Dust to Dust

 (Something I wrote in 2nd year College. This was the beginning of my disillusionment with Ateneo)


A Condemnation of Narrow-mindedness, Stupidity and Mediocrity

There is no sin except stupidity.”

Oscar Wilde

 “Nagpaabog lang sila.” (they just gathered dust)

This was how Mr. Buduan, our NSTP coordinator described us, group 3 of NSTP class MC 2B/AB English 2009-2010.

By the end of our NSTP 2, we were able to develop “Linis Batis: A Long Term project,” a project that involves not only the said group but the succeeding groups to be assigned to Purok 2 of Brgy. New Carmen, Tugbok District as well. This legacy of a project, which aims to provide an alternative source of water for the residents of the area by making the nearby stream suitable for domestic use, was developed after a semester of careful deliberation among the group. In its development, we took into consideration not only the needs of the area but the maxim that we learned from NSTP 1 as well: “The group must not only provide for the area, it must facilitate the area’s growth.” We chose it because it was sensible, achievable, timely and, if executed correctly, quite fulfilling.

It was thus not without a bit of resentment that we reflected on how Mr. Buduan described us. Being intellectual students, we put aside, albeit with difficulty our biases and began deconstructing the context in which our considerate coordinator uttered the compliments.

If one observes, he mentioned that the group has “gathered dust,” a euphemism for immobility and, thus, of inactivity. It is most important to note the meaning of this idiom, for with it we shall realize that Mr. Buduan used it to describe lack of action. Because he utilized the idiom derogatorily, it can thus be surmised that he ridicules lack of action itself. Because he used it against us, we can assume that he also ridicules everything that lacks action. To put it in statement, Mr. Buduan, in utilizing an idiom about lack of action derogatorily, thus ridiculing lack of action in general, ridicules everything lacking action.

But lack of action, as we can attest, does not always imply doing nothing. We may have not been acting, but we were doing something: thinking.

We can conclude thus: Mr. Buduan ridiculed us while we were thinking, seeing that we lacked action. In short: Mr. Buduan ridiculed thinking.

At this point, we left the realm of the specific and delved into the general.

This, the group abjectly concluded, was what made Philippine society so rotten: Filipinos hate thinking. We, as a nation obsessed with emotions, hate anything that needs our minds to understand. We want to feel everything: we want action and we want it now. We don’t like imagining or contemplating, we like seeing.

We criticize people who are “puro sat-sat, wala namang kilos” (all talk, no action) without considering the value of that sat-sat. With such atrociously kitsch terms as “sunggocious” and “geek” we alienate ourselves as a society from intellectual discussion.

Oh, and as Mr. Buduan has so kindly demonstrated, we think that if you’re thinking, nagpa-abog ka lang.

It is sad to think that a teacher ridicules thinking. This, our group suggests, is why our nation continues to rot into mediocrity: our very concept of excellence is naught more than decorated mediocrity. Our teachers, instead of seeing to it that students learn, are busy making grades. Our students, instead of sincerely trying to learn from their lessons, only “study” to get high grades…

And our NSTP coordinator and our SICO, instead of supporting students in their aim to give long term solutions to the problems of their area, merely demand physical evidence of action so they can give grades.


If money is the root of all evil, the concept of grades is the root of all Philippine mediocrity.

We, the group 3 of the NSTP class under Mr. Buduan of school year 2009-2010, condemn our coordinator’s promotion of stupidity disguised as “excellence.” We condemn his (and the SICO’s) prioritizing of immediate relief over long term solutions. We condemn his prejudice against thinking without action. Along with his substandard English morphology and syntax, we condemn his (and all other Philippine teachers’) way of teaching, one that is merely focused on grades. We condemn his mediocrity.

We condemn the Ateneo for bragging about 60 years of excellence while allowing such “prophets” of mediocrity as Mr. Buduan to continue teaching uncorrected in the Campus. We condemn its continuing acceptance of prestige despite growing decay in its standards. We condemn its deviance from the Ignatian ideal of excellence by becoming nothing more than a Philippine school. We condemn its mediocrity.

We condemn the Filipino people’s pervading aversion to intellectualism and rational thinking. We condemn it for letting its studying get in the way of its education. We condemn its worship of the immediate while neglecting (and even ridiculing) the ultimate. We condemn it for producing such ridiculous maxims as “Hindi lang sa isip, kundi sa puso.” We condemn its institutionalized and glorified mediocrity.

If the SICO, the Ateneo in general and our nation as a whole do not do something to address this pervading rottenness of intellect in our country, then it is inevitable that our society will continue to rot into mediocrity until it has decayed into nothing more than a barbaric state of un-civilization and stupidity, in other words: dust.

But we don’t expect anything done, though. Oh, no. For to describe the SICO, the Ateneo and the Philippines in terms of addressing this issue, we quote from Mr. Buduan:

Nagpaabog lang sila.




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