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BEWARE. You are about to enter a freedom zone. No censorship. No stereotypes. And completely biased. In my favor. This is my blog and it should be a genuine one. I will give my opinion on politics and governance, both local and international, law, and many other things - like vampires, books by Neil Gaiman, and the L.A. Lakers. In short, I will blog about anything I like. Or dislike.

I demand one thing before you view my random musings, rantings, hopes, and dreams: be open and have a sense of humor. Have that, and you are most welcome here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Muslim pride
Mano-a-mano By Adel Tamano (The Philippine Star)

Mmmm. Pizza with everything on it: pepperoni, bacon, ham, sausage and any other kind of high-fat processed meat that you can put on top of a cheese pie. For our law office’s trip to Malaysia last year, a trip to Pizza Hut was one of the things I had been looking forward to. I literally had sleepless nights in anticipation of my pizza-fest. I know Super Supreme is not exactly an exotic dish in Manila so you may be wondering — and thinking that I’m being very silly — why I had been obsessing over pizza. But it isn’t silly. I’m a Muslim and I’m forbidden to eat pork. So it is only in a predominantly Muslim country like Malaysia where their food is halal or pork-free that I can order pizza with everything.

It is not easy being a Muslim in the Philippines. When I was on the campaign trail, most of our hosts served only meals that, one way or another, featured pork. To be sure, these were gracious and thoughtful hosts, but like most Filipinos, they take dietary restrictions imposed by faith for granted.

The difficulty is even more pronounced during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for the followers of Islam, which incidentally, will start in August this year. During Ramadan, Muslims are not allowed to drink, eat, or smoke from sunup to sundown. In Muslim countries, there is a slowing in the pace and ritual of daily life to accommodate people’s hunger and lower energy levels. In fact, in some countries, eating and drinking in public places, even for non-Muslims, is discouraged if not prohibited. In the Philippines, most Filipinos are not even aware of Ramadan and so there is no similar accommodation for Muslims. The majority of Filipinos will eat and drink, unconscious of the fact that the Muslim minority are fasting. I certainly hope and look forward to a time when most Filipinos will be sensitive and considerate of our conditions while we are fasting.

Still, the most the reprehensible difficulty that Filipino Muslims face is discrimination, which affects even the mundane. Just observe the number of taxi drivers who refuse to give rides to women wearing hijabs or headscarves and it will remind us that religious and ethnic discrimination is a disease that, unfortunately, lingers in this country. Sadly, many Filipinos continue to have negative attitudes and stereotypes of Moros or Filipino-Muslims.

I’m certain that in some ways, my life might be easier if I had been born into a Catholic family. I grew up in Manila and attended high school, college and law school in Catholic schools. I was exposed to Catholic beliefs and practices, which I have learned to respect and, in many instances, even admire. However, I was born a Muslim. Both my parents practice the Islamic faith and belong to the ethnic group called Maranaws. But my being Muslim is more than a mere accident of birth — it is also the faith I choose.

As I have realized in my youth, as I have time and again affirmed as a man, I am a proud Muslim.

My best friends were Christians and we would have impassioned — sometimes even angry — debates on religion. In fact, a few of my devoutly Christian friends have been worried about my burning in hell. These are well-meaning friends and I appreciate their concern; I respect their beliefs even if there are times when they cannot seem to respect mine. (Interestingly, it appears that my exposure to Christianity has made me appreciate my religion more and has enabled me to be more tolerant of other people’s beliefs, religious or otherwise.)

Notwithstanding the difficulties, my faith is a great source of comfort for me. I doubt I would have been able to face the challenges in my life if it were not for my faith. A Muslim is defined in Islamic belief as someone who “surrenders” to the will of Allah (God). It is a faith that encourages acceptance and grace. When I have to face life’s disappointments, surrendering and knowing that all are part of a divine plan is incredibly comforting and provides me perspective.

There are a multitude of reasons but among them, I appreciate that Islam is, in essence, uncomplicated. We have five simple pillars: Shahada (profession of faith), Salah (five daily prayers), Sawm (fasting), Zakat (giving of alms) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). A devout Muslim will find time in his daily routine for prayer five times in a day so that faith becomes an integral part of his daily existence. For one month in every year, during Ramadan, a Muslim will fast and sacrifice, so that the faith is experienced at a real and visceral level — facing hunger and thirst and exercising self-control.

I’m sure that we all have our own reasons for our choice of faith and we must all respect and celebrate those choices. Whatever your faith is, what is vital is that you choose it — meaning you are committed to your faith and you make it a part of your life. Commitment does not mean having a perfect faith or living a perfect life. It is an aspect of the human condition that we all will fail in our religious duties — I’m certainly no stranger to not being able to fulfill even just the five pillars of my faith. I believe that being committed to your faith means that you strive to be the best Muslim, Christian, Jew or Buddhist that you can be. Just imagine how much better this country would be if the majority of Muslims and Christians actually lived their faith and genuinely practiced the virtues of love, kindness and charity that are the hallmarks of all great religions.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Justice for Ensign Philip Pestaño
MANO-A-MANO By Adel Tamano (The Philippine Star) Updated July 18, 2010 12:00 AM

Why should we even be talking about justice on a Sun-day? Isn’t today a time for family lunches and dinners, going to the mall, and relaxing? Justice — such a heavy, serious theme — seems a more appropriate subject matter for a weekday. However, the practice of Sunday being a “rest” day originated from the Jewish concept of the Sabbath, which was a time for reflection and devotion to God. Certainly, one of the most important themes of the Jewish faith, as expressed in the Old Testament, was the value of justice. The primary human story in Genesis speaks of the divine justice meted out to Adam and Eve for eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. Later, with the murder of Abel — which was the primordial crime (the first injustice towards a fellow human being) — when Yahweh asked Cain where Abel was, Cain asked God one of the most profound questions in human history: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The divine answer was in the affirmative; that we are, in truth, responsible for each other. And for Cain’s failure to adhere to this duty — and by way of justice for the murder of his brother — Cain was cursed to walk the earth for eternity.

Given the context of the numerous — often forgotten — stories of injustice in the Philippines and in order to affirm our divergence with Cain, meaning that we acknowledge our responsibility to our fellow man, let us use this day to remember the murder of Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño.

As a co-host of the weekly Rock Ed radio show, I had the opportunity to interview Philip’s parents and sisters. Philip’s and his family’s life story was at once deeply saddening and greatly inspiring — Philip was a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University’s High School, Class of ‘89. After graduation, he went to the Philippine Military Academy, where he excelled in academics, particularly in mathematics. At the PMA, he was indoctrinated, as all cadets were, with a deep sense of honor and a love of God and country. Little did he know that this very code of honor would be his undoing.

Upon graduation, as a member of the Navy, he was assigned to work on board a supply ship, the BRP Bacolod City. Unfortunately, the ship was used not only for transporting supplies for the military but was also allegedly secretly ferrying illegally cut logs and even drugs like shabu (a form of methamphetamine). One of Philip’s duties was the signing the ship’s manifest, meaning he had to affirm that the ship had been used to transport specific — and of course lawful — articles only. Having a deep-rooted sense of duty, he refused to sign the ship’s manifest, which excluded the illegal items. Shortly after his refusal, he was found dead in his cabin. According to the military, he committed suicide. While that conclusion was most convenient, it did not conform to the facts — firstly, Philip had become religious during his time at the PMA and it would have been a grave violation of his Catholic belief to commit suicide; secondly, he had, but a few weeks prior to his “suicide,” proposed marriage to his fiancée. He was engaged to be married and it is against human experience for a man to commit suicide right after his engagement; lastly, as his family emphasized, Philip was a well-balanced, intelligent (he was a consistent dean’s lister at the PMA), successful, and generally happy person, someone very unlikely to think of ending his life by his own hand.

Refusing to accept the military’s “findings,” the Pestaño family went to the Department of Justice, the Ombudsman and the Senate, tirelessly seeking justice for the murder of their son and brother. No real relief was found with any of these government agencies and until today, more than a decade after Philip’s murder — despite the obvious fact of death and the lack of motive or real proof that it was by suicide — no criminal case has been filed with the Regional Trial Court against Philip’s killers. Ironically, it was from a body external to the Philippines, the United Nation’s Committee on Human Rights, that the Pestaño family has received some vindication. According to the UNCHR’s committee that investigated the case, Philip’s death was ruled as not a suicide but rather a homicide. Although far from a conviction of the masterminds and the killers, for the Pestaño family, it was a moral victory.

Moreover, the family has refused to let Phil-ip’s murder and the failures of the Philippine justice system destroy them. Instead,

they have become a stronger family and they have established Philip’s Sanctuary Bike Park in honor of Philip’s memory as a place where his ideals — honesty and love of country — could be commemorated.

In truth, Philip died a hero, embodying the ideals that Filipinos should aspire for. As Father Reuters said in memoriam, “Some military men are killed in battle. They are given a hero’s burial. But Phillip died for a much deeper cause — he was trying to preserve the integrity of our Armed Forces. He died out of loyalty to the Philippines, in an effort to keep the oath that he made when he graduated from the Military Academy.”

