Ain't I glad

Now that the Senate has shown itself for the circus that it really is, ain't I glad I did not file an appeal with the Comelec when it disqualified me from running for senator because I did not have a party.

I could have had a party. One presidential candidate included me in his list, but slid down to vice-presidential candidate and was heard, as the writer of macabre tales Edgar Allan Poe would put it, nevermore. I tried contacting his party, but you have to talk to 10,000 layers of the hierarchy before you could get a clear word in. Chaos is the name of their game.

I could have had a party. Another presidential candidate sent an emissary and I kinda liked the candidate, but they were offering ten percent of what a senatorial campaign needs. A senatorial campaign needs PhP 200 million. What will I do with PhP 20 million? It won't even pay for everything when the gun starts to bark on February 9 -- the start of the official campaign season.

I could have had a party. I kinda liked the vice presidential candidate of another party, but I did not like the presidential candidate. All bluster, all talk, nothing, nada, zilch, wala.

I could have had a party. But one of the senatorial candidates of this controversial party disliked me to high heavens for placing higher than him/her in the unpolluted senatorial surveys in the past year. Is it my fault if the people like me and not you, Super Brat?

Thus, I have enumerated the top four presidential candidates and what they offered or had in store for me before December 1, the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy for senator of this beautiful but poor country.

But since the money offered was not enough or I did not like the party or I loathed the presidential candidate or one senatorial itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini hated me, I did not run under any of the so-called mainstream parties.

And so I filed as an independent candidate, to go solo, banking only on the LGUs and youth groups and NGOs and teachers' associations and LGBT groups I have allied with since 2007, when I criss-crossed the country quietly, every two weeks. And yet Comelec -- that fountain of Infinite Intelligence -- said we do not have a national network.


Then why, oh why, now that Ang Ladlad might run for party-list elections, am I getting phone calls and e-mail letters every day from governors and congressmen and mayors -- both incumbent and opposition -- asking me to form an alliance with them in their provinces and cities and towns? They said that Ang Ladlad is very strong in their localities, and please naman, Professor Remoto, visit our localities and we will host you and we will meet, please consider this urgent request for an alliance. Our people, Professor Remoto, they really want to see you because you are funny and brave and bright. (Really? But the Comelec does not think so). If all politics is local, then what do all these urgent phone calls and e-mails mean?

If I do not have a national network, then why, oh why, do people running now for senators have asked Ang Ladlad and I to please, kindly, sige na naman, bring home to our respective regions, provinces, bailiwicks their tarpaulins and posters now that the campaign season is just a breath away? Because you do not bring home a tarp or poster. You hang or post them in junctions, in residences of important people in a town, and you need permission and local clout to do that, kapatid, so 1,000 tarps and posters will bloom in a particular street corner or wall or gate.

Kung ito ang grupo ng walang national constituency, bakit nagkakandarapa sila na makipagtulungan sa amin?

And many of the senators in yesterday's circus at the Senate will run for re-election and will certainly win. So tuloy ang kabalbalan even after May 2010.

That is why I hope the Supreme Court will allow us to run, finally, and this country will see what running as an independent senator would have been -- mirrored in the impending landslide victory of Ang Ladlad Party List.


Ang Pahayagang Malaya
January 26, 2010

‘Is it perhaps because Enrile knows more? Or is it plain and simple cowardice?’
WHAT would you do when someone calls you, publicly and openly, a "coward"? What ought you do if the one assailing your character is a fellow senator?

Which brings to mind the legendary politician and statesman, Jose Bayani Laurel Jr., eldest son of the wartime president. Tio Pito with whom I was extremely privileged to be associated, was not only an astute political player, but more so, a principled man with the courage of his convictions.

After years of martial law, when it became quite clear that the allegedly "noble" ends of authoritarianism were being abused, and after Marcos had declared his Kilusang Bagong Lipunan not just a movement but a political party, effectively condemning the NP and LP into political limbo, Speaker Laurel spoke openly against authoritarian rule. "Sobra na. Nais pa yatang maugatan sa kapangyarihan" (This is too much. He wants to be rooted in power), said the man who swore Ferdinand Marcos into the Nacionalista Party and from there win the presidency from Diosdado Macapagal in 1965.

In a speech at the Manila Hotel, Speaker Laurel perorated against "the narcissistic effects of absolute power", and thereafter, he and his younger brother Salvador (Doy), began to unite the opposition under a political umbrella called UNIDO. I became UNIDO’s backroom worker; by title, its deputy secretary-general.

I recall a story one of his associates in the law office told me about how then Rep. Jose B. Laurel Jr. went straight to the Senate offices in the upper floor of the Old Congress Building (now the National Museum) and sought out a Nacionalista who voted against the party line. Upon seeing the unfortunate fellow, dimunitive Pepito charged at the man, and slapped him in full view of astonished Senate staffers and reporters. The politician turned pale, froze, and simply walked away, even as Pepito challenged him – "Ano? Magpaka-lalaki ka!"

Why do I recall Pepito Laurel in this article? Because his heirs sold the ancestral home called Villa Paciencia on Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong to the man whom Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile called a "coward".

Pepito inherited the stately manse built by his father, the wartime president. And he lived there until his own death. There it was where Doy Laurel in December of 1985 announced after weeks of agonizing that in the higher interest of the nation and the people, he was giving way to the wife of his bosom friend Ninoy Aquino, as presidential candidate of the United Opposition against Ferdinand Marcos in the snap elections of 1986. Thus was history writ --- the Cory Aquino-Doy Laurel tandem became a juggernaut against the dictatorship and neither armor nor artillery could stop the surge of People Power in the fateful days of February 22-25 when Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Valdez Ramos mutinied against Marcos.

Villa Paciencia has thus become part of our contemporary history --- citadel of brave men who did not flinch, and principled statesmen who took to heart what their once proud and noble party proudly emblazoned in its escutcheon --- "Ang Bayan, Higit sa Lahat".

