Monthly Archives: April 2009

Blast from the past: “Reformist bloc agonizes over GMA ‘dilemma'”

Last month, I stumbled on a copy of this nearly-seven-year-old front-page feature story I wrote for the newspaper. Those were the days.

Published on August 22, 2002

CIVIL society representatives working with the Macapagal administration are now questioning their basis for supporting President Macapagal-Arroyo.

At least three major meetings have already been held in the last several weeks beginning with the controversy over the resignation of Vice President Teofisto Guingona as foreign secretary and the appointment of pro-Estrada oppositionist Sen. Blas Ople as his replacement.

The meetings attempt to list the group’s “bottom lines” — issues which may push the group to withdraw its support from the President.

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Filed under Readings in Media, Readings in Politics

Neither critic nor opportunist

Notes toward a political theology; from Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

“We must be determined not to be outraged critics or mere opportunists. We must take  our full share of responsibility for the moulding of history, whether it be as victors or vanquished. It is only by refusing to allow any event to deprive us of our responsibility for history, because we know that is a responsibility laid upon us by God, that we shall achieve a relation to the events of history far more fruitful than criticism or opportunism. To talk about going down fighting like heroes in face of certain defeat is not really heroic at all, but a failure to face up to the future. The ultimate question the man of responsibility asks is not, How can I extricate myself heroically from the affair? but, How is the coming generation to live? It is only in this way that fruitful solutions can arise, even if for the time being they are humiliating. In short, it is easier by far to act on abstract principle than from concrete responsibility. The rising generation will always instinctively discern which of the two we are acting upon. For it is their future which is at stake.”

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Filed under Readings in Politics, Readings in Religion

Column: The vice-presidency is subtraction

Published on April 7, 2009

No, this is not an attempt to add to the literature of “warm spit”—the practice, begun by the Americans, of minimizing the importance of the second-highest office within the gift of the electorate. In the first place, John Nance Garner’s famous quip (the US vice presidency is not worth “a pitcher of warm spit,” he said) may have had some traction during his time as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second wheel; it does not apply to the United States today. Al Gore reinvented the office, and the imperial Dick Cheney used it as base to assert an over-aggressive executive.

Secondly, the charge of political irrelevance does not apply with as much force to Philippine politics. Even the famously self-effacing Sergio Osmeña continued to dominate Visayan politics under Manuel Quezon’s shadow. And ultimate political power was also always within sight. Since the Commonwealth era, six of the country’s 12 vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency: Osmeña, Elpidio Quirino, Carlos Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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Column: The diminishing of Alex Magno

Blair compared; St. Paul dissed (sort of); Alex Magno deconstructed. Published on March 31, 2009 (with the print version hiding a head-slapping typo–“stringest,” instead of “stringent”–that makes me cringe. I am reminded of my five-year-old son quoting from his favorite cartoon show: “I … was weak.”)

One more word about the Tony Blair speaking tour. It may have been the most complete triumph by a British dignitary on Philippine soil since, well, Brig. Gen. William Draper landed unopposed, somewhere in Malate, in 1762. Of course, two and a half centuries ago, the British easily conquered the capital but faced great difficulty in the periphery. Continue reading

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Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Media