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Learning a lesson from Noah

How long will the coronavirus pandemic continue to scourge the world? We can only guess, based on empirical experience. Did God say how long the world would remain flooded and when Noah and the occupants of the ark could step out of it? Noah had to figure that out for himself. So must government and health authorities think of a way to cope with COVID-19 and return the world to normalcy.

A generation of crisis and opportunities

In his book, The Greatest Generation, journalist Tom Brokaw extolled those born in the 1900s and up to the 1920s, relating how they survived the Great Depression, fought and won World War II, helped Europe and Japan get back on their feet and powered America to economic, military and industrial greatness. That generation also fathered the Baby Boomer Generation -- born from 1946 -- that enjoyed the fruits of that greatness.

Coronavirus: Mankind’s crown of thorns

Has mankind become so great, having conquered the oceans and now exploring the galaxies? Have we become so powerful that we can threaten the world with destruction at the touch of a nuclear button? Have we become so brilliant that we can replace humans with robots and clone God’s creatures? If so, why has a virus, so tiny it is invisible to the naked eye, sent us cowering in our homes and wringing our hands with despair as we see thousands among us being killed?

Think positive

Hopefully none of our readers is positive for COVID-19. Nonetheless, I suggest that every one of us should think positive — meaning, we should...

Filipino Healthcare workers on the US’ COVID-19 front lines

Several years ago, I produced a special TV report on the topic, “What would happen if Filipino healthcare professionals do not report for work?” The point I wanted to make was the vital role that Filipino doctors and nurses, and other healthcare professionals, play in America’s healthcare system.

Wanted: A great leader

The coronavirus disease 2019/COVID-19 pandemic is just one more crisis, among the many, that the world has experienced in the 20th century and in the present millennium. Each crisis has been a test of leadership, underscoring the need for a great leader, someone who can rally the citizenry, inspire them and keep up their spirits in the face of discouraging odds. Someone on whose wisdom they can depend on, whose words they can believe, and in whom they can entrust their lives.

The coronavirus: Why not news about those who get well?

Chris Cuomo, host of the CNN news-commentary program, Cuomo Prime Time, had good news about someone who had been found positive for the strain of coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19.

A virus in the White House?

There’s a new epidemic being posted in social media. Moronavirus. The root word is “moron” as in idiot, stupid or nincompoop. A more charitable synonym is “incompetent.”

A winter of confusion

In his play, Richard III, William Shakespeare coined the phrase “winter of our discontent,” drawing an analogy between the dark and dreary winter season and the misfortunes and challenges that confronted his characters.

Power Trip

They called him The Punisher when he was mayor of Davao City. I guess he can now be called The Terminator (step aside Schwarzenegger).

Rewriting EDSA

I’m almost done with my third book, The Republic of Santa Banana and other Ad Libs. It’s a compilation of my most irreverent satires in almost 32 years of writing “Ad Lib” for BusinessWorld.

On gaining media exposure

Several years ago, I listened to a talk given by an editor of the San Francisco Examiner on how to package a story to give it half a chance of being published in the US papers. The session was held at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco on the initiative of FilAm community leaders who had bewailed the lack of presence of Filipinos in the mainstream media.

On banning US trips and junkets

President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive banning travel to the US by members of his cabinet is just one more move of the president to curb junkets of officials in his administration. While the ban is his way of “getting even” with the US for cancelling the 10-year tourist visa of one of his favorite officials, former PNP chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa (plus the likely cancellation of the visas of other officials involved in the incarceration of Senator Leila de Lima), Duterte’s move is in line with earlier directives banning “wasteful” foreign travel.

Bato-bato sa langit

President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States of America unless the US reinstates the non-immigrant visa of Senator Roland “Bato” de la Rosa. De la Rosa had a 10-year visa that allowed him to visit the US for brief periods, presumably as a tourist. If he were to go to the US on official business as a member of the Philippine Senate, he would probably not need the tourist visa.

Big Brother is watching

George Orwell’s novel, 1984, told of a society whose citizens were under constant surveillance by the government, their daily activities monitored and their actuations and attitudes controlled, with sanctions imposed on those found guilty of independent thought. Thought Police made sure that the entire citizenry abided by government mandates and behaved accordingly.

American TNTs in the Philippines?

The term “TNT” refers to Pinoys in the US who are hiding (tago nang tago) from immigration officials because of their illegal status. This year, TNT may also mean US citizens hiding from Philippine immigration officials because they are in the country illegally.

May angal, Washington, DC-style

Towards the end of the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, I wrote a biting piece entitled, “May Angal???” Literally, “Any complaints?” I wrote the piece out of sheer frustration over the way the Arroyo administration took liberties with the law and how the citizenry could only offer feeble protest.

Pat pat, slap slap

The 30th Southeast Games hosted by the Philippines will end on Dec. 11 with a spectacular show, if we are to base our expectations on the opening ceremony. But more than that, as the host country we will have set a new record in terms of the medal harvest -- well ahead of runner-up Indonesia, and the other participating countries, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, and Timor Leste (listed according to the number of medals won).

Spitting in the wind

The 2019 Southeast Asian Games being hosted by the Philippines have been a showcase of Pinoy sports achievements, showbusiness production excellence, and organizational incompetence all rolled into one portrait of a people who do not seem to know whether to feel proud or embarrassed about ourselves.

The indestructible cockroach

It is said that if the world were to be destroyed in the aftermath of a nuclear war and every living thing were to be annihilated, one creature will survive. The cockroach.