Juan Ponce Enrile was himself once a Nacionalista. Marcos’ lust for political hegemony drove Enrile to the KBL and EDSA drove him out of it, when he staked his own life against his political patron, knowing fully well that Marcos was no coward, and frontal clash could mean his own mortal end. But God willed, and the people prevailed. Enrile’s courage paid off. Clashing political ambitions kept him out of the Nacionalista Party he could have rejoined. Whatever his detractors may say of the man --- never, ever has he been a coward. So when he publicly calls someone a "coward", know that it is not judgment so easily made. Brave men do not easily condemn another for cowardice. It is easy enough to call someone a dolt, even a crook, but when one summons his convictions to publicly call somebody else a coward, he is prepared for the worst.

And what wore Enrile’s patience thin?

Villar was ousted by his peers because of the stink that his suspected "taga" in C-5 wrought, and they chose Enrile the new Senate President in late 2008. A lady with balls, Senadora Jamby Madrigal, produced documents to prove that Villar made a killing by self-dealing within the chambers of the Senate, as Chair of the Committee on Finance which oversees the general appropriations law, and even as Senate President. These were referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who discovered the double appropriation for the same stretch of road in the previous year’s budget. When Lacson started to investigate, Villar and his loyal acolytes charged that Lacson was into a political lynching of a fellow "presidentiality". Villar summoned enough courage to stand on the floor in early 2009, after weeks and months of hiding behind the petticoats of Alan Cayetano and their media chorus line. And there he hurled his "immortal" challenge --- that he would answer these "unfounded charges and fabrications" not before Lacson’s "hang" jury, but before his peers, all of them, on the floor of the Senate.

Lacson the following session day moved to convene the Senate into a Committee of the Whole, to obviate Villar’s accusations of partiality. Their peers agreed. But Cayetano and Arroyo and Pimentel, Villar’s hallelujah chorus stalled the proceedings of the SCOW by questioning every nook and cranny of every rule and procedure. Enrile prudently gave in to much, but when it was clear that obfuscation was the only intent, he called for a vote, and proceeded with investigative hearings that Villar and his acolytes snubbed. Pimentel even went to the Supreme Court for a TRO, which never came. Meanwhile, Villar and his choirboys kept stone-walling with smoke and mirrors through "cooperative" media. He was after all, the presidentiality with the "mostest" from C-5, from Capitol Bank and its successor Optimum Development, from Norzagaray and Daang Hari, with Daang Reyna to boot. And Camella, Palmera, Adelfa, Brittany, Portofino, Crown Asia, La Marea, and a long train of dispossessed or hoodwinked landowners, not to mention agencies left holding empty bags, from the graft-pockmarked housing funds to the nation’s fiduciary of financial fidelity --- mismo!, the Bangko Sentral.

And when La Loren needed a smoke and mirror legerdemain to explain why she would live in with the man she denounced months before as a virtual crook, as her vice-presidential prize catch, Villar and his acolytes produced a premature resolution mid-November last year, absolving himself, with himself, mismo!, as the 12th signatory, from Madrigal’s charges. And oh, how they went to town with it,

Enrile calmly said the resolution was premature for the SCOW had yet to make its final and formal pronouncement. Lacson called the hastily-written Villar resolution as a mere scrap of paper. But as 12 signatories constitute a majority of 22, the media chorus line proclaimed Villar as white as driven snow. That was in mid-November. Two months and a colorless Christmas season after, Enrile quietly asked his peers to review his committee report.

But confident of his 12 signatories to the premature resolution, with his acolyte Cayetano now dismissing Enrile’s report as just "a piece of paper" Villar this time set a bigger adventure for himself --- the Senate Presidency. Unknown to Enrile, Villar had been button-holing fellow senators peddling his last two-minute fast break. To one senator, he offered a cabinet position in his "future cabinet" and thereby insulted the man, who after all was running for president himself! In a Senate of 22 sitting members, such button-holing never remains a secret, and soon enough, Enrile had 12 signatures in his committee report recommending censure of Villar and reimbursement amounting to 6.2 billion pesos. Jinggoy Estrada signed, and Kiko Pangilinan forsook his Wednesday Club, invoking a "party" stand. The tables had been turned, and Villar’s gambit had become a mis-adventure.

It was at this point that Enrile pronounced not just the guilt of Villar as peer, but his cowardice as well. It has been a week since the crusty old man and eleven other peers judged the C-5 at Taga "engineer" censurable for acts unacceptable to a senator of the realm. (This article was written Monday morning, ahead of an expected showdown on the floor in the afternoon). But in Iloilo on Sunday, sashaying with the Dinagyang revellers, Villar declared that he would not face the Senate. "I don’t see any relevance on the truth (sic). I have answered the issues on the floor (really?) and I have granted more than a hundred interviews (then why not face your peers?) It’s on the website, and I have placed an advertisement regarding that," Villar said. Dinadaan sa pera-pera, as always.

Tail between his legs. Now his petticoat chorus invokes national interest to say Enrile must be replaced by one whose term shall expire in 2013 yet. But their principal, the man who bought Villa Paciencia and the Nacionalista Party from the Laurel heirs, has yet to summon what, in the words of Jose B. Laurel Jr., "magpaka-lalaki ka" connotes.

Is it perhaps because Enrile knows more? Is it because an 85-year old "enemy" could do so much damage to a carefully-laid out campaign oozing with an indecent amount of billions? Or is it plain and simple cowardice?

My email

I have received some inquiries on how to reach me via email. Pls send email to me at:

Ang Ladlad might be able to run. I am not running as party list rep because I lost in the 2007 congressional elections and the law forbids me from running under the party list system. We will have five names for Ang Ladlad.

Good times should lie ahead. I hope the clouds are beginning to lift. Have a happy weekend.

On poetry and 'Singing in the forests'

KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson (The Philippine Star)
Updated January 18, 2010 12:00 AM

I met Indian poet and dancer Tishani Doshi at the 6th Ubud International Writers and Readers Festival in Bali in November 2008. Not only was the lady gorgeous; she read her poetry well. And her poetry seemed as luminous as she looked.

