Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thoughts on this Post-Given Grace Period

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The lingering sleepiness on this particular Sunday was warded off by the topic of Jordan’s “Perfect Rhythm” radio program: Given Grace Cebanico. The program was only 30 minutes long but it effectively summed up the life of Given Grace, not as a student, not as a daughter, but a faithful servant of God.

It is quite disappointing that much of the details of the last few hours of her life were distorted by the media and the eternal evil of gossip. Jordan shared that she actually came from a night-long preparation of a school-related work and not from a party as is known by some of my acquaintances. And I myself, despite not knowing her personally, could not imagine her partying the night away like that given the hectic schedules of the last few days of the semester in UPLB. She could have only been working on school stuff. Unfortunately, yes, quite unfortunately, that she became the target of those beasts who took the form of drug-pumped suspects.

Jordan played Given Grace’s favorite songs and on the last part of the program, Given Grace’s rendition of a Christian song. It is quite reassuring, despite the brutality of her death, that she is now in peace with her God, away from the ugliness of her departure. At least on that extent, the people who love her are appeased. And on this mortal existence, it is also relieving to know that Given Grace’s killers were promptly arrested before her funeral. Justice was initially given to Given. But I know that Justice will soon tighten her grip and resolve for the punishment of the suspects.

For her fellow Christians, the reigning question as Jordan aptly put it is: “Why her?” But not one can really answer that. Misfortune falls to the good and evil alike. And that is one hard fact that we should all remember.

The reason I allude to this time as post-Given Grace period (much like post-WWII period, etc.) is that it is undeniable that most of us, Filipinos, have been moved by her death. For death, when it comes to a most senseless form, can really move a person’s heart. And especially on Given’s case for she could have achieved more if she have only lived longer. Which makes me wonder if our lives have been moving towards some higher call, towards a life that has a purpose. Given Grace found her purpose in God and she died embracing such purpose. If her death would lead others to approach the God who gave her life’s purpose, then I believe Given Grace did not die in vain.

* Photo provided to Pransisem by Marlon Jaurigue, an orgmate of Given Grace in Young Software Engineers’ Society, UP Los Baños

The Death of Muammar Qadhafi and the Upcoming Darker Times in Libya

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I connected to the internet on Friday to see different news websites plastered with news articles, videos, and analysis about the capture and eventual (albeit quite controversial) killing of Muammar Qadhafi. The death of the once-strong leader of Libya is a pivotal point in the campaign of the revolutionary forces who took up arms against the more-than-forty-year-old regime. To some extent, the revolution is somewhat serendipitous, as the revolutionary forces have different strongholds in different towns in Libya – some eventually falling to the Qadhafi forces and some eventually getting recaptured by the revolutionists. Such erratic campaigns have discouraged outside backings for the rebel forces (which should have meant a shift to diplomatic sort of reconciliation for this war-torn country) but Qadhafi’s capture put a cap to these misgivings.

But darker times are already seen in Libya, for unlike some of the revolutions I have followed in the history books there was no prominent leader (or a prominent group) who/which could direct the reorganization of the government of the country. I can put forward a naïve parallel comparison to Cuba, which at least had Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Raul Castro who led the campaigns during the Cuban Revolution and when the regime they sought to topple (that is, Batista’s government) has fallen, they eventually emerged as the new leaders of Cuba, something which was more or less expected by the rest of the revolutionary forces there. The same cannot be easily said of Libya as the people who form the collective revolutionary forces came from different tribes (and if I may venture to say, religious sects). That would be quite a headache for the National Transitional Council (NTC) which, according to some analysts, is also divided into factions.

In any case, the bloodbath would surely be significantly lowered as the focus would now turn to the building of the country’s national government. It also certain that the circumstances regarding the death of Qadhafi would be the topic of future historical inquiries and investigations. One only has to watch the few videos capturing the last few minutes of Qadhafi’s life to realize how difficult it would be to clearly write out the details of his death. But in the end, what is clear (and in fact somewhat ironic) is the way he died. He gained power through revolution and another revolution killed him in the end.

As an afterthought, it is only now that I got the chance to watch a bloody revolution from its start to its end (although the question if it is really the end is another story). But such things are not new anyway. History is replete with similar events. The only difference is this knowledge that one such revolution happened in my time. (Well, Enough of these random thoughts.)

Photo Credits: Yahoo! News / ABC News

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Birth and A Death in U.P. Los Baños

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Having spent almost six years in U.P. Los Baños, I could not help but scavenge for news every now and then about my alma mater. This present blog post was conceived after receiving some recent news about UPLB. The ‘birth’ part is somewhat metaphorical while the ‘death’ part is, sadly enough, quite literal.

