Tag Archives: Education

Freedom of Information: A Privilege and Responsibility

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) co-founder and current Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Shiela Coronel told her audience: “twenty-five years ago, the term ‘investigative reporting’ was little-known in Asia. Today, journalists throughout Asia are using freedom-of-information laws, data analysis, social media, collaborative tools and the latest in digital technology. They are writing about corruption, human slavery, dirty money and environmental problems.”3

Throughout this time, we’ve been told that Asians value consensus over exposure. They’re wrong: Speaking truth to power is an Asian value”.3

It helps if the investigative reporter is a damned good writer and storyteller – suspenseful but not sensationalistic, and with a colorful style especially with a blockbuster whodunit. Coronel said that once journalists and citizens have had a taste of independence and freedom, it is hard to go back to the dark ages. She pointed out the immense changes in Asia in the past 20 years, among them toppled dictatorships and opening markets.3

In the aftermath of Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), Facebook became an important alternative form of communication and future emergency preparedness plans should include it. Posting a status update on Facebook was the quickest way to communicate.1

Faced with limited access, Facebook proved useful to many residents to update their relatives about their plight as we all as to ask for help. What happened during Yolanda demonstrated how media users quickly learn to adopt technologies to suit their peculiar needs during a communication network paralysis. Educating residents about the value of social media channels will make social media use during disasters more efficient.1

News exchange in Facebook is a classic example of democratization of information. Reports said that Facebook has changed the way users consume news such that searching has become highly personal and has cleared away third-party editorial judgment.2

As a social media, it makes us both the source and reciever of information. Lastly, it is the speed by which information is brought to our knowledge that gives social media an edge over other news media.2

It is the politics of ‘liking’ a particular Facebook post that somehow develops a culture of conformity, which is reinforced by cyberbullying. A lot of people have been shamed without being given the proper forum to explain themselves.2 I realized that the internet can be both a gold mine and a minefield”, says Coronel 3

Thus, the manner by which we express our disagreements over an issue paints a picture of our civility, and most importantly of how we accord respect to our neighbor. In a society with high-level of political tolerance, people do not impose their beliefs on others but seek to raise the quality of dialogue and peaceably live amid their differences. Hence, it is high-time to check not just our Facebook status but also out degree of respect toward each other.2

For decades, but especially since the EDSA ‘People Power Revolution’ restored the press freedom in the country. The Philippines has prided itself in having one of the freest, if not THE freest press in the region.4

Not everyone, ofcourse, welcomed the wild and wooly media environment that emerged with the Marcoses’ departure. As former president Fidel Ramos once declared, whenever he read the day’s papers, “some make me want to commit suicide, while others make me want to commit homicide”.4 And as he mentioned in his latest State of the Nation Address, P-Noy felt aggrieved by the almost daily slings and arrows of criticisms, leading him to wonder why he ever chose the path of public service. 4

The answer should be clear to him – and to us as well. P-Noy chose the difficult path of public service and leadership not just because of his own personal history but because he believes in democracy, as he declares again and again.4

For us Filipinos, the stalled Freedom-of-Information bill is still deterrent to good investigative reporting.3 And democracy relies in large part on freedom of the press, in freedom not just of journalists but also of the people to access all the information they deserve, the better to make the right decisions and choices when they need to.4

Teach the journalists in question some manners. Chide them for their boorishness.4 But passing the freedom-of-information bill is not only fundamental to what we proudly call a ‘free’ press but to a democratic nation as well.


1 The Philippine Daily Inquirer, ‘Disaster Preparedness Plan Must Include Social Media’. November 10, 2014. Edson Tandoc.
2 The Philippine Daily Inquirer, ‘Social Media Users Challenged: Be Respectful’. November 10, 2014. Esmeralda Abarabar.
3 The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Human Face. ‘Uncovering Asia Through Investigative Journalism’. Ma. Ceres P. Doyo.
4 The Philippine Daily Inquirer, At Large. ‘Journalists Behaving Badly’. Rina Jimenez-David.

