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Friday, December 28, 2007

Speech of Gov. Ed Panlilio at Ateneo de Manila University

Eight hours from now, I will be speaking before a similar audience
at De La Salle University.

I know what you are thinking. You got first dibs at the governor of
Pampanga, and for that alone, the eagle has soared over the archer
once again. "Tuloy", I am tempted to shout, FABILIOH!

By the way, I gave a talk in UP last week, so that probably settles
the implied question.

Beyond your deep-rooted and far-reaching rivalry, I am grateful to
you for giving me a forum to communicate the moral crusade in Pampanga. I
hope that the campus communities will respond positively and become an active
partner in the renewal that we all desire for our country.

You invited me to share with you my experience in responding to the
call of leadership in a time of crisis. I would prefer to rephrase it as a
response to a crisis in leadership. In order to make it clearer to you,
allow me to begin with a bit of an overview of the social and political
situation in Pampanga a few months before the elections.

Lilia Pineda, more casually called Nanay Baby, (nanay na, baby pa.
trust the Filipino to be that family oriented) broke into the turf of the
Lapid father and son when she began a series of so-called consultations with the
people, asking them two questions: first, if their lot has improved with the
ascent of the incumbent governor, Mark Lapid. The answer of course, was
quite obvious, leading to the second question, if they have an alternative
leader they would want to take over the governorship. The answer was
equally undeniable. Equipped with more than adequate resources, she covered
the whole province, practically running a roadshow of grassroots
building.

There was talk that Pineda, then a board member of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan and the wife of Bong Pineda (who is quite notorious, I
mean, famous in his own right throughout Regions One to Five), decided to
face Mark Lapid head on in the coming elections because the governor
chose Con Laus, the son of a local businessman, over her own son, who was the
mayor of Lubao town. To make matters worse for the father of the province,
Pineda ally and Vice Governor Joseller Guiao filed a case against him,
alleging graft and corruption in the supervision and collection of quarry
taxes.

The stage therefore was set for a grand battle between the two
political giants of Pampanga. Every media pundit and sari-sari store istambay
were expecting a drawn out war of attrition, where no prisoners will be
taken and no resources will be spared. A senior citizen described it with a
mixture of expectation and dread, saying, "*muran pera king kampanya*," or
that it will rain money during the campaign. So many of the poverty-
stricken in the province excitedly awaited the coming of the usual generosity,
commonly experienced every three years, but only this time it will come like
wave after wave of blessings. It was often said that it is only during
this period that the poor get the attention and assistance they deserve,
so they better make the most of it by playing one side against the other,
conceding to the highest bidder, as it were. Many among the Kapampangans,
however, were disconsolate at the prospect of having to choose between two
candidates they did not like. A good many of them have decided that early to
leave blank the space for governor in their ballots.

Before this backdrop, a group of people, a priest and some
seminarians among them (no, I was not the priest) regretted the state of affairs that
their province was in. If only to express a statement to the world that
Pampanga is not bereft of good leadership, they decided to gather more of
their like-minded friends and begin to search for an alternative
candidate. Enough is enough, they said, the pride of the Kapampangan is at stake here.
And if you know us, then you should also know that our kayabangan is
legendary.

And so began the series of consultations in search of a candidate
with the moral ground, the resources and the acceptability, who will stand as
a symbol for the Kapampangan dignity and conscience.

We had a great difficulty in searching for that candidate. It even
dawned on us that we might have been too idealistic, too far removed from
reality. Either our prospect could not measure up to our criteria, or he
would not be willing to get entangled between two battling giants. "The election
result is already common knowledge," one of them said, conceding to the
strength of one of the candidates, although I will not say who SHE is.

In the midst of this desperation, one seminarian turned to me and
asked, "what about you?" My immediate and emphatic answer was, "no way!"
My heart and mind was then running on hierarchical fuel. It was never an
option for a Kapampangan priest to run for office in any previous election.
Kapampangans being such a pious people, they revere their priests to a fault,
conceding to them a spiritual leadership that excluded political power.

Like any other Filipino, Kapampangans live with a compartmentalized
sense of morality. Our churches are filled every Sunday, but our jueteng
industry is equally robust. We declare ourselves *cerrado catolico*, but we do
not pay our taxes honestly. Our cars and jeepneys are festooned with images
and pictures of the crucified Christ and the Virgin Mother, but they are
not powerful enough to remind us to obey traffic laws. Thus, what place
is there for a priest to enter the secular world of politics?

The idea of a priest running for the governorship snowballed among
the people of conscience who have begun to call themselves the Third
Force. Slowly, my outright refusal gave way to sober reflection as I thought of the
people being under the yoke of patronage, and for how long, since we all
know how easily political dynasties can take root and flourish. I looked
back at my past to find a ground and a horizon for my final decision.

