Rewriting History

After almost half a century on this earth, I can say that I have been a witness to many milestone events. Spending half of my life in the Philippines and the rest in America, I would say that both of these places are seeing current events that history experts probably never imagined would happen.

This I can say for sure, as I have seen it happened: people who hated you today, will embrace you tomorrow. And people who revered you today, will curse you tomorrow.

As the saying goes, “the only constant in this world is change.”

Take for example the changing political landscape in America, where I reside now.

Who would have predicted that someone like “the Donald” who many considered as a joke, and many would not take him seriously as a presidential candidate, even in his own party, would end up taking the highest office of this country. And he won it in a convincing fashion too.

If you listen to all the hurled insults during the campaign period, you would think this world is out of its mind. Or maybe it is. A circus act? Racist? Sexist? Fascist? True or not, it does not seem to matter.

The people have spoken. He is the elected 45th president of the United States of America.

Politicians, especially from his own party, who have tried to distance themselves from Trump before the election, are now backpedaling trying to align with the new elected leader.

How would America be under President Trump? Let’s just wait for the history to write itself.

Then let’s go to the current events in my homeland.

As good students of history know, the former President Ferdinand Marcos was deposed and expelled by “People Power” revolution in 1986. I was in college at that time, and been an eyewitness and even a part of that historic event.

Who would have imagined that after three decades, he will be embraced again by the same nation that derided him as a dictator, and would consider him now as a great president and a hero, finding his final resting place at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.


And who would have thought that a name that has been synonymous before to a hero, or a name even toyed to be considered as a saint, would be the same name that many people would find now as unfavorable.

What changed?

But to be candid, people are restless and are always craving for a change. Unless that change that they clamor for is brought in, their loyalties would change. And that’s very understandable.

Whatever happened have happened. The events of the past did not change. It is the perception of the people that have changed. Whether it is right or wrong, I don’t know. Nor am I in a position to pass judgment.

Perhaps let’s just wait for the history to rewrite itself as the years go by.


That’s Entertainment

I would say in advance that this post has nothing to do with the defunct youth-oriented variety TV show with that title, that was hosted by the late German Moreno, aired in the 80’s – 90’s.

But that’s entertainment!

No, not that show. I was pertaining to the current best entertainment in the Philippines.

Who could guess that this will be more fun that any TV show, tele-serye, or even kalye-serye? I can say that we Filipinos can only provide this level of showmanship.

There’s drama, action, and fiction – all rolled into one. Maybe next time they will add some musical as well. Oh I forgot, there’s already that. Remember, may “kumakanta,” di ba?

But before you surf crazy the entire TV channels searching for it, or go into expedition to the movie theaters or broadways, I was just alluding to the Philippine senate proceedings.

Best entertainment ever. And this is “real” life.

Witness: Pinagbabaril na po naming yung lalaki, pero buhay pa.

Senator: Ilan kayong  bumaril?

Witness: Marami po kami, nasa 30.

Senator: 30 kayong bumaril, pero buhay pa? Ano nga ulit pangalan ng pinagbabaril ninyo?

Witness: Si Neo po, your honor. (*Matrix movie soundtrack plays in the background*)

Ghost of FPJ interrupts: Pinuno mo na ang salop. Isang bala ka lang!


I’m looking forward for more of this entertainment. Though I think it will become more fascinating, when the House will soon have their own “show.”

As our slogan says, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

I would like to end with a Filipino proverb:

Batobato sa langit, tamaan huwag magalit.

Or the new version:

Matobato sa langit, hindi matamaan kaya nagalit.

Proverbial Filipino

News from my country have been hugging the headlines lately and has been reverberating even to foreign and distant shores. Are you amused how interesting our nation is? Or you’re bemused and shaking your head that we’re just a bunch of clowns.

But perhaps if I present some of the old Filipino sayings or proverbs that are unique to our culture, and explain their meaning, hopefully this can help demystify us as a people.

For my non-Filipino readers out there, these proverbs may let you sneak at the Filipino psyche and understand our people better. For Filipinos like me, this will affirm what you already know and perhaps make more sense with regards to the current happenings in our country, especially in our political circus arena.

1.  Matalino man ang matsing, ay naiisahan din.

Loosely translated, “cunning may be the monkey, but it still can be tricked.”

This may give you an idea, why we fight cunning with cunning. Some even resort to trickery.  We even praise people with their “abilidad” of getting things done even if this does not follow the prevailing rules.

But there’s also a popular saying taken from the above proverb: Matalino man ang matsing, unggoy pa rin. Meaning, cunning or wise may be the monkey, it is still a monkey.

2.  Ang taong nagigipit, sa patalim kumakapit.

“A person in desperate need, will cling to the knife/sword.”

I understand that there are lots of circumstances that may be beyond our control that placed us in desperate situations. And desperate situations may need desperate measures. Even resorting to dangerous liaisons and means.

