Friday, March 2, 2018

Warning: Do this! by By John Mangun - February 28, 2018

“IF symptoms persist, see a doctor.” “Read instructions before using. If you cannot read these instructions, do not use.” “Do not put any person in this washing machine”.
Almost everything comes with a warning label these days because, apparently, comedian George Carlin was right: “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” “Caution: Coffee is hot. Avoid pouring on crotch area.”
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a warning label for stock market investing. Most investors usually do not get any farther than some inspirational wisdom, such as from Warren Buffett: “I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.” Interestingly, everyone that uses his quote always excludes the first sentence of what he wrote: “I never attempt to make money on the stock market.” Buffett never invested in stocks; he only bought companies.
Most of the rules for stock investing are about as valuable in real life as what was on the business card of Genghis Khan found at the bottom of one of the mountains built from the skulls of his dead enemies. “Hate the sin but love the sinner.”
Here are my suggestions for stock investing warning labels.
“If you are going to ‘buy and hold’ then buy and hold.” You hear this mantra over and over about staying in for the long term and proponents
give example after example of where this strategy is effective. Here is the reality.
Almost every investment strategy works if you follow it. The truth is that every time the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped by more than 10 percent, huge net outflows for retail—read the “little guy”—investors has happened. By definition a 10-percent decline is a “correction,” not a “bear market.” Remember that Mike Tyson quote about being punched in the face? Winners stick to the plan no matter how difficult.
Every investor knows deep in his heart that taking a small loss is better than taking a large loss. But the only way you can do that is by cutting a losing position. So remember, “Warning: Paper losses are real losses. Your portfolio is only worth what you can sell it for.” Understand that your loser may not come back. And even if it does, a stock that is down 50 percent has to put a 100-percent gain just to get back to even.
The other side of this is, “Paper profit is your money. Treat it with respect.” Letting a profitable position “run” does not mean letting it run into a loss. Further, if you find P100 on the ground, go buy Lotto tickets. Why not? But if you receive a salary increase that you worked for, are you going to use the added income to play the Lotto?
“Warning: A good company is not necessarily a good stock.” The only thing worse than buying a good company with a bad stock is finding out the love of your life is actually your cousin. Some great companies are terrible stock investments. Some terrible companies have great stocks over a short term. Try not to confuse the two. While fundamental analysis will identify great companies, it does not take into account market and investor sentiment. Stock prices do not go higher unless investors buy. And frequently, investors do not buy the stock of “great companies.” Go with the flow.
Finally, “You cannot fight the market.” You must control your stock investments. Do not let the market control your portfolio. Otherwise, you might as well buy Lotto tickets.
Please e-mail questions and comments to Visit my web site at www.mangunonmarkets.comFollow me on Twitter@mangunonmarkets.

