History as tragedy, history as farce

Sen. Bongbong Marcos in Pangasinan (Senate photo)
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Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. (“Bongbong”) was talking “revolution” last Saturday, October 17. The occasion was his formal declaration during a ceremony in Manila’s Intramuros (walled city) that he’s running for Vice President of the Republic in 2016.

He didn’t sound as if he were running for the country’s second highest post, however, but for its highest. He said he would “lead a revolution in the mind, in the heart, and in action (“Pamumunuan ko ang isang rebolusyon sa isip, sa puso, at sa gawa”). He also said “Hindi pa tapos ang rebolusyon. Hindi pa tayo lubos na malaya (The revolution is not yet over. We are not yet truly free).”

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Elections, information, and governance

Ballot box
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It’s that time again, the filing of certificates of candidacy that’s the prelude to the months-long extravaganza cum freak show that we call elections.

Thanks to the media focus on who’s running for such national offices as the Presidency, the Vice Presidency and the Senate, an observer unfamiliar with the Philippine system can’t be blamed if he or she were to conclude that Philippine elections have nothing to do with community issues.

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Clueless in Laguna

Employees from the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) together with other representatives from DOLE Offices joined the nation in paying tribute to the fierce and empowered women of the society by participating in women symbol formation held at the Quirino Grandstand last March 7, 2014. (NCRO)
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It’s not so much the alleged “lewdness” of that performance during the October 1 birthday party of Laguna 4th district Congressman Benjamin Agarao by a group that calls itself “Playgirls” that should be pre-occupying social media and other commentators, but what it suggests about the status of women in the Philippines as well as the kind of political leadership this country has.

There is no disputing the utter bad taste evident in the performance—which, however, was not entirely the women’s doing, since it involved some of the guests themselves. In some of the clips that have been uploaded over some Internet sites, these guests are shown enthusiastically giving full expression to what appears to be their wildest fantasies. Those fantasies apparently include being serviced by willing young women. But it’s not the fantasies themselves that should concern us—almost everyone, whether man or woman, has at one time or another had them—but how they’re being realized: and that’s at the expense of real, flesh-and-blood human beings who have presumably been paid to cater to them. Equally important is whether these performances are preludes to solicitations for paid sex.

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Reliving the past

Hen. Antonio Luna (John Arcilla) and Col. Paco Roman (Joem Bascom). (Photo by Artikulo Uno)
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If the point about the study of history is to learn enough about the past so as not to repeat it, it should be more than obvious that what happened in Philippine history has never been quite understood or even widely known, the present being so obviously a repetition of the past. Those students’ wonderment after they had seen “Heneral Luna” over why Mabini was always sitting down speaks volumes about the current state of historical awareness among Filipinos—and condemns the country’s schools for their failure to impart to the young even the most basic information about the past.

Watching one movie won’t change that. But “Heneral Luna” is enjoying an unexpected, continuing run in cinemas across the country, hopefully indicating some interest in Philippine history, particularly that part of it that historians generally describe as the “second phase” of the Philippine Revolution.

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