January 21, 2008


Ang pagkitil ng kalayaan sa
paanan ng tulay na ngayo'y
ipinangalan sa isang dakilang
mandirigma para sa kalayaan pero
noo'y kilala lamang sa isang salita--

Ang walang patumanggang karahasan
na sumalubong sa daan-daang

magbubukid na nagmartsa patungo
sa paanan ng tulay na noo'y kilala lamang
sa isang pangalan--Mendiola.

Ang daan-daang sugatan at ang
13 patay sa paanan ng tulay--
na syang sagisag at naging simbolo
ng lahat ng kalayaan na nakamit
matapos mapatumba

ang diktadura--ng Mendiola.

Enero 22, 1987.
13 patay, higit isandaan sugatan,
sa duguang kamay ng isang
pamahalaang itinayo at itinatag sa
pangako ng kalayaan at katarungan,
sa paanan ng tulay ng Mendiola.

Enero 22, 1987.
Masaker ng kalayaan at katarungan
sa paanan
ng tulay ng Mendiola.

Deleting history

Seen on a shirt: "Itanong mo sa akin ano ang maganda sa Pilipinas?" (front) "Gloria, resign!" (back)
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo says now that there is no reason to celebrate EDSA Dos and orders that no celebrations be held because she wants to heal the hurts. Just like that. EDSA Dos officially enters the dustbin of history.

Never mind that it was actually the first successful coup d'etat in Philippine history.

Never mind that when it was happening, Gloria and her minions asked the people to flex their power to support her.

Never mind that it was because of EDSA Dos that she was catapulted to power.

Never mind all that, mind only that she now says it shouldn't be celebrated or remembered.

It is as if by saying that, she can delete history and make us forget.

But, no, we will not forget how Gloria came to power, on the wings of a coup; and, no, we will not forget how Gloria maintained power, on the wings of fraud.

Though you delete history, we will not forget and we will not let you forget.

January 15, 2008

Questions I find myself asking . . .

1. What do you call an ELEVATOR when it is going down?
2. What do you call an ESCALATOR when it is going down?
3. If you only have one leg, do you wear PANT or still pants?
4. If you only have one eye, do you wear A GLASS or still glasses?
5. If there is only one item, is it NEW or still news?

Wala lang, naisip ko lang.

Fr. Honti, S.J.

Good news travels fast, bad news even faster.

While at a meeting, I got texts trying to confirm if it was true that Fr. Eddie Hontiveros, S.J., Father of Philippine Liturgical Music, passed away today. I replied that I hadn't heard; since there was wifi at the place, I did what I usually do when I need news--google. I managed to confirm that, yes, Fr. Hontiveros had passed away. Here is the link to his obit.

I never got to know him personally but growing up, literally with his songs while serving at 6 am mass in high school and later on listening to his "classics" amidst the more contemporary Jesuit music, it seemed like I, and countless others who prayed to his music, knew him very well indeed. His songs had sing-ability, which counted for the great mass appeal and the easy recall; his lyrics, however, were also quite spectacular. His Filipino was very elegant and I can say I, literally, learned how to pray in Filipino because of Fr. Honti.

He will be missed but this much I know, his songs will continue to fill many a church and many a heart--bringing the faithful so much closer to God each time.

January 10, 2008

Kulang Kung Wala Sila

UP kicked off its centennial celebration on January 8 with a 100-torch relay (that's including Richard Gomez) led by a 100 year old engineer (who sounds less senile than a lot of younger alumni and who displays a great wit and sense of humor in thinking that he could hook up with his classmates; LOL), sky divers, 100 kwitis salute, bogas thundering, the lighting of 100 acacia trees and the lighting of the centennial cauldron (shades of HP and the Goblet of Fire, he he he). The night was capped by a concert led by Ryan Cayabyab and various bands and a 15 or so minute fireworks display (courtesy of Beta Epsilon).

Astig! Galing! Kewl! Pero, may kulang . . .

Since the centennial preparations kicked off, I'd been thinking about this (and apparently I wasn't alone)-- it would be a really great idea to have the most famous luntian at pula band play. Of course, anyone who has been to UP or has lived within the last twenty or so years knows that I'm referring to the 'Heads, the Eraserheads, to be exact--Ely, Marcus, Raimund and Buddy. The only hitch was that they had disbanded some time back and had gone on to individual pursuits (all of them with their own bands; some producing, all still writing music).

While we were waiting for the centennial cauldron to be lit, I was expressing that hope to the law school staff-- it would have been awesome had the boys been asked to play again, maybe for one last gig--the first and probably the last! It would have been similar to a Beatles reunion. But as the night wore on, it was not to be; I don't know if it was because no one from the centennial preparations team thought of it (or had even heard of the 'Heads) or maybe if they had thought of it, they couldn't get them together, or had lost their numbers in their rolodexes or what. But, hey, they got a 100 year old graduate to come and run the torch relay; they even got Richard Gomez to light a torch (how bogus is that?). Of course, they could get the boys back together again--for U.P., if not for anything else?

