What’s her beef?

The many faces of MMDA Assec. Celine Pialago

Once upon a supercilious moment, Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago, concurrently spokesperson for the front line agency Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), posted on her Facebook page about the burial of a three-month-old baby girl, whose mother, detained and alleged to be an activist, was shown at the graveyard in hand cuffs.

Around Reina Mae Nasino, the grieving mother in personal protective equipment and seen bowing in front of her daughter’s coffin, were uniformed law enforcement officials whose number was described as an overkill by some groups, quickly denied by the Department of Local and Interior Government.

Baby River, then sickly, was separated from her mother by prison authorities. She died of pneumonia. Reina Mae was given only six hours to attend the wake and burial of her first-born who died of pneumonia last October 9.

Only days after baby River’s burial at the North Cemetery, and hours after Pialago’s page was read on the social platform, her comment immediately went viral, with reactions from mostly women sedulously antipathetic.

The echoing suggestion, sarcastic in some, for the former beauty contestant to apologize publicly, did materialize

What did Pialago say, described as callous in this country that professes a closely knit family culture, that earned the discursive rage of thousands who read her post?

She said in English and Tagalog: “Happy Sunday everyone! Walang kinalaman sa traffic pero sa tingin ko kailangan kong gamitin ang boses ko bilang isang Pilipino sa usapin na ito.

“Hindi lahat ng inang nakakulong ay nakapunta sa libing ng kanyang anak. Kaya yung mga sumisimpatya kay Reina Mae Nasino, pag aralan niyo mabuti ang dahilan bakit siya nakulong at kilalanin ninyong mabuti kung sino siya sa lipunan.

“Masyado ninyong ginagawang pang drama serye sa hapon ang paghihinagpis niya. Tigilan niyo!”

Unquestionably, each of the 112 million Filipinos, except those who have not yet reached the age of puberty and capacity for cognition, is entitled to one’s opinion.

Different when one becomes a government official, elected or appointed, when one is supposed to use one’s cerebrum, that part of the brain which controls reading, thinking, learning, speech, emotions and planned muscle movements like walking.

That Pialago days after apologized to Reina Mae Nasino, an urban poor organizer, she made it clear she would not take back her “drama serye” comment, stressing nearly in the same breath that the public should know Reina Mae’s story first before sympathizing with her.

“Nagsasalita ako simula noong nagkaroon ako ng knowledge noong pumasok ako sa Reserved Force (sic). So nalaman ko ‘yung pros and cons, yung pag-handle ng ganitong high profile cases,” she said.

“On a positive note, I want to influence and educate the people,” she said, stressing her comment was her own and not part of her role as MMDA spokesperson.

To influence and educate the public? But do we need that kind of influence and education from someone who does not know what empathy, at the very minimum, means?

This is no brief for the grieving mother – her lawyers can take care of that – but while she is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, being charged – perhaps the member of the military reserve force, whatever service or branch, may want some refresher – is no equivalent to conviction.

In other words she remains innocent, the charges notwithstanding, until proven by a competent court that she is guilty as charged.

Pialago has apologized, all right. But to quickly make a distinction in the same breath that she wants to educate the public on the kind of a person charged is an overt hypocrisy.

The prisoners rights group Kapatid has said as much when it said Pialago’s statements demonstrated that “sensitivity cannot be taught nor proper manners and right conduct if one is empty-headed.”

Pialago and her underwriters in the cards may point out that Kapatid and the other critics are all leftist groups coming to the aid of one of their own. She should stand back and listen to the chorus of men and women of thoughts and sentiments that one does not have to be a fanatic crusader either way to show some acceptable, human propriety.

One may disagree with the local communists and still remain a decent, an up to scratch human being.

And from an appointed public servant, the least expected of that public servant, whatever the background is in the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Command, is to demonstrate some cottoning to or good vibrations for a mother who had lost her child.

Or, if she had wanted to raise her voice as high as her persuasions and tongue, she should have resigned first from her MMDA post.

Gretchen Barretto mellows, affirms love for sis Claudine, mom Inday

AFTER a year since their emotional meeting during the wake of the Barretto patriarch Miguel, Gretchen Barretto proves that she has really mellowed as she shows that she and mom Inday are now truly in good terms with each other.

Just recently, Gretchen left a message on the comments section of Claudine’s Instagram post.

She said: “I am overjoyed to see you all looking so happy [smile emoji], know that I appreciate each of you for making mom aliw (heart emoji]).

“Bro J, I am proud of you (heart emoji).

“Baby girl, Clau, thank you for inspiring me to be a better daughter (heart emoji). Our Ate Mich.”

