Sunday, July 11, 2010


While there are strong evidence that this world is matriarchal as pointed out by some credible writers, I have no doubt that ‘This is a man’s world’ as expressed by James Brown and known tenor Luciano Pavarotti in a song with the same title during one of their performances in Europe. Indeed, this is a man’s world “but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl”, as correctly articulated in the song.

This ‘Father’s Day’ (2nd Sunday of June, I was told), I wish to dedicate that song more popularized by a men’s choir known as Canto Gregoriano, to all the fathers – legitimate and illegitimate (sorry for the distinction) because of their unique role in this chaotic world.

I need not make apparent what is already obvious about fathers role in rearing their children, providing for the needs of the family, instilling discipline, shedding “blood, sweat and tears “ and playing the role of superman most of the time, but I would like to share some truly inspiring stories of a father who took care of his kids like Leonidas to Sparta – Romy ‘Palasig’ Evangelista!

His life has many chapters full of funny and challenging anecdotes and here are some for the record. When he was working at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) he suffered a large cut on his head when he accidentally bumped the door of a parked vehicle. Instead of proceeding immedeately to the Infirmary of the Institute, he went home to San Pablo because he didn’t want to cause panic to his family in case they find out that he is confined in the hospital. At home he was met by Ruth, one of his daughters, who did not notice the wound and told him “Tatay, naku mabuti’t dumating ka na, hindi pa po laba ang aking uniform.” Without hesitation, he first washed the nursing uniform before he finally proceeded to the hospital for his wound to be sutured (9 stitches).

As a doting father, he consented to the request of his daughter Ruth who was then graduating from Nursing at the Laguna College to have his tattoed arm as trial-sample of a sick patient to be injected with empty surgical needles! Everytime the needle is pierced to his arm he would simply close his eyes to the disgust of his erstwhile mother-in-law.

One time, while he was washing clothes of his children, some male chauvinists who were passing by commented in jest, “Aling Romy, ano ang ginagamit mong sabon?”, to which he quickly retorted “Ajax! Kasi simula nang gumamit ako ng Ajax, lagi akong tumatama sa jueteng!” After that, he summoned the head of the group to a duel. The rest is history.

Romy has many aliases – Roming Tatoo; Jerome; Geron; Chairman of the Blue Water (whatever that means); and as a journalist, Palasig. He may not be perfect to the eyes of many but he is a good provider to his children, a doting grandfather to his grandchildren, a caring and affectionate ally to his friends and a very loving husband to his wife who happened to be me – the author.

This Father’s Day, I’m renewing my vow to him as his wife – to love him in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty till death do us part.

Of Mayor Amante and Charice Pempengco

Nine (9) years ago, Charice Pempengco sung at the birthday bash of San Pablo City First Lady, Mrs. Nercy Sahagun Amante. I remember it was raining hard and the makeshift stage erected at the vacant lot of their home was merely covered with multi-colored parachute. The rain did not prevent the guests from watching the program prepared by her husband, Mayor Vic B.Amante. Charice then was a very young singer who caters to the invitations of good-paying patrons on special occasions.

I remember she was sporting blue denims with colored bandanna wrapped around her head to protect her from the tiny drops of rain fiercing through the parachute. At her young age, she captivated the audience with her rendition of a song popularized by Sarah Geronimo. As she belted out with ease to hit the high notes, Mayor Amante who was seated among us commented “Ang galing ng batang ito. Tandaan ninyo, mas gagaling at sisikat pa ito kay Sarah Geronimo.”

What a perfect prophesy! Sooner than later, Charice Pempengco captured the heart of Ms. Oprah Winfrey who worked her way out to build her career. Now, Charice is up there shining among the stars of Hollywood, proud to be Pinoy like Lea Salonga, Liza Macuja Elizalde, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Paeng Nepomuceno, Manny Pacquiao and the rest of the Pinoys out there who captured the attention of the world with their talents.

The success of Charice Pempengco, a Lagunense, is truly inspiring. It lends invisible adrenalin to those who wanted to excel in their chosen field of endeavor. It provides room to dream and aim high. It provokes the imagination to aspire for something big. Watching Charice from a distance, you can tell yourself, if she was able to reach for her dream, why can’t I? Or you can even push yourself a little harder – if she can do it, I can do better!

Someone whispered to me “ang suerte ni Juan ay hindi suerte ni Pedro.” That may be true but you can always give it a try. My teacher in high school would always tell us to keep on trying because “It’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.” That way, you will not be visited by nightmares blaming you for your lethargy and indolence.

Going back to Mayor Amante, the progress of the city through his programs and projects are fruits of his dreams. Had he not dream big, there will be no Dalubhasaan and Shopping Mall to speak of; there will be no barangay high schools; no general hospital and covered courts all over. Had he not aspire for something grand, we shall remain lagging behind other cities.

