Impeaching

larawan ng isang martilyong ginagamit sa pandinig

Not just the fate of the person but of the country’s institution/ smh.com.au

Before the day ends, the Philippine Senate – meeting as an impeachment court- will decide the fate of the country’s Chief Justice. Whether the highest magistrate will be pronounced guilty or not, will depend upon the judgment of the 23 Senators,  assuming that they weighed the evidences and the arguments presented, in a circumspect manner. The country’s fate hangs in the balance, not just the chief magistrate’s.

A lot of people in the Philippines believe that the whole exercise is motivated by politics. They say that the current President has an ax to grind against the highest official of the Supreme Court and his administration hatched and organized the whole proceeding to pin down a loyal appointee of the previous dispensation. This could be true in some ways. But I would like to believe that the President considered everything before embarking on what others term as mere “personal vendetta.”

He knows what’s on the line here. He is aware that the country cannot afford more divisiveness at this point. He is conscious that impeachment, as a democratic process, has both strengthening and debilitating effects to a fledgling nation and a hopeful people.  If the exercise succeeds in pointing out the bad deeds and in weeding out the bad guys, then points go to the strengthening part. If it doesn’t, then, we go the other way. The exercise will only have shown more ineptness, more grandstanding  and more of the usual, merry ways of people in high offices. I would like to believe that the President and his men considered those.

Now at the climax of the affair, the Senate members vote this afternoon. Million pairs of eyes and ears will be watching and listening. In the first place, the whole thing was followed by the people for five months, with much ado as a cockfight and a telenovela combined. Impeaching the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court! Why, yes, only in the Philippines… We had two impeachment proceedings before, one involved a former president of the country,  no less. The other one was aborted – it involved the head of the Ombudsman.  She resigned before the Senate started trial.  To think that an impeachment is usually protracted, costly  and laborious. Am thinking, this last one should be the last, in a long time…

When we were in high school, we studied the term magistrate. The lesson said that a magistrate is not only one who is wise, but who is also a person of unquestionable integrity. Why? It is so because that is deemed the only way he could function in his full time duty of arbitration and adjudication of conflicts. The term has its roots in China, where civil service is prized highly and  government officials who earned their place in the bureaucracy are regarded higher over those who got there by election or political appointment. Am telling you this precisely because to a large extent, an impeachment is about that.

As a political set-up, democracy provides for mechanism to remove erring, non-performing and unfit elected officials. There is the recall procedure for officials elected at the local level (and for certain officials at national level). On the other hand, for the top national, sensitive positions, there is the impeachment procedure. To impeach means to cast doubt on the fitness of the occupant of the position – the elective office. It must be noted that what is being protected by the mechanism, as contemplated in the country’s Constitution, is not the person but the office. The premise being, the office must be held by someone whose integrity is unimpeachable. In other words, his character and fitness must be unassailable.

Thus, by tradition, not only in the Philippines but also in other countries that profess to be democratic, the mere filing of an impeachment case in itself, constitutes questions to the fitness. Ideally, it shouldn’t come to the point that the esteemed high official will be hailed to court, in an impeachment court at that. Why? Because it  seems that no one wins that game. The legality could be traversed, it could even be pointed out that the allegations are mere fabrications  or cover-ups for bigger shortcomings.  More often,  it is not a matter of mastering the legalese or presenting the sharpest legal points, no. It is about being unassailable. With the public at large watching and judging as well, it’s tough water. Anybody, I suppose, who is subjected to a thorough examination, through the looking glass, will have a hard time coming out squeaky clean.

 

larawan ng hustisyang nagtataguyod ng paghihilom

After the procedure, people should feel that some measure of justice have been delivered/ co.dodge.wi.us

 

And so it goes. As I am typing this, nine (9) senators voting as impeachment judges have already cast their votes. I am watching the last leg of the trial via live webcast and the reception is not going smoothly. It is a bit like Philippine style democracy – too many rough roads and yet, no end seems to be in sight. It is exciting, as always. 😉

 

The origin of my so-called sentiments

Image of a mountanous area in the Southern Tagalog region of the Philippines

Our place was not exactly locked by mountains but lack of concrete roads 30 years ago minimized access to commerce and education/ http://www.islandsofthephilippines.com

 

My sentimentality could probably be traced upon those rice fields I walked on when I was little. I grew up in the boundary of two small villages surrounded by mountains on three sides. The fourth mountain’s already too far to fence in our humble settlement, our little civilization in that forgotten side of the province. And anyway, it’s actually a mountain range that stretches too long – too bluish green, too distant and too far –  from where my family and I used to live. Thus, the first strong feeling I had, was my wonderment at what could be there, beyond those mountains. Every time I would walk on those paths in the fields with some of the rice leaves touching my face, I would resolve to get out of the barrio to see for myself what could be out there, beyond and away.

