WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Conferencing

SINGAPORE (MindaNews / 8 May) – “Mama, please don’t tell me you brought my only black slacks to Singapore!”

Liane’s plaintive wail came through by text just as I was about to enter the departure lounge of the only smoker-friendly airport left in the Philippines. I stopped to rummage through my backpack to find out she was right. I had packed through the power outage and so I packed wrong. Her pants will see Singapore before she does.

Imagining Liane’s outrage had me chuckling all the way past the immigration desk. Li can get so het up and no amount of cajoling her to use any of mine instead could probably budge her from her sulk. I texted her to shell out for a new pair and that I’d reimburse her when I got back. On second thought, go buy two, I said. Black slacks you will need forever.

Stubborn young lady replied,

“Tomorrow, mama. Mainit pa ulo ko.”

That sent me chuckling again, all on my lonesome.

Li just graduated from college and is about to start work. Just as soon as she lines up her work wardrobe, I think. It amuses me how she sets out to buy white shirts and comes home with a shoebox instead.

“What?” she says. “I need shoes.”

She’s in no hurry to work because I told her she’ll start covering the monthly electric bill once she starts getting paid. And when she gets her first raise, she’ll foot the water bill as well.

She said she’ll probably be out of the house by then.

I found that an opportune time to comment that when she moves out she’ll be footing not only the cost of utilities but also those for shelter, laundry, food, entertainment, transportation, and housekeeping.

Seriously, am not in a hurry to kick her out. And if it were up to my hubby, we’ll have her around till she’s 42.

I had wanted to bring her with me to Singapore. In fact, I had gotten my family round trip tickets to come with me. It was supposed to be a surprise gift to mark this time in our lives – Liane finishing college, Sagey going away to college, and hubby about to be based somewhere outside of Mindanao for once. I just did not figure on hubby’s passport renewal not coming through in time for this trip. I also did not figure on our girls NOT wishing to travel without their dad.

So much for surprise gifts. It seems like the giver was the one that got surprised after all.

So here I am all alone in Singapore. I got in at midnight last night to find a most orderly, well-appointed airport. Two cigarettes and an email check (but that’s just to see if my phone can work here), and I was all set to venture out there armed with a lifeline to googlemaps.com on my handheld. The airport shuttle dropped me and my backpack off along Selegie Road where a very efficient young man from Pontevedra, Capiz was manning the reception desk at the hotel where I booked.

In the morning, I opted for a long walk to the Aventis School of Management, this year’s host of the Asian Congress of Applied Psychology. I covered 3 kilometers in about half an hour and got there in time for the keynote speech at the opening. I love walking. And I really love walking where it’s safe and cool and there’s a lot to see and there are not so many people to jostle and push me around. Come to think of it, I hardly saw anyone else walking, though one or two morning joggers did overtake me on the sidewalk.

The conference today was a joy. As its name suggests, the participants are not all academics – or if they are, they are likely to be engaged in community work where they take psychological theories and test their relevance to their local context. They all get so passionate about their work.

There’s Nicolene, for example, who bats for creative play in the design of the Early Childhood Development curriculum in South Africa. She kept asking us all who decides what’s best for the children. And she asked me to write “skinny lady” at the back of my card so she would remember when it was time to email me.

There’s Anand who teaches high school chemistry and even after 20 years, he still wants to know how to make his students love the subject. He also wanted to know if I could work his camera while he presented his paper.

There’s Sabina who flew in with her baby last night from Sydney. They’re flying out later tonight. She said her paper has just been declassified so she grabbed the chance to present it to this jury of peers. She studied how boredom affects soldiers’ performance. We laughed over the fact that I’m taking it from the other end of the continuum investigating soldier performance under combat and operational stress (COSR) conditions, and how we end up with similar results anyway.

Liane would have been right at home here at this conference among these passionate people. It’s not hard for me to imagine that in their youth, these practitioners probably found it hard to come down from a bout of “mainit ulo” that they needed to walk off.

Ah, but take it from me – one does get to learn to channel all that heat. Well, most of it, anyway.

(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan’s column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to gail.ilagan@gmail.com. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it “Send at the risk of a reply,” she says.)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2014/05/08/wayward-and-fanciful-conferencing/

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