Davao Belongs to Us All

Nonfiction by | April 15, 2012

A city is like a coin. It has two faces: one shows the head; the other, the tail. The head is what the tourists like. It’s number one in their itinerary. The tail they hardly visit. Or if they happen to visit it at all, perhaps it’s by accident. Maybe they got lost. Maybe it’s a necessary passage, an unavoidable route that they have to take, to get to their actual destination. Either way, it’s out of the plan. Tourists, foreigners, and Filipinos alike, hardly visit a city to see both faces, unless he happens to be a UN Special Rapporteur mandated to gaze at both head and tail.

Davao City is no different. It has two faces. One is beautiful; the other, ugly. One is serene; the other, noisy. One is hospitable; the other, hostile.

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Remembrance of the Workshop Past

Nonfiction by | July 11, 2010

Almost two decades ago, writer Doreen Fernandez, a noted critic herself, pleaded that this country should have more critics. They do an important work in telling the readers which stories are good and which are not, which plays are worth watching and which are not, which books are worth buying and which are not.

Yet to us Filipinos whose sensibilities are not like the Americans’ it is hard to have critics around. We cannot withstand criticism nor have our work—the mere completion of which took us a long time to achieve—subjected to it. We take criticism, however constructive it may be, personally. We mistake criticism as an assault on our very being.

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149 Minutes

Nonfiction by | June 13, 2010

Nervous, I inserted my ballot into the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scanner) machine. I was nervous because the PCOS might reject my ballot like it did to the woman’s before me. She had to insert it six times before her ballot was counted. Less than a minute passed, and the words, “Congratulations! Your vote has been counted” appeared. I sighed. I was done.

What the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) said was really true. With the automated elections, the counting of the ballots would no longer take a long time, unlike the manual elections. But it’s too early to celebrate. Lest we forget, the searching of polling precincts, the lining up—all that, too, is part of the elections. And there are so many things that can be said of them. So many, in fact, that I don’t know where to begin.

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The Young Sultan and the Plague

Fiction by | April 4, 2010

In the days when the Kingdom brimmed with prosperity and good fortune, the dining room of the Palace flowed with food and wine for the many revelers. Expensive draperies festooned the windows; servants brought in exotic delicacies on platters made of gold and silver.

Now, the days of such merriment were long past. The young Sultan shuffled into a dining room dim and empty. No revelers, no food, no wine, windows closed, an eerie silence pervaded the room. Only a flickering candle on the round table held back the darkness. The sultan said sat on his throne, still uneasy.

While he was though how all this came to pass, the three Rajas, whom he was expecting that day, arrived one by one.

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Rising Above Ourselves

Nonfiction by | August 16, 2009

There will come a time in our lives that we have to make a big decision—a decision whose consequences we are uncertain of. It is not easy to make such a decision, so we’ve got to really admire those who have mustered a mammoth of courage and made that decision.

History is strewn with great men and women who bravely made a big decision even if that meant putting their lives and other people’s lives at grave risk. On a wintry day in December 1776, George Washington decided to cross the Delaware River. The supplies and provisions of Washington’s Continental Army were fast running out. The soldiers were hungry and destitute. Some of them were sick; others were dying. And many more would die, including their fight for independence, unless they crossed the Delaware River into the garrison of the Hessians where stores of food, clothing, blankets, and munitions, run aplenty. On Christmas Day, Washington and his men embarked on a bold move that would, historians say, alter the course of the revolution the Americans waged against the British Empire. They successfully crossed the river, swiftly defeated their enemies, and resuscitated the revolution.

Corazon Aquino, “Cory” to many, made hers when her husband, the former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was killed. The feisty senator was among those who were imprisoned when former president Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. Ninoy spent many years in prison, but was soon allowed by Marcos to go abroad for a heart operation. There, the Aquinos experienced a glint of peace. But Ninoy was a man who always wanted to be on the battlefields. Though he lived comfortably abroad, away from the claws of the dictatorship, he decided to come home. And he came home, only to be killed.

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