Honest janitor hailed in world wide web


I USED TO HAVE a great disdain for government employees. I always imagined them as inept, inefficient, corrupt, and good only in petty gossiping. Your karikna also considered them as insensitive, arrogant and proud, what with clerks acting like the proverbial “langaw na nakatungtong sa kalabaw.”

As fate would have it, however, I myself am now a civil servant, and, providentially, with an agency highly regarded for its exacting standards and well-earned feats. Thus, I now swallow, with little difficulty, some of my words, and acknowledge that there are actually honorable men and women in the service of the Filipino people.

Make no mistake, there are still many rotten tomatoes in the basket, but the refreshing virtue of a few overshadow the stench of many.

Leoncio A. Pagtama, 52, a janitor at the MMSU College of Engineering (CoE), is one of them good fellows, and he is increasingly gaining popularity in cyberspace due to his honest deeds.

Pagtama, who joined MMSU in 1983 as a casual employee, has, on several occasions, returned lost items ranging from wallets containing thousands of pesos to calculators and watches. Continue reading “Honest janitor hailed in world wide web”

Students hold presidential mock election

The Sociology Guild, an academic organization in MMSU, sponsored a series of activities on political education and election volunteerism during the Sociology Week, Sept. 7-10.

With the theme, “Agtutubo: Preparing the thumb for the stains of politics”, the weeklong affair engaged the students on issues surrounding political education and election volunteerism in light of the national struggle for emancipation from traditional politics, transactional leadership, and morally-bereft governance.

The activities kicked off on Sept. 8 with the opening of an art-exhibit-cum-election-precinct at the CAS Lobby. In the exhibit area, a presidential mock election was also held to feel the pulse of MMSU students on their preferred presidential candidates for the 2010 elections.

Immediately after the precincts closed on Sept. 9, 3 p.m., the ballots were appreciated by student volunteers, and the results were analyzed by Social Sciences faculty members.

A total of 1,524 students, representing 23.7 percent of the tertiary-level populace in the Batac campus, participated in the poll.

Sen. Francis Escudero, the youngest among the presidentiables, garnered 33.72 percent of the votes, and emerged on top, ranking first in all colleges. Sen. Manny Villar took the second spot with 21.12 percent while Sen. Noynoy Aquino got 17.25 percent and landed third.

With 11.74 percent of the votes, Vice President Noli de Castro was in fourth place with Sen. Loren Legarda and former President Joseph Estrada settling for fifth (7.74 percent) and sixth (4.79 percent) places, respectively.

Other possible presidential candidates voted by students are Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando (1.24 percent), Sen. Jamby Madrigal (1.24 percent), evangelist Eddie Villanueva (1.11 percent), Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (0.59 percent), Sen. Richard Gordon (0.39 percent), Carlos delos Reyes of Ang Kapatiran Party (0.32 percent), and Gunless Society bet Nicanor Perlas (0.26 percent).

Dr. Violeta B. Alonzo, chair of the Social Sciences Department, hopes to have the mock polls periodically, with the next one eyed after Nov. 30, the deadline for filing of certificate of candidacy for the presidency. Dr. Joselito L. Lolinco, CAS dean, has thrown his full support for the undertaking.

Other activities include “The 2009 Sociology Forum” held Sept. 10 at the University Training Center, and a roundtable discussion at the CAS Lobby. Speakers, led by Trinity University of Asia professors Ruel F. Pepa and Glenn Agbing, and Ilocos Times columnist Steve Barreiro, tackled the national and local political climates, and how the youth can help institute reforms.

A film show featuring “Batas Militar,” a documentary on the imposition of martial law during the Marcos era was held Sept. 11, the birthday of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

ABS-CBN featured the activities in their regional news program TV Patrol Ilocos, and might air it in their nationwide broadcast as well. The media giant took interest in the MMSU mock election because it appears to be the first school-based poll conducted in view of the 2010 national and local elections.

Representative of other schools have called up the MMSU organizers so they can replicate the mock polls in their own constituencies.

MMSU students have been invited by ABS-CBN to participate in the Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo registration to be held at the Laoag City Ampitheatre, Sept. 21. An online voter registration will also be administered by the Commission on Election in the venue.

