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Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Quote from Rizal the Freethinker

We are entirely in accord in admitting the existence of God. How can I doubt his when I am convinced of mine. Who so recognizes the effect recognizes the cause. To doubt God is to doubt one's own conscience, and in consequence, it would be to doubt everything; and then what is life for? Now then, my faith in God, if the result of a ratiocination may be called faith, is blind, blind in the sense of knowing nothing. I neither believe nor disbelieve the qualities which many attribute to him; before theologians' and philosophers' definitions and lucubrations of this ineffable and inscrutable being I find myself smiling. Faced with the conviction of seeing myself confronting the supreme Problem, which confused voices seek to explain to me, I cannot but reply: 'It could be; but the God that I foreknow is far more grand, far more good: Plus Supra!...I believe in (revelation); but not in revelation or revelations which each religion or religions claim to possess. Examining them impartially, comparing them and scrutinizing them, one cannot avoid discerning the human 'fingernail' and the stamp of the time in which they were written... No, let us not make God in our image, poor inhabitants that we are of a distant planet lost in infinite space. However, brilliant and sublime our intelligence may be, it is scarcely more than a small spark which shines and in an instant is extinguished, and it alone can give us no idea of that blaze, that conflagration, that ocean of light. I believe in revelation, but in that living revelation which surrounds us on every side, in that voice, mighty, eternal, unceasing, incorruptible, clear, distinct, universal as is the being from whom it proceeds, in that revelation which speaks to us and penetrates us from the moment we are born until we die. What books can better reveal to us the goodness of God, his love, his providence, his eternity, his glory, his wisdom? 'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork'.

- Epistolario Rizalino: 4 volumes, 1400 letters to and from Rizal, edited by Teodoro Kalaw (Manila: Bureau of Printing,1930–38), p. 36. [source]

Monday, December 24, 2012

Call for Entries to the 13th Iyas CWF

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Shifting Sands of Literalism and Fundamentalism

"Cultures or societies that are literalist or even fundamentalist in one generation can in later years become liberal, if not highly skeptical of all forms of faith; and that pattern occurs frequently—though not inevitably—across faith traditions."
- Philip Jenkins,The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2006), 15.

Samuel Seridio (08.06.1956 - 12.01.2012): An Ex-Preacher's Salute to a Lifelong Preacher

RELATED POSTS: "This Preaching Business," "A Brown Man's Burden: Critiquing an American Restorationist Discourse," "Deconverting from Sectarianism 3: A Culture of Hate," "Attacking Other Religions"

Another good friend is gone. I first met Samuel Seridio in a hospital during a MARCH for Christ campaign in Cabanatuan City in 2003(?). His wife was then recovering from a delicate operation. Shortly after that, we found ourselves working together in what was then known as the Baguio Mission Team (BMT).

We would part ways about five years later when I left the (Stone-Campbell) Church of Christ. I went on to establish my academic career while he continued preaching, willing to be assigned anywhere and to mentor anyone.

But we remained friends, for to us friendship transcended sectarian or ideological boundaries. And even though we had many occasions to talk and eat together long after I bade his religious group farewell, we never engaged in dogmatic disputations although he knew about my "liberal" leanings. He never tried to win me back to his cause nor did I ever try to usher him into my growing skepticism about religion. Somehow, deep inside we knew that a verbal tussle between us on such matters would only end in a stalemate or hurt feelings. We knew each other enough to respect the fact that in this life, each one will have to walk different roads in the name of enlightenment and fulfillment. But for friends, the bond of brotherhood ties you together even when you are headed into opposite directions. He would say to his churchmates in reference to me, "Ano'ng magagawa natin kung yun ang naabot ng kaniyang pang-unawa." Whenever we met, he would always greet me with a heartfelt smile. Always, I was his younger brother, comrade-in-arms, although I did not share his religious convictions anymore. He was our manong, the elder/est. Which was why we used to call him obispo, and although we would say that in jest with his receding forehead in mind, we were one and serious in our high regard for his wisdom.

One big thing I learned about deconverting from religion is that you will know who your real friends are among those who claim to be children of God the moment you tell them you've lost faith in their faith. Many, if not most, will start avoiding you like you had leprosy or AIDS. Others will quickly condemn your lack of "simple faith" and preach to the faithful against the dangers of "worldly wisdom" and "fellowshipping with apostates." Still, others will attempt to psychologize your departure from the "One, True Faith" and tell others about the causes of your loss of faith: sinful living, personal hurts, intellectual pride, and others ad infinitum, ad nauseam. The soul-shattering and mind-wracking experience of religious deconversion is compounded by the ostracizing, judgmental gestures of those who once embraced you as a fellow saint when you still subscribed to their creed. This happened to me when I left the Baptists. The same thing happened when I left the Church of Christ.

