Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kahirapan at Katatawanan

Bagama't nakakasawa na pakinggan, lagi pa ring ginagamit ang pagiging mahirap bilang katwiran.

Ang kahirapan ang ginagamit na katwiran ng mga kamag-anak ng mga binitay na Pinoy sa Tsina. Kung hindi man katwiran, ito ang sinisisi bilang ugat na nagtulak sa kanila upang bitbitin ang mga ilegal na droga sa kanilang mga gamit, at suungin ang alam naman nilang mapanganib na misyon. Kamatayan ang kaparusahan sa kanilang mapangahas na pagsugal upang kumita ng malaking pera.

Sa kanilang kamatayan nagising muli ang madla, muling pinukaw ang nasyonalismong nakahimlay sa mga dusang pilit kinukubli ng mga palabas na katulad ng "Willing Willie."

Bagama't araw-araw may namamatay, ang pagtangis ng bayan ay natuon bigla sa tila mala-bayaning pagsasalarawan sa tatlong kung tutuusin ay mga kriminal sa pananaw ng bansang Tsina, at kahit na sa ating bansa ay mga kriminal ding maituturing dahil labag sa batas ang kanilang ginawa.

Pero ang namamayani ay ang pananaw na dapat silang unawain dahil mahirap lang sila. Dapat silang kaawaan dahil mahirap lang sila.

Ang kahirapan ding ito ang siyang ginagamit ni Willie Revillame upang bigyang katwiran ang di-mawaring kalungkutan at luhang umagos sa mukha ni Jan-jan habang ang kanyang inosenteng kamalayan ay tila naging alay sa altar ng panandaliang yaman kapalit ng halagang Php 10,000 sa kanyang pag-indayog sa entablado sa isang malaswang sayaw habang ibinuyo siya ng kanyang tiyahin, kinunsinti na kanyang mga magulang at pinalakpakan ng madlang uhaw sa aliw.

Nakalulungkot isipin.  Nakapanlulumo.

Kahirapan ang nagtulak sa ilang kababayan nating pumayag na maging taga-bitbit ng droga at labagin ang batas ng ibang bansa, na ang naging kapalit ay ang kanilang buhay.

Kahirapan ang nagtutulak sa napakaraming kababayan natin na araw-araw pumila sa mga programa sa telebisyon at umaasang mapagbibigyan silang umakyat sa entablado at ilantad ang kanilang mga personal na dalamhati upang maging batis ng pangmadlang aliw at saya. Sa ngalan ng katatawanan ng iba at sa perang mapapanalunan nila, ang itinataya naman nila ay ang kanilang dangal at kahihiyan.

Ngunit nakagagalit malaman na ang kahirapang ito ang siya ring pinagsasamantalahan ng ibang mas angat ang katayuan sa buhay. Pinagsamantalahan ng mga mangangalakal ng ilegal droga ang kahirapan ng napakaraming kababayang handang kumapit sa patalim, kumita lang ng pera upang matustusan ang pangangailangan ng kanilang mga pamilya. At pinagsasamantalahan ng mga mangangalakal ng aliw at saya na kinakatawan ng mga katulad ni Willie Revillame ang kahirapan ng mga taong salat sa pera at rangya, at handang kapalan ang kanilang mga mukha, magmukhang katawa-tawa, at maging tampulan ng katatawanan makakuha lamang ng maliit na halagang magagamit nila upang makatawid sa buhay kahit ilang araw lamang.

At ang higit na nakapanlulumo ay kung papaano isinalarawan ng mass midya ang mga kwento ng tatlong binitay na kababayan sa Tsina, at ng binastos na inosenteng batang si Jan-jan--bilang mga palabas, mga makatotohanang teleserye ng buhay, isang pag-gamit sa dusa at pait bilang mga mayayamang materyal upang maibenta sa isang madlang, masakit mang tanggapin nguni't totoo, nakakukuha ng aliw sa dusa at pait ng ibang tao.

Sa isang bansang pinamamayanihan ng Mara Clara gabi-gabi, hindi nga naman talaga mahirap unawain kung bakit habang umaagos ang luha ni Jan-jan, habang ang kanyang kamusmusan ay naaagnas unti-unti habang siya ay malaswang umiindayog sa entablado, ang madla ay pumalakpak pa at tumawa.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Smiling in the face of pain

It is that smile that launched a thousand criticisms.

