Saturday, January 31, 2009

Isn’t that you, Pepe? An open letter to Dr. Jose Rizal

By Charlie Avila

How long ago was it when you were only 35 years old? At a much earlier age, were you not studying in various academies of Europe where the medium of instruction was Spanish, French, Latin or German – or a combination of some of these? Did you correspond in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, English, German and Dutch? Did you make translations from Arabic, Swedish, Russian, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin and Sanskrit? Did you have some knowledge of Malay, Chavacano, Cebuano, Ilocano and Subanon besides your native Tagalog? You did? Then, aren’t you Pepe Rizal – Dr. Jose Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonzo Realonda – born 19th June 1861, martyred 30th December 1896?

Weren’t you a poet, a polymath, an amateur architect, artist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, mythologist, internationalist, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmologist, physician, propagandist, sculptor, martial artist, and sociologist? You were? Then, really, aren’t you Jose Rizal?

Moments before your execution by a firing squad, didn’t the Spanish surgeon general request to take your pulse - and found it normal? Aware of this, didn’t the Spanish sergeant in charge of the backup force hush his squad to silence when they began raising “vivas” with the partisan crowd? Didn’t your last words, ‘consummatum est’, Jesus’ own, prefigure in ways that you knew but could not exactly foresee, that your death would be the end of Spain in the Philippines, and the shot that the crowd heard that moment was the shot that brought Spanish Rule in the Philippines to an end, marking as well the beginning of the end of all colonialism in Asia? Such was recognized by Mohandas K. Gandhi who regarded you as a forerunner and as a martyr in the cause of freedom. Nehru, in his prison letters to his daughter Indira, acknowledged your significant contributions in the Asian freedom movement.

Coinciding fortuitously with the age of Tagore and Sun Yat Sen, were you not from an early age enunciating in poems, tracts and plays, ideas all your own of modern nationhood as a practical possibility in Asia? In the body of written works for the period nothing compares to the outright statement in the ‘Noli’ that if European civilization had nothing better to offer, colonialism in Asia was doomed.

You stand among a few who belong to no particular epoch, who belong to the world, and whose life has a universal20message. Although your field of action lay in politics, which you bore in the cause of duty–rendering you a rarity in human affairs, a leader without ambition and a revolutionary without hatred–your real interests lay in the arts and sciences, in literature and in your profession of medicine.

An American scholar and critic recently remarked that your Noli Me Tangere, published in Berlin in 1887 (when you were twenty-six) and El Filibusterismo, out in Ghent in 1891 (you were then thirty), were almost too astonishing, not only in their technical narrative mastery, complex development of characters and linguistic richness, but because they were among the very first novels ever written by a Southeast Asian.

They offer a huge contrast, in the view of Benedict Anderson of Cornell University, with the sometimes-charming amateurishness of the work of two generations of novelists in neighboring Indonesia (before the 1950 arrival on the literary scene of Pramoedya Ananta Toer)—more than half a century after your execution by the Spanish colonial government.

More than a hundred years after your martyrdom, Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, often quoted this line from your dedication in the Noli: “In the history of human suffering is a cancer so malignant that20the least touch awakens such agonizing pains.” The dedication of the first Southeast Asian novel (according to Ibrahim) “stirred a critical awareness of the fundamental problems of colonial society. Its setting was the Spanish-ruled Philippines, but the book could have been about any nation in Asia. Rizal noted that healing must begin with honest diagnosis. ‘I will lift part of the veil that conceals the evil, sacrificing all to the truth, even my own pride, for, as your son, I also suffer from your defects and weaknesses.’”

Ibrahim continued: “In a closed society, lifting the veil would be taboo. Indeed, Rizal’s social diagnosis was tantamount to subversion. In his time, the closed society was identified with colonialism, but that was only a cloak that wrapped it for a time. A century since Rizal was executed, Asia has had five decades of modern nationhood. But the cloak of colonialism has been replaced by coverings of various fashions and thickness, including dictatorship…we must remove the veil hiding our shame. More than ever, we need courage of Rizalian proportions to be honest with ourselves”.

And still more from Anwar of the Malay race: “The Philippine revolution, the first of its kind in Asia, opened the floodgates of liberation against Western imperialism. More than physical bondage, it aimed to break the chains of mental captivity. In Rizal’s words: ‘We must win freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual, loving what is just, good and great, to the point of dying for it. When a people reach these heights . . . the idols and tyrants fall like a house of cards and freedom shines in the first dawn.’”

Ibrahim’s understanding is that your program for liberation was for all Asia. Your articulation of the idealistic foundations of an independent nation - of liberty, human dignity and morality - was unprecedented. “These ideals of the Malayan revolutionaries,” said Anwar “resonate as powerfully as ever. Though free, Asian nations still suffer from intellectual dispossession and economic domination. …The only justification for national self-government is the restoration of the dignity of the people. But this ideal will continue to elude us as long as abject poverty, rampant corruption, oligarchs and encomenderos remain. These evils will not be defeated until we liberate ourselves from mental incarceration. Then we can recover our own virtues and be, in the words of José Rizal, ‘once more free, like the bird that leaves the cage, like the flower that opens to the air.’”

An Austrian, Ferdinand Blumentritt, whose mother was the daughter of Andreas Schneider, Imperial Treasurer at Vienna during your time became a close friend of yours and warned you that your books would lead to your prosecution as the inciter of revolution and, eventually, to a military trial and execution.

Soon after your execution, the great Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, in an impassioned and unforgettable utterance, recognized you as one raised in the best traditions of his country, “…profoundly and intimately Spanish, far more Spanish than those wretched men–forgive them, Lord, for they knew not what they did–those wretches who, over his still warm body, hurled like an insult heavenward that blasphemous cry, ‘Viva Espana’.”

When, much later, the Philippine Organic Act was being debated in the U.S. Congress, doubts about the capacity of Filipinos for self-government were swept away by a passionate speech of Congressman Henry Cooper of Wisconsin in which he recited an English translation of your valedictory poem “Mi Ultimo Adios,” capped by a stirring peroration that underscored how a race that could produce a member of such talent and spirit had to be one most ready, indeed, for self-determination and self-governance.

Your life was all too brief in the space-time limits on the earth plane – so that going through the volumes written by you and about you one is struck by that quality so characteristic of you – indefatigability for the cause of your country. The debate between reform and revoluti on was, to you, a debate on means. More important to you was the goal, namely, the emergence of the Filipino nation with a glorious past that you had taken pains to point out in your annotations of Morga’s “Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.” We are still there, dear Gat Jose Rizal, in the task of building a strong nation, - to see from out of many islands of ethno linguistic and socio-cultural diversity a truly unified archipelago moving purposively from backwardness and poverty to modernity and progress.

If you were still physically around today, I am sure, you would still do what you did during your time, viz. go all over the world and touch base with all Filipinos to build them up as a people in addition to going all over the archipelago to each member of our race and reflecting back to them our dignity, the nature of the current challenges and our responsibilities. Isn’t this what you did for a very big portion of your short lifespan – from the age of 21 when you first left for Europe to the age of 35 when you bravely faced your martyrdom? What cities did you not visit and learn from and did some educating and organizing, and encouraging the formation of circulos Filipinos and eventually La Liga Filipina? We name it and immediately know that, yes – you were there: Singapore, Galle and Colombo, Naples, Marseilles, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Wilhemsfeld, Leipzig, Cologne, Frankfurt, Dresden, Berlin, Leitmeritz, Munich, Stuttgart, Basel, Geneva, Rome, Turin, Milan, Venice, Florence, Saigon, Hong Kong, Yokohama, Tokyo, San Francisco, Reno, Denver, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York, London – the world.

Would you not have added to your many avocations that of “banker for national development and prosperity”? Would you not have continued to teach the working classes here and in Diaspora around the globe the virtues of saving for investments to build up a nation that would at last not lack the wherewithal for food, health and shelter and for structural modernization, as you did even in the exile time at Dapitan? One can just imagine your proverbial indefatigability in motivating all and sundry to wage the most serious war against poverty and ignorance and social injustice.

More than in the past, the banks today have become a veritable FORCE for change – for better or for worse. This is why one dedicated bank is named after you, dear patriotic Pepe. Yes, it is. Watch it clarify its vision and mission in the spirit of your passionate dedication to the creation of a new dispensation. Watch it and help it as it goes about the urgent tasks of organizing anew the projects that can build the Filipino people.

We are so proud of the statues and monuments of stone and marble built in your honored memory from France to Mexico, from Germany to the USA, from20Spain to Southeast Asia and in the center of a couple of thousand plazas that dot the whole Philippine archipelago.
I know, however, that what you would cherish most is the living image of you in our hearts that would inspire us all to foster the movement of capital and the movement of people into an irresistible force for change in our time.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino: A Living Hero


Perry Diaz

It takes a great deal of courage and integrity for a soldier to resist a P20-million bribe. But that's what Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino did. First, he was offered a P3-million bribe to release the "Alabang Boys" from detention. He rejected it. Then the offer was increased to P20 million. He turned it down again. When he heard that a state prosecutor was offered a P50-million bribe to drop the case against the "Alabang Boys," Marcelino decided to expose the bribery attempts.
Little did Marcelino realize that what he did would catapult him to fame. He won the admiration of the Filipino people for his honesty, integrity and incorruptibility.

His honesty was tested last May 2008 when his older brother Eddie was hospitalized for a life-threatening ailment. His family needed P80,000 to pay for the operation to save his brother's life. They asked Ferdinand for help but he didn't have the money. He could easily have gotten some "dirty money" from people who would willingly give him more than he needed in exchange for "favors." But he didn't do it. He told his family that he couldn't produce the money needed to save his brother's life.

The eleventh of 13 children of a modest family from Hagonoy, Bulacan, Ferdinand graduated valedictorian in elementary school and completed high school through a scholarship. He couldn't afford to go to college so he took various odd jobs to support himself.

