Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remembering Dick and Jane

Surprisingly, I still can clearly picture them to this very day in my mind's eye.  Worn, a bit dog-eared, musty smelling yet well cared for.  Thin, paper-bound readers based on the Dick and Jane series of reading books some versions of which were then popularly used by Catholic private schools in the late 1960's and the early 1970's.

I was at that time just barely five years old and they were my first introduction to the world of reading.  The books belonged to my older brother and sister who were already in the first and second grades of elementary school but when the sudden mood would strike me, I would clumsily leaf through them, look at the brightly colored illustrations and slowly trace one finger over the large printed text below them while trying to silently mouth out the words.

Look at Dick and Jane.  See them play.  See Spot run.  Dick and Jane were, of course, brother and sister.  Spot was their dog.  Puff was their cat.  Sally was their baby sister.  Together with their parents and friends they lived happy and fun lives in a neighborhood that was reminiscent of my childish understanding of what was the best of post-World War II, white and middle-class, suburban Middle America.

Friday, May 24, 2013


As many here expected, May 13 which was the day Filipinos here in Lianga and all over the Philippines trooped to the polling places to vote for their favored candidates in this year's general elections would not be allowed to dawn without the local leadership of the CPP-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front) and its armed wing, the NPA (New People's Army), taking the opportunity to come out with a formal statement outlining their common stand and viewpoint on the then approaching electoral exercise.

Just a day or so before election day and in the darkness of the early dawn, printed leaflets were scattered on the streets at certain strategic points in Lianga by unknown persons.  The leaflets upon examination contained a two page missive purported coming from the hand of Maria Malaya who is said to be the spokesperson for the NDF Northeast Mindanao Chapter.  Malaya is said to be the partner of Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos who is better known for his role as the designated spokesman for the NDF in Mindanao.

In Bisaya and couched in the rigidly formalistic style favored by the revolutionary left and peppered here and there with the familiar catchwords alluding, as always, to the "reaksyunaryong eleksyon" and the "dagkung burgesyang komprador", the message expressed the deep skepticism with which the revolutionary movement sees the last elections and all elections for that matter conducted under the present "madaugdaugong sistema" (oppressive system) as a means for transforming Philippine society for the better.  Yet Malaya stressed that the CPP-NDF-NPA supports the right of the Filipino people to democratically choose their leaders and has called upon progressive minded voters to come out and vote for those who they believe can represent their interests in the government, reactionary and corrupt it may be.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


The local slate of municipal candidates under the Liberal Party, as expected, dominated the local elections in Lianga in the May 13 general elections.  Mayor Roy Sarmen and Vice-Mayor Jun Lala convincingly trounced their opponents and won their re-election bids.  At the time of the writing of this post, at least five of their candidates for the municipal council are set to win new three year terms.

There was some speculation here before and during the official campaign that Sammy Dollano, Sarmen's lone rival for the mayor's seat would be able to mount a strong challenge to the incumbent chief executive (see previous blog post here).  Rumors had flown thick and fast that Dollano was stockpiling a sizable war chest and was on the verge of forming a well organized political machine that was capable of unseating Sarmen.  In the end, nothing of that sort happened and Team Sarmen which is allied with the provincial slate of the Liberal Party under Governor Johnny Pimentel largely ruled the day.

In the race for the eight seats in the municipal council, the LP also managed to get a fresh mandate for at least five of its candidates, all  of them serving incumbents.  Two independents and one from the LAKAS party (allied with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and incumbent Rep. Philip Pichay of Surigao del Sur's first district who incidentally is leading the vote count against his main opponent, Abet Ty-Delgado) who made it to the winners' circle, however, all made a strong showing and ended up grabbing three of the top four slots.  For an updated list of the winning candidates here in Lianga in the May 2013 local polls you can go here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Voting Day

May 13 dawned sweltering and sultry and as I, my siblings and our mother together with the rest of our family rushed through the minutiae of the early day in order to to be at the polling centers to vote right after breakfast, it became immediately clear to us as we good-naturedly jostled and knocked elbows with other voters within the quickly lengthening queue outside our clustered voting precinct at the Lianga Central Elementary School that we should have made the extra effort to have come earlier.

It may be true that the the 2013 general elections here in Lianga and all over the country have become largely automated and that the old-style manual balloting and canvassing have gone the way of the dinosaurs yet it did not, of course, automatically mean that the actual voting process would immediately become (at least at this time) fast and free of the irritating errors, delays and glitches that everyone hoped by now would be mostly eliminated by modern technology and months of thorough planning and preparation by election officials.  In fact, we had to stand and sweat in line for almost two hours for our chance to vote but thankfully in the end the whole thing went smoothly.  This was fortunate for us in view of the many problems regarding voting procedures and malfunctioning PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines in many other areas all over the country being reported in the national news media.

In our own clustered polling precinct, the delays have less to do with the machine itself but the fact that many voters especially the elderly and first-timers have yet to familiarize themselves and become adept at using the new specialized ballots and the new voting procedures.  This is after all only the second time since 2010 that the automated voting system was used.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


In just a couple of days it will be election day and as that fateful day draws near, the question of who to vote for is uppermost in the minds of most Filipinos particularly those including myself who remain unsure of their final choices for the more than 30 national and local elective positions that need to be filled in.  That is, of course, if one is not already contemplating of selling out to the highest bidder or happens to be already committed for whatever reason or reasons to particular candidates or political parties.

I know that there are many conscientious voters here in Lianga, in particular, who like me are making and finalizing their list of chosen candidates from the senatorial level down to the members of the local municipal council.  In my occasional forays around town I usually try to talk to as many of them as I can in order to get a sense of the not only the various criteria they commonly use in making their choices but also to discover if there are similar thought processes they all employ in making them.

On more than a few instances, I had been asked to reveal my own list of favored politicians, a request, of course, that in most cases I try to skillfully and gracefully sidestep and evade knowing by hindsight and past experience how deeply the typical Filipino voter, especially in the rural and provincial areas, can become emotionally and intellectually involved in the political debate during elections.  One does not want a purely intellectual discussion deteriorate from mere reasonable albeit impassioned debate and just a contest of minds to real and actual combat of the more physical and deadly kind.