Author: ainabalagtaso8o

I am but a scribbler who is privileged to share my innermost thoughts.

A Call for an Act: Student Loan Debt Relief

”When America made 12 years of Public Education universal in the last century, we became-not figuratively, literally-the best educated public in the world and better prepared than any other nation. And I would argue that it’s one of the reasons why we are successful and have been successful” President Joseph R. Biden. And I agree with the chief executive. However, I also believe that for his Student Loan Debt Relief Plan to be truly meaningful; impactful and lasting, the Biden-Harris administration should work with the United States Congress to achieve a more concrete and viable solution by making it an act instead of an executive order.

In brief, I hope we can all agree that debt-especially student loans-has detrimental ramifications to one’s well-being. And our leaders know this so well. In fact, there are laws in place to protect us, consumers from the evils of indebtedness. To name a few, there’s the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Truth in Lending Act, and last, but not least, the bankruptcy law. Sadly, hardly-if not-none of those laws directly and significantly addresses the perils of student loan.

What the statistic says?

Melanie Hanson of Education Data Initiative reports that as of July 29, 2022:
“ . . . student loan debt in the U.S. is at 1.748 trillion;
. . . 43. million Americans have student loan debts;
. . . the average federal student loan debt balance is $37,667 while the total average balance (including private loan debt) may be as high as $40,274.”


I recently engaged in a contractual employment processing loan forgiveness application for the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act. I witnessed first-hand how loan forgiveness gave hope to many small businesses that were severely impacted by Covid-19’ economic disruption. That if the government didn’t intervene through the CARES Act, many businesses couldn’t have survived. And for this reason, I am compelled that if the government would push through the Student Loan Forgiveness and to make it as a 1040 schedule, our government is proactively and effectively addressing this crisis.

Lastly, by introducing the Student Loan Debt Relief Plan to the U. S. Congress; or to make it an Act—It can be a bipartisan endeavor that the American citizenry can appreciate. That alongside the application for Student Loan Forgiveness, a 1040 (federal income tax return) schedule, stipulating eligibility by giving credits to public service for governmental and nonprofit professionals, their years of service, community engagement (such as volunteering), income and disability status.


The Biden-Harris Administration’s Student Debt Relief Plan gives hope to 43 million Americans (Hanson, 2022) indebted with student loans. However, to ensure its success and lasting impact (one that is safe from political maneuvering), the White House and the United States Congress should pass an Act addressing this long-standing crisis that has been hurting the well-being of many Americans.

Helpful Links

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Student Debt Relief Plan Explained

Remarks by President Biden Announcing Student Loan Debt Relief Plan

FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces Student Loan Relief for Borrowers Who Need It Most

Student Loan Debt Statistics

Adams Statement on President Biden’s Student Loan Debt Relief Plan

Would Biden’s Debt Forgiveness Plan Survive a Court Challenge?

Would Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Survive a Court Challenge?

Is Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan the Right Approach?


Biden, Joseph R. (2022, August 25). Remarks by President Biden Announcing Student Loan Debt Relief Plan. Speeches and Remarks, Briefing Room, Roosevelt Room. WhiteHouse. gov. Retrieve from

Hanson, Melanie. (2022, July 29). Student Loan Debt Statistics” Retrieved from

U. S. Department of Education. (N.d.). The Biden-Harris Administration’s Student Debt Relief Plan Explained. Federal Student Aid. Retrieved from


The Importance of Taking Notes

Copyright of the image above belongs UMass Amherst


(Updated, 10/18/2020, 23:39 HST)


From prep all the way to college, to graduate and post graduate studies: The importance of note taking is so relevant to learning. Even in the workplace, during meetings, conferences, client interactions, note taking plays a pivotal role in achieving a greater understanding of the challenges we’re facing. On a personal level, it speaks of our humility and conviction, to accept that we’re not all-knowing–and that learning is a continuous process that must be carried throughout our lifetime.

I remember, when I was in my second year at Kapiolani Community College: Because, I was enrolled full-time. I saw the only way to earn a little to survive, was to apply as a note taker for people with disabilities to the University of Hawai’i. The requirements were: A legible handwriting, decent grade in upper English courses, decent GPA (grade point average), and good listening skills. I also had to show how I note take to get hired. And I did secure the job. I needed to do my duties well, so that the students assigned to me would succeed in their academic pursuits. I have to take notes for them legibly, accurately, and sensibly, to ease the challenges in their respective academic life. And at the end of every class, I have to show my notes to their professors, before I turn them in to the ADA (American Disability Act) Center, where the students can get them in person. I also made it sure to have copies of all class materials to supplement the notes. I had to ensure, I didn’t miss anything that was said and distributed in class.

Likewise, I remember, in one of the eulogies during the funeral service of the late former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, former Canada Prime Minister Brian Mulroney shared his deep admiration for his beloved friend, seeing President Bush Forty-One took notes during an important event that they both attended. President Bush Forty-One did so to understand other nations’ leaders’ point of views, and for obvious reasons that he cared.

