Now, the book

“Since reading Herdz’s 2000 essay on the problem of being ‘Filipino,’ I knew that a progressive radical writer was in the making, someone who would challenge the herd mentality of our time. The essays in this volume attest to a worthy successor of the great subversive Filipino intellectual, Isabelo de los Reyes, also nurtured in Herdz’s homeground. Accessible and provocative, Herdz’s writing is sure to blast open closed minds to the winds of change.  I welcome Yumul’s intervention into the bloody arena of our society undergoing tumultuous upheavals, hopefully advancing toward the day of national-democratic liberation.”  E. San Juan, Jr., Social Philosopher

Herdy Yumul  was one of my students—he is bright, brooding, and sensitive. I can assure you that he is not a fool.  I am glad we have young people like him who can write with tremendous courage. We may disagree with him, but we cannot fault the depth of his feelings.

Is this how we train budding sociologists in UP?  We train our students to be critical of their surroundings as well as to be responsible for their actions.  We want them to live with hope rather than wallow in despair.  If the boldness of our ideas is what it takes to remain hopeful, then I would encourage it – as I would encourage you very much to engage Herdy Yumul’s insights into the Filipino condition.  Randy David, Sociologist

Naghagis si Herdy Yumul ng tanong na ayaw marinig ng lahat.  Nag-umpisa sa isang article sa dyaryo, umikot sa Internet, umabot sa isang programa sa TV, at ngayon nasa libro. Binagabag ng simpleng tanong ang mga Pilipino.  Baka gusto mo ring itanong sa sarili mo.  Bob Ong, author, Bakit Baligtad Magbasa ng Libro ang mga Pilipino?

Komiks at mga tabloid lang dati ang binabasa ko, pero nang makabasa ako ng essay ni Herdy La. Yumul, naging fan niya ako kaagad. Seryoso ang mga topic niya pero nakakaaliw ang pagtatalakay.  Malalim ang mga kaisipan ngunit simple ang lenggwahe. Hindi man mataas ang pinag-aralan mo, puwede mo siyang basahin. Mararamdaman mong may paggalang at malasakit siya sa’yo. Para lang siyang nakikipagkuwentuhan sa isang kaibigan.  Feeling ko nga, bespren ko na siya.  Boy de Jesus, security guard

Herdy fits into the whole continuum from cool as in “Provincial Bliss” where he details his decision to come home to Ilocos, to furious as in “Brilliant Agca, Stupid Quezon” where he rescues a fledgling affronted.  Straightforward and unabashed, he shows unflinching courage to challenge authority and conventions, but within the parameters of dignity and taste.  The motorcycling Herdy with the mandatory helmet has, in the past ten years, hit the road to becoming the young Ilokano blood who wields trilingual writing prowess and finesse.  With The He(a)rd Mentality, he arrives, and with much success.  Alegria Tan Visaya, Chief, Center for Ilokano-Amianan Studies, Mariano Marcos State University

He was not simply teaching you the works of his idols, he was showing you what he thought about them. He was not only asking you questions on how much you know about the topic, but he also wanted to see how much you’ve thought about it. He thrived on thoughts and ideas, not only those of his inception, but also from everyone around him. He magnifies even the simplest of ideas, scrutinizes it, then arpeggiates it to the point where all nuances are validated or rejected, never shelved. That is his profound effect on me. That is the power the immutable Sir Herdy so generously brings to the He(a)rd.  Marc delos Reyes, an “immensely cheesy, beer-loving” former student of La. Yumul

I first took note of Herdy Yumul when someone forwarded a blog he wrote for the Internet, questioning the value of being a Filipino, and the logic of believing in God.  I was fascinated by the way he wrote, having journeyed along the same path during the early course of my life.  In a way I considered him a twin-soul.  Of him may be said, as Carlos P. Romulo once said of me when I was his age, “In the manner of the celebrated dramatist, Eugene Ionesco, he does not stop asking questions, a supreme quality which is characteristic of an engaging and living mind.  And in the questions he asks, we are able to perceive the glimmer of the significance of the human effort in our own society and time.”

I valued the quality of his mind enough to devote a series of broadcasts to answer the questions he asked, all in all, in 24 pages of text and three weeks of daily broadcasts on radio DWBR-fm and television UNTV, recently included in Chapter 8 of my latest book, Make My Day Book 25, Heaven and Hell.

