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Messages - Gerry T. Galacio

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 8
 Index: A. Introduction: Carabao English of journalism interns; Poor grammar erodes media credibility (1998 American Society of News Editors study); B. Philippine media and bad grammar; college entrance requirements for Journalism majors; C. The University of North Carolina (UNC) Hussman School of Journalism and its famous grammar test; Pros and cons of requiring Journalism majors to pass either an entrance exam or an exit exam on English grammar proficiency

A. Introduction: Carabao English of journalism interns; Poor grammar erodes media credibility (1998 American Society of News Editors study); Most introductory college news writing professors spend the first third of the semester reviewing basic grammar rules; College writing instructors say students do not understand basic grammar concepts

1. From "No more 'carabao" English, please!" by Tita Valderama (The Manila Times, 2018) at

"In the five years that I’ve been handling the journalism internship of the Manila Times, I have encountered student applicants who presented impressive resumes but could not express themselves in English and could hardly write a sensible essay on current issues. The problem is not substance but basic English grammar. And these students would soon be graduating in courses like AB English, Communication, and Journalism. Sometimes I wonder aloud how they passed elementary school when English is a subject from the primary years, or even pre-school."

2. Poor grammar erodes media credibility (1998 American Society of News Editors study)

From "Taking our Measure" (Washington Post, 1998) at

"The [American Society of Newspaper Editors] study, 'Why Newspaper Credibility Has Been Dropping,' offers six major findings about 'the underlying causes of the disconnect' between journalists and their audiences.' What the 3,000 respondents from around the country had to say is pretty much what Post readers have been telling me in calls, letters and e-mail messages."

"Finding No. 1: 'The public sees too many factual errors and spelling or grammar mistakes in newspapers. Twenty-one percent of readers surveyed complained that they come across mistakes in spelling and grammar every day."

The study titled "Accuracy Matters: A Cross-Market Assessment of Newspaper Error and Credibility" (September 2005 Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly) says:

"... frequency of errors was cited as a major reason why the public is increasingly skeptical of what it reads. Also drawing from focus groups, ASNE researchers posit: 'Even seemingly small errors feed public skepticism about a newspaper’s credibility. Each misspelled word, bad apostrophe, garbled grammatical construction, weird cutline and mislabeled map erodes public confidence in a newspaper’s ability to get anything right.'"

[Boldfacing supplied]

3. From “Spelling and Grammar – Their Importance to Journalism: What Journalism Schools Are Doing” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (Ottawa, Ontario, August 16-19, 1975) at

"With increasing enrollments in journalism, many journalism instructors contend that problems of spelling, grammar, usage, and punctuation are particularly acute. Some of the questions raised at recent gatherings include: Are formal rules of English  grammar dying? Is proper punctuation mere pedantry? What can journalism schools do about grammar and spelling problems?"

4. From "The Journalism Writing Course: Evaluation of Hybrid vs. Online Grammar Instruction" by Jensen Moore, University of Oklahoma, and Khristen Jones (Journalism & Mass Communication Educator · March 2014):

"While recent research suggests the skills needed to survive in today’s multimedia journalism industries have changed, one thing remains the same – the need for skills in grammar, spelling and  punctuation. In the early 80s and 90s journalism schools were instructed to increase the number of hours spent teaching these skills as students often entered the work force unprepared due to lack of emphasis journalism schools placed on grammar and writing.

"Almost two decades later this trend has continued. The 2011 American Society of News Editors Industry Challenges and Opportunity report posited both print and online news editors felt writing quality and editing were 'cornerstones' of what journalists do. However, employers currently state new graduates do not have basic grammar, punctuation or writing skills and seem to believe the fault for this lies within universities.

"In addition, recent studies indicate instructors and journalists agree grammar and writing are the most
important skills needed, while most journalism employers stress these skills are most important when making hiring decisions.

"A 2003 ACT National Curriculum Survey found, in general, college professors believed grammar and writing skills to be of high importance for students entering college, while high school teachers found the same skill sets to be least important. Stone suggested the disparity in emphasis on writing between high school and college causes most introductory college news writing professors to
spend the first third of the semester reviewing basic grammar rules, which detracts from the true purpose of the course.
Thus, grammar and grammar instruction remain a large problem for many
journalism schools, even though these skills continue to be viewed as keys 'to success in college and beyond.' This creates a problem for students when they transition from journalism school into the workforce."

[Boldfacing supplied]

5. From "I'll Take Commas for $200": An Instructional Intervention Using Games to Help Students Master Grammar Skills by Sue Burzynski Bullard and Nancy Anderson (February 2014 Journalism & Mass Communication Educator 69(1):5-16):

"Effective writing requires mastering grammar. For journalists, this mastery is critical because research shows poor grammar erodes media credibility. College writing instructors say students do not understand basic grammar concepts, and greater numbers of students are enrolling in remedial writing classes. This quasi-experimental mixed methods study examines whether using games to teach basic grammar skills helps college students understand and retain grammar concepts. It also examines student perceptions of learning."

6. From "Grammar and cognitive processing of news articles: Exploring dual processing theories" by Alyssa Appelman (University of Kansas, July 2009):

"This study considers the impact of grammatical errors on cognitive processing and subsequent evaluation of news articles. It begins with an examination of the Elaboration Likelihood Model, the Heuristic-Systematic Processing Model, and grammar-related research. An experiment then tests the impact of grammatical errors on measures of cognitive processing. Participants read articles with varying levels of grammatical error and answer questions to reveal cognitive processing. The results show that grammatical errors in news articles are associated with high mental effort, low retention, and low perceived credibility. These measures indicate that grammatical errors are associated with deep processing of news articles. This study recommends that journalists focus more of their attention on fixing grammatical errors, as doing so will provide a better service to their readers."

[Boldfacing supplied]

7. From "Assessing Student Written Communications Skills: A Gateway Writing Proficiency Test for Aspiring Journalism Majors." by Brocato, Furr, and Horton, College Student Journal (Vol. 39, Issue 3)

"Faculty at this rural open-admissions university became increasingly concerned each semester about the inability of many journalism majors to write competently. This poor writing was evident in correctness, content, and coherence."

8. From "Journalism skills you need to get into the sector" at

"Communication skills: It doesn’t matter if you’re a broadcast Journalist, reporter or magazine journalist, any journalism role requires top-notch verbal and written communication skills. This will be needed for interviews, finding new sources and working in a fast-paced newsroom."

"Knowledge of English language and grammar: Journalists spend a lot of time writing and are expected to edit their work to a high standard."

9. From "Journalism News Writing Skills: Grammar and Style Rules" at

"Before you can be a good journalist, you must first be a good writer. This means you must know how to put words together so that they make sense, flow, and are correctly punctuated. Another important element of news writing is grammar and style. Grammar is the structure of the writing that takes into account the syntax and linguistics, while style is the writing's distinctive appearance and sound. Grammar is decided according to hard and fast rules, but style is more personal and puts your mark on the piece of work ...

"There are few things that will turn a reader away quicker than poor writing. Grammar is the most basic example of this: When words are misspelled, or there is a mismatch between nouns and the proper tense of verbs, or you have used punctuation incorrectly – you are going to lose your audience faster than if you wrote something that offended them on a personal level. Why? Because they'll never get to a point where they will read the content. Poor grammar marks you as an amateur, and you won't be long for the newsroom with that label!"

B. Philippine media and bad grammar; college entrance requirements for Journalism majors; Advanced English courses in DepEd's Special Program in Journalism

1. This forum has a section titled "My Media English Watch" at which is a "dragnet for bad or questionable English usage in both the print media and broadcast media, thus giving more teeth to our campaign to encourage them to continuously improve their English."

Started in 2009, this section has around 200 posts. The latest post is "Wrong word usage and verbosity in journalism - 3" at

2. Based on a cursory Google search, colleges of Journalism or Mass Communications in the Philippines don't seem to require students to pass an entrance test or exit test on English grammar proficiency.

The UP College of Mass Communications requires Journalism students to take English 10 ("critical reading of basic forms of academic discourse essential to university work") and English 11 ("literary genres") before they can enroll in more advanced journalism subjects.

The Journalism program in Polytechnic University of the Philippines requires that students must have at least 85% in English and Filipino subjects" and "have passed the interview and tests on writing skills and other talents."

The Manila Times College School of Journalism requires students to show above average English proficiency by submitting a three-page essay on the topic "Why I Want To Be a Journalist.")

3. The DepEd's curriculum for Special Program in Journalism includes "Advanced English" throughout the program's four year duration.

Advanced English I: The course will further develop the learners’ language proficiency to equip them with the enabling tools in journalistic writing.

