WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Academe on Mindanao

DAVAO CITY -- The 1st Mindanao Studies Conference held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel last 26-27 February 2007 was for many of us a welcome respite from the classroom. It was, for once in quite some time, an opportunity for me to just be a participant in a public forum, reveling in the free exchange of ideas coming from what one of the speakers debatably characterized as "the best minds in Mindanao." Elitist. Tsk, tsk. Deluded, too.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Gail Ilagan’s “zoo time”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 December) --  Baby Boy Smith must be regretting the fateful Halloween night when he forgot ocontain himself. Since his arrival there, he's like the newest prize monkey at the Makati City Zoo, I mean, Jail.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 December) -- It blew. Third time this year. Maintaining this PC is eating into my budget for recurrent expenses.
It actually makes me wonder about my resurging electrical conductance, which I first noticed when I entered adolescence. Mom assured me then that there was nothing scary about it. She said it was in my blood. It had gone dormant for many years, though I would have problems sometimes working electrical devices. It has gotten so that I count the technical services people and the audio-visual room personnel among my best pals at work. 

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: The seven-year itch

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 December) -- More like a swan song. It’s telling me it’s time to move on.|
And it's not
seven. It’s only been six years actually that I’ve labored on the Tambara, the official journal of the Ateneo de Davao University. Those six years have been a rewarding learning experience. Six years of turning out what has probably become the best academic journal from this part of the country. No idle boast. We have the congratulatory commendations to prove it.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Banking on Christmas

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 December) -- On the last banking day before Christmas, we crowded into Land Bank in Claveria. Checking in at 11:00 am, the guard gave me priority number 464. The tellers were then serving 125. 

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Too long have they tarried

“You got a house?” I asked.

He nods assent.

“What’s in your kitchen?” I pursued.

“What’s NOT in my kitchen,” he enlightens me.

“I’ll get you a rice cooker,” I said.

“Oh, no. Someone’s giving that already.”

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: On a wing and a prayer

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 December) -- The touchstone slab felt smooth and solid to the touch as I laid my hand on it in passing. How Arthurian. Touch the stone and send up your prayer. Flyboys are a superstitious lot, and deeply spiritual in their individual ways. You have to be to defy gravity for a living. 

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Take to the highway

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 Nov) -- Wanderlust. I could feel it niggling at the soles of my feet.
So early in the week, I took a road trip to Maguindanao and North Cotabato with pit stops at Bansalan, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato City, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Ampatuan, Isulan, Buluan, Tacurong City, Sultan sa Baronguis, Tulunan, Makilala, and Kidapawan City. It was a leisurely two days that I tracked the highway to see what I could see.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: The pain of being a woman

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 November) -- St. Scholastica's College is celebrating its first century in the Philippines. A hundred years ago, women's education was considered  important enough to be catered to with care and utmost consideration. A hundred years later, St. Scholastica's College is still going strong in undertaking its mission for relevant education.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 Nov) -- "Malaki na raw ang pinagbago ng akusado sa Subic rape case na si Daniel Smith…" said the idiot in the box. She goes on to report that Smith now has a Filipino spiritual adviser. Put together two and two, and may the force be with you. Barf. The idiot hopes perhaps that her patter would make you miss asking the obvious: "Bakit kaya kinailangan ni Smith magbago?"


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / November 17) -- The occasion was momentous enough to call for a temporary end to my boycott of commercial TV. Combined elements of the Philippine National Police and the Criminal Investigation Detection Group, about 30 of them - though some estimates went as high as 50 - had caught up with the self-described ‘resident adviser of failed coup attempts in the Philippines’. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, former Philippine Army colonel, former senator, forever the ‘face of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement’, was ignominiously nursing a fractured left foot and a deeply gashed right foot at a Muntinlupa hospital. It looks like he is going nowhere at the moment.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: The eyes of a child

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 November) -- A few days before we had to go back to school, my daughter Sage was very concerned that it was supposed to be sem break and I was not getting any rest. I used the break to work on my grad school requirements and to catch up on the editing of articles for the journal. Ever the sweetheart, Sage asked me to give her something to do that would help me.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Oh where, oh where can he be?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 November) -- Three years ago, he was a fresh-faced political science freshman who dozed through most of my meticulously prepared lectures. I did not mind so much because he would ace my exams. Maybe he just took in lectures that way. He was pretty much participative when my instructional methodology called for active student participation.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Stressing the point

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/2 Nov) -- Two questions from readers. But first, let me share someone’s funny reaction: What’s a nice girl like you doing analyzing the physiology of kidnapping? To that I say, “Ha ha.”


