It’s down to two

“.gudevening sir!..ask q lng sir kung cnu ibo2to nyo for president?,I haven’t decided yet kze sir,.kuha lng po aq ng basis”

    It was a message from Dennis Quines of Laoag City, one of my former students. I was both surprised and overwhelmed that he would ask me such question. Surprised because Dennis and I really never got to talk about anything beyond Logic, the course he took up under me; overwhelmed because Dennis is a first-time voter who is very carefully in assessing his choices, and I felt obliged to offer good advice.

    Unfortunately, I cannot proclaim my bet to the public, although my friends already know who I am for. My public persona as journalist, political analyst, educator, and civil servant requires that I maintain a certain level of objectivity. Showing political color would be divisive, and people will either not listen to me anymore, or will begin to look at me with eyes of cynicism if I do so. Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Conrado de Quiros takes a different path in vigorously supporting and defending Noynoy. I will not follow his lead.

    But I could tell Dennis the type of candidates I will not vote for, so he might want to go through a process of elimination. Continue reading “It’s down to two”

Top athlete crosses finish line, cum laude

DEFYING STEREOTYPES on student athletes, this guy proves that there is as much gray matter between his ears as the muscles in his arms.

Arnel Jordan B. Doming has gathered 15 gold medals from various regional and national sports competitions he participated while in college. Last March 26 he received yet another. “It is the most precious one,” he says.

Domingo graduated cum laude with the degree bachelor in secondary education, major in mathematics.

Four years ago, Domingo’s future was unsure. Although he graduated as valedictorian both at the Bagbago-Puttao Elementary School in his hometown Solsona and at the Ablan Memorial Academy in the same town, he could not go to college because of financial limitations. Domingo’s father Erneso died when he was in fourth grade. His mother Lorna is a housekeeper. Continue reading “Top athlete crosses finish line, cum laude”

Now Showing: ukay-ukay

It was bound to die, because, with the advent of the comfy Robinsons cinemas, nobody was happy with it anymore, except, of course, the huge, cat-like rats that have long infested it.  I already abhorred it long before Robinsons came, the facilities were poor and the movies came as fast as justice is delivered in Philippine courts.  It just had to go.

But when Isabel did bow out, I was saddened.  I began to realize how much memories are housed in that structure.  There is where daddy brought the kiddy me to watch English action movies which he patiently translated so I could understand.  There is where I had my first movie date as a teener.  There is where my mom and her kumare shed many a tears watching the movies of Vilma, Nora, and Sharon.  And there is where my late Tiya Carling, an old maid who loved going to the movies, frequently went to before the advent of cable television.

Saddened is an understatement. Continue reading “Now Showing: ukay-ukay”

When I die

I was motorbiking at Rizal St. in Laoag when I passed by this funeral carriage infront of the Aglipayan church.  Although the sun was sizzling hot, I just had to go back and take a pic of it.  I want to be in that vehicle when they bring me to to my grave.

I hope you do not find it morbid, karikna.  Death, they say, is the only sure thing in life.  While no politician is assured to win the election (unless unopposed), everybody is bound to die sooner or later.

When I die, I do not want any of those bands which will destroy the solemnity of my wake and burial.  Some bands even perform green, sex-laden songs during ‘last nights’ would you believe?  One song they performed at a wake I attended goes, “Sisid marino, naglaing toy nobyok, iyunana toy baba santo ngumato. (Marine dive. My boyfriend is so good, he starts down below then works his way up).

I also do not want those annoying speakers playing religious songs at my funeral march, I would have had enough of noise during election periods when I was alive.

My remains I pray brought directly to the cemetery, no stopovers at the church.  I would not want to make the church richer by my death.

I want all the Ilocano rituals and practices for the dead observed.  And please don’t call Atong King, no gambling please.

Continue reading “When I die”

One year of Tita Lita’s rikna and nakem

Lolita Bareng-Chestnut

Here is a message from this blog’s very important karikna…

“3/3 today marks my first year participating in riknakem. a whole year of journey with sir herdy in paths both rough and smooth.i learned a lot from here.words i have never heard or have heard before but did not know exactly what it meant i.e. dedma ,yosi,laklak,astig and sir herdy you explained and translated them .there were times that i was argumentative and out of context but it made it more interesting and perhaps that’s why it lasted this long.and i made friends here and most of all i met you sir herdy…thanks for a whole year of friendship and blogging.hope we will have more to come.”

Utang na Loob

ELECTION PERODS are always of great interest to social observers. The ballot reflects the people’s frame of mind, their values, their hopes and fears, and even their resignation to fate. What candidates do to win votes also tells a lot about the level of our political maturity.

Observing elections in the Philippines is both exciting and frustrating. Exciting because, by and at large, campaigns are run like a circus, but frustrating, too, because we observe how painfully slow we move, if at all, towards clean, honest, credible, and enlightened elections.

Ilocos Norte politics is sizzling hot at this time, what with two Marcoses gunning for the gubernatorial post.

