Thursday, August 27, 2009

Literary # 4

Lights blinking.
Alarms resonating.
Engine pumping life to itself.

To where I sit I can see the one I set:

21 July 2009 20:00

Anticipation rushed like blood.

I pressed the red button.


It failed me.

And in the silence after,
I found myself alone with my time machine.

GMT +8 Manila, Philippines

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pilipinas 2010: A Case of Amnesia

The penchant of Filipinos to teleseryes seems to efface the boundary that separates reality from that of a whim of a scriptwriter. Though the term is evolving (i.e. from soap opera to telenovela to fantaserye etc.), the recurring themes of these primetime melodramas remain unchanged: wealth gap of characters; goons, guns and gold; children separated from parents; and the most common of all, amnesia. I know most of us are drawn to real-life dramas we see on the boob tube; it is bad enough for this country to have a seemingly ill-defined difference between show business and politics. But to succumb to another amnesia? We might as well pledge allegiance to another country!

We must not forget what happened in the past, especially those that just happened in very recent history. No one is barred from running for president as long as he/she meets the constitutional requirement --

ARTICLE VII Section 2. No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.

-- unless he/she is an ex-impeached official. We had the country's first impeachment trial on a president but it was not concluded. The former president was not impeached, he was overthrown. What happened in the early days of 2001 is a political coup. So technically (plus the fact that he was pardoned; restoring civil and political rights), Joseph Ejercito Estrada can run for president in the coming election. Well after saying that he is 99.9 percent sure of seeking (again) the highest office in the land, I bet there will be a lot who will challenge this with the High Court. If ever there will be a ruling by the Supreme Court on the issue of either an ex-president who haven't finished his term (remember, technically he is not impeached) or an ex-president running again for the same position after the term of his successor, this will definitely be a landmark case. What ever the ruling be, this will resolve the ambiguity of the 1987 Constitution on the provision on presidential term; this can also answer whether GMA is allowed to run for Congress after her term as president. No one had ever done this in post-EDSA years -- Tita Cory and FVR retired to private life, albeit politically influential -- so it hasn't been really looked into as it will be in the coming days.

But let us leave all these technicalities to those who are legally equipped. The question now is if the Filipino people still suffers from amnesia. I didn't join the so-called EDSA II because it was not as noble as that of its predecessor; I believe it was done out of impulse and out of drama by that walkout of the prosecution team in the Senate eight years ago. Don't get me wrong, I didn't and will never like Erap. It's just that we could have just followed what was constitutionally right. It was just a brown envelope! Years later it was opened. Lo and behold, nothing inside. If they could have just continued on with the trial. If they could have just waited for the final verdict. If they could have just stopped watching teleseryes. I chose to just sleep in the dorm after the school announced "no classes" that time. I reckon it was a slap on democracy's face. I'm sorry to those who believe in the spirit of EDSA II but this is just my opinion. And I can say I made the right choice: we have GMA as our president instead and now, Erap is running again with a vengeful heart for sure! To those who made api to our bida, "pupulutin kayo sa kangkungan!" Hahahaha! (sounding like a kontrabida on a horse, wearing black boots matching a wide ranchero hat with a whip stick clutched by the hand) I'm sure Charo Santos-Concio and Wilma Galvante will scramble for this teleserye material.

I just hope people who watch us don't turn the TV off.

Unless we revise the script on the 2010 election.


Note that EDSA II, in my opinion, is the EDSA of Imperial Manila. So Erap still has a high chance of winning because those present in EDSA II were not his voters in the first place. However, in the 1998 presidential elections, he only got thirty percent (30%) of the votes. Seventy percent (70%) became fragmented to remaining candidates. If only we could rally on "one" president. I believe this 70% comprise the thinking public; not that I'm saying that the 30% are inutile, they can still be informed of the real facts. So go blog. Discuss with friends. Volunteer to voters' education campaign. In any way we can help is a start. Nine months to go!

GMT +8 Manila, Philippines

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pilipinas 2010: An Introduction

Where are the youth who will consecrate their golden hours,
their illusions, and their enthusiasm to the welfare of their native land?
Where are you, youth, who will embody in yourselves the vigor of life
that has left our veins, the purity of ideas that has been contaminated
in our brains, the fire of enthusiasm that has been quenched in our hearts?
We wait you, o youth! Come, for we await you!

-- Padre Florentino, El Filibusterismo by Dr. Jose P. Rizal

Ako ang simula.

I am the beginning.

This ABS-CBN campaign geared towards the 2010 elections is apt in this time of uncertainty and cynical Filipinos. Not that I personally advocate the campaign itself, but the "phrase" is just the perfect rallying cry to ignite a revolution and I don't think anyone will be sued for copyright infringement by using this on his/her blog.

Yes, a revolution. The word seems to be too strong and too harsh -- seems like I'm insinuating a political coup -- yet one might only think this way because one might be more like Simoun than like Ibarra. More like Simoun because he is the personification of vengeful Filipinos; tired of the current system and yielded to the only way they think is possible to exact change: remember in El Filibusterismo when Simoun tried to blow up Kapitan Tiago's former residence with all the government officials, friars and the rest of the upper-class inside during the wedding of Paulita? I bet there are lots of Filipinos (including me!) who, even once in their lives (many times for me..), out of desperation, thought of blowing up Batasang Pambansa complex during one of the State of the Nation Addresses. Imagine the fireworks. Imagine a total restart of our seemingly hopeless government. It is the start, I would say. But it would not, says my conscience. Because in order to reboot this country, we might need to ask Obama to lend us one of their Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles and to zero in the heart of the archipelago because it was not only the upper-class who were present in that wedding party, we all were. And I'm sure it is what Rizal really wanted to say for in the course of his novel, he didn't let Simoun succeed; the explosion was prevented when Isagani throw himself in the river together with the lamp which was the detonator. Ironically, Simoun is really Ibarra; once an idealistic man who dreamt of change through diplomacy and education. No bombs. No explosions. Just a pure desire for change. And that is the real start of a genuine revolution.

I might need to stop whining.
I might need to stop being cynical.
I might need to stop thinking that the next elections will be futile.
I need to cease being Simoun.

My vote counts, and the votes of the many Ibarras out there.


And this will be the start of a series of blog entries relating to the 2010 Presidential Elections: analyses of current events, profile study of presidentiables and other candidates etc. It is never too late and the result of this election can change the face of the Philippines after 2010, and beyond.

As a start, let me re-post a link to an Inquirer article on presidentiable Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II:

Honestly, I started to dislike him. No thanks to his PR team who made him do the "pedicab" stint. I know melodramas can be a hit to a typical Filipino household, but to make it a background of a politcal ad (premature it may seem) leaves a bad taste in the mouth. At least Villar banks on the upbeat nature of the current generation. Though a typical "trapo" (i.e. TRAditional POlitics) ad, I can still hum to the beat of his jingle minus my vote. Not to mention the Mar-Korina love affair and the much talked about "wedding of the year", though it would be unfair of me to judge this delicate matter of the heart so I leave that to destiny. But I digress; back to the article.

He was invited in a "town hall" meeting with businessmen, professionals and the likes, and he shared his opinions on some pertinent issues of the country. To summarize:

1. Charter Change is not a requirement to improve economy; what we need is for foreign investors to do business without having to deal with harassment, coercion or corruption, not to own lands. (Clap! Clap!)

2. Transparency in Cabinet officials bank accounts. (Same song, same lyrics.)

3. Extra school year; from 10 years to, maybe, 12 years in elementary and secondary education. (I disagree.)

4. The country’s service-dominated economy was not healthy; focus on manufacturing and especially agriculture. (That's what I'm talking about! I hope he meant what he said.)

Read the entirety of the article. After what I read, I might consider Mar Roxas in my list. I just hope there will be a lot of venues where candidates can properly present themselves as if a job interview and the entire Filipino people as a panel interviewer.

GMT +8 Manila, Philippines

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Literary # 3

Sana May Bagong Brasil...

Kung saan musika ang hangin mula sa dagat;
Kung saan ang buhangin ang nagbibigay-lapat;
Kung saan ang araw ay sadyang muling sisikat;
Kung saan ang pangarap ay unti-unting iaangat.

Kung saan kami'y magkakasama,
Busog sa mga kwento at tawa;
Magpakalunod sa kape, 'di nagsasawa
Dahil alam naming dito kami ay isa.

Ang Brasil ay isa nang masayang kahapon,
Alam kong maaaring 'di na magkaroon;
Ngunit may plano ang Dakilang Poon,
Nawa'y sa panalangin Siya'y sumang-ayon.