I am referring to our President's as he watched the miserable remains of a bus that used to be full of eager tourists wanting to savor the sights and sounds of Manila, but has turned into a bloodstained arena that sustained the brunt of the vengeful frustration of one dismissed cop. At the end of the orgy of incompetence and, were it not for the tragic end, almost comical performance of Manila's finest, nine lives were lost, including that of the perpetrator, one named Rolando Mendoza.

It was also one the President was wearing, some even called it a smirk, as he earlier officiated a past-midnight press conference which only night owls like me were able to watch, or those who were unable to sleep bothered by the lingering images of incompetence and death all rolled into one a few hours ago on that fateful Monday.

That smile, or smirk, or uncontrollable muscle spasm--take your pick, has, unfortunately, become a turning point, a sad milestone in what until then was a blissful Presidency where many Pinoys have reposed their hopes and dreams as they ventured into the straight path to P-NOY's brand of paradise.

Some may be creative enough to call it a quick karmic turn. One can say that this is what you get when you start your term with vengeance, masquerading as exorcism for good and clean government. You wanted to massacre midnight appointees with impunity, without discriminating those who were really beneficiaries of Gloria's malice and mischief, and those honest and deserving civil servants who were simply promoted/appointed at the wrong time; you end up being humiliated in the world stage by another type of massacre, more non-discriminating than EO2 and EO3 combined, where bullets riddled bodies of many innocent guests, and only one guilty cop. Oh, lest we forget, also that boy who got a share of the limelight and the stray bullet, the one which Kris Aquino, for some reason, visited in his wounded state, even as her brother's officials were busy condemning "usiseros." The irony of this karmic reversal is that in this massacre, any claim towards good and clean governance has now been compromised and negated by an image of an inept, lazy, nowhere to be found, sophomoric Head of State.

He who wanted to massacre midnight appointees of the previous administration, who in turn was humiliated, by a massacre, in a belated midnight appointment with the press.

The one who smiled despite the seriousness of the event, and who admitted that it is his normal reaction when he is confronted with a difficult situation.

You know what? I really buy this. I mean, for once I will have to defend the President, despite my continuing criticism of his management style. That smile, the one that drew the ire of Hongkong, is an authentic representation of a Pinoy trait.

Some may call it insensitivity.

I don't. I call it our natural.

After all, we are a people who can easily turn our tragedies into comedies. From typhoons, to coups, we never run out of our capacity to smile despite the seriousness of the situation. At the height of Ondoy, when a big portion of Manila was submerged, when we saw people struggling to save their lives and possessions in the muddy flood waters, in the midst of tragedy we saw people still managing to celebrate a birthday while stranded in their roofs, of people waving to TV cameras even as they negotiate the flood in their makeshift lifesavers, from bath-tubs, to airbeds and anything that floated.

We are also a people that laughs at those who slip and fall, instead of offering a helping hand. And we do so not to insult, but to express a sense of camaraderie, assuring the one who slipped and fell that it is alright.

This is the people from where those who posed in front of the Hong Thai bus came from. The same people who will watch a running gun-battle, and applaud at the real action like a movie. The same people who will give a nervous smile in the face of pain and tragedy.

This is us.

This is how we cope.

For a society prone to pain and suffering, that is how we survive.

And this time, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, in his smile, embodied us as we face another crisis.

And if you are distressed by this claim, you may just, in fact, instead of frowning, succumb to your gut response and command your facial muscles to display that all too familiar, and very Pinoy smile. Whether it is in bewilderment, or as a dismissive gesture, or a sincere reassurance of your own bearings and to defend your sanity in the face of the B.S.. But still, a smile.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Peers who persecute

I don't know what's wrong with people in academe who, in their moments of bias, call the work of others as trash and without rigor when they themselves do not understand what it is all about.

I, for one, have been getting this flak for a long time.

As a post-modern political scientist, my scholarly endeavors are far from the usual and ordinary. I do not study what most in the political science community are studying. And in doing so, I am definitely an outsider.

