ICT Outsourcing Definitions and Types

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ICT outsourcing can be said as one of the current trends for companies around the world to do their business processes. It is estimated that ICT outsourcing starts in the early 1990s where Kodak uses external partner to handle its ICT resources. As Kodak does not have the expertise in ICT, they hire another company to help them handle the ICT resources. This phenomenon occurs because companies would like to concentrate their core business functions among other benefits. After merely 20 years, outsourcing is now needed by a lot of companies mostly at customer support and also back-office processes and this affects Malaysia as well. Currently, Malaysia is known as a main outsourcing hub for the world, where it is currently ranked third globally behind China and India in the outsourcing industry. This shows how significant outsourcing is to developing countries in Asia.

Outsourcing Definition

Outsourcing is defined as a concept of contracting out part of the organization’s business process to a third party that has the specific skills and services. The third party must have the skills needed by the organization so that the outcome of the outsourced job is as expected. Outsourcing can also be explained as the movement of one or many business functions of a company including its assets to an outside service provider who gives a defined service for an agreed duration of time and payment on a written agreement.

From these two definitions, we can see that outsourcing can be defined with the following characteristics:

1. A company transferring one or many business process to a third party.

2. A third party has the skills and services required for the business process.

3. Has an agreement or contract between the two parties on the price and expected outcome.

Types of Outsourcing

Outsourcing can be separated into two types, namely total outsourcing and selective outsourcing.

The first one is total outsourcing, where the IT budget being used to pay the external vendors is approximately 80% or more than the total. For outsourcing activities that only took less than 80% from the total IT budget, it will be called as selective outsourcing. It is named as ‘selective’ because the company will select only one or several IT functions to be outsourced to a third party.

Aside from these two main outsourcing types, there are also other types of outsourcing that are usually the sub-division from these two main types like insourcing and transitional outsourcing.

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7 Do-It-Yourself Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

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Halloween is nearing, and if you still haven’t thought of costumes for the upcoming scare-fest, you might be wracking your brains for ideas that can’t be beat. Unfortunately, many of us are really busy. As much as we would like to focus on Halloween costume hunting, there’s such a thing as real life, and we all have to attend to work, chores, and errands. So when your kids come knocking at your bedroom door begging to get a Halloween costume on the morning of October 31st, you know you’re in for it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry too much, as there are literally hundreds of Halloween costume ideas that you can DIY for yourself or your kids on a short notice. What’s great is that you don’t even have to break the bank doing it. Here are a few ideas.

1 – The Athlete

Surely you have someone in your family who has played ball. You don’t have to be the star quarterback or the pointguard. You just have to look the part. If your kids are into sports, then why not suggest that they go out trick or treating as a team-complete in their athletic uniforms. This also goes for cheerleading attires.

2 – The Ghost

You’ve seen it in the cartoons, so why not try it in real life. Get an old white sheet and cut out eye holes. You’re a ghost! The getup is not complete without moans and groans, so practice your moaning and groaning before midnight. You can add chains for that tormented soul effect.

3 – Ninja

Get a ski mask and wear an all-black attire. If you have a toy sword (or maybe even a decorative sword), then wear it on your belt. Now what makes you a ninja is not only your attire. Try to move stealthily around all day. Move against walls and don’t get caught in plain sight of people. When you cross the lawn, don’t walk. Tumble!

4 – Mad Scientist

Wear an old white lab coat and eyeglasses. For effect, mess up your hair and set it with mousse or gel. Bring test tubes and beakers wherever you go. Think of Dr. Emmet Brown from Back to the Future. Now that’s a crazy costume idea.

5 – The Backwards Person

Wear your clothes all backwards. Wear your shirt and pants backwards, complete with belt and necktie. You can even wear sunglasses or eyeglasses at the back of your head for effect.

6 – The Corpse

Wear your best formal attire. Make it so formal it would seem you’ve come straight out of the coffin. Now apply very pale makeup and wear very dark lipstick. Apply thick, black eye shadow. To complete the effect, act the part. Walk slowly-as if you haven’t used your joints for decades.

If you haven’t got the time, don’t sweat it. You can rummage around your closet and maybe you’ll find something that will look scary or novel enough to be your Halloween costume. If you can find an outfit from the 80’s, now that’s something to scream about:

7 – The 80’s Guy or Gal

Sure, the 80’s are making a comeback. But the 2010’s 80’s are different from the real thing. Maybe you still have some leftovers from the past few decades sitting at the bottom of your closet. Wear skinny jeans and a white T-shirt with rolled-up sleeves. Wear high-cut sneakers. Get yourself a thick headband and try to wear your hair as if you had a mullet. If you have long hair, you can curl it like crazy. Bring along a big boombox on your shoulder to complete the effect. Now, that’s scary!

