Abolish it, now!

THIS IS NOT the first column to be written on this matter and I bet this is not to be the last.  The clamor for the abolition of the Sanguniang Kabataan crops up every so often and intensifies before barangay elections, but alas, the SK has stayed and hanged on like sticky phlegm lingering on the nation’s throat.  I say this is the right time to cough it out, given a president who is sincere in cleaning up the government bureaucracy.

Nothing has done more damage to the Filipino youth’s political education and participation more than the SK.  The structure was meant to give young people, who make up a big chunk of the country’s population, the opportunity to contribute to nation building.  It was envisioned to be a breeding ground for future leaders, an avenue for youth empowerment.

But it has, dear karikna, disappointed, and disappointed us big time.

What youth empowerment do we see when most SK programs are merely confined to the staging of cheesy Mr. and Ms. SK events, holding of basketball leagues, construction of basketball courts and waiting sheds, and clean and green photo-operations where they would sweep the streets, plant a couple of seedlings, and pose in front of cameras as if they have reverted climate change?

Occasionally, there are some innovations.  In Laoag City last February, the SK Federation held one of their biggest activities—a mixed martial arts event described by witnesses as “bloody and fierce”.  It was dubbed “Suntukan sa Laoag”.

For doing just these things in addition to attending sessions where they are usually benchwarmers and sleepyheads if not perennial absentees, SK officials receive monthly honoraria and other emoluments, privileges and benefits, even free tuition fees in state universities. Continue reading “Abolish it, now!”

The better Kris

KRIS—the better Kris, the sincere Kris, the brilliant Kris, the wonder boy, my valued friend—did not make the cut for the congressional race.

    He fought the good fight, but the people chose someone, and it’s not him. We should see Kris Ablan again in the public sphere. It would be a very big injustice to good government if he does not come back.

200

That, dear karikna, is not the number of yellow shirts I have purchased.  I surmise not even Noynoy Aquino has that many in his wardrobe. Two hundred pesos is the current rate in the vote-buying operations for the first congressional seat in this province.  I have firsthand information that two of the strongest contenders for the post have started special operations as early as the first week of April.

With a strong grip of barangays in Laoag City, one candidate operates through barangay officials who hold a list of registered voters for each household.  Upon payment, a recipient is asked to sign beside his/her name.

Another candidate, who promises a fresh brand of politics, seems to find difficulty veering away from the dark shadows of his old man.  His camp, however, has a more legal way of doing things.  They give allowances of two hundred pesos to every volunteer.  This seems acceptable because candidates really have to take care of their volunteers.  The problem is that just anyone and everyone can be a part of their payroll.  All that you have to do is go to their headquarters and fill out a form.  The result:  some barangays would have hundred, if not thousands, of barangay coordinators.  If this is not circumvention of the law, what is?  Same pig, different collar.

While it does not shock me anymore that this happens in every nook and corner of the archipelago, it disturbs me that it’s not only the poor who accept dirty money from politicians.  Almost everyone now does, and this includes my friends who are professionals, and even those who live comfortable lives.  God, I even have friends who are involved with the election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting who admit to ‘selling’ their votes. Continue reading “200”

Rethinking Marcos

Asiong, a karikna, is confused about my stance about President Marcos.  “I thought you were a Marcosian, you said so in one article, and then you were praising Cory in another post,” he laments.

Riknakem habitue William S. has also delivered an insightful dressing down of Marcos, saying, “I never forget my Ilocano roots in blood and in deed but it looks like we are pushing the envelope too far and too hard.”  He observes a “regionalistic grandstanding of patriotism,” and wonders, too, about my views on the issue.

Let me make clear my points then.

Cory did her best as a transition President, who brought us back to the path of democracy, and who restored the Filipino people’s freedoms. She could have ran for reelection, but she never entertained illusions of grandeur. The yellow lady knew when to step down, one thing Marcos didn’t, and one thing Gloria certainly doesn’t.

