the good life

OneRepublic - Good Life by VEVO

One Republic

Woke up in London yesterday
Found myself in the city near Piccadilly
Don’t really know how I got here
I got some pictures on my phone

New names and numbers that I don’t know
Address to places like Abbey Road
Day turns to night, night turns to whatever we want
We’re young enough to say


Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

Say oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight
Like this city is on fire tonight
This could really be a good life
A good, good life

[Verse 2]

To my friends in New York, I say hello
My friends in L.A. they don’t know
Where I’ve been for the past few years or so
Paris to China to Col-or-ado

Sometimes there’s airplanes I can’ t jump out
Sometimes there’s bullshit that don’t work now
We are god of stories but please tell me-e-e-e
What there is to complain about

[Bridge 1]

When you’re happy like a fool
Let it take you over
When everything is out
You gotta take it in


Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

Say oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight
Like this city is on fire tonight
This could really be a good life
A good, good life

[Bridge 2]

I feel like there might be something that I’ll miss
I feel like the window closes oh so quick
I’m taking a mental picture of you now
‘Cuz hopelessly
The hope is we have so much to feel good about


Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

Say oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight
Like this city is on fire tonight
This could really be a good life
A good, good life

Oh yeah...A good good life...

[Verse 2]

To my friends in New York, I say hello
My friends in L.A. they don’t know
Where I’ve been for the past few years or so
Paris to China to Col-or-ado

Sometimes there’s airplanes I can’ t jump out
Sometimes there’s bullshit that don’t work now
We are god of stories but please tell me-e-e-e
What there is to complain about

love the whistling part

sarap mangarap


surigao mine attacks

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

saksi ako segment which aired on saksi on october 4, 2011.


lessons from Steve Jobs

image courtesy of jonathan mak

when i posted my last entry with steve jobs's 2005 commencement speech in stanford university, i had a strong feeling he won't last very long. i just saw a picture of him, frail in a scary way, posted on a website (a product of poor editorial judgment, i must say) and he looked as if he could go anytime soon.

less than a month after my last post, he is gone. steve jobs died on wednesday, peacefully and in the company of his family and friends, as the official statement said. he was 56, at the prime of his life. gone too soon perhaps, but not without leaving so much for humankind to cherish.

so thank you steve jobs, not just for revolutionizing the world through technology, but for leaving us lessons to learn from. your brilliance and ingenuity may never be matched in our lifetime and for generations to come.

here's a resolve that i will find what i love. perhaps not now but someday, i will.

Thank you Steve Jobs, RIP. You will be missed but your legacy will live on.


words of wisdom from steve jobs

just because i need these words right now...


This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005 at Stanford University.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Source: Standford University

si steve jobs na ang maysabi: stay hungry! walang diet-diet!



ten years ago, i woke up to a front page photo on the inquirer of two familiar towers burning. it was the twin towers in new york, arguably the united states' most iconic symbol of economic power and financial strength. the twin towers burning was a surreal sight, one i never thought i'd see. but 9/11 did happen and 10 years on, we are still feeling the effects of the attacks that defined this decade.

9/11 spawned the wars in afghanistan and iraq as the u.s. and its allies spearheaded the "war on terror." several other terrorist attacks took place all over the world, even as governments beefed up security and anti-terror policies. the manhunt for osama bin laden, the head of al qaeda who admitted to masterminding the attacks, dragged on for years until he was killed in a raid in pakistan on may 1, 2011. but osama's death is, by no means, the end of terrorism.

while the u.s. drew sympathy from the rest of the world for the sheer number of casualties (almost 3,000) and the destruction that the attacks caused, 9/11 conveyed the sense of hatred and resentment that some muslims and arabs feel towards the u.s. for its foreign policies in the arab region. to them, the u.s. was no longer the mediator in the israeli-palentine conflict; it had become the enemy.

that the attacks were carried out by muslims only highlighted the underlying suspicion, skepticism and fear towards muslims, particularly in the u.s. more and more muslims fell victim to profiling and the paranoia towards islam reached a point that a florida-based pastor oversaw the burning of quran early this year. and just last month, a norwegian launched a coordinated bombing and shooting spree which killed 92 people, as he called for "a christian war to defend europe against the threat of muslim domination."

incidentally, in response to a new york times article on the oslo attacks which i reposted on this blog, i received an email from elizabeth potter of unity productions. elizabeth and unity productions are initiating an online film and social media project that aims to "change the narrative – from muslims as the other, to muslims as our fellow americans." they're asking people of different backgrounds to pledge and share a real life story about a Muslim friend, neighbor, or colleague that they admire. watch their video below:

the film brilliantly puts together soundbites from evangelical preachers (or so they sound) and media commentators spewing out hatred against muslims and islam juxtaposed with images of what seemed like ordinary americans, who happen to be muslims, living an ordinary, peaceful life in the u.s. the message: you may not know it but your neighbor, who acts and lives like you, may be a muslim--far from the terrorist you imagine a muslim to be.

i may not be an american but the message holds true for the rest of the world. 9/11 was a terrorist attack plain and simple. but it was not carried out by islam and not all muslims took part in the attack.

my fellow american is a worthwhile project deserving our support. help promote this project if you share the same sentiments.

for more information, visit their website: My Fellow American

no words will perhaps be able to capture the devastation caused by 9/11. what i cannot put into writing, i'll share through pictures. see the 25 most powerful photos of 9/11 that life and yahoo put together here.


i need...

...a sense of mission, a sense of purpose, to keep me going.

coz i feel like a robot right now. or a zombie.

or maybe i just need some sleep.

i'm coming home, i'm coming home, i know my kingdom awaits...


sick and disgusting

a bomb explosion rocked norway's capital on july 22, leaving 7 people dead. hours later, around 85 people were killed in a nearby island in a shooting rampage. all these were alleged to have been committed by one man. find out why.

By Steven Erlanger and Scott Shane
Published: July 23, 2011

OSLO — The Norwegian man charged Saturday with a pair of attacks in Oslo that killed at least 92 people left behind a detailed manifesto outlining his preparations and calling for a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination, according to Norwegian and American officials familiar with the investigation.

As stunned Norwegians grappled with the deadliest attack in the country since World War II, a portrait began to emerge of the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, 32. The police identified him as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, while acquaintances described him as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration.

“We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,” a police official, Roger Andresen, said at a televised news conference. “What we know is that he is right wing and a Christian fundamentalist.”

In the 1,500-page manifesto, posted on the Web hours before the attacks, Mr. Breivik recorded a day-by-day diary of months of planning for the attacks, and claimed to be part of a small group that intended to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”

He predicted a conflagration that would kill or injure more than a million people, adding, “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.”

The manifesto was signed Andrew Berwick, an Anglicized version of his name. A former American government official briefed on the case said investigators believed the manifesto was Mr. Breivik’s work.

The manifesto, entitled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” equates liberalism and multiculturalism with “cultural Marxism,” which the document says is destroying European Christian civilization.

The document also describes a secret meeting in London in April 2002 to reconstitute the Knights Templar, a Crusader military order. It says the meeting was attended by nine representatives of eight European countries, evidently including Mr. Breivik, with an additional three members unable to attend, including a “European-American.”

The document does not name the attendees or say whether they were aware of Mr. Breivik’s planned attacks, though investigators presumably will now try to determine if the people exist and what their connection is to Mr. Breivik.

Thomas Hegghammer, a terrorism specialist at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, said the manifesto bears an eerie resemblance to those of Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, though from a Christian rather than a Muslim point of view. Like Mr. Breivik’s manuscript, the major Qaeda declarations have detailed accounts of the Crusades, a pronounced sense of historical grievance and calls for apocalyptic warfare to defeat the religious and cultural enemy.

“It seems to be an attempt to mirror Al Qaeda, exactly in reverse,” Mr. Hegghammer said.

