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Dec 07th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice What Will the World Be Without Self-proclaimed Critics and Pundits?
What Will the World Be Without Self-proclaimed Critics and Pundits? PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Friday, 25 March 2011 12:21


By Roberto Reyes Mercado

(He was then the Philippine Sentinel’s Los Angeles, CA-based columnist. Readers may contact the writer at


W hen Charles Schulz was still alive, his “Peanuts” cartoon strip was one of my circle of friends’ favorite reading materials. Probably because of our fondness for the “Peanuts” gang, some of my friends dubbed me the “Filipino Linus,” after the friend of Charlie Brown. Remember Linus used to always wisecrack comments and criticism about Charlie and his friends, no matter how right Brown and Company were? Linus was not only the critic but also the “killjoy” of the group.


Editor’s Note: This is reprinted from the column of the same name in the May 2001 issue of the Philippine Sentinel, the Houston, Texas-based then-leading Filipino-American newspaper in South and the Mid-West. It has apparently folded up.

 Yes, I was not only called sometimes the “Filipino Linus” but also frequently as the “Filipino Don Quixote,” the “crazy troublemaker, pseudo-journalist, etc., and etc.,” as some National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) officials like to address me, and such other non-flattering sobriquets and names. Some folks said that I was like Linus because while, for instance, Filipino Americans (including my wife, Ceny de los Reyes) were enjoying the media coverage of the Miss Universe contest in Manila in May 1994, I was phoning friends and urging them to switch to another channel as a way of joining the pageant’s television-coverage boycott. I fought tooth and nail against the beauty contest because I said that the Philippine Department of Tourism was wasting millions of dollars in hosting it. The Philippines could have used the money – all $18-million of it – to buy milk and Nutribuns for the more than 100,000 child prostitutes in Manila).


Critic of a Critic


G uess what? I found my own Linus, my own critic of a critic. His name is Tom and he is a fellow Bicolnon. And like me he is a graduate of an Ateneo Jesuit-run college in the Philippines. He lives somewhere in the Midwest and I suspect that for a hobby he has taken up “Bobby Bashing.”


Sometimes I relate to friends like Poet-pundit Fred Burce Bunao what Tom has posted in the Mayon eGroup, the online discussion group of Overseas Filipinos who hail from the Republic of Bicol, ops, Bicol Region of the Republic of the Philippines.


Tom and I play a different kind of chess: We keep posting comments about bishops, rookie Presidents, Jueteng kings and queens in the Mayon eGroup. Then I decided to post some of the best comments from Tom and my answer to him and then his retorts in the then-Yimby Forum because some fellow eGroups members complained of the length of our postings. I usually identify ourselves as “Tom and Jerry,” ops, “Tom and Bobby” in the then-Yimby Forum. I exchange e-mails with Tom almost on a daily basis although I have never met him face-to-face.


The poet-pundit Bunao, a fellow Bicolnon, says that my “Linus of a Linus and critic of a critic,” should be dubbed the region’s Tom Cruise – because he is in cruise control when it comes to criticizing me. Fred spelled it the Filipino /Hispanic way, i.e., Tom “Pasang” Cruz. “Pasang Cruz kasi kay Bobby (He is Bobby’s Pasang Cruz),” Mr. Bunao wisecracked in the Tagalog language. (For the uninitiated, “Pasang Cruz” is a Filipino idiom that means a burden akin to the way Jesus Christ carried the cross.) Yes, indeed my Tom Cruise (sic) is one of the most-active participants in the Mayon eGroup and one of the better members that write with a lot of Bicolnon wit and humor.


For Tom and I and other self-proclaimed critics and pundits like Mr. Bunao, the good thing about writing a critique or a column is similar to baking a cake, having it, icing and all, and eating it, too . . . without getting caught by the Calorie Police. But then what will the world be without self-proclaimed critics, pundits and columnists poking their noses in any subject that arouses their curiosity? Life should be boring if there were no Tom “Pasang” Cruzes, no Fred Burce Bunaos and Bunaoisms, and no Bobby Reyeses in our midst.


Tom began his newly-found avocation as a self-appointed critic when he started defending the Diocese of Sorsogon over the “Fray Damaso Scandals” that I wrote about in the Mayon eGroup. I did not become sore at Tom; in fact I welcomed his views, as writers and leaders and human beings should be able to look at their own weaknesses and frailties that often only a third party can detect in our lives or careers. Community, national and even world leaders should welcome the unsolicited advice and/or comments of critics like Fred, Tom and me. For instance when Tom sends me a private e-mail or posts a message on the Mayon eGroup e-bulletin board, his comments and even criticisms make me put my thinking cap on. Oftentimes the critics’ comments enable me to revise and edit my manuscripts and essays.