Advanced English II: The course will further develop the learners’ skills in speech development and public speaking.

Advanced English IIII: The course will further develop the learners’ skills in technical writing and research.

Advanced English IV: The course will provide the learners complete exposure and hands–on experience in the actual workplace.

Does "Advanced English I" include the study or mastery of English grammar?

C. The University of North Carolina (UNC) Hussman School of Journalism and its famous grammar test; Pros and cons of requiring Journalism majors to pass either an entrance exam or an exit exam in English grammar proficiency

1. The University of North Carolina (UNC) Hussman School of Journalism and its famous grammar exit test

Since 1975, the school has required students to pass the test with a grade of 70 or better. The passing grade remains at 70.

From Wikipedia:

"The UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media (locally regarded as 'the J school') is a nationally accredited professional undergraduate and graduate level journalism school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The school, founded in 1950, is ranked competitively among the best journalism schools in the United States."

"[In 1969, John B. 'Jack' Adams took over as dean and his] tenure included the implementation of the spelling and grammar test developed by faculty members Tom Bowers and Richard Cole. The test still is required of all students to graduate with a journalism degree. On Feb. 1, 1975, NBC News aired a report about the test on a national television newscast."

From "Usage & Grammar Test" UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media at

"The Usage and Grammar Test is a graduation requirement for all UNC Hussman majors and second majors. Students are required to score 70 percent or better on the test before graduation.

"The test evaluates word usage, grammar and punctuation competencies based on AP style. It is a timed 60-minute test given electronically through Sakai that consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.

"The test is offered multiple times throughout each fall and spring semester and once each summer session. There is no limit to how many times the test is taken. Seats are limited."

From "J-school spelling and grammar test revised to better measure language skills" (2012) at

"The UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media has revised its spelling and grammar exam, which will feature a word usage section in place of the spelling section beginning fall 2012.

"Spelling, of course, still matters to the J-school," said Andy Bechtel, an associate professor who teaches courses in copyediting. "Students who misspell words on assignments will still be penalized." For example, a misspelled name in a newswriting assignment results in a 50-point penalty. In editing courses, headlines and captions with misspelled words receive no credit.

"Bechtel originally suggested the change because be believes memorizing a spelling list isn’t the best measure of competence in communication. While incorporating word usage — a measure of language expertise that tests elements of spelling and homophone choice, among others — the test retains its emphasis on grammar."

2. From "Nicholson School of Communication and Media, University of Central Florida" at

"Minimum Admission Requirements

"Grammar proficiency: Grammar proficiency can be met by earning an "A-" or higher in both English Composition I and English Composition II, or by earning credit through AP, IB or CLEP, or by successfully passing the grammar proficiency exam through the UCF Testing Center."

3. A 2006 PDF from the ASJMC (The Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication) has two interesting articles in it:

(a) "When Journalism Majors Don't Know Grammar (causes considerations, and approaches)" by Gerald Grow, Florida A&M University

(b) "Journalism Schools and The Teaching of Grammar" by Don Ranly, University of Missouri.

Grow says that there are problems with requiring journalism students to pass either an entrance test or an exit test in grammar. On the other hand, Ranly says that grammar tests for journalism students are a folly. He also says,"The third problem is that many [journalism teachers] if not most do not know grammar."

4. "[Florida International University] School of Communication + Journalism eliminates grammar test" at

"Students studying communications and journalism will no longer be required to pass a grammar test to continue their major.

"The Language Skills test was comprised of a multiple-choice grammar section and a writing sample. Students needed a 70 or better to pass, according to the school’s website.

"Senior journalism major Mark Fitzgerald said the $75 exam was 'a killer,' and had to retake the exam three times before he passed.

"Fred Blevens, a professor in the Department of Journalism was part of the faculty committee that drafted the new curriculum. Blevens believes the grammar test was not the best way to judge a student’s writing ability.

"'It’s an old method. None of the top schools in the U.S. have a test,' Blevens said. 'Many of them quit testing and found other ways to determine students' success years and years ago and there’s a reason for that.'

"Past issues with the grammar test was we’d have students graduating from a degree program and then they could still not write, and we had students who were being bounced out with a 3.5 GPA or higher because they couldn’t pass the test… There is no opinion that shows that [the test] was effective at all," Blevens said. "So we knew that coming to pass the two writing intensive courses to get into the major was a much more effective way."

5. From "Teaching Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation in Community College Journalism  Courses: A Mixed Methods Action Research Study" by Jeanette Calo (dissertation, Arizona State University, 2022):

"A former student of mine recently stopped by to chat about how she was doing at  her new school. After completing the journalism program at Grossmont College, the twoyear community college at which I teach, she transferred as a junior into her first-choice school of San Diego State University (SDSU), the nearby four-year university. I was  surprised when she told me the biggest challenge she faced in her new program was the required Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation (GSP) Test, especially because she was an  exceptional student in my classes and had even functioned as editor-in-chief for a semester at the student news magazine and website I advise. However, in her own words, she 'barely passed' and was one of the few who did; in fact, she told me the exam is dreaded by all students who want to get into the School of Journalism and Media Studies (JMS) at SDSU. I found myself wondering how such an exceptional student, with a seemingly firm grasp on writing mechanics, struggled so much on this required entrance exam."

6. The study "Assessing the Need for Change in J-School Grammar Curricula" by Marc C. Seamon (January 2001 Journalism & Mass Communication Educator 55(4) "surveys 100 journalism schools investigating: (1) whether journalism schools treat spelling, punctuation, grammar, and AP style as important factors in improving the state of journalism; (2) how journalism schools are teaching and assessing spelling, punctuation, grammar, and AP style; and (3) whether journalism schools are using entrance or exit tests."

Use and Misuse / Techniques for gender-free or gender-neutral writing
« on: December 01, 2023, 06:43:24 AM »
A. Introduction: traditional writing, gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language, gender-free language, singular they

Traditional writing uses masculine pronouns like "he" or "his" to refer to both men and women.

"Gender-neutral" language, on the other hand, uses "he or she," "his or her," "he/she," "his/her," "she or he," "her or his," "she/he," "her/his," or the "singular they." Another term for gender-neutral language is "gender-inclusive language."

Most Filipinos are not aware that "they" or "their" can be singular. Bryan A. Garner, author of "Garner’s Modern American Usage" says that "singular they" has existed in the English language as early as the Book of Proverbs of the Old Testament. Garner cautions, however, that if you work for an office or organization that doesn't know about "singular they," don't use it because people might think that you're illiterate.

The British Columbia Securities Commission advocates the use of "gender-free" language (Plain Language Style Guide, 2008). The BCSC explains that the occasional use of “he or she” and other gender-neutral terms may be non-intrusive, but their repetitive use distracts and annoys readers.

                               IMAGE CREDIT: GALLUP NEWS
Achieve gender-free language by making the subject plural

B. Example from the Plain Language Style Guide (2008)of the British Columbia Securities Commission:

Traditional use of masculine pronoun:

The borrower who is not prompt in making the payments due under his mortgage risks losing his home through a foreclosure procedure.

Gender-neutral language ("his or her"):

The borrower who is not prompt in making the payments due under his or her mortgage risks losing his or her home through a foreclosure procedure.

Gender-free language (by making the subject plural):

Borrowers who are not prompt in making the payments due under their mortgages risk losing their homes through foreclosure procedures.

C. Richard Lauchman, in his free PDF (A Handbook for Writers in the U.S. Federal Government), provides six ways to cut "his," "his/her," "his/hers," "his or her," "s/he":

1. Cut “his/her,” “his or her” from the sentence, if possible.

Original sentence:

Every writer must use his/her good judgment.


Every writer must use good judgment.

2. Use "you."

Original sentence:

"Each researcher must bring his/her driver's license or other photo identification."


You must bring your driver's license or other photo identification.

3. Make the first term plural, and then use "their."

Original sentence:

Each researcher must bring his/her driver's license or other photo identification.


All researchers must bring their driver's license or other photo identification.

4. Use an article ("a," "an," or "the").

Original sentence:

Each researcher must bring his/her driver’s license or other photo identification.


Each researcher must bring a driver’s license or other photo identification.

5. Write a passive construction.

Original sentence:

Each researcher must bring his/her driver’s license or other photo identification.


A driver’s license or other photo identification is required.

