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Showing posts from March, 2015

Shouldn't bishops also speak with compassion?

My March 31, 2015 column. As expected, our bishops have come up with a strongly-worded position paper against divorce on account of moves to push a bill in Congress that seeks to legalize divorce in the Philippines.  The bishops knew that the bill was dead on arrival at the committees, but they just had to assert themselves -  perhaps because they really wanted to send a strong warning.   No one in his right mind expected the divorce bill to actually get through Congress, particularly on the eve of a crucial national elections.  The  legislators who are championing divorce can huff and puff all they want, but let’s get real - most of them are scared of the Catholic bishops.  Sure, there is no such thing as a Catholic vote in this country, but our bishops and the catholic organizations know how to play hard ball.  When push comes to shove, such as when congressmen and senators become the object of relentless demonization at the pulpit, how many of them can do a Duterte - that is, take …

Meaningful holy week

My March 29, 2015 column. Today is Palm Sunday, which announces the start of Holy Week, supposedly the most solemn week in the Catholic calendar.  When I was a child, this time of the year meant total deprivation from most of my favorite things and activities as a form of sacrifice.  I still like to think that most Filipinos do try to still find deeper meaning in the observance of the Semana Santa even if most of us, particularly the younger set, do see it as opportune time to hie off to some vacation place, and to party like there’s no tomorrow.  It is a matter of public record that the Holy Week is the top peak season for vacation spots such such as Baguio, Puerta Galera and Boracay. I’ve always made it a point to spend the week in the national capital after experiencing in the early nineties what I thought were the most excruciating 16 hours of my life crammed into a highway along with 20 million others all trying to get to some destination up north.  The whole ordeal reminded me o…

It's about the fit

My March 24, 2015 column. Any astute observer of political events in this country will tell you that the recent  activities of Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr are  attempts to test public reception to a potential presidential bid.  What they are doing is “floating” their names as possible presidentiables; in short, announcing their interest in being shortlisted for the highest post in the land.  Duterte has embarked on what he calls “listening tour” - doing the rounds of key cities in Mindanao and the Visayas, purportedly to discuss federalism.  Marcos has been unsuccessfully trying to package himself as a thought leader in various critical national issues.   Senators Antonio Trillanes and Alan Peter Cayetano have been  preening like peacocks in heat and howling like monkeys engaged in a territorial squabble.  Of course we’ve already known that Vice President Jejomar Binay and local governments secretary Mar Roxas are already out there in the starting line,…

Aesthetically challenged

My March 22, 2015 column. We know there is no accounting for taste, but one wishes our leaders would try to get good advice from people who know better. This is particularly important when it comes to public structures and fixtures that are expected to be there for a long time and are seen by many everyday.  I am tempted to also include the recent trend at Malacanan Palace and in other venues, which involves putting up some tacky backdrop during official state functions, but I guess we can ignore those installations of plastic doves and bahay kubo since they are mercifully put up for just one-time events. Those of us who had to pass by Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City everyday of our lives had to contend with those hideous marshmallows-on-sticks street lamps for many years until most of them finally and thankfully gave way to the elements.  Unfortunately, many of the red and white streetlamps in Manila along Quirino Avenue are still there even if most of them have degenerated into eyesor…

Forked tongues and temporary amnesia

My March 17, 2015 column. The President’s men, referred to as minions by some quarters, have been scrambling all over themselves to regain the upper hand in the ongoing public relations nightmare that the Aquino government has found itself mired in.  Unfortunately, there’s really not much anyone can do to prop up the image of someone seemingly determined to continuously shoot himself in the foot.  So it must be frustrating for Mar Roxas, Leila de Lima, Sonny Coloma, Edwin Lacierda and company trying to keep a straight face and maintain their convictions in an effort to defend the indefensible and correct the “unrightable”. We find the efforts pitiful but also sometimes hilarious.  Roxas and Coloma tried last week to redirect the focus of the Board of Inquiry report on the Mamasapano incident. What was surreal was the way they crowed about parts of the report that nailed down SAF Director Leo Napenas, but turned critical and disparaging on the parts where the BOI cited the President’s …

Health is still the best wealth

My March 15, 2015 column.

