A memorable phrase from prominent political analyst Mon Casiple, our guest in tonight’s INQ&A radio/Facebook program: “In the House [of Representatives], a congressman has one eye on the President. In the Senate, a senator has one eye on the presidency.”
Category Archives: Spiral Notebook
“Law in the land died. I grieve for it but I do not despair over it. I know, with a certainty no argument can turn, no wind can shake, that from its dust will rise a new and better law: more just, more human, and more humane. When that will happen, I know not. That it will happen, I know.” — The great Jose W. Diokno, who died 30 years ago today
From the Diokno.org memorial website.
So: The word that has circulated among legal circles in recent days, about the law school official reportedly caught in a compromising situation, is fake news. The school has dismissed all speculation that the official was on his way out, through an unambiguous memo. And a good friend who knows the spouse says the spouse denies any such incident.
The lawyers have been gulled. Now the question is: What was the rumor for?
I was part of a three-person team from Inquirer.net who covered the climate change negotiations in Paris, in December 2015. Belatedly uploading the two columns I wrote there, plus one I wrote before, brought back strong, Seine-filled memories.
Now might be a good time for a quick summing-up.
Our team — Kristine Sabillo, Sara Pacia, and me — wrote over 50 dispatches, posted dozens of tweets, produced several video stories and infographics. Back home, we were backstopped by NewsLab lead Matikas Santos and reporter Marc Cayabyab, and by web designer Sephy Garibay and artist Mok Pusong.
The special site Sephy created featured our Media 21 Asia project on stronger storms and the coping mechanisms of two coastal regions — as well as a Dateline Paris section that allowed us to update our special site several times a day during the Paris negotiations. (All the dispatches are here.)
The two-week coverage had many highs and lows; seeing actual Arctic ice melting in the heart of Paris (in front of the Pantheon, in the art installation called Ice Watch), hit me like a great shock. It was many highs and lows, all at once.
Like hope, the idea of using this blog more actively springs eternal. After 15 months of inactivity, I’m thinking of starting again — first, by uploading a whole basket of (deplorable?) columns. The last two posts were the first of five Newsstand pieces on or occasioned by the groundbreaking “Heneral Luna.” Let me pick up where I left off.
I went to the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin in June last year, before the start of a study tour of German media institutions, to see its pair of Vermeers. (Part of my bucket list.) Along the way, other works of art caught my eye — including these two profiles of “jungen Frau,” done in the 15th century. They seem to me to be very much a part of their time, and at the same time thoroughly modern, of our time. The first looks familiar because it is by Botticelli; that is to say, it reminds us of Botticelli’s women, but because it is in profile we are not certain at first. The second is by one of Botticelli’s masters, Antonio del Pollaiuolo; we stare at it because we think it looks like someone we know (the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, perhaps, stepping back in time); only later do we realize that we were staring because it — she — was beautiful.
It’s been a while.
To start blogging again, I thought I’d upload the 80-odd columns still in the files, to get this blog’s archive up to date. Incoming!
The backlog has grown stout again, and now I have 21 columns to upload. I would like to make Newsstand current, in the hope (likely vain) that with the backlog cleared I can really start blogging again. Wishful thinking, but who knows?
This unusual rendering of the central event of the Good Samaritan parable, a color lithograph by the Dutch artist Lion Cachet, from 1896, caught my eye when I visited Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts last September. It took me some time to figure out why. Finally, I read the explanatory text. Turns out the piece was inspired by Indonesian batik – a modest example of the colonial periphery making an impact on the center, and a nice inversion that parallels what happened on that road between Jerusalem and Jericho.
So (six weeks late to the show), turns out the final episode of Burn Notice is set in an abandoned newspaper building. Ouch.
Here we go again — another attempt to bring this blog, if not to some semblance of life, then at least up to date. That means, at a minimum, uploading my Newsstand columns, about a year’s worth, in (I hope) about a week’s time. Here goes nothing.
BANGKOK–At the 2013 World Newspaper Congress and in its parallel conferences, the World Editors Forum and the World Advertising Forum, the ascendancy of the mobile space is a recurring theme. The one idea that sums up this compelling vision of the present-sliding-into-the-future is the “150 times a day” meme:
That tweet, from the conference organizers’ official account, is representative. Of the hundreds of tweets and dozens of links I followed, many versions of the meme follow the same three-fold form: the attribution to “research,” the extension of the scope to “smartphones,” and the assertion of the frequency, “150 times a day.”
But is this statistic for real? Continue reading
I am not all that interested in collecting the columns I have written, but there is something I would love to do: publish a selection of my columns in which I engaged with certain personalities, and whose responses ran in my column space or in the neighboring letters page. The introduction for each exchange could include an overview of the issue at stake and an attempt to bring the matter up to date. And after the columns and responses, we could have a last word of sorts — with columnist and correspondent alternating. I hope to use this unusual format to drive home a point: that public discourse, in itself, is important. Possible title: Arguments at the Newsstand.
from mid-August 2011 to mid-July 2012—an 11-month stretch required, more or less, by the terms of the Nieman Fellowship. To be more precise, I was asked (and when I thought I saw a scheduling loophole, gently reminded) to avoid regular work (that meant columns and editorials) during the academic year. I had the privilege of auditing a total of nine courses, although I did serious study only in six (the rest were classes where, as a new friend told me, you simply come in and “let it wash over you”). Acting on the advice of another, older friend, I took advantage of the amazing number of conferences, forums, seminars, and readings available at the university; by the time I went home, I had gone to a total of 106.
