On suicide attackers.

On suicide attackers. 

FROM AN Associated Press report carried by Honolulu Star-Advertiser today, July 27, comes the words of an American suicide attacker who carried such an attack in Syria, in that civil war that country is embroiled in at this time. [HSA, 27 Jul 2014, A4]

Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha said: 'I want to rest in the afterlife, in heaven. There is nothing here, and the heart is not resting. Heaven is better.'

The AP report talks of a video left behind by Abu-Salha and released by the Nusra Front. The video contains the words of other fighters who carried out the May 25 attack of 'several army positions at the same time.' Two of the three simultaneous attacks in Idlib, the report says, were carried out by fighters from foreign countries.

Abu-Salha was an American.

Smiling at that video, he says he 'looks forward to going to heaven.'

Reading this account on a Sunday morning makes one sit down and think. And think through.

There are many unsaid things this account is telling us, including allusions to the promised heaven with virgins and rest to those who do such a thing in the name of something greater and grander than their puny selves.

We get those.

But we need to ask other questions as well, some metaphysical inquiry into what kind of a world are we building up for the young of whatever faith, country, religion, of community he or she comes from.

The older generations owe these young people--Abu Salha was only 22 when he carried that suicide attack--the good life, and that good life is not only in heaven but also on this earth.

We owe all of the young people this: the building up of a kinder world for them, a world where the good life is not only made accessible to those who did not have to fight it out and become suicide bombers or attackers.

The escape to heaven--the escape to another world beyond this world--is plain and simple escape. There is no other name for that except that we are showing these people a way out by deceiving them, by telling them of something that has no proof, by promising them something and using that 'leap of faith' as the raison d'etre of that deed.

Any which way we look at this, this is not a case of Islam alone.

He said it so for us to remember, and remember for always: 'There is nothing here, and the heart is not resting.'

We need to argue otherwise: That there is something here, and that something is the possibility of the good life, of social justice, of equity, of kindness, of care, of understanding.

Of humanity at its best.


'A lifetime's worth of work, and now it's gone.'

'A lifetime's worth of work, and now it's gone.' 

THAT WAS how Mohammed Biltaji, 38, described what happened to his cousin's home in Shajaiya, now just ruins: 'A lifetime's worth of work, and now it's gone.' 

His cousin is Khalid Biltaji, 64.

The Los Angeles Times account, "12-hour truce allows Palestinians to return" (carried by Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 27 Jul 2014, A50) written by Alexandra Zavis and Batsheva Sobelman, describes the truce this way: 'It was a day to take stock of the damage, search for the missing and bury the dead.'

'At 8 a.m. Saturday, guns fell silent across much of the Gaza Strip for a 12-hour pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas. Palestinians surged into devastated areas to see what remained of their homes and recover a few precious belongings. On the Israeli side, the truce meant a welcome respite from the need to rush to a shelter whenever sirens warned of approaching rockets.'

We are told of the 'stench of death' with 'more than 130 bodies (pulled) from under the rubble where they had lain for days in neighborhoods cut off by fighting, pushing the Palestinian death toll above 1,000.'

The deaths on the Israeli side have peaked to 42, three of these civilians, the rest soldiers.

The respite from this game of peek-a-boo, from running away from the missiles, and from hiding in shelters even when some shelters are not safe made the people of Gaza realize what had happened to them: 'yawning craters, pancaked homes and mountains of debris.'

With Hamas firing rockets at Israel, and Israel, out of self-defense, responding, there is not letup to this conflict, and the civilian populace will always be caught in between.

The Khan Yunis tragedy is a proof: 12 members of an extended family taking shelter in a home there perished in the Israeli strike.

There is so much to process from this, and the mind could hardly catch up with the regression of events, with more deaths added on the list, their numbers increasing by day in this unnecessary war between neighbors, a war that had protracted to 19 days since in started on July 8.

Something is missing in the peace efforts.

Whatever it takes, the two sides must come back to the bargaining table again, and like neighbors, must spell out the terms of their peaceful co-existence.

No Palestine can ever be built outside Palestine.

No Israel can ever be built outside Israel.

Either way, the sooner they explore the language of understanding and the promise of that language, the better for them both.

If only for the children.

Flowers on their graves, like those beautiful tulips, are always useless for the dead.

Those beautiful flowers would only become a defense mechanism to mask off the stupidity of the living.


Gracio and his illusory position.

Gracio and his illusory position. 

JERRY GRACIO is reported to be a Waray commissioner of the Commission on the Filipino Language, the same commission that has morphed from an institute to a surian and now this present form. 

Or deformity. 

First off the bat, Gracio is a crybaby. A crybaby is a person who sheds tears profusely as if almost voluntarily. At will, he can flood a river.

A look into what Gracio represents by checking into available information on the Internet tells you of a man who represents the Waray people but there is no indication that he has produced a body of work in that language that merits his representing the Waray.

He has had a body of work in Tagalog, and an account said he spent some of his growing up years in a town in Samar where his mother is from, and there picked up the Waray language of his mother, but not the Masbateño language of his father.

The vortex of his student and writing life revolved around UP Diliman where the likes of the many who believe in an uncritical view of a national language that has been the direct cause of the state's negligence of its obligation to mother tongue education, to multiplicity, and to diversity. He produced works in the Tagalog language and even reaping awards in the name of Tagalog literature.

But there is no indication that he did that in the Waray language he represents. In substance, he is a writer of Tagalog.

