(On the Basic Human Need to Have Social Icons) by aLfie vera mella (published in the December 5-20, 2007, issue of Filipino Journal, a Winnipeg-based newspaper)
Aminin mo na! Huwag ka nang magpa-sosyál. H’wag kang mag-alala; hindi kita lalaitin o pagtatawanan. Wag ka nang mahiya na malaman ng buong mundo na mahilig ka sa showbiz, o di kaya’y meron kang iniidolo o minsang hinangaang mga artista—Mary Walter; Ric Rodrigo; Walter Navarro; Dondon Nakar; Nora Aunor; Dolphy; Low-Waist Gang; Niño Muhlach; Bentot; Pepsi Paloma; Tetchie Agbayani; Julie Vega; Wengweng; Palito; Cachupoy; Panchito; Kuya Germs; Regal Babies; Liberty Boys; Tito, Vic & Joey; Streetboys; Robin Padilla; Andrew E; Freddie Aguilar; Viva Hotbabes; The Hunks; Ann Curtis; o Heart Evangelista?
Ching Nolasco-Calayag, FJ columnist aLfie vera mella, and Charina Corbillon with Filipino stars Piolo Pascual, Marietta "Pokwang" Subong, Sam Milby, and Pinoy Dream Academy participant Kristoffer Abrenica of Winnipeg; October 26, 2007, postconcert dinner at Buffet Square
Haynaku, kung ililista ko ang lahat ng mga artistang Filipino—mula noong tambalang Carmen Rosales at Rogelio dela Rosa ng 1950s, Gloria Romero at Eddie Gutiérrez ng ’60s, Guy & Pip ng ’70s, Dina Bonnevie at Alfie Anido ng ’80s, Judy Ann Santos at Wowee de Guzman ng ’90s, hanggang sa kasalukuyang loveteam nina Toni Gonzaga at Sam Milby—e siguradong kukulangin ang isang buong papel ng listahan.
Peek at the Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous
Nothing is embarrassing or degrading about having a keen interest in showbusiness happenings, or about idolizing (or should I say, admiring) particular artists—whether actors or musicians. This interest is a natural human tendency—a hidden desire to peep into the kaleidoscopic lifestyles of the so-called rich and famous, or the need to find personal icons who will inspire us on our own endeavors or who will personify our own aspirations and realize our fantasies. Yes, nothing is wrong with all these, as long as this “stargazing”—just like any other preoccupation—does not affect us in a negative way. For instance, we should not find ourselves spending our meal budget on concert tickets, prioritizing TV shows over homework and other chores, or worst, emulating the misdemeanors or extravagant spending habits of such public figures.
Not Only Filipinos
I usually hear comments that mock the fondness of many Filipinos for movie stars, telenovelas, loveteams, and other showbiz-related stuff. On one hand, this is true, but nothing should be surprising about it. Every country has its own version of Hollywood, and this only means that showbiz is a lucrative business; and without patronizers there would be no showbiz at all. Therefore, showbiz and fans exist in every corner of the world, not only in the Filipino culture.
Haven’t you seen on TV the number of North Americans who go gaga every time the search for the next American Idol or Canadian Idol is on? Ever heard of Bollywood – obviously India’s version of Hollywood? Didn’t you know that Korean telenovelas are popular not only in the Philippines but also in other Asian countries? Here in Canada, have you tried watching MuchMoreMusic and see how many screaming fans gather around the music television’s homebase in Toronto, Ontario, every time Rockstars like Avril Lavigne and Nelly Furtado are in the house? Moreover, if we include sports as a part of showbusiness, then we should have to include the throngs of jersey-clad Canadians who talk endlessly about hockey or football whenever either sport is in season. Basketball or curling fan, anyone?
In the mid-’90s, with a Viva Records–produced album on our sleeves, I and my former band Half Life Half Death had the chance to trot alongside some of the popular Philippine stars of the decade: Regine Velasquez, Michelle van Eimeren, Jaimie Rivera, and Pops Fernandez.