Claudine posted a photo where she was with their mom Inday with brother Jay-Jay and Michelle. They celebrated their parents Inday and Miguel’s wedding anniversary in small gathering at a restaurant.

Although Gretchen failed to attend, Claudine thanked her in return.

“Happy civil wedding anniversary of Mom & Dad. We miss you, Dad. Thank you, jjbarretto,@gretchenbarretto,”  Claudine posted.

They also remembered their father’s death anniversary last October 15—Inday, Claudine, Jay-Jay and Michelle in a condo unit where Gretchen also reacted and called them, “my family.” She also said that she will join them “next time.”

Last August, Gretchen posted a heart, kiss and praying emojis on Claudine’s photo with Inday, as a sign of her love for her mom.

It could be remembered that Gretchen and mother Inday had a rift which led to a word war in 2013 when they exchanged deep-rooted anger towards each other. PEP.ph detailed the showbiz history report of the six-year war between Gretchen and Inday. That incident was made public and they didn’t have any communications until on October 16, 2019 when Gretchen and Inday met at Miguel’s wake.

In that moment of grief, the mother and daughter embraced and forgave each other.  It was also in 2013 when Gretchen and Claudine had a rift but they had also forgiven each other in February 2019.

However, Gretchen and Claudine seem like they have not yet buried the hatchet with sister Marjorie.  They had an intense confrontation right in their father’s wake.

According to Gretchen, Marjorie was so mad when she came to their father’s wake. Marjorie even refused to shake hands with her despite the request of President Duterte, who was also present at that time to be reconciled with each other.

Marjorie claimed that she was not happy with Gretchen’s visit because for her, her sister’s attempt to reconcile was just orchestrated. If she was really sincere, she could have visited their father while he was still in the hospital.

Marjorie and Gretchen’s rift started in late 2014 and has not been on speaking terms up to this day.

Miguel and Inday have seven children— Mito, Michelle, Jay-Jay, Gia, Gretchen, Marjorie and Claudine.(Evelyn C. Diao)

The Bodhisattwa’s compassion

Tales and fables are one of the important vehicles which convey a people’s way of looking at things. They are unfailing sources of information concerning their view of life as it is or as it ought to be. Ancient folklore in India has been regarded as one of the most original branches of literature containing some of the authentic revelations of India’s attitude to life and the Indian consciousness. Not the least of these is the Jatakas, a collection of tales the earliest of which are deemed to date back to the third century B.C. These are stories ostensibly recounting the previous existences of the Buddha.

For the modern reader with not even a smattering of Buddhism or its religious theories, there are certain constraints that may stand in the way of comprehending the surface action of the narratives. The overcoming of these constraints, though not the end-all and be-all of reading, is yet necessary as a precondition for a fuller appreciation of these tales. First, there are the fantastic elements. Of course, in fiction, these things are taken for granted. But oftentimes, it is not enough to “suspend disbelief.” One would have to breathe the atmosphere of the story, or really feel its ambience, know its internal laws operative within its own frame of reference. Then, he must understand that the Jatakas tales are told for a definitely didactic purpose, that is, to put across certain principles representing the Buddhist religious ideals. Hence, the moral tag at the end of some of these stories need not cause offense nor leave a bad taste in the mouth. And what should not be forgotten is the fact that the Jatakas is first of all a literary work of the imagination lending itself as a handmaiden of religion. In India, between art and religion, there is not much, if any divorce. As a matter of fact, literature, philosophy and religion are so integrated that one cannot speak of one without drawing in the other.

Different tales from the Jatakas are chosen here to give a representative sampling of the spectrum of motifs that run through the collection.

There is, for instance, the story of the Bodhisattwa who was born as Brahmaddata. He was so upright a ruler that no one could find fault with him. But he was obsessed with the idea of finding someone who would reveal to him his defects. For this purpose, he travelled far and wide. Then along a narrow road he came across the king of Kosala, Mallika by name, who was also wandering about for exactly the same purpose. Their respective drivers asked each other to make way, citing their Master’s virtues as ground for the other’s giving way. King Mallika’s driver recited: “Great King Mallika is rough to the rough,/But to the gentle he returns gentleness,/And badness bestows on those that are bad….” King Brahmaddata’s driver exclaimed: “By mildness alone he conquers anger,/By goodness he repays the bad./By lavish gifts he vanquishes misers,/And falsehood he overcomes with truth….” King Mallika and his driver were convinced of the superior nobility of the king of Banares that they made way for the latter. They went back to their respective kingdoms, spent their lives in deeds of goodness till they attained to Heaven.

