Holiday

As my friend from Thailand wrote me, "Happy All Saints' Dal."

Sawadeeka!

Bishops can be wrong

Of course, I am one of the signatories to this open letter. And I have signified my intention to join public discussions on this bill. Let the debates begin!

***

Editorial
Manila Standard Today


A heavy-handed attempt by the bishops to silence dissent on the reproductive health bill among thinking Catholics is backfiring.

Yesterday, 55 more faculty members of the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University joined 14 of their colleagues who last week urged the passage of House Bill 5043, which the Church has condemned as “anti-life.”

This was probably the exact opposite effect that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines hoped to achieve when its president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, wrote Ateneo president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres to lay down the law on the bill.

In his letter, Lagdameo asked Nebres to explain why the 14 original faculty members, including some from the Department of Theology, had publicly declared their support for the bill.

The pressure from the bishops prompted Nebres to issue a memo to the Ateneo community, reminding them that the university, as a Catholic institution, must toe the Church line and oppose the reproductive health bill.

But the 55 professors who joined their colleagues this week would have none of that, and urged the bishops instead to reconsider their position and support the bill.

The professors said they are alarmed that an estimated 473,400 Filipino women had abortions in 2000, simply because they did not have access to birth control.

“We consider it our guilt and our shame that so many of our women should be driven to such dire straits as to make abortion a family planning method, for want of information on and access to an effective means to prevent an unplanned pregnancy,” their declaration of support said.

They also resisted pressure to toe the Church line in their classes. As Catholic educators, they said it was incumbent upon them to teach their students that the bill was not immoral, as the Church claims.

Instead, they said, the bill is pro-life and pro-women. It also categorically rejects abortion and seeks to prevent it by offering couples an array of medically safe, legal, affordable and quality family planning methods, from which they can choose the one that will work best for them.

This is certainly not what the bishops wanted to hear, but the fact that they are getting this kind of a reaction should tell them something about how out of touch they are with their flock. It also reminds us that clerics, like all humans, are fallible. But then we already knew that—when they opposed HB 5043.

More Ateneo profs defy Church on birth control

By Christine F. Herrera
Manila Standard Today

GOING against an admonition from Catholic bishops, at least 55 professors from the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University have joined 14 of their colleagues who last week urged the passage of the reproductive health bill.

The Ateneo teachers not only refused to toe the Church line to reject the bill, but urged the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to reconsider its position and take into account the lives of 473,400 women who resorted to abortion because they lacked an effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The 69 Catholic educators wrote to the 240 members of the House of Representatives and the 23-member Senate and attached to their letter an 11-page Declaration of Support for the Immediate Passage of House Bill 5043, which seeks to establish a national policy on family planning.

The bill supports the use of contraceptives such as condoms, and age-appropriate sex education in schools, both of which the Church opposes.

The Ateneo professors, including those from the Department of Theology, the Ateneo Law School and the Ateneo School of Medicine, also furnished the Catholic bishops and Ateneo president Bienvenido Nebres a copy of their declaration of support.

Nebres, who was prompted to issue a memo to the Ateneo community last week after CBCP president Angel Lagdameo made him explain the 20-page position paper of the original 14 Ateneo professors, went on a week-long retreat and could not be reached for comment.

Asked if she feared dismissal for defying the bishops, professor Mary Racelis of the Department of Sociology-Anthropology said: “Ateneo is an academic institution. I hope it will not come to that.

“We want the bishops to look at our position and to read the reproductive health bill so that the clergy will understand that contrary to their long-held belief, the RH bill is pro-poor, anti-abortion, pro-women and pro-life,” said Racelis, who has been with Ateneo since 1960 and now teaches graduate school.

The professors said they were alarmed that an estimated 473,400 Filipino women had abortions in 2000, and that some 79,000 of them wound up in hospitals with complications.

“We consider it our guilt and our shame that so many of our women should be driven to such dire straits as to make abortion a family planning method, for want of information on and access to an effective means to prevent an unplanned pregnancy,” their declaration of support said.

“We believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life, whether that life is the mother’s or the unborn child’s,” the professors said.

As Catholic educators, Racelis said it was incumbent upon them to teach their students that the RH bill was not “immoral” as the Church claims.

“We respect the consciences of our bishops when they promote natural family planning as the only moral means of contraception. In turn, we ask our bishops to respect the one in three [35.6 percent] married Filipino women who, in their most secret core and sanctuary or conscience, have decided that their and their family’s interests would best be served by using a modern artificial means of contraception,” they said.

They asked the bishops and their fellow Catholics not to block the passage of HB 5043, which, they said, promoted women’s and couples’ access to the full range of safe, legal and effective modern natural and artificial family planning methods, from which they can choose the one most suitable to their needs and personal and religious convictions.

“We call on our legislators in Congress and in the Senate to pass the RH bill. Doing so upholds the constitutional right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions; honors our commitments to international covenants and promotes the reproductive health and reproductive rights of Filipinos, especially of those who are most marginalized on this issue—our women, poor families, and youth,” the professors said.

Aware that the RH bill will be taken up by the House plenary on second reading starting on Nov. 10, when Congress resumes its sessions, the professors said they hope their expression of support could help enrich and broaden the discussions and debates on the issue of reproductive health and population development.

They told the House and Senate that the declaration of support was an alternative view coming from Catholic academics and educators.

“We further believe that it is possible for Catholics like ourselves to support HB 5043 in good conscience, even as we recognize, with some anguish, that our view contradicts the position held by some of our fellow Catholics, including our bishops.

“The RH bill is pro-life and pro-women. HB 5043 categorically rejects abortion. What it, in fact, wants to do is prevent abortions by offering couples an array of medically safe, legal, affordable and quality family planning methods, from which they can choose the one that will work best for them,” they said.

Manila Pride March 2008

Bishops call for GMA's ouster

BY Ellen Tordesillas
www.malaya.com.ph

That was one great statement that the Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, released yesterday. He practically called for the ouster of Gloria Arroyo.

Not in 2010 but now.

In a statement he read flanked by four other progressive-thinking bishops namely, Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Bataan Bishop Socrates Villegas, Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon, and Legazpi Bishop Emeritus Jose Sorra, Lagdameo said: "The time to start radical reforms is now. The time for moral regeneration is now. The time to conquer complacency, cynicism and apathy and to prove that we matured from our political disappointments is now. The time to prepare a new government is now. "

In the open forum, Lagdameo said Gloria Arroyo is not capable of instituting reforms because he said, "I believe that the President is corrupt."

The question and answer portion with Bishop Cruz was fascinating. Asked if Arroyo can lead the radical reforms, he replied, "Siempre hindi."


Q: How about Vice President Noli de Castro?

Cruz: Walang ganyanan.

Q: How about Senate President Manny Villar?

Cruz: Walang ganyanan.

Q: How about House Speaker Prospero Nograles?

Cruz: Walang ganyanan.

Q: How about Chief Justice Reynato Puno?

Cruz: Pwede.

Q: How about AFP Chief Alexander Yano?

Cruz: Okay yun.

Q: Have you met with General Yano?

Cruz: Tama na. tama na.

It is about time that leaders of the Catholic Church whose consciences haves not been numbed by Malacañang’s cash donations, do what they preach. They cannot be preaching "Thou shalt not steal" while closing their eyes on the thievery of Arroyo and her cohorts. Worse, accepting the fruits of Arroyo’s crimes.

Many Catholics have already given up on the CBCP when it comes to giving them guidance at this time when democratic institutions are degraded to protect Arroyo’s hold on power.

Lagdameo and the four bishops seriously doubt there will be an election in 2010 despite Arroyo’s pledge there would be one.

Cruz said their sources say "Elections in 2010 is a big dream. In short, elections in 2010 up to this time that I’m talking, is a moral impossibility."

He asked the media to be on the alert when Congress opens on Nov. 10. "Charter change will be an open, public and well funded move in the Lower House. Whether it will triumph in the Senate is still debatable. But then I repeat, no more camouflage, no more double-talk, no more indirect insinuations. Charter change will be an honest-to-goodness agenda for Congress," he said.

Arroyo’s Cha-cha, Cruz said, will be through a constitutional assembly. "The moment it passes the Lower House, and the moment it passes Senate and there is a plebiscite, then it is done, because the local governments are all at the command of Malacañang."

Cruz said the charter change that Arroyo is crusading "is not for patriotic reasons."

"It is intended principally, basically and fundamentally to extend the term of office of the incumbent. I hope to God and I pray very dearly that I am wrong but that is what I know," he said.

***

On creative writing








Creative writing classes are held at UP, UST, Ateneo and De La Salle. It is true that most of the enrollees are undergraduates, with a few graduate students. Older people can take these courses on audit, or sit in with the permission of the teacher.

LIRA, through National Artist and UP College of Arts and Letters Dean Rio Alma, also holds free workshops. But this is devoted mostly to poetry in Filipino. Roland Tolentino of the UP Department of Mass Communication used to hold creative writing sessions for fiction in Filipino, while the late Rene Villanueva did the same, focusing on writing for children. I am not sure if Roland still does it. Kuting, a group of writers of children’s books, is continuing what Rene has left with his early, untimely death.

Dr. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo of UP used to hold such sessions, especially for the field of creative nonfiction. But now she is the VP for Public Relations of UP, and has no more time to do so. I taught Creative Writing: Nonfiction in Ateneo last semester, but none this semester. As I have written earlier, I will take a leave from teaching beginning April of 2009.

