Author’s Note: I decided to repost this paper I made for my Sociology-10 class under Prof. Sarah Raymundo under two contexts. First, our esteemed professor continues to be refused tenureship by the Sociology department under political motivations, and as such to reaffirm her over-achievement of said tenureship, I (re)offer this exhortation. Second, this serves as a reminder to myself to whip up an assessment of my soon to conclude PI-100 class under Prof. Icasiano, another excellent professor by her own right. For I really do give credit where credit is due. (Originally Published on Oct. 15, 2008)
You might have taken this subject for reasons commonly used by a happy-go-lucky youth: you could’ve taken it just to fulfill a GE requirement, or perhaps it was the best CRS can give you, or that it’s simply a prerequisite to something you need to take, all in the name of just finishing your studies on time, getting a snazzy job and dying rich, not necessarily famous, but rich.
One thing I have learned in this subject is that, yeah, students like us do dream this American Dream, even as society’s ills stare ugly at us with the words “DREAM ON, BITCH/BASTARD” written all over their faces. I have cited in this class the basic statistic that for every 50,000 jobs the Philippine government produced (God knows what kind of job this is and whether it is in the Philippines or outsourced elsewhere), 500,000 fresh graduates go into the real world to kill each other for one of those jobs. I have a feeling this statistic is outdated, but it’s better to dream that the ratio of graduates to jobs is still that way. Even more of a pipe dream is for that statistic to get better in time.
You will also learn in this subject that students like us dream the American Dream for a reason, much like the same way every bit of crap that happens in society occurs for a reason. You will learn that the crap that happens from the local, to the national, to the international, happens because of the lives of men are built by those in power that way. It’s not a fate designed by God, its architect goes by different names, among them Adam Smith, George Bush, and yes, Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo. You will also learn that, one way or another, this crap will encroach on your life eventually. Just you wait for graduation. You will also learn how, even with all this crap piled up on you, you still will not care about financial meltdowns, cultural hegemonies, neoliberal policies, socialist revolution, and whatever other sociological jargon you can throw about, granted that some of these terms aren’t really purely sociological. You might actually know what some of these gobbledygook are, but you will not care how they are applied to everyday life as long as you feed your uno fetish.
You might live on cup noodles and streetfood (or for the opulently rich like some of you probably are, starbucks and havaianahs) until you achieve your single-minded goal of graduating, with honors even, but you will never know how is it that, at the end of it all, you’ll have lost life’s rat race to a schmuck who kisses behinds better than you, or makes coffee for the boss better than you, or simply do better than you. For the record, do here refers to general activity, not the thing green-minded people like you thought of.
I have gone so far into the letter to tell you what you can learn in Sociology 10, and yet you haven’t heard of any explanation about a concept or theory or whatever you are expecting to scribble notes about. What I have shared so far, is exactly what you will learn in this class. You will realize that your whole life was orchestrated by the institutions of our society to always think in theories and concepts, but then how do we set to apply it? Do we leave the simple acts of knowing not to eat dog poo to the Chemistry majors who knows in scientific terms that there’s bacteria in there? Do we not believe in stuff we think are essential principles in our life even if we are not Philosophy majors? This idea of sectarianism has knocked the sense out of the students because this is exactly what society wants: people who don’t ask questions and simply follow orders.
You will learn in this class that doing good in school is not through the technicalities of academic excellence, but by genuinely learning how you put it to practice. They say that the Iskolar ng Bayan is distinguished from other collegiate scholars by being TATAK UP – the stamp of the critical thinker, the social mover, the nation builder. But the truth is, you only start to become a real Iskolar ng Bayan once you see the politics behind it. And the moment you start to learn about the truths behind the truths, what you deem important to your life will also begin to change. You will see how your daily grind is linked to the political and economic crises, government corruption, dubious foreign agreements, etc. and as such, require our thought at the minimum, and our actions at the maximum, if we are to prevent ourselves from being eaten up by the social cancer. You will learn how those noisy tibaks actually do make sense, once we just try to stop and actually listen.
So the next time you go to class, think not about what grade you can achieve, but what you will learn and apply to your life. The same usually goes for many other GEs, as I have learned in Chemistry 1 where their idea of applied chemistry is learning about chemical warfare which is kind of sickeningly funny (unless, of course, you do intend to poison someone in the near future), but to date, the things I’ve learned in Sociology generally prove to be more useful, as it teaches you to live a life, not just for yourself and your family, but for the welfare of the people in general. You will realize that you and your family are part of the people, and from there you will realize that the personal is indeed political.
Hopefully, in the time that you will spend under the tutelage of our noble Sociology professors (well, at least the few who practice what they preach and preach for the genuine welfare of the people), your world views and perspectives will have changed for the better. Otherwise, go look for an uno somewhere else. You might be able to pass your exams with flying colors, but if you let yourself be tied to these petty illusions of success, you will fail the test of life.