No miracle this time

There is a significant lack of maturity among voters in Pampanga. Disappointment enveloped my excitement as a first-time voter during the country’s first automated elections because provincial and district posts here in our area is dominated by dark forces. Indeed, Kapampangans are far from learning what ‘good governance’ is all about, and what real ‘public service’ looks like. In fact, many cannot distinguish what is right from what is wrong. Yet again, there is hope.

COMELEC deserves a round of applause for pushing through with its plan of “PCOSizing” the whole nation. Depsite of some inefficiencies, failure to remove Acosta and putting an action star on the no. 8 spot in the senatoriables (obviously unfair), I guess Filipinos are already satisfied with Commissioner Larrazabal’s good looks plus a bit of those “may bilog na hugis itlog” dancers on television.

As a government employee, I wasn’t able to directly help in campaigning for my bet. Although I show my support as part of the yellow army, I remained silent. But my entry to government service is very timely. Being inside the political system allows you to be acquainted further with those running for office.

Eleksyon vs Halalan
By 8:00 am of May 10, the tip of my pointer finger was already marked with indelible ink and I already voted for the future leaders of this country. Upon reaching home, I tuned in for updates. I can’t help but express my awe with this year’s coverage of local television networks. The Iron Man-like 3D graphics plus GMA 7’s hologram made the day even more historic. I love the Collezione polo shirts of ABS-CBN reporters. I find GMA’s blazers a bit off-season.

Pampanga and the next three years
And so Arroyo is now congresswoman, and new leaders are handling the coffers of a rich province. No one knows what would happen in the next three years. Being part of the huge team that runs the capital of Pampanga, I am hopeful that something good will come (since the anti-corruption czar won as president) and, as my best friend always says – Everything will be OK.

A Truckload of Stupidity

This is about “Ordinance 261 (An Ordinance Regulating the Hauling and Transporting of Sand, Gravel, and other Quarry Materials), which aims to prevent commercial quarry trucks from overloading sand by instituting measures like reducing truck height, removal of truck axle, among others.”

Quarrying has been a big issue for the people of Pampanga. The quarry business became a big hit since Pinatubo erupted. Billions of pesos are earned by the provincial government because of the said activity, and now, everyone wants a piece of the expensive cake!

Even before the assumption of Ordinance 261, many politicians have been bullying governor-elect Ed Panlilio. The wrath of greedy Kapampangans who are hungry for power and money do everything they can to oust the provincial head. Fr. Ed doesn’t lack leadership qualities. Instead, he doesn’t have that ‘Pinoy politician (trapo)’ factor – corrupt and evil.

Obviously, the ordinance is for the good of all. With its implementation, roads will not be battered, accidents will be prevented, and quarry activity shall be regulated. But the minds of the people against the good government of Fr. Ed aren’t in favor of something that will benefit the Kapampangan people. Backed-up by powerful groups (who are craving to get their share of money from the people’s fund), these truck drivers made a fool out of themselves (they reached the point of banging the door of the governor’s office and conducting nonsense protests since last year).

2010 is fast approaching. Isn’t it clear that old politicians are just pushing the limits to regain control of the Capitol and use the billions of money saved by the present governor to run their campaign machinery? In 2007, Kapampangans were so proud of choosing Fr. Ed over a movie star and a gambling lord. Now, the people should be enlightened regarding the situation.

There may be flaws in the leadership of the priest-turned-governor, but what is the use of protests? What can we get from biased dialogues? Let the governor finish his term and let ‘common sense’ reign.

About Trees and November Stuff

About Trees

06-05-30_3771The volume of vehicles along McArthur highway’s San Fernando strip is getting heavier each day. Aside from annoying passenger jeepneys, the number of reckless motorcycle drivers and big speedy trucks is increasing, too. Although I am so pessimistic about the current road situation, I still see a little spark of hope. One solution: cut down trees! Okay, so a lot of locals are having second thoughts on killing the decades-old acacias bordering the San Fernando-Angeles City stretch of McArthur Highway. But human lives are more important than Joyce Kilmer’s poem right?

At first, I didn’t get the point of removing the trees. When I was a kid really loved passing along the highway and appreciate the greenery. But through the years, two lanes are not enough to accommodate vehicles passing through McArthur Highway. Now that I am one of the daily motorists traversing this highway, I realized how dangerous these trees are. From the local news I heard that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is planning to widen the road but the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) is blocking this plan. DPWH has to remove all the trees so they can add two additional lanes. I feel the need for a wider road because the area is becoming more accident-prone. The number of vehicles doubled since its last extensive widening (APEC 1996 if I’m not mistaken).

