Sunday, May 31, 2009

Foolishness Revisited

As I have passed the 150th mark of my entry to this blog and still enjoying the aftershocks of the Mamburao mass action last Wednesday (click here to view video documentation), in retrospect, allow me to post an old article from my column “Third Yoke”, the first English article that I have written in a local newspaper called Mindoro Guardian in 1996 entitled “Foolish Solution”:

“Mababago lang natin ang ating lipunan kung papatayin natin ang lahat ng tao at ang ititira lang natin ay ang mga batang wala pang muwang na siyang bubuo sa bagong matitinong henerasyon”. (We can only change our society if we kill all grown-ups and create a new generation of human beings.) Statements to this effect irritate me like hell.

That desperate notion of annihilating a specific age bracket of our population as the ONLY way to create a new social set-up, values and consciousness towards social transformation, is no longer a strange proposition to some of us. It is the common “solution” being laid by some self-proclaimed social critics on every misguided and immature discussions in our midst.

Modesty aside, my long experience in community works in the barrios have prompted me to find out that this one heck of a foolish idea is oftentimes being initiated and propagated by equally foolish men themselves. Including some local politicians that I know.

Yes, I am personally considering it as foolish, if not demonic “solution”. Simply because that it is un-Godly and inhuman. It is precisely against life, God’s presence and most divine present to the world. Besides we are no longer living in a world of savagery, so to speak, and I’ll bet my whole life that there will be no single existing government (shadow or legitimate) today in the world would formally propose and/or agree to this uncivilized, bloody and barbaric resort. However alarming their social problems may be. However brutal and oppressive are their social structures.

Please take note that even immortal Utopian authors like Robert Owen and Thomas Moore did not even utter such “non compos mentis”. And it that is the case, so what is the use of proposing or insinuating a not only illegal and immoral, but most of all,- impossible “solution”.

The moment our people’s mind is corrupted by this concept as the only and “end-all solution” to all our social problems as people of Mindoro Occidental, there will grow a negative tendency inside us of not getting or be committed to any realistic, practical and humane alternative or course of action. And accepting this mental conditioning in our consciousness is tantamount to saying that there’s NOTHING we can do, individually or collectively to change our presently deteriorating systems and values. This would nurture passive and submissive spirit among our youth. With this, our hero’s examples would eventually land in a dust bin. Knock on wood.

Likewise, this would only affirm our misconception that social change solely lies in the hands of our leaders and not to the whole citizenry. Moreover, believing in this foolish “solution” is a clear indication of our hopelessness, whether we admit it or not. But spreading this foolish “solution” kills all hope.

End of my old article.

But in parting, again I would like to share a part of the homily of Benedict XVI three years ago at St. Peter’s Square: “ The People of God, which had found its first configuration in Sinai, extends today to the point of surmounting every barrier of race, culture, space and time. As opposed to what occurred with the tower of Babel (cf. Gn 11: 1-9), when people wanted to build a way to heaven with their hands and ended up by destroying their very capacity of mutual understanding, in Pentecost the Spirit, with the gift of tongues, demonstrates that his presence unites and transforms confusion into communion.” Indeed the tower of Babel became the symbol of man’s greatest foolishness!

To all Mindorenyos around the world, let us all keep the Torch of Hope Alive as we celebrate today the Pentecost Sunday.

"Veni, Sancte Spiritus!”…

(Photo from SSC File)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Political Frogs

Korina Sanchez’ groom-to-be, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas III, an aspiring President of the republic,- recently called the fresh merger of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino o KAMPI as Palaka (Frog) an acronym he coined for Partidong Lakas-Kampi. Roxas even added that the so-called marriage was just a union of “trapos” (traditional politicians). But I prefer to call it “reunion” (Yes, you’ve guessed it right,-of frogs!) rather than “union”.

But what’s really in store for Occidental Mindoro? Will that merger be felt locally? Are we also expecting the groups of Governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato and the conjugal tandem of Jose T. Villarosa and his wife Rep. Ma. Amelia C. Villarosa, kiss each other’s cheek and ultimately join forces before 2010? If your answer is “yes”, tell that to the marines.

Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, a seasoned politician has this opinion : “In the provinces, cities and towns, it would be difficult because Lakas has members and Kampi also has members. They all have ambitions, so for sure, they will squabble in the elections. The party will surely weaken.” And I believe the old man. That merger, in my humble opinion,- will self destruct at the local level even before top party honchos in Manila hit the ignition button.

And don’t forget,- if I may repeat, the way politics is being practiced here is as venomous as the giant Mexican leaf frog!

We are all familiar with the Asian fable called “Little Frog in a Well”. It is a story of a little frog who lived in a well but ultimately was able to see things outside of that hole. Remember the scene towards the end of the story? Nope? So, Here it is : "The outside world is so big, so wonderful, and beautiful!" The Little Frog finally cried out happily and jumped into the pond. He climbed up on a huge lotus leaf and enjoyed his new life there.

The little frog told his sparrow friend, "If you had not brought me out to see this world, I would never had known that there are such beautiful things that exist outside my well." And the Little Frog never tried to go back to his old well again. “Natututo na siya”. (He learned his lessons)

So, from thereon, the term “Frog in a Well” used to describe a situation or individual who cannot or refuses to see the big picture because of being sheltered and/or closed minded.

Friends, our political world is much bigger than the present political well that imprisons us. There is more life over this well and the world is lovelier outside this God-forsaken situation.

Let us climb and go out and be free like frogs in a field. Be a learned toad instead of a captive frog!...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beginner's Luck?

My people have already spoken against Intex Resources, Philippines, Inc.,- the prime mover of the anti-environment and anti-people Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP). Most of them are beginners in such mass action or protests, specifically the youth.

No less than the Bishop of Occidental Mindoro, His Excellency Antonio P. Palang, SVD,DD and the rest of his clergy, some nuns, along with Local Government Unit (LGU) employees, legislators and barangay officials headed by Mayor Eric Constantino of Abra De Ilog and Mayor Godofredo Mintu together with Vice-Mayor Eduardo Gadiano of Sablayan including Mangyan leaders from the Pantribung Samahan sa Kanlurang Mindoro (PASAKAMI) headed the more or less 5,000 anti-mining participants in a mass action held in the capital town of Mamburao last May 27, 2009. PO and NGO members of anti-mining coalition called KAAGAPAY and lay leaders from different Church organizations from northern part Saint Joseph Parish in Paluan, down to Good Shepherd Parish in Magsaysay in the south, significantly took part in the activity.

Said anti-mining groups came to Mamburao to attend the Public Consultation earlier scheduled up by the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR. Intex was able to mobilize more than 1,000 pro-mining participants inside the Mamburao Municipal Gymnasium yesterday. It was obvious that Intex financially shouldered the affair and practically took charge of the whole consultation process which is supposedly EMB-DENR’s role as the prime government agency mandated to protect the environment or atleast be independent in its process. So, food and beverages,- packed lunch, tetra-packed juice and bottled water, flowed like the elegant Amnay River to the pro-miners, while the anti-mining groups were not permitted to enter in the venue. Around 50 uniformed soldiers and policemen were at the gate and elsewhere. They were in full battle gear. Also utilized were 2 fire trucks, 2 mobile cars and an army truck.

But what is the Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA? Every development project needs an EIA. Department Administrative Order (DAO) 37 states that the EIA’s objective, procedure, and other structures and procedures. Community participation is also stipulated in DAO 37, which states that the objectives of the EIA is to enhance maximum public participation in the EIA process and to validate the social acceptability of the undertaking (read: project) so as to ensure the fullest consideration of the environmental project. If public participation principle is at the very core of the Environmental Impact System (EIS), why the consultation appeared exclusive only to pro-miners?