I’ve since discovered that she’s also written a novel, The Pleasure Seekers, which might have already been released by Bloomsbury of UK. Born in Madras in 1975 to a Gujarati father and Welsh mother, she was educated at Queens College, in North Carolina, and at Johns Hopkins University. She worked for Harpers & Queen magazine in London, but has since moved back to India where she works and performs with a contemporary dance group all over the world and “only” moonlights as a writer.

Her first book of poems, Countries of the Body, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2006. She also won the All-India Poetry Competition that same year.

Here’s a poem of hers, titled “At the Rodin Museum”:

“Rilke is following me everywhere/ With his tailor-made suits/ And vegetarian smile./ He says because I’m young,/ I’m always beginning,/ And cannot know love./ He sees how I’m a giant piece/ Of glass again, trying/ To catch the sun/ In remote corners of rooms,/ Mountain tops, uncertain/ Places of light./ He speaks of the cruelty/ Of hospitals, the stillness/ Of cathedrals,/ Takes me through bodies/ And arms and legs/ Of such extravagant size,/ The ancient sky burrows in/ With all the dead words/ We carry and cannot use./ He holds up mirrors/ From which our reflections fall —/ Half-battered existences,/ Where we lose ourselves/ For the sake of the other,/ And the others still to come.”

Lovely, isn’t it? Tishani also turns out to be an excellent essayist. Here’s sharing a piece of hers on why poetry matters, titled “Singing in the Forests,” and which originally appeared in full in the Ubud Festival issue of Quill magazine. It should speak volumes to our own poets, homegrown and abroad.

* * *

Some years ago, when I was working with the legendary Indian choreographer Chandralekha, she told me about an idea she had for a dance production based on language. It would explore a particular myth where the entire alphabet — the vowels, consonants, punctuation, and grammar — all trooped off into the forests to hide because they couldn’t bear to see the destruction of the world. For a long time the world would be silent, wordless. Men and women would be unable to speak to each other. They would be forced to live like animals, reduced to grunts and squawks. Finally, the poets would go into the forests to beg language to return to the world. One by one, they’d coax the letters out from behind leaves, from the deep snares of roots; they’d promise to honor them, give new voice to them filled with beauty, and by doing so, they would bring language back to humanity.

I will always regret that Chandralekha passed away before making any headway on this production, but that image has stayed with me ever since: of the poets going into the forests to restore the world with words. In India, of course, the idea of going off into the forests isn’t entirely new. According to the Laws of Manu, men in the fourth and final stage of their lives were meant to surrender all worldly interests, renounce their belongings and seek enlightenment in the wilderness. The poets of the Vedas — the kavis — have always been seen as prophets, possessed of a divine insight — dhi — which again, stems from nature, from modes of seeing and experiences of light which have the power to bring together the world of humans and the world of Gods.

I thought about all this recently in a slightly incongruous and prosaic setting — around a conference table in the University of East Anglia, where I was attending a four-day seminar titled “Human: Nature.” Various types and statures of writers had been invited to discuss the role of the writer against the changing face (or rather, defacement) of nature. For four days we talked about the seductiveness of the apocalypse, the danger of propaganda, Keats’s idea of negative capability, and Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents.

Richard Mabey, one of Britain’s most distinguished nature writers, talked of our relationship with nature as something that was still colonial, which involved taking possession of the land. Imagine instead, he said, the view of a marshland, or a mountain. Gretel Ehrlich talked of carbon sins, climate refugees, and how the Inuit believe we must speak with dignity because polar bears listen to what we say by putting their ears down to the ground. For four days we exchanged ideas of nature and panic, nature and the imagination, nature and nation, until a steady escalating sense of doom enveloped us. As writers, we were facing a world steadily depleted of its resources, and we were asking the question, what do we do? Or indeed, do we do?

On the final day, the American poet, C.K. Williams, presented a paper, which for me, was the most important of the entire seminar. He began by reading his poem “In the Forest” in which an old man goes off to live in a forest thinking that in “that mute, placid domain of the trees,/ he might find beyond the predations of animals and men something like the good … but No, he says, No, the trees and their seeds and flowers are at war just as we are,/ every inch of soil is a battleground, each species of tree relentlessly seeks its own ends.” The poem goes on to make a powerful point about language, how even “the most tormented souls” will “come together/ to commune and converse;” how even in that “moral murk that promises nothing but extinction, the voices go on. … The wretched page turns, and we listen, and listen.”

What Williams then went on to say was that while paralysis might be the rational response to the dilemma, what we must do instead is to live through the pain and function whole-heartedly. He talked of beauty, and how it could save us: beauty as an active act, not a thing of consolation. As an artist, he said, beauty is where it begins and ends, “It’s the most important thing we have because we live in an age of astonishing ugliness …The dream and execution of the beautiful is what makes the world.”

Later, J.M. Coetzee, who was also part of the panel, and who for the first three days had terrified most people into silence because of his sheer aura of gravitas, opened his mouth to say something. We all leaned in eagerly to listen, for he is a soft-spoken man, and quite economical with his words. He told us of the place where he lives in Adelaide, on the edge of a forest reserve, where for a long time he struggled with a morning cacophony of birdsong, particularly crows. Slowly though, he said, he lost track of which birds were making what noise, it was enough that they were there, everyday, insistent. And it seemed to him that they were saying, I am I, I am I, demanding to be counted.

Coetzee went on to say that he’d had a similar moment during this conference, sitting in a noisy library, trying to listen to Williams read his poems. Despite the external noise, he said, people were leaning in to listen (much as we were listening to Coetzee), and he described that triumph of word over noise as a collective moment for writers, something that was strident and strong, that said, “We are we. We are we.”

