Tempest at Holy Spirit Laoag

In my senior year in high school, I ran for president of our student government. I knew I was qualified for the post and had all the best intentions. My mind brimming with ideas for programs and projects for my schoolmates, I really tried to campaign hard so I could win. I made very creative and informative flyers, did a room-to-room campaign, and smiled wider and more often than I usually would.

I lost by one vote.

The frustratingly close margin notwithstanding, I was a graceful loser. I conceded defeat, congratulated Henry Barroga—my opponent, winner by a single vote—and pledged him my support.

In high school, Henry smoked, drank frequently, had mediocre grades, and was more passionate as a lover than a leader. But his father, the highly respected Nol Datoc, who served as Laoag City Sangguniang Panlungsod secretary for a long time, talked to me, with his right arm on my teenaged shoulder. “My son is really a good boy deep inside, Herdy. Please help him become a good leader, too.”

I remained active in student organizations and collaborated with Henry on some projects. I still tried to make a difference in my own sphere of influence. I did not need to prove anything; I really just wanted to serve. At the end of the school year, I ended up being chosen over Henry for the prestigious Gerry Roxas Leadership Award.

I would see Henry again after many years. He is now successful in his career and has a happy family life. We had fun reminiscing the past. I was deeply moved by our mutual respect for each other.

Indeed, it is commendable to accept defeat in elections, especially in the Philippine context where most politicians proclaim only two things: either they won or they were cheated. Bowing to the electoral judgment of the majority is one important democratic principle we should thus seriously teach our children.

But what, dear karikna, if the elections were not clean, honest, and orderly? What if this democratic exercise itself casts doubt on the sovereign will?

These questions come to fore as there have been news reports circulating on the tempestuous student elections held last February 8 at the Holy Spirit Academy of Laoag. Continue reading “Tempest at Holy Spirit Laoag”

What is wrong with Miss Laoag

Miss Laoag
“I am Miss Laoag from Isabela, and I am happy to succeed Miss Laoag from La Union.”

But first let me begin with what is right with Miss Laoag, lest I be accused of being a pessimist, a grinch, a KJ or KSP (No, dear friends, my lovely dog Lady Jaja Colleen has totally changed my worldview; this charming licker has taught me to find joy in the simplest of things, and so I have been thinking brightly these days).

Indeed, there are many things we are glad about the pageant, and first among them is its employment of world-class talents in its production team, foremost of them Randy Leaño, now Hawaii-based but who comes home every year to direct the grand spectacle; prodigiously talented Aian Raquel, the show’s creative consultant; and multi-awarded choreographer Rowell Tagatac. I am not only a friend to these three artistic mavericks; I am also a big fan. Should any university offer a Ph.D. in Beauty Pageant Production, these there must be given honorary degrees outright.

Another plus factor for Miss Laoag is its wide viewership. And organizers say there are now fewer viewers on site but more on television and on the Internet, especially this year when two rival cable television networks covered the event. “Are you going to Miss Laoag?” I have been asked this many times by a wide range of people—from my esteemed colleagues in the academe to tambays in my neighborhood. Surely, the event reaches a wide audience.

I did not go this year’s Miss Laoag. I would have wanted to see the magical, world-class stage they put up every year. Their set design has always proved to be a work of art that transports you to another place as good as, if not better than, the Miss Universe stage. I know that the organizers conceptualize the event many months before February, and that putting together the whole show is a product not only of talent and genius, but also of hard work and commitment.

Having said these, it should be clear that I am no longer, as I previously was, opposed to the holding of the beauty pageant as a fiesta activity. It does not matter to me anymore that millions are spent to stage the event. If you don’t spend the money for that purpose, it might end up being used for the construction of politicians’ mansions anyway, or for the purchase of more luxury cars for them. Better to spend it for something that, though ephemeral, can leave a lasting impression on our third-world minds.

It does not bother me anymore that there are more people who watch sexy ladies at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena than those who pay homage to St. William, our city’s patron, in the cathedral named after him. That’s the least of my problems, and I’d rather listen to candidates’ outrageous answers in the Q&A portion than hear priests speak against things they don’t understand, like sex (with apologies to priests who are sexually active).

Lastly, it does not disturb me anymore that politicians deliver long, empty, self-aggrandizing speeches during the night. I have downloaded a lot of games in my computer tablet, and many of them are still waiting to be played.

So, what is wrong with Miss Laoag? Continue reading “What is wrong with Miss Laoag”

Ang guard, ang nagmamadaling pari, at ang hindi nag-amalayer

FEB. 9– Inihatid ko kanina ang parents ko sa St. William’s Cathedral. Alas-siete ng gabi. They are both in their 70’s. Ang dad ko ay dalawang beses nang na-stroke kaya nahihirapan nang maglakad, kinakailangang akayin para hindi matumba. Pero palagi pa rin sila sa simbahan. Devoted sila sa pagsisilbi sa Diyos at hinahangaan ng marami ang kanilang pananampalataya. My mom is a daily communicant and serves as lector during masses.

Nung bumababa na sila sa sasakyan doon sa malapit sa simbahan, biglang pinapaabante ng guard ang sasakyan namin kayat nagmamadali namang bumaba ang parents ko. Hindi ko maintindihan kung anong emergency ba ang meron at hindi makahintay and guard. Halos madapa-dapa na ang parents ko sa kakamadali pero panay pa rin ang madali ng guard.

Bumigat ang loob ko.. parang may hindi tama. Imbes na tulungan ng guard ang mga parents ko e minamadali pa sila nang ganun na lang. Kaya naghanap ako ng parking space sa gilid para makababa ako at makausap ko ang guard.
Continue reading “Ang guard, ang nagmamadaling pari, at ang hindi nag-amalayer”


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Herdy Yumul

Blogger/Columnist/Book Author


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