WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Hair, there, and elsewhere by Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY -- Home a couple of hours before midnight. My 12-year-old daughter Sage pulls out her hair and drops it on a basin of...

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: War Wounded. By Gail Ilagan

A few days back, in Mawab, Compostela Valley, a detachment commander apparently lost emotional control after figuring in a domestic dispute with his wife. He took his government-issued M14 and opened fire on non-combatants, some of whom were his neighbors and some of whom were just unfortunate to have been passing by.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Stars and stripped Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 June) -- Understand that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is an institution tasked with the serious job of assuring utmost...

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Battle scarred. ByGail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 May) -- Middle of this week, Dr. Orange Lozada and I were up in the muddy, misty mountains of Mawab in...

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: A radical solution. By Gail Ilagan/MindaNews

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 June) -- The progressive economic crunch has forced many quality schools to adopt an open admission policy for their own survival. There are two ways to go from there: one, the school also lowers its standards to maximize cohort survival of an increasingly heterogeneous mix of students; or two, teachers have to adjust teaching strategies to bring the competencies of less prepared students up to a level that would allow them to deal with college material.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 May) --  It's official: Randy Felix P. Malayao, 39, had been arrested for the murder of an ex-military-man-turned-Governor.

I'm moving back nineteen years ago, imagining myself crossing the hall to the Ang Mangingisda newsroom and announcing that to a lanky kid who had a poet's eyes. Or maybe I'd find that lanky kid with the eyes of a poet in the LFS office two doors down. That was Randy then.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Two men on a lazy Saturday afternoon. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 May) -- They both wear easy the weight of authority. I'm talking about the CSAFP (Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) LtGen. Alexander B. Yano and the National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera. Last Saturday, they were both in town.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. All about money. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 May) -- On a road trip some weeks back, we detoured for a brief stop at an Army camp in the Visayas. That was where I first heard about the program for cash incentives to combat units to clear their areas of responsibility of all enemy fronts and insurgent influence. The troops I talked to didn’t think the plan was in any way surprising. In fact, maybe it was old hat for them. This was after all part of the Central Command where the present model being applied in expanded version to the whole of the Army organization was first applied and – quote, unquote – found to be effective.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. Word Wars. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 April)  -- The maverick warrior brings to mind this romantic figure of a lone samurai quietly riding away tall and true, leaving vanquished in his wake the malevolent forces that bedeviled a community of lesser beings. He rides off into the gray sunset. Gone to parts unknown. Someday, when there will be a need for him, he will be back.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. At the end of the day. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 April) -- Crash courses kept my nose in a daily grind in the last two weeks. Not until laggard undergrad students kept barraging me with frantic inquiries about their incomplete grades did I notice that they were already enrolling for the summer term. Nope, I did not have the time to go through late submissions. They just kept piling up on my desk and in my email inbox.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Color me Quink. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY  (MindaNews/18 March) -- It was a purple flower in full bloom, its delicate petals so thin and silky.

“What is it called?” asked Perpy.

“Is it real?” asked Penny.

“It’s real,” I said, holding out for all to see the stalk that had been cut diagonally. The inside showed succulent green. Like celery for tuna salad. 

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Law and behold. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 March) -- On 8 March 2008, psychologists, therapists, social workers, counselors, students, curriculum developers, and other interested sectors including lawyers and non-government workers from Davao, Kidapawan, and South Cotabato met at the Ateneo Grade School for a forum on Republic Act 9258. Better known as the Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004, RA 9258 professionalizes the practice of guidance counseling in the Philippines. The main speaker at the forum was Dr. Allan B.I. Bernardo, president of the Psychological Association of the Philippines.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. A mouthful of Pichay. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 Feb) -- Pamati.

That was the first thing that came to my mind as I watched GMA sycophant Prospero Pichay analyzing the body language of Rodolfo Lozada from the grainy footage taken by the MIA camera. When, pray tell, did Pichay become a psychologist?

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Blind man’s bluff. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 February) --  According to some soldiers who are familiar with Sulu, Barangay Ipil in Maimbung is a preferred transit point of the Abu Sayyaf because it is difficult for soldiers to corner them there. Topography does not provide cover for troops in pursuit, giving bandits enough time to mount resistance or to escape. There continue to be sightings of high-valued ASG elements in Barangay Ipil. In recent years, the village served as a transshipment point for the Sipadan hostages and on another occasion a kidnapped missioner was recovered there. But it is more the norm for troops pursuing the ASG to come out from Barangay Ipil empty-handed.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. Probinsyanong Insik. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 Feb)-- Fight or flight, posture or submit. Much is known about the first two from psychology textbooks. These are instincts that kick in when an individual registers threat. There is no arguing with instincts.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. Slow lane. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 February) -- Three weeks after surgery, my luck ran out. A viral infection felled me. It was the kind that one could not just shrug off and walk away from. It got me down on my back counting the watermarks on the ceiling, thinking about what my friend Rex Rola said when he caught me ambulating down the corridors of ADDU two weeks after the doctor allowed me out: “You can only tempt Fate so much, supergirl.”