Finally, that the Pestaño family had to obtain some level of justice for Philip from non-Filipinos is appalling. It shows how problematic our system of justice is and perhaps how little we as a people give value to justice for others. In our parochial and personalistic frame of mind, we believe that as long as injustice is heaped on others — and not on our families or loved ones — that it doesn’t affect us. But that is an illusion because a crime against the Pestaño family is a crime against all of us. To forget Philip’s murder is not only to become Cain’s heir but it is likewise a repudiation of his values — integrity, honesty, honor and love of country. This is why we cannot rest until there is justice for Philip.

Monday, July 12, 2010


MANO-A-MANO By Adel Tamano (The Philippine Star) Updated July 11, 2010 12:00 AM

Everyone’s a critic. And with the pervasiveness of the Internet, where everyone — and his dog — has a blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Friendster account, this witticism has finally become a terrible reality. For the YouTube generation, criticism is no longer a privilege but a demandable right. Simply look at the seemingly infinite number of blogs (and by this, I include people who post comments, status updates, etc.) and you will realize how quick people are to criticize. While I can appreciate the democratic nature of allowing anyone online to share his or her thoughts (these are manifestations of free speech after all) the surfeit of wrong grammar, erroneous assumptions and the downright meanness of some of what is written and expressed in cyberspace is both appalling and revealing — it hints at how little criticism is valued both by the critic and the public. Instead of insightful, well-researched, and useful critiques — whether of a person, a government policy, a restaurant or a movie — all we get are rantings.

In the Apology, Aristotle described Socrates as one who aspired to be society’s true critic: a civil dissenter (Socrates referred to himself as a “gadfly”) who would spur Athenians to know what was true or at least strive towards that end. Criticism, therefore, had an important social function “to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth.” Without wise critics, society would invariably stagnate and fail to reach its full potential. “Wise” was the operative word, however, and so only those who possessed the quality of wisdom or intelligence could properly take on the role and mantle of a true critic. Some may question this point and say that it seems terribly elitist. Well, truth be told, it is elitist but not in the pejorative sense. One of the meanings of elitism is the rule by those of who are best qualified and thus it is a leadership based solely on merit and ability. As in the field of law, since we want only those who have the requisite legal skills and training to handle complicated legal matters, it is with equal reason that we want only those who possess sufficient wisdom and knowledge of a particular subject matter — whether it be art, politics, history, etc. — to be given the important task of criticism.

Let us be clear, however, that this admonition towards wise criticism does not mean that people shouldn’t blog or comment online. After all, these serve an important social function and they provide, at times, a much-needed dose of humor, sarcasm, or even outrage, particularly when aimed at self-righteous or corrupt politicians. In fact, as was expressed to me by a friend who had a long career in public relations, there is an emerging shift towards the alternative forms of media, meaning a shift towards the Internet through blogs and social networking sites. He explained that traditional media outlets (network TV, radio and print media) have been so focused on “press releases” — overly spun and prepared news and opinions — or have been captured by powerful lobbies or vested interests, that these traditional outlets are viewed as inauthentic and, in a sense, manufactured. So people, particularly the younger generation, turn to the Internet to see news and views that they deem genuine. However, my concern is that since the alternative media is such a powerful source of information, then those who choose to express their opinions for public consumption should bear in mind their responsibility to express their opinions — and thus to criticize — wisely.

I cannot overemphasize the fact that the Internet is a great tool for enlightenment. The speed in which we discover facts and information, for someone like myself who was in college before the Internet became so accessible, is mind-boggling. But it also fosters laziness and carelessness, which are qualities that are antithetical to wise criticism. I sometimes worry that because of the ease of communication afforded by the Internet, we take expressing ourselves for granted and so we underestimate the impact our arguments, ideas or views may have

However, I don’t want to foster the misimpression that I believe that blogging or commenting should be overly grave, difficult or serious. As a matter of fact, it should be simple: check the facts, do some research, think before you write. While you are at it, why not take time to spell-check? If you are writing in a personal diary, then feel free to engage in venting and ranting, without limitations and with no regard to any consequence. But expressing oneself online is very different from diary writing. By putting your thoughts in a blog or by giving public comments, even if about the most mundane matters, you open these opinions and ideas to the scrutiny of others who may be affected or persuaded by what you write. Accordingly, a blogger has a responsibility — and I believe that it is a serious one — to be mindful and to do her best to write truthfully and accurately.

Finally, I believe that whether we are critics on the Internet or elsewhere, we can rise to a level of responsible and wise writing without having to lose our spontaneity, genuineness and even irreverence, which are the hallmarks of what is good about the emerging alternative media. Ultimately, we should raise the benchmark out of simple courtesy: courtesy, consideration, and respect to the public, who, after all, we invite to view what we say and what we write.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Headstart Interview

Adel Tamano leaves NP, quits politics
By Ira Pedrasa,
Posted at 07/08/2010 2:44 PM | Updated as of 07/08/2010 2:44 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Seeing an end to his political career, lawyer Adel Tamano has resigned from the Nacionalista Party (NP).

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Thursday, Tamano finally cut his ties with the political party “because I disagree with the things that happened during the campaign, especially the black propaganda.”

Tamano had been vocal about leaving the party while the campaign was under way, but decided to hang on until the very end out of respect for its standard-bearer, Senator Manuel Villar, Jr.

“I don’t want to hurt the Villars. They are very good to me, on a personal level. They are very decent people, good people. If I had resigned [then], it would have been a deadly blow to Senator Villar and my party-mates…,” he said.

He said Villar was also one of the reasons why he bolted the Genuine Opposition in 2009. He then joined NP as part of its senatorial slate.

Leaving the party this time meant there were some issues that did not fit his moral and ethical standards.

Tamano is referring to the black propaganda aimed against then presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

An NP supporter, former National Power Corp. President Guido Delgado, had admitted releasing to the media copies of a report on Aquino’s mental health, which turned out to be fake.

Tamano said he believes this incident dragged down Villar’s numbers.

He said issues that came after, including former President Joseph Estrada’s allegations, were nothing.

Estrada alleged Villar influenced the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) to approve a request to release shares in his real estate firm despite a strict lock-up period.

“We lost the election long before that....when we veered away from the debate of competence and track records to propaganda and mudslinging,” he said.

Had the party focused on Villar’s competence, he could have easily given Aquino the competition, he said.

Looking back, Tamano said “nawalan kami ng kumpiyansa sa sarili (we lost trust in ourselves). We relied too much on the ads…he is more than the ad and the song. This guy is one who has achieved a lot of things.”

Back to private law

Tamano is firm, however, he will not be joining Aquino’s Liberal Party, or any other party for that matter.

Now that the elections are behind him, he said that he now wants to focus more on his family. He is also active now with different non-government organizations seeking social justice.

“To be honest, I really don’t have any political plans anymore. [Whether it’s 2013 or 2016], if you ask me now, that’s the farthest thing on my mind…This new administration, I want them to succeed…After the elections, no matter what party you are in, we should support him,” he added.

Asked if he would give his nod if invited to be part of Aquino’s media relations team or the peace panel, Tamano said he would be willing to work as a “consultant.”

Spokesman for GMA?

Tamano admitted to missing his life then, of working in a private law firm.

A lawyer should be ready to provide legal representation to anyone, popular or not, he said.

There is one exception though: former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

He said someone close to Arroyo offered that he become spokesman and lawyer for the now congresswoman. He, however, declined.

“As a lawyer, masama to just get the popular ones and the innocent but unpopular will never have lawyers…More important than getting stoned, may paninindigan ako…I would make a lousy spokesman for [Arroyo],” he said.

Monday, July 5, 2010

President Aquino's Inauguration Speech

(Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s Inaugural Speech: June 30, 2010)

His Excellency Jose Ramos Horta, Former President Fidel V. Ramos, Former President Joseph Estrada, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and members of the Senate, House Speaker Prospero Nograles and members of the House, members of the Supreme Court, members of the foreign delegations,Your Excellencies of the diplomatic corps, fellow colleagues in government, aking mga kababayan.

Ang pagtayo ko dito ngayon ay patunay na kayo ang aking tunay na lakas. Hindi ko inakala na darating tayo sa puntong ito, na ako’y manunumpa sa harap ninyo bilang inyong Pangulo. Hindi ko pinangarap maging tagapagtaguyod ng pag-asa at tagapagmana ng mga suliranin ng ating bayan.

Ang layunin ko sa buhay ay simple lang: maging tapat sa aking mga magulang at sa bayan bilang isang marangal na anak, mabait na kuya, at mabuting mamamayan.

Nilabanan ng aking ama ang diktadurya at ibinuwis niya ang kanyang buhay para tubusin ang ating demokrasya. Inalay ng aking ina ang kanyang buhay upang pangalagaan ang demokrasyang ito. Ilalaan ko ang aking buhay para siguraduhin na ang ating demokrasya ay kapaki-pakinabang sa bawat isa. Namuhunan na po kami ng dugo at handa kong gawin ito kung muling kinakailangan.

Tanyag man ang aking mga magulang at ang kanilang mga nagawa, alam ko rin ang problema ng ordinaryong mamamayan. Alam nating lahat ang pakiramdam na magkaroon ng pamahalaang bulag at bingi. Alam natin ang pakiramdam na mapagkaitan ng hustisya, na mabalewala ng mga taong pinagkatiwalaan at inatasan nating maging ating tagapagtanggol.

