header image


This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

Interested in What I Create?


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

entry arrow11:00 PM | The Answer to Everything is Fried Rice

And now for some respite from the recent tumult.

Personally, that respite means fried rice.

I’ll explain.

If there is anything about the pandemic I’ve come to “love”—if love is even the right word for it but perhaps in a silver lining kind of way, it probably is—it is the fact that this norm-busting present has made Dumaguete a veritable food hub.

I’m simply astonished by the rapid growth of the food scene here, with restaurants, cafes, patisseries, and pop-ups seemingly appearing out of the blue, most of them flourishing in what should be very challenging times.

Not that the food scene didn’t suffer. Some of our favorite restaurants—Café Alima among my favorites is foremost in my mind—eventually closed down after trying hard to make it through, even with Food Panda and Grab Food as alternatives. Even franchises, like Harbour City, eventually closed. Some, like Persia, opened during the pandemic, promised to sate our hankering for Middle Eastern fare, but closed down soon after. Some, like Halang-Halang Szechuan Restaurant and Kimstaurant, closed immediately in the heels of lockdown, and never opened again. In their places are something else altogether: the former has now become a buffet restaurant, and the latter is now an e-sabong center. Some venues feel like dices in an endless game of to-be-or-not-to-be: Nom, the beloved restaurant at The Flying Fish Hostel, closed—and then became Sinati in 2021, which closed and then became Bamboo’s Bar & Grill later that year, which also closed. Now it’s Palmitas.

I can only imagine what led the proprietors of these places to come to that difficult decision of closing up shop. My friend Iris Armogenia who owned and managed Café Alima actually seemed happier after the fact: “It was a weight off my shoulders,” she would later tell me. “Now I’m happier just doing my art and being a painter.”

In the middle of 2021, feeling the pinch of a pandemic that did not seem to end, a group of local chefs and restaurateurs, led by Adamo’s Edison Monte de Ramos Manuel, formed a collective called Dug-ab, which tried to foster culinary events hoping to jumpstart the food scene once again. The hope was to reassure Dumagueteños that great food could still be had. And that their continued patronage was essential.

In the meantime, our collective seclusion for quarantine purposes began to lead to other things. Perhaps we could not stay idle for much too long, and so many of us found ourselves becoming plantitos and plantitas, among other things. Many of us also started cooking and baking—and then selling what we had in the relative safety of our front yards and sidewalks. Fruit and vegetable stands began sprouting all over Dumaguete—and satellite markets even began to flourish.

This is my explanation for the almost paradoxical renaissance of culinary culture in Dumaguete. We turned to cooking and baking to pass the relentless march of idle time, and finding out that we can actually monetize this newly-found passion probably led to this boomlet of food places. Plus, this is a given: people will always be hungry, and people will always want to eat, even, and especially during, a pandemic.

The new restaurants and cafes and pop-ups that we have now do cater to a wide variety of tastes and culinary preferences—and most of them seem to have no lack for patrons. Every Sunday, for example, we’ve been attempting for the past two years to try out every new eating place that has opened, and as of writing we have not yet come to the end of our list. It feels almost like an impossibility, running out of new places to try. Not all of them have been good—I prefer not mentioning these places in articles like these—but many have become a pleasant surprise.

There are, of course, the high-end new restaurants like Beyond Plants, Sakura, Unknwn Kitchen, Arbour, the restaurants at The Henry Resort, and franchises like Pancake House, among others. But the food phenomenon I love is of the pop-up variety.

They’re mostly DIY operations, with humble kitchens and serving areas [some of them are food trucks!]—but what they lack in polish and brick-and-mortar presence they make up for in creative flair and incredible food that will leave you hungry for more.

You want chicken curry Indian-style? Go to The 3 Idiots [now serving you along Don Diego de la Viña Road in Daro].

You want sandwiches overladen with barbecued meat? Go to Pan-Q Dumaguete [now serving you along Hibbard Avenue in Tubod, plus a new branch along Escaño Drive].

You want meat and vegan smoked burgers? Go to Smokes [now serving you along Flores Avenue outside of Hayahay].

You want coffee after a morning run? Go to Joe’s Kapehan [serving you most mornings along Rizal Avenue].

There are so many, many more like them.

A few nights ago, we finally tried out Mang Kaloy Fried Rice and Tejeros Ice Cream House, both along Escaño Drive. They’re basically housed, side by side, in makeshift roadside bamboo-and-wood shacks, but I love the bohemian feel of both. Their down-to-earth looks are very much part of the appeal, and I was even scared that eventual success might lead the proprietors to seek sleeker venues—and loss that original charm. [This has happened many times before with a few Dumaguete restaurants and cafés. They upscaled, and subsequently lost their erstwhile loyal patrons. But let’s not mention names.]

We didn’t even plan to have dinner at Escaño. We were merely passing by for a brief OBT before heading home—but the shacks captured our attention, and we found ourselves parking by the seaside and joined the small throng that jostled for seats.

Mang Kaloy, which opened only last January 2022, which had initial success selling various kinds of homemade hot sauces—our favorite is the manggang kalabaw— parlayed all that into something else entirely: selling a whole gamut of fried rice specials on their menu.

Wok-fried rice.

Who doesn’t like fried rice and its immediate evocation of comfort?

What a concept, which intrigues all the more for its utmost simplicity. And as the core of a business, it’s a product that’s fast to do, can be offered on the cheap, and can readily be transformed to something else pricier with extra toppings and certain specials. Their basic offerings include plain fried rice, chicken fried rice, and pork fried rice. From that base, it’s easy to go crazy with toppings.

For our initial meal, we had the wok-fried rice of two varieties: pork and chicken—complete with two toppings: deep-fried pork belly and Taiwanese popcorn chicken. It was delicious, and takes me back to Saturdays in childhood when mother would take what was left of rice from preceding mealtimes and transform them into a concoction thinly sliced meat and aromatic spices.

What we had was the kind of filling that leaves one completely sated, and happy. It was comfort. It was escape from all the troubles in the world—a temporary one, of course, but I’m here for it. If food is an answer to our contentious times, wok-fried rice gets star billing.

For dessert, we went next door to Tejeros. They opened their stand only last September 2021, although they’ve been selling ice cream on an order-only basis for the past ten years. We had their regular fare of sugar cones generously laden with mango and vanilla-with-chocolate-chips ice cream. A perfect ender to our fried rice dinner.

I love culinary delights, and I love discovering them. I hope though that these places last, and that they don’t change. At least not by much. They’ve given us much joy during the pandemic, and I’d like to see them bustling still in the post-pandemic future.

[This is a longer version of a previous post.]

Labels: , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Sunday, May 22, 2022

entry arrow3:25 PM | How the Pandemic Made Me Seek Help for My Mental Health

I was inspired by Danielle Gaston who made a video a few days ago [for her YouTube channel] about her coming to terms with her mental health. And since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it's important to join the conversation because one big challenge is overcoming the stigma surrounding it. So here is me being candid about things, hoping to encourage those who need it to seek help.

Labels: ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Friday, May 20, 2022

entry arrow11:33 AM | Say Yes to All That

It has been a few weeks since the last episode of Julia [the TV show about television chef and author Julia Child] aired. But this line, from her husband Paul, has stayed with me. It's from the last episode where we see Julia going through a great existential crisis triggered by an ungracious comment by Betty Friedan. I can’t get Paul's line out of my head, and I’ve even shared it with my s.o. since as my new battlecry. 

Sometimes we get distracted from the valuable work that we do because of flippant remarks we get, especially from unlikely sources. Sometimes there is an urge to just give up, perhaps in a bid for self-preservation. But no longer. I feel a change in me that is angrier but also more resolute. And to all these new, fantastic opportunities I used to shy away from? I say yes to all that. It will be a life.

