Friday, October 31, 2008

We can all smell the rat!

I am on a four-day vacation. It used to be for a whole week but what can I do? The school administration does not think we all need a longer break. I had a lot of things I planned to do for these four days but as usual, I didn't know where or how to start. First there is that 26" X 36" blank canvas I purchased last Thursday hungry for paint. I have several modules to complete for school but then I am on an official educational hiatus so a moratorium on every school activity was in order. Then there were the meals I had to cook which were separate from the rest of the members of my family as I am now forbidden to eat meat. None of these were appealing until now, the last day of my vacation. So, what the heck, I'll just blog.

I had been following news on the PNP scandal. The other day, the title of the story read PNP gets refund, apology from 2 'euro generals'. Shouldn't they? However, I was of the impression that the money was still in Russia. Does this mean that apart from the confiscated money taken from retired Gen. de la Paz, the others received cash themselves? It must be. I don't expect these two shelving from their own pockets, do you?

There are many questions these people have to answer to us, taxpayers. Most of these questions have been already asked in the committee hearing headed by Sen. Santiago. Unfortunately, we have yet to hear the answers. So far, they have been giving lies upon lies to explain for the money. When Gen. de la Paz was still enroute to Manila, he gallantly said he would face all the accusations and provide an explanation for this escapade. But when the day of inquiry arrived, neither he nor his wife showed up. Instead, people who stayed in Manila like Mr. Puno, faced the committee, none of whom, seemingly knew where the money came from or who authorized it. I cannot help thinking that maybe dela Paz was given the gag order and was told not to go by those who played a big role in this caper. We see Mr. Puno and another general getting the brunt of the senator's anger, almost submitting like a meek lamb. But if I know better, I can almost see the entire plan. "Just let these senators do what they want to do. AFter all, they do not know any better."

We have seen the likes of Lozada who seemed to have first hand knowledge about the ZTE scam and yet, the forces that be are still scot free. I have this one nagging question that will remain unanswered: What could have happened to the supposed contingency fund money had not the Soviets inspector discovered it? Nobody knew, right? Would it have been returned to the treasury of the armed forces? Would the culprits, not necessarily the generals only, mind you, have kept it and deposited in Singapore?

What I know is that with the coming home of Mr. Joke Joke Bolante, this issue would be buried yet again just like its predecessors. Manila, nay, the country stinks with so many rats!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


My nephew is a drummer in a band called Powertone. One of their original compositions "Kama" hit the charts in RJ underground sometime ago. It's now on video. Be the first to watch it here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some people just don't do their jobs right!

When Jesus Christ faced Pontius Pilate, the latter, thinking that he saw that Christ was not really a dangerous man, offered to the public the release of either Christ or Barabbas, who according to Matthew was a notorius criminal as part of a Passover custom. Much to Pilate's surprise and regret, the public chose Barabbas over Christ (I was about to say Jesus but I just found out that Barabbas' first name was also Jesus) thus making him a free man once again. What this simply means is that an executive's power to grant pardon to a criminal has been in practice since Roman times.

A week has passed and still talk about the release of condemned Claudio Teehankee, Jr. who was found guilty for the slaying of 16 year old Maureen Hultman and John Chapman is still hot news. Why not? It is as controversial and as dubious as can be. The circumstances of his release caught everyone by surprise. The victims' families were not consulted nor were they informed that the government was releasing their children's exterminator. True to form, the equally controversial Gonzales, defending the President, says: "(she) does not owe anyone any explanation or advance notice" practically implying that the power is absolute. She can give it at will. There lies the difference with Roman law. Pilate had to ask the people directly who they wanted to forgive. Teehankee's pardon was said to have undergone review by a committee. And yet, Gonzales was said to have admitted talking to brother Manuel saying "Three weeks ago bago umalis iyan (Manuel)...umalis sa Switzerland, dumaan sa office ko, hopefully sabi niya baka sakaling mapalaya ang kapatid niya (Three weeks ago, before leaving for Switzerland, Teehankee's brother went to my office and said hopefully I can facilitate his brother's release)." Does this in any way say that it was a committee who has recommended pardon?

I am not totally against presidential pardon. This is if the spirit of the power to give it is justified. After all, the point behind putting men behind bars is not really to avenge but to give him time to think about what he has done, suffer the consequences of his actions and repent. When these have been met, and the person, after a good showing of good behavior, can be given back his freedom. Why deprive him of his liberty until death? This brings to the question of the release of Teehankee. Has he shown repentance? Has he paid his dues to society? I don't think so. Being confined in prison with all the amenities of a luxurious life, or so it seems, is not penance. It is a long vacation. Teehankee was condemned to serve two life terms. He has only completed 14 years in prison living in a "rich man's kubol, "a special quarters built by ex-congressman Jalosjos... (that)features a queen-size bed, a refrigerator, a private bathroom with hot and cold water and, not least, a 42-inch LCD television set with cable service." Sheesh, I don't even have a queen-size bed!

AS De Quiros points out in his column, "the murder took place as a result of a "power trip"...the shooter wanting to prove to the world and himself he was in command, he was in charge, he was the man." Now, come to think about it, most of the prisoners in Muntinlupa live miserably in their hell holes. Teehankee did not. With his release, thanks to the president, he just affirmed this belief that he has done away with murder.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

1000 views of "Girl Singing"

How many ways can a poem be viewed? A lot, that's what! Just as any other art form, a poem can mean a lot of things to different people. Interestingly, just right after I have done the translation of Dylan Thomas' poem, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight", an online friend, the associate editor of Our Own Voice,Aileen Ibardaloza, wrote me asking if I would be interested to join a translation of Filam poet Eileen Tabios' The Secret Life of an Angel after Jose Garcia Villa's poem "Girl Singing".

I could not pass on this one. I knew this could be a good challenge. Neither Eileen nor Jose Villa are unknown to me. I even urged my poet friend, Arlene, to purchase the book The Anchored Angel which is a collection of poems by the late poet and was edited by Ms. Tabios. Arlene gave it to me as a gift during one of my visits to Canada.

Anyway, John had the idea of making a project of coming up with a thousand views of "Girl Singing" and in Aileen's email, there were already about 30 poets and visual artists around the world who have participated. I guess I am number 31 as I jumped immediately at the opportunity. Since there was no translation done in Filipino yet, I tried doing a direct translation into our native tongue. This was very helpful as I began to understand the poem better. Next, I experimented on a concrete poem. Please take a look at my attempts. You can find them here and the concrete poem here. Maybe you'd like to give it a try as well.