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 Oct) -- At lunch with a friend, the topic of children who had been abandoned - literally or figuratively - came up. My friend has for years now played avuncular support to nephews and nieces whose parents are abroad or have gone separate ways. His home provides food and shelter to a parade of adolescents.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: The hammering heart

DAVAO CITY -- Researching stress for a course paper in physiological psychology, I turned up some interesting information on recent trends in measuring stress. Here's a fascinating take from Bruce K. Siddle, author of the book titled Sharpening the Warrior's Edge. This has got me wanting to go around scaring people so I could put Siddle's findings to the test.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 October) -- "Oh no," Aliah wailed, "I'm slipping to the right."  It was her third hour perched precariously at the back of a motorcycle whizzing up and down the rocky mountain road. She had yet to get the hang of it.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Public persecutor

DAVAO CITY -- Some lawyers contend that representing rape victims is a very
iffy proposition. You come at it prepared to fight to the death for the
lady's virtue and dignity, and she turns around and drops the case – this,
after you would have sweated buckets of blood in defense of your client's


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 October) -- He wears white all the time. Well, every time I see him anyway. 
He teaches Criminal Law at the ADDU (Ateneo de Davao University) and sometimes I'd bump into him in the hallway, the stairs or the parking lot. More often than not, we'd stop to exchange a friendly word or light banter. He's the kind of guy who loves to share a laugh with whoever is convenient. I come away light of heart every time from my chance encounters with him.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: A Cinderella story

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 September) -- Time stops for no one and life is for living. There is little sense in trying to freeze the moment, because you know it can't be done. That's why I almost never stop to have my picture taken. I only pose to be polite, and never if I can help it.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Write here, write now

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 Sep) -- First off, some errata need to be made on that last article that came out on this column. My apologies. I submitted that to the Bong Eliab who, as Assistant to the University President, deemed it proper for the ADDU to put out a puff piece on Mac Tiu on the occasion of his winning the 2005 National Book Award for history. What I turned in to meet the deadline was a first draft, the details of which had yet to be validated by Mac who did not answer in time because he was out of text load.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Reconstructing History the Macario Tiu Way

The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.-  Oscar Wilde

How History Shapes Beliefs

Prior to becoming the 1st century Roman historian Flavius Josephus,Joseph
ben Mattathias was a Jewish soldier who was captured in Galilee when
Vespacian's troops assaulted Jerusalem. Condemned to die by execution, he
stayed the Roman hand when he foretold that Vespacian would one day become
emperor. This came to pass. In appreciation, Vespacian granted him Roman
citizenship. In gratitude, Flavius Josephus wrote for the Romans.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: In the heat of the night

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 September) -- Indie writer-producer Raymond Lee was certainly kidding when he said Angelo Ilagan, who plays the lead role in his Cinemalaya offering of Sarong Banggi (literally meaning One Night), is my long-lost son. He can't be. Hindi ho ako maaga naglandi to have a son three years older than my Liane.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 September) – The message came in at 5:12 pm, 31 August 2006. It baldly read, "My buk gets national buk award."
"Yes! I am so proud of you!" I texted back. I imagine Mac texting me the very first minute he could find a quiet space to share his newfound victory. That would have been all the press release he'd put out himself. Now it was up to me. The trust is well founded, I think. It's no secret that I am his number one fan.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 August) – "You know what the ironic thing about working overseas is? You actually get to be more patriotic."
"Why is that?"
"I never thought about how I felt about our country and our people. Not like you. All these years, I feared you'd someday worry yourself sick seeking answers to matters of fact."


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 August) --  It was the first Year of the Horse of my life this time around when I first decided I wanted to write. I agreed that year to join a provincial essay writing competition sponsored by the now-defunct Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. Eagerly, I sat me down in a classroom along with 20 other competitors to craft within two hours a 600-word essay on the role of the Filipino youth in nation building. I remember how much I enjoyed the easy flow of words and the automatic way with which I was tracking how much longer I had to go. In my youthful innocence, pressure and stage fright were terms I had yet to work into my vocabulary.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 Aug) -- In celebration of its 30th year of service to the Southern Mindanao community, the Davao Medical School Foundation, Inc. (DMSFI) put together its first research journal dedicated to health research and development. Last June, the editorial board invited me to sit as editorial consultant on this maiden trip to the printing press. This is not the first time for me to work with DMSFI. Last year, we also helped them put together a magazine to showcase the endeavors of the Institute of Primary Health Care. That opportunity introduced me to the ongoing efforts for community health development that need to be documented. Their enthusiasm for the project got to me, and because I am eternally curious as to what others are doing, I agreed. In particular, I wanted to see if a creditable journal could be put out from scratch and on a shoestring budget in less than seven weeks.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Of strong women and weak men

