Category Archives: Debate

Sweet victory for our language

Proud coach here.

Proud coach here.

The biggest story I wrote this 2013 was the dismissal of 3 high school students because they spoke Ilokano on campus. Run by foreign Christan missionaries, the school strictly implements an English-only policy.

As fate would have it (or is it destiny?), that high school’s best bet in oratorical competitions, now a freshman in the university where I teach, became one of my debaters. He is a prized find. Very diligent. Eager to learn. Fun. Charming. And respectful.

Recently, ehem, we emerged as champion in a debate tournament with Ilocano as the main medium.

And guess who was hailed as best debater?

More than the trophy and prize, and the bragging rights that go with it, I am happy that a student, previously barred from speaking his mother tongue on campus, could shine and show the world that wisdom is no monopoly of any language. And that Ilocano could, and, in fact, should, be used for intellectual endeavors.

Congratulations, John Marvin Galat aka Jamjam. We–I, your kuyas and ate in the MMSU Debate Society–are proud of you.

Agbiag ni Ilocano! Narambak a baro a tawentayo, kakabsat.

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Filed under Debate, Ilocos, Iluko, Justice

Nuestra Señora de la Mantsa: The Case of the Laoag City Bell Tower ‘Apparition’

And we did it again.

Ten years ago, I wondered in an essay why this Catholic Nation has produced only one saint so far while Thailand, Japan and China–all non-Christian countries–have more. Maybe, unlike Filipinos, I said then, people from those nations have more sensible things to do than creating miracles by desperately looking for images in the stains of tree trunks and forcing statues to shed bloody tears.

Recently, an image of a woman, believed by many as Mama Mary, reportedly appeared at the midsection of the Laoag City Sinking Bell Tower. With pictures of the ‘apparition’ circulated on Facebook, the phenomenon generated public interest, especially after it was featured on national television evening news.

Make no mistake, I love Mama Mary, and I always turn to her for guidance and protection, but, on a personal level, and with all due respect to anyone who does, I don’t believe the image is extraordinary. The blurry figure is obviously a product of stain and discoloration which any old structure, such as the 400-year old Laoag Bell Tower, would have. You can find stains anywhere and assume them to be something, anything. My friend Luvee from Pagudpud says there are also a lot of stains in their toilet wall, and, as a child, it was her hobby to spot them and identify certain images, some of them religious. Rizal Javier, a retired philosophy professor from Batac, is obviously no longer a child but he still spots some images in their restroom and has actually considered publishing those in his Facebook account. There was one problem though: he does not have a Facebook account. Continue reading

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Filed under Church, Debate, Ilocos, Media/Journalism, Religion, Sociology, Tourism

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

Congressional Forum unfolds

THE WILLIAMITE, official publication of Divine Word College of Laoag (DWCL), is holding a congressional forum for contenders in the first district on Feb. 24, Wednesday.  All five candidates—Kris Ablan, Rudy Fariñas, Atong Peralta, Chito Ruiz, and Teteng Sales are expected to participate in this event that will give student leaders, student journalists, professors from different universities in the province, representatives from various sectors, and the general public a chance to discuss salient issues with the contenders.

Only 500 persons can be accommodated at the venue, the newly-opened St. Joseph’s Audtorium at DWCL, so better to make seat reservations should you decide to come.  Contact Jaime Lao, The Williamite’s editor in chief at 09293051987.

Hope you could come, dear karikna, but, if you couldn’t, what questions would you have wanted to ask the candidates?

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Filed under Debate, Education, Government/Politics, Ilocos

More jobs?

There’s a blog dedicated to tackling the burning issue in Laoag City today–the construction of a mall that will force the demolition of a heritage school.   http://laoagcentralissue.wordpress.com

What follows is a couple of  interviews with Laoag City folks on the issue of job generation.

Will the mall project really generate the around-1000 jobs it promises?  What kind of employment will it offer?  Short-term, contractual jobs?

What do you think, karikna?

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Filed under Debate, Heritage Conservation, Ilocos, LaoagCentralElem

Legalize Marijuana

michaelphelps

So, Michael Phelps, that guy who won eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, the most in human history, was caught on photo in an apparent act of smoking pot.

The photo (which I am not posting here out respect for him) was met by mixed reactions of disappointment, dismay, and puzzlement.  For why would a legendary athlete, who has the world on his hands and history on his side, resort to Marijuana?

Michael did not disown the picture and in an admirable fashion atypical of real drug users (like the Philippines’ Alabang Boys), he says: Continue reading

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Filed under Debate, Happiness, Health, Heroes, Personals, Sociology

Debate!

NOVEMBER 20, THURSDAY—It’s three in the morning as I write this, and I, along with a team of student debaters, should be boarding a bus to San Fernando, La Union to join a regional debate championship.

Fate is not on our side, however, as Nestor Corrales, one of our debaters, had to be rushed to the provincial hospital due to severe stomach pains. Nestor’s absence paralyzed our team, and it was too late to change horses. We decided not to push through. So, here I am, yet again, glued in front of my laptop in consuming solitude.

The other team members, Jonalyn De Ocampo (BS Civil Engineering II) and Lester Toledano (BS Nursing II), already had their bags packed and were so excited to go. It would have been their first time to represent MMSU in a competition of such scale.

Quite interestingly, we are also holding this week our university Intramurals. And so, against a backdrop of athletes running, swimming, kicking and smashing, there we were engaging each other in training for what we consider as the “basketball of the mind”.

Elsewhere, COMELEC Commissioner Rene Sarmiento was so impressed at how debate has been made integral to the United States electoral process that he suggested a presidential debate for the 2010 Philippine polls.

Sarmiento said debates to be held in our country will “gauge the capacity, potential and eloquence of candidates.”

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines quickly volunteered to host the presidential debates. It seems odd to me, however, that the Catholic Church, an institution that mandates its faithful to always say ‘Amen’ in blind obedience, would offer to host an event that welcomes, respects, and celebrates differences in opinions. Their offer is good but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Thanks, but no thanks.

Media organizations and civil society groups were also warm to Sarmiento’s move, and for good reason. Our people are exhausted of candidates who sing-and-dance their way to public office. But Romeo Macalintal, La Gloria’s election lawyer, readily opposed the holding of mandatory debates, saying that it is unconstitutional.

It will be remembered that, in 2004, La Gloria refused to join a presidential debate. Instead, her team staged something even worse than the musical cheap shots employed by politicians during campaign rallies. The administration party organized a ‘Gloria look-a-like contest, where the contender with the biggest facial mole and the most conspicuous set of teeth wins. (The capacity to lie straight-faced should have been the biggest criteria). Continue reading

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Filed under Debate