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Showing posts from January, 2015

Spending for the poor

My January 27, 2015 column. I think efforts to hide the poor and to cover up the stink, the grime, and the unsightly are futile because everyone today has a camera and a ready access to the Internet.  There will always be someone with a damning footage and there is always the possibility of that footage going viral because most of us jump at every opportunity to prove others —particularly those in power— wrong.  This is why it is difficult to believe that the Social Welfare Department and Secretary Dinky Soliman would deliberately uproot hundreds of homeless people from their makeshift shelters in Roxas Boulevard and bring them to a “posh resort” in Batangas just to hide them from the Pope.  Surely, Soliman and the rest of the people at DSWD are not so dumb as to think that these people don’t have cellular phones or contacts with the rest of the world.  If we are to believe everyone else, they are.  I don’t subscribe to this point of view, though.  I still think Soliman and the DSWD p…

More chances to travel in 2015

My January 25, 2015 column.


The recent visit of the Pope was also a harbinger of sorts
for what’s in store for Filipinos in 2015: more long weekends!
This is because most Philippine holidays will fall on either a Friday
or Monday this year. In addition, a few holidays will fall on a
Thursday or Tuesday. People can actually plan their work
ahead so they can file leaves on the sandwiched days and be
guaranteed of even longer weekends. In fact, those who
 are creative and proactive can find ways to schedule their
leaves within the holidays so that a five day leave can
translate into a ten- or twelve- day holiday. This bodes well for traveling, which seems to be a
new preoccupation for Filipinos, thanks to the advent
of budget flights and ready accessibility of travel arrangements.
One can now arrange trips simply by trawling the Internet.
A friend was able to arrange a month-long vacation to Europe
 for 20 people scheduling transportation logistics, making
hotel bookings, and even buying…

Postscripts to a papal visit

My January 20, 2015 column. Today is the first day when we all trudge back to our normal lives.  In the words of a friend, it’s when we suffer the painful crash back to reality after a five-day high when everyone put on their best behaviors imbibing and spreading gratefulness, kindness, and peace.   Why, indeed, couldn’t we do that – be like that - every day? Given what happened, many couldn’t help but engage in wishful thinking – wishing the Pope would be with us longer or more often forgetting that the price tag of frequent or extended papal visits is something we actually cannot afford.  Lest we forget, everyone – not just the government and the Catholic Church - paid for the visit.  Business paid, not just in the form of donations.  Who do you think paid for the four days of additional holidays?  And daily paid workers paid with four days worth of income.  Let’s never forget, please, that daily wage earners in this country do not get paid for days that are not worked. While it can…

Meaningful for all

My January 18, 2015 column.
There are many insights and lessons that could be drawn from the collective journey of reflection and spirituality that Filipino people embarked on in the last few days since Pope Francis descended into the country.  But unlike the President, I will wait for the right time to offer my two cents’ worth.  In the meantime, I think it is important to try to help in whatever way we can to make the next two days – today and tomorrow – as orderly as we all possibly can. I continue to believe that Filipinos along the route of the various papal motorcades and those present in the papal events behaved well because of three reasons.  First, because people knew exactly where they were supposed to go and how they were expected to behave.   Media outlets were saturated with maps, advisories, notices, etc., - an app was even developed for the purpose and made available for free to everyone.   It always helps if an effective communication program is in place. Second, the s…

I am Carlos

My January 13, 2015 column.



“Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) became a popular slogan and meme in the last few days as people around the world expressed solidarity with the 12 people who were murdered in an apparent terrorist attack on the Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo.  The slogan was meant to highlight the fact that intolerance knows no reason and has no place in the world.  By saying “I am Charlie,” people appealed for an end to intolerance, in effect, asserting that we can all become victims like the 12 people. Of course a subsequent “I am not Charlie” meme also appeared in Twitter although it didn’t become viral.  From what I understand, those behind the meme also condemned the killing, but took exception to the way the magazine Charlie Hebdo ridiculed organized religion.  The magazine was notorious for provoking, even inciting extreme reactions, by publishing satirical cartoons that mocked organized religion and revered icons.  By saying “I am not Charlie” some people are saying i…

Higher expectations

My January 11, 2015 column. Our authorities and some pundits have been crowing about how the annual celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene held last Friday was supposed to be a dry run for the impending visit of Pope Francis to the country this week.  It’s either of two things.  One, our authorities and these pundits are clueless about what really goes on during the translacion of the image of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, to the streets of Manila and Quiapo, before finally ending up at Quiapo Church. Or two, our authorities are preparing to do either nothing, or to go overboard in terms of the preparation for the visit of the leader of the Catholic church.  I have been attending the annual translacion of the Black Nazarene for the last eight years so I can say this with some degree of confidence:  There is very little direct intervention done by authorities during the annual translacion aside from setting barriers and perimeter fences, providing se…

More for others in 2015?

My January 6, 2015 column.


A new year is always an opportune time for reflection and, hopefully, formulation of some actionable plans designed to improve the way things are —if not in the world, then at least within our own spheres of influence.  There are people who smirk at the whole process.  Thanks to consumerism, this whole process of making new year’s resolutions have become an annual exercise in wishful thinking, mostly about achieving some personal goals designed to meet other people’s approval.  I know quite a number of people whose annual list revolve around losing weight, being healthier, looking better, and getting richer.  These are not necessarily awful resolutions, of course.  But if we really come to think about it, the aforementioned may be considered requisites for anyone who intends to live comfortably even upon reaching senior citizenship.  So perhaps the whole process can be expanded beyond personal needs and goals. Perhaps, we can make the whole process more mean…

Funny and delightful

My January 4, 2015 column. We finally got to watch English Only, Please - the movie adjudged as second best picture in the still ongoing 40th Metro Manila Film Festival.  We have made it a point to watch the top three movies in the MMFF in the last five years mainly to support the producers and artists who dare go up against the so-called MMFF franchise movies, also known as the brainless and idiotic drivel that the more established local movie producers have conditioned Filipinos to think as holiday movie fare. It was heartwarming to note that the theater was quite full which belies the claim being trundled out that there is no audience for good movies during the holiday season.  From what I gathered from friends and from social networking sites, Bonifacio, English Only, and Kubot were finally drawing people in after they were declared by the jurors as the top three movies that were worth watching in the MMFF. So did I think that English Only, Please deserves the awards it garnered? …