The 200 M check: the smoking gun in Garcia plunder case

By Ellen Tordesillas
Tuesday, January 25. 2011
Malaya Business Insight

If the general public was appalled by the plea bargain agreement struck by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman , one can just imagine how it was with Heidi Mendoza, the government auditor who was the lone prosecution witness who gave documentary evidence in the plunder case against the former military comptroller.

Mendoza, who withstood all kinds of pressure while she was investigating the Garcia plunder case, said it was so painful to hear and read government prosecutors say that the reason they had to accept Garcia’s offer for plea bargain was because the evidence was weak.

She said that’s what everybody was telling her and her team when they were conducting their investigation. Garcia was a smart guy, there was no paper trail in the more than P300 million that he was accused of filching from government funds.

But God works in mysterious ways. Over the weekend, in an interview with some members of media, Mendoza relates that moment when she found the P200 million check signed by Garcia amidst a pile of documents in the storage room of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

How that P200 million, part of the fund from the United Nations for the Filipino peacekeepers, was funneled into Garcia’s personal accounts is a tale of connivance not only among government officials but also with the bank officials. There are even talks of romantic liaisons.

The fake accounts, the irregular transactions could not have been done without the cooperation of high officials of the bank. In the case of the P200 million, it was the United Coconut Planters Bank, where government is represented by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

The AFP Inter-agency Transfer Fund, for which this check was intended, does not exist, according to state auditors who probed the plunder case of ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia. VERA Files
In the intervention filed by the Office of the Solicitor General to the plea bargain, it mentioned the name of Edith Bondoc, assistant vice president and branch head of UCPB, Alfaro branch where the mysterious transactions were conducted.

Bondoc, who we understand is now in Las Vegas and married to a former member of the Presidential Security Group during the time of President Cory Aquino, is not included in the plunder suit nor was she ever called to testify in the case.

Mendoza has a long list of frustrating incidents on the Garcia case. One of those was the withdrawal of authorization by her former boss, then COA Chairman Guillermo Carague. She was earlier warned that five of her bosses were under the pay of Garcia.

Media and the public also had been remiss. Mendoza recalled that the many times that she was at the witness stand at the Sandiganbayan hearings, “Not one of the media was there, not one of the so-called concerned citizens can be found, not one anti-corruption civil society was there to monitor the case.”

Shocked by the prospect of Garcia (he is now out on bail) getting away with plunder of money intended for soldiers, who lay down their lives for the country, civil society groups have pledged to support Mendoza.

Last week Mendoza resigned from her job. Asked why is she doing this, she recites the letter of the late Sen. Jose Diokno , from his prison cell, to his son Jose Manuel (Cel) Diokno :

Why be honest, when it pays to be dishonest?
Why fight for others when they won’t fight for you?
The answer, I think lies in what life means to you.
If life means having a good time, money, fame, power, security, then you don’t need principles;
All you need are techniques.
On the other hand, if happiness counts more than a good time,
Respect more than fame,
Right more than power and peace of soul more than security;
If death doesn’t end life but transforms it, then you must be true to yourself and to God and love the truth and justice and freedom - THAT ARE GOD’s OTHER NAMES

UN cites Pinoys for outstanding online volunteerism

UN cites Pinoys for outstanding online volunteerism
01/22/2011 | 04:45 PM

A Filipino graphic artist and a medical technologist are among the winners of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program’s “Online Volunteering Award 2010," the Philippine Mission to the UN disclosed over the weekend.

Professor Edwin Cuenco and Edith Marie Garingalao were cited for their outstanding contributions to peace and development, and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through the internet.

"The Germany based UNV said Cuenco provided pro bono graphic design services to various NGOs, including the Association Against Women Export (AAWE)," the Mission said in a news release on its website.

Cuenco, an award-winning graphic designer who teaches graphic design at the Arkansas Tech University, developed promotional materials that “strengthened AAWE’s capacities to advocate against human trafficking and contributed to raising funds for the organization’s women empowerment projects in Edo State, Nigeria."

His volunteer work focused on MDG goal 3, which is to promote gender equality and empower women.

“Online volunteering completely changed my life... I volunteer online because it is my civic and moral duty. I have learned that if we do not help each other nothing will ever be sustainable," Cuence said in the release.

“This makes me feel good as I do remember growing up in poor and indigent surroundings. Since then I swore that I would give back in any way I could. As I enjoy my online volunteer experience, I plan to keep on helping to the extent that I am able for my entire life," he added.