Then, too, there is the story of the Bodhisattwa born as Sivi, king of Aritthapura. He was of a generous nature so that he even felt the acts of charity which he did to be not enough. He then conceived of literally giving a part of himself, of his very own physical body. Indra, the king of the Gods, on reading his thoughts, decided to put to the test his resolution. Disguised as a blind beggar, he stretched out his hands to Sivi and asked for one of his eyes. But Sivi, a good man that he was, was only too willing to part not just with one but with his two eyes. For this purpose he called for the service of his surgeon. Afterwards, Sivi retired to a hermitage. Now blind, he wished for nothing but death. Indra came to see him but said he cannot grant his death-wish but that by the very fruit of Sivi’s gift shall his eyes be restored. King Sivi’s eyes grew again in their sockets, the eyes of the Attainment of Truth. Returning back to his kingdom, he preached: “Let no one deny anything that is asked of him. In all mortal beings the finest treasure is self-sacrifice. I sacrificed perishable eyes, and received the Eye of Knowledge in return. Be generous, my people. Never eat a meal without giving away something; let others have a share.”

Another story is that of the Bodhisattwa born as the son of an elephant king. In time he himself became the King of Banares. His name was Chhaddanta. He was noble and justly ruled his subjects of eight thousand elephants. He passed his days in the company of his two queens, Cullasubhadda and Mahasubhadda. Cullasubhadda got jealous of Mahasubhadda, for it seemed to her that the King gave the latter preferential treatment. She then harbored a grudge against Chhaddanta. She went on hunger strike causing her death. But she was reborn as a daughter of the royal family of Maddla. Her name now is Subhada. The king and queen married her to the King of Banares. Remembering all the events of her previous life, Queen Subhada thought of revenging herself against Chhaddanta. She then hired a hunter with instructions to look for a six-tusked elephant (Chhaddanta) and kill him by depriving him of his tusks. King Chhaddanta soon afterwards fell into the trap prepared by the hunter who attacked him with a poisoned shaft. But the King bore his pain and bitterness and anger. From the hunter he understood that all this was the work of Cullasubhadda. He accordingly asked the hunter to saw off his tusks and actually helped him do it. He died shortly afterwards after saying: “Friend hunter, I give away my tusks not because I have no fondness for them but because the tusks of Omniscience are a thousand times dearer to me. May this act of mine lead me to knowledge.” Meanwhile, the queen Subhadda received the tusks together with the news that the elephant king was dead. The tusks emitted six glorious rays of different colors. Then, thinking of him who had been her dear Lord, she was seized with sorrow. Her heart was shattered with grief and she died.

Evidently, the foregoing stories deal with the deepest concerns of the Buddhist faith, the Mahayana ideal of love and compassion, of sacrifice and forgiveness, and of regard for the well-being of others. It is worth recalling that a Bodhisattwa is one who, after earning his right to entering Nirvana, postpones his own entry to it in order to help his fellowmen toward Enlightenment.

Thus, in the tales just related, the reincarnated Bodhisattwa, whether as King Brahmaddata or King Sivi or as the elephant-king Chhaddanta, never attains to Enlightenment for his own sake or for his own self-centered weal. The self-abnegation, or better yet, the self-sacrifice done by making the gift of eyes or by having one’s tusks sawed off to one’s death may appear excessive or even absurd to the modern man’s temper. But these facts of the tales should not be viewed in the light of the Western golden mean. Rather, they should be taken on their own terms as expressions of selflessness, the highest form of love and one of the roads that lead to the Buddhist goal of transcendental wisdom.

In the preceding stories, it can be seen that those who came into personal contact or have direct dealings with the reincarnated Bodhisattwa did not get away untransformed in their moral sense or spiritual outlook. King Malika and his driver learned the superior nobility of returning love for hatred, good for evil, truth for falsehood, and accordingly renounced their more retributive ethic of lex taliones. And it may be said that Queen Subhhada did not die of grief over King Chhanddanta whose death she herself had designed without the inner realization of her heinous deed and the corresponding change of heart.

The Bodhisattwa’s overriding commitment to the redemption of others stems from his deep sense of oneness with all that lives. He knows the law that everything is related to everything else, and with that knowledge salvation for him means nothing if there yet remains a single being still immersed in the ocean of Samsara. One cannot but be reminded here of familiar Dostoevskean statements like: “All is responsible for all,” or “What good is salvation if only one is saved?” Indeed, for the Bodhisattwa, the universal salvation of all beings is the supreme good; and the real task at hand is the attainment of spiritual perfection by first seeking the salvation of others. As a poet puts it, “He findeth not who seeks his own;/The soul is lost that’s saved alone.” Thus, while the Theravadin’s search for Nirvana could easily become a selfish goal of individual liberation, the Mahayana ideal has a social or universal dimension. This explains the apparent extravagance of the Bodhisattwa’s generosity or the seeming nonsensicality of his actions in the tales. And it is within this Mahayana Buddhist universe of discourse that the stories take on their true significance.

