Song insults humanity

ON TOP of the radio charts today is “Who am I?“, a gospel song performed by a Christian rock band named Casting Crowns.

The other weekend when I had to stay in the office to help my students polish their degree papers, I listened to the song 43 times (yes, I tallied!) in two days, not exactly by choice, I assure you, as all radio stations were playing it incessantly.    To the vulnerable, it would seem a perfectly inspirational song.  For me, however, it brings much discomfort. The song insults humanity. It insults me… and you.

The musical piece sets off on a nice note though.  It poses the most important and meaningful of man’s questions.

Who am I?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”, posits Socrates. All inquiries must be rooted in the self, and so I honestly like the first line.

But then the insult begins… Continue reading “Song insults humanity”

Top town dad earns Socio degree

AS A POLITICIAN, Rommel T. Labasan is currently busy attending commencement ceremonies in a number of schools. He is usually a guest of honor and speaker. On April 3, however, it will be his turn to wear a toga and march, this time as a graduate.

Labasan, the number one Sangguniang Bayan member of Pinili town, is one of nine candidates for graduation for the degree Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.

On March 13, the three-term councilor successfully defended his thesis entitled, Perceived Effectiveness of Gender and Development (GAD) programs in Pinili, Ilocos Norte. He was under the advisorship of Herdy Yumul who describes Labasan as “very humble and receptive”. Continue reading “Top town dad earns Socio degree”

Students stage “Mutya ng Saging”


ACCOUNTANCY and Civil Engineering students staged a marathon run of Mutya ng Saging, March 9 at the CAS audiovisual room.

The play, which was under the direction of Herdy La. Yumul, ran for 40 minutes and was performed four times that day to appreciative audiences.

In a short message he delivered right before the presentation, Yumul said in Filipino, “napatunayan na sa ating kasaysayan ang bisa ng mga dula sa pagmumulat sa taumbayan. Bihira lamang tayong makasaksi ng mga ganitong pagtatanghal. Sana ay maging buhay ang dulaan sa ating pamantasan.” Continue reading “Students stage “Mutya ng Saging””


(This is an oratorical piece I wrote for my nursing students at the Trinity University of Asia. It is now also being used in speech classes in other universities and colleges in Metro Manila. I am sharing this with you because by all accounts, the election fever has begun, and the youth should play spectator no more.)


Eight years ago, in the year 2001, our voices were heard, loud and clear for the world to know that after all, we, the youth, have enormous power to change the course of history.

Yes, sometimes, you may see us, young people, who compose over 40% of this country’s population, getting engrossed with mundane and trivial pursuits, like malling, Friendster or online computer games, but, in my short talk today, allow me to show you what many don’t see. Continue reading “YOUTHFUL VOICE IN AN ANGRY SEA OF APATHY AND DISBELIEF”

Congratulations, classmates!

The other week, I was surprised to find on my table a paper bag containing a violet-colored something. It was the class jacket of MMSU Pharmacy Class of 2009, with my name embroidered on the chest part. A personalized handkerchief came with the package.

On the paper bag were notes handwritten by members of the class. The words were so moving, I began to understand why they gave me a hanky as well. Sorry to disappoint you, but I stopped reading after a few lines. For one, it feels awkward when people love and adore you so much. Also, I felt undeserving of such words which can only be as sweet as those who wrote them.

Our friendship started in 2007 when they were my students in Society and Culture. They were already in their junior year, and I was on my first semester in the university. All members of the class were so jolly and vibrant that no one looked sleepy nor bored even when our class was scheduled at the proverbial “unholy hour” of 1:00 p.m., and was held in a humid classroom in a faaar-away building. They always came on time, listened to me attentively, participated in all activities and, most importantly, laughed at my jokes even when they were not so funny.  These students sure know a lot about modern medicines, but they confirm that laughter, as the cliche goes, is still best.

After that semester, we met very rarely. But we knew, deep in our hearts, that we have established a special bond. We would occasionally meet at the corridors and in the stairs, and each time was always as if we had not met for years.

I think the class appreciated it very much that on the Valentine’s Day of 2008, I sent them an acoustic band to serenade them with their favorite songs. This year’s season of hearts was even more memorable. Shortly before V-Day, the class invited me to speak on Job Hunting in a training-workshop they organized with much fanfare. On the scheduled day of the event, I was set to join my colleagues in a trip to Adams, a place we had always wanted to visit but never had the chance to do so. I was really looking forward to the trip, but gave it up anyway. My favorite class was more important. Adams will be conquered on another day.