Kayo ba ay minsan ring nalimutan ng pamahalaang inyong iniluklok sa puwesto? Ako rin. Kayo ba ay nagtiis na sa trapiko para lamang masingitan ng isang naghahari-hariang de-wangwang sa kalsada? Ako rin. Kayo ba ay sawang-sawa na sa pamahalaang sa halip na magsilbi sa taumbayan ay kailangan pa nila itong pagpasensiyahan at tiisin? Ako rin.

Katulad ninyo ako. Marami na sa atin ang bumoto gamit ang kanilang paa – nilisan na nila ang ating bansa sa kanilang paghahanap ng pagbabago at katahimikan. Tiniis nila ang hirap, sinugod ang panganib sa ibang bansa dahil doon may pag-asa kahit kaunti na dito sa atin ay hindi nila nakikita. Sa iilang sandali na sarili ko lang ang aking inaalala, pati ako ay napag-isip din – talaga bang hindi na mababago ang pamamahala natin dito? Hindi kaya nasa ibang bansa ang katahimikang hinahanap ko? Saan ba nakasulat na kailangang puro pagtitiis ang tadhana ng Pilipino?

Ngayon, sa araw na ito – dito magwawakas ang pamumunong manhid sa mga daing ng taumbayan. Hindi si Noynoy ang gumawa ng paraan, kayo ang dahilan kung bakit ngayon, magtatapos na ang pagtitiis ng sambayanan. Ito naman po ang umpisa ng kalbaryo ko, ngunit kung marami tayong magpapasan ng krus ay kakayanin natin ito, gaano man kabigat.

Sa tulong ng wastong pamamahala sa mga darating na taon, maiibsan din ang marami nating problema. Ang tadhana ng Pilipino ay babalik sa tamang kalagayan, na sa bawat taon pabawas ng pabawas ang problema ng Pinoy na nagsusumikap at may kasiguruhan sila na magiging tuloy-tuloy na ang pagbuti ng kanilang sitwasyon.

Kami ay narito para magsilbi at hindi para maghari. Ang mandato ninyo sa amin ay pagbabago – isang malinaw na utos para ayusin ang gobyerno at lipunan mula sa pamahalaang iilan lamang ang nakikinabang tungo sa isang pamahalaang kabutihan ng mamamayan ang pinangangalagaan.

Ang mandatong ito ay isa kung saan kayo at ang inyong pangulo ay nagkasundo para sa pagbabago – isang paninindigan na ipinangako ko noong kampanya at tinanggap ninyo noong araw ng halalan.

Sigaw natin noong kampanya: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Hindi lamang ito pang slogan o pang poster – ito ang mga prinsipyong tinatayuan at nagsisilbing batayan ng ating administrasyon.

Ang ating pangunahing tungkulin ay ang magsikap na maiangat ang bansa mula sa kahirapan, sa pamamagitan ng pagpapairal ng katapatan at mabuting pamamalakad sa pamahalaan.

Ang unang hakbang ay ang pagkakaroon ng tuwid at tapat na hanay ng mga pinuno. Magsisimula ito sa akin. Sisikapin kong maging isang mabuting ehemplo. Hinding hindi ko sasayangin ang tiwalang ipinagkaloob ninyo sa akin. Sisiguraduhin ko na ganito rin ang adhikain ng aking Gabinete at ng mga magiging kasama sa ating pamahalaan.

Naniniwala akong hindi lahat ng nagsisilbi sa gobyerno ay corrupt. Sa katunayan, mas marami sa kanila ay tapat. Pinili nilang maglingkod sa gobyerno upang gumawa ng kabutihan. Ngayon, magkakaroon na sila ng pagkakataong magpakitang-gilas. Inaasahan natin sila sa pagsupil ng korapsyon sa loob mismo ng burukrasya.

Sa mga itinalaga sa paraang labag sa batas, ito ang aking babala: sisimulan natin ang pagbabalik ng tiwala sa pamamagitan ng pag-usisa sa mga “midnight appointments.” Sana ay magsilbi itong babala sa mga nag-iisip na ipagpatuloy ang baluktot na kalakarang nakasanayan na ng marami.

Sa mga kapuspalad nating mga kababayan, ngayon, ang pamahalaan ang inyong kampeon.

Hindi natin ipagpapaliban ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga estudyante, kaya’t sisikapin nating punan ang kakulangan sa ating mga silid-aralan.

Unti-unti din nating babawasan ang mga kakulangan sa imprastraktura para sa transportasyon, turismo at pangangalakal. Mula ngayon, hindi na puwede ang “puwede na” pagdating sa mga kalye, tulay at gusali dahil magiging responsibilidad ng mga kontratista ang panatilihing nasa mabuting kalagayan ang mga proyekto nila.

Bubuhayin natin ang programang “emergency employment” ng dating pangulong Corazon Aquino sa pagtatayo ng mga bagong imprastraktura na ito. Ito ay magbibigay ng trabaho sa mga local na komunidad at makakatulong sa pagpapalago ng kanila at ng ating ekonomiya.

Hindi kami magiging sanhi ng inyong pasakit at perwisyo. Palalakasin natin ang koleksyon at pupuksain natin ang korapsyon sa Kawanihan ng Rentas Internas at Bureau of Customs para mapondohan natin ang ating mga hinahangad para sa lahat, tulad ng:

· dekalidad na edukasyon, kabilang ang edukasyong bokasyonal para makapaghanap ng marangal na trabaho ang hindi makapag-kolehiyo;
· serbisyong pangkalusugan, tulad ng Philhealth para sa lahat sa loob ng tatlong taon;
· tirahan sa loob ng mga ligtas na komunidad.

Palalakasin at palalaguin natin ang bilang ng ating kasundaluhan at kapulisan, hindi para tugunan ang interes ng mga naghahari-harian, ngunit para proteksyunan ang mamamayan. Itinataya nila ang kanilang buhay para mayroong pagkakataon sa katahimikan at kapayapaan sa sambayanan. Dumoble na ang populasyong kanilang binabantayan, nanatili naman sila sa bilang. Hindi tama na ang nagmamalasakit ay kinakawawa.

Kung dati ay may fertilizer scam, ngayon ay may kalinga ng tunay para sa mga magsasaka. Tutulungan natin sila sa irigasyon, extension services, at sa pagbenta ng kanilang produkto sa pinakamataas na presyong maaari.

Inaatasan natin na ang papasok na Secretary Alcala ay magtayo ng mga trading centers kung saan diretso na ang magsasaka sa mamimili – lalaktawan natin ang gitna, kasama na ang kotong cop. Sa ganitong paraan, ang dating napupunta sa gitna ay maari nang paghatian ng magsasaka at mamimili.

Gagawin nating kaaya-aya sa negosyante ang ating bansa. We will cut red tape dramatically and implement stable economic policies. We will level the playing field for investors and make government an enabler, not a hindrance, to business. Sa ganitong paraan lamang natin mapupunan ang kakulangan ng trabaho para sa ating mga mamamayan.

Layunin nating paramihin ang trabaho dito sa ating bansa upang hindi na kailanganin ang mangibang-bansa para makahanap lamang ng trabaho. Ngunit habang ito ay hindi pa natin naaabot, inaatasan ko ang mga kawani ng DFA, POEA at ng OWWA at iba pang mga kinauukulang ahensiya na mas lalo pang paigtingin ang pagtugon sa mga hinaing at pangangailangan ng ating mga overseas Filipino workers.

Papaigtingin namin ang proceso ng konsultasyon at pag-uulat sa taumbayan. Sisikapin naming isakatuparan ang nakasaad sa ating Konstitusiyon na kinikilala ang karapatan ng mamamayaan na magkaroon ng kaalaman ukol sa mga pampublikong alintana.

Binuhay natin ang diwa ng people power noong kampanya. Ipagpatuloy natin ito tungo sa tuwid at tapat na pamamahala. Ang naniniwala sa people power ay nakatuon sa kapwa at hindi sa sarili.

Sa mga nang-api sa akin, kaya ko kayong patawarin at pinapatawad ko na kayo. Sa mga nang-api sa sambayanan, wala akong karapatan na limutin ang inyong mga kasalanan.

To those who are talking about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice. Sa paglimot ng pagkakasala, sinisigurado mong maulit muli ang mga pagkakasalang ito. Secretary de Lima, you have your marching orders. Begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.

Ikinagagalak din naming ibahagi sa inyo ang pagtanggap ni dating Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. sa hamon ng pagtatatag at pamumuno sa isang Truth Commission na magbibigay linaw sa maraming kahinahinalang isyu na hanggang ngayon ay walang kasagutan at resolusyon.

Ang sinumang nagkamali ay kailangang humarap sa hustisya. Hindi maaaring patuloy ang kalakaran ng walang pananagutan at tuloy na pang-aapi.

My government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflicts, inclusive of the interests of all – may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian.

We shall defeat the enemy by wielding the tools of justice, social reform, and equitable governance leading to a better life. Sa tamang pamamahala gaganda ang buhay ng lahat, at sa buhay na maganda, sino pa ang gugustuhing bumalik sa panahon ng pang-aapi?