He found an opportunity to enter college for free by applying for a job with the college publication at the University of the East. He was hired as a reporter. He also got a second job as a police beat reporter for Headline Manila. It was at that job that a rare opportunity presented itself. When he went to interview the Commandant of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) who will be featured in the newspaper, somebody handed him an application form for entrance to PMA as a cadet. He applied and was accepted.

He graduated in the PMA Class of 1994 and was commissioned as a Marine officer. He was immediately sent to war in the jungles of Basilan to fight the Abu Sayyaf terrorists as an intelligence officer. He excelled in gathering intelligence and was credited for the capture of Commander Abu Sabaya who masterminded the celebrated kidnapping of 20 tourists at the Dos Palmas resort in 2001.

Interestingly, the PMA Class of 1994 produced rebellious — but idealistic — officers, some of whom have banded together under the name of Magdalo. It is no wonder then that his former classmates tried to recruit him into joining Magdalo. He resisted and said, "No." In July 2003, the Magdalo mutinied against the Arroyo government. They failed and were captured and detained.

When retired Gen. Dionisio Santiago, former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, took over as Director General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in 2006, he convinced Marcelino to transfer to PDEA. When asked why he recruited Marcelino, he said that Marcelino is incorruptible and can be trusted. He predicted that he'll do good at the agency.

One of Marcelino's first assignments at PDEA was to investigate the case of the missing seven kilos of "shabu" which were kept as evidence in the PDEA storage area. Marcelino teamed up with another agent, Maj. Valentino Lopez, and together they solved the case. They identified the masterminds: two police colonels and a police major!

The duo's next investigation resulted in the discovery of a clandestine "shabu" laboratory in Calumpit, Bulacan operated by Chinese drug lords. Consequently, Marcelino was appointed to head PDEA's Special Enforcement Agency (SEA). As Santiago had predicted before, Marcelino was really doing good at the agency.

On September 20, 2008, Marcelino and his SEA team arrested Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph, and Joseph Tecson in a buy-bust sting operation in Quezon City and Ayala Alabang. It turned out that the suspects were scions of rich and well-connected families, one of which was believed to be related to a powerful official in Malacanang. Hence, the suspects were called the "Alabang Boys."

The case turned into big scandal that threatened the integrity of the Department of Justice (DOJ). During a congressional hearing, it was revealed that on December 23, 2008, Felisberto Verano Jr., lawyer of one of the "Alabang Boys" drafted a release order for the "Alabang Boys" using official DOJ stationery and, surprisingly, it easily got through to Secretary Raul Gonzalez for his signature. Although Gonzalez balked at signing the release order, questions were raised as to what made it possible for Verano to get the release order to Gonzalez without being scrutinized and authenticated by his underlings.

In an act of damage control, President Arroyo ordered the indefinite leave of absence of Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor, Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, and State Prosecutors Philip Kimpo, Misael Ladaga, and John Resado. It was Resado who dismissed the case and whom PDEA has alleged to have received the P50-million bribe. According to Santiago, PDEA had a "strong, tight case" against the "Alabang Boys" yet the case was junked for "lack of probable cause." Huh! The "Alabang Boys" were caught in a buy-bust operation! Isn't that enough to establish probable cause?

It is interesting to note that in May 2008, President Arroyo pardoned 18 Magdalo rebels and were subsequently appointed PDEA agents. Santiago assigned the pardoned rebels to Marcelino's SEA.

It must have been fate that brought Marcelino and the Magdalo rebels together at PDEA. Indeed, out of a staff of 900 at PDEA, these few good men could turn the agency around and make it a strong force in the war on drug trafficking.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, a retired general, said that he would recommend Marcelino for the Distinguished Service Star, the highest non-combat award to a soldier. However, Marcelino's bright and shining star has already earned its place in the sky. He is a living hero.

Perry Diaz

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Journey Back

Jose Ma. Montelibano

Jose Rizal wrote:

“…They gradually lost their ancient traditions, their recollections, –they forgot their writings, their songs, their poetry, their laws in order to learn by heart other doctrines, which they did not understand, other ethics, other tastes, different from those inspired in their race by their climate and their way of thinking. Then there was a falling off, they were lowered in their own eyes, they became ashamed, of what was distinctly their own, in order to admire and praise what was foreign and incomprehensible., their spirit was broken and they acquiesced.”

How, then, can Filipinos reclaim their spirit, reconnect to the soul of our traditions, recover our ancient writings, our songs, our poetry and our laws? How can our hearts intuit our doctrines, reinstall our ethics and our ways? How can we find the rhythm of our climate, our language, our way of thinking and understanding? How can we rediscover our identity, our culture, and our pride in them? Is it possible, or is what is native and unique in us gone forever?

Some will question why we need to reclaim what could be obsolete, or simply what cannot be reclaimed. There are those who say, “Move on, forget the past or you will get stuck there.” And others cannot simply see the relevance of what Rizal said in today’s moment.

I am not a historian, nor am I am behavioral scientist, having taken no formal courses and training in either field. But I am curious human being, and I would like to think of myself as one whose curiosity has its own sense of discriminating between the substantial and the peripheral. I remember when I was first asked to write in this electronic publication in early 2001 and was given the option how many times a week I would like to do so. I chose once a week because I could not see myself consistently writing anything of import more than once a week.

My lack of formal training is made up by a life of experimentation after the curiosity, and I have dabbled not only in causes that may have seemed flaky in the beginning to the conventional mind (like the green movement and alternative medicine) but also delved deeply into the understanding of the great faiths of the world. All these were part of an intuitive need to discover, or re-discover. Somehow, the happiness of a blessed childhood, the success of an intense corporate career, and the general comfort of life only made me curious later at why there was so much misery in the lives of so many Filipinos.

It was not easy for me to accept the usual accusations hurled against those who have more by radicals espousing the cause of those who have little, or none at all. While it is true that my parents were born rich from even richer grandparents, there is no evidence despite a rather extensive and complete knowledge of family tree dating to almost three hundred years that any of my ancestors were beneficiaries of a colonial past. My grandparents were rich because my grandfather was an astute businessman who was more Chinese than the suspected European lineage of our family name. His siblings and relatives were not anywhere as rich although they were not poor either. The Spanish authorities exiled him to the Marianas Islands after he was caught financing the rebellion and evolution in the late 19th century, convincing me all the more than he made his money his way and not from the loot of colonial masters.

When all lands were confiscated by the throne of Spain, Filipinos experienced a shocking transition from being farmers and producers to being tillers and laborers. It was a grotesque degeneration that forced a highly civilized, productive and creative people to adapt to superior force, to the greed and exploitation of foreign masters. Resourcefulness turned away from creative options to perverse ways to cling to life. A prayerful, celebratory people took a bizarre descent towards what had been transcended long before.

Our ancestors were symbolized by the engineering agricultural wonder known as the rice terraces, the beautiful colors and weaves of native cloth and costumes, the intricacy of designs in extremely minute gold jewelry and the science of preserving human bodies for centuries in an environment constantly attacked by unusually high moisture or humidity fearfully. In less than three hundred years, now known as Filipinos, our resourcefulness turned to guile, our generosity turned to commercial hospitality, our bayanihan shrank and built familial walls, and our nobility dirtied itself for survival and gain.

What is done is done, and what is past cannot be restored. But what we lost can be recovered because what we lost was a proud spirit, what we lost was a noble soul. A spirit that aspires and strives for the lofty, a soul that cares deeply for the other and is ready to die for love and honor, these can be recovered, these can be made to shine again as what is ugly and lowly can be decomposed and buried forever.

Finance and technology have proven to be quite inutile against corruption. Our poverty and misery is not a matter of ignorance, it is a matter of greed and exploitation by a few over the very many, by force of superior power and now by force of superior rank. The crime of the Filipino people is the submission, the subservience and the resignation against leadership that is aptly described in the Tagalog phrase as “bantay, salakay”, or the protector taking advantage of those in need of protection.

It is not proficiency of English, it is not Information Technology, it is not foreign investments that can raise the quality of life of the Filipino; it is the return of a noble culture, a refined value system which once put on the pedestal honor as king, generosity as queen, creativity, integrity, honesty as heirs to the throne. It is not the poor that has debased society but those who made them poor, those with power, with wealth, with knowledge, with technology, but without the heart for others, without the godliness of leadership, without the nobility of the soul.

The journey back is the journey out of our dark and foul pit, the journey back is the journey to the light, the journey back is to remember what we lost, our writings, our songs and poetry, our laws and our ethics, the journey back makes possible the journey forward.

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama to keep Pinay Chef in the White House

January 8, 2009, 5:04 pm
No Change Brewing in the White House Kitchen
By Rachel L. Swarns

Some prominent foodies have been clamoring for change in the White House
kitchen. But President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have decided
that Cristeta Comerford, the executive chef at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, will
stay put, a transition official said on Thursday.

Ms. Comerford, the first woman to hold the executive chef post, has been in the
job since 2005. And some gourmands have argued that that is long enough. Ruth
Reichl, the editor of Gourmet magazine, sent a letter to Mr. Obama, along with
restaurateurs Alice Waters and Danny Meyer, offering to help him select someone
new for the job. Ms. Reichl said the White House could use a chef who cooks
local and organic foods and picks some of it from the presidential garden.
But a transition official said that First Lady Laura Bush spoke very highly of
Ms. Comerford and that the Obamas, who have two young daughters, also liked the
fact that Ms. Comerford is a mother herself. Mrs. Bush’s office has praised Ms.
Comerford in the past for creating “original dishes with American flavor.”
“They had heard a great deal about her from Mrs. Bush,’’ said the transition
official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The Bushs just loved her.
There’s no need for making a change.’’