A good friend of mine recently suffered a heart attack.  Fortunately for him, he did not ignore the symptoms – heaviness in the chest area, pain that vibrated through his left arm – as most reportedly do.  When he felt the pain, he took a cab and brought himself to the emergency room of a nearby hospital where he promptly announced with understandable urgency “I am having a heart attack, please attend to me now.”   The ER doctors slapped an electrocardiogram machine into his body, which automatically confirmed my friend’s suspicions – the lines in the graph were more erratic than a rabbit in heat hopping around like crazy. He was rushed into a special room where they performed an emergency angioplasty on him, barely an hour since he arrived in the hospital.  He has since then made it his mission to explain heart disease, at least initially to friends.  
Up until my friend’s heart attack, I didn’t know angioplasty could be performed at a moment’s notice.  Appar…

Beyond high heels

My March 10, 2015 column. To express solidarity with women, a number of men walked in high heels last Friday, March 6, in various parades held in the cities of Quezon, Cebu, Davao and in La Trinidad, Benguet.  This was the second year that the activity called “In Her Shoes” was held in this country (similar campaigns have been held in other countries), but the presence of actor Dingdong Dantes this year provided publicity mileage;  most media networks picked the story and the picture of Dantes and his group of men walking precariously on high heels became viral over the weekend.  Sadly, celebrity is a double-edged sword.  On one hand, Dantes called attention to what could have been a ho-humm event.  On the other hand, the focus became Dantes and his high heels rather than the cause.   But if the success of this year’s parade is any indication, we can already see what succeeding parades will look like—more actors and politicians lending their celebrity status to the campaign.  It will …

What matters more

My March 8, 2015 column. The results of a study conducted by King’s College in London, which were released last week, raised quite a number of interesting reactions.  There were those who snipped at the study itself, wondering what the whole fuss was about.  There were those who were genuinely surprised at the results of the study while quite a number picked on the methodology used and, consequently, the integrity of the overall findings.  As can be expected when people discuss sexual issues and private parts, there was much snickering, chortling and giggling.  One could almost see people giving each other high fives, or blushing, or raising eyebrows. The study was supposed to be a definitive dissertation on penile size.  The researchers measured 15,000 men who volunteered for the study.  The scientific rationale for the study was about using “graphs to examine discrepancy between what a man believes to be their position on the graph and their actual position” and to “benefit men with…

Still not getting it right

My March 3, 2015 column.


There’s good news and there’s bad news for the victims of supertyphoon Yolanda, particularly those who have still been unable to rebuild their homes, or at least put together some semblance of a shelter for their families after the howling winds and the storm surge destroyed everything on that fateful morning of November 8, 2013.   The good news is that 15 months after the supertyphoon wrecked havoc and devastation across the Visayas, government is finally releasing direct financial assistance to victims under the Emergency Shelter Assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.  The total amount that government is now willing to give to the victims of the supertyphoon is a staggering amount that reaches tens of billions of pesos.  The amount released recently just for Western Visayas reached P1.5 billion pesos.  Based on media reports, families whose houses were totally wiped out, destroyed, or leveled to the ground, would receive a low of P30…

Learning from a mistake

My March 1, 2015 column.


There was not much of a people’s celebration last Wednesday when the country commemorated the 29th anniversary of the people power uprising.  People were not in the mood to sing the anthems about freedom and unity and love of country that used to bind us together as a people.  There was no yellow confetti that rained from windows of buildings, no yellow ribbons tied around trees, and hardly anyone among the key figures in the first people power revolt showed up.     There was instead lots of cursing and gnashing of teeth from ordinary people who were greatly inconvenienced by the monstrous traffic jam created by the celebration.  I don’t think the traffic jam last Wednesday was really the problem; we’ve put up with far worse traffic jams in the past.  People just didn’t like the idea of expressing solidarity with Benigno S. Aquino III on anything at this point- even on something as momentous and significant as the commemoration of the people power revolution.  …