Friday, October 17, 2008

Pretty = Delicate = Should Not be Abused? Shame on You!

I was a talk show the other day, and I pounced on it as the hosts were carrying out a makeover. Two women were getting their hair done, their skin cleaned, and their wardrobes changed. I wondered if this was one of those random things that showbiz people did to make non-showbiz people feel like queens/kings for a day. Turns out I was wrong.

The women who were being made over were victims of spousal/partner abuse. One complained that her boyfriend spit on her. The other said that her husband made her bathe in his dirty bath water. The point of the show? To make over the women and give them confidence, and then bring them back to their husbands - who would not abuse them because they looked so good.

What kind of values would this show perpetrate? That women are only as good as they look? That women who look good do not deserve to be abused? That confident women do not get abused? Too bad the truth is far less simple than this show assumed.

Abusive men do not abuse wives or girlfriends simply because their significant others are ugly, smell bad, look like hags, or are not confident. Some men abuse because their own fathers abused their own mothers. Some men abuse because they grew up in a culture where abuse is considered manly and necessary. Some men abuse because they feel powerless and out of control, and therefore want to exert their force over their women because they have nowhere else to turn.

And to return these women to the lion's den, when they could have been given counseling and protection! What kind of show advocates the treatment of women as mere objects, as things to look pretty and decorate with the hope that they will not be smashed to smithereens? These women need psychological care - they shouldn't be turned back to their husbands or boyfriends!

And why, in your right mind, woman, would you return to an abusive husband or boyfriend? Forget the makeup. Forget the clothes. Get out - and then remake yourself. Re-earn your self-esteem. Get yourself out of the mud. But first, GET THE HELL OUT OF THAT RELATIONSHIP.

THAT is the best make over that any abused woman would have.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

If Staying in Prison Were This Fun...

Fiilipino prisoners made the world news headlines last year when they came together to perform their version of "Thriller." In this Cebu stronghold, prisoners are reformed through dance and fun, and every month, they have a YouTube dance video to show to the world.

The videos, however, have become fodder for criticism. Shouldn't prisoners be reformed and not given the chance to have fun, some viewers ask? This Cebu jail houses sex offenders and murderers - so shouldn't they live out a harsh sentence? Shouldn't prisoners be given work to do, work that is productive and economically stimulating, instead of dance moves that amount to mouse clicks and nothing else?

Thanks to the prison's techniques, however, people from all over the world have started visiting the prison, and word has gotten out on the peace-loving methods used to reform the prisoners. In my opinion, even a prisoner is human, and is entitled to have some fun - in fact, being required to dance and having to follow strict steps every single month can be hard work. For people who don't like dancing, it can be humiliating. For those who want to learn things on their own, following specific steps can be constraining. Even fun, it appears, can be its own prison.

Is there a chance that this message could show how nice prisons are, and how crime can be tolerated - and how crime can actually lead to one getting the chance to work out and have fun? Such a speculation might not be too farfetched - but the fact is, the dancers are still in a prison. They may learn dance steps and perform to the applause of a world audience - but they still have to go home to their cells, eat poor food, and be away from their families.

Perhaps the message is compassion for those who are still human, but have strayed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Black Swans

Anything that groups people into different categories and makes generalizations about them can hinder creativity. I do know of an exception to groupings, however - that would be me and my boyfriend.

We've been together for over a year now. We're exact opposites in lots of ways, but we've found common ground in many more ways as well. When I look back on everything that we've been through, I find one of my sociology lessons coming to mind.

A theory is only good until it's been disproved. You can theorize that all swans are white - but when someone points out JUST ONE black swan, then your theory falls apart.

I want to say more - but let's just leave it at that. This is an experience, but unlike everyone else who blogs everything down to the last gory detail, I'll be the black swan and I won't.

Here's the exception to the rule. And here, the entry ends.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Language. Culture. Barrier. Problem?

My boyfriend loves free, open source software, not only because it doesn't cost him a cent to use, but because it bucks the trend of capitalism and people making money out of their creations. His operating system is Linux's Ubuntu, which takes its name from the African term for neighborliness and brotherhood. One thread on the Ubuntu forums, however, shows a much less prettier face than one would expect from a brotherhood of software users.

Important Changes to Dell Ubuntu Support


This is just a heads up that Dell has decided that it is too expensive to keep the Ubuntu Technicians in Ottawa on (as well as all the XPS techs and DOC techs from Ottawa). In mid April 100% of the DOC staff and 60% of the XPS staff in Ottawa were let go. The remaining staff, including all the Ubuntu staff were given notice that their jobs are over as of the end of June.

Effective Monday June 9, 2008 all Ubuntu support will be moving from Ottawa, ON, Canada to Pasay, Philippines. What does this mean for you/me? If you have a Dell that shipped with Ubuntu on it, and have anything wrong with it at all, and you want to speak to someone who you can understand, you must call before June 9th.

Now some of you may be wondering how I know this? I was formerly a Dell DOC and later an XPS agent in Ottawa. As such, I still have many friends both on the Ubuntu support queue, and in XPS. The kicker of the whole situation is that Dell is not letting the Ubuntu staff go as of next Monday, instead they are being required to take XPS(hardware and windows support) calls for the last three weeks that the center is open.

What's really strange is that while I worked there, Dell was proud of the percentage of their support staff that were located in North America, but as soon as the US dollar dropped and the economy slowed down, they pulled out (they built and were scheduled to open a second building in Ottawa in April, instead they are closing down and looking for a buyer in a market where there is currently a 25% vacancy rate for commercial buildings). In a way I'm happy that my friends won't have to listen to customers bitching about how they always get India when they call, that was the worst part about working there... when you get a North American on the phone, don't bitch at them about India, they know only too well and all you do is piss them off (and if you called regarding Ubuntu, and didn't get someone in Ottawa, you dialed the wrong number).

Anyhow, I offer a fond farewell salute to the hard working Ubuntu support staff at the Dell Ottawa Call Center, may your job hunts be short and fruitful (and thanks for all the help over the past year)!


This initial post drew a wide variety of reactions: Filipinos began posting on the message boards, saying that although they sympathized with the people who had lost their jobs, Filipinos could understand English well and would therefore serve as good customer service representatives. Other posters claimed that many Filipino call center employees knew English but did not understand the nuances of the language and were therefore ill equipped to deal with the North American market. These same posters often posted messages without bothering to check their grammar or spelling, not to mention their sentence clarity.Tension was, and still is, high on this thread: the message was posted only one day ago, and messages are still trickling in.

There are many ways to view this problem, and there are many perspectives that can come into play and therefore cloud the debates. First, capitalism has taken its toll on many North American companies, and the drive to earn money can rise over and above employee loyalty. With the economic slump, companies have no choice but to try to keep their services without spending a lot on employee compensation - this means taking labor to cheaper places, hence outsourcing. This outsourcing, however, benefits no one but the company: the people who lose their jobs are forced into a job market that has very few openings left in a stagnant economy; while the people who gain them are forced to work long hours, at unholy times, for relatively higher pay in their respective countries. The call center, after all, has to cater to the North American market, so call center employees work from 9 PM to 9 AM in the Philippines.

Call center employees are often tired: they lose sleep, they have to reverse their body clocks, they have no holidays and sometimes have to negotiate for a Christmas break - all for the sake of getting paid about $ 333 a month, a rich sum by Philippine standards. This work, in Marx's words, is alienating: many of the calls follow a script, a prescribed routine; these routines have to be f0llowed strictly, since calls are recorded and monitored. Call center employees may not be working on a factory assembly line or pulling levers and pushing buttons all day, but they are subjected to a new breed of capitalism that silences their protest: money - or the promise of higher pay.

Call center employees are also trained in accent neutralization: they need to take classes to assume a neutral American accent, and they are often trained to understand and recognize idiomatic expressions. The Philippines is also a former American colony, our medium of instruction is English, and English is widely spoken; coupled to cheap labor, the Philippines is fertile ground for call centers to grow. And grow these call centers have.

I find it grossly unfair for people to generalize call center outsourcing and label its new employees as incompetent. Their arguments revolve around lack of knowledge about a culture, and how language is not enough. True, language is not the only way to communicate, but with globalization and a wider audience for American mass media, could we escape knowledge of other peoples' culture? Culture, moreover, is not the be-all and end-all of communication: according to some cultural sociology scholars, culture is a toolbox from which we take different behaviors, actions, reactions, and thought processes. Culture is not a static entity that divides us, but a fluid atmosphere that moves, evolves, changes, and is shared.

I can understand why some North American clients have a difficult time with Indian call center employees. English, when spoken with an Indian accent, can be harder to understand, and Indian culture is not as heavily influenced by American culture as the Philippines' is. Several posters have heaped the Philippines along with India when describing the difficulty of dealing with outsourced call centers; and the Philippines along with China when describing how outsourcing toy making has become dangerous. It is in this anger and fuming that we can see people's underlying conceptions of cultural divides, and how their frustration over a failing economy can unearth old biases once thought to be non-existent.

The other side of the argument, however, is still understandable. Victimized by the capitalist machinery and faced with cheaper labor, the North American labor market has no choice but to fume - and fume it will, invoking stereotypes in the process. In this debate, there are no winners - the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and lines are drawn where there should be none. This forum is only an example of reality. Who is wrong, between the outsourced employees in the Philippines who are taught American culture, and the laid-off employees in North America who show their anger in often hate-laced ways? Can we even get out of this economics-and-capitalism-influenced trap?

The Girl in Me Doth Protest

I have been a debater since high school, and I have always loved speaking in public. There's nothing like the stage of public speaking to get my adrenaline running, and there's nothing like the rich applause of my audience to tell me that I just performed a job well. I was a public speaker all the way through high school and college, and I toured the Philippines along with my fellow professors in order to talk about genetically modified organisms.

I love genetics, see, and it was fun to talk about it to different audiences. I talked about basic genetic engineering before an audience of high school students, lectured on forensic molecular biology in front of high school teachers, and discussed diseases testing with elementary school students.

My emotional downfall came when I started work as a science communication specialist, and I had to talk to other scientists from various countries.

I like using humor in my speeches, and I like using my energy when I speak. I have always gotten good reviews for this energy: students find it contaminating, teachers find it encouraging, and scientists find that it breathes life into otherwise boring science. What I got, however, was a slap in the face.

"You can't use humor - it makes you look nervous."

And thus began my protest against stereotypes. I know myself best, and I know when I am nervous: when I can feel my heart pounding in my throat, when I'm not sure I remember what I'm supposed to say, I become sedate and quieter. But when I know every single word of the concepts that I wish to impart, my brain goes into hyper-drive: I can turn concepts into humor, and I know that I have the gift of imparting knowledge without looking like a stodgy scholar.

"You're a girl, and you're young and attractive. It's hard to take you seriously."

And thus began a fresh protest against stereotypes as these words were uttered by a superior in my company. I felt defeated: I had been born with two X chromosomes, I had a pretty good mix of genes from attractive parents, and I was no more than 26 years old. I had biology against me - and someone, somewhere, had drawn the lines and said that women who were young and pretty had not right to talk. This made me wonder, of course, why I had been pushed into the talking arena in the first place by my critics - and it made me wonder: has stereotyping become so institutionalized in our culture that I could not break out of molds without being chided?

After a month of silently ruminating on the criticism and plotting world domination, I realized that I had come up against an opinion. Some people like sedate speakers who impart an air of serenity. I like energetic speakers who are openly enthusiastic about their subject matter. The matter of me being a young, attractive woman, however, still hurt me. The stereotype runs rampant in Asian cultures, it appears: women are not seen as managers or superiors, and if anything, they are teachers of basic subjects. They cannot claim authority, superiority, or expertise. Pretty women are apparently decorations: they do not have brains, and in the Asian brand of genetics, the "Pretty," "Brains," and "Communication Ability" genes do not occur together.

I may not be the best public speaker in the world, but I know that I can do good things, teach well, and impart learning. How can I fulfill my dreams if I am turned away - if all ears are shut - even before I start talking?

Gates Shut, Eyes Open

You see, but you do not know
That I am more than a woman
in heels and trinkets tiny,
dressed to decorate what she sees as the greater gem

You see a girl to grace your fantasies, a jester to laugh at,
my mouth mere purveyor of words
while the owner is but the wall through which other voices speak

I see a woman who speaks and jests for she knows things you do not
and wishes that you, too, would love learning
and not simply love the sight,
shut the gate,
and watch the speaker

I see a woman who weeps within as your eyes brim with fire
and wishes that you would stop
or look away
or see beyond the borders of your imaginings

Sunday, June 1, 2008

For the WHO?

I came across this article months ago, and I've been raring to blog about it ever since.

Playboy to launch in Philippines as eyes mature Dads

MANILA (Reuters Life!) - Playboy magazine is launching in the Philippines next month and will be targeting mature men who like well-written articles and tasteful photographs of semi-nude women.

"Maxim and FHM are called laddy magazines. We can be called a Dad magazine," Beting Laygo Dolor, Playboy Philippines' editor, told Reuters on Thursday.

"We are targeting a more mature market, Filipino men, 30 and above."

"There will be no full frontal nudity."

Mens' magazines with risque photos are already sold in the Philippines, which despite being a largely Catholic country has a macho culture that encourages promiscuity.

Although rural areas are more conservative, Manila and other large cities have a relaxed attitude to sex.

Dolor, who describes himself as a "bad Catholic", said the religion's values had influenced the decision not to go for a raunchier look for the magazine.

"I don't want to be ashamed to show it to my mother," said the father of four. "I have daughters in their twenties. It's something that I want them to also enjoy. I want them to be proud of their Dad."

Founded in 1953, Playboy has some 20 local editions around the world that cater to local taste rather than simply exporting and translating its U.S. content.


I have to confess. I have everything AGAINST Playboy. I don't see the point of showing skin. I don't like the idea of people lusting after women. I don't like indecency, period.

This article plays on a "traditional" mode of masculinity: men, no matter how old they are, will want to see some skin. Even when they are married to the women of their dreams, even when they are committed, with a family and a stable job, they will still like to see naked women. This mode denigrates both men and women to animals: men become beasts who lust after nakedness and have no sense or maturity, while women are made and fashioned to feed the greed and lust of men. What kind of outfit is Playboy magazine, then? It is nothing but an excuse for art and literature - a business that thrives and feeds on the basest of all human instinct simply because money shouts louder than morals.

I also resent how Playboy aims to make itself a "Dad" magazine. My father would protect me from perverts, he would be angry at me if he caught me watching sex scenes in a film - I grew up with a conservative household that was happy. I would never wish a girl to grow up with a father who looks through Playboy magazines, or a father who exercises his machismo every chance he gets by staring at other women and spending time at girlie bars. I would like a husband who has the same constancy and conservatism of my father, and who is faithful to me as I will be faithful to him. What is Playboy doing to such wishes?

I may be prudish, but I see all girlie magazines as excuses for lust. Playboy hides behind well-written articles and so-called tasteful photographs - but all it is is a magazine designed to feed sexual appetites. What kind of man would read Playboy? What does Playboy think men are? Are men always the lusting, brainless automatons that follow where their greeds lead? What kind of a father would like to read Playboy? Could he even be trusted to take care of his children? When Playboy says it targets a "mature" market, it means an older market, not necessarily a wiser one.

In purportedly going for "Dads", Playboy cultivates a stereotype of the testosterone-drunk male who cannot withstand temptation and is forever doomed to be a victim of his lust. Are men so weak? I hope not.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Advice columns litter the pages of Philippine newspapers. Not all of them are easy to read, of course - many of them can be biting, vitriolic, and painful, and simply because I read them as someone who sympathizes with the letter-writer's situation. On the other hand, advice can often be handed out by someone who tries too hard to claim authority on a subject - and therefore risks alienating readers, not to mention offending them.

The Advice Column that I am blogging about appeared in the Philippine Star, but is not available on the Philippine Star's website. However, some bloggers have picked it up, and they have posted their views along with the original article here
, and here

"How can I find the love of my life?" the letter goes. The author, a medical doctor, starts by listing tips that the writer can follow. The original letter appears in this entry in bold font, and I will critique each point in normal-sized font.

1. Ladies, don’t show your IQ. Guys admire smart girls, but they don’t marry them. If your BF’s car broke down and you repaired it, that’s a blow to his ego. Guys are secretly afraid, too, that they can’t get away with their vices with a very smart girl. So, ladies, play it smart or, rather, play it dumb.

This advice seems to feed into the pre-existing bias of men as the heads of households, the perfect fathers, the always-correct-ever-faultless boyfriend - and the women as the dumb, brainless decorations that should hang on the arms of their powerful men. This can be extremely discouraging for women who are naturally smart: should they pretend that they are silly and stupid, and do smart women stay single because they are smart?

In this tip, the advice giver makes wives appear like idiots and game-players, and makes men appear like power-grabbers who thirst and lust for the smarts over women. Hasn't society changed since the Victorian ages? I believe that men like smart women - or for that matter, women who do not pretend to be someone else. What people won't like, I believe, is someone who pushes his or her smartness on someone else - people don't like arrogance.

2. Find a complementary mate. If you’re a bookish person, you’d like to marry a street-smart guy. If the girl has an average IQ, she’d like to marry an intelligent guy. According to Leil Lowndes, author of wonderful book How to Make Anyone Fall in Love With You, we instinctively look for somebody who complements our weakness. In fact, studies show that dominant firstborns get along well with baby-like last-borns (their personalities mix well). This will bloom into a strong partnership later. Hence, showing what you have that the other lacks can make you attractive to the opposite sex.

If I say that opposites attract, I am invoking a stereotype; if I say that relationships should be between people who have everything in common, I am calling up yet another stereotype. There is no escaping stereotypes, no escaping how I have seen so many exceptions to so many rules. I am an academic, but my boyfriend is not - in fact, he hates school. A friend of mine is about to marry a fellow scientist. My mother and father are exact opposites in many respects, but they still share a lot of things in common. What determines the "opposite" and "common" levels? Do we even need to measure things?

I believe that this is where we start drawing lines: when we look for things to measure, things that are not easy to measure, things that are not even quantifiable or tangible. I did not find someone who would complement my weaknesses - I looked for someone that I could laugh with and be happy with. For me, it did not mean filling out a form and seeing if I was exactly complementary with my boyfriend. Like real life, things are never measured. They just happen.

3. Smile. Studies (yes, studies) have shown that the most effective way to attract the opposite sex is to smile. In a study of 750 encounters between men and women, 56 percent of conversations were initiated by smiling. Flipping the hair for ladies, and taking the direct approach came in second and third in effectivity.

This bloke gets a thousand points for stating the obvious. I wish, however, that he had said that smiling sincerely allows people to make friends - smiling for the sake of catching a man or a woman? Isn't that trying too hard to be happy? Trying too hard to be someone you're not, to please someone that you're not sure about?

