deadliest deadline

meandering thoughts on the beat

Thursday, December 07, 2006


i am in the process of migrating to wordpress. my new blog can be found in thanks all

Monday, November 06, 2006

the crux of Cruz

When Avelino Cruz was appointed to the defense portfolio, the office immediately ordered me to do a story on the new defense chief and what he had planned for the department. i no longer remember how i was able to contact him. but a few days later, i was able to sit down with him for the interview. i didn't find him particularly engaging, which should come as no surprise since we had only met, but he was quick with his answers (he is after all, a lawyer). he already had a clear idea of what he wanted to do at the department. most of what he told me that day was exactly what he had set out to do. insulate the military from politics, train and equip the men in the field, and to take a second look at the RSBS. later, during my frequent incursions into the defense beat as a pinch-hitter i ran into him and he asked me what i had been up to for the past few months. i told him i had just gotten married and joked about thinking of asking him to stand as a sponsor. "so why didn't you ask me?" he said. i muttered something like i was lacking time so i wasn't able to ask him. he gave me that half-smile that seemed half-congratulatory and half you-should-have-told-me. funny. i feel strongly for the issues involved in my beats but rarely for the people at the head of these departments. but i felt sorry to see Sec. Cruz go. obviously, he has done a lot and could have done more. i believe the stand he took against people's initiative was one borne out of his own convictions that it was a flawed way to amend the Constitution. the big mistake of some Cabinet members was to blame him for the failure of the people's initiative to get by the Supreme Court. Malacanang after all is a snake pit and the vipers can be unleashed against even one of their own, even one as industrious as Cruz. the situation must have looked untenable to him, so much so as to consider leaving. based on my interviews with people close to Cruz, the President herself was not so much sold on the people's initiative despite what people might think. i find that a little hard to believe but i am not closed to that possibility. he seems upset that Cabinet members are blaming him for the debacle that was the people's initiative. and he did what any cornered animal does, he came out swinging. the squabbling that occured after Cruz left has bells ringing in my mischevous mind. Raul Gonzales was obviously one of Cruz's critics and wanted the people's initiative so badly. just read his body language and in between the lines of his statements. Mike Defensor seems not so much as Cruz's friend as he is an adversary of Gonzales. if Cruz is really as close to GMA as some would want to believe, given Mike's blind loyalty to GMA, and given the theory that GMA was not really hot on the people's initiative, then somehow things are clearer to me. the squabbling had to come to the fore somehow. then there is the opposition's statements inviting Cruz to run under their ticket. i thought that was particuarly funny. Cruz still does not have any recall to win a national elections. i dont even think he is taking that invitation seriously. i am guessing he would return to the practice of law. and what of Cruz's replacement? names like norberto gonzalez, jun ebdane and larry mendoza have been bandied about. sadly, the last two are former generals and the first just isnt good enough to fit into Cruz's shoes. either of the three assuming the defense portfolio will bring the defense department to just about square one.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Retake the exam! Please!

There must be something severly wrong with our society when the young start thinking of only themselves. Sadly, this seems to me the case in the ongoing controversy over the leakage in the last nursing board exam. Something must be said about the slapdash and incompetent way the Professional Regulation Commission has handled the situation. As early as right after the June board exams. There was already a call for the PRC to hold the results of the exam until the leakage issue is settled. Yet what did the PRC, in all its wisdom, do? It released the results anyway. I suspect this smart move has a two-fold purpos. First, to polarize the students who took the exam into those who want a retake and those who don't. And I must say, the move succeeded to do just that. Second, that the release was meant as a cover-up. Something must also be said about getting to the bottom of the whole mess. Even after the NBI came out with the results of its investigation into the matter, I have yet to see any of the personalities in the controversy hauled to court. Kudos should go to star witness Dennis Bautista and his legal team in their quest to jail the perpetrators of the leakage. Thumbs down to Renato Aquino and his rabid anti-retake group. I had the occassion to ask him if there was anything he and his group were doing to rack up a case against the perpetrators, like convincing students to come out as witnesses. He gave a long winded explanation, including the fact the anti-retake side already had witnesses (actually the only witness they have is Dennis Bautista), but in short, they were doing diddly-squat. Nothing. Finally, something has to be said for the refusal of the Aquino's group to retake the test. Simply put, its the only way to cleanse the test, nursing as a profession. Unfortunately, to say the least, I sense the incapacity of these people to see the forest from the trees. This only indicates to me the selfish depths they have sunk. Talking to them, I get the feeling that all they want is their licenses, to hell with everything else. Sad.