Ms. Comerford is a naturalized citizen who came to the United States from the
Philippines when she was 23. She has a bachelor’s degree in food technology from
the University of the Philippines and has studied classic French cooking and
worked in Austria. She also worked as chef at two Washington hotels. She joined
the White House as an assistant chef in 1995.

Her predecessor, Walter Scheib III, who was hired by Hillary Clinton when she
was first lady, was fired by Mrs. Bush in 2005. He said at the time that he had
been unable “to satisfy the first lady’s stylistic requirements.’’

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Even Congressmen are shocked by the DoJ stink

By William M. Esposo
Philstar: January 08, 2009

Considering what our Congressmen are capable of messing up on their own, you can just imagine how stinky this alleged Department of Justice (DoJ) bribery scandal had to be in order to shock our Congressmen.

Rep. Tony Cuenco could not believe the bad grammar of Prosecutor John Resado when Resado penned the release resolution in the “Alabang Boys” (namely Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson) drug case. Rep. Roy Golez could not believe how Prosecutor Resado practically bought hook, line and sinker the defense assertions in the case and even placed the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) agents on the firing line, vulnerable to counter charges.
During the Tuesday House Hearing, not a single Congressman appeared to believe the explanations of the DoJ representatives, especially Prosecutor John Resado. Some Congressmen have openly expressed their support for PDEA case officer Major Ferdinand Marcelino.

You can feel the shock waves when it was revealed that the defense counsel, Atty. Felisberto Verano, wrote the release resolution that was forwarded to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez. Rep. Golez called it highly irregular, if not unethical. Then it was disclosed that another player in the DoJ drama, Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor (through whom the release resolution was coursed), was a fraternity brother of Atty. Verano. To top it all, Prosecutor John Resado admitted that Atty. Verano was one of his law professors.

Sure, none of these associations are incriminating per se. But who can deny that in the Court of Public Opinion, these are more than enough reasons for our people to further lose faith in the justice system. With a cynical society like the one we have, who can deny that these associations fuel the belief of many that big money changed hands in the DoJ?

Tagged by Maj. Marcelino for having personally called to follow up the release of the “Alabang Boys” — Blancaflor was earlier accused of having exerted undue pressure on Maj. Marcelino. By inference, Blancaflor becomes a suspect in the alleged bribery in the DoJ for the release of Brodett, Joseph and Tecson. Under our semi-feudal cultural realities, the call from a DoJ Undersecretary to a case officer can be considered as undue pressure being exerted.
Blancaflor’s attempt to parry the suspicion was demolished when his boss, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, spoke out on the issue last Monday. Sec. Gonzalez said that the call to Maj. Marcelino was an expression of “unusual” interest in the case on the part of Blancaflor. Gonzalez said that drug cases were not in the sphere of Blancaflor’s responsibilities in the DoJ.
Gonzalez even disclosed to media that it was Blancaflor who sent him the draft order for the release of the Brodett, Joseph and Tecson — something Blancaflor admitted doing and Atty. Verano admitted writing.

Regarding the draft order, Gonzalez said: “It is not illegal per se when you speak of illegality but it is irregular. In other words, you prepared a resolution for me to sign and I have not ordered you to prepare it. Maybe if I ordered that such an order be prepared, I could not complain.”

Gonzalez added: “This was beyond the ambit of his (Blancaflor) work. It’s not his job to make the order and have it signed by me.”

More revealing on the role that Blancaflor may be playing in this alleged bribery scandal is his earlier claim that the prosecutor’s recommendation to dismiss the drug case and release the three suspects is final and legally binding. However, Blancaflor’s claim was refuted by Sec. Gonzalez who said that there is no resolution yet to dismiss the case against the so-called “Alabang Boys.”

Gonzalez was quoted: “I have a standing memorandum circular enjoining prosecutors from releasing resolution for dismissal of cases involving drugs and smuggling. They should get my imprimatur first before releasing it.” Gonzalez emphasized that the leaked resolution to release the three suspects is not valid because he never signed it.

This bribery scandal must not be taken by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime as a simple case of inter-agency intramurals or as another simple bribery case. It is definitely more complex than that. It is potentially very explosive, politically speaking.

The PDEA Chief, Gen. Dionisio Santiago, and Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino, are both seen by media and the general public as public servants who are earnestly trying to do their jobs of eradicating the drug menace. Not only that — the men in uniform recognize Gen. Santiago and Maj. Marcelino as genuine crusaders fighting for the public good.

Already, reactions coming from the Marines have been felt. Maj. Marcelino comes from the Marines, seconded to PDEA. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino had to caution the Marines to remain focused on their main mission.

The conflict in Mindanao is overextending the capabilities of the AFP and the PNP — causing a tremendous stress. CPP-NPA activities have escalated simultaneously with the Mindanao conflict that’s associated with the failed MoA-BJE agreement. Let’s not forget that the Oakwood Incident of 2003 happened as an offshoot of the Mindanao War.

Today, the GMA regime is facing worse challenges than the socio-economic ferment of 2003. The economy is going to encounter the full brunt of the Global Financial Meltdown while GMA is suffering from her worst net satisfaction ratings.

The GMA regime should avoid any unnecessary potential flashpoints that could trigger a political upheaval.

* * *
Chair Wrecker website:

Monday, January 26, 2009

GMA: Step down now!

By Frank Wenceslao

Nobody believes Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her allies in the House of Representatives are pushing Charter-change purely on economic grounds and wouldn’t try extending her term.

Thus, I echo President Reagan’s “Break down the Berlin Wall” speech and ask, “Mrs. Arroyo, step down now. Sobra na, tama na.”

This entreaty for GMA to step down is based on incontrovertible logic that if she doesn’t really want to extend her term beyond 2010, it doesn’t make sense to stay in office up to June 30, 2010. It stands to reason that after her administration squandered eight years without improving the quality of life of our people, she can’t achieve economic growth and jobs creation to cope with the impending global economic crisis in one and a half years.

Her presidency’s illegitimacy hasn’t been resolved. Pervasive graft and corruption with virtually God-less leadership has characterized her administration to make it impossible she’d regain popular support and public confidence to govern successfully and spur national recovery. Our people need change they can believe in.

Pamusa’s organizers, supporters and sympathizers (the latter requesting anonymity) across America, Canada and other parts of the world believe that GMA insisting to stay on up to 2010 is pure selfishness and greed. She’s lost any moral ascendancy to govern and our people are fed up with her.

Graft and corruption grew by leaps and bounds during the Arroyo administration which has debilitated the country’s moral and cultural foundation. It’s the main cause of election irregularities and frauds, bureaucratic inefficiencies and malfeasance, poor public services of unqualified government executives and personnel, corrupt justice system and bureaucracy, and loss of government revenue.

All of which is the root cause of acute poverty and its debilitating effects of poor educational, social services and human resource development, stunted economic growth, high unemployment accompanied by high crime rates and so on.

How could GMA justify term extension when since becoming President to the present the country’s biggest dollar income come from overseas Filipino workers and their suffering families? Filipino Americans are almost in tears on learning OFW relatives have lost foreign employment because of retrenchment caused by economic downturn.

GMA faces worse and easier to prove corruption charges the Senate should investigate. It’s the losses of GSIS, Pagcor, DBP and other government owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) in Wall Street due to the U.S. financial meltdowns.

The evidence is available with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York Stock Exchange. These offices have complete records of the GOCCs’ transactions since 2001 including their signatories, brokers or investment counselors, trading profits & losses, and acquisition & present market values of investments all of which can be corroborated by investment banks and brokerage houses that have availed of federal bailout from accounting records of clients’ and their losses.

The records are Pamusa’s prima facie evidence to sue GMA, FG Mike Arroyo, GSIS president Winston Garcia, Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino, Jocjoc Bolante and several others to be named later in the complaint for wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering (RICO) and probably grand theft. Pamusa is on the record of FBI and USDOJ for the recovery not only of misappropriated government funds but also the ill-gotten wealth of the Arroyos et al. from the proceeds of corruption pursuant to the U.N. Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and applicable U.S. laws.

Pamusa’s initial criminal filing will be their using government funds to trade stocks and skim off profits during the bull market. When stock prices went south the GOCCs suffered tremendous losses but the Arroyos and co-conspirators kept the profits that could have lessened the losses. The records in the SEC and NYSE would be subpoenaed during the legal discovery process to tighten our case.

GMA stepping down is for her and family’s good, or else they would suffer the fates of leaders who abused their offices such as Peru’s former President Alberto Fujimori with his intel chief Vladimiro Montesinos. Fujimori is still on trial while Montesinos is serving a 20-year jail sentence. Former Chile’s strongman Augusto Pinochet whose widow, children and close associates are charged of corruption based on millions of dollars of U.S. bank deposits dug up by FBI and USDOJ and other evidence transferred to a local court at the request of the Chilean Government.

Pamusa has ascertained that GMA and FG Arroyo have become recipients of the dividends from Marcos’ stocks in San Miguel Corporation held by Danding Cojuangco, Lucio Tan’s Group of Companies and other big Chinese-Filipino corporations helped by Marcos in exchange for 60% equity. The Arroyos’ quid pro quo is protection from PCGG’s stringent recovery of Marcos’ stocks and dividends in those corporations.

In other words, Mr. and Mrs. Arroyo have replaced Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos as silent partners in the different corporations of Danding Cojuangco, Lucio Tan, Henry Sy, John Gokongwei and many more.

The latest partnership is Sea Refinery’s acquisition of Petron Corporation to raise Sea’s equity to over 90% of which 51% would eventually be sold to San Miguel Corporation. Pamusa’s evidence suggests former Marcos trade minister Roberto Ongpin’s participation in the deal involved Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth entrusted to Ashmore that Ongpin has shielded from PCGG’s recovery. Ongpin has likewise partnered with FG Arroyo, Genuino, Tom Alcantara, etc. in Pagcor’s online gaming.

