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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Acting Out His Script


"Erap had been too busy playing the role of 'unifier' (kuno)..."

True enough to a pre-conceived scheme, former president Erap has officially announced his candidacy for president (yet again). Not a surprise though! Way back on his house arrest days when the Arroyo administration was in a quagmire of scandals, Erap was in a mode of reconciliation having toned down his stance on Gloria. The deafening silence from his camp and an unusually muzzled criticism of the administration merited suspicion of the highest order haha! And thereon the script was acted out with flawless choreography.

Our hero eventually got pardoned thanks to a panicky Gloria who was all too-consumed by her own survival. However, history will be the judge if that infamous decision would play a role in shaping our country's future political landscape. For as long as trapos get the stranglehold of the country's political system, no landmark corruption case will ever be won for the Filipino people. When Erap was convicted of plunder the Filipino nation had a rare taste of national pride; that a country notoriously associated with corruption in its system was able to convict a former president for large-scale corruption. But just as pundits would guess the saga did not end there- albeit anti-climactic.

Subsequently, Erap in all his glory did not waste time savoring his new-found (undeserved) liberty. Campaign sorties would follow in different regions of the country proclaiming his vindication while gently biting back his pardoner. Throngs of supporters could be seen cheering or perhaps worshiping their hero's exploits as handful of candies would then rain on them - to reward them with their act of idolatry.

As events started to unravel, Erap had been too busy playing the role of 'unifier' (kuno) from among the ranks of the opposition. He however warned that should the opposition fail to choose a common candidate then he would be forced to run..? What the ....! Another stroke of craftsmanship by an actor and politician! So the script went smoothly...as you and I would have expected it.

Judging from his media stunts, no amount of legal hurdles or bad publicity would ever deter the former president from reaching the cinematic climax his role would have demanded. This time there is no stopping Erap- not even the seemingly conclusive Dacer-Corbito case. His team with all its mighty arsenal is determined to shake off all impending threats of disqualification... and so the story goes.

The 2010 presidential election will undoubtedly generate tremendous excitement. It would certainly serve as a barometer as to whether the electorate has grown with time or has remained inconceivably poor in judgment. While every protagonist gears up for a huge battle in surveys, it is also highly anticipated that serious fireworks will come from every direction no matter what the cost.

Now it is for you people to decide about your future. You are and have always been entitled to your decision. You have been offered various plates on the table. It is for you to grab which one you think offers nourishment to your being. If you failed yet again with your poor judgment, then who cares? Don't ever go to the street and scream. Get a life and hang!


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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Will his fame be an asset or liability?


"They say a coin has always two sides and that's beyond argument."

I'm just curious, do these lolas really gloat on seeing Willie in person? Eighty or ninety year-old something lolas sometimes weep while hugging Willie. He must be a god on TV! The magic without question is so obvious.

I really don't have a piece to write. I just can't keep from laughing! Today his guests are the OPM singers such as Rico J, Marco S, Nonoy Z and the likes of Eric Santos. And mind you, he even takes a swipe at how these icons fared bad with their album sales compared to his. Rico J was quick though to rebutt saying he really wanted to figure out how to copy Willie's amazing voice. Funny huh!

Till now it remains a mystery whether Willie is going to throw his hat on the political arena. More than a month from now we will come to know. He certainly could be a big factor in Manny Villar's candidacy. Multitudes of Willie's fans would surely not fail him. To them, he is a symbol of hope and a better future. He would certainly fight for their interests and well-being because he is pro-poor; judging from his compassionate face while engaging the contestants in the normally 'over-acting yet heart-piercing' segment Willie of fortune.

They say a coin has always two sides and that's beyond argument. I wish there is no other side of him. But do you think his antics of intimidation to his staff will not go unnoticed? The downside with us TFC subscribers is that more than twice we could chance upon watching Wowowee on a daily basis. And everyday there is new spontaneous 'kabastusan' or rudeness and arrogance or maybe some sort of bullying that are way off-limits. Some helpless victims especially the dancers would just blush while putting up a brave smile which is imperative of them. He would always pick on them on any given situation. I think a schooled and a little educated normal human being will be able to dissect what I am talking about.

As a citizen of the Philippines I think it is also my prerogative to say what I ought to say. My thoughts are my thoughts and I am entitled to it. I may not represent the collective sentiments of all but it is my wish that we have the same passion for the well-being of our country. And it is my conclusion that any candidate who jumps on the popularity of a celebrity and uses them to his advantage is deemed a trapo.

What about the orange infomercial on the TFC at the expense of the distressed OFWs? And it is paid for by friends? Who do they think they're fooling? My boss before had told me that leaders may be good or bad but they are leaders and we ought to obey them. Okay fine! That makes sense. So the collective consequence is borne by all...no questions asked!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reminiscing Masskara Festival


"I can't help but sometimes reminisce on that awesome experience I had in 1988."

