All heart

I always like reading about people who go beyond their personal struggles and overcome their situation to emerge as better persons.  More than finding myself lucky to be better off in terms of their disability, I find inspiration in the way they have risen above their limitation.  It helps me to find something to hold on to as I deal with my personal challenges.  

I strayed into Fr. James Reuter, SJ’s column in Philippine Star “At 3AM” with his article entitled “Dare to Dream“.   Fr. Reuter is no stranger to me because he used to be such a familiar fixture in productions mounted by St. Paul College of which I am an alumna.  He writes about Wijinne Hizon Lumagui who had suffered from an illness (which Fr. Reuter does not disclose) and which has caused her to postpone finishing her education over periods of convalescence.  She finally graduated recently at age 30 and excerpts of her valedictory address are provided in the article.

I suggest you read the article.  I have a letter to write and mail to Wijinne.  (Her address and contact details are also provided.)

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The Ruckus about the Philippine Idol Votes

My webserver at work blocks most blogs, even mine.  So I do my blogging after hours when I go home and connect to the web via our wi-fi connection.  I have committed to memory the URLs of Jher and Jerome whose blogs are on WordPress and which, for some reason, isn’t blocked by my firewall.  So today I had the chance to visit this lunch time and read their latest posts.  I saw their posts on Philippine Idol which spurred me to google this and I surfed to a few blogs.

Let me spare you those highlighted underlined URLs and just give you a pervading sentiment in these blogs I read.  People are shocked about the choices that the text votes seem to have produced.  After five (or is it now six? — I have lost count) seasons of American Idol, there are a few lessons to be learned from this popular choice selection employed through the technology of SMS.  Hold on to your seats because you will get more shocked as the days go.

I am no social scientist but I have my own experience with polling.  I am not speaking wearing that  hat, though.  I’m just a viewer, and just wanted to share with you the insights I have had on American Idol.  I don’t want to bore you with a long-winded discussion so let me be brief:

1.  The audience listens to the judges, no matter how much they boo Simon Cowell.  No matter how abrasive Cowell may seem, he knows what he is talking about.  And believe it or not, the ones he trashes usually get the boot. So is Ryan Cayabyab the Simon Cowell in that panel of judges?  One thing I know, he’s the one who knows the most about music between Mamita, Kiko and himself.

2.  This is a popularity contest, not a talent contest.  If we go behind the rationale of the competition, you are talking about the Philippine IDOL.  It’s not about the best Philippine singer.  It’s about the person who can embody what the Philippine Idol is.  Everyone, and I mean everyone — even those who didn’t make it to the top 12 after the initial screening were very talented.  To have survived the screening process speaks of their potential and their ability to sing.  But singing is not all that makes a star.  It takes packaging, appeal, and the so-called “IT” factor.  (Or as the models go, the “X” factor.)

3.  It’s not about who has the most money, it about who has the best appeal to get enough people to vote.  And the deciding factor here is not how many people you know, but how many you can move among the viewing public to actually text or dial their votes in your name.   My text votes here cost 10cents per vote but I do vote when I like a particular contender, but no more than 2 or 3 texts, and never for more than 6 of the pool of 10 or 12.  And think about everyone else who just watches but DO NOT vote.

4.  The winning IDOL is NOT always the best singer.  Fantasia Barrino over La Toya London…  Taylor Hicks over Chris Daughtry…  Carrie Underwood over Constantin Maroulis… Does this tell you something?  All top contenders are great singers in their own right, but there is something at play here.  It’s not just singing which is being judged — it’s one’s star quality.  And even after all the hoopla about surviving all the votes, you have to consider, not all IDOL winners became really big stars.  Except for Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken (no. 2 during his batch), the idol winners are more known for being winners, and not for being best selling recording artists.  They have a career, thanks to the IDOL machinery that ties them down to a contract once they make it to the magic 12 — but people think they would all be their own version of Kelly Clarkson by now.

5.  In the end, it is who appeals to the public the most who will win.  I am not trying to put April Boy Regino down but if you were to pit his record sales with say, Lani Misalucha, April Boy wins.  And yet we all know who the better singer is.  Yet you have to hand it to April Boy who has mass appeal, what with his knack for writing songs that hits the public by the heartstrings, and singing it in a plaintive and endearing manner.  And it will be April Boy’s fans who will take the time and effort to text or make that call, and Lani’s will just sit idly by secure in the thought that their idol is the best.

I was texting my brother Nikki earlier asking him about Philippine Idol.  He told me he missed me but he doesn’t watch the show. I told him to vote for Jan Kurt Nieto and he promised he will. End of story.

Finally taking the oath

I’m happy to read that the Court of Appeals is now allowing the passers of the infamous nursing licensure examinations of a few months back to finally take their oath.  (To go to the Philippine Star article, click here).   I felt sad for those who were affected, more so when the different sides started to weigh in on whether or not the results should be invalidated altogether, a retake be done, a recalculation, etc.  Having taken the Bar Exams myself, I know how terrifying an experience it can be, knowing that your future and the family name is on the line.  It becomes doubly heavy to know that people who knew you took the examinations are actually waiting to see what fate will befall you once the verdict is in.  What’s worse, this kind of scandal taints the whole batch and Philippine nurses in general in the eyes of the international community, and this is truly sad because we have such a good reputation overseas.  Filipino nurses here in the US are known to be very professional and yet caring.  

When I gave birth at the Tisch Medical Center of the New York University in 2004, the nurse who assisted my OB-Gynecologist (whom Alan calls Paula Abdul because she looks like her =) was a a very friendly Filipina nurse named Maria Elena.  She went by the monicker M.E.  That was really comforting considering besides assisting me, my Mom needed calming.  She hadn’t as yet witnessed a live birth ever, her own children having been born via C-section.  The anesthesiologist who was doing my epidural wanted to tie her to her chair because she kept pacing while he was trying to concentrate on putting in that needle, until he finally told her to sit down or leave the room.  (To his credit, he said it in a nice way, though.)  M.E. brought my mom to the cleaning table when Angel was being weighed and cleaned up, that is why the first hand my son held was my Mom’s.  She even called out to Alan who was holding the camera to take a picture, but in his confused state, I have none of Mom actually looking at the camera while holding the boy’s tiny hand.  (Men!)

The damage is done and those responsible must be made to pay, but the innocent should not be needlessly punished for pursuing their dream.  Congratulations to the passers of this year’s Nursing Board Examination..