Former 2nd District Representative Imee Marcos, daughter of the late president, is up against her cousin, incumbent governor Michael Marcos Keon (MMK).

The Imee camp is reportedly raising the issue of “Utang na Loob” against MMK, who previously enjoyed the support of the Marcoses, especially in 2007 when he ran for and won the governor’s post previously held by now congressman Bongbong Marcos, who is running for a senate seat. Continue reading “Utang na Loob”


IT IS A MOST MEANINGFUL coincidence, dear karikna, that MMSU’s yearly foundation anniversary celebration comes right after the holiday season. After we would have opened and used up our gifts during the Christmas and the New Year, we appreciate yet another gift, one that is grand and lasting, one that is a great source of pride for all of us in Ilocandia—the gift of Mariano Marcos State University.

    Last Jan. 6-7, we commemorated the granting of a charter, 32 years ago, to MMSU. A person who turns 32 is often teased: You are old. In Iluko, ‘awan kan iti kalendaryo’. The age marks the dawn of maturity.

    Although we are still young compared to other academic institutions, we have steadily established our reputation as a model of progress in the North, and in the nation. Such distinction was not served on a silver platter, but was attained through collective commitment and synergy.

    One of the highlights of the Foundation Anniversary Celebrations is President Miriam E. Pascua’s State of the University Address or SOUA.


    Here are a few excerpts of the 32-page speech delivered in almost an hour before an applauding audience.

  Continue reading “SOUA”

Students hold presidential mock election

The Sociology Guild, an academic organization in MMSU, sponsored a series of activities on political education and election volunteerism during the Sociology Week, Sept. 7-10.

With the theme, “Agtutubo: Preparing the thumb for the stains of politics”, the weeklong affair engaged the students on issues surrounding political education and election volunteerism in light of the national struggle for emancipation from traditional politics, transactional leadership, and morally-bereft governance.

The activities kicked off on Sept. 8 with the opening of an art-exhibit-cum-election-precinct at the CAS Lobby. In the exhibit area, a presidential mock election was also held to feel the pulse of MMSU students on their preferred presidential candidates for the 2010 elections.

Immediately after the precincts closed on Sept. 9, 3 p.m., the ballots were appreciated by student volunteers, and the results were analyzed by Social Sciences faculty members.

A total of 1,524 students, representing 23.7 percent of the tertiary-level populace in the Batac campus, participated in the poll.

Sen. Francis Escudero, the youngest among the presidentiables, garnered 33.72 percent of the votes, and emerged on top, ranking first in all colleges. Sen. Manny Villar took the second spot with 21.12 percent while Sen. Noynoy Aquino got 17.25 percent and landed third.

With 11.74 percent of the votes, Vice President Noli de Castro was in fourth place with Sen. Loren Legarda and former President Joseph Estrada settling for fifth (7.74 percent) and sixth (4.79 percent) places, respectively.

Other possible presidential candidates voted by students are Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando (1.24 percent), Sen. Jamby Madrigal (1.24 percent), evangelist Eddie Villanueva (1.11 percent), Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (0.59 percent), Sen. Richard Gordon (0.39 percent), Carlos delos Reyes of Ang Kapatiran Party (0.32 percent), and Gunless Society bet Nicanor Perlas (0.26 percent).

Dr. Violeta B. Alonzo, chair of the Social Sciences Department, hopes to have the mock polls periodically, with the next one eyed after Nov. 30, the deadline for filing of certificate of candidacy for the presidency. Dr. Joselito L. Lolinco, CAS dean, has thrown his full support for the undertaking.

Other activities include “The 2009 Sociology Forum” held Sept. 10 at the University Training Center, and a roundtable discussion at the CAS Lobby. Speakers, led by Trinity University of Asia professors Ruel F. Pepa and Glenn Agbing, and Ilocos Times columnist Steve Barreiro, tackled the national and local political climates, and how the youth can help institute reforms.

A film show featuring “Batas Militar,” a documentary on the imposition of martial law during the Marcos era was held Sept. 11, the birthday of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

ABS-CBN featured the activities in their regional news program TV Patrol Ilocos, and might air it in their nationwide broadcast as well. The media giant took interest in the MMSU mock election because it appears to be the first school-based poll conducted in view of the 2010 national and local elections.

Representative of other schools have called up the MMSU organizers so they can replicate the mock polls in their own constituencies.

MMSU students have been invited by ABS-CBN to participate in the Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo registration to be held at the Laoag City Ampitheatre, Sept. 21. An online voter registration will also be administered by the Commission on Election in the venue.

Boto mo, iPatrol Mo aims to empower the youth to help ensure clean and honest elections.


RH Bill Tackled in Multidisciplinary Forum


The Department of Social Sciences of MMSU-CAS initiated a multidisciplinary forum to tackle House Bill 5043 or the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act, one of the most controversial legislations pending in congress.  It was held at the CAS lobby, March 4.

Prof. Mario Singson and Mrs. Marchita Singson represented the Catholic Church, which poses the strongest opposition to the bill.  The couple is with the Diocese of Laoag Commission on Family and Life.

