Monday, January 21, 2013


Lincoln's Son, TR Roosevelt's Father and Baguio's Lungs

All critical eyes in Hollywood are focused on the movie "Lincoln" directed by Stephen Spielberg with Daniel Day-Lewis as the great American President Abraham Lincoln. The legendary  dramatist Tony Kushner based his screenplay on "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The movie was nominated in 12 categories for the Academy Awards and already won as best picture in the recent Golden Globe Awards and best actor for Day-Lewis, among others.
The movie was about the last four months of Lincoln, up to his campaign to end slavery up to his assassination.
The stellar cast also includes Sally Field as wife, Mary Todd Lincoln; David Strathaim as his Secretary of State William Seward, Tommy Lee Jones as Republican Congress Leader Thaddeus Stevens and James Spader as William Bilbo.
It was, however, a former child actor who should interest Baguio residents because of the name recall of the role he plays in "Lincoln". James Cross acted in "Desperate Measures" and "Jack Frost" in 1998, when he was 12 years old. Then eight years in 2006, he played the author Augusten Burroughs in "Running with Scissors" and in 2008, played a gay activist in "Milk."
In Lincoln, he played the 20-something old personal secretary of Lincoln from 1861 to 1865. He not only carried the copy of Lincoln's now famous "Gettysburg Address" but actually stole the paper where it was written as his personal collection. Hay was Lincoln's confidante and companion in those tumultuous years. He was there at the Ford Theater when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. So I was even thinking: was Kushner finding a gay angle here with Lincoln and him
His name was John Milton Hay and the movie served as an introduction to one of the lesser-known (unless you're from Baguio) historical figures in US. After Lincoln, the young John Hay became the Secretary of State of William McKinley and then T.R. Roosevelt, who adored Hay's benevolent assimilation stand. Hay helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris after the Spanish-American War which ceded our country to the US. McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist and it is very possible that Hay was also an eyewitness.
But it was Lincoln whom Hay truly loved, even co-writing a ten-volume biography on Lincoln. When Roosevelt succeeded McKinley, John Hay was also taken in as State Secretary although he was already sickly then. It was through his advice that US agreed to purchase the Philippines for $20 million. By the way, John Hay was a poet. 
Among John Hay's legacy were the negotiation for the Treaty of Paris of 1898, Open Door Policy in China in 1900 and the preparations for the Panama Canal.
There is a new book on John Hay which is set to be published this year. Written by John Taliaferro, "All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt" will prove the importance of this unassuming man. This 672-page book is the first full-scale biography  of a man said to be a "son" of Lincoln and the "father" of T.R. Roosevelt.
Hay is one of the most pivotal figures in American public life. But, as Taliaferro writes, that is only half the story. He knew everybody from Mark Twain to Henry James, and every president and world leader. He was best friends with Henry Adams, and the two were in love with the same married woman, Lizzie Cameron, the Madame X of Washington Society.
Through Hay, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize and in gratitude, on October 25, 1903, President Roosevelt established a land in Benguet for a military reservation under the United States Army and called it the John Hay Air Base. It still remains as Camp John Hay under Filipino control and will probably hold that name for a long time.
In 1905, John Hay died and was buried in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Draining Burnham Lake

A survey said that most of the New Year's resolution is to lose weight. After all the Holiday parties, it is time to lose what we gained. January is the time to going back to normal, so to speak.
So when Baguio returns from its Holiday frenzy, what do we see?
More joggers than usual around Burnham Lake. But what happened to Burnham Lake? It has been dug up to make it deeper, so they said. It will be improved, is what the mayor and the congressman said.
The last time that the Burnham lagoon was made deeper and improved was less than 20 years ago, when the mayor and the congressman were the same. Before that, the lagoon which we endearingly called the Burnham Lake was untouched. The fountain had been there since the Postwar.
Instead of being improved, the lagoon in the 1990s became tacky and tawdry.  There is the patented Vergara-style faux pine trunks for the viewing place where no one hardly goes because it seemed so flimsy.
Because the backhoes then only dredged the sides of the lagoon, the center became the shallowest part. The lagoon lost its rustic charm and soon only the loonies, the religious zealots, the shoe shine boys, the pick-uppers, the hold-uppers and the lost were the ones frequenting the area.
And less than 20 years, they are back to "improving" and "rehabilitating" it.
The social media are full of comments about the political duo searching anew for the much-fabled Yamashita treasure which some "Japanese maps" said was buried in the lake. They said that the retreating Japanese army during WWII sunk tons of gold in the lagoon. Many believed this urban legend because of recent diggings also made at the Rose Garden and the Bayanihan Hotel.  And come to think of it, is that the rehabilitated Rose Garden? University of the Cordilleras, you are a partner to this rehabilitation: where are the roses and why does it look more like a half-baked parking lot than a garden?
But one commenter was more "sober" in his view. He said that the gold is not the Yamashita treasure but in the project itself.
Other than the Burnham dredging, other government infrastructure projects being rushed are the asphalting of Session Road, the rehabilitation of Leonard Wood, the road to Mt. Sto. Tomas and the Baguio circumferential road. What's with the rush?
As the commenter said, there's gold in dem projects. And why the timing? Go back three years ago, six, nine years ago and you have the answer. The circumferential road, for example, became an election issue 12 years ago and is again being revived.
Multiples of three means election season and the rush is NOT to achieve what they promised.  Their promises are far from these and were long since broken.
These government projects are being rushed so they can promise some more in their next terms of office. And it is within our means to stop them or let them continue. Otherwise we are like the fish of the Burnham Lake, living and dying as they wished. 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Greeting New Year with a bang

