The Speech of Soeren Palumbo

The general audience of this blog, Filipinos, at least those in the homeland, aren’t faced with racism the same way those of us outside are, but maybe another form of hate. I’ve heard of this speech before but never gave myself the chance to check it out. Don’t let yourself miss it as well.

Below is the text in case you find it better to read than watch.

The Speech of Soeren Palumbo
I want to tell you a quick story before I start. I was walking through hallways, not minding my own business, listening to the conversations around me. As I passed the front door on my way to my English classroom, I heard the dialogue between two friends nearby. For reasons of privacy, I would rather not give away their race or gender.So the one girl leans to the other, pointing to the back of a young man washing the glass panes of the front door, and says, “Oh my gaw! I think it is so cute that our school brings in the black kids from around the district to wash our windows!” The other girl looked up, widened her slanted Asian eyes and called to the window washer, easily loud enough for him to hear, “Hey, Negro! You missed a spot!” The young man did not turn around. The first girl smiled a bland smile that all white girls – hell, all white people – have and walked on. A group of Mexicans stood by and laughed that high pitch laugh that all of them have.So now it’s your turn. What do you think the black window washer did? What would you do in that situation? Do you think he turned and calmly explained the fallacies of racism and showed the girls the error of their way? That’s the one thing that makes racism, or any discrimination, less powerful in my mind. No matter how biased or bigoted a comment or action may be, the guy can turn around and explain why racism is wrong and, if worst comes to worst, punch ‘em in the face.

Discrimination against those who can defend themselves, obviously, cannot survive. What would be far worse is if we discriminated against those who cannot defend themselves. What then, could be worse than racism?

Look around you and thank God that we don’t live in a world that discriminates and despises those who cannot defend themselves. Thank God that every one of us in this room, in this school hates racism and sexism and by that logic discrimination in general. Thank God that every one in this institution is dedicated to the ideal of mutual respect and love for our fellow human beings. Then pinch yourself for living in a dream. Then pinch the hypocrites sitting next to you. Then pinch the hypocrite that is you.

Pinch yourself once for each time you have looked at one of your fellow human beings with a mental handicap and laughed. Pinch yourself for each and every time you denounced discrimination only to turn and hate those around you without the ability to defend themselves, the only ones around you without the ability to defend themselves. Pinch yourself for each time you have called someone else a “retard”.

If you have been wondering about my opening story, I’ll tell you that it didn’t happen, not as I described it. Can you guess what I changed? No, it wasn’t the focused hate on one person, and no it wasn’t the slanted Asian eyes or cookie cutter features white people have or that shrill Hispanic hyena laugh (yeah, it hurts when people make assumptions about your person and use them against you doesn’t it?).

The girl didn’t say “hey Negro.” There was no black person.

It was a mentally handicapped boy washing the windows. It was “Hey retard.” I removed the word retard. I removed the word that destroys the dignity of our most innocent. I removed the single most hateful word in the entire English language.

I don’t understand why we use the word; I don’t think I ever will.

In such an era of political correctness, why is it that retard is still ok? Why do we allow it? Why don’t we stop using the word? Maybe students can’t handle stopping- I hope that offends you students, it was meant to – but I don’t think the adults, here can either.

Students look at your teacher; look at every member of this faculty. I am willing to bet that every one of them would throw a fit if they heard the word faggot or nigger – hell the word Negro – used in their classroom. But how many of them would raise a finger against the word retard? How many of them have? Teachers, feel free to raise your hand or call attention to yourself through some other means if you have. That’s what I thought. Clearly, this obviously isn’t a problem contained within our age group.

So why am I doing this? Why do I risk being misunderstood and resented by this school’s student body and staff? Because I know how much you can learn from people, all people, even – no, not even, especially – the mentally handicapped.

I know this because every morning I wake up and I come downstairs and I sit across from my sister, quietly eating her cheerio’s. And as I sit down she sets her spoon down on the table and she looks at me, her strawberry blonde hair hanging over her freckled face almost completely hides the question mark shaped scar above her ear from her brain surgery two Christmases ago.

She looks at me and she smiles. She has a beautiful smile; it lights up her face. Her two front teeth are faintly stained from the years of intense epilepsy medication but I don’t notice that anymore. I lean over to her and say, “Good morning, Olivia.” She stares at me for a moment and says quickly, “Good morning, Soeren,” and goes back to her cheerio’s.