In that FB account he wrote in his 'flawless' Tagalog, he is decrying the loss of tertiary education of Tagalog courses. He does not come up with a valid argument for his decrying, but laments that if we do not offer Tagalog in college:

1. There will be no chance for the other languages to be offered in college and

2. Only English will have a public space in the college education of the young peoples of the Philippines.

He did not say that these young peoples in the Philippines have had so many years of learning Florante at Laura and Ibong Adarna, and that offering the same in the same shallow discourse, will not push these young people to think better or to gain employable skills. We ask him: what can our young people learn in Gracio's Tagalog when the educational apparatus of the state is already slanted to brainstorm them in his Tagalog and leaving out any healthy chance to make them learn things about themselves?

With 10% of the population employed abroad--one of the key reasons why the Philippine economy has remained afloat--there is no econmic value of Gracio's Tagalog and he does not even tell that, preferring to stick by his gainful employment as full-time commissioner representing Waray.

Gracio must admit that he is in the same league as the Tagalistas.

These are people who had rammed into our throat their naive notion of nation, state, nation state, and national language, and believing that the country becomes great if it speaks only one and only one language, and that language is Gracio's Tagalog.

Some of the Waray academics have defied Gracio, and I know some of them, and he must come to admit with humility that he does not have the academic qualification and literary experience to back up his claim that he can represent the Waray people.

Somewhere, an academic said that no one among the commissioners of Waray professionally know what the Waray language is.

I believe in these academics, and I do not believe in the self-claim of Gracio towards the end of his FB post that 'Waray ako.'

He should have said that piece in Waray--that whole post, in an academically acceptable written form and we will see if the Waray people can even admit his version of Waray.

It is easy to write on one's wall a self-claim and say, 'Waray ako.' Any Tomas, Diko, and Hari can do that: post a self-claim. And then become a crybaby.

To prove that you have the expertise to represent that people is a different story.

Oh, I wish that our Waray academics and cultural workers will come out into the open and say something about this oppressing position of their Waray commissioner. Paging Janis Claire SalvacionMichael Carlo Villas, and Volts.

The subtleties of fascism and ethnic cleansing. Or, how to homogenize various peoples via the imposition of a national language.

The subtleties of fascism and ethnic cleansing. Or, how to homogenize various peoples via the imposition of a national language. 

LIKE ALL ADVOCATES of multiplicity in the Philippines, I have always argued that the imposition of a bogus national language in its most schizophrenic form is a kind of deception marketed as a good thing for the soul of the country.

Or, for the spirit of a people now acting and thinking and behaving and dreaming and 'languaging' as one and only one.

Here, we have been hoodwinked wholesale with an idea that with the fake national language, everything would follow suit, and that progress would come about at last to all men, women, and children of this god-forsaken country.

And by the power of the state's ideological apparatuses that, in today's terms would be equivalent to the CHED, DEPED, and TESDA, and all the agencies that promote a homogenized culture including the KWF, the project to turn every person in this country into parrots is now almost done and over with.

With Ilokanos, Kapampangans, Bikolanos, Pangasinan, Visayans, and everyone else having learned the skills in self-hatred called cultural and linguistic denigration, it is not farfetched that everyone will soon be speaking a language that is not even a language but a dialect of an existing one.

Challenge an honest linguist and show her that rule of mutual intelligibility and you realize that we have fooled all along.

For decades.

For generations.

To make the deception palatable to everyone, the powerful link this up with the nation.

These people--some of them writers, academics, and national artists--forget that the non-Tagalog peoples had demonstrated their sense of the nation in their own language and culture long before the Katipunan did.

The last time I checked, the Ilokanos, for instance, wrote and signed their membership in the Katipunan in the Ilokano language contrary to the claim of Tagalogistas who cannot offer us something new to prove that Tagalog is different from P/Filipino.

The 'isang bansa-isang diwa-isang wika' mantra of the Marcosian New Society has not been forgotten. The powerful KWF people follow the same fascistic mantra that every fascist regime in Europe followed to the letter.

These fascistic regimes inaugurated what is now called linguicide, the systematic killing of the languages of a country not approved and considered and regarded as 'national'. This act of killing the other languages is to make it certain that the approved national languages gets all the nurturing so that in the end, like France, everyone would be speaking French.

All these are rituals of nation building of the wrong kind, and it is wrong because it is not premised on multiplicity, on diversity, on the 'manyness' of peoples that constitute this country.

The turning of this fact of multiplicity into just 'one'--into 'one' people speaking a single language--is an act of ethnic cleansing.

The formula is simple: no other non-Tagalog speaking peoples shall ever be allowed to exist in this homogenized country.

One activist has aptly expressed this ethnic cleansing this way: 'To homogenize a country by imposing a national language and identity at the expense of the existing indigenous languages and cultures is nothing more than organized ETHNIC CLEANSING. Congratulations Philippines for doing this without much bloodshed, but ethnic cleansing is still ethnic cleansing...' [Mike Pangilinan, https://www.facebook.com/siuala?fref=ts Retrieved 24 Jul 2014]

Now, summon the Aryan race, the pure race, of the Philippines.

And call in the cattle train for all those other peoples of this country. The gas chambers are waiting.

Auschwitz and Dachau have been built, and the gas has been ignited.


We do not owe the Tagalog language anything; the Philippine nation-state owes the non-Tagalog peoples a lot, including restorative justice.

We do not owe the Tagalog language anything; the Philippine nation-state owes the non-Tagalog peoples a lot, including restorative justice.