Labels: ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

entry arrow1:00 PM | A Bibliography of Martial Law Literature in the Philippines [With Links]


I first compiled this list in 2016 to help counter the notion put forth by Duterte that “there were no books or films about the Martial Law.” Exactly six years later [sigh], I’ve decided to update this — complete with [legitimate] links to most of the books, films, and music listed. In doing this though, I’ve discovered this sad truth: most of the items here are [1] out of print, [2] hard to find [even the movies!], and [3] being sold at sometimes extravagant prices by third-party sellers, no wonder we’re not helping in countering the disinformation. Even the most avid researcher will find it hard to get their hands on these. There’s also not a lot that would be considered “pop literature,” pang-masa. This is a challenge for authors, publishers, and distributors.

All items arranged alphabetically according to authors’ surnames. All links lead to legitimate publishers’ and/or retailers’ sites. If I have missed out on a title, please email me at icasocot@gmail.com.


Salingkit: A 1986 Diary by Cyan Abad-Jugo
Mga Kaluluwa Sa Kumunoy by Efren R. Abueg
Dangadang by Aurelio Solver Agcaoili
I See Red in a Circle by Ceres S.C. Alabado
Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol
Gun Dealer’s Daughter by Gina Apostol
Canal de la Reina by Liwayway A. Arceo
Canal de la Reina: English Translation by Liwayway Arceo and translated by Soledad S. Reyes
Bata, Bata … Paano Ka Ginawa? by Lualhati Bautista
Dekada ’70 by Lualhati Bautista
Desaparesidos by Lualhati Bautista
Fish-Hair Woman by Merlinda Bobis
Colon by Rogelio Braga
Satanas sa Lupa by Celso Al. Carunungan
Eating Fire and Drinking Water by Arlene J. Chai
The Last Time I Saw Mother by Arlene J. Chai
Killing Time in a Warm Place by Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.
Ano Ngayon, Ricky? by Rosario de Guzman-Lingat
Kung Wala na ang Tag-araw by Rosario de Guzman-Lingat
The Activist by Antonio Enriquez
Gera by Ruth Firmeza
Empire of Memory by Eric Gamalinda
Ficcion by Edel Garcellano
Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn
Dream Jungle by Jessica Hagedorn
Cave and Shadows by Nick Joaquín
Mass by F. Sionil Jose
Mata ng Apoy by Domingo G. Landicho
Ka Gaby, Nom de Guerre by Paulino Lim Jr.
Sparrows Don’t Sing in the Philippines by Paulino Lim Jr.
Requiem for a Rebel Priest by Paulino Lim Jr.
Tiger Orchids of Mt. Mayon by Paulino Lim Jr.
Rolling the R’s by R. Zamora Linmark
Walo at Kalahating Dekada ng Isang Buhay by Genoveva Edroza Matute
The Betrayed by Reine Arcache Melvin
The Secrets of the Seven Mansions by Mario Miclat
Ugma Puhon, Junjun by Melchor M. Morante
Baby Jesus Pawn Shop by Lucia Orth
The Umbrella Country by Bino S. Realuyo
Riverrun by Danton Remoto
Armando by Jun Cruz Reyes
Tutubi Tutubi Wag Kang Magpahuli sa Mamang Salbahe by Jun Cruz Reyes
State of War by Ninotchka Rosca
Twice Blessed by Ninotchka Rosca  
The Alien Corn by Edith L. Tiempo
The Jupiter Effect by Katrina Tuvera
Awaiting Trespass by Linda Ty-Casper
Dream Eden by Linda Ty-Casper
Fortress in the Plaza by Linda Ty-Casper
A Small Garden Party by Linda Ty-Casper
Bamboo in the Wind by Azucena Grajo Uranza
The Great Philippine Jungle Energy Cafe by Alfred Yuson


The Magic Arrow by Bolet Banal and Korinne Banal
Brocka: The Filmmaker Without Fear by Jose T. Gamboa
Edjop: A Child of the Storm by Ed Maranan and Ariel Santillan
The Pangat, the Mountains, and the River by Luz Maranan and Ariel Santillan
A Voice in a Time of Darkness (The Songs of Susan Fernandez-Magno) by Luchie Maranan and Shan Maurice Jose
EDSA by Russell Molina and Sergio Bumatay III
Ito ang Diktadura by Equipo Plantel and Mikel Casal
Isang Harding Papel by Augie Rivera and Rommel Joson
Si Jhun-Jhun, Noong Bago Ideklara ang Batas Militar by Augie Rivera and Brian Vallesteros
A Life With the Poor by Didith Tan Rodrigo and Mheri-Anne Andes
At the School Gate by Sandra Nicole Roldan and Nina Martinez
Bertdey ni Guido by Rene O. Villanueva and John Crisostomo


Why Cage Pigeons? by Mila Aguilar
“Liham sa Kaarawan ni Pinang” by Tomas F. Agulto
“Doktrinang Anakpawis” by Rio Alma
“The Bells Count in Our Blood” by Merlie Alunan
Hagkis ng Talahib by Lamberto Antonio
“Dead Weight: In Memoriam” by Cirilo Bautista
“For Emmanuel” by Luis Cabalquinto
“Young Rebels” by Luis Cabalquinto
“Etiopia Idiay Negros, Ngem Saan a Negros Iti Etiopia” by Peter La. Julian
“Pagdiriwang” by Emmanuel Lacaba
“The People’s Warrior” by Emmanuel Lacaba
“An Open Letter to Filipino Artists” by Emmanuel Lacaba
[Note: Emmanuel Lacaba’s poems are collected in Salvaged Poems]
“Prometheus Unbound” by Pete Lacaba [as Ruben Cuevas]
“Santong Paspasan” by Pete Lacaba
[Note: Pete Lacaba’s poems are collected in Mga Kagilagilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran]
“Paglilimi ng Isang Empleyado sa Gobyerno” by Loreta M. Medina
Clearing: Poems of People’s Struggles in Northern Luzon by Jason Montana
“Brave Woman” by Grace R. Monte de Ramos
“Paghiwagas sa Bilangoan” by Don Pagusara
“Kuwarenta” by Benjamin Pimentel
“The Story I Would Have Wanted to Tell You Had I Met You Yesterday” by Lina Sagaral Reyes
“A Survivor Talks to Her Ghost-Husband” by Lina Sagaral Reyes
“Sister Home for the Weekend” by Patria Rivera
Versus: Philippine Protest Poetry, 1983–1986 edited by Alfrredo Navarro Salanga [Note: poems from this anthology are not listed here]
“Tumatayog, Lumalawak ang mga Bilding at Resort” by Romulo Sandoval
“Sa Ala-ala ni Sister Bernard Tahimik na Tagapaglingkod ng mga Detenidong Pulitikal” by Isagani R. Serrano
“List(ing) Poem: Towards the New Filipino Society” by Eileen Tabios
“My City of Baguio” by Eileen Tabios
“The Rebel’s Son” by Eileen Tabios
“What Can A Daughter Say?” by Eileen Tabios


