Warren Buffett: “If it doesn’t grab them right away… it just doesn’t make any difference”

buffI just want to draw your attention to the item, “Either It Clicks, Or Doesn’t At All“, on the sidebar on the right of this blog.  It’s a quote from that excellent biographical tome, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (published by Random House in 2008), written by Alice Schroeder , a noted insurance industry analyst and writer who was a managing director at Morgan Stanley.  Buffett was simply characterizing a fact that there are those in the stock exchanges that understand how the exchanges, like those at Wall Street, work and how to make money out of them and there are those who don’t.  This is the quote (p. 253):

“With some, the idea of buying dollar bills for forty cents takes, and with some it doesn’t take. It’s like an inoculation. It’s extraordinary to me. If it doesn’t grab them right away, I find that you can talk to them for years and show them records–and it just doesn’t make any difference. I’ve never seen anyone who became a convert over a ten-year period with this approach. It’s always instant recognition or nothing. Whatever it is, I’ve never understood it.”

Neither do I understand it.  We’ve made overtures in this blog to extend some real opportunities to some folks in Bangui and we haven’t got a single, solitary reaction, nay a sign of even the least bit of inquisitiveness to find out what it is we’re offering.  Examples:

Not a single soul from Bangui reacted to the above overtures, inspite of the fact that we even tried to contact some of the people concerned by email.

In fact, years earlier, I helped the Banguinians, an organization of Bangui folks here in Southern California, collect and refurbish second-hand computers and monitors, loaded them with the proper operating system, application software, and shipped them all along with some educational software to the Banban Elementary School (10 PC systems) and the Bangui National High School in Banban (12 PC systems of which 2 were reportedly DOA).  The follow-up was lacking.  When I visited the place in March 2008, the PC units at the elementary school had been largely cannibalized and inoperational.  Ms. Edith Romano, the high school principal, showed us the PCs locked inside a section of the high school library.  The PCs at the high school appeared to be still functional at the time and were being used by students who signed up to use them.  At the time of our visit, the telephone company was busy laying out the landlines about a kilometer from the school.  Since those PCs are Internet-ready, it is widely expected that some effort would be expended to get the necessary Internet connection for them to really get on the information superhighway, like the rest of the world.  But we haven’t had any follow-up nor heard from the Bangui National High School folks in Banban.

WHY THE APATHY?  WHY DON’T OUR OFFERS GRAB THE INTENDED BENEFICIARIES IN BANGUI RIGHT AWAY?  Frankly, we don’t harbor any ulterior motives for, nor are there any strings attached to, our offers.  The overweening desire is to help or bring about some improvement.

We happen to think that some of the townsfolk in Bangui might be able to take advantage of some or all of our offers.  But if they don’t, we need only one to let us know so and we shall understand.  As simple as that.


No dimo saluadan, amangan no malipatam ti ag-Ilocano


Cadagitoy napalabas nga aldaw, nakisinnucatac iti email ken ni Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, tubo ti ciudad ti Laoag ken nagturpos iti University of the Philippines, premiado a mannurat, lider ti gunglo ti NAKEM, maysa cadagiti sagat nga adigi ti panangparang-ay iti Ilocano ken agdama a Coordinator ti Programa a Pagsasao ken Kur-itan nga Ilocano, Departamento dagiti Pagsasao ken Kur-itan nga Indo-Pacifica, Universidad ti Hawai’i iti Manoa:

Sunday, January 25, 2009, 11:23AM

Patgec nga Ariel:  Annugotec nga akikid ti focus ti blog co, ibangui.wordpress.com, isu ngarud nga umay ca man singaen ken ruroden bareng mapan mo usisaen no ania ti pagcurangan dagiti dua a naudi nga impaskin co sadiay.

Yamanec unay ti ania a criticism nga ipaaymo, Cabsat.

Agraem, Manong Joe

Monday, January 26, 2009, 4:36PM

Patgek a Manong Joe:  Dinardarasko a sinirpat ti blogyo gapu ta ammoc nga adu ti maadal ken maagsaw.  Ket agpayso!  More, more!  Ariel

Monday, January 26, 2009, 6:45PM

Dear Ariel:  Thanks for taking the time to humor me.  One thing I was painfully aware of was that the rhetoric was terribly inadequate.  I know you have more ammo in your arsenal.  By all means, let’s use ’em.

