The rise and fall of Mark Jimenez

He came in from the cold sometime in 1998, like an emblem of the new shady lumpen-mandarins that had just come to power in the country.  He was an enigma.  Hardly anyone could remember what he looked like, nor what he had between the ears.  He talked like a stevedore, yet seemed to have more … Read more

The populist and the modern

The election of a movie actor as president of the country in 1998 and his ouster by people power in 2001 are watersheds in our nation’s political life.  These two events represent the political awakening of two distinct social classes – the middle class and the poor.  They also signal the reactivation of two parallel … Read more

The president’s declining popularity

Both the surveys and the mass media confirm it: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s popularity is vanishing quite fast.  So fast that by 2004, there may be nothing left to support a re-election bid.  The presidency that fell on her lap by sheer accident is a test of fitness rarely given to aspiring presidents.  The growing … Read more

The life of babies

My first grandchild, Julia, turns two tomorrow.  I have looked upon this day with an expectation that I do not remember reserving even for my own children’s birthday.  In the past two years, she has been my sister, philosopher, and friend, keeping me company each morning when everyone has left for work. This baby rounds … Read more

When foreign embassies close

There is little a country can do when foreign governments, out of fear, shut down their embassies because of serious threats to their security.  The move is of the same category as the issuance of advisories against traveling to particular destinations.  The host country can do two things:  take action to neutralize the threat, and … Read more

Two heroes, two nations

Cuba’s deputy foreign minister, Jose Guerra, came to the University of the Philippines the other day to give a lecture on Cuba’s relation to the world.  The point of his lecture was to show that despite the blockade by which the United States has tried to strangle his tiny country for the last 40 years, … Read more

When freedom is an empty shell

In 1946, after hijacking our war against Spain and keeping us for nearly 50 years as a colonial possession, the United States of America gave us back our freedom.  That freedom was empty and meaningless because it was given with many strings attached.  Our leaders accepted it because they thought this was still better than … Read more

ASEAN’s non-viable economies

Most of the world’s poor live in about 140 so-called “developing” countries.  So insignificant is the development actually taking place in these societies that Peruvian economist Oswaldo de Rivero calls them “non-viable national economies” (NNEs) — dysfunctional “quasination states” unable to participate in any meaningful sense in the modern global economy. In the last 40 … Read more

Government and the rule of law

Often we trace the problems of our society to government’s inability to establish the rule of law, forgetting that the functions of government are far broader.  Law is only one of several means at the disposal of government to achieve its ends.  These ends include the production of wealth in sufficient quantity, and the provision … Read more

The message of bombs

Unless a group claims outright responsibility for them, the task of dealing with terror bombs has to begin with deciphering the message they are meant to convey or the scenario they are trying to create. We must assume that terrorists intend not only to scare or sow panic but, more importantly, to deliver a message.  … Read more