6. In a lengthy document, you can use "he" and "she" interchangeably.

D. UN Guidelines for gender-inclusive language in English at with self-paced exercise in PDF format at

Topics discussed in the UN Guidelines are:

1. Use non-discriminatory language

1.1 Forms of address
1.2 Avoid gender-biased expressions or expressions that reinforce gender stereotypes

2. Make gender visible when it is relevant for communication

2.1 Using feminine and masculine pronouns
2.2 Using two different words

3. Do not make gender visible when it is not relevant for communication

3.1 Use gender-neutral words
3.2 Using plural pronouns/adjectives
3.3 Use the pronoun one
3.4 Use the relative pronoun who
3.5 Use a plural antecedent
3.6 Omit the gendered word
3.7 Use the passive voice

E. "Avoiding Sexism in Legal Writing — The Pronoun Problem" by Matthew Salzwedel:

Garner says that legal writers can simply avoid the pronoun problem by:

Deleting the pronoun. For example, instead of writing "No one can be elected to be a judge after he has reached the age of 65," a writer can say "No one can be elected to be a judge after the age of 65."

Changing the pronoun to an article like a(n) or the. For example, instead of writing "The attorney must file his brief by the deadline," a writer can say "The attorney must file the brief by the deadline."

Pluralizing the sentence so that he becomes they.

A. What is Plain English?

From Professor Robert Eagleson, Australia at

"Plain English is clear, straightforward expression, using only as many words as are necessary. It is language that avoids obscurity, inflated vocabulary and convoluted sentence construction. It is not baby talk, nor is it a simplified version of the English language. Writers of plain English let their audience concentrate on the message instead of being distracted by complicated language. They make sure that their audience understands the message easily."

B. Terms synonymous with Plain English

The term "Plain English" is used in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. In other countries such as the USA, the term used is either "Plain Language" or "Plain Writing" because it includes languages other than English. In the European Commission (executive arm of the European Union), the term used is "Clear Writing."

C. Clarity, not brevity, the goal of Plain Language/Plain English

Whether Plain English, Plain Language, Plain Writing, or Clear Writing, the goal is clarity for public communications of government offices and of business organizations. Whether government regulations, commercial contracts, medical waiver forms, all of these must be written in such a way that ordinary readers can make sense of them.

For people who might say that law is a technical field and that legal documents can only be written precisely through traditional legal language, consider the following:

1. Several years ago, all the US Federal Rules of Court were restyled using Plain Language guidelines.

2.  Since 1984, the Michigan State Bar has been advocating for the use of Plain English in legal documents.

3. The National University of Singapore Law School uses as its textbook "Plain English for Lawyers" by Richard Wydick.

4. In 2010, the "Plain Writing Act" was enacted in the USA, requiring federal agencies to write "clear government communication that the public can understand and use."

For more information, please watch "Demand to Understand: How Plain Language Makes Life Simpler | Deborah Bosley | TEDxCharlotte" at

D. The International Standards Organization (ISO) published its Plain Language Standard last July. The ISO says:

"This document establishes governing principles and guidelines for developing plain language documents. The guidelines detail how the principles are interpreted and applied.

"This document is for anybody who creates or helps create documents. The widest use of plain language is for documents that are intended for the general public. However, it is also applicable, for example, to technical writing, legislative drafting or using controlled languages.

"This document applies to most, if not all, written languages, but it provides examples only in English."

E. History of Plain Language bills filed in the Philippines

1. As early as the 14th Congress, (2007 to 2010) several bills were filed in the Senate and the House of Representatives seeking to require the use of Plain Language in government communications. There were also Plain Language bills filed in the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th Congress. Sadly, however, not one of these bills went beyond the committee level.

The late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is probably the first legislator to introduce a Plain Language bill in the Philippines. During the 14th Congress (2007-2010), she introduced SBN 3138 "Plain Language Act" and SBN 3503 "Plain Language in Health Insurance Act."

During his three terms in the House of Representatives, Rep. Rene Relampagos (1st District,  Bohol) filed several Plain Language bills.

2. For the 19th Congress (2022-2025), there are two Senate bills and three House bills that seek to require the use of Plain Language in government communications.

Senate bills:

(a) SBN-273: Plain Language in Government Documents Act

"An Act Requiring the Use of Plain Language in All Government-Issued Public Advisories, Notices, Announcements and Similar Documents Intended for Public Dissemination and Distribution"

Filed on July 11, 2022 by Sens. Manuel "Lito" Lapid and Joel Villanueva;!.pdf

"This bill seeks to require all national government agencies, offices, instrumentalities, including government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), to adopt the use of plain language in English, Filipino and/or other regional languages or dialects in all government-issued public advisories, notices, announcements and similar documents intended for public dissemination and distribution."

(b) SBN-714: Plain Writing for Public Service Act

"An Act Enhancing Citizens' Access to Government Information and Services by Requiring All Government Documents to Be Written in Plain Language and If Necessary, Translated to Local Language or Dialect"

Filed on July 18, 2022 by Sen. Grace Poe;!.pdf

"An informed citizenry is vital to nation building. If people know and understand laws, rules and regulations they are empowered to make informed decisions. To this, the government must take an active role in making sure that it communicates information that people can easily understand and comprehend. The use of plain language and the translation to local language or dialect improves the citizen's access to government information and service."


Sen. Grace Poe filed Plain Language bills as early as the 16th Congress.

House bills:

(a) HB05418: Plain Language for Public Service Act

"An Act To Enhance Citizens' Access to Government Information and Services by Establishing a System in which Government Documents Issued To the Public must be Written in Plain Language and Translated to the Local Language or Dialects, if necessary, and for other purposes"

Filed by Rep. Patrick Michael Vargas;

"The strength of a nation is determined by how well-informed its general public is. People who are equipped with the right knowledge through a transparent government are better capable of making decisions as they are aware of and comprehend the laws, rules, and regulations.

"In many government agencies however, communications are not always as comprehensible to ordinary citizens who so mostly deserve to understand and use the information.

"Often, instructions and guidelines are written in a language that they
are not fluent in leading to delay and additional cost when transacting with the government.

"This bill seeks to address this communication problem by proposing a measure that will ensure that public or government communications, especially those in written form, are easily understood by its end-users."

(b) HB05465: Plain Language in Government Documents Act

"An Act Requiring the Use of Plain Language in All Government-Issued Public Advisories, Notices, Announcements and Similar Documents Intended for Public Dissemination and Distribution"

Filed by Rep. Ernesto "Ernix" Dionisio Jr.;

"The government should aspire to make itself more accessible to the citizenry. To achieve this, communication between the former and the latter must be in general terms, unless the situation requires the use of more technical words. However, the government must ensure that relevant information reaches the masses lest it alienates them from vital knowledge."

"To ensure the widest accessibility, clarity and easy understanding of public information, all national government agencies, offices, instrumentalities, including government-owned and-controlled corporations (GOCCS), are hereby mandated to adopt the use of plain language in English, Filipino and/or other regional languages or dialects, as may be deemed necessary, for all covered documents."


Rep. Ernesto "Ernix" Dionisio Jr. mentions "communication between the former and the latter must be in general terms, unless the situation requires the use of more technical words." Bryan A. Garner, the editor of the authoritative Black's Law Dictionary, says that there are less than 200 terms of art ("technical words") in law.

(c) HB09158: Communication and Language Effectiveness for Accessible and Responsive (CLEAR) Government Act

"An Act to Enhance Citizens' Access to Government Information and Services by Requiring All Government Offices to Adopt Plain Language in All its Written Communications to the Public, and for other purposes"

Filed by Reps. Lani Mercado-Revilla, Bryan Revilla, and Jolo Ramon Revilla III;

"In pursuit of effective public engagement and understanding, all government offices shall adopt the use of plain language in English, Filipino and/or other regional languages or dialects, as may be deemed necessary."


HB09158 is inspired by the US "Plain Writing Act of 2010."


Band-Maid is an all-female Japanese band that’s considered as one of the best rock bands in the world today. The band combines genres such as rock (hard, progressive, punk), metal, pop, blues, and jazz. Formed in 2013, the band is composed of Miku (founder, rhythm guitarist, lyricist, vocalist), Saiki (vocalist), Kanami (songwriter, lead guitarist), Misa (bassist), and Akane (drummer). For more information about this band, please surf to my blog post at

For starters, you can listen to:

"Thrill" (the band's first MV; 2015) at

"Freedom" (the band's anthem with a great drum solo) at (this upbeat song will perk up your energy for days)

"Daydreaming" (midtempo power ballad; watch out for the guitar solo) at

"Secret Maiko Lips," "Gion-cho" by Band-Maiko, alter ego of Band-Maid; combines electronic instruments with traditional instruments, with the girls in kimonos

"Manners" (a blend of rock, jazz, and blues with a great bassline)

"Dice +Hate?" (bass versus lead guitar) in Lollapalooza 2023

"Wonderland" (blend of rock, pop, jazz, and blues)

"Domination" (another anthem; watch how fast the bassist switches from using a pick to slapping)

"Blooming" (featured in Netflix movie "Kate")


"Onset" (instrumental)

"From Now On" (instrumental)

"Endless Story" (the song that Band-Maid usually closes their concerts with)

"About Us" (slow tempo song; tribute to fans during pandemic)

"Catharsis" (acoustic version)

Band-Maid GIF:

Lounge / Facebook page "Family Code of the Philippines"
« on: November 20, 2023, 10:03:36 PM »

Some of the topics discussed in this FB page are:

1. "Alienation of affection": Can you file a civil case for damages against the homewrecker who took your spouse away from you and your children?

