Return Roundup

(Article published in the Dumaguete MetroPost 19th October 2014)

 

Return Roundup

Two months! Academic preoccupations, as well as an unexpected writing slump, have prevented me from contributing to this column for what has become an unacceptably long time.
But the world does not stop for one, and indeed the past two months have been very eventful. So, to make up for the long absence, and to keep ourselves updated, here’s a roundup of news from me, the city and province, and the country.
First off, I’m dropping the ‘Karlo’ on the written page and adopting my mother’s maiden name for a double-barrel surname. I don’t know why but ‘Antonio Galay-David’ sounds more dignified. But people can and probably will continue calling me ‘Karlo.’ Oh, writer’s idiosyncrasy.
Now that that’s off our plates, to more respectable writers: I would like to extend my belated congratulations to Dr Cesar Ruiz Aquino for winning Poet of the Year in this year’s Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. I always dislike it when people talk about themselves in congratulating others, but I’ll be hypocritical this time: sir Sawi is a mentor and teacher for me. I might have contributed to this win, as I goaded him to submit poetry to Philippines Graphic (from whence the entries for the NJLA are taken) to win the award. Of course other writers might have similarly encouraged him, but I like to think I’m important.
On the local front, it seems election fever is beginning to kick in. Dumaguete Mayor Chiquiting Sagarbarria and Provincial Board member Erwin Macias are among the first to express their intention to run for the same Congressional seat, that of the province’s second district. Current congressman George Arnaiz will be vacating the seat as he reaches his last term. Now I am no expert in Negrense politics, but the announcements are very revealing: Macias’ brother Vice Gov Mark is from the same party, the NPC, as Chiquiting, so this will prove rather complicated for the Vice governor. While Mark has already expressed support for his brother, there are deeper issues fermenting beneath the public displays. Since the board member has said he would run under the electoral slate of Governor Degamo, can this perhaps be Macias’ way of bargaining with Degamo to finally show support for Mark’s advocacy of the One Island Region? And there are more important questions that these announcements beg to be answered: who will Mayor Chiquiting endorse as his successor in Dumaguete? What of Congressman Arnaiz after his term ends? And, most intriguingly, who, if any, will run against Degamo? In any case, we must all update ourselves on these maneuverings, we don’t know if our interest may be affected by their turnouts. Let us be informed voters!
And speaking of our interests, the campaign for a One Negros Region seems to be gaining even more momentum. In my classes in Silliman I required my students to read up and take a stand on the question, and the issue still proves divisive. One main concern most students raise is the cost of building regional offices that this proposal, if adopted, will incur. But it seems the Movement has offered a response to that concern by taking up the NegOr Chamber of Commerce’s suggestion to use provincial infrastructure in the event of the formation of a region. Info dissemination on the Movement is also gaining pace, and I look forward to getting a copy of that leaflet in Bisaya. (For both sides, I would very much appreciate it if I would be emailed materials on the movement). But without being biased for either side (this is a decision for Negrenses to take, and I’m from North Cotabato!), I must say that the campaign is not looking good for the No camp: we have an active, mobilized team of advocates for the Region, with two assertive proponents in the persons of Macias and NegOc Governor Marañon, and just a status quo of stubborn reactionism in NegOr against it. Unless the No camp becomes more proactive and more positive in the debate Negrenses will either vote Yes if it’s put to a referendum or vote No for all the wrong reasons. A public debate should be livelier than this. And it does not help that our governor is neither for nor explicitly against the move, simply demanding for assurance that the proposal is beneficial is not being very proactive.
To University news, NORSU President Don Real has been suspended for 90 days following the alleged irregularities on the funds allocated for the speech lab in the Bayawan campus. In his absence Dr Peter Dayot, the university’s VP for Administration, is OIC. While I believe Dr Dayot can execute the duties of President with ability, I have made no secret of my fondness for Real in these pages. In his time as President he tried to start NORSU’s hitherto inexistent artistic scene. I cannot imagine him engaging in anomalies that will compromise the hard work he has begun. But truth knows no friends, and we should all await the results of the investigations. My thoughts are with Real’s family, who must be finding this unwanted publicity difficult. Not everybody has forgotten that one is innocent until proven guilty.
On the National scene, trouble in Binay’s paradise. The Vice President has been walking on a tight rope over his relationship with the President: one main factor why his ratings are anomalously high is because, along with his own core of support, the Aquino magic has rubbed on him, making him not an unattractive prospect for Aquino loyalists. With operation Stop Nognog 2016 (God that’s catchy) in full swing and Noynoy not doing anything about it, Nognog, I mean Binay, seems to have lost his patience for him. The recent attacks against Malacañang might have been a miscalculation – at a crucial time when his ratings are dipping he risked alienating that smudge of Aquino magic on him, and the least he’s sure of gaining thereby is to appeal to the still marginal cynicism against the current government. The visit to Malacañang may have been damage control, but we are yet to see if it will work. And Mar’s role in Operation SN2016? Bide his time, it seems. While Binay makes a fool of himself, Mar appears to be quietly doing his job. Binay may be looking attractive to the Cynical wing, but Mar invariably gets the moderate vote.
One thing is sure here though: the Liberals have shown a level of solidarity and efficient coordination that make the fragmented opposition, three of which leaders are in jail, look unreliable – Erap has hardly defended Nognog, I mean Binay. But for that (we need a strong team to run this country) I’m leaning Liberal.
Mar is still my default candidate. Unless Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte runs for President, that is. In any case, I’m voting a federalist.
Next week (unless something else of interest grabs my attention), I talk of Hong Kong, activism, and the Federalist cause.

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