Whistling in the Dark


By Oliver Geronilla


From where I am, I can sense that Bulan politics is so still you could hear a pin drop. The pledge to be transparent, the enthusiasm to inform and be informed have all vanished into thin air–perhaps corked in the trapos’ bottles of potions only to be reopened when it’s time to bewitch the electorate again.

Something’s wrong. This silence needs to be broken lest we be accused of being privy to whatever plot is being brewed by these political wizards and witches. This is the point when silence is no longer golden. It reeks of many things that you and I are both wary of—secrecy, muted whimpers, and God forbid… a whole new world of shenanigans!

Just a few more weeks, the year will be over. And yet, nothing significant has transpired in the way hits and misses in local governance are regularly reported to the people of Bulan. Well, fair do’s, at least its official website has been recently tweaked making it technically no longer dormant. Thanks to Tinker Bell! But, by golly, it still bears the same news items that netizens have probably read and reread to their boredom. To make things worse, count how many times the mayor’s picture “graced” the welcome page. Has the moon’s gravity paralyzed the mighty brains and hands of our local heralds? Or have they been gagged by the powers that be?

Whatever the case may be, it still puzzles me why this is happening when I suppose there’s enough manpower to do this job. It doesn’t take a genius to write what we see, hear, and feel. We’re not asking for brilliantly written pieces; we’re asking for reports, for observations, for stories decently written that can fill the vacuum of emptiness that make one stop thinking the world has come to a halt—in Bulan.

Personally, I want to go home, go around the town, and gather some news just for me to have a springboard. But do I really have to do them? For sure, columnists don’t go to Iraq or to North Korea just to get some juicy pieces of information for their articles. For sure, they can have the needed information to put substance into what they write without hopping from one place to another.

Hence, it bothers me that I can write commentaries about Southeast Asian affairs at a drop of a hat, but I can never write a piece about my own hometown. I can’t … because I rely mostly on cyber news. And there’s nothing much and there’s nothing new that we can read about our town through the world wide web. That’s for sure.

So, let me propose one thing: let’s all write. It might be daunting at first, but when we get the hang of it—perhaps through trial and error or dedicated mentoring—everything will just go smoothly.

By writing down our “observations,” we can subtly change the course of events in our town. It’s not tilting at windmills. In fact, it’s doing our share.

Silence is not what we need now. Make noise. Let’s write.


To Bulan Lion’s Club


We are interested in your medical missions that you do from time to time for the less-fortunate people of Bulan and we would like to know more about it in terms of your experiences with it, the mechanics of how you conduct it, problems met, support and feedback from other sectors and of course your plans and sustainability concepts.

My group is working again on the next fund-raising project and a part of its proceeds will be alloted again to your medical mission. Should you be interested in it, please let us know.

We  also ask you about the present status of the Sta. Remedios  Charity Medical Clinic and,if possible, please send us photos of it.

Hoping to hear from you soon.

jun asuncion


If You Would Ask Me

 by jun asuncion


 Or let me say, if I may ask you.

 By chance, I read yesterday that the 18-year-old,  fresh high-school graduate Alexandra Mills of Lousville, USA, won the Miss World beauty pageant. This reminded me of our Bicolana beauty queen Venus Raj- and most of all to the question: “What was the major mistake in your life and what did you do to correct it?”…it goes something like that. What would have been Miss Mill’s answer if asked the same question, I thought…

 Although I never watch beauty contests, the “Major, Major” controversy, however, had caught my attention after that Miss Universe contest. And weeks after that, it was followed by the hostage crisis at the Querino grandstand, an event which I monitored from the beginning.

I was also a bit disappointed by Venus’ handling of the question and very much disgusted by the  handling of that hostage crisis by our government and police officers. At one point we became the laughingstock for the whole world. I was sure  that  at that very moment, élite rescue teams from different countries were monitoring how we would handle the crisis in the hope of learning something. But what we showed them deserved no respect.

I did not lose my respect to Venus, though the Miss Universe beauty pageant did not interest me at all. My interest came when I read from yahoo news about the only gaffe in the pageant which was Miss Raj’s answer to the question from a hollywood panelist. Indeed, ” Major, Major” echoing from a stage carrying the most beautiful women in the world in a given moment to be followed afterwards with “Minor, Minor”  performance at the Querino grandstand where some innocent Hong kong Chinese tourists were butchered and where weeks before a major positive change in our national leadership was proclaimed.

