So long, Maestro

robert caluya

JUNE 3- Opening of classes. Mr. Robert C. Caluya must by then, as he usually does at that time of the year, be very busy checking his class list, meeting new students, making sure everything is in order for another productive school year.

But no, he will, on June 3, be sitting on a plane for a seven-hour flight to the World Down Under to join his siblings there. He took a leave of absence from work for six months, whatever that means.

While sadness fills my heart and that of many because of this news of yet another genius leaving, a sense of gratitude seems more apt, for there is really so much we should thank Sir Robert for. He who has given so much. He whose generosity and foresight can be seen in the vast sea of talents he has nurtured. His former trainees—including Hawaii-based Randy Leaño and the Cabrales twins Sherberk and Sherween—have also made names in their respective fields. His friends—including INCAT dance guru Noli Joaquin and The Ilocos Times Managing Editor Mitch Esmino whose association with the Maestro dates back to youth—attest to his caring and loving nature. Continue reading “So long, Maestro”

A teacher’s strange frustration

It’s a crazy feeling.. when you trained a student well, saw in him a lot of potential, believed that he is well-empowered to make a difference out there where the real action is, and actually felt excited on what and how he can contribute to humanity… but you suddenly see him in the hallway applying to be, just like you, a teacher.. right away.. fresh from graduation.. the rented toga still bearing sweat marks.

But doesn’t the world outside have greater need for good men and women? Not that I am saying we don’t need brilliant persons to be teachers. Not that I am saying teaching is of little worth (of course, not!). And not that I am minding the career plans of others more than I should (or maybe, I am). It’s just that, except for education graduates who are really meant to teach, you have a lot of good career options out there if you are really brilliant. And, if you end up wanting to be a teacher just because you’ve got no good options, all the more you should not be a teacher.. for no way should losers teach our kids. And the worst kind of losers are those who have not even tried enough, or at all.

Better to see the world, battle in the jungle, get bruised and struggle, gain some texture, determine what among those we teachers have taught you are real and what are lies and exaggerations. Then, if you still want to be a teacher.. good!

No offense meant. I know some who were fresh graduates when they joined the academe, and they eventually became excellent teachers, real treasures. I have respect for them. Just some random musings of this teacher too eager to see the youth make their mark elsewhere only to see them again in the same spaces where we all dreamed together.

Laoag: Conjugal City

photo from
photo from

Laoagueños saw a number of firsts in the recently concluded local elections. First time Fariñases clash. First time a woman was elected mayor. First time the city is ruled by a wife-and-husband tandem.

Roger, a full-blooded Fariñas, lost to Chevylle, a Fariñas only by affinity, in the mayoralty race. She is wife of Roger’s nephew, three-term mayor Michael, who also won as vice mayor. During the campaign, Roger positioned himself as an anti-graft crusader by exposing anomalies and excesses allegedly committed by the couple. In campaign rallies and media interviews, he presented documentary evidence apparently showing ill-gotten wealth–foremost of which is an P80-M house–and mismanagement of the city’s coffers.

Naturally, Michael and Chevylle denied these allegations, but without delving into sufficient details. They basically just let Roger spill whatever beans he had at hand. The couple focused on the basics: press as much flesh as they could, solidify their hold on barangay captains, and intensify their exposure in the various forms of media.

But if Chevylle and Michael were indeed corrupt as Roger claimed, why the overwhelming win? Are Ilocanos really ready for negative campaigning? Personally, I gave value to what Roger did: raise issues that we normally would not have any chance to learn about and probe into. Many people, however, took it against the self-styled crusader. They dismissed everything he was saying as “pamerperdi” (paninira). Indeed, exposés made during the campaign period bear lesser credence than usual, and this is because the crusader himself is bent to benefit from whatever damage his revelations could possibly inflict his opponent. Why didn’t he speak about all those before? Why did he keep mum? Roger argues that he came to know about those alleged shenanigans only recently. Hmmm… Let us, dear karikna, give him doubt’s benefit while carefully watching his next steps. What will Roger do now? Where does he go from here? Continue reading “Laoag: Conjugal City”

9 senators on my ballot

I wish to share with you, dear karikna, my choices for senator in the coming polls. I am doing this not to try to influence you in anyway but simply to contribute to the public discourse on what kind of senators we should have and deserve.

Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño (Makabayan)

It’s time for a true leftist in our Senate. This this will make our democracy even more vibrant and the Senate more representative.

Teddy visited our home when he came over to Laoag City, and during the simple dinner my family prepared for him and some academics and journalists I invited, everyone was impressed by his progressive views on issues. The discussions were intellectually stimulating and honest, so honest that he admitted towards the end what he and his party thinks is still the ultimate solution to our country’s ills: armed revolution.

Though it is possible that his party, which has decided to bring the struggle from the streets to the legislative halls—is using public funds to buy arms in their effort to overthrow the government, I am not really afraid, for communism is today is really more an idea than a possibility.

Because the idea of an armed revolution and a resulting classless society has become impossible in our globalized, highly capitalized world—and I am sure Teddy and his comrades, deep in their hearts, know this—social justice, human dignity, and nationalism can be better advanced in nonviolent ways, and which this young man I am sure will do in the Senate as he has done in the Lower House.

Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel (Akbayan)

She has fought, in a very fashionable manner, for agrarian reform, environmental protection, universal health care, and good governance. She is one of the prominent figures behind the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, which she co-authored during her stint in congress. I also appreciate her candor in supporting the legalization of divorce, which I really hope would happen soon so couples can stop circumventing annulment, a measure more expensive and painful.

Edward Hagedorn (Independent)

It’s time the nation benefits from the gifts of Edward Hagedorn who has transformed Puerto Princesa into the top destination and eco-tourism model that it is today.

Over the past two decades, this Erap kaloka-like has proven to be one of the more progressive local leaders in the country. His leadership dictum, which is directed towards striking a harmony between the environment and development, is worth reflecting into pieces of legislation to be abided by other local government units.

Juan Edgardo Angara (LDP)

I appreciate the good work he does on educational reform and job generation as chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.

If he maintains his independent-mindedness and keeps his integrity—much of which he owes to his father though he has proven his own worth over the years—intact , he could be one of the better senators of our time.


Jamby Madrigal (Liberal)

I worked for Jamby for two years shortly after I graduated from college.  I initially had doubts about voting for her on account of trivial things I have come to know, but, after thorough discernment, I decided to include her on my list in recognition of her work ethic, passion for reform, and her advocacies for the welfare of women and children.

She works hard, works fast, and stands courageously for her convictions. And I am glad she now offers herself as Jamby, no longer as a Judy Ann Santos twin sister.

Grace Poe-Llamanzares (Independent)

In 2004, I voted for FPJ who, we now know, was rightfully elected by our people as president of the Republic, but was robbed of his victory by former fake president and now-prisoner Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

I must admit po, I will vote po for this very respectful lady because it is really the least we can do po to give FPJ what he rightfully deserves po. It also helped that Ms. Poe’s stint at MTRCB was refreshing. Under her leadership, the agency has professionally performed its primary role of upholding the state’s values—as reflected in movies and television—without sounding moralistic in a Manoling Morato or La Guardia kind of way.

Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. (Liberal)

This is not because some middle-aged, chinky eyed actor known as Ser Chief has endorsed him.

Jun Magsaysay’s  track record in the Senate (1995-2007) was marked with integrity, diligence and competence in serving the public interest.

Particularly commendable was his firm determination to uncover, document, and recommend the prosecution of accountable public officials in the nefarious P750 million fertilizer fund scam under the Arroyo government.

Son of the president known as a “Man of the Masses,” he supported legislated substantial salary increases and increased support for Filipino farmers. “Those who have less in life must have more in law,” said the father. I am glad the son has taken this to heart.

Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas)

The guy really wants to serve (he lost his bid for the presidency not once, but twice) and he really seems more upright than most sitting senators. While I am not against religious leaders running for public office, I hope that this former activist, former atheist, former academic, currently evangelist would not shove his religion down my throat.

Bam Aquino (Liberal)

I must admit, I had a hard time deciding on this one. I am not a fan of political dynasties, and having a President’s cousin elected in the Senate may, to some extent, compromise the independence of the Upper Chamber.

But I decided to vote for this guy anyway because he has proven that he is an outstanding, well-meaning young person who happens to be an Aquino. The way he expresses his stand on issues is dignified and clear. It will be refreshing to see him in a Senate that is also home to the likes of Lito “Ben Tumbling” Lapid, Bong “Alyas Pogi” Revilla, and, soon, God bless the Philippines, Nancy Binay.   ##