Of Fireworks and Past Ills

(Came out in the MP 26th January 2014. Yes, I’m a federalist)

Of Fireworks and Past Ills

Driving away the evil spirits of the past year: this basic impulse forms the foundation of the tradition of fireworks every Chinese New Year. According to Chinese legend, a monster named Nian would emerge once, at the beginning of each lunar year, to wreak havoc. To drive this beast away people would paint the town red and cause noise by lighting fireworks.  While the mythological meaning is lost to us today, the impulse of driving away the ills of the past year remain.

The same impulse, it can be argued, is behind the western tradition of New Year’s resolutions – the idea of starting  each year anew it seems is universal.

And this is a rare case of a symbolic, almost ritualistic act retaining its practical purpose, for 2013 had a lot of old devils that we now need to ward off as we meet the new year.

 In our country and in our localities, problems still haunt us and it’s high time we stuff a superlolo down these problem’s throats.

The pork issue. Last year this decades long problem with the congressional allotment, mired as it already is with allegations of its use as a means for the Executive to control congressmen, reared another one of its hideous heads in the form of Napoles-gate. To the jubilation of militant groups, who have been lobbying for the abolition of congressional pork, the High Court ruled it as unconstitutional this year. We thus begin our first pork-free fiscal year in 2014, although there are still lingering issues on the remaining executive lump funds. A Valentine’s, Lenten, or perhaps Halloween plapla (do they light fireworks during those days?) to drive away this remaining problem might be expected.

Yolanda. Tacloban has been able to resume systems by now, but the reconstruction efforts are still just beginning. If any progress in dispelling the lingering devastation of the storm is to be achieved political bickering will not be of help. And the issue ultimately casts our disaster-preparedness, both systematically and societally, something we cannot go on ignoring if we don’t want to be storm-surge flotsam again.

Enrile. Okay, I’m not saying he’s a problem personally, but rumours about his misdeeds have been the staple of Philippine politics since the Marcos Regime. 2013 saw it resurface again with Miriam Santiago’s long list of accusations delivered on the Senate floor. For his own good, as well as for others, it is high time Enrile’s closet be opened to see if there are skeletons. Of course in every attempt at slaying dragons there’s a hero bound to emerge. Politically speaking, if Noynoy can met Enrile with condign punishment in the event that the old man is proven guilty by the DOJ and the SC, he’ll emerge as the next big thing of Philippine politics, because Enrile, by now an institution with all his barnacles, will be the final obstacle on the road to apotheosis.

Rice smuggling. Again, a decades-old problem gripped the Philippine attention in 2013 when, among other episodes, Customs officials approached Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte to seek help in tackling a rice smuggling goliath named David Tan. As in Napoles-gate, it takes a name to make an issue hot, and in this case David Tan was the name which stole billions of earning opportunities from local farmers. But the true identity of this rice lord, as of the writing of this article, remains uncertain.

In my second hometown of Davao at least we will be driving away bad spirits traditionally. Digong, in his typical f-you CHR flamboyance, vowed to paint the streets an auspicious red with the blood of rice smugglers. Even the CHR’s complaining sounds like part of the orchestrated noise to call attention to the serious issue.

And Digong reveals a greater monster we have to watusi: the poor enforcement of National law. Davao has recently leveled up the enforcement of the DPWH’s prescribed speed limits along highways, and not even former mayor Inday, Digong’s daughter, could escape being ticketed. Our local governments, it seems, are sporadically doing better than the national government. If we are to begin on the road to progress this year, we need to stop thinking top-down and begin acting bottom-up.

And as such I can only support NegOr Governor Degamo’s drive to make the province less reliable on the National government.

Indeed over here in Sidlakan our local governments are starting the year by dispelling idleness and prolonged conflicts with action. After years of delay construction of the Provincial Hospital’s Center Block once again resumed. Similarly, several former NPA members have deserted their pointless cause and were earlier this month given assistance by the provincial government. Light to guide us for tomorrow: but let us heed Jacinto’s old advice and not mistake sparkle for illumination.

 And we must remember this as we meet a new year: fireworks are flashy and noisy, as conspicuous as they go. But they only last as long as they are visible. Pyrotechnic change is fleeting, feeble, dare I say it – fake. Ang ningning ay maraya. True change is slow, steady, but sure. Ite inflammate Omnia, I say, and the fire that burns crackles quietly.


