May 31, 2007

Proven wrong

I did not expect it from him but I do know how to appreciate a decent gesture and I do recognize when I've been proven wrong.

Gloria Arroyo's obvious favorite candidate/cabinet secretary/all-around gopher* Michael Defensor conceded defeat in the Senatorial elections even before the COMELEC could finish its canvassing. Now, that is a decent gesture and certainly worth another post on him (I did say in a previous post I would not waste any more time and space blogging about Mike Defensor).

Of all the candidates running, he was the last one I would have expected to concede. That makes his concession even more significant.

As far as concession speeches went, Mike's didn't set off any fire alarms; this one (see below) did.

Now, that's a great concession speech.

* (1) To be fair to the mammal of the same name. the reference is to the american slang "go pher this, go pher that" which indicates that the human "gopher" is servile and/or in servitude. (2) For those who were born and were around in the late 70's to the early 80's, you may also remember that this was the name of the purser on "The Love Boat."

May 23, 2007

Living out of my suitcase

Was recently in Hong Kong for four days; just got in and am flying out early to Cagayan de Oro. Will try to update when I get to CDO. As they say in CDO, kapoy.

God, strength and grace, please. In Jesus's Name, Amen.

May 18, 2007

usapang lalaki 'tol

The third time around we're doing this since we launched this unique single men's retreat last year.

Usapang Lalaki 'Tol.*

Men coming together to play, pray, and praise.

Sports, hanging out, spending time out from the world with other men--listening to God never sounded this good.

If you're interested (and you must, of course, be a man and single) in this mid-year retreat, leave a comment or email me at tedte(underscore)esq(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Update: Usapang Lalaki 'Tol has been RESET from June 2-3, 2007 to July 21-22, 2007, still at Maryhill, Antipolo, Rizal. Registration Fee is P650.00; it starts at 8 in the morning of Saturday, July 21, and ends at noontime of Sunday, July 22.

* literally but loosely translated as "Men's Talk"

May 17, 2007

Nellie Banaag. Leticia Ramos.

Remember those two names: Nellie Banaag. Leticia Ramos.

They died because some coward out there considers life so cheap that he/she would hire equally cowardly goons (show your face, why hide behind bonnets) to deliberately put gas in a school building and burn down the place including Banaag and Ramos.

They died because people like Abalos of COMELEC--yes, he who is famous for looking the other way and blaming everyone else but himself--have absolutely no control over these elections and those who are armed and are out there.

They died so that trapos like Loren Legarda, MIke Defensor, Joker Arroyo and everyone else in GO and TU and even some independents like Gringo and Kiko could have their fifteen minutes of fame.

Let the sacrifice of Nellie Banaag, school teacher, and Leticia Ramos, volunteer pollwatcher, not be in vain.

Remember these two names: Nellie Banaag and Leticia Ramos.

Remember them, pray for them and those they have left behind--that they may find some measure of peace at this time.

Remember them but let us also do right by them.

To those who ordered the murder of Nellie Banaag and Leticia Ramos--there are no words to describe the evil of this act that you have done, none at all. When your time comes, may there be words to describe you and how you lived your life because right now, there are none. "Cowardly" and "Evil" are too kind.

To those who murdered Nellie Banaag and Leticia Ramos by burning them--may God, the merciful and the just, be precisely that: merciful but just.

To those who sit silent in the face of your knowledge of who murdered Nellie Banaag and Leticia Ramos--may God give you the grace to do what is right, not what is easy; what is just, not what is convenient.

Nellie Banaag and Leticia Ramos: you will not be forgotten. The hearts of a grateful nation go out to you and your families; may God's angels sing you to your deserved rest in Heaven.

May 10, 2007


"They Dance Alone"
(Gueca Solo)
(Sting,* 1987; from "Nothing Like the Sun")

Why are these women here, dancing on their own?
Why is there this sadness in their eyes?
Why are the soldiers here, their faces fixed like stone?
I can't see what it is that they despise.

They're dancing with the missing.
They're dancing with the dead.
They dance with the invisible ones.
Their anguish is unsaid.
They're dancing with their fathers.
They're dancing with their sons.
They're dancing with their husbands.
They dance alone; they dance alone.

It's the only form of protest they're allowed.
I've seen their silent faces scream so loud.
If they were to speak these words, they'd go missing too.
Another woman on a torture table, what else can they do?