On the other hand, Garingalao, a medical technology professional, was part of the Kitega Community Center (KCC) team which identified possible health service models and assessed their relevance for Kitega, a small rural town in Uganda.

The teams’ contributions focused on MDGs 4 to 6, which are to reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; and combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

“I was in Uganda in 2002 and saw first-hand how the people there tend to cope especially in terms of health issues. When this project was offered, I thought it would be great to share what I know to help the people and also learn from their traditional understanding of such issues." Garingalao said.

A jury of experts in volunteerism and development cooperation, including UNV representatives from country offices and headquarters, chose the winners based on their commitment and contributions, the results of their collaboration, and their impact on the activities of the non-profit development organizations they supported.

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Libran Cabactulan said the recent recognition demonstrated the ability of Filipinos to contribute to development beyond the Philippines through their experience, expertise and knowledge of information and communications technology.

He said the passion and creativity of Filipinos can be tapped to help move many development organizations – both within and outside the Philippines - towards accomplishing their goals and, consequently, in achieving MDGs.

In a statement, UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri emphasized volunteers’ important role in achieving the MDGs.

“We can meet the goals, but only if we complement essential government action with the engagement of millions of people through volunteer action," she said.

The Mission noted that, every year, more than 9,000 online volunteers engage in non-profit development organization work through the UNV Online Volunteering service, which has entered its 10th year. — TJD/JA, GMANews.TV

Philippine poetry in an unlikely place

Philippine poetry in an unlikely place
01/18/2011 | 11:19 AM

Share Although the Philippine International Arts Festival is scheduled for February, the first month of the year has already been filled with events for the artistically inclined.

On January 8 at the Greenbelt 5 Gallery, Palanca Hall of Famer Alfred "Krip" Yuson led a star-studded poetry reading featuring Ed Maranan, Enchong Dee, Cesare Syjuco, Maxine Syjuco, Trix Syjuco, Myrza Sison, Danton Remoto, Enrico Subido Juaniyo Arcellana, Reggie Belmonte, Leandro Leviste, Raymond Ang, Ronald Regis, Audrey Carpio, and Igan D' Bayan. Also featured were Karen Davila and Derek Ramsay, who as it turns out has been writing poetry since he was a child.

The event was en grande, as Krip Yuson (GMANews.TV editor-at-large) had warned me. And why not, since it was a celebration of the Philippine Star's 25th anniversary. But attending a poetry reading in the middle of a mall had a certain dissonance to it. My feelings on a mall as a venue for poetry reading were similar to my qualms with mass being celebrated amid shops. If Jesus drove the market away from the church, why are they bringing the church to the market?

Poetry, like holy mass, is sacred. There's a reason that poetry is a less popular genre as compared to fiction, which a lot more people prefer. Of course, even more people would choose non-fiction - thus the largely successful self-help section. There isn't much science to it, it's as simple as poetry is delicate - every pause is important, no punctuation mark is accidental. Poetry needs to be heard. It deserves undivided attention, and that may be why it's seen as inaccessible. I wonder though, if it's such a good idea to put a poetry reading in the middle of a crowded place, where the echo is such that much of the poems being read disappear in the din.

On the other hand, as I arrived, Karen Davila was telling a reporter that "it's a noble cause, mainstreaming Filipino poetry." I agree, just as Instituto Cervantes' "Berso sa Metro" is an admirable project with the same noble cause. The difference, however, is that poetry reading is a performance while the poems of "Berso sa Metro" are static and can be read at will, on the commuter's own time, whether or not there is noise around.

Perhaps it's also a case of being used to poetry readings held in bars and cafes, like the PIAF NCCA Poetry Night at Tomato Bomb in Quezon City, where poets from four poetry groups converged. Regulars of Joel Toledo's Happy Mondays (now a nomad group since Magnet Cafe closed last year), Open Spoken, Bigkas Pilipinas and Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) all trooped to the event, which featured performances by Johnoy Danao and Diwa De Leon as well as the staple poetry reading.

Young actor Enchong Dee read works by Eman Lacaba and Eric Gamalinda.
There's also a steady noise level at bars and cafes, but unlike a mall, most of the people present attend intentionally, and are a bit more respectful of whoever holds the microphone. In Greenbelt 5, you could hardly tell between the guests and those who just happened to pass by.

That could be both good and bad; after all, if a spark was lit in someone who just happened to pass by, then the event did, indeed, bring poetry to the masses. That is, if the masses can be found among the Saturday afternoon clientele of Greenbelt 5.

