P-Noy mentions Laoag twice in SONA but has never visited Ilocos Norte as president

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Then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino in Laoag City, 2010
Then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino in Laoag City, 2010

NOT ONCE but twice. President B.S. Aquino mentioned Laoag City two times in his State of the Nation Address on July 28 at the Batasan in Quezon City.
First is when he announced that NEDA (which, incidentally, is headed by an Ilocos Norte native and MMSU alumnus—Sec. Arsenio Balisacan) has approved the Laoag City bypass road; second when he illustrated the extent of national highways his administration has built: it can connect the cities of Laoag and Zamboanga four times, he said.

It is quite refreshing to note that Laoag City bears an imprint in the President’s consciousness, yet he has never come here since he became president. I am not sure why, but it could be two things: maybe he thinks Ilocos is hostile ground for him or, in reality, he doesn’t really care enough about this part of his kingdom. To her credit, Governor Imee Marcos has always spoken well about P-Noy, and would share stories about their experiences in congress—they being together in the opposition during the time of Gloria Arroyo.

P-Noy did come to Ilocos though when he needed our votes, and while he did not rank first in the polls here, with Joseph Estrada and Manny Villar besting him, it was not bad. Compared to her late mother who got zero in a number of precincts in the 1986 snap elections, P-Noy got from Ilocanos a good number of votes, and that included mine and, I guess, most of my colleagues in The Ilocos Times who bought his anti-corruption tack: Mitch Esmino, Steve Barreiro, and Jun-B Ramos.

Not only did I vote for P-Noy; I wore yellow for almost two months preceding the 2010 presidential elections. But I have not worn those shirts in a long while. It is odd that he mentioned Laoag twice regarding roads which connect us to the rest of the country while he has seemingly disconnected himself from us since we became part of the body he collectively calls “Boss.”

I may be P-Noy’s boss, but Nora Aunor is my idol. As a Noranian, I was deeply hurt when the country’s one and only Superstar was rejected by Malacañang as national artist. I hope it had nothing to do with Ate Guy’s glorious Ilocos Norte visit and her being declared as honorary daughter. Only a paranoid drug addict would do that.

Continue reading “P-Noy mentions Laoag twice in SONA but has never visited Ilocos Norte as president”

‘Naimas nga agserbi’

riknakem.jpgNear midnight of Oct. 28, my Uncle Gerry in Hawaii posted a lengthy note at the Labayog Clan Facebook page. There was good news for the clan. (For the curious, yes, Labayog is the La in La Yumul.) My brother was elected as chairman of Brgy. 7-A, Laoag City where his family has lived for around 25 years. I reside in nearby Brgy. 5. The following is Uncle Gerry’s post quoted verbatim.

“Wow! Again, the Labayog Clan made history. Herry Labayog Yumul is elected as kapitan.

“If you are a Laoagueño, West Riverside is like a municipality within a city. It covers Barangays 1 to 10. Barangay 7-A is like its capital, being the center of the densely populated West Riverside.”

“Herry, who has the heart of a leader, deserves the position. When I attended his graduation in Baguio City, I already saw in him the makings of a leader. When his name was called, there was a thunderous applause and standing ovation. He even captured the heart of the most beautiful co-civil engineering graduate and now his wife Gina. Sabi nga nila, may inalat si Herry.

“He practiced briefly in construction supervision. But his salary was not enough to raise a family. With 3 children to feed and send to school, his salary was not enough so he ventured in business. As a market vendor, the hundreds of vendors in Ilocos Norte were amazed of his character and personality and elected him as president of the Ilocos Norte Ambulant Vendors Association. He had represented them in dialogue with government officials for a system beneficial to both sides. He is currently president of the Laoag City Night Market Vendors Association.

“In 2010, he ran as a barangay official, and was overwhelmingly elected. In this election, the outgoing Brgy. Captain made Herry his personal choice to lead 7-A. Even high-ranking provincial and city officials gave him their blessings. Thankfully, he was also endorsed by the Iglesia ni Cristo.

“In his campaign sorties, members of the Labayog clan extended their all-out support. They were with him everywhere, rain or shine. The Pink Ladies—composed of Mafae, Mafel, and Girlie (Herry’s nephews)—were even Branded as EBB or Eat Bulaga Babes. I call them Herry’s Angels.