But the saving grace of sectarian Christianity are those whose humanity shines

through the dark clouds of their celestial visions. Manong Sam was one of them. I had known a lot of preachers in his church, and he is one of the handful I have come and will continue to fully respect and fondly remember. Preachers can brag about their expertise in Greek and their familiarity with Thayer's lexicon, but if they cannot speak the simple language of love they are, in Paul's words, but brass instruments, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Manong Sam knew his Greek, an ancient tongue so foreign to the ordinary churchgoers' ears, but the language of his soul was no Greek to me.

Another thing I learned from and about religion is that even in what is called the Kingdom of God, inequality and injustice prevail as they do beyond the borders of the communion of saints. Manong Sam was not one of the privileged few among his preaching brethren. Some got rich out of preaching (or, as enterprising men of God, established profitable business ventures like treasure-hunting and whatever so-called "ministry" they could think of), while others like Sam Seridio toiled on and on despite their financial insecurities. I was thinking if he had the money to sustain a daily maintenance medication and a regular visit to St. Luke's or Makati Med, he would have lived to his eighties. But well, maybe God didn't see it fit to give him the bigger share from his bounty which He had graciously poured on others -- Sam just didn't make the cut. Or maybe he wasn't just born to the right family, with the right name, and in the right place. Or maybe he just didn't have the right network of gracious friends. I will never know. I do know though that, just like what some of his own churchmates say, there are other preachers who are overstaying on earth and have given religion such a bad name already that they ought to have kicked the bucket years and years ago. But well, such is life -- oftentimes, it sucks and there's nothing we can really do about it but take things as they come as graciously as we can.

Manong Sam committed himself to a lifetime of preaching, something that not everyone in his church would and could do. And it is but proper that at least in death he got a gesture of his own people's gratitude. And to his church's credit, they did. There was an impressive outpouring of moral and material support for his family. The privileged ones in his denomination are to be commended for their generosity, for making sure that the ones Sam left behind won't have to despair all the more worrying about wake and burial expenses. An educational fund was even collected for his daughter Trypaena, a very smart kid who can easily become an architect or a medical doctor within the next 10 years. It was heart-warming to see members of his church joining hands together to ensure that they at least give him a decent burial, that they honor back a man who honored them with his often unacknowledged but invaluable services to their cause.

As an ex-preacher and a former hyperactive member of his group, I could say that in my 12 years of stay with this Christian fellowship during which I had come to know preachers from Abra to Davao, Sam Seridio was one of the best representatives of this/their faith, one whose character I wish some of his fellow preachers had or will eventually emulate. His church is poorer without people like him and I hope there will be more like him among them. The simplicity of his life, the passion he had for his vocation, the hardships that he endured, and the genuine friendship he offered made him a gem, a jewel among them.

Sam Seridio left his wife and child a good name, something they should wear like a great badge of honor. I do not care much about what he thought about this life or the afterlife, but I do care about how he lived this life, how he strived to keep his integrity intact despite his human frailties. Character -- a good name--  is far more glitzy than the most flashy clothes and cars, far more eloquent than the best sermon, far more memorable than a thousand Bible verses quoted from memory, far more awesome than a dozen successful business ventures, and far more enduring than a metal casket.

I first met him at a hospital. I was to see him for the last time in another hospital. We were there during the last three or four hours of his life and it was saddening to see the face of death in a friend, painful to realize that yet another good friend has passed on, whose welcoming smile and warm handshake I will never see nor feel again. It was heart-rending to see his wife Lolit, another great friend, so devastated as she helplessly watched her husband reluctantly breathe his last. I told her that Sam was fortunate to have had a wife like her, she who was there with him to the very end of his short, short journey. They loved each other dearly, and they shared each other's pains as they bravely faced life's trials. I told her that is more than enough to look back to to inspire her to keep on going and finish her own journey down the years.

Conrado de Quiros on Religion and Pacquiao's Loss

I had wanted to give my one-centavo on this nonsense about religion having to do with Pacquiao's humiliation dealt him by his arch-rival JMM, but when I read my favorite columnist's article on the issue I thought he just articulated what I had in mind -- only that, it was in the unrivalled Conrado de Quiros' way. Here's an excerpt from his 18 December write up, "Postscript":

Well, we’re free to debate the wisdom of Pacquiao’s conversion to the born-again fold to our heart’s content, but as an explanation for his defeat it’s rather embarrassing....