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Source by Shauna Milton

Euthanasia – Insight on End of Life Decisions

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Twice in my life I have watched the health of a loved one deteriorate until their body could no longer support life on its own. It's like watching someone drown while holding a life preserver in your hand, except the victim has made a legal choice to refuse your help. In each case, a precarious but necessary decision was made-whether or not to allow euthanasia.

There are two types of euthanasia. Passive Euthanasia, which involves "not taking action" to prevent death, (when doctors refuse from using life support to prolong the life of a terminally ill patient) and active euthanasia, which requires an action on the part of a doctor or medical practitioner to "pull the plug" or administrator a lethal injection to bring about the pending death of a critically ill patient.

Life support replace a failing bodily function. When patients have treatable conditions, life support may be used temporarily while the condition is stabilized and the body is able to resume normal functioning. At times though, the body never regains its ability to function without life support. My grandmother refused to be placed on life support or be revived if he was code blue. My uncle, on the other hand, was placed on life support and suffered day after day while confined to a hospital bed for almost a year. Connected to tubes that fed him and machines that breathed for him, he could not talk or do anything for himself-things a healthy person would take for granted. Both my grandmother and my uncle were dying a slow death. My grandmother refused the life preserver. My Uncle accepted a life raft with a slow leak in a sea of ​​sharks.

Some people believe that it is not wise to circumvent the dying process. The late psychiatrist and famous author, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, shared that her experience in working with thousands of dying patients and their families convinced her that euthanasia was wrong even for patients with terminal illness. She believed that euthanasia (which she called suicide) cheats people out of the opportunity to complete their unfinished business. The unfinished business she referred to is the contemplation of the ultimate meaning of one's life. She felt the "end of life" period is a time for resolving old disputes, mending relationships, and coming to a final recognition and appreciation of all the good things that have been a part of one's life. Personally, I believe we need to do this daily! Dr. Kubler-Ross believed that, despite their compassionate motives, those healthy bystanders who encourage or even assist in euthanasia are stealing the last precious moments of these patients' lives. I understand her theory, but I believe that every person's unfinished business must eventually come to an end. If one is unable to live without life support, and feels his business is complete, it would be cruel to force them or their family to suffer needlessly.

USA Today has reported that, among older people with terminal illnesses who attempt suicide, the number suffering from depression reaches almost 90%. Even Jack Kevorkian, the notorious "suicide doctor," said at a court appearance that he considers anyone with a disease who is not depressed "abnormal." Kevorkian and others who argue in favor of physician-assisted suicide believe that even though depression is treatable; the disabling disease is not. Treating depression in critically ill patients will help to alleviate some of the emotional despairs, but it does little to relieve physical symptoms. The patient will still lie on "death row" until the grim reaper comes.

My grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema fifteen years before his struggle to breathe confided him to his climate-controlled bedroom. Much of the last year of his life was spent in a hospital. The non-stop care for his declining health was beginning to take its toll on my family who never left his side. My grandfather knew that he would not be able to recover from his illness and lead a normal life. Therefore, he signed a document in which he requested that he not be resuscitated or placed on life support in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. I remember talking with him in his final days. I asked him if he was ready to die. "I believe I am," he affirmed. He passed peacefully in the hospital without the assistance of life support.

Every person has a right to choose and no one should be denied the God-given power of free will. I believe a person, who is kept alive by machines against his / her will, becomes a victim of someone else's choice.

We have more compassion for our pets than we do for our dying family members. We will euthanize our sick and dying dog, but we will allow our loved one to suffer to the end. I'm not trying to pin guess on anyone about any end of life decision they may have made for someone, I am simply making an observation in hopes of helping others avoid the end of life trauma that my uncle ended.

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10 Ways to Beat Irritability During Perimenopause

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What’s really going on when you find yourself snapping at the cat for no real reason, or wildly impatient with the slow checkout girl – more than usual, I mean!!

If you’re in your 40s or early 50s, it might it be menopause. Or it might not. Up to 50 percent of all perimenopausal women experience disturbances in mood, including irritability. In fact, it can be one of the first signs that you are perimenopausal!

Your hormones may be off-balance and cause extra irritability as estrogen levels decline. It could feel like PMS on steroids!! A study involving menopausal and post-menopausal women found that irritability with others was associated with increased levels of Folicule Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Lutenizing Hormone (LH), hormones that are markers of ovarian aging and menopause.