I do not know of any course on creative writing focused on “older” people working in NGOs and other professions and groups. Dr. Butch Dalisay of UP does teach a course called Writing for the Professions, but it includes other kinds of writing like speech writing, publicity work, etc. I am not sure if this is what some of our readers want to do or study.

What I can do is to list down the books I require my students to read, in the hope that it might help in one way or another. This is focused on nonfiction, or what we used to call the personal or informal essay. You may quibble with the politics (or lack of it) of these books, but I think they might help with sharpening the language of our texts:

1. The Elements of Style — Strunk and White. Short, snappy, fundamental text that summarized everything you want to know to write with pith, pitch, and passion.

2. A Reader Over Your Shoulder — Robert Graves. He analyzes the prose styles and actual writing samples of many writers and tells you why they work — and why they don’t.

3. The Paris Review Interviews: Writers at Work — George Plimpton, et al. Editor. A series of interviews of writers asking them about their craft, inspiration, writing process, et. al.

4. Author’s Choice, Adventures in a Forgotten Country, The Plain and the Simple. All by Kerima Polotan. Sharp, satirical, funny and sad essays about politics, culture, country and family.

5. Whatever, Myself Elsewhere, Legends & Adventures. All by Carmen Guerrero Nakpil. The master — or mistress — of the essay writes about history, politics, and how she found herself trapped between its walls.

This is all for now. Sorry I cannot be of much help. I am writing my dissertation for the Ph.D. in English, which I should defend before March of 2009.

'If the opposition cannot unite, I'll consider running for president'













www.newsbreak.com.ph

One year ago, former President Estrada walked a free man after six and a half-years under house arrest. Abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak met with Estrada in his residence Wednesday. Aries Rufo and Purple Romero talked to him about his past and his future.

It’s been year since you've been pardoned.
I’m happy that I can be with our people again. I missed them for 6 and ½ years. My life has always been with the people: as a movie actor, a public official, mayor, senator, vice president, president, always with the people. All of a sudden I was arrested, I was confined all alone, all my cellphones were confiscated, and I was not allowed to talk to the media, or to friends. I was only allowed to talk with my close relatives. So it was really a relief when I was released.

Before you were granted pardon, you said, “I would not accept presidential pardon.”
There was a series of negotiations by Sec. Ronnie Puno. They insisted that I write it down, so that I get pardoned. And I would not.

So what happened?
So there was a compromise. My lawyer would write the letter. I know that if I file a motion for reconsideration, I would still lose. If I elevate it to the Supreme Court, I will lose. There was no way out for me. The Chief justice, he penned the decision.... (The SC ruled that Estrada had constructively resigned).

What made you finally decide to accept the presidential pardon?
First, my mother is seriously ill, she’s now living on life support. So I want to be at her bedside. And of course I miss the people. I could do more outside, than if I’m inside.

The condition that you shouldn’t run for any public office, is it binding?
No, no. It says "restoring my civil and political rights." The most important is “restoring”

What is your reservation in running for president (in 2010)? Is it legal, constitutional?
I consulted my legal staff, legal luminaries, two former chief justices, it’s constitutional (for me to run).

Who are your closest advisers right now?
My lawyers, Chief Justice (Andres) Narvasa, Estelito Mendoza, some political advisers.

So why the hesitation?
Maybe if I could see somebody who could really put into work what I had in mind, service to the masses, why not give it to him?

But if you become president again, got voted by the people again, you might get your full vindication.
By supporting the candidate in the elections, that could be total vindication.

Are you more comfortable as kingmaker or as the king?
Well, of course I would be more comfortable if I’m doing it. But you know, in presidency, I believe in destiny. Nobody believed that a college dropout could be president.

You said if the opposition, cannot unite, you might run.
Definitely, if they cannot unite, I’ll consider running.

Are you referring to Villar, Lacson, Legarda. Is Roxas part of them?
Yes, he’s still in the opposition. Including Chiz Escudero, including Mayor (Jejomar) Binay.

The poor have showed their support for you four times. When they elected you as president, when they protested in EDSA, when they voted for Loi (former senator Luisa Ejercito) and when they voted for Jinggoy. Do you still need a re-affirmation?
If possible, I want total vindication.

And how would that be?
That, I don’t know. It’s destiny. I’m praying hard.

You don’t feel you’ve gotten total vindication?
In the twilight of my life, I want to leave a legacy that I championed the cause of the masses. And I have not done that yet because my term was short-lived, 2 ½ years.

But do you see an opportunity?
Hopefully. Right now I’ve lived my life to the fullest. I’ve been a movie actor, a superstar, a mayor, one of the ten outstanding mayors, a senator, I was also voted as vice-president, president.

In 1986, during EDSA I, after being mayor for 17 years, I was removed. Then I was able to return as a senator.

2010 is just around the corner. That could be an opportunity.
I could not predict. I’m praying very hard to the Holy Spirit to guide me.

You’ve been removed twice. But the first time, you came back. Do you see yourself repeating history?
Only God only knows where my future lies.

Jinggoy has been following in your footsteps. Is the vice presidency the next agenda?
I don’t think so, I told him it’s not yet the right time. He will run against heavyweights. You don’t know if Chiz Escudero or Loren would step down.

Would you say Filipino voters right now are more intelligent, more discerning?
Yes. (He mentioned the election losses of actors Richard Gomez and Cesar Montano).

But Vilma Santos won.
That’s only local.

On betrayal and lessons learned
In those six years (under house arrest), you had time to reflect.
During the first six months, I had terrible feelings, why suddenly…there were people who betrayed me, who were telling all lies. They made me look like a criminal. So you know when you are alone, you feel so depressed.

What have you realized?
The voice of the people is the voice of God. The people express their voice through the ballots. And in the history of our presidential elections, I got the biggest margin of votes against my opponent.

Can you talk about betrayal and forgiveness?
When I was incarcerated, two years, three years, I did that. I prayed. And then I studied. I came across a book by Mahatma Gandhi. There’s a saying there – “The weak couldn’t forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

You realized there is salvation?
That’s right. All of a sudden, so many wanted to see me. Like for example, Mayor Lim, he was my secretary of the local government. He just asked permission to leave for a while to meet the police. He didn’t do that. He went straight to EDSA 2- and when he arrived Cory told him – “You’re too late.”

He went to me and asked forgiveness. I forgave him. After that he asked me if he could possibly be included in the Senate lineup of FPJ, which I did. I did not only forgive, I even helped him become senator.

You’ve been betrayed before.
I can see now who’s with me or not.

You can discern?
I’m gifted now.

Personally, what lesson did you learn (about EDSA 2)?
Well, sometimes, I want to blame myself. Maybe I should be more careful. For example, those people who were traitors to me. They were not close to me. When you become president, there are people who have agenda for themselves. Like Chavit. He’s not that close to me.

You were given the chance to leave the country but you chose to stay.
I was offered twice to leave the country. First, we met at the residence of Mrs. Chito Madrigal-Collantes at Forbes Park. The offer was I can live in the country of my choice, there will be no charges filed against me, and I can bring anything. On the condition that in writing, I will sign, I will write, that I resign as the president of the Republic of the Philippines. That was the condition. Twice I was offered. Twice I rejected it.

Was it your sole decision or were you advised by lawyers?
It was my sole decision. Nobody can advise me on that kind of issue. I told Sec. Nani Perez, I am innocent of all these charges. Second, I cannot leave the millions of Filipino people, especially the masses that voted and trusted me. I was born here, I grew up here, and I will die here. You can do anything you want. I will not leave this country. Those are my exact words.

After less than a month, I was arrested here. Over 3,000 policemen surrounded.... They made me look like an ordinary criminal. I was finger-printed, they got my mug shot.

What's the lesson of EDSA 2?
Not to be overconfident. Even in the impeachment, I still had a positive approval rating. I didn’t know that the civil society and the Church were already conspiring.

But my mind is still concentrated on how I can help the poor. So I put up this Rebolusyon Kontra Gutom, I got some donations from Taiwan.

Did you have time to write a book (while in Tanay)?
I’ve been reading the book of Reagan. I memorized Reagan’s inaugural speech: “The government is not the solution because the government is the problem. If the people make a peaceful revolution possible, they could make a violent revolution inevitable."

What book are you reading right now?
I must confess I don’t have time to read books right now. (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)

5 Catholic leaders say 'time to prepare for new gov't is now'






by ARIES RUFO, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 10/28/2008 3:16 PM

Are Church leaders now ready to back attempts to oust the Arroyo government?

In its strongest position yet indicating that they are ready to give their blessings for what may be a drastic change in government, five bishops, led by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Angel Lagdameo, condemned the unabated “top to bottom” corruption in government and asked the public to shake the status quo.

Lagdameo went as far as assuring the public that “liberators” may be just around the corner.

“In response to the global economic crisis and the pitiful state of our country, the time to rebuild our country economically, socially, politically, is now. The time to start radical reforms is now. The time for moral regeneration is now. The time to conquer complacency, cynicism and apathy to prove that we have matured from our political statements is now. The time to prepare a new government is now,” Lagdameo said in a forum organized by the CBCP.

Lagdameo added the public should not lose hope that changing the present system is futile. “In spite of the seemingly hopeless and negative prognosis, our liberation may yet serendipitously happen. We are dreaming, praying and hoping that our county may yet have the needed liberators.”

It is hoped that these “liberators,” Lagdameo said, “will in a courageous peaceful way effectively and uncompromisingly reform our country.”