And those are just two very publicized accounts in light of the importance of note taking. I am sure that most of you, my dear fellow bloggers– who according to many reports are educated–you know the importance of note taking in the professional world. It is a testament to your earnest efforts in taking into account and to remind yourselves the priorities of your organizations or companies. It is evident to you engaging with one aspect of due diligence, which is critical to your integrity and credibility.

For when we take notes, it shows our professional skepticism that no matter how smart we are, we can’t fully entrust everything to memory alone. Simply, because, we can’t afford to miss significant information and/or facts, which could lead us to a sound decision and broaden our understanding.

So, I urge you to reflect in your good conscience, what does it mean when someone shows an empty pad? Especially, during a process that involves hundreds of millions of lives?

So, please tell me, what profession that doesn’t require taking notes? Is there anyone of us, who truly knows it all that would not need any new knowledge at all? Aren’t other people’s concerns and challenges worthy of our attentions and notepads? Is insensitivity an indicator of intelligence or arrogance?

As an aspiring jurist, one who had the privilege of working with and for the finest attorneys in Honolulu: I witnessed them all took notes during client interviews, hearings, depositions, research and discoveries. Some even brought their legal secretaries and or paralegals who took notes as well. And in the end, they compared their notes making sure nothing was unaccounted.

Because, hearing is different from listening. And their defining difference: The latter is both a skill and virtue, which makes listening the very foundation of note taking. For without listening, how can you take notes? And how can you attest that you are fully listening without taking notes?

Thus, if you have doubts on the importance of taking notes in our lives, please get your cellphones: Do you notice by default there’s an app for notes? I am an Apple user since 2010; and I can’t remember a version of iPhone, or iPad and iPod that doesn’t have notes as one of their default apps. Again, it’s because, taking notes is part of our lives. It is integral to our growth: it boosts our productivity; and it supplements our recollection and/or memory.

Lastly, public service is not a show. It involves lives, real lives, including those of generations to come. Public servants (be elected or appointed) must have some reverence to the trust endowed to them. And the least that they can do in exchange of that very precious trust, is to take notes of people’s concerns and to genuinely find time; to ponder and dare to act; strive to make a difference in people’s lives.



Please bear with me; I’m behind on yours. Forgive me. I’d make it up this weekend. Happy blogging to you all. I love you, WordPress!

The Greatest Threat to Democracy

Copyright belongs to Karremans Johannes of the European University Institute (for the image above)


(updated 10/20/2020, 23:04 HST)

THE greatest threat to democracy is a dictator, who abuse and misuse power against his own people, who have vested their trust and put him in the highest office of the land in hopes that their lives would be better. To grip onto power, the ungrateful chief executive cares less if he breaches that trust; worse, the ungrateful chief executive cares less if he violates people’s rights. For a dictator’s MO (modus operandi) is as follows:

            A dictator has no respect for the rule of law; he has no respect for civil liberties. A dictator is a fiduciary in breach of his duties; in his duty to care, in his duty to protect; in his duty to serve . He is someone whose moral compass is malfunctioning, because of his tight grip on power.

            A dictator has no reverence for the sacredness of that very rare privilege to lead his nation to a greater good. He has no reverence for true democracy (Obama, 2020). He has no reverence for that humbling privilege to serve his citizenry—what can be more unpatriotic?

            A dictator does not care if he overlaps and infiltrates the greatest institutions and agencies of the republic. Wittingly or unwittingly, he taints the sterling reputations of those institutions and agencies–as he demands loyalty (ironically, amid his betrayal). His message is to “make it clear” that he is in command. And that all should align their undertakings to his theatrical rhetoric regardless of its constitutionality and reasonableness.

            A dictator is vindictive to his own people, who voice their opposition against his ill-leadership. He cannot and will not tolerate peaceful protests, fearing that he would lose command, and his power would be outnumbered by the people who exercise their rights to free speech. He takes advantage of a national emergency, such as the current global pandemic of Covid-19 to deter and even punish his critics and protesters using abusive policing.

            A dictator abuses and misuses the weaponry of his nation against his own people who disagree with him. He twists facts. He misleads his people on unfounded, baseless, merit less conspiracy theories, all nothing but paranoia. He disseminates false or disinformation, to avoid transparency and accountability. He sows division, hatred and fear to divert people’s attention to the very fact that he simply cannot lead. He is a stranger to diplomacy, decency, and empathy; and a total alien to humility.

            A dictator abuses his nation’s resources and will resort even to criminal means for the sake of power. Power power power. To him, power is all that matters.

            A dictator treats public service as a business enterprise to enrich himself at the expense of his own people who continue to sink in poverty—what a very sad reality!

            The good news is people do have the power against dictators by exercising their rights to vote. They must ensure fair and honest election. They also must ensure elections are taking place accordingly. Because every election is an opportunity for the people to change the course of their history. Every election is an opportunity for the people to improve their lives and to make their nation rise to the occasion and overcome dictatorship. Every voting citizen must responsibly exercise the right to vote.

