“There is nothing sadder than a mosquito sucking on a mummy. Give it up, little guy.” – Jack Handy
Popular support lends legitimacy to a cause. That’s why not all strikes and protests are perwisyo, a nuisance. Some are blessings, like EDSA 1. And EDSA 2 also, for one couple. That’s the first lesson rabble-rousers learn. And that’s the reason why PISTON’s George San Mateo, he who is to the public transport sector what Rep. Mikey Arroyo is to security guards, and Bayan Muna’s media face, Rep. Teddy Casino, got all onion-skinned when DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) secretary Mar Roxas called their dismal nationwide transport strike perwisyo.
It hurts a do-gooder to be called a nuisance, it bumps him off his high horse. Evangelists knocking on your door believe they are on a mission from God. Tell them to come back in the next life but don’t call them perwisyo. Communists trashing democratically-elected governments believe they are on a mission from Mao. Call them anything but don’t call them perwisyo. But I will.
Perwisyos know that there are times when proselytizing will not do the trick. The second lesson in “How to Win Friends and Influence the Masses”, the title of Mao’s famous little red bible, is “If pie in sky not working, a blow to head will.”
And so perwisyos are never remiss in bridging the gap between rhetoric and reality. They engage regularly in strikes spiced with photo-op plankings, extortion disguised as revolutionary taxation, kidnappings, assassinations, bombings, and periodic internal purges to prove that they mean business. By the way, those activities are not perwisyo, they are for everybody’s own good.
Perwisyos believe they can regain the ground they lost because of political miscalculations in 1986 by raising bogus issues, like blaming the government for the global price of oil. They are betting that people are not that well-informed; ignorance is their best friend. So they propose artful solutions to a problem that cannot be solved unless the country takes to bicycles:
“Repeal the oil deregulation law!”
And what, bring back the Oil Price Stabilization Fund? Been there, done that, wouldn’t want to ever go there again. Bankruptcy is not good. Unless you are out to destroy democracy.
“Remove the VAT on oil!”
Will that bring oil prices down or will it only shift the pain? VAT (value-added tax) is an add-on that goes to social services. But a democratic capitalist society providing a safety net is anathema to perwisyos.
At any rate, when global oil prices force perwisyos to ride bicycles, they will stop bitching about the VAT on oil. They will bitch about the weather. And blame democracy for that too.
“Sue the oil companies for conniving to fix prices!”
Good luck proving a cartel. Oil company executives will claim it is their duty to earn maximum profits for their shareholders; if one company can sell at a high price then why should another company do anything different?
“Let’s invite more oil companies, to destroy the cartel!”
Okay, that sounds good. Then again more oil companies might just make for a bigger and more powerful cartel. The bottom line is that oil companies are not going to get into a race to the bottom, they will not compete over who can go out of business faster.
“Ban private property! Criminalize profits! Nationalize everything!”
Wait, I’m getting carried away, that’s for later. Let’s go back to the issue at hand.
The fact is the government can only nibble at the edges, like giving out discount cards here and there, because it has no control over the global price of oil. But it can stop oil smuggling. Admittedly, that will not bring down the price of oil, but prosecuting smugglers will send some oil company executives to jail.
Now you could say that’s a small consolation but I say that when you’re extremely pissed and looking for someone, anything to strike at, seeing an oil company executive behind bars is like smoking a good cigar. And that’s definitely more satisfying than sucking on the mummy of Mao.
Complainant received immediate lacerations of credibility – Jimmy Breslin
Taking control away from people who would otherwise misspend appropriations meant for the hiring of personnel for unfilled positions is a great idea. That’s what President Aquino thought when he created the Miscellaneous Personnel and Benefit Fund (MPBF) for the proposed 2012 national budget. But some people think otherwise. They say that transferring to the budget secretary control over unused funds for the hiring of personnel violates the Constitution.
Speaking for the Supreme Court, Midas Marquez said the MPBF raises questions on “the separation of powers, fiscal autonomy, and non-reduction of the judiciary’s budget from the previous year.”
The Constitutional Fiscal Autonomy Group comprising the Judiciary and the Constitutional Commissions added,
“While it may be true that in filling up vacant positions, the appropriate funds required therefore may be sourced from the MPBF, the consequent scenario, however, is that the agency would still have to go through the rigors of requesting the funds from DBM with all necessary supporting documents and waiting for the release thereof.
