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Showing posts from February, 2008

Urban myths and the death of civil society

This is my column today.

This was something I had been meaning to write about immediately after Valentine’s Day, but I guess we all got sidetracked by seemingly more serious and scandalous matters.

On Valentine’s Day, I received through e-mail the latest reincarnation of the so-called AIDS Mary urban myth. The e-mail was forwarded to me by a college friend, who received it from one of her friends, who…well, we already know how that works. It’s like that “half-half” SMS joke that many people seem to think is funny because it has been forwarded to my cell phone at least five times already. It’s not funny because it ridicules people based merely on their physical appearance rather than on their actions.

But to go back to the latest reincarnation of the AIDS Mary urban myth, I checked the return path of the e-mail and was quite shocked to see some familiar names. In short, people who should know better than to forward messages of dubious origins and even more dubious, if not preposterously…

What are we waiting for?

This is my column today.

I’ve been asked the question many times in the last two weeks. The answer I give depends on the manner and tone the question is asked. There are those who pose the question with the sincere intent of broadening up their perspective and finding out what other people are thinking and where others stand in this whole stinking sordid mess.

There are those who ask the question with a tad more emotion, as if pleading with you to please see, hear, taste, smell the filth and stench that he or she thinks you have failed to perceive. Sometimes these people ask the question in a rhetorical way, not really expecting an answer, but more as a preface to a lecture.

Then there are those that ask the question in an brusque, sometimes even accusatory way, leaving no doubt whatsoever about the level of condescension that they feel for other people who are not with them, yet, or who haven’t joined their call. They ask because they seem to derive some pleasure from pointing out just …

Bungled holidays

This was my column last Wednesday. Sorry for the late post, been under the weather.

Malacañang turned around on a previous announcement and declared Monday, Feb. 25, a non-working day after all.

In another time and under normal circumstances such as a more civil political environment, the announcement by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita last Monday would have been met by delight, if not jubilation.

I have no doubt that many people still heaved a sigh of relief that they have once again been granted a longer weekend. But the announcement was already anti-climactic, as people were already resigned to having work or classes on Feb. 25.

I know, this borders on sala sa init, sala sa lamig and I am sure there are people out there, particularly in Malacanang who are muttering to themselves about how “there’s just no pleasing this people.”

But then again, we all know that these are not normal times for the country. The political environment can hardly be described as “civil” anymore. In fact, t…

Contradiction in terms

This is my column today.

Monday next week, Feb. 25, the 22nd anniversary of Edsa People Power 1, is a “working holiday.”

Since January, many of my colleagues in Human Resource Management have been pestering Malacañang for an official proclamation on Feb. 25 to allow industry time to manage their production and business schedules. We’ve been repeatedly told that the matter was still being deliberated on. Why something that has traditionally been a public holiday in the last many years would still require deliberation on every year baffles the mind. What is there to deliberate on?

Previous Presidential Proclamations on Feb. 25 parroted the same justification for declaring a public holiday on the date: “It is fitting that the people of the Philippines be given full opportunity to honor the memory of the Edsa People Power Revolution with appropriate ceremonies.”

So why not give people the same “opportunity” this year? It’s been the norm in the past, why break away from tradition?

Executive Sec…

Not in the mood

This is my column today.

Most of us don’t really need reminding, but just in case you have been impervious to everything else other than the latest outrageous turn of events at the Senate, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

I was strongly reminded of the significance of the date when my students almost went ballistic as I announced last week that I would be giving a long test “Thursday, next week.” Students don’t like tests, generally speaking. But the reaction was more vehement. That’s when it hit me. To people of a certain age, Valentine’s Day is still a special day. Go ahead, snicker and make faces if you feel like it.

I’m not sure how Valentine’s Day fits into the national consciousness at this particular juncture in the country’s history. Once again, there is a certain pall in the air, like a foreboding of bleaker things to come in the next few days. I know that many people are not in the mood for some loving.

I certainly am not feeling any affection for Secretary Lito Atienza of the Depar…

Missing the point again

This is my column today.

“O tapos?” And then what?

My friend kept on interrupting our conversation with this question, uttered in a rather acerbic and sarcastic way, which indicated he wasn’t as interested in what really happened next, but on something bigger, something more earthshaking, which unfortunately, wasn’t forthcoming.

Most of us work drones didn’t have access to television last Friday although thanks to cellular phones with built-in radios some of us did manage to catch snippets of the lugubrious event at the Senate. But I did keep myself glued to the television set and trawled the net until the wee hours of Saturday in an effort to keep track of what was asked and said at that hearing. I ended up repeating and saying to no one in particular my friend’s question. “O tapos?”

Don’t get me wrong. I think Jun Lozada is a very credible witness. I think that what he had to say is important and that he deserves to be heard. I also think that what he was made to go through by the h…

Goodbye, Joe

This is my column today.

It was difficult not to be moved at the sight of Jose de Venecia standing forlorn in the middle of the Hall of Congress last Monday night, looking beaten and dejected, striking blindly at Malacañang and the President and flailing around like a drowning man.

His pain, and the very personal way in which he took his ouster as speaker of the House of Representatives, became palpable when he looked at the assembled congressmen and moaned “Someday, this can happen to you.”

It was sad and moving because we all knew the man was not feigning the pain. The betrayal from the hands of the same people he fed, nurtured, perhaps even bought off with his own money, was all too real. He had come to the end of the road to find that most of the people whom he thought were his allies and friends had already deserted him, proof that in politics, there are no permanent friends nor enemies, just permanent interests.

But sadder still is the fact that despite the drama and the hysterics, …

Trumping up the media card

This is my column today.

But aren’t you a columnist? Why don’t you write about it?” I’ve lost track of the number of times a friend threw that line to me every single time I encountered something annoying, such as when products that I had paid for didn’t work, or when customer service in some establishment stank big time, or when we saw mulcting cops victimize hapless motorists.

That question ranks high up there with that other comment: “It’s amazing how you don’t run out of topics to write about.”

I admit that there are days when finding something worthwhile to write about is a major struggle. Oh sure, there are too many things that are wrong with this country and far too many politicians and public officials that deserve to be hung in the bar of public opinion. One will not run out of something to gripe about if one has no compunction about compromising integrity, or being known as an inveterate sourpuss whose concept of his job description is to spew vitriol every day.

There are a numb…

Questions for possible 2010 candidates

I promised Janette Toral that I would take the time to blog about what I think are the important issues for the 2010 elections.

I agree that the macro issues such as economics, the environment, regional development, etc., are all important issues. These form the bedrock against which national development can rise from. I will not belabor the point. Others have done a better job at it anyway.

But given the rather tenuous situation we find ourselves in today, I think that there are special issues, and consequently, specific qualities (or to borrow a term from my profession - competencies) that anyone aspiring to become president should- in fact, must- have. These issues may be more critical in the short term than the larger issues.

I've chosen to frame these issues in the form of specific questions:

1. How exactly do you intend to unify this country, or at least usher in a more constructive form of dialogue among the more vocal and influential stakeholders, that's necessary to get a…