            Lastly, dictatorship is not leadership. And an autocrat is not much of a difference. As both engage in a subtle treason against a democratic republic; against “. . . the government of the people, by the people, and for the people” (Lincoln, 1863). Because in a democratic country the citizenry pledge allegiance never to a party more so, to a  dictator, nor to an autocrat; Rather, to the nation and sovereign “. . . government of the people, by the people, and for the people” (Lincoln, 1863). United States of America is the greatest inspiration of democratic nations. A north star of the free world, U.S. must relentlessly denounce dictatorship, autocracy and communism. It will be monumental and inspirational for the people of those nations to hear U.S. President Donald J. Trump rebuke the evils of dictatorship, autocracy and communism that are happening in the Philippines, in Russia, in Belarus, in Turkey, in China, in North Korea and perhaps somewhere else. It is hard to dismiss the fact that President Trump is seen too cozy with the dictators of those nations mentioned above, which according to many national security experts, the President’s personal choice of friendship and adversaries poses immense endangerment to U.S. It is important to note that historically, dictators and autocrats are men, abusive men who are so obsessed with power. Also note, although the late and former United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Margaret Tatcher (1925-2013) was widely criticized for her conservatism; but no one can accuse her of dictatorship. Her toughness in men’s world was warranted.

            Personally, I strongly believe that dictators and autocrats are not only the greatest threats to democracy; but, likewise, they’re the grave humiliations and embarrassments to great republics, disgrace to humanity and to civilized societies in this twenty-first century.



Lincoln, Abraham. (1863). The Gettysburg Address. The Library of Congress.

Obama, Barack. (2020) Democratic 2020 National Convention.


Copyrights belongs to Associate Professor Tom Gerald Daly, University of Melbourne (for the image above)


Thomas Wimberly. (2020). Realizing Democracy Demands Addressing Deeper Structural Roots of Failure and Possibility of Shared Power. Stanford Social Innovation Review


(Updated September 4, 2020, 13:20 HST)


Merriam Webster has five definitions of democracy: One, it is a “government by the people especially: rule of the majority; [a] government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections,” (Merriam Webster 2020). I am skipping the two and three definitions to avoid bias. But to continue: Four, “the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority,” (Merriam Webster, 2020). And five: “the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges,” (Merriam Webster 2020). I am sharing those most basic concepts and/or principles of democracy not because of ignorance neither a hasty presumption of unawareness. Rather, to remind those who may have forgotten the north star of the free world.

I am not a native of United States. I am an immigrant, who is originally from the Philippines. And although, it is considered a third world, it is a democratic country, which up to now many of our political and civic leaders continue to struggle to fight for the ideals that Americans have inspired us, Filipinos. Indeed, America is the greatest inspiration of the free world; but, likewise, other nations fighting for deprivation of liberty, justice, and equality, also those crying for abuse of authority are counting on the United States in countless of ways. Most importantly, we look up to Americans as role models who embody the greatest in human spirit: brave, bold, intelligent, compassionate, generous, always rallying and ever ready to battle–even to die–for a greater good. It is a sacred, noble calling that no American should ever take for granted.

Going back to the Philippines, sadly, poverty undermines democracy. It is the root of massive graft and corruption in our system of government. Correcting it seems forever to many of us, which is the very reason many Pinoys are either living and/or working abroad. And although it is our sad reality, we, Filipinos have a remarkable history defending democracy, when hand-in-hand we marched twice in peaceful protests against two former presidents, who we believed were existential threats to democracy. Guided by our faith as we are largely Catholics, we marched and vigil for days in Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in 1986 and 2001. Armed with rosaries and bravery to bring down dictators–together, we succeeded.

Because when democracy is in peril, people are under threats of their rights, of their rights to a better life, of their rights to speak and be heard, of their rights to vote, of their rights to equality and justice. Democracy is indispensible if we truly aspire world peace.

Of course, America is different from the Philippines. The left and right pundits may argue, I am comparing oranges to apples. However, that comparison only applies to wealth, to standard of living, to quality education; but, if we just stick to democracy; democracy is democracy. Democracy.

Democracy in the United States means liberty and justice for all. It is the breadth and depth of America’s soul.

Personally, in my English (rhetoric) class at the University of Hawai’i’s Kapiolani Community College in 2014, I had the privilege to recite the Gettysburg Address of United States former president Abraham Lincoln (as an academic requirement). Frankly, I used not to have an American dream (simply because, I had to leave my entire family in Manila to join my husband here in Hawai’i). However, that recitation led me to one. And that is to earn my JD (Juris Doctor) in an American institution and to be an attorney for the less privileged who are deprived of equal access to justice.

Regardless, please allow me to conclude by sharing to you the Gettysburg Address courtesy of Cornell University. May it continue to serve, guide, and inspire all Americans today, tomorrow, and beyond:

“President Lincoln delivered the 272 word Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania,” (RMC, Cornell, 2020)

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”




Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Adams County, Pennsylvania

Merriam Webster. (2020)
The Nicholas H. Noyes Collection of Historical Americana in the Cornell University Library. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1951.
John Mason Potter. “The Gettysburg Address.” The Cornell Library Journal, Winter 1966, no. 1.

Rare and Manuscript Collection. (2020). Transcript of Cornell University Copy. Cornell University. Retrieved from

The Library of Congress


Pursuing Education Amid Covid-19

Courtesy of St. John Vianney School


(Update on October 14, 2020)


It is a big relief to complete the Spring Semester of 2020 amid the menacing of Covid-19. I am grateful to my Alma Mater, the University of Hawai’i (UH) system particularly, the Kapiolani Community College and UH West Oahu for the two associate degrees: one in science (accounting), and another in arts (liberal arts), for which I will be awarded this August; while my bachelor is upcoming next Spring, sometime in May. Sadly, due to Corona virus, we, the graduates, did not have any ceremony to attend, no celebration to party and be merry due to stay-home orders.  However, despite all the impacts of pandemic in our lives, modesty aside, I refuse to be considered as a victim for the very reason that whatever I earned in academia cannot be taken away by Covid-19.

Thus, with all honesty, I do not feel bad missing the graduation ceremony at all. Simply because, I am confident of owning the knowledge and wisdom I learned and earned in pursuing my undergraduate degrees. Although my heart goes to our youngsters, who worked so hard to attain education, and then they miss marching on stage being in caps and gowns, and tassels too. For there is a great sense of fulfillment in every graduation; Regardless of the level education, it is a milestone in one’s life worthy of celebration with our loved ones, families, and friends.

Moreover, marching on stage is monumental; because it marks an achievement. It takes a lot of work to pursue a degree. Being in college requires more than thousands worth of student loan. It likewise demands hard work, perseverance, determination and/or strong will, tenacity and faith. 

Personally, to be in college in my forties is very challenging. Every subject or course is a mountain to climb. For example, in College Algebra, which I took two courses (one is a required lab) this last Fall of 2019; For both courses, I must write every concept extensively. Often, I cannot afford to look at my hands and fingers because they look like ginger to me already. Seriously, I must be in class three days in a week and spend four-hundred-eighty (480) hours in classroom just for those courses alone. Note that I also took at that time two Geology courses (with required lab too), and Audit as well. So, from Monday to Friday, I was at UH West Oahu (as early as 8:00 in the morning and as late as 7:30 at night). Going back to algebra, I must watch my professor’s videos every week—repeatedly–for at least eighteen (18) weeks. Likewise, I must turn in assignments for every chapter on time each week (one in paper and another in MyMath Lab). Last, but not least, I must earn at least B in four (4) exams (no calculator was allowed except in the final exam) followed by doing four (4) extra credits exercises to secure a decent grade. Because if I earned B in one, I also earned only B for the other. I struggled really hard with law school in my mind. Admittedly, math was tough, and the work was brutal.  But with perseverance and faith, thank goodness! I earned what I aimed.

A moot class room in William Richardson School of Law

In our Audit class, we also have a lab on Pearson, where we worked on a weekly assignment online. And because, there was an ethics component to it, we must write in the language of business ethics. We must be proficient (at least) with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), various ethical frameworks, all concepts, and principles in intermediate accounting, along with business law. I must read and reread each chapter and worked on end-of-chapter exercises to survive the class decently. 

In our History of Economics class, we must know beyond the rudimentary of economics, we must study great economists, such as Adam Smith (the father of economics), Karl Max, John Maynard Keynes, and many more others, along with their scientific theories. And in class, we have essay exams in which we must write in strict academic standards live, and we were timed.

Most importantly, we must be present and engaged in every class and in every subject because attendance is graded. I believe that alone speaks of our commitment to learning. Also, it speaks of our determination, our will to achieve our dreams. One of my favorite writing professors once say, “Aina, you have to come to class every day, not unless you are dying.” quite a tough love—but still it is love, so I am thankful for the wisdom and of course, my professor.

To end, Covid-19’s impacts in our lives are pervasive and unprecedented. In this Spring 2020, amongst the academic community, we, students are forced to study through distant learning. I took three (3) upper courses of Financial Management, Statistics, and Business Intelligence. Challenged by anxiety caused by the pandemic and the given demands of full-time employment, I barely survived. But amid it all, I am not bitter considering the lessons we learned (e.g. What matters, is not the letter grade but our perseverance to achieve something great. Likewise, we learned that we are all unprepared for the contagion. Responsible parties fell short in addressing the crisis). To my fellow graduates of 2020, missing the ceremony is to ensure everyone’s safety. By taking our courses online; by us following stay-home-orders and social distancing, we paid our fair shares in dealing with the crisis. Lastly, know that what we learned and earned cannot be taken away by the pandemic. For along the knowledge and wisdom, we also attained the very invaluable true grit. Let none hinder us from achieving more. “Kulia I ka nu’u,” says my Alma Mater, which means strive for the highest. Because by striving for knowledge and doing things meaningfully such as pursuing college regardless of our individual challenges and especially during a crisis, we create and/or sustain an educated society.

