Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just because you will vote for Bro. Eddie Villanueva does NOT necessarily mean you are RELIGIOUS.

Just because you will vote for Dick Gordon does NOT certainly mean you are INDIVIDUALISTIC.

Just because you will vote for Manny Villar does NOT essentially mean you are GULLIBLE.

Just because you will vote for Gibo Teodoro does NOT automatically mean you are INTELLECTUAL.

Just because you will vote for Noynoy Aquino does NOT infallibly mean you are EMOTIONAL.

My point is this: 

Let us not judge / label others by who they are going to vote for this May 10. I've seen numerous debates in Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other message bulletins that eventually lead to nowhere. Debating about politics is like debating about religion. There will never be a winning party in the discussion. Everyone has their own opinion that they will defend 'till their CPUs overheat and the keyboard gives.

So, let's just stay still and practice our right to vote at the day of the elections. If bashing cannot be avoided, then point them to the candidates themselves and not to the people that support the candidate. The thing I hate  the most are self-righteous individuals personally attacking each other because they don't agree with the choice of other people.

It's less than two weeks before the big day. I can almost feel the crowd and the confusion that will no doubt accompany the day of the 2010 Elections. I'm not going to do a countdown, though. I have no doubts that political chaos could ensue well after May 10. Oh well, at least it makes the news programs more entertaining to watch. :)

Just because you will vote for Erap Estrada does not necessarily mean.... oh forget it.

And suddenly, after ages of wreaking havoc to the world of grammar, communication, education and mental stability of people reading their profiles and messages, somebody finally formulated a name to call them by.

The terms Jejemon, Jejenism, Jejetyping and Jejebusters spread like wildfire, starting from social networking sites to respectable newspapers catering the country and now even to mainstream media. If I had known that a simple name could potentially end this unabashed murder of the written language, then I would have invented one myself years ago.

I want to make it clear that I don't judge those people that practice the "Jeje-language", but I do detest reading sentences (if you can still call it that) made up of incomprehensible words in alternating upper and lower case letters. I don't see the point, the reason, the purpose of typing in such a way that will make the message harder to understand. Don't they realize that adding extra letters makes said word utterly ridiculous to pronounce and makes the writer look just as laughable?

I think this fad is making a mockery of our nation's education. More often than not, the altered form of words in Jejetyping is a brilliant excuse for the writer's lack of knowledge on proper spelling and syntax. The advent of text messaging brought a lethal blow to people's writing etiquette (which is understandable because you only have a limited number of characters to work with when sending a text message), but let's not make this virulent disease spread to all forms of society, infesting the young and gullible minds of our country's future.

However, I think some people with Grammar-Superiority-Syndrome has taken the fight against Jejenism a bit to the extreme, to the point of cursing and wishing all Jejemons suffer a long and excruciating death, not knowing that they're acting like total fools themselves. Have a bit of class people. The nationwide hysteria surrounding this phenomenon is enough to send to Jejecreatures the message that what they are doing should be avoided in soonest possible time.

Also, I believe people should not make this problem worse by incorporating other issues like social inequality and discrimination to the mix. (If you visit the original Jejemon page in, there is an added definition of the term that does this.) No need for a snowball fight that would later end up widening the divide between the different social classes in our country.

I do hope that this would be the end of this Dark Era. With the amount of publicity and ridicule Jejemons are getting, I don't think many people will be attracted in using Jejelanguage as their primary way of written communication. And maybe, that is the point.

And to think it all started with just a name.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The written exam is composed of 3 parts. The first hour goes to Listening: 40 minutes listening and answering plus additional 10 minutes to transfer the answers to the answer sheet. Next is Reading for 1 hour, no extra time for transferring of answers. Last is another hour for Writing, composed of 2 writing tasks, one is an interpretation of a graph/table/chart (Minimum of 150 words) and an essay (Minimum of 250 words).