Even as a seminarian, I have intently dedicated my life for the
uplift of the marginalized and the weak, and this had continued in my
parochial and archdiocesan work. Thankfully, I was assigned later to direct the
Social Action Center of Pampanga, more popularly known as SACOP. This
enabled me to delve more deeply into the plight of the masses and be exposed to
their needs and aspirations, and more importantly, to identify with their
situation. Thus, I made it a personal choice to live a simple life
and temper my wants to the more basic necessities, for it would not have
been in consonance with the Gospel had I enjoyed affluence while people
around me were hungry. If they did not eat, I did not eat.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo allowed me to work more closely with
government and non-government organizations in helping to ease the
plight of the poor and dispossessed. I began to realize that good intentions
were not enough, there must be a working structure that would efficiently and
effectively answer to the needs of the poor. I also learned that I
did not have the answer to all the problems besetting the needy, that there
are others who can creatively contribute to the common pool of knowledge
and wisdom. Thus, it was impressed upon me that I was not a modern-day
Messiah, but rather, a bringer of grace from the Annointed One. On the other
hand, I realized that redemption has its social underpinnings, and that I
join all other people in a journey towards salvation. Having experienced all
these, there came a certain point in my life when I dedicated my priesthood
to the central message of the Gospel of John, that Christ came that man may
have fullness of life in all its dimensions, that we as clerics must not
only feed the soul, but also see to the nourishment of the body and the
mind. I celebrated the sacraments as essential signs of relationship with the
Divine, but encouraged my parishioners to share their graces to the
less fortunate they meet outside the Church. In my own humble way, I
persevered in my vocation and my service to the archdiocese, giving my
obedience to my spiritual fathers, first to Archbishop Oscar Cruz, and then to
Archbishop Aniceto, fostered by my brotherhood with my fellow priests.

Thus, when I finally conceded to become a candidate for governor, it
was in response to a gaping need for moral resurgence in a despairing
province, and in a more personal way, a deepening of my ministerial priesthood.
When Kapampangans of known capability, respected stature and proven worth
would not want to give people an option to choose a better candidate, I
had to stand up for my people. But believe me, I had to spend days of
prayer and feverish consultations before I made my decision. I had to resolve
if this was a genuine desire for good, or a hidden longing for
glorification. Either way, I was made aware of the consequences of my decision. The
reasons for not running were many and equally valid. Not a few friends came and
gave me their advice. I listened. In the end, I had to listen to and obey
what my conscience dictated. My own ministerial priesthood demanded that I
come down from the safety and security of the pulpit and incarnate the Gospel
message in the political world. The Church has been complaining for so long
about graft and corruption, but she was generally being ignored. It would
have seemed that she has lost her moral authority over the considering
that most of the suspected practitioners of graft and corruption came from
Catholic schools themselves, Ateneo included, or probably, Ateneo specially.
It was my belief that the extraordinary situation prevailing in Pampanga at
that time demanded an entirely different and fundamental response. I
took the leap and decided to do something about it hands on. I leapt, and
found that I was not alone. I was joined by men and women of good will who were
willing to take a risk.

I honestly believe that the people who leapt with me, people from
all class and all manners of persuasion were driven by a common desire to see
through a crusade that will realize Gospel values in governance. I do not
deny the fact that Kapampangans are personalistic, more so with their
priests, but be that as it may, I have always explained that the crusade was not
about me, but it was about something bigger than all of us combined. I was
just a part of the whole, as important as the campaign manager, but equally
as indispensable as the poll watcher.

Who were these people of conscience? A classic example would be our
technical consultant on software systems. All his life he had never
voted in any election, or even participated by any means whatsoever. He
was a self-confessed apolitical and fence-sitting Filipino who would just
let political dogs lie, for as long as they leave him in peace. But
when the crusade began, he was convinced by his wife to visit the EDquarters
and offer whatever talent or materials he could contribute to the
furtherance of the campaign. We cannot quantify his involvement in pesos, much less
measure its effects, but because of his free services, we were able
to set up a text brigade, hook up the EDquarters in a wi-fi network, and
more importantly implement an automated quick count system that helped us
track down the results of the elections accurately. Given the fact that as
independent candidate I was not privileged to receive a copy of the
election returns, his help was truly incalculable. What is more notable is
that during an interview, it was found out that he lived next door to a
mayoralty candidate of the City of San Fernando. He could have earned tens of
thousands of pesos, had he offered his services to him. But he chose
to give it to us for free.

Actively involved, too were a dozen former seminarians who were
among the workhorses of the campaign. Collectively known as Bakal Boys, their
background often provided a spiritual dimension in our daily
struggle. Where else would you find a campaign where strategies and tactics were
discussed along with conversion, metanoia and kenosis? Many of them were
influential in my decision to run, being members of the core group that searched
for an alternative candidate. Among the Bakal Boys was one who lived quite
an easy life in Cebu, earning a salary that would be the envy of most single
men of his age and stature. But like Peter, he left everything behind,
leaning on nothing but his faith and his earnest desire to do something good
for our province. He is now a part of my team, involved in a sensitive
position that requires my utmost trust and confidence. Another former
seminarian came all the way from London, where his community produced the very
first U-Tube video in support of my candidacy.

Perhaps it is the presence of the Bakal Boys that allowed us to look
at the ordinary events of the campaign with the eyes of faith. The
confluence of all the events, such as the blessing of good weather in both our
grand miting de avances, the speed at which triumph was achieved, the
mystery of the experts in statistics and probability being confounded by their
own means, all pointed to the hand of God actively involving Himself in
the affairs of man. At every turn, we looked for the sign of His
presence, and we were not disappointed. Ours was not just a moral crusade, it
transformed itself into a divine crusade.

A very palpable sign of God's presence was the full support of
brethren from other faiths and denominations in the crusade for good governance.
Among the first to express their support on the day I filed my certificate
of candidacy were Methodist pastors. Leaders of born again fellowships
also boosted our stock, widening the spectrum of collaboration into
dimensions previously unknown. I believe that there is no other previous
experience in our nation where people of different faiths actively involved and
immersed themselves in a mission as one body. What we were seeing was the
Kingdom of God, a dedicated assembly of people under one dream: to see good
governance become a reality.

