whenever I hear the word, the first thing that flashes through my mind are the faces of our politicians. Whether good or bad, the way they influence my views on how politicians generally are depends on the strength and weight of what they did through the light of media and outputs. Politics for me is about a structure that can best promote and stabilize a democracy through leaders that serve as both advocates and managers of the general public that it serves and represents. 

To quote the words of Gutmann and Thompson (2004) through Jack Corbett's paper 'But why do we need politicians? A critical review', "By deliberating with their fellow citizens, decision-makers can arrive at better, more adequately justifiable decisions and, in the process, express mutual respect among free and equal citizens. When we say working together,  it doesn't just tell us about the understanding of the relationship between politicians and citizens, but even to the very level of citizens with respect to its fellow citizens. We all have our own sets of personal beliefs and opinions on a wide array of matters about life and existence as a society, but having this mutual respect between leaders and the public it serves will make each of both roles be successful. Relating this to Professor Pippa Norris's analysis of the three key points in a political system, the Demand side, or the side of the citizens, our active participation as key members of the society we are part of is key to a successful democracy. We can't just wait for a miracle through our leaders to make our lives as efficient as possible. We have to do our part, besides, the success of democracy lies on the willingness of most (if not all) its members to help each other and promote the common good. On the other end which is the supply side, or as I take it, the politician's side, leaders should take account whatever is needed or required by the general public for it to progress. As cliche as it is, it is a fact that nobody is perfect, so are politicians. But having the heart to deliver progress not just to selfish reasons but for the whole of society would be a key to a productive leadership. Besides, the government may look like a business as of now, but I don't think it is by nature. Can democracy work without politics? I don't think so. For it to function as it is intended to be, democracy should follow a certain structure, and to promote and stabilize this structure, an institution such as government offices should be existent. Without leaders, there will be no authority, and without authority, society will be operating through selfish reasons, chaos. 

Through the Thespian perspective, politicians are acting out roles that are actually essential for democracy to function and work whether we like their performance of those roles or not (Corbett, 2014). We can always demonize our leaders especially nowadays through a wide array of ways, particularly social media where most of us citizens are interconnected. Though there is a wide disparity between Filipinos in not just a few but a long list of factors, a problem I can clearly see nowadays is that most Filipinos are guided not by facts, but by their emotions. We are naturally fanatics, but sometimes, being too attached to an ideal makes our judgements highly emotional rather than based on facts (post- truth). To make things worse, these facts sometimes in the form of surveys and numbers are parceled out to influence the public's decision making, without the constant need for verification or interpretation (Davies, 2016). The prevalent proliferation of fake news in our country is comparable to cancer which can spread so fast especially to agents who are either ignorant or blinded by personal beliefs or if I may say fanaticism which is something that is very subjective. To reflect this in the light of "Perils of Perception" wherein we ranked third on the least accurate nation when it comes to perception vs. facts, I think most Filipino netizens are (as much as I try to use a lighter term but I have to use it to its accordance) ignorant and worse, gullible.  This is where social studies in the academe can work (or in other cases should have worked) by promoting critical thinking especially through issues such as politics and governance and relating these issues to facts and different views, not just the one that arises through our emotions and personal belief. A good example in promoting this kind of mindset to our students s through a deliberate discussion-based approach on presenting controversial issues to students (Ho, McAvoy, Hess, and Gibbs, 2017). Their study showed that students from these classes were significantly empowered to think of more arguments for the position that they support and even to the positions that they do not. Exposing students to several views, rather than just one, will make them more critical thinkers and not just adapt to a thinking which is presented to them that they 'feel' or 'feel like' 'believing'. 

Reading beyond the lines is not just the important part of being intelligent and active citizens, being exposed to multiple views and opinions, and not just their own thoughts and feelings, will make them more critical not just in choosing sides but also in implementing actions.

References:

The Crick Centre. (2016). Why do we hate politics? Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1TAnxF1">http://bit.ly/1TAnxF1">http://bit.ly/1TAnxF1.

Corbett, J. (2014). But why do we need politicians? A critical review.

Ipsos Group (2017). The Perils of Perception. Retrieved from https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en- uk/perils-perception-2017.

Shout out UK. (2016). Why do we hate Politics? Retrieved from http://www.crickcentre.org/why-do-we- hate-politics/.

Davies, W. (2016). The Age of Post-Truth Politics. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/opinion/campaign-stops/the-age-of-post-truth- politics.html.

