The Marshmallow Test for Grownups

Harvard Business Review:

Interesting. Glad I’m trying to step “out of the loop.”

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Originally conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel in the late 1960s, the Stanford marshmallow test has become a touchstone of developmental psychology. Children at Stanford’s Bing Nursery School, aged four to six, were placed in a room furnished only with a table and chair. A single treat, selected by the child, was placed on the table. (In addition to marshmallows, the researchers also offered Oreo cookies and pretzel sticks.) Each child was told if they waited for 15 minutes before eating the treat, they would be given a second treat. Then they were left alone in the room.

Follow-up studies with the children later in adolescence showed a correlation between an ability to wait long enough to obtain a second treat and various forms of life success, such as higher SAT scores. And a 2011 fMRI study conducted on 59 original participants—now in their 40s—by Cornell’s B.J. Casey showed higher levels…

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Consolation prizes

I’ve never been short-listed for anything before, so getting short-listed for the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma prize was an honor. After not making it, I felt that it was enough just getting to that point, but I also suspected that I was using those same time-honored defense mechanisms that often come with admitted loss.

A friend said that awards were indeed overrated.

I incline to agree with her. But there was exactly one thing that was different about this.

I am not going to tell the full story, yet, but one of Purita Kalaw-Ledesma’s daughters helped me and my mom a long time ago, when I was much younger. I was a patient. All I can say is, what she did halted what could have been a derailment of sorts.

My mom introduced me to her after nearly 30 years tonight.

That was reward enough: to see that a former patient made good long after the story ended.

I’ll worry about the rest of my life after this weekend.

Quiet, wasn’t it? What I did for a fortnight

I have not been posting here for some time, again. Here’s what happened after the last post.

1. I was invited to attend the launch of a new coffee table book looking back at the life and work of Romulo Olazo at the Ayala Museum. The book includes some of his most famous pieces, including the series of Diaphanous and Permutation abstract paintings, and was launched at a PHP 700 price. This volume was launched on the occasion of Olazo’s 80th birthday, so it was definitely a party through and through, complete with the family song number. As with many of these evenings, it was a chance to meet some people I rarely get to see, and I was happy for it.

2. On a brief music note, I spent the second-to-the last Saturday of July at the Ayala Museum to catch not only the museum’s biggest “open day” ever, but also to see some acts I rarely get to see–the ones from Terno–due to increasingly busy schedules. The last weekend of July also featured lots of music and things besides. I got to hear Ryan Cayabyab’s score for La Revolucion Filipina, which led to a brief discussion on Mabini and the reliability of autobiographies as sources over drinks. Then I caught two dance performances at the PETA Theater Center which were quite interesting (though the Japanese one bears some reflection for another time). Finally I paid a visit to UP Town Center for UP Underground’s Tula, Kanta, Kape. I managed to catch someone whose track ended up on the Vandals Top 25 Tracks (So Far) list. (Look for #19.) I also caught a band who played a song which just turned 30 this year, making it much older than many of those who were watching that early evening.

Honestly, I haven’t been going out that much. Which is good.

3. The biggest highlight of these last few weeks was my first film project pitch at the Manila Film Financing Forum. I am not going to announce exactly what this film is, yet, because it will take me a while to assume it’s time to do that. For now, I can say that it is a documentary, and there will be lots of music involved. However, I enjoyed meeting with fellow filmmakers and people who are interested in backing a great project (or two). I am hoping to see some of these films get made, mine included, because I will be happy to say that I was there when these were just great ideas about to take off.

Here’s our batch photo (courtesy of Melai Entuna, who was Shift‘s associate producer).

The participants of the 4th Manila Film Financing Forum.

The participants of the 4th Manila Film Financing Forum.

Well, have a great week ahead!

Track of the Week – “Level Up” by Vienna Teng

My track of the week is basically in honor of some news I got concerning this singer. This is the carrier single from Vienna Teng’s 2013 record Aims, and it’s called “Level Up.”

The news? Well, she’s coming to Manila on August 18. I will leave it to you, dear reader, to find out from her official site where it is.

About A. – some biographical notes on the summer of 1994

There are some things I am prepared to share here that are too personal. The original version named her, and probably three other people I know. This version has been redacted. The essay is in honor of the team behind Scout Magazine whose launch event yesterday provoked these reflections.

Some of the paths on which I walk all lead back to a summer class 20 years ago.

When I was in high school (and I understand it is still around), Ateneo’s high school had what is called the Summer Enrichment Program. It often gained the nickname of “Soiree Everyday Program” in honor of the fact that most students came from private single-sex schools and hence it was a chance for them to interact outside those organized parties of that name. And most of the classes were, in many ways, academic. These helped kids gain a leg-up in high school subjects, all in an environment that was, in many ways, fun.

There were a few non-academic classes, though. After barely surviving my first year in high school, I persuaded my folks to sign me up for a class called “Leadership Training.” I no longer remember exactly why I chose to sign up for this class, but I do recall a few things. First, it turned out to anticipate my later years as a psychology student. Second, it was the first and only time I ever treated my classmates to a birthday party. Third, it was one of the smallest classes I ever had in school up to that point. And fourth, there was a person who turned out to be one of my first female friends since grade school.

She was the younger sister of someone I already knew from my first year class. She was just about to enter high school at Philippine Science High School’s main campus. I still have a faint memory of her face from back then, and probably a few other memories. We were both very articulate people and I recall feeling comfortable around her. I recall that we had four other people, three of whom I have met over the last few months. One of them became one of my most loyal friends in college (and up to now). Two of them were cousins and were connected to someone famous (or infamous, depending on one’s views). We had another young woman in class, whose name I forgot.

