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Federico D. Pascual Jr. in the Philippine STAR, the No.1 paper in the country.

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authoritative news

President Gloria Arroyo exchanges pleasantries with new US Ambassador Kristie Kenney after receiving her credentials in ceremonies last March 22 in Malacanang. She is the first American woman ambassador to the country. She replaced Ambassador Francis Ricciardone.

The search for bodies in the village of Guinsaugon in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte, buried Feb. 17 in a landslide has tapered off as hope faded for more survivors among the 2,000 who had lived there. Why not just convert the site into a communal cemetery marked by a huge cross? [Full Story]

What bishops said
  in their pastoral
  letter on RP crisis

Fitch, S&P's raise
  RP credit rating,
  but Moody's waits

The President's
Day in Photos

FilAm Cristeta Comerford, 41, has become the first woman White House executive chef. The pay is $80,000 to $100,000 a year with no overtime. With a bachelor's degree in food technology from the University of the Philippines, she emigrated to the US when she was 23, studied classic French cooking and worked in Austria and D.C. hotels. [Full Story]

APEC: Open trade,
  yes; terrorism, no

Manila Hotel buys
  Fraport's problem

GMA vows 'zero
  graft' in 1 year

Ex-Urban Bank
  prexy shoots self

Ex-DA exec tagged
  in journalist's slay

3 ex-DoTC bosses
  face graft charges

SC orders 'Journal'
  returned to owners

Neda bares growth
  plan for 2004-2010

ManilaMail Features

Review what GMA
  had in roadmap
  to fiscal recovery

Meet the 10 most
  powerful families
  in the Philippines

Leery of synthetic
  medicine, surgery
  & hospitalization?

Can RP still solve
  its big problems

    (Analyze an analysis
    of Jose T. Almonte)


the violin
on 3 strings

On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York.

In a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. The sight of him walking across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is awesome.

He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.

By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.

But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap -- it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.

We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off the stage -- to either find another violin or find another string for this one. But he didn't. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again.

The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before.

Anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. But that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that.

You could see him modulating, changing, re-composing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.

When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.

He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said -- not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone -- "You know, sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left."

What a powerful line that is. Perhaps that is the definition of life -- not just for artists but for all of us.

Here is a man who has prepared all his life to make music on a violin of four strings, who, all of a sudden, in the middle of a concert, finds himself with only three strings; so he makes music with three strings, and the music he made that night with just three strings was more beautiful, more sacred, more memorable, than any that he had ever made before, when he had four strings.

Perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left.

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Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2006


THE PHILIPPINES was had. A charter member of the World Trade Organization in 1995, the former US colony embraced globalization's free-market gospel, opening its economy to foreign trade and investment. Filipinos were told that their farmers' lack of good transportation and high technology would be balanced out by their cheap labor. They thought that access to world markets would create a half-million new farming jobs a year, and improve the country's trade balance. It did not happen. [New York Times Editorial]

President Gloria Arroyo talks with Abdallah Jum'ah, president and CEO of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Saudi Aramco) during an audio-visual presentation May 10 depicting the company's history at its headquarters in Dhahran , Saudi Arabia . Returning from her four-day state visit to the kingdom, the President said Aramco is considering putting up an oil refinery in Mindanao.

Falsehoods peppering Da Vinci Code exposed
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//May 16, 2006//Tuesday

EXPOSING the falsehoods on which rest Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code and the movie based on it, we create an "opportunity for believers to witness about the reliability of the Bible and its central redemptive message -- that the Son of God became flesh, died on the cross and rose again." Why the fuss over a work of fiction? [Full Article]

It isn't fair to kick out Buñag on just one strike
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//May 14, 2006//Sunday

HEAPING on Revenue Commissioner Jose Mario Buñag the blame for a shortfall in collections for April, and demanding his resignation, is not only myopic, but also unfair. The problem is not Buñag, but a host of factors -- some of them external to the BIR -- that he and his team have been attacking since he came in 10 months ago. [Full Article]

Must anyone nominate himself for an award?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//May 11, 2006//Thursday