Underground Spirit: Philippine Short Stories in English, 1973 to 1989: Volume I 1973 to 1982 edited by Gémino H. Abad
Underground Spirit: Philippine Short Stories in English, 1973 to 1989: Volume II 1983 to 1989 edited by Gémino H. Abad
“Pugante” by Bayani Z. Abadilla
“Daluyong sa llaya” by Efren Abueg
“The Red Wagon” by Estrella D. Alfon
“In the Country” by Mia Alvar
“A Tall Woman from Leyte” by Gina Apostol
“A Tale of Two Diaries” by Cesar Ruiz Aquino
“A Taste for the Fine Whiskey of the Bourgeoisie” by Gregorio Brillantes
“You Got It All” by Ian Rosales Casocot
“Mga Lamat sa Moog” by Danilo A. Consumido
“Amnesty” by Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.
“In the Garden” by Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.
Bukal ng Tubig at Apoy by Levy Balgos dela Cruz
“Paalam sa Buwan” by Levy Balgos dela Cruz
“A Theory of Relatives” by Daryll Jane Delgado
“Fallout” by Maria L.M. Fres-Felix
“Mading and Pepito” by Allen Gaborro
“Alamat ng Sapang Bato” by Fanny A. Garcia
“Red Roses for Rebo” by Amadís Ma. Guerrero
“Sino Man Sa Atin: Kwentong-Kambal ng Magkahilerang Kamalayan” by Chi Balmaceda Gutierrez
“Ang Pagdating ni Elias Plaridel” by Ave Perez Jacob
“Dugo sa Kanyang Pagsilang” by Domingo S. Landico  
Sigwa: Isang Antolohiya ng Maiikling Kuwento edited by Maria Milagros Carreon Laurel
“Kabilang sa mga Nawawala” by Ricky Lee
“Si Tatang, Si Tandang Senyong, Si Freddie at Iba Pang Tauhan ng Aking Kuwento” by Ricky Lee
“Tipaklong, Tipaklong, Bakit Bulkang Sumabog ang Dibdib ni Quintin Balajadia?” by Alfonso S. Mendoza
“Sulat Mula sa Pritil” by Norma O. Miraflor
“A Sickness in the Towns” by Resil B. Mojares
“Isang Araw sa Buhay ni Juan Lazaro” by Jose Rey Munsayac
“Back of the March” by Denis Murphy
“The Execution” by Charlson Ong
“Syeyring” by Jun Cruz Reyes
“Utos ng Hari” by Jun Cruz Reyes
“Langit-Langitang Kumunoy” by Victor Antonio Reyes
“At The School Gate” by Sandra Nicole Roldan
“The Safe House” by Sandra Nicole Roldan
Bitter Country and Other Stories by Ninotchka Rosca
“Generations” by Ninotchka Rosca
“The Southern Seas” by Ninotchka Rosca
“Insurrecto” by Joel Pablo Salud
“Good Intentions 101: SY ‘72-‘73” by Menchu Aquino Sarmiento
“Negros” by Eileen R. Tabios
“Force Majeure” by Eileen Tabios
“The Man in a White Suit” by Eileen Tabios
“Pork” by Eileen Tabios
“Redeeming Memory” by Eileen Tabios
“The Bridge” by Yvette Tan
“Maria, Ang Iyong Anak” by Wilfredo Pa. Virtucio
“Ang Suhito” by Januar Yap


“The Millennial’s Guide to Martial Law” by Mike Alcarazen
Raping Sugarlandby Ian Rosales Casocot
Ten Songs That Remind Us of the Martial Law Yearsby Frank Cimatu
Martial Law in Three Filipino Novels by Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.
“A Wedding, A Divorce, A Profession and Two Funerals” by Karl M. Gaspar
“From Yeh Yeh to Go Go” by Nick Joaquin [as Quijano de Manila]
“Once Upon a Time in Manila” by Alfredo P. Hernandez
Against the Dying of the Light: The Filipino Writer and Martial Lawby Ed Maranan
Postscript: My Life Before and After the First Quarter Storm by Ed Maranan
Earth, Fire, and Air: Essays of a Decade by Sylvia L. Mayuga
Spy In My Own Country by Sylvia L. Mayuga
The Marcos-Era Resistance Poem that Smuggled a Hidden Message into State Mediaby Paolo Enrico Melendez
The Marcos Restoration: 30 Years in the Makingby Manuel L. Quezon III
Sa Loobby Sandra Nicole Roldan
“Of Feelings, Pain, and Ordeal” by Gene M. Romero and Nikko Zapanta


Martial Law Babies: A Graphic Novel by Arnold Arre
12:01 by Russell Molina and Kajo Baldisimo


Bonsai by Reuel Molina Aguila
Ligalig by Reuel Molina Aguila
Maliw by Reuel Molina Aguila
Satirika by Reuel Molina Aguila
Esprit de Corps by Auraeus Solito
So Sanggibo A Ranon Na Piyatay O Satiman A Tadman by Rogelio Braga
Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim
Pambansang Bayan by Bon Ilagan
Ang Panunuluyan ng Birheng Maria at San Jose Sa Cubao, Ayala, Plazamiranda Atbp., Sa Loob at Labas ng Metro Manila by Alan Glinoga, Al Santos, and Rody Vera
Anatomiya ng Korupsyon by Malou Leviste Jacob
Juan Tamban by Malou Leviste Jacob
Macli-ing by Malou Leviste Jacob
Isang Makabagong Pantomina Sa Tawi-Tawi, Cotabato At Iba Pang Pulo by Anton Juan Jr.
Ang Kagila-Gilalas Na Pakikipagsapalaran Ni Juan De La Cruz by Emmanuel Lacaba
Ang Panahon ni Cristy by Ed Maranan
Buwan at Baril in Eb Major by Chris Millado
Batang PRO by Bienvenido Noriega Jr.
Bongbong at Kris by Bienvenido Noriega Jr.
Sinalimba by Don Pagusara and Fe Remotigue
Bombita by Tony Perez
Isang Araw sa Karnabal by Nicolas Pichay
Alipato by Nonilon Queaño
Ang Sistema ni Propesor Tuko by Al Santos
Oratoryo Ng Bayan (People’s Oratorio) by Rody Vera and Allan Glinoga
Burles by Rene O. Villanueva
Kaaway sa Sulod by Rene O. Villanueva
May Isang Sundalo by Rene O. Villanueva
Sigwa by Rene O. Villanueva
Kaaway sa Sulod by Rene O. Villanueva and Rolando S. de la Cruz


Mondo Marcos: Writings on Martial Law and the Marcos Babies edited by Frank Cimatu and Roland B. Tolentino
Mondo Marcos: Mga Panulat sa Batas Militar at ng Marcos Babies edited by Frank Cimatu and Roland B. Tolentino
In Memoriam edited by the Philippine Literary Arts Council (PLAC)
The Politics of Culture: The Philippine Experience edited and introduced by Nicanor Tiongson
Kamao: Panitikan ng Protesta 1970–1986 edited by Alfrredo Navarro Salangga, Lilia Quindoza-Santigao, Reuel Molina Aguilar, and Herminio S. Beltran Jr.
STR: Sa Tagumpay ng Rebolusyon: Mga Tula Mula sa Kanayunan (no editor indicated)


Masdan Mo ang Kapaligiranby Asin
Ibong Malaya: Songs of Freedom and Struggle from Philippine Prisons by the Resource Center for Philippine Concerns


