A Filipina’s Happy Slip is Showing

For decades, actors of Asian descent have been trying make it big by breaking into mainstream Hollywood, usually with limited success. Thirty-one year old Christine Gambito, an American born to Filipino immigrants in Virginia, took a different route and achieved what others have been trying to do for years in only a matter of months…

Manila’s First Gentleman Stirs a Libel Hornet’s Nest

On the afternoon of November 13 last year, Mia Gonzales, a reporter for the Business Mirror in Manila, received an urgent phone call from a colleague working at the press office of the presidential palace. “Five policemen in plainclothes are here looking for you,” she was told. Taken by surprise, Mia called her office and…

Free Trade and the Filipino Maid

It takes a world of anger to push a Filipino domestic helper onto the streets of Hong Kong in protest. Her weekend lasts a single day, and she’s on-call or working for every waking moment of the rest. In recent years an eroded minimum wage has joined maids from various countries living here to feel…

Palawan’s Sea Gypsies Under Threat

Very few people outside the Badjao community on the Philippine island of Palawan speak their tribal language. But somehow, you just know what it means to hear someone shout “Shark! Shark!” in any language. I scramble up the boat’s armor, nearly tipping it over and making me feel like a 10-tonne elephant out of water.…

Philippine Elections Under Fire

Under normal circumstances, when fire destroys a decrepit, decades-old building already condemned as a fire hazard, people might jump to the logical conclusion – this was a disaster waiting to happen. But this is the Philippines. And two months before Election Day, the gutted building happens to be the office of the Commission on Elections…

Philippines Release Report on Political Killings

Responding to pressure from the United Nations and domestic critics, the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo relented Thursday and released an official report critical of the role of the Philippine military in a spate of murders of political activists. The release came a day after the UN Special Rapporteur on political killings had criticized…

Arroyo Backed into a Corner Over Assassinations

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may be on a collision course with her military establishment after she succumbed to international pressure Wednesday and ordered the release of a critical report into a continuing plague of political assassinations of leftist organizers. Following harsh criticism early in the day from a senior UN official over the killings,…

The Blood Politics of the Philippines

I am a warlord's daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, relative, and friend. On my bloodline I blame the deaths of hundreds of men in Abra. But I am powerless to undo what members of my clan have wrought. Many times I have cursed my forefathers for the tragedy of living in a place that is beautiful…

Flight Plans

In the end it was a minor incident, something that perhaps could be put down to crossed signals or miscommunication but when it came to light Sunday that a commercial airliner running out of fuel had to be diverted from landing in Manila because President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s official Lear Jet was preparing to take her…

Good Eats

By the time you get 45 kilometers up the potholed and traffic-choked Emilio Aguinaldo Highway into the Cavite highlands south of Manila, and your knuckles are locked onto the steering wheel so that your companions have to get the tire iron out of the boot to pry them off, it’s probably a good time to…