Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Example of Bonifacio: An Appreciation

In a few days, the nation pays homage to its plebeian son and hero. Enshrined in popular memory as the man with the bolo, Andres Bonifacio was more than that.

The Father of the Revolution was born on November 30, 1863 to working-class parents in Tondo, the poor district of Spanish-ruled Manila. When tuberculosis claimed his parents’ lives, Bonifacio quit studies to look after five younger siblings.

Bonifacio was only fourteen when he took up his father’s trade making rattan walking canes, paper fans and bamboo hats, which he sold in the streets. Thanks to his calligraphic skills, he was able to add to his income by designing advertising posters for business. Busy as he was, Bonifacio was undeterred from acting onstage and composing poetry in his spare time.

Bonifacio proved to be an enterprising hero.

Though he did not receive the formal education of his illustrious contemporary Dr. Jose Rizal, Bonifacio displayed determination on the job. He was in charge of the warehouse of a mosaic tile factory in Sampaloc before his employment as clerk and then sales agent of the British-owned J.M. Fleming and Company, a business dealing in rattan, tar and railroad ties. He later found similar work with the German company Carlos Fressel and Company.

Employment as a clerk or agent of a foreign trading company at the time was no ordinary feat in colonial Philippines. This was the ambition of native-born young men who, despite hard work and merit, were prevented from moving ahead by colonial regimentation and prejudice. We can also assume that Bonifacio was also conversant in English and Spanish, languages he required to move ahead in the business world.

Bonifacio was a prolific reader and studious. Among the books discovered in his library were Rizal's subversive novels, Victor Hugo's Le Miserables, Eugene Sue’s The Wandering Jew, and books on the French Revolution and the lives of American presidents. And while he could not afford stylish clothes, Bonifacio sought to be presentable to people. He was known to wear an open coat with matching tie and black hat to work. Rain or shine, he always carried an umbrella, the way proper English gentlemen did.

Bonifacio was as much the product of historical circumstance as he was the result of the determination to break out of them.

Throughout his life and career, Bonifacio exemplified hard work, the thirst for knowledge, entrepreneurial vigor, vision, culture and sacrifice. These are the qualities a nation requires, the same qualities an entrepreneurial class needs to emerge, compete and thrive in the years ahead.

from SME Bizlink

Commentary: Dureza prays for Arroyo in Malacañang beyond 2010


Press Secretary Jesus Dureza’s prayer for President Gloria Arroyo to lead the nation “perhaps beyond 2010″ is not humor or wishful thinking, that’s the “conventional wisdom” in Malacañang nowadays. For obvious reasons, Dureza and others in the employ of Gloria wouldn’t want to leave their perky — and influential positions — in the Arroyo government.

The coup that ousted Senate President Manny Villar and replaced by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile would further strengthen Gloria’s power and grip on the three branches of the government. In effect, that would remove any mechanism for “checks and balances” which is the very reason for having three independent branches of government. What’s going to happen next is de facto dictatorship. And who is there to oppose Gloria?


November 18, 2008
Dureza prays for Arroyo in Malacañang beyond 2010
by Jocelyn Montemayor

“We pray for the President, that she may have forbearance, good health, and tolerance to lead this nation until 2010, and who knows, perhaps even beyond,” Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said yesterday as he recited his prayer at the start of the Cabinet meeting.

“Oh my God!” and a glare were what Dureza got from a shocked President Arroyo, who covered her face.

At the end of the prayer, a smiling Arroyo asked media men who were allowed to cover that portion of the meeting to leave the room as she said “that prayer is off the record.”

Dureza later also asked media if they could refrain from releasing the videos of the prayer portion.

An “off the record” request from media is normally made before any event, and honored. The request is never honored after coverage.

Dureza clarified they initially asked that the prayer be “off the record” for fear it would be misinterpreted or taken in a different light.

He also said he was not reprimanded by the President for his “personal prayer” and it was not even mentioned when he talked to the President after the Cabinet meeting when he inquired about her phone conversation with United States President-elect Barack Obama.

Dureza said while his prayer gave a nice angle to media reports and fuelled speculations on moves to amend the Constitution to extend Arroyo’s term beyond 2010, “I said that in that context (of personal and private capacity), so you don’t have to milk it and give it another spin.”

In a media briefing after the Cabinet meeting, Dureza said he was not praying for an extension of Arroyo’s term. He said he simply wished that Arroyo would be able to continue on a “personal and private capacity on serving beyond 2010.”

Dureza said his prayer was meant to be “light” and with a “sense of humor” which he said was accepted and even laughed off by the President and the Cabinet men.

He said those who took his prayer the wrong way had no sense of humor.

Dureza at the start of the meeting prayed for the Cabinet to be blessed and to be able to attend to their own “personal affairs” and the “affairs of the State” and for Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap who recently celebrated his birthday to be “blessed.”

He also prayed for newly elected Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile whom he described as the oldest to assume the post. Enrile is 84 years old.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The real motives behind the Senate coup

By William M. Esposo

This Chair Wrecker had just praised the Senate for its hearings last week when on the first working day of this week — it showed its ugly face.

That Manny Villar had been ousted as Senate President was par for the course and he gallantly said so himself when he tendered his resignation. Senate Presidents, like House Speakers, serve at the pleasure of their peers.

But when the pleasure of the peers who replaced a Senate President is simply founded on narrow self interests — sans any tinge of benefit for people and country — that is when we should take issue.

The majority of the voters of this country decided to elect an Opposition Senate during the May 2007 Senate elections. When Manny Villar had to resort to forging an alliance with some administration Senators because the presidential wannabes in the Opposition conspired to remove him from the Senate Presidency, the outwitted presidential wannabes (Senators Mar Roxas, Panfilo Lacson and Loren Legarda) and vice presidential wannabe (Senator Jamby Madrigal), all wailed and moaned that Villar had betrayed the Opposition.

And yet, it was Villar who sat in the Senate President’s chair and from the performance of his duties we all saw that he remained with the Opposition. Senate hearings that were adverse to the administration — like the ZTE, Fertilizer Fund and PNP Moscow Fund investigations — were conducted.

But what did 2010 wannabes Roxas, Lacson, Legarda and Madrigal do in this recent coup? They handed the Senate Presidency to the very epitome of administration support in the Senate, Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile. How can Roxas, Lacson, Legarda and Madrigal now claim to be stalwarts of the Opposition?

We all saw how Juan Ponce-Enrile defended the embattled Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) during the investigations that threatened her regime. Who in his right mind would place a man like Juan Ponce-Enrile as Senate President at this time and expect that he will maintain the independence of the Senate which is the only institution that is not under GMA’s control?

This display of bad judgment on the part of Roxas, Lacson, Legarda and Madrigal is the best reason not to even consider them for the positions they covet in 2010. They not only ceded an Opposition bastion to GMA but they also facilitated the very strong possibility that Charter change (Cha cha) will now be attained by the administration.

Lacson, in his usual manner of taking cheap shots, tried to explain the Villar ouster as the result of questions he raised against Villar’s integrity — referring to his ‘Road to Nowhere’ expose that turned out to be another Lacson dud. Lacson never proved his case and even Juan Ponce-Enrile, during the Finance Committee investigation, confirmed that.

Interviewed after the Senate coup, Senator Nene Pimentel reiterated the point that the ouster had nothing to do with the ‘Road to Nowhere’ issue which has not established any proof. To his credit and that too of Senator Noynoy Aquino, Pimentel and Aquino both abstained from signing the ouster document.

The truth is the Villar ouster had everything to do with Villar’s high ratings in the early 2010 presidential polls. Villar has been topping or placing a very close second in both SWS and Pulse Asia 2010 presidential surveys. In both the most recent SWS and Pulse Asia 2010 presidential surveys, Villar was a whisker away (just 1%) from the leading presidentiable, Vice President Noli de Castro.

Lacson’s ‘Road to Nowhere’ dud of an expose was all about destabilizing Villar’s ratings in the presidential polls and removing Villar from the Senate Presidency.

Juan Ponce-Enrile, in an interview with ANC’s Tony Velasquez shortly after he was sworn in as the new Senate President, stated that the coup was instigated by the Opposition and not by the administration. Enrile claimed that sitting as Senate President was never in his radar screen until the instigators — or shall we say conspirators — showed that they have sufficient numbers to mount the coup.

It would have been acceptable if they replaced Villar with Senator Nene Pimentel as Senate President (which was the conspirators’ original plan after the May 2007 Senate elections). It would have been palatable if the conspirators placed Mar Roxas as Senate President. At least, they placed an Opposition member as Senate President.

But for the conspirators from the Opposition to award the Senate Presidency to just about the staunchest defender of GMA in the Senate — Juan Ponce-Enrile — the millions who voted to install an Opposition Senate have all the reasons to feel betrayed and look down on the conspirators as traitors.
The blind ambition of the conspirators, in their bloodthirsty rage to oust Villar from the Senate Presidency, made them want nothing else but to trip the leading Opposition racer, the object of their envy. In so doing, they did not only trip a leading Opposition racer in 2010 but they may have destroyed altogether the entire racetrack.