Mr. Breivik was also believed to have posted a video on Friday summarizing his arguments. In its closing moments, the video depicts Mr. Breivik in military uniform, holding assault weapons. Rarely has a mass murder suspect left so detailed an account of his activities. The manifesto describes in detail his purchase of chemicals, his sometimes ham-handed experiments making explosives and his first successful test detonation of a bomb in a remote location on June 13.

He intersperses the account of bomb-making with details of his television-watching, including the Eurovision music contest and the American police drama “The Shield.”

The manifesto ends with a chilling signoff: “I believe this will be my last entry. It is now Fri July 22nd, 12.51.”

Indeed, the operation appeared to have been extremely well planned.

According to the police, Mr. Breivik first drew security services to central Oslo when he exploded a car bomb outside a 17-story government office building, killing at least seven people.

Then he took a public ferry to Utoya Island, where he carried out a remarkably meticulous attack on Norway’s current and future political elite. Dressed as a police officer, he announced that he had come to check on the security of the young people who were attending a political summer camp there, many of them the children of members of the governing Labor Party.

He gathered the campers together and for some 90 hellish minutes he coolly and methodically shot them, hunting down those who fled. At least 85 people, some as young as 16, were killed.

The police said Saturday evening that they expected the death toll to climb. There were still bodies in the bombed government buildings in Oslo, and at least four people missing on Utoya.

The police also said that unexploded munitions were still in some downtown Oslo buildings, and they had not ruled out the possibility that Mr. Breivik had accomplices.

He was equipped, the police said, with an automatic rifle and a handgun; when the police finally got to the island — about 40 minutes after they were called, the police said — Mr. Breivik surrendered.

The police also said he had registered a farm in Rena, in eastern Norway, which allowed him to order a large quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, an ingredient that can be used to make explosives. The authorities were investigating whether the chemical had been used in the bombing.

Besides the manifesto, Mr. Breivik left other hints of his motives.

A Facebook page and Twitter account were set up under his name days before the rampage. The Facebook page cites philosophers like Machiavelli, Kant and John Stuart Mill.

His lone Twitter post, while not calling for violence, paraphrased Mill — “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests” — suggesting what he saw as his ability to act.

Those postings, along with what was previously known about Mr. Breivik publicly, aligned with but hardly predicted the bloody rampage he would undertake on Friday.

Before then, he had been a member of the right-wing Progress Party, which began as an antitax protest and has been stridently anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim.

Joran Kallmyr, a member of the party who is now Oslo’s vice mayor for transportation, said he met Mr. Breivik several times in 2002 and 2003 at local party meetings. “He was very quiet, almost a little bit shy,” Mr. Kallmyr said. “But he was a normal person with good behavior. He never shared any extreme thoughts or speech with us. There was absolutely no reason to expect that he could do something like this. We’re very shocked.”

Mr. Breivik quit the party in 2006, apparently disappointed by the party’s move toward the center.

“He didn’t like our politics, I guess, and moved on,” Mr. Kallmyr said.

His Internet posts also indicated contempt for the Conservative Party, which he accused of having given up the battle against multiculturalism.

But on Friday he directed his firepower at the center-left Labor Party, which leads the coalition government.

“Breivik feels that multiculturalism is destroying the society and that the enforcing authority is the prime minister and the Labor Party, the lead party of contemporary Norwegian politics,” said Anders Romarheim, a fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies.

But the attacks, along with what appear to have been years of preparation for them, raised questions about whether the Norwegian security authorities, concentrating on threats of Islamic terrorism, had overlooked the threat from the anti-Islamic right.

“This is the Norwegian equivalent to Timothy McVeigh,” the right-wing American who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, said Marcus Buck, a political scientist at the University of Tromso in northern Norway. “This is right-wing domestic terrorism, and the big question is to what extent Norwegian agencies have diverted their attention from what they knew decades ago was the biggest threat” to focus instead on Islamic militants.

The unclassified versions of the last three Norwegian Police Security Service reports assessing national threats all played down any threat by right-wing and nationalist extremists. Instead, the reports emphasized the dangers posed by radical Islam, groups opposed to Norway’s military involvement in Afghanistan and Libya, and others.

The 2011 report, released early this year, concluded that “the far-right and far-left extremist communities will not represent a serious threat to Norwegian society.”

Even after the attacks, that appeared to be the official position.

“Compared to other countries I wouldn’t say we have a big problem with right-wing extremists in Norway,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told reporters at a news conference on Saturday. “But we have had some groups, we have followed them before, and our police is aware that there are some right-wing groups.”

Even if the authorities had focused on right-wing groups, it was unlikely that they would have noticed Mr. Breivik.

Kari Helene Partapuoli, director of the Norwegian Center Against Racism, said Mr. Breivik did not belong to any violent neo-Nazi groups that she was aware of, and his Internet postings, before those of last week, did not espouse violence.

“The distance between the words spoken and the acts that he carried out is gigantic, because what he did is in a different league of what the debates have to do about,” she said.

Arild Groven, secretary general of the Norwegian Shooting Association, a sports group, confirmed that Mr. Breivik had belonged to Oslo Pistolklubb, one of the 520 clubs in the association.

“We all read and watch the news about the shootings in the United States,” Mr. Groven said. “But it doesn’t happen here.”

Kristian Ulrichsen, a researcher at the London School of Economics, said in some ways the homegrown nature of the attack made it harder for Norwegians to accept. “With 9/11 in America, people could ask, ‘Who are they?’ and could pour their rage out on someone else,” he said. “But we can’t disavow this person, he’s one of us.”

source: The New York Times

UPDATE: suspect admits responsibility but considers attacks "necessary."

more from the BBC News.

if your religion/ideology, or fear of some other religion/ideology, pushes you to kill people, use your effing brain! more basic than any religion/ideology on this planet is respect for life.

what this guy did is just sick and disgusting. he doesn't deserve to live, but i'm no god to say this.


power corrupts

from conrado de quiros' column in the philippine daily inquirer.

this is exactly how i feel about the whole sara duterte-sheriff incident, except that de quiros manages, as he usually does, to phrase it so poetically and so brilliantly. he truly has the gift of words.

of course, he generalizes sometimes (if not most of the time). while some generalizations may not be fair, you're not reading de quiros for a point-by-point and comprehensive discussion of the issues. it's the impact of his columns that makes them worth reading. it's up to the reader if he falls for them hook, line, and sinker.

There's The Rub
Conrado de Quiros

The guy is just out of control.

Lashing out at his critics last Monday, Rodrigo Duterte flashed a dirty finger at the cameras. And as with the case of his daughter beating up a local sheriff, he offered no apologies for it. In fact, when the local media told him that the Department of Human Rights wanted him sanctioned for it, he flashed the finger again. It was freedom of expression, he said. “It is a sign of anger, it is a sign of extreme disgust. It means galit ako sa iyo,” he said, and spat out expletives to go along with that explanation.

I haven’t written about the Sara Duterte incident simply because others have already done a good job of it. Our editorials especially, which have given a very good perspective on it. The mayor’s wrath was not unprovoked, but her response was thoroughly disproportionate. Beating up a sheriff because he was overeager to demolish shanties does not make things better, it makes them worse. A lot, lot worse.

It shows a public official who is judge, jury and executioner. Or judge, jury and thug.

And now, this.

I know that Sara Duterte’s tough-guy stance has met with a good deal of support in Davao. I know Rodrigo Duterte’s tougher-guy antics have met with a good deal of support in Davao. I know father and daughter are fairly popular in Davao. That has got nothing to do with it. Some things are not a matter for public acclamation. Some things may not be put to a vote. Some things are a matter of right and wrong. Burying Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is one of them. Condoning behavior like this in a public official is another. It is wrong. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.

