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Showing posts from September, 2008

The Alternative Budget Initiative: Phase 3

By Leonor Magtolis Briones | 09/28/2008

On Tuesday, September 30 , 2008 another milestone in the history of budgeting in the Philippines will take place. The civil society members of the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) convened by Social Watch Philippines will present their alternative budget for 2009 in the areas of education, health, agriculture and the environment. ABI will also present its critique of the macroeconomic assumptions underlying the proposed budget.

The presentation marks the third year of organized citizen participation in the budget process. Citizens groups have always participated individually in the budget process. ABI is significant in that civil society organizations united and went into partnership with legislators who shared their advocacy. ABI’s advocacy is supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) . Both institutions support the world wide movem…

Thank You

Dear RainB and the rest of the gang,

Thank you for your helpful suggestions regarding the wording and text of the blog. My friend, Bambit Gaerlan-Kapauan, and I are still working to improve this blog, as well as pilot-testing my website, in the next few weeks.

As I have said, let me just finish my third and final Ph.D. exam this Friday, on Asian Literature in English, from 8 am to 5 pm, and survive next weeks' final exams' checking time at the Ateneo. After these, I can work on the blog and the website because I have three weeks of paid labor even if it is sem break. This is one of the few perks of teaching!

And thanks, too, to Kristian Cordero of the Bicol Mail for the gracious article about my visit to the Penafrancia Festival. Yes, I went there and unlike other trapos, did not hang any tarpaulin, or visit the powers-that-be, or pretended to join the devotees on the streets.

Instead, I talked to the students, the teachers, the government employees, the salesgirls, the seminarian…

Extemporaneous speech of Sen. Mar Roxas, 2008 Philippine Blog Awards

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First of all, if anyone in the audience knows who actually won between Ateneo and La Salle, I’d appreciate it. Who won? Oh, you mean the blue and white? All right. That’s good news. I left just before halftime to make it all the way over here from Quezon City, from Cubao, and I was totally out of touch already with the developments when I came in, and so I am happy to know that people through their own way were keeping in touch of that.

I’m very happy to be here with you this afternoon. It’s a very important event that gives recognition to the Philippine blog community that has been active over all of these years. This is the second edition of your blog awards, I was asking Noemi, the other organizers in fact, whether the awards were being given for content, for editorial value, or relative to the number of hits and other technical details relative to a blog. She was saying that it’s a bit of a combination of these all, and what is the Oscars to the movies, o…

Senate contender graces literary fest

The Bicol Mail

Super thanks to the Bicol Mail for writing about my lightning visit to the Penafrancia festival. Dios mabalos sa indo gabos ta pinagitabangan nindo ako sa trabaho ko.


A MULTI-AWARDED writer and a teacher first before becoming one of the most promising young leaders in the country today, Professor Danton Remoto of Ateneo de Manila University surprisingly arrived and graced the 5th Premio Tomas Arejola Para sa Literaturang Bikolnon last September 13, 2008, which was held at the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary in Naga City.

Remoto, who is running as senator in the May 2010 elections, is also the Chairman of Ang Ladlad, the largest organization of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender Filipinos in the country today. Unlike other politicians now vying and realigning their political ambitions in the next election, Remoto came to Naga City without the pomposity of streamers, courtesy visits and media hypes.

Instead, the English professor of Ateneo de Manila -…

Ph D Exams and the UAAP Game

This week, I began taking my three Ph.D. comprehensive exams, after I have passed the two language exams -- one in Spanish and the other in Bikolano. For Spanish I translated four -- yes, four! -- 19th century Spanish short stories. I do not know how I passed the darned exam. And for Bikol, I took a four-part exam ending with an essay -- yes, an essay! -- I had to write in Bikol. For this exam, I prayed to my Bikolana grandmother, dead for the last 12 years to write the essay for me. I think she came to my rescue, because I also passed the exam.

Last Monday I took the exam on Anglo-American Fiction in the 20th century, from ten am to 5 pm. Yesterday, I took the exam on Philippine Literature, from 9 am to 5 pm. I could feel my fingers jiggling from all the effort of answering -- even if done via the computer.

That is why I could not watch any of the UAAP games. I had to read and re-read those texts, many of which I read when I was in college, from 1979-1983. What is good about re-readin…

The wheels of justice

By Danton Remoto
Remote Control

In my last column, I detailed the findings of our group in the Supreme Court-initiated workshop on giving justice to marginalized groups held last July 7-8. The next items in our list of issues include the weak justice system in the fiscal and prosecution levels. The Supreme Court initiated the workshop to help hasten the administration of justice for all people. Our facilitator was the bright and efficient Court of Appeals Justice Magdangal M. de Leon.

The farmers in our group said that landowners are tolerated in filing multiple suits against farmers just to harass them. The spurious cases filed include qualified theft, although all parties know that the root cause of the problem is agrarian. Perhaps because some fiscals are afraid of these big landowners – or even beholden to them – the cases are allowed to be filed in court. The fiscals’ point is that since it is a matter of evidence, anyway, let the courts decide.