“I laughed at one of their campaign slogans. ‘Ibotos tayo a Kapitan ni Tito Herry, naimas nga agserbi’ (Iboto natin si Tito Herry, masarap siyang magsilbi.) And they follow it up with, ‘Uray damagenyo ken Tita Gina.’ (Kahit tanungin niyo pa kay Tita Gina.) Dinamagko ken Gina, kasta unay ti katkatawana. (Nung tinanong kay Gina, sobrang tawa niya.) Continue reading “‘Naimas nga agserbi’”

Two tips on how to plagiarize and (try to) get away with it

As a teacher and writer, one of my biggest pet peeves is plagiarism. Good thing I don’t teach in Iskul Bukol and I am too young to be teacher of Tito Sotto, Eat Bulaga host and Philippine senator, who offers the following advice on how to copy the work of others and not feel bad about it even when caught.

Tip # 1. Insult the person you copied your work from:

“Why would I quote from a blogger? She is just a blogger.”

Tip # 2. Translate somebody’s work, word for word, paragraph by paragraph, into another language and claim that it is no longer plagiarism.

Plagiarism? “Impossible. It’s a good thought and better in Tagalog.”

and, oh, there’s one more:

Tip # 3. Get a really imaginative Chief of Staff like Hector Villacorta who would say:

“Copying is a common practice. The Bible reached us today because the monks copied from the Greeks. Everything really started from a little copying.”

And, drumroll please…

“Even our image was copied from God. We are all plagiarists.”

From the Filipino Freethinkers Facebook page

I can imagine Sotto saying, “Why would I quote from Robert Kennedy? He is just Robert Kennedy.”

UPDATE: Finally, if all these fail, pass a law criminalizing libel in the Internet, and send to jail all your cyber bashers.

Our Ilocos, Our Time: The new Ilocos Times

Thank God, the Mayans were wrong after all. It is August 2012 as I write this, and the world has not come to an end. At least, not yet.

And we here at The Ilocos Times are taking this golden opportunity for a renaissance of sorts. Let’s admit it, while the paper, oldest in this part of the universe, remains the most legitimate paper here, much of what it could, much of what it should be remains unrealized. And it cannot but keep up with the changing times, lest the Mayans be proven right, at least in the case of The Ilocos Times.

Newspapers aroud the world are in peril of extinction in this age of Internet and digital boom. Print circulation has suffered as demand for news in real time has forever changed the media landscape. Note that the paper’s ilocostimes.com, which debuted in 2000, was one of the country’s first websites offering local news. The website brought a lot of joy to Ilocanos, especially to those who are in Diaspora beset by homesickness.

Somewhere along the way, however, the website faltered, with uploads coming in as sporadic and unpredictable as menopause. Also, in the past half decade, only the paper’s pdf file was being uploaded. Readers would frequently visit the site only to find an outdated issue still posted, and new ones waiting to be uploaded no one knows when.

On the first day of Christmas in the Philippines, September 1, all these will change, hopefully. The new ilocostimes.net (take note, dear karikna, it is .net now replacing .com) will serve Ilocanos in better and bigger ways. Expect breaking news, more interesting features, and even more incisive editorials and opinion. Also, the website is linked up with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter which will allow readers, not only to access, but share information as well. The Ilocos Times Facebook page, which took off barely three weeks ago, now has a weekly reach of over 10,000 netizens. So, it’s Ilocos Sometimes no more, but Ilocos now, Ilocos always, Ilocos all-the-time with the new website.

But it’s not all technology, dear karikna, the paper’s biggest asset remains its rich human resource. Continue reading “Our Ilocos, Our Time: The new Ilocos Times”

MLQ3 to meet Ilocos Norte bloggers

Manuel L. Quezon III

Malacañang Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, grandson of the Commonwealth president, is coming to the province on May 4 for a couple of engagements. Himself a blogger, he wishes to meet Ilocos Norte bloggers in the afternoon. I am helping his staff identify participants, and I have so far listed twelve, aside from myself.

  1. Tina Tan – blauearth.com
  2. Edwin Antonio – ilocandiatreasures.com
  3. Ericke Tan – surprisinglykitsch.com
  4. Shermon Cruz – ilocosfutures.wordpress.com
  5. Guien Garma – guiengarma.wordpress.com
  6. Marianne Pasion – maryaneeephotography.blogspot.com
  7. Tricia Domingo – triciadomingo.blogspot.com
  8. Sherene Ruiz – mylifeneverbeeneasy.blogspot.com
  9. GD Baltazar – iamthesupergd.wordpress.com
  10. Jonas Paul dela Cruz – simplejonas.wordpress.com
  11. Peter La Julian – pedroblogspotcom-peter.blogspot.com
  12. Ritchelle Blanco Dejolde – resurrectingtheilocanospirit.wordpress.com

I have met Manolo Quezon on several occasions, especially when I was still teaching at Colegio de San Juan de Letran, the alma mater of his illustrious lolo. At the Intramuros school, the Quezon family always graces the August birthday celebration of the Ama ng Wikang Pambansa. I am a fan of The Explainer, his television show where issues are discussed with great detail and insight. Also, he is supportive of the Philippine Blog Awards where I have been a national finalist three years in a row in the society, politics, and history category. I really look forward to May 4.