When I mentioned that this class anticipated my time as a psychology major, it was because a lot of it drew from the kind of methods I learned in a class on group processes and the inductive method. I can still vaguely remember that most of what we did were the sort of thing my friend from college and I would later do as psychology majors in that class. What I also vaguely remembered was that when the girl and I were pretty much on the same wavelength, it led to quite a bit of ribbing from my classmates.

We didn’t particularly take kindly to the ribbing, mainly because both of us saw each other as friends. But it was hard to ignore the feeling that she made my heart skip a beat, for a while. Those were the hormones speaking. Otherwise, if one pressed me further at that time, my crush that summer was one of my neighbors, who was then an incoming sophomore at PSHS herself. Back then, the whole idea that those sorts of things could easily occupy discrete slots was kind of impossible.

However, long after the six of us parted ways, I wondered about her. In a way, she was as mysterious to me when I first met her and then became, for a time, good friends. I asked her sister about her, and I probably spoke with her once on the phone after she entered high school. And then, probably not long after that, I forgot about her.

Almost. In some way, my time with that young woman left an impression on me I could not shake. It convinced me, and still does, that it is possible to find someone with whom we could have nice conversations and be fine about it. And probably, if we were together long enough, go through rough patches and learn from it. Since then, I have had glimpses of that possibility coming to life, little ones. Nothing like that summer. But it does not really matter. I somehow let go of it.

The last time I met her was in late 2006. I was working for a start-up and it was challenging. I do not recall exactly how she got in touch with me again, but she did. We ended up having dinner together. It turned out that, apart from catching up, she wanted to sell me something. I was not really willing to buy. But I did learn one thing: she liked the Goo Goo Dolls. And I did feel my heart skip a beat, for once. Since then, I have not heard a word from her.

So how did this brief encounter lead to where I am now?

A. came to mind this morning after I was at the Scout Magazine launch at SM Aura’s Samsung Hall last night. She was connected with two musicians I knew. One of them played in a band that night. The band has a lovely song about a mysterious woman who impacted one’s life in a good way. On reflection, the song reminded me a bit of her.

The other connection? Well, she may have been in the same high school class as one of the lead singers of another band that played that evening. It all seemed to fit. After all, one last thing we both had in common? We lived through the Nineties.

A final word: here is the song I connect the most with that summer of 1994. I remember this because the culminating activity was that we had to organize a closing program and those two cousins got the bands. One of bands covered this tune.

Keep on plugging! (Things to do this weekend and beyond) – updated

In keeping with my thrust to build a community of people who will go to art events because it’s a fun thing to do (not because of sundry lofty ideals, which is a sure-fire formula to get cynicism going), I have some things to note for this weekend and beyond.

1. Dani Girl is now being staged at the RCBC Plaza’s Carlos P. Romulo theater from now until the end of July. Today’s matinee for students features 50% off on tickets and a talk-back session with the show’s dramaturg. (Yes, we do have a couple of dramaturgy practitioners, but only one’s a LMDA member. Haha) For more information, please visit the Sandbox Collective website.

My short review: this is a play that explores the kinds of questions most people are confronted with when coming to terms with a critical life event. It does so in an entertaining way that does not, in most cases, talk down to the audience. The acting by the cast I saw in preview was pretty good, but I hope they fixed most of the technical issues that I noticed (especially, and unsurprisingly, with the sound system). And yes, I will recommend it if you’re looking for something different to see.

2. Join us later at the Cultural Center of the Philippines when we continue with the Gerardo de Leon Centennial film screening series. Noted archivist Teddy Co (who went stage-hopping at the last Fete de la Musique) will be introducing a series of clips from those works of Gerry de Leon that have mostly been lost to time. The event, like all other events backed by the Society of Filipino Film Archivists, aims to promote the importance of archiving film as a way to bring people in touch with our history of Philippine cinema. And yes, I think some of the older stuff are quite interesting in their own right.

The screening will start at 4 PM today at the CCP’s Dream Theater.

3. Our friends at Scout Magazine are marking the launch of their publication with a special event at the Samsung Hall, SM Aura Taguig. The event starts at 5 PM and features a good number of my favorite musical acts. I understand that the first performer will be this person I wrote about last April. [UPDATED: And I also hear that this band is playing. Naks] I also understand that the event and the attire is supposed to be Nineties-themed, so I will be in a variation on the old Ateneo High School dress code, which we had until uniforms were adopted in the late 1990s. (For those of you old enough to remember, you know.)

4. Finally, I would like to put in a small word (for now) for Ballet Philippines’ next production La Revolucion Filipina. The modern ballet by Agnes Locsin, former artistic director of the company and one of our country’s best choreographers, will be staged the last full weekend of July (26 and 27) at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo. For more details, please visit the Ballet Philippines website.

Oh, and why should one go to all these things? Well, they’re interesting. And fun. I hope you’ll have a good weekend, whatever it is you’re doing.

Track of the Week – “Association Dues” by Tarsius – updated

This week’s track is part two of a two-week homage to the band Tarsius, whose new videos were launched last Friday night at a memorable (though rainy) gig.

The track for today is “Association Dues.” When performed live, it includes one of the most interesting samples in their repertoire. One can hear a very, very small muddling of it on the track, but it’s an Easter egg for those who’ve seen them live. [Correction: Actually, the track in question is "Black Saturday." Oops]

You can watch all the Tarsius videos so far in this playlist from the band’s YouTube account:

The one for “Cosmic Convergence,” which I talked about last week, is in the list, and I urge you to watch it.

Here is my write-up on Paolo Ruiz’s video from Vandals on the Wall.

And just released: my write-up on “Cosmic Convergence” by Marie Jamora and Jason McLagan.

Incidentally, happy St. Benedict’s day to those who are connected, in some way, to this founder of Western monasticism!