Msgr. Ruben Villanueva, Vicar General of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, initially tried to question the process but to no avail. Nobody from the delegation of the anti-mining groups inside the gymnasium were allowed to talk except for Mayors Mintu and Constantino. At the gate, the priests were still blocked until Vice-Governor Mario Gene J. Mendiola, Board Members Roderick Q. Agas, Arnold T. Abeleda and Damaso G. Abeleda II confronted the lawmen and only then the group was allowed to enter the municipal compound.

In his speech at the public consultation, Mendiola expressed the objection of the Provincial Board to the conduct of the Public Consultation specified in their Resolution No. 63 dated 26 May 2009 and was approved and adopted on the same date by Provincial Governor Josephine Y. Ramirez-Sato. The Board Resolution is “self-explanatory”: “Expressing the objection of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Occidental Mindoro to the Public Consultation on the Mindoro Nickel Project scheduled on the 27th May 2009 in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro..” The Resolution was grounded on the motion of Agas, Chairman of the Committee on Local Government in their session last May 25, 2009. Late in the late the afternoon when majority of the participants held a march in Sta. Cruz which started in front of the Municipal Building to Holy Cross Parish Compound. No program was held there.

Here are the reasons cited by the SP from Resolution No. 63: “… as the project is within the territorial jurisdiction of the municipalities of Sablayan and Sta. Cruz, it is deemed more appropriate to hold public consultation in Sablayan or Sta. Cruz and NOT in Mamburao …; this Body DID NOT receive any information from EMB-DENR regarding said issue and the invitation being sent DIRECTLY by Intex..; the time allotted for the open forum is ONLY 30 minutes which is INADEQUATE….” (Emphasis mine-NAN).

While in the middle of Intex presentation, the anti-mining groups walked out. The rally (cum consultation) participants marched from the venue to the nearby compound of Our Lady of the Pillar Parish and conducted a program at the back of the convent. Mendiola assured the participants that the SP, upon advise of Governor Sato, is immediately going to craft an ordinance declaring a mining moratorium in the province. He and the rest of the SP members who were with us received an “standing ovation” from the triumphant, agitated, and lively crowd.

Hopeful words (from politicians) that bring hope and relief,- even temporary, just like the Acacia trees that gave us shades from the heat of the sun that noon. On that very day when my people’s little but historic triumph and victory unfolds. But we went home last Wednesday keeping in mind that this was just a beginning…

(Photo from SSC File)

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Matanglawin" and the MNP

My two girls,- Tutay,14 and Pipay, 5 are avid viewers of “Matanglawin”(Falcon’s Eye) every Sunday at around 11:00 AM. “Matanglawin” is a magazine show over ABS-CBN Channel-2 hosted by (Kuya) Kim Atienza. Tutay loves the show because it's very informative and it features interesting topics in the field of science, art, practical life and almost anything under the sun. In fact, the show won several awards including the 22nd Star Awards for Television where Kuya Kim won the Best Educational Program Host for “Matanglawin” and the latter was named Best Educational Program; the 17th KBP Golden Dove Awards - Best Science and Technology Program and Best Magazine Program; and the 2008 Anak TV Seal Awards.

And I joined my two daughters to watch the show yesterday,- May 24, 2009, and the topic was about Greenhouse Effect. Tutay tried to impress me and attempted to “lecture” during commercial breaks. She laid important facts, especially the dangers contributable to Greenhouse Effect. Almost imitating her Science teacher she, in effect, emphasized the following:“Those gas molecules in the Earth's atmosphere with three or more atoms are called "greenhouse gases" because they can capture outgoing infrared energy from the Earth, thereby warming the planet ...”

