Jack is a dull boy
SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - October 12, 2019 - 12:00am

One of the more contentious proposals from the House is Congressman Joey Salceda’s bill rationalizing regular and special holidays. The man is saying no mas. 

The ASEAN average for holidays is 15. We’re now at 21 to 25. The Salceda bill proposes to limit them to nine regular and nine movable, a total of 18 holidays strictly. This is the interesting part. Of nine movables, two are for foundation day celebrations of the province and city/municipality. The balance of seven are blank checks. They will be applied, at the option of the employee, depending on their cultural, religious or personal preference. Shades of President Gloria M. Arroyo’s holiday economics! 

He explained that the measure will provide employers a stable and more predictable environment for business. Reducing non-working holidays should make the country more competitive in terms of productivity. 

But here lies the clash. Productivity is the same argument for holidays. It’s the rest and recreation of time off that gives us crucial recovery time, reduces stress and allows you to continue plugging at that high level.

Hence, the formula is fewer days = more success. More work gets in the way of success. Even the new technologies intended to revolutionize the way we work (i.e. make it easier) has ended up increasing the amount of time we spend working. 

You know what they say about all work and no play. 

Avengers, Philippine Edition. The GILAS (basketball) and the Azkals (football) are the two most prominent national sports teams today. Both are populated by foreign born Filipino athletes that have immeasurably improved the complexion of their squads. These wages of the diaspora are their own bonuses. Their fervor in representing the motherland is inspiring and elevating their countrymen.

In women’s sports, the National Volleyball Team has captivated the public. Our homegrown idols, led by Alysa Valdez, are top draw. In their respective leagues they routinely pack sports stadia with their exciting rallies and undisguised emotion. But even these idols make space in their pantheon for the added value of Fil foreigners. Fil-American collegiate standouts Kalei Mau and Alohi Robbins Hardy bannered their effort at the ASEAN grand prix in Thailand. 

Our foreign born and bred brethren are carving their niche in regional and world rankings. In Sumo wrestling, we’re proud to see Fil-Japanese Mitakeumi Hisashi ascending to Sekiwake (3rd highest rank). In time, he will attain Ozeki (2nd highest) like kababayan Takayasu Akira. Any one of them may win the personal and country honor of becoming the first ever Filipino Yokozuna (highest rank). In women’s Gymnastics, Fil-American Kyla Ross is an Olympic and World Gold medalist who handily scores perfect 10s.

In the high profile Major leagues, the United States has Fil-Americans Addison Russell (MLB); Jordan Clarkson, of course, in the NBA; Jason Robertson in the NHL; and Doug Baldwin who has just retired from the NFL. In Europe, there are football stars Fil-Austrian/Nigerian David Alaba of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and Fil-Brit Neil Etheridge of Cardiff (Premier League) who already plays for the Azkals.

Not the triumph, but the struggle. At the South East Asian Games, we anticipate the exploits of idols for the new generation. De Vega, Begeo, del Prado were the household names during my time. My son will know Fil-American track stars Cray, the Richardson sisters, Brown and Knott. On the field, EJ Obiena and Fil-American Natalie Uy of pole vaulting.

And, finally, the tickets are out. We watch as one! Spectator sports in the international arena brings us together as a people. It transcends differences and arouses deeply nationalistic passions. Together, we revel in the highest ideals of sportsmanship and marvel at the unbelievable display of heart. There is that priceless camaraderie all around, on the common ground of witnessing excellence. 

Basketball, volleyball, football, swimming, diving, athletics, badminton, boxing, gymnastics all get live TV coverage. 

Desperate wishes. Students would like to see more guidance counselors. This was the submission of students in the panel discussing children’s needs at DepEd’s 1st National Child Protection Summit. I felt for them as this echoed my experience as university president. It was a time of extended unease when I inherited a university without a guidance counselor. 

You can’t be licensed as a guidance counselor until you pass the licensure exam and you have a Masters degree. This plot twist, added by RA 9258, the Guidance and Counseling Act, was intended to professionalize the practice by preventing non registered individuals from assuming the role. 

The high educational requirement, however, has deterred those inclined from pursuing this vocation. As of 2017, we only had 3,220 registered guidance counselors (RGCs). The ideal ratio, according to DepEd, is one for every 500 students. With more than 26 million students in K to 12 alone, this means a requirement of more than 52,000 RGCs. And this figure doesn’t include the higher education sector. 

One of my first orders of business was to ensure our university immediately had one. given our plantilla as a public university, there was really only one item for Guidance Counselor III. Thankfully, we were able to hire one during my watch. 

Students shared stories of reaching out for help. At times, they were grateful if anyone would just stay and listen. This is specially critical for the many silently suffering from depression and other, equally unsettling mental health challenges. Not a few end up having life long relations with their guidance counselors. There is a particularly high ratio of dependence for students that have one or more parents working overseas. 

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2019 is mental health promotion and suicide prevention. Strong mental health literacy helps prevent the development of full blown disorders.

Paint it Blue. This year’s Ateneo Law School Homecoming event is hosted by Batch ‘95. Honoree batches are ’59, ’69, ’79 and ‘94. It will be another evening of wining, dining, dancing and fellowship on Friday, Oct. 18 at the Makati Shangrila Grand Ballroom.

JOEY SALCEDA
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