Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Dirty Little War: A study of revolution and duplicity

By Fred C. Wilson III
The Dirty Little War - Part Two

“If you want to overcome your enemy you must match your effort against his/her power of resistance, which can be expressed as the product of two inseparable factors, viz. the total means at his/her disposal and the strength of his/her will.”

– General Karl van Clausewitz — ON WINNING

War brings out the best and worst in people. Combat veterans rarely speak of their service records though all have stories to tell. Most good. Many morbid. I’m reminded of the ex-marine who I served with as public school teacher who would laugh when he would tell me of a sick little game he and his buddies played on Communist prisoners during the Korean Conflict. He told me how they would bet cans of beer seeing which prisoner would slump or jump to his feet as bullets entered their brains. Their game: Slumper & Jumper.

Then legions of Viet-Nam era veterans who would brag about the many young girls and women they raped, of their enemy dead body counts, the ears and testicles they would slice off enemy troops fashioning bloody borrowed body parts into necklaces as sick souvenirs or barter them among fellow soldiers for drugs, prostitutes, and other desired ‘goods and services.’

Then there were certain bar games played during that same war on women how they would have sex with them on barroom stage floors betting against their buddies as to which woman would get pregnant first with the ‘door prize’ being a free abortion. The list of wartime atrocities is as endless as war itself. (Search: Vietnam War Atrocities.)

Was US foreign policy during the 19th and early 20th Centuries as bad as all that?

• Yes it was bad as ‘all that.’ Reader you must remember that lynching’s reached its peak during the turn of the 19th Century, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a time when factory and mill workers were beaten and shot down like rabid animals by police, union busting goons, the National Guard for speaking out and striking against unjust working conditions. Paid-off politicians enacted ‘law’s which kept the poor poorer. Remember reader those industrial serfs were being paid slave wages for working as much as 12 – 15 hours per day, six days a week, in unsanitary and unsafe working conditions with female workers constantly being sexual harassed at will by lecherous bosses. (Read: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.) By the twisted logic of that time one could safely assume that this barbaric treatment was extended to the newest members of the American fold Filipinos. So why should these Asian ‘niggers’ be treated any differently from the rest of the wage slaves of that bygone era-they weren’t. I think it’s safe to conclude that the atrocities committed during that war were actualized as Little Brown Brother postulated. The ‘Gilded Age’ was opulent for the few but an age of oppression for the many the newly subdued Filipinos were no exception. (Read: Autobiography of Mother Jones by Dover Publications.)

Why did Filipinos wanted out from the Spanish Empire?

• Historically Spain had the well-earned reputation of being among the worst colonizers of all times. The colonized were divided and segregated along racial and blood lines and force fed a subservient devotional Catholicism that placed more emphasis on serving Spain, the white race, but giving lip service to Jesus Christ.

It was a time when such niceties as public education, proper catechetic (religious) instruction, decent medical care, gainful employment, and a host of other essentials we moderns take for granted were denied average Filipinos living under the Spanish yoke. The people wanted to be rid of Spain so they did the logical thing-they rebelled. (Read: Little Brown Brothers by Leon Wolff.)

What roles did organized religion play before, during, and after that conflict?

• The Catholic Church arrived in the Archipelago along with Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in Cebu on April of 1521. In the service of King Charles I of Spain, Magellan was trying to find a trade route to the Spice Isles. Magellan persuaded Rajah Humabon and his wife Hara Amihan to sign-up for Spain. They did and were both later baptized into the Catholic faith. Taking their new Christian names Carlos and Juana, the explorer gave the miraculous statute of Santo Nino to the royal couple as a sign of their alliance with Spain. Thanks to Spanish duplicity hero-chief Lapu Lapu killed Magellan in the Battle of Mactan which later rendered the Philippine-Spanish treaty null and void. After Humabon and Hara’s conversion the new religion grew.

• Martyred during the Spanish Civil War by the Communists, the recently beatified Spanish Augustinian Fr. Gabino Olaso Zabala when working in the Archipelago gleefully joined in and encouraged jail guards and fellow order priests to stomp Filipino priest Fr. Mariano Decanay nearly to death after the native cleric was incarcerated during the 1896 Katipunan inspired uprising. This was an age when even men of faith behaved like savages! The list of clerical abuses was legion.

Not all the Spanish clerics were rascals. Quite a few bishops, priests, monks, and nuns during that time lived exemplary lives; but as with today’s global clergy sex abuse scandal the ‘bag apples’ spoiled it for the good religious who loved the Philippine people and in turn were genuinely respected and loved by them. One such notable was the recently venerated Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo. This sainted woman was born in Manila in 1663. The daughter of Jusepe Luco her Chinese father and Maria Geronima a native Filipina, Venerable Ignacia was bi-racial. (Go to: Wikipedia- Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.) As a child she must have had a hard life. Being a woman in mucho-macho Spanish dominated Philippines didn’t contribute to her overall happiness either. She achieved holiness and fame as the founder of a order of helping sisters the first of their kind in the Philippines since then existing religious orders didn’t accept native Filipinos unless they were scions of families high up on the ‘food chain;’ in short no non-whites needed apply.

Large traces of this anti-Christian attitude towards non-whites are very much alive even in modern American Catholicism. Soon-to-be-sainted Ignacia del Espiritu Santo a ‘silent revolutionary’ lived a quiet life or so people thought. In her own gentle and humble way she changed her society at a time when women were thought of as little more than baby makers, cooks, servants, human ‘punching bags,’ and sex objects.

”…a people without vision must perish, a people without faith cannot accomplish great things, a people without reverence for its own past builds without a secure foundation.”

-Rabbi Dr. Joseph Stodz-

What did ordinary Filipinos benefit from the Philippine-American War?

• Though the Roman Catholic Church was disestablished by the incoming Americans who purchased large tracts of former church lands, the overwhelming bulk of redistributed church land went to American companies and the landed gentry; ordinary Filipinos got little for their bloodshed.

• At war’s end anti-Catholic America introduced a fundamentalist brand of Protestantism which further divided the people this time along religious lines.

• As with the American Revolution the Philippine version was a Masonic inspired revolt which was why when I studied Tagalog and Philippine History at the Jose Rizal Center a popular Chicago Philippine-American community institution, during the history segment of our three hour course our instructor exhibited authentic relics of that Revolution. Most of these objects were Masonic in symbolism. Reader you must remember that the Philippine Revolution was a revolt against a corrupt Spanish government and the equally corrupt elements of the then Spanish friar dominated Catholic Church a revolt largely modeled largely on the American version.

• The hated Spaniards were replaced by a then equally despised America though the situation appeared to have gotten better as the American occupation set in. If you were to research the overall situation of Filipinos during the stagnant Spanish years, the American occupation, Japan’s incursion, Philippine self-rule, ordinary Filipinos had it much better under the Stars and Stripes than any other time in their long and tortured history of foreign domination; just my opinion.

• The United States brought in American teachers with then modern educational techniques. Modern American technology and business methods entered the country. During centuries of Spanish misrule the ‘peasants’ were taught to kow-tow to their Spanish ‘masters.’ America made universal education possible in the Philippines.

Next time we’ll conclude with an examination of the aftermath of the ill-fated Philippine-American War and its continuing effects among modern Filipinos. To enrich your knowledge Philippine history this writer suggests that you read the following related titles: ‘The Philippine War, 1899-1902’ by Brian Linn, New York Times Review (Philippine-American War), Wikipedia-mock battles (Battle of Manila Bay), and Wikipedia-Emilio Aquinaldo (Philippine-American War). Again any comments, questions, or criticism please email me at: I read and reply to all my emails-promptly. Till then GOD bless you and know-your-history!!

“Freedom lies in being bold!” –Robert Frost

Friday, February 27, 2009


By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Feb. 04, 2009

The sky seems to be falling. Last year, 2.6 million Americans lost their jobs due to the financial meltdown. In one day alone last month, 75,000 were laid off from their jobs in the US and Europe. In the month of January, 200,000 were terminated jobs in Spain. Our own Department of Labor and Employment warns that 200,000 will be laid off from their jobs this year. In the next two years, some four million Americans are expected to have their homes foreclosed.

According to a report released last week by the International Labor Organization, as many as 51 million will lose their jobs by end of 2009, if the situation continues to deteriorate. This could raise the number of unemployed worldwide to as high as 230 million

Special attention is being focused on China where thousands of factories have been forced to close down due to the financial and economic meltdown, and tens of millions of workers have been laid off. The Chinese economy is expected to post a rise in GDP of “only” 8 percent in 2008, compared to 13 percent in 2007.

The fear (or hope, depending on one’s view of China) is that the sudden and massive job losses will ignite social tensions and cause political problems for the ruling Communist Party.

There is concern that massive job losses around the world will lead to protectionism as individual countries strive to save domestic jobs and domestic producers from foreign competition. This has been dramatically shown by wide-scale strikes in the United Kingdom last week by workers in the oil refinery and related industries protesting the importation of 300 Portuguese and Italian workers for the construction of a new refinery.