I arrived at Crown Plaza Hotel a few minutes before 8am. The test starts at exactly 9am but we had to arrive an hour before. One has to look for and remember his/her Candidate Number posted on white boards, look for the seating arrangement, register by presenting valid ID used upon application and surrender, leave valuable belongings in the baggage counter (only pencils, eraser, sharpener, water and/or candies are allowed inside the testing area), then proceed to one's designated seat.

The venue and the people organizing the event were both great, in my opinion. Maybe, that's the reason why the exam fee is so expensive (Php 8,640).  We were really treated as professionals, addressed as Ma'am/Sir, a stark contradictory to the classroom setting (re: teacher/student) of taking the NLE.

I would recommend everyone taking the exam to wear long sleeves and/or bring an extra jacket because the testing area is quite chilly, add to that the clammy hands and feelings of anxiety and you'll be feeling the arctic winds from the air conditioners a little too much.

My seat was at the left side of the grand ballroom near the emergency exit signs. I didn't really care where I was seated, to be frank, just as long as the sound system's decent. It was, their system's working properly.

The Listening Test

Composed of 4 parts, alternating recorded dialogue and monologue played via the loud speakers. You have to answer the fill in the blanks/ multiple choice questions while listening to the audio. The first and second parts were pretty easy, at least for me. In the third recording, one of the speakers spoke really fast but it was still possible to understand every word that she was saying if you concentrate.

The fourth section, I thought, was extremely hard. It was a monologue of the history of the rules and regulations of football. The speaker spoke in moderate speed but the words that was used in the recording were completely different from the ones written in the booklet. There was a point where I had no idea what question number we were supposed to be on already and I actually missed one answer. The gaping empty line stared at me as I stared back. I decided to write a wild guess instead of leaving it blank. After the recording, we were given an extra time of 10 minutes to transfer our answers to the answer sheet.

The Reading Test

3 long articles, 40 questions in 1 hour. No extra time for transferring. The technique is reading the questions first and and answering them as you read. The first article was unbelievable confusing. My head throbbed as I searched for names and details, all of which I cannot find in the article. The questions and the article were also so differently worded to the point that they seem to point at opposite directions. I skipped the first part because time was running out.

The last two was a complete contradictory to the first one. It was surprisingly easy (one article was about the different types of temperament. I actually enjoyed reading that one), and I was able to finish them in less time than I expected, leaving me plenty of minutes to peruse the difficult first article. At the end of the 60 minutes, I was able to confidently answer everything and transfer those answers to the answer sheet.

One candidate wasn't so lucky. At the end of the hour, I was surprised to hear agitated pleas coming from the woman seated 2 seats behind me. She was begging the proctors to give her a few seconds for her to just transfer her answers to the answer sheet because she wasn't able to do so, thinking that an additional 10 minutes will be given like the test before. The proctors calmly explained to her the impossibility of the situation and took her papers away. I could hear her OMGing afterward and felt bad for the 9k php wasted because of a silly misunderstanding.

The Writing Test

My Writing Task 1 was a table, about the number of internet users and non-users in Canada divided by age. I was able to utilize the technique I learned from the review center, although the words didn't come instantly to my brain and I could feel the ticktock of the digital countdown flashed on the screen in front of us. What happened was I switched between writing Task 1 and 2 whenever I can feel my brain grasping for words.

Task 2 was a "Discuss both sides and state you opinion." kind of question. It was about cheap air travel and how it was taking too much resources from Mother nature, or something to that effect.

My problem didn't lie on whether I'm comfortable writing essays or have wide range of vocabulary and grammar strictures, I know I have, at least, a strong grasp on the English language. However, technical/formal writing and writing under time pressure aren't really my area of expertise. I thought the 60 minutes given for the accomplishments of the tasks weren't enough for anyone to showcase one's writing capabilities. It seemed like you have to write non-stop for 1 hour to be able to finish the combined 400-word-essays, and no, don't even think about spending time thinking about more appropriate words and better sentence structures.

