Judge a man, not by how he treats his equals, but by how he treats his inferiors.
Upper and middle class families often grumble about how hard it is to get good help nowadays, but really… why would the good people seek employment in homes that treat them badly?
Servants, no matter where they are from or how much or little they know, should be treated, fed, clothed, and paid well. Not all of them repay the kindness (I actually want to kick out one of our maids because she’s so lazy and thick-faced), but most of the time, happy servants make happy homes.
And I was very shocked when I heard that a friend’s niece was illegally “recruited” from Mindanao. She was maltreated by her amo, fed only instant noodles and rice, blamed for a minor mishap with a rice cooker (she’s being charged 800 pesos for a broken fuse!!!), and they wouldn’t let her go until she paid them back her “recruitment fee” of almost 3000 pesos!!!
It is absurd, because all of our servants are from the same region, the same province, the same barangay, and we know how much it costs to get them here. It is definitely less than 3000 pesos.
I really hate it when city people try to fool the poor from the provinces. They think promdis are stupid. Well, they’re not. They’re just desperate enough to bite the shit that is served to them.
I know some people think that they can’t do anything to alleviate the poverty in the Philippines. But I think that families who can afford hired help can do so, just by being good to their servants.
If you were to be comforted for feeling so bad about yourself, how would you like your friend to comfort you? What would make you :) ? Feel warm and loved? :)
I don’t need hugs or words like “ok lang yan”. I just need them to be there and ask me if my problem will still matter five years from now. If the answer is no, then they don’t have to do anything. If the answer is yes, then I’ll take that hug. :)
Life Lessons for a UP Lifer (the title submitted by the author)
UP Integrated School, 1987 BA Communication (Journalism), 1993 Master of Business Administration, 1997
Philippine Star Kuwentong Peyups, Sunday, August 24, 2008, Reprinted with permission
I am what you call a UP lifer. I not only studied in UP from grade school to the masteral level, I also lived on UP campus until I got married. If only I had been born in PGH and baptized at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, my affiliation with the state university would have been complete.
My parents, both being UP professors, were awarded one of the new residential units in Amorsolo in the late 1970s. After a few months, though, we moved to Valenzuela Street in Area 2, where my life as an “area boy” officially began.
I rode the school bus when I was in Grade 2 at UPIS. The school service was owned by someone named Ibareta, a name which I’m sure many UPIS alumni from the ‘70s and ‘80s fondly remember. They had a conductor nicknamed Elvis, his sideburns and slick hair betraying his obvious devotion to the King. We students called all the drivers Mr. Ibareta, thinking they were the owners.
During summers I used to hang out almost every day at the house of Prof. Ajit Singh Rye in Area 3, which was a mere stone’s throw away from our own house. I was close friends with his sons Ranjit and Satyajit, as well as his nephew Marcel. In fact, to this day, Ranjit is one of my closest friends. We were each other’s best man and are godfathers to each other’s firstborn. Prof. Rye was a godfather at my wedding.
High school at UPIS during my time was pretty turbulent. Right in our first year, which was the university’s diamond jubilee year, Ninoy Aquino was assassinated, and over the next two years or so classes were suspended at least once a month due to protests and rallies. Student activism was at its peak, even at UPIS. Students wore yellow pins that proclaimed their devotion to Ninoy’s martyrdom.
“Hindi ka nag-iisa” was the catchphrase of the time.
My first major dilemma in life happened in my fourth year. It was October 18, 1986, and I was scheduled to take the UPCAT at 1 p.m. The problem was, at around 3 p.m. of the same day, the UP Fighting Maroons were to play the UE Red Warriors in Game 1 of the UAAP championship series.
I was crushed. I had badly wanted to be there to cheer on the Maroons, but it wasn’t meant to be. God probably has other plans for me, I thought, so on my way to my UPCAT appointment, I dropped by the UP Chapel to say a small prayer for myself and for the team.
As I was praying silently, I suddenly felt that I wasn’t alone, like there was some huge presence nearby. Sure enough, when I opened my eyes and looked to my right, there really was a huge presence — measuring all of six feet and four inches: UP center Benjie Paras was a few feet away, also talking to the Almighty. Turns out both our prayers were answered, for UP won Game 1 (enabling me to watch Game 2 and join the subsequent celebration a week later), and I eventually passed the UPCAT.