This is the first time bloggers here are coming together, and I am thinking of finally initiating the Ilocos Norte Bloggers Commune. In other parts of the country, bloggers have long organized their respective societies which allow them to initiate activities and write for common causes and advocacies. Now is time to do it here.

Do you know of any other serious blogger who might be interested to join the activity?

“Uleg”

In the interest of fairness, dear karikna, I talked to Mrs. Elizabeth Madarang Raquel, former president of Gumil Filipinas, regarding the ‘Stupid Quezon’ controversy that has haunted concerned parties in the past two years.

To the uninitiated, just some background. Headlined “University of Hawaii prof calls Quezon stupid,” the news article was about Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili who, in good cheer, 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 a nineteenth-century measure that led to the decline of Philippine languages other than Tagalog. The news article said many participants, including teachers and students, were offended by the remark.

Raquel admitted that it was indeed she who wrote and contributed the news article bylined Mark R. Limon, published in the July 27-August 22 2009 issue of The Ilocos Times. She vehemently denied, however, that Limon did not have knowledge the article bore his name. “How can he not know?,” Raquel asked rhetorically in Ilocano, “he used to help me encode my articles, and he typed and emailed that particular article.” Limon, in an earlier interview, told your karikna that his former supervisor indeed used him as encoder but that he was informed of the news article’s byline only after it was published. Confessing to be an avid reader of this column, Raquel said she was hurt by my recent article, “The Lie of Eli.”

But did Limon really allow Raquel to use him as dummy? Definitely, according to Raquel, “Kinayatna met ta kayatna met ti agpopular.” (He agreed because he also wanted to be popular.) She described his former protégé as “ambisioso.” Continue reading ““Uleg””

Hear! Shame!

OKAY, I AM swamped with a lot of work this week so I do not have much time to write the usual full-blown essay.  Allow me though to share tidbits of my rikna and nakem in previous days. Under “Hear! Hear!” are things that made me smile, events that firmed up my belief in the future of our nation and of humanity at large. “Shame! Shame!” are those which furthered my hair loss and, consequently, the widening of my shining and shimmering forehead.

*****

Hear! Hear! Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo saying, in reply to a question I asked during a presson, that he is strongly for the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan council, which I consider as a sticky phlegm on the nation’s throat .

Shame! Shame! I think his position is compromised as he is only for the abolition of SK Kagawads, not of SK Chairmen. While he also proposed that the age requirement be raised, e.g. 25, this does not respond to the problems of corruption, nepotism, ineptitude, and everything trapo that has hounded the political structure.

*****

Hear! Hear! Secretary Jesse Robredo sounding sincere in his efforts to bring integrity in governance.

Shame! Shame! Robredo sounding weak to me. I doubt if he can really handle the big-bellied spoiled brats in local governments and among the ranks of the police. His realm is no longer just the fine city of Naga, but crazy Philippines.   I honestly feel that he will not last another year in the DILG post. Continue reading “Hear! Shame!”

Media Abuse

JOURNALIST TELLS the truth.  Powers-that-be get furious.  Powers-that-be hire assassins.  Journalist is murdered.  Public outrage follows.

One hopes, dear karikna, that the sequence is always as simple when a member of the media falls, but, sadly, there are complications.

One is tempted to say that media is to be blamed, too, for making the Philippines one of the top three most dangerous countries for journalists in the world (along with Iraq and Somalia), and Ilocos Norte a killing field for members of the Fourth Estate.  Corruption, impropriety, and unprofessional behavior cloud the practice of journalism here and in other parts.

Ergo, the death of a journalist is not always an attack against the truth.  It could also be a screaming statement against lies, spins, and half-truths, which are even more dangerous than lies.  A media worker wields tremendous power, which, if used irresponsibly, could backfire, and with fatal results.

There is no justifying though the ruthless killings of journalists which, from 1986, now number 137, 104 of which transpired under the Arroyo regime.  Not even the shadiest journalist deserves to be at the mercy of an assassin.  We have very strong libel laws to punish a malicious blabbermouth, and to redeem the dignity of an aggravated fellow.  In a supposedly civilized, democratic society such as ours, there is just no room for motorcycle-riding, gun-firing cowards.