Again, you don’t have to be a disbeliever or cynic to see what’s wrong with it. At the very least, what does that view of earth, or heaven, make of Providence? That he (or she) is a boxing fan who watches fights eagerly and decides to bestow his blessings on those who worship him more ardently or more according to his prescribed rules of worship? Or who picks favorites, favoring Filipinos more than other nationalities (with the exception of the Jews who like to think of themselves as his absolute favorite), for no other reason than that they are Filipinos?

Rather like the Olympian gods, brilliantly depicted in the original “Clash of the Titans” who had favorites, quite apart from lovers among mortals, and decreed the latter’s fates by their individual partialities or whim. The title is ironic: It wasn’t just a clash of mortals, of heroes versus villains, it was a clash of the gods, of Zeus versus the other gods or goddesses jealous of his love for his mortal son, Perseus. Except that in this case, there is only one deity who is believed to be exceptionally partial to the champion of his second favorite people, until the day that champion scorns him by this act of unfaithfulness.

At the very most, what does this view of earth or heaven make of Providence? That he approves of boxing and moves in mysterious ways in the ring, finding in its goings-on a way to extol divine grandeur? When I first heard the theory about Pacquiao’s crushing defeat being God’s punishment of a scale of an Egyptian plague, I thought of my friend Nandy Pacheco and wondered what he thought about it. Nandy is as devoutly religious as it gets and is as averse to boxing as it gets. His philosophy, which has extended to Kapatiran, being that God cannot possibly condone violence, and boxing is nothing if not violent. Perhaps on a scale less than guns, but violent just the same.
I was about to say rather like the times of the Crusades when the Christians imagined God to be on their side and the Muslims imagined Allah to be on theirs. Except that the same thing continues to this day, the American Tea Party thinking God to be on their side and the al-Qaida thinking Allah to be on theirs. As though God or Allah approves of wars, or wholesale carnage, and bestows his blessings on one side or the other depending on how loudly they pray to him.

Best to keep earthly matters to the earth. Best to keep mundane matters to the mundo. By all means let’s be religious, by all means let’s turn to prayer and supplication as much as we want, or need. But let’s not turn religion into some kind of anting-anting, or talisman, the better to win wars, to win fights, to dodge the bullets of the police in a running gunbattle with them. Let’s not turn God into a whimsical deity or a bored one with all the time in the world and nothing better to do, and raise all sorts of questions about whether God created us in his image and likeness or we are creating God in our image and likeness. With all our flaws, with all our foibles, with all our pettiness.


But come to think of it, religion may really have something to do with Marquez devouring Pacquiao. While it is true that his new faith had led him to become the "new" him, his religious addiction may have caused him to focus too much on the hereafter that he lost sight of the here-and-now. And so he failed to train harder for the sport that gave him his millions of dollars, his multitude of fans, and the luxury of offering evangelistic platitudes to millions of Filipinos whose lot is to live in places where natural and man-made calamities abound with no millions of pesos to draw from the bank with which to rebuild their lives. Perhaps, too, like many fresh converts to evangelical or pentecostal sects, he had thoroughly bought what can be called a "personal exceptionalism" -- which is to say that since he had become a "true christian" he is now the apple of God's eye like David was, and like David his prayers are going to be heard well and God will give him power to destroy the Goliaths he will be pitted against. But just like in David's case, disaster strikes even those favored by the gods. Prayers do not and cannot clothe any human being with the cape of invincibility.

If Pacquiao intends to return as King of the Ring soon, he first needs to recover the respect he once had for the sport that built him and the respect he had for the people who had been rooting for him and idolized him long before he ever became Pacquiao the Politician or Pacquiao the Preacher.

But if this shocking bout marks the end of his boxing career, there's no shame in it really. We who have lived in the glorious Pacquiao Age of boxing will always count it a great honor to have lived at a time when a scrawny southpaw from the South of our country once became boxing's North Star to and from whom hordes of people from all over the world gazed in awe and drew inspiration.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

End of the World (for the nth time)

Related posts: Of Quacks and Quatrains, Marquez & Mythicization

Gullibility is no respecter of persons, and knows no past. After all the failed predictions of doomsdaysayers and preppers in the past centuries, one would think we today won't be easy prey to the speculations of end-time nuts. But no. Unbelievably, some -- including supposedly smart folks -- are actually buying the misinterpretations of Mayan myth and hallucinations over Nostradamic quatrains that supposedly peg the world's incineration on 12.21.12. Great. Let the world that began with a creative Big Bang now end with a destructive Pfft.

