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Monday, March 31, 2008

Of Reason and Passion

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either of your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (London: Mandarin, 1991), pp. 59-60.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Disorder in the Court"

I got this in my mail some time last year and would have totally forgotten all about it had not insan Rae Ann Banggawan forwarded it to my gmail account just a few hours ago. For those who haven't read this yet, enjoy. For those who already have, well just fake the merriment by spelling out L-O-L. I wonder if some wit out there is about to publish a Pinoy version of the book?


These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?

WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.


ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?

WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"

ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?

WITNESS: My name is Susan!


ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-one-year old, how old is he?

WITNESS:Uh, he's twenty-one.


ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS: You're kidding me, right?


ATTORNEY: She had three children, is that correct?


ATTORNEY: How many were boys?


ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

WITNESS: Are you s____n' me? Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?


ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?

WITNESS: By death.

ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?


ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?

WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.

ATTORNEY:Was this a male or female?



ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice, which I sent to your attorney?

WITNESS:No, this is how I dress when I go to work.


ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?

WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?


ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

WITNESS: Huh... Are you qualified to ask that question?


ATTORNEY: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?



ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?

WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.

ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?

WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!


ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?

WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?


ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?


ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?


ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?


ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?


ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?

WITNESS: Yes, it is possible he could have been alive and practicing law.


"Surfing" by Burnham Lake

internet.jpgMimo Corporation, whatever it is and whoever owns it, deserves all Baguio denizens' kudos as it etches its mark on Baguio City's "pine tree of fame" for equipping Burnham Park with WiFi capability. This week's issue of the Baguio Midland Courier notes the significance of this development thus:

Burnham Park is the first premier public park in the entire country to become an "e-tourism park" following the launching of a free WiFi or wireless fidelity Internet access at the park lake last March 27.*burnham lake 02 2009

The Park forms part of the now sparse greenery that serves as the city's "lungs." Now, if only the city government will do something about the odious cigar smoke permeating not only the "alveoli" of this tourist spot but also the lungs of park goers, "surfing" by (or even on) the lake would be much more enjoyable.

* Harley Palangchao, "Burnham Park is Now Free Wireless Internet Access Site," Baguio Midland Courier, 30 March 2008, p. 2.

Free ESL Videos for Kids

Free video lessons for kindergarten/elementary-level English learners are available here!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cordi Books @ "Project Gutenberg"

Looking for a free downloadable copy of Fay Cooper-Cole's The Tinguians or of Albert Ernest Jenks' The Bontoc Igorot? Follow these links:

Also available for easy download are some other Filipiniana works like Philippine Folk Tales, Doctrina Christiana, The Indolence of the Filipino, Mabini's Decalogue to Filipinos, Anting-Anting and other Strange Tales of the Filipinos, Filipino Popular Tales, A Little Book of Filipino Riddles, etc. (key in "Philippines" or "Filipinos" to the search bar).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wasted Potentials

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

- Thomas Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (14th stanza), in Mary Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter & Jon Stallworthy, eds., The Norton Anthology of Poetry: Shorter Fourth Edition (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997), p. 367.

Re: Balbalasang

Just in case someone out there like Mr. Long Henson needs more information about our "little paradise" Balbalasang, may I refer her/him to the following links for photos, satellite/site maps, etc.:

The SPMSAA site is maintained by Romy Tangbawan, a native of Balbalasang who currently serves as an editor to the Jeddah-based ArabNews. A dear friend, he is one of the several persons I know who is genuinely passionate about the preservation and development of the Balbalasang National Park. If you're wondering how you can help save, maintain or develop one of the few remaining forest stands in the Philippines, you may write him @

But wait, there's more! <lol> Balbalan Mayor "Sonny" Mangaoang informed me last night via sms that should any visiting local or foreign tourist wish to get in touch with a focal person on tourism from the LGU of Balbalan, Reggie Wacas will be available. Reggie's email address and contact number are, +639295127324.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Special Summer Classes @ UPB

University of the Philippines Baguio is offering the following summer courses on Arts and Film, Performance Arts, and Language Teaching:

14-18 April

For Kids & Teens: Drawing and Cartooning, Digital Photography and Imaging, Portraiture, Creative Writing for Children, Children's Theater, Kiddie Broadcasting, Street Dance, Community Theater

