Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Nation of Heroes

The last few days will serve as witnesses that the Philippines is a nation of heroes. Hearts gripped by pity and compassion mobilized brains and brawns into heroic action. Countless Filipino heroes rose to the occasion and selflessly braved murky floodwaters to rescue, deliver relief, and help in the cleaning up and rebuilding of flood-stricken homes and storm-ravaged lives. Kinetic monuments of heroism were erected across the nation and in other Filipino communities across the globe in the form of millions of monetary donations, relief goods, free or discounted services, equipment, vehicles and physical places, information drive, physical aid like packing and distribution of relief goods and clean up operations, and many more.

However, it is sad to say that with every glorious phenomenon the Filipino nation give rise to, the dark motives of a handful of black sheep would always painfully and exasperatingly catch the eye. It is a relief though that they are a mere minority. I hope they remain a minority come May 2010 elections.

Just a thought on Philippine-made glorious phenomena: I just thought that perhaps the death of President Cory Aquino which rekindled the flames of Filipino nationalism prefigured the heroism and voluntarism that mushroomed in answer to the Typhoon Ondoy deluge.

Anyways, speaking of Philippine heroism, please vote for Efren Penaflorida as your hero in CNN Heroes - Ordinary People, Extraordinary Impact. Please check out CNN's widget above to learn and be inspired on how Efren makes a difference in nation-building, and vote for him. He is truly a modern day Filipino hero.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rain - for the Victims of Typhoon Ondoy

It was monstrous and it prematurely swallowed the last helping of light. It belched ungraciously a deafening rumble that sent ashen clouds behind the shadows, struggling to hold back terrified tears. Gloom blankets the heavens, a black velvet drapery drawn to signal an end.

Or perhaps a beginning.
Of what, the audience may not know.

Then comes the drum roll. Softly at first, then progresses loudly into deep trance. A rhythmic pounding against the roof, the ground, the windowpane, the heart, the mind, the soul… As a sort of backstage performer, this is my cue to start pounding the keyboard…


You invade my privacy. What is it in you that set me off to write? Is it the way you taunt me to fall into a mood swing the way you mock the sky and clouds to brood and display their childish tantrums across the skies? Well, I am in no mood to be moody right now. Or is it the way you license the sky to passionately express its fury in thunder and lightning? I am not furious about anything now. Or is it the way you allow the clouds, darkly masculine they may be, to shed tears, be it as little teary-eyed drizzles, or a weeping torrent of emotions? So you coax me to express myself…

You shield my privacy. What makes me seek your refuge? Is it in the way you drench and cool down a fiery angst or your means of soothing a parched broken spirit, tenderly caressing and blowing kisses in the wind? Perhaps it is in the way you hide my sobs and mask the tumbling sorrow streaming down the windows of my soul. Or is it your non-judgmental sympathy with the heavy-hearted, soaking the clouds in heavy emotional baggage? So you think you can mask and camouflage this wet sorrow called tears by drenching us in yours? But I do not need to conceal anything right now.I do not need a tantrum buddy or crying partner right now. So why this needless outburst?

A flash of fury!!!
An awkward pause…
Roaring and rumbling!

It’s you? It’s you! You need a shoulder to cry on because the shoulder of the mountains has turned cold and lifeless, stripped off of its dignity, shamed and molested by the shameless? The outstretched arms of the trees are no longer there to embrace you.

You have nowhere to go to because the streets and its intestines are stuck in their own personal rubbish? So you literally fill our empty lives, causing us health and sanitation problems.

My shoulders are small against the enormity of your grief. And my arms will not be able to wholly embrace you and console your cascading anguish. But I will share with you this outburst just as you had mine.

We weep for the molested Mountains, undressed Forests, orphaned diminishing Creatures and the massacred Trees. We wail for Air whose purity is stained by the filth of apathy. We sob for Ozone whose very essence is afflicted by cancerous careless consumerism. We whimper for Water whose generous abundance has been abused. We moan for Mother Earth whose children shamed and dishonoured Her. We cry for the future Children of the World who may not get to know the things we cry for.

And we cry for today’s Children of the World so that they may get to know the things we cry for, and that they may cry too. Or better, to recompense for our blunders that will stop us crying…

We sob, we cry, we weep, we wail, we whimper, we moan.

Yes, Rain. Let it rain.

This was my post last July 11, 2009, written for my more personal blog. Little did I know, this rain I was invoking would come in the form of Typhoon Ondoy. The Philippines really has to start taking seriously giving respect and consideration for the environment, for Mother Earth. It should start from each of us, Filipinos, in our own little ways like throwing garbage properly. But the Philippine government has the huge responsibility in taking the lead towards this pursuit by means of proper urban planning, correct waste disposal management, strict enforcement of the anti-smoke belching and anti-illegal logging laws, among other things. Or it could be too late. Meanwhile, let us help out and donate for the victims of typhoon Ondoy. As I have mentioned in my previous post, to help, please check Manuel Quezon III's blog on How to Help. Let your generosity rain down on them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

After Typhoon-Ondoy-Caused Flood, Another Phenomenon Floods the Country

The effects of the wrath of typhoon Ondoy have been strewn all over the capital of the Philippines especially the eastern part of GMA, and in some other provinces like Bulacan and Rizal. The grim picture has been mirrored in the news on TV, the radio, and online, and in social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and in many blogs.

One of these very useful and informative blogs is that by Manuel L. Quezon III. If you need information and updates regarding hotlines, donations, how to help, or if you want to announce your need for help, or if you have some useful information to announce, etc., please check out his blog by clicking this link How to Help

After typhoon Ondoy submerged many parts of the GMA in flood, many kind-hearted Filipinos flooded the dreadful tableau with selfless voluntarism and generosity, some of whom even heroically died in the process of helping others.
While a handful of Filipinos (I think they should be disowned by the Filipino nation) had acted insensitively by posting insensitive comments about the disaster, and taking opportunity at the expense of the victims for their personal gains (politicking, over-pricing(some taxi drivers), and stealing from flooded houses), a great number of Filipinos and companies selflessly extended help for the flash flood victims. Many in the GMA volunteered to help in the rescue, distributing and organizing relief goods, sharing their resources, skills, etc, while many in other provinces who were not affected sent relief goods and donations.

Typhoon Ondoy invoked the Filipino Bayanihan spirit which seem to be a scarce commodity these days. I hope that we, Filipinos, learn from this devastating event. And I hope that the Filipino Bayanihan spirit is alive not only during extreme tragedies like this, but in our everyday Pinoy lives.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New Politics Presidential Candidate Nick Perlas Suggests Better Noynoy Aquino Path to Presidency

I am enlightened by environmentalist Nicanor Perlas' assessment that a unity brought about by a common vision and strategic agenda for the Philippines is longer-lasting than a unity against a common enemy, which is what is actually happening now with the unification of some presidentiables giving up their candidacy to give way to Noynoy to bring down the Arroyo camp candidate.

His article also revealed to me why I am still apprehensive with Noynoy's candidacy. The questions which are at the back of my mind are: Is the Liberal Party trapo? Or, at least, are there LP members who are trapo? What is the assurance that if Noynoy would win as president, some LP members would not actually be "running" the Office of the President? What is Noynoy's vision and strategic agenda for the Philippines and how does he plan to lead the country to such goals?

Anyways, he had just recently made the decision to run for the presidency. Let us give him time to sort out his plans for the Philippines. One important thing with him is that he is the presidentiable with the purest of intentions.

Nonetheless, read Nick Perlas' sensible take on Noynoy Aquino's candidacy and the kind of unity the Philippines needs by clicking Filipino Voices...

Noynoy Finally Announces His Bid for the Presidency

As "The Son" rises, is there hope for a sunshiny brand new day for the Philippines?

Eversince Senator Mar Roxas vacated LP's seat for the presidential candidacy I have been in a dilemma, and I think many Filipinos share the same state of indecision with me, of whether or not Senator Noynoy Aquino fits the bill as the President of the Philippines in 2010. Given the choices in the presidential candidates buffet table, I had no appetite to feast on any of them.

But served with a new dish, relatively foreign, since he was out of the limelight prior to his good mother's death, I am considering waiting in the buffet line. But the question that keeps on nagging me is "Can he really do it?" Sans the favorable bias that he benefited from the deaths of his parents and listening to the apprehensions of his critics and other Filipino voters, I was in doubt.

The way I see it, his proven integrity (and that of his family) is what sets him apart from the other presidentiables. Is this integrity more important than the "proven track records" of the other candidates to redeem Juan dela Cruz from his misery? We can answer this by asking another question: What really ails Juan dela Cruz?

Without batting an eyelash my answer would be "moral decay", corruption in particular, gnawing at the moral fiber of the government and our society. You beg to disagree? Think: What really makes Juan dela Cruz poor? Is it really overpopulation? Or overpopulation of crooks and relatives in the government? Why is our educational system so flawed? What cracks our roads? The list continues... But the most interesting question is: Why do a lot of politicians scramble for low-paying positions in government, willingly paying millions, if not billions, of pesos just to become a lowly "public servant"?

Conrado De Quiros' Inquirer.net column today entitled "Yes He Can" seems to answer my quandary of Noynoy's capability to become the next Philippine President. The following paragraphs are snippets of his column that made me think:

What this country needs today is not someone to manage things, it is someone to clean up things. What we need today is not someone to make a business flourish, it is someone to make a dwelling place habitable, one whose previous tenant left it in a condition only cockroaches, rats, and real-estate speculators, in ascending order of predation, can appreciate. Who better to do this than Noynoy?

Or if you persist in using the CEO image, the job at hand is CEO, but only of a company that has been bankrupted by a bunch of crooks. Whom would you hire to revive it? An efficiency freak with a long résumé but who has business interests that compete with the company, who is a known tirador or beholden to people who are, and who therefore can only be trusted to efficiently pillage some more? Or someone you can trust?

...the question “Can Noynoy do it?” is a wrong one. The real question is, “Can we do it?” To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, what we need today is to ask not what the president can do for us but what we can do for the president.

The power of a democracy does not lie in a strong leader—or heaven forbid, strong republic—it lies in a strong people...

You have to read de Quiros' entire column though, and see for yourself if you can be convinced to believe that he can. No, we can! Here is the link to Yes, He Can.

Watch Blockbuster Movies for Free

Now's the best time to sit back and relax with your loved ones at the movies.

Use your Citi Card anywhere and enjoy these blockbuster treats:
Minimum single-receipt purchase of P1,500 anywhere
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Minimum single-receipt purchase of P7,000 anywhere
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Plus Popcorn & Softdrinks for 2

Minimum single-receipt PayLite purchase of 20,000 anywhere
Get 3 Free Movie Passes worth P390
Plus Popcorn & Softdrinks for 3

For every new approved Citi One Bill enrollment
Get 2 Free Movie Passes worth P260
Plus Popcorn & Softdrinks for 2

Catch the movies you've been waiting to see because the Free Movie Pass can be redeemed until November 30, 2009.

Simply present your Citi Card together with your valid charge slip at the following participating cinemas:

Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa
Glorietta 4, Makati City
Greenbelt 3, Makati City
TriNoma, Quezon City
Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu City

Libis, Quezon City

Robinsons Ermita, Manila
Robinsons Galleria, Quezon City
Robinsons Metro East, Pasig City
Forum Robinsons Pioneer, Mandaluyong City
Robinsons Bacolod, Bacolod City
Robinsons Dasmarinas, Cavite
Robinsons Iloilo, Iloilo City
Robinsons Lipa, Batangas
Robinsons Starmills, Pampanga
Robinsons Tacloban, Leyte SHANG CINEPLEX
Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City

METRO MANILA: Bictuan, Fairview, Mall of Asia, Manila, Marikina, Megamall, Muntinlupa, North Eda/The Block, San Lazaro, South Mall, Sta. Mesa, Sucat, Taytay, The Podium, Valenzuela, plus IMAX Theaters in Mall of Asia and North Edsa

LUZON: Bacoor, Baguio, Baliwag, Batangas, Clark, Dasmarinas, Lipa, Lucena, Marilao, Molino, Naga, Pampanga, Rosales, Sta. Rosa

VISAYAS: Bacolod, Cebu, Iloilo

MINDANAO: Cagayan De Oro, Davao

There's more! You can now buy your movie tickets and Pay with Points.4
Use your Citi Rewards Points to pay for 50% of your movie tickets. The rest will be charged to your Citi Card.

So, why pay cash when you can use Rewards Points?

To qualify for the promo, cardholder must use his/her Citi Card within the promo period, whether for a straight or PayLite transaction in the Philippines.
Citi One Bill lets a cardholder charge utility bills under his/her Citi Card. To qualify for the promo, the utility must be enrolled and approved within the promo period. Call 995 9999 to enroll in Citi One Bill.
The free movie pass must be used on the same day that it is redeemed. The free movie pass is worth P130 each and the cost of the difference versus the actual screening ticket shall be for the account of the Cardholder.
Pay with Points valid for Citi Classic/Gold VISA/MasterCard and Citi Platinum VISA only. Cardholder must use Citi Rewards points to pay for up to a maximum of 50% of the price of the movie ticket. Available at Ayala Malls Cinema, Eastwood Cinema, Robinsons Movieworld and Shang Cineplex.

Per DTI-NCR Permit No. 3705, Series of 2009

from Citibank Philippines website

To check out other Citibank promos, click here.
With today's economic downturn, a lot of Filipinos settle for pirated DVD's played in their own living rooms to watch movies. Many Filipinos are resisting to buy "want" items in favor of "need" items. So maybe, to increase consumer spending through credit card use, Citibank offered this promo. Partnering with Citibank, the above mentioned cinemas are also able to increase movie watcher traffic.

Credit card users can avail of about 8.7% "savings" with Citibank's free movie pass promo. But they must be careful, lest they might end up frequenting unnecesary P1,500 purchases.

GMA NewsTV recently reported an increase in unpaid credit card debts as of June this year in the Philippines showing that consumers may be having a hard time meeting financial obligations. Moreover, it could also be that Filipinos are increasing their credit card usage to augment insufficient income stream. But credit card users must always be concious of the daunting interest rates when they do not fully pay their credit card balances every due date.

When availed rationally, the Citibank free movie pass promo is a treat for Filipinos so that they can relax and see a movie after a hard day's or week's work.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Which Man of God is Serving Which God?

One of today's top stories:

Panlilio, Padaca offer full support for Noynoy in 2010

Throwing their support behind Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio and Isabela Governor Grace Padaca on Friday announced that they will no longer join the 2010 presidential race.

"Pagkatapos ng aming pagdarasal, pakikilahok sa mga kaganapan sa ating lipunan at pag-iisip at pagkonsulta sa aming mga taga-suporta, nagpasya kaming lahat na tugunan ang tawag ng pagmamahal sa bayan, sakripisyo at pagkakaisa na pinangunahan na ni Senator Mar Roxas noong...

To read the rest of the report by MARK D. MERUEÑAS and JOHANNA CAMILLE SISANTE, please click here GMANews.TV

Meanwhile, on one side of the multi-sided Philippine political fence, another "Ed of God" vying for the Philippine presidency made a differing announcement to that of the on-leave priest. The report by Dennis Carcamo of Philstar News Service follows:

Villanueva pushing through with presidential bid

MANILA, Philippines – Jesus Is Lord leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva said he will pursue his presidential candidacy and will not follow the move of Sen. Mar Roxas, who two days ago gave up his 2010 bid.

“The only way to achieve Bangon Pilipinas’ vision of a new Philippines and platform of righteous governance is to stay in the race,” Villanueva said in a statement.

Although he respects Roxas' decision, Villanueva -- also the head of the political party Bangon Pilipinas – said the Liberal Party head's move will not dissuade him from pushing through with his plans for the country.

"The Liberal Party’s move does not influence Bangon Pilipinas' own plans,” he added.

Roxas earlier withdrew from the presidential race to give way to partymate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

In a radio interview, Villanueva said Bangon Pilipinas offers voters a “true alternative” in the 2010 polls.


In one of the previous front-page reports of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a comment to this effect was written: GMA must be so bad, several "Men of God" want to run for president. It is part funny, part exasperating, and perhaps partly true.

But another thing that is both funny but exasperating is the propensity for disunity of Filipinos, especially among different organizations, despite the commonality of their professed good intentions.

Take for example the several separate group or cause websites for Cory Aquino, or for the Philippines (not just Definitely Filipino), or for Cebu, popping up in Facebook. More or less they share similar objectives, why can they not volt in as one big ultra electromagnetic machine, like the five special earth defense agents of Voltes V, to effect a greater impact.

In like manner, the Philippines is in dire need of a consortium of opposition parties and candidates which carry the banner for reform for the restitution of the moral fiber of the now decadent Philippine political system and leadership.

While Noynoy discerns for a big decision, perhaps the biggest in his life, many Filipinos contemplate whether he is already The One, or not. But in the meantime, with the turn of events, we get a glimpse of who to cross out in our list of our presidential bets, thus, making the decision process less difficult. If we read between the lines quoted from the other opposition parties reacting to the foregoing of Mar Roxas' presidential bid in favor of Noynoy Aquino, there are hints of how their professed messianic intentions for the Philippines tilt toward the deliverance of their respective parties rather than for the entire damned nation.

I beg of you, always be on the lookout, Pinoys!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mar of the Hour

Senator Manuel Roxas II is definitely the Man of the Hour for his gentlemanly act of vacating and offering the seat for presidential candidacy to his partymate Senator Benigno Aquino III. This is one move I had been waiting for from the other presidential wanna-be's preaching reform and change. Almost everyone is appreciative and full of praise for what Korina Sanchez's fiance' did, save for the negative and vague comment from Malacanang. Well, this unity is, afterall, intended to dismount this administration's pack of wolves'greedy grip to power.

For some reasons, I was a Mr. Palengke fan. But after months of seeing Mr. Palengke-transformed to Mr. Padyak TV ads everyday, he lost me as part of his voting market. But his recent move probably gained him my vote for his vice presidency.

However, one point running in my mind that keep on nagging me all day long is people's comment about his "sacrifice". In the first place, if the intentions of those running for president are really pure, it would already be a sacrifice to run for presidency, if indeed, the real intention is public service. But if it is just political ambition, and he stepped down from his candidacy to give it to Noynoy, now that is sacrifice. To give up his candidacy is not really that great a sacrifice.So the question is, was his intention to run only a personal political ambition considering that he sees his stepping down as a sacrifice? Or is the sacrifice he is referring to is the humongous cost of his premature politcal ads? I also hope that this sacrifice is beyond the sacrifice for the unity of the Liberal Party only, in the same manner that I wish opposition candidates would be selfless enough to forego their candidacy for the welfare of the Philippines and not just for their respective parties.

What would be a greater sacrifice, giving up a political ambition the realization of which is yet very uncertain? Or giving up a relatively serene political life after all his family had gone through in the previous years, cutting short the grieiving period for a lost beloved mother, and perhaps postponing a possible forthcoming tying the knot with a loved one?

If our presidential candidates see the Philippine presidency as a royal throne, then foregoing an opportunity to sit on it is ultimately a sacrifice. But if our presidential candidates see the Philippine Presidency as a humble public servant's workbench, then stepping down from candidacy would not be that huge a sacrifice.

Whatever their original intentions for running are, I hope that the other opposition candidates, especially those clamoring for reform, will set aside this desire to sit on the royal throne and selflessly roll out the red carpet for the one they think our country badly needs. Mar has already set the stage...

Roxas lauded for sacrificing 2010 bid

Roxas lauded for sacrificing 2010 bid
from abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA - Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II drew praise for his announcement on Tuesday withdrawing from the presidential race in 2010, with many saying he showed integrity and selflessness in his decision.

"The decison of Sen. Mar Roxas to give way to Sen. Noynoy Aquino is a display of gallantry and patriotism, a sacrifice brought about by his genuine concern for the Republic over and above his own interest," Bukidnon Rep. Ruffy Biazon said in a text message to ABS--CBN News.

"His act is consistent with his battlecry of 'hindi ko kayo pababayaan,' showing that indeed, he has taken care of the welfare of the Filipinos by giving in to their clamor," Biazon added.

"The Black and White Movement salutes Senator Roxas for his statesmanship and selflessness. Senator Mar has demonstrated tonight that his ultimate objective is to be a servant leader by being prepared to follow even at the cost of his campaign to lead the country," the Black and White Movement said in a statement.

"This is a reminder for all of us that when country comes first, all other decisions and considerations easily follow," the statement added.

Meanwhile, partymate Senator Francis Pangilinan lauded Roxas's decision, saying he displayed "supreme statesmanship" with his move.

"Senator Roxas displayed supreme statesmanship with this move. We laud his recognition of the country's need for reform over individual ambition. This display of sacrifice is what our countrymen yearn for," Pangilinan said in a statement.

Pangilinan also reiterated that he is ready to sacrifice his own plans for the sake of the country.

"Gaya ng nasabi natin, pati ako handang isakripisyo ang aking mga plano para sa bayan. Mas importante ang kinabukasan ng Pilipinas kaysa sariling interes. Sa pagpapakita ng sakripisyo ni senador Roxas, naging huwaran ito ng paglilingkod at pag-aalay ng sarili para sa ating mga kababayan," he added.

Pangilinan added that Roxas' announcement will help unite a reform-oriented front towards genuine political reform.

Other parties weigh in

Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel said their group also lauds Roxas's decision, saying the move shows "political maturity."

"Hinahangaan namin ang desisyon ni Sen Mar Roxas ang pagbigay daan niya kay Sen Noynoy Aquino ay nagpapakita ng political maturity, pagrespeto sa kagustuhan ng nakakarami, at pagmamahal sa bayan," the statement read.

"We know that this has been a hard decision but it is a brave one - to withdraw from a presidential race in favor of party unity is a grand and noble act," Baraquel added.

Meanwhile, the Nacionalista Party congratulated Roxas for showing "character and integrity" for giving way to Aquino.

"The Nacionalista Party welcomes the entry of Senator Noynoy Aquino into the presidential race. In the same light, we congratulate Mar Roxas for showing character and integrity in accepting the challenge of giving way to Senator Aquino," a statement from the NP said.

"We, the Nacionalista understand that this is an internal party matter best left to the members of the Liberal Party whom they see fit to run for President. The NP is currently in the middle of its own preparations for the challenges that lay ahead in 2010," the NP statement added.

United Opposition (UNO) president and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, meanwhile, said the LP president has shown "admirable humility" with the decision.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for Sen. Mar Roxas. He has sacrificed his personal goals for a higher interest. I am sure this has been a difficult decision for him, but he has shown admirable humility," Binay said in a statement.

"I remain optimistic that the opposition will be able to rally behind a common presidential candidate for the 2010 election. With the withdrawal of Sen. Roxas, there is all the more reason for opposition parties and personalities to sit down and address the issue," he added.

However, Malacañang said this decision by Roxas could "complicate" matters for the opposition.

"It's a very interesting development. It wil definitely complicate matters further for the opposition more than it will affect the administration coalition," a text message from Presidential Adviser Gabby Claudio said.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Thick Must a Philippine President’s Skin Be?

To go about her duties as the highest leader of the Republic of the Philippines, it is essential for the President of the Philippines to have layers of security personnel around her to shield her from physical attacks. A threat to her life is a subsequent breach of security to the Philippines. Such a position earned her a large group of political allies, but at the same time a number of foes whose self-restraint may not be adequate to stop them from translating their grievances against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into physical aggression.
But what if the attacks are non- physical?

With the successive blows by media against PGMA’s controversial Le Cirque dinner, an army fought a relatively long verbal battle in the frontier. In my previous blog I call them Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Damage Control Team, in the persons of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, legal adviser Atty. Romy Macalintal,Presidential Spokesperson Lorelie Fajardo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita ...., to name a few I have identified. The weapon they used that struck my funny bone most was Atty. Makalintal’s “tu quo que”.

Despite this “populated” defense team, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was vulnerable to the attacks and media this time commented on her being onion-skinned despite being in the public office for several years already. Media people reasoned that taking a seat in public office, the highest seat at that (not necessarily because she is short and needs a high chair) she must be accountable to the people she sits in front of. And true enough, the verbal bullet landed on target. Arroyo’s camp promised that there will be no more Le Cirque dinners and a smaller contingent will be joining her when she goes back to New York in September. The outer crust must have crumbled.

Or perhaps she must have heeded the suggestion of Ralph Pena, artistic director, Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York, to moisturize. When asked to define or explain delicadeza by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug. 23, 2009), he said, “Delicadeza is about moisturizing daily. When you moisturize daily, you lessen the chances of developing thick, calloused skin. This can have several benefits: a) Pick qualified National Artists, b) Say “no” to Bacchanalian excesses abroad, since most of the people you are supposed to lead are living below the poverty line, c) Excuse yourself from being considered for awards when there is clear conflict of interest, d) Make you think twice, thrice, and even four times before taking credit for illustrations you did not do. That is why moisturizing daily can help instill more delicadeza.”

But the silkiness of the Philippine President’s skin had been gauged many times already, not just recently. And many times we had seen it to be thick, hard, and scaly. Probably, it has been her best defense against all the non-physical attacks, or perhaps just second to her complex networks of political allies.
So, to those who want to be President, this advice plus one more:
1) If you want something done, do it hard, do it well.
2) Don’t pussyfoot. Just do it.
3) Don’t say bad words in public.
4) Moisturize. (NEW)
5) Otherwise, develop a crocodile skin. (OLD, TRIED AND TESTED)

The most “superior” specie of the land, she being the highest leader of the Philippines, is a tiny curiosity recently under relentless microscopic scrutiny with media as the microscope by her critics, the opposition, the militant groups and the general public which includes you and me. Media may be following and magnifying her actions because that is what sells. But what if media just let her be? How will the public learn how such intriguing organism function and affect our lives? We look into the microscope not just because we are curious, but also because her actions affect us and the entire nation. So to the President of the Philippines today and in 2010, do not be surprised or feign onion-skinned if media and the public get under your skin.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Manalo Fails to Make It To the Top 15 Miss Universe Finalists

RP bet fails to make Miss Universe Top 15 finalists
08/24/2009 | 09:58 AM
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Pamela Bianca Manalo, the Philippines’ bet to the prestigious Miss Universe 2009 beauty pageant, did not make it to the Top 15 finalists vying for the highly-coveted crown.

The Philippines last won a Miss Universe title in 1973 with Margie Moran, a long drought which Manalo failed to break.

This year’s top 15 finalists include the contestants from the following countries: United States, Puerto Rico, Iceland, Albania, Czech Republic, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Sweden, Kosovo, Australia, France, Switzerland, South Africa, Croatia, and Venezuela.

The pageant is being held in the Bahamas in the South American region.

A winner will be crowned by reigning Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela.

The Associated Press reported that some 2,700 tickets had been sold by late Saturday out of the 3,100 available, according to tourism officials.

The televised event includes musical performances by Flo Rida, Heidi Montag, David Guetta and Kelly Rowland. Judges include actor Dean Cain and supermodel Valeria Mazza.

Manalo, a 22-year-old native of Manila, is an advertising graduate of the Assumption College who now works as a flight attendant.

She is the sister of Katherine Anne Manalo, a Top 10 finalist in the Miss World pageant in 2002. Bianca Manalo is also the niece of Nini Ramos-Licaros, who was a Miss International semi-finalist in 1968. - with reports from AP, GMANews.TV

It is disappointing to listen to Billy Bush and Claudia Jordan announce the last of the Miss Universe contestants who made it to the list of the 15 finalists and not hearing the name of Miss Bianca Manalo announced. Despite not making it to the Miss Universe Top 15 finalists, Manalo remains composed and gracious in accepting defeat. For many Filipinos, especially those who had witnessed the Miss Universe pageant in the Bahamas, she reamains our Miss Universe because after all, she is the country's reigning Bb. Pilipinas-Universe.

Indeed, beauty is subjective. In this year's Miss Universe pageant, the judges tend to prefer the Caucasian beauty except for Miss Dominican Republic. Not a single Asian placed in the Top 15 slots. However, the Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic bagged by Miss China and Miss Thailand, respectively, were sort of consolation to the hopeful wanna-be's.

Well, there's always next year.

Bianca Manalo and Miss Universe

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Look Who's Talking?"

They were not as lethal as Professor Snape’s “Avada Kedavra” or Sectumsempra but his defensive words sparked a vague memory of some foreign sounding phrases I learned in my Philosophy I class:

“Argumentum Ad Hominem!” and “Tu Quo Que!”

I am no expert to carelessly use such Harry Potter wizardry-sounding terms especially since my Philosophy professor’s cigarette puffs somehow clouded my learning of this cerebral subject. This is Atty. Romy Macalintal’s turf, but it came as a shock to me when he verbally pivoted the accusing finger to the media naming the networks’ (specifying ABS CBN as an example) acceptance of premature political campaign ads as also immoral vis-a-vis the controversial $20,000 Le Cirque dinner of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with her entourage amidst former Pres. Cory Aquino’s death and the widespread poverty in the country. And reminiscent of a “Philo” Identification Test, while watching Punto por Punto of Anthony Taverna, I subconsciously tagged Macalintal’s argument as this kind of fallacy.

To validate my subconscious thought, I sought the virtual memory of the internet and borrowed the

definition of About.com of such Latin terms:

· Argumentum Ad Homineman argument based on the failings of an adversary rather than on the merits of the case; a logical fallacy that involves a personal attack.

· Tu Quo Que - A type of ad hominem argument in which a person turns a charge back on his or her accuser: a logical fallacy; Latin phrase that literally means “you too” or in today’s parlance, “Look Who’s Talking!”

Quoting him through the report of ANC’s Karen Caringal (Aug 13, 2009), Atty. Macalintal delivered his tu quo que in Tagalog,

Kayo rin taga media companies, hindi ba yung moral issue is also involved dahil kung alam ninyo na yan ay mali, kung alam nyo na yan ay indirectly campaigning, kung alam na ninyo na yan pala ay imoral, bakit nyo inaadvertise? Why accept their advertisement? Hindi ba bahagi rin kayo ng pagiging immoral? (You in media companies, isn't it also a moral issue if you know it's wrong, if you know it's a form of indirect campaigning, if you already know it is immoral, then why advertise? Why accept the advertisement? Doesn't that also make you immoral?),"

Notice his first two words. Are they not somehow the Tagalog translation of “you too” or in Latin, tu quo que?

While GMA may now be wishing that to get out of this dinner controversy is as easy as spitting out what she and her entourage had luxuriously swallowed, (or simply let her damage control team do the explaining until the public appetite for details about it dies down) Atty. Macalintal may now be wishing that he can simply swallow back what he has spat out during Taverna’s phone interview. That is, if he realizes as a lawyer, that his argument to defend the morality in question behind the Le Cirque dinner of the highest-ranking official of the land with her entourage despite poverty in the Philippines: by attacking the ethics of media in accepting premature campaign ads, can be summarized in four childish words, “Look who’s talking.” Is this a sign that the Arroyo camp is running out of arguments?

Whether media is indeed unethical in gaining from the ads of the political aspirants or not (this is another topic worth discussing), the main issue here still lingers while their camp continues to dodge the clamour for transparency, and the question that still begs to be asked is: Was the S20,000-Le Cirque dinner of GMA with entourage consumed in “good taste”?

And there is more seasoning for the good lawyer to eat back what he had said. By questioning the ethics of the networks, he was also unintentionally questioning at the same time the ethics of the politicians with the ads, many of whom are from the Arroyo camp, using government funds in advertising themselves in the guise of promoting the government agency they head. It is funny how temper can roast you in your own heat.

It is one thing to judge a person’s morality; it is another to pass on verdict to a public institution’s ethical behaviour. And the Presidency is an institution that requires great ethics and propriety, a very powerful position that entails tremendous helpings of accountability to the people who entrusted her this power. An accountability which when paired with transparency can save her from such sizzling public query and scrutiny with media in the lead. Why can she not just lay out the facts in black and white if indeed she sees nothing wrong with the dinner?

What has happened to a Filipino trait they used to inculcate in our minds as students – delicadeza or the sense of propriety? It is now as alien-sounding as the curses in Rowling’s books, worse, this generation may be more familiar with these curses than the Spanish equivalent of the word propriety which this nation badly needs.

An interesting blog (http://vaes9.codedgraphic.com/posts/the_deal_with_delicadeza) about delicadeza by Eugene Alvin Villar pointed out ways of mitigating conflicts of interest:

In times when delicadeza might not be appropriate or too drastic to apply in a particular situation, there are a few other means, listed below, that can be used to help reduce the negative effects of conflicts of interest.

· Disclosure. Disclosure is probably the most popular means of mitigating conflicts of interest. By self-disclosing that you have a conflict on interest in a process you participate in, you submit yourself to the court of public opinion (or at least the stakeholders) to judge whether your actions were fair or not.

· Transparency. This is related to disclosure in that you are revealing to the public something but instead of, or in addition to, revealing to the public your conflicts of interest, you make the whole process transparent so that the public can judge for themselves whether it was conducted fairly or not.

· Third-party audit or oversight. In certain processes where expertise is needed such as in finances, conducting an audit by a third party or having an oversight committee would be a good, though expensive, way to mitigate the effects of conflicts of interest. In this method, you subject the process to independent expertise to provide an objective or authoritative proof that, despite your conflict of interest, the process was fair. You might say that this method is a very specialized case of transparency.

With the action to be taken now by our lawmakers of reviewing the use of the Presidential budget, I believe they are now implementing the third way of mitigating such conflict of interest.

If faultlessness is the qualification to be able to assess the conduct of our public officials or institutions, what will happen to check and balance since nobody is perfect, not even Tita Cory? If no one is moral enough to have the privilege to comment on what our public officials are doing, then do we just let them be and let our nation become amoral because no Filipino is moral enough to bring to our attention the things we suspect as immoral?

Another point about our morality or ethics as a nation which seemed to be put askew after the accusing finger has been pivoted is: who bears the cross of moral leadership, especially now that former Pres. Cory Aquino is gone? Should media be the forerunner of morality in the country superseding the highest leader of the land in modelling the conduct of good ethics? Is it not supposedly the 180 degrees scenario? While media plays a very vital role in our nation’s morality, but still who should we supposedly look up to (even if she is not that tall enough)?

A third matter that disturbed me about our grasp of morality is the defense of Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Board of Trustee Vergel Santos for the morality behind acceptance of media to air premature political campaign ads. He was confusing unethical and immoral with the term illegal? Is our society this numb to ethics and morality already that we easily get mixed up? (from ANC’s Top Stories)

These confusions are but symptoms of a near-fatal social disease - moral decay. What we badly need is a moral leader.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said that the media is just making a big issue out of the Le Cirque dinner. For me, there is no need for media to enlarge it because the issue in itself is already huge involving: a relatively big amount of money, the person with the biggest share of power in the land, big dinner party in a restaurant where big names dine in the Big Apple, with a big delegation, while one of the biggest mourning in the country was taking place.

A big question in ethics begs to be answered. And certainly not with a lame childish defense of “Tu Quo Que” or ”Look who’s talking!”

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Rebirth of a Filipino

Pres. Cory Aquino, Mother of Philippine Democracy, image by Desktop Inspirations

I once was a Filipino. But stricken with the only communicable form of cancer - social cancer - I breathed my last Filipino breath, while coming to blows with the malignant disease’s complications of moral decay, shame, apathy and cynicism. From then on I breathed in alien gasps that allowed me to subsist in the miasma that dominates Philippine air.

But President Cory Aquino’s death days ago gave birth to my being a Filipino once more. As I witnessed a Pinoy proud moment on TV, swathed in goose bumps, I cried in affirmation to myself that I am a Filipino and I love my country, like a newborn bathed in amniotic fluid, crying to announce to the world that he or she is alive. I am proud to be a Filipino once more. While grieving her death, many professed to have deemed her to be their mother. Perhaps they are Filipinos reborn too.

A couple of decades ago, when I was young and unscathed by the thorns of reality, the death of her husband, martyred Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., sired, while she labored and gave birth to a once dying nation. As a widow, she single-handedly mothered several prodigal sons and daughters, but the ever selfless mother that she was, she continued to love, forgive and protect them.

Now, as we, her children, lose her, it is then that we realize how much she meant to us. She united us as a family, in prayer, and in pacifying factions. She reproved us in our mischief, lived out an exemplary life for us to emulate, and was always ready to suffer and sacrifice her life just to protect us and our democracy. What more could be so motherly?

Like any loving mother who always believes in the best in her brood, she brings out the best in the Filipinos. Back then they called it the EDSA spirit or Cory magic, helping and taking care of one another during the People Power. During the past few days, this same spirit and magic filled the air that once choked my being a Filipino to death. I marvel at the voluntarism and self-discipline of the Filipino people, patiently waiting in an unending queue for their turn to bid their beloved mother goodbye. Nowadays, patience is a trait as endangered a species as the Tamaraw, of a people who bully each other as they maneuver their busy lives in traffic-jammed streets and highways and who bribe their way just to avoid a red tape piled up by bureaucracy in government offices. Mundane, and sometimes petty, but very telling of the moral decay. During this glorious moment, let's skip the mention of grosser symptoms

I did not expect to live the day that I can be proud, even for just a moment, that the Marcoses are Filipinos. But when they braved the uncharted yellow sea of people that encompassed the territory of their clan’s nemesis to sincerely offer their sympathies, and were received by the Aquinos with graciousness that was President Cory’s, boy, it makes me even prouder that I am a Filipino. But then again, a handful of black sheep in the Filipino family would always bleat exasperatingly somewhere, the true color of their wool conspicuously showing. But they are also not worth mentioning here, lest I suffocate in my freshly-recovered Filipino breath.

In her deathbed she bequeathed to us the greatest legacy a national mother could ever give – Democracy, and the noble heritage of her entire moral estate – Love of God, Love of Country, Integrity and Character, Courage, Humility, Moral and Principled Leadership, Sincerity, Simplicity, Undying Faith in God and the Filipino people, and many more unaccounted yet by the family bookkeeper. It is this democracy that we enjoy, sometimes take for granted, and is being threatened today. It is the same blood-stained democracy through which she lost her dear Ninoy, and a legacy she so guarded with her own life. I hope that the past days’ events brightened by Cory’s yellow will not fade into brown oblivion in some hidden dusty family album. May we truly guard and live out the legacy and inheritance President Cory Aquino had given us so that we may truly deserve what the Aquino couple declared: “The Filipinos are worth dying for.”

I once was a sickly alien in the land I mentally deserted. But soothed by a mother’s love and afflicted with a very contagious outbreak of nationalism, I exhaled my last alien gasp and panted for that Filipino breath to breathe in the Philippine air sweetly scented by a yellow stargazer that is subduing the stench of the nation's socio-political and cultural pollution. And so I breathe again as a Filipino...

Filipinos, please help in resuscitating the Philippines.

Thursday, July 23, 2009