Meanwhile, let's sip our coffee and do some leisurely reading while Tutankhamen joins the sun in one last ride and Quetzalcoatl appears on the horizon on his white horse to the sound of a thousand atomic explosions, Gangnam-style:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ani 37 features more NorLu Writers

This year's issue of the Cultural Center of the Philippines' literary journal, Ani, is featuring at least 10 writers from Northern Luzon. Aside from Hermie and Gil Beltran, the following will join the journal's 25th anniversary celebration as contributors:

- Santiago Villafania, outstanding intellectual and Pangasinan's most prolific poet
- Ariel Tabag of Bannawag fame, Iluko poet par excellence, Palanca winner
- Vicente Raras, upcoming Iluko poet
- Priscilla Macansantos, Ph.D. -- mathematician-poet, Palanca awardee, and former UP Baguio Chancellor
- Francis Macansantos,four-time Palanca winner & NCCA Writers Prize awardee (2003)
- Junley Lazaga,trilingual poet (Ilocano, Filipino, English), translator, and UP Baguio professor
- Io Jularbal, newly discovered fictionist, Rizal Studies specialist and UP Baguio instructor
- Me

The years get more exciting as creative writing workshops continue to churn out talents from the margins. A thousand cheers to Ani for continuing to reflect our our multi-lingual and multi-sited literary heritage.

Sapay koma ta kadagiti sumarsaruno pay nga panakaimaldit ti Ani, ad-adu pay ti mainayon nga mannurat manipud ditoy kasayotean ken kasaluyotan!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kanana Kanu (1)

The 75-seater Baguio Cinematheque went SRO on October 11 during the screening of Jocelyn Banasan-Kapuno's "Kanana Kanu."

Touted as the first Kalinga community-produced film, it is Kapunos’s entry to this year’s “1st Sineng Pambansa National Film Competition.” The title, which means “So it is said,” is taken from the stereotyped concluding line of the Kalinga chant, Ullálim.

Set in the scenic village of Balinciagao in Pasil, Kalinga, it tells of a KalingAmerican named John who visits his mother’s village, Magobya, and gets embedded in the “simple, practical and natural” life of the place. Meanwhile, he is regaled with fabulous Ullálim stories, especially the exploits undergone by the culture hero Banna to win the heart of the beauteous Lagunnawa. John goes back to America with a greater understanding of his indigenous roots, and a hint of returning to nurture a budding romance with the Magobya lass, Uchen.

The cast is comprised mostly of Kalingas who come from at least five of the 50 “sub-tribes” of Kalinga. Among them are former Tabuk City mayor Camilo Lammawin (as Dulliyaw, Lagunnawa’s father) and ethnopop singer and composer Arnel Banasan (as Magatangga, Lagunnawa’s father).

The screening is among the dozens already held in the venue, the first Philippine Cinematheque to be built through the “Sineng Pambansa” (National Cinema) program of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FCDP). To date, three other similar film centers have been built in the cities of Davao, Iloilo and Marawi.

According to the FCDP website, the cinematheques aim to “bring [mainstream and independent, classic and contemporary] Filipino films to Filipinos.” The coverage of the screenings has been expanded to include foreign films.

More notes on the film to follow :)

Jesus Harry Potter Christ

Bored of the Rings


Friday, September 21, 2012

On Chanting an Ethnoepic (Zialcita)

To chant an epic is to recount the key ideas and images that make life meaningful for one's self and one's community. In addition, to chant an epic is to enter into a ritual that merges the I into a We.

- Fernando N. Zialcita, "Epics and Ethnic Boundaries," in Nicole Revel, ed., Literature of Voice: Epics in the Philippines (Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2005), 147.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Baguio Cinematheque 1st Anniv Shows

Screening Schedule

WALKING THE WAKING JOURNEY (19 September 2012, 5.30 PM)

PERFUMED NIGHTMARE (26 September 2012, 5.30 PM)

ANG MUNDO SA PANAHON NG BATO (03 October 2012, 5.30 PM)

KANANA KANU (by invitation only)- 10 October 2012, 5.30 PM

[FCDP-Cinematheque, Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City. 09053309829]

Monday, September 10, 2012

4th Intl Conf on Multicultural Discourses

Our colleagues in lovely Hangzhou headed by the brilliant and amiable Professor Shi-Xu,Director of the Institute of Discourse and Cultural Studies and editor of the Journal of Multicultural Discourses (Routledge), have just informed us that the "4th International Conference on Multicultural Discourses" will be held on October 23-26, 2013.

It's still going to be in Hangzhou, of course -- one of the best places to go for an academic conference. I was part of the 2010 conference where I delivered my paper, "A Brown Man's Burden: Critiquing an American Restorationist Discourse." It was a terrific experience (despite my goof-ups on my way to and out of the city) what with so gracious a bunch of hosts, fine food and entertainment, well-organized conference flow, enlightening papers from budding and seasoned scholars from Australia to Belgium, and a breath-taking view of the Xīhú (West Lake) from the Huabei Hotel and of the verdant hills and urban jungle from the top floor of the Chenghuang (City of God) Pavillion. An early morning or a late evening stroll around the lake and through its maze of wooded environs is one of the most refreshing things one can ever do.

The conference seeks

1)To bring together scholars, researchers, and practitioners from around the globe to contribute to a stimulating and rewarding exchange of ideas and techniques regarding discourse studies;

2)To enhance cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and research innovation in discourse studies;

3)To facilitate the formation of collaborative research networks among conference participants.

The conference will run along the following themes, among others: Discourse and human rights, Discourse and international commerce/management, Discourse and ethnic literature, Discourse and gender.

Deadline for abstracts: 31st December 2012. Those whose papers will be accepted for presentation will be informed by early March of next year.

More details HERE.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

On Religious Conservatism

Religious conservatives don't want to move on. Religious conservatives have consistently resisted progress, preferring to maintain tradition for the sake of tradition alone, even if the tradition is bad. Some of us have a different priority. We prefer truth to tradition, progress to precedent, learning to loyalty.
- Dan Barker, Godless:How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press, 2008), 112.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lobdell on Catholics and Reproductive Health issues

Weeks ago when Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas thundered "Contraception is Corruption!" I happened to have just finished reading William Lobdell's fine work, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America -- and Found Unexpected Peace (HarperCollins Publishers, 2009). Talk about corruption! I burped as I learned how the Catholic Church authorities worked mafia-like to cover up or rationalize the countless sexual crimes committed by their priests. Among the shocking facts and riveting stories he divulged was about the case of Michael "Father Hollywood" Harris whose sexual offenses
would cause upheaval and historic reforms within the Roman Catholic dioceses of Orange and Los Angeles, generate the first of more than $1 billion in payouts to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse by priests and foreshadow by almost two years the church's national sex scandal.(62)
Chapter 15 of Lobdell's book also tells of a horrible case in St. Michael Island, Alaska "where a single Catholic missionary raped an entire generation of Alaska Native boys." (215) I don't know about Lobdell's other readers, but all these revelations about corruption in the Catholic Church made me sick with disgust. I was thinking, maybe had the Church not imposed this crazy doctrine of priesthood celibacy their holy men would have productively channeled their sexual urges within the context of marital and family life. And I keep wondering, how could these bishops and popes truly empathize with or understand experiences such as raising a family and sexual needs of couples? That our priests are out of touch with the lives of or alienated from their parishioners can be shown by the June 2011 SWS survey which showed that "82 percent of Filipino adults nationwide agree that 'The choice of family planning method is a personal decision of the couple, and no one should interfere with it.' The same trend is also true of American Catholics. Lobdell says,
A recent poll co-sponsored by the National Catholic Reporter found that the majority American Catholics believed they did not have to obey church doctrine on abortion, birth control, divorce, remarriage or weekly attendance at Mass to be “good Catholics.” Catholic women have about the same rate of abortion as the rest of society, according to a 2002 study by Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. And 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used a modern method of contraception, according to a 2002 national survey bythe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.(206)

That's good. The more people reject the idea that popes, priests, pastors, ministers, and imams have a wifi access to heaven and therefore should be blindly followed, the better for the world.


Thanks to Senator Tito Sotto, there's now a new synonym for plagiarizing -- "Sottoing." And the word even has verb conjugations -- "Sinotto," "Sinosotto," and "Sosottohin."

Sotto has no one to blame but himself. What is appalling is his arrogance in thinking that he is exempted from universally acknowledged and followed research ethics. Plagiarism is a grave "sin" in the academe. Why should it not be deemed so in the oh-so-august Philippine Senate where laws passed presumably go through rigorous research processes or stages? Or has this recent brouhaha illustrated that some of our lawmakers and their staff need to undergo rigorous training in research methodology and ethics?

This Senator who gets paid by our taxes complains that, according to a news report, "he was the first senator to ever be a victim of cyber-bullying." As if that was a badge of honor. Ay apo met!

The more Sotto defends himself, the deeper he sinks into the quagmire he himself created. And his case will likely give credence to "Kangkongkernits'" joke that "It's More Fun to Plagiarize in the Philippines."

I went over to Janice Formichella's post on the issue and couldn't help agreeing with some of the commenters:

Angelo Cruz says:
September 6, 2012 at 7:46 am
Indeed, it seems Sotto’s latest speech is yet another act of intellectual theft; this time from the late Robert F. Kennedy. The speech was in Tagalog, but a careful review of the words and they are a very good match to RFK’s 1966 speech on the Day of Affirmation in South Africa.

