2007.12.29    Rizal’s ‘Indolence of the Filipinos’

Writing in 1890 for La Solidaridad, Jose Rizal takes up the question of the so-called “indolence” of the Filipinos. This claim, he argues, had allowed the Spanish colonial authorities to excuse their own “stupidities,” and the friars to “make themselves irreplaceable.”

2007.12.22    Filipino happiness

The other night, while walking around the acacia-lined oval of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, campus, I found myself trailing behind a group of young people lost in cheerful conversation.

2007.12.15    The reality of surveys

A lot of nonsense is being uttered in response to a recent finding of the poll group Pulse Asia that shows 42 percent of the respondents in the October 2007 “Ulat ng Bayan” survey consider Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo “the most corrupt president in Philippine history.”

2007.12.08    The quest for the new

In 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, the population of the Philippines was approximately 45 million. Today, there are close to 90 million of us. But, beyond this demographic doubling, our society has become complex in many other ways.

2007.12.01    The silence of the camps

Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy lieutenant senior grade, are two of the smartest officers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

2007.11.25    Confessions of a motorcycle rider

I started riding a motorcycle in the mid-1960s after my maternal grandfather gave me a second-hand Ducati 160cc Junior Monza as a graduation gift. He said he couldn’t afford the VW Beetle that I had wished for, so would I settle for a motorcycle?

2007.11.24    Remembrance of meals past

My mother would have turned 85 last week. Instead of visiting her grave at Himlayang Pilipino, where she lies buried beside my father’s bones, I chose to go home to Betis, where she cared and cooked for a husband and 13 children.

2007.11.17    The crisis of cash politics

The recent exposé of the distribution of cash bundles in the presidential palace at the end of a daylong meeting with legislators and local government executives casts new light on the evolving nature of Philippine politics.

2007.11.10    The culture of cash politics

What has drawn sustained public attention to the recent distribution of cash gifts to congressmen and local executives is not so much that unaccounted money was given to politicians, but that it was done on such a scandalous scale and right in the presidential palace itself.

2007.11.03    Making sense of the Arroyo-Estrada deal

The basic task of social analysis is to interpret what is happening to a society, not to agree or disagree with the actions taken by people. Only if we keep this distinction in mind is it possible to observe ourselves as a people, and to see the various ways by which we judge events.

2007.10.27    The wildfires of California

SAN DIEGO — From the air, they appear as patches of bright red orange in the dark gray mist of the Southern California skyline. They remind me of the “kaingin” [slash-and-burn] clearings in the Philippine countryside.

2007.10.20    A wedding among the ruins

CUSCO — I am in Peru and I’m writing from Cusco, possibly the highest city in the world at 12,000 feet above sea level. Resting on a basin completely surrounded by the Andes Mountains, Cusco is the “navel” of the ancient Inca world known as Tawantinsuyo.

2007.10.13    Disclosures and closures

Like his former classmates and colleagues in academe who have known him closely or casually.

2007.10.06    Burma and the rest of us

The brutal suppression by Burma’s (Myanmar’s) military junta of Buddhist monks and civilian protesters has sparked global outrage.

2007.09.29    Quibbling while the country is being robbed

Under questioning at the Senate on the National Broadband Network contract with ZTE, former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri stated that he truly believed it would be beneficial for the government to operate its own network.

2007.09.22    Martial law revisited

Thirty-five years ago, Ferdinand Marcos invoked the emergency powers provided by the 1935 Constitution in order to seize control of the main levers of government. Presidential Decree 1081 ushered in a dictatorship that lasted almost 14 years.

2007.09.15    Erap’s conviction and the rule of law

It was indeed a historic moment in our nation’s life — the first time a former president has ever been convicted for an offense committed while he was in office. Because of the stature of the accused, we are led to think that, finally, the rule of law in our society has prevailed.

2007.09.08     Motorcycle exclusions

I remember the first time I drove a motorcycle on the expressway. It was 1967, and the new North Diversion Road (as it was then called) was almost finished, although it had not yet officially opened.

2007.09.01    Bayani Fernando and the urban poor

If there is one public official in our country today who does his work seemingly without regard for the political consequences, that person has to be Bayani Fernando, the current chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

2007.08.25    Hello Garci and Philippine democracy

The Hello Garci controversy posed two important questions that, to this day, remain unanswered.

2007.08.18    Mapping Mindanao

All of us carry in our minds a map of the place in which we live or work — as natives or as settlers, as residents or as commuters. This map will never correspond point by point with the area it seeks to represent.

2007.08.11    Splitting the summit

In mature democracies, the majority governs and the minority opposes. This is how the political system serves the larger society. The majority forms the government, and the minority shadows it. In this manner are issues clarified, and collectively-binding decisions made.

2007.08.04    Overseas Filipino slaves in Iraq

POSTED on YouTube last July 26 were video clips from a United States congressional hearing on the controversies spawned by the $600-million US Embassy construction in Baghdad.

2007.07.28    The nation in Arroyo’s eyes

A State of the Nation Address (Sona) is interesting not only for what it says but also for what it does not say. The nation hears not only the speech but also its silences.

2007.07.21    The memoirs of Geronimo Z. Velasco

Philippine administrations love to anchor their legitimacy on the total demonization of a past regime. They see nothing worth pursuing in their predecessor’s policies and programs, finding them corrupt to the core, and preferring to dismantle everything.