When Coetzee said this, it made me think of the fate of the modern prophet or seer — poets as we may call ourselves, largely unseen and unheard. I thought of the 16-year-old Rimbaud writing to his friend Paul Demeny, “I say one must be a seer, make oneself a seer … by exploring all forms of love, suffering and madness, exhausting the poisons and keeping the quintessence.” I thought of those ancient kavis, looking for that evanescent rasa — that element which gives form to formless things. I thought how far our fall from grace has been. And then I thought of the persistent birdsong at the edge of Coetzee’s forest reserve, of all the preserves of land we still inhabit, be they large or small, shrinking, native, far-flung. More than ever, it made me think our job is to find those forests, fall on our knees, and come singing back into the world.

144 party-list groups allowed to join polls

by Joel Zurbano
Manila Standard Today
January 16, 2010

The Commission on Elections has approved the application of 144 party list groups to join the May elections and vie for 55 seats allotted to them in the House of Representatives.

The Comelec en banc led by its chairman Jose Melo accredited Ang Ladlad and 143 other groups or less than half of the 306 groups that wanted to join the polls.

To qualify for a congressional seat, a group has to obtain at least two percent of the votes cast in the party-list system.

“Included in the list was Ang Ladlad as per the Supreme Court ruling that ordered Comelec to include it in the ballot with pre-printed names of candidates,” said Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.

The Supreme Court ordered the Comelec Tuesday to include in the ballot Ang Ladlad, a pro-gay organization that had been disqualified last year by the second division of the poll body.

In its Nov. 11 resolution, the Comelec Second Division headed by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer disqualified Ang Ladlad saying the group promotes homosexuality, which is immoral.

“Should this Commission grant the petition, we will be exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith,” said the resolution rejecting Ang Ladlad. In the 2007 elections, Ang Ladlad was disqualified because of its lack of nationwide presence, which is a prerequisite for a party-list accreditation.

The latest Comelec decision drew the ire of several organizations, including the militant Akbayan, which warned poll officials their acts may result to their impeachment.

The approved groups were 1-Aani, 1-AK, 1-Care, 1-Abaa, 1Ganap/Guardians, 1st Kabagis, A Blessed, AT, Abakada, Abang Lingkod, Aba Ilonggo, Abante Ka, Abamin, ATM, Abono, Abroad, ADD-Tribal, ADD, ACT Teachers, Alim, AKO, Adam, Alon, Ating Koop, A Teacher, Asahan Mo, A-Ipra, Agbiag, Agila, Agri, ADA, Agap, Ahon, Akap Bata, Apoi, Akbayan, Ako, AKB, Akma-PTM, Amana, Anakalusugan, Alagad, Alay Buhay, Abay Parak, Aama, ABC, Anad, AFPSEGCO, ARC, 1-Tubig, ABP-Bicolnon, Anupa, APO, Arcapp, AVE, ATS, Alma, Almana, AMS, Agham, ABA, An Waray, Anak Mindanao, Anakpawis, Aani, Aambis-Owa, AG, ALIF, Ang Ladlad, AMA, A Tambay, Anak, ABS, Atong Paglaum, Amang, Aral, ALE, AAPS, Apec, Babae Ka, Bago, Bandila, BH, Banat, Bida, Bayan Muna, Bayani, Bigkis, Binhi, Biyaheng Pinoy, Biyayang Bukid, Buhay, Butil, Chinoy, Cibac, CPM, Senior Citizens, Cocofed, Cofa, Consla, Coop-Natcco, Dwa, Fil-Mus, Firm 24-K, 1st Prisa, Gabriela, Green Force, Ivap, KLBP, Kabayan, Kabataan, Buklod Filipina, Kalahi, Kalinga, Kakusa, Ang Kasangga, AA-Kasosyo Party, Kaakbay, Katribu, Kaagapay, Kasapi, 1-Ahapo, Oragon, OPO, PEP, Katutubo, PM, Pacyaw, PCL, PBA, Smart, SB, Bantay, TUCP, 1 Ang Pamilya, UNI-MAD, 1-Utak, Vendors Party List, VFP, WPI, Yes We Can, Yacap and Lypad.

The commission also deleted 26 party-list groups including a militant workers’ organization for failing to participate in the last two elections and for failing to obtain at least two percent of the votes.

The delisted groups included Ahonbayan, Aksa, Bahandi, A Smile, Akapin, SM, Sanlakas, SPI, Suara, Abanse! Pinay, Migrante, Anak Mahirap and AK.

Migrante, a labor group allied with Migrante International, has a pending motion before the High Court seeking a reversal of its delisting.

Comelec officials vowed to be stricter in screening all party-list groups.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said that most of the party-list groups seeking accreditation did not have a track record, a requisite for accreditation. He also noted a redundancy in the advocacy of some of the groups.

Bishops' gloves are off, urge snub of gays

The ignorant stand of these two bishops is the best endorsement for Ang Ladlad. I am sure there will be more tirades coming from the religious sector. They should read the Constitution first: there is no religious test for any political candidate. And there is a separation of Church and State.

Matagal nang patay si Padre Damaso.



TWO bishops have shed the non-partisan stand of the Catholic Church by urging the public against voting for Ang Ladlad as party-list representatives.

"Dapat walang bumoto para sa kanila sa darating na halalan sa Mayo… Ignore them so no danger," said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes over Church-run Radio Veritas.

"Simple lang, huwag natin silang iboto," Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon said.

Bastes had already said supporting Ang Ladlad will not be good for the country.

"I believe such a party-list will not redound to the good of this nation," Bastes said.

Cenzon said he does not buy the claim of Ang Ladlad that they are a marginalized sector, saying they are already well-accepted to be part of the society.

"Ang mga representatives ang may trabaho para sa lahat ng mga sinasakupan nila, kasama ang mga gays. Dapat nilang alamin ang kung ano ba ang concerns ng mga gays," Cenzon said.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has been very firm in maintaining a non-partisan role saying they will never push for or against any candidate but rather promote how to choose the right candidates through their voters’ education campaign.

144 party-list groups get Comelec nod

Even if this is not yet final, since the Supreme Court will still have to decide, seeing Ang Ladlad in that list already makes us happy -- and gay. Expect Ang Ladlad to win three seats and win by a landslide over its rivals.