They're dancing with the missing.
They're dancing with the dead.
They dance with the invisible ones.
Their anguish is unsaid.
They're dancing with their fathers.
They're dancing with their sons.
They're dancing with their husbands.
They dance alone; they dance alone.

One day we'll dance on their graves;
One day we'll sing our freedom.
One day we'll laugh in our joy;
And we'll dance.

One day we'll dance on their graves;
One day we'll sing our freedom.
One day we'll laugh in our joy;
And we'll dance.

Ellas danzan con los desaparecidos;
Ellas danzan con los muertos;
Ellas danzan con amores invisibles;
Ellas danzan con silenciosa angustia;
Danzan con sus padres;
Danzan con sus hijos;
Danzan con sus esposos;
Ellas danzan solas; danzan solas.

Hey Mr. Pinochet, you've sown a bitter crop.
It's foreign money that supports you;
One day the money's going to stop.
No wages for your torturers;
No budget for your guns.
Can you think of your own mother,
dancin' with her invisible son?

They're dancing with the missing.
They're dancing with the dead.
They dance with the invisible ones.
Their anguish is unsaid.
They're dancing with their fathers.
They're dancing with their sons.
They're dancing with their husbands.
They dance alone; they dance alone.

This is one of those songs that don't chart or don't become hits but nonetheless stir up in you rage, passion, compassion, empathy, and anger--all at the same time.

Sting wrote this in 1987 but he might as well have written this last week when Edith Burgos, tragically, brought to the country's attention to those who are involuntarily disappeared.

When Sting wrote and performed this in 1987, people had been disappearing long before that in many dictatorships around the world--Pinochet's Chile and Marcos's Philippines among them; now, in 2007, in this country, people are disappearing again and Jay Jay Burgos is just the most recent and perhaps the "most famous" in recent memory because he carries Joe Burgos's name. Yet, there are so many nameless and faceless desaparecidos.

To those who have made Jay Jay and many like him (like SherlynCadapan and Karen Empeno) disappear, "can you think of your own mother, dancin' with her invisible son?"

To Edith Burgos and the mothers of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno and many others who have been made to disappear, I have no words at my disposal to give you comfort save those that I now lift up in prayer to God who is merciful and just.

*Sting wrote this after he saw a brief news story about women dancing in the streets of Chile torn apart by the Pinochet regime. The women were dancing in the streets with pictures of their husbands, fathers, brothers or sons pinned to their clothes or they were holding the pictures and dancing with them.

The Cause for and the Costs of Remembering

Indeed. How many times must the Burgos family pay the price so that we may be able to remain free? (picture lifted from Malaya online)


I reprint a Statement I drafted for FLAG three (3) years ago on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2004; this became the guest Editorial of the late, lamented Today newspaper on December 10, 2004.

One of the people I was thinking of when I was writing this was the late Joe Burgos, publisher of Ang Pahayagang Malaya and WE Forum--back when writing about the truth was really detrimental to one's health and, in fact, one's continued existence on earth.

He was one among many people I admired back then because he had principles and stood by them--at the great personal prejudice. When freedom came in February 1986, he remained, to my delight and great admiration, consistent and true to his principles---unlike many of his contemporaries during that time, whom I also looked up to then, who turned out to have feet of clay (one of them is running as Senator under Gloria's party, guess who? Sorry, bad ako.)

Although not so titled, this statement could very well have been written yesterday and could have been subtitled--For Joe Burgos.


One day every year, we remember.

We remember years of infamy and days of darkness: when law was perverted to suit the needs of one man, his family and his minions; when freedom was but a myth and a mantra; when human rights and social justice were but beautiful words that stared us in our faces and mocked us.

But we remember also very many shining moments of courage, of inspiration, of unity, of selflessness, of martyrdom: when freedom was no longer a myth but our muse—to spur on struggles for greater freedoms; when human rights and social justice became beautiful words that allowed courageous men and women to stand fast and mock the tormentors of freedom.

One day every year on December 10, International Human Rights Day, we remember for we have cause to remember. Yet we should stop not at just remembering one day every year for the cause for remembering brings with it costs of remembering.

Remembering our freedom and how we regained it carries with it the costs of keeping that freedom:

Vigilance. Constant learning.

Commitment to the cause of freedom, social justice and human rights and all that that commitment entails. Selflessness, courage, inspiration and a love for country that transcends the love for self.

The costs of remembering.

In the face of already grinding poverty, the reality of rising prices of water, fuel, electricity, food and transportation threaten to bring new days of darkness. A bankcrupt culture of corruption and patronage politics threatens to resurrect years of infamy. Every day, the news brings little comfort: more and more of the poor become poorer and more powerless even as more and more of the rich and powerful become richer and more powerful.

On its 30th year and on the occasion of Human Rights Day 2004, the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) renews its commitment to the Filipino people even as we remember the many causes for and the costs of our freedom.

As the days of darkness once again threaten, we have cause to remember the shining moments of courage, of inspiration, of unity, of selflessness, of martyrdom—when freedom, this time from economic and social shackles, may become once again our muse and when human rights and social justice once again become beautiful words that allow courageous Filipinos to stand fast and mock the enemies of our freedom.

30 years ago, FLAG committed itself to the cause of human rights in the Philippines and the ASEAN region. This year, we remember and we stand fast by that commitment for the next 30 years, if need be: “to struggle for justice in time but under the aspect of eternity.”

Ka Joe.

I remember. I am grateful. I will not forget.

May 09, 2007

The Emperor and The Watchdog

The problem with politicizing the Ombudsman is that everything she does is suspect.

Mercy Gutierrez has labored under the large shadow of Mike Arroyo since her appointment as Ombudsman; whatever she does--short of sending Gloria, both Jose Pidals and the original Jose Pidals's first born, to jail--she will never convince people she is the independent watchdog that the Ombudsman is supposed to be.

And it doesn't help that she allows herself to be used. . . so obviously.

The preventive suspension slapped on Jejomar Binay, Emperor of Makati (have you noticed that the decal for Makati is a stylized "B", which obviously is not a letter found in "Makati" but in "Binay" or "Bayan ni Binay"--but I digress), is just the latest example of how the Ombudsman allows herself to be used, so obviously, by Gloria.

Not even those who will not vote for Binay will dispute that the suspension coming one week before the election is politically-motivated. Moreso, because the one serving it is the Undersecretary of Interior and Local Government and the one "suspending" the suspension's effectivity is Gloria herself. At the very least, the Ombudsman, the DILG and Gloria should be reading from the same script.

No subtlety, no finesse, no class.

The tragedy of this all is that Emperor Binay (and his successors in waiting: his wife, his son and his daughter; if Teddy Boy Locsin didn't still have one term left, Binay's other daughter might have run for the 2d congressional seat) now milks his "underdog" status for all that it is worth and any real issue of corruption against Binay is now swept under the rug, so to speak--waiting to be resurrected during the next election.

May 03, 2007

Much ado over nothing much

Is it just me? Or did Spiderman 3 suck a bit? 2 super villains, one quasi-villain, a love triangle, identity crisis and moral dilemmas plus Venom should have been enough. . . but truth to tell, I zoned out and even. . . horrors. . . dozed off for a few minutes especially during the preachy moments. So, yes, it might just be me, but Spiderman 3 did suck, a bit.

More on this . . . later.

Why vote?

Quite a few have been asking me who I'll be voting for on May 14. My usual response to that would be a semi-facetious "that will depend on whether I decide to vote or not." That usually elicits a reaction of disbelief that I would even consider not voting.

My reply--"that will depend on whether I decide to vote or not"--- is not a facetious one; it was not intended to be so. It is a statement borne out of experiences of being hopeful and, time and time again, rendered hopeless.

For those old enough to remember how Marcos rendered voting a farce in every sense of that word, my reply would not be so incredible; for many--including myself--who remembered the boycott movement for the Interim Batasang Pambansa elections, that was a statement that Marcos's government would never be "of the people, by the people and for the people." A refusal to vote was the strongest weapon against a craven dictatorship that desired but one thing: legitimacy; and the hope brought about by one's vote was, ironically, that which involved denying a dictatorship that vote.

