Sunday, May 31, 2009

Imaginary Interview With Ninoy Aquino

Manila – Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the greatest Filipino of the 20th century, talks to 2Rivers about the state of Philippine politics today and why democracy is still the best hope for the future. The questions are fiction but the answers are his direct quotes. Excerpts:

   Q. Senator Aquino, there are those who say that what the Philippines need is a strong leader, like Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore or Mahathir of Malaysia. In this context, is democracy still relevant? 

      A. The struggle in the Philippines today is between those who have been mesmerized by the efficiency of authoritarianism and those who still hold that democracy, with all its flaws and inefficiency, is man’s best hope for betterment and progress. Man’s sense of justice makes democracy possible, man’s injustice makes it necessary.

     Q. But don’t you think there is too much conflicting views in a democratic setting? 

     A. I agree that we must have public order and national discipline if the country is to move forward, [but] The philosophy of democracy rests not on the belief in the natural goodness of man, but in his educability, not in the inevitability of social progress but in the potentialities of nature and intelligence. The essence of democratic faith is that through the continuing process of political education, men can be sufficiently reasonable to discover, with evidence and give-and-take of free discussion, a better way of solving problems.

    Q. Senator, how would you characterize a democratic society? 

    A. A free society reconciles liberty and equality, rejects liberal freedom without equality and total equality without freedom. Its essence is the absence of special privilege. Its guarantee is an equal opportunity for self-fulfillment for every citizen. It is dynamic, not static, open to change, be it gradual or rapid, for no on does possess the last word, and the world of men and nature is in constant flux.

   Q. President Gloria Arroyo’s public trust ratings are even lower than those of Joseph Estrada during Edsa 2. Every year for half a decade, the opposition files for her impeachment, her allies would override it, and reports about Congressional bribery would leak to the media. But the idea is ‘Majority Rules.’ Would you call this democratic? 

    A. I believe democracy is not just majority rule, but informed majority rule, and due respect for the rights of the minorities. It means while the preference of the majority must prevail, there should be full opportunity for all points of view to find expression. It means toleration for opposition opinion. Where you find suppression of minority opinion, there is no real democracy.

    Q. Another annual phenomena in the Philippines are talks of coup de ‘etat. Would you condone a military take-over to force a change of leadership? 

    A. Why should I advocate a violent overthrow of our government? I am one of the lucky few who never lost an election – from mayor, to vice-governor, to governor, to Senator. Why should I want to destroy a form of government that has served me well? In fact, in 1972, I was within a stone’s throw away from the highest office within the gift of our people – the Presidency.

  Q. Since 2001, the Arroyo administration has been trying to shift into a unicameral parliamentary form of government with a new constitution because of the ‘gridlock” brought about by the political opposition, specifically, the Senate. Should we place limitations on the opposition? 

    A. An opposition party is indispensable in a democracy. The opposition should act the critic of the party in power, developing, defining and presenting the policy alternatives which are necessary for a true choice in public decision-making. It must therefore be guaranteed not only protection but existence, and must be allowed to speak freely and unafraid.

  Q. Politicians are always dismissed as “grandstanding” whenever they speak out regarding a major issue, such as the accusations that Ms. Arroyo rigged the 2004 elections and that First Gentleman Mike Arroyo took bribes from ZTE Corp. of China for the national broadband network project. In these cases, what should the responsibility of the opposition be? 

   A. To speak and denounce rampant injustices. Justice can only be realized only when those who have not been victimized become as outraged as those who have been. [The opposition’s] role is to fight for the people. Whether they will show gratitude or not, immediately, later or never, should not enter our calculations. That is our fate: to fight for what is right.

  Q. But some politicians over-react from time to time, to the level of name-calling and gutter language. For example, the feud between Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. There’s also a word war between Sen. Manuel Villar and Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Sen. Bong Revilla took the floor and personally attacked a doctor who was involved in a video scandal, calling him names like “maniac” and “pervert.” Sen. Jamby Madrigal cursed Gilbert Remulla, the spokesman for the Nacionalista Party and former Cavite congressman, on national radio. Where do you draw the line? 

   A. We believe we are the people of God endowed with reason – which lifts us from the brute – from which we derive our standards of morality, justice and rational method of ascertaining our duty to our fellowmen and community. [But] In the end we get the government we deserve. No social or political organization can be better than thequality of the men and women who compose it.

  Q. There are criticisms about how the media sensationalize issues to boost their ratings. Are those criticisms valid? 

   A. A free media is indispensable if a democracy is to function efficiently, if it is to be real. The people, who are sovereign, must be adequately informed all the time. These I hold sacred: the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, freedom of thought and speech and press, his liberty to choose – without fear or pressure – the public official of his choice, and the principles handed down to us by our forebears.

  Q. There are rumors floating around that the 2010 elections will be sabotaged to enable Ms. Arroyo to legally stay beyond her term. There are also reports that her Congressional allies are still covertly orchestrating a Constitutional Assembly – without the Senate – to write a new Charter. 

   A. So, we find ourselves again in a time of trials – kind that demands of each of us an unstinting, heroic response. Beyond the greed, the pride, the insolence and the pretensions of those who rule us through force and fear and fraud, there is a living Almighty God who knows the dark mysteries of evil in the hearts of men. I know His justice, truth and righteousness will reign and endure forever. History offer cold comfort to those who think they can do as they please and let the people go hang.

  Q. Last question, Senator. Do you believe that the Filipino is worth dying for? 

   A. I have asked myself many times: Is the Fillipino worth suffering, even dying for? Is he not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown? Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice? Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited, for presidential or parliamentary democracy? I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino, and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for.

  The direct quotes of Ninoy Aquino are from “Ninoy: Ideals & Ideologies, 1932 – 1983 (The Benigno S. Aquino Foundation Jr. Foundation Inc., © 1993) This story originally appeared in Photo courtesy of

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Up Close And Paranormal

The essence of poetry is the sweet freedom of expression, which blesses both the giver and the receiver. Some poems are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and there are those that are totally out-of-the-box and unlabelable. But a sense of honor compels the admission that, after all is said and done, this is totally maverick and an original future cult classic – as all exquisite poetry should be.
He: Hello, Dindo! Me: (surprised) Fernando? He: It’s me. Sorry, I didn’t mean to spook you; but I need to talk to you. Me: How do I know it’s really you? You could be a demon too! He: I believe in God Father Almighty – Me: Even Satan quotes the Bible! He: That’s not from the Bible! Me: Then you admit? He: Admit what, you nitwit? Me: That you’re the Devil! He: Jesus Christ!
Me: Now you want to disguise! He: Will you cut it out! I’ll tell what’s it all about; Ask me anything but ask it nice! Me: Chicken, egg, which came first? He: Orgasm: The bird once, the eggs twice! But I was thinking along the lines of things personal. Me: Alaskador as ever! He: What can I say? My soul’s immortal. Me: Okay, in your coffin, What were you wearing? He: Oh yeah, that! I must ask about that! Me: Answer me first! He: A Hulog Ng Langit T-shirt! Whose idea? Tell me will ya? Me: Louie’s, the guy from the media. He said your favorite Hollywood director is Joyce Jimenez! Say, what do you say about my elegy? He: You mean your eulogy. Me: Technicality. He: Sounds stolen from a Hallmark Card. Me: I care enough to steal the very best! Besides, it’s supposed to be your eternal rest! He: I don’t get it; you seem so cool, like talking to a long-lost cousin. Me: I am cool, and you are a long-lost cousin; We haven’t talked since you died. He: That’s the point, see? I committed suicide; Legally, I’m a ghost and I’m haunting you. Me: Officially? He: Indubitably! Do you smell candles? Me: No. He: Do you feel shivers? Me: No. He: You see? Me: No. Anyway, why should I be scared? There’s two hundred pesos you owe me! He: Oh geez! Tell you what: You can have my Walkman and all my CDs, Me: You only have one CD: April Boy. He: Wait, I have a pirated Lani Misalucha! Me: Pucha, that’s your legacy? He: Well, true confessions. Me: I sort of figured. He: I had a bunch of nude photos, see, And I sent them to Hot Copy – Me: Hahahahahahahahaha – He: They got published! Hah! Me: You’re kidding me! He: No, really, it’s under my bed, And also, well, since I’m dead, I did it with Sergio’s girlfriend. Me: Did what? He: You know what! Me: No, what? He: You now what I mean!
Me: No, I don’t know what you mean – What do you think I am, malicious? Anyway, that’s okay: I did it with her too! He: Really? Me: Yeah! In your room too! He: How did you get inside? Me: She opened – He: My room! Me: (?) Through the door.
Image courtesy of

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why Does The Arroyo Administration Value Money Over The Rule Of Law?

