Showing posts from January, 2008

Issues for 2010

This is my column today. I will post my own take on the specific issues that I feel are relevant in the 2010 Presidential elections over the weekend.
It is still too early for our presidential timbers and toothpicks to begin trading barbs and lobbing bombs at each other, but it is never too early to discuss the issues that are, should be, or must be relevant in the 2010 presidential elections.
This is because elections should ideally be about the issues more than the personalities.
In a perfect world, or at least in mature democracies, the electorate chooses candidates based on the issues that they espouse. This is what political parties are supposed to be about. They are supposed to represent specific ideological, political, or even social and spiritual beliefs and platforms.
Of course, personal qualities should also count, but only to the extent necessary to articulate the issues clearly, and to perform the functions of the posts the candidates are aspiring for. There simply is no poin…

Faith and panacea

This is my column today.

Last Friday, Fr. Fernando Suarez, the healing priest, was in the bank that I worked for.
It was supposed to be an “exclusive-for-members” religious affair organized by the congregation behind the annual Sto. NiƱo exhibit. But as many among us know by now, Father Suarez is a huge phenomenon in a country that seems to be in desperate need of healing. There is no such thing as “private” and “exclusive” when it comes to matters of life and death.

Thus, any affair where the healing priest makes an appearance is bound to be a very public, very messy affair.

A few days ago, traffic at Edsa was hopelessly jammed as throngs of people tried to make their way to the Santuario de San Antonio at Forbes Park to attend one of the healing masses of the famous healing priest. We’ve all read news stories about how very sick people risked whatever little energy they have left, waiting for hours and hours in very congested areas, just to be touched and healed.

I was particularly taken…

What goes around

This is my column today.Humor me please and see how long it will take you to figure this out. This was an exercise that I used to do when conducting training programs for bank personnel. I’ve always been amazed at how easy it is for people to take for granted certain things that we see and use every day.
There are seven basic colors in this exercise: Green, brown, orange, red, violet, yellow and blue. You may want to write the colors down although I assure you that once you get the idea, remembering the colors isn’t hard.
The object of the exercise is to apply arithmetical processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) to the colors. For example, a green plus a green makes a brown. A red and a red makes a violet. A yellow plus a yellow makes a blue. Confused already? A brown multiplied by a brown makes a violet too. But a brown multiplied by a violet makes a blue.
Thus, what color is produced when one divides yellow by green, or when one divides a red with a brown? Or whe…

Trash talk

This is my column today.

A news story that went largely ignored by most everyone in media last week was the threat of yet another garbage crisis in Metro Manila. It did get cursory mention in some television newscasts and in some papers, but it was given much less attention than the other types of trash that this country produces every day—such as Joseph Estrada’s latest attempts at prevarication and all this nonsense about forgetting Edsa Dos.

As in the past, there were much preening and cackling for the cameras as local executives of the province of Rizal and environment bureaucrats went after each other’s throats. For a while there, it looked like the contending parties were finally on to the real and substantive issues related to this recurring problem of managing the thousands of tons of garbage Metro Manila produces everyday.

Unfortunately, the real nature of the squabble—it turned out to be nothing more than a turf issue—soon became apparent. Thus, all it took was some efforts to …

Desensitized to horror and terror

This is my column today.

Up until the time I was in college, the hours between six and 11 p.m., now known as primetime television, were relatively “safe” television hours.

Primetime was an occasion for the whole family to huddle in the living room to watch some situation comedy or musical show. The shows were often of the mindless drivel type, but they were always guaranteed to be both entertaining and safe. By safe, I mean stuff that won’t do irreparable damage to the minds of children, or even adults for that matter, as well as stuff that won’t interfere with one’s healthy appreciation of dinner. Back then, one watched television mainly for relaxation.

Today, primetime television is anything but relaxing. It has gotten to a point where practically every show on primetime carries a parent advisory warning. It has gotten so bad that a number of people I know no longer watch television to avoid unnecessary stress.

The kind of muck foisted upon the general public by our television networks …

Moving but not absorbing enough

This is my column today.

Tuesdays With Morrie was a book given to me by a former student as a present many Christmases ago.

I’ve heard about the book before then, I’ve even seen copies of it lying around in the bookstore, but I had reservations about picking it up and going home with it because a friend warned that it was “sentimental” and “depressing.” But the former student who gave it to me was raving—more like hyperventilating—about it and, ahem, he said that the book somehow reminded him of all the former teachers that have made a difference in his life, so I dove into it, finished it over a weekend, and promptly forgot about it.

Obviously, this inherently cynical fool didn’t really go bonkers over it. It was a nice read, profound in some places, dripping with poignancy in parts, and written in a kind of journalistic style that made the reading easy. I do have this natural repulsion for works that try to package common sense into some kind of earthshaking truths (e.g., death ends a …

Sound and fury signifying nothing

I am glad that the Makati businessmen are in agreement with what I wrote last Monday about the need to tone down all this insane and totally misplaced preoccupation with elections that are at least two-and-a-half years away.

Some businessmen were interviewed on television Monday night and the consensus was the same: All this talk about politics at the start of the year makes for bad business.

Indeed, what does it say of us when we greet the New Year with nothing but frenzied speculations about who is jumping political fences, who is making alliances with whom, and who is giving way or not giving way to whoever. And it doesn’t help at all when the loudest voice above the commotion is that of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the same guy who is hemming and hawing and babbling incoherently as usual about whether he will stand for election or not. Of course he won’t. He knows he can’t run. And he knows that we know that he knows.

All this jostling and jockeying so very early on in t…

Thirst for blood

This is my column today.

Having written in the past about my reservations about how boxing is being promoted in this country as some kind of a national sport, I guess it was expected that people would call my attention to the case of Choi Yo-Sam. Choi was a South Koren boxer who passed away recently under very tragic circumstances.

I actually read about Choi’s case in this paper and meant to write about it. However, it didn’t seem like a good idea to write about it to end or greet the New Year so I just filed the information in my head. But some readers e-mailed me about it, calling my attention to the fact that “Choi’s death was not an isolated case.”

Most news stories about Choi’s death carried the backgrounder on at least two other similar cases. The Associate Press report, which seemed like the source of most of the local stories, mentioned the case of another South Korean lightweight Duk Koo Kim who died four days after being knocked out by Ray Mancini in a title fight in Las Vegas …

New Year's Day Traditions

This is my column today.

Be careful what you do on New Year’s Day and the first 12 days of the year. They shall become harbinger of your fortunes for the rest of the year. This was one of many admonitions— superstitious beliefs, actually—that I grew up with.

One was supposed to be careful with money, steer clear of danger, eat healthy, and in general, become the person that one wanted to be for the rest of the year. Except for the fact that the admonition was limited in its application to only the first 12 days of the year, it wasn’t an entirely bad idea since it actually pushed for the acquisition of new and desirable habits. It gives new dimension to the cliche “beginning with a new slate.”

But as most things in our culture, the wisdom, or at least logic, is lost in our penchant for simply keeping things at the level of “traditions.” We don’t know why we do them, but we do them just the same because they are, well, traditions.

I am sure you are familiar with, and probably also observe, …