When push comes to shove, the partners would save themselves in a plea bargain by minimizing their guilt while maximizing the Arroyos’ culpability based on documentary and testimonial evidence they keep. The partners such as Danding Cojuangco, Lucio Tan, Henry Sy, Enrique Razon Jr., Donald Dee, Dante Ang, Rolando “Bong” Pineda, Ongpin, Alcantara, etc. would wash their hands of GMA and FG Arroyo when they’re sued in the U.S. and opt for settlement to avoid imprisonment for said crimes under UNCAC.

Rather than go to prison their respective corporations that GMA has helped to grow beyond their wildest expectations would pay millions of dollars in fines like Siemens that paid nearly a billion euros ($1.4 billion) to the U.S. and German Governments to settle corruption charges for bribing foreign government officials to obtain and renew contracts. The fines reportedly would be divided among the countries hurt by Siemens’ corrupt practices.

Surely, such illicit partnerships have hurt the Philippines in so many ways. Hence, the country should be compensated with the fines U.S. prosecutors would impose in case of negotiated settlement. The irony is even if GMA’s term and immunity were extended, how long would she remain free and can she live with the thought her husband and children are in U.S. prison while she’s President of the Philippines?


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Letter from Hong Kong

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Jan. 05, 2009

The last time we were in Hong Kong was during the New Year holidays in 2006-07. Celebrations then were muted because of the tsunami that had devastated Aceh in Indonesia and other places in the region on Dec. 26, killing a quarter of a million people.

In 2008-09, celebrations in Hong Kong were also muted because of the financial and economic meltdown that has gutted many economies around the globe, throwing millions of people on the slippery slope towards unfamiliar poverty or near-poverty levels.

But one can never guess it from the long lines of brand-conscious customers lining up on the sidewalks to get inside the Louis Vuitton or the Chanel shops near our hotel on Canton Road.

Not being brand-conscious, at least not for clothes or shoes or other baubles, I cannot comprehend such loyalties. In 1982, I bought a fake Christian Dior belt for HK$27 from a pushcart vendor off Nathan Road. I am still wearing that very same belt 26 years later and have found no earthly reason to replace it since it still holds my pants up, albeit several notches wider, to enclose a scandalously expanded waistline.

In fact, on the many occasions that I have been to Hong Kong, I have never spent more than US$200 per visit – an infinitesimally small contribution to HK’s economy - aside from airfare and hotel accommodations, which have always been pre-paid in Manila, and, of course, food, which is the principal attraction of Hong Kong to me.

I do not buy clothes or shoes or watches in HK, and I do not buy jewelry, anywhere. But I do enjoy good food and for that I am willing to spend moderately. One way I save money for an evening repast is to buy sliced bread, cold cuts, cheese, orange juice and fruits from a supermarket and consume these over the next few days as late lunches in my hotel room, thus saving money and appetite for some fine dining in the evening. This year’s discovery was Zen in Pacific Plaza.

Whenever I am in Hong Kong, my favorite, and really only, shopping haunts are the Swindon bookstore on Lock Road, and the HMV shops on Hankow Road and in Hong Kong island, for classical music on CDs and cinema jewels on DVDs. This year, as in 2006-07, we tried out the night market on Temple Street for some “globalized” DVDs, but I must say that my favorite Muslim vendor in Makati Cinema Square is much better stocked than his Hong Kong counterparts.

Aside from being a Mahler devotee, I am also a Rachmaninoff fan. I have recordings of almost all the 100 or so works composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff, including six different recordings by various pianists of his Piano Concerto no. 3 in d minor, said to be one of the most difficult piano concerti in the repertoire.

In my opinion, the must-have recording of what has become known as Rach 3 is the one (on RCA Red Seal label) by Vladimir Horowitz, with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, recorded live at Carnegie Hall on January 8, 1978. I bought an extra copy of this memorable CD for a disbelieving friend, which, I assured her, would blow her socks and her panties off. (Rach 3 was the musical centerpiece of the 1996 Australian film Shine by Scott Hicks.)

More an historical curiosity than a musical gem is a CD (on the Telarc label) of Rachmaninoff himself playing 19 of his piano compositions, including, curiously, his piano arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner, recorded on a piano-roll mechanism in the 1920s and enhanced through digital technology for 21st century listeners and collectors. A rare memorabilia of the composer himself, but give me Horowitz anytime.

Highly recommended is the CD titled Unknown Rachmaninoff (on the RCA Red Seal label) featuring the Russian pianist Denis Matsuev. Most of the numbers that he plays are not unknown to me, but Matsuev has been a revelation as a Rachmaninoff interpreter, in my book the worthy successor to the immortal Horowitz..

This year I added to my short list of shopping haunts in Hong Kong stores catering to two of my earlier hobbies: model railroading and military model kits, largely because my daughter Carla resurrected from 20-25 years of storage and obscurity my earlier passions for miniature scale models of trains, military aircraft, tanks and naval warships..

In the mid-1970s I bought from a departing American missionary his set of HO or 1:87 scale trains by the German manufacturer Märklin. I bought the train set to amuse my then pre-teen children, but it was I who became addicted to it, expanding the layout ever bigger with purchases from the Märklin distributor in Hong Kong, and augmented by dear Chitang Nakpil’s gifting of her own children’s outgrown and discarded sets.

When my late wife Marica and I built our house in Merville in 1976, the biggest room was my train room, where trains ran through urban and rural landscapes, including a city with skyscrapers around which tiny cars (including a Polizei Volkswagen with flashing blue light), buses and trucks (made by another German manufacturer, Faller) also ran, automatically stopping at railroad crossings whenever a train was going to pass. (And underneath the train layout was an expanding collection of scale models of warplanes, tanks, artillery, naval warships, etc.)

Those who have never put together such an elaborate set may never have experienced the joy of creation. And, contrary to popular misconception, this is not a toy for children. It is a hobby seriously pursued by millions of adults in First World countries who can afford the considerable costs. Locomotives which I purchased for US $100-$125 in the 70s and 80s, and which have long gone out of production, are now selling on eBay for US $400 or more.

When I visited the Märklin outlet in Hong Kong (MTR stop Mong Kok) last week and bought a copy of the 480-page Märklin catalogue for 2008-09, I was flabbergasted to learn that many of the new model locomotives are now equipped with digital decoders that can receive signals from the control box to blow their horns, simulate the sounds of train doors closing and brakes squealing, and turn on interior LED lighting in the passenger coaches. Having been bitten by the bug once, how can I resist it the second time around, especially when I have convinced myself that it as a way of amusing and entertaining my grandchildren?

I also found a retailer on Hong Kong island (MTR stop Sai Wan Ho) of model kits from Russia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic that are normally not available in run-of-the-mill model shops. I promptly purchased kits of World War I aircraft such as the Pfalz E.IV monoplane and the Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 float plane, both German, and World War II aircraft such as the Russian Lavochkin LaGG 3 fighter plane, the Czech Letov Š.16 biplane, and the uniquely asymmetric German Blohm und Voss BV-194 reconnaissance bomber, all in 1:72 scale.

And in 1:35 scale, I picked up a model of the Swedish Strv 103B main battle tank, also known as the “S” tank, the only tank designed without a turret, making for a very low, hard-to-hit silhouette in a battle situation. But what do the pacifist Swedes know about battle situations? The last time the Swedish Army fired a shot in anger was in 1806 when it fought and defeated the Prussian allies of Napoleon in the Battle of Lübeck.

Carla has creatively converted my train room-turned storage room into a billiards room, with lighted glass cabinets along one wall displaying some 150 models that I had built, painted and detailed 20-25 years ago of warplanes from World War I and World War II and beyond; some 30 tanks and other military vehicles, mostly from WW2, in 1:35 scale; some famous warships from WW2 in 1:450 scale, and some 15 model trains from European and American railroads, in HO or 1:87 scale, which had all somehow survived 25 years of airless storage..

My more famous sister Gigi has in her collection some one thousand Nativity Scenes from all over the world, proclaiming PEACE ON EARTH, GOODWILL TO MEN.

In my much more modest collection, the message is TOTAL AND PERPETUAL WAR. *****

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Arrogance of Power


Perry Diaz

A defenseless 56-year old man and his 14-year old son were mauled by a town mayor and his brother as their father — a cabinet member and “peace negotiator” — and several armed bodyguards watched. This incident is a sign that the country has gone to the dogs. Indeed, what happened at the golf course is a microcosm of what is happening all over the country today: the arrogance of those in power.

On December 26, 2008, Delfin de la Paz, his son “Bino” and his 18-year old daughter Bambee were playing golf at the Valley Golf Country Club in Antipolo, Rizal when their lives turned upside down at the hands of Nasser Pangandaman, Jr., Mayor of Masiu, Lanao del Sur, and his brother Hussein, sons of Agrarian Reform Secretary and government peace panel member Nasser Pangandaman, Sr. What is really appalling is that the cause for the brutal attack was an argument over golf etiquette, a misunderstanding that could have been resolved amicably.

When the Pangandaman brothers ganged up on the elder Dela Paz, the young Bino pleaded to the mayor to stop beating his dad, “Sorry na po… sorry na po… tama na… tama na po…” (“Sorry sir… sorry sir… please stop… please stop…”). Instead the mayor punched Bino on the face. Pretty soon the bodyguards joined in mauling the Dela Pazes. Bambee tried to stop the beating of her father and brother but to no avail. When someone finally stopped the brawl, the mayor told his caddy, “Hindi nila kami kilala! Sabihin mo nga sa kanila kung sino ako!” (“They don’t know who we are! Tell them who I am!”).

The following day, Secretary Pangandaman, Sr. drove to Baguio to play golf with President Arroyo’s son, Congressman Mikey Arroyo. Such are the lives of those who are in high positions of authority: one day, they attack the powerless; the next day, they hobnob with the powerful.

Indeed, the Philippines today is in a situation where powerful family dynasties have arrogantly imposed their will on the powerless people. Their grip on power is so tight that it doesn’t matter what the people say, it’s what they want for themselves that matters most.

