Monthly Archives: March 2013

Oz and Autism

I’ve written a couple of philosophically based posts now, and one on psychology, and God knows how many about Oz, so it’s quite a surprise I have yet to write about my one true passion, my advocacy for persons with autism. Well, I have my reasons: first, I’m scared I won’t do it justice. After all, I’m not particularly close with any person with autism. I know a lot of them, but not to the extent that I’d truly understand them enough to speak for them; Second, autism seems too wide a subject. And as I’ve been following a lot of autism-blogs with their specific posts, I wouldn’t know what to add anymore. Third, well, it was our thesis. I’ve written about it for a whole academic year, so writing a blog post about it didn’t seem so appealing.

So after spending three days on my last evaluation seminar in my dear organization, the Ateneo Special Education Society, I realized that I did have an avenue to discuss it. I realized that this is what project miserably wicked was all about. While that project didn’t turn out very well, a look back at why I wrote it in the first place helped me see the connections. So here goes, Oz and Autism. Even if you’re not a fan, do take time to read it, I’ll try to make it understandable.

I’m 99% certain that neither Gregory Maguire (Wicked Years author) nor Stephen Schwartz (Wicked composer) were autism advocates, but they’ve created such a relevant story in Wicked for the advocacy! Oz, a land of diversity, had all sorts of creatures, among them the Animals. These Animals were different from animals in the sense that they had human intellect, and different from humans in the sense that they looked like animals. Now before anyone gets offended, do understand that these Animals are more human than anything else, and if they did really exist in the real world, they should be treated as humans too. That’s Elphaba’s advocacy. Case in point, Dr. Dillamond, a professor in Shiz University in Oz. He teaches history, and he’s as good as any other teacher out there (except for the fact that he can’t pronounce Galinda’s name right). He was one of the last few Animals left that stood for his right to speak.

Dr. Dillamond

Dr. Dillamond

You may be starting to get the picture now. Good job. Animals in the Oz world are like persons with autism in this world. They’re really no different. Their mannerisms and whatnot may be different, but their capabilities certainly aren’t. However, certain people like the Wizard and Madam Morrible (the antagonist) think that the Animals are lower beings, that they did not deserve the same treatment as human beings. What’s sad is that these people are quite influential, so they have followers who end up believing the same thing. And when advocates like Elphaba stand in their way, well, pop goes the green witch.

Elphaba is the passionate advocate. She really tries to understand the Animals’ plight and wants to take action for them. Screw bureaucracy, screw structures and politics. Elphaba just wants what’s fair for the Animals, and she believes that this shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place if only the leaders, influential people, and media would recognize them. In the real world’s case, media plays the role of Glinda. While it is admirable how NGOs and even some government officials do recognize and fight for PWAs, they might not be influential enough, especially here in the Philippines. Here, media is the most influential thing. Whatever people see on TV or in the movies, they emulate. This is a sad fact because honestly, Philippine showbiz needs a lot of work, as can be seen in the controversial series, Budoy, which gave Angelman syndrome a bad and unrealistic image. I’m sure they meant well with this series, as does Glinda most of the time, but they end up being more selfish than anything else. They care more for their own public image and ratings than for the advocacy itself, which affects the way they do show their “advocacy” (if you could call it that).

"Popular, you're gonna be popular"

“Popular, you’re gonna be popular”

The Wizard is even worse. He represents the hypocritical bullies. He pretends to help out but his actions are actually discriminatory. I didn’t know such hypocritical bullies existed until I got deeper into the autism community this year. It’s sad that such large scale organizations exist and are being considered “wonderful” by many, even by advocates. His act of silencing the Animals is similar to how some of these organizations try to “prevent” autism, like it’s such a bad thing. Some of the things they promote are prevention before birth and overstimulating so that they can be “cured”. It’s a selfish outlook in the sense that they’re acting to make the PWAs fit into our world, when we should be the ones adjusting for them. Why should they be forced to live like us? They’re different, not less. So they have the right to stay the way they are.

Obviously, I’m a biased because I love Elphaba, but her principles do match mine. Persons with autism should never have the problem of struggling to fit in with us, with what society and the masses want. They shouldn’t have to undergo overstimulation because it just hurts them. They deserve full acceptance and they deserve their own rights. True, we can’t all be passionate advocates like Elphaba, but at least let’s be fully accepting of them and not treat them like they’re beneath us.