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: A wedding in the family. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 January) -- When I was Liane’s age – all of fourteen – my eldest sister came home with a 7-week-old baby. His name was Mark and he was the prettiest little thing I ever did see. My folks agreed because as soon as my sister was well enough, they convinced her to leave the baby with us and go back to Manila to start a career. Fresh out of college, my sister had married a soldier and the baby had come soon after. Her husband was still in the service and was getting provincial assignments. They had agreed that being a career military wife was not to be my sister’s destiny.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: An issue of control

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 December) --   Six years ago, I had my gallbladder taken out. But the ultrasound prior to the operation also showed that I had abnormal polyps growing around my uterus. Well, my doctors opened me up, sliced away the gallbladder and diligently cauterized those uterine lumps. When I woke up, they triumphantly declared that they were able to save my reproductive system. A word of warning though: the myoma could recur.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: The walking 3-grammer. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 Dec) -- "Does this hurt?" asked my gynecologist, Dr. Elmer Chua, as he applied pressure somewhere in my nether region. I had to think hard whether that touch qualified as pain. Reluctantly, I said, "That's kind of uncomfortable. I can't tell if it's pain."

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. Clueless. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 Nov). Let’s join us.

And the people said no.

Senator-elect Antonio Trillanes IV shouldn't play poker. He doesn't know how to wait for the right cards. He is, as I said before, a loose cannon who endangers not only himself but other people besides. Does he care? Obviously not.

He wanted his presscon so bad, but he did not want to hold it in the Makati Trial Court restroom where the reporters ganged up on him. The man has pretensions at class. It was the Manila Peninsula down the road or bust.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Writing from Mindanao. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 November) -- While I was out, the printers delivered the newest edition of the Tambara, the official journal of the Ateneo de Davao University.

Pretty. Yeah, as member of the editorial team, the latest Tambara looks like something I can live with.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Kindness unexpected. By Gail Ilagan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 Nov) -- It's a cold, rainy night and I got company at the waiting shed on the parking lot of St. Luke's Medical Center along E. Rodriguez Avenue. I've been down here three times already since 9:00 tonight and they're still here.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 November) --  “Who do I talk to if Daddy sends Catherine away?!!” wailed my distraught ten-year-old as we watched my husband trying to lure the cats into the trunk of the car. Mama Cat just had another litter and it looked like hubby has had enough.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 October) -- "We share the same birthday, Ma'm," the guy at the Registrar's Office said with a smile as he handed me my copy of grades.

"Cecile Pasino. LY Bernardino, too," I smiled back before glancing at the document he gave me. I almost dropped it when I saw the successions of 1.0 written on the column for grades earned in the last year. For a while there, I thought maybe he handed me someone else's grades. But no, that was my name alright written where the name of the student should be.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Lesson learned in Basilan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 July) -- No, this is not about how to get massacred in Ginanta, Tipo-tipo, Basilan. This is also not about why one has to shave one's hair as an expression of grief for one's fallen comrades. Most definitely, this is not about how to start a war.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Taken for a ride

DAVAO CITY (MIndaNews/12 July) -- "Ma'am, you teach at the Ateneo?"


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 July) -- Coming into my hideyhole, I saw that I had to share it with someone. Ah, well, it's a public place. People have as much a right as I have to be there.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 June) -- Manang Nympha's rag rack is witness to many interesting conversations one can strike up with people who stop by for a smoke. Nursing after-lunch coffee the other day, I got to talking to two former DENR guys who served in the forests of Compostela, Davao del Norte, and South Cotabato.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: The eleventh hour

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 June) -- My apologies for sending out that insensitive text message asking the recipients to individually confirm whether he was indeed assigned as security detail last Friday to ex-Navy LTSG Antonio Trillanes one-two-three-four in Roman numerals. I understand why some people in uniform won't ever reply to my text messages ever again. Grabe naman, ser, di naman kayo mabiro. I'm sorry if the recipients thought I was making tasteless allusions to the existence of so-called military death squads.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Where the Trill has gone

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 June) -- Some months back when the nation was getting ready for the May elections, word got around that Manolo Quezon put my name on his Dream Team for the Senate.  That earned me a lot of ribbing from all over. I come down the halls of the Ateneo, and some smart alec would be hailing me with a jaunty “Senadora!” Friends and fans sent me email and text messages promising to be my campaign manager if I would just run for office. It had gotten so that I saved a message to send back as a standard reply. It read: “Mangantyaw ka diay?!!”

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Over your shoulder for as long as you live

DAVAO CITY -- To my extreme disappointment, it seems like I have yet again misunderstood Philippine Army 1001st Infantry Brigade commander BGen. Carlos Holganza.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Fathers who mother

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews/29 May) -- Paddy's jubilant hail checked my mad dash across the street to the parking lot. The man seldom raises his voice. In fact, that was the only time I can remember that he raised decibels at me. That stopped me dead in my tracks.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: A summer wedding

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 May) -- Saturday after lunch found me sleeping off the hangover from the testosterone overdose I got the day before as a consequence of insinuating my presence among soldiers in their various camps. Talk about bearding the lion in his den. One does not come away unscathed from the experience, and especially if one happens to be sensitive to someone else's hormonal emissions.