This has resonance for labor-exporting countries like the Philippines whose economy is largely dependent on the remittances of overseas contract workers. The fact that the Philippines did not develop exports and tourism to the same extent as our more successful neighbors did, has saved us from precipitous economic decline as suffered by, say, South Korea and China.

Our weakness has ironically become our strength, even if only temporarily. But if hundreds of thousands of Filipino workers abroad were suddenly rendered jobless and were forced to come back, then we join the rest of the world in a spiral into what could become a Depression.

While a recession is technically defined as a contraction of an economy for two consecutive quarters, there is no quantitative measurement of what a Depression is.

In its website, the New York Times defines a Depression as “a severe economic downturn that lasts several years. Fortunately, the US economy has not experienced a depression since The Great Depression of 1929, which lasted ten years. The GDP growth rates were of a magnitude not seen since: 1930 (-8.6%), 1931 (-6.4%), 1932 (-13%) and 1933 (-1.9%).

“During the Depression, unemployment was 25% and wages (for those still had jobs) fell 42%. Total US economic output fell from $103 to $55 billion, and world trade plummeted 65% as measured in US dollars……” (The current US and EU unemployment rate is 8%, expected to climb to 10% by end of 2009.)

“In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President based on his promise to create federal government programs to end the Great Depression. Within 100 days, the ‘New Deal’ was signed into law. This created 42 new agencies to create jobs, allow unions and provide unemployment insurance….

“However the extent of the Great Depression was so great that government programs alone could not end it. Unemployment remained in double digits until 1941, when the US entry into World War II created defense-related jobs.

Could it happen again? “A Depression on the scale of 1929 could not happen exactly the way it did before. Central banks around the world, including the US Federal Reserve, are so much more aware of the importance of monetary policy (interest rates, money supply) in regulating the economy.

“However, there is only so much monetary policy can do to affect fiscal policy (government tax collection and spending)….”

Contrary to the monetary policy in 1929 when banks raised interest rates higher and higher, central banks in 2009 have lowered interest rates around the world, in some cases to almost zero percent.

But so far corporations are not borrowing to expand their businesses. They instead continue to shed workers and employees as demand for their products and services continue to decline. And consumers are not buying because they want to conserve their funds out of fear that they may lose their jobs. The vicious cycle rolls on and on. Where and when it stops, no one seems to know.

Except perhaps our very own President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who has chosen the World Economic Forum in Davos to lecture President Barack Obama: “What we want is for America to do something because the last thing we want is for America to do nothing. You may be vague on what should be done, but the worst thing is for it not to do anything.”

President Arroyo, who has been in power since January 2001 (or for about 2,920 days) and whose most noteworthy economic achievement has been to send ten percent of the Philippine population to work abroad, because they could not find jobs in her domestic economy, deigns to hurry up President Obama, who has been in power only since January 20 (or for about 15 days) to “do something about it.”

Yes, how about starting World War III with ten percent of the US population – or about 30 million Americans.- forced to “work abroad” with the US military? That should mop up all those who have lost their factory, store and office jobs, as an earlier war did in 1941. *****

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Dirty Little War: A study of revolution and duplicity

By Fred C. Wilson III
The Dirty Little War - Part One

After I read Little Brown Brother by author Leon Wolff, I said to myself “this guy had some nerve…it took a lot of guts to write this stuff and in 1961 during the Eisenhower years. Wolff’s book is a detailed study of U.S. expansionist policies at the end of the Spanish-American War through the first few years of the 20th Century. Well researched and to the point, this writer think his book should be mandatory reading in the Philippine educational system. The book is a classical study in American historiography and how the infamous ‘doctrine’ of Manifest Destiny worked itself out in the Philippines. With this book as a guideline, this article will examine the Philippine-American War the revolution that preceded it, the battles, atrocities committed on both sides of the conflict, the ramifications of that long forgotten event and what modern Americans and Filipinos can glean from it.

Wolff’s book opens during the waning years of the 19th Century. It continues through the bloody no-holds-barred Philippine-American War a genocidal conflict so barbaric and ruthless its aftermath left indelible scars on the Filipino psyche. This war set the stage for the current neo-colonial mentality that pervades modern Philippine society.

Wolff’s book traces the origins of the Filipino liberation movement’s victory over Spain and how the islands were rapidly re-colonized by an expansionist America. Wolff gives readers the complete physiological profiles of the heroes of the Revolution. He points out while Dr. Jose Rizal was a catalyst for the budding republic, the embodiment of the movement resided in the streetwise Emilio Aguinaldo. The book tells of Aguinaldo’s intense hatred for Spain, intra-island infighting among other revolutionists who contested his presidency, his poor generalship, and his earnest attempt to prove to the world that Filipinos was morally and mentally light years ahead of anybody Europe and America had to field against him.

But America was smart. Though new to the ‘game’ of international political piracy she was a fast learner. In quick time the United States discovered that only countries that controlled the high seas ‘called the shots’ an example being the world wide ‘tour’ of The Great White Fleet in December of 1907. This naval demonstration showed the world America’s growing military might. With millions of African-Americans enslaved economically and politically despite the long signed Emancipation Proclamation with remnants of once proud Amerindian tribes safely tucked away on reservations, America focused its attentions on Spain’s ‘castoffs’ Cuba and the Philippines.

Spain was tired of the Islands and wanted out. Aguinaldo’s forces were tightening the noose. The only way for Spain to save her honor was to stage a mock exit battle. Spain had one more Joker up her sleeve. After staging the ‘farce’ Battle of Manila Bay, though thousands of sailors were killed, a secretly agreement existed among Admiral Dewey, Generals Wesley Merritt and Otis, and Governor-General Jaudenes that after America claimed ‘victory’ Aguinaldo’s troops would remain outside Manila after Spain formally surrendered the islands to the United States. This move insured that the victorious Philippine revolutionary forces would enjoy none of the spoils of their hard-fought war. The book makes another point clear; though colonists may war with each other they automatically bunch together against those colonized having dark skins.

Wolff goes on in graphic detail how churches were looted, vandalized, desecrated, religious orders were exiled, prisoners tortured then shot, women raped, entire villages burnt to the ground, populations starved, with nearly half the male population of Luzon were butchered by genocidal Americans as reprisals for being ambushed at breakfast by ram-charging elements of Philippine guerrillas who left many American soldiers sitting headless and limbless as they ate their morning meal.

Fighting in the Philippines was a nasty affair; the weather was miserable, disease decimated the ranks of raw poorly trained and ill equipped US troops, the incessant rain, ankle deep mud, troopers meeting sudden and horrible deaths along jungle roads, dysentery, diarrhea, rotten food, fetid drinking water, the rats did not for contented soldiers make. All of the above were contributing factors for the cruelty on both sides.

Modern sulfa drugs and antibiotics didn’t exit in 1899. Life was a hell in the Philippines with more than enough to go around. Though Brian Linn in his book The Philippine War 1899-1902 attempted to dismantle the commonly held view that US forces largely won the Philippines by brutalizing the population, but with no end of the war in sight, the barbarity became a shared experience.

Wolff and others compared the Philippine-American War to Viet Nam in the 1960’s in terms of sheer savagery. The authors give accounts of how both sides conducted the war. The Philippine leaders Gregorio del Pilar, Antonio Luna, and President Aguinaldo; US Marines, Muslim Moros, the ‘Buffalo Soldiers,’ American commanders Lawton, Meritt, Pershing, Funston, Arthur MacArthur father of famous Douglas MacArthur, and Otis, and the 250,000 – 1,500.000 plus lives that were sacrificed on that blood red altar of revolution and a struggle that started long before America’s involvement in the 1890’s to when parting shots were fired in late 1913. Viet Nam and the Philippine struggles were fought in similar terrains, were combinations of conventional and guerilla warfare, pitted white colonial powers (France and the United States and her allies) against determined Asian foes, and lasted between 12 to 14 years apiece.

The popular media of the day cited how the Philippine war divided America into to two warring camps: the anti-imperials William Jennings Bryant, Mark Twain on one side, the politicians William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt on the other.

How bloody was this crusade in the name of Western Imperialism? “…our soldiers here and there resort to horrible measures with the natives. Captains and lieutenants are sometimes judges, sheriffs and executioners…’I don’t want anymore prisoners sent to Manila,’ was the verbal order from the Governor-General three months ago…It is now the custom to avenge the death of any American soldier by burning to the ground all the houses, and killing right and left the natives who are only ‘suspects.’” and this list goes on all this and much more from two US officers who leaked their stories to the New York World. A British publication wrote: “There have never been a more wicked war than this…but never a more shabby war.”

Wolff and the then American press blame a few cruel men for the war. Linn’s study contends that while America could have easily lost that war, the real blame lay on the Filipino’s disunity and inept generalship. Both authors did their homework. In writing it the author drew from archival documents, Aguinaldo’s personal writings, and from contemporary writing of the day. Wolff’s work concludes by warning us that unless we correct the faults of the past we will commit them again. In 1963 less than three years after Wolff’s book went to market the United States and Viet Nam went to war and did commit them again.