Curiously enough, a table set up by the event's main sponsor National Bookstore offered a selection of poetry books, though none were local.

Some people in the audience were evidently drawn not by the prospect of poetry, but by the opportunity to see famous personalities up close. Still, there were those who seemed to be sincerely savoring the words, nodding and clapping in appreciation. Danton Remoto's performance of his own love poems was very popular, despite or perhaps because of their PG-13 nature, as was Maxine Syjuco's performance of her own poems from her book "A Secret Life," although it may have been the distractingly dazzling whiteness of her skin and her outfit.

Davila read works by National Artist Edith Tiempo, while Ramsay read the poem "Don't Stand at My Grave and Weep" from the MMFF wallflower "Rosario." Star athlete Enchong Dee read works by Eman Lacaba and Eric Gamalinda, and Summit Media's Myrza Sison, herself a Palanca awardee for her fiction, read poetry by her sister, Andrea Sison. Regina Belmonta read work by half-Filipino Aimee Nezhukumataphil, and Raymond Ang read Mikael Co's "As Courage to Camus."

Trix Syjuco had all eyes on her as she performed a piece from a dark period in her life. The audience seemed to be enthralled, if not by the poetry, by the free doughnuts and coffee. All in all it was indeed a grand event, and a pleasant diversion for the mall-going crowd.

The poetry reading with Krip Yuson is the first in a series of literary events presented by The Star and National Book Store. On January 22 at NBS Glorietta 5, Jessica Zafra and the Star's top writers discuss favorite books. On January 29 at NBS Edsa Shangri-La Plaza, Jose “Butch" Dalisay talks on “The Writing Profession: How Writers Can Improve their Craft and Earn a Living." - GMANews.TV

Photos by JB Eudela

A poetry reading unlike any other

Photo by Joey Samson

BY Krip Yuson
Philippine Star
17 January 2011

It was a reading like no other I’ve experienced. For one, it took place at the very heart of a posh shopping mall, the activity center called the Gallery on the second floor of Greenbelt 5 in Makati.

The celebration of The Philippine STAR’s 25th anniversary this year came off with a bang with the first of a full month’s series of literary activities involving the Lifestyle section’s writer-editors and regular contributing columnists — as conceived and spearheaded by Lifestyle Editor Millet Mananquil.

For January, the focus will be on Literature, with National Book store as a partner. The first Saturday was given over to a grand Poetry Reading, the conduct of which I was tasked to oversee, as well as emcee.

Millet and I initially came up with a roster of readers that numbered a full dozen — headed by full-fledged poets who also served as Star columnists: Juaniyo Arcellana, Ed Maranan, and Danton Remoto. Also asked to participate in the breakout activity were fiction writer Myrza Sison and young columnists Audrey Carpio, Raymond Ang, Regina Belmonte, Enrico Subido and Leandro Leviste.

Trix Syjuco: Superb performance Millet also invited guest and celebrity readers — a move that turned out to guarantee an even more lively and entertaining program.

The “reinforcements” all proved scintillating, especially since each one was a proven entertainer. I asked everyone to stick to poems by Filipino poets, if not their own, whether in English or Filipino. And that we avoid any angst-ridden verse, since we were just starting out the year, thus should ideally entertain the audience by way of sharing poems of good cheer and hope, or prideful ones of family and country. Oh, love poems would be acceptable, as long as they didn’t end in lugubrious fashion.

Some of the readers asked for a selection of poems they could pick from; others chose what they were familiar with — of Philippine poetry.

Raymond Ang, my former A-plus student in an Ateneo fiction class, former Guidon editor, and now assistant editor of the STAR’s Supreme section, broke the ice by reading the works of his fellow Ateneans, both Palanca prizewinning poets: Mikael Co’s “As Courage, to Camus” and Mookie Katigbak’s “Pop Music.”

Karen Davila: Beauty and brains Next to take the mic was the statuesque, glamorous Myrza Sison, editorial director of Summit Media and editor-in-chief of the websites and She read a poem by her sister Skakira Andrea Sison, a Poetry fellow at the1999 UP National Writers Workshop in Davao. Myrza herself was a Fiction fellow at the 2004 National Writers Workshop in Dumaguete. In 2006 she won a Palanca 2nd Prize for the Short Story.

I next called on the Young Star columnist Leandro Leviste, who had just returned from Myanmar with his mother Sen. Loren Legarda. Of the poems I e-mailed him, he chose to read “Stone, Papyrus, Clay” by my former student Johanna Carissa Fernandez. Lean said its environmentalist theme appealed to him.