For Teachers: Language Research for Teachers, Teaching Creative Writing, Theater as Pedagogy

21-25 April

For Kids & Teens: Acrylic Painting, Paper Arts, Short Film Making, Voice Technique & Song Interpretation, Batang Sining

For Teachers: Approaches to Language Studies, Comparative English and Korean Syntax

For more details, visit the UPB website or click the following links:



Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cult Suicide: Applewhite's "Heaven's Gate"

26 March 1997. "Heaven's Gate" founder Marshall Applewhite and 38 of his followers commit suicide iheavensgatelogo.jpgn Rancho Santa Fe, California by drinking a mix of phenobarbital and vodka and by wrapping their heads with plastic. As a "UFO Religion," the cult believed that their death was their gateway to salvation from the earth's imminent destruction or cleansing as their souls would be released and admitted to a spaceship supposedly hiding behind the Comet-Hale Bopp which appeared at that time.

Recommended Readings:

Corelli, Ray and Anne Gregor. 1997. "Killer Cults." McLean's. 110 (04 July): 44-45.

Raine, Susan. 2005. "Reconceptualising the Human body: Heaven's Gate and the Quest for Divine Transformation." Religion. 35 (April) : 98-117.

Streisand Betsy. 1997. "" US News & World Report. 122 (04 July): 26-31.

Literature or Facade?

The future of literature is inextricably dependent on the future of man. There can be no compromise. As Solzhenitsyn once so tellingly wrote:
Literature that is not the breath of contemporary society, that dares not transmit the pains and fears of that society, that dares not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers -- such literature does not deserve the name of literature; it is only a facade.

- Cecil Rajendra, "The Higher Duty of a Writer in a Developing Society," Cecil Rajendra Bibliography & Selected Profiles, Reviews, Essays (London: Boble L'ouverture Publications Ltd., 1989), pp. 75-76.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cory Aquino & Cecil Rajendra

cory1.jpgLearning about former President Corazon Aquino's colon cancer once again reminded me of the leveling power of human illness. Disease/illness is no respecter of persons. In relation to her unforgettable role in nation building after the collapse of the Marcoses' conjugal dictatorship, I am also reminded of famed Malaysian lawyer-poet Cecil Rajendra's tribute to her entitled, "Sign of the Turtle"*:

Your dream of fair elections
was the dream of innocents.

A housewife and mother
you had no experience
in those nefarious arts --
trickery/deception/murder --
too often the quintessence
of reptiles clinging to power.

Recipes for successful dicta-
torships cannot be found
on bookshelves or kitchen.
Amin, Pinochet, Duvalier
all gleaned their lessons
in the high chairs of office.

In your fight for Presidency
you had no ammunition

save a blazing integrity
-- a mere peashooter --
against the incumbent's arse-
nal of political chicanery.

But star, omen and angel
were always on your side, Cory.
That day he forced poor turtles
to vote for him, soothsayers

divined his worm-riddled ship
of state would soon turn turtle!

* Cecil Rajendra, Child of the Sun and Other Poems (London: Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, 1986), 42.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"World Tuberculosis Day"

Today is "World Tuberculosis Day." The World Health Organization says that one person gets infected with TB bacilli every second, that a third of the world's nearly 7-billion people suffer from it, and that "5-10% of people who are infected with TB bacilli (but who are not infected with HIV) become sick or infectious at some time during their life." Aargh! Ay-ayé!

Philippine-American War: Aguinaldo's Capture

23 March 1901 marks the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the 1st Philippine Republic, by General Frederick Funston and his four American officers through the aid of 80 Filipino soldiers belonging to a group of mercenaries called "Macabebe Scouts." (For a long, distinguished history of the Macabebe Scouts, see John Alan Larkin's article).

Recommended Reading: De Viana, Augusto. 2001. Apples & Ampalaya: Bittersweet Glimpses of the American Period in the Philippines (1898-1946). Manila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House.