Being irritable and intolerant with those around you, including your spouse, children and pets has consequences and none of them contribute to personal peace. Expressing irritability can alarm and upset loved ones and make you feel guilty for being miserable to those who don’t deserve such a generous expression of your wrath! And that’s not all, at this time of your life you may examine your past and future and decide to put all your relationships under a microscope to determine whether they’re worth the energy it takes to maintain them.

Irritability symptoms may include:

  • Feeling stressed during a ‘regular’ day
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling ‘on edge’
  • Lasting out in anger or frustration or screaming with rage
  • Less tolerance with people and events
  • Reduced patience
  • Over-reaction to something that wouldn’t have bothered you in the past
  • Irritability is a general symptom with many explanations.
  • Your irritability may have nothing to do with menopause. It could be connected to psychological and lifestyle factors including stress, major life changes, a history of depression or mood disorders, physical inactivity, excess consumption of caffeine, alcohol or drugs, or poor diet.
  • Physical causes can include drug withdrawal or reaction, cancer, headache or migraine, head trauma, anemia, viral infection, diabetes and hypoglycemia.
  • Irritability can be a side-effect of chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiac disease, diabetes or thyroid disease.
  • Irritability can be caused by caffeine, hunger and poor nutrition.
  • Your irritability may be the result of lack of sleep from another menopause indicator: insomnia.
  • Other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, and more, can cause or contribute to irritability.
  • Hormone imbalance yes, but the greater change is occurring in your brain which is rewiring during perimenopause. New growth of the myelin sheath, the coating that insulates nerves and speeds up the connection between nerve cells, is happening in the part of the brain responsible for emotional learning. These changes create greater clarity and help us shift from caring for others to more self-nurturing activities. Hence the irritability when asked to do things (e.g. help with homework, making meals) that you might have done in the past without thinking.
  • Irritability and relationship-housecleaning at mid-life may be the result of reaching the breaking point for tolerating an unsatisfactory relationship that’s gone on for far too long. That’s probably a good thing! It may surprise you to know that many years of simmering, unresolved emotions may also be related to various ‘dis-comforts’ or ‘dis-eases’ in your body. This is what’s known as the ‘mind-body’ connection to disease. Do you have toxic emotions or resentments that are negatively affecting your quality of life? Do you have negative feelings about important people in your life that are overshadowing your good feelings? These feelings need to be resolved – now.

How can you beat irritability? Self-nurturing is the key!

  1. Take time for yourself; either alone or with positive, kind people.
  2. Pursue pleasurable calming hobbies such as beading, knitting, gardening or other activities such as listening to your favorite music, having an Epsom salts bath or change your routine and learn new things by taking a class.
  3. Learn and use stress-reduction techniques including relaxation breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, tai chi, visualization and get more fresh air and sunshine – every day!
  4. Make a commitment to nourish and love yourself by eating healthier foods. Consider the benefits of nutritional cleansing to help you reach your wellness goals! (See my blog “Healthy Affordable Weight Loss Through Nutritional Cleansing” for more information.)
  5. Be sure to get enough B-vitamins, calcium, and magnesium every day.
  6. Keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum.
  7. Get regular exercise – a universal healing tool – it provides benefits for just about any condition you can name. Hate exercise? Consider getting a top-of-the line rebounder exercise machine – trampoline – so you can ‘hop on’ any time of the day to change your energy and get blood and oxygen flowing to your brain!
  8. Take an honest look at what’s going on in your life and ask yourself if the situation is serving you now. If you had to do it over again, would you? Is it better to let it continue, or have short-term pain for long-term gain? Your answers may help you to decide to renegotiate your relationships with family and friends. This could include changing ‘unwritten contracts’ with your spouse and/or children that have in the past made it OK for them to make last-minute requests that rob you of your down time, or expect that you’ll do all of the cooking or housecleaning. This can be challenging and take time to get everyone in the family on board, but you’ll feel respected and empowered as you stand up for yourself and eventually get your needs met.
  9. Share your life and problem-solve with trusted friends and relatives, or a good therapist. It’s worth being vulnerable with the right people. Try it and see.
  10. Learn and use an easy, simple procedure called Emotional Freedom Techniques (a.k.a. EFT or ‘tapping’) at www.EFTUniverse.com! This amazing procedure helps you release long-standing stress and is a tool for finding greater personal peace. EFT has been used for 20 years by doctors, therapists, coaches and holistic practitioners all over the world! You can learn it in 3 minutes and you can use it on yourself with great success! While some issues require repeated tapping and/or the help of a therapist who will bring objective eyes to your issue, EFT has been known to permanently resolve long-standing physical and emotional symptoms within minutes! When you’re ready to release the root cause of what’s holding you back in one or more aspects of your life, if, you’ve ‘tried everything’ and nothing has helped, you can find permanent relief with EFT to resolve issues of anger, irritation, fear, anxiety, and more. Take a few moments to imagine how it would feel to set down a 50-pound weight you’ve been carrying everywhere for years. That’s how I feel when I let go of garbage from my past and no longer allow it to control what I do now.

