By: Hazel Suson – Alvarez

 

X – the universally accepted symbol for the unknown, the mysterious and the enigmatic. Algebraic equations use “x” to represent an answer that needs to be solved.

 

In The X Files, Mulder uses the “x” sign on his window when his investigations hit a bizarre, extra-terrestrial obstacle. In The X Men, the mutants wear the “x” icon, not only to honor their teacher (Prof. Xavier), but also to mirror their anonymity and non-belongingness to their own society.

 

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A certain segment of society today is identified with the “x” mark. People whose thoughts, choices and values affect a country’s destiny and the marketing campaigns of large multi-national corporations.

 

Are you on of us? Are you a Gen Xer – the Whatever Generation?

 

 

 

Radioactive Spawns

 

Contrary to popular beliefs, Gen X people don’t come from Melmac, Tatooine or Dr. Who’s telephone booth. There are many accounts on where they come from and who first used the term.

 

According to the Wikipedia, Generation X is a term for the generation that followed the post-World War II Baby Boom generation. While the exact dates bounding this age demographic are highly debated, those born in the 1960s and 1970s are generally agreed-upon as members of this group.

 

The term is used in demographics, the social sciences, marketing, and more broadly, in popular culture. Their influence over pop culture began in the 1980s, and has only grown in the 1990s and 2000s.

 

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Although the origins of the term “Generation X” go back at least as far as the early 1960s, it was popularized by Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. In the book Generations, William Strauss and Neil Howe called this generation the 13th Generation because the tag, like this generation, is a little Halloweenish, and it is the thirteenth to know the flag of the United States (counting back to the peers of Benjamin Franklin).

 

In continental Europe, the generation is often known as Generation E, or simply known as the Nineties Generation. In France, the term Génération Bof is used, with bof being a French word for whatever, considered by some French people to be the defining Gen X saying.

 

But why “whatever”? Generation X people, compared to other earlier generations, are very tolerant of diversity (culture, political views, religious beliefs and moral values). On the other hand, Gen X people are very intolerant of having it forced on them by reverse-discriminatory quotas or politically-correct speech.

 

 

 

Cultural Mutants

 

The media introduced Generation X as a group of alienated overeducated, underachieving slackers with body piercing / tattoos, who drank franchise-store coffee and loved grunge music. These concepts had some truth to them but were in many cases stereotypes.

 

Generation X culture is basically a radioactive mutation of values. Despite their generational attitude against communalism, Generation Xers take some group pride in their generation.

 

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In math, “X” stands for ‘substitute anything’, and Gen Xers take some cooperative self-importance in their own tolerance, diversity and inability to be labeled. Previous generations may have overly claimed to be ‘liberal’ like being for civil or feminist rights. The Boomer generation became viewed as secular — pro-choice, against the Christian Coalition, perhaps even anti-family — to the extent that the ‘liberals’ wanted to legally impose acceptance of many moral lifestyles choice on others.

 

Meanwhile, Gen Xers quietly practiced their tolerance as shown by the increase in inter-racial marriages and adoptions, experimenting with alternative lifestyles such as living together before marriage, while not yet showing a desire to impose their personal individual choices on society via legalisms.

 

But unlike their parents (and surprisingly more like their grandparents) Gen Xers place a premium in maintaining the nuclear family by putting values like relationship and values before their work or career. Some Gen Xers delay marriage in order to be more careful in choosing a mate for a lifetime. If the marriage does end in divorce, both parents stay involved with the children via joint custody.

 

 

 

Technological Evolutions

 

Gen X’s attitude towards technology can be summarized by noticing that most were either born after the 1969 moon landing, or were very young at that time.

 

Therefore, to Gen Xers, “anything is possible”, as long as you’re willing to throw enough money at it. In fact, Gen X people will be the last generation to see their technological preferences evolve from analog magnetic reels, cassette tapes, vinyl records, to digital audio CDs, MP3s and Windows Audio formats for iPods.

 

They saw the birth and growth of the Internet, and rode on the first wave of third generation communication devices. Thus, Gen X people are in a very significant technological crossroad which continues to influence their thinking, attitudes and values.

 

 

 

Gen X Values

 

In the book Generations at Work, Claire Raines describes four specific generations in the workforce today: Veterans (born between 1922 and 1943), Boomers (born between 1943 and 1960), Generation X (born between 1960 and 1980) and Nexters (born in 1980 or after).

 

This overlap of generational needs and styles can wreak havoc for those managers just trying to meet objectives. “The organization does not define success anymore,” Raines said. Today, the individualistic Gen X does that. For Gen Xers, even terms like ‘status’ and ‘loyal’ look different. ‘Getting ahead,’ which is the old model brought to mind some poor employee working into the wee hours at his or her desk, gradually amassing power and money over the years, is characterized by Raines as “laughable” for Gen X workers.