Also present in the forum were Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Bataan Bishop Socrates Villegas, Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon and Bishop Emeritus Jose Sorra. We learned that seven more bishops would have attended the forum but cancelled for some reasons.

Active involvement

Villegas urged the public “not to be passive” but engage “in active involvement” in effecting a change in governance. He noted that curbing corruption by only half of its present level would immensely benefit the country. “The problem is not population, the problem is rampant corruption,” Villegas said.

He said that the country would have been better prepared to deal with the ongoing global financial crisis if not for corruption.

Cruz said the country is now in a “precarious, dangerous and critical situation” because of massive corruption and directly blamed the “incumbent occupant” in Malacanang as the culprit.

In his statement, Lagdameo took to task the government’s claim that prosperity is now being felt by the masses pointing out that 20 million people will surely disagree with this, as shown by surveys. He said rampant poverty and hunger are directly related with rampant graft and corruption “which has invaded all public and private institutions.”

Endemic corruption

Lagdameo noted that corruption under the past few years of the Arroyo government up to present has become “endemic and systemic.”

He pointed to “overprized projects, multi-billion scams of various kinds, election manipulations, anomalous transactions, bribery of both high and low, unsolved murders of media practitioners” as the “faces and symptoms of corruption.”

He lamented that the country is now tagged as one of the most corrupt country in Asia, based on a survey conducted by Transparency International. “If we are not horrified, disgusted, exasperated and enraged by these realities, can we still we love our country?” Lagdameo said.

The bishops’ statements came on the heels of the arrival of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante from the US following futile efforts of seeking asylum there. Bolante, tagged as the main architect of the P728-million fertilizer scam, had claimed political persecution but US immigration junked his alibi.

Also providing backdrop was the current “euro” scandal in the Philippine National Police where four police officers, including one retired, are set to be charged with unauthorized release of intelligence funds, and the fresh impeachment initiatives against the President.

Church leaders have been criticized for just waiting in the sidelines and giving mixed signals on its verdict on the Arroyo administration. At the height of the wiretap scandal, where the President was caught on tape giving orders to disgraced poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the canvassing of the results in the presidential elections, the CBCP sought for truth but withheld passing a guilty verdict. Lack of active Church support has been cited as one of the major dampeners on attempts to oust Arroyo.

'Trapo' unmasks . . . himself

By Dan Mariano
Opinion Section
The Manila times

Not a few listeners nearly fell off their chairs when they heard Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano’s remarks in a recent radio interview on the threat of Sen. Panfilo Lacson to bare new evidence linked to the alleged double budget insertion attributed to Senate President Manuel Villar.

Cayetano, predictably enough, pooh-poohed Lacson’s warning. However, what floored listeners was his remark that the threat “is typical of Senator Lacson’s style of disclosing alleged evidences to media on a piecemeal basis in order to create suspense and grab public attention.”

Confused, listeners could not help but ask: Wasn’t Lacson’s trademark “piecemeal disclosure” the very same style that gave both the Gentleman from Cavite and the Gentleman from Taguig stellar media billing during the National Broadband Network (NBN) controversy?

Wasn’t that the very same style that helped Cayetano hog the limelight when he peddled innuendoes that Mike Arroyo had millions stashed in some European banks?

Is Cayetano now condemning piecemeal disclosure, which proved to be an effective media strategy for himself and his committee in the past? Had not Cayetano himself engaged in the same brand of political striptease, as in Abangan ang susunod na kabanata?

Is he condemning this style because it seems to be working against his newfound principal, the now-controversial Senate President?

It appears that, as far as Cayetano is concerned, piecemeal disclosure that keeps the media and the public excited over an issue is acceptable only if it is used by him—and an aberration if used by his principal’s tormentors.

Does Cayetano now find unpalatable a dose of his own medicine—or has he switched roles, from an accuser to an apologist?

At first, observers could not understand why the Villar camp appears to have handpicked Cayetano as chief defender of the beleaguered Senate boss. They thought that pitting Cayetano against the older, more seasoned Lacson could put the Blue Ribbon committee chairman at a major disadvantage.

On second thought, the tack has turned out to be a brilliant move. Since Cayetano and Lacson have teamed up in several probes against administration personalities, the Villar camp may have reckoned that the former would be the perfect foil to the latter.

Cayetano, after all, is all too familiar with how Lacson operates. His recent “condemnation” of piecemeal disclosure proves as much.

The Villar camp’s tack, however, is costing Cayetano a lot. The Senate boss now owes his younger colleague big time. Observers can only hope that he amply reward him.

By scrimmaging with Lacson, Cayetano has revealed himself to be well schooled in the ways of traditional politics. He stands staunchly against a Senate probe of Villar’s alleged double insertion for the infamous road-to-nowhere.

His most recent reincarnation is in sharp contrast to the previous image of Cayetano that a large section of the public appreciated—a young lawmaker who would investigate anything against the administration, even if his inquiry were based on nothing more than coffee shop gossip.

Senate reporters predict that Lacson will not take Cayetano’s tirades sitting down. The former top cop, many believe, is just waiting for the right timing.

A major issue that Lacson is expected to raise against Cayetano is the Blue Ribbon committee report on the NBN fiasco. Observers suspect that the unfinished report has become collateral damage in the Cayetano-Lacson tiff.

The betting among Senate kibitzers is that Cayetano could consider watering down the credibility of the witnesses surfaced by Lacson. Cayetano may have little choice on the matter. If he were to vouch for the credibility of Lacson’s NBN resource persons, he would be hard put questioning Lacson’s credibility in the latter’s current assault against Villar on the double-insertion issue.

The escalating conflict between Cayetano and Lacson has had another collateral damage: Joey de Venecia’s impeachment bid. Already, the latest complaint against President Arroyo has received tepid reception from even the opposition in the House of Representatives.

The former speaker’s son and namesake would be dismayed to find out that his impeachment bid faces even dimmer prospects in the Senate. His erstwhile patrons—the now-feuding Katzen–jammer Kids who made him famous—have become bitter political foes.

Highly unlikely is the possibility that Lacson and Cayetano would bury the hatchet for Joey de Venecia’s sake.

dansoy26@yahoo.com

Reproductive Health

EDITORIAL
Philippine STAR
www.philstar.com
Monday, October 27, 2008


Seventy-six percent of Filipinos want family planning education in public schools, and 71 percent of the country’s Catholics favor the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill. Those are the results of a nationwide survey taken late last month by the Social Weather Stations. The results should allay concerns of lawmakers who are currently deliberating on House Bill 5043, or The Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood, and Population Development Act of 2008.

Apart from promoting programs that will benefit women’s reproductive health, HB 5043 aims to introduce sex education in public schools and provide access to artificial contraceptives. Sex education is already being taught in grade school in certain exclusive schools. Women with sufficient education and financial means are aware of both natural and artificial methods of birth control, and how the right choice could be good for their reproductive health.

That choice has been withheld from millions of poor women, who have been kept in the dark about birth control and have been denied access to artificial methods of contraception. That choice is what the reproductive health bill offers to the women who most need information on family planning.

Sex education will have to go hand in hand with lessons on responsible parenthood and the virtues of abstinence. Those lessons will be backed by the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is unlikely to budge on its concepts about the start of life and the evils of artificial contraception. In this predominantly Catholic country, the Church should have no trouble persuading its flock. But the persuasion should be done with all the choices clearly laid out, and with the faithful exercising free will — a bedrock of Christian faith.

As enshrined in the Constitution, no religion is supposed to dictate national policy. A line must be drawn between matters of state and the spirit. There would not even be a need for legislating the promotion of women’s reproductive health if the administration did not feel beholden to the Catholic Church for political survival. Previous administrations had pursued family planning programs in varying degrees. The results of non-commissioned surveys should encourage lawmakers to bring the issue of women’s reproductive health out of the Dark Ages.

to bikol again

my uncle died of lung cancer yesterday so we are flying to albay in two batches -- early today for my parents, and tomorrow for mine.

so it is back to bicol again.

as for erap in ilocos, he said he just wants to thank the people for trusting him. oh yes.

either he is running for president, as i have said. or his son jinggoy will run as VP, with erap as the king behind the scene.

and do not snub jinggoy! he running neck and neck with chiz in internal surveys for the vice-presidency.

kahit na ano ang sabihin ng middle classes, malakas pa rin ang erap support. i peg it at a minimum of 30 to a maximum of 40 percent of the voters.

so those who snub him and his son do so, at their own peril.

President Obama!

By Ducky Paredes
Ang Pahayagang Malaya
www.malaya.com.ph

It is 16 days before the United States of America chooses its president who will preside over the affairs of the USA and (because it is the only superpower left) the world.

When the campaign began almost a year ago, the question that came to everyone’s mind was whether America had finally lost its racial bias and would consider all candidates, regardless of race or color, as possible presidents; or would there be a resurgence of racial discrimination? Would a black candidate prove to be a wedge driven into the racial mix that would effectively divide the races once again? Would there be return to race discrimination and a return, on the side of the discriminated, to black power?

Now, looking back, those fears seem overstated; the world now sees an America that has completely outgrown its ugly years. No matter what happens to Barack Obama and John McCain, it is clear that any person of any race or color who is a natural-born American has as much of a chance as any other American to become president.

One reason that this has happened is that Senator Barrack Obama is a singularly driven man who set out to make his dream of becoming president come true and who planned his campaign coolly and competently.