The Department of Finance's Order 17-09 is schemingly logical -- the government needs to raise funds for whatever they're planning for the 2010 elections -- but it's a perverted directive to the highest order.
Order 17-090 imposes duty on impoted books. The Arroyo administration, with it's long history of insulting the intelligence of the people, now want even more money -- in violation of no less than an international treaty and local laws.
No new titles has appeared lately in Philippine bookstores. There is still a significant number of Filipinos who love books, but they are thwarted by an even greater number of people who love money, and who customize the laws to gain even more.
Since 1952, the Philippines has been a signatory to the Unesco Florence Agreement -- "Books, newspapers, periodicals, and many other categories of printed matter are granted duty-free entry."
Order 17-09 also violates Republic Act 8047 -- The Book Publishing Industry Development Act -- specifically Section 12 which clearly states that books and raw marterials for books are exempt grom duties.
The Arroyo administration has done it again -- imposed another illegal order. But then again, she will never be impeached. How can she be if Congress is on her payroll?
Image courtesy of

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Is It About The Presidency?

Today the ruling parties Lakas-CMD and Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino) will officially merge in preparation for the 2010 elections, at the Manila Hotel. The move is obviously is in the pursuit of greater power, nothing less and with no limits.
Which is not to say that political ambition is bad per se -- public office is a noble profession per se -- but how come people don't trust politicians anymore?
Rober Langdon will enjoy today's issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The headline story says that one Lakas member, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, will bolt the party if he doesn't become the standard-bearer. He also said he is not forcing President Gloria Arroyo to anoint him.
The main purpose of the coalition is to select the candidates for the administration's slate. Among their ranks, the leading contender for the presidency is Vice President Noli De Castro. One of those eyeing the vice-presidency slot is Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, as in a DeCastro-Puno ticket.
Meanwhile, the Inquirer report says "that Lakas-Kampi was only considering a DeCastro-Teodoro tandem." Confusing, isn't it?
Pangasinan Representative Jose De Venecia resigned as Lakas president emeritus, and warned DeCastro about being chosen. Arroyo, he said would only anoint someone with the condition of her immunity from several graft cases when she leaves office. That is assuming that she does step down, or, as is heard on the grapevine right now, an orchestrated "failure of election" can legally enable her to stay beyond her term. Senator Mig Zubiro has also resigned from CMD because, he said during his press conference, he "had no choice." this might have been intriguing but of course what could it be except power-play? He even used the term "jockeying," as in party insiders and jockeying for positions in the new merger.
Executive Secretary Eduarto Ermita said the number one criteria for the standard-bearer is the ability to win. "Logistics definitely has something to do with the support of the ruling," he told media. Nothing was mentioned about the candidate's independent-mindedness.
Manila Hotel photo courtesy of

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pax Vobiscum

Peace, such a beautiful world. A thing of beauty, though unseen, felt, by innermost soul. An idea, abstract perhaps, but like the highest peak of a mountain, it is there. To be reached by the mind, to be grasped, like a shining prize, by the heart. Peace I have known, brief moments in time, they glimmer like fireflies on a moonlit night. But to man, starved for truth, a morsel, alas, is not enough. There is more to this world, in our lives, than mammon’s lot There are to be served higher purposes – justice, truth, beauty, love, charity, hope, peace. Not the peace of the desert. There is solitude, but only wilderness. Not to commune with nature but to grapple with temptation. The battle of good and evil, we are told, is ultimately won – and lost, in the hearts of men. Not the peace of the graveyard. Hollowed ground, but surrounded by death. But death comes to all of us, The Dark Shrouded One to reap the harvest of souls. To slay, indiscriminately, whether a prince or a pauper, for, in the end, all of us are indeed, created equal. There are of course, meditations to be heard when alone, surrounded by the tombs of the departed. To know death is to love life, for only can the value of something be known – when it has been lost. Our time on earth is but a spark in the blinding light of infinity. A man can live, to change the world perhaps, to conquer kingdoms, to rally a million men, or live like a leper, reviled unwanted, hated. For at the consummation of a life, a man may be deemed worthy to dwell in the isle of the Blest, or be unmourned, forgotten, to die like a dog. And all shall cross the dark river of Styx, on Charon’s boat, to the other side. What is in there? Eternal twilight? Paradise, Purgatorio or Inferno? The Comedia of Dante – a comedy? For is not that was God perceived to be, among other things, a jester? Did He not made a deal between Satan for Job’s soul? God – as Faust? Insufferable torture Job was thus punished. For his faith? For his obedience? But Job, like Paul and Daniel, fought the good fight. Job’s faith was strong, unmovable like the rock of Gibraltar. In the end, Job regained his place in the folds of so-called decent man. No longer was he defeated, but welcomed back to society, the same society that treated him in the past with utter revulsion. For, in God’s cruel joke, the people saw in Job their own worst fears for their own lives. And the wicked, no doubt, celebrated the fall of a just man. To have pace, some say, is to prepare for war. For only in eternal vigilance can peace, like freedom, be defended. For peace to grow, like a lovely flower, the soil must be nourished by the blood of the martyrs. To the altar of peace, worthy offerings are the lives of the brave, the just and the righteous. The cries and lamentations of the widows and orphans shall pass, as all things pass, but a hero’s sacrifice shall remain forever. There is peace in moments of serendipity: A beautiful sunset, a perfect shell on a beach, a kiss from a child. Beautiful moments I have found, and peace I have known and known well, not like my shadow, my constant companion perhaps, but rather like a bird in the window. To alight, to sing, to delight, but only for a moment – then flies away. There is finally, divine peace, where God’s chosen are made to see His grace, visions of heavenly beauty. For, in the moment of death, a vision opens the eyes of the soul to all those things beyond understanding. Only then can a life can be crowned with glories no earthly kingdom can bestow. For it is to know heaven, to hear the angels’ chorus, to be welcomed by the saints. Above all, it is to know God and say, ‘I have fought the good fight and I have come home!’ That, my friend, is real peace. And Peace be with you

Image courtesy of

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


“Moment by moment, our lifetime goes on; ’til one day, our somedays are gone…” Lily Tomlin, Moment By Moment Half the world is sleeping at any given moment. You wonder sometimes what people dream about. Is it about the things they love, or the things they lost We sometimes think of days past, nostalgia attributing to them a certain magic that wasn’t there before. We dream about life. We want to do everything at once. There is so much to do in life, so many ways to savor it to the fullest. But time is never enough. They say that some good things never last but can we at least suspend a single, glorious moment? Like a photograph perhaps, but can we still feel the beauty of the moment when our hairs have already turned gray? A peaceful, nearly perfect moment in one’s life is a distinction not even the king’s gold can buy. It is more precious than fame. There are certain moments when you really feel at peace with yourself and with the universe. I’ve had my share of those times when the deeper layers of truth manifest themselves. Those moments when you to a higher level of existence both in intellect and spirit, in heart and soul. At the moment I write this, somebody somewhere in the world is laughing, crying, hoping, suffering. At this moment, a woman is giving birth, the child may turn out to be a king or a criminal, a saint or a scumbag. At this moment, somebody in the world is dying, surrounded by friends and family. At this moment, somebody must be achieving his loftiest ambitions and somewhere also, somebody is nursing wounds of humiliation and defeat. At this moment somewhere in the world, a bride is giving herself to her groom on their first night. Somebody is having his picture taken, his photo to remind him of his youth. A mother is preparing her family’s meal. Somebody is gazing at the sea, communing with his soul Image courtesy of

