Showing posts from April, 2009

The numbers game

Someone asked me if I already made one million hits on this blog.  The quick answer to that question is:  I don't know.  I deleted the counter two years ago and at that time, the count was around 300,000.  It is safe to assume that this blog had already hit more than a million.  Or not.  I don't know.
I figured the reason he asked was that some bloggers think hitting a million, or another million for that matter, is an important milestone.  Not for me, though.  Don't get me wrong. I don't think celebrating because a million people has pointed the mouse and clicked on the url is not reason enough for celebration.  It's just that I measure myself against a different yardstick.
I didn't create this blog to be popular. I don't write to create friends, or enemies, or fans, or hecklers.  I didn't accept the challenge of writing a regular column so I could make money, or build influence.  I write simply because I like doing so.  I write because it seems natural …

In contrast

I wrote the other day about how Senator Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez seemed intent on using their engagement and their impending wedding as campaign material.
There is no doubt that Judy Ann Santos is a much bigger star than both combined and has a more loyal following among the masa.  Senator Jajajajamby Madrigal did "buy" her image and got elected on the strength of Juday's immense popularity.   
Last Tuesday, Juday and Ryan Agoncillo got married.  I tip my hat off to the couple for not making a media extravaganza of their wedding.  They succeeded in getting married with only close family members and friends as witnesses.  Based on what we've seen on TV, the wedding was classy, elegant, private, intimate.
I hope Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez learned a thing or two from the younger couple.

Prevention is better than control

This is my column today.
For a while there, it did seem like everything was all right with the world. We had about a month or two of respite from the type of events that sent blood pressures racing to new heights.The hiatus saw media people scraping the bottom for newsworthy events that they could play up into screaming headlines.We knew there was a dearth of earthshaking news material because even Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s off-the-cuff remark about how Senators Ping Lacson and Manny Villar should simply shoot each other to resolve their differences became banner material for some media organizations. Of course it was a preposterous statement to make. But then again, it came from the mouth of a senator renowned for making controversial statements all year round so there was hardly anything new there.I also agree that the circumstances around Trina Arteche Etong’s death were newsworthy; the way the situation was managed by the Quezon City Police Department was even more worthy …

Romance and politics

Up until now, I never thought romance and politics could mix.  But I guess truth is really stranger than fiction.  
Just like everyone else, Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez deserve to find happiness and the fact that they found it in each others' arms should not be anyone else's business.  They are both single. They are both of age.  
But given that Mar Roxas is gunning for the presidency and has already launched a rather intensive campaign (a full year before the elections), the timing of the announcement of their engagement and the media blitz that has followed has sent not a few eyebrows to the stratosphere.  Last Saturday, the couple were in Wowowee where the senator unabashedly shed copious tears (supposedly of happiness although quite a number of wags were not convinced) and where they displayed behavior of the type generally associated with high school students. Thereupon, the irrepressible host of the show announced with undisguised jubilation "Umiiyak si Senator!!!!&q…

Celebrating Philippine fiestas

This is my column today.
It’s quite hard to describe ourselves collectively as a people. But if there’s something that seems able to capture our essence as a people, it’s the fiesta. First of all, it’s the one experience that seems common to all of us—there are as many fiestas as there are many barangays and barrios in this country.When I was growing up in a small town called Abuyog in the island of Leyte, summer meant the onset of fiesta season. The fiestas were scheduled like clockwork in the months of April and May, as if the elders of the various barrios of the town got together many scores ago to plot a timetable. A fiesta blended together religious fervor, unbridled merriment (including drunken revelry and lots of dancing), traditional games and contests, and needless to say, partaking of large quantities of food, glorious food. Nothing like a fiesta brings out our penchant to do things in the most bongga (over the top) way ever!I think that years of experience have enabled us to…

Text clans

This is my column today.
For quite some time now, we Filipinos have taken at face value the assertion by certain quarters that we are the “Texting Capital of the World.” It is alleged that the volume of text messages we exchange on a daily basis is far greater than the annual output of many European countries combined. I really don’t know if the record—or the self-anointed title—is something to gloat about.It’s a fact that we are a people with a propensity for staking claims on various global records and distinctions, some with dubious value. I know that there’s nothing inherently wrong with such a propensity; I also agree that there’s a lot of good to be had from having grand aspirations. I think that aspiring to be the best in a particular discipline or holding records for being the fastest in a competitive event deserves commendation. Unfortunately, this propensity has reached ridiculous levels such as when towns and cities begin holding all kinds of festivals to create the biggest …


This is my column today.
Now that people seemed to have come to their senses, perhaps it is time to talk about the Failon tragedies in a calm and sober manner. Yes, the use of the plural form in the previous sentence was deliberate. The unfortunate death of Trina Arteche Etong was just the first of a series of tragedies that happened last week.I did write a very impassioned piece on the incident in my Web log last week in reaction to the monumental blunders (a reader of my blog called it epic failure) of the officers belonging to the Quezon City Police District Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit. I don’t regret writing that piece where I cursed to high heavens the utter senselessness and the extreme viciousness displayed by the police officers.Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez has tried to explain, in his usual sardonic way, the general demeanor of the police officials as “enthusiasm.” I don’t know if there’s anyone out there who still puts any weight on the Justice …


I am not the type who cusses in public.

