Saturday, May 14, 2005

Motivational speakers and hoaxes

There were two very effective resource persons at the VOW seminar I attended. They have surely mastered the art of keeping each session alive. There was no time to get out a yawn as they interspersed every session with several activities that get everyone off their chairs. Motivation was the name of their game.

The seminar was mainly about motivating us government employees onward to greater heights of public service. A lot of their spiel were about the greatness of the Filipino.

All motivational speakers that I have heard always proclaim about why we should be proud of being Filipinos. Uggh! As if I am ashamed now of being one. I always maintain that I am not ashamed of the color of my skin. I do not feel the needto desert this piece of geography named the Philippines where chance brought together the confluence of genes from may paternal and maternal side giving rise to me.

Neither do I feel sad that my mitochondrial forbears thousands of years ago split off from those who originally arose in Africa and moved on to Asia instead of going to Europe. In coming to Asia and thence to the Philippines they acquired the genes that gave rise to my brown skin.

Many Filipinos wished their ancestors went to Europe and became whites. And there lies the tale of their miserable lives. All they can think of, if they are already in their thirties and gainfully employed, is to acquire a certificate in caregiving so they can go to Canada to babysit very old people whereas in the Philippines they would not even take care of their babies but leave them in the care of underpaid nannies.

Some are taking special education class so they can land Canadian jobs teaching mentally-challenged white kids when in fact they are sending their normal children to be taught at expensive schools. By the way, they soon find out that expensive teachers assign so many homework to their children and expect the parents to help do, in fact some do all, the homework.

I am digressing. Perhaps I need to work on this topic more.

So what do motivational speakers in the Philippine setting have in common? Most probably without realizing it they are purveying hoaxes in trying to convince the seminar participants about Filipino greatness.

Hoax number one is the Code of Kalantiaw. The Filipinos have an ancient code of public conduct which shows that we were civilized even before the coming of the Western colonizers. That one is supposed to make us proud. I told our speaker to please check with Ambeth Ocampo, my favorite history columnist of PDI.

The Philippines has plenty of vital minerals that can wipe off our foreign debt if properly exploited, goes the line of another spiel. This brings us to hoax number two - there is an inexhaustible supply of deuterium in the Philippine Deep. Deuterium is claimed to be a clean source of fuel for nuclear plants. If we can harvest this deuterium we can easily become an industrialized country. Columnist Antonio Abaya says there is even a firm in Quezon City selling shares to would-be investors in a deuterium processing plant. The hoax has given birth to a scam.

A Filipino has invented an engine that runs on water. Dingle is his name, right? Our speaker says this inventor was whisked off to a European vacation with his entire family by the Arabs for 10 years so he would not promote his invention and bankrupt OPEC. Here's one who is definitely not proud of being Filipino but who is touted by motivational speakers as one we can be proud of. Haha! This Dingle is now back in the country and palming off his "water engine" to every gullible person who'd listen. But he is still crying out that he's a victim of oil cartel conspiracy who would not like his invention to succeed. As if the Japanese, who do not have oil but need an alternative fuel for their auto industry, would pass up the opportunity of obtaining rights to his invention if it were feasible.

There is also this Agapito Flores of Bulacan, some sources claim he is from Bantayan, Cebu, who is supposed to have invented the flourescent lamp. I got a co-worker with the same family name and he is mighty proud of this fact. A simple search on Google shows he could be only four years old when the process was explained by scientists.

And how about a Quisumbing who invented the formulation for Quink - short for Quisumbing ink - and sold it to Parker. Most probably he was a Cebuano since there are many Quisumbings in Mandaue and the Quisumbing family owns Norkis Industries which assembles Yamaha motorcycles. I heard this one from my electronics teacher in 1976 yet. As a right thinking Cebuano I think it simply means quill ink because anciently people dipped quills in ink before the invention of the modern fountain pen. I hope nobody will claim that the fountain pen was invented by a Fontanosa, another Filipino.

Other names mentioned are real. But the speakers usually exagerrate their achievements.

Some speakers go a step further by playing on the audience's regionalistic pride. So when our speaker harped on the talents of Cebuanos, because the seminar was held in Cebu, I squirmed in my seat. Because aside from Lapulapu, I knew the speaker would then ennumerate the names of Cebuano singers. And I knew that at most there will only be four or five names. Thankfully, the seminar participants from the other regions were politely silent.

Sad to say, I found that my fellow participants have previous knowledge of these things and believed them to be true. Still I grant that these hoaxes and exagerrations do keep people awake at seminars.