Kung kasama ko kayo, maitataguyod natin ang isang bayan kung saan pantay-pantay ang pagkakataon, dahil pantay-pantay nating ginagampanan ang ating mga pananagutan.

Kamakailan lamang, ang bawat isa sa atin ay nanindigan sa presinto. Bumoto tayo ayon sa ating karapatan at konsensiya. Hindi tayo umatras sa tungkulin nating ipaglaban ang karapatan na ito.

Pagkatapos ng bilangan, pinatunayan ninyo na ang tao ang tunay na lakas ng bayan.

Ito ang kahalagahan ng ating demokrasya. Ito ang pundasyon ng ating pagkakaisa. Nangampanya tayo para sa pagbabago. Dahil dito taas-noo muli ang Pilipino. Tayong lahat ay kabilang sa isang bansa kung saan maaari nang mangarap muli.

To our friends and neighbors around the world, we are ready to take our place as a reliable member of the community of nations, a nation serious about its commitments and which harmonizes its national interests with its international responsibilities.

We will be a predictable and consistent place for investment, a nation where everyone will say, “it all works.”

Inaanyayahan ko kayo ngayon na manumpa sa ating mga sarili, sa sambayanan, WALANG MAIIWAN.

Walang pangingibang-bayan at gastusan na walang wastong dahilan. Walang pagtalikod sa mga salitang binitawan noong kampanya, ngayon at hanggang sa mga susunod pang pagsubok na pagdadaanan sa loob ng anim na taon.

Walang lamangan, walang padrino at walang pagnanakaw. Walang wang-wang, walang counterflow, walang tong. Panahon na upang tayo ay muling magkawanggawa.

Nandito tayo ngayon dahil sama-sama tayong nanindigan at nagtiwala na may pag-asa.

The people who are behind us dared to dream. Today, the dream starts to become a reality. Sa inyong mga nag-iisip pa kung tutulong kayo sa pagpasan ng ating krus, isa lang ang aking tanong – kung kailan tayo nanalo, saka pa ba kayo susuko?

Kayo ang boss ko, kaya’t hindi maaaring hindi ako makinig sa mga utos ninyo. We will design and implement an interaction and feedback mechanism that can effectively respond to the people’s needs and aspirations.

Kayo ang nagdala sa akin sa puntong ito – ang ating mga volunteers – matanda, bata, celebrity, ordinaryong tao, na umikot sa Pilipinas para ikampanya ang pagbabago; ang aking mga kasambahay, na nag-asikaso ng lahat ng aking mga personal na pangangailangan; ang aking pamilya, kaibigan at katrabaho, na dumamay, nag-alaga at nagbigay ng suporta sa akin; ang ating mga abogado, na nagpuyat para bantayan ang ating mga boto at siguraduhing mabilang ang bawat isa; ang aking mga kapartido at kaalyado na kasama kong nangahas mangarap; at ang milyun-milyong Pilipinong nagkaisa, nagtiwala at hindi nawalan ng pag-asa – nasa inyo ang aking taos-pusong pasasalamat.

Hindi ko makakayang harapin ang aking mga magulang, at kayong mga nagdala sa akin sa yugto ng buhay kong ito, kung hindi ko maisasakatuparan ang aking mga binitawang salita sa araw na ito.

My parents sought nothing less and died for nothing less than democracy, peace and prosperity. I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward.

Layunin ko na sa pagbaba ko sa katungkulan, masasabi ng lahat na malayo na ang narating natin sa pagtahak ng tuwid na landas at mas maganda na ang kinabukasang ipapamana natin sa susunod na henerasyon. Samahan ninyo ako sa pagtatapos ng laban na ito. Tayo na sa tuwid na landas.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

(English Translation of Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s Inaugural Address)

My presence here today is proof that you are my true strength. I never expected that I will be here taking my oath of office before you, as your president. I never imagined that I would be tasked with continuing the mission of my parents. I never entertained the ambition to be the symbol of hope, and to inherit the problems of our nation.

I had a simple goal in life: to be true to my parents and our country as an honorable son, a caring brother, and a good citizen.

My father offered his life so our democracy could live. My mother devoted her life to nurturing that democracy. I will dedicate my life to making our democracy reach its fullest potential: that of ensuring equality for all. My family has sacrificed much and I am willing to do this again if necessary.

Although I was born to famous parents, I know and feel the problems of ordinary citizens. We all know what it is like to have a government that plays deaf and dumb. We know what it is like to be denied justice, to be ignored by those in whom we placed our trust and tasked to become our advocates.

Have you ever been ignored by the very government you helped put in power? I have. Have you had to endure being rudely shoved aside by the siren-blaring escorts of those who love to display their position and power over you? I have, too. Have you experienced exasperation and anger at a government that instead of serving you, needs to be endured by you? So have I.

I am like you. Many of our countrymen have already voted with their feet – migrating to other countries in search of change or tranquility. They have endured hardship, risked their lives because they believe that compared to their current state here, there is more hope for them in another country, no matter how bleak it may be. In moments when I thought of only my own welfare, I also wondered – is it possible that I can find the peace and quiet that I crave in another country? Is our government beyond redemption? Has it been written that the Filipino’s lot is merely to suffer?

Today marks the end of a regime indifferent to the appeals of the people. It is not Noynoy who found a way. You are the reason why the silent suffering of the nation is about to end. This is the beginning of my burden, but if many of us will bear the cross we will lift it, no matter how heavy it is.

Through good governance in the coming years, we will lessen our problems. The destiny of the Filipino will return to its rightful place, and as each year passes, the Filipino’s problems will continue to lessen with the assurance of progress in their lives.

We are here to serve and not to lord over you. The mandate given to me was one of change. I accept your marching orders to transform our government from one that is self-serving to one that works for the welfare of the nation.

This mandate is the social contract that we agreed upon. It is the promise I made during the campaign, which you accepted on election day.

During the campaign we said, “If no one is corrupt, no one will be poor.” That is no mere slogan for posters — it is the defining principle that will serve as the foundation of our administration.

Our foremost duty is to lift the nation from poverty through honest and effective governance.

The first step is to have leaders who are ethical, honest, and true public servants. I will set the example. I will strive to be a good model. I will not break the trust you have placed in me. I will ensure that this, too, will be the advocacy of my Cabinet and those who will join our government.

I do not believe that all of those who serve in our government are corrupt. In truth, the majority of them are honest. They joined government to serve and do good. Starting today, they will have the opportunity to show that they have what it takes. I am counting on them to help fight corruption within the bureaucracy.

To those who have been put in positions by unlawful means, this is my warning: we will begin earning back the trust of our people by reviewing midnight appointments. Let this serve as a warning to those who intend to continue the crooked ways that have become the norm for too long.

To our impoverished countrymen, starting today, your government will be your champion.

We will not disregard the needs of our students. We will begin by addressing the glaring shortage in classrooms and educational facilities.

Gradually, we will lessen the lack of infrastructures for transportation, tourism and trade. From now on, mediocre work will not be good enough when it comes to roads, bridges, and buildings because we will hold contractors responsible for maintaining their projects in good condition.

We will revive the emergency employment program established by former President Corazon Aquino. This will provide jobs for local communities and will help in the development of their and our economy.

We will not be the cause of your suffering or hardship. We will strengthen collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and we will fight corruption in the Bureau of Customs in order to fund our objectives for the public welfare, such as:

· Quality education, including vocational education, so that those who choose not to attend college or those who cannot afford it can find dignified livelihood;

· Improved public health services such as PhilHealth for all within three years;

· A home for every family, within safe communities.

We will strengthen the armed forces and the police, not to serve the interests of those who want to wield power with impunity, but to give added protection for ordinary folk. The armed forces and the police risk their lives daily so that the nation can live in peace and security. The population has doubled and yet their numbers remain unchanged. It is not right that those who make sacrifices are treated pitifully.

If there was a fertilizer scam in the past, today there will be security for farmers. We will help them with irrigation, extension services, and marketing their products at the best possible prices.

We are directing Secretary Alcala to set up trading centers that will directly link farmers and consumers thereby eliminating middlemen and opportunities for corruption. In this way, funds can be shared by farmers and consumers. We will make our country attractive to investors. We will cut red tape dramatically and implement stable economic policies. We will level the playing field for investors and make government an enabler, not a hindrance to business. This is the only means by which we can provide jobs for our people.

Our goal is to create jobs at home so that there will be no need to look for employment abroad. However, as we work towards that end, I am ordering the DFA, POEA, OWWA, and other relevant agencies to be even more responsive to the needs and welfare of our overseas Filipino workers.

We will strengthen the process of consultation and feedback. We will strive to uphold the constitutional right of citizens to information on matters of public concern.

We relived the spirit of people power during the campaign. Let it take us to good and effective governance. Those who believe in people power put the welfare of others before their own.

I can forgive those who did me wrong but I have no right to forgive those who abused our people.

To those who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice. When we allow crimes to go unpunished, we give consent to their occurring over and over again. Secretary de Lima, you have your marching orders. Begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.

We are also happy to inform you the acceptance of Chief Justice Hilario Davide of the challenge of strengthening and heading a Truth Commission that will shed light on many unanswered issues that continue to haunt our country.