 

There is no doubt that Gen Xers want to go ahead financially, but they’ll do it their own way without sacrificing their personal lives or family. For a Gen Xer, there’s a big difference between a career and a job. Intent on looking for career security rather than job security, Generation Xers believe it is critical to build a repertoire of skills and experiences they can take with them if they need to.

 

That’s why Gen X employees have a high turn-over rate than their Baby Boomer parents. For a Baby Boomer, once you are employed, you expect to retire from that same company. For Gen Xers, their job today — this very minute — is just one of the many stepping stones to enhance their career.

 

Nancy Lyons, the president of Bitstream Underground (a Gen X internet service) believes that financial rewards always will motivate Gen X workers but it just isn’t always top of their mind today. Her company tends to pay mid-range for all the people it hires. But any definition of success quickly gets put in the context of “having a life”. For Gen Xers, success doesn’t come at the expense of one’s life outside work.

 

 

 

Resistance is Futile

 

Although many Generation Xers are already in the work force and in many other sectors of society (government, education, the media, etc.), their influence has barely begun.

 

Within the next 10 to 20 years, when the Baby Boomers have already retired or have died out, the full impact of the Gen X dogma will be felt as they assume higher leadership positions in government and the private sectors.

 

The invasion has begun. Prepare to be assimilated.

 

The Brave New World begins as the Children of the Atom shout out the Gen X battle cry, “Duh, whatever!”

 

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By: Vanessa Velasco

 

Sunrise.

 

I have often watched its magnificence. The most memorable of sunrises I have ever experienced is in Dumaguete City. I would wake up before dawn to await its coming by the seashore, when the world is still dark and quiet, and when the only sounds you hear are the quiet beat of the ocean waves blending with the rhythm of the fishermen’s paddles on its waters.

 

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Soon, the sky grows brighter. A soft golden glow emerges at the other end of the horizon. The melodies of birds start to accompany the rhythm of the waters. Then comes the sunrise.

 

As I behold its beauty, within me grows an expectant spirit of what the day will bring. The vivid color of the town as I walk its street. The music of the forests in the outskirts of the city. The taste of the native delicacies waiting to be discovered. The smiles and laughter I am about to share with the city’s people.

 

The sun is up. My journey has started.

 

 

 

Revisiting A Past

 

Dumaguete City seems to be like one large university campus. Walking down its streets, one can notice the tall acacia trees arching above the main roads, forming an umbrella-like canopy. The culture of Silliman and three other universities have spilled over the small city, giving it the academic atmosphere that would have earned its reputation as the Philippines’ University Town.

 

College students are everywhere — striding on the sidewalks in maong pants, carrying algebra and history books. Others engrossed in a group study in the many cafeterias that are sporadically scattered around the city.

 

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It reminds me of my college days. The long walks I took along the Diliman campus after the rain, where the scent of freshly cut grass mingles with the dews on leaves of the trees. Reading my textbooks beneath acacia trees while watching a group of students play soccer on the sunken garden. Group studies at the main library in the middle of the campus, followed by heated debates over coffee and crackers. Singing and guitar music with my barkada late at night at the foot of the oblation. Late evening talks with my roommates. Star gazing at night.

 

These were some of the most memorable years of my life. When all I had to think about were my lessons in school. Reports. Projects. Term Papers. Life was so simple then. And in looking at the students who trudged the Silliman sidewalks, I feel I was transported back into the past I’ve always wanted to revisit.

 

 

 

Collecting Souvenirs

 

I used to have a hobby of collecting souvenirs. In my room, I have a collection of pine cones from Baguio, a bag of white sand from Boracay, a sea shell from Panglao, a rock from Ilocos Norte. Several of them have already gathered dust.

 

But more than the souvenirs are the memories they evoke as one gazes upon them. Moments cherished during a particular time at a particular place.

 

But during my trip to Dumaguete City, I did not take any souvenirs with me — but inadvertently did exactly the opposite: I left something precious to me, which may now be considered as a hidden treasure in the waters of Bais Bay.

 

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It happened while we were out in the open water, “in the middle of nowhere” as we fondly called the experience — looking for whales and dolphins in the middle of Bais Bay. The waves were friendly to us adventurers that day, giving but a gentle rock to the pump boat we were on. Some meters away from the boat, we saw around thirty dolphins playfully displaying their water antics. 

 

As I tried taking their picture, through my Palm Zire 71, the waves gave the pump boat a very mild sway. It sent my Zire down into the ocean — my precious! There goes my schedule, my Documents-To-Go and my pictures! I guess my Zire found its place among the sunken treasures of Bais Bay. So, I bought myself a new and better digital camera to replace the sunken Zire.

 

And while I still collect stones and shells and sand from my travels, I have learned to preserve moments that cannot be aptly captured by tangible souvenirs. I have learned to capture the beauty of the sunrise. Or the sparkle of the waters at sea. The solitary silhouette of a fisherman at the break of dawn. The smiles of strangers. It was then that I have begun my collection of intangible souvenirs.

 

 

 

The Poetry and Adventure of Nature

 

The most memorable of my intangible souvenirs during my Dumaguete trip are images of the Twin Lakes. There on top of the mountains of Sibulan, after the long trip on rough roads, we found the lakes.

 

Their waters were emerald green, the surrounding forests, a deep jade. And the sky above, a light sapphire with brushstrokes of flowing white clouds. Boating across the first lake, Balinsasayao, we beheld every sight and sound that our senses could take. Upon reaching the other side of the lake, we had to climb up a steep hill to see its twin, Danao Lake.

 

That is when the adventure began. The uphill climb was relatively easy — that is, for the ones who do not lack enough exercise. It was the downhill trod that posed as the harder challenge. Most members of our group stopped upon reaching the pinnacle, but the more adventurous ones dared go down the other side of the ridge towards Danao. I was one of the adventurers who reached the second lake.

 

Thought it did not possess the enchantment and poetry of Balinsasayao, it offered the excitement and adventure that was not found in its larger twin. The feel of its refreshing waters on my feet was a sort of reward for braving the slippery slopes we conquered. 

 

Even when we were back in the city, the images of the lakes kept on haunting me. I knew in my heart that I will again find myself waking up at dawn, seeking both the poetry and adventure that I have experienced with the lakes.

 

 

 

The Real Journey

 

And so my real journey begins.

 

It is not the usual trip that satisfies most travelers, with their usual guide maps, travel brochures or “travel-light” bags. It is not just a tour of a place where I become part of a culture I have never experienced, when I feel an affinity with people whom I have seen for the first time, when I share the laughter with strangers, and feel homesick for a town that was never my home.

 

It is more than falling in love with a place and a culture. More than beholding the fog-covered caps of a dormant volcano, or enjoying the touches of the fine white sands of a tropical paradise. It is more of a journey that I embark on everyday — the search for meaning and significance in the places I visit, the people I see, the emotions I feel and the memories I take with me.

 

More than the physical travel, it is the journey of the heart that determines whether I share my experiences in a cardboard-cut travel guide or in moving palettes of natural wonder and the vibrant joie de vivre found in relationships.

 

So, whether I sail the waters of Bais Bay, or find myself trekking on the mountains of Talinis, or simply cruising through Metro Manila’s traffic, I find myself on a journey. One that fills my waking moments and my sleepless dreams. One that connects me to my past and, possibly, my future.

 

My journey doesn’t start with a plane ticket or a passport. It starts with every sunrise. Each time I see the first rays of sunlight breaking through the silent darkness that heralds the dawn of a new day — be it in the middle of the sea, or on top of a mountain, or in the middle of the city — I know that there is always poetic beauty waiting to be discovered, and an adventure waiting to happen.

 

That is when my real journey begins.

 

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By: Maloi Malibiran Salumbides

 

As a facilitator, broadcaster and mother, the relationship between teacher and apprenticeship is something close to my heart. I am indebted to persistent, patient and loving teachers – my parents, my teachers, my graduate school professors, my mentors at work and spiritual leaders in church. These people motivated me to improve and expand my horizons in my chosen career and business.

 

There are a lot of case studies for apprenticeship, but I find that true-to-life stories of master-apprentice relationships in the Bible are more ideal, realistic and logical. The following are five lessons I’ve learned from Richard Anderson’s book Getting Ahead, from the Bible and also from my real-world experiences.

 

 

Set a Time-Table for Your Apprentice

Moses gave Joshua a specific time-table when he would begin leading the Israeli exiles from Egypt. Moses didn’t say, “Maybe I’ll train him and make him in charge next year, or maybe, tomorrow. Or, maybe when I feel like it.” I appreciated Moses’ attitude, because he wasn’t always the type who would delegate work. But, in this instance, he gave Joshua enough time to prepare.

 

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Why did Moses choose Joshua as his successor? Maybe, it had something to do with Joshua’s positive attitude and courage when their group was sent on an infiltration / espionage mission inside enemy territory. When Moses heard his minority report, he must have been greatly moved and impressed. From then on, Moses made sure that Joshua would be fully prepared and motivated to take on his work and responsibility.

