Showing posts from October, 2007

are you a meta-friend?

In the Oct. 29 issue of Time magazine, there’s an essay by Joel Stein entitled “You Are Not My Friend.”

It is a piece, written tongue-in-cheek, about how the Internet—in particular, social networking Web sites such as Friendster, Multiply, MySpace, and similar Web sites—are redefining the concepts of friendships and social relationships. It’s a topic that I have been meaning to write about for quite some time but never got around to doing until now. Since I have decided to take a break from anything political today in deference to readers who admonished me to write about something else other than the squabbles of our leaders, I have decided to follow Stein’s lead and write about the ways in which people are navigating the new and tricky pathways of intimacy and interpersonal connections.

Okay. Let’s begin with a confession. I hereby state for the record that I do have a Friendster account. I also have a Multiply account and before that, a Flicker account. When I created these accounts,…

Agreeing to disagree

There is very little else that can be said about the executive clemency granted to Former President Joseph Estrada that hasn’t already been said by everyone else who had an access to media in the last three days.

Many people have already weighed in with their own opinions on the issue. Some have gone to great lengths condemning, lambasting, even demonizing (again) the decision to grant clemency and as can be expected, the people who had a hand in it including those who expressed support for it.

On the other hand, there are those who find occasion for jubilation and vindication in the granting of the executive clemency. These are the people who believe that setting Estrada free is long overdue. They also count among their rank arpeople who, under other circumstances, can be held up as fine specimens of nationalism, even intellectual probity.

Once again, we stumble into a contentious issue that has further polarized our already fractious state as a nation.

This is expected because in our co…

Sifting through the debris

This is my column today.

An explosion rocked Glorietta 2 five days ago, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than a hundred. The explosion was so powerful it tore off a whole section of the complex, creating a gaping hole from the basement up to the roof of the multi-story structure. The explosion blasted to smithereens practically everything along its path.

As a result, the Philippine stock market took a nosedive, the Philippine peso faltered, and in general, business activity slowed down.

Obviously, a tragic incident such as the Glorietta explosion deserves answers and a resolution. Not only because lives and property were lost, but more because such tragedies cannot be allowed to happen again.

It is important that we find out what caused the explosion. Was it a bomb or an accidental leak? If it was a bomb, we need to pinpoint the perpetrators of the dastardly act and make them pay. If it was an accidental leak, and we know there is nothing in this world that is accidental, then…

The "balato" mentality

(This is my column today)

Someone finally won the pot money of P2 million at last Saturday’s episode of “One versus One Hundred.” In case you have been living under a rock, One versus One Hundred is ABS-CBN’s latest game show. It pits a contestant (so far, all celebrities) against a “mob” of 100.

I caught the tail end of the show last Saturday while surfing television channels and got glued to the show because of two things.

First, because it is always interesting to watch someone win in a game show where millions are at stake. The penultimate question (the location of the Philippines in relation to the equator) was, at least as far as I am concerned, a giveaway. When the contestant keyed in his answer, I knew he was going to win. As we all know, our TV stations have this habit of milking every ounce of drama it could every single time someone wins a major prize in their game shows.

The second reason I was glued to the television set was because of the reaction of the 100 kids that compri…

Political patronage

(This was my column yesterday, October 17)

The congressmen, governors, and other local executives who made a beeline to MalacaƱang last week could not agree on what it was. Nor could they come to an agreement on what it was for.

The very few who still take seriously the sanctity of their oath of office admitted receiving the money. Many others spoke to the media under various pretenses and conditions, some refused to be named or didn’t want their pretty faces recorded on camera; others hemmed and hawed and in general made fools of themselves trying to obfuscate the issue instead of simply confirming or denying the payola.

Most of the more than 190 congressmen and the rest of the governors simply disappeared from media’s radar and have since then been making a good impression of the proverbial three monkeys who saw nothing, heard nothing, and therefore spoke nothing.

So was it a bribe or an allowance?

