This is the first and only draft of this article, so please forgive any typos and punctuation errors...
As I have posted in a previous entry, ABS-CBN's drama-documentary show featured a glimpse of the "Coconuter" story. Following the airing of the story nation-wide and all over the world, it brought about a significant increase in site traffic. Although I was not paid for the feature, I am thankful that ABS-CBN's Nagmamahal Kapamilya had the courage and follow-through to shoot and air the feature. In addition to the increase in site traffic was also a significant increase in e-mails and entry comments. Reading all these messages (and I do read them all), I noticed the different types of people who had written to me.
The majority of people who e-mailed or commented mentioned that they have been inspired in some way or another, and I am quite happy to hear that I have affected a number of lives in a positive manner. And there are those who say I am crazy, while other claim that I am a fool. Some of them don't know what to think of the subject and are a little confused and also incredulous. And then there are some that make sharp criticisms and biting statements towards me, thinking they understand it all.
There exists a number of people in the world and quite particularly here in the Philippines that tend to act negatively or degradingly in response to an awareness or witnessing that someone else has accomplished or attained something of value. The bad feelings that one harbors because someone else has something that is of value to them that they themself were unable to obtain or because someone has figuratively climbed higher up the social ladder, is simply known as jealousy. Jealousy, in turn, can build into something more destructive in some people when they react degradingly towards the object of their jealousy. This negative reaction can be stated, in other words, as people who try to bring you down. It is also known as crab mentality. The metaphor "crab mentality" refers to "a pot of crabs in which one tries to escape over the side, but is relentlessly pulled down by the others in the pot," and can best be described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither can you." Essentially, due to their jealousy, these people would like to bring you back down to their level or even lower, if possible. Of the criticisms, the recurring ones include the following: that I am poisoning the minds of people, that I'm a fake, that I'm a scammer, and that I'm irresponsible, selfish, and immature.
Some say that I am poisoning the minds of the people, particularly the youth. Poisoning minds was never one of my goals in life, and I don't think it ever will be. And if what I write is poison, please, stop reading. This applies also to anyone who has a problem with me or my material--just stop reading the blog. And please, don't waste time writing me hate mail.
There are also some who have doubts about my identity and the credibility of my stated background (like the resume). Well, if the research and background investigation that ABS-CBN, GMA-7, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer performed verifying records from the U.S. was not enough, then that's unfortunate for such skeptics. However, it is ironic that these same people who doubt my identity and credibility remain anonymous or provide a false identity when messaging me despite for my request for their real name.
Another accusation, that has particularly been circulating in online forums, is that I am a scammer. If I'm a scammer, then churches, priests, and politicians must be also. I have never swindled anyone, and I have never had any intent of fooling and stealing from people. If the "Make a Donation" button by PayPal is what you call a scamming technique, then good luck in suing PayPal and swaying the countless of other website owners who have that same "Make a Donation" PayPal button into taking theirs off. If the posting of my Metrobank account number is appalling, then please note that I posted that for all the Filipinos who have been requesting a bank account number from me because of their inability to use PayPal. If the fact that I've posted a way to donate to me is what's upsetting you, then please don't view it as donation but as funding for the survival of the Coconuter site. View it as funding for the time and effort spent on the articles, photography, travel, e-mails/questions/requests, and management of the site. And if you're jealous of what I may be receiving, don't be, as only few people have donated after the Nagmamahal Kapamilya airing. Most people either pretend to donate or make promises of helping but are actually just exhibiting hypocrisy as they never follow through.
Everyone has the freedom to donate/fund the Coconuter site or not, just as you do for donations/funding given to the church, priests, and politicians. But if you choose to donate or fund, please label it. Label whether it is a gift, support for the site, a trade, or a business transaction. I say this because I will be discussing ways later in the article on how the "Coconuter" site can progress via business ventures and utilization of my skills. I also mention this labelling of funds because of something called "utang na loob" (literally, debt of the inside) or debt of gratitude. If you label the funds, then the possible misinterpretation of what the funding is for can be avoided. This way, I will know what funding received requires something in return, and I can decide whether to accept or refuse. I say this because it is difficult to deal with after-the-fact if someone provides funding that is not labelled and requires something in return in the future. It's like placing an "utang na loob" on me that I was not even aware of to begin with. It is better to state beforehand the details of a transaction so both parties are aware and can have the opportunity to decide whether to accept or reject. Thus, an undefined "utang na loob" can be avoided. This can also be extended into another undesirable situation. Do not provide me with unlabelled funding or even "gifts" if you plan to have a business transaction in the future. Even if obliged to disregard the "gifts," it can still create a potential "utang na loob." Providing "gifts" can also skew the playing field. A "gift" can cause a potential "humbling and refraining" effect on the recipient, which places limitations on the recipient from the unequal status levels, and thus creating a poorly performing business environment.