In other words, no more 2010 presidential elections, now that GMA has both the House and the Senate under administration leadership to pave the way for Charter change.

What happens now if Enrile and the administration Senators join hands with the administration majority in
Congress and vote in favor of Charter change via constituent assembly? These narrow-minded and self-seeking conspirators from the Opposition overlooked the importance of the symbolism Enrile brings with him as Senate President.
* * *
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Text of letter from Obama in Illinois newspapers

By The Associated Press

Text of President-elect Barack Obama’s letter published in Illinois newspapers Sunday, when he officially resigned from the Senate:

Today, I am ending one journey to begin another. After serving the people of Illinois in the United States Senate — one of the highest honors and privileges of my life — I am stepping down as senator to prepare for the responsibilities I will assume as our nation’s next president. But I will never forget, and will forever be grateful, to the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible.

More than two decades ago, I arrived in Illinois as a young man eager to do my part in building a better America. On the South Side of Chicago, I worked with families who had lost jobs and lost hope when the local steel plant closed. It wasn’t easy, but we slowly rebuilt those neighborhoods one block at a time, and in the process I received the best education I ever had. It’s an education that led me to organize a voter registration project in Chicago, stand up for the rights of Illinois families as an attorney and eventually run for the Illinois state Senate.

It was in Springfield, in the heartland of America, where I saw all that is America converge — farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. It was there that I learned to disagree without being disagreeable; to seek compromise while holding fast to those principles that can never be compromised, and to always assume the best in people instead of the worst. Later, when I made the decision to run for the United States Senate, the core decency and generosity of the American people is exactly what I saw as I traveled across our great state — from Chicago to Cairo; from Decatur to Quincy.

I still remember the young woman in East St. Louis who had the grades, the drive and the will but not the money to go to college. I remember the young men and women I met at VFW halls across the state who serve our nation bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I will never forget the workers in Galesburg who faced the closing of a plant they had given their lives to, who wondered how they would provide health care to their sick children with no job and little savings.

Stories like these are why I came to Illinois all those years ago, and they will stay with me when I go to the White House in January. The challenges we face as a nation are now more numerous and difficult than when I first arrived in Chicago, but I have no doubt that we can meet them. For throughout my years in Illinois, I have heard hope as often as I have heard heartache. Where I have seen struggle, I have seen great strength. And in a state as broad and diverse in background and belief as any in our nation, I have found a spirit of unity and purpose that can steer us through the most troubled waters.

It was long ago that another son of Illinois left for Washington. A greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided, Abraham Lincoln, said of his home, “To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything.” Today, I feel the same, and like Lincoln, I ask for your support, your prayers, and for us to “confidently hope that all will yet be well.”

With your help, along with the service and sacrifice of Americans across the nation who are hungry for change and ready to bring it about, I have faith that all will in fact be well. And it is with that faith, and the high hopes I have for the enduring power of the American idea, that I offer the people of my beloved home a very affectionate thanks.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wow! Sorrowful and joyful mysteries in two Senate hearings

By William M. Esposo

Lest you get the wrong impression — no, they did not pray the Rosary in the Senate.
What they did was to conduct two very important hearings last Thursday (on the Fertilizer Fund Mess) and Saturday (on the PNP Moscow Fund). And in those two Senate hearings some sorrowful and joyful mysteries unfolded.

Former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante was a sorrowful mystery. Others would say pathetic. Hardly any Senator believed Jocjoc Bolante. Even Arroyo regime ally Senator Miriam D. Santiago couldn’t stomach what Jocjoc Bolante was saying and let out a shudder and sigh to express her disbelief and exasperation.

Sen. Mar Roxas, who has worked in the Arroyo cabinet as Trade Secretary, attested to the fact that there is no way the P728 million Fertilizer Fund could have been operated and spent sans the approval of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), a known micro-manager. But Jocjoc Bolante mysteriously stuck to his line that GMA was not in any way involved in the operation.
Jocjoc Bolante was a successful businessman and top corporate executive. He was a vital cog of the success story of the Prudential Group in the Philippine insurance game before he mysteriously opted to abandon the corporate suite with all its perks for the thankless and low-paying job of an Undersecretary of Agriculture.

Despite his corporate achievements, Jocjoc Bolante was mysteriously wanting as a manager of the Fertilizer Fund who suddenly lost sight of proper control procedures. He was the central operator of the Fertilizer Fund and yet if we are to believe his testimony in the Senate — everybody in the bureaucracy had committed far greater management mistakes than him.
In the PNP Moscow Fund hearing, former PNP Comptroller Eliseo de la Paz delivered a nearly tearful opening statement that intimated his great concern for the legacy of a good name that he wanted to pass on to his posterity. And yet, when the hearing unfolded, he mysteriously owned up to all the accountability and very possible conviction and jail sentence that his admission of wrongdoing could get him.

In what we are used to seeing as the tendency of our public officials to point to the next person in order to avoid blame, Eliseo de la Paz was mysteriously gallant and bold to assume all the blame for the PNP Moscow Fund Mess. We could only wish that he instead opted for the higher and bolder act of taking the moral high ground by telling the whole truth.

We can only join the Senators who expressed sympathy for Eliseo de la Paz. It is such sorrow to see a brave man become the perceived bad public servant who broke the law when all around us plunderers go Scot-free while posturing as honorable men.

Lo and behold - the Senate rose to one of its finest hours during the hearings last Thursday and Saturday. The Senate, especially during the Saturday hearing, was mysteriously free of grandstanding, childish antics and inquisition in search of media platforms.

The Thursday hearing would not have been marred by a cheap shot if Senator Panfilo Lacson did not try to have Senator Alan Cayetano inhibit himself over a document that turned out to be bogus. It was typically Lacson to suggest sentence before hearing and trial.
Wow! Senator Miriam D. Santiago was mysteriously undemonstrative of the theatrical displays we’ve come to anticipate when she investigates. Don’t you agree that this is just about the most gracious — and most effective — Sen. Santiago has been in a Senate investigation? There is a world of wisdom to be learned there.

Wow! Somewhat mysteriously, the Senate managed to discard the tendency of some Senators to behave like minions of Tomas de Torquemada (called “The hammer of heretics”) of the Spanish Inquisition. This Torquemada character of some Senators is what provides ammunition to those who are trying to erode public confidence in the Senate as an institution.

Wow! The Senate even praised some public servants during the PNP Moscow Fund Mess hearing. Supt. Samuel Rodriguez was praised for having officially raised (in writing) the questionable orders of Eliseo de la Paz to source a P10 million travel fund from intelligence funds. The same was extended to his boss, C/Supt. Orlando Pestano, for having acted on that letter of Supt. Rodriguez.

Wow! The PNP Moscow Fund hearing was just about the only hearing that we saw in a long, long time where we could see the necessary legislation and revised regulations emerging from the investigation and discussions.

We can see the formulation of stricter regulations on the issuance of travel funds to public officials. We can see a new law regarding the handling of the liquidation of intelligence funds which a Marcos decree kept as a tight secret between the agency involved and the COA Chairman. We can see stricter controls on the arbitrary shifting of public funds from that experience of using intelligence funds for travel expenses.
From such meaningful hearings, we can expect an atmosphere of cooperation from the executive after it sees the genuine merits of Senate investigations and how these probes can result in better legislation and governance.

Even a paranoid GMA regime will find it hard not attending Senate investigations if such decorum will become the standard and with the public acknowledging the improved legislation and other positive measures that result from such probes.

Wow! That will be such a joyful day for Philippine democracy!
* * *
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gloria’s ‘Undivided’ Government

Perry Diaz

Once again, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is in the hot seat. No president in Philippine history — or perhaps the world — has experienced the ignominy of impeachment four times. But to Gloria, that is just another occupational hazard. Otherwise, it’s business as usual.

As in the first three impeachment petitions, she is expected to survive this fourth and, perhaps, last attempt to remove her before her term ends in 2010. With only six — including former Speaker Jose de Venecia — of the 29 opposition congressmen endorsing the impeachment petition filed by De Venecia’s son, Jose “Joey” de Venecia III, there is not an iota of chance — or luck — that the House of Representatives would impeach Gloria. With her deep pockets and political patronage, there is just no way Congress would impeach her. That is like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

So, what the hell is Congress trying to do? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going to happen next, which is: vindication of Gloria. And once vindicated, she could then boldly make her next move which is to stay in power beyond 2010. And if you look at what’s going on right now, the parameters to prolong her kleptocratic reign are pretty much in place. Her political machine is ready to go rolling… and roll over anyone who stands in her way.