My government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflict, inclusive of the interests of all — may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian.

We shalI defeat the enemy by wielding the tools of justice, social reform, and equitable governance leading to a better life. With proper governance life will improve for all. When we are all living well, who will want to go back to living under oppression?

If I have all of you by my side, we will be able to build a nation in which there will be equality of opportunity, because each of us fulfilled our duties and responsibilities equally.

After the elections, you proved that it is the people who wield power in this country.

This is what democracy means. It is the foundation of our unity. We campaigned for change. Because of this, the Filipino stands tall once more. We are all part of a nation that can begin to dream again.

To our friends and neighbors around the world, we are ready to take our place as a reliable member of the community of nations, a nation serious about its commitments and which harmonizes its national interests with its international responsibilities.

We will be a predictable and consistent place for investment, a nation where everyone will say, “it all works.”

Today, I am inviting you to pledge to yourselves and to our people. No one shall be left behind.

No more junkets, no more senseless spending. No more turning back on pledges made during the campaign, whether today or in the coming challenges that will confront us over the next six years. No more influence-peddling, no more patronage politics, no more stealing. No more sirens, no more short cuts, no more bribes. It is time for us to work together once more.

We are here today because we stood together and believed in hope. We had no resources to campaign other than our common faith in the inherent goodness of the Filipino.

The people who are behind us dared to dream. Today, the dream starts to become a reality. To those among you who are still undecided about sharing the common burden I have only one question: Are you going to quit now that we have won?

You are the boss so I cannot ignore your orders. We will design and implement an interaction and feedback mechanism that can effectively respond to your needs and aspirations.

You are the ones who brought me here – our volunteers – old, young, celebrity, ordinary folks who went around the country to campaign for change; my household help who provided for all my personal needs; my family, friends, colleagues at work, who shared, cared, and gave their support; my lawyers who stayed all hours to guard my votes and make sure they were counted; and the millions of Filipinos who prevailed, kept faith, and never lost hope – I offer my heartfelt gratitude.

I will not be able to face my parents and you who have brought me here if do not fulfill the promises I made.

My parents sought nothing less, died for nothing less, than democracy and peace. I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward.

My hope is that when I leave office, everyone can say that we have traveled far on the right path, and that we are able to bequeath a better future to the next generation. Join me in continuing this fight for change.

Thank you and long live the Filipino people!


For better or for worse
MANO-A-MANO By Adel Tamano (The Philippine Star) Updated July 04, 2010 12:00 AM

He created mates for you from yourselves

That you may find solace and rest in them, and

He put between you love and compassion.

Surely these are signs for those who reflect. — Koran, 30: 21

The inauguration of our first single, unmarried president and his sister Kris’s inadvertent upstaging of the ceremony by publicly declaring that her own marriage to basketball player James Yap was over have set me to thinking about matrimony: why people get married and the problems of modern marriage. Marriage is not a subject that I take lightly, particularly after witnessing the challenges that my own parents faced with their marriage. Perhaps it was my lack of a marital role model that explains why I have always been keen on the subject and promised to myself, even at an early age, that my own should be a successful one. (My wife has patiently put up with me for 11 years and counting.)

Marriage is defined under the Family Code as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life.” Unfortunately, the legal definition is dry and uninspired stuff and fails to grasp the deeper significance of a marital union. “Special” is as far as it goes into describing its significance. Contrasting it with the earlier quote from the Koran and the insufficiency of the codal definition becomes apparent: in Islam, as in Christianity, marriage is more than a mere “special contract.” For Muslims, it is a mithaq or a solemn covenant — one clothed with not only lawful but religious and ineffable significance. Note how, in Islam, the love and compassion that is shared between husbands and wives are deemed as an ayat or the very sign of God’s presence. I still get Goosebumps when I think about that and it is a reminder that marriage is not something to be entered into — or given up on — lightly.

Seeing the profound implications of marriage, one could easily conclude that the social institution must have been created along with the birth of civilization; such that as human society progressed and became more complex, marriage was established to provide order to the relationships between men and women. However, it appears that the contrary is true: marriage pre dates the great civilizations and it existed even in the most primitive of societies. In fact, among the tribes living in New Guinea, long before being exposed to the so-called “civilized” world, the natives had their own concept of marriage and even divorce. Consequently, marriage appears to be something so intrinsically linked to our very nature that even without a developed legal system, even in the simplest of societies, people choose to marry.

However, intrinsic to our nature or not, maintaining a marriage is hard work, especially in the modern age. Because sexual mores, parenting roles, and expectations between spouses have changed rapidly in the past decades, it becomes so much more challenging to keep marriages intact. It is ironic that as our society advances and becomes more enlightened, it becomes more difficult for marriages to survive. In the US, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. In Australia, the rate of divorce is about 30 percent. While we do not have reliable data for divorce rates in the Philippines because, generally, divorce is prohibited except under Sharia law (although annulments are viewed as essentially de facto divorces); nevertheless, we all have friends or acquaintances who have given up on their marriage. While I certainly cannot judge those who opt out of marriage, I cannot help but have a sense of loss and sadness when a marriage fails. Yes, marriage can be difficult and definitely there are situations when separation, annulment or divorce – particularly in case of physically or emotionally abusive relationships – is an option. However, it should be a last option. Thus, whenever our law office handles cases of annulment, I always ask my clients if they have exerted all efforts to save their marriage. In fact, although divorce is allowed for Muslims, there is such a divine aversion to breaking the marital tie that it is believed that the throne of God quakes whenever a divorce occurs.

Perhaps what is really surprising is that despite the statistics on divorce and the experiments, particularly during the sexual revolution of ’60s and ’70s, at forming alternatives to marriage, such as open relationships, “living in,” “swinging”, etc., people still get married, prefer marriage to the other alternatives, and many marriages do actually survive and even thrive. I believe that this is a testament to the deep human need to have a true partner in life. Simply, man — and woman — cannot live alone and while we may have families and friends, it may not be enough for most. (I say this because, for some, singleness is a viable option, although one — and by no means do I denigrate it — I cannot fathom.) Perhaps by acknowledging this deep human need and understanding that marriage has proven to be the most viable way to address it, people would give more value to marriage, maybe not enter into it whimsically, and, hopefully, we would have fewer broken marriages. However, let me emphasize that although I obviously advocate marriage as an institution, I do not idealize marriage. Let us be clear: There is no happy-ever-after in marriage — that exists only in fairytales. And, certainly, a marriage with a fairytale ending would be incredibly boring and would miss out on the whole gamut of the human experience, which, of course, includes sadness, arguments, grief, and sickness as well as life’s good stuff. That is why the marriage vow is “for better or for worse.”

Finally, in Genesis, Adam, the first man and thus a paragon of man, could not survive alone and needed a “helpmate,” someone to share his life with. And to think that he was already living in Paradise, without a burden or care at all, and yet it was not enough of a life until Eve, his equal partner, came along. I believe that like Adam, no matter how perfect our life may be, no matter how rich or successful we may become, we too will search for that lifelong partner to share our life with. This is why marriage survives modernity. Although marriage, like any human institution, is imperfect; however, if we are lucky, we can savor the moments of marital compassion, forgiveness and love, which, in the end, make life worth living.

Monday, June 28, 2010

F. Sionil Jose's Gold Standard Of An Article

This piece by F. Sionil Jose puts to shame all the other so-called columnists and opinion-makers with its depth, clarity, and intelligence. To all who write, whether for national dailies, school newspapers, or blogs, his advice, nay his admonition, is particularly compelling: "(a)s the late American critic Lionel Trilling said, those who assume the august mantle of opinion shapers and intellectuals must have “a moral obligation to be intelligent.”" For me, this article represents the gold standard in column writing -

Ethics as politics
HINDSIGHT By F Sionil Jose (The Philippine Star) Updated June 27, 2010 12:00 AM

In April 1942, only four months into the Occupation, the horrors of the Bataan Death March had afflicted national consciousness. The Filipinos who collaborated with them were marked. But on the whole, many survived not just the stigma; they were appreciated, some were regarded as heroes, and many of them prospered.

This is one of those anguished outpourings that I have difficulty letting out because it sounds preachy and who am I but just another common sinner who knows only too well of the hidden minefields in self-righteousness? But it must be stated plain and simple — this abysmal lack of ethics, this blatant absence of judgmental right and wrong in much of our political discourse today and the equally insipid amoral outlook of our so-called intelligentsia. As the late American critic Lionel Trilling said, those who assume the august mantle of opinion shapers and intellectuals must have “a moral obligation to be intelligent.”

I was in Tokyo when I read in that country’s largest newspaper, The Yomiuri, Amando Doronila’s analysis of the Aquino-Marcos “family feud” as the major political contest to watch in the incoming administration of Noynoy Aquino. Doronila’s analysis is so shallow, so inept — it is a shame to read it in a major Japanese paper where it could be easily perceived as, perhaps, the valid interpretation of contemporary Filipino politics. Family feud! As if the most important issues in the country are determined by such a narrow, constricted paradigm, by how families — particularly the well-entrenched oligarchic clans — act or do not act. Doronila mentions both the murder of Ninoy Aquino and the people’s EDSA revolution. Did these evolve simply out of family disputes? What Doronila and so many Filipinos incapable of deeper perception cannot see is that underlying our ancient and pervasive political malaise is the moral weakness of our leaders and, alas, of our own people.