At the very least, it is one thing to be irreverent, it is another to be crass. It is one thing to be tough, it is another to be abusive. You can’t see the difference between the two, you do not deserve public office, you deserve jail. Or time in a ladies’ polishing school.

Freedom of expression? How long do you think someone who flashes a dirty finger at Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City to suggest anger and extreme disgust at him will remain free? In fact how long do you think someone who flashes a dirty finger at Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City to say “galit ako sa ’yo,” will remain on this earth? That freedom is completely one-way. It is Rodrigo Duterte’s freedom to say, “F-k you,” to the world. It is not the world’s freedom to say, “F-k you,” to him.

Courtesy is not there simply because people invented it out of having nothing better to do, it is there to make communication possible. It is there to make dialogue possible. It is there to make reasonable argument possible. Courtesy from public officials is not demanded simply because polite society wants its pound of flesh, it is there to make public discourse possible. It is there to make public policy possible. It is there to make governance possible.

Rodrigo Duterte may no more flash a dirty finger at the world, or indeed the very thing the finger is supposed to represent, than Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may flash whatever she wants to flash at the world to propose that she is angry, disgusted, galit ako. Though in her case, it would be completely superfluous, her very rule was a metaphorical flashing of the dirty finger at her compatriots. The same can now be said of Duterte’s rule.

I grant a good deal of this country is ungovernable and you have to show machismo, or cojones as the Mexicans say, to tame the lawless places, if not indeed to merely get by. But the principle has always been, “Walk quietly and carry a big stick.” It has never been, “Walk noisily and carry a small dick.” The latter is the principle behind painting the doors of suspected drug pushers red, pushing the bodies of dead criminals into empty oil drums with signs that say “Huwag tularan” and dropping them into rivers, and making sigas and other lowlife disappear from the face of the earth. That doesn’t make things better, that makes things worse.

We know that from the long nightmare we’ve had in the not so distant past. Ferdinand Marcos also made crime disappear immediately after declaring martial law. Suddenly the students were no longer marching in the streets, suddenly the kids were coming home early and no longer smoking joints courtesy of a curfew and harsh anti-drug laws, suddenly the youth were no longer sporting long hair, the thing being punishable by an ROTC haircut and an overnight sojourn in Camp Aguinaldo cutting grass. Parents loved it and wondered how long martial law would last.

Suddenly, a Chinese drug pusher was lined up against a wall and shot to death as a warning to all criminals that this was the fate that awaited them if they defied martial law. Suddenly, the sirens were quiet in the night, wailing only in sudden spurts, the police cars probably chasing down an activist or two who hadn’t yet come to terms with the new world and was painting a protest sign on a wall. Suddenly the crime rate dropped to near-zero. The residents of the Greater Manila area loved it and wondered how long martial law would last.

Well, martial law lasted a decade and a half. With results so catastrophic the country is still reeling from them. And eventually crime came roaring back with a vengeance. There is another principle here, and a far more obdurate one:

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

To those in Davao City and elsewhere who say, “We don’t mind that Rodrigo Duterte is an SOB so long as he’s our SOB,” think again. The next time you extol the virtues of a Dirty Harry or a Dirty Rudy, mind that the last dirt you could see could be, like martial law, the one being shoveled up your ass, or face.

While you lie in your hole in the ground.

source: philippine daily inquirer

i can't stand public officials like rudy or sara duterte, no matter how good they are to their constituents or how they governed davao city well. good thing i'm not in davao city.


Living in the Moment

from maria ressa's aptly titled blog, "brave new world."

Maria Ressa

One of the things I love about being a reporter is when you land in a new city, you’re forced to really live in the moment, particularly if you’ve never been there before. All your senses are alive because it’s new. Your heart throbs because not only are you on deadline, you have a whole society to explore and learn.

As the years went by, that feeling of discovery and truly being alive subsided because I got to know the cities I reported from – where to stay, where to eat, where to hang out, where to find the news. They became part of my habit so I started tuning out.

That’s why travelling and physically moving house every now and then is essential. Too often, as we get older, we stop really looking, stop really listening, stop living in the moment. We get in the car. We drive to work. We barely look at the people we run into. We’re barely alive because we’re thinking of future tasks and future deadlines.

As we get older, life adds layers to our core selves – some necessary, some not; some materialistic, some metaphysical. Your house, your car, your furniture, your clothes – signs of how you look at yourself and how the world looks at you. The layers you add to protect yourself from betrayal, from intrusions into your private life, from hurt – well, somehow we learn to add those layers to protect ourselves. Anyone who handles power or authority has to deliver bad news, play corporate games — and as we get older, you just can’t allow yourself to feel everything you felt when you were young.

But why not?

That’s part of the reason I moved to Singapore. I decided to go back to basics and try to peel away some of those layers. I wanted to listen to myself. No other agenda but to learn and to live in the moment.

That means stripping out the noise. So no high-priced condominium which insulates you from the the wear and tear of daily life. I decided to do something I’d wanted to do for years: live in an HDB flat. HDB stands for housing development board – it’s public-subsidized housing, and more than 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats. I wanted to see how Singaporeans live.

I didn’t get a car. I took public transportation – MRT, buses – so efficient, and riding them made me realize how I missed watching people. Let’s face it – spending 99% of your time inside the ABS-CBN compound doesn’t allow you much people watching time. Everyone knows you and you know them, particularly if you’re the boss.

I missed the kindness of strangers – like when I saw 6 people give up their seats to older folks inside the mrt. It makes you feel good about the human race. (And made me think that Singapore’s public service ads plastered everywhere work).

There’s a wonderful sense of community. Outside my building is a central area built into the plan for public housing – a kid’s playground, an exercise area, a basketball court, an open circular area for barbecues. It is a vibrant community – multicultural because every building represents the racial breakdown – 75% Chinese, 14% Malay, 9% Indian, the rest Eurasians and others.

For nearly two weeks, I was vibrantly alive as I counted how many stops to get off, looked around new areas and discovered new places. Then as I developed a routine, I felt myself starting to slip into the past or the future – my attention was no longer in the moment. When I recognized it, I thought that’s part of life. We discount what we know.

Nothing beats the thrill of living in the moment. Once you get there, it affects everything else and reminds you why you want to stay there. It allows you to put your life in perspective – become more self-aware – and to pay tribute to the people and the places that are important to you.

When I returned to my apartment in Manila, everything felt new. I felt different, and my relationships benefitted from that. I was no longer taking things for granted. I was energized – looking at the world through fresh eyes.

Last February, I wrote about how reunions with loved ones can rejuvenate. Travel and staying in the moment is another way of doing that. Again, one of my very favorite quotes from TS Eliot: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

That, folks, is the story of our lives!

source: brave new world

"A life lived in the moment is a life lived fully." - Maria Ressa


death of an associate

a 32-year-old american lawyer dies while doing legal work from her home office on a sunday. tragic, however you look at it. i just hope she died doing what she loved most.

may her soul rest in peace. and may those of us who are still alive think, think and think really hard about it...


By Ellie Mystal

For the past week, a conversation has percolating around Skadden that has made its way into the ATL inbox. A Skadden associate, Lisa Johnstone, died last week. Her obituary ran earlier this week in the San Diego Union Tribune. And her memorial service was yesterday. She died of an apparent heart attack, though we understand that her autopsy has not yet been completed. She was 32.

We’re talking about Lisa Johnstone’s death because reports indicate that she died while doing legal work from her home office on a Sunday. We’re talking about Lisa Johnstone because for over a week, Skadden associates have been talking about just how many hours Johnstone had been working. We’re talking about Johnstone because while the root cause of her death my never be known, many Skadden associates and others who know the story are taking this as an opportunity to assess their lives and their mental and physical well being.

And that’s a good thing. The best advice I ever received in Biglaw was the partner who said: “You don’t have a thermostat”…

If you talk to Skadden associates in Los Angeles right now, they are understandably angry. The people we’ve spoken to in that office say that in the weeks prior to her death, Johnstone was pulling 100-hour weeks and was under intense pressure. Multiple sources tell us that she had her vacation cut short after being called back to work.