It was the right call, then; I would have had great difficulty meeting my deadlines–and I would have had to steal time away from study. I missed writing, but was consoled by the thought that the break was only temporary.
Hands down, the most affecting portrait of the Holy Family I’ve ever seen. “The Holy Family,” by the Netherlandish master Gerard David, hangs in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts — or at least it was there the last time I visited, and when I took this close-up. I was drawn first by the color and the small scale of the work; according to the museum’s notes, it was first used for private prayers, some 500 years ago. And then the mood of the painting struck me: It is a portrait of anxiety, of a recognizably ordinary family consumed by worry or rumors of an incomprehensible fate; poor Joseph did not even have time or chance to clean his fingernails.
I have revamped my Newsstand blog, choosing a new Twitter-friendly layout in yet another attempt to make the blog both current (I hope to post more new stuff) and complete (I hope to finish archiving all columns, etc in the next few weeks). I even updated the About page! If you have time, maybe you can take a look.
UP Rizal 150 The international conference on the Rizal sesquicentennary organized by the University of the Philippines, scheduled for June 22 to 24 at the newest building on the Diliman campus, has all sorts of treats for the Rizal student. The program (please click on the link to the PDF file) is a doozy.
I still cannot remember whether it was Roel Landingin or Exie Abola, or perhaps another friend, who told me, many years ago, to check out Arts & Letters Daily. The tip proved to be invaluable. I still read Arts & Letters Daily almost every day; it is the home page of my office computer.
It is true, though, that in many ways we read what we are inclined to read, even (or especially) on the Web. My own links these days (just to so-called mainstream media) include the following:
The New York Times (something I need to read off several computers, since I haven’t gotten around to subscribing). Still the indispensable first (and often final) source.
The Washington Post (something I’ve been reading closely again, after the New York Times put up its pay wall).
The Boston Globe (some very interesting finds, every now and then).
Washington Monthly, main for Steve Benen’s partisan but rigorous and fair take on US politics, in Political Animal.
Huffington Post (although I must say this reads better off the iPad than off the Web). A glorious mix of the must-read and must-avoid, but already a center of gravity for political junkies like me.
The New Republic, especially The Book and the political commentary of Jonathan Chait.
The Guardian (the best coverage of environmental issues, plus a thriving community of commenters and terrific photos — the last a very nice treat to indulge in on the iPad).
For Philippine news, the menu remains basically the same: the Inquirer, Newsbreak, ABS-CBN, GMA, occasionally the Star. I tried to add TV 5’s Interaksyon, but had to drop it because it takes too long to load.
“Most of us are aware that our web experience is somewhat customized by our browsing history, social graph and other factors. But this sort of information-tailoring takes place on a much more sophisticated, deeper and far-reaching level than we dare suspect. (Did you know that Google takes into account 57 individual data points before serving you the results your searched for?)”
In researching Rizal’s influence in Southeast Asia, I have relied on the generosity of scholars and the good will of fellow journalists, but above all I have come to depend on the work and wisdom of “grand old men.”
Father Jack Schumacher (here autographing a book for me, at a conference room in “JR” — the Jesuit Residence inside the sprawling Loyola Heights campus) is in my view the most learned, most lucid historian of 19th-century Filipino nationalism. I take my bearings on Rizal — a revolutionary spirit with an essentially Catholic sensibility who strove to create a secular, national community — first from Rizal’s own writings (marked, I have since learned, by crucial “turns”) and second from Father Jack’s deeply documented work. Continue reading
After studiously avoiding the Inquirer for several years, President Arroyo visited the newspaper again on February 2. As was her preference, and our custom, she brought dinner too. In the beginning, she was seated between Sandy P. Romualdez and Marixi R. Prieto, president and board chair respectively, but over the course of the 90-minute dinner Sandy gave up her seat for Letty J. Magsanoc, the editor in chief, and MRP (as she is known in the newspaper) insisted on offering her seat to Joey D. Nolasco, the managing editor. Hence, this shot. Note the improvised nameplate for Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, who sat to my left. He said he happened to be working overtime at the Palace, when the President saw him and asked him to join her for dinner at the Inquirer. (He didn’t seem put out, and indeed proved to be an engaging dinner companion.) To my right sat the formidable Medy Poblador, now accoutered with the rank of cabinet secretary. At the start, Sandy welcomed the President, and said she understood the terms of the discussion to be “no-holds-barred but off the record.” GMA immediately cut in, eyebrows raised: “I didn’t say no-holds-barred!” That night, we kept it light.
Courtesy of good friend Exie Abola, a lovely, literate ode to the possibilities of reading.