Tag Archives: Chiz Escudero

Column: Binay in the Katipunan

Published on December 14, 2010.

Very interesting feedback in the last two weeks, in response to the column on Chiz Escudero and Andres Bonifacio, moves me to revisit the topic. Instead of worrying the definition of “ilustrado” again, however, I would like to discuss the class composition of the Katipunan—and argue that somebody like Vice President Jojo Binay would have fit right in.

I am sure I am not the only one to wonder, reading the standard accounts of the Philippine Revolution, about Pio Valenzuela, the medical doctor, co-founder and Katipunan emissary to the exiled Rizal. What was someone like him doing in a revolutionary organization described (by the fecund Isabelo de los Reyes) as “a plebeian association” consisting of the “pobres y ignorantes” or (by the influential Teodoro Agoncillo) as “a commoners’ society” made up of “the unlettered masses.” Continue reading

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Column: Escudero and Bonifacio, ilustrado

Published on November 30, 2010. It was a thrill to receive, a few days after the column came out, a letter from Jim Richardson (about whom, well, see below).

I don’t think there is any question that Senator Francis Escudero’s campaign support for the vice-presidential candidacy of Jejomar Binay proved pivotal in the May elections. One political ad of Escudero’s was especially well-timed and well done; it featured the popular first-term senator asking the simple question, Who is my vice president? against a backdrop of Binay images. His lengthy answer began this way: “Ang bise-presidente ko, hindi mayaman, hindi ilustrado, kulay Pilipino (My vice president is not rich, not an ilustrado, looks Filipino).” Continue reading

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Column: What he didn’t say

Published on August 3, 2010.

Last week, a series of editorials in the Inquirer discussed various aspects of President Benigno Aquino III’s first State of the Nation Address, starting with a piece entitled “What he said.”

I would like to respond to that first editorial by writing about what President Aquino did not say—in the obvious hope that what he left out proves to be as revealing, of his frame of mind if not of his priorities, as what he left in. Continue reading

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Column: Black propaganda: Chiz & Jejomar version

Published on April 13, 2010.

It was a real privilege to serve as a resource person at a roundtable conference organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology last week. I hope to set aside some space sometime soon to discuss the provocative insights of eminent economist Emmanuel de Dios, the other guest speaker; for now, allow me to acknowledge the stimulating company of National Scientists Gelia Castillo, Mercedes Concepcion and Teodulo Topacio Jr., as well as (ceteris paribus!) of Deans De Dios and Raul Fabella of the UP School of Economics. Continue reading

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Column: A history lesson for Chiz

Published on November 3, 2009.

In the run-up to the 2010 elections, I hope to write in-depth pieces on the leading candidates, paying particular attention to their electoral strategies. I have already begun conducting one-on-one interviews. I will supplement these with the usual tools: tracking the candidates on the campaign trail, conducting background research on their campaign staff and organization and, well, just plain hanging around. Continue reading

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Column: An agenda waiting for a president

Published October 13, 2009.

Some thoughts on the vice presidency. Vice presidents do not elect their running mates; if the opposite were true, Joseph Estrada would have been helping Danding Cojuangco measure the drapes in Malacañang in 1992. Presidents do not elect their running mates either; Estrada’s coattails in 1998 did not extend to Ed Angara.

The reason is separate voting, which puts a premium on the popularity of each candidate, rather than on political tandems. Continue reading

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Column: Giving Chiz his due

Published on June 2, 2009. Something was wrong with my PC; by the time we figured out the solution, it was 30 minutes to deadline. I ended up digging into my 2005 archive (which was when I first started keeping a blog).

A recent column deconstructing Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s deliberately vapid answers in last month’s ANC Leadership Forum prompted many questions, and not a few pointed comments. His speaking skills, after all, seem in large part to explain his popularity, especially among the youth.