Sales were unusually brisk those days. All my peddled merchandise from cigarettes, candies, chips to boiled eggs just disappear so fast that I lost count of the number of times I went to buy goods for replenishment. In my mind, there is no time for getting carried away with the revelries that I come across. I was a kid then when I stayed with my sister's family in Bacolod. They make their living as sidewalk vendors. Normally, we would take turns manning our small stand day and night so as not to lose sales opportunity. Our small cigarette stand was ideally located right in front of the Corazon Locsin Memorial Regional Hospital a.k.a. Western Visayas Regional Hospital at the heart of Lacson Street. That was in 1988 the very first ever Masskara Festival Celebration I had ever witnessed, and coincidentally the grandest of all editions, for it was the 50th founding of the cityhood of Bacolod.

For several days the entire Lacson Street, the main thoroughfare in the city was closed to traffic for the seemingly non-stop float parade and countless other spectacular street parades showcasing various faces depicting life in Negros. What gave the celebration all the more unparalled in extravagance was that, it coincided with the golden anniversary of the cityhood of Bacolod. The festival was evidently well-planned perhaps a couple of years ahead. The experience was so amazing. The participation of all towns and cities in the province had amounted to a fierce competition for the most beautiful float each with distinct theme and peculiarity.

Movie stars and countless celebrities take turns each day in the city's public plaza to entertain people. Even PBA players did not want to be outshone (appearance fee is known to be hefty). Evangelists from other parts of the world were not also denied of the opportunity to preach the gospel. There were Koreans, Americans and African evangelists with specific nights assigned to them. I remember attending one night with Wanda Casper as the speaker.  Ray-Ann Fuentes and  Carla Martinez were present and sang gospel songs. So when I saw Carla as a villainess on a certain TFC program, I hated her for her character ha ha! I was poised to ask her if "did she backslide?"

On the exciting part, the highlight of the festival would always be the competition in the street dance parade. I may have not gone to other equally renowned festivals, but I would say the Masskara Festival of Bacolod epitomizes pure revelry and the spectacular show it offers make it the most awesome and liveliest festival of all. A wave of beautiful and meticulously crafted masks donned by  dancers from different participating groups  becomes the single most astonishing attraction. Their costumes look ostentatious and whimsical  you would think the sun would cease to shine on them the next day ('though hyperbolic). It seemed to me their life's savings had been expended solely on their costumes. People who flock the streets local or foreigners would get carried away with the beats and sounds that you would see them revel in a care-free mode.

Lastly, everyone's most awaited event is the culmination night when the Miss Masskara Festival is crowned. The delegates come from different towns and cities, universities and colleges and component barangays of Bacolod. It is a grand showcase of beauty and talent because the most feared Q&A is being asked in Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, so that every candidate will have her fair share of composed and honest answer not wanting to scream out the perpetual cause of  (already battered) street children. Thus, a beautiful and talented lass from a remote highland town stands a chance against more articulate candidates from prestigious universities in Bacolod. Sounds fair huh?

As this year's Masskara Festival nears its highlight, I can't help but sometimes reminisce on that awesome experience I had in 1988. Though I was so preoccupied with my trade that time, I could still visualize the entire experience. The public plaza filled with kiosks selling different kinds of merchandise: from mementos, unique Negrense products, beer, lechon manok and even the ubiquitous prostis roaming around were some of the unique features of the city. How time flies and it has been 21 years. That time I did not have my clear goal in life yet. I was just happy to count my daily sales and would just go straight to Gaisano Dept. Store to buy a shirt from my commission. How funny!


Link:Bacolod Masskara Festival

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Before It's Too Late... [Blog Action Day 2009]


"Waste segregation, cutting down on personal carbon emission, cutting down on electric consumption or planting trees on our backyards are but few simple things that we are capable of doing."


Time is not on our side in this battle. We might be too disconnected from the things we normally don't get into. But could this be too late for us to appease our nemesis? Don't we really have a choice but to confront our oppressor? Folks, when Nature is on her smashing spree we don't seem to be aware that as a collective entity we are the ones responsible for all these unimaginable destruction that has befallen us. Nature will have her own way of reminding us that we could have been spared had we taken time nurturing her.

Humanity in general has been so preoccupied with things beneficial to him. Everything that has been created and invented is for man's use and comfort. Rich nations and poor alike benefit from technology that seems peaceful but in the end has a negative impact on our nature. The greatest polluters in the world notably the US and China are not doing enough to alleviate the global effect of the change in climate pattern. As a result, the collective effect is being borne by all. Why can't they do anything about it? To just ignore the tangible change in earth's landscape is a sheer arrogance by the rich nations. The rapid melting of the ice sheets in the North and South Pole, and the rising sea level are just scary scenarios our gut would surely recognize as impending threats to humanity. But why are we too slow to act? Because our greed and selfishness are just too strong to resist!