As every anthropologist will attest, even the most so-called primitive societies, in the isolation of their caves and jungles, have taboos, rules that they follow with, perhaps, the very young as exceptions until they get initiated into adulthood. In much of the so-called civilized world, for instance, sexual promiscuity is simply not the norm. But in the Trobriand Islands in the Western Pacific, as I found out when I visited there in the ‘60s, when the Trobrianders reach puberty, sexual promiscuity is the practice and the miracle of it all is that pregnancy is extremely rare. But once the islanders get married, fidelity is held so sacred that the penalty for adultery is death.

Maybe the many centuries of colonial yoke contributed to our moral laxity in the sense that we allowed ourselves to be colonized. We may reason that our plight was inescapable; we were so many disparate tribes at war with one another. Isolated and divided, it was easy for the colonizer to force us into submission and exploitation.

We did eventually rebel — a consequence of our moral and intellectual awakening to which the colonialists themselves had inferentially imparted their ideas on ethics, law and order and the democratic ethos. Not that these were totally absent in the native soil; they strengthened what was latently already there and, at the same time, exposed the casuistry of the colonializers themselves in claiming such virtues when, as exploiters, they negated those very virtues by which they plundered.

Let us go back a bit to our own tortured history, to the aborted revolution of 1896. That revolution failed not because of the arrival of the Americans with their superior arms, or due to the impasse that resulted in the Pack of Biak-na-Bato in December 14, 1897. The momentum, the moving spirit of that revolution had flagged, the revolution was emasculated when the rebels accepted the money the Spaniards offered them; the leaders went into exile in Hong Kong with that largesse and were, shortly after, convinced to return to the Philippines, weakened further by American duplicity.

We can see from such historic developments why the revolution did not triumph; it was not so much a lack of intelligence in the leadership that was exploited by the Spaniards or the Americans — it was the paucity of that ethic that is the backbone of a nation, the moral strength of the leaders, disunited and self-seeking. The heirs of Rizal, Bonifacio, Gregorio del Pilar and Mabini saw it was better for them to collaborate with the Americans than to fight them.

So it came to pass that, for so many of us, collaboration with the colonialists — foreign as well as domestic — became politically palatable and acceptable.

When the Japanese came in 1941, collaboration with them would not have been so universally stigmatized had they treated Filipinos kindly. But by April 1942, only four months into the Occupation, the horrors of the Bataan Death March had already afflicted the national consciousness. The Filipinos who collaborated with them were marked. Some were assassinated by the guerrillas. But on the whole, many survived not just the stigma; they were appreciated, some were regarded as heroes, and many of them prospered.

The election of Jose P. Laurel, the puppet president of the Japanese, to the Senate and of other collaborators and the amnesty granted them by President Quirino shortly after the country gained independence from the United States in 1946 resolved politically the collaboration issue.

As a moral problem, however, it rankles the Filipino mind to this very day. Collaboration gnaws at the very heart of a nation; it is the ultimate treason because it seeks justification not so much in its defense of survival, but because it is committed in the name of that nation itself. This is what I meant when I said that the past weighs heavily on all of us for we have not banished the contradictions in our history, contradictions that have obstructed our unity and our striving for justice and freedom.

The victory of the Marcoses in the last election perhaps glosses over for them the horrible injustices that the Marcos dictatorship inflicted on our people. But as a moral issue, it negates the very validation they seek. The crimes of that dictatorship cannot be washed away by votes. A million mea culpas will not exonerate Imelda who was a partner in that dictatorship. But she, with the help of her children, can regain some credibility and, hopefully, even forgiveness from those who suffered under Marcos, by returning the people’s money that they hid abroad, and as elected officials, by performing their mandate honestly and well.

Whether it is religion, Confucianism, Hinduism or whatever, it is the ethical faith of a people that enables them to establish and maintain equally formidable justice systems and inculcate in their people through their institutions and culture the guilt, shame, or whatever core sanctions against crime and anarchy. It must always be remembered that punishment and its pain and stigma inhibit criminality and promote social harmony.

It is these values deeply embedded in officials and anointed power holders that force them to resign or even commit suicide if they are exposed. Japan is not Christian the way we profess we are but its justice system works efficiently. South Korea in the recent past packed off to prison two of its former presidents. When Richard Nixon resigned the US presidency after having been found to have wiretapped the opposition in the Watergate Hotel — that resignation affirmed the moral majesty of the American political system. Contrast this with an Erap, found guilty of plunder by our courts, who is immediately pardoned by a self-seeking and morally hobbled president.

Long, long ago, before the advent of Christ, the ancient Greeks formulated the ideals that would become the basis of politics and government. The philosopher Socrates prescribed the stringent rule that men must be both virtuous and excellent.

We have many excellent Filipinos, some in Congress, in the Judiciary and most of all, in the Executive. As is often our bane if not our curse, the forging of a nation is easily within our skills but we lack the will, the determination. What we often do not recognize is this will, this determination, is connected to the greatest determinant in human endeavor — morality, ethics, or whatever inchoate and ethereal spirit that revs our puny selves to fulfill the truest essence of our own humanity.


Shoeshine lessons
MANO-A-MANO By Adel Tamano (The Philippine Star) Updated June 27, 2010 12:00 AM

Illustration by REY RIVERA

I’m 10 years old and I’m in my dad’s dressing room. I’m sitting on the floor shining 20 pairs of my father’s shoes. My father has a shoe fetish. He claims that it was the result of his wanting new shoes, which my grandfather couldn’t afford, for his high school graduation. (My mother disputes this tale as my father’s lame attempt to instill values but, as a child, I believed him.) So, after his bout with shoe poverty, he is now the proud owner of some of the world’s best and most expensive shoes. (His favorite brand was Bally.)

That was 1980 — my job was to keep all of my dad’s shoes bright and shiny. It was a job I relished because it was our time — a luxury when you have eight siblings — and the opportunity for him to pass on life lessons through the experience of shining shoes. These were some of his best pieces of advice, delivered wearing a ratty white undershirt and ugly shorts (the de rigueur pang-bahay or house clothes) of fathers in the Eighties):

1. Strive for excellence, even if it’s something as simple as shining shoes. Maybe it was because of his Islamic upbringing — the Koran preached excellence in all things — but my father hated half-hearted work. When you do something, do it well, even something as mundane as shining shoes. There was a technique and logic to it — remove the dust first with a brush or soft cloth; choose the proper color of shoe polish; don’t put too much, especially with the liquid waxes, because it will over stain and destroy the leather; only buff the shoes, using a top-quality horse hairbrush, when they are completely dry; shine even the parts that people will not see, because although they won’t know that you missed a spot, you will know that you didn’t complete the job. As a matter of fact, my father explained to me that the very best shoes were painstakingly handcrafted and it was the shoemaker’s meticulous care and desire for making something both utilitarian and beautiful that enabled him to make such wonderful shoes.

2. Look your best. Either vanity is a learned behavior or it’s genetic. I don’t know but my own vanity, in the sense that I don’t like going even to the supermarket unless I look decent, seems to be a result of both. My father would constantly remind me about the value of looking neat, clean, and at your best. It was just as much about respecting others as it was about respecting yourself. A gentleman — or boy — should look good. Period. He told me that you can tell a lot about a person’s character — if he’s a slob or not, what his hobbies are, and if he cares about fashion, etc. — by just looking at his shoes. This was why we were taking pains to shine my father’s shoe collection: so he could always put his best foot forward.

3. You have to work harder than others because you are a minority. This may seem far removed from shining shoes but it isn’t. I think part of the reason why my father made such an effort to always look dapper was because he was actually quite insecure. He grew up in a society where Filipino Muslims faced discrimination and stereotyping — our current culture still has aspects of this — and so one method of overcoming this was to work hard and excel. Achievement, whether in politics, education, arts, etc., earns respect. It may be given grudgingly but it is given nonetheless. Since winning levels the playing field, my father said that we should act and look like a winner — and the first step was to have clean, well-shined shoes.

4. You got to have fire in your belly. Initiative was one characteristic my father valued and one of his lessons was that I should not have to wait for him to remind me to shine his shoes. I should remember to do it every week. What it really meant was don’t wait for others to push you to do what has to be done. Just do it. And initiative included appearance. He wanted me to look like I enjoyed my job. Meaning that part of initiative was doing things with zest because without enthusiasm, the results would be substandard.

5. A little luxury isn’t bad. My father would explain to me that, since he studied well and worked hard, he deserved a few luxuries — like having nice shoes. In fact, for him, his shoes were an affirmation that he had achieved some level of success. So now, as an adult who also works very hard and has studied well, I allow myself my luxuries. Perhaps, more importantly, I allow myself to take pleasure — actually it is really more a sense of gratefulness — in being able to buy things I like.

So now, every time I see a pair of beautifully shined men’s shoes, I cannot help but remember my father and the lessons he imparted. Strangely, I never inherited his desire for expensive shoes. For me cleanliness (because of my shoeshining experience) and style — not price or brand — are what I look for in a pair of shoes.