 

 

Make Your Apprentice Feel Important

After Israel captured most of the Promised Land, priests and judges guided them. One such leader – priest was Eli. He had a boy-assistant named Samuel. One night, Eli and Samuel were sleeping. Samuel then heard someone call him. He ran to Eli who said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”

 

This went on for a couple of times until Eli realized that it was God who was calling Samuel. He told Samuel,” Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord. I’m ready to listen.'”

 

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This “bedtime story” emphasizes the need to make an apprentice feel important. Although Eli was the more senior, more experienced Temple employee, he didn’t tell Samuel,” If you hear God calling you, wake me up because you’re not management. You’re just a rank-and-file employee and you don’t have the special privileges that go with my executive position.”

 

Admittedly, Eli was far from perfect as a boss. But what I like about him was his ability to see beyond this young boy’s limitation. Eli saw Samuel’s potential as a great national and spiritual leader of Israel. By emphasizing his apprentice’s authority, he re-emphasized Samuel’s responsibilities and contributed to his confidence and self-esteem.

 

 

Allow Your Apprentice to Make Greater Accomplishments

Several decades after Samuel died, Israel became a divided nation. The southern kingdom was ruled by a king and queen who were bad to the bone. But in those dark days, Elijah, a Power-Prophet from Tesbi stood up against the corrupt leadership.

 

Eventually, the pressures of standing up against a crooked monarchy got into Elijah. He was suffering from burn-out. It was time for him to avail of God’s Early Retirement Program. Elijah was instructed to find a successor that would ably fill in the responsibilities he would leave behind. God chose Elisha.

 

Elisha asked that he would accomplish twice as much as his trainer did. His request was granted. True enough, during Elisha’s term, his reputation and commitment to God was so powerful that anyone who called him a “baldy” or “skinhead” was torn to pieces by bears.

 

Elijah allowed his apprentice to accomplish greater things than him. He was willing to be overshadowed by his protégé. That for me shows his humility and dedication to their work. Both master and apprentice knew that the mission had to be accomplished – no matter who gets the credit.

 

 

Solicit a Firm Commitment from Your Apprentice

If you’re a manager, you can never go wrong when you make Jesus your model for the ultimate trainer – trainee relationship. Jesus’ life offers many pointers on apprenticeship, but the most significant of these was when He sought a firm commitment from His apprentices.

 

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One time, someone approached Jesus and said,” Excuse me for a couple of days. I have to make arrangements for my father’s funeral.” But Jesus refused,” First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent.”  That’s some heavy commitment stuff! When Jesus asks for a commitment, he is dead serious. And why not? He was willing to die to honor his commitment to his followers.

 

I learned through Jesus that the commitment of an apprentice / trainee must be wholehearted – a promise written on the heart and mind of the trainee. Jesus’ commitment was not just doing the task – it was finishing the task, no matter what.

 

 

Let Your Apprentice Go

After Jesus left, Paul helped establish numerous churches in the different provinces of the Roman Empire. But old age and the stress of work (which sometimes included the occasional mob beatings, imprisonment and whippings) had finally weakened the veteran tent maker. Paul had to find a successor. He looked to Timothy.

 

Paul highly regarded Timothy. Whenever there was an issue or problem in the churches like Corinth or Thessalonica, Paul would send Timothy to iron things out. Paul must have had second thoughts about leaving his work to Timothy, but he still trusted in this young man. Paul learned to let go. Once he had given his authority, he honored it and honored his apprentice by not interfering.

 

What I saw in Paul was that he allowed Timothy to make mistakes because he knew that it would be better for him to try and fail, than to be never be given a chance at all. Eventually, Rome executed Paul. But his work continues to this day. The Roman Empire is gone, but Christianity is still here.

  

 

To One Person You May Be the World

Many years ago in Austria, an aspiring artist submitted his painting to the Vienna Art Club. His painting was rejected. He tried again the following year but the veteran artists never even considered reviewing his work.

 

Because of these embarrassments, millions of people all over the world would die. If that artist had only become a full-time painter and not a politician, the world might not have experienced World War II.

 

Who was this artist? Adolph Hitler.

 

You might be thinking, “Sure, apprenticeship is great but why do we need it?” Looking back at the story, you’d think that if only someone had taken the time to train Hitler (the artist), then he might not have become a loner and became Hitler, the scourge of humanity.

 

Hitler’s sad story always reminds me as a trainer and mother that I should be persistent, patient and loving to my trainees, subordinates, students and my children. I’m just one person, but I believe I am all that it takes to either motivate or discourage a future leader.

 

Someone once said, “To the world, you may be just one person. But, to one person, you may be the world.”

 

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