Jam is right--it would have been perfect as the kick off--for the 'Heads to sing their songs that are full of UP flavor; it would also have been a perfect tribute to a band that managed to blow the lid off the local band scene at that time and influence the local band scene for generations to come.

I remember watching them at Red Rocks (along Scout Tobias), later to become Club Dredd, when they were really struggling; barely able to play but already armed with the charm that was to become their signature. Ely's songs were already unmistakeable and the attitude was totally radical. It didn't matter then that they weren't the best musicians in the planet or that Ely wasn't the best singer, it mattered only that they were singing about things they knew in a manner that they knew about. That was what the 'Heads brought into the scene; and, of course, we (who were then following them) were proud to say, "UP 'yan!"

Listen to any of the local bands that came after them and catch the hooks of the "heads in their songs; watch the bands and see the attitude that these four put on.

The centennial tag line is "UP, ang galing mo!" Very apt indeed for the boys who simply wanted to play and sing their own songs, reflective of countless generations of iskolar ng bayan who simply forged ahead, fueled by their dreams of making a difference for their country and their people and, in the process, making an impact, influencing lives, thought and action by simply being who they were trained to be: UP graduates.

The centennial celebrations just kicked off, so there still is time.

Let me be the first to ask for it then in writing--BRING THE BOYS BACK!!! Let's have the Eraserheads reunite for one last gig (proceeds to go to endowment for the Narra residence hall restoration, he he he; Dan Calica, are you reading this? Popo Lotilla? Pete Abinales?)

Maybe Jam or others who know the 'Heads, wherever they are, can circulate this until it reaches them.

One more gig! Sa harap ni Oble--promise, ipasasara natin ang U Av at ipapasuspindi ng maaga ni Chancellor (kung sino man ang Chancellor ng Diliman sa pagtatapos ng centennial year) ang klase nang makakuha ng magandang pwesto--sabay sabay nating kantahin ang 'Pare Ko--kasama ang mura. At baka pwede nyo rin kantahin ang UP Naming Mahal--pero walang mura.

January 08, 2008

Giving 5.0s (a reply of sorts to Jobert Navallo)

A former student of mine (Crim Law 1, first year) Jobert Navallo blogged about this in his blog (and it was reprinted in PDI's Youngblood today); this, referring to getting a failing grade in law school. The big five dot zero.

I read Jobert's post with great interest because, of course, I know him--having been his professor in crim law--and also because it was a brave post--because the professor might still be his professor in the very same subject next year. For the civilians (read: non UP law students), getting a 5.0 and writing about it might not seem like too much of a big deal but if you've been following events in THE law school (for the ateneans and the other law schools, sorry) in this blog and others related to it, you will realize that it is not easy to write about law school especially when you do not mince words. My posts on the deanship selection have grown legs while my rants on frat violence have taken on separate lives in cyberspace. It is in this context that I say that Jobert's post is quite brave; it also has the feature of being very well-written and also very sincere--from the gut (as I texted someone).

I never got a 5.0 in law school so I cannot relate to Jobert's experience--not to say that my grades were all extremely high though. I have, however, given 5.0s and it is not an easy experience--until now, I find it extremely difficult--actually painful--to do.

The very first five I gave was during my second year of teaching to someone who never showed up in class and when he did, answered so unintelligibly that he could have been speaking in a foreign language. In his finals, his answers were the written equivalent of grunts--such was the brevity and the paucity of the answers. To my knowledge, he never made it beyond first year, at least in U.P.; he may have gone to some other law school though and may be grunting his way through law practice for all I know. Even then, it was difficult for me to give a 5.0 but no amount of massaging the raw scores could bring the grade to a 4.0 or even a 3.0.

You would have expected that, after the first five, it would become easier. It has not. For my students who read this blog, it may sound difficult to believe but giving a 5.0 has not become easier for me, but harder. But unfortunately, I have given many 5.0s since that time, each one being more difficult than the previous.

The staff at the Secretary's Office know this: when I give my grade sheets, all the grades are filled in except for those who fall below 3.0; and I take time before I decide to circle in the 5.0. Many times, I've recomputed on the spot; rechecked, redistributed points in the hope that 1 or 2 more points could help. But many times also, these efforts prove fruitless. And so, despite the difficulty, I am left with no choice but to give the 5.0.

I do not know about other professors but it pains me to give a 5.0 to someone because to me, it signifies a total disconnect between myself and that person. I see it as a failure on my part to bring across a point which the others in the class were able to see; a failure to move someone to read more, study more, read more carefully, think better, think more critically. Many times, the chore of correcting blue books becomes even more difficult when you read from the answers given a clear disconnect, a failure of minds to meet, an absence of that confluence of thoughts from teacher to student. That 5.0, to me, represents one more aspect of failure: mine.

