Sa Ngayon, Magpakasaya

Lungkot at ligaya
Dala nila’y pag-asa
Hatid ang balitang:
“Ika’y buhay pa!”

Matuwa, umindak
Mapuno ng galak
Kahit sa oras ng lungkot
Buhay ka pa, huwag matakot.

Sumayaw, humiyaw
Wag matakot gumalaw
Pagkat di pa dinapuan
Kahit anino mo ng kamatayan.

Oras at panahon lilipas
Ganda at husay ay kukupas
Ang ngayon ay huwag aksayahin
Bawat sandali ay pasayahin.

Problema ay kalimutan.
Lungkot ay iwasan.
Sa saya magpakadalubhasa.
Upang langit sa lupa iyong matamasa.

Reduce and Recycle to Save the World from Garbage

Waste seems to be one of the major problems of the world at the present time. It seems to conquer every corner of the streets, of the uplands, of the plains, and even the deepest of the sea. The latest surveys even list the Philippines as the third leading plastic polluters in the world.

It is undeniable that humankind is the sole contributor of what the earth encounters at this point in time-Pollution. I hope it’s not too late to make a step to save the world from this grave situation.

But what can be done?

But what can the culprits do?

The answer is simple: take responsibility for our actions. We are not merely victims. We are victims of our own crime to Mother Nature.

Humans must practice waste management.

Waste management is the collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal, managing and monitoring of waste materials. The term usually relates to the materials which is produced by human activities and is generally undertaken to reduce its effect on health, environment and aesthetics. It involves solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive substances, with different techniques and fields of expertise for each as well as recovering resources out of these wastes.

What is the best way to manage human waste products?

It is recycling.

Recycling refers to the collection and reuse of waste materials like empty beverage containers from which new items are made and can be reprocessed into new products. Materials used in recycling can be collected separately from general waste using segregated bins and collection vehicles, or sorted directly from mixed waste streams.

The most common products consumed by human that can be recycled include aluminum cans, copper, steel food and aerosol cans, old steel furnishings or equipment, polyethelene and PET bottles, glass bottles and jars, paperboard cartoons, newspapers, magazines, light paper and corrugated fiber boxes.

The recycling of complex products such as computers and electronic equipment is more difficult due to additional dismantling and separation required. But it can be done.

Recycling is good but it is not enough.

What more can be done?

We must reduce waste production.

Several methods are also introduced for waste management and minimization. The avoidance and reduction method which deals with the prevention of waste material are being created. The waste handling and transporting focuses on providing waste collection services as a formal system.

Education and information dissemination drive are ways that could promote waste management in order to reduce garbage population all over the world.

Everything that we do in life creates an impact to the world. The integrity of caring the earth and its biodiversity is one of the major reasons why we should do our part to save our environment from the hazards and dangers brought by garbage on our surrounding.

We have to protect the future of the new generation and their rights to live a normal life like what we used to with the world in its original state.

The Thanos’ Mindset

“You were going to bed hungry, scrounging for scraps. Your planet was on the brink of collapse. I’m the one who stopped that. You know what’s happened since then? The children born have known nothing but full bellies and clear skies. It’s a paradise.”

~ Thanos to Gamora

As I was writing my previous post about Thanos and his philosophy in relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to realize that maybe Thanos was right so I decided to research and write this article.

Thanos, Bentham & Nietzche

When I decided to write this article I researched online and encountered this Quora question entitled: “Is Thanos a utilitarian or a nihilist? What is his philosophy based on his actions in Avengers: Infinity War?”

Let us analyze the choices first if it has merits.

Utilitarianism is generally held to be the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good. This was first developed by Jeremy Bentham. If you wanna read more about this read its history.

On the other hand, nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. It is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche. If you want to read more about this, read this article.

In my view, I believe tht Thanos is utilitarian but he is not a nihilist. He is utilitarian because he is quite committed to do and act on what he believes is good. Thanos is not a nihilist but quite the opposite because he has a purpose and that is to allow progress by culling the Universe.

Now, we have established that Thanos is quite the utilitarian because he has a pupose and an action. At this point let us analyze what caused him to ascribe to that purpose.