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 August) -- Some time back when I was still somewhat in touch with the rest of the world, a virtual acquaintance on the alibata e-forum wrote to the effect that a society's view of women is reflected in how it accepts gays. In our society today where to be out of the closet does not any more carry the kind of social stigma it did two generations back, I guess it implies that women are actually exalted in our time. Seen in that light, it makes sense why now we got a lot more guys singing "This boy has turned into a woman.”



DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 July) -- Whoever started this talk about teachers being second parents to their students surely meant that to apply only to the orphans who sit in their class. No fit parent needs a second. It would do teachers a world of good to concentrate on being teachers and being the best they could be at it rather than diffuse their efforts by holding down distracting multiple tasks, some of which are really uncalled for and totally unnecessary. I think it is presumptuous of teachers to assume the role of second parents. It is, at the very least, an insult to real parents.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 July) --As war in Mindanao again threatens to break wide open following a seemingly last-ditch attempt of the current administration to keep the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) loyal to it, it is perhaps fitting that we reflect on the effects of war on the ones who wish it least. Oh, yes, children wish it least. Ask the surviving Lost Boys of Sudan. Most of the data that follow were taken from the studies done by Geraldine Janier-Arendain and Andy Villa on children caught in armed conflict situations in Cotabato and in the Paquibato district, this city.


DAVAO CITY -- Three years ago, young Dadong of the Matigsalog tribe sat in my class, his dusky face mirroring quiet confusion as I lectured on the fundamentals of psychology in straight English, as was required by the criteria on the faculty evaluation form used by the committee on instruction to rate teachers during classroom visitation.


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 July) -- "Mom, wake up! This will only take a minute. You don't have to get up."

Eight-year-old Sage's voice whispered with hushed excitement against my ear. I could smell her sweet hair as she nuzzled me gently awake. I cracked one eye open in the predawn light and reached out an arm to draw her close. She rewarded me with a snuggle.

"Look out the window, Mom."


DAVAO CITY -- Don't look now, but Baby Boy Smith wants the judge to believe that he must be one hell of a lover. He has a hard time fighting off women who can't wait to get a piece of him. They're falling all over him like a ton of bricks. For his security, he has to have with him three buddies at least - products of the Marines boot camp where boys are turned into strapping men - to help him fight off sex-crazed females who can't keep their hands off his mouth-watering body. Smith really doesn't want to be treated like a sex object with all the inconvenience that go with it. See him go around with a condom to protect himself. Okay, you convinced us, boy. Go convince the judge.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: The communist threat

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 June) -- Fellow MindaViews columnist Elson Elizaga, serious artist, unintended humorist (most times anyway), and unflinching activist for cultural heritage conservation, recently emailed me a thank you. In explanation, he gave me back my own words to haunt me:

To write is to be all consumingly self-absorbed. To go public is to set yourself up in the line of unfriendly fire from those out on a moral crusade who won't be able to take the shape of your soul. But in the end, you get to claim who you are. And that, I think, is all that matters.



  By Gail Ilagan/MindaNews


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 May) -- ADDU math professors Gina Lapaza-Montalan and Evelyn Beatisula share one thing in common -- they cannot do automatic arithmetic operations. Evelyn says she has to use a calculator. Gina says she can't beat the vendor at mentally computing how much she needs to pay or how much change she's got coming at the wet market.  And yet, Evelyn gets to heaven lost in the beauty of higher math. Some years back, I audited graduate school statistics under Gina, and I can attest that she is the best math teacher I've ever had. She makes math so understandable, bringing up her students' ability to make appropriate judgment on the tools to use given the objective. She can do that because she really understands math.  

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Education is for liberation

(Speech delivered before the 23rd Buklod Atenista Leaders' Summit on 24 May 2006).

DAVAO CITY (Gail Ilagan/MindaNews/25 May) -- It is a distinct pleasure to address the 23rd Buklod Atenista Leaders' Summit and see bright young people come together to draw a measure of their shared reality. Community building begins with the individuals' acknowledgment of being party to a common experience and seeking to understand what the nature of that experience is in order to clarify and define one's involvement and commitment to leadership.