A spectacle of obfuscation

I have been closely following the TV news coverage of the US congressional hearings on the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump and I am reminded of Harry Belafonte’s song, “Man Piaba,” which goes this way:

Overseas reminders of the Philippines

What do people do in their old age? “Travel the world,” is the most common advice. On the contrary, my advice is for people to see the world while they are still young. A walking tour around cobble-stoned streets and ancient ruins isn’t the kind of “relaxation” that brittle bones need, and an 80-year-old hasn’t much use for new knowledge and insights that one can easily Google, anyway.

On being a Filipino in Mexico

For sure it will take more than a day’s visit to truly understand the culture, the nature, and the essence of a nation, but there is something about Mexico and Mexicans that can make a Pinoy feel “at home” upon setting foot on the United States’ southern neighbor.

Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo is the phrase of the month in US politics and it could be the key to the impeachment of President Donald Trump. The Latin phrase means “something for something” and that is what Trump has been accused of trying to arrange with the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Rogue cops: What else is new?

Remember that sick joke about how fast the cops arrived at a crime scene? Cops in other countries were said to arrive in just a few minutes. But Pinoy police were said to be at the scene of the crime at the moment it was being committed.

Liberation Day memories

Oct. 20, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the landing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the US armada at Red Beach in Palo, Leyte and the start of the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese occupation forces. June 6 this year also marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy and the start of the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.

Washing-ton dishes

Reacting to my piece, “Cost of living and cost of dying,” which listed the Philippines as among the inexpensive countries to live in -- even to die in -- my friend Gelly Aganon gave me a gentle reality check. Gelly is a prominent Filipino-American community leader and was publisher-editor of a business magazine in Southern California. She lived for several years in Makati with her husband, Titong Aganon, but decided to relocate to Los Angeles after he passed away. She posted the following on social media:

The power, privileges, and accountability of a communications man

Having recently launched my book, Confusions of a Communications Man (recounting my experiences in over half a century as a communications practitioner), I was invited to speak before students of Mass Communications at St. Scholastica College in Manila. Before my talk, the students shared their perceptions of the media and communications profession. Their comments were liberally sprinkled with allusions to fake news. On the other hand, they all exuded idealism and missionary zeal in the way they plan to pursue their prospective careers.

Cost of living and cost of dying

The Philippines is where my wife and I would love to retire in, but I decided to check out other so-called retirement havens for comparison. An interesting source of information is the “Cheapest Destinations Blog” by noted travel writer Tim Leffel. One particular blog entry -- “The Cheapest Places to Live in the World – 2019” -- caught my interest because of the following entry.

Helping the Pasig River commuter system succeed

It’s remarkable, what a long-unopened filing cabinet can yield. On this trip to Manila, we found a faded document with the ambitious heading.

In the winter of our lives…

In September 2011, for the Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora, convened by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), then CFO Chair Imelda Nicolas, asked me to write a poem, “We Hear Our Motherland Calling,” as a response of overseas Filipinos to the call of Inang Pilipinas to her children in foreign lands.

The hazards of misreading the news

When I read the post in social media that Senator-boxer Manny Pacquiao had proposed crucifixion as a method of imposing the death penalty, my automatic response was to suggest, “Crucify him!”

Espiya kontra espiya

In the mid-1950s, I wrote and directed a movie with this title, Espiya Kontra Espiya meaning Spy vs. Spy. It starred Divina Valencia and Nestor de Villa. Who would ever have thought that I would have occasion to use it for a newspaper column?

The pains and joys of aging

“Now that I’m growing older, My pilot light is out; What used to be my sex appeal Is now my water spout...”

Latent racism

My earliest experience with racism was as a boy growing up in Tacloban City. Because we lived near Cancabato Bay, which connects to the San Juanico Straits, much of my free time was spent in the sea. I was thus so sun-burnt and swarthy that my playmates called me “negro.” This was supposed to mean being inferior.

A culture of corruption

It was with mixed feelings of admiration and disgust, hope and despair, shock and resignation that I listened to DZBB broadcaster Mike Enriquez interview Manila’s new mayor, Isko Moreno.

The Mark of Cain

The government of President Rodrigo Duterte continues to rail againstthe United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which have been accusing Pres. Duterte of human rights violations in connection with his campaign to eliminate the drug menace in the Philippines.

The slimy logic of politicians

The sinking of a Filipino fishing boat in Philippine waters by a Chinese vessel and the way the government of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has handled the incident have delivered a clear message to the Filipino people.

66 years in media… and counting

I believe “Ad Lib” is the second longest-running column in BusinessWorld, next only to that of the venerable Tony Samson. But I think we both started writing for this paper the same year it was reincarnated from the ghost of Business Day. My first piece came out on Sept. 21, 1988, almost 31 years ago.

The fox investigates the raid on the chicken coop

We’ve probably all heard the tale of the fox who raided the chicken coop and had to be hunted down by the farmer. But have you heard about the farmer agreeing to let the fox investigate the incident in order to determine whose fault it was that the chicken coop was raided and why neither the fox nor the chicks might be at fault after all?

China invades the Philippines — a bad dream come true

The sinking of a Filipino fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea by a Chinese vessel has created a sticky public relations situation for the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Snapshots of Eddie Garcia

I’m praying that, by the time this piece comes out, my friend and motion picture colleague Eddie Garcia will have recovered from his recent neck fracture and is resting well, before going back before the cameras. At age 90, Eddie is one of the oldest film and TV actors in the country and, without fear of contradiction, one of the most awarded silver screen professionals in the world, not just as best actor and best-supporting actor, but as best director, as well.

Travel the world and appreciate the Philippines

Remember the old saying? “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” They watch out for pickpockets.

Just one proof of reform, please

Now that the elections are over and new senators and local government officials are going to assume office, can we the citizenry expect the “promising” men and women who courted us for our votes and promised a Utopian government to please, please, puleezze make good on some of those promises?