Archive for the ‘Dasheen bush’ Category

The Incomprehensibility Of The U.S. Presidential Elections

September 18, 2008

When George Bush jr. took over the reins of the White House nearly eight years ago, he inherited the Bill Clinton legacy–a balanced budget, decades of deficits erased, interest rates and inflation subdued after years of uncontrolled gallop, technology lead reclaimed, rising productivity in industry, a booming economy,  renewed confidence in itself and better cooperation and understanding abroad compared to previous administrations.

Yes, Bush was a victim of the 9/11 tragedy, too, which happened very early in his first term. But that solitary tragedy seemed to trigger an irrational streak of administration on his part that constrasted to his successful terms as Texas governor. It seemed his whole administrative regime was dominated by his urge to “get back” against his 9/11 tormentors and its perceived allies. Non-Americans will always associate him as the charging (Lone?) Ranger against Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea.

While engaged in this “irrational” quest, the rest of the world got on with its business (I wonder if they even remembered the Coalition of the Willing). China and India emerged, Russia bottomed out on its path to ruin, the European Union was coming to age and Japan, uh well, continued in its steady if unspectacular path.

And how is the great USA faring at the tailend of the Bush administration? A tottering economy fuelled by its stock market and credit woes, a bulging deficit, entrenchment in the Iran and Afghanistan quagmires, a discredited leadership in international affairs and an unpopular president shunned even by the national convention of his party and kept at arms length by its standard bearer.

And yet, that standard bearer of Bush’s party is running neck-to-neck with the standard bearer of the opposing party! Incredible! In the Philippines if such were the case McCain will certainly end up pummelled in the elections and a sorry loser after that (like McGovern). Does it mean that the Philippine electorate is more discerning than the US electorate? And I thought many said that the Filipino people has a very short memory. Does it mean that the US electorate has amnesia?

And again, I wonder why such a contest merits a lot of attention in the international media. Oh, I forgot, circuses really do attract a lot of attention.

Calle Natong: Naga City’s populist way of naming a street

August 27, 2008


In earlier days, ill-descript Bagumbayan Interior, in Naga City, Philippines could barely be regarded as a street. It was a short and dusty alley close to Ateneo de Naga University (AdenU) campus. The name gave a hint of a semi-wild location where planks of rickety wood served as elevated platforms—like toy bridges over muddy ditches behind the main road leading to Canaman, Bombon, Quipayo, Magarao, and Calabanga, not far from Universidad de Sta Isabel University (USI) and Camarines Sur National High (CSNHS.)

The unpaved alley’s name stuck for years. No one raised any objection or asked for a law or ordinance to change the village path’s name where zacate grass and snakeheads (talusog) in muddy pools grew wild. Maybe, it’s because Bagumbayan Interior is secluded. The alley with very confusing boundaries had a neutral reputation. There was no major historical meaning in the street unlike the old great Calle Via Gainza, named after Bishop Francisco Gainza, but later renamed as Penafrancia Avenue.

In the 1970’s, ordinary people started calling Bagumbayan Interior “Calle Natong,” a populist reference to the wild taro plants (dasheen bush) which grew aplenty in that marshy locale. We, the few low-brow barangay residents, didn’t object. Calle Natong was just the right name to keep us reminded of our favorite, Bicolano dish, the spicy ginota’an na natong (laing, sinilihan na katnga) when the proverbial green leaves of the dasheen bush got burning hot with bedeviled red peppers (lada,siling labuyo.)

The informal appellation took root and tricycle drivers who rode the peaceful place knew where Calle Natong was. The building of homes much later altered the course of the street and the landscape. It didn’t take long when more people settled in the place, Calle Natong gave way to a more urbane, but unfamiliar name: Seminary Road then later becoming the Mother Francisca Street, perhaps because a convent was there in the area.

These were confusing changes we didn’t understand. Natong which we held dear being our celebrated Bicol regional plant—the source of nourishment of Handiong‘s children, was waylaid on the side. After our street was renamed, Calle Natong, was never the same.=0=