Federalism is already in 1987 Constitution; no need to change it

Atty. Joey D. Lina Former Senator
Atty. Joey D. Lina
Former Senator
By Atty. Joey D. Lina
Former Senator
When I was governor of Laguna, I would often assert that the national government was irrelevant in our province simply because the provincial government is constitutionally autonomous. This means the province has the power to chart its own destiny and plan on its own apart from national government.
Of course, no provincial government can organize its own national defense, have its own currency, enter into international treaties, have its own weights and measures, customs, quarantine, and other functions. These are powers of the national government alone. But for all other areas of local concern, local government units (LGUs) are in charge.
Thus, our provincial government crafted its own 21-point development program of public services specifically designed to more effectively and directly benefit the people of Laguna. This style of planning implements the constitutional principle of subsidiarity, which is simply acting at the lowest level of government rather than at the national level. To boost its economy and finance its 21-point development program, the provincial government put into full use the power of LGUs to create  their own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees, and charges that accrue exclusively to LGUs. This no-nonsense exercise of local autonomy and subsidiarity made Laguna the country’s first-ever “billionaire province” in terms of revenue.
The seemingly maverick stance of Laguna as an autonomous LGU is not meant to highlight an exception to the rule, but rather to exemplify how all LGUs should exercise local autonomy as guided by Article II, Section 25, of the 1987 Constitution, which states: “The state shall ensure the autonomy of local government.”
The Local Government Code of 1991 operationalizes the principles of local autonomy, subsidiarity, and decentralization enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, specifically the general welfare clause in Section 16 which states: “Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare.” The same provision also states: “Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants.” Laguna’s 21-point development program was based on the general welfare clause.
What is the relevance of Laguna as a working model of an autonomous LGU?
Because Laguna shows that local autonomy, subsidiarity, and decentralization – the hallmarks of federalism – are already embedded in the 1987 Constitution and can be implemented without need of constitutional change. Indeed, these hallmarks present in the 1987 Constitution qualify our present system of governance as “federalism, Philippine-style,” consistent with the proposal of its top advocate, the PDP-Laban.
That local governments are empowered by the Constitution itself with the capacity for self-rule to effectively address and decide on all matters of local concern is what I pointed out in the last Senate hearing, presided by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, looking into various proposals on charter change and federalism.
In that Senate hearing, I explained that in our present Constitution, the President can organize administrative regions through executive orders (EO). In fact, all regions in the country were created by presidential EOs, the EO creating the Negros region being the latest. It is indeed within the power of the President, as head of the executive department and as overall supervisor of all local governments, to create new administrative regions or to reduce their number for more efficient administration.
Section 14, Article 10, of the 1987 Constitution mandates: “The President shall provide for regional development councils or other similar bodies composed of local government officials, regional heads of departments and other government offices, and representatives from non-governmental organizations within the regions for purposes of administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of the units therein and to accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units in the region.”
Therefore, the three main purposes for these “regional development councils (RDCs) or other similar bodies” are: First, for “administrative decentralization”; second, “to strengthen the autonomy” of local governments within the region, for them to have a say in all matters that impact on the region; and third, for RDCs “to accelerate the economic and social growth and development” of the region. Unfortunately, RDCs have been virtually ignored for the longest time.
By strengthening and fully empowering LGUs and RDCs, the principles of decentralization, subsidiarity and local autonomy, which comprise the essence of a federal system, shall be fulfilled and realized without need of constitutional change.
How can full empowerment of LGUs and RDCs be brought about? This question can be answered in two ways: by executive action, and bylegislative action.
By executive action, the President can make full use of his power toensure that the budget proposal submitted by Malacañang to Congress contains adequate funding for RDC plans and programs, and that no regions are left behind. Also, the President must order the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to refrain from using repealed presidential decrees in computing the share of LGUs in national taxes, thus drastically reducing the base of their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).
The President must also put a stop to the non-inclusion in the national taxes of internal revenue taxes collected by the Bureau of Customs on VAT and excise tax on imported goods, and the deduction of several special accounts, and the COA share from the total national internal revenue collections. These have led to massive shortfalls in the LGU share on national taxes.
The shortfalls pertaining to the BOC collections have already reached P931.7 billion (1995-2017), while the shortfall from the special accounts and COA share is P234 billion (1992-2017). In addition, LGUs have been deprived of about P70.9 billion (1992-2016) resulting from “discrepancies between IRA in the General Appropriations Act and amounts actually certified by the BIR.” All in all, the shortfalls which LGUs have been deprived of now total a staggering P1.236 trillion.
The President could declare that the national government owes local governments in the amounts of these shortfalls accumulated over the years and, hence, order their payment. This would strengthen the fiscal autonomy of LGUs that have been reduced to begging for appropriate funds due them for a long time now. Imagine the immediate impact on local development should these massive funds be made available!
I also pointed out in the Senate hearing that the regional level of national agencies like the Development of Health, Social Welfare and Department, Agriculture, and Tourism, ought to have already been phased out by this time, as provided by the Local Government Code which states that the phase-out should have transpired one year after the effectivity of the law. These departments should have then served as monitoring offices and provided technical services to LGUs.
As for legislative action, Congress should amend the Local Government Code so that LGUs’ share in the national wealth and IRA is reversed in favor of local governments – instead of the current 60% to national government and a mere 40% to LGUs. Also, the provision that “local government units shall have a share in the national internal revenue taxes based on the collection of the third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal year” should be amended to base the collection on the preceding year, instead of three years prior. The President should certify these amendments as urgent.
A thorough understanding of the 1987 Constitution will clearly show that the principles of federalism – local autonomy, subsidiarity, and decentralization – are indeed already in the 1987 Constitution.What needs to be done is to operationalize these principles of federalism: first, by educating national and local officials on how these principles should apply to their offices; second, by empowering LGUs to assert their constitutionally guaranteed autonomy; and third, by strengthening RDCs to become fully engaged in the development of their regions.
Beyond the detailed discussion of governmental actions to be taken is the need to reach out to the Filipino citizenry, to transform the minds and hearts of our people to break away from the old habits of our past under colonial and authoritative regimes, when government was paternalistic, centrist, and dependent on national funds, where choosing leaders was personality- rather than capability and values-based, where the value of the vote was not the future of the nation but the day’s meal. Our people deserve to know how to become good citizens, to understand how government must be run to effectively serve and develop the nation for the people’s benefit. Our people deserve to know how to make informed choices on which government officials will serve the nation and not themselves. Not just government but civil society and institutions must actively participate in bringing about this transformation. Provisions for social justice and people empowerment are uniquely imbedded in our constitution alongside those of decentralization and local autonomy. These must be protected and put into action.
Making changes in the fundamental law of the land must only be done as a matter of absolute necessity and urgency, and not in haste. If inefficiencies and inequalities in the government system can be fixed by executive and legislative action, as well as by educating officials, empowering LGUS, and strengthening RDCs, then let’s do it! The ultimate goal of a federal Philippines would then be realized without tinkering with the Constitution.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