Personally, I love majors and minors. For jazz musicians, major and minor chords account much in the improvisation. For beside the dominant, diminished and augmented chords, it is from the sound qualities of majors and minors where musical landscapes made up of improvised lines are created. There are excellent and mediocre players but it’s alright,  the main thing is that it doesn’t cost the lives of the musicians and of the listeners.

However, improvisation has no place in a rescue operation involving real people in danger. Here, the minutest detail must be planned and the whole operation exactly orchestrated. There is no need to go into the details for everybody has seen in TV’s and YouTube how the whole improvisation became so fatal. It couldn’t be blamed to the policemen on the front but to those who were giving the commands – the police directors and the politicians behind. If it were a musical catastrophe, the conductor would have been out of his mind and been divested of his prestigious function for his failure to differentiate a minor from a major chord.

But what happened is past. The only thing good is to learn lessons from it. The PNP has always been a problem child in our country and that without a valid cause: Political corruption in the past. Hence, we can point to it being the problem parent of the problem child. Corrupt politicians till the recent past have maltreated the PNP, used it for their own political survival. Therefore, the PNP and its entire command channels did not develop to the desired professional status. It remained primitive and  incapable of complex and planned operation. The whole proof to it is still to be seen in YouTube so to deny it would be a spinal reflex again  than a cortical reflection.

How about Miss Venus Raj’s controversial answer, was it a slip of the tongue, a  spinal reflex or a poor cortical reflection? Or a poor improvisational talent? It must have cost her the crown but still she somewhat queenly tackles the whole controversy around that answer. That’s the main point there, of being able to stay beautiful, decent and somewhat pure after  a painful mistake. Well, who among us doesn’t commit a mistake? And many are uglier after committing a mistake but I guess not so with Venus. Venus remained beautiful after that answer,  a major issue that made her even more popular, a major reason for those green-eyed monsters who are jealous with her looks. Yes, Major, Major, she being true to her name Venus, the Greek God of beauty.

Well, seriously if the PNP commits a major mistake, how much more a beauty queen? The only difference was that her mistake did not cost more than eight lives and had caused no damage to our tourist industry. So, are you not ready to forgive such a blunder by Venus? I am, for it was not a crime.  And Venus did no finger-pointing after that, a gesture that for me would have cost more her crown.

But now back to you, what  would you answer to such a question? How would the PNP had answered such a question?? Away from that bloody Querino grandstand and back to that beauty-packed stage, the question posed to Venus would have sounded so simple yet, seen in the right context, it was a complex and catchy one.

The question automatically puts one in a position of either telling the truth or not. To invent a scenario would be a case of lying which would cost more the crown.  To tell the truth would always be the best. But what if really no  major mistake has happened yet to your young life like Venus’? What would you tell the whole world who is listening and not only expecting an honest answer but an intelligent talking?

It was not Venus’ answer itself that disturbed me but the psychology behind her attitude which this time did not work -as expected- in that Western context. Sensing that her answer was not very convincing, she attempted an emotional coup d’ etat by an overly show of gratitude or thankfulness, hoping intuitively to defuse the jury’s cerebral mechanism. I mean she was not asked to show a sample of the Filipino trait of Utang Na Loob! That’s why it failed because it was not the right place for it, prompting the Western media to call it  a “social” gaffe.

I’m not a beauty queen, but if you would ask me, Venus should have argued this way: ” The major mistake that I made in my life was that of allowing myself for a time to be a helpless victim of poverty and feeling marginalized and inferior due to our social status and to my growing up without a father…I realized too soon that I must be positive in my outlook to have a brighter future for me and my family…this was I think my way of correcting that mistake and which has brought me to where I am now…”

Well, who could prove such argument as a lie or not? In fact, seen against Venus’ biography, one can easily take it as an honest answer; not perhaps for a psychologist, but we don’t want to dig  that far.

I think the Filipino emotionality and traits are still contained in these lines without however sacrificing the cerebral aspect. I’m sure it should have appealed to the Western mind (the jury and the media most of all).

A balance of emotion and thinking-I guess- has a  more deeper and beautiful impact to the society.

What do you say to that if I may ask you?