Now that SM is here, there will be added income and job opportunities for the people of San Pablo. I just hope that the Macampong River traversing several barangays will not suffer the same fate as the once clean and beautiful Balatuin River. If Mayor Amante can prophesy the success of a young singer in the person of Charice Pempengco, he must at this early see, not just forecast, what will happen to the areas surrounding the SM Shopping Mall. The river beside it MUST be protected before it is too late.

Nationbuilding : Shared Responsibility

This week, June 30 to be exact, the reign of President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” C. Aquino, Jr. shall begin and the time in power of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - “the most hated President” according to critics shall end.

As we traverse the path towards the future with the new President, many are hopeful that there will be a change in the system from bad to better considering that President Aquino abhors corruption in government as shown by his political battlecry “Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap” - the very reason why he won landslide in the first automated election last May 10.

P-Noy, coined for President Noynoy, will be facing a tough job in view of the many problems left by his predecessor and he would need hardworking ‘partners’ to make the visions and missions of his presidency work for the benefit of the His true partners in nationbuilding are not limited to his would-be cabinet members but it pertains to the Filipino people who are dreaming for so long of seeing an advance, progressive and corrupt-free Philippines. Changing the system is not the sole responsibility of the President but of the citizens as well. If we desire to have a corrupt-free government, we should participate as a people.

We can start by obeying simple traffic rules; by practicing waste segregation; by getting rid of the infuriating red tape in government offices pursuant to the Anti-Red tape Act (ARTA); by paying our taxes promptly; and, yes, by asking what we can do to our community in consonance with what Abraham Lincoln asked the American people during that great depression in America. To reiterate that famous line, “Ask not what the government can do for you but what you can do for the government.”

“Barbarism, Foreignism and Literary Coinages”

My help was sought by a highschool student last week through his sister who happened to be my officemate asking me to explain the meaning of ‘barbarism, foreignism, and literary coinages’. It was fun because on that precise moment, I was contemplating on what to write in my column for this week and the topic appeared to me to be interesting.

Barbarism is taboo in a civilized society like ours unlike in Maguindanao where the barbaric Ampatuans live. For the benefit of those who are keeping a copy of this paper for future reference, let me elucidate on the subject. Barbarism came from the word barbaruz which literally means backward. It pertains to acts, deeds and exploits or perhaps utterances which run counter to the customary culture and way of life in a civilized society.

It is disgusting that in this modern world where a relative residing on the other side of the globe is just a text away, we can still hear incidents of barbarism committed by what we perceive to be intelligent people. Many celebrated cases dominated the pages of newspaper because the victims were killed in a manner that was repulsive to human senses! And the sad part is the gruesome stories were capitalized by some enterprising producer for their movie outfit!

The story of Lucila Lalu – I think the first chop-chop victim, sent my grandmother to the bathroom nauseating. Years after came the Elsa Castillo story, then Myrna Diones, and so forth. And so our lawmakers classified this kind of crimes as heinous punishable by death. In the native parlance, karumaldumal. What other word could better describe such crimes? And as far as I am concerned, all heinous crimes are barbaric! Sadly, death penalty had been abolished.

Now let’s go to foreignism. According to the book on the subject that I read, it comprises of words and acts that are unique and distinctive in a particular country, and are oftentimes adopted by residents of another country perhaps for convenience or some other reason. Some of the many foreign words and phrase that we commonly use are: bonafide; Sayonara; charge de’affaire; que barbaridad, assalam’alaikum, etc.

I see nothing wrong with using foreign words but doing foreign acts not acceptable in our society must be proscribed. What are these acts? Sniffing opium in China may be legal; Walking in skimpy apparel may be “in” in Paris; Maintaining ‘harem’ may be right in Brunei, but definitely not in the Philippines.

What about literary coinages? Well, these are words and phrases invented by journalist and writers to best explain their ideas especially when there are no words available in the dictionary. The term “imeldific”- from the name of former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos was invented to describe a person penchant for shoes while the word “tysonic”- from the name of boxing champion Mike Tyson who bit the ears of his opponent Ivander Holyfied, was coined to describe a person’s bite.

Sometimes, literary coinages come from utterances of public figures and dignitaries like the famous line uttered by Sec. Romulo Neri during the height of the NBN-ZTE scandal. Remember the phrase “modify your greed”? What about the phrase “lucky bitch” uttered by Governor Salceda alluding to PGMA?

There are so many words and phrases that would be encountered by our students and the best way for them to be informed is to read newspapers everyday. Good reading habit is a must for added knowledge.

Laguna Courier