Then the first of the guest readers, meaning non-Star writers, was called to the mic. And what a sight to behold was Maxine Syjuco, all in white and short shorts. The young poet and ever-enthralling multi-media visual artist read from her own first book of poetry, A Secret Life. For some secret reason, I had to call on my buddy, the incomparable writer and visual artist Igan D’Bayan, to do the honors in introducing Maxine.

Champion swimmer and heartthrob entertainer Enchong Dee followed, eliciting squeals from young fans who had surged close to the stage. Enchong chose to read translations into Filipino of poems by Emmanuel Lacaba and Eric Gamalinda.

Another attractive young writer, Regina Belmonte, did an excellent rendition of a sea poem by the distinguished Fil-Am poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil, titlled “Coco Cay.” Its closing lines read: “Tiny red seahorses glide in/ & out of the coral shrubs./ I want one to curl/ its ribbed tail around/ my finger, a mermaid’s ring./ The next time I press my hand/ on my lover, he would feel/ the gallop. The cavalry is here./ Every neigh & wild whip of hair.”

Also a fine pop singer and budding photographer, the 23-year-old Regina writes a STAR column while also serving as the assistant beauty editor of Cosmopolitan Philippines.

STAR fixture, national desk editor, columnist, poet and author Juaniyo Arcellana read two of his own takes on the urban quotidian, celebrating the distinct virtues of the districts Quiapo and Sta. Ana. We announced that our compadre Juaning has a third book coming out soon.

Enchong Dee: Making a splash with words Next up was the winsome and willowy Audrey Carpio, who has been writing for the STAR since 1999 and is an assistant editor of the YStyle section. She chose to read a poem each by the UST poets Ramil Digal Gulle and the recently departed, much-lamented Ophelia A. Dimalanta.

Danton Remoto had everyone in titters over his first poem, and may have shocked a couple of grandmothers in the audience with his second. But trust the former Ateneo literature professor to get away with scandalous verse, what with his A-plus charm.

Treat after treat regaled the audience, with the flow quickening with outstanding performances that presented fresh aspects of the spoken word.

My TV talk show co-host (on GNN Channel’s arts & culture program Illuminati) Trix Syjuco pulled off a performance that had everyone craning necks to see what she’d do next, until she melted into and past the crowd.

A page poet in her own right, Trix creates complex multi-media works where she is all of writer, conceptualist, director, performer/actress, video editor, sound and installation artist. She recently represented Luzon and Metro Manila in the 2010 Visayas Biennale hosted by Cebu City, with her works also soon to be remounted in Bacolod City.

A fitting follow-up was Enrico Subido’s rap number, which drew such hearty cheers and applause, such has rap become a mainstay of pop culture. When Enrico, a four-time Palanca first-prize winner for the Kabataan Essay, oh-so-politely asked by e-mail if he could rap instead of read poetry, I said “Of course, that’s even better ’cuz you recite it.”

Cerebral chic: Reggie Belmonte and Myrza Sison The last five readers shared tons of gravitas. Palanca-prize record holder Ed Maranan, also a Star columnist, got back to Manila that very day, after his flight back from a Batanes sojourn had been canceled the previous day. Of course he read his own poetry. And we can trust this traveler and place reveler to come up with poems on the Ivatans soon.

Television broadcast anchor and icon Karen Davila, whom we briefly introduced as a beauty-and-brains exemplar, selected a lyric poem by UP Centennial poetry winner Marte Abueg for her first number. Her second, fattening my own heart, was National Artist for Literature Edith L. Tiempo’s classic poem “Bonsai.” Seeing the words scrolling up on a Plasma screen, I made sure to take photos to send to Mom Edith in Montemar, Sibulan.

Cesare A.X. Syjuco made it in time from attendance at Baby Orosa’s book launch at Instituto Cervantes. The acclaimed multi-media artist, musician, poet and art critic rendered two pieces, one while accompanying himself with a harmonica, from his soon-to-be-released 15-track CD album and book set of his avant-garde poetry and music titled “A Sudden Rush of Genius.”

The penultimate reader was a surprise participant. She had only meant to be a stage mom in accompanying her son Lean to the event. But she couldn’t say no to her good friend Millet when pressed into service. And that’s how Sen. Loren Legarda wound up joining us on stage.