When I finished reading Wolff’s book and other accounts of that troubled era, I had a few questions. Was the United States’ treatment of the Philippine people as harsh and barbaric as one author contented?

According to Wolff’s epic study the United States Army’s policy of pacification was downright genocide. Given the Viet Nam like situation of that war when an American soldier’s house servant by day could eagerly slit his throat during the night coupled with white America’s hatred for all things brown and black (except comely women) I would venture to say YES and then some. Cases in point: during the summer of 1968 after this reviewer applied for service in the Peace Corps, I had to take a complete physical at then Glenview Naval Base. The examining physician an elderly white military gentleman told me that he had served in that war. He described in vivid details the number of Moro’s he used to blast with his Army 45 a colossal handgun invented specifically for the purpose of dispatching ‘drugged up kris-welding Moro’s though in all honesty he never mentioned the more ‘finer points’ of his service during that war. A few years earlier I met a person who served during the Spanish-American War and was one of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. This Black gentleman, a usher at my parish (Corpus Christi) church when I was a boy, him and I used to have some Interesting conversations about what went on way back then.

When we continue with Part Two of THE DIRTY LITTLE WAR a review of Little Brown Brother by author Leon Wolff, we’ll take up where we left off.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Telltale Signs
Rodel Rodis,
February 3, 2009

When ABC presented a demeaning image of Philippine-trained doctors in a “Desperate Housewives” episode (September 30, 2007), the Filipino community erupted in outrage and demanded an apology. Because Filipinos rarely appear on national TV, it was feared that the offending episode would cause Americans to view their Philippine-educated physicians in a negative light. That ABC episode is peanuts in terms of image and consequence compared to the depiction of Filipinos that CBS presented on January 31, 2009 in its CBS 48 Hours Mystery episode of “Conspiracy to Kill”.

CBS correspondent Peter Van Sant’s hour-long documentary began with this introduction:

“Larry Risken was a Navy officer. Earl Bourdeau was a Marine. Nineteen years apart, they married the same woman: Sonia Rios. And both military men met the same fate — ambushed and gunned down in the Philippines, in the presence of Sonia’s family. The families of Risken and Bourdeau say they’re sure Sonia was the mastermind in both killings. Then a year after Larry’s Risken’s murder, Sonia suffered the same fate herself - gunned down in her home, on the south side of Los Angeles. By then, she’d been dubbed, “The Black Widow of Lomita.”

Larry Risken was a commander in the US Navy when he met Sonia Rios, a successful Filipina businesswoman who owned her own beauty salon in Lomita, California, and who drove around in a flashy Corvette. She had been previously married and divorced, his family was told.

Larry and Sonia were married in 1990 in three separate wedding ceremonies which excluded members of Risken’s family. But Larry visited the Philippines several times to spend time with Sonia’s family. In one of the visits, he met Sonia’s niece, Quinzy, and nephew, Jetmark, and decided to adopt them.

Sonia was supposed to take care of the adoption but when Larry found out that Sonia had sabotaged the process and did not want them to come to the US, his relationship with Sonia soured.

Fed up with Sonia, Larry began seeing a co-teacher, Eileen Stevens. When Larry told Sonia of his feelings for Eileen, she “flew into a rage” especially after Larry asked for a divorce after 16 years of marriage.

Sonia consented to the divorce but only after Larry visited the Philippines to see Quinzy and Jetmark one last time. Despite his parents’ misgivings about traveling to the Philippines by himself, Larry flew to Manila.

On April 18, 2006, while piling into a Jeep after taking one of Sonia’s nieces to a hospital to be treated for an eye infection, a gunman on a motorcycle shot Larry in the head and stomach, killing him instantly.

When 14-year old Jetmark called his aunt Sonia to tell her the devastating news, he was shocked to hear her response: “Jet, don’t worry. Everything is under control. Nothing to worry about.”

Risken’s family, frustrated that the Philippine police could do nothing to solve the murder, decided to hire private investigator Bong Oteza, who concluded that it was a well-planned hit. Bong learned that Sonia had a $1 million insurance policy on Larry Risken.

Bong also learned that Risken was not the first Sonia husband to meet that fate. It turns out that she had been previously married to a US marine named Earl John Bourdeau who met her on his first overseas tour of duty in the Philippines in 1963. He married her and brought her to the US to meet his parents and settled in Lomita, California.

According to Sonia’s good friend, Henry Hoskins, Sonia was not into fidelity. “I knew some of her boyfriends. She was dating professional people,” he said.

After 21 years of marriage, Bourdeau wanted out of the marriage. But Sonia would only agree to a divorce if he would go to the Philippines to “sell a family taxi business”.
Although he did not want to go, Bourdeau went and stayed at the home of Sonia’s brother. He was asleep on August 15, 1987, when he was shot at point blank range. Sonia’s brothers claimed that he was killed during a break-in.
Philippine police authorities would not buy that story, however, and within weeks of the murder, they solved the case. Five people, including two of Sonia Rios’ brothers (one of whom had blood splatters on his shirt), were arrested and charged with the murder.
The CBS reporter then said that everything stopped. “Do you believe that someone may have been paid off to stop this investigation? Van Sant asks Oteza. “Yes, to stop the investigation. Yes, to drop the charges against the five family members,” he replies. Incredibly, Oteza says it takes as little as $1,000 to stop a criminal investigation. And he thinks he knows who paid to stop this one. “The person that wanted Earl Bourdeau dead is someone that will benefit and that is Sonia Rios.”

Yes, folks, visit the Philippines where you can hire a hitman to kill your spouse for a few bucks (and collect millions in insurance money) and pay as little as a thousand dollars to stop the criminal investigation.

After cashing in on Bourdeau’s death, about 19 years later, Sonia did it again. But in Risken’s case, Sonia was unable to collect on his million dollar policy because Risken’s relatives cried foul.
Risken’s sister, Ellen Jackson, told Van Sant: “Sonia used the Philippines as a killing ground in two murders and no one has been brought to justice.”

About one year after Risken’s murder, the 60-year old “Black Widow of Lomita”, Sonia Rios, was found dead in her home with a gunshot to her head.

The CBS 48 Hours Mystery did not end with the unsolved murders of Sonia and her two husbands. Its reporter and crew tracked down the remains of Bourdeau in the Philippines with the assistance of a Filipina forensic pathologist, Rachel Fortun. After confirming that the bones in a crypt belonged to Bourdeau, 48 Hours paid for the bones to be transported to Davenpot, Iowa where they were buried last month, 21 years after Bourdeau’s murder.

Within hours after the TV episode appeared on January 31, emails poured into the CBS website denouncing Sonia Rios and other “gold diggers and murderers” from the Philippines. One wrote that “anyone who gets involved with a person born and raised in the Philippines needs to understand that they are not like us…they are for the most part materialistic, greedy, manipulative, heartless people.” One psychopath (“cliffps”) even suggested that “what we need to do is take the law into our own hands but do so quietly and continue evening the score. It might take time, maybe a little bit (or a lot) of scheming and strategizing on one end but justice can certainly be accomplished.”
One American man married to a Filipina, Jack Spratzer, tried to stem the racist tide: “Don’t paint a race of people with a broad brush. I know the Philippines and her people and I can tell you that the Filipino people are kind, loving, polite and generous” but he was decidedly in the minority.

A new vile stereotype has been virally spread and many Filipino women married to American men will face suspicions, ugly accusations and harassment from their husbands and their husbands’ kinfolk because of Sonia Rios and the CBS show that exposed her.

(Send comments to or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call (415) 334-7800. For past columns, log on to

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sampung Prutas

good morning.....

may 3 hunters na nahuli ng mga cannibals sa gubat.
dinala sila sa harap ng tribal chief para siya ang pupugot
ng ulo. nagmakaawa yung mga hunters.

naawa naman yung chief.

Chief: sige hindi namin kayo papatayin, sa isang kondisyon.
kailangan isa-isa kayong mangolekta ng 10 pirasong prutas.
dalhin nyo iyon dito at saka ko sasabihin ang sunod nyong gagawin.

naghiwa-hiwalay ang tatlong magkakaibigan. unang dumating si Pedro,
dala-dala'y 10 oranges.

Chief: ngayon, ipasok mo ang lahat ng mga prutas na iyan sa iyong puwet.

kailangan ay hindi magbabago ang mukha mo. konting ngiwi o ngiti
lang ay pupugutan ka agad namin ng ulo.

unang orange pa lang ang pinapasok ay napa-sigaw agad si Pedro. agad
siyang pinugutan ng ulo. sunod na dumating ay si Juan, dala-dala'y
10 lansones. tuwang-tuwa siya ng in-explain sa kanya nung Chief kung
ano ang kailangan nyang gawin.