James and Abigail Campbell Library, University of Hawai’i West Oahu

Burning Earth

(Updated 10/18/2020, 06:57 HST)

We just completed the Fall 2019 semester at University of Hawai’i West Oahu. Among the many invaluable skills and knowledge (I gained), it was the scholastic understanding of climate change that I appreciated the most. Likewise, it was inspiring to witness firsthand, how the academic and science communities took stance and the lead in addressing this highly significant issue of our times.

As a scholar of science, it’s hard to fathom why there are still many of us, including leaders, who claim it’s not happening. Maybe not all could sense the urgency; but to denounce or ignore the science community, is to deny Mother Earth of the solutions.

The consequences of global warming are too dire and pervasive, as they affect our ways of living. In fact one country that is so impacted, is about to lose its place on the globe, Vanuatu. Have you heard of climate change refugees? I know the words alone sound too depressing; but that’s how mean climate change is to humanity.

In brief, Vanuatu sits in the Pacific and sinks 6mm per year–faster than any other country –due to rising sea levels (UN, 2015). Mostly Melanesians, the Vanuatu’s people (with roughly 296,000 of them according to United Nations) are facing threats of losing their homes, their very country, and perhaps their heritage (2015).

Similarly, millions of people living in coastal communities around the world are under threat from fast rising sea levels. The consequences include threats to the quality of our lives, to our health, to our properties, to our sources of living, and even the existence of many marine species–those too are in jeopardy.

Note that the issue is not that we don’t know the solutions. Neither, we can’t do anything to any of our wrongdoing. The missing piece in addressing this dilemma, is our unanimous will. But to find out, if we can solve this problem, we have to refer ourselves to other global threats, which we successfully addressed.

For example, although in the nearly 14,000 years of world’s battle with smallpox (CDC, 2016); and millions including kings and queens died from the disease: The vaccine was finally developed by the English physician, Edward Jenner in 1796. It was delivered house to house in billions of arms (CDC, 2016). Consequently, in 1980, “the World Health Assembly announced its complete eradication,” (CDC, 2016). Also, most recently, we contained the outbreak of another deadly virus, ebola that started and spread in Africa. Amid its ”discovery in 1976” (CDC, 2018); and only just few hours ago (as of press time) that “the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine;” but again, we were able to addressed ebola threats effectively. So, why can’t we bring that same passion in dealing with the issues of climate change? Is it procrastination? Underestimation? Complacency? Or denial?

Personally, there’s guilt and shame to hear a 16-year old girl taunt us that we “sold” their generation–and I can’t blame her for the frustration. But it is my hope to find the answers to my questions through writing this series. The first one is below. It is an informal academic piece submitted last December 2, 2019.




Burning Earth: Endangered Oceans and Coasts

Courtesy of Yale 360. (2)

From corals, to fishes and other marine life dying, to coastal communities losing properties and their sources of living: Climate change’s lethal impacts are getting ubiquitous in the oceans and coasts all over the world. Worse, the consensus among scientists, is that the rising temperature is showing no retreat (NASA, 2019). And we, humans are responsible (NASA, 2019).

“Seventy-one-percent of the Earth is covered by the oceans,” (Johnson et al, 2017). Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise most of CO₂ we caused the atmosphere ends up in the ocean, in which millions of species depend to us for survival. However, note that we also depend on the ocean for our diet and commerce to name few.

Regardless, on September 24, 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported, “global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970. . . [And] Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled. [Moreover,] marine heatwaves have very likely doubled since 1982 and are increasing intensity. [And that] By absorbing more CO₂, the ocean has undergone increasing surface acidification. A loss of oxygen, salinity intrusion, and sea level rise have [also] occurred,” (IPCC, 2019).

Accordingly, in class, we learned through rigorous academic works using scientific materials and processes the real-life “horrors” of global warming. To name few, we learned that due to warmer ocean waters and acidification: The corals (considered as the back bone of the ocean) suffer losing their skeletons. As algae abandon them due to warm water; They turn weak and bleached. Unable to fight diseases eventually, they die. Likewise, shellfishes are either born without shells or they easily lose their shells; while other, smaller marine species dissolve. Aren’t their lives as important as ours?

Worse, some of these issues are getting personal. Because say for example, the corals: In Hawai’i, we only have roughly fifteen. So, to learn that those in Maui are already suffering the effects of global warming, is devastating.

Also, on rising sea levels, most of our coastal communities here, in Oahu, are threatened by beach erosion—and we are talking of billions of dollars’ worth of properties. Sadly, the only solutions to their problem: One, to bear the hefty cost of yearly sand replenishment. Two, to build a jetty, and destroy their good relationship with their neighbors. Three, to build a seawall, and give up the beach. But none of those solutions, is cheap and favorable to coastal home or property owners.

So, to say that global warming is a myth: We are undermining the sufferings of those greatly affected. And although the rocks in Africa speak of climate change as old as antiquity; its current rate of acceleration is unprecedented. Lastly, the causes back then were natural; and now, it’s man made. We should really hold ourselves accountable.