The Hollywood Syndrome
In every culture exists a social phenomenon which I will call the Hollywood syndrome – the need of a society to identify with so-called social icons, or famous personalities (even infamous ones, and not necessarily movie stars) whose lives have become—for whatever reason—public items or commodities, making them powerful and influential but also exposed and vulnerable at the same time. To ordinary people, these public figures serve as role models, realizers of fantasies, shock absorbers of angst and frustrations, scapegoats or objects for displaced emotions, and epitomes of the best and the worst. They are admired, adored, loved, ridiculed, scorned, scrutinized, and regarded for any public act of compassion or blamed for any simple misdeed and, worse, for the world’s moral deterioration.
After all, social icons have more and better means of pursuing what ordinary people can only fantasize about. We like watching our favorite stars walk on the red carpet of fame, with hundreds of fans indulgently screaming behind them. We like witnessing our favorite teams winning every game in flying colors. We love having the chance to peek at their extravagant lifestyles, hundred-acre estates, hoards of jewelry, priceless wardrobe and vehicle collection—expensive assets ordinary people only dream about. On other days, we may secretly enjoy seeing them fail in their relationships, break the law and find themselves incarcerated or at least publicly humiliated, self-destruct because of drug abuse and other excesses. Yes, we praise them for adopting a homeless dog yet curse them so easily for deciding to give the same dog away.
So that when they are successful and able to achieve the seemingly unachievable, we may feel that indeed nothing is impossible, and that we too are capable of reaching the seemingly unreachable. So that when they succumb to their follies, wallow in their miseries, or drown in their failures and downfalls; we may feel less guilty of our own foolishness, less alone and lonely in our own sadness, and less pathetic and miserable with our own misfortunes.
Sa Madaling Salita
Ikaw, ako, sila, malamang lahat ng tao—anuman ang lahi o paniniwala—ay may satispaksyóng nakukuha sa larangan ng showbiz. Interesado tayong masubaybayan o masilip man lang ang buhay ng mga hinahangaan o kinamumuhiang mga personalidád—artista man ang mga ito o kilala sa ibang tanghalang gaya ng sports o pulitika…
Because we all need social icons who would mirror our own vanities and reflect our own follies.
To Blame Solely the Failure of a System Is Scapegoating
Not to disrespect the memory of the University of the Philippines student who apparently committed suicide because she did not have the money to pay her tuition fee; but medically speaking, anyone who committed suicide had something wrong with her psychological health--she had mental imbalance and poor coping mechanisms.
Of course there are so many factors that contribute to the sad event of a person's committing suicide, but to blame solely the government or any societal system for this is also unfair and myopic.
If one follows the logic that the government or the failure of a system is the cause of such deaths, then how come there remain so many economically challenged people in perhaps any especially third-world or developing country and yet they are able to cope with the poverty and daily challenges by staying alive?
If suicide is a normal option for a normal or mentally healthy individual, then all people who are having difficulties in life would have committed suicide already.
But, why then, many choose to live?
For one obvious reason: They are mentally healthy, they have normal coping mechanisms, and they have a balanced psychological setup.
Therefore, to blame the government or the failure of a system for suicides or personal deaths like this, secondary to the failure to cope with such challenges, is a folly of scapegoating.
It's really long overdue that leaders and ordinary people in general start acknowledging the impact of mental illnesses and psychological disorders and how to treat these or how to deal with these properly instead of considering them lightly as good topics for comedy shows or everyday humor.
This English band may be regarded paradoxically as popular and obscure
at the same time—popular because their 1982 single “I Melt with You” continues
to be a favorite radio staple in many countries; obscure, for many people
recognize the song but not the band and usually dismiss them as a “one-hit
wonder” despite their seven-album discography that spawned several radio
Without further ado, here's the official video of "I Melt with You," the song that catapulted Modern English into international popularity but which also overshadowed the rest of the band's beautiful discography
I discovered Modern English in the summer of 1983. I was on a vacation
at the house of my Aranzamendez uncles and aunties in Better Living Subdivision
in Bicutan, Parañaque, Philippines, whose friends were into Punk Rock and New
Wave. I was only 12 years old! It was the era when youngsters preferred house
parties powered by mobile music over going to clubs. It was also the time when
movies could be watched at home by way of Betamax films. There were no VCDs,
DVDs, nor even VHS tapes yet. One day, my Uncle Edmon's friend Rey Aguila came
over with a new Betamax tape in hand. It was the 1983 film Valley Girl, starring Nicolas Cage (as a romantic New Waver who
lived downtown) and Deborah Foreman (as a happy-go-lucky girl who lived in the
valley). More importantly, the movie featured as the main theme song a track
called “I Melt with You,” by a band known as Modern English.
