May 2001 Archive

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[02] Kidlat.  I don't normally promote candidates, but I couldn't resist publishing Perfecto Yasay Jr.'s appeal because of three things: 1) he was one of the first to go against former President Joseph Estrada back in the days when it wasn't fashionable or even safe to do so (earning the ire of Erap, who wished for him to be hit by lightning/kidlat, a figure he now uses in his campaign); 2) he is an evangelical Christian and the son of a pastor; and 3) he is married to a Joaquin (Cecile, with whom he has three children), although I am not sure if we are related. I felt bad when he wasn't included in the People Power Coalition slate because he was clearly an impeachment trial hero, and now he is campaigning without the benefit of a machinery.

[03] Getting the Message.  Listening to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the other night after a day of violent protests that saw her leadership challenged, I realized, with the help of my colleague Nestor Rimando's astute obser-vation, that she has not gotten the message delivered to her by the masses at Malacañang's door. In her television interviews, she said to the effect that it is important to tell the masses what the issues are, and that they need to understand that former President Joseph Estrada needs to be tried for the charges leveled against him. Nestor said Arroyo has it all wrong, and that it is government that should begin listening to the masses.

[04] Crazy.  The other day the Mirror received an unsigned press release detailing the marital problems of candidate Rodrigo Duterte; more to the point, the press release said Duterte is not fit to be mayor because he has an incurable mental condition that makes him kill people. If that doesn't make sense to you, don't worry, it didn't make much sense to me either.

[06] Text Worship.  BERLIN - It's a gimmick, sure, and gimmicks and religion don't always mix. But maybe this is a gimmick whose time has come: religious services via mobile phone text messages.

[07] Wait for the aftermath.  With a week to go before the elections we can expect the battle between incumbent Mayor Benjamin de Guzman and his challenger, former Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, to reach fever pitch. In the past week we saw both candidates use every trick in the book to discredit each other - from accusations of manipulating crime statistics to using psychological profiles in annulment papers - and perhaps the most we can say is that the names of both candidates are sufficiently sullied and may find it difficult to recover after the elections - win or lose.

[08] Unfair?  This may be a little unfair since Sister Josephine Bacaltos does not have her own forum and so cannot reply to this response to her letter which appeared in the Mirror (and other newspapers) yesterday (the whole of page 9), so we'll be as balanced as possible. Besides, I'm sure the other columnists in this paper are raring to give a crack at her letter.

[09] Wireless Flirting  The following story is true, although I find it hard to believe myself. It actually happened to people I know, and I guess it illustrates the dangers of trusting too much in the sense of anonymity that wireless technology seems to afford.

[10] Ad Talk  As Pinoys we are not used to seeing the "hate" ads that have cropped up over the past few days targeting candidates of the Puwersa ng Masa. We are, for example, shown footage of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago apparently putting down Pinoys who do not have a UP education or have not been to Harvard. She is also shown apparently stirring the crowd at Edsa III to storm Malacañang. The question is then posed: Iboboto nyo pa ba siya?

[12] Break a Law on Mother's Day  Tomorrow is Mother's Day, but it looks like it will get buried by what will happen the next day: elections. So before mothers get the raw end of the deal let me greet the three most important mothers in my life - my mother, my wife's mother, and the mother of my son - a happy mother's day (you go greet your own mother). There are no words to express how much I appreciate your sacrifice in carrying and bringing up the three most important people in my life (my wife, my son, and, well, myself); somehow "Thank you" sounds so inane from someone who has not gone through the pain of childbirth.

[13] Music's Power  As a musician I know that music is a powerful force, and as a music minister I know that Christian music can be used by God to move hearts and minds. Here's something that illustrates this point, an article emailed to me recently: Years ago in Macao, a Portuguese enclave on the coast of southeastern China, Colonel Russell H. Conwell, an American tourist, was visiting the colony and walked through one of its famous casinos. He paused as he passed a table where two of his countrymen were gambling. As the older of the two men began dealing a hand, the younger man began idly humming the tune of the familiar hymn "One Sweetly Solemn Thought," by Phoebe Gary.

[15] That's Indelible!  We breathe a collective sigh of relief because yesterday's elections in Davao City went largely uneventfully. Indeed, given the intensity of the respective campaigns of incumbent Mayor Benjamin de Guzman and challenger Rep. Rodrigo Duterte, it is a wonder that no untoward incident happened in the days before the polls. The police had earlier exposed an assassination plot on de Guzman, but since he is still alive it was either the information was wrong or the plotters chickened off. At any rate, we are simply thankful that the two gentlemen are still standing; more importantly, we are ecstatic that their respective supporters did not choose to decimate each other.

[16] Amusing  "As a computer," a sign I once saw on a computer monitor said, "I find your faith in technology amusing." I always keep this in mind whenever I see myself tending to go overboard in my belief that information technology will improve our lives immensely. Yesterday's column was one example: I said I believe it is possible that we would be casting our votes wirelessly in the future. But as yesterday's events now tell us, believing too much in technology can be costly.

