Saturday, April 17, 2010


I read a news article about a candidate for vice mayor in a large city in Metro Manila who descended, along with the candidate's henchmen, on a group of MMDA personnel who were just doing their duty removing campaign materials from light posts and railings. The candidate allegedly accused the MMDA personnel of singling out the former's posters and proceeded to bully the personnel. According to the article, if not for the timely arrival of a police vehicle, the MMDA personnel would have been roughed up by the henchmen.

I guess the subject of the article represents many, but I hope not most, of those presenting themselves to be voted for public office this coming May 10. One word seems most appropriate for these people - abusive. If they are already abusive and act as if they are above the law while campaigning, what can we expect from these people when they do get voted into office?

Among my pet peeves are motorists using sirens (aptly referred to as "wang-wang" in Pinoy onomatopoeia) to get ahead of others in traffic. Then there are those who do not use their signal lights to indicate their intention to change lanes. These days, I've observed that many of these vehicles are those of candidates and their supporters. I am usually incensed that they do not have any regard for other people time and property and I've seen many incumbents running for reelection (or have their kin running in their stead) using government vehicles and police escorts to their advantage.

Transportation and traffic being an important part of what I am (I make a living in this field.), I can strongly conclude that one reason we do not have good transportation systems in this country is because our elected leaders do not have to contend with traffic congestion and the specter of being involved in a traffic accident. They get special treatment at airports and do not get to experience first-hand the inconvenience of queuing at immigration and waiting for your flight in sweaty departure areas. They don't experience the sardine-like conditions in trains and the mediocre services of our jeepneys, buses and tricycles.

It is sad that despite his claims to know what to do about traffic, a former MMDA Chair in fact rode a motorcycle escorted vehicle together with a convoy of about 6 to 8 vehicles and never got caught in traffic like most of us voters do. I know, because I've experienced being waved away from the convoy's path. Then there are those sporting the all too familiar license plates declaring they were senators and congressmen who seem always in a hurry for something.

I do salute public servants I know who are doing their darn best to improving traffic and transport and seem to have too little time to do their thing. Many of them remain nameless even after assuming positions of influence. But there are a few who have made a name for themselves for being mavericks in their own ways. Sadly, these people might be out of their jobs once a new administration is elected this May. I do hope they remain in their offices and am crossing my fingers that we do not have abusive people replacing them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Black Saturdays

We usually spent Black Saturdays at home. When we were children, our grandmothers and aunts told us that during that day “patay pa ang Diyos” (God is still dead.). The concept was easy to understand. After all, we were also told that Jesus died on Good Friday at 3PM. [As such, for some other reason, we were also made to believe that it was prohibited to bathe after 3PM.] We were also told to observe silence on Black Saturdays and in the province it was quite easy to be so since only a few AM stations did have programs and then the broadcast usually had the Holy Week theme. There were some homes that played old songs, apparently refraining from playing the more lively tunes and reserving the loud music to the inevitable Easter Sunday. These customs or traditions are no longer practiced today and the last time I was in Cabatuan to observe the Holy Week I did notice that people went about their ways as if there was no religious commemoration. People played popular music on their stereos and youth played basketball and other sports in the town plaza. Of course, there were still activities in preparation to the “Salubong” and Easter Sunday festivities the following day. If it were a homecoming year at the high school, then there were already “preliminary” activities by the different batches especially the Silver Jubilarians who were the main sponsors of the homecoming. [I will write about this another time as the homecomings at my father's high school deserves its own space.]

We observed abstinence though fasting was not strictly imposed in Cabatuan. I remembered I could even get away with eating in between meals as long as I ate only bread. Back then as now, I enjoyed bread even without the “palaman” as long as the bread was fresh enough. We never ran out of bread at our home in Cabatuan. There would always be “pandesal” bought from the local bakery that never seemed to close even during the Holy Week. But usually arriving on Holy Wednesday allowed me to purchase other types of bread like the star bread, which tasted like “monay” but had a sprinkling of sugar on top, and “pagong-pagong,” which was interestingly shaped like small turtles.

The “pandesal” was dipped in hot chocolate made out of tableyas. I have fond memories of the taste of the cacao concoction we sipped not in the mornings but in the afternoons. Morning drink for us children was either Milo or Ovaltine, still chocolate but of the mass produced and diluted kind. My uncle, Tatay Adoy, had a store back then and we would always stay in the store and acted as shopkeepers even if we couldn't understand the Kiniray-a spoken by customers, and we ended up always fetching Tay Adoy or our cousin, Manang Dora, who always vacationed from her work in La Carlota City in Negros Occidental (which was at the time a 6 to 7 hour trip by jeepney, boat and bus from Cabatuan as there were no fast ferries then and the highways were not yet as good as they are now) to attend to the customers. Frequently, the customers, realizing that there were “bakasyunistas” from Manila and that we were the children of “Tay Eyong,” would try out their broken Tagalog blended with the “malambing” Ilonggo accent.

