Showing posts from January, 2010

Being true to one's self

This is my column today.
Nice guys finish last. I have always found this admonition objectionable and I have always gone out of my way to point out to people that being nice is not necessarily a curse. As I always tell my kids, my students, my nephews and nieces and everyone else within my circle of influence: It is okay to be nice.Being civilized is still and should still be the norm in society regardless of what our leaders say or do.Apparently, being nice is not only a disadvantage today. It is also considered tantamount to being phony and insincere. Being nice and by extension, being considerate, holding one’s temper and biting one’s tongue in the face of extreme provocation, and generally being tolerant of other people’s shortcomings is now considered the height of hypocrisy. The common expression being used by people today to refer to those who are trying to be nice is “di nagpapakatotoo” (loosely, not being true to one’s self). Others indulge in simple generalizations and label …

Unsweetened truth

This is my column today.

As someone who firmly believes that dessert is the whole point of any meal—I am one of those who see the main course as just a prelude to dessert—I am concerned that the price of sugar has spiraled seemingly out of control since Christmas. As of last week, a kilo of white sugar was retailing between 50 to 60 pesos in certain public markets, quite a big leap from where it was during the holiday season, which was at 40 pesos. We are told the runaway price of sugar is temporary, caused by an artificial shortage. Someone actually said on public television that the shortage was caused by the supposedly high demand for sugar during the last holiday season. Yeah, blame the people for pigging out on leche flan and brazo de Mercedes. Government, as can be expected, has tried to diffuse adverse reaction to the situation by insisting that there is no shortage. Yet in the same vein, Agriculture Secretary Yap has announced that the government is importing tons of sugar an…

A mother's love

This is my column today.
A riveting sidebar story to the whole Jason Ivler caper involved Marlene Aguilar, the fugitive’s mother. Up until last Monday, Aguilar projected the image of a grieving mother, the stereotypical Mater Dolorosa who shed copious tears on public television, at turns appealing to her son to surrender to the authorities and blaming everyone else for her son’s tragedy from Uncle Sam to allegedly overzealous government authorities. It was easy to empathize with her and I know many did.Everyone can relate to a mother’s grief; after all, everyone has a mother and mothers by nature are supposed to be nurturing, fiercely protective of, and are supposed to have unconditional love for their children.In the interest of transparency, I will disclose that I am not exactly an objective and disinterested party in this case. I have written in this space about my close relationship with Renato Victor Ebarle, the victim of Ivler’s uncontrollable rage. I am one of those who want Ivl…

How politics is killing Tacloban

This is my column today.
I was recently in Tacloban City where I inevitably found myself immersed in pre-election concerns and had a whiff of the stink of local politics.An unusual spectacle is unfolding in the electoral contest in the city. The incumbent mayor, Alfred Romualdez, is running for re-election. There’s really nothing wrong with his quest for re-election because he has not yet exceeded his term limit. However, his slate includes his father, Bejo Romualdez, who is running for vice mayor. If both win, Tacloban will have a father and son sitting as Mayor and Vice Mayor, respectively.I know. This situation is not really unusual in this country. Various permutations of political dynasty exist in this country such as husband-and-wife teams sitting as mayor and congressman or father and son sitting as mayor and chairman head of the Sangguniang Kabataan. But I think not very many families have the audacity to actually want to corner both the posts of mayor and vice mayor of the sam…

Very showbiz

This is my column today.
Being “showbiz” has come to mean being pretentious, hypocritical, or fake. Thus, to be labeled “showbiz na showbiz” is definitely not a compliment. This is probably the reason why most people try to convey the impression that they don’t give a hoot about the latest skirmishes involving our local celebrities or the latest gossip from the local show business industry. Of course it is possible that they also secretly relish and devour every tiny morsel of salacious rumor about, say, the real reason behind Claudine Barretto’s transfer to the GMA Network or about Paolo Bediones’ motivation for transferring to ABC 5.The truth is that there are many issues involving local show business that are just as important and deserving of our attention. Television is a powerful all-pervasive medium and many people today spend more time in front of a television than anywhere else. Many children are reared by local celebrities - they wake up and eat breakfast with the hosts of Um…


