(As Pres Aquino delivers his SONA today, I am reposting this article I wrote after Arroyo's 2008 SONA.)


Just as we expected, The Queen delivered a canard about her Queendom. Life is dandy, the future is rosy, she is a brave Queen, she has been slaying dragons derailing the progress of her Queendom and still managed to make it a paradise for her subjects.

Hounded by a very low credibility problem, she presented to the Filipino nation a handful of people who used to be thirsty until their cups were filled from spouts coming from the spring she created. There were those people who found jobs after receiving training. There were peasants whose station in life rose a few inches higher with loans. If you ask me, dragging those people to the halls of Congress was a pathetic attempt at proving the popularity of her programs. It was too hard-sell. And it did not work because now the masses are asking why she chose to bestow food on the tables of only a few.

This is a country with more or less 89M people. If she improved the lives of half of the population, we would have given her a pat on the back. But if benefits from her harvests trickled down to only a minute segment of the masses, she ought to cover her face in shame. Her very poor neighbors in Malacanang did not have a share in the pie she claims to have cooked for the masses. If you cannot see the poverty right over your fence, how can you see poverty in the countryside? She is a failure and worse, she does not enjoy a shred of public trust as the latest surveys show. She inflicted her illegitimate reign on the masses for too long. It is way past the time to face the music. This is not Japan so it is too much to expect her to resort to "hara-kiri." She should start looking toward the direction of the exit instead of concocting the elixir that will extend her stay in Malacanang beyond 2010. That is what leaders with moral compunction do. But let us not forget that she commandeered her way to the most sought-after swivel chair in the country employing means way beyond Niccholo Machiavelli's imagination. Morality is not her cup of tea.

We do not need counter-statistics to show the real state of the nation. Simply pay a short visit to any field office of the National Statistics Office or the Department of Foreign Affairs. There you can witness unusually thick crowds of people queuing to obtain passports or copies of th
eir birth certificates, a requirement for passport issuance. Before The Queen usurped the throne with a telephone call, crowds in those offices were not as multitudinous. The smell of despair was not as pungent. The atmosphere was not as funereal.

What do the queues tell us about the state of the nation? They tell us that more people are now pushed to the edge and are ready to embrace what family-oriented Filipinos would shun doing - leave their families, even infant children in so many cases, for jobs abroad. Otherwise, the alternative is hunger. And those people in the crowd are not even assured of jobs overseas. Their faces are those of desperation, hands clutching a delicate thread of hope.

You can also tell the state of the nation from the multitude that flocked during the most recent Feast of the Black Nazarene. This year's Quiapo horde was unprecedented. Obviously, the masses are already at their wits' end and they have to hang on to faith - faith in redemption from hunger via contact with a 400-year wood from Spain. Under The Queen's reign, not only votes in presidential elections and money from the public coffers are stolen. Even perspective has been robbed from the masses by the starvation she fostered.

Really, there is no need to go into statistics to have a deep grasp of the state of the nation. Numbers have a way of confusing the issues and eventually masking ineptitude, inequities, and the reality of poverty. But let me take The Queen on the economic growth she gloated about. Sure, there was an increase in the gross national product. But this is why she has more to account to the masses for. In spite of this growth, food became more inaccessible for them. Which means that the growth benefited only the usual ones- the feudal lords, the multinational companies, the national bourgeois- who make up a very small number but control the nation's wealth. The Queen's reign only widened the already wide gap between the wretched and the over-blest. In other words, she only exacerbated the root of poverty in the Queendom.

And who is she to profess a bleeding heart for the poor? She spent P300M in public money for a junket to America to have an audience with the frontrunners in the US presidential elections (Obama, realizing perhaps that he is just a presidential candidate, did not accommodate her into his hectic schedule) while the country was being ravaged by Typhoon Frank. By golly, she was already selling the Philippines even if she was not sure who the buyer should be. And when she came back, she did not spend P300M to aid the typhoon victims.

The state of the nation is that it is a nation mired in despair with an illegitimate Queen who is the errand girl of the oligarchs, the slave of the bourgeois, the clerk of neoliberalism. This country needs her like it needs a hole in the head. She reminds me of Scar who stole Simba's throne in the movie "The Lion King."

