Vernacular gifts

Three times I attempted to replicate a beef-in-olive-oil dish I first tasted on Bau Alunan’s table.  I love to reconstitute recipes from the sheer memory stored in my taste buds.  But this particular dish I simply could not get right.  My concoction was unquestionably edible, my children assured me, but I knew there was something … Read more

Voters and matchmakers

How does one choose a vice president?  What makes a good team? It is the season for matchmaking, and just about everyone is playing the role of casting director, operating with certain notions of what is an attractive president-vice president combination and what is not.  What is often overlooked is that, while they may subscribe … Read more

What is a trapo?

“It is a piece of cloth used for cleaning,” Speaker Jose de Venecia told a talkshow audience recently, as he tried vainly to recover the positive meaning of a word that has stubbornly clung to him.  In the unique vocabulary of Philippine politics, it is not, of course, the trapo’s cleaning power, but its natural … Read more

The language of war

The NPA has not been conducting those raids on police detachments and taking hostages in the process just to show it is not a spent force. It has been doing so, above all, to remind the government that it is engaged in a civil war, that there exists a duality of political power in the … Read more

Desiderata for graduate life

In September this year, CP, the eldest of our four children,  left home to start a new life.  Not as a husband, which would have been appropriate at his age, but as a graduate student abroad.  Twenty-nine years ago, at age twenty-three, I undertook both transitions at the same time, whereas our son seems willing … Read more

Martin Sheen and the urban poor

The actor Martin Sheen was in Manila this week, not to promote a movie, but to focus public interest on the situation of the Filipino urban poor.  Not too many people know that Sheen’s background is working class, and that for many years now, he has quietly championed the cause of the poor and the … Read more

Why we remember

There is hardly any news about the Centennial these days, apart from the launching of a watch especially designed for the occasion by Jaime Zobel de Ayala.  President Ramos himself recently expressed disappointment over the lack of appreciation by the general public of the significance of the nation’s coming 100th birthday.  What clearly excites most … Read more

The irrational in politics

Foreign journalists who come to our country to gather stories on Philippine politics nowadays never fail to ask about Erap.  They say the outside world’s fascination with Erap is fast approaching the intensity of its previous obsession with Imelda.  Imelda remains an abiding subject for international media apparently, but now there is also Erap, the … Read more

The tax collector and I

For over 30 years now, or from the moment I earned my own money, I have faithfully paid income taxes to the tax collector.  And for nearly 29 years now, or since we got married, my wife and I have dutifully filed a  joint income statement as a couple.  I cannot say that my relationship … Read more

The school of politics

There are no schools for making a marriage work and raising a family, or for seeking public office and serving the community.  It is remarkable that in areas where it matters most,  we seem content with learning by doing.  We take the plunge first, then we learn. Some go through an apprenticeship with an old … Read more