Pureza: The Story of Negros Sugar by Jay Abello
Tandaan, Kalayaan, Alagan Video Series by Arnold Arre and Gang Badoy
    “Sunken Garden
Manila by Night by Ishmael Bernal
Betamax ‘83 by Marcial Bonifacio
Insiang by Lino Brocka
Kapit sa Patalim by Lino Brocka
Manila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag by Lino Brocka
Orapronobis by Lino Brocka
Portraits of Mosquito Press by Jl Burgos
Sakada by Behn Cervantes
Our Voices, Our Redemption by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
The Palimbang Massacre by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
So Why Samar? by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
Tortyur sa Ilalim ng Martial Law by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
Martial Law: 40 Years Later—The Seventies: Repression and Resistance by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and the United Nations Development Programme
Iginuhit ng Tadhana by Conrado Conde, Jose De Villa, and Mar S. Torres
Sa Gitna ng Lungsod by Ivan Cortez
Dahling Nick by Sari Dalena
Ka Oryang by Sari Dalena
The Guerrilla is a Poet by Sari Dalena and Kiri Dalena
History of the Underground by Sari Dalena and Keith Sicat
Batch ’81 by Mike de Leon
Citizen Jake by Mike de Leon
Kangkungan: A Video by Mike de Leon
Kisapmata by Mike de Leon
Sister Stella L. by Mike de Leon
Signos by Mike de Leon
Oliver by Nick Deocampo
Revolutions Happen Like Refrains in a Song by Nick Deocampo
Batang West Side by Lav Diaz
Ebolusyon ng Pamilyang Filipino by Lav Diaz 
Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon by Lav Diaz
Ang Panahon ng Halimaw by Lav Diaz
Imelda by Ramona Diaz
Moral by Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Daluyong: Political Filmmaking in a Period of Social Unrest Redux by EngageMedia
Batas Militar by the Foundation for Worldwide People Power
Scorpio Nights by Peque Gallaga
The Kingmaker by Lauren Greenfield
To Sing Our Own Song by Anthony Isaacs
People Power Part 1 by Kasaysayan TV
People Power Part 2 by Kasaysayan TV
Bakit May Kahapon Pa? by Joel Lamangan
Dukot by Joel Lamangan
Lihis by Joel Lamangan
Sigwa by Joel Lamangan
Barber’s Tales by Jun Lana
Bukas Na Lang Sapagkat Gabi Na by Jet Leyco
Forbidden Memory by Gutierrez Mangansakan II
A Dangerous Life by Robert Markowitz
ML by Benedict Mique
EDSA 2000: Landas ng Pagbabago by Maria V. Montelibano
Respeto by Treb Monteras II
Liway by Kip Oebanda
Lest We Forget: Victims of Martial Law by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Marcos: A Malignant Spirit by Rolly Reyes
History with Lourd: Martial Law by R.A. Rivera
Dekada ’70 by Chito Roño
Eskapo by Chito Roño
Aparisyon by Isabel Sandoval
Bobby de la Paz by Al Santos
Coup D’Etat: The Philippines Revolt by Geoff Satchell
The Imelda Tapes by Jonathan Jared Saupe
Der lachende Stern [The Laughing Star] by Werner Schroeter
Ang Kagat ng Mosquito Press [i-Witness] by Howie Severino
Esprit de Corps by Auraeus Solito [as Kanakan Balintagos]
Pisay by Auraeus Solito 
Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari? by Kidlat Tahimik
The Arrogance of Power by Lito Tiongson
(Which) People, (What) Power? by TrueID
A Rustling of Leaves: Inside the Philippine Revolution by Nettie Wild
In Search of the Marcos' Millions by Judy Woodruff, WGBH Educational Foundation, and PBS Video
Mga Anino ng Kahapon by Alvin B. Yapan
Ang Tulay ng San Sebastian by Alvin B. Yapan
People Power by Ilan Ziv


“A Garrison State in the Make” by Benigno S. Aquino Jr.
A Nation for Our Childrenby Jose W. Diokno


Testament from a Prison Cell by Benigno S. Aquino Jr.
Recollections by Thelma M. Arceo 
The Odyssey of Lorenzo M. Tañada by Agnes G. Bailen
Seven in the Eye of History edited by Asuncion David-Maramba
Six Modern Filipino Heroes edited by Asuncion David-Maramba
Six Young Filipino Martyrs edited by Asuncion David-Maramba
Macli-ing Dulag: Kalinga Chief: Defender of the Cordillera by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Project Sea Hawk: The Barbed Wire Journal by Dolores S. Feria
America’s Boy: A Century of United States Colonialism in the Philippines by James Hamilton-Paterson
How Long? Prison Reflections of Karl Gaspar edited by Helen Graham and MM and Breda Noonan
A Political Journey by Eva Estrada Kalaw
Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage by Pete Lacaba
Of Tyrants and Martyrs: A Political Memoir by Manuel C. Lahoz
Full Quarter Storms: Memoirs and Writings on the Philippine Left (1970–2010) by Ceasar ‘Sonny’ Melencio
Ascending the Fourth Mountain: A Personal Account of the Marcos Years by Maria Virginia Yap Morales
“In Memoriam” by Yolanda Palis
Martial Law in the Philippines: My Story by Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr.
U.G., An Underground Tale: The Journey of Edgar Jopson and the First Quarter Storm Generation by Benjamin Pimentel Jr.
A Thousand Little Deaths: Growing Up Under Martial Law in the Philippines by Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein
A Country Not Even His Own by Steve Psinakis
Two “Terrorists” Meet by Steve Psinakis
Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years by Susan F. Quimpo, Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, Et Al
Diary of a Dictator — Ferdinand and Imelda: The Last Days of Camelot by William C. Rempel
A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Jovito R. Salonga
Inside the Mass Movement: A Political Memoir by Raul E. Segovia 
Whose Side Are We On? Memoirs of a PMAer by Dante C. Simbulan
Armando J. Malay: A Guardian of Memory — The Life and Times of a Filipino Journalist and Activist by Marites N. Sison
A Doorbell, A Dictator, A Dad by Mitos Suson
Shards of Time by Mitos Suson


