Archive for the ‘Juan Engardo Angara’ Category

Zards: The Biggest Little Man of UP Ibalon

November 21, 2008


I first heard about Zards from Susan Princesa when I followed her up in UP Rep where they were also org-mates. Of course, I have known Susan from her high school days being a favorite stude of my mother and being the sister of Grace, a close friend. Talking about Zards, she was bubbly and it helped formed in me a favorable impression of Zards whom I haven’t met till that time.

I followed up Zards. I think we also hit off coz I warm up to persons who also warm up to me. But he had a problem then. Behn Cervantes was pressuring him too hard to wear an authentic bahag in a play where he would act as an Igorot, promising him a grade of “1.0” if he doesn’t use an underwear during the play and threatening him with fire and thunder if he does.

He asked for my advice. Told him, “Follow him”. He replied, “Paano kung tayuan ako sa stage?”. And I had my laugh for the day. That was the start of our friendship.

No, he wasn’t “Zards”. He told me he is known as “Ely” in Naga and in high school (which he finished in Torres High in Manila). But he told me “Ely”, as pronounced in Naga rhymes with “buli“. Susan thought “Ely” sounded too soft so he rechristened Felizardo “Zards” in UP Rep. To Ely’s consternation, it caught on and that became his calling card. Of course it will stick since the great Behn repeatedly called him “Zards”.

“Metro Aide lang an ina ko“. Kaya palan he was not too open in Ibalon on his origins.

Of course, early on, I caught that Zards have ambitions In Ibalon, during Boyo’s rise. No, I did not strike it down. I was not the type na nang-i-small kan dudumanan nin tawo. My best friend then paid dearly for that mistake and he later became a non-entity.

I was not present when Zards became the president of Ibalon. I was in forced hibernation then, with free board and lodging.

Learned about the “War of the Roses” later, Part I. But it was just the story about the final rise of a former dinner-mate who regretted not taking my advice to shift to IE, Albert Molina.

I thought Zards could have been a “Godfather”, like AM. But he miscalculated the endgame, and I told him about that later, sparking many midnight talks in his Makati office. However, he became University Councilor of the UP Student Council. After all, having Lean Alejandro as roommate does not hurt.

He founded the Bicol Students’ Congress (BSC) and the Bicol Youth Forum (BYF). So for the first time UP Ibalon had projection outside the campus. Later the BYF withered. Might have been too unwieldy, for it included out-of-school youths and unless you have real community organizing it could be difficult. And he did not have real backing “upstairs”. Hostile questions about his motives. Struck me that the one leading the hostile questions ay pareho lang nin ginikanan ki Zards. Later the BSC “disowned” him during the time of the Great Split.

He worked for Edgardo Angara when he became UP President. This elicited questions and jeers from some Ibalon quarters. From an activist to a functionary nga naman. He felt obliged to explain this to me. It didn’t bother me. People move on and people have dual lives. I saw this even while I was in college. Seemingly “normal” people have different “careers” after office hours.

He taught at AMA after college. Later he worked at the TESDA. When the dictatorship was overthrown he thought of running for a provincial board seat in Catanduanes (he hailed from Pandan, the town where the dialect of northern Catanduanes, Bicol Pandan, was named). “Nasa Manila ka na babalik ka pa sa Catanduanes”, his patron told him.

He was later active in the Sangguniang Kabataan movement where he met his Singaporean girl. They were able to have SK recognized in the new constitution. He was later rewarded for this with a youth-sector seat in Congress in the early ’90s. Some ribbed him about his age. Known for his self-deprecating humor, he said his height helped him qualify.

In company with some Ibalonians I went to see the first Ibalon congressman. Always upfront with me, he said he worked real hard in the SK but he admitted that knowing the Senate President helped. That was where I met Juliet, his Ibalon sister who is working as his chief of staff. After his Congress stint he went back to his old patron and worked as his chief of staff which again drew jeers from some quarters.

It was then that I invited him to become a board member in the revived UP Ibalon Alumni Association. “Tatanggapin ba ako diyan?” He was hesitant because of the jeers.