Sources also report that Johnstone had shown some disturbing signs of overwork. Multiple people told us that she was suffering from hair loss. Again, we don’t have the autopsy report, but multiple sources speculate that under these conditions, Johnstone had turned to “the lawyer version of performance enhancers,” just to stay awake.

Now, if you’ve never worked a day in Biglaw, these stories might sound like “horror” stories. And maybe they are. But they’re not “novel” stories. We can’t be sure of what happened to Lisa Johnstone, but we can be sure that this kind of stuff “happens to” Biglaw associates all across the country.

I’ve pulled a few 100-hour billable weeks. I still remember them, as I imagine one would remember spending a week in prison, or a week marooned at sea. On one case, a senior associate on the team (who, incredibly to me, was working harder than everybody else) passed out in the office — right in the middle of the conference room everybody was working in (the partners were, you guessed it, out of town at the time). We had to call an ambulance and everything. And when they carted her away, the rest of us went right back to work — because that’s the mentality that had brought us through law school and into a job like that in the first place.

Luckily, she was fine — just “exhausted,” which until that time, I did not know was an “official” medical diagnosis. And that case pretty much clinched partner for her so, you know, I guess it all worked out based on the logic of Biglaw life. But later on that week, our team was addressed by the partner in charge of the case. He gave us the standard blah blah blah about taking care of ourselves and all that. But then he said (and I won’t forget this until the day I die): “You guys, you don’t have a thermostat. Nobody knows how far you can go before you blow.”

… Now, understand, at the time I was angry. Enraged. I felt much of what these Skadden L.A. associates have been feeling this week. Here was a colleague of mine, a person I liked even though we weren’t friends in the social sense, who had just been pushed to the brink. Here was this colleague who had just gone down a road I did not want to go down, and the firm — who at that point was the thing I had dedicated my freaking life to — was doing nothing to help her. And by her, I of course meant me. A thermostat? Are you kidding me? Why is the goal to push me to the absolute breaking point without actually causing me so much harm that I can no longer stand up? That’s how people treat horses, not men and women.

But over time, and after I quit, I came to understand that the partner wasn’t actually saying the most callous thing in the universe. I mean, it was still a pretty cold thing to say, but it wasn’t totally devoid of feeling. He was also reminding us that we ourselves don’t really know how much we can take, until maybe it’s too late.

We treat ourselves like horses sometimes. I know I did. I never took some of the stimulants available to enhance my “alertness,” though I certainly know a lot of people who did. But as I’ve discussed before, I did find myself filling out prescriptions for drugs that were supposed to make the anxiety go away. When my colleague collapsed, I didn’t think: “Wow, there are limits.” I thought: “Oh nononononono, we’re a man down, I’m going to have to work even harder now.”

When I quit, it wasn’t just because I felt like the firm was going to work me into the ground. It was also an admission that I was not wired to stop it from happening. I didn’t, at that point, have the skills to tell the firm: “No, I’m not billing 100 hours this week. Not now, not ever.” But I didn’t know what would happen to me if I kept working like that, and I didn’t like what was happening to me already. So I quit, consequences be damned. I didn’t have a thermostat.

My story is the one I know about. I don’t know Lisa Johnstone’s story. We don’t know what kind of pressures she was feeling. We don’t know if she was being pushed, or if she would have naturally found a way to work as much as she possibly could. We don’t know if her heart could have given out sitting on a beach sipping a cocktail, just like it apparently did sitting in her home office trying to get work done. She’s gone now, and we can just hope and pray for her family and friends.

But we, the living, are not gone. We still have choices to make. If in Johnstone’s death somebody else out there can find a moment to recalibrate his or her life, that can be a good thing.

These Biglaw jobs are hard. Insane even. You literally can no longer pay me enough to do one. But if you are putting yourself in the middle of this pressurized insanity, please remember that you don’t have thermostat. Nobody knows how much you can take.

Ed. Note: We’re leaving the comments open. We’re leaving the comments open because we think that it is appropriate that lawyers who read us have a chance to share their thoughts on wellness in the profession, work/life balance, and all the other issues the death of a colleague and fellow practitioner naturally bring up. We’re not leaving the comments open so people can take potshots at a woman who just passed away. So please try to control yourselves.

source: abovethelaw.com

if i have less than 24 hours to live, will i be doing what i'm doing now? hmmm...


my life as an undocumented immigrant

A moving story written by a Pulitzer-prize-winning undocumented immigrant in the U.S. who happens to be a Filipino...

Jose Antonio Vargas

One August morning nearly two decades ago, my mother woke me and put me in a cab. She handed me a jacket. “Baka malamig doon” were among the few words she said. (“It might be cold there.”) When I arrived at the Philippines’ Ninoy Aquino International Airport with her, my aunt and a family friend, I was introduced to a man I’d never seen. They told me he was my uncle. He held my hand as I boarded an airplane for the first time. It was 1993, and I was 12.

My mother wanted to give me a better life, so she sent me thousands of miles away to live with her parents in America — my grandfather (Lolo in Tagalog) and grandmother (Lola). After I arrived in Mountain View, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay Area, I entered sixth grade and quickly grew to love my new home, family and culture. I discovered a passion for language, though it was hard to learn the difference between formal English and American slang. One of my early memories is of a freckled kid in middle school asking me, “What’s up?” I replied, “The sky,” and he and a couple of other kids laughed. I won the eighth-grade spelling bee by memorizing words I couldn’t properly pronounce. (The winning word was “indefatigable.”)

One day when I was 16, I rode my bike to the nearby D.M.V. office to get my driver’s permit. Some of my friends already had their licenses, so I figured it was time. But when I handed the clerk my green card as proof of U.S. residency, she flipped it around, examining it. “This is fake,” she whispered. “Don’t come back here again.”

Confused and scared, I pedaled home and confronted Lolo. I remember him sitting in the garage, cutting coupons. I dropped my bike and ran over to him, showing him the green card. “Peke ba ito?” I asked in Tagalog. (“Is this fake?”) My grandparents were naturalized American citizens — he worked as a security guard, she as a food server — and they had begun supporting my mother and me financially when I was 3, after my father’s wandering eye and inability to properly provide for us led to my parents’ separation. Lolo was a proud man, and I saw the shame on his face as he told me he purchased the card, along with other fake documents, for me. “Don’t show it to other people,” he warned.

I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.

I’ve tried. Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream.

But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.

Last year I read about four students who walked from Miami to Washington to lobby for the Dream Act, a nearly decade-old immigration bill that would provide a path to legal permanent residency for young people who have been educated in this country. At the risk of deportation — the Obama administration has deported almost 800,000 people in the last two years — they are speaking out. Their courage has inspired me.

There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We’re not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.

My first challenge was the language. Though I learned English in the Philippines, I wanted to lose my accent. During high school, I spent hours at a time watching television (especially “Frasier,” “Home Improvement” and reruns of “The Golden Girls”) and movies (from “Goodfellas” to “Anne of Green Gables”), pausing the VHS to try to copy how various characters enunciated their words. At the local library, I read magazines, books and newspapers — anything to learn how to write better. Kathy Dewar, my high-school English teacher, introduced me to journalism. From the moment I wrote my first article for the student paper, I convinced myself that having my name in print — writing in English, interviewing Americans — validated my presence here.

The debates over “illegal aliens” intensified my anxieties. In 1994, only a year after my flight from the Philippines, Gov. Pete Wilson was re-elected in part because of his support for Proposition 187, which prohibited undocumented immigrants from attending public school and accessing other services. (A federal court later found the law unconstitutional.) After my encounter at the D.M.V. in 1997, I grew more aware of anti-immigrant sentiments and stereotypes: they don’t want to assimilate, they are a drain on society. They’re not talking about me, I would tell myself. I have something to contribute.