Ho, L.C., McAvoy, P., Hess, D., Gibbs, B. (2017). Teaching and Learning about Controversial Issues and Topics in Social Studies: A Review of the Research.

April 3, 2019

Why Nations Fail?

"There are undoubtedly cultural differences between the Filipinos and the Japanese, for instance. But the striking thing about Japan is how it modernized while preserving its rich and unique culture. Our guess is that the Philippines can do the same." (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2012)

Having read that final part of Acemoglu and Robinson's 2012 article "A Damaged Culture?" made me very emotional, I had to pause for a good five minutes. We are a land of cultures, a melting pot as they say. But we have been so diverse even before migration took us to stronger and richer nations like the United States and Canada. We have been so diverse as a nation, strong and distinct diversity of people from island to island fortified by a rich and abundant ecosystem. But why is it that these differences became a hindrance for development rather than an asset for success through diversity? Is the problem plainly just culture? or is it perhaps the absence of strong and developmental institutions "that permit or encourage investment and growth" (Acemoglu, 2010). Should we really say absent, or must I use the term dormant or passive? What I personally think about this is, with a strong regard to a selfish mindset, Filipinos chose the easier way for most of us have this "dependent" mindset that everything must be for the benefit of one's self. For survival, we really do need to put one's self first, always. But being a part of a larger society, such institutions are existing to provide guidance as to how the "rules of the games" should be imposed. (Acemoglu, 2010). Acemoglu and Robinson's comparison of our country to our regional neighbors with respect to James Fallows' 1987 The Atlantic article is very timely and rampant even up to this date. Culture may be a power player as to a country's development but sets of institutions are key as to how a country will truly prosper economically. If you talk about embracing of these institutions, there can also be an institution that will be responsible in promoting it.

A strong component of this article which I found very relevant was about dependency. I felt a little estranged when I passed by Acemoglu's words "Yet it is a bit of a mystery how exactly dependence is related to the family-centric behavior he [James Fallows] noted above." Being family-centric makes us all very dependent. We can always not work because our family is there, we can go straight home after work because my mother already prepared dinner at the table. But when it comes to that sense of nationalism that Farrows expounded that we lack of, I would have to agree with that. As territorial as we are as I see through issues on social media as citizens, there is a stronger account that we Filipinos are very much fragmented even in our own land. Regionalism is still rampant in the negative sense that instead of working together as a nation, as a big, large family, we tend to get too competitive to our own countrymen. As much as we have this culture of hospitality to other people, especially to visitors from other nations, the crabmentality mindset is still on its peak everyday, everywhere in our country. I can see this as something detrimental to the success of institutions. My paternal grandfather was a Chinese Immigrant who sailed all the way from southern China to Singapore and to the Philippines during the late 30's. He was part of a community of people who build each other up and look after each other even beyond their southern seas. Even until his last years, I can see how tight their bonds were with these men who helped and grew a brotherhood of themselves. When he passed away, I visited his hometown in Fujian and there I saw schools and gates and public buildings with the similar Chinese characters which my dad explained me were through the efforts of the community who have lived in the Philippines. A nation or a society is only as strong as a progressive bond between its people is, fortified with a desire to rise not on their own but as a community. Without institutions, will all of those be possible?

"On Vote Buying and Reciprocity" and "The Politics of Utang na Loob" (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2012), both have shown strong points that presents a trade-off between culture and institutions in a success or deterioration of a nation. We are all naturally reciprocal, it's not just we have been raised through that mindset but it's just something that I personally think we are all accountable for. As Acemoglu emphasized, "being reciprocal is critical for building cooperation, trust, and a well-functioning society." And then he adds the interrogative "Could it be that Filipinos are just insufficiently reciprocal?". Of course, the answer is No (which they subtly concluded at the end through a question as well). Having this reciprocity can be a positive thing not just through the bigger picture but even to personal relationships. But going beyond it shows negative effects. Acemoglu and Robinson presented that this culture of excessive reciprocity is being exploited by politicians so that they can gain the positions they are vying for. It's very risky to just hand out bribes to the voters due to possibility of public exposure but since we have this strong regard to 'utang na loob' concocted by extreme dependence to easy money due to poverty or personal gain, we tend to cast our vote that way even if there is, as Acemoglu and Robinson presented, an effective secret ballot.