2. "Irreconcilable marital differences" as ground for divorce in the current divorce bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate

3. Protecting teachers from baseless allegations of child abuse under RA 7610 "Anti-Child Abuse Law" | Senate Bills 540 and 632, House Bills 364, 549, and 6940 on protecting teachers by amending RA 7610

4. If your wife or husband (or your
live-in partner) wins the lotto or any game of chance, will you have a share in it? | Systems of property relations between spouses or between live-in partners under the Family Code

5. A wedding through videoconferencing and solemnized by a provincial governor? A wedding where the bride and groom are abroad but the solemnizing officer (priest, rabbi, imam, or minister) is in the Philippines?

6. Legislation to protect Filipino children or teenagers who are social media influencers? Social media activities as "child labor" that needs to be regulated? | Articles 225 up to 227 of the Family Code

7. Supreme Court tears down the "iron barrier" (aka "iron curtain") between the legitimate and illegitimate sides of a family

8. New terms for legitimate children ("marital children") and illegitimate children ("non-marital children")

9. If your foreigner-husband divorced you and now refuses to give your child financial support because he claims he's not bound by the Philippine law on support, can you charge him criminally under RA 9262 VAWC?

10. Harmonizing Articles 14, 96, 124, 211, and 225 of the Family Code with Republic Act 9710 or the "Magna Carta of Women"

11. A child is presumed legitimate even if it's the result of sexual relations between the wife and a man who's not her husband — if it's born before the marriage is declared void; "Legitimacy" versus "filiation"

12. Are you divorced from your foreign spouse? Judicial recognition of a foreign divorce | Senate Bill No. 554 filed by Sen. Pia Cayetano seeks to amend Articles 13 and 26 of the Family Code to make it easier for divorced Filipinos to remarry through administrative recognition of a foreign divorce

13. If you're an illegitimate (nonmarital) child, you can force your biological father to acknowledge you by filing with the Family Court a "petition for compulsory recognition of an illegitimate child"; Should filiation between an illegitimate child and the alleged father be established first before support can be demanded?

14. Protecting the children of OFWs under the "Parens Patriae" doctrine | House Bill 8560 or the "Overseas Filipino Workers’ Left Behind Children Protection Act" filed by OFW party-list Rep. Marissa Magsino

15. Protecting teachers from baseless allegations of child abuse under RA 7610 "Anti-Child Abuse Law"

16. IVF (in vitro fertilization), surrogacy, and artificial insemination under the Family Code of the Philippines

17. If the father abandons his wife and legitimate children and fails or refuses to support them, can the wife ask the court to have her children's surname changed from their father's surname to her maiden surname?

18. Declaration of nullity of marriage under Art. 36 Family Code (psychological incapacity), extramarital affairs, and the "doctrine of unclean hands"; Can the spouse who's suffering from psychological incapacity file the petition to have the marriage declared void?

19. Marital infidelity is a form of psychological violence that's punishable under RA 9262 "Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004"

20. Things to do if (1) you're planning to get married to someone whose previous marriage was declared void, or (2) you're the child of parents whose marriage was declared void

21. Does RA 9255 — the law that gives illegitimate children the right or choice to use the surname of their biological father — apply only to illegitimate children who were born on or after March 19, 2004?

22. Dissolving a marriage has become easier with the Supreme Court’s ruling that "psychological incapacity" in Art. 36 of the Family Code is not a medical but a legal concept

23. Legitimate children can use their mother's surname, instead of their father's surname | Supreme Court ruling in "Alanis III vs. Court of Appeals" (2020)

24. Should adultery and concubinage be decriminalized?

 A. Bryan A. Garner is the author of "Garner’s Modern American Usage," "The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style," "Harvard Business Review Guide to Better Business Writing," and "Legal Writing in Plain English." He has also co-authored two books with the late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He has trained more than 150,000 American lawyers on the Plain English style of legal writing and has edited all current editions of the authoritative Black's Law Dictionary.

In "The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style," Garner says:

"The slash . . . has few uses in formal writing except with dates and fractions. It is best known as the star character in two grammatical abominations: and/or and he/she. It is especially unfit for legal writing because it is inherently ambiguous."

Garner includes "and/or" in his "Dirty Dozen" list of words and phrases that legal writers should avoid. He says that American courts have ruled, as early as 1932, that 'and/or' is not part of the English language.

B. In the UK House of Lords, Viscount Simon LC in "Bonitto v Fuerst Bros and Co Ltd" (1944) described "and/or" as a "bastard conjunction."

C. Recent Australian court rulings condemning "and/or":

  • Harrison Green vs. The Queen (2000)
  • Extraman et al vs. Blenkinship et al (2008)
  • Canberra Data vs. Vibe Construction (March 2010)

D. Recent US court rulings condemning "and/or":

  • California Trout Inc v State Water Resources Bd, 255 Cal Rpter 184 at 194, 1989: "And/or" is taboo in legislative drafting.
  • In Re Estate Of Massey (Superior Court Of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Probate Part, Monmouth County, October 1998)
  • State of New Jersey vs. Zaair Tuck (Superior Court Of New Jersey Appellate Division, January 2006)
  • State of New Jersey v. Victor Gonzales (Superior Court Of New Jersey Appellate Division, January 2016)

E. Louis-Philippe Pigeon, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada:

"And/or" seems to be used by writers whose main concern is to appear erudite. In my opinion, quite the opposite impression is created. Use of this conjunction which is not a conjunction is repugnant to the spirit of the language, English or French. (Drafting and Interpreting Legislation, 1988)

F. Some 1930s US court rulings condemning "and/or":

  • Minor v. Thomasson, 236 Ala. 247, 182 So. 16, 18 (Ala.1938) ("the interloping disjunctive -conjunctive-conjunctive-disjunctive conjunction")
  • Cochrane v. Florida East Coast R. Co., 107 Fla. 431, 145 So. 217, 218 (Fla.1932) ("one of those inexcusable barbarisms which was sired by indolence and dammed by indifference ... senseless jargon")
  • Bell v. Wayne United Gas Co., 116 W.Va. 280, 281, 181 S.E. 609, 618 (W.Va.1935) ("a disingenuous, modernistic hybrid, inept and irritating")
  • State ex rel. Adler v. Douglas, 339 Mo. 187, 95 S.W.2d 1179, 1180 (Mo.1936) ("meaningless symbol")
  • American Gen. Ins. Co. v. Webster, 118 S.W.2d 1082, 1084 (Tex.Civ.App. 1938) ("the abominable invention")

G. Michigan Bar Journal, August 2003, by Scott P. Stolley:

The real problem with "and/or" is that it plays into the hands of a bad faith-reader. Which one is favorable? And or Or? The bad faith-reader can pick one or the other, or both — whatever reading is better from that reader’s perspective.

Original sentence using "and/or":

"The negligence of Defendant Jones and/or Defendant Smith proximately caused Plaintiff ’s injuries."


"The negligence of Defendant Jones or Defendant Smith proximately caused Plaintiff ’s injuries."

" … of Defendant Jones or Defendant Smith, or both"

H. Philippine Supreme Court decisions on proper interpretation of "and/or":

(1) "China Banking Corporation and CBC Properties and Computer Center Inc., Petitioners v. The members of the Board of Trustees, Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF); HDMF President; and the Home Mutual development Fund, Respondents." G.R. No. 131787, May 19, 1999

(2) "Antonio D. Dayao, Rolando P. Ramirez and Adelio R. Capco, Petitioners, vs. Commission on Elections and LPG Marketers Association Inc., Respondents." G.R. No. 193643, January 29, 2013

Overview of the Supreme Court rulings:

(1) Chinabank vs. HDMF, 1999:

Section 19 of P.D. No. 1752 intended that an employer with a provident plan or an employee housing plan superior to that of the fund may obtain exemption from coverage. If the law had intended that the employer should have both a superior provident plan and a housing plan in order to qualify for exemption, it would have used the word "and" instead of "and/or."