The other reason is that Senator John McCain ran a campaign that looked as if, in the words of one analyst, it was managed by Curly, Larry and Moe. McCain missed a lot of chances to push his agenda, got lost in the intricacies of the problems facing the United States and basically flubbed his chances. Obama’s campaign hardly erred.

This shows that Obama is actually a better manager and has a better eye for staff that can do the job than does McCain.

Two months ago, they were virtually tied. As each day passed (and the financial crisis sank into the minds and lives of American voters), McCain steadily lost ground so that with two weeks to go, he is in real danger of losing the election, if he has not already done so.

Their election in the US is different from ours. Philippine elections for the presidency are won by the person who takes the most number of votes nationwide. This is called the popular vote. While the popular vote also applies to the US, this is applied on a state-by-state basis. The popular vote determines the 538 who will sit in the Electoral College who will elect the president. While each state, to begin with, has two votes representing the number of their senators in the US Senate, the rest of the 438 come from the number of congressmen in the House. Thus, a state with more congressmen because it is more populous sends more voters to the electoral college. The one with the higher number of electoral votes wins the election. California has the highest number of electoral votes at 55. Texas is second at 34.

Because of the way that the electoral college has been set up, a person who takes the majority in the popular vote nationwide could still lose the election because he didn’t have enough electoral votes, as in 1998 when Al Gore had more total popular votes but George W. Bush had the electoral votes.

One reason Obama will win is that he planned his campaign with the idea of capturing the electoral votes rather than the popular vote. This is the way that he beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. She captured more of the popular vote but Obama took several states whose electoral votes just added up. This is again how he will beat McCain although Obama could also win the popular vote.

Obama has used the internet more effectively than any other candidate. For instance, when he chose his vice president – Senator Joe Biden – he announced this to his faithful with over a million text messages from Obama to everyone who had worked on his campaign. Think on that.

Contrast this to McCain who admits to little knowledge of the internet and computers.

To see how Obama did it on a state-by-state basis, let us look at the "schlep" campaign. "Schlep" is the Yiddish word meaning to pull, yank or tug.

The fact is that most Jews are better-educated and richer than the average American. In Florida, for instance, where Bush beat Gore by a hair and with all of Florida’s 27 electoral votes, sealed the election, there are an estimated 650,000 mostly retired Jewish voters. For many of them, voting for an African-American is an impossibility. They would just never even think about it. It is not a question of race. Most Jews have simply never known anyone who was African-American.

But, that applies to the older generation; the present generation of younger Jews relate with everyone – even blacks.

The idea behind the Great Schlep was that young, Jewish Democrats would flood Florida and convince their elders that voting for Obama was OK. This was the plan that will probably deliver Florida to the Obama camp.

Obama will win because he planned his path to the winner’s circle well. At this point in the campaign, Obama looks like this is a campaign that is for him to lose. Let us hope he does not. Obama will give America a face that the rest of the world can better relate to. After all, there are more people of color (different hues) in this world than there are whites.

***

Pinoy internet users can help make their country better known to the world and the Internet by downloading the application called Google Map Maker. This was launched in the country by regional executives of Google two weeks ago in a Makati hotel.

Google, which provides maps of many countries and cities and towns say that "no good base line maps exist" for the Philippines.

Jason Chuck, Google product marketing manager for Asia Pacific, said in a presentation that the application is aimed at solving the lack of up-to-date local maps.

"Google Map Maker is leveraging the knowledge of local experts found in every neighborhood and in every town and city. Since the map data is collected from people who have firsthand knowledge of the area, the information becomes more meaningful and relevant to users," said Chuck.

The new tool is expected to augment the company’s Google Maps and Google Earth, which can provide satellite images of the Philippines but without the street names and useful information that a tourist or investor needs in navigating the country’s largely unmapped topography.

Information generated through Google Map Maker can be integrated in Google Maps once validation has been done.

All you need to do is download the software, then you can tell the world where you used to play tumbang preso, where the girl you loved to watch walked her way to school lived and where the eating is good in your neighborhood.

Erap: With solons bought, how can impeach succeed?

www.malaya.com.ph
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

BACOLOD CITY – President Joseph Estrada Sunday said the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo will not prosper because the administration is buying congressmen and the opposition is not united.

"With the situation now na malapit na ang election, siyempre kailangan nang mga kakampi niya (Arroyo) sa Kongreso yong pera, kailangan bayaran naman ito," Estrada said.

"Kaya natutuwa yong mga congressmen pag may impeachment, dahil kikita naman sila, di ba? Gusto nila taon-taon may impeachment para kumita naman sila," he said in jest.

Estrada arrived Sunday for a two-day speaking engagement in Negros Occidental,

The House minority has admitted they would need a miracle to save the impeachment complaint filed by businessman Joey de Venecia and civil society groups last Monday.

The minority have to muster 79 votes, or one third of the 236-member House of Representatives to transmit the complaint to Senate for trial.

Estrada also admitted he remains a key factor in unifying the opposition, an opinion shared by Sen. Francis Escudero.

"Definitely, it is because marami pa rin sumusuporta sa kanya (Estrada)," Escudero said.

Escudero was a judge at the MassKara Queen beauty pageant Saturday.

Estrada said he will try his best to unite them "to have one presidential candidate to ensure victory of the opposition."

He denied reports that he was among the "busiest presidentiables" as he has been going around the country.

Sen. Mar Roxas was also in Negros Occidental. He arrived Friday.

"If that is what they think, then, they are already afraid. As what I have said earlier, if I cannot unite the opposition, then I will run. That is my last option," Estrada said.

The impeachment complaint accuses Arroyo of betrayal of public trust for approving the National Broadband Network (NBN) telecommunications deal with China’s ZTE Corp., saying that the deal was overpriced by at least $130M; culpable violation of the Constitution for approving the NorthRail rehabilitation project; human rights violations; graft and corruption for her administration’s involvement in various irregularities including the P728 million fertilizer scam, P2 billion swine scam; and, alleged ballot-switching in 2004.

Administration congressmen dismissed the impeachment complaints in 2005 and 2006 by Oliver Lozano and in 2007 by lawyer Roel Pulido for lacking in substance.

Estrada said he will try to mediate between warring Senate President Manuel Villar and Sen. Panfilo Lacson in a bid to unite the opposition.

"I have not given up. Perhaps we will know everything a year before the elections itself," he said.

But Estrada said that he will not force the issue.

"Maybe we can talk after December. Pabayaan muna natin sila na magkalabasan ng sama ng loob tapos saka na natin kausapin," said Estrada, the titular head of the United Opposition (UNO).

Lacson had exposed the alleged "double insertions" for the C-5 road project saying the money trail led him to Villar.

Lacson’s expose resulted in a divided opposition in the Senate with Alan Peter Cayetano siding with Villar and Jamby Madrigal choosing to side with Lacson.

Estrada also chided President Arroyo over her pronouncement of a $10 billion fund as pledged by World Bank (WB) for a standby fund in case the Asean region is affected by the US financial crunch. – Gilbert Bayoran and Ashzel Hachero

Can Catholics support the RH bill? Yes!

BY Mary Racelis
www.newsbreak.com.ph

Growing numbers of professional and educated lay Filipino Catholics believe they can. Increasingly uneasy that the unshakeable position of the Church contradicts directly their own understandings of Philippine realities, many are actually reading the bill to see for themselves – and emerging as its supporters.

Catholic NGO workers, social workers, and social science researchers working in poor rural and urban communities overflowing with malnourished, out-of-school children and youth have particular problems with the Church position. They find it difficult to accept that poor mothers and fathers who want to avoid a fourth or fifth pregnancy or wait a few years before the next one, should be condemned for choosing reliable, contraceptive family planning methods.

One urban poor woman was asked what the Church might say about her practice of saving part of her meager earnings to buy birth control pills every month. Her reply: “Ang simbahan ba ang magpapakain sa mga anak namin? (Will the Church feed my children?)”

Then there is the deafening silence of the Church on how to respond to the thousands of poor women who undergo clandestine, unsafe abortions for lack of access to modern family planning. In 2000, 473,000 women had induced abortions, 79,000 of them winding up in hospitals from complications, and 800 leaving as corpses.

The World Health Organization estimates that this already alarming 2000 statistic may by 2008 be as high as 800,000! Yet the Church remains in denial. Its spokespersons claim that their calculations yield “only 200,000” induced abortions.

Meanwhile, desperate women eking out a meager living for four to eight children and possibly supporting an unemployed or chronically drunk husband as well, consider the prospect of another child to be unthinkable - and go for an abortion.

Safe and effective choices
The bill recognizes this reality by offering poor women safer and more effective choices for preventing unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. Because it enables women to reject the unsafe abortion route, the bill can legitimately be called anti-abortion. The Church’s position, on the other hand, poses the ultimate irony. By opposing contraceptive options for women but offering no other viable alternatives, it is in effect contributing to those 473,000 abortions.

The low priority given to women’s needs results in their appalling health status. Ten die each day, or 3,650 per year, from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. One Filipina out of 140 faces the risk of maternal death in her lifetime. Contrast this with one in 500 for Thai women, and one in 560 for Malaysian women.

Maternal mortality rates in the Philippines are unacceptably high at 162 per 100,000 live births. The corresponding ratio for Thailand is 110 and for Malaysia 62. Skilled attendants are present at birth for 60% of Filipinas, while the comparable figures for Thai women reach 97% and Malaysian women 98 %. Buddhists and Muslims seem to do better by their women than Catholics.