“Moreover, we need the funds in the exigencies of carrying out our respective constitutional task. There is, thus, no gainsaying that this is an infringement of the fiscal autonomy granted to the CFAG, which the Constitution has guaranteed and is clearly a breach of its flexibility in fund utilization of approved appropriations and in the use of savings.”
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said “the power of allocating funds belongs to this Congress and I don’t think it is correct for the executive to impound these funds in violation of the Constitution.”
Rep. Edcel Lagman reiterated that the “impoundment of the funds for unfilled positions, which were previously appropriated in the separate budgets of co-equal bodies and Constitutional Commissions enjoying fiscal autonomy, violates the Constitution.”
Those arguments will stand in any court of law. But they will fall in the court of public opinion because people are tired of officials drawing on funds intended for other uses to pay for bonuses, perks, retirement pabaons, and other self-serving expenses. People are also sick of the opacity that comes with fund conversions.
In the words of Rep. Neptali Gonzalez, “what’s wrong with advocating transparency? Kasi mahirap naman ‘yan kung kukunin mo (ang budget) pero wala ka naman palang interes na punuan ng mga tao yung mga kinikuha mong positions na may pondo na at gagamitin for bonuses. Inuubusan mo lahat, wala kang ibinabalik sa national coffers tapos next year na naman hihingi ka na naman ng same amount, hindi mo na naman gagastusin. Aba, sobra naman na ‘yan, panlalamang na yan at panloloko na sa tao.”
The MPBF addresses the concerns of the public over wasteful and capricious spending. It centralizes accountability. The buck stops with the budget secretary. He alone will be held responsible for every centavo of the P23.4 billion reserved for filling 100,000 vacant government positions. And that will force him to be careful about not throwing away any of it.
And so it’s common sense versus the rule of law. On the one hand is the practical necessity for a vaccine against fund conversion, on the other are principles enshrined in our Constitution. But if Congress, the Judiciary, and the Constitutional Commissions open their books for public scrutiny, if they present budget requests that include only those positions they can fill within the budget year, then there would be no need for the MPBF. And there won’t be a constitutional crisis.
I like your Christ but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. – Mahatma Gandhi
Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros took issue with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma for claiming that Mama Mary will be happy if Catholics fight the RH bill. He wrote, “Palma may not know it, but he has just produced one of the richest ironies of late.”
De Quiros said that, unlike Mama Mary, bishops exhibit an astonishing ability “to be passionate about non-existent children and scornful of existent ones.”
“He has a point,” I told my friend.
“No, I think he missed an opportunity,” she replied.
“Instead of getting into an argument with the archbishop, he should have thanked him for being candid.”
“What good will that do?”
“He would have moved the controversy over the RH bill from the public square to the churchyard, where it belongs,” she replied.
“What do you mean?”
“The bishops’ objection to the bill is parochial. It involves their faith and morals. It does not concern me and millions of non-Catholics.”
“But aren’t you even interested in what they have to say?” I asked.
“Frankly, no. Although I must confess that Archbishop Palma’s statement piqued my curiosity. I’d love to hear from him how Mama Mary will let you know that she is happy. Will manna fall from heaven so that nobody goes hungry even if you keep reproducing like rabbits?”
“That’s disrespectful! You’re mocking the archbishop!” I exclaimed.
“Why, because I take his statement at face value?”
“Because it doesn’t work that way!” I was practically screaming.
“Tell that to the Fatima kids,” she retorted. “Tell that to Cardinal Rosales.”
“What does the cardinal have to do with it?”
“He believes it works that way.”
“Cardinal Rosales told you that?” I asked, incredulous.
“As a matter of fact, he told everybody that. After several typhoons and the Mayon volcano erupted in 2009, he said, ‘Look at the positive side of the disaster. God wants us to live in compassion, love, mercy and sharing. Without these events we would have totally forgotten about our less fortunate brothers and sisters.’”
“You don’t understand,” I said shaking my head.
“What don’t I understand? Rosales pointed to typhoons and a volcanic eruption as messages from God, reminders that caused untold suffering to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. That’s not a nice way to remind people to be compassionate, loving, merciful, and sharing, is it? But God did it anyway. So why can’t God send manna to show Mama Mary is happy?”