(2) Dayao vs. Comelec, 2013:

The legal meaning of the term "and/or" between "refusal" and "cancellation" should be taken in its ordinary significance — "refusal and/or cancellation" means "refusal and cancellation" or "refusal or cancellation." It has been held that the intention of the legislature in using the term "and/or" is that the word "and" and the word "or" are to be used interchangeably.

The word "or," on the other hand, is a disjunctive term signifying disassociation and independence of one thing from the other things enumerated; it should, as a rule, be construed in the sense in which it ordinarily implies, as a disjunctive word. As such, "refusal or cancellation," consistent with their disjunctive meanings, must be taken individually to mean that they are separate instances when the Comelec can exercise its power to screen the qualifications of party-list organizations for purposes of participation in the party-list system of representation.

That this is the clear intent of the law is bolstered by the use simply of the word "or" in the first sentence of Section 6 that "the Comelec may, motu propio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, refuse or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition."

Plain English summary:

(1) The controversies in both cases cited above could have been prevented if our legislators had avoided using the phrase "and/or" and had clarified matters by choosing between "and" or "or."

And yet, if you look at the House bills and Senate bills that have been filed in the current 19th Congress, you will still see "and/or" being used.

(2) In coming up with its rulings in these two cases, the Supreme Court followed the rule in Statutory Construction that every word in a statute must be given effect.

It's astounding that the researchers who helped the justices who wrote these rulings seem to have been unaware of the numerous rulings from courts in the US, UK, and Australia that have condemned the use of "and/or."

"Should Academics Use ‘And/Or’ In Their Writing?" by Trinka

A. If you are from the Philippines and:

(1) a student in middle school, high school, or college; or

(2) an OFW who wants to improve your mastery of English; or

(3) an employee in government service or in a private company; or

(4) a college graduate who's preparing to take exams such as LET or CSC; or

(5) an English classroom teacher,

you might be interested in the following free downloadable resources:

1. 900-plus interactive exercises with time limit, automatic scoring, and an average of 10 items per exercise; around 174 megabytes total file size in Dropbox

Besides grammar and vocabulary, there are interactive exercises on reading comprehension, verbal analogy, logic list, paragraph summarizing and completion, correct sequence of sentences, etc.

2. "Spoken English Learned Quickly" resource with PDF and MP3 lessons with a choice of American accent or light British accent; around 850 megabytes total file size in Google Drive

B. For examples of the interactive exercises with time limit and automatic scoring, please surf to:

English Placement Test (45 items) at

Multi-level grammar tests (100 items) for assessment at

Comparative - superlative at

Infinitives - gerunds at

I created the 900-plus interactive exercises using the freeware Hot Potatoes from the University of Victoria in Canada.

C. The three major guidelines in the "Spoken English Learned Quickly" (SELQ) resource for learning how to speak fluent conversational English are:

(1) To learn to speak English correctly, you must speak it aloud.

(2) To learn to speak English fluently, you must think in English.

(3) The more you speak English aloud, the more quickly you will learn to speak it fluently.

D. The conditions for availing of these free resources are that these resources must used only on a personal and private basis; they must not be uploaded to a website or to an intranet. These resources are free of charge for everyone and must not be used commercially.

If you wish to avail of these free resources, please email me at for the download links.

I will be able to reply to you within two to four days. If you don't see my reply in your Inbox, check your Spam folder.

Now contrast their very readable prose to this kilometric sentence: "Owners, operators or persons charged with the operation of movie houses, theaters and cinemas who refuse admission to qualified senior citizens for free shall, upon conviction, be penalized by a fine of Eight Thousand Pesos (Php 8,000.00), or imprisonment of Three (3) Months, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court: provided, That if the violator…"

This example is obviously from a statute or an ordinance, and sentences in legal writing are notoriously LONG. Part of the reason why they're long is the so-called "proviso" which is signaled by the phrase "provided that," "provided however," or simply "provided."

A. Bryan A. Garner in his book "Legal Writing in Plain English" advises legal writers to avoid provisos.

Garner has posted in several exercises in eliminating provisos.

B. The Michigan State Bar journal through its "Plain English" section has a free PDF titled "Down with Provided That" which can be downloaded from

"Brilliant Legacy" aka "Shining Inheritance" (2009 blockbuster drama starring Han Hyo-joo, Lee Seung-gi, Moon Chae-won, and Bae Soo-bin)

Korean dramas (or simply K-dramas) have been a worldwide phenomenon since 2003 when "A Jewel in the Palace" aka "Dae Jang Geum" became a worldwide hit. Early last year, the blockbuster "Crash Landing On You" became the gateway drama for a new generation of K-drama watchers.

K-dramas are distinguished by their great writing and variety of genres and topics; several K-dramas, on the other hand, are distinguished by their excellent cinematography.

I oftentimes come across sweeping statements in websites and blogs about the quality of a drama's cinematography. For example, somebody who reviewed "Mr. Sunshine" gushed about its stunning cinematography; as proof, the reviewer posted two pictures of sunsets from the drama. Really? Numerous K-dramas have had scenes of stunning sunsets.

We will appreciate K-dramas more if we learn some things about cinematography. For example, the 2010 hit "Chuno, The Slave Hunters" was a groundbreaking drama because it was the first in Korea to use a digital camera (the revolutionary "Red One" 4K digital camera).

I'm a photographer, not a cinematographer. But to become a better photographer and writer, I read a lot and watch a lot of videos about cinematography. For example, I'm learning how a method in classical art and photography called "Dynamic Symmetry" can be used in cinematography.

Posted below are links to my "Campus Connection" blog where I have written spoiler-free synopses by episode of award-winning or hit K-dramas; in these synopses, I analyzed in detail the excellent cinematography of these dramas.

"Beyond Evil" (2021 psychological thriller; winner of "Best Drama" and "Best Screenplay" awards from the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards) at

"Brilliant Legacy" aka "Shining Inheritance" (2009 blockbuster drama starring Han Hyo-joo, Lee Seung-gi, Moon Chae-won, and Bae Soo-bin; this drama is noted director Jin Hyuk's debut) at

Example of arc shot and cross dissolve from "Brilliant Legacy":

"Encounter" (2018 hit drama starring Song Hye-kyo and Park Bo-gum; intro and outro animations by Korean artist Jamsan, who also did the artwork for "It's Okay Not To Be Okay") at

Example of the beautiful artworks/animations by Jamsan from "Encounter":

"Into The Ring" (2020 rom-com and political drama starring Nana; its use of wide angle lenses was probably inspired by the award-winning movie "The Favourite" directed by Yorgos Lanthimos) at

Example of wide angle shot from "Into The Ring":

"Kingdom" Seasons 1 and 2 (2019 hit zombie-historical dramas) at

"Flower of Evil" (2020 hit psychological thriller starring Lee Joon-gi and Moon Chae-won; its director won "Best Director" award from the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards) at

Example of cross cutting from "Flower of Evil":

"Mr. Sunshine" (2018 blockbuster hit; it won "Drama of the Year" award at the 6th APAN Star Awards) at

"Reply 1988" (2015 slice of life drama; it's the fourth highest rated drama in Korean cable television history; its cinematography was inspired by Wes Anderson) at

"Sisyphus: The Myth" (2021 sci-fi drama starring Cho Seung-woo and Park Shin-hye and directed by Jin Hyuk) at

Example of arc shot and tracking shot from "Sisyphus: The Myth"

"Start-Up" (2020 drama starring Bae Suzy, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kim Seon-ho, and Kang Han-na) at

Example from "Start-Up":

"Stranger" aka "Secret Forest" Season 1 (2017 crime drama/thriller starring Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona; it was featured on New York Times list of Best TV Shows of 2017 and won the Grand Prize for Television at the Baeksang Arts Awards) at

Example of symbolic or meaningful use of doors in "Stranger" Season 1:

"The Tale of Nokdu" (2019 historical drama starring Jang Dong-yoon and Kim So-hyun) at

"True Beauty" (2020 hit rom-com starring Moon Ga-young, Cha Eun-woo, Hwang In-youp, and Park Yoo-na) at

Example of tracking shot from "True Beauty":

“When the Camellia Blooms" (2019 hit rom-com/thriller starring Gong Hyo-jin and Kang Ha-neul; it won awards for "Best TV Script" and "Grand Prize in TV" from the Baeksang Arts Awards) at

Examples of low angle shots that mark the cinematography of "When The Camellia Blooms":


A. Link to spoiler-free free synopsis by episode of "Chuno, The Slave Hunters" (2011 historical drama starring Jang Hyuk and Lee Dae-hee):

B. Song Hye-kyo (female lead star of “Encounter” and "Descendants of the Sun") has a standard clause in her contract that she can only be filmed with an Alexa camera, which is the top of the line camera for cinematographers.

