Tina, Helen, Christian, and Mary

FOUR human beings pervade my consciousness these days, and they happen to be all mothers.

First is Tina Tan, whose recent appointment as Tourism Officer of Ilocos Norte made me so happy, I almost had permanent cramps on my facial muscles due to oversmiling.  Thanks to Manang Imee for getting only the best and the brightest to work in the bureaucracy.

I can name many a reason why Tina is best fit for the job, but I will limit my list to only three due to lack of space.

First, she loves Nature, being highly involved in ecotourism and environmental protection groups.  And she goes beyond lip service.  My students she led in a mangrove cleanup in Pasuquin would attest.

Secondly, I think Tina has reached a point in her life when acquiring material possessions is no longer the order of the day, as she and her husband are a highly accomplished business team.  I am not saying the rich don’t steal–the case of Manny “Dagat ng Basura” Villar belies this–but I think Tina is so accomplished in her life (finances, family, romance) that she really just wants to contribute something good to the community. I can vouch for Tina’s integrity.  I dare predict she will not be corrupt.  Her son Eugene, a very unassuming and respectful boy, is my student at MMSU.  Eugene shows how successful Tina is in her most important role–as mother.

Third, and most importantly, Tina Tan is most fit for to be tourism officer of this beautiful province because she is a woman who knows how to celebrate life in ways big and small.  From food served in A-restaurants to dirty ice cream and ice scramble sold in the streets, from high fashion to indigenous stuff in the mountains of Adams, from Kings and princes to paupers like me—Tina Tan finds something interesting she is generous and vivacious and childlike enough to share to the world.

How do I know a lot about her?  I am a fan of her Blauearth blog which I have previously featured in this space, and this forces me to name a fourth reason, although I only promised three.  Tina Tan sends the message across clear and perky enough to attract men and women from everywhere to go pack their bags and explore Ilocoslovakia.

Way to go, Tina!

Continue reading “Tina, Helen, Christian, and Mary”

Nang pitong araw na hindi nag-smile ang araw

NAMISS natin sobra ang maliwanag na sinag ng haring araw.  Kung dati ay panay ang reklamo natin dahil sa init ng panahon, ngayo’y ating napagtanto na di hamak na mas mahirap ang basang-basa at madilim na buhay.

 Nakalulunos ang pinsalang idinulot nina Ondoy, Pepeng, at ang pampagulong si Quedan.  Ilang buhay ang nasawi, mga bahay na nagiba, ari-ariang tinangay ng agos, at mga kinabukasang nawala na parang bula.

 Gayunpaman, ang trahedyang ito ay patunay na naman ng pagkamasiyahin ng Pinoy, ng ating kakayanang bumangon mula sa anumang pagkakalugmok, ng ating magaan na disposisyon sa buhay. Napangingiti na lamang ako kapag nakikita ko ang mga biktima ng mga pagbaha na panay pa ang pagkaway at pakyut sa likod ng mga reporter sa telebisyon.

 Marami akong mga kaibigan sa NCR na labis na naapektuhan ni Ondoy. Habang naglilinis sa kung anuman ang natira sa kanilang mga putikang bahay ay panay pa ang hagikhikan. Itong si Dennis, ang kaibigan kong nasa Amerika, bagama’t nalulungkot at sinira ni Ondoy ang kanilang bahay, kagamitan, at pati na rin ang bahagi ng kanilang kabuhayan sa Cainta, ay labis ang pagpapasalamat at wala namang nasawi sa kanyang mga mahal sa buhay. Natatawa siya nang ikuwento sa akin na ayaw pa sanang umalis ng kanyang tatay sa kanilang tahanan bagama’t napakataas na ng baha, subali’t napilitan din itong lumikas nang lumulutang na ang hinihigan niyang kama. Continue reading “Nang pitong araw na hindi nag-smile ang araw”

Honest janitor hailed in world wide web

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I USED TO HAVE a great disdain for government employees. I always imagined them as inept, inefficient, corrupt, and good only in petty gossiping. Your karikna also considered them as insensitive, arrogant and proud, what with clerks acting like the proverbial “langaw na nakatungtong sa kalabaw.”

As fate would have it, however, I myself am now a civil servant, and, providentially, with an agency highly regarded for its exacting standards and well-earned feats. Thus, I now swallow, with little difficulty, some of my words, and acknowledge that there are actually honorable men and women in the service of the Filipino people.

Make no mistake, there are still many rotten tomatoes in the basket, but the refreshing virtue of a few overshadow the stench of many.