Indeed, trees act as a carbon sink by removing the carbon from CO2 and storing it as cellulose in the trunk while releasing the oxygen back into the air. A healthy tree stores about 13 pounds of carbon annually-or 2.6 tons per acre per year. So, no doubt that trees lessen the dangers of Greenhouse Effect. No doubt that mining brings massive cutting of trees that would lead to forest denudation. We, in Occidental Mindoro are now beginning to experience not only the dangers of Green House Effect but also the evils of “Green Bucks Effect” that is more rampant today in our province. Some of our local politicians are allegedly enjoying the latter.

“Tatay po ba ni Kim Atienza si Lito Atienza?” (Is Kim Atienza a son of Lito Atienza?) She is referring to Joselito L. Atienza, the current Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR. “Oo.” (Yes), I told Tutay. Alejandro “Kim” Atienza served as councilor of the City of Manila for 3 consecutive terms before he went on TV.

In a report from Philippine Star dated 20 March 2009 stated that Secretary Atienza,- Kuya Kim’s father, has approved the application of Intex Resources Philippines, the prime mover of the Mindoro Nickel Project or MNP, for a mineral production sharing agreement for its project in Mindoro Occidental, said Geosciences Bureau director Horacio Ramos.

The Mining Act of 1995 or the RA 7942 gives the foreign mining investor generous benefits to guarantee their profitability. To ensure their unhampered mining operations, these foreign firms cloaked by the Mining Act will be given TIMBER rights (read: right to cut trees), water rights, easement rights and entry into private lands and concession areas. When these rights are granted to Intex Resources Philippines, what is left to us who inhabit in Occidental Mindoro? What will happen to our flora and fauna or all the living creatures in our island?

... All the living things that are protected,- on and off camera, by the popular TV host considered by many as Steve Irwin of the Philippines.

(Logo of "Matanglawin" grabbed from

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Big Rally Against Intex

Somebody handed me a Press Release a while ago from Fr. Edwin Gariguez of the Mangyan Mission of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan and Mr. Jeff Rafa of Alyansa Laban sa Mina or ALAMIN entitled “Biggest Rally Stops Public Hearing for Intex Resources” and here’s its big chop that I want to share:

Pola, Oriental Mindoro (May 14, 2009) – A public hearing for the proposed Mindoro Nickel Project of Intex Resources, Philippines, Inc. planned in Pola, Oriental Mindoro was not able to even start due to the intervention of the Provincial Legal Officer, Atty. Lorabelle M. Tanyag, Vice Governor Estela Alarcon and a crowd of officials from the local government units (LGUs) including the municipal mayors Alfredo Ortega of Victoria Oriental Mindoro, and Godofredo Mintu of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, serving the Cease and Desist Order imposing the mining moratorium of the province together with the environmentalists and priests.

Atty. Tanyag, in her letter addressed to Mr. Julian D. Amador, Director of Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Natural Resources (DENR), manifested the Provincial Government’s “non-negotiable and irrevocable opposition against all forms of mining activities,” as provided in the Section 3 of the Provincial Ordinance No. 001-2002. The Cease and Desist Order states that the intended public hearing is considered as an act preparatory to mining activity, and therefore prohibited act under the ordinance.

Representative from Intex Resources tried to disregard the order by defending the legal mandate of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, as prescribed by P.D. 1586, and DENR AO No. 30 Series of 2003, governing the said activity.

However, the LGU representatives, the big crowd that have gathered from different towns, holding anti-mining placards streamers have prevailed. The pro-mining supporters of the project that were already seated waiting for the hearing to start were caught flatfooted by surprise.

The anti-mining delegation came in a caravan of vehicles, deemed by many as the longest ever in the history of the province. The total number of vehicles, according to estimate of Philippine National Police (PNP), numbered to about 200 with almost 7,000 anti-mining people in attendance.

Calling the Provincial Government of Occidental Mindoro,-our governor, and legislators, please legislate and enact a province-wide moratorium on all forms of mining so we could issue the same Cease and Desist Order. Just like the one issued by your counterparts in the other half of our beloved island. Please.