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering Jonas Burgos

Today the United States observes National Missing Children’s Day. Every year since 1983, the 25th of May serves to remind Americans of the importance of child safety. Why don’t we have that in the Philippines? Jacob, his brother Trevor, and their friend Aaron were on their way home, guided only by a small flashlight, biking happily along a lonely country road blanketed by darkness. It was the first time Jacob and Trevor persuaded their parents to let them rent a video from Tom Thumb, a convenience store in their town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, at night. Suddenly, a large man wearing a stocking mask appeared and blocked their way – threatening them at gunpoint, demanding their ages, peering closely at their faces. “Ten,” said Trevor. “I’m 11,” said Aaron. “Eleven,” Jacob replied to the intruder. The man ordered Trevor and Aaron to run into the woods – or he will shoot. The two terrified boys ran for their life. But when they looked back, the stranger – and Jacob – had already vanished. Jacob Wetterling disappeared on October 22, 1989. Today, there is still no trace. Not A Statistic I came across Jacob’s story on a December 2000 issue of Reader’s Digest. The odds are not encouraging. “Fewer than a quarter of missing children abducted by strangers are found alive after the first three days, and about half are never found,” writer Henry Hurt quotes Neil Neddermeyer, a retired Minnesota sex-crimes expert who has worked on the case But Jacob’s mother Patty refuses to give up. “We have a boy who is missing, and he’s not a statistic.” Find the Child The tragedy transformed Patty from a shy housewife into the driving force behind the Wetterling Foundation, traveling around the U.S. speaking to parents and law enforcements agents. “You will never look foolish if you pull out all the stops and find the child,” she declares. She feels that her son is still alive, and that he will hear her message: “We love you, Jacob, now as much as ever. Wherever you are, whatever has happened, whatever you’ve had to do, never doubt how much we love you. Call us, or come home, so we can begin to build the new memories.” Galvanized To Action The National Missing Children’s Day was triggered by the disappearance 6-year old Etan Patz, on a New York street corner, while on his way to school. Americans were galvanized to action, and in 1983, then President Ronald Reagan declared May 25 – the day Etan disappeared – as National Missing Children’s Day. The Philippines doesn’t have that, which is all the more ironic because our country has a solid tradition of missing people – mostly student-activists – who are abducted and murdered by government soldiers, going back to the Marcos regime. Many Others Jonas Burgos is the poster-boy for the desaparecidos – the disappeared – for our generation. He may not have been a small child and his case may have had political undertones because he was a community leader accused of being a leftist, but the pain that lashed at his family is the same agony that tortured the parents of Etan Patz, Jacob Wetterling, Adam Walsh, and tragically, many others. There is still no justice for Jonas. There is still no peace in her mother’s heart. Edita Burgos photo courtesy of

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hello Darkness (Testaments In Solitude)

“Hello, Darkness, my old friend; I’ve come to talk with you again…” Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence Darkness, old friend of mine, once again you have come. In my life, your presence has ceased to be conceptions of childhood dreams. I have come to know you, constant visitor, like a brother of a sort. Your absences, however, are not missed, to give you an honest thought. But surely, you wouldn’t keep a grudge. As borne out of human experience, you have become larger than life. In my moments of grief, you have remained beside me, like a sentinel. Many times I’ve tried to banish you, like some do to a dirty old beggar. My dream is for your exile in a far-away land, never to return. I’ve tried to deny you, like Simon before the dawn. But still, your load bears heavily in my mind, like a gypsy wagon in the back of an old stallion. Like a restless ghost you haunt me, to cover my days in gloom, like a blanket over a sleeping child. Sometimes, you engulf me in despair, like a drowning man in a forgotten lake. I try to hide, like the ostrich with his head in the earth. I cannot run away, not even the eagle is swifter than the wind. If you can’t beat them, join them, we are told. Surrender? To give in, like a convict to the gallows? No! Death is more honorable than defeat. But I’ve thought about you, seriously contemplating your existence. You are like a cursed diamond of a dead maharajah. To know it’s history is to appreciate it more, but still remaining a mystery beyond understanding. Only a man who has wrestled with you can embrace the light. For how to know that which is good and just with eyes that haven’t seen cruelty and misery? Only he who has walked, alone in the rain, can run through the meadows to greet the advent of summer. For how can we play in the green pastures and rest beside still waters without passing the valley of the shadow of death? But then darkness, old friend of mine, if the time has come for you to leave, then I will rejoice. I may greet you with a fond farewell, but my heart bids you never to knock at my door again. May our paths never meet in the crossroads of Fate. Photo courtesy of

Saturday, May 23, 2009

First Confirmed A(H1N1) Case in RP Already Contained

Manila – the 10-year old Filipino girl who is the first confirmed case of A(H1N1) in the Philippines is now under self-quarantine in her home, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. The girl has traveled to the United States and Canada. She returned to the country on May 18 on a Korean Air flight from the U.S. via Seoul with her mother. The next day, she began complaining of fever, cough and sore throat. Her swab throat samples were examined and confirmed for A(H1N1) by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. Her mother tested negative. “The patient is now recovering well,” DOH Undersecretary Mario Villaverde told Manila Standard Today. “She no longer has fever and cough but still has sore throat.” The DOH is set to send a team to the girl’s house for a “More thorough assessment of the household contacts,” said Villaverde. In a related development, the World Health Organization is now hesitant to issue a pandemic alert. The WHO “was caught Thrursday between the spread of the new swine flu virus to 41 countries and doubts fostered by its mild symptoms,” according to an AFP wire report. “The WHO sense that recommendations which go with that are not adopted to the situation,” French epidemiologist Antoine Flahaut told AFP. But the “Technical elements” are already in place if the scenario of a pandemic arises. This story originally appeared in ( Photo of girl in airport courtesy of

Erap Grieves For "Hello Garci!" Star Witness Samuel Ong

Manila – “I admired his courage and love for the truth. Had it not been for him, the people will never know the cheatings in the 2004 presidential elections.” Thus said former President Joseph Estrada in an interview with the Philippine Star upon the death of Samuel Ong, the former deputy director of the National Bureau of Investigation who exposed the tapes of the phone negotiations between President Gloria Arroyo and Virgilio Garcillano, then a Commission of Elections official, during the canvassing of votes for the 2004 presidential elections. “He was a brave and courageous man whom we should consider a hero because he fought for the truth and for justice for the Filipino people who were deprived of their chosen President,” said Estrada. Ong died of cardiac arrest while in the Intensive Care Unit of the Chinese General Hospital for terminal lung cancer. Estrada had visited him 15 minutes before death. “There is one thing clear in the present administration,” said Estrada. “If you tell the truth, you will be jailed.” This story originally appeared in ( Erap photo courtesy of

Hayden Kho Breaks Breaks Silence Over Sex Video Scandal

Manila – Controversial medical physician Hayden Kho has issued a public apology and assumed responsibility for the videos of his sexual liaisons with different women, including actress Katrina Halili.
But he also revealed that the videos were stolen from him, and he categorically stated that he did not upload them on the video-sharing site Once on the Internet, however, it was only a matter of hours before they were pirated on DVDs and sold on Quiapo and in sidewalks nationwide. It is now the national obsession in the Philippines, prompting statements even from politicians. Sen. Bong Revilla, an actor, gave a privilege speech in the Senate floor three days ago condemning Kho. “I deeply regret everything that has happened because of poor judgment,” said Kho. “Right now, I only feel deep remorse. I know it’s too much to ask forgiveness right now – someday people would learn to condemn the sin and not the sinner.” Kho, 29, first gained public attention for his May-December love affair with Dr. Vicki Belo, a famous cosmetic surgeon whose clientele are mostly celebrities. He has also guested in various TV shows as an aspiring singer. He has voluntarily stopped his medical work in the wake of the controversy. “I own up to my responsibility as a professional, and have decided to suspend my practice of medicine,” he said. Halili has filed a case against Kho for psychological violence. Kho is liable under Section 5 of Republic Act 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act), said Vicente de Guzman III, head of the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division. Halili has also lodged a complaint of immoral and unethical conduct at the Professional Regulation Commission, seeking revocation of Kho’s medical license. “We already sent the summons containing the copy of the complaint against him and we asked him to file his counter-affidavit within 15 days upon receipt of the summons,” said Pharson Mamalo, chief of the PRC legal division. Meanwhile, Belo’s lawyer denied rumors that she was the responsible for the video’s leakage. Belo is a mere “resource person” and “witness,” said her lawyer Adel Tamano. Kho and Belo had a very public break-up on December 2008 but Tamano confirmed that during their affair, they also had a private sex video, “Made by two consenting adults.” The NBI sent summons to Kho, Belo and Eric Johnston Chua, Kho’s fraternity mate whom Halili accused of having a copy of the video. Kho and Belo were represented by their legal counsels Jose Paulo and Peter John Javier, respectively. In the case of Chua, the NBI “Will give him another notice to present his side in our investigation,” said Guzman. Paulo read Kho’s statement: “I have requested Atty. Lorna Kapunan to be my legal counsel, and to speak on my behalf for the time being. At this stage, I realized I cannot expect understanding and forgiveness. I can only pray that this comes in due time.” Kapunan is a well-known and highly-respected feminist lawyer. Among the many cases she has handled is that of her client Carol Castañeda Jimenez, who has been sued for kidnapping and grave coercion by her estranged husband, former Manila congressman Mark Jimenez. Hayden photo courtesy of KapamilyaPhotos. This story originally appeared in AllVoices.

