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”

Riknakem in the year that was

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was visited by 62,000 netizens in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Top 12 Ilocanos of 2012

Some of them are big names while others are relatively unknown but who worked marvelously in the background.

Here, in no particular order, are 2012’s Top 12 Ilocanos meticulously picked by the editorial board of The Ilocos Times, the oldest and largest newspaper in the North.

1. The Samiweng Singers (Conductors: Robert Caluya and Sherberk Cabrales)

The Samiweng Singers
The Samiweng Singers

Based at the Ilocos Norte National High School, this multi-awarded choral group bagged their most prestigious feats to date:  The Gold IV award in the Folklore Category (Open Competition) and Silver Medal in the Musica Sacra Category (Champions Competition) in the 7th World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio—considered the Olympics of choral competitions.

Samiweng’s sister group, The Laoag City Children’s Choir, also emerged back to back Grand Champion (2011 and 2012) in the MBC Choral Competitions.

More than the awards, however, it is the inspiration they give Ilocanos that really counted. Samiweng has generously shared their collective talent in various events and venues, each time triggering goosebumps and eliciting thunderous applause.

2. Governor Imee Marcos

imee marcos3
Gov. Imee Marcos

With a hands-on governor whose dynamism shows in her comprehensive programs, most notably in agriculture, trade and commerce, and tourism, Ilocos Norte today is one of the best performing provinces in the country. Her initiatives in education keep the province on track with the Millenium Development Goals. Also, Ilocanos shined this year in both sports and cultural events. Her constituents’ morale is high, and there is wide approval on the transforming  Ilocos Norte landscape.

3. Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas

Cong. Rudy Farinas
Cong. Rudy Farinas

His highly logical, highly entertaining “Palusot” Summation Speech was highly credited, and not only by Senator Lito Lapid, as a defining moment in the May 29 impeachment conviction of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

As deputy chair of the House Committee on Justice, his legal luster and gift of gab were also pivotal in the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez who resigned last year before her trial could begin.

Corona’s conviction and Guttierez’s impeachment are firsts in Philippine history.

4. Sec. Arsenio Balisacan 

Sec. Arsenio Balisacan (NEDA)

Both the government and business sectors agree that 2012 was one of the best years ever for the Philippines with economic growth expected to surpass the targeted 5 to 6 percent and the stock market ending the year on a record high. Now the best performing market in Asia, next only to Thailand, the Philippines has an even rosier outlook in 2013 after finally getting investment-grade status, which is expected to draw more foreign investments into the country.

The Aquino administration must be doing something right. But did you know that the country’s economic genius is from Dingras, Ilocos Norte? Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) is an agriculture graduate of Mariano Marcos State University in Batac. After enjoying graduate and postgraduate scholarships in top universities here and abroad, he went to teaching. At the time of his appointment to NEDA, he was dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics.

5. San Nicolas Mayor Alfredo “Boying” Valdez Jr.

Mayor Boying Valdez
Mayor Boying Valdez

Along with his family, he deserves credit for initiating the “mall boom” in the province after he pulled all the stops to bring a big mall here. All of the other competitors soon jumped into the bandwagon with its fiercest rival mall also set to start its groundbreaking for the construction of its mall somewhere in Laoag City. On top of this, the three-term San Nicolas mayor boosted the municipality’s economy from its lower-tier position prior to his first term to now a “technically” first class municipality. In achieving this, the good mayor was given various recognitions by a multitude of organizations among which are the “The Will to Serve” award from the League of Municipalities of the Philippines and by the PCCI for being the most Business Friendly municipality, as well as the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi award.

6. Dr. Mary Ann Yasay-Luis

Dr. Mary Ann Yasay-Luis
Dr. Mary Ann Yasay-Luis

She was proclaimed one of The Outstanding Filipino Physicians (TOFP) for 2012, a search organized by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate Philippines and San Miguel Corporation which aims to honor exemplary medical professionals. With the theme “Serving and caring for our countrymen are the best works of life”, Dr. Luis of Laoag City was chosen for her sterling professional record in the service of her fellow Ilocanos, including indigents, and for shunning temptations of greener pasture abroad.

7. Batac City Mayor Jeffrey Jubal Nalupta and Vice Mayor Ronald Allan Nalupta

Mayor Jeff Nalupta and VM Allan Nalupta
Mayor Jeff Nalupta and VM Allan Nalupta

Though Batac is among the youngest cities in the country, it has already reaped major recognitions that older cities can only aspire for and dream of. Just recently, it was declared champion in the Regional Legislative Awards. It was earlier identified by DILG as one of the Top Ten Best-governed Component Cities in the entire country. Also, it has received the prestigious Seal of Good Housekeeping and the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi in recognition of its good governance matched by an empowered citizenry. Not bad at all for what started as a controversial and questionable city.

8. Pablito Tabucol

Pablito Tabucol
Pablito Tabucol

For over two decades, he has joyfully done developmental work for young men and women of this province. Long before the “Tan-ok” phenomenon came to fashion, the Young Men’s Christian Association –Ilocos Norte Chapter, where he served as program director, had conducted annual cultural and literary festivals that brought forth the ingenious creativity of young Ilocanos. YMCA Ilocos Norte was  also known for its leadership programs.

“Pabs” was appointed this year as National Secretary General of YMCA Philippines. News of his appointment to the prestigious post was met with gladness by many of his former trainees.

9. Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Senator Bongbong Marcos

He was the only legislator from Ilocos Norte who voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Bill, a landmark legislation that languished in Congress for 14 years, mainly because of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church which is against the measure meant to guarantee universal access to methods on contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care.