Moreover, when a mother dies in labor because she has not gone for prenatal check-ups, her baby is also likely to die in the first year if not the first month of life. Surviving toddlers are similarly at risk. An estimated 10 million Filipino women incur post-partum disabilities every year owing to poor obstetric care. Class disparities come starkly to the fore as fully 96% of women with higher education receive post-natal care from a health professional, compared with only 33% of women with no education.

Comprehensive family planning services
Catholics who support the bill appreciate the accountability it demands of government in mandating as national policy specific benefits to women and families, “more particularly to the poor and needy.” Examples include mobile health care services in every Congressional district, and one emergency obstetric hospital per 500,000 population.

Midwives and skilled birth attendants must be available in every city and municipality to attend to women during childbirth in a ratio of one per 150 deliveries per year. Maternal death reviews will be conducted locally in coordination with the Department of Health and Popcom. Hospitals will handle more complex family planning procedures.

Given these and other benefits, educated Catholics feel vindicated in supporting a bill that offers women and families comprehensive health and family planning services as a matter of right and choice. Church proclamations alleging that House Bill 5043 is “anti-poor,” “anti-women,” “pro-abortion,” and “immoral” ring hollow in the face of empirical evidence to the contrary. The bill reads exactly the opposite as pro-poor, pro-women, anti-abortion, and respectful of human life.

Moreover, its provisions satisfy Catholic consciences as being compatible with the Church’s social teachings, including the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person, the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, integral human development, and the primacy of conscience. In this light they urge that the Church listen to them as responsible Catholic laity who offer their Church the advantage of evidenced-based approaches to the evolving needs of 21st century Philippine society.

By ceasing its attacks on the bill, allowing it to pass, and concentrating instead on monitoring implementation, the Church will convey an important point to its uneasy, increasingly critical lay members – that despite its hierarchical structure and celibate, all-male leadership, it can still respond meaningfully to the needs and aspirations of poor women and their families. At the very least, let us hope the Church resists the temptation to “shoot the messengers” who dare to articulate alternative but realistic Catholic views.

ABOUT THE AUTHORMary Racelis is a sociologist with INCITEGov, Pasig City.

Gloria's figment of imagination

All I can say? Liar, liar, pants on fire!

***

Editorial
Ang Pahayagang Malaya
www.malaya.net.ph

We know Gloria Arroyo is a liar and we have long learned to apply a steep dis-count rate, to borrow a term from business folks, on the value of her pronouncements. But it still came as a shock to us that the multi-billion regional fund to help Southeast Asian Nations which she announced last Wednesday was a figment of her imagination.

The announcement was characterized by sufficient verisimilitude to make it believable.

Arroyo said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its regional partners China, Korea and Japan hade agreed to set up a multi-billion dollar fund to buy toxic debts and support banks in the region hit by the global economic crisis.

She said the World Bank, for starters, has pledged $10 billion.

She said the "understanding" was reached by Asean finance ministers, its three allied partners China, Korea and Japan, and representatives of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank in Washington last Oct. 11.

Arroyo said the World Bank and the IMF in consultation with Asean finance ministers and central bank governors would be drafting the implementing mechanism as soon as possible.

She said a meeting would be convened to discuss the guidelines for the facility "which we suggested should be quick-disbursing with minimal conditionalities."

That multi-billion facility, it turned out, was made out of whole cloth.

The World Bank categorically said it has no plan to contribute to such a fund. The Asian Development Bank said it was premature to talk about such a facility because the region remains economically strong. Singapore flatly said it was not aware there was a plan to put up a regional emergency facility.

Palace spin doctors are now busy trying to clarify what Gloria "really meant." That there have indeed been discussions about having a bigger version of the liquidity mechanism adopted during the regional financial crisis in the 1990s and this was what Gloria was referring to.

We are all too familiar with what her propagandists are trying to make us believe. Brainstorms are passed off as programs. Programs are passed of as accomplishments. When something indeed gets done, a road and a span built are hyperbolically pictured as a transport corridor.

When she leaves in 2010, we can already see Gloria claiming the Philippines is now among the more prosperous countries in the region, thanks to her leadership.

And we will be among those feeding her megalomania by thunderously cheering her on her valedictory. Small price to pay for seeing her finally exiting from the scene.

Pulis Patola in Russia

I jazzed up the title of my friend, Ellen Tordesillas', account in her blog of the latest entry in the GMA Hall of Shame. Kapag nagnakaw sa itaas, syempre magnanakaw din sa baba. And because May 2010 is only less than two years away, the name of the game is: "Last two minutes, last two minutes."


***

BY Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya
www.ellentordesillas.com


While the world is in financial crisis and Filipinos are tightening their belts some more, the top brasses of the Philippine National Police are living it high.

News report say two police generals, Police General Eliseo de la Paz, director for comptrollership until Oct. 9 and PNP Region 9 chief Director Jaime Caringal, together with their wives are being held in Moscow pending completion of the probe on the 120,000 euros (roughly P6.9 million), found with Mr. Maria Fe de la Paz while they were exiting the Russian capital last Saturday.

The amount of 120 euros exceeds the allowable amount of $10,000 (roughly 7,365 euros) for each airline passenger.

De la Paz and Caringal were part of an eight-man delegation who attended the three-day International Police Assembly in Petersburg, which started October 7. Other members of the “high-powered Philippine delegation were Deputy Director General Emmanuel Carta, PNP deputy chief for administration; Deputy Director General Ismael Rafanan, PNP deputy chief for operations; Director Romeo Ricardo, PNP director for plans; Director German Doria, PNP chief for human resource and doctrine development; Director Silverio Alarcio, PNP director for operations; and Supt. Elmer Pelobello.

De la Paz, Caringal, Carta and Alarcio brought along their wives. Zeny Versoza, wife of PNP Chief Jesus Versoza, was also with the group.

Why was Mrs. Versoza there? Without her husband there, what’s her personality in that conference?

Poor Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome. As PNP spokesman, he has the agonizing job of trying to justify the embarrassing practice of his superiors. He said that the wives “traveled on their own personal capacities.” Really?

But even if they paid for their fare (I imagine they got free hotel accommodation because they would be sharing the room with their husbands) they would have to be attended to by the hosts in terms of seats during meals and transport when they shop and see the sights while their husbands are attending the conference.

Another anomalous thing that this incident exposed is the PNP’s criteria for sending officials abroad.

Government officials are sent to conferences in other countries, which cost a lot, so that they can learn something which rthey are expected to use in their work to the benefit of the country. Presence in international conferences is also a good way to establish a network which could be utilized in an official’s job.

De la Paz was due to retire Oct. 9. The PNP knew that. Why was he allowed to take that trip, using taxpayers’ money a few days before his retirement? Isinama pa ang asawa. What’s the taxpayers’ benefit from the attendance of De la Paz in that conference?

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said De la Paz was there as the group’s budget officer. An eight- man delegation needs a budget officer? Why, can’t those officials handle the budgeting of their own expenses? They must have brought oodles and oodles of money to need a budget officer for the trip.

The PNP said the 120,000 euros found with Mrs. De la Paz was a “contingency fund” for the group. The PNP released to the Moscow-bound officials a separate P2.3 million for their traveling expenses and allowances. Bartolome said the group has spent about P200,000 from the contingency fund.

The underpaid Mamang Pulis who could not catch criminals because his dilapidated vehicle oftentimes run out of gasoline must be stunned by the privileges of his superiors.

Many are wondering, what if the Russians did not discover the 120,000 Euros? Could it have ended in someone’s foreign account as what the disgraced general Carlos Garcia did with money intended for the soldiers?

It seems officials of Gloria Arroyo didn’t learn from the Carlos Garcia affair. Or, on second thought, they must have learned a valuable lesson from it: big- time thieves don’t get punished.

.

A mansion of many languages

BY DANTON REMOTO, abs-sbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 10/16/2008 1:00 AM
REMOTE CONTROL

In 1977, my mentor, the National Artist for Literature and Theater Rolando S. Tinio, said:

“It is too simple-minded to suppose that enthusiasm for Filipino as lingua franca and national language of the country necessarily involves the elimination of English usage or training for it in schools. Proficiency in English provides us with all the advantages that champions of English say it does – access to the vast fund of culture expressed in it, mobility in various spheres of the international scene, especially those dominated by the English-speaking Americans, participation in a quality of modern life of which some features may be assimilated by us with great advantage. Linguistic nationalism does not imply cultural chauvinism. Nobody wants to go back to the mountains. The essential Filipino is not the center of an onion one gets at by peeling off layer after layer of vegetable skin. One’s experience with onions is quite telling: peel off everything and you end up with a pinch of air.”

Written 31 years ago, these words still echo especially now, when some misguided congressmen are pushing for English as the sole medium of instruction in schools. Afraid that we might lose our competitive edge in English, they themselves are proof positive that we might have lost it. Their bills, and their illogical defense of these bills, show that the problem is not lack of language skills, but of brain cells.

Decades of teaching English to students (together with four years of teaching Filipino) have shown me that the best students in English are also the best students in Filipino. And how did they master the two languages?

One, they had very good teachers in both languages. Two, they inhabited the worlds of both languages. Three, they have gone beyond the false either-or mentality that hobbled their parents.

No guilt

Let me explain.

My best students in English and Filipino were tutored by crème de la crème, many of them teaching in private schools. At the Ateneo de Manila University, we have classes in Remedial English, since renamed Basic English or English 1. These are six units of non-credit subjects. The enrollees are mostly intelligent students from the public schools and the provinces. Lack of books and untrained teachers prevent them from having a level playing field with the other freshmen. A year of catching up is necessary for them to have the skills to have a mano-a-mano with the other students.

