Behind the durability of institutions

Administrations — or governments, as they are called in Europe — may come and go, but even the worst of them do not leave lasting damage on society if the institutions are strong. Institutions are the formed routines of collective living that are protected by society’s system of norms and rules. They are the basic … Read more

The teacher factor

In last week’s column, I focused on the role that language of instruction plays in determining learning outcomes, especially in the early years of formal schooling. Numerous studies have shown that learners are doubly burdened when the language used in teaching, say, math or science, is totally different from what they use at home. If … Read more

What ails Philippine education

The below-average test scores of most Filipino students in Mathematics and Science that have been reported in various international assessments are all ultimately attributable to a reading comprehension problem. Our students simply can’t grasp the meaning of what they’re reading, or relate this to what they know, even when they may be able to utter … Read more

America and China: A tale of two systems

The United States’ commemoration of the 245th anniversary of its independence this year coincides with China’s celebration of the centenary of the founding of its Communist Party. This fascinating conjunction of events succinctly conveys the rivalry between two contrasting systems of society. It is a rivalry that is no longer usefully summed up as a … Read more

The outside of politics

In deference to the dead and to those in mourning, propriety demands that the community avoid talking in public about the possible impact that someone’s death may have on the world he or she leaves behind. This is not easy to follow, especially when the death is untimely, and the deceased has been a public … Read more

The opposition’s dilemma

By “opposition,” I simply mean here the many groups and individuals that are determined to prevent the Duterte regime from perpetuating itself beyond the 2022 presidential election. I do not use the term in the context of the “government/opposition” rivalry that one finds in mature democracies, where stable political parties regularly compete with one another … Read more

Making the republic work

Whoever thought that a Sara Duterte-Rodrigo Duterte tandem might be the ideal team for the country in the 2022 presidential election is either joking or being cynical. He or she — or they — show no respect for the Constitution, and no regard for the incalculable time and effort the Filipino people have invested in … Read more

The return of the lab-leak theory

When the World Health Organization team tasked to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic reported its findings in March this year, one of its aims appeared to be to dismiss all speculation that the virus had been engineered by scientists engaged in “gain-of-function” experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It was “extremely unlikely,” … Read more

Breathing and walking through the pandemic

Daily, we are informed of the number of new coronavirus cases, of people who have died from the disease, and of the many who are presumed to have recovered. These figures provide a general picture of the toll the pandemic is taking on our population. We are less aware of the lingering health problems that … Read more

Vaccine preference: A matter of trust

The main problem that COVID-19 vaccine rollouts everywhere have had to confront is vaccine refusal or hesitancy, not brand preference or vaccine “choosiness.” Vaccine preference has been observed particularly among those who have already made the decision to be vaccinated. This suggests that, rather than being a mere expression of colonial mentality — as presidential … Read more