The only thing that would stop Gloria is world public opinion which could cause the international financial cartel to react convulsively and tighten — or stop — credit to Gloria’s government. And without international credit, Gloria’s “Enchanted Kingdom” would crumble like a sand castle.

One of the Philippines’ biggest creditors is Japan. With Japan officially in recession last week, it will predictably tighten the flow of money to a drip. With China going through financial crisis of its own and the United States already in deep shit, the Philippines’ economic outlook is dim. And with the peso plummeting against the US dollar, Gloria’s ambitious economic programs — which is predicated on the continuous flow of OFW remittances — are in big trouble.

In July 2008, the unemployment rate was 7.4% and underemployment rate was 21%. With the global economy melting down, the increasing number of unemployed OFWs are going home.

What is strange is that a lot of Philippine economic “experts” were saying that the Philippines will not go into recession despite the global economic meltdown. These experts should remember that what fueled the “economic boom” in the past few years were three factors: 1) Increased OFW remittances; 2) Weakened US dollar; and 3) Increased Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). Now, let’s look at each of these factors today. With OFW losing their jobs and going home, remittances will decrease. The US dollar vis-à-vis the Philippine peso is no longer weakening; it’s the peso that is now weakening. At the beginning of the year, the peso was very robust at P41 to US$1. Today, it is P51 to US$1… and continues to weaken. In regard to FDIs, during the first five months of 2008, FDIs totaled a net inflow of US$725 million. A year ago, the net inflow was US$2.3 billion — a 25% drop in FDIs. That’s triple whammy!

Last November 17, 2008, in a blitzkrieg-like assault in the Upper Chamber, Senate President Manuel Villar was ousted and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile — a close ally of Gloria — was swiftly installed. But what is odd is that the coup was supported by several opposition senators including Panfilo Lacson, Jamby Madrigal, Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, and Francis Escudero. What made them do it? Well, they can all say, “The Devil made me do it.” Interestingly, Lacson, Roxas, and Legarda are presidential wannabes. And with Villar, who is the front-runner in the presidential derby, their move appears to be motivated by their personal ambition. And by removing Villar as the Senate head honcho, it would enhance their chances in the presidential race. That’s wishful thinking. What they didn’t realize is that the ouster of Villar will only consolidate the powers of Gloria in the three branches of government. For the first time the country has now an undivided government. Next year, Gloria’s grip on the Supreme Court will further tighten when nine justices will retire and, of course, Gloria will replace them with her loyalists.

Gloria had been trying very hard to impress the international community with untruthful and hyperbolic pronouncements. She tried very hard — and failed — to connect with US President-elect Barack Obama before and after his election. The word “snubbed” has been used in the media to describe her failed attempt to contact Obama right after the election. She then went to Chicago on her way to the United Nations in New York to meet with the local Fil-Ams. The Fil-Am community, however, was abuzz with words that Gloria’s real purpose in going to Chicago was to seek a meeting with Obama. But it seemed that Obama’s cordon sanitaire was impenetrable and Gloria high-tailed it to New York without seeing him. However, on November 17, Obama returned Gloria’s November 4th call and two others. A generic statement from Obama’s office said that he “expressed his appreciation for their congratulations on his election.”

While Gloria tried very hard to gain international recognition with her globetrotting junkets, her satisfactory rating back home is 6.6% and her unsatisfactory rating is 82.2%. Her net satisfaction rating is -75.6, the lowest since 2004. Unfazed by these negative polls, Gloria is taking off again for Peru to attend the APEC meeting. It was reported that 42 congressmen will be joining her. The last time Congress tried to impeach her, she took off on a European junket with more than 70 congressmen and their spouses in her entourage. When they returned, Congress rejected the impeachment petition.

Amidst the economic turmoil that is besieging the country, the Filipino people continue to suffer in hunger and unemployment. But to those in power, it’s business as usual — to hell with public opinion!


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

JokeTime: Para sa mga bisaya

babae: nong! sakay ko!
drivr: cge! asa man ka?
bbae: diha lang sa kanto! naay bayad ang bata?
drivr: ay libre lang kay duol man.
bbae: ah, ang mosabak naay bayad?
drivr: wala gihapon!
bbae: cge nak! sabaka ko...

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

Customer: Day, kape.
Tindera: Tag P10 na ra ba.
Customer: Diba tag P8 ra na?
Tindera: Nimahal naman gud ang gasolina.
Customer: Ah, ayaw na lang butangig gasolina!

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

BISAYA: Pabili nga ng lemoncito.
TINDERA: Anong lemoncito?
BISAYA: Lemoncito gud.. yong maliit na buongon!

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
TEACHER: give me a tag question.
PUPIL: My teacher is beautiful, isn't she?
TEACHER: Very good! Ibinisaya, dong.
PUPIL: Ang akong maestra gwapa, wa sya kuyapi?

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
bana: love, promise sugod karon di na tika luiban. ako nang biyaan ang akong kabit
asawa: wow, tenk you love, ako sad promise, ang sunod natong anak, ikaw nay amahan.

promise jud!

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
security: excuse me po mam, titingnan ko lang ang bag nyo kung merong baril .
tiguwang: buang ka! di man gani maigo ang balde sa akong bag, baril pa kaha!

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
anak: ma, busog nako, dili nako mahurot

mama: hutda dyud na! kabaw baka nga daghan gipang gutom sa kalibutan?
anak: nya kung ako ni hutdon, mabusog sila?!

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
pasyente: doc, regular lagi ko malibang. kad alas 7 sa buntag doctor: maayu nuon na! unsa
may problema?
pasyente: 8 am man gud ko maka mata!
doctor: toink!

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
bana: gang, naka-save ko ug 6.00 karon kay ako na man gigukod ang jeep, wala man ko mu sakay
asawa: bogo! taxi unta imung gigukod aron mas dako imong na-save

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
Doc: Ma'am, naa kay breast cancer.
Ma'am: ha? tinuod ka doc? dili man ko katuo sa imong gisulti! i'm healthy! naa pa ka second opinion?
Doc: Bati pa jud kag nawong!

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
ATTY: asa ka pagkahitabo sa rape?
JUN: sa kamaisan
ATTY: nag-unsa ka didto?
JUN: nalibang!
ATTY: pila ka kadupa gikan sa krimen?
JUN: naa bay malibang magdupa-dupa? . Ayaw pagbugal-bugal 'torni uy!

Hinaut nga nalingaw kamo sa gitik-gitik!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama and Gloria

By Antonio C. Abaya

So that President Arroyo does not further humiliate herself trying to get an audience or at the very least a photo-op with President-elect Barack Obama, she should always keep in mind that Obama belongs to the liberal wing of American domestic politics.

It should be assumed that there are Filipino-Americans in Obama’s staff, and they, too, are liberals. They know what is going on in their country of origin. Through the Internet, they know about the stealing, the lying, the cheating and the killings that have been going on in this country for the past seven years, and they input this knowledge whenever Obama asks them for a briefing on the Philippines.

Through them, Obama knows that she is maneuvering to change the Constitution so that she can stay in power beyond 2010.

It is no wonder, therefore, that when Gloria visited the US last June, Presidential Candidate Obama was always in New York when she was in Washington, and was always in Washington or somewhere else when she was in New York. It was a deliberate snub. American liberals do no not approve of the way she has been running this country.

All Obama was prepared to give her, to acknowledge her presence, was a polite telephone call, followed by a letter..

Even that was not forthcoming when President-elect Obama received congratulatory telephone calls from dozens of world leaders, including President Arroyo. Obama returned the telephone calls of only nine of them – the leaders of the most important countries – and Arroyo was not one of them.

When President Arroyo went to the US early this month, ostensibly to speak before a United Nations forum on interfaith dialogue, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that meeting Obama was “high” on her agenda.

But there was no meeting with Obama, even though President Arroyo made a two-hour stop-over in Chicago – Obama’s home base – ostensibly to talk to the Filipino community there.

And not to forget her visit to the US last October, supposedly to speak before the United Nations General Assembly. If Malacanang is to be believed, President Arroyo met with the heads-of-state, heads-of-government, or chefs de mission of 19 countries – including seven Lilliput ones – all within the space of 48 hours. (See my article Gloria and the Lilliputs, October 02, 2008).

But no meeting with Barack Obama, although I am sure frantic efforts were made by her staff to wangle an audience. She would have gladly junked those meetings with 19 boring leaders of silly countries, in exchange for one with the devastating Barack.

And it is not just the liberals who have blacklisted President Arroyo. The outgoing neo-conservatives have neither forgotten nor forgiven her for abandoning the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq and for playing footsies with the Chinese, whom the neo-cons believe will be the next strategic enemy of the US, after the Muslim extremists..

During her visit to Washington last June – during which Candidate John McCain, bless his gentlemanly soul, gave her 15 minutes of his time in a hotel lobby – the neo-cons insulted her by forcing her to conduct a press briefing outdoors, on the sidewalk of a busy DC street. No self-respecting head-of-state or head–of government would have put up with such indignity, but she did.