[18] Cry  On my way home late the other night I engaged the taxi driver in a conversation on the looming victory of Rep. Rodrigo Duterte for the mayorship of Davao City. He said he was happy about the development, that he had voted for Duterte himself, and that he believed Duterte would "clean up" the city as soon as he takes over from Mayor Benjamin de Guzman. He said just thinking about Duterte's victory makes his hair stand on end; soon, though, his voice began to crack, and I thought I heard him sob. I turned to him and, sure enough, he was crying.

[21] Something for media to think about  The looming victory of Rep. Rodrigo Duterte for the mayorship of Davao City gives rise to a serious question that media should ask themselves. Here's a man who ran his campaign with hardly any media coverage, and yet he was able to beat the incumbent mayor almost hands down. What does that say about the media? How relevant can we be if it did not matter to the people how little exposure was given to Duterte?

[22] Heart and MInd  Word is that Rep. Rodrigo Duterte will "do an Erap" and take his oath of office as mayor using his native tongue, Bisaya (Erap, if you remember, took his oath in Tagalog). A self-described "Cebuano of the hard-tongue" (I have heard him use this term on himself on several occasions), Duterte said using Bisaya to formally take over as mayor is his way of expressing his thanks to the masses who voted him into his new/old office. In fact, he will also open the oath-taking to the masses, making it a "first-come, first-served" affair with no special guests. "I will make my oath-taking my offering to the people," Duterte said. And if he is to be believed, he will not be inviting officials or executives or anyone of that sort, saying none of these helped get him elected anyway.

[23] Help!  "Help! I'm a parent!" So begins an invitation sent to me by my friend Terry Rivera of My Family Ministry. As a father to a six-year-old boy I have intimate knowledge of this cry for help, and the event to which I am being invited seems very enticing. Here's more: "Let's face it. Raising kids today is no longer a picnic, The rapid growth of the Info Age and the widespread cultural shift from rural to highly urbanized living has left parents groping for new methods of rearing their children. Some of these highly effective methods previously imparted to us by our own parents have become irrelevant and outdated. The resultant struggle and undue pressures have left an ugly toll on parents today. Most parents in this generation have entered the realm of family life without developing a clear-cut plan for their children's lives and yet the desire to do a better job of parenting remains a strong value to be achieved."

[24] Swing Vote  Regional police director Senior Superintendent Eduardo Matillano was quoted as saying the results of the May 14 elections would have been different had the 4 million youths who missed the regular registration been allowed to register and vote. He shared the observation earlier made by other personalities that, judging from the large percentage of youths in Edsa III, these 4 million young ones would have voted for the People Power Coalition candidates. Now there is a titanic battle between the PPC and the Puwersa ng Masa, and there is no doubt that 4 million votes could have swung it for the PPC.

[25] Palm vs Cell  A group of us Palm users have been meeting once a month to talk about our beloved gadgets and to find out from each other how we can maximize our Palms for our specific needs. We call our group pug@d, or the Palm Users Group @ Davao (we took a little literary license on the name), and we have been using Blugré Café for our past three meetings (the first two were held at The Royal Mandaya Hotel; incidentally, the hotel's executive vice president, Glen Escandor, spearheaded the group). The uninitiated will think it strange that a group of grown men and women could find it in their hearts and schedules to come together to talk about a gadget, but those in the know know that the Palm is such a flexible and customizable little digital thing that it's impossible to know all there is to know about it alone. Bouncing ideas and problems off each other is the best way to maximize the use of these expensive gadgets.

[26] Parachute  Charles Plumb, a US Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

[28] Sheer Poetry  If you think Pinoys are good at texting, you should see the Brits. I used to think we are the best at using text because our language - a mixture of Pinoy and English and Spanish - can be mangled and maimed but still be understandable. But get a load of this...

[29] Not so isolated, after all  I asked a Canadian missionary friend who's been living in the Philippines for a number of years if he senses that his fellow expats are beginning to be afraid to go out because of the recent attack on Pearl Farm and the kidnapping of vacationers in Palawan (after all, two of the victims in the Palawan incident are missionaries). His short reply (well, it was a text) was, "We need to be cautious, but not afraid." Later on we met and he said the mood as far as his colleagues are concerned is that there is no need to stop activities in Mindanao, but there is a need to be a little more careful. He himself went to Paradise Island on Saturday without fear of anything bad happening; of course he added the resort is a little difficult to attack since it is located right inside the strait between Davao City and Samal, and it is much more secure than Pearl Farm.

[30] Unshocking  When I walked into the Vanda room of the Apo View Hotel Monday morning I was met by a group of women who greeted me with, "You're the only penis!" Such straight talk would have been scandalous elsewhere, but here it was decidedly unshocking; this was, after all, the press conference for The Vagina Monologues.

[31] Unshocking [2]  According to councilor Luz Ilagan, sex trafficking is widely prevalent in Mindanao. "We in Mindanao experience a lot of this. Rural women are brought to urban areas and then exploited." Which is to say that while Davao City has earned the nickname "center of Japayukis," not all who go to Japan as entertainers are actually Davaoeños. This is not as good as it sounds, though, because it simply means urbanites like us are the ones going to the rural areas to find women who can be brought back to be sold for sex.

©2001 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.