It is an old one, and we have heard this spoken--and even written--by rabid Tagalistas in the past. The Tagalistas are not necessarily Tagalog people even if many of them are, but ideologues of the 'national language' that has reduced non-Tagalog speaking peoples second class citizens in a country professing, among other things, democracy and social justice.

The latest of this assault is the claim of one Tom Agulto who argues that the country owes the Tagalog people a debt of gratitude. In extensu, the non-Tagalog peoples owe the Tagalog people their 'national' language.

Agulto forgets the history from below, and does not remember that the Katipunan oath of the Ilokanos was written in their language and signed with their blood. He should check the Katipunan documents at the National Library and read up on the 'brains of the nation' by Resil Mojares.

A young activist, Eugene Carmelo Cabanilla-Pedro, falsified the claims of Agulto, and I am citing from his post verbatim:

This statement by Tom Agulto--who is (sic) Pangasinense or Ilocano, I think--is not supported by historical evidence. He seems to presume that since the Revolution was started by Tagalogs, the language used by all was Tagalog.

"1) Tagalog was not as widespread as it is today during the revolution. If it were, Tagalistas like de Veyra would not have said that they wanted to Tagalog to be the national patois so they and other Filipinos could learn it.

"2) The revolution was an ilustrado revolt, at least at the higher ranks. The common language of the ilustrados was Spanish, not Tagalog.

"3) Even in an essay written by Virgilio Almario, a Tagalista, although he misinterprets the instructions of the revolution to be bilingual only in Spanish and Tagalog, the instruction clearly portrays a multilingual revolution, for the instructions require that communications and revolution-related things be translated to non-Tagalog languages in non-Tagalog areas, and Spanish is the common language of communication.

"4) Many of our nationalists used Spanish and English in their writings and other works.

"The above can only mean one thing. We do not owe any utang na loob to the Tagalog language. What we owe is respect to our patrimony, which requires preservation, development, and propagation of all Filipino languages." [Source: E Carmelo Pedro, https://www.facebook.com/groups/philippinelanguages/10152533887388771/?notif_t=group_activity. Retrieved 23 Jul 2014]

In fine, we note that Agulto, per Roy Vadil Aragon, is not a Pangasinan or an Ilokano, but a Tagalog from Bulacan.


'Debt of gratitude for what? For reducing us into linguistic and cultural paupers?'

'Debt of gratitude for what? For reducing us into linguistic and cultural paupers?' 

[For Janine Go Dimaranan: a Tagalog who understands so many things, including the need to have a just and fair public policy on language and culture.]

THERE IS SOMETHING going on in the struggle for what is just and right in the Philippines. 

There is something going on in the need to correct the decades of linguistic injustice and cultural oppression in the country.

While the various ethnolinguistic groups are coming to their senses in fighting for their basic right to their languages and cultures--a right that a self-respecting nation should understand fully--some other people who are so comfortable in their fascistic mindsets are telling everyone that the non-Tagalog peoples owe theTagalog people a debt of gratitude for sharing their language to the rest of the nation.

No, this is not historically correct.

When you do not ask for help to live, you do not owe anyone a debt of gratitude.

When a language is imposed, that language owes the people a public confession and must, ask for forgiveness for its sins of commission.

And the sins are many. One of these is the reduction of all these non-Tagalog peoples to illiteracy: to being illiterates in their own languages and cultures.

To make the non-Tagalog peoples guilty of this illusory debt of gratitude is one of the most absurd fascistic claims ever rammed into the throat of a long-suffering non-Tagalog peoples.

This is triumphalism at its worst.


Marked for death, these Christians of Mosul, Iraq.

Marked for death, these Christians of Mosul, Iraq. 

THE NAME is intolerance. 

The name is theocracy of the most absurd kind. It is not about Islam in the real sense of the word, but it is about these intolerant leaders who happen to be Islamist. 

It is not a case of religion here, in the narrow sense of the word, but it is the penchant for a homogenization in much the same way that the Philippines and its leaders would want everyone to speak Tagalog in order to prop up their sense of nation, a sense that is totally wrong.

We are marked for death, each one of us, in a homogenized society, in Mosul and elsewhere, even if the world itself--and the whole of creation for that matter--is veritably plural, diverse, multiple, many.

In Mosul, the Christians are marked for death if they 1. Do not leave, or 2. Do not convert to Islam.

Report has it that those who are physically unable to leave are forced to become Islam. Those who can have the options of finding a life elsewhere.

We have all these around us now, and we need to be stronger to educate ourselves and others so that tolerance becomes a virtue, becomes the principle of living in a human community marked by multiplicity.

Other than this virtue, there in nothing that we can offer to ourselves and to others.


Marked for death, these Christians of Mosul, Iraq.

Marked for death, these Christians of Mosul, Iraq. 

THE NAME is intolerance. 

The name is theocracy of the most absurd kind. It is not about Islam in the real sense of the word, but it is about these intolerant leaders who happen to be Islamist. 

It is not a case of religion here, in the narrow sense of the word, but it is the penchant for a homogenization in much the same way that the Philippines and its leaders would want everyone to speak Tagalog in order to prop up their sense of nation, a sense that is totally wrong.

We are marked for death, each one of us, in a homogenized society, in Mosul and elsewhere, even if the world itself--and the whole of creation for that matter--is veritably plural, diverse, multiple, many.

In Mosul, the Christians are marked for death if they 1. Do not leave, or 2. Do not convert to Islam.