If you do not believe me, look at the color photo on the front page of the June 25 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, credited to Malacanang Photo. There she is, talking into one of two stand-up microphones, flanked by Deputy Secretary of State (and neo-con) John Negroponte, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Press Secretary Jesus Dureza.

There are no lecterns, no chairs, no tables, no presidential seal. But in the background are motor vehicles going about their normal business. (See my article Weird, June 30, 2008)

Malacanang is complaining that media prints/broadcasts too many negative stories and not enough feel-good ones about President Arroyo. But why does she put herself in such humiliating situations, and why does she herself create such self-destructive conditions?
She is her own worst enemy, not media.

Such as giving executive pardon to the convicted murderer Claudio Teehankee Jr.? She knew this was going to be a very unpopular decision, yet she went ahead and did it.

Even the convicted murderer knew his pardon would infuriate most people. He did not leave prison through the front door in broad daylight. The previous evening he stayed in the “special” room of convicted child rapist Romeo Jalosjos, then destroyed the decorative tiles close to the ceiling, crawled through the hole (which was later patched up by someone with a new set of decorative tiles), and out into the street where a man on a motorcycle was waiting to speed him away. It looked more like a jailbreak than the implementation of a presidential pardon..

Did President Arroyo really think anyone other than Teehankee and his family rejoiced over this caper? Is she really wondering why, according to a recent Pulse Asia survey, 46 percent of Filipinos disapproved of her performance and 51 percent distrusted her?

Even the defeat of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s bid for a seat in the International Court of Justice could not be prevented by President Arroyo even though one of the rationales for her trip to the UN last October was to campaign for Miriam’s nomination. Presumably PGMA lobbied for Miriam when she met with the top officials of – if Malacanang can be believed - 19 countries, including seven Lilliput ones, in 24 working hours.

But Miriam lost to the nominee from, of all places, Somalia. Somalia is considered a failed state; it has no functioning government. It is run and overrun by marauding bands of armed men loyal to rival warlords who, in turn, clash with Islamist rebels, while increasingly bold Somali pirates hijack ships off the Horn of Africa with impunity. (Their latest catch, just today, is a Saudi supertanker weighing 318,000 deadweight tons).

To lose to Somalia is therefore deeply humiliating and requires exceptional talent..

Last June, when a Senate committee chaired by Sen. Miriam was hearing the complaint of foreign car assemblers that second-hand cars were being illegally imported through Port Irene (Cagayan Province), Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is from Cagayan, told the chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce (JFCC) to “get out of the country if you can’t live with us.”.

The JFCC is currently chaired by a Frenchman and represents some 2,000 employers/investors from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the European Union, who employ some one million Filipinos.

In my article ‘Get out of the country!’ of June 09, 2008, I wrote that with Sen. Enrile’s outburst, Sen. Miriam “can kiss goodbye her ambitions to be named to and accepted by the International Court of Justice.” Quite influential and powerful, the countries whose representative Sen. Enrile chose to publicly humiliate..

If they couldn’t get back directly at Sen. Enrile, they could get back, and did, at committee chair Sen. Miriam and the Philippines, despite the charm offensive, assuming there really was one, by President Arroyo, and that she was really charming. *****

CULTURAL NOTES. Tomorrow night, Nov. 29 at 8 pm, it will be From Russia with Love at the CCP, with Russian pianist and (since 1998) Steinway Artist Katya Grineva, who will perform romantic piano music for the benefit of skills training and vocational education for soldiers and their families in Camp O’Donnell, Tarlac. The New York Times has described her performance as “liquid, dream-like…”

Tickets at the CCP Box Office, Ticketworld and National Bookstores. *****

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Racism as colonialism: Jefferson, Obama and us

The Philippine STAR
By F Sionil Jose

Way back in the early ‘90s, I was asked to speak about our American colonial experience before a university audience at the International House in Berkeley. I went to the United States for the first time in 1955 and for three months, with a US State Department grant and a princely per diem of $12 a day, I crisscrossed that vast continent. Since then, I had visited that land of milk and honey on so many occasions; if I were to name the three most deadly sins of the Americans, the first is racism, then wastefulness and the third, smugness. After my talk, a retired black professor commented that I had glossed over racism. I told him they were doing so much about it from what I know of that problem in the ‘50s when I visited the South and saw segregation at its worst. He agreed; indeed, the Americans have narrowed the racial divide but not their wastefulness and smugness.

The entry on January 20 of Barack Obama and his family in the White House — the residence of this world’s most powerful single individual — has elicited universal encomia, and so many expectations as well.

Let us now peruse briefly racial discrimination by our former colonizers bearing in mind that they passed on to us not just their genes but their vices, not their virtues.

For all its might America is a young country of immigrants. The first went there because of religious persecution in England. The United States then should be the last nation on earth where racial discrimination would thrive, given this background — but it flourished when succeeding settlers brought slaves from Africa to work in the plantations in the South.

It is one of those historical ironies that Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the American Declaration of Independence, was not only the owner of several slaves but had a mistress who was one.
When his wife, Martha Wayles Skelton, died, it would seem that he promised her he would never marry again. His wife’s half sister, Sally, was black. She was with Jefferson when he was in Paris; Jefferson was 46 and Sally was 16. She bore Jefferson’s child and six others; all of whom bore Jefferson’s name.

Sally could have stayed on in France as a free woman because there was no slavery in France, but she went back to the United States and lived in Jefferson’s beautiful home, Monticello.
It is presumed that there was affectionate bonding between the two and that when their children reached the age of 21, Jefferson would free them. When Charles Dickens, the English novelist, visited Washington, he heard of this not-too-secret story and he satirized it. All these delicious details, dug up through extensive research, are in Annette Gordon-Reed’s new book, The Hemingses of Monticello.

The American Civil War (1861-1865) resolved the conundrum of slavery. Great moral issues create equally great moral leaders, Abraham Lincoln in this Civil War. Great writers as well, from the oppressed — Ralph Elison, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, to name just a few of the blacks who brought their artistic skills to fruition in their depiction of the injustices their forebears suffered. And in South Africa, non-Blacks like Nadine Gordimer and Alan Paton.
Racism in America is directed not just to the blacks but to the Jews who, though a small minority, have a lot of economic and cultural clout. Asians, Latinos have not been spared. And of course, Filipinos, as the writer Carlos Bulosan tells it only too movingly in his book, America is in the Heart.

Anti-miscegenation laws in California, for instance, were aimed at Asians and a Filipino was even lynched for cohabiting with a white woman.

From time immemorial, racism has existed all over the world in so many forms, as religious bias, and not just as color. We are only too familiar with how Hitler massacred millions of Jews in gas chambers in the concentration camps in Dachau, Auschwitz and Buchenwald.In Japan, racial discrimination is subtle but very demanding and real. The Japanese believe they are a superior and divine race; they regard all other Asians as inferior — but not Caucasians. The natives who do dirty jobs, the burakumin, are regarded as low caste and are avoided in marriage. So are the Koreans though they have lived in Japan for generations. Birth records are well preserved and it is not difficult to check and trace one’s lineage.

The term gaijin, though it refers primarily to foreigners, illustrates the quiet subtlety of Japanese racial discrimination. It is easy to justify the exclusivity of the natives, the need for harmony of millions packed tightly in a small island nation. Ever polite, ever hospitable, discrimination in Japan does not scream at outsiders; it lurks behind those ritual bows, beneath the dizzying patina of modernity that suffuses this powerful, well-bonded nation — the second richest in the world.

And what about Mother Espana which once shaped an empire where “the sun never sets”? The ultimate specter of racial discrimination is in the Spanish Inquisition, which started in the 14th century, was revived two centuries later and persisted all through the 19th century. Led by the Dominicans and those exemplar rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella, it was first established by Rome to combat the Reformation; it burgeoned in Spain independent of the Vatican. Its inquisitors burned books, seized properties of infidels, drove the Jews out, enforced conversions on them and the Moors. By its “acts of faith” it tortured and burned at the stake thousands upon thousands. With its fanatical search for doctrinal purity and cleansing of the blood (limpieza de sangre), it crippled the financiers, the royalty. It eventually defined the Spanish character; as the Spanish writer, Marcelino Menendez Pelayo, explained it: there was no industry in Spain; the bullfights, the long siesta, the laziness of Spaniards — all these were the after-effects of the Inquisition.

Maybe so, but this vaulting aberration also produced the world’s greatest novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha.