Cyrelle was your typical Among Ed volunteer: multi-tasking,
energetic, uncomplaining, except for the fact that she just graduated from a
private elementary school. She was everyone's kid niece or sister, a
favorite object of pranks, but equal to every joke thrown her way. Forsaking
a summer of visiting malls and beaches, she became the ultimate
factotum, preparing coffee, manning the photocopy machine, answering the phone,
encoding data and stapling sheets of paper. Not even four years
social studies in high school would match up to the wealth of hands-on
learning she attained during those months.

And of course, there were those who contributed their time, talent
and treasure from all walks of life and practically from every corner of
the earth. There was this public school teacher who was given a one
thousand peso bribe by another candidate. She took the effort to visit our
EDquarters and turn over the money to us. As fast as people were
taking posters and flyers from our office, equally consistent were the kind
donors who dropped by every day to deliver campaign materials they had
printed on their own. During our motorcades, ordinary people threw coins into
our showboats to share their support. Even non-Kapampangans generously
shared their blessings.

And finally, there was Jomar Nulud, a barangay chairman in my last
parish who was gunned down by still unidentified assailants days after my
proclamation. Kapitan Jomar switched allegiance after he learned of
my candidacy. The night before he was killed, he ominously told me to
be careful. "Hindi baleng ako and itumba, huwag lang ikaw," he said.
His was the ultimate sacrifice. I am nothing compared to him.

A common thread that ran among all of these examples of people who
joined us in our campaign was the element of sacrifice. The Japanese have a
proverb: always replace a thing of value with that of a greater value. In
giving up something of themselves, whether as mundane as a summer vacation, as
abstract as a preconceived notion of a different faith, or as
irreplaceable as a human life, their surrender was for a far greater cause. And
because of this, they gained an ownership of the crusade. This ownership has
been multiplied a thousand times and has reached the puroks and
barangays, but we still need to reach out to a lot more people and convince them to
own this new politics.

Once, I expressed my misgivings to a supporter, rhetorically asking,
What if I got used to all the attention and the glory? What if I started to
enjoy it? What if I started to demand it? Thankfully, I am surrounded by
people whose presence always reminds me that the crusade is a team effort.
Even now, I am not "Gov" to them. I am still "Among Ed," and to the more
familiar, I am "Brods or Jo." I allow this informality, because I
know that I am just one instrument among many volunteers, workers,
contributors, prayer warriors and well-wishers who gave a part of their lives to
realize a vision. It just so happened that my position warrants me to be a
"primus inter pares", a first among equals, or more accurately a father to
sons and daughters who deserve my love, respect and attention, because they
gave so much so freely.

That we have won through a plurality reminds us that we have to be
gentle with our salesmanship. We have to convince the civil society and the
civil service, by way of example and education, that honest governance
works. We have to provide for a transparent, efficient and effective delivery
of services, that the people may pay their taxes with cheerful hearts,
knowing that their hard-earned money does not find itself in some
bureaucrat's pocket. Arriving much sooner than expected, as it were, we are quite
pleased that the Capitol leadership, as well as the rank and file
have for the most part adapted to our program of government quite quickly. I
credit this to the government employee's innate goodness and willingness to
work. I have to admit, though that the adjustment period was quite tenuous.
But when the Governor sets the example in punctuality, simplicity of
lifestyle, openness to the constituents, dedication to work and pleasantness of
disposition, the most taciturn employee has no other recourse than to
follow.

Today, our province earns an average of a million pesos a day in
quarry revenues. Suppliers have lowered their bids dramatically after being
reminded that the days of SOPs are over. A system of fiscal
discipline is being instituted. We have streamlined the manpower to make it more
citizen-oriented. Our primary attention is now given to the
equipment, staffing and development of our provincial and district hospitals.
We are at the moment studying systems and processes that will make quality
service be delivered on time. Capacity and confidence building measures are
being undertaken in order that the bureaucracy can pride itself as a
working and effective body. For the first time in the history of the province,
a draft three-year executive agenda will be submitted to the people tomorrow
for their comments and suggestions, in the spirit of consultation and
collaboration.

But for society to be transformed, it is not enough that government
employees be empowered and motivated. The desire for positive
change and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good must not only
trickle down, but must engulf every barangay. A visual way of describing the
approach to this objective is that of the way the bibingka is
cooked: heat on top, heat at the bottom. We should inflame the governing and the
governed. The inured system of political patronage and dependency
may take a little more time and may require a more extensive strategy for the
people to realize that in the end, the benefits to the community will outweigh
any personal gain. Good citizenship must take root until following the
law, paying taxes honestly, respecting the environment and upholding one's
dignity shall become second nature to every person.

I don't think that God meant me to endure five seminaries just to
become a Governor or some other public official. I love my vocation, and at
the end of this temporary detour into politics, I shall desire nothing more
than to have my priestly faculties once again, and be a shepherd of the
faith anew. A personal glory shall be that day when I shall hold aloft the
transubstantiated body and blood of Christ, recalling my first mass
after my ordination. It is from this vantage point that I say that I really
do not encourage the entry of priests or ministers to the electoral arena.
It would be utter presumption and even a complete falsehood to maintain
that only the clergy posses the moral superiority to lead the nation. A
layman with the proper motivation and popular support can lead any province
to glory, in the same manner that an elected priest with less than
honorable intentions can bring the province to its knees. Every believer has
a divine mandate to do good and cast out evil. For the sake of the beggar out
in the street, for the sake of the baby who is fed with rice water, for the
sake of the sick patients in our public hospitals, for the sake of every
Filipino who persists in the hope of a brighter horizon, I ask you to help us
prove that we are essentially good, and that we uphold the common good.

