Showing posts from June, 2015

Love, first

My June 30, 2015 column.

One of the most telling consequence of recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States giving same-sex couples the right to marry was that one got to know the stuff one’s friends and acquaintances were truly made of.  Reading various commentaries in social networking sites over the weekend on the issue was an educational and informative task, although also quite amusing and agitating in many instances.  Although there were a number of really heartwarming and enlightening messages from people, including priests, political and religious leaders, still the question that was top of mind over the weekend was: How can some people be capable of so much hatred in their hearts?   There were those who openly applauded the decision and immediately turned their profile pictures in Facebook into a mosaic of rainbow colors, thanks to an app that made it possible.  I was one of those who did this.  But then, expectedly, there were those who expressed disappointment, …

No excuse for bigotry

My June 28, 2015 column.  

After the death of transgendered woman Jennifer Laude last year,
one would expect that most people would have acquired
some understanding of, or more empathy toward the issues
of transgenders and other sexual minorities in this country.
If we are to go by the way clubs such as Valkyrie—
which happens to be partly owned by one of the most
famous cross-dressers in the country, celebrity Vice Ganda—
continue to discriminate against transgenders, we can say
that very little has changed. Prejudice, discrimination,
and bigotry still exist, particularly those directed at
sexual minorities. This is sad, very sad, because
we do have pretensions about being a country
of tolerant, nurturing, caring people. The separate incidents at Valkyrie where bouncers
of the club barred designer Veejay Floresca and
gay beauty queen Trixie Maristela from entering the bar,
allegedly because of the club’s dress code policies,
were discriminatory. The club has tried to contain the

The man who was just there

My June 23, 2015 column.

Last Sunday was Fathers’ Day and it seemed everyone used the occasion to get sentimental and mushy about fathers, which was not necessarily a bad thing.   I think this world would be a much better place if everyone learned to be grateful and appreciative of the people who contribute to our respective growth.  I wrote a piece about my dad in 2008, seven years ago.  I decided to resurrect it last Sunday and was pleasantly surprised to find that it resonated with so many out there.  Some friends asked me to share it in this space, which I am doing today; abridged, though, for considerations of space.  The person referred to is my stepfather, who for all intents and purposes, was and is, my father.    I grew up in the care of my grandmother and an aunt so my interactions with Tatay were limited to a few perfunctory gestures during official family functions and occasions.  So Tatay was simply the stereotyped “man of few words” who lurked in the shadows of my childh…

Spoilers don't have to ruin the experience

My June 21, 2015 column.

The season-ender of the fifth season of the HBO series Game of Thrones stayed true to what has now become a tradition in the ardently-followed show: It was brutally tragic, utterly heartbreaking, and, as far as many were concerned, totally unexpected. (Those who have read the books, however, already had an inkling of what was going to happen. Although the TV series has taken so many liberties with the material and has strayed away many times from the storyline, the people behind the show have been talking about yielding to pressure to return to the original work of author George RR Martin.) But that season-ender will also be remembered for the many “relationships” that got severed, at least in social networking sites. I personally came across so many angry warnings, threats, and heated arguments over spoilers about how the season will end. Because the season-ender was shown ahead in the United States and Britain, there were people who have already seen it befo…

Let's start talking issues

My June 16, 2015 column.

Former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially launched her bid for the highest post in the United States of America over the weekend with a rally and a speech that clearly outlined what a second Clinton presidency would be about. She presented her vision and defined her major advocacies.  But more importantly, she put herself out there, presenting herself unequivocally as the person America should vote as its first woman (and grandmother) President.  In so doing, she defined herself and what she stands for rather than allowed others to do it for her.  One wishes the people in this country who want to be president would learn a thing or two about leadership, purpose, and forthrightness from the woman because it really is time to talk about the important issues in this country. Of course there are people who are turned off by the seeming aggressiveness; in fact, that has always been one of the criticisms directed at Clinton – that …

A series of embarrassing incidents

My June 14, 2015 column. It’s a bit disconcerting that our participation in this year’s 28th Southeast Asian Games, which is being held in Singapore until Tuesday, is being highlighted by a series of embarrassing developments. Of course the fact that we are trailing behind Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia in the overall medal tally is already very embarrassing as it is. Yes, I was already old enough to remember a time when we ruled many athletic competitions in the region, when the country had a genuine sports development program, and when athletes playing with the national team were the recipients of respect and adulation.  But there are other sources of embarrassment. There was that rather unfortunate gaffe about the uniforms of our athletes displaying an inverted Philippine flag. The stunning victories of Filipino athletes Eric Cray and Kayla Richardson in the 100-meter sprint were somehow dented by the fact that they were wearing inverted Philippine flags on th…

Missing the point

My June 9, 2015 column.

Equal employment opportunity is a great and noble concept.  In our heart of hearts, we all want to champion fairness.  The truth, however, is that such a concept is difficult to implement in the Philippines.  The reasons are many and it is sad that our legislators seem to think that it’s only so because industry practices discrimination.     Thus, Senator Pia Cayetano and company have been intermittently crowing about the need to pass the proposed Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 2013.  Some officials at the local level have bought Cayetano’s advocacy and have started filing resolutions in various city councils urging others to support the bill which seeks to penalize an employer, labor contractor or labor organization for discrimination against any person because of age.  There’s also an online petition that is gaining ground; last I looked, it had more than 5,000 signatories. The proponents of the measure cite job notices and advertisements that s…

Ties that bind

My June 7, 2015 column. I was asked to come home to our hometown in Leyte last month as keynote speaker of the annual alumni homecoming of my high school. My classmates and I did gather to celebrate our 20th anniversary some years back, but I have never attended the grand homecoming event of the whole school so I thought it was a good time as any to come home and experience what many have sworn as an occasion worth coming back to annually.  I think many will agree with me that high school was when the happiest times of our lives happened. I spent mine at a school called the Abuyog Academy, which was some kind of a family tradition. My mother and her siblings, and my siblings and my cousins all went there and so did the siblings and cousins of one’s classmates. The school didn’t have state-of-the-art facilities but what it lacked in physical resources, it more than made up for with good old-fashioned character building. We cleaned classrooms for homeroom sessions, attended carpentry and…

Paano naman kami?

My June 2, 2015 column. If anyone noticed, there was less of the screeching and caterwauling that used to characterize the start of the school year yesterday when classes started.  We didn’t see the usual parade of irate parents, harassed teachers, and beleaguered administrators reciting the litany of miseries associated with the Philippine public educational system.  I would like to think this was because we have finally been able to address (to some extent) the many shortcomings in our system.
In addition to the structural programs that have been put in place, I know for a fact that the relative ease in which we met the start of classes yesterday was partly due to Brigada Iskwela. Brigada Iskwela is a collaborative effort among various stakeholders – teachers, local and barangay officials, parents, and various private organizations – to ensure overall readiness of our public schools.  The Brigada project highlights the power that can be had if everyone pitches in and realizes that e…