Thanos & Malthus

Thanos believes in the Malthusian Theory of Population that was proposed by Thomas Robert Malthus who believed that a balance between population growth and food supply can be established through preventive and positive checks.

A schematic diagram for understanding the Malthusian Theory better.

According to his theory, it is predicted that in the future there will be a time when humans would have no more resources to survive on. This will encourage greater level of competition and thus conflict.

We can say that we are surely arriving to this point of our human civilization on Earth. Thanos believes that this is avoidable by removing half of the population. He insists that if after the catastrophe the survivors will rise up and usher a golden age.

Real World Thanos

Some scientists and historians believe as I do that Thanos’ philosophy has a precedent in the real world.

They argue that catastrophic events or calamities such as the Black Death or Bubonic Plague that decimated half of the population of Europe at that time helped usher the Renaissance.

Daily History Org writes, “The Black Death marked an end of an era in Italy, its impact was profound, and it resulted in wide-ranging social, economic, cultural and religious changes. These changes, directly and indirectly, led to the emergence of the Renaissance, one of the greatest epochs for art, architecture, and literature in human history.”

Nowadays, we are experiencing a new pandemic – COVID19, I believe that whoever survives this will usher a new golden age and a new age of enlightenment for humanity. This has already started with China strengthening its laws on biosafety and wildlife trade.

It is my hope that humanity will learn to appreciate that the health of the ecosystem is also our health.

The Inferno: Thanos’ Philosophy on Humanity and COVID-19

“Ozone depletion, lack of water, and pollution are not the disease—they are the symptoms. The disease is overpopulation. And unless we face world population head-on, we are doing nothing more than sticking a Band-Aid on a fast-growing cancerous tumor.”

Dan Brown, Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)

On the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in China last December, I immediately remembered the book Inferno by Dan Brown and the philosophy of the antagonists in that story which rang bells in my mind.

Threat or Treat?

The question: “Is COVID-19 a threat or a treat?” circled in Facebook during the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China.

This question makes valid arguments in the sense that the viral epidemic caused a halt in the industrial outputs of develeoped nations leading to the decrease in pollution levels as evidenced by various researches.

It is a treat to the health of our planet because it allowed the slowing down of humanity and the pollution that they cause.

On the other hand it is a threat to the health of the human race. It can decimate the human population.

COVID-19 will cleanse the Earth

Ducks, geese and dolphins returns to Venice canals.

By imposing travel restrictions, lockdowns and other emergency measures – we are trying to stop a calamity in vain. A pandemic is a natural calamity that must be allowed to run its due course.

Can calamities be stopped? No.

By the current technology, we cannot stop a typhoon nor an earthquake nor an asteroid. Same goes for a pandemic.

Hypothetically, pandemics should be allowed to run its course. Death is inevitable. Economic fallout is rational. What are the reasons that a calamitous pandemic must not be stopped?

First, pandemics drive evolution through natural selection where only the strongest will survive after this pandemic. The immunity of the herd after the pandemic will be stronger. The next generations of humans will be hardier.

Second, pandemics will solve all of our environmental woes starting with overpopulation. It will cull humanity. The Earth will weed us out.

If half the human population dies due to this pandemic then there will be 4 billion people lesser who will vie for resources like food, oxygen and water.

I am going an all out to Thanos Philosophy here but Thanos is correct. Less people means less competition for resources allowing us to dedicate our efforts to more progress.

How can I say that the Thanos Philosophy is correct? Just learn your basics of economics and read about your Law of Supply and Demand.

The Choice is Ours

Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones star in Inferno, a film based on the book by Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code.

The implications of this pandemic reminds me of the quote of  Bertrand Zobrist to Robert Langdon from Dan Brown’s Inferno: “There’s a switch, if you throw it half the people on earth will die, but if you don’t in a hundred years then the human race will be extinct. I left you a path, the hardest one yet, only you can finish it. You are humanities final hope.”

Should we allow the disease to run its course and we evolve? Should we allow the disease to run its course and eliminate some  of the human population for our species to have more resources and thrive?

Yes, we should but we can’t because we do not want to.