Loren’s last-minute choice of poem proved astute: “Sestina” by Simeon Dumdum, Jr., which we had shared in this space recently as part of the poet’s keynote address at the PEN Conference held in Cebu City last month. It is dedicated to Mom Edith, and is also the culminating poem in Judge “Jun” Dumdum’s new book, “If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly?” (a book of birds and verse forms).

Last but not least, as they say, showbiz superstar Derek Ramsay was warmly welcomed by the crowd as soon as he was intro-ed by Millet. Derek acknowledged that he wrote poems while in high school (heard him whisper to a friend before he went up the stage that they were love poems), and proceeded to read the poem featured in the film Rosario by director Albert Martinez.

By 5 p.m. the most spontaneous, variegated, warmest, and best-received poetry reading I’ve joined in years came to pass. But there were photo ops a-plenty, and signing sessions with literary and showbiz groupies. Thanks to Krispy Kreme and Starbucks for their support, and to Miguel Ramos of National Book Store who set off the memorable reading with his opening remarks and intro to this monster of ceremonies, whose heart grew even fatter upon hearing of a remark from an oldtimer of a St. Scho English teacher —how she and her colleagues had enjoyed it to the full, and that there should be more of such literary events shared with an appreciative public.

From the 19th century to the LRT

Writing Athwart: Adelina Gurrea’s Life and Works
By Beatriz Alvarez Tardio
Ateneo de Manila University Press

If you take the LRT-1 and LRT-2 trains, you will see the walls abloom with images and words from Spanish poems with Filipino translations, a pet project of Instituto Cervantes. Taking off from Poetry in the Tube of the London trains, this project has proved so successful that our National Book Development Board has done Tulaan 1 and 2as well, focusing on Filipino poets this time.

But one poet on the wall can claim both distinctions -- Spanish and Filipino poet -- with aplomb. She is Adelina Gurrea, represented in the gallery of Spanish poetry with a short, lyrical poem. But who was she, and why is she not even a footnote in our literary history?

This gap in her life and writing is filled by Beatriz Alvarez Tardio, who has just published Writing Athwart: Adelina Gurrea’s Life and Works, with a companion volume in Spanish titled La Escritura Entrecruzada de Adelina Gurrea. Funding for research and publication came from the Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation and the Ministry of Culture of the Spanish Government.

Like a detective looping together clues from many threads and gaps, Señorita Tardio has put together an important and charming account of the life and works of our forgotten writer. Maria Adelaida Gurrea Monasterio, better known as Adelina, was born on Sept. 27, 1896 in her family’s hacienda in La Carlota, Negros Occidental. Of Spanish and mestizo origins, she nevertheless retained a love for her land of birth, even when the family later returned to Spain in 1921 because her mother wanted to live in her own country. Then and now, the loyal daughter had to live with the mother, and so Adelina uprooted herself to be with her family.

She went to school at Santa Escolastica School in Manila, learnt English there, but continued to speak Spanish most of her life. With her playmates and her yaya she spoke Ilonggo. On the surface, the education is Western, but beneath that, she would later write vivid stories collected in Cuentos de Juana, memories of nights filled with magical stories from her yaya.

Thus, she was a Pinay even in Madrid. As Señorita Tardio puts it: "Adelina Guerra never ceased identifying herself as a Filipina, always longing for the land where she grew up and to which she dedicated most of her writings. The return to the Philippines, which she had left as a young girl, was postponed again and again. Through her prologues and poems, she expressed her desire to come back and be reintegrated in the place she called her native land. However, she could not leave Spain for many years. Hence, her nostalgia was so intense and her memories of her native land were so vivid."

Think of her as a woman of the last century who was of mixed race, a Creole, who wrote poems but had to use a male pseudonym "in order to avoid the prejudice against women," whose domains were then the kitchen and the sewing machine.

The early poems, of course, are redolent of traditional Spanish poetry, mawkish and sentimental. But in 1922 she began to write in a more vigorous tone, influenced by the rise of modernism in Europe and Anglo-American education in the Philippines. Her poem "The Impossible" reads like this: "I could, / Seeing myself in your eyes, / Make a song in poetry/ Or a photograph,/ A clear reality, / And it would be amiss. / But art is an obsessive dream;/ It seeks the intangible/ With desires of blue..."

And near the end of her life, she wrote a poem called "Twilight Path," which is included in her last collection called Mas senderos, She was about 70 years old when she wrote the poem, and you could almost hear the bells tolling in this brief but beautiful elegy.