So there you go, that’s my Oz-take on the world of autism. And hey, if you want to read our thesis, do PM me. It’s about the narratives of adolescents with autism in the Philippines. Or you could follow these awesome organizations on twitter: https://twitter.com/autismphils and https://twitter.com/AteneoSPEED Thanks for reading, and munch on!

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The Five People You Meet in Blue Roast

Non-Ateneans, I apologize. I’m a bit too lazy to describe Blue Roast, so here’s one person’s description of it: Blue Roast. Long story short, it’s a senior event where you give a blue rose to someone, or at least, that’s the highlight of the event.

Image

blue rose origamis

While I do agree with the description given in the link above, it is also my opinion that the blue rose shouldn’t be caged to the “unrequited love”. You can have your own reasons for giving the blue rose to someone, as long as that someone holds a special place in your heart.

So here’s the thing: The five people you meet in blue roast are the five possible blue rose recipients. Maybe this’ll help the future seniors and superseniors decide whom to give it to, or maybe it’ll just be a good nostalgia trip for the alumni. Either way, I’ll try to encapsulate the feelings of each here. Let’s begin, shall we?

*note: gender pronouns are interchangeable, obviously.

1. The BFF

Couldn't resist putting a personal pic. Ladies and gents, my best friend.

Couldn’t resist putting a personal pic. Ladies and gents, my best friend.

He’s always been there for you, through the laughters and through the tears; your cliché BFF. You have to constantly keep telling people that you’re not a couple, that it’s purely platonic no matter what it looks like. You’re comfortable around him all the time, never afraid to share your foiled romantic escapades or your long list of happy crushes. He’s your wingman and you’re his, except on those occasions where one of you greatly disapproves of the other’s choice, nevertheless you respect that choice and pray the other sees the light and finally moves on.

Why you SHOULD give it to him: Well, duh! He’s your best friend! He’s probably seen all sides of your personality, and he has loved (or tolerated) all of them. He’s your go-to guy. You cannot imagine going through college without him. He definitely falls under the category of “special”.

Why you SHOULDN’T give it to him: If you’re that close, surely you’ll be seeing a lot of each other after graduation, so why not give it to someone you won’t see much of anymore? Maybe you even have a deal with BFF that you won’t give it to each other because you’ll help him give it to that romantic special someone. The BFF is definitely a good choice, but it’s also an obvious choice. There are other ways to show your appreciation to dear BFF anyway.

2. the shallow/happy crush

the one that makes you stare dreamily

the one that makes you stare dreamily

Yep, that’s the one. Whether it be the simple but beautiful girl-next-door type, the chinky-eyed cheerful one, the exotic and fashionable one, the passionate and talented one, or simply the seatmate. This is the person who inspires you to go to that really boring class. You don’t know her well (or at all, for some cases), but you’ve always admired her, and she has all your ideal characteristics. When she’s not doing some cute quirk like doodling in her notebook or playing with her hair, she’d catch you staring and you’d quickly look away at some other person, hoping she’d think you were just bored. Call it shallow, but she makes you happy even without doing anything, and that’s something.

Why you SHOULD give it to her: It’s finally time to ‘fess up and tell her you’ve had a crush on her. Nothing to lose, it’s the perfect event! It’s a great way to make her feel appreciated, and to show her that somehow, she makes a difference by simply being her. Too philosophical? Well, there’s always the “I have no-one else to give it to, so it might as well be her.”

Why you SHOULDN’T give it to her: Simply put, it’s shallow. You don’t even know her, not well enough at least. And besides, if your type of happy crush is the typical kind, you’re gonna have to wait in line, a very long line. And when you finally get there, she’s just going to smile at you and say thank you like she did with the rest of them (not that that’s not worth it, because maybe it is).

3. the superstar

Olivia Olson, who played Joanna in Love Actually

Olivia Olson, who played Joanna in Love Actually (a must watch)

You’ve watched all her performances, probably stalked her online, saved all of her modeling pictures to your secret folder, and listened to all her covers. Yeah, you and the rest of the student body. She’s the superstar, the celebrity student, the face of a lot of promotional posters, and you are unfortunately a little bit obsessed with her. Just a little bit. Who can blame you? She is all sorts of perfect.

