Showing posts from April, 2007

Sifting through the ruins of a tragedy

Every once in a while although it does seem to be happening more often now, something horribly awful happens in one part of the world that shakes up the whole of humanity and sets us into a major soul-searching effort. We sit in front of our television sets with mouths wide agape, shake our heads and bewail the utter senselessness of it all.

But eventually, when media has milked all the juicy bits out of the tragedy, we settle into our old routines and get on with our lives. And everything seems forgotten and the world seems a better place again. Until the next horrible event comes along, of course, at which point we go through the whole exercise again.

I didn’t write about the Virginia Tech killings which took place a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to do so when all the dust has settled and the blaming and wailing has subsided. I know that it will take some more time before all, or at least most of the pieces of the puzzle could be assembled and a more enlightened analysis of t…

Moveable holidays

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

AS of this writing, the annual celebration of Labor Day will still be on May 1, which falls on a Tuesday this year. This can change anytime before May 1, of course. This year’s Labor Day celebration can still be switched to April 30 or May 4, depending on the mood of the President or the people around her. To non-Filipinos, having moveable holidays do not make sense. Labor Day is celebrated all over the world on May 1. How can it be celebrated on another day?

But alas, we live in a country where history and meaning take a backseat to convenience and pragmatism. When the celebration of a national holiday falls in the middle of the week, we have gotten into this habit of moving it to a Friday or a Monday to allow employees a longer weekend.

By doing so, we diminish the significance of the occasions, weaken the collective soul of our nation and dilute further whatever remains of the social glue that binds our cultu…

Honoring Julia Campbell

This was my column yesterday.

I did not have the privilege of meeting Julia Campbell, the US Peace Corps volunteer who met a tragic death while taking a stroll at the Banaue rice terraces.

But like many other Filipinos, I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that befell her. It is extremely horrifying that something gruesome and senseless could happen to a foreigner in Batad, a place inhabited by Igorots who are known to be peace-loving people and therefore generally renowned to be safe. I know a number of hikers and backpackers who have traversed the same path that Julia took and they attest that the area has not been known to be dangerous.

So why did it happen to her? I guess no one can fathom the evil that lie in some people’s hearts. It is so sad that Julia was in the same place at the same time with someone with unspeakable evil in his heart.

What magnifies the impact of the tragedy, transforming it into an enormous cause for shame and embarrassment for us Filipinos, is the fact that…

Ang init!

Ang init talaga!!!

I know, I know, I am not alone in this predicament. Everyone in the Philippines is suffering from this infernal heat and I cannot bear to imagine what it is like in other countries that are closer to the equator. I understand that in certain places wildfires have occured because dried grass just suddenly ignited. I also know that in some countries scores of people are suffering from heatstroke. I empathize with everyone who is suffering as well.

The problem is that I am extremely sensitive to heat. I get migraines, nausea, skin rashes, and hypertension. And although I think it is pushing it a little too far, my gastritis has also been acting up in the last two weeks, and well, the litany goes on and on.

Expectedly, my blood pressure has been on a rollercoaster ride in the last two weeks. I would have extremely low blood pressure in the mornings (at one point this week, 90/70) which then begins a perilous a climb around noontime. I know "high" is al…

Who's on the list?

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

Yes, it mentions Ang Ladlad yet again. So the trolls, the crazies and the homophobics are forewarned - save your energy, go somewhere else because there is no chance I am going to post your hate messages in this blog.

There are at least three factors that feed on each other to create uproar: Doubt, urgency, and anxiety. All three are present—in large quantities—in the current imbroglio over the continuing refusal of the Commission on Elections to release the names of the nominees of the various groups given party-list accreditation.

According to the Comelec, there is no need to do so because what is voted upon in the party-list election is the party, not the nominees. Commissioner Resurreccion Borra has a point. The party-list system is not supposed to be identified with individual candidates and personages but with platforms, causes, and advocacies.

Thank you for the lecture, sir, but we already know that.


