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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Did PNoy urge de Lima to accept CJ nomination?


By Jon Carlos Rodriguez
ABS-CBNnews.com 
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Veteran journalist Marites Vitug on Thursday said the acceptance of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima of the nomination to become the next Chief Justice is “not a good sign.”
Vitug said the secretary’s acceptance came as a surprise following reports that she initially declined the nomination.
De Lima is a known ally of President Benigno Aquino III and testified in the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Apparently, it was confirmed that President [Aquino] met with her and apparently convinced her to accept the nomination. So that’s not a good sign, isn’t it?” Vitug told ANC’s “Prime Time.”
Vitug also said that although de Lima performed well in her interview with the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Tuesday, she wasn’t given the chance to share her ideas on judicial reform.
“She is able to present her arguments quite clearly. But beyond that, there are also other requirements such as reform ideas because that’s the crying need of the moment,” she said.
Vitug added that the panel should have asked de Lima if she was able to improve the disposition of cases as Justice Secretary.
In her interview with the JBC, de Lima said she will not be beholden to the President if ever she is appointed as Chief Justice.
De Lima said she will not be the President’s alter ego and that their perceived closeness is merely speculation.
“I will not have accepted the nomination if I am not sure of the strength of my character,” she said.
On Monday, the JBC will decide if de Lima is qualified for the nomination due to pending disbarment cases filed against her before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
Transparency
Vitug, author of “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court,” welcomed the televised interviews of Chief Justice nominees, saying it is a good step towards transparency.
“It’s a great improvement. It’s no longer midnight in the court,” she said.
Vitug also said the involvement of social media was a welcome development in the process of selecting the next Chief Justice.
“I was surprised that even questions from Facebook and Twitter were being asked, there was really public interest. It’s a sign that it is being opened to the public,” she said.
However, Vitug noted that the deliberations of the JBC should also made public because according to her, “that’s where the lobbying can be seen.”
“Lobbying is going on as we speak so it’s important to open the deliberation,” she said.
She also said because of the live interviews, the JBC seems to be more prepared in their line of questioning, but stressed that the more “provocative” and “enlightening” questions remain unasked.
Vitug cited as an example the voting record of Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, which was never raised in her interview on Thursday.
Vitug said the panel never addressed the “elephant in the room,” referring to de Castro’s voting pattern on cases such as the constitutionality of the Truth Commission, the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, and the temporary restraining order on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s watchlist order.
“The judges’ core work is their decisions. It shows their integrity and their competence,” she said.

Monday, July 30, 2012

My frustration over the weekend


To the Point
By Emil Jurado 
Manila Standard Today
I do not agree with analysts who say that no one stood out among the first batch of nominees aspiring to become the next chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima definitely stood out.
She was asked why she defied the Supreme Court temporary restraining order on her watch list order preventing former President Gloria Arroyo from leaving the country for medical treatment. De Lima told the Judicial and Bar Council that she could not obey a wrong and illegal order.
But who told her that the order was illegal when it is the Supreme Court itself that rules on constitutional matters? Herself?
I think it was the height of hypocrisy when she told the JBC that she would not be beholden to the President Aquino if she gets appointed as chief justice. How can she not be beholden to him when she has acted as his Doberman all these months?
As a lawyer, De Lima should realize that what the Supreme Court says is the law, whether she likes it or not. Those who disagree may file a motion for reconsideration.
I don’t think that the disbarment case earlier filed against De Lima would be resolved before the JBC decides on its short list to submit to the President.
If she makes it to that list, and, God forbid, if she becomes the next chief justice, that would be the supreme insult to the high court.
I call de Lima a walking violation of the rule of law.
* * *
Last weekend was a big frustration for me. With my son Eric and his wife Sarina, I was all packed and ready to see the island paradise they call Balesin Island Club. No less than my former Ateneo High School student―business tycoon Bobby Ongpin―was my host.
Balesin Island Club is a joint venture of the London-based Ashmore fund management and the RVO Capital Ventures Group, under Alphaland, a high-end property developer with Ongpin as its chairman and Mario Oreta as its president.
I was frustrated because I had been wishing to travel to the most famous and exclusive international resorts like Mykonos, St. Tropez, Costa Esmeralda, even as I have already been to Bali and Phuket.
Now Balesin counts itself as one of these luxurious and exclusive getaways.
Blame it all on tropical storm Ferdie that brought rain to many places in the country. I was feeling under the weather myself so I sent my regrets to Bobby and asked that my trip be rescheduled.
I have heard so much about Balesin. It was owned initially by my good friend, the late Baby Ysmael. Later on, it was acquired by Ongpin’s late Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Ed Tordillas, when Ongpin was Trade Minister of the Marcos regime. Balesin has been Bobby Ongpin’s obsession since he put up his own getaway villa when the island was still owned by the Tordesillas family. Soon, Ongpin bought it, and has been its main unlicensed architect and engineer.
I got hold of a brochure and became frustrated even more. It is truly a dream vacation spot.
* * *
I’m not all surprised that San Miguel Corp. president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang has again made it to The Wall Street Journal Asia’s list of influential and prestigious businessmen.
The 57-year old businessman, who rose from the ranks, and engineered the diversification of Southeast Asia’s largest food, beverage, packaging, oil refining and distribution, telecommunications, mining and airlines, is the only Filipino on the recent “Power List Asia.” The list is composed of top Asian business leaders making headlines on select global and regional media.
In fact, it is the third time that Ang has made it to the elite list of newsmakers in regional business.
I think Ang’s most significant achievement is San Miguel’s takeover of the first airline in Southeast Asia―the Philippine Airlines of Lucio Tan. I know and everybody else knows that with Ang on top of PAL, the credibility and integrity of our national flag carrier will again be a pride of Filipinos especially so with its plans now to fly directly to New York and Europe, routes which have been denied to PAL for years.
* * *
Finally, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel in the controversy between the Bases Conversion Development Authority and the Camp John Hay’s 247-hectare lessee-developer, Camp John Hay Development Corp. The matter is about unpaid rentals and alleged breaches of its thrice-restructured Memorandum of Agreement under the Ramos administration.
With the Baguio City Regional Trial Court directing BCDA and CJH Devco to go into arbitration which is provided for under the agreement, the issues of unpaid P3.1 billion lease rentals and alleged breaches of the MOA would be resolved once and for all.
For a long time now, tourism in Camp John Hay has suffered tremendously. Even locators at the Ecozone have been concerned over the prolonged dispute. More importantly, Baguio City has been deprived of its 25 percent share of the Camp John Hay income.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