Since The World Began

We are told that everything happens for a reason. Even a falling leaf from a tree in the next field has a reason. Suffering can make a man stronger or bitter, it depends upon him. His character is his destiny. All of us have a reason for being. Sages of all ages have contemplated our true identities and the existence of God. Some questions that probe into the deepest recesses of our psyche: Who am I, we ask ourselves. To the philosophers and poets, we are the sun, the stars, the earth, the wind, the wind. We are everything yet we are nothing. We are the father, the son, the lover, the friend. We are everyone yet we are no one. Are we the sparks from an infinite light? Creations of a Supreme Being with our own freewill? Or are like puppets manipulated by strings, like mortals of Greek myth? Do we have freewill? Is a man the real captain of his soul, the real master of his fate, as it were? To write this piece in a solitary act of freewill. A conscious, deliberate decision. A random act plucked from a number of possible alternatives. To stay home and write or not, or go instead, say, to watch the last full show of a James Bond movie. And to choose, by virtue of a freewill, is the real essence of freedom. Or is it really? What is fate? That is the second scenario. The present act is the consummation of a prophecy already written in the stars? Destined to be, from the moment of birth? A sigh from a silent oracle? The words of a mute prophet? Michelangelo’s Sistine photo courtesy of

Friday, May 22, 2009

What Matters Most

“It’s not how long we held each other’s hand, what matters is how sweet the years together…” Kenny Rankin, What Matters Most Our lives have always been intertwined, like the vines in a forest, touching each other, for better, for worse, but always in consonance with the mysterious cadence of infinity. We learn to love, we need to love. Somewhere along the way we meet fulfillment and happiness. But sometimes also, we meet loneliness and despair. But to have loved and lost, is to be human, to be of humanity. Nothing could be of a more noble life. For it is through the subjugation of our frailties, when we set aside and rise to prove worthy of the elixir of life, the bittersweet taste of pure love, that we become blessed. And having been blessed, we find peace. To love is to be holy, for love is the most sacred feeling, for love, ultimately, is God. Love’s sting can cause the most excruciating pain, but love’s kiss is the sweetest pleasure, like the purest nectar from a thousand flowers. Young lover photo courtesy of

Thursday, May 21, 2009


In his book Trial And Error, Teodoro M. Locsin underscores the constancy of an author’s work as compared to memory. Writing is an ode to posterity, and calls to mind the three philosophical cornerstones of immortality: planting a tree, siring a child and writing a book. For the next six days, let me share with you some reflections kept throughout the years, conceptions of a passionate youth, landmarks along a contemplative pilgrimage. Man, we are told, is a rational animal. The possession of an intellect raises him from the ranks of beasts. Thus, man has dominion over the earth. He lives for higher purposes, not merely to exist, like animals, programmed only to obey instincts. Man lives, and dreams. But does a sparrow dream too? Shirley Jackson, in The Haunting Of Hill House, says that “No live organism can continue to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality, that larks and katydids are supposed by some, to dream.” Let us suppose that the creatures of the animal kingdom dreams. Does that make them equal to humans? What can a lion for instance, dream about? Does he dream about the wildebeest he just made breakfast? Does he dream that someday, he will be the leader of his herd? The King of the Beasts, the lion. Does he have, from time to time, delusions of grandeur? Does he fantasize of a rhino lunch or a gorilla snack? Saint Francis of Assisi was said to have communed with animals. Did he talk to the lion? Is a lion, fearsome creature that he is, subjects to the pangs of conscience? He kills that he may live. He lives, for his hunger is assuaged. But what about his prey? But that’s the law of nature, expressed primitively as the survival of the fittest. Is a rabbit less fit, compared to a cougar, to survive? But even the worms at the bottom of the food chain have some importance, of value, to the great scheme of things. A beast kills another. It’s survival, conforming to it’s role in the theater of nature. But does not a man kill for food too? From the feast’s roasted cattle to a can of tuna. Yes, he cooks them, one may argue, processes and manufactures them. Does it make him less of an animal? Man does not eat raw, not even cannibals in the Fiji Islands. Ah, but what about sashimi? But a man kills for pleasure too. From a boy’s first slingshot to a safari expedition. For adventure, for fortune. An elephant’s ivory tusks are piano keys, an alligators hide is a briefcase. A moose’s head. some presume, is a splendid decoration on the wall. Save the whales, goes the battle-cry. And why not, their numbers are dwindling. Soon to become in the future an extinct specie. The seas are dying and along with it, all aquatic flora and fauna. Man makes profit, but at what price? So then, does a man rise above the animals? Once upon a time, Icarus made wings for himself and flew, higher and higher, until the sun melted the wax in the wings and he plummeted to his death. Ah, but man made the airplane. And since then he has conquered the sky – in imitation of the condor. He has been to the moon and back. An eagle can only fly so much but it can never reach Mars. Can thus be said to be an argument for man’s superiority? Animals and men both kill, but men not only profits and thrives of these profits, they also create havoc and destruction the magnitude of which not even the King of the beasts, the lion has dreamed of. But then again, does a lion dream? Man alone, without the trappings of science, can never be as strong as a bear or as swift as the cheetah. But given his toys, he can obliterate all species on earth, including his own. Thus, man has dominion over the earth?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Great Pinoy Magical Mystery Tour (To The Tune of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire")

I Cory Susan World Youth Day Erap Chino GMA SONA APEC Walter Campbell Joker Jojo Joma Sanchez SINAG Gordon Angie Vilma Enrile Biazon Narco Leah PIATCO Villa Nani Lim Monsod II Bossi Barbers Miss Saigon DOJ Contemplacion Django Da King Inday Nida Reyster El Shaddai People Power Ang See Imelda ATOM Butz Ping Iloilo Eldon Garci Bayan Muna Jonas III Jovy Sotto Saguisag Dacer Expo St. Bernard Roque Villar Compañero Carpio Yorac JoeCon Esperon Janjalani Alston Danny Lim Tulfos Brocka Rona CARP IV Punongbayan Danding Bernas Bata Nick Joaquin Baby Hyatt Robin Ang Al-Ghozi Spratlys Rico Yan Deathrow MILF Ambubuyog IMF Impeachment Case Toxic Wastes Tolentino BF V Laurel Clark Doña Paz Keithley Maceda Black and White Subic Tsong Ducat Behest loans ULTRA Randy VAT Lebanon Ethanol Cullen Onyok Venable Jarque Ormoc Megadike Clarissa O Panlilio Mike VI Bro. Eddie H-World Grace Orly “Magnifico” DelaCruz DeCastro AirPhil Asi Agoo G2 NAIA3 Gringo Nayan Amari Gudani Flavier Roco Burnhams Pinatubo VII MJ Pacman Dengue Katrina Miriam Singson Carlson Ecleo PEP Coalition Loren Ople DeVenecia Bentain Nicole Luisita ’Tol Kris NBN “Live Show” Webb Manila Pen Villaruel Everest Bishops Balabagan Text NPA PPA Who Wants To Be A Millionaire VIII Marcos Gold Cardinal Sin Negros Filmfest Querubin Hotspots ISAFP Juetengate Joc-Joc Ozone Roldan Jose Pidal Marcopper COPA Sumilao Ani Angara Lucio RAM Guimaras Noble OPM; Whistleblowers Liberal Nene Northrail FVR Jalosjos Abalos Khaos GATT Donita Rose Hilario KOMPIL Meloto Guingona Plunder Magdalo Aramco Sobero ARMM Kuratong Billy Joel photo courtesy of Mark's Autograph Collection. Your comments and links are welcome

