2008.12.27    A Christmas story

For Rex and Nina Tomen, the last days of 2008 suddenly went out of kilter. Lent came early and took the place reserved for Christmas.

 2008.12.20    Agrarian reform and social protection

To equate agrarian reform with social justice in our society is to think of land distribution as the necessary starting point of the Filipino’s quest to live in freedom.

2008.12.13    The corruption blame game

The easiest thing in the world to do is to blame corruption on those institutions perceived to be primarily responsible for the morals of a society, namely, the churches and the schools.

2008.12.06    Thai politics

Any attempt to view Philippine politics through the prism of Thai politics, or vice-versa, can produce only a distorted picture of the situation in both countries. There are important parallelisms. But there are also great differences—especially in historical background and cultural context.

2008.11.29    After Bonifacio

While often confused with National Heroes Day, Nov. 30 is a day we set aside to remember the heroism of Andres Bonifacio, the father of the Philippine Revolution.

2008.11.22    Filipinos and their Constitution

Ask Filipinos if they think the basic problem of the nation today lies in the system of government or in the shameful quality of their political leaders. Ask them what they think needs to be urgently replaced—the Constitution or the present crop of politicians?

 2008.11.15    The barren soil of traditional politics

WHAT WAS being fertilized with the P728-million fertilizer fund was not agricultural land but the barren soil of traditional politics. And this was carried out not by a shrewd solitary operator, but with the consent and connivance of a large number of politicians and public officials.

2008.11.08    Obama nation

He was, by any measure, the superior candidate: clear and eloquent where his opponent often mumbled and stuttered; cool and even-tempered even when the other would dish out sharp rebukes.

2008.11.01    Facing death with poetry

As a young boy growing up in the provinces, I used to go to the cemetery at this time of the year, not to visit the dead, but to fly kites. There, on top of the blocks of tombs that housed the dead, I would set my frail paper kite against the chilly November wind.

2008.10.25    Guardialfiera

My brother, Bishop Pablo David (“Bishop Ambo”) became auxiliary bishop of San Fernando, Pampanga two years ago. In this role, he assists Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, the head of the diocese.

2008.10.18    Two speeches that made Barack Obama

No one who has watched Barack Obama’s meteoric rise in American politics in the last four years can fail to be intrigued by what he represents.

2008.10.12    When civil society becomes political

MANILA, Philippines—We do not know when exactly the term “civil society” first entered the vocabulary of Philippine politics. But sometime in the early 1980s, just before the EDSA People Power I uprising, it gradually replaced the awkward phrase “cause-oriented organizations.”

2008.10.04    Credit culture

The crisis that has pushed the American financial system to the brink of disaster is spawning its own moral economy. The new object of fixation is blame-worthiness, rather than credit-worthiness.

2008.09.27    The humbling of American capitalism

In a somewhat parallel way, though not with the same level of gravity, two of the world’s largest economies — the United States and China — are being battered by internal problems requiring swift government intervention.

2008.09.20    Moral symbols in politics

The rise of moral symbols in politics always provides a dramatic starting point for a society’s transformation. Figures like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma and Cory Aquino quickly come to mind.

2008.09.13    The paradoxes of democracy

If there is a country in Southeast Asia whose politics has been as vibrant as ours, that country has to be Thailand. The parallelisms in the political saga of these two countries over the last 20 years are truly amazing.

2008.09.06    A reformer’s cross

The election of Catholic priest Fr. Eddie Panlilio in 2007 as governor of Pampanga province was nothing short of phenomenal.

2008.08.30    Indigenous peoples

In 1917, the Provincial Board of Mindoro passed a resolution requiring all “non-Christians” belonging to the Mangyan tribes to live in a permanent settlement near Lake Naujan.

2008.08.23    Peace premises

Peace follows war. That is the logic of any peace agreement. It comes after a period of conflict, seeking to erase the basis for war.

2008.08.16   Modernity and the Bangsamoro

The Bangsamoro problem is entangled in so many historical, legal, cultural & political questions that it is irresponsible to talk about it in a simplistic way.

2008.08.09    Lorenzo Tañada and his times

He lived much longer than his contemporaries. Born a few months after Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine independence from Spain in 1898, and Lorenzo Tañada was 93 when he died. Had he lived like a Japanese centenarian, he would be 110 on Sunday, Aug. 10.

2008.08.02    Legitimacy and the VAT

There are many reasons for the growing clamor to reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on oil products.

2008.07.26    The emptiness of a self-referential presidency

On the eve of her eighth State of the Nation Address, the poll firm Pulse Asia sought to quantify the public attitude toward President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s speeches before the joint session of Congress.

2008.07.19    The ‘epidermalization of inferiority’

This fascinating phrase comes from the book of Frantz Fanon, “Black Skin White Masks.”

2008.07.12    Because we allow it

When Romulo Neri’s appointment as administrator of the Social Security System (SSS) was reported in the early evening news, our house help, who was watching, exploded and let loose a torrent of untranslatable expletives.

2008.07.05    A world without Filipinos

At the end of their brief June 24th meeting at the White House, US President George W. Bush and his visitor from the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, faced the press for a photo opportunity.

2008.06.28    Risk and disaster threshold

In all the years I have traveled, I have taken planes far more often than I have taken boats. Yet, I have always believed that boats are safer than planes.

2008.06.21    Is Sulu a Philippine province?

Or, is it a colony? The question may seem preposterous to those who are content to see reality purely in legal terms.

2008.06.14    Love in the time of migration

One of my students, Arnold P. Alamon, has written a graduate thesis titled, “Lives on Hold: Sons of Migrant Parents.”

2008.06.07    The dead-end of state charity

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seems everywhere these days distributing rice, money, scholarships, and other forms of assistance to the poor.

2008.05.31    Politicians as product peddlers

It is difficult to imagine Claro M. Recto advertising a brand of soap, or Jose W. Diokno endorsing a brand of toothpaste, or Santanina Rasul lending her lovely face to a skin-whitening product.

2008.05.24    The limits of political moralizing

Having seen, in the past seven years, the kind of behavior our top political leaders are capable of, what I am going to say here may sound counterintuitive if not plainly wrong.

2008.05.17    Change

This is the magic word that is carrying Barack Obama to the farthest horizon of current American politics. Merely hearing him say it drives his supporters into a state of frenzy.

2008.05.10    Transparency and electricity

The price of electric power in our country (the second-highest in Asia) has become so complex that even a well-informed citizen would have a hard time grasping the issues, allocating blame, and determining what should be done.

 2008.05.03    Meditation on expressways

If you ride motorcycles, as I do, you might be forgiven if you have been seeing the world as a universe of crisscrossing highways. For a biker, nothing quite compares with the ecstasy of exploring a newly-opened expressway.

2008.04.26    The main crisis is still political

To talk about politics while the country confronts a looming food crisis would seem insensitive.

2008.04.19    A bishop for president

This Sunday, April 20, if the opinion polls are predictive, the next president of Paraguay may well be a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.

2008.04.12    Rice: a policy blind spot

The growing queues of the urban poor seeking their daily ration of rice are images suffused with political meaning. Any regime that knows its politics cannot fail to see great danger looming ahead.

2008.04.05    Kidney sales: exchanges in desperation

My father-in-law went through a difficult period of dialysis before he died in 1999 at the age of 80. My 78-year-old mother suffered from the same end-stage renal disease and died the following year.

2008.03.29    Bringing the stalemate to an end

It is important to understand exactly what the recent Supreme Court decision on the Neri vs. Senate is all about.

2008.03.15    When institutions work

Until just a couple of days ago, Eliot Spitzer was the governor of New York. Young and adorned with Ivy League credentials (he graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School), he became one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party, widely whispered about as possible presidential timber.

2008.03.08    Truth and institutions

We may not always be successful in finding enduring solutions for our problems as a nation, but at least our attempts to grapple with these issues enrich our political vocabulary. This is good for us in the long run.

2008.03.01    A big year for verity

Just about everybody in our country these days is looking for the truth—senators, bishops, the media, students, professors, spin doctors, and street-corner pundits. Truth is the most sought-after commodity, yet its nature and uses are also the least understood.

2008.02.23    Bonfire of institutions

Because it is easier to imagine it, corruption has taken center stage in the public’s appreciation of the current national crisis.

2008.02.16    Should bishops lead political actions?

The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s editorial Friday, titled “Checkmated bishops,” sharply rebukes the Catholic bishops for refusing to take up the activist role that the late Jaime Cardinal Sin had played in past political crises.

2008.02.09    Greed in a changing landscape

“You moderate their greed.” This was the instruction of National Economic and Development Director General Romulo Neri to Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. at one point in the latter’s work as technical consultant on the national broadband network (NBN) project.

2008.02.02    Thoughts on new politics

Akbayan, one of the first left-leaning groups to take up the challenge of electoral politics through the party-list mechanism, held a forum last week to mark the 10th year of its founding. I was one of the invited speakers. A restrained and reflective mood pervaded the occasion.

2008.01.26    The tragedy of the rural poor

Something is happening in the countryside that is forcing a lot of rural folk to flock to the city. Migration is nothing new, of course.

2008.01.19    Forgetting EDSA II

This Saturday, Jan. 20, we mark the seventh anniversary of EDSA People Power II, the series of events that drove away a corrupt presidency from office.

2008.01.12    Delusions of omniscience

It was fascinating to hear the media’s questions to the police at the presentation of the investigating team’s final report on the Oct. 19 explosion in the Glorietta 2 mall.

2008.01.05    Civic duty and national renewal

Civic duty in our time, I submit, consists mainly of three tasks. The first is to seek to understand the demands of a modern society and to participate responsibly in its collective life. The second is to help lessen the suffering of others in our midst.