IN A less publicized news last week, a Filipina was detained for allegedly smuggling illegal drugs in Australia. She was later released from jail after she was found innocent of the crime after the packets of iced tea recovered from her at the Melbourne Airport tested negative for drugs. The Filipina also received a compensation of 5,000 Australian dollars (around P209,000) for the harrowing incident. Would she have been arrested if she were Caucasian?

In New Jersey, USA, where the present highest elected official is black, a 16 year-old boy made an announcement over the Walmart’s PA system ordering all black people to leave the store. "Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now,” the boy announced.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

The boy had been charged with harassment and bias intimidation.

Disturbing as it may seem, racial discrimination seems to rear its ugly head in our midst every once so often. Though white supremacy movements have long since been buried when the first non-white was made to vote in America, every once in a while, we are reminded of how racism has cut borders and how deeply etched the scars remain.

Asians, like blacks, are still considered a minority among First World countries and are sad to say, "second class citizens". In a world that spawned Auschwitz and Treblinka, to name a few, racial prejudices come not as a surprise. The wounds of genocide have cut far deeper than the racial slurs on late night television.

However, how many innocent lives have been sacrificed and forever tarnished all in the name of race or the color of one's skin. When can we see past the outward appearance and into one's essence as a human being?

The essence of each and every human being is not in his activity, like his race, but in his potential, to overcome and become. The essence of an entity is not in its material qualities but in its purpose, for which it will long be remembered.

Manny and Kris

"I believe that for the past decades, the nation has not been governed and managed well," Manny Villar speaking on a radio interview.

How long have you been in government, Manny?

This is the question to ask. The point to make. All of the May candidates, local and national, have been in government service for a good long time, some of them in very senior positions.

Has poverty lessened? Are we self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs such as rice? Are the government agencies which manage these things even ensuring that the lights stay on?

Ah, say the candidates, we've passed this resolution, crafted that bill, proposed the other ordinance and you and I know that anyone can craft a bill -- the trick is to have the courage and the will and the cojones to see that the bill is acted on. That something actually happens. That the bill doesn't become merely a statistic to fluff up the yearend’s bragging lists.

Every one of the candidates has served in some part of the administration in the past; why should we think that the same old faces are going to make any difference to the future?

Moving on, Tuesday, we learnt that Samal is to introduce a P5 'user's fee' for visitors, the receipt being a blue-green ticket and -- wait a minute, hasn't there always been a P5 ticket fee?

Going back years and years, decades, before the new ticket booths and car park and, gosh, there's even a motel cum resort, as you drove up the dusty track from the ferry this old guy used to leap out of the verge waving what looked like a roll of old bus tickets. He's demand five pesos. I thought it was a bit of private enterprise -- good luck to him -- but then I learnt it was a 'visitor's fee. Official. To preserve the environment. An environment we could appreciate as we bumped along the then crappy-track to Babak and then the still crappy-track to the end of the island. So what's all this about a 'new' P5 'user's fee? Or maybe there's now going to be two guys leaping out of the undergrowth as you drive off the ferry.

Monday evening now, post Channel 23's Amazing Race. I didn't get to the clicker quick enough and up came something called The Wrap and -- oh god -- footage of a blubbering Kris Aquino. Sitting across from Kris was Boy Abunda pursing his glossy lips, looking concerned, but I wonder what he was really thinking? There goes the eye makeup? Poor old Nonoy? Maybe I should go back to the shampoo ads? Answers to the Sun.Star on a postcard.