A corollary of the Mahayana ideal of spiritual communion of all living beings is the doctrine of abstention from the taking of life. This is the principle of ahimsa, which the Bodhisattwa exemplified in the story of the “Sacrificial Goat.” A goat was to be sacrificed by a Brahmin in a feast for his ancestors. While being dressed for the purpose, the goat recalled that on that very day he would be liberated. This made him laugh loudly even as the sad fate in store for him moved the Brahmin to tears. Asked to explain himself, the goat said, “In one of my past existences, I, too, was a Brahmin. By killing a goat at a feast for the dead, I had my head cut off four hundred and ninety-nine times. This is my five-hundredth birth, and it is the last. As soon as you kill me, I shall be liberated forever. That’s why I laughed. But I cried, too, because the penalty for killing a goat is the same for you as it was for me. I pity you because by taking my life you are condemning yourself to have your head cut off five hundred times. The Brahmin then said he would not kill him and even guard him all the time. But the goat said, ”Weak is your protection, and strong is the force of my deeds.” And, indeed, as the goat was browsing in a bush, a thunderbolt killed him. At this point, while a crowd gathered around the goat, the Bodhisattwa, born as a tree-divinity, seated himself in mid-air and proclaimed: “If only men know that existence is pain,/Living beings would cease from taking life./Beware, beware! Stern is the slayer’s doom.”

What is explicit, too, in the above story is the all too often forgotten truth that man is the decreer of his own fate, the maker of his own happiness or gloom. For the Buddhist, as for the Hindu, this is the law of karma, the inexorable law of universal equilibrium, of cause and effect, of action and reaction, not only in the physical sphere but also in the moral, spiritual or transcendent plane. No one gets away from this since how can one escape from himself? If one has disturbed the universal balance by the taking of life, one is bound to restore order by paying for it in the same measure, if not in this life, then in another. This is the meaning of what in our story the goat meant by saying, “Strong is the force of my deeds.”

The Bodhisattwa also plays other roles in the less serious tales dealing with common problems of life. At one time, we find him as an arbitrator, settling disputes wisely as in the case of the tiger and the lion. The former averred that it was the dark half of the month that was cold, whereas the latter maintained that it was the moonlit half of the month. This Bodhisattwa said, thus: “Be it the moonlit half or be it the dark,/How will it affect the cold, oh foolish ones?/You must know that the cold is caused by the wind,/And so I decided that both of you are right.”

We find the Bodhisattwa, too, as an adviser to a king, warning him against talkativeness. Or we find him as a lion, or a bird. In all these, the words coming off his mouth never ring false or platitudinous. This is so because his statements spring from a deep moral ground and spiritual insight.


Kusug Tausug partylist Representative Shernee Tan-Tambut

Ni Romer Reyes Butuyan

BAGO ang lahat, nais kong ipaabot ang aking maalab na pagbati sa pamunuan ng MAHARLIKA MAYNILA sa unang edisyon ng pahayagang ito at tauspusong pasasalamat din sa pagbibigay sa akin ng pagkakataon na maging kabahagi nito.

Bagama’t patuloy pa rin tayong binabagabag ng pandemyang dulot ng Covid-19 virus, dapat ay magkaroon pa rin tayo ng positibong pananaw.

‘Ika nga ni idol Albert Einstein, “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.””

At ang mga katagang ito marahil ang nasa isipan ni Kusug Tausug partylist Representative Shernee Tan-Tambut, na siya rin chairperson ng House Committee on Globalization and WTO, nang ihayag ang pagnanais na higit na maipakilala ang ipinagmamalaki niyang Tausug cuisine at locally-wooven cloth na Pis Syabit

Noong nakaraang taon ay binalak ng kongresista na magsagawa ng festival para itampok ang Tausug dances, food at clothing subalit ito’y hindi natuloy hanggang sa magkaroon na nga tayo ng public health crisis.

Subalit determinado si Congresswoman Tan-Tambut na mai-promote ang mayamang kultura ng kanilang island province Sulu.

Aniya, nais niyang itaas ang public awareness sa Tausug festival food at Pis Syabit kung saan umaasa siyang maitatatak sa isipan ng publiko ang tunay at magandang imahe ng kanilang lalawigan.

Layunin din niyang makapag-ambag sa pagsusumikap na pagsiglahin ang kalakalan at paghahanapbuhay ng kanyang mga kababayan na nasa paggawa at pagbebenta ng Sulu-made goods.