“You’re nuts!” I said.
“Hey, I’m not the one who claimed to know what goes on inside Mama Mary’s head!” she snapped back.
“This is going nowhere.” I stood up to leave.
“Wait, please…” She begged.
“Okay, but let’s talk about something else,” I said.
“One last point and then we move on,” she promised.
She began, “I’ve never seen people as devoted as you, nowhere else in the world will you find Catholics praying and going to Church as often as you people do…”
“True,” I replied, with pride.
“But what do you people get for all your prayers and offerings?”
I shrugged my shoulders, indicating that payback was not that important to us.
“Do you want me to tell you anyway?” she asked.
“Okay,” I replied.
“Fourth place in the Miss Universe pageant.”
“A different language is a different vision of life.” – Federico Fellini
An essay on the English language by Bulletin columnist James Soriano was met with so much protest and condemnation it became a trending topic in social media. Unfortunately, by the time I heard about it, the Bulletin already removed it from its archives. Wimps. Now I have to rely on excerpts from Billy Esposo’s Sunday column in the Star. Tragic. (Just kidding, Billy.)
At any rate, it seems that the majority of those who read James’ put down of the national language reacted like some Catholics did to Mideo Cruz’s Christ collage. They were outraged.
I was not offended by the Christ collage because human intellect needs sacrilege and blasphemy if it is to continue evolving. I was not offended by James’ essay either. I felt sorry for him. Because he believes that his ability to speak English is his wang-wang. And that is neither sacrilege nor blasphemy. It’s simply stupid. Even as satire.
I hate to disappoint you but English is just another means to communicate with other humans. English is not a magic potion, speaking it does not endow you with special powers. When you speak English in English-speaking countries you are just like everyone else there. And when you speak it in countries where they don’t speak English… well you will be different. And different is not the same as special.
“I may be disconnected from being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections.”
No, James. That would be like Mommy D. saying, “My Hermes handbag will get me into the salons of the old rich.”
Was your mother responsible for your pathetic attitude? “As a toddler, my first study materials were a set of flash cards that my mother used to teach me the English alphabet. My mother made home conducive to learning English: all my storybooks and coloring books were in English, and so were the cartoons I watched and the music I listened to. She required me to speak English at home. She even hired tutors to help me learn to read and write in English.”
I don’t think so. I think she only wanted to teach you a second language, with great difficulty.
Was it your school? “In school I learned to think in English. We used English to learn about numbers, equations and variables. With it we learned about observation and inference, the moon and the stars, monsoons and photosynthesis. With it we learned about shapes and colors, about meter and rhythm. I learned about God in English, and I prayed to Him in English.”
I don’t think so. I think your school was only making do with what was available because in this country we do not print textbooks in our native language.
So who is to blame for your belief that Pilipino is inferior, that it is “the language of the streets: it was how you spoke to the tindera when you went to the tindahan, what you used to tell your katulong that you had an utos, and how you texted manong when you needed sundo na”?
I think you acquired that pathetic attitude all by yourself. As a coping mechanism. Because you patronize tindahans instead of supermarkets, because you put down tinderas like a stupid tourist who faults locals for not speaking his language.
Now I don’t know about your personal circumstances but you did mention that you ride jeepneys and you address your driver as manong. So let’s talk maids.
A privileged lady once told me that if you have to talk to your katulong in Pilipino then that means you either cannot afford to hire one who can speak English to begin with or you don’t have the wang-wang to phone your local bishop to tell him that you have a new maid just in from some godforsaken province and to please take her to the convent so that his nuns can teach her how to speak English and be a good maid.
So I asked her, “Why send a katulong to a convent instead of Maid Academy?”
“Well,” she replied, “that’s because we are good Catholics and we want out katulongs to learn the right values as well. Because we know that if we send our katulongs to Maid Academy then chances are they will learn not only English, right values, and good maidsmanship but also how to text, twitter, and facebook. And then they will connect with an English-speaking foreigner and marry him. But we don’t consider that a problem, as a matter of fact we would be happy for the maid.”
However that would be a problem for someone who seems to have no other qualities other than his English to differentiate himself from his katulong. Can you imagine running into her and her American better-off-than-you husband while you are bargain hunting at Serramonte Center with your English-as-a-second-language immigrant relatives from Daly City? “Hi sir James, this is my husband Jack. I’m teaching him Pilipino.”