Link to spoiler-free synopsis by episode of "Encounter":

Link to spoiler-free synopsis by sets of episodes of "Descendants of the Sun":

C. Link to spoiler-free synopsis by episode of the classic K-drama "A Jewel in the Palace":

D. Link to spoiler-free synopsis by episode of "Crash Landing On You" (with lots of historical and cultural backgrounders):

A. From "Law Words" (Centre for Plain Legal  Language, University of Sidney, 1995):

Why do lawyers use Latin?

Lawyers use Latin terms because they are a convenient shorthand. Some Latin terms have been given judicial or statutory meanings and have become "terms of art". Some lawyers argue that Latin is more precise than English.

Lawyers also use Latin out of habit. Their use of Latin shows how the language of the law has remained static, while the English language has moved on.

B. The following persons and resources argue against the continued use of Latin in legal writing:

1. Michèle M Asprey (University of Sydney; author of "Plain Language for Lawyers"):  "Save Latin for your clients who are Ancient Romans."

2. US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says that she hates legal Latin. (Scribes Journal interview with Bryan Garner)

3. People, even those with Juris Doctor, master’s and doctoral degrees, are bothered or annoyed by the use of complicated terms or Latin words. (“The Public Speaks: An Empirical Study of Legal Communication”, page 14, by Christopher R. Trudeau Associate Professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School)

Trudeau says: “Zero respondents with a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree were impressed by such terms, and these are the people who are more likely to understand these terms. Based on these results, there is simply no reason to use complicated terms or Latin words. At best, you’ll impress a half percent of the people, but at worst, you will annoy around forty percent of them.”

4. “Two US court decisions found ‘res ipsa loquitor’ unduly confusing and urged lawyers to find a plain English way to explain the concept.” (Judith T. Fischer, Montana Law Review 2007, page 143).

6. New York City Judge Gerald Lebovits says: “Many who enjoy legalisms also enjoy Latin. They might better enjoy being understood. As the line from high school goes, ‘Latin is a dead language, as dead as it can be. First it killed the Romans, and now it’s killing me.’” (“On Terra Firma with English”, New York State Bar Journal September 2001)

7. Richard Wydick (Prof. Emeritus, UC Davis) in his book "Plain English for Lawyers": “Too often lawyers use Latin . . . phrases needlessly. Sometimes they do it out of habit or haste; the old phrase is the one they learned in law school, and they have never taken the time to question its use. Other times they do it believing mistakenly that the old phrase’s meaning cannot be expressed in ordinary English, or that the old phrase is somehow more precise than ordinary English.”

8. From "Law Words" (Centre for Plain Legal  Language, University of Sidney. 1995):

"Law Latin" is not precise because words are added changed or dropped. For example, in the early 1800's res gestae ("things done") statements were ones that could be used as evidence because they formed part of a disputed transaction, despite the hearsay rule. Lawyers then began to use res gestae carelessly to label any statements that they thought should be used as evidence despite a hearsay objection. Wigmore said, the phrase 'res gestae' has long been not only entirely useless, but even positively harmful. It is harmful, because by its ambiguity it invites the confusion of one rule with another and thus creates uncertainty as to the limitations of both".

Latin is not always logical. The prefix "in" means "not" in most, but not all, cases. Modern English words based on Latin ones demonstrate this confusion. "Incorporeal" means "without a body". However, when a company is "incorporated" it is given a body.

C. Latin should no longer be used by doctors.

1. "Rx for British Doctors: Use Plain English Instead of Latin" (The New York Times) at

2. "We should stop using incorrect Latin to describe parity and use plain English instead" by Philip J Steer (BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Volume 125, Issue 9)

Lounge / The quiz boys of the 1970s and early 1980s
« on: August 07, 2020, 12:01:39 PM »
Quiz contests during the 1970s and early 1980s were popular segments on television shows such as "IQ7" of Channel 7’s “Student Canteen” and “Pamantayan ng Talino” of Channel 4.

“Student Canteen” was hosted by Eddie Ilarde, Connie Reyes, Helen Vela, Bobby Ledesma, and Pepe Pimentel, with Eddie Ilarde hosting the IQ7 segment. On the other hand, “Pamantayan ng "Talino” was hosted by Chito Ponce Enrile and Chinggoy Gil Alonso. Channel 9 later on had a noontime show with Pepe Pimentel that also had a quiz segment with guest hosts. Channel 13 also had a show with a quiz segment that was hosted by actor/comedian Eddie San Jose, if I remember correctly.

Posted below are pictures of some of the guys (including myself) who regularly joined these quiz contests. The pictures were taken in front of the old GSIS building in Arroceros St. in Manila. The GSIS building used to be the venue of the Channel 4 studios; directly opposite the building was the YMCA, which is now occupied by SM Manila.

“Pamantayan ng Talino” was aired on Saturdays; part of our camaraderie as quiz boys was that, after each show, whichever team won treated everyone else to lunch at the YMCA canteen. The prize money was based on the points garnered, with the highest point total being 200. In those days, 200 pesos was a lot of money.

Some of the well known quiz boys are:

1. Bong Barrameda from UP Diliman: a perennial champion, he later became a writer and producer with PTV 4, overseeing its reporters during Olympic Games.

2. Jose Ramon Lorenzo from UP Diliman: he became a book author and has been a math teacher in his alma mater, Quezon City Science High School.

3. Jake Maderazo: an investigative reporter for a Channel 2 program; the producer for a radio program of one of the Tulfo brothers, I think; a columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

4. Vic Volfango of UST: a lawyer from the UP Law School.

5. Jim Bilasano: he became president of the National Press Club, if I remember correctly.

6. Angelito Gabriel of RTC: a CPA with the Joaquin Cunanan accounting firm.

7. Vic Saymo of UST: now a lawyer in Florida, USA.

8. Ed Garvida, Cisco Pangilinan, and Gil Maminbo: they became writers, researchers, and producers for PTV 4 and Channel 2.

Other quiz boys were Virgilio "Dick" Acacio; Julius Garcia (Philippine Science High School and UP Diliman); Esmie Tellerva; Nazir Abbas; and Ed Alvaran of PMI.

I will post more names of the quiz boys and more information as soon as I can.

In “Pamantayan ng "Talino,” I was part of a team called “Brain Trash,” which also included Jake Maderazo. Our team won for 28 consecutive Saturdays; if I remember correctly, we were defeated by a team of guys from UP Diliman (who all came from Philippine Science High School).

I won the first time I joined IQ7, with a perfect score. My prizes for having a perfect score included a plastic Christmas tree from a company in Escolta and a 126 film cassette camera. Looking back now, using that 126 camera started my obsession with photography. I later on became a journalism teacher and yearbook adviser in Rizal High School in Pasig City; as part of my journalism classes, I taught my students how to take pictures and to develop/print black and white pictures in our school's makeshift darkroom. My blog on photography and K-dramas (mostly historical) is in

We didn't have the Internet in the 1970s and early 1980s; to prepare for the quiz contests, we had to do our research in libraries such as the Thomas Jefferson Library and Museum in Araneta Avenue, the National Library in TM Kalaw, the Mass Com library in Luneta, and the Asian Library in Roxas Boulevard.

In the 1st picture below, Bong Barrameda is in the last row, on the extreme left (wearing a polo). Jake Maderazo is in the same row, 2nd from the right (with arms folded).

In the 2nd picture below, I'm the one in the second row, 2nd from the right. The pictures were taken with the camera brought by Benjie Liamzon of RTC, and the pictures were provided to me several days ago by Ed Alvaran.

Lounge / “an homage” or “a homage”?
« on: July 26, 2020, 10:30:24 PM »
Notice that I used in the OP the word “homage” twice. I wrote for example: “Its stunning cinematography also includes an homage to Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning 1993 movie "Schindler's List."

So, which is grammatical — “an homage” or “a homage”? From what I’ve read so far, either “a  homage” or “an homage” is correct depending on whether the “h” is pronounced.

Here are some interesting discussions on “a homage” and “an homage.”

A.  Bryan A, Garner (editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary) says that “homage” which was originally French (hommage) has already become an English word in spelling and pronunciation.

In his article “How do you say it? Try this quiz to evaluate your pronunciation skills” (ABA Journal) at, Garner says:

Some pronunciations are in flux as the result of repatriation: a word imported centuries ago, and thoroughly anglicized, is sometimes treated as if it were foreign by those unaware that it was long ago made English. Hence homage, pronounced /HAH-mij/ for centuries, is now often heard being pronounced /oh-MAHZH/ by those who think they’re using a French word.