Politics of Plunder: The Philippines Under Marcos by Belinda Aquino
Turning Rage into Courage: Mindanao Under the Martial Law edited by Carolyn Arguillas
Political Detainees of the Philippines by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines
Development Debacle: The World Bank in the Philippines by Walden Bello
Waltzing With a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy by Raymond Bonner
The Political Economy of Growth and Impoverishment in the Marcos Era by James Boyce
The Political Economy of External Indebtedness: A Case Study of the Philippines by James K. Boyce
Dictatorship & Martial Law: Philippine Authoritarianism in 1972 by Alex B. Brillantes
Impossible Dream: The Marcoses, the Aquinos, and the Unfinished Revolution by Sandra Burton
The Counterfeit Revolution: Martial Law in the Philippines by Reuben R. Canoy
Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism by Albert F. Celoza
Nation, Self and Citizenship: An Invitation to Philippine Sociology by Randolf S. David
Dictatorship and Revolution: Roots of People Power edited by Aurora-Javate de Dios, Petronilo BN Danoy and Lorna Kalaw-Tirol
An Analysis of the Philippine Economic Crisis edited by Emmanuel S. De Dios
Women Against Marcos: Stories of Filipino and Filipino American Women Who Fought a Dictator by Mila de Guzman
Dead Aim: How Marcos Ambushed Philippine Democracy by Conrado de Quiros
A Nation for Our Children: Human Rights, Nationalism, Sovereignty by Jose W. Diokno
How Democracy was Lost: A Political Diary of the 1971-1972 Constitutional Convention by Augusto Caesar Espiritu
Dateline Manila by Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines
Thirty Years Later...: Catching Up with the Marcos-Era Crimes by Myles A. Garcia
To Suffer Thy Comrades: How the Revolution Decimated Its Own by Robert Francis B. Garcia
Memory, Truth-telling, and the Pursuit of Justice: A Conference on the Legacies of the Marcos Dictatorship by Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute
Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino by Amado Guerrero
Die Philippinen unter dem Kriegsrecht [The Philippines Under Martial Law] by Hendrik Kramer Haus
In the Name of Civil Society: From Free Election Movements to People Power in the Philippines by Eva-Lotta E. Hedman
Edifice Complex: Reportage on the Marcoses by Nick Joaquin [as Quijano de Manila]
In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow
Magsasaka: Ang Bayaning Di-Kilala edited by the Kilusan sa Paglilinang ng Rebolusyonaryong Panitikan at Sining sa Kanayuhan
Edifice Complex: Power, Myth, and the Marcos State Architecture by Gerard Lico
Tibak Rising: Activism in the Days of Martial Law edited by Ferdinand C. Llanes
Serve the People: Ang Kasaysayan ng Radikal na Kilusan sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas edited by Bienvenido L. Lumbera
Not on our Watch: Martial Law Really Happened — We Were There edited by Jo-Ann Q. Maglipon
Some are Smarter than Others: The History of Marcos’ Crony Capitalism by Ricardo Manapat
A Pen for Democracy by Raul S Manglapus
Remembering/Rethinking EDSA edited by JPaul S. Manzanilla and Caroline S. Hau
The Democratic Revolution in the Philippines by Ferdinand E. Marcos
Notes on the New Society of the Philippines by Ferdinand E. Marcos [THE FILIPINO MEIN KAMPF!]
Aquino vs. Marcos: The Grand Collision by Manuel F. Martinez
More Assassinations and Conspiracies by Manuel F. Martinez
Policing America's Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State by Alfred W. McCoy
The Marcos File: Was He a Philippine Hero or Corrupt Tyrant? by Charles C. Mcdougald
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in the Philippines: Lessons from a White Elephant Project by Ronald U. Mendoza, Yla Gloria Marie P. Paras, and Donald Jay Bertulfo
The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos by Primitivo Mijares
Living and Dying: In Memory of 11 Ateneo de Manila Martial Law Activists by Cristina Jayme Montiel
Down from the Hill: Ateneo de Manila in the First Ten Years of Martial Law by Cristina Jayme T. Montiel and Susan Evangelista
The Philippine Press: Under Siege by National Press Club
Musika at Bagong Lipunan: Pagbuo ng Lipunang Filipino, 1972–1986 by Raul C. Navarro
Ang Mamatay Nang Dahil sa ‘Yo: Heroes and Martyrs of the Filipino People in the Struggle Against the Dictatorship, 1972–1986 by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation
Seeds of Injustice: Reflections on the Murder Frame Up of the Negros Nine in the Philippines: From The Prison Diary Of Niall O’Brien by Niall O’Brien
A Capital City at the Margins: Quezon City and Urbanization in the Twentieth-Century Philippines by Michael D. Pante
The Rise and Fall of Imelda Marcos by Carmen Navarro Pedrosa
Alternative Histories: Martial Law Novels as Counter-Memory by Ruth Jordana Luna Pison
Contested Democracy and the Left in the Philippines After Marcos by Nathan Gilbert Quimpo
Delusions of a Dictator: The Mind of Marcos as Revealed in his Secret Diaries by William C. Rempel
Marcos Martial Law: Never Again by Raissa Robles
Breaking Through: The Struggle Within the Communist Party of the Philippines by Joel M. Rocamora
The Marcos Regime: Rape of the Nation by Filemon C. Rodriguez
Inside the Palace: The Rise and Fall of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos by Beth Day Romulo
Endgame: The Fall of Marcos by Ninotchka Rosca  
Marcos' Lovey Dovie by Hermie Rotea
Presidential Plunder: The Quest for the Marcos Ill-Gotten Wealth by Jovito R. Salonga
Filipino Poetry and Martial Law 1970-1987: Clenched Fists and Yellow Ribbons by Lilia Quindoza Santiago
Militant but Groovy: Stories from the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan edited by Soliman M. Santos Jr. and Paz Verdades M. Santos
The Philippines Reader: A History of Colonialism, Neocolonialism, Dictatorship, and Resistance edited by Daniel B. Schirmer
The Marcos Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave
Worth Dying For by Lewis M. Simons
Struggle for National Democracy by Jose Ma. Sison
Philippine Politics and the Marcos Technocrats: The Emergence and Evolution of a Power Elite by Teresa S. Tadem
Fantasy-Production: Sexual Economies and Other Philippine Consequences for the New World Order by Neferti Xina Tadiar 
Pumipiglas: Political Detention and Military Atrocities in the Philippines, 1981-1982 by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
The Anti-Marcos Struggle: Personalistic Rule and Democratic Transition in the Philippines by Mark R. Thompson
O, Susana!: Untold Stories of Martial Law in Davao edited by Macario Tiu
Socdem: Filipino Social Democracy in a Time of Turmoil and Transition, 1965-1995 edited by Benjamin T. Tolosa
Two Women as Specters of History: Lakambini and Indigo Child by Rody Vera
Living and Dying: In Memory of 11 Ateneo de Manila Martial Law Activists by Geraldine C. Villaluz
Martial Law Diary and Other Papers by Danilo P. Vizmanos
Through the Eye of the Storm: Random Notes by Danilo P. Vizmanos
Militarism and Repression in the Philippines by Jim Zwick


Habilin: The Light in Each of Us by the Martial Law Museum

Labels: , , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

entry arrow8:46 AM | Rest

Only now am I recognizing the value of rest. I make myself take Mondays and Tuesdays off; they’re my weekends now since I know my Saturdays and Sundays are filled to the brim with people and activities. This means devoting myself to seclusion, to being totally by myself, enough to sustain the easily bruised introvert within. Usually by Wednesday, I find myself with renewed energy, with plenty of ideas brewing. Given how I throw myself like a maniac on projects, I was recently and terribly burnt out by a decade of nonstop work — no sabbatical! — exacerbated by the wildness of the pandemic. I didn’t believe in rest, pre-pandemic. Now I know that the only way to be more productive, and to be more helpful to other people, is to find ways to help oneself first and foremost. [This also means learning to be blunt about expectations, but that’s another story.]

Labels: ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Thursday, May 12, 2022

entry arrow3:18 AM | Complicit

Many of us were complicit, perhaps without our knowing it, in the grand project of perfuming the reputation of the Marcoses after they were allowed to come back to the country. They played the long game, insinuating themselves into the public's consciousness, slowly crafting a story of redemption that would have eventual fruition years and years later. What a fantastic gameplan, and we were hoodwinked!

Case in point: this 23 April 2003 issue of Flip Magazine, a publication edited by novelist Jessica Zafra. This was 19 years ago, around the time [according to a report by The Washington Post] that the Marcoses laid the grand plan on how they could stage a comeback, which would involve winning the hearts and souls of Filipinos through media, and revising history in the process.

Adam David shared this photo on Instagram yesterday. In that same post, Jessica gave this response: “That was a mistake. We thought we could do profiles of people who by all rights should be tearing each other’s throats out, but were actually cordial [at least in public] and were all in Congress at the same time, sometimes on the same side of an issue. If you read Roby Alampay’s interview with Imee Marcos you will see that it is a real interview in which he asks her questions which society magazines do not touch. About the time her mother’s plane had left Rome airport and she had it turn around because she forgot to buy cheese. (She confirmed it). And her mother’s shopping sprees and enormous entourage. (So cool, she said.) Her human rights cases, the abuses of power. She answered everything. The piece is heavy on irony, and she knew it and participated anyway. The funny haha cover is a terrible mistake. As editor my mistake was in treating her like a regular human being. Lourd de Veyra did the interview with Satur Ocampo. I did the interview with my former publisher and mentor, who at the time was closer to me than my parents. I ended our friendship in 2016, in the last column I ever wrote. Flip Magazine died shortly afterwards, not that it’s any consolation.

The soft onslaught continued over the years, with all kinds of magazines and TV shows featuring many “gilded age stories [of the] Marcoses,
” as CNN Philippines’ Don Jaucian observed. We swooned over Borgy Manotoc as a heartthrob. We marveled at Imees Philippine Tatler cover. We giggled over Imelda’s cameo in the film Mariquina. We were subconsciously taught to “move on” when Kris Aquino interviewed Bongbong on TV in 1995 — because if Kris could move on, why couldn’t we? Most. Likely. All. Part. Of. The. Game. Plan. We allowed this for almost 20 years or even more, thinking it was all harmless. Now it has bitten us in the ass: we learn too late that soft power is tremendous power — and lifestyle sections of newspapers are never not political. Their ruthless effectiveness lies in the sheen of their being seemingly benign. The Marcoses already knew this at the height of their powers in the two decades of their rule — they used the arts to perfume their stench, and even until now we have apologists who use these totems of cultural patronage as signs of a “golden age.”

