2009.12.26    In a world of avatars

After watching “Avatar” the film, one of my daughters remarked how she wished she could live in Pandora, the earth-sized planet inhabited by slender humanoids known as the Na’vi, who lived in harmony with Nature.

2009.12.19    Ecological consciousness

Ecological consciousness is the awareness that nearly every aspect of our way of life affects the environment so decisively that we now must choose whether to let the effects go unchecked, or we change the way we live in order to arrest the damage.

2009.12.12    Martial law in Maguindanao

President Macapagal Arroyo’s Proclamation 1959 is the first time the martial law provision of the 1987 Constitution has ever been used.

2009.12.05    Stopping GMA

In June this year, I responded to an interview request from the Inquirer about an item that appeared in the column of fellow writer Bel Cunanan.

2009.11.28    Warlords in a weak state

Media reports and analyses of the Nov. 23 gruesome mass murder of 57 innocent civilians in Maguindanao have highlighted different aspects of the culture of warlordism in Muslim Mindanao.

2009.11.21    Politics is not all addition

There is a view of politics that is very popular among Filipino politicians. It is summed up by the oft-repeated line attributed to the late Sen. Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez: “Politics is addition.”

2009.11.14    Political immaturity

President Macapagal-Arroyo often describes Philippine politics as if she were a detached observer analyzing its dysfunctions, rather than a key player very much implicated in the perpetuation of these dysfunctions.

2009.11.07    Why presidents go local

What is wrong with President Macapagal-Arroyo’s frequent visits to her native town in Pampanga? Nothing—if they are the simple visits they are made out to be by her spokesmen: sentimental trips we all make to the communities of our childhood.

2009.10.31    Remembering the dead, caring for the living

Once we reach a certain age, we find ourselves going to more funerals than weddings or baptisms. There we meet friends and acquaintances we have not seen in a while.

2009.10.24    A third way

The 2009 Nobel Prize for Economics has been awarded not to an economist but to a political scientist who refuses to be boxed by disciplinal boundaries.

2009.10.17    A nation without government

In our daily lives, we expect government to be the source of capabilities that are beyond the reach of individuals. We accept its enormous power over our lives, trusting implicitly in its ability to use this power for the common good.

2009.10.10    Blind-sided by disasters

We all know by now that while typhoons and earthquakes are natural phenomena (“acts of God,” as insurance firms refer to them), the disasters they cause are largely shaped by the way we live.

2009.10.03    The gift of disasters

Contemplating the massive devastation wrought by last week’s floods, many of us are prompted to do two things we do not ordinarily do. One, we start to “count our blessings” and re-assess our values.

2009.09.26    The new narcissism

Narcissus is the beautiful young man in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image.

2009.09.19    Thirty-seven years ago

When Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, my wife Karina and I were both just 26. We were university instructors freshly embarked on an academic career.

2009.09.12    Good and evil in politics

As my previous columns on politics may have shown, I am one of those who squirm each time I hear people reduce Philippine politics today into a fight between good and evil. I view this way of thinking as a residual habit from traditional society.

2009.09.05    Hopes for modern politics

The interesting term “trapo,” as presently used in Philippine politics, is a fusion of two words—“traditional” and “politician.” In the beginning, the preferred word was “tradpol.”

2009.08.29    The US factor—once more

The Philippines is probably one of the few remaining countries in the world for whom the United States government’s every word functions as a cue in domestic politics. Our obsessive American orientation is legendary.

2009.08.22    Change

There’s a popular French saying, “plus ça change, plus c’est pareil.” It means, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This ironic observation is a testimony to the enduring nature of structures.

2009.08.15    The death of ‘delicadeza’

Repeatedly, in almost every issue we have faced in this country, the question is asked: “It may not be illegal, but is it moral?” Such a question would not have arisen in an earlier time when a good name, social esteem, or a reputation for decency, meant more to people than being seen as law-abiding.

2009.08.08    A legacy of unfinished causes

No President could have wished for a more rewarding funeral than the one that the Filipino people gave President Cory Aquino last Wednesday.

2009.08.01    The state of our communities

Instead of a highly partisan speech by the incumbent president on the state of the nation, our country might be better served if the mayor in every town, and the barangay captain in every barrio, were required annually to face their people and give a report of the state of their respective communities.

2009.07.25    State of the nation

If the nation were a family, it would clearly be wrong to describe its state solely in terms of how sufficient its earnings are relative to its needs, or how strong the house is in which it dwells.

2009.07.18    Overseas employment and its effects

The business pages of both the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star carried almost identical headlines the other day. “Remittances surged to $1.48B in May,” said the Inquirer. “OFW remittances hit record high in May,” said The Star.

