ON-TOPIC UPDATE: Just saw the first working model of a $100 laptop from the Seven Countries Task Force meeting May 23, 2006. Here via Digg from Pete Barr Wilson and One Laptop Per Child. Those smart folks at M.I.T. engineered one devilishly simple looking computer, with horns! Check it out. Now all we need is cheap, universal access to a network that connects them all...>But what I really want is one of those new laptops with a SOLID STATE DISK...
ENGLISH AND MULTICULTURALISM: Regarding the recent "cause celebre" involving the alleged "Filipino cultural trait" of eating with a fork and spoon and 7-year old Luc Cagadoc at Ecole Lalande school in Montreal, Canada it suddenly occurs to me how utterly nutty and mentally loose-sprung this business of multiculturalism is.
Take the case of language, for example. What could be more essentially a Filipino cultural trait than the native tongue, or tongues as is actually the case? Yet all the most eloquent attacks on those awful, reprehensible, racist ogres at Ecole Lalande were conducted not in Tagalog or Cebuano or Pampango or even French, but in English. Surely not a "Filipino cultural trait." Or is it?
Then, there is this Newsweek (May 29 edition) article authored by Marites Vitug "The Philippines: Lost in Translation" which considers the issue of English language proficiency in the context of the challenge to compete in such important industries as outsourcing and call-centers.
Ms. Vitug:"Now, to become more globally competitive, the government is scrambling to promote English to young people as the ticket to a good career. Three years ago the Department of Education reinstated English as the primary language of instruction in schools. Various business groups, including both the U.S. and European chambers of commerce, are sponsoring public-relations programs lauding the career benefits of English; one of the campaigns is called "English is cool" and is designed to break young people of their habit of speaking "Taglish"—a mix of English and Tagalog. In addition, Arroyo has promised to set aside $9.6 million to help put so-called near hires—an industry euphemism for applicants rejected due to a weak command of English—through a 100-hour English refresher course. The grant was made after an aggressive campaign by the industry lobby group, which was getting worried about call centers' losing business to countries like India."Indeed, looking at the government's 2006 budget (just passed today by the Senate minus P31 billion in excess porkahydrates) for the Dept. of Education, I notice a P1.5 billion peso special fund for English instructional materials and teacher training.
It's no wonder, not only Luc Cagadoc and his mother, but 10% of the Filipino population is out about in the wide world earning a living as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). They aren't sending back over US $1 billion to keep the archipelago afloat using their Filipino cultural traits alone, I reckon. It's their HUMAN traits that others surely appreciate in our over eight million countrymen working abroad.
I think the issue of language proficiency presents a challenge to ultranationalists and "multiculturalists" about just exactly what their position is on the matter of assimilation in one's work place, or new home. In fact, I'm glad l'affaire Cagadoc happened, because it certainly proves to me that there has to be a virtue that is greater than nationalism, just as nationalism was greater virtue than tribal or clan loyalty. Let us call this as yet unidentified virtue as Globalism or Humanism--the notion that membership in the human species ought to be considered as being above membership in any one nation or culture, just as being Filipino comes before being Ilocano or Pampango or Cebuano or lumad. Certainly above being a Catholic or Protestant or Muslim.
I think that the angry, defensive kind of multiculturalism displayed by most of the local Main Stream Media and huge parts of bloggerdom in the fork-and-spoon brouhaha is a retrograde ideology that belongs in history's dustbin. Along with Mao Tsetung and Renato Constantino!
ENVIRO-PIG VS. FRANKEN-PIG Well, it looks like my day to indulge Newsweek. Here is another article from the May 29 edition about Genetically Modified Organisms, specifically,
"...a pig that is more efficient at digesting phosphorus, which would cut back on a source of pollution, and whose flesh is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which would make ham as good for you as salmon. The "Enviro-pig," as Silver calls it, will most likely never be allowed because of a popular prejudice against anything that involves genetic manipulation. By contrast, Silver points out, organic food is seen as healthier and environmentally sound, even though organic farmers are allowed to spray their crops with chemicals and pesticides like pyrethrin and rotenone."The article has an OPEN Comment line to participate in the ongoing debate with nay-sayers who say such a pig would be a "Franken-pig" and that the true agenda of the scientists is to start making designer human beings. (Think about it!) Here again, there are opposed forces of progress and reaction that have a great deal to do with whether we see humanity as essentially united and one, or forever "multicultural." The centripetal forces and iconoclastic ways of scientific discovery and economic progress powerfully interact with tradition and culture.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARY MAGDALENE: I think that Mary Magdalene is the most fascinating literary character (next to Jesus Himself ) to emerge from that apparently large genre of story-telling and gospel-writing which was written in Greek during the first centuries of the First Millennium, A.D. I suppose the endpoint of this period has to be at the Council of Nicea when the "Church Fathers" deemed a few these works of purported historical testimony or witness (namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to be divinely inspired and produced the canonical New Testament's Four Gospels. By necessary implication, those same Church Fathers had declared the rest of the genre of writing as not divinely inspired, or apocryphal.
NEWSWEEK (May 29, 2006 edition) has the scoop on the logical and rhetorical continuation of the Da Vinci Code premise that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were man and wife, by focusing in this week's cover article on one of those apocryphal works: the alleged Gospel according to Mary Magdalene!
It's a worth a click over to Newsweek just to see this 15th century painting of Mary Magdalene and Mary the Blessed Mother, both at the crucifixion of Jesus. And the following paraphrase of the Gospel according John which places Mary Magdalene right at the very beginning of Christianity itself at the Resurrection -- then disappears completely! --
I have seen the Lord: such is the story of the Resurrection, as told in the Gospel of John. With it begins the history of Christianity, and with it ends the New Testament history of Mary Magdalene. Peter and Paul form the new church, Stephen dies a martyr's death, John the Divine envisions the End Times. But Mary Magdalene—a critical figure in his earthly circle—is neither seen nor heard from again.The plot thickens. I think Mary Magdalene's story will become a Hollywood blockbuster long before Judas does! Even the Gospel According to John paints a poignant image of Mary Magdalene, if you think about it. She's there at the Crucifixion of a man condemned by the Roman Pilate and the Jewish Sanhedrin; she's there to anoint his corpse a few days later; she is the first to see the risen Lord and to report it. Then she disappears from the narrative that goes through the Holy Roman Empire! Ah! Love!
Yet the Magdalene—that part of her name derives from Magdala, her hometown—lives on in another tradition that can be found in an obscure second-century text. Dubbed "The Gospel of Mary," it depicts Mary as a leader of Jesus' followers in the days after his resurrection. Written by Christians some 90 years after Jesus' death, Mary's is a "Gnostic gospel"; the Gnostics, a significant force in the early years of Christianity, stressed salvation through study and self-knowledge rather than simply through faith. The text was lost for centuries until found in fragments by a collector in Cairo in 1896. In its telling, Jesus rises and vanishes after instructing his disciples to "preach the good news about the Realm." The exhortation makes them uneasy: Christ had died preaching that gospel. What was to save them from a similar fate?
ONE BISHOP BLOGGING: CBCP's head, Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo has been blogging up a storm lately. But he doesn't get any comments inspite of the fact that I think he is the only one among the blogging bishops with an open Blogger Comment line.