Mark Lorenzana

Paid hack. Accidental editor. Occasional blogger. Frustrated columnist.

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Filipinos and Anti-intellectualism

I’ve always wondered why the Philippines can’t produce more world-class filmmakers like Mexico’s Guillermo Del Toro, Alejandro González Iñarritu, and Alfonso Cuarón, or world-class novelists like India’s Arundhati Roy, Aravind Adiga, Kiran Desai, and Salman Rushdie. I’ve always been jealous of these two countries because of this, the fact that they can produce intellectuals that their citizens can be proud of. And like the Philippines, India and Mexico are developing countries, so poverty isn’t really an excuse.

I suspect it’s because a lot of Filipinos are allergic to anything remotely intellectual. Majority of us just want to follow, and are content (or even demand) to have a government that would keep us in line. Even discourse on social media is discouraged; dare to post your views on social media, and you run the risk of being called “matalino” or “bright boy. (Disparagingly, of...

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You can’t love Digong and sing Vico’s praises too

You’re either a pineapple-pizza lover or a pineapple-pizza hater.

There’s no in between.

It’s called the Hawaiian pizza, but no, it wasn’t invented in Hawaii. One day the Canadians decided that they wanted pineapple with their pizza, so the Hawaiian pizza was born. In Canada. Go figure.

And yes, full disclosure—I love pineapple with my pizza. So sue me.

I also love Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto. I love the guy.

Unless you’re a mindless DDS, I’m sure you love him too.

What’s not to love?

He’s doing what we should expect a public servant to be doing. Sure, that’s how low our standards are nowadays in the Philippines when it comes to politicians, but that’s another story.

Not only is Mayor Vico taking care of his constituents in Pasig, he doesn’t seem to want to seek the limelight. No, instead, the limelight is drawn to him like moth to flame because, in these trying times, he’s the...

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Check your privilege, Filipino Middle Class

Funny how most of the middle class here in the Philippines are now panicking because of this coronavirus pandemic. They weren’t that jittery when Oplan Tokhang was at its peak because, well, it was only the poorest of the poor getting shot in dark alleys. But now the poor—those who don’t earn if they don’t go out on the streets and who are gonna die of hunger first before they die of COVID-19 anyway—are suddenly looked upon by these panicky middle class as something that can actually threaten them. After all, viruses spread, and they spread fast: doesn’t matter if you’re poor, middle class, or rich.

The difference is, the rich (and influential) can have themselves tested (like those shameless Philippine senators who’ve already wasted test kits because, well, they can) easily and can quarantine themselves for as long as they want. The middle class, we will run out of food. If this thing...

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My Journey to Becoming a Journalist, And Why It Wasn’t Meant to Be (Part 1)

I’ve always wanted to become a journalist.

For as long as I could remember, one of my biggest dreams was to write for a newspaper as a news reporter. Yup, I was one of those rare kids who immediately knew what he wanted to do in life. And it helped that my mom introduced me to reading at an early age, and soon I was gobbling up not only books but also newspapers.

So when I graduated from high school and was about to enter college, I really wanted to take up journalism. There was only one problem: my dad already had a school in mind for me, and if I didn’t go to THAT school, he wouldn’t pay for my tuition. It wasn’t just me: my brother and I would go to the University of San Carlos, and my sisters would go to St. Theresa’s College.

And so we did. My dad had his way, of course, because all four of us wanted to go to college. It was either go to his preferred schools, or flip burgers in...

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Perros Calientes Rojos

My online Spanish teacher asked me (in Spanish, of course) if I enjoyed eating perro caliente.

It took me a while to answer her, because I was stumped. It doesn’t take much to stump me in Spanish, which, to this day–even while I am already quite conversational in the language already–I am still trying to learn as hard as I can. Then it dawned on me.

Perro = dog
Caliente = hot

Hot dog!

I gave her an enthusiastic “¡Si!” only to be quickly admonished that I should have known better, that I shouldn’t have been confused. After all, it was a pair of basic words that I should already have known by now.


Well, I agree–but with a caveat. Here in Mexico, people use “perro” to refer to a dog. They use “caliente” to refer to the adjective “hot.” But I have never heard “perro caliente” used to refer to a hot dog–you know, a type of sandwich consisting of a sausage served in the slit of a...

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On Lending Money

I’ve never been in a situation where I needed money so badly that I had to go to someone for a loan—thank God. It’s been the other way around, though, through the years.

Last year two people borrowed money from me; the first is someone I trust, so I let him borrow a relatively huge amount of money—and expected him to pay me promptly. The other person is only an acquaintance, so I loaned him a relatively small amount, at the back of my mind thinking that he will never pay me back again, so I never expected to hear from me again.

Sometimes my intuition amazes me.

I was right. The first person who loaned the huge amount of money paid me promptly and thanked me profusely after. I told him that he could borrow money from me again if he needed to. The second person, after contacting me a couple of times and saying that he needed more time to pay for the debt (both times, by the way, I...

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The Sad Reality of Being a Filipino Writer in English

I’ve been working as a writer since 2004, and it never fails to amaze me the level of disrespect that writers get on a daily basis.

I’m talking about paid hacks here, like myself, writers who get paid to write whatever it is that the client wants written: SEO articles, website content, emailers, brochure and flyer copy, ad copy—anything.

It’s especially difficult when you’re a Filipino writer writing in English and they FIND OUT that you’re Filipino. They will go out of their way to underpay you—criminally, I might add. And the bad thing is, a lot of these clients who are looking for writers are also Filipinos who run their own outsourcing companies. Imagine Filipinos taking advantage of their fellow Filipinos, instead of trying to lift up their kababayans or countrymen.

I left a full-time job in the Philippines five years ago and took up a couple of freelance jobs that I can do...

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The Problem with “White” Filipinos

A recent story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer caught my eye. The headline: “Trump viewed negatively in many countries; support highest in Philippines.”

I’m not surprised.

Just as I’m not surprised that I actually know people—relatives who are now living in the US and are American citizens—who voted for Donald Trump.

I can only guess the reason behind their decision to vote for someone who has always been open about his racism and anti-immigrant bent. Which is even stranger to me, since these relatives are immigrants themselves—true-blue Filipinos born and raised in the Philippines, some of whom started their journey to American citizenship by overstaying on a US tourist visa.

But I suspect that one of the biggest reasons that they voted for Trump is their misguided belief in the “model minority” fallacy.

A lot of Filipino immigrants worldwide, not just in the United States...

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