The rampage should stop even as the truth must always be pursued.  This is not always easy because the world hates those who speak of inconvenient truths.  Socrates, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Jose Rizal, media men and women who did their craft with untainted integrity, and other martyrs of freedom and democracy know this very well.  However, when a journalist goes overboard, commits abuses, and gets killed because of it, it is not heroism, it is self-destruction. Continue reading “Media Abuse”

Thank you, Ramos Family

THE ILOCOS TIMES turns half a century plus two years in the service of the Ilocano, and it is fitting that we thank the family behind the institution.

While this paper is a family business, I don’t think its continuous operation is driven by profit.  Community newspapers are not known as big earners.  Truth to tell, many local newspapers in different provinces have folded up into oblivion on account of financial woes.  In Ilocos Norte alone, a couple of weeklies have come and gone, and only The Ilocos Times remains legitimate and strong.

Members of the Ramos Family, I’m sure, make sacrifices to let this paper thrive.  I assume there are issues when advertisements do not suffice to cover the cost of printing, even as the paper is sold at only seven pesos a copy, one of the cheapest in the Milky Way galaxy. Continue reading “Thank you, Ramos Family”

Brilliant Agca, ‘Stupid’ Quezon

BY ALL YARDSTICKS, Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili is a brilliant man.

Prior to his joining University of Hawaii, he held tenured appointment at the University of the Philippines Diliman.  He is a creative writer and social researcher who has reaped coveted awards.  Above all, he is a well-meaning iconoclast.

Last July, Dr. Agcaoili was one of the presenters in the first Mother Language Education (MLE) forum in Ilocos.  On that same occasion, the Nakem Conferences also launched Sukimat: Researches on Ilokano and Amianan Studies, a publication he co-edited with two MMSU professors.

I am quite a big fan of the man known by many as “Agca”.  In fact, after the MLE forum, I requested him to autograph my copy of Dangadang, his award-winning novel.  My admiration for the man’s writing prowess is matched by my adulation for his ideas.  His courage and candor are awe-inspiring.

The other week, however, Agca shocked me with his Letter to the Editor published in The Ilocos Times.  Continue reading “Brilliant Agca, ‘Stupid’ Quezon”

Preparing the thumb for the stains of politics

One of the letters I received was from William S. of California USA.  His letter merits attention, because he suggests I write about something he finds important.

Part of his letter reads:

“I am one of your avid readers in the Ilocos Times Online.  Based in the west coast USA, I make sure I read your column on a daily basis during my free time at work. It is a matter of principle that we really need to give you due recognition for providing enlightening information on the various social issues in the provincial and national levels. The issues you tackle span the judicial system, social economic system, political system and educational system. I admire some of your articles when it bites the “status quo” of those people in power, whether in elective or appointive positions, who are holding and discharging their duties for their own and circle-of-friends’ benefits. I also came to believe that the Ilocos Region seems to be the “Wild-Wild-North” of the entire archipelago since it is all the same since I left to this date. The conflict resolution in the political arena undermines the rule of law.

“The reason for this email is to suggest that we educate the local voters for the upcoming 2010 local and national elections. I was wondering if you could mention in your column how to value their votes for the right candidates in the upcoming election. There has to be a way to gauge budding political figures versus those who would like to perpetuate the political family dynasty. The electorate has to realize that there is always an alternative, a fresh start and new faces to select from instead of the “traditional.” There is always a political process to use if we elect the person who does not meet the people’s expectation. We also need to address those folks in the rural areas to stay home during election day if they are not aware of the issues affecting them and if they do not know the political agenda of the candidates. We need to emphasize to the rural folks and others that a few cans of sardines and a couple kilograms of rice should not subvert the voice of the people during elections.”

Continue reading “Preparing the thumb for the stains of politics”

T.Y.

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FOLLOWING last week’s column, a good number of readers wrote your karikna to greet “Happy First Anniversary,” and to express their appreciation for this space.  Most of these well-wishers come from the silent majority of our readers, who suddenly decided to make their presence felt.  I was overwhelmed, not only because of their number, but more because of their generous words.

It’s really heartwarming when people you don’t know suddenly come forward to say “thank you” for things you never realized you have done.  I expect to have helped readers form their stands on issues, but I was surprised when Filipinos abroad consider my articles an antidote to homesickness, or when young people say the column has inspired them to pursue their meaningful passions in life, such as the case of Vincent, who shares that reading one of my articles moved him to take up a course in the arts, his true love, although his folks and peers pressure him into taking up nursing.

For his part, Jun-b, our Editor in Chief, sent me a text message that read, “Happy anniv to your good column, more power!  I think we should celebrate it one of these days when you’re free, my treat.”