Media Projection

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

One of the factors making the coming elections so unlike others we’ve had in the past is that this time around, the battle to win minds and hearts is being waged primarily through media.

Candidates still go through the motions of making token appearances at public markets and slum areas, kissing babies, shaking hands and speaking at public rallies. But we all know that fewer and fewer people are turning up at these rallies even if a celebrity is brought along to work the crowd.

If it is any consolation to more enlightened citizens out there, it does seem that celebrity status is no longer a critical factor in elections today. It does seem that even the matinee idol status of Richard Gomez and Cesar Montano will not translate into votes this time around. In Manila, for example, three celebrities are slugging it out in the vice mayoralty race: Cita Astals, Isko Moreno and Robert Ortega. The candidate clearly leadi…

Crying Lady speaks up

What follows was written about three weeks ago and was meant to be a column, but I somehow forgot about it. I just realized I wrote something about Oreta that I didn't get to include in my column when I watched her justify on television survey results that rank her as the politician most people mistrust.

And what are we supposed to make of the public apology of senatorial candidate Tessie Aquino-Oreta? I don’t mean to sound callous and heartless in the face of such seeming humility. Unfortunately, it is the campaign season and her apology is packaged as a campaign material – so I think many among us can be forgiven for being unable to see sincerity in the act.

Nevertheless, that apology begs a number of questions.

First, if she has remained in the opposition and continued to be in the good graces of her erstwhile benefactor, the former President Joseph Estrada, would she still make that apology?
Second, why did she wait this long to issue that apology? If she is truly sorry for doing…

Irresponsible comments can lose votes

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

Television is truly a double-edged sword. It can make or break candidacies, delight or hurt constituencies. Because television airtime is costly and the attention span of audiences is fleeting, candidates are often forced to be smart, curt and witty when responding to interviews. Thus, sometimes, even the most sensible of candidates make irresponsible comments.

I did not catch that particular footage on television last week when senatorial candidate Sonia Roco made that unfortunate remark that reportedly caught the ire of the Autism Society of the Philippines. Probably because I have already announced in my blog that I was voting for Roco, a friend who is an active supporter of the Society as well as another reader of my blog, called my attention to the snafu. As a favor to my friend—who happens to have a child with autism—I am sharing with you the story:

Roco was asked by a television news reporter to comment o…

What if

The following was sent to me through my office email, which i did not access throughout the 5-day vacation, which explains the delay in posting. The author is said to be one joel saracho of abs-cbn. I am still posting it here just in case some people are still on holy week mode (really?!) or wants to take a break from the 5-day break.

Breaking News: The Crucifixion


Had ANC (OK, let's include CNN and BBC) been around 2,000 years ago,
we would have had the following report: Anchor reads: A carpenter's
son was sentenced to die in Jerusalem after he was convicted guilty of
treason and inciting to sedition. Our Middle East correspondent is on
the field to bring us a live report… So what's the latest ?


Anchor reads:

A carpenter's son was sentenced to die in Jerusalem after he was
convicted guilty of treason and inciting to sed…

Command responsibility

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

IS it reasonable to make candidates accountable for the actions of their supporters? Should we believe the yarn that it would be impossible for candidates to monitor and police the campaign strategies and actions of their supporters?

Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. is furious that someone filed a case against him for alleged abuse of his franking privilege as senator. The franking privilege, which is given to certain government officials, allows senators to send snail mail without having to pay for postage stamps. The magic phrase “for official use only,” which we all know often translates to “for official abuse only” particularly when it pertains to the use of government vehicles, is the justification behind the franking privilege.

Senator Pimentel allegedly abused his franking privilege by sending out campaign mails endorsing the candidacy of his son. The complainant speculates that at least 100,000 of these lett…

Six down, six more to go...

One of the regular readers of this blog, someone who goes by the handle "Mommy Jo" left a comment a few weeks ago encouraging me to open a discussion on the candidates running for public office.

As you may have noticed, I have made public my picks for senator.

