Don’t kiss that frog

Many years ago, my daughter sent me a blog which made me wonder whether I was an unwitting accessory to deceitful propaganda. She wrote: “Remember that fairy tale about a princess who dropped her golden ball in a well? And a frog offered to fetch it in exchange for a kiss? Were you also told … Read more

Learn to read

How do you read a newspaper? You probably think I am being facetious, asking such a silly question. We take it for granted that anyone who is already functionally literate does not have to learn how to read a newspaper. In fact, in the realm of the written word, a newspaper is supposed to be … Read more

Longest and most cruel

Hunger is the most deadly tool of state terrorism. Since the days of the Roman empire or even before, hunger has proven to be the most devastating of all weapons of mass destruction. In more recent times, specifically on 6 April 1960, a certain Lester D. Mallory declared: “We should immediately use any possible measure … Read more

Pasig river, trying again

Sometime soon and God-willing, the 25 kilometer Pasig river will once again become a vibrant transport route for commuters like it was during precolonial and colonial times. Connecting Laguna de Bai to Manila Bay, the river has always been a major trade route for the distribution of goods from Asian and Middle Eastern ports; from … Read more

Lessons lost

Wasting water seems to be a national vice because many of us take this precious life-sustaining commodity for granted. How bitterly we complain when water has to be rationed during hot summer days, but do we ever stop to think of how water gets to where we are? Perhaps this appalling indifference stems from ignorance … Read more

A Speech to Remember

Commencement exercises are momentous events so whenever I am invited to address a graduating class, I start to panic. What relevant and unforgettable advice can I give? What ponderous message can I possibly impart? By chance, I came across Vice President Sergio Osmeña’s memorable speech at the Commencement exercises of the Manila College of Pharmacy … Read more

It must have been tough

It must have been tough for that first batch of American teachers who arrived in Manila on 21 August 1901, after a month-long sea voyage aboard a converted cattle ship named US “Thomas”. That was why they were called Thomasites. Assuming the Thomasites were given a thorough briefing of what life is like in the tropics, … Read more

Bedtime stories

Bedtime stories are meant to be reassuring and soothing so a child slowly falls into a deep slumber without a hint of fear or dread. My maternal grandmother whom I called Oyay used to scold my yaya for putting me to sleep with frightful stories of kapre, tikbalang and manananggal, denizens of Filipino mythology which … Read more

Forgotten Wars, 2

We have forgotten about those wars waged by the United States of America against the sultanates and principalities in Mindanao and Sulu, but to our Muslim brothers and sisters, the historic wounds have not quite healed. In his revealing book, Muslims in the Philippines, Dr. Cesar Adib Majul related how the “Moro Wars” conducted by … Read more

Forgotten Wars, 1

In July 2007, when Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was the sitting president, fourteen marines were beheaded in Basilan, ten of them also mutilated. The suspected murderers were members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ( MILF), reportedly a break-away group of the Abu Sayyaf. On 25 January 2015, when Benigno Aquino III was president, forty-four … Read more