In search of the real Betis

I don’t mean the world-famous Spanish football club; I mean the little town in Pampanga made famous by its well-preserved church and its furniture makers. Today, December 30, is when Betis celebrates its town fiesta.  In the rest of the country, as we all know, this special day is set aside to mark the anniversary … Read more

The narcissism of minor differences

This captivating phrase is from the book “Civilization and Its Discontents” by Sigmund Freud, the famous psychoanalyst and philosopher whose writings aimed, in his words, “to agitate the sleep of mankind.”  It is to him that we owe ideas that are now part of the educated layman’s vocabulary — defense mechanism, wish-fulfillment, repression, narcissism, Oedipus … Read more

A little book on depression

A few years ago, the sex therapist and clinical psychologist Dr. Margie Holmes, my colleague at the University of the Philippines, told me she was researching a book on depression.  She asked if I knew anyone who had had an experience with depression and was introspective and open enough to talk about it. I’m not … Read more


National Artist and poet Virgilio Almario, a k a Rio Alma, spent all morning of Wednesday, December 15, texting friends to remind them it’s the 135thbirthday of Emilio Jacinto.  The pre-law student, barely out of his teens, joined the Katipunan when its membership was but a handful, authored itsKartilya, and put together almost single-handedly the … Read more

Justice and public opinion

More than at any other time perhaps, ours is a society that is desperately seeking to recover its faith in the legal system as a source of impartial judgments and stable notions of what is right and what is wrong.  Politics has greatly tarnished the credibility of our courts.  Our people have become cynical, seeing … Read more

Reading Benedict

If asking the Pope about condoms was nothing more than an author’s way of drumming up interest in a new book on Pope Benedict XVI, one would have to say: how very clever.  Featuring the sacred and the profane on the same page is a compelling casting coup. But, having just read “Light of the … Read more

Poor Gloria

By a vote of 10-5, the Supreme Court struck down President Benigno S. Aquino III’s Executive Order No. 1 creating the Truth Commission as violative of the constitutional right to equal protection. The high court bars the commission from investigating unresolved high-profile cases of wrongdoing committed under the previous administration.  To do so, says the … Read more

Diplomacy after WikiLeaks

For some people, ethical diplomacy is an oxymoron, a self-contradicting idea. Foreign policy, of which diplomacy is but an instrument, is supposed to be driven by the self-interest of nations, not by any notion of what is good for the world or for humanity. Accordingly, no one should be surprised or find offense in the … Read more

The underlife of US foreign policy

WikiLeaks is digital guerilla struggle in its most lethal form.  It aims to fight those who dominate and oppress the world by showing exactly how they operate. Its one and only weapon is information.  Its sole technique is disclosure.  The only ideology it professes is truth and its associated virtues: transparency, democracy, freedom of speech, … Read more

Araw ni Bonifacio

Ang Nobyembre 30, kapistahan ni San Andres, ay ipinagdiriwang tauntaon bilang Araw ng mga Bayani o “National Heroes Day.”  “It is not,” sabi ni Carmen Guerrero Nakpil. “It is the day sacred only to one hero, the one called Andres who had guts and gumption like no other.” Kinilala siyang “Ama ng Himagsikan” sapagkat sa … Read more