At sa muling paglipad papalayo sa tinubuan,
Dala ko ang pag-asa't iiwan ang kasawian.
Bibilang man ng taon, lilipas man ang walang-hanggan,
Alam ko, sa bagong Brasil, bagong AKO'y magkakalaman.

Layon ko ma'y lumayo,
Nais ko ma'y um-eskapo,
Mga Brasileira't Brasileiro:
Você gostar dele também, não?


GMT +8 Manila, Philippines

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Please Listen To What I Am Not Saying

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, I wear a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the weather's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one.

But don't believe me. Please.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that's really nothing,
and nothing of what's everything,
of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
what I'd like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can't say.

I don't like hiding.
I don't like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me.

But you've got to help me.

This was a literary piece assigned to me during my
High School (HS) Sophomore English Class.
We were asked to make a cassette tape recording of ourselves reading this
in such a way that our teacher can feel our emotion and,
in a way, our personal interpretation of the poem.
Also, this was read to us during one of our Recollection activities back in HS;
being a Catholic school, that is.

There has been numerous versions over the internet and other media,
and that the author seems to be unknown.
Though a site credits the latter to a certain Charles C. Finn
whose name appears to be un-Wikipedia-ble.

GMT +8 Manila, Philippines

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Bought An Umbrella Today

I haven't slept the night before. I don't know if it was my head or my chest that was going to burst. I just know that it was my longest night ever.

I came to work late. If it was the weeks before when overnight activities were like eternity, going to work at almost midday would be acceptable. But this week is like the "calm before the storm" of my current project. Less pressure. Sleep is like gold free for all. I have all the reason to be at my desk at 9AM, but at almost 12NN I was like a lifeless piece of organic slab dragged to a place it doesn't want to be at that moment. Luckily, no urgent tasks for the day and the said professional boo-boo went unnoticed.

Exhausted by an unlikely combination of a seemingly insignificant stint on MS Excel and of a burden from a sleepless night, I walked out of the office; out of the building; out to nowhere. I kept walking oblivious from everything and everyone I passed by. Maybe this is one of the advantages when working in a very familiar place (say, home country); going from one place to another is already part of the body reflex. My feet seemed to have their own consciousness that time while my own waking self wandered as if dreaming.

And then I stopped.

Suddenly I felt lost. From a well-defined route of the bridgeway came the familar confusion of a department store. People coming from everywhere. Salesladies crossing everyone's path. Shoppers stopping on every stand to check out stuffs and prices. Though asking the exact reason why I found myself in a shopping mall, I continued on with my wandering desperate to free my mind from the things that bother.

And then I stopped. Again.

An array of umbrella displays caught my attention. The usual saleslady routine greeted me. Five minutes and I found myself carrying a three-hundred-peso black Grosser Schatten full-sized umbrella. I don't know what's with the umbrella aside from it is German and it is the new Fibrella, as per the courteous saleslady. I don't know why I bought it in the first place when I still have my two-year-old Baclaran-bought folding black umbrella stuffed in my backpack. It was all spontaneous. It was unplanned.

It didn't rain today though. I may have taken a wrong move buying this umbrella. But then, I remembered the other day when I cursed my old folding umbrella for failing to shield me from a heavy late-night downpour. Maybe it is time to buy a new one; a bigger and sturdy one. Impulsive it may seem but later realisations affirm my earlier action. Today might be the "calm before the storm" but this umbrella will surely be a dependable partner when another Milenyo hits the Metro.

Maybe that's what I need, being more spontaneous in my life. I can be spontaneous on things that doesn't involved long-term result that could alter the course of my life. A bus ride to Rio. Overnight videoke. A roadtrip up North. An Indochine backpacking. A new umbrella. But I tend to be a master planner when talking about what I will be ten years from now. I think to much. I plan too much. I risk so little. That is why a plan that doesn't go as planned strikes straight to the heart. Nothing prepares me from this.

At least I'm sure I will not get wet tomorrow when it rains.

GMT +8 Manila, Philippines

Friday, August 7, 2009

Children of Democracy, Let Your Voices Be Heard!

Go out and register for the May 10, 2010
national and presidential election now!

For those who will be 18 years old and above during the same date, you are constitutionally eligible to participate in the most important right as a free Filipino. This is not only a privilege but a responsibility.

COMELEC has already gone out of its way to entice voters to register by establishing sattelite offices in schools, village halls, and other public facilities. Dapat silang i-clap clap!