So that like Vice-Governor Estela Aceron, we could fearlessly declare: “We are ready to go at all cause to implement and enforce our moratorium ordinance against mining,”. And if our neighbors can, why can’t we?…

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shooting A Star?

I just came from a three-day vacation the other day. And it is my first time to have a bus ride from Cubao, Quezon City to San Jose. The bus-riding public,- the usual travelers and commuters from Occidental Mindoro to Metro-Manila, told me to try this bus because it is so convenient and we really deserve this kind of transport service. But operationally and legally, there are glitches that are still need to be patched up by the proprietors. The bus company is being protested by some competitors who are allegedly backed-up by a certain influential local politician.

Dimple Star Bus Corporation is owned by Hilbert S. Napat of Muntinlupa City. According to my source, the owner is financially capable to operate such public utility vehicle in our province. In fact, it has been his business for a very considerable period of time. Napat allegedly has a good track record in the business for,- under a different franchises, his previous companies had been authorized by the LTFRB or the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. There are ten (10) units plying to said route. A Dimple Star bus instantly became the “superstar” of our rocky and hell-like roads!

On March 26, 2009, Dimple Star had its maiden voyage in Occidental Mindoro and my townspeople are so happy and glad about this development. But that was just momentarily. Its operation was stopped early this month only to resume after three days or so. I was informed by our driver and his crew last Friday that,- again, they are facing the same problem so it’s going to be their last trip. The Dimple Star Bus Corporation was given a Certificate of Public Conveniences to Operate PUB (RORO) Service by virtue of the LTFRB’s (Board) Resolution to Case No. 2008-2206. The Resolution is valid for a period of five (5) years. In short, as I see it, the company is operating legally. Not to mention how the riding public appreciate very much its presence. Cheap (only PhP 950.00), convenient and DIRECT travel, what more can you ask for?

But why are we so nuts about a big air-conditioned bus when we travel to Metro-Manila? I do not want to elaborate on this. But to satisfy your curiousity, ask a friend from (or anybody who tried to travel by bus in) Occidental Mindoro and ask him/her how hard it is to commute via “transfers” from our province to Metro Manila and vice versa. Or why not try it your self? I’m giving you a free accommodation if you are lucky enough to get to San Jose…. in one piece and your spirit intact in your body!

The direct boat (RORO) trip from Batangas to San Jose and vice versa had been part of history for so long. The Caminawit Port, specially its docking area had been unserviceable for almost a year now. Why? Ask our politicians, the tree cutters and loggers,- both illegal and legal, anybody from Montenegro Shipping Lines, the riding public, the stevedores, the truckers, our local businessmen,- big and small; and you will get different answers and alibis from each one of them. You will be confused even more. Heck.

The creation of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway is one of the few projects of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that I admire. The presence of bus companies like the Dimple Star allows transportation alternatives, convenience to the riding public, enhance accessibility to tourism areas and improve inter-regional trade including commodity exchange, and, based on my recent experience last Friday, it significantly decreased travel time. But I am not promoting here the Dimple Star Bus Company per se. It doesn’t matter to us, commuters, the name of the bus or the owner of the company as long as they are legal. And if I may add, not owned by politicians who tries to manipulate all of the major businesses in Occidental Mindoro. Remember what Deng Xiao Peng once said?, “It doesn’t matter what is the color of the cat, as long as it catches mice..” But here in my province, the greedy bus operators catches not mice but a lot of money and the politicians want to catch many votes and power, and influence as possible.

For all of them, instead of threatening your competitors, why not make their presence an opportunity to grind your ax? Improve your service and the people will surely support you. Be it in business, be it in politics. Let us make this issue,- the transport service, a concern in 2010...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Airborne Deception

There are at least two local radio stations in our area that are airing infomercials produced and financed by the Intex Resources, the prime mover of the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP) in the whole island of Mindoro. I first heard of the infomercial last Sunday while the world celebrates Mothers Day. It was a point blank insult aimed at Mother Earth. Sad.