“Reelection bid manifests CGMA’s ‘power-hungry’ mentality”


PRESS RELEASE
By Migrante Middle East   
28 July 2012
Thus, said today by an activist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) group in reaction to the reports that former president and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (CGMA) is gunning for a second term in the House of Representative in May 2013 midterm elections.
“One would really wonder, if not doubt, that despite illness and several criminal cases filed against her, CGMA has the nerve to run for reelection as representative of Pampanga’s 2nd district. This manifest ‘power-crazy’ or ‘power-hungry’ mentality of her,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator.
Monterona is quick to add “Well, she is the same person who promised not to seek for reelection but she ran anyway for a second presidential term, an exemption on president’s term limit as prescribed by the Constitution, right after completing the term she inherited from ousted president Joseph Estrada.”
Monterona, however, admitted that CGMA is still allowed by the Constitution to run for reelection as representative of Pampanga. “Everyone knows that she ran and will run again not for genuine public service but primarily for political survival and use her position as shield versus the filed cases against her.”
Aside from CGMA, three other Arroyos are current members of the House of Representatives namely Diosdado ‘Dato’ Arroyo of 1st district Camarines Sur, Ma. Lourder Arroyo of Ang Kasanga Partylist, and Ang Galing Partylist representative Juan Miguel ‘Mikey’ Arroyo.
Representative Ignacio ‘Iggy’ Arroyo, CGMA’s brother in-law, of the 5th District of Negros Occidental, died early this year.
“The Arroyos are part of the prominent political dynasties in the country,” Monterona noted.
Monterona said the issue on political dynasty is one of the reform agenda in the political front Pres. Aquino III has never given much attention, if not forgotten at all.
“PNoy is not even supporting the passage of bills in Congress dismantling political dynasties. We don’t know if his administration has any initiative to dismantle or discourage the rise of political dynasties in the country,” Monterona averred.
‘Even Pres. Aquino III is from a prominent political dynasty like the Arroyos. Will he seriously push the dismantling of political dynasties in the country as part of his political reform agenda?” Monterona ended. # # #
Reference:
John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator
Migrante-Middle East
Mobile Nos. 00974 33 20 5565 / 0063 923 420 0112

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kim Jacinto Henares was her father's assistant as BIR Fixer??


BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares was her father's assistant as BIR fixer??? Susmaryosep!!! Why she now there at the top of the BIR that is most corrupt???
_____

Opinyon NewsMag
July 2-8, 2012 . Vol.2, No.62
Politics Section, Page 5
Chokers
Musings by Ronald Roy

Stuffing into the mouth more than one can chew can be a choking experience.

Potential victims of this manner of self-affliction are Pres. Noynoy Aquino, Sen. Serge Osmena, and some Chief Justice wannabes, and others who talk too much – sincerely or insincerely, “sensically” or “non-sensically”, or with or without malice.

As of this writing, the successor to former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona has not yet been chosen. While the guessing game remains wild and wooly. P-Noy appears calm and collected. He has announced assurances that the next CJ would be the best choice for the country in general and for the Judiciary in particular. Well and good. Let’s hope he does not choke on his mouthful of assurances.

Allow me to discuss BIR Commissioner Kim Henares as a nominee for the coveted top Supreme Court position.