I know this as the risk I had to take. Facing the specter of being marginalized, I had no choice but to endeavor to publish as my way of laying the ground from where the firm bases of my scholarships can stand. It is not an easy task, mind you, but modesty aside I was somewhat successful.

There were many stumbling blocks along the way, though.

Recently, my book manuscript was called a piece of trash by what I found out to be a Filipino scholar who now lives in the United States. The review was so mean and insulting that I recoiled at how deeply angry the reviewer could be. I know that the book I wrote is controversial, but I never thought it could elicit such a violent response from someone who was presumed to provide an objective review. After recovering from the initial shock at such personal assault, I gathered up myself to confront it and soon realized that the problem lies not in my book, but in the academic politics against which it is ranged.

The mean reviewer, who I may not know by name, and have no interest in knowing, is not actually alone. There are so many of them found in the august halls of the academe. People who masquerade as dignified experts who are committed to a particular profession, but are in fact insecure, childlike, envious brats who would persecute anyone they see as threats to them--from people who raise new ideas that would threaten their own comfort zones, to colleagues who threaten to overtake their academic ranks.

They abound like gremlins after being drenched with water.

Some people may hold up to high esteem the academe as an exalted place.

But unfortunately, it is a place where peers end up as persecutors. Some may have the courage to do it upfront and reveal themselves. These are the easier ones to deal with. Its either you just ignore them, or you fight them head on.

But the more dangerous kind are those who hide in the anonymity of double blind reviews--just like this S.O.B. Americanized Filipino scholar who called my work a piece of trash, who I know would not have the courage to say the things he said about my book to my face. Unlike this coward, I can face him anytime to express an "up yours" response.

The process of peer reviewing is one of the most abused endeavor, both in the process of publishing a work, or in seeking a promotion, and becomes a breeding ground for scholarly persecution, and a nurturer of malicious intent.

There are those who would accept the task of becoming critics of scholarly works when in fact they have fundamental disagreements with these in terms of methodological and theoretical frames. I would like to think that if you have fundamental differences with the approach of a particular scholarly work, then you are not in fact a peer, and therefore have no right to be involved as a peer reviewer. It is a travesty for a conservative political scholar to serve as a critic of a manuscript written by a radical Marxist, or an empirical-positivist to pass judgment on a work done by a post-structuralist post-feminist. What would you expect from this picture: an unbiased review? Only the seriously naive would think so.

The more serious, and I would even claim criminal, offense is when people from other disciplines, or who do not have any iota of familiarity with one's work, take on the job of passing judgment on the work and qualifications of others. You see this in promotions board where people from other disciplines can claim a work of somebody from another discipline to be unacceptable. I can even tolerate biases. But this one is not borne out of bias, but out of sheer arrogant ignorance.

Unfortunately, the control mechanisms to ensure that peers who persecute are not given their day to terrorize are not yet fully in place. There are still editors who do not have an understanding of the nuances of a particular discipline, and the different grounds from where ideological rifts would eventually descend to personal conflicts. And there are University administrators who try to inflict their own disciplines' supposedly neutral ethos into others. You see this happening when you have University Administrators who are engineers, natural scientists, or economists of the mathematical kind who make decisions over the careers of humanists and interpretive social scientists.

I had once a conversation with a well-meaning administrator who argued that no one can put a good scholarly work down.

I pointed out that, ideally, that should be the case. Unfortunately, it's not.

And it is this naivete, or perhaps, this too much trust on the kindness of people, that enable the proliferation in the University of peers who persecute.

It should be said. There are just too many nasty, insecure, envious and immature people in academe. That is the ugly truth.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My unchanging politics despite the long hiatus; or no, they don't own EDSA

I could not believe it.

The last time I wrote something in this blog, we were still under a much hated President, and it was not Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

There were many times I wanted to write, but held back. I wanted to give my mind a honeymoon period, so to speak. There were so many things I wanted to write about, from the very petty family quarrels among siblings, to the annoying neighbor I have, to the frustrations of being rejected, to the triumphs of being redeemed, and yes, the May elections.

I wanted to write about the May elections, its conduct and results but hesitated for the simple reason that I wanted to sit out and wait for the finality of its results, even if it was already there staring at us even prior to the casting of the first ballot, as announced by SWS and Pulse Asia.