EXACTLY two years ago, Philippine Daily Inquirer had a scoop of sorts when they headlined a photo of a family posing for their annual New Year's eve. A typical photo you might say. But at the back is an "extra" or a photobomb, as the young people would term it now, a person or an animal who spoiled the whole shot. This photobomb in this picture is caught aiming his gun at the photographer. He killed him but he, too, was caught because of the photo, which eventually became an Internet sensation.
This New Year, Inquirer again had a photo scoop. Their Thursday issue had a photo of cousins again posing for their New Year's Eve shot. A typical photo you might say. But moments later, seven-year-old Stephanie Nicole, seen in the picture in an all-pink outfit, would be hit by a stray bullet. She eventually died days later. Her classmates last Friday staged a picket.
This would find parallel in the shooting of 20 schoolchildren in Connecticut a month ago. The traumatized pupils of Sandy Hook Primary School also returned to school last Wednesday, although they all transferred  to a nearby school.
United States may have a very high death rate due to gun injuries. The Center for Disease Control said that in 2011, there were about 32,000 deaths due to gun injuries. The figure was almost the same in the past five years before that.
In 2011, most of the cases (about 20,000) were suicide while a little more than 11,000 were homicide-related. 
We are nowhere near the US gun injuries rate, partly because "strict"  gun ownership and laws but we seem to be as irresponsible when it comes to gun ownership.  And we bare this irresponsibility so brazenly during the New Year revelries.
There were about 50 cases of killing or wounding by stray bullets in the Philippines at the end of 2012 and the start of 2013.
In the Cordillera, we had two such cases. In Lagangilang,  Abra, a 19-year-old girl was wounded on the right leg after being hit by a bullet in December 29. In Dagupan, Tabuk City, a 13-year-old boy was wounded in the left forearm last January 1.
These two teenagers were lucky in a way. Moving a few inches would have cost them their lives.
Many will argue that Abra and Tabuk City have gun culture, distinct in their places.  Having a gun is part of their identity, they would say, and no matter how many gun surrenders were made, they would still get guns.
But this should not be used as an excuse in firing indiscriminately, with or without Holidays.
Even the US is now scrambling for a more strict and restrictive gun ownership law, even if the right to bear arms is part of their Constitution.  They have now closely monitored the sale of guns and the background checking of the buyers.
In the Philippines, we have no definite figures on gun injuries much more on the ownership of guns. We do not know the number of guns being peddled around and who are holding them. Gun running and the paltik industry  are very lucrative businesses here in the Philippines.
And because of the lack of database and monitoring, we are left in the shadows about gun responsibility. The deaths during New Year is just a (bullet)tip of the iceberg.

Recycled New Year's Resolutions

Like Walt Whitman, Robinson Jeffers and other poets, I love writing lists and even incorporating them in my poems. My Grade 4 English teacher (who actually taught us everything else as well) taught us outlining for three months and it was tattooed on my mind. My thought process is mostly bullet-pointed.
So New Year's resolutions are natural for me. So natural, I do them every month. I write them at the back of many of the books I just bought at that time. So my biographers (agraraman!) would know where to find them.
I also buy a lot of diaries, though I usually buy them in March when the year has started because they are cheaper. I got enough stamps from Starbucks but gave my diary to my sister. Diaries I received I also gave to my siblings. If you want to give me gifts, give me old diaries so I can use them as notebooks.  Or Moleskines (ehem).
Writers love New Year resolutions because they are hopeful people.
Jonathan Swift in 1699 made this bucket list when he was 32 ("When I am old"). He made 17 bullet-points:
Not to marry a young Woman.
Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it.
Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, &c.
Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.
Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
Not to be covetous.
Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling into Nastyness.
Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tatling servants, or others.
Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that desire it.
To desire some good Friends to inform me wch of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, and wherein; and reform accordingly.
Not to talk much, nor of my self.
Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with Ladyes, &c.
Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman, et eos qui hereditatem captant, odisse ac vitare.
Not to be positive or opiniative.
Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.
More than three centuries later and they are still applicable for writers today.
In 1942, then 30-year old Woody Guthrie came out with his own NY bullet points:
  1. Work more and better
  2. Work by a schedule
  3. Wash teeth if any
  4. Shave
  5. Take bath
  6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
  7. Drink very scant if any
  8. Write a song a day
  9. Wear clean clothes — look good
  10. Shine shoes
  11. Change socks
  12. Change bed cloths often
  13. Read lots good books
  14. Listen to radio a lot
  15. Learn people better
  16. Keep rancho clean
  17. Dont get lonesome
  18. Stay glad
  19. Keep hoping machine running
  20. Dream good
  21. Bank all extra money
  22. Save dough
  23. Have company but dont waste time
  24. Send Mary and kids money
  25. Play and sing good
  26. Dance better
  27. Help win war — beat fascism
  28. Love mama
  29. Love papa
  30. Love Pete
  31. Love everybody
  32. Make up your mind
  33. Wake up and fight
Woody Guthrie, THE folksinger, was supposed to be 100 years last year. He wrote on his guitar: This machine kills fascists. And even if his songs are unsung by today's karaoke singers, his New Year's list still harks true.  
Submit your website to 20 Search Engines - FREE with ineedhits!
Get Free Shots from
Since March 2007
Carp Fishing
site statistics
visited 14 states (6.22%)
Create your own visited map of The World or jurisdische veraling duits?