‘I like Rodrigo, he’s a good guy’

 (The Philippine Star)
US President Donald Trump waves goodbye at the NAIA as he enters Air Force One yesterday.
MANILA, Philippines — Before boarding Air Force One that would take him back to Washington, US President Donald Trump yesterday made sure his words would reach the ears of President Duterte.
Sent off by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Trump said, “Tell Rodrigo I like him very much. He’s a good guy. I had a great time here.”
Medialdea, along with US Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez and US Ambassador Sung Kim, led the send-off party at NAIA.

“I think it’s a very successful trip and the Philippines and the US relations are back on track,” Romualdez said. He will fly to Washington on Monday to officially start his tour of duty.
“I told (Trump to) have a safe trip. I’ll see you in Washington,” Romualdez said, referring to his presentation of credentials at the White House.
Trump reportedly answered: “We look forward to it.” 
From the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City where he was billeted during his two-day stay in the country for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings, Trump took the Marine One helicopter to NAIA.
Air Force One took off from the NAIA’s Balagbag ramp at 3:26 p.m.
Before he left, Trump delivered his speech at the East Asia Summit (EAS) at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
The EAS is chaired by Duterte, who is also this year’s host of the Leaders’ Summit.
Trump, however, did not stay to join the traditional “family photo” with fellow EAS leaders.
Trump attended the just-concluded ASEAN-US Summit and had bilateral talks with Duterte last Monday night on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit held.
At the gala dinner at the SMX Convention Center last Sunday, Duterte said Trump prompted him to join “Asia’s Queen of Songs” Pilita Corrales in singing “Ikaw.”
“Tremendous talent. Musical talent, dance talent, and we really had a tremendous time, all of the leaders,” Trump said.
“The Filipino performers were great. But the greatest performer was him,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, referring to Duterte, quoted Trump as having told him while the latter pointed his finger to where Duterte was seated with partner Honeylet Avanceña.
Dureza said that he took a chance to engage Trump in a brief chat when the US President passed by and shook hands with him after the gala dinner.
“I told him: you should practice singing, too, so you could do a duet together next time,” Dureza said.
To which Trump replied: “Great idea. I’ll do that.”
Dureza later joined the bilateral talks with Trump and his official delegation along with Medialdea and other Cabinet officials, including Romualdez and Kim.
“The whole bilateral meeting showed clear good vibes between the two leaders,” Dureza said.