For those old enough to remember how one's vote truly became a symbol of hope in the snap elections between Marcos and Cory, my reply would not be so incredible; many--including myself--remember casting a vote for Cory, not because we were great fans of hers (I was not and still am not; I voted for her though because I wished to spit in the face of the dictator) but because we truly abhorred the dictator; many still remember how our vote became a statement in itself, a collective repudiation of all that Marcos was and a collective affirmation of the hope that an anti-Marcos symbol like Cory was (never mind if she couldn't govern, we just wanted Marcos out). The hope brought about by one's vote was, fitfully, that which involved casting that one precious vote.

For those old enough to remember how Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo managed to once again reduce the hope that one ballot brought to unfathomable depths of ignominy, my reply would not be so incredible; many of us--including myself--still remember hearing the dictator Gloria--that unmistakeable voice, that unmistakable nasal tone--directing her underlings Garci, Ebdane, Esperon and so many others to steal not only an election but the hope that that election symbolized. The hope brought about by one's vote was, maliciously, snuffed out in the most cynical of ways--"but will I still win by over a million votes?"

The power of one's vote--my vote and yours--is the power to hope; it is the power to dream; the power to say to the face of a dictator, like Gloria, "Your time is up. Be gone"; it is the power to stay what may be an inevitability--the clash of arms drowning out the rule of law--and say, "not yet, not just yet."

The power of one's vote--yours and mine--is the power to chain as well as liberate; it is more than a symbol of hope, it is hope for change itself. To paraphrase Diokno, for change will come, if not now, then inevitably.

The power of one's vote--yours and mine--spells the difference between light and darkness; the light that comes out of a realization that hope is not lost, that change will not tarry much longer, that our passions, our ideals, our dreams, and yes, our hopes, will one day bear fruit in a country that is truly Filipino, truly free, and truly beautiful.

But why vote, when the very ones who stole our hopes for change in 2004 still abound in the highest places?

But why vote, when the obscenity that is "Hello Garci" comes back in full flavor and in living color to inflict himself on our popular psyche and our electorate by means of his very own full-fledged candidacy?

But why vote, when the very cynicism that eats away at hope abounds in every nuisance candidate made to run, in every Manny Pacquiao fielded, in every dynasty created?

But why vote, when even now the dogs of war have been unleashed and the staccato of gunshots rings out louder than the tolling of the bells of peace?

Why vote indeed?

Because there must be hope. Because there is hope.

The hope that one vote and one's vote--yours and mine--brings.

One's vote and one vote makes the difference between light and darkness, the difference between being in chains once more and being truly free, the difference between whining in enforced silence and raising voices in just and righteous indignation, the difference between all that is good for this beautiful country and all that will lead us further on the road to perdition.

So to those who ask who I will vote for, allow me now to answer you this way: I will vote for those who will truly symbolize the hope that my vote brings.

And so, I will not vote for any member of Team Unity--most especially not Joker Arroyo.

And so, I will not vote for most members of the Genuine Opposition--most especially not Panfilo Lacson or Loren Legarda (I am still praying about voting for Chiz Escudero).

I will most probably vote for Kiko Pangilinan simply because he has chosen to stand on his own, not allying himself with all that Team Unity and Genuine Opposition represents; my reservation is that he might finally find the voice and the passion that has eluded him in his previous term in the Senate; my hope is that he might truly stand on his own and speak only for those that matter--the people who put their trust and hopes in him.

But I will vote for the three gallant souls who have decided to fight the good fight--the three members of Ang Kapatiran: Martin Bautista, Zosimo Paredes and Adrian Sison.

Fittingly, the hope that one vote and one's vote--yours and mine--carries is borne on the shoulders of these dreamers; for only those who hope dare dream.

These three will lose the election and not become Senators but they would not have lost the respect of a grateful electorate; these three will lose the election but your vote would not have been wasted; these three will lose the election but they will have run the race extremely well.

In these times of cynicism, the hope that these three dreamers and "losers" represent is more than enough. The words of George Bernard Shaw borrowed by a famous Kennedy* and spoken by his even more famous brother** are apt indeed, "Some people see things as they are and ask 'why', I dream things that never were and ask 'why not'?"

My one vote represents the power to dream, the grace to hope, the courage to ask "why not?"

Why vote? Why vote for them? This is why--the power to dream, the grace to hope, the courage to ask "why not?"

To these three dreamers, my hopes go with you.

* Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy, U.S. Senator, killed June 6, 1968;
** John Fitzgerald Kennedy, U.S. President, killed November 22, 1963;