Showing posts from December, 2008

Looking back (2)

This is my column today, my last for 2008.

Last Monday, I wrote about what I thought and felt were some of the major events of 2008 that made major impact on our lives. In this piece, I will continue where I left off but will mostly focus on the events of 2008 that fall into the general category of “unfinished business.”

Easily topping the list would be the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008. There was great anticipation that the controversial bill would finally get passed by Congress before the end of the year. The anticipation had valid basis—there was initial groundswell support for the bill when it was filed. Unfortunately, as the year drew to a close, a number of representatives were reported to have already withdrawn support for the bill on account of unrelenting intimidation from the Catholic Church.

One congressman I know, who incidentally will vote for the passage of the bill but does not want his support for the bill publicized as he does not want to get…

Looking back

This is my column today.

The end of the year is always a good time to look back at the events during the year that made living in this country exasperating and frustrating but also exhilarating and exciting. So here then is the list of events in 2008 that rocked my world. Obviously, it’s a personal list and what’s in it may not sit well with others. But as has been said many times many ways, the relevance and gravity of an event is determined and measured by the personal circumstances of the person viewing it. It’s called subjective reality.

I think the two major global events that defined 2008 and which will have far-reaching implications on the world are the financial debacle that saw the collapse of major financial institutions and the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. The two events represent two extremes —on one hand, financial wreckage and devastation; on the other, hope and inspiration.

The financial catastrophe brought to their knees institutions once th…

My other passion...

Only those very close to me and well, those who have been inside my office at the Bank, are aware of my other passion, which is collecting artworks. It's kind of difficult not to notice it given the fact that practically every inch of wall in my office is occupied by a painting.
Yeah, I know. People automatically assume that it's an expensive passion. It can be, of course, if one sets his sights on the works of national artists and the more established artists. But there are also a lot of young, budding (sometimes starving) artists out there who need all the help they can get - this means more art patrons who buy art pieces. The prices of the works of some of these young artists are actually reasonable - they are probably comparable to a few action figure figurines. The problem is that not everyone appreciates or wants to invest in artworks, they'd rather spend their money on expensive gizmos of dubious quality and aesthetic value such as those really tacky wall hangings s…

Just the usual chismis

Nothing like good old-fashioned showbiz chismis to keep any reunion or get together alive and buzzing.

From the many Christmas parties that I went to this year, here's some of the juicier stuff that I gathered:

1. The supposed definitive story of what really happened to Marky Cielo. If the story that was being whispered about was true, it seems the scion of a powerful political clan in a province south of Manila has a lot of explaining to do. According to a very reliable source, which, as we all know, really means the information was gathered from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend... Marky Cielo had something going on with an up and coming young singer-actress who was being linked with the actor-scion of the political clan. Allegedly, death threats were made. Etc. Etc. But then again, this story may just be another yarn...just a product of someone's very active imagination. I think everyone should learn to take showbiz stories with shovels of salt. But if …

Marathon time...

Given my physical condition, which is best described by weaknesses rather than strengths, it is obvious that I am not referring to a different, more physical kind of marathon.

I'm taking advantage of the lonnnggg break to catch up on my reading and my DVDs backlog.

Here's the list of books that I intend to finish before January 5:

1. A Prisoner of Birth, Jeffrey Archer
2. The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling
3. Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman
4. Culture and History, Nick Joaquin
5. Passages, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo
6. Militant But Groovy, compiled by Soliman Santos and Paz Verdades Santos
7. Ultimate Blogs, Sarah Boxer
8. When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris
9. The Whole Truth, David Baldacci
10. The Flip Reader, Jessica Zafra
11. The Reader, Bernhard Schlink
12. A Thousand Splendid Sons, Khaled Hosseini
13. Soledad's Story, Jose Dalisay
14. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

Yup, good luck to me. Hahaha. I have issued an advisory to kith and kin that I didnt want to be disturbed …

Good tidings

As part of the homily, the priest at church today asked the community: If Jesus Christ were to be born today in Makati, where exactly would He be born?

Then he went around soliciting responses. Someone answered OSMAK, which is what Ospital ng Makati is called. Someone else said Makati Med. A third said The Peninsula. Obviously, the priest was not getting the answer he wanted so he continued to solicit more answers...

Finally, he blurted: Of course he would still choose to be born with the poor!!! And then he enumerated the possible modern-day versions of the stable - a shanty in a squatter's colony, in a makeshift house under a bridge, perhaps in a sidewalk.

I didn't quite agree with what the priest said, but Catholic masses are not exactly platforms of democracy so of course I kept my ideas to myself.

But the news was on when I got home and there it was: Reasons why I think Jesus might not have to be born in squalid conditions today. On the news were stories of people reaching ou…

Because it's Christmas

This was my column yesterday. Merry Christmas!

Isang tulog na lang, pasko na.

It’s the season to be more giving and consequently, forgiving; it’s supposed to be the time to be kinder and to be more tolerant.

And it is in this context that we let pass the controversial statements made by former President Corazon Aquino last Monday at the launching of Jose de Venecia’s autobiography. Aquino’s statements, as expected, were splashed across the front pages of the major dailies yesterday. Ordinarily, people would find a lot of things to say about former President Aquino’s very public request for forgiveness from former President Joseph Estrada for having led Edsa Dos, which as we all know, caused Estrada’s disgraceful exit from Malacañang.

But since it is Christmas, I think we can all be allowed some latitude for statements done “in the spirit of the season.” Of course some people might want to factor into the equation the former president’s current medical condition but I don’t think it is som…

Balm for weary hearts

This was my column yesterday, December 22. The picture at left was taken a couple of years back during a Christmas reunion with some members of the first batch of college students who took classes under me.
This time of the year is most stressful for me for many reasons.