I did my best to meet the minimum word requirement in both of my essays so as to not be deducted penalties for being underlength. Seriously, it was a photo finish moment, like a 3-point shot at the last second that I managed to complete the whole thing without it sounding unfinished. Yes, it was long enough, but the quality, I thought, was mediocre and there was no way I could get a 7.0 and above with that hurried writeup. I knew I could have done better if more time was given. I left the hotel feeling quite dejected.


The British Council offers an online results inquiry on their website. I wasn't that nervous to see my results. I, sort of, accepted already my unenviable fate of not getting the much needed 7.0 and above score on all of the subtests because of that horrible writing task and the ear cringing speaking test. And yet, when I saw my results...

READING ----- 9.0
WRITING ----- 7.5
SPEAKING ---- 7.5


Moral Lesson:

It's understandable that things will not go the way you planned and IELTS horror stories will be infesting your brain with hopelessness and dismay. In my experience, it's okay to brace for failure, however, don't let the unknown ruin everything you have worked hard for. I may have thought that there was no way I'm going to pass the exam, but in the end, it made the surprising victory all the more sweeter.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Let me tell you one thing, I actually felt more apprehensive in taking this exam than when I was about to enter the high-mortality battlefield of the Nursing Licensure Exam. Because a) I love multiple choice type of tests and IELTS is not one of them and b) I tend to do horribly in interviews for some reason no matter how hard I try to prepare for said inescapable moment of doom.

That's why for this past year, I have been putting off this exam for the longest time, waiting for a recommended date by the guru of my review center to assure higher chances of passing. Unfortunately, those thumbs-up dates are commonly held in provinces and, more or less, I lost about 3 months waiting for an advisable date in Manila which I never got. If it wasn't for my beau who told me, like a bucket of cold water splashed on my face, that 1. "You are wasting time." and 2. "You are great, and I have no doubt that you will pass." that I finally applied and waited, like a prisoner waiting for her execution, for my exam.

It went like this:

My speaking test was scheduled the day before my written ones. I actually prefer it the other way around as not to feel hopeless and/or suicidal if ever the interview was disastrous, however, I had to conform to my schedule. I arrived at Taipan Place (Office of British Council Manila) an hour and a half before the time of my interview. I remembered that it was a non-working holiday (April 9) and there were only a few people coming and going through the building, all of which have to surrender an I.D. to the guard stationed at the lobby. Being a paranoid, I only brought my PRC ID (needed for the speaking exam), my cellphone and some pocket money because I know that bags are not allowed inside the interview rooms.

I told the guard that I did not have an extra ID. He gave me an irritated look and reluctantly gave me a pass saying that next time, I wouldn't be allowed to enter the building without one. I thanked him thinking "There won't be a next time." as I planned to pass the exam. I was ready and confident, at least at that moment in time. 

The British Council office was way too cheerful than I expected. I thought there would be formal looking lobby with formal looking sofas and business chairs and formal looking people clad in formal corporate attires but I was dead wrong. It was a medium sized room that reminded me of a preschool classroom minus the animal pictures and the alphabet charts. It brought me back to pre-elementary phase that I actually wanted to run around the place if the room wasn't filled with nervous energy that was almost tangible in the cold air-conditioned air.

After registering, the first thing I noticed is how diverse the people taking the exam are. I was used to the NLE scenario where almost every test taker was my age but this was definitely not the case with the IELTS exam. Next thing I saw was the name posted in one of the doors. It was the examiner's name and I almost cracked an all-knowing smile. I knew that name, and that name brought good news. I attended a seminar where we were briefed about most of the examiners conducting the test and I more or less have an idea who give good grades and who doesn't. This knowledge proved to be an asset that day.

So, I was relieved. Until the organizer started calling people to go 6 floors down for their interview. The image of smiles and sunshine suddenly vanished from my brain. So, there were other examiners. Silly me to think that all 20+ people in the room are going to be interviewed by one person.