Looking at this 'utang na loob' on another view, away from the voters, I would like to point out the issue with regards to Former Senator Manny Villar and President Rodrigo Duterte. The president last Thursday, February 14th, on a proclamation rally in SJDM, Bulacan revealed that before he ran for president, he went to dinner with Senator Villar. the president revealed "Nag-dinner kami. Nagdala siya ng pera sa bag. Sabi niya, 'Pang-umpisa mo lang kung gusto mo lang tumakbo. 'Pag hindi, iyo na ‘yan.'" he said. With that money, let's call, encouragement gift, the President will surely be indebted to the Senator through whatever that amount is, thus a play of utang na loob. How will the President reciprocate to that, or should I say how had he reciprocated to it, we'll never really know the details unless he expounds more in the coming days. What can the senator gain with providing such 'gifts' to the leading presidential candidate? He is already rich and able, very rich and very able should I say? let me just close this paragraph by quoting "political institutions are extremely important for economic growth in low-income countries" (Pereira and Teles, 2011)

We are a country of so much potential, so much potential that even if decades and decades of depletion, we still have that fire that burns hope every single time. But is that hope enough to make us stand and leave that sense of "dependency"? Time can only tell. Will it be easy to shift our mindsets to embrace better and more developmental institutions as soon as possible? Not really. Since following the social conflict view (which I personally think is what's evident in the Philippines for the past decades), wherein institutions are not chosen by the whole society but by the groups that control political power at that time (Acemoglu, 2010).

But the question is, with the existing set of cultures and the inactivity of more developmental institutions in our country, will it be possible to attain progress that will be felt even to the poorest of the poor? As resilient as we are, Yes.

References:

Acemoglu, D. (2010). Chapter 1. General Issues. Political Economy Lecture Notes.

Teles, V. & Pereira, C. (2011). Political Institutions, Economic Growth, and Democracy: The Substitute Effect.

Acemoglu, D. & Robinson, J. (2012). Damaged Culture? Retrieved from http://whynationsfail.com/blog/2012/12/13/a-damaged-culture.html

Acemoglu, D. & Robinson, J. (2012). Good Culture? On vote buying and reciprocity. Retrieved from http://whynationsfail.com/blog/2012/12/18/good-culture-on-vote-buying-and-reciprocity.html

Acemoglu, D. & Robinson, J. (2012). The Politics of Utang na Loob. Retrieved from http://whynationsfail.com/blog/2012/12/20/the-politics-of-utang-na-loob.html

"Nagdala Siya Ng Pera Sa Bag": Duterte vows support if Villar runs for president anew. (2019, Feb 16) Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/15/19/nagdala-siya-ng-pera-sa-bag-duterte-vows-support-if-villar-runs-for-president-anew

April 1, 2019

Nature of Social Studies

Let me share this article I wrote and prepared as a graduate school requirement submitted last February 24, 2019.

Respondents’ answers to my interviews:

For me, compared to other subjects, the study of Social Studies is vital and will always be essential to the lives of people from as basic as their family lives and even beyond their communities and societies. First of all, as a person, we are a part of a larger state, which in fact, we are the most important component of it, that is why we need to be aware of what's happening from the smallest issues to the biggest news of our nation. Even at home, you will see the importance of Social Studies. You wake up in the morning, you will feel hunger, if you don't find anything to eat, that's when you realize that you need to work in order to survive, that's Economics. Secondly, once you leave your community, you'll find social studies' importance through the laws that you should abide to because you can't just say sorry for such actions, take note, ignorance of the law excuses no one. That's a big reason why we have to be updated with the law.

Moreover, it is only through the social studies subject that you can relate and talk about the issues that are happening to our current society. You can be called a math genius but at the same time, be called socially ignorant because knowing basic math will make you survive but being ignorant to what is happening with your environment is a different thing. As per Aristotle, "Man by Nature is a Political Animal", it is our nature as human beings to be opinionated when it comes to issues that touches us personally. The price of goods, poverty, hunger- these are very important social aspects that are crucial to our existence that is why it is very important to learn "Araling Panlipunan". For some, a subject that is hard to understand and a sharp memory is needed but for me, it is plain and simple, whatever it is that you wish to know, that is that we are part of a state and a part of a society.
- Arnel Japson (Araling Pnalipunan Teacher, Unida Nehemiah Christian Academy- Cavite)


