Showing posts from February, 2015

What were we thinking?

My February 24, 2015 column.

There was a time, no so long ago it seems, when we still would ask, “did he really say that?” or “what was he thinking?”  Not anymore today.  There are those who have started to take to the streets reminiscent of the heady days when outrage was best expressed in physical protest rather than just calling people names and posting cuss words in social media. Most of us, however, had gotten into the habit of simply rolling our eyes or just taking a deep, long sigh wishing it would be June 2016 when we wake up tomorrow.   Most of us do want Benigno Simeon Aquino III to finish his term, and even willing to look the other way when the haciendero inside gets the better of him; except that he seems to be doing a lot of that lately.  Worse, Aquino seems to be going out of his way just to shoot himself in the foot; it’s like he is truly looking for more trouble.  The recent display of the monumental lack of empathy and the inability to dissociate himself and his fami…

Better than the original

My February 22, 2015 column. Reworking movies or musicals with a cult following is a difficult thing to do because it is almost always impossible to replicate the context that made the original work endearing.  It’s an almost no-win situation because in the minds and hearts of the cult followers, nothing would ever come close to the original. Friends have been bugging me endlessly to watch “That Thing Called Tadhana” the local indie film that created quite a splash and subsequently went mainstream.  I finally got to watch it a few days ago and I am mightily glad I did.  It is essentially a local version of the Richard Linklater “Before” trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight), which traces the story of a couple who met accidentally on a train, fell in love, parted, met again, etc.  Just like Before Sunrise, Tadhana features just two characters (Angelica Pangilinan and JM de Guzman).  The couple met at an airport in Rome in unusual circumstances, got to know each o…

Cure worse than the disease

My February 17, 2015 column.

What does it say of us as a country and as a people when
on the very weekend when we were supposed to celebrate
the various permutations of love, a number of our bishops
called a press conference to openly ask for the President’s head,
supposedly as a sign of accountability for the death of the
44 soldiers in Mamasapano Maguindanao while a huge
billboard meant to celebrate “love for all kinds of love”
was mutilated, supposedly on orders of advertising authorities?  Of course we don’t expect people to accord Valentine’s
Day the same level of importance or reverence as Holy Week;
 we don’t expect people to postpone or reconsider major decisions
 or pronouncements on account of Valentines.  But the timing
still struck a discordant note because it seemed indicative of the
level of intolerance operating in our society.  It seems to me people
 are once again making a rush to judgment without really
considering the implications of their actions. I have always bee…

Momentary relief

My February 15, 2015 column.

One of my closest female friends, who think of herself as feminist, told her husband a few years ago not to send flowers to her office on Valentine’s Day.  She made a long discourse about how consumerism had taken the thrill out of the supposedly romantic gesture, about how the practice has robbed many women who were not in romantic relationships of their self-esteem, and how the thousands of pesos spent on flowers that would wilt in a few days were better spent on more worthwhile pursuits and purchases.  Her husband obliged, of course; I think happily at that.   On Valentine’s Day, she was the only one at work that did not get flowers.   She said she didn’t expect to feel bad, but she really did.   She tearfully told her husband her realization over dinner—that her attempts to intellectualize and politicize valentines were puny in the face of massive efforts to remind women of certain entitlements on special romantic occasions.  The following day, she pro…

Pambansang Epal

My February 10, 2015 column.

These are confusing times for the country.  We continue to grapple with the painful questions related to the massacre of 44 police officers in Mamasapano:  What really happened? Who was the Pied Piper who led the fallen 44 to their deaths?  Are the rumors about the involvement of US military people and certain national officials—the President included—in the planning and the actual monitoring of the military operation true?  Who is really telling the truth?  Should we continue to trust the Moro Islamic Liberation Front?  Is the Bangsamoro Basic Law—and by extension, peace in Mindanao—still worth pursuing at this point?  Since no one in government has come forward with a plausible theory, a convincing explanation, or at the very least a reassuring statement so far, many are pinning their hopes on the results of the various inquiries that have already started.  Unfortunately, if we are to go by previous experiences with similar inquiries I am afraid we’re in…

The good, the bad, and the ugly

My February 8, 2015 column.

For the second time within an eight-day period, the Commander in Chief addressed the nation Friday evening, supposedly to set things right, shed more light, and to placate a citizenry enraged by the massacre of 44 policemen, and infuriated by government’s subsequent mishandling of the crisis.  It was the first time that the President appeared publicly after being given the silent treatment by members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Forces whom he gathered for a dialogue. The good thing was that the President seems to be responding to public clamor for more empathy and for more direct accountability for the tragedy. This time around he veered away from the usual speech template that many have found tiresome and annoying.   There were no direct references to the past administration, nor were there overt efforts to draw attention to himself, and his and his family’s supposed sacrifices for the sake of the nation.  He also took responsibility f…

Wake up call

My February 3, 2015 column.

The sight of grown men in uniform crying in public is a difficult thing to watch.  It makes us realize the full extent of the grief, the disappointment, and the helplessness that must be in their hearts.  Watching hundreds of policemen march on a major thoroughfare to show solidarity for fallen comrades is not easy, either, because it is indicative of anger and resurging militance. 
My February 3, 2015 I still don’t think that what happened last week will result in a coup d’ etat as some idle minds have suggested.  A military uprising will require the support of civil society, business, and the Church.   Sure, the President has alienated powerful forces in both the military and the church recently (not to mention Noranians who are still smarting over his refusal to make Nora Aunor a national artist for personal reasons). But let’s get real, people.  There’s barely a year and half left in the President’s term and regardless of the major character flaws that h…


My February 1, 2015 column. It is difficult not to get furious at the death of the 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police at the hands of people we are supposed to be negotiating a peace agreement with.  The feeling turns into outrage when we consider the circumstances that led to their death and the subsequent bungled attempts to explain, and then to make amends, for what happened.   We claim to be a nation of heroes but sadly do not seem to know how to treat heroes with  dignity until after it is too late.  This recent tragedy called to mind what happened in August 2010 when eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in a disastrously bungled hostage incident at the Rizal Park in Manila.   The senseless tragedy happened because of lack of coordination and a seeming recklessness bordering on stupidity among those we expected to know better.   To make matters worse, both tragedies were aggravated by a monumental lack of empathy on the part of our leaders wh…