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Showing posts from November, 2008

Close, but no cigar

KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson
November 24, 2008 12:00 AM
Philippine Star

Those fateful three days and nights in Hong Kong before the previous weekend were alternately relaxing and suspenseful, the latter only a bit. Good thing I’ve had minimal relations with luck of late, so that hoping for a big turn was hardly in my agenda.

When the shortlist for the Man Asian Prize for the novel was announced on Oct. 22, it started a dizzying ride — from pleasant surprise to pride of place, seeing as how it meant honor not really for oneself alone, but for country. International literary agents and at least one notable publisher were quick to initiate communications, asking for a copy of the manuscript.

It was just as buddy Butch Dalisay recounted when he gained the finals in the contest’s first edition last year. He levitated for weeks, all the way to the ceremonial awards dinner in Hong Kong. Same here. Congrats were rife, and the honor was doubled because there was a fellow Pinoy in…

Cha-Cha battleground

I agree with my friend Mon Casiple. The Cha-Cha forces only have from now until April 2009. By May 2009, the campaign season would begin. It is only one more year before the elections.

Have you seen those horrid tarpaulins of the politicians? I live in District 3, QC, and the tarpaulins range from free vaccination for your dogs, to the search for the cleanest barangays (without even giving the barangays a single walis tingting). They will do everythin got put their bloated, oily, uber-ugly faces on those toxic tarpaulins.

But this morning, in front of my building, hangs a simple white tarpaulin with the face of Ninoy and a line about being a hero.

Now that is a real hero, in my book and I am sure in yours as well.


BY Mon Casiple
Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER)

It is now joined. The battle on Charter change to enable President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stay in power–whether as president or prime minister–starts now.

At stake here is the fa…

A lesson and a warning

Ang Pahayagang Malaya

‘This is a lesson and warning which Arroyo can ignore only at her peril.’

The Makati Business Club yesterday declared its opposition to charter change aimed at extending the term of Gloria Arroyo. It said Arroyo no longer enjoys the support and confidence of the majority of the people. It added the people look forward to national renewal through the general elections in 2010. It said efforts at canceling the exercise will be met with the strongest opposition from all sectors of society.

The MBC position, including its declared alignment with all forces committed to the holding of the 2010 elections, is clear as clear can be. It should give the lie to those self-proclaimed industry leaders, whose only visible business is kissing the rump of whoever is in power, that business favors constitutional "reforms."

Through the MBC, the purported beneficiaries of charter change, especially as this relates to the lifting of constitutional l…

A time of perilous uncertainty

By Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

DESTABILIZATION talks are getting louder and louder as Gloria Arroyo and her henchmen make the final push to keep her in power beyond 2010.

Last Tuesday at the 58th anniversary of the Scout Rangers at Camp Tecson in Bulacan, AFP chief Alexander Yano assured the public that the military won’t be involved in any destabilization plots.

It’s significant that Yano’s audience was the elite Scout Rangers, whose much-respected commander, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and 19 other officers, were implicated in the alleged plan to withdraw support from Gloria Arroyo following in February 2006 following the surfacing of the "Hello Garci " tapes that validated Arroyo’s primary role the tampering of election results in her favor.

Lim and the 19 Scout Rangers that include Colonels Nestor Flordeliza and Edmundo Malabanjot and Major Jason Aquino have been in detention together with nine Marine officers and one Army Special Forces officer for alm…

Is Erap’s presidential bid foredoomed?

The Manila Times

Apparently inspired by the “warm” public reception he has been getting wherever he went, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada has stepped up his political tour around the country to feel the people’s pulse on his plan to run for president in the 2010 election.

“No one can dispute the fact that I still have the support of my people,” Erap recently said, citing the latest Pulse Asia survey placing him in the top three among presidential contenders. Vice President Noli de Castro was No. 1 in the poll, with Erap placing second with former Senate President Manny Villar.

The other presidential aspirants are Senators Chiz Escudero, Loren Legarda, Mar Roxas, Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon, Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Chairman Bayani Fernando of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

Erap has said time and again that he would run for president if the opposition cannot field just one candidate. He sees no c…

15 more votes for Cha-Cha

BY Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

THIS is what the five bishops warned about just three weeks ago: Gloria Arroyo will ram Charter Change down the people’s throats.

