2014.12.28 Modernity and the Filipino child
In traditional society, the status of the child is determined by the social position of the family from which she is sprung.
2014.12.25 ‘Curial ailments’
The Church may draw its authority from God, but it is a human institution no less.
2014.12.21 Defrosting US-Cuba relations
If you’re a big powerful country, you can actually bury your relations with a small one you don’t particularly like in the back compartment of a freezer, and forget about them.
2014.12.18 The Grand New Bilibid Hotel
Following the Department of Justice’s raid of the detention quarters of the New Bilibid Prison’s very important prisoners last Monday, President Aquino expressed great alarm over the discovery of firearms in the possession of these dangerous detainees.
2014.12.14 Deconstructing distrust
Apart from their “approval/disapproval” of the job performance of top public officials and government institutions, Pulse Asia asks it informants to estimate the amount of “trust and distrust” they have for these officials and institutions.
2014.12.11 Disaster management as political risk
Largely because of the scale of the human tragedy caused last year by Supertyphoon Yolanda, disaster management has become an increasingly politicized activity.
2014.12.07 Religion and the rest of society
Perhaps not many people are ware that the Pope is not just the head of the Catholic Church but also the leader of a sovereign state, the Holy See.
2014.12.04 Politics: why it’s the only game in town
Having written a few columns on politics, I am often asked to comment on the probable course of political developments in our country in view of the 2016 presidential election.
2014.11.30 The world according to Facebook
Recently, I discovered to my dismay that my students in an undergraduate class in the University of the Philippines did not read the newspapers, or listen to the news on radio, or watch the evening report on TV.
2014.11.27 Pork in the 2015 budget
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago objects to the passage of the 2015 national budget because, among other things, it harbors pork barrel allocations, and thus violates the Supreme Court decision striking down the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
We know only too well what it means to have an undocumented relative living abroad.
2014.11.20 A child’s rights
The mass media the other day performed their most outstanding function in society by showing the disturbing picture of a severley emaciated child lying naked on the cement floor of what was supposed to be the reception facility for Manila’s street children.
2014.11.16 In defense of politics
The word “politics” or “pulitika” has been so abused and so misunderstood in our society that there is probably a need to clarify what it means.
If Vice President Jejomar Binay wishes to put a stop to the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings on the corruption hearings on the corruption allegations against him, the person to talk to is not President Aquino.
2014.11.09 Resilience versus resonance
Before me, as I write this, is a copy of yesterday’s Inquirer.
2014.11.06 Stopping the ‘Abu Sayyaf’
When the two German being held by an armed group in Sulu were released on October 17 after six months in captivity, a Philippine military spokesman announced tht the foreigners were freed because of the pressure exerted by the military, and that, in keeping with government policy, no ransom was paid to the kidnappers.
2014.11.02 The power of the dead
After my parents died, I made it a point to visit their graves whenever I had the chance.
2014.10.30 What will they debate?
We don’t know exactly what prompted embattled Vice President Jejomar Binay to dare Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to face him in a debate.
2014.10.26 Pope Francis and social movements
Rome, under Francis’ watch, never ceases to amaze the world.
2014.10.23 Binay’s politics
In his interview with ANC’s Lynda Jumilla the other night, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said that he made clear his intention to seek the presidency in 2016 as early as when he took office as vice president – unlike Mar Roxas, the presumptive candidate of the ruling Liberal Party, who, he sneered has been “hypocritical” about his plans.
2014.10.19 Ebola : diary of a global outbreak
One day in early December 2013, a two-year-old child from Gueckedou town in Guinea, West Africa developed high fever, black stools, and vomiting.
2014.10.16 Families in politics
Now on its second reading in the House of Representatives is a bill that seeks to prohibit “the establishment of political dynasties.”
2014.10.12 Off-road to Casiguran
Taking advantage of the 3-day weekend last week, I and my group of midle-aged motorcyclists headed for Baler in Aurora province.
2014.10.09 Makati’s contradictions
From whatever angle one views it, Makati City is a bundle of contradictions.
2014.10.05 Faith and family in the modern world
Starting today, October 5, Catholic bishops from all over the world are congregating in Rome to discuss for the next two weeks the situation of the family in the contemporary world and the pastoral challenges this poses for the Church “in the context of evangelization.”
2014.10.01 Political ferment in Hong Kong
When the British government returned Hong Kong to China in July 1997 – the “handover”, as it was then called – what was transferred was not just a piece of land, but the political administration of the people living there.