I would like to expand on the young senator’s gift of gab, by recalling something I had written three and a half years ago. Continue reading

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Column: The 20-percent presidency

Published on May 26, 2009

When it comes to everyone’s favorite pastime—no, not watching the latest Hayden Kho sex video but handicapping favorites in the equally rough-and-tumble world of presidential politics—everybody has an opinion. But this emphatically does not mean that one man’s guess is as good as any other’s. I say this not simply because I have a vested interest in professional commentary and political journalism; I say this because certain factors are already in play, and opinion that does not take them into account is worse than useless.

Political facts, of course, may be read differently. In the interest of greater accountability, I would like to advance the following five theses, with which I propose to frame my reading of 2010. Continue reading

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Column: Kiko, Chiz, Amina, Candy — and consensus

Published on May 19, 2009

Fortune favors, not only the bold, but the foresighted. The decision of Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan to contest the vice-presidency next year is no mere concession to survey realities; it is, in Ricoeurian terms, a consent to necessity. In other words, I don’t see it as a grudging acceptance but rather a welcome embrace of his present limits. It is also the most politically savvy strategy for taking Malacañang—not in 2010, but in 2016.

In the post-Marcos era, every elected vice president except for Salvador “Doy” Laurel has done very well politically: Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo succeeded the presidents they had served, and Emmanuel “Noli” de Castro, if surveys alone are the gauge, is poised to succeed to the highest office in 2010. Barring a Doy-like descent into self-destruction, therefore, the next vice president should be in prime position to contest the 2016 election.

To be sure, I still think it probable (and I think there is growing consensus on this) that De Castro will give way to the presidential ambition of his good friend Sen. Manuel Villar; like senators, the vice president can run for a second six-year term. That would pit him against Pangilinan—and Pangilinan’s celebrity wife.

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Column: Liar’s proofs

Published on May 12, 2009; I was, unfortunately, under the weather.


As the reader can immediately tell from the dated allusions, I wrote this blog post in 2005—in August, to be more exact.

Can we fix guilt or innocence merely from the way the accused reacts?

Common sense tells us the answer is a daily feature, even a habit, of ordinary experience. That witty ad for an anti-diarrhea pill comes to mind: Observers in a courtroom see a man sweating profusely while testifying on the witness stand, and one of them says, “Mukhang guilty!” We understand where that courtroom observer is coming from; we live there ourselves.

There is also Susan Roces’ eminently subjective Rule of Eye Contact: You’re telling the truth if the truth shows in your eyes. Truth, essentially, is something that you can see. Continue reading

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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: Worrying about the future

Published on March 3, 2009

In Cagayan de Oro City last Friday, a high school senior named Niku Tindugan asked me a blunt question during the first open forum of the day. Aren’t you worried (“Hindi ba kayo nag-aalala,” he asked in Filipino) that young people don’t read newspapers anymore? His question was echoed by a college editor during the second open forum I took part in (held this time at the busy atrium of the SM mall in the city), who asked what school newspaper editors should do to reach students who no longer read school newspapers.

The short answer: Yes, working journalists are worried. The worrying is hardly confined to the Philippines. Consider the case of a friend who works in risky Mexico; her husband is a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, the venerable newspaper which may be shut down in a matter of days. “There are no words” to describe this reversal of fortune, she writes.

The long answer is, well, lengthy indeed: We worry, but we do not despair.

Despair, to quote a recent column of colleague Randy David’s, written in another context, is merely the other side of confusion. In the first place, the younger generations are still reading — mainly in other formats, of course, like Twitter and Facebook and by SMS, but like other information-processing generations they still require the hammer of news and the anvil of opinion to force the world into a recognizable shape. We — that is, “traditional” journalists — simply need to fill their need where they need it. Secondly, the decision-makers still read the newspapers, either in the traditional print format or in the now-tested online edition.

A blunt question deserves a blunt answer: A bright young kid like Niku may no longer read newspapers, but his teachers, his parents, the people in Cagayan de Oro who make decisions that reach all the way to his school and his home — they still read newspapers. Their reading helps shape the world Niku finds himself in. We can say this dynamic is part of the structure of Philippine reality. There is the critical few, and then there is the crucial many. Where, in five years’ time, does Niku see himself?

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