10. Mary Ann Cua Macaraeg

Ms. Mary Ann Cua-Macaraeg (photo from blauearth.com)
Ms. Mary Ann Cua-Macaraeg (photo from blauearth.com)

Located in five Northern Provinces, her stores carry famous international and national brands, but this lady is not content in simply being a retailer. As CEO of Visionaire, she created her own abel line and founded MODi (Modern Ilocana). There is a dearth of interestingly chic and fab Ilocano merchandise in Ilocos Norte, but given the visionary efforts of local entrepreneurs like Ms. Macaraeg, also president of ILEA (Ilocano Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Association), products we can proudly call our own have high hopes of penetrating bigger markets soon.

With the influx of big businesses in the province, Ms. Macaraeg shows homegrown business folks how to constructively respond to, and not be daunted by, the serious challenges posed by competition. This is her greatest achievement.

11. Ianree Raquel and June Arvin Gudoy

Jun Gudoy and Aian Raquel
Jun Gudoy and Aian Raquel

They give a young and vibrant face to government service. Only in their mid-20’s, this dynamic duo have become trusted lieutenants of Governor Imee Marcos: Raquel in Tourism and artistic events, and Gudoy in public information.

Paoay Kumakaway, which seemed confusing at first, did work. Tourism in Ilocos Norte during the Holy Week was estimated at 680,000, marking a 356-percent leap from last year’s 191,000 over the same period. The labor of Raquel and his hardworking team paid off.

Gudoy shows how a government public information office must be run in our time and age. The Capitol’s Communication and Media Team exhausts all forms of traditional and new media in an effort to get across the “Pasingkedan” message given flesh in the programs of the provincial government, both in times of cheer and disaster.

The Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals has earned rave reviews not only from critics, but, and most importantly from the common Ilocano who, through songs and dances executed with world-class flare and splendor, realized his inherent greatness in the arts and, by induction, in many other fields. Raquel and Gudoy have played important roles in organizing many other events, with  the Himala sa Buhangin held for the first time in May showing the biggest promise.

Last August, news of their resignations (They are young and restless, and maybe exhausted, people thought) caused a stir, but all is well now, and even better.

12. The Mariano Marcos State Universiy Cultural Group (Director: Arsenio Gallego,  Chief:  Ma. Victoria Domingo)


Beating all regions, especially the most vaunted NCR, was beyond their prayers and expectations, but the MMSU-led regional group bagged the overall championship in the 2012 PASUC National Cultural and Literary Olympics held in Manila just two weeks ago. Organized by the Philippine Association of Sate Colleges and Universities, it is the biggest university-level competition in the country. Of the 16 events contested, Region I bagged 6 golds, the most number obtained by any region in the league’s 45-year history. Of those 6 golds, 3 were won by MMSU students: John Vincent Toribio of Solsona in Dagliang Talumpati, Ira Canonizado of San Nicolas in Instrumental Solo, and the Nasudi Chorale in the choral competition.


Tonight: The Tan-okest Show on Earth

I never knew Dr. Shirley Agrupis had an inclination towards arts and culture. To begin with, she is a hard-nosed science professor educated abroad. Also, the lady is constantly busy either in conducting research on biofuels or in collaborating with foreign experts visiting our university. But she called me the other day asking about a festival that has need neither for microscopes nor test tubes.

“I am intrigued about that Tan-ok. I want to go,” she told me.

The other day, I spoke at a journalism workshop at Pasaleng National High School in Pagudpud. It is the farthest barangay in the northernmost town in this province at the tip of mainland Luzon. It takes a two-hour ride from Laoag City to get to that place which is a few ‘tumblings’ away from Cagayan province.

You would think they are secluded in their little paradise, but all the kids and teens there know about Tan-ok (which literally means greatness), and want to go watch if only they could.

Crystal Felipe is a medical technology freshman at the University of Sto. Tomas. Beauty and wit personified, she is focused on her studies. She does not let anything distract her from getting good grades and excelling in school.

But part of her mind will wander at the Marcos Stadium in Laoag City tonight, Nov. 17. This time, Crystal will only be in spirit at the event that gave her goose bumps, in most pleasant ways, last year.

Stories like these, dear karikna, make me realize that the Tan-ok ni Ilokano Festival of Festivals, a brainchild of Manang Imee Marcos, has arrived as the biggest show in the universe I live in. Everyone is abuzz about this year’s edition believed to be even grander than its debut last year. Continue reading “Tonight: The Tan-okest Show on Earth”

Imee: I fervently pray for the Fariñases

Fariñases all: Chevylle, Roger, and Carlos

Official Statement of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos (11/11/12), some parts translated from Ilokano:

On this blessed Sunday, I fervently pray for the Fariñas family. Sana huwag tayong maging mapusok, kundi magpakahinahon sa gagawing desisyon. Huwag tayong lulundag sa pinakamadaling kompromiso na pagsisisihan natin sa huli. Naniniwala ako na may sapat pang panahon hanggang Disyember 21 na pwede nating gamitin upang makapag-isip ng tamang desisyon. Sana ang unahin ay ang ikabubuti ng mga taga-Laoag at ang kapakanan ng nakararami. Lubos akong naniniwala na dapat ang mga taga-Laoag mismo ang magdesisyon para sa kanilang kapakanan. Ang mahusay at mabuting pagsisilbi ay hindi lamang base sa apelyido o pamilyang pinanggalingan. Ang dapat unahin ay ang kakayanan at dunong upang maipaabot ang sapat na serbisyo sa publiko. Ipinagdarasal ko ang isang maunlad na kinabukasan para sa Laoag City at sa buong probinsiya.


By end of day of December 21, the last day for filing of substitution of candidates in next year’s midterm elections, we will know who really goes against who in the rowdiest circus that is the Philippine elections.

Pursuant to Comelec Resolution 9518, “if after the last day for the filing of COC’s, on October 5, 2012, an official candidate of a duly registered political party or coalition of political parties dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, he/she may be substituted by a candidate belonging to, and nominated by, the same political party.”