A report from the House of Representatives yesterday said House Resolution 737 amending the economic provision of the Constitution has been signed by 163 congressmen. House Speaker Prospero Nograles, who authored the resolution, needs only 15 more signatures to meet the required 175 signatures, representing three-fourths of the House of Representatives membership to bring the resolution to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, then to the plenary.

The Cha-Cha train is cranking up. Destination: Beyond 2010.

This is what Press Secretary Jesus Dureza prayed for last Tuesday at the start of the Cabinet meeting: That Gloria Arroyo “have forbearance, good health, and tolerance to lead this nation until 2010, and who knows, perhaps even beyond.”

It was not a slip of the tongue. It was an announcement.

It’ …

Letter from Miguel Syjuco, winner of Man Asian Prize for the Novel

Chuck Syjuco wrote this letter and sent this to Flips, an e-group of Fil-Am writers. I am reprinting this here for all to know and see that we, indeed, have world-class literary talents in our midst.


For a long time I've been a quiet observer on these threads and discussions following your work, idolizing your achievements, dreaming of one day being able to publish a book and maybe teach creative writing, as so many of you have done before. For fifteen years I've written stories and poems and for three years I've worked slowly on this, my first, novel, drawing insight from your discussions, collecting details from the online editions of our dailies, calibrating my perception of the reality of our beloved country by scouring the myriad blogs.

Due to my frequent but never-frequent-enough trips home to Manila, the work you've all done, and all the encouragement I've received from those of you who've known me and my literary aspirations, I have suddenly, overnight…

Senatorial standings from the Pink Crystal Ball -- as of this day

I am sure you have read the results, again, of the Social Weather Stations survey on senatorial candidates for 2010 commissioned by former Senator Sergio Osmena. The names in the survey list were culled from a column by former Senator Ernesto Maceda in the Daily Tribune.

Oh these former senators!

Again, my name was not in the list given to respondents. I am sure the old, traditional politicians are afraid to put my name in that list. I think I know why.

But that is okay. The top 15 in the SWS survey jives with the results of the internal surveys, interviews, and FGDs we have been conducting the past two years through our groups in the provinces.

And so let me get my pink crystal ball, clean it, and peer into its depths again to draw the names of the possible top 12 senators for 2010.

Since the whole brouhaha started with the former senators, let us include their names and those of the reelectionist senators in the hula hoops of my pink crystal ball.

Among the reelectionists, the following …

Villar's ouster linked to 2010 polls

By Carmela Fonbuena
Monday, 17 November 2008
Newsbreak magazine

The ouster of Senator Manuel Villar as Senate president has everything to do with the 2010 elections given that his potential rivals all voted against him, analysts said. The change in leadership also shows that the opposition is divided, unable to rally behind a leader.

“The battle lines were clear when the whole [C-5] road issue began,” political analyst Manolo Quezon told By ousting Villar from the Senate presidency, his status as front runner in the 2010 presidential polls is weakened, he said.

“That levels the playing field for the presidential aspirants," said Joel Rocamora, former executive director and now research fellow of the Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD). "The position [of Senate president] gave Villar a big advantage."

Just weels before his ouster on Monday, Villar's popularity was on the rise and had climbed to second place behin…

De Castro Leads Poll, But Villar Closing In

By Rommel C. Lontayao, Reporter
The Manila Times

Vice President Noli de Castro topped the latest survey of likely presidential candidates for the 2010 elections, but former Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. narrowed the gap.

In a poll conducted by Pulse Asia from October 14 to 27, some 18 percent of the respondents said de Castro is their first choice as president in the next elections.

Villar and former President Joseph Estrada were tied for second, with 17 percent each.

And in a bittersweet development for Villar, who resigned as Senate president on Monday (see related front-page story), his popularity surged five percentage points from the last Pulse Asia survey that gave him only 12 percent.

Senator Francis Escudero was the fourth-most popular choice with 15 percent, followed by Senator Loren Legarda with 14 percent.