Report has it that those who are physically unable to leave are forced to become Islam. Those who can have the options of finding a life elsewhere.

We have all these around us now, and we need to be stronger to educate ourselves and others so that tolerance becomes a virtue, becomes the principle of living in a human community marked by multiplicity.

Other than this virtue, there in nothing that we can offer to ourselves and to others.


Vinegar for the thirsty.

Vinegar for the thirsty. 

THERE IS A LOT of things to be worried about in the Philippines. 

One: the president of the republic seems unable to understand that DAP, whatever is the good intention of his office is, is not the way to go. 

Two: there is no clear accounting where the funds went for this DAP thing, and unless there is transparency in its disbursement, expenditure, and public accounting (do we believe the public accountants employed by the supposedly independent COA?), questions will remain, and both the DBM and the Office of the President must come up with a univocal language that explains in full where these monies went.

Three: the reported abuse and misuse of funds is becoming rampant, a commonplace in a country that is wanting for some crumbs for basic services.

Four: while the political leaders wallow in wealth and abundance of public money, the led do not have access to the same things except through a mistaken sense of hitting the jackpot in the lottery, with millions and millions at their disposal as soon as they hit right the winning combination of illusion and desperation. [One can see here, for instance, that reported jacked-up price of the parking lot in Makati and we can only nauseate. We have parking lots for those with cars--and the cost in billions!--and we do not decent housing for the poor!]

Fifth: legislation has gone kaput, with no significant law passed to address the 'normalized' social inequity in the country. What we have got are some semblances of the law that border on charity (paging DSWD!) and exhibition (paging DPWH) and more charity (paging DOH). [We see lots of pictures in the giving out of two kilos of rice, and infrastructure complete, and the sick attended to, and we know we are being taken for a ride.]

Everywhere we go, the best test of the democratized despair of our people is the airport. Go there and ask those people who are going away.

Ask them why they are leaving the Philippines.

Ask the mothers with young children why they are going to Singapore or Hongkong and there expect to be paid P10T per month plus an overdose of abuse from their employers.

Ask the rice farmers who have to deal with the high of farm inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and all other fancy things one has to use to poison the freshwater system of the fields, and thereby poisoning as well the fish and other things that could have given so much protein to the already protein-deprived people.

The last time my students and I checked, farming is a losing proposition in the Philippines, with so much of the price per kilo of rice for covering the cost of production. Ceteris paribus, practically nothing is left with the food producers, and hence, the usual thousands of metric tons of imports from somewhere else under the guise of food security and that duty of feeding the citizens with imported rice.

Next time around, the OFWs and the farmers and all the poor people should discover the creative power of their rage so that this country will never be the same again.

No, it is not national language and nationalism that will solve our problem; this one is the most expensive lie we have ever sold to our people.

Our people are thirsty for truth, for goodness, for beauty.

Now, let us give them vinegar.


Lessons for those advocating a 'national language' at the expense of diversity and other languages of a diverse nation: 'It's a beautiful day and I cannot see it!'

Lessons for those advocating a 'national language' at the expense of diversity and other languages of a diverse nation: 'It's a beautiful day and I cannot see it!' 

THIS VIDEO LEFT ME thinking hard about the conditions of our national polity and its insistence on one and only one way of seeing the beautiful day revealed to the various nations of the Philippines.

It is about a man, speaking in a language I cannot decipher, but suggesting that he is blind, and thus, unable to even write, 'Hey, I am blind, would you care to drop a penny, please, to make me survive?'

And one cardboard--did he write this?--says: 'I am blind, please help.'

No one cared.

True, there is that univocal, pauper's language, declaring his unenviable condition of blindness.

True, he sat on those cardboard boxes, using them as his carpet in his quest for a dime or a cent of a quarter.

True, the cardboard boxes indicate his condition and the cardboard life he has, one cardboard ever-ready to shield him from the sun, or rain, or snow when the days becomes less kinder.

And then a lady comes around, writes this line and the world of the blind man changed drastically for the better, with more and more pennies being dropped by passers-by.

'It's a beautiful day and I cannot see it!' says the writing on the cardboard.

Did that lady know that language (1) reveals the world for all those who want to see and understand, and (2) solves the problems of mankind, and peoples, and societies, and communities?

When one imposes a fascistic national language, one imposes as true, good, and beautiful the condition of blindness, and not knowing how to re-articulate that existential condition results in the apathy of passers-by.

But when one knows how to frame, in epistemically new form as mediated by language our terrible human condition, something could come off miraculously, and people begin to see things different.

Indeed, we need a new language to see world.

Indeed, we need a different language to understand better.

Indeed, a homogenized life in a country that is as diverse as the colors of the rainbow is the worst act we commit against a people seeking freedom, meaning, sense, relevance, and the good life.


Thinking on our feet and the issue of a fascistic 'national language'.

Thinking on our feet and the issue of a fascistic 'national language'.

LET THE OFFICE of the President and the Department of Budget bring out all those records that talk about how the DAP monies were spent and let us see if P-Noy is thinking on his feet. 

That seems to be his argument now: that his sense of the executive, quoting Mabini, that has that capacity to think on its feet.

What P-Noy intentionally missed in that argument is that even in the act of thinking on our feet, we are still bound by law to follow its requirements.

The imposition a fascistic 'national language' is not--never--an act of thinking on our feet.

We read only the intentions of those who did this abominable act, from Quezon and the rest of them, and we realize that we have been hoodwinked all along.