After graduating from UPIS in 1987, I entered UP Diliman full of enthusiasm and idealism. I was really so proud to have passed the UPCAT. Coming from UP’s own secondary school, most of us UPIS grads felt a little superior to our fellow freshmen. Little did we know that we were in for a rude awakening.
If there’s one thing I learned from UP, it’s that no matter how good or smart or talented you think you are, you will always, and I mean always, bump into someone who’s better than you. It’s like a perpetual reality check. I remember during one of my first History 1 classes as a freshman, and this was like two weeks into our first semester at UP, our professor asked our block who among us was a high school valedictorian.
To my utter amazement, nearly a third of my block mates nonchalantly raised their hands. Imagine, one out of every three of us was a valedictorian! I suddenly felt so small and insignificant, and wondered if I really belonged. After all, my last academic achievement of note was being named first honor way back in Grade 2. And here I was among 17- and 18-year-olds from all over the country who were the best of their batches. One block mate was apparently more affected than I was, for less than a week later she left UP and promptly enrolled somewhere else where the valedictorians were presumably fewer.
Actually, being a freshman in the university was in itself a lesson in humility. The upperclassmen were always quick to check your ego and let you know that even though you made it to UP, you had to earn your spurs.
One way they did this year in and year out, in what has become a traditional initiation of sorts for freshies, was to send any poor freshman naïve enough to ask for directions to Room TBA on a wild goose chase. Oh, the horror stories I’ve heard about that fictional room and what some freshmen have gone through in search of it.
My all-time favorite, which I also used on my cousin when he was a freshman, was that TBA stood for the Teodoro Benigno Auditorium, which was located wherever the upperclassman imagined it to be. Ride an Ikot jeep, get down at the ISSI, take 10 steps to right, knock three times on the nearest door….you get the point. Other freshmen victims were simply directed to Palma Hall 128, which they soon found out was actually the men’s CR.
There was also this group of guys who called themselves TUSOC, short for the Tulay Society, in reference to the small bridge along the AS Walk where they always hung out. These guys were notorious for “grading” any poor lass who was brave enough to pass over the bridge while they were there. If they thought a co-ed merited only a five in the looks scale, they let her know it.
But it wasn’t all horror stories. I quickly learned to appreciate UP students’ lack of pretense and down-to-earth nature. Being exposed to teenagers from all over the country and from all economic brackets gave me a more well-rounded view of the world. I also admired other simpler traditions, like when tinderas would just leave their blue books unattended in certain areas of AS, encouraging the students to adopt an honesty system by depositing their payment with no one really checking if they did.
Being a basketball fanatic through and through, I also learned that school spirit in UP wasn’t exactly the same as it was in other schools. I followed the UAAP closely, watching every UP game I could even if it meant watching all by myself in faraway Rizal Coliseum. The Fighting Maroons were the defending champions when I entered UP in 1987, so we actually had a pretty strong team during my early college years.
For the most part, though, the UP community wasn’t into sports, or to be precise, wasn’t into being too fanatical or obsessed with school spirit. This is an observation that probably holds true up to now even with the advent of the famed UP Pep Squad.
I guess it stems from another lesson UP taught me which I cherish up to this day: respect for the individual and the individual’s beliefs. Somehow, getting UP students to be collectively fanatical about something, even if it wasn’t basketball, ran against the grain of UP culture. In a way, it was a contradiction, but an amusing one: the essence of the UP school spirit was to not take the UP school spirit too seriously. Blind faith just didn’t appeal to the typical UP student, save perhaps if he were a frat man.
But I guess it’s what ultimately distinguishes UP from the rest. We never needed to be coached or indoctrinated about loving our alma mater. We were never even given a school holiday to celebrate or observe the university foundation day. Our teachers never told us to forget about our high school affiliations now that we (or at least my other classmates) were in another school.
Their message was simply, “You’ve made it to the best school in the country. Now show us you deserve to be here.”
I’d like to think I did.
(reposting again, for the freshies and the UP varsity athletes)