"The Great Unfairness"

No one is exempt from tragedy or disappointment -- God himself was not exempt. Jesus offered no immunity, no way out of the unfairness, but rather a way through it to the other side. Just as Good Friday demolished the instinctive belief that this life is supposed to be fair, Easter Sunday followed with its startling clue to the riddle of the universe. Out of the darkness, a bright light shone. 217

- Yancey, Philip. 1988. Disappointment With God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Self-Flagellation in the Philippines

Self-Flagellation: Whether you are a Catholic viewing this activity as an expression of one's faith, an Evangelical who sees the futility of the exercise against the backdrop of Jesus' "once-for-all" atoning sacrifice, a skeptic who scoffs at the illusion of a metanarrative adhered to by religionists, a journalist nosing for a human interest story, or simply a disinterested party who loves to interrogate truth claims, footages like this is something you surely will ponder upon or interrogate further:

The tool used by my fellow Filipinos in this act of self-punishment is, of course, a far cry from the real Roman whip called "flagrum" described as follows:

[The flagrum]... had a sturdy handle to which were attached long leather thongs of varying lengths. Sharp jagged pieces of bone and lead were woven into them. The Jews were limited by their law to 40 lashes. The Pharisees, with their emphasis on strict adherene to the law, would limit their lashes to 39, so that if they miscounted they would not break their law. The Romans had no such limitations. (McDowell 1981, 43)

Quoting a physican, Dr. C. Truman Davis, Josh McDowell goes on to detail the havoc wreaked by the whip on the victim's body:

The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across [a person's] shoulders, back and legs. At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped. (ibid.)

Work cited: McDowell, Josh. 1981. The Resurrection Factor: Does the Historical Evidence Support the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Nashville, TX: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Friday, March 21, 2008

He Washed All the Disciples' Feet

I looked for a Bible translation that reads, 'Jesus washed all the disciples' feet except the feet of Judas,' but I couldn't find one. What a passionated moment when Jesus silently lifts the feet of his betrayer and washes them in a basin! Within hours the feet of Judas, cleansed by the kindness of the one he will betray, will stand in Caiaphas' court. 19

- Max Lucado. 1998. Just Like Jesus. Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.

Watching "The Passion" on a "Good Friday"

Watching Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" on a "Good Friday" once again paraded before me a constellation of questions most of which even the ablest Christian apologist finds difficult to answer, but which nevertheless do not really undermine the foundations of the Christian faith. The question on some aspects of the "Incarnation" or of the "Trinity," for instance, has engendered centuries of debates which have never been completely resolved until today -- a sobering reminder of the finitude of our intellect and the sheer magnitude of the unknown or what is beyond this plane of existence.

Watching the film also afforded me to reflect on the rank sectarianism that has rocked and split Christianity across two millennia, a sectarianism not really unlike that of Jesus' enemies -- especially the Pharisees.

It is sad to think that what started out as a faith system undergirded and wrapped by love ended up, to a large extent, being cemented by hatred; that the bridge of fellowship built by its founder has been transformed by many of its adherents into a wall that houses a chosen few or, to change the metaphor, a catapult that shatters communities of believers.

We are led to ask why, to borrow from Larry West, "churches [have to be] born in caves [only to] die in cathedrals." Or why, to use Hans Finzel's words, "organizations [have to] have this nasty habit of becoming institutions." Or why, to take Doug Foster's phrase, "iconoclasts [have to become] statesmen." Or why it has to be that, to quote from Jonathan Swift, "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."

I've had my share in the advocacy of sectarianism in Christianity. I tell you, finding one's way out of the dark, dank woods of sectarianism is both a heart-rending and a mind-wracking experience. Conversely, one's quest for meaning that leads one out of this proverbial forest can be an exhilarating experience, especially when this quest leads you to connect with your authentic self and heritage within a larger community of fellow "strugglers" in the faith.

In the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you my reflections on my attempt at transcending the theological canopy that had shaded my vision and, to a certain extent, cloistered my Christianity for years.


A Grammatically Challenged Love Story (again)

The Janina San Miguel hullaballoo (see previous post) prompted me to dig up my files for a forwarded email I received last year entitled, "A Grammatically Challenged Love Story." Let's snatch a few good laughs at ourselves in this parody of the type of English communication we Filipinos supposedly employ. Reading it anew, I realized I had also made (and perhaps will continue to make) grammatical mistakes similar to some of those featured in this made-up letter. My non-Filipino friends out there might get a headache reading through this, but I'm sure they will all agree that it is fun (translation help? write me :>):

We've been friends since a long time ago. We come from the same alma mother. Actually, our paths crossed one time on another. But it's only now that I gave him a second look. I realize that beauty is in the eyes. The pulpbits of my heart went fast, really fast. Cute pala siya!

