Alex Maskara

Thoughts, Stories, Imagination of Filipino American Alex Maskara

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Four Students

Four Students



Getting Back in the Game – Technology

Getting Back in the Game – Technology
So, here is my current situation: I am in my late fifties, slowing down with my health field-related work but not ready to abandon the workforce. I will most likely retire kicking and fighting because I am one of those who wants to move all the time. Or do something all the time. I have witnessed people whose bodies have shut down after they quit their job without replacing it with an activity that gives them a reason to get up in the morning. That is what I want to do after I retire – I would wake up, brew coffee; then I would exercise with weights, jog, walk, garden, any activity safe and moderate. By noon, I would shower and eat lunch. By pm, I’d sit by my desk or in the library to continue the tasks I am passionate about – reading, writing, programming. By evening it will be a resting or relaxation time. These are what I plan to do when I am retired.
Technology will be a big part of my twilight years. I fully embrace it but to a point. Tech at least to me, involves computers, web designing, programming. I am not a social network guy because I am not exactly a ‘people-person’. There are introverts in the world who feel happier being alone while tinkering in solitary pursuits that excite them. So – while the rest of my friends are busy snapping pictures to post on FB, here I am hidden in my room studying Django, ROR, Python, web frameworks like WordPress, Joomla, etc. Programming languages are not hard to learn, it is their application in the field that can be hard. What is the point of learning something if you don’t apply it in your daily life?
I also love reading technology books and about men and women involved in science and technology. Being Filipino by birth I tend to compare the Philippines with other countries when it comes to its outputs of intellectual, technology, research, and development. Without self-deprecation, the Philippines is way behind other countries in the area. Ranked 68th out of 91 countries.
United States 511.1 2.744% 1,586.35 2016 [2]
China 451.9 2.107% 321.99 2016 [2]
European Union 379.0 1.64% 658.94 2016 [2]
Japan 165.7 3.147% 1,297.39 2016 [2]
Germany 118.8 2.94% 1,450.17 2016 [2]
South Korea 91.6 4.292% 1,518.47 2014 [3]
India 66.5 0.85% 39.37 2015 [4]
And the Philippines?
Philippines 0.48 0.11% 5.4 2007
And the year this was recorded was in 2007.
RP spent .11% of its GDP compared to top-ranked USA which spent 2.744% of its GDP. That is a big gap.
And when it comes to patents, the Philippines registered around 45 in 2017, Japan (#1) more than 5000.
And when it comes to university ranking, not one university in RP was considered in the top 200 universities of Asia.
Which begs the question – are we Pinoys poor in RandD and patent outputs because we are culturally disinclined to sit inside laboratories or garages or schools or libraries to create new inventions or ideas or technologies? Are we lazy? Are we content with the little things we got? Are we inferior and not genetically designed to be at the forefront of new ideas? Are we afraid to disrupt the status quo?
Time and time again I hear the lament of a few Pinoys about the status of Philippine intellect. The RP TV shows are prime examples. I hardly watch them but on a few occasions I do, I quickly turn them off because I feel embarrassed, humiliated and idiotic. (This is my reaction, not a general reaction) but how long can someone be immersed into the slapstick comedy-variety shows before any serious talk can take over? How do these shows influence the brains of a child watching them? It is made worse by the widespread use of social media/text/email technologies depriving people (globally) of deep thinking and profound conversations. A few photos with some quick lines, a little biblical quotation, a lot of artificial self-made media projecting an artificial life, tweeting in a few words. I know I belong to an older generation but I still like to read ideas with in-depth presentation no matter how long-winding its words and sentences are. Human brains can handle very complex things. To oversimplify matters for the sake of making it easy denies mental exercises. I call it dumbing down just to get more attention (or ‘likes’). I do not like passive and shallow ideas presented to me. That is why I like the complexity, the mental anguish, frustration and eureka joy of computer programming. It challenges my mental logic and organization all the time.
