Monday, September 30, 2013

When Blogging Becomes a Nexus of Cyberspace and the Real World...

"You know, there are not that many Japanese people who come to the Philippines, and even among those few Japanese here, only the tiny minority is willing to explore different places and try new things.  I think, as member of this tiny minority, I have the duty and obligation to broadcast my experiences and newly gained knowledge via my blog."  This is perhaps the most genuinely and agreeably righteous comment the author has ever had the fortune to hear firsthand.  It is as if the comment suddenly opened up a whole new understanding of what blogging really means.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Economic Costs of Not Being Able to Say "No"

Let's start out with a bit of stereotyping: Asian culture is a culture that frowns upon outright, declared refusals.  Because people are taught, in schools, in homes, and social occasions, to focus on maintaining harmonious, non-intrusive, and non-confrontational relationships, people have tendency to say "maybe," "I will think about it," or even "yes" and they play along with the situation uncomfortably just to avoid awkward situations in which they have to openly reject the what they interpret as well-meaning offers made by others.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Unsustainable Nature of Aid-Giving Social Work

Out there in the rich world, despite all the ruckus about economic downturns and youth unemployment, there seems to be still a strong ideology of action-based do-gooders out there.  Young people in the so-called developed countries, disillusioned by what they feel as "corporate pragmatism" increasingly distanced from the "real world" of unending poverty, disease, and hopelessness in the so-called developing world, dreams about swashbuckling alternate lives saving people in the Earth's remote, underdeveloped corners from misery.  They, so they believe, can miraculously apply the experience of the rich world directly to the poor.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Meaning of Hosting Olympics: Why Istanbul Would Have been a Better Choice for 2020 than Tokyo

As a long-term resident in the city of Tokyo, the author has been often impressed by the city.  Its community spirit (despite being a faceless, almost uniformly dressed metropolis of 35 million) is well much present.  Despite massive government debts, no one has serious doubts about the country being able to construct the physical infrastructure and provide for the necessary human efforts to make the 2020 Olympics a big success.  As a previous host of Olympics and many more regular international events, Tokyo has the experience to make the Olympics a great one.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

When Education ceases to be a Vehicle for Upward Mobility

Tucked in a densely forested northeastern corner of Quezon City lies University of Philippines-Silliman, the main (and the largest) campus of the UP system that is the cornerstone of the country’s publicly funded tertiary education system.  Every year, 2000 freshman from all over the country, selected based on scores on a tough and highly competitive entrance exam, enters the campus, receiving a heavily subsidized education courtesy of the Philippine government.