Marcos was a great social architect.  I believe that his vision of “Ang Bagong Lipunan” was sincere.  He knew just exactly what he wanted for our country and he had a blueprint on how things can get done. From infrastructure to participatory democracy to Cultural Revolution to educational reforms and values reorientation, Marcos did more than his fair share. Continue reading “Rethinking Marcos”

AY Tungpalan: ‘Legal Thieves’

(The following is a most worthy contribution from Prof. Andres Y. Tungpalan, president of the Federation of Government Employees Associations in Region I. He is also immediate past president of the Philippine National Confederation of Faculty Associations of State Universities and Colleges. He is currently administrative officer of Mariano Marcos State University.  Read on.)

MAN IS BORNE basically out of nothing, but his ingenuity and the dictates of the environment made him aspire for honor, prestige, and, most of all, the material world.

As the election fever yet again turns up within the corner, people aspiring for power, again, can steal the minds and thoughts of the people through the radiance of money and promises, hence, the canny and once munificent and affluent can take again the power and be capable of legitimizing their corrupt practices to perpetuate their unrelenting thirst for power.

Looking at the present scenario, anyone in the society, even the unschooled people, could attest that money alone can buy power but not intellectual capacity, which is supposed to be the dictum. No wonder, political dynasty is a dream that perpetuates to date, not unless a radical transformation of the mind and culture ensues to avert this scenario. In this society, the well-off people are privileged to have access to power and provide overriding authority to illegally acquired wealth and possessions that fuel the authority to monopolize the resources of this country.

Many have been written about some of our legislators and local leaders: how they enrich themselves through illegal means. The CDF derived through taxes of the poor were legally obtained and transfused to their personal accounts through scheming means. Yet, though we declare this a taboo, the practice persists, and has become alluring. Continue reading “AY Tungpalan: ‘Legal Thieves’”

Eloquent Rudy, idealistic Kris, and confused Atong

(L-R) Rudy Fariñas, Kris Ablan, and Atong Peralta photos by Czaryna Zai Mari

I WANTED Teteng Sales to be in the forum sponsored by student journalists of the Divine Word College of Laoag last Feb. 24. The former Pagudpud mayor, who claims he won the congressional race in 2007 over incumbent Roque Ablan Jr., intrigues me. I know so little about his position on issues, and I wanted to validate the general impression that he is an intellectual lightweight.

Apparently, however, he ignored the invitation to the event, the first congressional forum to happen in the province after the filing of certificates of candidacy. According to organizers, Teteng’s camp received the letter of invitation, and no less than his wife Maja was informed of the undertaking, but that they never sent a word, which is worse than begging off.

Former Sarrat Mayor Chito Ruiz was also unable to attend as he was in Manila, but his staff took time to convey the candidate’s regrets.

There was another congressional forum that was supposed to transpire last Feb. 26, the Anti-Kadiri Movement’s Congressional Hour. It was postponed, however, because Gibo’s visit to the province on that day made some personalities unavailable. Leaders of this anti-trapo movement say Teteng has also been ignored them.

This is sad, dear karikna, because candidates owe it to us, the voting public, to explain their stands on matters of public concern. Teteng’s popularity in the past was mainly due to the people’s tiredness of the old Ablan, a traditional politician who has been a fixture in the local political scene for decades. I say this will no longer be enough political capital for Teteng as he now faces four other candidates: Ruiz, Former Congressman/Governor Rudy Fariñas, Board Member Atong Peralta, and Ablan’s son Kris.

Rudy Fariñas was in his usual element. He was eloquent and sharp, an observation shared by Prof. Fides Bitanga, forum moderator. Continue reading “Eloquent Rudy, idealistic Kris, and confused Atong”

Congressional Forum unfolds

THE WILLIAMITE, official publication of Divine Word College of Laoag (DWCL), is holding a congressional forum for contenders in the first district on Feb. 24, Wednesday.  All five candidates—Kris Ablan, Rudy Fariñas, Atong Peralta, Chito Ruiz, and Teteng Sales are expected to participate in this event that will give student leaders, student journalists, professors from different universities in the province, representatives from various sectors, and the general public a chance to discuss salient issues with the contenders.

Only 500 persons can be accommodated at the venue, the newly-opened St. Joseph’s Audtorium at DWCL, so better to make seat reservations should you decide to come.  Contact Jaime Lao, The Williamite’s editor in chief at 09293051987.