2007.07.14    At the crossroads of modernity

One of the most difficult problems we face today as a modernizing society is how to strengthen the division of labor among our various institutions. The modern way is to keep these institutions apart so they do not interfere in each other’s work.

2007.07.08    The politics of holidays

Some days are sacred to individuals, couples, families, nations and religious communities. We call them holidays. On such days, people pause to summon memory, and to bask in the mixed sentiments it evokes.

2007.07.01    Political Cancer

Tissue sometimes grows in areas where it is not supposed to be, drawing life from the same system that sustains the healthy cells of the body. Many such growths are harmless.

2007.06.24    Elections as optical illusions

If we continue to hold elections the way the Commission on Elections held them in 2004 and 2007, it won’t be long before we begin to believe that all elections are nothing but optical illusions.

2007.06.17    An American thinker

Richard Rorty, an unusual American philosopher who rebelled against his own discipline, died last week. He was possibly the most important thinker of his generation.

2007.06.10    Arroyo bets’ loss: system’s gain

Her candidates may have been clobbered in the senatorial race by the opposition and her most strident critics, but Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo knows better than to complain.

2007.06.03    Reflections on a child’s first birthday

She came into the world a year ago today, the first grandchild of my sister Raquel. Her parents named her Erin, a lovely Gaelic word derived from “Eire” or Ireland.

2007.05.27    What Among Ed’s victory means

Pampanga’s pride today is no longer Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who, for a growing number of Filipinos, represents everything that is decadent in Philippine politics.

2007.05.20    Wages of distrust

MANILA, Philippines — In a survey conducted shortly before the May 14 election, 40 percent of the respondents said they expected the administration to cheat, while 20 percent said they did not believe the administration would do so.

2007.05.13    Parties of the future

In the campaign leading up to tomorrow’s election, political platforms or programs of government—the basic ingredients of a functioning democracy—predictably took a backseat.

2007.05.06    Pampanga politics

Pampanga is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s bailiwick, the only province in all of Luzon where she actually won in the 2004 presidential election.

2007.04.29    Averting collapse

A building or structure collapses when its pillars and trusses fold into one another, making them unable to perform their support function. Strong societies, like strong buildings, distribute their weight efficiently among a number of differentiated support systems.

2007.04.22    Volunteerism

MANILA, Philippines — The early history of volunteerism bears the mark of institutional interests operating behind the selflessness of the individual volunteer. As long as this was the case, volunteers were viewed with suspicion.

2007.04.15    The case against political dynasties

The theory is that if a society has to deal effectively with the challenges of an increasingly complex world, it must itself grow in complexity. This means it must evolve differentiated and autonomous institutions. This is what modernity is about.

2007.04.08    Beyond belief

Maybe because I am the brother of a priest, I am often invited to speak at seminaries and Catholic schools, as well as before religious congregations. This is quite ironic because, in our family, I count myself as the least religious, if church attendance is the measure.

 2007.04.01    A priest in politics

Rev. Fr. Eddie T. Panlilio is the parish priest of Betis, the small devoutly Catholic town in Pampanga, made famous by its carpenters and wood artisans.

2007.03.25    Power to Idiotize

One of the most compelling public affairs programs on Philippine television today is GMA-7’s “I-Witness,” a show featuring documentaries made by the station’s young reporters. Every week, a different host gets to write the script, go on location shoots, and present the show.

2007.03.18    The world is watching

The attacks on the nation’s image have come one after the other. The first came from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) which certifies the eligibility of graduates of foreign nursing schools for work in the United States.

2007.03.11    Young people in an obsolete society

Running for public office in our society has become so costly that elections are losing their relevance.

2007.03.04    Militarization by other means

Soldiers erecting checkpoints, entering communities, and rounding up and interrogating residents in various parts of the country have become so commonplace in Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime that we take for granted their lawfulness. Do soldiers have a right to do these things?

2007.02.25    The power to idiotize

One of the most compelling public affairs programs on Philippine television today is GMA-7’s “I-Witness,” a show featuring documentaries made by the station’s young reporters.

2007.02.18    Now, they’re killing students

The latest name in this growing list is that of Farly Alcantara II, 22, a graduating student of the Camarines Norte State College in the capital town of Daet. Farly was the former spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) in Camarines Norte.

2007.02.11    Why movie actors get elected

When Lito Lapid, aka Leon Guerrero, was campaigning for governor of Pampanga, he got stuck somewhere and could not attend an important rally in another town. The people had lined up the streets waiting for him all morning, but he could not be there.

2007.02.04    Why not a boycott?

If anyone had suggested in July 2005 that the correct response to the political crisis spawned by the Garci tapes would be to wait for the 2007 midterm elections, that person would have been denounced as an agent of Malacañang.

2007.01.28    The future of political families

The current debate on the propriety of so-called “political dynasties” in a democracy is quite interesting.

2007.01.21    To run or not to run: an ethical question

People pursue public office for a variety of reasons. For some, politics is just another livelihood. For others, it is the best way to protect the wealth of their families.

2007.01.14    Bush’s surge of madness

If you were an Iraqi today who cares deeply for his country, what would you do? Your country, previously one of the most modern in the Arab world, has been reduced to rubble.

2007.01.07    An agreement hounded by the past

I was one of those who opposed the Visiting Forces Agreement when it was being negotiated during the final months of the Ramos presidency. I was convinced that the country did not need it; we faced no external threat.