There’s no urgency to change most of what goes on in our lives, except for the urgency we give it – usually based on how much we want things to change. You deserve to feel good about yourself and the world around you. The sooner you take the first step that feels right to you, the sooner your life will get back on track. You’ll have shifted the energy and will soon find yourself feeling calmer and more like the eye of the storm than the hurricane!

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Source by Wendy Vineyard

Write About Home Decor for Elle Decor Magazine

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Elle Decor magazine is where any article writer would want to see your name in. Not to mention that it pays well, publishing in Elle Decor is very prestigious and would be at the top of any writer’s resume. Writing about any subject related to home decor requires a good homework to be done before you come up with your article aspiring to catch the editor’s eye.

Choose the Right Topic

The homes featured in Elle Decor magazine are only the finest and the most elegant. So if you pitch an article about shabby chic or primitive decoration, the editor is unlikely to want your writing. Homes that fit Elle Decor magazine can be found in every city, but you, the writer, must figure out where. A good place to look is your city’s Christmas or spring tour of homes. Only homeowners who have great decor and are proud of it would put their home on a tour.

After you have identified a house that you think reaches Elle Decor magazine standards, check through past issues to make sure that particular house has never been profiled. Also, make sure to come up with a fresh approach. The editor will never take a story on a home’s distinctive topiary, for example, if she ran another topiary story the previous month.

Elle’s editorial board requires sophistication first, but beyond that, the magazine features styles from all over the world. Though the magazine is originally French, Elle’s home decor style is rather international.

Send Your Query

Just like with any magazine, you must find out about Elle Decor’s editorial guidelines – the magazine’s rules for submission. The guidelines will specify word count limit for each section: features, reviews and trends. Some editors require that you send relevant pictures with your submission. Reference to your previously published work is also a common requirement.

Being such a prestigious magazine, Elle Decor doesn’t highlight the right contact information and the editorial guidelines. Getting this information and sending a dazzling letter to the right person at the right time is actually part of your pitch. If you can get a piece of paper in front of the right editor – a super busy woman with plenty of secretaries to intercept bad letters – it shows you probably have the tenacity of a good writer.

If you are new to writing, starting with Elle Decor will hardly be possible because previously published articles are a must. You can write for some other magazines, get some experience along with good references, and then try to get to Elle Decor bearing in mind the above-mentioned suggestions.

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Arlene J Chai’s Eating Fire And Drinking Water: The Identity Search In Historical Context

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I. Introduction

“There is sense… a plan behind everything that happens.”

(Eating Fire and Drinking Water, 1996)

In life, more often than not, we need to make hard choices, to consider people around us for our actions, who are either directly or indirectly connected to us, to shape the kind of world we want to live in, or aptly put, a world we want our children to inherit, and figuratively, be dreamers of a just and humane place where internal and external happiness exist, where people are in close companionship with what they regard as essential and where reverence to the Divine being is evident. Until such time that we feel complete and satisfied in our internal and external quests can we simply relax and anticipate the coming event/s to unfold.

The fundamental premise of finding the essence of one’s existence has been attributed to Plato more than 2,000 years ago and to date, the multitudinous battle cry of situating oneself in the world of varied essences is too loud a cry that it has found its niche in all disciplines and in all respects of life.

From this stance, the student critic anchors her analysis of Arlene Chai’s contemporary historical novel Eating Fire and Drinking Water. In simpler sense, the moral-philosophical underpinnings of the novel vis-à-vis its socio-historical context are given consideration. To underscore the backdrop of the novel, the student-critic uses the highlights of the paper of Alfred McCoy (1999) with his objective presentation of the Filipino’s traumatic experience under the Marcos regime.