Read the Proceedings of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention, yes, that convention that produced the 1935 Constitution, and we get a glimpse of the maneuverings that happened.

In at least two of the Inquirer columns of Vicente Albano Pacis on the language provisions, he called this act of thinking on its feet 'criminal'.

Education in one's own language is fundamental.

It is a fundamental human right.

It is also fundamental to use one's own language and not an imposed national language.

Now, we ask: are these 'othered nations' in the Philippine Republic now given the right to 'think on their feet' as well?

Or, is the definition of P-Noy of 'thinking on one's feet' applies only when it serves him and his purposes and his rationalizing?


Violence democratized.

Violence democratized. 

IN THIS THEATRE of the most absurd at this time, we have a catalogue of murder and mayhem in the name of nation, community, people, and the human and humane. 

We have killed 298 people because of a nation, or the interest of nations. We have the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 and we have lives, beautiful and promising, now wasted, turning to dust for nothing.

We continue to slaughter Palestinians in the name of getting even with what atrocity they have done against the Israelites. The number of the dead Palestinians is increasing, and today, the list has tipped 502.

And we continue to witness the death of Israelites too, at 18 the latest, many of these soldiers fighting a war that probably they do not also fully understand. But what can one do when even at the early grades when in the act of publicly forming the consciousness of citizens the enemy has been concretely identified and demonized, and thus, must be sacrificed in the altar of a nation, a country, a homeland. This is Israel's act, as well as Palestine's, in the continuing demonization of each other even among the ranks of their young, soldiers or no soldiers, rebels or no rebels.

We ask the same thing from the Palestinians, who, lacking an army and a navy and an airforce have unwittingly used civilians as their shield, and thus, sacrificing children, women, and men in the process.

Everywhere we look, it is the same: this violence in our midst, this violence in the everyday, this everyday violence.

From Ukraine to Sudan to other parts of the unjust world, we have troubles galore, and troubles, sometimes, have no names.

In the Philippines, this violence democratized is both physical and structural.

It is physical in the sense of the continuing criminality, kidnap-for-ransom, and salvaging happening as a 'normal' occurrence.

It is structural in the continuing arrangements of the unjust social structures and institutions that are supposed to guarantee the good life for everyone, with the DAP being used as the reason for anything miraculous, economic development included, but in reality, it is the remittance of people selling soul and spirt to the lowest bidder abroad making the economy afloat, and making it able to post some developments for the wrong reasons.

No, it is not true that we have democratized peace, development, and access to the resources of our respective nations.

No, it is not true that we have democratized care and concern for each other.

No, it is not true that we have democratized the meaning of being human.

What we have democratized is poverty.

What we have democratized is injustice.

What we have democratized is violence.


Unwanted, unfair, unkind. And inhuman too.

Unwanted, unfair, unkind. And inhuman too. 

TO DIE uselessly is the worst form of death. 

How can 295 people be sacrificed in the altar called human freedom when those who called for the death of these people do not know at all the meaning of what they are fighting for? 

It is not a number, this. 

One life lost makes humanity poorer. 

No person should ever be sacrificed in the altar of anything that people are fighting for even if abstractions sometimes lose their sense when tested against the inhumanity of our methods.

Flight 17 of the Malaysian Airlines was doomed in the beginning. Whoever called the shots to shoot it down must be answerable to the every life lost in this tragedy.

The names are coming in and this unfamiliar incident becomes less and less of a strange thing. The logic of association begins to tell the story that should not have happened.

We look at the picture gallery and the objects that go with some of the names lie on the ground ready for picking by the same hands that own them.

But these hands are not longer there, the severance of the owner and the object she owns complete, final, forever.

Apart from the 100 conference participants, AIDS activists all, many others perhaps were dreaming of a good time in Kuala Lumpur, thinking of sipping coconut water straight from the nut.

Or, watching the sun rise from a mountainside.

Or, thinking of a poem while the sun sets in some Malaysian sea somewhere in that vast land.

The Hague is mourning. We hear Amsterdam grieving. The whole of Holland wails.

And we all ought to come to grief.

For ourselves.

Because this world we live in is not kind, as we human beings have refused to learn to be kind.

Or that have stopped becoming kind. 

Impeaching a president.

Impeaching a president. 

THE RUSH to have SB Aquino III impeached is rushed. 

While the whole soap opera of impeachment has become a cottage industry in a banana republic like the Philippines, it is no longer a laughing matter. 

We have issues with this president, like his impossible action in the face of Haiyan, and that unforgettable statement, 'You did not die, right?.'

His is a statement that suggests only callousness, apathy, and ignorance of what is it to be in the middle of a catastrophe and having survived and not be counted as one of the estimated 10,000 plus dead even if his government keeps on denying this, with rotting bodies still being dug up lately, and with overpriced pigsty being passed off as temporary housing for the evacuees.

His callousness on DAP and his stance on the interpretation of the law by the Supreme Court no less is not in keeping with his office.

His taking in people in his Cabinet, people who steal, people who line their pockets, and people who have become opportunists--these are things that he is responsible of, and he must say, 'The buck stops with me.'

He must say that with courage. And boldness. And daring.

He sought the presidency, and therefore, he must pay the people back, the very people who put him there, in that public office. People put him into office because he sought it, and he promised to the deliver the goods of collective life to everyone.

Despite these setbacks, he must continue to govern, and respond to the issues raised by well-meaning people who have put together the first act of impeaching him.