By Vernadette Joven ( Updated January 15, 2010 05:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) today gave the green light to 144 party-list groups to participate in the May 2010 elections.

In issuing Resolution No. 8744, the Comelec en banc allowed 144 out of more that 300 party-list groups that filed their manifestations of intent to participate in the coming polls.

Gay group Ang Ladlad was among those given the go signal to run in the polls.

The poll body previously allotted 200 party-list organizations but since the approved list was lower than expected, the length of the ballot to be used in the elections may be altered.

Meanwhile, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that although disqualified party-list groups could still file motions for consideration before the Supreme Court, the poll body would no longer change the ballot once it is printed.

"We believe that we already have the final list of candidates. We have already done our part, and we would not sacrifice the conduct of orderly elections just for one or two groups who did not do theirs. Remember, the right to be elected is not an absolute right," he said.

Jimenez also expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will take into account the Comelec’s schedule before it makes decisions in connection with the coming polls.

Below is the list of party-list groups allowed to join in the May elections:


2. 1-AANI

3. 1-ABAA

4. 1-AHAPO

5. 1-AK

6. 1-CARE




10. 1-TUBIG

11. 1-UTAK





16. AAMA


18. AANI

19. AAPS

20. ABA








28. ABC




32. ABS


34. ADA

35. ADAM

36. ADD



39. AG

40. AGAP



43. AGILA ng Katutubong Pilipino (AGILA)

44. AGILA Pwersa ng Nagkakaisang Magsasaka, Inc. (AGILA)

45. AGRI

46. AHON

47. A-IPRA


49. AKB



52. AKO

53. AKO



56. ALE

57. ALIF

58. ALIM

59. ALMA


61. ALON

62. AMA



65. AMIN

66. AMS


68. ANAD

69. ANAK





74. AP

75. APEC

76. APO

77. APOI

78. ARAL

79. ARC



82. AT



85. ATS

86. AVE


88. BAGO






94. BH

95. BIDA





100. BUHAY


102. BUTIL


104. CIBAC


106. COFA



109. CPM

110. DIWA

111. FIL-MUS

112. FIRM 24-K



115. IVAP











126. KLBP

127. LYPAD

128. OPO



131. PBA

132. PCL

133. PEP

134. PM

135. SB


137. SMART

138. TUCP

139. UNI-MAD


141. VFP

142. WPI

143. YACAP


Source: Comelec Resolution No. 8744 (January 15, 2010)

Why is Noynoy Aquino losing support?

By Tony Lopez
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
The Manila Times

As I have written in a previous column (December 17, 2009), the May 10 presidential election is going to be tighter than most people think.

A Social Weather Stations survey of December 27 to 28, 2009 found support for Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd for president has diminished, from 46 percent to 44 percent three weeks after a previous survey (December 5 to 10, 2009) also by SWS. On the other hand, support for Sen. Manny Villar has increased dramatically, by 6 percentage points, from 27 percent to 33 percent.
Assuming a high turnout of 45 million voters, 6 percent translates into 2.7 million votes—a big gain in just 20 days. That implies Villar is gaining 135,000 votes nationwide every day. That is not “soft” support, contrary to what former Sen. Frank Drilon insists. If Villar gains 100,000 votes every day for the next 120 days, he adds 12 million votes to his base by May 10.

At the start of January 2010, the former Senate president already had 33 percent, or 14.8 million votes vs. 19.8 million for Noynoy, a difference of 5 million votes. If Noynoy remains stagnant at 44 percent, or 19.8 million votes and Villar garners just six million of the 12 million he is likely to gain in 120 days, the tycoon will beat the Hacienda Luisita heir by one million votes—20.8 million vs. 19.8 million, a margin of half percent. This indicates the May 10 election will be very, very tight, almost too close to call.

Why is Noynoy losing support? His campaign people blame lack of advertising. That’s a lie. His two biggest supporters, Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda, are on primetime tv nightly, dishing out mash or what the Inquirer’s John Nery calls “manufactured news.” TV viewers associate Kris with Noynoy and Noynoy with Kris, and Kris almost always never fails to mention their late mother Cory and the travails they have had since her death. Now, that’s subliminal advertising, which is more effective than direct or bought advertising.

Basically just a politician
So why is Noynoy losing support? The answer plainly is that the Cory euphoria has begun to wear thin to the public, which started to view Noynoy on his own merits. Aside from being the only son of the martyred Ninoy Aquino and the beloved Cory Cojuangco Aquino, Noynoy, 50 this February, is basically just a politician, having been a congressman for nine years and a senator for almost three years. What did he do in all those years?

Wikipedia has this entry on Noynoy which is self-explanatory:

“While Aquino currently enjoys considerable support, most agree that this can only be attributed to both his parents’ successes and not his own. In 11 years in government, critics note that Aquino has not made any significant contributions to legislation. Several commentators have criticized Aquino for showing little to deserve the presidency aside from his parents’ reputations. Still, his supporters respond by saying that his lineage is relevant as it should demonstrate that he shares the same values of honesty and good governance as his parents.”

“Noynoy’s detractors have also pointed out that, at almost 50 years old he has neither a wife nor any children. Moreover, Aquino had lived with his mother, the former president, until her death. To them, this demonstrates how Aquino has never held any real responsibilities of his own throughout his life.”

Another issue is Noynoy’s stake in his family’s 6,400-hectare Hacienda Luisita. As president, Corazon Aquino was criticized for failing to push land redistribution reforms given their alleged conflict of interest.
Thirteen farmers were massacred and 51 were injured marching at Mendiola to Malacañang seeking land reform during her presidency in 1987.

Picketing at the Hacienda, 12 farmers and two children died in the hands of the Aquino family’s personnel as the group demanded fairer wages, employee benefits and, broadly speaking, a greater commitment to land reform.

Since peaking at 45 percent in September, Noynoy has not gained any more adherents than he already had when he announced his candidacy. The SWS made it appear then the 45 percent was 60 percent because it allowed respondents to pick three names as choices for president, thus bloating the percentage of actual support for Noynoy. Since he is in the Top 3, Noynoy is mentioned by respondents 100 percent of the time, not half of the time.