And he was proclaimed...

He gave a speech...


I am just awed by his humanity, so engaged, so simple, so likable. I may not have voted for him, but he is now my President.

There are just too many reasons why I should like him. Regionalism aside, he appointed three Bikolanos to his Cabinet. He appointed my favorite mayor of Naga City where I studied in high school, Jesse Robredo. He chose Leila de Lima, a lawyer from our neighboring Iriga City. And of course, he selected my batchmate in College who is from Guinobatan, Albay, Mon Paje, even if all of us know that he is just bench-warming for Neric Acosta, who, coincidentally, is the godfather of my eldest son. And to top it all, he took in my former boss in La Salle, Bro. Armin.

And of course, I still hate the one to whom he stood against, the one I shall not even dare name if only to symbolize my repulsion, but now stands to represent her district somewhere in Pampanga.

But there is something in me that prevents a willing idolization to grow in the political vaccuum left after nine years of yearning for a counter-narrative, one that would be pitted against what has become a long episode of corruption and personal aggrandizement that surpassed the Marcosian years.

It took me a while to reflect on my negative feelings towards him, and it is only now that I could articulate it with clarity.

It is not because I voted for someone else. I am not that petty. It is easy for me to accept defeat, and move on.

It is not because of his neglect of the environment in his inaugural and SONA speeches, for I could easily overlook these.

It is not because of the annoying cacique mentality of his wards, and the overly vindictive attitude of his eager beavers which has made exposing the already well-known shenanigans of the past administration as a predictable ritual, thereby courting the danger of people getting desensitized to the level of corruption of the short inglorious one.

There is a deeper reason for this.

Perhaps, the problem lies not in him, but in me.

I am just too clairvoyant when it comes to gut feelings about where the country is headed for. I have this feeling that we are heading in the wrong direction, even if the road getting there is the good one.

Perhaps, it is my discomfort with false messiahs, my suspicion of idolatry.

First, they declared his father a hero, even without reflecting on the kind of politics he had prior to his martyrdom.

Then, they almost canonized his mother. There were even attempts to do so, literally and not just politically.

Central to this idolatry is the discourse where the darkness of Marcosian dictatorship has been banished by the light of democracy as supposedly a handiwork, if not an exclusive property of his pedigreed family.

The discourse that has created him is casted in historical myth making that vulgarly took over, or in the language of his mother's politics, "sequestered" the movement that returned power to the people as an event that could have only unfolded because of the heroism of his father Ninoy and the sacrifices of his mother Cory.

And now, he was again casted as the grand architect of the good road to which our country will be redeemed after nine years of inglorious abuses.

It is this hijacking of a historical conjuncture that makes me squirm.

No. The freedom and democracy we have now in this country could not be solely attributable as a legacy of one family, no matter how sweet is the sugar and fertile are the lands which fed them at the expense of those workers who they have now duped out of their entitlemens, in the same manner that the abuses and corruption could not be solely be the work of Apo and the inglorious one.

EDSA is not the property of Cory in memory of Ninoy, now embodied in their son.

EDSA happened because of us, those who toiled to appropriate the memories of a fallen homecoming in yellow ribbons as a symbol to rally around; who supported the yellow widow despite her lack of credentials, and later lionized her despite the fact that her record of governance is, objectively speaking, lackluster; and whose plurality has again bestowed on a lackluster performing Senator-son the mantle of redeeming us from ourselves.

They are heroes because we made them. And for many to diminish the role of the ordinary Pinoys as simply the hapless Jews to be saved from the Pharaohs of corruption is but a lie, a false idolatry of the new gods and saints.

This is the core of my discomfort.

Until such discourse is changed, I could never truly love this President as my own, even if a big part of me thinks he is adorable.

And key to this will be an admission by the son that we are not just his bosses. We are also his creators.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A journey worth taking

At some points, the road was bumpy, and the sea was rough.

But it was a journey worth taking. The company was good. After all, it was a group of classmates and their families. I brought my whole family with me, in fact.

It was a sentimental journey as well, a search for that youthfulness still deeply embedded in a body now facing the specter of graying and/or balding hairs for some, of beer bellies for others, and yes, the weakening of knees and joints brought about by the advancement in years for many.