Never mind that she’s only 51, that tax collection is about all that she’s good at, and that she’s a Palace and Congress ally who testified for them at the recent impeachment trial, that she’s a shooting gallery buddy of P-Noy, and that she’s a braggart who has declared that she is the most qualified for the position.

Henares claims to “have been there to witness the rotten system” which the next CJ must be able to break. Well, BIR Commissioner Henares can only sit helplessly (or ignorantly?) as the system of fixers and “tong” collectors flourishes under her nose.

Additionally, according to texter #09066518535 (whom we shall call Hu Yu), Kim’s pure-Chinese father, whose assumed named was Jack Jacinto, had a “bookkeeping office” in Chinatown, Binondo, who serviced Chinese merchants by preparing and filing their false income tax returns every year when he, Hu Yu, was a BIR examiner and field man assigned in the North Manila Area from the ‘50s to the ‘70s.

Not being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Jack Jacinto allegedly hired young CPAs to staff his bookkeeping office. Hu Yu remembers him and a certain Remedios Lim as “notorious fixers in the BIR who helped untouchable taxpayers cheat the government”. In fact, Kim was her father’s assistant who, with her CPA credentials, later joined Sycip, Gorres & Velayo and Co

If Hu Yu’s damning data about Atty. Kim Jacinto-Henares is true, she never should have been appointed BIR Commissioner, much less considered as a contender for the position of Chief Justice. She dished out a mouthful on the witness stand at the impeachment court, and during the interview has bragged about being the best prospect for cleaning up the Judiciary. She could choke on her words yet when investigations get under way to focus on her allegedly sordid and grisly past as a BIR fixer.

……….

Kim Henares’ father was a BIR fixer from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, and that she was even his assistant? P-Noy was remiss on this fact just as he was with the fact that when she was the corrupt BIR agency’s head of its Large Taxpayers Unit from 2003 to 2005, as she bragged when she was just appointed by P-Noy to head the entire corrupt BIR, she allowed Lucio Tan’s Fortune Tobacco, which had at least 70% SOM of cigarettes, to be always behind Philip Morris, which had no more than 25% of the same, in declaring its yearly sales revenues, causing the Filipino people to lose hundreds of billion in “sin” tax?

Who was among the untouchable taxpayers in Binondo cheat the government helped by his father as alleged by Hu Yu? Immediately comes to mind should be no other but Lucio Tan, right? No wonder why this charlatan woman is not acting upon our whistleblowing against the massive tax cheating of Lucio Tan.

Should this charlatan be allowed by the bosses of P-Noy, us, the Filipino people, to stay a minute longer as the Commissioner of the BIR? Each hour that she is there costs the Filipino nation “sin” tax in millions rustled by his apparent master Lucio Tan!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why, China, Why?


GLIMPSES
By Jose Ma. Montelibano
It never entered my mind that China, the new superpower of the world, would even think of bullying our small nation. For so long, experts on China would tell me on the long history of China not attacking its neighbors although often had itself attacked, invaded, conquered. I saw only the Tibet takeover of China, but China claimed that it had not attacked a neighbor – only reclaimed what was China’s in the first place.
When China suddenly, and irrationally, claims Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Reef) as theirs even though the shoal is less than 200 miles from the nearest Philippine shore and about 800 miles from the nearest Chinese counterpart shore, I did not know what to make of it. I say irrationally because the Philippines is already largely owned by Chinese-Filipinos, many of whom sourced goods, credit and capital from China. It did not seem useful, or even sane, for China to start provoking the Philippines when Chinese-Filipino businessmen, or Chinoys, dominate the Philippine economy.
Perhaps, I underestimated the awesome volume of strategic resources that lie under the waters within the 200 miles from Philippine shores. The oil and gas reserves that have been pinpointed as within Philippine jurisdiction represent value that is beyond the trillions of dollars they are worth when monetized; more than that, they represent fuel to drive the engines of factories. Simply put, they mean security.
Perhaps, I underestimated the newfound power of a giant of a country with over a billion people – and the natural superior valuation of itself over other nations. What would I understand about the possible resentment that China may have been felt as foreigners once divided Chinese territory like loot being shared? The revolution that Mao began may not be over in the minds and hearts of key Chinese leaders who want to do to others what was once done to them.
I remember the case of Great Britain when their isles were fodder for the invaders of mainland Europe for 1,500 years. It seemed every Tom, Dick and Harry of a country in the mainland had their turn in looting, raping and plundering the tribes in the British Isles. But when Alfred the Great managed to makes the warring tribes unite to fight the foreign invaders, he also triggered the birth of a powerful nation that then went on a conquering spree around the world. The once conquered followed the footsteps of its previous masters and became the primary colonizer of the earth.
Or, perhaps, I know next to nothing about the internal power struggles of a superpower whose civilian leaders have not tamed their military counterparts. The Central Committee can be locked in a competition for power and perks with the PLO, at least according to experts who make it their profession to follow and study China. It seems corruption is a major issue even within the military, and efforts to cleanse their ranks of wayward officers is meeting stiff resistance. A recent article claims that the hawks now control the PLO, and the PLO is the one dictating the aggressive incursions into, and claims of ownership over, islands that are part of Philippine territory.
It may very well be opposing mindsets within the power blocs in China that has made this superpower an enigma of sorts to Filipinos. Even as tensions rise in the West Philippine Seas, or the South China Seas as China will surely insist when referring to this body of water, China grants us billions in concessional loans for a dam. And I am sure there are many more projects that China has been not only cooperative in supporting the Philippines but actually generous. So, we have a spectrum of views and attitudes within the ruling factions in China, and these find their confusing way to us.
I carry no rancor for China, or the Chinese. God knows how much Chinese blood has intermingled with our native strain, but I can safely say a lot. We are Asians, we have much more commonality than differences. And we are a small-sized country with a weak military capability if attacked by a superpower. There is no motivation for Filipinos to fight China.
At the same time, I am aware of what partisan politics can do to a nation. I do not have to look far. I do not have to read the history of nations to know just how destructive internal conflict can be not only for citizens of an affected country but to its international relations as well. We have had decades of pro and anti-America sentiments that have led to divisiveness, and death, among Filipinos. The screaming rallyists who pounce on every possibility to go against a government they believe to be pro-American or elite-led have become unusually quiet in the face of China’s aggressive posturing over Philippine territory. If we can have diametrically opposing agenda here, why can it not happen to China?
It is most unfortunate, then, that we receive from China a contrast or contradictory set of attitudes and actions. That is a political reality, however, not much different from how Democrats and Republicans in the United States, especially during campaign periods, give the impression that they are two countries with such conflicting values and perspectives. We Filipinos just have to be prepared for everything, for the good and the bad, and survive no matter which kind of policy is applied to us at any time.
Today, there is urgency in preparing ourselves. We begin by being aware that our government will be as weak as we are as a people. That is what democracy is – that government reflects the people. If we want our government to be firm in its dealings with China, we as a people must first provide the government with our firmness. Do we negotiate meekly or stubbornly? Do we submit or do we fight? That is up to us.
Meanwhile, I can only ask, “Why, China, why?”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Protest Chinese patrols