Juan: sus! sisiw lang pala. kayang-kaya! buti na lang maliit na prutas
ang kino-lekta ko.

Naipasok ni Juan ang mga lansones sa kanyang puwit ng walang
problema. ngunit nung asa pang-10 prutas na siya, bigla siyang napatawa.
pugot-ulo agad si Chief.

pagkamatay ay napunta agad si Juan sa langit kung saan nakita niya si
Pedro. nagkausap ang dalawa.

Pedro: sayang Juan! pinapanood kita dito sa langit habang ginagawa mo
yung utos. isang lansones na lang hindi mo pa tiniis!
buhay ka pa sana ngayon.

ano bang nangyari sayo?

Juan: pare, ang dali-dali ngang ipasok nung mga lansones. kaso, nung
matatapos na ako bigla kong nakita si pareng Jose -- may dala-dalang
10 durian!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Filipino’s desperate search for a national hero

By William M. Esposo
Philstar: February 01, 2009

Many Filipinos keep asking this question — “Why don’t we have national heroes now?” And it’s a fair question to ask considering the desperation of the times.

Even before the global financial meltdown, we have seen the greatest number of Filipinos who live below the poverty line. Never before had we seen so many Filipinos who go hungry. Before the 1990s, only the insane would ever eat food from trash bins. Now that is an accepted Philippine reality. Even employed Filipinos are now finding it increasingly difficult to afford the food they used to put on the family table.

Is there no hero who will give the Filipinos economic emancipation?

Our political system claims to be a democracy when in fact it is an oligarchy. We have a Congress where most of the Representatives do not serve the people but only themselves and their political patrons. Just compare the separate Senate and Congress hearings on the World Bank contract scandal and you’ll see what our Congressmen are like.

We have a largely perceived illegitimate president who is kept in office by that servile Congress. Not even Satan for all his evil deeds could ever be impeached with that Congress. In the face of so much need for reform, accountability and transparency, what we see is unmitigated greed and lust for power.

Is there no hero who will finally make democracy work in the Philippines?

We are proud to claim that we are a religious people and yet whether it is a Christian or a Muslim Divinity we worship, we continue to commit some of the worst sins against our neighbor. We commit both the sins of commission (as when we steal, kill, oppress and maltreat people) and omission (as when we remain oblivious to the stealing, killing and the poverty around us).

Is there no hero who will restore the Filipino sense of morality and decency?

The 2010 elections would be a good opportunity to allow such heroes to emerge. But do we really see that looming in the political horizon? With sinister forces conspiring to abort the 2010 elections, do we really see a hero among the leading presidential candidates?

Is Joseph “Erap” Estrada your idea of who will be that hero? Didn’t 38% of the voters give him that opportunity to be the economic emancipator of the masses in 1998 when they made him president?

Instead of an economic emancipation, what the masses saw was a plunder case conviction. Estrada was ousted from office and charged for dipping his fingers in the jueteng protection kitty? He was eventually convicted for plunder. Are you still willing to give him a second chance?

Estrada could have been the savior of the long suffering masses who idolized him. The single biggest trait of a great leader is the power to enlighten his people. However, instead of being an agent for enlightenment, Estrada became the ultimate promoter of showbiztocracy where film fantasy is passed off as reality.

Is Loren Legarda your idea of who will be that hero? If loyalty to the cause is an important heroic trait, how can you rate Loren as one? Did she not start out as anti-Estrada when she figured prominently in the former president’s Impeachment Hearing, only to become an Estrada ally today?

If Loren is an Estrada ally today, then how come she is in the Nationalist People’s Coalition Party (NPC) of Danding Cojuangco who is 100% in support of the administration? We all know that in the NPC Danding Cojuangco is an unquestioned influence. Where does Loren Legarda take off posturing to be part of the Opposition — which is politically convenient as over 70% are against Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ­— and be a member of Danding Cojuangco’s NPC?
Don’t you think that this is a classic case of political opportunism — a very UN-HEROIC trait? She plays the Opposition base while taking advantage of having Danding Cojuangco’s national party and, not to forget, immense election war chest. In the end, to whom will Loren Legarda owe her victory if she manages to pull it — is it to you the voter or to Danding Cojuangco?
Is Panfilo Lacson your idea of a hero? Is getting linked to gruesome murders, whether proved or otherwise, and making unsubstantiated accusations your idea of what makes a hero?
Dr. Jose Rizal and Apolinario Mabini never killed anyone and yet they are popularly regarded as national heroes. They served their country not by physical force or coercion but by force of conviction and inspiration.

You can go down the line of the leading — meaning high rating — contenders for the 2010 presidential elections and ask if someone qualifies to be the hero we need at this time. I doubt if anyone will fit the bill.

It is easy to see why they won’t fit the role of a hero. A hero is one who is produced by the people and works for the people.

So far, we cannot really claim to have had a president who was produced by the people. The Ramon Magsaysay and Corazon Aquino presidencies were the most popular. However, it cannot be said that these presidencies were solely produced by the people as influential players played key roles in their ascendancies. Although, in fairness to Presidents Magsaysay and Aquino, they tried their best to serve the people and that is something we can hardly say about recent Malacanang Palace occupants.

To be a hero, the 2010 president must be a reformist and should not simply focus on coping with the projected economic difficulties of the next two to three years. To be a hero, the 2010 president must be able to lead the nation in removing the oligarchy and making democracy work for all Filipinos.

To deserve having such a hero, the Filipinos must be able to rise above their tribal mindsets and finally think as a nation. Are you not surprised that in our country, as seen many times, to protect foreign interests is accepted as legal while to espouse protection of national interests have been branded as illegal or parochial? How can a people who praise traitors and condemn nationalists produce real heroes?

If we get the government we deserve, it follows that we also get the hero we deserve — and in this country we do have an unusually big number of bogus heroes.

There can be no great heroes without great followers.

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Chair Wrecker website:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vultures ‘R’ Us

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Feb. 02, 2009

Look! Up in the sky!
It’s a bird!
It’s a plane!
It’s…..a vulture!

Circling the land, looking for another vulture with which to mate and produce more baby vultures to make the picking and plucking of dying fauna and decaying carcasses faster and more systematic.

This is the image that comes to mind whenever I read ever so often about the on-again and off-again merger charade of the Lakas-CMD and Kampi political parties.

No less than the Mother of All Vultures, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is the chairwoman of Lakas-CMD and the titular head of Kampi, has issued a call to all the other vultures “to face the electoral challenge of 2010 with righteousness and confidence.” (Sounds of vomiting in the background.) “There is basically no ideological differences in our platforms. Merging Lakas-CMD and Kampi will keep us on track and firmly focused on our vision of getting the country by 2010 well on the road to (the) First World in 20 years… ” (More sounds of retching in the background.)

When he was editing and publishing, first the Daily Globe, later Today, Congressman Teddy Boy Locsin often fondly referred to Lakas-CMD as “the party of thieves.” I wonder how Teddy Boy would characterize Kampi. The party of streetwalkers?.

President Arroyo was correct in at least one observation: “there are no ideological differences between Lakas-CMD and Kampi.” And, one might add, the Liberal Party, the Nacionalista Party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the LDP-Laban, the Partido ng Masang Pilipino.

The only political party in the Philippines with an ideology fundamentally different from the others is the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) of Joma Sison, which wants to establish a Maoist government and society here under a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ with monopoly of power for the CPP. Which is not fundamentally different from the goals of the Bayan Muna party list, as Bayan Muna Cong. Teddy Casino has candidly admitted in several TV interviews.

The Ang Kapatiran party of Nandy Pacheco also has an ideology or party platform, and it is specifically based on the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, which means the party rejects the use of artificial methods of birth control. I promised Nandy that I would examine and critique his party’s ideology or party platform in a future article.

But offhand, I doubt the ability of Ang Kapatiran to mount an effective challenge to the established trapo parties, unless it can recruit a nationally revered elder statesman like Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno to be its standard bearer in the 2010 polls. Which is also doubtful since CJ Puno is a Methodist and is unlikely to be comfortable with a party platform specifically based on the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

In other words, to be a viable party with universal appeal, Ang Kapatiran has to outgrow its narrow Roman Catholic orientation and re-engineer itself as a secular and non-sectarian party

With the exception of the CPP and Ang Kapatiran, political parties in the Philippines are indistinguishable from each other. They have no differences in ideology or party platform. They are merely machineries for getting their candidates elected. After the elections, the winning party or parties concentrate on dividing the spoils in Congress and in the Cabinet, and on recruiting opportunistic turncoats from the other parties.. The losing party or parties concentrate on lodging electoral protests on the grounds that they have been cheated.

The absence of any ideological or platform differences among the trapo parties encourages opportunistic political turncoatism: Filipinos trapos change political parties with scandalous ease because it does not involve compromising matters of principles, which they do not have in the first place.