But I know now what it is like to be stupefied beyond words, to be reduced to utter incoherence when confronted with something unbelievably outrageous. One can only stare incomprehensively at the utter senselessness of it all and exclaim WHAT THE F*CK !?!

I do not have pretensions of being such an expert on how police matters should be conducted. I will also admit that I don't have insider information about the kind of evidence that was discovered, or lost, inside Ted Failon's residence in Quezon City. I don't know if he is guilty or innocent.

But this I know: He, his family, and his househelp do not deserve the kind of treatment that they have been getting from the police and from certain members of the media.

The day after the tragedy happened, I was surfing channels when I came across what seemed like a teaser for a discussion - a taped recording of a woman saying over and over again in an anguished voice "sorry papa, sorry p…

Drug money

This is my column today.
Drugs are often more than a necessity. They sometimes represent the thin line between survival and death. We know, too, that the prices of drugs in this country are so much more prohibitive than those in other Asian countries.I know these because like everyone else, I have parents in their old age who need to take regular medication. I also take maintenance medicines for various medical conditions. I used to travel around the region regularly and whenever I did, I would make it a point to hoard up on medicine in Bangkok, New Delhi, even Kuala Lumpur. The prices of drugs in these cities were easily at least 40 percent cheaper than what they would cost in the Philippines. Some were even cheaper by as much as 80 percent. For example, the drug that I usually take for gastritis costs around P140 per tablet in Manila. In Bangkok, the same medicine at the same dosage costs the equivalent of around P80. You bet the price difference is not negligible.Drug companies are …

Easter Sunday reflections

This is my column today.I woke up yesterday to find more than 30 text messages in my cellular phone all wishing me and my family a Happy Easter. Some of the messages contained profound reflections on the real meaning and significance of Christ’s resurrection. Others were the usual cute messages conveying Hallmark-styled greetings of hope, love and redemption.The messages came as a surprise. I realized of course that it would be unfair on my part to make deductions on whether or not the messages were indicative of the state of the senders’ spirituality. But being a theorist at heart —my friends rib me constantly about being a certified geek who tries to fathom meanings out of mundane things, they call it my “Sheldon personality” (after that nerd character in the television sitcom Big Bang Theory)—I did wonder if this new phenomenon of sending text messages on Easter Sunday were reflective of something more.Are we really seeing a resurgence of spirituality in the world today?I noted tha…

Trouble at Boracay during Holy Week

A friend who was in Boracay for Holy Week called me up this morning to tell me that his trip was quite exciting in an exasperating way.  Following were his observations:
1.  Too many people.  He was worried about the capability of the island to accommodate tens of thousands of people at one given time.   My personal take on this is that Boracay is a tragedy in the making.  The island is overexploited.  The question is: What is the government going to do about it?  
2.  Too many paparazzi.  He said that privacy in the island was almost nonexistent because the press, particularly movie press, was all over the island.  Of course this was to be expected given that most movie celebrities flock to the island on Holy Week.
3.  Too many brawls, most of them involving celebrities. He gave me a sampling of the tiffs and and scandals that occurred during the weekend.  Horrible.  It's bad enough that people party like there's no tomorrow during Holy Week.  But to get into catfights and brawl…

Lenten traditions

This is my column today.I’ve been abstaining from meat every Friday since the onset of Lent.I must admit though that the abstinence was prompted less by religious reasons.Although I am critical of the institutional biases of the Catholic Church, I am a practicing Catholic and I observe a number of religious traditions. But in the interest of honesty, I will admit that I haven’t been eating meat not only on Fridays but most days of the week because I need to lose weight drastically for health reasons.It’s just convenient to do so now because it’s also Lent.
The point I am trying to make is that it seems most of us now blend observance of religious traditions with practical reasons.Many among us observe religious traditions when it is convenient to do so.If it’s inconvenient, then we make up reasons to make it so. Before anyone scolds me for making generalizations based on personal circumstances, let me illustrate with a few more examples. I was in Noveleta, Cavite last Sunday for Palm S…