Visiting him once, he was distraught. “Marhay ta nahiling ako ni Penny“. Her mother who was Metro Aide was hit by a car while working at dawn and the driver didn’t stop. She was brought to the charity ward of the PGH.

Later he became president of the UP Ibalon Alumni Association early in this decade. He was then working as VP at the AMA Educational System and at times functioning as the chief of staff of the owner. But his health was already beginning to deteriorate and he is holding a high-pressure job.

As the pointman of his boss he is often abroad. To rescue some hapless Pinoy OFW who got entangled because this is the role of his boss in this administration. But he doesn’t want any credit, not even pictures.

Always a functionary. “Wala naman akong ibang paraan umasenso. Marami akong dapat tulungan“.

“How did the play go?” “Di ko kaya. Nagsulot ako nin supporter.”

Banning the words “Muslim” & “Christians” in the media lexicon: ultra-sensitivity & the desire to sanitize reality

October 18, 2008

The Philippines seems to have joined the bandwagon of onion-skinned nations who give lots of thought on words that are otherwise innocuous. Per se, I don’t see anything wrong in using “Muslim” or “Christian” to describe a person, whether he is a criminal or saint. Adjectives make descriptions clear. If one calls a “dirty spade a dirty spade,” then that’s the honest truth. Regardless of whether the spade is sleek clean or dirty, it is objectivity that we desire in communication. Sometimes reality does bite. Risking of minor abrasion, I believe it is better to articulate truth than be restricted from using words that could be helpful in understanding.

The Philippine House Bill 100, now on its way to its third and final reading in congress, proposes to prohibit the use of “Muslim” and “Christian” or any word that indicates religious, regional, or ethnic affiliation. Violators (i.e. newspaper editors using “Muslim terrorists” to describe a convict) are threatened by a hefty fine of P50,000.

Authored by Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara with Reps. Pangalian Balindong, Arnulfo Go, Luzviminda Ilagan, Bienvenido Abante, Justin SB Chipeco, Yusop Jikiri, Raul del Mar and Neptali Gonzales, this bill shows how political correctness has crept into our brain like a neuron-gobbling worm. Why have they become wimpy in describing reality?

The “criminalizaton” of specific words in our media lexicon can be a new road to curtail our basic right for free speech. It is an attempt to sanitize reality and reprogram our way of thinking—perhaps to make as feel good that we don’t offend any religious groups including those who want to harm us— even if nasty, libelous, and more vitriolic words are hurled on us in the media everyday. However good-intentioned these congressmen are, they better be specific with the words they want banned. For fairness and balance, it will serve them well to consider adding more negatively charged words in their list such “discriminatory” terms as lesbian, homosexual, mentally retarded, old, disabled, illiterate, obese etc.

Our legislators say the words “Muslim” and “Christian” create “a sweeping generalization on other members of the race, culture or region” when the words are used to describe a suspect or convict. I don’t think this is true. I believe our rational mind doesn’t think this way, unless certain neutral words are accompanied by qualifying statements that lead to a particular derogatory generalization.

The bill’s stand seems distorted by its own tunnel-vision. There is the desire for political correctness and perhaps an inclination for approval. There is that unexpressed subliminal paranoia that we might want to cast away.

As long as “brandings” only refer to the criminals or suspects, those who are unintentionally linked with them by religious or ethnic associations need not worry. It isn’t the media’s fault. The people who make unfounded generalizations and make unfair conclusions are the ones who are culpable. Guilt by association without evidence is often debunked and doesn’t hold credibility in intelligent news reporting. Our legislators must be mature to understand this.

Congressmen may want this House Bill No. 100 like a comfort Barbie doll for all, but they fail to see that many Filipinos are fair, highly discerning, less paranoid, more considerate, and smarter than they think. Rooting for political correctness and becoming hypocritical in the process, at the expense of truth, is not the way to bring peace in the world. It only adds up to the cumbersome double talk that we are too tired of hearing. In spite of our frailties, let us try to work together to build a more honest world. (Photo Credit: VanLuchi; CiudadanoPoeta)=0=