To do that, I had to work — and for that, I needed a Social Security number. Fortunately, my grandfather had already managed to get one for me. Lolo had always taken care of everyone in the family. He and my grandmother emigrated legally in 1984 from Zambales, a province in the Philippines of rice fields and bamboo houses­, following Lolo’s sister, who married a Filipino-American serving in the American military. She petitioned for her brother and his wife to join her. When they got here, Lolo petitioned for his two children — my mother and her younger brother — to follow them. But instead of mentioning that my mother was a married woman, he listed her as single. Legal residents can’t petition for their married children. Besides, Lolo didn’t care for my father. He didn’t want him coming here too.

But soon Lolo grew nervous that the immigration authorities reviewing the petition would discover my mother was married, thus derailing not only her chances of coming here but those of my uncle as well. So he withdrew her petition. After my uncle came to America legally in 1991, Lolo tried to get my mother here through a tourist visa, but she wasn’t able to obtain one. That’s when she decided to send me. My mother told me later that she figured she would follow me soon. She never did.

The “uncle” who brought me here turned out to be a coyote, not a relative, my grandfather later explained. Lolo scraped together enough money — I eventually learned it was $4,500, a huge sum for him — to pay him to smuggle me here under a fake name and fake passport. (I never saw the passport again after the flight and have always assumed that the coyote kept it.) After I arrived in America, Lolo obtained a new fake Filipino passport, in my real name this time, adorned with a fake student visa, in addition to the fraudulent green card.

Using the fake passport, we went to the local Social Security Administration office and applied for a Social Security number and card. It was, I remember, a quick visit. When the card came in the mail, it had my full, real name, but it also clearly stated: “Valid for work only with I.N.S. authorization.”

When I began looking for work, a short time after the D.M.V. incident, my grandfather and I took the Social Security card to Kinko’s, where he covered the “I.N.S. authorization” text with a sliver of white tape. We then made photocopies of the card. At a glance, at least, the copies would look like copies of a regular, unrestricted Social Security card.

Lolo always imagined I would work the kind of low-paying jobs that undocumented people often take. (Once I married an American, he said, I would get my real papers, and everything would be fine.) But even menial jobs require documents, so he and I hoped the doctored card would work for now. The more documents I had, he said, the better.

While in high school, I worked part time at Subway, then at the front desk of the local Y.M.C.A., then at a tennis club, until I landed an unpaid internship at The Mountain View Voice, my hometown newspaper. First I brought coffee and helped around the office; eventually I began covering city-hall meetings and other assignments for pay.

For more than a decade of getting part-time and full-time jobs, employers have rarely asked to check my original Social Security card. When they did, I showed the photocopied version, which they accepted. Over time, I also began checking the citizenship box on my federal I-9 employment eligibility forms. (Claiming full citizenship was actually easier than declaring permanent resident “green card” status, which would have required me to provide an alien registration number.)

This deceit never got easier. The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught. But I kept doing it. I needed to live and survive on my own, and I decided this was the way.

Mountain View High School became my second home. I was elected to represent my school at school-board meetings, which gave me the chance to meet and befriend Rich Fischer, the superintendent for our school district. I joined the speech and debate team, acted in school plays and eventually became co-editor of The Oracle, the student newspaper. That drew the attention of my principal, Pat Hyland. “You’re at school just as much as I am,” she told me. Pat and Rich would soon become mentors, and over time, almost surrogate parents for me.

After a choir rehearsal during my junior year, Jill Denny, the choir director, told me she was considering a Japan trip for our singing group. I told her I couldn’t afford it, but she said we’d figure out a way. I hesitated, and then decided to tell her the truth. “It’s not really the money,” I remember saying. “I don’t have the right passport.” When she assured me we’d get the proper documents, I finally told her. “I can’t get the right passport,” I said. “I’m not supposed to be here.”

She understood. So the choir toured Hawaii instead, with me in tow. (Mrs. Denny and I spoke a couple of months ago, and she told me she hadn’t wanted to leave any student behind.)

Later that school year, my history class watched a documentary on Harvey Milk, the openly gay San Francisco city official who was assassinated. This was 1999, just six months after Matthew Shepard’s body was found tied to a fence in Wyoming. During the discussion, I raised my hand and said something like: “I’m sorry Harvey Milk got killed for being gay. . . . I’ve been meaning to say this. . . . I’m gay.”

I hadn’t planned on coming out that morning, though I had known that I was gay for several years. With that announcement, I became the only openly gay student at school, and it caused turmoil with my grandparents. Lolo kicked me out of the house for a few weeks. Though we eventually reconciled, I had disappointed him on two fronts. First, as a Catholic, he considered homosexuality a sin and was embarrassed about having “ang apo na bakla” (“a grandson who is gay”). Even worse, I was making matters more difficult for myself, he said. I needed to marry an American woman in order to gain a green card.

Tough as it was, coming out about being gay seemed less daunting than coming out about my legal status. I kept my other secret mostly hidden.

While my classmates awaited their college acceptance letters, I hoped to get a full-time job at The Mountain View Voice after graduation. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to college, but I couldn’t apply for state and federal financial aid. Without that, my family couldn’t afford to send me.

But when I finally told Pat and Rich about my immigration “problem” — as we called it from then on — they helped me look for a solution. At first, they even wondered if one of them could adopt me and fix the situation that way, but a lawyer Rich consulted told him it wouldn’t change my legal status because I was too old. Eventually they connected me to a new scholarship fund for high-potential students who were usually the first in their families to attend college. Most important, the fund was not concerned with immigration status. I was among the first recipients, with the scholarship covering tuition, lodging, books and other expenses for my studies at San Francisco State University.

As a college freshman, I found a job working part time at The San Francisco Chronicle, where I sorted mail and wrote some freelance articles. My ambition was to get a reporting job, so I embarked on a series of internships. First I landed at The Philadelphia Daily News, in the summer of 2001, where I covered a drive-by shooting and the wedding of the 76ers star Allen Iverson. Using those articles, I applied to The Seattle Times and got an internship for the following summer.

But then my lack of proper documents became a problem again. The Times’s recruiter, Pat Foote, asked all incoming interns to bring certain paperwork on their first day: a birth certificate, or a passport, or a driver’s license plus an original Social Security card. I panicked, thinking my documents wouldn’t pass muster. So before starting the job, I called Pat and told her about my legal status. After consulting with management, she called me back with the answer I feared: I couldn’t do the internship.

This was devastating. What good was college if I couldn’t then pursue the career I wanted? I decided then that if I was to succeed in a profession that is all about truth-telling, I couldn’t tell the truth about myself.

After this episode, Jim Strand, the venture capitalist who sponsored my scholarship, offered to pay for an immigration lawyer. Rich and I went to meet her in San Francisco’s financial district.

I was hopeful. This was in early 2002, shortly after Senators Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, and Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat, introduced the Dream Act — Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors. It seemed like the legislative version of what I’d told myself: If I work hard and contribute, things will work out.

But the meeting left me crushed. My only solution, the lawyer said, was to go back to the Philippines and accept a 10-year ban before I could apply to return legally.

If Rich was discouraged, he hid it well. “Put this problem on a shelf,” he told me. “Compartmentalize it. Keep going.”

And I did. For the summer of 2003, I applied for internships across the country. Several newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune, expressed interest. But when The Washington Post offered me a spot, I knew where I would go. And this time, I had no intention of acknowledging my “problem.”

The Post internship posed a tricky obstacle: It required a driver’s license. (After my close call at the California D.M.V., I’d never gotten one.) So I spent an afternoon at The Mountain View Public Library, studying various states’ requirements. Oregon was among the most welcoming — and it was just a few hours’ drive north.