There are opportunists, of course, some quarters whose only work is to keep on bad-mouthing him, and playing up on anything he missed as a reason for impeachment.

In a tongue-in-cheek way, some of these people might be thinking now of having him impeached because at more than 50, an advanced age following the illogic of ageism, he could have been a grandfather and yet he has remained happily and contentedly single.

He must have been a monk, perhaps a Benedictine, a Trappist, a Franciscan Conventual, or a Cistercian in his past life, and so, this holy celibacy is coming back to him, and now, these people who have nothing to do but deny the president his own single blessedness, is to use this as another basis for impeachment.

Ah, holy cow!

Ah, we live in interesting times.

And onli in da Pilipins. 



WE WONDER IF a new country can be ever built upon the ashes of the dead, like this one purportedly wanting to get out of the hold of Ukraine. 

I remember that in the early 90s, when I was a younger kibitzer-in-residence of the University of the Philippines Diliman, I joined the Asian-Pacific Conference on East Timor, or APCET it was, and attended the presentation of the leaders trying to lead their people in getting out of the hold of Indonesia.

The leaders, including Jose Ramos Horta, were a picture of calm, and I was there at the Malcolm Theatre where they presented the real picture of their homeland.

[Of course, these leaders were hidden in a safe house somewhere; the Philippines had a bilateral relations with Indonesia, and President Fidel Ramos did not want to have any direct hand in this solidarity movement gathering steam in the Philippines at that time. So much for international relations, and that delicate dance and calculated moves and PR-quality language one has to deploy so the imaginary masters and partners would not get mad.]

East Timor was once a Portuguese colony, and then when Portugal left to give freedom to the East Timorese, Indonesia grabbed that country so small it could not defend itself at that time.

It looked like the Indonesians were not benevolent colonizers.

It looked like these new colonizers were barbaric, the sense of the term suggesting brutality, cruelty, and oppression.

Every act of colonization, they say, is an act of violence.

By that alone, Indonesia did violence upon a hapless, supposedly newly-freed people, freed from the clutches of Portugal and what Portugal represented. Ah, the land grab of the West that spanned continents and centuries, and these land grabbers are now talking about 'egalite, fraternite, and liberte.' It must be that its Portuguese equivalent of the French mantra is not far off.

Now comes this self-appointed minister of war of the Donetsk People’s Republic, this minister boasting of liberation for the Donetsk people. [Are they not Ukrainian too, these Donetsk people? Or, are they Russians? Or, are there both Ukrainian and Russian, people of the border, people who are beyond borders, people who stride both political and administrative boundaries so that they are both Ukrainian and Russian, and not only one of the labels, and thus, irreducible to an either/or?)

A retired Russian intelligence professional, Igor Girkin, or Igor Strelkov, this last one his nom de guerre, had taken upon himself that the birth of this 'new republic' out of the womb of Ukraine shall come about, with 295 people dead notwithstanding.

Someone took a screen grab of his Facebook, and this Moscovite warrior fighting for the Donetsk Republic of his imagination boasted of shooting down a plane.

That plane is the Malaysia Flight 15.

"We did warn you — do not fly in our sky," he wrote.

What was he thinking?

Girkin or Strelkov, whatever is his name, can help give birth to a new country by murdering nearly 300 people? 

The integral good principle and human action.

The integral good principle and human action. 

FOR THE PRESIDENT of the Philippine Republic to claim, in good faith, that what he does with the DAP is for the good of the people (no, he does not recognize diversity here, so we use that lame collective formula, 'people', and not the more realistic because factual one, 'peoples') and thus, he is right, is to arrogate unto himself and unto his office all the powers of the other branches of government, powers that are defined in a democratic way of life.

Cleary, the 1987 Cory Constitution spells out what this democratic way of life is all about.

If the President has not read this, he should stop playing video games and flip the pages that talk about the check-and-balance mechanism enshrined in that fundamental law of the land. Unless he refers to administrative orders and presidential decrees, that fundamental law stands.

And if there are problems with that law, then have it amended following a democratic process.

Or, do a radical cha-cha.

But spell out the steps to doing that cha-cha, and please, please, involve all the oligarchs it its drafting again, yes? We need to assure the country that the interest of the oligarchs and economic elites will be protected by the social contract.

Make that social contract social only in form but not in substance.

His mother's regime of euphoria and vendetta and coups d' etat gave us brown-outs and blackouts and skyrocketing prices of the basics of living a simple life marked by galunggong in the morning, galunggong at noon, and galunggong at night.

His mother promised that galunggong would remain within the purchasing power of the galunggong-fed people. Of course, this did not happen.

She promised social justice. Of course, she gave back the means to have the oligarchs become oligarchs again after being deprived of their oligarchic life during the Marcos regime. Well, Marcos had a different set of oligarchs, one of them related to her.

It was happy hour again for them, these economic elites. She danced with the oligarchs, his mother, and made it sure that these oligarchs would come back bigger and more entrenched the second time around.

She promised access to the resources of the country, and she kept the Hacienda Luisita to her family, and to this day, that bastion of 'señor/señora/señorito' mentality has remained with the Conjuangcos, the hocus-pocus of stock distribution included.

The son, riding on his mother's death and the nostalgia of the masses of EDSA People Power I, gained reentry to the palace by the murky river where he was once a brat of a president's son.

Or, a well-served señorito de camote.