SOME civic groups ask prospects to submit curriculum vitae and nomination letters so they could be considered for an award. Why should they, in effect, nominate themselves? If anybody did something great for humanity he should just be recognized for it without having to call attention to himself. The sham of it all is nauseating. [Full Article]

Aragoncillo case to test GMA's political agility
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//May 9, 2006//Tuesday

ANY U.S. bid to extradite former President Joseph ?Erap? Estrada as co-accused in the espionage charges against a FilAm intelligence analyst who stole US security files and shared them with Filipino politicians will test President Gloria Arroyo's agility. Will she accede to extradition or decline to thus avoid displeasing Erap's followers? [Full Article]

Erap, Ping face minefield in Aragoncillo spy case
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//May 7, 2006//Sunday

A MINEFIELD lies before former President Joseph ?Erap? Estrada, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, and several others mentioned by a FilAm intelligene analyst upon pleading guilty of passing classified information to Filipino politicians plotting to overthrow the Arroyo administration. They face long stateside jail terms if found guilty. [Full Article]

Doña Mary is assurance that Erap won't jump bail
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//May 4, 2006//Thursday

THE visit Wednesday by former President Erap Estrada on his 101-year-old mother Doña Mary shows that he is no flight risk and may be safely allowed to stay home on bail. He is still presumed innocent of the plunder charges against him and the evidence is so weak that conviction is unlikely. In contrast, big-time grafters strut around free. [Full Article]

Palace offers P40-B gift to buy Labor Day peace
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//May 2, 2006//Tuesday

PRESIDENT Gloria Arroyo put together a P40-billion package of non-wage benefits -- including easy loans, cheap groceries and tax breaks -- to mollify restive workers demanding better economic terms. The President started her Labor Day activities with a breakfast consultation with personnel of ClientLogic, a call center firm. [Full Article]

Pinoy kid punished for eating with fork & spoon
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 30, 2006//Sunday

boy eatingTHE MOTHER of a seven-year-old Filipino boy in Roxboro, Montreal, complains that her son was being punished by school authorities for eating -- like most Filipinos -- with both fork and spoon (showing how in photo). For some 10 times, the lunchtime monitor separated him from other students because of his unique table manners. Now he does not want to eat in school. His case, reported by The Chronicle, has caught the interest of compatriots. [Full Article]

Mayor's permit is needed just to walk and talk?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 27, 2006//Thursday

WHY is a mayor's permit needed to meet in a public place and talk? They say to protect the public from undue harm. But how will a mayor know in advance that a rally will end in violence or in the violation of other people's rights? Requiring a permit is a prior restraint to the full exercise of freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. [Full Article]

Road signs must guide, not confuse, motorists
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 25, 2006//Tuesday

SOMETIMES motorists are led into accidents or caught in traffic violations because of confusing or wrong road signs. At times, signs are missing in critical areas where they are most needed by motorists and pedestrians. Putting up correct signs is part of Engineering, a necessary prelude (together with Education) to Enforcement. [Full Article]

Oil breaks $75! Search on for fuel-efficient cars
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 23, 2006//Sunday

OIL has crashed through record highs, sailing past $75-a-barrel amid fears of possible disruption of supplies from Iran and Nigeria and gas shortages on the US East Coast. A search for vehicles that combine true automative value with fuel efficiency yielded good buys in five categories, mostly foreign brands. [Full Article]

Giant Chinese bamboo to bend with US wind?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 20, 2006//Thursday

THAT China 's leader Hu Jintao immediately met with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates upon landing at Seattle for his first US visit as president could be a sign that China is ready to cooperate in enforcing copyright laws, especially on software. Its increased lobbying at Capitol Hill may also mean it has realized the need for accommodation. [Full Article]

Mineral riches can ransom RP from poverty
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 18, 2006//Tuesday

THE VALUE of our mineral resources was estimated at $1 trillion in 2004. With the prices of precious metals continuing to rise, our mines can now yield $2-3 trillion, enough to turn the country around. Problem is we lack capital and technology to mine our wealth. This explains the easing of entry rules for foreign investments into mining. [Full Article]