Aguirre-Villegas, H., & Benson, C. (2017). Case History of Environmental Impacts of an Indonesian Coal Supply Chain. Journal of Cleaner Production, 157(C), 47-56.

Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. (2018). History of Ebola Virus Disease.

Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. (2016). History of Smallpox.

Central Intelligence Agency. (2019). World Fact Book, South Asia: India. Retrieved from

Earl, S. Physical Geology OER Textbook. (2015) BC Campus OpenEd.

Johnson, Chris, Matthew D. Affolter, Paul Inkenbrandt, and Cam Mosher. (2017). An Introduction to Geology. Salt Lake Community College. Retrieved from

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2019). The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate: Summary of Policy Maker, pgs. 10-15. Retrieved from

National Atmospheric and Space Administration. (2019). Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Retrieved from

Schwarzenegger, Arnold, James Cameron. (2016). Years of Living Dangerously Season 2. Los Angeles, CA: National Geographic Channel.

United Nations. (2015). Vanuatu.

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale Environment 360. (2019). E360 Digest: Global Warming Causing Profound Changes to the World’s Oceans, Scientists Warn. Retrieved from








The Yule tradition became official during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1860 (Today’s Farmer, 2011). However, back then, it was more of a culmination of long held traditions around the world and in celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ during Winter Solstice.

In Germany, Christmas tree decorations began in 1820 (Today’s Farmer, 2011), when German families displayed trees with tidings for merriment and memories. Note that this tradition was passed to English when the former’s Prince Albert married Queen Victoria.

(Image courtesy of On Christmas: S’mores and love for all.

A decade after, in 1830, an English man named John Calcott Horsley created Christmas cards (Today’s Farmer, 2011). At almost the same time, caroling likewise started in England, where talented vagabonds knocked on fancy doors of the affluent for minutes of heartfelt carols in exchange of hot meals.

(Image courtesy of Nothing is more precious than the love we share on Christmas Day.

Among the Norse, as early as the Seventeenth-century, Yule was celebrated as a comeback of the sun (Today’s Farmers, 2011). Then Norse families feast over burning logs, which were labored and cut—with love—by the men in the house.

In Rome, slaves have a month (although later reduced to a week) of role playing as masters in celebration of Saturnalia (the Romans god of agriculture). Which according to, “Peasants were in command of the city; while businesses and schools were closed so everyone could join the fun,” (2009).

(Image courtesy of Sweeter than the cookies, are the Christmasing hearts that care.

Here, in the United States, every Christmas season, there were approximately 30 to 35 million trees being sold (History, 2009). While busy, working American parents took advantage of the federal holiday (since 1870) to make up for the lost times with their precious tots.

Be as it may, the key figure of Christmas—other than Jesus, is Santa Claus, who according to folklore was a Turkish monk. He was born 280 A. D, and was known for his faith and kindness (Today’s Farmers, 2011). He became phenomenal when he saved three girls from being sold by their father by leaving them with bags of golds (Today’s Farmers, 2011).

(Image courtesy of Taller than Christmas trees are kind thoughts always there all along.

Lastly, regardless of any traditions, what makes Christmas very special, are the hearts we put to celebrate the occasion. As it speaks of our inspiring ability (oh yes, we can) to set aside our innate selfish sides; as we immense ourselves to giving, to fellowship with our inner circles.

And so from the gifts, to trees and tidings, to dinners—everything we do in spirit of Yule, is truly extraordinary–and a blessing to cherish. That unknowingly, we achieve the seemingly elusive peace on individual level by simply thinking more of others than ourselves.

Without further ado, Merry Christmas all! And Happy New Year too.


Editors. (2009). History of Christmas. History Channel.

Moroz, Ded. (2011). Christmases. Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture. Sage.

Today’s Farmers. (2011). The Traditions of Christmas. History Channel.

YouTube/It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas/Pentatonix

Precious in the godless World of Nietzsche and Sartre


(All copyrights of the image above belongs to Richard Crouse (subject to fair use.)

In the godless world of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, we are completely on our own. And because morality does not exist, life is brutal all the time. But amid its brutality, we always have a choice. We can resist evil (anything harmful to us) or walk away safe, sane and sound—and take the call–just as how Precious in the 2009 movie should have long done for herself.

In brief: Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a fictional character in the novel Push by Sapphire. (Natividad, 2010, p. 339) She is a sixteen-years-old, African-American descent, who is born and raised in Harlem, New York. She is overweight and quite vulgar for her age.  Almost illiterate, she has been behaving badly at school as influenced by domestic violence ongoing at home.  She is pregnant with her second child through incest by her father; while she is verbally, physically, and emotionally abused by her mother (Mo’Nique). Worse, her dad had caused her HIV; and her mom is capitalizing her and Mongol, her eldest daughter to finance her mother’s bum ways of living (on welfare). It’s disturbing to see Precious has endured it all.