I do miss those days and write about these times past but cherished as my way of documenting memories for those who wanted to have an idea of how it was during my childhood days – mostly during the 1980's.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Good Fridays

A lot has changed about how Holy Week is spent. It used to be that Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday was a period of reflection (or that it appeared to be) with few programs on TV and radio. Back in the day, there was no internet and cable TV was a status symbol for those who could afford it. Of course, back then people didn't have their own cell phones and malls were quite few. Around churches, there weren't any Jollibees or McDonalds open and selling “regular” fastfood.

I was not surprised at all finding so many people flocking to the churches on Good Friday. The Antipolo Cathedral was packed as usual with people receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, doing the Stations of the Cross, or even just loitering around being part of a group doing their Visita Iglesia with the cathedral as one of the stops.

I was not surprised by the commercial atmosphere outside the church. Vendors of all kinds were selling their wares to visitors from all over. There were the usual candles, flowers and even prayers being sold just outside the church doors. There were also the balloons and toys that often caught the fancy of children, some of whom were crying after apparently being told by their parents that they couldn't have the balloons. There were also some who were crying after their balloons got away from them and floated to the heavens as if they were offerings on this day commemorating the passion and death of Christ. Being Antipolo, there were also the various foods being sold by different stalls like manga, kasoy, suman and other kakanin. However, conspicuous are the fastfood restaurants who were all open and offered their versions of Holy Week fare – crispy bangus, sizzling tuna, etc. Of course, for those not practicing abstinence from meat, chicken, beef and pork meals were readily available and in plain view. You can even be tempted by the smell of chicken inasal in the air.

I think the same phenomenon, if you can call it thus, is happening all around the country especially in the cities where the commercialization of religious holidays are often pushed to the limits of what society will accept given the nod to modern times. It is something the Church needs to also accept and adjust to rather than be in denial of the change in the times and conditions, rather than dismiss such fact and realities as merely mores and excesses easily attributable to temptation and the weakness of man.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter in Cabatuan

No, I'm not in Cabatuan right now but I've always reminisced about childhood days when I spent my Holy Weeks in my father's hometown. It was a part of the summer that I've always looked forward to. It was a time when the family on my father's side got together, reacquainting themselves and exchanging stories on a year past and updating each other on relatives who were not able to make it to the informal reunions.

We heard Mass at the ancient church of Cabatuan whose patron saint is San Nicolas Tolentino. I remember my aunts, Nanay Pilar and Nanay Agrong, going to church very late Saturday night or early Easter morning for the vigil mass. The brought grain with them for these to be blessed. It assured us of an abundant harvest every year - El Nino notwithstanding. I was able to get a good photo of the church below:

I will always go back to Cabatuan whenever I'm in Iloilo. No excuses now especially since the airport is already there. But I look forward to less busier days when I and the clairvoyant would visit during the Holy Week and reminisce good old times with beloved relatives.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I never knew Dave that well. We were never close and I could only claim to be his acquaintance, though inside I've always felt as if we were friends. That's probably among his best traits. He made one feel he or she belongs. He made people around him feel comfortable and, may I say, good. He was always one to extend his hand and call you “pare” even if it were the first time you met him.

Most of what I know about Dave were what the clairvoyant related to me. He was, after all, a mentor to her. She was an associate at the law firm bearing his name and he took her under his wing as she sought to gain valuable experience in mostly corporate legal work. It was while she was with the firm that I met Dave. I have to admit that he was one of those people you'd call “malakas ang dating” but give the guy a break – he was a good person and oozing with confidence in that he projected himself as the best person in any given time he was present. Yet, it is always nice to know and feel that one knew that best person. The only thing he probably was not able to pursue is a career in politics – what could have been a nod to his great grandfather the gentleman senator that the busiest street in Makati has been named after.

I've wanted to write this piece about Dave after he passed away last Saturday. It came as a shock to all of us who knew him one away or another. His passing was so abrupt, so unexpected that one feels he had so many unfinished business about him. But knowing Dave, it only appeared as if he had so many things left unfinished. Perhaps if he were any other person that would be true. But he wasn't just any person. He was Dave and he was an achiever. He accomplished so much that he will surely be missed not because people depended on him buy because people loved him and his company. Dave was among the most decent people I've ever met and it is this decency combined with his kindness and propensity to be generous that he'll probably be best remembered.

On this eve to Easter, happy resurrection Dave!