Why you SHOULD give it to her: Similar to the shallow/happy crush, it’s a great way to finally ‘fess up and tell her. Your once in a lifetime chance to actually interact with her, instead of just drooling over her in your seat as she performs on stage. She’s perfect, so why shouldn’t she be the perfect recipient for your blue rose?

Why you SHOULDN’T give it to her: Oh, another addition to her bouquet? Lovely. Of course she’s going to get tons of blue roses, and yours is just going to be a part of a giant set of blue roses. Heck, she can make a garden out of them already. It’s great to give it to a superstar, but maybe it isn’t so special.

4. the unrequited/bitter love

Charlie Brown and peanut butter <3

Charlie Brown and peanut butter ❤

Hello and welcome to the friendzone! Is this your first time here? I can give you a full-on tour. Over here we have your heart, broken and beaten, crushed to bits, and left to rot in a corner. Yes, such is the story of the unrequited love. No matter how much you try, you never seem to get out of the friendzone with her. And many times, you decide that it’s time to move on because it’ll never happen. You do try countless times with countless ways, but it always comes back. She’s always been nice to you, and once you start falling for her, well, there goes your relationship. Down the drain.

Why you SHOULD give it to her: This is honestly the most complicated one, which makes it all the more special. If you haven’t told her yet, what else could be more perfect than this to do so? If you already told her, one way or another, this could either be a “so, do I really have to be stuck in friendzone?” blue rose or a “here are all my feelings, let’s try to be friends again” blue rose. I think the latter is great, but it’ll take a lot of effort, and time, don’t forget time. But this is the original meaning of the blue rose, unrequited love, something you wish to attain but know you never will.

Why you SHOULDN’T give it to her: As if you guys weren’t awkward enough. Sheesh. Maybe sometimes it’s best to just stay in the friendzone. Confessing your feelings can make you so awkward that you’d lose everything. If you’re fine where you are, then don’t complicate things anymore. Just hope that the feeling will simply go away (which is extremely difficult, by the way).

5. the first love

first love <3

first love ❤

She was the first one to make your heart melt. She inspired you to do a lot of things. The thoughts of her caused you a lot of sleepless nights. You treat her like a princess without even meaning to. You stare at her differently, more deeply. You start to feel like doing a lot of crazy things like throwing rocks at her window at night and holding a radio on your shoulder, and then you feel stupid about thinking those thoughts. “What the heck is wrong with me?” Well, that, my friend, is your first love. Whether you became a couple or not, this one will always be special.

Why you SHOULD give it to her: For old times’ sake and for gratitude. The cheesy line “you taught me how to love” is a classic. This person has turned your world upside down. She’s also an obvious choice for the blue rose.

Why you SHOULDN’T give it to her: If you ended bitterly and haven’t moved on, DON’T give it to her, definitely. As another cheesy line says, “the first cut is the deepest” and you might end up just hurting yourself when you face her and awkwardly hand over that emotionally-filled blue rose.

Of course, there are other candidates for blue rose recipients such as your current boyfriend/girlfriend, a professor whom you extremely admire, a well-deserving friend, or (this one I personally, really don’t understand) yourself. It’s up to you. But a word of advice, make sure you don’t regret it. Make sure it’s special. Trust me, it’ll feel REALLY great afterwards.

Happy graduation, batch 2013!

Munch on!

Four Shades of Green, a Tribute to the Wicked Witch of the West

Oz The Great and Powerful, Wicked the musical, Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and of course the classic film The Wizard of Oz; those are the ways I got to know my all-time favorite character, the wicked witch of the west. She goes by many names, too many for my taste, actually and not all of whom I’ve met already: Bastinda (the Wizard of the Emerald City), Evillene (the Wiz), Momba (the Wonderful Wizard of Oz), the recent Theodora (Oz the Great and Powerful), and my personal favorite Elphaba (Wicked).

So far, I only know four interpretations of the wicked witch of the west from those mentioned in the first sentence. If you haven’t watched/read any of those, this will be a major spoiler post. This post will be a sort of tribute to the wicked witch of the west, trying to understand the characters that have been portrayed of her, those I know of, at least. Well, best start with the classic film I suppose. She’s the easiest, actually, because she’s your typical stereotype witch: green skin, ugly face, rides on a broomstick, and just plain evil.