Again, my support network came through. A friend’s father lived in Portland, and he allowed me to use his address as proof of residency. Pat, Rich and Rich’s longtime assistant, Mary Moore, sent letters to me at that address. Rich taught me how to do three-point turns in a parking lot, and a friend accompanied me to Portland.

The license meant everything to me — it would let me drive, fly and work. But my grandparents worried about the Portland trip and the Washington internship. While Lola offered daily prayers so that I would not get caught, Lolo told me that I was dreaming too big, risking too much.

I was determined to pursue my ambitions. I was 22, I told them, responsible for my own actions. But this was different from Lolo’s driving a confused teenager to Kinko’s. I knew what I was doing now, and I knew it wasn’t right. But what was I supposed to do?

I was paying state and federal taxes, but I was using an invalid Social Security card and writing false information on my employment forms. But that seemed better than depending on my grandparents or on Pat, Rich and Jim — or returning to a country I barely remembered. I convinced myself all would be O.K. if I lived up to the qualities of a “citizen”: hard work, self-reliance, love of my country.

At the D.M.V. in Portland, I arrived with my photocopied Social Security card, my college I.D., a pay stub from The San Francisco Chronicle and my proof of state residence — the letters to the Portland address that my support network had sent. It worked. My license, issued in 2003, was set to expire eight years later, on my 30th birthday, on Feb. 3, 2011. I had eight years to succeed professionally, and to hope that some sort of immigration reform would pass in the meantime and allow me to stay.

It seemed like all the time in the world.

My summer in Washington was exhilarating. I was intimidated to be in a major newsroom but was assigned a mentor — Peter Perl, a veteran magazine writer — to help me navigate it. A few weeks into the internship, he printed out one of my articles, about a guy who recovered a long-lost wallet, circled the first two paragraphs and left it on my desk. “Great eye for details — awesome!” he wrote. Though I didn’t know it then, Peter would become one more member of my network.

At the end of the summer, I returned to The San Francisco Chronicle. My plan was to finish school — I was now a senior — while I worked for The Chronicle as a reporter for the city desk. But when The Post beckoned again, offering me a full-time, two-year paid internship that I could start when I graduated in June 2004, it was too tempting to pass up. I moved back to Washington.

About four months into my job as a reporter for The Post, I began feeling increasingly paranoid, as if I had “illegal immigrant” tattooed on my forehead — and in Washington, of all places, where the debates over immigration seemed never-ending. I was so eager to prove myself that I feared I was annoying some colleagues and editors — and worried that any one of these professional journalists could discover my secret. The anxiety was nearly paralyzing. I decided I had to tell one of the higher-ups about my situation. I turned to Peter.

By this time, Peter, who still works at The Post, had become part of management as the paper’s director of newsroom training and professional development. One afternoon in late October, we walked a couple of blocks to Lafayette Square, across from the White House. Over some 20 minutes, sitting on a bench, I told him everything: the Social Security card, the driver’s license, Pat and Rich, my family.

Peter was shocked. “I understand you 100 times better now,” he said. He told me that I had done the right thing by telling him, and that it was now our shared problem. He said he didn’t want to do anything about it just yet. I had just been hired, he said, and I needed to prove myself. “When you’ve done enough,” he said, “we’ll tell Don and Len together.” (Don Graham is the chairman of The Washington Post Company; Leonard Downie Jr. was then the paper’s executive editor.) A month later, I spent my first Thanksgiving in Washington with Peter and his family.

In the five years that followed, I did my best to “do enough.” I was promoted to staff writer, reported on video-game culture, wrote a series on Washington’s H.I.V./AIDS epidemic and covered the role of technology and social media in the 2008 presidential race. I visited the White House, where I interviewed senior aides and covered a state dinner — and gave the Secret Service the Social Security number I obtained with false documents.

I did my best to steer clear of reporting on immigration policy but couldn’t always avoid it. On two occasions, I wrote about Hillary Clinton’s position on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. I also wrote an article about Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, then the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who was defending his party’s stance toward Latinos after only one Republican presidential candidate — John McCain, the co-author of a failed immigration bill — agreed to participate in a debate sponsored by Univision, the Spanish-language network.

It was an odd sort of dance: I was trying to stand out in a highly competitive newsroom, yet I was terrified that if I stood out too much, I’d invite unwanted scrutiny. I tried to compartmentalize my fears, distract myself by reporting on the lives of other people, but there was no escaping the central conflict in my life. Maintaining a deception for so long distorts your sense of self. You start wondering who you’ve become, and why.

In April 2008, I was part of a Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings a year earlier. Lolo died a year earlier, so it was Lola who called me the day of the announcement. The first thing she said was, “Anong mangyayari kung malaman ng mga tao?”

What will happen if people find out?

I couldn’t say anything. After we got off the phone, I rushed to the bathroom on the fourth floor of the newsroom, sat down on the toilet and cried.

In the summer of 2009, without ever having had that follow-up talk with top Post management, I left the paper and moved to New York to join The Huffington Post. I met Arianna Huffington at a Washington Press Club Foundation dinner I was covering for The Post two years earlier, and she later recruited me to join her news site. I wanted to learn more about Web publishing, and I thought the new job would provide a useful education.

Still, I was apprehensive about the move: many companies were already using E-Verify, a program set up by the Department of Homeland Security that checks if prospective employees are eligible to work, and I didn’t know if my new employer was among them. But I’d been able to get jobs in other newsrooms, I figured, so I filled out the paperwork as usual and succeeded in landing on the payroll.

While I worked at The Huffington Post, other opportunities emerged. My H.I.V./AIDS series became a documentary film called “The Other City,” which opened at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and was broadcast on Showtime. I began writing for magazines and landed a dream assignment: profiling Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for The New Yorker.

The more I achieved, the more scared and depressed I became. I was proud of my work, but there was always a cloud hanging over it, over me. My old eight-year deadline — the expiration of my Oregon driver’s license — was approaching.

After slightly less than a year, I decided to leave The Huffington Post. In part, this was because I wanted to promote the documentary and write a book about online culture — or so I told my friends. But the real reason was, after so many years of trying to be a part of the system, of focusing all my energy on my professional life, I learned that no amount of professional success would solve my problem or ease the sense of loss and displacement I felt. I lied to a friend about why I couldn’t take a weekend trip to Mexico. Another time I concocted an excuse for why I couldn’t go on an all-expenses-paid trip to Switzerland. I have been unwilling, for years, to be in a long-term relationship because I never wanted anyone to get too close and ask too many questions. All the while, Lola’s question was stuck in my head: What will happen if people find out?

Early this year, just two weeks before my 30th birthday, I won a small reprieve: I obtained a driver’s license in the state of Washington. The license is valid until 2016. This offered me five more years of acceptable identification — but also five more years of fear, of lying to people I respect and institutions that trusted me, of running away from who I am.

I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore.

So I’ve decided to come forward, own up to what I’ve done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection. I’ve reached out to former bosses­ and employers and apologized for misleading them — a mix of humiliation and liberation coming with each disclosure. All the people mentioned in this article gave me permission to use their names. I’ve also talked to family and friends about my situation and am working with legal counsel to review my options. I don’t know what the consequences will be of telling my story.

I do know that I am grateful to my grandparents, my Lolo and Lola, for giving me the chance for a better life. I’m also grateful to my other family — the support network I found here in America — for encouraging me to pursue my dreams.

It’s been almost 18 years since I’ve seen my mother. Early on, I was mad at her for putting me in this position, and then mad at myself for being angry and ungrateful. By the time I got to college, we rarely spoke by phone. It became too painful; after a while it was easier to just send money to help support her and my two half-siblings. My sister, almost 2 years old when I left, is almost 20 now. I’ve never met my 14-year-old brother. I would love to see them.

Not long ago, I called my mother. I wanted to fill the gaps in my memory about that August morning so many years ago. We had never discussed it. Part of me wanted to shove the memory aside, but to write this article and face the facts of my life, I needed more details. Did I cry? Did she? Did we kiss goodbye?

