Author: Ninotchka

The Day Manila Fell Silent..

IRONICALLY, THE MOST QUIET DAY IN MANILA of contemporary times began with noise: a loud pounding on the glass door of a penthouse apartment I was using at the time.  The friend who was hollering and shouting and bruising his knuckles on the glass, blurted out, as soon I slid the door open, “martial law na…[martial law already]”  A split second of silence;  then I pivoted and clicked on the radio.  Nothing but white noise.  Turned on the TV.   Nothing but a white screen and static.  Distraught friend said, “no TV, no radio station… everything’s closed down.”  We eyeballed each other.  The previous night’s last news item on TV flashed into my mind:  a still photo of a car, its roof collapsed, windshield shattered; a male voice saying that the car of the Secretary of National Defense had been attacked but he had not been in it… It was truncated news; I thought,  “what?  An empty car was bombed?”  As I was going to bed, I noticed that the government building behind our apartment building was all …

One Beauty Queen & Eight Dead Tourists

If one question were to define the character of your people and if two events were to be pivotal in defining the character of your nation – what question and what events would you choose? Maria Venus Raj, 22-year-old Miss Philippines contender for the Miss Universe crown, likely did not anticipate she would be at the center of the above-mentioned situations. The question that became a character definition, not only for her but for her entire country mates, was whether she had committed a big mistake and what she did to correct it. Ms. Raj replied candidly that she’d never had a major, major problem and thanked her family for guiding her – not in perfect English, granted, but neither unintelligible nor incomprehensible either. I’ve heard worse from winners and losers alike.  Ms. Raj placed fourth and thereby became the object of intense criticism, and a cause for a general self-abnegation on her country people’s part, as if she herself, not the judges, chose Miss Mexico for the title. Or as though this was and will …

Didn’t Even Realize It

Was on Huffington Post and only found out when googling for a photo to send to Polland. Click on title above to access. Sorry for those who get posts automatically. I was trying to embed the link, hence the many versions of this post. Failed at it, too.

All Hail To the Goddess Ostara

Or Eastre – from which the words Easter and estrogen spring, and from whose rites –started sometime in 500 BC — comes the egg, the ultimate fertility symbol. Nanny used to wake me early Easter Sunday as the church bells rang and make me jump up and down on the bed so I’d grow really tall. I think she had dreams of raising a basketball star. Huge disappointment. I didn’t even get to tall. Lent seems to grow bloodier and bloodier in the Philippines which spewed out gory images of flagellants shredding their backs to ribbons with thorny whips, of 25 people, including one woman, who had themselves crucified. Government issued an edict banning foreigners from crucifying themselves – and why not? – thus tacitly saying that only the local lower classes may do so. STGdess, the idea that those who already suffer on a daily basis should corporeally punish themselves more and terribly one day of each year just does not compute to my mind. I don’t see the rich self-flagellating or nailing themselves …

A Traditional Election Spread

Been getting emails asking what I thought of the coming (May) presidential elections. I sort of dithered, asking do I have to? (think about it, that is), one of the main reasons being that though there were so many candidates (99 who wanted to be president), 99% were uninteresting. If you’ve been born bored as I was, there’s no greater bane than uninteresting. So finally, this week, when the inquiring emails reached a ridiculous 350, I took a look. And decided I like the platform of Sen. Jamby Madrigal. Access it and read at her website – www.jambymadrigal.com. She seems to be engaged in a wide spectrum of concerns – from LRT long-lines to fisherfolks, to the Visiting Forces Agreement (she’s against it) and the Magna Carta of Women. Many women politician get to power by (re)molding themselves to symbolize the male traditional view of how a woman should be (as in non-controversial and malleable) and thus de-genderize themselves in the process, becoming a conduit for conservatism. Sen. Madrigal seems to have escaped this; seems, …

Déjà Vu All Over Again

April is the cruelest month, especially way back in 1973, the 4th of the month to be precise, when Liliosa Hilao was murdered in the makeshift detention quarters of the (Philippine) Constabulary Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU). In the wake of Presidential Proclamation 1081, which imposed martial rule on the Philippines, CANU had abruptly given dope dealers, dope pushers and narcotics traffickers a unilateral truce, electing instead to go after activists, “leftists,” dissenters and a vast array of people who did not want Mr. Marcos to change the Constitution so he, his clan and cronies could rule forever. Liliosa was 23 years old, a scholar at the City University of Manila and editor of Hasik, the school’s student newspaper. Later testimonies revealed she had been tortured, gang-raped, injected with truth serum. Then, because she wouldn’t be cowed and vowed to go after her brutalizers, they poured muriatic acid down her throat and killed her. Hers was the first death in the urban detention centers of the Marcos regime. When her family tried to obtain justice, the military …