Speaking of jealous people making degrading and defaming statements and criticisms, I recently read an article online with just that towards the Filipino boxing champion, Manny Pacqiuao. The article basically referred to Manny Pacquiao as a "monkey" that the "idiot-branded" Filipinos worship for fighting in a no-good sport because it only involves "pure savagery." I just wanted to share this as another example of crab mentality and jealousy in action as the object of jealousy is degraded and defamed in an attempt to bring down that object of jealousy.
I am glad I was not brought up this way. I would like to thank my parents for that, for their genes and actual upbringing. I was taught to have good morals, be respectful, and humble, among other things that make up a decent character. I don't degrade and defame. I may address the truth about certain trends or events that I have discontent towards, but I will not specifically put down someone in particular. As I said, genes and parents' upbringing have a lot to do with one's character and behavior. Apart from that, the environment in which the child was brought up also has an influence on the resulting character. I've observed the environment's influence when I taught children in the U.S., including Filipino children. I noticed that Filipino children who were brought up during their younger years in the Philippines form a more decent character and disciplined behavior later on in life.
It was a great victory, by the way, for Manny and the Philippines. Not to take away from Manny's victory (which I was happy for), I did feel some sympathy for Erik Morales though as I know he trained hard as well. But even more awesome than the fight was the phenomenon it created for the Philippines nationwide and for Filipinos all around the world where daily life was put on pause just to watch the fight. And Manny seems to be a good guy. I smiled when I saw him on television saying that he prays for everyone before a fight, including Morales. I believe Manny and Morales even had dinner together after the fight as well.
Going back to criticisms towards me, some also say that I am lazy, a leech, and a burdent to society. But before addressing these, I wouldl ike to talk about welfare recipients and "stand-bys." Welfare in the U.S. was meant to be a subsidy for those handicapped in some manner and are physically unable to perform work. Unfortunately today, it seems that the system is being abused. Foodstamps and other welfare subsidies are being assigned to many who are very capable of performing work. This particular example is what I call as laziness, or a leech or burden to society. "Stand-bys" in the Philippines, on the other hand, area different story. My personal opinion is that "stand-bys" are not necessarily lazy nor are they necessarily jobless because of a lack of jobs. For the most part, in economic terms, I think they choose to be jobless and sustain on their own not because of a lack of jobs but because of a lack of sufficiently paying jobs that satisfies their personal opportunity cost. In other words, giving up time or another resource to perform such low paying jobs is a cost that is too high. There are plenty of jobs available all around the Filipinos, they're just not necessarily the jobs that satisfy their opportunity cost. I see nothing wrong with this as it is an efficiency issue and these "stand-bys" have their own freedom of choice. They may go abroad to meet their opportunity cost level or stay in the Philippines and self-sustain while waiting for the job they would prefer. This "stand-by" situation is similar to mine. I am not leeching off of society as in the welfare system situation in the U.S. I am also not lazy. I have no problem in performing tasks of physical labor. What is valued more than something else will vary among people and countries when decisions are made about how to allocate resources. And these resources of worth can vary among us, whether it'd be time, our health, our effort and energy, etc. Each of us have our own capacities of physical and mental stress, opportunity cost level, preference of what work we can efficiently perform, and freedom of choice. Thus far, I feel a passion towards the scope and focus of the "Coconuter" site, which is why I would like to continue putting work into it regardless if it gets ample funding or not. However, certain factors may affect this progression, which I will elaborate on further later in this article.
Moreover, reagarding readers' comments (but this time praise instead of criticism), some have pointed out that they see some similiarties with Henry David Thoreau's "Walden," Jose Riza's "Noli Me Tangere," and Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," which are about (but not completely about) simple living & critique of the modern civilization, independence and identity, and existentialism, respectively. Some have even compared the journey to Buddha's. I just wanted to say thank you for the comparisons and that I am quite flattered.