Though there are also circumstances that we are in, that is due to our own doing. Take the instance of the huge drug problem in our country, that no one can deny. People hooked on these illegal substances will do whatever means, even how dangerous they are, to feed their addiction. Sadly to say, those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

3. Walang naninira sa bakal kundi sariling kalawang.

“Nothing destroys iron but its own corrosion.”

We may have been colonized by other nations before, but we cannot blame all our ills to them. Hard to admit, it is our own fraudulence and corruption that send us where we are now. It is deeply ingrained in our systems and government, that it will be very hard to purge them out.

Though I still believe that we are a strong and resilient people. Yes, as strong as iron. But I guess we are not stainless or rust-proof.

4. Sa lahat ng gubat, may ahas.

“In every forest, there’s snake.”

This again reflects our long history and past experiences of being abused and betrayed. It is then understandable that it is hard for us to trust so easily, nor give our confidence freely. Because we believe, somewhere a snake is lurking.

5.  Ang punong maraming bunga, binabato.

A tree with many fruits, is being stoned.

Maybe this is peculiar to our culture. That is we have many tall fruit-bearing trees that are difficult to climb. So to get the fruit, we try to throw stones to it, so the fruits would fall.

So when people criticize or try to put you down, maybe because you have something that they don’t have. Maybe you should console yourself that when people try to throw stones at you, figuratively, it is because you have lots of fruits.

6.  Kung sinong unang pumutak, siya ang nangitlog.

“The one who cackle first, is the one who laid egg.”

If you go to a poultry house, you would observe that the chicken that cackles and is noisy, is the one who laid egg. This means that people who usually are complaining and accusing, are the ones who are guilty.

But there are also instances that people who are loud and noisy are the ones who don’t accomplish much.  They are sometimes the ones that have no guts to do things. So I believe the opposite can also be true:

“Ang putak nang putak, walang itlog.”

That I’ll leave for you to figure out.

7.  Ang araw bago sumikat nakikita muna’y banaag.

Loosely translated, “early dawn precedes sunrise.”

Meaning that before we see the light, we may experience some darkness first. Yet even with the faintest of light, this still promises that surely the sun will rise.

The Filipinos are very patient people. We have experienced centuries of subjugation and oppression from other countries, and also decades upon decades of exploitation and injustice even from own people. Yet the Filipinos are still hopeful, that soon the sun will rise.

Now that we are seeing a little light, please give us the time and the opportunity, as well as the benefit of the doubt, that we can rise from our darkest nights.




Balita Mula Sa Bayan Ko

Lapit mga kaibigan at makinig kayo,
Ako’y may dala dalang balita galing sa bayan ko,
Nais kong ipamahagi ang mga kwento at,
Ang mga pangyayaring nagaganap sa lupang ipinangako. 

(lyrics from the song Balita by Asin)

Kasama ako sa mga milyon-milyong Pilipino na wala sa ating bansa, ngunit lagi pa ring nakatutok sa mga balitang nanggagaling sa bayan ko. Masasabi ko rin na ang mga balita mula sa ating bayan ay umaalingawngaw hanggang sa iba’t ibang sulok ng mundo.

Hindi lang mga Pilipino ang mga nagdadala ng balita. Kahit ibang tao sa ibang bansa ay pawang interesado sa mga pangyayari sa ating bayan. Marami rin namang mga kritiko. Maging ibang lahi na wala naman mismo sa ating bansa. Pero ito lang ang masasabi ko sa kanila, hindi ba mga Pilipino rin ang mas nakakaalam kung ano ang mas makabubuti sa bansang Pilipinas?

Ako ay lumaki sa panahon ng Martial Law. Tuwing flag ceremony noong ako’y nag-aaral pa sa elementarya ay inaawit namin ang Bagong Lipunan. Sa katunayan, saulado ko pa rin ang kantang ito:

May bagong silang,

May bago nang buhay,

Bagong bansa,

Bagong galaw,

Sa Bagong Lipunan.

Magbabago ang lahat,

Tungo sa pag-unlad,

at ating itanghal,

Bagong lipunan!

Ngunit matapos ang maraming taon, hinangad din ng mga mamamayan ang tunay na pagbabago, hindi lamang sa isang kanta. Hindi napakali ang mamamayan, kaya’t sa isang pag-aalsa, ang pamunuan na nasa likod ng awit ng Bagong Lipunan ay napalitan.

Saksi ako sa mga laksa-laksang tao na nagtungo at nagkampo sa EDSA, na nagsusumamo sa isang pagbabago. Nakigulo rin ako kasama ng aking mga kaklase doon sa EDSA, ngunit pumunta kami noong umalis na ang mga tangke. Ang tanong ko, nagkamali ba ang laksa-laksang mga Pilipino?

Aaminin ko, hindi ako kasama sa mga bumoto kay Cory, hindi sa dahil sa ayaw ko sa Aquino, o dahil sa ako’y maka-Marcos. Hindi ako nakaboto dahil, kulang ako sa edad na bumoto, noong panahon ng rehistro.

