Showing posts from August, 2008

Politicians as entertainers

This is my column today.

We already know that the line that separates show business from politics has long been blurred to the point that it has become difficult to distinguish politicians from actors. It used to be that people from one camp generally looked better, but one cannot be sure anymore these days. At any rate, I think that as far as the masa is concerned, there’s no difference anymore.

I am sure that this development does not bode well for the future of politics nor entertainment in this country. Ideally, the requirements for each specialization should be distinct. There must be more to becoming a good politician—assuming that trying to become a “good politician” is something one aspires for—than simply being popular.

As a result, we’ve been seeing a lot of showbiz people crossing over to politics and vice versa. As expected, the results have not always been insightful or entertaining. But we’ve all learned to take this perversion in stride because, quite frankly, there’s real…

Postcripts to the Olympics

This is my column today.

The greatest show on earth, the Olympics, officially drew to a rousing close last night at Beijing. And what a show it was indeed! I am not just talking about the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies that China rolled out but of the incredible heights that the human spirit conquered. American swimmer Michael Phelps’ (who, by the way, was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder when he was younger) and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s amazing feats will be achievements that the world will talk about for decades.

At the no other point has the slogan of the Olympics - faster, higher, stronger—been illustrated so poetically and dramatically. And ironically and tragically, at no other point have our shortcomings been painfully brought to the fore. We are a people that think so highly of ourselves, referring to ourselves as world class in many fields. And yet Team Philippines is coming home without even a single medal.

For sure, our debacle in this year’s Olympic…

In the name of public safety

This was my column yesterday, August 20.

It’s either of two things. Either most people in Davao have simply gotten used to living with threats to life and property that they’ve learned to take them all in stride, or they have already become desensitized to media’s alarmist reportage that they don’t pay heed even when bloody footages are shown non-stop on television. Whatever the reason, the bombings in Iligan and the conflict in other parts of Mindanao that have claimed the lives of a number of soldiers and civilians seemed to have produced no discernible effects on the people of Davao. I was there over the weekend and while my own kith and kin in Manila were wringing their hands worrying about my safety because they had this impression that the whole of Mindanao was at war, the malls, the bars, the restaurants, the caf├ęs were all bursting at the seams with people. Last weekend was the weekend before the famous Kadayawan festival and Davao City seemed already in the mood to party. I …

The blogger from Mindanao

This is my column today.

Once again, Mindanao has been getting screaming-headline treatment in the national media in the last couple of weeks. As usual, it’s mainly because there is expectation of general strife and mayhem in the proverbial Land of Promise.

Let’s make no bones about this: The only time media attention is focused in Mindanao is when there is something controversial, sensational, or contentious that’s breaking out (again!) in some part of the island.

And very often, it’s the kind of controversy that inevitably bolster the general perception That Mindanao is gasping at the throes of a major revolt; that it is a land where anarchists and barbarians hold court and threaten the supposed unity and sovereignty of the republic. Take your pick from the usual menu of news stories about Mindanao: Kidnapping, conflict, war, gunfight, poverty, etc. Thus, many among us, particularly those who have no physical or emotional connection with or to Mindanao, have gotten the impression that…

The price of peace

This was my column last Wednesday, July 13. Late post. Sorry.

One of the greatest ironies in this world is that in order to attain peace one must prepare for war.

We can all romanticize peace as a concept, join hands and sing “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” with fervor until we come to our senses and realize it takes more than good intentions to make it happen. But we all know, both from a theoretical as well as from a real-world perspective, that attaining peace and making it last is a complicated, frustrating, contentious, and sometimes—and perhaps inevitably —a violent process. It’s never been easy. It won’t be easy. It’s important that we remind ourselves how elusive and thorny the quest for peace really is just so we appreciate the great sacrifices required of all stakeholders in the process.

The price we have to pay to attain peace is high. The question is: Are we willing to pay it?

There are many reasons why peace is difficult to achieve, but for purposes of…

Dirty food that's really dirty

This is my column today.