The SWS December 5 to 10 and December 27 to 28 surveys had the same size of respondents, 2,100, and margin of error, 2.2 percent, except for Metro Manila where the error margin is a disturbingly high plus or minus 6 percent, and in balance of Luzon where the error margin is also a high 4 percent.

In its 2004 exit polls (which should be highly accurate considering that SWS was asking people who have already voted and therefore had no reason to lie), SWS made the mistake in predicting a Gloria Arroyo win in Metro Manila on election day. It was won by FPJ.

My Teacher, Franz

By DANTON REMOTO | 01/12/2010

Francisco "Franz" Arcellana was my teacher. Like many writers, I first read him before I met him. On my own, I had read "The Mats" and "The Flowers of May" when I was a young and sullen undergrad at the Ateneo. Instead of reading my books on Financial Accounting and Business Statistics, I sat on the table beside the PS 9991 shelves in the Rizal Library every afternoon, and read the books of Filipino writers. One day, I said to myself, keeping the secret deep in my heart, one day I will also write a book.

I liked the subtlety of "The Mats," how it showed that at the core of the Filipino is his or her love for family. The word "Recuerdo" woven on the mat for the dead daughter captured this vividly. And "The Flowers of May," which won a Palanca Award in 1952, isn’t it in a way the flip side of "The Mats," since it talked about the death of Victoria recalled just as the rains of May began to sweep the land?

In 1982 I applied for the UP Writers’ Workshop and Franz Arcellana was its director. The workshop then was as lively as it is now, but messier. Some of the panelists did not discuss the texts at hand but talked about their travels in Russia. Others wondered aloud why the writers-to-be were not writing about the poor, in Tagalog. It got so bad that one day I stood up and said I can only write about the middle-class, because that was where I belonged, and when I wrote in Tagalog I had my Vicassan Dictionary beside me. But Franz - great good gracious God Franz was there - he spoke clearly and firmly and said that the only thing we have to do as young writers is to write the poem or the story only we can write. And that we can write in any language we are comfortable with, whether that is English or Tagalog or Cebuano or Pangalatok. Then and now when I think of Franz I think of a prophet atop a mountain, white hair like flame, his words hissing in the wind.

Those words saved me when I came back to Ateneo and began graduate school. After Ateneo, I wrote speeches for a government office and children’s stories for a publishing house. It was the height of the Marcos dictatorship. When my father lost his trading firm I had to look for a good job and ended up editing the plenary sessions of the Interim Batasang Pambansa. It paid well, and I was mightily entertained by assemblymen who spoke lines like these: "I demand an investigation into the national airlines because their airplanes always collapse."

But every afternoon, I would go home in an aircon shuttle bus in my beautiful barong. And when I looked outside I saw the sun beginning to sink and a deep, inexplicable sadness always threatened to drown me. I must write again, I remember the words forming themselves inside me, because if I don’t, I will end up fat and wealthy and immensely sad.

I returned to graduate school at the Ateneo, and that summer my first teacher was Franz.

He taught Fiction Writing and came and went to school in his old, reliable Beetle, which had an Apple Macintosh sticker on the windshield and books and papers on the backseat. He always wore cool, long-sleeved shirts, untucked, and that trademark eyeglasses. For the first story discussed in the workshop, he asked us to comment on the word or punctuation mark used by the writer, one student per word or punctuation mark. The first word was "The" and the student in the front row said it was "a definite article." Franz quickly added, "That’s the word Hemingway suggested you use as the first word for your work - when you can’t begin a story, or you are continuing your novel." It took us five days to discuss one story. I haven’t been to a workshop where the works were discussed in such a, ahhh, microscopic way.

One smart aleck in class asked, when we were about to discuss the second story: "Are we going to talk about it one word or punctuation mark per student again?"

Franz smiled his gently avuncular smile, then said, "No."

The same smart aleck also walked out of the class after his story was discussed. One scene in his story showed a baby slipping from the hand of the nurse carrying it. The baby’s head is bashed on the floor. When Franz asked what is the point of the scene, smarty said: "But it happened in our hospital in Cagayan de Oro City!"

Franz said that not because it happened in real life, it could happen in the world of fiction. Fiction is governed by rules autonomous from that of the real world. Perhaps it was way over the head of smarty, for pretty soon, he was standing up and leaving the room.

Too bad for him, because he failed to see the point in any writing workshop. It will not teach you how to write; it will teach you the attitude you must take toward writing. What are these attitudes? That the story, the poem, the essay or the novel has to be written, whether the world is ending or your heart is breaking. That the writer begins again and again when he writes, such that a flotilla of awards means nothing in the end. That Time, that great and severe arbiter, is the only judge that can tell whether you will be read 100 years from now, or be relegated as a footnote in the literary history.

I submitted old stories for the class and wrote new ones, and was surprised myself by the sexual content of the new stories I wrote. Franz could read your story and draw its structure on the board, such was the depth and clarity of his mind. One day, Franz took me aside said he was willing to discuss my stories privately not because he wanted to censor, but we would take more than a week explaining to the under-grad students what those body fluids and subtexts mean. Oh Franz he can be wicked, too, like one day when he told me he opens the middle page of a newly-bought book, to inhale its "virginity." Or weird, as when one student told him he liked the story "Divide by Two" that Franz had written and he flew into a short but magnificent rage, telling us loudly, "I hate that story! I hate that story!"

But through the years, he set many young writers on the road. Or even not-so-young ones. In his first book Oldtimers, Butch Dalisay thanked Franz "for seeing me home." Eric Gamalinda also told me, over cappuccino and latté in Chelsea, that the old man helped him a lot when Eric decided to go back to school, and write fiction. In 1994, Franz attended the launching of Ladlad, the gay anthology that Neil Garcia and I had edited, the first in this Catholic and conservative country. It was a difficult week. I had rashes all over because of the launching but when the day came, my mentors were there. Franz and Bien Lumbera showed up. I was glad.