A Birth: Rex Victor Cruz Carries the Torch of Chancellorship

A new chancellor for UPLB has been selected and officially declared by the UP Board of Regent on September 29, 2011. Dr. Rex Victor Cruz of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR) will start to assume office on November 1, 2011. According to the UPLB website, Dr. Cruz carries with him his vision of “One University, One Goal, One Destiny for UPLB” directed by five-point thematic agenda. It is a fresh start for the UPLB constituents after a rather longish leadership of former Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco whose term was marred by various issues and controversies. How well will Dr. Cruz fare (not to mention the question of how well will the activists take his appointment) is yet to be seen. Perhaps after a year, we’ll be able to make a few assessments with regards to his performance. But such assessments, of course, would come from the rank and file and would not, in any way, prove to be encompassing. For now, we can only hope for the best for this coming administration.

A Death: Given Grace Cebanico and her Senseless Murder

Gloom now envelops the UPLB campus as the news of the senseless killing (and allegedly rape) of Given Grace Cebanico, a BS Computer Science student. It really ‘strikes home’ for me firstly because she was a UPLB student and second, she was an orgmate of one of my orgmates. I engaged this orgmate of mine in a conversation to flesh out information aside from the details publicized already by the sickening media.

“Kalog”, a Christian, a DOST scholar, and a rather attractive person. These are but some of the few descriptions which I am afraid would never be enough to fully describe the person. She was also appointed to be the promotion head of a fair that her org is organizing for next year. It turns out that she will never be able to attend it. “Sickening” I think would be an apt word for this tragedy. It makes me want to vomit, for a lowly way to satisfy one’s carnal cravings like this can only be described as belonging to the nature of beasts and animals. I cannot even imagine even in passing that gray area where rationality comes into contact with beastliness.

Mournings and tributes are only right to be done at these times but in the end, nothing, not even a very powerful person could bring back her life, much less his dignity which was unruly taken away from her by some beasts. The supreme retribution that all might be looking forward to is the imposition of justice and punishment – equally, if not more than enough – to all those who planned this barbaric act.

It is a bitter death, yes. But it resurrects again the age-old issue of security in and around the campus. UPLB may be notorious for being liberal in many aspects but that is not an excuse to be lenient in security especially amongst its prime constituent, the students.

My sincerest condolences to her family and to her second family at school.

*Photo credits: Rex Victor Cruz (rexcruz.org) /
Given Grace Cebanico (Marlon Jaurigue, orgmate Young Software Engineers Society)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ka Roger and His Belated Hailing as a Red Hero

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The delayed announcement of the death of Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, erstwhile spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) could have only benefitted their group as they needed to make the necessary adjustments at the demise of their once strong leader. Having no substantial knowledge on how the grounds lay at present – whether his death will signal the weakening of their (“revolutionary”) forces or otherwise – I can only make a simple comparison, that of the death of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

They were essentially of the same calling. They basically have the same form of enemy (or enemies). But how well will Ka Roger’s death fuel the campaign of their groups and all its different wings is yet to be seen. Che’s death in one way or another only galvanized the stronghold of Fidel Castro and his group in Cuba. The extent of the influence of Ka Roger, who can be considered already as one of the pillars of the Party, will be tested in this era of CCP without him.

As for the general public (who, for most of the time, is conditioned by the media), it is high time to take a short pause and ponder on this highly ironic fact, or call it existence. Their campaigns as “revolutionary” forces definitely have some basis (but how strong these basis are is another story) but the lingering question is how come not so many people join their ranks. It may be a naïve inquiry but a formative response would be some concepts are endowed with the thinking that they are higher callings. Perhaps for them, this protracted war is worth all their hardships. Or perhaps not. But they are indeed worthy of accolade for this is a brave way of painting a meaning–of the meaning–of their lives.

Photo credit: philippinerevolution.net

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Faces of the Storms


Sometimes, the rain comes to us like a relief. In a tropical paradise like the Philippines (yes, it is), a brief respite in the heat of the whole day compels one to relax, make a cup of coffee, rest on a comfortable chair and look out the glass window and watch as the rain drops kiss the polycrystalline shield and eventually slide down to the ground.

It is a picturesque description if not for the fact that heavy rains, particularly in our country, prove to be devastating. Rain can move you to a poetic, if not romantic, trance. But rain can also turn one’s dreams into dreadful nightmares.

And this has been true in the past few weeks. Three strong typhoons (and still counting) and we have another set of statistics for dead people; several millions of pesos worth of destroyed infrastructures, crops, and houses. The typhoons Pedring and Quiel could have wiped the entire Luzon with all their furies. The Philippines is gifted with water more anything else every year.

With the coming of the Christmas season, the devastation that left most of Northern Luzon to waste will surely affect the upcoming festivities. In the wake of these calamities, another round of blame throwing is at hand: the concerned government bureaus or agencies? or the people who refused to evacuate? But in the end, since we cannot really move the country out of the typhoons’ paths, we might as well do the most basic of all activities, and that is preparation.

Photo credit: calvinshub.com