Leoncio A. Pagtama, 52, a janitor at the MMSU College of Engineering (CoE), is one of them good fellows, and he is increasingly gaining popularity in cyberspace due to his honest deeds.

Pagtama, who joined MMSU in 1983 as a casual employee, has, on several occasions, returned lost items ranging from wallets containing thousands of pesos to calculators and watches. Continue reading “Honest janitor hailed in world wide web”

Portrait of a writer as Ilocano:A tribute to Sozimo Ma. Pablico (1938-2009)

(Sosimo Ma. Pablico, agriculture columnist of The Ilocos Times, passed away last April 22 at age 70. Survived by his wife Barbie and son Paul Ethelbert, his remains lie in state in San Fernando, La Union.)

I FIRST knew about SMAP (read as ismap, by which he was fondly called) when I was doing research as a graduate student in Sociology. I came across an article he wrote about Ilocano rituals and practices for the dead, which was published in a national daily. Short but instructive, his article was of great help to my study.

When I applied for a teaching post in MMSU, I was excited to meet the man, to tell him how much he has inspired me as a writer and social researcher. Thrilled I was to be assigned to the Social Sciences Department of the College of Arts and Sciences where he belonged, only to find out that he had retired a few years earlier. I had to be content with looking at his face in a group picture (which proudly adorns a wall in our office) with other “pillars” of the department.

Later on, SMAP and I would cross paths, albeit only in the pages of The Ilocos Times where I write an opinion column, and where he was the agriculture columnist. Having no agricultural background, I must admit that I could not fully understand most of his articles. Behind the technical jargon, however, I could sense his intense desire to uplift the life of farmers, and to promote efficient and sustainable farming methods and strategies. In his writings, I felt the energy of a man many decades younger his age. Continue reading “Portrait of a writer as Ilocano:A tribute to Sozimo Ma. Pablico (1938-2009)”

Petty Aquinos

Last Friday, two out of twelve convicts in the Aquin0-Galman double-murder case were released after their sentences were commuted by Malacanang.

My heart has always bled for these men.  Having served as a prison volunteer in the past, I met the news with much happiness and relief.

Whether or not they killed Ninoy is now out of the question.  They have suffered long enough and they have always shown remarkably virtuous behavior under incarceration.  Their kids grew up without a father, their families struggled in pain.

Rolando de Guzman, 0ne of the freed convicts, was already bedridden after suffering from four strokes.  I was teary-eyed while watching videos of him being brought of jail on a stretcher.  Felizardo Taran, the other guy, was likewise sickly.

But Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, speaking on his family’s behalf, condemned the move “in the strongest possible terms”.  He accused President Gloria Arroyo of “petty vindictiveness” for the commutation.  Noynoy contends that it was meant “to increase the hurt” and as “a way to get back” at their family’s anti-administration stance.

It escapes me why Cory Aquino and her kids Continue reading “Petty Aquinos”

Legalize Marijuana

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So, Michael Phelps, that guy who won eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, the most in human history, was caught on photo in an apparent act of smoking pot.

The photo (which I am not posting here out respect for him) was met by mixed reactions of disappointment, dismay, and puzzlement.  For why would a legendary athlete, who has the world on his hands and history on his side, resort to Marijuana?

Michael did not disown the picture and in an admirable fashion atypical of real drug users (like the Philippines’ Alabang Boys), he says: Continue reading “Legalize Marijuana”

Academicians critique priest’s book on Aglipayanism

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FR. ERICSON JOSUE is one of few Catholic priests I admire. Besides being bright and hardworking, he is humble and sensitive. We have known each other since our early teens (when he was still so lanky while I was then too fat), and I have always held him in high regard.

While other priests were busy attending parties, grooming expensive dogs, and constructing an ostentatious swimming pool in the Bishop’s Palace, Ericson had been busy writing books. Only in his early thirties, this son of Pasuquin has already published his second research output. “Out of the Depths”, which came out last December, tackles the phenomenal rise and eventual decline of Aglipayanism.

Well-meaning scholars must be given support and due recognition, and so I encourage my students and friends to read the book, if only to generate intelligent and enlightened discourse, a rarity in the Church (and government) these days.

Here, allow me to share excerpts of an interview conducted by students with Professor Fides Bernardo A. Bitanga, who teaches Sociology of Religion in the Mariano Marcos State University. Bitanga is also the new Editor-in-Chief of Sabangan, a social sciences publication in MMSU.

Continue reading “Academicians critique priest’s book on Aglipayanism”