"The pebble-less pathway/ Runs across the green country./ On this road my steps now stray;/ I am no longer on the true journey./ The brambles smothered/ The route of my white, winged horses;/ Hard flint gathered/ Beneath my weary courses./ Tomorrow: paths,/ Solitude in the streets,/ The end of the day,/ My wheels and the rocky ground,/ On which my feeble steps/ Dissipate into nothingness."

If the poems of Adelina Gurrea are such delicate constructions, her stories and essays are made of another stuff. The stories are sly and mischievous, the essays prescient.

The dedication in Juana’s Tales prove that she never forgot her native land. It goes this way: "To the memory of my father, who was a great lover of books as well as of his native land, I dedicate this book written with the scents of our country’s folklore."

The native land is Negros Occidental, with its stories of goblins and evil spirits, but used as mere props to convey insights into the country’s political, economic and especially social problems.

Obviously autobiographical, Juana is based on the woman who took care of the author and her brothers while they were growing up in La Carlota.

"Juana is an old woman, though not very old, of dark complexion, flat nose, small eyes and big mouth. The mere passage of time has blackened her teeth because of the betel chewing. As to her personality, Juana is daring and brave. Because of this as well as of her size, she has been given the nickname of Baltimore, after the huge battleship of the United States. She knows how to speak Spanish because she had serving the houses of the Spaniards for many years..."

Of such stuff are our childhood made, filled with stories that amused us, made us wonder and gape, and would never leave us, even if we have left behind La Carlota to go to our own Madrid, or London, or New York.

These are tales of marvelous beings culled from the popular culture and folklore of the country. This is the same source of delights for writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who was asked once about the origins of his amazing fiction. "My fiction? They came from the tales my grandmother told me when I was young. And the front pages of Colombian newspapers." Thus, magical realism, or la maravelloso real.

The marvelous real in Gurrea’s fiction include the tamao, the aswang, the kind but mischievous elf, the tic-tic, and the bagat, who can assume many different faces and forms, like some people running for public office in the forthcoming elections.

Gurrea is a shrewd observer of colonial politics, as shown in the way she describes Juana in the introduction: "Like any Filipino, she would listen to the commands and the detailed directions given to her with a gesture of complacency, as though she were to accomplish them meticulously, and later she would do whatever she felt like doing."

Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, the doyenne of Philippine history, has the same insight into our native leaders who served the Spanish officials. She said our grandfathers pretended to listen, smiled and nodded their heads as the Kastilas slashed the air with their sharp words. In the end, the Filipinos served -- but they did not follow.

And Señorita Tardio concurs with this observation. "This is another important aspect of Juana’s Tales. On a tranquil and even magical sea of events, lurks Adelina’s solid criticism of the colonial system. Her subtle criticism, like the Philippine silence, speaks of the sufferings by describing them as though in hushed tones. Such disposition formed her choice of the Malayan story and the times before the natives had to obey another man. In her introduction to Juana, Adelina says: ’In the moment for explanations, she would deliver her spiel in Visaya. Though sometimes, she was given a reply beyond pure words. Those were the things of colonization."

And in the story "Bad Luck," Jacinto is a native orphan who is a loyal and brave servant to the Guiztegui family, where he grows up. While serving as courier of the ransom money for the hostaged Guiztegui children, he fails to reach the place in time. The police attacks the hideout, and the bandits are forced to kill all the children.

Gurrea’s hand is firm in her introduction to this tale: "For the men to be productive, their discipline was tough, cruel, colonial, there. That is how the period and the customs were. The men were whipped, they were punished for the smallest reason. The natives endured such situation as something hopeless, though concealing inside a ferment that any morning would wake up the effervescence of rebelliousness."

And her essays? They were speeches delivered in Madrid and Manila, with the later ones marked by the scars of war and disappointment with American rule. She was unhappy with the state of the country when the Americans "gave" it independence while it was in ruins mostly caused by American bombs, without massive foreign assistance (like the Marshall Plan for Japan) and wracked by internal conflicts.

Her solutions: education starting with the very young, bilingual teaching (now being done), state support for education (still lacking), love of country (yet to happen). These solutions reverberate even now, 30 years after our Filipina-Española writer had left the shores of both the Philippines and Spain.


This is the second and the last poem I read in today's reading. I hope the children in the crowd covered their ears with their hands. Thanks to my friend Karen Davila of ABS-CBN fpr this photo, which she put in her Twitter account. Other twitter messages called my poems "naughty" and "sexy. az in." Hmmmm. I just woke up the afternoon crowd because I didn't want them to think that poems always need to be serious. Or boring. ;-)


I don't know what it is about your fingers
that caress my skin with a touch
like breath warm and urgent in the lobes
of my ears.