I have so far chosen six (in alphabetical order now): Joker Arroyo, Noynoy Aquino, Dr. Martin Bautista, Mike Defensor, Kiko Pangilinan, and Sonia Roco. That's my list so far. I haven't made up my mind on who the other six will be, but I will announce my other choices in the next few weeks.

Please bear in mind that the criteria I am using for the selection process is a highly personal one. I don't expect everyone to agree with my choices. It does bother me sometimes that there are people who seem to get offended when my opinions are not aligned with theirs, but I don't lose sleep over it. I guess it is personal for some people and too bad I don't feel I should pander to anyone's wishes.

One of the th…

Musings on a good friday

While doing visita iglesia yesterday, I couldn't help but note how enterprising some of our kababayans have become. Practically all the churches we went featured the same scene: ambulant vendors selling all kinds of stuff, from fruits to vegetables to various types of kakanin, in one church we even noticed someone selling pirated DVDs spread out on a mat right there on the sidewalk. At least, the titles were wholesome movies. I must admit to a guilty pleasure. I bought a pirated copy of Pursuit of Happyness. My bad. Hehehe.

And wherever we went, a number of our kababayans transformed sidewalks into pay parking spaces. Sigh. The sad thing was that even young kids have gotten into the act. At the Pope Pius Center, a band of very young boys were in charge - and they were quite aggressive. In fact we almost witnessed a fisticuff as three boys argued who had prior rights to the spot we parked in.

I suppose these boys were under the impression that there is nothing wrong with making a qui…

14 churches

I woke up very late today. I've been feeling exhausted lately and for some strange reason my blood pressure has been erratic - on some days, my blood pressure would shoot up to 140/110 and then crash to 90/70 within hours. It must be the heat, or the fact that I've just broke my all-time weight record. Don't ask how much I weigh now, it's embarrassing.

While doing visita iglesia tonight, I bumped into a dear old friend, someone I was pretty close to about twelve years ago. I have no reason to think that this friend has something against me - in fact, I know this person to be one of the sweetest individuals on earth. We were at the Pope Pius Church and we actually shared a pew. When he stood up to leave, I gave way and I smiled at him. He looked at me, smiled, and moved on. He did not recognize me at all. That's how heavy I have become in the last couple of years, people I knew before don't recognize me anymore. Sigh.

Anyway. Doing the rounds of churches has been…

The holy week irony

Officially, the Lenten Season begins on Ash Wednesday and the Holy Week on Palm Sunday. The Lenten Season, is supposed to be observed for 40 days—the number of days between Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday—precisely why it is called cuaresma, which is derived from the Spanish word for 40.

The Holy week is supposed to begin with Palm Sunday, when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem and was met by a jubilant throng waving palm fronds. Of course as we know, the same people who welcomed him with open arms would be the same people who would call for his crucifixion.

But for most of us, the observance of this annual Christian tradition only begins tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, and sadly, not for reasons related to piety.

It begins tomorrow because it is when it starts to be a non-working holiday. Whether we like it or not, most people look forward to the Holy Week because it represents a much-needed respite.

This year, it is going to be a five-day holiday since Monday is going to be Araw ng Kagitin…

A culture of hostage-taking

What strikes me most about that whole Ducat caper that took place last week is finding out that we, as a people, are still capable of being surprised by the bizarre and the absurd. One would think that we are already immune to these things; after all, this is a country where hostage taking has become a regular happening.

I am sorry if I am coming across as this callous Pinoy-basher, seemingly insensitive to tragic events happening in this country.

I just do not share the hysterical reactions of the many others that project this impression that our world has been turned upside down by that Ducat episode. Of course I feel outraged that someone could, and in fact actually did, herd a group of kindergarten pupils ostensibly for a day of fun in Tagaytay, only to use them as hostages supposedly for their own benefit. I know that the previous sentence does not make sense; but then again, nothing in that whole chain of events made sense at all.

Of course I feel sad that the parents of those c…