Big Boys Don't Cry

"Waaah! I don't like chocolate! I want vanilla!"

"Why are you crying?" asked Mommy.

"Because I don't like chocolate ice cream! I want vanilla ice cream!"

"Stop crying. Big boys don't cry. We'll buy your vanilla ice cream in another store."

* * * * *

"Waaah! I don't like carrots! I want cake!"

"Why are you crying?" asked Mommy.

"Because I don't like to eat carrots! I want to eat cake!"

"Stop crying. Big boys don't cry. Finish your carrots and you can eat cake."

* * * * *

"Waaah! I don't like Cartoon Network! I want Batibot!

"Why are you crying?" asked Mommy.

"Because I don't like to watch Cartoon Network! I want to watch Batibot!"

"Stop crying. Big boys don't cry. Watch Cartoon Network first, then you can watch Batibot.

* * * * *

"Waaah! I don't like a t-shirt! I want a toy!"

"Why are you crying?" asked Mommy.

"Because I don't like to buy a t-shirt! I want to buy a toy!"

"Listen to me. Stop crying. You're a big boy now. Big boys don't cry. Only babies cry. Are you a baby?"

"No, I'm a big boy now."

"So stop crying. I'll buy you this t-shirt for your birthday. And then I'll buy you a toy for Christmas. Okay?"

"Okay, Mommy. I'm sorry. I'll stop crying now."

* * * * *

And the big boy stopped crying since.

Sun, 5 Dec 2010.

Sting Lacson

A writer. By degree and by profession. Also strongly advocates ten-finger typing to all writers because that's what you do for a living, so be efficient at it.

The Face That Launched a Thousand Shirts

by Gene Paulo Abrajano

(Edited and titled by Chonx Tibajia
Published in the Philippine STAR, page J-2, Sat, 21 Aug 2010.)

The STAR's Features Editor called me and asked, “Pwede ka ba magsulat ng article para sa Ninoy Aquino Day?

I replied, “Ninoy Aquino Day? Mayro'n ba n'un?” It was only after she thought I was weird that I realized that she was referring to NINOY, the guy in the five hundred-peso bill. Fail on my part.

Anyway, I said yes, and asked her what angle she wanted me to take on the article. We had a couple of discussions before we finally settled for “How the youth remembers Ninoy Aquino.” Or something to that effect. She told me to interview ten people, preferably those born after 1990, or at least post-EDSA.

Eager to do the assignment (and since I had like less than twenty-four hours to write it), I went to work immediately. The first person I interviewed was my sister, born in 1990. I told her I needed to write an article about Ninoy, and asked her what she knew about him. Twice in the same day, Ninoy has been mistaken for Noynoy. Or vice versa. Either way, this is definitely not right, and in my opinion, is a bigger problem than kids not knowing who Ninoy is altogether.

This of course made me wonder why people mistake P-Noy for that guy in the five hundred-peso bill. Okay, they look a bit alike. They're father and son, after all. But it seems that people have made P-Noy his father's avatar. This is quite surprising, as father and son are more than a generation apart. But I'd like to think that they share more than their names (incidentally, there is only a one-letter difference in their nicknames).

As is typical of famous father-son relationships, one would think that the son would have some “living under the shadow” issues. There's John and Julian Lennon. Then there's Bob and Ziggy Marley. But aside from being artists, the fathers' shadow has become too big for the sons to escape from. The Aquinos, on the other hand, are a different matter. Aside from being politicians, both of them seem to be casting only one shadow, Ninoy's. P-Noy has simply stepped into his father's shoes, and thus does not have to worry about casting his own shadow, one greater than his father's.

So how big is Ninoy's shadow, really? Big enough, apparently. Cory Aquino has stepped into it from 1986-1992. And with P-Noy's election to the presidency, we can expect his shadow to remain for another six years.

And again, we go back to the avatar issue. If P-Noy is the avatar of Ninoy, then so was Cory. We've heard it countless times before: if Ninoy hadn't been shot in 1983, it would have been him in MalacaƱang, not his wife. It seems then that the Filipino populace does not vote for a person; the Filipino votes for an ideal, an ideal represented by a certain bespectacled former senator who died on the tarmac of the airport that now bears his name. This ideal, by association, was passed on to his wife, which got her elected to the presidency. And this ideal, by genetics, was passed on to his son, which also got him elected to the presidency.