My idea is to create a park similar to central park in Manhattan (oh! I smell Sex and the City) and let McArthur Highway serve its purpose – a safe and accessible haven for motorists.

November Stuff

Here’s a recap of my November:
– I express my disgust over the 2009 Starbucks planner
– Last November 16, we already turned our Christmas lights on signalling the start of the holidays (and the increase of our electric bill). I love my new Supernova phone.
– Special thanks to my new companion vis-a-vis driving instructor, Butch Ortiz
– I’m excited about the launching of “Cradle” magazine
– 2 “Ferrari” keychains to go before I complete the set of Shell’s cool collectibles!

(Photo of McArthur Highway taken from

Threat to Tradition

“Sorry to inform you – per our understanding with Apu Ceto [Archbishop Paciano Aniceto] and Msgr. Serrano [San Fernando, Pampanga], the usual violin group playing during Good Friday’s procession will not participate this evening. FYI. Thank you and regards.”
– Forwarded SMS from my violin teacher, Mr. Meynardo G. Lansangan from Dave Jimenez (March 21, 2008, 8:32AM)

My First Stabat Procession (March 29, 2002)It was supposed to be my seventh year to join the Mater Dolorosa procession during Good Friday and I was astonished that this yearly tradition will not push through this year. To my disappointment, I contacted my fellow violinist who is my schoolmate in UST and he was saddened by the news as well. Renowned local music mentor here in Pampanga and my violin teacher, Mr. Meynardo G. Lansangan, was also surprised on the decision of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga regarding postponement of the violin-playing which is on its 56th year.

‘Stabat Mater,’ a classical piece made for several voices in violin accompanied by a Latin prayer sung by a chorale is annually played during the Good Friday Procession around the City Proper of San Fernando, Pampanga. Tourists and locals join the five-kilometer route of the procession which starts and ends at the Metropolitan Cathedral. At around 5:30 in the afternoon, after the Mass celebrated by the Archbishop and after the popular Crucifixion Rites in Cutud, all roads lead to the Cathedral for the said procession. One of the highlights is the ‘Stabat Mater’ violin-playing accompanied by the Metropolitan Cathedral Choir.

Playing Stabat Mater for Archbishop Paciano Aniceto (March 29, 2002) In the past six years that I have been playing the violin for Mater Dolorosa, I have been aware of what the tradition is really about. It has become a ‘panata,’ or a show of faith. I am one of the youngest violinists playing ‘Stabat Mater’ taught by Mr. Lansangan. The other violinists include influential local artists and society figures in Metro Pampanga like Dave Jimenez, Pat Esguerra, and Atty. Cicero Punsalan. Younger violinists come from families of good moral standing to whom the Stabat Mater piece was handed down; these include young professionals who earned degrees from UST and UP Conservatory of Music, students from local Catholic schools, overseas professionals, families coming from as far as Nueva Ecija, and college graduates from Manila, all of whom come home to San Fernando every Good Friday to play the violin for Our Lady of Sorrows.

Did not meet halfway
Last March 21, 2008, I invited a friend from Manila to join the procession, expecting that I was going to play the violin. Although I was already informed that the violin-playing will not push through, I still went to the Cathedral at around 3:00 in the afternoon to hear mass. I brought my violin just in case a miracle happens and I will still play ‘Stabat Mater.’

At around 5pm, the ‘karosas’ and the people were all getting ready for the procession. My friend and I stayed in Church and waited for any news regarding Stabat. I waited there and no one came. It turned out that my fellow violinists were all in the nearby town of Guagua.

Ms. Shirley, who is in charge of the committee for the procession explained that there has been a misunderstanding between the leaders of the violinists and the Msgr. Serrano, Parish Priest of San Fernando. The elder members of the violin group requested for a ‘truck’ because they cannot play the violin while walking several kilometres. In fact, for the past two years (2006 and 2007) this has been the practice. But with the new plans, it was agreed upon that all violinists should walk, just like the way it was practiced 50 years ago.

An uncompromising deal followed, wherein problems of the Metropolitan Cathedral Choir was mentioned. The noise and smoke of the truck were disturbing for the choir members. On the other hand, the elder violinists insisted that they cannot walk anymore because two of them had undergone bypass heart surgery and three of them are already weak.