The second sentiment, I believe, has something to do with slippers. In our place, walking was a way of life. By the way, am talking three decades ago when cemented roads was but a dream. It was common in those days to be walking three to four kilometers going to a place and same distance going back. Thus, a pair of slippers had the utility almost similar to having a car in the modern days. But a family with a dozen members could barely afford such – each child was accorded one pair a year. With a fair amount of walking, a pair could hardly hold up until the middle of the year. Our slippers usually had big holes in them. Stepping on the city for the first time when I was ten,  imagine the consternation I felt upon seeing hundreds and hundreds of pairs being sold in the market. I think that was my first realization that we were very poor…

The third and possibly the strongest sentiment I had and still have, has something to do with learning. There were very few books in our house as there were some borrowed copies of old magazines and practically no writing materials.  I think our mother endeavored to buy a pencil or a pen and a crayon set for each child every start of school year but that was it. We had to borrow or make do in between, practicing writing at the back of her student’s checked exam papers. No books were bought for us from elementary to high school, the slim family budget saw to that. My siblings and I all went to public  schools during our primary and the books we used then were government- issued. The book ratio during my time was 1:3, that is, one book for every three students. All of us survived that phase, I guess. There really wasn’t much choice.

 

 

In high school, I saved for months to be able to buy my first two textbooks. It was mandatory for students to have a personal copy, our teacher was the author. The fateful subject was Practical Arts or Home Economics, in third year and fourth year. Going thru the texts of the slim book, I felt proud as could be.  Putting coins in my Johnson’s Baby Powder piggy bank paid off, haha. ^_^

 

larawan ng johnson's baby powder

One bores a hole on the top of the canister to make a piggy bank/ evecare.com

 

 

Well, I barely know this guy… But at the rate he’s bashing and blasting every blogger (well, almost), I might as well echo some of his mischievous words and try WordPress’  reblogging feature. He prides himself on toilet humor but has got most people laughing their asses off, in the and on the way out of, the bathroom, haha. Claims he’s from the low end of the spectrum. Now, what does that make us, huh? He’s some kinda… Here’s BBB. Have a good laugh, folks! 😉

bestbathroombooks

As most of you know, besides my incredibly successful blog bestbathroombooks, I work for WordPress.  They hire me from time to time to show other bloggers that writing a blog is easy, fun and not a complete waste of their lives.  I think we can all agree I’ve done a spectacular job.

Well, actually, too good a job.  The WordPress servers are overloaded with bloggers.  WordPress executives are depressed.  So they hired me again.   This time they asked me to write a few demotivational posters, and, because the money is ridiculous (I’ve already retired six times off of this blog and WordPress fees), I said I would help.

There’s nothing that breaks my heart more than depressed multi-millionaires.  So here are ten posters that will live on in cyber-space forever and help WordPress stay afloat.  I hope they demotivate enough bloggers so that you—the important ones–can keep blogging…

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The Kina Grannis Variety

 

You can bet my sister grilled me for discussing Jason Mraz again in my post, haha. In addition, she castigated me for mentioning Kina Grannis, the young,  Californian pop singer, while describing the music of Elisa, the Italian pop singer. She said I was  being a snob and trying to pick a fight with Kina Grannis’ fans, of which I know there are legions. When I told her that I often listen to Kina’s songs, she wouldn’t believe me. I said I have spent more time watching the singer’s videos on Youtube and on Vimeo than I have, listening to Elisa’s songs.

The sister then gave me a mini-quiz to verify my claim. After a while, she asked me if I have heard Kina’s rendition of Fast Car. Of course, the answer was yes. I then told her what I thought of Alejandro, the guy from the Boyce Avenue band who sang the Tracy Chapman song with Kina. She was convinced, finally – I seem to be familiar with Kina’s songs alright. Story was, when Boyce Avenue went to the Philippines, the sister happened to be seated next to the band members, on the flight from Cebu to Manila. She said they were cool and kind, asking her questions about the Jabbawockeez. At any rate, she still wants to whack me for having written about Kina that way, haha.

