ON THE GROUND INSIGHTS

ON THE GROUND INSIGHTS by Pammy Macasaet

For CWTS NSTP, my friends and I were assigned to assist The Nameless Collective. An organization dedicated to keeping the names of the unknown heroes in the Philippines alive. These are unsung heroes who have fought for true democracy since the Marcos regime up until today. During our time in the Nameless Collective we were tasked to set up an exhibit about the unsung heroes, host a forum and research on new heroes.

My group, in particular, was tasked to interview and research about unsung heroes- Ferdie Arceo, Boy Morales, Noel Gamalina and the like. Throughout the research period, we were contacted & interviewed friends, relatives & colleagues, conducted the research and created profiles for the heroes. During this time, I personally learned many things and gained insights about the country.

When we held the exhibit and forum, I learned that there were so many people that sacrificed their lives for their country. All these people are unknown. I began to appreciate the Nameless Collective for keeping the names of these people alive. Their stories should be kept alive.

The next phase of the Nameless we were broken up into different groups and assigned different tasks. My group was assigned to research about different people who deserve to be placed in the Nameless. Ma’am Eileen gave us a list of who to contact. While researching, I learned about the lives of these different people and the causes they were fighting for. What was surprising to me was that some these people are still fighting today. Their friend & colleagues told us that they believe there is still much to be done in the country.

There are still many aspects of democracy that the Philippines has yet to improve on. They believe there is still inequality in the nation. Many of them are working to change this. One of those we research about, Noel Gamalina was one of these people who went on the ground to different farming & fishing communities and let people know their different rights. Those are one of the problems, Filipinos doe not know their rights and what they are entitled to thus they let the powerful take advantage of them.

While on the ground, I gained insights into the state of the country and what needs to be done to improve it.

Pamela Y. Macasaet 2012-57319

The Irony of Justice

Vhong Navarro’s case has taken a big part in social media and the news these past few months. The progress of his case has been relatively quick as compared to the other cases that are still pending at the Supreme Court and other courts in the country.

The special treatment of cases of celebrities or people with influence has been a recurring event in the Philippines. An example of this is Kris Aquino’s annulment from her ex-husband James Yap which took approximately less than one and a half years. The progress in a year that a normal Filipino could have in their case would probably be the first hearing which is just the presentation of evidences. They would still have to schedule another (and many m0re) hearings for cross examinations and the like.

Lady Justice has a blindfold on because she favors no one and she has the balance scale to weigh right and wrong with reason. It is ironic how in the Philippines, and maybe in other countries, only the rich and influential  receive  justice immediately. It is their case that is given priority while thousands of cases from years ago are still unresolved, and until now, many cases continue to pile up. Lady Justice’s balance is tipped and is heavy on the side where the rich are. The way justice is served in our country is unjust and it shouldn’t be that way.

 

-Kaye Villasenor 2012-27275

BIR TAX ADS

BIR Ad

 

The Bureau of Internal Revenue has been under fire recently for releasing the ad shown above. Different doctors’ organizations have been releasing statements saying that it is a poor representation of doctors and that it is a hasty generalization.

Commissioner Kim Henares came to the ad’s defense saying that it was not an attack towards the doctors, it was an ad that meant to imply that the rich or people who have high income do not pay taxes while those who earn less, earnestly pay their dues; the use of the doctor sitting on the teacher was merely an example.

I believe that BIR’s ad was created with good intentions but it was too explicit in its approach. It is true that there are rich people who evade taxes, but it is also likely that there are people who do not earn a lot that do not pay their taxes. It was not right of BIR to use a specific profession in their advertisement because, whether or not they wanted to, they created an image of the hero and the villain. I believe it is unfair for the teachers to be portrayed as heroes and the doctors as villains because in general, they are both heroes in their own right. Maybe it would have been best if BIR used general ideas for the  tax evader in their advertisement such as a well dressed woman with many accessories on or a man holding a bag overflowing with money. They could have found a different way for it to have impact and not directly attack a certain group of people.

-Kaye Villasenor 2012-27275

On Routines and Learning

Learning for an organization is one of the most fundamental ways it can adapt to a complex and ever changing environment and could even be tantamount to its survival. In line with this, firms are veering away from traditional views of organizations, which define firm activities as rational decision making where they identify and evaluate the best alternative and implement them, towards alternative perspectives of organizations.