II. The Novelist

Chai is a Filipino-Chinese-Australian, who migrated to Australia with her parents and sisters in 1982 because of the political upheaval. She became an advertising copywriter at George Patterson’s Advertising Agency in 1972 and has been working there since. It is there that she met her mentor Bryce Courtney, who continuously inspires her to improve her work. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Maryknoll College. She is famous for her ability to weave the political struggle of the Philippines so well into her fiction, so much that she is often compared with Isabel Allende, a successful magical realist Chilean novelist. She won the Louis Braille Adult Audio Book of the year for her novel “On the Goddess Rock” in 1999. Her first novel, The Last Time I saw Mother (published in the US and the UK) is an Australian bestseller. Although she has produced four novels since 1995, all of them exploring complex and often bittersweet relationships between generations of families and individuals, it is Eating Fire and Drinking Water, her second book that is most absorbing if not thought provoking.

III. The Novel’s Socio-Historical Context and Background

Arlene Chai’s “historicity” in this novel, although not comparable to Tolstoy (in Russia and the world over) in magnitude, scope and breadth maybe dissected in its chronicle of the political turmoil and upheaval in the Philippine political arena while embarking in a larger and better sense of search for man’s existence and its appurtenances, not putting aside its aesthetics and the diverse impact of arts in its entirety to humanity.

The text of Eating Fire and Drinking Water is divided into a prologue and four parts – the first being an appetizer, a teaser and the others the thematic narrative of “… the breezy, breathless saga of revolution and self-discovery.” (The New York Times)

The novel is set against the backdrop of the remarkable Marcos regime specifically the last years of the 1960s and the first two years of the 1970s when the Philippines witnessed the radicalization if not socio-political awakening of the country’s student populace. Students in various colleges and universities held wide and massive rallies and demonstrations to express their grievances on top of frustrations and resentments. On January 30, 1970, demonstrators numbering about 50,000 students and laborers stormed the Malacañan Palace, burning part of the medical building and crashing through Gate 4 with a fire truck that had been forcibly commandeered by laborers and students. The Metropolitan Command (Metrocom) of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) repulsed them, pushing them toward Mendiola Bridge, where, hours later, after an exchange of gunfire, four persons were killed and scores from both sides injured. Tear gas grenades finally dispersed the crowd. The event is known today as the First Quarter Storm.

Violent student protests did not end there. In October 1970, a series of violent events occurred on numerous campuses in the Greater Manila Area, cited as “an explosion of pillboxes in at least two schools.” The University of the Philippines was not spared when 18,000 students boycotted their classes to demand academic and non-academic reforms in the State University, ending in the ‘occupation’ of the office of the president of the university by student leaders. Other schools in which scenes of violent student demonstrations occurred were San Sebastian College, the University of the East, Letran College, Mapua Institute of Technology, the University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University and the Philippine College of Commerce (now Polytechnic University of the Philippines). Student demonstrators even succeeded in “occupying the office of the Secretary of Justice Vicente Abad Santos for at least seven hours.” The president (El Presidente Marcos) described the brief “communization” of the University of the Philippines and the violent demonstrations of the left-leaning students as an “act of insurrection.” (wikipidia.org)

Also recurrent in the novel is the lifestyle and inclination to arts of prominent personages both in the upper and lower rungs of society. Even the controversial and highly politicized wedding events concerning the Marcos children are given graphic presentation. During the Marcos regime, glamorous first lady Imelda Marcos had a vision to make the Philippines a hub of latest fashion, sophisticated art, and refined culture. She realized this vision through various million-dollar infrastructure projects. Such projects included the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which was meant to promote and preserve Filipino art and culture. It was established in 1966 and was designed by Leandro Locsin, a Filipino architect (who appreciated the use of concrete, as is evident in the facade of the main building.) On its opening day in 1969, there was a three-month celebration with a musical and other series of events. It was such a grandiose occasion that even Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Reagan were in attendance.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines was created in 1966 through Executive Order no. 30. It was formally inaugurated on September 8, 1969, starting a three month long inaugural festival opened by the epic musical ‘Dularawan’. In the novel, the controversy that haunts the construction of this historical infrastructure finds its place amidst the twisting of actualities and the rendering of deliberate artistic manipulation while also down siding its direct and indirect relation to prominent figures in social and political arenas.

IV. The Novel’s Analysis

“I sought to find a pattern, a deeper purpose, for, at the time, the events I am about to recount seemed random and arbitrary. The reporter in me, you see, insists there is order in the universe. And my own life attests to this. Besides, to deny the existence or order means to believe in a world of permanent chaos. And I find such a concept unacceptable.”

(Eating Fire and Drinking Water, 1996)

Exemplifying a style that extrapolates a different sense of fatalism, a rare kind of raw spirituality, and an elevated sense of paradox embedded in life’s mysticism, Arlene J. Chai’s Eating Fire and Drinking Water is a case in point.