2009.07.10    Truth, power, love and money

Not too long ago, a couple of bishops of the Catholic Church who were attending an important meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) were invited to have a meal with some Malacañang officials.

2009.07.04    Seeing like a nation

In our daily lives, we experience the state of our nation as a series of random events with no visible logic or coherence. We see only what we see, and remain blissfully unaware of the partial nature of our vision.

2009.06.27    The road to Sagada

For the  longest time, my friend, the late Cordillera-based historian William Henry Scott, had been inviting me to come to Sagada.

2009.06.20    The promise of politics

The public has watched with great interest the almost weekly visits of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Pampanga, particularly to the province’s second district, where she is a registered voter.

2009.06.13    On being Filipino

The awareness of being Filipino does not come naturally.

2009.06.06    House of Gloria

The members of the House of Gloria (HOG) have discovered the instability inherent in language.

2009.05.30    The ethical moment in politics

There is a view of politics that Filipino politicians have been professing lately. “Politics is a numbers game,” they love to say. And they say it as if that is all there is to politics.

2009.05.23    Who’s afraid of Erap?

The issue of whether former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada should be allowed to run again for president is a legal question.

2009.05.16     Subsidiarity

If you type the word “subsidiarity” on the computer, chances are it will be red-lined by the word-processor, signifying its non-recognition as a term. The word is not listed in most dictionaries.

2009.05.09    Primal ethics

Often, when we demand of others that they act decently, we admonish them to rise above their aOften, when we demand of others that they act decently, we admonish them to rise above their animal instincts. nimal instincts.

2009.05.02    The exiling of Yano and Luna

The kindest thing one can say of the simultaneous retirement yesterday of Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano and of Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cardozo Luna—months ahead of their due retirement dates—is that they are being exiled by a corrupt government.

2009.04.25    Paraguay’s bishop-president in morality test

Fernando Lugo’s election to the presidency of Paraguay in 2008 was nothing short of phenomenal.

2009.04.18    The Putin formula

Vladimir Putin was elected to a four-year term as president of Russia in May 2000, a few months before Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took power as Philippine president following the January 2001 civilian-military coup.

2009.04.04    Motorcycles on Metro Manila streets

As a motorcycle rider, I resolutely avoid riding in the city. I think one cannot find a more unsafe place for bikers than Metro Manila’s streets.

2009.03.28    Religion and politics according to Pope Benedict XVI

Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

2009.03.21    A half-full glass

We sometimes believe we have seen enough of what is happening to our country to make us think of it in the worst possible way. The behavior of some people in our midst can often be so brazen that we find ourselves engulfed by a recurring sense of a society spinning out of control.

2009.03.14    The quest for new leaders

Filipinos know instinctively that the election season has started when the surveys pare down the presidential choices to about five frontrunners. The faces of the so-called “presidentiables” get front-page treatment.

2009.02.28    Morality and modernity

In the face of pervasive corruption, various sectors, including the government itself, have called for moral renewal. This response has the same impact as appealing to a person’s conscience to stop him from doing something that is almost habitual or customary to him.

2009.02.20    Moral renewal as doublespeak

From out of the blue, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has issued Administrative Order No. 255, “directing the heads of the executive department to lead moral renewal in their agencies.”

2009.02.14    The unloved

Among the many presidents we have had, Ramon Magsaysay is consistently singled out as the most loved. For a long time, Ferdinand Marcos held the dubious distinction of being the most despised.

2009.02.07    Who’s to blame for the financial crisis?

The Guardian, the British newspaper, recently ran a fascinating series titled, “The road to ruin: Twenty-five people at the heart of the meltdown.”

2009.01.31    The ‘bailout state’

The period of industrial boom in Europe gave rise to the welfare state. Its purpose was to extend social assistance to the many that were adversely affected by industrialization.

2009.01.24    Obama’s movement.gov

The American people will be forgiven for pinning all their hopes for change on their new president. Desperate times summon individuals with magical qualities.

2009.01.17    Morality in fragments

Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno jolted the nation this week with statements to the effect that the solutions to our country’s problems do not lie with the legal system but with the moral system.

2009.01.10    Israel’s war: an eye for a tooth

Nearly 700 Palestinians have died since Israel began its assault on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip two weeks ago. Of these, more than half are civilians.

2009.01.03    The unbearable weight of a new year

Because it is the beginning of the year, I am torn — like everyone else, I suppose — between hope and anxiety as I look ahead to the unfolding of the rest of 2009.