There is virtually no discussion or debate on national or international issues. The opposition party or parties conduct endless investigations on the alleged corruption scandals involving the party or parties in power. The party or parties in power protect their bureaucrats from being harassed by the opposition. But in the final analysis, no one is found guilty of anything and no one goes to jail for anything..

The final calculus is in winning the most seats in Congress and the Senate, the most local government positions at the municipal and governor levels so that the party or parties in power can railroad through its/their most self-serving advocacies. In the case of the Lakas-CMD/Kampi merger, what holds them together is the over-arching ambition of President Arroyo to remain in power beyond 2010

In February 2005, then Kampi President Ronaldo Puno announced the miniscule party’s strategic goal to become the largest party in the country by the year 2007. I wrote in May 2005 that this was meant to engineer a shift to parliamentary to enable President Arroyo to remain in power beyond 2010, as prime minister

I was right. In 2006, there were two maneuvers, precisely towards this goal: a people’s initiative signature campaign and a move to convene the Lower House into a constituent assembly without the participation of the oppositionist Senate, both of which were meant to engineer a shift towards parliamentary.

Both maneuvers were orchestrated by then Speaker Jose de Venecia, with the active support of former President Fidel Ramos, both of Lakas-CMD. The maneuvers’ timetable was meant to create a temporary or interim parliament by 2007 in which JdV would have been interim prime minister from 2007 to 2010, at which point which GMA would then metamorphose from president to full-time prime minister, without skipping a beat

That both attempts failed has not dampened the perseverance of the avaricious vultures. A merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi, according to their calculations, would give the emerging Vultures Inc. 143 seats, out of 238, in the Lower House, 56 governors, 89 city mayors, and 1,092 municipal mayors.

Not content with this phenomenal powerhouse, the political operators behind the still-to-be-finalized merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi are already talking to another group of vultures, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, for a three-sided behemoth, Vultures ‘R’ Us, which will have 172 seats in the Lower House, 61 governors, 104 city mayors, and 1,232 municipal mayors. (Standard Today, Feb. 2) Not surprisingly, the Atiena wing of the Liberal Party has expressed interest in joining the merger.

Vultures of the same feathers flock together. And prey together. .A family of vultures that preys together, stays together.

Notice that in all these maneuvers, there are no inter- or intra-party debates on the merits or demerits of parliamentary, on the merits or demerits of federalism, on the merits or demerits of the proposed stimulus package to cushion the impact of the economic meltdown, on the merits or demerits of the proposed peace agreement with Muslim separatists, on how to reintegrate into the domestic labor force the tens, even hundreds, of thousands of overseas workers who will lose or have lost their jobs abroad, or the merits or demerits of a population management program, or the merits or demerits of free trade and globalization in the face of the global recession.

Nothing. All deliberations boil down to how many positions of power at all levels Vultures ‘R’ Us will wind up with after disbursing billions of pesos from that P330 billion stimulus package, to achieve the end goal: GMA Forever. *****

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Filipino voters in the countryside are a unique breed

by Ben Serrano
February 3, 2009

BUTUAN CITY- My colleague at Batas Party-list Nat John Duenas e-mailed me a column published February 2, 2009 at the Manila Standard written by Bong Austero titled “Flash Gordon!” referring to Senator Richard Gordon, another Presidentiable. Thanks Nat I appreciate it!

The column tells why not Richard Gordon for president? A man that was the toast of the town almost two decades ago when he transformed Subic Bay into a showcase of what the Filipino can do once he sets his mind to it.

Austero in his column claimed (and I quote in verbatim Austero’s column) “Why then is Richard Gordon not being considered seriously as Presidential timber? The answer dawned on me during the last twenty minutes of his address last week and it was a disheartening realization as it is a reflection of the state of the maturity of our voting population.

Gordon is not out there as a frontrunner in the presidential derby because he doesn’t seem to have the billions required to finance an expensive presidential campaign; or if he does, he knows only too well that he would have to recover the “investment” one way or the other, most likely through shady deals, if and when he gets elected into office.

He is not a front-runner because he is a stickler for discipline and the rule of law, unlike other politicians who have no compunctions about campaigning early and already spending hundreds of millions in television ads a good year and a half before the actual elections.

In a brazen display of self-importance, Bayani Fernando has decorated our major thoroughfares with giant tarpaulins of his grim visage, in the process assaulting millions of Filipinos everyday. Wherever he goes, he has a brigade of pink-shirted men and women distributing campaign materials.

Senators Manny Villar and Mar Roxas have been campaigning hard since last year. They have upped the ante by producing slick television advertisements that extol themselves as the panacea for our country’s many ills.

While it can be argued that Villar and Roxas are wealthy individuals who are supposedly—although this is met with well-deserved skepticism—spending their own money, they are clearly violating electoral laws by launching their campaigns very early on. Pray tell, what kind of message are Villar and Roxas sending? That they are above the law? “.

Well, you hit the head of the nail right Bong!

My take is, Filipino voters are a unique breed, a sort of very different kind of voters (some say a distorted practitioner of democratic ideals).

This happened because since time immemorial our political leaders have exploited that weakness. Wanton poverty that behooves Juan De la Cruz for decades has viciously come over and over again as if we never learned lessons and forget out tragic experiences from the hands of our greedy politicians!

Ideally, local political leaders are supposed to empower us poor Filipinos intellectually, morally and financially. But local politicians give us wrong signals ergo almost all poor Filipino voters are becoming dependent to wealthy, rich politicians who is actually making politics a business proposition rather than a tool of empowerment.

I have covered six elections in a row here in Caraga Region and money has always been the determining factor of winning victories after victories. Here in Caraga Region, it is actually color coding, it’s like birds of same feathers attract each other or you scratch mine and I’ll scratch yours syndrome. Do we see changes in the 2010 national election?

Nope, it’s all the same and because poverty continues and even getting worst due to economic crisis it will all be the same or even worst has yet to come.

Comelec officially said that as of the October 29, 2007 barangay elections, Caraga Region has a total 1,308,076 registered voters. Traditionally you divide that into ten ruling families of political dynasties all over the region including solid INC religious vote.

I have been going around lately and talked to many people as I can and this is my observation.

There are more New People’s Army sympathizers now than before. Some rural folk would stick to the communist propaganda thinking it is serving them better and that they have better deal on it than inutile government institutions whose personnel won’t even pay them a visit especially those living in far-flung areas. The NPA rebels pictured themselves as the true soldiers of the people and in the countryside they have been successful in that propaganda.

The military will of course debate you on that but as the saying goes the proof of the eating is in the eating itself. You can see that in the way the NPA rebels attack municipal police stations, bombed Globe cell site facilities across the regions these days and in the past. tsk tsk tsk.

During an NPA lightning raid at a rubber plantation in Bayugan City In Agusan del Sur last year where at least 13 high-powered firearms were snatched by the rebels at broad daylight from the rubber plantations security guards. They even made a monstrous traffic at the national highway and almost sari-sari stores moments before the attack closes shop.

I happened to ask this to former Army Chief of Staff then OPAPP Secretary Hermogenes Esperon during a press conference that while the government is paying hard earned taxpayers’ money to rebel returnees at P50T to P60T each for returned armalite rifles, illegal loggers in Caraga Region in returned are giving firearms and ammunitions to the rebels. And Agusan del Sur vice Governor Santi Cane for the record agree with my observations during the press con.

Thus, I believe the New People’s Army’s decades old campaign for a fee (an income generating project) proliferates more than ever as it is in the previous elections wherein candidates locally or nationally had to seek permission from the local rebels particularly rural areas where it is their stronghold.

As they are saying, a presidential candidate who wanted a pie of the 1.3-M registered voters in Caraga Region (very minimal in fact registered voters in Caraga Region combined is just like a district in Metro Manila) you only needed to talk to four groups; One, the political dynasty families and their cohorts, two, the local New People’s Army, three, the Iglesia Ni Cristo votes (which is actually very minimal but solid) and four, the COMELEC.

Lastly, I agree with Bong Austero in his column, when he said, “Gordon is not a front-runner because we are a people who don’t like leaders who tell us sobering truths. We prefer leaders that entertain, make politically- incorrect and sexist jokes, make promises that cannot be implemented anyway, and in general, make band-aid solutions to major problems that require surgery and chemotherapy.

We certainly don’t like candidates who tell us unequivocally that we are all part of the solution, that our problems are best solved if we all practice good citizenship and do our bit in making this country work. Thanks but no thanks but we’d rather have candidates who fancy themselves as in possession of superhuman powers that they can solve our problems all by their lonesome selves.

To all of these I say AMEN.

Friday, February 20, 2009

English as the big Filipino hang up

By William M. Esposo
Philstar: January 22, 2009

Whenever your Chair Wrecker writes about the issue of re-imposing English as the medium of instruction here, spirited responses are generated.

Many of those who support the view that English should be taught only as subjects but not imposed as the medium of instruction are from the academe. They understand the impact of language in the learning process. They know that a people will learn more when taught in the language they are most familiar with.