The Samahan SecGen and the Samahan Education Rep

Terry Boligor for Samahan Secretary General

Terry Boligor for Samahan Secretary General



Darl Undag for School of Education Representative

Darl Undag for School of Education Representative


My goodness I am old.

When I was still the rampaging political animal that I was in AdDU, these two young ladies were hardly even greenhorns. Now they’re seeking my help as they run for posts in the Ateneo’s student government.

Terry is running for the position of Secretary General, which while officially is tasked with custody of files and facilitating correspondence, can be a very influential post. The SecGen when I was first year (I forgot his name) dominated the student council. For all my political differences with my classmate Aiyan Aquino, I will admit that she used her post as SecGen effectively to spearhead a better-organized Student Summit. When Aldwin Dumago resigned as Samahan President, the fact that Aiyan was the second highest official elected at large was suddenly foregrounded, and some sectors of the student body were touting her to succeed as President (this unprecedented event was resolved with the Jubail Pasia Convention: the SCB votes from among its members who succeeds).  Hitesh Dhanwani, for whom I served as campaign manager, revolutionized the office – and Samahan as a whole – by focusing the SecGen’s efforts online: all of a sudden Samahan files are readily available to students. Terry, an AB English student, is being touted to win owing to her similarity in course with Aiyan. Hardly surprising as the AB English program equips a student not only with clerical skills, but with parliamentary procedure as well.

Darl is running for School of Education Representative. The Samahan Central Board is composed of the officers elected at large (President, SecGen, Treasurer), the two Vice Presidents elected by their respective assemblies (the Internal VP, chairperson of the General Assembly of Class Presidents, and the External VP, the president of the Campus Clubs Organization), and representatives from the various Divisions/Colleges/Schools. Depending on internal arrangement, a Rep can also be head of the College/School/Division Council, have the power to appoint the head, or functions independently from that Council.  One of the newer schools established in the Ateneo was the School of Education – in the past they were merged with the Social Sciences under the Social Science and Education Division, in which they were invariably marginalized by both the vocal nature of the other courses and by their own timidity. It was the president of the Education students’ club, FEAT, who served as head of the de facto Education Council.  The Education people are also probably the most externally involved of courses – Education students are also members of the UFED (United Future Educators of Davao), an inter-school, Davao wide organization of education students.  I met Darl some years ago during an event organized by UFED, she was still a first year but already by then she was showing signs of leadership. It’s hardly surprising to see her run for office now.

I could hardly call these two impressive candidates, but they’re good kids, refreshing options in an arena where oftentimes moronic antics and cutsey-patootsey rhetoric  get votes. They’re no Aldwin Dumagos or Hitesh Dhanwanis, definitely, but at least they’re not like – oh, never mind.

Of course I have no place being involved in AdDU student politics anymore. The candidacies of these two just remind me of something for which I will never cease being fascinated about: the inner workings of the student council. Far more than a student political animal, I was a student constitutionalist.

My goodness I even sound old.



Interview: John Iremil E. Teodoro

One of the writers who have invariably influenced my growth!

Kalatas: Philippine Literature, Culture, and Ideas

ni Noel Galon De Leon

john iremil teodoro

Ang maganda kay John Iremil E. Teodoro (JIET) bilang manunulat ay totoo siyang klase ng manunulat, walang pagpapanggap, at dahil sa pagiging makatao ng kaniyang mga kuwento sa Hiligaynon, ito marahil ang rason kung bakit tinitingnan siya sa kasalukuyan bilang isang mahusay at progresibong manunulat sa panitikan ng Kanlurang Visayas, sa larangan ng pagsulat ng personal sa pinakapersonal.

Si Teodoro ay isang premyadong manunulat at makata mula sa Maybato Norte, San Jose de Buenavista, Antique. Siya ang pinakakilalang manunulat na Kinaray-a sa ngayon at isa rin sa mga kilalang manunulat sa larangan ng gay literature, patunay ang libro nitong “Kung ang Tula ay Pwedeng Ipambili ng Lalake” at “Anghel sang Capiz.” Limang ulit na rin siyang nanalo ng Palanca. Noong 2007 ay natanggap niya ang National Book Award para sa kaniyang koleksiyon ng mga sanaysay na pinamagatang “Pagmumuni-muni at Pagtatalak ng Isang Sirenang Nagpapanggap…

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