In the meantime, our people are holding their breath, especially in Laoag City where a four-cornered fight for the mayoralty post has emerged. The unprecedented Fariñas versus Fariñas versus Farinas intramurals for the city’s top post has been written in the history of local politics. This is the first time that members of this family, the political warlords in Laoag City, are going against each other in an election.

Chevylle Fariñas, the incumbent mayor’s wife, will go against his uncle-in-law Roger who had also served for three terms as Sunshine City’s chief executive. And then there is Carlos, son of incumbent 1st District Congressman Rudy Fariñas.

Former Ilocos Norte Governor Michael Keon also joined the race, plus Cesar Ventura, a former mayor, the only politico who has beaten a Fariñas in an election here.

The next few weeks, dear karikna, could be boggling for political pundits, thrilling for those who auction off their loyalties (and votes) … and sad for those who suck for family values.

Meron akong kuwento

MMSU CAS, Oct. 5, 2012

(My end-of sem lecture delivered today, Oct. 5, Teachers’ Day, at the MMSU CAS Multimedia Center, Batac City.)

Sa totoo lang, karamihan ng mga itinuro sa akin ng mga naging teacher ko ay nakalimutan ko na. Ang iba ay dahil sa nakalimutan ko dahil makalilimutin talaga ako, at ang iba naman ay pilit kong kinalimutan. Tama si Ka Ambeth, there are a lot of things taught in school that one has to unlearn.

Pero ang naaalala ko sa mga napakinggan ko sa loob ng mga klasrum sa mga paaralang pinasukan ko ay ang mga kuwento. Si Sir Fabella, kung paano siya nagtanan at nagpakasal na two hundred pesos lang ang dalang pera. Si Sir Cadz at ang mga adventures niya sa Espanya. Si Sir Randy at ang kanyang hilig sa mga big bikes na hindi naman makatakbo ng mabilis sa Metro Manila. Makakalimutan ko ‘yung mga lecture pero hindi ang mga interesting na kuwento.

Ngayong huling araw ng ating apat na buwan na kuwentuhan sa Sociology1, ang wish ko ay sana maging bahagi rin kayo ng kuwento sa anumang larangang papasukan ninyo. At sana magagandang mga istorya ang likhain ninyo. Over na ang mga bad news.

Ngayong umaga, bumisita ang mga estuyante ko last year, sa socio din. Mga dakilang manginginom lang sila dati, aba’y ngayon, sila’y mga mechanical engineer na.

Lahat kayo rito ay mga engineering students, maliban sa ilang mga naligaw ng landas. Kayo rin, magiging mga professional sa di malayong kinabukasan. Ngunit mga anong klase naman kaya? Napakaraming mga kabaliwan ang haharapin ninyo. Oo, mas malala pa sa mga social deviance experiments na ginawa ninyo. Truth is stranger than fiction nga kasi. Handa na ba kayo? Continue reading “Meron akong kuwento”

Calling all Ilokanos 25 y.o. and below: The Ilokano Youth Book Project

In the past weeks, I have been invited to serve as judge in essay contests and to speak in journalism workshops. And I realized that while many essays are being churned out by the youth, mainly for competition purposes, only a few of them are given the opportunity to be read by a public larger than their campus populace.

And so, in one of those moments when I was going through essays written by college students and wondering whether more people aside from judges and their mothers will read the fruits of their handwritten labor, I thought of initiating this project which aims to amplify the voice of the Ilokano youth and to celebrate the joy in writing.

There seems, dear karikna, a dearth of writers in our locality, but I don’t believe we don’t have good writers here in Ilocos. Methinks many are simply not afforded an opportunity. Having been blessed with the chance to write books and publish articles in various publications, I could only wish to be of help to budding writers younger than I am.

So, you or someone you know might be interested to be a part of this book project. And, if so, kindly go through the following guidelines: Continue reading “Calling all Ilokanos 25 y.o. and below: The Ilokano Youth Book Project”

Divine (No) Mercy



I am now, as I was before, sincerely apologizing for the hurt and disgrace I have caused the institution and I humbly ask for your forgiveness.

Since I left the school, I have suffered the consequences of my actions. Life outside the institution has been a series of tribulations. Despite all of these, I am still thankful for the valuable lessons that made me a better person. It was, after all, a learning and humbling experience.

I do not wish for the institution to turn a blind eye to the offenses I have made, because it was worth every punishment ounce for ounce, but I appeal here and now for a second chance.

With my few remaining units, I am begging you to allow me one semester to finish and finally prove myself to be a worthy Divinian. My education is one of the most important keys I have for a better future and I hope that you would consider my plea.

Father, given the chance, I promise anonymity and isolation of myself from other students. I will be willing to undergo tutorial classes and should there be other conditions you have for me to be allowed to enroll again, I will respectfully accept them.

Please, Father, I am begging for your compassion and forgiveness.

Should my request be granted, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity and chance that will be given to me.

Thank you and Godspeed.


The letter, dear karikna, was written by Daryl Velasco, a former student of Divine Word College of Laoag. One of Daryl’s articles in DWCL’s The Williamite, where he was an editor, sparked controversy which led to his expulsion from the institution led by “Father,” the Father President Reynaldo B. Jimenez, SVD.

Without going into the merits of the case, let me say at the onset, as Daryl and his lola did in their letters of appeal to “Father” that the institution had every right to impose punishments it deemed appropriate. But while I concede that DWCL had every right in the legal arena, I have doubts whether they stand well in the realm of Christian charity and compassion.

I first met Daryl when we were preparing for the Ilocos Norte Debate Cup in 2010. I was one of the organizers and at the same time coach of the MMSU Debate Team. I always tell my debate trainees that if they want to be good debaters, they should not only talk like a debater, but look, walk, and even smell like a debater should. And that was what I saw, heard, and smelled, pound by pound, in Daryl.