‘Many good friends’

Over his two-day stay in the country, Trump said he made “many good friends.”
In his Twitter post yesterday, Trump said he also looks forward to forging “fair trade deals” with ASEAN countries and dialogue partners.
“Just arrived at #ASEAN50 in the Philippines for my final stop with world leaders. Will lead to fair trade deals unlike the horror shows from past administrations,” he said.
Trump was apparently referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that his predecessor Barack Obama had pushed for in the region.
One of Trump’s first actions as president was to quit TPP, a broad trade agreement with 11 other nations.
In their first bilateral meeting, Trump and Duterte discussed illegal drugs, free trade and aid for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
They also briefly talked about human rights in the country, according to Romualdez. 
The US leader earlier hailed his “great relationship” with the Philippine president.

‘Making America great again’

For Trump, his Asian trip was all about making America great again.
Yesterday, he declared the success of his five-country trip in the region, saying all countries dealing with the US know that the “rules have changed.”
“Will be leaving the Philippines (on Tuesday) after many days of constant meetings and work in order to #MAGA (Make America Great Again)! My promises are rapidly being fulfilled,” Trump tweeted.
“After my tour of Asia, all countries dealing with us on trade know that the rules have changed. The United States has to be treated fairly and in a reciprocal fashion. The massive trade deficits must go down quickly!” he added.
The US president campaigned on a platform of bringing back jobs in the US, criticizing various deals made by his predecessor.
Details of the deals made by Trump during his trip to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines have yet to be released.
But in the joint statement issued by the Philippines and the US after the bilateral meeting of Trump and President Duterte, it was mentioned that the two leaders agreed to deepen the economic relationship of the long-time allies.
“The two leaders pledged to nurture economic ties, including private sector cooperation, to create jobs and opportunities for people in both countries. To this end, both sides will explore strengthening dialogues for innovation and sharing of best practices in technology to optimize the position of the Philippines as a preferred destination for American investments in the Asia-Pacific region,” the joint statement read.
The statement said the US welcomed the Philippines’ interest in a bilateral free trade agreement and that both sides agreed to discuss the matter further through the US-Philippines Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
Trump also held meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Philippines. – With Helen Flores, Janvic Mateo

ASEAN won’t interfere in drug war

The regional bloc welcomed the assistance of dialogue partners and other external parties in addressing this problem through capacity-building, intelligence information sharing and other forms of cooperation consistent with relevant international laws “all the while preserving the sovereign right of countries in deciding the most appropriate approaches to address their national drug situations.” King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo
MANILA, Philippines — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recognizes the sovereign right of countries in deciding the “most appropriate approaches” to address their national drug problems, in an acknowledgement of President Duterte’s war on drugs.
In a draft chairman’s statement of the 31st ASEAN Summit, the group also recognizes that the illegal drug problem is affecting not only some member-states but also other countries outside the region.

The regional bloc welcomed the assistance of dialogue partners and other external parties in addressing this problem through capacity-building, intelligence information sharing and other forms of cooperation consistent with relevant international laws “all the while preserving the sovereign right of countries in deciding the most appropriate approaches to address their national drug situations.”

“We reaffirmed our commitment to a Drug-Free ASEAN,” the statement said.
The bloc also welcomed the progress in the implementation of the ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities Against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025 and the adoption of the ASEAN Cooperation Plan to Tackle Illicit Drug Production and Trafficking in the Golden Triangle 2017-2019, charting the region’s actions for the next two years in tackling the drug problem.
It commended the good work of the ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Center in publishing the second installment of the region’s drug report – the ASEAN Drug Monitoring Report 2016 – incorporating the drug trends and drug problem in the region in 2016. 
It also acknowledged the continuing efforts of the ASEAN bodies – Narcotics Cooperation Center, Airport Interdiction Task Force and Seaport Interdiction Task Force – in strengthening ASEAN cooperation, especially on information sharing and intelligence exchange as well as capacity building among drug control and law enforcement agencies at border checkpoints in the region.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