The “checks and balances” that the constitution has provided to protect the state and the people have been conveniently removed in a series of Machiavellian moves that eventually placed the House of Representatives at the beck and call of the President and transformed the Senate into a chamber of “gladiators” fighting among themselves to the amusement of the ruling elite.

And how about the Supreme Court? Until recently it was the guardian of the constitution and the protector of the rights of the citizens. A razor-thin majority has maintained a high degree of judicial independence as demonstrated when they rejected the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain for Bansangmoro which Malacanang had secretly negotiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But with seven justices retiring this year, will their replacements be beholden to their sacred oath to safeguard the constitution or will they remain loyal and indebted to the President for appointing them to the High Court? It is evident that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is hell bent in pursuing Charter change (Cha-cha) to amend the constitution before her term ends in June 2010. She has said so and House Speaker Prospero Nograles has said so too. Word has been going around that Cha-cha’s “navigator” in the House is no less than Gloria’s son, Congressman Mikey Arroyo. However, Mikey has been saying that his only interest in Cha-cha is to allow foreigners to own land and have full control of their businesses in the Philippines. But what would prevent anyone from introducing an amendment that would change the form of government to a parliamentary system?

In the past several months, just about all sectors in Philippine society — including the Catholic Church and other religious groups — have voiced out their objection to holding Cha-cha prior to the 2010 elections. Virtually, everybody is in agreement that to proceed with Cha-cha this year would only play into the hands of Gloria who many believe wants to stay in power beyond 2010.

The arrogance of power displayed by Gloria and her political allies has made a mockery of democracy and the rule of law. The people’s sentiments as indicated in numerous polls were treated as mere nuances, thus, ignored. It would seem that they’re saying: “To hell with public opinion!”

But the people are now getting back at them: they use the power of the Internet to fight the abuses and arrogance of those in power. Little did Bambee realize that when she told the story of the beating of her father and brother on her blog site, bloggers all over the world ferociously attacked the Pangandamans.

A few days later, Secretary Pangandaman pleaded to the bloggers to stop the incessant attacks. He said that his family is hurting from the attacks. He made a public apology; however, the Dela Pazes rejected it. If Pangandaman was really sorry, he should call the Dela Pazes and apologize to them directly.

But an apology is not enough. Secretary Pangandaman violated the public’s trust by just watching his sons beat the Dela Pazes. As a cabinet member and “peace negotiator,” he is expected to act in a manner worthy of his position.

There is only one honorable option for Pangandaman; that is, resign! If he doesn’t resign, then President Arroyo should — nay, must — fire him because, at the end of the day, Pangandaman’s performance is a reflection on the President.


Friday, January 23, 2009

I am Filipino

By Alexander L. Lacson
Philippine Daily Inquirer

One of the most important things we need today as a people is a beautiful way of looking at ourselves as Filipinos, a positive and healthy image of ourselves, a wonderful definition of ourselves as a people. Our children especially need to believe that there is greatness and beauty in us as a people and as a race.

So much beauty and greatness can spring from a beautiful mind and a faithful heart.
But loving ourselves as Filipinos is not only patriotism or nationalism. There is a reason higher than that. It is primarily about stewardship. It is loving what God has given us. God gave to each one of us the Filipino and the Philippines, for us to love and care for. But how is the Filipino in our hands today? How is the Philippines, the land God gave to us as a people, in our hands today?

It is for this reason that I wrote the poem below. I give this poem as my humble gift to all of you, my fellow Filipinos. You are the brothers and sisters, the family of people, God gave to me.

It is my hope that this poem will help develop in us and in our children a healthy sense of faith and love in the Filipino, in ourselves as a people. For truly, our Creator wants us to have faith in and love for the Filipino.

Here it is:

I am Filipino. I am a child of the One God who is the Creator of all that is in our world and the universe. I am as perfect and as beautiful as my Creator planned me to be, for God created me in His image, out of His perfect love.

I am a beloved child of God, like everyone else in our world, no less than the stars above or anyone else below. As such, I have equal right and claim to all the beauty and bounty that God provided in my country and in the world.

I am an equal part of the family of humanity. I am therefore a sibling to all the men and women of our world, brethren to all Christians, to all Muslims, to all Jews, to all Buddhists, and all other peoples whose faiths lie somewhere else.

I am Filipino. My Creator planted me on a specific spot on earth, where the sun always shines, in an archipelago of 7,107 wonderful islands, which the whole world calls the “Pearl of the Orient.” Pilipinas is the country God gave to me and my people. It is the birthplace of my race. It is the home of the Filipino.

The beauty and richness of my country lured many mighty powers of the world to invade our shores. So today, my blood is a mixture of the best and the finest of the West and the East. My mind is an heir to all the great thoughts of the West, and the great virtues of the East. My heart beats with the romanticism of the West and the passion of the East.

I am Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Juan Luna, Ninoy Aquino and all those who fought for our land to become a nation of free people. I am the grandeur of Banaue, the enchantment of Boracay, the serenity of Manila Bay, and the depth and breadth of Tubbataha Reef.

I am Filipino. My Creator’s plan is for me to live my life as a Filipino and therefore, in my heart and in my mind, I shall always be a Filipino wherever I may be in the world. God wants me to belong to the Filipino family and as such, I am a “kapatid” [brother] to anyone and everyone who is Filipino, wherever he or she may be on earth.

You will know me by the word “po” in my sentences. You will know my children by their “mano po.” You will know me by the smile on my face and the warmth of my hospitality. Most important of all, you will know me by my loving and caring heart when you are in need of help, even if you are a stranger.

As a child of God, my Creator has a beautiful story for me and my people. And the story we see today is but a fleeting portion of that beautiful story that has yet to fully unfold before the eyes of the world.

I am Filipino. I am who I am today because of the role God wants me to play.
I am born to succeed. God has equipped me, within me and around me, with all the essentials I need to succeed in this world. God truly wants the highest, the best, and the most beautiful for me, because I am His child.

I am destined to be great. God planted seeds of beauty and greatness in me. He truly wants me to be great and beautiful, for God truly wants me to add more beauty and greatest to our world.

I am Filipino. I am born of freedom, in a free country. As such, I dedicate my freedom to ensuring that my people and country shall always remain free. I shall use my freedom to help other peoples, in my country or in other parts of the world, gain their own freedom.
I am born of love, out of God’s immeasurable love, in a country and in a world that can only be made beautiful by love. Love is the reason why God made me. It is what He wants me to bring into this world, so love shall be who I am.

I am born as part of the whole, as part of the answer to the question, as part of the solution to the problem, as part of the hope to our people. I am born to help the Filipino become great not only in the eyes of the world but, more so, in the eyes of our Lord.
I am Filipino. I am a faithful child of God. I shall live my life to do God’s work on earth, to help build a beautiful country for my Filipino family, and a better world for all humanity. And soon the world shall see the full measure of the greatness of Filipino, for truly the world has yet to see what God can do to and through a child, like the Filipino, who is faithful to the Lord.

I am Filipino.

Alexander Lacson is author of the Book “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country.” Email:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Suggested nation building New Year’s resolutions for Filipinos


By William M. Esposo
Philstar, January 01, 2009

It is high time that we Filipinos realize that we cannot hope to improve our individual lot if our country continues to deteriorate. The lives and fortunes of all Filipinos are linked to the fortunes or misfortunes of our country.

Those mansions in Forbes Park, the Dasmariñas and Ayala Ala-bang Villages can be reduced to rubble if this country experiences a violent political upheaval. The rich can not possibly employ enough security personnel to protect themselves when the French Reign of Terror that followed the French Revolution happens here.

For too long, we Filipinos have buried our heads in the sand like ostriches and lived under the delusion that the poor will forever remain docile and unable to express their collective outrage. It will be just a matter of time when the poor and underprivileged will unleash their collective frustration, resentment and despair.

Most Filipinos are Christians and yet many of them close their hearts to the Christ commandment — “Whatever you do to the least of your brethren, you do unto me.”
In the face of the projected difficulties we will face this New Year (when the full brunt of the global financial meltdown is expected to unravel), perhaps we should collectively make some New Year resolutions that will save all of us from the dreaded social explosion.

Why don’t we consider adopting these two suggested national New Year resolutions?

Resolution 1: Let us learn the historical truth

We cannot be physically healed unless we determine what our real ailment is. If you are losing your eyesight because of diabetes, it is the diabetes that must be treated and not the eye.

In like manner, we cannot solve our national problems unless we know what our real national problems are. We are easily distracted towards wasting precious time and resources in addressing the side issues while disregarding the core problems. Too often, we are stuck on belaboring the unimportant while totally neglecting to address the most important issues and problems that are sinking our ship of state.

We must also know who our real heroes are and who our real quislings are. Our masses especially are prone to idolizing false heroes. Bogus heroes are listened to and emulated here while real heroes are even ostracized. The sweet talking but mentally and morally bankrupt candidates are elected while the most competent candidates with established integrity are glossed over by a largely ignorant electorate.

It is time for Filipinos to know and understand that much of the history they are being taught have been prepared by self-seeking colonial and neo-colonial powers. That is a slanted version of history that is designed to protect the quislings and neutralize the real heroes of our race. That is a version of history that is intended to keep the exploited Filipino in the dark so the exploitation can go on forever.

We have gotten tired of calls for national unity. But how can there be real national unity when many Filipinos do not even know the historical truth?

Resolution 2: Let us embrace our role as our brother’s keeper

Let us invest in our own personal security and that of our loved ones by removing the greatest national security threat in our country — grinding poverty. Only an idiot — one who does not know the truth — will think that our society is not at risk of suffering the prescription of history for the social imbalance we suffer from.