I don't know what it is about your lips
that kiss my nose, my face, and nuzzle
my neck, awakening the pores of my skin,
leaving them humming.

I don't know what it is about your tongue
that slides sinuously down my body, waking up
nipples from their deep sleep, making the navel
pout with envy as your lips reach the silk of my thighs.

I don't know what it is about your voice
that begins as a whisper into my ear, turning
into grunts of delight as I light fires under your skin,
blossoming into moans as your mouth opens and your eyes close,

As I trace your jawline with my fingers and tell you how much
I love you.

My Five-Year-Old Nephew Talks to Me

One of the poems I read at today's Philippine STAR and National Bookstore poetry readings. I wrote a draft of this poem ten years ago but lost it. This morning, it all came back to me the moment I woke up from my sleep, and wrote it down for today's reading.

My Five-Year-Old Nephew Talks to Me

Uncle, uncle, what happened to you?
Why do you have a smile as sticky as glue?

Then sometimes, my uncle, your smile is gone
Like the parts of my toy gun that came undone.

Some days you pass like a breeze in the house,
your feet floating above the cat and the mouse.

Then sometimes your face darkens like a cloud,
you are so silent, and your door is locked.

But one morning you went home with marks
on your neck -- small, red marks

That made my eyes widen
and so I asked Yaya Mirren

To spray Baygon in your room
so the mosquito that made your neck bloom

Into this red and sorry sight
will no longer bite you -- ferociously -- at night.

STAR, NBS present poetry reading session

STAR, National Book Store present poetry reading session today
By Millet M. Mananquil (The Philippine Star) Updated January 08, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine STAR launches its 25th year celebration today by focusing on the power and luster of the written word. Well, make that the spoken word.

For today, a poetry reading session will be presented by The Philippine STAR Lifestyle Section and National Book Store at Greenbelt 5’s second floor Gallery at 3 p.m., led by literary icon and word wizard Alfred “Krip” Yuson.

Joining him in an afternoon that will mix divine magic with sublime charm are Karen Davila, Derek Ramsay, Enchong Dee, Cesare Syjuco, Maxine Syjuco, Trix Syjuco, Myrza Sison, Juaniyo Arcellana, Reggie Belmonte, Leandro Leviste, Raymond Ang, Ronald Regis, Audrey Carpio, Enrico Subido, Danton Remoto and, last but not least, the venerable Ed Maranan – stalwarts all, in literature and media. Starbucks and Krispy Kreme will provide hot brew and sweet potence.

Described as “a passive-aggressive beerhouse rhetoricean extraordinaire,” Krip Yuson has authored 24 (and counting) books including novels, poetry, fiction, essays, children’s stories, plays, biographies and coffee table publications. This Palanca Hall of Famer is a founding member of the Manila Critics Circle, served as chairman of the Writers Union of the Philippines and teaches poetry and fiction at Ateneo University where he held the Henry Lee Irwin Professorial Chair.

“When Krip writes about life and literature, topics that for the man deserve a shot or 10 of his fave super malt whiskey from Scotland or Japan, he does so with equal parts candor and mordant humor. He is the baddest wizard of them all,” says artist-writer-provocateur Igan D’Bayan.

Karen Davila is Philippine television’s award-winning beauty and brains, while Derek Ramsay is Philippine cinema’s award-winning brawn and brains.

ABS-CBN newscaster Davila will broadcast an interpretation of works by National Artist Edith Tiempo. Swatch endorser Ramsay – who has been an avid poet even as a child – will recapture the Filipino indio’s valor in the face of oppression by reciting the poem “Don’t Stand at My Grave and Weep” from Rosario, the movie directed by Albert Martinez based on a true story by Manny V. Pangilinan, which made moviegoers weep.

Hot, hot actor Enchong Dee, who has reaped 500 medals in swimming as De La Salle University’s celebrated athlete and the country’s pride in international Olympics, shows how he can make a splash with words as well. Enchong will interpret works by poet, guerrilla warrior and martyr Eman Lacaba and award-winning poet-fictionist-essayist Eric Gamalinda.

The Greenbelt 5 audience will be in for a rare treat as the legendary multi-media icon Cesare A.X. Syjuco and his extremely talented daughters Maxine and Trix render performances showcasing a family’s phenomenal genius as artists, poets and musicians.