And then, he came over with me. He said, "I hope you don't mine. Can I take your number?" Nag-worry ako. What if he doesn't give it back? He explained naman na it's so we could keep intact daw. Sabi ko, connect me if I'm wrong but are you asking me ouch? Nabigla siya. Sagot niya, "The!" Aba ! Parang siya pa ang galit! Persona ingrata!!! Ang kapal niya! I cried buckles of tears.

Na-guilty yata siya. Sabi niya, "Isipin mo na lang na this is a blessing in the sky." Irregardless daw of his feelings, we'll go ouch na rin. Now we're so in love! Mute and epidemic na ang past. Thanks God we swallowed our fried. Kasi, I'm 33 na and I'm running out the time.

After 2 weeks, he plopped the question. "Will you married me?" I'm still in a state of shocked. Kasi mantakin mo naman, when its rain, it's really fours talaga! This is true good to be true. So siyempre, I said yes. Love is a many splendor, di ba?

Pero nung inaayos ko na ang aming kasal, everything swell to pieces. Nag-di-dinner kami noon nang biglang sa harap ng aming table, may babaeng humirit ng, "Well, well, well. Look do we have here." What the fuss... The nerd ng babaeng yon! She said they were still too on.

So I told her, "Whatever is that means, cut me some slacks, 'no!" I didn't want this to get our hand kaya I had to sip it in the bud. She accused me of steeling her boyfriend. The nerd talaga! Ats if! I don't never want to portrait the role of the other woman. Gosh, tell her to the marines! I told her, "Please, you should to mine your own business!"

Who would believed her anyway? Dahil it's not my problem anymore but her problem anymore. Hmphf. Tumigil na rin siya ng panggugulo. Everything is coming up daisies! I'm so happy. Even my boyfriend said liketwice. He's so supportive. Sabi niya, "Look at is this way. She's out of our lives."

Kaya I advised you - take the risk! You can never can tell. Just burn the bridge when you get there. Life is shorts. If you make a mistake, well, just pray for the internal and external repose of your soul. I second emotion.

The Life of Metamorpha

The fundamentalists and most evangelicals focus on the Word, hint at community, and are virtually silent on the Spirit. Charismatic churches focus on the Spirit but often lose out on the Bible. "Liberal" movements have designed their mission around community but have relegated the Bible and the Spirit to a back burner. In our call for the universal church to be of one mind, we have been anything but, pointing fingers at each other because of the misuse of Scriptures, the absence of the Spirit, or a lack of mercy.

The life of metamorpha starts with an understanding that the Christian life is developmental and progressive -- a life with a person and not a life committed to a system. From there, this life understands that Jesus is about redeeming, and redemption means much more than we do on Sunday mornings. It is a journey of belief transformation. Our call is for new sight, that the old may go and the new may come to life. 43

- Strobel, Kyle. 2007. Metamorpha: Jesus as a Way of Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"How Deep the Father's Love for Us"

This is one of my favorite Gospel songs... may it inspire you in your spiritual journey!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Aum Shrinri Kyo Attack

20 March 1995. Eight people were initially killed and thousands more were injured as Sarin gas suddenly engulfed Tokyo's subway system. The crime was perpetrated by members of Shoko Asahara's millenarian cult, Aum Shrinri Kyo (The Supreme Truth Society), now renamed Aleph.

More on this cult in Rei Kimura's Aum Shrinrikyo: Japan's Unholy Sect and @ religionnewsblog.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"The Hole in Man"

And a Manjaguar.jpg sat alone, drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near to him and said, 'We do nvulture.jpgot like to see you so sad. Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.' The Man said, 'I want to have good sight.' The vulture replied, 'You shall have mine.' The Man said, 'I want to be strong.' The jaguar said, 'You shall be strong like me.' Then the Man said, 'I long to know the secrets of the earth.' The serpent replied, 'I will show them to you.' And so it went with all the animals.