Sa katunayan kung may sasama ang loob na napaalis si Marcos ay dapat ang aming sambayanan. Ang aking nanay ay tubong Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. Ilang bahay lang mula sa bahay nila, ang bahay kung saan ipinanganak ang dating Presidente Marcos. Ang bahay na iyon ay naging museo na, at amin itong pinupuntahan kapag kami’y bumibisita sa Sarrat noon.

Ilokano nak met.

Taga Ilocos Norte din si General Fabian Ver na dating kanang-kamay ni Marcos. At ang nanay ni General Ver at ang aking lola ay naging magkaibigan. Madalas ko pa itong nakikita na bumibisita sa bahay ng aking lola kapag kami’y nagbabakasyon sa Ilocos.

Pero dahil sa ngalan ng pagbabago, ay aming tinanggap at yinakap ang naging bagong pamunuan. Kasama ako sa mga nangarap at umasa sa isang pagbabago at mas maunlad na Pilipinas.

Lumipas pa ang mga taon, nang panahon uli ng botohan ng bagong presidente, ay nagkaroon na rin ako ng pagkakataong bumoto. Si Fidel Ramos ang aking napusuan at siya rin ang sumunod na pangulo ng ating bansa. Siya na rin ang huling presidente na aking nagisnan, dahil ako’y tumulak na at lumabas ng Pilipinas matapos niyang manungkulan.

Mula noon, ay naging tahimik na lang akong saksi sa mga kaganapan sa ating bansa. Isa na lang akong tagamasid sa labas ng bansa. Ngunit parati pa ring akong sabik sa mga balita sa ating bayan. At bilang isang Pilipino, ay lagi pa ring nag-aasam para sa kabutihan ng lupang sinilangan.

Ilang mga administrasyon pa ang lumutang at lumubog. Ngunit ang aking bayan ay parang nalulunod at naghihikahos pa rin sa paglangoy laban sa alon ng progreso. Lagi pa ring uhaw ang mga Pilipino sa mga pinangakong pagbabago. Ngunit hanggang sa ngayo’y hindi pa rin maisakatuparan.

May isa akong obserbasyon: bakit yata ang mga dating namumuno sa ating bansa, ay dinadakip at pinapakulong pagkatapos ng kanilang termino?

Ngayon, may bagong upo na namang pamunuan sa ating bansa. Bagong kulay. Bagong pangalan.

Sasabihin ko na may mga pangalan na tila mabango noong nakaraan, ay naging masangsang na sa opinion ng bayan. At mayroon din naman na ang dating dangal ay nabuwal, ngunit ngayo’y  unti-unting ibinabangon muli.

Kahit ako’y nasa labas na ng ating bansa, ay mayroon pa akong isang naobserbahan: ang katapatan ng mga mamamayan ay wala sa pangalan o apelyido ng isang pulitiko. Hindi rin ito nakasalalay sa kulay ng partido. Ang katapatan ng mga Pilipino ay sa ngalan ng tunay na pagbabago. Hanggat hindi ito nakakamit, mananatiling ligalig ang sambayanang Pilipino.

Sa lahat ng mga nag-aalinlangan sa bagong pamunuan, bigyan po naman sana natin sila ng panahon at pagkakataon upang patunayan ang pagbabagong kanilang gustong ihatid. Siguro naman, bawat mamamayan, ang hangad lamang ay para sa kabutihan ng ating bayan.

Patuloy po akong mag-aabang sa mga bali-balita galing sa bayan ko.


P.S. Nakikiramay po ako sa lahat ng naapektuhan ng pagsabog sa Davao.

(*image from here)


Pinoytransplant Goes to Iowa Caucus

Besides corn, there’s another thing that Iowa is well known for: politics. It is a fact that Iowa is the political epicenter and the state of the first major electoral event for the US presidential nomination process, the Iowa Caucus.

So tonight, after living here in Iowa for 12 years, I got to participate in my first ever caucus.

Since we were first time voters, my wife, my daughter who would be turning 18 this year, and I, had to register first and show our identification documents, before we were handed our ballots. I guess no “flying voters” here, just like in the Philippines, where even the dead can vote.

Then we entered this big hall and were given instructions on how this process would go. As I looked around the large auditorium, there were probably 250 to 300 people in that voting precinct. It was noteworthy, that my family and I, stuck out like a sore thumb in that group of people, for we were the only non-white or of a different race there. Not much diversity to speak of here.

Then we were asked to separate to different groups based on our candidate preference. As people went to different corners of the room, there were a few who remained seated. I supposed they were the undecided, or maybe they were just too lazy to stand.

Then each group picked a representative to speak for each candidate’s behalf. While people spoke enthusiastically for different candidates, I was really surprised nobody spoke for Mr. Trump. No one! Fox News should have seen this!

Finally after all the representatives have spoken, we mark our ballots and they were then collected. 

After the all the ballots were cast, most people made their way out the door, and only a handful stayed to witness the counting and the tallying of the votes. Its either they don’t care about the results, or the big snowstorm coming our way in a few hours scared most people to head home.

As I placed my ballot into the collection box, I knew something happened to me. I now can call myself, a true Iowan.