Six days after

High noon, May 10. A Fat first smack-smacking against the cracked yellow wall, the mouth with the cracked red lipstick flapping open and closed, her gay lieutenant yapping in refrain. Cheating, screams the pudgy woman, as the madding crowd outside the classroom cheers. Inside, the teachers in white and stripes continue to count, shoulders wincing at each pounded fist. The numbers join the rabble, greasy elbow to empty gut, the hallway shrinks, and a teacher is shoved and mobbed.
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May 15, 2010 under Elections | no comment

The rise and fall of the Yellow King

It is one day before the National Elections, and I do not have a candidate. Tomorrow, I will find the candidate whose name I can put on my ballot. Today I will write something else.

Understand that I accept the idea of both a lesser evil and an imperfect president. To work in the news, even in the less regimented area of opinion, has made it impossible to take much of anything on faith. In the narrative I know, the murderer of 50 will find his way back to the mansion with pink walls, the moral hypocrite will again rise to the top of the senatorial surveys, and the red queen will carry her throne to the northern court past the armies against her.
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May 8, 2010 under Elections, Opinions | no comment

People call me Dick

There are many and varied reasons why Richard Gordon is not number one in the presidential race. It is because the public is made up of fools who idolize candidates by virtue of a free T-shirt. It is because of survey companies that are “stealing the people’s minds” by publishing false ratings to a conditioned public. It is because the media are biased. It is because the public mind is unable to understand he is better than those Aquinos, or that Villlar. It’s because of the oligarchies and monopolies and the sad state of Philippine democracy.

That Gordon is not leading the charge to the Palace cannot possibly be because of Gordon himself. In the wonderful world of the man called Dick, the flowers bloom red, the sky is papered with his posters, and crowds of ballot-clutching jingle-singing voters reach out to touch his hand.
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May 1, 2010 under Elections, Politics | no comment

After the glory

She sits on a striped green couch in a white suit and gold-and-white heels, bare legs demurely pressed together, hand to chin, all wide-eyed wonder as she poses questions to the plump columnist in the big armchair. “Is that Camus? It’s a French saying? You know, I used to read Camus a lot. Would you know how that line translates into French?”

The mirrored walls reflect a gold salver from the King of Malaysia, and a marble elephant from the Prime Minister of India. She talks of communists with a smile, preaches about prayer, and talks of reforestation and disaster reduction and opening the Press Office on Saturdays. “I didn’t know Sunday had the biggest readership.”
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Apr 24, 2010 under Politics | no comment


This is a story about death in a place they call the Promised Land, where the heat punches with a sweaty fist, and a crescent moon rises with the Christian sun.

It happened on a lonely hill in a quiet town, where every bridge is a checkpoint manned by young men in fatigues. Esmael Mangudadatu, Buluan vice mayor, threatened with violence, sending his wife Genalyn, his sister, his nieces and his lawyers to file his certificate of candidacy because he believed women would be safe. Esmael Mangudadatu, inviting a pack of journalists to cover the event, because he believed his family would be safe where the media were. Esmael Mangudadatu, answering the last phone call from a wife who told him they had been stopped by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.’s private army.
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Nov 28, 2009 under Elections, General, People | 2 comments

March to mayhem

It is November in Manila, days before the deadline for filing candidacies. On Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada with 11 other senators signed Resolution 1472 absolving Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. of ethical charges in connection with the C-5 Road extension project, long before a committee report was officially released by the Senate.
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Nov 22, 2009 under Elections, Politics | 2 comments

Jesus in Yellow

The grass is yellow outside the gates of Hacienda Luisita. Jesus walked here once.

His father watched him die, almost five years to this day. Nov. 16 was when close to 15,000 tenants gathered to protest their treatment under the Cojuanco-owned Hacienda Luisita. Dispersal units charged with a thousand soldiers in full battle gear. The Northern Command numbered over five hundred. Stones and shouts, water cannons, tanks that barreled into gates. It was three in the afternoon. The sun burned yellow. The father heard it first: rifle cracks, a barrage of bullets punching through bodies. Jesus died that day, one of seven reported union deaths. They tell me there are more whose names were never reported.
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Nov 7, 2009 under Elections | 6 comments