A long and healthful life

At a certain age, almost all conversations turn to diets, disorders, and health matters.  The starting point could be politics, or sports, the economy, or family – it doesn’t matter.  Talk inevitably drifts to the one thing we usually spend a lifetime abusing, and a fortune desperately recovering: health. For some it starts as early … Read more

Changing our priorities

What the country needs, says the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is not Charter change but character change.  I think what we need today is neither Charter change nor character change, but a change in our priorities – a change that reflects a greater resolve to put our national destiny in our hands rather … Read more

When the political system fails

Political leaders have a duty to make sure that the decisions they produce in the nation’s name are not only legal but also legitimate. Politicians cannot perform their tasks as if they were mere consumers of a political order’s legitimacy; they must themselves continuously reproduce that legitimacy. The traditional politicians in Malacanang and in the … Read more

Side-show to a political crisis

The issue seems simple enough: Can the House of Representatives, acting alone and without the concurrence of the Senate, exercise the constituent powers of Congress? The House majority says it can. Commonsense tells us it cannot.  The constitution-making powers of Congress, like its law-making powers, are lodged in Congress as a bicameral structure. Section I, … Read more

Poverty and the disaster threshold

With at least 400 people dead in Bicol and Southern Tagalog in the wake of super typhoon “Reming,” we may expect, yet again, another round of national reflection aimed at gathering lessons and lecturing our people on natural disasters.  This is a favorite sport of politicians. Unfortunately, such reflection yields little by way of self-understanding … Read more

UP and the case for State subsidy

Less than two years from now, the University of the Philippines will mark its centennial.  It will do so in a world far more complex than the colonial era that saw its founding.  Additional campuses and new curricular offerings mirror the basic changes in function that it has assumed as a State university.  Over the … Read more

The intellectual is political

Nothing perhaps more bluntly shows the present government’s authoritarian bent than the recent filing of rebellion charges against former University of the Philippines President Francisco Nemenzo. In both its legal and ordinary senses, rebellion means taking up arms against the government.  Nemenzo has not taken up arms against the state, nor has he advocated its … Read more

How much poverty can a nation take?

How much poverty can a nation take before it starts to disintegrate? The latest Social Weather Stations survey reports that 51% of the people they asked rated themselves poor, and that almost 3 million Filipino households experienced hunger in the last three months. In themselves, surveys about poverty have no intrinsic meaning. Individuals have different … Read more

After people’s initiative

What we are seeing in the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on fundamental questions is a legal system painfully weaning itself away from extra-legal influences. It is understandable that some of the magistrate’s opinions, if not the decisions themselves, have been rather sharp in language.  I view this as the Court’s way of serving notice that … Read more

Hope in education

So abiding is the Filipino’s belief in education that we can think of it as occupying almost the same place in our culture as that assigned to religion.  It is probably the only thing that makes us modern.  We have no fear of the future, and neither are we sentimental about the past.  We expect … Read more