Holiday cynics

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If there’s anything Filipinos will not be denied, it is the right to their holidays. A tyrant can savage the Bill of Rights, but can remain in power for 14 years. A fake president can turn the country over to foreigners so they can plunder and rape at will, and mock their sovereign right to choose their leaders, but may still get away with it. But don’t ever, ever even suggest that Filipinos can’t celebrate their holidays.

In the only majority Christian country in Asia, those holidays are almost solely Christmas and Lent. Though one marks the birth of Christ and the other his death and resurrection, Christmas is an occasion for the wealthy to hie off to nearby Hongkong, and Lent an excuse to fly to Rome and Lourdes. The middle class has to make do with polluted beaches and Baguio, to which lowlanders mass in such numbers they create huge traffic jams while boosting that city’s commerce. Continue reading

Volatile days ahead

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Mrs. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo said last July 19 that she would organize a Truth Commission, the members of which she would announce by July 25.

Mrs. Arroyo failed to do either. No one with an ounce of self-respect was willing to be identified with that commission, and she wasn’t really serious about it. The call for a Truth Commission had been made by the University of Santo Tomas and the Catholic Bishops Conference, apparently without much thought having gone into it. Continue reading

Hemmorrhage of teachers

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The United States will need 200,000 elementary and high school teachers each year for the next ten years. But because there won’t be enough teachers at home to meet the demand, it has turned to other countries to meet the shortage.

Among Asian countries the Philippines is a logical source of the teachers the US needs. Not only are Filipinos familiar with the English language. Due to US captivity for nearly 50 years as that country’s colony, the Philippine school system basically apes the US school system. That’s good news for the tens of thousands of teachers languishing in the low-paying, usually dead-end career that teaching has become in this country, but bad news for Filipino students and the Philippines. Continue reading

Educating DepEd

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What’s the patriotic thing to do during elections? The Department of Education’s (DepEd) Catanduanes Schools Superintendent Thelma Bueson had a bright idea. She issued “Guidelines on Patriotism” in June last year urging young people, once they’re able to vote, to vote for anyone else except “actors, actresses and basketball players.” Why? They “do not know their work in Congress because they are not educated for the positions of senator, vice president or president.”

There are several things wrong with Bueson’s “guidelines,” not the least being the incoherence of that paragraph and its emphasis on the negative. If the “actors, actresses and basketball players” who’re the subjects of Ms. Bueson’s qualms are already in Congress, there would be no point in either voting or not voting for them, would there? And is there really such a thing as being “educated for the positions of senator, vice president or president?” Continue reading

Exclusively positive

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I was at the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas’ (KBP) Top Level Management Conference last Thursday, November 10, and heard and saw Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urge those present to stop covering “kangaroo courts, lynch mobs and witch-hunts.”

Mrs. Arroyo described those involved in the “kangaroo courts,” etc., as “losers” and herself and her administration as “winners.” The public, 41 percent of whom are tired of negative news, wants winners, she said. Ergo, the media should be reporting on her latest triumphs, among them the boost in the peso’s value and her having saved P37 billion as a result of her supposedly skilful management of the country’s finances. Continue reading

Freak show

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Echoing a by now common complaint, the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) last Sunday lamented public apathy to the political crisis of the Arroyo regime. AMRSP Vice Chair Brother Manuel de Leon described this attitude as a “surrender to darkness” during the AMRSP assembly at the Ateneo campus in Quezon City.

With over 300 member-congregations, AMRSP includes in its roster such Catholic religious orders in the Philippines as the Society of Jesus, the LaSallian Brothers, the Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, and Augustinian Sisters. Continue reading

Reliving the past

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Filipinos have lived with US troops for over a hundred years. These troops replaced Spanish officers and soldiers in the aftermath of the failed 1986 Revolution, the last stages of which the United States pretended to support.

The US war for the annexation of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century meant the arrival and basing of more and more US troops in the country to “pacify” it. These soldiers were so successful in their task that by the time the US had control over the entire country, somewhere between 750,000 to a million Filipinos, mostly civilians, were dead. Continue reading

Disturbing

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Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said it was “disturbing”. But what was really disturbing was her being disturbed–and the Armed Forces’ making it seem as if, by posting or facilitating bail for a crime suspect, a broadcaster had himself committed a crime, or worse, would be implicated in any crime the suspect commits.

ABS-CBN’s Julius Babao has denied it. But if he did facilitate, ease, or even advance the money for the bail of one Tyrone del Rosario Santos alias Dawud Muslim Santos last April, why should Mrs. Arroyo find it “disturbing”–and why should the Armed Forces, not to mention one of Mrs. Arroyo’s favored media hacks, go all over town virtually accusing Babao of a crime? Continue reading

The peace of the graveyard

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Left-wing and human rights groups blame Major General Jovito Palparan of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army for most of the murders of political activists, labor leaders, members of party-list groups, and ordinary folk suspected of links with the New People’s Army. But while he might indeed be culpable, the killings are likely to be state policy rather than the result of one man’s inability to appreciate human rights and the rule of law.

Palparan has never categorically denied involvement in the killings, and has ill-concealed his glee over them. He has said in so many words that like the New People’s Army, legal, unarmed left groups are legitimate military targets, which at the very least sanctions the assassination of their leaders and members, and at most implies military involvement. Two of the suspects in one of the most recent killings are also from his command. Continue reading