And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left. Then the owl said to the other animals, 'Now the Man knows much, he'll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid.' The snake_3.jpgdeer said, 'Thowl.jpge Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop.' But the owl replied, 'No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill.' It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, 'I am no more and I have nothing left to give.'

- from Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto"

Gregory IX & Leo X

19 March. This day marks the reign of two Popes, Ugolino da Segni or Gregory IX (19 Mar 1227 – 22 Aug 1241) Giovanni de Medici or Leo X (11 Dec 1475 – 01 Dec 1521). Gregory IX is remembered primarily for establishing the Dominican-supervised Papal Inquisition and for canonizing Francis of Assissi, Anthony of Padua and Dominic. Leo X’s, on the other hand, is tied to the rise of the Protestant Reformation which was partly a reaction against his decision “to sell church offices and indulgences in order to pay off debts incurred” for the putting up of St. Peter’s Basilica and other ventures.

Source: Richard McBrien, Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to John Paul II (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), p. 212, 272.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fukuyama on Politics and Human Dignity

Much of politics centers on the question of human dignity and the desire for recognition to which it is related. That is, human beings constantly demand that others recognize their dignity, either as individuals or as members of religious, ethnic, racial, or other kinds of groups. The struggle for recognition is not economic: what we desire is not money but that other human beings respect us in the way we think we deserve. In earlier times, rulers wanted others to recognize their superior worth as king, emperor, or lord. Today, people seek recognition of their equal status as members of formerly disrespected or devalued groups...

-Francis Fukuyama, Our Posthuman Nature: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002), p. 14.

Letter to All Filipinos

Here's a powerful, must-read letter forwarded by Helen Stokes:

Dear Friends and Relatives, Here's a wonderful letter to all the Filipinos written by a brave woman. She wants to do her bit in these trying times of our nation.

Please pass to as my persons if you see her article worth reproducing via email.

God bless
Fr Francis Gustilo, SDB


I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn't true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my tv to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these "honorable" crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and apalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst! I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like "Honorable", "Senator", "Justice", "General" and worse, "President". Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. Their motto? "Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich."

It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid! I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own "pag bad ka, lagot ka!" slogan. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries? And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. "Love (of power) is blind" takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don't agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won't make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it. But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it. Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!

I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandbox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.

I call on educators and teachers – we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.

I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.

For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.

Remedios C. Paningbatan
Administrative Officer
Office of the General Counsel
Asian Development Bank
Tel (632) 632-4248

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Philosophy and Morality

Once we comprehend the philosophical currents that are dominating the thinking of people, we should easily understand the significant shift in ethics. People act according to their beliefs. Morality follows philosophy. People may talk about their system of beliefs, but it is their actions that reveal what they really believe.

- N. Allan Moseley, Thinking Against the Grain: Developing a Biblical Worldview in a Culture of Myths (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2003), p. 42.

Pacquiao-Marquez II: Boxing Politics

Now officially the first Asian to win three world titles in three divisions in Boxing, Manny Pacquiao's ascent to the WBC Superfeatherweight throne has become the pride of a larger group of nations.

It is very tempting to recount the details of the bloody battle dubbed "Pacquiao-Marquez II: Unfinished Business," but let's leave this to experts like our very own Chino Trinidad or the American veteran sportswriter Kevin Iole (see his blow-by-blow account of the fight here).fst.jpg

So let's take a look at another facet of this gruelling bout: its politics.

Into the early rounds, a commentator on the GMA-covered fight blurted: "Tatagan mo Manny Pacquaio, suportado ka ng Ginebra San Miguel!"

That unglued me from my focus on the footwork, lightning punches and feigned attacks displayed by the ring combatants, one considered as the "more intelligent fighter" (Marquez) and the other a "powerpuncher" (Pacquiao). The comment jolted me back to the reality of a larger world of boxing where greater power punches are being traded between and among advertisers, bettors, commentators, coaches, and promoters.

I realized that whether Pacquiao or Marquez wins or loses, Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya will always emerge the winners. And so will Ginebra San Miguel and other advertisers. And so did the giant TV network GMA which I suspect might have hoped that it scored another victory over its arch-rival ABS-CBN by drawing many of the latter's viewers into its fold -- at least for half a day.

