Seafarer’s son tops CFAT, takes up nursing

Ananda and her first school notebook
Ananda and her first school notebook...
First song in school
with her classmates singing their first song in school...
with her first teacher
with her first teacher...
Ananda with Tito Herdy, her biggest fan.
...and Tito Herdy, her biggest fan.

(I am tempted to write about my grandniece Ananda’s very first day in school but the euphoria of seeing our beloved baby begin her educational sojourn is yet to subside, and I lack coherence when I feel euphoric, so I will do that in another column. For now I will share with you the story of a lad who leads the new batch of freshmen in the region’s finest higher education institution.)

DANE MIKHAEL S. Calica, eldest child of a sea-based Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), topped this year’s College Freshman Admission Test (CFAT) taken by almost 5,000 high school graduates seeking admission to the Mariano Marcos State University. His father Gary, who was in Spain when Calica finished high school, began working as a seafarer in 1992, the same year Calica was born. His mother Marilec is a full-time mom. Continue reading “Seafarer’s son tops CFAT, takes up nursing”

Most Meaningful Christmas Greeting

My Uncle Erning, an Iglesia ni Cristo diakono, visited our home today. Conscious about being sensitive to the religious beliefs of others, I would usually say ‘Happy Holidays’–a greeting more safe. (For those who don’t know yet, INCs don’t celebrate Christmas.)

But when I kissed Uncle Erning’s hand, he smiled at me and greeted me with a voice most joyful and sincere: Merry Christmas, Anak.

So there. The warmest Christmas greeting I received came from a man who does not even believe in Christmas. Most INC members I know are very fiery in the expression of their beliefs. But there he was, my Uncle Erning, realizing that it was not about himself, but about our family’s happiness.

He greeted me… and it was not cliché.

Christmas accomplished.

Mom’s reaction

My mother’s reaction: You were very disrespectful to the bishops. You should respect them because they have sacrificed their lives. I am not going to buy any copy of the Ilocos Times anymore.

Herdy’s Riknakem: 1) I don’t think I was disrespectful. I was just offering honest observations; 2) Bishops live very comfortable lives. But yes, everybody has a cross to bear; 3) Thank you for bearing with me; 4) Okay, Mom, if you don’t feel like buying a copy, you can check the online version instead.

Love sealed on a balikbayan box

“Roughly speaking, one loves not because one wants gifts, but because one wants their meaning.”

-Niklas Luhmann

PARALLEL to something big happening in Manila, the MMSU Graduate School organized recently a Research Forum on Migration and Development where this columnist was invited to speak.

There I presented a paper I co-authored with my ‘partner for all seasons’ Marjorie Pascual Garcia, also of MMSU, and Vangie Novero Blust of Green Mountain College, Vermont, USA. Bearing the title “Influences of Transnational Labor Migration on Ilocano College Students’ Consumption Behaviors, Value Retention, and Social Relationships”, the paper studied in detail the cases of fifteen college students whose parents are working overseas.

Allow me to share with you some insights from our work:

Migration is across all social classes. While it is true that poverty is the main reason for work overseas, many Filipinos go abroad for some other reasons (including whims and caprices). Note that most of the participants did not consider themselves economically poor when their parents were still home.

For one, no participant confessed to experiencing hunger in their pre-migration lives. When their parents went abroad, the increase in food was more on the variety, not on the quantity. One student puts it:

Nagbalin a sab-sabali tay ordinaryo ken inaldaw-aldaw a kankanenmi aglalo no agpao-it ni Mama ti door-to-door. (Our everyday fare became different, especially when we would receive our door-to-door package.)

Also, most of the participants now find themselves frequenting fast-food chains, which connotes deviation from Ilocano foodways. Continue reading “Love sealed on a balikbayan box”

Uncle Gerry Writes

[I ONCE WROTE a piece on Ferdinand Marcos and mentioned there my dear Uncle Gerry (Labayog), an anti-Marcos activist who later on became, and ironically so, a Marcos Loyalist. Here are excerpts from my favorite uncle’s email who has embraced Hawaii as his second home for almost two decades now.]

First of all, I want to tell you, I’m very proud of you. You have awakened the sleeping conscience of a lot of Filipinos.

I like your article about Marcos who, for me, is our country’s greatest President. When he assumed office, he inherited (from his predecessor Diosdado Macapagal) sixteen billion dollars of debt. When he left office in 1986, the loan was twenty-six billion. But, look at his accomplishments.

When I was a kid (Macapagal was still president), your Lola Amby used to take me with her to Dingras, Marcos, and Banna to barter canned goods with rice, fish, and vegetables. Those towns hardly had any electricity. The barrios didn’t have any. In the morning, kasla adda naibrush nga uring (it was as if charcoal had been brushed) just below our nostrils after inhaling the smoke of the kerosene lamp all night. Marcos initiated electrification from Batanes to Julu.

Also, your Uncle Fred used to take me with him to Bangui during their Fiesta celebration to sell RTW’s. We would leave at 5:00 a.m. and would reach Bangui at 3:00 p.m. The roads were so rough. Now, thanks to Marcos, you can be there in one hour or less. When Imelda was governor of Metro Manila, the nation’s capital was very clean. Flooding was minimized. The Marcoses built, among many others, landmark infrastructures such as the LRT, San Juanico Bridge, CCP, PICC, etc. During their regime, Philippine Heart-Lung-Kidney Centers were built. Now, the funds for these hospitals are corrupted.

For the agricultural sector, Marcos, in his early term, launched the Masagana 99. That is, to produce 99 cavans of rice per hectare of agricultural land. It was successful. We even exported rice to other ASEAN countries during his term. For her part, Imelda launched the Green Revolution. Planted in every backyard, vegetables were in abundance.

Under Macapagal, the illegal numbers game Jueteng was all over the Philippines. When Marcos assumed office in 1966, the very next day after he was sworn into office, Jueteng was no longer around. Whether we agree or not, Jueteng has corrupted a lot of politicians (including you-know-who). When Cory was installed as president (not by election), the very next day, Jueteng was around every corner.

When I was detained in 1972 (martial law), one Philippine Constabulary soldier hit me on the nape (pateltel). Of course, Marcos had nothing to do with it. It was the lack of discipline of those soldiers under Fidel Ramos that resulted to those tortures, but it was Marcos they blamed.

Why was Martial Law declared? There was already a threat. They blamed Marcos for the Plaza Miranda bombing where the opposing senatorial candidates were having their Miting de Avance. Until now, they insist that Marcos did it even after Victor Corpuz revealed that it was the plot of the New People’s Army to discredit Marcos.

They also said that he ordered the killing of Ninoy. But none among Cory, Ramos, or Arroyo have proven it, despite all their powers. I suspect that the killing was the work of somebody more powerful to prevent the Philippines from being under communist ideology which Ninoy evidently supported.

They say that Ninoy restored democracy. What democracy? From Cory to Arayko, ay, Arroyo, the country has been known as a topnotcher when it comes to corruption.

I used to say, if I could have 250,000 dollars, I would return and invest in the Philippines. I’ll put half of it in the bank and the interest alone will provide for my everyday needs. My money will work for me. Maybe I could do it now; I just have to sell the house that we purchased 6 years ago.

But, I have completely changed my mind. With the endemic corruption and the I-don’t-care attitude of people in government, the money that I would bring home to work for me might just go down the drain the next day after I come home to my beloved Philippines.

‘Til then, Herdy. Ingat. God bless our country.