Ninoy's ideals have outlived him, as they have outlived his wife. And they must also outlive his son. Ninoy's ideals must continue to exist, even after Ninoy Aquino himself has reached the status of “icon.”And Ninoy is close to reaching this status, as evidenced by the greatest creator of icons: pop culture.

Ninoy's induction into pop culture began even before he was immortalized on our currency (currently the second most expensive monetary bill of this country). It began with the use of the color yellow, way back since Cory Aquino's presidential campaign. This of course alludes to the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree,” Ninoy and Cory's favorite song. The color yellow also became the symbol for democracy and peaceful protests, gracing the cover of Time Magazine when they featured Asia's first female head of state. The yellow ribbon made a popular comeback in 2009, when Cory left this world to join her husband. This kind of gave P-Noy a campaign edge, since he also utilized yellow ribbons for his presidential campaign, way before the start of the official campaign period.

Artists have also gone as far as using metonymy with Ninoy's glasses. Some have also made shirts (yellow, of course) with Ninoy Aquino's face done in the style of Che Guevara. And this is where the danger lies, in my opinion. Che Guevara is more than an ideal now; he is an icon. And this is apparently the direction Ninoy Aquino is bound to take. Che Guevara used to represent an ideal, one that we may not all agree with, but an ideal nonetheless, pure and selfless. But once he became an icon, everything was lost. Now, people remember Che Guevara not for his socialist ideals that helped win the Cuban Revolution, but for the beauty of his face that looks damn good on t-shirts. And that same thing could happen to Ninoy, should the Filipino people forget the story behind the iconic mug found on countless campaigns and merchandise. Everything he fought for, everything he stood for, everything he died for is part of the story that we should keep on telling.

Many are still believers. That surge of patriotism running through the veins of today's youth? It seems very real and enduring. Let's hope that generations to come will see Ninoy not just as a face on a shirt, but a true face in the crowd─as someone real and could possibly be awakened from inside all of us.

Sting Lacson

A writer. By degree and by profession. Also strongly advocates ten-finger typing to all writers because that's what you do for a living, so be efficient at it.

Presidential Bets Article

by GP Abrajano

(Published in the Philippine Star, circa March 2010.
The following article is NOT the published version.)

Land. The last frontier. It is probably the only thing that will still be in demand three hundred years from now. The entire world knows this, which is why the world powers are now scrambling for a slice of Antarctic real estate, and are also actively crafting legislation to distribute lunar land.

The Philippine Constitution prohibits foreigners owning lands in the Philippines. The 1935 and the 1973 Constitutions are explicit, the 1987 Constitution not quite so. This is because, according to law professor Carmelo V. Sison, it should already be implied.

There already exists a legal loophole regarding foreign ownership, and that is Republic Act 4726, known as the Condominium Act. Maneuvering through its legalese, it becomes possible for a foreigner to own one hundred percent of Philippine real estate, because when it comes to condominiums, it is possible to separate the interests on the land from the building.

What then could be the future of Philippine real properties? Would it remain patrimonial? Or would it be sold to the highest bidder? That all depends on who will lead this country at the start of the new presidential term. Here are the presidential candidates and their stand on foreign ownership of land in the Philippines.

Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro: Gibo is a clear proponent of changing the charter. He is particularly vocal about reducing the legislative chambers into a single, unicameral system. We can understand where this is coming from, after two years of serving as a congressional legislator. Of course, this is not the only change he wants to see. He is for the partial lifting of the ban on foreigners owning Philippine lands.

Gibo is all for foreigners owning commercial, industrial, and residential lands. Residential lands are understandable ─ we’ve had foreigners living here as far back as anyone can remember. But commercial and industrial land is another matter. This actually covers potential tourist gold mines. This poses the danger of the gold being mined into foreign pockets.

He does, however, reserve to the Filipinos the agricultural, forest, mineral, and timber lands of these islands. I guess this seems all right. But I still can’t help but think that it’s the commercial and industrial lands that will generate more money.

Richard “Dick” Gordon: Dick Gordon is generally of the same view as Gibo, that is, opening our lands to foreign enterprises. He also added that our minerals, our oil, and our waters should be reserved only for Filipino citizens.

This is of course coming from a man who held the mayoralty seat of Olongapo city for thirteen years, and chaired the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, countless others tourism agencies, and also served as Secretary of the Department of Tourism. For someone who would go the extra mile to attract foreigners to visit our shores, you can only imagine how far he would go to attract foreigners to stay on our shores.