Anyway, where did you get the idea that you can pontificate on something you know nothing about? “(Pilipino) is neither the language of the classroom and the laboratory, nor the language of the boardroom, the court room, or the operating room. It is not the language of privilege.”
Tell that to the tindera. And don’t be shocked if she replies, “Pilipino is not the language of call centers either.” In other words, they speak English in call centers but call centers are not exactly places where you would go to rub elbows with the privileged.
Allow me to also point out that your notion of English being “the language of the learned” is absolutely wrong. Because to speak English and to be learned is not the same thing. Sarah Palin speaks English, duh.
And that brings me to my last point. Knowing English is not good enough. You also have to speak it with the correct accent. Now there’s no right or wrong accent per se. But there’s the accent of the privileged and the accent of everyone else. And I’m sure you don’t want to be included among the everyone else because “connections”, as you proclaimed, is important to you.
So you have to learn to speak English like the privileged. You must hang out with them, pretend to be one of them. Fortunately for you, your school, the Ateneo, is a school where you can learn how to fake good breeding. But, unfortunately, you also have to deal with pedigree. And there’s nothing your Alma Mater can do about that because pedigree is all about being a sperm from a long line of privileged sperms.
I guess what I’m trying to say is you might be better off learning Pilipino and embracing it instead of deluding yourself that English is your wang-wang.
THE HIGH LIFE AND WILD TIMES OF RESTY FABUNAN
By Eric S. Caruncho
One of the greatest rock’n’roll shows I ever saw, bar none, happened in 1971.
I was a high school junior, your typical long-haired pre-Martial Law pseudo-hippie, and completely under the sway of Cream, Led Zeppelin, and the wildest of them all, Jimi Hendrix, who had just gone to an early grave the year before.
I don’t remember how it happened, but somehow someone had booked the Psyclones to play at our school. Since we didn’t have an auditorium big enough, the concert took place in the adjacent church.
Even in those days before the Internet, we knew the best bands in the land came from Olongapo City, and the best band in Olongapo was without a doubt the Psyclones.
As early as 4:20 we started getting psyched for the show, but nothing could have prepared us for what happened that night. The band was a power trio—just guitar, bass and drums—but they created a huge wall of sound that completely engulfed the audience as they ran through their set. By the end of show we were completely dazed and confused, and screaming hysterically for more.
That’s when Resty Fabunan, the Psyclones’ lead guitarist, pulled out all the stops. (more…)
For the second time in 4 years, the Philippine Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs nominated Sen. Miriam Santiago to the International Court of Justice. Santiago lost to the Somalian nominee the last time she vied for the post.
Why was Miriam nominated again?
Last July 28, 2011 an official Senate press release reported,
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the subcommittee on the International Criminal Court, was obviously ill with hypertension, when she arrived at the Senate.
She presided over the public hearing on whether the Senate should concur with the ratification by President Aquino of the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court.
Santiago arrived pale and audibly panting at the hearing room where she apologized to Sen. Loren Legarda, DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario, Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin, Gen. Eduardo Oban, AFP chief of staff, and others present.
Legarda called for Santiago’s aides to assist her and to give water to her, but Santiago said “this is beyond water.”
She visibly improved while the hearing was taking place, but she kept it short by summarizing the pros and cons of the treaty herself.
She told media she has been dizzy and suffering from hypertension for the past two months, but forced herself to comply with her Senate duties, because she does not want to go on sick leave again.
Before the last Senate recess, Santiago was on sick leave for some six months because of hypothyroidism.
Santiago, who is scheduled to defend the RH bill this Monday, 1 August, said that she would proceed to defend the Rome Statute the next Monday, 8 August.
She told media she has been under medication for hypertension, but cannot increase the dosage because it might incapacitate her from work.
For the past several years, Santiago has at various times cited chronic fatigue syndrome, hypertension, and hypothyroidism as reasons for her extended leaves from the Senate.
If she’s not healthy enough for the Senate, why nominate her for the ICJ?
Does the government believe that the ICJ will somehow miraculously restore Miriam’s good health?
Miriam is not healthy enough to fulfill her duties as a member of the ICJ.
Besides, she’s nuts.
MIRIAM MEETS HER MATCH