Monthly Archives: July 2010

Abolish it, now!

THIS IS NOT the first column to be written on this matter and I bet this is not to be the last.  The clamor for the abolition of the Sanguniang Kabataan crops up every so often and intensifies before barangay elections, but alas, the SK has stayed and hanged on like sticky phlegm lingering on the nation’s throat.  I say this is the right time to cough it out, given a president who is sincere in cleaning up the government bureaucracy.

Nothing has done more damage to the Filipino youth’s political education and participation more than the SK.  The structure was meant to give young people, who make up a big chunk of the country’s population, the opportunity to contribute to nation building.  It was envisioned to be a breeding ground for future leaders, an avenue for youth empowerment.

But it has, dear karikna, disappointed, and disappointed us big time.

What youth empowerment do we see when most SK programs are merely confined to the staging of cheesy Mr. and Ms. SK events, holding of basketball leagues, construction of basketball courts and waiting sheds, and clean and green photo-operations where they would sweep the streets, plant a couple of seedlings, and pose in front of cameras as if they have reverted climate change?

Occasionally, there are some innovations.  In Laoag City last February, the SK Federation held one of their biggest activities—a mixed martial arts event described by witnesses as “bloody and fierce”.  It was dubbed “Suntukan sa Laoag”.

For doing just these things in addition to attending sessions where they are usually benchwarmers and sleepyheads if not perennial absentees, SK officials receive monthly honoraria and other emoluments, privileges and benefits, even free tuition fees in state universities. Continue reading

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Filed under Filipino Youth, Government/Politics

Book

I FINALLY agreed, dear karikna, to pursue what well-meaning friends and readers have been prodding me to do:  write a book.

I made the decision the other week when I opened our refrigerator and saw my newspaper column wrapped around a bundle of Saluyot.  I asked mom why, she said it was, anyway, from an old issue.

Even with the amounts of time, and energy, and sanity that go with writing a regular weekly column, I have always known that yesterday’s paper is today’s junk, and there was no way I would have been so sensitive and felt offended.  Still, not unlike in a melodramatic soap opera, memories came flashing back because of that incident.  I remembered how many hours of sleep I missed to meet deadlines.  The cups of coffee downed, and the many bottles of SanMig Light I gulped to reward myself for articles that I was particularly happy with.

I recalled one time when I hit the keyboard while a nasty typhoon pounded the city.  Because my laptop ran only on battery, I had to adjust the screen to its dimmest, and to my eyes’ protestations, so that the power would last.  And then there were times when internet access would be faulty, and, aboard my good old bicycle, I would brave the rains or the scorching heat, to find a computer shop with a working connection so I can transmit my work.

But the most difficult part lies in determining what to write.  There were countless moments when I would stare blankly on the screen, trying to balance, not with ease, the varying interests of a wide range of readers.  There are those who would complain when I write about local issues, which they cannot relate to because they are not from Ilocos.  But then, how could I be significant as a writer if my essays are so not-here?  I see things in the locality, and I get affected by issues in the community.  How can I not write about them?

The big challenge, I realized, is in striking a balance, a synthesis.  The order of the day is to show how the issues we face as Ilocanos are  not remote and isolated, but are rather inevitably linked with the struggles of the Filipino people, and with the sojourn of humankind. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Personals, Sociology

Yes to Jueteng!

I AM HAPPY that P-Noy himself clarified categorically that while he is against jueteng, eradicating the illegal numbers game is not on top of his to-do list.  “That’s a low priority for me,” he said.

I surmise it saddened Archbishop Oscar Cruz, a staunch anti-gambling crusader, although I suspect that a good number of bishops heaved a sigh of relief, for they, too, receive jueteng payoffs.  Good example is an Ilocos prelate whose retirement house was built by a jueteng lord, a fact the man of cloth does not deny.  Then there are churches built or renovated using jueteng money, and sadly this includes the cathedral I used to frequent as a child.  The late Cardinal Jaime Sin justified this, saying “the church will accept money from the devil as long as it goes to the poor.”  Holy cow! Continue reading

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Prisoner Gloria

IF IT IS ANY consolation, at least she gets to retain her acronym of nine years, PGMA, albeit with  the “P” bearing a surreal meaning this time.  With the presidency now part of our nation’s past (Thank God!), Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Philippines’ most reviled leader since Malakas at Maganda, potentially faces a bleak tomorrow—a future more sour than her insincere smile, more distracting than her facial mole, and even much less encouraging than his son Mikey’s movies, monumental flops at the box office.

This dim tomorrow, of course, she will fight against using the vast wealth she stole from the people and whatever is left of her political might.  It is no wonder that the PGMA’s first legislative measure is to tinker with our constitution.  It was filed on day one of her newfound job as representative of a district somewhere in Pampanga.  She had to act immediately.  It could not wait.

But of course.  A truth commission, mandated to gather evidence and prosecute abusers in the previous regime, is already in place, and less than twenty four hours after Gloria stepped down from office, which marked the end of her immunity from lawsuit, various groups filed before the Department of Justice piles of cases against her.

I am sure PGMA is ready for the showdown.  She is not unlike Voldemorth, the dark lord in the Harry Potter series.  Having been defeated by a young boy in a magical duel, Voldemorth vanished, but not without leaving enough minions who would eventually make possible his return to power.  Gloria left, but not without wreaking havoc on the bureaucracy with dubious midnight appointments, including that of Chief Justice Renato Corona, her former chief of staff.  This on top of leaving empty government coffers, the biggest debt in our history, and oh-so-many scandals conspicuously hidden under the rug.

Sure, she had, long before June 30, devised ways to elude justice and to circumvent the law.  Who knows, given the extent of her callousness, she might even be expecting monuments built in her honor, and not just in Pampanga.  But fret not, dear karikna, it should be enough consolation for us that there is at least one law that Congressman Gloria and her faithful cohorts cannot, even with all their dark powers pooled together, repeal or amend.  The law of karma. Continue reading

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