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Girl From Avenida

Tonight I can’t ride my car because it’s Wednesday. But if it’s either Tuesday or Thursday, it still won’t make a difference, Because I don’t have a car. I was waiting for a jeepney ride; I felt cold like Love’s suicide. Everything dies: the plants, the trees Sometimes even the memories. You know it’s sad but true That sometimes even Love dies too. A young woman approached me. “Short time, pogi?” she asked. “I want to,” I told her, “but I don’t have any money.” That was a lie of course: I still have seven pesos and fifty centavos. This girl’s a dead ringer of Anne Curtis, Bob Hoskins and Phil Collins. She touched my shoulder: A part of me understood. She looked into my eyes: My hairs now all stood. I had goosebumps under my arms On my balbon chest And all over my Zanjoe Marudo body. I was shivering with all my might – first with pleasure then with fright. And she said, “He looked just like you.” Maintaining my dignity, I asked, “Who?” “Bernardo Carpio,” she said wistfully. “my hoodlum boyfriend who poisoned me.” I took a deep breath. Poise! I reminded me. I asked politely, “Miss, are you dead?” She floated in the air. “Dili man ’Dong,” she said. “Waray man ibidinsya!” she added. And – poof! – she vanished. Avenida photo courtesy of

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Forever Jung: A Study Of Jungian Pyschology In Pinoy Pop Culture

In 1913, a young psychologist had vision of a “monstrous flood” that had overwhelmed half of Europe, with the waves bashing his country’s Swiss Alps. Millions of people were swept away – than the rampaging waters were transformed into a gigantic river of blood. The young man was frightened for his sanity, but the nightmares continued, bringing more images of death and desolation in its wake. 

The August of the same year, however, signaled the advent of the first World War. And the young man, Carl Jung, instinctively felt a primordial link between man and mankind, that somehow, there exists a connection between one and everyone. It was then that he dedicated his life in finding it. 

Painstakingly, he recorded his dreams, visions, even his fantasies. Later on, he even made drawings, paintings and sculptures. He then discovered that his experiences had a tendency to assume human shapes: an old man, a little girl, a brownish dwarf. Jung felt he was in the frontiers of an uncharted region of the mind – and resolutely pressed forward. 

  Sponge-like Mind 

Carl Gustav Jung was born on July 26 1875 in Kessewil, Switzerland. His father, a highly educated country parson, taught him Latin when he was six, marking the beginning of his life-ling romance with literature and languages. From an early age, his sponge-like mind absorbed both European and ancient languages, including Sanskrit and Hebrew.

The boy’s incredible variety of reading materials was stunning: the Jewish Cabala, Gnostic Gospels, ancient scrolls on Alchemy, the Mahabharata and Panchatantra in their original texts and so many others. Jung was already a loner even during his teenage years while attending boarding school in Basel. Though preferring Archeology, he took up medicine at the University of Basel.

There he encountered the legendary neurologist Krafft-Ebbing, and made a decisive shift to Psychology.

  Jung and Freud 

After graduation, he worked at Zurich’s Burghoetzl Mental Hospital. Eugene Bleuler, who made the pioneering first steps in the study of (and coined the term) schizophrenia, became his mentor. 1903 was a productive year for Jung. He taught at the University of Zurich, established a private practice, married Emma Rauschenbach, and invented word association.

It was in 1907, in Vienna, that his met his idol, Sigmund Freud. The meeting of Jung and Freud was a momentous event in the annals of psychology. The two great minds immediately bonded as soul brothers, and Freud cancelled all his appointments and they talked non-stop for 13 straight hours. Freud regarded Jung as his heir apparent, the crown prince, of Psychoanalysis.

Jung however, had certain reservations about Freud’s theories. Their association cooled in the United States, when they were analyzing each other’s dreams. What started out as an evening entertainment escalated into a full-blown argument. That was in 1909.

Shortly after, the visions came.

  Structure of the Psyche 

Jung’s structure of the psyche has three divisions, interrelated at the same time in correlation with their own dynamics in response to both internal and external stimuli. There is the conscious mind, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious.

The conscious mind, or ego, involves all the functions of the waking self, including the activities of both left (analytical) and the right (creative) hemispheres of the brain.

The personal unconscious, or subconscious, contains all subliminal dynamics including suppressed memories brought on by traumatic experiences. William James theorized that it acts as a barrier against a tremendous barrage of images, for the subconscious can bring to the surface any stimulus perceived by the senses. Jung however, disagreed with Freud that instinct is correlated with this level.

The collective unconscious is essentially a reservoir of humanity’s experiences and memories. This idea made Jung’s theory different from all the rest. One can only connect through implication, although it directly and indirectly influences one’s behavior. Certain manifestations include the phenomena of déjà vu and the instinctive empathy with certain symbols.

Jung believed that was the conjunction of the inner and outer reality of the collective unconscious. This is the ocean Aldous Huxley tried to navigate in his mind-altering experimentations. To use technological analogy, if the personal unconscious is the hard-disk, then the collective unconscious is the modem. This is where Jung’s (and Joseph and Daniel’s) prophetic dreams originated.

  Organizing Principle 

The inner dynamics of the collective unconscious are called archetypes. An archetype is the “unlearned tendency” that serves as the “organizing principle” of the psyche. This is the reason why Jung placed instinct on this level, and his illustration has become a template in the development of modern psychotherapy.

When an infant is hungry, it cries for sustenance. His mental capacity may not be able to distinguish between Carnation, Cerelac, Lactum or Yakult, but with this “indefinite yearning” comes the instinctive knowledge that it can be satisfied with certain stimuli and not with others. It is only when he grows a little older that becomes specific on his preference when feeling hunger – Gusto Meatloaf, Maggi Chicken Noodles, Purefoods Hotdogs.

  The Mother Archetype 

There are different kinds of archetypes although they have no specific form of their own. Let us start with the mother archetype. All human beings have mothers, and deeply ingrained in our racial evolution is the instinctive longing to connect with a source of comfort and security. This is projected on another person, usually one’s own mother, like Basilio to Sisa. In the absence of the biological mother, it is directed to the one who would most personify this maternal figure, like Maria Clara’s Aunt Isabel.

The mother archetype is also projected into symbols like nature, the church or a nation. Thus, La Madre Filipina is our collective mother for we are the sons and daughters of the ‘motherland’. Jesus’ mother had been adopted many times as an object of veneration, and each manifestation of the Virgin Mary is in resonance with the universal mother archetype.

Thus, the differences between Antipolo’s Our Lady of Good Voyage and Baclaran’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help with Mexico’s Our Lady of Guadalupe, France’s Our Lady of Lourdes and Portugal’s Our Lady of Fatima are primarily cultural.

This idea is also implied in the Lucio San Pedro Levi Celerio classic Sa Ugoy Ng Duyan (In The Rocking of the Cradle), and Mama by Smokey Mountain.

  The Shadow 

The Shadow archetype is the Pandorian Box of our primitive past, and this is where genetic memories of self-preservation and reproduction are stored. The Shadow is morally inert – neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’, but is driven primarily by deeply imbedded instincts.

Thus, a Dwende (elemental) may hex a sportive child but only self-defense and not out of pure malice. The same applies to the Tikbalang (humanoid horse), capable of both friendship and hideous slaughter.

The Shadow is the repository of the evil that men do, so to speak, including death wishes directed against a specific person. An example is Amtalan’s animosity towards his mortal enemy Pangawian in the Ifugao epic Hudhud hi Aliguyun.

This is the reason why symbolisms are predominantly dark and fearsome: the Aswang (vampire), the Tiyanak (leprechaun), the White Lady, and the snake people Zuma, Kamandag and Valentina.
The Persona 

The Persona is the representation of one’s image to the world. It is interesting to note that it was derived from the Latin word for mask. This is the aspect most in conflict with the collective unconscious for it symbolizes the idea of manipulated perception – spin doctoring the self, as it were.

An Engkanto (earth spirit) assuming a pleasing human form to seduce a mortal who had caught its fancy is one example.

Another is the social-climbing Miguel in Mateo Cruz Cornelio’s Tubig Sa Buslo (Water In The Jug) – a poor boy pretending to rich to impress a rich pretending to be poor.

The public projection is also the idea behind the songs Totoy Bibo and Mr. Suave.

 Anima and Animus 

The anima and animus are archetypes which are the fundamental links to the collective unconscious. Jung theorized that we are all looking for our ‘other half’, in the context of Greek mythology, the part the gods took from mortals.

The anima is the female archetype in the collective unconscious of men, and the animus is the male aspect in the collective unconscious of women. Thus, Florante is Laura’s animus, and vice versa.

The animus can symbolized by any male character. A wise man, for example, can be personified by the Philosopher Tacio, or Arsenio Torres, the heroic teacher in Courage by Bienvenido Santos.