Gem says:
September 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm
This is disgusting. I’m Filipino and I cringe while I read articles like this. In the age of Google and smart phones one should be very careful what they lift from blogs, websites, books or magazines. He’s an actor/TV show host who does not have the intellectual capacity run for office or to make speeches. This is a clear reflection of what is wrong with the Philippines. People vote for the ones who are famous and not the ones who have skills. It’s a sad reality.
Surprisingly, despite Sotto’s blatant acts of plagiarism, he still garners considerable support from those against the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill.

Related Links:

Sarah Pope's article on Gandhi,

Janice Formichella's article on the pill,

Sotto's "Turno en Contra" speech

"Oust Tito Sotto" online signature campaign

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From "The Prestige" (2006)

You are familiar with the phrase, 'Man's reach exceeds his grasp'? It's a lie. Man's grasp exceeds his nerve. Society only tolerates one change at a time. - "Tesla"

Man's reach exceeds his imagination. - "Angier"

Paalam, apo Jesse Robredo!

RELATED POSTS: "Robredo for President? Why Not?", "The Robredo We All Knew", "People Power Thrives in Naga City"

[Photo from the DILG website]

My wife and I have been among the thousands who anxiously waited for news about SILG Jesse Robredo, hoping that despite the odds stacked against him he still managed to survive the plane crash, that as one online commenter wrote, "Sana ay napadpad lang siya sa kalapit isla ng Masbate."

Now that his death has just been confirmed, we shake our heads and cry in frustration and disbelief that a truly good man, an inspirational political leader, was not given a new lease on life while hordes of money and power-hungry politicos across the country continue to drink life's cup bottoms up with nary a care about their constituents nor a tinge of guilt for their crimes against the people.

This sentiment is common among many who commented online on this tragedy. Here are some of them:

sayang ...kung cno pa ung may mabting kalakaran xa pa ang in
(Levis Sacarez, 08.21.2012, )

hnd pa ang mga corrupt ang mga namatay katulad ng mga arroyo family marcos fammfamily
[Juan, 08.21.2012)

Nakakalungkot na kung sino pa ang masipag, mapagpakumbaba, at totoong lingkod bayan ay sya pang nakakaranas ng mga ganitong aksidente... ang mga buwaya, corrupt, epal, at mga ganid ay sina namang nagpapalaki lang ng tiyan sa paligid...
(Alan Roy, Manila. 8.20.2012)

Dear Lord,

We'll be more than happy to give you Tito Sotto, Chavit Singson and Annabelle Rama, just give us Sec. Robredo back, please? We'll even add Mitos Magsaysay to that trade-in, just keep Sec Robredo alive, safe and well, please Lord?
(athenapalias, 08.19.2012)

Others added Roberto Carabuena, the Volvo-driving Philip Morris human resource guy who has become an epitome of arrogance. Well, I would add to these names some political swine in Camarines Sur and my own provinces of Kalinga and Mt. Province. But such is life -- the cemetery for the bad guys is always less crowded than the cemetery for the good ones. And no amount of convoluted theodicy and pulpit platitudes can explain away the sheer randomness of life's circumstances.

We mourn with the people of Naga City (where my wife comes from), a place he truly loved. He is a great loss to the whole Filipino nation. It is in these desperate times that we hunger for models of personal integrity and genuine public service to inspire us to keep on keeping on. It is in these uncertain times that we need Robredos to assure us that one day our national economy will become stable and we can once again confidently march along the highway of progress.

But he is gone, and it is so sad to lose him this way at a young age. Sayang. What a waste!

And this loss is something that some of us will never understand. Take, for instance, this commenter:

Secretary Robredo had no political will whatsoever. He was impotent when Davado City Mayor Sarah Duterte boxed and slapped a Court Sheriff before hundreds of witnesses. The DILD [sic] did nothing except investigate. GOODBYE you GOOD for NOTHING Secretary. [Vicente Boticol, 08.19.2012]

This fellow clearly did not know who SILG Robredo was, and is ignorant of how cases involving LGU officals work or are resolved. How could someone who had made his slogans "Uswag Naga" and "An Maogmang Lugar" a reality not have political will? How could a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for good governance not have political will? How could an SILG who had instituted sweeping reforms in the problem-ridden DILG be impotent?

I was overjoyed when Robredo became SILG because I knew programs, projects and activities coming from the national level will be more realistic, more responsive to the clamor of those at the grassroots level. It meant no more inane programs like GMAC (Gabay sa Mamamayan Action Center) which was actually primarily instituted as a campaign project for you-know-who. My former colleagues in the DILG tell me the Department is a lot better under apo Robredo's leadership. Of course, I'd say to them, he is Jesse Robredo!

I lived and worked in Naga City for about two years and had the privilege of chatting with lots of Naguenos and observing closely how local politics worked out there. Except for his perennial critics with questionable integrity, virtually everyone I met beamed with pride at the mention of "Meyor Robredo." (For one, my wife would always jokingly said in admiration of the man, "Mayor Robredo is my boyfriend.") It is indisputable for them that Naga's progress is synonymous with Robredo's leadership.

Indeed then Mayor Robredo was so unlike many municipal and city mayors I have known since childhood. They were bossy, toted guns, had bodyguards, and were despicable. But Robredo, you'd see him in shorts walking around town smiling and chatting with anyone like he was just any ordinary Bicolano. He didn't need to be bossy because his leadership inspired others to follow him. He didn't need to brandish an armalite because he didn't lead his people by fear and coercion. He didn't need any bodyguard because he committed no crime against his own people.

Had he lived a little longer, he would have done more for the country. I would have wanted him to be President. But no, the Fates had already decided how long his life's thread should be.

He left his indelible footprints in our consciousness. We can only hope that people will continue to pass on his inspiring story and to show others his accomplishments. We can only wish that there will be more like him down the years to make us hope for better things to come.

Dakol na salamat sa ehemplo mo, Apo Jess! Mamumutan mi ika pirmi!

Our condolences to the Robredo family...

Monday, August 13, 2012

from "Paycheck"

That's all we are -- the sum of our experiences. Besides, some of the best things in life are total mistakes.
- "Dr. Porter"

Seeing the future will destroy us. If you show someone their future, they have no future. You take away the mystery, you take away hope.
- "Michael Jennings"

[from Paycheck (2003)]

UPB Jubilee Lecture Series: "Cordillera Political Institutions, Law, and Justice System" (Prof. June Prill-Brett)

Another must-attend lecture at UP Baguio!

UPB Professor Emeritus of Anthropology Dr. June Prill-Brett will lecture on  “Cordillera Political Institutions, Law, and Justice System” at the College of Social Sciences (CSS)-AVR on 22 August 2012, 2.30 p.m.

Of Monks and Bloggers

Got this from my favorite teacher in grad school and my highly esteemed colleague, apo Delfin  Lindain Tolentino, Jr.  -- a.k.a "Tule," "DLT (as in David L. Tenenbaum)", "Tolens," "Tolsky" (my original contribution, I believe), "(Sir) Del," "Olympian" -- who tells me not to "be upset about getting tongue-tied when asked to say grace," that I "can always be born again" so  "[u]ntil then," I should "enjoy the profane."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Alimpatok: Ilokano Erotic Poetry Launching

Alimpatok, anthology of Ilokano erotic poetry, will be formally launched in a double-launching on August 3, 2012, Friday. The first launch of the book will be held at a poetry reading session at the Library of the University of the Philippines Baguio, 2-4 PM, as part of the Buwan ng Wika celebration of the University. Another launch will also happen on the same day, in a poetry jamming, at 6-8 PM, at Mt. Cloud Bookshop, Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City.
The book, edited by Ariel S. Tabag, Roy V. Aragon and Mighty C. Rasing, is the first Ilokano erotic book, features erotic poems by 33 Ilokano poets in the Philippines and abroad.

The 140-page book which measures 6x9 inches will be sold at a discounted price on the double-launch.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Criminal Within

In the right situation, we are all capable of the most terrible crimes. To imagine a world where this was not so, where every crisis did not result in new atrocities, where every newspaper is not full of war and violence... Well, this is to imagine a world where human beings cease to be human.
- from "Invasion" (2007)

- Posted using BlogPress from my cousin's friend's uncle's iPad

CSC/CSS Lectures: IPRA, Air Pollution in Baguio

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fun with Pun

Another charming forwarded message from Anthony Herron:

Got this from Dr. Albert. Very clever!!!

The pun , or paronomasia , is a form of word play which exploits the ambiguity of a statement, allowing it to be understood in multiple ways for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use and abuse of homophonic , homographic , metonymic , or metaphorical language. A pun must be deliberate: an unintentional substitution of similar words is called a malapropism . Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.

A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.

Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.

Practice safe eating - always use condiments.

Shotgun wedding - A case of wife or death.

A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.

When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.

A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.

What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead give away.)

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.

She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.

A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia - the LAN down under.

Every calendar's days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted - Taint yours and taint mine.

