Showing posts from June, 2008

Pacquiao's courage and redemption

Photo taken from

This is my column today.

I have been very vocal about my objections to professional boxing as a sport, primarily because it is the only sport that showcases the most cruel of all intents—to deliberately hurt another person, bring him down crashing into the ground, maimed, bloodied and battered. It’s just a modern-day variation of what gladiators used to do in olden Roman times.

Even when the two boxers are equally matched and the bout becomes not only a clash of strength and skills but a battle of wits and courage, such as what the world saw in the Pacquiao and Diaz fight yesterday, there is still something disconcerting about watching two people mercilessly pummel each other’s bodies supposedly for glory and honor. What is even more unsettling is the fact that the boxers do it while millions of people scream for blood and encourage them to go for the kill.

Despite one’s reservations about the vicious nature of the sport, it would…

Vicious, vacuous

(logos courtesy of their respective websites) Okay, many among the handful of readers who have stuck with this blog all this time despite the fact that this blog has become most often than not simply a reservoir of my columns rather than what it used to be (i.e., more free-wheeling and relaxed) are aware that I like watching local talent contests on television.

Some habits are hard to break, I guess. See, I grew up with a yaya who was a into the stuff and she would physically drag me to all the amateur singing contests staged in our hometown. My parents were quite happy to let her go provided she would lug me around as well. My yaya was also a die-hard-Noranian-to-the-very-core, by the way. The connection? Well, Nora did catapult to fame courtesy of Tawag ng Tanghalan, right?

Anyway (or as Bryanboy would say, anyhoooooo). I've been watching Pinoy Dream Academy as often as I could, which unfortunately is not as often really. But I do try to catch their Saturday gala performance night…

No implementing rules for new tax law

This was my column last Wednesday, June 25, 2008.

The problem with media hype, or any kind of hype for that matter, is that because it focuses on the larger issues and disregards the fine print, it creates mistaken assumptions and often, unreasonable expectations.

When proponents of the latest law exempting minimum wage earners from paying income tax went to town to brag about how they should be nominated for sainthood for providing a lifeline to the two million minimum wage earners in this country, they created expectations that may not be met by the new law immediately.

Many workers are in for a major disappointment.

I am not just talking about the militant labor sector which, of course, will never be happy with anything the government does. The reason is ideological—they want a different system. Bayan already doused water on the jubilation by pointing out that the benefits provided by the law were insignificant. According to Arnold Pineda of Bayan’s public information department: “All …

Kidnap, ransom and politics

This was my column last Monday, June 23.

Of course we all suspected that there was more behind the Ces Drilon kidnapping than what we were being made to believe.

The main hostage happened to be a media celebrity affiliated with a major media network. The perpetrators of the dastardly act were bandits who have successfully pulled off a string of kidnappings in the past. The site of the kidnapping was a virtual war zone riddled with social, cultural, and political issues that have been festering in the national consciousness for quite some time. The military, a number of national and local politicians, and a host of other kibitzers and hangers-on got in the act. In short, all the elements that spelled big trouble were present.
But most were still unprepared for the level of complications and the kind of intrigues that would surface in the aftermath of the kidnapping and the release of the hostages.

To begin with, despite all public pronouncements to the contrary, we all knew ransom was paid…

Who's on the cover of your kids' notebooks?

This is my column today.

I don’t really think it is an issue of earthshaking urgency, but I’m still glad that a ranking official of the Department of Education recently questioned, and publicly, the wisdom of this decades-old practice of featuring on the cover of our schoolchildren’s notebooks the prettified mugs of local celebrities.

I know. There certainly are more important and more urgent issues today such as the surging incidence of heinous crimes in the country. Someone I work with was the victim of a kidnapping recently (no, I am not referring to Ces Drilon since I obviously don’t work for ABS-CBN). The kidnapping of Drilon is understandably given more attention on account of her celebrity status, but there has been a resurgence of kidnapping cases recently. At the same time, the mother and niece of a former colleague along with three of their maids were murdered in a brutal robbery and arson incident, also very recently. I’m going to write about these dreadful incidents when the…


This was my column last Monday, dedicated to my dad who I call Tatay.

Because I grew up in the care of my grandmother and an aunt, my interactions with Tatay were limited to a few perfunctory gestures during official family functions and occasions. It didn’t help that— despite the abundance of maternal affection (she was called Mama by the whole clan)—my grandmother seemed to belong to that genre of mothers-in-law who seemed to think that no man was ever good enough for their daughters.

So Tatay was simply the stereotype “man of few words” who lurked in the shadows of my childhood.

I don’t have memories of having been carried in his arms or being hoisted up on his shoulders; he wasn’t the man who taught me how to balance myself in a bicycle, or swim, or fashion balls and carts out of palm fronds and tansans. I never flew kites as a child simply because I didn’t have anyone to teach me how. Somehow I couldn’t imagine imposing the task of hoisting up a kite and running with it to an aging …

Pinoy reality academy

I've been watching ABS-CBN's Pinoy Dream Academy since it opened last Monday mainly because I like the repartee between Ryan Cayabyab and Direk Joey Javier Reyes.