Actually, it really doesn’t make a difference either way since both could mean the same th…

In the middle of nowhere

My initial reaction when the explanation was offered to me was open-mouthed wonder and amazement. Eventually, incredulity led to amusement, and finally, hilarity. It is truly one for the books. The kind of story that makes you shake your head and exclaim “Only in the Philippines!”
I am talking about the reason for the swank and brand new P4.3 billion Bacolod Silay Airport’s not being opened to the public yet despite the fact that construction of the airport has already been completed early this year.

What’s more, the airport has already been inaugurated a couple of months back by no less than the President of the Republic who has, expectedly, been more than eager to trumpet the new facility as one more proof of this administration’s much-vaunted accomplishments.
I even remember reading about the inauguration and watching the event on the late night news. It was heavily played up courtesy of the political intramurals— in plain and simple talk, elected officials jostled for media attention…

Street food

While driving home from work one night last week, I came across a somewhat unusual but welcome sight on Bautista Street in Makati.

On the sidewalk was a well-lit makeshift food stall selling Thai noodles that were steaming in a big vat. Beside the stall were a monobloc table and some chairs. The food stall had a Thai name and offered standard Thai fare—noodles, some meat, and vegetables. Yes, very reminiscent of Thailand at nighttime, if you have been there.

Is street food Thailand style invading the country? I hope so. I really hope so.

The Thai food stall on Bautista was clearly put up only at nighttime since I don’t remember seeing it during daytime when I would pass by the area on my way to work. Because the food stall was well lighted and food was prepared in front of the customers, one could witness the sanitary precautions used in preparing the simple meal. Obviously, whoever is behind that particular food stall must be Thai or at least someone who has spent considerable time in T…

Cheering violence

A friend who was desperately —and I must add, unsuccessfully—trying to get everyone to come to a lunch party yesterday pretty much summed it up when in a fit of exasperation, she exclaimed: “This country has become crazy over a sport where one wins by deliberately injuring another.”

Almost everyone I know stayed home to watch the pambansang kamao battle it out with Marco Antonio Barrera yesterday. Pacquiao won, of course. I can’t imagine the kind of pressure that must have been weighing heavily on the poor guy. Somewhere along the way, Pacquiao’s fights have stopped being simply a boxing match—it has become a matter of national honor.

Yesterday’s papers were full of speculations about the state of Pacquiao’s readiness for the fight. His overall appearance during the weigh in was subjected to so much theorizing, some people began to worry about the fact that he looked gaunt and ghostly.

That’s all water under the bridge now as Pacquiao prevailed and won by unanimous decision.
There is no d…

Theatre of the absurd

Let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that former National Economic and Development Authority director general Romulo Neri did squeal on his boss, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, during the Senate hearing last week. Let’s imagine the worst-, or, paradoxically, the best-case scenario, depending on where one stands in this whole scheme of things. Let’s presume that Neri did say that the President is involved in the anomalous national broadband network deal.

Of course, in reality, the President may or may not be involved. We don’t really know and now that Neri has clammed up, we won’t know for sure unless someone else comes out with another damning testimony. But unlike others who have been quick to jump on Neri, I refuse to pin the blame on the former Neda chief alone for the bungled opportunity.

There was just no way that that particular hearing could have been productive. Not even despite the fact that at least 18 senators—practically the whole Senate!—took turn…

Disappointing, futile, absurd

The biggest story last week was former National Economic Development Authority Secretary Romulo Neri’s appearance at the Senate investigation on the national broadband network deal.

Neri’s appearance was preceded by a lot of speculation and wild theorizing, all of which fed on each other to produce a state of heightened anticipation. The question that was foremost on people’s mind was: Will Neri implicate President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and provide damning testimony that would spell doom for this administration?

There were those who (citing supposedly very reliable sources, in this case, a friend of a friend of friend to whom Neri—again, supposedly— unburdened himself to) were certain that Neri would spill the beans on the President allegedly because Neri was sick and tired of having to compromise his principles under this administration. The theories that were circulating were replete with details such as dates, verbatim statements, etc., no wonder a number of people were already sal…