View from Malcolm
By Atty. Harry Roque Jr.  
Manila Standard Today
It is wrong for the government not to file a diplomatic protest over the Chinese naval vessel that was recently grounded 111 nautical miles from Hasa-Hasa in Palawan. No, the protest should not be that it grounded. Surely, a diplomatic protest cannot address the Chinese mariner’s obvious lack of familiarity with the dangerous waters surrounding the Spratlys group of islands; a fact that militates against their so-called ancient claim to the area. The protest should be over what the navy vessel was doing in our waters in the first place: patrolling.
Sovereign states could not exercise sovereignty and jurisdiction in the exclusive economic zone since their so-called sovereign right is limited to the right to explore and exploit the resources found thereat. Still, foreign naval vessels, particularly in disputed territory, have no business patrolling the same. It should have been Philippine vessels from either the coast guard or our navy that should have been patrolling these waters in the first place.
The failure to protest the activity of Chinese vessels militates against our own claim because underiInternational law, the principle of estoppel has not only been consistently applied; it has also been ruled to be sufficient to extinguish title to territory even if one originally existed. For instance, in the case of the Preah Villar temple which was then disputed between Thailand and Cambodia, the International Court of Justice ruled the temple to be within the territory of Cambodia because. In the early 1900’s, Thai authorities did not protest a map showing the temple to be in what was then the territory of France and today, of Cambodia.
Likewise, estoppel has been applied in the Eastern Greenland case between Norway and Denmark. There, the Permanent Court of International Justice cited Norway’s recognition of Danish title over Eastern Greenland when it recognized such title as embodied in the so-called Ilian declaration. In fact, estoppel, defined as a rule of evidence whereby a person or a state is precluded from denying the truth of a statement of facts he or it has previously asserted -has been accepted as a general principle of law in international law. Further, estoppel has oftentimes enabled states to prove a superior claim to disputed territory where both claimants are able to invoke almost identical evidence of effective occupation. It is hence the legal principle that has tilted the balance in favor of one state in a dispute where both parties have equiponderance of evidence.
The fact that we have recently been filing quite a number of protests over recent Chinese aggression and hegemony in the Panatag Shoal should be of no consequence. The law, after all, does not put a cap on how many of these protests we can file. We should not limit the number of these protests. Instead, we should always protest when there is a legal ground, and document them properly since they constitute strong evidence of title. This is because they form clear evidence that we have been asserting our claims through the means recognized by diplomacy as the proper form: a diplomatic protest. It is when we stop making these protests that we may be ruled as either abandoning our rights, or sitting on them.
In any case, this is not the only time when we should have protested Chinese incursion into our territory. Not too long ago, the international media reported a collision between an American destroyer and a Chinese submarine off the coast of Zambales.
Instead of protesting that incident, the Arroyo administration opted to sweep it under the rug and neither confirmed nor denied the incident. Perhaps, what worried the former administration was adverse public opinion that the Visiting Forces Agreement — that has enabled American ships to dock and navigate through our waters — could in fact increase the probability of military confrontation between the world’s lone superpower and the region’s military giant. While we do not know exactly where that collision occurred –as the Arroyo administration in fact claimed that it took place in international waters — the reality is that bereft of underwater scanners and facilities that would enable us to determine the presence of Chinese submarines, we will not know if they are in our waters. Note that while all submarines could exercise innocent passage even in our territorial waters, defined as 12 nautical miles from our coast. Still, the requirement is that they must surface. In any case, the presence of submarines and other military vessels patrolling disputed EEZ are not innocent. They constitute a threat to our national security.
What is clear is that once more, our policy makers opted to be very Filipino in their recent conduct: opting not to add further coal to a burning fire. The only problem here is meanwhile, our adversary appears happy to pour gas onto the flames.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Old maps show shoal part of Phl islands