The other names picked by respondents include Senator Panfilo Lacson with 7 percent; Senator Manuel Roxas 2nd, 6 percent; and Makati City Mayor Jej…

The Audacity of Hubris

Ma'am Liling is right. Every other Tom, Dick and Harry (or Tomasa, Dikya, and Henrietta) has activated his or her youth arm, composed mostly of Sangguniang Kabataan runners. The want to woo the youth vote, but know not what this voting bloc wants, or wishes to have.

Barack Obama won because he started a grassroots movement. He thought hard what he wanted to do, and wrote them down in two well-received books. His is a bright mind distilled into wisdom; hope flamed into action.

There is no Filipino Barack Obama in sight. None yet. They have to go out of their houses, their cars, their shells, and roam the countryside, talk to the people, there in the grassroots -- where votes cannot be bought, and hopes have been shattered, and the longing for change is keenest.

Good luck to us all.


BY Leonor-Magtolis-Briones
The Business of Governance

The entire world is enthralled with Obama’s victory, including the Philippines. It is reported that in France, the search is on for …

Dove, eagle, lion

BY Danton Remoto
Planet English
The Business Mirror Front Page
November 17, 2008


That was the pseudonym of Jose Garcia Villa, our first National Artist for Literature, who wrote luminous poems in English in the first half of the 20th century. The qualities of the three animals he conflated into one word – Doveglion – and blazoned his poetry as among the century’s best.

Penguin Classics has just published the Collected Poems of Garcia Villa, to commemorate his birth centennial. The Pope of Greenwich Village, as Villa was known, belonged to the modern literary giants of the 1950s. This global poet set the standards for fiction and poetry in English in the Philippines, through his yearly list of the best and the worst works, notable for the acidic wit of his annotations. Such iconic American poets like Marianne Moore only had awe “for the reverence, the raptness, the depth of concentration in [his] bravely deep poems.” For her part, the grande dame of English poetry, Dame Edith Sit…

The Heart of Summer

BY Danton Remoto
Philippines Free Press Magazine

On the first day of April, we moved to a row house in a subdivision carved out of the Antipolo hills. A row house is a nice word for houses that somehow managed to fit into 120-square-meter lots. They looked like matchboxes, really, built near the riverbank. The larger houses, of course, stood grandly at the center of the village, in front of the chapel. We’d be renting the house from the mayor’s mistress, one of three houses she owned there.

The living room of the house spilled over into the kitchen. The house only had two tiny rooms, but it was enough for us. The owner of the apartment we had been renting in Project 4 wrote to us (in pink stationery with the letterhead “Dr. Antonina Raquiza, Ph. D.”) to say that she’d raise the monthly rent to five thousand. If we couldn’t agree to her new terms, we’d have two months to leave. Mama glared at the letter, then said something obscene about our landlady’s father. A day later, she began p…

Filipino author wins Asian book prize

Jubilation fills my heart. I just read this news. Chuck Syjuco was in my creative writing classes many moons ago. He just returned from Canada, came from a well-off clan, wanted to know about writing -- and about his country. I fed him books, which he read ravenously, and workshopped his stories over and over and over again.

Now he is on the brink of a global writing career. Hooray!!!


Agence France-Presse
First Posted 11:32:00 11/14/2008

HONG KONG -- A novel by Filipino author Miguel Syjuco, which touches on 150 years of often turbulent Philippines history, has won a major Asian literary prize, organizers said.

Syjuco's "Ilustrado" was awarded the second annual Man Asian Literary Prize, which is open to novels from the region not yet published in English.

"Ilustrado seems to us to possess formal ambition, linguistic inventiveness and socio-political insight in the most satisfying measure," the panel of three judges said in a statement, after awa…

And running . . . . .

The Senate hearing on Jocjoc Bolante yesterday officially opened the campaign season for the elections of May 2010. Miriam is running for re-election as senator, and has wisely begun to cut off her links with the Arroyo administration -- a sinking ship by any reckoning. She said Bolante's horrible lies almost made her suffer a heart attack.