Every Filipino with the means to assist the least of his brethren must extend that act of charity that will eventually rid our society of its biggest national security threat. It is time we tempered the madness of materialism that has engulfed capitalist societies — that destructive attitude of “Me first and that has to be mine.”

We’ve seen how unmitigated greed has led to the global financial mess the whole world is now reeling from. Why don’t we consider adopting the Chiara Lubich model for a new capitalist paradigm — the Economy of Communion (EoC)? Lubich’s EoC fine-tuned capitalism to be able to promote an economy of sharing instead of the destructive economy of having.

And the best way to be our brother’s keeper is to shepherd our brother in need to exit from the generational cycle of poverty that plagues over 40% in our society. It is not good shepherding if our brother merely becomes reliant on our charity for the rest of his life. That keeps him forever trapped in that poverty syndrome.

The beauty of Chiara Lubich’s EoC is that it transforms the person in need into another person who will help the others in need. It offers the best means for attaining social justice that will result in national unity and harmony. EoC raises economic well-being by first raising personal dignity.

In the EoC experience (which is being practiced already by over 700 companies worldwide that are chalking remarkable accomplishments), the enlightenment and values reform, more than the material aid, have proven to be the most important inputs. More than the gold that you can put in a poor man’s pocket, it is what is lacking in his head and in his attitude in life that are in urgent need of rehab.
Let’s just concentrate on these two suggested New Year’s resolutions for the Filipino nation. Are you up to it?

Chair Wrecker website:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Embrace THE Dawn

Jose Ma. Montelibano

The year of change unfolds. It begins with what the old year left it, a year of shock and uncertainty, of rice and old crises, of a meltdown of the global economy. Many say 2009 will be worse. I say it will be exciting.

Excitement connotes with an eager anticipation. It has no guarantee of success and happiness, but waves them like bait to the adventurous, the desperate, or those who fight a growing void in their spirit. 2009 will be an exciting year for different reasons to different people, but definitely exciting.

The politicians in high places, the bureaucrats in positions attracting, or demanding, perks and kickbacks, join the prayer for extended terms by whatever means. Their rivals who want their turn at the power and the goodies will oppose them at every turn. The dreamers who seek good governance are caught between a rock and a hard place. They know only an authoritarian regime can be capable of cleansing the grime of traditional politics but are afraid of it. The poor and disadvantaged survive without hope, grappling with hunger and constant fear. Yet, they have no Lenin, no Mao, no Fidel, no Ho Chi Min, only a Joma who wants to orchestrate a revolution in the safety of a foreign country.

It would seem that no real change is forthcoming. Physical and economic power is firmly in the hands of those who ought not to have it. And those who threaten them with the best odds to take over are infected with the same cancer of greed and lust for control, even if at a lower stage. The Catholic Church, the only established force which can mitigate wrongdoing seems to have many of its bishops unwilling to confront the instruments of evil.

Why, then, would I believe that 2009 will be an exciting year? Without any tangible manifestation of real change, there can be excitement, only resignation. What is it that I see with enough power to turn a pitiful historical tide and change the course of history for Filipinos?

I wish I can say it is God’s hand. I cannot because God’s hand has been present in all the time that moral degeneration has corrupted the soul of governance in all institutions of importance to Filipino society. Obviously, God allows evil to dominate even a God-fearing society for a greater purpose, or to honor His gift of free will to man.

It is, then, the Filipino who must rise above ignorance, cowardice or the fantasy of reform by sheer prayer. It is the Filipino who suffers, who is abused and robbed by their leaders, who is deceived by the hypocrisy of pastoral shepherds. It is the Filipino who can and must demand freedom and sacrifice to build the promised land. The Filipino must cross the land of submission to action, or from talk to walk.

I have seen that Filipino. I have left the emerging resolve to discard a submissive pattern and take on responsibility. I have experienced the nobility of the bayanihan spirit where the other is given first consideration ahead of personal interest. I have witnessed the young reject the corruption of power and wealth, rediscover our idealism and begin their march to a better world. I have seen a black man arise from a past where slavery oppressed his people and now find favor even among old masters and stand elected as the leader of the free world.

I have seen the birth of Gawad Kalinga from the seeds of a vision of sacrifice and nobility, from the spirit of a Filipino who accepts being his brother’s keeper, from best among the rich and powerful who are opening their hearts, homes and resources to the poor, from the determination of Filipinos abroad who are moving to help the motherland. I see the schools and their students immerse in good works and not afraid of doing more. I see enough hope and courage to counter the darkness of poverty and corruption.

Everywhere, groups of concerned Filipinos organize for good governance, including the Kaya Natin movement which offers symbols of integrity and honesty among mayors and governors. There is only one spirit that has defined hundreds, if not thousands, of registered NGOs – and that is change. When the spirit of a people has been awakened to glimpse and strive for what can be more than stay resigned to what is, can that genie ever be returned and trapped in the bottle again?

In the United States, Filipino-Americans are fidgety. Many realize with deep embarrassment how they have chosen to fight among one another rather than unite to be an American voice, an economic force, and the beacon of hope for those they left behind in the motherland. 2009 will find sincere efforts to merge in vision and mission if they cannot do so organizationally. They are reaching out to Obama and Hillary through so many Filipinos with connections to both, and their concerns will not be contained to the Fil-Vets issue but will reach out to the home land as well.

Beyond Philippine shores and beyond North America, millions of Filipinos work to save their families, sacrifice to build a platform for the future of their loved ones, and now realizing that a political perspective is necessary to cause the kind of change they want. The dollars are good, but not without their families by their sides. Money cannot continue to be the price for separation and anguish. The OFWs now know that, and they, too, will push for change.

Tradition is tradition. Its power cannot be underestimated. Precisely because tradition resists change, and precisely because tradition is powerful, Filipinos have been subjected to purgatory on earth with seemingly little rebellion. That is the power of tradition, that even what is wrong can look better than what is new.

But tradition has never been able to stop evolution and the emergence of a new spirit, a new life. It is only a matter of reaching a point in time, a point in suffering, a point in hope, before tradition gives way to change. I know we have reached the crucial point. How can I not be excited by 2009? How can I not embrace the dawn?
“In bayanihan, we will be our brother’s keeper and forever shut the door to hunger among ourselves.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An age-old war for dominance and supremacy

By Wilhelmina Orozco

A new war is on between the Israelites and the Palestinians, an age-old war for dominance and supremacy. Why can’t these two people shake hands and be friends? Is it really difficult being a friend to an armed person? What makes arms drive people to kill and massacre communities? Why is there no respect for life at all?

There could be cold war, not anyone moving at all to help on anything. There could be ostracism of each other, or simply dislike without having to want to demolish and/or to act on obliterating the other from this earth. Or am I just being pollyanesque? Is it being a cock-eyed optimist to want peace, to desire simple co-existence for each other?

Yet if we will examine it, Israel purports to be the home of the chosen people. They have even been granted land to have a home to call as home. It should act primarily as a peacekeeper, not as a warmonger or war hawk. Israel is the home of the Bible, the home of course where also Jesus was nailed and had died on the cross. My goodness a lot of contradictions in life.

I wonder how these events will end. I can think of children all over the world, holding hands in the streets from one end of the country to the other in all the countries and wanting peace all over, to stop all forms of war, and their mothers, grandmothers and all grandparents (whether true or surrogate) carrying placards, with captions like “give us breathing space, save our lives – human and all living things, stop aggression, peace, peace, peace.”

But right here in our community, the spies don’t let up in harassing me. The dogs next door are barking as I am writing this, seemingly wanting to stop my writing. Why what’s wrong about writing about peace? What’s wrong about wanting to save lives? Is this already passé? Is this antiquated thinking?

The world has to stand on its feet, no longer on its head. When you stand on your head, you cannot see the world as it is, but upside down, with all your perspectives awry. But when you stand on your feet, you see it as it is, with all its imperfections and perfections that need to be aligned.

Is it asking for heaven, for utopia if we say we want peace? Sick, the world is very sick and some people really want to make it a crazy world, To all those who hold the keys to power. What mad power YOU WIELD!.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Greatest Filipino Ever

By George M. Hizon

“Rizal would lose his head for writing the Noli Me Tangere “
- A prophesy rather made comically by Rizal’s friend Padre Federico Faura, S.J.

Looking back at the year 1887, one cannot help wonder why national hero
Jose Rizal was considered Spain’s greatest enemy in the Philippines. From the history books that we have read, Rizal was depicted as a mild-mannered gentleman, he was neither brash nor ill-tempered. Although he was an expert marksman and fencer, he neither held a gun nor brandished a sword against an enemy.

Rizal was also described as remarkably educated, a genius as many had called him. He was a polyglot, one who could speak 10 or more languages. He knew 22, including the ancient languages of Sanskrit and Latin. He was also a polymath, one who is exemplary in so many skills and subjects. He was an excellent surgeon and a brilliant writer and poet. In 1887, he wrote the “Noli me Tangere”. The clever use of wit and humor would have made the” Spanish” novel a bestseller during that period. It, however, depicted the abuses and corruption of the Spanish officials, as well, that of the friars, leading to its permanent censure. In 1891, the “Noli Me Tangere” was followed by an equally classic sequel, the “El Filibusterisimo”. In the book, Rizal predicted that there would be a rebellion of “great magnitude”. Rizal would pay dearly for his work, having been thrown at Fort Santiago prison from July 6 up to July 15, 1892. He would ultimately spend the next four years of his life in exile in a faraway town of Dapitan, in the province of Zamboanga.

On August, 1896, Rizal’s prediction in the “El Filibusterismo” came true as Andres Bonifacio and his Katipuneros launched a full-scale rebellion, first attacking the Spanish polvorin at San Juan del Monte, in Manila. The accusing finger was quickly pointed by the Spaniards at Jose Rizal as the main instigator of this rebellion. Rizal denied involvement, as he was already incarcerated in the last four years at Zamboanga. To keep him away from the revolt, Governor General Ramon Blanco offered Rizal a job in faraway Cuba, where a similar rebellion was taking place ( he was to treat patients suffering from yellow fever ). Rizal accepted the offer.

