Thursday, February 24, 2022



Factual truth-telling is not hate-mongering

 / 05:04 AM February 24, 2022

Quote card for Human Face: Factual truth-telling is not hate-mongering

Historical revisionists would like to equate truth-telling with hate-mongering. That to tell the brutal truth is to arouse hatred among innocents, that it is stoking hatred for those who had brought harm and injury to their victims, hatred for those who plundered the nation’s wealth and fled with everything they could stash in hidden secret foreign accounts.


Alas, it is made to appear that truth-telling means corrupting the minds of the young. That forgiving and forgetting should be the be-all and end-all and that everybody should simply leave the past behind and begin again.

On the other hand, to not tell the truth that one knows and has experienced personally, to keep quiet in the face of rising tyranny and repression, is to give space to deliberate falsehoods and to consent to the erasure if not revision of factual truths about historical events and commissions of crimes that truly happened. These factual truths either played out while the world watched or were discovered by arduous truth seekers whose only desire was justice for the victims and retribution for the villains.


One also needs to be watchful for subtle false insertions into history by spin doctors hired with monumental sums by those who want to disinfect their names. Sadly, there are, indeed, persons who have been hooked, whose minds have been polished clean of what they once knew and believed in but through faults of their own when they succumbed to enticements and entitlements that they believed they can justify.

Be watchful then. The devil is in the details, the saying goes, and it is in these details that revisions and erasures begin. Before we know/knew it, an entire narrative has been spun for the gullible to feed on.

But the painful part is the tagging and tarring of truth-tellers as self-righteous hate-mongers and communists. My counterblow to their solar plexus: Aren’t these taggers self-righteous themselves? These taggers are not unlike those who deny Hitler’s Holocaust or that humans had landed on the moon. There could be no harm in thinking that the Yeti might exist but to herald its coming and promise that a golden age is nigh is the work of dupesters.

A Facebook friend and writer (she co-authored books with Bishop Pablo Virgilio David) Nina Tomen posted this on her FB page (which I share with her permission): “To those who are asking, ‘Bakit nagtatanim ng pagkamuhi sa mga kabataan?’ (Why are they sowing hatred in the young?), there is a difference between sowing pagkamuhi (sowing hatred) and pagkamulat (making aware of).

“When parents are killed right in front of their children for being part of an unvalidated purge list—that is sowing pagkamuhi, raising a generation of angry children who may end up as violent adults someday.

“When people recount their actual experiences about martial law and atrocities of past and current administrations—that is pagmumulat, telling the truth and reminding the youth of their responsibility to opt for a better future by choosing the right leaders for this wounded nation.”

During this people power week and with a little more than two months to election day (May 9, 2022), it behooves us to rewind and look back on history. Here are free films on the dark years of martial law that can be streamed online courtesy of truth-tellers:


“Imelda” (2003), dir. Ramona S. Diaz (https://youtu.be/rBS7A_-bnwA); “The Kingmaker” (2019), dir. Lauren Greenfield (https://flixhq.ru/movie/the-kingmaker-2pzp4/1-full); “Batas Militar” (1997), dir. Jeannette Ifurung (https://vimeo.com/314920652); “Eskapo” (1995), dir. Chito S. Roño (https://youtu.be/WNzqRg_V2d4); “Dekada ‘70” (2002), dir. Chito S. Roño (youtu.be/jLxwM-bYpEI); “Signos” (1983), dir. Mike De Leon (https://vimeo.com/304516355); “Marcos: A Malignant Spirit” (1986), dir. Rolly Reyes (https://archive.org/details/82519507257); “Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari?” (1994), dir. Kidlat Tahimik (youtu.be/TrpVynO42Oc); “Coup d’etat: The Philippines Revolt” (1986), dir. Geoff Satchell (https://youtu.be/BWQHSJJ8OyE); “Betamax ‘83,” dir. Marcial Bonifacio (starts at the 7:30 mark: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=630523444278320)

I appear twice to speak my truth in Mike de Leon’s “Signos” (38 minutes) which was for Betamax then. Glad to have watched it again.

Those links were compiled by @kayacnvs (Twitter: https://twitter.com/kayacnvs/status/1490346059838550016 with edited working links). There is also a compilation of martial law books and documents by JCJ Koo: bit.ly/MartialDocs

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/150260/factual-truth-telling-is-not-hate-mongering#ixzz7sDUGcWcl
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Thursday, February 10, 2022



Journalists strike back

 / 05:05 AM February 10, 2022

How about journalists striking back instead of just getting struck? How about journalists suing instead of getting sued? For the likes of us, it cannot be turning the other cheek all the time.


Mainstream media practitioners, considered reliable sources of news and information because they have a code of ethics to abide by, because they have undergone training in academe, the trenches or in both, and have years of experience in their profession, are not pushovers or punching bags who always take blows on the chin and say, “It goes with the profession.”