I was mentally willing the assistants there to not call me and let me stay in the room where flowers and puppies reign but nooo, of course that didn't happen. After a few minutes, he called my name and instructed me to go down to the 4th floor of the building where other organizers are going to be waiting and assisting us.

The 2nd room resembled a spa. There was yellow lighting and rich mahogany wood all around the place. There were doors after doors with opaque glass windows that I almost mistook as those rooms people have facials in. Or massages with aromatherapy oils and rain forest music. I had a mental image that I was about to get a facial but quickly pushed it aside. Must stick to gameplan.

After taking a seat, I immediately noticed the names posted on the doors. From where I was sitting, I can only see and read 3 names although I was pretty sure there were at least 7 of them there. One of the 3 visible names leaped out from the rest. It was "the" name. "The" examiner. The one test takers would kill for if they're really desperate to pass the exam.

I distinctly remember Sir Ervin saying "Kung siya ang examiner mo, anak ka ng Diyos!" and we all laughed, silently wishing that we were to be that lucky. She was known to coach examinees when they were getting lost and, although she's not generous when it comes to giving grades (Ceiling Grade of 7.5) she is very lenient and gives lots of passing scores. Let's call her Ma'am Glee.

I eyed her door enviously hearing muffled noises in the background. The organizer was telling an interviewee that so and so is his examiner. After less than 2 minutes, although it felt like forever, the assistant came up to me, asked for my I.D., verified my identity on her list and briefed me on my interview. She said:

"Ma'am, your examiner is Ma'am Glee. She will call you when she's ready."

And I was like, "Oh my Obama, anak ako ng Diyos!"

But that was where the ecstasy ended.

I entered the interview room so carefully I could make an Akyat Bahay proud. The truth was, I wasn't nervous, more like detached. This happens every time I get interviewed. That out-of-body experience where there is only void where anxiety and pressure should be. And no, it's not a good thing.

She looked more stern than I expected but she did smile and tried to put me at ease with her friendly tone of voice. She asked for my I.D. and I gave it to her. She gave it back and started reading questions about myself that constitutes Part 1 of the speaking Exam.

1st Question went something like, do you live in a house or a flat? I answered house but before I could speak another word she asked another one. What do you like about your house? This is where the disaster started. My first answer was technically wrong so she prodded "No, your house." and then I realized that she was referring to the structural aspects of the building. And yet, before I knew it, I was at a loss for words. My brain, like it did before and the time after that, decided to go all haywire on me at the time I need it to function properly and I was left like a blubbering idiot.

The next questions were about movies and sports which I answered pretty decently, I admit. Then came Task 2.

My Task 2 was about a city that I once lived in. It was infuriating because back when I was reviewing, it was one of those topics that come up over and over again in the speaking topic handouts. Of course I ignored the one question that I happen to get.

I think I said the same thing over and over again that 2 minutes of non-stop speaking. I could be pretty talkative if I'm comfortable and interested with what I'm talking about but with such mundane topic I am not prepared of, words and ideas were hard to come by.

Task 3 (Abstract Ideas) was more about cities. Oh the joy. No, not really. What are the advantages of living in a city? Compare city living and living in the province, or something like that. I have ideas, but in the end, I felt as if I could have said more, stuttered less.

I noticed that at the last question, although I didn't know it was the last, just when I was running out of words, she gently concluded the interview saying that that is the end of the speaking exam. She didn't congratulate me or anything, just smiled courteously. I said thanks and went out the room, feeling dejected and unbelievably idiotic. I knew I could have done better. I walked (wearing Torture Shoes I might add) to Megamall where I took an FX home.