Manny Pacquiao's luster will eventually fade with the weakening of his stamina, but the power brokers will remain standing. In a sense, pugilists are pawns on a checkered ring.

Note also how media constructs for us a reality that may not square with facts. When TV programmers focus on Pacquiao's mom in deep meditation while clutching a rosary, a not-so-subtle message is being fed into our consciousness: God was on Pacquiao's side. So, the Catholic faith of a Filipino is more powerful than that of a Mexican? Maybe the Spaniards of old are to blame for this unbalanced share of heavenly power, yes?

This politics of religion in boxing reminds me of Evander Holyfield's brandishing of his "power verse," Philippians 4.13, in his ear-wrenching game with Mike Tyson. Maybe, it was God's will that his triumph over a fighter of another faith be stamped with blood oozing from a severed ear lobe?

I can't help relating this to wars past and present waged in the name of God. God or Providence was always on the side of victors, at least according to the victors whose versions of history eventually become the picture of what had been and is.

Finally, the mention of Ginebra San Miguel makes a non-sequitur connection between gin and guts, beer and brawn. To my limited knowledge, tanking up San Miguel gin and beer doesn't make one into an accomplished prizefighter. I think the inglorious fate of some of the once promising Baguio-based boxers who matched gin and beer with their pairs of gloves testifies to this fact.

This advertising propaganda is not much different from that of those who branded cigars with terms (Hope, Champion, etc.) and painted them with scenes that do not really reflect the cost of the vice.


I wish for Pacquiao not only more victories, but also a good sense of the limits of human strength and popularity. I hope that some years from now he will hang his gloves on boxing's hall of fame while his strength remains so he could still spend the resrp-flag.jpgt of his life caring for his family, pursuing his charitable projects, and ensuring that many more Manny Pacquiaos will rise after him.

Hopefully, that time would also mean the steady rise of our country from the depths of squalor and ignominy.

Mabuhay ka Manny!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Catholicism Reaches the Philippine Islands

16 March 1521. After an 18-month voyage, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan lands in Homonhon (Eastern Samar) and claims the islands for King Philip II of Spain. 15 days later, he would hold the first Catholic Mass in the island of Cebu.

Reference: Dr. Sonia M. Zaide, The Philippines: A Unique Nation (Manila: ALL-NATIONS Publishing Co., Inc., 1994), 78-83.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"The Jesus + Theology"

lucado.jpgJesus + evangelism: How many people have you led to Christ this year? Or:

Jesus + contribution: Are you giving all you can to the church? Or:

Jesus + mysticism: You do offer penance and pray to the Virgin Mary, don't you? Or:

Jesus + heritage: Were you raised in "the church"? Or:

Jesus + doctrine: When you were baptized, was the water running or still? Deep or shallow? Hot or cold?

Legalism. The theology of "Jesus +." Legalists don't dismiss Christ. They trust Christ a lot. But they don't trust in Christ alone.

- Max Lucado, It's Not About Me (Brentwood, TN: Integrity Publishers, Inc., 2004; reprint Mandaluyong, MM: OMF Literature Inc., 2005), p.114.

Janina San Miguel & Philippine English

A big fuss has been raised by some quarters over 2008 "Bb. Pilipinas" (Ms. Philippines) Janina San Miguel's "atrocious grammar" in the Q & A portion of the recently held beauty tilt. One commentator alluded to a parallel "beauty's blooper," in a 2007 pageant in the USA, by noting that San Miguel's response "is a classic that could go viral and surpass the interview boo boos of Miss Teen South Carolina Lauren Caitlin Upton."

Here's the transcript of San Miguel's response to a judge's question (lifted from this site):

Vivian Tan (judge): The question is, what role did your family play to you as candidate to Binibining Pilipinas?

Janina San Miguel: Well, my family’s role for me is so important because there was the wa- their, they was the one whose… very… Hahahaha… Oh I’m so sorry, Ahhmm… My pamily… My family… Oh my god.. I’m… Ok, I’m so sorry… I… I told you that I’m so conpident… Eto, Ahhmm, Wait… Hahahaha! Ahmmm, Sorry guys because this was really my first pagent ever because I’m only 17 years old and hahaha! I, I did not expect that I came from, I came from one of the top 10. Hmmm, so… but I said that my family is the most important persons in my life. Thank you.