There is a time to strike back. Or, to say it softly, there is a time to talk back. Or go to court. We had done these in the past when we had to. With guns blazing, so to speak.

Of late, journalists were incensed when presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator, said in so many words that broadcast journalist Jessica Soho of GMA-7 was biased, in other words, not pro-Marcos, the reason why he did not show up in her interview-format show where other presidential candidates showed up. The show turned out to be a blockbuster.

Citing a previous appointment, Marcos Jr. also did not show up at last week’s Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas forum. He was, it turned out, playing cook in a TV show around that time. It was becoming habitual, this not showing up for some reason or other.

You cannot feign distrust when you are, in reality, afraid that the hidden might be laid bare. Ilonggos have a word for that—cobarde (Spanish for faint of heart), euphemized as talawit (accent on last syllable). Will Marcos Jr. show up in the forthcoming Commission on Elections-sponsored mandatory debates?

Media has excoriated Marcos Jr. for his alibis and no-shows, for casting doubts on mainstream media invites and for what observers perceive as his preference for his diehard followers on social media. Media groups and individual journalists issued a couple of days ago “Philippine Media Statement Urging Candidates to Participate in Election Debates and Forums.” Here it is in full, for those who shun media because…

“Freedom for Media Freedom for All, a coalition of press freedom advocates, calls on aspirants to elective positions to help the public make informed decisions when they vote on May 9, 2022 by appearing at forums and debates organized by the media.

“As partners in protecting democracy, the media does not organize these events to demolish one candidate or highlight another but to help give a broader audience access to aspirants’ plans and platforms as well as potential blind spots and problem areas that bets would do well to address.

“Recognizing that elections are a reckoning for democracy, more than 300 newsrooms, individual practitioners and members of the academe pledged last year to put voters first in their coverage of the elections and the campaign. These debates and forums are part of that effort and are as much an opportunity for the candidates as they are for the audience.


“While FMFA recognizes that candidates have the right to refuse to appear in forums and interviews, such refusal is a disservice to voters who want fuller discussions on how candidates plan to address issues and crises like the pandemic, the West Philippine Sea dispute and the economy.

“The coalition is concerned as well that candidates’ hesitation to appear before the press while still seeking election indicates the attitude towards the media that they might adopt when already in power.

“Media has, in the past six years, faced officials who kept them at arm’s length and hope that the next administration will have better appreciation for the press as a watchdog on government but also as an avenue for public criticism, conversation, and compromise.”

Cheers to South China Morning Post correspondent and veteran journalist Raissa Robles for filing libel, cyberlibel and violation of the Safe Spaces Act cases against suspended lawyer and senatorial candidate (running under Marcos Jr.’s ticket) Larry Gadon at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office on Feb. 4. Gadon, in a video recording, maligned Robles in such an execrable manner, with graphic sexual suggestions and all. He attacked Robles for her article on Marcos Jr. But as I said in a previous column (“Rant from hell,” 12/23/2021), Gadon cannot invoke demonic possession or insanity to save his skin.

“Is that the mouth he kisses his mother with?” quipped Robles in an interview.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/149652/journalists-strike-back#ixzz7sDckRTJR
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Thursday, February 3, 2022



Guanzon’s gambit

 / 05:05 AM February 03, 2022

In the game of chess, gambit means “an opening in which a player makes a sacrifice, typically of a pawn, for some compensating advantage.” In the game of life, it is “a device, or opening remark, typically one entailing a degree of risk, that is calculated to gain an advantage.”


Many of us must have done a gambit or other in our lives, like resigning before being fired or sacrificing something and taking all the weight of it in the hope that a greater win would come out of it in the end. It may not appear to be the best legal and sensible move, it may even look like an irascible act, suicidal so to speak, but unknown to most, the gambit may have been, for the protagonist, a calculated move that has been weighed against all odds. Don’t we sometimes hear ourselves saying, “Wise move!”?

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon who was also head of the Comelec’s First Division played her own a few days before her retirement on Feb. 2. It was not an opening gambit but one at the end of her term. But it opened something she needed the voting public to know. And that is, that her vote as a member of the Comelec’s three-member First Division that she headed would not be counted after she has retired. And why not? Because, as Guanzon alleged, the ponencia (who was supposed to write the division’s decision on whether or not presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was to be disqualified) has delayed submitting the results of their deliberation as if waiting for Guanzon to first retire. This means Guanzon’s decision would count for nothing.