It sounded like a great idea so all of us in the committee jumped at it: Make dirty ice cream available all day long for all employees, clients, and everyone else who entered the bank’s premises during its recent anniversary. We got so excited at the idea—and why not? Dirty ice cream is so Filipino, the tinkling of that all-too-familiar bell rekindles shared Pinoy childhood memories. Best of all, it is cheap. In these difficult times, an eat-all-you-can offering is something that costs an arm and a leg so at a few thousand bucks a cart, offering dirty ice cream sounded patok na patok (a bestseller).

For a while there, we thought we would have to pound the streets to round up a dozen individual mamang sorbetero from the street for our anniversary. But we were heartened to discover that most of the dirty ice cream that’s peddled in our streets comes from a handful of factories so contracting a supplier was relatively simpler that we thought. We talked to a few sup…

This is supposed to be funny?

Blogger bryanboy le superstar fabulous is a pinoy global phenomenon that needs to be appreciated within a specific context. His humor is something that needs to be taken with a certain degree of tolerance - if you want political correctness, bryanboy is not for you. But beneath all the gross exteriors of furs and designer labels and shameless self-promotion and what he calls "faggotry" I have no doubt that there is something more about bryanboy than meets the eye.

Having said that, I'd like to state for the record that I was quite taken aback by this recent post in his blog.

It's supposed to be a joke, I know.

And they did say they were kidding and that they love us. Yeah, that's supposed to make us feel better. That's supposed to be cute. We're supposed to just roll over and not be sensitive about it.

But think about it. Just think about it. Of the many things they can say about us, of the million and one things they could use to supposedly make…

Reactions to sex, drugs and HIV column

This was my column yesterday. Late post. Sorry.

My column last Monday about sex, drugs and HIV produced a number of reactions mostly from colleagues in the human resource management profession, friends, and some readers. The comments converged along three main themes. First, questions about E’s identity. A certain M. Tupaz actually asked whether E was a real person or a mere figment of my imagination. I presumed that the reader found my account of E’s life journey—the drug use, the sex work, and the discovery of his HIV status - incredible. Tupaz commented “parang telenovela naman” (sounds like soap opera stuff). I guess there really are people out there who still cannot believe that life is oftentimes stranger than fiction. E told me that this was a common reaction that he got when he started his Web log; he had to talk to some people on the phone to assure them that he was indeed a real person. A number of my students at the college where I teach were quite alarmed and inquired i…

When it rains...

Given the fact that we've been experiencing the problem for many years now and that it is a problem that brings with it terrible, awful, horrifying consequences, one would think that someone out there would have come up with a solution to it.

But nope. Everytime it rains, the metro still gets submerged in filthy, stinky floodwaters. Traffic comes to a complete halt. People get stranded. Etc. Etc. Etc.

We've even reached the point when most among us have come to accept the aggravation as a fact of life, as a force of nature, an act of God. Oh please. Rain is an act of god. But flooding is not.

Flooding is caused by mismanagement of the garbage problem, of the utter failure of our leaders to build better drainage systems, etc. The monstrous traffic jams are caused by the breakdown of discipline on the road, the disappearance of traffic cops who are most needed to unlock bottlenecks, the reduction of road space for vehicles since pedestrians commandeer roads into promenade…

Sex, drugs and HIV

This is my column today.

In moments when we want to empathize with whatever dreadful experience others are going through, we try to put ourselves in their situation. We make the effort to imagine what it feels like to live under their skin; we try to sense the pain and anguish that they are living through in the hope that by doing so we are able to relate with them better, perhaps even lighten their pain in the process. But we know that we can only try; we can only imagine what it is like. We can’t really be in the same wretched place.

I’ve been involved in HIV/AIDS prevention work for almost two decades now. All throughout these many years, I have met, counseled, fought and cared for numerous people living with HIV/AIDS. Each one of them had their own sad story to tell, some more tragic than the others, but all of them stories of courage, and in the end, of hope and redemption.

Living with HIV is one of the most paradoxical situations in this world. It makes people living with the virus…