They know that what is important is that we produce world-class farmers, technicians, craftsmen, engineers, doctors, nurses, scientists, laborers and so forth who can compete with the best in the world. English to world-class workers is at best an added advantage. But what is essential is the core competence in the real task or service that they provide.
A physicist who speaks the Queen’s English but cannot put together the most basic of elements is useless and will likely land in a call center.

Also, among those who support that view are the nationalists who know only too well that a country cannot possibly internalize its full sense of nationhood when a foreign language is imposed on its people as the medium of instruction.

Don’t be surprised that many Filipinos still entertain the illusion that they are Americans. The pretense with the language allows the maintenance of this illusion in the Filipino colonial mentality. If you want to talk like a Yank, soon you’ll think that you’re a Yank.

In a Youth Study in 2001, an abnormally high number of our young people openly wished that they were Americans or British. This mindset is easily reflected in a lot of the advertising materials that are directed towards young people.

Many of those who oppose the view — in other words they are for imposing English as medium of instruction — do so for all the wrong reasons.

Some of them think that without English proficiency, Filipinos cannot land jobs here and overseas. They fail to see that the language is secondary to the job competence.
Some of them mistake the current efforts of the Chinese, South Koreans and other Asian nationals to learn English as the key to acquiring the competitive edge. They think that if we learn English ahead of the Chinese, South Koreans and other Asian nationals - then we will beat them. This is fallacious thinking that mistakes the cart for the horse.

How can you beat them when you don’t even have their level of job competence — something which they acquired by learning their skills in the language they are most familiar with? Can a Filipino speaking the Queen’s English be considered better than the Chinese who makes double the quantity of products that the Filipino makes in an hour?

Filipinos fail to understand that many Europeans are bilingual but none of the European countries ever adopted a foreign language as their medium of instruction. Go to Holland and you’ll be surprised that it’s easier to converse with the Dutch in English than you can converse with the Brits if you were in England. And it’s worse if you ever get as far as Bonnie Scotland.

Easily 60% of British variations of the English language cannot be understood by Filipinos and we are not alone. In Scotland, a MacGregor clansman of mine was speaking a variation of English that I mistook for what is called broad Scots.

As I was missing three of every five words that he said, I requested him: “Freddie, kindly speak to me in English.” He answered me: “Boot I’m spaykin tae ye in mae best English (that’s how it sounded).” And he has not even started to drink a wee dram yet!

The Dutch speak good English but they never imposed English as their medium of instruction. They simply taught English as a subject. We should do the same because imposing English as medium of instruction will further propagate the exclusive character of our society. It will further aggravate the disadvantage of the poor who cannot possibly be taught properly when this foreign language is imposed on them as the medium of instruction.

Instead of hastening their learning of technical skills that can land them good jobs, we will be imposing another learning impediment as we will force them to learn in a language that over 70% of our public school teachers cannot speak, much less teach with.

To improve proficiency in English, all we must do is teach our pupils in elementary and high school English composition and grammar subjects and possibly literature. But the medium of instruction must be the language they are most familiar with.

Some of those who oppose this express parochial mindsets, especially those in the Visayas. They resent being taught in Filipino which they continue to call Tagalog. They fail to learn from the Chinese who adopted Mandarin — the language of the capital — as their national language from among the 11 Sinitic languages, 64 dialects and 64 sub-dialects.

We have already made great strides with Filipino. Are we to retrograde just to accommodate the parochial views of some Filipinos who cannot seem to shed their tribal colors and don the national colors?

Over 30 years ago, there was a vibrant Visayan movie industry in the South. But you don’t see that now because Filipino is already spoken nationwide.
Even the MILF spokesmen speak good Filipino.

* * *
Chair Wrecker website:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Justice at 3 A.M.

by Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J.


*Note: This is the e-mail prayer brigade initiated by Fr. Reuter for Phillip.

Phillip Andrew A. Pestaño graduated from the Ateneo de Manila High School in 1989, entered the Philippine Military Academy, and became an Ensign in the Philippine Navy in 1993. He was assigned as cargo master, on a Navy ship.

He discovered that the cargo being loaded onto his vessel included logs that were cut down illegally, were carried to the ship illegally, and were destined to be sold, illegally. Then there were 50 sacks of flour, which were not flour, but shabu - worth billions. Literally, billions. And there were military weapons which were destined for sale to the Abu Sayyaf.

He felt that he could not approve this cargo.

Superior officers came to him and said: “Please! Be reasonable! This is big business. It involves many important people. Approve this cargo.” But Phillip could not, in conscience, sign approval.

Then his parents received two phone calls, saying: “Get your son off that ship! He is going to be killed!” When Phillip was given leave at home, his family begged him not to go back. Their efforts at persuasion continued until his last night at home, when Phillip was already in bed.

His father came to him and said: “Please, son, resign your commission. Give up your military career. Don’t go back. We want you alive. If you go back to that ship, it will be the end of you!” But Phillip said to his father: “Kawawa ang bayan!” And he went back to the ship.

The scheduled trip was very brief - from Cavite to Roxas Boulevard - it usually took only 45 minutes. But on September 27, 1995 , it took one hour and a half. When the ship arrived at Roxas Boulevard, Ensign Pestaño was dead.

The body was in his stateroom, with a pistol, and a letter saying that he was committing suicide. The family realized at once that the letter was forged. They tried desperately for justice, carrying the case right up to the Senate.

The Senatorial Investigation Committee examined all the evidence, carefully. Then they issued an official statement, saying among other things: Ensign Phillip Pestaño did not commit suicide. He was murdered. He was shot through the head, somewhere outside of his stateroom, and the body was carried to his room and placed in the bed. The crime was committed by more than one person. In spite of these findings, by the Senate, the family could not get justice. The case is still recorded, by the Navy, as suicide. For 12 years they have been knocking at the doors of those in power, to no avail. Now they realize that they should knock on the door of Him who said: “Knock, and it shall be opened to you. Ask and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find.”

So they are asking all of the friends of Phillip from the Ateneo, from the PMA, friends of the family - including the girl he was engaged to marry - to say this prayer: Lord, we know that Phillip is safe with you, and will be safe forever, because he gave up his life, as You gave up Your life - for justice. If it is Your will, please let the truth be known of his heroic courage and strength and love of country. Let justice be rendered here on earth. But if it is not Your will that justice be rendered here, give each of us the grace to live and die as he did - following in Your footsteps.

And at the last judgment, Lord, when all that is hidden will be known, let Phillip be seen as he really is - a brave young man who gave his life for honesty, truth, and justice.”

* * *

Phillip Pestaño died at the age of 24. He was scheduled to be married in January of 1996, four months after he was murdered.

He was a martyr. A martyr is one who dies for the faith or for a Christian virtue. Phillip died for a Christian virtue - justice. It is not likely that he will ever be canonized, but he takes his place among the Unknown Saints.

Some military men are killed in battle. They are given a hero’s burial. But Phillip died for a much deeper cause - he was trying to preserve the integrity of our Armed Forces. He died out of loyalty to the Philippines, in an effort to keep the oath that he made when he graduated from the Military Academy.

Graft and corruption are the curse of this nation. But when they take root in the heart of our Armed Forces, they threaten our existence as an independent, democratic country.

The family of Phillip Pestaño is doing the right thing. They are turning to God. They are praying that justice will be administered here, in our country, in our day. But if this is not God’s will, then let us at least try to preserve the ideal of integrity in every mind and heart and soul.

Let’s forward this message to every freedom-loving Pinoy in our list. Thank you.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Of Traitors and Heroes

Jose Ma. Montelibano

It is not difficult to talk about traitors. There are so many of them around, easy to spot because they usually hold positions of power or hold great wealth. The worst traitors are come from the Church and the State, both being the the dominant and domineering institutions of the country in the last four hundred years. The Church and the State are natural sources of vision and virtue, of courage and heroism, of nobility and purity. When they live up to their highest calling, an enlightened society is born and raised.

The story of the Philippines, however, is a story of failure of leadership. In a democracy, the failure of society may mean the failure of the citizenry. “For the people, by the people, of the people” is more than a democratic principle, it is democracy’s fundamental philosophy. That is why I cannot point to the people as the culprit for the massive poverty and corruption that shame the nation. Our poverty is not a choice, it is an inherited status, a curse from birth. Corruption stems from abuse and exploitation of power, and the people are its victims, not beneficiaries.

The State in colonial times used force to rob the people of their land and loot the country of its resources. The Church at that time shared in the loot and cooperated with the State to manipulate the native population into submission. There is little need for me to retell an old story. I am not a historian, only a student of history. And if our history were not so crucial to our present, I would prefer to simply move on in cadence with time.

Today, however, is a special moment when history and the present meet to reconcile and change a course, or agree to continue a path where a people’s soul wallows in slavery and darkness. After more than twenty years, another moment emerges with a special invitation for courage and faith. Once again, change knocks loudly in the hearts of Filipinos, asking to come in, bearing messages of encouragement from America.

