Sunday, November 10, 2013

SELF-SACRIFICING SPIRIT in Typhoon Yolanda Relief

Anyone seeing the heartbreaking images of apocalyptic devastation in Leyte, Philippines and nearby towns, one cannot help but to get emotional, shake his head in disbelief, and be moved to tears.  While Metro Manila hardly felt the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda last Friday (November 8, 2013), Tacloban City in Leyte was just waiting for the unimaginable destruction of epic proportion.  Just like a thief in the night, the Super Typhoon left with almost wiping out the entire city.

A general shot shows houses destroyed by the strong winds caused by typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. (AFP Photo / Noel Celis)

For those who were spared from damage, you can just say, “everything is already water under the bridge, time to move on”.  In reality, however, a huge, daunting OPPORTUNITY is right before us.  EVERY Filipino citizen can do his fair share in reaching out – regardless of one’s political color or religious affiliation.  More than pity and LOVE, cultivating a SELF-SACRIFICING SPIRIT is key.

Sacrifice means a loss or something you give up, usually for the sake of a better cause.  The all important question now is this:  What am I willing to sacrifice to reach out to the victims of the calamity?  While posting in social networking sites to share important messages of sympathy and doing acts of prayer can help, here are a few more ways to show it:


  • eating out next weekend in your favorite restaurant; 

  • dining in your preferred coffee or tea shop to have an expensive Frap or Pearl Milk Tea;

  • doing early shopping for the holiday season;

  • buying cases of beer and indulge in binge drinking to celebrate an occasion or clubbing with your friends next Friday night; 

  • ordering gastronomic food for delivery into your home;


  • and betting in the lottery or just buying packs of cigarettes for pure leisure;

why not save the budget for these items/activities and channel the same for sending donations in cash or in kind for calamity victims? (Check out the following link for list of Operations Centers accepting donations for relief:

A loving citizen can do the sacrifice - even for just one day if not for one week

Imagine the positive and refreshing results if each individual - a student, a worker, a professional, or a businessman - will find ways to do his share, showing this contagious self-sacrificing spirit. 

The task is never easy.  But with collective efforts to show how much we care for our dear kababayans who until now are stunned and grieving, every sacrifice can translate into something meaningful – one that is soothing to the soul.  After all, "there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving".  (Acts 20:35).

It is time to reflect, it is time take the initiative - NOW.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Araneta Center Ain’t a Giant Comedy Bar, Vice.

I would try to be as objective as I can on this issue that has swept the country by storm – from social media to mainstream media – while we await for the official start of the rainy season. For those who do not know Vice Ganda or not an avid fan of his, you can also learn a thing or two from his experience. 

Vice Ganda’s pronouncement - that everything that would be cracked inside his much-hyped concert should be taken lightly and in the spirit of having fun – is a weak defensive introduction. Even with this reminder or shall we say “disclaimer”, a person cannot simply be exonerated for seemingly malicious or below-the-belt remarks however camouflaged they are, as if he could do everything his way with impunity. It’s like him giving his captured audience a waiver sheet to sign on the grounds that whatever he does are all in jest and that everybody should just ride the tide without reservation. Any concert performer is not a god to impose his will on anybody. He performs at the pleasure of his audience - his extended audience included (more on this later). 

Likewise, Vice Ganda (VG) cannot compare his Araneta concert to just any comedy bar along Tomas Morato or Timog in Quezon City where dining guests can be ridiculed and mocked yet expected to be a sport. Those concert goers were definitely not those comedy bar-type with pre-teens watching alongside adults. There was a chunk in the audience who might just conclude it is alright to mimic VG’s comedy tricks and appear just as funny – without even aware of sensitivity issues. The dangerous but unnoticeable part is for a joke to appeal to the subconscious of the brain, bypassing normal thoughts and reasoning until the person already does what he has seen or observed. 

As a popular showbiz icon and TV host, VG should understand better the demographics of his audience. He could never assume his fans who trooped to the concert are his “only audience”. With social media and smart-phones almost a normal fabric of urban living, his audience goes beyond concert goers, it goes straight to the homes of private individuals regardless of age, background and orientation. That is VG's extended audience. What is reached by social media can never be of the same quality as the ones who are fond of going into comedy bars. 

And of all people, why choose Jessica Soho, a well-respected and award-winning broadcast journalist to be his subject? Is he clueless about Jessica’s personality and reputation in the industry? What if the subject was an ABS-CBN top executive or one of the Lopezes? Would he do the same and expect to go away with nothing? Or would he be more discreet? Vice perfectly knew that inclusion of Jessica Soho in his script would ultimately reach the media personality, her immediate family members, friends and colleagues. He and the architects of his concert have miscalculated the risks and thought Jessica would just ignore the incident and react like his diehard fan. 