Fairy tales are fine but only innocent children and retards believe them.

But again, it was an innocent child who saw a naked emperor  in  his "new clothes."

by: Cheryl L. Daytec 

So you were on your way to the huge hippodrome
You moved with the grace of a swan
Twenty  million  people  waited for the wave
 of your dainty hands on black-and -white TVs

That was what you were supposed to do
Alas, you rolled down the car window
The stench of  existence deterged of freedom
pervaded the air
You  looked straight into the eyes of a child
hawking her tender flesh to wrinkled  strangers
not quite comprehending her  tragedy
You saw her haggard mother
holding with one thin hand a boil-infected baby
letting go of  hope with  the other
You saw her jobless father  burn his self-deprecation
with a bottle of cheap alcohol
Hungry peasants carried full harvests to lay down
At the feet of an indolent  landlord chewing  cigar

There were millions of them
There were just a few of you

The soft bed, the flashy cars, the banquets,
The promises  of fame:   their  glitter was illusion
 Subdued by  the sudden flash of enlightenment

It was a time when opulence was a badge of shame
-an era  when hope was  heresy to  the wretched
Freedom was a  word inside  the lexicon
 devoid of form outside of it
a rhetoric of tyranny to mask injustice
a  birthright without duty-bearer
calling for  vanguards to unchain it

You heard the call the moment you knew
One cannot fully enjoy a world
that despoils the  laughter of others

So you turned the car around
Slipping out of your gown
You dropped
 the circlet of fame around  your head
the rogue lipstick into the garbage bin
It was war; you picked up a gun and rushed
 to the  battlefields - a soldier of the people
Power started to lose balance
when you and comrades cast arrows into apathy
creating a  hole through which sunshine could pass
to  grace  that young girl’s pallid life
to give her mother strength to collect hope
to put color on her father’s waxen face

You never  put down the freedom torch
You made more torches
passing  them on to the toiling masses
They found their way out of the darkness
of apathy and victimhood
To the light of consciousness
To the parliament of the streets
To the corners of the countryside
 To the slums, to the prisons
Confronting the throne
Crumbling the cornerstone of injustice
Winning victories for the oppressed class

There are  virtues more solid  than beauty
-Love for the unloved, love for the masses
Sacrifice for society’s dregs
Choosing them all,  
You turned your back on a crown of beauty,
the fancy dresses, the limelight
and became more  beautiful

Now, from where the struggle goes on
We watch you ride  into the sunset
as only you could/chytdaytec 14jul2012


Maita and I delivered lectures in the University of the Philippines-Baguio in 2011.
The following article by Filomeno Sta. Ana III is a beautiful piece on Maita Gomez, the woman who should have been known more for being a revolutionary/activist than for being a beauty queen. She should have read this. Sadly, she passed on to the next life yesterday. 

After winning a beauty title, Maita could have chosen a comfortable life. She could have become a product endorser, a movie star, a rich man's mistress, or anything that would have assured her a life of comfort and plenty. But she chose a different path, a radically different one, the one less traveled. She resolved to live among the masses and to fight for freedom and justice especially during the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship. Surely, it was not an easy life. It was sacrifice. Yet she chose that.

Up to her last days, she was living her life for others. She was very active in exposing the lies of the mining industry and big business.

Ride on to the sunset, Maita. You will always be remembered.