Here's the trailer of the 1983 film Valley Girl, which introduced me to the song "I Melt with You," as well as to the English band Modern English.
Formed in Essex, England, in 1979, Modern English may have eventually
become more known especially in the 1980s as a Pop-leaning New Wave group
alongside the likes of A Flock of Seagulls, ABC, Duran Duran, and Kajagoogoo; but it
actually started as a Gothic-sounding band in the league of Joy Division and
Mesh and Lace (1981)
You didn’t know how much I wanted
You didn’t know how much I needed
Shadows on the wall, staring from
Pent-up frustration, failed to
1. Sixteen Days
2. Just a Thought
3. Move in Light
5. The Token Man
6. A Viable Commercial
7. Black Houses
8. A Dance of Devotion (A Love Song)
After watching Valley Girl, I
craved for more of Modern English. Beginning in 1985, I finally acquired cassette-tape
copies of the band's albums. The first of these was Mesh and Lace, originally released in 1981 on 4AD Records. It introduced
me to the Postpunk/Gothic sound of Modern English—dark lyrics and haunting
vocals on a backdrop of low-register bass, pounding tribal beats, angular
guitars, and synthesizer drone. Tracks that best represent this description are
“Just a Thought”; “Move in Light”; “A Viable Commercial”; “Black Houses”; and “Dance of Devotion
(A Love Song),” a regular staple on WXB 102 during this Philippine FM radio
station’s heyday in 1986.
The title of this track, "Move in Light," is a reverse of the song's mood...dark, aggressive, cunning, calculating, unyielding, and relentless until the end.
"Black Houses" exemplifies Modern English's beginnings as a Postpunk/Gothic-driven band in the veins of fellow English bands Bauhaus and Joy Division.
After the Snow(1983)
Dream of better lives the kind
which never hates
Wrapped in a state of imaginary
I made a pilgrimage to save this
Never comprehending a race that has
long gone by
1. Someone's Calling
2. Life in the Gladhouse
3. Face the Wood
4. Dawn Chorus
5. I Melt with You
6. After the Snow
7. Carry Me Down
8. Tables Turning
This contains the song that catapulted Modern English into massive, commercial popularity—“I Melt with You.” I regard this album as the band’s
transition from its Gothic beginnings to its eventual New Romantic
predilection. While the brooding theme of the lyrics remained, the instrumentation
had become upbeat and more intricate and the melodies more catchy and engaging.
My other personal picks off this album are “Someone’s Calling” (another WXB 102
airplay regular in 1986), “Life in the Gladhouse,” “After the Snow,” “Carry Me
Down,” and “Tables Turning.”
"Someone's Calling" may be found in the same album that contains the massive hit "I Melt with You." This song used to be a regular staple on the Philippine FM radio station WXB102 during its heyday in 1986.
The trademark tribal drumming style in Modern English's music is highlighted in "Life in the Gladhouse."
Another distinct aspect of the music of Modern English is the chorus-and-flanger effected bass, which served not only as a backbone to many of their songs but also as a substantial component of their music's instrumentation. The characteristic of the bass playing, particularly in "After the Snow," may be described as a subtler take on the style of Peter Hook (Joy Division / New Order).
Is it something in the water
Did it fall from out the sky
I've never known a feeling like
I wonder why
1. Rainbow's End
3. Spinning Me Round
4. Ricochet Days
5. Hands across the Sea
6. Blue Waves
8. Chapter 12
As Modern English progressed, its music became more instrumentally
intricate and Classical-inspired. To classify the band at this point as New
Romantic is very befitting. The third album, Ricochet Days (1984), may be regarded as the peak of the band’s
musicality—a bittersweet mélange of basic Rock tools (electric guitars, bass,
drums, and synthesizers) and Classical instruments (piano, violin, cello, oboe,
and horns); the song structures were well-arranged and the instruments
meticulously layered. The album featured also Kate St. John (on oboe), a
primary member of another Classical New Wave group, The Dream Academy.
favorite songs in this album are “Rainbow’s End,” “Spinning Me Round,” “Hands
across the Sea,” “Blue Waves,” and “Heart,” which best represents the band’s New
Only one-hit listeners would claim that "I Melt with You" is the only great song of Modern English; "Hands across the Sea" is, in fact, a far more romantic and better-arranged song in my perspective.
Many music reviewers and even so-called fans dismiss Ricochet Days as a lackluster album—I wonder why—because the album is obviously well-crafted and full of catchy and meticulously instrumentated but easily digestible tracks. "Spinning Me Round," for instance, is such an attractive song.
When I first heard "Blue Waves" in 1985, I knew right away that this is the trademark sound of Modern English—angular rhythm guitars, repetitive and patterned lead-guitar melody lines, melodic bass lines, catchy choruses, and memorable keyboard lines intricately woven into each other.
No doubt, "Heart" is where one can find Modern English in their most graceful New Romantic state.
Stop Start (1986)
Well there it is in black and white
No need to read between the lines
You made it clear to the letter
You’re breaking off the chains
1. The Border
2. Ink and Paper
3. Night Train
4. I Don't Know the Answer
5. Love Breaks Down
6. Breaking Away
7. The Greatest Show
8. Love Forever
9. Start Stop / Stop Start
The fifth album geared toward an edgier type of Rock, emphasized by the
dominance of the guitar and the drums and by the obvious absence of Classical
instruments aside from the horns. The structures of the songs were also
simpler, not much instrumentation and mood changes. Nevertheless, the Postpunk
angularity of the guitars, the keyboard melodies, and the catchy choruses remain.
In some degrees, the changing tide of what’s commercial in the Alternative Rock
scene in the tail end of the 1980s has affected the musical direction of Modern
English; but remaining members Robbie Grey (lead vocals), Gary McDowell
(guitars), and Mick Conroy (bass, guitar) were somehow able to maintain the
trademark danceability and sing-along hooks of the band’s music. It is also
worth mentioning the fact that there were three guitar players in this album—McDowell,
Conroy, and new member Aaron Davidson, and this explains why the sound became
edgier and more guitar-oriented.
Recommended songs are “The Border,” “Ink and
Paper,” “Night Train,” "I Don't Know the Answer," “Breaking Away,” and “The Greatest Show.”
"Ink and Paper" and the rest of the album Stop Start (1986) may find Modern English in an edgier and more Rock-oriented style, but the whole album still carries the melodic catchiness and meticulous instrumentation the band's previous music was known for.
The opening track of Modern English's fourth album, "The Border," is an urgent cue to the band's shift to an edgier kind of New Wave.
Many music listeners focus their attention exclusively on the singles, failing to discover the beauty of entire albums. "I Don't Know the Answer" is a gem even many self-proclaimed fans of Modern English tend to ignore.
As we move through cruel waters
Give me strength to be by your
It’s so difficult sometimes to be
The years they leave us your side
1. I Melt with You
2. Life's Rich Tapestry
4. You're Too Much
5. Beautiful People
6. Care about You
7. Let's All Dream
8. Coming Up for Air
9, Pillow Lips
10. Take Me Away
In 1990, Modern English released its fifth album, which contains a
re-recording of “I Melt with You.” Pillow
Lips was supposed to be the album that would market the band to the
so-called U.S. audience, thus the new version of their most popular song.
However, by the entry of the new decade, the Alternative music landscape had
also shifted from the melodic and romantic New Wave to the heavier and rugged
Grunge. Modern English was one of the casualties. Before Pillow Lips could even make a mark on the scene, many of those who
used to laud them had already written off not only them but also the entire New
Wave genre. Because of this, many people who used to love Modern English failed
to discover the beauty of this album. This was inevitable for it was released
during the pre-Internet ’90s, when music fans were virtually slaves of
commercial media, a time when the taste of many music lovers was still greatly
affected by the radio and TV. The songs in this album were Synthpop-oriented, had
less guitar works and sprinkles of Reggae and Dubstep.
Personal favorites are “Life’s
Rich Tapestry,” “Beautiful People,” “Care about You” (which I regard as the
twin song of “I Melt with You”), and the slow ballad “Pillow Lips.”
I regard "Care about You" as the twin song of "I Melt with You" in terms of title, song structure, and melody. My only complaint about it is its having been titled as "Care about You," instead of "I Care about You" to make it more parallel with the title of its predecessor.
I think "Pillow Lips" is a song that even many fans of Modern English had overlooked for many years. Should we blame it on the massive appeal of "I Melt with You"? Nah, I blame it on the short attention span of many music listeners, who could not hold their loyal interest in bands that they claim they love, ready to move on as soon as commercial media begin to cast their spotlight on another new band. "Pillow Lips" is a slow somber ballad, in which Robbie Grey's vocal sounds like that of Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet.
In "Life's Rich Tapestry," someone familiar with the band's entire discography could easily describe Modern English as being in their most Synthpop preoccupation.
Everything's Mad (1996)
I’ve read your books
And seen your films
I’ve lived this life
And tried everything
But I don’t know anything
1. The Planet
2. That's Right
3. Waves (When I Cum)
5. I Can't Breathe
6. Here We Go Again
7. I Don't Know Anything
9. Flim One
10. The Killing Screens
Most likely because of the failure of Pillow Lips to crack the U.S. market, Modern English went on a
hiatus soon after the release of the album. In 1995, the band became active
again but with only vocalist Grey as the remaining original member, supported by musicians Ted Mason on guitars and Matthew Shipley on keyboards; and in the
following year released the sixth album, Everything’s
Mad. By this time, even many of the band’s long-time fans had no idea that
Modern English was still performing, much so that there was a new album. Musically,
this album may actually be considered a return to the band’s Classical roots.
After the Rock-heavy Stop Start and
the Synthpop-oriented Pillow Lips,
the band had again beefed up their music in this album with string instruments such
as the cello, violin, and viola and even adding a touch of Hindustani with the tabla
My favorite tracks are “I Don’t Know Anything,” “The Planet,” “Heaven,”
and “That's Right.”
The melody of the strummed guitar in the intro of “I Don't Know Anything” had a ring of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”
"Here Comes the Sun" is one of my favorite songs by The Beatles, included in the band's 11th studio album, Abbey Road (1969).
For “Heaven,” Modern English obviously used as a springboard the song “Cheek to Cheek” written by Irving Berlin and first performed by Fred Astaire in 1935.
Here is Fred Astaire's performance of the Berlin composition, "Cheek to Cheek," in the 1935 movie Top Hat.
In between low-key concerts in the United States, the band began
recording new songs in 2001 for a new album; but because of difficulty in
securing a record label, they were able to release the album, entitled Soundtrack, almost a decade afterwards.
There’s such a lot of tension
It’s almost everywhere
A sharp increase in volume
It fills the air
1. It's OK
5. Call Me
6. Here Comes the Failure
7. The Lowdown
8. Up Here in the Brain
9. Deep Sea Diver
10. Antique Future
The sound of Modern English in this album is somewhat similar with that
of Stop Start—edgier kind of Rock, guitar-oriented,
steady bass lines, simple song structures, with a very minimal use of the keyboards.
Overall, the music has the sensibilities of '90s Alternative Rock. I could hear traces of Gin Blossoms, The Lemonheads, The Replacements / Paul Westerberg, and Toad the Wet Sprocket in
some of the songs and also echoes of Ned's Atomic Dustbin. I don’t mind the simplicity; but because I know that Modern
English could be really musically creative and intricate—best exhibited in 1984’s Ricochet Days—I am still
yearning for yet another Classical-rooted album of new materials. I hope this is not only wishful thinking.
are “It’s OK,” “Here Comes the Failure,” and “Up Here in the Brain.”
I couldn't find on YouTube an uploaded video of any song from the album Soundtrack, so I decided to make a simple one myself just to be able to represent this album of Modern English in this article I've written. I am hoping that Modern English will include this on their playlist at their forthcoming concert in the Philippines, to dispel the criticism that they are only as good as their old songs.
According to the band’s website, a new album is soon to be finished. During
their 2012 U.S. tour, the band previewed one song, entitled “Moonbeam.” If the
sound of this song is to be taken as a cue for the rest of the album, then the sound
of Modern English is definitely back to its dark Postpunk beginnings. Meaning, I have to wait for two more albums before I may get something that would sound like my favorite Modern English album.
"Moonbeam," a new song by the all-original-members-present Modern English, apparently included in the band's soon-to-be-released eighth album. If this is a cue to what to expect to the sound of the entire album, their music is certainly back to their humble beginnings...Gothic and Postpunk. The circle would have then been completed.
Modern English is currently comprised by the reunited original members
Robbie Grey (vocals), Gary McDowell (guitar, vocals), Michael Conroy (bass,
vocals), and Stephen Walker (keyboards) with additional musicians Steven Walker
(guitar) and Ric Chandler (drums). The reinvigorated group is actually
performing in the Philippines with another classic Postpunk band, The Alarm, on
May 3, 2013, at SM Mall of Asia Arena. And this is the primary reason I decided to
push through with my plan to visit home again—I am watching these bands live! I
will also make sure that I get to have pictures with them taken and that my
Modern English and The Alarm records get autographed.
I'm ready with my stuff for possible signing for my trip to the Philippines to watch the concert of the NewWave / Postpunk bands Modern English and The Alarm.
I went to the Philippines end of last
April, for three weeks, primarily to watch the back-to-back concert of the New Wave /
Postpunk bands Modern English and The Alarm. Because of this very article that I wrote, the members of
the band took notice of me; and the producer of the concert, having used the
article for the promotion, invited me to the press conference of the band.
Outside Jill's Bar: I, Modern English's bass player Mick Conroy, vocalist Robbie Grey, guitarist Gary McDowell, my friend Pogz Paz, keyboardist Steve Walker, and a friend of Pogz
the press conference, held at Jill’s Restaurant & Bar at Fort Strip in Taguig
City, Metro Manila, my luck doubled—the band’s guitar player, Gary McDowell,
called me to go onstage to perform with him an acoustic rendition of their song
“Hands across the Sea,” which I pulled off easily because I knew the song by
heart since my highschool days (in fact, I’m familiar with the entire
discography of Modern English). A TV crew from the local station ABS-CBN was
covering the event so the performance was captured on video. When the news
feature on Modern English appeared the following day on the program TV Patrol,
a video clip of the performance was included; so I got to be on TV once again.
(My former band Half Life Half Death had our taste of television exposure back
in the 1990s when we were still active in the local music scene.)
I sang "Hands across the Sea" while Modern English's guitarist Gary McDowell played the guitar, at their presscon at Jill's Bar
Another luck I got was McDowell’s putting me on the band’s
guest list. Finally, a friend of mine, Boyet Garcia, owner of a New Wave bar,
invited me to join him and some other friends at the dinner he hosted for
The concert itself was a blast, in the perspective of a
longtime New Wave enthusiast. The reaction of the audience was very positive,
dancing and singing along to many of the bands’ songs. Without a doubt, the
majority of the fans inside the venue melted over again with one of the bands
that defined their youthful summer days.
A friend of mine turned my attention to this video that is currently
becoming viral, which features a Philippine politician, Cynthia Villar, who is a former chairperson of Committee on Education, who was suggesting that
the four-year-degree profession of Nursing be demoted to a two-year program.
Here is my commentary article about it.
The Limitations of TV-show
Before anything else, I just want to commentate on the manner of the
interview itself. The segment was obviously very time-constrained, so Villar
understandably didn't have time to expound on the ideas/concept about that
so-called room nursing that she was talking about. I could imagine, if the
interview was allotted a longer time, then Villar could have explained better
her positions. Serious and technical issues like that demand a longer time for participants to be able to hammer the finer points; a 30-minute or even a one-hour TV program with lots of commercials is not
enough for such a discourse or question-and-answer segment, making the points unresolved and more vague rather than making them clearer.
I could imagine if I get to be interviewed about atheism or about my
beliefs on a TV program in which the interview portion is just a part of the
whole show, I'd surely be unable to expound on what I want to express; and many
viewers would certainly misinterpret me or lambast me for that.