B. “A or An Before Words Beginning With H?” at

C. From “A homage or an affectation?” (Grammarphobia) at

“Homage” has been part of the English language for around 800 years and should be given one of the two standard English pronunciations: HOM-idj or OM-idj.

(Note: I wrote a spoiler-free synopsis by episode of "Kingdom" Season 1 and Season 2 in Plain English at

"Kingdom" Season 1 and Season 2 are a Netflix-produced Korean drama series that have become a worldwide hit since Season 1 was aired January last year. Season 2 was released a few months ago.

"Kingdom" falls into several genres — horror/zombie, historical, political, and action. It was written by Kim Eun-hee based on her web comics; she's also known for having written the hit 2016 police-procedural drama "Signal."

Even if you don't like horror or zombie movies, you should consider watching this drama. Besides being a worldwide hit, it has also received critical acclaim and rave reviews. The action scenes are exciting and brilliantly choreographed. Its stunning cinematography also includes an homage to Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning 1993 movie "Schindler's List."

Although both seasons of "Kingdom" were filmed before the worldwide onset of the COVID-19 crisis early this year, those who have watched this drama say that the drama and the disease that turned people into zombies seem like a reflection of the current worldwide crisis.

From "Netflix series Kingdom a must-see even if you're not into zombie shows" (CNET):

I don't like zombie flicks.

But Netflix's new show Kingdom, a six-episode saga set in 15th-century Korea, had me hooked from the get-go.

Six episodes don't feel like enough of this intelligent, beautifully shot period drama from South Korea.

From "Netflix's 'Kingdom' Is the Perfect Show to Binge If You Miss 'Game of Thrones'" (Thrillist):

The show is pretty dense, but it's so exciting, and, at only six episodes, the plot moves swiftly as the characters find themselves deeper and deeper in trouble. Think Game of Thrones meets The Witcher meets the good bits of The Walking Dead. If that's not enough to convince you, here is a list of cool things this show has in it: Sick swordfighting (it's set in the 1600s, so not everyone had guns or knew how to use them yet) ...

From "Kingdom Season 2 (Netflix) Review - A Zombie Show That's Actually Good" (Gamespot):

When it comes to TV, there's no better show that combines the gore and thrills of a zombie movie with the political plotting and intrigue of Game of Thrones than Netflix's Kingdom, which just returned with a second season.

Note: My spoiler-free synopsis by episode of "Kingdom" at discusses the drama's cinematography and its homage to Spielberg's movie "Schindler's List."

Lounge / "Reason why" is not redundant or ungrammatical
« on: May 25, 2020, 12:58:07 PM »
Those of you who are well-versed in grammar issues may point out that a phrase ("reasons why" or "reason why") that I used several times in my preceding post ("Reasons why people fail the bar exams...") is redundant or ungrammatical. On the contrary, "reason why" is not redundant or ungrammatical.

1. In terms of usage, Bryan A. Garner says that "reason why" is not redundant and has been used for the last 200 hundred years or more.

2. The "Arrant Pedantry" website at gives the technical basis why the phrase "reason why" is not redundant or ungrammatical:

"... why functions as a relative adverb, but it appears almost exclusively after the word reason. (To be clear, all relative pronouns and adverbs can be considered conjunctions because they connect a subordinate clause—the relative clause—to a main one.) In a phrase like the reason why this is correct, why connects the relative clause this is correct to the noun it modifies, reason. Relative pronouns refer to a noun phrase, while relative adverbs refer to some kind of adverbial phrase."

A. People who pass the bar exams are usually first timers.

Several weeks ago, the Supreme Court released the results of the 2019 bar exams. Out of 7,685 examinees, only 2,103 or 27.36 percent passed the exams.

Most of the people who pass the bar exams are first timers; those who flunk usually have taken the exams before. Several years ago, the Supreme Court decided to ban people who have flunked the exams three times from taking the exams ever again. But due to petitions by numerous bar flunkers, the Supreme Court lifted the ban.

B. Incorrect English has been the cause of high failure rates in the bar exams.

In my blog post “How to pass your law school exams and the bar exams” at, I discussed the four ways by which people can pass their law school exams and the bar exams. Among these ways are to become proficient in grammar and to learn how to write clearly, concisely, and effectively.

In its guidance for the 2019 examinees at, the Office of the Bar Confidant cautioned the examinees that “incorrect English is a more serious problem than the lack of precise knowledge of law and has been the cause of high failure rates.”

Atty. Rita Linda V. Jimeno, a former bar examiner, stated in “The bar exams: Post mortem” (Manila Standard) at that: “Worst, many of the examinees were unable to express their thoughts in English. The English grammar of many of the examinees could shock even a high school graduate who took his secondary education seriously.”

Atty. Josephus Jimenez in “Why too many flunkers in the Bar” at said: “The grammar is wrong, the syntax twisted, the spelling incorrect. They cannot even distinguish between verb and adverb. They have forgotten their parts of speech. My God, I have been checking midterm and finals examination answer sheets since 1977 and I always suffer mental anguish, serious anxiety, and wounded feelings whenever I see how students express themselves in atrocious ways.”

Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Hererra, Chairperson of the Committee on Bar Examinations, in her report to the Supreme Court on the 1980 bar exams, also pointed to the examinees’ poor grammar and lack of writing skills as the primary cause for failures:

“Only in a few instances was there a command of the English language.”

“Require additional courses even in law school proper in the fields of English composition and grammar for those who are deficient in their ability to express and convey their ideas.”

“Very many examinees, to put it mildly, ‘murder’ the English language. Some are worse than high school undergraduates.”

“Many candidates did not use the proper tenses. Bar candidates should be advised to be more careful with their tenses and try to aim at clarity in their answer.”

C. Has our educational system failed to teach good grammar and writing skills?

Justice Art Brion said in “Legal education and the Bar examinations” at that: “My topmost concern relates to our educational system and the deficient high school and college preparation it has given our law students. Many of these students are ill-equipped for law school’s demands, particularly, in the use of English, reasoning and writing skills. If these students somehow survive law school, many of them would just end up joining the majority who usually become the Bar examination casualties.”

The failure of the educational system to teach grammar is a problem not only in the Philippines but also in the USA. Read, for example, “The Grammar Wars Come to Law School” at by Aida Marie Alaka, Washburn University School of Law (Journal of Legal Education, 2010). “This article provides a concise overview of pedagogical shifts in language arts education over the last twenty-plus years as well as empirical studies of high school and college reading and writing skills. It thus provides insights into why basic skill errors surface in the writing of law students today.”

When I was in high school in the early 1970s, English grammar and literature were taught as separate subjects. When I started teaching in 1981, the teaching method in vogue was the “Integrated Approach” where grammar and literature subjects were merged, with the grammar lessons taken from the poem, essay, or short story being discussed.

(In her famous short story “Visitation of the Gods,” Gilda Cordero-Fernado describes the heroine Miss Noel as an English teacher who is starting to use the Integrated Approach.)

I stand to be corrected, but, sometime in the 1980s, our education officials adopted the “Communicative Language Teaching Approach” (CLT). This approach emphasizes the ability to communicate (or be understood) rather than the ability to communicate in grammatically correct English.

For more information about the CLT Approach, surf to

Under the K-12 program, the students’ mother language is used to teach Grades 1 to 3; from Grades 4 up to senior high school, English is supposed to be the medium of instruction. But from my experience in giving English proficiency seminars, I know that a lot of teachers continue to use Filipino or local dialects as medium of instruction beyond Grade 3.

I think that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has implemented a program known as “English Plus” to address college students’ deficiency in grammar and writing.

If you’re planning to go into law school, you cannot depend on the educational system to make yourself proficient in English grammar and writing. As Atty. Josephus Jimenez said in his article cited above, he took time to study grammar even though he lived in a squatter area.

D. The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Lawyers and law students are poor writers.

Bryan A. Garner is the editor in-chief of all current issues of Black’s Law Dictionary. He has trained more than 150,000 lawyers and judges in the USA on the Plain-English style of legal writing and was the major consultant in the Plain-English revisions of all the US Federal Rules of Court. Besides co-writing two books with the late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (“Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts” and “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges”), he also wrote “Modern American Usage” (now on its 4th edition). He wrote the chapter on “Grammar and Usage” of the Chicago Manual of Style, and based on that chapter, he wrote the 500-page book “The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation” (2016).

I listed Garner’s qualifications and accomplishments to prove that he knows what’s he's talking about when he says that lawyers are poor writers. In his article “Why lawyers can’t write” (ABA Journal at, Garner says that lawyers (and therefore law students) are poor writers because they suffer from the “Dunning-Kruger Effect.”