It may be small comfort to those who have failed subjects under me or to Jobert, who failed his nego class. But Jobert is right, there is life after a 5.0; many times, that 5.0 is a reality check. Many have left law school after a 5.0 convinced that it is only passion that they have and not skill; others have struggled through after a 5.0 borne by the passion that the day will not be lost at the hands of "such as you"; others have continued in law school and even excelled after a 5.0, convinced that whatever does not kill you, at first, can only make you stronger.

It is like Kingsfield in The Paper Chase telling Hart, who tells him to his face, "Kingsfield, you are a son of a bitch", to "sit down, Mr. Hart, that is the most intelligent thing you have ever said in this class." In his blog, Jobert resolved to not only confront his Kingsfield but conquer it. That is an admirable quality. Whether he succeeds or not, often it is enough that he tries.

January 03, 2008

shake rattle and laugh your head off

Every year, I try to catch one (or more) of the films in the annual (and mandatory) Metro Manila Film Festival. My pick is usually the quirkiest, the fun-nest (not necessarily the funniest) or arguably the best of the lot. If an Enteng Kabisote is around, I usually go for that--not because I'm a big fan of Vic Sotto but because he makes one movie a year and he usually prepares for it well.

This year, Enteng Kabisote was around but I chose to watch Shake Rattle and Roll IX instead.

It is so bad that it makes the phrase "guilty pleasure" seem so inadequate. It is the typical Regal movie where a smorgasbord of people in the film industry (Lovi Poe, for instance) and a smattering of actors (Gina Alajar, for instance) are put together. There is very little characterization and what little there is is silly. Writing is bad, effects are worse. There is very little regard for audience intelligence and it shows in the lack of intelligence in the plot and script.

It is a waste considering that the trilogy this year put together three up and coming indie filmmakers. Oh well, it just goes to show you that you cannot squeeze quality out of a lemon and when Lily Monteverde goes into filmfest mode, you will get lemons.

Don't get me wrong though, I totally enjoyed myself, laughing over almost every scene; it was only afterwards that I remembered that the movie was supposed to be a horror flick and not a comedy. I hope those seated around and in front of me didn't mind me laughing too much.

January 02, 2008

Half and Half doesn't mean a whole lot of anything

Rufus Rodriguez, the spokesperson of Erap, shoots his mouth off about Erap seeking the Presidency and says that he (Erap) is contemplating a term-sharing scheme with whoever it is who will be his Vice President. The premise is that Erap lost three (3) years of his original term and therefore he is only trying to get back his lost three (3) years--if you believe that, I have a bridge (two actually) that I want to sell you.

What do you think Erap is? Stupid? Ok, ok, don't answer all at the same time.

Once he gets back to the Presidency (assuming he can run again legally and is not restrained by the Court), he's not going to share the term with anyone else. And assuming he does agree to the harebrained scheme of sharing his term, he is going to choose someone so unambitious and so scared of the office that s/he would not even contemplate going after the half-term.

What Rufus Rodriguez has brought out is not a novel issue, it is downright cheap. It is to cheapen the Office of the President even more than Gloria has cheapened it--with EDSA 2 and with Hello Garci. It is the ultimate trapo solution to anything--since you can't agree on anything, halve whatever it is you're trying to get.

The Office of the President is not bibingka which you can half. Besides half and half doesn't mean a whole lot of anything. It is precisely what the people will get--half of one and half of another, which put together is totally less than the sum of the whole.

Rufus has gotten his fifteen minutes of fame and his above the fold headline now; he should just shut up now.

Is there no one else?

Erap contemplates running for President again in 2010; to this, the FVR side says, if Erap runs, FVR will be "asked" to run again.

I have nothing against old people; I am on record that Jovito R. Salonga is the best President we never had and he's an old man. But, is there really no one else?

Are we so bereft of talented and gifted and committed leaders that we have to have these two old men run again?

And please, no drafts for Gloria, JDV, Jojo Binay, Ping, Dick, Edong, Mar and Manny and ANY other person currently or in the last eight years in the Senate or the House.

What this country needs is fresh wind, not old farts.

January 01, 2008

New Year's SMS

It has not only become ritual but also commerce--the texting of greetings during special and festive events like Christmas and New Year's Eve and Day. Every year, my inbox is filled with many and varied greetings--some of which are recycled (how do I know? because I get them back. I even got back a text message I composed last night ) and some of them original.

One of the best--if only because it looked as if it was written for me and with me in mind--that I got, I got from a friend (text lingo included): "I pray that this coming year, God would gv u the grace to begin what you've planned, to continue what you have started and to finish what needs to be done. May you have a purposeful new year!"

I know its probably a globe or smart-generated sms greeting but it did speak to me as if it were written with me in mind.