And for us, the Noli and Fili.
What about us brown Indios? Of course, we are racists, too; and we discriminate most against

our ethnics — the aetas, the manyans…
But first, we as victims. Serapio/Canceran, President Quezon’s private secretary, told me about a pre-war Caucasian club in Manila that did not admit Indios until one evening when this club was celebrating an annual ball. Quezon marched into it with a Constabulary sergeant and a huge Doberman and announced to the well-groomed assembly that he would close the club, if…
And among us are Spanish mestizo families still who do not want their bloodline diluted with mongrel genes. I know of a very sophisticated, pretty Indio girl whose boyfriend was a Spanish mestizo. All long I presumed that they had gotten married and were now living happily somewhere in Pangasinan. It didn’t turn out that way; the mestizo dumped her in accordance with the family dictate, went to Spain and married a Spanish girl instead.

We grow up mouthing limericks like Intsik Baboy, tulo laway, bahay silong knowing only too well that Chinese parents don’t want their daughters to marry Indios.

Lilia G. Hernandez, my doctor when I am in America, is semi-retired after a very successful practice in California. Her family has a beautiful home in Pleasanton an hour away from San Francisco. She and her husband, an engineer, founded Tambalan, an NGO devoted to helping Filipinos. She visited Manila the other week and here is her latest communication:

“The more time I spend in my country of birth, the more I feel so discriminated against by people whose language I speak, whose skin color is mine, whose poor I dedicate more of my time to.

“On one of my trips in 2006, an Italian-American came with me to see the programs my group in the Bay Area help support financially. On that same trip, my husband was finalizing plans for a house with the architect. My husband (a Filipino-American), the Italian-American and myself went to the site. Standing close to my husband, I stepped aside for a local woman to pass. She asked ‘Are you and your husband (pointing at the Italian-American some meters away) the ones who are building a house here?’ I was so surprised, and pointed at the man beside me as my husband. I soon realized that people thought I had to have a white man to be able to build a nice house in the Philippines!

“One of the reasons I travel to the Philippines is to bring Americans to see what locals do to help improve themselves through community effort. These people going on an ‘exposure’ may be native-born Americans, Caucasians, or Filipinos who have immigrated to the United States.
“Upon arrival at the airport, one customs officer mumbled questions concerning what was in my suitcases (cheap school supplies I got from Target to give away, a few medical supplies donated by health professionals). Before I stepped aside to open my suitcases, I mentioned to him in Bisaya that the lady after me was my guest. My friend noticed the sudden change in his facial expression when he saw her, and how quickly we were sent through (without opening my suitcases), so quickly that my friend had to ask ‘What was that all about?’ Perhaps the guy thought I was a returning domestic helper, an easy target for a bribe, until he saw that I had to be someone ‘important’ to have a white guest.

“On checking in at hotels, in department stores, she was always given more attention. The most blatant was our visit to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). At the door, I was asked to open my tiny purse and to surrender my camera. My white friend, with a 24”x18” bag, bulging with a high-powered camera, breezed through. I did not say anything until after coming out, when I told the chief of security, the very guy who insisted on taking my camera ‘unit,’ that their discrimination against their kapwa (fellow) Filipinos was truly disgusting.
“As I was leaving, I proceeded to the Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in line. (Being a frequent flyer, I have the privilege of checking in through business even if I am traveling economy.) “Ma’am,” a guard said, “that’s the business class line.” So why didn’t he stop the brusque-looking white man with a young Filipino lass, and a Chinese man before me? I recalled what Barack Obama wrote in his book, when he and his half-sister were waiting to be served at a bar in Kenya — ignored, as the white patrons were attended to!”

Indeed, Filipinos also ridicule their countrymen because of their looks, because someone has a low chin (baba), cubitus varus (kumang), slit eyes (singkit) or is bald. The journalist Arsenio Lacson poked fun at President Carlos P. Garcia because he was quite dark. The antic could be considered funny, as it was staged in the past by the Reycard Duet, or the comedians Pogo and Togo. But it can also be disastrous when such remarks impede recognition of integrity, or intellectual and artistic rigor.

What is often said of us can be self-fulfilling: Caviteños are dangerous. Batanguenos are naked without their balisong. Pangasinenses are filthy. Warays and Negrenses are profligate and indolent. So the Capampangans have dugong aso, the Boholanos are stupid, the Moros are traitors, the Ilokanos may be hard working and thrifty but they are dumb like carabao. And nobody now takes us seriously, for as a famous American editor confided, how can he when our leaders are “silly”?

All such farcical clichés have a way of insinuating themselves into the national psyche and every day, they are aggravated by the nonsense on our TV screens, on the front pages of our newspapers. And we are outraged when the BBC pokes fun at our maids in London. So we ask again, whose fault is it?

What event of such apocalyptic magnitude or epiphanic redemption would rid us of racism and truly humanize us? Maybe it will be the forthcoming catastrophe of climate change, maybe an invasion from outer space that will threaten the whole world itself, or some such pandemic that threatens to decimate the human species.

Shakespeare said it is conscience that makes cowards of us all.

This is one of those asinine afterthoughts; perhaps, it is best that the Spaniards colonized us, that we did not become Hindus, else we would have the caste system which ordains that “we are born unequal, live unequal and die unequal.”
What, then, makes us all equal?

So the beautiful Taj Mahal commemorates a loved one’s passing, and the pyramids are supposed to last as a refuge in the afterlives of the pharaohs. All those hundreds of terra cotta warriors excavated in China are to safeguard an emperor’s journey to the great beyond.
Whatever, death is the great leveler and if we only thought more often of this ultimate truth — that we cannot bring anything with us — then, perhaps, ours would be a safer and more just society.

Remember when the Nazis grabbed a contiguous piece of real estate in the late ‘30s? Hitler crowed: “Today Sudetenland, tomorrow the world.”

In a way, Obama’s victory is a shining triumph of democracy. It signifies not just the final liberation of the Black Man but all of the world’s oppressed from the bondage of race. Truly this is the greening of America, and prayerfully, tomorrow, the world as well.

But I have news for all of us who placed our bets on Barack Obama. Racism will continue in America, and everywhere, though possibly in a more muted form.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

How much does it cost to kill a man?

By William M. Esposo

How much does it cost to kill a man? The late Bishop Fulton Sheen posed this question during a replayed 1968 episode of his internationally followed television series.

In the 1960s, Catholic schools used to assign pupils to watch Bishop Sheen’s TV show as homework. As a kid, I would have protested such homework which interferes with viewing my favorite programs.

Ironically, I find myself viewing Bishop Sheen replays these days on the two Catholic Cable TV Networks, EWTN and Familyland Network. It is not for the preaching of Catholic dogma that glues me to Bishop Sheen replays whenever I happen to chance upon it. It is for the timeless values he talked about in his show.

I was never keen on dogma, rituals and ceremonies that we see too much in the Catholic Church. Many times, I have called the Church hierarchy to task for being too “ceremonious” like the Pharisees Jesus Christ used to denounce and I’ve suggested to them to be more involved with the communities, especially the poorest of the poor.

I have always espoused that Filipinos need to overhaul their values if they are to move forward. This should be one of the top priorities of the Catholic Church — to help reform the values of the poor that conspire to keep them trapped in their station in life.

“How much does it cost to kill a man?” Bishop Sheen asked in that 1968 telecast. He proceeded to list the facts and figures that painted a grim picture of the destructive tendencies of man which, from Cain and Abel and up to this day and age, continue to be the darkest side of mankind.

Bishop Sheen explained that it needed Cain a mere branch of a tree to kill Abel. From this first murder (according to Christian faith), the concept of weaponry evolved — the sword, the arrow and the spear. Bishop Sheen presented what it cost warriors (based on 1968 value of money) through the centuries to kill their fellow man.

For Julius Caesar, it cost an estimated 75 cents. For Napoleon, to kill a man cost him US$700. In World War I, despite the existence of the capacity for wholesale killing, Bishop Sheen said it averaged to $21,000. In World War II, where more nations were involved and where even more deaths occurred, the cost to kill a man averaged $200,000. As of 1968 when the telecast was done, the US spent $1 million an hour in the Vietnam War, according to Bishop Sheen.
Of course, the cost in money terms is one aspect — the least mankind should be concerned with. Money can be recovered but not human lives. The toll in human lives and human misery must never be accepted as collateral for war.

But what mankind should worry about is the tracked tendency to engage in war even when times have improved in terms of economic standard of living, health and education. In many cases, of course, the more developed country adopts an imperial inclination and decides to make vassal States of the weak ones.

Bishop Sheen cited several periods of peace between wars that became shorter and shorter. Between the Napoleonic Wars and the Franco-Prussian War, Bishop Sheen said that there was an interval of 55 years. Between the Franco-Prussian War and World War I, there was a shorter interval of 43 years. Between World War I and World War II, the interval was only 21 years. Progress, it appears, increases instead of decreases the likelihood and incidence of war.
In the case of two European powers, Great Britain went to war 76 times during the last 100 years (note that reference point here is 1968). France went to war during the last 100 years — 16 times. Of course, after Napoleon, France became less imperial.