For those who think that they are already registered, you can verify your status through COMELEC website:

Go to Continuing Registration.

Then to Registration Verification.

And finally, fill up your personal information.


You should be getting the same result.
If not, go to your nearest COMELEC office and personally verify.

Note that a registered voter should have a biometric voter's ID like the one below. I'm not sure if your ID having no hologram watermark makes it invalid, but it should essentially have your photograph, signature and thumbmark. Moreover, if you received it just in time for the 2004 election, it is definitely a valid biometric ID. However, if you still don't have it but your registration has been verified through their website, maybe you have to wait for it.

Biometric Voter's ID (

Or maybe verify the status of the ID by sending e-mail to with the following information:

  • full voter's name (first name, middle name, last name)
  • date of birth
  • address

Note that this process is crucial since the poll body conducted purging of the old voters' list in order to weed out demised or redundant individuals. They have removed four million names (imagine the possible numbers of "ghost" voters!) in the list. Of that number, only about 400,000 people have asked the COMELEC to include them in the list, as of June. So better check before the deadline on the 31st of October this year!

In the 2007 mid-term elections, there were some 45 million voters but for next year’s local elections, the poll body is aiming to get around three million more voters. []

Shed tears for Tita Cory?

It's our time. Go, be heard and continue to defend democracy.

GMT +8 Manila, Philippines

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Woman Presidents of the Republic of the Philippines

We only have two.

Both defied our traditionally machismo society.

Both ascended into power by way of people's bloodless revolt.

One reluctantly taken the office but morally obliged. The other hoped-for a sudden twist of luck; having readied the inaugural speech way before the office was declared vacant.

One expressed intention of stepping down, and she did. The other announced on national TV she is stepping down but lied.

One re-established democracy in paper through the 1987 Constitution. The other supports the rape of the said charter.

One had been called by the people to take her oath after a massive electoral fraud by her rival. The other taken her oath after calling an election officer to cover up her rigged votes.

One's voice has been trusted and respected even during her private life. The other's words are like poison if swallowed and that a "private life" will be unlikely in her vocabulary.

One, even to her grave, is still a driving force for people to unite. The other, even in a blunder, is a driving force for people to make a joke.

And a joke is one of the very few things that makes Juan dela Cruz sane in these trying times.

No wonder the recent editorial blunder of Manila Bulletin stands out to be funny rather than solicit outrage from the people. And yes, a sinful thought it may be, I can't help but grin.

Sifting through the blogosphere, majority of the reactions to this photo are leaning towards humour; a stark contrast on public indignation towards Willie Revillame's remarks on Tita Cory's cortege last Wednesday. I know as a Christian this is not a good thing to think and to do, but the social weather suggests how the Filipino people perceive the two woman presidents. It seems that the two are at the opposite ends of a very wide spectrum, and I don't need to elaborate which is situated to which end.

Four years ago, another blunder aroused collectors and jokers alike.

Remember this version of our 100-peso bill that was circulated Christmas of 2005 during the height of the controversy of our current president's legitimacy due to accusations of electoral fraud? The running joke back then was that this proves that even our printing machines cry out illegitimacy. What a good way to have an effective flyer!

In the medieval times, women were considered subordinates to men. And as Marcos put it, "just a woman whose place is in the bedroom." Today, women are regarded as men's equal; majority of world societies, if not all. They are no joke. They are a force to be reckoned with.

At least for Filipinos, one woman president to be remembered with.

GMT +8 Manila, Philippines

Monday, August 3, 2009

Witnessing History from the Twentieth Floor

Maybe I was one of those people who, few hours later, got hold of the ill news; having work-related activity that gloomy Saturday early morning. It was not surprising, really. And I know her family shared the same sentiment since it was a losing battle against cancer.

Tita Cory has died.

But only today did this fact actually sinked in to me. I didn't even know that her remains were to be brought from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral around noon today--unfortunately, it was news blackout for the sleep-deprived. I walked from my apartment in J.P. Rizal Street and then traversed Makati Avenue going to work this morning; yellow ribbons on every posts and sills along the way. There are people in yellow shirts. There are security details at every corner of Makati CBD. It was raining. It seemed sad and dejected. I was indifferent.

"It is snowing!", a Malaysian colleague called out while, with other people in the office, peering out of the windows. My initial reaction was comical but upon seeing his matter-of-fact face it seemed that it was indeed snowing: flakes of yellow replaced the dampening rains. And with ABS-CBN's DZMM tuned in from a live streaming on one laptop, it became very clear.