Boto mo, iPatrol Mo aims to empower the youth to help ensure clean and honest elections.


Brilliant Agca, ‘Stupid’ Quezon

BY ALL YARDSTICKS, Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili is a brilliant man.

Prior to his joining University of Hawaii, he held tenured appointment at the University of the Philippines Diliman.  He is a creative writer and social researcher who has reaped coveted awards.  Above all, he is a well-meaning iconoclast.

Last July, Dr. Agcaoili was one of the presenters in the first Mother Language Education (MLE) forum in Ilocos.  On that same occasion, the Nakem Conferences also launched Sukimat: Researches on Ilokano and Amianan Studies, a publication he co-edited with two MMSU professors.

I am quite a big fan of the man known by many as “Agca”.  In fact, after the MLE forum, I requested him to autograph my copy of Dangadang, his award-winning novel.  My admiration for the man’s writing prowess is matched by my adulation for his ideas.  His courage and candor are awe-inspiring.

The other week, however, Agca shocked me with his Letter to the Editor published in The Ilocos Times.  Continue reading “Brilliant Agca, ‘Stupid’ Quezon”

Preparing the thumb for the stains of politics

One of the letters I received was from William S. of California USA.  His letter merits attention, because he suggests I write about something he finds important.

Part of his letter reads:

“I am one of your avid readers in the Ilocos Times Online.  Based in the west coast USA, I make sure I read your column on a daily basis during my free time at work. It is a matter of principle that we really need to give you due recognition for providing enlightening information on the various social issues in the provincial and national levels. The issues you tackle span the judicial system, social economic system, political system and educational system. I admire some of your articles when it bites the “status quo” of those people in power, whether in elective or appointive positions, who are holding and discharging their duties for their own and circle-of-friends’ benefits. I also came to believe that the Ilocos Region seems to be the “Wild-Wild-North” of the entire archipelago since it is all the same since I left to this date. The conflict resolution in the political arena undermines the rule of law.

“The reason for this email is to suggest that we educate the local voters for the upcoming 2010 local and national elections. I was wondering if you could mention in your column how to value their votes for the right candidates in the upcoming election. There has to be a way to gauge budding political figures versus those who would like to perpetuate the political family dynasty. The electorate has to realize that there is always an alternative, a fresh start and new faces to select from instead of the “traditional.” There is always a political process to use if we elect the person who does not meet the people’s expectation. We also need to address those folks in the rural areas to stay home during election day if they are not aware of the issues affecting them and if they do not know the political agenda of the candidates. We need to emphasize to the rural folks and others that a few cans of sardines and a couple kilograms of rice should not subvert the voice of the people during elections.”

Continue reading “Preparing the thumb for the stains of politics”



FOLLOWING last week’s column, a good number of readers wrote your karikna to greet “Happy First Anniversary,” and to express their appreciation for this space.  Most of these well-wishers come from the silent majority of our readers, who suddenly decided to make their presence felt.  I was overwhelmed, not only because of their number, but more because of their generous words.

It’s really heartwarming when people you don’t know suddenly come forward to say “thank you” for things you never realized you have done.  I expect to have helped readers form their stands on issues, but I was surprised when Filipinos abroad consider my articles an antidote to homesickness, or when young people say the column has inspired them to pursue their meaningful passions in life, such as the case of Vincent, who shares that reading one of my articles moved him to take up a course in the arts, his true love, although his folks and peers pressure him into taking up nursing.

For his part, Jun-b, our Editor in Chief, sent me a text message that read, “Happy anniv to your good column, more power!  I think we should celebrate it one of these days when you’re free, my treat.”

I was touched by the message, and here’s why.  In the last fifty five weeks, our weekly exchanges would be:

“Have you sent your Riknakem already?”

“I will send later”


“I have sent already. Thanks.”


So, thank you, dear readers, for helping me usher this column into its second year and beyond.  It’s a sunny Friday morning as I write this, and Jun-b texted me three hours ago, “Have you sent your article already?”

Back to normal then.  Back to work, karikna.