When I conducted practice debates among students from MMSU, DWCL, and Northwestern University, Daryl was always very receptive to advice, and always worked hard to level up his performance. I knew he really wanted to achieve something. In that competition sponsored by then Provincial Board Member Kris Ablan, MMSU and DWCL eventually fought in the championship round. And which team won? DWCL. And who was best debater? Daryl.

Officials of the school, among them Prof. Romana L. Bitancor, the vice president for academic affairs, were very proud of the team, and they had their pictures taken with the winners up the stage. Naturally, they basked in their students’ glory. (Also part of the winning team was Jaime Lao, now a distinguished alumnus who was also ‘banned’ by DWCL for another reason rational people consider flimsy.)

Sadly though, same officials were quickest to shoo away this sheep entrusted to them because of mistakes he allegedly committed as a student journalist.  And the punishment of expulsion was handed down to him when he only had a few units left and a semester or two short from obtaining a degree in legal management. Meanwhile, the guidance counselor who had a big hand in kicking out Daryl now denies knowledge of the process. I asked myself when I learned about this if such punishment was not too much. Would a one-year suspension not have been enough?

What the expelled student found even more difficult was how to relay the situation to his mama who has been working as a house help in Malaysia since he was one year old. This took a very heavy toll on Daryl’s health. His blood pressure often shot up, and he had bouts with depression. In some instances, immediate trips to the hospital were necessary.

Daryl, however, chose to suffer mostly in his lonesome while remaining jolly in the company of friends. No debates about it, he was a bubbly, fun-loving, and light-hearted person who was very easy to love. The chubby and diminutive lad was not at all scary off the podium. The smiles and poses in his Facebook photos belie the cruel fate he had to face.

Two years out of school, he easily landed in jobs even without a college degree, first in a call center, then at the Laoag City Library as clerk. Last March, he made an appeal to “Father” coursed through Mrs. Bitancor, hoping that the school would reconsider. Daryl’s Lola Taciana who took care of him since childhood also wrote a moving letter, in Iluko and handwritten, humbly begging for Father’s mercy and forgiveness.

“…Ni Daryl laeng ti pangnamnamaanmi ken ni mamangna a mangtarabay kanyami, ta kayat koma pay ni mamang na ti agawiden, ngem gapu ti daytoy a napasamak ket saanen a natuloy. Apo, kaasiannakami kadi ta tulonganna kami a mapagraduar ni Daryl. Iyun-unaymi kadi iti pammakawan ken asiyo… Ket no patganyo man daytoy a kiddawmi, dakkel a yaman ken utang a naimbag a nakemmi kadakayo.”

According to Daryl’s friends, quoting what Daryl himself told them after following up on his appeal, this is what  a top-ranking school official said, “Your letter was finely written, of course, because you are a writer, but we don’t think you are sincere.”

Our dearest Daryl died of heart attack last week, Aug. 15, at age 23. His finest comrades in debate and writing, from various schools, paid tribute to him last Sunday. I have never, dear karikna, seen public speakers and journalists so lost for words.

The family said they refused a wake service offered by DWCL, and for obvious reasons.

But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy,

slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

(Psalm 86:15)

Coincidence? China, US envoys come to Ilocos

The ambassadors of China and the United States will be in Ilocos Norte in the coming days on separate occasions.  Her Excellency Ma Keqing of China arrives here today, July 26, while US envoy Harry Thomas visits a few weeks from now.

We believe it is just a coincidence that there is a raging territorial dispute between China and US-backed Philippines on some islands.

We believe that our strategic location (we are near China) is of no consequence and that our seaports, e.g. Currimao seaport, is of no interest to them.

We believe we are not being watched by these two world superpowers.

Yes, we believe in all these..  or do we?

Watched: Currimao Seaport

SOPAshionable: Ilocanas’ Red Carpet Attempts

News are abuzz today about fashion victors and victims in President Noynoy Aquino’s 3rd SONA held yesterday at the Batasan. Two weeks ago here in Ilocos Norte, we listened to Governor Imee Marcos deliver her 3rd State of the Province Address at Plaza del Norte. This is one of the few red carpet events held in these parts. Let’s look at 12 ladies who caught your karikna and The Ilocos Times reporter Leilanie Adriano’s eyes.

Governor Imee Marcos delivers her 3rd SOPA
Bangui Mayor Salvacion Cimatu
Currimao Mayor Gladys Go-Que
Dr. Rosa Que Cua
former Pinili Mayor Anunciacion Pagdilao
Provincial Board Member Elena Nalupta
Provincial Board Member Portia Salenda
DWFB Station Manager Cely Paz
Capitol bureaucrat Miriam Damo-Ranchez
Zonta’s Pia Cua
Travel entrepeneur Angel Lao

We consulted a group of Ilocos Beki’s from the fields of design and beauty, and they had a unanimous pick.

Bekis’ Choice: Laoag City First Lady and ABC President Chevylle Fariñas

Chevylle on her outfit: It’s an old gown, three years already. I first used it during Mayor Michael’s oathttaking. I thought of the design and had a local modista execute it for me. I wanted something simple, contemporary, relaxed without sacrificing the uniqueness and opulence of the Filipiniana. Made of inabel and lace, it’s actually a two-piece ensemble. The second piece is the lace bolero that had the palora sleeves, which gave character to the outfit. The same lace was cut out and sewn as applique at the bodice. I had it made this way so I can still use the gown, and even without the topper. Simple cut only that’s why I opted for the subdued skintone for the abel. Thanks.

From the grapevine: Reliable sources say Ms. Chevylle had intended to use another attire for the SOPA but decided not to wear it when she found out it had the same shade as the Governor’s filipiniana crafted by top designer Amor Albano, finalist in the recent edition of Project Runway Philippines.