It took me the rest of the evening to get over the, in my opinion, failed interview. I held on to the knowledge that Ma'am Glee was my examiner and she will bring forth the power of leniency and give me my much needed 7 for my speaking test.  It's either 7 or retake. The thought filled me with dread and I remembered Manong Guard  scolding me at the lobby. I went home thinking that there might actually be a next time.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

*Please note that this post is mostly for amusement purposes only and is not made to stir the hearts and indignation of the politically opinionated. Obvious representation of personal biases of this blogger is not intentional but unavoidable. :)

We have less than a month to go before The Big Finale. With all the confusion and pandemonium in the political world, it's sometimes hard to distinguish who's who and which side to believe in. Here, I present The Unofficial Slumbook of the 2010 Presidential Candidates written to serve as a map, GPS system, light at the end of a tunnel, ray of light in the sea of darkness, useless piece of Internet space, 5 minutes of your life  wasted that you will never get back... you decide.


Tagline: Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.
Favorite Color: Yellow
Distinct Physical Characteristic / Style: Receeding hairline
Famous Endorser: Kris Aquino, Kris Aquino's friends, The Simpsons, B1 at B2
Vote Because:
Noynoy is smart, well educated and comes from a family tree of heroes worthy of superpowers, red cape and visible underwear. Might prove or disprove the age old wonder if heroism is indeed genetic. (See: The Incredibles)
Do Not Vote Because:
The man talks too fast. Reporters, stenographers and the whole nation will be panting with exertion while listening and trying to comprehend his would-be SONA. Philippine monarchy issues may also arise. King Baby James in the far future might be more than a ridiculous nightmare.


Tagline: Sipag at Tiyaga / Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?
Favorite Color: Orange
Distinct Physical Characteristic / Style: Orange Polo, Khaki Jacket, Evil Smile
Famous Endorser: Manny Pacquiao, Willie Revillame, Baby James
Vote Because:
He promises to be the Messiah and save the country from poverty, hunger, unemployment, pollution, OFWs, education and health problems, Christmas on the streets, heartless tree cutters, AIDS, Cancer, rabid dogs and annoying sales ladies with his vast estate of billions of pesos and middle class housing in just the span of four years. Now, if you honestly believe that, then......
Do Not Vote Because:
Possibility of face being plastered all around the Metro in walls, Meralco posts, plastic bags, even mineral water bottles (See: Ondoy relief goods) in all its orange glory is too horrible to even imagine. How the gargantuan amount of money spent during campaign period will be gained back is still a shady mystery. 


Tagline: The Transformers
Favorite Color: Red
Distinct Physical Characteristics / Style: Barong Tagalog, Beer belly
Famous Endorsers: Bayani Fernando... Bayani Fernando...
Vote Because:
Dick Gordon is the ultimate activist and has done loads for the place and sectors he has served. He does well on debates and execute remarkable  talent in enthusiastic public speaking.
Do Not Vote Because:
Not a lot of people watch debates, truly research about their candidates and do not get caught up with survey statistics. Hence, Dick Gordon has as much chance of winning as other candidates who does not have the surname of Villar and Aquino.


Tagline: Eddie Ako
Favorite Color: Yellow din
Distinct Physical Characteristic / Style: Yellow Polo Shirt, Bible, Holy Water, Famous quote by well-known personalities
Famous Endorser: Big Bro
Vote Because:
Malacanang will be renovated into a cathedral. Attendance to Sunday masses will be pushed as law, one year imprisonment or 10,000 php fine for convicted felonies. The Philippines will be the most holy of places, second only to Vatican.
Do Not Vote Because:
If it is Big Bro's Will, there's no need to. Big Bro will make a way, where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see, he will make a way for Eddie Villanueva. 


Tagline: Galing at Talino, Sulong Gibo
Favorite Color: Green
Distinct Physical Characteristic / Style: Smooth fair skin, adorable baby face and charming smile.
Famous Endorser: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Vote Because:
Gibo possesses the charisma of someone people will like to keep as a pet because of epic cuteness and impressive intelligence. Unfortunately, he is already owned by someone else. (See: Do Not Vote Because)
Do Not Vote Because:
(See: Famous Endorser.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

I've always been irritated by how the Philippine media blows up every Filipino name that come across the international (read: American) scene. Even personalities with .001 % of our native blood, even though they have never been to the Philippines nor speak the language, get more attention than they deserve.

