In a world of avatars

After watching Avatar the film, one of my daughters remarked how she wished she could live in Pandora, the earth-sized planet inhabited by slender humanoids known as the Na’vi, who lived in harmony with Nature.  We all chimed in agreement.  In such manner do many of us project our disaffection with our own world (and … Read more

Ecological consciousness

Ecological consciousness is the awareness that nearly every aspect of our way of life affects the environment so decisively that we now must choose whether to let the effects go unchecked, or we change the way we live in order to arrest the damage. It is the growing awareness that the planet Earth is a … Read more

Martial law in Maguindanao

President Macapagal Arroyo’s Proclamation 1959 is the first time the martial law provision of the 1987 Constitution has ever been used. Compared to the 1935 Constitution under which Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, the present constitution is stricter in its definition of the conditions under which the emergency powers of the state may … Read more

Stopping GMA

In June this year, I responded to an interview request from the Inquirer about an item that appeared in the column of fellow writer Bel Cunanan.  Ms Cunanan reported that if President Macapagal Arroyo ran for a congressional seat in the 2010 election, she heard that I might challenge her.  The Inquirer’s Juliet Javellana wanted … Read more

Warlords in a weak state

Media reports and analyses of the Nov. 23rd gruesome mass murder of 57 innocent civilians in Maguindanao have highlighted different aspects of the culture of warlordism in Muslim Mindanao.  Their common starting point is the rido, the clan wars that have persisted in many parts of Philippine society, transferring unresolved antipathies to younger generations as … Read more

Politics is not all addition

There is a view of politics that is very popular among Filipino politicians.  It is summed up by the oft-repeated line attributed to the late Senator Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez: “Politics is addition.” This belief has been made to rationalize all the opportunism, the horsetrading, and the painless party-switching that we find in our electoral campaigns. … Read more

Political immaturity

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo often describes Philippine politics as if she were a detached observer analyzing its dysfunctions, rather than a key player very much implicated in the perpetuation of these dysfunctions. Consider her remarks the other day at the opening ceremonies of the 35th Top Level Management Conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster … Read more

Why presidents go local

What is wrong with the President’s frequent visits to her native town in Pampanga? Nothing – if they are the simple visits they are made out to be by her spokesmen: sentimental trips we all make to the communities of our childhood.  Everything – if their purpose is to single out a hometown or province … Read more

Remembering the dead, caring for the living

Once we reach a certain age, we find ourselves going to more funerals than weddings or baptisms.  There we meet friends and acquaintances we have not seen in a while.  After exchanging notes about family and the state of the nation, we usually end up talking about diets, doctors, and the untimely death of someone … Read more

A third way

The 2009 Nobel Prize for Economics has been awarded not to an economist but to a political scientist who refuses to be boxed by disciplinal boundaries.  Elinor Ostrom, a professor of political science at Indiana University, is being recognized for her path-breaking research on economic governance, particularly the administration of what are called “common-pool resources,” … Read more