Options left closed
Stabat is also played in nearby towns of San Fernando and every locality has its own version. Other parishes allow another mode of transport called the ‘Tri-Wheeler’ for old violinists so that they can still join the procession. It is a noise and smoke-free vehicle that can be used. Another town had a ‘recorded’ Stabat because no one can play the music live. The use of the elf truck was another option which was already done in the past two years but this has posed problems. None of the options were taken into consideration.

Not broken for now

Alone playing Stabat for Mater Dolorosa (March 21, 2008)When I joined the procession at 6PM of Good Friday 2008, I had my violin encased in a back pack and I immediately went near Mater Dolorosa. One tourist asked me, “Ikaw na lang ba ang natirang nag-va-violin (Are you the only one left to play the violin?).” I plainly said that the violin-playing will not push through. But then, the President of the Metropolitan Cathedral Choir approached and asked me to play the first note of Stabat. The Latin prayer couldn’t be sung by the choir without an accompaniment. At first I didn’t want to because I know it would not sound good without the other voices of the violin, but they needed the melody. I opened my violin case and started playing Stabat. The choir sang, and I, alone, played the violin for Mater Dolorosa. Every after ten Hail Marys, one Stabat is played. I continued until the end of the procession. The tradition was not broken.

“God’s AM to you! Thank you Earl for standing up for your conviction and panata. At the end of the day, it is between you and God. May your tribe increase.”
– Ma’am Shirley, head of the committee on the Good Friday Procession (SMS Message March 22, 2008, 7:41AM)

Stop the threat
Every misunderstanding and differences should be set aside especially when tradition is involved. Moreover, the Good Friday Stabat Mater Violin-playing is offered to God and to Mater Dolorosa. I am very concerned because after the incident, there were rumors that Stabat will never be played in San Fernando again. The elder violinists are planning to move the tradition to nearby towns or other parishes. Personally, I am a Fernandino and I will start and end my panata for the Mater Dolorosa here in my own city.

(Photos are personal copies of the author)


May 18 was the proudest day of my life as a Kapampangan.

In the last few weeks of March, my parents decided to support a priest named Eddie Tongol Panlilio to be the Governor of our province. They joined his crusade for change and had been active in campaigning him. I never knew his name, nor his background, compared to two other powerful contenders – Pampanga jueteng lord’s wife Lilia Pineda and popular actor-turned-quarry-king Mark Lapid. All I knew was that ‘Among Ed’s’ name was clean. His posters tagged ‘Yes to a GOOD Kapampangan leader.’

By April, more and more supporters joined Among Ed in his crusade. While Pineda was giving away tons of money and Lapid had his publicity stunt on TV, Among Ed’s supporters grew stronger. The advocates’ voices reached nationwide newspapers (Headlined in Philippine Daily Inquirer twice) and were quoted around the world. Will this spark a new change in the way Filipinos choose their leaders?

GMA 7 has been keen in reporting what was happening in Pampanga. This so-called ‘new politics’ has been focused during their coverage dubbed as ‘Eleksyon 2007.’ I glued my eyes on TV, waiting for updates. During their quick count, Among Ed was on the lead. When Mike Enriquez told her co-anchor ‘Will this be the change we are waiting for? Will this serve as an example to other places?” [not exact words]; Mel Tiangco answered: “Wish ko lang.” [How I wish.] And Mel’s Wish came true.

By 3:00 in the afternoon of May 18, Pineda was leading the polls at the Bren Guiao Convention Center. It was too early to tell the winner because there were still two municipalities and one city waiting to be tallied (including my home city, San Fernando). At exactly 6:30PM, it was official. Fr. Ed Panlilio won against Pineda and Lapid.

We rushed to the convention center wearing white shirts with buttons saying ‘Edaku Asali’ (I cannot be bought). I saw a lot of colleagues from high school, teachers, doctors, politicians, and others who believe in an honest, clean and good government for the people of Pampanga. Our bishop, Paciano Aniceto, celebrated a mass for him right after. I was there. And during that night, I felt so proud.

One thing was proven, we Kapampangans have conscience. Our votes cannot be bought, and we are educated enough to put into power the rightful ones, not those who seek power for money or popularity.

O balen, tikdo na ka
Lundag na ka, Gulisak ka
Itamu ngan, agnan agnan

Kapampangan ku
Daya ampong kaladua ku
Sese naku ning Ginu
Miyabe abe tamu!
– Kapampangan Ku sung by Nanette Inventor & Michael de Mesa