 

 

Lest people think that I am a fat, jealous loser (FJL) who envies Kina Grannis for her talent, beauty and popularity, let me say that is only partly true. Haha, this feels like convincing the traffic officer why I shouldn’t be made to sing the national anthem before the staring public when I did in fact, jaywalk. For one, I ain’t fat. For another, it takes a whole lot to make me jealous. Lastly, me a loser?  Why, I’m a blogger! 😉 Neither fat nor jealous and listens attentively to Kina Grannis’ songs – that’s me. Know what? I wish I could be like her. Don’t you? 🙂

Although both artists play pop music, Elisa and Kina sing different songs as they come from different molds. My guess would be that the messages of Elisa’s songs are tough love. Listening to her, one could sense the aches, the difficulties and the struggles as a person tries to grapple with the confusions and the hardships that go with life. On the other hand, Kina’s songs – as seen on MTVs – often have green grass, playful clouds and pretty flowers in them. I think the messages being conveyed are, that love is just around the corner and that dreams do come true. And doesn’t it make a lot of sense  for somebody that young?  It does.

 

 

I’ve met difficult situations and have had my share of hardships and that would perhaps explain why Elisa’s songs strike a chord with me. But just like the next person, I wish and long for sunny days, happy times and love realized. Preferably, with plenty of cheerful music thrown in, haha. Thus, I can understand myself (yes, this self that often lends itself beyond understanding) being drawn to Kina’s songs likewise. And while I am painfully aware that not everybody can be like Kina or Elisa – young talents who sing their way into our hearts and into the world – I am glad that there are a few who can, and do.

And while much can be said about songs being vehicles for propaganda, tools for escapism and there being unequal opportunities for commercialization of talents, I hold that one’s personal choice of songs can be fluid and varied. A person watches, listens to and sings along with the artists whose songs reflect his or her personal sentiments in life. And even as that life may not be as grand, as semi-charmed or as easy or as difficult as portrayed in the music video or, in the artist’s life, it remains one’s choice what kind of music he or she will patronize. I humbly suppose that to a large extent, music is instinctive. In the early stage, our exposure to it is captive, exploratory the next and a little more discriminating, as we trudge farther along.

Thus, a fan or a listener gains knowledge, if not sophistication, in music as he or she is exposed to more and more of it. Methinks a person comes around to it, ultimately. And it is not for me to tell whether one should go for the artist who gives the message and the melody to you hard or soft, as it is for you to believe. Heck, I can barely carry a tune. More often, I only remember the chorus part, dang! But I’m prattling. I said that Elisa’s music is not the Kina Grannis variety, yes. I did not mean that Kina’s music is inferior but only different. Thus, if there is any I have offended, sorry – truly sorry. No intention to bring Kina down or to lift Elisa or myself up.  I like Kina and her songs. There.

By the way, here is the Tracy Chapman original rendition of Fast Car. For those unfamiliar, Tracy is a female who looks and sounds like a male (no pun intended). She sings great! She was huge in the music scene from the late 80s to the 90s – singing about the plight of the black, poor and downtrodden people in the modern times. She is still very much around. Hey, this is where my sister and I agree – that Tracy Chapman is one superb singer and songwriter. 🙂

 

 

“Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they are yours. “

– Richard Bach

 

Brownie Points

 

The recent days have been bright, bright, bright, as one could imagine. Yep, that’s how it is being in a tropical country, yo! The sun rays permeate and light up everything – from the dark corners, to the clotheslines at the back of one’s house, to the streets and avenues, yes. Did I say that the roads are scorching hot? Yes, they are. It’s summertime over here, folks. Once a person is out of the air-conditioned room, he is sweating from his head, to his neck, and of course, at the armpits, haha.

 

larawan ng sampayan ng damit

Summertime, clothes dry faster/ craftrooms.blogspot.com

 

To say it is humid is to understate things,  a whole lot. Somebody said that there are two seasons in the Philippines: hot and very hot. That’s a joke, of course. It’s actually wet and dry. But hey, there are months here when things are wet, wet,wet. Kiddin.’  There are months when the rains fall without let up. Storms do visit us like an arduous suitor – here now and here again, later. But that’s a fact. We get an average of 19 storms a year. That partly explains the resiliency of Filipinos – we’re used to rebuilding, haha.