Runway mannequin-turned-lifestyle journalist Myrza Sison will match the sharpness of her stilettos with poetry coutured by her sister Shakira Andrea Sison. Myrza, the only fashion model who is also a Palanca awardee in fiction, is editorial director of Summit Media and editor in chief of websites and

Juaniyo Arcellana, desk editor of STAR, is also an essayist, poet and fictionist. He will recite his own works entitled “Dialogue in Dog Minor” and “Plaza Calderon.”

Reggie Belmonte, Young Star’s beauteous editor at large, is also assistant beauty editor of Cosmopolitan Philippines. This rocker takes a break from polishing her nails with black lace and other such creative and edgy stuff by rendering an interpretation of a poem by Aimee Nezhukumataphil, a poet whose mother is Filipino and whose father is American Indian.

Leandro Leviste, a prodigy who loves writing about international politics and history more than anything else, comes fresh from his trip to Myanmar with his mother, Sen. Loren Legarda, for a visit with newly freed prisoner, democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi. Leviste has just been accepted at Harvard University

Raymond Ang, assistant editor of Supreme, says he is at that point in the Buffy finale when Dawn asks the Slayer: “What now?” A recent graduate of Ateneo University where he was editor in chief of the 81-year-old student paper The Guidon, Raymond adds that he currently spends time contemplating life plans in the limbo that is “finding yourself.” Raymond will read “As Courage to Camus,” a poem by Mikael Co about learning to live with yourself.

Ronald Regis, one of the 10 winners of the 2010 Philippine STAR Lifestyle Journalism Awards, is a hip rocker, a full-time professional poker player and standup comedian. He will recite his own creation, a poem which finally breaks his long self-imposed silence.

Audrey Carpio, assistant editor of The STAR’s Ystyle, will read Ophelia Dimalanta’s “Finder Loser” and Ramil Gulle’s “Poetry.” After a stint in New York where she studied at Columbia University under the guy who wrote the book-turned-movie Blow starring Johnny Depp, she ended up working for an advertising award show. Before she completely lost her soul, she decided to come back home to become an editor at Metro Magazine and return to STAR where she started writing in 1999.

Enrico Subido, who at 25 is a four-time Palanca awardee, will do a rap number written by himself, matching the cadence of his words with the beat of his guitar. Will Enrico also dance? If no one stops him.

Danton Remoto, an Ateneo University teacher for 20 years, is now communications officer at the United Nations Development Programme. Renowned as a gay rights activist, Danton will recite a poem straight from his pen and heart.

Ed Maranan is a poet, essayist, fictionist, playwright, author of children’s books and translator who has reaped too many literary awards to mention here. He taught political science at UP before serving as press attaché of the Philippine embassy in London. He is flying from stormy Batanes today to whip up a poetic storm in Greenbelt 5.

Today’s poetry reading is the first in a series of literary events presented by The STAR and National Book Store (NBS) this January. On Jan. 15 at NBS Rockwell Power Plant is a lecture-discussion by F. Sionil Jose on “Filipino Writers Today: How Relevant Are They” with STAR editor in chief Isaac Belmonte and executive editor Amy Pamintuan leading the panelists. On Jan. 22 at NBS Glorietta 5, Jessica Zafra discusses Favorite Books along with the STAR’s top writers. On Jan. 29 at NBS Edsa Shangri-La Plaza, Jose “Butch” Dalisay talks on “The Writing Profession: How Writers Can Improve their Craft and Earn a Living.”

Love and EDSA

I am working at UNDP Philippines again, and go to work via EDSA every day. The traffic I had learnt to take in stride. I sleep, or spend my commuting time reading the billboards.

One small, black-and-white billboard had Maricar Reyes talking about diamonds. Beautiful and wide-eyed, below her face runs the test: "Because I take love seriously."

A few hundred meters away is the big, black-and-white billboard of Hayden Kho. No longer naked but covered in expensive, white winter wear, Hayden is promoting his perfume made in Paris.

When a female friend sent me the alleged sex video of Maricar and Hayden, I only watched it for a few minutes. The couple was making love, not having sex. I could not bear to pry into the privacy of two lovers sensuously kissing each other's faces and lips and bodies. They were fully naked, but it was not porn. It was erotica.

Her billboard upheld the importance of being seriously in love.

His billboard said a stink can be pushed at bay by a spritz of perfume.

Their images are done in black and white because it is classic, and they wear white because it is prim and pure. Whether their respective enterprises prosper I do not know. But they certainly know how to evoke the power of colors, of words, of images -- especially on an avenue choked black by diesel fumes.