Similarly, the anima can embrace a host of symbolisms, from the soap opera orphan Annaliza to the mysterious widow in The Witch by Edilberto Tiempo.

Examples of songs for an anima are My Girl My Woman My Friend by Jose Mari Chan and When I Met You by the Apo Hiking Society.

And for an animus, ‘Til I Met You by Kuh Ledesma and How Did You Know by Chiqui Pineda.

  Varieties of Archetypes 

According to Jung, archetypes have no fixed number that can be neatly indexed. Often, they overlap and combine with each other.

Varieties of archetypes include the family archetype, a representation of authority above a hierarchical order tied by a bloodline. Ideal families were used to be featured in the TV shows Hapi House and Munting Paraiso (Little Paradise). The song Only Selfless Love by Jamie Rivera is the musical representation of this idea.

The hero archetype represents the ego versus the Shadow. It is the empathy of the conscious mind with a protagonist in his fight against the forces of evil – which the mind identifies with the Shadow. Personafications include Flavio The Panday (Blacksmith), Crisostomo Ibarra, Bernardo Carpio, Pedro Penduko, Dalmacio Armas, Harabas, Agent X44, Leon Guerrero, Maskarado, Mr. Wong, Prinsipe Amante, Captain Barbell, Kapitan Kidlat and Lastikman. The Spirit Warriors and the Ninja Kids are collective symbolisms of this archetype.

The animal archetype represents man’s relationship with the animal world. This is symbolized by Dario and his rooster in Darmo Adarna from vintage Funny Comics, Alejo and the doomed horse in White Mare In The Corn by N.V.M. Gonzalez, and Prinsipe Juan and the enchanted bird in Ibong Adarna (Adarna Bird) by Francisco Balagtas.

There is also the child archetype, representing the future, salvation and rebirth. The Santo Niño and the Child Jesus in the Belen (Nativity scene) are such symbolisms, and it is also implied in the song Miracle, Martin Nievera’s ode to his new-born son.

Malakas symbolizes the original man archetype, and Bathala, the God archetype.

  The Self 

The Self is the most important archetype. It is the representation of transcendence, and our goal should be its realization in our lives.

An example is Crispin in The Sacrifice by Celso Al Carunungan. At first, the young boy’s focus is his ego, i.e., his carefree life and his friendship with his pet carabao Silver. When his father proposed selling Silver because of their dire straits, Crispin was outraged. In the end, when realized all the sacrifices his parents had done for him, he finally agreed.

Simply stated, selfishness and Self-realization can never exist together. Being the full integration of personhood, the Self can be symbolized by the cross, the circle, or the mandalas Jung have painted, a mandala being any image used as a central focus in meditation.

The ultimate personifications of Self, those who have gained perfection, are Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha.

Jung believed that perfection can only be achieved in death, so this would include St. Lorenzo Ruiz, St. Pedro Calungsod, Jose Rizal and Benigno Aquino Jr.
Principles of Operations 

According to Jung, the psyche has three principles of operations.

The first is the Principle of Opposites, which means that any desire is automatically accompanied by an opposite desire. From this opposition comes the power, or libido, of the psyche. A strong contrast gives a strong energy (like the Darna-Narda paradigm), and the weaker the contrast, the weaker the energy.

The second is the Principle of Equivalence: the energy created from the opposition is distributed to both conflicting urges. If one follows the positive desire, the energy for the negative desire is channeled to further enhance psychological balance.

However denial of the existence of any negative desires leads to a complex, which is a cluster of suppressed thoughts and emotions constellating around the perceived meaning of a specific archetype. This has been established as the root cause of neuroses and multiple-personality disorders.

The Principle of Entropy is the tendency of the opposites to unite over a given period of time, hence, weakening the energy. Jung termed the conquest, or rising above the conflict, of opposites as transcendence.

Opposites tend be extreme in youth, and old age is characterized by less passion and gullibility. This was illustrated by the poignant exchanges between the idealistic Isagani and the jaded Señor Pasta in El Filibusterismo. 


Synchronicity is the occurrence of two meaningfully related events neither linked causally (cause and effect) or teleologically (freewill).

For example, Ibarra was contemplating about Elias’ grim experiences when Elias himself suddenly appeared to warn him that his life was in danger.

Jung explained that what behaviorists call coincidence is actually an indication that we are all linked with our fellow human beings though the collective unconscious.

Within the perspective of Hindu philosophy, Jung likened our individual egos to isles in the sea which can be exemplified by the Hundred Islands of Alaminos. The waters give the maya (illusion) that we are all separated, but way deep below the surface, the earth provides us with a solid – though – unseen connection with each other.

  Carl Jung photo courtesy of

Friday, May 15, 2009

Why Gloria Arroyo's Cha-Cha Could Be The Worst Thing To Happen To Our Country

This piece was originally written as a Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Manila Times [December 2006] and BusinessMirror [January 2007]. Unfortunately, it is still relevant. Some Filipino politicians are magicians. They use hocus-pocus on their elections and abracadabra on their term limits. Their oath to protect the Constitution is an illusion. The proponents of parliamentarism use misdirection, sleights-of-hand and nebulous chants like “Gridlock.” But there are also 6 concrete reasons why they should stop their tricks. 1. The problem is the people and not the system. Character has nothing to do with the form of government: a good citizen will assume responsibility for his actions whether he’s under a President, Prime Minister or Chancellor; a greedy politician will steal whether they call him Congressman, Assemblyman or MP. The best deterrent against abuse is responsible oversight with punitive sanctions .Another crucial factor is our cultural habit of contaminating on-paper feasibility with graft and influence peddling (i.e., checkpoints, military pensions, the electricity stock market, PCGG, MMDA). Equity of the incumbent does not mean “What are we in power for?” There is absolutely no reason to become parliament unless he Philippines is joining the European Union. 2. The proponents of unicameral parliamentarism are engaging in doublespeak. It is duplicity to cite successful parliaments without saying that they are all bicameral (i.e., Britain’s House of Lords and House of Commons; Japan’s House of Representatives and House of Councilors; Germany’s Bundestag and Reichstag). The fact that parliamentarism leads to partisan backstabbing and political blackmail (i.e., the Tories expelled Churchill for criticizing Chamberlain’s policies against free trade in 1904; Syria’s Assad forced the Lebanese parliament to extend the puppet Lahoud’s term in 2004) is not mentioned at all. 3. It is proven that a solid check-and-balance mechanism is vital because it’s part of our Filipino culture to abuse power. In 1972, Martial Law was declared with the ultimate aim of one-party unicameral parliament without term limits – and the Senate, media, political opposition, freedom of assembly, the Constitution and the Supreme Court were abolished. The President used anarchy as an excuse for emergency powers to cancel the 1973 presidential elections. In 2006, Martial Law was about to be declared with the ultimate aim of a one-party unicameral parliament without term limits – but the U.S. Government intervened. Instead, there was E.O. 464 (against the Senate); Proclamation 1017 (against media and political opposition); the Calibrated Pre-emptive response (against freedom of assembly) and the People’s Initiative signature drive (against the Constitution) – but the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional. An attempt to place an administration ally as the next Chief Justice backfired. An attempt to postpone the 2007 elections also failed. An attempt to convene a Constituent Assembly without the Senate nor even 2/3 of the House ended disastrously. The gameplan now is a Constitutional Convention with last-term administration congressmen and their allies as delegates. A clear and present danger is a plebiscite fraud given the Comelec’s track record. Time will reveal if the President will use anarchy as an excuse for emergency powers to cancel the 2010 presidential elections – or even the 2007 midterm. 4. It is proven that one-party unicameral parliaments always result in corrupt dictatorships – and always end in violent revolutions. This was the fate of Sukarno of Indonesia; U Nu of Burma; Mirza of Pakistan; Peron of Argentina; Batista of Cuba; Selassie of Ethiopia; Somoza of Nicaragua; Duvalier of Haiti; Bao Dai and Ngo Din Diem of Vietnam; and Saddam of Iraq, to name a few. If Marcos was toppled peacefully, it is because Cory Aquino was the clear winner in the snap polls; the coup leaders were trapped in Camp Crame ; and Cardinal Sin was still alive. It should be noted the “The World’s Biggest Thief” in the Guinness Records is the head of a one-party unicameral parliament without term limits. On the other hand, multi-party bicameral parliaments are historical evolutions of monarchies (i.e., France , Italy , Spain , Thailand ). Subsequently, their former colonies adapted that form (i.e., Britain ’s India , Singapore , Malaysia and Australia ). It is self-evident that their success lies in their people and not their system. 5. It is proven that presidential-bicameral is the most effective political structure in history. The U.S. Founding Fathers framed their Constitution using Montesquieu’s ideas of a two-house Legislative branch and an untouchable Judiciary in 1787. Since then, the United States has progressed to be the richest and most powerful nation in the world. With the same Constitution for over two centuries, none of their 43 Presidents ever tried to perpetuate himself in power. If we hear about their mistakes, like the Abu Ghraib and FEMA fiascoes, it is because they regard freedom of the press and the right to demand accountability as sacred trusts. This is why Americans are proud to be Americans. 6. It is proven that the presidential-bicameral form is perfect for the Philippines . With a directly elected president and an independent two-house Congress, our country has achieved unprecedented economic prosperity and political stability under Presidents Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal, and the early years of Marcos. The downward spiral began during Marcos’ legally doubtful second term: ambition blinded him – and he summoned the nightmares of Absolute Power that still haunt us even after more than three decades. But in a larger sense, the most compelling argument against parliamentarism is the Arroyo administration itself. A public office is not a blank cheque, but the Cha-cha Express is like Mussolini’s Fascist train: it runs over people just to arrive on time. President Gloria Arroyo has already backtracked, but she should also realize that word of honor is non-negotiable. A President “has one profound duty to the nation: to exert moral leadership,” to quote the great U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. A President “should stand, visible and uncompromising, for what is right and decent -- in government, in the business community, in the private lives of the citizens. For decency is one of the main pillars of a sound civilization. An immoral nation invites its own ruin.” Photo of Batasang Pambansa courtesy of