The first question that comes to mind is: what was the use of all those deliberations on the cases against Marcos Jr. (cancellation of his certificate of candidacy and his disqualification—two different things—filed by several groups of petitioners) if one or some commissioners’ decision would not be counted? Note that the Comelec’s Second Division had already come up with a decision which was to throw out the petition for the cancellation of candidacy (the only one of its kind) of Marcos Jr. but for which the petitioners have filed for a motion for reconsideration. Note, too, that two other Comelec commissioners are also retiring.

Guanzon’s case is different because she is retiring before her division’s decision on several disqualification petitions has been submitted and laid bare. Guanzon’s gambit was therefore to jump the gun, so to speak, and reveal her own separate decision ahead of her division’s decision, threats of disbarment and losing her retirement benefits be damned.

Guanzon’s reveal: she voted to disqualify Marcos Jr. on grounds of moral turpitude. “He is a convict,” she says again and again.

Guanzon has since been loudly proclaiming the reasons for her decision and revealing her suspicions on the delay, the reason for the ponente to wait for Guanzon to pack up and vanish.

Well, Guanzon has packed up and left the Comelec as of yesterday but she has not vanished from the scene. There will be more of her on billboards, she intimated during her open-air announcement in front of the Manila Cathedral and elsewhere. If Guanzon sounds extremely incensed and suspicious of Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, the ponente, it is because the latter has had enough time to do the writing, Guanzon said. Indeed, why the delay?

Ferolino has denied Guanzon’s accusations and cited reasons of her own, even saying that Guanzon had pressured her to decide the way Guanzon did.

At first, I thought Guanzon was going a bit uber (berserk may be an understatement), so unlike one of the judges that she was at the 2000 Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery held in Tokyo that I covered. There she was, I remember, cool in her toga, in the midst of the weeping and fainting of the aging sex crimes victims from Asian countries during World War II. Among them were survivors of the so-called “Rape of Nanking” and the Philippines’ “comfort women.”

I did listen to Guanzon’s interview on Iloilo’s Radyo Bombo where she spoke in Ilonggo. Despite the Ilonggo lilt in her speaking, she could not hide her dismay. She took offense at George Briones, lawyer for Marcos Jr.’s Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, for calling her “incorrigible narcissist.” “Matal-as ka gid,” she warned. The former mayor of Cadiz City (who did Silliman, UP, and Harvard) is on the warpath.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/149368/guanzons-gambit#ixzz7sDdJbnQf
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The unrepentant and the unforgiving

 / 05:04 AM February 17, 2022

Before all else, let me say that someone I personally know told me that in their Caloocan City barangay, a former relocation area for informal settlers, forms are being offered for voters to fill out and sign to pledge support for a certain candidate for a national position. Those willing to sign are to open new ATM bank accounts and write down their account numbers on the forms. They are promised money to be deposited in those new accounts. The existing ATM accounts of 4Ps beneficiaries (those classified as indigents) who receive cash aid regularly from the government will not do.


So it must be true, as the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has said, that “digital vote-buying” could be going on. It cited “red flags” for banks to watch out for, that is, big deposits/withdrawals and use of multiple accounts by a single person to send funds (“Watch out for digital vote-buying, banks told,” 2/15/2022). And, it goes without saying, huge numbers of ATM accounts being opened and ready to receive remittances. Granted that banks report unusual volumes of transactions and suspicious cash flows, how exactly will AMLC stop the money from flowing? Vote-buying by “job hiring” could be another form to win over voters. Anything to let the money work.

* * *

I would like to vent what has long been simmering inside me. Must we uphold the unrepentant and judge the unforgiving?

I have noticed a silent, creeping reverse way of thinking being made to take over our consciousness. And that is, that it is not okay that one appears and strives to be clean and upright, as if sitting on a high horse. That it is self-righteous and hypocritical, pharisaical even, the manner of the educated and elitist. That it is cool to be with the garapal, scoundrels, keepers of ill-gotten wealth, and plunderers of this world because they have a special place in Jesus’ kingdom. Because didn’t the God Incarnate dine with thieves and tax collectors? Didn’t Jesus promise paradise to the thief that was crucified beside him? Oh, the repentant one, that is. Jesus said nothing to the other crucified thief that mocked him.

A silent tsunami is taking over our value system. Something is being reversed and revised little by little. Those who stand for the truth after having labored to find it, or have experienced the brutality and cruelty of it in their lives are to stand aside silently, play humble and shy so as not to be called hypocrites, holier-than-thou, unforgiving. Yeah, while evildoers strut about with impunity. As if to be upright earns you a badge of shame.

And now even those who had been convicted of high crimes like plunder, those who hold on to and are living off plundered wealth are being portrayed as underdogs that deserve forgiveness, understanding, and even people’s votes. That forgiving the unrepentant is the only way to go forward. That the onus is on the unforgiving while the unrepentant should enjoy his cake and eat it too.