Brief history lesson: there are many stories about the origin of the stereotype witch, but unfortunately I am not privileged in both time and resources to truly research on them, but here’s the one I find interesting. Back in the medieval era, specifically in the 15th century, the church started the trend of witchhunting. This is also the time when the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the Witches) was written. Some believe that the torture of the witches during the witchhunt, the beating up, burning, and all the other whatnot, caused the bruised shade of green and the ugly deformed face. The broomstick is a bit weirder. Pagan fertility rituals were apparently done with long slender objects such as pitchforks, poles, and yes, broomsticks. Another more obscene origin which I don’t want to discuss really is the witches-ride-broomsticks origin. *ehem* Anyway, so there you go, stereotype wicked witch of the west, although I don’t think she does that witches-ride-broomsticks thing… She is what she is, a wicked witch.

On to our next witch, Theodora. First of all, can I just say, HOW DARE THEY TURN THE LOVELY BEAUTIFUL HEAVENLY GODDESS, MILA KUNIS, INTO AN UGLY HOOKED NOSE STEREOTYPE WITCH??? *sigh* ok, now that that’s out, let’s discuss Theodora. Complicated little girl with a quick temper, sort of similar to my dear Elphie, but not quite. I personally despise the idea that she fell in love with the wizard and only got over it by going all Snow White and biting a cursed apple, again, turning her into a stereotype one-dimensional witch. I’m not so sure what they plan to do with the sequel of Oz the Great and Powerful (yes, Mila Kunis has already stated that there will be a sequel), but based on this one, Theodora is simple; plain simple evil witch. Also, the burning tears, really? REALLY??? I know great powers have greater burdens, but that one was just too much. As if the emotional pain wasn’t enough to destroy nice little naive Theodora, they had to make her hurt physically too. Where’s the struggle in that? Of course I’d bite into an enticing green apple that will take away all my pains after going through THAT. Too simple, this Theodora. (but yeah, Mila Kunis did a wonderful job of portraying this simple witch)

Theodora, before she became ugly and evil :|

Theodora, before she became ugly and evil 😐

Sorry, I’m a bit passionate when it comes the Theodora. So let’s move on to Elphie, shall we? Disclaimer, I am still only on chapter two of Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (honestly, this title is too long), so I can’t say much about THAT Elphaba. But based on what I read so far, here’s my two cents worth: complicated and multi-dimensional, but still too “planned”. I mean seriously, she bit off human fingers as an infant. She had a whore of a mother (much more whore-ish than in the musical) and a silly preacher father (Frex, I mean, not the wizard). I found it surprising that she actually became friends with Boq here, and I have yet to know what exactly will happen to that friendship, but wow, she actually became friends with the supposed (I am basing this on the musical) munchkin who falls for Galinda but is being pursued by Elphie’s own sister, Nessarose. Wow, as if that wasn’t complicated enough. So yes, fate again turns this green girl into a monster, an evil witch, or at least, that’s where it’s going. Don’t get me wrong, I do love this Elphaba with her witty banters and passionate intellectual personality. But nothing beats this next one, of course.

Elphaba from Wicked the Musical, my all-time favorite, time to shine! Why do I love Elphie so much? The struggle to be good, or to be wicked, is a whole lot more apparent with her. There were no burning tears or sharp infant teeth to actually foretell wickedness within her. She was just a girl with green skin and extraordinary powers, that’s all. She did not bite off a cursed apple to “take away her heart” and make her pure evil. Most of all, she seemed like she felt the most; not in the naive falling-in-love-with-the-first-man-who-asked-me-to-dance kind of feeling like Theodora, but real feelings, of being rejected, of friendship, of passion, of excitement, of betrayal, of love, and of “defying gravity“. To put it simply, she seemed, out of all the wicked witch of the west portrayals, to be the most realistically human. From my point of view, we humans are somewhat like Elphie from the musical. We are born green, something bad about us that we didn’t choose but not necessarily harmful, just out of the norm. We are also born with powers, powers that we sometimes doubt and maybe hide in shame or something, “Have I actually understood that this weird quirk I’ve tried to suppress or hide is a talent that could help me meet the wizard?“. With these two, greenness and powers, we struggle through life, trying to do what we believe is right. We loathe, we befriend, we hate, we love, and we grow. We continually support our family members no matter what. We encounter moments of wickedness within us, those “no good deed goes unpunished” moments when we just choose to do the wrong thing because doing the right thing never did us any good. All we really want is to feel accepted, loved, appreciated, and of course, we want justice. That’s Elphaba from the musical. Human.