My mother told me I was excited about meeting a stewardess, about getting on a plane. She also reminded me of the one piece of advice she gave me for blending in: If anyone asked why I was coming to America, I should say I was going to Disneyland.

Jose Antonio Vargas is a former reporter for The Washington Post and shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. He founded Define American, which seeks to change the conversation on immigration reform. Editor: Chris Suellentrop (C.Suellentrop-MagGroup@nytimes.com)

source: the new york times

sad to see this happening in a country founded by immigrants. ironic, isn't it?


love in a time of torture

an inspiring story about how a young protester survived torture in the hands of Syrian police through the help of a note from the one he loves.

cynical me thinks the account is a bit fictionalized. but an amazing story nonetheless. besides, in these times of war, we all need love stories, don't we?

read on!


A young man's account of sadistic torture in a Syrian secret prison, and how a girl's note helped him through his pain.

Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand

Arrested during a protest in the first days of the Syrian uprising, a young man endured acts of sadism and torture at the hands of Bashar al-Assad's secret police.

As his body was beaten, whipped, electrocuted and worse; the prisoner could think only of the girl he loves, clenching a note from her in his hand as the torturers did their worst.

Told largely in his own words, this is his remarkable personal story of endurance and hope in a place filled with darkness and despair.

A small piece of paper held tight in a clenched fist. A lifeline to a better place.

Days become nights become days. The kicks, the punches, the questions, the insults, the humiliation and the pain.

"She was always on my mind in the toughest moments during the torture. The only thing that relieved the pain was my belief that, at that moment, she was comfortable in her bed."

The beatings begun on the police bus driving arrested protesters to one of Syria's most notorious secret police branches.

"Your mother is a whore!" screamed one of the policemen, as he slammed the butt of his rifle into the prisoner's face. "We will f*** her and your sister!"

But the young man wasn't listening.

"In the first five minutes I was only thinking of her. I was so afraid for her. But when the bus drove off I saw her trying to phone somebody, so I was so happy that she's wasn't under arrest. I didn't know then that they arrested her a few minutes later.

"We were welcomed at the prison by beatings. Our hands were tied behind our backs and we were blindfolded. We were made to sit on our knees in the prison courtyard for an hour while they beat us continuously and kicked us all over our bodies.

"Then we were ordered to lie down on our stomachs and five or six security men took turns running and jumping on our backs while insulting us. Then they made us sit on our knees again for more than two hours while they whipped us. I could feel the moisture of the blood on my fingers."

He was later led into a room, still blindfolded, for the first of many interrogations.

"There were three interrogators and a fourth person writing down what I said. The interrogators wanted to know why I had gone to the protest, who I had gone with and what the slogans we had chanted. All, of course, under a torrent of insults.

"After that I was sent back to the prison yard and was made to sit on my knees until the evening - when I was again interrogated. I was asked the same questions and gave the same answers. Then I was led back to the courtyard to sit on my knees for another two hours or so."

That first night the prisoners were stripped naked while the prison guards made jokes about their genitals. The prisoners asked for food and water, and were refused.

"I would smile when I was forced to take off my clothes at night and I was shaking from the cold. How could I be cold knowing that she was enjoying the warmth? Since when can the cold find its way into our bodies while the warmth of love is filling our every cell?"

The young man was led to a corridor with prison cells on either side. For the next six days, when the interrogations were over, this is where he would be left, kicked and beaten with sticks by the passing guards so he could not fall asleep, his legs hunched up and cramping, his head forced back upright against the wall so that he could never lie down.

"I would only be allowed to drink water every second day. If I needed to go to the toilet I would be given 30 seconds. If I spent any longer than that they would tie me to a large tire and whip me."

'Humans and Monsters'

On the second day the interrogations grew worse.

"They were asking me the names of the people I had been with at the protest. But I refused to give any names. I said I had gone there alone and had not seen anyone at the demonstration who I knew."

Back in the corridor a man arrived and told the guards to untie the prisoner and take his blindfold off. He was ordered to strip naked again.

"First, the man applied the electric shock device to my chest. He then moved it to my nipples. It felt a bit like an explosion. You can't describe the pain. It was so painful.

"At first I was surprised. I didn't understand what had happened. Then, after two or three times, I somehow grew accustomed to it. My head was banging against the wall, but I didn't feel that until they finished."

After the chest, the man lowered the electric prod, slowly and methodically, applying the current first to the elbows, left and right, then to the wrists, left and right, then to the knees, left and right, then to the ankles, left and right.

"I saw him. He was so angry. He accused me of working with the US and Israel. I later found out that he was the head of the prison. He was shouting. Then I remembered her smile.

"At every moment her words were ringing in my ears and my chest was full of her rebellious spirit. It shaped my will, which can never be broken, as long as we defend the principles of right and justice.

"In the end I said: 'I beg you God, don't let them arrest my friends. I don't want them to be electrocuted like me.' In prison there is no female or male. There are only humans and monsters."

After the beatings on the third day, the young man thought he might die.

"I heard the guards, further down the corridor. They were talking about the demonstrations in Deraa. They were very upset and discussed killing me in front of people in order to terrify them and force them to stop their protests. That night the beatings continued until the morning."

On the fourth day, the young man again overheard the guards, this time talking about how the protests had begun to spread across Syria.

"When I heard the word 'uprising' I thought seriously that maybe this crazy regime will kill us all to stop this."

'An expression of fear'

The words of his two favourite Arab writers, Ghassan Kanafani and Mahmoud Darwish, came back to him.

"Deep down inside I was so happy because the words of the poets were in my mind, that if we die my friends and my family will live in peace and freedom. She will live in freedom and we'll meet in another world. That was a great feeling when I thought about it."

That night his interrogators forced a stick up his rectum, repeatedly.

"During the torture I remembered the words of Kanafani, which always reminded me of her: 'If the prisoner is beaten, it is an arrogant expression of fear.' Every single cowardly strike from the security police was another crack in my wall of fear."

Unable to walk after six days of torture and stress positions, the young man was taken to see the prison doctor.

"He asked me why I couldn't walk and when I told him the reasons he kicked and hit my knees and slapped my face. He asked: 'Does that make you feel better?'"

After the sixth night in the corridor, the young man was carried to a cell no larger than four square metres. There was a single blanket on the floor and two other prisoners inside, one of them a protester he had been arrested with. The other man said he was being held on a drugs charge.

"The next day the interrogators asked me about all the things we three had been speaking about in the cell. Then I realised that the third man had been put there to spy on us."

Days went by and prisoners would come and go, until nine men were forced to share the tiny cell. One of the prisoners was a lawyer.

"He told me all my friends at the protest had been arrested and that she had been arrested as well, but that they had been released after a week. He said the secret police had hit her. I cried for a week.

"I had a small piece of paper with me in the prison. Very small. It was from her. She had drawn something on this paper. All the time I would smell the paper and remember the hand that had drawn it.

The young man learned later that his parents had gone to each of Syria's 17 security branches asking for their son. All denied they were holding him.

Only when the lawyer who had shared the cell with him was released did the traumatised parents finally know of their son's whereabouts, just two days before his own release.

Though tortured for a month in appalling conditions, the young man has no plans to flee his homeland.

He's working hard to earn a living. And though he takes drugs to help with the pain in his back and knees, he says he sleeps well at night.

The girl he loves is safe and those "paper tigers" of Assad's security forces will be unable to withstand the wind of change, he believes.