Will the Easter message be lost on Filipinos?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 16, 2006//Easter Sunday

WILL the lesson and the promise of Easter be lost on the Filipino? By most indications, we are not ready to catch the powerful message. Nobody has prepared us for it -- not the Church, not our leaders, not the schools. We are on our own, adrift. Most of us, including officials, will emerge the morning after Easter as if nothing happened. [Full Article]

Keep away from snakes, speeding cars, pols
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 13, 2006//Maundy Thursday

SOME 55 American congressmen, all Democrats, said in a statement that ?we seek the Church's guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience.? But, conscience requires a distinction. The crucial factor is not fidelity to one's chosen moral principles, but rather fidelity to moral principles given to us by God. [Full Article]

Judas has role in divine plan of Redemption?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 11, 2006//Tuesday

judasIF JUDAS did not betray Jesus, would there have been the crucifixion of Good Friday and the glorious resurrection of Easter Sunday? Was Judas playing a key role assigned to him in the divine plan of Redemption? If so, why is he cast in negative light when the passion and death of Jesus is retold every Holy Week? What is this newly dusted "Gospel of Judas" that National Geographic Society is releasing? [Full Article]

Better to just keep quiet; NYT editorial is right
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 9, 2006//Sunday

MALACANANG is hurting from the New York Times editorial titled "Dark Days for Philippine Democracy" because what it says is true. Even administration apologists have to concede that there is basis for the critical comments. They better just keep quiet, not take issue with it. One does not quarrel, or tamper, with the truth. [Full Article]

Is your child protected from cyber sex crimes?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 6, 2006//Thursday

DOES your child have a camera on his computer so he can video-talk with friends? The Internet and such gadgets have spawned e-businesses catering to pedophiles and sex perverts. In some cases, normal youths have fallen victim to sexploitation without their parents knowing it. The home, even the bedroom, has lost its privacy. [Full Article]

Piatco doesn't own Naia-3, can't sell it to gov't
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 4, 2006//Tuesday

THE ARROYO administration is rushing to expropriate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal-3 and release P3-billion as initial payment to its builder, Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Expropriation is the purchase of private property intended for public use. But why buy Naia-3 from Piatco when it is not the owner? [Full Article]

Gloria a sure winner in Cha-cha signup contest
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//April 2, 2006//Sunday

SIGNATURES are being collected to defeat the People's Initiative drive to amend the Constitution, but more people favor Charter change. This does not mean that People's Initiative will be able to change the presidential setup to a parliamentary system. But whichever way it goes, President Gloria Arroyo will emerge winner. [Full Article]

But how can Comelec validate 5M signatures?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 30, 2006//Thursday

PROMOTERS of People's Initiative to amend the Constitution said they have gathered more than 4 million of the 5 million signatures needed. The Commission on Elections said it was ready to validate the signatures. But how can it when its list of voters is not reliable? Why add signatures of voters responding to different questions? [Full Article]

OFWs must have 10% of seats in Parliament
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 28, 2006//Tuesday

SINCE they comprise 10 percent of the population, send $13 billion to the home country annually, and are better educated and of a higher economic standing than average Filipinos, overseas Filipinos must be given 10 percent of the seats in the proposed Parliament. Our referring to them as heroes must become political reality. [Full Article]

It's a divisive and wasteful 'Palace Initiative'
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 26, 2006//Sunday

BARANGAY assemblies have been set to gather signatures for a "People's Initiative" to amend the Constitution and replace the presidential with a parliamentary system. This is actually a "Palace Initiative" as it is funded and directed from Malacanang. It is divisive, wasteful and bound to fail. The money for it could be put to better use. [Full Article]

Let public witness Erap's plunder trial on TV
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 23, 2006//Thursday

HOW come the Sandiganbayan does not want TV coverage of the trial of former President Erap Estrada on plunder charges? What is the administration afraid of? The people must know firsthand what goes on in the courtroom, function as an extended jury and be able to render an informed judgment. Postscript has a compromise formula. [Full Article]