A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.

Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

Acupuncture is a jab well done.

h/t JP

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 21, 2012

CSC Lectures: "Making Artifacts Speak: The Study of Cordillera Material Culture (1980-2010)

Prof. Delfin L. Tolentino, Jr. will present his research titled "Making Artifacts Speak: The Study of Cordillera Material Culture (1980-2010)" on 26 July 2012, 2.30 PM, at the College of Social Sciences (CSS) AVR, UP Baguio.

Professor Tolentino is the editor of The Cordillera Review, UP Baguio's peer-reviewed journal, and was director of the Cordillera Studies Center (CSC) from 2006-2012.  

As his colleague as well as his student in graduate school, I have known him to be more Igorot than many Igorots for his vast knowledge of Igorot culture and his genuine concern for the Cordilleras.

MLL Penal Colony 203: Musings of a Branded Man

This semester I have become a branded man. Our Computerized Registration System (CRS) says so. I am now consigned to a special penal colony called MLL 203: Teaching Communication Arts. Fortunately for me, I am in good company.

One is a recidivist whose harrowing experiences in two MLL penal colonies have recently caused his adrenalin bursting, sending his academic juices to the heavenly heights, and gaining inspiration to write a rumored 800-page memoir which is now under review by the high chief of penology, the great DLT himself who is on furlough in the Amazon hacking his way to the Temple of Tomes.  With such a distinguished career in gaol (no, friends in Alab, that doesn't sound like "sheol," but "jail"), and being a hulking balbas sarado, he could be easily mistaken as the prison mayor, but no.  He had suggested that I take the position by virtue of seniority, which, of course, gave me unceasing fear and trembling being a newbie in the penal business.

Then, as if, on cue, some jailbird swinging from grapevine-bar to grapevine-bar whispered to me that the selda mayor is actually a she-who-knows-me who certainly cannot be named except for her initials, K.W. -- as in, well, "Kristina Wood." But for now she has to manage the bullpen via remote control as she has been granted parole for some junket abroad.

We share the can with five other inmates. Two of them are members of the Literati whose collective pledge is to not withhold secrets. One of them, by the way was midway into proclaiming "Estamos de luna de miel!" when she was nabbed by some literatinazis who decided that a semester-long torment in our hole was more than enough to set her straight. Two others are also first-time jailbirds who were initially uneasy ala Glaspell's canary but now seem to be getting the hang (or knot?) of it (or of the idea that they're gonna get hanged at the end of or as part of their ordeal).

A media practitioner also happens to be part of the gang. Being with a giant TV network, he is sure to keep tabs on any human and non-human interest story swirling in the cell and around its immediate vicinity. It would make it doubly hard, however, to hatch an escape plan ala Shawshank Redemption because this otherwise amiable broadcaster would have broken the details to Imbestigador before we could even begin chipping away bits of concrete.

The warden?  Well, he is fresh from his intermittent tour of duty in Diliman where he earned his fourth star, PhD in Philippine Studies. And being known as a church guy, he might just do a good job in this attempt at reforming us sinner-scholars and save us yet from the hands of the angry gods and goddesses.  But pastor or no pastor, who knows what he will do should he find us beyond redemption. For hell hath no fury like a warden scorned. (sms)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dr. Casanova Lectures @ UP Baguio

Dr. Maria del Rocio Ortuca Casanova, a visiting professor to the University of the Philippines, will be featured in the College of Arts and Communication's "Talastasan Series" this July and August at the Bulwagang Juan Luna.  

Her two lectures are "Spanish and Latin American Modernism and 1898" (18 July, 2.30-4.30 PM), and "Latin American Fiction: Post-Boom, McOndo, Crack Literature" (22 August, 2.30-4.30 PM).


18 July ("Spanish and Latin Ameircan Modernism and 1898")

Welcome Remarks:     Dean Anna Christie V. Torres, PhD
Introduction:                Prof. Ma. Rosario Y. Florendo (Emcee)
Lecture:                        Dr. Maria del Rocio Ortuña Casanova
Reaction:                       Dr. Ma. Elinora P. Imson (Reactor)
Open Forum:               Dr. Jimmy B. Fong (Moderator)

22 August ("Latin American Fiction: Post-Boom, McOndo, Crack Literature")

Introduction:                Prof. Ruth M. Tindaan (Emcee)
Lecture:                        Dr. Maria del Rocio Ortuña Casanova
Reaction:                       Dr. Anna Christie V. Torres (Reactor)
Open Forum:                Mr. Scott M. Saboy (Moderator)
Closing Remarks:         Dean Anna Christie V. Torres, PhD