The all too enervating reality in what we are trying to do to save Ilocano is the crippling silence of a lot of our fellow Ilocanos who are in a position to see to it that we don’t witness the eventual, albeit slow demise of our language.  Manong Joe

Monday, January 26, 2009, 7:09PM

Manong Joe:  Dayta ngarud, Apo Joe, ti pagsaksakitan ti nakem ti adu kadatayo iti daytoy a tignayan.  Dagiti pangnamnamaantayo a makatulong iti daytoy a tignayan, awanda.  Ngem ala, aramid daytoy a kultural, aramid a pulitical, ken aramid a kabulig ti ranget ken pannakiranget, iti man bukod a bagi, iti man kailian/kailokanuan, ken/wenno iti sabali pay. Sapay ta agballigitayo.

Maysa a panagsaludar kenca, —Ariel

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 9:25AM

Patgec nga Ariel:  Kinaagpayso na, lacayacon ngem agsipud ta nabayagen a nagtaeng ditoy agdama nga ayanco, nairuamacon a maibilang a cadawyan wenno ordinario laeng (nga isu ti kinaagpaysona) isu nga agalumiimac nga awagam iti “Apo”.  Isu a pangngaasim ta isardengmo ti panangawagmo caniac iti “Apo”.  Caniac a maysa, ni Apo Dios laeng ti rebbengna a maawagan iti Apo.

I know that the move to invigorate Ilocano, such as envisioned in the Gunigundo Bill, requires funding.  However, being this poor rat, I can’t help much in that aspect.  So who can we turn to as our patrons who would not be squeamish about unloosing their power, influence and financial resources to keep the fight alive and kicking and focused laser-sharp to getting the desired results and eventually winning the fight for multilingual education?  Maybe your NAKEM group could come together and formulate a strategy focused on this Gunigundo Bill in particular and, in general, on placing Tagalog on an equal footing with the other major local languages such as Ilocano, Cebuano, Bicol, etc., CERTAINLY NOT as the favored language which is lording it over the other languages at such a costly sacrifice of losing these non-Tagalog languages forever–maybe not in our lifetime but forever any way such as we have witnessed happen with other languages that died.

In other words, here’s your chance, Ariel, to have your group fashion a formidable Ilocano language movement manifesto that has a backbone and muscle to bring about the needed results in much the same manner as the Tagalistas took advantage of the corridors of power to have Tagalog declared as the pseudo “national language”.  As I wrote you earlier, I really don’t mind having English as the national language, as indeed it is now constitutionally, being that it is is also the global lingua franca, and have the other local languages thrive equally with Tagalog in the spirit of the Gunigundo Bill.  Earlier in the mid 1900s, we relished the perception that we had the highest percentage of our population who spoke English with a high literacy rate to boot until the Tagalistas, with their hidden agenda of effectively colonizing the country themselves, came along on the coattails of a Tagalog-speaking president and a swath of Tagalog cohorts in high places.  The rest of us Ilocanos, Cebuanos, Bicolanos, Pampanguenos Hiligaynons, Pangasinenses, Warays, etc., stood by almost completely mesmerized and scarcely lifted a finger at the coming demise of our respective languages, cultures and unique bodies of literature.  WE WERE SO UTTERLY TRUSTING AND DUMB THAT UNTIL NOW NOT VERY MANY AMONG US KNEW AND UNDERSTOOD OR EVEN CARED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HIT US.

History has clearly demonstrated again and again that people with distinctly unique languages/dialects tend to gravitate to the language vigorously propagated by governments as the language of commerce for purely economic or survival reasons.  And that, as you and I know, is what’s happening to the non-Tagalog languages in the Philippines.  The increasing use of Tagalog and the conversely decreasing use of the others can only spell out a sure consequence, namely, the demise of the non-Tagalog languages.

Someone wrote:  “Ethnic genocide is the destruction of a culture.  You can compare it to a living being who is born, lives, and dies.  If he dies a natural death after a long and beautiful life, very well.  But if we kill him, or we don’t help him when he is in danger, that’s something else…  It’s the same with languages in danger of extinction.”