The novel tells of an orphaned protagonist, journalist by profession Clara Perez, situating herself in the world of work while struggling in her journey for an identity search. Perez has grown tired of covering trivial subjects and wants to at least be given an assignment with substance to spice up her seemingly dull existence. When she was asked to cover and investigate about a fire that ensued in a small street, which happens to kill an old Chinese store owner, she tracked a web of complicated happenings, flaring up one after the other, leading to her unknown and bitter-sweet past as heightened by confrontation to her parents’ love story.

Set at a time when the people in the Philippines were awakened to call for government’s political reform, the novel capitalized on Perez’ involvement in the increasingly violent student demonstrations. As her involvement in these tumultuous activities deepened as the stories within stories unfolded, we discover that her own life’s history was closely connected to that of her country, that resemblance to what she had been covering as a reporter was to become her shocking force as she delved deeper to the facts of her stories.

“How was I to know that this fire in a street I had never been to would somehow eat away at my life’s invisible boundaries so that into it would come rushing names and faces which until then were unknown to me?”

(Eating Fire and Drinking Water, 1996)

Perez is in a way connected and disconnected physically and socially to other individuals in the novel. It is through these connections/disconnections that we were presented with the essences in Perez’ life. Little did she know and little did we realize that the larger her world becomes as she expands with people and with her involvement in their lives that her world will shrink to become smaller yet laden with bits and pieces to complete the whole puzzle, that of her being Clara Perez, the Don as her father and Socorro, her mother.

No surprise that when she met her mother, she confronted her with the statement:

I am Clara. The child you gave away, – and she continued almost dispassionately, – People are always making choices. Choosing consciously or choosing by default, but choosing nevertheless. Why did you choose to do this? What drove you to it? I want to know your mind at the moment of choosing.

(Eating Fire and Drinking Water, 1996)

Comparatively, the larger demand of the students that the government return what belongs to the people and the more gigantic clamor for the right to rule their own country may be seen as Perez’ desire to get hold of a personal identity that had been denied her by her mother at the very least, or of her wish fulfillment to finally get acquainted with her roots if not resolve her identity crisis to end her agony if not her feeling of overwhelming emptiness. Her routine assignment also leads her to find the identity of a father who is missing in her life, the Don who has made her a ‘bastard’ when he put family obligations and prestige above his attachment to a loved one being the first in the first family.

Essentially, the novel relates about relationships, creating an atmosphere which could only be drawn from the backdrop of a culturally, historically and politically diverse country as the Philippines, during Ferdinand Marcos’ (El Presidente) twenty one years of dictatorship. The story capitalizes on many interesting characters and events, which depict if not encapsulate the Marcos regime. Satirically, it chronicles brutal treatments to student activists and demonstrators on the one hand and traces lifestyle of political figures and their eccentricities and innuendos on the other.

Abounding the intricacies that unfold as one reads Chai’s novel is the defamiliarization of prominent personas of the late sixties and early seventies in the Philippines, ‘El Presidente’ and Madam, Judge Romero Jimenez – ‘the Hanging Judge’, the Defense Minister – ‘Butcher of the South’, the senator and his mistress and the more figurative ones such as those of the store-owner, Charlie the Chinaman; Don Miguel Pellicer – the sugar baron and the student activists like Bayani and the countless others. Although one may find it puzzling to figure out whether these characters are typical stereotypes or true-to-life, one may autodidact that there is historical basis in the conception of these names.

Drawing out some implications that go far beyond one’s country, McCoy (1999), professor of History at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and one of the foremost researchers/analysts of developments in the Philippines elucidated the legacies of the Marcos dictatorship in his paper, Dark Legacy: Human Rights Under The Marcos Regime to wit:

1. Looking back on the military dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s, the Marcos government appears, by any standard, exceptional for both the quantity and quality of its violence.

2. Under Marcos, moreover, military murder was the apex of a pyramid of terror-3,257 killed, 35,000 tortured, and 70,000 incarcerated.

3. Under martial law from 1972 to 1986, the Philippine military was the fist of Ferdinand Marcos’s authoritarian rule. Its elite torture units became his instruments of terror.

4. But as the gap between legal fiction and coercive reality widened, the regime mediated this contradiction by releasing its political prisoners and shifting to extra-judicial execution or salvaging.

5. During 14 years of martial law, the elite anti-subversion units came to personify the regime’s violent capacities:

6. Officers in these elite units were the embodiment of an otherwise invisible terror.

7. Instead of a simple physical brutality, these units practiced a distinctive form of psychological torture with wider implications for the military and its society.

8. The Marcos’s regime’s spectacle of terror opens us to a wider understanding of the political dimension of torture-one that is ignored in the literature on both the human rights and human psychology.