And now, he is president, and vowing to make this country great again like the promise of one dictator everyone called benevolent but had blood in his hands, like Enrile, like Ver, like Ramos.

Or Honasan and company, of the Enrile Protege from the PMA, Incorporated.

The stance of this president is dogmatic, at the very least. Was he a reincarnation of the pope in the Dark Ages during the time of the bubonic plague?

That stance is not farther away from that prelude to 'Anathema sit.'

It is: 'Roma locuta est.' Rome has spoken, Rome has said so.

Translated in Malacañan terms: P-Noy has said so.

And Abad too!

Thus, you must believe, you must follow, you must regard it as right even if you are the Supreme Court of collective reason or the Supreme Court of rationality in an irrational land.

This president must have taken some credits in moral theology at the Ateneo, and must have known--or, did he miss class at that time?--about the nature of human action, and the culpability assigned to the moral actor.

There is such a thing as the principle of integral good, to wit, 'Bonum ex integra causa malum ex cucumque defectu.'

Let us do a free translation for him, for this president: 'For a good to be good, it must be entire good. Any defect would vitiate its goodness.'

Now, now, tell us, Mr President of the limits of your good intention.

Hitler had good intentions for his Nazi-ized people.

Dictators, Philippine-born or North Korean, have good intentions for their people.

Now, tell us again about your good intentions.

Remember, honorable Sire, that we have good intentions too when we criticize your good intentions.


Do not tie a yellow ribbon. REV.

Do not tie a yellow ribbon.
THE PROMISE OF redemption had its text in an encrypted line of a song that many people burdened with the weight of the conjugal dictatorship understood, the same people who had some sense of what was happening in the Philippines during the dark days of Martial Law that promised nothing but greatness in that slogan called 'New Society.'
That was, of course, a New Society for the oligarch, for the plutocrats.
By the end of those 'days of disquiet' and 'nights of rage' (to borrow from Pete Lacaba), many understood what was hidden beneath those words, the song with its baritone of regret and bossa nova beat resembling the pleadings of fly-by-night missionaries converting us to become God's children, the drama of the Holy Spirit coming down upon us happening in theatres, public plazas, street corners, buses, and jeepneys.
The fly-by-night missioners were better believers than us, their voice certain and confident of the coming of the redeemer, their singing and shouting rising above what we can sing and shout.
There is veiled vainglory in their repetition of 'Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!'
And then, of course, was the response of the herd who could not think why the oppressor has become like him, one who looks like him, one whose skin color is the same as his.
The soldiers stopped soldiering for the people: they soldiered for their big bosses, the presently imprisoned Enrile included.
That was a resistance song, this 'So tie a yellow ribbon down the old oak tree, if you still want me...'
And we would sing this, in rallies and in other clandestine gatherings, in public places and in private ones, the private ones tucked away from the intelligence gathering power of the new graduates of the Philippine Military Academy.
And even if my dean at that time, Dr Carmen Kanapi (the sister of a Kanapi general from Cagayan), echoing my rector's admonition, Father Norberto Castillo, yes, the Dominican from that same town where the First Lady came from) forbade us from joining the 'resistance' at the EDSA, we went there nevertheless.
We marched with a number of activists, some of them naturalized Filipino Dominicans the likes of Father Fausto Gomez (formerly a Spaniard) and former rector Father Frederik Fermin (a former Dutch citizen and an ambassador).
So tie a yellow ribbon, said the father who would be assassinated at the tarmac, and we did not have any other options except to tie yellow ribbons.
At his death in 1983, we thought salvation would come. I am referring to Ninoy.
But five presidents after, we still have the same problems as before, and our life has not changed a bit.
At a dialogue in Malacañan to follow the script of a PR agency tasked to make the president smelling like Lysol again, the president of PMAP asked: What do you want us to do to help you?
P-Noy replied: “Perhaps wearing our yellow ribbons, amongst other things, just to demonstrate exactly in a quick manner where the sentiments of our people lie.”
Do not tie yellow ribbons so this president will come to know that his presidency is in the abyss of uselessness and that he has not served his 'bosses' and that the only thing he has done so far is flatter the poor, flatter the miserable, flatter the wretched.
His request is void of historical reference, has no allusion to anything grand, has no connection to the dream of freedom of the peoples of the Philippines.
That ribbon will only mean saving his own thick Aquino skin.
So, no.

'Rotten to the core.'

'Rotten to the core.' 

In two weeks, President Aquino will come up with a recital of the good things his administration has done during his four years of office. 

I remember that at one point in his earlier State of the Nation, I was there at the Commonwealth Avenue (or is it Marcos Avenue now?) and there, alongside the Leftist groups of all kinds, saw Mar Roxas doing the police trafficking work.

Yes, the wannabe president was on the road, and not in expensive barong or americana like the others who always regarded each SONA afternoon as some kind of a party to parade the best gown or the best suit. He was in his jeans and shirt, doing a delicate dance of trafficking men and metal with an engine, and enjoying the experience of having people gawk at him as if he were Exhibit 101. Was this the precursor to his giving away checks of one million to mayors in the Haiyan-stricken Eastern Visayas years after?

At the SONA, the men's clothing is always bland and predictable, like a burger from any of the food chains that have all conditioned us to eat the same thing, and called it God's blessings even if this has been manufactured courtesy of the capitalist ogling for the fastest profit. The women's, oh, theirs are always a delight, and each SONA afternoon turns into a fashion show. The fashion designers of a wretched land could not be happier.