SEC files criminal complaint vs. Calata Corp.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9) — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed at the Justice Department on Wednesday a criminal complaint against agribusiness firm Calata Corporation.
The SEC slapped the Calata Corp., its officers, and its directors with the violation of the Securities Regulation Code for alleged market manipulation and "false and misleading" statements about their partnership to build and operate the ₱65-billion Mactan Leisure City Resort and Casino in Cebu.
According to SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection director Jose Aquino, Calata Corp. had filed a disclosure at the SEC and Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) regarding the establishment of the resort, even as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) had denied the company's licensing application for the project when the statements were made.
Aquino said the company made it appear as if they would receive a license for the project, which would be fully operational by 2020.
"There was no disclose. So when the disclosure came they made it appear as if there was still that plan. In fact the disclose was in 2017 they would be able to receive license, and by 2020 it would be fully operationalize. That is why we are filing a case," Aquino said.
Following news of the partnership, the price of CALATA shares rose roughly 28 percent to ₱3.55 per share compared to ₱2.77 the day before.
"The evidence shows that investors traded CALATA shares in reaction to the disclosure concerning the establishment of the ₱64 billion Mactan Leisure Cty Project," the complaint said.
The SEC is accusing the company of market manipulation under section 24 (d) and making false statements in a SEC report under section 54.1 (c) in relation to sections 17 and 54.2 of the Securities Regulation Code.
The SEC's complaint comes after the Philippine Stock Exchange announced in a November 7 memo it had decided to delist Calata Corp. for violation of its disclosure rules.
Trading for the company, which has been suspended since June 30, 2017, will remain on hold until the effective date of delisting, PSE added.
Calata Corporation is one of the country's biggest agricultural conglomerates.
According to its website, it is the "largest retailer and distributor of top agrochemical brands, feeds, fertilizers, veterinary medicines and seeds throughout the country."

Isolating itself from the people

Backbencher by Rod Kapunan

The rally on Edsa called by Catholic Archbishop Socrates Villegas was greeted with sharp reaction from an increasing number of anti-cleric and anti-oligarch elements in our society because the organizers sought to highlight the issue of “extrajudicial killings” and human rights violation. The rally headed by known reactionary and conservative elements in the Church has lost much of its appeal because 1986 and 2017 belong to two different political condition and situation with the people more conscious of the issues being presented.
The organizers cannot deny their motive nor can they segregate the issue as non-political because the issue of extrajudicial killings is now being exploited by elements opposed to President Duterte which the government has vigorously pursued to eradicate the more debilitating problem of illegal drugs. The issues of EJK and human rights violation are bound to collapse not because the majority favor the slaughter of their own kind but of the fact that the yellow opposition and their traditional ally from the extreme left have already prejudged the Duterte administration as responsible for the extrajudicial killings of drug lords, couriers and pushers.
Everybody knows that the clerics and their not-so-religious allies representing the oligarchy and the communists attended to emasculate the number to give credibility to their prejudgement of the government as behind these killings. Undeniably, their motive was political. In fact, for one to express his objection against the so-called extrajudicial killings, he cannot escape the indictment that he supports the continued spread of dangerous drugs. It is political because it leaves no room for the person to explain why he opted to take that stand.
This explains why the so-called healing rally was attended by prominent anti-Duterte personalities coming from the same political spectrum led by the hallucinating yellow opposition, corrupt Liberal Party and the ever opportunistic Left. Even the not-so-politicized public was able to readily identify them as anti-Duterte for the fact that they all raise the same issue. The presence of political personalities as Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Neri Colmenares, Teddy Casiño and former presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was more than enough to tell who they are.
The crux about the position taken by these hapless hypocrites in castigating the administration is it contravenes the very problem which the society wants to eradicate. Nobody wants to commit extrajudicial killings or violate human rights, but the use of illegal drugs which has become pervasive that those engaged in the manufacture, importation, sale and distribution of illegal drugs have become punitive that imposing higher penalties has become illusory. Paradoxically, for anyone to take a soft stand against this menace that is ripping apart the rubrics of our society is to condone the spread of illegal drugs. One cannot make himself an objective observer on the issue, for even if he is not directly affected, it is his society that is being destroyed.
Human rights violation is a political issue, no doubt. It comes in various forms, and violation of human rights happens when the government allows the perpetuation of an extremely unequal society resulting in poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, ignorance and deprivation in the basic needs for human survival. It is this depressing situation where the Church has consistently and systematically violated because God created men not to be deprived of their basic needs which He himself created.
Poverty is man-made just as human rights violation. But as we see it today, the Church has opted to side itself with the oligarchs, the elite, the landlords and with a foreign power that continue to meddle in our internal affairs under the pretext of protecting human rights. It is this fact about the stand of the Church that gained for it the notoriety as a class that thrives on poverty. The Church knows that where there is poverty, there is ignorance. Without poverty created by society, people would see less value for priests like Archbishop Villegas.
With the advent of computer technology where the social media was subsequently invented, people managed to express their sentiment directly through that network which is sometimes called alternative media. The advent of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. now pose as the greatest threat to the corporate monopoly of the mass media. People are now able to effectively present their suggestions which inextricably led to the gradual death of the tri-media: radio, television and newspapers. The social or alternative media is not only a competition in business, as capitalists eating their own kind, but one that is engaged in a different way to disseminate information with the people themselves moulding and shaping their own opinion on every given issue.
We mention this because it is in this remaining bunker where the oligarchs, the elite, the landlords, and the Church thought would allow them to continue in promoting their bogus democracy touted as freedom of the press and of expression. The Church and its allies from the oligarchy and the Left believe that through their controlled mainstream media, they can still project that phantom of representing the majority. The people, no matter how discordant their views on issues, remain credible because of their endorsement of this pro-poor administration vis-a-vis in condemning the extravagance of the rich.
The Church cannot set itself apart from this reality. The issue about extrajudicial killings and human rights violation are issues they never raised when its allies were in power. They waited until after the Duterte administration came to power. Unfortunately, President Duterte’s appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque immediately lectured his subordinate about the so-called “value of mainstream media to government and society.” Roque is completely ignorant of what is going on. He forgot that the mainstream media despite losing much of its steam has long been appropriated by the oligarchy and the moneyed class.
There is no way Roque can convince the mainstream media to side with Duterte because the issue is not about the idealism of justice or about that self-serving claim that they represent the majority which is a falsity, but a war fighting for their own class interest. It may sound a bit Marxist, but the mainstream media is defending their class interest, of their corporate owners which succeeded in reducing Left as their barking mascot. The Church, sadly enough, chose to float in the heavens of hallucination. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