As I listened to and read the different reactions of people to Janina's greatly talked-about lines, I couldn't help wondering why it's such a big deal among many of us Filipinos that she would commit such multiple phonetical and grammatical (Read SITEL Academy Comms Trainers: PAFABAVA... BUPLAS <chuckle>) -- as if the beauty contest were largely a test of ESL competence or an exercise in some Toastmasters International affair, and as if one's talent or IQ is reducible to a polished English conversational skill.

Is it such a big deal because we are such one great "English-speaking (Asian) nation"? But what does this grand phrase "English-speaking nation" supposed to mean? That we speak (or are expected to speak) impeccable American or British English? Come on, admit it or not, many -- if not most -- of us cannot really successfully fake sounding American or British, much less speak with razor-sharp diction or with flawless syntax. For most of us the English that we write or speak is, as many language teachers have pointed out, distinctively "Philippine English." That is why we appropriate some English terms (e.g., "salvage" to mean summary execution), verbalize nouns (e.g., "Come on, let's coffee/tea") or even pronouns (e.g., he did like th/datting like th/datting to me!), or display signs like these for all the world to see:




See? Viewing it against these backdrops ("backdrafts," to some of our kababayan), Janina's English is not really that bad after all, eh?

"But she's Bb. Pilipinas!" one might be tempted to retort. So what? And if one's going to be pushy about this, why, wouldn't it be more appropriate to test her competence in Filipino instead? Further, even if I know little about beauty pageants, I somehow got the idea that you can still become a Ms. Universe sans the sash of Churchillan oratory or Chomskyan grammar.

The fact is, when it comes to English grammar many of us are more unforgiving than native English speakers themselves. Many of our American/British/Australian/Canadian friends don't really mind if we spell our "its" as "it's," put "this is for gentlemens'" on our signboards, use "lay" instead of "lie" or vice versa, pronounce the ch in "chasm" as in "charm," say "chumber" for "chamber" or "Syox" for "Sioux," write "the people is" or "did travelled," etc. -- that is, unless they are our TOEFL/TOEIC/IELTS/SAT/ACT examiners.

And don't forget, even the Big Guy from the Lone Star State has not escaped the purists of grammar who have had their heydays poking fun at his "Bushisms" [spoonerisms, malapropisms, neologisms - click here or here for some examples. See also Paul Begala's "Is Our Children Learning?" The Case Against George W. Bush (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), pp. 115-125].

This is not to say that we should not be conscious of our use of the English language; this is to say that we should not be blind to our own misuse or abuse of the language, that our ultimate goal as English L2 (2nd language) learners is not really to imitate accents or develop such smugness as to be overly critical of other L2 speakers' grammatical lapses, but to be able to speak a fairly understandable English and help others improve their competence in this area of learning.

I have been teaching ESL for some years now, and one of the delights I find in teaching English is that I get more opportunities to learn the intricacies of the language and correct my mistakes in the process than my students do!

Hans Finzel writes in his outstanding book, The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, "Top-flight leaders aren't born. They learn by bad example." I guess the same is true to us as ESL learners/teachers: Top-flight grammarians aren't born. They learn by bad example (their own and that of others).

Granted, Janina had a badly mangled English in that much talked about interview. But you've got to give her credit for her confidence, her poise. And for this and other qualities, she got the nod of the judges.

Go ahead, boo her grammar, but make sure you clap for her grace.

Language and Culture

An integral part of any culture is its language. Language not only develops in conjunction with a society's historical, economic and political evolution; it also reflects that society's attitudes and thinking. Language not only expresses ideas and concepts but actually shapes thought.

- Robert B. Moore,"Racist Stereotyping in the English Language," in Margaret L. Andersen & Patricia Hill Collins, eds., Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology, 4th ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001), p. 322.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"1st Philippine Linguistic Institute"

The Philippines' continuing celebration of the "International Year of Languages" will again be heightened, this time with the "1st Philippine Linguistic Institute" (PLI) to be held at the University of the Philippines (Diliman) from 31 March to 12 April 2008.