While on a stopover at Barcelona, Spain en route to Cuba, Rizal’s ship was ordered back to Manila. Arrested upon arrival, Rizal was tried by a military court and found guilty of all the three charges of rebellion, sedition, and illegal association. He was to be shot on December 30, 1896 on orders of the new Governor General Camilo Polavieja. Governor General Blanco, who was symphathetic to Rizal, had been forced out of office, and the friars had intercalated Polavieja in his stead, thereby sealing Rizal’s fate.

The Spaniards (particularly the friars), thought that by executing Rizal, the rebellion would weaken (just like in the case of Frs. Gomez, Burgos and Zamora when they were executed after the Cavite Mutiny of 1872). This was a costly misjudgement, for Rizal’s death insured that the rebellion would stay on for a long time…After two years of fighting, and with the unintentional help of the Americans (Admiral Dewey brought back Aguinaldo from Hong Kong and also destroyed the Spanish Fleet at Manila Bay on May 1, 1898), the Filipino revolutionist defeated the Spanish army (capturing 15,000 of its finest soldiers and officers).

On June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine Independence, the first Asian country to do so in this colonially-dominated continent. It was quite sad that Rizal did not live long enough, to see what he really wanted… an independent country for us Filipinos. Though, I think that if he had his way, he wanted it attained through a non-violent fashion. It was shortlived though as the Americans took over in a few months.

50 years later, a man named Mahatma Gandhi, adopted and perfected Rizal’s non-violent “recipe” for independence. Gandhi’s approach called “civil disobedience” drove away the British from India in 1947. Soon, other Asian nations would follow. Earlier, the Philippines regained independence from the Americans in 1946. Indonesia got theirs from the Dutch in 1949. Vietnam fought its way against the French and won it 1954. Malaya and Singapore had theirs from the British in 1957.

Asia’s struggle against colonialism was a long and tedious one. It was started by
our own Dr. Jose Rizal, when he wrote the “Noli Me Tangere” in 1887. That is why he was once called by our Asian neighbors “The Great Malay”. But no, he never was. Jose Rizal is “The Greatest Filipino Ever”.

Final Note: One of the founders of the Observatorio Meteorologico del Ateneo Municipal de Manila, Padre Federico Faura was the first man to predict the coming of typhoons and issue signal warnings in 1879. Consequently, he also predicted the fate of
Rizal when the latter wrote the “Noli Me Tangere” in 1887. Though he was a Spaniard, Padre Faura was a very good friend of Rizal’s dating back to his schooldays at the Ateneo de Municipal.

Wikipedia, Jose Rizal
Wikipedia, The Philippine Revolution
Wikipedia, The Philippine-American War
Jose Rizal, Soledad Lacson-Locsin, Noli Me Tangere , The Bookmark Inc.:
264-A Pablo Ocampo Sr. Ave., Makati, 1996
Jose Rizal, Soledad Lacson-Locsin, El Filibusterismo , The Bookmark Inc.:
264-A Pablo Ocampo Sr. Ave., Makati, 1996
National Historical Institute, Filipinos in History Vol.2 , T.M. Kalaw st.,
Manila, Philippines. 1990. pages 155-163

The author, George M. Hizon currently writes for Ateneo’s “Blue-blood Magazine”.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"It's like…"

By Manuel Buencamino
Business Mirror
Dec. 24 ,2008

Cardinal Rosales got it right when he said leaving it to a con-ass to amend the Constitution is "like entrusting your teenage daughter in the care of a rapist."

Many honorables of the Netherhouse were offended by the Cardinal's choice of words so I've prepared a list of more acceptable alternatives:

"Allowing the House of Rapepresentathieves to constitute itself into a con-ass with carte blanche to amend the Constitution is…

… like entrusting human rights in the care of General Jovito Palparan."

… like entrusting Bantay Bata in the care of Romeo Jalosjos."

… like entrusting elections in the care of Garci and Benjamin Abalos."

… like entrusting justice in the care of DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez."

… like entrusting land reform in the care of Reps. Mikey and Ignacio Arroyo."

… like entrusting impeachment in the care of the House justice committee."

… like entrusting mental health in the care of Sen. Miriam Santiago."

… like entrusting the independence of Congress in the care of Mikey Arroyo's errand boy, 'Speaker' Prospero Nograles."

… like entrusting national security in the care of Norberto Gonzalez."

… like entrusting anti-terrorism in the care of the Abu Sayyaf."

… like entrusting the Mindanao peace talks in the care of Sec. Jesus Dureza, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, and Commander Bravo."

… like entrusting the personal safety and security of ZTE-NBN whistle blower Jun Lozada in the care of DENR Sec. Lito Atienza, Police Protection and Security Office Chief Romeo Hilomen and his deputy Paul Mascarinas, Aviation Security Group Chief Atilano Morada, airport security chief Angel Atutubo and Rodolfo Valeroso, Mike Defensor, Romulo Neri, Undersecretary Manuel Gaite and Atty. Antonio Bautista."

… like entrusting maritime safety in the care of the owners of Sulpicio Lines."

… like entrusting the procurement of the AFP in the care of Gen. Carlos Garcia and the intelligence funds of the PNP in the care of police comptroller Eugenio dela Paz."

… like entrusting the Fertilizer funds in the care of Jocjoc Bolante."

… like entrusting the GSIS in the care of Winston Garcia and the SSS in the care Romulo Neri."

… like entrusting the NEDA in the care of Jose Maria Sison."

… like entrusting the gold in Mt. Diwalwal in the care of DTI Sec. Peter Favila and Mike Defensor."

… like entrusting the national broadband network in the care of DOTC Sec. Leandro Mendoza, Asec. Lorenzo Formoso, Benjamin Abalos, Yu Yong, Fan Yang, Mike Defensor, DTI Sec. Peter Favila, and Gloria Arroyo."

… like entrusting the budget in the care of DBM Sec. Rolando Andaya and Gloria Arroyo."

… like entrusting the banking system in the care of rural banker Celso de los Angeles."

… like entrusting the Senate ethics committee in the care of Sen. Joker Arroyo."

… like entrusting the anti-corruption campaign in the care of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez."

… like entrusting the anti-jueteng campaign in the care of Chavit Singson and Atong Ang."

… like entrusting the anti-smuggling campaign in the care of someone's girlfriend."

… like entrusting anti-money laundering in the care of Rep. Ignacio 'Jose Pidal' Arroyo."

… like entrusting fire prevention in the care of an arsonist."

… like entrusting your house keys in the care of Bonnie and Clyde Arroyo."

Saturday, January 17, 2009


A Brief History of the Philippines:

This article was posted on several websites in 2002. I tried to trace its authorship. If somebody out there knew who the author was, please let me know so I can attribute this article to the author. – Perry

– Author Unknown

WHAT’S the big deal when Lapu-Lapu killed Magellan in 1521? Nothing much really. During Lapu-Lapu’s time, Mactan was strictly tribal. Think small, gid. There were no big ideas such as nationalism or geopolitics.

Lapu-Lapu was simply, the local siga-siga and Magellan was the culture-shocked Westerner, a native first-timer in the exotic east. We lionize Lapu-Lapu as a hero and and a nationalist. Ang totoo, mayabang lang si Lapu-Lapu. But his defeat of a foreign invader did not make a Filipino nation.

The timing was wrong. And don’t you believe that bull that Spanish explorers came to find spices in the East to improve the taste of their bland cuisine. Their hidden agenda was to spread their kingdom through colonization, the euphemism for land grabbing.

During the 333 years of Spanish rule (1565-1898), hundreds of rebellion were waged by native firebrands in many parts of the archipelago. Not one succeeded. Our rebels were either caught, garotted,or simply ignored by the Comandante as nuisances. Puro malas!

The execution of Rizal in 1896 was a traumatic experience for Filipinos. Those who read Rizal’s “Fili” and “Noli” were incensed by the abuses of the church and state regime of the Spaniards. Emotions ran high, from Aparri to Jolo. The critical mass needed for nationhood was formed. At last we could rebel as a people, as a nation.

The Katipunan did their battle heroics, originally led by the firebrand Bonifacio and later on by the crafty Aguinaldo. With more Katipunan charges (Sugod mga Kapatid), freedom seemed possible. Between 1897 and 1899, stealth, betrayal, and skullduggery bedeviled our prospect for independence. The Aguinaldo and Bonifacio factions engaged in an ugly infighting (the talangka mentality) resulting in the execution of Bonifacio.

Meantime, an American Admiral named Dewey (not Dewey Dee, the fast one) entered Manila Bay and defeated a lackluster Spanish navy. Aguinaldo reneged on the pact of Biak na bato. He resumed the revolution by proclaiming Philippine Independence in Kawit.

Meanwhile, American and Spanish soldiers held “moro moro” battle in Intramuros with the Spaniards surrendering. Aguinaldo’s republic and his KKK patriots were left out and ignored. Naisahan tayo.Minalas na naman.

The Filipino-American War broke out. Tall American soldiers looking like Clark Gable chased and battled the outlawed Filipino revolutionaries, ending in the capture of Aguinaldo in Isabela, thanks to the mercenaries from Macabebe. This was the mother of all kamalasan.

At that time, our population was 8 million. The gap between the rich and the poor was estimated at 30% middle-class and rich, 70% low-class and rural poor. During the Commonwealth period (1901-1941) which followed, there were lots of learning on democratic principles, its structure and governance. Technology transfers were done on Constitutional Rights, Public Education, Transportation, Health, International Trade and Industrialization. The Americans turned out to be good tutors.

Filipinos also went crazy over American brand products like Libby’s corned beef, Portola sardines, Hershey’s Kisses and Wrigley’s chewing gum, Camel cigarettes and Model T Ford for the hacenderos of Pampanga and Iloilo.

