Category Archives: Thoughts

Remembering a teacher; reflecting on life

Earlier today I read updates from friends on Facebook about the passing of one of the old teachers from my grade school years. And it came as a surprise, being that I have not really heard much about him recently, except for an exhibit by philatelists in SM City Cagayan de Oro.

Mr. Rene Abella was one of the well-known campus figures during my time in Xavier University Grade School. He handled one of the sixth-grade classes and he usually coached the science category team of the school in quiz bee competitions. He was also very active when it comes to exhibits for science investigatory projects. And he also coached the grade school’s swim team. Continue reading

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 http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/23/asia-pacific/crime-legal-asia-pacific/old-wounds-still-fester-anniversary-philippines-worst-massacre/#.VWO4rE-qqkp)

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

Traveling: An exercise in vulnerability and humility

Mother and Son making the transfer from Bantayan Island to mainland Cebu. March 2014.

Mother and Son making the transfer from Bantayan Island to mainland Cebu. March 2014.

I started the Holidays with a quote from Gustave Flaubert where he said “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Flaubert’s words speak the truth, particularly on humility. And the thought of that quote has stuck with me over the past few days.

It is true what Flaubert wrote. Travel does make one humble. And it is not merely because you are surrounded by multitudes and swimming in a sea of strangers, but it is more of the experience of having your life, rather the control of your life placed onto the hands of others.

While it may not be apparent on the journey but traveling does entail vulnerability. Vulnerability to the shifting schedules of trips, flights, changes in the weather and landscape, and even in the unpredictable attitudes of drivers, conductors, cashiers, ticketing persons, travel mates and guides. All these things are more or less beyond your control as a traveler. But you go along with it. You go along because you know that it is a part of the experience. You go along because it is part of the adventure. You go along because it makes your travel experience unique, rich and memorable. 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!

To Wish Impossible Things

It was the hope of all we might have been
That fills me with the hope
To wish impossible things

This song, though dating to years back, seems to speak truth for weary souls whose idealism were dashed by unexpected glaring realities. Yes, I know it is a love song for someone, but can it not also speak for other kinds of love as well?

Independence

The Philippines celebrated its 115th Independence Day last June 12. And as expected, there were the usual pronouncements of doubt and mockery whether country was really free or not. Some even went on to entertain revisionist views on the actual date of independence saying that the date is meaningless since the country was only left on its own by the Americans on July 4, 1946.

As someone old enough to have lived at a time when the two biggest  American military bases outside the United States were in the country, I find it both odd and funny, that the question on the country’s independence are being noisily raised online by those born after the US bases were booted out of the country.

While I cannot blame these younger Filipinos’ having a revisionist view of history, I cannot understand why they are capable of raising issues on the independence day’s verity and yet they are incapable of understanding the significance of June 12 in the continuing struggle for the country’s independence.

I am of the opinion that those who constantly raise the question whether the country today is independent or not are under the influence of those who fail to understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by those who died in the battles against the Spanish, the Americans, the Japanese and even against fellow Filipinos belonging to various sides of political persuasions. And I do think that those who latch on to this view relied only on the perspective of their cynical Philippine history teachers without even trying to understand the country’s history on their own.

A country’s independence day is remembered because it was the day when the people of that territory declared themselves free from oppression of a foreign power. It is a characteristic of state which is reserved only for colonized, enslaved or oppressed nations. But more often than not, that day of declaration of independence marks not the end of the struggle for freedom, but only the beginning. As such it is misleading, as it is wrong to view independence day as the day when freedom from oppression was achieved. Continue reading

Family, Distance and Faith

The family on New Year’s Eve.

In less than 24 hours, I will be leaving Cagayan de Oro again to return to Quezon City, where my field of expertise reaps compensation more proportionate to its weight than what I would be offered if I choose to make a living of my skills in the city of my birth.

It is never easy leaving your family for several months. Especially if you belong to a family like mine which is small and closely-knit – with members meeting everytime one has a cause for celebration.

In my own direct family, my siblings, as well as my father, have professions which require them to travel to different parts of this 7,107 archipelago. Unlike them though, I do not have the capability to go home on weekends.

But the lives we lead are the result of our decisions. And the profession I have found myself in, is the result of my own choices in my earlier employments and my own desires. It is for these causes that I must bear the burden of being distanced from my family.

While my travails are not exactly the same as those of overseas migrant Filipino workers, I do know how it feels to be away from your family for the greater part of the year. I do know how helpless one feels when seeing news reports of a weather phenomenon hitting your hometown yet you are far from your family. I do know how difficult it is to let go of thinking about your parents when they are rushed to the hospital and you can’t be there with them as they try to recover from what struck them. Continue reading