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