Heroes

Jose Rizal, Antonio Luna, Andres Bonifacio, and Ninoy Aquino
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Jose Rizal had a girl in almost every port. Antonio Luna had a vile temper that cost him his life. Andres Bonifacio didn’t win any battles. And Ninoy Aquino was the quintessential trapo until the system he had served so well arrested, tried, and killed him.

Rizal’s intelligence, and quite possibly his charm, led to his, by pre-Joseph Estrada standards, phenomenal success with women — a multinational nine during his 35 years of life, according to historians. Certain worthies think a romantic, not to mention a sexual, side unworthy of heroism, and frown on this side of Rizal. But by common consent as well as US legislative fiat, Rizal’s not only a hero, but the national one as well (he was so declared during the US colonial regime).

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It must be love

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A marriage of convenience is what the United States and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are into, and they make for strange bedfellows indeed. One might even say that each one’s sleeping with the enemy. But as in most unions of expediency, both partners would rather forget how strategically irreconcilable, though tactically opportunist, are their interests.

Does the MILF need reminding that the marginalization and neglect of the Muslims of Mindanao were driven by US colonial policy, and that all Philippine governments since 1946 were mere policy copycats?

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Clever girl!

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The plan for constitutional amendments has been compared to a dance, which among metaphor-conscious Filipinos followed naturally from the use of “cha cha” as shorthand for it. Cha cha DIs have indeed been trying to lure everyone onto the dance floor through various inducements, among them the promise of relief from poverty, which they claim’s the result of a perennial gridlock between the President and Congress. But most Filipinos won’t dance, and it’s not so much because they think federalism and a parliamentary form of government won’t work. It’s because they doubt the motives of their champions.

Before July the result had been a dance floor littered with DIs dancing with themselves, while most of the would-be instructees have left the building. But if you think the dance hall owners and the DIs had packed up and gone out of business, think again. Despite a less than lukewarm public reception, they’ve persisted all these years. They’ve carried the campaign to schools and universities, to business groups and academia, to civil society and the media, where at least the issue has somehow remained alive, if not well and kicking.

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The gorilla in our midst

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It’s tempting to ascribe what the Arroyo government has done — forge a contentious MOA that’s likely to provoke more war rather than usher in peace — either to stupidity, a failure to fully appreciate the situation in Mindanao, or to plain clumsiness. But the temptation is tempered by the suspicion that it knew from the beginning what it was doing — and what its consequences were likely to be.

Among other epithets, the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between itself and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) it would have signed last Tuesday had not the Supreme Court intervened has been called treasonous, a betrayal, and unconstitutional. It in fact creates an entity — an autonomous state within an existing non-federal, centralized system — the present Constitution doesn’t sanction. To mean anything, it would require the restructuring of the entire Republic into a federation via the charter change of our worst nightmares.

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Ghosts

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The media, particularly TV, discovered ghost writers during the Corazon Aquino administration. It was primarily because her principal ghost writer wouldn’t stop talking about it. That was Congressman Teodoro Locsin Jr., who on numerous occasions would mention that he wrote this speech or that for Mrs. Aquino. Mr. Locsin seems to have also ghost-written for Fidel Ramos, and lately for Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Not only does he not deny it; he even seems to glory in it.

On the other hand, the late Adrian Cristobal never admitted in public that he ever wrote anything for Ferdinand Marcos, whose spokesman he once was. In one forum introduced as “the President’s (Marcos’) ghost writer,” Cristobal declared that “that is not true; the President writes his own speeches.” But Cristobal was not only in the Marcos stable of speech writers. He also wrote “his” books, among them the regime bible Today’s Revolution: Democracy, and the equally wily The Filipino Ideology.

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