Creating Better Physicians the St. Luke’s Way

Aside from being a practicing Neurologist and the Dean of St. Luke’s College of Medicine, Filipino physician Dr. Brigido L. Carandang, Jr. is a  game changer.

From his infamous curriculum overhaul to generous scholarship grants, Dean Carandang is breaking  new ground to develop not only excellent clinicians but a more compassionate set of doctors.

"Going beyond the classroom when it comes to learning and becoming caring and better doctors for their patients. This is my vision for the students of St. Luke's Medical." - Dean Carandang
“Going beyond the classroom when it comes to learning and becoming caring and better doctors for their patients. This is my vision for the students of St. Luke’s Medical.” – Dean Carandang

What makes this educator so controversial?

He is challenging the educational system. He wants to create more coffee shops in replacement of the usual classrooms. He is adamant in raising the standards of admission and challenges his students to go beyond getting the license.

However, the vision to get the best students comes with its challenges. The Dean encourages raising funds for these scholars. He wants the general populace to know that funding for someone else’s education is a cause worth pursuing, more so, if that same student is able to give back to their community. You want the best doctors? Start them young. Help fund and raise quality doctors.

The Dean introduces the infamous 'Harvey', a human prototype.
The Dean introduces the infamous ‘Harvey’, a human prototype.
Back in the lab, Miss Tolentino gets acquainted with a human head sliced in half.
Back in the lab, Miss Tolentino gets acquainted with a human head sliced in half.
Meet some of the permanent residents of the college.
Meet some of the permanent residents of the college.
Real human skulls for closer inspection and study by medical students
Real human skulls for closer inspection and study by medical students
Human Brains. Yes, they are real.
Human Brains. Yes, they are real.
A painting commissioned by the Dean which is hung in the student library features a young student taking a nap midst a number of books. I found it funny. Any idea why? ;-)
A painting commissioned by the Dean which is hung in the student library features a young student taking a nap midst a number of books. I found it funny. Any idea why? 😉


“The real game changer isn’t something external; it is internal. It is the way we think and grow. It is moving from that “fixed” mindset about teaching and learning, and moving to the “growth” mindset…Some learn better in isolation, while others excel in collaboration…We have to stop looking for standardized solutions to try and personalize learning.”

– George Couros

Under Dean Carandang’s leadership and tutelage, the ability to produce fantastic clinicians with a soul for the patient is possible with St. Luke’s College of Medicine. 

Nobody Tells Me What To Do

“Nobody tells me what to do.”

That has been my battle cry for a good number of years. Doing my own thing and going my own way has been my life.

In college, I had this very strict and “scary” professor. There were rumors that you wouldn’t even get into junior year if you didn’t go through her. The major populace of my all-girl class was scared of this teacher.

Not me. No one scared me. I always thought that the fears of my peers were unfounded. Silly, even. In my young, reckless and rebellious mind: Why would The Paula be intimidated by anyone?

(You can lower your eyebrow now. That’s it.  Thank you.)

The class I was in was tasked to create a paper related to mass communications (my major). This project took more or less than a month to do. Next was class presentation.

The big day was up. Before we started with presentation, this professor was not in the best mood. She was in a rage spree and taking it all on my classmates.

Long story short, she tore a month or more worth of paper work me and my classmates prepared. All for the silliest reasons: wrong font size, no folder, etc.

The mistake me and my partner made was that we punched the staple wire in the wrong section of the paper. She tore our paper in two and threw it in front of the class.

My friend was already crying while my professor ostracized us both in front of the class over staple wire. While this professor screamed her head off, and was scanning both our faces for emotion, I stared back at her, defiantly.

I was just staring straight at her: Her whole face, eyes, mouth and how it would feel like to have my right fist box her nose in.

I also began to think why all the terror tactic? Were all these messy emotions necessary for effective teaching?

Or better yet: Why is screaming, cussing and outbursts of anger so highly valued in this society to make one feel and look competent or intelligent? (But more of this topic on a later issue).

Months after that incident, that same professor was telling some senior girls (I can’t remember the exact words but it goes something like…) “That student scared me…”

I felt triumph inside. I scared my terror professor without uttering a single word.