Anyway, as bright and hot as the days are, am illumined and gladdened by the fact that there are actually a couple of souls who read my blogs. It is an experimental site, as I said to some online friends a few months ago. It isn’t like I don’t write in English in real life, I do.  But for a long time, I did not take pride in it, to be honest.  Most of the things I’ve written so far are related to Economics, politics (governance, development, regulation) and hundreds of  business letters, haha. I’ve written mostly behind the scenes.

So, when the idea of doing a blog in English occurred to me, I was unsure as to what to put in, seriously. I thought, if one’s going to write a blog and in English at that, she must have a bunch of friends who would read and follow the same avidly – via Facebook or other social media. Thing is, most of my friends are now busy raising their kids. They’re not into blogging, as writers or readers or both. And old-fashioned me does not have a Facebook account. Thus, I didn’t think this site would be patronized – by friends and strangers alike. It turned out, I’m wrong, one way or the other.

Happily, more than three people bother to drop by here, every now and then (Huge thanks, you, lovely people! Lab, lab, lab ;)). Some leave their marks via Like, some even ask thought-provoking questions and some leave cheerful remarks. These are beyond what I hoped for or expected. Back then, I thought I’d be left alone for the most part.  But that was false thinking, I can see now. In blogging, there appear to be brownie points. Yeah! Why didn’t I think of that before, huh? And one does encounter different sorts, at different time zones, haha. 😉 She comes across serious writers, as well, who also happen to be diligent readers.

larawan ng VBA

Too early for this but I ain’t returning it. *wink*

Coincidentally, one of them is Mars of the positive toxicity.  She’s a Filipina in her early twenties. We have not met personally, yet. I tagged her once and the grateful daughter of the quilt that she is,  she has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Some repayment, huh? I would have liked to pull her hair and call her attention to the fact that I’ve not written anything here that deserves accolade. But she seems to be the kind that’s hard to convince. So, am not gonna try. Am not going to return it, either. It doesn’t happen everyday, see? Thus, I am accepting it, with all the smugness I can muster (I copied that one),  and, with all the gratitude – thank you, Mars. May your blessings multiply and may your writings get better and better… 🙂

 

Seven Random Things:

 

1. I am afraid of the camera – afraid to hold it and afraid to have my photos taken. My sibling likens this to tribesmen’s fear of having their souls taken away when the apparatus clicks.

2. I was a tall, thin girl for a long time – string-bean Tina type.  Several years and several pounds later, several people could hardly recognize me. It’s the same me, only thicker in the middle, huh?!

3. I am seriously aggrieved by a flying cockroach – just like Mars, I hold that crawling cockroaches are facts of life, but flying ones are a different matter altogether.

4. I drink coffee three times a day. I would have wanted more but one needs sleep.

5. I take long walks whenever I can. When I was younger, it was jogging.

6. I buy sauteed peanuts off the pushcart whenever I do marketing.

7. I used to have a site (blog) in Tagalog that talks about life in the countryside in the days before most Filipino bloggers were born, ahaha. 😉

 

I have tagged most of these people before, but I guess it’d be fun to check them out once again:

 

larawan ng brownies

Thank you for reading this far. ;)/ browniepower.com

Thanks for reading. Have a good weekend ahead, folks! Many happy returns… 🙂

 

Firmaments

larawan ng langit na dumidilim bago lumubog ang araw

Overcast sky by the MOA baywalk before the sun sets…

The firmament does magic. Go to the Mall of Asia bay before six in the evening to see, not just how the sun sets, but also how the sky transforms itself. At this hour, the ceiling of the horizon might be overcast, but with no evidence of rain about to fall.

larawan ng tabing-dagat ng Maynila sa dapithapon

People come around to be by the sea, to experience wide space after work or school.

Underneath this awning,  there is the darkening, glistening sea… Its waves, gently lapping the rocks by the breakwater.

Larawan ng mga along tahimik na humahampas sa mga bato sa baybay-dagat

The water seems to whisper softly onto the rocks.

The promenade and the surroundings still look and feel clear. There is no need yet to turn the camera’s night mode on.

larawan ng lakaran sa may tabing-dagat katapat ng Mall of Asia

The night and the day wrestle for the dominion of the sky.

Plenty of ambient light, although the coming of the night is pre-announced by the soft, cool winds blowing from the Northwest. Only the fishy, tangy smell of the sea reminds one of the nearness of this gigantic body of water.

larawan ng mga taong nanonood ng pagpapalit-kulay ng langit sa dapithapon

Watching the sky transform and the sun set by the Manila’s breakwater…

* This is an excerpt from a much longer write-up written on January 20, 2012, with the title, Of Firmaments and Skyscrapers, an essay discussing the Manila Bay sky and the buildings in Makati’s central business district. Photos were taken by somebody who is not claiming to be a photographer, at the MOA baywalk, on January 17, 2012.