For quite sometime now, I've been ranting about the absence of intelligent commentary on singing contests where there are judges whose job description is precisely to explain what they liked or disliked about a contestant's performance. Unfortunately, most of our experiences in this area has been dismal failures because the judges either tended to be too shallow or focused more on playing to the cameras than trying to make sense.

I had high hopes for GMA 7's Pinoy Idol (the reincarnation of the local edition of American Idol - there was a Philippine Idol in another channel a couple of years back) because I know Ogie is articulate and Wyngard can be ascerbic and insightful. But we all know that show has not really taken off because nothing has clicked so far - the emceeing by Raymond Gutierrez is uninspir…

Not getting through

This was my column yesterday, June 11. I inadvertently posted the wrong column yesterday. Thank you to a very perceptive reader who pointed out the oversight.

In a public appearance over the weekend that somehow conjured images of a junta, the President’s men sought to allay the public’s fear related to the runaway prices of oil, rice, and commodities.

Understandably, the rhetoric was still about how the government was in control and remains prepared for any crisis. The last thing this government and this country needs is widespread panic. However, I don’t think the government should bother about allaying our fears— quite frankly, there is very little else that can scare the hell out of us Filipinos after everything that we’ve been through and continue to go through.

But at least the government was already talking solutions and recommendations on exactly how we can survive the skyrocketing prices even if the current solutions being peddled are still rather inchoate and remains at the…

Juday's right to peddle opinion

This was my column last Monday, June 7.

I can’t make heads or tails of the hullabaloo around Judy Ann Santos’ infomercial on the Manila Electric Co.

If we are to go by the vehement reaction of some quarters, it is as if the actress has committed treason simply by explaining—or simplifying, some quarters say oversimplifying—the electricity systems loss issue.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan castigated Santos for “taking the side of Meralco” on the issue saying in so many words that because Santos “allowed herself to be the tool of Meralco” she, in effect, has ceased being a supposed “good example” in this country.
It is as if there’s a law in this country against impartiality, or against anyone taking a side of a controversy.

Going by the lawmaker’s acrobatic logical deduction, everyone who takes a contrary position on an important issue loses all credibility. I wonder what that makes of the many people—columnists like me, included; and certainly politicians like her, too—who do …

Back to school problems

This was my column last Wednesday, June 4.Classes will open next week. As can be expected, media attention has been focused on this seasonal event since last week, in the process painfully pointing out the million and one things that are wrong with our system.
And precisely because of the intense media attention, everyone in this country who suffers from withdrawal syndrome, if not caught within the glare of television cameras or the flashbulbs of news photographers, have jumped into this annual orgy of blaming and counter-blaming.
I have said this before and I will say it again: If only we focus on the problems of the educational system all year-round instead of paying attention to them only when classes open, perhaps we stand a better chance of really fixing them.
I will give the current hoopla two weeks. Within that period, let us brace ourselves for the inevitable finger-pointing, caterwauling, screeching and pompous grandstanding from our leaders, from parents, and from the usual mi…

Skyway robbery

This is my column today.

The last time I found myself in the South Luzon Expressway was early February. It was sheer torture and I have since then gone out of my way to avoid going through the highway. Not only was traffic horrendous—moving like the proverbial snail taking its own sweet time. The roads also resembled an obstacle course designed for people with a death wish.

I am told that it is now almost impossible to make heads or tails of whatever it is that’s being done at the expressway. Friends who have no choice but to take it everyday have given up trying to understand the exact nature of the improvements being done as what used to be a highway had become a series of perilous trails that meander, split, or suddenly come to a dead end without warning. Surely improvements can be conducted with some care and consideration for the convenience of the motoring public. It’s really a wonder how easily we Filipinos take aggravations; it as if misery were our birthright.

The skyway offers …

Is anyone listening?

This was my column last Wednesday, May 28.

One question columnists need to have a ready answer to because it is bound to crop up in most conversations is: How do you not run out of things to write about?

I must admit that there are still occasions when the question manages to catch me off guard despite having been in this job for two years now and despite having been asked that question more times than I care to remember. I mean, how are we supposed to answer that question? Are we supposed to admit to having been born with a natural predilection to dish out opinions—as in, yes, I was born spewing political diatribes? Would it be okay to admit that there actually are days when one is faced with the metaphorical blank wall and there is simply nothing one can write about with some degree of enthusiasm?

Obviously, there are as many answers to that question as there are many columnists.
But given the way things are in our country, I feel that the relevant question should be: How do you not g…

Reflections on a capping ceremony

This is a late post of my column last Monday, May 26.

It’s been quite a while since I last saw a nurse wearing the standard— some would describe it as archaic —uniform: All-white dress, white shoes (and not rubber sneakers variety), and a nurse’s cap perched on top of her head.

My older sister, who is a nurse, used to complain about how being in an all-white getup was so inconvenient and how that white cap always got in the way of her chores in the hospital. The cap, she said, gave her headaches as it had to be fastened securely with pins. And because nurses had to fix them every now and then to keep them in place one can only wonder at the quantity and kind of germs and bacteria those caps played host to.

Thus, I can understand why most nurses today opt for those colored scrub suits even if they sure make them look like they are on their way to or just came from a pajama party; a description which I am told is better compared to the one which likens them to cleaning personnel. But if I …