Category Archives: Philippines

My native land

Supporters of PDP Laban candidate for President Rodrigo Duterte and Nationalista Party candidate for Vice President Alan Peter Cayetano await the arrival of the tandem at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Both were invited to CNN Philippines's Town Hall. Photo by KIM Quilinguing.

The Election (circus) is in town

Election season in the Philippines is often described by many to be akin to a circus. With all the colorful campaign paraphernalia, the flamboyant attire of candidates and supporters going about earning the confidence of voters, and all the lively exchanges between political bets on the media, one can easily gather an assessment of vibrant atmosphere the country and its people often find themselves every three years.

While it is difficult to find fault on which group is responsible for the sad state that politics, particularly the elections, have become in the country, how it is now perceived by the average Filipino, as being rowdy, full of hypocrisy, and even as a source of amusement, is shaped by how it is seen on television, reported on the radio and written on the newspapers. Continue reading


Social Media and Philippine Politics

The Increased Synergy of Two Platforms in the 2016 Elections

Internet connection speeds in the Philippines remain one of the slowest in Asia. This limitation however has not stopped Filipinos from using the web and maximizing their use of the applications and service available online.

In the recently concluded 2016 national and local elections, social media platforms were again used by candidates, political parties and interests groups with political, social and economic agenda. The intensity of use however significantly differed from the two previous electoral exercises. Continue reading

The glory of saving a country is not for him who has contributed to its ruin. You have believed that what crime and iniquity have defiled and deformed, another crime and another iniquity can purify and redeem. Wrong! Hate never produces anything but monsters and crime criminals! Love alone realizes wonderful works, virtue alone can save! No, if our country has ever to be free, it will not be through vice and crime, it will not be so by corrupting its sons, deceiving some and bribing others, no! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice, and sacrifice love!

Padre Florentino to Simoun. Jose Rizal, El Filibusterismo

Reflections on media killings

A member of the police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) prepares to process the scene of the Maguindanao Massacre in November 2009. Photo from Japan Times (Photo from

A member of the police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) prepares for processing the scene of the Maguindanao Massacre in November 2009. Photo from Japan Times.

Growing up with a journalist father has always given me an idea of how risky the profession has been, particularly in the regional or local areas, where political and commercial interests hold sway over how journalists conduct themselves.

Despite those interests, I have also seen my father pursuing stories which he viewed to be necessary for the public good and for the creation of a more just and equitable society. And it was by his example that when I eventually went into journalism where dedication to ferreting out the truth and exerting efforts to balance stories became important aspects in the conduct of the profession.

Still my idealism then, when I went into the profession, was tempered by the reality that journalists in the country can easily be killed. And no amount of beautiful epithets or eulogies can bring back the lives of journalists murdered because of their devotion to revealing the truth. Continue reading

For a cup of coffee

I “met” Atty. Connie Brizuela in 2006 after Atty. Bev’s Musni (or Nanay as how we fondly call her) gave her my number. Atty. Connie and Nanay are both well-known human rights lawyers.

I was a TV news reporter back then and I had been assigned to cover the people’s organizations, cause-oriented groups and non-government organizations in Northern Mindanao. But I was suddenly re-assigned to the Central Visayas station in Mandaue City, Cebu.

As it was with Nanay, Atty. Connie and I would exchange text message on days celebrating Philippine Independence, Andres Bonifacio’s heroism and Rizal’s death at Bagumbayan. We would exchange messages examining our sense of nationalism, freedom and service to the people.

We would often talk about having coffee if I’d find myself in Cotabato or if she’d be in Cebu or CDO. But November 23, 2009 happened and when I saw the news reports on the victims, I found her name among them. At first I could not believe it, but friends would later tell me that she was among those mercilessly murdered.

I enclose the word met in quotation marks above because despite our exchanges of text messages for a length of time, Atty. Connie and I were never really able to have that cup of coffee we always talked about. And we will never have it now.

It’s been four years since that fateful day. But not much has happened. Some witnesses have been turned, killed or disappeared. Some families are already getting weary of the slow movement of the case. Still justice remains elusive.

May we never forget the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. May we never forget that impunity still reigns in the country. Justice for the 58! Justice for the victims of impunity in this country!

Cop and MNLF guerilla lay down arms briefly for dialogue to free hostages

Although they were held hostage briefly, (Merceditas Hasinon’s) story stands out among the thousands of narratives this eight day standoff has spawned because of what the policeman and the MNLF guerrilla did: the combatants who talked “walang armas-armas” demonstrated that civilian hostages need not be collateral damage in war, that in life-and-death situations, dialogue can save lives. – Carolyn Arguillas, MindaNews

Interesting and inspiring story in the midst of the conflict raging in Zamboanga City, Philippines.

For those who are not familiar with what’s happened there, a renegade group from the former Moro National Liberation Army has occupied some areas of the city by force. And they have held several hostages over the past week.

The Moro National Liberation Front used to be one, if not the biggest secessionist group in the Philippines, fighting for independence of Mindanao and advancement of Muslim rights. They would later sign a peace deal with the government, ending almost three decades of armed struggle.

In recent days, several hostages have escaped or were surrendered by the rebels to government forces. This story from MindaNews, is a narrative of how a guerrilla fighter and a policeman, momentarily put their weapons down, and discussed the release of hostages.

Makes you feel good that there are still a few people, both in the government and the secessionist group, who believe that civilian lives should not be endangered by the their armed confrontation.

Philippine rebels take hundreds hostage

At least 200 people have been taken hostage in southern Philippines after rebels rampaged through coastal communities, leaving at least six people dead, local news reports say. The fighting happened after troops backed by tanks blocked Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels from marching into Zamboanga city to raise their flag at a city hall, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said on Monday. Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports.

This happened earlier. And the result has been a stand-off  in several areas in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

The Moro National Liberation Front used to be the biggest secessionist group in the country, supported with arms and training by Libya and Malaysia. And it posed a serious threat to internal security of the country. In 1996, the MNLF signed a peace agreement  with the Ramos administration, supposedly ending its armed struggle.

The MNLF though was not without flaws as internal struggles resulted to several factions, one of which is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Recently, the Philippine government finalized a peace agreement with the MILF, a move which angered some leaders of the MNLF.

The MNLF attack on Zamboanga City launched today, comes a day before the resumption of another round of peace talks  between the government and MILF – an indication of the older movement’s desire for the Aquino administration’s attention.