UPDATE (August 15, 2012): Ms. Chevylle clarified that she did not have another gown originally done for the SOPA. In a text message to your karikna, she said, “Honestly, I would have loved to be in whatever shade of pink, and it could have been quite an honor for me to wear something of the same shade or even style as that of the governor. (Who wouldn’t be? She’s simply amazing, beautiful, and brilliant?) But the truth is, I did not have time to go to Amor. Thus, the old gown.”

Senator Fariñas

photo from interaksyon.com

Never have I been as proud of my congressman as today that I no longer want him to be my congressman. Given the rockstar status he currently enjoys, he has clearly gained a national constituency that should not be ignored.

Considered as the ‘bazooka’ of the prosecution in the impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato Corona, Congressman Rudy Fariñas delivered the closing arguments in a language and manner the masses could understand but with no less strength and sophistication needed to sway even the brightest legal minds. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who has gained the respect and admiration of arguably all Filipinos who watched the proceedings, couldn’t help but remark, “Nalaingka unay” (Sobrang galing mo). That both Enrile and Lito “Ben Tumbling” Lapid admit that it was Fariñas’ summation speech that won them over to convict the Chief Justice is a clear indicator that he will make a good senator of the people—across all social classes.

In his speech, Fariñas underscored the glaring inconsistencies in Corona’s testimony which was well rehearsed, well scripted, truly dramatic, but in the end a monumental flop. The word “palusot,” a trending word in Twitter here in the Philippines and worldwide last May 28, will surely be associated with the Congressman for a long time. I can already imagine campaign slogans like, “Kay Fariñas, bawal ang palusot.” Continue reading “Senator Fariñas”

Bloated and overwhelmed

YES, the tourists came in droves.

Six Hundred Eighty Thousand—that, the provincial government says, is the number of tourists who flocked to Ilocos Norte during the Holy Week.

Many think the figure is bloated, and I am trying to understand why. That number, plus the province’s population of around 600,000 combines to 1.28-M. With the country’s population at 92-M, that means 1 of every 77 Filipinos were in Ilocos Norte during the week. It is simply unimaginable, some say, although ‘unimaginable’ could be something positive. Even with a most generous margin of error of, say, 20 percent, the figure is still huge. Boracay, for instance, only usually has around 800,000 tourist arrivals for an entire year, and we know the figure is credible because there is a proper headcount at the Caticlan Port en route to the famous beach.

Personally, I think the method by which they arrived at the statistic is rough at best. Capitol tourist staff counted occupancies in hotels, lodges, and home stays, and, in addition, also data from traffic and tourist centers. The duplication in headcount was thus very possible.

But don’t get me wrong, dear karikna, I honestly believe, and know for sure, that there was indeed a dramatic rise in tourist arrivals here, and I am happy with this development. Living near La Elliana Hotel, La Preciosa Restaurant, and other tourism-related establishments gives me a layman’s feel of how things are going on for tourism.

 “Major restaurants and small time carinderias noted the dramatic increase of tourists this year. Customers who wanted to taste Ilocano cuisine like bagnet, longanisa, empanada and miki had to line up in queues for them to get served,” says a Capitol press release which also reported that “All hotels and transient homes with a capacity of 2,600 rooms were booked and spillover went to private houses to homestay and others set up tents around the major destinations.” It cited Texicano Hotel which has only 50 rooms but received 468 guests during the week.

Sounds sweet, though this is both an accomplishment and a wake-up call. Officials admit that tourists had to wait for at least two hours to get a decent meal, half a day to get billeted. You know how stressful that could be for people who just want to have fun. Good thing there were very few, really few, foreign tourists. Continue reading “Bloated and overwhelmed”


(Ano po ang maipapayo natin sa letter sender?)

Hayaan niyo naman akong mag-share. At pasensya na sa lengwahe. Baka hindi niyo magustuhan, pero parang gusto ko lang makipag-usap sa isang kaibigan at ganito ako makipag-usap sa isang kaibigan.

Binuklat ko kasi ang lumang diary ko nu’ng nakaraang araw at muli ko na namang naalala ang isang bahagi ng aking buhay na pilit ko nang ibinaon sa aking kamalayan.

I really loved her so much and adored her. I had other girlfriends before pero wala sila compared to this person. Nu’ng high school e we would talk on the phone nang kay tagal. More than two hours, ganun. I would even record the conversations on cassette tape at papakinggan nang paulit-ulit kapag nami-miss ko siya.. Top student siya sa school nila at ganun din naman ako sa amin kaya nagkakasama kami sa mga interschool activities at competitions.

She was very simple and that was what I liked about her. Walang arte. At ang sarap niyang kausap. Talagang may connection kami.

Nu’ng nag-college kami pareho sa Manila, we went to different schools, siya sa UP Diliman, ako naman sa isang Catholic school. Bago kami mag-college e sabi ko bibisitahin ko siya sa UP. Sabi niya huwag, conservative kasi ang family niya at very religious, as in. At naintindihan ko naman na gusto niyang mag-focus sa pag-aaral. So I respected that. Nag-uusap naman kami paminsan-minsan sa landline sa dorm. And we would also write letters to each other by mail kasi hindi pa masyadong uso ang text noon. Kakatuwa nga e, kasi nasa Quezon City siya at sa Manila din lang naman ako pero by snail mail ang communication namin. Subalit iba talaga ang feeling kapag sariling penmanship niya ang binabasa mo. Parang sasabog ang puso ko sa galak tuwing bubuksan ko ang kanyang liham.

Basta, I respected yung sinabi niya na huwag akong dadalaw. Miss na miss ko siya palagi. Kapag sembreak at umuuwi kami dito sa Laoag ay mas mahaba ang usapan namin, we try to catch up.

There was one time na pinipilit ako ng bestfriend ko na puntahan namin siya sa dorm nila on my birthday pero either ako’y masunurin talaga sa minamahal ko o isa lang talagang dakilang torpe, hindi kami tumuloy.

