People Power in 2016

I was attending the National Secondary Schools Press Conference (NSSPC) in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo  representing Region 11 in a competition on editorial writing when a very excited program host interrupted the Miss NSSPC talent show with this announcement: “Marcos has left Malacañang!”

The adult teachers and administrators were all jumping up and down and clapping their hands in glee. They were hugging one another like they just won the sweepstakes. We, the high school delegates from all over the Philippines, all martial law babies who never knew any other leader than Ferdinand Marcos, were confused and wanted to know how that happened. There were no Internet and mobile devices yet then and all we had were government-controlled media as our source of information. We all looked at each other asking ourselves: “Now what?”

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Stop the Corrupt

It was a very passionate Valentine’s Day celebration for me last week.

First, I started the weekend dancing with grassroots women, young activists, and indigenous peoples as a creative expression of our collective rage against all forms of violence against women through the One Billion Rising campaign. It was exhilarating dancing to that distinctive Mindanao beat with Eve Ensler, the fierce feminist playwright of “Vagina Monologues,” and Monique Wilson, the global campaign director of One Billion Rising, under the afternoon sun at Rizal Park here in Davao City last Friday. Dancing in protest is a brilliant way of reclaiming one’s body and declaring your love for it.

Then, on Sunday, I had brunch with independent senatorial candidate, Levi Baligod, that brave lawyer-crusader who accomplished what nobody else has done and a feat I have never thought could ever happen in my lifetime — send the mighty Juan Ponce Enrile to jail. Atty. Baligod is the only private complainant on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam against Janet Napoles, one former Philippine president, two former Senate presidents, one former Speaker of the House, four cabinet secretaries, 45 legislators, and several others. As Ping Lacson said: “What I tried and failed to do in 12 years, Atty. Baligod did in four months.”

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President Benigno S. Aquino III formally endorses Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II as the standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) in the 2016 Presidential elections during the “A Gathering of Friends” at the Cory C. Aquino Kalayaan Hall of the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City on Friday (July 31, 2015). (Photo by Rey Baniquet / Malacañang Photo Bureau)

Yellow as the Color of Opportunism

As far as I can remember, yellow has always been my favorite color. As a little girl, I picked stuff up simply because it’s yellow. Anything yellow gets my attention and draws me to it like a magnet. People in my life give me gifts in color yellow. My friends greet me  “Yellow!” instead of the usual “Hello!”

Then Ninoy Aquino decided to come home from exile in 1983 while I was in high school and they made “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” his homecoming theme song, a song associated with welcoming home someone who has been gone for so long. Then he was assassinated at the airport upon arrival. “Yellow Fridays” swept the Philippines as a symbol of protest against the 20-year Marcos rule that represented oppression, abuse and violence.

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Barbie’s Sales-Motivated Makeover

So Barbie, that iconic doll from Mattel, is now 57 years old and she just got a makeover.

Barbie is the first fashion doll with a three-dimensional adult form. She is the first doll with breasts! Before her, girls played with baby dolls and paper dolls.

Barbie became the standard of how females should look like — thin, tiny waist, big breasts, long blonde hair, long legs, pretty with a perpetual smile on her face, pointed toes of feet always wearing high heels, and, of course, white. I think Barbie is also the inspiration for “dumb blonde” jokes because the expression on her face is always blank.

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NAIA Philippine Airport

What’s the Point of Commercial Billboards in our Airports?

So I am writing this at the pre-departure lounge of the Davao International Airport as they are announcing that my flight’s boarding time will be “delayed for a few minutes.” I take a deep breath and try to not freak out about the fact that I will be late for the event I am attending in Manila. Think of calm thoughts, I silently tell myself. It is hard, though, because everywhere I look I am assaulted by advertising billboards.

Yes, assaulted is the word that comes to mind because I literally feel under attack by these  advertisements. There is practically no part of any wall in our airport that is not completely covered by some billboard selling something. And it is more than an eyesore. It is a disaster.

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Philippine Women Heroes

What About National Holidays for our Women Heroes?

December 30 is Rizal Day and my smart little feminist goddaughter, Gabbi, 10, asked her mom, Lorna, this question: “Mom, how come we are not commemorating the birthdays and death anniversaries of Tandang Sora and Gabriela Silang? Is it because they are women?”

It is a very good question to reflect on as we prepare to welcome 2016, an election year. And it took a 10-year old girl to raise such an important matter that we all have taken for granted.

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Mar Roxas

Why Can’t We Love Mar?

Now that Mar Roxas seems to be in a word war with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, people are starting to remember that Mar is also running for president. So maybe Mar saying that a peaceful Davao City is a myth is a good publicity stunt. He finally got some attention and, if the slapping and the gun dueling talks are to be believed, he might be getting some action, too.

I wonder what would happen to Mar if Rody did not join the presidential race? Because that paid advertisement with Boy Abunda certainly failed to excite us. Even the yellow-themed Christmas music video of celebrities singing and dancing in an attempt to soft sell the “tuwid na daan” tandem of Mar and Leni hardly inspired us to “fast forward” to 2016. Remember the “father of BPO” ad campaign where call center agents claimed “anak ako ni Mar” and how it quickly changed into “asar ako kay Mar” that became a trending topic on social media?

Oh, Mar, why can’t Pinoys love you just the way you are?

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Maternity is an Ability, not a Liability

When Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced recently that he is taking two months of paternity leave after his wife Priscilla Chan gives birth to their daughter, discussions on paternity leave and parental benefits exploded on social media.

Americans are making a big deal out of Zuckerberg’s announcement and comparing it to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s maternity leave of merely two weeks and “working throughout” when she gives birth to twins.

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Travel Advisory: Live Creatively

Following the multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali, plus the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, the US State Department issued a worldwide travel alert for American citizens, warning them of possible threats from terrorists in foreign countries.

Unlike past warnings, this recent travel advisory did not specify any specific countries or regions that are more dangerous than others to Americans. It just warns that “extremists have targeted large sporting events, theaters, open markets, and aviation services” and asked Americans to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation.”

As Zach Beauchamp noted on in an article published on November 23, 2015: “So, in short: Be afraid wherever you’re traveling, however you’re traveling, and try to avoid being in public. Yikes!”

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Are You Smarter Than Alma Moreno?

So the trending topic in the Philippines these days is not APEC, but Alma Moreno. Or more specifically her interview with Karen Davila on ANC. It turned viral on the internet last Sunday and, as of this writing, it has more than 1.8 million views on YouTube. It even has its own hashtag, #AlDav.

Aside from #AlDav, Filipino netizens are also tweeting #PrayForAlma, as if her ANC interview has the same magnitude as the tragedies in Paris and Syria.

I missed Alma’s interview on Headstart when it first aired on ANC. Like most Filipinos, I watched it on YouTube when it started to go viral. Based on the comments circulating on social media, I was expecting to be completely horrified by how badly her interview went. But after watching the whole thing, it was not really that bad as they made it out to be.

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