Dr. Violeta Alonzo presented her economic analysis on the bill while Prof. Fides Bernardo Bitanga delivered his philosophical discourse.

Also present were lawyer Erme Labayog and Dr. Leonisa Silvestre, MMSU health services chief, to shed light on legal and medical issues respectively.

The resource speakers delivered short speeches on their respective stands.  After which, a vibrant open forum ensued. Continue reading “RH Bill Tackled in Multidisciplinary Forum”

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!

A tale of two Glorias

IN AN EFFORT to show that the benefits of the government’s much-trumpeted economic efforts are trickling down to the masses, the president spent a considerable amount of time honoring everyday heroes in her eighth State of the Nation Address which she delivered two weeks ago before fashionable members of congress. Wearing a pale fuchsia pink “modernized Maria Clara” gown created by top designer JC Buendia, our head of state recognized—to the exaggerated applause of a friendly audience—farmers, lady welders, and ordinary folks who made a difference in their lives and, by induction, in the nation’s.
Allow me to follow Her Excellency’s lead by writing about “the other Gloria”, one of my everyday heroes. In doing so, I will juxtapose Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, referred to here as La Gloria and “the other Gloria”—Manang Gloria, our househelp.
Please do not raise your eyebrows, the president herself claims to be a granddaughter of a labandera and is proud to be so. Thus, she is not at all offended when people taunt her with the novelty song: “Gloria, Gloria, labandeeeeera!”. This, I say, deserves our praise.
Gloria Portela Valencia, 51, hails from Barangay Bacsil in Dingras town. Manong Rolando, her “First Gentleman”, is a tobacco farmer who tills less-than-a-hectare of land that is not theirs (makitaltalonda laeng). The eldest among her siblings, Manang Gloria started working as a “kasambahay” at age 13. When she got married and bore kids, this devoted mother quit her job and stayed home to take care of their family. Eight years ago, however, when her children started going to college, Manang Glory decided to come back as a kasambahay so she can help send her children to school.
Honesty and integrity are among Manang Gloria’s many virtues. We could trust her with anything, even the most valuable of our possessions (and secrets). Given her deep sense of fairness and delicadeza, natalged ti riknami iti uneg iti pagtaenganmi. (We feel at ease inside our home). In contrast, under La Gloria’s watch, the Philippines has been largely perceived as the most corrupt economy in East Asia. It does not help that members of her family have been tagged in a number of scams and shady deals. As a result, La Gloria figures in the surveys as the most distrusted post-Marcos president.
On the day of the SONA (for which 200 million pesos of the Filipino people’s money was spent), there were no traces of the national crisis in the newly-refurbished Batasan. La Gloria and her cohorts were in the perfect mood to take a bite of Hollywood by walking on a long, thick, red carpet even as the nation was ailing—very much like dancing the papaya dance in an Intensive Care Unit. Manang Gloria has never set foot on a flashy red carpet but she knows door mats and cleaning rags pretty well—trapos are her tools, but she is not a trapo.
Manang Gloria is no saint, but when she commits a mistake, she says “sorry” and means it. She accepts her blunders and strives to make amends. Such was the case when she broke the glass cover of an expensive cooking pan. She looked sincerely regretful, offered to pay for the damage (which we refused), and promised to be more careful next time (which she did). Two years ago, a teary-eyed La Gloria delivered over primetime national television a well-rehearsed (but poorly performed, said veteran actress Susan Roces) “I.. am… sorry” speech for an offense she would never admit and, ergo, would never rectify.
A Doctor of Philosophy in Economics, La Gloria posits that the E-VAT is one of the best things that happened to the economy. While not claiming to be a financial technocrat, Manang Gloria, who only reached grade six, knows with certainty that E-VAT is a curse to the Filipino masa.

In her SONA, La Gloria declared: “I care…” and “nag-aalala ako” for her suffering constituency. Manang Gloria may not be as eloquent in expressing her feelings but she shows that caring entails sacrifice and self-denial. La Gloria, along with a typically bloated delegation, went on with a junket to the US of A even as Typhoon Frank lashed the country and left hundreds of casualties in the deep blue sea. Manang Gloria would not have been as callous to do the same. In fact, she once volunteered to postpone her day-off when the rains poured heavily and leaks on the roof plagued our abode.

Because of her good nature, Manang Gloria has no known enemies unlike La Gloria whose foes are as abundant as the pirated DVDs sold just a few steps away from the Laoag City Hall.
Wait, Manang Gloria does have two critics: me and my dad who sometimes complain of her salty cooking (naapgad/maalat). But well, saltiness is something very easy to remedy compared to a leadership turned sour.
We want to keep Manang Gloria for as long as we can, but we know that she will have to leave us in due time, certainly when her children become professionals, so she can go back to being a full-time nanang. Yes, we want to keep Manang Gloria beyond 2010!
Her poverty notwithstanding, Manang Gloria says she sleeps soundly at night. We can only hope that La Gloria enjoys the same luxury. ###

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 ( 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.