This was my column yesterday.
I‘ve always wondered what it is that that impels people to plunge headlong into a veritable stampede of a shoving, jostling, swirling barefooted throng of humanity—risking life and limb in the process—just to be able to see, touch or kiss a religious image.Is it really faith—the absolute, unquestioning kind—that propels them to throw logic and caution to the wind for the sake of sustaining a religious ritual?Paradoxically, given the millions of Filipinos that converge in Manila January 9 of every year and who submit themselves to the unique rituals around the Black Nazarene of Quiapo—most of which border on blind fanaticism —can we say that we are people with strong faith? Is the increasing number of devotees who continue to perpetuate the same rituals despite advances in information technology and the preponderance of more scientific data that offer divergent perspectives evidence of the power of religion? Or is this one more proof of the growing level of…

In the name of faith

I've always wanted to experience first hand the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Up until last Saturday, I never really had the opportunity to do so. I was warned not to bring valuables. I was also told there would be lots of people so bringing a camera was out of the question.
I brought my cellphone and used it to take pictures.
First realization: The procession actually involves hundreds of Black Nazarene images. Apparently devotees bring their personal images of the Black Nazarene to the procession. These images also receive their fair share of attention from the other devotees who also pass on towelettes and hankies (to children hoisted on top of the carozas) to be wiped on the faces of the images. These towelettes are supposed to have healing powers.

I took the LRT going to Quiapo. While inside the train I saw the procession still inching its way along Taft Avenue and realized it was going to take hours before the procession would reach Escolta. I had hours to kill so I decided to spend the time going around the Quiapo area.
Most people think that devotees join the procession all the way from its point of origin up to the time it comes to an end. Actually, most devotees simply wait for the procession at strategic points along the route. While waiting for the procession, they take the opportunity to rest. Some unfurl mats; others bring out food. It's still a fiesta, after all.
Fortunately, there was lots of food being peddled by very enterprising people. I didn't get to take pictures of many of the various kakanin that were available. There was this man who was selling sandwiches - he had a basket of bread and various fillings spread out before him. Buyers could pick what went into their sandwiches. An old woman was selling Thai tamarind.
As can be expected, politicians couldn't help themselves. I saw many wearing t-shirts with political messages written at the back. Here were some of them.

Mediocre harvest (part 2)

This was my column yesterday. Just got back from Tacloban City today.
As I wrote in this space last Monday, I watched the three films in the ongoing Metro Manila Film Festival that received some “critical” acclaim. I wrote about I Love You Goodbye two days ago; today I am writing about Ang Panday, the top grosser and Best Picture in the film festival and Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love, recipient of the Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award, Most Gender-Sensitive Film, and Best Actress for the megastar Sharon Cuneta.Ang Panday passes off as mythology for some Filipinos, particularly those who grew up reading Pinoy comic books for leisure. Many Filipinos latched on to the epic story of the blacksmith Flavio who fashioned a powerful sword out of a meteorite and in the process saved the world from the clutches of the evil Lizardo. Written by Carlo Caparas, Ang Panday had previously been given life in the big screen by the King of Filipino Movies, the late Fernando Poe Jr. This year’s version has Se…

Mediocre harvest (Part 1)

This is my column today.

Are we really helping the Philippine movie industry by patronizing the annual Metro Manila Film Festival? It seems the annual festival has become nothing but a money-making venture, an opportunity for movie producers to rake in profits. There’s nothing inherently wrong with making money, of course; producing movies, after all, is still a business venture. But the festival is also supposed to be a showcase of Filipino talent and is intended to advance the cause of Philippine filmmaking. The movie industry was supposed to come out with quality movies as some kind of Christmas offering to the Filipino movie-going public who, in turn, were supposed to show their appreciation by patronizing more Filipino movies. It was supposed to be a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the overall quality of the movies featured in the annual festival has been on a steady decline over the years. This year’s harvest is particularly dismal: Not a single film among the seve…