By Pia Lee-Brago 
The Philippine Star
A map made by Jesuit priest Pedro Murillo Velarde in 1744 shows the Philippine Islands, including a shoal named Panacot (inset), known today as Panatag or Scarborough. The map is among 134 original maps dating from the Spanish colonial period on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.
MANILA, Philippines – Maps dating back to the early Spanish colonial period, which were the standard references for explorers and travelers and acknowledged by governments and regimes, clearly show Panatag Shoal, also called Panacot, just off the Philippine coast.
The maps are among 134 original maps on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The exhibit, “Three Hundred Years of Philippine Maps,” features maps of the archipelago from 1598 to the American colonial era.
The exhibit is part of the celebration of Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day on June 30.
Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde’s 18th century “Mapa de las Islas Filipinas” clearly shows Panatag Shoal lying just across Zambales.
The Jesuit Murillo was given the task by Gov. Fernando Valdes Tamon in 1732 to execute a Royal decree on the mapping of the Philippines, which was then a territory of Spain.
Two years later, a complete map of the Philippines was conceived.
The engraver was Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay, described on the bottom of the map as an “indio tagalo.”
A smaller version of the map was made in 1744 and published in Murillo’s 1749 history of the Jesuit province. Fr. Miguel Selga, SJ in his bicentennial monograph in 1934, enumerated 125 important islands found in both maps.
Both show Panatag, then called Panacot. It was also called Bajo de Masinloc.
The plates of Murillo’s map disappeared when British invaders looted Manila in 1762-1764.
The name Bajo de Masinloc was a name given to the shoal by the Spanish colonizers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pinas’ King of Comedy is Dead, But Pinoy Comedy Lives On


A Cup O’ Kapeng Barako
By Jesse Jose
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”  — Dolphy
Dolphy is dead.
The King of Philippine comedy is no longer with us.  He’s been called home to the Lord.  May he rest in peace.  He was 84.  Every Filipino all over the world knew of him.  I knew of him when I was still a school kid at Rafael Palma Elementary in San Andres Bukid, Manila, way back in the 50′s.  I’ve seen him in many comedy shows with Panchito.  I joined the US Navy in 1960, traveled the world, loved lots of women and fought in a war.  Years later, when I retired from the Navy and came back ”home” for a while, Dolphy was still on the scene making people laughed.  Once again, I enjoyed watching him in that true-to-life, simple, comedy show, “John en Marsha” with Nida Blanca.
In terms of comedy, he was “it.”  He was an institution.  He was a pillar.  He was a natural.  His talent in making Filipinos laughed was endearing and enduring, and his comedy endured through the years.  Decades, in fact. Panahon pa ng Hapon. 
As Ms. Charo Santos, the president of TFC’s (The Filipino Channel) ABS-CBN and host of of “Maalala Mo Kaya,” said: “Nagbigay siya ng mga ngiti at halakhak sa gitna ng mga problema.”  He gave us joy and laughter in times of trouble.
He was prolific, NOT only as a comedian, but also in “fathering” children.  He fathered 19 children from several relationships with beautiful women.  He said his children were his “pride and joy.”  He took good care of all of them.
He never married.  His latest partner of 20 years was Zsa Zsa Padilla, a gorgeous award-winning actress and popular singer and recording artist.
Goodbye, Dolphy.  Rest in peace.  Thanks for the laughter.  The Motherland sorely needed it through those years….
In honor of this great comedian, what follows is dedicated to him.  Siempre, it’s something that we Pinoys can enjoy and laugh about.  It was sent to me by a cyberspace friend, named “Doc” Lee Lagda.  When Lee sent me this piece, he wrote:
     “This is great!  To be a Pinoy is to be diverse and sometimes perverse but, most important of all, to be a Pinoy is to be funny!  I think the Pinoy humor is what carries him through tough times. He knows how (ha ha ha) to laugh at himself.  PS: Make sure it’s PINOY, NOT Penoy.”
Here it is, Dear Readers.  It’s titled, “Are you a Pinoy, enjoy, don’t be a Penoy.”
Pinoy is what Filipinos call each other, a term of endearment. You’re Pinoyfrom Pilipino just like you’re tisoy from mestizo or chinoyfrom chino.
It’s a nickname just as Minoy is from Maximo, Ninoy from Benigno, Tinay from Florentina and Kikay from Francisca. (But now they’re Maxi and Ben and Tintin and Cheska.)
You’ve been called indiogoo-gooNegroflip, noypits.  Or Filipino, a biscuit that is brown outside and white inside, or a word stricken from the dictionary which means “domestic.” Ay, lintik!
You’re Juan de la Cruz or Mang Pandoy. You’re common taomasa, urban poor but also Cecile Licad and Don Jaime, Jose Rizal and Tony Meloto, Shawie andPacquiao and Nick Joaquin — galing-galing!
Born
June 12, 1896, the Republicof the RP is a Gemini, good at connecting, good atloving-loving, good at texting  and interpersonal skills. Filipinos like to yakap,akbayhawak, kalong, kalabit. We sleep side-by-side, siping-siping, we go outkabit-kabit.
There’s lots of us to go around. Someone always to listen to a sob story, even in a jeepney, to share-a load or to share a TV.
Pinoy family extends beyond nanay, tatay and anak. It includes lolo,lola, tito, tita, and so on….
Who has a hipag, a bayaw, a bilas, a balae, a kinakapatid? Who has an ate,dete, diche, kuya, diko? The maids call her atethe driver calls him kuya and everybody is tito or tita.
Who has a Lola Baby, a Tito Totoy, a bosing called Sir Peewee, his wife Ma’am Lovely and their kids Cla Cla and Cring Cring?
The Pinoy lives in a “condo”, a mansion, an apartment, a bahay na bato, ilalim ng tulay, Luneta, Forbes Park , –and Paris , too!

