A lesson in collective survival

It took 18 precious minutes for Japan Airlines (JAL) Flight 516 to safely evacuate all its 367 passengers including eight infants, and 12 crew members, after colliding upon touchdown with another aircraft at busy Haneda International Airport in Tokyo last Jan. 2. By industry standards, that was quite long. Ninety seconds or less is the … Read more

The hopeful ‘Pinoy’

It is hard to believe that a people that have gone through some of the worst disasters in the world and have seen their country drop from being the most developed to one of the poorest in Southeast Asia, can remain so hopeful about the future. But that’s exactly the finding of the country’s two … Read more

Going bananas

The other weekend, I went to visit an old friend’s organic farm with my brother Bong, a civil engineer who, like many retirees, has gone into farming. After showing us around his farm, our gracious host Philip treated us to a delicious snack of grilled cheese on toasted sourdough bread. The sharp burnt cheese made … Read more

‘Atin Ito’: The birth of active citizenship

The English translation “This is ours!” doesn’t quite specify the addressee. But the original Tagalog “Atin Ito!” does—it is addressed to Filipinos. As Edicio dela Torre, one of the leaders of the new advocacy group “Atin Ito Coalition” makes clear, this is a call to deepen Filipinos’ awareness of the contentious issues surrounding that portion … Read more

Human rights in the last 75 years

It has been 75 years since the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a foundational document that sets out the rights and freedoms inherent in and applicable to all human beings. Though not legally binding in itself, the UDHR with its 30 articles has served as a common … Read more

Carbon credits

Somewhere in Africa, a new kind of two-burner stove that runs on bioethanol in canisters is steadily replacing stoves that use charcoal, kerosene, and even liquefied petroleum gas. Fifty percent cheaper than charcoal and far more efficient for cooking, it is primarily aimed at improving the situation of poor families living in slums, whose health … Read more

AI: Between morality and money

It has been exactly one year now since the nonprofit company OpenAI released ChatGPT, the large language model (LLM) program that has triggered a worldwide fascination with artificial intelligence (AI). Like an early Christmas gift, ChatGPT 3.5 was offered to users at no cost—in the same spirit of experimentation that had inspired its creation. So … Read more

The significance of Leila de Lima

Are Filipinos ready for someone like Leila de Lima? The quick answer to that, I’m afraid, is we were not, but we should be, if we expect any meaningful progress in our society. Here is a bright woman who opted to be an election lawyer after graduating salutatorian in law school and placing eighth in … Read more

War and the larger questions of our time

It is difficult not to feel outraged, bothered — and helpless at the same time — as we watch the latest news on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian war in the Middle East and the ceaseless slaughter of defenseless civilians that has resulted from it. In an effort to gain some understanding of the origins of this … Read more

To have a country of one’s own

As I write this, 115 Filipinos working in war-torn Gaza are waiting at the Rafah border for permission to cross into Egypt—and from there to fly back safely to the Philippines. Those married to Palestinians must go without their spouses because neither Israel nor Egypt, which controls this border crossing, would allow Palestinians to leave … Read more