Jessica Zafra’s admission — that her mistake was in treating [a member of the Marcos family] “like a regular human being” — is telling. This, I think, was the heart of the gameplan. To turn their story around as the poster children of massive thievery [according to the Guinness Book of World Records] to that of being regular human beings, just like you and me, who also hurt, who also make mistakes, and who implore you to not treat them like the shadows of their ancestors. [Bongbong’s recent words.] But they are not regular human beings. They have billions [of our money] at their disposal to finance a long game to hoodwink us. The redemption story they want you to buy has been cleverly baked for you, with all of our help [knowingly or unknowingly] — and you ate it up.

Many of us are so ready to blame the masa for being 
“bobo” for voting the way they did this year. But, as Biboy S. Hernandez would like to remind us, the elites were the first to welcome them home, and the middle class fawned all over them. It’s so easy to be complicit pala, we realize too late. 

We allowed 2022 to happen a long time ago.

Labels: , , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

entry arrow9:58 PM | Wok-Fried Rice and Ice Cream

If there is anything about the pandemic I've come to "love," it is the fact that it has made Dumaguete a veritable food hub. I'm simply astonished by the rapid growth of the food scene here, with restaurants, cafes, patisseries, and pop-ups suddenly appearing out of the blue, most of them flourishing in what should be very challenging times. They cater to a wide variety of taste and culinary preferences — and most of them seem to have no lack for patrons. Every Sunday, we've been attempting for the past two years to try every new eating place, and until now we have not yet come to the end of our list. There are, of course, the high-end new restaurants like Beyond Plants, Unknwn Kitchen, Arbour, and the restaurants in The Henry Resort, among others — but the food phenomenon I love here is of the pop-up variety. They're mostly DIY operations, with humble kitchens and serving areas [some of them are food trucks!] -- but what they lack in polish and brick-and-mortar presence they make up in creative flair and incredible food that will leave you hungry for more. You want chicken curry Indian-style? Go to The 3 Idiots. You want sandwiches overladen with barbecued meat? Go to Pan-Q Dumaguete. You want meat and vegan smoked burgers? Go to Smokes. You want coffee after a morning run? Go to Joe’s Kapehan. There are so many, many more like them.

Tonight, we tried out Mang Kaloy Fried Rice and Tejeros Ice Cream House, both along Escaño Drive. They're basically housed in roadside bamboo-and-wood shacks, but I love the bohemian feel of both. Their down-to-earth looks are part of the appeal. For dinner, we went to Mang Kaloy [which opened January 2022] where we had the wok-fried rice of two varieties: pork and chicken — with two toppings: deep-fried pork belly and Taiwanese popcorn chicken. It was delicious: the kind of filling that leaves you sated. For dessert, we went next door to Tejeros [which opened September 2021 — although they've been selling ice cream on an order-only basis for the past ten years] where we had their regular fare of sugar cones generously laden with mango and vanilla-with-chocolate-chips ice cream.

It has been a night of such culinary delight. I hope these places last, and don't change. They've given us much joy during the pandemic, and I'd like to see them bustling still in the post-pandemic future.

The wok-fried rice plus toppings at Mang Kaloy's Fried Rice.

Mang Kaloy at the wok.

Getting the ice cream ready at Tejeros Ice Cream House.

Tejeros Ice Cream House along Escaño Drive.

Labels: , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

entry arrow7:09 PM | Dread in Dumaguete

Dumaguete feels like a town wallowing in dread. Or if not that, a city with no one smiling. There is a heaviness in the air I cannot begin to describe. No proverbial dancing in the streets the way it had been in 2016 — even when my heart broke then, I knew many people were happy. Everywhere I go, I get stopped by friends and acquaintances who tell me they’re sad. I thought I was projecting, and paid no mind — but even my friend the visual artist Hersley-Ven Casero, who has been by choice apolitical, captured this feeling today. Hersley is the one person I know who has an intuitive connection to the air, to the spirits that engulf us. He is currently traveling, and at the Dumaguete airport, he posted something on his FB: “Mao ni first time namu mo-travel karon by plane since last time sa pre-pandemic… Naa gyud kausbanan. Mingaw og lahi kaayo ang feeling. Di pa nako masabtan ang akong gibati. Pero, basun moabot ra ang adlaw nga mahibal-an na nako unsaon pagdescribe sa feeling. Basta mura’g mingaw sya.”

It’s despair. It’s probably collective dread. It’s probably buyer’s remorse for those who suddenly realised what their vote has done.

“Maanad ra nya ko ani…,” Hersley finally added. I agree with him. We will get used to smelling the stillborn air, but I know I will resist till I and everyone else can smell the fresh air of good governance.

Labels: , , , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

entry arrow8:30 PM | Bandaid

There are only temporary bandaids for the grief we feel.

But I made myself believe I’d be okay regardless of how the election turned out. What mattered most, I told myself in that lofty tone of taking the high road, was taking a stand and being in the right side of history.

I did not worry. I woke up early on Election Day, and by 5:30 AM, I was on my way to Amador Dagudag Elementary School to cast my vote, hoping to beat the crowd by coming early. True enough, the school was only beginning to stir. And when I found my precinct—after temporarily being befuddled by the new cluster system COMELEC apparently just enforced—I found myself being the fifth in line to vote. The classroom was small, the chair I was made to sit in even smaller. It was a discomfort I was more than willing to take in, all for the sacred right of doing my civic duty. With the marking pen in hand, I stared at my ballot with trepidation.

For the first time in all my years of voting, I actually prayed. This was how crucial I felt this election was about. It was a fight for the fate of a beloved nation. And at the back of my head, a shrill alarm sounded: I could not take six more years of the same. That will be a total of twelve years. I cannot have more than a decade of commiseration—I simply cannot do it again.

I had never shaded a ballot so carefully in my life. Every circle was like a fragile thing.

When the machine finally accepted my ballot, and when I finally checked my receipt—the moment felt like a triumph. Before exiting, I asked the teachers on duty: “You know about Amador Dagudag, the man your school is named after, right?”

“No, sir.”

I told them that Amador ‘Amading’ Delfin Dagudag was a public school teacher and hero. He was born in 1922 in Pontevedra, Capiz, but later moved to Dumaguete, graduated in 1949 from Silliman University, and eventually became a science teacher. He died at the age of 45, and is known for his heroic act in protecting the ballots during the 1967 Senate election, which claimed his life. Lo-oc Elementary School, established in 1927, which was later called East City Elementary School, was renamed the Amador Dagudag Memorial Elementary School in 1969 in his honor.

“In the name of Amador Dagudad, thank you for your service this election season,” I said.

I hoped that made them feel at least heroic.

But I was happy to be done with voting in less than 10 minutes.

Later on, as I exited the school, I felt the first instance of panic setting in: I surrendered my voting receipt to a cardboard receptacle. That seemed weird. Didn’t we always drop our ballot receipts into metallic boxes with padlocks? This felt like an anomaly. Later on, I was assured by friends that it was perfectly fine. [In hindsight, was it?]

After a post-voting breakfast that Monday morning, I made my way home to catch up on lost sleep—and woke up in the late afternoon to panic on social media. Slowly, the anxiety dug deep, and even if I purposefully logged out of social media to stem the incoming grief, the need to know was stronger. I kept logging on and logging off Twitter and Facebook. It felt like digging one's own grave.

What was it that made this election season extra painful?

The return of Sauron, most of all.

Also perhaps the knowledge that so many young people, most of them first time voters, have had their hearts so thoroughly broken yesterday. Will they still believe in democratic elections when the system is so corrupted and rigged, there was no contest at all right from the very start? Will they be so disheartened they will contribute to the brain drain—all these brilliant young people opting to leave the country instead? I don’t know.

I felt especially hopeless in my nth realization that what seems to matter most is not competence or brilliance or hard work. People will chose a Robin Padilla over a Chel Diokno. So what’s the use of all our efforts to be good, to be competent, to be educated when apparently these are no longer valued by the community at large?

And then there was the sense of personal failure. When I was a literature teacher, I taught Martial Law literature as my contribution to the rising historical revisionism I knew was going on even in college. I feel like I did not succeed in the long run, I feel inutile.

That Dumaguete turned red this time around felt especially galling: I felt like an alien in my own hometown. The disappointment ran deep. When bedtime came, I found myself unable to sleep. I kept tossing and turning for hours on end, until my body exhausted itself from the anxiety. It didn’t help that the last two things I saw on socmed were the following: a glib post by someone urging everyone to add each other as friends in Facebook again, and a tone-deaf post by a local artist who posted something to the tune of X’ing the faces of every Presidential bet and declaring them not to be the answers—that “only Jesus Christ was the answer.” It annoyed me so much, I wanted to say: “You’re not helping, girl. Let people grieve. This is not how you win people over to your faith.”

I made my decision: my resistance will be both subtle and creative. I’m going to accept novelist Charlson Ong’s challenge: “The best resistance is work. Write our books. Make our movies. Help all those we can in times ahead. Don’t lose heart. Don’t be bitter. Work our butts off. Get out of our comfort zones. Do the darn best work of our lives in the next years.”

I woke up late today.

I made my body decide when it was the appropriate time to get up and face a world that feels hostile. My S.O. decided to cheer me up by taking me to a late lunch at Qyosko; then dropping by to see two new exhibits at Shelter Gallery and at Cafe Memento Gallery; and ending the day with early dinner at Himawari, where we commiserated over gyoza, gyudon, yakitori, and mochi ice cream.

Art and food. These were my bandaids. What were yours?

Labels: ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Sunday, May 08, 2022

entry arrow6:58 PM | Rectifying Complaceny


Our biggest failure of the past three decades has been complacency. After we make the country pink tomorrow, let’s make sure we
re going to rectify the silence and the idleness we resorted to for years, simply because we thought no one could possibly forget the evils of the Marcos regime. All along, without our knowing, they laid the extensivee groundwork that has made people susceptible to historical revisionism.

Let’s take a closer look at our school curricula, our history books, our teachers. Let’s make good and interesting movies and TV shows about the Martial Law. [Eto dapat!] Let’s remake the TV newsroom and strip it of its entertainment “Marc Logan”
 mould, and make the news matter again. [All stations are required by law to have news anyway if they want to be granted a franchise. They don’t have to be patently commercial.] Let’s write more books and more comics. Let’s amp up our YouTube and TikTok creations. And let’s take the newest platform that will come and make sure they are not inundated by Marcos propaganda.

This election is our wake up call.

Labels: , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Friday, May 06, 2022

entry arrow7:50 PM | Telling Your Story

What is toxic privilege? It’s thinking that because nothing bad happened to you, nothing bad happened at all — and then refusing to listen or to believe people who tell you the otherwise. It’s robbing people of their own story by your flippant denial of it. [“That didn’t happen at all.” “Yes, but...”] That “but” is the gateway to small evils. It’s gaslighting, it's historical revisionism at its minimum level.

I was terrorised once by a former close friend in 2010, which sent me on a spiral of depression that actually made me go seek legal advise for the first time in my life. [Hi, Myrish! Remember this?] When I told a common friend of my plight, she dismissed what I was saying by telling me: “There are many sides to every story.” That hurt, to be honest. To be disbelieved is awful. UNTIL. Until she herself was terrorised by that former friend, to the point of her landing in really bad legal trouble.

Moral of the story: be careful what you dismiss; it might happen to you.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

entry arrow7:08 PM | Raping Sugarland

My family lost everything because of Marcos—our house, our car, our lives.

This was in the mid-1970s, right around the time I was born—and because I was a newborn at the time the New Society was being touted as the “saving grace” to a troubled country and because I only stumbled on this information in my adult years, I was never able to ask the proper probing questions, until now.

My father and mother in Hacienda Roca, Bayawan in 1971.

No one in my family ever talked about it either, except in broad strokes that told a simple story of lost fortune: that once we had an extensive sugar plantation in the rich farmlands of Bayawan with the opulent lifestyle [and a vast circle of friends] that went with it, and then we lost it all. No one mentioned Marcos, and I attributed the story to quirks of fate. Bad things happen to good people.

We did not talk about the origins of our reduced circumstances, perhaps out of shame. I, on the other hand, would have been the one person in the family to ask the terrible questions for the sake of writing—but I simply did not know.

What could not be denied, however, was the state my family was in those later years in the 1970s, and especially more so throughout the trying decade of the 1980s. I did not feel much the hardship because I was too young to notice anything beyond the regular hunger pangs I felt—but I know now that my older brothers, all five of them, must have. They bore the brunt of my family’s sudden poverty because they were aware firsthand of what they’d lost. When I’d go through old photos in family albums, I see them enjoying lavish birthday parties. My brothers in those photos had birthday cakes and birthday candles, always surrounded by an assortment of people I didn’t recognize hogging tables laden with abundant feasts. I never had a birthday party—but I honestly didn’t know what I was missing until my 30th birthday when friends surprised me with a birthday cake, and only then did I realize I had never blown a birthday candle my entire life.

My brother Dennis enjoying his second birthday in 1969.

We were very poor, we could barely eat three square meals a day. Things became so hard that when the family was finally forced to sell off our Bayawan house and our car [a yellow Sakbayan] to avoid the stigma of foreclosure, the only recourse was for the family to move to Dumaguete City in 1980. This was when the financial crunch was finally tightening around the illusion of Marcos’ New Society.

We lived like nomads in that decade, moving from one house to the next in search of cheap rent. This is what I remember most from my childhood—all the houses we stayed in, from a small compound at the Capitol Area to a wooden house with many rooms in Calle Sta. Rosa, from an upstairs apartment overlooking Holy Cross High School to a secluded one in an alley off Silliman Avenue, from various apartments in Bantayan to a virtual zaguan of a rickety old house in the bowels of Tubod.

My mother, who was once a society belle in her hometown of Bayawan in the flush years of the 1950s and 1960s, was reduced to a skeleton of a woman darkened by the sun as she went from house to house selling peanut butter she herself made—just to be able to feed us. She still kept in touch with many of her old friends, some of them still well-off, and most helped her out by buying her peanut butter. And when one of them would throw birthday parties, she’d take me along—her youngest child—just so I could have a proper meal. My mother still loves to tell this particular story from that time: that once, when I was 11 or 12, I was so hungry after not being able to eat the whole day that I woke her up in the middle of the night, urging her to pray with me, so that God would listen and give us food. A miracle came: the next day, an anonymous friend sent us a whole bag of groceries. Until now, that sautéed sardines my mother prepared remains the best meal in memory.

In the 1980s, my mother would take me around with her to attend friends’ birthday parties just so I could eat properly.

Our reprieve came with the usual story of many Filipino families. One of my brothers managed to work abroad just as the 1990s came along—and only then, with the remittances he sent the family, could we breathe properly again. I remember buying our first refrigerator. I remember buying our first TV. I remember buying our first Christmas tree. I remember our first car. I remember moving into our new house we didn’t have to rent anymore.

Where does Marcos come into the story?

* * *

“The personal is political,” so the old mantra goes. This truism is an honest accounting: our personal circumstances and experiences are rooted in, or invariably dictated by, the politics that surround us, especially in issues of inequality.

This was my prompt, and when I used this as the framework with which to see my family’s history, I stumbled into a rabbit’s hole. When I went deeper, I was confronted by facts that had not been readily told to me, not even by my family. The twist in my family’s personal history—our descent into indignity—came about because of the late dictator’s rape of Sugarlandia in the 1970s.