In hindsight, a lot of my own success was due to his lessons. And as I go through life, I see that shining his shoes has served me in very good stead. And my shoes always look brilliant.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How my autistic son taught me fatherhood

How my autistic son taught me fatherhood
MANO-A-MANO By Adel Tamano (The Philippine Star) Updated June 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Most Sundays, you will see me and my family at the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell — we’re the family hanging out by the fountain outside Zara. That’s my eldest son’s favorite spot. Santi has autism and like a lot of children with his condition, he is mesmerized by the running water.

Today we celebrate fatherhood and fathers all over the world are showered with gifts and taken to their favorite restaurants for being wonderful dads. I certainly appreciate all of these gestures but as the world says “thank you” to fathers, I will give thanks to my son for I believe that whatever I am as a father — if I have been a good one at all — can be attributed to Santi. Every day he teaches me the real meaning of fatherhood.

If you see my son, you’ll think he’s like any normal seven-year-old. But really, he isn’t. To begin with, he will not converse with you; sometimes he will jump around or flap his arms for no apparent reason; he will likely throw a tantrum if a schedule or pattern he’s used to is not followed; he gets agitated when we take detours to the mall. However, despite his condition, he is happy and healthy. He is thriving in school, not only because of an excellent teaching and caring environment, but also due to the fact that because he has a great team of therapists, doctors, teachers, yayas, and professionals supporting him.

It is because he isn’t a typical child that I have been forced to find the real meaning of fatherhood. I am like most men. I had typical father-and-son dreams of teaching Santi basketball (or in my case, volleyball), having him attend my alma mater, even just sharing jokes (eventually teaching him my favorite green ones when he is old enough), and watching movies together. But all these dreams were shattered when we found out that Santi had autism. An autistic child relates very differently from a typical child. So you throw all your preconceptions and expectations out the window. This means you will have to learn new skills and values in order to raise and live with an autistic child.

So on a mundane level, this means that when you eat out, you learn to put your preferences on hold, because Santi generally only eats fried chicken, which drastically limits the places you can go to (our thanks to all the restaurants that allow us to bring in Chicken McDo!) You learn how not to care if people are staring at you, sometimes even glaring at you, when your son is throwing a major tantrum in the middle of a mall. You learn how to give up a lot of personal luxuries in order to afford the therapies and treatments for your son. In the end, you learn patience, sacrifice, and acceptance. In short, you learn how to truly love your child; how to be a real father. This is not to say that fathers with typical children are not real fathers — I love and adore our other son, Mike — but the challenges, the frustrations, the worries are tenfold with Santi.

I have met fathers who feel differently about their autistic or special children — fathers who feel angry, ashamed, or embarrassed. They are surprised to hear our family talking candidly about Santi’s condition. They feel that their child is mostly a burden and they are weighed down by the challenges and costs of raising their child. Specialists refer to this as the Kubler-Ross stages of grief at having an autistic child — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We all deal with grief in our own ways and it is but natural to grieve, not so much at having an autistic child, but rather to grieve for the “normal child,” and the “normal” father-son relationship, that you will never have. Raising an autistic child is daunting and sometimes overwhelming. However, getting stuck at any of the stages prior to acceptance only hurts both the father and the child. Firstly, anger or depression will not change the fact that the child has autism. You cannot wish or fight the condition away. Secondly, while you will never have a typical father-son relationship, you can still have a fruitful and rich relationship with your child.

Santi has also strengthened my faith.

Another area in my life that has improved — and I believe this has made me a better father — is my faith. I don’t think that I would have been able to handle and accept his condition if it were not for my Islamic faith. One of my favorite verses from the Koran, the Muslim holy book, says that God does not put more burdens on a person than he can bear, so, by having Santi, I knew that I had what it took to be a father to my child and that I could face the challenges of his autism. In regard to the expense and costs, a particularly gruesome aspect of Islamic history was insightful for me: in pre-Islamic Arabia, families who had too many children would sometimes leave newborn babies, particularly female children, in the desert to perish. One of the humane innovations brought by Islam to Arabian society then was the prohibition of this atrocious practice. The Koran states “(k)ill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.” Of course, I would never even contemplate killing a child but the point is that God will provide for our children’s, particularly our autistic children’s, needs.

Finally, Santi is a joy to me. Fatherhood, should be, at its heart, a joyful experience. Last Christmas, in his school program, Santi danced with his class! To most parents that would be most ordinary, perhaps even a little boring, but for my wife and I, it was the best Christmas gift that we had ever received as a family. Seeing our son healthy, thriving and coping with school was an answer to our prayers and the happiness we felt at that moment more than made up for the years of personal sacrifice, expense, and worry that we had undergone as parents. I know that I, Weena, Santi and Mike have many more years of dealing with the challenges of autism but I’m actually looking forward to it. Santi has not only taught me to be a real father but he has also given us the ultimate blessing — he has made us into a true family

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I ran for the Senate and lost. It was a painful, heartbreaking experience. But it taught me a lot of things. Particularly about how you can lose and still strive to be a gentleman. What is a gentleman? Well, being a gentleman is not about breeding (haven’t we all seen too many well-bred jerks), wealth (some of my most financially-challenged friends are the epitomes of gentlemanliness), or manners (although real gentlemen should have good manners). Essentially, being a gentleman is doing what is right. So a gentleman acts with honesty, integrity, and graciousness. This means defining and being a gentleman is both difficult and simple at the same time. And although we all falter sometimes, being one is an aspiration that we all should struggle towards. For an aspiring gentleman like myself, this is how a gentleman loses an election –
1. A gentleman does not make excuses for his loss. Please don’t become a cliché. “No, I didn’t lose, I was cheated!” Only FPJ - and if your last name is Pimentel - had the right to say that. Almost all other politicians who have used this line were simply not gracious enough to accept their defeat with dignity. Sure, learn your lessons from your failure and understand why you didn’t make it. But don’t blame it on cheating, lack of money, or the immature electorate. Not only is giving excuses not the classy thing to do, it is, more importantly, mentally dishonest because you knew the dangers of running for public office from the very beginning.

2. A gentleman says thank you. Yes you lost but remember that a lot of people helped you during the campaign. Thank them. Especially your supporters who may even feel the loss worse than you do. Gratitude during the worst of times is a badge of great character and will remind the people who have helped you that they weren’t wrong in giving you their support.

3. A gentleman is not afraid to cry. Losing sucks. No amount of rationalization will change the painful fact that despite your effort, good intentions, and sacrifice, the voters still did not choose you. What’s important – whether you shed actual tears or not – is that you fully accept your loss, mourn it properly, gain some wisdom, and then move forward. Hopefully, onto better things.

4. A gentleman will support the winners. You may feel that you are brighter, more honest, and better qualified than the victor and it may be even true. However, the fact is that he was chosen by the voters and you weren’t. Since he was given the mandate to govern, as a good citizen, you must cooperate with our elected leaders to help our country succeed. A sense of statesmanship dictates setting aside your personal feelings towards your political opponents for the greater good. Of course, the alternative is to work to undermine the next administration. That is the way of the “trapo” or traditional/transactional politician who views politics not as public service but simply as a power game. Let us make one thing clear: Gentlemen are not trapos and trapos – no matter how rich, well-bred, connected, or educated – will never be gentlemen. On a personal level, while I didn’t vote for the President-elect, at the end of the day, he is as much my president as he is for those who voted and campaigned for him. So if I can do something in my own capacity to help his administration succeed, then I shouldn’t hesitate to do it.

5. A gentleman keeps his promises. Candidates will promise the moon and stars to the voters. After the elections, they get a chronic case of selective amnesia. A promise is a promise and just because you lost doesn’t mean that your advocacies or the help that you promised your potential constituents doesn’t count anymore. Keep your pledges and, whether or not you do decide to run again, people will appreciate you as a man of his word.

6. A gentleman, if he stumbles, gets back on his feet quickly. Finally, don’t let your electoral loss be your excuse to become an alcoholic, neglect your business or your profession, or abandon your family. Your losing an election does not mean that you are, therefore, a loser forever; so don’t act like one. The world does not stop turning because of your personal defeats. Pick yourself up and move forward. Remember, even the most hyper-competitive and successful athlete of all time, Michael Jordan, had to wait seven long years in the NBA before he finally got his NBA Championship. He didn’t let his years of failure destroy him. Instead, he used them as motivation and fuel to become perhaps the best to ever play the game of basketball. That, in fact, is the best lesson there is for anyone going through some life-failure: that losing may even be the best thing for you, if you use it to your advantage to grow, learn, and act with graciousness and integrity. And you know what they eventually call people who genuinely learn from their failures and mistakes: winners.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I'm going to brag, carry my own "bangko", and be "mayabang" right now, so please forgive me: One of the good things I did as President of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila was to turn our old, decrepit, dirty, cockroach and rat infested, and expensive canteen into a modern, clean, air-conditioned, and affordable canteen. It was the pride of the school. Our students and teachers would even invite their friends to dine in the canteen just to show it off. I worked very hard to change an eyesore of a canteen to a place of pride where our students and employees could relaz, study, enjoy the airconditioning and socialize. Unfortunately, according to this text message I just received, this is the state of our canteen now -

"It is sad to know that students with their own baon, are no longer allowed to eat in the canteen, if seen eating(,) they are forced to leave their tables, dinuduro duro, hinahampas ang mesa ng patpat, (at) sinisigawan ang students."

