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Showing posts from May, 2015

Meloto's social blunder

My May 31, 2015 column. I like Tony Meloto.  My admiration for the guy is notwithstanding the fact that I disagree with many of the ultraconservative advocacies of the religious organization that he leads. However, I have always believed that it is always possible to find something that we can admire or respect even among those we lock horns with on spiritual, political, or other concerns. Thus, I was also deeply saddened by the fact that Meloto is in the eye of a controversy for allegedly being “sexist,” “elitist,” and having a “colonial mentality.” The criticisms were made by officials of the University of Hawaii Center for Philippine Studies who invited Meloto to speak at their 40th founding anniversary in April.
According to various reports, Meloto expressed in his speech his belief that “the greatest asset of the Philippines is our beautiful women” and that the “future of the nation can be advanced by using them to attract the best and the brightest men from the West and enticing…

Slim pickings

My May 26, 2015 column.


Who is your bet for the presidency in 2016? I have been asked this question quite a number of times in the last few weeks and my reaction has been the same – I don’t know yet;  it depends on who is running.   It’s a copout response, though.  The truth is that no one from among those who have signified their intent to run for president, or who have communicated their willingness or desire to be considered as candidate, has caught my interest.  To be honest, there have been many occasions in the last few months when I felt like putting my hands up in the air in exasperation.  Seriously, folks, isn’t there anyone else more deserving of our trust and confidence that can lead this country forward? I know.  There are people that seem perfect for the role – the likes of Gibo Teodoro and Tony Meloto and even Serge Osmena - but they do not seem interested in becoming president, and I cannot blame them.  Becoming president of this country is like setting one’s self up for …

Work in progress

My May 24, 2015 column.
I know that some people might find this an exercise in nitpicking, but I still want to ask: Is it really imperative that the public works being done all over the country be done all at the same time now? Put another way, why couldn’t these be spread out over a period of say, four years, beginning in 2013? 
I ask this because the area where I live has suddenly become one giant construction site. Our house is now bordered by all kinds of public works activities. The road fronting our house has been closed off to give way to improvements being done on a major canal – they’ve destroyed the concrete dikes and are building taller ones, which the contractors said will now be covered so that people can no longer throw their garbage into the canal. It’s a great idea. Sadly, the contractors do not seem to be in a rush and worse, do not seem to be familiar with doing work in “phases.” Thus, the whole stretch of road from end to end had been closed off even if construction…

Loose change

My May 17, 2015 column. We were in Tagaytay the other weekend and on our way back we got momentarily confused at the toll gates of South Superhighway because all the gates were labelled “Exact Toll.” We thought all lanes had been turned into “Exact Toll Only” so we rummaged around the car and in our bags to come up with the exact amount.   It turns out the signs basically asked people to pay the exact toll in each of the gates, an appeal that made perfect sense because people can really prepare in advance and in the process reduce both queuing and travel time. This is particularly relevant for people who use the expressway every day – instead of whining about how the long queues invariably make travel time longer, they can prepare in advance the exact money for their toll, the amount of which they already know anyway. I am told the “request” was triggered by the observation that queuing time in our expressways is significantly reduced when more people pay the exact toll and by the fac…

Garin's blanket assurance

My May 12, 2015 column.


“DOH ang bahala sa inyo” (DOH will take responsibility for you), says Health Secretary Janette Garin in the television advertisements that aim to generate public awareness about the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and consequently, submitting to HIV testing.  The DOH is organizing free HIV testing in various centers nationwide next week in an effort to encourage people to get tested for HIV.  The DOH purportedly wants to have a more accurate picture of the real state of HIV infections in the country – supposedly so they can manage better. There’s a part of me that is somehow heartened by the fact that a health secretary has once again broke the surface to talk about the HIV/AIDS situation in the country.  Media have been raising the alarm button for the longest time now and many organizations have been frantically trying to get government to be a little more proactive and decisive in addressing the runaway cases of HIV infections in the country, to no av…

Manifestations of hate

My May 10, 2015 column.

Racism, bigotry, and the other behavioral manifestations of hate and immaturity had most of us bothered, confused, and confounded in the last few days. 

I am sure many parents who are serious about helping their kids grow up to become better people had a difficult time trying to explain the uproar over the seeming bigoted or racist comments spewed by a Thai national on a social media account, and then by the prejudiced attacks by many Filipinos, including celebrities, directed at Floyd Mayweather in the aftermath of that heartbreaking and infuriating result of the supposed Fight of the Century. To make matters worse, when Philippine authorities did try to do what they thought was right or necessary by deporting the Thai national and showing pictures of the guy in handcuffs at the airport, there was also a corresponding uproar, with many Filipinos calling to task the Philippine government for what they thought was a disproportionate reaction.  Let’s first talk ab…

Victimized many times over

My May 5, 2015 column. Barely a week ago, the whole country was united as Filipinos across demographic profiles—young and old, pro- or anti-administration—prayed that overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso be saved from imminent death by firing squad in Indonesia.  Veloso was given reprieve at the eleventh hour by the Indonesian government.  What was expected to be an occasion for joyous celebration and thanksgiving however degenerated into a bitter exchange of recriminations.  In what can only be described as very ugly turn of events, it soon seemed as if many people regretted having rushed to the aid of Veloso.  There were those who openly castigated Veloso and her family calling them “ingrates,” among other unsavory names.  Even more shocking, there were those who actually expressed their desire to see Veloso hanged, along with her mother.  How did we all find ourselves in the gutter in so short a time? What triggered the outrage were the rather intemperate words of Celia Veloso…

Sleeping Saint Joseph

My May 3, 2015 column. A dear friend gifted me with an image of a sleeping Saint Joseph recently. She was quite pleased with her present because she said she had difficulty sourcing the image—apparently, it’s one of the most in demand religious images in the country today, thanks to Pope Francis who provided a moving testimony during his visit last January on the supposed ability of the image to grant wishes. According to dear Lolo Kiko, whenever he found himself in a fix, he would write whatever was troubling him on a piece of paper and slip it under the image of the sleeping saint for the saint to “dream” about.  I thanked my friend profusely for her thoughtfulness. What I didn’t have the heart to tell her was that I actually already have three other sleeping Saint Josephs all given to me last month during my birthday. I truly and deeply appreciated each of the four images given to me; they occupy special places in our house and in my office. I must admit, though, that I did wonder …