Who is Bob Ong?

bakit-baliktad To say I have been asked this question over a thousand times is not an excess.

Eight years ago, the writer sent me an e-mail asking for my permission for the inclusion of one of my essays in a book project he was working on.

I said, “yes, go ahead”.  I was not aware then how big he was in the Internet and how phenomenal his first book, ABNKKBSNPLAko?!, has turned out.

Bob Ong was so thankful.  He said he had long been looking for me.

A couple of months after, BO e-mailed again to inform me that his book has been published.  He invited me to get my complimentary copy, and the rest is history.

“Sino ba talaga si Bob Ong?”, I always see a sparkle in the eyes of those who ask.   Continue reading “Who is Bob Ong?”

Barack Obama and the young man who asked, ‘Who wants to be a Filipino?’

AS I WRITE THIS, the American people are jubilating over the landmark electoral victory of Barack Obama. More than just the first black president, the 46-year old senator from Chicago, who captured a nation’s, nay, the world’s imagination, is a symbol of hope for humanity in crisis.

Speaking to a mammoth crowd representative of all colors, ages, creed, gender, and political affiliations, Obama began his victory speech with these powerfully historic words:

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
Watching the television coverage of the US elections led me to envy and resentment. Envy because clean, peaceful, and honest elections—such as the one Americans just had—remains a dream for Filipinos, and resentment because the country of stars and stripes gave us democracy but failed to teach us how to conduct our elections well (makes me wonder if they did that intently so they can continue to manipulate our government).

In this state of envy and resentment, I was reminded of an essay I wrote when I was eight years more carefree and less bald. This piece, borne out of anguish over the chronic hopelessness and despair in this country that I love, gave me my twenty seconds of fame as a national kontabida. The response it elicited was huge—from the angry call I received from a Philippine president’s son to the thousands of mail I got from readers, some sympathetic, but mostly hostile.
If Obama were Filipino, how would he respond to this essay? Continue reading “Barack Obama and the young man who asked, ‘Who wants to be a Filipino?’”