Among the courses to bglobe.jpge taught by distinguished linguists and educators are as follows:

♦ Sociolinguistics

♦ Philippine Morphosyntax

♦ Historical Comparative Linguistics

♦ Phonetics, Phonology & Orthography

♦ Psycholinguistics

♦ Semantics & Lexicography for Philippine Languages

♦ Research Methods in Applied Linguistics

♦ Language Development & Multilingual Education

In a letter to UP Baguio Chancellor Priscilla Supnet-Macansantos, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino Chairman* Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco noted that the PLI aims to provide teachers, researchers, students and other participants up-to-the-minute discussions on the burgeoning field of linguistics.

The program is sponsored by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino in coordination with the Linguistic Society of the Philippines, Summer Institute of Linguistics-Philippines, Philippine Normal University and, of course, UP.

Registration fee per course: P2,000.00 (exclusive of food and accommodations). Interested? Visit the PLI site for more details.

* Not "President" as previously written. Many thanks to Prof. Mark Felix Albert D. Santiago of UP Diliman for the correction!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Today's Oxymorons"

More "English is a Crazy Language" stuff (see other ticklers @ engines of mischief) :

Act naturally

Found missing

Resident alien

Advanced BASIC

Genuine imitation

Airline Food

Good grief

Same difference

Almost exactly

Government organization

Sanitary landfill

Alone together

Legally drunk

Silent scream

British fashion

Living dead

Small crowd

Business ethics

Soft rock

Butt head

Military intelligence

Software documentation

New York culture

New classic

Sweet sorrow


"Now, then..."

Synthetic natural gas

Passive aggression

Taped live

Clearly misunderstood

Peace force

Extinct Life

Temporary tax increase

Computer jock

Plastic glasses

Terribly pleased

Computer security

Political science

Tight slacks

Definite maybe

Pretty ugly

Twelve-ounce pound cake

Diet ice cream

Working vacation

Exact estimate

Religious tolerance

Microsoft Works


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

a winebibber's prayer

Printed on a shirt displayed at Highland Souvenir (SM Baguio):

“Dalangin ko kay San Miguel

na isakay ako sa Red Horse

patungo sa White Castle

doon sa Barcelona

para makilala ang Generoso

at mabait na Emperador

na Alfonso

at manood ng mga Matador

habang umiinom ng Fundador.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

John Wesley

wesleyb.jpgwesleyb.jpg02 March 1791. John Wesley (b. June 17, 1703) dies in London at 88. He, along with with his younger brother Charles, founded the "Methodist Movement" (sometimes called "Wesleyan Movement") in the 1730s. One writer sums up this remarkable Christian preacher and hymnodist's accomplishments as follows:

"Over the span of his ministry, John Wesley travelled over 250,000 miles on horseback, preached some 42,000 sermons, and wrote thirty books. He also wrote, edited, or translated over 200 volumes of sermons, commentaries and hymns, and he produced his Christian Library of 50 volumes. He could preach in English, German, French, and Italian. Wesley's Journal, covering fifty-six years of ministry, simply boggles the mind. Some say it is the most exhaustive work of biographical information ever penned by man. John Wesley may very well have been the most active preacher the world has ever known... final word was 'Farewell.'"

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pop Culture and Religion

...'culture' and 'popular' are both big, capacious words: pop culture is not only about religion as a human project of self-justification... popular culture includes such religious elements. Further, modern and post-modern popular culture... is heavily mass-mediated and commodified. In its mass-mediated and commodified forms, it appeals especially to the crowd. And remember that the crowd's characteristics include a tendency to take on a life of its own, overwhelming the considered jusgment and stifling the imagination of the individuals and communities who comprise it. The crowd is fickle and has a short attention span, but it is consistently vehement about its flavor of the day. The crowd casts 'God' in its own image and equates the vox populi with the vox Dei.

- Rodney Clapp, "God is not a Stranger on the Bus: Discovering the Divine in Popular Culture," in D. Brent Laytham, ed., God is not: religious, nice, "one of us," an American, a capitalist (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 2004), p. 32