It has been said so often that Pampanga right now is a laboratory
mouse in a grand experiment upon which almost every eye of every disillusioned
Filipino is fixed, steadily observing how the dream of good and honest
governance is realized, and if it can result in the improvement of the people's
plight. Historically, our province has always been the breeding ground of social unrest and
revolutionary thought. Once again, there is something revolutionary
going on in Pampanga. With fervent prayers, consultative and exemplary
leadership, participatory and law-abiding citizenship, collaborative and
dedicated service, together with the application of better organizational
systems, technological processes and innovations, I believe that we can
overcome and transform the individual and the society. Then shall our success in
Pampanga be translated in every province of the nation. Let us all
join forces to transform ourselves, and in turn our beloved Philippines.

U.S. Immigration , US Dept. of Homeland Security & TRAVEL ADVISORY

To all balikbayan, mga kapamilya, at kapuso
FYI


This information is very alarming and I think it's worth sharing to save you from trouble and embarrassment.

A Filipino friend shared this email. His friend who works for Homeland Security as Immigration Inspector at LAX ( Los Angeles International Airport ) called him yesterday to share the information that happened
last weekend. A FIL-AM citizen who was flying to the Philippines for vacation was apprehended by an Airport Immigration agent while she was checking in her baggage and going through the X-ray machine. For some reason, she was randomly checked and was told to open all the envelopes inside her carry-on Coach bag.

They found 10 envelops addressed to different people in the Philippines. When all the envelops were opened, a total of $11,000 cash was discovered. They asked the traveler if she knew the contents of the envelope. She said no, because all the envelopes are just "padala" and the senders didn't tell her whether or not there was money inside.

Immigration agents showed her a Policy and guidance stating that it is illegal to import and export over $10,000 in any Asian countries to prevent the possibility of supporting terrorism.

She was fined $500, her name was "red labeled" by Immigration (means every time she enters and exits the airport, she will be searched 100%), and she also missed her scheduled flight to the Philippines for being
held almost 5 hours. Hard to believe that departing passengers from the U.S. are also subject to the policy but looks like it is being strictly enforced now.

The lessons learned is before you accept any "padala", make sure the envelopes are open and you physically see the contents of it or just plainly say "sorry but I can't accept any padala" for your own safety.


This email came from a former U.S. Embassy employee and this could be useful to all balikbayans

Subject: TRAVEL ADVISORY FROM AMERICAN EMBASSY MANILA

Please share this with your friends and relatives.

Please be informed of the recent travel advisory to the United States. However, not only pirated CDs/DVDs are on the hot list. Customs officials are also looking into fake bags like Louis Vuitton, Coach, etc. Please be informed that the American Association of Publishers (AAP) has also alerted the American customs officers to check out for pirated books. This information; was given to me by Patricia Judd of the AAP.

Please warn all nursing graduates who plan to take the NCLEX and CGF exams in the States not to bring in these pirated books because there will be a penalty of automatic deportation as violation of intellectual
property rights. If you know anyone going from the Philippines and coming back to the USA , with "pasalubongs" and "padalas," please read this important enclosed advisory from the American Embassy in Manila. Please share with your friends.

Just a friendly reminder: if you have plans of going to the U.S. , please take precautionary measures on all "padalas," especially those containing fake/pirated compact discs/DVDs. US Embassy employees have
been given an advisory that as US Gov't employees, we should abide by the U.S.laws, including Intellectual Property Rights (anti-piracy) laws.


As an additional incentive, the Consular Section recently received a report that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) searched the bag of a Filipino entering the U.S. on NW 72 in Detroit .

During the search, 70-80 compact discs, 30-40 empty DVD jackets and 10-20 DVDs were found. Since the travelers were not American citizens, their visas were canceled and they returned to the Philippines .

If they had been Americans, they could have been subject to br & gt arrest and criminal prosecution in addition to civil fines and penalties.

Please remember even ONE pirated item can jeopardize your trip. Also, the fingerprinting system has successfully been instituted in all port of entries. I suggest you bring extra identification cards in addition
to your passport to facilitate your entry in the US Immigration. I hope this is helpful to you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Balikbayan Privileges on Duty Free Outlets!

duty free website : http://www.dfp.com.ph/

S. No. 2101 H. No. 4534

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9174
November 07, 2002

AN ACT AMENDING REPUBLIC ACT NUMBERED 6768, ENTITLED, "AN ACT INSTITUTING A "BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM," BY PROVIDING ADDITIONAL BENEFITS AND PRIVILEGES TO BALIKBAYAN AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Section 1 of Republic Act Numbered 6768 is hereby amended to read as follows;

"SECTION 1. Balikbayan Program. - A Balikbayan Program is hereby instituted under the administration of the Department of Tourism to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland. This is in recognition of their contribution to the economy of the country through the foreign exchange inflow and revenues that they generate.

The program shall include a kabuhayan shopping privilege allowing tax-exempt purchase of livelihood tools and providing the opportunity to avail of the necessary training to enable the balikbayan to become economically self-reliant members of society upon their return to the country. The program shall likewise showcase competitive and outstanding Filipino-made products."