This never would have happened when I was President. Firstly, since I would regularly inspect the grounds of the university, the staff and employees would usually be on their best behavior. Secondly, I have always felt that schools exist for students. They are the raison d'etre for a university's very being. So the guiding principle for any school is the welfare of the students. So when you disrespect students, you violate the very foundation of for having a school. This is why our policies were always, in a sense, pro-student or progressive in favor of student rights.

Unfortunately, and I hope this is not true, but it seems the student-oriented policies have quickly changed. In fact, a faculty member tweeted me about how the new concessionaire was maltreating the students, stating a situation similar to the text message I received.

What's happening to our beloved university? How can we teach our students the value of respect and dignity when we treat them like crap? I'm very angry about this and I hope that this isn't true. I will call the Executive Vice President and the other officials about this so something can be done to remedy this situation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Thank you to everyone who tweeted and sent comments to my blog suggesting a title for my new column at the Philippine Star's Lifestyle Section. The title I've chosen - drumroll please - is "Mano-a-mano." Not only does the title refer to my surname but it also evokes the personal, hard-hitting, and direct - no intermediaries - direction that I want my column to have. Like my blog, my column will be a no spin i.e. "bola-free" zone. My first article will be published on Sunday!

Monday, June 7, 2010


I love vampire movies and books. I watched the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula about ten times. I've read all the Sookie Stackhouse novels, save for the latest one which is not yet available at Powerbooks. But I just can't get Twilight. Now, after seeing this clip, I am enlightened.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I'm going to write a weekly column for the Philippine Star's Lifestyle section, For Men. It will be coming out every Wednesday and will, naturally, focus on issues that impact on or are of interest to those of us who have a Y-chromosome. Need ing a catchy title, I sent a tweet for some suggestions and here are some of what I got -

1. "Mandate"
2. "A-Men"
3. "Mano Ta Mano" - About five people suggested this
4. "Legally Stylish"
5. "Delta Man"
6. "Whattaman"
7. "Man About Town"

Great suggestions. If you have any other ideas or if you particularly like one of the suggestions, post a comment here. Or send me a tweet.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

F. Sionil Jose's Open Letter to Noynoy

My wife, Weena, wise woman that she is, emailed me F. Sionil Jose's open letter to Noynoy. I very much appreciate the letter's frank and candid tone. It does not pander. Yet, at the same time, it remains hopeful, giving President-elect Aquino the benefit of the doubt and encouraging him to "redeem (his) father's aborted promise."

Like Mr. Jose, I did not vote for President-elect Aquino but since he obtained the highest number of votes, he is MY President as well. And I want him and his administration to succeed. I believe that after the heat of the electoral battle has subsided, the next step should be for all Filipinos, regardless of party affiliations, to work together to address the great challenges of poverty and corruption.
Moreover, in the long run, the success of the Aquino administration will benefit all of us.

So best of luck to you Noy, you have my prayers and like Mr. Jose, I expect much from you.

An open letter to Noynoy
HINDSIGHT By F Sionil Jose (The Philippine Star) Updated May 23, 2010 12:00 AM

Dear Noynoy,

You are now swamped with suggestions and advice, but just the same, I hope you’ll have time to read what this octogenarian has to say.

You were not my choice in the last election but since our people have spoken, we must now support you and pray that you prevail. But first, I must remind you of the stern reality that your drumbeaters ignore: you have no noble legacy from your forbears. It is now your arduous job to create one yourself in the six years that you will be the single most powerful Filipino. Six years is too short a time — the experience in our part of the world is that it takes at least one generation — 25 years — for a sick nation to recover and prosper. But you can begin that happy process of healing.

Bear in mind that the past weighs heavily on all of us because of the many contradictions in it that we have not resolved, whose resolutions would strengthen us as a nation. This past is now your burden, too. Let us start with the fact that your grandfather collaborated with the Japanese. Your father was deeply aware of this, its stigma, its possibilities. He did not leave any legacy because he did not become president. He was a brilliant and courageous politician. He was an enterprising journalist; he had friends in journalism who can attest to his effulgent vision, who did not profit from his friendship, among them Nestor Mata, Gregorio Brillantes — you may consult them. I cannot say I did not profit — he bought many books from my shop and when he was in Marcos’s prison, your mother brought books from my shop to him.

Forgive me for giving you this unsolicited advice. First, beware of hubris; you are surrounded by panderers who will tell you what is nice to hear. You need to be humble always and heed your conscience. When Caesar was paraded in ancient Rome before the cheering multitudes, there was always a man chanting behind him: “Remember, you are mortal.”

I say to you, remember, the poor — some of them in your own hacienda — will be your ultimate judge.

From your comfortable and privileged cocoon, you know so little of our country and people. Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them.

Be the revolutionary your father wanted to be and don’t be scared or wary of the word “revolution.” It need not be always bloody. EDSA I was not. Your father wanted to destroy the most formidable obstacle to our progress — the Oligarchy to which you and your family belong. To succeed, you have to betray your class. If you cannot smash the oligarchy, at least strive to have their wealth develop this country, that they bring back the billions they stashed abroad. You cannot do this in six years, but you can begin.

Prosecute the crooks. It is difficult, thankless and even dangerous to do this. Your mother did not do it — she did not jail Imelda who was the partner in that conjugal dictatorship that plundered this nation. Watch her children — they were much too young to have participated in that looting but they are heirs to the billions which their parents stashed abroad. Now the Marcoses are on the high road to power, gloating, snickering at our credulity and despicable amnesia.

You know the biggest crooks in and out of government, those powerful smugglers, thieves, tax cheats — all you really need is guts to clobber them. Your father had lots of it — I hope he passed on to you most of it.

And most of all, now that you have the muscle to do it, go after your father’s killers. Blood and duty compel you to do so. Cory was only his wife — you are the anointed and only son. Your regime will be measured by how you resolve this most blatant crime that robbed us of a true leader.

And, finally, your mother. We loved her — she united us in ousting an abominable dictator. But she, too, did not leave a shining legacy for her presidency was a disaster. She announced a revolutionary government but did nothing revolutionary. She promised land reform but did not do it. And most grievous of all — she transformed the EDSA I revolution into a restoration of the oligarchy.

She became president only because her husband was murdered and you became president elect only because your mother died. Still, you are your father’s son and may you now — for the good of this country and people — scale the heights he and your mother never reached.

I am 85 and how I despair over how three generations of our leaders failed! Before I go, please let me see this unhappy country begin to be a much better place than the garbage dump our leaders and people have made it. You can be this long awaited messiah but only if you are brave enough and wise enough to redeem your father’s aborted promise.

Hopefully yours,

F. Sionil Jose

Saturday, May 29, 2010


"Whatcha talkin' about, Willis?"

Gary Coleman died Friday. I will add him to the list of pop culture stars connected to my childhood that have passed away. Foremost, being Michael Jackson. Anyone who was a kid in Manila in the 80's grew up watching the diminutive, fast talking, wise-cracking comedian. I have pretty much forgotten the details of the show but I do remember watching the show with my brothers and sisters in our parents' room and enjoying both the show and the feeling of laughing with your family. For that, I thank you Mr. Coleman. Rest now.

The Bearable Lightness of Losing

I ran for the Philippine Senate. I lost. Five million Filipinos voted for me. A lot of them were Filipino Muslims from Lanao del Sur and the Autnomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Additionally, many young people, mostly college students, not only gave me their vote but also actively campaigned for me. But it wasn't enough. Far from it. Anyway, I knew I was a long shot from the start - little money, a neophyte candidate for public office, and running against established Senators, movies stars, and scions of the biggest and most powerful political dynasties. So I wasn't surprised at my loss. But it was painful nonetheless. Excruciatingly so for about a couple of hours. But I refused to dwell on it for more than a day. That's just my way: don't dwell on things I cannot do anything about and move forward as quickly as possible.

Back to reality. I took a week off - one wonderful, blissful week - spending it with my wife and two sons. No travel outside the country, we just stayed in Manila - except for one road trip to Batangas - because I missed my home after spending 90 days campaigning all over the Philippines. I relearned the joys of cable-surfing.

After that short vacation, On Tuesday, I was back in my Law Office in Ortigas. Time to earn a living for me and my family. In fact, it was time to start "really" living. Let me explain: my brief stint as a politican and a candidate has opened my eyes not only to the painful and heartbreaking realities about our political system but also to how much of Philippine politics is unreal, merely smoke and mirrors, illusions to fool the masses, get their votes, and hold on to power. Of course, it isn't always that way, there are some people in Philippine politics who have integrity, ethics, and vision. And there are times when the system works and we get good leaders. However, a lot of our politics is simply unreal and untruthful. So I look forward to the simple pursuits of working, serving my clients, earning a living, and spending more time with my family.

Finally, it is the family stuff that makes losing bearably light. I get to spend my days with my wife and kids. They remind me that my self-worth is not predicated on the number of votes I get but rather on what kind of father and husband I am and the measure of my character.