Hollywood films made Pinoy males fantasize on Jean Harlow, Betty Grable and Mae West. Thus, Filipino colonial mentality began. We fondly called this period Peace Time. By the way, American troops massacred innocent people in Balanguiga. Mga hayup din pala!

1941. Disaster! World War II ! After attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese army invaded our country defeating the combined American and Filipino forces (USAFE). General McArthur, the proud and handsome Army chief, fled to Australia at the height of the Battle. For four miserable years we suffered the sadism of the Japanese militarists rule. Torture, famine, and death! were for us, the order of the day.

Kawawa. Malas na malas!

The American forces returned in 1945 to liberate the country. McArthur, General superiority complex himself, sporting Ray Ban sunglasses and corncob pipe swaggered back to Manila. Piqued at his humiliation in 1941, McArthur ordered the bombing and shelling of Manila till kingdom come. The whole-wide expanse South of Pasig - from Post Office to Vito Cruz, including all of Intramuros - was pulverized. Manila was the most destroyed city of World War II. Our culture, our heritage, and historical assets (seven beautiful churches in Intramuros, hundreds of elegant Art Deco and neo-classical architecture in Paco and Taft) were sacrificed recklessly and completely erased from the face of the earth. Sayang na sayang!

In 1946, we gained our Independence from the Americans. We were a free nation at last. We had enough exposure and lessons on how to govern a democratic country, the first in Asia. Our population was 17 million. The dollar exchange was US$1 to P2. But there was still no peace from 1947 to 1966. A widespread communist rebellion led by Taruc, the Lava brothers, and its armed guerillas called Hukbalahap waged a bloody war with government troops. Filipinos killed kapwa Filipinos. Malas na naman!

Our politicians and bureaucrats learned to engage in graft and corruption (What are we in power for?) -such as the war surplus bribery, the Tambobong wheeling-dealing and the Namarco scam. Talo na naman!

Six presidents were elected to manage the country from 1947 to 1972, under the democratic system. They were Presidents Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal and Marcos. Economists looked back to the decades of the 50s and 60s as the best years of the Philippine economy, surpassing Asian countries. The nostalgia was naive, a useless ego-tripping. The gap between the rich and the poor remained big. 30% middle-class and rich, 70% low-class, rural and urban poor. We were 27 million people. US$1 was to P4.

During the late 60’s, the Maoist communists led by Dante intensified its drive to overthrow the government. Marcos added fuel to the fire by creating a communist spook. Violence and mayhem rule the streets. The youth went up in arms! Martial Law was declared in 1972 and Marcos became dictator. Freedom of assembly and statement went out of the window. What followed were years of dictatorial abuse, crony capitalism, shackled free enterprise, near economic collapse and a demoralized middle class. The gap between the rich (30%) and poor (70%)remained in a quagmire. Our population was 40 million. Exchange rate was US$1 to P7. Kawawang kawawa! Malas na malas!

In 1983, Ninoy Aquino, Marcos’ exiled arch rival, was assassinated upon his return. Push came to shove. Cardinal Sin egged on the people on to protest. Outrage, self-pity, shame and fury raged and rumbled like a tidal wave, culminating in the incredible People Power Revolution. The very sick and obstinate Marcos fled (hijacked by Americans from Clark) to Hawaii (sounds like Paoay) where he died. His alleged millions of stolen dollars and gold bars intact and unresolved. Up to now…

But People Power was our shining glory! The whole world applauded our saintly courage, our dignified defiance, our bloodless solution to expel a dictator. We were the toast of all freedom-loving countries, the envy of all oppressed people. In 1986, we placed Cory Aquino, Ninoy’s widow, in Malacanang. She was virtuous, sincere and full of good intentions for the country. But what happened?

Coup attempts by Honasan, power struggle, political squabbles, and the infighting for juicy deals harassed the amateur Cory presidency. So nothing happened. No progress took place. The economy was still bad. The poor suffered more and more. Sure we got democracy back on its feet. But the Filipino resolve didn’t happen. People Power pala was ningas cogon power. Sayang na sayang!

The gap between the rich and the poor remained at 30% (middle-class and rich), 70% (lower-class and rural/urban poor). Exchange rate was US$1 to P25. We were 55 million people. In 1992, Cory’s choice, Fidel Ramos, West Pointer, soldier, and hero of the People Power won the presidency. He had the bearing, the single-mindedness and the vision to bring the country to a tiger economy status. Ramos was a terrific salesman of the Philippines to the world. He was able to hype a climate of an economic ground. He removed barriers to progress. He was an apostle of privatization. His mantra was, less government, more private sector! Fidel hit the right note and the economy went on a roll. Fidel wanted to run for re-election but failed to swing the cha-cha (an idiotic acronym for Constitutional Change) so he could run again.

In 1997, the Asian economic crises struck, triggered by a balloon burst of the hyper speculative Bangkok economy. The financial debacle created disastrous effects in the investment institutions of Manila, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Taiwan. All the Ramos gains evaporated into thin air.

Malas na naman! The poor, specially Mang Pandoy, were poorer than ever.

1998 was showbiz time! The Erap para sa mahirap show opened to the chagrin of the Makati Business Club. Pasensya na po kayo, mga elitists. Democracy is also weird. The choice of the masa must be respected.

Catastrophe! Chavit Singson exploded jueteng bombs! For days on end, a nation sick in the stomach, sat through primetime TV aghast at watching the bizarre drama of alleged bribery, gambling, drunkenness,womanizing, deceit, and corruption. A lantern-jawed witness and a sexy intelligence “asset” hogged the witness stand. Viewing the scandals on TV was like watching dogs mating in the public square. It’s embarrassing but you can’t take your eyes of them. The impeachment trial serialized on TV was riveting. The defense lawyers, some wearing a canine sneer (ngiting aso) insulted our intelligence often. (Lokohin n’yo ang lelang n’yo). The whole country was stinking to high heavens.The prosecution produced its own witnesses Clarissa Ocampo, Emma Lim, Carmencita Itchon and many others. Idols with feet of clay fell crashing into the dust. Those who voted against opening the envelop were legalese, procedural, and sounding intellectually brilliant. Also heartless and thick-skinned. They couldn’t fathom the heartbeat of the nation.

Cardinal Sin, ageing and sickly, called the people again. It was People Power II! Same humongous and collective umbrage, same brinkmanship, and same staccato prayers! Generals Reyes and Villanueva simply joined The mammoth EDSA crowd. No US jets from Clark this time. Erap was out! Gloria was in! Hope springs eternal. Malacanang regained its honor and dignity. Protocol was observed. Absurdity was gone. Grammatical English was back.

2001. More catastrophies! The peso plummeted to a horrifying P51 to US$1. The Abu Sayyaf (extremist ideologues? Or mindless barbarians) were into kidnapping and terrorism, gaining world-wide notoriety. Businesses are still closing shop. Thousands of workers are being retrenched. Prices of food and gasoline are very high. (Galunggong is P80 per kilo!) Our streets became permanent garbage dumps. Maggots multiply to spread disease. Our communities stink. Again, the whole nation was witnessing sickening crimes attributed to people in the government. Talo na naman!

We are now 75 million people but the gap between the rich, 30% (middle-class and rich), 70% (lower-class and rural/urban poor) remains the same for one century.

When will this end? It’s been more than 350 years since Lapu’s-Lapu’s victory, 100 years since Rizal’s martyrdom and we’re nowhere as a people, as a nation.

Malas pa rin!

Some wise guy said the Filipino has damaged culture. Bully! And what do you call other foreigners? They used slaves in their plantations, and land grabbed from the natives! What should we call such culture? Predatory Culture? Bully Culture? What about another country? How many countries did it put under the barrel of its gunships, so they could gloat that the sun never sets on their empire?” What shall we call this culture? Sahib culture? Gunga Din culture? C’mon, give us a break!

We Filipinos have strengths and endearing values. We are Christians, God-fearing, and peace-loving. We are patient and tolerant (matiisin to a fault). We are musical. We sing our blues away. We have a sense of humor. (We concoct and text Imelda hyperboles and Erap malapropism.) We learn fast because we are bilingual and highly educated. We’ve got thousands of MBA’s and PhD’s in economics and management from AIM, WHARTON, HARVARD, UCLA, etc. We’ve got a surplus of technocrats for nation-building. We want to work if there are vacancies. We want to go into business if we have the capital. We want to obey the law if the law is being enforced. We want to live and die there, if there is peace and order.

But, but and but. We have many shortcomings. We are immature in our politics. Given a choice on whom to elect: a handsome pabling movie star or an honest and brilliant political scientist, we’ll vote for the movie star. No brainer tayo dito. Talo!

We have many stupidities. Like dogs, we pee (Bawal umihi dito) on walls and tires. Our driving is suicidal. Our service quality is inferior. Clerks at City Hall act arrogant. Sales ladies at department stores don’t know their product features. Tourists get mugged by thugs in uniform. Police lay traps so they can catch you and ask for a bribe.

What’s wrong with us? We don’t have a great leader. And good governance. (In Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew did it. The constituency profile is similar to Filipinos.)

Admittedly, this country is impossible, tiresome, and frustrating. But it’s the only country we’ve got. We live and die here. Will we ever see the dawn?

Dios na mahabagin, Kailan pa kaya? Ubos na ang aming luha. Katog na ang aming mga tuhod. Toyo na ang aming utak. Hingal na ang aming puso. Dios na mahabagin, isalba Mo po kami. Hindi po kami talunan. At lalo pong hindi kami tanga. Sunod-sunod lang po ang malas.


Merciful God, when? We’ve ran out of tears. Our knees are weak. Our brains are dried out. Our hearts breathless. Merciful God, save us. We shall not be overcome, and indeed we’re not idiots. It’s just bad luck through and through.

– Author Unknown