The Wit and Wisdom of then-Poet-pundit Fred Bunao


Mr. Bunao likes to wisecrack that if Tom and I continue to write about changing the character of the Filipino, we, as former alumni of Jesuit schools, may be called eventually as the Filipino versions of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Mr. Bunao says that Tom may be dubbed the “Ain’t Ignatius of Loyola,” because he ain’t (sic) yet a saint; and I could be called – if I meet martyrdom – as the “Filipino Saint Ignatius of Loyola Memorial Park in Parañaque, Metro Manila,” (where I do own two more empty burial lots).


Here’ the latest love notes from Tom Cruz that I posted, along with my retort in the then-Yimby Forum, as headlined, “EDSA Evolution: Another ‘Suntok sa Buwan’?” (To the non-Tagalog-speaking Filipinos, this Filipino idiom is literally translated as “shooting for, or jabbing at, the moon.”)



TOM writes: (Snipped) I take off my hat and salute you for your crusade.  However, you have not passed the threshold of no longer (being) Don Quixote – at least in my mind – because so far nothing has been done with (the) NaFFAA (National Federation of Filipino-American Associations), no reform has been implemented yet. (Snipped)   

BOBBY replies:

Dear Manoy Tom: (Note: “Manoy” is a Bicolnon term of endearment, meaning, “Big Brother.”)

As the saying goes, "
Rome wasn't built in a day," and neither will reforming the NaFFAA and other Filipino-American organizations. But my friends and I are making a lot of progress. People from all over the United States and even from Europe are encouraging us to push further and elevate it to where no Filipino modern crusader has taken it before.

It is no joke to take on the NaFFAA that is headquartered in
Washington, DC. But if plans do not miscarry we will storm it and drive out the rascals. If we cannot do it this summer, maybe next year but never will we end the crusade.

I am that patient, Manoy Tom. When I started questioning the Filipino float organizers (for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade) even my kin and close friends said that I was just wasting my time because the Philippine government and its lackeys in
Los Angeles won't give me the time of day. That was in 1996. And yet I continued the fight. They were calling me "a crazy troublemaker," etc., and etc. and yet I persisted. Now almost five years later the Vested Interest has filed a libel case, which I considered a blessing for it opened literally a Filipino-American version of the Pandora's Box. Finally my non-stop protest and writing exposés about the doings of scalawags, scoundrels and crooks made the people that I had been exposing take the bait, hook, line and sinker. And just wait for my new exposés after the libel case is dismissed . . .

No matter what happens Filipino government officials will now be hesitant to do corrupt acts in Los Angeles and maybe in the whole of the United States because my media friends are now more-courageous to write about anomalies. I have shown the way, the life of a crusading journalist and the truth. And the corrupt leaders and laymen alike know that we are prepared to be taken to court and we fight back come what may.

Even in
Sorsogon Province the Catholic Church is now more attentive to the needs of the poor parishioners because of my writings since 1995 about the corruption in the Diocese. The bishop and his clique have to make good because they know that if they don't do good jobs, my pen serves better than the Sword of Damocles.

And you know what, I sleep so soundly at night because I know that I have been doing the job that I learned from the secular priests of Sorsogon, the SVD fathers, the Benedictine monks and most of all from the Jesuits. I think that my former mentors like Archbishop Teofisto Alberto, Msgr. Florencio Yllana, Msgr. Manuel Salvador, Msgr. Jaime Mora, Fr. Eladio Palces, Fr. Panfilo Gianan, SVD, and other Bicolano departed prelates who taught me the principles when I was just this tall are smiling in their graves, knowing that I never let them down and continue to do what they preached and especially now that I am preaching literally what they figuratively wanted me to do.

When I arrived home tonight at
9:30 p.m. after a Philippine Town meeting in Los Angeles, I took out my 30-month-old grandson out to see the nearly-full moon. I could not tell him that oftentimes people say that what I do is "suntok sa buwan." Someday when my grandson gets older, I will tell him the meaning of that idiom. Perhaps when that day comes, the Filipino-American community would then have had changes of leadership for the better. Maybe. Maybe not. But when that day comes people will remember my crusade of trying to change the character of the Filipino and the Filipino American to a profile of honesty, of moral courage and decency.

Salamatonon for your comments. (“Salamatonon” is the Sorsoganon term for “Thank you very much.”)

Lolo Bobby (Grandpa Bobby)

UNQUOTE. # # #


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