Moreover, some fi…


Last Sept 11, the Young Turks went to UP Los Banos. Adel Tamano, JV Ejercito and I made it. Gilbert Remulla was helping his boss Manny Villar parry the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes in the Senate, while Erin Tanada was out of Metro Manila for a consultation with his constituents.

Then on Sept 12-14 I was at Naga City for the Penafrancia Festival, upon the invitation of my good friend and former student Jack Hernandez, whose family owns the University of Nueva Caceres. Through Jack, Ang Ladlad donated two college scholarships to two participants in the Ms Gay Bicolandia and Mr Bicolandia, respectively. I also met with the writers of Kabulig, spoke at the awarding ceremonies of the Tomas Arejola Literary Awards for Bikol Writing and judged the two aforementioned beauty contests. I also talked with the seminarians at the Holy Rosary Seminary, beside the great Naga Cathedral. I bought lots of pasalubong from them, ranging from pili nuts to bracelets of Ina, the Our Lady of Penaf…

Unrealized potential

SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan
Friday, September 19, 2008
Philippine STAR

Back in 1966, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) pondered the site for its headquarters. Its choices: Tokyo, Tehran and Manila.

The Philippine capital won because the country was seen at the time as one of the world’s most promising economies.

ADB officials in Manila told this story the other day to their guest in their “Eminent Speakers” lecture series, Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Singapore-based Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and a retired top diplomat of the city-state.

Mahbubani, who remembers growing up in Singapore in a one-bedroom house with no flush toilet, told me that his country was not considered by the ADB because it was seen as a basket case.

How we can mess up our country in just four decades.
The ADB was not too far off the mark in its assessment. In 1960, the Philippines, with its gross domestic product five times greater than that of South Korea, was considered the second most…

Beware as GMA becomes desperate

By Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

Gloria Arroyo is nearing the last stretch of her stolen presidency tolerated by the Filipino people thinking anyway, it’s only up to 2010. But are we sure she is stepping down in 2010?

Last Thursday, in an interview with ANC’s Ricky Carandang, former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz warned that Arroyo might exploit the Mindanao situation and terrorist activities in the country to impose emergency rule that would justify her holding on to power beyond 2010.

Cruz, who should know Arroyo very well, said, "There is always temptation that’s why we have to be vigilant that doesn’t happen because that is not going to be very good for the country. It’s better to be on the extra side of caution in this matter."

The FSGO, a grouping of Former Senior Government Officials, which includes Cruz, is circulating a petition echoing Cruz’ call for vigilance. They say that moves to extend the term of Arroyo are very much alive.


FSGO’s call…

A man of gold

LODESTAR By Danton Remoto
Monday, September 15, 2008
Philippine STAR
Art and Culture Section

For the month of August, David Henry Hwang’s play The Golden Child dazzled audiences at the CCP, in both its English and Filipino versions.

David also blew into town to attend the premiere of his latest play. He first broke through the tough American theater scene with his controversial play, M. Butterfly, which won the Tony in 1988. A film version of the play was also made of the play that featured a Chinese transgender lover of a Caucasian consul. The transgender lover turns out to be a spy. Both play and film version sparked a firestorm of controversy.

Remember that regnant then in the American literary scene was the notion of multiculturalism, which is like the affirmative-action policy teleported to the literary scene. But Asian-American critics panned the play and the film for depicting the Asian man as transgender, therefore feminized and weak. In short, the Chinese-American David played un…

Naga City

I just came back from Naga City where I served as a judge at the Miss Gay Bicolandia and the Mr. Bicolandia, events done as part of the month-long Penafrancia Festival. Jack Hernandez of the University of Nueva Caceres gave two full Ang Ladlad college scholarships to two deserving contestants in the said contests. I was happy to help send two young people back to school again, thanks to Jack and to UNC.

Here are some initial photos, which shows me giving an impromptu speech at the Tomas Arejola Literary Awards at the Holy Rosary Seminary beside the Naga Cathedral. There I meet some old friends like the award-winning Kristian Cordero, the one with the K, who just won an NCCA Writers' prize.

What I like about Bicol are the people's religiosity and wicked sense of humor. Photos are from zhella monserate-manrique and her blog. Super hyper mega thanks.

The road to 2010 for Villar

COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Philippine Star

It was like a comedy scene yesterday morning when Senate president Manuel “Manny” Villar was clueless while he was being attacked all over radio stations. Opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson was first interviewed in the DZMM radio program of the ABS-CBN tandem of Korina Sanchez and Ted Failon yesterday while we were having our regular breakfast forum at the Tuesday Club at EDSA Shangri-La. Villar was being raked over the coals by Lacson on The STAR headline news that day about the alleged double-entry of a P200-million project that earned the ugly title of “road to nowhere.”

After a long while he has not appeared in our breakfast club, Villar was being ribbed each time a member arrived telling him about the allegations of Lacson against him. Villar was at a loss at first to what he was being linked to. Little did he know that he was tagged as behind the inclusion anew in the proposed 2009 budge…

The heavy burdens of Lady Justice

By Danton Remoto
Remote Control

Last July, I was invited by the Supreme Court to join a forum-consultation with leaders of so-called marginalized groups. So there I was, with leaders from the peasant, fisher folk, factory, women, physically handicapped, elderly, indigenous peoples, environmental, and youth sectors for a two-day meeting held at the Court of Appeals.

