State of the Nation Address of the Streets

Eleven years ago, I wrote on then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) for UPLB Perspective.  And now, under a new President, as Sir Paul McCartney says, “here I go again.”

Commonwealth Ave., Quezon City 2011

Leftist groups hold own Sona

CHANTING slogans used in Edsa Dos and the administration that followed, leftist groups on Monday said things are the same more than a year into President Benigno Aquino III’s presidency.

Groups under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance, Bayan) held a rally on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to hold a “State of the Nation Address (Sona) of the People.”

Down the road at the Batasang Pambansa, lawmakers, government officials, and VIPs waited for the President to arrive and give his official Sona.

Continue reading “State of the Nation Address of the Streets”


A Picture Postcard

Pigcawayan, North Cotabato

We had to stop to pee at a public restroom beside this mosque. There was no toilet, strictly speaking. There was a room with a hole along the wall that pee drains out of.

Children ran out of their houses to fetch us water from the only pump in the village. It was to flush our pee with because, being clumsy and insensitive people from Manila, we would not have thought to do that ourselves.

Field Note 02: Surviving ambush interviews

IF you don’t have a question to ask, try not to get in the way. Stay within earshot, but let the photographers and camera men through when they tap your shoulder to subtly tell you that you are blocking their shots. The next hint will likely not be so subtle.

Do not feel bad if you can’t think of anything to ask. Sometimes, listening is enough. Sometimes, asking a question already answered is worse than no question at all. A question based on wrong assumptions, worst of all. There are, despite that old reassuring chestnut from grade school, stupid questions.

When you do have a question, though, try to look at your interviewee and not your notebook. Use a voice recorder if you feel you’ll forget what they say within seconds of their saying it.

Jotting things down in a notebook may save you from having to make eye contact but it will also make you seem uninterested and like a bit of a douche. True story.

Epic Fail

Melchor de Santos, Jennifer Paul

My mother is my greatest failure.

After years of trying to keep my family together after my father died, I had to bring her to the airport last Friday. She flew to Cebu, probably never to return.

She had grown old–too old for her age–in the less than two years since my father and her father died on the same night in separate hospitals. She is with her family now, the one that works.

Whatever I do now, whatever freak achievement I con people into giving me credit for, will mean nothing compared to failing my parents.

My father, for letting him die in my arms. My mother, for failing to pick up the impossible slack that my father’s passing left behind.