A Bangsamoro Millennial’s Reflections on the Plebiscite

The campaign period for the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law) Plebiscite has a lot of twists and turns for us. If I were to summarize some of the lessons I learned during the campaign period, it would be the following: 1. ‘What Works’ Overrides ‘What’s Right’  We may have an ideal way of persuading the public…

The Death of the Bangsamoro Basic Law

Co-written with Ephraim Aguilar Just like that, the proposed legislation that promises peace in the South is dead. The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) died in a war — not of guns, bombs and barbaric grounds — but a war within the hallowed, civilized halls of Congress. The very same fruit of two decades of grueling negotiations is…

Inside the Barracks of the PNP Special Action Force

Heroes are not born; they emerge because of certain circumstances, often through hard work and sheer courage. Fate may have chosen the brave 44 commandos of the PNP Special Action Force when they offered their lives for the country last year. But their training inside Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna has already prepared them for the worst….

A Tribute to Visayas and Mindanao

It was the hottest time of day inside a rickety bus last April that I think I fell in love with Visayas. My skin was dark and burnt, having spent the last four days on polar ends of Cebu, and my forehead was dripping wet with sweat as we made our way from the Remegio…

The Hope of Muslim Orphans

Abdul Aziz, not his real name, wakes up at 4:00 in the morning. After praying to Allah, he dashes to eat his breakfast, and, clutching his bag and books, runs to his classroom. He refuses to be late in all of his classes. Abdul is now on 11th grade and only a year away from finishing…

Mamasapano’s Music from Paradise by Howie Severino

Before Mamasapano became a blood stain on the national psyche, the only buzz about the impoverished little town came from its exquisite music.It’s not at all popular music, but the melodious high-pitched sound produced by a rarely seen and heard two-stringed instrument called kudyapi. Mamasapano was the home of the kudyapi master, Samaon Sulaiman, a…

The PNP’s Chance at Redemption by Howie Severino

At no other time in recent memory has any group of policemen elicited as much public sympathy as the Fallen 44 SAF Commandos. In the midst of the horrific nightmare that triggered this outpouring of emotion is an opportunity. At any other time, many of us would regard the police as the least heroic, most…