Thursday, October 29, 2009

Juan Tama, virgin voter

That’s Tama (right/correct) indeed, we didn’t miss out on the letter d. But before that d disappeared, there is Juan Tamad of Philippine fable, the stereotypical lazy, lethargic Filipino who just waits for the proverbial guava to fall from the tree and into his mouth.

Once again, Juan Tamad takes center stage on a circa 2010 life, but this time he metamorphoses into Juan Tama. And indeed, it takes a village, so to speak, to transform him from obduracy into advocacy.
“Si Juan Tamad, ang Diyablo at ang Limang Milyong Boto” (directed by Phil M. Noble), the latest offering of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), is the thing to watch especially by first-time voters, or virgin voters, as PETA calls them.

Set in the imaginary island of Isla Filiminimon, the musical revolves around Juan Tamad (nicknamed JT), the son of two overseas Filipino workers toiling in Isla Agimat. Juan’s parents open the story and introduce their son who grew up with his grandmother but who turns out to be a lazy, apathetic 21-year-old. (Juan is played by Marvin Wilbur T. Ong and Victor B. Robinson III.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dam lessons from Yu Xiaogang

Philippine Daily Inquirer/Opinion/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Three weeks after Chinese expert dam watcher, activist and 2009 Ramon Magsaysay awardee Yu Xiaogang left the Philippines, the dam broke, so to speak.

I wish I had asked Yu all the dam questions that are plaguing us now. I wish he were here for the Senate hearings and the forum debates to witness the dam-damning, blame-throwing, finger-pointing and breast-beating.
He could listen to the torrent of words from government officials, soothsayers, feel-gooders (they announce on TV how very good they feel after doing acts of charity even while the flood victims continue to feel bad) and what-have-you that all but drowned us again after the two great catastrophes of the past weeks that killed almost 700 (by drowning, landslides, leptospirosis, etc.) and destroyed lives and livelihoods.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Philippine Daily Inquirer/Opinion/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
(This piece is the continuation of last week’s column, “Deep calls to deep.”)

IN 2005, after killer landslides and flash floods brought the provinces of Quezon and Aurora to their knees, I wrote about the groundbreaking book, “Pakikipagkapwa Damdamin: Accompanying Survivors of Disasters,” (Bookmark) by psychologist Dr. Lourdes A. Carandang. The book was the result of her and her Ateneo de Manila University team’s efforts (funded by Unicef) to give psychological aid to survivors of the 1990 earthquake, the 1991 Mount Pinatubo and 1993 Mayon Volcano eruptions.
Carandang and her team’s “helping manual” could very well have been written for the 2005 Southern Luzon tragedy. It also found context in the catastrophic 2005 tsunami tragedy that killed more than 200,000 in Asia and Africa. And in the past two weeks’ deluge and landslides that paralyzed Metro Manila, Rizal Province and Northern and Central Luzon.

I am sharing again some of the insights from the book that might be useful for those who are helping individuals and groups, children in particular, deal with their recent traumatic experiences with the disaster caused by Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” and by human beings as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Father Mick: A fighter for victims of injustice

Philippine Daily Inquirer/Feature
TWO MONTHS SHY of 80, Irish priest Fr. Michael Sinnott has worked as a missionary in the Philippines for more than four decades, devoting the last few years helping disabled children, whether Christian or Muslim.

His abduction by armed men on Sunday night has shocked not only his fellow priests belonging to the Missionary Society of St. Columban but the leaders of the Philippine Roman Catholic Church.

Fondly called Father Mick by friends, Sinnott is the latest in a lengthening list of foreign and Filipino missionaries kidnapped by lawless elements in the volatile Mindanao region.

An aunt of his, Sr. Theophane Fortune, a Columban missionary sister, also served in Mindanao years ago.

In recent years, Sinnott had been in ill health.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

‘Deep calls to deep’

Philippine Daily Inquirer/Opinion/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” (Psalm 42:7)

These words were roaring in my head all throughout last week, rising and crashing like a thundering symphony. Like a movie sound track gone awry. Brutal, majestic, exploding like Mozart’s “Rex tremendae.”
Like the psalmist and Job, thousands of Filipinos were left helpless in the face of the unprecedented rage of nature that swept Metro Manila and Rizal Province to the edge. There were those who described the tragedy as “biblical” in proportion, except that there was no Noah’s ark in sight.

Like many lucky ones, I was high and dry in my Quezon City home during those terrifying moments. But with all forms of media churning out endless images and news accounts of the disaster, those who were out of harm’s way but wanted to be connected through various modes of media communication experienced what is called vicarious traumatization.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Odette and Ondoy

Philippine Daily Inquirer/Opinion/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
So many pieces have been written about Odette Alcantara and her life and times since her sudden passing on Sept. 22. She was going to turn 69 tomorrow.

I last saw Odette on Aug. 31 at the Ramon Magsaysay Awards at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Although I attend the awards every year and write about the awardees, this year was special because our common friend, environmental lawyer Tony Oposa Jr., was one of the awardees. Odette was there, wearing her “10MM” dog tag which one got by signing a pledge to care for Mother Nature and which Tony conceptualized along with Odette and their fellow greenies.

Suddenly Odette was gone.