As an English language teacher, what I know about Social Studies is only limited. Apart from knowing it as an integrated study of multiple fields of social science, I think what makes Social Studies a great body of knowledge to study by the learners is its rigorous and comprehensive content of various studies about human society and social relations. I think this subject, if applied in public schools, has to be well-inculcated to students in order to raise awareness how the present society affects an individual today.
-Lyanne Patricia Santiago (Former English Teacher, Unida Nehemiah Christian Academy- Cavite)


Social studies is a group of interdisciplinary fields that teaches students how to be an active and well-informed citizen of the society. As a subject area, it enhances the student's capability to examine how certain phenomena/situation can contribute to the society's development and at the same time, think of productive ways on how to respond and address a variety of societal problems. Thus, transforming them into proactive and vigilant citizens of our country.
-Madilyn Rostata-Decierdo (Araling Panlipunan Teacher, Laguindingan National High School - Misamis Oriental)


After reading the resources provided (Thornton, 2005) and (Saxe, 1991), and through the responses that I was able to gather, my understanding of Social Studies has been much propagated. Social Studies for me is both an aggregation and an integration of several subject matters that are not restricted to the social sciences such as history, geography, and economics to name a few, but also extends to how real-life problems that individuals face on everyday lives can be tackled through a set of skills that can be developed through this study. Though a good foundation on the social sciences can be much effective in understanding modern life, for Social Studies to be effective, it should relate these sciences as to how these future citizens take on such situations that require their critical thinking and confidence as a vital part of society. As per Mr. Japson's answer to the interview, we are all social beings and as a part of this state and society, we should be responsible in learning our duties and rights as citizens because we can only be as effective as much as we learn how to be effective and active.

The role of Social Studies in the Education System is to promote a holistic well-being of the future individual. Training the minds of the child in Mathematics, Language, and Sciences are vital but as much as it is, we need to survive socially. Through interaction, we learn a lot of things, but how these interactions be explained to a student with regards to culture, norms, and even morals is what social studies are for. Beyond the knowledge that we get through drills and memorization, social studies go beyond survival as to "what people need in order to prosper in everyday life" (Thornton, 2005) The study of the past and the abstract concepts of spending, territories, citizenship, makes us more aware not just of the things that already happened to society but makes us understand why the things today are happening.

The question is, does Social Studies present these aims effectively? As simple as the goal sounds, it is very difficult to deliver the subject since there are several factors presented by Thornton which I definitely agree on. These are the aims, subject matter, and student interest. For the aims to be achieved, the choice of subject matter must be carefully planned as to not just leaning towards the 'knowledge' of the social sciences, nor to the practical study of everyday lives. I believe that it should be a fair-play of both. A strong fortitude in the social sciences which will then be a strong shield to tackle present-time situations, and an understanding of the real-world so as to give the learners a reason to study and memorize and explore. And to achieve these aims through a well-balanced curriculum, student interest must be at the forefront because motivated learners are a key as to the success of learning. But can we ensure that learners will be intrinsically motivated just by a set of interesting curriculum activities? That we cannot say, for each individual has its own set of interests and we can only hope to measure them prior to designing the curriculum.

To sum it all up, the importance of Social Studies goes way beyond just acquiring knowledge. As to what Lyanne and Madilyn has stated, it is inter-disciplinary and an integrated study which explains how wide its scope can be. Though in our Philippine Educational system, Social Studies or through our own version of Araling Panlipunan is catered to students for every year level, a systematic design not just of a year's worth of lesson is needed, but a structural design for the whole basic education is needed. During my years as an Elementary and High School students, I have experienced the use of different textbooks from different publishers almost every year. Though DepEd gives out standards to subject matter, the activities and extracurricular design of the study varies on every material, which makes it hard for students to see how systematic the subject can be or as to how continuity can be implored as a learned trudge the Social Studies experience year after year. All of these factors and more becomes a burden to the teachers. A burden which can be viewed as a massive opportunity through a structured curricular design, well planned selection of subject matter (and materials of course) and an effective execution of learning objectives inside the classroom and beyond.

References:
Thornton, S.(2005). Teaching social studies that matter: Curriculum for active teaching, New York: Teachers' College Press. pp 10-44

Saxe, D.W.(1991). Social science, social education and social studies: Descriptions, definitions, and origins. In Social studies in schools: A history of the early years. SUNY Press. Available at http://www.sunypress.edu/pdf/52303.pdf

May 27, 2018

Luk Foo at Kawit

Cavite's Centennial road in the town of Kawit is starting to become a food hub for everybody since the Cavite Expressway opened a few years ago. Restaurants and known fast food chains lined up the sides and one of these is the Manila based Luk Foo. Located at the Puregold building at the Lancaster side of the Kalayaan intersection, this Chinese restaurant offers dishes that are both delicious to the taste and enticing to the senses.