Then second semester ng second year e may course requirement kami sa theology. Questionnaire for girls we were interested in. Gusto ko sanang ipasagot sa kanya pero nawawalan na ako ng pag-asa. Christmas break noon at hindi ko na siya tinawagan ni minsan dahil nga pinanghihinaan na ako ng loob.

Pero nung Dec. 31, at 10:00 p.m., tumawag siya sa bahay. Mag-ingat daw ako sa pagpapaputok. Sabi ko naman, “Who cares anyway? Sabi niya, “I care.” Sobrang kinilig ako. Kaya naman nagkalakas-loob ako na banggitin ‘yung tungkol sa theo project namin. Continue reading “Torpedo”


I admire a top elective official of the Ilocos Norte provincial government for being so simple, down-to-earth, and jolly faced. He would go to the mall with no bodyguards and is sometimes only in his pambahay. You would think he is just an ordinary Joe, not one who belongs to one of the country’s top political clans. And, indeed, my sister-in-law Gina did not even recognize the official when we chanced at him at a pirated DVD store where he bought a couple of titles. The storekeeper says he is a constant customer.

Yes, he buys pirated DVDs, but I don’t care. Do you, dear karikna?


Tan-ok Festival of Festivals: Why Laoag was biggest loser

Laoag City's Pamulinawen slash Panagpanday Festival presentation

I have always believed that Laoag City’s Pamulinawen Festival is confused. And that same confusion was brought to the First Tan-ok Festival of Festivals held last night, Nov. 12.

The result was sad but not puzzling. Of 23 local government units, Laoag did not figure in the Top 10, based on the eminent judges’ scorecards. I’m sure the overflowing audience at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Stadium felt the same.

Some observers—including my friend and former colleague at the university, Randy Leaño, who is now based in Hawaii—believe that Laoag lost because it did not get a good choreographer. As the city’s big names in culture and the arts opted to train contingents of other municipalities, Laoagueño-trained contingents won while Laoag wallowed at the bottom.

I agree that choreographers are a vital element in performances, and more so in competitions. However it is my humble opinion that Laoag lost because of something more basic: the story it shared was, well, confused.

Listening to the dubbed introduction before the performance, I had no idea at first that it was the Pamulinawen Festival being referred to, and when it was made explicit that it was Laoag’s turn, I was in a state of disbelief. It spoke of Panagpanday (Blacksmithing). Maybe there are some blacksmiths in Laoag, but I didn’t know (and even Google doesn’t) that Laoag is known for that industry in the same manner San Nicolas is known for their pottery or Piddig for wine making.

And pray tell, what is the connection between the popular Ilocano love song Pamulinawen and blacksmiths? That Panagpanday is alien to the Laoagueños’ psyche was apparent in the way the dancers performed. It became even more obvious with the audience’s silence. Continue reading “Tan-ok Festival of Festivals: Why Laoag was biggest loser”

Teddy’s surprise

Ours is really a world of surprises and, in many instances, these surprises are broadcast on Youtube. Teddy Locsin Jr., who served as press secretary during the presidency of the late Corazon Aquino, recently dished out a powerful defense for Ferdinand Marcos, so powerful that not even Imelda or her kids could possibly outdo it. It was originally aired, Nov. 3, in Teditorial, a segment in ANC’s The World Tonight.

I had the chance to talk to Teddy Boy some years ago when I was invited to guest at Studio 23’s Points of View where he was one of the hosts. The episode was about Filipino pride, and I was there because of my well-circulated essay, “Who wants to be a Filipino?”  I was glad that Teddy Boy and two other hosts—Cher Calvin, now a multi-awarded TV personality in the US, and Mo Twister—were so gracious. Their forth member, Jessica Zafra, exerted no effort to hide how irritated she was with my views. During commercial breaks, we would casually talk about current issues.

Day before that taping at ABS-CBN, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo delivered her infamous “Bangkang Papel” Sona where she presented kids from Payatas who sent their wishes to Malacañang through paper boats afloat the Pasig River. I told Teddy Boy that the speech was hard sell and smacked of cheap propaganda. With a boyish smile, he replied, “I helped draft that speech.” He said he understands that people would perceive the Sona that way, but added that the “banking papel” story was true. You would think, dear karikna, that my dark skin could not turn red, but I really blushed at that time. How could I have criticized my idol Teddy Locsin’s work and right in his face?

I am a big fan of Teddy Boy. First because of his insights that are incisive, bordering on the uncanny, and, second, because of his crisp English which is a treat to the ears. There are only a few orators I look up to, and Teddy, Ninoy, and Makoy are among them.

I am surprised though that Teddy Boy’s discourse on the former president has not gone viral. After a week in the web, it has only around four thousand hits. Well, not really that bad because the former Makati congressman’s videos has viewers averaging only at around 500. One could not even find a transcript of the video in the Internet so I had to transcribe the material myself.

And here it goes: Continue reading “Teddy’s surprise”

Outpour of love for La Greta

SHE’S got to be today’s most loved lola in the Saluyot Republic. Many wept, some smiled. Many wept and smiled. Many wanted to hug the lady, others wished to join her for coffee. Everybody prayed for her good health. While many wanted to help the lady, the wiser ones knew that Matilda “Gretchen” Mandac, just by living a life of bliss and serenity amidst harsh realities, has already helped them.

Last week’s “The (other) Lady at the Capitol” elicited heartwarming reactions from thousands of netizens who read, liked, and shared the article posted in this blog and circulated heavily  in social networking sites.

“This is tragic and yet inspiring. I have to admit my tears were flowing while reading the story. Some people have everything and yet they want more. This amazing lady is an angel. Thank you, Nana Gretchen, for opening my heart,” says Passerby, member of a famous rock band. I didn’t know he can be that cheesy. Carla Tayag, another blog visitor, had a similar sentiment, “..And here I am, whining that I can’t even buy myself a new pair of flats. I think learning about her story already helped me a lot… In fact, more than I can ever help her.” Indeed, many readers admired Nana Gretchen for her indomitable faith and strong character. To many, she exemplifies the best in the human spirit.

