Tag Archives: Art of translation

Column: Patriot’s primer

Published January 11, 2011. The “Kartilyang Makabayan” is on my wish list of book projects: I hope to complete an annotated translation in time for Bonifacio’s 150th birth anniversary. Bahala na!

IN 1921, largely through the efforts of poet-politician Lope K. Santos, an official holiday to mark the birthday of Katipunan Supremo Andres Bonifacio was celebrated in the country for the first time (it came a generation after his execution at the hands of Emilio Aguinaldo’s men). The day before the new holiday, labor leader Hermenegildo Cruz later recalled, his school-age children asked him: “Sino ba iyan si Bonifacio (Who is that [man] Bonifacio)?” Continue reading


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Les bidonvilles de Manille

Last November, the Japan-based correspondent of Le Monde, Philippe Mesmer, spent several days in the Philippines researching Ondoy/Pepeng stories. Because of something he thought I wrote, his host set up a meeting with me; I also invited him to an Inquirer Briefing on the great flood. 

Last week, he sent me copies of the two stories Le Monde published. They are in French, and because my scanty knowledge of Romance languages can only take me so far (in other words, all nuance escapes me), I have had to “read” them in Google translations.

But in case a French reader happens to drop by (in the wooly world of the Internet, one never knows), I thought it might be an interesting exercise to re-publish (with Philippe’s permission) at least one of the stories here. (With links to the online translations.)

Dans les bidonvilles de Manille, où six millions de pauvres survivent Continue reading

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Column: Saving Rizal

Published on December 29, 2009.

AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR, I SEIZE THE CHANCE to write about Rizal. As an opinion writer, I have long since come to the conclusion that the Philippines is incomprehensible without reference to the patriot and polymath. I have also belatedly come to realize, in the last two years or so, that Rizal is indispensable to an understanding of the modern democratic project.

One quick example: the classic arguments for a free press are derived from American constitutional history. But I have only lately come to appreciate the difference in Rizal’s own home-grown arguments (and those of Del Pilar too) for freedom of the press.

It is vital, then, to save Rizal both from the “veneration without understanding” that Renato Constantino warned us against a long time ago, and the “understanding without relevance” (to coin a phrase) that alienates younger generations.

* * * Continue reading

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Column: One on one with Manny Villar

Published on December 1, 2009.
“Impunity” will not do. It does not translate well. It seems to me we need a better word to reflect, to evoke, the brazenness, the sheer shamelessness, the “kawalanghiyaan,” of the flagrant abuses committed, perpetrated, indulged in, by those who consider themselves untouchable.
I mean, does “culture of impunity” really capture the scale of the atrocity in the Ampatuan, Maguindanao, massacre? Continue reading

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Column: Rizalian advice: ‘Putoc kong putoc’

I try to confine my Rizal-related column-writing to his birthday and his death anniversary. But pressed for time sometime the last week of November, I used the material nearest to hand. As it happened, the previous day I had been taking notes on Rizal’s correspondence. Published on November 24, 2009.

“Putok” is easy enough to explain to foreigners, although in Father Leo English’s monumental Tagalog-English dictionary, it occupies over a page of entries and choice sentences. English, for instance, makes a distinction between putok and “sabog,” which he defines as the sound of an explosion.

For our purposes, we can agree that putok means “explosion.” (In colloquial Filipino, of course, putok is also and often used to mean, ah, a unit of sexual commerce.) Continue reading

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