Opposing Villar’s Myopic View
First, Villar was generalizing. She said that "gusto lang nilang
maging 'room nurse...'" That is the problem when speakers or writers
generalize, they encapsulate a whole population of diverse individuals into one
single entity, assuming that all these individuals share the same ideas and
intentions. For sure, there are some aspirants of the nursing profession who just wanted to be simple bedside nurses, just like there are doctors who are contented into becoming only general practitioners of medicine. But, never generalize and never underestimate the entire population as a whole; of course, there remain so many nursing students who intend to pursue nursing as a degree and not just a certificate course, to be able to work in specialized nursing areas.
mag-aalaga...." – this is very ignorant. This is insufficient
information about nurse aides or licensed practical nurses or even caregivers.
"Care-giving" has a bigger scope than what this term means; it
includes the feeding, morning care, evening care, washing, assisting with
medication, exercising, etc.
I think I knew what Villar was getting into. The problem was, she still
lacked the necessary information to be able to expound on the concept she was
trying to talk about. So, aside from the lack of information, she also lacked
the skills to use proper lingo in tackling the issue; she lacked communication
skills as well, so she ended up getting misunderstood.
Good thing on my part, I was able to read between her crooked lines
because I'm familiar with the nursing curricula available—I being a nurse
myself (but working now only as a nurse aide). I surmise that what she was
referring to when she used "room nurse" is the two-year Licensed
Practical Nursing Program (LPN) as opposed to the four-year bachelor of science
degree in nursing (BSN, or BN here in Canada). Maybe she just lacked the
interview time (so she was pressured to squeeze into the limited time everything
that she wanted to say about the two distinct nursing programs.
Expounding on Villar’s Seeming
I somehow side with her if the idea that she was really trying to
expound on was the idea that I think I was able to grasp from the short
Licensed Practical Nursing
LPN is a two-year nursing program. Many nurses here in Manitoba are
only LPNs. They could still get jobs, but the limitation is, they could get
jobs usually only in personal care homes (nursing homes), in which their
primary tasks are limited to acting as assistant to BNs. They usually just give
out medication prescribed already by physicians, they could do wound dressing,
they could do simple physical assessment, and they could write nursing reports.
The problem is, most hospitals here don't hire LPNs; they require BNs; after
all, there are already nurse aides (or health care aides) to do the so-called
dirty work—washing, dressing up, feeding, ordinary range-of-motion exercises,
and reporting simple input-output measurement.
Bachelor of Nursing
Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a four-year degree. Aside from the
tasks of an LPN, the significant tasks of BNs include the administration of IV
meds (intravenous medications) [LPNs are not allowed to do that], drawing of
blood (for blood analysis), and working in specialized areas like emergency
wards, psychiatric institutes, operating and delivery rooms, and dialysis
BNs get higher salaries and have greater job opportunities compared
So, in the above, the distinction between the two-year LPN and the
four-year BN becomes clear.
If I am unmistaken, this could be the idea that Villar was trying to
talk about but was just unable to articulate the whole concept either because
she lacked the time to expound on it, given the nature of an interview segment
on a TV show; or because her information about the subject matter was
insufficient so she was spitting half-baked ideas.
Here in Canada, because job opportunities are higher and the resources
more abundant—add to that, health care is shouldered by the government—LPNs
could still be a good option for those who don't have the time and money to
finish a four-year course. Anyway, they could upgrade into BN whenever they
feel that they are ready.
Unfortunately, in the Philippines, where the circumstances are very
different and the opportunities scarce, LPN seems unnecessary. Besides,
finishing the four-year BN (or BSN) would make the person more marketable and
competitive in North American and European countries in which nurses are viewed
as highly skilled and high-salaried healthcare professionals who could work
independently with minimal collaboration with physicians; unlike in the
Philippines and other economically challenged countries where nurses are often derogated as "mga alalay ng doktor
at mga tagahugas ng puwet ng mga pasyente."
I am yet to update my knowledge on the current status of the LPN and BN
programs here in Canada, so the descriptions I gave about the programs might be
a bit outdated. But I think I was able to make the issue a bit clearer.