Of course, I passed her class and eventually graduated. But later did I know that there were worse people like her I’ll be meeting at work.

As years went by, I realized that maybe that experience was trying to teach me something. My reckless and defiant spirit had to learn a little bit of humility.

Remember my drink concern? Well, right now the people I am attending sessions with are having a hard time with me, simply because I have a slight problem with authority.

The facilitators in my group are gentle but tough. They expect me to do the exercises, and come on time.

“Nobody tells me what to do. Nobody tells me what to do. Nobody tells me what to do. Nobody tells me what to do…”
goes my brain…

Last week, I came in late, didn’t do my homework and dozed off the rest of the lecture. I like the singing though. I thought it was quite nice. But other than that, I felt like I wasted my time.

When I told my friend I was loosing all interest in the program, she said they were being tough on me for a reason. They have encountered stubborn and strong-willed people like me who are used to getting their own way or receiving special treatment, which is why they need to be tough so that people like me may straighten up, listen, be pro-active in our own recoveries and become well-rounded individuals.

I truly admire their dedication and patience with me but if the scare tactic won’t work on me, I don’t know what will. But this is what I do know: I am a person who fits the bill of EGR (extra grace required).

How about you? Do you also need extra grace?

Financially Literacy is Peace of Mind

Financial literacy, unfortunately, is not taught in schools. Unless you took up financial management as a course or grew up with it, then probably you would have an idea of what I’m talking about. Other than that, we are left with the financial examples of our family and friends. And to add to this glaring lack, consumerism and materialism are continuously shoved down our throats every moment of the day making financial literacy a dying age.

With consumerism and materialism, there is this need to keep up with the Joneses. Then before you know it, putting on a fake life follows. But more of that topic on a later issue. Going back…

I am just fortunate that I have learned the value of money early on and what it represents. I have learned that money is only a resource and I want to make sure that I am able to fully utilize this resource for things/experiences/activities that are worthwhile and bring genuine happiness both for me and the people that are important in my life.

I have fully embraced the concept of living below my means. This minimalist approach has been going on for quite a few years now and for the first time in my young adult life have I been able to experience peace both for my finances and future.

On a personal note as well, I have never had this inclination for jealousy or envy most especially when it comes to material things. I was not raised with that kind of mind set. I come from a working class background, and my family always minded our own business. This is why the topic of comparisons was never brought up because everyone mostly, was busy working, doing or creating!

Why the emphasis on financial literacy? It’s because financial literacy is the path to peace of mind. As most of you know, a person who knows how to handle, invest and share their money is set for life.

Financial literacy also means having a budget. Here are the top reasons why a budget is necessary:

Budgets mean you have a plan — a budget frees us to tell our money what to do each month. I have a plan for every peso that I earn. I have lots of dreams for the future and know I will achieve them because I have a plan.

Budgets mean having peace — nothing is more important to me but having peace of mind. Things will happen outside of my budget: family members getting sick, retrenchment, etc. A budget takes the emergency out of these situations. It brings peace into the financial inconveniences of life.

Budgets will change your future — without a plan, you will wander aimlessly. There is this couple I know that is buried deep in debt but refuse to acknowledge their situation, even living above their means, essentially putting on a fake life with it. And you know what they say about marriage, money and debt, right?

Without a budget, couples (and single people) will spend aimlessly with nothing to show for their efforts. A budget puts effort behind dreams.

Budgets help you stay on the same page with your loved ones — I know how much money I have, where it needs to be spent, and what my financial goals are because everything is in black and white. If it’s not in the budget, it doesn’t get spent. If I want to spend money on something, I need to make the necessary financial adjustments and add it to the budget.

Aside from the above, my personal reasons for sticking to my budget and living my lifestyle are:

1.) It allows me to share and give generously
2.) It allows me to spend on quality items (food, clothes, etc.)
3.) It helps me save for my future
4.) I am more in control of my money

Running a tight ship, I call my financial life, has never been more rewarding.

How about you? Are we on the same page, here?