Pia was there too, and shrewdly jogged our memory that she, too, is ever-present and would most certainly run for the senatorial elections. Check out those Downey ads for fabric conditioners. Who funded these ads? Hmmmm. The presidentials were in full fettle and finest form -- media covered Loren Legarda, in a cool, soft blue suit, head tilted at the right camera angle; and Mar Roxas in a well-cut, dark-blue suit, finally asking the tough questions -- in Tagalog. And there were Ping Lacson and also Manny Villar, and the frenzied media that rushed and broke through a glass door in the Senate, and the NGO activists in front of St Luke's Hospit…

My favorite teacher

I was a Legal Management major who shifted to Interdisciplinary Studies in my third year at the Ateneo. I could not balance the accounting books even if my whole life depended on it. The only thing I wanted to do was to go to the Rizal Library every afternoon, stand in front of the books in the PS 9991 category, and read the books of the best Philippine writers. One day, I told myself, I will also publish my own book. One book would be enough.

That semester, I enrolled in a class on Modern Poetry. Our room was on the third floor of Bellarmine Building, 4:30-7:30. The teacher arrived in a brown jacket, his hair tousled by the wind. He was Professor Emmanuel Torres. Before this class, I had read books of essays and fiction, but rarely poetry. I found poems impenetrable.

But Professor Torres simply made me see. He had that quality that many English teachers lacked – passion. He was brilliant, of course, but he also had passion for the subject that he was teaching. It was the kind of passio…

President Obama's acceptance speech

He said, from almost nothing 21months ago, to the presidency of the United States today. Nothing seems impossible. This should be food for thought for those who sneer at the campaign of the young, the brave, the new candidates in touch with the youth -- in the US and the Philippines, the largest block of voters around.


Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama-as prepared for delivery
Election Night
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the…

Catholic faculty heads will roll?

One of our letter writers asked if the Vatican pressured Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, President of the Ateneo, into writing a memorandum to the university reminding us that the Catholic line is anti-Reproductive Health? And that heads — presumably that of the faculty — will roll? I am sure no heads will roll, since Ateneo — like all universities, I presume — value academic freedom and freedom of expression.

I do not really know if the Vatican did that, and why would they? Based on news reports, what I know is that Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of the CBCP wrote to Fr. Nebres asking him why we, the Ateneo professors, wrote a declaration of support for the Reproductive Health bill. And since when last I looked the Jesuits are still Catholics, naturally they would follow the Catholic line of thought. That is just pure and simple obedience, which is one of the three things a priest is sworn to follow, along with celibacy and poverty. Some of of my priest-friends (both Jesuit and non-Jesuit) tell me …

Second sem blues

Danton Remoto
Remote Control | 11/04/2008 1:00 AM

The gloom of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days were lifted when I read my e-mail. I receive lots of letters every week, but this one from a young reader made my day.

“I would just like to express how much I appreciate your columns. You write with such wit, frankness, and passion that I often find myself laughing silently or agreeing ardently with your thoughts and views. You talk just about anything in your columns and no matter how varied the topics are, each article proves to be very much worthwhile. I highly value your opinions and insights on the different aspects of life.

“What you say and do, I believe, have helped hone my own ideals and principles as a person. You have inspired me to be more proactive about issues regarding our country through your writing. I applaud you for being the brave person that you are, continuing to rally for a better Philippines. I pray for more Filipinos like you; you are what our country ne…

Balikbayan claims Palanca win

From the Daily Tribune

Chuck Syjuco was a student of mine at the Ateneo and I am justly proud to have taught him. His novel has won the Palanca Grand Prize for the Novel and -- along with the novel of Krip Yuson -- has been shortlisted for the Man Asia Award for the Novel. The last time I saw him was in Starbucks Greenwich Village in New York in 2001. I was returning to the Philippines after my graduate studies in the States; he was starting his. I gave him a short tour of the village and the bookstores, and we parted ways. Now he is on the way up, up, up. Hurray!


All his life, Miguel Syjuco has dreamt of winning a Palanca Award. And now, the Montreal, Canada-based expatriate Filipino writer has fulfilled his dream and won the much coveted grand prize in the competition’s novel category.

His entry was an intricately structured novel which he tried to finish for three years while working full-time as copy editor of Quebec’s largest newspaper, The Montreal Gazette.

In an interview before…