In 2007, US President George W. Bush asked for a Defense Appropriation of $493 billion, a 7% increase from that of 2006. At its height, the US spent an average of $40 billion a month in the Iraq invasion. These are monies that could easily go to health care, a thorny issue during the recently concluded US presidential election.

Let’s not go far from home. Over here, Dictator Ferdinand Marcos sent his First Lady, Imelda Marcos, to charm Muammar Khaddafi in Libya in order to seek a resolution to the Mindanao War. Marcos realized that the cost of the war could destabilize his martial law regime. The Tripoli Agreement resulted in that trip of Imelda Marcos and we had peace, albeit temporary.
If wide scale hostilities erupt anew in Mindanao, the Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime will find it extremely difficult to cope with the cost of a full scale war in addition to the economic crisis we are already encountering. A full scale Mindanao War could undo her just as World War I brought the end of the Romanov Tsars in Russia.

The sum of Bishop Sheen’s presentation is the dark side of man that is focused on using technology for things that can kill better and faster instead of using technology and resources to foster peace, harmony and development. After all, prosperity and development is the best insurance that a nation will not go to war.

Normally, a nation that is enjoying prosperity and peace will not willingly want to go to war. Japan today, an aggressor in World War II, is the best proof of that. The only reason why Japan is now rearming is because of signs of the US weakening and the looming threat of North Korea and China — both being Japan’s enemies in the past.

War as an instrument of foreign policy is too unpredictable. Who would imagine that a superpower like the US will run away from Vietnam with its tail between its legs? On the other hand, look at what the Great Depression created — the dawn of Fascist regimes in Spain, Italy and Germany under Franco, Mussolini and Hitler, respectively. Look at the casualties and devastated cities of Hitler’s World War II.

Invariably, the extreme income disparity in a society where many are miserably poor and too few are filthy rich proves to be the best promoter of conflict. A strong man emerges when there is a down trodden class in society, a big brother who promises to spread the wealth.

This is the reason why up to now we have not resolved our issues with our Communist rebels. Nothing promotes the ideas of Karl Marx better than a Wealth Gap such as the one that festers in our society.
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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: and

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Lost Shepherds

Jose Ma. Montelibano

Being the most corrupt in the Southeast Asia region is not enough for our societal leaders. Most understand that corruption is an issue of governance, and they are right. Corruption is also an issue of morality, and nobody denies this. Shepherds, too, are not only of the Church and religion; they are also all other leaders - our parents, school administrations and faculties, civic and business leaders. When corruption rises to a level where our shame cannot be kept hidden anymore from a global audience, all shepherds have stumbled and fallen, with their flock after them, of course.

There are those who say that the world is very materialistic and hedonistic. Money and pleasure have outpaced virtue in the lives of people, until such time when aging bodies and the fear of death bring back some sense to our value system. More than ten years ago, I wrote about God the Money whom I called the Fourth Person and who was greater than the first three. I was not being funny, I was very serious. I just used a little humor to remind everyone of an embarrassing truth. After all, two thousand years ago, someone already said that money was the root of all evil, and that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The corruption of a country and its governance is but the tip of an iceberg. There simply cannot be corruption at a massive scale unless societal shepherds had surrendered to wrongdoing as a force greater than themselves, or themselves have become perpetrators of wrongdoing. Filipinos have a four hundred year history of subservience to authority imposed and foreign. Prior to that, a datu system which rewarded obedience and loyalty was in place. Subservience, or obedience, has been a behavioral and collective trait. If societal shepherds had not recapitulated to immorality, corruption beyond random, individual cases would not be possible.

Reviewing our history in the last several years, it seems understandable that societal leaders did, indeed, surrender or play footsies with wrongdoing. Under the ambit of colonialism and conversion, State and Church ventured to institutionalized exploitation and the use of intimidation and force. For centuries, societal leaders were the State and the Church, and together, they conspired to take away a people’s freedom and resources. Consequently, they took away human dignity even as they claimed to introduce a higher form of civilization and the one true faith.

If leadership in the last four hundred years meant exploitation of the many and the native in order to promote the well-being of the few and the foreign, then a perverse leadership lifestyle was established. Sincerity, honesty and loyalty could have been practiced by those in power, but they operated in a two-tiered value system. Individual virtues could be exercised but in a greater context of wrong, virtues towards conquerors but injustice towards the conquered. It is a pattern that has survived beyond colonial times to dominate the Philippine social and political environment where the few remain to be more equal than others.

The failure of State and Church does not end with them. Being the superpowers of Philippine society, the examples that the hierarchies of State and Church give trickle down to the lowest levels of governance. These examples are followed them rather than the written law. In proportion to the gravity of corruption in the Philippines where the horrible cultural impact is worse than its financial losses, our shepherds are strangely quiet. Perhaps, it is their helplessness. Perhaps, too, it is their guilt.

Shepherds herd the sheep, lead them to pasture, protect them from wolves. In the Philippines, shepherds are often what are known in the vernacular as “bantay salakay,” who lead the sheep to poverty, not pasture, and who turn wolves themselves, preying on sheep they are sworn to protect.

An abused constituency has become so weak that many now go hungry. The latest figures quickly raised the Philippines to be measured as the fifth hungriest among nations. The country that hosts one of the richest, if not the richest, in bio-diversity has also become the fifth most hungry. Can anyone imagine how a rich nation can be hungry? Simple, look to its shepherds.
Hunger is a dark cloud which brings tragedy in its womb. It is not as though there are no political problems that provide tension, and hunger will intensify it. Mindanao is at edge, the NPA has become more active, and scandals rock the administration. Inside the military, there appears to be a steady shepherd in Gen. Alexander Yano and no serious murmurs destabilize the organization. But the steady shepherd is not the type who will bend to deliberate wrongdoing. If confronted by conflict of interest, sheer integrity and professionalism might be the trigger to an honorable revolution akin to 1986.

Poverty aggravated by hunger will cause crime, including the reckless and careless ones. Today, we read of more daring, or desperate robberies. We hear from the grapevine of victim families about unreported kidnappings and ransom payments. Silence by shepherds as streets become unsafe does not lead to apathy, it leads to tragedy.

Corruption and poverty are cancers that grow more aggressively in the face of paralysis from shepherds. Hunger and violence are consequences that create even more horrible end results. The sheep have to lose their innocence, their quiet obedience, move into flight or fight mode while their shepherds lose their courage, lose their voice.

Peace cannot be mistaken for cowardice. The first exudes equanimity, the other fear and confusion. The silence of peace is the quality of serenity while the silence of cowardice agitates the soul. High positions give great responsibility but demand great courage as well. When shepherds are silent while their flock is in grave danger, when leaders take the path of tentativeness in a crisis, the threatened will then witness Davids rise from the ground to battle the enemy.

It is the flock now looking for their shepherds. It is the shepherds who now are lost.

“In bayanihan, we will be our brother’s keeper and forever shut the door to hunger among ourselves.”

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why Obama will likely support Filipinos in removing evil despots

By William M. Esposo
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Avoiding meeting Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) last July and not accepting and returning her recent telephone calls do not indicate that President-elect Barack Obama isn’t a friend of the Philippines.

Far from it, it would indicate that Obama is true to his word when he said (during his acceptance speech in Grant Field, Chicago last November 4) “tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.”

President-elect Obama is wise to avoid contact and association with someone like GMA whose regime has been characterized in the world press for repression, suppression of freedom of speech and the murder of unarmed political activists — not to mention election fraud.

A greater insight can be obtained from Barack Obama’s own article which was featured in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs. Headlined RENEWING AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, Obama outlined his foreign policy views which are consistent with his acceptance speech pronouncements.

In summarizing his world view and preferred approaches to present problems, Obama wrote: “Today, we are again called to provide visionary leadership. This century’s threats are at least as dangerous as and in some ways more complex than those we have confronted in the past. They come from weapons that can kill on a mass scale and from global terrorists who respond to alienation or perceived injustice with murderous nihilism. They come from rogue states allied to terrorists and from rising powers that could challenge both America and the international foundation of liberal democracy. They come from weak states that cannot control their territory or provide for their people. And they come from a warming planet that will spur new diseases, spawn more devastating natural disasters, and catalyze deadly conflicts.”

He added: “The Bush administration responded to the unconventional attacks of 9/11 with conventional thinking of the past, largely viewing problems as state-based and principally amenable to military solutions. It was this tragically misguided view that led us into a war in Iraq that never should have been authorized and never should have been waged. In the wake of Iraq and Abu Ghraib, the world has lost trust in our purposes and our principles.”

“After thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent, many Americans may be tempted to turn inward and cede our leadership in world affairs. But this is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, and the world cannot meet them without America. We can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission. We must lead the world, by deed and by example.”
“Such leadership demands that we retrieve a fundamental insight of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy — one that is truer now than ever before: the security and well-being of each and every American depend on the security and well-being of those who live beyond our borders. The mission of the United States is to provide global leadership grounded in the understanding that the world shares a common security and a common humanity.”

