Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

For a few minutes, I was King of Marinduque. It was in 2011 during a graduation event in Boac when province elders led by Governor Carmencita Reyes welcomed me by holding a putong ceremony. According to my lolo, one branch of the Palatino clan migrated and settled in south Marinduque.

After traversing a ‘river highway’ for three hours, we arrived in Upper Suyan in Malapatan, Sarangani. Our goal was to deliver medical and food supplies in a heavy militarized school. The village chief was close to tears when he told me that I was the first member of Congress, and the highest official of the land who visited their place. It was my turn to be teary-eyed.

In Olongapo, graduating high school students honored me by holding letter placards that bear my full name with each letter representing something about me.

Closer to home, students of Immaculate Conception Academy in San Juan gave me a very memorable gift for speaking about the 1986 Edsa revolt: an illustration board filled with personalized post-it messages.

I was joined by my family in Aurora when I was Baler’s guest speaker during its 403rd founding anniversary. Baler is a remote town in eastern Luzon rich in history and natural wonders.

After attending a public hearing on Dangerous Drugs in Pagadian, I joined some PDEA officials who organized a short tour around the lovely waters of Lakewood.

Manny Pacquiao is a Glanian but Glan’s most prized asset is its powdery white sand beaches. There, I came to realize the valuable role of small private schools in providing basic education in the rural areas.

From Bondoc to Tadian, we reached the tri-boundary of Mountain Province, Abra, and Ilocos Sur. On the road, we saw Mount ‘Clitoris’. A few weeks after that, I was able to swim in the cool waters of Suso Beach in Ilocos. Another amazing road trip is our long drive from Pagadian to Dipolog.

Thank you Mayor Hagedorn for hosting a dinner-cultural reception in Puerto Princesa. Thank you UP Diliman for including me in your freshman welcome video. To my friend Divs from Culasi, Antique for the fun itinerary. To PASUC (national alliance of state universities) and SK for our joint advocacies. Hello to my kumpare, Mayor JJ of Santa, Ilocos Sur. Pahinging Ipon fish.

My first graduation speech was in Siok, Koronadal. Meanwhile, I truly appreciate the invitation of St Mary’s, my elementary alma mater, to speak in their graduation event last year.

Some memorable flag ceremony activities in Commonwealth High, Ramon Magsaysay Espana, Bagong Barrio in Caloocan, Manila Science and Earist High. There are almost 300 members of the House of Representatives and I was privileged to be invited as guest speaker in the monthly flag ceremony event last November.

I talked about social media activism at the MIMAROPA IT Congress in Calapan and at the Visayas Blogging Summit in Cebu. I discussed the state of public education at the main campus of Don Honorio Ventura Technological University in Pampanga, Rizal Technological Univeristy, Cotabato State Polytechnic College, and in three campuses of Isabela State University. I signed a pledge for peace at an NSTP event in the field grounds of Mall of Asia. We organized a State of the Youth Address attended by SK leaders of Cavite and Laguna.

I discussed the impeachment trial to students of Roxas High and community leaders of Old Balara in Quezon City. I gave an inspirational talk to the youth of Pampanga at the Marque Mall. We joined Councilor (and now Congressman-elect) Alfred Vargas during the launching of Pinoylimpics, a celebration of Philippine Games, in SM Novaliches. For two years, we were entertained by ABS-CBN stars during their Christmas Special at the Araneta Center.

I joined the ribbon cutting ceremonies when we opened a classroom in Banga, South Cotabato; a youth center in Angeles, Pampanga; and a library in Mauban, Quezon.

I was one of the guests of Iloilo in their Dinagyang Festival. I also joined the celebration of the Cauayan Festival in Negros.

I was a resource person of the Baguio City Council in our opposition to the planned treeballing (read: cutting) of pine trees in SM City. Together with Davao City local officials, we conducted a consultation with nursing students about OJT fees. I also testified in the Senate about the skyrocketing, unregulated school fees.

Just recently, I was stunned by the beauty of Surigao del Sur’s ‘enchanted river’. Truly enchanting, mesmerizing. From the vantage point of the DOLE Kalsangi Clubhouse in Polomolok, I was overwhelmed by the majestic fields at the foot of Mt. Matutum. For the first time, I was able to visit Boracay’s fabled Punta Bunga Beach last February. Another must-see white sand resort is Initao, Misamis Oriental.

I attended the International AIDS Conference in Vienna in 2010. I played football in London as a sideline event in a gathering of young leaders from Europe and Asia. I got the chance to go inside the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. I finally met Joma Sison in Utrecht.

I got lost in the subways of New York after speaking in the congress of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns in New Jersey. In Los Angeles, I spoke about internet human rights in an Amnesty International event. In San Francisco, I talked about internet governance in a summit organized by activists and tech giants like Facebook and Google.

Global Voices authors met in Nairobi, Kenya. I discussed the country’s human rights situation in Hong Kong. Indeed, I was able to confirm for several times why Bangkok is an ideal venue to organize an international meeting. But if it is flooded, try Krabi.

Go treeplanting in the watershed of Boso-Boso, Rizal. Or a coastal cleanup in the Freedom Island of Manila Bay in Las Pinas-Paranaque. A power lunch meeting in Bohol’s Loboc River cruise. Enjoy coffee and the refreshing air of Banaue, Ifugao.

I was inspired by the brave stand of Odiongan people in opposing the entry of a mining company in Tablas Island in Romblon. I witnessed the church-labor dialogue in Cebu. I spent a night in a ‘liberated’ farming commune in Escalante City, Negros Occidental.

Philippine airport terminals are cold, dilapidated, dangerous buildings but somehow these eyesores are briefly ignored if you are in the company of friendly strangers. Travelling to unknown destinations is risky but I never experienced harm or felt threatened since I am joined by comrades and old friends in these trips. Besides, I am always distracted either by the breathtaking scenery or the gastronomic delight in front of me which gave me little or no time at all to worry about scary things like security preparation, natural disasters, and trapo monologues.

These are my official and semi-official trips as activist and legislator. As a blogger, I already wrote about some of them. There are more stories to tell in the future.

Years from now, I will share these adventures with my children. I will tell them that my fondest memories as a congressman were made outside the gates of hell…oops, Batasan. Of course I will entertain them with some juicy tales about the private lives of famous politicians but I prefer that they learn more from the heroic lives of ordinary Filipinos. Indeed, I met so many interesting and intelligent people in my travels. Most of them are simple folks who have insightful things to say about the state of affairs and the reforms that need to be undertaken in our society. They are new acquaintances who opened their houses to me, local leaders who willingly escorted and guided me in their hometowns, and young people who put their confidence in me and my party. It’s sad that I never saw many of them again because I’d like to thank them for being part of my journey. Their smile, their kindness, their wisdom will never be forgotten as I embark on my next adventure in life.

Related articles:

Local and foreign trips in 2009
Local campaigning in 2007

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