Life was good. Life IS good! We have in our company tales of survival, not only of some of us who surpassed life-threatening encounters, but of the trip itself, that started in Quezon City, to a pick-up point in Los Banos, for an overnight journey to Guinobatan interrupted only by a pit-stop in Tiaong and Calauag. We had our first serious moment of heaven when we had our breakfast there at Casa Basilisa, a fitting opening of a day full of fun to a company of 19 batchmates, some with their loved ones and companions, to make a happy crowd of 43 plus the presence of one generous class-mate who made it all possible, and an amiable PENRO whose hospitality made this distant place a home for us. And yes, our drivers, whose mysterious demeanors elicited both fear and discomfort, but nevertheless was necessary for us, to remind us that the road to paradise could be littered with inconvenience, but still, what matters most is the destination, and of course, the company.

The visit to the ruins of Cagsawa, and a view of the majestic Mayon, and the trip to the Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex are but a tip of the iceberg, an undercard experience, a usual appetizer, a needed preview for the more breath taking scenes that awaited us. But for me, the other significant homecoming, not only since Cam Sur is my home province, is that the trip provided my wife and I the chance to visit my parents, and my children the gift of seeing once again their Lolo and Lola, who I know are very fond of them. My father is already blind, but I saw in his face the joy that he usually hides, and can only feel even if he could no longer see how such joy has brought tears to my eyes. My mother is old but still the ever gracious woman that nurtured and protected me from the pains of childhood to enable me to experience its joys. Her smile provided me the assurance that while we may not be seeing each other often, the love is always there to transcend distance.

And yes, the food they served. Simple. Delicious. From the heart.

For me, the brief stop-over in Buhi was the most significant part of the trip.

But not to be outdone is the experience that Caramoan bestowed on all of us. Awed by the natural beauty that unfolded in our very eyes, my son, the ever respectful and prude person I know he is, asked permission from me if he can curse as a way of expressing his admiration to the natural museum of beauty that paraded in front of us. The sights of Caramoan made me forget the dangers of the sometimes rough seas we had to endure, or the inconvenience of the dirt roads we had to travel. These are but small prices we had to pay for a priceless experience.

And yes, the people we had to meet, in addition to the ones we already are with, are part of the rewards of the journey. The amazing feat of the boatmen that steered our craft, their skillful demeanor as they navigate the randomness of the waves which for them have become part of their lives, are just remarkable in their simple message. Here are people who are not as highly placed in our totem poles, yet they show us the main metaphor for survival.

In awe, a thought came to me as I savored the beauty of Caramoan in the company of my loving and beautiful family, and together with my batch mates in what could now be considered as the "Batch" that may not have produced rulers, but has been blessed by talent and opportunity to be together as we travelled this rough road and seas to experience the beauty of nature and the priceless rewards of camaraderie. There, I rediscovered the mystery of life--how beauty is to be savored despite the risks, how family has to be loved despite the distance, and how friendship has to be kept despite different pathways taken.

As pointed out, some in our batch are actual survivors--they survived life-threatening experiences. Others were already feeling the toll of advancing years, with wobbly knees and feet. The fact that we all managed to complete the journey to paradise, and live to tell stories of beauty, family and friendship is in itself a mystery of creation.

For a moment, I forgot the political drama unfolding in the country, and the possibility of having a mentally-challenged President. In those days of paradise, what mattered most was the company. In the beauty of Caramoan that I discovered lies the metaphor of hope. Sometimes, you just have to take a journey in order for you to realize the beauty of life.

My son asked me the permission to curse, as his expression of awe.

It's my turn now to say, "Shit! Life is so beautiful!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Noynoy's Woes

At present, I am still on the sidelines in terms of who I will actually vote for, although I was quick to call attention to the disowning and denial of Winnie Monsod of the article that was supposedly written by her, as well as the blatant disinformation about the Mugabe mansion being allegedly owned by Villar. The reason why I did so was not to defend Villar (he has already lots of money, enough for him to have been able to hire 5 professional PR and advetising firms to run his campaign), but to correct this peddling of lies to favor Noynoy. This strikes deep at the heart of my discomfort right now. It makes me realize that we are now in such a mess that many of us, with good intentions, and with all sincerity, have been made to Vote not "for" a person, but "against" a person. This is not, in political science theory, the sign of a mature democracy. It is this kind of electoral mood that forces people to go into negative campaigning, to a point of concocting lies like the Winnie Monsod and the Mugabe mansion fiasco.