Sometimes I visited Franz in the Faculty Center of UP to ask him to sign a book, or write letters of recommendation, or just to chat. He would be sitting there, amidst a whirlwind of old books, covering them all carefully with white bond paper. U2 would be playing in the background, a cassette tape given by one his students.

One of the poems that Eman Lacaba wrote was called "After Franz Arcellana." Franz got a Smith-Mundt grant in Creative Writing in 1956 and he visited the poet Richard Eberhart at Princeton University in New Jersey. Franz told Eman about this. Eman assumed the voice and persona of Franz in this beautiful work, which is included in Salvaged Poems.

"In the spring of ’56 I went to see Richard Eberhart./ Have you been, he asked, in a Quaker graveyard?/ No, I said. He took me to one outside Princeton./ Spring was just beginning; cold the high noon./ Still went from the thaw the ground, like green fire/ The neophyte grass, the air miraculously clear./ Under the cypresses and elms, as we wove in and out/ Among the mounds of Friends, the poet said: Note/ The graves

(This essay is included in Regarding Franz, a book of tributes for the late National Artist Francisco Arcellana. The bouquet of essays is edited by Elizabeth Arcellana Nuqui and Lydia Rodriguez Arcellana, published by the UP Press, and launched late last year).

SC orders Comelec to count Ladlad in 2010 polls

O kitam? There is a God of divine justice who sees all, but just waits. Let us hope and pray the SC reverses the insane Comelec decision calling us immoral and not lettng us become the number-one party list in the 2010 polls.


SC orders Comelec to count Ladlad in 2010 polls

By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:33:00 01/12/2010

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday to recognize the gay group Ang Ladlad as an accredited party-list group and to include its name when the poll body starts printing the ballots for the May elections.

The directive was contained in a temporary restraining order issued by the court against a Comelec resolution disqualifying Ang Ladlad from the party-list elections in May.

Deputy Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, in a late afternoon news conference, told reporters that Ang Ladlad’s appeal of its disqualification by the Comelec remains pending with the Supreme Court.

He said the Supreme Court is aware of the time within which the Comelec should print the names of eligible candidates and party-list groups in the ballots for the precinct count optical scan system.

“If later on the Court finds that Ang Ladlad should be qualified, it might be difficult, if not impossible to include them in the ballots,” Marquez said.

'Her' man

Ang Pahayagang Malaya
January 7, 2010

THE last reputable surveys done after the filing of certificates of candidacy show three presidential candidates at the top: Noynoy Aquino in the mid to high forties, Manny Villar and Erap Estrada in a virtual tie at 20 or 19 percentage points. And Gilbert Teodoro, the man anointed by the once humongous Partido Lakas-Kampi founded by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, incumbent and long-staying president of the benighted republic, at low single-digit numbers. The rest are also-rans, at 1 percentage point or even lower.

Why the regime’s anointed is languishing at bottom lows, despite the vaunted party machinery, the well-placed ads projecting competence and intelligence ("galing at talino"), and despite inarguably better speaking and debating skills than the competition, is attributable to the public belief that he is "Gloria’s man", the chosen "one", the person she deems most fit to succeed and most acceptable to her. Unfortunately for him, the person who chose him above all else happens to be most distrusted by the population. That distrust for his patroness drags Gibo down, never mind his personal qualities. It carries over to his persona, reinforced in no small measure by his having expressed not only the usual paeans of gratitude, but a public admiration for her "many achievements," something clearly the people do not share. To do a volte face at this time will no longer be credible. Gilbert Teodoro’s chances are virtually nil. Even Ronaldo Puno’s vaunted skills cannot resurrect flagging hopes. Nor Virgilio Garcillano’s magic do the trick. Perhaps if Norberto Gonzales succeeds in discombobulating everything and upsetting the applecart of elections… perhaps, but that’s a big if, and assuming the guy and his patroness can pull it through, will the people ever be so supine as to take such adventurism lying down?

It does not help Teodoro one whit that his patroness has filed her certificate of candidacy for the second congressional district of Pampanga. The undisguised attempt to pull strings even beyond her wished-for political demise, ruling beyond the grave as it were, makes Teodoro look all the more the puppet that he is unfairly made to be.

Yesterday, the papers carried Speaker Prospero Nograles’ inclusion of the call for a constitutional convention, as if to further stress the GMA plan so obvious. But because Gibo’s presidential ambition is singularly anchored on the support of her party and its minions across the archipelago, he cannot publicly balk. In fact, he is on record as supporting a change in the Constitution. While amending the fundamental law is right, espousing it at the moment when people so clearly distrust the sincerity of the incumbent is off-key. Gilbert cannot even publicly state that if elected president, he will wield his influence to ensure that GMA does not become his Speaker of the House. So whether for better, or predictably for worse, Gloria’s distrust rating will be the albatross around Gilbert’s neck. His goose is cooked, never mind how often Prospero Pichay and Mitos Magsaysay whistle in the dark.

Which brings me to this story: A few days before Manny Pacquiao knocked down Ricky Hatton in early May, the spouses Cynthia and Manuel Villar flew to Spain. Likewise, Gloria flew to Egypt and Syria for official visits. Why she had to go to these North African countries the public was never clear at, but in any case, they took it as just one of her usual flights of fancy. The Villars were waiting in Spain for cues from a well-placed Gloria crony, who was supposed to arrange a rendezvous with her in some warm Mediterranean coast.

Fortunately, this writer found out about the Villar travel plans. And so, just as Doña Gloria landed in Egypt, the cat was out of the bag. Expectedly, Malacañang made denials. Senadora Jamby Madrigal got into the act, and denounced Villar for desperately seeking La Gloria’s support in his attempt to derail the Senate ethics probe. This, after all, was Villar’s immediate problem. The attempted rendezvous panned out.