“The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew. To see American power in terminal decline is to ignore America’s great promise and historic purpose in the world. If elected president, I will start renewing that promise and purpose the day I take office.”

He provided an insight on how he will handle the Iraq quagmire. He wrote: “This redeployment could be temporarily suspended if the Iraqi government meets the security, political, and economic benchmarks to which it has committed. But we must recognize that, in the end, only Iraqi leaders can bring real peace and stability to their country.”

“At the same time, we must launch a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic initiative to help broker an end to the civil war in Iraq, prevent its spread, and limit the suffering of the Iraqi people. To gain credibility in this effort, we must make clear that we seek no permanent bases in Iraq. We should leave behind only a minimal over-the-horizon military force in the region to protect American personnel and facilities, continue training Iraqi security forces, and root out al Qaeda.”

Again Obama reinforces his commitment to democratic ideals when he wrote: “There are compelling moral reasons and compelling security reasons for renewed American leadership that recognizes the inherent equality and worth of all people. As President Kennedy said in his 1961 inaugural address, “To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” I will show the world that America remains true to its founding values. We lead not only for ourselves but also for the common good.”

There is every reason for us to hope that President-elect Barack Obama will be a true friend of the democracy-loving Filipino people and may even be inclined to help us remove the evil despots in our land.
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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: and

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama Snubbed Arroyo

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Barack Obama isn’t Dubya, Gloria Arroyo’s political soulmate, but that early, shortly after Obama won the American presidency, there went Gloria, placing a congratulatory call to the first black American president, no doubt trying to establish — propaganda-wise — that no matter who sits in the White House, she would still be regarded as an Asian leader who counts in the geopolitical sphere.
Oops. Her call was ignored and she does the next propaganda thing, which was to claim that as she goes off to New York, she will be contacting Obama and seek a meeting with him.

Now the US envoy to the Philippines has already stated that Obama will not be entertaining visits from foreign leaders, as he has to work, not only on the transition process, which means putting up his Cabinet, along with planning his inaugural.

Why she has again scheduled a trip to the USA at this time, when there really is hardly a necessity for it for the Philippine side, can be accurately guessed at.
This trip was planned to ensure that she would have that opportunity to meet with whoever won the US presidency, just as she did the last time she was on a trip to the United Nations.

In that trip, she flew backwards and forwards, across the US of A, just for that chance meeting with both Obama and Republican John McCain.

In the end, she could only meet with McCain, but she had to fly somewhere else just to have that brief photo-op meeting while she cooled her heels in another state, waiting for that chance to meet with Obama and have yet another photo-op, for her and her aides to be able to claim that she is on first name basis with both Republican and Democrat presidential candidates.

She ended up with a phone-call with Obama, and the Malacañang propaganda machine churned out the hogwash of the call having taken long, and that they talked about many important issues linking the US and the Philippines, and the assurance that the US and the Philippines would remain strong allies.

That phone call with Obama and the meeting with McCain cost the Filipinos a lot of money as she was traipsing all over the US for these.

But trust her to pressure whoever in the Philippine Embassy in Washington to get her a meeting with Obama, and perhaps even squeeze out of Obama, or anyone in his camp, an invitation for his inaugural, for her to again come up with the usual propaganda play.

And guess what? She tried calling Obama again and again, her call was ignored. Oops.
Not having succeeded in personally giving Obama her congratulations, Malacañang went into high gear, saying that with a Democrat in the White House, one can already be certain of a positive response to the veterans bill which she says is for the neglected Filipino veterans, for whom she has been fighting.

But hello. The Democrats in both the House and the Senate have been in power for the last two years, and while the US Senate did come up with the measure, the US House of Representatives, dominated by the Democrats under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, didn’t give it its imprimatur. It isn’t likely to fly now, even with Obama — who is being portrayed as understanding Asians, having spent time in Indonesia as a young boy — in the White House and with the Democrats in full control of the legislature.
The reason is simple. The US government, even if headed by a president who is regarded as one who inspires and gives Americans hope in the future under his leadership, he faces gargantuan problems which, even he admits, cannot be resolved in one year or even in one term.

He faces the problem of America having two wars — Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention serious irritants and tension between Pakistan and the US, along with the Russia-Georgia-Nato conflict plus the problem of the instability in the Middle East.
And there is the serious economic and financial crisis America faces and jobs to be
generated and homes being lost, along with the Americans’ falling 401K, not to mention the huge $10 trillion US debt, plus a $1 trillion budget deficit.
And Gloria thinks Obama will have time for her at this time?

Still, if Obama is as smart and as politically savvy as his supporters claim he is, then he should know that even the Republicans, in the time of George W. Bush in the White House, had already advised him years ago not to be identified with Gloria or entertain her for a visit.

She is poison to the Filipinos. And she can be poison to Obama.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Color-blind Generation

Perry Diaz

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. evoked the name of Lincoln in his “I Have a Dream” speech. “I have a dream,” he said, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Almost half a century later on November 3, 2008, his dream came true with the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America.

Obama was catapulted to the presidency with the vote of a new generation of Americans: idealistic, young people of diverse colors — white, black, brown, yellow, red — who judged Obama not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. This is the color-blind generation that Dr. King dreamed about and they’re the vanguard of a movement that changed politics in America.

The road America took towards a color-blind society — we’re not there yet but getting closer to it — was pock-marked with violence and hatred. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln led his Republican Party to stop the expansion of slavery beyond the borders of the 11 pro-slavery southern states. Lincoln’s ascension to the presidency sparked the American Civil War in 1861 that took 620,000 lives — the bloodiest in the nation’s history. In 1862, in the midst of the civil war, Lincoln made a bold step and issued his Emancipation Proclamation with the goal of ending slavery. The victory of Lincoln’s Union Army in 1865 ended the civil war.

Although freed from slavery, the African-Americans had to fight for equality for the next 100 years. Racial segregation was the rule rather than the exception. African-Americans were systematically disenfranchised particularly in the Deep South where Jim Crow laws relegated African-Americans to second class citizens.

With the landmark legislation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ended segregation and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which outlawed discriminatory voting practices against African-Americans, African-Americans and other minorities made inroads in politics. However, gerrymandering still lived — electoral districts were arbitrarily redistributed to the advantage of the majority whites.

Forty-three years after the Voting Rights Act was enacted, a black man finally shattered the racial barriers in politics. The key to Obama’s success was his ability to register and mobilize millions of young voters… and get them out to vote on election day.

Polls showed that Obama got at least two-thirds of the young — and first-time — voters. But what became apparent during the campaign was that these young voters were ethnically diverse. They looked upon Obama as a leader whose blackness was irrelevant to their cause. To them he is the visionary that they believe would lead America in a new direction and change the way the government works.

Obama saw the strength of the Internet-savvy youths. He used state-of-the-art technology to gather and compile the email addresses of 70 million Americans that he could reach at the click of a laptop keyboard. Aaron Smith of the Pew Internet and American Life Project said, “They have millions of e-mail addresses, phone numbers and whole communities of supporters – both geographic and online – and it will be very interesting to see how they use them in government.”

Obama’s Internet-based networking website attracted millions of young voters. He used “viral networking” to spread his message by email and text messaging. And he raised a record-setting $158 million in September alone, 75% of which came online.

Obama has changed the way of reaching out to voters. Indeed, it was his consistent message of “Change” that attracted this color-blind generation of young idealistic Americans who are restless for change. Finally, America is beginning to outgrow its race-conscious ways of doing business.

A year ago, many people were saying that America was not ready to elect an African-American President. Even African-Americans were cynical of Obama’s quixotic quest for the presidency. Before the Iowa caucuses, many African-Americans opted to support Hillary Clinton whom many believed was in a better position to clinch the Democratic nomination. Many believed that Obama did not have a chance to win the Iowa Democratic caucuses. The conventional wisdom at that time was that Iowa was too lily white — and very Republican — for Obama to snatch. But snatch he did… with the support of young white voters who flocked to the caucuses that gave Obama his first primary victory. By the time South Carolina held its primary, the African-Americans had detoured from the Clinton trail and gave Obama his first southern state victory.

With his African-American base and the newly empowered color-blind generation of young voters, Obama clinched the presidency on November 4th. Now, the question is: will the color-blind generation continue to expand and flex its political muscle in electing our national leaders without regard to race? And finally, would other people of color be able to follow Obama’s footsteps to the White House?


Monday, November 17, 2008

Footnote to history

Theres The Rub
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines - I saw one of the best movies of all time last week. Except that it wasn’t a movie, it was real life.