2014.09.28 The Kurds and the Isis
As graduate students in England in the late Sixties, my wife and I struck a close friendship with a classmate from Iraq and his Lebanese girlfriend.
2014.09.25 Debating the DAP
Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad’s acceptance of an invitation to lecture on the budget at the University of the Philippines School of Economics the other week would have been the perfect occasion to grill him about his brainchild, the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program.
2014.09.21 The two faces of authoritarianism
As we look back to that fateful day in September 1972 forty-two years ago, when Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed Martial Law, we need to understand how and why many Filipinos accepted one-man rule in the first instance.
2014.09.17 The quagmire in Iraq and Syria
It must feel terrible for the United States President Barack Obama to enter the final years of his presidency ordering air attacks against Islamist rebel forces in Iraq and Syria.
2014.09.14 Encountering “Noli” at the opera
Rizal’s two novels, Noli me tangere and El filibusterismo, shook me to the core of my being when I first read them as a young student for reasons that I could not explain.
2014.09.11 Considerations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law
Once the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law comes before Congress, we can expect its key provisions to be challenged on constitutional grounds.
2014.09.07 The Frankenstein of Metro Manila traffic
We have all experienced being stuck in “monstrous” traffic jams.
2014.09.04 Peacekeepers in a changing world
For many Filipinos, peacekeeping work for the United Nations may be just another form of overseas employment.
2014.08.31 Humanizing the bureaucracy
Mention the word “bureaucracy,” and people are likely to take it as a detested term for long delays, inefficiency, clerical ineptness, petty arrogance, and lack of empathy.
2014.08.28 ‘Judge-made law’
A good friend of mine, Manoling de Leon, who reads my columns with the analytical mind of a well-read autodidact, sent me a question the other day for which I thought I had an adequate answer.
2014.08.24 From motorbikes to bikes
Lured by the steep drop in the prices of motorbikes, people who ride bicycles seldom hesitate to trade their bikes for motorcycles as soon as they have saved enough for a small down payment.
2014.08.21 Ninoy Aquino’s assassination
If Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. had not been murdered, he would have become, sooner or later, the president of the Philippines.
2014.08.17 Risky political moves
We may never know what impelled P-Noy to say in a television interview that he is open amending the Constitution to check judicial overreach and restore the equilibrium among the three branches of government.
2014.08.14 Political patronage revisited
In a previous column, “The Supreme Court as political reformer” (7/3/14), I noted that the recent rulings of the high court striking down the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program may give the impression that the judicial branch has taken on the role of political reformer.
Trust the Filipino to give a foreign word a culturally-specific meaning.
2014.08.07 Wombs for hire
When the world was simpler, a man and a woman got together to start a family.
2014.08.03 Libya after Gadhafi
Almost three have quickly passed since Colonel Muammar Gadhafi, the Libyan dictator who ruled his country for 42 years, was toppled from power by a revolution.
2014.07.31 The battle for trust
When we find ourselves having to make decisions in the face of so much confusion, we rely on trust to find our way and keep going.
2014.07.27 The INC at 100
The most fascinating thing about the “Philippine Arena,” billed as “the world’s largest indoor multipurpose venue,” is probably not that it stands on Philippine soil but that it has been built by the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC).
2014.07.23 Mad about the DAP
I am trying to understand the strong surge of emotion that has been unleashed by the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.
2014.07.20 Antifragile, not just resilient
The good news is that Albay province, which had chronically stood on the path of countless devastating typhoons, registered a zero casualty after Typhoon Glenda.
2014.07.17 Are we facing a constitutional crisis?
Anxious talk over a looming constitutional crisis instantly filled the air the other night after President Benigno S. Aquino II announced on national television that he did not agree with the Supreme Court’s decision nullifying key elements of his administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
2014.07.13 Achieving the Constitution
There are at least two types of laws found in the Constitution.
2014.07.10 Politics and the Constitution
If we can step back for a moment from the legal issues that are presently the object of heated debate, we might be able to view the controversy surrounding the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) with a different frame.
On Feb. 24, 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Proclamation 1017, placing the country under a state of emergency.
2014.07.03 The Supreme Court as political reformer
There has always been a gap between our laws and our political reality.
2014.06.29 Just compensation for civil servants
On a visit to Singapore in 2012, my wife and I listened in amazement as our taxi driver ranted about excessive salaries that, he said, government officials in his country were paying themselves.