** The site has a humble gravatar, finally, taken from the the said photo series. 😉

there’s always a rich relative

larawan ng isang matriarch

The rich relative has connections, for sure/ antoniotahhan.com

In writing as in life, there’s always a rich relative. While this character may know little about literature, the arts and classic architecture, it figures prominently in most writers’ works. It may be there as a symbol of an era gone by, an exhibit of social mobility or simply, a portent of things to come. But there it is,  always – the prosperous one – the one that has tons of money. The one who made it to the top by sheer and dogged determinism. And lots of roughness, of course. But didn’t I say that people from this class think that literature, the arts and architecture are simply subjects in college? They think they’re in the same league as notebooks –  stuffs that could be bought and just as easily?

Anyway, why am I propounding this? If you have to make a career out of writing, there’s got to be one, up close. By saying you’ve got to have one doesn’t mean that that relative who can afford to drive a car, dine at Megamall on Sunday evenings and look all pat and respectable in their clothes and offices. No, you got to have the real, serious rich. Yes, the kind that has a unit or two in Serendra, drives big, flashy cars and packs the children off to New York or Sydney or Paris, for the summer. That is the kind that you must have. Having one will not only provide you with plenty of materials for your writing, but also give you a better view of society and a better grip on things – things very important when you’re in this kind of business.

So, you suck up to them and you better begin early. In the same way that relatives on the way to the top commence early in scouting for young, nerdy, poor relatives who have the potential to write the annals of the family – the history of their ascent in society.

So, this happens to be you. You’re related to this rich relative directly, one or two degrees away. You go to their house on weekends, your parents ask you to. You knock on their door, the servant lets you in and asks you to wait in the living room. While you’re sitting on the sofa that could probably build two houses in the village, you check out the design of the beams, the texture of the carpet, the patterns and hues of the flower vase on your left. You do all these before lifting the still crispy copy of National Geographic. You wonder if the members of the family really do read the magazine. Of course they don’t, you silly. Then out comes the matriarch of the family, the one your mother used to play piko (hop-step game) with, back in the days.

She greets you like she’s really glad to see you. But you know better than to believe that. You stand up and greet her. She asks you questions about the kamag-anaks in the bukid (relatives in the local village), as though she were really keen to be updated. You do a slow recitation of the Tiyos and the Tiyas (uncles and aunts), the Lolos and the Lolas (grandpas and grandmas), the Totoys and the Inengs (small boys and small girls) and a status update on the mga alagang hayop (animals in the farm). The rich relative nods her head each time. She’s running a calculator in her mind on how much money to send you away with.

The servant comes in with a bottle of juice and a plate of Fita. The matriarch excuses herself, she goes to the kitchen to check if the adobo (famous Filipino dish) is being done just the way she wants it. You gobble some more Fitas and drink half of the juice before leafing through the National Geographic again. Your eyes look up and catch a view of the balustrade. Correction, they’re not balustrades. Balustrades are for rich people in your barrio. This rich relative’s house is in the city. They are called wrought iron. So, you look in that direction, upstairs, hoping to catch a glimpse of your snotty cousins, who, whenever they come out of their rooms, look like they’ve just gotten out of their beds. Don’t worry, your guess is usually and probably right. But there’s no sign of any of them, just the sound of your Tita’s slippers flip-flopping her way back to where you’re seated.

This time, she has her purse with her. She takes a seat before you and asks you about your schooling. You tell her about the forthcoming quizbee and how you are among the three who will represent your school. She nods her big head again. She follows it up with a question about your parents. You give another update in that direction. She counts the money, tells you how much to give certain uncles and aunties, how much for your quiz bee allowance, and how much is for the medication of Lolo and for the vitamins and nganga (betelnut) of your Lola. You count everything and secure them in the pocket your mother stitched especially for that purpose. You stammer your leave to be excused. The rich relative escorts you to the door that reminds you of that movie – the Da Vinci Code.

 

larawan ng isang eksena o footage sa pelikulang the Da vinci Code

Barrio folks who become rich usually build huge Mediterranean homes/ hexus.net

 

Remember, the walk to the door is symbolical. In some ways, that act will bind and carry the two of you through and until that moment – when each or both of you will need to call upon one another’s purpose.