I was touched by the message, and here’s why.  In the last fifty five weeks, our weekly exchanges would be:

“Have you sent your Riknakem already?”

“I will send later”

“Ok.”

“I have sent already. Thanks.”

“Ok.”

So, thank you, dear readers, for helping me usher this column into its second year and beyond.  It’s a sunny Friday morning as I write this, and Jun-b texted me three hours ago, “Have you sent your article already?”

Back to normal then.  Back to work, karikna.

Happy 1st anniv, karikna!

AROUND this time last year, you and I gave birth to this humble column.

While I was not exactly new to writing—having previously published my works in newspapers, books, and websites—the thrill of composing an article on a weekly basis was unparalleled.

Among all the columns written by local journalists, Riknakem has appeared most frequently and most consistently in The Ilocos Times. In the past one year, I failed to pass my weekly article but once.

I still wonder how I do it. Teaching, we all know, is a very demanding job. In addition, I also work at the media office of MMSU, carry out research projects, and serve other publications either as writer or consultant.

Of course, it is not without sacrifices. There have been many times of whole nights spent out of bed, and vacations spent in front of the computer. Having this column also meant less time for my bicycling, which I used to do during my free time.

There are times when I am tempted to miss a column, but my friend Ianree Raquel always reminds me of my responsibility to readers, and I oblige.

But, no, I am not complaining. I have never looked at writing as a burden. Continue reading “Happy 1st anniv, karikna!”

Cory’s gift and Steve’s burden

ICON. HERO. SAINT. Every possible tribute has been paid to Corazon Aquino, now touted, and rightfully so, as the most loved Filipino of all time.

Still, allow me to give mine. After all, I have always been a Cory fan long before today, when it has become fashionable to be one. Dennis Estacio, my grade school seatmate at the old Divine Word College of Laoag, would attest to this. To the consternation of our teachers whose lectures we occasionally disrupted, albeit unintentionally, Dennis and I, then only in Grade 1, often had impassioned debates on politics. As with almost all Ilocanos, Dennis was maka-Marcos. I was maka-Cory.

In 1986, I accompanied my dad to the voting booth, and bent his hand into voting for Cory. That was the second best thing to voting for her, which I could not do yet because I was just seven. The teachers did not mind that I accompanied my dad. To them, I was just a child. Continue reading “Cory’s gift and Steve’s burden”

Of strangers and family

KNOWN WRITER Mitch Albom posits that “strangers are family just waiting to be known”. My biggest push and best reward in writing this column is the opportunity to meet more of my family.

For instance, I now have new relatives in Texas. “Auntie” Tess (Perez) of Houston writes: Your recent feature “Provincial Bliss” really touched my heart. My husband (Orly) and I have been living in US and Canada for the last 32 years now, but there’s always that yearning of coming home. We came for a visit 2 years ago, and decided that Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte is going to be our next home. We came originally from San Fernando, La Union, but Pagudpud reminds us so much of our childhood environment, and I can’t wait to come home to the “Province”. My husband and I are products of DMMSU of La Union (formerly LUSAT). We are flattered that we already gained a “nephew” in Laoag. We’re very hopeful that we will meet you someday. Meanwhile, I will be very eager to read your weekly column.

Herdy’s rikna ken nakem: I learned that although Uncle Orly and Auntie Tess’ plans for retirement won’t happen in the next five years or more, they are already helping their future community. They allowed part of their newly-purchased land in Ayoyo, Pagudpud to be used as a community fishpond. This is in close coordination with the barangay chairman. In addition, they are supporting YCAP volunteers assigned in the barangay.

Sensing that the couple prefers to work silently and without fanfare in “giving back” to their adoptive community, I am crossing my fingers that they won’t mind my mentioning in this space their noble efforts. I just want you, dear readers, to feel inspired by their generosity of soul in the same way I was moved. Thrilled I always am to hear of folks who, blessed enough, are drawn to pay it forward… people who do good for goodness’ sake, unlike politicians. Their act—a modern-day, borderless bayanihan—exemplifies the best traits of the human spirit. Mabuhay!

The Ilocos Times

A member of the Philiippine Press Institute, The Ilocos Times is the longest running community newspaper edited and published in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines over the past 46 years.

The paper was founded in 1920 although it came out irregularly until 1957 when it became a weekly with 90% English and 10% Iluko, the vernacular of Northern Luzon, Philippines.
The Ilocos Publishing Corporation, a family-owned entity having its own commercial printing facilities, publishes the paper.

The Website Edition (http://www.ilocostimes.com/) was constructed on October 2000 primarily aimed at catering to the local news and information needs of Ilocos Norte natives and other Ilocanos living abroad.