Moreover, I introduce them to the worlds of the language they are studying – be it in the formal realm of the textbook or the popular ones of film, graphic novel, or anime. I encourage them to keep a journal as well, which is not a diary where you write what time you woke up and why. A journal, or its postmodern cousin, the web log or blog, aims to capture impressions or moods on the wing. If at the same time it sharpens the students’ knowledge of English, then that is already hallelujah for the English teacher.

And the third is that today’s generation of students is no longer burdened by the guilt of learning English – and mastering it. I still remember those writing workshops I took in the 1980s, when I was asked why I wrote bourgeois stories in the colonizer’s language. The panelists said I should write about workers and peasants – and that I should write in Filipino. Without batting a false eyelash, I answered that I don’t know anything about workers and peasants, and to write about something I don’t know would be to misrepresent them. To the charge that I write only in English, I showed them my poems in Filipino, because the modern Filipino writer is not only a writer in either English or Filipino, but a writer in both languages, like colorful balls that he juggles with the dexterity of a seasoned circus performer.

Not either-or choice

So it’s not a choice between English or Filipino, but rather, English and Filipino, plus the language of one’s grandmother, be it Bikolano, Waray, or Tausug. And in college, another language of one’s choice, be it Bahasa Indonesia, German, or French – the better to view the world from many windows, since to learn a new language is to see the world from another angle of vision. In short, one no longer has to live between two languages, but to live in a mansion of many languages.

To end in a full circle, we must return to Rolando S. Tinio, who said: “Only the mastery of a first language enables one to master a second and a third. For one can think and feel only in one’s first language, then encode those thoughts and feelings into a second and a third.”

In short, as a friend and fellow professor has put it, “The Philippines is a multi-lingual paradise.” The earlier we know we live in a paradise of many languages, the better we can savor its fruits ripened by the sun.

The British insurer, Pru-Life, commissioned me to write this article, which was first published in Business Mirror newspaper.

Ateneo, UP rise in 2008 world university rankings

By KRIS DANIELLE SUAREZ, abs-cbnNEWS.com | 10/13/2008 11:32 PM

Two local universities, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and the University of the Philippines (UP), saw their rankings rise in The Times Higher Education - QS (THE-QS) World University Rankings 2008, a leading global ranking of higher education institutions.

In the overall rankings released Monday, Ateneo rose from number 451 in 2007 to number 254 this year, while UP rose from 398 last year to 276.

The THE-QS World University Rankings are based on data gathered in the following categories: peer academic review, recruiter review, international faculty ratio, international student ratio, student-faculty ratio, and research citations per faculty.

Ateneo had an overall score of 48.0 out of 100, up from 30.8 last year, while UP posted a 45.9 overall score, up from 34.7 last year.

Ateneo was tied with Spain's Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, while UP was tied with Germany's Universitat Ulm and Universitat Wurzburg, and the United States' Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

The two universities also figured in the subject-specific rankings for the first time.

Ateneo and UP were both ranked in the top 100 Arts and Humanities institutions worldwide: ADMU was ranked number 79, while UP was at number 82, along with the University of Notre Dame in the US.

ADMU, UP, and another local university, De La Salle University, were also part of the 100 institutions with the highest employer review scores.

Ateneo was rank 76 in employer review, tied with the University of Western Australia, with a score of 88; UP was tied with the University of North Carolina at rank 82, with a score of 87; and DLSU was at rank 92, with a score of 84.

In the overall rankings, universities in the United States and the United Kingdom, led by Harvard University at rank 1, continue to dominate the rankings. The highest-ranked Asian university was the University of Tokyo in Japan (19), while the National University of Singapore (30) was the highest-ranked for Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, two other Philippine institutions - the University of Santo Tomas and the De La Salle University - were part of the group ranked 401-500.

"Further down the rankings, fewer data are available to evaluate each university and the statistical appropriateness of discerning one university from the next begins to decay. Responses for institutions in our survey drop off exponentially from the top of the table, by the time it gets past 400 the results become highly sensitive to error. As a result, precise positions beyond 400, are not published," QS explained in its rankings tally in topuniversities.com.

Now in its fifth year, the research is conducted and compiled by QS Quacquarelli Symonds and features in print in Times Higher Education on 9th October and online on the QS web site www.topuniversities.com on 10th October.



Related links
THE-QS World University Rankings home (with methodology explanations)
Complete rankings 1 to 400 (with scores)
QS-SAFE National System Strength Rankings
Ateneo de Manila University
University of the Philippines System
Philippines' HE system 33rd

Meanwhile, the country ranked 33rd out of 40 countries included in the preliminary version of the QS SAFE National System Strength Rankings.

The QS SAFE National System Strength evaluation is "the first attempt to use rankings results, in concert with other indicators, not to evaluate the relative strength of individual institutions but of countries' higher education system strengths as a whole."

The rankings are based on four key indicators combined with equal weighting using standard statistical methods also used for the main THE-QS WOrld University Rankings - overall strength of the system, access, flagship institutions, and economic factors.

The rankings for the top 100 universities were released Thursday, while the rest (101-400) were released Monday.

"These rankings use an unprecedented amount of data to deliver the most accurate measure available of the world’s best universities, and of the strength of different nations’ university systems. They are important for governments wanting to gauge the progress of their education systems, and are used in planning by universities across the world," THE editor Ann Mroz said in a statement.

"In just five years, the THE-QS World University Rankings have become the primary benchmark for comparing universities across borders – recognised for their accuracy and insight. The rankings allow prospective students, parents, academics, employers and journalists to gain an insight into international university education, helping them to make the right choices, whether it is in selecting a university for study or for partnership," Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director of QS Quacquarelli Symonds and co-editor of the Top Universities Guide, was also quoted as saying.

The data was based on survey responses from 6,354 academics and 2,339 employers from around the world.

The overall rankings and the full explanation of the ratings system can be found at the website www.topuniversities.com.

14 Ateneo professors: 'RH bill adheres to Catholic social teaching'

I do not know why my friends and fellow professors at the Ateneo did not solicit my signature in this statement, but I sure agree with them on this note. It shows that dissent -- and the light of reason -- exists even when the official statement and the statsus quo say just to follow the Catholic teaching, blindly if need be.

***


BY Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 10/16/2008 4:45 PM

Fourteen faculty members of Catholic school Ateneo De Manila University are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the controversial reproductive health bill pending in the House of Representatives.

In a 16-page position paper full of quotes from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty, the faculty members expressed their strong support for House Bill 5043 because “we believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of the Catholic social teaching.”

The bill is controversial for promoting contraceptives and imposing sex education in schools starting in Grade 5. Catholic bishops have tagged the bill as “pro-abortion” and “anti-life.”

Although they are aware of the Church’s position, the faculty members said in the paper “our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.” They argued that the bill is actually pro-life, pro-women, and pro-poor.

They argued that the HB 5043—by providing universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health services—will improve the country’ maternal and child health situation, prevent abortion, help poor families, and make the youth more responsible sexually.

“We ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of House Bill 5043…. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others,” the paper said.

Theology department, too

The faculty members came from various departments of Ateneo. One of them belongs to the Department of Theology. They stressed that they are only speaking for themselves and not for the University.

Their position paper came out after the results of Social Weather Station’s poll on public support for the reproductive health bill were released. It showed that 68 percent—7 in every 10 Filipinos—want a law on contraceptives.

The following are the signatories:
1. Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
2. Raymond Aguas (Department of Theology)
3. Liane Pena Alampay (Department of Psychology)
4. Fernando Aldaba (Department of Economics)
5. Remmon Barbaza (Department of Philosophy)
6. Manuel Dy Jr. (Department of Philosophy)
7. Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
8. Roberto Guevara (Department of Theology)
9. Anne Marie Karaos (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
10. Michael Liberatore (Department of Theology)
11. Liza Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
12. Cristina Jayme Montiel (Deparment of Psychology)
13. Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
14. Agustin Martin Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy)

‘Pro-poor, pro-Life, pro-Women’

In saying that the “Scripture teaches us that God has a special concern for the poor and vulnerable,” the faculty members stress the provisions of the reproductive health bill that are “explicitly pro-poor.”

Section 11 of the proposed bill mandates congressional districts to acquire, operate, and maintain “a van to be known as the Mobile Health Care Services” to deliver reproductive health care services to the poor and needy.

The poor’s lack of access to health services is blamed for the poor maternal and child health situation in the Philippines.

· 10 women die every 24 hours from almost entirely preventable cases of related to pregnancy and childbirth.
· 6 out of 10 women deliver at home, where they rarely have access to a skilled birth attendant.
· 24 out of 1,000 babies under one year old die every year.

The paper also stressed the importance of planning the family. “There is no question that poverty in the Philippines is exacerbated by our rapid population growth,” the paper said.

It cited studies showing that women in the lowest quintile, who usually bear an average of six children, have at least two children more than their ideal number (3.5). They noted that the increase in family size also means a decrease in per capita income, a decrease in per capita savings, and a decrease in per capita expenditure on education and health.

This will be prevented if Filipinos are familiar with the family planning methods, they said. “The inability of women in the poorest quintile to achieve the number of children they want stems from their high unmet need for family planning,” the paper said.

It will also prevent abortion, they said.

