‘What keeps you going?’

The eldest of my granddaughters, Julia, whose early childhood exploits filled quite a few of my columns many years ago, surprised me with a question over lunch the other day. “Lolo, what keeps you going?” I was at a loss for words. It’s one of those questions that could be understood in any number of … Read more

Whatever gets us through Christmas

The title of this column is inspired by John Lennon’s 1974 No. 1 single “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.” I have learned that he himself picked up this line from a black televangelist, Reverend Ike, who, one evening, was telling his late-night viewers: “Let me tell you guys, it doesn’t matter, it’s whatever gets … Read more

Regulating privatized expressways

Built in the late ’60s, what we today call expressways were originally known as “diversion roads.” They were meant to divert traffic from the national highways that traversed busy town centers. Funded by taxpayer money, the first such roads, one going North and one going South, proved convenient to long-distance travelers. They offered access to … Read more

Chaos at the expressway toll booths

Until I can get an Autosweep RFID sticker for the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), I have resolved to skip any trip south of Metro Manila. My weekend flights from pandemic house arrest will henceforth be entirely northward. I decided to prioritize securing the Easytrip RFID because I have always felt more at ease navigating the … Read more

Bonifacio and other heroes

Growing up in the small town of Betis in Pampanga, a village of proud artisans and carpenters, I came to know of the nation’s heroes early in my childhood. Dr. Jose Rizal’s name was not just the most important in the list. Indeed, he seemed, for a time, to be the only one deserving of … Read more

While waiting for the vaccine

Since the announcement two weeks ago by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer that it has successfully tested a vaccine for COVID-19 that is both safe and efficacious, hopes for an end to the pandemic have risen. Pfizer reported an efficacy rate of more than 90 percent. A week later, Moderna, a smaller company, followed suit, claiming … Read more

Five lessons from Typhoon ‘Ulysses

Considering the frequency, range, and gravity of the natural disasters that visit our country every year, it is hard to imagine any other people that are as resilient (and as positive in disposition) as the Filipino nation. We are a nation that “eats” calamities for breakfast. We are used to them. They come, they leave … Read more

American elections through Filipino eyes

Because the Philippine political system has been largely modeled after that of the United States, Filipinos have an abiding interest in knowing how the system is supposed to work. We have always looked to America for lessons on how to improve our own political processes so as to keep them aligned to the democratic ideal. … Read more

On life after loss

A few weeks after my wife Karina died in May last year, some friends of ours who had previously conveyed their sympathies, messaged me to ask how I was doing. Though at first I found this expression of concern a little odd, I soon understood what it was about. It was their way of telling … Read more

The new Chinese migration to the Philippines

The rapid expansion of Philippine offshore gaming operators, better known as Pogos, under the Duterte administration, has brought into the country an unprecedented number of young Chinese workers from mainland China. No other nationality has maintained as pervasive a presence in the online gambling industry as the Chinese. Even as we never see the gamblers … Read more