Luk Foo's Assorted Dimsum

Right after my uncle's funeral a couple of weeks ago, we decided to have late lunch at the Kawit area to avoid the rush hour traffic at the coastal road. It was me, my dad, my brother Wilson, and my uncle Carlito who had our delicious Chinese lunch that sunny afternoon.

We decided to start with the dimsum menu, well anyone would right? Let me run you down with the dishes that we had on our lunch table.

Steamed Pork Siomai (Php 100)

Bigger than the usual, but not as the big ones I had. You really would see big chunks of prawns but everything was made soft on the palette. As a personal preference, I really like my siomai with bigger chunks of pork and not just the shrimp. Pork chunks give it more character and a special skill should be known as to how one could bind such chunks into a small cube of meaty goodness. Nothing special about this one.

Steamed Chicken Feet with Chili Sauce (Php 90)

This one is something I like. I'm not a fan of the tausi taste which is very rampant on chicken feet dishes, but what I like about this one is it is more on the sweeter side than the tausi side. It almost reminds me of a barbeque marinade flavor which is an absolute favorite taste for me. Thumbs up on this one.

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling (Hakao) (Php 105)

Hakao is another dumpling which unlike the siomai, does not have pork. To describe it, it's simply softened shrimp encased in a very soft, translucent wrapper (and I do mean very soft) and served hot and steaming. This is also the reason why I am very much intrigued with the size of their hakaw because it is way bigger than the usual hakao I see. I took a bite and then I realize that it is not the usual hakao. The shrimp was ground and I could swear there is some pork in there as well. It may be different from their siomai but this is not the hakao I would line up for.

Crispy Noodles with Assorted Meat (Php 295)

One of my staple dishes on any Chinese restaurant. Who likes soggy noodles right? So noodles served crispy, dunked under hot piping savory sauce makes its consistency perfectly tender yet still has that suppleness. This one is available in seafood or assorted meat. We got the mixed one so it had slices of pork, squid, prawns, and mushrooms.

Sweet and Sour Lapu-Lapu Fillet (Php 360)

Another thumbs up dish for me goes to this fish fillet dish. Truly a fusion of sweet and sour, they did the perfect ratio of each of the two tastes. All the flavors that the sauces complemented the natural flavor that comes out of the fish that was first deep fried and then served with the sauce on top. Some fish fillet dishes are served with the fish simmered with the sauce but having it fried first gives it modernity and I am sure that kids will not say no to it.

Crispy Lemon Chicken (Php 345)

Let me take you to a dish that you either hate or you love. Fried chicken strips under a sweet layer of lemon sauce is one of my favorites. The thing though about this dish is how perfect they combine the flavors of lemon and sugar. You can't be too lemony or else you'll serve up an acidic plate, or too sugary or it will taste like lemon drop candy. Luk Foo's was almost perfect but a little bit leaning to the candy area. I guess mixing white and brown sugar will do the trick, though the color then will be the issue. I'll leave this one to preference.

Luk Foo Fried Rice (Php 340)

We had a choice between the usual Yang Chow and their house special fried rice. I asked my brother to opt for their house specialty just because we can't order that on another chain right? So it's the usual egg rice topped with lechon kawali (deep fried pork belly), slices of peking duck, salted egg crusted shrimp, and pieces of Bok Choi. I'm doing a keto diet at the moment but I did taste their rice, the taste of the eggs really wrapped every grain of rice which is a big requirement for fried rice, well for me, so this is a good one.

***

We surely will miss our Uncle Asiong, my dad's younger brother. And we remembered his life that day and capped it with a hearty meal all for him. The place is well air-conditioned even under the scorching heat of a May afternoon so over-all, we did have a good dining experience. Will I go back to Luk Foo? I would say yes! But I would redo our whole order so I can get to taste other dishes that they serve, besides, they do have a long list on their menu.

My brother Wilson, Me, Daddy, and Uncle Carlito

Luk Foo Cantonese Kitchen
Puregold Dalahican, Kawit, Cavite
+63 46 416 3868
Opens Everyday 10AM - 10PM