Here’s a bit of history.

Negros enjoyed decades of untold wealth because of one crop that grew abundantly on the island: sugarcane. All over the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, landed families controlled haciendas that produced sugar for export, particularly to the United States. You can still see remnants of this gilded age: the beautiful houses of Silay City and Bais City, even the famous “sugar houses” of Dumaguete, the small seaside mansions of Negrense landowners that line the Rizal Boulevard.

Families of more modest means—including mine—were also able to tap into this market with sizable landholdings devoted to the crop. Our plantation in Bayawan was named Hacienda Roca—after “Rosales Casocot”—and for many years, it sustained my family and catapulted it to the higher echelons of Bayawan society.

And then the United States ended its sugar quota in 1974, after which Ferdinand Marcos—only two years after declaring Martial Law in the country (and thus having the power of life and death over everyone, even rich hacenderos)—appointed cronies “to head a state-owned marketing and trading monopoly” of the sugar industry, writes Inday Espina-Varona for Licas News.

On paper, Marcos and his economic advisers argued that it was a necessary move, because “pervasive market failures were the root cause of the decline of the sugar industry”—this, according to a 2001 paper by Gerald Meier—and that in order to rescue the industry, “central coordination was crucial.” Marcos called for the government to replace the market “in order to stimulate the market development of the sugar industry.” He established the Philippine Sugar Commission or PHILSUCOM in 1976, as well as its trading subsidiary, the National Sugar Trading Corporation or NASUTRA, to do the job.

NASUTRA was given the sole power to buy and sell sugar, set prices paid to planters and millers, and purchase companies connected to the sugar industry. In May 1978, the Republic Planters Bank was established “to provide adequate and timely financing to the sugar industry.”

Except that this was all illusion, good only on paper: Marcos and his cronies never paid back the planters—including my family—for the sugar NASUTRA got from them. All the money went to the pockets of Marcos and his cronies.

Inday Espina-Varona further writes: “[Marcos and his cronies] robbed sugar planters, taking advantage of fluctuating global prices and drowning landowners in debt. That, coupled with centuries of irresponsible lifestyles and a feudal system that reserved land only for the rich, led to the collapse of the island’s economy.”

And then that financial disaster blew up into an even bigger one:

“On Negros’ vast plains, man—not nature—ushered in famine,” Inday Espina-Varona writes. “Almost 200,000 workers lost their jobs. Hacienda owners, facing bankruptcy, fled to the safety of cities, abandoning families that had served them for generations. Unemployed workers on paper enjoyed some social amelioration. Those who actually received this were the exception. Corrupt officials had siphoned off funds to personal coffers or to bankroll the extravagant habits of the dictator’s family. Farm labor flooded the cities to scrabble for work but there was little to be had.

“In trickles, and then streams of misery, children began arriving in hospitals with swollen bellies, stick limbs, and eyes that drooped or stared sightless from pain. Some were too weak to talk; many could not walk.”

Negros suddenly became known worldwide for its starving children. Some of you might still recall the 1980s campaign that screamed: “Feed the Hungry Children of Negros.” In the public grade school I attended in Dumaguete in the early 1980s—during the last years of the Marcos regime—I remember well what that entailed: being fed pospas every day during recess. I hated pospas.

The most infamous of these “hungry children of Negros” was a boy named Joel Abong whose skin-and-bone visage appeared “on the front pages of newspapers and the covers of magazine,” writes Inday Espina-Varona, who covered the ill-fated child’s last days.

A photo taken on 4 May 1985 by Kim Komenich of young malnutrition victim Joel Abong, which has become iconic of the situation in Negros during the 1980s. 

She notes: “Joel had pneumonia and tuberculosis. He was brought in with bones so brittle doctors had to wrap padding around his limbs. Joel’s body was the size of a baby. Stringy hair the yellow-brown of severe malnutrition lay limp on a head that seemed grotesquely big. A rattling sound accompanied every breath. His father was one of those who had fled the cane fields. On an island where people joked about shoveling money from the ground, Joel’s family had literally starved. My mother headed that hospital’s pediatric department. She came home every night in a silent rage. Some nights she could hardly eat; food was a reminder of her patients. Doctors couldn’t save Joel. He was not alone.”

By 1985, ten percent of Negros’ children were suffering third-degree malnutrition, according to Dr. Violeta Gonzaga of La Salle College in Bacolod.

* * *

So, is this the “golden age” people talk about when they crow about the Marcos years? Years of starving children? Years of financial mismanagement? Years of lining the coffers of cronies while whole industries suffered?

But the bigger question has got to be this: how come we don’t know many of these things?

How come I had to dig deeper to understand where my family’s misfortune came from?

How come these things are not taught in our history classes—so much so that historical revisionism threatens to overwhelm us all?

And lastly: how come people have come to ignore how Marcos virtually raped our localities, our provinces, our regions—and believe instead YouTube and TikTok videos about “the glory years” of the dictator’s grip on power?

That last one came to me when I was chatting with Frank Cimatu, a writer/friend and journalist based in Baguio. We were talking over Messenger about the person who heckled Jillian Robredo as she went about a Baguio market on a campaign for her mother’s presidential run.

“Hirap kasi sa Benguet,” Frank told me. “Anlakas ng [he who must not be named].”

That took me aback.

“Even with the Chico Dam controversy and the murder of Macli-ing Dulag?” I asked.

[Historical aside: In 1973, a year after Martial Law was declared, the Marcos regime proposed the Chico River Dam Project, a hydroelectric power generation project involving the Chico river system that encompassed the regions of Cordillera and Cagayan Valley—without consulting the lumads in the area. Locals, notably the Kalinga people, resisted fiercely because of the project’s threat to their residences, livelihood, and culture—and the project was soon after shelved in the 1980s after public outrage in the wake of the murder of opposition leader Macli-ing Dulag. It is now considered a landmark case study concerning ancestral domain issues in the Philippines.]

“Clueless,” Frank said. “Even Sagada is hati.”

I thought back to what Marcos did to Negros in the 1970s—and I blinked from the sheer exhaustion I felt after realizing that even people from a land that has been raped [or threatened with it, as was the case of the Cordilleras] could still be so enamored by the son of that rapist, someone who insists to this day that no rape ever happened.

* * *

I doubt my mother—who is now 89 years old—still chases fanciful dreams of a return to the old splendor she enjoyed in Bayawan in the gilded age. I know she has come to a place of peace, having come to a reckoning with that past and the immediate catastrophe that followed it that saw her destitute and that saw her struggle so hard to feed her family [although she still managed to put through six sons studying at the very expensive Silliman University]. The hardship ultimately strengthened her, and for that she is grateful.

But to forgive Marcos and what he had wrought?


Labels: , , , , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich

entry arrow8:21 AM | Emotional

A strangely emotional day for many reasons:

[1] An unexpected turning point in a beloved's life.

[2] Lowkey anxiety to start the day with.

[3] A book signing event for a local memoirist who wrote about life during the Martial Law -- and I found myself voicing out at length and with unexpected passion about Marcos, politics, and historical revisionism. This was the first time I've ever done this, off the cuff.

[4] A letter from an old classmate who has been going through a lot lately. She was diagnosed with being bipolar years ago, and is now the caregiver for an ailing parent. She asked me to write her a eulogy, while she was still alive and can read what others can say about her. She recently got out of a terrible depression, and she just wanted to know how she has mattered in the lives of others. She knew I have ADHD, and she thought I'd be one who could best understand where she was coming from. I read her request to my s.o. after dinner, and I unexpectedly burst into tears. Mental health struggles are an invisible wound, and I realize that sometimes we just want to be seen.

Labels: , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich