February 29, 2012

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is no stranger to jokes regarding her sanity. In fact, she has been repeatedly called Brenda (brain-damaged) and Rita (retarded). There was even a joke that she will be modeling for a watch jointly made by Seiko and Patek Philippe named Seikopatek.

These jokes, notwithstanding, the good Senator has proven herself time and time again as a jurist non pareil and at the same time a legislator of good standing. A Ramon Magsaysay awardee for government service, Miriam Defensor Santiago was a trial judge of note and a professor of constitutional and international law before she was called to a ‘higher calling’. She was first elected to the Senate in 1995 after narrowly losing the presidential elections of 1992. In the four times that she ran for the Senate, she only lost once and, that, as a consequence of her position on the Estrada impeachment trial.

But more than these achievements, what drew all these attentions to the lady senator were her antics bordering on the lunacy. The way she speaks, the sound of her voice akin to that of a fingernail screeching on the blackboard, her choice of English words that can only come from dusty, cobwebbish attics, her high-falluting attitude, and the way she laughs in an unnatural and contrived manner are all good soundbites that never failed to get a laugh or two. Or a mocking remark.

True to form, the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona has drawn the best and the worst from Miriam Defensor Santiago. And sadly, the worst always came out on top. Her daily tirades, lectures, bombasts (or whatever you may want to call it) on the prosecution are not lost on the people watching the trial. Of course, the bumbling Mr Tupas and co. and the manner by which they handle their case didn’t help in abating the lady senator’s contempt for them. But this does not excuse Miriam Defensor Santiago, senator or not, in treating the prosecutors in a huff and condescending manner. Senator or not, this is not an excuse for Miriam Defensor Santiago to bully or treat others as an inferior or to grandstand on national tv at the expense of another person.

Lost in all these are the way a public official should act in public or how a person, high or low, should treat a fellow human being. It is a sad commentary that decency is a word largely forgotten in today’s milieu, at least in the Philippine context. And seeing our high officials, elected or appointed, acting in a pompous manner is truly disheartening. Fruit of the poisonous tree, indeed! No pun intended.

It is no wonder that we have been electing the likes of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to public posts. Words like decency and respect have been transplanted by corruption and impropriety, by indecency and disrespect. We have grown calloused as a people as to confuse ‘kagandahang asal’ to acts inimical to it. And we wonder why we can’t line up and wait for our turn buying movie tickets?

And when a bully is confronted by someone who has been bullied and tormented for a long time, what are we to do? High or low, senator or not, we all have our thresholds. After all, we are just human beings with all our frailties. Who among us have not a moment of insanity? And when you are confronted by words like ‘gago’ and other demeaning terms on national tv, would you not have snapped? Would you not have snapped if abused and treated as such, even if you are faced by the prospect of imprisonment?

Now, is it too much to ask the lady Senator from Iloilo and Quezon City and her fellow Senator-judges to give a little leeway to Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre II for his momentary act of insanity? A momentary act that the lady senator only knows too well.

beyond gma

September 2, 2009

everytime a presidential election looms up, the scenario of a no-el always comes up. this time, it’s the automated election and the con-ass (or charter change or whatever they prefer to call it). for the automated election scenario, it may well be looked upon as sourgraping for those who are rooting for their own favored consortium or fear by some that it may change the whole electoral equation as massive cheating may now be eliminated. and if massive cheating is not prevented even with the automated counting of votes , well, so what? we’ve been so calloused and so used to it for as long as our collective memory can recall. as for the con-ass, i hope against hope that gma still has some decency, however small (pun not intended), left in her to leave malacanang at her appointed time. now that we all saw the masses of people who grieved and braved the rains to see the funeral cortege of pres aquino, we can probably bury con-ass as well.

and now that we can move on to a future without gloria, the question we might as well ask ourselves is what lies ahead after gloria. surely, there is no rosy future for our country, at least not in the short term. it still is the same bleak prospect that this nation will be facing. no alleviation of poverty. no graft-free bureaucracy. no change in the quality of our public servants. we can go on and on and quantify the ills that beset our society and, no question about it, our country will still be in the same situation it has been – a poor, graft-ridden country whose self-proclaimed public leaders equate public service to enrichment of their own selves at the expense of the taxpayers and live a life that will make caligula green with envy.

in the face of this grave situation, there is one good news. malacanang will have a new occupant come 2010. democracy is alive and the tyranny that has threatened this poor nation once again has been finally put to its rightful end. for indeed, gma is, so far, the worst president this country has ever seen since the late dictator ferdinand marcos. she is even worse than her disgraced predecessor who as we all know is a convicted plunderer. at least, erap had no intention of clinging on to power beyond his term unlike gloria who not only plunders but planned on plundering more beyond her term of office.