You can forgive Oprah Winfrey her larger-than-life enthusiasms as she groped for words to capture the momentousness of the moment. As well indeed as the countless other Americans, black and white, who gathered at Chicago’s Grant Park and erupted into cheers and applause as Obama was declared the 44th president of the United States of America. Tears flowed copiously down the faces of the more elderly among them, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson who grimaced as he held back his emotion, that image alone speaking volumes about the length of the journey and the depth of the victory that had been won that day.

I myself roared my approval last Wednesday in the quiet of my neighborhood when CNN projected Obama the winner. When I saw that image of Jackson, I felt the hair on my body stand on end. Few images have moved me to the depths of my soul. That one did.
As dramatic goes, Obama’s victory ranks up there among my list of the five most dramatic events of the last 50 years. It is certainly the most dramatic event of the 21st century. Not even 9/11 comes close to it. The only other events I can think of that seem equally awe-inspiring are the landing on the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid and our very own People Power in 1986.

Except for the landing of the moon, all these events were the culmination of struggles against tyranny, the bursting of light at the end of the deepest darkness. The Berlin Wall was dramatic because it carried a very graphic image, a physical barrier that became the symbol of everything that was absurdly tyrannical or tyrannically absurd, a literal wall that divided a city, a country, a people. The end of apartheid was equally dramatic because of Nelson Mandela, one of the truly great individuals of our time, who endured the severest persecution and punishment before going on to rid the world of one of its greatest plagues. Moses could not have done better.

And Edsa, ah, but that too qualifies as a modern-day miracle and has earned its place in the annals of epochal events, notwithstanding that Mahatma Gandhi preached the virtues of a bloodless revolution long before it. But I’ll plead guilty to my inclusion of it being motivated more by sentiment than by utter reason.

Just a year ago, the idea that America would have a black president was unthinkable. That he would be a first-time senator, that he would have an exotic background, with a Kenyan for a father, Hawaii as his roots, and some years in Indonesia behind him, and that he would carry the improbable name “Barack Obama,” was even more unthinkable. The tyranny that Obama ended wasn’t just the reign of George W. Bush, however tyrannical that was and would go down the anus of history. It went further, much further. It went back to the beginning of the life of Ann Nixon Cooper, the 106-year-old woman who bestirred herself to go to the polls last week to vote.

“She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons—because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.”

One of those reasons at least Obama pushed back, if not dispelled once and for all, with his victory. He would say in his acceptance speech that that moment was not the change they were seeking but merely the chance to secure the change they were seeking. But as many spectators, or witnesses, would say later on, that wasn’t entirely true. As Obama strode down the stage, a tall, gaunt and confident figure, not unlike another politician from Illinois who went on to sign a declaration that abolished slavery, he was the embodiment of the change countless people had sought and thought they would not see in their lifetime. His voice was the clanging of chains being thrown away.

“Change has come to America,” he said. What simple words to describe the massive shifting of the tectonic plates of history! No wonder the Rev. Jesse Jackson was in the state he was. Some of my friends texted me to say tears ran down their faces when they heard those words. I texted back: “Mine too.”

It was no ordinary election that took place in the mightiest nation on earth last week. It wasn’t just whether a Republican or Democrat would reside in the White House or whether the Republicans or Democrats would rule both houses of Congress. It wasn’t even just about jobs and the economy, or whether a country had had enough of eight years of misrule or would have more of it. It went deeper, it went farther.
It went beyond John McCain’s conciliatory words about his understanding the special pride African-Americans must feel that day, something he and his running mate in any case meant to thwart with a campaign that at a desperate hour tried to resurrect a “real America”—a bigoted America, a paranoid America, an America that brooked no change from what God, a bearded white man, decreed to be so.

In fact, it wasn’t just an election that took place last week in the land of the free and brave, where only last decade cops were free to beat up a black man for over-speeding, and where only recently Republican campaign ralliers could be brave enough to shout, “Kill him! Kill him!”

It wasn’t just an election, it was a revolution.
The road Ann Nixon Cooper has taken has been long, and it remains long. Obama has miles to go before he sleeps, picking up the journey from her. But last week, he took a long stride, not unlike the gravity-defying kind Neil Armstrong took on the moon.

I saw one of the best movies of all time last Wednesday. Except that it wasn’t a movie, it was real life.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What will President Obama do about the big issues of Filipino-American relationship?

By William M. Esposo
Sunday, November 9, 2008

Momentous ascendancies to power like the rise of Barack Obama in the US and Cory Aquino in the Philippines in 1986 are created by the monumental failures of the regimes they succeeded.
The failures and excesses of the Marcos dictatorship created the conditions that promoted the rise of Cory Aquino. The arrogance, failures and unilateralism of the George W. Bush administration in the US pushed the American voters to vote for Barack Obama, the first African-American US President.

Without Ferdinand Marcos and George W. Bush, it would have been imponderable to even imagine the ascendancies of Cory Aquino and Barack Obama.

No woman, especially one without any government and political experience like Cory Aquino, was hitherto ever elected president in the Philippines. However, Marcos created extraordinary conditions that made Filipinos consider extraordinary solutions.

Two years ago, if you are a betting man, you would see better odds in Ateneo Blue Eagle Chris Tiu making it to the first five of the Boston Celtics than in Barack Obama being elected US president. However, George W. Bush also created extraordinary conditions that made Americans consider an extraordinary solution — an African-American president.

In February 3, 2003, The Philippine STAR published an article I wrote where I shared my intuition that the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia could be an omen of the fall of the American Empire. My article (“Maybe Bush will listen to the omen”) enumerated the many uncanny coincidences that seemed like a bad omen for the US.

Columbia was the original name of America and the visible trail of the Space Shuttle crashing from the sky depicted the ominous comet that is known to presage tragic major world events like a world war.

Also rather ominous is that the bulk of the Columbia debris fell in Texas (which is the home State of the US president) in a town named Palestine (which is the name of a potential Middle East flashpoint). It is not inconceivable that a world war, which could even be a nuclear war, could be triggered by events in the Middle East.

“The American president will not heed the counsel of allies. The appeal of the Pope (the late Pope John Paul II) meant nothing to him. He ignores the lessons of history. Maybe, now he will heed the warnings of what appears to be the omen.” I said in that article regarding the US invasion of Iraq.

Five years after the Iraq invasion, who will now argue that indeed the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia was a dire omen? More than anything else, the Iraq invasion destroyed American goodwill in the world. US inability to successfully conclude their Iraq engagement reinforced US weaknesses and limitations that the US defeat in Vietnam exposed.

At its height, the US spent an average of $40 billion a month in maintaining their armed force in Iraq. The Iraq War is easily the single biggest cause of the US budget deficit that grew beyond tolerable proportions from the Clinton era to the present Bush regime.

By repeating Hitler’s mistake of fighting two fronts, the US got stuck in two wars — one in Iraq and another in Afghanistan — which created the single biggest stimulus for the clamor for change that culminated in the election of Barack Obama. Obama wisely rejected the Iraq misadventure even when other Democrats approved the Iraq invasion.

Barack Obama enters the White House with the overwhelming support and well-wishes of Americans as well as other nationals who are hoping that he will rectify the mistakes of George W. Bush and restore American standing and goodwill in the world.

The arrogant George W. Bush will leave the White House with most of his people and other peoples of the world wishing that he never took residence there at all. Nothing could be more devastating for an outgoing US President than the thought that many of your own people are wishing that you never became president at all.

For us Filipinos, we should wish that President-elect Barack Obama will take stock of the abuses against democracy that are happening in our country and that he will use US influence to help us correct these abuses. Another US President from the Democratic Party — Jimmy Carter — was just about the only US president who took action against the Marcos dictatorship.

In his acceptance speech, President-elect Barack Obama said: “And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world — our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down — we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security — we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright — tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.”??
It is on those American ideals that President-elect Obama mentioned that we Filipinos should pin our hopes that the US that promoted the Marcos dictatorship will revert back to the US that is a champion of freedom and democracy.

Past US administrations have adopted the detested ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ character of US foreign policy that is willing to support a son-of-a-bitch if he happens to be their son-of-a-bitch. That is the Mr. Hyde character of US foreign policy that supported many dictatorships and tyrants so long as they serve US geopolitical interests.

If he will be true to his ideals, Barack Obama will be betraying his defined mission if he will be indifferent to the virtual dictatorship governing this country.

Americans like to think that they taught Filipinos democracy. Well, democracy is being raped in this country. Unarmed Filipino activists are being murdered. Freedom of the press is under constant assault. A new Constitution is being proposed in order to perpetuate the virtual dictatorship. What will President Barack Obama do about these?

The US is seen as the promoter of a Moro State in Mindanao which will result in the dismemberment of the Republic. What will President Barack Obama do about this?

The Filipino-American relationship has been largely one-sided and the US has been less than fair and honest. Will President Barack Obama correct the historical mistakes and deal with the Philippines as befits a loyal ally?
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Chair Wrecker e-mail and web-site: and www.