Rules of engagement

To most of us, nothing can possibly be more exhausting than to defend ourselves day after day against those who have chosen us to be their enemies.  But some people are like Nietzsche’s warrior:  they seek resistance and they need resistance to sustain their strength. There are 2 members of President Ramos’s official family who … Read more


If angels are real, then this year they came to us in the form of the Aetas. “Angelos” is the Greek term for messenger.  And the Aetas have come with a simple message: think beyond yourselves.  By their sheer presence in the streets of Manila during these holidays, the Aetas have challenged us to rethink … Read more

The art of sleep

In the last few years, a hormone which carries the name  melatonin has become very popular among people who have trouble summoning sleep. When first launched, it was meant as a cure for jet-lag.  Today, it is also being advertised as an antidote to old age. Melatonin is produced naturally by our pineal gland during … Read more

Chito Roque: the alien next door

Why should anyone believe Chito Roque, the man who has come out to name the key players in the underworld of jueteng? His credibility is in tatters.  His overall appearance is that of someone who has not cared to look after himself in a long time.  There is no trace of the bearing of the … Read more

The ethics of a face

There is a 2-year-old baby  in our house.  No, she is not the child of any of our children.  She is the daughter of one of the maids.  She got pregnant and her boyfriend would not marry her.  We told her maybe it was just as well since they were both too young, but that … Read more

Going after Jueteng

Watching the ongoing jueteng investigation in Congress, a friend asked: what do you think is the game plan?  Like most everybody else, he was thoroughly skeptical about the public motives that inform the investigation, and was searching for a hidden agenda that would account for this sudden militancy in law enforcement.  He could not believe … Read more

Admitting Guilt: A Korean Lesson (2)

An examination of the route that led to former Korean President Roh Taewoo’s public disgrace suggests that the initial investigations did not immediately target him.  Rather they zeroed in on his close associates and members of his Cabinet, who were later convicted.   The trail of illegal transactions in which these associates were involved  led to … Read more

Admitting guilt: a Korean lesson (1)

(Read at the November 10 Kilosbayan Forum) “I feel ashamed and full of remorse for betraying the expectations of the people,” said Roh Tae-woo.  As president of South Korea between 1988 and 1993, Roh admitted taking illegal contributions from businessmen amounting to $654 million.  From these illicit funds, he said, he put away $220 million … Read more

In defense of nature

At the height of typhoon Rosing’s fury, someone in my family expressed a thought that must have lurked at the back of every Filipino mind last Friday: “Is this a curse?  Is our country being singled out for punishment by Nature?” Except for those who regularly monitor the international news, we are often unaware of … Read more

The right to die

A former student of mine, Thetis Abrera-Mangahas, who was in the very first sociology class I  taught in the 1960s read my column about life and illness last week and suddenly remembered our discussions about life and death in Sociology 101.  She sent me a sweet note and enclosed a fascinating essay by the writer … Read more