He will give the SONA at the appointed time, and he will praise men and women, and he will not own up the problems of the land. He will sweep it under the rug all our troubles, preferring to talk about development from the DAP, which is not the case. Some socially-oriented economists have shown that the economic development came from the sustained inflow of dollar remittances courtesy of OFWs, and I swear to God, financial infusions from some 12M people now living abroad because the homeland has stopped becoming a kind home.

Neal Cruz, in his column at the Inquirer on July 14, said of the real state of the antion: "I think the people already know the real state of the nation: it is rotten to the core. For years, almost all government officials—from presidents to members of Congress to members of the Cabinet and their subordinates, to the local government officials down to the barangay captains—have been feasting on the people’s money like predators feasting on the carcass of their hapless prey."

Now, we will see what else is to be said by the president of the land.


Singapore burns books.

Singapore burns books. 

SOMEWHERE, bigotry is the norm. Singapore's latest adventure on clamping down the perceived 'abnormality' of alternative families is an example. 

Satish Cheney's account of the 'pulping' of three books with a gay them and thus, 'go(ing) against Singapore's family values' speaks of the life of books, the life of peoples, the life of communities, and our life in the mind.

A country of 5.4M people steeped in diversity and awash with worldly goods, Singapore has become a moral police too despite the fact that its people has called for tolerance, an attitude of openness to human possibilities and realities.

The books in question are 'And Tango Makes Three,' 'The White Swan Express: A Story about Adoption,' and Who's in My Family: All About Our Families.'

'Tango' is about a male penguin couple in a zoo, 'White Swan' about a lesbian couple, and 'Who's in My Family' is about the evolving nature of family and who are considered family beyond the biological.

The Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim justified the incoming burning of the books this way: 'The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of the Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, nontraditional families, which is what the books in question are about.'

An author, Donald Low, ('Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus'), responds to Minister Ibrahim and says: 'I see no evidence of a significant segment of Singapore society objecting to these books being our public libraries, even if the majority of Singaporeans are conservative.'

Ah, this struggle for the good life is a struggle for the good life everywhere, with or without conservatives around.


Self-determination, Hawaiian sovereignty, and the Philippine-Americans.

Self-determination, Hawaiian sovereignty, and the Philippine-Americans.

THIS HAS BEEN going around for many years, and this desire of the native Hawaiian for self-determination is gaining traction. 

The Feds are into it now, and seriously paying attention to what the Hawaiians want, desire, dream of, and envision for their land and people. 

The foreigners in Hawaii, like the many Ilokanos that have come here, sense a changing landscape, the contour of government perhaps changing as well in the coming years.

When the 'social' has gone passe, and the 'cultural' makes more sense.

The culture of the Hawaiian will provide sense to the vision of a free Hawaii, a Hawaii of whatever form it will take in relation to the larger body politic we call the United States of America.

That culture will determine the kind of country and homeland the Hawaiian people would like to have.

In the era of diversity, as is the case of Hawaii even before the occupation, Hawaii, it seems, will welcome diversity as its political and cultural resource. This diversity will mark it as a welcoming homeland for all peoples of the world.

For many immigrants with new political identities, there will be questions, but that is secondary now.

We will cross the bridge when we get there.


Bona fides, mala fides.

Bona fides, mala fides. 

GOOD FAITH IS GOOD faith anywhere you go. 

This does not change. 

It is a concept that ought to be made stable in arguing for what the older generation would call 'good manners and right conduct'. 

Of course, with Cory Aquino and Lourdes Quisumbing at the helm of government and its educational infrastructure in the days of 'we-won-we-won' euphoria when the past and what it represented was demonized to the full, and the the EDSA People Power II victors (minus the millions who fought, but millions who were nameless) got to have an a-go-go feeling good self-congratulatory stance, good faith was bastardized and it meant 'values education' for millions of students in basic education, the values education requiring students to memorize the essentials of citizenship, the education of the young a propaganda for hyper-valuing what EDSA stands for.

Good faith eventually became personal.

Good faith eventually became a privilege.

Good faith also became that event of 'receiving' a divine message that instructs people of 'good faith' to run as senators or congressmen.

And when the icon of the yellow revolution dies, these people run for office again, someone the highest office, to continue the legacy of the People Power.

You have a TV sister to campaign for you, go.

You have a hyper-valued father whose mass-produced memory of greatness you can always run to for support, go.

You have a rosary-reciting mother who is the icon of freedom to stand beside you, in death as in the memory of that death, go.

We can always use good faith to justify anything in much the same way that Lucifer, yes, that light-bearer-turned-lord-of-darkness can always use the Bible to justify his wrong-doing.

But let us go back: good faith is good faith wherever we are: "honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person or to fulfill a promise to act, even when some legal technicality is not fulfilled". [Legal Dictionary, retrieved 11 Jul 2014]

The recourse to ignorance--to not knowing about something especially when you are supposed to know--does not make your act moral, or legal, or both. Ignorance of the law does not exempt one from his responsibility.

And this: you cannot use ignorance of the law as an excuse for good faith.

Intentions are situated. Always. And historically conditioned, contextualized.

Here is for the defenders of DAP: listen up. More than half of the Philippine population is wallowing in poverty, ladies and gentlemen.

And by the way, the Philippines did not post economic development because of this disbursement of billions of government funds.

Its economy moves and keeps on moving because of OFW remittances. This is our export now: the export of warm bodies, dignity, strength, sweat, parental absence, family dysfunction.

Good luck, Felipenas!