While the traditional view focuses on planning down to the smallest of details to achieve certain goals, the alternative view allows the firm to move according to its own volitions, while managers make small and strategic steps to put it into course.

This allows men on the ground more liberties to experiment with things they do in the routine level. For routines to work however, everyone has to participate actively. From the CEO to the janitorial staff, everyone must embody these routines so that the system would work.

An assembly man, for instance, because they work firsthand with the machines every day, are in a better position than the managers to see and spot inefficiency in their section as it arises, and suggest solutions to it.

The Japanese call this kind of system, Kaizen. Toyota in particular has pioneered Kaizen in which workers are told to stop the production line the moment they spot some defect, or inefficiency. They would talk to their supervisor, get to the bottom of it and suggest improvements about it.

According to Becker, these routines are one of the most important way of storing the organization’s specific operational and tacit knowledge. It also holds knowledge that individuals apply in the firm.

These routines are defined as “pattern of behaviour that is followed repeatedly, but is subject to change if conditions change”. What Toyota is doing therefore, is making changing the routine for the better, part of the routine. This gives dynamism to routines, enabling them to respond aptly to new challenges.

In some organizations, they even encourage their workers to make mistakes so that they would learn from these mistakes and be more vigilant against similar problems in the future. Mistakes, John Caddell said, is often caused by insufficient knowledge of the subject matter. Therefore, committing them is a fine way of educating workers in its context.

In a way, by integrating the results of these mini experiments and mistakes into everyday routine, the knowledge becomes shared throughout the organization, being part of a set of solutions that employees refer to in times of problems. Taken in aggregate, routines “represent successful solutions to particular problems”. As such, organizations are very much like a person, learning through experiences and routinizing the solutions that worked and remembering those that didn’t.

In sum, the alternative view is better because it acknowledges the firm’s dynamic nature in that it treats it as a complex adaptive system where the organization is not just an amalgamation of the knowledge of its constituent parts but also contains tacit knowledge of its own. This is embedded in the firm’s value system, social and legal architecture and its work processes.

Why patents slow the advancement of knowledge

Human knowledge, I believe, is a result of mixing and innovating already existing knowledge and making it into a form that is useful and relevant to the human race. All inventions, I believe have drawn upon age old knowledge dating back to the time of the first man with the improvised club in his hand. And in this, I believe there are no basis for intellectual monopolies such as patents.

Imagine if the man who invented the first club maintained an intellectual monopoly for the use of clubs for a thousand years. Human advancement in weapons would then be taken aback a thousand years since other people wouldn’t be able to improve upon it to ensure their survival. This example is admittedly extreme, but this is what happens today. Big Tech and Pharmaceutical  firms patenting as much piece of technology they could so as to gain revenue for its use and secure monopolies in (future, if the technology is under development) markets.

The government and many advocates of science says that granting such an intellectual monopoly actually incentivises innovation by ensuring that the scientist or innovator would have a sure (or more aptly, a more certain) return to their investments. But to see this as such is to flatten the dimension of ‘return’ to the financial kind. Many programmers in the net offer tutorial for free because of non-monetary incentives like being famous, being able to help and doing what they love. If we account for these non-monetary costs, I believe we should have to set-up monopolies for being Pharma and Tech to recoup its investments, rather the act of inventing the drug or technology that saves lives or makes a credible impact to mankind could be a huge incentive already.

These advocates of science fear that if the patent system is abolished, companies would not have the incentive to innovate and human knowledge as we know it may slow in its advancement. I believe patents have already done this effect. By disallowing firms from building upon the technologies of patented innovations, companies are forced to find another unique, unpatented way to produce things (which can be costly), or worse, abandon the project, in fear that just paying for that technology would siphon away possible returns.

This phenomenon is aptly called “Tragedy of the anticommons”. Since people owned component of knowledge and refuse to cooperate, coordinate and compromise with the other knowledge holders in order to come up with something of more value to humanity, and possibly to both firms in general. This results into a kind of collective action failure that results from each party having little incentive on its own to share or cooperate as a group in that it overlooks that the best way they could generate value from what they have is together.

These parties, having intellectual monopolies over portions of knowledge on its own is barely useful, are effectively pulling back the advancement of human knowledge by building legal barriers to information, very much like the conceptual example of the stone age man having a patent on the improvised club for a thousand years.