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why Children Should Learn To Love Books

Literature is a world in itself As William Lyon Phelps wrote in his essay Owning Books, “You can at any moment converse with Socrates or Shakespeare or Carlyle or Dumas or Dickens or Shaw or Barrie or Galsworthy.” Although he made it clear that no company can really compare with live human beings, he points out that serious reading offers a perspective that shows men at their finest. “There is no doubt that in these books you see men at their best. They wrote for you…You are necessary to them as an audience is to an actor.” The development of reading as a habit elevates a man. He has a priceless advantage, like having a compass in the middle of a stormy sea. A young child nurtured by Dr. Seuss and Enid Blyton inevitably discovers the Hardy Boys and Huckleberry Finn. Time moves like an eagle atop mist-capped mountains, and one day, that child will find himself unhesitatingly plunging headlong into law jurisprudence or medical encyclopedias or volumes of engineering marvels, not unlike an expedition leader trailblazing a forest armed with a sharply-honed Swiss knife. As they say, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Nobody knows who this fellow Jack is, but the common denominator between a successful and a meaningful life is hard work tempered by period of rest and recreation. There is scientific basis for this: the body needs time for stress-recovery, aside from sleep. There is no such thing as mental fatigue. Unless acted upon by an outside force, the brain will continue to perform at peak efficiency, even unto old age, provided that proper stimulation is induced. And that’s how reading retards aging, as proven by countless seniors who have remained productive and interesting by retaining this sense of wonder at discovering new things in life. Photo of child reading courtesy of

Monday, May 11, 2009

What Are We Filipinos Like?

Manila – We Filipinos are famous for being hospitable. Sadly, we are also major-league nitpickers so “hospitality” can sometimes mean “spit” and “hostility.” The Philippines, Pearl of the Orient Seas, a gathering of 7,107 fiesta island (when it’s low tide) – the nation symbolized by the Three Stars and The Sun – is…strange. The Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists in Indonesia want to live in Mindanao. The people of Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon want to live in Manila. And the people of Manila want to live in America. We Filipinos have no racial discrimination. But there are those of us who, when we see white (Caucasians), we see green ($$$!). But then again, some of us are really color-blind, like that fellow who painted the National Museum a ghastly yellow. We Filipinos say, “We would rather die than become a U.S. colony!” Americans say, “And who on earth told you we want you, hmm?” We Filipinos love music. We express ourselves by singing, so much so that “Birthday parties” now means videooke and Red Horse beer ‘til the sun rises. Ask us, “Hey, what about the people who want to go to sleep but can’t because you’re too noisy?” We’d answer you, “What about them?” Naturally, we have public sound systems in our park. An American friend asked me why Rizal Park – the national park of the Philippines – always play American music. I said that’s because the first Filipino who wins a Grammy Award will become President. This partly explains why there are rumors flying around that IBO Junior Welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will run for President. (A note about Manny: we Filipinos love him but we don’t trust the people around him – the politicians who are using him for media mileage and his advisers who tell him to sign two contracts simultaneously.) At the same time, we Filipinos hate silence. That’s why we have radios even in libraries. I remember finishing Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code at the National Library with Guy Sebastian’s “Angels Brought Me Here” in the background. I’m writing this at the Manila City Library, and the song is “Desert Moon” by Styx.

National Museum of the Philippines photo courtesy of

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Are You Willing To Be Possessed By An Inter-Dimensional Entity?

There was a time when Ruth Montgomery seemed the epitome of skepticism. She was an award-winning journalist – a syndicated political columnist and foreign correspondent; even having been elected president of the women’s National Press Club in the United States. “But a good reporter,” as she once told the audience in one of her consciousness-raising and life-changing talks, “must also have an open mind, and little by little, through my extensive investigations, I finally became convinced of the validity of the communication between the living and the so-called dead, who have simply moved on into a different vibratory level of eternal life.” These profound words came from one of the most celebrated telepaths of the 20th century, sort of like a female version of Prof. Charles Xavier in X-Men, and the incredible story of her life and transformation finally saw print in Ruth Montgomery: Herald of the New Age, written by Montgomery herself along with Joanne Garland. It is subtitled “The spiritual odyssey of the world’s psychic authority,” and is published by Doubleday & Co. Her journey into the unknown began when Arthur Ford, another celebrated medium, told her that she had the inherent talent to do automatic writing, “a mysterious process in which one first meditates and then, still in the alpha state that it produces, holds a pencil lightly poised above a sheet of paper.” Why, one might ask, should she believe in stuff like this? She put all her reportorial tricks to work and realized the Ford’s spirit contact, an entity named Fletcher, made other revelations – including intimate details about her deceased father – that “proved stunningly accurate in every detail.” Automatic writing sounds easy and even sounds like fun. The first time she tried it, disappointingly, nothing happened, “and after giving it a few minutes each morning I would throw down the pencil and dash off to the Capitol or the white House to earn an honest living.” However, on the tenth day, “some otherworldly force of Herculean strength seemed to grasp my hand, and although my eyes were closed, it propelled the pencil into circles and figure eights with such pressure that I thought the lead would break. I could not have dropped it if I tried.” The next day, a friend who was more versed in the supernatural told her excitedly, “That’s the way it always begins. It’s their way of expressing joy that contact at last has been made. Be sure to continue it.” Continue she did. The following morning, the pencil wrote messages from Ruth’s father and her other relatives who have passed away. Eventually, an entity named “Lily” declared that he would now take over as Ruth’s spirit mentor. Since then, “beautiful philosophy began to flow through the racing pencil.” One morning, the forces that were doing the writing, which Ruth called her “Guides,” announced emphatically, “Go to your typewriter! We think now we have developed the strength to type through you!” As her physic life flowered, she began to wonder how in the world she could reconcile that to her professional life. Her career was oriented towards international- and political affairs, and her byline has gained respect in what is virtually a man’s world. Even presidents called her by her first name. These messages were so powerful and inspiring and they truly deserve to be told to the entire world. But the source is highly unorthodox, to say the least. Ruth’s doubts were elegantly voiced by her mother: “Don’t write that book or they will think you’re a kook!” What were those messages anyways? The Guides strongly endorsed the power of prayer and of love, the great need for the soul to recognize its true nature, and the absolute truth of eternal life. An unforgettable lesson was learned along the way. Ruth suffered agonizing back spasms wrought by the grueling itinerary of the 1960 presidential showdown between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. “It was the middle of a thrilling campaign; my timing couldn’t have been worse.” At the hospital she grousing, but instantly felt sorry for a patient with pneumonia who, said the nurse, would probably die in a matter of hours. Ruth prayed for the stranger – and he miraculously got well. Startled, Ruth has proved it to herself that earnest prayers in behalf of others are indeed answered, even if self-centered ones are not. At the time, Ruth was working for media giant Hearst, which owned International News Service. When INS merged with United Press to form United Press International, she was one of the few whop were retained, and she got promoted as Chief Washington correspondent. At the same time, “I had been caught up in an exciting new world that had nothing to do with politics or world affairs. I was baffled, thrilled and puzzled by that intoxicating realm that seemed to lie beyond our three-dimensional world.” In the end, of course, it was Ruth’s judgment call. The messages were multiplying, and she decided to reveal them to all. The books “aroused a tremendous outpouring of enthusiasm from people of every religious faith, including members of the clergy.” The public found the revelations fascinating and comforting at the same time. “They helped me to see my Christian faith in a new light,” goes one testimonial. Ruth Montgomery, who was highly instrumental in the spread and popularity of the essence of spiritual evolution, together with the Higher Powers she channel, say decisively and authoritatively that there is no death. “When our bodies die,” she tells her audience, “we simply change our energy frequencies. The ultimate goal, for all of us, is to live such loving, helpful lives that ultimately we may be reunited with out Creator. We began when the Creator cast off the sparks that became our souls. He gave us free will, and as we, misused that precious gift, errors inevitable crept in, but now is the opportunity for a new beginning. The New Age to come, the Age of Aquarius, is foretold to be an era of such love and understanding that those of us, who will be here to experience it, whether in this lifetime or the next, will indeed be blessed. And thank you all so much! You’re wonderful!” Ruth Montgomery photo courtesy of

