Alternatives to a dysfunctional government

Two venerable national figures this week offered blunt solutions to the problems confronting our society.  National Artist and novelist F. Sionil Jose called for a “revolution” in a lecture at the University of the Philippines.  Business leader Washington Sycip told a forum of the League of Corporate Foundations that the country might benefit from a … Read more

Religion, cinema and politics

Outside the church where his remains lay in state, Fernando Poe Jr.’s movies were being played for the common folk who lined up and waited for hours to take a last quick look at their idol.  No scene more graphically captures the substance of Filipino culture. An FPJ movie has the same effect on his … Read more

The immortal FPJ

When a man as popular and as deeply-loved as Fernando Poe Jr. dies, we can be sure that many will try to claim him as one of their own.  But FPJ always knew where he belonged – with the masa.  Da King is not dead; he lives in their consciousness. He was their hero, their … Read more

The Arroyo regime’s nightmare

Never before has this conflict become as obvious as it has today – the clash between the interests of the government’s creditors and the interests of its own citizens.  The 2005 proposed national budget says it all. Of the P907.8 billion total budget for next year, the biggest chunk of P301.7 billion (33%) will go … Read more

The instinct for honesty

I’ve sometimes wondered why “corruption” is the word used for acts of dishonesty committed by people in positions of trust.  Corruption means debasement, decay, deterioration, weakening.  These terms are usually applied to metal and, in particular, to living matter.  So, what is it that decays, deteriorates, or weakens in corrupt people? Is it morality?  Virtue?  … Read more

Hacienda Luisita

It is a testimony to the power of modern symbols that the name “Hacienda Luisita” today evokes only images of a busy shopping mall, a sprawling golf club, and a techno-business park.  Not too long ago, it referred distinctly to the largest sugar land estate in all of Central Luzon, owned by one of the … Read more

A school in Macarascas

Macarascas is one of the many sparsely populated barrios of Puerto Princesa in Palawan.  It is the home of the St. Ezequiel Moreno Parish, about an hour’s ride by jeep from the city center on the newlybuilt concrete road to Sabang and the famous St. Paul underground river.  A cut on this tourist highway leads … Read more

Middle America

No other country today affects the world the way America does. Americans have a full appreciation of their nation’s immense power, but in general they tend to have a retarded view of the great responsibility that comes with this power. Global in reach, they remain incredibly parochial in consciousness. The presidential election last Tuesday brought … Read more

The military in a corrupt society

“More than any other comparable Filipino elite, the officer corps had been created and defined by the nation.  No other group had its social role, ideology, and personal values so directly, so fundamentally shaped by the state.”  So writes the historian Alfred W. McCoy in his fascinating book, “Closer Than Brothers” (Anvil Publishing), a comparative … Read more

The general’s lawyer

Many who lived through martial law cannot look at a man in uniform without somehow recalling its horrors. It is a perceptual association that has survived the graying of memory.  You have to keep telling yourself that the evil was in the regime, not necessarily in the individuals it used. It’s not always easy to … Read more