 

Raphael Justin A. Jambalos

2012-26860

Philippine Theater

Theater is a roulette of humanity and art. It is the manifestation of the insuppressible human need to create and celebrate. Although it is almost always a good choice to enjoy a play during one’s leisure time, it remains a roulette because one never knows what is about to happen on the empty stage before him. Perhaps it will be another boring, overly-dramatic, mediocre production that makes you check your watch every two seconds; however there is also the chance that it will be a step above the rest—a play with real value that is not only entertaining, but significant and beautiful as well.

I took theater 12 last year, and I know that plays are terribly difficult to get running. The story has to be fixed and arranged properly. Original musical numbers have to be composed; and the songs have to be in appropriate to the theme and feel of the production. The actors have to memorize, live, and breathe their scripts until they know the part by heart. There has to be a working harmony between the musicians, actors, directors, technicians, and everyone else involved in the undertaking.

If even one of those elements is out of place, it throws a wrench into the engine, and the entire production can be brought to its knees in a sad mess. However, once in a while, a play manages to get all these elements together, and fits them beautifully. When this happens, the effect is definitely something worth watching, and an experience to remember. Thankfully, Floy Quinto’s Ang Nawawalang Kapatid was one such play.

Ang Nawawalang Kapatid is a Dulaang UP adaptation and reproduction of the Indian Epic, Mahabharata. The story has many elements and characters to follow, and their paths interweave and collide in a surprising and entertaining chain of events. The story revolves around Karna, the secreet prince and child of Queen Kunti, and Prince Duryodhana, also the son of Kunti. The two brothers, though this fact be unbeknownst to them, face off against Yudisthira and his brothers in an effort to secure the throne and Princess Draupadi.

Of course since I was watching the play because of a comm3 subject, I was curious and asked myself as to what communication elements could be in this play that we were supposed to observe or pick up on. It may sound like an obvious question, and perhaps it is, but there is a big difference between simply saying “observing good pronunciation and speaking voice”, and actually witnessing it firsthand—which is what we had to honor of doing. Characteristic of Dulaang UP, there was no shortage of talent. The voice actors were, for the most part, superb—not only in their voices, which carried throughout the entire theater unaided by microphone, but in their very crisp, clear diction and pronunciation. This is no mean feat, especially when done in form of song.

I must say that my enjoyment of the play was a combination of a number of factors. First and foremost, it was easy to follow the storyline because the voices of the singers were audible and pleasant; the narrators Ganesh and Vyasa were also powerful speakers. The messages of the play were relayed through gripping songs, such as Shakuni’s ‘Shalaka’, which escalates into a fervor at its climax, and the storyline is filled with action and twists such as the Along with the rest of the audience, I was fixated on the play the entire time. The play emphasizes the rebirth and recovery that occurs even after the hardest of times and trials. This is a concept that I hope to remember for the things I am to experience in the coming year.

It was a beautiful production. I hope to see more next semester.

The NGO that my group was assigned to was the La Liga Policy Institute. For starters, I really am thankful for all the people there because they were all very understanding and hospitable to us students. But beyond that, I am so happy to have had the chance to work under Ma’am Marge, because she was not only kind but she actually took the time to talk to us and exchange ideas. It wasn’t really like working or being interviewed, she simply helped us digest all the things we encountered while interviewing and doing our paper. It was like she genuinely just liked hearing about the things we had to say.

We talked about so many things one afternoon. We brought up aspects of disaster risk and management, but also the whole environmental situation in general. Ma’am made us think not just about the problems and the plans that LGUs execute, but about actually making an impact to the people and getting everyone to act together. We all agreed that day that LGUs and NGOs doing their work isn’t enough–everyone has to be a part of the solution. It’s about collective action, which means people have to understand the weight of their own actions and the part that each individual plays. I really liked how she didn’t just ask us about regular solutions like recycling and segregating and tree planting, but she really wanted us to think about making campaigns and spread the word to people. I like how we thought about making this problem more relevant, because the truth is that it really isn’t given enough attention. People can easily ignore problems that they don’t feel the effects of directly.

I think the next step in the fight against all this environmental abuse and global warming is really to get people involved on all levels, even in small ways. It’s about acting and preventing now, not worrying about fixing it later when it’s too late and the damage is done. The earth can only fix so much on its own. I can say I got to reflect on a lot that day, and for that I am thankful. It was a pleasant experience working in La Liga, and I’m glad I had the opportunity.