When slavery has been one’s reality for centuries, it conditions the mind and spirit to cope by first resigning to it, and eventually by accepting it as a natural state of life. It used to be that parents of poor families would dissuade their children from even imaging a better life. It was, for those parents, simply fantasy to do so as life would never allow such a shift from poverty to comfort or abundance. Ambition was not only useless, it actually was dangerous. Ambition only got the poor into trouble with the Church and the State who were always vigilant against their subjects hoping and dreaming.

We must remember history, not only the events and the special personalities, but also the effects of it that we carry to the present. If change seems to come so slowly, it is only a direct result of a history that has so deeply embedded submission and resignation in the psyche of ordinary and poor Filipinos. Those among us who clamor for change would do well to understand the process and effect of colonial times, to understand the exploitative nature of the Church and the State all those centuries. Once we do, we can design a mechanism to deconstruct the imposed horizon blanketing a captive’s mind and ultimately allow the rainbow to inspire a benighted people to follow the light.

In a democracy, government is the one tasked not only to govern but to lead and inspire. In a religion, the church is expected to nurture and to pastor. In the Philippines, however, both government and church have failed miserably as institutions in their mandated roles. What has saved the day for them are pockets of good workers on the ground, public officials who defy the collective look of graft and abuse by their sincere and dedicated service, priests and nuns who shun the pomp of position and protocol and instead take the posture of washing the feet of the poor.

Where government and church as institutions have oftentimes been traitors to their higher calling, ordinary workers among them have been heroes and have carried the day for them. Even when whole institutions become corrupt, the light of a few honest and courageous members can continue to provide hope to an exploited society. Because we have many traitors who keep Filipinos in the dark, who abdicate the empowerment of the many for fear of losing historical advantages, we need the heroes who will stand on firm ground, who will stay rooted in righteousness despite the corrupt environment.

When we have heroes to point to, they become sources of light. I have found many in my life, a barangay chairman here and there, a mayor here and a governor there, an honest treasurer, a determined teacher. They have been sources of light. The Church in the Philippines has her own heroes, even a few martyrs. There are those parish priests who defy their own poverty and always have something for the poorest in their areas. And who can discount the many religious orders of nuns who truly mother their flock as their way of life.

Treachery has brought poverty to a land of abundance. It is treachery against public duty, against morals and ethics. It is treachery against the teachings of Christ whose disciples in the Philippines have not been faithful reflections of. How can a godly gift of abundance be cornered by the greedy in a land where religion teaches love and sacrifice giving as its primordial virtues? But in the face of the worst distortion and perversion of democracy and Christianity, heroes have not been bullied to squat and be quiet. To those heroes we owe so much, maybe even everything thus far.

Thus far, only thus far. Heroism is not only for the rich, the powerful, the learned. Heroism is a birthright, a forgotten one for most, but always there as a choice for each of us. We have relied on our heroes for so long but mistook their roles as saviors when they served most of all as inspiration for our own heroism to awaken. Heroes save, but heroes inspire, guide and empower us to be heroes ourselves. This is the invitation of change - for us to be heroes in this moment of history. Change is not a call for higher incomes, for more economic opportunities. Change is a call for heroes to save their motherland. Change is a call to be brave, and then for the brave to serve as models of virtue, of generosity and courage, of faith and patriotism.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FOR 2009:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  • Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants
  • Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
  • Make time to practice meditation, yoga, and prayer.
  • Play more games.
  • Read more books than you did in 2008.
  • Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  • Sleep for 7 hours.
  • Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day. And while you walk, smile.


  • Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  • Don't over do. Keep your limits.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  • Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
  • Dream more while you are awake.
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner of his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  • Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  • Smile and laugh more.
  • You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.


  • Call your family often.
  • Each day give something good to others.
  • Forgive everyone for everything.
  • Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  • Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.


  • Do the right thing!
  • Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • GOD heals everything.
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • The best is yet to come.
  • When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.
  • Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.
Join the Truly Rich Club

What Better Choices?

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Jan. 28, 2009

There is an item going around in the domestic cyberspace with the provocative assertion that we deserve better choices in presidential candidates in 2010. In fact, readers are encouraged to submit their nominations to the email address:

The short message goes as follows:
“Why should we settle with Noli de Castro (refutedly [sic] attack collect/defend collect and a GMA stooge)?
“Why should we believe Manny Villar (behind Capitol Bank failure/double titling/titling of watersheds/C-5 insertions etc etc)?
“Why should we accept Loren (wife of a convicted murderer/will do anything to get elected/no proven executive experience)?
“Why believe in fast talking Chiz Escudero (Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan boy)?
“Should we limit our choices to these questionable characters?
“PLEASE PASS so we can have a better Philippines !!!!! Let’s look for the right choices. Email us who you think should lead us beyond 2010.
“God Save the Philippines!”

I have no idea who is or who are behind this campaign. I sent them an email asking for the results of this survey, so that they can be discussed in this space. The unsigned reply promised to do so, “around the end of this month..”

It could be that those floating this survey are supporting one of the other presidential wannabes who are not mentioned in its hate list: Mar Roxas, Panfilo Lacson, Joseph Estrada, Richard Gordon, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Jejomar Binay, Bayani Fernando, or the latest Flavor of the Month, Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Or it could be a support group for our President-for-Life/Would-be Prime Minister Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as part of the Kampi efforts to emphasize that no one, but no one, can replace the Irreplaceable One

It is a common lament among the middle-class that there is no one among the presidential contenders whom they would trust to do a better job than Gloria has done. Most of the would-be presidents have been in the public eye for decades, and suffer from that over-exposure. Rightly or wrongly, people tend to think that since they have not done anything significant in the years and decades that they have been public officials, there is no reason to believe that they will do anything significant if and when they occupy higher positions.

Many concerned Filipinos, whether they will admit it or not, are really looking for fresh new faces with fresh new ideas of governance. This survey on what better choices we can have for 2010 is a manifestation of this frantic search for new leaders. But it is not the only one.

Two or three years ago, Jaro Archbishop Amado Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a call for “a new breed of leaders”. Our Thursday group met with him and eight other bishops at the Pius XII Center on United Nations Ave. to find out what methodologies the bishops had in mind for looking for and finding “a new breed of leaders.”

The bishops had no such methodology. We suggested that the Church use its Radio Veritas and its network of Catholic schools to provide a platform from which this “new breed of leaders” can be seen and heard, but the suggestion was received coldly and unenthusiastically by the bishops.

In fact, when Jun Lozada emerged as a new folk hero, in the wake of the ZTE scandal, and was treated like a rock star by thousands of young people in the school campuses that he visited, it was the bishops who poured cold water on the incipient prairie fire by forbidding Catholic schools from further inviting Lozada to their campuses.

So how the hell can “a new breed of leaders” get an airing in this country where the meaningless and personalistic party system – captive as it is by a cannibalistic political culture - is monopolized by feudal political dynasts, and media is interested largely only in trapos, coup plotters and Communists?

The Kaya Natin movement being nurtured by Harvey Keh in the Ateneo de Manila University is focused on credible local executives such as Naga City Mayor Jess Robredo, Isabela Governor Grace Padaca and Pampanga Governor Fr. Ed Among Panlilio, whom Kaya Natin wants to support for the Senate.

The Ang Kapatiran party founded by Nandy Pacheco has initiated a nationwide search for municipal councilors to add to the solitary party member whom they have managed to get elected: a municipal councilor in Olongapo City.

These efforts are both commendable and worthy of support. But the Need of the Hour is for a visionary president who will lead a social, moral and cultural revolution, not necessarily a violent one, to transform this country and release the long dormant and wasted creative potential of the Filipinos. In other words, we really need and deserve better choices in 2010. Any volunteers? Any suggestions? *****

Reactions to Other articles in and in

Monday, February 16, 2009

An American Revolutionary in the Philippines

by George M. Hizon

The densely forested area around the Rio de la Pampanga River was a scene of great bloodshed as dozens of Filipinos lay dead massacred by the advancing U.S. forces. It was August, 1899, when Filipino Insurrectos under General Maximino Hizon were making a futile stand against the vastly superior American army.

In a few weeks, General Hizon would be captured. He would be replaced by another Pampango general, Jose Alejandrino. General Alejandrino regroups his almost decimated forces and heads towards Mount Arayat, for, another bloody confrontation with the Americans. In the lull of the battle, Alejandrino meets a “black” American defector, Corporal David Fagen. A highly skilled guerilla fighter (he was a veteran in Cuba during the Spanish-American War of 1898), Fagen would raise havoc with his former comrades in the U.S. army. For the next two years, his actions would give hope to the losing “Filipino cause”.

An incredible story?Yes. And it all happened during the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902. Actually, Corporal David Fagen was one of the 7,000 “black” soldiers sent here in the Philippines to secure the islands for the United States of America. Originally, called “Buffalo Soldiers”, a monicker given by the American-Indians because of their combat prowess and bravery, 4 regiments of “black” soldiers were sent here: they were the 9th and 10th cavalry, and the 23rd and 24th infantry regiments. Corporal Fagan belonged to the 24th. On June, 1899, Fagen’s regiment was sent to Central Luzon to fight the Insurrectos.