The infomercials carry a catchphrase to this effect : “Ang kailangan lamang ay ang inyong pagsang-ayon. Ikaw at ang Intex, magkabalikat sa pagpapaunlad ng Mindoro” (“All we need is your approval. Intex, your partner in development”.) They are mini-drama presentations of alleged job opportunities and other promises for the progress for Mindorenyos to be brought by said mining company here in our province. I just hope that the materials will be pulled out of the air the soonest possible time.

In a paper presented by Eunice C. Novio, my cousin (ehem..), in her Master of Arts in Women and Development at University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, entitled “Women and Mining : A Struggle to Defend Our Land” on Intex she stated that, “With the company’s vision of “responsible mining and development in focus”, Intex claimed that theirs is the most environmentally safe type of mining.” Indeed MNP is listed as of the Philippine Government’s priority mineral project. The author even stated further that, “As of January 2008, there were 92 mining applications in Mindoro according to Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENRs) Mines and Geosciences Bureau or MGB. This includes exploration on petroleum and natural gas. From 1995, six Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) covering a total of 474,336 hectares or 33% of the whole Mindoro Island.”

In the infomercials that are now invading the air like the dreaded A(H1N1) pandemic, certain techniques called Suggestion and Autosuggestion and Persuasion were employed. The first technique is the implanting of a psychological, spontaneous reaction where the listener is moved by an idea that is almost hypnotic in character. Persuasion is a persistent reaching out of the feelings of a person that are attacked by a series of effective motivations sometimes conscious, but which do carry little logic even when presented as reasons. It is a persistent appeal to feelings of listeners. Thus, infomercials like these consist of pseudo-development messages that lead to development aggression where the pursuit of economic development of rural communities and environment are hindered.

Please note that there are local politicians who control our local media institutions and personalities. These personalities became instruments of power that mirror our power structure and of course, to primarily safeguard the interests of their bosses and patrons.

Indeed, the lifeblood of media is advertising. Hence apart from media owners,- advertisers such as Intex Resources, exert a powerful influence on its content and bias. To give you some figures on how much are spent in radio advertising,in 1997,if I may add,- PhP 20 billion were allotted to media advertising and 16.5% of which are for radio, the most cost efficient medium. But another major determinant of media content is media’s commercial orientation. They prefer revenue over ecological concerns.

History has proven that information has the ability to democratize power and wealth. Once power is distributed, the rich and the powerful few are less likely to get the opportunity to take whatever they want from the masses. Including our young and talented local media practitioners. Moreover, information can liberate people from poverty and social injustice. Thus, it can emasculate “powers-that-be” and it can surely empower the grassroots.

How? In my humble opinion, the answer lies in the establishment of non-aligned community owned Community Based Radio or CBR. This CBR must capture and represent the stand point communities as against those of a few vested interest groups, or rich or influential families or even eering media practitioners. It would contribute to the redistribution of power and the dismantling of structural imbalances. According to the book entitled “Taking Hold of the Rural Radio”(pp. 27) Fr. Francis Lucas hast this to emphasize, “Access to media is access only to information. But access to the power of media is access to life.”

With this, our CBR would uphold culture of life, therefore will stand against the Mindoro Nickel Project!...

(SSC File Photo taken by Reynaldo D. San Jose)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our Mothers

Today, May 10, 2009,- the whole world celebrate and pay tribute to the person who gave birth to us and molded us to become what we are today : our biological mothers. And here in my province, our representative to the Philippine Congress and our governor are both women and therefore civil and political “mothers” to us, their constituents.