It’s usually planning-for-next-year season at my day job on top of the many year-end chores that need to be attended to such as putting together the usual end-of-the-year reports and corporate events. In the last three weeks, my team at work has been putting in 12-hour workdays to meet major deadlines. At some point it seemed the whole Christmas season was getting in the way of our work.

This time of the year also marked the end of the second term at the College where I teach and that meant reading stacks of papers, checking tests, computing grades and necessarily, consoling and giving counsel to students who did not make the grade. I had to flunk some students in a major course I taught and this meant of course that th…

In the spirit of the season...

This was my column last Wednesday. Late post again.

As far as I am concerned, the official countdown to Christmas officially started only yesterday with the onset of the Misa de Gallo, more popularly known by the misnomer Simbang Gabi. Of course media organizations, business establishments and everyone else in the business of promoting consumerism started their own countdowns as early as September.

The pundits and the many self-styled disciples of Uncle Scrooge have been predicting a bleaker Christmas this year. But they’ve actually been saying this since 1997, when the Asian contagion broke out, trundling out the usual statistics and the usual indicators and benchmarks.

One interesting indicator that has evolved into an annual tradition is the computation of the projected cost of the gifts cited in the carol “Twelve Days of Christmas.” There’s a group that regularly goes through the exercise of computing the monetary value of all those dancing ladies, golden rings, French hens, turtle …

Judging the prejudiced

This is my column today.

There are those who see the Internet as the world’s biggest library—the source of all kinds of information from the truly significant to the most inconsequential.

There are those who see it as a trash box, the repository of filth and many things wicked and unspeakable, though not necessarily repulsive.

Others see the Internet as a virtual confessional—people who religiously log on to the Internet to share with the rest of the world the state of their mental or emotional states.

They use blogs as some kind of an online diary.

Finally, there are people who use the Internet as a pulpit—they are the people who regularly trawl the blogosphere in search of something, anything that grabs their interest. They leave commentary here and there, pick fights with others, engage in healthy or acrimonious debate, etc.

You put all these people together and you have a really potent brew.

And because the Internet and everything that is there is readily available to anyone 24/7 and the…

Postscripts to a victory

This was my column last Wednesday, December 12. Late post, sorry.

I received a number of e-mails in response to my column last Monday, which was about the Pacquiao victory, the whole phenomenon of which was described by reader Ed Reyes as “over-the-top media circus.” He was referring to the way media went to town with Manny Pacquiao’s victory over Oscar de la Hoya last Sunday. I have news for Mr. Reyes: Expect the hoopla to reach even more frenzied levels today when Pacquiao gets home.

All the dailies bannered the Pacquiao victory Monday morning, although not all went the way of the Philippine Daily Inquirer which allocated almost half of its front page to a glory shot of the Filipino boxer and a second coming banner “IT’S CHRISTMAS DAY,” yes, all in upper case letters. What can I say occasions for national celebration and jubilation, not to mention events that can be sensationalized, have become so very rare lately; not that it justifies the way media seems to be doing cartwheels over …

Boxing as a mind sport

This is my column today.

When the broadcast of the much-ballyhooed dream match was finally started on GMA-7 at 1:05 p.m., most Filipinos tuned in to the boob tube no longer in excited anticipation of finding out the outcome of the fight. The result of the match was already all over the Internet and was already being passed on from one cell phone to another through SMS.

And as if to spite GMA-7 which bagged the exclusive rights to broadcast the fight, ABS-CBN pulled the rug under by announcing the results through a streaming advisory that accompanied its regular programming.

There are of course those who think that awareness of the outcome already diminishes the value of the viewing experience; they are the people who hate spoilers. There’s certainly less anticipation and excitement when one already knows how something is going to end. But I’m sure that when it comes to things where national pride and honor seem at stake, being aware of the outcome also brings a new dimension into the vie…

A bad idea

This was my column last Wednesday, December 3.

Forgive me for being irreverent; the pronouncements of old men, particularly if they are wearing a miter, should be taken more seriously.

But how are we supposed to react to the repeated calls being made by bishops Deogracias Yñiquez of Caloocan and Antonio Tobias of Novaliches for us to follow the Bangkok example as a sign of protest over the very hasty way the impeachment complaint against the President of the Republic was junked by the House of Representatives and over the alleged moves of the President’s allies to install her as President-for-life?

Okay. I agree that the two bishops and the rest of civil society members have valid gripes. The tyranny of numbers killed the impeachment complaint yet again. But then again, that was a foregone conclusion, wasn’t it? The petitioners couldn’t even get many members of the opposition to signify support for the complaint. We’re not talking administration allies yet, just members of the opposition…

Reflections on World AIDS Day

This is my column today.

Today is World AIDS Day. In other parts of the world, it’s an important day; it’s that day when individuals and organizations come together to remind themselves and others about how HIV/AIDS has changed—and is still changing —the world and their lives in grave and dramatic ways.

There won’t be any significant commemoration in the Philippines. In the run-up to today, a number of organizations including some academic institutions and some local governments conducted various public events such as symposia and lectures on HIV/AIDS. But that’s about it. For most of us, HIV/AIDS is an issue that’s passé. In the words of one local celebrity whose support was sought by one non-government organization for its HIV/AIDS prevention programs recently, “HIV/AIDS is so yesterday.” She’s correct in one and only one aspect: The issue is not new, in fact, it has been with us for a long time already.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. It’s been two decades sinc…