He’s a citizen of the world
, he’s in all the villages and capitals, colonizing the West, bringing his guitar and his bagoong, his walis na tingting, his tabo, hislolo and lola.
Where there’s a beat, there’s a Pinoy. You’ll find her singing in a nightclub in any Asian city, a musical in London , the Opera House in Sydney . Sure, they’ve got the infrastructure, the theaters and architecture. Who but Pinoysdirect their plays, or trains their company managers, and imports our teachers, by the way?
Viagra to Victoria ‘s Secret:
Look at that baggage-all pasalubong, none for herself. From bedsheet to hair color, Toblerone to carpet, Viagra to paella pan, Victoria’s Secret to microwave.
Hey, Joe, don’t envy me ’cause I’m brown, you’ll get ultra violet from that sun and turn red not brown.
Just lucky, I guess. GOD put us all in the oven, but some were uncooked and some were burned, but me, I came out golden brown!
Hey, Kristoff! Hoy David and Ann!
Your Pinoy yaya makes your kids gentler, more obedient, she teaches them how to pray. Hey Big Brother! Hey Grandma Moses! Who but Pinoy nurses make your sick days easier all the way?
We made the jeepney, the karaoke, the fluorescent bulb, the moon buggy. We invented People Power and crispy pata; popularized virgin coconut oil, scaled the Everest and made it with Cebu furniture abroad among the best. Ever trying for the Guinness World, with the longest swim of a child, the longest kiss, thelongest longanisa.
The Philippines’ King of Comedy is dead, but Pinoy Comedy lives on.  As Dolphy once said: “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”  So be Pinoy, enjoy.  Okey ngarud, that’s all.  JJ