Poor countries are likely the most susceptible to the effects of climate change. Just like the Philippines which has recently borne the brunt of typhoons with devastations not seen in living memory. The floodings in the Metropolitan Manila can be roughly compared to the Great Flood of the century. The sight of people from all walks of life rich and poor alike being swept away is a horrifying scene; proof that the wrath of nature this magnitude is not just fiction. It happens when we think it's least possible to happen. And the destruction that it could cause may take several years to rehabilitate much less to restore.

Each one of us has his or her own contribution to the climate change therefore it is only fitting and proper that all of us should be active in neutralizing its adverse effect. Waste segregation, cutting down on personal carbon emission, cutting down on electric consumption or planting trees on our backyards are but few simple things that we are capable of doing. Anything that is a factor to climate change should be in a spotlight and let's start figuring out what we can do to combat its impact. We can start so doing by teaching our young people, our peers and immediate relatives very basic ways on how to care for our environment. After all we are only steward of this great gift, a shared gift meant to pass on to the next generations to come.



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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lessons From Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy)


"I don't demand that they be sages to foretell the scale of Ondoy's fury..."

The past two weeks have been very disturbing as the world witnessed a series of grim scenarios across the Pacific territories. Notably, the recent calamities that had struck the Philippines courtesy of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. It's hard to comprehend how a poor country like the Philippines would be able to cope from the aftermath of these disasters. Notwithstanding the collective efforts by various sectors from all corners, the prospect of getting aids delivered to the victims remains a hard task. How many weeks or months will it necessitate until our unfortunate compatriots would be able to rise up from the rubbles of despair and desperation?

One positive thing that Filipinos can be credited though is their unwavering resilience and optimism that should be indispensable in these trying times. My heart and mind go out to the victims especially the old, the sick and the children. On a personal note, I may be lucky or shall I say blest because I have no immediate relatives experiencing this awful predicament lest I would have been a very restless soul. Watching their situations on television has become a painful and unbearable experience.

These natural phenomena cannot be questioned as the Philippines is naturally prone to such. But could the damage have been lessened if we only had enough preparations? I think it could have been so. But why our government officials did not anticipate this worst scenario to occur? And that they have become oblivious to the fact that these events are forthcoming? Is it because the culture of corruption has first inundated our social fabrics that the sitting government officials themselves have become the perpetrators of a disaster this magnitude?

In relation to this, I strongly agree with Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's call for these concerned officials to be prosecuted by law for dereliction of duty and so forth. The repercussion from this terrible tragedy could have somewhat been alleviated had government funds been properly disposed of and not gone to the already swollen pockets and bank accounts of our unscrupulous government officials. We always claim that Filipinos are never short of talent and brilliant minds. And why no one, no one had forewarned the public or the government officials that an unthinkable disaster is imminent because of the continued conversion of supposed floodways into residential settlements? It could be because the bribe of the rich real estate developers are too powerful to resist? Maybe! Maybe not. But who's to blame?

I don't demand that they be sages to foretell the scale of Ondoy's fury, but my point is the damages and the loss of lives could have been minimized had we done the right preparations and had we taken heed from the urban planners that a disaster is impending because of a flawed dynamics in urban settlement. Thousands of families are still grappling to survive in the evacuation centers. I just cannot imagine how to exist in such awful conditions with the stench, the noise and diseases all over hanging around your head. The children for the most part are also the most vulnerable from hunger and diseases let alone the trauma that could be haunting them for the rest of their lives.

I wish we are strong enough, for us to be able to rise up from this abysmal conditions that our country is suffering from right now. I wish our human frailty and vulnerability do not get the better of us. I wish we have leaders who are genuinely passionate enough to care for their people. Leaders who will not only think of enriching themselves upon assuming office but have the right attitude of a public servant.

If we could only hear the sighs and moans of the destitute in our country, they might sound telling us that enough is enough. Yes we have had enough but lessons learned and not exercised are deemed useless. Sad to say, the poor have always been cunningly used in some distinct political slogans that have been proven effective in elections but behind that heavenly sounding pro-poor promises lie a sinister genuine motive that would deprive the poor themselves and rob them of a better future. It is for us Filipinos to decide about our future. We have always the choice. Let's use democracy to our advantage. We have been blest to live in a society where freedom is not a commodity but an inherent right of every citizen. Why can't we be capable of effecting change in our country? Of course we can, and it starts within us individually.


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Silay City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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