I was kind of hoping that Bannawag, Tawid NewsMagasin, and other Ilocano publications of note, Ilocano writers and Ilocano bloggers would show some energy to carry the torch.  But I believe most of them find no immediacy to the attendant issues.  There just seems to be an incredible amount of apathy toward preserving one’s mother tongue simply because the people who dictate policy and who care to influence the Constitution are brainwashed about the imposition of Tagalog (which was not even the language of the majority at the time) as one of our national languages.  We seem to fail to see that government is just a bunch of people like the rest of us–with their own sellfish agenda.  At this point in time, the Tagalogs just seem to have more energy and determination to assert themselves to colonize the rest of us who, to their undisguised eleation, are mere uncomplaining sacrificial lambs waiting to be butchered and skewered.  Manong Joe

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 11:11AM

Dear Ariel:  Please don’t get tired of the repetitious messages coming from me.  I suppose you don’t need them.  But what’s important is for you and the rest of us to keep repeating the message until something like the ground beneath our feet shifts in our favor.  We’ve got to keep pounding the message:

“What matters is not the death of a language in itself, but what that death can bring:  When a language disappears, a whole way of thinking, a vision of the world disappears with it, which can only impoversih human culture and the capacity of people to understand the world around them.”

We are nearing the threshold of inevitability of Ilocano being supplanted entirely by Tagalog/Filipino.  We can no longer afford to waste our chances.  NOW IS THE TIME TO FIGHT BACK AND ASSERT OUR RIGHTS TO THE USE AND PRESERVATION OF OUR NATIVE TONGUE, OUR CULTURE, OUR LITERATURE, OUR HERITAGE.

If we don’t, the time will come when the agcamcam (the new Tagalog colonizers) among us don’t even need the obligatory or deferential but insulting and despicable “Okinnam, okinnam…”  Manong Joe

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 11:13AM

Manong Joe:  Wen, ngarud:  nakakaskas-ang.  Adu dagiti Tagalista a maibilang a kabusor daytoy numo ngem diak agalumiim.  Kinaagpaysuanna, profesorko pay ti maysa kadakuada.  Ngem saan a mabalin daytoy, Manong Joe.  Masapul ti nanakman a dangadang–ken masapul ti kinaregget a kankanayon, a no dadduma ket agmawmaw met.  Mabannog ti puso, madudog ti kararua nangruna no ti makita ket dagiti pada met a nengneng a dida met ammo ti lablabidenda.  Anian!  Ngem saan a gasat daytoy:  daytoy ket resulta ti saan nga umno a panagsirmata ken kinaawan panagparmata iti masakbayan.  Awan pabasolen no di met laeng datayo.  Saan a gasat, saan a ti sabali tapno iti kasta ket makasursurotayo a makibalubal iti nagan dagiti fundamental a karbengantayo. —Ariel

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 11:33AM

Patgec nga Ariel:  Idi nagawidac iti daytay napalabas a Marso, dimo ngata patien ngem casla adda pimmusay a parte ti kina-Ilocanoc idi sungbatandac iti Tagalog tunggal nakisaritaac iti Ilocano cadagiti pada nga Ilocano iti amin a nagpasiarac idiay Ilocandia, agraman dagiti cailian idiay Bangui.

Dayta ti dackel a paggiddiatan ti caadduan cadagiti pada nga Ilocano dita Hawaii.  Iti daydi naudi a panagpasiarco dita Hawaii, napaliiwco a lumawag ti rupa ken macaisem dagiti Ilocano no casaritam ida iti Ilocano, uray pay no dimo am-ammo ida–sadiay Honolulu wenno Hilo airports, idiay USS Arizona Memorial Park, Ala Moana Center, wenno idiay Waikiki Beach.  Nadlawco dagiti pada nga Ilocano nga ibaw-ingda ti panagkitada kenca apaman a mangegda nga ag-Ilocano ca.

Sal-ut a biag!  —Manong Joe

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 12:03PM

Manong Joe:  Daytoy, Manong Joe, ti empirikal a datos a mismo a nakitam.  Isu nga agung-ungetakon.  Ket iti NAKEM Conference idiay Batac idi 2007, diak nagawidan ti ngiwngiwko ket imbagak nga estupido ti pagannurotan ti govierno maipapan iti edukasion, kultura, ken lengguahe–a nengneng a padak dagiti agpatpataray iti sistema ti educasion.  Iti tallaong nga imbagak dayta.  No dadduma, masapul a kulibagtongem dagitoy pada nga Ilokano a sinalbag.