Hope you could come, dear karikna, but, if you couldn’t, what questions would you have wanted to ask the candidates?

Michael Keon’s perfect script …and other political tidbits

(This column appears in The Ilocos Times this week.  I quoted some of your comments posted here in this blog so a wider readership can partake in your wisdom.  Keep ’em coming, dear karikna.)


WHOEVER HELPED Governor Michael Marcos Keon (MMK) draft the speech he delivered in his press conference, Feb. 8, must be commended.

First off, it seemed spontaneous.  “Let me speak from my heart,” he said.  And the piece did sound sincere.  As a speechwriter myself, however, I know it was carefully crafted and executed.

He began by relating the series of events that led to his running for reelection as governor opposite his cousin Imee Marcos.  He gave his story, his version of the story, which is very much different from what I heard from Imee in an interview she gave your karikna a couple of weeks back.

Anyway, why they both decided to run does not interest me much.  It’s given, they are both running.  Period.  It’s time to move on.

The best part came when MMK said that although this battle is the hardest one he ever had to face, he will carry on because he is running not as much for winning as it is for finding personal closure.  “I do not want to spend the rest of my life asking myself what the result would have been had I run,” he said, on a very pensive note.

He cast no stones on the person of anyone, and tackled the issues on the level of reason.

How could you, dear karikna, go against a man who is searching for answers in life, and who is holding on to his dignity?

The press conference, broadcast on cable television, was held immediately after Keon’s allies at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan lost the vote on the issue of Tobacco Excise Tax monetization.  Such event provided a very good backdrop to the presscon.  Emotions were high, and the losers were expecting  public sympathy.

The governor’s two children from Australia were there, and so were a number of mayors, to show solid support for MMK.

*****

IMEE is not at all bothered that most of the mayors throw their support to her political opponent.

“Good leadership is not about making the mayors happy.  It’s about making the people happy by serving their interests well,” she said.

Besides, she is confident that some mayors will eventually cross the fence.  “They are just waiting for the right time.”  She explains that these mayors do not want to have their projects derailed and so they are sticking it out with the governor, but only in the meantime.

Let’s see.  As with the past, Balimbing is the fruit of the season. Continue reading “Michael Keon’s perfect script …and other political tidbits”

Politicos should learn from this labandera’s son

Supporters take dela Cruz to a 'victory ride'

HE HAD NO party, no posters, no leaflets, but Jonas Paul B. dela Cruz, a third year Civil engineering student, grabbed an overwhelming win over his three rivals in the Central Student Council (CSC) presidential race at MMSU.

Garnering around one half of the near seven thousand total votes cast in the CSC elections held Feb. 4, Dela Cruz reigned the tabulation boards in most precincts. Aside from his landslide victory at the College of Engineering, his home, where he obtained seventy six percent of the votes, he also won big in other colleges and units.

Seventy-five percent of the total population participated in the polls considered a breakthrough in the history of campus politics for having the most number of political parties and candidates vying for various posts.

Dela Cruz’ closest rival, Bryan A. Corpuz of The 2010 Party, got a 25-percent share of the votes. Gevy Ann R. Villanueva of Tindig MMSU and Reynald Theodore C. Teodoro of Anak ng MMSU had 15 and 12 percent, respectively.

Overwhelmed, Dela Cruz cannot believe the results. He relates that when he filed his candidacy as an independent, some people dismissed him as a nuisance candidate. He said he pursued his candidacy anyway because “students deserve an alternative to politics-as-usual.”

Dela Cruz instantly rose from obscurity to fame when he delivered very heartwarming speeches at campaign rallies. He began by talking about his life, which some listeners described as “pang-Maala-ala mo kaya,” referring to a popular true-to-life drama show on television. Continue reading “Politicos should learn from this labandera’s son”

Kris Ablan

Saramsam Cafe, Laoag City, July 7 (Tue), 6pm.  Kris has undergone a successful Lasik Eye Surgery but continues to wear his glasses because people have difficulty recognizing him sans the spectacles. Interview held while lone bodyguard waited outside.
Saramsam Cafe, Laoag City, July 7 (Tue), 6pm. Kris has undergone a successful Lasik Eye Surgery but continues to wear his glasses because people have difficulty recognizing him sans the spectacles. Interview held while lone bodyguard waited outside.

