Fantastic Rudy

photo from


NEVER HAVE I been a fan of Rodolfo “Rudy” Castro Fariñas. I had always known he is brilliant, but the arrogance attached to his person turned me off big time. And it did not help that he got embroiled in a wide array of controversies both in the public and private spheres.

In the last elections, his campaign spiel was that he is a changed man.  After one tragedy over the other struck, successively over a decade, the once invincible politician said he had a lot of time to reflect on his life. Nice speech, but I was cynical.  It is, after all, the duty of any good citizen to always take everything a politician says with a healthy dose of disbelief.

When he won convincingly in the congressional race over Kris Ablan, who was highly popular with the younger generations, I decided to employ a wait-and-see attitude on the comeback kid.  “Let’s give the guy a chance,” I thought.

Rudy has not disappointed.  In fact, he has surprised, and so pleasantly.  Watching him in action in the televised impeachment proceedings against Merceditas Guttierez made me feel so proud to be from his district. He was consistently brilliant, witty, visually refreshing, and, oh, so charming.

That he was entrusted the post of Vice Chair of the House  Committee on Justice speaks of how highly regarded he is in the legislature.  An old congressman from the South even referred to him as a “legal luminary,” and was unabashed in saying that Rudy is someone whom “I love dearly.” It was strange because that congressman fan was standing in an opposing rostrum, and was supposed to interpolate Rudy. Not even the worn-out, wearisome antics of Minority Leader Edcel Lagman could work on Fariñas, who was as eloquent and coherent as a debater could be.

And the adulation for Rudy goes beyond the chambers of congress.  I have talked to a lot of people—from colleagues in the media and political observers to house workers of the congressman, all of them sing in unison:  he is a changed man. And his kids adore him.

I have never been a fan of Rudy Fariñas, but I think I am now, and moreso after reading a story written by Glenda M. Gloria for Newsbreak’s profiles on the members of the 11-person prosecution panel in the Ombudsman’s trial at the Senate. The story is balanced and fair; it neither sugarcoats Rudy’s dark past nor does it romanticize the present , but this to me is a story of the triumph of the human spirit.

Here’s the link.

Disappointing Guling

More surreal than festive. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Edwin Antonio of

I HAVE always believed in Paoay’s Guling-guling, which, I argue, is the only authentic festival in the region, being deeply rooted in the history and culture of the townsfolk, unlike most festivals, including Laoag’s Pamulinawen, which came out of nowhere, and which, after over a decade, very people understand, if there is anything at all to understand.

Laoag may claim that the Pamulinawen is a great festival because it has won in the Aliwan Festival, an annual competition of festivals.  But note that it has won only in the Best Float Category, and such feat, which comes at great cost to Laoag’s taxpayers, does not mean the Pamulinawen is meaningful. It only means that the organizers know how to make good (and extravagant) floats. It occasionally wins as runner up in street dance, but neither does it assure us that the festival is meaningful and unique, it simply means that the dancers know how to dance well based on formulaic criteria.

I agree that festivals could help spur the development of tourism in a certain area, but we should only share to the world those which we strongly feel form part of our historical and cultural legacies. The Guling-guling of Paoay is one festival I approve of because the people have actually practiced the Guling-guling (marking their foreheads with white ashes the day before the season of Lent begins) long before they thought of formally making it a festival.

However, I went to this year’s Guling-guling, together with a balikbayan friend, but alas, found disappointment. Continue reading “Disappointing Guling”