Ala, makapaunget nga agpayso.  Idi agsubli dagiti nagbakasion a fakultimi, kasta met ti imbagada ken nagung-ungetda met ta agin-Tatagalog kano met dagiti mamaestro ken mamaestra.  Pwe, kunam man!  —Ariel

Dagiti baro nga agcamcam

No dimo naamiris a dagus no apay nga impostec ti “Okinnam, okinnam…” ditoy baba, ti cangrunaan a calicagumac nga ipakita kenca isu ti free-pirate-clipart-6-tn3kinabileg ti pagsasao a pangparucma iti cayat a parmeken.  Nadlawmo nga iti canito (agarup 94 seconds calpasan panangrugi ti YouTube video) a nag-Ilocano dagiti kumacanta nga agpabuya, nabulosan daytoy iti panagray-aw dagiti caadduan nga Ilocano cadagiti nagtitipon nga agbuya.

No di pay nalawag dita utec ken pamanunotam no apay nga incalicagum dagidi nagturay cas iti daydi Presidente Manuel Quezon, Lope K. Santos ken dagiti naruay a pasurot da cadagiti nangangato a puesto ti govierno manipud idi 1935 agingga ita, ti calicagum da a mangparang-ay iti “nailian a pagsasao” a naibatay iti Tagalog, nalabit mautob mo itan no apay babaen ti mismo nga ejemplo iti “Okinnam, okinnam…”  Kinapudnona, masapul dagiti baro nga agcamcam–dagiti Tagalog–a macasursuro ca nga agsao iti Tagalog tapno:

  • nalaclaca a maawatam dagiti ibilin da nga aramidem;
  • maawatam ida no lacuan da ca idiay tiendaan ken shopping mall, wenno umay da ca danonen a lacuan dita balay mo;
  • mapanca agbuya iti pelicula a Tagalog, agdengngegca iti Tagalog radio broadcast ket mangegmo dagiti advertisements iti Tagalog, gumatang ca iti Tagalog a diario, periodico, ken libro, gumatang ca iti ticket tapno inca agbuya cadagiti live performances iti Tagalog ken dadduma pay;
  • ipagarupmo nga ay-ayatem ti ilim ken tumulong ca a mangidur-as iti “pangacaycaysa” tayo babaen ti panangsursurom nga agsao iti Tagalog, er, Filipino (“Filipino” ti pangawagda ita, imbes a Tagalog, tapno dica agaripapa wenno agtukkiad nga agsursuro nga ag-Tagalog).  Ngem iti panagcunam, adda cadi talaga naing-inget a panagcaycaysa tayo ita mayarig idi un-unana?
  • in-inut a dimo aramaten ti Ilocano, ti nacayanacam a pagsasao, tapno in-inut a malipatam daytoy ket iti casta mapucaw a mamimpinsan ti ca-competencia dagiti baro nga agcamcam–dagiti Tagalog.

Saan da a ganggannaet.  Saan a babaen ti paltog wenno campilan ti panangparmec da kenca tapno sumuco ca ket surotem ti wagas ti biag a calicaguman da a surotem tapno maiturayan da ca ken nalaclaca a sepsepen da ta nagling-etam.

Malagipmo dagiti napaspasamac iti daydi Norman Conquest of England?  Malagipmo a daydi William (“William the Conqueror”), duque ti Normandy ti amianan a Frances, ti nangirusat idi 1066 AD iti panangsakup iti England.  Segun ti Wikipedia, “The Norman Conquest was a pivotal event in English history for several reasons. It largely removed the native ruling class, replacing it with a foreign, French-speaking monarchy, aristocracy and clerical hierarchy. This in turn brought about a transformation of the English language and the culture of England. By subjecting the country to rulers originating in France it linked England more closely with continental Europe, while lessening Scandinavian influence, and set the stage for a rivalry with France that would continue intermittently for more than eight centuries. It also had important consequences for the rest of the British Isles, paving the way for further Norman invasions in Wales and Ireland, and the extensive penetration of the aristocracy of Scotland by Norman and other French-speaking families… One of the most obvious changes was the introduction of Anglo-Norman, a northern dialect of Old French, as the language of the ruling classes in England, displacing Old English. Even after the decline of Norman, French retained the status of a prestige language for nearly 300 years and has had (with Norman) a significant influence on the language, which is easily visible in Modern English…”


Ilocano: R.I.P.?

No dimo pay la maawatan wenno adda pay la panagduaduam  no apay a cayat dagiti Tagalog–dagiti baro nga agcamcam–nga agsursuro ca nga ag-Tagalog, isingasingco nga ulitem a basaen ti Norman Conquest of England.

