Monthly Archives: April 2011

Refusing ninonghood

I received today another invitation to a baptism, it reads: “I, Chery May, invite you to come and join me to witness my christening on the 27th day of April, 2011, 10:00 a.m. at Saint William Cathedral, Laoag City.” I am asked to be a godfather to the cute baby whose photo appears in the invitation, together with an image of Hello Kitty.

I have made it clear to my friends that I am uncomfortable being a “ninong,” given the serious responsibilities attached to it. I am not referring, dear karikna, to the customary gifts during Christmases and birthdays, but to the guidance I have to provide, and this is the most important function of a ninong, on how to grow up a good Catholic.

How can I be a credible witness to the Catholic faith when I am in the middle of a campaign for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, a vital piece of legislation that the Church, using medieval logic, vigorously opposes? How can I help usher a young soul to a faith that still considers homosexuality as a natural anomaly? And how will I explain to an adult Cherry May all the hypocrisy in an institution rocked with scandals of every kind?

It is not, however, easy to turn down invitations to ninonghood because, in Filipino culture, such has great implications in the social context more than in the spiritual realm. Refusing to be a ninong can be insulting to the refused, and the reluctant godparent may find himself a few friends poorer. Good thing that I am not a politician, and have no intentions of seeking any elective post, not in the near future, and neither in the most distant tomorrow.  And so I can say “no, sorry, can’t be a ninong.” Continue reading

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Filed under Church, Religion, Reproductive Health Bill, Sociology, Traditions

Photo me

ROMEO S. RUMBAOA, former police chief of Bangui and currently the chief security officer at the Capitol, tells me every time he gets the chance that I look much younger in person than in my photo in this space. The first time he told me that, I ignored it, thinking that he might be mistaking me for dear friend and fellow columnist Steve Barreiro whose hair, or the lack of it, is similar to mine.  Steve is decades wiser than I am. But Rumbaoa says he is really fond of our Riknakem, and I figured he truly is when he started giving me insights on specific articles he liked. I therefore decided to take his observation seriously.

I somehow believe that my column photo should really approximate how I look in person.  As this is not the case, some changes must be made. The first option would be for me to undergo cosmetic facial surgery, but I decided against it for two reasons. First, I do not have money for the procedure.  God knows how expensive it could get, and even if I had the means, I still would not splurge on it. I am sure there could be better uses for my money, ranging from sending an impoverished child to school to finally taking the Thailand trip I have long dreamed. Secondly, I would not go under the knife on fear of having a botched operation and ending up looking like Michael Jackson, Madam Auring, or Loi Estrada, who really look the same I have a difficult time distinguishing one from the other. Continue reading

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Filed under Media/Journalism, Personals

Before Janjan, there was Mayyang

JANJAN, a six-year-old boy, pervades our national consciousness today after having done a tearful macho dancing in Willie Revillame’s show, Willing Willie. There is national indignation and disgust, yet again, against Revillame, who thinks he is God’s gift to the Filipino poor. Government agencies, the church, civil society, and netizens have done their share to not let this madness unchecked.  The show’s sponsors were pressured to pull out their ads, investigations are being conducted, and a child abuse case is expected to be filed in no time. The show has gone off air, but only for two weeks, as TV5 is all set to defend the actions of Willie—the duck who lays the golden, albeit rotten, eggs for the young television station.

This incident brings to mind the child performers in the talent show “Bukros a Bukangkang” of Harry Corpuz, a radio personality who became a household name in Ilocos, especially in the late 80’s down to the 90’s. The show, which title literally meant “nalalaglag ang sapin at nakabukaka,” produced a herd of singers who performed Ilocano songs, many of them of the novelty kind. Churned out by Alpha Records, the group’s albums sold like hot potatoes. They came out volume after volume, and were too many, probably over 30, for Corpuz, who wrote most of the songs together with his sister Nelly Bareng, to actually remember. Like Revillame, Corpuz, whose real full name is Harry Corpuz Doronio, also hopped from one station to the other.

The most popular Bukros song of all time, I argue, is “Nagimas kan Mayyang,” sung by Melchor Vallejo of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur.  Vallejo, who was named Mayyang after the song became a big hit, was a kid then, probably around Janjan’s age.

Corpuz is known to have a good sense of humor, and his jokes obviously had double meanings.  But this song did not just have sexual undertones; it was actually explicit in content. What follows are the lyrics of the song, the translations in English are mine.

Nagimaskan, Mayyang (You are so delicious, Maria.)

Dakkel ta patongmo (Your butt is big.) Continue reading

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Filed under Arts, Debate, Filipino Youth

200 call center jobs open.. and this time clean

The most difficult column I have written by far is that of Ilocos Norte-based call centers that sell—in  ways deceptive and malicious—porn sites, for I knew it would create a stir and would affect the livelihood of those involved in the trade. I would not have done the exposé, but no one else, not even colleagues in the media, seemed inclined to do it, so I performed my moral obligation as writer and well-meaning citizen. I wrote about the subject, but only after a great deal of thought and soul-searching, on top of my exhaustive research. It was in August last year.

An investigation was conducted by the police after the matter was tackled in the city council.  Radio and TV stations also picked up the issue, thus taking off a lot of weight from my shoulders. I could have written follow-up articles, I did not.  It was enough that I brought the issue out in the open.  And I was already receiving threats on my safety.

I never learned about the results of the investigation, but I did know that these businesses slowed down and that some agents lost their jobs as a result. For their part, parents who learned about these shady activities ordered their children to quit their jobs in these call centers. It saddened me, but such sadness was mitigated with a strong hope that these establishments will eventually handle only decent accounts and, ergo, provide only decent jobs to our people, especially the young.

On March 31, while I was in the circus of computing grades, distributing class cards, and being chased by those who got red marks,  I chanced at a mini job fair conducted by Kinetic Human Division at the MMSU Batac Campus. I was happy when I saw their staff interviewing our students. I learned that they offer a lot of job openings today, and that business is booming. 

I had no doubts whatsoever that they offer today only clean jobs, jobs that our students and graduates can be proud of, learn from, and earn enough from. I know that KHD, Laoag’s largest BPO (business process outsourcing) firm, has learned from past’s lessons and is training its sights on a future so bright.

I got the chance to talk to Ms. Ethel Saliendra, human resource officer of KHD, who initially looked startled to see me around. She requested for a talk with me though, and I took it as a good opportunity to explain to her why I wrote what I wrote last year. All is water under the bridge now, I said, and that I was happy to see that things are looking up. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economy, Education, Ilocos, Sex