Tita Cory is near. She is coming.

I joined the group leaning on the thick hingeless window; after all, we were at the 20th floor. A sea of yellow crowd greeted me from below. As we were waiting, so were they under the scorching sun. It seemed that the sky was in one with the people; rains on a sudden halt. But still open umbrellas can be seen. The person on the PA system desperately asked them to close all umbrellas to no avail. In this country of skin whiteners, this request will surely fall on deaf ears. But as if by providence, an invisible blanket engulfed the sun and the scorching heat joined the rains at bay waiting for one moment to pass. Umbrellas now closed, and then goosebumps.

She is here.

Her flag-draped casket stopped right in front of her late husband's monument at Ayala Avenue corner Paseo de Roxas. Jim Paredes' Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo can be heard in the air while yellow confetti continued to fall. It was like a warp speed back into history when people eagerly waited for Ninoy. Now, it was the wife-turned-president-turned-icon. I reckon no one in the post-colonial Philippines had received this kind of accolade and reverence from the people aside from Magsaysay and the Aquino couple.

Tita Cory has been called Tita Cory from Day One. Not even the highest office in the land changed that; she was never called President Aquino. I reckon it's because the Filipino people relate to her in close kinship rather than a political figure plastered on glossy posters. That's why she is loved. She may not have put the country back to the economic pedestal it used to stand before Marcos' plunder. She may not have resolved insurgency from the South. She may have been unsuccessful in addressing the problems of the previous regime. But still people at that moment in that intersection of the financial district still gave their sincere respect to so many is the greatest president we had. This is because of the one legacy no post-colonial president had ever done: genuine democracy. She served her purpose of restoring democracy and of smooth transition from revolution to republic. She could have just stayed home and, instead, consoled her grief-stricken children orphaned by a father. She chose not just to be their mother but the mother of a restarting nation. Technically that time she could have ruled by decree for she was both executive and legislative but she refused to be like the tyrant she toppled. She convened the first Constitutional Convention that drafted our present Constitution. She ensured that every democratic mechanisms of a new government are in place before stepping down. Her allies enticed her to seek re-election since the newly instituted term-limit provision of the Constitution does not apply to her. But she stepped down all the same and she exited with grace (choosing to go home in a Toyota Crown rather than in the government's Mercedes); not succumbing to lust for power. Come to think of it, she can be dwarfed by the modern infrastructure Marcos had built. But what stand out are the things that can never be seen.

I stood behind that windowpane at the 20th floor seeing the thing that was not there before, and I was not indifferent anymore. I was suddenly overwhelmed. I know this is history and this is one her-story not meant to be just witnessed from afar.

I know I have to go down, take the nearest elevator and be part of the writing of our story.


This was also one of those times that I wished I never had left my DSLR at home. I am meaning to go into photojournalism, and this is one event that can not go without capturing. At least I have my iPhone, my Indian colleague's Canon Powershot SX110 IS and an unobstructed bird's eyeview from the 20th floor.

Ayala Ave. cor. Paseo de Roxas - taken with Canon Powershot SX110 IS; post-processed with Adobe LR2

For the last time, people are drawn to your charisma;

Ayala Ave. cor. Paseo de Roxas - taken with iPhone 3G; post-processed with Adobe LR2

seas of yellow carried you to final rest.

people's reflection on one of the glass windows of Enterprise Bldg. - taken with Canon Powershot SX110 IS; post-processed with Adobe LR2

Vox populi,

glass windows of Enterprise Bldg. - taken with Canon Powershot SX110 IS; post-processed with Adobe LR2

democracy reflected and defended.

the people and the flag-draped casket of the former president - taken with Canon Powershot SX110 IS; post-processed with Adobe LR2

With you standing up as our leader.

the people, the icons and democracy - taken with Canon Powershot SX110 IS; post-processed with Adobe LR2

He said, the Filipinos are worth dying for.
You said, we are worth living for.
Now, both of you are eternal.

Tower One Bldg. as seen from Philamlife Bldg. - taken with iPhone 3G; post-processed with Adobe LR2

The yellow ribbon will continue to undulate with the winds;

Makati CBD - taken with Canon Powershot SX110 IS; post-processed with Adobe LR2

A beacon that lights the path of those
bound to your noble cause -- a nation that is truly free.

GMT +8 Manila, Philippines