Classes come and go. Faces and names are forgotten. But I have reserved a special space in my heart for this group. I appreciate it very much that they have considered me as their “honorary classmate”.

I am publishing their names in this space in the hope that the next time I read them, it will be on a national newspaper announcing their successful hurdling of the board exams. And, why not, our university has been perennially recognized as a top-performing school in Pharmacy, among many other fields.

So go their beautiful names: Continue reading “Congratulations, classmates!”

RH Bill Tackled in Multidisciplinary Forum


The Department of Social Sciences of MMSU-CAS initiated a multidisciplinary forum to tackle House Bill 5043 or the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act, one of the most controversial legislations pending in congress.  It was held at the CAS lobby, March 4.

Prof. Mario Singson and Mrs. Marchita Singson represented the Catholic Church, which poses the strongest opposition to the bill.  The couple is with the Diocese of Laoag Commission on Family and Life.

Dr. Violeta Alonzo presented her economic analysis on the bill while Prof. Fides Bernardo Bitanga delivered his philosophical discourse.

Also present were lawyer Erme Labayog and Dr. Leonisa Silvestre, MMSU health services chief, to shed light on legal and medical issues respectively.

The resource speakers delivered short speeches on their respective stands.  After which, a vibrant open forum ensued. Continue reading “RH Bill Tackled in Multidisciplinary Forum”


by RMDascil

Is it a door that closes yet remains unlocked,

or a door we leave behind – a quiet sending off?

Is it a door that closes to hide the unknown,

or a door we close that the unknown is won?

Is it a window that closes against the darkness,

or a window we close that we may own the light?

Is it a window that closes and darkens the rest,

or a window we close that darkness may rest?

Is it closed by hands – one timid, the other obstinate,

against the past’s strength that has since failed?

Is it closed by the hand whose future has come,

against the other’s present, without end?

Is it the dead-end of a road – then, nothingness,

or the emptiness lurking at the next bend?

Is it about a bridge burned after a brief passage,

or the end of a passage over an unseen bridge?

Is it a silent denial of the peaceful depth of night,

or a doorway into dawn drowning its own peace?

Is it a choice over a dream after a sudden awakening,

or an awakening of the will – of being-unto-death?

Is it the soul’s solemn attempt on the level of pure thoughts,

or of pure thought’s attempt to understand the soul?

Is it the coming of inspiration when it is no longer sought,

or the seeking of inspiration for which one has fought?

Romantic first pot

Reacting to the article ‘Legalize Marijuana’, my friend Mars of Kalinga Province, sent me this piece detailing about his first encounter with marijuana. ***kilig mode***

The summer vacation before school began for our fourth year in high school… Hector (a childhood friend) and I spent a lazy afternoon by the river. He was talking about the future – his future – and how impatient he was to get there.

I listened, like I always did. We were sitting on a rock, and our eyes were fixed on the rushing water below us, but I simply drowned out the sound of the shallow water as I concentrated on what Hector was saying.

I noticed that he was rather more focused that afternoon. Calm.

Then he reached into his pocket and brought out what then looked, for me, to be a crudely rolled cigarette. I asked what it was and he said “I smoked MJ for the first time this morning, and I thought I might share it with you… it felt good, and you might want to try it.”

I simply stared at the joint he was beginning to light with a match. Then, he brought the other end to his lips, palms forming an enclave around the stick. He inhaled. Deep. Eyes closed. Moments passed before he exhaled, and out went some smoke.

“That is, if you want to…” he said, as he opened his eyes and saw me watching intently.

Hector and I grew up together. We shared a lot of things, and he never even gave a damn that I was, well, “different.” Not wanting things to change (knowing that upon graduating from high school, we would grow apart as he would pursue a totally different field), I smiled at him, placed my hands over his, gently took the red-tipped joint from him, and recorded that day as the first time I smoked pot.

An hour later, we were still talking… with him gazing at the horizon… and me, studying the movements of the clouds above as I had my head resting on his lap.

Every time I transport myself back to that day and again feel what I felt then – river, rocks, clouds, future, Hector – I feel like I could write a book about just that episode.

Spare us, please.

Is it possible for our Sangguniang Panlalawigan to pass a resolution urging national government to exempt Ilocos from EDSA commemorations? The best thing, of course, is to scrap EDSA remembrances altogether as people are now beginning to rethink its real importance, if it has any at all.

Where have we been 23 years after EDSA I? Are we a truly-free, progressive, and united people? Or did we jump out of the pan and into the fire?

Why should we, Ilocanos, celebrate something we largely regard as an error?

Any legislator who will sponsor a measure along this line has my respect… and my vote.