Dan da Man

I can't say I was particularly close to Dan Campilan, the GMA TV news reporter who died in a vehicular accident last week. But I couldn't shake off the fact that this is the second reporter who wrote "30" in the span of around a month, the last being my good friend Hazel Recheta who perished in the line of duty while covering the eruption of Mt. Mayon. In fact, the last time I saw Dan was at Hazel's funeral. He was occupied with comforting another friend Cecille Lardizabal who was crying copious tears. Later outside the funeral parlor, I managed to bum a cigarette from Dan, sitting with Cecille and Mark Salazar in one corner looking forlorn with their eyes swelling from too much crying. I muttered my thanks and slunk away to smoke that much needed cig and assuage my own grief. I had seen Dan in other coverages and called him "Dan da Man" playfully. He would respond with a kind nod of the head and the killer smile. True, Dan cut a handsome figure. He also struck me as a little shy, like a school boy in a new playground. He was likeable and he took his job seriously. The profession truly needs young and dedicated reporters. Losing them so young while at the peak of their careers makes me worry a little for the profession. So Danny boy, don't worry. We'll see you later in the Great Newsroom in the sky. This time, I'll bring the smokes.

Monday, August 28, 2006


As my wife said in her own blog, it's been more than a week since we have been discharged from the hospital. Now is the real test, I think. No more nurses, no more nursery to take care of the little one. It's all up to us. I will be eternally grateful to my in-laws for taking us in for the meantime. There is nothing like an extra pair of hands and their rich experience in child-rearing. It's a longer drive to Antipolo, but the surroundings are quiet and soothing. It helps calm my oftentimes frantic mind. The superb cooking of my mother-in-law also soothes my hungry tummy. I have to say its been particularly difficult for M. All the sleepless nights compounded by the difficult but healthier decision to breastfeed. Almost overnight, the both of us have turned into "experts" in breastfeeding. Thankfully, little Anton seems to have gotten the hang of it. I must say that I am beginning to be somewhat proficient in putting him to sleep. But I rue the fact that most of the time, I feel a wee bit helpless and I have difficulty getting up early in the morning to try to put Anton to sleep when M. is too tired. I have never admired anyone more than I do my wife now with the difficult job she is undertaking. I cannot imagine other husbands who would leave the difficult job of child-rearing to their wives during the day, and abuse and physically beat them at night. There must be a corner of hell reserved for heartless ogres like them. Now the problem are the various ailments that usually hang around newborns. Nasal congestion, colic crying bouts, body temperatures, etc. Hoepfully, we can stay cool and above all of these. But truly, nothing makes me happier right now than staring at my little one while he is staring at me in return. Hopefully, this indicates to me that we are connecting somehow. For me, he is the repository of everything that is beautiful about this world (and to think there was a time when I didn't find much in this world I can call "beautiful"). And I have never loved M. more than I do now. There are the hardships, but there are the joys. Joys never felt before and that are just completely beyond words. And the good part is, there is more joy to come. What did I do to deserve all of this?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hazel and Boyet

Good friends are really hard to find even in a profession like journalism where being personable really counts. I thank my lucky stars I came across such great people like Hazel Recheta and Boyet Aravilla.

The first time I met Hazel, I instantly liked her. I was then covering the PNP in Crame for my old Manila Times paper. I remember I had a quick lunch in Galleria with her and ABS-CBN reporter Gigi Grande. We all instantly bonded, moreso the two gals. We were all from UP, young and eager to make our mark in the journalism world.

I would meet Hazel later in certain coverages. I later found out she got married and had a child. The last time I saw her was a presscon in PCGG last month where with pride, she showed me a picture of her baby girl. She loved her family so much it was infectious.

She was a sweet, friendly, and charming gal and never said a terrible thing about anyone. I’ve always admired people like that. She was full of life and loved to banter about anything. Chika ever, is what I remember calling her once.