Malacsid no awan nabati a gagarmo nga agtukkiad nga iturayan dagiti baro nga agcamcam ken awan ti panangilalam iti Ilocano–ti bucod mo a nacayanacan a pagsasao agraman ti cannawidan ken literatura ni Ilocano.  Cas pagarigan, pumusay ti Bannawag agsipud ta bumassit a bumassit ti bilang dagiti Ilocano a gumatang iti daytoy a periodico, dimonto ngata iliwen?

Okinnam, okinnam…

Here’s a brief line on each of the members of the above group:

Rey Valera is a singer, songwriter, music director and film scorer from the Philippines.  He wrote and produced songs that were recorded by various singers, most notably Sharon Cuneta.

Rico J. Puno is a popular Filipino pop singing artist who is credited as a pioneer-promoter of original Filipino music. He started the trend of incorporating Tagalog lyrics in his rendition of the American song The Way We Were and other foreign songs. Also known as Rico J. and as The Total Entertainer, Puno is a singer who regularly infused his on-stage performance with comedy and jokes.

Marco Sison, an award-winning singer and recording artist; he was a graduate of the popular “Student Canteen” noon time television show in the Philippines where he was undefeated for 14 consecutive weeks in the late 1970s

Nonoy Zuniga, award-winning singer/recording artist with international stints in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and New Zealand.

“Hajji” Alejandro is a Filipino singer and actor. He’s the father of singerRachel Alejandro. The original Kilabot ng Kolehiyala (College Girls’ Heartthrob), Alejandro is best remembered for such songs as Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika, and Nakapagtataka.

In contrast to the “clean” act and powerful performance of Charice Pempengco as in the videos in the previous blog entry, the comedic antics of these OPM (for Original Pilipino Music) hitmakers, became vulgar slapstick and, like it or not, the Filipino locals somewhere in Hawaii seem to love it.  A little over 90 seconds into the video, it’s “Okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam, okinnam,” perhaps upon recognizing that the crowd was predominantly Ilocano.  Whoa!

What do you think?

CHARICE: Teenage Filipina singer conquers the world


Before she even turned 16, Charice Pempengco (Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco, born May 10, 1992) of Cabuyao, Laguna, had conquered the world.  She did so and appears destined to conquer more at such a tender age when most youngsters would still be trying to conquer their awakening hormones and passions, when they’re still grappling with the emotional angst of high school.

Her Wikipedia bio documenting her many international performances for the last 18 months [excluding those in the Philippines], says:  “In 2007, a series of YouTube videos of Charice’s performances posted by a user called FalseVoice brought her to the attention of Ten Songs/Productions based in Sweden.  In June 2007, she flew to Stockholm, Sweden, and recorded seven songs.”  This was followed by a series of performances in South Korea, the United States, England, Italy, the Netherlands, and Canada.  This teenage singing phenom already has quite a long list of memorable performances with some of the famous music stars (Alicia Keys, David Foster, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli) of the present generation and some at popular television talk shows (Ellen DeGeneres, Paul O’Grady Show in England, Oprah Winfrey, ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s  Today Show during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City last year, 2008 Carousel of Hope).

Her performance with Celine Dion at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sept. 15, 2008, earned her rave reviews from the New York Times and the New York Post.  “The Charice segment was the night’s brightest moment. The teen was able to blast notes with Celine-like power, but she was also able to get in touch with the song’s emotions,” the NY Post review read.

On January 15, 2009, Charice Pempengco was bestowed the Philippines’ People of the Year Award for 2008 in recognition of her exceptional talent.  The prestigious roster of awardees was led by former Philippine President Corazon Aquino as special awardee.

Just a few days ago, on January 18, 2009, Charice performed at President Barack Obama pre-inaugural ball at which she sang two songs, “God Bless America” and “One Moment In Time”.

The following video shows the vivacious, articulate and irrepressible young Charice performing live at ABC’s Good Morning America on Nov. 18, 2008 :

So she’s not iBangui, but we hope she becomes an inspiration especially for those iBangui starting to hone their yet undiscovered talent with the karaoke, YouTube, or something.

At this time, this superb young Filipina singer may look diminutive but the moment Charice opens her mouth and starts to sing, she suddenly sounds much, much bigger, and the über-voice with that Whitney Hustonesque range and shades of Mariah Carey instantly grabs your attention and awe.  Charice is a knockout!