SEC. 2. Section 2 of the same Republic Act is hereby amended to read as follows:

"SEC. 2. Definition of Terms. - For purposes of this Act:

1. The term "balikbayan" shall mean a Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one (1) year, a Filipino overseas worker, or a former Filipino citizen and his or her family, as this term is defined hereunder, who had been naturalized in a foreign country and comes or returns to the Philippines;
2. The term "family" shall mean the spouse and the children of the balikbayan who are not balikbayan in their own right traveling with the latter to the Philippines; and
3. The term "livelihood tools" shall mean instruments used by hand or by machine necessary to a person in the practice of his or her trade, vocation or profession, such as hand tools, power tools, precision tools, farm tools, tools for dressmaking, shoe repair, beauty parlor, barber shop and the like, as may be determined by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). For purposes of this Act, a computer unit and its accessories shall likewise be considered as livelihood tools."

SEC. 3. Section 3 of the same Republic Act is hereby amended to read as follows:

"SEC. 3. Benefits and Privileges of the Balikbayan - The balikbayan and his or her family shall be entitled to the following benefits and privileges:

1. Tax-exempt maximum purchase in the amount of One thousand five hundred United States dollars (US $1,500.00) or its equivalent in Philippine peso and in other acceptable foreign currencies at all government-owned and controlled/operated duty-free shops subject to the limitations contained in Section 4 hereof;
2. All domestic carriers shall establish a special promotional/incentive program for the balikbayan;
3. Visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year for foreign passport holders, with the exception of restricted nationals;
4. Travel tax exemption as provided under Presidential Decree No. 1183, Executive Order No. 283, and other allied laws;
5. Especially designated reception areas at the authorized ports of entry for the expeditious processing of documents;
6. Accredited transportation facilities that will ensure their safe and convenient trips upon arrival. The Department of Tourism and the Department of Transportation and Communications and other concerned government agencies are hereby mandated to implement the program for this particular purpose; and
7. Kabuhayan shopping privilege through an additional tax-exempt purchase in the maximum amount of Two thousand United States dollars (US$2,000.00) or its equivalent in Philippine peso and other acceptable foreign currencies, exclusively for the purchase of livelihood tools at all government-owned and -controlled/operated duty-free shops.
The total amount of tax-exempt maximum purchase as mentioned in sub-paragraphs (a) and (g) of this Section may be used for the kabuhayan program, subject to the limitations contained in Section 4 hereof.
The privileges granted under this Act shall be in addition to the benefits enjoyed by the balikbayan under existing laws, rules and regulations."

SEC. 4. Section 4 of the same Republic Act is hereby amended to read as follows:

"SEC. 4. Limitations on Tax-exempt Purchases at all Government-owned and -Controlled/Operated Duty-free Shops. - The tax-exempt purchase privilege shall be subject to the following limitations:

1. Purchases shall be made within fifteen (15) calendar days from the date of arrival; Provided, That during the Christmas season, reckoned from November 15 to January 15, the privilege is extended to thirty (30) calendar days from the date of arrival: Provided further, That said privilege shall be availed of on a one-time shopping basis only: Provided, finally, That in the case of senior citizens and handicapped balikbayan, they shall be allowed to enjoy the privilege within one (1) year from date of arrival in the country;
2. The privilege can be availed of by the balikbayan only once a year;
3. The privilege is non-transferable; purchases shall be made personally by the balikbayan: Provided, That a balikbayan who has gone back abroad may still avail of the kabuhayan shopping within a maximum period of-One (1) year from date of arrival in the country, and that immediate family members of the balikbayan shall be allowed to claim the kabuhayan tools purchased: Provided, further, That an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), duly certified as such by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Philippine Overseas Labor Officer or by the embassy/consulate of the Philippines in the country where he or she had been deployed, taking into consideration the evidence of remittance, may opt to endorse in writing the kabuhayan shopping privilege to his or her immediate family members within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity residing in the Philippines once within two (2) years from the date of effectivity of his or her contract and only during the duration of the same.
4. Only a balikbayan of majority age under Philippine laws can enjoy the privilege: Provided, however, That family members who are minors shall continue to be entitled to purchase privileges not exceeding the allowable lax-exempt limit for arriving passengers; and
5. In addition to existing limitations on the number of consumables purchased, a balikbayan shall be entitled to buy only one (1) item of even product category of non-consumables whose selling price exceeds Two hundred United States dollars (US$200.00)."

SEC. 5. New sections are hereby added .after Section 4 of the same Republic Act to be denominated as Sections 5 and 6 to read as follows:

"SEC. 5. Philippine-made Products in Duty-free Shops. - All government-owned and -controlled/operated duty-free shops shall effectively showcase Philippine culture, craftsmanship and industry. Therefore, a minimum of ten percent (10%) of the goods being sold in duty-free shops shall, as far as practicable, whether by direct purchase or concession, be sourced from Philippine-based manufacturers. For this purpose, the Department of Tourism (DOT) shall coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the selection of goods and products made in the Philippines, taking into consideration, competitiveness, design, excellence, marketability, regional representation and world class appeal.

SEC. 6. Training Programs. - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through the OWWA, in coordination with the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), livelihood corporation and other concerned government agencies, shall provide the necessary entrepreneurial training and livelihood skills programs and marketing assistance to a balikbayan, including his or her immediate family members, who shall avail of the kabuhayan program in accordance with the existing rules on the government's reintegration program.

In the case of non-OFW balikbayan, the Department of Tourism shall make the necessary arrangements with the TLRC and other training institutions for possible livelihood training."