He also said: "Tungkol sa isyu ng rape, na ginawa ko daw katatawanan ang rape. Lahat po nang nakapanood ng gabing 'yon ay umuwi ng bahay nila na walang naalalang rape.” – This was a sweeping statement. He assumed that everyone went home without remembering this part of his joke. This brings us to a question: How was he able to determine that no single spectator was offended inside the concert hall? Even survey firms SWS or Pulse Asia or the popular accounting firm like SGV may not dare to guarantee that absolute conclusion. 

With his public apology, we can expect the TV host to tone down a bit for a few days or weeks. As with any celebrity, the show must go on. But for VG who thrives on making fun of people – from ordinary to the prominent ones - to drastically change his style in delivering punch lines, it may just be a tall order. We don’t know if he will still be himself if he refrains from executing his usual antics. Perhaps he has to unlearn some of his habits that have attracted mounting criticisms and be ready to learn new styles while retaining his wit and straight-forwardness to some degree. For all we know, what transpired could be a blessing in disguise for VG, a wake-up call to save him from more catastrophic events in the future.

If there is one lesson to learn from this experience, it is this: No matter how famous or influential a person is, it does not give him/her the license to malign any person’s name or dignity – whether under the guise of a joke or not – most especially in front of a discriminating public. 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Respect and Unity in PNOY's Eyes

Whoever watched or heard the President's speech yesterday at the First National Criminal Justice Summit could either be shaking their heads in disbelief or applauding him for lambasting Chief Justice Corona "in his face". Some people have admired PNOY for being very straight-forward and brutally frank. As a President, he has the prerogative to say anything, they said.

But before we take side and let our emotions rule us, let us ask some vital questions whose answers are worth reflecting.

1> Does the President feel he has turned into a Mega Chief Justice who knows better than the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court? Let us remember the Supreme Court renders its decision on the basis of jurisprudence and the constitution - and not on the basis of political pressure.

2> Would not that kind of speech have placed an undue amount of pressure on the SC, which should always exercise independence and not dictated upon by any person - not even by the Chief Executive?

3> Can a person effectively persuade another to change his beliefs and philosophies by way of humiliation? Or would it produce exactly the opposite?

4> Is the President setting a brand new definition for the word "respect"? Is he teaching our people, including our children, to be insensitive, that a person has a right to speak his mind out no matter what the occasion is?

5> What happened to a popular saying, "Praise in public, Rebuke in private?" Would a parent humiliate his child due to some tolerable foolish behavior while a mass is on-going inside a church? Would a school principal tongue-lash at his teachers for their miscues and shortcomings in the school's founding anniversary? Or would anyone appreciate a guest speaker-foreign diplomat harshly criticizing the Philippines in an otherwise momentous occasion organized supposedly to celebrate the efforts of Philippine OFWs?

6> Did that public castigation of the highest magistrates of the land helped fostering UNITY and sobriety amongst the people? Or did it only add to the widening gap between his believers (some of them have already turned blind) and those thinking population who cannot be swayed simply by his charisma and popularity?

The late president Cory Aquino's famous battle cry is "MAGKAISA". After more than a year in office, Is PNOY truly living up to that billing and fulfilling her mother's legacy?

The answers are yours.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Warrant of Arrest Beneath the Surface

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, once dubbed as the Iron Lady of Asia during her Presidency, was served finally the much-awaited warrant of arrest (WOA) in her confinement room at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig last Nov. 18, 2011.  Anything short of it could have again be so unpopular that the Supreme Court would be have to bear the brunt once again.

There was a perceived jubilation in the social media networks, particularly Twitter, with netizens short of nailing her to a cross.  If latigo were still the prevalent tool for punishment, an anti-GMA could have taken one and with burning eyes whip the former head of state countless times until perhaps she pleads guilty.  There were even those chanting to see how this woman suffers, agonizes in pain in the face of her medical condition, calling her names, one even calling her a monster, another one - a dog (though the user did not specify what kind of breed she belongs to).

In the midst of cheers and jeers, ridicule and political paranoia, would it not be smart to pause for a while (STOP), reflect and ask ourselves (LOOK & Listen) how our personal reactions have shaped up?  Are we transforming into a gloating nation which enjoys Schadenfreude Listeni/ˈʃɑːdənfrɔɪdə/ (German: [ˈʃaːdənˌfʁɔʏdə]) - pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.  If a person is already suffering from his/her perceived shortcomings, should we add insult to injury?  If the accused  is already desperately saving her face from national and international humiliation, would it be so wise to even fuel negative passions and vibes? 

Are we taking pride as a nation to see a former leader, who had once earned great amount of respect from the international community for and in behalf of her country, in this bereaved situation?  Are we celebrating her current predicament, while international media and community are feasting over our political dilemmas (not De Lima's). 

Or better yet ask ourselves, after Erap's detention, have we ever realized that what is happening to this former leader is not simply an isolated case? That it casts doubt and suspicion not only on the accused but on the quality of our Filipino leaders - let alone leave an indelible mark on the credibility of the Filipino as a unique race in Asia and in the world?