The traffic stop

I just woke up from a bad dream.

We were all preparing for an out of town trip. I can’t recall where we were all headed but everyone was there. My aunts, my uncles, my cousins. We were all busy packing our clothes into our bags when the cabs which were supposed to us to the airport arrived at where we were.

My aunts, uncles and cousins hopped on to the first vehicle, which looked like a minivan. And they left. My brother, his wife, and his son rode the next vehicle. Along with their clothes and other necessities, they had to bring a lot of the toys of the little man.

Papa and Mama were next. But before they could ride the cab, Papa was looking for his tablet, which he needed with him (oddly though my dad does not use a tablet in real life). After we found it somewhere in the house, my wife and I helped him and my mom load their things on to the car, and then saw them leave for the airport. Continue reading

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The Election (circus) is in town

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.
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.

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

2015: Thoughts on family, life and moving forward

Fog cover the town of Banaue as viewed from the Viewpoint.
Fog covers the town of Banaue as viewed from the Viewpoint. The rice terraces are still visible in the foreground.

2015 was not an easy year. Unlike previous years which presented only their fair share of challenges and difficulties but leaves the order of your life relatively unscathed, this one changed mine a lot. And while I do know that I do not have the monopoly of melancholy and grief, I would say that that the year brought changes unsurprisingly and early on.

Just a few days after I celebrated my 35th birthday in February, I lost my only sister to pneumonia before I was even able to see her for one last time in Davao City. A few months prior to her leaving, we had a long conversation on her having lymphoma and how she was able to look for solutions and was determined to see things through.

Confident, we thought that Stage 2 was something she can deal with easily. Contrary to our expectations though, it was the complications which pulled her down and slowly sapped her life away. 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.

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Between journalism and journalism

“First step in solving any problem, is recognizing there is one.” – Will McAvoy

Short as this line maybe, but it has stuck with me since I first watched The Newsroom. And although I might be watching the season finale in a few hours, I think this line will stay with me long after the series’s first season is done.

I must be honest though, I was not among those who waited for the season premier. And this was due to the words of critics who were not impressed with the first episode. But I decided to watch it anyway and that’s where I got hooked.

I’ve had my share of Sorkin films and series since then. A Few Good Men inspired me (partly) to go into law school. I tried to watch the West Wing as much as I could. And of course, Charlie Wilson’s War will always be my quick recommendation to someone who’s still in the dark as to how the American government saved and nourished Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Newsroom is Sorkin’s indictment of the prevailing state of journalism or the lack of it. In the series he tried attacking how the newsrooms succumbed to the pressure exerted by ratings wars, management intrusions, and bastardization of editorial independence. He also tried to differentiate between journalism and journalism.

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Devouring languages

A few days ago, I posted a story from Al Jazeera on endangered languages in the Philippines and I still can’t get  it off my head. A couple of weeks before that I was in a meeting where during the break, there was a discussion on how the Ilocano or Iloko language was slowly eating up non-Ilocano-speaking areas in some parts of Luzon. One of those present said that areas in Pangasinan which then predominantly spoke Pangasinense, were now speaking Ilocano. While he spoke Ilocano, he regretted that he has lost his knowledge of Pangasinense, which he knew back then as a child.

This phenomenon of widely-used or more popular languages eating up community-based languages is not actually new in the Philippines. But it is only recently that the dangers posed by this phenomenon to local languages are seen and taken into account by the national government. Back then, the emphasis was more on having a single common language called Filipino – which in reality was Tagalog, with supposedly some words from the other major languages.

Reality though was very different. In the enforcement of Filipino, the other major languages were ridiculed by some who come from Manila as German, Greek or Latin. Cebuano was viewed as the language of the house maid or the uncivilized. The singsong tune of the Bacolod Hiligaynon was joked at quite often. And the accents that Filipinos coming from different regions trying to speak “Filipino” had, would be the subject of scrutiny by native Tagalog speakers in the national capital and its neighboring provinces. The idea of a single Filipino language had become a tool of oppression of other Filipino languages. Continue reading

Thank you America! – from a Filipino who grew up in neocolonial Philippines.

I grew up to a Philippines which was Filipino on the outside but American on the inside. How Filipinos then thought of themselves can best be described by paraphrasing a line from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, that inside every Filipino, there’s an American trying to get out. Yes, the country was like that.

Back then, if one opened the television set, majority of the programs would be syndicated shows from the US which were presented in English, the advertisements were in English and even the newscasts by Filipino anchors of Philippine news was in English. Everything which came from the states was considered top of the line, the best, sought for, a must have.

Of course, it was not difficult to see why. It was the middle of the Cold War and the country, being a former US colony, was locked in step with the US in both its cultural and military offensive against communism and its agents. The country also had two of the biggest US military bases outside the United States with several smaller facilities maintained in other parts of the country. The war against student activists, farmers, teachers, community organizers and labor leaders was in full swing, being that Marcos’ Bagong Lipunan was an ally in the global war against communism.

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