SEC. 6. Section 5 and the succeeding sections of the same Republic Act are hereby renumbered accordingly.

SEC. 7. Section 6 of the same Republic Act, as renumbered, is hereby amended to read as follows:

"SEC. 8. Semi-annual Reports. - The Department of Tourism shall submit semi-annual reports to the President through the Secretary of Finance and to both Houses of Congress, which reports shall contain a statement of the quantities and the value of the goods sold by the government-owned and controlled/ operated duty-free shops, in accordance with the classification categories in the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, as amended"

SEC. 8. The Department of Tourism, in coordination with other government agencies concerned, shall promulgate, not later than thirty (30) days from the effectivity of this Act, the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this Act.

SEC. 9. All laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations, or parts thereof which are inconsistent with any provision of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

SEC. 10. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation, whichever comes earlier.

Approved,

(Sgd.) FRANKLIN M. DRILON (Sgd.) JOSE DE VENECIA JR.
President of the Senate Speaker of the House of Representatives

This Act, which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2101 and House Bill No. 4534, was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on September 2, 2002.

(Sgd.) OSCAR G. YABES (Sgd.) ROBERTO P. NAZARENO
Secretary of the Senate Secretary General
House of Representatives

Approved: Nov 07 2002

(Sgd.) GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO
President of the Philippines

Thursday, December 20, 2007

George Bush Question Time

George Bush goes to a primary school to talk to the kids to get a little PR.

After his talk he offers question time.

One little boy puts up his hand and George asks him his name.

"Stanley," responds the little boy.

"And what is your question, Stanley?"

"I have 4 questions:

First, why did the USA invade Iraq without the support of the UN?
Second, why are you President when Al Gore got more votes?
Third, whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?"
Fourth, why are we so worried about gay-marriage when 1/2 of all Americans don't have health insurance?

Just then, the bell rings for recess. George Bush informs the kiddies that they will continue after recess.

When they resume George says, "OK, where were we?

Oh, that's right, question time. Who has a question?"

Another little boy puts up his hand. George points him out and asks him his name.

"Johnnie" he responds.

"And what is your question, Little Johnnie?"

"Actually Sir, I have 6 questions:

First, why did the USA invade Iraq without the support of the UN?
Second, why are you President when Al Gore got more votes?
Third, whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?
Fourth, why are we so worried about gay marriage when 1/2 of all Americans don't have health insurance?
Fifth, why did the recess bell go off 20 minutes early?
And sixth, what the F***K happened to Stanley?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Isang Kwentong May Kurot sa Puso

I LOVE this story. (From a forwarded e-mail)

Somewhere in Milaor, Camarines Sur, there lived a fourth grader boy who
would follow this route to school everyday: He has to cross the rugged
plains and cross the dangerous highway where vehicles are recklessly
driving to and from.

Once past this highway, the boy would take a short cut, passing by the
Church every morning just to say Hi to God, and faithfully say his,
"Magandang umaga po" (Good Morning)in Bicol dialect. He was faithfully
being watched by a Priest who was happy to find innocence so uplifting
in the morning,

"Kamusta, Andoy? Papasok ka na?"

"Opo padre ... "he would flash his innocent grin, the priest would be
touched. He was so concerned that one day he talked to Andoy.

"From school...", he advised "Do not cross the highway, you can
pass through the Church and I can accompany you to the other side of
the road...that way I can see that you are home safe...."

"Thank you father ... "
"Why don't you go home ... why do you stay in
this church right after school?"

"I just want to say 'Hi' to my friend, God," and the priest
would leave the boy to spend time beside the altar,
talking to himself, but the priest was hiding behind the altar to
listen to what this boy has to say to his heavenly FATHER.

"You know my math exam was pretty bad today, but I did not cheat
although my seatmate is bullying me for notes... I ate one cracker
and drank my water, Itay had a bad season and all I can eat is this
cracker.

Thank you for this! I saw a poor kitten who was hungry and I know how
he feels so I gave my last cracker to him ... funny but I am not that
hungry. Look, this is my last pair of slippers ...I may have to walk
barefoot next week, you see this is about to be broken... but it is
okay....at least I am still going to school.... Some say we will have
a hard season this month, some of my classmates have already stopped
going to school .... please help them get to school again, please God?

...Oh, you know, Inay hit me again, it is painful, but I know this pain
will pass away, at least I still have a mother.... God, you want to see
my bruises? I know you can heal them.... Here... here and .... oh ...blood
...I guess you knew about this one huh? Please don't be mad at Inay, she
is just tired and she worries for the food in our table and my schooling
that is why she hits us....Oh, I think I am in love ... there's this
pretty girl in my class, her name is Anita ... do you think she will like
me? Anyway, at least I know you will always like me, I don't have to be
anybody just to please you, you are my very best friend! Hey your birthday
is two days from now!!! Aren't you excited? I am! Wait till you see, I have
a gift for you ..... but it is a surprise! I hope you will like it! Oooops,
I have to go ..." then he stood up and calls out, "Padre, padre, I am
finished talking to my friend .... you can accompany me to the other side
of the road now"

This routine happens everyday. Andoy never fails. Father Agaton shares this
every Sunday to the people in his church because he has not seen a very
pure faith and trust in God, a very positive look at negative situations.