Joseph “Erap” Estrada: Erap is the third presidential bet who is openly pro-foreign ownership of Philippine lands. This has been his policy when he was still in office, and he shows no signs of changing this policy should he get re-elected this time.

Think back to the time of Erap’s CONCORD, or Constitutional Correction and Development. Charter Change had already been part of his agenda, although not in a term-extension manner, but in a manner that will sell our national patrimony to the highest bidder.

Manuel “Manny” Villar: To determine Villar’s stand on land ownership by aliens, all one has to do is study the platform of the Nacionalista Party.

“Foreign Investors are welcome to invest in the Philippines so long as the national patrimony and economy is protected and not compromised. Foreign investors shall be allowed access to land through the lease system.” So the Nacionalistas are not actually against totally alienating the aliens from Philippine lands, because they do allow the foreigners access to it. Just through a system of lease. Why sell, when you can lease it, make just as much money, and still retain ownership?

The platform also states that, “Land ownership has always been an important component of building up the Filipino middle class and it should not be easily compromised.” That is of course, the Nacionalista Party speaking. Not Villar himself. On the issue of foreign land ownership, Villar gives the cryptic response of “letting the people decide.”

Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III: When asked about changing the charter’s policies on foreign ownership of lands, Aquino gives the vague answer, “if it is necessary.” He plans on forming a separate Commission to determine if it is necessary to amend the Constitution’s prohibitions regarding foreign ownership, if it is actually necessary for our economic growth. Well of course anything can be justified as “necessary” as long as the conditions are ripe.

We must take into account that Aquino comes a family of landowners, whose vast haciendas have not yet been distributed to the farmers that tilled its soil, pursuant to the directives of agrarian reform. So if Filipino farmers cannot own their lands, I don’t think even foreign businessmen should.

Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva: Brother Eddie, along with Nicky Perlas, is maybe the only candidate with no experience in public office. His concerns are different from the other candidates. For example, he has no solid stance on foreign ownership of lands. But he does say that he is against all forms of foreign intervention. We can also assume he is against foreign ownership of Philippine lands.

John Carlos “JC” De Los Reyes: De Los Reyes may also be a relative cellar-dweller in the presidential race, but he is one of those who are against foreign ownership of lands. His prohibition is not total, though. He still retains a nationalist policy regarding lands, but he has expressed interest in exploring the possibility of letting foreigners have “limited ownership” of our lands. Not to take it against him, but history has shown us that “limited” will eventually mean “full.”

Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal: Senator Jamby has come under a lot of flak from the voting populace, what with her relentless drive against corruption and corrupt officials. And yet, Madrigal’s stance on foreign ownership of land may actually be the strongest among those who oppose it in its entirety. Madrigal wants to shield the patriotic provisions of our constitution reserving the rights of Filipino citizens to land ownership against any and all forms of foreign influence. For her, there are no conditions. Foreigners must not own lands. The Philippines is strictly for Filipinos.

Nicanor “Nicky” Perlas: Nicky Perlas is the underdog, one with no political experience under his belt. He also has the clearest, meatiest platform among all the candidates. Yet surprisingly, his platform, as well as his party’s (PANGMASA) platform, is silent on the issue of foreign ownership of land. It does put emphasis on the state of mining in this country, and talks about broadening “the ownership-base of the mining industry”. But this is in relation to local miners. However, if you take this in context with another point of his platform of encouraging foreign investment in the country, then I guess you can consider his platform vague on the issue of foreign ownership.

So there you have it. The question is: Should foreigners own land in the Philippines? Three candidates said yes. That’s Teodoro, Gordon, and Estrada. One is unsure, and that is Villanueva. Four are vague, and that’s Villar, Aquino, De Los Reyes, and Perlas. And only one has a loud, resounding NO, all caps, and that’s Senator Jamby Madrigal. And if your presidential vote will depend on the candidate’s stand on foreign ownership, then I hope this article has been of some help.

Sting Lacson

A writer. By degree and by profession. Also strongly advocates ten-finger typing to all writers because that's what you do for a living, so be efficient at it.

My Literary Side

"The Words come from the Divine; from the Muse the Idea. The Poet merely transcribes." ┼Old Sumerian proverb

(Kidding, I made that up. LOL)