Posts

Showing posts from October, 2014

Begging for trouble

This is my column today, October 28, 2014.


The public nightmare, which is the government mishandling of the murder of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude, continues.     Marc Sueselbeck, the German fiance of Laude, was prevented from leaving the country over the weekend on the strength of a hold departure order issued by the government.  Apparently, Sueselbeck broke laws and challenged Philippine authorities when he climbed the perimeter fence of the Joint US Military Assistance Group inside Camp Aguinaldo and shoved Technical Sergeant Mariano Pamittan who was manning the gate.  Sueselbeck allegedly wanted to come to the aide of Marilou Laude, sister of the slain transgender woman, who was the first to climb the perimeter fence and confront the military men who were guarding Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US Marine accused of killing Laude. It must be stressed that Pamittan did display maximum tolerance and professionalism, which was the reason why the incident …

Caught up in the surge

This is my column today, October 26, 2014.


This will probably shock or disappoint some people and probably amuse others, but I say this with a great deal of honesty:  Up until last week, I didn’t have the faintest idea what H&M was and why the opening of their first store in Manila would represent The Second Coming to many.  I didn’t realize that my existence was incomplete or that I was not sucking enough marrow out of life by not being familiar with the global clothing brand.  It so happened that I had a lunch appointment in Megamall on the same day the store opened and witnessed for myself the extent to which many people would go to attain that distinction of having been among the first to have bought goods from the latest global franchise to open in Manila.  I was blown away by the dogged determination and commitment of such people.  Apparently, there is some pride to be had in having in one’s possession clothes that were bought on the opening day of a particular store, or at …

Political machinations

This is my column today, October 21, 2014.


The President confirmed yesterday that he did assure Vice President Jejomar Binay, in their closed-door meeting held last week, that the government would be fair in the handling of the investigations being made to look into allegations that Binay pocketed money from various government projects while he was still Mayor of Makati and that he owned a sprawling hacienda in Batangas.  In return, the Vice President was supposed to have promised to continue being an administration ally until the end of this administration’s term in 2016.  As can be expected, people are making personal inferences to what happened last week based on subjective agenda.  There are those who insist that the President’s pronouncements was really neither here nor there and indicated being noncommital.  Others insist that the meeting between the top two officials of the land last week was a reaffirmation of the personal relationship between the two – in short, the equivalen…

Hate crime

This is my column today, October 19, 2014.


Jennifer Laude was found dead at the bathroom of a motel in Olongapo City last week.  The case has been generating media and public attention for two reasons.  First, the suspect in the murder is a United States military personnel who is in the country by virtue of the Visiting Forces Agreement, an arrangement that is perceived by many particularly by nationalists as grossly disadvantageous and unfair to Filipinos.  This is the second time that a US-enlisted man has been involved in sexual crime in the country during the conduct of military exercises under the VFA.  Second, there are quite a number of elements in the story that are, to put it mildly, out of the ordinary. First of all, the victim was a transgendered woman.   In this country, that’s a sexual identity that invites curiosity, if not outright prejudice and condemnation.  Of course the fact that Laude was murdered under gruesome circumstances (she was drowned on a toilet bowl) has …

One year after Yolanda

This is my column today, October 2014.


In just four weeks, it would be one whole year since the most destructive typhoon ever to visit the country hit most of Visayas and sent the people of Leyte and Samar down on their knees, if not totally prostrate on the ground.  I am sure there will be efforts to recall the tragedy that happened on November 8, 2013 and in the succeeding days, weeks and months.  There will be ceremonies to remember the thousands who perished – many of them still unaccounted for and most of them buried in anonymous or makeshift graves and in conditions bereft of the most basic form of respect for human dignity.   I am sure there will religious rites to commemorate the first death anniversary of those who perished as required by the Waray culture. I am sure there will be efforts to celebrate the heroism of many people, particularly those of ordinary citizens who volunteered their services and resources to aid Yolanda’s victims including those who were victims themse…

From bad to worse

This is my column today, October 12, 2014.


We Filipinos have very high tolerance for all sorts of inconvenience and difficulties caused by natural or manmade factors.  We’ve learned to make allowances for traffic, potholes, discourteous or incompetent civil servants, non-availability of services, brownouts, etc.  We don’t make as much fuss anymore when prices of basic commodities or of utilities go up or down at the slightest notice, or even when something as important as rice or garlic momentarily disappear from supermarket shelves.  We even make jokes even when lives are already endangered such as when our public transport systems go berserk.  We’ve learned to look the other way or choose not to notice the grime, the smell, and the lack of air conditioning at our main airport terminal.  We’ve become immune and have learned to accept the ignominious reputation of being host to the worst Airport in the world for the nth consecutive time.  We make do with what is there.  We are a resil…

More to come

This is my column today,  October 7, 2014.


There are days when things just do not make sense in this country, when God seems to be playing a joke on us—perhaps in an effort to make us sit up and notice just how farcical things have become, or just to illustrate even more painfully some lessons which we were supposed to have learned a long time ago.  Our collective experience has shown that presidents of this Republic do have a fixed shelf life.  No matter how noble their intentions, no matter how grand their plans, no matter what they do while in office—they begin to stink after a few years.  I don’t think there has ever been a president in this country who didn’t become unpopular towards the end of his or her term.  This is because the president of this country is expected to be superhuman—able to fix all the problems big and small.  Just last Saturday, while stuck in yet another gigantic monstrous traffic jam in EDSA, my friends started talking about what they would do if they were …

Money making venture at Terminal 3

This is my column today, October 5, 2014. There’s a new scheme at the Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport that suspiciously smells like a money-making venture of some powerful official.  In the past, carts were readily available at the various bays for passengers travelling with luggage.  These carts could be had at the passenger gates and security guards readily replenished the supply.  When we got to the Terminal 3 last week to take a flight to Tacloban, there were no carts available!  Our search for the elusive carts took us to three gates, but there were no carts available.  We tried asking the security guards manning the gates for help, but they were passive and gave lame excuses.  It was as if everyone in Terminal 3 were part of a conspiracy to ensure that passengers to do not get their hands on baggage carts.  We did notice the new porters in their purple and green uniforms roaming around the arrival area each pushing a cart.  They would approach each new arriv…