THERE are around a million English words in use, according to good old Webster, and this column would only use a hundred or so of them. So it was no surprise that when our editor in chief told me six months ago that I need to start thinking of a name for my column, I quickly grabbed the thick Webster Dictionary from his desk to look for a good one. After spending an hour browsing through it, I developed a slight headache from the plethora of words in small print. In frustration, I decided to take a breather. In the midst of cleaning my locker, I found a very dusty and musty book on modern literary criticism that I had unwittingly inherited from one of the old owners of the locker. I sat down for a quick read. On page 63, French literary theorist Gérard Genette discusses French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’s definition of mythical thought as a “kind of intellectual bricolage.” “The nature of bricolage is to make use of materials and tools that were not intended for the task in hand. The rule of bricolage is ‘always make to do with whatever is available.’” It was the first time I encountered the word and I immediately liked the way Genette used it in his context. After a quick google and wikipedia search, I decided to type the word bricolage as the name of my column. Bricolage is used in several disciplines, usually in post-structuralist, visual arts and literature, which came from the French verb bricoleur. In many ways, the name fits a column. For what is this column made up of, or any of the other columnist’s columns but a myriad of concepts and data that have been borrowed, read, seen, or heard before? Column writers need to come up with good column topics almost everyday on a deadline, and the only way to do that is to take as sources the tri-media and the Internet.

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A person who engages in bricolage is a bricoleur, someone who invents his or her own strategies for using existing materials in a creative, resourceful, and original way. In a sense, Filipinos are bricoleurs, resourceful in whatever they do. Being a Third World country, we Filipinos are as not as privileged as our Western counterparts. For one, we don’t have a good system of waste management. The smell of marinated trash is not just hell for the nostrils; it’s a sore for the eyes as well. We don’t have enough space for trash landfills even. So what do many Filipinos do? Recycle. From tetra pack bags, junkyard metal artworks, plastic artworks, to can opener accessories, Filipinos find a way to re-use things endlessly in their own ways. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why one of the most successful television series aired by RPN-9 in the early nineties was about resourcefulness. Played by Stargate actor Richard Dean Anderson, the show Macgyver ran for an hour in a primetime slot for a few years. The Canadian-produced show follows secret agent Angus Macgyver’s adventures against the bad guys. But what made this show appealing was Macgyver’s practicality and ingenuous scientific knowledge, creatively using things around him, armed only with his omnipresent Swiss army knife and duct tape. To some degree, we are all bricoleurs.

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May 31, 2007. On this date, my “contract” with the Varsitarian will end. Two years of being yelled at, critiqued, praised, going on endless legwork, burning 5,000 hours of presswork nights for layout and the V-exhibit, being edited (and editing), falling in love, gaining friends (and losing some), and learning how the real pressroom works. To my writers Raye and Rieze, thanks for keeping up with your “mami”. Jeff, thanks for being there during my lowest and highest moments. You’ve proved that waiting for love is really worth the wait. Lau, Kris, Nat, Lee, Ketch, thank God you were there to placate my fears and give me the strength to go on during those grueling two month “V” exhibit preparations. And lastly, to my mom and dad. I know I can never repay the sacrifices and every cent you have spent on me. For that, I am eternally grateful.

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