Iffy Days Are Here Again

Dark, ominous clouds are looming over the Philippine political landscape. Even as thousands of people -- including a large number of millennials -- had just gathered in various cities all over the country to protest the hero's burial of whatever remains of ex-president Ferdinand Marcos, President Rodrigo Duterte effectively fired two women from his cabinet on Sunday, December 4. Vice President Leni Robredo and Patricia Licuanan, chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (with a fixed term as mandated by law until 2018), both got text messages from Cabinet Secretary Leandro Evasco Jr. dis-inviting them from attending Cabinet meetings. Reason given, at least to VP Leni, was "irreconcilable differences" with the President. (We are posting the Vice President's resignation announcement, the list of her achievements so far as VP, and Malacanang's official statement on this issue.)

Social media blew up following the announcement: Is the president paving the way for the installation of losing VP contender Bongbong Marcos, who has protested the results of the election? Or is this just a case of President Digong's inability to work with strong women who do not bow to his wishes and his whims? Since he himself admits that he is bipolar, was he on his manic state or his depressive state?

On another issue that's equally disturbing, Fil-Am writer Rene M. Astudillo asks, "Is our Freedom of Speech Under Attack?" The question is relevant in the prevailing atmosphere where trolls, fake news sites, divisiveness and the ascendancy of thin-skinned, authoritarian-leaning leaders are no longer the stuff of horror, but have indeed become reality.

And just a touch of levity in an otherwise scary scenario: Millenials with their generational humor and language dominated the massive protest actions against the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Here are some examples of the placards they did themselves. 

Interesting times indeed are forthcoming, in the Philippines, the US and the rest of the world where "populist" (code word for racist and authoritarian) leaders seem to be gaining ground. As in every drama and tragedy, the operative word is "Abangan ang susunod na kabanata." (Watch for the next episode).

Tomorrow we join in the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor with a statement fromthe Filipino Veterans' Recognition and Education Project. The Washington DC-based group recently chalked up a major victory with the passing of the bill bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor to Filipino World War II Veterans. President Obama is slated to sign the bill into law very soon -- one of his last acts as the 44th President of the US. 

Two notable Filipinos are profiled in this issue: Chef Paul Qui who won the "Top Chef - Season 9" of the popular TV show some years back and the James Beard Award for Best Chef for the Southwest in 2012; and Joji Ilagan Bian, a Davao-based educator and entrepreneur. Positively Filipino Contributing Writers Elizabeth Ann Quirino and Serina Aidasani wrote the profiles, respectively.

Our Happy Home Cook recipe of the week: Silken Tofu, Tapioca and Caramel Parfait (aka Taho) from Los Angeles-based chef and cookbook author Marvin Gapultos.

And for our Video of the Week, a powerful, heart-rending video by Ditsi Carolino, Gladys Llanes, and Kyle Venturillo on the new Marcos burial protests.

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino

When It's December in Our Soul

For Filipinos outside the Philippines, the onset of December triggers a focus on the homeland. By this time, balikbayan boxes for Christmas should have been packed and shipped, Christmas cards mailed to international addresses, and tickets for the annual visit to the Philippines in January or February booked. If you're one of those, like me, who have dilly-dallied on these things, we have to get our act together quite soon because 2016 is galloping by fast. And not a moment too soon, I'd say. 

For those intending to visit Cebu or Bohol, read this week's story by occasional contributor Gia R. Mendoza, "Two Side Trips and a Wedding." You might want to get in touch with the guides she hired and the sites she saw to make your visit hassle-free and productive.

And from the Diocese of Legazpi, Albay, Bishop Joel Z. Baylon issues a stirring call for prayer for enlightened leadership, through an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte. Every night at 9, the church bells of Legazpi will be ringing to call the people to pray. This will go on "for as long as it takes," the Bishop writes.

A cautionary tale from literary stalwart Cecilia Manguerra-Brainard on her near-fatal encounter with the pneumococcal vaccine, "The Pneumonia Shot That Sent Me to Urgent Care," underscores the need for each one of us to be an active participant in our health care.

As Cuba hits the headlines worldwide with the death of its leader, Fidel Castro, Read Again "Eternamente Cuba," Chibu Lagman's travel piece on the island nation that shares so many similarities and history with the Philippines.

A major part of that history is Andres Bonifacio, whose 144th birthday falls on November 30. As the Philippines grapples intensely today with the definition of a real hero, let's pause to remember what Bonifacio did for the country. Read Again Penelope V. Flores' article, "Andres Bonifacio, the Other National Hero."

For Pinoyspotting, Joe and Lynn Santos cruised the Mediterranean and met some kababayans.

Our Happy Home Cook feature this week: the comforting Ginataan from Chicago's beloved Uncle Mike's Place.

For our Video of the Week, TV host Lourd De Veyra and a panel of experts look into the myths of Martial Law.


Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino

Fair Shakes

The outgoing House of Representatives of the US has scheduled a hearing on November 29 on the Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015. Positively Filipino joins The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project in urging all Filipinos in America to call your representatives and ask them to support the bill. This is undoubtedly well deserved by our Filipino veterans who fought alongside the American forces but have not been given due recognition. An ALL HANDS ON DECK moment for the community. Click here for more information.

Earthquakes are happening all over the world and it will be folly to think that you and I will not be affected sometime. Contributor Manzel Delacruz writes from earthquake country California -- where there's now a 72 percent probability that a seismic activity will occur anytime soon -- about the earthquakes in her life and how to prepare for the next one. "Living in Earthquake Country" is a must-read for those living on faults.

On the lighter side, an interesting life is what New York-based Dien Magno chooses to live. A journalist by day and a burlesque dancer by night, Dien is profiled in "Portrait of a Fil-Am Journalist as an Exotic Dancer" by veteran journalist and editor Cristina DC Pastor who publishes TheFilam.net, an online magazine in metro New York. 

More on the lighter side, our art director Raymond Virata brings us another compilation of funny signs that only Filipinos can think of. 

For Video of the Week, we feature Kathryn Jewel Golbin, a blind pinay singer who amazed the judges of "France's Got Talent."

And for those celebrating Thanksgiving with sumptuous feasts, you might want to return afterwards to comfort food. So here's a recipe for champorado from Chicago's famous Uncle Mike's Place . Make sure you have tuyo orjeproks (both deep fried salted fish) on hand to complete the down-home experience. 

Read Again our feature on Uncle Mike's Place: Uncle Mike’s Place

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino