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Showing posts from December, 2014

How much more money do you need to make?

This is my column for today, December 30, 2014. As expected, the top three movies (I refuse to call them films) that dominated the box office in the ongoing 40th run of the Metro Manila Film Festival got royally snubbed by the jurors. The top three films snagged only one award—best child performer for Ryzza Mae Dizon.  In fact, at the risk of sounding like we want to rub salt to injury, it must be noted that the three movies failed to get nominated in many categories.  In the spirit of calling a spade a dirty shovel, the jurors declared the top three movies the worst of the lot. The presidential sister who must not be named in this column, who not only lent her star wattage but in fact also bankrolled the movie she starred in, declared unapologetically on public television that she was quite happy with just the box office results, the critics and the jurors be damned.  After all, her movie, she said, had already earned the singular distinction of having made the biggest first-day gross…

Why you should watch "Bonifacio"

My December 28, 2014 column.


Everybody in this country knows that the Metro Manila Film Festival  ceased to be a showcase of serious filmmaking a long, long time ago.  Most of those who troop to the movie houses during the holiday season do so simply because it had become a Christmas tradition of sorts.  People like me do so as a token gesture of support for the major players of the Philippine movie industry, most of which reportedly make as much money only during the MMFF.  The MMFF is mainly a commercial extravaganza, but we continue to support it in the hope that doing so will help keep the Philippine movie industry alive.  Fortunately for me, the nephews and nieces are now all grown up.  In the last three years I have been spared the torture of having to watch the mindless and pointless comedies and/or fantasy MMFF movies that kids are naturally drawn to.  We still watch MMFF movies, but we pick the ones that try to meet some other criteria other than just making money.  These are u…

In the spirit of the season

My December 23, 2014 column. It will be Christmas in two days.  While the major media networks are still going overdrive in getting everyone all worked up for the big day, it looks like most of us have already peaked early on.  Traffic was still bad over the weekend, but not as bad as in previous weekends.  We were at a major mall Sunday afternoon to catch The Hobbit and it was manageable—we were surprised that we could actually stroll leisurely around the mall and get seats in a restaurant.  My hope is that we have gotten the commercial and materialist trimmings of the season out and the next few days can be focused on enjoying the real essence of Christmas.  Here’s hoping the next few days can be spent in relative peace and tranquility, with less of the usual aggravations. For most of us, this means reliving certain traditions.  There are many things that are great about this season of joy, peace, and hope but the ones that are truly heartwarming are the efforts to sustain certain F…

A theory to explain our traffic woes

My column for today, December 21, 2014. It’s a seasonal thing.  Apparently, there are people in this country who believe the current traffic nightmare that we are experiencing in Metro Manila is a glitch that is tied up with the annual season of gift-giving and merry-making.  This theory would hold more water if not for the fact that our traffic woes are no longer just triggered by seasonal factors such as school opening and midnight madness sales.  The sad truth is that virtually anything nowadays can turn our major thoroughfares into huge parking spaces – a little rain, a road accident, a construction or repair, a long weekend, a brownout, pay day, etc. It’s a symptom of the utter lack of strategic or systemic thinking in our country.  There is gridlock on our roads supposedly because no one is directly responsible for managing the whole traffic system.  We have 100 local executives around Metro Manila all trying to manage traffic in their respective cities and municipalities, compl…

Surprise visit, non-surprising finds

This is my column for today, December 16, 2014. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima conducted a surprise visit at the Bilibid Prison yesterday.  She had been riling about conditions at the prison for the longest time. She even scolded Bureau of Corrections officials last week for allowing the construction of a two-story structure inside the compound for the private use of inmates.  An irate De Lima finally swooped down with dozens of agents from the National Bureau of Investigation at Bilibid yesterday and came up with substantial proof that, indeed, certain inmates were enjoying privileges and luxuries disallowed of convicted criminals.  Among those discovered were a bathtub, air conditioning units, drug paraphernalia, closed circuit television and telecommunication gadgets. “Someone will pay,” the Justice Secretary seethed. I truly am amazed at our ability to be surprised over things like what the Justice Secretary discovered yesterday at the national penitentiary. Seriously, folks, did…

Why our prison system stinks

My column today, December 14, 2014. For what seemed like the nth time, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima publicly scolded last week officials of the Bureau of Corrections for allegedly allowing high profile inmates at the National Penitentiary—more popularly referred to as Bilibid Prison—certain luxuries and privileges. This time around, de Lima riled against the presence of a two-storey structure inside the Bilibid Prison supposedly being used as living quarters by a convicted drug lord. The Corrections people insisted that the structure was not being used as living quarters but supposedly as some kind of an activity center by Muslim inmates. The explanation was hilarious because the officials virtually admitted that they allowed inmates to build structures within the government compound. Regardless of the purpose, inmates just cannot be allowed to do as they please while in prison. We’ve been hearing stories for quite some time now about how powerful inmates such as politicians, scions…

Lessons from another typhoon

My column today, December 9, 2014.


We spent the weekend alternately wringing our hands in worry and clasping them in prayer as Typhoon Ruby descended into the country.  We have family members in Leyte who were also victims of the strongest typhoon in history last year, so our concern was understandable particularly as relatives kept sending frantic text messages and making alarming posts in social networking sites about how strong the howling winds were, and eventually, how long drawn-out their suffering was.  Fortunately, mobile phone signals and Internet connectivity continued to be available as the typhoon barreled until they gave way at about five in the morning of Sunday in Tacloban and most parts of Leyte.  Sadly, most of Eastern Samar was already incommunicado as early as 9:00 pm of Saturday when Ruby made first landfall in the town of Dolores. Although Typhoon Ruby did not pack winds as strong as those of Yolanda, it meandered along its path at a slow pace of 13-15 kilometers …

Hype vs substance

This is my column today, December 7, 2014.


I have learned never – as in never—to believe celebrities when they endorse films that they, or their friends star in, or are part of.  For example, when certain celebrities would proclaim on public television that their latest “film” is their best work so far, or that it offers valuable lessons in life, or when they stress that they have never before invested as much effort or emotions or resources as they have done on the film that they are promoting - I make a strong resolve to avoid that particular film.  Experience has taught me that the actual quality of a movie is inversely proportionate to the level of hype heaped on it by people who are part of it. I prefer to hear directly from disinterested people who have actually seen the film, and yes, these exclude overzealous fans who shriek in front of TV cameras and sing paeans regardless of the quality of the movie or the performance of the stars they worship.  There was a time in the past …

Ona should quit

My column today, December 2, 2014. I know it’s not okay to kick a man when he is down.  But I still think the honorable option that Health Secretary Enrique Ona has—in fact, should have immediately taken two months ago —is to resign from his post and allow someone else to take over. Ideally, someone with better management and leadership competencies, and hopefully, more charisma.   Admittedly, the current Acting Health Secretary, Janet Garin, does not inspire confidence either, although she seems to have more media savvy on account of her background as a former legislator.   But if we are to go by her initial foray into public health issues, Garin is a major disaster waiting to happen, as validated by the way she handled the issue of the Filipino peacekeepers who were quarantined in an island off Corregidor as precaution against spreading the Ebola virus.   Garin had science on her side when she insisted that the Ebola virus can only be transmitted by someone who was suffering from sy…