Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Nasa Ecuador Sana Ako Ngayong Bagong Taon

Kakaibang pagsalubong sa Bagong Taon ang ginagawa ng mga Ecuadorian. Parang street demonstration lang ang peg kumbaga dito sa ‘Pinas. Dinadala nila sa kalsada mga effigy ng mga pop culture icon, cartoon characters, super hero, mga showbiz personality na kina-aasaran nila para sunugin. Pero ang mas cool (?) ay ang pagsunog sa mga effigy ng mga pulitiko sa kanilang bansa. Ang mga effigy na ito na pinapalaman ng mga fire crackers ay gawa kadalasan sa recycled na materials. Ang tradisyon ng pagsusunog ng “Año Viejo” o “Lumang Taon” sa hatinggabi ay sumisimbolo sa cleansing ng mga masasamang kaugalian na nangyari sa nagdaang 365 days. Naniniwala ang mga Ecuadorian na kung hindi nila ito gagawin ay babalik ang mga kamalasan at karumal-dumal na kapalpakan na hatid ng mga pangyayari, bagay at taong naging laman ng mga balita at mass media.

Take note, kumpetisyon din ang Año Viejo. Mula sa mga rehiyon sa kanilang bansa, taun-taon ay humihirang sila ng mga pambansang winners. Sabi DITO, “[A]s a ritual of purification and renewal, a cleansing of old, negative energy, individual and collective failures, regrets, bad habits, bad luck and evil from the previous year. Oftentimes, the effigies are heaped together in big piles to create large fires in the middle of the streets. It is said that jumping over the burning effigies brings good luck to those who successfully accomplish this feat.” Ka-ige, hane?

Kung may ganito lang sa Bayan ni Juan, palagay ko, walang magtatangkang gumawa ng effigy nina Alan Peter Cayetano at Antonio Trillanes III maliban sa mga taga-UNA ni VP Jojo Binay. Siguro ay malaking karikatura ni Janet Napoles ang ipaparada at lilitsunin ni Benhur Luy at sasahuran pa ito ng timba para sa tumatagas na sebo. Baka kasama rin ang mga effigy nina Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce-Enrile at Jinggoy Estrada para tustahin to be fair.

Pero ililigtas ko sa apoy si Rose Fostanes (kahit medyo ka-look alike niya si Napoles) na isang Pinay caregiver sa Israel dahil sa kanyang pagkapanalo sa X-Factor sa bansa ng mga Hudyo. Pero ‘yung kay Delfin Lee ng Globe Asiatique baka suplete rin ang abutin habang nananalangin na ang Bagyong Glenda noong Hulyo ay hindi na maulit.

Malamang din, kung may ganitong tradisyon dito sa ating bansa gaya ng sa Ecuador, siguro ang susunuging effigy ni Mommy Dionesia at Buboy Fernandez ay ang kay Kim Henares habang walang mangangahas na sindihan ang manikang kamukha ni Henry Sy na last 2014 ay siya pa ring pinakamayaman na tao sa bansa, ayon sa Forbes Magazine with an estimated net worth of $12.7 million.

Pero sayang din kung isusubo sa darang ang kalunus-lunos na mga replica ng nag-iisang medalyang ginto at tatatlong silver medals na nakuha ng bansa sa 2014 Asian Games na pababa ng pababa na ang ating kartada. Yung paper mannequin na lang kaya ng mga opisyal ng National Sports Associations, madabdab kaya gaya ng uling ng ayo at bakawan?

Pero kung ang tsinelas ay magandang pampa-dingas sa kahoy na gatong sa kalan, natural mas epektib ang  gasolina lalo na kung kasama pa ang motorsiklong pala-semplang. Peks man. Itanong nyo pa kay Korina Sanchez at Mar Roxas.

Ako, ang susunugin ko na lang ay ang effigy ni Bob Arum. Mismatch talaga ang Pacquiao-Algieri. Lutong Macau talaga!

Kayo, kaninong effigy ang susunugin ninyo sana kung may ganitong pagsalubong dito sa Bagong Taon katulad ng sa Ecuador?...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Visible Ray

My cousin Ray was never been invisible. He loves to be around and do something for his close friends and relatives. He’s there during birthdays, weddings, reunions, fiesta celebrations and anniversaries lending a hand especially in preparing and cooking dishes. Whenever we have visitors from Manila, especially our aunties, he’s always the designated driver. He knows acupressure and lately he’s into selling food items including traditional food supplements or herbal medicines. Riding his mountain bike usually in the morning and his father’s jeep the rest of the day or simply walking, most of the time we could find Ray practically in every nook of the town proper each time he’s done with the household chores. He has friends from all walks of life, from the street smarts of Malvar, the rural toughies to the town’s intellectuals, businessmen, politicians, artists and yuppies.

Even without apparent reason or agenda, he would just appear just to say his hello or bring something for your kids, or let you engaged in a chat usually over a bottle of brandy and talk about the good old days and everything under the sun.

Because he’s the Visible Man, he’s everywhere. That was before and he’s gone now. He was shot dead by an assailant just few meters away from the newest, the biggest and the most structurally-advanced municipal police station in the province.

Hours before his tragic death, together with his girlfriend and a friend, an OFW from Hong Kong, Ray helped in packing relief items and gifts that are supposed to be distributed the next day to the Yolanda victims in Brgy. San Agustin. It is New Year outreach project of the HK-based Occidental Mindoro OFW association.

He’s always there to lend a hand not only for private occasions but also for such community cause. He is most of the time in the company of local musicians in their gigs. He’s an alumnus of Divine Word College of San Jose who finished his elementary in 1979, graduated in secondary education in 1983 and got his diploma in Bachelor of Arts in 1988. He was born February 2, 1965. He once ran but lost in barangay election in Pag-Asa some years ago and he even had a dream of trying it again in Iling in 2016. Ray’s simple and not so complicated plan for the future is higher than his desire to be with people always when you need him or even when you don’t. For him, there’s no substitute for physical presence, for just being around.

Not anymore. Our family’s ray of visibility just faded away.
When they finished packing the relief goods and gifts, he and his girlfriend, along with a young friend, was waiting for a tricycle along Mabini St. fronting Caimito Road in Brgy VII when a motorcycle man with a woman riding at the back passed by then they exchanged words. The guy parked the vehicle nearby and the two groups again exchanged harsh words and then blows. After the altercation, the riding couple left. After 5 minutes or so, the man came back alone but this time with a pistol. The man poked the gun at Ray’s young companion and pulled the trigger but Ray quickly intervened and he was hit, though indirectly, in the arm. His girlfriend then turned hysterical while he tried to grab the weapon from the man. Trying to protect again his companion, the three of them, Ray, the suspect and his young friend wrestled again and the moment they hit the ground, another two gunshots were heard. The incident happened around 1:30 in the morning of December 28, 2013 and that was Saturday. It was barely 3 nights before New Year Eve.

Sketchy reports revealed that my cousin suffered 3 bullet wounds. Each in both arms and the fatal shot is the last one he caught the right side of his abdomen. The slug that entered into his torso was not recovered during the autopsy. At 48, he was 3 years younger than me. He was declared dead on arrival at the St. Magdalene Hospital. Some says it’s Colt .38 others says its 9mm. Three empty shells and two slugs were found at the scene including a live bullet along with other physical evidences like a scarf, soap bar and pair of slippers.

There were two major accidents that nearly caused Ray’s life before. When he was 4 or so, he climbed their glass jalousie window wanting to have a clear vision of a chopper hovering above their place. He fell and got a deep and long ugly wound on his right jaw. The scar is still visible even when he’s already a grown-up man. In his late 20s’, he met a motorcycle accident and was airlifted to Manila the next morning while one of the victim’s legs was amputated. But as far as I could remember, he’d never been involved in any trouble and he has no criminal records at all.

With the long list of unsolved killings happening in my hometown since I was a kid, we are hoping that Ray’s life would not be wasted by becoming just a small dot in the galaxy of numbers of unsolved murders in this part of the universe. The list is endless and it’s still counting.

Ray cannot easily be angered by people, events or anything. His words were never been wayward or arrogant specially when talking with people even when under the influence of bottled spirit.

Ray could have a chance going out of the country or work somewhere. He preferred to stay here in San Jose when Yvonne, his eldest daughter, finished her studies and already got herself a good job. Some may doubt or question his priorities in life but for him life must be lived each day to connect with people as much as he can no matter how they feel about him and his presence. He ever cherished doing dirty works for his loved ones. The man at any time of the day would just appear at your door just to greet everyone especially during weekends. He loves to stay around and to simply make his presence felt.

The Visible Man who just joined his Invisible Creator will forever be missed….


Today is the first death anniversary of my cousin Ray and I remember this eulogy I wrote but I was not able to say it during his funeral for I was on official travel that time. Instead, I asked my eldest Yobhel to read this in my behalf as his father’s tribute to his Tito Ray.

The night before when Ray was murdered, I was with Jhong Lagrado and Mon Paquing at a watering hole in Aroma Center having a couple of beer. At around 1:00 AM we went home tipsy.

Very early in the morning my wife received a call from Jhong while I was still in bed asking how I was in a very calculating voice. Jolly person as she told him that I’m still sleeping and after some pleasantries both of them said their goodbyes. Barrage of messages and calls coming from different people, friends and acquaintances, came in asking the same question. It was around 9 AM when Jhong called me. “Sino yung Novio na binaril na dati raw taga Bikaryato?” There are only two Novio boys once employed at the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose: me and Ray. My hands trembled, my heart pumped hard. I uttered a prayer.

Here is the latest on Ray’s murder: The suspect to the gruesome killing of my cousin was arrested in Laguna in another crime and sometime mid of this year, he was turned-over to PNP Occidental Mindoro. He was arrested by police elements in Pakil and was transferred to Magbay Provincial Jail last November 17, 2014. The arrest is made through the PNP e-Warrant System and this database enables the PNP to easily and quickly verify names of persons with arrest warrants. The wheel of justice is about to grind.

You may now rest in peace, Ray…

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ang Nosebleed at Si Lourd de Veyra

Hindi ko alam kung si Rufa Mae Quinto nga ang dahilan kung bakit ang salitang “nosebleed” ay palasak na palasak ngayon. May mga pelikula kasing may pamagat na “Booba” at “Bobita Rose” na nagpapakita ng mga scene na kapag may nag-i-ininglis na kausap ang karakter ni Rufa ay dumudugo ang kanyang (Rufa) ilong. Pero kung  naniniwala tayo na ang kahinaan sa English ay nakaka-balinguyngoy, sana ay nakita na natin si Lito Lapid o si Ramon Revilla, Sr. noon, na may pasak na sanitary napkin sa ilong habang naka-upo sa Senado.

Ngayon, hindi lang patungkol sa pagsasalita ng language ng mga Kano ang naka-no-nosebleed sa marami. Magsalita ka lang tungkol sa Higgs Bosom, sa mga akda ni F. Sionil Jose, kay Aristotle, sa teolohiya ni Elizabeth Johnson, ng mga artikulo sa Strange Notion, ng mga balita galing sa Al Jazeera, character sa Greek Mythology, etsetera, #nosebleed kaagad ang majority sa young Pinoy Twitters o Netizens . Sila ang mga kabataang mag-aaral na hindi na nasiyahan sa kani-kanilang pinapasukang kolehiyo ay nag-cross enroll pa sa Facebook kung saan mas marami pa silang gustong makuha o ibahaging impormasyon kaysa sa mga titser (na marami rin ay nag-mo-moon lighting nga rin pala sa Twitter o/at sa Facebook). Quits lang.

Obvious na ang nag-ganyak sa aking isulat ito ay isang aklat ni Lourd de Veyra. Yung mga thunderbirds na walang internet connection at cable TV lang siguro sa Occidental Mindoro ang hindi kilala sa pangalan si Lourd de Veyra ng TV 5. Sa kanyang may kulay dugong pabalat na librong “Lourd de Veyra’s Little Book of Speeches”(2014; Summit Media; p.53), aniya, “Isa pang bagay na dapat nating pagtuunan ay ang gumagapang na espiritu ng anti-intelektuwalismo. Naiinis  ako ‘pag may humihirit ng “nosebleed.” May hindi lang maintindihan na salita, “nosebleed!”” Papaano nga ba naman maghahatak ng imahinasyon ang espiritong ito?

Kung alam lang ng maraming kabataan, mas may sense basahin si Lourd de Veyra kaysa kay Marcelo Santos III. Mas may tulak sa paghatak ng utak ang mga akda ng una kaysa sa huli. Nasa itaas nga pala ang picture ni Lourd, just in case na hindi ninyo alam na siya yung nasa Chicharon ni Mang Juan at Tanduay Ice sa TV commercial. Patunay ang sulating ito na nakakahawa ang istilo ni Lourd de Veyra sa pagsusulat.

Karanasan ko rin kahit na ako ay isa lamang pipitsuging parochial blogger ang masabihan ng, “Nosebleed ako kuya sa blog mo”. ‘Langya, iilan na nga lang ang bumabasa ng blog ko, nosebleed pa ang marami. At kapag nagpapahayag ka ng mga bagay na nagtutulak ng utak, ang malimit nilang depensa ay, “O sige na. Ikaw na!” Sabay bago ng topic tungkol na sa Christmas Sale sa Gaisano Capitol sa San Jose. O ang latest sa “Forevermore”. ‘Pag hindi ka nga naman dinugo, oo!

May katumpakang tingin pa ni Lourd patungkol sa mga kabataan ngayon: “[May] katamaran sa pag-iisip. Ayaw na bigyan ng challenge ang utak. Hindi alam kung papaano gamitin nang maayos ang teknolohiyang nasa kamay nila”. Totoo na sa kasalukuyang panahon ng Twitter at Facebook, kapwa ang guro at mag-aaral ay mauubusan na ng panahon o ayaw nang magbasa ng aklat tungkol sa ideya at mga kuwentong kanilang maiuugnay sa pagpapadaloy at pagtuklas ng kaalaman (hindi lang impormasyon, ha?) na tunay nilang responsibilidad.

Pero maidagdag ko lang, maliban sa katamaran sa pag-iisip na sinasabi ni Lourd, may sakit din tayong katamaran talaga. As in laziness sa pagkakatuto lalo na kapag nasa harap tayo ng computer. Imagine, may nagtatanong pa sa online forum sa mga information na madali namang i-Google. May sakit din tayo,- oo, kasama ako, na mga nagku-comment sa mga discussion thread na post lang ng post na hindi ini-scroll up ang previous posts at binabasa ang kabuuan ng thread. Kaya hayun, nagmumukha tuloy tayong sampitaw na engot dahil sa ating katamaran.

Tamad din tayong magbasa/manood ng mahahabang comment,- o anumang mahahaba, kaya nga walang puwang ang nobela sa kamalayang Pinoy, maliban siguro sa ibang bagay na nakikita ninyo sa net. O baka dahil na rin sa paliit na nang paliit ang mga communication gadgets ngayon kaya tinatamad na magbasa. Sa totoong buhay, hindi naman lahat ay pwedeng bite size. May mga bagay kasi na kung mouthful lang natin malalasahan, so to speak.

Sabagay, sa mass communication daw, mas epektib na strategy ngayon ay one liners, catch phrase, sloganeering, brief and concise statements or presentations. Pero hindi kaya lalo tayong ginagawang tamad ng mga ito? O baka naman kaya tayo tamad ay ginagawa tayong tamad ng mass media? O tayo mismo ang nagpu-push na maging tamad tayo? “Nosebleed na tanong ‘yan”, maibubulong ninyo siguro.

Sige na nga, i-externalize na lang ninyo at i-put into flesh ang prevailing ang most followed word of wisdom ng mga bagets ngayon: “Hindi baleng tamad, hindi naman pagod.”   

Kaya lang, malamang sa kalaunan, pati sa “balinguyngoy” o iba pang salitang sariling atin na madalang gamitin ay nosebleed na rin tayo…


(Photo: Active Vista)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Mindoro Landing Should Challenge Us

Fiesta Mood and Historical Markers

In the 1950s, according to my grandfather, December 15 each year is celebrated with fiesta ambiance. Children from both private and public schools all over San Jose and the pioneering residents from all walks of life gather at the old San Jose Town Plaza to celebrate the Mindoro Landing or what they call as “San Jose Liberation”. Musical bands are all over providing music to stage plays that depict the lives of our local town heroes like Fermin Baretto, Lawrence Cooper, Ramon Ruffy, Sofronio Untalan and Vincent Fortune, Sr., and the rest of the southern Mindoro guerrillas. These are stories that are indefatigably being re-told by our folks to their young children. Click THIS compilation of Mr. Rudy A. Candelario to know some of Occidental Mindoro’s war heroes and learn a thing or two from them.

Though my late grandfather, who came to Pandurucan (Read: San Jose) in the 1930s and later told me stories about the war, never joined any armed resistance that time. He was a medical technician battling the dreaded infected female anopheles mosquito, carrier of the killer malaria. He helped in curing the poor sacadas of the Sugar Central including those residents suffering not only from terrors of war but as well as horrors brought out by the deadly disease.

As early as 1906, the Philippine Bureau of Health established its Malaria Control Division which was tasked to conduct researches and study, history and epidemiology of malaria in the Philippines including control practices such as annual spraying of all houses in areas affected by malaria. My grandfather is one of those “soldiers” annihilating the tiny but lethal winged “enemy”.

Initiatives from the Local Government

In early 1960s, a statue is built at the entrance of the municipal compound to commemorate the historic event including the marker at the site of the landing at Aroma Beach some 2 kilometers away from the town hall.

The last time we came across to an event leading to this historic commemoration was in December 14, 2008 via a musical play held at the town plaza which was directed by the late Prof. Gil C. Manuel dubbed “Mga Sulyap sa Kasaysayan ng Occidental Mindoro”. This was a joint effort of then Gov. Josephine Y. Ramirez-Sato and the Provincial Government, LGU-San Jose under Mayor Romulo M. Festin, and the Occidental Mindoro Historical Society (OMHS).

In 2009 to mid of 2010, conjoining with the town’s centennial celebration, the marker was rebuilt and had a make-over and this project was implemented by Mayor Festin. The following year, on December 15, 2011, a full length program was held right at the landing site featuring songs, dance and speeches. This was presented by, again, the OMHS but this time initiated by then newly-elected mayor, Jose T. Villarosa.

But the people deserve more than that and sustainability is still the name of the game.

Mindoro Landing: A Look Back

Allied forces landed on the shores of San Jose on December 15, 1944. Militarily, the purpose of this landing was to secure sites for air strips providing forward Air Corp bases to support later landings at Lingyen Gulf in Luzon. Without airfields closer to Manila it would be nearly impossible to seize and maintain air superiority in Luzon.  Airfields in San Jose would be much closer to the targets on the big island.  San Jose, Mindoro is, roughly, 150 miles from Manila.

1st Lt. Donald “Don” E. Abbott was a paratrooper and Executive Officer of the “E” Company of the 503rd Infantry Regiment of United States in his article titled “Remembering Mindoro” wrote, “As we came on deck well before the 0700 HR on ''U'' Day (15 Dec 44) the invasion fleet had reached their assigned positions off shore.  The LCI's were lined up in rows consisting of the order they would be landing.  Far to the right, or South, were the landing craft bringing the 19th Regimental Combat Team of the 24th Division.  To the left, North, of us were landing craft with the 1st Battalion of the 503rd who were to land on the North side of the Bugsanga River and represent the Left Flank of our invasion.  Nearby were the LCI's of the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd.  Behind us, further out to sea were craft with the 3rd Battalion, acting as Combat Team reserve.”  

Just minutes after that historic landing, series of heavy bombardment followed. Abbot continued, “As 0700 approached landing craft, including LCI's rigged as Gun Ships began launching rocket salvos.  That was the first time I had seen Gun Ships and their array of rockets.  Each gun ship would fire many rockets at a time.  They would leave with a high pitched swoosh!!  The rockets could, clearly, be followed all the way to the point of impact.  Hundreds of these rockets plastered the beach line and a short way inland.  I'd have hated to have been in the shoes of anyone caught on the beach at that time.” And the rest is history of forgetfulness. We have forgotten how our neighborhood heroes like Fortune, Cooper, et al helped the American soldiers drove away the Japanese from the island.

70th Anniversary: Hopefully A Challenge

The 70th anniversary of Mindoro Landing is just 12 days away but nobody is excited about it anymore. Sad to tell, many of our young people of today consider those markers as mere dating places and picnic sites and fail to re-trace their historical significance. Truth to tell, in this age of celebrities and movie stars, we, especially the youth, lost our sense of history.

It seems that among teachers, students and residents of this most important town of Occidental Mindoro, the Mindoro Landing is not important anymore. The fiesta mood was gone and the markers were watered down. There were initiatives both from the government and private sectors, yes, but never been sustained.  

There are still enemies of freedom in our midst. They are those detestable cancerous figures shamelessly manipulating and destroying the seeds of liberation that was sown by our homegrown heroes.   

We do not need historical celebrations that are only confined to trivial activities and only try to re-tell and explain the past or bring false hope. Much more if we reduce history and heroism into a mere partisan political agenda. Here’s to those in public service, academic circle and the media and all the authorities who have clout and influence: Only in juxtaposition we could challenge the past from the perspective of present experiences of helplessness of our people, and challenge the present from the perspective of our memory of the past. Or else, we will have no true legacy to pass on, or past meaningful events to remember....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ashley Madison in the Philippines, Agree or Disagree?

According to reports, around 2,500 to 3,000 Filipinos have already signed up to extramarital dating site called Ashley and quickly, justice secretary Leila De Lima said last Sunday that she is seeking to ban the website saying that it facilitates the crimes of adultery (for women) and “concubinage” (for men). Ashley Madison is a Canadian firm and recently launched their website here in the Philippines at the advent of Advent season this year. In Singapore and South Korea, the site believing that it poses threat to family values, was banned. Aside from the Philippines, they are accessible in other 5 Asian countries of Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, and India.

The firm in return sued the South Korean government on the ground of “false allegation of illegal activity”. I believe that same legal argument will also be asserted here in the Philippines just in case the DOJ bans the site.

But it seems that Christoph Kraemer, the site’s international spokesman, is not worried about them getting banned in the Philippines as De Lima have warned while admitting they did not talk to the Philippine government. He said, “What we have is a legal counsel to advise us on the laws that you have here, and we’ve done what we have to do.” Kraemer made it a point that what they are doing is just to provide alternatives to those who are not happily married. He further said, “We did not invent nor do we promote infidelity. All we do is offer an alternative for those who want to have an affair in a discreet manner.” He even concluded that it could empower the feminists for giving them the opportunity to have an affair.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive director of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) of the Philippine Catholic church said that Ashley Madison is only exploiting troubled marriages for profit. Liza Masa of Gabriela, a militant women’s group, supported Castro calling it as “commercialization of adultery”. But I really doubt if the government, the Catholic Church and the militant feminist groups would seriously and act, like how serious they are about Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, against this purportedly exploitative business venture. Besides, for government officials, officers of women organizations and the Church leaders, this isn't a priority. Eventually, I think, all of this news about Ashley Madison, sooner or later, will fade out.  

It appears that here is the new norm Ashley Madison is propagating: Do not restrain the sexual instinct and without hesitation, live it fully and have an affair. We are now living in a sexually-emancipated society where the life-style of the elite is aimed by middle class and social climbers where suppression of sexuality is considered as opposed to freedom. For them, this suppression hinders the development of one’s personality. The fulfillment of one’s sexual wish is generally considered self-realization. Humans, as ever, indeed are overly overwhelmed with pleasure and desire and Ashley Madison is just one of its many manifestations but we have to brace for more!  

But the most powerful defense against this subtle attack on marriage is marriage itself. True enough, there’s no amount of extramarital dating sites could ruin a solid and happy marriage, not even the legal action to be taken by the government or the advocacy campaign of the militants and moral persuasion of the Church. News and occurrence like this, no matter how immoral or alarming they may be, in a way, do make many married couple even stronger by resisting temptation. High hope, indeed, pins on the sanctity of the individual marriage, the uniqueness of lasting union, of cycle of relationship of forgiveness, fidelity, trust and love being “one flesh”.

A Filipino marriage life that “does not conform to the standards of this world”, as what Apostle Paul have written the Romans…

(Photo: Huffington post)