I too, for a while, was rooting for Noynoy, especially right after the death of his mother. I, too, want a clean government. But if Noynoy has to win, it should not be because of myths which make him somebody that he is not, one that is bigger than the Benigno Simeon Aquino that he really is. He should win not because of Villar's flaws and faults, but because of his own credentials and capabilities. The danger in a campaign in which Noynoy wins by capitalizing on the weaknesses of his opponent is that after the last ballot is scanned by the PCOS machines and certified by the Comelec, and after he is proclaimed by the Joint session of Congress, and it is time to govern, where the demon of Villar has already been cast off, then his own demons, one that was not made visible during the campaign, may just haunt the eletorate.

A content analysis of the campaign right now reveals that the negative campaigning has been intense on the side of Noynoy's camp targeting Villar. In fact, a mapping of the campaign discourse significantly shows that the venom is hurled from all places, from LP to Dick, Jamby, JC and others, and aimed at one direction--at Manny V. Lest we forget, the Filipino electorate is one that is sympathetic to an underdog. Villar, with his cool and almost (I hate to say this, but objectively it is true) "presidential demeanor" despite the intense mudslinging aimed at him, and despite the fact that he is rich, and thanks to the professional advise of seasoned marketing and PR consultants (who are all well-paid) is effectively appearing as the under-dog! Contrast this with Noynoy's petulant behavior, from his spat with Tony Lopez in one forum, to his incessant barrage of anti-Villar statements during his speeches, to even the petty things of Villar copying his campaign style, and lamenting that Manny V. might even end up copying his hair-style, was just way out of line, and too "un-presidential." Erap could have run away with this kind of murder, but not Noynoy. It does not help that he ends up in the league of Jamby Madrigal, who is so disliked by the electorate (imagine this: she is at the bottom of the surveys, with Nicky Perlas and JC de los Reyes outpolling her, despite the fact that she is a senator).

The Filpino electorate has turned into politics like a spectacle, an on-going soap. In this political culture, Villar has effectively turned the tables around and made himself the poor-boy who became rich, but could not be accepted by elites. He has allied himself with the heroes and heroines of soaps and reality TV. Meanwhile, the real son of heroes seem to have lost his bearings and is now seen in the company of "villains"--the rich and wealthy "contrabidas" scheming to thwart the success of this ambitious outsider from the slums of Tondo. This is the narrative that is more appealing to the same "outsiders" that Villar has imaged in children swimming in a sea of garbage.

And this is why Noynoy's campaign, despite the fact that he is still the front-runner, is running scared. The irony however, is that the only way he can fight Villar is to keep on bringing up the latter's negatives. He could no longer rely on the myth of his parents, for as polls show, this has effectively been eroded. He can still keep on saying what he is not (i.e. corrupt), but he has to match this with an equally attractive narrative of what, in fact, he is. And if he tries offering his own credentials and record, and his performance, the more that he may end up troubled, for these may be, sad but true, scarce and lack-luster.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Weird choices, rational choices

Ever since I posted in my Facebook account my choices for the Senate in the upcoming May 2010 elections, I have been receiving comments, some posted openly in my profile, others as private messages, which are rather interesting, in the sense that they are questions about the a) sanity, b) rationality, and c) political correctness of some of my choices. What particularly drew the ire of most are my votes for Adel Tamano, Miram-Defensor Santiago and Bongbong Marcos.

At first, I felt amused to a point that while I replied to the pointed comments, initially I was somewhat dismissive of them in the sense that I thought I do not owe anyone any explanation for practicing my fundamental right.

But then again, I realized that I needed to provide some logic and reason to the 12 names I have listed, if only to disabuse the minds of my friends who may feel a) betrayed, b) annoyed or c) amused.

But I am not going to be selective and simply justify why Adel, Miriam and Bongbong are on my list. Instead, I will give a complete picture of the political framework from where I based my choices.