I also would like to say that despite the Filipino flavor of the site, I would like to take the focus of the "Coconuter" blog internationally. I believe it has universal meaning and can apply to anyone worldwide. Therefore, more international exposure (and also more national exposure here) will be an additional goal of mine if anyone would like to help out. Acts like mention of the site through e-mails, forums, chat, sites, blogs, shirts, signs, magazines, school/college journals, newspapers, and other media really help.
With that said, I would like to briefly address the issue in the Middle East. I read a few weeks ago that Saddam Hussein was convicted of crimes against humanity by the Iraqi Special Tribunal and was sentenced to death by hanging. Well, let me think about how I can comment logically about this. From my knowledge, I note that Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq and ran an authoritarian government for almost two and a half decades. He "repressed movements that it deemed threatening, particularly those of ethnic or religious groups that sought independence or autonomy." I do believe the same is being done in Mindanao towards "threatening groups seeking independence autonomy." And then there was Hussein's order for execution of 148 people because of their attempt to kill him. There was the Gulf War, where he was popular among Arabs and not so much with Israel and the U.S. I am aware that the reason for this division in the Arab world was for Hussein's proposal to withdraw from Kuwait should Israel give back part of their occupied land to Palestine. This brought highlight on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Hussein was stubborn and did not follow what former President George Bush Sr. ordered, so former President Bush Sr. sent in the missiles. Then the 9/11 attacks occurred, which brought more conflict in the Middle East and provided more incentive for U.S. to get involved in the area. With intelligence reports of WMD's (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq, President Bush Jr. used this as reason to invade Iraq. That and possibly also because Hussein was hard-nosed to his father during the Gulf War, which maybe the actual initial incentive and the intelligence reports as reason for Congress and the American populace to agree. Which, may have been quite easy to do during that time because statistics reveal a significant amount of Jews in Congress and American media. After the fact, President Bush Jr. was proved wrong and no WMD's were found in Iraq. So this essentially means that the U.S. invaded, disrupted, and basically shattered a nation because of imaginary WMD's (but of course it's ok if the U.S. mass produces such WMD's and no one complains). Hussein was captured and was put on trial for the killings of 148 people because of their attempt to kill him, because they can no longer put him on trial for WMD's. They (the Iraqi Special Tribunal, which is heavily influenced by the U.S.) sentenced him to death. What future effect will this have in the Middle East, with Saddam Hussein being viewed as a hero to anti-U.S. Arab nations? Probably not a good effect. Is it ok for a country (the U.S.) to invade another country based on a whim or the justification that the U.S. used? And they were wrong, why are there no repercussions for the destruction they caused? Onto the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It's basically a "who was first" issue. Well, based on historical records, the first recordings show Palestinians as being first in the land that is known as Israel today. But with a whole lot of antisemitism (expelling Jews) going on throughout the world (I wonder why Jews have always been expelled all throughout history... no, I really do wonder... it's interesting), the Jews migrated to what is now known as Israel. To shorten the story, with the help of the U.S., Israel basically took all of Palestine's land away from them and still have no intention of giving any back. Apparently, they don't want to co-exist. Well, this "who was first" issue has been around for a very long time. Europeans taking of America from the Native Indians is a prime example. And there's no talk of giving back the U.S. to the Indians. Perhaps Israel will create reservations for Palestinians, since they seem to follow the U.S. quite well. If you really get down to it, I'm sure there was a group of people before the Native Indians, and also a group of people before the Palestinians. But then again, there was enough land to go around for everyone back then. While today, with the ever-increasing human population, it seems that the fight for land is inevitable in order to not be driven out. So, I really don't know. I'm not a part of the United Nations Council, but perhaps, based on my knowledge and logic, the best and most feasible resolution would be for Palestinians and Israelis to make an even split of the modern day land of Isreal. But how is this possible with the significant presence of Jews in the U.S. Congress and media, and the U.S. dominating influence in the United Nations' decisions. But peace should always be sought, and the Earth is everyone's land and everyone has the right to exist on this planet.
So what will be the fate of "Coconuter?" I am torn between my responsibilities as a son, a father, and a husband. The "Coconuter" objective cannot continue with this problem. I hope and dream that a solution can be found to make everyone happy. They say money cannot solve everything, but in this case, it can help quite a lot if not solve the problem entirely. There is a saying I'm sure you all have heard, "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." With that said, I would like to offer and utilize my skills and talents for making a profit. The fate of "Coconuter" is on the line. My time is running out.
Monday, November 20, 2006
This is the first and only draft of this article, so please forgive any typos and punctuation errors...