YES, thank you for noticing the past tense. Sergio Utleg is set to leave the Diocese of Laoag to wear a heavier cap as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao.

Last June 15 at the Vatican, Josef Ratzinger, alias Benedict XVI, announced the new appointment. Utleg will succeed Diosdado Talamayan, 78, whose resignation has, after three years of waiting, finally been accepted by the Pope. Sixty-seven year old Utleg will serve the archdiocese with around 1.3 million Catholics, 82 priests and 122 religious.

I am happy with Utleg’s transfer, for his near six-year stint in the Diocese of Laoag was marked not as much spiritually as it was commercially. And it started on the wrong foot. Right after he assumed office as bishop of Laoag, the very first project to be completed was a swimming pool at the bishop’s palace.

Then the diocese worked closely with the Laoag City Government to have a mall built in a parcel of land where a heritage school building sits. “Of course, it’s about the money,” the bishop, in a personal meeting with your karikna, said of the unpopular move, explaining that revenues can be put to good use. But Utleg was all too willing to dismantle everything just to have the diocesan cash register ring louder than our famed bell tower. Boy, he even attempted (or, at the very least, condoned attempts) to wrap the churches in Laoag and San Nicolas with mall buildings. If not for the people’s strong resistance and fervent prayers, add to that twists of fate, these plans would have pushed through. Majestic Ilocos churches would have been irreparably utlegged.  Continue reading “Utlegged”

The lie of Eli

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD.  Elizabeth Raquel, president of Gumil Filipinas, was “Mark Limon.”

Two years ago, a news article supposedly written and contributed by one Mark Limon appeared in this paper. The news article, headlined ““University of Hawaii prof calls Quezon stupid,” was obviously a tirade against Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili. In good cheer, Agcaoili called the late president Manuel Quezon “stupid” during a Mother Language Education forum held at the MMSU College of Teacher Education. He felt that Quezon’s ‘one-nation, one language’ policy was an eighteenth-century measure that led to the decline of Philippine languages other than Tagalog. Limon’s news article said many participants, including teachers and students, were offended by the remark.

Limon’s piece prompted Agcaoili to write a lengthy Letter to the Editor which attacked, in a scathing manner, Limon’s grammatical flaws and minor factual errors. Not mincing words, he even said, “Maasiak kadagiti adalan daytoy a maestro a din sa met nakasursuro.”

In a column on this issue, I expressed my suspicion that this is just a microcosm of the large-scale intramurals between rival groups Gumil Filipinas and Timpuyog Dagiti Mannurat iti Iluko. Limon was an elementary teacher in Currimao where Raquel is DepEd district supervisor. Raquel, let me remind you, is president of Gumil Filipinas while Agcaoili is one of the brains behind TMI.

I was right, but only that the real scenario is even more shocking than my conspiracy theory. In an interview with your karikna, Limon revealed that his name was used by Raquel without prior permission. In fact, Limon, who was not even present in the affair where Agcaoili made the ‘stupid’ remark, was only told by Raquel about the falsely bylined news article when it was already published.

But why is Limon now coming out in the open? It is because, dear karikna, he is no longer under the supervision of Raquel. Limon has been recently hired to teach at the MMSU College of Teacher Education. When he was still working in Currimao, teacher Limon was frequently used by supervisor Raquel as encoder.

Some folks in the Iluko writing circle have long shared the suspicion that everything is Raquel’s machination. The proof? The terrible English employed in the article is the same problematic English Raquel is patently known for. Continue reading “The lie of Eli”

Ianree kayganda


On June 1, you took your new job as provincial tourism officer of Ilocos Norte. You left a teaching career in the university to assume a responsibility where you feel you can be of better service to society.

I talked to you against it, first because you are a real gem in the academe, and second because I will miss working with you, but you seem resolute and eager, and so I fully support you and wish you well, as any real friend should.

You have always had my respect, and you know that. You know, too, that I believe you are one of the most creative minds in the province, er, in the country. You loved your job in the university, and your job loved you back. As a result, students under your tutelage won regional and national awards. With your theatrics, showmanship and exceptional talent, you have endeared yourself to your colleagues.

As you endeared yourself to me. Thank you for doing the cover and layout of “The He(a)rd Mentality”, a perfect testament to your Dionysian ecstasies. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an old maxim our book defies, for the cover you skillfully crafted gave perfect justice to my work’s content. You made me cry with your difficulty in beating deadlines, but that is not exactly unusual with real artists whose worlds defy both time and space. I am glad the end did justify the tearful means.

You are a real gem, Aian, but not all good people, of course, must hide inside academic walls and content themselves with passionate theorizing and making students believe in an idealized world. Leave that dreamy job to fools like me. Continue reading “Ianree kayganda”

Bura vs Bora

Room 137, The Manor Hotel, Camp John Hay. I am in Baguio as I write this, but two other places are on my mind.

Last month, I had the chance to join a trip to Boracay, which I first visited in 1999. I trooped to the world-famous beach along with colleagues from the local media, particularly those from the Provincial Capitol Press Corps. Of course, we had a lot of fun. The beach was superb.  And there was overflowing beer and wine, countless platters of gustatory delights, and a lot of the three S= Swimming, Shopping, and Sayawan. No, there was no fourth S, it was all clean fun. Continue reading “Bura vs Bora”