Well, now that we’ve gone through all the witches of the west, I’d like to do a short write-up on a few other characters. The Wizard. James Franco is definitely the most charming one, but there’s just something about the Wizard being young and handsome (and flirting with Galinda, Theodora, and all the other women actually) that seems a bit off. I have yet to meet Gregory Maguire’s Wizard from the Wicked book, but the one from Wicked the musical seems a bit too… plastic. I mean, really? All he ever wanted was a family? A child? He went through all that scheming, all that “Wonderful, they call me wonderful“, and then just gives it all up because he finds out that Elphaba is actually his daughter? I don’t (and would never) actually understand paternal feelings, but I do understand selfish personalities and tendencies, and I know that THOSE are pretty strong. So I am not so keen on the idea that he simply just flew off in a balloon once again after discovering Elphaba’s true relation to him. I’m certain that’s not what a selfish egotistical person would do. I’m not certain what a father would do, but if I were to put myself in his shoes, running away would not be my plan of action.

Oz, the Wizard (yes, Mila Kunis has to be there)

Oz, the Wizard (yes, Mila Kunis has to be there)

Galinda the Good, the Witch of the South (and North, for some portrayals), your turn. Well, I haven’t much to say about her actually. She’s always been portrayed simply as good. I hate it, of course. Sure, Galinda from the musical wasn’t exactly all that good to begin with, but in the end, it led to that, simply good. Honestly, the Galinda that annoyed me the most was the one from Oz the Great and Powerful. I don’t remember much about the Galinda in the original film, not much to remember there, so not much to be annoyed about. Galinda from the most recent film, however, was just plain peachy, believing in the selfish egotistical wizard and all that crap. That’s the problem with Disney movies actually, not that I don’t love Disney, there’s too much trust everywhere. Galinda is the perfect example. Pure naive unrealistic trust that just so happens to be right (very unrealistic, this one). Now Galinda from the musical, at least there’s some realism in that. Galinda from the Wicked book would actually be my favorite. Again, I haven’t read everything yet, but so far, she seems to be the most human. She wasn’t as snobby and “that’s what makes me so nice” as she was in the musical. She was just a teenager, also struggling to be accepted, only difference is she wanted to be accepted by the wrong crowd.

Nessarose or Evanora? Huh. I never really liked the wicked witch of the east, in any portrayal. Nessarose, too clingy. Evanora, too… evil. Nessa, I understand being in a wheelchair isn’t that easy, but girl, you have got to move on. That munchkin boy is obviously not into you. He calls you “madame” for god’s sake! Yeah, I have Nessarose issues. Evanora, again plain evil. There wasn’t even any reason behind it. I love Rachel Weisz too, but Evanora was just… ugh.

The contest of the concept itself is a shoo-in. Wicked the musical will always be my favorite prequel to the original Oz story. Again, it’s a realistic one. And maybe I’m a bit biased because the musical’s wicked witch of the west is the best one. Oz the Great and Powerful is a good try, great graphics and all, but I don’t really like the concept. Again, too much unexplained things, unexplained trust, unreasonable evil, and lots of naivety.

Anyway, now that we’re done with all that, I guess this explains partly why I can’t really finish my Project Miserably Wicked anytime soon. There are far too many witches of the west, and as much as I am fond of all of them actually, they’re all too different. Of course my project is based solely on Elphaba, but even Elphie has two different personalities from the book and the musical. And honestly, I am not keen on adding another one. But hey, I did enjoy playing around with it. Maybe when I’m less concerned about continuity, I shall continue Project Miserably Wicked. But for now, let’s just appreciate the wicked witch of the west in the existing portrayals that she has. This one’s for you, Elphie!

Elphaba

Elphaba, the prettiest portrayal

Thanks for reading, and munch on!

