DONATELA is a lyrical Italian name, and when I reach past the pain and bitterness of my childhood, I can see how perfectly it fits my beautiful mother. For many women, beauty begins fading quickly almost as soon as the first flush of youth ends. But my mother, who just turned 70 this year, has been lucky, because there are still more than traces of the physical radiance and attractiveness she once possessed, most of her well-chiseled features on a Castilaloy face defying time and a past filled with heartaches.
PARANOIA AND guilt are among the occupational hazards of covering the environment. I have not had too many moments of ease while learning all I can about the overwhelming threats to the planet.
You can feel self-righteously detached from other subjects like government corruption and crime (i.e., the guilty ones are not me). But on the environment beat, it’s hard not to imagine a personal responsibility for at least some of the ills our earth is heir to-garbage, air pollution, or even open-pit mining (oh no, this computer I’m using contains mined resources).
IT TOOK the children of the First Quarter Storm to realize just how thoroughly the circle had been broken. Their parents, at least, had been able to remember the Old Society, which, for all its many imperfections, could still be dreamed of as on the verge of being replaced by the New. The truth that the New Society was novel only in its ruthlessness could never overcome how fundamentally revolutionary its legacy was. So colossal was its greed, so utterly beyond redemption its hypocrisy, so thorough was its tyranny, that only those who had lived to see its dawn could remember that not all that came before was darkness.
I RECENTLY took a peek at the entertainment section of the country’s most widely circulated broadsheet morning paper, and it was no surprise for me to find no Pilipino movie being shown in any of the movie houses connected with malls and commercial centers in Metro Manila. This was not the first time I’ve had this experience this year. Actually, having no Pinoy film to see in Metro Manila has become quite usual.
“AFTER CHARLENE, who’s next?” That was the slogan in the funeral protest march for kidnap-slay victim Charlene Mayne Sy in January 1993. It was supposed to be a rhetorical question posed by the anti-crime organization Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO). But then the answer came soon enough. The procession of names of kidnap victims has yet to stop.
FILIPINOS HAVE long been prone to self-diagnosis and self-medication, but in the years to come, D.I.Y. health care may become even more pronounced. After all, when society does not assume enough of the burden of health care, individual responsibility and self-preservation become the norm.
THE FUTURE of television is here. At least, its prototype is. Today we use our mobile phones for more than just communicating. We use them to take pictures, play games, share music, and download news and celebrity gossip. More and more, we turn to our phones to kill time when stuck in traffic, while waiting in line, or in the presence of boring company. Nokia, the global leader in wireless telecommunications, has spotted the trend. “Be entertained anywhere” is its new tagline, a radical departure from its roots as a mobile-handset manufacturer.
MY FRIENDS and I were “martial-law babies,” and as we were growing up we were taught contemporary national history whitewashed to suit a dictatorship. It was only in the mid-1980s that we realized corruption permeated the bureaucracy, with the Ministry of Education near the top of the list. Even under well-intentioned appointees, there was no way it could effectively fulfill its constitutional mandate to provide quality education for every Filipino.
THE IMPORTANCE of family to the individual is almost an article of faith in the Philippines. I remember the bewildered look of our respondents in a research project when we posed the question, “Is it important to have a family?” It was as if we had come from another planet, since we asked a question whose answer was obvious: yes. And just in case we did come from another planet, the respondents all zeroed in on the fact that life is simply unimaginable without the family. Whether they are down and out or happy and successful, Filipinos always have their families conveniently nearby.
AT TIMES, when the breeze is just so, the sun is shining, and peals of children’s laughter ring out, Luneta’s grand past can still be glimpsed, leaving no one to doubt that for 19th-century Manila, it was the prime leisure amenity. The American planner Daniel Burnham laid out a grand civic district in Manila, like Washington D.C.’s. Burnham’s grand plan was never fully implemented. Only a few of the planned civic structures were built. After the war, plans were revised to move the capital to Quezon City. Luneta became a cogon-filled no-man’s land eventually turning into the city’s Central Park.
© 1989–2020 All rights reserved. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.