Once upon a time

It is a difficult day for writing. I suspect it is a difficult day to do many things, but I am a writer with a deadline and very little to say, so I’ll start with that. It’s a difficult day for writing.

Some days it all comes clear: a thesis, a structure, a narrative arc, a second sentence that flows from the first. Today I will ask for indulgence, because there are too many voices in my head and none of them is willing to let me speak first. This column is going to be a story about stories, and I will lend this space to them, if only to quiet some of the voices.
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Jun 30, 2012 under Opinions | 2 comments

After Gani

This is not the column I was planning to write today. I did not plan to write anything at all, was going to play hooky from responsible almost-adulthood and spend the day in bed passed out under the covers. I have learned, in the most painful way possible, that it is better to get hammered for irresponsibility than be awake at 3 in the morning on a Sunday agonizing over a grammatical error left on the second sentence of the ninth paragraph of a published column pumped out by panic, smoke and high levels of caffeine.
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Mar 3, 2012 under Opinions, People | 3 comments

Watch the sky

There were already gunshots hours before the mountain fell. The sentries say they fired into the air again and again – a warning to the villagers to run, as small rocks and soil began to slide.

The landslide occurred at three in the morning at the hilly portion of Sitio Uno to Sitio 700, a gold-panning area situated in Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley. “Said incident,” according to the Jan. 14 report signed by Director Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, “occurred due to continuous rains in recent days. Dozens were buried alive while several shanties made with light materials were wiped out.”
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Feb 25, 2012 under Opinions, People | no comment

The Corona

In the room where the chief of the truth is to be tried, the chairs are blue, the air blasts cold, and grim-faced Senate employees stalk between gallery rows to tap the shoulders of the sleeping public interest. This is where the pompous pontificate and the howling is hysterical, and if the howlers wear robes instead of overused suits, it is an acceptable sideshow to the circus of the surreal. The respondent, one Renato Corona, is given the gift of prosecutors so oddly incompetent that judges scramble to take their places. The 45 pieces of property allegedly undeclared by Chief Justice Corona is reduced to maybe 20, to maybe five, to maybe it was someone else who said 45. Documents of bank accounts appear magically under garage doors, and along Senate hallways wearing cloaks of invisibility.

The President of the Republic claims there is nothing personal in his crusade against Corona. He is fighting for justice, and because he seeks enormous changes, it is only natural that his enemy is a juggernaut. A blindfolded woman carrying scales, he says, symbolizes justice. Our duty, says Benigno Aquino III, son of saints and heroes, is to return the blindfold to Lady Justice and once again balance the scales.
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Feb 18, 2012 under Opinions, People | 4 comments

The 24th ‘wang’

This column welcomes you to mayhem, into the center of the marching mad. A terrorist suspect’s tortured face headlines national television, while a half-dozen mothers mourn the flag-wrapped coffins of their decapitated sons. The administration offers clemency to a man four days after he dies of lung cancer, while the government calls his death “a supervening event” and the delay a failure in communications.
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Aug 6, 2011 under Opinions | 2 comments


Under the bridge in E. Rodriguez Avenue, by the side of the river, a woman named Girly Bonza stands guard. Her legs are knee-deep in murky water. The home she watches is a tent propped on stilts. She is seven months pregnant, and she is worried about losing her bed. When the waters rise, so does her home.

Girly is a single mother to four boys and a baby girl. The children are in school, and they are good boys, smart boys. She has had three husbands, and knows that the child will be the last – she has learned not to look for love.
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Jul 16, 2011 under Opinions | no comment

The Law of Sara Duterte

It could have been Asiong Salonga swaggering into the slums; hair gelled and fists ready, providing the opening sequence for the presidency of a man named Joseph Estrada. It could have been Bong Revilla, Alyas Pogi, belly sucked in, bandanna wrapped around his head, half-naked women clinging to his pudgy arms. It could have been any one of them—Fernando Poe Jr., Robin Padilla, Lito Lapid riding in as Leon Guerrero. Roll the music, signal the extras, let the heroine scream, let the villain laugh. Enter the hero.
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Jul 9, 2011 under Opinions, Politics | 3 comments