Rizal’s “Indolence of the Filipinos”

Writing in 1890 for La Solidaridad, Jose Rizal takes up the question of the so-called “indolence” of the Filipinos.  This claim, he argues, had allowed the Spanish colonial authorities to excuse their own “stupidities,” and the friars to “make themselves irreplaceable.”  We should not be content to simply deny it, he says.  We must “examine … Read more

Pinoy happiness

The other night, while walking around the acacia-lined oval of the University of the Philippines Diliman campus, I found myself trailing behind a group of young people lost in cheerful conversation.  They moved unhurriedly and seemed completely oblivious of everything around them.  Every stride they made was marked by laughter. I had seen this before … Read more

The reality of surveys

A lot of nonsense is being uttered in response to a recent Pulse Asia finding which shows that forty-two percent of the respondents in the October 2007 Ulat ng Bayan survey consider Gloria Macapagal Arroyo “the most corrupt president in Philippine history.”  Instead of disputing the scientific adequacy of the survey, defenders of Ms Arroyo … Read more

The quest for the new

In 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, the population of the Philippines was approximately 45 million.  Today, there are close to 90 million of us.  But, beyond this demographic doubling, our society has become complex in many other ways. As individuals, we find ourselves less constrained by tradition.  We are freer to choose our … Read more

The silence of the camps

Brigadier General Danilo Lim and former Navy Lt. SG, now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV are two of the smartest officers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  They are highly regarded by their men and by their contemporaries in the officer corps.  Few senior officers in the Philippine military today can match their popularity among … Read more

Confessions of a motorcycle rider

I started riding a motorcycle in the mid-1960s after my maternal grandfather gave me a second-hand Ducati 160cc Junior Monza as a graduation gift. He said he couldn’t afford the VW Beetle that I had wished for, so would I settle for a motorcycle? I knew nothing about motorcycles, much less about the venerable name … Read more

Remembrance of meals past

My mother would have turned 85 last week.  Instead of visiting her grave at Himlayang Pilipino, where she lies buried beside my father’s bones, I chose to go home to Betis, where she cared and cooked for a husband and thirteen children.  When she died in 2000, we restored our house as a tribute to … Read more

The crisis of cash politics

The recent expose of the distribution of cash bundles in the presidential palace at the end of a day-long meeting with legislators and local government executives casts new light on the evolving nature of Philippine politics.  In the early years of the nation’s politics, the top officials of the land commanded enough awe and respect … Read more

The culture of cash politics

What has drawn sustained public attention to the recent distribution of cash gifts to congressmen and local executives is not so much that unaccounted money was given to politicians, but that it was done on such a scandalous scale and right in the presidential palace itself.  No one believes this can happen without the knowledge … Read more

Making sense of the GMA-Erap deal

The basic task of social analysis is to interpret what is happening to a society, not to agree or disagree with the actions taken by people. Only if we keep this distinction in mind is it possible to observe ourselves as a people, and to see the various ways by which we judge events. Let … Read more