Nalulungkot ang kongresista na mas nabibigyan-pansin ng marami ang hindi magandang insidente, na gawa ng ilang lawless elements sa Sulu, gayung ang katotohanan ay peace-loving people at mayaman sa kultura ang mga Tausug.

Sinabi ni Tan-Tambut na may impluwesiya ng Filipino, Malay at Arabic cultures ang mga awitin, sayaw, pagkain at iba pa ng Tausug, kasama na rito ang kanilang hinabing tela na Pis Syabit.

Dahil nga sa Covid-19 pandemic, at siya naman “in” sa ngayon, gagawin ng mambabatas ang pagbibida sa Sulu festival food at nasabing wooven cloth sa pamamagitan ng social media at mobile communication.

Kabilang sa special Tausug dishes na dapat daw natin matikman ay ang ‘Tiyula Itum’, isang rich green-black spicy beef soup na may lasa ng sinunog na niyog at hinaluan ng exotic spices; at ang ‘Piyanggang Manuk’, na blackened braised-chicken na niluto naman sa coconut milk at iba pang sangkap na matatagpuan lamang sa Sulu. Ang Tausug food ay alinsunod sa Halal procedures.

Ang Pis Syabit naman ay hand-woven, geometrically-patterned cloth na gawa sa silk o cotton, kung saan ang disenyo o detalye ng tela ay base sa kung anong espesyal na okasyon ang paggagamitan nito.

Mayrong ilang local designers ang gumagamit na ng Pis Syabit bilang tela sa kanilang party dresses at long gowns, at bilang accessories naman para sa ilang culturally-minded individuals, gaya ng mabenta sa ngayon na face mask, vest, small handbags, headbands, belts at earrings.

Para sa mga gustong matikman ang Tausug food, inirekomenda ni Tan-Tambut ang ZamBaSulTa Kitchen, na may Facebook account: ZambaSulta Halal Food / Instagram: @zambasulta kitchen at mobile phone 0905-407 1715. Sa mga interesado naman sa Pis Syabit, makipag-ugnayan kay Fahd Schuck sa mobile # 0916 223 5226 at sa Herman & Co. sa mobile # 0917 887 8749, hanapin lamang si Bea Constantino.

Kaya ‘wag nang magpatumpik-tumpik pa… dahil mainam na tangkilin natin ang sariling atin, at suportahan ang ating mga kababayang nagsusumikap sa gitna ng umiiral na sitwasyon.

(Sa sinumang nais magpaabot ng komento, suhestiyon at iba pang impormasyon sa inyong lingkod, maaring mag-email sa rrb0571@gmail.com)

Sarah Geronimo Guidicelli admits learning how to handle her own finances

SINCE Popstar Royalty Sarah Geronimo got married to actor Matteo Guidicelli in February, she has realized and learned many things, from cooking to handling her own finances.

After a long time spending almost 20 years in showbiz, Sarah has just experienced budgeting her own money, gradually learning how to properly manage, spend, and save her income.

During her younger years as a singer and actress, her mother Divine Geronimo has been in charge of everything she earns. She acknowledges how her mother really took care of their family. Despite the bad things that happened between her and Mommy Divine, the singer-actress is still grateful to her mother for all she did for her and their family.

“I grew up very dependent on my parents, because they really took care of me,” Sarah says. “My mother would do everything she could for me, so that my work will not be distracted,” she continues.

“To be honest, my adulting was like expedited, It’s only now that I experience how to budget, how to invest,” Sarah stresses.

“I keep reminding myself now that I am no longer single. I have to accept that I am no longer single. Now, I am learning with the help of my husband,” she relates.

Sarah and Matteo are currently planning on building their own family. “My priority in life is now different. My priority now is my husband. Because that is the essence of marriage, that your priority is your husband and the family that you will be building with him,” she ends.

She also caused some buzz online due to her future online business with her husband Matteo who shared photos of Sarah’s lemon blueberry cake on Instagram. A lot of their friends and followers were interested. The actor told their friends that they will be accepting orders soon and that they should order one week in advance.

Though she is now a housewife and busy with her career,  she did not forget to greet her father on his special day. She posted on her IG account a picture taken during the singer’s “The Great Unknown Unplugged” concert four years ago. She wrote, “Ang aking habambuhay. Maligayang kaarawan po, tatay Delfin ko.”

This is Sarah’s first public message to her father following her controversial wedding. Fans waited for Sarah’s father to reply in the comments section of her post to no avail.

Until now, there is no news if Sarah and Mommy Divine have kissed and made up after the controversial wedding ceremony. (Evelyn C. Diao)

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