Courtesy of Maoi I have been reading Twisted 6, a collection of newspaper articles by Filipina newspaper columnist Jessica Zafra. Maoi has annotated the text in her beautiful handwriting so that I can understand Zafra’s native references and lingo despite my ignorant Anglo background. (For example, I’m not sure if the adjective from “Philippines” has one or two ‘p’s. UPDATE: I’m doubly wrong: it has one ‘l’ and one ‘p’ (in the middle). Now, Maoi, given that this is a Spanish thing, does the adjective “Filipino” have to agree with the gender of its noun—as I’ve tried to make it?)

Zafra is sharp, funny and ironic, but has a weakness for cliché that interferes with my enjoyment of her work. There is huge comedy potential in Filipino life and culture so I’m holding her to high standards.

In one of the book’s pieces, Better Off Here, Zafra compares occasional banana republic-style happenings in the Philippines with some of the awful things going on elsewhere in the world. Her source is Fielding’s World’s Most Dangerous Places.

The article was written in May 2000. Since then, thanks to those dangerous imperialists George W. Bush and Tony Blair, and despite bleating from certain quarters, four of the places mentioned in Zafra’s piece—Sierra Leone, Liberia, Afghanistan and Iraq—are , in important parts, much less dangerous than they were. They work quickly, those neo-cons. As opposed to the trusted, multilaterals of the UN.