Based on 2000 statistics, there were about half million recorded abortion cases—or 27 abortions per 1,000 women. According to the position paper, this is because “abortion has become a family planning method, in the absence of information on and access to any reliable means to prevent an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.”

Earlier, 27 professors from the University of the Philippines economics department issued a statement, backed by research, supporting the reproductive health bill.

Passed

The Dean's Office of the College of Arts and Letters of UP Dilimas has just informed me that, yes, I passed the three comprehensive exams I took on Western Literature, Asian Literature in English, and Philippine Literature in English. As I've blogged before, each exam lasted for eight hours and was spread over a period of two weeks. This is for my Ph.D. in English (Major in Creative Writing).

I have just recovered from the shell-shock of the review process (I had to read tons of books in a month) and from the mental process of digesting all those books and writing a coherent, 50-page compendium of answers for each of the three fields of expertise. Since I answered each question in single space, that meant I wrote 100 pages of answers for every field in the exam.

Atleast now, I can be assured of 300 pages of lecture notes for my future classes in these fields of expertise.

And since Bacardi One, a group of young gay men, will have a party tomorrow and has invited Ang Ladlad, then we will go to Maria Orosa at Malate and have a round of drinks.

And yes, do not say the pink web log and my pink color motif has no effect at all. I just came this morning from a lecture on Feature Writing at the QC Secondary Schools Press Conference held at QC Science High School. After my brief talk, the students ran to me -- with their camera phones, their notebooks for autograph -- and mobbed me. Their faculty student-paper advisers also talked to me and said they will join the campaign. Then we had a boisterous round of picture-taking and exchange of contact numbers.

Both the teachers and the students (numbering more than 1,000) said they have seen me on TV many times and they will register for the elections and help in my campaign. When you ask the help of the young and those who will enter media later (be they campus journalism or mainstream media work), how can you lose even if are up against those with gazillions in campaign funds?

As Estrella Alfon said: "O perfect day!"

Lakas, Kampi goners without standard-bearer in 2010

INSIDE CONGRESS
By Efren L. Danao
www.manilatimes.net
The Manila Times

Lakas and Kampi, the two strongest political parties today, will go the way of the Ki­lusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) and the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino unless they field a strong presidential candidate in 2010. If they have no man in Malacañang, their members will leave them for the administration party, just like rats deserting a sinking ship.

The KBL headed by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos lorded it over the political field from 1978 until 1984. But when Marcos was deposed by EDSA I in 1986, the KBL died with him. Oops, I forgot, it still has one member in the House—Rep. Bongbong Marcos of Ilocos Norte.

The supremacy of the LDP founded by the late Speaker Ramon Mitra was short-lived. It cornered majority of the seats in the House, the Senate and local government units in 1992. However, most of them later joined Lakas, the party of President Fidel Ramos who defeated Mitra. Lakas became a shell of its former self when President Estrada won in 1998. But, it was balik-Lakas for politicians when Estrada was unseated by EDSA Dos and President Arroyo took over.

Lakas and Kampi are the favored political parties of GMA. I expect most of the present members to stay put in the 2010 elections because of the largesse that Malacañang could give them in their campaign. Should they win, they are not expected to remain loyal to the two parties—not unless the next president will come from their ranks.

The best chance for Lakas and Kampi to keep their political hold is for Vice President Noli “Ka-bayan” de Castro to join them. So far, he has refused to do so. Speaker Prospero Nograles Jr., president of Lakas, and Interior and Local Governments Secretary Ronaldo Puno has to dangle more “carrots” to bag the prize catch in Kabayan. Of course, no amount of carrots could convince Kabayan if Lakas and Kampi fail to merge. Without the merger, Kabayan will face the nightmare of choosing among the local candidates of the two parties, with the prospect of being junked by those left out.

Coalition the next best thing

The next best thing is for Lakas or Kampi to coalesce with another political party and adopt that party’s presidential candidate. Senate President Manny Villar, president of the Naciona-lista Party, is no knee-jerk oppo-sitionist and is definitely acceptable to many Lakas members. Lakas and Kampi have a coalition agreement with the Nationalist People’s Coalition and this could continue until 2010. I will discount the possibility of any coalition with the Liberal Party of Sen. Mar Roxas. Malacañang has been supportive of the group headed by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza and I don’t see its two favored parties’ breaking away from this stand.

The benefits of a coalition for Lakas and Kampi, however, would only be short-lived if their candidate wins. The next president will certainly favor his party members, so expect the members of Lakas and Kampi to make a beeline for the new administration party.

Of course, turncoatism could be avoided if Congress enacts before 2010 the Political Party Reform Act. That is not possible, however, since SP Villar had already declared that it should wait until after the next presidential elections. This means that switching of political loyalties will still be the norm after 2010.

Bong Revilla’s ‘ ghost’ sponsorship

Sen. Bong Revilla, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works, was supposed to deliver a sponsorship speech on the bill amending the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973. For reasons known to him alone, Revilla asked Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinan to move for the insertion (oops, that bad word again) of his sponsorship speech into the record of the Senate.

The insertion would make it appear as if Revilla had actually delivered his speech in full. Minority Leader Nene Pimentel objected. “It is not possible to interpellate the records!” Nene reasoned out.

With Nene’s objection, Kiko withdrew his motion and the bill was shelved for the day’s session.

Budget for 2010 poll automation uncertain

By ARIES RUFO
abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 10/13/2008 4:44 PM


The planned automated elections for 2010 may suffer the same fate as the botched automated polls in 2004.

Former election commissioner Mehol Sadain raised this prospect after it appeared that the budget for poll modernization has not been included in the proposed budget of the Commission on Elections for 2009.

A supplemental budget would instead be passed to finance the automation, ranging from a low of P6.5 billion to a high of P29 billion.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said that Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. has verbally assured that the financial requirement for the automation will be allotted through a supplemental budget, after it was not included in the 2009 regular budget.

“He made this assurance verbally to Comelec chair Jose Melo. I am 70 percent positive that Malacanang will honor its promise,” Sarmiento replied, when asked by abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak how sincere the Palace is in automating the 2010 national polls.

Sarmiento said Melo had lobbied for the inclusion of the budget for automation in the regular appropriation but this was politely turned down by Andaya.

Sarmiento said the inclusion of the budget for the automation in the regular appropriation would have been more preferred by Comelec since it would give them wider elbow room in preparing for the 2010 national elections.

The Comelec, during a Senate hearing, has formally asked Congress for a P21 billion supplemental budget supposedly as recommended by the Comelec’s Advisory Council on Election Automation.

The money will be used for the lease of the Direct Recording Election voting machines, one of the two technologies used in the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The figure is supposed to cover the entire country.

Failure of Comelec

But Ramon Casiple, chair of the Consortium for Electoral Reform (CER), told abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak that the advisory council has not actually made any final recommendations yet. The CER is a member of the advisory council.

In fact, Casiple said the initial recommendation was for only 15 percent coverage for DRE while 85 percent for the Optical Media Reader which is cheaper.

The 15 percent coverage for the DRE was in consideration of the technical requirement like power supply, Casiple said.

Casiple expressed reservation on the planned lease of the DRE machines for the 2010 national polls, saying this might not be cost-effective. He said Smartmatic, which provided the DRE machines in the ARMM polls, quoted P29 billion for the purchase of machines covering the entire country.

A simple arithmetic would show that the outright purchase of the machines would be cheaper than leasing them, say, for two or three electoral exercises.

Casiple said the kink in the financial requirement for the 2010 polls was a failure of Comelec’s budget division to include it when it submitted its proposal to DBM.

What the Comelec merely submitted was its budget for normal operations for 2009, he said.

The oversight could turn out to be costly, Sadain said.

Without the automatic appropriation for automation, the Comelec would be hard pressed in preparing for modernized polls, he said.

2004 experience

He recalled Comelec’s experience in the 2004, where the poll body, in order to beat its deadline, relaxed the rules on bidding and technical requirements for the counting machines.

The move however, proved to be fatal as the Supreme Court struck down the project at the last minute, citing irregularities in the bidding and technical requirements.

At that time, Sadain said the Comelec could not conduct bidding for the machines since the budget releases were delayed.

“We were forced against the wall that’s why the en banc decided to relax the rules (on bidding),” Sadain said.

Sadain questioned why the budget for the 2010 automation had not been included in the regular Comelec budget considering the law, RA 9369, which amended the original automation law RA 8436, has been passed last year. “The budget for automation should have been included automatically,” he said.

He hinted that Malacanang may intentionally delay the release

De Castro won't seek 2nd term, hints at 2010 plans

Yup, but the moment GMA raises his hand, he is a dead duck.

*****

by LYNDA JUMILLA, ABS-CBN News | 10/10/2008 6:46 PM

Vice-President Noli de Castro on Friday ruled out seeking re-election and hinted that for him, it was the presidency or nothing.

"Second term, definitely not. Vice-President na ako ngayon e. [Naging] vice president na rin ako ng ABS-CBN. Kung VP din lang, hindi na," de Castro said. The former broadcaster was vice president for radio of ABS-CBN before running for senator in 2001.

(I'm already the Vice-President. I was also vice-president of ABS-CBN. If it's the VP [post] again, never mind.)

When asked if he was running for president, de Castro said: "I don't know. We'll see."

Asked what would make him decide to run for president, he said: "The presidency, that's destiny."

"Ako, ‘di naman ako nangarap maging senador pero naging senador ako. ‘Di naman ako nangarap maging vice president, pero naging VP ako. Kung ano yung destiny, ‘yun siguro ang masusunod," said de Castro, who is reportedly being courted by the administration’s Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party to be their standard-bearer in 2010.