The bulk of reactors were young students. Kristian Ranjo, I learned, have had coffee dates with La Greta even before I wrote the story. Icko shared that part of him “died” when he learned about Nana Gretchen, but Michelle Fuerte, who saw joy in the lady’s story, wrote, “Thumbs up Nanay Gretchen, isa kang magandang modelo sa mga tao na dapat tularan at ipagmalaki. Love You.”

“I Love You, Nanay Gretchen,” actually reverberates in a number of comments. Many said their newfound hero reminds them of their departed grandparents. Those who still have their lolos and lolas pledged to love their elders even more. Continue reading “Outpour of love for La Greta”

This one’s for you

Salamat, dear karikna.  Our blog is one of five national finalists in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards — Society, Politics, and History Commentary Category.  Awards Ceremonies at RCBC Plaza in Makati on Sunday, Dec. 12, but am too busy to go.  Of the five, I seem to be the only one who comes from outside Metro Manila.


Studies for our book cover

Here are nine studies finely crafted by fabulous Ianree B. Raquel for our book cover.

Would appreciate your inputs, folks.  Let’s please choose one.

What happened after?

“NOBODY reads your column anyway!,” an obviously agitated someone left this comment on my blog.  I thanked him profusely because he could not have reacted that way had he not read any of my articles.  If it were true that nobody else cares about this column aside from him, then he is my one and only reader.  I could not thank him enough.  At least, it’s “meron” instead of “wala.”

Over time though, you realize that there could be more than just one reader.  My uncle Gerry, a church guy, would always castigate me whenever I write unkindly about the Catholic Church hierarchy.  So there, I’ve got two.

Truth to tell, writing is a joy in itself.  It is just a bonus when you figure that some people, aside from your supportive family, actually read your work.  I have come across some folks, in person and through the web, who say they read Riknakem, and I’d know they really do when they begin to tell me stories they remember from my writings.  When you often cannibalize your life in essays, it could get awkward when people know so much about you, but then suddenly you feel happy, not at all due to cheap fame, but because you realize that, you are not, after all, alone.

But the bigger bonus, dear karikna, bigger than what MWSS people receive, is when Continue reading “What happened after?”

Prisoner Gloria

IF IT IS ANY consolation, at least she gets to retain her acronym of nine years, PGMA, albeit with  the “P” bearing a surreal meaning this time.  With the presidency now part of our nation’s past (Thank God!), Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Philippines’ most reviled leader since Malakas at Maganda, potentially faces a bleak tomorrow—a future more sour than her insincere smile, more distracting than her facial mole, and even much less encouraging than his son Mikey’s movies, monumental flops at the box office.

This dim tomorrow, of course, she will fight against using the vast wealth she stole from the people and whatever is left of her political might.  It is no wonder that the PGMA’s first legislative measure is to tinker with our constitution.  It was filed on day one of her newfound job as representative of a district somewhere in Pampanga.  She had to act immediately.  It could not wait.

But of course.  A truth commission, mandated to gather evidence and prosecute abusers in the previous regime, is already in place, and less than twenty four hours after Gloria stepped down from office, which marked the end of her immunity from lawsuit, various groups filed before the Department of Justice piles of cases against her.

I am sure PGMA is ready for the showdown.  She is not unlike Voldemorth, the dark lord in the Harry Potter series.  Having been defeated by a young boy in a magical duel, Voldemorth vanished, but not without leaving enough minions who would eventually make possible his return to power.  Gloria left, but not without wreaking havoc on the bureaucracy with dubious midnight appointments, including that of Chief Justice Renato Corona, her former chief of staff.  This on top of leaving empty government coffers, the biggest debt in our history, and oh-so-many scandals conspicuously hidden under the rug.

Sure, she had, long before June 30, devised ways to elude justice and to circumvent the law.  Who knows, given the extent of her callousness, she might even be expecting monuments built in her honor, and not just in Pampanga.  But fret not, dear karikna, it should be enough consolation for us that there is at least one law that Congressman Gloria and her faithful cohorts cannot, even with all their dark powers pooled together, repeal or amend.  The law of karma. Continue reading “Prisoner Gloria”

blogs to visit

I would like to share with you, dear karikna, two links that you might want to click:

Treasures of Ilocandia (and the world) —  Edwin Antonio is arguably the most diligent of all bloggers in this part of the world.  I often wonder how he finds time to do what he does.

The blog features Iloko culture, Philippines traditions, places, festivals and other celebrations of life in the country and the rest of the world.

Blauearth — Just visit and find something that will interest you, maybe make you salivate.

Let’s continue to build a vibrant culture of blogging here and elsewhere.


Dear Ate Charo

TAWAGIN MO na lang ako sa pangalang Herdy, dalawampu’t walong taong gulang, mula sa Laoag City.  Bunso ako sa limang magkakapatid at buhay na buhay pa ang aking mga magulang, pero hindi ito tungkol sa buhay ko.

My life is rather dull, uninteresting.  I do not starve, I am not adopted (and would not care if I was), and neither am I a hermaphrodite.  You see, my story is neither bizarre nor a tearjerker, not the type that would make it to  Maalaala Mo Kaya.  No, this is not about me, it’s about you.

I am pretty concerned that you would allow your good self to be bullied by the rude, arrogant, know-all, aesthetically challenged animal that is Willie Revillame who recently pressured ABS-CBN, a media giant under your leadership, into firing Jobert Sucaldito.  He threatened to resign if this was not done.

Jobert, in his radio program, criticized Willie for ridiculing the contestants on Wowowee.  Case in point, the show recently invited students who barely passed (pasang-awa) in school.