Justice secretary set to lose Subic rape case?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 21, 2006//Tuesday

IF THERE were no RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement, we would have kept primary jurisdiction and custody of four American servicemen accused of raping a Filipina in Subic last November. The GIs would have gone straight to a local detention cell, not to a haven at the US embassy, while the case is processed. What happened? [Full Article]

Military is replacing the press as Fourth Estate
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 19, 2006//Sunday

THE PRESS is often referred to as the Fourth Estate, harking back to feudal Europe when society was divided into three Estates -- the Church, the nobility and the rest of the people -- with the press offered as the fourth Estate. But the Philippine press as a watchdog against government is being replaced by the military as the fourth branch. [Full Article]

Big firms sucking aquifers dry are known, but...
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 16, 2006//Thursday

OVER 35 giant firms in Metro Manila illegally extracting huge amounts of water from deep-wells and causing the water table to dry up have been identified. They have been ordered to stop using their deep-wells, but they ignore the orders. This is another test of government's resolve to enforce the law and protect the environment. [Full Article]

Aquifers are drying up, Metro Manila is sinking
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 14, 2006//Tuesday

AQUIFERS in populous Metro Manila are drying up mainly because of massive drawing of groundwater for big commercial users. The dire effects are not confined to dwindling water supply but have been linked also to the accelerated sinking of the metropolis. If remedies are not applied soon, water could become a major problem. [Full Article]

Fire-breathing solons suddenly scared of cops
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//March 9, 2006//Thursday

THE IMPASSE between arresting policemen and radical congressmen hiding from them is no longer amusing. If the police have evidence, they should secure warrants and arrest their quarry without delay. On the other hand, the lawmakers should not cower like scared chicken. That is bad form. They should face the charges with dignity. [Full Article]

GMA caught in deadly embrace of the military
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//February 26, 2006//Sunday

PRESIDENT Gloria Arroyo may not be aware of it, but she is slowly being pulled into the arms of a politicized military. Or if she is aware of it, she seems increasingly unable to move away from the deadly embrace. She cannot command obedience to her emergency proclamation without the military and the police acting as enforcers. [Full Article]

To officials: What have you done for the country?
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//February 21, 2006//Tuesday

THERE must be some way we can line up officials, from the President down, and ask them: What have you done for the country since you assumed office? They can reply in either of two ways: Talking under oath for one minute before a video camera, or writing down a response of not more than 500 words on a clean piece of paper. [Full Article]

GMA losing by default PR war on Marcos wealth
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//February 19, 2006//Sunday

BEFORE negative impressions sink in the public mind, Malacanang should explain right away why recovered Marcos wealth was used in pre-election spending in 2004. More people are starting to believe that from P36 billion seized from the Marcoses, some P500 million was used for politicking and only P2 billion left for agrarian reform. [Full Article]

Vaunted Epira has failed to cut electricity costs
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//February 16, 2006//Thursday

PRESIDENT Gloria Arroyo called Congress to a special session in June 2001 just to pass the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. This first law enacted under her administration aims to lower power rates and reduce Napocor’s debts that at that time had grown to P600 billion. On both counts, the administration has failed. [Full Article]

We pay dearly for media's negative emphasis
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//February 12, 2006//Sunday

A FILIPINA in Sta. Clara, Calif., complains that Philippine networks beaming TV shows to the US and other countries drown viewers in negative, violent reports that create a misimpression among foreigners that the Philippines is going to pieces. She said this orientation should be changed as it scares away tourists and investors. [Full Article]

Why stampede casualties were mostly women
   Postscript//PhilSTAR//February 7, 2006//Tuesday

stampede-ultra-130HOW come almost all of the more than 70 persons crushed to death in the stampede last Feb. 4 before the ABS-CBN variety show “Wowowee” were poor housewives? In this country, it is usually the women who venture out, even at great risk to their lives, to earn a little extra for the family. One wonders what the men have been doing. [Full Article]

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