Maita Gomez, lovely soul: Rebel-intellectual will always be a beauty queen

Maita Gomez in Paris, 2011.
The online news portal of TV5
(Editor’s note: Filomeno Sta. Ana III wrote this piece on Maita sometime in March 2011, but it went unpublished. Sta. Ana shares it now with readers so they can, he says, get to know more about Maita Gomez, "always described as the beauty queen turned revolutionary." He adds: "She was more than that, and there was no contradiction in her being a fashion model/beauty queen and being an activist.") 
Friends or acquaintances, those born in the 1950s and 1960s, remember Maita as the fashion model and beauty queen turned revolutionary.  And Maita has been described and stereotyped in that manner through the years, elevating her to the status of a living legend or heroine.  Maita feels uncomfortable being described as such.  It is not that she is embarrassed about her colorful past. Neither does she want friends to forget her transition from high society to living a dangerous life. It is just that the stereotype is restrictive and can even be a liability.  
I recall for example that I recommended Maita to be a resource person on the economics of mining for a public affairs broadcast.  Maita knows this field well; she’s the current coordinator of Bantay Kita, a non-governmental organization whose mission is to have transparency of contracts and revenues in the extractive industries.  The show’s producer thought I wasn’t serious about my recommendation.  She said:  “But she’s a beauty queen,” suggesting that Maita’s image as a beauty queen is what the audience will pick up, not why mining is harming development.
The stereotyping is likewise unfair to Maita, for it conceals her other qualities.  Singling out her past—her being a beauty queen and an amazon sidetracks us from appreciating that she’s a hardworking professional; that she’s good at performing simultaneous tasks; that she has the uncanny ability to produce the resources to make both ends meet; that she is generous to a fault even to strangers (she’d buy all the remaining sampaguita garlands peddled by syndicated street children so they could retire early from the night’s work); that she has a pusong mamon; and above all, that she’s a protective daughter, mother and lola.
Maita has received awards for her beauty and for her activism, yet she’s nonchalant about this. But one honor that Maita will greatly value is being recognized as a good and outstanding mom.  She’s a caring, loving mom.  She encourages her children to be independent and treats them as herbarkada.  When her children are in trouble, she prays for them and even asks friends like my wife Mae to offer novenas for them.
But when any of her children are wronged or mistreated, the motherly Maita is transformed into a fighter. Her being a fighter is thus essentially about fighting injustice and subjugation.  She has fought for her daughter and her sons in the same manner that she has fought for the Filipino masses. 
Maita’s life as a celebrated fashion model and her life as an armed underground activist were not contradictory at all.  Her experience as a fashion model prepared her for the sacrifices and rigor of revolutionary life.  After all, being a fashion model entailed long hours of work, perseverance, and tenacity.  For Maita, it was not at all glamorous.
Some of Maita’s old friends observe that the pre-activist Maita they knew was no different from the radicalized Maita. Yael, whom Maita fondly treats as her niece, thinks that Maita is at heart an Assumptionista.  That is, a convent-bred woman disposed to virtue, innocence, compassion, and charity. It just happens that these traits can make dedicated revolutionaries.
And so, we can see a continuum in Maita’s life as a colegiala and a society-page celebrity on the one hand and her life as a rebel and now as a civil society advocate.
In our recent trip to Paris (this piece was written in March last year), that continuum played out.  Maita was serious about our participation in a conference on the extractive industries.  She woke up early to register and to attend pre-conference briefings. She reprimanded me for not joining her in the meetings as I opted to visit Auvers-Sur-Oise.  She phoned me, and asked me to immediately return to Paris.
But on another occasion, she got bored with a plenary session and proposed to me that we go to Montmarte.  And at Montmarte, she bought an attractive painting, though I discouraged her because of the cost, which she intended to give to her son. Not armed with enough cash, she had to withdraw money from the ATM, making her poorer by several hundred euros.
Maita is galante, even when she doesn’t have money.  In Paris, she did not hesitate to spend.  On my birthday, she and another friend, Rina, treated me to a splendid dinner at a high-end Parisian bistro.   
But the best moment of the trip was about her encounter with a young and hip African musician donning loose, multi-colored trousers. They met while smoking outside the hotel premises. The man initiated the conversation, obviously interested in Maita. He even managed to get Maita’s room number, leading to his next question: “Would you like to have sex with me?” 
Maita’s quick retort:  “Hey, I could be your grandma.”  Not disheartened, the musician said, “I like older women, and I honestly thought you are in your 30s.” That of course flattered the senior citizen Maita.  Pressing on, the musician said, “you’ll like me because a young man doesn’t get tired having sex.”
To end the conversation, Maita curtly told the dude to back off because at her age, she no longer enjoys sex.  
Be that as it may, the story only shows that in the eyes of the young generation, and even among strangers, Maita remains a beauty queen.