I sit there for a minute, thinking about what to say. “What are you going to do at school today, Olivia?” She looks up again. “Gonna see Mista Bee!” she replies loudly, hugging herself slightly and looking up. Mr. B. is her gym teacher and perhaps her favorite man outside of our family on the entire planet and Olivia is thoroughly convinced that she will be having gym class every day of the week. I like to view it as wishful thinking.

She finishes her cheerio’s and grabs her favorite blue backpack and waits for her bus driver, Miss Debbie, who, like clockwork, arrives at our house at exactly 7’o’clock each morning. She gives me a quick hug goodbye and runs excitedly to the bus, ecstatic for another day of school.

And I watch the bus disappear around the turn and I can’t help but remember the jokes. The short bus. The retard rocket. No matter what she does, no matter how much she loves those around her, she will always be the butt of some immature kid’s joke. She will always be the butt of some mature kid’s joke. She will always be the butt of some “adult’s” joke.

By no fault of her own, she will spend her entire life being stared at and judged. Despite the fact that she will never hate, never judge, never make fun of, never hurt, she will never be accepted. That’s why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because I don’t think you understand how much you hurt others when you hate. And maybe you don’t realize that you hate. But that’s what is; your pre-emptive dismissal of them, your dehumanization of them, your mockery of them, it’s nothing but another form of hate.

It’s more hateful than racism, more hateful than sexism, more hateful than anything. I’m doing this so that each and every one of you, student or teacher, thinks before the next time you use the word “retard”, before the next time you shrug off someone else’s use of the word “retard”. Think of the people you hurt, both the mentally handicapped and those who love them.

If you have to, think of my sister. Think about how she can find more happiness in the blowing of a bubble and watching it float away than most of will in our entire lives. Think about how she will always love everyone unconditionally. Think about how she will never hate. Then think about which one of you is “retarded”.

Maybe this has become more of an issue today because society is changing, slowly, to be sure, but changing nonetheless. The mentally handicapped aren’t being locked in their family’s basement anymore.

The mentally handicapped aren’t rotting like criminals in institutions. Our fellow human beings are walking among us, attending school with us, entering the work force with us, asking for nothing but acceptance, giving nothing but love. As we become more accepting and less hateful, more and more handicapped individuals will finally be able to participate in the society that has shunned them for so long. You will see more of them working in places you go, at Dominic’s, at Jewel, at Wal-Mart. Someday, I hope more than anything, one of these people that you see will be my sister.

I want to leave you with one last thought. I didn’t ask to have a mentally handicapped sister. She didn’t choose to be mentally handicapped. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have learned infinitely more from her simple words and love than I have from any classroom of “higher education”. I only hope that, one-day, each of you will open your hearts enough to experience true unconditional love, because that is all any of them want to give. I hope that, someday, someone will love you as much as Olivia loves me. I hope that, someday, you will love somebody as much as I love her. I love you, Olivia.

Soeren Palumbo

All That Talk About Recession

If there was only a time machine to put things back as they were 10 years ago – bright, wonderful, promising – people would’ve probably jumped into it. Sadly, there’s none.

On the onset of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, America allowed its banks to give sub prime loans in order to boost the economy. A move that is now starting to backfire. There is also that problem of oil that has surged to unimaginable amounts this year. Both of these brought a downing value to the dollar which affect people’s spending.

The next forecast is that, once spending declines, businesses will close, people will lose their jobs, many will get hungry. The rich will become the middle class, the middle class will become poor, the poor will die.

Oh yeah, the less graphic way to describe it would be Recession. And where companies have already announced layoffs all over the country, there’s no question when it will happen. It’s already happening.

The problem therefore is, how can you be unaffected by this dwindling economy? Well, there’s not much I could say. Perhaps the only glimmer of light I could tell you is that recession does eliminate the competition, so where everyone is dead and you’re smart, you might actually still succeed.

On a less morbid advise though, you can probably start by asking yourself how secure you are with your job? What other means of income do you have? Did you kiss your boss’ ass lately? What can you do behind his back to rip him off? Why is the employee of the month still alive, maybe he should lose a leg.

Hmmm..

Ok. I shut up now.

TOP 10 EMERGING INFLUENTIAL BLOGS OF 2007

Word has been spreading around the blogosphere about The Top 10 Influential Blogs of 2007. To join you have to post the list in your blog, you will have to link this, and then you will have to comment on that link (and post the link to your list) in order for them to know that you’re participating. Magulo ba?

You can nominate any blog all over the world for as long as it began no later than August 2006. That means you can nominate me!!!