Nonetheless, this film is telling us, how a bad call can take a toll to one’s being; how domestic abuse is fatally dangerous; how dysfunctional concerns could lead to moral catastrophes. Furthermore , the movie tells us home is not always sweet as we’d like it to be. That our domestic life can either make or break us. However, amid the strife, it doesn’t mean we have to embrace and endure evil. This movie tells us that if our families or anybody are causing us harm more than good; we can stand on our own, or we can treat our friends, classmates, or others as our extended families, if we are really seeking a sense of belonging.

Thus, if Precious is trying to find essence in her life, in Page 319, Sartre argues that “existence precedes essence” (2000). What it means to me, is that we’re born into this meaningless world—and it’s all up to us to find the meaning as we’d like them to be. That if we do aim for it, we have to work for it or create it ourselves. But regardless how we should never let anyone define our lives (like how Mary humiliates her daughter). Neither, let our tribulations (like the incest Precious has endured) limit us to who we can become. Because if we do, Sartre (2000) says we’re engaging into “self-deception” (also known as bad faith). Apparently, people who engage into such, are scared to define themselves as they are as supposed to; so they let others define them.

Finally, it’s relieving to see Precious fight Mary and walk away with her two children in her arms. I feel a sense of joy in seeing her overcome bad faith. Although she is placed only in eight-grade, what matters, is that she’s now safe and free, and she has a good chance to be happy. On the other hand, I’m disappointed to watch the evil character of a mother in Mary. I find her so pathetic to talk about her insecurities and her irrational love for a worthless man. Imagine if all women are like her, perhaps it’s impossible to win our war against the misogynistic world. Thank goodness, there other characters in the film such as Ms. Blue Rain (Paula Patton) and Ms. Weiss (Mariah Carey) who are educated and sensible that they made a difference in Precious’ life and those of others.

Last, but not least, no matter how damaging the injuries Precious has sustained from her parents, change for the better is never too late. Walking away from Mary is the best thing she has done for herself. Although it doesn’t mean that her struggles are over, for she still has to raise her kids, she also needs to deal with the HIV, and she does not have a job and no home to stay–but still, it’s okay. Because she’s heading towards a better life. Also, if she remains in that house with Mary, she’s not only punishing herself, but she’s tolerating Mary’s evilness. In the first place, she has to consider her kids for they need her protection, care, and love. It’s impossible to provide those and raise them well if she stays there. As for Mary, I can’t say that she’s too old to change. However, I doubt if she has the guts to face her verdicts in life. If she doesn’t face imprisonment for what she has caused her daughter: She needs a therapist. But more than the therapist, she needs a job.

To end, in the godless world of Nietzsche and Sartre, we are the gods to ourselves. We are empowered by our knowledge, by our judgment, by our tenacity to create a meaningful life. Indeed, we are the products of the choices we make. That if we are dealing with any demons on earth, our responsibility to ourselves, is either to fight them, or we can walk away in peace; but never to endure. For enduring evil is not resilience; it’s insanity. We need to have a good grip of our self-worth– because we are all Precious and worthy of all the best things in life. To fellow women, gone are the days that we are a minority to men. We must say “No” if we do mean no. We must be relentless in pushing ourselves to greatness, by achieving education, by building a meaningful career, by enriching our passion,  or by fulfilling our roles to our respective homes to the best of our abilities and sound judgment.


Daniels, L., & Fletcher F. S. (2008). Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire [Motion Picture]. United States: Lions Gate Studio.

Natividad, A. (2010). Movie Review: Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 5(3), 339-342.

Sterba, James P. (2000). Ethics: Classical Western Texts in Feminists and Cultural Perspectives: Oxford University Press.

What Living Together With Animals Means

Animals have long endured cruelty from us, humans. In fact, the most diabolical genocide in the history is not of humanity; but by humanity to animals. But the most morally horrifying part isn’t about the beatings nor violence they endure; Rather, those who consume and inflict them with pain are justifying their inhumane acts by their crooked reasoning that animals are ineligible of any legal entitlement. Thus, such devious belief can make animals forever vulnerable to human injustices. For example, the stance of the University of Michigan Philosophy Professor Carl Cohen, who in Page 420 of Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus 4th Edition contends that rights are only for humans. Apparently, Cohen is talking about the statutory definition of rights, which of course, will automatically disqualify animals in most situations. However, in utilitarian ethics, we learn that there is a kind of right that leads us to common good. And that’s the kind of entitlement animals deserve.

Hence, I believe there’s a rationale behind naming state funded animal rights advocates as Humane Societies versus Commission on Animal Rights. Because with the first, it’s clear: We should regard animals with care as we co-exist with them. In fact, we domesticated some of them; and we even give our pets names. Having said this, it means we consider them part of our households, which makes them entitled to rights against violence.

