Ego Bait Headlines

I’ve noticed this type of headline cropping up, which I’ve taken to calling ego baits. The basic template is <some observable habit> is a sign of <some positive attribute>, and I think it works because it appeals to our vanity. The reader goes, “since I have <observable habit>, then I must be <positive attribute>”.

Other examples:
– Science Confirms, Night Owls More Intelligent
– Early Risers Tend to be More Successful


When the stimulants stop working
And all that’s left are the cold embers of your soul
Nothing to wake you up
from the stupor of a lazy day
When all you want to do
is lose yourself in the word-worlds of King and Rowling 
or pet your cats to oblivion
There is no actual point to this piece
Just a momentary distraction, a lark
So let’s just end on a happy note
Whoa, look at that G sharp smile!

Down is Up

Sometimes, a little down time makes all the difference.

Yesterday, I did all the right things. I immersed myself in the work, sat down at the scheduled time, and avoided distractions for 3.5 hours.

But nothing came out. I barely managed 250 words.

Today was different. I sat down and the words started putting themselves down, flowing from my hands—well, not exactly without effort—but I’d say more readily than yesterday.

What made the difference?

Time. Down time, to be exact.

Yesterday, I put in the hours and did the hard work of trying to put together the myriad facts and ideas, but the puzzle just wasn’t fitting together.

Later in the day, as I rested and played and slept, I suppose my subconscious mind had time to find how to connect everything.

When I woke up today, all I needed to do was to paint the formed puzzle in my mind with my verbal wordbrush.

The takeaway from this, if you’re doing any kind of creative work, is to allocate sufficient time in your schedule for your mind to fit the puzzle pieces together.

Symbols of Oppression

Is the symbol more important than the actuality?

The Philippine flag is a symbol. The national anthem is a symbol. But are they more important than the actual country?

So how come we’ve decided that it’s a good idea to arrest 34 people for not standing up when the national anthem was played in the cinema?

It would be like burning a map of Luzon and getting arrested as if you actually burned Luzon. Shouldn’t the punishment fit the crime?

What is the wisdom of spending precious national resources to monitor, arrest, process, and even imprison (yes, imprison!) these people when they could be out there making a living as productive citizens of the country?

So they disrespected the anthem. Meanwhile, other people who are actually disrespecting the country by littering, stealing, and defecating on our economy are enjoying themselves to high heaven.

What is the wisdom of forcing people to go through the motions of nationalism out of fear that they would be robbed of their liberty? Does it improve the economic conditions and quality of life of the nation?

It’s good to be patriotic, but if you’re doing it because you fear fines or prison, that’s not patriotism.

Philippine Drug War Metrics

In business, the metrics you focus on and incentivize determine how the organization behaves. Are you looking at the end result or vanity metrics that may not actually make a difference?

In the Philippine drug war, what’s our measure of success? If it’s arrests and seizures, doesn’t that encourage our police to meet arrest quotas? Isn’t there something seriously wrong about the idea of needing to arrest X number of people per month to look successful?

Shouldn’t we be looking at real metrics like morbidity (illnesses), mortality (overdoses), and rates of abuse? The question is: are they going down using the current method?

Ano ba kasi ang “dialect”?

Hanggang ngayon, malaking misconception pa rin na hindi language o wika ang Cebuano, Ilocano, Waray, Hiligaynon, at iba pang mga regional languages ng Pilipinas.

Filipino daw ang national language at “dialect” lang daw ang mga ito.

Para malinawan tayo, alamin muna natin: ano ba kasi ang dialect? Anong kinaibahan nito sa language? At ano ba ‘tong “Filipino” language na ‘to?

So totoo lang, walang clear-cut distinction ang language at dialect, pero usually may 3 criteria na ginagamit:
1. Mutual Intelligibility
2. Politics
3. Literature


Gamit ang Mutual Intelligibility na criteria, masasabing magkaibang language kapag hindi kayo magkakaintindihan. Kunwari, Kapampangan lang ang alam ni Elmira at Waray lang ang alam ni Carding, hindi sila magkakaintindihan dahil magkaibang wika ang dalawang ito.

Kung, halimbawa naman, ay mag-usap si Norman na taga-Batangas at si Juan na taga-Cavite, magkakaintindihan sila dahil regional variations lang ng iisang wika ang gamit nila: Batangas dialect of Tagalog at Cavite dialect of Tagalog. May mga pinagkaiba pero similar enough na magkakaintindihan pa rin sila.


Ngayon, meron ding political criteria. Halimbawa, ang Danish, Swedish at Norwegian ay mutually intelligible, pero tinuturing silang magkakaibang language at hindi dialects lang ng “Scandinavian”. Ang Mandarin at Cantonese, dalawang wika sa China, ay hindi mutually intelligible pero tinuturing silang dialect ng “Chinese” dahil yun ang naging policy ng kanilang bansa.

May mga cases din na tinuturing lang na language pag yun ang ginagamit ng elites ng isang society at nadedemote yung iba to “dialect”.