I know for a fact that our dialogue which continued in subsequent telephone conversations, has profoundly influenced his mind (and mine) and made him a true believer in the destiny of the Filipino people, and in the existence and goodness of God. Hilarion “Larry” Henares, Jr., past chairman, National Museum of the Philippines

Sana’y puwede ako–at ang marami pang iba–na mag-enrol sa Herdiology–mukhang maraming mapupulot sa kursong iyon.  Jess Santiago, poet and songwriter

Yosi. Laklak. SanMig.  Epal.  Astig. Dedma.  As a Filipino living in the states for the past forty years, I would not have known what these words meant if not for one writer I have followed more than any other. Herdy Yumul—an eclectic mix of spunk and diplomacy, of the profound and of the profane—educates and reeducates me on my noble roots.  Lolita Chestnut, New Hampshire, USA

It is in his seemingly mundane everyday experiences that Herdy draws out a treasure trove of discussion points about Filipinoness. He needs no complicated quantitative analysis to draw out certain realities that make us who we are. His life is the big social experiment where what is commonsensical to many of us (in our haste to escape the moment) is magnified under his sociologist’s eye and stripped layer after layer to expose what kind of social animals we are. And in so doing, to render who he is in a dignified attempt at self-reflexivity.  Alona Ureta Guevarra, Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University

As a writer, Herdy’s loyalty is to writing itself.  The 55 essays in The He(a)rd Mentality will comfort and unsettle the author’s readers, order and re-order their beliefs and advocacies, and offer them a tentative perspective while they’re looking for one.  I expect the readers to find in his humor the highest level of thinking (In Herdy’s San Beda College it was called philosophizing) that is written in excellent prose.  Jose Ma. Arcadio Malbarosa, Department of Political Science, De La Salle University

Pinilit ako ng mga magulang ko na mag-enrol ng Nursing.  Ayaw ko talaga ng kursong ‘yun pero wala akong magawa.  Naging magulo ang utak ko at tinangka ko pang magpakamatay. Nu’ng mabasa ko ang mga sanaysay ni Sir Herdy, nabigyan ako ng lakas at pag-asa, sinunod ko ang tibok ng aking puso at nagpasyang maging malaya.  Naglayas ako at pumasok sa isang paaralan ng musika.  Op kors, nagalit at nag-alala sina ermats, pero naunawaan din nila ako, at ibinilhan pa nila ako ng astig na gitara. Sana’y marami pang mga kabataang tulad ko ang maalalayan ni Sir Herdy, and idolo kong bagama’t hindi tumutugtog, ay isang tunay na rakista.   Power to the pipol, mga kuto!  Rock and roll!  Vincent Jose, Musikero

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.


I FINALLY agreed, dear karikna, to pursue what well-meaning friends and readers have been prodding me to do:  write a book.

I made the decision the other week when I opened our refrigerator and saw my newspaper column wrapped around a bundle of Saluyot.  I asked mom why, she said it was, anyway, from an old issue.

Even with the amounts of time, and energy, and sanity that go with writing a regular weekly column, I have always known that yesterday’s paper is today’s junk, and there was no way I would have been so sensitive and felt offended.  Still, not unlike in a melodramatic soap opera, memories came flashing back because of that incident.  I remembered how many hours of sleep I missed to meet deadlines.  The cups of coffee downed, and the many bottles of SanMig Light I gulped to reward myself for articles that I was particularly happy with.

I recalled one time when I hit the keyboard while a nasty typhoon pounded the city.  Because my laptop ran only on battery, I had to adjust the screen to its dimmest, and to my eyes’ protestations, so that the power would last.  And then there were times when internet access would be faulty, and, aboard my good old bicycle, I would brave the rains or the scorching heat, to find a computer shop with a working connection so I can transmit my work.

But the most difficult part lies in determining what to write.  There were countless moments when I would stare blankly on the screen, trying to balance, not with ease, the varying interests of a wide range of readers.  There are those who would complain when I write about local issues, which they cannot relate to because they are not from Ilocos.  But then, how could I be significant as a writer if my essays are so not-here?  I see things in the locality, and I get affected by issues in the community.  How can I not write about them?

The big challenge, I realized, is in striking a balance, a synthesis.  The order of the day is to show how the issues we face as Ilocanos are  not remote and isolated, but are rather inevitably linked with the struggles of the Filipino people, and with the sojourn of humankind. Continue reading “Book”

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”

Seeing through the poverty line

(This is an article written by Stanley Palisada of ABS-CBN.  Your karikna was interviewed as one of six resource persons across the nation.)

MANY FILIPINOS are really sick and tired of being poor in pocket, in spirit and in association. Presidential aspirants spouting off promises to end poverty should think twice about using campaign lines that patronize Filipino misery. To a growing number of voters, such a campaign is insulting and debasing, to say the least.

Beyond sympathy for the poor or association with poverty, provincial voters now look for substance from their candidates.

“Think twice,” says U.P. Visayas Political Science Professor Joseph Loot, who believes promises to ease poverty and coming up with concrete solutions to eradicate poverty are like night and day and provincial voters know the difference.

“Our candidates just keep filibustering on poverty but they are not acting on it,” says Loot. “None of the presidential or vice presidential candidates have really addressed it.”

Although we have not fully matured as an electorate, it now takes more than a promise to end poverty to get the votes. Poverty as a campaign thrust may even be a futile advertising exercise because voters already know that many of today’s presidential aspirants do not have a track record of alleviating poverty while they were senators or congressmen. “We’re basically looking at the same dogs wearing different collars,” says Loot.

Candidates have to come up with a better campaign line, especially those seeking re-election or aspiring for the presidency. Whatever it is– it should be refreshing and unique, if they are to spark renewed interest among the provincial electorate. Continue reading “Seeing through the poverty line”

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?”