(I never dreamed of becoming senator but I became one. I never dreamed of becoming vice-president but I became one. Whatever destiny has in store, that is what will happen.)

De Castro has consistently topped surveys on presidential preferences. But he said this would not be the determining factor for him to join the presidential fray.

Should de Castro run for president, he would be pitting himself against good friend Senate President Manny Villar who earlier announced his intention to seek the presidency. Both de Castro and Villar belong to the so-called “Wednesday Club” of incumbent and former senators.

But de Castro said Villar has never broached the subject of presidential ambitions with him. "Siguro, iniiwasan na rin niya na pag-usapan namin (Maybe he's avoiding that so we won't discuss it),” he said.

Both de Castro and Villar are also perceived to be using the issue of Filipino migrant workers as a vehicle for launching their political plans, whether real or perceived.

The billionaire Villar has been busy repatriating stranded or abused overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) mostly from the Middle East, supposedly using his personal funds for their airfare.

De Castro’s aides, however, insist the Vice-President has a heavier claim to the title of “OFW advocate” by virtue of his being named presidential adviser on OFWs.

De Castro said he welcomes anyone -- politician or not, presidentiable or not -- who wants to look after the welfare of OFWs, just like Villar.

"Basta makakatulong ka, lalo na sa mga stranded OFWs, okay lang. Lalo na kung mapapauwi lahat ni Manny ‘yan," de Castro said.

(As long as you can help especially those stranded OFWs, that's OK. Especially if Manny brings them all home.)

Checking final exams

It is final exams time, and also time for students to submit their research papers. And so, in the last three weeks, I have been besieged with interviews from both undergrad and graduate students, from Ateneo, Metro Manila schools and outside the Metro. Students call it hell week, when they cram to study and cobble together their research papers and theses. If not personal interviews, I have to answer many e-mail interview questions, inquiries, and such. Yesterday, I spent two hours in the morning in an interview with a Pol Sci major from UP Manila, and in the afternoon, three long hours for a graduate school thesis interview by students from UP Diliman.

I am sometimes tempted to just tell them to read the ang ladlad website, or my books, or my blog. But there is still nothing better than one-on-one interviews, where they ask questions, clarifications, even debate with you. It reminds me so much of the Inquirer Podcasts in February of 2007, where the grizzled veterans of the newsroom grilled us candidates for three hours. After that, they asked me, "Danton, you answered so well. Who comprise your research staff?" I think my laughter filled the entire newsroom of www.inq7.net. No research staff, I just read books and magazines and surf news and views on the Net until my eyelids close.

Those running for public office should not be afraid of these tete-a-tetes. That is why I was smiling when I was reading the Time and Newsweek reports on the Palin media gaffes, and why the Hockey Mom chose to have very, very few interviews. The Republican camp, it turned out, was the one farming out the few and far-between interviews. Do they know something that we already know about the moose hunter from Alaska?

You can wink and be folksy but what will you do when Vladimir Putin is already there, shrewd and cunning and quick as a desert fox, leading a Russia that has oil reserves, something the US does not have?

My fearless forecast is that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will win by a mile.

As for the Philippine 2010 derby, it is too early to tell. I have seen internal surveys that show Erap is far, far ahead of the pack. But since the Supreme Court will block his candidacy, therefore, he is now being courted by several Opposition parties. Erap is followed by three contenders whose survey results are close to each other.

The Erap Factor sits at a low of 30 percent and a high of 40 percent of the voters. A study done by the Ateneo Institute of Philippine Culture in 2006 said that the profile of the Filipino voter is that he or she is young (between 18-30), poor (Classes D and E), and barely finished elementary school.

There you go.

And as for the internal surveys for senators, I have seen some of them but I am keeping my mouth shut. Suffice it to say that I am happy about the results, and the smile on my face is truly wicked.

Suggestions

My previous blog entry said suggestions are okay with me, so RainB and our other friends reading my blog need not fear I will cast the curse of the gay witch on them.

But let me assure you, guys and girls -- and the spies from two big and wealthy political parties I do not like, who I am sure are again sniffing about my blog, the way they sniffed around my landline and cellphone in the last elections -- let me assure you, friends and foes alike, that I am not running as an alternative candidate at all in the May 2010 elections.

That is why I am attending political meetings with representatives from the various political parties. I am attending these sometimes-boring meetings laden with food and chitchat because we are cobbling together a possible coalition, an alliance, for May 2010.

I have met several bleeding-hearts from the upper-middle and super-upper classes, who told me the opposition parties stank just as badly as the administration's. And thefore, I should run as an independent senatorial candidate in 2010. Hahahahaha! And where would they be from January to May 2010, when I need them and the funds that they could easily provide, but would not?

As RainB said, I have never mounted a coup d'etat and could never do a Manoy Sonny Trillanes. Manoy Sonny I campaigned for in 2007, as a fellow Bicolano and son of a military officer. But I do not intend to be an alternative candidate.

No, not at all. The only alternative thing about me is that I have never accepted any single centavo from the funds dangled to to me since 2006. But the same single-mindedness, the same sense of purpose, the plan to belong to a big political party, is there. Because when I belong to a big political party, somebody will guard my vote, will give me start-up funds, will book my flights and hotel stays, will include my name and face in omnibus TV and radio ads, will pay for some of my posters and tarps, will laugh with me when all we want to do is just give up and stare helplessly at the -- I am sure -- magnificent machinery and bottomless barrel of funds that the administration parties will use in May of 2010. Desperate people do desperate things, and watch how they will dwarf whatever funds we could come up with in the elections. But I have always trusted our people to see through what Winston Churchill called "a bodyguard of lies" that now guard those who are in power, those who have turned this country over to the dogs.

Nineteen months to go before D-Day. Or what James Joyce called Bloomsday!

And so, I am now looking at studies for my posters and tarpaulins, even listening to possible campaign jingles and looking at storyboards for my ads. My forthcoming wesbite has a box for donations, a la Obama. There are many bright and kind people, some of them ensconced well in Makati and who could have just ignored me, but they are now helping me craft a comprehensive publicity campaign that -- may God help us all! -- will give sanity, wit, and humor to the 2010 campaign. While the other candidates are shaking hands with governors and mayors but conveniently ignoring the young and the restless, we are slowly putting together a campaign plan that is not necessarily gay, but nevertheless happy.

Because if you are not happy with what you do, why do it at all?

And as Meryl Streep said in The Devil Wears Prada: "That's all."

Shell-shocked

I have finally finished my three comprehensive exams for my Ph. D. in English (major in Creative Writing) at the University of the Philippines. I had to read tons of books for the exams, which lasted for eight hours per field. My three fields of choice were: British and American Fiction, Philippine Literature in English, and Asian Literature in English.

Thus, my posts in this blog came few and far between. After every exam -- spread out over a two-week period -- I felt my fingers getting numb, the muscles in my left arm jiggling. The graduate school assistant told me I am luckier that they now ask students to encode their answers in computers. Otherwise, we would have to write down our answers in long hand, in eight agonizing hours!

After my exam, my friend in the parlor of Ricky Reyes gave me a free, great haircut, and two tubes of hair coloring dye from Italy. When I went to the Ricky Reyes Learning Institute in Cubao, I was met by a gaggle of gays! They told me just say the word, Danton, and we will text the thousand upon thousand of people we know in the hairdressing business. O ayan, an army of hairdressers ready for the campaign! The only straight person was the guard, and the two or three female personnel.

Then in the last few days, I got calls from people who want me to write for their publications, on a regular basis:

1. A new magazine for men. The enthusiastic editor said to me on the phone, Can I feature you? What do you collect? Do you collect figures of owls, or wooden ducks? I said I do not collect anything. I just buy books. He seemed disappointed. You do not collect anything? Nothing, I said. I added that I really lead a boring life. That is why the fiction I wrote in my younger days had main characters who lead lives full of color and vigor. I think it was writing as an act of wish-fulfillment. What do you do during weekends? the editor asked me again, wanting to focus on another angle of what he thought was my interesting life. I tell thim that I do my grocery at Shoppersville in Katipunan, and then I do the laundry and I press my clothes. He was incredulous. Books are the only things that please me. In fact, after my Ph.D. exams, I went to National Book Store and bought books that are not required reading in my classes. Books, and the sight of my clean-smelling clothes, hanging in the line to dry.

2. A magazine for women. They want me to write reviews on books about women. I said I know nothing about women, except their clothes and the sob stories they tell me about their men. The editor said I can write about the sob stories. Okay, I said.

3. A reformatted showbiz mag in English. Run by friends of mine, and they want me to write cheeky articles about films and such. I said Okay, but I now write shorter stuff.

4. INVOICE, a new magazine for the GLBT crowd. The publisher and editor is a neighbor of mine, a young boy a few years ago and who now has an MBA from Ateneo! The years, they have wings. And at my back I always hear, Time's winged chariot hurrying near! I gave him tips about future articles to write about, which companies to tap for advertising, and promised to write for him every issue.

Good news all.

Of course, the good comes with the bad.

My projected radio show seems to have gone pffft. Not enough sponsors, I think. And I turned down a tabloid column because they are dictating me on what to write about, and how to ago about writing the darned thing! Ha? I do not mind suggestions, but statements that sound like orders cast in iron have never gone down well with me.

And that is how my week went. I hope yours was not too bad at all.