Briefly stated, the Dunning-Kruger Effect means that “unskillful or unknowledgeable people (1) often think they are quite skillful or knowledgeable, (2) can’t recognize genuine skill in others, (3) uniformly fail to recognize the extremity of their own inadequacy, and (4) can recognize and acknowledge their own previous unskillfulness only after highly effective training in the skill.”

(Have you noticed that those who are absolutely tone deaf or “sintunado” are usually the ones who sing the loudest in a karaoke bar? That’s the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action.)

Garner argues that “the legal profession suffers from a pervasive Dunning-Kruger problem.” He says:

“This is puzzling but true. While lawyers are the most highly paid rhetoricians in the world, we’re among the most inept wielders of words. Stop and think about that. The blame goes primarily to the law schools. They inundate students with poorly written, legalese-riddled opinions that read like over-the-top Marx Brothers parodies of stiffness and hyperformality. And they offer law students little if any feedback (on substance, much less style) from professors on exams and writing assignments. But there’s plenty of blame that falls elsewhere. Writing standards have consistently fallen over the last century in secondary and higher education. (It would take a full-scale book to unpack that set of issues.) For law firm associates, their senior lawyers too often decry any emphasis on writing style (‘I’m just concerned with the substance of it! I leave style to others!’). And in general society, serious readers are becoming an endangered species.”

What Garner says about the lack of feedback from law professors on substance and style is true in the Philippines. Very few law professors note in the exam booklets the errors in grammar and writing that students make. Thus, students graduate from law school thinking that they are good writers when, in fact, they’re not.

What does Garner’s argument about the Dunning-Kruger Effect mean to you if you’re a law student or a bar examinee? Simply this: whether you’re a dean’s lister or someone who’s barely surviving in law school, whether you’re a potential topnotcher or a bar flunker —  you’ve got to show your law school exam booklets or bar exam booklet to a person who’s qualified to critique your proficiency in English grammar and writing. That person can be your English teacher or a professional writer, for example; if that person has a legal background, so much the better. Let that person be brutally honest in pointing out your errors in grammar and writing. (You can also avail of my limited free offer of personal coaching for law students and bar examinees; surf to for details.)


1. "Good English always has been a path to the legal profession" (Bryan A. Garner, ABA Journal) at article "How

2. Poorly Drafted Pleadings and Bad Writing Can Hurt Your Client and You" (Penn State Law) at enumerates cases where US courts reprimanded lawyers for their numerous spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors. For example, in Ramos-Barrientos v. Bland (2008), a Georgia court ordered the plaintiffs' lawyer to amend the complaint that used "convoluted sentence structures" and "page-long sentences."

E. Examples of poorly written answers from the 1980 bar exams provided by Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Hererra; the problem of “L1 interference” or “negative language transfer”

A. Question No. 6 (b) – “An accused was found guilty of double murder and was meted out two sentences of reclusion perpetua. How would be the accused serve the sentences?”

Answer – “Both penalties must be served by the accused, and he was electrocuted and died then it washes out the remaining sentence to served by the accused.”

My comments: Errors include lack of tense consistency (“was electrocuted” and “it washes”). The phrase "to served" should be "to be served." The answer is a rambling sentence that just piles on words and phrases without any thought for punctuation or organization. The introductory part of the answer (“Both penalties must be served by the accused ...”) is in the passive voice; as much as possible, using the passive voice should be avoided. On the substantive matter, the facts state that the penalties imposed were reclusion perpetua; why did the examinee speak about electrocution?).

B. Question No. 11. – “Patrolman Cruz, acting under orders of the Municipal Mayor, who wanted to put a stop to the frequent occurrence of robbery in Sitio Masukal, patrolled the place. At about midnight, seeing three persons acting suspiciously in front of an uninhabited house and entering the same, he arrested them without warrant and took them to the municipal building where they were detained in jail for about five hours before they where released.

Patrolman Cruz was accused of arbitrary detention. If you were the Judge, would you convict him of the crime charged?”

Answer – “No. considering his possession as peace officer by the higher authority to patrol the place where robbery are frequent. The one responsible for this is the Municipal Mayor who order without warrant of arrest and the act of the patrolman are in good faith believing to be a robbery entering a house.

So the proper party liable is the Municipal Mayor.”

My comments: Errors include using a period rather than a comma after the word “No”; “possession” should be “position”; “robbery are frequent” should be “robberies are frequent”; the first sentence is just a jumble of words and phrases (it’s actually a sentence fragment and not a full sentence if the examinee really intended to use a period after the word “No”); the last sentence is a only a bit better, but the two independent clauses should be separated by a comma; the phrase “a robbery entering a house” makes me want to tear my hair out!

C. Question No. 17 – “AA” was the owner of a jeepney for hire. When his driver was hospitalized, he hired “BB” as driver on a temporary basis and entrusted to him the vehicle for transporting passengers from Quiapo to Baclaran with a compensation of P30.00 a day. “BB” never returned the vehicle and after search the vehicle was found in Tarnate, Cavite, about to be sold. “BB” was charged with Qualified Theft and was convicted.

Appealing the judgment of conviction, defense counsel contends that “BB” may have committed Estafa but not Qualified Theft on the theory that the possession of the vehicle was obtained with the consent of “AA” the owner, and therefore, there was no illegal taking.

Decide the case.

Answer – “The defense counsel of the accused contention in untenable assuming now that there is no illegal taking of the jeep from “AA”. The owner but “BB” a temporary driver hired by “AA” failure to return the jeep such vehicle as now ready to be sold by “BB” have an intent to gain is theft cases as an element.

My comments: Where do I begin? In the first sentence, the examinee probably meant to say: “The defense counsel’s contention is untenable because AA did not take the jeep illegally.” In the second sentence, the examinee probably wanted to say that the element of intent to gain is lacking. But what the examinee meant to say could not be understood by what he/she actually wrote.

As Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera said: “The majority of those who failed in the subject have also manifestly shown their poor command of the English language, such that certain examinees may probably know the law but they lack the ability to express themselves. The result is that, one will find it very difficult to understand what they really wanted to convey in their answer to the question propounded.”

One possible reason why these examinees answered so poorly is that they thought of what to write about in Filipino or some other dialect and then translated their thoughts to English. This gives rise to a problem that linguists call as “L1 interference” or “negative language transfer.”

If your level of English is the same or just slightly better than the persons who gave the answers cited by Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Hererra, you need a miracle to pass the bar exams. Miracles, however, don’t happen quite often (that’s why they’re called miracles). But there’s still hope for you.

F. As a law student or a bar examinee, you must improve your grammar and writing skills; you must immerse yourself in the structures, rhythms, expressions, and nuances of the English language.

You need to improve your grammar and writing skills — whether you’re a dean’s lister or someone who’s barely surviving in law school, whether you're a first timer in the bar exams or a bar flunker, whether you aim to be a topnotcher or just want to pass the bar exams. But you cannot depend on just a review of basic grammar; you need to immerse yourself in the structures, rhythms, expressions, and nuances of the English language.

In my blog post at, I listed numerous ways you can immerse yourself in English. Also, a Google search will give you more resources such as the following:

“6 Wonderful Options for Learning English Through Immersion” at

“What is English Immersion? Does it Work?” at

How did foreign players in the NBA and singer Shakira learn to speak or write in English?

1. The article “Coming to America: How International Players Survived in NBA” at discusses how players such as Pau Gasol, Al Horford, Marcin Gortat, and Anderson Varejao learned to speak English.

2. “Shakira: How Walt Whitman Changed the Trajectory of the Singer’s Life” at

When Shakira first came to the US, she couldn’t speak a single word of English; her mentor Gloria Estefan thus got her an English tutor. But, even after learning to speak in English, she still wanted to learn how to write songs in English:

“To me it was very important to understand the nature of the language and how it works in literature,” Shakira said to VH1 in an interview. “I wanted to know how English grammar works…I had to read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in English just to understand the language a little more. It was too important to me to write my own material like I always did.”

(Note: Walt Whitman popularized what is called “free verse” in poetry; among his famous poems are “O, Captain! My Captain!” and “I Sing the Body Electric.”)

What can Shakira’s experience teach law students and bar examinees? Simply this — the structures, rhythms, expressions, and nuances of English are different from Filipino or any of our dialects. If you continue to think in Filipino or any dialect about what you want to write, it will come out wrong. Think in English, write in English!

G. Notes:

1. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 bar exams have been postponed to 2021. This is good news; you can take the next 12 months to immerse yourself in the English language.

2. For free interactive exercises in grammar and in Plain English, please surf to

3. Limited free offer of personal coaching for law students and bar examinees; for details, surf to

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