9. Instead of studying how torture harms its victims, we must, if we are to understand the legacy of martial law, ask what impact torture has upon the torturers.

10. Between the poles of local impunity and global justice, the Philippines emerged from the first decade of the post-Marcos period with signs of a lingering trauma.

11. Freed from judicial review, the torturers of the Marcos era have continued to rise within the police and intelligence bureaucracies, allowing the pervasive brutality of martial law to persist.

12. Under impunity, culture and politics are recasting the past, turning cronies into statesmen, torturers into legislators, and killers into generals.

13. Beneath the surface of a restored democracy, the Philippines, through the compromises of impunity, still suffers the legacy of the Marcos era-a collective trauma and an ingrained institutional habit of human rights abuse.

In his conclusion, McCoy (1999) aptly said that as the Philippines reaches for rapid economic growth, it cannot afford to ignore the issue of human rights and if the Philippines is to recover its full fund of social capital after the trauma of dictatorship, it needs to adopt some means for remembering, recording, and, ultimately, reconciliation. Further, he said that no nation can develop its full economic potential without a high level of social capital, and social capital cannot, as Robert Putnam teaches us, grow in a society without a sense of justice. Chai’s novel, Eating Fire and Drinking Water, is in a way a reconstruction if not creative representation of this great era in Philippine history, a way of recording, of remembering the bitter past while subtly crying for social justice and imposing the necessity of knowing the essences of human existence.

Weaving such a story of individual stories linked up with the protagonist’ (Perez’) discovery of her real identity displays Chai’s craft as a writer. For to weave them all together and triumphantly subsist the characters and the political story of El Presidente’s terrifying regime as apt background and fitting setting to a personal story, that of a bereft young lady in an orphanage run by nuns, is definitely exemplary.

The presence of binary opposites as illuminated by other important personages like Bayani, the student leader, and Colonel Aure, an “artist of suffering whose canvas was the human body” appointed by the government to arrest, torture and eventually murder Bayani worked with Perez to prove some points. These two towering individuals in the novel appeared as symbols of two extreme value systems — Bayani the good, and Aure the evil. It is between these two value systems that the people in the Philippines struggle for their freedom and democracy. We meet characters who were inexplicably linked to the others, both tender and violent as figurative descriptions may seem appropriate. There were subtle, delicate if not dainty moments that bespoke of the metaphysical links between the characters and their link to the unseen entity that helped shape each individual’s destiny, that of the china man and Socorro, that of Socorro and the nuns, that of Socorro and the Don, Perez’ father. This in extreme contrast to the more violent, brutal if not arresting moments like that of the graphic description of Colonel Aure’s violent handiwork, the injustice that the military have repeatedly done to their own people in order to zip their mouths. It is further with Chai’s observations on the impacts of these two value systems upon individual lives in the Philippines.

Chai’s words on the one hand seemed cathartic as she summoned the stains and stench of poverty, the narcissistic political corruption of the time while she also extrapolated on the cleanness of one’s soul albeit the nuances of life, how the chasm between good and bad maybe reconciled by the purity of one’s spirit. Her vision cannot be underestimated.

This embraced what Fred Millett (1950) in his book, Reading Fiction, clearly suggested that, “Every work of fiction implicitly and many works of fiction explicitly, express the philosophical, ethical or religious attitudes of the writer. The writer’s choice of a subject implies that he feels that the subject is worth treating and his preference for this subject implies his rejection of other subjects as less important. And almost no work of fiction is so brief to suggest what the writer regards as good and what he regards as less good or evil.”

V. Conclusion

Chai has her own ‘historicity” as evidenced by the way she chronicles her accounts of the political upheaval in the Philippines. On the upper hand, she touches a larger social dimension of struggling with the essence of human existence which the student-critic believes to be more transcendental if not moral-philosophical. In life, one’s person is never complete without its clear lineage, its linear direction of kinship and affinity, suffice to say that we holistically appreciate a tree when we take cognizance not only of the leaves on the branches but also the roots that are found underneath. Only then can we claim that we have sufficiently considered a tree in its entirety, a person in his ‘totality’ – that is one who knows and is conscious of his parental lineage, of his glorious or bitter-sweet past and is ready to inherit a world that is never free of surprises, a world whose history evolves as humanity evolves.

VI. References:

Chai, Arlene J. Eating Fire and Drinking Water. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.

McCoy, Alfred W. 1999. (Dark Legacy: Human Rights Under The Marcos Regime) Closer Than Brothers: Manhood at the Philippine Military Academy. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Millett, F.B. 1950. Reading Fiction: A method of Analysis with Selections for Study. New York. Harer and Brothers Publishing.