The Philippine presidents from Emilio Aguinaldo to Ferdinand Marcos, the governors from Damaso Abeleda (1950) to Pedro Medalla, Jr. (1988) and representatives from Jesus V. Abeleda (1951) to Mario Gene Mendiola (1987) are all men. Those were the times when Occidental Mindoro political scene was dominated by male politicians until such time when these two women came into the picture : Josephine Ramirez-Sato and Ma. Amelita C. Villarosa. Not to mention the most powerful mother of our country, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

I felt hopeful seeing them occupied the two top provincial posts that year. Our province, at least from my own point of view, was in a mess in the hands of men. Our political and civic “fathers” have failed us. Poor road condition and health services, poverty, agricultural problems, etc., are everywhere, specially in the grassroots or upland communities.

I hate to say this but those things are STILL prevalent today in this part of the island with our three “mothers” around. I maybe wrong but this is how I see the present situation. Now, who says that all mothers are good at cleaning up messes?

Mothers (I mean the real ones), like yours and mine,.. are good at messes and the messes they clean up are not their doing and that makes it so exemplary and great. In his article at entitled “Why Mothers Would Make Good Politicians”, a certain Rev. James L. Snyder has pointed out: “By her very nature, a mother is always thinking about others. Rarely does she take any time for her own personal pursuits. Other people come before her interest and comfort. Wouldn't that be a wonderful trait in some politician? Instead of always thinking about reelection and what can get him reelected, he begins to think about other people and their needs.” But that is not our case. Was it because our "mothers" are fulltime politicians and only part time housewives or housekeepers?

But let us not only blame our two civil and political “mothers”. As their “sons and daughters” we are partly to blame. We deserve the politicians that we have,- regardless of gender, for we continue to vote for them and their relatives and political family to power. For we vote based on personalities and not on issues. For making our mouth do all the job, consequently making it dirty thus keeping our hands so clean and bright. Let us join hands and make those hands dirty by cleaning the mess,- by doing the household chores up to 2010 and beyond. And hopefully all political "mothers" may become source of inspiration and role models to all of us, their "children"...

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

(Photo: SSC File. My apologies for posting this picture again..)

Friday, May 8, 2009

One Flesh, One Life

The social life among the Hanunuo Mangyans living in southern part of Mindoro island centers on the family. The girls marry at an early age, unlike this friend of mine. During courtship, the groom-to-be convinces his future bride of his intentions through reciting an “ambahan” (a short Mangyan poem) and in between, he plays his small guitar called “subing”. The wedding planners are both parents and the dowry is decided by both of them. The actual rite is very brief but the highlights are advises and admonitions given by the “magdadaniw”, a kind of minister (usually a tribal elder). From the mountains, let us go to a certain lowland marriage to be held the Christian way.

At 10:00 AM tomorrow,- May 9, 2009, a close friend of mine will be exchanging “I Do’s” with her special someone at the Saint Joseph College Seminary Chapel, here in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. The event can be summed up in two (Latin)words that we hear only during Holy Week : “Consumatum Est”. She’s 37 and he is 36. At last, our long wait,- as “by-standers”, will finally end Saturday.

This one is from “Gaudium et Spes” : “Christian marriage is an institution confirmed by the divine law, receiving its stability, even in the eyes of society, from the human act by which the partners surrender themselves to each other.” In a broader sense, marriage is not only a juridical act by which spouses exchange rights for specific things, but also the free and deliberate entrance of the spouses into a covenant of a whole life. This is one of the many things I have learned from the book written by Rev. Fr. Hermogenes E. Bacareza, SVD, our Judicial Vicar, entitled “Psychological Incapacity : Gift From Heaven?”.

Written in their in invitation card is this lovely poem : “It all started with a smile…/a few words…/a friendship…/a love affair…/and today../We begin sharing/not just love../but LIFE.” Cute isn’t it? And it reminds me of my own wedding 16 years ago.

This is an example of "ambahan" for courtship and marriage:

"Tuda Pagbugtong uman
No sa kangko itungpan
Payi mamabunlagan
No buntag di tukawan..."

(This nice and beautiful girl
if one day she should be mine,
I would never separate
as long I would be alive...)