During the course of the battle, two factors would change Fagen’s perspective of the war. First, his constant quarrel with his superiors, and second, the “racist” manner in which the Americans conducted the war, oftentimes calling Filipino soldiers racial slurs like “niggers”, “black devils” and “gugus”.

On November 17, 1899, Fagen defected to the side of the Insurrectos. On September 6, 1900, he was promoted from corporal to captain by his commanding officer, General Alejandrino. “Captain Fagen” would clash with the American army at least eight times, from August 30, 1900 to January 12, 1901 (two against Frederick Funston, the fabled general who captured Aguinaldo). His most famous action was the daring capture of an American steam launch on the Rio Grande de la Pampanga River. Along with 150 of his men, Fagen seized its cargo of guns and disappeared swiftly into the dense forest before the American reinforcements could arrive. It was after this episode that he was referred to as “General Fagen”, by the New York Times.

As Fagen’s “legendary” exploits in the battlefield continued prolonging the war, it also brought along countless miseries to the people of Central Luzon. The tragic loss of lives of many Filipinos, both combatants and non-combatants was a fact General Alejandrino found quite unacceptable. On April 29, 1901, Alejandrino turned himself in to the American army (his decision to surrender was also hastened by Aguinaldo’s capture in March, 1901). On May 16, 1901, General Urbano Lacuna, Alejandino’s successor, also surrendered to the American forces, ending with finality, Central Luzon’s involvement in the Philippine-American War.

With the “revolutionary option” already out of the question,
David Fagen had no other recourse but to “run and hide” as he would meet certain death at the hands of his American captors. Together with his Filipina wife and another Filipino soldier, Fagen took refuge in the nearby mountains of Nueva Ecija.

In the following months, Fagen would become an object of a relentless manhunt by the U.S. army. Branded as a bandit, he would carry a $600 price for his capture, dead or alive. Posters of him both written in Spanish and Tagalog were spread all over the towns of Nueva Ecija.

On December 5, 1901, Anastacio Bartolome, a Tagalog hunter, delivered to U.S. authorities a sack containing a partially decomposed head of a “negro”, who he would claim to be that of Fagen’s. At first, Bartolome’s statements regarding the circumstances surrounding Fagen’s death(Fagen was supposedly hacked to death)proved consistent with the evidences he brought along: some weapons and clothing, a pair of field glasses, Fagen’s commission, and a Westpoint class ring of one of Fagen’s former captives, Lieutenant Frederick Alstaetter ( Alstaetter was earlier released unharmed by Fagen ). Further investigation by 24th regiment, however, gave doubt to Bartolme’s claim that the head inside the sack was that of Fagen’s, “as it was too small”, according to one officer. He further commented “it could be that of an “Aeta”, one of Fagen’s many companions inside the “Insurrecto” camp. Could it be possible that Fagen faked his own death by colluding with Anastacio Bartolome to avoid capture? Adding credence to this speculation was Bartolome’s prior confession to the U.S. authorities that he was a former “Insurrecto”.

A year later, the U.S. army would close the files of David Fagen naming it “the supposed killing of David Fagen”. There would be no record of payment of a reward to Bartolome.

What would have become of David Fagen? I am sure, he is dead by now. He, however, deserves a place in our history just like our other foreign heroes: General Juan Cailles (French), General Jose Ignacio Paua (Chinese), General Manuel Sityar and Colonel Jose Torres Bugallon, (Spaniards).

Final note: Reduced to insignificance because of our close ties with the United States of America, the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902, is the least mentioned historical event in our newspapers today. Despite its “insignificance”, the war claimed more than 200,000 Filipino civilian lives. Add to this, the number of combatants killed: 20,000 Filipino soldiers paling in comparison to 4,390 American soldiers. The war was condemned by famous personalities like Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie and Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina. It was also condemned by a few American soldiers as about 20 of them defected to the side of the Filipinos.6 of them were “blacks”. 2 of them were hanged (both “blacks”). They were Privates Edmond Dubose and Lewis Russell, of the 9th cavalry regiment. The most celebrated was probably Corporal David Fagen of the 24th infantry regiment.

The author, George M. Hizon is a great-grandnephew of “Insurrecto” general Maximino Hizon. He currently writes for Ateneo’s Blue-blood magazine.


Michael C. Robinson and Frank N. Schubert, “David Fagen: An Afro-American Rebel in the Philippines, 1899-1901”.The Pacific Historical Review. Vol.44, Nov.1, (Feb. 1975), pp. 68-83

National Historical Institute: Eminent Filipinos, T.M.Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila, 1965, Maximino Hizon. Page 128

National Historical Institute: Filipinos in History vol.3, T.M.Kalaw st., Manila, Philippines.1990, Jose Alejandrino. Pages 9-11

Arnaldo Dumindin, “Philippine-American War, 1899-1902: A Pictorial History of the Philippine American War”- Internet

Vicente Rafael, David Fagen (1875-?)/ Black Past Reclaimed and Remembered: University of Washington, Seattle, U.S.A.-Internet

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Of Laughter and Red-hot Coals—the Humor that Saves
By Francisco F. Claver, S.J.

Can our vaunted Filipino sense of humor be harnessed to help us get through the sickening corruption of our times? The question occurred to me when I received the two jokes recounted below from an American religious, Marist Brother Kevin O’Neill, who’d worked with us once in Malaybalay. The jokes, evidently, are going the rounds of Filipino communities in the States that he is in close touch with.

The first is about how corruption is supposedly looked at differently in America than in the Philippines:

Q. What’s the difference between corruption in the US and the Philippines?
A. In the US, they go to jail. In the Philippines they go to the US.

And the second is about Filipino super-expertise in corrupt practices:

Three contractors are bidding to fix the White House fence. One is from the Philippines, another from Mexico and the third an American. They go with a White House official to examine the fence. The American contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures out with a pencil.

“Well,” he says, “I figure the job will run to about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 for me.”

The Mexican contractor also does some measuring and figuring. “I can do it for $700”, he says. “$300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 for me.”

The Filipino doesn’t do any measuring or figuring, but leans towards the White House official and whispers: “$,2,700.”

The official, incredulous, says: “What? You didn’t even do any measuring like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure? How do you expect me to consider your service with that bid?”

“Easy,” the Pinoy explains, “$1,000 for you, $1,000 for me, and we hire the guy from Mexico.” The next day, the Pinoy and the Mexican are working on the Fence.

Jokes only—but with a special sting (because right on target?): the first reminds us that the worst practitioners of the “art of corruption” among us are the relatively well-off, people who really don’t have to steal to survive and who almost always get away with their criminal thieving. The second shows how our supposed penchant for improvisation makes for superior inventiveness even in corruption—a deplorable misuse of a God-given talent?—and for ease in enticing others to become complicit in its evil. Actually, it is this same devious talent that prompts the thoughts I’m proposing for consideration in this column: Is it possible for us to think of humor not just as a mechanism to cope with the evils corruption brings in its wake but for something more drastic—to imaginatively, creatively use humor as a means of purging the body politic of the poison that it is?

The reasoning behind my proposal is probably most simplistic, but I put it down in black and white anyway in the hope that it will catch and start more of us thinking along its lines. I have only two arguments to make: one from Philippine culture, another from Christian faith.

First, from culture: If there is one glaring defect common to the corrupt in our nation today it is their utter shamelessness. So we should ask ourselves: Can humor—jokes, laughter, even ridicule at their expense—help cure them, re-enkindle in them an ordinary Filipino sense of hiya? I don’t know for sure, but I believe it’s worth trying. Add this to the praying I suggested in my last column as one thing we could do.

And secondly, from faith: Prayer and ridicule don’t seem to go together. In fact the latter could well deny the former, at least in this sense, that it seems to sin against Christian charity. But then Christ himself constantly used ridicule against his enemies among the Pharisees of his time. And so did Paul the Apostle in his quarrels with Judaizers. He even talks of pouring red-hot coals over the heads of one’s enemies by doing good to them (see Romans, 12, 21)—something we will be doing to our corruptors if we are to be able to help them, through ridicule and humor, to cease from continuing the harm they’re doing. So, pouring burning coals on their heads, as Paul teaches? It is a thoroughly Christian act of charity that we should give more thought to in the intransigent fix we are in as a people. For laughter and humor can indeed be salvific—for both the corrupt themselves and the victims of their corrupt ways.

An afterthought: If the jokes I cited above are being widely circulated among Filipino expatriates in America, I suspect it is in reaction to the deep shame they feel in the constant citing of their country of origin as one of the most corrupt in the world today. So they trade jokes—even painful ones—for their possible cathartic effect.

Francisco F. Claver, S.J.
JJC-ICSI, Ateneo de Manila University
January 14, 2009