"The Filipino Spirit is Rising"

Dear everyone,

This is not only inspiring but a must read for every Filipino and for all who would want to change the world. This is true today as the day it was given in 2007 - 10 years ago.
Please pass it on!

God bless!

Tony Meloto, the visionary and driving force behind the Gawad Kalinga movement, is gifted with a Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, by the Ateneo de Davao. He then delivers a speech to the graduates of the university, a challenge actually, for patriotism and heroism. The same message will be given to eight other colleges and universities who have asked Tony Meloto to be their commencement speaker for 2007.

"The Filipino Spirit is Rising"
Antonio Meloto
2007 Commencement Exercises
Ateneo de Davao University

Today, I feel intelligent. Not only am I addressing some of the brightest minds in Mindanao, but I am also being honored by this prestigious university with a Doctorate in Humanities, Honoris Causa. This is the first doctorate that I have received and I am accepting it in all humility and pride as a recognition of the nobility of the cause and the heroism of the thousands of Gawad Kalinga workers that I represent. Thank you Fr. Ting Samson and Ateneo de Davao for bestowing the highest academic degree on a man who was born without a pedigree- the "askal" (asong kalye) who went to Ateneo and came back to the slums to help those he left behind.

To a person like myself who did not excel in Ateneo in my pursuit of a college degree, receiving this Ph. D. is extremely flattering being fully conscious that my principal role in this movement is to be the storyteller of the many who put in the sacrifice and the hard work and yet have remained mostly unrecognized. It is also exhilarating because it builds on the growing global awareness, triggered by Gawad Kalinga and other movements that have not given up on our country, that the Filipinos can and will build a squatter-free, slum- free and hunger- free Philippines by committing their collective genius, passion and strength towards restoring the dignity and the potential for excellence of the poor, the weak and the powerless.

The Filipino spirit today is rising wherever he is in the world. He is starting to discover that he has the power to liberate himself from being a slave of the past... that he can remove the label stuck to his soul as a second class people from a third world country... that he can correct the scandal of history of being the most corrupt in Asia despite being the only Christian nation, until East Timor, in the region.

In the right setting the Filipino has proven that he can be law- abiding, hardworking, honest and excellent.

Over the years, I have not met a Filipino beggar in my travel to the US, Canada and Australia...not a single beggar that I have seen or have heard of out of more than 2 million Filipinos in the US; many Caucasians, Afro- Americans and Latinos- yes- but no Filipinos. Clearly, it is not the nature of Filipinos to beg if he is in the right home and community environment. The mendicant culture in his native land is man- made and artificial and can therefore be unmade and corrected if we give him back his dignity which is his birthright as a son of God.

In the same vein, we know that the Filipino is not lazy. Time Magazine in its 2006 article on Happiness identifies the Filipino as one of the ethnic groups in America least likely to go on welfare. How many of us know of friends and relatives who would take on two or even three jobs in pursuit of their dreams for a better life. Hardworking when motivated, resilient when tested- that is the Filipino...that is us. It is no surprise therefore that the average income of the Filipino- Americans is higher that the US national average; the former slave is now richer than the master in his master's home country.

We must believe that we were designed for excellence. World- class Filipino doctors and nurses are healing the sick of America and Europe. Our sailors dominate the seas in every mode of marine transport for commerce and pleasure providing every imaginable form of service- and often always, they are the best navigators, the best chefs, the best entertainers. Thriving economies in Asia carry the mark of Filipino managerial expertise in their start-up stage. Filipino CEOs, CFOs, COOs captain top multinational corporations carrying on the proud expat tradition of SGV's Washington Sycip, PLDT-SMART's Manny Pagnilinan, P&G's Manny Pacis and many others.

Sadly, we are top of the line, crème de la crème, the best of the best elsewhere in the world except in our homeland. While the Jews and the Arabs were busy building abundance out of their desert, we were busy creating a desert out of our abundance.

Let us put a stop to our inanity and hypocrisy. Let us stop cracking jokes about our shame and misery. Instead let us celebrate with our hard work and integrity the return of our honor and pride as a gifted people, blessed by God with this beautiful land. Let us honor every great deed, every sacrifice, and every kindness that we extend to our disadvantaged and needy countrymen.

Let us put an end to our lamentation. We have suffered long enough. For 400 years, we have been gnashing our teeth, blaming one another, stepping on each other and yet have the temerity at the end of the day to ask God why this is happening as if it was His fault. It is now time to hope, to care, to work together and to rejoice.

Yes, we will rise as a nation if we nurture this emerging beautiful spirit of the Filipino and cultivate an intelligent heart. How? When we show our love for God by being our brother's keeper- giving land to the landless, homes to the homeless and food to the hungry. This is about love and justice in a country where the majority of our people are landless, millions of them living in shanties and slums and 17% of them experiencing hunger in a rich and fertile land. This is not about charity but about authentic Christian stewardship and nation- building.

We will rise as a nation when rich Filipinos will consider the poor as an heir, like our youngest child, equal in worth and dignity with our own children, deserving an equal share in our children's inheritance. A beautiful spirit and an intelligent heart consider the poor as family, see the face of Christ in them, and see the paradise that every slum community can become. That is why every GK home is beautifully painted and the standard of landscaping of every GK village is Ayala Alabang or Ladislawa in the case of Davao.

When we build first world communities for the poorest Filipino, we give them dignity and first world aspirations that will motivate them to dream bigger and work harder with support and nurturing. A recent study of GK Brookside, Payatas conducted by the UP Diliman College of Economics revealed an amazing result - the confidence and self- respect of the residents, many of them former scavengers, rose from 17% before GK to 99% after GK; 93% consider themselves better off in terms of quality of life and 96% believe that their economic situation will improve in the future. Clearly the spirit of the poor is rising because those with the most share their best with the least.

This nation will rise if her sons and daughters abroad will see wisdom in helping not just their relatives, which is an admirable Filipino trait, but also the poor they do not know who need help the most.