2014.06.26 A reversal of roles
The observant will not miss the irony: The senators who, not too long ago, stood in judgment of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, now find themselves, as defendants in the pork barrel cases, having to address their appeals for fairness and leniency to the same court.
2014.06.22 Equality before the law
The highly anticipated arrest and detention the other day of Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. on charges of plunder proceeded quite smoothly, despite the brief jostling among the media, security people, and the horde of bystander in the premises of the Sandiganbayan building.
2014.06.19 The “normal” school
In the transition to the new K-12 curriculum, according to a recent news item, college teachers who may at one find themselves without jobs will be allowed to teach high school subjects.
2014.06.15 Father’s values
I guess it is perfectly understandable that Father’s Day was established almost as an afterthought to Mother’s Day.
2014.06.12 The unbearable privilege of pettiness
In the not-too-distant past, when a Filipino senator invoked personal privilege in order to speak, the Senate set aside the business of the day in anticipation of hearing someone of the caliber of Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, Jose W. Diokno or Jovito R. Salonga fill the chamber with stirring words of wisdom, patriotism, and high-mindedness.
2014.06.08 A challenge to the Ombudsman
In most legal complaints filed in the courts, we may encounter the phrase “contrary to law” at the end of a summation of the facts.
2014.06.05 Time now to hear the Ombudsman
The belief that events are being willfully manipulated by clever individuals to shape the way the public experiences them tends to flourish during times of confusion.
2014.06.01 Education and work
A conversation I had the other day with Toto, a 21-year-old high school graduate who could not find a job, got me to think about the nature of today’s basic education and our young people’s attitude towards work, as compared to that of my generation.
2014.05.29 Corruption of the highest order
Janet Lim Napoles’ defense is that while she may be guilty of facilitating the diversion of public funds, she was not the mastermind.
2014.05.25 The Church, the media and Napoles
Imagine an individual who starts a small business supplying helmets and other necessities to the military, using the contacts made possible by her being a military spouse.
2014.05.22 The Inquirer’s list
I cringe whenever I hear people say that lists of names, documents, receipts, photographs, etc. speak for themselves.
2014.05.18 Seeing through the confusion
We live in one world, but we see the world in many different ways.
2014.05.15 The PDAF scam and the 2016 election
Will the ongoing investigation of the large-scale diversion of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to private pockets have any significant effect on the 2016 elections and on Philippine politics in general?
2014.05.11 The normalization of corruption
Even without seeing the names in the so-called “Napoles list”, we may assume that the number of implicated lawmakers is so incredibly large as to support the conclusions that, in this country, corruption has become the normal behavior and honest public service the exception.
2014.05.08 The Napoles list
Much ado is being made over Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s refusal to release the list of legislators that suspected pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles allegedly had dealings with.
2014.05.04 Accommodating America
Soon after the end of World War II, the Philippines resumed preparations for independence, a track that was disrupted by the Japanese Occupation.
2014.05.01 Labor today
About 80 countries in the world set aside May 1 every year to honor the working class.
2014.04.27 Moto California
Los Angeles. After 9/11 and the unraveling of the US financial system that began in late 2008, images of collapse, decay, unemployment, class strife, and paranoia dominated my view of America. But on this visit, the economic crisis I expected was not immediately visible.
2014.04.24 Bucket list
Los Angeles. A “bucket list” is an enumeration of things one resolves to do before “hitting the bucket,” or before reaching a defining age, like forty or sixty. More than a wish list, it is typically created against the backdrop of a profound awareness of one’s mortality. The point it conveys is that one must make time for those things one considers worth doing. Yet, in an important sense, a bucket list signifies not so much a plea for time, as a plea for life.
2014.04.13 The language of Pope Francis
Much has been written about the broad differences that separates Pope Francis from Pope Benedict XVI, and the comparison tends to be at the latter’s expense.
2014.04.10 Patriotic martyrdom as religion
“Araw Ng Kagitingan,” which we celebrate every year as a public holiday on April 9, used to be known as the “Fall of Bataan” or simply “Bataan Day.”
2014.04.06 Boundaries in a globalized world
One would have to have to see the world with bellicose eyes not to feel uneasy over the absurd talk about China doing to us what Russia supposedly did to Ukraine recently – annex territory by force.