4. Be helpful and generous. I know that helping may not be your thing, but nobody likes stingy and thrifty guys. Buy her take-home snacks. Volunteer to help in her work. Do errands for her. Who says you can’t mix work and courting?

Nobody likes ANYONE who is stingy and thrifty. In this world of racism and delineations, no one has any reason to be un-helpful and un-generous.

5. Look near, not far. Again, studies show that the average distance between the homes of future couples is less than five blocks. That means your soul mate is just lurking within walking distance from your home right now. Forget about long-distance affairs. They’re tedious and prone to get intercepted by enterprising girls.

There are thousands of things that are wrong with this statement. In fact, I have been taught not to look for love - but to let it just happen. Someone can come from another country, another continent, another city, another neighborhood, another island - that person is somewhere, and you don't have to even try hard to look. Just let life happen - if you keep on concentrating on looking, you often lose the chance to improve yourself, and to live life and enjoy it.

This advice also seems to limit people to a certain radius, to keep them in their place. I read it as a racist comment: marry within city limits, your true love is near you, don't look too far, anyone who is too far from you is not "soul mate" material and you will not be compatible, whatever compatible means.

This message can benefit from a little tweaking: sometimes, the person meant for you will just come into your life. Don't try too hard with your searching.

Now, as for the long distance relationship thing: I'm in one, and I'm sure there are enterprising people right around my corner and my boyfriend's corner. But we have to be strong enough to resist temptation. Some relationships work, some don't - it isn't always a function of distance. It's a function of emotional maturity - and sometimes, it's just luck (or lack thereof).

6. Don’t date a model. Studies show that most happy couples are about equal or come close in physical attractiveness. Be honest. Look at yourself in the mirror and rate yourself from 1 to 10. If you’re a 6-boy, you should only aim for an 8-girl at most. Look around, 75 percent of couples rank within two points on the attractiveness scale. An average-looking 5-guy shouldn’t go for a 9 or a 10-girl. It’s not possible and doesn’t portend a happy marriage later.

Of course, there are exceptions that tilt the balance: being rich, being influential, or having some other outstanding quality. If an old balding guy is walking with his young and pretty wife, what instantly crosses your mind? That guy is probably filthy rich. Or if you see a handsome guy with an average-looking girl, wow, she must have a nice personality! These are the exceptions but all in all, the attributes balance out.

Not only does this man thrive on racism or the idea of like marrying like (or opposites attracting, we're not really quite sure), he also sees relationships being built on equal attractiveness. What does this advice tell us? That only pretty people should aspire to marrying attractive people - and that the less attractive people should discard any idea of a fairy-tale affair and resign themselves to someone they settle for, not down with. What is attractiveness anyway? Can it be more than a face, a personality, IQ, EQ, or sex appeal? Can it just be something that someone sees in someone else? Can it even be defined or scored?

7. Consider marrying someone in your line of work. In my experience, most doctors end up marrying a doctor. The belief is that it’s difficult for a layperson to understand the doctor’s lifestyle. Being called in the middle of the night and canceling family affairs due to an emergency can put a strain on a marriage. The same is true with other professions. It could be advantageous to marry someone in the same profession as yours.

This makes me wonder about the "complement each other" advice given above. True, doctors will have different personalities, and fellow doctors should marry each other but make sure that they find someone who has a different personality from theirs. Again, this advice speaks of more delineations: not only should people marry those who live close to them, but those who work with them. I believe that a marriage survives not because the spouse knows exactly what the other spouse feels - I believe that marriages succeed because of sympathy and empathy, whether or not your spouse and you come from the same professions.

Again, this advice is a generalization. My parents are from different professions: my father works with an airline and is always on call; my mother works for a membership card telemarketing company as a manager and often spends a lot of time at the office. But they work things out because they are working toward the same goals.

I suppose that's one generalization you can make about marriage: it works when the people in it have the same goals. Marriage is a partnership, not a way to draw lines and erect walls where there should be none. How else can we teach our kids multiculturalism? How can multiculturalism start in a home where the parents are exactly alike in professions, maybe differing in personality, but are from the same place?

8. Ladies, marry before 30. Factoid for ladies: The farther from graduation, the lower are your chances of marrying. Look around and see the multitude of unmarried ladies in their 30s. Even if you have a steady boyfriend, you’re still not safe. Ladies can easily lose their attractiveness during years of hard work.

And when you’re pushing 30, suddenly you’re competing for your BF’s attention with 21-year-olds. My advice: Tie your BF down. Threaten him if you must. Ask support from your parents and marry early. You can earn later. Sorry, but there’s no space for the many sob stories of ladies who lost their BFs to fresher competition.

For guys, your options are open.

Guys are lucky in that as they get older, their stature, confidence, and attractiveness grow. That is why most guys, especially professionals, find it easier to find a partner as they reach middle age. In fact, many Filipinos find a mate even after they’re married! Just the same, I would advise guys to plan (and commit) early.

Here's one of the more disturbing generalizations - if I were reading this with far less confidence than what I possess, I would be scrambling for a mate now. I am 28 years old, and I will turn 29 in less than two weeks. Is my boyfriend looking around for 21 year olds? Am I that old and undesirable? And what is this about marrying now and earning later? Are we again tying women down to marriage, and then telling them to work themselves to the bone later because they married too early - and therefore are not experienced in the job market?

My mother taught me a very important lesson when I was young. She told me to earn my own money and develop my skills because no one wants to live with someone who doesn't know how to work and doesn't know herself. I am learning more and earning more because I want to be a better person - and when I finally settle down and get married and start a family, I will not have any sob stories to tell my children. Such sob stories will probably begin with, "When I was young, I wanted to do so much, but I had to get married because I was afraid that your daddy would leave me and I would never get a boyfriend when I got older - now, I wish I had stayed in school/entered the work force/made myself a better person."

Take note: this advice column was published early this year. I know of so many women back home who married late, but who were successful and had their own cash stash to keep them secure. They were rich and prosperous, they were happy - they didn't care about age. They married at 31, or 32, or 33, and had two or three children - they married and found the loves of their lives.

Sometimes, good things come to those who wait. But this isn't just ordinary waiting: it could be waiting with a twist, waiting by getting that PhD or doing better at work.

Good things come to those who spend their waiting times wisely.

Now there's a generalization I can believe.

9. Pray that you find the right one.

To our readers, no need to be so choosy when finding a mate. Don’t look for a perfect person. There isn’t one. God, however, has a plan for you. Pray for the angels and the cupids to open your mind and heart. Your future partner could be the person seated beside you right now.

I have nothing against this. I'm a devout Catholic. I prayed for my boyfriend to come along, and I'm still praying now. That's what I wish this advice section said: Pray for the best person, and pray for that person who is with you. Pray that if this is meant to be, then your relationship will be strengthened. And if it isn't meant to be, pray that it will end so that you don't waste your time.

That's a generalization meant for older gals like me. Smiles all around!

10. Lastly, there is always blessed singleness if one misses the boat. Anyway, there are lots of advocacies and projects lined up to fill your time. But never say never. A relative of mine postponed her marriage to her BF when she was 30. Then, 25 years later, she reunited with her long-lost BF (still single and now 55) and they finally tied the knot.

I don't even get how this is advice.

This advice column annoyed me (and my boyfriend) for its generalizations, its line drawing, its borders. I don't think you can generalize anything, certainly not finding one's true love, and certainly not on the basis of outmoded beliefs that will work with some relationships, but not with others. What a sting to women everywhere, to be told that they cannot be themselves! What a bite to us who survive in our long distance relationships! What a painful stab to women who are older, but who are making sure that they love themselves first before they start any relationships!

Now I wish I had the chance to write an advice column. How to find your one true love? Pray, hope for the best - and wait.

But enjoy your life and make yourself a better person while waiting.