Monday, July 23, 2012

Maids to the World, Saviors of Our Nation


By Leandro D.  Quintana
My February 4th item titled “From Teachers to Maids, the ‘New’ Filipino Diaspora” attracted many comments sent to me via email. In the article I promised to write more follow up stories on their experiences. Here are some of them.
I was in Hong Kong in 1999 and had several ‘encounters’ with countrymen who are there as domestic help. The first one I met at a small souvenir-electronic store in Kowloon City, near the old airport. I was asking the vendor for the price of an item. The Chinese lady spoke no English. She waved at a girl dusting merchandise inside the store who then came out and spoke to me in English. She was Filipina. She did not realize I spoke Tagalog and flashed a big smile when she heard me talk. I had lost interest in the merchandise and instead started asking her questions.
I asked her how she got a visa to work in a Chinese business establishment. Very carefully and in hushed tones she explained that she was here as a domestic worker. The people who owned the store had an elderly parent that needed attention when no one else in the family was available. She also did usual domestic chores like cooking, laundry and cleaning house. She said the old lady she was caring for had a small bedroom enough for one single bed and a dresser.  She had to sleep on the floor.
“May unan pero walang banig,” she said amusedly. Her luck changed, she said, when her employers realized that she not only spoke English but was also good with figures, was facile with the calculator and had accounting skills. They then asked her to spend most of her time in the store, and, on her seventh day, Sunday, if she worked she would get extra pay. She was overjoyed, of course.
As it turns out she finished a 4 year business course in one of the colleges in Bicol. She said she tried to find a job at a bank or an office but could find none. She said that to get employed she needed ‘connections’ which she did not have. And the pay level at those jobs? 6,000 pesos a month to start with and maybe expect an increase of another 500 pesos after a year. So with whatever money she could raise from savings, selling the pigs and chicken her family raised, she boarded a bus to Manila and pursued a foreign job as a domestic. It took her 4 months, and a few thousand pesos which her parents had to borrow from neighbors and friends, but she finally got her paperwork and ticket for Hong Kong. She was overjoyed. She signed a contract and an agreement to pay the employment/travel agency who got her the assignment $1500.00 within 12 months, the amounts deducted each month directly from her salary. Her contract called for a salary of $500.00 a month. She was ecstatic over her new found fortune, even if her net pay was only $375.00 a month because of what she had to pay the agency. She kept $75.00 for herself and the rest went to her parents to pay off their debts and help finance the education of her siblings.
That evening, our host from Cathay Pacific, took us to the Hong Kong island side for dinner, after which we gravitated to the “La Bamba” night club. Before getting there we passed a 7-11 convenience store. I broke away from our group to buy mints and gum. My real intent was to speak to a group of Filipino men sitting, hunched on the pavement at the side of the store. I engaged them in conversation. They said they too were domestic workers hired to clean apartment buildings. It was their night off and the only entertainment they could afford was meeting friends and having beers at the 7-11.
“We work hard and this is our only way of passing the time on our night off,” one of the men said. They said they did not have money to go dancing in night clubs and even if they did they said they were “not allowed” entrance into those places.
“We are lonely and we are sad,” one of them said, “and we are treated like slaves and ‘low class’ people”, he lamented.
Inside the night club there were ‘hostesses’ and some of them were Filipinas. I spoke with a couple of them and they said they came as domestic workers and are still classified as such but they made more money working in the club.
“How would your families in the Philippines react if they knew this is where you work,” I asked. We don’t tell them, they said.
“What our families back home expect from us keeps increasing. They want shoes, appliances, clothes, cameras and at the same time want us to keep sending them money” one explained. We can’t do that on a maid’s salary, she added.
Later that year I was in Barcelona on vacation and stayed at a small hotel located in the residential area of the city. This enabled me to use public transportation and mingle with the local population, doing what they do in their daily lives. It is a great way to ‘absorb’ the local culture, so to speak. On one of these bus trips to the “Ramblas”, the blocks long central plaza lined with shops, restaurants and street vendors and artists, I sat next to a couple of Filipinas with whom I engaged in a conversation about their lives and work.
They were both happy to be working in Spain. Both worked for families with small children. One of the two had a teaching degree from a school in Cebu while the other was a history major from Cavite. They said that aside from the usual domestic work they also helped the kids with their homework in subjects such as math and English. They said their employers also liked them because they were familiar with certain Castillian words that sprinkle our Philippine dialects, making communications much easier as compared to workers from Indonesia or Sri Langka. They had a six day work week and were off on Sundays. They said they used to go meet other Filipinas on their off days but recently they have taken a “second job”. On Sundays they each go to a home and do a thorough ceiling to floor cleaning job that takes about 10 hours but allows them to earn an extra $150.00 per week. They said they now look forward to going home because they had enough money to lavish on their families. Given the experience of most overseas workers doing domestic helper work they seemed to be exception.
In 2009 the 8 million overseas workers remitted some $ 17 billion, which comes to be about 10 to 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, a hefty contribution indeed. Unfortunately many of the 8 million end up paying a hefty personal price as well.
The sadness, loneliness, the aches and pains of servile employment are probably not worth it but in many cases they have no choice. Families rely on their remittances and in a way they have helped to save the nation.
(Ldq44@aol.com)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

China’s ‘gunboat diplomacy’