One Christmas day, Father Agaton was sick so he could not make it in the
Church, he was sent to the hospital. The Church was left to 4 manangs who
would chant the rosary in 1000 miles per hour, would not smile and would
always find fault in what you do, they were also very well versed in cursing
if you irritate them! They were kneeling, saying their kilometric rosary
when Andoy, coming from his Christmas party,playfully dashed in.

"Hello God! I ......"

"P----!! (a curse) bata ka!! Alam mo nang may nagdadasal!! Alis!!"

Poor Andoy was so terrified, "Where's Father Agaton? He is supposed to
help me cross the street ... and to be able to cross the street I will
have to pass by the back door of this church ...not only that, I have to
greet Jesus. It is His birthday, I have a gift right here....
" Just as he was about to get the gift out of his shirt, the manang pulled
his shirt and threw him out of the church. "Susmaryosep!!! (does the sign
of the cross fervently) Alis kang bata ka, kung hindi matatamaan ka!!!

So the boy had no choice but to cross the dangerous side of the road in
front of the church. He crossed. A fast moving bus came in.

There was a blind curve. The boy was protecting his gift inside his
shirt, so he was not looking. There was so little time. Andoy died
on the spot. A lot of people crowded the poor boy, the body of a
lifeless young boy ...

Suddenly, out of nowhere a tall man in a pure white shirt and pants, a
face so mild and gentle, but with eyes full of tears... He came and carried
the boy in His arms. He was crying. Curious bystanders nudged the man in
white, and asked,

"Excuse me sir, are you related to this child?

Do you know this child?"

The man in white, His face mourning and in agony, looked up and
answered,

"He was my best friend .... " was all he said. He took the badly
wrapped gift in the bloody chest of the lifeless boy, and placed it
near His heart.

He stood up and carried the boy away and they both disappeared in sight.

The crowd was curious ...

On Christmas Eve, Father Agaton learned of the shocking news. He visited
the house, and wanted to verify about the man in white. He consulted the
parents of Andoy.

"How did you know that your son died?"

"A man in white brought him here." sobbed the mother. "What did he say?"
The father answered, "He did not say anything. He was mourning. We do not
know him and yet he was very lonely about our son's death, as if he knew
our son very well. But there was something peaceful and unexplainable about
him. He gave me my son, and then he smiled peacefully. He brushed my son's
hair away from his face and kissed him on his forehead, then he whispered
something..."

"What did he say?"

"He said to my boy..." the father began, "Thank you for the gift
... I will see you soon ... you will be with me..." and the father
of the boy continued, "and you know for a while, it felt so
wonderful ... I cried, but I do not know why....all I know is I
cried tears of joy .... I could not explain it, Father, but when
that man left, something peaceful came over me, I felt a deep sense
of love inside ... I could not explain the joy in my heart, I knew
my boy is in heaven now but...tell me, Father, who is this man that
my son talks to everyday in your church, you should know because you
are always there ... except at the time of his death ......

"Father Agaton suddenly felt the tears welling in his eyes, with

trembling knees, he murmurred, " ... He was talking to no one .....
but .. GOD...."

Friday, December 14, 2007

What Religion is Your Bra?

A man walked into the ladies department of a Macy's and
shyly walked up to the woman behind the counter and said,
"I'd like to buy a bra for my wife."

"What type of bra?" asked the clerk.

"Type?" inquires the man, "There's more than one type?

"Look around," said the saleslady, as she showed a sea of
bras in every shape, size, color and material imaginable.

"Actually, even with all of this variety, there are really
only four types of bras to choose from ."

Relieved, the man asked about the types. The saleslady replied:

"There are the Catholic, the Salvation Army, the Presbyterian,
and the Baptist types. Which one would you prefer?

Now totally befuddled, the man asked about the differences
between them.

The Saleslady responded, "It is all really quite simple..

The Catholic type supports the masses.
The Salvation Army type lifts the fallen,
The Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright, and
The Baptist makes mountains out of mole hills.

Have you ever wondered why A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and H
are the letters used to define bra sizes?

If you have wondered why, but couldn't figure out what the
letters stood for, it is about time you became informed!


(A} Almost Boobs...
{B} Barely there.
{C} Can't Complain!
{D} Dang!
{DD} Double dang!
{E} Enormous!
{F} Fake.
{G} Get a Reduction.
{H} Help me, I've fallen and I can't get up!
or in German:

Holtzemfromfloppen

Email from Glorietta Tragedy

Good day everyone,

I wish I were writing under different circumstances.

I would like to inform you that my wife Leslie Cruz
was part of the casualties in the Glorietta 2 Mall
bombing in Makati City, Philippines. She was supposed
to have a minor out patient surgery at Makati Medical
Center at 230pm.

I had taken a leave from work to accompany her there.
We dropped off our daughter, Amber, at my parents
place in QC to babysit at around 10am. We then
proceeded to Makati and was there at 1230pm. Since she
had been fasting in preparation for her procedure, she
wanted to move ar ound and listen to some music while
I
grabbed a bite to eat. We parked at the basement of
Park Square 2, and headed for the Glorietta 2
entrance. We parted at the top of the escalator, she
turned right towards Filbar's while I went left
towards the restaurants. That was the last time I
would see her.

Around 120pm, she had called me so that we can meet at
the Glorietta 2 exit just in time to make her
appointment. As I made my way there from Glorietta 1
through the connecting hallways, and was about to turn
the corner, I heard 2 deep thumps and the shock-wave
from the blast hit me. At that moment my heart dropped
as I knew that the origin of the blast came from the
same place where w were suppose to meet. I tried
getting to where my wife was, but the dust was too
much and it was as if I was staring at a white wall.