Last night, I arrived from a 1- week trip to the U.S. for the world premiere in Chicago of "Paraiso", the Gawad Kalinga movie, and to attend GK events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The movie was a big hit but the bigger hit for me was the phenomenal response of our patriots in America to help the motherland by building self-reliant and sustainable GK communities. The UST Medical Alumni Association of America Board was planning not just building more houses but also hospitals and community health programs through Gawad Kalusugan. USTMAA president Dr. Primo Andres is building a beautiful GK Village for his wife, Sylvia in Panabo, Davao where she comes from as an expression of his deep affection for her. Another Davaoeno, former Cabinet Secretary Cito Lorenzo, joined me in booming Las Vegas to honor Filipino entertainers and realtors who are investing in the rebuilding of their home country.

Passion for the Philippines was evident everywhere I went. From successful young San Diego businessman Tony Olaes who spoke about sleepless nights in his excitement to help fund 20 new GK villages with his Filipino business partners to the SouthCal Ancop Sikad Bikers pedaling to build Sibol Schools and the Bayanihan Builders who are retired professionals in Los Angeles repairing homes of neighbors to raise resources to build homes in Bicol, to the 8 nurses in NorCal working extra shifts to fund their individual GK villages. The Filipino exile is waking up and starting to unleash a stream of Patriot Funds that will augment the OFW flow in fuelling the Philippine economy.

Today, I am here to salute the beautiful spirit and the intelligent heart of the people of Mindanao. Many of our volunteers here, like many in other parts of the country, build homes for the poor when they themselves do not own land or home. Christians here starting with caretakers from Couples for Christ set aside fear and comfort to serve our fellow Filipinos in Camp Abubakar and other Moslem GK communities. Your students are going out of the classrooms to learn about life and love of God and country by serving in poor communities. The LGU of Davao led by Mayor Duterte and many throughout Mindanao are doing massive land banking in solidarity with our conviction that no Filipino deserves to be a squatter in his own country. And many families here are starting to understand that giving a part of their land to give dignity and security to the landless and homeless poor is not only right with God but also builds peace, triggers economic activity, improves land values- creates a win- win situation for all.

And to you my dear graduates, what can I say? Congratulations of course for finishing what you began and for joining the ranks of the elite few of the Filipinos with a college degree. I thank your parents for their sacrifice and for giving us sons and daughters who will steward this country better than us.

You are entering adult life equipped with a degree from a respected university at an auspicious time in the life of our country. It is your destiny to reach maturity during this great season of hope, this exciting time of awakening, this period of great challenge and heroism.

You have the choice and the opportunity to correct the mistakes of our generation and build a future full of hope in this country. You can be the new breed of political leaders who will gain your mandate through visible and quantifiable performance, rather than mastery of the art of winning elections through cheating and corruption. You can be the new captains of business and industry who will work for profit with a conscience, expanding the market base by wisely investing in developing the potential of the poor for productivity. You can be the new elite of this country who will not be happy to send your children to exclusive schools and live in exclusive subdivisions if out of school street children are ignored and Lazarus continues to live as a squatter outside your gates.

Who can stop us from claiming our Promised Land? Spain is not our master anymore. America is not our master anymore. Japan is not our master anymore. Our enemies are not the corrupt politicians, the greedy rich, the lazy poor, the religious hypocrites and other convenient scapegoats. Our enemies are not out there anymore. Our enemies are now within us.

We have compromised our values and tolerated corruption. We have lowered our standard and tolerated poverty. We have sacrificed the truth for hypocrisy. We have chosen convenience for vision, popularity for leadership...and have chosen despair over hope.

Do we fight or do we run? Is there a King Leonides among you who will fight for honor and freedom? Are there 300 Spartans among you who will confront our enemies with extraordinary courage and love? Can you be the army who will lead our people to victory following the path of peace? Are you the generation of patriots who can shout to the world that no Filipino will remain poor because you will not allow it; that no Filipino will remain a squatter because you will not allow it; that no politician will remain corrupt because you will not allow it?

If you are, then join us in Gawad Kalinga. Together, we can build a great nation, first world in the eyes of God and respected by other great nations.

Godspeed to you our patriots and heroes. God bless our beloved Philippines.