23 May 2009

My blogs

Simply put, blogging is addictive. I have five blogs, two of which are fast asleep, two barely breathing, and one awake and much too active.

The terribly active blog, which keeps me busy for a couple of hours a day, appeals only to writers and critics. Named LOL Literatures in Other Languages, the blog focuses on multilingual or mixed-language literary texts. I am trying to invent a literary theory that, until I think of a more catchy name, is called Multilingual Literary Criticism (MLC).

I have, so far, gotten the interest of polyglots that write texts not in their mother tongue (such as Cuban-Americans, expatriate Europeans, and Filipinos) or critics that are appalled at the lack of interest among literary scholars in the tradition of macaronic verse.

Although the most pressing need for MLC is for those reading mixed-language texts, which have become fashionable lately, I am arguing that even apparently monolingual texts are actually mixed-language. I took my cue from two writers who gave the same insight into their own works, but without knowing that the other had said it, too.

N.V.M. Gonzalez, in a lecture that I attended in California, declared to his American audience, “I write in Tagalog, using English words.” Bienvenido N. Santos, talking to me in Manila, said, “I write in Capampangan, using English words.” The two writers made an impression on me that has refused to go away. I now think that Philippine writers in English write in Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano, or whatever vernacular is their mother tongue, using English words.

By suggesting that Cuban-American writers write in Spanish, using English words, I have, so far, gained the interest of many Cuban-American writers, who agree that they “think in Spanish but write in English.” My European readers (bloggers call them “followers”) are less convinced; many of them do not know in which language they think, because they grew up with more than one mother tongue.

Sometimes wide awake but often on its siesta is my second blog, this one, Critic-at-Large, in which I put all sorts of stuff – sometimes my old columns, sometimes my speeches, sometimes position papers by the various groups I belong to.

In a blog, followers often engage in heated discussions related to a blog entry. One comment I made on Nikki Coseteng’s Diliman Preparatory School continues to generate widely-divergent opinions on the school’s experiments in basic education. The comments sometimes border on the libelous, so I often exercise my right as moderator not to upload extreme views. Despite my censorship, there are still more than 140 comments on that particular blog entry.

My other blogs are the barely breathing Filipino, the sleeping Philippine Fulbrighters, and the fast asleep Manila Critics Circle. The Fulbright blog will soon wake up, because I will upload the transcribed First Fulbright Seminar, which was on corruption. The MCC blog will also get up soon, because I will upload, as soon as they are available, the titles of the shortlisted books for the 2008 awards.

(Published in The Philippine Star, 14 May 2009)

02 May 2009

FSGO on Jun Lozada


We, the Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO), condemn in the strongest terms the arrest of Engineer Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, over flimsy and concocted perjury charges filed by PNR General Manager Michael T. Defensor against him. His arrest stands in stark contrast to the freedom and impunity enjoyed by such allies of the current regime accused of far greater offenses -- Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, Benjamin Abalos, Romulo Neri, Hernando B. Perez, Virgilio Garcillano, Jesus Martinez, Eliseo dela Paz, and others of similar notoriety.

The minions of the current regime find it all too easy to persecute to the fullest all those who expose its abuses, and oppose its corruption and bad governance. Whistleblowers are harassed and hounded, even as obvious prevaricators and practitioners of corruption are protected, promoted, and highly rewarded. What kind of message do we thus send to our people -- that good is punished and evil rewarded?

How have we as a people come to this state of things?

We call on Mike Defensor to stop posturing as if he is the aggrieved person, even as he was clearly a participant in the cover-up of what became an aborted abduction of Jun Lozada. What moral values does he hope to impart to his young children with his vain and obstinate defense of injured pride, while participating in the cover-up of gross abuses against our people and our laws?

Jun Lozada’s persecution demonstrates how truth has been sacrificed at the altar of immoderate greed. We enjoin all sectors of our society to protest Lozada’s incarceration in the strongest terms, and show to the world that we are not helpless in fighting for our rights and freedoms, that we have not, as a people, surrendered to evil.