Here’s my list of the Top 10 Influential Blogs of 2007
1. The Philosophical Bastard
The golden rule states: “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” Hence, I can only learn to love others by first loving myself!

2. Pilipinas Street Plan
Astig sila. Gusto ko yung ginagawa nila maski illegal. ahehe

3. Gagopolis
I had been hooked to his articles from the time his mom discovered his porn (may 10, 2007). I have also been to his archives… they’re great.

4. CokskiBlue
The good thing about surfing the blogosphere is you come across unique blogs. I really enjoy watching this guy’s vlogs.

5. The Vegan Prince
I’ve only discovered his blog last week. I scoured his archives and I must say, his blog’s a good read. He’s not eating meat so he can save the animals.. kaya medyo mapapaisip ka rin. (pero mahilig talaga ko sa steak)

6. Instant Pakulo
Meron siyang alagang ipis, si Coman, at yun lang ang basis ko kung bakit ko siya inonominate.

7. Utakgago
I swear you will never think that it is authored by a 16 year old.

8. Greenpinoy.com
Nakakatawa pero hindi overly-derranged.

9. Gibbs Cadiz
Informative at mataas ang entertainment factor.

1o. Kubiyat
It’s amazing how she makes the normalcies of life seem like adventures for her readers.

End notes:
Hindi ako masyadong nag-pay-attention sa requirements so kung may mali paki-korek na lang ako. =)

CALL CENTER CONVERSATIONS

I love talking to marketers, I treat them like they’re my friends. I am especially fond of marketers when I’ve just woken up. Lesson in the animal kingdom: when you wake me up, you deal with me!

This is one of those conversation…

girl: sir, can I take two minutes of your time?
me: sure, but I’ll use two minutes of your time too.
girl: ok sir, (and she begins to explain her product, a long distance phone service to the Philippines)

after explaining…

me: ok, my turn!?
girl: yup, what is it about?
me: (gets a Bible and starts to read the Revelations)

after five minutes…

girl: sir, your two minutes is up.
me: wait, hold on! i’m almost done! (I continue to read)
girl: (waits for awhile again then says) sir, i have alot of other things to do. Are you gonna subscribe or not?
me: (then, out of nowhere) Ok, can I talk to your manager?!

The girl was surprised by my sudden question. I explained to her that I wanted to talk to her manager coz I would like to be assured that my personal information was gonna be safe in case I gave it over the phone. She calls the manager.

manager: hello sir, this is so and so and so on and so forth.
me: I just wanted to be reassured that my personal information wouldn’t go out if in case I subscribed to your long distance…
manager: (explains how the system works)
me: You know, you speak very good english.
manager: Thank you po sir.
me: How about me, do I sound Filipino when I speak english?
manager: no sir.
me: Really!? Y’know there’s gonna be an American Idol auditions here in the weekend. Wanna hear a sample?
manager: ah sir…

I begin to sing even before he could say no. My piece was the infamous Silent Night and I made sure he didn’t like it!

me: Saaaaaylent Nayt. Huuuuli cow. Aaaaall is cam. All iss…
manager: (interrupting my masterpiece) SIR THIS IS A RECORDED CONVERSATION!!! ARE YOU GOING TO SUBSCRIBE OR NOT!?!
me: i’m in a hurry, maybe next time.

BLAG!

BLOGS OF FAVE


look at my eyes! the right (your left) is bigger

Today I woke up without being narcissistic, I wasn’t liking myself. There was something about my hair that didn’t look human, my right eye was still larger than my left, and my nose was still flat! I swear yesterday my nose was straight.

Anyway… here are some blogs of fave.

Chicken Mafia – I love it when I see smart posts that aren’t very complicated. How that works? You will have to go to his blog. This chicken also updates everyday and manages to respond to his readers.

Baguio Below – She’s one of them ex-blogdrive bloggers. Good thing she switched or it might have taken longer for me to come across her blog. It’s fun, remarkably witty and always a good read.

Gagopolis – I should admit it was his Ang Sweet ng Nanay Ko post that got me hooked. I’ve read his archives too. I recommend every one of it.

Among my other “blogs of fave” include Billycoy, Utakgago and Rheytarded. Tatlo-tatlo lang muna. Go put them in your link list!


Updates:

  • I failed in producing a kid for mother’s day. I researched pregnancy lengths of animals and the shortest was the mouse (3 weeks), but I couldn’t find any that wanted to “get it on.”
  • The friendster dare is now over. By wednesday this coming week I will have a video of me singing…