On animal farming and agriculture, I agree with Tom Regan (p. 414) “what’s fundamentally wrong, is the entire system,” (p. 414) which views “animals as our resources” (p. 414). Regan has been out all over the world for his advocacy against animal abuse and exploitation. (Hinman, 1996, p. 413) He’s not attacking anyone, but he hopes to correct the system. I agree with most of his arguments; because animal farming is indeed unhealthy for the environment and our body. Although they are the best sources of protein, they are main contributors of major diseases (e.g. consumption of their fats increases our cholesterol levels, which could lead to heart attack, high blood pressure, athritis, thyroidism and etcetera).

Nonetheless, I am truly with Regan in his war against animal abuse and exploitation. However, I am also realistic that the horrors of animal farming are too ingrained in our ways of living. That I hear the task to correct, is larger than life. But it doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything. We can if we will. For there’s a tiny step that we can do as consumers, that is to ensure that animal farming and agriculture leading to food production are processed or handled with care, which is for our own safety too. 

Thus, if we are to synthesize the lessons of deontology (ethics based on duty) and utilitarian perspectives (ethics based on common good), and if we apply them in our ways of living with animals, it will lead us to the just understanding and conviction: We should treat animals like how we wanted to be treated. We do this for our happiness and peace of mind; so we treat them with dignity.

Therefore, in the case of domestic ones, having them as part of our household; they’re but entitled to our affection and care. Perhaps that’s how we show them our emotional ways.  What’s even better, given time: They can reciprocate endearment:

In regards to livestock, although they’re safe for human consumption, it’s for our own sake as consumers, to ensure sound and sanitary food production. Sadly, that’s not the case most of the time, for many agricultural farmers have even resorted to GMO (genetically modified organism) for artificial and asexual reproduction, and for profit. As a result of genetic engineering, animal offsprings are born inflicted of deformities.

Bottom line, if it’s okay for animals to attack us, bite us, inflict us of rabies, perhaps we are warranted to deprive them of rights. But in reality, we do not condone their jungle ways. We even sue their handlers for their predatory behaviors. We expect them to learn our human ways, and yet we treat them inhumane–why?

Finally, it’s implausible to legislate The Jellyfishes Bill of Rights, and Crime Against Arachnids, and to grant crabs of their Freedom of Speech–but we’re humans. We’re capable of intellect, morals and compassion.Hence, it’s but common sense, to live in accordance to normative human behaviors. It requires us to think and put ethics into action for that will always lead us to the common good. That even in the midst of complicated societal dilemmas, our moral compasses built from our understanding of virtue, duty, and care, we will arrive in a just destination that is fair and equitable be among humans and animals, and be on living or non-living things. Because living together with animals means, we live with them our human ways.


Hinman, Lawrence M. Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.

Warranted Death

Warranted Death

Is capital punishment warranted? Or is “the death penalty overdoing it” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151)? Are murderers entitled to compassion? Those who argue for commutation (or for life), would usually appeal to our emotions without realizing their hindering justice. For as Yale computer science professor, David Gelernter stresses “In executing murderers, we should be declaring [as a society] that deliberate murder is evil and intolerable,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 154). For indeed, it is. Worse, such crimes are humiliation to God-fearing communities and an insult to a “civilized society” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151).

Thus, those who critique Gelernter, as being once a victim of a heinous crime that he’s just bitter–(Hinman, 2013, p. 147) are wrong. In fact, Gelernter even emphasizes that “If our goal were [solely] vengeance, we would allow the grieving parties to decide,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). Sadly, if that happens, “We would call the whole thing off,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). From this statement alone we can infer, despite all the injuries (of his soul and body) that he sustained, to this day, Gelernter remains constructive and not vindictive.

For the truth is, “Our big cities are full murders at large” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152).  What’s more alarming, “political scientist John J. Dilulio, Jr.” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152) claims approximately half-a-million murders are happening in the United States. (Hinman, 2013, p. 152) And again, Gelernter could be right that we are to blame. One best justification is the case of “Theodore Kaczynski” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151). Amid “pleading guilty (in three murder cases) and striking anew;” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151) he continue to cast his horrors and terrors in the society; but he “will not be executed,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151) why? Undoubtedly, emotion is such a good criminal attorney.

In regards to Jeffrey Reiman’s opposition to death penalty, as Gelernter strongly argues, it’s not about vengeance. Hence, I disagree with his commentary in Page 156. That to justify capital punishment, we have to apply the adage: “An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth . . . ” (Hinman, 2013. For as a society, we need not justify ourselves in asserting our rights.

Finally, capital punishment is a strong consensual statement; and there’s no turning back. For the death penalty aims not just to give justice to a loss of life, but to ensure the safety of many. Now, with commutations here and there, perhaps we should reflect: Are we truly being human? Because it seems the other way around. For what could be more cruel and inhumane than to put others at risk? Just because we sympathize with one, we can disregard what happened and the likelihood of its recurrence? Perhaps when in doubt: We need to think deeper and feel broader, to find murder as a crime against all of us. For indeed, in executing capital punishment–we have the moral obligation to declare: “Deliberate murder is evil and intolerable” (Hinman, 2013, p. 154). And we don’t have room for such.




Hinman, Lawrence M. (2013). Contemporary Moral Issues Diversity and Consensus, 146-151.