during gloria’s eight-year reign, we have been witnesses to her insincerities (remember her bagiuo i-won’t-run speech add to this when she appeared on tv after the garci fiasco and apologized for her indiscretion but not for the cheating), the high number of media personalities murdered, the resurgence of human rights violations (the melo commission just came short of accusing these violations as state-sponsored policy), denials of what were the obvious (garci tete-a-tete), using legalities for immoral gains, her dictatorial tendencies and unlawful executive orders (eo 464 et al) and most of all the corruption under her administration. what made all of these more galling, mind-blowing, unacceptable and insulting to the filipino people was the way gma and her people handled all these fiascos, from the massive cheating thanks to garci, the jose pidal scandal, the nbn-zte scandal to the latest P1M dinner at new york (to name a few) with flimsy and poorly thought excuses as if implying that she can get away with whatever improprieties she may or would want to commit. it is as if the words shame, decency, dignity and delicadeza are not part of the president’s vocabulary. one can only surmise what kind of upbringing and education she had in her formative years. for intelligence alone does not define what an excellent leader should be.

having a president and so-called public leaders with such low moral standards, is it then a surprise why we filipinos would go follow the example of our so-called leaders? we can see this in our midst and in our daily lives and experiences. in a traffic situation, one would see a car zooming ahead creating a counter-flow. policemen and the lowly mmda, mapsa, pasay chocolate boys accepting bribes in exchange for a ticket violation. judges fixing cases for the accused. this is also true with those tax collectors, customs and immigration officials, land transportation officials and most government bureacrats. and why not? if the highest official in the land together with her husband and their circle of immoral friends can get away with it, why not them? somehow, in our own way of thinking, it is alright to do it as long as our role models do it. perversion is truly contagious.

and what role models these people are! ever since marcos, we have seen these high officials getting rich from graft and people’s money with impunity. in fact, being a congressman, a senator (with the probable exception of juan flavier) or a president has become such a lucrative business that others have tried to become one. it is no wonder why some has-been actors and actresses, now that the local movie industry is practically non-existent, have been trying for some time to make a career change from being thespians to instant politicians. one even stated that having immersed himself with an urban poor community for a week while making a film with these people made him see the problems affecting the country. this guy is a genius! a week with an urban poor community and he already has the solutions to the problems of this country. it was such a relief that he lost his bid for the senate and is now a popular host of a singing contest where he really belongs. the senate today is a far cry from the senate of yesteryears were the likes of diokno, tanada, recto and salonga made the senate a truly respectable institution. today, we have the likes of leon guerrero, jinggoy and jamby the usurper and a few more that does not deserve the rightful respect of the people. what future as a people do we have with these people in the senate? what future do we have with all those bozos in the congress spending their pork barrels as if it is their own?

which reminds me of that fresh doctor who topped the medical board exam years ago and who opted to go to the u.s. as a nurse instead of practicing and helping his fellow countrymen as a doctor here in his own country. can we blame him for his decision to migrate to u.s. as a nurse? who are we to judge him when all he wanted to do was to improve the quality of his life and help his family in the philippines. at the rate things are going, one is tempted to ask if one needs a visa to timbuktu.

we are so proud to be a filipino when there is really nothing to be proud of. for every boxing match won, for every revered leader that passed away, for every fil-am that was elected to a state legislature, we beat our chests and declare our pinoy pride. why? how many leaders past and present can we really be proud of? how many achievements can we count on as a people that we can truly be proud of? why is it that we cling to these things as if these are the things that will bind us as a people? is it because, underneath this veneer of chest-beatingt, there is a sense of desperation within us all that there is really nothing that we can claim as our own and thus cling on these achievements as national pride however misplaced these feelings are? you don’t see an american declaring ‘i am proud to be an american’ do you? never see an american declare he or she is proud to be an american just because floyd mayweather floored a non-american. because they don’t need to! it’s all there for the world to see.

we have become a nation of migrants, of thugs and thieves, and a people who refuse to acknowledge the state that we are in. we have been in denial, as a nation, for a long time. we have chosen to be blind in the face of contiuing poverty, corruption and misgovernance .we are a nation that is politically, economically and morally bankrupt. our leaders, past and present, have denied us our potential as a people and as a nation. we, too, as a people, have denied ourselves that same potential to be a nation that is just, free and prosperous.

what this country needs now is short of a miracle. a true leader who has the political will to rid the government of corruption, implement unpopular but much needed reform in our political system and most of all, uphold the law of the land without any qualms. and more importantly, we need, as an individual and as a people, to reform ourselves if we really want this nation to move forward.

we don’t need heroes. we have enough of them to remind us of who we were. we need leaders who will remind us who we are and who we should be.

and as for gloria, senator, congresswoman or private citizen, immunity from prosecution or none, there is a time for reckoning. there always is.

cup size

August 20, 2009

hindi ako makapaniwala nung una kong mabasa na ang ating kagalang-galang na presidente ay nagpalaki ng suso. ang tingin ko kasi sa mahal nating pangulo ay isang simpleng babae na walang dangis ng kalandian sa katawan.

tunay na mali pala ang aking paniniwala. katulad na lang nang paniniwala ko na ang simpleng pangulong ito ay hindi kasama sa mga pangungurakot sa kaban ng bayan. katulad na rin ng paniniwala ko na ang mahal nating pangulo ay mabibilang sa mga epektibong pangulo ng bansa. katulad ng paniniwala ko na si gma lang ang puwedeng humango sa kahirapan ng ating bayan.

nagkakamali pala ako.

parang pagkakamali ko ng naniwala akong isang malaking tulong sa pagsulong ng ating bansa na magkaroon ng isang first gentleman, bilang abugado at hasendero, na hindi na kailangang mangurakot sa mga serbisyong pampubliko at makihalo sa mga kasunduang pang-pinansyal na punung-puno ng katiwalian. parang pagkakamali ko ng maniwala akong di na tatakbong muli ang natatangi nating presidenteng ng magsalita siya sa baguio. parang pagkakamali ko na porke isang magaling na propesora ng ekonomiya sa ateneo ang pangulo ay kahit papaano ay may mangyayari sa pag-angat ng ekonomiya ang ating bansa.

isang malaking pagkakamali.

mabalik tayo sa pagpapalaki ng hinaharap ng isang babae. isa kasi ako sa mga naniniwalang, bilang isang lalaki, na hindi kasiraan o hindi makakabawas sa pagkababae ang magkaroon ng cup a o ng cup d. maitanong ko lang sana si mr remonde, naging cup c po ba sir? gusto ko lang linawin dahil sa siya’y isang pangulo, nararapat lang sigurong malaman ng bayan ang cup size niya pagkatapos niyang magpadagdag ng sukat. hindi naman siguro nating dapat alamin na ang cup size ng pangulo kung hindi sya ‘nagpadagdag’.

hindi naman siguro ako nagkakamali sa paniniwalang ito.

isa din ako sa mga naniniwalang ang pinakamamahal nating bayan ay lugmok sa kahirapan sa mga panahon ngayon. maaaring hindi ito nararamdam ng iilan sa ating mga kababayan pero naniniwala akong higit sa kuwarenta porsiyento ng ating mga kababayan ay nakakain lamang ng dalawang beses sa isang araw. naniniwala din ako na nakakarami sa ating mga kapwa pilipino ay nangangarap man lang magkabahay na maituturing nilang talagang kanila. naniniwala din ako na ang karamihan sa ating mga kabayan ay nangangailang ng murang gamot at pantustos man lang sa mga ospital kung saka-sakaling mangailangan sila ng mga serbisyong ospital lang ang makakasagot. naniniwala din ako na ang mga buwis na sinisingil sa ating mga mamamayan ay hindi naibabalik bilang serbisyo ng pamahalaan para sa kanilang mamamayan. ano nga ba ang silbi ng buwis kundi mabigyan ng sapat na serbisyo ang ating mga kabayan? nasasaan ang mga serbisyong ito? nandyan ang lubak-lubak na mga kalye. ang bilang ng mga kapulisan kung ikukumpara sa dami ng taong kanilang nasasakupan. nandiriyan na rin ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga estudyante sa mababa at mataas na antas ng paaralan na kulang sa mga libro, silid-aralan at iba pang pasilidad na kakailanganin nila sa pagkalap ng kaalaman na kakailangin nila bilang araw sa kumpetisyong mangyayari di lang sa bawa’t kamag-aral nilang magtatapos ng kolehiyo kundi na rin sa pangangailan ng ibang bansa sa mga taong may natatanging kaalaman na kakailanganin ng mga banyagang kumpanyang ito. isa rin akong naniniwalang ang ating mga kabataan ay kulang sa nutrisyong kakailanganin nila sa pang-araw araw nilang pakikipagtangguli sa kahirapan ng buhay.

naniniwala pala ako sa wala.

hindi naman ako naniniwalang kasalanan lang ito ng ating pamunuan. siguro may kakulangan din tayo bilang mamamayan ng bayang ito. kung ang liderato ng bansang ito ay nakakalusot sa mga kalokohan, pagnanakaw at pandarambong sa kaban ng bayan, hindi ba’t natural lang na gayahin ng nakararami nating mga kababayan ang kaugaliang ito.

oo. may kakulangan din tayong bilang mamamayan ng pilipinas. nararapat lang siguro na mapakinggan ang ating boses tungkol sa mga korapsiyon at iba pang katiwalian na nangyayari sa ating kapaligiran. maaaring isipin nating kung sino man ang pumalit sa pangulo pagdating ng nalalapit na eleksiyon ay wala rin namang magbabago. maaari ngang wala. dahilan na rin siguro na ang magiging pangulo ay makukulong sa sistema ng kabulukang tila naging institusyon na sa mga bawat antas ng gobyerno mula sa barangay, mga kapulungang nangongolekta ng buwis at iba pang parte ng burukrasya hanggang malakanyang.

maaari nga. ngunit maaari din naman tayong mamili ng ibang alternatibo liban sa mga nagpapahayag sa pagtakbo sa kataas-taasang posisyon ng ating bansa kung magkakaroon lang tayo ng isang boses.

marami akong naririnig sa ating mga kababayan na uunahin muna nila ang trabaho nila bago sila makilahok sa mga nangyayari sa ating bansa. sa isang banda, hindi rin naman natin sila masisisi. ilang edsa na ba ang pinagdaanan natin at wala pa ring pagbabago. nakakasawa na kung tutuusin. pero sana naman mamulat sila sa katotohanang kung hindi man lang sila makasama sa mga pagkilos laban sa mga katiwaliang nangyayari sa kanilang kapaligiran ay isaloob nila na kailangan naman talaga ng pagbabago sa ating bansa. nararapat lang siguro nilang malaman na ang antas nang kanilang pamumuhay ay nakatali sa mga negatibong liderato at mga katiwalian sa burukrasyang nangyayari sa kanilang kapaligiran.

isang boses lamang. yung lang ang maaaring kailanganin natin sa pag-iba sa sistemang tila hindi na nating mababago. isang sistemang hindi naman talaga nating mababago sa isang magdamag. ganunpaman, isang boses lang ang kailangan upang unti-unti nating mabago ang nararapat baguhin.

bata pa ang pilipinas kung ikukumpara sa mga amerika, britanya, hapon, at tsina. marami pang pagbabago ang pupuwede nating isagawa.

isang boses. isang programa tungo sa pagbabago. isang pangarap. di naman siguro ganun kahirap gawin ito.

isang boses at hindi isang cup size ang sagot sa nakakarami nating problema.


June 23, 2009

i revel in my poverty

but sometimes i wish i have more

not more more

rather a little bit more.

dealt a cruel hand

i have no choice but to embrace

nay, revel and celebrate

poverty as it is.

but truth be told

there is really nothing to revel about.

and p.s.

poverty sucks!

i wish i have more.

not a bit more

but more more…

bill gates more!

i wish…


Rock Bottom

June 23, 2009


She knew this was the time.   

It was getting worse. Her whole body would shake at any given time and her world would seem to collapse with it. Nights were much, much worse. All alone in her room, very much awake, she would think of almost anything. Her past would haunt her as well as the present. The sight of a simple book or the sound of a certain melody would trigger a sudden urge or incomprehensible anger. The world was gradually shrinking and she was being enveloped in it. This sense of isolation was so overwhelming she would find herself crying at a corner of her small room with nothing but her ever-dependable drug of choice as her only solace.

Reality sank in. She was no longer in control. She would go mad eventually if she continued on this course. Deep within her, she knew it was only a matter of time before insanity takes place. but first, there’s a question that’s been nagging her for a long time which she was terrified to answer knowing fully well what the answer might be. was she an addict? she just could not face the fact that she became one. that she had become one of those scums that used to be the favorite topics of the guys when they were on a laughing trip. those miserable scums addicted to cough syrups and rugby. it’s unbelievable that she became one of them. certainly, she’s got a lot of class than those lowlifes. sometimes, a person would be surprised at the courage that she can muster when faced with such a frightening reality–that she were desperately hanging on to her sanity by the tip of her fingers; and given two options between sanity or insanity, of survival or death, she chose the first option with what’s left of her reason which was really nothing much at that time. She learned the gravity of the situation when she entered this fancy rehab clinic in one of the suburbs south of manila and began to participate in its daily rituals and chores. She had a hard time reading a paragraph from the ‘bible’ aloud and she cannot speak lest she mumble and eat the words. it was much worst later on. writing her daily journal took a lot of effort with a lot of focusing and concentration which before would just flow in naturally and effortlessly from somewhere within her brain. 

her stint in the fancy rehab didn’t have a positive effect on her life. she continued on with her old lifestyle. and somehow, the affliction had worsened. 

She was on the last phase of a downhill ride in her life. the moment that she crashed down to earth, suicide was no longer an abstract and distant thought but more and more of an option. the only way out from all her sins, tortured conscience and crushing guilt. it was the lowest point in her life when all the problems that she can think of , much, much more than she can handle, descended on her in one sweep fall.

it was a process that began with a denial of how deep down the hole she were in; she tried to let fear from creeping inside her and she shifted her thoughts to something more pleasant, even entertaining a false sense of hope, that she can still do something to delay the impact and thus gain precious time; where time is measured as: a moment = eternity. then somewhere along when she was running out of options and groping for more drastic ideas bordering on the ridiculous and the wild, fear gradually entered until it resided in every cell of her body and she found herself sweating hard in an air-conditioned room. having just ran out of options, a state of panic seized her entire body. she then instinctively closed her eyes as if to erase this painful part of her life in her memory’s databank, or more like a child moving his head from side to side wishing that these were all a mistake or a nightmare and that it would go away by itself. meanwhile, her brain was working so hard and at such a frightening pace that something in the remote recesses of her brain automatically and methodically began shutting off the different switches to prevent it from overloading [something like the engine of your car blowing out since the pistons cannot keep up with the rapid pace of its movement]. 

after which she experienced a profound change–more of the divine than of the mundane. the last refuge in a sea of chaos. it was like drowning when the sensation of peace and total solitude and acceptance kicked in after the initial fear. in fact, it was her only refuge. after working her brain so hard and pushing it to its limit, well beyond its imaginary envelope, the sad realization that she was after all just a tiny, finite speck in an infinite space dawns on her; that no matter how advanced and intelligent we have become since the days of the apes and the monkeys, we are just but a minute detail playing a most insignificant part in the history of evolution and lending it with our unnoticeable existence as fast as a shooting star disappearing from our sight into heaven’s bosom. we surrender to something greater than ourselves. just like what our primitive ancestors did when faced with an incomprehensible situation, we kneel to something that’s beyond finite and comprehensible.

it was at this point that she knew she was an addict. was it really that hard to admit to herself that she was one? was it too much of a reality for a woman like her? Maybe.

She instinctively ran out of her bedroom, past the livingroom and into her dad’s little sanctuary — his home office. she pulled open the topmost drawer of her father’s desk and got hold of the cold, uncaring .38 caliber revolver that her father kept.

No tears. No regrets. This is her final escape.

Remembering My Father

June 22, 2009

Apolonio M. Batalla



i’ve tried writing about my father for so many years now, but everytime i was in front of my pc, i couldn’t seem to pull it off. tears would suddenly flow just thinking about my papa. it hurts to write in the past tense about somebody that you really love. yes, i was hurting. and i couldn’t seem to shake it off.

my father was not an emotional person. he did not display his affection to us in public. but he would let us know his affection for us in our everyday lives. but still, i’ve regretted the fact that i wasn’t able to hug him and kiss him and tell him that i love him so much up until he died. i’ve regretted the fact that i wasn’t able to graduate from college at the time of his death when it was his desire to see me march on graduation day. i’ve regretted the fact that he lent me his name and i wasn’t able to live up to his expectation. i’ve regretted the fact that he passed away in a manner that does not befit a good man that he was.

my father was a newspaperman. although he studied law at mlqu and passed the same year he graduated from law school ( he also attended the Harvard International Seminar under Henry Kissinger), he opted to work for the manila daily bulletin. he started out as a cub reporter for manila daily bulletin (the precursor of bulletin today and manila bulletin) and rose from the ranks to become the daily columnist and editorial writer for bulletin today for 2 decades. as a columnist, his idea is to “inform the public and to impart to them my opinion in a balanced manner.” 

for him to sustain his daily columns, he read a lot on politics, business, economics and languages. i remember him took up mandarin and french (at alliance francaise) language courses so he can read more books that were written in chinese or french. 

he didn’t work late hours as most newspapermen did. he would leave at 5am and was home at around 5pm. everytime he arrived, one of us (we are four boys in the family) would remove his socks and put shoe trees in his shoes. apart from this, we would get him a bottle of cold beer (his maximum intake was a couple of beer) or a shot of his favorite whiskey or a snifter of brandy once in a while. a platitio of adobong maniawaited him everyday or nilagang mani. he would chat with us for a while, asking about our day and would begin reading his magazines like time, newsweek, fortune or his book of the day. he was a serious person. but come dinner time, he would play around with his kids and that would make our day. 

in our family, the disciplinarian was my mom. i never remember my dad raising a hand on us or using profane language at us. the most that he will say is pambihira!. no p.i.s and no bs. but when he thought that we had outstepped our boundary, one look from him was enough for us to be on the straight and narrow. he was a decent man, my papa. he was decent in the way he talked, the way he composed himself, the way he dressed and the way he dealt with other people. 

i would always want to think that i was his favorite child though my brothers would of course laugh off the idea. he gave me his name. that explains the a period in my name. when i was diagnosed with a leg condition, he lost his cool and punched his working table in his room. that was the only time i saw him display his anger. he didn’t go to mass for a couple of sundays either. and because i was told by my doctor to be bedridden for about a year (this was when i was in grade 5), he bought me my very own television set. later on, when my mom took me to a different doctor, i was told that i need not be bedridden for a year and that i can use a leg brace. but the television set stayed in my room.

on my first year in high school (which was in parañaque), he would bring me to school and since i would normally go out at around 3pm, he made some sacrifices and adjustments and would be at the school an hour or 30 minutes before 3. and that’s for one whole year since i was still in clutches or braces then. i think that those were the happiest moments of my life being with him alone driving me to and from school. we would usually stopped by an ice cream house in zapote or josephine’s in kawit for a halo-halo on our way home. he would tell me some anecdotes from his office or news on the political front and i would tell him my experiences in school. i skipped out the bad experiences, of course. 

my elder brothers and i attended the same high school. i don’t think that there was an occassion that my dad was called in the principal’s office for some misconduct done by my brothers. and i hope i can say the same way with me but, surely, it won’t be me if it happened that way. my dad would be called in by my high school principal about some things i did in school. he would gamely talked to the principal. and everytime he went out of the principal’s office, i would be shaking with fear what my father would tell or do to me. but he never scolded me nor did he discuss anything that was said to him by the principal. the only time he did was when i slapped a classmate with one of those huge hardbound literature (or is it algebra) book in the chest. you see, my father was a non-believer in violence. he never even owned a gun. he was once given a gun by a senator from capiz during the 60’s but he gave it to my mom’s brother.

there was some sort of tradition in our family. everytime there was a cause for celebration or a birthday in the family, we would go out and had dinner at those five-star hotels or restaurants. at my young age, it was an education in good taste as much as an adventure in knowing the culinary differences in other parts of the world. i would count the days for the next birthday to come but unfortunately, me and my brothers celebrate our birthdays months apart. i also remember that every sunday lunch, we always had nilagang baka. always! if not, we had pochero. the only difference will be the matching viand. we either had grilled liempo, or chicharong bulaklak or grilled tamban or grilled chicken to go with the nilagang baka. i do not really know the reason for that but my father would insist on it. i really had no problem with that because i would usually be the first one at the table and had the bone marrow for myself before my brothers would even had their share. 

papa was a simple man. he was not ambitious. he wouldn’t step on any man’s shoes (or any woman’s for that matter) just to get promoted. he just did his work. if i may, let me quote the respected columnist mr alejandro roces on his may 6, 1985 malaya column:

“it is national press week week and a good time to talk about the good things that can happen to persons connected with the press. one of these things is the appointment of a man who began in the lowest ranks of the working press as publisher of bulletin today…

…we are referring of course, to the appointment of apolonio batalla as publisher of bulletin today…

…members of the press are happy about batalla not because it was such a long jump, but mostly because it came quite unexpectedly, because it could not have happened to a more deserving person…

… how refreshing it is to witness in an organization that is powerful, the positiion seeking the man, instead of the usual man seeking the position”

i may not approximate my father’s hard-earned success, but i have every intention of matching the goodness of his heart.

With my Papa

ang sabi nila, ano nga ba naman ang mabuhay ka sa mundo. kailangan mo ba talagang magpakahirap sa trabaho kung pwede ka na lang namang magpakasarap sa buhay. hindi ba kung tutuusin ay isa lang tuldok ang kasaysayan ng ating buhay kung ikukumpara sa kasaysayan ng ating mundo simula pa ng hindi pa naisusulat ang kasaysayan.

siguro naman kung susuriin mo ang ganitong pananaw ay may punto rin naman. ano ba nga naman ang buhay ng isang magsasaka o ang buhay ng isang katulad ni barack obama sa pangkalahatang kasaysayan ng ating mundo? sa tingin mo ba naman na ang e=mc2 ng isang propesor na tila hindi nagsusuklay ng buhok ay may kahihinatnan o importansya? sa tingin mo ba na ang imbensiyon ng telepono ng isang taong nagngangalang bell ay may silbi sa pangkahalatang litrato ng bagay-bagay? sa tingin mo ba, kung saka-sakaling mawawala si bill gates o si warren buffet sa mundong ito, may pakialam ba ang karamihan sa mga taong maiiwan nila? malamang maging laman ng mga pahayagan ng isang linggo at pagkatapos ay mabibilang na lang ang istorya ng buhay nila sa mga librong kinumisyon ng kanilang mga pundasyon o pamilya.

pero bumalik tayo sa puntong kung ang buhay ng isang ordinaryong tao ay tatagal ng mga limampu o hanggang animnapung taon, may kahihinatnan kaya ito sa kasaysayan ng mundong nagkakaedad na nang milyong taon. ano nga ba ang animnapung taong buhay mo, matagumpay ka man sa napili mong propesyon o maging tambay ka man sa kanto skung ikukumpara sa milyong taong kasaysayan ng mundo. so why bother achieving something in your life when you’re nothing but a speck (not even!) in the history of humankind.

pero sa isang banda, kung susuriin mo ang kasaysayan ng mundo, malamang nagkakaskas pa rin tayo ng bato o ng kahoy para lang magkalingas o magkaapoy ang mga hibla ng tuyong dahon kakailangin natin sa pagpapainit ng ating kapaligiran o sa pagluto ng karne ng bagong katay na baboy damo.

dahil na rin siguro sa kolektibong kontribusyon ng ating mga ninuno na napunta tayo sa estado ng ating buhay na kung saan may mga makabagong teknolohiya na nagpapadali sa pamumuhay natin. nandiriyan ang pagliit ng mundo sa pamamagitan ng internet at ang pagsulpot ng mga makabagong komunikasyon katulad ng radyo, telebisyon at selpon.

di rin natin siguro makakaila na sa isang kolektibong aksyon nagkaroon ng pagkakataon ang mga minorya ng ating lipunan na magkaroon ng boses di lang sa paggawa ng batas kundi na rin ng partisipasyon sa pagpapatakbo ng gobyerno.

ganito rin siguro ang kailangan natin sa pagtutol sa mga di makatarungang isinasabatas ng ating mga mapanglinlang na mambabatas para lang maipasa ang kani-kaniyang interes. isang kolektibong aksyon na di lang matatapos sa pagsupil sa mga lideratong may hangaring saliwa sa hangarin ng karamihan ng ating mga kababayan. isang kolektibong aksyon na kung saan maipagpapatuloy natin ang pagbantay sa mga lideratong na may pangsariling interes at isang kolektibong aksyon na makakatulong sa ating sariling interes bilang mamamayan ng bansang ito.

maaaring mas kinakailangan nating ang isang matinding kolektibong aksyon di na lang sa paglaban sa mga mapaniil na liderato ng ating bansa kundi na rin isang pandaigdigang kolektibong aksyon upang labanan ang mga modernong problemang kinahaharap ng mundo natin katulad ng polusyon, sa pagkalap ng basura, sa pakikiisa sa pagbigay galang sa inang lupa, ang pagtigil ng iligal na pamumutol ng kahoy, ang paglaban sa paglaya ng ating mga kababayang nalulugmok sa kahirapan, sa mga karumal-dumal na krimen, sa pagkalat ng droga sa ating kapaligiran at marahil marami pang bagay na kinakaharap sa pagsagip ng ating kapaligiran at pati na rin ng mundong siya lang nating matatawag na tirahan.

ang punto ko lang po, kung pagtutulung-tulungan nating lahat ang mga nararapat gawin bilang isang mamamayan ng ating bansa at pati na rin bilang mamamayan ng ating planeta ay magkakaroon ng isang malaking kabuluhan sa pag-usad ng sibilisasyon kung ikukumpara sa maggagawa nating bilang isang indibidwal.

the freak show

June 18, 2009

there was a time in my childhood when the only form of entertainment during town fiestas were the fair (or perya as what we call them) where ferris wheel, octopus, carousel were the available rides and bingo, beto-beto and a shot at a prizes using bb guns are available if you’re not motion-inclined. but still, there were some side shows where all you need is to pay a peso to enter house-like enclosures to see human beings with deformities and billed as such (i.e. the human dolphin) with their limbs like that of a dolphin. these were called freak shows

still, there were some who were viewed as freaks because of their physical attributes like the dwarves or those born without any appendages, deafs, blinds, mutes or simply those with polios.

it is easy to judge these people with disablities as freaks. but are they really freaks? are they really freaks of nature or simply individuals that were born unlike those of us who are complete and ‘normal’.

the way i see it, these people are not freaks. it may not conform to the proper definition of being a freak but still, these are people that didn’t choose to be born with physical aberration. these are normal people who are capable of rational thought and is capable of being productive in a most honest way.

lately, headlines in the local newspapers are filled with people who would push some new laws with their own agenda in mind. some headlines would display ‘normal’ people who would display irrational behaviour such as stealing funds from government coffers.

it is sad that these people who have high educational background would display irrational thoughts or behaviour.

one general who was tasked to manage funds for his organization was found skimming off money and bringing it to the US using his sons, no less, for this illegal act.

another general who was also tasked to manage funds for the Philippine National Police was caught in Russia, of all places, with an undetermined amount of money in his possession.

another general who violated every possible human rights just to further his fight against so-called enemy of the people. 

a former president who has a penchant for merlot of the petrus brand who would play mahjong at the middle of the night with his cronies seemingly with governance not a part of his limited vocabulary.

then there was the zte deal. abalos, jdv, fg, gma and a lot more who have the intention of stealing people blind.

there was also the time when gma herself went on national television categorically stating that she will not run for another term only to renege on her promise and run winning with the help of garci.

and what about the senators outmaneuvering each other so that one or two of  their colleagues won’t get the nod of people come 2010.

there were also local government officials caught for dealing large amounts of illegal drugs.

and what about the judges who would find some technical loopholes to release big time drug dealers.

government employees (from bir, bid, lto, etc) committing fraud and theft like there’s no tomorrow.

last but not least, the members of the lower house of congress. lately, these bunch of nincompoops are pushing for a constituent assembly to prolong gma’s stay on power whether it be the presidency beyond 2010 or changing the system of government so that gma can be voted as a prime minister.

well, we can go about enumerating all these shenanigans in our government and it won’t fit this blog. 

so now, the big question is who are the real freaks? those who were born with disabilities or those who were not born with any physical defects but chose to ignore the rule of law as if they themselves were above the law.

the so-called freak shows of my childhood  is nothing compared with what’s happening to our society now.

the fraud in the present administration  is the real freak show. these shameless people in power who would flaunt their ill-gotten wealth and cling to power at the detriment of the public at large.

it’s one big freak show. and nobody’s enjoying it. when it will end is something only madame auring can predict.


May 1, 2009


the butcher of samar

general palparan



i promised myself to be apolitical and to not write anything about philippine politics here in facebook. in fact, i’ve refrained myself from writing anything political not only here in fb but in my other blogs as well. i’ve gotten calloused by the way this administration has broken every rule in the book. but i just can’t help but comment on this thing about palparan being voted into congress under the party list bantay. it really riled me up. it’s just another manifestation of the brazenness of the gma administration when it comes to shoving into our arse whatever it wants. and doing this with impunity at that. isn’t it pathetic that we, as a people, would simply let gma and her minions do whatever they want to do and get away with it cleanly. from the hello garci scandal, the pidal episode, the piatco terminal, the human rights violations, the nbn-zte fiasco and a lot more that didn’t make it through the headlines. it is simply outrageous that we are letting this happen. they’ve done practically everything to undermine the system that they should be upholding. 

instead of solving the real problems besetting this country- the corruption, the decades old mindanao question, the rights of the indigenous people and other seemingly insurmountable issues, the gma administration seem to be preoccupied in enriching themselves or building a war chest to push their own candidate to capture the 2010 presidency or building a much larger war chest to counter every lawsuit that may come their way once they got booted out of office in 2010. in other words, self-preservation. so what else is new? this did not happen during the cory and fvr administration. but they were not able to answer all the issues besetting the country either. but at least, they contributed something to push our country out of the doldrums.

palparan is nothing but a two-star/bit thug. he;s just another manifestation of the ills the gma administration is all about. how can one let a person who has violated every imaginable human right get voted into congress when, clearly, his party-list bantay didn’t make the cut in the first place. palparan is nothing but a criminal. it’s tiring to see all these shenanigans happen right before our eyes. how can we prevent another occurrence of this type? how can we, as a people, try to stop such brazenness on the part of the powers-that-be?

palparan is just another pawn to (or another vote) to get cha-cha moving in congress. ahh… why is gma so afraid of her shadow that she is so desparate to cling on to the presidency beyond 2010?

clearly, we haven’t matured as a nation. we would vote for every actor, newscaster and trapos out there. i won’t be surprised to see madame auring and diana zubiri voted into congress; and for every mistake that these clowns make, we would just forget everything as if this does not affect our daily lives. corruption has become a way of life and is so accepted by almost every one. it’s one big freak show. when do we learn as a people? learn is the operative word here. we should, on our own little way, educate our neighbors on how not to fall for the promises of these shallow politicians and see them for what they really are- wolves in armani suits who looked after their own interests and not of their constituencies.

educate. educate. educate. let’s do our part before we sink deeper in the muck that we so apathetically, pathetically and unwittingly created for ourselves. start from the grassroots where a lot are prone to promises, the glitter of the personalities and their campaign and the free lunch on every political rally that they attend.

may 2010 is just around the corner and all the viable candidates are not so viable at all. we need someone who has the political will to stop the corruption, the will to say no for every illegal favors being asked of him. someone who can truly usher this nation back to where it was before — when we were the 1st in southeast asia and 2nd only to japan in the whole of asia. i know it’s a momentous task but isn’t it worth the try?

must there be another martial law to keep the people in tow? i think not. but we can definitely change the unethical, immoral things that’s been plaguing this country for so long. all we need is one uber-mensch to clean this up. a strong man maybe but not necessarily a dictator. whoever this person is, he definitely is not included in the list of the viable presidentiable for 2010. one can only hope.

i rest my case. and i just hope that i am still here when we have escaped the vicious cycle that has enveloped us for decades. keeping my fingers crossed.

bamboo shoots with chicken wings

bamboo shoots with chicken wings

first time i cooked this dish, i overshot the runway and had a salty labong in my hands. at that time, i was mindful of the secret my mom shared me in preparing labong. the secret in preparing labong, as told to me by my mom, is to salt ’em up and gently ‘piga-pigain’ the bamboo shoots. but what happened was that i put too much salt on it as opposed to just sprinkling salt on it just so that the bamboo shoots acquire a taste. a most delectable dish, this labong, when done right. and an easy one to prepare and cook, too.


labong (bamboo shoots) 20 pesos worth of shredded bamboo shoots
chicken wings 3 pieces with wingtip chopped off
onions half of an onion sliced horizontally
tomatoes 3 pieces diced
garlic a clove or two of garlic, crushed and then minced

preparing the bamboo shoots
wash the bamboo shoots with baking soda. remember, bamboo shoots may be delectable but you do not know who shred it or the places it had gone to after being harvested. and yes, you’re going to eat this. so better you eat it clean.

rinse the bamboo shoots thoroughly after having soaked it in a large bowl with water and baking soda. then salt it up. but not too much. just right. and leave it be for 5 minutes.

add your purified water onto the large bowl just half the amount of the bamboo shoots that it contains. set aside.

preparing the chicken wings

chop the chicken wings into 1-inch chunks starting from the tip and working your way upwards. you may want to use your rubber mallet in doing this. or better yet, let your suking butcher do it.

having done this, season the chicken chunks with salt and pepper and set it aside for 30 minutes.

the cooking process

1 heat up your wok and add about a couple of tablespoon of oil into it. when oil is hot, add the chicken chunks and brown them a bit.

2 cover the chicken chunks with water and bring it to a boil. lower the heat once boiling and let the chicken chunks simmer until liquid is reduced to about half its original amount. pour the chicken broth into a separate container. remove the chicken chunks from the wok.

3 now, add oil into the wok and saute the garlic. before the garlic turns brown, add the onions and the tomatoes. saute the whole mix for a minute or two before adding chicken chunks.

4 add the labong together with its water and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. if necessary, add more water to cover the labong and chicken chunk mix.

5 lower heat and let it all simmer for 10-15 minutes or until bamboo shoots are tender.

serve with fried liempo or any fried fish and steamed rice.