Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quo vadis? Try Latin Mass

MANILA, Philippines—Brush up on your Kyrie and Pater Noster. Ransack the old baul and bring out your lola’s lace veil and Roman Catholic Daily Missal in Latin. And don’t compare the lovely Gregorian hymns you heard the nuns chant long ago with what you’d be hearing.

Do you want to make a trip down church memory lane? If you want to immerse yourself in pre-Vatican II liturgical rituals and rubrics because you rue that the Roman Catholic Church is too involved in the modern world as, in fact, it should be as the church’s social encyclicals so urge, there is a place for you to go.

In other words, if you are a traditionalist and you want to find company...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Earth Hour: Saturday, 8:30 p.m.


Here’s the good news about us: Last year, the Philippines ranked first worldwide in terms of total number of cities and towns that participated in Earth Hour. This year, we can outdo ourselves by getting 15 million Filipinos in 1,000 cities and towns all over the country to participate in Earth Hour 2010.
Let’s switch off our lights at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, and convey the message that each of us can make a difference in reversing climate change. For one hour let us revel in the semi-darkness and bask in the sheen of the quarter moon. The Inquirer is part of this hour-of-darkness campaign.
You can win prizes by documenting your Earth Hour participation using your mobile phone or digital camera. Read the rules at http://www.wwf.org.ph/earthhour/.

Last Monday was World Water Day. It passed without much of a splash because of the election campaign frenzy. We thought more cool “watery” activities could have been held in towns and cities to find solutions and raise consciousness about the world’s dwindling safe water supply even in the face of killer floods and destructive rampaging waters from balding mountains.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Perlas best bet to solve water woes, survey shows

MANILA, Philippines—The water problem must be addressed holistically, said one presidential candidate. Another said clean water was a human right. Watersheds must be safeguarded, stressed yet another. Invest in physical infrastructure, one answered.

These were some of the responses of seven presidential aspirants to questions posed by environmental groups in a “Green Electoral Initiative” (GEI) survey, particularly on the issue of water.
To mark World Water Day Monday, EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace announced their ranking of the presidential candidates’ platforms on clean water. They were graded from zero to 10, with 10 as the “greenest.”
To dramatize the survey results, activists carried nine empty pails of varying sizes representing the candidates’ scores. They queued “pila-balde” style as if at a water pump, at the activity held at Quezon City Hall.

The grading on the water issue was part of a bigger rating scheme for the candidates’ environmental platforms, the complete results of which will be released in April.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tears, laughter, mark necro service for 'angel of budget'

 MANILA, Philippines—Stories about Emilia Boncodin’s frugality drew much laughter.

Tears and laughter—but mostly laughter—marked the necrological rites for former Budget Secretary Boncodin held Thursday night by her friends and colleagues in government service.

On the fourth night of Boncodin’s wake, her colleagues at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) took turns to share stories and anecdotes about her and to praise her dedication and integrity as a public servant. Her mother Cristeta and only sister Adel were present.

Patricia Santo Tomas, Development Bank of the Philippines chair and former labor secretary, said Boncodin’s idea of a treat for her staff was ordering food to-go from Jollibee.

“She also liked going to Kamameshi and Serye at Quezon Memorial Circle. Saksakan ng tipid. (She was miserly).” Fine dining was not part of Boncodin’s lifestyle.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Balangiga in the cusp of change

IT WAS, first and foremost, a nostalgic reunion of several groups that have had personal and activist ties in years past with veteran community development worker Oscar “Oca” Francisco who became a party-list representative last year, representing the Alliance for Rural Concerns (ARC). But our weekend gathering in Tacloban City, Leyte and trip to Balangiga and Basey in Eastern Samar were also Congressman Oca’s way of introducing the groups to developments in that part of the country, particularly people’s participation in local governance and community development. 
Trust Oca to blend the “alumni” of the three groups—National Union of Students of the Philippines, Student Catholic Action and the church-based National Secretariat of Social Action (where Oca spent many years in justice, peace and development work and where I got to know him)—and bring them down to the grassroots to see for themselves what is happening in people’s lives.
There were more than 20 of us billeted at the quaint Hotel Alejandro that provided a historic backdrop through vintage World War II photos that tell the story of courage and the struggle for freedom. And trust Oca to blend exposure to poverty alleviation and people’s concerns with fun and freedom such as ballroom dancing, singing and sightseeing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hildegarde and the 'Goddess at Sunrise'

UNTYPICAL and myth-shattering but beautiful is the trophy that noted sculptor Agnes Arellano created for the Hildegarde Award for Women in Media and Communication. This award is conferred yearly during Women’s Month by the Mass Communication Department of St. Scholastica’s College to honor and recognize the outstanding contributions of women in shaping the Philippine media.
Arellano’s “Goddess at Sunrise”, done in synthetic onyx, is a figure of a naked woman with arms raised and the palm of her hands facing upward. She is carrying half of the sky.
Well endowed on the hips, thighs and bosom, “Goddess” is a picture of fecundity, the antithesis of the stereotypical slim, lithe Barbie types perched on glass shelves. But while she is sumptuous and soft in front, her back tells another story.
She has a protruding spinal column of nine nodules that go up to the back of her slightly upturned head. She has a third eye on her forehead and a serpent is crawling around her feet. On the trophy’s base are signs and symbols related to Hildegarde.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Confession of a highwayman

THE MURDER A FEW DAYS AGO OF HIGHWAYS contractor Wilfredo “Boy” Mayor (2005 jueteng whistleblower) by what appeared to be hired hit men gave rise to speculations about what he might have known about shady deals in the domain of public works. The assassins pumped 22 bullets into Mayor’s Volvo 850. He had just come from the casino.

Those who know Mayor say the murder may not be connected with his jueteng past but with his foray into contracting and getting in the way of those who coveted juicy projects.
I don’t know Mayor from Adam. I have no idea who did him in. What I know is that public works is a messy, shady field which the weak of stomach would fear to tread.

Years ago, I sat down with a highway engineer whose construction firm was among those that regularly bid for huge government projects. He agreed to be interviewed for our Sunday magazine issue on corruption.

Caught in the web of corruption that plagued government infrastructure projects, the engineer admitted to brazen participation in the evil system but wished he didn’t and had a choice.

[highwayman n: a person who robs travelers on a road]