Tell us what you think about this powerhouse of a singing sensation.

BIT: English Pronunciation Power Course–100 Hours

Tucked somewhere in the TESDA complete list of registered programs authorized for the Bangui Institute of Technology is the 100-hour classroomEnglish Pronunciation Power Course.

Having resided in these United States for more than 37 years of my adult life, I’ll be the first one to attest to you that 100 hours is utterly inadequate to reach a passable level of pronunciation of the English language, especially if the ones teaching you are not native English speakers, no offense to our Filipino teachers who are trying their best to teach English pronunciation.  Believe me I know because I occasionally listen to those English language broadcasts on Philippine TV that are available on DirecTV satellite programming.

You see, I didn’t bother to attend one of those free neighborhood community school courses to “remove” my ethnic accent.  Nevertheless, I think I was able to reach a point that I actually can communicate verbally with most Americans who speak the English language AND had at least some elementary education.  It’s the unschooled ones or first grade dropouts who persist in their own slangs whom I have a difficulty communicating with.  With this latter group, I’m proud to say that our elementary school students of English in the Philippines could speak English with relatively better grammatical construction.

Now, I have a practical proposition for ALL Bangui teachers and students of English pronunciation–whether from the Bangui Institute of Technology or all the elementary and public and private high schools.  AND IT’S FOR FREE!

All you folks need to have is a PC system with a compact disk (CD) drive or a DVD drive–and it does NOT need to be connected to the Internet.  I’ll provide you with the audio files with matching text files–you could listen to a native English speaker and read the corresponding text at the same time.  What’s more, you could learn BOTH pronunciations with the North American accent AND the London accent, using entirely separate audio files and matching text files.  Learning both accents could be extremely useful, especially if the student intends to pursue an English major (perhaps to become an English teacher) or work eventually as a customer representative in one of those outsourcing companies, or if the student plans to immigrate to either Canada, the U.S. or Great Britain.

THE OFFER IS FREE.  And it’s entirely self-paced.  If you need clarification for the pronunciation of a specific word and want to return to that specific word, you could easily do so using the PC navigation tools.  You don’t have a physically present teacher looking over your shoulder or correcting/scolding/insulting you for a mispronounced word, etc.  You can learn at your own time.  You can begin or stop at any point any time you feel like doing so.  What’s more, you don’t have to attend a regularly scheduled class.  You could be studying these English pronunciation exercises within the comfort of your home, assuming you have a PC or can loan one to bring home.

With an adequate level of immersion in learning English pronunciation through this proposed method, I can almost guarantee that in no time will the interested student be speaking like a Londoner [in perfectly normal sentences laced with the omnipresent “you bloody c…” expression] or a North American.  HONEST.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the resources for Australian English pronunciation, mate (pronounced like “might”).

I’m inviting all the teachers in Bangui (elementary, high school and Bangui Institute of Technology) who teach English to take advantage of this offer to assist them in teaching English even more effectively.  Of course, students are welcome to the offer as well.  All you need to do is leave your name and contact means (preferably your email address) in the COMMENT section of this blog entry and I’ll get back to you.  If you don’t yet have an email address, the old snail mail will do.

Barack Obama shattered some formidable barriers for us non-Whites

Pres. Barack Obama

Pres. Barack Obama

This is probably of very little interest for the folks in Bangui.  But for all Banguinians and immigrants all over these United States, Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the most powerful office of the free world marks a shattering of the old barriers, racial and otherwise.  It gives a migrant like us some sense of hope for generations of migrants and their children that most any thing is possible with all the ifs and caveats. Some aspirations just seem to appear more easily reachable with this man’s extraordinary pioneering example.  He made the historic realization of a dream which bears parallels to what the late Rev. Martin Luther King [whose birthday was remembered just yesterday] encapsulated in his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of a huge crowd that marched to Washington, D.C. and gathered at the Washington Mall on August 28, 1963 (see video near the end of this entry).

To honor Obama, we take the liberty of printing his presidential inaugural speech today, Jan. 20, 2009:
My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our healthcare is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted, for those who prefer leisure over work or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done — what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control, and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth, and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass, that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve, that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself, and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow, to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service, a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job, which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world . . . that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive . . . that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.”

America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter, and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Source: Associated Press

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