Philosopher in Focus: Rene Descartes

“Dubito ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum”

~ Rene Descartes

I doubt therefore I think, I think therefore I am.

This is a maxim by the renowned French philosopher and mathematician, Rene Descartes that is often heard but is often misunderstood. Usually, it is only presented in its later half: “I think therefore I am” but that is incomplete causing confusion among readers.

This maxim was first presented by Descartes in his book Discourse on Method published in 1637. In this book he presented certainty as a primary characteristic of valid knowledge.

Descartes: The Rationalist

Descartes along with Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant were counted among the philosophical school of Rationalists who flourished in Northern Europe from 1640 to 1800.

The key problem for Rationalists is that: “Given that reason is our only reliable source of knowledge, what can we deduce about reality from pure thought, and how far can we trust the appearances of sense experience?”

In a sense they doubted the existence of reality as perceived by the senses, so they asked themselves that if they cannot trust their senses then what must they trust? What is real? What is true? When can a thing be said to be true and real?

Their possible solution to this problem is that reason tells us to mistrust our senses, but ideas and truth exist within the mind, and by careful thought we can build a picture of reality, using reason, math and intuition. Science has its place within a larger spiritual and intellectual world.

Their answer to the problem of “what is real” lies in the mind. Reality is what is supported by reason. If a thing can be explained, then it is real. If a thing cannot be explained, then it is not real.

For example, a person says “The apple falls from a tree.” Rationalists will argue that they may doubt whether the apple really fell from the tree because their eyes may fool them but since their mind can comprehend that the apple falls from the tree then the apple falling from the tree is reality.

Rationalists advise us: “Follow reason in everything.” If it can be explained, then it is true. Using this understanding, we can now explain Descartes’ maxim.

Do I exist?

Descartes’ maxim answers the question: “Do I exist?”

How sure are you that you exist? To what level of certainty can you assure me that you truly are a person alive and well?

If I compare this to a movie, it looks like Neo from the Matrix is asking himself whether what he really senses are real. In that movie, he is asked to choose between the blue and red pill. One will allow him to return to the fake reality of the Matrix and one allows him to experience the true reality.

Centuries ago, even without that idea of technology that can simulate reality in your brain Descartes have already asked the question of whether his senses are real or not.

Descartes begins with this doubt. He says that to ascertain truth one must first doubt because doubt allows us to ask questions therefore giving us the chance to think. Doubt your reality. Ask questions like “Is this possible and probable?”

Doubt allows you to ask questions. When you are able to ask questions this gives you an opportunity to think.

If you can think therefore you can assure that you are rational and therefore can grasp the truth of the reality of the matter on hand.

Say for example: you are flying the skies in your wings. You feel the wind on your skin. You see the sky and the earth. You smell the coming rain. You did not doubt and relished your emotions.

Did you really fly? No.

You did not fly because: (1) you believed your feelings which are irrational hence unreal, (2) you never doubted hence you fell prey to the lack of reason, and (3) man cannot fly and he does not have wings – that is rational. Therefore, you are flying with wings is unreal.

In Summary

If somebody tells you that he loves you and shows you how much he cares. Doubt. Think. Love is just a feeling. Show of care is just a perception. Both are irrational hence both are unreal.

AN ADVISE FOR A FELLOW TRAVELER

We aim too high
But the results stoop too low.
We roam too far
Yet to nowhere we ever go.

We seek gems and gold
Never seing it till we go old.
Life is too fragile and short
To waste on dreams one can’t hold.

Live and be merry
The world is dreary
See new sights with wonder and awe
Till your legs go weary.

Time is a fickle master
Old age is just ‘neath the corner
Dream on, travel the world’s wonders
Till sickness, age and death put you asunder.

The Origins of My Name

Many people say that my name is quite unique but my research says otherwise. Let us delve into the origins of my name.

Names: Parents’ Choice

My name was chosen by my parents at the time of my birth and patterned to the name of a prominent personality at that time who was Atty. Noide Villareal. He was always live at radio broadcasts of a local radio station that is why my parents patterned my name after his.