But then, and here our travel facts jibe with the veracity of highly reliable sources, a top-level meeting was supposed to have yet pushed through here in the country. And GMA, wanting for a strong contender her PaLaKa simply could not pull off from its hat, warmed up to the idea of Villar as her "secret" candidate. Classified as opposition, though not an "obstructionist" or a GMA basher as the rest of the presidential pack, Villar qualified as an acceptable alternative bet. Moreover, he was already ahead of her vice-president, Noli de Castro in the May surveys. Better yet, he had wherewithal to the max, the result of "smart" transactions capped by an even "smarter" IPO of his real estate empire the year before. Noli she had to spend fr, but with Manny, she gets a free ride.

The result of the "transaction" as my source confided is that GMA would endorse a "weak" but credible enough candidate, and not "encourage" Noli to run for president, a prospect that the not-so-ambitious vice-president was not inordinately "lusting" for. And on his part, Villar would keep dangling a "repeat vice-president" string, loaded with generous freebies, to his bosom friend Noli, a "red herring" of an offer. If GMA would have a weak official candidate, Manny with his huge war chest would prevail in the 2010 derby, the ideal surrogate. Neat.

After all, Lacson had withdrawn; Escudero had no money and would have to rely on Danding and Ramon Ang’s promises; Mar Roxas and Loren Legarda were languishing in single-digit survey static; and Erap would be disqualified. And true enough, when the SWS polled in mid-June 2009, it was a statistical tie among Villar, Chiz and Erap, with Noli behind, Loren and Mar even more so. Teodoro had launched his clumsy disaster preparedness infomercial a month before, its debut timed with Hatton’s early knock-out from the Pacman’s fists, and while everybody shook his head at his "late" entry and doubted his chances, most agreed he had intellectual credentials, credibility as candidate but not enough to win. Gravitas, but not votes.

And then the Lord writ his providence with sad tidings. On August 1, Corazon Aquino died after a long bout with cancer, and the political stage shook underneath. Forty days later, a game changer came in with Noynoy on the presidential trail. All previous assumptions changed, including the fortunes of Gloria’s pre-arranged surrogate. Likely unstoppable winner became a distant second, despite tons and tons of creative advertising and a bevy of turncoats. From September till December of the year past, Noynoy kept his commanding lead. Escudero withdrew, Erap persists, but Gibo continues to languish in the political netherworld.

And that is where the woman of the decade finds immediate political dilemma at this point in time. Her anointed has not risen, and her alternate, though far from victory, presents the single most "possible" threat to the front-runner she could not accept because he is the least likely to "transact."

If creative advertising and a well-run because well-funded campaign pulls Villar up in the next three months, and a demolition job somehow pushes down Noynoy’s lead considerably (or so the evil are planning), then it’s game for Manny and goodbye for Gibo. Garci and the "operators" should be able to do the trick, with Smartmatic laying the predicate.

But would Manny the new president be faithful to his "no me impune" assurances? Why not?

They would need each other most after a certifiably controversial "election". She with her residual powers as "commander-in-chief" between May 10 and June 30 just might be able to quell the tumult of the rabble. That’s why Del Bangit and the Class of ’78 are in the "proper" places. And he would at least be able to recover his billions, while stopping prosecution for "smart" deals made as congressman, Speaker, senator and Senate President, charges with enough documentary evidence to prosecute, but parried successfully by "smart" propaganda so far. Never mind if he has to deal with "her" congressmen with her (misma!) as Speaker. If he is off to wobbly start, he would not get his bearings composed, and she, as "Speaker" and alternate "power center", just might be able to pull off her parliamentary dreams of becoming the prime minister.

There you are – "her" real man for the May elections. God save this country.

Gays pursue party-list fight in Supreme Court

Gays pursue party-list fight in Supreme Court | 01/04/2010 10:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Gay party-list group Ang Ladlad is still intent on asking the Supreme Court (SC) to review the case for their party-list accreditation.

On Monday, Ang Ladlad was set to file a petition for certiorari, essentially asking the SC to review the decision of the Commission Elections (Comelec) to reject Ang Ladlad's petition for party-list accreditation last year.

Ang Ladlad claims to represent gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) communities in the Philippines.

In their petition for certiorari, a copy of which was sent to, Ang Ladlad said the resolutions "demonize the LGBT community by accusing them of indulging in imaginary acts of immorality that the Comelec deem as a 'threat to the youth.'"

In the same document, the group said the Comelec's presiding Commissioner said at a press briefing that "there is no distinction between [homosexuals and heterosexuals]...since the bottom line is that they are still males and females" and that the marginalization of LGBTs does not exist.

The group's national chairperson, Danton Remoto, said the group chose to wait until after the holidays to file their case before the SC.

"Pinalipas ko lang muna ang Pasko, kasi tinuruan ako ng parents ko na give love on Christmas," he told ABS-CBN News in an interview.

(I chose to let Christmas pass first [before filing the petition against the Comelec] because my parents taught me to give love on Christmas.)

Blocked at every point?

The group had filed a motion for consideration before the Comelec, which the poll body rejected in a ruling dated November 11.

Following a motion of consideration and motion to admit filed by Ang Ladlad, the Comelec released another decision on December 16 last year, denying reconsideration for their November ruling.

Since the Comelec decision was final, Ang Ladlad's only legal recourse was through the SC. Ang Ladlad reportedly has until February 17 this year to file a counter petition.

The Comelec had rejected the group's petition for party-list accreditation, saying that it was "dismissible on moral grounds."

The poll body said that, based on Bible and Koran teachings, homosexuality is allegedly immoral. The Comelec's en banc decision also stated that homosexuals posed a threat to Filipino youth.

Ang Ladlad slammed the decision, saying that it constituted a violation of their human rights.

In 2006, Ang Ladlad had also sought party-list accreditation but was rejected due to the lack of sufficient membership nationwide.

Remoto, an English professor at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University and a former officer of the United Nations Development Programme, had also announced his bid to run for Senator in the 2010 national elections.

His bid was rejected by the Comelec. The poll body said Remoto reportedly had no capacity to run a national election campaign. Report from Timi Nubla, ABS-CBN News. With reports from

as of 01/04/2010 10:26 PM