Then he wants to marry her. If she'll have him. If she only knew how she had saved him. How she had helped him through all that about which he'll never tell her.

source: al jazeera english - features

so many stories to tell, only one lifetime to live...


tribute to chit

written by a prof of mine in college as a tribute to a fellow-journalist who died in a tragic car accident last friday, may 13, 2011.

i will never forget ma'am carlos, the author, because she once told me, as part of her critique of a feature article i wrote: "wala kang puso." that comment has stuck with me ever since and each time i write features or blog entries, i always strive to put a lot of heart into my work (which takes quite some effort really).

in this piece, ma'am carlos shows how to write with a heart, without being overly dramatic. i didn't have the chance to know chit estella personally (i may have met her a few times because she looks familiar) but after reading this tribute, i somehow got a sense of how she was as a person, in the eyes of her friend.

i'm reposting this because not only was the news of chit estella's death shocking enough, the article struck a chord on so many levels (the loss of a good journalist, the journalism profession, mortality and life in general...). it's also a good example of how to write effectively and affectively.

By: Desiree Carlos

We were so young then: Chit Estella, Joel and Vina Paredes, Yvonne Chua, Raffy Japa, Tatin Marfil, Mike Alunan, Cris CerdeƱa, and Jenny Santillan, among others. We knew the newspapers were all controlled by Marcos and his cronies. As idealistic UP graduates, how could we stomach working in any of these papers?

But we all wanted to write, we all wanted to help change the lives of the Filipino people, and we all hoped our passion for writing the news would make a difference.

And so we chose to work in the crony papers after graduation. Naisip namin na sa panahon na iyon, sa loob ng peryodiko ang tanghalan ng pakikibaka para sa mga peryodistang tulad namin. For the years or months we worked in the crony papers, we tried our best to look for ways to do what we believed was a journalist’s role in society as taught by Louie Beltran and our other professors: we tried to inform the people, not fool them.

It was not easy.

In the beats that we covered separately or together, we experienced what we merely used to hear about in college about a corrupt media and corrupt government officials. Some colleagues tried to bribe us or collected money “in our behalf,” government officials directly handed money to us (which we returned without trying to offend the official at baka di na kami makakuha ng istorya), we got disappointed often when our story ideas or requests for coverage were disapproved by the news desk because it’s not news enough (read: they’re not pro-Marcos, or they’re about protest actions and sides of groups or persons on important social realities like human rights abuses).

Because of the frustrations in the beat and our inability to do much despite our desire, we became allies although we worked for rival papers. We would meet up after work, eat, and release all our frustrations and talk about stories we wanted to pursue and write about. We would discuss political and social issues, and encourage each other when we wanted to quit.

Our favorite place was the Paredes’ house in Mandaluyong where, as Chit would then say, “Ang sarap talaga magluto ng nanay nila Vina, no?”

For before Roland Simbulan, the only thing I know that could compete with Chit’s love for journalism was her love for food.

Chit, Vina and I would comb the Quiapo, Divisoria and Escolta areas to look for places where we could eat good food for very low prices. Salaries of reporters and correspondents were so meager na kung di na kaya ng sikmura mo, tatanggapin mo na yung perang naglipana sa beat ninyo.

Despite having very little money, we found ways to enjoy our adventures in these “poor men’s shopping havens.” We’d go window-shopping! We would look at capri pants in different colors and say to ourselves, “I will buy that…next time.”

Once we went to SM Makati. How we loved shopping with our eyes and trying out clothes! Until now, I can’t forget this white dress that Chit said looked good on me. Ganon naman si Chit, parating nakangiti at parating may encouraging words. Though we bought nothing then, we left the mall feeling sated. I learned from Chit and Vina that contentment is a state of mind that goes down to one’s heart.

And from Chit, Vina and Cris, I learned two more important lessons. One, that there are other ways to do one’s job as a journalist if you can’t do it in your own newspaper. Second, a real journalist shares her story because a true journalist wants to provide the people with all possible information that will help them make an intelligent choice. Yes, to a true journalist, the people come first, not the byline or recognition.

This was our secret and now I will share it with you.

When we were covering Imelda Marcos, Mel Mathay and the Metro Manila Commission, the Quezon City Hall and the Quezon City Courts (Chit for Tempo, Cris and Vina alternately for the Daily Express and I for Ang Pahayagang Malaya), Chit, Vina and Cris would also look for corruption stories and opposition stories and pass them to me. Aside from the MMC, QC Hall and courts, I was also assigned to human rights stories, the opposition (with Joel Paredes), and street rallies (with Joel, Ellen Tordesillas and Malaya police reporters).

They knew Malaya was undermanned. They knew I couldn’t handle so many beats at one time. They understood I had to prioritize covering the human rights beat.

And so they helped me in the beats we covered together. They would give me leads for stories and even shared their notes. This was how selfless these journalists were at that time: Chit, Vina and Cris. Nananalaytay sa dugo nila ang pagiging peryodista kaya sa bansag nilang “maliit na paraan namin,” tinulungan nila akong i-cover at i-uncover ang mga katiwalian sa QC hall at MMC.

There was no rivalry among us. There was only friendship and a shared passion to unearth the truth and to ensure the Filipino people will get hold of it. Chit, Vina and Cris were not after recognition. For this, I salute them. And I thank them again.
The last time I saw Chit was at the journalism department of the UP College of Mass Communications. I was inquiring about the exam and thesis for my master’s degree. I “needed” the label as a coordinator of the Kalayaan College’s journalism program. After talking to Racquel, Chit invited me to her room. We talked as if the last time we met was just last month and not two years or so ago.

She asked about Tani, my eldest, who was a “fixture” at the Malaya newsroom when she was a baby and I had no yaya. Then she told me she too was finishing her master’s studies because it’s a requirement to be a full professor. I remember asking her, “Bakit nga ba natin ginagawa ito (referring to studying again)?” She paused, thought a moment, then smiled, “Masarap magturo. At hindi ba, panahon na para ipasa natin ang natutunan natin?” I thought, “So, Chit has found another way to ‘practice’ journalism and her venue is now the classroom.” Then she added,”Tuloy mo lang magturo.” I nodded. Then I stood up from my chair and prepared to leave. Chit then said,”Kita tayo uli ha? Kain tayo..” I smiled. Si Chit talaga.

(The author was a longtime reporter for Malaya. She wrote this piece to pay tribute to Chit Estella-Simbulan, who died in a car accident last May 13, 2011).

source: newsbreak

here's another interesting piece written by stox (aileen estoquia), a schoolmate in college, who happened to be both ma'am carlos' and chit estella's student. read it here: Tribute to a Mentor.




The Columbia University School of Journalism is presenting its highest honor–the Columbia Journalism Award–to Al Jazeera English. AJE managing editor Al Anstey will accept the award at the 2011 commencement ceremony, where he will also address the graduating class.

The school’s faculty, which selects the awardees, voted for Al Jazeera English for the overall depth and quality of its peerless coverage of the ongoing protests in the Middle East. “Al Jazeera English has performed a great service in bringing the English-speaking world in-depth coverage of the turmoil in the Middle East.” said Dean Nicholas Lemann. “We salute its determination to get to the heart of a complicated story unfolding in countries where news has historically been difficult to cover.”

Usually the award is presented to an individual. This is only the second time that a show or organization has receieved the honor. In 1993 the award went to PBS’ “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.”

for more: http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/al-jazeera-english-receiving-award-from-columbia-journalism-school_b64693#more-64693

barely five years old and AJE is making huge waves! also well-deserved:


Sheila Coronel, one of the Philippines' most respected journalists and currently a New York-based professor of journalism, will be awarded one of Columbia University's highest honors, the Presidential Teaching Award, at the university's commencement ceremony in May.

A co-founder of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and its long-time executive director, Coronel has been the first and only director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University since 2006.

Columbia has long been considered the gold standard in journalism education. University-wide, only five Columbia faculty are given Presidential Teaching Awards every year.

for more: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/219211/pinoy-abroad/sheila-coronel-to-receive-columbias-highest-teaching-award

what can i say? AJE and sheila coronel are simply awesome! and so is columbia journalism school. kudos!