PerryScope
By Perry Diaz
Photo of Chinese guided missile frigate 560 that was reportedly grounded near Half Moon Shoal (Hasa-Hasa Shoal) 69 miles west of Palawan (SOURCE: NAMRIA MAP/CHINA-DEFENSE. BLOGSPOT.COM)
“China frigate leaves shoal: Palace happy,” said a huge electronic billboard, which I saw on the way to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to catch a plane home last July 16, 2012. The news of a grounded guided missile Chinese frigate near Half Moon Shoal (Hasa-Hasa Shoal) in the Spratly archipelago, 69 miles west of Palawan, raised the tension level between the Philippines and China ever since the latter declared the entire West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) an extension of her territorial continental shelf in 2010.  And China made it crystal clear that this vast body of water — rich in oil and natural gas deposits — is a “core national interest,” which in diplomatic parlance means “non-negotiable.”
China’s military buildup  
And to make sure that everybody — including the United States — knows that she is serious about her stand on the issue, China is building a naval force that would make her the dominant sea power in Asia-Pacific by 2020.  And to let everybody know that she means business, she acquired an old aircraft carrier from Russia and retrofitted it with state-of-the-art technology and is now undergoing sea trials.
China is also building two humongous aircraft carriers, which would give her the ability to “defend” her territorial waters from anyone including the United States who recently announced that she would shift 60% of her naval forces to Asia-Pacific by 2020.
With 11 existing aircraft carriers and a new one — the super aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford — projected to be completed within a few years and operational by 2020, that means that the U.S. could deploy seven carrier battle groups to cover the entire Asia-Pacific region including the geostrategic Indian Ocean.
“String of Pearls”
In theory, if armed hostility broke out between the United States and China, the former could block all the choke points along the “String of Pearls” sea lines of communication that extends from Hong Kong by way of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), through the strategic Strait of Malacca across the Indian Ocean, and through the Strait of Hormuz to Iran in the Persian Gulf; and to the Red Sea to Port Sudan where China imports 15% of her oil from West Africa.  And with long-term contracts to develop Iran’s oil fields, China’s dependence on oil from that region makes it imperative that she defends the “String of Pearls” at all costs.
To do so, China needs to develop economic-military relationships with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Maldives, and Kenya.  It is not then surprising that U.S. has been trying to partner with India – Pakistan’s nemesis — to counter China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean.
“Gunboat diplomacy”
Cognizant of her weak position vis-à-vis the United States’ superior military power, China has to take full control of the West Philippine Sea and jump-start a pre-emptive military initiative through the use of “gunboat diplomacy” to force the South East Asian nations into submission.  The recent failure of the 45th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting to issue a joint communiqué is the result of China’s influence over some of the 10 member-nations.
As Mao Zedong was fond of saying, “Power comes from the barrel of a gun,” the current imbroglio in the West Philippine Sea is a testament to Mao’s strong influence on China’s new generation of leaders who embraced the capitalist-socialist economic system of the visionary Deng Xiaoping.  However, with all the economic progress China made during the post-Mao era, China’s new generation of leaders remain steadfast in employing Mao’s “barrel of a gun” strategy. And make no mistake; they are dedicated communist in every meaning of the word.  So, don’t expect them to deal with “democratic” countries within the framework of the norms and conventions established by the United Nations, which, ironically, China belongs to as one of only five member-countries who have veto power in the world organization’s powerful Security Council.
“Creeping invasion”
China’s intrusive and aggressive behavior during the past two decades attests to her determination to annex the entire West Philippine Sea and exercise total military and economic control over this mineral-rich region.
It is interesting to note that in 1994, two years after the Philippine Senate evicted American military bases from the country; China started her “creeping invasion” of Philippine territory in the disputed Spratly archipelago.  While the Philippine Navy was not patrolling the area around the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, 130 miles away from Palawan, due to the monsoon season, Chinese troops occupied the reef and initially built structures on stilt.  But other than lodging diplomatic protests against the incursion, the Philippine government couldn’t do much.  Today, the Panganiban Reef is fortified with permanent buildings and naval guns.  China also delineated a prohibited area within 60 miles of the reef.
Last June, after more than two months of standoff, Chinese gunboats effectively took de facto possession of the Panatag Shoal when they prevented a Philippine Coast Guard vessel and fishing boats from entering the lagoon inside the shoal.
Several weeks ago, China demanded that the Philippine government dismantle an elementary school on Pagasa Island in the Kalayaan group of islands in the Spratly archipelago.
Last July 4, the Philippines protested China’s move that virtually placed the entire West Philippine Sea including the Macclesfield Bank under the jurisdiction of a newly created city, Sansha.  Macclesfield Bank is strategically located east of the Paracel Islands.  It is also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.  Evidently, China’s action seems to signal that she is increasingly solidifying her position on all the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Appeasement
But what is strange with the latest incident in Hasa-Hasa Shoal is that the Philippine government through Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has decided not to file a diplomatic protest over the incursion, saying that the incident was probably the result of an accident.  But the question is: What is a Chinese warship — the missile-firing frigate Dongguan — doing in Philippine waters?  Isn’t that a sovereignty issue that should be addressed before China becomes more aggressive?  Or, did the Philippine government – knowing that it doesn’t have the capability to defend the country – decide that appeasing the Chinese “bully” is the country’s antidote against further incursion or  – Heaven forbid! – invasion?  Indeed, just the mere display of warships and gunboats inside Philippine territorial waters would be enough to coerce the Philippine government to acquiesce to China’s territorial claims.
And the ultimate question is: Isn’t it time for the Philippines to arm herself in anticipation of a potential armed conflict with China?  We have become too reliant and dependent on the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, which in my opinion is good only on paper.  Since the eviction of U.S. military bases from our sacred soil, do we expect Uncle Sam to come to our aid at our beck and call?  Unless, of course, we’d open our doors and welcome the U.S. military forces back.
But at the end of the day, if there is someone to defend our country, nobody could defend us better than ourselves.  If we can’t, history tells us that we would soon cease to exist as a nation.