Of course, there are individuals who really deserve all the media hype, and aside from Arnel Pineda and Manny Pacquiao, Charice (Pempengco) has proved to be one them. The once child wonder Ellen Degeneres and Oprah had gawked upon in amazement is no longer a child hence the new image and RnB-ish single. Gone are the Star Search inspired Celine Dion/Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey tracks which most singing contestants insist on singing to show off their vocal range. Finally, Charice is now ready to embrace her inner teen diva.

PYRAMID, the new single from Charice's new album feat. Iyaz, is a catchy RnB tune that translates well to wicked dance track courtesy of Dave Aude. The lyrics are meaningful and the feel of the song is just right for this day and age. Not too much earth-shaking exhibition of how high one's vocal chords can achieve, (read: Note to God) which, at least in my book, is a big yay. It's hip, it's fun, it's a song you can listen to over and over again.

In fact, it took me 34 plays before I grew tired of listening to the song over and over again. Trust me, iTunes kept count.

I now fear the inevitable time when the song will hit mainstream radio and I have to listen to people going gaga over the song I am already getting sick of.

However, in my honest opinion, a great single (that she didn't write nor help compose) and a gig in Oprah do not spell surefire success. Watching the video, I was left with the odd feeling that it's lacking something. Or at least, her image does.

Don't get me wrong, I think she's a beautiful kid with a brilliant voice but let's face it, she's not PussycatDollPretty and while watching the video, I can still perceive her as the Tween sidekick Hannah Montana would befriend. Her Virgin-Mary-uber-wholesome image will also not help her career that much. I'm not saying that she should strip in front of the camera and do a rendition of Lady Gaga's dance routine in Love Game but, I don't know, I'm just not digging her overall style. I think she still has to find her trademark something the same way Taylor Swift found her guitar and Miley Cyrus discovered the power of stripper shorts.

That said, I wish Charice all the best. She is, after all, carrying our nation's name. May Filipinos be known for more than knowing how to beat people up professionally and being great nurses/caregivers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It has been a year. :(

Soar high, classmates.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

 Last Holy Monday, we went to this free Healing Recollection in San Juan Gymnasium in welcome of the Holy Week. It was ill attended at first but there was an increase in the number of people as the day went on, about half were Senior Citizens.

I was not really keen on doing the uber cheesy song-and-synchronized-dance worship routine fit for grandmothers and children alike (I prefer rocking out with Hillsong) and was cringing like crazy for most of the day but it ended pretty well. I was so amused by the last priest because it was believed by many followers that he can heal all kinds of illnesses. Testimonials of his supernatural ability told by ordinary people who got through extraordinary trials preceded his talk so it was no wonder how sought after he was once he got onstage.

After his lecture, while preparing for the Holy Mass, he was talking with members of the audience, some people decided to come up to him and have his Healing Hands upon their wretched vital organs. And since it is a Healing Recollection, ( and most people took that pretty literally) mayhem ensued. 

Said priest almost didn't make it to the back of the auditorium intact. Grandmothers were touching and tugging at his priesthood like their lives depended on it.

It was surreal.

Anyways, after the mass, they hosed down the crowd with holy water to make them feel all holy and deter them from jumping on the stage. Father stayed on the platform until some people decided to leave the premises then when the backup guards arrived, he also made his escape route still with throngs of faithful followers following his wake.

I watched in awe and incredulity at the scene before me. It reminded me of the rock concert events all around the globe and found almost no difference. I almost half expected Father to do a Bon Jovi power chord and jump off the stage and do a mosh pit performance.

How ironic that grandmothers in the prime of their lives and hormonal teenagers behave similarly when faced with the same kind of Idol-driven stimulus. But quite frankly, I'm more afraid of reckless grandmothers than prepubescent ones.

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