I still tried to convince myself that she was able to
make it out, and that after ringing her mobile without
a response
only meant that she dropped it in the
confusion. After 6 hours of searching from Makati Med.
to Ospital ng Makati, the blast site, and back again
to MMC - with the help of all the people I could get
hold of, that I was able to get confirmation in what
the state of my wife was.

My Dad and Uncle signaled me in from the ER of MMC. My
Uncle (who's a doctor) asked me to describe Leslie's
appearance to another group of doctors. I saw in the
eyes of one that the description made sense. Instead
of confirming it to me, they huddled together, then
brought me to a small examination room. It was only
through a digital camera that I was able to confirm
(and deny) that she was indeed gone.

I have so many regrets. I should have met her sooner.
I should have ran instead of a brisk walk. I should
have not chose to park where I did. I should have
braved the dust and went in the blast site. I should
have ...


Today's the 4th day. It is still terribly difficult to
breathe, let alone wake up realizing that your source
of strength, your best friend doesn't lie beside you
on your bed. That my deepest worry is when Amber
starts asking for her Mama.

I am glad that Amber's too young to understand the
loss and pain. In time I would like to tell her the
details of how her mother died, but more importantly I
would like to raise her as how her mother lived - a
loving person, strong willed, decisive, caring, and
nurturing. She has always cared for her family and
friends, and sacrfied her career for being a full time
mom and home maker.

As with all couples we had our ups and downs - none of
which I regret not going through. The sweet is never
as sweet without the sour. For almost 4 years of
marriage, we've finally hit our balance in life only
to be taken away in an instant. I have no regrets
about our marriage. She has
loved me and Amber beyond
her capacity. I will always love her.

It is my first time to write to egroup as I've lurked
and watched emails being sent to and fro. All I want
now is that for each of the couples here is to cherish
each moment that we spend with our loved ones. Pretty
simple to say, very easy to take for granted.

Thank you all for the prayers. I would still like to
ask you to please include Leslie in them until her
40th day so that the path to God's kingdom is well lit
and she is no longer in the dark.

Sincerely,

Carlo Cruz

Priest denounces corruption

Priest urges bishops, ulama to denounce corruption
Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews
Sunday, 28 October 2007 06:43

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 October) - A Jesuit priest who heads a
nationwide anti-corruption movement has challenged the Bishops-Ulama
Forum to denounce corruption in Mindanao and the rest of the country
even as he called Malacañang "violent" for giving away alleged bribe
money to governors and other officials.

"Corruption is violence. This is another aspect of conflict in
Mindanao," Fr. Albert Alejo, team leader of the Ehem! Anti-Corruption
Movement and a board member of the Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural
Dialogue told the 1st Mindanao Bloggers Summit at the NCCC Mall here
at noon.


Alejo said other parts of Mindanao may not experience violent acts
like bombing "but where everyday there is corruption, there is violence.
Because in corruption, you take away food from the mouth of the people,
you kill by hundreds."

When a government official allows toxic chemicals s to spill into the
river system, "you kill not only the fish but the fisherfolk."
"Corruption is violence when the leaders of ARMM would come to Davao
and play casino bringing loads of cash. Corruption is violence when
you send out cash in paper bags without receipts. That is violence.
Malacañang is violent. It is violent," Alejo said, pausing for
emphasis.

Malacañang has been blamed for being the source of what Pampanga
governor Eddie Panlilio, a Catholic priest, described as
"bribe money." Panlilio was handed out a paper bag that he later
found to contain P500,000 cash, purportedly for barangay projects
as he was leaving Malacañang on October 11. The League of Governors
belatedly claimed the money came from the organization.

Alejo said the problem is "you have bishops-ulama forum discussing
about conflict but refusing to discuss corruption. I challenge and
I appeal to the religious groups that the bishops should denounce
corruption and the Moro ustadz, the Muslim religious leaders should
also denounce corruption among the Muslim leaders."

"Pero (But) they won't. Bakit? (Why?) I appeal. Teach us the strong
Islamic teachings of corruption, cutting the hand of thieves. If
corruption is violence, is conflict, then the Bishops-Ulama Forum
should also tackle in their dialogue the issue of corruption in
Mindanao and in the Philippines."

Reacting to Alejo's remarks, Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla,
a co-convenor of the BUF told MindaNews that past joint statements
the organization issued "did make directly and indirectly moral
judgments on many crimes including terrorism and corruption but some
media and religious groups don't read them. Why? Because our approach
is not confrontational." Capalla said "violent outrage and vitriolic
denunciations are for peace advocates, not for peacebuilders and
dialogue partners."

Alejo said bloggers can play a big role in monitoring funds because
sooner or later a peace agreement will be signed (with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front) and with the signing of a peace agreement, a lot of
money will be pouring into Mindanao again. "What happened to the
billions of money squandered" after the signing of the 1996 Final
Peace Agreement (FPA) should be avoided, Alejo said.

'We need advance knowledge of the money that will come with the peace
agreement. I would imagine a website and a series of blogs which would
include the amount of money to be given by funding agency and to be
received by which government office on which date for the benefit of
which community. And we want the bloggers to take note of this in
advance so that we will know the money that will come in before it
gets squandered. What happens is if there's money, if it reaches the
hands of powerful and then it gets lost and then we run after them.
It's too late," he stressed.

"Can the bloggers and website communicators announce the coming of
these funds in advance. So can the bloggers please be proactive. This
is a challenge," he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)