Monthly Archives: March 2013

My Country

I wanted to write about Sabah but I felt inadequate to do so. When news of what’s been happening there broke, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the issue to augment what I currently know. Something that, at this day and age, is impossible to not do. The best background info I got on the issue is HERE.

the cartography of sovereignty

the cartography of sovereignty

What I know is this: when much of Asia was still a colony of the Europeans, Sabah was leased by a British firm from the Sultan of Sulu. Said lease was kind of swept into the events that led to the end of British rule in Malaysia. And probably in their haste to leave, the British turned over Sabah along with its holdings to the new rulers of Malaysia.

Many many years later, the Philippine government’s campaign to reclaim Sabah has fluctuated as many times as the stock market, with efforts ranging from under-the-radar diplomatic means to a military operation that cannibalized its own fighters. The state of the claim, it seems, is contingent on the interests of who was in office. It feels the same now, to be frank.

Then there are the numerous heirs, who never came to a mutual agreement on how they wanted to make their claims known. Efforts were made to unite them, but their association was fraught with turmoil that such efforts never came to full fruition. The wrangling among the heir is the stuff of teleserye.

Such is life.

And then there is Malaysia, smug in its good fortune of acquiring something for virtually nothing. Their own claim, they say, is a one that rests on history, but whose history? They gloat over our discord and inconsistencies and scare us with severing diplomatic ties and what-not. And the question that’s in my mind is why is our government so eager to please Malaysia? This question had been posted by a woman whose acuity of thought I admire, and she wrote about it HERE.

I think, in light of everything that happened, is happening, and will happen in Sabah, our government’s response should have been tempered in civility without sacrificing concern, or even just a touch of sensitivity, to the plight of the claimants. Expressing doubts on the claimant’s honesty, on public media even, only reflects badly on us as a people. Is saving face to a country, who has never been good to our people, more important than expressing solidarity to our Muslim brothers?

I do not agree to the methods of the claimants, and the government makes it clear that it doesn’t as well. But Mr President, that is no reason to treat your countrymen as shabbily as that. That is no way to treat your fellow citizen, and your fellow human being.


This senatorial candidate never appeared in my to-vote list, primarily because of her stand against the RH while she was a representative. Second, I found her style of politics to be too ‘trapo’ [traditional politician; and ‘trapo’ is Filipino for a rag]. She’s been posting pseudo-electoral TV ads months before the election, so she’s crassly and unabashedly ‘epal’, as well.

I found it best to ignore her altogether but recent developments made it impossible for me not to write about her. Unintentionally, she uncovered herself for the whole nation to see, and giving me the final nail to shut her out of the Senate race. It took a wise woman [Winnie Monsod] and her well-placed question. In a program called ‘Pagsubok ng mga Kandidato’ [Candidate’s Tests], broadcast journalists get to ask the senatorial candidates a few questions, to which the candidates are given a minute to answer. No judgment is made on the answers, leaving the viewers to ponder on them [which I like].

You can watch the whole thing here:

This video remained dormant in the internet and went viral only about 3 days later. Her answer drew the ire of Filipino Nurses here and abroad for its insensitivity and condescension to what many regard as a noble profession, like being a teacher or a social worker. Netizens wasted no time in responding.

One of the resulting memes

One of the resulting memes

And even if I were a non-practicing Nurse, I was also offended by her words because I worked hard to earn my degree and professional license. Thinking about it more, I realized the nature of the question asked of her. It was meant to expose her for what she truly is. And she fell for it: hook, line, and sinker!

In that case, we’d like to thank you, Mrs. Villar, for showing us that when it came to push and shove, you would take the side of business over everything else. As Chair of the House Committee on Higher Education, you could have done something to uplift the quality of Nursing education in the country but instead you chose to protect the interests of unscrupulous school-owners so they can continue making money without a care for the quality of nurses that they were releasing into the workforce.

In that situation, you clearly showed us that you’re a very astute businesswoman and a very undesirable senator/ legislator. Now we all know the kind of senator that you’ll be in the unfortunate event that you make it in this election. One who protects the interests of business over and above the interests of the people.┬áNow, it doesn’t matter how kind the words that your well-paid PR machinery has churned out to placate the hurt feelings of us nurses.

Fortunately, we can still do something in order to make sure that your little feet will not go pitter-patter in the August halls of the Senate.

Political Animals

Before I got too depressed from thinking about the grim prospects for voters in this year’s elections, I decided to watch a movie. The next time someone tells you that his idea of an escapist fare is a historical drama, make sure to slap that person in the face in order to rid him of his foolish pretentious notion.


Heard on Jay Leno: when I saw the poster, I wanted to give him the Oscar already!

If I really wanted to get away from election fever, I might have been better off watching ‘Anna Karenina’ with Kiera Knightley. Don’t get me wrong: Lincoln is an amazing film, largely due to Daniel Day-Lewis’ mesmerizing portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. There is also an excellent supporting cast of actors I admire, led by Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

As a student, I recalled lessons on American history with a vague sense of interest. I learned what I could because I didn’t want to get a low grade on the subject, not because I was genuinely interested in the topic. Fortunately, I had a very clever History teacher in high school. She discussed events in American history that impacted on our own history. This strategy was effective in generating interest on American history from us.

I thought the film would be a life story of Lincoln, but instead it focused on the time between his re-election and the enactment of the amendment that abolished slavery in the U.S., up to his assassination just days after that historic event. This resulted in a more action-oriented film, even if the ‘action’ I’m speaking of is mostly comprised of the political maneuvering and wrangling that went on in order to pass a polarizing and controversial constitutional amendment. Lots of thumping on tables, insults veiled as speeches, and suggestions of blackmail.

Watching the politicians ‘at work’ in this film reminded me of the same political maneuvering and wrangling that we still see up to this day in government. I have to admit that the House of Representative portrayed in this film is not that far from our House of Representatives now. There is almost the same cast: idiot politicians whose sole claim to fame is coming from a wealthy or political family, seasoned politicians who are experts at leveraging for their own benefits, even the idealists who are constantly barraged to conform with the status quo.

Fortunately for the Negro slaves, this House–in spite of itself–voted to declare slavery illegal in the constitution. A rare triumph, which I dare compare to the passing of the RH Bill in our own House. Also, in spite of itself.

There’s always hope for all political animals, the film indirectly told me.

Daniel Day-Lewis so deserves his awards for his work here. And I think the film deserved more awards at the Oscars, to be frank. I read about the meticulous details that went into this film, and everything looks great in the film–even the scenes of death at the beginning, which echoed the opening scenes of another Spielberg film: ‘Saving Private Ryan’.

Finally, having also read about the debate on Lincoln’s sexuality, I was surprised to find the film so sexless. Well, except for one scene. Late in the film, as Lincoln was struggling with the decision to pursue the passing of the 13th amendment, he paid a late-night visit to one of this young aides. There’s a lot of affectionate touching and hair-tousling and as Lincoln stood to go, the young aide asked him if he would like “company” that night. To which Lincoln said that it was best that he be alone at that time, as he is shown walking away. Personally, I found this scene utterly tender, and yes, quite erotic as well.

What was the scene about? Was it an acknowledgement of the debate on Lincoln’s sexuality? Screenwriter Tony Kushner, who also wrote ‘Angels in America’, provided some information HERE and HERE.