IT’S BEEN five weeks since I did an interview with the young man, but I have been dilly-dallying on writing about him.

    And it’s not because the congressional-son-cum-Sangguniang-Panlalawigan-member is uninteresting. In fact, Kris is any journalist’s ideal interviewee. He is brilliant, conversant, open, candid, reflexive, and, above all, sincere. He is also sensitive. You can talk to him for hours (in my case three) without ho-hum.

    But then you may say that I am an academic, and, being such, I can stand long conversations even with the nerd of nerds with the thickest spectacles ranting with nosebleed-inducing jargon. Maybe so, but not quite. Continue reading “Kris Ablan”

Laoag dads dignify ‘palakasan’, adopt Mikey Arroyo as son

mikey_arroyoJUAN MIGUEL “MIKEY” MACAPAGAL ARROYO, eldest child of the most distrusted president in Philippine history, was recently declared by the Laoag City council as an adopted son of the city.

Based on a news report written by Dominic Dela Cruz and published inconspicuously in an inside page (meaning: treated as a story of little significance) in last week’s issue of the Ilocos Times, city officials explain that the resolution “seeks to recognize Arroyo’s assistance to the marginalized sector of the city through his endorsement of their medical cases to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) which in turn granted medical and social services to the needy constituents of the city”.

The sponsor of the said resolution is Laoag Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president and city council ex-officio member Chevylle V. Fariñas, who is strongly convinced of Arroyo’s worthiness of said recognition.

According to the feng shui-guided Fariñas, also the city’s first lady, the PCSO would not have denied the people’s request but that the Pampanga solon’s recommendation—being a son of the President of the Republic—made it easier and faster (emphasis mine) for those who need help to be granted their requests. Continue reading “Laoag dads dignify ‘palakasan’, adopt Mikey Arroyo as son”

(un)Quotable quote

mayor-michael-farinas

“Now, whatever they [critics] say, let it be. I hear it on my left ear and I let it go out on my other ear.”

-Laoag City Mayor Michael V. Fariñas, referring to the critics of his Rang-ay ti Barangay program, wherein city officials go to every barangay to conduct consultation and socialization with the folks.


I personally believe that the Rang-ay program is well-intentioned, but something is ironic with the statement coming from a person who projects himself as a believer in dialogue. While feedback is an important element in a democracy, a man who hears unfavorable comments on one ear and lets them go out through the other (without mention of any processing that goes in the gray matter in between), only fuels more speculations on the sincerity of his acts.


The mayor could have said it this way, “I respect my critics’ opinions, which I have given enough thought and consideration. But after carefully weighing the issues, I remain deeply convinced of the importance of the program, and in the interest of service I decide to carry on.”


But this is so ideal. I concede that when the pidit-pidit (earlobe) gets oh-so-hot, we say things we don’t really mean… or mean things we don’t actually say.

Obama finally calls up Malacañang

obama_on_phone

After ignoring Malacañang for quite a while (leading to the hallucination of Eduardo Ermita), US President Barack Obama finally calls.  With a warm and jovial voice, he says…

May I speak with that small-but-great Filipina who is the pride of all Filipinos?

(The Philippine president goes kilig-to-the-bones, blushes, and then uses her phone’s loudspeaker so everybody, including the media, could hear the conversation.)

Continue reading “Obama finally calls up Malacañang”

Budding Sociologists tackle the laoagcentralissue

 

Young Ilocano Sociologists at work
Young Ilocano Sociologists at work

INSTEAD of submitting tired academic papers, my students in Sociology of Development are working on a blog (http://laoagcentralissue.wordpress.com).

Using the sociological lens, the blog tackles the complex issues that surround the construction of a mall in downtown Laoag.

My students’ zest in posting entries there is fueled not only of their aspirations for high marks, but more so of their desire to generate intelligent and enlightened discussion on the implications of the mall project to development.

Continue reading “Budding Sociologists tackle the laoagcentralissue”

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. ###