It is said that forgiveness takes away the heavy load from a victim (of rape, budol-budol, estafa, violence, etc.), a way to sublimate and expunge the pain. Even while the guilty goes scot-free? That the victim, to show forgiveness, should reward the guilty by uniting with him and give him a vote of confidence? The truth be damned?

Of late, I noticed regular appearances on Facebook of vignettes with black-and-white photographs of survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust that saw the extermination of millions of Jews during World War II. These are about individual survivors of the Nazi-run concentration camps where gas chambers were installed to kill fast and as many. The stories of the survivors are not only about cruelty and suffering but also about hope in the midst of adversity. Saints, scientists, artists, great thinkers, and writers were among those who survived to let us know.

Their stories are not tearjerkers meant for bleeding hearts but are the blazing TRUTH to counter those that aim to deny and obliterate it. For those who cannot visit the Holocaust memorial in Israel, there are ways to learn.

In our case, there are books to read and documentaries/movies to watch. There is the Freedom Memorial Museum that is soon to rise. It is dedicated to those who perished during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship and to those who survived with scars and the will to keep the truth alive. My archival materials will be donated there.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/149958/the-unrepentant-and-the-unforgiving#ixzz7sDbufCaz
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Leni’s Magnificat campaign moments

Before I proceed in a sober tone, may I shout out with scorn: Ang mga pinagpalista at pinangakuan ay nagtatanong: “Saan na ang GCash?” (Those who were made to enlist and were given promises are asking: “Where is the GCash?”) This is not hearsay. To those concerned, I say: You have spat on the poverty of the poor and made them beg for crumbs.


Now, soberly but with a victorious spirit undiminished by taunts, insults, bashing, and hateful language that could have been spawned in Hieronymus Bosch’s depictions of hell, I sing:

But what is May without the Flores de Mayo and the Santacruzan? What’s life without the childhood memories of May, of blazing summers and sudden downpours, of food and fiestas, of beaches and rivers, and flowers and songs?

I was on a Marian pilgrimage with friends two days ago, limping with a week-old excruciating pain on my right knee. Well, I can’t believe that 90 percent of the pain disappeared the day after. As poet Alfred Lord Tennyson said: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” And with the help of a special oil with the scent of roses.

Henceforth, many of us will be associating the month of May with the 2022 national elections and the unprecedented tsunami-like people’s support for a presidential candidate—Vice President Leni Robredo—who lost in the counting. Never has that been seen anywhere in these islands at any time in the past.

As of this writing, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of a dictator ousted by people power in 1986, is the presumptive winner. He will reclaim the pinnacle of power that was his family’s for some 20 long years, years that many victims of human rights violations consider a dark and inglorious past. For balance, may I add that there are those who believe that those years were “golden.”

As of this writing, the presumptive winner Marcos Jr. and his family are in Melbourne to take a breather and whatever else. On the other side of the world, losing presidential contender VP Leni is attending her youngest daughter’s graduation in New York University. (On a scholarship, Jillian finished with two majors.) There was the VP, flying economy, pushing her luggage, riding subways without security. But Fil-Ams greeted her warmly. With her term ending on June 30, VP Leni should now be segueing into private life while a dynasty will ascend to the heights.

But unforgettable is the new force, the millions who showed up in VP Leni and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan’s campaign rallies, the enormous pink throng that dwarfed those of her opponents. The young, the strong, the aging, even the infirm, and, yes, the dying, showed up. Magnificat moments.

“Show up” are now bywords because of how, these past six years, VP Leni showed up in disaster areas, in the most remote and forgotten communities where many fear to tread. And in election debates, too, that her closest opponent shunned.

VP Leni lost in the counting and because of the heavily funded and enormous social media blitz for voters’ minds, a loss that is not only hers but also of many young people who hoped in her style of leadership that they thought they could emulate and, with their warm selves, support in the trenches where many dwell. But it is not to be.


But the loss might yet be an answer to unsaid prayers—so that those who believed may not have her to themselves only but to many more. When hope dimmed abruptly during the counting that was carried out with lightning speed, the image of steady Leni provided a ray of light. Having worked with those on the fringes of society, she rallied the “new force” and promised to be with them in the work ahead, away from the trappings of power, the stink in government, and the culture of corruption. A Magnificat moment.

The first part of her campaign cry, “Sa gobyernong tapat,” may not come to be, but the second part, “Angat buhay lahat,” is on its way. July 1, 2022, mark the date.

The tears are drying up for those who had bet on VP Leni for their children’s future. I think of Mary’s Magnificat, her cry of praise and gratitude to God who lifted her up. Many of us have had Magnificat moments in our lives. The Magnificat is Mary’s longest spiel in the Bible where she says, “You have thrown down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly…” It is the story of VP Leni’s life.


Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/153138/lenis-magnificat-campaign-moments#ixzz7sDOW3VjI
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