Our surname, Balasa, according to my father’s anecdote was not our original surname. It was chosen by my great grandfather to be his surname because his real surname has a stigma around it. According to his story, my great grandfather’s real surname, Bagnate, was said to be possessed by those who are lazy that is why he opted to use the surname of his mother, Balasa, in order to avoid being discriminated by his peers.

Noedy: To Comfort

My first name, Noedy pronounced |noy-dee| or |no-we-di|, comes from two root words: Noé and Dy.

Noé is the French, Spanish and Portuguese form of Noah. The origin of the name Noah is not certain. Some say the name is derived from the Hebrew “noach” meaning “rest” or “comfort.” This is supported in the Bible (Genesis 5:29) when the builder of the ark is called Noah by his father saying “this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” 

Noe is also of Korean origins. In Korean it is used as a surname, Noe (Korean: 뇌) which can be written with either of two hanja characters with one meaning “thunder” (雷; Korean: 우레 뇌).

Dy is the second root word of my first name. It is of English origins where it is used as a surname. Interestingly, the name derives from “Dye”, itself a pet form of the Medieval English female given name Dionisia, from the Greek Dionysia (feminine) or Dionysios (masculine) meaning “the Divine One of Nysa”, (a holy mountain in modern Afghanistan). Dye (without surname) is first recorded in the 1301 “Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire”. The surname from this source also appears in the early half of the 14th Century. Variant forms Dy and Dei are recorded in the 1379 “Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire”.

Balasa: One in Despair

My surname, Balasa, is pronounced as it is spelled. It comes from the Filipino word “balasa” which is a verb that means shuffling of playing cards. The word is also used similarly in the Tagalog and Hiligaynon dialects of the Philippines. This word may be an alteration of the Spanish baraja, imperative affirmative form of barajar. Balasa may be written with Chinese letters: 巴拉萨 (pinyin: bā lā sà).

This etymology hints the fact that the first user of the Balasa surname may be a card gambling addict who used the word as his surname. This is consistent with one of the established convention that Filipinos chose surnames that derive from words in autochthonous languages like Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilocano, Kapampangan and Pangasinense.

On 21 November 1849, Governor General Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa issued a decree stating that Filipinos should adopt Spanish surnames to make census counting easier. Some Filipinos retained their native pre-colonial names, especially those who were exempted from the Clavería decree such as the descendants of rulers of the Maharlika or noble class. It  must be noted that Filipinos must adopt Spanish surnames except those with maharlika blood. Balasa is not listed among this Maharlika surnames but it exists to date so it is possible that my ancestors may have been able to avoid the decree due to their maharlika ancestry, their distance from the authorities’ power to force Spanish surnames upon them or, their adoption of this surname many years after the the Clavería decree.

Alternatively, when I was searching for the origin of my name online. I found the suceeding quote.

“Iblīs (alternatively Eblis or Ibris) is a figure frequently occurring in the Quran, commonly in relation to the creation of Adam and the command to prostrate himself before him. After he refused, he was cast out of heaven. For many classical scholars, he was an angel, but regarded as a jinn in most contemporary scholarship. Due to his fall from God’s grace, he is often compared to Satan in Christian traditions. In Islamic tradition, Iblis is often identified with Al-Shaitan (“the Devil”). However, while Shaitan is used exclusively for an evil force, Iblis himself holds a more ambivalent role in Islamic traditions. The term Iblis (Arabic: إِبْلِيس‎) may have been derived from the Arabic verbal root bls ب-ل-س (with the broad meaning of “remain in grief”) or بَلَسَ (balasa, “he despaired”).”

In the text above, we can note that the word balasa means “he despaired” in Arabic refers  to the Quranic character Ibris.

In Summary

We have names. We receive names. We cannot do otherwise but to accept and adapt them. We have to grow with them and improve the names that we have been given.

In my case, I cannot do away with the name I have been given. I have grown into it. I have shaped my personality around it. Given the chance, I will not change it because the name is me.

My name, Noedy Balasa, echoes a motif in life that I have also adapted which means “a thundering divine comfort for he who despaired.”

(NOTE: This text was originally researched on the eve of my birthday, the 6th of January 2020, but attained its full development this 22nd of March 2020.)

By: Noedy Balasa