Wellek, Rene. 1963. Concepts of Criticism. New Haven and London. Yale University Press




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Create Some Pretty Pats of Butter

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Pretty pats of butter can add interest to your dining table or buffet. You can make them easily, in a wide variety of shapes, with an inexpensive candy mold you purchase at a department store or specialty shop that carries candy making supplies. Here's all you do:

Soften multiple sticks of butter. Use a knife to spread the softened butter even into a candy mold (flip the mold over once you have some butter in it, to make sure the butter is filling the mold completely; the butter tends to leave "gaps" of empty space, even when you feel like you're filling the mold solidly). Freeze the filled mold until the butter is firm.

When firm, pop the butter pats out of the mold. Line a large pan or baking dish with waxed paper. Layer the butter pats in the pan, with a piece of waxed paper between each layer to keep the pats from sticking together. Refrigerate the molded pats until you're ready to serve them. At serving time, place some crushed ice in a bowl and place the pats on
top of the ice to keep them cold.

A heart-shaped candy mold is perfect for butter that will be used at a wedding reception or rehearsal dinner. Candy molds comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Just choose one that is right for your special occasion.

For pretty herb butters, add some of your favorite chopped herb (s) to the butter before putting it in the mold.

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Using Character Sheets in Fiction Writing

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Writing fiction is a bit like baking a cake. You need the right ingredients in the right amounts, or it will turn out awful. For fiction, you need the right combination of plot, action, description and character development to bring your story to life for your reader.

Character development can be one of the most important things about writing fiction. You want to create a realistic group of characters to move your plot along and to do that you need to know them. But how much do you really have to know about them before you start writing?

Well, that depends on the kind of story you are writing. The length of your tale will dictate the amount of character information you will need to make them come to life. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve broken my character sheet down into what I use for each type of writing. Your character sheets may vary.

Flash Fiction

Writing flash fiction is one of the hardest types of writing. You have to create a story with just the minimum of words and it has to make sense. For most flash fiction, you only need the most basic character information.





Hair color and style:

Eye color:

Complexion and skin tone:

Character’s body build:

These should be enough to create a flash fiction character.

Short Stories

Short stories have a higher word count, so the characters in those should be more developed. You have more leeway with your character’s descriptions and can even give background information, which will make them more real for your readers. Use the above information and add the following:

Character back story:

Identifying marks:

Facial features:

Hand features:


Mannerisms or gestures:

Novellas and Novels

Novellas and novels require the most detailed characters because they are as much character driven stories as plot driven. Character sheets with more detailed physical description, personality traits, and an extensive background will go a long way to making your story one that pulls a reader in and keeps them reader from beginning to end. Use all of the above plus the following:

Strongest personality traits:

Weakest personality traits:

Needs of the character:


Father’s name:


Physical appearance:

Mother’s name:


Physical appearance:

Sibling’s names and descriptions:

Favorite sayings:

Interests and hobbies:

Favorite foods:

Favorite colors:




Financial situation:

Future plans:

Possessions this character values most:

What drives your character:

How does your character handle conflict:

What is standing in your character’s way:

What is their favorite room and why:

What vehicle do they drive:

Favorite sport(s):

What are your character’s prejudices:

How does your character feel about love:

About crime:

What is their neighborhood like:

What is your character’s philosophy on life:

What is your character’s family life like:

You also should have a rough background and timeline for this character, from childhood through the start of the story. Break it down into 5 year spans, unless your character is fairly old, then go with 10 year spans. Finally, have a profile summary, taking everything you have for the character and write up a one or two paragraph summary. It is a good way to focus your character’s information, and could be used in your story.

Book Series

When writing a series of books about the same characters, it is imperative to keep some kind of record of their traits. Do not rely on your memory when it comes to writing each book. As an avid reader of series books, it is amazing the number of times a character’s eyes have been dark blue in one book and dark brown in another then gone back to blue. While most casual readers won’t catch that kind of mistake, your dedicated readers will. It costs you nothing to keep a notebook with your character sheets and reference it when writing the next book in your series. It will go a long way to keep the continuity of your books intact.

A note on describing clothing. Unless clothing change is crucial to your story’s plot limit your fashion descriptions. You do not need to tell every single piece of clothing your character is wearing. A basic idea of their attire is enough for most readers.

Your characters are as important to your story as your plot. Developing them will help bring your tale to life, but taking the time to plan them out prior to writing is a great way to make them real to you and your reader.

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Source by Dawn Arkin