Sa case ng Pilipinas, nagkaroon ng executive order noong 1937 na magkakaroon ng isang national language na tinatawag na Pilipino base sa Tagalog. Nung 1973 constitution, pinalitan ng Filipino na fusion daw dapat ng mga native languages, parang halo halo. Supposedly.

Pero ang actual na nangyari, ang Filipino ay naging base lang sa Manila dialect of Tagalog, dahil capital ang Maynila at malaki ang naging impluwensiya nito sa bansa.

Sa 1987 constitution, tinatawag na “regional or auxiliary languages” ang ibang mga wika ng bansa kagaya ng Yakan o Maguindanaon, pero ang tinuturo pa rin sa mga school at textbook ay dialect lang ang mga ito.


May mga authors din na ginagamit ang pagkakaroon ng written literature bilang basehan para masabing wika at hindi dialect ang isang salita. Pero kahit gamitin natin ang criteria na ito, matituturing pa rin nating wika ang Cebuano, Hiligaynon, or Kapampangan dahil mayroon silang written works.

Ayan ha, yan ang mga criteria. Kung linguistics ang usapan, full-fledged languages ang ibang mga wika ng Pilipinas.

Ayon nga sa Ethnologue, mayroon tayong 187 unique languages. Next time may mag correct sa inyo na hindi language ang mga ito, meron na kayong maisasagot.

Unity is Disastrous

On August 7, 1997, Korean Air Flight 801 crashed into a hill, killing 228 of the 254 people on board. According to the investigation, one of the causes was the “the first officer’s and flight engineer’s failure to effectively monitor and cross-check the captain’s execution of the approach.” In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that they failed to do so out of respect for authority and fear of upsetting their leader.

While there are other factors at play in the story, there are lessons here for the Philippine nation. Our leaders are human and fallible, no matter how noble they may seem. There are those arguing that we must stop questioning, shut up and keep quiet in order for us to progress.

That thinking is misguided. As in the Air Flight story, blind obedience can lead to catastrophic outcomes. “Obey and never complain” is a recipe for disaster. Criticism hurts, but constructive feedback is a way to improve.

What do you call an organization that does not allow any dissent and expects absolute obedience to its tenets and the will of its leader? A cult. A whirlpool of destruction.

But criticism and debate doesn’t have to be hurtful. As a country of 100 million minds, it’s inevitable that we would have diverse perspectives. We all want a nation where every citizen enjoys a good quality of life. We just differ in how we think that can be achieved.

I believe we can learn how to engage better by learning how to argue better. Enough of false dichotomies where criticizing Duterte means liking Aquino and vice versa. Enough of black and white thinking where all the policies of our favorite party are good and all the policies of the opposing party are bad. Enough of ad hominems attacking the messenger. More evidence-based and data-driven thinking.

No, we don’t need less criticism. What we need is more critical thinking. Independence means having the responsibility to think for ourselves.

How to End Procrastination

I enjoy writing, but still I procrastinate. Maybe you enjoy something too, but hesitate to even begin.

Perhaps we procrastinate because we’re afraid. In my case, I fear that once I spit those words onto the screen, I will be exposed as a fraud. Having sold myself as a capable individual, I’m terrified of being confronted by the opposite reality.

Again and again, those fears have proven false. Still, they remain, niggling away at my thoughts and pushing me to seek the comfortable world of social networks. Scrolling, scrolling, wasting away.

But there’s a better way.

I call it the experimental approach to work. I’ve noticed that when I read about a new technique I can deploy, my procrastination tends to fade away. It becomes less about me and more about testing if a method works or not. If it doesn’t, then the method is at fault. It becomes a matter of deploying and constantly refining the approach and testing hypotheses instead of becoming a constant warzone for my ego.

The fears are still there, but they’re a little bit more manageable. I hope this mindset helps you conquer yours too.

Maharlika Malarky

May kumakalat po ngayon na nagsasabing “Maharlika” daw ang tawag sa Pilipinas bago dumating ang Kastila.

Although appealing yung idea, hindi po ito totoo. Maharlika refers to an ancient class system, not our ancient name.

Wala pa pong idea ng Pilipinas as a nation bago dumating ang mga Kastila kaya wala pang pangalan.

Pero may bustling civilization na tayo in the form of independent kingdoms gaya ng Rajahnate of Cebu, Sultanate of Sulu, Sultanate of Manila.

Ayon sa Chinese text na “Sung Annals”, nakipag-trade sila sa isang civilization na tinawag nilang Ma-i/Ba-i. Dalawa po yung theory kung saan ito. Ang traditional view is that ito ang Mindoro, pero may competing theory from Bahay Tsinoy researchers na ito ay Ba-e ng Laguna dahil mas nagma-match yung cultural practices na tinukoy nila sa Sung Annals.

Pinauso po noong panahon ni Pangulong Marcos itong idea ng “Maharlika” as our pre-colonial name.

Huwag po sana ma-offend yung mga nag-share ng “Maharlika” thing. Gusto ko lang po maiwasto yung kaalaman ng mga tao.