And she was dead serious about her job, fleshing out each and every detail of her report. She was a true professional who worked hard and had more substance than some reporters I know.

Words escape me at the moment. I can only wonder how she could ever leave this world at this time. But what God gives, He can also take away.

The blue funk resulting from news of Hazel’s death made me recall the death another friend, Boyet Aravilla of the Star.

Covering the Manila police beat, I also bonded with Boyet since we were the only young men covering the beat at that time. He was a playful bloke, always ready with a witty but piercing retort to the jocular teasing going around all the time in the press room. And he had a quiet, serious side, concerned about his future which certainly included his then girlfriend Karen.

When he and Karen split up, Boyet was never the same. I could literally feel the emptiness inside of him that was carved out when Karen was finally out of his life.

During his wake, I shed no tear, but it was so painful to say goodbye to him. He was about to join our paper, a new beginning that I thought could have been something good for him, something to make him forget and to dull the pain and to forge on. Now I would never know if this would be true. At his side, I told him silently that he could have hung on a little more because things might have turned out good. That he could have stayed awhile longer, because me and our friends needed him. We needed him to remind us that somehow life goes on despite the slings and arrows of our misfortunes. We needed him so we can forget the drudgery of our jobs and the ugliness we saw in this world.

But he went anyway. Maybe the emptiness might have weighed too heavy on him, or maybe it was really his time because he was good and true.

I would give anything to be able to share one more bottle of beer, one more word, one more laugh with Hazel and Boyet. So I can learn from them how to live, and how to love.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

clash of the titans

i love watching public affairs programs. shows like Imbestigador, XXX, and every show of the Tulfo brothers, where they expose various shades of wrongdoings by government officials through hidden cameras and confront them outright, never fail to get me worked up, and i like getting worked up. they never failt to give me a rise. unfortunately, these shows are an essential part of my couch potato existence. on the other hand, i think it was The Elements of Journalism that said that in the US, hidden cameras are no longer considered ethical. its easy to figure out why. part of the ethics of the profession is to identify yourself as media in getting a story. but i think this should be the subject of another blog entry. anyway, the topic of public affairs program occured to me as i await the next chapter in this town's latest big ticket political bout: the Tulfos vs. Mike Arroyo. like i said, i love public affairs programs. but i believe that media's job is not to straighten out everything that 's crooked about the system. we just write about it. so even if i really dig these kinds of programs, i object to them on a professional level. the sight of any of the Tulfos bulldozing their way into a public official's office for a confrontation, or Raffy letting off a mouthful of expletives to an erring official over the phone, is exhilirating. imagine the powers that be finally getting their comeuppance. but another part of me cringes too. that part is screaming "its not our job to do stuff like that!!" i am also afraid shows like these will only reinforce the image of the journalist as a crusader who will do anything to get his way, damn the rest of the world. alright, maybe hosts of these programs just want to help people. but there's the rub. if the Filipino would cherish more his civic rights and stand up to the powers that be when he is pushed to the wall why would they even need to approach journalists to do the fighting for them? its probably all rooted in our history (indio vs. peninsulares blah blah, but dont take my effin word for it. i didnt get good grades in history hehehe) anyway, being a true child of television, i'll keep watching these shows to get my weekly fix. PS: Mon used to defend FG. what gives is anybody's guess.

Monday, July 31, 2006

12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country

A spirited discussion in one of the automotive forums i am a member of spurred me to Google Alex Lacson's list. I had actually met the guy when i was in college and he struck me as a nice, easy-going guy. Shy and quiet, he is the type who never says anything bad about anyone. for more details, readers can Google his name and find out the inspiring story of how his book "12 Things You Can Do to Help Our Country" came about.

  1. Follow traffic rules. Follow the law.
  2. Whenever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.
  3. Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy Local. Buy Filipino.
  4. When you talk to others, especially foreigners, speak positively about us and our country.
  5. Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.
  6. Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
  7. Support your church.
  8. During elections, do your solemn duty.
  9. Pay your employees well.
  10. Pay your taxes.
  11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
  12. Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.
oh and if you can, please pass the list on to your friends. To Alex, may your tribe increase my friend.