The succinct speech by Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno set the tone of the meeting of minds. He said that the court is aware of the importance of consultation especially with those from the marginalized groups, who are often at the receiving end of injustice. I remember them now, since controversy has rocked some justices in the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court itself has just handed its shameful verdict that NEDA Chairman Romulo Neri was exercising executive privilege when he was talking to Mrs. Arroyo about the NBN-ZTE deal. Really?

But hope was regnant on that day. Aside from the forum in Manila,…

Pulse Asia 2010 senatorial survey, July 1-14, 2008

I was crunching the data for the July 1-14 senatorial survey of Pulse Asia. As I said earlier, my name is not included because I am not (yet) a sworn member of a big political party. Therefore, no political party paid for my name to be included in the survey. Iyon po iyon.

Anyway, the following current or former senatorial candidates made it to the top 14:

Pia Cayetano
Jinggoy Estrada
Mar Roxas
Frank Drilon
Miriam Santiago
Serge Osmena
Ralph Recto
Bong Revilla
Jamby Madrigal
Jun Magsaysay
Tito Sotto
Johnny Enrile

The only newbies were Koko Pimentel, who of course carries his father's name and sat at number 5, and Jojo Binay, who was number 14.

OK. Of this, strike out the following, for the alleged reasons cited:

Mar Roxas = running for President under LP
Miriam Santiago = wants to retire because of a heart problem
Serge Osmena = wants to retire to take care of his wife
Bong Revilla = wants to run as VP under Lakas-Kampi
Jun Magsaysay = his son Paco said his Dad is tired and will not run
Johnny Enrile…

Preparing for a nasty exit

By Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

In her fake presidency, Gloria Arroyo has every right to appoint anybody- scoundrels and losers -in her cabinet.

If she thinks Chavit Singson, will help her stay in power, let her be. After all, if not for Singson, she would not be in MalacaƱang today.

In fact, she should not stop at Singson. When Joc-joc Bolante comes back, she should appoint him agriculture secretary so he could go back to his familiar ground and continue what he does best – diversion of funds for farmers to her campaign kitty. That way, he could invoke the all- season weapon against truth – executive privilege.

If bringing back Bolante at the Department of Agriculture is too much, she may want to put him at the National Food Authority where he could see first hand the effect on food prices of his using the fertilizer fund for vote buying.

With Singson as deputy national security adviser; Hermogenes Esperon as adviser for peace process; Raul Gonzalez as justice s…

My website

My friend, Bambit Kapauan-Gaerlan, should be thanked for the new, civilized, and sassy look of my blog. I also met with her last Saturday at Greenbelt to have a go-see of my website. We will activate it ASAP.

I am now finalizing my political platform, plus the other texts (literary, political, otherwise) needed for the website. I am also sending Bambit a gazillion photos to choose from.

Plus something I learnt from the Barack Obama campaign. A slot for Paypal, so our friends here, there and everywhere can start sending in their donations.

A senatorial campaign is a super-expensive campaign. Even if a major opposition party includes me in their slate, I still have to have funds to add to the campaign.

And so the fund-raising begins.

The many petals of desire

By Danton Remoto
Philippine STAR

Heartsong and Other Poems is only the first book of poems by Felino S. Garcia Jr. But collected between its covers are some of the most amazing love poems I’ve read. There is no rawness, no rush, and no half-cooked efforts in this collection. We have to thank publisher John Iremil Teodoro of Imprenta Igbaong for coming out with this collection of poems.

The book is divided into four sections. “Coming to fruit” deals with love’s beginnings, when the days pass in a blaze of happiness. And the nights more so, as captured in a poem called “Flood.” The poem has an epigraph from the now-iconic song of Basil Valdez: “Tuwing umuulan at kapiling ka (When it rains and I’m with you).” The poem points out the overpowering presence of love, like water that drowns everything in its wake, including the lovers.

Listen: “How we drown/ in our own flooding, plunging ourselves,/ shapeless, yet with gravity, swirling/ deep/ down/ down/ in the bottomless…

Villar confirms presidential bid

By Aurea Calica
Friday, September 5, 2008
Philippine Star

Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. maintained yesterday that for him, it would be the presidency or nothing in 2010.

As early as last December, Villar, Nacionalista Party (NP) president, had declared in an interview with STARweek magazine that there was “no turning back” on his plan to run for president in 2010.

He said he would be his party’s standard-bearer.
Villar reiterated on ABS-CBN television that he would seek the presidency, but added that he and his party are still working on the complete NP ticket.

ABS-CBN reported that Villar was open to having Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., as part of his team.

Poe lost to President Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections.

His camp alleged that massive cheating occurred, resulting in his defeat.

Villar said he was impressed by Llamanzares’ popularity, integrity and work ethic, which he claims are needed in serving the public.