Why that he could have discussed this with you in private but that he chose to air his childish concerns on live, worldwide TV?  It’s not, of course, because he was too busy campaigning for Manny Villar,  who also exploits the poor for personal gain, that he can’t find time to talk to you personally, it was simply because he is Willy.

And Willy is a man whose vocabulary does not include respect.  He can disrespect an icon of democracy as the whole country mourns her death, he can disrespect you as he disrespects his contestants, as he does his co-hosts (he sacked one simply because she had a boyfriend), as he does his viewers, as he did his battered wife.  That is his uncanny talent.

“Why did they invite those who had low grades, why not those who excelled?,” Jobert asked, rhetorically I suspect as you and I already know the answer: Willie needs people he can laugh at, ridicule, toy with the way he laughs at, ridicules, and toys with Pokwang, Bentong, and his scantily-dressed dancers.

Willie, borrowing the term Joey Salceda used to describe GMA, is one lucky son of a *^#$@.  By promoting a culture of mendicancy, Wowowee caused the death of 70 impoverished Filipinos who lined up for an entrance ticket to the show’s first anniversary at the Ultra in February 2006.  Willie, who, in act of extreme callousness, insisted that the show must go on that day despite the tragic deaths, was the target of public outrage.  But the wrath against Willie only lasted as long as the Filipino memory could go, which is very short, and so Willie survived, and so the show went on.

In August 2007, he reportedly rigged Wilyonaryo, one of those games that psychologically torture poor contestants.  He survived the fiasco, but only after shedding, yet again, his patent crocodile tears.  The 49-year-old host may have been manipulating the show for years, we suspected.  But to jail he did not go. He, on the contrary, went on to build his palaces.

Just last year, he challenged ABS-CBN, as he did lately, on air, to choose between him and Cory Aquino, whose funeral cortège was shown in a live feed in a small box within the Wowowee frame.  ABS-CBN removed the live feed, and Willie was happy.  The public was outraged.  The public forgot.  Willie survived.

Willie says he is not afraid to get fired because he is good and he‘s sure other networks will quickly get him anyway.  “Bakit, iisa lang ba ang channel?”, he snorted in an interview.  He is confident that ABS-CBN would not dare axe his show because it has been bringing in a lot of dough.  That is a very dangerous mentality, Ate Charo, as Papi now sees himself as sort of god, untouchable and without fault.  You do not want to want to continue to breed such a monster, not under your nose, er, not under your prominent mole.

Or he could be thinking that the vast riches he has accumulated over years of ridiculing and insulting the poor are enough to let him live a life of comfort.  But he maintains this frame of mind, his wealth will vanish as fast as fast as his wives and girlfriends do.  Morally bankrupt, he can end up economically destitute too because last time I checked, Karma is still law.

Yes, Willie has, so far, remained invincible, but his continued success is our prolonged tragedy.  Now he makes you choose between him and Jobert.  The good choice is clear, albeit difficult.

Willie glorifies his show as “programa ng bawat Pilipino,” but this only means one thing.  Either he is delusional or I am not Filipino.  Hallucination is more like it as Willie claims that the top Philippine destination for TFC subscribers and foreign tourists now is neither Boracay, Ilocos, nor Palawan,  not any of nature’s wonders, not any of our historical sites, not anything else but Wowowee.

Please please, Ate Charo, do the country a favor.  Sack Willie.  Willie sucks.

And while at it, you might as well ban in your network Lito Camo, author of trashy songs like Otso-otso, Dododo Dadada, and Boom-tarat-tarat, less he continue to make others believe, as he made Willie believe, that the main tool of a singer is not good voice but thick face.

If you must do the right thing, Ate Charo, please do it now, less we forget again, less Willie Revillame survive, again.

In advance, I say: Congratulations!



My list

POLL officials suggest that, given the volume of voters per PCOS machine (1:1000), a voter should spend eight minutes at most in the actual shading process on Election Day, hopefully on Monday, May 10. I am thus doing a great deal of discerning now, and here’s what I have so far.

President: Noynoy Aquino
Vice President: Jejomar Binay


I am decided to vote for the following:

  1. Acosta, Neric — LP
  2. Drilon, Frank — LP
  3. Hontiveros, Risa  — LP
  4. Marcos, Bongbong — NP
  5. Maza, Liza — NP/Makabayan
  6. Roco, Sonia — LP

I am yet to choose six from the following eight candidates:

Bautista, Martin  — LP

Biazon, Ruffy  — LP

Guingona, TG  — LP

Lim, Danny  — LP

Lacson, Alex — LP

Ocampo, Satur — NP/Makabayan

Ople, Toots — NP

Osmeña, Serge — Independent/LP

Party List

Ang Ladlad

Politics of language, language of politics

    Your karikna occasionally appears on television as political analyst, offering insights on events and issues. Those who would see me on TV give an interesting feedback: “Naglaing ka ag-English.”

      I am surprised because although I speak mostly in the native tongue, it is my sparse English that viewers notice. It is not the substance of my opinions that they remember but my facility of the foreign language. No more English then next time. 

Back off, kapitan!

BARANGAY OFFICIALS are supposed to be non-partisan. Unless they resign or take a leave of absence, they are not supposed to campaign, much less use public resources, for any candidate or party.

    The Department of Interior and Local Government perennially reminds barangay officials that their mandate provides that they remain neutral. Violators may be slapped with hefty penalties if caught participating in any partisan activity.

     Unfortunately, such is not the reality in Philippine politics. Most barangay officials are the biggest rah-rah boys of candidates for public office. Worse, these community leaders become instrumental in vote-buying. This is very disturbing, dear karikna, because Comelec deputizes barangay officials to ensure the conduct of clean, honest, and credible elections.

     Sad to say, I am not aware of any barangay official who has been prosecuted for actively supporting particular candidates.