Unpacking Baggage

The greater the potential for good in any of us, the greater the opposite potential for wickedness -Merlinus Ambrosius, James Potter 2 and the Curse of the Gatekeeper

Unfortunately, this isn’t a continuation of Project Miserably Wicked. I seem to have lost my drive for that, but I will try to continue it, if I ever get the drive again. See that’s the problem with us Feelers (Feeling types from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test). I don’t know if I speak for the whole feeling type population, but here’s my take: we feel too much too fast. When something happens to us, there’s this overwhelming gush of emotions we get, and we tend to take action on them immediately. That also means we process a lot faster too, not to say that we process it right all the time. Art comes from the gush of emotions. Great artists, painters, writers, musicians, and the like, have been known to create beautiful art when they’re experiencing great emotional phases. Not that Project Miserably Wicked is any great art, but I seem to have lost that.

So what does the quote above have to do with anything? Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about the decisions I’ve made in my four years of college now I’m graduating soon. Most of those decisions were typically results of my Feeling type personality, coming out of deep emotions of happiness, anger, sorrow, jealousy, pride, loneliness, and love. Whatever the reason, I’m sure when I made those decisions, I felt that they were decisions for the greater good. That’s what always runs in my head anyway, every time I make those decisions. And (SPOILER ALERT!) maybe that is what the Bloodline felt when she had to choose between sparing a little girl’s life or resurrecting her parents in the James Potter novel. What Merlin said afterwards though was the cold hard truth,

Even now, she leaves these walls to return to a loveless and bitter life. She has denied herself the return of her own parents so that Lily and you, James, might live. Meanwhile, she watches you go home to loving parents and a life she can only dream of. Don’t think that, despite her actions, she will not lie awake on cold, lonely night, pining hopelessly for her dead parents, and wondering, wondering, if on that fateful night in the Chamber of Secrets she made the wrong choice -Merlinus Ambrosius, James Potter and the Curse of the Gatekeeper

That’s always the thing isn’t it? Not knowing if we made the right decisions. No matter how much we tell ourselves that “it’s for the best”, we are never really sure. And no matter how much we try not to hurt anyone with these decisions, we can never really please everyone, and someone is bound to get hurt. Maybe we even make things worse. “The greater the potential for good in any of us, the greater the opposite potential for wickedness.” It’s a typical Elphaba-type cliché.

That is why, as I thought about my college life, I put myself in the shoes of the people I’ve hurt. Yes, I would’ve been really mad, and yes, I would’ve probably showed it for a couple of days. But that’s also the thing about being a feeling-type; since we feel much more and much faster, we process faster too, so we get over it faster, or at least I think we do. I am still a strong believer that most of us mean well, and that some bad decisions are just cases of these “it’s for the best” kind of thinking. That’s why I forgive others easily, I guess. Of course, some transgressions are merely acts of selfishness and not necessarily misjudged decisions. But hey, we’re all just human beings, struggling with these emotions that are so hard to grasp.

Point is, the greater our drive to “do good”, the larger the effect of our actions become. I mean, just look at Elphie. She has hurt a lot of people by “doing good”. It’s never easy to tell exactly what the right decisions are. Regrets will always come and haunt us, even after we’ve convinced ourselves that we did the right thing. I don’t really believe in karma, or natural justice, or whatever, but I do believe that knowing this, it’ll be a lot easier to forgive, not just other people, but ourselves.

What with the huge amount of free time suddenly dumped on us graduating seniors, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and conversing, mostly with people I did not expect to converse with so soon. And with all that thinking and talking, it dawned on me that I had a lot of forgiving to do for myself. I had this huge, heavy load of guilt on my shoulders accumulated in those four years, and I never really let go of them. Today I just spent a lot of time unpacking all that baggage, unloading all that guilt. I know they say it’s supposed to feel great afterwards, but it doesn’t really. Forgiveness takes time, and apparently it takes longer to forgive yourself. But it’s a start, and eventually that load will lighten.

Clean slates are great and all, but after what I’ve just been through, I think it’s still best to just go through the whole self-forgiveness thing. Who knows, that giant baggage might be the cause of the great potential wickedness in us.

Well, happy graduation to my fellow seniors, and munch on!