Indeed marriage is not only becoming “one flesh” but more importantly living “one life”. St. Thomas of Aquinas once said, “Marriage is not essentially the carnal union but rather a certain association of the husband and wife.” For him, what makes marriage is the consent to marriage itself, not just carnal part of it but the whole of marriage...

No matter how long we have waited!

Congratulations and best wishes, Dante and Thess!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brutal Than Boxing

The memory of Greg Page flashed in my brain when I saw Ricky Hatton being attended by the ring physician right after that killer right straight courtesy of Manny Pacquiao. I was watching the live coverage of last Sunday’s boxing event dubbed as “Battle of East and West” at our Chancery’s Refectory, together with some seminarians, members of the Save OMECO Movement and former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Edicio Dela Torre.

Greg Page is the former World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion who passed away just days before the Pacquiao-Hatton Showdown. Page, 50, was KOed by Dale Crowe in Erlanger, Kentucky., in 2001 and left him in a coma for almost a week. And during post-fight surgery, he suffered a stroke and paralyzing him on his left side. Page won a $1.2 million settlement from Kentucky state boxing authorities whom he said failed to provide an ambulance or medical personnel at the ring and left him with permanent brain injuries.

Here in the Philippines,- Manny Pacquiao’s home country, a congressman has filed a bill banning boxing tournaments in the land. He is Eduardo Nonato “Edno” Joson from the province of Nueva Ecija. Joson justified his bill and in his explanatory note he stated: “Banning boxing contests and/or exhibitions as a form of public entertainment can put an end to needless deaths, injuries and most of all, put a death to the culture of violence prevailing in our society." He filed the bill March 11 last year.

The lawmaker even stated further that, "The money and fame a few champion boxers get sends a wrong message to young people. Many young boys are thus lured to boxing because of the thought that entering the ring is a way out of poverty." Joson's bill (or House Bill 3743) also would penalize boxing promoters, event organizers, referees and judges with the same penalty of prision correccional or prision mayor if the boxing match results in a death. According to Joson, boxing is a dangerous sport whose basic tenet is to inflict injury on the opponent. Generally speaking, a knock out tends to produce a temporary loss of brain activity, consciousness and mobility.

It was Englishman Jack Broughton in 1743 devised the rule in which a fallen fighter could pick himself up after 30 seconds. Then in 1867, to avoid outright defeat, a boxer should be able to beat the count of 10. To a TV viewer, a knock out is the most spectacular moment in a boxing match.

But millions of Filipinos do not buy Joson’s proposal. In response, Secretary Jesli Lapus of Department of Education said that he is not amenable to scrapping of boxing tournaments saying it is one of the aged-old sports where the Philippines is being recognized globally. Lapus said it is through boxing even at a young age do the Philippines produce the likes of Manny Pacquiao also known as the Pacman. In case you do not know, Pacquiao’s first professional fight was in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro some years back.

I do not know what happened to Joson’s HB 3743. But one thing I am sure: There are government officials who are into promotion of boxing with the youth. Most of them even watch Pacquiao’s fight abroad. Politicians who use his popularity for their own political ends and allured the Pacman to join them in their mad world. Stick to boxing Pacman and move away from politics be it in General Santos or in Saranggani. Do not throw your self in a hornet’s nest. Remember your defeat to Darlene Custodio last May 14, 2007. And remember as well the sad fate of the boxers who were put up into mismatches to pad up records of other boxers specially in a foreign land. And how are they being used.

Last March 31, 2007, a Filipino boxer named Angelito Sisnorio, Jr., a native of Koronadal City, died after getting head injuries and brain damage in a bout in Thailand against a veteran boxer named Chatchai Sasakul. Just like what Greg Page have suffered. May their souls rest in peace including other boxers who suffered on top of the ring. But here in my province, or the country as a whole, the way how politics is practiced is more brutal than boxing!

But while the worldwide debate is on whether to ban boxing or not, let the world enjoy the intensity of the Pacman fever (or was it influenza?)…