At the outset, there are a couple of parameters upon which I grounded my choice, as I do believe that the process of choosing contains elements of personal ties and personal politics. Hence, there are candidates that I chose on the basis of affinity, whether by kinship or kindred, and there are those I chose for political reasons.

On the basis of affinity, I only have two names: Neric Acosta and Sonia Roco.

Neric is a friend of mine. He is the godfather of my eldest son. We were together in Hawaii as we both pursued our graduate studies in Political Science, where we also both danced with the Pamana Dance Company, a spin-off of the Bayanihan. But other than this, Neric is a very much qualified candidate, thereby making me feel much better to choose him since he possesses qualifications other than our personal friendship.

Sonia is not a friend of mine. I don't even know her personally. She doesn't even know me. But I am voting for her anyway as my commitment to her departed husband, the good Oragon Senator from Bicol, Senator Raul Roco, whom I have voted for President in the past. Just like Neric, I am also heartened by the thought that she is also a qualified candidate, thereby denying anyone the ammunition to criticize me for simply being too sentimental, or regionalistic.

Now, my political choices.

Of course, I have Risa Hontiveros, Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo to represent the progressive left, further emphasizing that the three collectively represents both sides of the Philippine left, eeven made more compelling since Risa and Liza have their feminist roots as well. I may disagree with some of the left's positions, but I still believe that it is about time that they have to be officially represented in the Senate, and I have no doubt that these three will represent all the facets of the progressive movement in the country.

Then I have Pia Cayetano for the environmental agenda, which I also strongly support. Pia Cayetano has grown in me during her first term. I did not like her, the first time, particularly her being just an inheritor of his father's seat (at least, Allan Peter was a member of the house when he was elected). But she has shown me enough evidence of a low-key, but effective advocate for the environment.

I also think that we need Muslims in the Senate, this is why I am voting for Adel Tamano and Yasmin Busran-Lao. They represent the two sides of Muslim Mindanao that I want to enfranchise--a moderate Adel and a progressive but rational Yasmin, to blunt the image of an Al Qaeda infested place where backhoes are used to dig common gravesites.

Then I also have to get some from mainstream politics, but ever conscious of the need for young, alternative voices. Ruffy Biazon appeals to me as one who is critical but fair. Joey De Venecia is a controversial choice, but I told myself that he would be an interesting addition to the Senate, as a foil to the future ghosts of Gloria that may still lurk deep in the halls and inner sanctums of government.

People asked me why I am voting for Miriam. My answer is: why not? Personally, I have not agreed with her on many instances, but simply put: I find her amusing. A gadfly. A patroness of irreverence in the halls of the upper legislative chamber. She would be the inertia that we need when sanity dictates we go on full speed; she would be the battery that would keep us going when sanity dictates we slow down; in short--she is the insanity that could somewhat blunt the safety and convenience of a rationally sane, yet acquiescent mind. When almost all would say "yes," somebody seemingly insane shouting "no" in colorful and outlandish words and manner would be a big relief, a comforting distraction, and an opportunity to think if indeed we are going in the right direction at the right pace. If there is one candidate that captures my post-modern leanings, it is Miriam.

And finally Bongbong Marcos. Ahh! The scion of the evil bloodline in contrast to the Cory-Ninoy saintliness now being tried hard to be rubbed on Noynoy. But as I have posted in my Facebook account, despite the demonic images that we have painted of his family, in the entire term of Bongbong as Governor and Representative of Ilocos Norte, he never performed in a "demonic way" and I have never seen or heard of him engage in acts that are contraty to my sense of propriety. What I see in him is a serious attempt to redeem the much damaged Marcos name. My vote for him is not a repudiation of the dark years of Martial Law, but as recognition of the inner spirit of redemption that is natural in us. A desire to prove to society that one Marcos could be different may be a driver as powerful as a desire to prove to society that a son always inherits the virtues of his parents. After all, while some of us would like to continue the good legacy of our parents, there are also those who swear that they would never inflict on their children what they have suffered from their parents.

I just suppose that my politics is one of hope, where I put premium on the promises of the future, and not dwell on the ghosts of the past.