Doing Things Right and Doing the Right Thing



By Oliver Geronilla


 Most of the columns that I write for dailies and the articles that I turn in here at BO dwell on empirical matters that reflect our current state of affairs including, of course, my take on them.

For the columns that I write or co-write for newspapers, I get paid. For the articles I write for BO, I don’t get paid, but I feel elated. In both cases, I do my best to turn out highly credible and well-written commentaries. That’s my pledge, my commitment to the art of writing. And that, for me, is the right thing to do, isn’t it?

 Here at BO, after reading some pieces or comments, observers can opt to do many things. In fact, they have a wide range of alternatives to choose from in order to express their views on what they read and perceive. They can talk about them with their neighbors, their colleagues, their friends, and their family members; they can also keep a journal; or they can even “harness” BO as a platform to share their thoughts and ideas. After all, it is a “place” where such observations can be expressed and hopefully read and understood by the readers.

 Talking about reading, we all know that there are what we call passive readers and active readers. Both of them are observers, but not both of them are active participant-observers. When participation takes place, that observer joins the discussion by giving comments and suggestions or by writing articles. Mr. Jess Guim is a good example of an active participant-observer. He does not simply pontificate, he practices what he preaches.

 We have more examples of active participant-observers who have graced the electronic pages of BO with their well-thought-out articles. Sometimes, you see them, sometimes you don’t. Just like good neighbors, we refrain from being intrusive, from giving unnecessary provocation, from being snooty. We just give them all the space and time that they need; and in some rare occasions, we coax “observers” to say their piece in a unified prose. Alas, only a few have risen to that challenge. Do I have qualms about that? No, I don’t. Not even an iota.

 That’s doing the right thing.

 Going back to the subject of writing, we know that normally, effective writers are good observers. But are good observers also effective writers? Your guess is as good as mine. Writing style is a matter of taste. Effective writing is a matter of discipline; it reflects erudition; it promotes learning. There’s no single formula towards achieving fluidity in prose. Otherwise, it’d be like math where precision and accuracy reign.

 Writing should not be confused with the rules of grammar or diction. Writing is the end-result of our experiences, both professional and personal.

 So, my question is: why do we give pieces of advice on the ropes of writing when some of us have not even shown a proof of what constitutes “good writing”? Remember, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

 Our discussion on “writing” has drawn many comments from our readers. I just don’t see the need to tell others what to do. Even in writing workshops, we try to do away from giving run-of-the-mill suggestions. What we usually do is to encourage and guide participants to express themselves more succinctly without sacrificing clarity and content. And this entails practice and professional training. That’s doing things right.

 I am a writer, and I know what it takes to be one. For the serious ones, writing is a highly cerebral artistic expression; for the uninitiated, it is nothing but a mere form of human communication.

 Sadly, I can see a correlation between the issues we’ve tackled here about writing and the issues that haunt the kind of politics and politicians that we have in Bulan. They share the same problem.

 We always seem to know what is right. We always tell them what to do. And when we don’t get what we want, we raise a hue and cry about them.

 But can we blame them? Can you blame us? Until now, the LGU appears to have been under a spell of silence. Its PIO has remained mum about my queries. Is this the right thing to do? Is he doing things right? My blind horse neighs. Is it because I am just crying wolf? Beats me.

 Well, Mr. Gilana is an able participant-observer. And he is a good writer too. That is sure as God made little green apples. But what happened? Has he been reduced to silence with my questions?

 I am sometimes tempted to give him unsolicited advice—to do this, to do that. But that is simply not me. And that is not the right thing to do.


2 thoughts on “Doing Things Right and Doing the Right Thing

  1. “For the articles I write for BO, I don’t get paid, but I feel elated”

    Well, it’s nice to read that, Oliver. This shows that you feel at home at BO where you meet fellow Bulaneños of different temperaments and views of the world, of events in Bulan- and even of writing.

    Yes, of writing. As I mentioned before, the motto To Each His Own also applies here at BO for we are free people, matured and responsible enough to enjoy this freedom of expression, of expressing our opinions in textual form.

    In effect, each one is actually a writer or author, by trade or not, the moment one writes down one’s own thoughts for the purpose of preserving or of communicating them to others across time and space.

    Writing preserves culture, writing is culture. All the things that we’ve written and discussed here at BO make up its “cultural identity” or “cultural content”, hence, writing has a primary role to play in BO’s future survival.

    Still, after all our discussions here, I am for a writing style and level where I can learn something and / or improve my own writing skills in English. There is nothing wrong when someone writes good, but there would be something wrong in me when I couldn’t accept and appreciate this someone, his skills.

    But then again, writing is one thing, but substance and thinking are another things that are equally important. In practice, they are the content, the depth and flow of logic, the originality and the courage of the writer to present his ideas that I appreciate first in any written work.

    All these things we have said about writing are meant to motivate than discourage any Bulan observer who wants to share his or her opinions about the town or about other things that are educational.

    It’s the key word here- educational, not entertainment. Educational because it means quality and sincerity first. Not entertainment because it suggests quantity and the public- first- attitude. If the topic interests me, I just write about it and never really think about getting the public’s attention. This is the reason why I never worry about who will be reading what I write, a privilege we enjoy in this site because here we feel free and are not “selling” ourselves. Probably the reason why Mr. Geronilla feels elated because he has found in BO a public with whom he could relate- and vice-versa- at the same time feeling just as he is, unrestrained, and writing with a greater purpose in mind.

    To round-up my little comment, here is a thought to ponder:

    Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

    Cyril Connolly

    (1903 – 1974)


    • Jun and Oliver:

      Thank you very much for mentioning my name in your articles. I don’t deserve that much attention, considering the fact that I’m a newbie in the Bulan Observer. I only found this site after searching for the list of 2010 candidates for the province of Sorsogon last December. The search result gave me this site, Bulan Observer. I was expecting from the search result the blog site of Nonong Guyala, which I used to browse also last October, but did not find it in the top list.

      I should congratulate Bulan for having writers like you. The town should be proud of you on all your undertakings related to this BO.

      Writing and politics are always related in the Philippines. That’s how national publications exist in the Philippines. Topics on politics are the only issues loved to read and discussed by Filipinos. Unlike here in America, wherein varieties of newspapers and tabloids are sold everyday – with different targeted readers of different interests.

      So, going back to Bulan Observer, I don’t see anything wrong if you discuss about writing and politics at the same time. Your next move now should be how to increase readership. With your writing skills, comments and reactions will increase, too, once readership had increased.

      Jess Guim, New York City

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