I am reading a book: Loonshot by Safi Bachall. This book narrates how technology was nurtured and harnessed in the US through the hard work of its players (researchers, inventors, creators) and the government through the many sciences, tech, research bodies it supported and funded. From the start, Americans were keen on inventing things, harnessing them and deploying them from garages, labs, universities, fields to the military, commercial establishments, government. The was NASA, DARPA, NSA etcetera. Most of the inventions were very much out of necessity (like the invention of the atomic bomb), an invention of the computer (for automation of repeated tasks), the invention of the transistor (and its many transitions, i.e. vacuum tubes), internet. But what this comes down to, fundamentally, is the inherent nature of the American as a creator and inventor. I guess it is the child of his Individualism – a need to invent things because he stands alone facing the world and its challenges. But there is a different angle to consider here.
For thousands of years the top intellects, inventors, creators originated in Asia – China, India, Arabic Region. But soon these areas became too big that they turned more into ‘big’ projects and downplayed the smaller endeavors of individuals and smaller groups. Many companies have similar fates: Bell Labs, Kodak, Polaroid, IBM, Sears, to name a few now, their mistake was failing to encourage and nurture loonshot ideas – ideas that seem to be so crazy but became hot items later on.
Remember the days when people considered online stores as fads and no one would deal with them because no one trusts sending out their credit card info through internet? That was true with paypal.
Or the days when the US post office scoffed at the idea of emails and paying bills via post office (no one thought about money transactions via internet)
No one thought well of e-books.
No one thought the personal computer would get smaller than a room or its use won’t go any further than automating tasks and mainframes and what? A personal computer? Ha!
This book had so many examples that included the radar, the discovery of statins, medications for certain diseases such as RA that turned out to be useful for other conditions, medications that used to target proteins until someone thought of using protein to target other proteins, again, at their inceptions, these ideas sounded crazy and largely ignored until some lucky fellow picked them up and developed them to high profits.
Examples of missed opportunities included the failure of the East to make use of what they have discovered thousands of years but failed to pursue them (i.e, Keppler and the orbits of planets). And of course, luck – discovery of steam engine in England instead of another European or Asian country. And on and on and on.
Now, going back to my initial point, ideas whether crazy or not seem to be lacking in the good old Philippines. I mean we do have crazy ideas but it’s all about politics and entertainment and as far as these are concerned, they have the same script and system employed by the same old big media companies and political dynasties, which, in their greed to make profits or get more votes, subject their audience and voters to same well-tested, usual formulas. The outcome is obvious: the Philippine society is stuck to the same old soundbites, dramas, programs, language, ideas that have never deviated from its beginning. Therefore, same politicians wearing different cloaks are voted like assembly line products. A proof of this is the transition of politicians from fathers to children to grandchildren becoming a dynasty. And in entertainment? Dolphy started the gay-drag-queen slap stick forcing out laughter from thier audience. That has never changed.
Today we lament why Filipinos haven’t gotten over the same old same culture, attitude, engagement in their world. Why we love beauty contest women instead of women with brain powers, why we get so crazy about one sport but not the Olympics, why we get immersed in the latest technology without anyone inventing any part of it. We are, at best, consumers or users, not the producers or app builders. We value our education on degrees and board exams instead of actual research and development and its application in the field. So far, I have yet to read a Filipino bestselling novel.
2020-11-22 18:19:34

Intramuros 1

Pasig River


A Visit to Quiapo with El Fili2

Visiting Quiapo with El Fili

The Very Thought of You


Visions of St Lazarus 1

Popong 9

Diary of A Masquerade


Brother, My Brother (Ben Santos)

Popong 8

F Sionil Jose

Four Students - 2

Popong 7 - Meditation

Popong 6 - Meditation

Friday Night Thoughts

Current Interests

Bulosan Syndrome

Maid of Cotton

Popong 5

Popong 4

Current Readings 2

Popong 3

Reading: Name of the Rose

Current Readings

Popong 2

Web Projects

Getting Back in the Game – Technology

Four Students


Last of the Balugas

Introduction To Popong