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Can You Be The Best In Your Field?

Lance Armstrong, instead of resting on his laurels, is maximizing his historic 7 Tour de France championships to raise funds for cancer research by leading the tour Down Under in Australia in Jan. 2009. A professional is measured by the results he delivers. Having an emotional commitment to superior performance is one of the ways to “power your reputation and career along the road to success,” says Tom Peters, co-author of the classic In Search of Excellence -- which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Here are the others. Remind others about your strong points. The trick is to highlight your track record with self-aggrandizement. This was how Barack Obama won over Hillary. “Done subtly, self-promotion is a potent tool,” says Peters. Share the credits. Secure people don’t hog the limelight. That’s why filmmaker DJ Caruso was telling the media how proud he was of Shia La Beouf’s success when they reunited in Eagle Eyes after Disturbia. “Giving credit costs you nothing and nets you big time,” says Peters. Don’t forget gratitude. Showing people how much you appreciate them adds to your character. Even during the height of Clarisss Ocampo’s popularity as star witness in the Estrada trial, she still found time to thank her former teachers at St. Scholastica. “Positive reinforcemen goes a long way,” says Peters. Collect small victories. Positive acts accumulate good karma. It was actually the anecdotes in the newly-released The Blazing Meteor comic books that made the late President Ramon Magsaysay an immortal legend. “Small wins are a large plus,” says Peters. Discover hidden levers. Winners don’t take anything for granted. Sebastian Coe, chair of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympics, is already excited about their idea of mobilizing volunteers. “Power often lies in the details,” says Peters. Upgrade your Rolodex. It’s about winning friends by proving your worth. Charice Pempengco’s incredible singing talent astounded the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres – not to mention Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. “The most potent people I’ve known,” says Peters, “have been the best networkers.” Behave professionally. Just mind your GMRC and you’ll be fine. Paul Giamatti has evolved from supporting roles to becoming an Emmy-winning lead actor for John Adams but he still remains modest and self-deprecating. “Learn to hold your tongue,” says Peters, “and don’t ever embarrass folks in public.” Do your homework. A little research helps your prepare for the unexpected. Remember the 680 Home Appliances commercial where Rod Navarro was making his pitch to a lady – who turns out to be the owner of the store? Peters quotes fellow management guru Harvey Mackay: “Know more about your client, your boss, your co-worker, than the next person, and you’ve got a leg up.” Make a name for yourself on the outside. Your achievements after office hours make you formidable within the company. “Once you’re indispensable to outsiders, says Peters, “insiders dare not lay a glove on you.” Irene Cara takes the idea all the way: “Remember my name – Fame! I’m gonna live forevah! I’m gonna learn how to fly – high! (Photo courtesy of

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Favorite Stephen King Novel

Somebody once said that nothing is original under the sun. I think it was Mark Twain and he probably got the idea from somebody else.

In novels, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the inspiration for Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot – he said so himself – but that’s where the comparisons end.

The Master of the Macabre infuses new blood (pardon the pun) into the vampire genre. It all started with the morbid dinner-table question: If vampires infest a small town in the middle of nowhere, would the authorities find them?

The answer is apparently a chilling "No!" as vampires invade the town of Jerusalem’s Lot before the citizens even knew what hit them.

Stephen King is not the greatest literary phenomenon in the 20th century for nothing. Salem’s Lot is a feast of vampires – both literal and allegorical. Evil comes from without and within.

One of the most thought-provoking scenes is the battle between the vampire and the priest. Father Callahan was defeated and the vampire told him why – because he doubted his faith. King highlights the lessons we tend to forget at out own peril: no demons can conquer us from without unless we let ourselves be conquered from within.

The King of Horror – a baseball fan – throws another curve-ball at our complacency: the guy who saves the town (the neighboring towns, at least) is an outsider and was unapologetically treated as such. Ben Mears is a writer who rented the abandoned Marsten House. It raised the eyebrows of the locals but it turns out that the haunted house was already rented to somebody else. It also turns out that the occupant is the vampire himself.

Stephen King summons us to his world of make-believe like a supernatural Pied Pier, but we go nonetheless because we want to believe. Conjuring up a terrifying atmosphere has become an art in King’s deft hand. When the delivery man unknowingly takes the vampire’s coffin – while the night was falling – we want to scream until we’re reminded that we are safely away from the action. But we keep coming back.

Stephen King’s vampires are easier to kill than those of Anne Rice’s. For one thing, a wooden stake driven into their hearts can actually turn them into dust in the wind like the fellow from Transylvania. But it doesn’t necessarily render them less deadly.

Vampires are more lethal than ghosts because they infect their victims to become just like them. It’s like level marketing but your investment is your life and your product is death. Apply that to Jerusalem’s Lot and what you get is a town populated by the Undead.

What you don’t know won’t hurt you because ignorance is bliss, that’s why vampires hypnotize you. The enemy feeds on your fear, but they are at their most powerful once they take away your will. That’s a traditional belief in folklore – and also a lesson in life.

There is a tradition of dismissing horror stories as mere popular entertainment. But that’s exactly the point: tales of the supernatural are popular precisely because they entertain the general public. This elitism can give literary critics a bad rep. That Stephen King is a first-rate writer is no question. The trouble is that his novels are too famous – right in the smack of the mainstream.

About two or three generations of teenagers and young adults grew up with King’s books such as the phenomenal breakthrough novel Carrie, the cult-favorite The Dark Tower trilogy, the epic The Stand, and of course, Salem’s Lot. Stephen King has become synonymous with terrifying bestsellers and prodigious output, averaging two major thousand-page wonders a year.

Even before John Grisham and Michael Crichton entered the scene, King was already writing successful novels that are instantly adapted into becoming successful movies, like the critically acclaimed Misery starring James Caan and Academy Award Winner Kathy Bates. Salem’s Lot has also been turn into a movie and was recently revived as a U.S. TV miniseries.

Adaptations, however, can never compete with literary works because the imagination of the readers takes the driver’s seat while going full blast with whatever the author springs up from his magic hat. When you visualize a situation where your neighbor is trying to suck your blood, you get really intrigued about what happens next. Only a top-class writer can do that to you.

Photo courtesy of SodaHead.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Be A Happy Filipino and Win 200,000 Pesos

Manila – The search is on for “The most cheerful and optimistic Filipino who has remarkably exhibited resilience amid life’s challenges.” Cebuana Llhuillier Insurance Solutions is giving away PhP200,000 ($4,000+) for the grand prize winner of the nationwide Search For The Happiest Pinoy in the country, and PhP25,000 ($500+) for four other finalists each, and that’s no joke. A contestant should be a Filipino resident but he cannot nominate himself. He (or his/her nominator) should also show how the contestant “positively impact the lives around him,” says Philippe J. Llhuillier, Philippine Ambassador To Italy and chairman of the Llhuillier Group. There is no age limit but the contestant should be at least 18. Winners will be announced in October.