CENTRAL LUZON (MIndaNews/22 May) -- Over the weekend, I traveled through Central Luzon at a time when the towns were erupting in celebratory euphoria over the election proclamations. I was on my way to Tarlac to attend a wedding, but the plains of Central Luzon beckoned. I figured I had the time to take detours and side trips so long as I got to where I was going by midnight Friday.


WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Lessons from Oakwood

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 May) --  I have never had the pleasure to meet any of the Oakwood mutineers.

So it was a pleasant event to find myself last week in possession of a 24-page discussion notes recently written by one of them on the subject of lessons to be learned from undertaking military intervention. They were delivered to me by someone who appreciates my inordinate interest on the subject of military rebellion.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 May) -- Time to turn the page on the calendar.

May. The month of weddings. 

Belatedly, I registered my agreement to be a principal sponsor to several weddings this month. As the first one drew near, I took a morning off to get the stuff a wedding ninang needs.


DAVAO CITY -- It was midnight when the bus let us off the terminal in Baguio. In Tarlac three hours earlier, we had learned that the hotel cancelled our reservation. Hubby spent the rest of the bus ride since then on the Internet on his phone and trying to find us a bed for the night. No luck.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Rethinking children of war

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 Apr) -- On Tuesday, 24 April 2007, I was invited by the Gabriela Women's Party, the Children Rehabilitation Center, and the Kabiba consortium of child rights advocates to a forum on children of war. The speaker would have been the Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights, but for some unexplained circumstance, he was not able to make it. The forum got underway an hour late with Honey May Suazo of the Kabiba, Caloy Zarate of the IBP, and me as a practicing psychologist on the panel of discussants.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 April) -- Let me begin with a quote from Rizalene P. Acac's article on page 2 of the 14 April 2007 Mindanao Times. It says: Brig. Gen. Carlos Holganza, commander of the 1001 st Infantry Brigade, said they are willing to apologize to the family of the victim if it is proven that "Grecil," a nine-year-old child is (sic) not a rebel.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: What about the truth?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 April) -- The tragic death of 9-year-old Grecil S. Buya at an encounter between our soldiers and the NPA last 31 March in New Bataan was an eye opener for me. It has shown me how much truth is sacrificed for convenience, for pride, and for propaganda. It has also shown me that our community does not expect our AFP, the media, and civil society groups to purvey truth other than in its creatively embellished form.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Death of a nine-year old

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 April) -- Virginia S. Buya and I have a lot of things in common. Both of us were born in a place that could qualify as Nowhere, Philippines. At a glance, we could pass for sisters with our brown skin, battered feet, broken nails and callused hands. Small-boned at barely five feet, we'd both be hard-pressed to nudge the arrow on the weighing scale past the 90-lb mark. 


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 April) -- Slate bursting to iridescent blue, the little dragonfly moved out from the shadows to hover in the sunlight playing on the minute silver crystals of dew trapped on fresh grass shoots growing at the edge of my walk. It was barely six in the morning of Tuesday and I was waiting for the ride that would take me to her. I would have gone Monday afternoon, but I heeded a sober voice that advised travel in the early morning instead. Getting to her would take four hours.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: They walk among us, and we let them

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 April) -- One percent of human beings, according to University of British Columbia psychology professor Robert Hare, registers no increased activity in the emotional areas of the brain when confronted with negative emotional words such as rape, murder, or torture. Hare and his colleagues take this to be among the indicators of psychopathy, which they define as the absence of a conscience.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Parenting from the heart

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 March) -- Kids don't stay infants forever. As our children grow, so too do their needs and capabilities. We owe it to them to adjust accordingly.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 March) -- If, like me, you have kids thirteen years old and younger, chances are you have watched your share of Walt Disney movies that distort history. Pocahontas and Mulan come to mind. And you probably enjoyed those, too.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Celebrating the alpha male

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 March) -- Three hundred thanks! Jesus, there is mercy in this world after all.

Alpha male galore. That "300" playing on local theaters this week is a must-see movie. The script is adequate, yes. A bit cheesy in parts – okay, not just a bit and not just in parts, but you can actually ignore the speeches. Must-see, I said. You can leave out the hearing part.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: In our small way

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 March) -- On 8 March 2007, on a day when I was expected to be at least in two other places, I heeded Jun Padilla's request to bring some of my studentsto the Davao Air Base for a cultural dialogue with his airmen and some guests from other AFP units.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / March 09) -- Close to midnight last February 2 found me sitting on the flowerbox outside Dencia's Restaurant along Juan Luna Street. In the dark with the gentle breeze blowing down the deserted street, I allowed myself the dangerous delusion that I was invisible.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/8 March) -- Close to midnight last February 2 found me sitting on the flowerbox outside Dencia's Restaurant along Juan Luna Street. In the dark with the gentle breeze blowing down the deserted street, I allowed myself the dangerous delusion that I was invisible.