2014.04.03 Moral progress and the pork barrel
We welcome the Ombudsman’s decision to file plunder and graft charges against Senators Enrile and Revilla and several others who have been implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
2014.03.30 Modernity and the Bangsamoro
Modernity is a term that confuses many.
2014.03.27 The peace agreement with the MILF
A realistic way to understand the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that is due to be signed today amid tremendous rejoicing is to view it as a concrete plan for establishing a stable political order in Muslim Mindanao.
2014.03.23 Simple joys
For almost a decade after the hanging of the Filipino domestic helper Flor Contemplacion in Singapore, I stopped going there.
2014.03.20 The Crimean crisis
Most Filipinos probably do not know where Crimea is
2014.03.16 The world in a garden
A garden has been described as a place where human purpose meets Nature, “a gesture against the wild,” the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas eloquently put it.
2014.03.12 Delfin Lee’s business model
The provision of affordable social housing to low-income families has been a persistent concern of the country’s successive administrations.
2014.03.09 The global pressure on education
Invited to participate in the external review of a Japanese university’s program to systematize its globalization thrust, I found myself in Tokyo this past week meditating on what the term “globalization” means for education.
2014.03.06 Reflections on the new media
About two weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the Second Inquirer Conversation held at the University of Santo Tomas.
2014.03.02 The future of democracy
It has become fashionable to pronounce the return of Philippine democracy through the 1986 people power uprising a failure – on two counts.
2014.02.27 The anatomy of corruption
Some years from now, when students of politics and governance begin to publish scholarly papers on the structure of official corruption in our country, the Janet Lim-Napoles scam could emerge as the most crucial episode in the nation’s struggle to modernize its political system.
2014.02.23 Behind the ‘miracle’ of Edsa
In the months following the overthrow of the Marcos regime in February 1986, Filipinos greeted the air of freedom with a euphoric sigh of relief.
2014.02.20 Law and politics in Senate hearings
As guilty as they may be in the public eye, legislators who are accused of receiving kickbacks from their pork barrel allocations have every right to defend themselves against attempts to prejudge their guilt.
2014.02.15 Michael’s ‘triple axel’
Watching the Filipino figure skater Michael Christian Martinez compete the other night in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, brought me back to those times when my wife and I used to spend Saturday afternoons at the mall watching our granddaughter Julia learn how to skate on ice.
2014.02.13 Love and society
In the small neighborhood on the UP campus where I live, I often see a young boy in wheelchair breeze past my house.
2014.02.08 Ruby Tuason’s affidavit
It has been almost six months since the first cases of plunder and graft involving lawmakers’ pork barrel were filed at the Office of the Ombudsman.
2014.02.05 Through the prism of Thai politics
In previous columns I have argues that Thailand’s attempts to grapple with the complex problem of legitimacy since 2001 illuminate for us the roots of the crisis that rocked our society during the presidencies of Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada and of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).
2014.02.01 Elections in Thailand
Neighboring Thailand goes to the polls today (Sunday) with the hope of resolving the festering political conflict that has taken an increasingly violent turn in the last three months.
2014.01.30 Seeing something others don’t
The big topic of coffee shop talk these days is not the signing of the annexes to the peace accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
2014.01.25 Professionalism and the ERC
So complex and demanding are the functions and responsibilities of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) that the law that created it pegged its members’ compensation at the same level as that of justices of the Supreme Court.
2014.01.23 Kap’s amazing stories
It is a fascinating facet of our soceity, and indeed of our times, that one can make a name portraying fictional characters with superhuman powers and use this to launch a political career.
2014.01.18 Political transitions and legitimacy
On a cold day like this in January 2001, exactly 13 years ago, the Philippines found itself in the throes of another political transition.
2014.01.15 Going solar
For the last two months now, I have welcomed sunlight into our home in a way that has made me conscious of the sun’s life-giving presence.
Almost as soon as Cardinal Luis Tagle ended his homily at the Luneta Park Mass preceding the procession of the Black Nazarene, a big commotion broke out, shattering the solemnity of the occasion.
2014.01.09 Culture, faith, and the Black Nazarene
If there is a cultural phenomenon that perhaps perfectly encapsulates the complexity of the Filipino religious psyche, it must be the devotion to the Black Nazarene.
2014.01.04 Church assets and the laity
December 30 is marked as Rizal Day everywhere in the country.
2014.01.01 PDAF scholars
In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund illegal, lawmakers from both houses of Congress have asked what will happen to their scholars whose education is being financed by pork barrel funds.