Posts

Showing posts from November, 2014

A republic within RP

This is my column today, November 30, 2014.


We are a country that takes offense at the slightest hint of racism.  We riled against a European biscuit manufacturer that dared to name its product as “Filipino.”  We got insulted when certain groups abroad dared to make the word “Filipina” synonymous with domestic help.  We protested against  building administrations in Hong Kong and Singapore who posted signs in elevators that not only disallowed Filipino domestic helpers from using elevators, but worse, lumped them together with pets as a category.  We regularly take up the cudgels for fellow Filipinos who are denigrated on account of disabilities, or the color of their skin, or their social or economic background.  On the other hand, we are also a people who take pride in the fact that we have a culture that is highly relational; sociologists have even developed the concept called  “Kapwa Psychology” to explain our penchant for seeing ourselves in other people.  We tend to value our wo…

A wedding to remember

This is my column today, November 23, 2014. There are weddings that are really fashion events and where everyone struts and preens around like peacocks.  There are weddings that seem like a college carnival where everyone was allowed to run amuck with their creative ideas.  There are weddings that are conducted with military-like precision where everyone wears a constipated demeanor and go through the motions like they were merely doing an assigned task or role.  The weddings that I remember fondly were those where the groom and bride were truly having the time of their lives and the whole atmosphere radiated of genuine love and affection.  I’ve been to simple weddings where the bride and groom wore seemingly nondescript clothes and where the focus was the ceremony and what it meant to the couple and everyone gathered for the ceremony.  I’ve also been to very lavish weddings where the bride and groom obviously agonized over every detail to make sure that the whole event was everything…

In praise of career bureaucrats

This is my column today, November 18, 2014.


My day job often requires dealing with regulators and government functionaries, a task that cannot be described as generally enjoyable or pleasant.  It is true that most people in government are actually competent and sensible; unfortunately, our systems seem to have been designed for people to act like robots running on an obsolete operating system. So while we may find some of the best and most dedicated people in government, dealing with government offices is something many of us would rather avoid.   Fortunately, there are government agencies that are trying very hard to keep pace with the rest of the world.  It’s always gratifying to hear that one need not take a whole day off anymore just to apply for or actually get a license or certification from some government office and that certain processes are already automated and can be accessed online.  The most difficult hurdle has always been in terms of mindsets as most career bureaucrats…

An invitation to victimization

This is my column today November 16, 2014.


Perhaps I am just a naturally cynical person who couldn’t recognize altruism even if it were wrapped in gold and served on bended knees.  I will admit to being particularly suspicious every single time our telecommunications companies announce promos that seem too good to be true.  Having been victimized many times over by all three major telcos that operate in the country, I think I can be allowed to offer this unsolicited advice:  The best kind of corporate social responsibility program that our telcos can offer is to improve their current services.  Internet connectivity in this country is horribly slow and we continue to be bottom feeders in Asia in terms of Internet speed.  Giving existing customers exactly what they pay for - and it wouldn’t hurt if they actually exceed the expectations and provide faster speed and reliable and easy connectivity - seem like good examples of outstanding corporate citizenship.  But we Filipinos like havin…

My Snippy

This is my column today, November 11, 2014.


I must admit that there have been days and occasions when I actually felt that the President was justified for being snippy.  We do have the tendency to assign superhuman qualities to our leaders, particularly the President, and expect him to provide solutions to our many problems promptly, nicely, and in a comprehensive manner. And then, many of the influentials in this country do tend to complicate rather than help matters; and very often, what is being passed off as constructive criticism or advice is really nothing more than just a pathetic attempt to draw attention to themselves and their politically-vested interests.  For example, we all know that the flailing and the caterwauling being done regularly by those accused of stealing public funds are really just desperate attempts to diffuse the situation or to buy time.  So on these occasions, a cutting remark from the Taray King that immediately smashes all the political and diplomatic g…

Lest we forget

This is my column today, November 9, 2014.


I wasn’t home when the strongest typhoon in history hit last year.  I was scheduled to fly home to Tacloban City exactly a year ago yesterday to stand as sponsor at the wedding of the daughter of one of my College friends.  The wedding did not happen and it would not be until after four full days later before I could wrangle a seat on a private plane bound for Tacloban (and I must admit I was so much luckier than most others who couldn’t get a seat on any plane, or boat, or bus bound for Leyte or Samar at that time despite their very best efforts).  Before I got to Tacloban on November 12, I had already seen horrifying footages of the devastation in various media reports and in social networking sites.  I had already talked to some of the survivors in person and through telephone.   But nothing prepared me for the kind of devastation that accosted us as soon as Tacloban and nearby towns became visible from the windows of the tiny plane.  Coco…

Remembering a giant

This is my column today November 4, 2014.


One of the greatest Filipinos who ever lived passed away last week.  Juan Flavier, doctor to the barrios, non-government organization stalwart, former Secretary of Health, and one of the most popular senators of this republic, was probably the best president this country never had.  He was a man of vision, a man of action, and more importantly, a man of integrity and conviction. I expected his death to make a major impact on this country; I certainly expected a barrage of tributes on social networking sites.  Alas, it seemed people were more concerned with ghost stories than the passing on of a man whose qualities could put to shame any of the current so-called presidentiables.  I was an idealistic college student when I first met Flavier.  He was then President of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction and he was a guest speaker at a national youth institute for community service.  As activists, my friends and I were naturally cy…

Halloween Philippine-style

This is my column today, November 2, 2014.


I was at the Mall of Asia for lunch last Friday where I promptly found myself amidst a stampede of fairies, super heroes, an assortment of cartoon characters from Shrek to Sponge Bob, zombies and other various interpretations of dead people and scary beings.  It was bedlam. There were kids of all ages all over the mall; and when I say all ages, I really do mean all ages.  There is no denying it – the Western (or should we say, American) Halloween tradition of dressing up in costumes and doing trick or treat has found its way into our culture. Of course it is only inside the posh villages and gated subdivisions where one can actually see children dressed in costumes knocking on doors and screaming “trick or treat.”  Let’s make no bones about it – the whole trick-or-treat phenomenon is not sustainable in our culture where discipline, self-restraint, and concern for others are tossed out when certain “benefits” are to be had.  Probably because r…